Copyright © 2013 Bonnie Dee
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
“Continuity is very important to us.” Dan Krefman stared at Louis with such an intent look in his dark eyes that Louis found himself automatically nodding along with his words. Continuity. Got it. Yes, sir. Right, sir. He wondered if this guy had ever been in the military. His erect bearing and direct manner suggested he may have been. Or he was just naturally rigid.
“For the children’s sake, we need to know we can count on whoever we hire to be with us for a while,” Dan’s ex-wife chimed in.
Louis recognized her as Crissi Jondalar, star of several blockbuster movies popular during the summers of his high school years. Of course, while his friends had been ogling this golden goddess of the screen, Louis had been fixated on the hard bodies of her leading men. Nearly a decade later, in her thirties, Crissi Jondalar’s beauty was honed to a sharp edge. When she glanced over at her ex-husband, her lips tightened. Louis wondered about the circumstances of the divorce.
Both the distinguished producer and the fading star looked expectantly at Louis.
“Continuity is so important for kids,” he offered to show he was paying attention. “They need to know what to expect in order to feel secure.”
It was true, but he knew kids could also get along fine with a guessing-game sort of life. He was proof of it.
“Trust is key,” Louis added sagely. He was starting to sweat, despite the shade of the umbrella over the patio table and the breeze blowing in from the ocean.
Man, he could get used to a view like this; lush plants surrounding the patio and infinity pool, and the deep blue of the ocean in the distance. Here in the hills, they were above the smog that valley dwellers choked down daily.
Louis turned his attention back to the power couple seated across the table with glasses of iced tea before them. The casual vibe of friends gathering to chat couldn’t conceal that this was an interview and he was on the grill.
“As I told you, Cara and Liam split their time between our two houses. Your presence in their lives will help bridge that gap.”
Dan Krefman’s voice was deep and rich and made the hair on Louis’s neck prickle. Something in the man’s eyes suggested secrets Louis would be happy to slowly uncover. He liked a puzzle. A challenge. But this was no time to let his overactive libido out for a run. A prospective employer was not somebody he should get hard over. This was new-leaf time with a clear separation of his business and sex lives.
“We’ve already had a couple of nannies who didn’t work out,” Crissi put in. “Everyone in this town is an aspiring something or other. Both of our previous girls quit when prospects for their acting careers came along. You don’t have intentions of becoming an actor do you, Louis?”
“Please, call me Crissi,” she corrected, “or Ms. Jondalar. ‘Ma’am’ sounds so old.”
“Sorry. I’m from Georgia originally. I was raised on ma’am and sir.”
“It’s respectful. I wouldn’t mind if our children picked up some of those Southern manners.” Mr. Krefman—who hadn’t told Louis to call him Dan—continued to study him as if searching for flaws.
Louis didn’t blame him. LA was full of crazies, and a person couldn’t be too careful about who he entrusted his kids to. A man like Dan Krefman would look thoroughly into Louis’s past, and it wouldn’t be hard to find those flaws. It was a wonder the nanny agency hadn’t uncovered them. Probably it would be best if he came clean with the Krefmans up front, but he just couldn’t blurt it out and lose this chance to start over.
“I’m not doing this while I search for something better,” Louis said. “I tried acting and gave it up. It’s not for me. I honestly care about children and helping families with working parents function as smoothly as possible.”
Crissi tapped a manicured finger against her perspiring glass of tea. “Of course, we’ll want to see how you interact with Cara and Liam. We’ll schedule a play date and evaluate how that goes. I understand this would be your first posting. I have to say, I’m a little hesitant to hire someone so inexperienced.”
“I may not have been a nanny before, but I know how to raise kids.” Louis offered the part of his past he felt safe sharing, although even this might be enough to turn off prospective employers. “I lived in a few foster homes growing up and babysat all the time. I know how to distract a toddler having a tantrum or coax an adolescent girl out of the bathroom when she’s traumatized by a zit. I know how to relieve a baby’s colic without taking the kid to the hospital. You can trust me with Cara and Liam.”
Was that a smile on Mr. Krefman’s grim mouth? The man was handsome enough in somber mode, but when his lips curved, it stole Louis’s breath. Krefman’s eyes telegraphed he’d liked Louis’s blunt answer. And, unless Louis’s senses were going haywire, he’d swear those eyes also contained a hint of sexual interest.
Hm. Interesting. Or not! Because he was here for a job interview, nothing more. No crushes or flings with a boss. He was here to turn over a new leaf and get on a different track.
Krefman checked his watch, then rose. “I have a meeting to get to. Crissi will call and arrange your introduction to the kids soon.” He held out his hand.
Louis rose and took it. One hard clasp and a quick shake left his palm tingling. “I’m sure looking forward to meeting them.”
Krefman left, walking swiftly, the line of his suit and the way he moved keeping Louis’s eyes on him until he disappeared into the house. Only then did Louis turn his attention back to Crissi.
She was scanning the skimpy résumé the agency had helped him develop. The furrow between her eyebrows made him nervous. She pushed her chair away from the table and stood.
“We have several more interviews scheduled. You should hear back from me in a few days.”
Louis nodded, sensing her doubts and wondering what he could say to alleviate them and get a chance to at least meet the kids.
Crissi started to lead him toward the driveway but paused at the edge of the patio. “I have to tell you, I’m not sure I’m on board with the idea of a male nanny. It’s probably un-PC to admit, but I feel there’s an element of female nurturing I don’t know if a man can match. And your résumé is…nearly nonexistent. Dan thought we should review a full spectrum of people so we added yours to the mix.”
This was her way of telling him don’t hold your breath for that call. He had maybe seconds to change her mind.
“Thank you for being honest with me. I understand your reservations and sort of expected them. But I’d love to have the chance to at least spend time with your children before you make a final decision. As I said, I’m a kid wrangler from way back. I like them. I get them. And they seem to respond to me.” I’m fucking Mary Poppins. Just hire me, already!