Rebecca never dreamed she’d ever need to employ a nanny. But, newly divorced from her Aussie-employed husband, and with no willing relatives conveniently located nearby, she’d be forced to close her business if she didn’t hire one soon.
“Play nicely!” she roared, as squeals in the back garden, from one or other of the two year old twins, shattered her concentration. Working from her isolated Cable Bay home was all very well when there was another adult to help but trying to do everything herself had just about driven her loopy.
She pressed her fingers against her temple, as the beginnings of a headache throbbed behind her eyes. Perhaps she should move into the city, to be nearer a childcare centre.
“Mummy!” A small body hurtled through the door and buried a tear-stained face into her lap.
Rebecca gently stroked wisps of blond hair from her son’s face. “What’s the matter, Ben?”
A chubby arm rose and pointed accusingly toward his sister, who was standing in the doorway, thumb in her mouth. And then he burst into renewed sobs.
Jade’s thumb unpopped, like a cork from champagne, to shout, “No,” before being immediately plugged back in.
Rebecca sighed, and gathered Ben to her for a hug. After he’d calmed a little, she gestured to Jade to join them. It was no point giving them a lecture. “Hug, not hit,” she suggested for the thousandth time.
“Me want daddy,” sniffled Jade.
“Want daddy,” Ben echoed.
Her heart gave a painful jolt. “I know you do cherubs, but we can’t always have what we want.” She forced a cheery tone into her voice. “How about an ice block?”
Settling them on the back step, each chubby fist clutching a melting, raspberry-flavoured treat, Rebecca headed back to the computer. She plopped herself down in the office chair, determined to make the most of the peace.
The knock at the front door instantly shattered that illusion. She swore under her breath. Had she forgotten that a friend was calling in? She couldn’t recall expecting anyone, and there were no neighbours close by. Striding down the hall, she mentally rehearsed sending the salesman/religious caller, swiftly on his, or her, way. She had work deadlines to meet, which spared her little time for idle chitchat.
She swung the door open. A man, approximately her own age, and dressed in a plain brown t-shirt and knee-length beige shorts, hovered on her doorstep. “Excuse me,” he said, in a foreign accent, “This is Green Farm Homestay, yes?”
A backpacker; from Germany perhaps. She shook her head. “No. That’s about ten kilometres further down the road.”
His shoulders slumped, and his cheeks filled with air, as if he was thoroughly exasperated. She studied him for a moment as he glanced towards the gate. He looked as though he could do with a decent meal.
“It’s not far to go,” she said encouragingly. “You’ll see the sign.”
He turned to her, his blue eyes half-hidden by strands of bleached hair which drooped over his forehead. He looked tired and hot, and a stirring of compassion for him made her hesitate to close the door.
“How far have you walked?”
He blinked, and smiled. “Not walk. I have car.” He gestured to the road.
He was very good looking. Rebecca smiled back, but her heart had hardened. Knowing he had transport meant that she didn’t need to take pity on him. She’d wasted enough time as it was. Reaching for the doorknob, she was about to close their conversation with a polite farewell, when an ear-splitting scream scythed through the house.
Rebecca gasped. She spun around and ran down the hall, her heart hammering. What had the twins got up to this time? Her chest tightened with fear. Had Ben climbed onto the kitchen bench again? Did Jade manage to pull open the cutlery drawer? Would it mean a trip to the doctor?
But the kitchen was empty. A jolt of relief was instantly squashed as she searched every room, and then dashed outside. “Where are you?” she called, listening out for crying. But all was now quiet. Ominously quiet. Her stomach twisted painfully – silence was not a good sign.
She couldn’t take much more of this. Fierce yearning for a nanny welled up inside her. “Jade! Benjamin? Where are you?” she repeated, running towards the garage, her blood pounding in her ears.
She glanced into the car, and then ran down the driveway, her eyes desperately scanning the leafy branches of the huge sycamore tree. Hurrying past the abandoned trikes, and around to the front veranda, she sucked in a harsh breath. Where were the little scamps?
The backpacker was standing in front of the swing-seat. Her momentary surprise, that he was still hanging around, morphed into a sharp rage. “Help me,” she cried out, between panting breaths, “Help me find my two little kids. Do you understand? Please! They could be hurt!”
Her legs threatened to collapse beneath her as she leapt up the wooden steps toward him. He hadn’t moved one inch! He obviously didn’t comprehend, yet surely he could see how distraught she was.
“They are safe,” he said. Rebecca stared at him, not knowing whether he was trying to be psychic, or merely a smart-arse. But then he moved aside, his lips curling into a grin as her eyes widened.
Ben and Jade sat on the striped cushions in the swing-seat, quietly licking their ice blocks, like two little angels. Rebecca, faint with relief, gathered them both into her arms for a sticky hug. Stepping back, she checked them over for signs of blood, and said, “You little devils. What was that screaming all about?”
She glanced at the backpacker with a grateful smile. But just as she started to relax, Jade let out a squeal. “Stop that!” she growled, unable to keep the irritation out of her voice.
Ben raised his ice block above his sister’s head, but this aggressive move was smartly thwarted by the stranger jumping in to sit between them.
“You eat,” he said to Ben, and then turned to Jade. “Eat up.”
Rebecca’s jaw dropped as her children obediently did as he suggested. And then she had a brainwave.
“Would you like a job for the summer? Bed and meals included?”
And that’s how Lars, from Sweden, became the nanny. Hardly the young girl she’d originally imagined employing, but someone, to her delight, far better. The twins adored him, and Rebecca quietly tore up her advertisement for a superior nanny.
Lars had the skills to relax her in a way that a female could never do.
A Super Manny, her friends agreed, was exactly what every woman needs.
Copyright: Cherie Le Clare, 2010