Today I’m trying something new. I’ve had a hard time getting past a certain point in my work in progress, Out of the Depths, a contemporary novel with romantic elements. So I’m taking advantage of this week’s prompt at Red Writing Hood to get my creative juices flowing again. The prompt involves finding a forgotten card or letter . . .
Paul was up early Sunday morning, and spent a contented couple of hours drinking coffee and reading the paper in between trips his children’s bedroom doorways to stand and watch them sleep. The low-level anxiety he’d felt all week was gone, replaced by a contentment he could only attribute to knowing the people he loved most in the world were back where they belonged. The luggage was still piled by the front door, so eventually Paul started unpacking their dirty vacation clothes and loading them into the washing machine. He automatically checked every pocket, a lesson learned after an mp3 player, an electronic game, and several important homework assignments and permission slips had met a watery death. There were several articles of clothing he didn’t recognize, not unexpected since the kids had been vacationing in the company of a woman who had elevated shopping to an art form, so the thin coral cardigan didn’t catch his attention until he discovered the note in the pocket. It was on thick cream cardstock, and the embossed monogram on the front of the card wasn’t one he recognized.
“Dear Ms. Humphries,” it read, “I want to formally express my gratitude for the opportunity to prove myself the best candidate for the nanny position. I realize you had many qualified candidates, but I believe you will find that I am ideally suited to meet your needs as well as those of your children. I am looking forward to meeting Olivia and Will and being a part of your family vacation in Miami. I am researching the most educational and entertaining activities in which to involve them during our time together, and will forward details via email for your approval. Thank you again for selecting me as your children’s nanny. Sincerely, Alanna St. Clair”
Paul, eyes wide and face pale, brought the sweater to his face, and immediately recognized his ex-wife’s favorite perfume. The sweater dropped to the floor as Paul gripped the note card and read it again, as if he might reach a different conclusion after reading it a second time. But he knew he wouldn’t. All the clues, just small oddities taken one at a time, now added up to a terrifying whole. The young woman at the airport who’d seemed too familiar with his children to be a colleague of Monica’s. The Spring Break trip to Miami with very little notice. And most importantly, Monica’s sudden and intense desire to prove her parenting skills to one of the most influential and family-oriented partners at her architecture firm. Beads of sweat broke out on Paul’s forehead, and his lips thinned as he tried to calm his emotions. He was angry at Monica for her deceitful behavior, but what he felt most strongly was fear – fear that what was most precious to him might be taken away.