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“Do you have a boyfriend, a serious relationship or are you married?” That question truly came out of nowhere. It was worse than being asked about the eviction. The man was making her dizzy with all the twists and turns in the conversation. He was getting far too personal. This discussion had taken a decidedly uncomfortable direction. Kim had assured her Grant was a good guy, but was he some closet pervert? She was the nanny, not his live-in good time. She narrowed her eyes at him. “What exactly does that have to do with anything?” “I just don’t want there to be any conflict with your time.” What was that supposed to mean? Was he implying she hadn’t been giving Lily the best care possible? It didn’t matter because she was leaving in a few days. But why the concern now? She sat straighter, giving him a pointed look. “I can assure you Lily has had my undivided attention and will have it until I leave.” Unlike what she’d seen from him. “And not that it’s any of your business but, no, I don’t have a love interest.” “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” What was going on? She was missing something here. “My love life?” “Yes. No. Sort of.” She pushed her chair back, preparing to stand. He reached out a hand as if to stop her. “Please listen to me.” She settled again but kept her look focused on him. “Then get to the point because I’m not seeing it.” “Is there any reason you can’t get married?” He leaned toward her as if her answer was supremely important to him. She’d had just about enough of this integration. He was starting to scare her. Grant looked like a normal guy so why all the irrational questions? If she hadn’t needed the final week of pay, she’d leave right now. “No. Why?” As if he’d sensed her apprehension, he eased back in the chair and stated in a firm, calm voice, “My stepmother’s family wants to take Lily away from me. My lawyer believes I need to be married if I have any hope of keeping Lily. I know this may sound nuts and is completely out of the blue, but would you consider marrying me?” Sara’s back went ramrod-straight. Her breath caught and her heart thudded. She lunged off the chair, almost butting into him as he stood also. “You have to be kidding! You are nuts. You couldn’t even remember my name when we first met. We’ve only known each other a week. You must have some over-the-top ego that leads you to believe that because I saw you in your underwear and we shared two meals together, I’d want to marry you.” He blinked a couple of times. “No. You have the wrong idea. It would be a business agreement only. We would be married just in name. It would only be on paper. As soon as I have custody and can find a permanent nanny for Lily, we can go our separate ways. Easy. I would make it well worth your while. You’re being evicted. In exchange for marrying me I would see to it that you have a place to live. I’ll buy you a house of your choice.” Sara paused. A house? He’d buy her a house? No more worrying about bad rental apartments or looming evictions? She shook her head. No, it wasn’t an option. “You are crazy,” she said. Still, the carrot he dangled in front of her was tempting. No more worrying about her father having a home, or her. No more moving. Also she had to admit she was proud of Grant for going to such lengths to keep Lily. He was truly committed to the child. She had to admire him for that. “We don’t even know each other.” “No, but we don’t have to. I’ll go about my business and you can take care of Lily like you are doing now. We just have to make it through the court hearing.” “When will that be?” The tension in him visibly eased, as if he knew he’d captured her interest. “I don’t know. Maybe in a month.” That was a long time. Marriage, even on paper, was a commitment she wasn’t sure she could make. That was one of the reasons she wasn’t in a relationship. She could never get past the beginning stage. Her fear of doing something wrong and being left was too strong. Could she handle being around Lily for that amount of time and not have it rip her heart out when she had to leave? Would the pain be worth the prize of a house? But how long and how many more moves would she and her father have to make before they could settle somewhere permanently if she didn’t agree? “I don’t know.” She’d been big hearted before and had carried Emily, and what had it gotten her? Heartache when she’d given her up. If she agreed to Grant’s plan she was afraid she was in for more anguish on a much grander scale. Having a baby had been huge, but marriage? She was old-fashioned, still believing you should love someone before you married them.
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