I stopped outside of a big city. Not because I necessarily wanted to, but mainly because I was almost out of gas. I wearily pulled into a gas station and filled my car. Then I parked it on the side of the street and began walking around.
I passed huge department stores and skyscrapers. It was eight oh clock at night which meant I had been driving for some time. Mom, dad, Bella, Mason, and Sophia had all tried calling me but I had hit ignore every time.
It was almost dark outside as I walked, nonchalantly around. I passed many people. They say the city’s scary at night, but I found it peaceful. Everything was glowing with neon signs and I realized I needed a place to stay. I wasn’t sure if this is where I wanted to “settle” but I knew that I needed a place to rest for the night.
I found a fancy looking, five star hotel and checked in. The lady at the front desk looked at me curiously but asked no questions other than if I wanted a smoking or non smoking room.
I walked quietly up the stairs to my room. I slid the key in and collapsed onto the bed. I hadn’t realized how tired I was until just then, but I drifted off into dream land.
I woke up the next morning at eight. I was surprised I had slept so well with all the city noises, but I had. I realized I had left everything in my car and walked out to go find my car. I figured I could drive it back to the hotel and change and shower before noon, which was check out time. I found my car parked outside, right where I had left it. I looked around, I was standing in front of “KidzClub” which looked to be a daycare. Or maybe a party place?
I was obviously wrong on both accounts. I watched a young woman struggle out of the automatic doors with three little kids and her arms filled with bags.
“Mommy, I want ice cream!” one of the little boys whined.
She sighed and gripped his hand tighter. She was pushing the baby girl in a stroller and had the two boys on either side of her. She looked frazzled to say the least.
“No Jason, I told you, not today,”
I froze. I wasn’t sure why other than that she had just called him Jason. But I turned around and introduced myself.
“Hi, I’m Lauren” I said to her.
She looked startled but stopped and said, “Steph,”
I smiled, “Your kids are cute,”
She looked down lovingly at them, “Thank you,”
“Where are you headed?” I asked her.
“Oh, to catch a cab. I have to get home for lunch.”
I looked her over, she was pretty. Her blonde hair was long and in a braid and she was young, maybe twenty five. I noticed she didn’t have a wedding ring.
“I can give you a ride, if you’d like.” I said. My confidence was surprising me.
She looked surprised, “You have a car?”
I nodded towards my mustang.
“Well then, thanks.” She said.
I opened the trunk and scooted my bags over to make room for Steph’s purchases. Then she buckled her kids tightly into the back and got up in front with me.
“Where to?” I asked, backing out.
“It’s a suburb, twenty minutes away. Just take that left,” she replied.
As we were driving she asked, “So what’s a young girl doing in the city with a car?”
I laughed, “What? Do most of you not have cars?” I said.
She smiled, “No, everyone uses the subway or a cab,”
“Figures,” I began, “No, I’m just trying out some new things,” I said carefully.
“How old are you?” she asked.
“I’ll be eighteen next month,”
“Huh,” she said. We sat in silence for a few moments. The traffic was beginning to thin and she pointed me to my next turn. Her kids were in the backseat chatting animatedly about dinosaurs.
“So, why’d you stop and talk to me?” she asked.
I hesitated, “I…I heard you call him Jason. That was my boyfriends name…he’s dead now,” I said.
She nodded and said, “I’m sorry to hear that. My husband died last year. Left me with these three, it’s hard, you know? Getting by and all.”
“Yeah,” I said softly.
We pulled up slowly to her house. It was new and looked really nice. Two stories’ and a big backyard with a swing set.
“Come in,” she instructed me.
I smiled and grabbed her bags.
The inside of her house was even more magnificent than the outside. The ceilings were high and as she showed me around, I counted eight bedrooms.
“So, the four of you live here alone?” I asked, sipping the hot chocolate she had made.
“Yep, Mark made a lot of money and we are doing just fine, financially. Plus my parents are plenty rich. I shouldn’t have to work, that’s their philosophy. But I write for a parenting magazine. It gets to be hard, with these three. And plus, keeping the house clean and taking care of the puppy we just got, I can’t handle much more.”
I nodded sympathetically.
“Now what about you?” she asked.
I set my mug down slowly, “Well….After Jayson died I couldn’t stay in my town. So I left…I suppose you could say I ran away. I’ve only just gotten here last night.”
“What are your plans? For work and living?” she asked interested.
I hesitated, “I…I don’t really know. I guess…I’ll have to get a job. I don’t have too much money. And I was planning on selling the car…”
She looked at me carefully for a minute, then bit her lip, “Well Lauren, I have a proposition.”
“Yes?” I asked.
“What if, I employed you to watch Ellie, Jason, and Brett? You’d be like their nanny. I’d expect you to watch them and take care of them. That basically means that I want them up by eight and asleep by nine. I want them bathed and taken care of. I want one activity a day at least. I want you to feed them too. I also would want you to take care of Princeton, our puppy. Also, you’d have to keep the house clean. I’d give you Saturday off. Sunday, I’d expect you to go to church with us. I’d watch my kids….two hours a day that you could have as free time or time to clean and watch Princeton. What do you say?”
I stared, open mouthed at her, “Are you serious?”
“Well, yes. Oh, and I’d pay you…a hundred dollars a week. I know it’s not much, but I’ll let you live here and eat our food.”
“Yes! I accept!” I said excitedly.
“Good, now I like you, but if you aren’t doing a good job, I will fire you.”
I smiled, “Don’t worry,”
“Oh, and one more thing Lauren,”
“Yeah?” I asked.
“Keep the car, it’ll come in handy.”