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Nanny for the Neighbors: Chapter 60


I pull up at the address Benny sent me and sit in the car, staring up at the house.

It’s huge. Three floors, with a long, pebble-covered drive and a small fountain in the front garden. Expensive cars with custom plates fill the driveway. The windows are covered with fancy lace curtains, but I can see movement inside. They’re home.

I take a deep breath. My mum’s clearly done well for herself. This is a far cry from my own cheap, mouldy apartment. I feel out of place already, like I’m too poor to even park my car here.

I brace myself, going over what I want to say in my head.

Hey! How are you? I’m Bethany!

I don’t know if you remember me—I’m your daughter.

I know you decided you didn’t want me, but that’s okay, no hard feelings! I just wanted to reconnect with my biological family. Maybe snag a hug or two.

Crap. I can’t say any of that, I’ll sound like a total psycho. I pull down the sun visor and examine my face in the mirror. I look like shit. I’m not wearing any makeup, I’m exhausted, and my hair is frizzing around my head. I was planning on a doctor’s visit today, not meeting my long-lost mother. I try rearranging my hair and pinching my cheeks. So sue me, if I want my mum to think I’m pretty.

I glance again at the house and notice one of the lace curtains twitch. Shit. They’ve seen me. I probably look like a total creep, hanging around outside their house like a stalker.

I take a deep breath and pull myself together, sliding out of the car. It’s now or never. I have to do this. I’m shaking hard as I walk up the drive, small round pebbles shifting under my shoes. I reach the door, squeeze my eyes shut, and touch my bracelet quickly, for good luck.

Then I press the doorbell. A pretty chiming sound echoes inside the house. I hear dogs barking and a burst of laughter.

“Don’t get up, mum, I’ll get it!” A woman calls. I hear footsteps coming down the corridor, then the lock clicking. The door opens, and I look right into the face of my mother.

For a moment, I’m completely speechless.

Oh, God. Oh, God. She looks just like me.

Red, curly hair. Freckles. She’s wearing a tank top and pajama bottoms, lazy weekend clothes, and her hair is pulled back in a knot behind her head. She’s an inch or two taller than me, and her pale face is slightly wrinkled, but apart from that, she could be my older sister. My throat tightens.

This is her. This is the woman who called me Bethany. Who carried me for nine months. Who gave birth to me.

The woman who didn’t want me in her life. Who never checked up on me. Who never asked to meet me.

When I don’t say anything, she tilts her head, smiling politely. “Yes? Can I help you?”

I open my mouth. “Hi,” I manage, my voice squeaking.

She frowns. “Sorry, do I know you?”

“Yes.” I swallow. “I’m Bethany.”

“Bethany who?” She squints at me. “I don’t remember any Bethanies.”

“Bethany Sarah Ellis.” I say the words carefully, pronouncing every syllable.

The smile drops right off her face. Her cheeks go white. “What?” She whispers.

I give her a weak grin. “Hi, Sarah.”

For a few moments, we just stare at each other. Her brown eyes rove over me, drinking in my appearance. “Wh-what are you doing here?” She stutters.

I shrug. “Um. I was in the area. Just thought I’d check in.” I clear my throat. “Um. Can I come in?”

Her eyes widen. “What? No! Oh my God, no, you have to leave!”

Hurt pangs through my stomach. “What?”

“Is it a door salesman, honey?” A man’s voice calls from behind her. “Need some help getting rid of him?”

Sarah grips the doorframe, fear flooding her face. “It’s nothing, Carl,” she calls over her shoulder. “Just someone who needs directions.”

I gape at her. She steps out into the driveway and slams the door behind her. “You have to leave,” she repeats. “Now!”


Her pretty face pinkens with anger. “What made you think this was okay?” She hisses. “I have a family now! I have a husband, and kids, and a house—I’ve finally got my life sorted out! Do you want to come and ruin it again? What do you want from me?”


She pats down her pockets. “You want money? I’ll wire you as much as you need, if you just leave now—

Tears press against the back of my eyes. This isn’t what I expected at all. Back when I was a kid, the social workers at the home always told me your mum loves you so much. She just can’t take care of you, right now. And I believed them. I had to. That thought kept me going. I always assumed that my mum still wanted me. That if we met again, she’d still feel some connection to me. If I were in her shoes, I’m sure I’d love my kid until the day I died, even after I gave them up for adoption.

But she doesn’t care. She doesn’t even want to invite me in for a fucking cup of tea.

“I didn’t ruin your life,” I say quietly. Anger is simmering under my skin. Years of sadness and heartbreak are bubbling up inside me.

She laughs. The sound is slightly hysterical. “I had everything, before you came along. My boyfriend, my future, my career—I had to give that all up as a teenager, because of you. You don’t get to come back and fuck shit up again, when I’m finally happy, for God’s sake.” The squeals of young children float from the back garden, and she winces. “So please, just go—”

Something in me snaps. “Fuck you!” I shout. My voice echoes around the quiet, well-manicured drive, making her jump. “I didn’t ruin your life! It’s not my fault I was born. That was your decision. Yours! If you hated me that much, why didn’t you just get rid of me?”

“I did the best thing I could for you!” She snaps back. “I was a kid, I couldn’t give you a family. So I gave you up, so a new family could take you in! I did the right thing! Now, for the love of God, just—”

I stare at her. “Are you serious?” My voice is spiralling higher. “You didn’t follow my case at all? You just gave me away and washed your hands of me?!”

“What are you talking a—”

“I never got adopted,” I bite out. “I never had a family. And now I never will.”

She swallows, looking down at the drive. “Oh.”

I shake my head. Tears sting my eyes. “I didn’t come here for money. Or to tear apart your family. I came here, because I just got back from the doctor’s. He… he said I can’t have kids.”

Sarah’s lips part. “Oh.”

I take a deep breath. “They say it’s genetic.”

She nods jerkily. “I—yeah. It runs in the family. Oh, God.”

There’s another childlike yell from the garden. “I bet I can beat you!” A little girl shouts, her voice carrying on the wind. “Ready, steady, go!”

My throat squeezes. “You have kids?”

Shame colours her cheeks. “I knew it might happen, so mum told me to freeze my eggs.”

I nod slowly. My jaw is clenched tight. My hands are curled into fists. I take a deep breath through my nose. “You couldn’t send me an email?” I ask. “It didn’t cross your mind that maybe you should tell your biological daughter about your genetic condition?”

She won’t meet my gaze. “I’m sorry.”

“Why?” I ask, my voice breaking. “Why didn’t you tell me? Do you hate me that much? I get that you don’t want me anymore, but you’ve just taken away my ability to have kids, for God’s sake. You’ve taken away any chance of me ever having a family. Why?”

She looks me dead in the eye. Her face is very pale. “Because I forgot.”

I look down, tears rolling down my face. She forgot.

Through all of the doctor’s visits, and the hormone therapy, and freezing her eggs, she never once thought of me. Through IVF, and going through labour, and giving birth, and holding her newborn babies—her first pregnancy never once crossed her mind.

It seems impossible. How is that possible? Am I that insignificant? Do I matter that little?

Sarah starts to sob quietly, her slim shoulders shaking. I feel like I’m about to collapse into pieces.

Before I can think of what to say next, there’s a rattle at the front door. We both jump as it cracks open, and a very familiar voice echoes down the drive.

“Sarah, love, can you come and help set the table?”

A shiver rolls down my spine. Sarah wipes her eyes. “Mum,” she sobs. “She won’t go. She came back, and she won’t go.”

“What? Who won’t go? Are you crying?” My grandmother steps out onto the driveway, and my mouth goes dry.


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