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Nanny for the Neighbors: Chapter 38


Sebastian doesn’t emerge from his room until two PM the next day. Which is kind of my fault. Before I retired to the sofa last night, I texted Jack and told him he needs to call Seb’s work and tell them he’s taking a sick day. Then I snuck back into Seb’s room, confiscated his phone, and stole his alarm clock. I hid it on top of the fridge.

I yawn widely as I finish burping Cami. Between looking after her and her father, I barely got an hour of sleep. Not that I minded helping out.

In fact, I’m mostly just confused. All this time, I’ve been assuming Seb doesn’t want Cami. But the man I saw last night was not a man who doesn’t care about his daughter.

He loves her. He loves her to bits. After I brought her to him, he cuddled her for over an hour, mumbling soothing nothings into her hair as she slept. He only let her go when I forcibly took her off him.

He’s clearly so desperate to connect with her. So why did it take so long for him to do it?

“What is going on with your dad, huh?” I ask Cami, fixing her pigtail. She yawns, flopping against my chest.

Sebastian’s door finally creaks open, and I look up as he steps into the lounge, blinking blearily. He looks exhausted, but much better than last night. There’s colour in his cheeks, and he’s changed out of his sweaty suit and into a pair of blue jeans and a tight black t-shirt. He looks amazing in casual clothes.

“Hey. Are you feeling better?” I ask quietly.

He nods and leans in the doorway, his eyes flicking over me and Cami. “Where’s my alarm clock?” He rumbles, his voice still rough from sleep.

“I destroyed it.” He squints. I sigh. “You can have it back when you’re a regularly functioning human again.” I nod at the stove. “I made soup for lunch. There’s fresh bread. Or lucozade and grapes in the fridge, if you’re not up to that.”

He blinks at the fridge, like he’s struggling to keep up. “You went shopping?”

“I wanted to try Cami with some vegetables tonight. The lady at the corner shop adores her.”

He walks towards the stove, examining the saucepan. “You didn’t have to do this. I’m not sick.”

I roll my eyes. “Just eat the soup.”

He nods slowly and turns the stove on, opening the cupboard for a glass. He fills it at the sink, but ends up knocking it over, spilling water over the counter.

I frown. “Are you okay?”

“Fine.” He reaches for the paper towels, dabbing up the mess. “My brain usually runs on half-speed the day after. But I feel fine.”

My chest squeezes. Part of me wants to sit him down at the table and get his food ready for him, heating up the soup and cutting the bread. But I have a very strong feeling he wouldn’t appreciate that, so I turn my attention back to Cami, playing with her hands. Seb moves quietly through the kitchen, pouring himself a bowl of soup and sitting down at the counter to eat it.

“It’s good,” he says, after his first spoonful.

“Of course it is.” I chuck Cami under the chin. “I had an excellent sous-chef.”

He looks at the baby, narrowing his eyes. “How…”

“She mostly provided moral support,” I admit. “But it was very effective.”

We don’t say anything else as he eats. He finishes his food, puts his bowl in the dishwasher, and then just stands awkwardly, watching us.

I look up at him. “Yep?”

He swallows. “I don’t know how to say thank you.”

“You managed pretty well just then. You’re welcome.” I pat the sofa. “Can we talk?”

He hesitates, then nods, sitting down next to me.

“Here.” Before he can freak out, I reach over and plop Cami in his arms.

His whole body stiffens. “I don’t know how—”

“You know how to hold her,” I say. “You held her fine last night, and you could barely see straight. Just do what feels natural.”

He swallows and slowly re-arranges her in his arms, laying her cheek against his chest. She snuggles easily against him, smacking her lips. I reach up a hand and squeeze his neck. “Relax,” I remind him softly.

His muscles unclench. He holds Cami a bit closer and clears his throat. “What did you want to talk about?”

I decide to just dive straight in. “Why are you so conflicted about Cami? Last night, you wanted to hold her so bad, but when you’re not drunk on pain, you barely touch her.” I shake my head. “I don’t get it. You freak out every time she cries, but you refuse to cuddle her. You jump to make her bottles, but you won’t play with her. What’s going on in your head?”

He doesn’t say anything, curling a bit of her hair around his finger.

I sigh. “Is this to do with what you were talking about last night?”

He tenses. “What did I say last night?”

“You don’t remember?”

“Not much. I remember you putting me to bed. And…” His high cheekbones colour slightly. “You were stroking my hair. I don’t remember what we spoke about.”

“You said you were worried you were going to hurt her. And that you scare everybody you talk to.”

He blanches. “Oh, Jesus.” He runs a hand through his hair. “Could I maybe convince you to visit a hypnotherapist and wipe the last twelve hours from your memory? I know a great one near Hyde park.”

“We coooould,” I say, drawing the word out. “Or, you could tell me what’s wrong, and we can find the solution that’s best for Cami. Because right now, this,” I wave a finger between him and her, “is unfair to your daughter.”

He hesitates for a long time. So long, I think he’s going to refuse. Eventually, he takes a deep breath. “When I was younger,” he says slowly, “I had to take anger management classes. I lashed out a lot.”

“You hurt people?”

He sighs. “Just one person.” He looks down at Cami. “My dad left when I was twelve. Just packed a bag and never came home. He never gave a reason. Mum was devastated. She didn’t know how to support us. She’d never worked. She started dating rich guys to help out with money.” He gently tugs out Cami’s hair bobble, letting her hair loose. “I hated all of them.”

I nod. That sounds pretty reasonable. “You just wanted your dad back.”

“There was one boyfriend. He’s my step-dad now. Steven. He was much older than my mum, and completely loaded. I came home from school one day, and he was shouting at her. Calling her names. I guess he found out that she was seeing other men.” He starts combing Cami’s hair with his fingers. She closes her eyes, enjoying the soft touches. “I just lost it. I was so mad. I ran at him and started punching him. I was only twelve, so I didn’t do much damage, but I did knock out a tooth.”


He nods. “My mum was horrified. She put me in anger management classes, and when they didn’t work, she shipped me off to American army camps. I went every summer, until I turned eighteen.” He tucks Cami’s hair behind her tiny ears. “They worked better than the therapy. I learned to control myself.”

“Control yourself,” I echo faintly. “What does that mean?”

“To keep my emotions in check. To act rationally, and logically, so I didn’t hurt people.” A vein throbs in his temple. “They weren’t perfect, though. I still get angry. I still struggle. I guess it’ll always be a part of me.”

I think of all of Sebastian’s odd little quirks. The cleanliness. The perfectly pressed suits. His distress when the house gets messy. I remember Jack’s words. It scares him. Being out of control.

“Did you ever hurt anybody else?” I ask carefully. “Or was it just that one time?”

“Just once.”

“When you were twelve. What, sixteen years ago?”


“And you still think that if you let loose, you’ll turn into the Hulk?” I shake my head, anger bubbling inside me. “Since you were a kid, you were told that you were some kind of violent monster. So you keep all of your emotions locked inside you, until the pressure gets so bad you get physically ill.”

His mouth flattens. “I have to. For the sake of the people around me.”

“Sebastian. You hit a man once, when you were a child. That does not make you a monster.” He doesn’t respond. I sigh. “If Cyrus went to work, and found one of the girls getting harassed by a guy in the club, what do you think he’d do?”

“I don’t know.”

“He’d probably yell at the guy, and if he didn’t stop, I’d bet my whole salary that he would punch the man in the face. It might not be the best response, but it’s a very understandable one. And it wouldn’t make him a monster.” I lean forward, taking his hand. “Sebastian, you’re not violent. You were an angry kid who wanted to protect his mum. Protect, not hurt.”

He opens his mouth, but I interrupt him. “I grew up in care. I’ve looked after tons of children. I know plenty about angry kids. They aren’t monsters, they’re just hurting. Any therapist or parent worth anything should be able to see that. You’d lost your dad. You should’ve been helped, not punished.”

“You’re wrong,” he says, staring down at Cami. “And I don’t know what to do. I don’t feel safe keeping Cami. But I don’t feel safe giving her back to her mother, either. I don’t know what to do.” He takes a deep breath, running his fingers through Cami’s fine hair. “I think maybe it’s time I gave her up.”

Fear bolts through me.


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