#1 Gaining their trust
INFO [chapter 1 starts right after the info]
The Sweet Caroline series consists of many books. All books can be read as stand-alones, but they work best as a series. At the start of each book, I always tell my readers which book would be wise to read first to understand the past of the characters.
The series can be split into two separate series: the first generation & the next generation. The next generation is about character that were kids in the books about the first generation.
FIRST GENERATION: 1. Sweet Caroline // 2. Slutty Shaughna // 3. Eager Annabel // 4. Feisty Francesca // 5. Twisted Thomas // 6. Chef Quiroz // 7. Caring Christopher
NEXT GENERATION: 1. Blooming Rose // 2. Jealous Jagger // 3. Needy Nia // 4. Guarded Marcus // 5. Charming Creed // 6. Thompson Twins
You can read this as a stand-alone story, but if you’re going to read my other stories as well, you might want to start with “Sweet Caroline”.
The book won the Nanowrimo Writing Contest here on Inkitt in January 2021.
Three unruly foster kids, a doctor giving up on love and a live-in nanny desperate for a job. A recipe for disaster… or love, maybe?
Watch doctor Christopher and nanny Abigail navigate the treacherous waters of parenthood, and figure out if love is still in the cards for them.
In his mid-forties, Christopher decides to stop waiting for Mrs. Right. He applies to become a foster dad and hires a nanny to help out with the kids when he’s at the hospital where he works as a pediatrician. Maybe he will never find a woman who wants to be with him, but he’s not going to wait around anymore. Chris is finally creating his own happiness. If he finds love, great, but he’s not holding his breath. His kids are his biggest priority right now.
Abigail McCaulin is 27 and just got fired from yet another job as a nanny for a wealthy family, and she’s done with dads hitting on her and acting like she’s a hooker. She needs the money though, so she’s desperate for another job. Her best friend Brittany introduces her to Christopher Davids, a hot surgeon in his forties who might just be the last decent man alive. Abby agrees to move in to help with the foster kids he’s taking care of, but she might not be cut out for this line of work. Chris isn’t like the sleazy guys she used to work for, and Abby isn’t sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.
The POV will switch between Abby & Christopher pretty much every chapter, so it’s a bit different from my other stories. Hope you’ll dig it…
Enjoy the story!
#1 Gaining their trust
Quiet footsteps sound in the hallway, followed by my bedroom door creaking open just wide enough to let through a small 5-year-old boy, who looks at me with wide green eyes.
“Hey Davy,” I whisper, motioning him over to me. “Are you having trouble sleeping again?”
“I miss mommy,” he says softly, padding over to the bed.
My heart breaks for him, and I sit up so I can pull him too me, lifting his frail body onto the bed. He was underfed when they found him and his brother all alone in their grandparents’ house, not an adult in sight to take care of them. He’s been gaining some weight this past month with me, but Davy still looks like a gust of wind could easily knock him down.
“Do you want to sleep in my bed?” I ask, already pulling back the covers. “I only snore a little.”
Davy laughs. “You snore so loud, Chris!”
I tickle him as he crawls into bed, making him giggle even louder. He’s been sneaking into my room since his second week here, and I don’t have the heart to send him back to his own room. Not yet. I know I have to teach Davy to sleep alone, but I’m just so happy he feels comfortable around me and I think it’s more important to bond with him than to make a big ado about him sleeping in his own bed. We’ll get there.
“Chris?” Davy asks, snuggling up to me and pressing his freezing cold hands against my chest to warm them. “Are we ever going back to Mom? Or do we have to live here forever?”
“For now, you’ll stay with me,” I say, knowing that I can’t give him a definite answer I wish I could, but that’s just not possible yet. His father is in jail and his mother is in the hospital, dying from the final stages of cancer, so it seems unlikely Davy and his brother Yoah will be moving back in with their parents anytime soon. Their grandparents were taking care of them, but after the neighbors alerted child protective services, it turned out they went on a two-week vacation, leaving 9-year-old Yoah and 5-year-old Davy all alone in that big empty house. I don’t get how they could do that to these kids, and I’m glad that they were assigned to me. They’re my first foster kids ever, and I fell in love with them the day I met them. They’ve been here for a month now, and Davy is a little emotional sometimes, but he’s comfortable with me. Yoah is more guarded, he barely talks, and he would never crawl into bed with me at night. I don’t think he trusts me, and I get that. He’s only known me for little over three weeks and he’s been through so much… Poor kid.
“Chris?” Davy asks again, putting his head on my chest, making me want to pull him even closer, but I don’t, letting him decide how much contact he wants. I don’t want to overstep any boundaries, but Davy is such a cute cuddly kid that hugging him is natural.
“Yeah?” I ask, ruffling his shaggy brown hair.
“When are you kicking us out?” he whispers softly.
“Never,” I promise him. I know I shouldn’t promise him things like that, since I don’t know how long he and Yoah will be with me, but I would never willingly let them be placed elsewhere. They’re slowly doing better and I love taking care of them. “As long as you want to stay here and the people from the office say it’s okay, you’ll be welcome here.” We’ve been calling the social workers the people from the office, since Yoah refers to them like that.
Davy sighs. “Okay. I’m tired.”
“Go to sleep,” I whisper. “Sweet dreams.”
Davy nods off, with me stroking his hair until he’s fast asleep against me. I’m so grateful to have him and Yoah with me. It’s a challenge, taking care of two kids on my own, but I love it. I should have applied to become a foster dad much sooner. I’ve always wanted kids, but I envisioned myself being married to a lovely woman, having biological kids of my own, or adopting with her.
That’s what I wanted to do with my ex-wife. She was infertile, which wasn’t a problem to me, but when she refused to even so much as discuss adoption or foster care, our relationship imploded. There was no way I could be with someone who didn’t want kids, no matter how hard I tried. I wish she had been enough for me, but she wasn’t. I don’t need biological kids, but I do need kids in my life. I’ve been wanting to become some kind of father since I met my ex-wife back in college, and that never changed for me.
Becoming a single foster dad isn’t something I ever even considered. I guess I just stupidly figured that you can only apply when you’re a couple. When my friend Francesca told me that she met a single foster dad, and she gave me his contact information and sent me a whole bunch of websites to look at, it only took me a day to decide to do it. I spent months getting all the paperwork in order, doing interviews with my social workers, the whole ordeal. Then I got Davy and Yoah assigned to me, and here we are, in bed with a 5-year-old snuggled against me.
I finally feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to do with my life. Taking care of children. As a pediatrician, I’m always taking care of kids, in a sense, but it’s different talking to their parents and cutting them open in the OR. I only get to be a part of their life during the worst part of it, when they’re sick, and then they’re gone, either because they get better or because they never will. Doing everyday things with my two foster kids is different, in a very good way.
The past month was tough, but I know this was only the beginning. I took a month off from work so they could get settled in – the chief of the hospital wasn’t thrilled, but he agreed to give me four weeks off, knowing I work my ass off every single day and have been putting in more hours than anyone since the day I moved to this city two years ago and took over from Dr. Massenheimer, the man that ran the peds wing before me.
In a week, I will be back at work, and that’s when the real challenge begins. Taking care of two kids on my own while working 50-hours a week at least, and I’m on call some nights as well. It’ll be rough, and I know I need someone to help me, or I won’t manage. My friends Annabel and Aston have been trying to help me find a live-in nanny, but none of the people I interviewed felt right. One woman was completely inexperienced, another made Davy cry, and the other ones just didn’t… click. I know I shouldn’t be so picky, since I need to hurry finding one, but I can’t just hire a random person. Francesca’s mother Amelia has offered to help out a few days a week, but I barely know her and while she’s a lovely woman, I’m not sure I would feel comfortable leaving Davy and Yoah with her. She’s a bit of a loose cannon, and while Francesca turned out just fine, I’m not sure if two emotionally scarred kids would be okay in her care. Plus, she isn’t going to move in here and take care of the kids fulltime, since she has her hands full helping out with her own grandkid.
I need a nanny, and I need to find one soon. Preferably before I get back to work, because I’d like to see her with the kids for a few days and help him or her get settled in so I’m not just leaving the kids high and dry with someone who doesn’t know what needs to be done.
Mulling all of this over doesn’t help me sleep, so I slip out of bed, careful not to wake up Davy. I go downstairs to make myself a cup of tea, seeing that the light in the kitchen is already on. With a frown, I push open the door and see Yoah sitting on the floor in front of the open fridge, scarfing down cold pizza that was left over from dinner.
He looks up at me with wide eyes, looking terrified. I can’t help but wonder what he expects me to do. From the look in his eyes, it almost seems like he thinks I will hit him or something. The social worker warned me that their grandparents neglected them for months before the neighbors thankfully alerted the authorities, but when I see Yoah react to me sometimes, I wonder if it’s not worse than that. He cringes when I touch him sometimes, even when it’s just a pat on the shoulder. I think he’s been hurt by someone. His grandfather, his grandma, or maybe his father before he went to prison. I’m not sure, but I plan to make it so he’ll never have to go back to a situation like that.
“Is there any left for me?” I ask Yoah, sitting down on the floor as well, far enough away so I won’t spook him. “I’m hungry too.”
The 9-year-old stares at me for another tense moment, and then he decides it’s safe to hand me a slice of pizza. I take it and start eating, even though I’m not truly hungry. The silence isn’t uncomfortable anymore, thankfully.
“Yoah,” I say in my kindest voice. “It’s okay if you want to eat something. You don’t have to wait until I’m asleep. Where you already hungry when you went to bed?”
He nods, not saying anything. His eyes are just as green as his little brother’s, but his always seem to be glazed over, like he’s hiding behind a wall to protect himself.
“Next time, feel free to ask me to make you something,” I say softly. “Or get something from the fridge yourself. There is always food in the house, and I’ll make sure to always keep the fridge stocked, so we’re never going to run out of food, okay?” I’m not sure if that’s what he’s worried about, so I’m just covering all bases here. “I will never get mad at you for wanting to eat something. It would be great if you could close the fridge while you eat though. I’m not mad or anything, I’d never be angry over something so small, but it takes a lot of energy to keep the fridge cold when it’s open.”
“Oh,” he breathes, turning around to shut the door. “Sorry.”
“It’s fine,” I assure him. “Are you still hungry?”
Yoah shakes his head, licking the pizza dust and tomato sauce off his fingers.
“How about we have a glass of water together?” I offer, standing up and making sure to move slowly when I take out two glasses and fill them up. Yoah gets spooked easily, and when he does, he freezes and won’t talk for hours sometimes. I hold out the glass, but he doesn’t take it, so I set it on the counter instead, stepping away from it so he can get it without having to be close to me. It hurts that he doesn’t trust me, but I know it’s not personal. I will keep trying with him until I gain his trust. It’s only been three weeks. Things will get better.
“What’s your favorite thing to eat in the middle of the night?” I ask him, hoping he’s relaxed enough to talk to me. “I love meatballs myself. Piping hot with tomato sauce.”
“Yes,” Yoah whispers. “With pepper on them.”
“Ooh, yeah, pepper!” I agree with a smile. “Maybe we make those tomorrow for dinner. Have you ever made meatballs before?”
He nods. “With Mom. A long time ago.”
“Want to make them with me?” I ask. “Maybe you can teach me how your mother makes them, and how much pepper we should put on them.”
Yoah nods, a hint of excitement flitting across his angular face. He’s just as skinny as Davy, but a lot taller. He’s fast too, and I plan on signing him up for soccer or something when he’s a little more settled in here. I think he’d love playing sports.
“We can make extra,” I tell Yoah. “And we’ll put them in the fridge in a container so you can snack on them when you get hungry at night. I promise I won’t get mad at you for having a snack at night. Can you try to remember to close the door of the fridge?” I don’t care about the damn door, but I’ve noticed that Yoah lights up when I ask him to do something and he remembers. The praise I give him for listening and remembering makes him glow, even though he hardly ever responds.
He nods, an intense look in his eyes as he tries to commit the order to his memory, determined not to forget it.
“If you forget, I will remind you,” I tell him, not wanting him to feel like I will be disappointed if he leaves the door open again. “And you’ll remember next time.”
Again, Yoah nods. He opens his mouth, decided not to speak up after all and closes it again. I wonder what he was going to say.
“Davy is in bed with me,” I tell Yoah. I know he checks on his brother sometimes when he can’t sleep, and the first time he didn’t find Davy in his own room, he kept shouting his name over and over again until Davy and I woke up and rushed over to him, assuring him everyone was fine. “If you can’t sleep, you can always crawl in with us. You can get in on Davy’s side so he’s between us if you don’t want to lie next to me. Or you can just go to your own room.”
“I snore,” I go on, sipping my water. “Davy is always complaining about it.”
Yoah smiles a little. “He told me.”
“You’re complaining about me together?” I ask, teasing him a little. “So unfair! Davy snores too!”
A real laugh this time. “He does.”
“Do you snore?” I ask with a small smile.
Yoah shakes his head. “Never.”
“Good man.” I put my glass in the sink and yawn. “I’m going back to bed. Are you coming too?”
He hesitates, but then he nods and walks over to put his glass away, not keeping much distance between us this time. That’s a win, even if it’s a small one. We go upstairs together, and I watch him crawl back into bed. He’s got a night light since he’s scared of the dark, and the dim light enables me to see him looking up at me with those wide green eyes.
“Can I kiss you goodnight?” I ask softly. “Just a peck on the forehead.”
“Okay,” Yoah whispers.
I walk over as slowly as possible, kneeling down next to his bed. He watches me with something close to panic, but allows me to press my lips to his forehead. I move away just as carefully, and to my surprise, he’s smiling.
“Mom does that,” he whispers. “Kiss my forehead.”
“Do you miss her?”
“We’re going to visit her in the hospital tomorrow. We could bring her a gift if you want? What does she like?”
“She likes drawings,” Yoah says, still smiling. “Me and Davy always draw animals for her.”
“Then how about we pick up some new art supplies in the morning, make her something beautiful, and visit her after lunch?” The social worker is having lunch with us and accompanying us to the hospital. I haven’t met the mother yet, because she was in critical condition the past few weeks. She’s still dying, but she’s able to have visitors now. The pas weeks, the social worker has been picking Davy and Yoah up for visits, and now it’s time for me to go with them. Their mother will likely be dead within a few weeks, so I’m glad I get to meet her before it’s too late.
“Yes,” Yoah says softly. “I’d like that.”
“Good night,” I say, trying not to smile too widely. I don’t want to freak the poor kid out. He’s so sweet, and this is the first time he’s let me come this close.
“Night,” he replies with a yawn.
And with that, I close the door of his bedroom behind me and get back into my own, where Davy has taken over most of the space by sleeping like a starfish. I roll him over and close my eyes, feeling happier than ever before.
Hope you enjoyed the first chapter! Never wrote from a man’s POV before, so kinda nervous for this book... Even though I have plenty of inspiration.