Afraid if I try to talk, I’ll end up crying instead.
He lets go of me just as the paparazzi reappears, their flashbulbs blinding as they go off again and again. I stumble once more, my back hitting the SUV and Drew grabs hold of me, scooping me up into his arms and clutching me close to his chest. The reporters become extremely loud and I know it’s because of the way Drew’s holding me.
In his arms. Like I’m the one who just fainted, not his wife. Which of course, the reporters don’t know about any of that. They can’t.
This isn’t going the way we planned.
Drew throws open the door and practically shoves me into the SUV, slamming the door extra hard. He doesn’t say a word as he climbs into the driver’s seat and heads for the back of the restaurant. He throws the car in park and gets out, disappearing through a door that I assume leads into the restaurant. Within minutes he’s back outside, Fable in his arms and looking pale, but otherwise all right.
The photographers are—of course—nowhere to be found.
“Are you okay?” I ask her once she’s settled in the passenger side seat.
Fable nods, her expression still dazed. “I fainted.”
“We’re going to the hospital,” Drew says firmly as he slides behind the steering wheel and throws the car into drive.
“Where’s Wade?” I ask just as the door is thrown open and he climbs inside, sitting next to me.
“I’m right here,” he says with a charming smile, one I can’t help but return.
“Yay, Wade, you made it! If I can hold my pee pee for a few minutes, Daddy is going to give me another lollipop!” Autumn yells, her voice scratchy.
Drew laughs. So does Fable. Wade chuckles too.
But I don’t laugh. Nope. Instead, I burst into tears.
Ah man, she’s crying. I don’t do well with women and tears. My mom wasn’t much of a crier, she was too tough for that most of the time. But when she did actually cry? I always ended up terrified, unsure of how to comfort her. Tears make me uncomfortable.
Sydney’s quiet tears are shredding me.
“Hey. Don’t cry,” I say quietly as I scoot closer to her and slip my arm around her shoulders, trying to offer comfort. Her entire body is stiff and she quickly wipes at her cheeks, then brushes her hair away from her face before she turns those big blue eyes on me. They’re shining with unshed tears and her cheeks are splotchy, but otherwise, she looks fine.
“I’m okay,” she murmurs. “I don’t want to scare the kids. And they have enough to deal with.” She waves a hand toward the front of the car.
I tilt my head to the right, studying Drew’s profile. His jaw is tight and his mouth is grim but otherwise, he appears to have everything under control. He’s not driving like a maniac, but he is going fast, which I can’t blame him for that. I’d want to get to the hospital ASAP too. He says something to his wife and I tune them out, not wanting to invade their privacy.
Instead, I focus my attention on Sydney, who’s got her arms wrapped around her middle and is staring out the window. “Are you sure you’re really all right?” I ask, careful to keep my voice low. I don’t want anyone else to hear me, just her.
She nods and turns to face me, nibbling on her lower lip. It’s a sexy look, her teeth digging into that plump bottom lip, though I know that’s not what she’s going for. She dashes her fingers under her eyes again, catching the last of the tears before she offers me a reassuring smile. “I’m fine. Thank you for asking.”
“That was scary as hell.”
“Yeah, it was.” Amusement laces her tone, which I take as a good sign.
“You handled yourself pretty well.”
“I’m glad you think so.” She rolls her eyes. “Trust me, I was barely keeping it together.”
“Same.” I smile, like we share a secret. “Deep down inside I was in full on panic mode.”
“Me too.” Her smile softens, then completely disappears. “You’ll never believe what happened when Drew and I and the kids left the restaurant earlier.”
“There were photographers out front, asking all sorts of questions. Like where was Fable, and who was I. They even mentioned me being the nanny, like they already knew. It was weird.”
“Paparazzi, I guess.” I don’t know what that’s like. No one knows me, no one cares enough about me to chase my ass out of a restaurant and flash their cameras in my face. That happens to Drew and Fable on occasion, though—tonight wasn’t a good night for it, that’s for sure.
Turns out that’ll be the understatement of the century.
“Thank you for taking us home,” I say quietly as Wade puts the SUV in park and shuts off the engine. We just arrived at the Callahan house and I’m so tired, I can barely keep my eyes open. But I can feel his gaze on me, studying me, probably ready to ask some question I can’t or don’t want to answer just yet, so I keep my head averted. Too afraid of what I might see if I did happen to meet his gaze.
Disappointment maybe? I know I’m definitely disappointed over how I acted. I truly believed I wouldn’t crack under pressure, but seeing Fable unconscious on the floor at the restaurant just about did me in. I tried my best to keep it together and I held up for the most part. Thanks to Wade, if I’m being honest with myself. He offered comfort, and then he distracted me, which was a good thing.
A really good thing.
Though in the back of my mind, I worried constantly that entire ride to the hospital. About Fable, most definitely. I just hoped that she was okay. But I also worried about myself. About my capabilities when it came to my job. Clearly, I was unable to handle major stress. What if Drew and Fable realize that and fire me? Where would I go? What would I do?
I told myself to quit worrying about losing my job and focused on actually doing my job. Luckily enough, Jacob fell asleep fast. Someone dug up a lollipop for Autumn and she sucked on that thing all the way home, until she finally crashed out about ten minutes ago.
So now it’s just Wade and I, and the two sleeping Callahan children. Jacob is softly snoring and he sounds adorable, but I can’t truly focus on the adorableness. I’m still too caught up in my chaotic emotions.
“You’re welcome,” he finally says, his deep, slightly rough voice sending a ripple of awareness down my spine. “Are you all right? After everything that happened?”