But it was no longer as relevant as making his own life work. Josh scrolled to the end, electronically signed on the bottom line, and hit SEND.
Done. Carrot bitten. Hell, carrot swallowed.
Just like that—though there were no trumpets, no fat ladies singing—Josh’s life was irrevocably changed. He moved back to Grace at the door.
She was staring at him very solemnly. “What did I just miss?” she asked.
Josh didn’t really have words. He felt a little off his center of gravity, like he was standing at the edge of a cliff with one foot in the air already. It was a new feeling for him. “Nothing yet,” he said, and because she was standing so close, looking so cute and yet utterly, effortlessly sexy, he backed her to the door.
“Josh,” she said. Just that, just his name as her hands went to his chest.
Not to push him away, he noticed with some satisfaction. Though she wasn’t exactly sold on this, on them, not yet. Not even close. But the way her pulse beat at the base of her throat told him the move had excited her.
“You feel warm,” she said, and gave him a worried frown.
He pressed into her a little. Yeah, he was feeling warm. He was starting to feel a bunch of things. “Don’t worry, it’s not contagious.”
Her brow creased more tightly in that adorable expression of concern. “You’re sick?”
“Probably.” He slid a hand down her back to her very nice ass and rocked her into him. “Definitely.”
She blinked, then caught onto his light, teasing tone. She relaxed, letting out a little sigh that went straight through him. “You poor man. All work and no play.”
Yeah. But that was going to change.
Or so he hoped.
Too bad that by the time it did, she’d probably be long gone, having taken a job and a life that suited her far more than his. Leaning in, he kissed her, soft and light, then pulled back. “Let’s go get Toby.”
They made it to the school in time to see Toby get his Student of the Week award. Grace watched Toby beam with happiness at his father’s presence and felt her heart clutch. Josh’s expression was much more subdued but no less genuine, and Grace’s heart kicked again.
After, she left to give them some alone time, heading to the diner to meet Amy and Mallory. Jan, the diner’s owner, stopped her at the door. Jan was short and round and appeared to cut her dark hair by putting a bowl over her head to use as a guideline. She wasn’t big on customer service, rarely speaking to her customers unless it was to yell at them to pipe down because American Idol was on the TV. “Got something for you,” she said.
This took Grace by surprise. In all the time she’d known Jan, the woman had never spoken directly to her.
Jan held out a memory stick.
“What’s this?” Grace asked.
“My laptop died. This is my backup bookkeeping. I need you to get on it ASAP. I’m a little behind.”
Jan was looking impatient to be back in front of her TV. “You’re a number cruncher, yes?”
“Well, actually,” Grace said, “I’m in banking—”
“You’re doing Amy’s books,” Jan said.
“Yes, because she’s my friend.”
“And Lance’s and Tucker’s. And Anderson’s. And Jeanine’s.”
Yeah, okay, so she’d gotten shystered into doing a lot of bookkeeping. She was good at it. And as it turned out, she also liked it. She liked the way numbers balanced at the end of the day, how she didn’t have to take her work home with her to stress about at night. “These are all one-time things,” she said to Jan. “Really. I’m just sort of setting them up.”
“I’ll pay you,” Jan said. “And also give you free food. As much as you can eat.”
Grace had her mouth open to refuse but she closed it, inexcusably drawn in by this. “As much as I want?”
“As much as your skinny ass can take,” Jan said, waving the memory stick enticingly.
Grace sighed and took it. Skinny? Not even close. “How long ago did your laptop die?”
She made her way to the back booth. “Sucker,” a waiting Mallory said.
Amy came out from the kitchen, making a big deal about setting the tray of cupcakes down just right, twisting the tray and nearly blinding Grace and Mallory with…
“Oh my God,” Mallory said, and screamed.
Grace put her fingers in her ears but grinned wide.
Amy was wearing a rock on her ring finger.
Mallory jumped up and down and screamed some more, and then wore herself out and sank into the booth for a cupcake.
“I actually don’t even need chocolate,” Amy said, staring at her ring in dazed marvel. “Never thought I’d say that.”
Mallory laughed and took a second cupcake. “I’ll eat it for you.”
“I’m getting married,” Amy said softly. She looked up at the two of them, her eyes shiny. “Can you believe it?”
Grace knew that Amy hadn’t had much luck in love before coming to Lucky Harbor. But Matt Bowers, a very sexy forest ranger and all-around great guy, had changed that for her.
Mallory’s life was changing too.
Everyone’s life was changing.
Except for Grace’s.
Mallory squeezed her hand, making her realize she’d gone quiet. “You okay?”
“Oh, I’m good, and very happy for both of you.” And she meant that, from the bottom of her heart. “I love how you’ve both figured out what was missing in your lives and went out and got it for yourselves.”
“You know that what was missing wasn’t a man, right?” Amy asked. “Because I didn’t need a man to make me whole. I just needed to open myself up to new experiences. The man part sort of fell in my lap.”
Mallory grinned. “Ditto.”
“Well, thankfully, I don’t need a man to make me whole,” Grace said. “Because there’s a definite man shortage in my life.”
“Liar,” Amy said.
“Hey,” Grace said. “I’m just his dog walker and part-time nanny. It’s temporary. Very temporary.”
Amy turned to Mallory. “Time for the big guns.”
Mallory pulled out her phone, thumbed to Lucky Harbor’s Facebook page, and showed it to Grace. The latest entry read:
Ladies, our favorite doc, Josh Scott, is actively seeking a new nanny. Many have applied, and all have been turned down by his interim nanny, Grace Brooks.
Is she just being extraordinarily careful?
Or is she saving the position for herself?
A picture is worth a thousand words…
Accompanying this was indeed a picture, taken from inside the elementary school’s kindergarten classroom. Toby was up on the makeshift stage, accepting his award.
The class was full of proud, smiling parents.
And in the back of the room stood Grace, beaming at the stage, a flush on her cheeks.
That wasn’t the most damning part. Nope, that honor went to Josh, standing just behind her, his arms around her, his shoulders much broader than hers, his jaw pressed to her temple as he also looked toward the stage. There was something about the stance, the body language, the way the air practically shimmered between them. Not that there was any air between them. He was so tight to her that a sheet of paper wouldn’t have fit.
“Well that’s just…” Grace trailed off. Sexy.
In fact, she was getting a hot flash right now.
“Standing a little close, aren’t you, for nanny and the professor?” Amy asked dryly.
“Doctor,” Grace said absently. “He’s a doctor.”
“So is that why he’s close enough to take your body temperature without a thermometer?”
Grace shook her head. “This picture couldn’t have been taken even an hour ago.” And that wasn’t all. She looked happy in that picture.
“The good stuff travels fast in Lucky Harbor,” Amy said. “You know that.”
“And that’s not the only fast thing,” Mallory said. “You guys have moved pretty fast.”
“Says the woman who slept with her fiancé on the first night she met him,” Amy said dryly.
“Second night,” Mallory said primly.
“This picture was taken out of context,” Grace complained. “Completely.”
“Of course,” Mallory agreed, nodding. Then she shook her head. “Um, so how do you take a picture out of context?”
“The classroom was packed,” Grace said. “Standing room only. We were forced to be so squished.”
“Interesting how his arms look quite comfortable around her,” Mallory noted to Amy.
“And notice the postcoital look about her,” Amy offered back.
Grace bit her lower lip and stared at the picture. She did seem to have a certain orgasmic glow. Jeez, how long did such a thing last anyway?
Josh didn’t have the glow. Even though technically he’d been the last one to, um, have an orgasm, he was looking a little edgy, a little rough and tumble. Like maybe he needed another reason to glow. Grace bit her lip harder at the thought. “We haven’t been together. Not exactly.”
“Not exactly?” Amy asked, brows up. “Is that what you kids call it these days?”
Mallory cracked up at this, and Grace sighed. “It’s more like coitus interruptus. Twice. Once because he was called into work and another because he fell asleep.”
Amy grinned. “Anyone ever tell you you’re supposed to keep them awake for the good stuff?”
Mallory was smiling but her question was serious. “So are you two going to be a real thing, then, not just a fun thing?”
Something clenched deep inside Grace at the thought, but she couldn’t decide if it was a good clench or a bad one. Liar, liar… “I’ve run the numbers,” she said. “It wouldn’t work. First of all, he’s a doctor. He gets a lot of points taken off for that.”