C2 chapter 1
Customs is ridiculously slow, and a man has been pulled into the office up ahead. It all looks very suspicious from my position at the back of the line. “What do you think he did?” I whisper as I crane my neck to spy the commotion up ahead.
“I don’t know, something stupid, probably,” Emerson replies. We shuffle toward the desk as the line moves a little quicker.
We’ve just arrived in London to begin our year-long working holiday. I’m going to work for a judge as a nanny, while Emerson, my best friend, is working for an art auctioneer. I’m terrified, yet excited.
“I wish we had come a week earlier so we could have spent some time together,” Emerson says.
“Yeah, I know, but she needed me to start this week because she’s going away next week. I need to learn the kids routine.”
“Who leaves their kids alone for three days with a complete stranger?” Em frowns in disgust.
I shrug. “My new boss, apparently.”
“Well, at least I can come and stay with you next week. That’s a bonus.”
My position is residential, so my accommodation is secure. However, poor Emerson will be living with two strangers. She’s freaking out over it.
“Yeah, but I’m sneaking you in,” I say. “I don’t want it to look like we’re partying or anything.”
I look around the airport. It’s busy, bustling, and I already feel so alive. Emerson and I are more than just young travellers.
Emerson is trying to find her purpose and I’m running from a destructive past, one that involves me being in love with an adultering prick.
I loved him. He just didn’t love me. Not enough, anyway.
If he had, he would have kept it in his pants, and I wouldn’t be at Heathrow Airport feeling like I’m about to throw up.
I look down at myself and smooth the wrinkles from my dress. “She’s picking me up. Do I look okay?”
Emerson looks me up and down, smiling broadly. “You look exactly how a twenty-five-year-old nanny from Australia should.”
I bite my bottom lip to stop myself from smiling stupidly. That was a good answer.
“So, what’s your bosses name?” she asks.
I rustle around in my bag for my phone and scroll through the emails until I get to the one from the nanny agency. “Mrs. Julian Masters.”
Emerson nods. “And what’s her story again? I know you’ve told me before but I’ve forgotten.”
“She’s a Supreme Court judge, widowed five years ago.” “What happened to the husband?”
“I don’t know, but apparently she’s quite wealthy.” I shrug. “Two kids, well behaved.”
“I hope so. I hope they like me.”
“They will.” We move forward in the line. “We are definitely going out at the weekend, though, yes?”
“Yes.” I nod. “What are you going to do until then?”
Emerson shrugs. “Looking around. I start work on Monday and it’s Thursday today.” She frowns as she watches me. “Looking around. I start work on Monday and it’s Thursday today.” She frowns as she watches me. “Are you sure you can go out on the weekends?”
“Yes,” I snap, exasperated. “I told you a thousand times, we’re going out on Saturday night.”
Emerson nods nervously. I think she may be more nervous than I am, but at least I’m acting brave. “Did you get your phone sorted?” I ask.
“No, not yet. I’ll find a phone shop tomorrow so I can call you.”
We are called to the front of the line, and finally, half an hour later, we walk into the arrival lounge of Heathrow International Airport.
“Do you see our names?” Emerson whispers as we both look around.
“Shit, no one is here to pick us up. Typical.” She begins to panic.
“Relax, they will be here,” I mutter.
“What do we do if no one turns up?”
I raise my eyebrow as I consider the possibility. “Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to lose my shit.”
Emerson looks over my shoulder. “Oh, look, there’s your name. She must have sent a driver.”
I turn to see a tall, broad man in a navy suit holding a sign with the name Brielle Johnston on it. I force a smile and wave meekly as I feel my anxiety rise like a tidal wave in my stomach.
He walks over and smiles at me. “Brielle?”
His voice is deep and commanding. “Yes, that’s me,” I breathe.
He holds out his hand to shake mine. “Julian Masters.”
My eyes widen.
He raises his eyebrows.
“Um, so, I’m… I’m Brielle,” I stammer as I push my hand out. “And this is my friend, Emerson, who I’m travelling with.” He takes my hand in his and my heart races.
A trace of a smile crosses his face before he covers it. “Nice to meet you.” He turns to Emerson and shakes her hand. “How do you do?”
My eyes flash to Emerson, who is clearly loving this shit. She grins brightly. “Hello.”
“I thought you were a woman,” I whisper.His brows furrow. “Last time I checked I was all man.” His eyes hold mine.
Why did I just say that out loud? Oh my God, stop talking.
This is so awkward.
I want to go home. This is a bad idea.
“I’ll wait over here.” He gestures to the corner before marching off in that direction. My horrified eyes meet Emerson’s, and she giggles, so I punch her hard in the arm.
“Oh my fuck, he’s a fucking man,” I whisper angrily.
“I can see that.” She smirks, her eyes fixed on him.
“Excuse me, Mr. Masters?” I call after him.
He turns. “Yes.”
We both wither under his glare. “We… we are just going to use the bathroom,” I stammer nervously.