moved the play station and gathered that little darling into her arms. Lena giggled some moreâand then rested her silky dark head on Josieâs shoulder. Josie kissed the black curls and patted the tiny back. When she turned, she found both Flynt and his mother still staring at her.
She decided to ignore them. She rocked the baby gently from side to side and indulged herself in a fewmore little kissesâon that satin-soft cheek, on the perfect shell of a small, warm ear.
At last, Grace turned to her son and asked a little stiffly, âDo you want me to stay with her until Josie can get her things and come back?â
âIâd appreciate it. Iâve got a few calls to make.â
âNo problem.â Grace set her book on the small table by the rocker and held out her arms.
Reluctantly Josie handed Lena over. âIâll probably be two or three hours.â
âItâs all right,â said Grace, holding Lena close. âWeâll manage just fine.â
Alva was lying on the sofa, as usual, when Josie got home. But she looked pretty good. Her oxygen was turned off and wheeled over into the corner. Day by day, the circles beneath her eyes seemed a little lighter, her cheeks a little less pale.
She sat up. âJosie, honey, Iâm thinking maybe Iâll fix us both some macaroni and cheese. I know you love macaroni and cheese.â
Josie sat down beside her and took her hand. âMamaâ¦â
Alva looked at her with a motherâs knowing eyes. âSomethingâs happened. What?â
âWell, itâs kind of a sudden thing, I know, but Iâve been offered a nanny job out at Carson Ranch.â
âJust now? Today?â
âA nanny jobâ¦watching the mystery baby?â
âMama. Howâd you know about the mystery baby?â
âI may be under the weather lately, but I have a few friends in town. And Iâve also got a phone.â
âEverybodyâs talking, huh?â
âArenât they always?â
âYeah, I suppose they are.â Josie rubbed the back of Alvaâs thin, wrinkled hand. Her mother was only forty-five. But judging by her hands, she might have been seventy or more. âMamaâ¦â
âSpit it out, now, sweetie.â
âWell, itâs a round-the-clock job. I would have to stay at the ranch five days a week. Iâd come home every day, though, to check on you and Iâd have two days off.â
âYou talked to Gus over at the cafÃ© yet?â
Josie shook her head. âIâll go see him next.â
âOh, donât look so serious.â Alvaâs smile was a little wan, but it was a smile, nonetheless. âYou know Gus. Heâll holler some and then heâll say as soon as you want your job back, you got it.â
Josie nodded. âI have to admit that does sound like Gus.â
âHe knows a hard worker when heâs got one. This nanny job pay good?â
âAnd you want to do it?â
âYes. I do.â
Her mother reached out, brushed a few strands of hair out of Josieâs eyes. âAnd not only for the money, am I right?â
âOh, Mamaâ¦â All at once, there were tears pushing at the back of her throat.
âWhat, now? What is makinâ you cry?â
âIâm not crying. Not quite, anyway.â
âTell me. Come on.â
âWell, when it comes to love and all that, I only wanted to find a good man, you know? A nice, stable, solid kind of guy.â
âWho is it?â
Her motherâs sudden question took Josie by surprise. âWhat?â
âOh, honey, I always suspected there was someone at that house when you were working there beforeâand then, when you quit all of a sudden and decided to head up to Dallas, I knew something was wrong. You had that look of a woman brokenhearted, but you werenât