The following month was spent with Robert and Patricia screening prospective nannies. They provided Casey with the ones they felt would be the best candidates for the job. Lynn a young woman with a flair for the dramatics and a gift for music. Eleanor a graduate student from business law looking to pay off her student loans. The final candidate was Pamela who had a winning smile and happy disposition. Patricia liked her best feeling she would be a good fit for Casey and Eddie. Robert on the other hand had reservations about her sincerity. She was a little too smooth and nice, he had the impression she was hiding something.
Casey reviewed the candidate qualifications and read the comments that Robert included from their interviews. He decided that the only way he was going to be able to decide which nanny would be the best fit for him and Eddie was to give each of them a trial run. Each would have one week, living in his house so that he could observe how they interacted with his son and for him to see if he could tolerate them living in his house.
The first one was Pamela, she arrived Monday morning with a brilliant smile and ready laugh that sounded like music. Casey couldn’t help but be drawn to her upbeat personality. She had been there for four days and Casey thought about cancelling the other two candidates. He enjoyed coming home evenings to the sound of his son laughing as Pamela lavished Eddie with attention. Smiling Casey went to change clothes.
Upon entering his bedroom, Casey had the uneasy feeling that someone had been through his things. He couldn’t place his finger on why, nothing looked out-of-place, just a little rumpled. Opening his dresser drawer his normally meticulously folded clothes were wrinkled as if they had been moved and put back. He didn’t have much and what little he had is in the bank, except for his rainy day fund. He had been saving, setting a little aside from every paycheck for Eddie’s birthday. Kneeling he pulled out the bottom drawer, it too looked rumpled and out-of-place. Taking out the small tin, pulling off the lid. Empty! Just the other day he had over five hundred dollars in it.
“Pam we need to talk,” he said upon entering Eddies room.
Looking up Pamela smiled nodding, she picked up Eddie placing him in his playpen. She followed Casey out into the living room “what’s up?” she asked sweetly.
Grimly Casey held out the empty tin “did you take it?”
Staring at the tin then back at Casey she shook her head.
“Don’t lie to me,” Casey said through clenched teeth “I know someone’s been through my things. You’re the only person I know whose had the opportunity to do it.”
“It wasn’t me,” Pamela crossed her arms daring him to contradict her.
“If not you, then who did you let into my house?” Casey asked refusing to back down. “I’m not stupid so don’t treat me like I am.”
With a smirk she came up him “no you’re just an easy mark. If I had wanted to, I could have emptied this entire house. Instead I took your measly five hundred dollars.”
“I want it back,” Casey insisted.
“You’re dreaming,” she replied.
Balling his hand into fists Casey knew he’d never see his money again. “You’re done,” Casey told her. “I want you out of my house tonight.”
“But …. but I don’t have anyplace to go,” she sputtered her beautiful blue eyes misting up.
“You should have thought of that before you stole from me,” Casey said unmoved by her tears.
“You can’t just throw me out,” she protested.
“Again how is that my problem,” he shot back at her.
“What about Eddie? Who’ll watch him if you send me packing,” she smiled thinking she had him over a barrel.
Wanting nothing more than to wipe that irritating smile from her face he pulled his phone out. “Hey Rob, how’s it going?…. Good ….. Hey I need a favor. The nanny isn’t working out and I’m in need of a babysitter for the rest of the week ….. That’s great, thank you …. The next nanny starts on Monday … I’ll talk to you later …. ok good night.”
Smiling back at her “as you probably already heard Eddie’s taken care of. Now get out!”
Early Monday morning the new nanny arrived, smiling at Casey as he opened the door. “Hi I’m Eleanor,” she held out her hand.
Taking her hand Casey liked what he saw so far “come in Ms….”
“Just call me Eleanor,” she suggested walking past him.
“Ok,” Casey agreed a little put off by her informal ways. Frowning as he watched her inspect the room she was in. Not one word or question about his son had Casey wondering why she was there.
Completing her circuit around the room she pointed towards the easel “do you paint?”
Shrugging Casey said “yes” to her question.
“Oh these are lovely,” she said looking at the many paintings spread throughout the room. “Did you paint them?”
“Yes,” Casey crossed his arms as his irritation grew at her many questions. “Aren’t you the tiniest bit interested in knowing anything about my son? You know the one you’ll be watching.”
“Oh we have all day to get to know each other,” waving his question away. “You’re really good, have you thought about getting a manager and setting up an exhibit?”
“No,” Casey shook he head “look you’re here to care for my son, not to be my manager. Don’t you think you should be asking me relevant questions about Eddie’s care instead of my artwork?”
“What else do I need to know? I’ve read his file, he doesn’t have allergies, disabilities or illnesses. He’s a kid, what else is there to know?”
“Spoken like someone who doesn’t have kids,” Casey mumbled. Glancing at his watch “damn I’m going to be late.” Looking at Eleanor he wasn’t sure he wanted to leave his son in her care.
Smiling sweetly at him “go don’t worry about Edwin, he’ll be just fine.”
Letting himself be pushed out his own door, Casey stood outside rubbing his neck. Sighing he went to the car and pulled out his phone “Rob would you mind checking on Eddie throughout the day? …. No I don’t like the new nanny …. She’s more concerned about my lack of a manager then Eddie’s welfare …. She didn’t even know his name, called him Edwin …. Thanks Rob I owe you one.”
Coming home that night, it was unusually quiet. He’d gotten so used to coming home and hearing his son’s laughter that worry creased his forehead as unpleasant memories of the past came to mind. Eleanor jumped up from the couch as he entered the room.
“Oh good you’re home,” she clapped her hands “I’ve made a few inquiries …”
“Where’s Eddie?” Casey asked cutting her off.
“Taking a nap,” she said “now as I was saying…..”
“He shouldn’t be sleeping now,” Casey walked into his son’s room. “He’ll never sleep tonight.” Turning on the light, Eddie popped up from his crib “daddy home.” He lifted his little arms up to Casey.
Cuddling his son Casey felt the unmistakable dampness in his son’s diaper.
“How long has he been in this wet diaper?”
“How should I know when he wet himself?” Eleanor shrugged. “He wasn’t wet when I put him down.”
“and when was that?” Casey asked feeling his anger rise as he changed his son’s diaper observing the unmistakable evidence of a rash beginning from a dirty diaper that had been on too long.
Shrugging “I don’t know maybe an hour or two. I was busy and he was fussy so I put him down for a nap.” Making a face as the smell from the soiled diaper reached her nose, “besides I was working for your best interests in setting up an art exhibit at the gallery. I know what I’m doing, that is what I went to school for ….”
“I don’t need an exhibit or manager,” Casey said snuggling Eddie to him. “What I need is a good nanny to take care of the best interests of my son.”
“You’ve got it all wrong. You’re an amazing artist, you just need the right person to be your manager. I can be …..”
“You don’t get it do you?” Casey said his tone low and steady, his anger bubbling under the surface. “What if I don’t want to be famous?”
“Of course you do, everybody does,” she looked at him like he had grown a second head.
Scowling at her “I already have notoriety, I don’t want or need to be famous. I like what I do. I enjoy being an art critic. Painting is my hobby not my life.”
“But it could be so much more,” she said enthusiastically only hearing what she wanted to hear. Her eyes sparkling as she continued to try to persuade him to her way of thinking “Just one exhibit that’s all I ask and you’ll see how good you really are.”
“Weren’t you listening?” Casey asked his voice harsher than he expected. Eddie looked up at him in surprise beginning to whimper “Shhh it’s ok little man, Daddy’s not upset with you,” he comforted his son hugging him close.
“I don’t understand,” she said voice quivering on the verge of crying. “I only wanted to help.”
“You could have helped by doing your job and taking care of my son,” Casey sighed “look I’ll do the exhibit but this,” waving his hand “isn’t going to work. I need someone I can rely on to look after my son. I need someone I’m confident will have his best interests first not have their own agenda. I’m sorry.”
“I could stay until the end of the week,” she offered “I promise this won’t happen again.”
“I appreciate the offer but no I’ll make other arrangements.” Casey watched as she walked dejected into her room to pack.
Tossing Eddie into the air he wondered if he’d ever find the right nanny to watch his son. “Two down one to go,” he said out loud “What do you think little man, will the next nanny be a keeper?” Eddie giggled nodding his head “I hope you’re right.”
The last Nanny was due to arrive any minute and Casey could feel his anxiety sky rocketing. Would this one be the right fit for him and Eddie? He reviewed the comments Robert had written down for him. He noticed that this one was Robert’s first choice. Maybe he should have started with her instead of wasting his time with the other two.
A soft knock on the door jolted him out of his thoughts as he went to answer it. A young woman with bright red hair stood in front of him. Looking up she smiled holding out her hand “Hi I’m Lynn Matthews and you must be Mr. Bennett.”
He smiled as he took her hand, noting she was friendly and confident. “Please come in Ms. Matthews,” he stood aside to let her pass, closing the door behind them.
Turning Lynn smiled again “you mentioned in your son’s profile that he doesn’t have any allergies but I was wondering if there are any foods he doesn’t like. You know like beets, I hate beets and won’t eat them, no matter how they’re disguised.”
Chuckling a little “my son’s not a picky eater but thank you for asking.” Casey found himself drawn to this young woman and her obvious interest in getting to know his son by asking thought out questions.
“I love children and I helped my mom run a daycare in our basement when I was growing up.” She glanced around the room and Casey braced himself for the next question to be about his artwork. “You have a lovely home Mr. Bennett. Do you mind if we sit?”
Surprised that she hadn’t mentioned his artwork and a little embarrassed that he hadn’t invited her to sit, he motioned towards the sitting area “please sit make yourself at home.”
“Thank you,” she said after settling done on the couch and waiting for Casey to sit. “You mentioned that your son doesn’t have any illnesses but if he were to become ill and I have to take him to the doctor, are there any medications he’s allergic to?”
“None that I’m aware of,” Casey replied. They spent the next several minutes discussing Eddie and what he expected from her as his nanny. “Basically Ms. Matthews I want someone who will take an interest in my son and give him the attention he needs while I’m gone. At night, when I’m home I expect to care for my son myself and you are free to pursue whatever interests you. I understand you’re into music?”
“Yes, eventually I hope to make a name for myself in the music business.”
“I hope you reach your goal,” Casey told her getting up from the chair. “I’m sorry I have to be leaving for work now. Do you have any other questions before I go?”
Smiling as she stood “yes does your son prefer being called Edward or Eddie?”
Shrugging Casey laughed “I don’t know if he has a preference yet. He answers to both.” After walking towards the door he added “just don’t call him Edwin.”
“Why would I do that?” She laughed confused.
Shaking his head Casey sighed “the last nanny kept calling him Edwin and didn’t seem to notice there was a difference.”
Laughing harder Lynn snorted “I bet I know who that was, Eleanor right? She probably was more interested in you and managing your artwork than in watching Eddie.”
“Do you know her?” Casey asked.
“You could say that,” Lynn smiled at him “she was my room-mate. When she found out I was a musician she offered to be my manager. When I refused she took offense and moved out.”
Chuckling a little Casey said “I could see her doing that.” Glancing at his watch he knew he had to leave or he’d be late for the third Monday in a row. He enjoyed talking with Lynn and how she was able to be herself. How many girls would snort while laughing? In a way he found it endearing and totally not what he would have found attractive a couple of years ago while he was in college. He had a tendency to go for the more sophisticated ladies but his luck with that left him with a son and an ex-fiance. Shaking his head he was about to close the door when Lynn’s voice stopped him.
“Mr. Bennett?” Lynn called “how do I reach you if something comes up and I have to reach you?”
Coming back inside he wrote his contact information down for her than ran out of the house. He arrived at his desk without a minute to spare but at least he wasn’t late. Sitting down he realized that this was the first time he’d come to work without the familiar worry of leaving his son. He was confident that Eddie was in good hands.
A weight was lifted from his shoulders and he sighed in relief. He got through work with a bounce in his step and a smile on his face and a mind preoccupied with a pair of pretty green eyes. Shaking his head he tried to concentrate on appraising the artwork in front of him and not on his son’s new nanny. A smile crept across his face as his mind once again drifted off.
Coming into the house he heard the unmistakable sound of his son giggling in his room. Walking to his son’s door he watched as Lynn tickled his son sending Eddie into fits of giggles. Eddie looked up and squealed “Daddy’s home.” He lifted his little arms out towards him. Lynn seeing Casey standing in the doorway walked over to him.
Taking Eddie from her, Casey snuggled him close. “So how was your day?”
“Lynn fun. She play with me,” Eddie said with a brilliant smile on his face. “Like Lynn.”
“Do you think she should stay?” Casey asked him. Nodding his head enthusiastically Eddie squealed in delight as Casey tossed him in the air. It felt good to come home from a long day at work and be able to enjoy time with his son.
After feeding Eddie his supper and settling him in his playpen Casey joined Lynn in the living room. Lynn was softly playing a guitar, the melody soft and soothing. Something Casey hadn’t heard before, tearing his eyes away, Casey went to his easel and began to paint. Inspired by the music he was listening to and the easing of the anxiety he had been carrying around with him. He had no awareness of the passage of time until Lynn asked from behind him “would you like something to eat?”
Shaking his head he tried to bring his mind back to the present but all he could do was stare dumbly at her. “I’m sorry what did you say?” he managed.
Laughing softly “I’m not much of a cook but I made a salad. There’s enough if you’d like some.”
“Um thank you,” Casey said as he began the tedious task of cleaning his brushes and putting his paints away so they wouldn’t dry out. Sitting down Casey asked “that song you were playing earlier, did you write it?”
Nodding Lynn looked down at her plate “I wrote it after my mom passed away.”
“I’m sorry,” Casey mumbled. “I didn’t know.”
“It’s ok,” Lynn told him. “She always encouraged me to go after my dreams. Without her support I doubt I would be here today.”
“Sounds like an interesting story,” Casey said smiling to encourage her to continue talking.
“Not when it’s your story. You see when I was younger I went through a rebellious period in my teens. I felt like I was going to self destruct. You know drinking and wild parties, stuff like that. I put my parents through hell but I eventually turned my life around.”
Listening Casey couldn’t help but think of this younger brother, Gene. Maybe he should have been a little more supportive instead of brushing him off, thinking his dreams were foolish. Turning back into Lynn’s voice he heard her say.
“When my mom got sick I told her about my dream of being a musician. I remember telling her I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough to resist the temptations of the lifestyle. That maybe I should just listen to all the doubters and give up before I even tried.” Looking up with tears in her green eyes she asked “do you know what she told me?”
Shaking his Casey wished there was something he could say to comfort her.
“She told me to never quit just because it’d be easier than facing my fears.” She smiled wiping tears from her eyes. “She told me I was stronger than I gave myself credit for.”
Reaching across the table Casey took her hand in his “your mother was right.” Squeezing her hand, Casey promised himself that he would be more understanding and supportive of Gene in the future. He wondered if it was too late to tune into Sim Idol and see how Gene was faring on the show