“Mom, I’m a PA. I’m not a nanny,” I grumbled. “I don’t know the first thing about kids.”
“Think of it this way, honey…you’re just a PA to a much smaller client.”
I rolled my eyes and picked up the job description. She had to be insane—this was nothing at all like a normal run-of-the-mill PA job.
“Mom, I didn’t work to entertain my last client.”
Mom’s eyes narrowed, and she walked passed me briskly, taking the bound folder from me.
“No, but if he had his way, that would have been what he wanted. Why do you think he restructured and sold the company? He realized he couldn’t get what he wanted from you.”
I frowned and shook my head. Was she really insinuating Mr. Jones, who was forty years my senior, wanted to sleep with me? He was sixty-four, for goodness’ sake.
“Honey, you’re a beautiful girl. You inherited your father’s height, his long legs, and you have my looks. I was Miss—”
“Rhode Island. Yes, Mom, I know.” I finished her sentence and walked into the kitchen, where she held out the job description.
“It’ll only be for three months, and you’ll really help me win the favor of Mr. Coran’s company if you get the job. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think you could do it.”
I glanced over the booklet. It was thorough right down to a timetable. A seven-year-old girl with a timetable?
She barely had a moment to breathe in between school and the after-school dance lessons.
With a sigh, I looked up at Mom and smiled. “Fine, I’ll go for the job. But only because you need to do business with Coran’s company.”
“That’s my girl.” Mom smiled back and walked over to the phone.
I placed the booklet down and promised myself that if I got the job, I’d let her have free time.
My entire childhood was so structured that at nine years old, when my dad died, I barely knew him. It was no way to live.
“I’d better call, I guess,” I said, rolling my eyes as Mom handed me the phone.
“Yes. He needs someone urgently. The last Nanny left suddenly.”
I dialed the number on the front cover of the booklet and waited for the call to connect.
Mom stood over me, watching me like an eagle. I didn’t blame her.
Getting this contract for her company meant becoming a partner—something she had been striving for since I was born—and she deserved it.
“Mr. Coran’s office, Cecily speaking. How can I help?” The girl on the other end of the phone answered.
She sounded cheerful, and for a moment, I was jealous of the fact she had a job doing the exact thing I had done since I graduated with my business degree.
“I would like to apply for the position to be the nanny of Mr. Coran’s daughter.”
The woman paused for a moment. “Putting you through to Mr. Coran… May I please have your name?”
“Felicity Taylor,” I murmured.
There was silence for about ten seconds, and then suddenly, the phone picked up. “Yes, Ms. Taylor, I understand you are interested in the Nanny position.”
“Well, have you had experience with children?”
“No, sir, but I am a quick learner, and I was a child once.” I closed my eyes and shook my head. Now was not the time for joking.
“Was that meant to be funny?” he replied, sounding less than amused.
“Look, I’m desperate. If you can come to my house at 6 p.m. tonight for an interview, I will consider you. But please try not to waste my time, Ms. Taylor.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Six o’clock, Ms. Taylor. Don’t be late.”
He hung up, and I looked up at Mom. She was frowning.
“Felicity! Your sass may pass with me, but you can’t expect the CEO of CoranCorp to be the same.”
“I know, Mom, sorry. He still gave me the interview though.”
I smiled and handed the phone over. “Yes, he did. But don’t hold your breath. He sounds incredibly hard to please.”
“Just try, honey.”
For Mom, I would try anything. She had single-handedly raised me for fifteen years. It hadn’t been easy, but she had persevered.
She deserved payoff for her hard work. She deserved to become a partner at Jean, Loader and Associates.
By the time 5:30 p.m. rolled around, I had dressed myself in normal office attire: a black pencil skirt, white shirt, and a crisp, ironed blazer.
“You’re wearing that?” Mom asked as I walked toward the door.
“It may be a job as a nanny, Mother, but the man is used to seeing businesswomen. Perhaps I’d do well to appeal to his business side considering I have no experience with actual children.”
“Mom, it’ll be fine. I’ll do my very best.”
I walked to the door and picked up my handbag.
“Good luck, Felicity!”
“Thanks, Mom,” I replied, wrapping my hand around the cool-to-the-touch silver doorknob. I walked out the door and across the wooden porch.
I’d lived on the ranch with Mom my entire life. After Dad died, I promised myself I’d always take care of her.
It was true I’d almost put my life on hold.
Graduating at the top of my class had earned me job offers from all over the country, but I chose to stay here.
If I got the job, it would be the first time I’d stayed away for longer than a week.
I got in my car and drove. The Coran mansion was down the road, on the outskirts of town.
I’d driven past it every day since I graduated high school.
My stomach swirled as I approached the driveway.
I had never really been a shy person, but the thought of being confronted by the billionaire mogul who was well-known for his icy personality was slightly daunting.
I turned in to the driveway and pressed the buzzer on the security gate.
“State your name, please.”
“Felicity Taylor,” I replied, speaking into the small gray box to my left.
“Very well, Ms. Taylor,” the man’s voice replied. It wasn’t Mr. Coran, but I was hardly surprised. With a house as big as this, he probably had a full staff roster.
The gate opened, and slowly I drove up the driveway. I parked next to another car and then walked the rest of the way up the path until I made it to the front door.
I knocked hard against the solid wood—so hard my knuckles ached slightly.
The door opened, and a short older man smiled at me.
“You must be Ms. Taylor. Please, come in. Mr. Coran is in the study—he won’t be long.” He took me by the elbow and guided me inside. “Please wait in the living room. Molly is in there.”
“Molly?” I repeated.
“Mr. Coran’s daughter… Please tell me you read the briefing?” he said sharply. “Mr. Coran is very particular.”
“I noticed.” I frowned as I walked into the living room. “Sorry. Of course I read the briefing.”
“Good. Well, I’ll leave you two to get acquainted.” He looked at Molly and narrowed his eyes. “Be nice, Molly Coran.”
“Ugh,” Molly replied, barely looking up.
“My name is Harvey, by the way, should you need anything.”
“Thank you, Harvey.”
Harvey left, and it was just Molly and me in the great big room. It was beautifully decorated, but it didn’t take much to notice that very few family pictures were a part of that.
“What are you doing, Molly?” I asked, attempting to break the ice. “Is that homework?”
Molly remained silent and ignored that I was even there. Suddenly, I regretted my decision not to read the booklet in more detail. Perhaps Molly was mute or similar.
“You smell like flowers,” she said in a confused voice.
Molly scoffed and looked back down at her paper. I lifted my bag up and pulled out the lotus flower candle I bought for Mom’s birthday.
Her birthday was a while away, and I could always go get another.
“Do you want to see something cool?”
“Yeah, like, pretty?”
“Okay,” she said slowly.
I placed the candle down and lit the match. I lowered the match into the center, and suddenly, the middle began to spit out light and sparks.
Molly giggled and jumped back.
The candle began to turn as the petals opened, and the candle sang “Happy Birthday.”
“It’s like magic!” Molly said in awe.
“It is. I’m glad you like it.”
Molly smiled and lifted her arm off her paper. She was drawing a picture of her and her dad. Sitting on a cloud was an angel.
“That’s my Mom. She’s beautiful.”
“She really is, Molly. That’s a beautiful picture.”
Molly grabbed a blue crayon and kept drawing. I watched in awe of this little girl, wondering how she had managed to go through so many nannies.
“Ms. Taylor.” Mr. Coran’s voice rang through the big room like an echo in a cave. “I’ll see you in my study now. Molly, please head up to your room and get ready for bed.”
Molly stopped drawing and looked over at the door. “Can Ms. Taylor say good night to me, Daddy?”
I looked over at Mr. Coran. His icy blue eyes were wide as he looked at me.
“Of course she can, honey. Off you go.”
I stood there for a moment, caught off-guard by his somehow inviting smile. He looked completely unlike the tower of a man I had seen in the business magazines.
Molly ran past me, stopping to hug her father along the way. I walked out of the room and followed him up a flight of stairs. He opened a door.
“After you, Ms. Taylor.”
I walked in and waited for him to walk around to his seat. “Please sit, Ms. Taylor.”
I nodded and sat down. Looking up, I noticed his warm smile was all but gone, and his eyes were almost dark.
“Sir, please call me Felicity,” I said, trying to lighten the mood.
“Ms. Taylor, if you are successful, you will be part of my staff. Aside from Harvey, they are all called by their surnames. You will be no different.”
Mr. Coran glanced over the resume I had brought with me. “You’re a business graduate?” he questioned. “Top two percent in your class. Have the mighty fallen?”
“I was a PA for Mr. Lewis at Glow until he retired. CoranCorp bought the company and absorbed the business. Effectively, you killed my job,” I replied.
“A PA for a small sales company? These results could have had you as my PA, for goodness’ sake,” he said unapologetically
“I took what was available, sir. I wanted to be close to my mother,” I said. “But none of that matters now. I am jobless, and you have a job vacancy.”
Mr. Coran put the resume down. “You’re overqualified and yet somehow unexperienced for the job I need you to perform.”
“With all due respect, sir, I believe you’re in a bit of a bind.”
Mr. Coran’s blue eyes flickered with surprise. “You’re feisty, aren’t you, Ms. Taylor?”
“Feisty and also in a bind, Mr. Coran.”
“I’m here as a favor to my mom. She works for Jean, Loader and Associates—she has since I was born—and they’ve promised her a partnership if she can gain favor with your company in the restructure they’re planning.”
“Ah, yes, she mentioned being able to solve my childcare issue if I could take her proposal seriously. Well, I hope you can live up to her high hopes then.” He smiled, but only just.
“You’re giving me the job?”
“Ms. Taylor, I’ve hired twenty Nannies since Molly’s mother…uh, left. Twenty. That’s a little over a month per nanny. Not one of them was able to get Molly to smile like you did in the first few minutes.”
“Perhaps, against my better judgment, I want to give you the benefit of the doubt.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Just don’t burn my house down in order to gain favor with my daughter, okay?” He smiled, and this time, it was genuine.
I smiled back, surprised to find warmth in it. Mr. Coran had a sense of humor after all.
“Come. Molly wanted you to say good night. Best we do that. I will email through a timetable. You will need to move in tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” I croaked. So soon?
“Is that going to be a problem, Ms. Taylor?” He stopped at the door, his hand still over the knob.
I looked up and let my eyes glance over his steely face. “No, sir, not a problem.”
“Good, Ms. Taylor.”
We walked down the hallway until we reached a bedroom door. Mr. Coran knocked on the door.
“Molly, are you in bed?”
“Yes, Daddy. Come in.”
Mr. Coran opened the door. Molly’s room was everything a little girl could hope for. She had all the toys one could ever hope for, but almost all of it looked untouched.
She smiled up at me. “What is your name, Ms. Taylor?”
“Felicity, but you can call me Flick.”
Molly giggled as she made a flicking motion with her fingers. “Flick!” she repeated.
“Are you my nanny now?” Her eyes sparkled, and she smiled widely as she changed her glance toward her father.
“Yes, honey, Ms. Taylor is your nanny,” he replied.
“Daddy…her name is Felicity,” she insisted.
“Felicity is your nanny, Molly,” he mused.
I tried to ignore how nice it felt to hear my name on his lips. It had been a while since I’d heard a man say my name.
My last boss had only called me “dear.” On second thought, maybe Mom was right about him…
“Daddy’s name is Dominic,” Molly offered. “But no one ever calls him that.”
“All right, Molly, it’s time for bed. Ms. Taylor—”
“Felicity!” Molly interjected.
“Felicity will be moving in tomorrow. You’ll have all the time in the world together.”
“Okay, Daddy. Good night.” Mr. Coran kissed Molly on the cheek and stood up.
“Good night, Molly,” I said softly, but I was surprised by her sitting up and grabbing my hand, yanking me down for a hug.
“Good night, Flick!”
Mr. Coran and I walked out of the room. He closed the door behind him and looked at me.
“I will be at work when you arrive, so let me show you to your room now,” he said. His steely cover came back, and the almost warmth he had exhibited in the room disappeared.
We walked down the hallway to the next room. He opened the door and turned the light on.
“I’ll have some new bed linen sent in before tomorrow.”
I walked into the room. It was obnoxiously big. The room was modern, with white walls and floors. It almost seemed clinical.
“You’re welcome to bring your own items in…but as you can see, I’ve furnished the room completely.”
“This will be fine,” I replied.
“Ms. Taylor, I must warn you, if you mess this up or hurt my daughter in any way, I will use my leverage to see you blackballed in the business world.”
I frowned and looked down at the perfect white carpet, troubled by the remark that was really just a thinly disguised threat. “Mr. Coran, the last thing I would want to do is hurt an innocent little girl.”
“Good answer, Ms. Taylor. I’ll see you out.”
Mr. Coran walked me to the front door. He stood there as I walked down the steps. My footing slipped on the last stair, and I fell forward onto the concrete path.
All too quickly, my head made contact with a hard surface, and as the world faded to black, a distressed voice called my name.