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Chapter 3

  • Rose almost stopped walking. Her eyes fixed on the broad shoulders she remembered, the narrow waist, and those lean hips now encased in black hip-hugging swim trunks. She could see the outline of firm cheeks through the wet material that clung to his body. For the second time in two days she was seeing this man without his shirt.
  • Rose bit her lip to keep from smiling. If she were totally honest she would admit that neither experience had been painful.
  • She caught a glimpse of a little blonde head just by Rose’s hand and realized that he was in the water with the little kids she’d heard about. He was probably giving them a swimming lesson. For a man who made it clear how busy he was it came as a surprise to he was spending a weekday afternoon entertaining a child. She admired that. She smiled and kept on walking. Mrs. Smith was right. Luke did not take long to appear at the office door. She’d been sitting there less than five minutes, just enough time for Mrs. Smith to bring her a cup of herbal tea, when Luke arrived fully dressed in white button down shirt and navy trousers.
  • “You’re early,” he said as he walked over and gave her a nod of greeting. “I didn’t expect you for another half hour.”
  • “I’m sorry,” Rose said. “I wasn’t sure what the traffic would be like so I decided to give myself ample time.” She laid the cup and saucer on the table beside her. Luke sounded quite formal. This was a job interview, of course, and she would be as professional as he was. .He turned those intense green eyes on her.
  • “Thank you,” he said with a smile. “I appreciate punctuality. Now let’s bring you up to speed on what this job requires.”
  • Luke gave Rose the details on the kids' situation and the kind of help he was looking for. The twins' names are Naidia and Nathaniel. Their mother was never in the picture. She was somebody that Luke had a flirt with before. As soon as she gave birth, she gave him full custody of the twins and left and never to be heard of again.
  • “I will take you to the twins and introduce you.” There was a note of pride in his voice and a tender look in his eyes.
  • He stood and rounded the desk, then held out his arm indicating she should precede him. She stopped at the heavy wooden door. At the same time they both reached out to open it, and their hands touched.
  • “Allow me,” he said. His butterscotch-and-brandy voice made her shiver.
  • “Thank you.”
  • In the hall outside his office, she looked around. Her low-heeled shoes sank into the thick, plush carpet. Wood paneling lined walls hung with ornately framed enhanced Art drawings of nature in various stages of development.
  • In all her life she’d never seen such luxury as she had since arriving at the palace. Marble floors, grand staircases, a fountain in the foyer, lush gardens. There were sinfully expensive furnishings and gold fixtures everywhere—priceless art, paintings, vases and tapestries. Oh, the place is big, a little too big for three people, she thought. Although she doesn't know the number of workers he has.
  • . “Wow” didn’t do justice to her feelings, but it was the first word that kept coming to mind. The gleam in his eyes and the smile curving his lips told her he was teasing and capable of humor. She wasn’t quite sure why he was smiling and didn’t have a chance to figure it out. Suddenly the boy and girl squealed.
  • “Papa!” the children said at the same time.
  • They jumped off the couch and ran to him, each wrapping their arms around one of his long legs. He bent at the waist and embraced them.
  • “Hello, little one, he said, running a knuckle tenderly down his daughter’s nose. She looked up at him adoringly. “And you.” He grinned at his son as he ruffled the boy’s hair. “There’s someone here who wants to meet you,” he said. Suddenly two pairs of very dark, very curious and just a bit shy eyes were turned on her. “This is Miss Rolando. What do you say?”
  • “Hi,” the boy glanced up at his father. “I mean how do you do?”
  • Luke nodded approvingly.
  • The little girl still clutched his leg. “How do you do?” She mimicked her brother.
  • Luke smiled tenderly at his daughter. She could see the love he has for them.
  • “ Am fine thank you.” She looked first at the boy, then his sister. “This must be Nathaniel and Naida.”
  • “How did you know our names?” the little girl asked, clearly impressed. She blinked huge, beautiful black eyes fringed by exceptionally long thick lashes.
  • “Your dad told me about you.” Rose kneeled in front of the twins so her eyes and theirs eyes were level. “I’d like to be your friend, kids,” she said, making her voice as soft and comforting as she could. “May I?”
  • "Yes!" They both answered at the same time.
  • “May I have a hug?” Rose tilted her head and smiled.
  • The twins didn’t wait for her to open her arms. They simply ran to her and rounded their small arms around her.
  • The twins began talking animatedly with Rose. Luke gave up trying to follow the conversation and just watched them with a grin on his face. Naida and Nathaniel's apprehension about a new nanny seemed to vanish as they talked about everything from school lunch to video games with her.
  • By the time the four of them headed to dinner, it seemed like she’d won them over. They talked to her like she was an old friend. To her credit, she kept trying to drag Luke into the conversation, but it never took long before he was lost .
  • “So Rose, how much longer are you in school?” Luke asked during a lull in the conversation .
  • “Another year and a half until I finish my Bachelor’s degree. Then I’m going to apply to go for my Master’s, if I can .”
  • “Do you know where you’d like to study ?”
  • She nodded. “ Uniford. They have a fantastic graduate psychology program there .”
  • The two talked a bit more about Rose’s plan for the future. He liked that she seemed to have a goal in mind and wasn’t just drifting through life, trying to figure things out. For someone still fairly young, she was very grounded in reality. He also liked that she planned to stay local after she finished her Bachelor’s. That meant it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep working for him .
  • By the time dinner was over and the twins had run off to do god knows what, he’d made up his mind. Rose would be the perfect addition to the household.
  • “The twins seem to like you,” Luke said as they sat in the sitting room again, sharing another glass of wine .
  • “They’re both great kids. You’ve done a wonderful job of raising them . Although I know that it was stressful .”
  • “I hope you can see why I’m in need of a good nanny. The twins are a handful, and I’ve poured myself into my work for so long that I can’t do this alone .”
  • Rose nodded, her chocolate eyes locking on his once again. Her face was lighting up. Maybe it was the prospect of a challenge, or maybe she just felt bad for him. Either way, Luke could tell she wanted the job .
  • “Should we talk about your payment ?”
  • Her eyes widened as she stared at him.
  • “R…really? You... you’re not going to interview anyone else ?”
  • “I had interviews all morning. Do you see any of them here tonight? You were the one who stood out. And after seeing how the twins took to you so quickly… I don’t see a point in questioning fate… at least… if you’re still interested in the position . Besides what I told you yesterday, you will be the perfect one for them. Didn’t I?”
  • Luke clenched his fist as he waited for Rose to respond. He wanted her to say yes. It was more than just his need for a nanny though. He’d enjoyed Rose’s company tonight, even if he spent most of the evening watching her talk to the twins.