A Mail-Order Dream

By: Janelle Daniels



As he watched his children whisper to each other on the sofa, he could only pray their new nanny would be able to survive them. They were running out of options for caretakers, and he had no desire to continue advertising and interviewing more women. The expense wasn’t worth it, especially when they would most likely end up quitting soon after spending time with his two hellions anyway, and the interruption of his time giving interviews frustrated him.

“Thomas, Phoebe, come here please,” he said, and watched as they raced to get to him first.

“Yes, Father?” they asked in unison.

He looked at their faces, both trying to look as innocent as newborn babes. He just happened to know better. “Miss McKinnon will be arriving soon, but I’m not going to be here. I need you two to be on your best behavior. We can’t afford to have another nanny quit.”

“Yes, Father,” they agreed, echoing one another.

He looked at both of them, far from satisfied. “I mean it. If you run off this nanny, there will be consequences; perhaps you’ll have to be sent to boarding school in the east.” He let the threat linger in the air, and while Phoebe’s eyes widened in concern, Thomas’ held an edge Cam didn’t like.

“We will be extra kind to her,” Phoebe agreed with a firm nod.

“Thomas?”

“Yes.” The boy looked sideways at Phoebe. “We will even treat her like family.”

Cam wasn’t sure what to make of Thomas’ statement, but his gut told him not to trust his son at his word. He could only hope and pray Aria would last the day.

Heaven help him.



Aria had debated about what to wear, but had finally settled on a blouse and skirt that were dark enough to hide stains, but was also easy to move about in.

When she knocked on the Grant’s two-story home, sighing over the large wrap-around porch teeming with overflowing pots of flowers, she felt ready to take charge of her future. And that started now, with the Grant children.

Mrs. Farnsworth opened the door with a smile. “Miss McKinnon! Mr. Grant isn’t home, but he’ll be pleased when he hears you were on time.”

“I take it he’s a stickler for punctuality.” Aria grinned as she stepped into the house.

The older woman chuckled. “That’s putting it lightly. The man lives and dies by his pocket watch.”

“I would’ve never guessed.” It took everything in Aria not to snort at the statement. If there was one thing she’d surmised about Mr. Grant, it was that he was a man who allowed himself little flexibility. She imagined he left for work at the same time each day, ate the same well-balanced meal for lunch, and promptly left the bank at closing. She was sure he never did anything spontaneous or surprising.

Except he thought you were beautiful, she reminded herself. That was certainly out of sync with her vision of him, even if he thought he was merely stating a fact and being practical about it.

Aria followed the housekeeper through the house and made mental notes of where each room was located.

“The children are here in the nursery,” Mrs. Farnsworth finally said, as they stopped in front of a closed door on the second floor. “I’ve left a strict schedule that Mr. Grant insists his children follow to the letter.”

“All right. Children do need structure,” Aria said, but Mrs. Farnsworth’s eyes wavered as if she wanted to disagree.

“If there’s anything you need, you may come and ask me. Hopefully you’ll settle in quickly.” The housekeeper wiped her hands on her apron. “Well, I’ll let you introduce yourself to the children. I’m sure they’re already aware that you’ve arrived, unless you’d rather I stay?”

“I’ll be just fine. I’m sure you have plenty of other things to do. Thank you for showing me the way.”

The woman’s eyes appeared to be worried and nervous, but she simply nodded and hurried off, leaving Aria facing the closed door. She took a deep breath, then released it slowly. You can do this.

She listened for a moment, but couldn’t hear any sounds inside and wondered if they had fallen asleep. In her experience, children were only quiet when they were sleeping. Other than that, they were busy exploring and making a mess. She grinned and thought, Just as they are meant to.

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