"There's a man in the break room who wants to see you." Kathy's boss told her, looking a bit surprised at her and Bill standing around waiting for the clock before starting work.
Bill Fletcher didn't look happy about it either as he stood beside her.
"A man, to see me?" She turned to look at Bill, her fiancé in surprise.
"That's what he said, he wanted to speak with Kathy Malone."
"Who is it?" She asked, moving away from the clock, and toward the door, as Bill studied her closely.
Mr. Lawrence, her boss, shook his head, "I have no idea. So, make it quick."
"I'll clock in later, then." Kathy told her boss.
She took off her smock and walked to the breakroom with a bit of trepidation. Had she done something wrong? Bill was seldom out of sorts with her. And why was her mind worrying with such non-sense. Of course, she hadn't.
But nothing prepared her for the man sitting at the lunch table, his long legs stretched out before him, his long, dark hair glistening in the overhead lights of the room. She remembered in a flash what it was like to run her fingers through that beautiful mane of hair. She cleared her throat, it was suddenly so dry.
Kathy moved slowly toward him. It couldn't be.
But it was, Carson Wells. She hadn't seen him in ten years. Ten long years. And here he sat, waiting patiently to see her. The only thing that came to mind was—why? He hadn't changed a bit, except there was a maturity about him that she found odd.
"Carson?" She called from the other side of the table as she sat down and stared at the magnificent physic of the man. His long curly hair was pushed back from his face, and those ultra-long dark lashes of his captured her attention. He looked good, so good.
"Hello, Kathy. Wow, the years have been good to you. Your hair, it's the same as I remembered it."
Not distracted by his compliment, she blurted. "W-what are you doing here?" She asked puzzled and pleased all in one breath.
"You work here?" He asked, knowing the answer before she spoke.
"Of course, I do. But…" She stared now.
"I guess it is quite a shock, after all this time. Since you're at work, I don't want to keep you long, but I'd like to talk to you, when you have some time."
He handed her a card with his phone number on it.
"It's been so long…" she rushed to say. "I can't imagine having anything left to say after all this time."
His smile snared her quickly. Carson was a charming man, but his smile was absolute sunshine. The effect he was having on her was the same as seven years ago. He was such a dynamic man. There was no getting around it. He was the hottest thing in blue jeans. Still, there was an air of maturity about him now. Something had changed. She didn't know what.
She tried to clear her mind, to back away, she couldn't.
"What's this about?" she asked curiously.
His eyes glittered at her. "I got a proposition for you." He blurted, not looking directly at her now with those indigo eyes of his.
"A—proposition?" her expressive blue eyes stared at him, wondering if he was just a figment of her imagination. But she quickly squashed that, the last person in the world she expected to see this morning, at eight-thirty, to be precise, was Carson Wells.
The machines in the other rooms began shutting down, temporarily, meaning the morning crew was relieving the overnight crew on the line, Kathy let her mind wander. She had to. What did you say to a man she hadn't seen in seven years. Especially a man she had loved dearly.
"Kathy, I'm at my wits end. I've tried babysitters, I've tried friends, I've tried everyone I know. But I'm in a bind and I want to offer you a job. And I know how cold and callus this might sound after all this time, but I really need you."
Kathy sat stunned. Babysitter? Needed her? Carson? Had Carson finally married? A million questions danced in her head, but he was making no sense to her at all.
"Carson, you haven't seen me in seven years. You haven't called, kept in touch in any way, and you walk into my place of employment, offering me of all things, a job?" She shook her head in pure amazement. "I'm a little dumbstruck."
"I know, I know. It's crazy, but I’m really desperate and you are the only person I could think of that might be able to help me."
"Help you?" She frowned now, her brows nearly meeting at her nose.
"My wife left me…" he said flatly.
Kathy squirmed a bit in her seat. Wife? Well, there it was, woman troubles. It seemed Carson always had woman troubles. Nothing had changed apparently. Women were drawn to Carson, he couldn't help it. And a lot of the time it got him in more hot water than he knew how to get out of. But she never thought he'd marry.
"I'm sorry." She shrugged, "But what has that to do with me?" She tried not to sound bitter or ugly, but she had to admit, this whole scene puzzled her.
"She left our son with me. Our baby." He told her quite sadly. "He's four months old, and I don't know the first thing about taking care of him. I need help, and I need it now!"
Kathy began to paint a picture in her mind. Carson had married, had a son, and now…. he came to her? For what? A babysitting job? That made little to no sense to her.
He looked squarely at her now, those beautiful indigo eyes, with the long dark lashes shadowing his cheek, now surveyed her. "I love my son, Kathy. I want the best for him. And to me…. That's you!"
His compliment flustered her. She hadn't expected that.
"I'm not a babysitter Carson!" Kathy felt a sense of pride welling in her. He complimented her, and yet he insulted her. He wanted her to take care of his son. It made no sense. None!
He sat up straight and stared at her. "You're still as beautiful as ever, you know." He smiled. The smile sent electrical pulses through her body. She didn't want it to, but it did. She wished she could stop that sensation, but it was impossible. Carson was truly an alpha male, no getting around it. When he turned the charm on he was lethal to a woman's heart and she feared he had always known it.
"Carson, what are you doing here?"
He spread his hands on the table and stared deep into her eyes. "Hear me out, will ya? You are the only person I could possibly trust to help me. That's why I'm here." He stood up and paced the small break room, his mind seeming to ramble as he paced. "I need help. I'm asking for your help because you are the only person, in all these years I have ever trusted for anything. The only person I could ask anything of, and know you'd be honest and forthright about it. You've got good character, good morals and there is absolutely no one, on this green earth I would trust more."
With the kind of life Carson led she could easily understand that. Kathy hadn't been in the same category as most of Carson's women. She'd known that from the beginning.
Carson Wells was a well-known song writer and rancher. He was a true cowboy in every sense of the word, deep down, she'd reached that sensitive cord of his. Oddly, Carson was a very good person. Despite the fact, that he loved women, he had a sense of decency she had seldom seen in men.
But she'd left him years ago, vowing to never fall prey to his charms again. And yet, here he was, offering her a job of babysitting his baby. Why her? He knew all kinds of women, surely there was someone else?
"I have a job, Carson." She said a bit too flatly.
"Yes, I see that. But it's not the kind of job I can offer you."
"You mean…," she snickered, "Babysitting, is better than working in a factory?"
He hesitated, examining how he might sound. "Babysitting for me would be. I can pay you well, a lot more than what you are making here. All you would have to do is take care of my baby."
"Babysitters are easy to come by Carson, I don't understand why you chose me?"
"I want more than a babysitter for him, I want someone who cares. That's you! Because you know me. You know my life is hectic. Your great with kids." He turned to look at her and smiled again. That same tingle went through her from long ago. Carson was a force she never quite understood, and never got over. "When I first met you, you had three siblings you were caring for. They've grown up, and all are doing well now. I know, I've checked, and if we are honest you are the reason they are all doing so well. You've always had a special talent with children, so patient and loving. My Marty needs that. His mother was a cold fish, who was still angry about losing her perfect figure, when she had him. She wouldn't do for him at all. She finally left. We're in the process of a divorce. Marty is an innocent in this. He needs love, and care and I just know you have what he needs. Because of my own responsibilities I can't be with him all the time. I've got a sizable ranch, and other duties. So, I need a live-in nanny for him. I need someone I can count on to be there, and that someone is you. Only you."
"Again, why me?"
"I trust you Kathy, it's as simple as that. And you know I don't trust easily."
"Yes, I remember that. But Carson, I have a life here. Granted, I'm not rich, famous, or half as successful as you, but I do have a life. I'm engaged to be married."
"Engaged?" He stopped again and this time his glance slid over her thoroughly making her cheeks pink.
"It's been seven years Carson. Did you think I'd live the life of a nun?" She couldn't keep her voice calm now.
"No, no, of course not. Well, I suppose that won't be a problem."
"You'd expect me to live in the same house with you?" She frowned again at him.
"He's only four months old," Carson whirled around to stare at her. "I'm new at being a father, but I love him endlessly and I want the best. And…. In my opinion, you are the best."
"I've never been a nanny."
He stared and sat down again, "As much experience as you've had. You'd be good at it."
"How do you know?" She protested.
"You are the most loving, and kind person I know. I trust you. I hope you'll consider it. I can pay you the going rate. You'll have a ranch house to live in with all the amenities. You'll have a car at your disposal always. I will pay your health insurance, and life insurance There would be bonuses too, in case I needed him with me at times, I'd pay you to come along."
"Are you at the ranch all the time?"
"No, not all the time, but most of the time."
She sat stunned. Any other woman would jump at the chance to work for Carson. But there was one problem, she'd been madly in love with Carson seven years ago, when she left him, and it had taken years to get over him, if she ever really did.
She studied him, he was still as lethal as ever with his smiles, and his good looks weren't marred by time, that was for sure. He had the body of a Greek god. He was tall, lean and built. He had six pack abs, and a hairless chest she loved to run her fingers over. But it was his eyes that melted her. Those ultra-long lashes of his over dark indigo eyes.
"Would I have to live there?" She asked.
"I'm afraid you would. If I only needed a part time sitter for him, it'd be different, but he's still very small and needs constant attention. You might have to get up in the middle of the night with him. That's why I want you there. She never nursed him and he's not adapting well to formula. Right now, he cries a lot. I can diaper him, sing to him, play with him, but I can't give him the constant love, affection and nourishment he needs."
"Could my fiancé visit me there?"
"Of course, as long as it didn't interfere with Marty's care." Carson nodded.
"I'll think about it, Carson. Can I let you know in a day or two?"
"Oh, where do you live now?" She asked.
"West Texas, near Sweetwater." He explained.
"That's some ways from Dallas."
"Yes, I guess so. Why?"
"Well, I'd be moving away entirely."
"As I remember your parents died some time ago, and your boyfriend can surely make a few trips, can't he?"
"I suppose…. But I'll let you know." When he studied her, she glanced at him and nearly drown in those indigo eyes of his. "How did you find me?"
"The internet. You have a recipe site."
"Oh, yeah…" she nodded.
"You know Carson, there are professional people who do this all the time. Why not them?"
"Goes back to trust, I guess. I know I’m asking a lot, but I have a lot at stake. Marty means everything to me, but I won't lie, I know very little about being a father. I don't trust anyone but you to do the job. Maybe you could even give me a few pointers. In front of a professional, I'm sure I'd feel as though I was under a microscope. Lana is not suing for custody, but I don't want her around the baby any longer. You see, he had a fit after one of her feedings and she nearly slammed him to the floor. If I hadn't been there, she might have done him a lot of harm. I'm not going to lie to you, at that moment, I wanted to kill her. I have a restraining order against her, but you know how far that goes, I'm sure. Besides, as his mother, she has certain rights."
"She tried to hurt him?" Kathy shrieked.
"Yes, if I hadn't been there, she would have." He frowned.
She looked straight at him now, "The main thing is showing him your love right now."
"That I can do. I feel like you are the only person that I might listen to and do as you say about him. You were never critical, never harsh, always sweet. Your temperament also has a lot to do with why I chose you."
She couldn't help but stare at him now. His eyes lit up when he talked about his baby. It warmed her that he had found something solid to love in life. And a strange gladness filled her.
"He's a good baby, Kathy. But he hasn't had enough love. I know you are a caring individual. I do trust you, even though you left me."
"Left me." Those words hung in the air between them. She couldn't go into that, not here, not now.
She smiled. "Leave me your number and I'll call you in a couple of days with my answer."
He nodded. "Thanks Kathy. I know I’m asking a lot of you, but there's no one else I'd trust with him."
Her head crooked to stare, and their eyes met for the first time in their conversation. He still could weave a magic over her. She'd have to be very careful, if she went to work for him, and she knew it. She could easily lose her heart again…and with his baby too!