Milllionaire Dad, Nanny Needed!

By: Susan Meier

CHAPTER ONE



THE Wedding Belles’ three-story townhouse in the heart of Boston was always a flurry of activity, but that Friday, the number of people and the noise level they created had hit new heights. Brides—accompanied by their attendants and clucking mothers—filled the offices and spilled into the hallways. The scent of chocolate cake wafted through the air. A rainbow of color flowed from gowns through flower arrangements and favors for the reception dinner tables. Sequins on white bride dresses and veils caught the morning sun pouring in through the windows and sent flashes of light through the foyer, into the corridors, up the stairs.

Audra Greene, accountant for Wedding Belles, worked her way through a gaggle of giggling bridesmaids, creating a rustle of satin and lace. She edged around the wedding party considering various shades of blue and the party trying on dresses in pinks and lavenders, smiling politely and saying, “Hello,” and “Excuse me,” on her way to her third-floor office.

Finally there, she closed the thick wooden door and leaned against it with a sigh.

The Belles’ copper-haired, pixie-featured general assistant, Julie Montgomery, laughed. “It’s a jungle out there.”

Removing her navy blue coat, Audra strode to her antique desk. “How many weddings are they working on?”

“Let’s see. The weddings for June of next year are in the initial planning stages. September brides are finalizing details.”

“And April brides are panicking?” Audra hung her coat in the closet before she slid onto her tall-backed brown suede chair in front of the billowing yellow silk drapes that gave the room the rich, elegant feel that she loved.

Julie tilted her head, considering that. “The Belles like to think of it as maximizing last-minute opportunities.” With a chuckle, she went back to inputting invoices into the computer to pay that month’s bills.

Audra’s chest tightened as she watched Julie. The assistant—and the Belles for that matter—had no reason to check into the most recent deposit in the business account and discover it was actually every cent of Audra’s savings. Or that the estimated income taxes they’d sent in wouldn’t cover this year’s bill. Paying the difference would drain the Wedding Belles’ coffers and they wouldn’t have enough money for the wedding they’d promised to Julie. But Audra knew.

Still, she didn’t immediately turn on her computer and begin writing the e-mail to the other Belles about their dire financial straits. She needed to tell them—this morning—before Julie’s wedding plans went any further. But she couldn’t do it in front of Julie.

“Julie, would you do me a favor?”

Always eager to please, Julie quickly glanced up. “Sure.”

“I should have grabbed a bottle of water from the kitchen, but I have something I have to do right now. It can’t wait—” Loath to ask the Belles’ assistant to run this kind of personal errand, Audra had no choice. She needed a few minutes of privacy, and when Julie entered invoices for payment she shared Audra’s office. “Could you get me a bottle of water?”

“Sure!”

Julie sprang from her seat. “I can’t believe you’d hesitate to ask me! I’m so indebted to you guys. I’d do anything for any of you.”

At the gratitude and affection she heard in Julie’s voice, Audra winced. “Please, you don’t need to say that.”

Julie smiled radiantly, her pretty blue eyes shining. “Are you nuts? That’s like saying I shouldn’t be grateful! There isn’t enough gratitude in the world to show you how much I appreciate what you’re doing for me.”

Disappointment tightened Audra’s chest, squeezing her heart. Julie was the kindest, most unselfish person Audra knew and life had treated her abysmally. The Belles weren’t paying for her wedding because they were wonderful. They had made the decision because Julie was wonderful. Sweet. And she deserved the kindness. Audra felt as if she, personally, were the one letting her down. After all, she was the one in charge of finances.

At the office door, Julie turned with a smile. “I’ll be back in a second.”

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