A Mail-Order Dream

By: Janelle Daniels

He looked undecided for a moment, but then a smile slowly brightened his face. “Can I bring my ball?”

Chapter 3

Cam’s steps ate up the boardwalk as he walked down the street toward his home, which didn’t have much land, but was close to the bank — his work — and that’s all he cared about. His assistant, Mr. Jacobson, occasionally had to jog to keep up with him. “Send a note to Mr. Smythe at National union  , informing him I need his answer by the end of the week about the property. After that, I’m pulling the offer.”

“Yes, sir.” Mr. Jacobson jotted the note down as they continued walking.

“Also, cancel the ad for a nanny. The position has been filled.”

“Shall I have it put on hold for two weeks, just in case…” His words trailed off when Cam abruptly stopped walking.

Cam didn’t need to hear from anyone else how difficult it had been to find a suitable nanny, and then keep them from quitting within the first week. Cam knew his children were a handful. But heavens above! Couldn’t just one of the several women he’d hired handle them?

He didn’t have time for this. There was always someone demanding his attention, a deal that needed his focus. He couldn’t worry about whether Thomas put a lizard in the nanny’s hat, or if Phoebe constantly snuck jam cookies out of the kitchen and stained her dresses.

He’d never failed at anything in his life until he’d tried to be a husband and father. He wasn’t equipped for the job, as Penelope had told him on almost a daily basis, and he didn’t need the constant reminder from everyone else too. The fact that the bank needed his time and focus was best for everyone.

He started walking again. “If we need to advertise again, I’ll send a new set of requirements.”

“Yes, sir.”

Good. That’s all Cam wanted to hear. He wanted his words to be obeyed without question. He wanted to know that once he said something, it would be taken care of. It was so much simpler that way. “Oh, and I need you to send a message to… to…”

He paused his steps just outside the gate when his son tore around the side of the house, kicking a ball and yelling as Phoebe and Aria McKinnon followed him.

“You’ll never catch me!” Thomas crowed. “I’m the fastest pirate of them all!”

Pirate? What in the world…

Aria pointed a branch at his son after corning him against the gate. “Hold it right there, you mangy three-legged toad!” Phoebe and Thomas both guffawed. “I am the infamous Black-eyed Jane, the most feared female pirate in the whole world. And now, you’re my prisoner!”

Apparently, Thomas didn’t want to accept that. He charged Aria, knocking her to the ground.

She groaned, and Cam worried she might be hurt. When his son charged a second time, Cam yelled, “What is the meaning of this!”

The three of them jumped.

He pushed through the gate, and his eyes took in Aria’s trim calves and ankles as she sprawled on the ground. She flushed the color of her hair and yanked down her skirt, covering her shapely legs.

His children wouldn’t look at him, let alone speak, and he wondered how their relationship with him had ended up here. He didn’t want them to fear him, he just wanted them to behave.

Aria looked between the kids and him, her lips firming, before she stood. “Hello, Mr. Grant. I hope you’ve had a pleasant morning. Is there something we can do for you?”

Her icy formal attitude, after seeing her frolicking with the children, got under his skin. “I’d like to know why my children are running about like hooligans and not inside, seeing to the tasks I laid out for them.”

“We were taking a break.”

Her gaze didn’t break from his, and he couldn’t say exactly why, but he knew she was lying.

“Children need fresh air and to stretch their legs on occasion. It will help them focus.”

Cam turned toward his assistant. “Mr. Jacobson, please return to the bank. I’ll be there shortly to finish going over your tasks.” When the man left, Cam then looked at his children. “Thomas and Phoebe, go to the nursery and start on your lessons.”

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