“Have you been a nanny before?” I ask her.
Sydney shakes her head. “This is my first job ever.”
I raise my brows. “Seriously?” She nods, doesn’t say a word. “How did you meet Fable?”
“Mutual friend. My brother knows her brother.”
That was a vague answer.
“Your brother knows Owen?” When she nods, I continue. “How exactly? Maybe I know your brother too.”
“I doubt it.” She smiles. “They met through Owen’s girlfriend, I think? She was participating in a summer program at the same college my brother goes to and they somehow crossed paths. I think at a party.”
“Wild.” I shake my head. “It can be a pretty freaking small world sometimes, I swear.”
“I know, right? I’ve never met Owen though, or his girlfriend.”
“They’re cool.” I pause. “You’d like them.”
There’s that shy smile again. “I’m sure.” She looks away, like she’s a little embarrassed and I smile to myself.
Only for the smile to quickly fade.
She’s hella cute, but completely off limits. I can’t go thinking I can mess around with the sexy nanny—Drew and Fable’s employee, when I should be focused on football and training and hoping like hell the coaches won’t cut me loose. I don’t want to go home a loser. I promised my mom I’d do this. I promised her I’d take care of her for the rest of her life. I want to live up to that promise too. Whatever it takes.
I can’t screw up.
“I don’t feel so good.”
I glance up to see Fable watching me, her gaze vacant, her face pale. She blinks at me, like she’s trying to bring me into focus but can’t quite do so. My heart immediately starts to race. “You don’t look so good either,” I tell her.
She gives me a wan smile just before she grimaces, touching her forehead with splayed fingers. “My head is spinning.”
We’d pretty much finished eating about fifteen minutes ago, but we’re lingering because the kids were having fun in the retro video game room with Drew, though usually that’s where the hipsters hang out. He was sitting at one of those racecar games with Jacob on his lap and Autumn running circles around him, screaming for him to go faster. Sydney had made her quick escape to the bathroom, leaving me alone with Fable.
Who’s suddenly not feeling well.
Don’t panic, dude.
“Are you all right?” I ask.
Fable shakes her head, then winces. “I don’t know. I feel really lightheaded. Maybe I should go to the bathroom and splash some water on my face.”
“Should I go get Drew?”
“No, I can walk to the bathroom like a big girl. I’ll be all right.” She mutters it again under her breath. “I’ll be all right,” but she doesn’t sound like herself. Her attempt at humor falls flat. She’s acting strange.
“Come on, Fable. Are you sure you don’t want me to help you?” I study her face. Man, she’s pale. Even her lips are white. It’s like all the color has been leeched from her face, and along with her pale blonde hair, she reminds me of a ghost.
“Yeah. No. I’ll be fine.” She tries to stand but practically falls back into her chair. I leap from mine and go around to stand behind her, resting my hands lightly on her shoulders. I don’t want her to get up again on her own. What if she falls? She could hurt herself. “I’m going to go get Drew.”
“No.” She glances at me from over her shoulder, resting her cold hand on top of mine. “He’ll just freak out and maybe scare the kids. Please, Wade, just—help me to the bathroom.” She tries to smile reassuringly, but it doesn’t work.
The scared expression on her face just freaks me out even more.
I help her get up from her chair, shocked when she stumbles a little and falls into me. She rights herself, shooting me a weak smile, and I clutch her arm as we weave through the crowded tables toward the bathroom, which is on the other side of the building.
“It’s so warm in here,” she murmurs as she presses against my side. “I don’t know why my head is spinning.”
I wrap my arm lightly around her waist, hoping no one notices. I don’t want people to think I’m trying to make a play on Drew’s wife. Talk about a scandal. “You’re going to be fine.” My voice is firm, though deep inside, I’m panicking. I forgot my freaking phone in Drew’s car and was too lazy to go out and grab it earlier. Otherwise I’d be dialing 9-1-1 right about now. Something’s not right with Fable. She’s acting weird and she looks terrible. “Have you ever felt like this before?”
“Um…” Her voice drifts and she makes a face, her brows lowered. “I don’t remember.”
Great. I wish I could find Drew. The game room is on the other side of the restaurant, near the front, and I can’t abandon Fable now. I need to get her to the bathroom. Maybe we’ll run into Sydney and she can help us out.
We make it back to the tiny hallway that leads to the bathrooms when I feel her lean too heavily into my side. All of her weight sags against me and I grab hold of her tightly but she slips out of my arms and onto the floor in a boneless heap.
“Fable!” I yell sharply but she doesn’t respond.
She’s sprawled on the floor, completely unconscious.
A door swings open and Sydney’s magically there, standing right at Fable’s feet. “Oh my God! Is she okay?” she asks, her voice filled with panic.
I fall to my knees and cradle Fable’s head in my lap, barely looking at Sydney. “Go get Drew. Now,” I snap as I touch Fable’s face, pressing firmly against her cheek. “Fable, wake up. Fable.” I keep repeating her name, but she doesn’t respond. I can tell she’s breathing, but I don’t know why she fainted like that. And it’s freaking me the hell out.
“O-okay.” Sydney takes off out of the hallway and I stare down at Fable’s face. She looks like she’s sleeping. Her eyes are shut, her lips parted, her face still eerily pale. I smack her cheek lightly, not wanting to hurt her, but desperate to get her to wake up.
Hell. This isn’t good. What if something’s wrong with her? What if she’s having some sort of medical emergency? I should’ve had Sydney call 9-1-1 first. What the hell was I thinking? Now I’m alone in this hall in a crowded restaurant with no goddamn phone and an unconscious woman lying in my lap. The same woman who watched out for me when we were kids and I was always up to no good. Yet she never held that against me. Ever.