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Nanny for the Neighbors: Chapter 61


I haven’t seen Nonna since I was four years old, but I still remember her face. Hell, how could I forget? For a few years, she was essentially my mother. When I was in the care home, I wished on every birthday candle I blew out that she’d come to pick me up and take me back home.

“Hey, Nonna.” I say bitterly. Her face screws up as if she’s swallowed a lemon wedge.

“Bethany.” She glances down at her daughter and sighs. “Come to ask for a cheque, I suppose. What is it? Tuition fees? Low on your rent?”

I sputter. “I don’t want your fucking money!

“I’m sure.” There’s another squeal from the garden, and the sound of a man’s laughter.

Sarah grabs Nonna’s arm. “He can’t see her,” she hisses.

Nonna nods and steps forward. “You need to leave,” she tells me sternly. “Hattie and Henri are out in the garden. I won’t have you upsetting my grandchildren.”

I stare at her. “Upsetting your grandchildren?” I repeat, incredulously. “Are you kidding me? I’m your grandchild! Your firstborn fucking granddaughter!”

Her face pinches with fury. “You need to leave.”

“That’s it? You don’t want to ask how I am? What I’m doing with my life? Whether I’m dating, or married, or I have kids? You don’t give a fuck?”

“Do not talk to me like that.”

I shake my head, tears popping into my eyes. In the garden, I hear the creak of trampoline springs, and two little faces bounce up from behind a hedge. I see two shocks of bright red hair.

Hattie and Henri. I have siblings. God, I would kill to get to know those kids. But apparently, I’m deemed too shameful to even be seen by them. “I don’t understand why,” I whisper. “Why are they good enough for you, and I’m not?”

Nonna takes a deep breath through her nose. “Perhaps,” she says icily, “you should consider why we couldn’t keep you. Because I can assure you, we damn well tried to love you.” Her eyes glint nastily. “You were an insufferable child.”

I stagger back a step. I feel like I’ve been kicked in the chest.

“And now you’ve come here,” she continues, “swearing, and shouting, disrupting our family with your own selfishness. You clearly haven’t grown up at all.”

“Stop,” I whisper. “Please, just—”

The front door opens again. “What’s going on out here?” A male voice calls. Sarah and Nonna both freeze as an attractive blonde guy steps out of the house. His eyes widen when he sees my tear-stained cheeks. “Wow, hey, are you okay?” He glances across at Sarah, who’s still quietly crying. “Babe!” He wraps an arm around her, dismayed. “Hey, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?” He looks between us all. “What’s going on?”

Nonna sniffs. “Nothing is going on,” she says crisply. “Bethany here was just leaving.”

“Bethany…” He squints at me. “Damn, babe, she looks just like you when we first met. Woah. Are you guys cousins, or something?”

My mouth falls open. “She didn’t tell you about me?”

He looks confused. “Tell me what, love?” Sarah’s sobs get louder, and he strokes her hair back. “Hey, it’s okay.”

A wrinkled hand closes around my arm like a vice. “You’re leaving,” Nonna spits, dragging me back across the drive. “Now.”


“I don’t know what you were shooting for when you came here,” she growls. She must be over seventy now, but her grip is iron-clad as she tugs me along.

“I don’t want anything!” I protest. “I just needed—” My shoes slip on the pebbly drive, and I stumble. She yanks me upright, shoving me towards my cheap, second-hand car. I slam into the door, my palms stinging from the force. I’m shaking all over. I can’t believe this is happening. I can hear raised voices coming from further up in the drive.

“Why didn’t she tell him about me?” I demand. “He’s her husband. Am I really that much of an embarrassment, she can’t even admit to her husband that I exist?!”

Nonna huffs. “Carl is soft. If he knew his kids had a half-sister, he would’ve tried to contact you.”

“And that would be so bad, would it?! It would be so awful for me to have one person who actually wants me around?! It would be so awful for me to get to know my own bloody siblings?”

“They’re not your siblings!”

“They’re more related to me than they are to you!”

Her jaw tightens. “Look.” She squares up to me, looking me straight in the eye. “My daughter made a mistake having you. She was fifteen. Do you really think she should be punished for the rest of her life for a stupid teenage mistake?”

“I’m not a punishment,” I choke. “I’m a person.

She shakes her head. “Look at this place! She’s finally moving forward in life. She’s working on her degree. She has a good job. She found a well-off husband who worships the ground she walks on. She has two beautiful, intelligent, well-behaved children. She wouldn’t have been able to have any of this, if she’d kept you. And she deserves a good life, Bethany. She deserves all of this.” Her nostrils flare. “I won’t have you ruining it for her. If I see you around here again, I will call the police.”

I yank my arm away. Heat is flushing my face. I can’t stop the tears rolling down my cheeks. “Don’t worry about that,” I snap, pulling open the car door. “You won’t ever see me again.”

I slide into the car seat and slam the door shut, starting the engine. Dimly, over the sound of my car sputtering to life, I hear someone call out my name. I look up to see Carl jogging towards me, shock all over his face. Sarah stops him, holding him back as I pull out into the road. Fury lashes through me. I wind down the window and tug my bracelet off my wrist for the first time in years. It gleams bright gold between my fingers.

I’ve worn this bracelet my whole life. On my first day of school. When I started new jobs. When I went on first dates. Whenever I got broken up with, or rejected, or hurt, I was wearing this bracelet. Every time I needed my mum, I looked at it, and it gave me the strength I needed.

And it means absolutely fuck all. It’s just a piece of jewellery she probably bought at the hospital gift shop.

You are my sunshine. What a load of fucking horse crap.

I toss it out of the window, and it lands at Sarah’s feet. She starts crying harder, sobbing into her hands. Carl shouts something after me, but I slam my foot on the gas and speed away, driving until my mother’s house is completely out of sight.

For a long time, I drive in silence, not stopping to turn on the radio or the GPS. Rain starts to splash over the windshield and cold fills the car. I barely notice. Nonna’s voice swirls around my head, over and over, on a loop.

You’re upsetting my grandchildren. They’re not your siblings. You were an insufferable child. We damn well tried to love you.

My hands shake on the steering wheel. I just don’t understand. I don’t understand why I’ve never been important enough for people to care about. I don’t understand why I’m so difficult to love.

As if in answer, my phone buzzes in my pocket. My stomach flips.

I pull up at the side of the road and pick it up numbly, praying that it’s one of the boys. My heart lurches when I see Cyrus’s name. Thank God. I swipe to open the message, my fingers fumbling.

C: Heads up, babe, looks like we’re staying another few days. Wednesday at least. Jack has some more asses to kiss. We’ll call later xx

I feel like I’ve swallowed a lump of ice. I called them crying in a voice message, and they responded telling me that they’re extending their trip.

I squeeze my eyes shut, taking a few deep breaths, then tap out a reply.

B: Okay, great! Proud of you x

I send the text off with shaky hands, then slip the phone back into my pocket, reversing into the road again. The rain gets heavier as I make my way back to London. I only stop once on the way, to pick up my new prescription and two bottles of wine.

When I finally make it back to my flat, I’m exhausted. My whole body is aching. I lean heavily against the door and toss my keys onto the counter. They skitter across the surface, sliding to a stop next to the three empty pregnancy test packages I dumped there last night.

I stare at them. Just twenty-four hours ago, I was pacing up and down my flat, scared and nervous and excited. And now I have nothing. Nothing.

I put down my shopping bag and crack open the first bottle of wine.


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