I’ve wanted Liam Doherty for as long as I can remember, even when he was married. Maybe it was the Irish accent, or maybe it was just his ripped abs. But now he’s a sexy single dad in need of a babysitter. Is it wrong that when I hold that precious baby I imagine that she’s mine and we’re a family?
But what would an Irish hunk want with a college dropout?
My tongue nearly hit the floor when I opened my front door to the goddess on my porch. And now she’s babysitting for me, and all I can think about is how spectacular she’d look spread across my bed. Watching her with my daughter doesn’t douse my desire even a little. If anything, it just makes me want her more.
But there’s twenty years between us. Why would a sexy little thing like her want an old man like me?
Stand alone novella, no cliffhanger, no cheating, dual POV.
My parents had been giving me the silent treatment for the last several days, only deigning to speak to me long enough to bark some orders here and there. They were pissed that I’d dropped out of college, but they didn’t know why I’d dropped out, and I wasn’t about to tell them. If they couldn’t trust my judgment, trust me, then I had nothing more to say to them. My mother had given me an ultimatum. Either return to college, or get a job and move out. Actually, her exact words were: Stop being a waste of space. Either go back to school or get a job and take on some grown-up responsibilities. We’re not your ATM or your free meal ticket. You have one month to get your own place.
Some might think she was being harsh, but after what my brother had put them through, I couldn’t really blame her. Rob had refused to go to college, gotten a part-time, minimum wage job that he used to buy booze and drugs, and had partied until he was twenty-four. By that time, my parents had had enough and kicked him out. It hadn’t worked out quite as they’d thought it would though. No one had heard from him since, and we had no idea where he was living, or if he was even still in town. I’d tried to call, but my parents had cut off his cell phone.
I heard Mom in the kitchen and made my way down there, wondering if she needed any help with dinner. If there was one thing I loved above all else, it was cooking. I’d asked to go to culinary school, but they’d refused to pay for it. At the time, I hadn’t understood about school loans or financial aid. My parents had taken care of everything when I went off to Berkeley. They hadn’t covered things like that in my high school classes. For that matter, I was twenty-one and still didn’t know how to balance a checkbook, or pay bills. Mom had sent a prepaid Visa every month to cover extra expenses, and since I’d never had a job… Yeah, I was pathetic.
Mom was unloading groceries and putting things away when I stepped into our brightly lit kitchen. The sun was setting and the rays were shining through the bank of windows over the sink. It was one of the features of the room I loved. Not many people had a four-foot wide window in their kitchen. I’d always hoped, when I had a home of my own, it would have something similar, since the kitchen was my favorite room.
“Need some help?” I asked.
She frowned as she scanned me from head to toe. Since I’d been home all day, I had on my standard short shorts and tank, but I could see the disapproval clearly stamped on her face. In some ways, I could understand her. She wanted a successful daughter she could brag about, and she didn’t want to worry that I’d end up like my brother. But as a young woman, trying to figure out her future, I wished she’d back the hell off and give me some space. Not that I would ever dare tell her that. My mom might seem mild mannered to some, but she had a wicked temper.
“You need to shower and change,” she said.
“To help unload groceries?”
“You have a job tonight, and if it goes well, it could be permanent.”“You need to shower and change,” she said.
I sighed, not sure if I should admit defeat or gear up for a major fight. I was pissed that she’d set up a job for me without asking, but the thought of having some money of my own was appealing. If the job didn’t work out, I could always quit.
“What kind of job requires me to shower and dress close to dinnertime?” I asked.
“Mr. Doherty needs someone to watch his daughter while he attends a fireman’s function tonight. If things go well, he’ll hire you full-time to watch Caitlin.”
I frowned, not remembering the sexy firefighter next door having a kid. I hadn’t been home much the last three years, so Caitlin must be pretty young. Before college, my favorite pastime had been looking out of the window whenever Mr. Doherty was swimming laps in his pool. He was seriously ripped, even though he had to be around forty. I’d envied his perfect wife and wondered what it would be like to be married to someone like him. I couldn’t deny that almost every fantasy I’d ever had involved Mr. Doherty.
“Mrs. Doherty is going with him?” I asked.
“Oh, they aren’t together anymore. She up and moved to Australia with some young male model about three months ago, leaving poor Mr. Doherty with their one week old daughter.”
What a witch! But the bonus was that Mr. Sexy Fireman was single. The babysitting gig was sounding better and better. I knew he had to be close to my parents’ age, but damn, the man aged well. Even if he never looked at me as more than the pesky girl from next door, I could at least bask in his presence and fantasize that his daughter was our daughter. I loved babies and couldn’t wait to meet Caitlin.
“What time is he expecting me?” I asked, wondering if I had time to not just shower, but fix my hair and put on some make-up. I looked at my chipped nail polish and added a manicure to the list.
“You have to be there in two hours.”
Plenty of time.
“Thanks, Mom.” I kissed her cheek. “I’ll try to get there a few minutes early so he isn’t late for his meeting.”
Mom looked surprised but quickly dismissed me in favor of arranging the fruit in a bowl on the counter. I practically skipped out of the room and hurried up to my room. Normally, when I babysat, I’d just wear something comfortable. But this was Mr. Sexy Fireman we were talking about and I wanted to look my best. I’d had a huge crush on him for as long as I could remember. That Irish accent of his just about melted me, but it was more than that. He was genuinely kind and always had a smile for everyone. I couldn’t understand why his wife would leave him. If I had a guy like him, I’d hold on tight and never let go. And to have walked away from her newborn!
I pulled out a pink sundress that had a large, floral print along the hem. It was comfortable and hugged my curves nicely. I’d been a skinny stick when I’d left for college, but then I’d put on the freshman ten, and the sophomore twenty. There was a bit of jiggle in my walk now, and if the whistles I usually heard when I walked by were any indication, guys loved my new figure. At least, college guys did. Men like Mr. Doherty probably liked sophisticated women, something I would never become.
I showered with my favorite gel and made sure to condition my hair so it would be nice and soft. When I got out, I dried off and moisturized my skin with a lotion that had a bit of shimmer to it. My hair was long and thick, and took forever to dry, even with a hairdryer. It stuck out in all directions when I was finished so I heated up my curling iron to tame the mouse-brown tresses. While I waited, I pulled on a lacy strapless bra and matching panties, then started on my make-up. I didn’t want to be too obvious that I was trying to impress him so I went with a bit of mascara, a hint of blush, and a peach gloss. I finished fixing my hair then quickly removed my fingernail and toenail polish and repainted them with an understated pink to match my dress.
Nearly two hours had passed by the time I had finished getting ready, so I rushed downstairs and out the door. I’d barely left my yard when I heard a baby crying. As I neared Mr. Doherty’s door, I heard his frantic shushing and cooing as he tried to calm his daughter. The doorbell chimed loudly, just making Caitlin even angrier and her screams increased. Mr. Doherty looked harried as he answered the door, his shirt was unbuttoned and he had one sock on and one sock off. His hair stood in disarray, as if he’d been trying to pull it out.
And I’d never seen a sexier sight.
“Mr. Doherty, I’m Ashley Morgan, from next door. My mom said you needed a babysitter tonight.”
“Tonight. Tomorrow. Every day for the next eighteen years,” he muttered. “Come in.”
He stepped back and I followed him inside, trying to take everything in. I’d never been inside his home before and I was impressed. The baby doubled her efforts to be heard, her face turning bright red, and I reached for her. He hesitated only a moment before handing her over. Caitlin stared at me, her screams dying almost instantly as she hiccupped and tried to figure out who I was. Her hair was dark as pitch, just like her dad’s, and her eyes were a bright blue.
“Hi there, gorgeous girl.”
Caitlin cooed and waved a fist.
“You’re a miracle worker,” Mr. Doherty said. “Whatever you want, you can have it. I’ll sign over ever cent in my account if you can just keep her quiet. I think she’s cried nonstop for months. I’ve taken her to the doctor so often, convinced something is wrong with her, that they won’t even set an appointment until I’ve spoken with a nurse.”
“She’s probably just missing her mom.” My cheeks flushed as I glanced at him. “Sorry, I didn’t mean…my mom told me today that Mrs. Doherty wasn’t in the picture anymore. I didn’t mean to be insensitive.”
He snorted. “Good riddance to that harridan. Caitlin will be better off without that kind of influence in her life.”
Okay, so he was still bitter.
“Let me show you where everything is and then I’ll finish getting ready. I’ll try not to stay out too late. We have this banquet once a year and it can go for most of the night with drinking and dancing. I wouldn’t even attend, but I’m supposed to get some ridiculous award.” He shook his head. “Anyway, help yourself to anything you want. The kitchen is fully stocked if you’re hungry. I’m sure you’ve missed dinner at home.”
“I can stay as long you need me.” Forever sounded pretty good.
He nodded and gave me a tour of the house, pointing out Caitlin’s room and everything I would need for my babysitting duties. While he finished getting ready, I sank onto the padded rocker in her room. The back and forth motion helped keep her calm and she blinked up at me sleepily. She was probably the prettiest baby I’d ever seen. I wondered how heartless you had to be to leave something so precious behind.
When I was certain she was sleeping soundly, I laid her in her crib and tiptoed from the room, snagging the baby monitor on my way out. Mr. Doherty still hadn’t resurfaced, unless he’d snuck out while I was otherwise occupied. He’d said I could help myself to the kitchen so I headed that way. It was a chef’s dream come true with granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, and a stove that I would have killed to have. I felt a little odd rummaging through his fridge and pantry. I found some chicken breasts, everything I would need for my favorite corn casserole, and a can of crescent rolls. I’d have preferred to make some rolls from scratch, but it would take too long.
As I chopped, seasoned, and prepped a dinner that would easily feed not only me, but give Mr. Doherty leftovers for a night or two, I started singing. It was something I always did when I cooked, no matter where I was. I’d always had a thing for country music, especially the songs that were popular when I was little, so the Dixie Chicks “You Were Mine” spilled from my lips. As I slid everything into the oven, I noticed Mr. Doherty leaning against the doorframe, watching me. There was something in his eyes that made me very aware that I was a woman alone in a house with a powerful man.
“I hope my singing didn’t bother you.”
He pushed off the doorframe and prowled closer. “You sing like an angel.”
My cheeks flushed. “I don’t know why, but I always sing when I cook.”
He was close enough that I felt the heat of his body pressing against me. There were fine lines on the corners of his eyes and a hint of silver at his temples, but it only made him look more distinguished. He leaned a little closer and then abruptly pulled away. My heart was pounding in my chest, and I wondered if he’d been about to kiss me. Or was that just wishful thinking on my part? Despite the fact I was a grown woman, I’d never been with a man before, and had kissed only a handful of boys at college. What would it be like to have a man like him lay claim to me?
“I’ll try not to be late,” he said as he backed away further. “If you need to reach me, my cell number is on the fridge, as is the number to Caitlin’s doctor.”
“We’ll be fine.”
He nodded and walked off, leaving me shaking and wondering what the hell had just happened. I could still smell the spicy scent of his cologne and my lips tingled from the almost kiss. I’d never wanted anyone so much in my life. In that moment, I knew I’d do whatever it took to make him mine, even if it was just for one night.