“You know, if I would have known you’d wait on me hand and foot I would have broken my leg when you were a grouchy teenager.” Mom smiled as she snuggled in to her lazy boy chair.
We had been home less than 15 minutes and she was already making the most of my company.
“I wasn’t a grumpy teenager.” I retorted.
“Oh yes you were.” She laughed. “I remember one evening I asked you if you had a date for prom and you yelled at me about how it was an overrated excuse for immature virgins to book hotels and have a bonk fest.”
I smiled and shook my head. “I said that?” I asked, even though I clearly remembered saying it, I was upset no one had asked me, so I told myself I didn’t really want to go.
“More or less.” She replied.
“Man, no wonder I had trouble making friends.”
Mom rolled her eyes and thumbed the remote. She put on some gossip channel and then clicked her fingers at me. “Wine please!”
“You can’t, your pain medications says not to mix with alcohol.”
“Humph.” She replied.
“Tell you what. I’ll drink the wine, and you can have a grape juice... fair trade.”
Mom turned to look at me, her eyes were cold, and if she could have moved she probably would have swiped me around the back of the head. I giggled and pulled two glasses from the cupboard.
“Two juices it is then.”
I was pouring the juice when something on the television caught my eye. Something familiar. Pictures at the beach. I placed the juice down and ran over to Mom.
“Turn that up.“She listened.
The grainy pictures became clearly and suddenly I realized what I was looking at. It was Dom, Molly and I at the beach. He was holding me, it looked provocative, it didn’t matter that two seconds later I had been in the water splashing around like a kid learning to swim. Then there was a picture of us sitting on the beach, side by side, my hand on his back.
“That is you then? I’m not losing my mind.” Mom whispered, she sounded confused, but right now I couldn’t explain any of this.
I listened to the gossip reporter and my stomach filled with dread.
‘Mr Coran has been single since his wife disappeared two years ago. Well known for his coolness it is any wonder he has been able to find anyone to accept him. The woman in question is the daughter of the late disgraced Gregory Taylor, Head of Taylor Inc. He died before he could face charges for his Ponzi scheme which left his many investors high and dry. Obviously like father like daughter, and Ms Taylor is probably just the type to try and snag someone rich. Can anyone say Gold digger?’
I ran for the bathroom and only just made it in time to empty my gut in the porcelain bowl. This wasn’t happening. The last thing I needed was all eyes on me, critical eyes, more people judging me for the shit my father had caused. It was bad enough that his discrepancies had followed me around almost my entire life. I needed to spend my time repairing the hurt her had caused, even if I was helping those he didn’t directly rip off. By helping Mom, and then Molly, and hopefully one day someone else, however misguided that might have been I had wanted to do it. Now I was little more than a gold digger.
I walked back into the lounge, the reporter was still talking, and I wanted to scream at her to stop, although I knew it wouldn’t do any good.
‘Felicity Taylor, proclaimed to be the Nanny of Mr Coran’s young daughter, but it’s likely the business graduate has schemes of her own to pull off. Both in and outside of the bedroom.’
The Doctor. He’d been an undercover Pap, and I’d fallen for it. I swore under my breath and pulled my phone from my pocket. I hadn’t missed any calls, which probably meant Dominic hadn’t heard about any of it yet.
“What’s going on Felicity?” Mom questioned.
“It’s innocent, a media spin on something far less juicy than they’re making it out to be.” I mumbled.
“Well I can see that much. But why are you so upset by it? You know it isn’t true.”
“Are you kidding? Dad’s bad smell has followed me around for years, and now I have to deal with it all over again.” I frowned, I sat on the couch and looked out the window. “I’ll always just be the daughter of that guy that ripped everyone off.”
Mom reached across her lazy boy and grabbed my hand, squeezing it tightly. “And if they think that, then they don’t know you. You’re the sweetest, most selfless person I know and although I’m biased, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who thinks it. Molly Coran for one thinks you’re amazing.”
I smiled. “She’s 7, she doesn’t know about my past.”
“Your fathers past.” Mom corrected. “And children are honest. If anyone has you right, it’s that little girl.”
Mom changed the channel and smiled at me. “Forget about tabloids, the better you do for yourself, the more they relish in tearing you down, even when you don’t deserve it.”
I stood up and tried to take heed in her words, I walked back into the kitchen and finished pouring the juice, I took Mom’s to her, but before I could sit down my phone rung, I looked at the screen and frowned, it was Dominic. I answered straight away and disappeared into my bedroom.
“Hello?” I said as optimistically as I could, maybe if I was bubbly he wouldn’t angry at me.
“Have you seen it?” He asked, his voice was softer than I expected.
“Yes. The photos.” He scathed. “I knew there was something fishy about the guy with the sunblock.”
There was the anger.
“I’m sorry.” I mumbled.
“Why are you sorry? I forced you to come to the beach.”
“No, no you didn’t.”
“You’re forgetting who I am Ms Taylor. I wanted you there, and I knew what to say to get you to agree. I manipulated you, and now because of me you’ve found yourself with some unwanted attention highlighting details about your fathers past.” He spoke clearly, he was concise, he had practiced what he was going to say, and I found myself smiling, but I was unsure why.
“Manipulated?” I retorted. “Do you think I am so weakling with no self-control?”
“No, I never said that.” He replied.
“Yet you assume I only said yes because of what you said.”
Even if it was true, that I had only gone to the beach because of what he had said, I didn’t want him thinking he had control over me.
“I know you did.” He wasn’t going to back down, so I did. I couldn’t be bothered arguing.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re right or not. I don’t regret the beach trip.” I replied. “With or without the weirdo paparazzo hiding in the sand dunes.”
He didn’t say anything for some time, the empty air hung between us, and it became stagnant. With everything that had happened in the past couple of days, admitting I’d enjoyed myself in his company was tip toeing the line I had promised not to cross again.
“My father isn’t me, and people can assume whatever they like about me.” I added, breaking the silence “It doesn’t make it true. I am just Molly’s nanny, and I’m the furthest from a gold digger you can get. That is the truth.”
“Is it?” Dominic replied instantly. “Are you denying you were in my bed the night before the beach trip, and then again that night as well?”
“No.” I choked. “I’m not denying that.”
“You may not be a gold digger, but you’re more than just Molly’s Nanny.” What did that mean?
“I am just Molly’s Nanny. What happened won’t happen again.”
More silence, except this time I could feel Dominic’s anger beginning to radiate from the phone. “I’ll see you when you return. Don’t worry about the tabloids, I’ll set them straight.” His voice was cold. “Goodbye.”
“Good bye sir.“I hung up the phone and threw it at the bed.
As much as I proclaimed that it didn’t bother me, it did. My father had tarnished me, giving me a reputation I have never been able to shake, and no one, at least within this town would ever take me seriously. When I walked out Mom looked at me and frowned.
“Something did happen didn’t it?” she called. “Between you and Dominic.”
I could feel her eyes drill into me, so I avoided meeting her gaze. I couldn’t lie to my mother any more, but I didn’t want to tell her either, I swallowed hard and looked into the kitchen. “I’m hungry do you want some lunch, I could fix us something...”
“Felicity... stop trying to change the subject. Talk to me, let me help you.”
“You’ve helped me my entire life Mom.” I said “It’s my turn to help you.”
“Honey, you’re my daughter, I’m always going to help you.” She soothed, “now sit.”
“It’s nothing, it was a selfish moment, and I should have restrained myself.” It had been the most amazing selfish moment, but that didn’t make it right.
“How was it selfish?”
“Because I didn’t think about the consequences it could have for your job, for Molly... I just thought about...”
“Him?” She asked
“Yes.” I said looking up at my Mother.
“And yourself?" She added.
I nodded guiltily, I had thought with my feelings, and disregarded anyone else’s. It was wrong, maybe I was just like my father after all.
Mom smiled and pointed to the couch. “I said sit.”
This time I listened, mom grabbed my hand and kissed it. “Sweet Felicity. You’ve always worried about everyone else first. It’s not wrong to think about yourself now and again.”
“I don’t want to be like him... like Dad.”
“You’re nothing like him. You’re loving, caring, honest.”
“It doesn’t matter, I wasn’t anything to Dominic Mom.” I whispered. “He opened up to me, told me about a few things. I was a sounding board, I was a distraction from his memories.”
Mom frowned and shook her head. “Well I don’t believe that for a second.”
“It’s the truth, but it’s over. Whatever it was.”
“Do you love him?” She asked, seeing through my façade. I looked down, away from her piercing blue eyes and shrugged.
“Who knows what love is.” I replied.
“You do. You used to love so openly, it’s why your fathers continued neglect of you always hurt so much. It’s why you brought Molly here when she was upset, it’s why you can’t leave that job as much as you know you should.”
Tears prickled my eyes, even incapacitated, my mother could see right through me like I was made of glass. She knew me, better than anyone and it showed. “So what do I do?” I croaked.
“Do you think he feels the same?”
“I think he’s scared to feel anything for anyone. So no.”
“Being scared of feeling, and actually feeling are two different things.”
“No Mom. He said he’s never been in love, and that was as I lay in his arms, in his bed.” I stood up. “Dominic and I, we were a stupid mistake. But don’t worry, I plan on staying completely professional from now on.”
After that Mom let that Dominic discussion go, although I wasn’t sure she wanted to, but I closed off and refused to talk about it again.
The rest of the week passed by quickly, it wasn’t long before the nurse arrived to take care of Mom.“I could stay longer.” I offered. “Dominic said it was okay.”
Mom shook her head. “No, it’s fine besides, I’m negotiating these crutches much easier now.“I picked up my bag and walked to the door.
“I made a bunch of freezer dinners, you know for when the nurse has gone home.”
“I know honey, Thank you.”
“And if you need me I’m only a call away.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow with Molly.“Mom smiled and nodded. “I love you Felicity.”
“I love you too Mom.“I left the house reluctantly and drove back to the Coran Mansion. Dominic and I hadn’t talked since the phone call and I’d avoided all trace of media, so I had no idea if it had blown up at all. Once I was back inside the secure gates, I felt strange, warm... safe. I shook the feeling off and walked up the path to the front door. Before I could even put my key in the lock the door flew open and Molly leapt in to my arms. “Flick!”
“I missed you so so so much. I begged Daddy to let me come and stay the night with you, but he said that you were looking after your mom.” Her arms were tight around my neck, I returned the hug and looked up. Dominic stood in the doorway, he was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He smiled at me and forgetting everything that had happened I smiled back.
“She could have stayed.” I said as I walked inside still holding her.
“I wasn’t sure, I didn’t want to bother you.” He said as he closed the door.
“How is your Mom?”
“Hey Mol, why don’t you go get that picture you drew. Felicity and I need to talk.“I ignored the fact he had called me Felicity. My heart reacted, but I did my best to hide it. Molly slipped down and ran upstairs, Dominic put his hand on my elbow and led me to his office.
“I dealt with the media. You won’t be hassled again.”
“Let’s just say I have my ways. I’m sorry I dragged you in to my mess.”
“Your mess? I had a con artist for a father... I’d say just being around me caused the mess for you.”
Dominic tightened his grip on my elbow. “You’re not your father.”
“I may as well be. I graduated top of my class and the only job I could get was at a failing company. You were right when you asked if I peaked too early.” I almost laughed. “Because I did.”
“I was being a jerk.”
“But it was the truth. God as much as I told myself I was taking this job for my mother, I also took it because no one else would hire me”
Dominic sighed and walked around to his desk. “I would have employed you at CoranCorp with your grades and transcripts. I know better than anyone people aren’t what they come from.”
“What do you mean?”
He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. Look, if you want a job at CoranCorp, it’s yours. You can be my personal assistant.”
“You already have one.”
“I have a very large company... I could do with another PA.” He smiled.
I shook my head, working for Dominic longer than I was contracted for, was an incredibly bad idea given my feelings. Feelings that hadn’t dwindled since I had been away.“No. It wouldn’t be wise.”
“Why?” He asked as his hand let go of my elbow, his fingers trailed down my arms to my hand. I pulled my hand from his and took a step back.
“You know why.”
At that moment Molly walked in, she held a piece of paper and smiled up at me.
“I drew a picture of us at the beach.” She held it out and I took it.I tried to hide my emotion, but it was hard. The picture was of the three of us, she was in between us, and we were holding her hands, like we were a family. I looked up at Dominic, he had an unreadable expression on his face, and it was almost like he was trying to read me. I knelt down and smiled.
“This is really amazing.”
“It’s for you. So no matter where you are, you’re with us.“I closed my eyes and pulled Molly in for a kiss. Tears lined my eyes, and I knew I needed to get out of here so I could gather my emotions.
“Thank you honey.” I stood up and looked at Dom, praying my eyes had dried.
“I should um, go unpack.”
“Yeah. Uh, cool.” Dominic replied, his eyes locked with mine.
“See you at lunch?”
I nodded and walked from the office holding the picture, and almost ran to my room. I placed the picture down beside me and buried my head in my hands. I was so far in over my head I was surprised I was still breathing.My phone rung, interrupting my thoughts, aimlessly I picked it up and swiped to answer.
“Felicity Taylor speaking.”
“Ms Taylor, Its Bob Hawks from Flight here, I’ve just received your details from a Mr Jones from Glow? He suggested you for our board.”
“Huh?” I replied, sounding the least business like I ever had.
“Mr Jones spoke very highly of you, and I have to say from everything I’ve seen and heard, you’re an amazing business woman.“My heart was thudding, Flight is CoranCorp’s biggest competition. Flight does everything CoranCorp does. Flight was the enemy, and Flight wanted me.
“I’ve got no experience.” I replied. “Glow was my first job.”
“Rumour has it, as the Nanny for Dominic Coran you stood in as a PA, and won him a large contract. One our company also fought for, but ultimately lost. You have an innovative mind, and we could use you.”
Use me. Memories of me telling Dominic to use me rushed through my head. I pushed the inappropriate thought away. “I’m still Mr Coran’s daughters Nanny, and I’m locked in a contract with him for another 9 weeks.”
“There’s no rush, All I ask is you come in for an interview, and we’ll go from there.”
“Okay.” I said, even though working for CoranCorp, nor flight, could ever be the kind of work I wanted to be in.
But they wanted me, and that knowledge was pure power.
Except now I was more confused than ever.