Part of the Family

By: Cristina Grenier

Chapter 1: Nanny Troubles

The cheerful sounds of a children’s television show greeted Everett Morgan’s ears as he walked into his kitchen from the garage. He listened for a moment, a smile creasing his cheeks as he heard his three-year-old singing along in his own inimitable fashion. The child’s voice was high and sweet, and something loosened in his father’s chest as he dropped his briefcase on the table and followed the sound into the den. The tableau couldn’t have been more serene. Danny sat cross-legged the requisite distance from the television while his nanny sat on the love seat with her legs tucked under her, smiling at him as he sang. Neither of them noticed him, and Ev let himself relax for the first time since he had walked out of the house at five in the morning.

His company, EM Media, was growing fast, and Ev found himself spending more and more time at the office or on trips than he did at home. He knew when this trend had begun. When his wife died, a day after the birth of their son, he had been devastated, and had withdrawn from society for almost a year, letting others run his company. But when the CFO pointed out that the company was beginning to show signs of strain from his lack of leadership, and that a financial loss was inevitable if he didn’t get his act together, Ev was forced to put away his grief and get back to work. And the work had been slogging, hard work, involving long hours in his office in one meeting after another, to evening engagements to schmooze the people he wanted to work with, to extended trips abroad.

In all of that, his son had become more of a second thought than a priority. He had managed to find a suitable nanny for the baby with the help of his mother-in-law, who lived half a continent away. Ev would never ask her to uproot her life for her grandchild when the boy had a perfectly good parent on hand. Even if said parent was a basket case most of the time. And then, three months ago, his nanny had retired and moved to a gated senior citizen community in Florida, leaving Ev once again with a small boy and a big job. This time he had had no family to help in his nanny search, but his secretary did what she did best and found him a young woman who needed the work, liked children, and was pleasant to the eye. Now Danny had adult supervision and companionship while Ev was at work, and he did his best to be a good father to his son when he was home.

He walked forward slowly, watching Danny clap to the beat of the song they had just started on the screen. The nanny, Cindy, must have caught sight of him because she looked up suddenly, and her cheeks turned a soft pink. Ev knew what that was about, and the part of him that was no longer in lust mode understood her embarrassment, and in fact, shared it. He had not been with anyone for three months before Danny was born, and in the first two years after his wife passed, he had been too wounded to even notice the many women who openly ogled him and vied for his attention. Then in this last year he saw a way to help him get past the loneliness that Dani’s absence had brought with it. He began sleeping with any woman willing to open her legs to him, trying to fuck away the yawning abyss inside him. And apparently, unbeknownst to him, there had been a line. Cindy had only been the last in a string of them in recent weeks.

“Hi, Mr. Morgan.” Cindy’s voice was sweet and soft, just like her. “Danny, your daddy’s home, baby.”

She turned her eyes away to look at the little boy who turned his head and then rose and ran screaming to leap into his father’s arms.

“Daddy! Daddy! You home?” Danny asked the same question every evening, as though he couldn’t believe Ev had not left him alone.

Ev inhaled Danny’s baby scent, and squeezed him gently as the son he loved more than anyone in the world hugged him tight. It was these moments, few though they were, that made him keep going, that made him not give in to the desire to just crawl into some convenient hole and hide forever. He had loved Dani with his whole soul, and he had been so angry when she died that for a time he had been afraid he would take it out on the tiny baby. Danny, named after his mother, had stolen his heart the first time they had let Ev hold him. Now he couldn’t imagine his world without the boy who was dropping butterfly kisses across Ev’s cheeks to his lips, where he left a smacking kiss.