Chapter Seven ~
Amy went out to the play area to join Chester and the children. She could still feel the impression of that casual kiss. Her heart had finally slowed down, but her mind hadn't. Was it normal for him to go around kissing people? Somehow she doubted it. He didn't seem the type. He was a commanding presence with a seemingly stern attitude, wasn't he? That's the first impression she'd gotten, but maybe she was wrong.
As Amy arrived Chester said, "Goodness child, I thought I was going to have to come rescue you. Was he overly harsh?" Apparently he believed she'd been getting a dressing down, but he couldn’t have been more wrong.
"He didn't yell at me, Chester. He apologized for making me angry."
"You can't be serious?” Chester said in surprise. A knowing look settled over his features.
"Why are you looking at me like that?”
"I think the master is sweet on you." He threw a glance toward the gate of the play area. It was almost as if he thought the 'master' might hear him.
"I don't know Chester. He already told me it was too soon for anything of that nature."
"Did he now?" The interest was clear in his voice.
Amy hastened to reassure him, "I think maybe I'm a bit sweet on him myself, but I don't believe he returns those feelings."
"I've previously informed you that I've known him since he was born. He likes you miss, that's all there is to it. He may be trying to deny it, or even to hide it, but he does." There was certainty in his tone.
"What do you think I should do about it? Do you think I should leave?" It was a harry situation, but she dreaded something that drastic because she really didn't have anywhere else to go. Besides, he was going to start a new charity with her.
"Heavens no miss. There's no reason for you to leave." Benji ran up and gave the old man a hug before half-running, half-tripping back toward the slide.
"But I don't want to cause anymore chaos for this family. They've been through so much already." What she said made sense, but she didn't really want to convince the butler she should leave.
"That's exactly the reason you should stay, young lady. Most people wouldn't even think about the ramifications of their actions, but you do. I've seen it several times already, and you've only been here for a couple of days."
"Thank you Chester, that means a lot. If there comes a time you think I should leave, make sure to tell me, okay? I want you to promise me."
"I promise, miss. I don't think that time will ever come, but if it does, I'll be the first one to say so."
They gathered the children up and took them back inside. The rest of the day passed quickly with Amy caring for the children.
She was getting ready for bed when her phone rang. She answered, "This is Amy, what can I do for you?"
"Hello. This is Jackson, as I'm sure you're well aware." He sounded cocky with his sexy English accent.
Amy's heart sped up, and she tried her best to calm it before answering, "I am now that I've heard you're voice. I'm not a clairvoyant you know."
He chuckled on the other end. "I'm just ringing to let you know I've ordered your car. They're going to bring it by in the morning. I'm leaving for the airport right now, and I wanted to tell you before I left."
"Where are you going?" The question was out before she could keep it from slipping off her tongue. It really wasn't any of her business where he was going, other than for the benefit of the children. She only needed to know when he left and when he'd be returning.
Another chuckle sped through the phone line and he retorted, "Why, are you going to miss me? Maybe you want to call me while I'm gone?"
"No." She quickly denied the claim. She didn’t need him knowing she had a super-size crush on him. "If you're going to be gone I need to know where you are in case an emergency comes up."
"You have my cell number, don't you Mamie?"
Amy's face turned beet red and she was glad he couldn't see her at that moment. She did have his cell number, and he'd called her Mamie!
"I do have your cell number. It just slipped my mind. When will you be back sir?" She tried to sound all business-like to get the conversation back on a formal footing.
"I'll be back in a few days. After I return, I'll only be home for a couple of days before my trip to the Middle East. You remembered about that didn't you?"
"Yes, I just didn't know when it would be." She answered quickly so she wouldn’t say something else stupid. She was mentally kicking herself over her wayward tongue.
"Will you miss me, Amy?" There was a catch in his voice she hadn't heard before.
"I'm just the nanny, not your girlfriend." He was just baiting her in order to tease her because she had a crush on him and he knew it. Her face flamed blood-red again.
"Maybe someday. I'll call you in the morning." He said hollowly, and hung the phone up before she had a chance to reply.
Amy was confused. It sounded like he was disappointed in her answer, but that didn’t make sense, especially in light of the fact he’d told her point-blank it was too soon for a relationship between them. A sense of dread and foreboding fell over Amy, and she climbed into bed that night with depression as her companion.
The next morning she got up late, which immediately put her in a bad mood. She’d tossed and turned most of the night. Sleep had evaded her until the early morning hours. She ran down to the kitchen and fixed some breakfast. She made bacon, egg, cheese biscuits and hash browns for the kids and some buttered toast and bacon for her. The two older children ate in silence, seeming to somehow know she wasn’t in a talkative mood. Halfway through the meal Teenie woke up screaming bloody murder. Great. All she needed was a sick baby to make her day go better.
Two hours later Amy felt guilty about her earlier attitude. The baby was running a high fever and needed to go to the doctor. She was still crying and children’s acetaminophen had done nothing to break her fever. The two older children were unusually quiet as Amy paced back and forth with the baby. They both wore masks of worry and concern and her heart ached at their torment. They’d already lost their mother. If something happened to this baby they’d probably never recover. She wanted to take Angie’s mind off the worry because she seemed the most upset. “Could you go get me a cool wash cloth, honey?”
The child ran to the bathroom and returned a couple of minutes later with a suitably cool washcloth. It was over a hundred degrees outside today, but inside the central air kept it cool as a cucumber, and the baby was trembling uncontrollably. She should probably bathe her in lukewarm water to bring the temperature down. The pacing hadn’t helped Teenie at all and her screams were heart-wrenching. Amy looked down at her and tears flooded her eyes as the love she felt threatened to overcome her. This little babe had taken her heart from the get-go. She knew the time for a lukewarm bath was long gone. She needed to get the baby to the doctor, and right now.
She looked down at Angie again and said, “Do you want to help me get the diaper bag and stuff ready for our trip to the doctor’s office?”
“Yes, what do I do?” She sounded so grown-up Amy had to smile.
“Get the diaper bag out of cabinet beside the refrigerator. Get two bottles of milk and put them in the bag and bring it to me. Then I want you to go to your room and grab something to play with while we’re there. Could you get something for Benji, too?”
“Yes, Mamie.” She hastened toward the kitchen. She was so eager to please, and again, Amy felt her heart turn over. She’d worked as a nanny for several different households, and never had the children grown on her so quickly, and grabbed her heart strings so easily. She supposed it was because these children didn’t have a mommy. Her natural instincts had kicked in, and they were in overdrive.
The trip to the doctor’s office was hair-raising. It was difficult to concentrate on driving when a baby was screaming incessantly. “Angie honey, can you put Teenie’s pacifier back in her mouth for me?” She hated to keep leaning on the little girl, but she really didn’t have much choice, especially while she was driving.
“I did, but she won’t take it Mamie. What should I do?”
A small smile of amusement touched Amy’s lips for just a moment. The nickname had unfortunately stuck, and they were all calling her Mamie now, even Jackson.
“I guess we just have to let her cry, sweet pea. Thank you for being such a big girl and helping me today. When Teenie gets better we’ll go to the store and I’ll let you pick out a toy to show you my appreciation.”
“You don’t have to do that Mamie. I got lots of toys already. Maybe we can buy a toy for one of the homeless kids?” How did she know about the homeless kids?
“Wow Angie, that’s a really grown-up thing to do. You can still pick it out, though.” They arrived at the doctor’s office in a flurry of screaming child amid other crying children. Soon after, real chaos ensued. It turned out the pediatrician believed Teenie had the measles. Amy thought they’d been eradicated, but they hadn’t. The doctor said babies who hadn’t had their shots yet could get measles, especially if they, or someone they were in contact with had traveled to Europe or Asia.
“I thought babies couldn’t get their measles shots until around a year old.”
Dr. Henson was quick to reassure her it was true. “Her father travels frequently, doesn’t he?”
“Yes he does. He’s going to be really upset.” She would have to decide whether she would call him or not. The measles could be a serious illness, but it was also possible she would break out and it would be over. The fever was the worst part, and the baby already had one, so the spots should appear in a couple of days. Amy felt horrible because she’d thought the baby was teething. She’d had a runny nose for a couple of days, but no fever. Now she had a fever and a cough. Coupled with the runny nose and eyes, it was logical to suspect the measles, even if they weren't as prevalent as they used to be. Teenie's eyes were so red-rimmed and watery it made Amy’s eyes blur just to look at them. She felt so sorry for the sick, helpless baby who was too young to know what was wrong. She pulled her closer and gave her a warm hug. She was still crying, but had wound down to a small wail every few minutes. Soon she would be asleep with the medicine the doctor had given her. He'd been in a rush to get the fever down and end the baby's suffering. She was waiting for him to come back with some prescriptions, and then they could go home.
The doctor returned a few minutes later and told her he'd called in a prescription for antibiotics. He also told her she could get the pain/fever reducer over the counter, but handed her a sample to use until she could make it to the store. He told her the antibiotics were for secondary infection because the baby's ears were red, and he didn't want to take any chances.
"I don't think we need to admit her to the hospital just yet. She's cranky and running a fever, but her temp has gone down enough I'm confident she should handle it just fine. If she does start running a high fever that won't go down, call the emergency department and tell them you're bringing in a baby with the measles. That way they can get you back to a room as quickly as possible without risking infecting other children."
"I'll do that Dr. Henson. I am so sorry I didn't realize she had the measles. It didn't even cross my mind. I hope none of the children out there get it."
"We've already looked at the schedule and all the kids out there have already had their shots. I just hope all the parents have, too. We've got housekeeping out there spraying the whole room with disinfectant to make the people feel more at ease, but personally I think we're safe. The measles rarely ever occurs in the United States, and when it does, we usually catch it because most people have been immunized against it." He reassured her. "I want you to take Christina home and keep her there. The only reason you are to bring her out of the house is if she needs to go to the emergency room."
Teenie had finally dropped-off into a drug-induced sleep. Her breath was even except for the gasps she was still experiencing from the prolonged crying. Amy already felt immensely reassured. "Thank you Dr. Henson. You've made this experience much easier to bear, for all of us." She strapped the sleeping baby into her car seat. The doctor left and Amy grabbed Benji's hand and told Angie to grab the hem of her shirt so she knew the girl was with her. They got in the car and headed home much more at ease than when they’d arrived.
Benji and Angie both fell asleep as soon as the car started moving. Amy stopped at a fast food place and ordered everyone a meal. It had been a long day and it was the cook's day off. She wanted to spend her extra time napping so she would be wide awake and ready for when Teenie awakened and needed her. After the fast food stop she went through the drive thru at the drugstore. A short while later they were sitting around the table eating their meals. She'd pulled Chester into the kitchen with the promise of an unhealthy, but tasty, meal and they chatted quietly.
"I wouldn't have dreamed the child was sick with the measles."
"I know, I didn't even think of it. I thought the measles were gone from the U.S. I probably read about it in one of my schoolbooks, but it's been a few years and I must’ve forgotten. I thought she was teething, or had a virus."
"Now don't you go blaming it on yourself child, it isn't your fault. It was just a fluke."
"Will I get sick like Teenie?" Angie asked worriedly as she moved her French fry through a blob of ketchup on her plate.
"Nope, you're going to be just fine. You and Benji have had all your shots." She smiled inwardly that Angie had automatically picked up the pet name she'd given to the baby.
"Nope, you're going to be just fine. You and Benji have had all your shots." She smiled inwardly that Angie had automatically picked up the pet name she'd given to the baby.
"That's good. I don't want you to see how I act like a baby when I'm sick." Angie said matter-of-factly as she licked at her ketchup-covered fingers.
Amy laughed lightheartedly for the first time that day. "Everybody acts like a baby when they get sick."
"Did you call Jackson?" Chester asked quietly.
"No, I haven’t called him yet. I’m debating whether to call him at all. I would feel really intrusive if I called him and she got better." She was glad to have the chance to get Chester's opinion on the matter.
"Oh Miss, you have to call him. He doesn't like to be bothered when he's away, except if it has to do with the children. If it has to do with them, you always call." He gave a small shudder. Amy assumed that was his version of the horror that would ensue if he wasn't informed. She would call as soon as she bathed the children and put them down for the night.
"Thank you Chester. That helps a lot. I didn't know how he would react if I called and she got over it quick and in a hurry." The emotions of the day overtook her and she got up and gave Chester a hug. He sat straight as a pin for a second, then folded down and returned the hug. "It'll be okay Miss, you're a good nanny."
She pulled away and sat back down. She dabbed her eyes with her napkin and said, "Thank you, Chester. It's been a long time since anyone has taken the time to interact with me."
"Are you okay, Mamie?" Angie asked. There was concern on her small face, and even Benji had stopped eating and was looking at her intently.
"Yes I'm fine guys. Thank you for caring. Are you two finished?" She used a falsely cheerful voice.
"We're almost done Mamie." Benji said as he plopped another fry into his mouth.
A few minutes later Amy took the kids upstairs and got them ready for bed. An uneasy feeling had settled over her as she tucked Angie in and kissed her forehead lightly. She turned the light out and pulled the door almost closed. She went to her room next door; all the while feeling like someone was watching her. She went in and changed into a pair of gray sweats and a t-shirt and headed back down the steps. Halfway down she remembered she didn't have the baby monitor. She went back to her room and grabbed the little pink and white walkie-talkie-looking contraption and shoved it deep into her pocket. She wanted to get outside and take a look at her new car. With all the day's excitement it had completely slipped her mind until she'd pulled into the driveway and seen it sitting there, all dressed up like a princess, with a huge white ribbon and a bright red bow spanned across the top.
Chester met her at the door and followed her out. "I saw the car sitting here miss. It's a beauty. I've always preferred red." There was a hint of excitement in his tone and she smiled.
"Did Mr. Masters get you a car, too?" She opened the driver’s door and got in.
"Oh yes miss. He got me a black Cadillac. Of course, mine didn't have a bow wrapped across it." He snickered.
Amy playfully slapped him on the arm. "What do you think that means?" She asked in her best psychiatrist-sounding tone before bursting out in a deep, belly-laugh.
"Why, I think the fellow is sweet on you of course."
"Oh, that surely can't be true, sir." Their tone was teasing, but Amy was beginning to think it true. The car was wonderful. It was candy apple red with black interior. It had every gadget imaginable and Amy didn't think she'd ever learn how to work them all. Her inspection was cut short by the sound of Teenie's renewed screams. It was time to give her some more medicine and a snuggly hug of love. Both employees jumped out of the car and went back inside. Amy headed toward Teenie, and Chester to whatever duties called him.
They were both oblivious to the man taking pictures with a telephoto lens from across the property, high up in a tree.