In silence, she walked beside the chauffeur until they reached the car. She swung her gaze between the front and back doors. Which side would she climb in? After all, he was the driver, and usually those being chauffeured sat in the back. He must have read her thoughts because he walked to the passenger side and opened the front door.
“Now that you are the nanny,” he said, motioning toward the seat, “you are considered a servant and so must ride up front with me. The only time you will be in the back is when the children are with you. If their parents come along, then you’ll be sitting up front with me again.”
Nodding, she cleared her throat. “Thank you, Mr. Kelly.” She climbed in and waited for him to shut the door, but after a few uncomfortable moments with the car door open, she switched her attention back at him. He grasped the side of the door as his curious gaze swept over her.
“Did I forget something?” she asked softly, wondering what she’d done wrong.
“I thought I’d asked you to call me Tony.”
“Then why haven’t you done as I’d asked?”
She shrugged. “I don’t feel right being so personal with your name. Not yet.”
Chuckling, he shut the door then walked around to the driver’s side and slid in. Once he started the car and pulled it out of the drive, he threw a glance her way. “So your name is Monica Jewell, huh?”
As much as she wanted to look at his gorgeous profile, she kept her eyes on the road. She didn’t need to look at him to know he was watching her. By the way her body tingled and her heart slammed in her chest, she knew where his attention was aimed. “Yes, that’s my name.”
“It fits you.”
She couldn’t help herself; she had to turn and look at him this time. Immediately, she noticed his amazing gray eyes. Big mistake! Now her throat was dry. “Why do you say that?”
“Because your eyes sparkle like sapphires.”
Quickly, she looked away. Her cheeks burned from his compliment. Why in heaven’s name did she have to act this way? Then again, she wasn’t used to having men say such things to her. For years, she’d watched how men fawned over her cousin, showering the beauty with flowery words. In all those times, Monica wondered what it would feel like if a man said those words to her. Now she wished she hadn’t known. It embarrassed her beyond belief.
“Thank you,” she replied softly.
“Although,” he continued, taking his eyes away from her to watch the road again, “I cannot understand why you are dressed so plainly today when you were so spiffy the other night.”
“I think, Mr. Kelly, that it is none of your business.”
He chuckled lightly over her stubbornness. “I’m guessing you’re dressed like that to make Mr. Zambino think that you are an uptight, plain-Jane type of girl.”
She remained silent, wishing he wouldn’t wonder about that. He was already suspicious of her character. That wasn’t good at all.
“It’s too bad I know better.” He reached his hand over and rested it on her knee.
She jumped from the sudden movement, and especially from the shooting sparks of heat rushing through her body. She pushed his hand away roughly. “Mr. Kelly, you may think you know me, but I assure you, you do not, so please don’t take any liberties like that with me again.”
The grin remained on his face when he glanced her way, staring deeply into her eyes. “Umm…yes. Your eyes certainly do sparkle like gems.”
“Oh!” She huffed as she looked back out the window. Her heart pounded wildly, and she sorely wished his words wouldn’t affect her like they did. She especially didn’t like the way his heated touch could spark fire into her.
They were quiet for a few more minutes, but the haughty grin on his face gave away his thoughts. How she’d like to smack them right out of his head. But then she’d have to touch him.
“Are you going to tell me where you live, or do you want me just to drive you around town for a while?”
She snapped out the address to Anna’s apartment. It didn’t take him long to arrive at that location. As soon as the car stopped, she jumped out and practically hurried to the door, but he stayed right behind her all the way. She rushed inside and up the three flights of stairs, trying to get ahead. Her efforts were wasted because his long strides kept him right behind her.
Once she was at the door, she stopped and turned to look at him. “You don’t have to follow me or even help me, you know.”
He shook his head. “Actually, I do, Miss Jewell. My boss told me to help you pack, and I’m not one to shirk off my duties. Sorry.”
“Is there anything I can say or do that will make you stay in the car?” Standing directly in front of him with her arms folded across her chest, she stared into his eyes. He was quite a bit taller than her, and he smelled like minty aftershave…which she liked almost too much.
He took a step closer until he was a nose length away from her, still grinning, but provocatively this time. “Umm, I don’t know, let me think.” His eyes scanned her face, coming to rest on her lips. “I rather liked what we did the other night outside the restaurant.”
His masculine scent made her stomach flutter. He was also close enough for her to see his beautiful gray eyes with specks of gold. They were absolutely dreamy…but she could not feel this way!
Pushing her hands against his rock hard chest, she moved him away from her. “You are impossible. Do you know that?” She turned and opened the door, quickly walking in. Just as she suspected, he followed closely behind. His deep chuckle rang through the room.
She frantically searched the front room, looking for her cousin. “Anna? Are you here?”
Her cousin stepped out of the bathroom with a brush in her hand. From the looks of it, Anna had been getting ready for another one of her wild dates and was all dolled up. She was just finishing the style on her short bobby hair when her eyes locked on the chauffer. Anna’s hand froze in the middle of a stroke, her mouth gaped open in awe.
“Anna,” Monica rushed over to her cousin and stood right in front of her, trying to block her vision of Tony, but Anna kept moving her head, trying to see around. “Anna? You won’t believe this, but I got that nanny position. You know, the one with Michael Zambino?”
Anna’s gaze finally shifted back to Monica and widened. “Horsefeathers! You’re actually working for Michael Zambino?”
“Yes, and I’ve come to get my things. He wants me to live at the house so that I’ll be near the children at all times. That is why Mr. Zambino’s driver is here. He is going to help me pack and move.”
Anna’s face turned pale. “No, Monica.”
She put her hands on Anna’s shoulders and squeezed. “Anna, don’t be such a wet blanket. Everything will be fine. I’ll miss you, but this is a good opportunity for me. One I just cannot pass up.”
Slowly, Anna nodded. “I wish you lots of luck, then.”
Monica moved past Anna to collect her things. Luckily, she hadn’t unpacked everything from when she moved in with her cousin after leaving her father’s place. She had almost forgotten about Tony, but her cousin certainly hadn’t forgotten. Anna moved right up to his side.
“My name is Tony,” he greeted politely.
Anna slithered closer to him in that seductive way she always did when trying to charm a man. “Well, it certainly is a pleasure to meet you.” She held out her hand.
He took it and pressed a tiny kiss on her knuckles. “The pleasure is all mine.” He winked.
“Excuse me, Romeo,” Monica snapped as she broke the two apart, shoving a box into his arms. “Take this and put it in the car for me…please?” She ended with a slight plea to her voice as she batted her eyes. She knew how ridiculous she looked, but she did it on purpose.
Tony grinned, a corner of one side of his mouth lifting higher than the other. “Yes, Miss Jewell.” He turned and left the apartment.
“Monica, I can’t believe you are doing this!” Anna whispered in harsh tones after he had left. “What are you going to do now?”
Monica sighed and frowned. “I’m going to be a nanny.”
An eyebrow rose on Anna’s perfect face. “What else?”
Monica shrugged. “Nothing…well, maybe I’ll listen really well to those behind closed doors once in a while.”
Anna moaned heavily in frustration. “Just don’t do anything stupid, all right? I don’t want to be attending your funeral in the near future.”
Monica patted her cousin’s cheeks. “Not to worry. I shall be very careful, I promise. I know what kind of a man the all-powerful Mr. Zambino is and what he can do.”
Gasping, Anna placed her hand on her neck. “You have actually met him?”
“Yes, of course. He was the one who conducted the interview.”
“What did he look like?”
“He was a nice looking fellow, but he carried himself like he was the ruler of the world.”
Anna rolled her eyes “But he is…don’t you see that? He rules Chicago just like he is God Himself, and he won’t stop until someone physically stops him.”
“You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know. However, Mr. Zambino was polite and friendly, but I found out right away that one does not say no to him.”
Anna’s expression deepened with wrinkles and she frowned. “That’s what I’m frightened about. Because I know how strong and stubborn you can be, it worries me that you will butt heads with him someday.”
“Anna,” Monica held her cousin’s hand, “I, too, have realized this, but I’m going to bite my tongue no matter what it takes. I will not do anything to make him think he can’t trust me. I promise.”
“You know I’ll always be thinking about you, don’t you?”
“Yes. I will keep you informed so you don’t worry.”
“Nothing will keep me from worrying.” Sadness laced Anna’s voice.
Monica didn’t want to tell her cousin that she was worried as well. But her determination overrode all other emotions. Until bad men like Mr. Zambino were put behind bars, Chicago would never be safe.
Rose and yellow colored ribbons with blue and white tiny flowers decorated the walls of the largest bedroom Monica had ever seen. The carpet was a light teal color, matching the curtains on the windows and the queen-size canopy hanging over her bed. Not only was there a walk-in closet, but an armoire came with the room, too. There were two bed stands with two crystal lamps perched on top. On the ceiling hung a mini-chandelier, the most beautiful she had ever seen. Of course, she hadn’t had her tour of this glorious mansion yet, either, and was sure there would be more to see that held such splendid beauty.
The one thing more exciting than sleeping in a queen size canopy bed, was having her own adjoining bathroom. Never in her life had she owned a private bathroom. She usually had to share with someone, but now she was more than happy to have her own. The bathroom itself looked to be antique, with a deep, shiny white tub with claw-like legs. Although this style was a little older, it appeared sparkling and new. She was beginning to feel almost elated knowing that this was going to be her home for the next little while. She could certainly become used to this lifestyle.
On one side of her room, a set of glass doors opened onto a gated balcony that overlooked the side of the house. The property on this side was mostly manicured lawns and trees with a small flower patch by the house. This would make a beautiful view for the sunset, she surmised with giddiness.
Quickly, her demeanor changed and she wondered how close she was to the Zambino’s private rooms so she could start eavesdropping? Hopefully, today she would find out.
After Mary Zambino showed her to her room, she explained some of the things Monica would be required to do. She would have to wake the school aged children every morning at seven o’clock, feed them, and dress them for school. Monica would then have to accompany them in the car to make certain they arrived at school, before returning to wake the other children, feed and dress them, as well. After breakfast, she would spend the rest of the morning and afternoon in fun activities and helping the younger children to learn. After lunch, the two children would need to lie down for their naps. From this time to when school was out, approximately two hours, it would be her free time to do whatever she liked.
Once school was out, she’d be required to go with Tony to pick them up, and once they got home, she’d make sure they started on their homework. Of course, this was when the tutor stepped in and so she would spend her time with the younger children who were now awake from their naps. From that time until dinner, she would play with the children or go on outings. The children ate their dinner with the family, so Monica wasn’t needed at this time. She could do whatever she wanted, but at eight o’clock sharp, she would need to get the children ready for bed and tuck them in. After that, she had the rest of the evening for herself.
Monica thought it was rather sad that the children spent more time with the nanny than they did with their own parents, but she was getting paid really well for being their substitute mother, so she shouldn’t complain too much. Besides, being in this position gave her almost free reign over the house, which was what she needed if she were going to find out what happened to Norman and his drugstore business.
It didn’t take very long before she had unpacked all of her clothes and had them in drawers or hanging in the armoires. She didn’t dare feel as if she were home, because this wasn’t her home. This was just a place she’d stay until justice was served. But she’d been living out of a box for so long, it was hard not to feel relieved about belonging somewhere.
There was still an hour before dinner time, and she wouldn’t meet the children until after that, so she really had nothing to do. It was still too early to start snooping through the house. She needed to gain their trust, first.
Slowly, she walked to the double doors that opened onto the balcony and stepped out. A gentle breeze stroked her cheek. Closing her eyes, she breathed in the fresh country air. Everything seemed so quiet and peaceful out here. She could really get used to this if things were different.
She stepped to the iron railing and leaned against it as she gazed out across the yard. Off to the right was a section of the backyard. Many sculptured bushes and trees littered the lawn, but nothing else on this side of the house. She was certain Mr. Zambino had plenty of yard for the parties that were rumored to have famous and wealthy guests in attendance.
Through the stillness, a sound snapped her out of her thoughts. Off to her left, someone was splashing water. She turned her attention in that direction and glanced down. She hadn’t realized until now how close the garage was to her balcony. One of the Zambino’s cars had been pulled out in front, while Tony washed it. His uniform jacket and hat were removed, and he only wore a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and a black pair of pants encasing his muscular thighs. However, the more he stretched across the car with the wet rag in his hand, the more his own clothes dampened.
Back up slowly and don’t let him see you. Monica’s mind screamed at her to move, but her body wouldn’t listen. She was literally frozen in place and her eyes refused to leave the scene below.
With her luck lately, he'd catch her staring at him. She just knew it!
**READERS - if you would like to read more, I have the next 22 chapters on Radish, which is a free phone app. https://radishfiction.com/