Give and Take

Cobblestone Press LLC

Heat Rating: Scorching
Word Count: 43,000
0 Ratings (0.0)

Single father Sergeant Garrett Moore is in need of a nanny for his three year old daughter. He’s divorced and his ex is in drug rehab. Erin Matthews is a college student who needs a job. Garrett and Erin try to keep their relationship strictly professional.

As the weeks go by, neither one of them can control the heated connection between or the lust they feel. Neither is sure that they want to. When Garrett's past comes back to haunt them, he and Erin are forced to admit what they truly mean to each other.

Give and Take
0 Ratings (0.0)

Give and Take

Cobblestone Press LLC

Heat Rating: Scorching
Word Count: 43,000
0 Ratings (0.0)
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Excerpt

Chapter One

Erin Matthews stepped up to the front door and gave a loud knock before taking a step back. She was nervous—but there was no backing out now. She hoped like hell she got this nanny job, even though it sounded just a little too good to be true.

The hours called for were a perfect match between her college classes and the pay was more than she could have expected at a part-time job. Of course it wasn’t anywhere near the money her father had offered to give her by putting her back on an allowance. It was bad enough that she still lived rent-free in their guest house. It would be over her dead body before she let herself get put on the family payroll like the household staff. She had long ago learned that nothing was free in life and that went doubly for her parent’s financial help. Being on the Matthews’ payroll meant that she would have to answer to her parents for every decision she made or live with the threat of being cut-off whenever she made decisions her parents didn’t like. It was more satisfying to cut herself off before they did and, at twenty-three, it was high time she learned to do things on her own.

Erin reached up to knock once more, but before her knuckles could brush the wood panels, the door was pulled open and a beautiful young blonde stepped out and smiled at her.

“Erin? Glad you could make it. Please, come in. I’m Karen,” the blonde said, holding the door open.

Stepping inside, Erin noticed the house was clean and extremely well-kept. It might actually be a little too clean, unless they had just moved in.

“Why don’t you come in and sit down? We can talk a little and I’ll introduce you to Olivia, see how the two of you get along,” Karen said, leading the way farther into the house. The bright white walls of the living room were nearly bare, with the exception of two pieces of off-the-rack art. The furniture was plain black suede, paired with a single black wood coffee table and it didn’t even have as much as a magazine on the top. The house seemed to lack the personal touch. The only thing she could call fun in the house was the huge sixty-inch flat screen hanging on the wall opposite the couch.

She sat down on the couch and dropped her purse on the carpet at her feet. It was hard to believe that a child lived here. There were no toys or coloring books lying around, nothing to say a three year old lived here.

“Is Olivia your daughter?” Erin asked, smiling up at the woman.

Karen took a seat and turned to face Erin. “No, she’s my niece. Her father is my brother. When Julia went into treatment, I started coming over, off and on, to help with Olivia until my brother hired someone to take over on a permanent basis.”

Erin had no idea who Julia was but decided it was better not to ask just yet. There was plenty of time for questions if she got the job. “Just Olivia and her father live here?” At least that was need-to-know information.

Karen arched one light brown eyebrow up in question. “Garrett said you two have been emailing back and forth? Didn’t he mention any of that?”

Erin shook her head. “Not really. I mean, yes, we emailed, but there were only two and they were pretty basic and pretty much about needing a background check done and all that. He didn’t give me any personal information about the people living in the house.”

“Leave it to my brother to be so serious about everything.” She gave Erin a warm smile, and then went on. “It’s just the two of them living here. However, Garrett is away for so many hours during the day that I doubt you’ll see him much and trust me, once you get to know him that will be a blessing. Let me go get Olivia so the two of you can meet each other.” She left the room and disappeared down a short hall.

A moment later Karen returned with a small girl following closely behind her. She was dressed in a bright pink sun dress and her blonde hair was pulled up high on the back of her head in a ponytail. She was a beautiful little girl with round chubby baby cheeks. Her big brown eyes moved up to peek at Erin through long lashes before darting back to the floor. She was definitely a shy child. Even though Erin didn’t have any children or even siblings, she had worked with kids enough during her school courses to know that if she wanted them to feel safe around her then she needed to be at their level. Bending down, she knelt on the floor so she was at eye level with Olivia.

“Hi Olivia, I’m Erin. How are you today?”

The little girl shrugged her shoulders and kept her eyes on the floor. “How old are you?” The little girl held up three fingers. It wasn’t a spoken answer, but it was a start. At least she was interacting.

“Wow! Three years old? You’re almost my age.” That small joke got another glance up from the little girl.

“Okay, I’m a little older but not by much. Can I see your room? Do you have toys in there?”

The little girl nodded her head and her eyes finally came up to meet Erin’s. Erin knew she had found the girl’s weak spot. “Could I see your toys?”

Olivia nodded before she turned and headed back down the hallway and Erin exchanged smiles with Karen. Olivia’s room was nearly as bare and plain as the rest of the house. The only fun thing in her room was her tiny bed, which was covered with a colorful pink blanket and pillow. A dresser and a toy box were on the other wall and a small table and two chairs sat in the middle of the open room. No color or posters on the walls, only the same generic art work as in the living room.

“Can you show me your favorite toy?”

Olivia grabbed a doll from the bed and squeezed it in her arms in a hug.

“What’s her name?” That was an easy question. All little girls named their dolls. It took Olivia a minute but she finally gave in and answered her.

“Pony.”

“Your doll’s name is Pony? That’s a perfect name.” At least it was for a three year old.

“Auntie, I’m hungry,” Olivia said, looking up to her aunt who stood in the doorway watching the two of them.

“It’s time for lunch, sweetie. Let’s go get you something to eat and we can get to know our new friend Erin better. Okay?”

The three of them spent the next hour talking, eating lunch, and getting to know each other. Once the actual interview was over, Karen told Olivia she could go play in her room and Erin knew that was code for the adults needed to have time alone to talk without Olivia in earshot.

Once they were alone, Karen said, “I’m not going to beat around the bush. I like you and Olivia seems to like you. That little girl built a thick shell around herself since everything that happened with her mom. I think you’ll make a nice fit for her. I have no problem offering you the job if you want it but the real problem isn’t the job or the kid.” Karen paused a moment and let out a heavy breath as if this was the part of the conversation she had been dreading.

“To be completely honest, it’s my brother. Garrett can be an ass. Hell, he’s my brother and I wouldn’t even work for him more than I have to and I love that little girl as if she were my own. There are days she’s the only reason I’m still here. The thing is,” she hesitated. “He’s an Army man. I mean, a real Army man. He likes his Yes, Sirs, and he runs his house like he runs his barracks and it’s no good for a little girl to be raised that way. Look at this place. There’s no color on the walls, there’s no cheerfulness. I’m not saying my brother doesn’t love his daughter, because I know he would lay down his life for her in a heartbeat. He already crawled through Hell and back to get the two of them where they are today, but he has no idea what he’s doing when it comes to the daddy department.”

Erin felt that given her childhood and her father, she could relate to Olivia. “I was raised an Army brat. My father was a career Major and that life was all I knew until I got older and saw for myself that the rest of the world wasn’t all about discipline and order. So I get it.”

Karen smiled in return. “Like I said, I like you, and Olivia seems to as well, so I’m offering you the job. You know the hours and the pay already. Garrett covered that with you, didn’t he? I hope he at least provided that information in his emails?”

“Yes. It all sounds great to me. The only thing I need to know is when you need me to start.”

“That all depends on how soon you can move in?”

That question stopped Erin in mid-thought. Move in here? “Move in? What are you talking about?”

“Don’t tell me he didn’t tell you that the job was for a live-in nanny?” Karen asked, rolling her eyes. “Garrett’s a Drill Sergeant. He’s in charge of all the new recruits at the base. There are going to be times when he’ll have to leave in the middle of the night for drills or training, so Olivia needs someone here all the time. Garret’s emails should have explained that.”

How could she have missed that crucial part of the job information? No wonder it felt as if the whole thing was too good to be true.

“Can I have some time to think about it? The job sounds great and Olivia is wonderful, I’m just not sure I can move in. I mean…”

Could she trade one house of order for another? At least at home, she had the guest house, which gave Erin her own little space to escape to. And what would her father think of her being a live-in nanny for a single father and his daughter? He would shit little green apples and then chalk it up to just another way she defied him.

“I can give you some time to think about it, but not much. I know this is a lot to take on and I want you to be sure before you agree. But, we will need to get someone soon so…” Karen’s words were cut off by the sound of the front door opening and then closing. Karen flashed Erin a little smile, but it felt like a warning. “Come on. I’ll introduce you to Olivia’s dad.”

A man dressed in head to toe green Army fatigues stepped into the small kitchen and Erin felt her body jolt alive. It was as if a bolt of electricity hit her body. Air got trapped in her chest and she couldn’t seem to kick start her lungs into breathing on their own. She now knew what it felt like to have the wind knocked out of her. She had been around men in uniform her entire life and the sight of a male body in any uniform had never done anything to thrill her…until this very minute.

Holy shit, the man was good looking. She bet he stood six feet tall and his chest and shoulders were huge. He took up all the space in the small kitchen. The best words to describe Karen’s brother and her potential future boss were sex god. His hair, like most servicemen, was buzzed short to his skin and covered by a tan campaign hat, but it was those deep, slightly hooded chocolate brown eyes that held her attention. They were sexy as hell.

His face looked as if it had been chiseled from rock from his cheek bones down to his clean, strong chin. Erin had to take a sip of her tea and look away from him. She could already feel an uncomfortable wetness between her legs just by looking the man over and he was fully dressed.

“Garret, this is Erin. The two of you have been emailing about the job to be Olivia’s new nanny.”

Garrett’s nod was stiff and quick in her direction, but other than the slight movement, his facial features didn’t change. He was like a towering rock staring back at her. There was no show of emotions at all, making him impossible to read, but after hearing Karen describe her brother, Erin knew he wasn’t going to be a very readable guy. The hardened ones never were. Erin figured he was waiting for her to speak first and she’d do it if she could find her voice under her knotted-up nerves.

“You have a great little girl, Sergeant. She really is the cutest.” She had addressed him with the honor of his title because she’d been raised Army and, even though she was a civilian, it was natural to be respectful. She watched as his brown eyes darkened and she had to admit she didn’t care for the way her body reacted to that look. If he was going to be her boss then she needed to get hold of and keep her horny little thoughts in check.

“Are you taking the job?”

Oh. My. Gosh.

Even his deep, slightly southern voice was fucking hot. It was the kind of voice a girl could get used to hearing in the bedroom. Erin shifted her weight in the wooden chair, trying to get comfortable despite her moist panties. It took nerve, but she finally said, “I’m going to take some time to think about it.”

He shook his head “I need to have an answer today. My sister can’t keep putting her life on hold for me. If you’re not interested, then you need to stop wasting my time and yours, so I can find someone who does want the job.”

There was the hardness Karen had warned her about. “It’s not that I don’t want the job, Sir, it’s that I didn’t know it was a live-in job.”

His eyes narrowed slightly. “Are you married?”

“No.”

“Do you have a boyfriend or someone that lives with you?”

“No.”

“A parent you’re caring for?”

“No.” He stopped asking questions, but his eyes told her he knew she had no valid reason to say no.

That left her with only one option. “Could I take the job on a trial basis at first? Let’s say two weeks and see how things go? See if this works out for both of us?”

What would he look like without that shirt on? She could see his chest was wide and would bet that it rippled with muscles. What would he look like wearing nothing but his dog tags? She needed to shake those thoughts out of her head. She already felt way too hot just being near him; she didn’t need to add any more fuel to her desire.

Garrett hesitated as if thinking her questions over before he nodded in agreement. “Excellent, but before we get much further, I would like to talk about a few rules first.”

Rules?

“First thing, Olivia’s safety and well-being will always be the most important concern.”

That was easy enough to agree to. “Of course,” she replied.

He wasn’t finished. “Second, she goes nowhere that I have not approved of first. She will also keep to her weekly schedule unless I have approved a change ahead of time. There will be no drinking around Olivia, with the exception of a beer or wine with dinner. There will be no partying in the house, no drugs, and no men coming to the house.

“I don’t care who you see or date as long as you’re not in my house. This is my daughter we are talking about and I can’t have someone bringing in random people. Also, this is our home and anyone living here will treat it with respect. With that said, I do expect that the house stays clean and free of clutter. I would prefer that to include the entire house, but what you do with your room will be your business as long as it doesn’t affect the rest of the house. I’ll also ask that you do light housekeeping duties focused only on Olivia, such as her laundry and picking up after her and yourself. There’s no need to worry about me.”

When he was finished laying out the rules, she didn’t need a mirror to know that she had a blank look on her face because, when she glanced at Karen, she was trying her best to cover a smile with the back of her hand. Erin was trying to take his comments seriously, but she had to work hard not to smile or make some smartass comment. Garrett seemed to care about the matters he had just covered and she didn’t want to come off as rude or bitchy.

“I should be able to live with all that. I do want to take this time to remind you that I have classes three times a week. I’ve sent you my class schedule already.”

“I received them. Karen’s going to stay with Olivia during your classes if I’m unavailable.”

It was all so…professional. Which was good. She needed to have a professional take on this job and then maybe she would stop thinking about what her new boss would look like naked. The less she saw him as a good-looking single man who would no doubt be very yummy under the sheets and start thinking of him like an ass of a boss, the better off she would be.

“I’ll go home to pack some bags and take care of a few things. I’ll start tomorrow morning, if that’s alright with everyone?”

Garrett gave her a nod then turned on his heels and exited the room. That guy was a sack full of fun. Good thing Erin was used to that kind of manners. Men like Garrett and her father, who made their career in the Armed Forces, had a way about them that made most civilians think they had giant sticks up their asses.

“I guess a welcome aboard is in order.” Karen said, a huge grin on her face. “And I have to say, I think the two of you will get along just fine. I believe, though I haven’t seen it yet, that you have the one thing the other nannies didn’t have.”

“What’s that?”

Karen gave her a brilliant smile and patted her arm. “A spine.”

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