A Mail-Order Dream

By: Janelle Daniels

He nodded once, but it still wasn’t polite. She’d seen the look of revulsion in his eyes once he’d guessed at her ancestry. She was used to it by now, after everything she’d gone through in Philadelphia, but since coming to Promise Creek, and realizing not everyone held similar prejudices, she had let her guard down. She needed to thicken her skin, once again.

Apparently, this was hostile territory.

He disappeared into a room in the back, and she heard him speaking to someone, but couldn’t make out any of the words.

She smoothed a hand down her skirt, hoping to settle her nerves. He will hire you.

The man came back and motioned for her to join him behind the counter. “Mr. Grant will see you now.”

She followed him over the shiny marble tiles on the floor and into the back portion of the bank.

“He’s through there. Knock, then walk through,” he instructed, before returning to his post at the counter.

Her neck strained as her gaze followed his movements. “Thank you.” Not that he cared about her gratitude, but she wouldn’t be ungrateful. The man didn’t know it yet, but they were about to be employed by the same person.

Refusing to give herself more time to fret, she opened the door and stepped in to Mr. Grant’s office.

The scent of beeswax and lemon hit her nose. The floor was covered in thick planks of polished wood, which matched the over-sized mahogany desk in the middle of the room, and was equally as formidable as the man who currently sat behind it. The desk looked austere and hard, and she desperately wanted to advise him to add a potted plant or two to soften the space up, but wisely, she held her tongue.

“You may sit,” he said, without looking up from the letter he was writing.

At his words, she moved into one of the chairs across from his desk. She remained silent on the uncushioned chair, patiently waiting for him to address her when he was ready. Demanding his attention was no way to start off their business arrangement.

With nothing else to do, she studied him, noting that he seemed as cold as the room around them. His pen flew across the page with minimal flourishes, little fuss, and without an ounce of hesitation. His dirty-blond hair was a little longer than she would’ve expected from a business man of his stature, but she couldn’t judge people here based on what she knew from back east. It was different out west; the rules were different.

With a final scrawl of his signature, he stamped the paper and filed it into one of his drawers. He turned the key in the drawer’s lock and pocketed it, before finally looking her way. The impact of his dark eyes sent flutters shooting through her belly, but she mentally scolded herself. It didn’t matter how handsome he was, he was going to be her boss.

He leaned back in his chair. “You’re Aria McKinnon?”

“Yes, sir.”

A look of disappointment crossed his features. “You’re here about the nanny position?”

“Yes. I’ve spoken with Mrs. Farnsworth, and she believes I will be a good fit.”

“She told me.” He cocked his head a little as he studied her. “I’m not sure I agree with her assessment.”

She tried not to squirm under his gaze. “I assure you I’m more than qualified. I’m one of the older children in my family of eight, and I have plenty of practice looking after my siblings. I also was a nanny for a family back in Philadelphia.” She didn’t add she’d looked after them for a grand total of three days, before the children’s parents had asked to speak with her. She’d been let go almost immediately.

“I don’t doubt you could do the job.”

Her chin notched up. “If this is because of my hair color—”

“Excuse me?”

“Och! You know what I’m talking about.” Her accent emerged a little along with her temper. But frankly, she didn’t care. She was tired of being judged based on her looks.

“Apparently, I don’t. I don’t care what your hair color is. I’m certain you’ll be married off before you ever have time to settle in. You’re much too pretty to last long.”

The wind blew out of her. “I’m too… You mean, you don’t want to hire me because you think I’ll get married soon, and not because I’m Irish?”

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