This isn't a very good quality picture but I think we all know what it is...
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Chapter Three ~
When Amy got to Jackson's office the door was open. He was sitting at the desk examining some papers. She debated whether to make noise so he would know she was there, or wait until he looked up. She decided to go with making noise. She shuffled her feet on the thick carpet. Not much noise there...she cleared her throat loudly and his head jerked at the sound. An instant smile spread across his handsome face and Amy's heart did somersaults inside her chest.
"The kids are down for a nap. I've reported to your office as you requested."
"I'll be with you in just a minute. Have a seat." He pointed toward a plush leather couch against the wall and she sat down, glad to rest her shaky legs. This attraction to the new boss wasn’t a good thing and she silently vowed to work on killing it.
She looked around curiously, trying to get a feel for his personality. His office was decorated in dark browns and creams. She wondered if he'd picked out the colors himself or if he'd let a decorator have free reign.
"Is there anything I can do to help you?"
"No, it's something I have to take care of myself." There was a touch of exasperation in his voice.
"Okay, I just thought I'd offer. You look a little upset."
"It's the monthly letter I get from the children's maternal grandmother. She writes every month to remind me it's time for her stipend check."
"Why on earth would she get a stipend check from her son-in-law?"
"She informed me at Natalie's funeral I would have to pay her to continue acting as the children’s grandmother. Normally I wouldn’t discuss something of such a personal nature with you, but since you’re their nanny, I figure you’d eventually find out, anyway.”
"You're kidding me?"
"I really wish I was."
Amy's heart ached for the children. How could their own grandmother think so little of them? "Surely the children don't know of this arrangement. I mean, they're too little, right?"
"No they don't know. What kind of father do you think I am? Angela is just now starting to realize her grandmother isn't who she portrays herself to be, and I worry how it'll affect her once she learns the truth."
"You'll just have to make sure you're there for her when she does. You have to let her know you love her enough for both of you."
"I think you're going to be a great nanny. He grabbed his suit coat from the back of the leather desk chair and stood up. He swung the jacket around his body and shrugged into it in one fluid motion that set Amy's heart on another wild tattoo.
"I hope so. Your children seem to have been through a lot and I would like to alleviate some of the stress and drama."
He gestured toward the door and they left the office to finish the tour cut short by the children.
"There are some things I want to show you, as well as a few other key cards you'll need to have. I also need to give you the codes to all the different alarm systems. I have to have extra-tight security because of my financial situation. I employ four full-time guards, as well as a personal body guard for me and the children."
"I haven’t seen any guards.”
"I wanted to tell you about them first so you didn’t get scared off.” He chuckled and put his hand lightly on her back as they walked down the long hallway. "My bodyguard's name is Frank Farmer."
Her gaze flew to his to see if he was kidding. He had a wide, teasing grin on his face. "You're kidding me, aren't you?"
"Yes, I am." He laughed heartily. "The look on your face was priceless."
"I wouldn't have thought you were the type to watch something as romantic as 'the Bodyguard.'"
"Contrary to your belief, there was more to the bodyguard than romance."
Amy laughed in delight. "Your wife made you watch it, didn't she?"
"Yeah, she made me watch it. It turns out I quite liked it.”
"So you do have a romantic hiding in there somewhere." They walked companionably down the hallway toward the first alarm system.
Chester stood in the shadows of the alcove leading to the laundry room. His heart soared with happiness as he watched the two young people stroll down the hallway as if on their first date. He could already hear wedding bells. He wouldn’t have witnessed the cute scene if the head housekeeper hadn’t called and asked him to fold the laundry. He’d immediately jumped at the chance to do something for the aging Spanish maid. He'd been in love with her for years, and who knew; maybe she was beginning to like him, too. A picture of Matilda danced in his head, short, plump body and smiling dark eyes. She was his dream, no matter what others thought. He shook his head to clear it and went in to complete her request.
Amy and Jackson continued down the hall to the first set of bullet-proof glass doors. There was an alarm box to the side of it with a keypad and a fingerprint scanner.
"I'll program in a special code for you, we each have one. Pick any four numbers you want, and that'll be your own code for each of the boxes. We'll swipe your fingers to get a print because these systems require both.” He took her fingers and swiped each one through the scanner. “What four numbers?”
"Would seven, seven, seven, seven work? I want it to be something I'll be able to remember."
"It would, but you'll probably want something other than repetitious numbers. You don't want to use easy sequences, either."
"Okay, how about seven-nine-two-eight?"
"That’s fine, as long as you'll remember it in a pinch. If you're stuck in an outer area and you have to use the bathroom, you'll be sorry if you can't remember your pin." He smiled as he punched in the numbers. He glanced at her, and her heart did the now-familiar flip that set it dancing in her chest.
There was a smile in his smoldering green eyes and it warmed her heart to know he wasn't as hard as he'd first appeared. She was pretty sure that losing his wife so young, and in those circumstances, had hardened him to the man he was today, even if he hadn’t loved her romantically. She hoped to melt the ice of his heart-ache, at least somewhat. Now where had that thought come from?
"Will I use the same code at every checkpoint?"
"Yes, but we'll have to program it into each box. There are ten of them in and on the house. There's a separate one at the gate out front, and one in the back. Oh yeah, there's also one at the pool house and the tennis court. Let me call Chester and have him keep an eye on the children while we finish this up. This way you'll be getting the extensive tour."
It took the better part of three hours to finish and she was more than ready to call it a day, and it was just past one.
As they walked back to the house he asked, "Are you hungry? We could get the kids ready and take them out for a meal. It would give them a chance to get the whole family feeling.”
"That’s a great idea. Then they’ll know I'm not an old fuddy-duddy."
When they got back inside Amy ran upstairs to get ready. She threw on a pair of clean slacks and a matching blouse. She didn't normally wear make-up, but she put on a light coating of eyeliner and mascara to accentuate the blue-gray color of her eyes. By the time she was done, they were all waiting by the door.
Her face colored a pretty pink hue and Jackson Masters gave a teasing smile. "I was beginning to think we might make it by breakfast."
"I'm sorry; I thought I was being quick.”
"You were I was teasing.” He opened the front door and they all paraded outside. She held Angela's hand on one side, and Benjamin's on the other. Jackson carried Christina in a very expensive-looking car seat, swinging her gently to lull her to sleep on the way out to the car.