The Nanny's Secret

By: Elizabeth Lane

One

Dutchman’s Creek, Colorado

HELP WANTED

Live-in nanny for newborn. Wolf Ridge area. Mature. Discreet. Experience preferred.

Start immediately. Email résumé and references to

[email protected]





Wyatt Richardson glared at the stack of résumés on the borrowed desk. So far he’d interviewed three teenagers, a Guatemalan woman who barely spoke English, a harried mom with her own two-year-old and a grandmotherly type who confessed she got heart palpitations at high altitudes. His need for a qualified nanny bordered on desperation. But so far not one of the applicants was right for the job.

At least none of them had seemed to recognize him in his faded baseball cap. But that didn’t solve his problem.

Maybe he should have gone through an agency instead of placing that blind ad through The Dutchman’s Creek Sentinel. But agencies asked questions, and this was a personal matter, demanding privacy. Not even his staff at the resort knew that his sixteen-year-old daughter, Chloe, had shown up on his doorstep almost nine months pregnant—or that she’d just given birth to a baby boy at the local hospital.

With a weary sigh he scanned the final résumé. Leigh Foster, 26. At least her age was in the ballpark he’d wanted to see. But the journalism degree from the University of Colorado wouldn’t be much help. And her experience handling children was limited to some babysitting in high school. Glancing down the page he noticed she’d edited a defunct travel magazine and was currently working part-time for the local paper. He’d bet she was scrambling for money. Why else would an educated woman apply for this job?

Never mind. Just get it over with. He buzzed the receptionist, a signal to send in the next applicant.

High heels clicked down the tiled hallway, their cadence brisk and confident. An instant later the door of the small interview room opened. Wyatt’s gaze took her in at a glance—willowy figure, simple navy blue suit, dark chestnut hair worn in a sleek pageboy. An Anne Hathaway type. He liked what he saw—liked it a lot. Unfortunately he was looking for a nanny, not a date.

“Mr. Richardson.” Her long legs flashed as she strode toward the desk, hand extended. Her use of his name put Wyatt on instant alert. She worked for the Sentinel and would have known who placed the ad, he reminded himself. But the woman was a journalist. Did she really need a job or was she scoping out some juicy gossip for a story?

Either way, his first priority had to be protecting Chloe.

Rising, he accepted her proffered handshake. Her fingers felt the way she looked—slim and strong but surprisingly warm. Her tailored jacket had fallen open to reveal a coppery silk blouse. The fabric clung to her figure enticingly.

Yanking his gaze back to her face, Wyatt nodded toward the straight-backed chair opposite the desk. She settled onto the edge, one shapely knee crossed over the other in her narrow little skirt.

Sitting again, he perused her résumé, giving him a reason to take his eyes off her. “Tell me, Miss Foster. You appear well qualified for work in your own field. Why would you want a job as a nanny?”

Her lush mouth twitched in a sardonic smile. “I may be qualified, but times are tough. Right now I’m working twenty hours a week and camping out in my mother’s guest room. She sells real estate, so she’s struggling, too—and she has my younger brother to support. I’d like to contribute instead of feeling like a burden.”

“So it’s all about money.”

“No!” She stared down at her hands. When she looked up again he noticed her eyes for the first time. Framed by thick, black lashes, they were the color of aged whiskey with intriguing flecks of gold.

“There are many factors involved. Most of my friends have children.” The words sounded rehearsed. “I’ve been thinking that down the road a few years from now, if I don’t get married, I might try adoption, or even have a child by a donor. Meanwhile, I’d love the experience of caring for a little baby. Of course I can’t promise to stay for a long time....” Her husky voice trailed into a breath. “If you’re still interested, could you tell me more about the job? Otherwise, I’ll just leave now.”

She clasped her hands on her knees, looking so vulnerable that Wyatt almost melted. He was interested all right—interested in getting to know this woman better. But he couldn’t do or say anything that might make her hesitate to take the job. He needed a nanny for Chloe’s baby, and right now Leigh Foster was his only option.

On the other hand, he had to make sure she wasn’t out to exploit the situation.

Clearing his throat, he reached for the briefcase he’d left under the desk. “I’ll need to run a background check, of course,” he said, lifting out a manila folder. “But before we pursue this any further, would you be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement?”

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