Home > The Nanny (RUINED CASTLE #3)

The Nanny (RUINED CASTLE #3)
Author: Vivian Wood

 

THE NANNY

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

KEIRAN

 

 

My heart is in my throat. I don’t have time to think.

I’m moving on instinct alone, shoving Natasha aside and yelling for the tour guide to help restrain her.

I’ll deal with her soon enough.

Right now, my focus is on the two pairs of hands desperately gripping the side of the ruins. One pair belongs to my daughter, Isla. The other pair, just as delicate but slightly larger, belongs to Ella.

I can’t imagine losing either one of them, let alone both at once.

My brain is replaying the last few seconds on a loop. Isla in her oversized dress, walking too close to the edge of the Coliseum. Beautiful, slight Ella right behind her, wearing a navy sundress.

Natasha in her usual all-black outfit, moving so quickly it would have been nearly impossible to stop her. The heart-rending moment when she stomped on my daughter’s foot. And then the horrifying lurch of my stomach as Natasha gave Ella a shove that was intended to send them both falling to their death at the base of the Colosseum.

I swear, in that moment, my whole world ceased to exist. As I gaped at the three figures, for a second Ella and Isla genuinely seemed to disappear. The strangled sound that left my throat was one of horror.

I ran, flat out, tripping as I hurled myself closer to the edge of the Colisuem. Then I see the hands clinging to the side, fingernails digging into the ancient stone.

Somehow, they have managed to hold on.

I drop to my knees, balancing myself as I lean over the edge. Grabbing Isla by the wrists, I haul her up and set her on the ground next to me. She clings to me, but I shake her off.

“Just a second,” I say, gritting my teeth. I set to work pulling Ella to safety. She is slight, her brown eyes looking terrified. I grab both wrists and back up, pulling her awkwardly in a haphazard fashion.

Ella doesn’t say anything, although she grunts a few times as I pull her up. She might be a tiny ballerina, but it’s still a feat to drag her up while not letting myself fall.

At one point, Ella shifts and I fumble my grip. “Keir!” she cries.

“I’ve got you,” I mutter through gritted teeth, raising her up from the side of the ruins inch by inch. We’re both sweating and gravity is working against us, but there’s no way in hell I’m letting Ella slip from my grasp. “It’s okay. You’re going to be okay.”

When I manage to get her onto solid ground, I can feel my heart pounding so hard against my ribs that I bring my hand to my chest. My heart squeezes and my eyes water, but I never take my eyes off of Ella and Isla.

They’re both okay.

Thank god. Thank god!

I yank them both into the tightest embrace possible. They both feel cold and I blink, feeling tears pressing on me. I clear my throat and bury my face in Isla’s ringlets, dizzy with my relief.

Ella stirs, finally giving voice to her feelings of shock.

“She tried to kill us,” Ella gasps, breathless as I finally pull her up into my arms. “Did you see her push us?”

“I saw everything,” I nod, tucking Isla into our hug as well.

Closing my eyes tightly, I struggle to breathe. If things had gone only slightly differently, I would not be holding either of the girls in my arms. The ache in my chest from knowing what could be — what Natasha had hoped would happen — sticks with me for long seconds.

I almost lost both of them.

“Daddy, you’re hugging me too hard,” Isla says, her voice small.

“I’m sorry, darling,” I murmur. Only now do I loosen my grasp by an inch.

“It’s okay,” she says. Isla turns her attention to Ella, her face crumpling. “You saved me.”

Ella cups Isla’s face, dropping a kiss to one cheek. She hugs her close.

“Of course I saved you, kiddo. I would never let anything happen to you.” Ella tries to soothe her by rubbing her back in wide circles. “Your father feels the same way, I’m sure.”

Watching Ella hug Isla makes my chest tighten all over again. I love Isla so dearly that seeing Ella’s clear affection for her makes me feel as though the lines and boundaries of my emotions are all blurred. My love for Isla bleeds over to Ella for a few moments.

It feels… strange.

I have to shift my attention back to Isla.

“I am so glad you are okay.” I bend my head and brush my lips over the crown of Isla’s fiery red curls. “I love you.”

Ella lifts her head, looking behind me to Natasha. “What’s going to happen with your assistant?”

My back is still turned to Natasha and the tour guide, but I trust that he has her under control for now. I just need a few more seconds with Isla and Ella and I want to keep both of them as close to me as possible.

“She’s going to pay for what she did,” I promise.

Isla looks up at me with tears in her eyes. “Why did she push us? Why would she do that?”

Her tiny voice is trembling and that look — Jesus, that terrified, confused look — stabs me right through the heart.

“I don’t know, sweetheart, but I won’t let her hurt you.” I squeeze my eyes shut for a second as the fear and panic I’ve been feeling up until now starts to give way to pure, white-hot rage. “She won’t ever get a chance to do something like that again. She won’t hurt anyone from a prison cell, which is where she’s going.”

A shout from the tour guide interrupts the quiet, thankful moment I’m having with the girls, and I turn just in time to see Natasha slip from his grasp.

Oh, fuck no.

“Stay right here,” I say to Ella. “Call the police.”

I can hear my daughter shouting after me as I run after Natasha. “Don’t let her get away!”

Isla doesn’t need to worry. I’ll chase Natasha across the whole damn city, across the entire Italian peninsula if I have to. She will be held accountable for what she did — for trying to murder my daughter and my… whatever Ella is to me.

Natasha is surprisingly spritely given the fact that she wears black leather pants. But remembering how close I came to losing my daughter and Ella gives me an extra burst of adrenaline that allows me to overtake my murderous assistant. I close in on her, pouncing.

“What the fuck were you thinking?” I shout. I make contact with her body and tackle her to the ground.

Natasha releases a throaty bellow as she lands with a thud. “Keir!”

She tries to wriggle free and her hand connects with my jaw, slapping me before I can completely pin her down. I’m so angry, so focused on getting some answers out of her that I barely even feel the sting from the hit.

I stare down into her face, breathing hard, my rage flowing freely. She looks back at me, wild-eyed, her loose brown curls jutting out in every direction.

“I trusted you, Natasha. I let you into my life and you tried to kill my daughter. A child, for God’s sake.”

There’s a manic gleam in her eyes as she stops struggling and smiles at me. “I did it for you, Keiran. For us.”

She isn’t making any sense, but I’m more troubled by her expression. Just as I have her pinned on the ground, she has me pinned with her intense gaze. As though we are connecting by being this close.

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