Inherited: One Child(6)

By: Day Leclaire



Annalise leaned forward. “As I said, continuing with a counselor is vital. He can help you and Isabella’s main caregiver develop some strategies to assist in her recovery.”

Annalise was right and he knew it. He glanced down at his list of questions and moved on to less complicated issues. “I’m sure my assistant mentioned that this job is five days a week, daytime shift.”

“Will you be hiring a nighttime caregiver?”

“I did that right after I brought Isabella home from the hospital. Mrs. Walters will arrive at the end of your shift and cover until I get home. She also stays overnight when I’m out of town on business. If I needed you on an occasional night, would that be a problem?”

“Not at all.”

So far, so good. He tapped a finger on the list of questions and moved on to the next issue. “Do you have a first-aid certificate?”

“Yes, as well as a criminal-convictions certificate.”

He flipped through the file until he found them. The first-aid certificate was recent and, as expected, she didn’t have a criminal record. “Do you have any problem with my running a background check?” The slightest hesitation combined with a hint of worry passed over her features. His gaze narrowed. “Problem?” he asked coldly.

She shook her head. “No, I can see where you’d need to do that. I’d just appreciate some time so I can warn my friends and relatives.”

“Warn?”

She sighed. “Alert. Is that a better word for it? I’d like to call them first and ask for their cooperation, so they’re not taken by surprise.”

“Fair enough.” If she really was hiding anything, his private investigator would find it. He moved on. “Do you smoke?”

“No.”

“Are you involved in an intimate relationship?”

Again, she hesitated. “How is that germane?”

He studied her curiously, wondering if he’d hit on something. “I need to know if you have any obligations that may interfere with your ability to give Isabella your full attention.” Or prevent her from becoming his temporary wife. “I also need to know about anyone who may come into regular contact with my niece so that I can have them checked out.”

“Of course.” She inclined her head and another curl escaped, this one just behind her left ear. The shiny black ringlet bounced against the long line of her neck, providing an irritating distraction. “No, to answer your question, I’m not in an intimate relationship.”

He lifted an eyebrow. “What about a casual relationship?”

A hint of color marched along the sculpted curve of her cheekbones. “I’m not in any sort of relationship at all.”

He fought the satisfaction her response elicited. “How do you get along with your family?”

He’d caught her by surprise again. “There’s just my father, and we get along fine.”

“How often do you see him?”

Her brow puckered in bewilderment. “Once a week. Sometimes more often, now that I’m back in South Carolina.”

“Does he live in Charleston?”

“Jim Isle, born and bred.”

“How much contact do you anticipate he’ll have with Isabella?”

To his surprise, a flash of alarm flickered through her eyes, darkening the honey gold to a deep amber. “I…I don’t anticipate there being any contact between them.”

He digested that for a moment. “Why not?” he finally asked.

She floundered for an instant. It was the first time he’d seen a serious crack in her composure and it filled him with curiosity. “Because my time with Isabella is business related and the time I spend with my father is personal. I really don’t see the two crossing paths.”

Interesting. “You believe in keeping your work and home life separate?”

“Don’t you?” When he didn’t respond to the question, she brushed it aside with a fleeting wave of her hand. “Yes, I prefer to keep the two parts of my life separate.”

“Is there some reason you don’t want your father to come into contact with Isabella? Does he have a criminal record? Would he be a bad influence on a child?”

“No,” she instantly denied. “Not at all. My father is a good man. I just prefer to keep my family life private. Is that a problem for you?”

“I have no objection either way.”

Surprise swept across her face, followed by relief, before she masked her emotions behind a facade of calm serenity. It was an interesting transformation to watch. He suspected her exquisite self-control was an innate part of her personality, and he couldn’t help wondering what circumstances had occurred in her life that had required her to develop this ability. Had she also experienced trauma? Was that why she shrouded herself in unruffled composure, as a way to combat the whirlwind of strife and turmoil?

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