Caring Christopher

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#6 Sorry Mom, I just can’t today

Abigail

Christopher is just like the rest of them. I don’t know why I thought he was different. If he thinks for even a second that I didn’t catch onto the way he was looking at me last night, he’s stupid. He was checking me out, and then he told me I was beautiful. Not cool, Chris.

Okay, sure, it’s better to be told I’m beautiful that to have a guy tell me I’m hot or sexy or that I have a nice ass. Beautiful has a much nicer ring to it. And in his defense, I did just call myself fat, so maybe he was just being nice.

Still, I felt icky when he said that. It brought back so many feelings and memories of guys sneaking into my room and me waking up with someone jerking off while looking down on my sleeping body, or someone already in bed with me, a hand on my breast. Brittany assured me that Christopher Davids isn’t like that, but what the hell does she know?

I help Davy tie his laces, trying to teach him how to do it himself without making him feel stupid for not knowing how to do it already. Yoah watches us, putting on his shoes and coat without needing any help. Christopher walks into the hallway, grabbing his coat from the coat rack and unlocking the front door.

“Ready for school?” he asks the boys, holding out their bags, with healthy lunches inside of them. I saw him put in a note in each of their lunch boxes, and I peaked at them when he was brushing his teeth earlier. Davy can’t read yet, so Chris drew a giraffe on his piece of paper and put his name under it. It was the worst drawing ever, but it melted my heart a little. Yoah can read easy words, and Chris wrote to him that he hopes he’ll have nice day.

I truly don’t know what to make of Christopher. One minute, I’m convinced he’s just as sleazy as the rest of them, and then he does something that makes me feel Brittany was right to call him one of the last decent men alive. It’s clear he loves Yoah and Davy. And I have to admit he’s doing a good job with them. Yoah has obviously been through a lot, probably shielding Davy from the worst of it, yet he relaxes around Christopher, and that’s something Chris should be proud of.

Also… Christopher looked really good in nothing but sweatpants last night. As in… really good. He’s not a bodybuilder or anything by a long shot, but he’s got strong arms and his stomach is flat with that gorgeous V that leads down to his…

Nope. Not going there.

“We walk to school most days,” Chris tells me while we make our way down the street. “It’s only fifteen minutes to the school and the boys like spending some time with Titus in the mornings.”

Titus, the blonde Labrador, is being held by Yoah. The dog could easily take off without Yoah being able to do anything about it, but the dog is well behaved. Sure, he jumped me when I first came here, but it’s obvious the dog is just as happy to have two kids around as Chris himself is. Titus wags his tails the whole way to school. Christopher spends the entire fifteen minutes making sure the kids are okay while talking me through their morning routine. It’s hard to believe he’s only been their foster dad for little over three weeks. He sounds like he’s known them forever, and he talks about their mother too, sounding sad when he tells me she is dying. My heart breaks for Yoah and Davy, but I’m glad they have a guy like Chris in their corner.

At the school, Christopher introduces me to the teachers. Davy’s teacher is a woman in her fifties, and she’s lovely, shaking my hand and telling me how lucky I am to get hired by a guy like Christopher. Hmm. Maybe he’s not sleazy after all. Yoah’s teacher is a tough-love guy who doesn’t feel right to me. He’s not a bad person or anything, but he’s just… not sweet. He’s a non-nonsense teacher and that’s great, but I would have preferred a sweetheart for Yoah. He’s such a vulnerable kid with his walls up, and I doubt this guy will break through them. He will teach him how to read and do math, but he won’t get through to him the way Christopher is trying to every single minute he interacts with the boy.

When we leave the school, we get held up about ten times on the playground by mothers who want to talk to Chris. I hope to God they are divorced or widowed or something, because they’re flirting with him hard. He’s the perfect gentleman, but I doubt he knows they are hot for him. No wonder this guy is single. Is he blind?

“So… which hot mommy are you going to ask on a date?” I ask him teasingly while we walk back to his place.

He looks at me with a frown. “What do you mean?”

Yeah, I was right. He has no idea. “Those mothers on the playground… are they single?”

“Erm… yeah, I think most of them are divorced.” He inhales sharply. “Are you saying…?”

I can’t help but laugh at his shocked expression. “You’re a hot single doctor with two foster kids,” I say with a smile. “You’re like catnip to those women. They’d be stupid not to try and snag you up for themselves.”

His cheeks flush, and I grin. It’s so refreshing to meet a man who blushes. Usually it’s me looking the way he is right now. He may be in his forties, but he’s like a teenager when it comes to talking to women. It’s endearing, really.

“Titus!” he calls, jerking at the leash so his dog will stop walking. “I’m not looking for a relationship right now,” Chris says, not looking at me as he crosses the street. “Davy and Yoah deserve my full attention. Those boys have been through enough without me bringing people in their life who aren’t going to stick around.”

“True,” I reply simply. He’s right that they don’t need anyone else swooping in only to leave. I hope I’m here to stay for a while, because I like those kids. And… maybe… maybe Chris is okay. I don’t know yet. It’s only been two days. The jury is still out on him.

***

Having the day off with Christopher is weird. We started out trying to do our own thing, but it became obvious that we both had no idea what to do with ourselves. I’m used to looking after kids or doing chores, and Chris worked full-time at the hospital before this month off for his foster kids, so I think he’s not used to having downtime at all.

We end up playing board games all afternoon, with me beating his ass at every turn. He makes us lunch, and I moan when I taste his grilled cheese. That man can melt cheese like nobody’s business. I love me some cheese. And sugar. I love sugar. I wasn’t born with these hips and this big ass, after all. That’s all cheese, sugar, peanut butter… Hmm. I love me some good food.

“No sugar on you grilled cheese?” Chris teases, dipping his in ketchup.

“Don’t tempt me,” I say with a smile, sipping my soda. “You have no idea what my stomach can withstand, Christopher. I may not have abs of steal, but my stomach is made of titanium.”

He laughs loudly, the sound seeming to startle him, because he stops hallway through and flushes bright red. We eat in silence for a while, and then I ask him to show me around the house, tell me what chores I can do when he goes to work in a few days, show me how the dishwasher and the washing machine work, that kind of thing. He’s patient and writes things down for me on post-its. Chris is considerate, I realize, and he wants to make me feel comfortable. He apologizes when he brushes past me, jerking back his hand when we reach for something at the same time.

Is he for real? Or is he faking being nice just like so many guys before him?

***

It’s been four days since I moved in with Chris and the kids, and tomorrow will be my first day alone with Davy and Yoah. Christopher has to be at work by 7 am, so that leaves me to get them ready for school, prepare them lunches walk them there, the whole thing. I know I can do it – it’s not like I’ve never done basic stuff like that before, but I feel more pressure with this job than any of the others. These kids aren’t some rich snobby trust-fund kids that need me to teach them that not every family has a huge mansion and five fancy cars out front. These kids have no one aside from Christopher and their dying mother. And now they have me. If I fuck up, it’ll be bad. I can’t afford to do stupid shit like I normally do, like put the washing machine on the wrong cycle and ruin their clothes, or show up at their school with a shirt that turns out to be see-through without me realizing it when I walked all the way there.

“Want me to cook?” I ask Christopher while he puts the final touches on the huge family schedule he just taped to the fridge. It’s got everything on it I could possibly need to know for the upcoming week.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you, I’m taking the kids out tonight. Aston and Annabel invited us over for dinner.” He smiles when he says their names. “You know Aston, right? He specifically told me to invite you too. He said something about seeing his favorite wet T-shirt contest winner again?”

Oh. God. I don’t see Aston all that often, but he never fails to mention that. Stupid asshole.

“Don’t judge me,” I tell Chris, feeling my cheeks flushing bright red. “It was back in college, before I dropped out, and I needed money for food that week, and-”

“Why would I judge you?” he asks softly, putting a hand on my arm and squeezing gently.

My whole body wants to melt into his gentle touch, but instead I jerk away from him like he burned me. This is always how it starts. At first my boss seems perfectly normal, he acts like a great father and a true gentleman, then he slowly start doing small things like touching my arm or tucking a strand of hair behind my ear, and before you know it he’s in my bedroom trying to get me to sleep with him without telling his wife. Chris may not have a wife, but I’m still not going there. I’m the nanny, not his personal plaything.

“Thanks, but I don’t think I’ll come,” I say sharply. “I’ve got the night off, right?”

Christopher looks like he wants to apologize, but he doesn’t. “Yeah, of course. I should have realized you want the night to yourself. Tomorrow will be hectic. Enjoy your spare time. We’ll probably hang around at Annabel’s for a bit after dinner, but I’ll make sure they get to bed on time so the kids won’t be tired tomorrow.”

I nod. “Good.” I don’t feel like talking to him anymore, so I go upstairs to play with Davy for another half hour before they are leaving for dinner. Yoah is sitting cross-legged in the corner, always watching Davy to make sure he’s okay. I wonder if he ever plays himself, or that he spends all this time making sure his brother is alright. I make a mental note to talk to Chris about enrolling Yoah in soccer or hockey or something, so he can have an outlet. It’s not healthy for him to sit around and do nothing but worry about Davy’s wellbeing all day.

When Chris leaves with the kids, I text Brittany to ask if she’s up to hang tonight. She says she’d love to, but not until after dinner, because she is going over to Aston’s and Annabel’s to eat. Fuck me, she’s having dinner with Chris and the kids and I’m hanging around here sulking because he touched my arm and said he won’t judge me.

Am I the one being an idiot, or is he a wolf in sheep’s clothing? I just don’t know anymore. All I know is that every single time I let my guard down, something bad happens. I’m not making that mistake ever again.

Instead of worrying about it, I grab my purse and head out to my mother’s group home. It’s been a while since I last spent some quality time with Mom. She deserves better than a lazy-ass daughter like me, who barely even manages to earn enough money for her medical treatments. At least I still manage to keep her in the nice group home she’s in. I’m lucky it’s run by a charity and Mom is the exact type of person that place was created for, because I’d never be able to afford a more expensive place for her.

“Hey Abby,” nurse Grayson says when I walk into the small reception area that’s basically just the hallway of the large house that has been converted into a home for my mother and nine other women like her. “Looking good!”

I laugh and poke at my love handles. “Gained five more pounds since I last saw you, so you’re full of shit, Grayson.”

“Nah-ah, if I was into women, I’d totally do you.” He winks and motions me into the living room, where five women are sitting around watching TV and knitting. My mother is in a recliner in the corner, her favorite spot. I walk over and sit down in the chair across from her, smiling when I see she’s knitting her millionth scarf. “Hi, Mom.”

She looks up with those dark green eyes that I inherited from her. “Who are you?”

Even though I should be used to this question by now, it still hurts. The last time she recognized me was years ago. She may only be 48, but she looks and acts like a woman well into her seventies. And not a very happy or healthy one at that.

“What are you knitting?” I ask, even though I know it’s a scarf.

She shrugs and looks away from me, frowning when she can’t find the right word for the piece of clothing she’s making. Poor Mom. That was how it started when I was just 15 years old. She’d be unable to come up with words for basic things, walk into a room and forget what she was doing there, losing her reading glasses all the time, forgetting to pick me up from hockey practice… Looking back, I should have gotten her help right away instead of getting mad at her for being a sucky mother. She didn’t deserve that. She did the best she could.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s is a bitch, but my mother isn’t. Even now, when she has no idea I’m her daughter and never will regain that knowledge, I know she loves me. She did her best raising me on her own, without my father in the picture, and without her parents around to help. Things could have been worse.

“Love you,” I tell her, giving her a kiss before I leave. I know I don’t spend enough time here, but I just can’t stick around any longer. It hurts too much to be around her with all these memories of the kind of mother she used to be before this horrible disease took her away from me. I can’t. Not today.

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