Martin Wesley’s job as a CFO is very stressful. All he seems to do lately is work, with no end in sight. But one morning he answers a knock on his door and comes face to face with a social worker and a sad little girl named Samantha Wesley ... his niece. Martin is her only next of kin, and he has no idea what to do.
In steps daycare worker Ryan Gentles, who is very understanding and helpful, and Martin is beyond grateful. It doesn't hurt that the man is cute as a button, too.
With his heart pulled in two directions, Martin has to make a choice: continue to be a pawn in his company's games or find a new purpose by taking care of his niece, quitting his job, and reaching out for a love he never thought possible.
Samantha and I stared at each other, not saying anything. I glanced at my watch again, then back at the sad-eyed little girl who’d yet to say a word at all. With a sigh, I kneeled before my niece. She had a ratty teddy bear in her arms and she hid behind its head when I faced her.
“Hi, Samantha, my name is Martin.” I held out my hand to shake her tiny one. Slowly, she slid her small palm into mine.
“Now,” I continued, “I need to get to work, and I can’t leave you here by yourself. We’re gonna have to figure out what to do with you all day. Do you understand?”
Samantha nodded. I knew she was trying to be brave, but she seemed about to cry. I couldn’t handle tears right now. Time to move things along. I locked the door behind me, then collected her stuff. “Give me your hand, love. We have to get you squared away, and I have to get going.”
Samantha put her hand in mine, and we headed toward the elevator. In the lobby, we went up to the security desk. “Frank, this is my niece, Samantha.” When he and I gazed down at her, she hid behind my legs.
“She’s shy, I guess. I’ll let management know I have a guest, but I wanted you to be aware she was here as well.”
“No problem, sir,” he said. “The best of luck to you. I have three little ones myself. So if you ever need any advice ...”
“I appreciate the offer,” I replied. I left Frank behind as Samantha and I walked through the parking deck. It was slow going, her little legs unable to keep up with mine, so I had to shorten my stride.
By the time we reached my SUV, it was seven o’clock. “Shi ...” I let the word hang in the air since I now had to consider little ears. I stashed everything in the backseat, and then placed Samantha in the middle.
I realized then that I would need to get a car seat, and a ton of other stuff. Fuck. I buckled her in as best I could, and as we sat there, I checked my phone for daycare centers close by. I was in luck. Tiny Dreams for Tots was a block away from my condo building.
I drove with one eye on Samantha in the rearview mirror. She was still holding on tightly to her teddy bear and was now looking out the window.
“You all right, honey?” I asked and saw her nod. Why doesn’t she ever talk, I wonder?
In no time at all, we were parked in an empty spot in front of the daycare center. I got out of the car and carefully took Samantha out of the back seat and into my arms, with her still holding her stuffed animal. I grabbed all her items and rushed into the building.
“Hi there, I’m Ryan Gentles,” a sweet-sounding male voice said, and I turned to encounter the loveliest hazel eyes I’d ever seen. And the owner of those gorgeous peepers had the cutest freckles on his nose, as well as being a redhead.
I noticed all these things in mere seconds as I tried to focus on the fact that I was late for work, had a traumatized little girl to take care of, and a man before me who was the stuff of dreams. “Uh, hi. I’m Martin Wesley, and this is Samantha Wesley, my niece. I’m taking care of her for ... well, anyway, I’m late for work and I can’t take her with me. I don’t know what to do and I was hoping --”
“Breathe, Mr. Wesley. It’s okay,” Ryan said, soothing me immediately with his calm tone.