Chapter Two ~
Amy woke up the next morning in her rat-hole motel room and stretched lazily. Today would be the last time she'd have to deal with this dump. The faded yellow wallpaper was peeling away from the wall in places, the TV was older than the hills and the tub and sink both had dark rust-colored stains leading down to hair-clogged drains. The room was only ten dollars a night, so she shouldn't complain; lots of people couldn’t even afford that. They joined the thousands of homeless people who wandered the streets of Salt Lake City, Utah.
She hurriedly showered, dressed and packed her few belongings. She had a storage shed with more of her stuff in it she hadn't laid eyes on in almost a year. She felt a small sliver of nostalgia but shoved it to the far recesses of her mind. Now was not the time to feel sorrow. She was getting out of here and that was a reason to thank God and rejoice.
She threw her army-green book bag over her shoulder, looked around the room one last time and quietly shut the door behind her as she headed for her new life in a mansion on the rich side of town.
She smiled as she boarded the bus that would take her to the train. Soon she could leave public transportation behind, too because she could buy another car. Yes, things were definitely looking up and she smiled hugely as she found an empty seat beside an unwashed homeless man who looked to be in his early sixties.
She arrived at the estate shortly after seven a.m. and knocked on the door with the knocker, the same as the previous day. The butler answered the door wearing a similar outfit as the one he'd worn yesterday and Amy giggled as he gestured for her to come in.
"Is there something funny Miss?"
"Nope, I’m just happy to be here.”
"You can call me Chester, miss. May I call you Amy?" He asked politely. "The master treats everyone like family here. It’s better for the children."
"I'm sure it is Chester, and you can call me Amy. What happened to the last nanny?"
"The boss was rude to Ms. Strumkin, and she left the house crying, and never came back."
"How was he rude?"
The butler made an exasperated noise and said, "He told her she dressed like a mummy, and smelled like one too."
Amy giggled again. "And what did she say to that?"
"Not a word. She packed her bags and left in the middle of the day." The beginnings of a rueful smile appeared on his wrinkled face.
"Well, Mr. Masters will find me a more formidable opponent. I need this job, and what he thinks of my appearance and hygiene doesn’t matter."
"I'm going to enjoy your presence here. Mr. Masters will be here with the children around eight a.m. Please feel free to settle in until then." He disappeared down the long, cold, dark-looking hallway.
He reappeared and said, "I almost forgot to tell you, I stocked your kitchen with everything I thought you'd need. I also took the liberty of adding several cases of Dr. Pepper, I hope you don't mind."
"Oh Chester, you’re awesome. Thank you so much. I don’t know what to say." She rushed over and hugged him, glad she had an ally in this new situation.
The butler stiffened for a second, and then succumbed to the hug. He gently pulled away and said, "Here, take this pager. If you need anything, no matter how small, just buzz me."
He left and disappeared down the long, dark hallway.
Amy pulled the key card out of her pocket and slid it easily through the slot on the door. It buzzed quietly with a green light showing blue briefly before the door lock made a clicking noise, indicating it was unlocked. She went in and shut the door behind her. She couldn't believe all this was hers. She wished her parents were alive so she could share her fortunate news with them. Tears stung her eyes, but she wiped at them furiously. Her life was looking up; she couldn’t afford to dwell on the past.
Her brother Scott had gotten her parents’ home when they died and he’d refused to let her stay with him, even when she’d been out on the street with nowhere to go, and he’d shown no remorse. He used the house to cater to all his drug buddies and his baby sister didn’t fit into that lifestyle.
She shook her head in self-disgust and made her way to the kitchen. She wanted to see what Chester had provided for her. She gasped when she opened first the refrigerator, and then the freezer. They were packed full of every food she could imagine; Cheese, eggs, lunchmeat and salad fixings. Joy spread through her as she inventoried the freezer. There was steak, hamburger, Pork chops and roasts. Everything she could ever want, and way more than she'd ever eat. She moved to the pantry and peeked in the door. Every shelf was stacked full of canned goods, box dinners, breads, potatoes and snack cakes. The other side was full of garbage bags, baggies, foil, wax paper and cleaning supplies.
A big shockwave of gratitude toward God filled Amy's soul and she gave thanks to Him for sending her here. She hadn’t been praying like she should’ve lately and remorse filled her. Even when she was unfaithful, God was faithful to provide for her.
Every cupboard in the kitchen was full. The drawers were filled with towels, dish clothes and aprons. The cabinets were full of more food and every dish, pot and pan she could ever need.
An idea began to form in Amy’s mind. There was so much stuff here. She couldn't possibly use it all, and there were so many homeless people out on the streets. It was warm now, but soon it wouldn't be, and she could help those people like they’d so often helped her.
She occupied her mind with plans for donating some extra things to the homeless until she heard a noise at the front of her suite. The children were here. A small shiver of excitement filled her as she raced to the door. She smoothed her hair and wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans. She opened the door and pandemonium broke out. Introductions were made and children ran amok in the sitting room of her suite. She only got one small glance at Jackson Masters before he was shoving a baby into her arms. She couldn't decide whether the shiver of delight was caused by seeing him again, or by the feel of the baby she now held. She looked down at the beautiful little baby and said, "You must be the lovely Christina." With that first glance, she fell in love. She hugged the little one to her chest as she went in pursuit of the other two whirling dervishes. When all attempts to get their attention failed, she put two fingers in her mouth and let out a shrill whistle. Both children stopped their continual circling of the table and looked at her in surprise.
"Hey, my name is Amy, and I'm your new nanny. When I whistle, I want you both to stop what you're doing and pay attention, do you understand?" She stooped down to give the two year old a tissue out of her pocket to wipe his nose. When he took the tissue but made no move to wipe, she pulled his hand up to his nose with hers and showed him what she wanted him to do. He wiped his cute little daddy-looking nose and grinned at Amy. She impulsively hugged him and got a whiff of his diaper in the process. She stood up and asked quietly, "Why isn't this child potty-trained? Isn't he almost three years old?"
"He is almost three, and I'm ashamed to say I don't know why he isn't trained. I guess I figured Ms. Strumkin would do that as part of her job." He didn't like the way she made him feel like he was back in school and being faced with a disappointed teacher.
"Well, we'll immediately start training him before he falls behind."
"What do you mean we will start training him immediately?"
"I meant just what I said. A boy needs his Daddy to train him to pee standing up. A Daddy isn't above wiping his son's behind, no matter how rich he is." She smiled to soften the harsh-sounding words. She didn’t need to make an enemy of her employer.
"I believe I'm paying you to do that Miss Petersen." He said.
With one statement she let the wind out of his manly sails. "You are paying me to be a nanny Mr. Masters, not a parent. Your son needs you, and I can assure you if I need to do some pushing to make that happen, I'm not above doing that."
He unexpectedly threw his head back and laughed, something she was becoming used to way too quickly. "You're a tiger, now aren't you?" There was respect in his tone.
"Well, I think I'm more like a housecat, but they can be formidable if crossed, too." Amy was aware Jackson was staring at her with his green-eyed gaze. His eyes were usually Emerald, but at this moment they looked more like a stormy, churning sea. She visibly jerked and pulled her attention back to the children, which was her main objective, after-all.
"Hello Angela, my name's Amy. I'm your new nanny." She told the little girl as she reached her hand out in greeting. She was all big eyes and sad innocence and Amy felt a moment of sympathy for the poor child.
"Are you going to leave us like Miss Strumkin did?" The little girl asked.
"I certainly hope not. I hope to be like family, and family doesn't leave, now does it?" She glanced in Jackson's direction to see his reaction to her statement.
The little girl stared at Amy with big, dark eyes for a minute longer before running to her and clasping her arms around the nanny's legs. Amy's heart went out to the lonely little girl and she dropped to the floor and pulled the child in for a much needed hug. Tears sprang to her eyes and she sent an accusatory look in Jackson's direction.
"I think we're going to get along just great, Angela. Can I call you Angie?" She stood up, still holding the baby, and moved cautiously away from the older child's restraining arms. "Benji, would you like to have some juice?" She asked the toddler who was staring at her with eyes just as big as his older sister's. The difference was they were brilliant green, like Emeralds. An identical set of eyes were taking in every single thing happening in the room. They were watching the bonding of children to a nanny. Children who desperately needed a mother, someone who would be with them at all times.
"You've already won them over.” He said in astonishment as Amy reached down and grabbed Benji's pudgy little hand and drew him toward the kitchen to get the juice she'd promised him. Angie trailed behind them, a small trusting smile beginning to form on her lips.
"I should hope so; otherwise being a nanny wouldn't do me any good, now would it? A nanny has to know how to break the ice, or the children break the nanny." She'd read that in her college years, and it sounded good sliding off her lips.
"I think you’ve earned a raise already." There was respect in his tone again and she assumed he’d forgotten his earlier anger at her insistence he assist with the potty-training.
"Oh wow, I never got around to asking you how much my pay would be. I guess I was so dazzled by the property it slipped my mind."
"I was paying Ms. Strumkin a straight salary of fifty thousand a month."
Amy's mouth dropped open and she gasped audibly. "You've got to be joking."
"I am joking." He smiled. "It pays sixty five thousand a year, plus medical and dental. I’ll provide everything you’ll need, including a clothing allowance. If I’m entertaining and the children are attending, you’ll need to accompany them in something presentable.
"Is there something wrong with my clothes?” She was secretly pleased about the clothing allowance but wouldn't let him see that at the moment.
"No, but if I have a black tie affair, jeans and a t-shirt won’t do. Oh, I almost forgot. There's a mini-van out back you can use anytime you need to take the children out. Let me know what your vehicle preference is and I'll call the dealership this afternoon. I always provide a car for my employees. It saves on them telling me they can't get to work because their car won't start."
"Most of your employees live here, don't they?"
"Yes, I was teasing again. It's something I like to do. Buying my employees a new car, I mean. Makes them treat me better."
“I like Ferraris. Candy Apple Red Ferraris, to be exact." He’d teased her, not it was her turn to get a rise out of him.
Without missing a beat he said, "Perfect, I love Ferraris, too. They handle so well, don't they?"
"I was only teasing, Mr. Masters. I've never seen a real Ferrari, let alone touched or driven one.”
"You’ll get to drive one now. I'll also keep insurance on it as long as you don't cause it to rise outrageously. Are you a good driver?"
"I've never been in a wreck or had a parking ticket.”
“That’s good, you should be okay then.”
The children were getting antsy because they'd finished their drinks and were bored. When the baby finished her bottle Amy laid her in a bassinet by the table. She’d fallen sound asleep. Every room in her suite, even the bathroom, had a bassinet, and she'd seen several playpens shoved in various places, too. The butler had thought of everything and she already liked him. She hoped they’d be friends.
Now she just had to tell her new boss she’d been teasing about the car. "I was kidding about the car. Don't get me a Ferrari. I feel terrible because you thought I was serious." She swung Benji up into her arms.
He pointedly ignored her protests. "I left a folder with the children's previous schedule in it. If you want to change some things, I'll understand, as all people are different, I just ask that you make the changes slowly so the children can acclimate. They’ve been through a lot in their young lives." She saw the sadness in his eyes before he veiled it quickly from her sight. "Anyway, they take a nap at ten a.m. every morning. Angela may not sleep, but she'll play quietly in her room. That'll be a free hour for you to take care of personal things. I'll also give you one afternoon off a week. You pick the day. As soon as the kids are down for their nap, come and find me, and I'll finish showing you around. You'll need the alarm codes, and I have a few things to inform you about." He said before leaving the suite.
Amy spent the next hour or so talking to the children, learning who they were, and what they liked and disliked. She'd already begun to form a bond with these children and her heart was over-flowing with love.
The baby only cried when she needed a diaper change or a bottle. She believed she would end up having blond hair and green eyes. She wondered what their mother had looked like. There were no pictures of her around that she'd seen, but the baby was a beauty in the making.
Benji was happy as soon as she'd changed his diaper and given him a cookie and another cup of juice. He had eyes like his Daddy and she could already see he would be a mini replica of him. He was a handsome little guy.
Angela followed her around like she was afraid to let her out of her sight. She was the only one that didn't have green eyes. They were so dark they looked black. They were big and round and surrounded by long, dark, thick lashes. She was also going to be a beauty. She didn't envy Jackson Masters one little bit. He would have to stand around with a bat in his hand to ward off all the boys his little girls were going to attract.
Amy pulled herself out of her private ruminations and realized it was ten o'clock. She put the children down and went in search of her new employer. She tried to quell the nervousness that rose up in her, to no avail. She was fighting a serious crush on the man, one she would definitely have to hide, or get rid of, or both. She sighed and hurried to his office.