Home > Cinder-Nanny

Cinder-Nanny
Author: Sariah Wilson

 

 


CHAPTER ONE

“Alice? Hi! It’s me. I got it. I got the job!” I couldn’t help but squeal the last word. I was still in shock that this had all happened. I’d done it. The so-amazing-it-felt-like-I-had-dreamed-it-up job was mine.

“Diana?” my sister asked, sounding a little groggy. Sometimes that happened after dialysis, depending on how fast they’d had to cycle her blood. Or maybe she’d been taking a well-deserved nap. I thought I’d waited long enough after her session to call her to share this incredible news, but maybe not. “What job?” she asked, sounding slightly more alert. “The one at Carl’s Crab Shack?”

“No.” That had been my original plan, to take on a third job waitressing on weekends at a nearby tourist restaurant. But instead I was going to be a nanny, across the country in Aspen, Colorado. For three months, and I was going to be paid forty thousand dollars.

Forty thousand dollars that we desperately needed.

“I got that nanny job,” I said.

“The one that you’re completely unqualified for?”

“Hey!” That she was correct was beside the point. “I’m qualified enough. I’ve done a ton of babysitting. Not to mention that I’ve looked after Jenna and Jasper thousands of times.” Babysitting Alice’s seven-year-old twins had been like watching twenty kids at once.

“When they said ‘professional experience,’ they meant as a nanny. And if I’m remembering right, which I admit is hit-or-miss these days,” she said, “you also needed to be fluent in French, have a master’s degree in childhood development, and be an Olympic-level skier.”

“Zero out of three ain’t bad,” I joked, but she didn’t laugh. “Oh, come on. Your twins have given me all the child expertise that I need. And I can probably get some French CDs from the library to listen to. Plus, how hard can skiing actually be? You’re just strapping yourself to some long boards and coasting gently downhill.”

Even though she didn’t respond, I could feel her disapproval here in Maine all the way from Florida.

I knew what Alice wanted to say but wouldn’t. Ever since she’d taken me in at the age of sixteen, we’d made each other a promise: That we would never be like our mother. That we would always be honest. When a coworker of mine had sent me the job listing for the nanny position in Aspen via email, she had meant it in a “can you believe this is real?” sort of way, but I’d applied once I’d seen the salary.

The Crawfords had ridiculously high expectations for a short-term nanny for their five-year-old son, Milo, and I had lied and said that I met each and every one of them. Mrs. Crawford seemed very pleased about this; I suspected that was because it was two days before they were set to arrive in Aspen, and obviously, no other person on the planet actually had the qualifications they wanted. (I was also supposed to be a math whiz, certified in teaching small children, and an etiquette expert. Ha.) This was also why they were paying so much money. I had to imagine that they’d kept increasing the offer until they’d found someone.

It had taken very little effort to create an online presence with social media that backed up my tall tales / lies, and my two roommates had served as my “references.” It was a good thing Mrs. Crawford hadn’t done a background check, because everything would have unraveled fairly quickly. Fortunately for me, she had bought it all hook, line, and sinker.

At least my con-artist mother had been good for something.

Alice sighed her disapproval but still stayed quiet. Which was good, because I would have been very honest with her in that moment if she’d made me explain myself.

My sister was in renal failure. Her kidneys had stopped functioning entirely, and she now had to go to dialysis three times a week, four hours at a time. I was a match and could be her donor, but her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Chad, was messing everything up. She was fighting him in court for alimony and child support, and in retaliation, he’d removed her and the kids from his health insurance. The court had ordered that she and the children be added on again, but now Chad was fighting that ruling. The legal system moved slowly. Too slowly.

Which meant that she didn’t qualify for health care assistance because legally, technically, she was supposed to already have private insurance.

It was maddening.

I didn’t know how much time she had, and I wasn’t willing to wait.

We’d been able to work out a deal with the hospital (with some grants from local charities), and it was going to cost $37,632.13 to get the operation performed. This gig was an answer to my prayers. There was no way, even working three jobs, that I would have ever come up with that kind of money. I was already sending Alice all the extra cash I had so that she could buy groceries.

And in my defense, I’d managed to keep the pact she and I had made for the last seven years. I had always been honest. Sometimes painfully so, avoiding even the white lies that seemed so small and simple and harmless but could easily lead into bigger and bigger lies.

But to save Alice, I would have lied to and/or made a bargain with the devil himself. I would have happily committed any number of felonies to make sure she got the operation. I didn’t feel any guilt over what I’d done with this job, because it was going to keep my sister alive. I was going to give her the entire amount. I was probably supposed to pay taxes on the money from the Crawfords so that I wouldn’t be jailed for tax evasion, but I was going to deal with one possible felony at a time.

“So you’re really going to do this?” she asked.

“Yes.”

She must have heard the conviction in my voice, that there was no way for her to talk me out of it, because she didn’t press me any further. Instead she asked, “When do you leave?”

“Tomorrow,” I said.

“Tomorrow. You’re going to Aspen tomorrow. I can’t believe that. You staying in some high-end resort in . . . oh wait! Do you know who’s supposedly in Aspen right now?” she asked, and I couldn’t help but nod in satisfaction. I’d won this round, and she wasn’t going to give me a hard time about it.

I leaned against the sofa. “Chase Covington?”

“No.” She brushed aside my answer with a sound of disgust. “Griffin Windsor.”

“Who?”

“He’s a British lord.”

“Does that mean he’s a count? ‘One, two, three British lords, ah, ah, ah,’” I said in a bad Transylvanian accent. When Alice didn’t respond, I helpfully added on, “The Count? Like that purple Muppet on Sesame Street?”

I could practically hear her rolling her eyes through the phone. “He’s not a count. He’s the Earl of Strathorne.”

“I still don’t know why I should care.”

“He’s part of the royal family.”

Oh, now I was getting why she was bringing up his title. One of her dialysis buddies was a woman who practically worshipped the British royal family and all of its many branches and had somehow managed to suck my sister into her obsession.

“And?” I asked, wondering why she was telling me. I’d made it pretty clear on previous occasions that I didn’t care about British royalty. I’d told her once that we’d fought the Revolution so that none of us had to care, but that hadn’t gone over too well.

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