Bombshell First Chapter Reveal
—Wipes. Please say you have wipes—
The two texts came rapid-fire. Ding ding, really loud in the waiting room. The walls, the floor, the ceiling, and the lighting were hard, cold white, and the sound bounced off them like a gong. The receptionist with the bun and black tailored jacket looked up at me disapprovingly. I made an “I’m sorry” face, then clicked off the sound. The five other well-groomed women in their twenties and thirties ignored me.
—What’s happening? Where are you?—
—Hallway ladies room. Bring wipes. I’m out—
Everything about the text was weird. Why was Blakely in the bathroom? She was supposed to be on the other side of the glass doors, interviewing for a nanny job.
I smiled at the receptionist as I walked out. She knew me. I’d worked with West Side Nannies for years. I spoke French, navigated private school applications, wiped noses, helped with pre-calc homework, managed ancillary staff, and kept the little ones safe.
My last job had ended amicably but suddenly. My agent, Laura, shrugged it off and told me she could get me anything. So I made demands. I wouldn’t work for absentee parents. No actors. No celebrities. No Hollywood hangers-on. Just vanilla rich. Or vanilla well-off. Glamour came at too high a price. A nanny didn’t even have to sleep with a daddy to end up on the front page of some rag, and if there was anything that terrified me, it was seeing my face on the magazine racks at the grocery store checkout.
In an hour she found me something so perfect I nearly fell off my chair. Two gay bankers in Hancock Park. I’d met their son, had coffee at their house, and accepted an offer. I was at the office to sign the contract and keep Blakely company as she sat for her kid-meet with a family who wouldn’t give their name.
Apparently, the meeting wasn’t going well.
I could hear the screams and cries of a child from down the hall.
I knocked softly and the door swung open. I got hit in the face with a wall of poop stink and the teary screams of a little girl.
Blakely crouched on the tile surrounded by a ring of white-and-brown-streaked wads. The expensive toilet paper disintegrated when it was wet. Her hair had started falling out of her perfectly professional blonde chignon. She turned to me and stuck her hand out, snapping her fingers for the wipes.
She was an actress first, nanny second. Taking care of Hollywood kids was easier than waitressing, paid very well, came with rent-free housing, and sometimes—if you were lucky—the schedule was flexible enough to audition.
But she had a hard time finding work these days. Money was getting tight. Blakely had been my first friend in Los Angeles. We’d met at a birthday party and she’d taken me under her wing. So when her name got dragged through the mud, I was the one to grocery shop for her so she could avoid seeing her distorted face at the checkout and I was the one who defended her to the other caretakers at events.
Now I was going to bring her wipes because it was the least I could do.
The toilet seat was covered in brown streaks. The little girl standing by the throne with her stained pants around her ankles was crying so hard her face looked like a wet tomato.
Blakely was holding a wet wad of toilet paper with her fingertips. The door clicked closed behind me. She wiped the little girl’s tears with a disintegrating piece of toilet paper and gently shushed her. The shushing didn’t quiet her. I handed my friend the wipes and wet some overpriced hand towels so I could wipe down the poop.
“It’s all right,” she said in a gentle-but-firm nanny voice.
“We’re going to get you cleaned up in a jiff.” Blakely stood, fell halfway out of her pump, and skidded on a soggy wad of toilet paper and poo, landing on her butt.
The little girl went from big-fat-tear-weeping to screaming in terror. I stepped over Blakely and kneeled in front of the little girl. I felt my chest expand as soon as I looked at her. My heart swelled and broke a bit. I’d do or say whatever I had to to soothe her.
“Are you all right?” I asked Blakely in a singsong so the little girl wouldn’t get upset.
“I think I fell in poop,” Blakely said from behind me. “Yuck. I did.”
I turned back to the little one.
“Hi,” I said, hoping she’d hear me through her wailing. “My name is Cara, what’s yours?”
Blakely interrupted, “Nicole, it’s—”
“How old are you?” I asked. She snarfled, making a massive effort to get herself together. I’d seen men dig ditches with less struggle. Good kid.
Blakely broke in. “—Brad Sinclair’s daughter.”
Talk about grocery store fodder. The A-list Oscar nominee had had a five-year-old from a short fling dumped on his doorstep a week earlier. If I were this kid, I’d shit myself too.
“Five,” the girl spit out.
“Five?” I acted surprised and impressed. The fact was, Brad Sinclair’s bodyguards were going to bust in here in a minute and arrest both of us. This girl needed to calm down. “So big! Wow.” I snapped a few wipes from the dispenser and handed them to her. “Do you want to wipe your eyes or can I do it?”
“You,” she sniffled. I patted her cheeks. News of her had been all over the internet. Notorious Hollywood playboy Brad Sinclair had knocked up a girl six years before, when he was working in a little crystal store in Venice Beach. Right after he got cast in his career-making role. She’d put his name on the birth certificate but never told him. When she died in a freeway accident, the state contacted him, DMZ got wind of it, and no one had been able to talk about anything else for a week.
“Are you feeling sick in your belly?” I asked.
“And your head?”
“It hurts right here.” She put her hand on the front of her head and moved it back. Top of the head. Not neck. That was good. “And it smells really bad in here.”
Her face screwed up. She was about to cry again.
“You’re right,” I said. “It does. Should we clean up a little?”
The mother, whoever she was, had raised her well so far.
Blakely cut in, “I have an audition in an hour.” She tossed the wad of paper in the toilet.
“You smell like a colon.” I looked at my watch. “And you don’t have time to get home and shower.” I pointed to the seat and addressed the little girl. “Hey, great job cleaning up. My name is Cara. Do you want to tell me your name?”
She shook her head. Her face had gone from red to pink to normal, revealing brown eyes big as cups of black coffee and thin eyebrows. Her coloring was nothing like Sinclair’s, but the lines and planes of her face were so similar, she could have been his clone.
“That’s all right. You don’t have to tell me. Let me see what we have back here.” She bent over in the shameless way of children so I could see that the backs of her thighs were covered in brown stink.
“Not so bad,” I said. “Blakely, can you toss these and grab me a fresh one?” I handed her the wad, keeping my eyes on the child. “This is a nice shirt. Who is this?” I pointed to a pink horse with kitten ears.
“Pony Pie. Her nature symbol is joy.”
“We could use some of that.”
“We could,” Blakely said, handing me a wipe. “But this sweetheart really is a joy. Just having a hard day.” She leaned forward to make eye contact with the girl and winked. Nicole wiped her nose with her sleeve.
“I agree,” I said. I got to work on the girl’s bottom while Blakely wiped down the bathroom.
Blakely whispered, “I’ll never make it home to shower and get to Culver City in—”
She gulped her words back when there was a hard knock on the door.
“Blakely Anderson?” a male voice barked from the other side. My friend and I looked at each other.
“We’re in here,” I called.
A key slipped in the lock and the door slapped open, revealing two huge guys in dark shirts with radios squawking. The little one started screaming again, stamping her feet in poop streaks.
“Close the door close the door close the door,” she shrieked. Blakely threw her hands up. The guys came for the girl, who was getting more upset by the millisecond.
What I should have done was step back and let them take her, shitstains and all. I would have had far less trouble. But I didn’t have time to think it through. The bathroom was small, the guys were big, and the girl sounded irrevocably hurt and upset. I didn’t have cerebral cortex time. Only lizard brain time.
I stood up with my hands out.
They stopped. I had three seconds to talk over her screams.
“This little girl is upset because she’s dirty. You two taking her out of here like this is going to make it worse so—”
My three seconds were up. Guy number one pushed me out of the way while guy number two picked her up under the arms just as she kicked off her stained pants, shoe landing in filth, ear-splitting screams. Blakely stood in the hall feverishly talking to someone. My heart fell apart for the little stinker.
“Whoa, whoa!” A male voice echoed above the din. “Can we all chill out for a second?”
Everyone froze except the child, who was upset past obedience.
In the doorway stood my agent, Laura, and Brad Sinclair. But honestly, Laura was a footnote to his presence. We all were.
I was used to celebrities and actors. Star power had no effect on me anymore.
But he was different.
Burgundy button-down and jeans. Blue eyes and brown hair that needed a brush. Six-two-ish. A jawline that may or may not have been geometrically possible. Sure. Those were all words that described what I saw, and I could have come up with a hundred more the next day.
But at that moment, with his shoulders filling the doorframe and Laura behind him, clutching a folder, he wasn’t just a collection of perfectly fine features. He was action and motion. He projected himself outward, emanating heat. My ears turned red. Half a second turned to minutes. He was the hurricane and the eye of it. A constellation of angles and planes that curled around the world and complemented it.
Get a hold of yourself.
He was just stunning. One of a thousand like him.
Maybe a hundred.
Fine. You could count the number of men that gorgeous on one finger.
“Mr. Sinclair,” I said, giving him my most authoritative tone. “There’s no way out of here besides that door. I’m not going to take her. Just let me clean her up and bring her back.”
“Who are you?”
I had to shout over the nonstop loop of the girl’s screams. “My name is Cara DuMont. I was nanny to Ray Heywood’s kids.”
He knew Ray. Everyone knew Ray. Brad looked me up and down as if taking stock of my soul. I continued. “I’m not here for the job. But she’s upset. I’m fingerprinted and background checked, and I’m not afraid of a little poop on the floor.”
Brad looked at his daughter, the guys in the dark shirts, Laura, and then me, eye to eye. A man who projected star power like a lighthouse, but for the moment he was just a guy totally out of his depth.
“Okay. Thank you.”
I reached for the child, and she fell into my arms. The screaming slowed as soon as I bore the full weight of her, and stopped completely when she was on a clean part of the floor.
I addressed my agent. “Can you grab some underpants and have housekeeping bring some towels?”
She nodded. The security detail backed out, and Brad Sinclair gave me one look, one burning look that took the breath out of me before I closed the bathroom door and kneeled down to face his daughter.
“Do you want to start over?” I asked the girl.
“My name is Cara. It’s nice to meet you. What’s your name?”
“Nicole Garcia.” She sniffed and wiped her nose on her sleeve.
“Nice to meet you, Nicole. Wanna help clean this up?”
“Can we do my butt first?”
“Great idea.” I liked this little one. Good thing I already had a job lined up or I could have fallen for her and her dad in a heartbeat.
Bombshell will be released on May 1st, exclusively on Amazon.
If you don’t use Amazon – you can get the paperback at Barnes and Noble!