Here's the new chapter, revised and full length. Thanks for reading!!
Chapter Ten ~
Jackson stayed by the children's sides all day. He laughed and played with them, showing Amy a side to him she hadn’t seen before.
It was halfway through that long afternoon when she realized she'd fallen hard for the mysterious duke/sultan/crown prince, or whatever he was. To her, he was just a loving father, and a wonderful man. He had his downfalls like everyone else, but she couldn't help how she felt. Even though she'd tried to keep herself at arm's length, it had been to no avail.
She shook her head to try to rid her brain of its musings. "Okay kids, it's time for bed. Last one upstairs is a rotten egg."
The two older children squealed in delight and ran for the steps. They tromped up the stairs with a total disregard for manners.
Jackson raced up the steps, easily catching, and then over-taking, the two children. He scooped Angie up in his arms and hugged her tightly as they laughed together. He couldn't remember ever having so much fun. Victoria had been dry and boring, and snobby to boot. He immediately felt guilty for his less-than-gracious thought and threw a prayer up to God asking forgiveness for his rudeness and lack of love for his dead wife. He found it strange he’d even thought to do so. He shrugged and tossed Angie onto her bed after opening the door, passing another new guard who sat beside her doorway. He tickled her until she begged for mercy. "I love you Angela. Don't ever doubt that baby."
"I know daddy. Amy calls me Angie. It makes me feel special." She confided shyly as she sat up and fixed her twisted pink shirt.
"Do you want me to call you Angie, too?”
"Yes, and daddy, thank you for bringing Amy here, I love her." She reached over and pecked him on the cheek, hugging him tightly for a second before letting him go.
Jackson headed to Benji's room with tears in his eyes. He tried to swipe them away so Amy wouldn't see. His children were so precious, and he didn't spend enough time with them. He walked past the guard sitting beside Benji's door and into the room. He was already bathed and dressed in Cars pajamas. He was in bed, pretending to pay attention while Amy prayed with him. Happiness went through Jackson as he realized this woman was trying to teach his children about God. He hadn't given it a second thought, but he was glad she was. Again, he wondered why it was on his mind.
He waited until the prayer was over before he cleared his throat, trying to push the tears of emotion out of his voice. "Amen, that was a good prayer Benji." He reached down and tucked his small son's feet in and hugged him tightly for a minute.
"I've got to leave now, Amy."
"I thought you weren’t leaving until tomorrow." Again, she over-stepped her bounds. She was just the nanny, not his girlfriend. He didn't have to tell her the specifics of his every move.
"I was supposed to leave day after tomorrow, but I got called in for a special assignment. I trust you with my children. I know you'll guard them with your life. I've hired extra security, as I'm sure you already know. There will be a guard at your door tonight, too." He reached up and touched her face. She just barely felt the brush of his thumb on her cheek before he let his arm drop to his side. He turned and walked away without another word. A single tear slid down Amy's face as she headed to Angie's room. She reached up and swiped it away while asking God for wisdom in this situation.
The night was a long one. She tossed, turned and could not go to sleep. She kept mulling over what was going on between her and Jackson Masters. She could still feel the spot he’d touched on her cheek. Her hand came up and touched it. She was sure would never feel the same again. She sighed and harrumphed. She turned over and punched her pillow impatiently.
Down the hall in the laundry room, a silent figure peeked out the cracked door. His hate for this house, and the people who lived here, almost consumed him. It was all he could do not to rush out and kill them all now, but he stopped himself with the promise of soon. He soundlessly shut the door and slid back out the window where he'd entered, his bag of repelling equipment heavy on his back as he worked the rope to the bottom of the cliff behind the mansion. Tomorrow the beginning of his dreams would be realized. He would get the thumb drive and kill them all, including the housekeeper. She thought he would let her family live because she’d helped him, but she was wrong. He laughed maniacally as his feet touched solid ground.
Amy gave up on sleep and hopped out of bed. She went out on her deck and sat in a chair, automatically gazing toward the big, beautiful lights overhead. In the middle of the city you couldn't see the stars like this. She was definitely in love with this house. She was definitely in love with the children. She even loved the butler. He was a great guy, and if she ever got married she hoped her kids’ grandpa would be just like him. She tried to stop the next thought that jumped into her mind, to no avail. She definitely loved Jackson Masters. She'd tried not to care for him, but she'd lost the battle. His smile popped into her head and her heart tripped in her chest. She was so lost. She shook her head. Even the thought of his smiling face in her mind caused her heart to race. His green eyes were twinkling at her in amusement in her thoughts, and she banished the image immediately. She would not let her mind travel that dark road. She sinned enough without giving herself free reign to do whatever she wanted. She sighed deeply, prayed for forgiveness, and headed back to bed, finally tired enough to sleep.
As soon as her head hit the pillow, she was wide awake again. Her thoughts honed in on her brother this time. She missed him. She missed the times they’d had together as kids. They hadn’t been like most siblings, hating each other and fighting at every opportunity. They had been close. Scott had come to her rescue in high school several times. One of the preppy football players had decided he wanted to go out with her, but she hadn’t been interested. He and his group of bullies hadn’t liked her answer, and they’d cornered her in the cafeteria one day, threatening her with all kinds of bad things. And then out of nowhere, he’d materialized. He didn’t even go to high school anymore. He attended the local community college to be close to family.
Tears flowed down her cheeks at the lost family connection. She missed him so much. What had happened to him? Did drugs change a person so much? She prayed to God, “Dear Father, bring him back to me.”
She tossed once more, punching her pillow, wishing she could sleep. The baby was sleeping, and she needed to take the opportunity to sleep, too, but it wouldn’t come. Was she supposed to be praying for someone, or something? “Dear Father, lead me and guide me if I’m supposed to be praying for someone.”
For some reason, the housekeeper popped into her head. What was up with that? “Am I supposed to pray for her?” She talked out loud in the dark of her room, as was her usual habit when she was alone. She loved talking to God. It made her feel close to Him, and no one could take that away from her. A feeling came over her. She couldn’t describe it, really. She knew she was supposed to pray for the housekeeper, just not why. She began praying for her, not knowing specifics. “Please be with her. Lead her, guide her, and keep her safe, amen.”
She turned over to her side, facing away from the door. Was the housekeeper in danger? If she was, what kind of danger was it? Amy drifted off to sleep with the questions heavy on her mind.