Daddy, Daddy, and Me(6)

By: Sean Michael


Kimberley gurgled from the car seat on the floor in the corner as if agreeing.

“Let me call your references, and the job is yours.” He needed help, and Donny was here and needed a job.

“Go ahead and call them now—I’ve got supper under control.” Donny’s cheeks went slightly red. “Not that I’m trying to tell you what to do, but I’d really like this job, and you seem like you need me to have it too.”

“Did you find everything you needed?” Jeff knew his kitchen was better than well-stocked.

“Oh, yeah, it’s all very organized and well put together.” Donny nodded to a backpack on one of the chairs in the breakfast nook. “My reference sheet is in the backpack, front pouch.”

“Thanks.” He gave Robin a kiss on the way by and chuckled at Kimberley, who was kicking and cooing.

It didn’t take long to find the references, and he stepped into the den and called his sister, Jillian, first. “Jellybean? I think I found a nanny.”

“Truly? Oh, Jeff, thank God. I was beginning to think you weren’t going to. Tell me all about her.”

“His name’s Donny. He’s got a degree in early childhood. He has references.”

“His name? You’ve picked a boy to be your nanny?” She sounded skeptical.

“Yeah. Yeah, I have, unless you want the job.”

“God no. You know me and children don’t mix unless in very small doses.” He could picture her exaggerated shudder. She’d been a trooper the first ten days he’d had the kids, but she’d all but run out of there the second he’d said he thought he could handle things on his own. “So he’s got a degree, huh? And good references?”

He shuffled the papers. “Two professors, a day care center director, and Mickey over at Out-Reach.”

Jeff knew Mickey—the man had asked his boss to do fundraisers for them, and in the few years since then, Mickey and Jeff had become good friends.

“Those sound like good references. I hope he works out, Jeff. I know how badly you want to keep the kids.”

He rolled his eyes. They’d had this discussion. Beth’s parents and he had had the discussion. His lawyer. His cousin Matt. Everyone in the world who knew him had an opinion. Hell, people he didn’t know probably had an opinion. It didn’t matter; he was these children’s father—like it or not—and more than anything, Beth had wanted him to raise them if she couldn’t.

So no matter what, he would.

Beth had been his best friend since kindergarten, for Christ’s sake.

“Yeah. I just wanted to check in.”

“Good luck, Jeffster. You know I’m pulling for you.”

“I do. Love you, Jellybean.”

“Love you too, Jeffster.” The phone went dead as his sister hung up.

He called the first two references and got glowing results, the third he left a message for, then he called Mickey. “Mickey? Jeff Roberts. How goes it?”

“Hey, Chef Jeff. How’s it hanging, man? I haven’t talked to you since… what? End of January?”

“Yeah. Yeah.” They’d had a little debrief over how the Christmas fundraisers had gone. “How’s it going?”

“Great. I was just thinking about you. You and Mitch should come over for dinner, man. Lew loves to try and impress you.”

He winced. “Uh. Mitch and I…. It. Well….”

“What? You two had been together forever! It’s been, what?”

“Seven years.” He’d thought they really were going to be together forever too.

“Jesus!”

Donny’s head popped around the corner. “Supper’s gonna be about five more minutes, man.”

“Thank you.” He nodded and sighed. “Look, I’m calling about Donny Gleason.”

“Donny Gleason? He’s a good kid. What about him?” It had to be a good sign that Mickey knew him by name.

“I’m interviewing him for a nanny position.”

“A nanny po—what the…? Oh my fucking God. It was your Beth. I told Lew I thought so, but he said no way.” Mickey sighed. “Oh God, Jeff. I’m so sorry, man. She was a good woman.”