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*Note to readers: This story deals with the fetish of smoking. If you don’t find that appealing, please find another story you’ll enjoy more.


“Where’s Mandy, Daddy?”

“I wanted to tuck you in tonight myself, honey. Is that okay?”

“Of course it is! You’re my daddy.”

Mandy loved watching him with his daughter. He was so caring, and that was one of the reasons she was falling in love with him. She stood just outside the door and listened to him read The Cat in the Hat followed by Green Eggs and Ham. Most of the time, she read Dr. Seuss books to Breanna because her father was at work where he was a leading cardio-thoracic surgeon at Seattle General Hospital.

As she stood there silently observing, she reflected back on the past year she’d worked as the nanny for Dr. Ethan Davis’s five-year old daughter. His wife, Abigail, was killed in a kidnapping/ransom scheme gone very wrong. It was a public case and Mandy remembered thinking how sorry she was for this man and his daughter and also how dashingly handsome he was. The only good thing to come of it was that Breanna had been treated humanely throughout the ordeal and thought she was playing a game with some funny men in black masks. Only later did she learn they were ‘bad men’ who hurt her mommy and it was left at that.

Mandy Allen was one of a dozen women he’d personally interviewed for the job and one of only two he’d asked back for a follow-on meeting. She was shocked when he called her the next day and asked her if she could start immediately. Most of the other women had varying levels of experience and hefty resumes with multiple references from other doctors, lawyers, and upper-level professionals for whom they’d been nannies. She still wasn’t sure why he’d chosen her, but she was absolutely thrilled with his decision.

Mandy was a very pretty girl who had graduated at the top of her high school class. She would have gone straight to college but her mother, with whom she still lived, was unable to work. Her mom received a monthly benefit from the State of Washington, but it was barely enough to cover their rent. Mandy worked two jobs jobs since graduating from high school and managed to earn enough to keep them afloat and save a portion of the amount needed to put herself through a nanny certification course. Her grandmother had chipped in and paid the rest. Her nanna was an odd, aloof woman who took little interest in her daughter or her granddaughter, but for some reason, she’d agreed to pay the bulk of the cost of her training. To be honest, she could never have taken that much time off work without her help, and she was grateful for it.

As to why he chose her for the job, the only hint Dr. Davis had given her was that he liked the way she answered a question he’d posed to her. He’d asked, “If Breanna said she didn’t think you loved her, how far would you be willing to go to prove you did?”

Without hesitation she replied, “To the end of the earth. When I love someone, I am willing to do anything to prove it.” Dr. Davis knew Mandy had worked over 90 hours a week to care for her ailing mother which was strong evidence she meant what she said.

When she heard him finally tucking Breanna in, she tiptoed back downstairs and started on the next day’s meals and other preparations. A few minutes later he came looking for her and found her in the kitchen. “Oh, there you are, Mandy! Why don’t you take a break and have a glass of wine with me? After all, I’ll be at the hospital the next two days and as I recall tomorrow is your 21st birthday. So how about we celebrate?”

“You remembered! I’m very flattered,” she said. “Let me just put this stuff away and I’ll bring us some glasses.”

“Oh, no. Not tonight. I’ve already selected a fantastic cabernet and all you need to do is come join me in the study.”

He’d already poured the wine when she arrived. This was the one and only room in the house that was off-limits to her unless she was invited in, and this was only the second time she’d been in his study since she started working for him.

As she approached the room, she noticed he was standing near the back wall looking at some of the many pictures of his late wife. Mandy moved a little closer but stayed just outside as she said, “She’s very beautiful.”

“What’s that?” he asked as he turned around to face her.

“Your wife. She’s so beautiful.”

Dr. Davis looked at her and said, “Yes, she was beautiful—both inside and out. She was the love of my life.”

“Come in, Mandy,” he said as he handed her a glass. “This is some magnificent stuff,” he told her as he swirled the glass and watched the wine’s fingers grip the sides of the glass.

She thanked him, took a small sip then said, “I can’t imagine how awful it was losing her like that.”

“It was terrible,” he told her. “And the worst part is, Breanna will never know what a wonderful person her mother was. She does kind of remember the woman she called mommy, but those memories are already fading. Still, no matter how great the loss I feel, I make it a point never to pity myself kaçak iddaa because I’m the one who’s still alive. I’d have given anything to trade places with her, but unfortunately, that wasn’t an option.” He took a drink then said wistfully, “I find it hard to imagine I could ever find another woman like her.”

Deep in her heart, in a place only she could go, she felt the desire to tell him she could be that woman. Yes, she was 15 years younger than him and no, she wasn’t a doctor or a well-educated professional of any kind, but if only he could know the lengths she was willing to go to to make him happy—then just maybe…

“There are many beautiful women out there, Dr. Davis. And, if I may say…you’re a very handsome man with a great career, a beautiful home, the most wonderful daughter, and you’re a fantastic father. I’m sure any one of them would love to have the chance to get to know you.”

“That’s very kind of you to say, Mandy, but it isn’t that simple. At least not for me. Abigail wasn’t just beautiful. She was that for sure, but she was so much more. She was…everything to me. Everything I wanted, everything I dreamed of, and everything I’d ever hoped for. That’s a very big pair of shoes…or heels, as it were…for anyone to fill. So…I’ve thrown myself into my work and into making sure Breanna is well cared for. She and my work are my life now. I was very fortunate to have a woman like Abigail. Finding another seems like too tall an order to ever expect to fill.”

“Normally, I wouldn’t offer my opinion, but since this is my birthday celebration, perhaps you’ll allow me to do so this one time?” she asked with some trepidation.

“Of course. And Mandy, your opinion is always welcome. You’re a part of this family now. You’ve been with us for over a year, and Breanna loves you very much.”

Mandy didn’t let the sting of not hearing him say her name as someone he loved pass. She simply said, “I have been here a year and that’s just a bit less than how long your wife has been gone. Do you ever even think about…you know…dating again?”

“Dating,” he said repeating the word as though it was a disease. “Just the sound of that word can turn the icy-cold resolve of a cardiac surgeon to jelly. I’m 36 years old and have a five-year old daughter and a very demanding job.” He became very pensive as he turned to look at his late wife’s pictures again. “And honestly? My taste in women is probably too narrow to allow me to find another woman like Abigail. I’m sure there are a few like her in the world, but I’d likey never be able to find them. Mind you, were this perfect woman to somehow just fall into my lap, I wouldn’t dismiss the prospect of…dating again. I might even consider remarrying. But I’m a doctor and a man of science. The odds of that happening border on the miraculous and I don’t believe in miracles.” He gently turned and touched one of the pictures then said, “Were miracles real, Abigail would still be here and Breanna would still have her mother.”

He turned back around and said, “I’m so sorry, Mandy. This is supposed to be a celebration and my melancholy is turning it into something macabre. Please forgive me.”

Mandy didn’t actually want him to find another woman. She only wanted to know whether or not he was even open to the idea of dating again and if so, what kind of girl he might be looking for. If he was interested in a fellow doctor or registered nurse or perhaps a lawyer, then she knew she couldn’t compete. But were he looking for a woman willing to give anything and everything she had to offer, then who knew?

Several weeks later Mandy was more than a little surprised when Dr. Davis asked her to set an extra plate for dinner the next evening. She not only cared for Breanna but she also did most of the cooking and cleaning. He didn’t entertain very often, and when he did, it was usually for a fair number of people from the hospital so this was a bit unusual to say the least. Perhaps it was the head of his department or maybe a family member she hadn’t yet met.

After setting everything in its place the next evening, Mandy went back to the kitchen to finish dinner when she heard Dr. Davis and a voice she didn’t recognize. As the sound grew nearer, she could tell the other person was female. Mandy didn’t think too much of it until Dr. Davis brought her into the kitchen to introduce her.

“Mandy? I want to thank you,” he said. She had a puzzled look on her face when he said that so he clarified things for her. “I took your advice, he said. He nodded toward the woman standing next to him and proudly announced, “Thanks to you, I’m actually on a date! Mandy, this is Connie Harding. Connie, this is my nanny, Mandy Allen.”

“Hi,” Connie said extending her hand. “Ethan’s said so many wonderful things about you. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Mandy forced herself to smile as she shook hands with the woman. Mandy was crestfallen when she saw her. She was beautiful. She looked to be about 25 or so and she had an amazing body. She had shoulder-length brunette hair that was soft and silky, beautiful blue eyes, and soft, kaçak bahis full lips. She was definitely showing off her figure in a very pretty light blue sweater that hugged her ample breasts in just the right way while it accentuated her tight waist. Her long legs were showcased in a short black skirt and a pair of what looked to be 3″ black heels. In a word, she was gorgeous. In a word, Mandy was…jealous. No, she was…angry. No, the better word was…hurt. How could he not know how she felt? Mandy knew she was as attractive as this…interloper. So why had he never noticed her? Why didn’t he see her that way?

She was too busy to think it through and thinking just hurt, so she politely told Connie how pleased she was to meet her and busied herself with getting dinner on the table. She did have one thought though, that kept running through her mind. In the nearly 13 months she’d worked for Ethan Davis, the only times he’d ever complimented her on the way she looked were the two or three times she’d dressed similarly to the way Connie was dressed. He allowed Mandy to wear whatever she liked and she’d tried everything from tight jeans to sun dresses to catch his attention. She’d worn her hair up, down, straight, and styled. She’d tried no makeup, light makeup, and too much makeup. But the only time he’d said anything was…

“Ethan?” she heard Connie say. “Where did you say I could go to smoke?”

“Oh, let me show you,” he said. “There’s a very large patio area outside.” His voice trailed off but Mandy was sure he heard him tell Connie, “That’s where Abigail always went whenever she wanted a…” The end of the sentence was cut off as the sliding glass door to the patio shut behind him.

Mandy was dumbfounded. She froze in place and just stood there. Smoking? A cardiac surgeon dating a woman who smoked? That made no sense to her at all.

A moment later, she was in the study—without Ethan’s permission—and looking at the pictures on the back wall. He had about 20 of them mounted there, and she was sure she’d seen it in this room. She began looking from top to bottom, left to right. Yes! There it was. Near the bottom right was a beautiful black and white photograph of Abigail at a dinner party. She was wearing a beautiful white cashmere sweater and the photographer captured her as her cheeks were collapsing during a deep drag on the cigarette she was smoking. She’d noticed it before but never took the time to see who it was. Having just glanced at it, she assumed it was someone else. Then she took another look at all of the other pictures. In all but two, Abigail was wearing a very dressy, very classy-looking sweater or knit top of some kind. In most, she was wearing a short skirt and heels, but she also wore jeans or capri pants in a couple of them.

Mandy once again went back to her previous thought about those rare times when Ethan had noticed the way she was dressed. It had to be more than coincidence that it had only happened when she was wearing something like Abigail was wearing in those photos and the way Connie was dressed tonight.

Mandy decided she would test her theory over the next few days. Well, if she could talk Dr. Davis into an advance on her salary, that is. He paid her well, but even so, she was only able to cover all of her’s and her mother’s expenses leaving precious little money to spend on herself. But if this was the way to get him to take notice…

Mandy heard the door open and quickly stepped out of the study and back into the kitchen. “I was just going to get Breanna for dinner,” she said as she passed by them. The stench of smoke on Connie was as strong as it was puzzling.

When she brought Breanna downstairs, her father introduced her to Connie. “Sweetheart? This is daddy’s new friend, Connie. Can you please say hello to her?”

“Hello, Connie. Nice to meet you,” she said sweetly.

“It’s nice to meet you too, Miss Breanna! You sure are a pretty girl,” she told her. “Can I please have a hug?”

Breanna looked at her father who told her it was fine. “Okay!” she said. She put her small arms around the woman and hugged her tight. When she let go, she said with the innocence of child, “You smell just like my mommy.”

Connie turned to Ethan who smiled and mouthed the word ‘smoking.’

“Oh, I see. Well, I think I’m going to take that as a compliment then.” She turned to Ethan and said, “I’ve tried quitting several times without success, but I am swear I’m going to do just that—and soon. In fact, you might be able to hook me up with the right doctor to help me, Ethan!”

Mandy was putting food on the table as this took place, but she did not miss the way Ethan’s countenance changed when Connie told him she planned to quit smoking. He’d been smiling, happy, and in the best mood she could remember. But as soon as she said that, his smile faded and was replaced with a look Mandy hadn’t seen before. It might have been disappointment, but it also seemed to resemble disgust. That was another piece of the puzzle that made no sense whatsoever to her.

After dinner, Mandy told Breanna she’d need to get illegal bahis ready for bed soon and the little girl turned to Connie and asked, “Will you read me my bedtime stories tonight?”

Connie was clearly caught off guard. “Um, well, I guess I could do that. I’m not really into books sweetheart, but I suppose I could give it a try.”

Mandy was stunned. What adult didn’t intuitively know the importance of reading to a child every night? It was not only a lot of fun, it was crucial in helping the child learn, imagine, and dream and it had the added benefit of expanding the child’s vocabulary. The one positive Mandy took away from this date was that Ethan was at least willing to date women who clearly weren’t PhD candidates. Connie wasn’t a bimbo, but it was obvious she wasn’t very well educated.

“That’s okay,” Mandy said jumping in to rescue her. “I’m happy to take care of that. Why don’t you two just relax and talk while I get her bath and tuck her in.”

Ethan replied by looking at his watch. “Oh, my. I had no idea it was already this late. Connie, I have a very early day tomorrow. Please forgive me, but I’m going to have to call it an evening.”

It was only 8:30 in the evening and Connie could tell she was being politely asked to leave. “Well, if you need to get to bed by 9, who am I to interfere, right?” she said with a slight amount of irritation in her voice. “Thank you for dinner, Ethan. Mandy, it was nice to meet you. Good-night to you too, Brandy,” she said as she picked up her coat and purse.

“I’m Breanna,” she said without being mean.

Connie looked at her but didn’t reply. She took her things and showed herself out.

Once she was gone, Mandy said, “Maybe you shouldn’t have taken my advice.”

Ethan laughed and told her, “No. Your advice was sound. It was my implementation that was inadequate.”

Mandy also laughed and Breanna asked, “What is implatshunn?” making both of them laugh.

“The word is implementation, sweetheart, and Mandy will explain it to you when she tucks you in, okay?”

Before she left for the night, she told Dr. Davis she’d like to ask him something.

“Anything, Mandy. Just ask.”

“I was wondering if I might be able to get a small advance.”

“Certainly.” He asked her to follow him to the study where he got out his checkbook. “Is everything all right with your mom?” he asked.

“Oh, sure. She’s as well as can be expected. It’s just that I wanted to buy some new clothes and well, things are so expensive and…”

“Say no more. How much would you like?”

“Maybe two hundred?” she said sheepishly.

“You do so many extra things around here that I dearly appreciate. Let’s make it five hundred and call it a bonus rather than an advance, shall we?”

“Dr. Davis. I can’t do that. I don’t need that much,” she told him honestly.

“Nonsense,” he said as he wrote in the amount and signed it.

“Anything special?” he asked.

“I’m sorry?” she said as she didn’t understand his question.

“The new clothes. Any special reason for them? Maybe a date of your own?” he teased.

“Oh, no. I mean, I wish that were true. There is this guy I like—a lot,” she said without making eye contact. “He’s really great and I’ve been trying to get his attention for over a year, but I haven’t had much luck so I just thought…”

“Lucky guy,” he said with a smile. “You’re the kind of girl any guy would be proud to be with, Mandy. If he’s not smart enough to notice you then that’s his loss. You’re too pretty to spend too much time on a guy who can’t see how special you are. As you told me, there a lot of people out there who’d like to get to know someone like you.”

Mandy’s heart was racing as she thanked him for the money and more importantly for what he’d said. She couldn’t stop smiling the entire way home. She was already looking for a way to find time to cash the check tomorrow and pick up two or three new skirts and sweaters she thought he might like. That’s when she realized she’d need new heels, too, and was grateful for the extra money.

If her hunch was correct and if he really was smart enough to notice, this could be a turning point for her. Once again she asked her herself the same questions. How could he not notice? How could he not see that everything she did was to impress him? How could he not know she was in love with him? “Ughhh! Men!” she said out loud to herself.

Mandy took Breanna to kindergarten the next day just as she did every weekday morning at 8am. On her way home, she deposited the check and took a quick look at her balance. For once, she wasn’t living on financial fumes. One of her favorite stores opened early at 9 o’clock and she headed straight there so she get could back and take care of the laundry and unload the dishwasher.

It was Fall in Seattle and the weather was already cold again. Summer was really only two months long unless June turned out to be warmer than normal. In any case, three months of warmer weather was the limit for the Pacific Northwest. The rest of the year was somewhere between chilly and downright cold. Snow came maybe twice a year so while freezing temps were rare, daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s were the norm. Therefore, most girls and women wore sweaters eight or nine months a year.

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