Hot Single Dad

By: Claire Kingsley

1





Caleb





An endless stream of people come down the escalator, but so far, none of them are the girl I’m waiting for.

“Where’s Linnea going to sleep?” Charlotte asks.

“We have an extra bedroom,” I say. “You know that, Bug.”

My six-year-old daughter sits in my lap. Her brown hair is down and I notice it’s a little tangled in the back. I should have brushed it again before we left the house, but I didn’t want to be late.

We have a good view of the escalator from where we’re sitting, and this way it’s easier to keep Charlotte close. I keep a protective arm wrapped around her waist and I have to stop myself from giving the side eye to the people walking by. A crowded airport is one of those places where my dad-instincts get sharp.

“I know, but what if she sleeps with me in my room?” Charlotte asks.

“Aha, now I see why you’re asking. I think Linnea is going to want her own room.” I tickle her tummy and she squirms, giggling.

“Stop it, Daddy.”

My phone buzzes in my pocket so I pull it out. It’s my brother, Alex.

“Hey, man.”

“Hey, where are you?” he asks. “I’m at the gym. I thought we were shooting hoops tonight.”

“No, I’m at the airport.” I scoot Charlotte higher up my lap. “Sorry, I thought I told you I couldn’t make it.”

“Airport?” he asks. “What’s going on?”

I take a deep breath. I haven’t told my family about the situation yet. It all happened so fast. Just last week, Charlotte’s grandparents were talking to her on their Skype call. Next thing I know, I’m sitting at the airport waiting for a flight from Michigan.

“I’m picking someone up,” I say. “Kind of a long story, but it’s Melanie’s sister, Linnea.”

“Oh, wow. Just Linnea, or are Melanie’s parents coming too?” Alex asks.

“No, Steve and Margo aren’t coming.” Which is a relief. My relationship with my former in-laws is strained at best—always was. They thought Melanie and I were too young to get married—afraid it would interfere with her career. We were still in medical school, and we were young. But when Melanie set her mind to something, not even her parents could stop her.

After Melanie died—she was killed in a car accident when Charlotte was a baby—her parents’ opinion of me didn’t get any better. They didn’t exactly blame me—and they couldn’t, I wasn’t even there when she was hit—but I know they still felt like I took Melanie’s life and turned it sideways. Maybe if she hadn’t married me, she wouldn’t have moved to Houston to do her residency, and she wouldn’t have been on the road that day.

“Is she coming out to visit Charlotte?” Alex asks.

“Not exactly.” Charlotte moves into the seat next to me, and I stand, angling myself so I can still see her but can talk more privately. “She’s coming to be Charlotte’s nanny.”

“Hey, that’s great.”

“Yeah,” I say, and I’m sure he can hear the skepticism in my voice. “It’s not really my idea, but I’m stuck with it at this point.”

“How is it not your idea?” he asks.

“Steve and Margo insisted,” I say. “I guess Charlotte told them about the disaster that was Brittany.”

“Right—Brittany forgot to pick Charlotte up from school, didn’t she?” he asks.

“Yep,” I say. “When I literally had my hands inside someone’s abdominal cavity. Thank god for Kendra.”

“No kidding,” he says.

Since we moved back to Seattle, my sister Kendra has been there to bail me out when I needed someone to watch Charlotte more times than I can count. And, to be fair, that’s a lot of why we moved home. Being a single dad isn’t easy, and my erratic schedule as an ER surgeon makes it even harder. I wanted to be closer to my family, and there’s no doubt in my mind it was the right thing to do. But I really need a regular nanny—someone I can trust to take care of my little girl. So far, I haven’t had any luck finding the right person.

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