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Lost to You
Author: Kelly Elliott

 

Palmer

October 31

 

 

A nanny.

What in the hell was my sister Addie thinking when she volunteered me for a position as a nanny? For starters, I’d never babysat once in my entire life. The closest I’d come to babysitting was looking after the dogs I walked for a living. Well, that was one of my jobs, anyway. Let’s just say I was more comfortable with animals than small children.

Anyone who knew me knew I’d make a terrible nanny. I’m too free-spirited. I’d let the kid get away with everything, for goodness’ sake. Not to mention I’d have no idea what to do with them. At least with a dog I knew how to entertain them. But a child… the thought made my entire body quake.

“A nanny,” I mumbled as I watched my sister Addie walk down the aisle toward her high school sweetheart, Gannon. They were finally getting married after life had kept them apart for far too long.

I smiled as I watched my father place Addie’s hand in Gannon’s. It was a small wedding, and the best part about it was that it was taking place on Halloween. The rainy weather had caused the wedding to be moved from outside to inside, but everything was so beautiful and my sister had never looked happier. In the end, that was all that mattered.

Drawing in a deep breath to keep from crying, I looked past the happy couple and my eyes caught sight of the father who had recently been occupying my thoughts.

Mason Bryan.

Father to Charlie, who was five years old and had started kindergarten in Seaside after they’d moved here from Boston. He was probably the cutest kid I’d ever met—not that I had met a ton of kids in my twenty-seven years. Mason was the new doctor in Seaside, and with his good looks, he’d become pretty popular among the sick and the not-so-sick.

Did I mention the man was hot as hell? Even the local gossip column had written about him a few times already. And according to Addie—who worked as Mason’s office manager and helped out with patients since she was also a nurse—the rise in female patients had been hitting record numbers. Apparently, there were several women in Seaside who had suddenly become sick after Mason took over the practice from Dr. James, our town’s previous doctor for as long as I could remember.

“Stop staring at the hot doctor,” my sister Sutton whispered next to me.

I shot her a dirty look. “I’m not!” I hissed.

She raised her brows and gave me a questioning smirk.

“I wasn’t staring!” I whisper-shouted. That caused Addie, Gannon, and the preacher to turn and look at me. My cheeks instantly heated, and I gave them all a quick smile while mouthing sorry.

Once the wedding ceremony was over and an endless number of pictures had been taken, we all made our way to the reception room, where the party really began. It warmed my heart to see my two sisters, Addie and Sutton, so happy and in love. A small part of me was jealous, but I’d come to realize that the word love and I were not kindred spirits. I’d had one too many bad relationships to even consider getting involved with anyone again. At least not anytime soon.

My mind traveled back to Mason, aka the hot doctor, with his dark blond hair and hazel eyes. I quickly pushed that thought away.

After a few hours of playing the dutiful bridesmaid, I found a chair and sat down to rest my aching feet and watch everyone enjoying themselves. My sister Sutton was dancing with Brody, her husband of only a month or so. I couldn’t help but smile as Brody dipped her and she let out a laugh. My eyes drifted to the right, and I caught sight of Addie and Gannon in a sweet embrace on the dance floor.

Nope. Not jealous at all. Not one bit.

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Brody and Gannon were brothers, so it was kind of sweet they’d married two sisters.

Sighing, I lifted my wine glass and took a sip while I scanned the room. Suddenly, a little boy with the bluest eyes appeared in front of me.

Placing my wine glass on the table behind me, I said, “Hi there, Charlie.”

He gifted me with a brilliant smile. Oh dear, he was gonna be a heartbreaker someday, there was no doubt about that.

“May I have to dance?”

I drew my brows down in confusion. “I’m sorry?”

“For what?” Charlie asked.

I shook my head. “No, I mean, what are you asking?”

He looked up at the ceiling and then mumbled something before he asked, “May I have this dance?”

I felt a little chuckle slip free. “Why, of course. I’d be honored to dance with you, Charlie.”

The little guy held out his hand, I took it, and we both walked to the dance floor.

As we swayed to the beat, I leaned down and said, “You’re a lovely dancer, Charlie.”

He smiled, and it was then I noticed his missing front tooth. Lord, could he be any cuter?

“Thank you! You dance good thoo, Ms. Palmer.”

Oh goodness, the toothless lisp.

“Can I walk a dog with you sometime?”

Laughing, I replied, “I think I could arrange that.”

The song ended and I leaned down and kissed Charlie on the cheek. “Thank you for the dance, Charlie.”

He blushed and kicked at nothing on the floor before he turned and rushed across the room to my mother, who bent down to hear what he had to say. I knew my mom was going to make an amazing grandmother one day when one of her kids finally had a baby.

“Seems like you’ve captured the heart of my son.”

I spun around and came face to face with Mason. It wasn’t like I had never talked to him before. I had, but it was when I’d thought he was simply a tourist moving through town. At the time I had also thought he was hot. Really, really hot. The man made my heart beat like a hummingbird’s wings.

Smiling, I replied, “I think it’s the other way around.”

Something moved across Mason’s face before he cleared his throat. “Palmer, I’ve been meaning to talk to you.”

Oh. Crap. He’s going to ask me to be his son’s nanny. Run, Palmer! Run!

I managed to keep the panic out of my voice as I asked, “What’s that?” I closed my eyes when I heard my voice go up a few octaves.

“Adelaide mentioned that you might be interested in possibly being Charlie’s nanny.”

Before I could say anything, he went on.

“I understand you have other jobs, and I’m sure we can work around them. Charlie is in school from seventy-thirty until two-thirty. I wouldn’t need you during those hours. The office is closed on Fridays and the weekend, so those would be free too.”

Before I had a chance to tell him that I wasn’t exactly nanny material—even though I adored his son—my mother appeared with Charlie in tow.

“This little boy is certainly a charmer, Dr. Bryan,” my mother said. Did she bat her eyes at the good doctor? Lord, give me strength.

Mason flashed her a bright smile and my stupid stomach did a little flip at the sight of his dimples.

Okay, ignore the way he makes you feel, Palmer. Ignore it.

Then, if possible, his smile grew bigger. Goodness, the man had a face that could light up a room.

“Please, call me Mason.”

Holy hell, was my mother blushing?

“Mason it is,” she said.

Charlie started to dance around and grab at himself. “Daddy, I have to go to potty.”

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