Professor and the Nanny (Silhouette Romance)

“I’ve always known you were off limits

and even so I’m breaking all the rules.”

Brittany tipped her head back and looked at Ethan. “What rules?”

“I’m talking about your age. You’re so very young.”

Her eyes widened. “You don’t like young women?”

“You’re fourteen years younger than me, Brittany. Have you ever made love with a man?”

For a moment she just looked at him, then she buried her face in his shoulder. “No. I’ve never before met one I wanted to be…um…
with
in that way.”

Pride and regret warred within him. He brushed the hair away from her cheek. “I’m flattered that you think I might be that man,” he murmured into her ear. “I wish I were, but I’m afraid I’m not.”

Dear Reader,

From the enchantment of first loves to the wonder of second chances, Silhouette Romance demonstrates the power of genuine emotion. This month we continue our yearlong twentieth anniversary celebration with another stellar lineup, including the return of beloved author Dixie Browning with
Cinderella’s Midnight Kiss
.

Next, Raye Morgan delivers a charming marriage-of-convenience story about a secretary who is
Promoted—To Wife!
And Silhouette Romance begins a new theme-based promotion, AN OLDER MAN, which highlights stories featuring sophisticated older men who meet their matches in younger, inexperienced women. Our premiere title is
Professor and the Nanny
by reader favorite Phyllis Halldorson.

Bestselling author Judy Christenberry unveils her new miniseries, THE CIRCLE K SISTERS, in
Never Let You Go
. When a millionaire businessman wins an executive assistant at an auction, he discovers that he wants her to be
Contractually His
… forever. Don’t miss this conclusion of Myrna Mackenzie’s THE WEDDING AUCTION series. And in Karen Rose Smith’s
Just the Husband She Chose
, a powerful attorney is reunited in a marriage meant to satisfy a will.

In coming months, look for new miniseries by some of your favorite authors. It’s an exciting year for Silhouette Books, and we invite you to join the celebration!

Happy reading!

Mary-Theresa Hussey

Senior Editor

PROFESSOR AND THE NANNY
Phyllis Halldorson

For my Friday critique group, those generous and talented writers whose support has been invaluable over the years. Many thanks and much love.

Books by Phyllis Halldorson

Silhouette Romance

Temporary Bride
#31

To Start Again
#79

Mountain Melody
#247

If Ever I Loved You
#282

Design for Two Hearts
#367

Forgotten Love
#395

An Honest Lover
#456

To Choose a Wife
#515

Return to Raindance
#566

Raindance Autumn
#584

Ageless Passion, Timeless Love
#653

Dream Again of Love
#689

Only the Nanny Knows for Sure
#760

Lady Diamond
#791

More Than You Know
#948

Father in the Middle
#1060

Mail Order Wife
#1133

A Wife for Dr. Sam
#1219

The Lawman’s Legacy
#1255

A Man Worth Marrying
#1395

Professor and the Nanny
#1452

Silhouette Special Edition

My Heart’s Undoing
#290

The Showgirl and the Professor
#368

Cross My Heart
#430

Ask Not of Me, Love
#510

All We Know of Heaven
#621

You Could Love Me
#734

Luscious Lady
#764

A Haven in His Arms
#863

Truly Married
#958

The Bride and the Baby
#999

The Millionaire’s Baby
#1145

Silhouette Books

Silhouette Christmas Stories
1991

“A Memorable Noel”

PHYLLIS HALLDORSON

met her real-life Prince Charming at the age of sixteen. She married him a year later, and they settled down to raise a family. A compulsive reader, Phyllis dreamed of someday finding the time to write stories of her own. That time came when her two youngest children reached adolescence. When she was introduced to romance novels, she knew she had found her long-delayed vocation. After all, how could she write anything else after living all those years with her very own Silhouette hero?

Chapter One

B
rittany Baldwin’s stomach churned as she pulled over to the curb and parked in front of the white colonial-style house with two-story-high pillars that supported the overhang above the porch.

It was a lovely upper-middle-class home in a historic neighborhood of Lexington, and the man she was supposed to meet here was a professor of literature at the University of Kentucky, but was she ready for this? Her first interview for her first nursing job. She’d expected to have three more years of college before actually going to work, but then…

She shook her head as if the sharp movement could drive away the searing memories that still haunted her, then got out of the car and walked briskly up to the door. The bell chimed melodiously when pushed and the door was opened by a good-looking man of medium height with light brown hair and eyes to match behind silver-framed glasses.

For a moment they just stood there looking at each other, each waiting for the other to speak.

Finally he broke the silence. “Yes?”

It was put in the form of a question, but why? Surely he was expecting her.

“I…I’m Brittany Baldwin,” she stammered, “the medical assistant Professor Thorpe requested.”

He blinked. “
You’re
the nurse I asked for?”

“Nursing
assistant
,” she corrected him, “and yes, if you’re Professor Ethan Thorpe, I was told to meet you here at—” she paused and looked at her watch “—four o’clock.”

He was still frowning at her. “Is there a problem?” she asked.

“You could say that, yes,” he growled. “I am Ethan Thorpe, but you’d better come in while we discuss it.”

She wondered what there was to discuss as he stood aside so she could step into the large tiled foyer that housed a wide staircase in the center and displayed a magnificent crystal chandelier suspended from the soaring ceiling.

Brittany was impressed, but before she could comment the man had taken her arm and was ushering her into the area to the right. His hand cupping her elbow was firm but warm and smooth, and she involuntarily leaned into it, seeking its security.

This room was a parlor furnished with beautiful antique furniture, and he led her to the settee and motioned for her to sit down. She did, reluctantly relinquishing his supporting touch, and he took a high-backed wing chair several feet away.

“Now, Ms…. Baldwin did you say your name is?”

“Brittany,” she murmured, and he continued. “I’m afraid there’s been a misunderstanding. I asked for a mature, well-trained and experienced woman capable of taking care of my father, who is diabetic and has difficulty with his short-term memory.”

Brittany still didn’t understand the problem. “I admit I’m not very experienced, but I’m well trained in nursing care as I’m sure the agency told you. I can administer his shots, oversee his diet and watch him so he doesn’t wander off—”

“How old are you?” Ethan interjected.

“I’m…uh…I’m twenty-one, but I’m well aware of the responsibility involved in caring for my patients,” she hastily assured him. “I was studying to be a registered nurse but…”

She bit back her ill-advised words and hoped he hadn’t caught them. She really didn’t want to get into that subject right now. It was still too painful to discuss with strangers, and besides, it had nothing to do with her nursing skills. She’d learned those at the vocational school after—

Unfortunately his hearing was keen and so was his curiosity. “Brittany? You were saying…?”

“Oh, nothing,” she replied, groping for a way out. “It really doesn’t apply to this situation.”

He leaned back in his chair and captured her gaze. The lenses of his glasses weren’t very thick, and she could see the flecks of gold in his brown pupils behind them. The metal frames were circular and softened the wideness of his cheekbones and the squareness of his jaw. He looked to be in his early or mid-thirties, and was a very handsome man in a quiet sort of way.

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” he suggested softly but with a hint of determination that would not be denied.

Oh well, this was, after all, an interview for a job. He had a right to ask questions, and if she wanted the position she’d better answer them. She just hoped she could get through it without breaking down!

She twined her hands in her lap and leaned forward as she began. “Last year I completed my first year at the university. I was working for a degree in nursing, but then in August my…”

Her voice shook and she swallowed. “…my parents were killed in a boating accident.”

He sat bolt upright in his chair. “Oh, look, I’m sorry. I had no idea. I didn’t mean to put you through this….”

She held up her hand. “No, please, it’s something I have to learn to live with.”

With her fingertips she dabbed at the unwelcome tears that had formed in her eyes. “When the estate was settled I learned they had been living beyond their means for years and were on the verge of bankruptcy. All I managed to salvage was Mom’s car, which by some miracle was paid for, and enough money to enroll in the medical assistant’s program at the career vocational school here in town.”

She took a deep breath. “It was a ten-month course and I graduated last week. This is my first job interview.”

“But surely you have relatives,” he muttered.

She shook her head. “Not unless you count two second cousins living in California whom I haven’t seen in almost ten years. I have no brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles.”

“Well I have to admit you come highly recommended by your school,” he said, “but you’re so
young
. And so
fragile
.”

Brittany couldn’t help it, she laughed. “There’s not much I can do about the ‘young’ part, but ‘fragile’? Professor Thorpe, I’m five feet six inches tall and weigh one-hundred-thirty pounds. I’ve also had strength training and my body is very well toned.”

Ethan grinned. “Don’t underestimate my dad. He’s over six feet tall, slimmer now than he used to be, but still tips the scales at close to two hundred pounds, and makes up in just plain wiliness for what he may have lost in muscle power.”

The cool reserve between the two of them had been broken, and they sat back and relaxed. “Tell me a little about your father,” Brittany said. “I understand he’s retired now, but what did he do for a living? How many children does he have? What about your mother? That type of thing.”

She knew she was assuming a lot here, asking questions like that before she’d even been hired, but she really wanted this job and she wasn’t going to make it easy for the professor to send her away if his only objection to her was her age.

“You want to know what my dad used to do for a living?” Ethan inquired. “He spent forty years as a heavy-equipment repairer. He’s got muscles you never heard of, and most of them are still fully operational even though he doesn’t exercise much anymore. You’d have a time controlling him if he didn’t want to be controlled. Fortunately, he’s even-tempered and he’d die before he’d ever touch a woman in anger.”

“Then we don’t have to worry about my strength or lack of it, do we,” she said sweetly with a touch of sarcasm.

“But it’s not your well being I’m worried about,” Ethan replied. “He sometimes loses his balance and falls. Are you strong enough to help him get up and patient enough to give him constant attention? He tends to get confused and wanders away if not supervised.”

“It’s almost impossible for any one person to lift a patient who can’t help himself,” she told him, “but I can certainly dial 911 if I need help. I’m prepared to do whatever is necessary to keep him safe and well as long as he’s under my supervision. How old is he?”

“He’s seventy-two and in good health as long as he keeps his diabetes under control, but because of his short-term memory problems he can’t always remember to give himself his insulin shots. When that happens he goes downhill fast, but I’m sure you know about that.”

Brittany knew he was testing her and responded appropriately. “Yes, I do. His blood-sugar count goes up dangerously high and he feels woozy. That’s when he’s apt to get confused and fall.”

Ethan nodded his agreement. “Right. That’s the most important reason we need a medical assistant as a caregiver.”

“I’m very good at making sure my patients get their meds,” she assured him. “What about your mother? Does she live here, too?”

He shook his head. “My mother died of a sudden heart attack when my twin brother and I were in high school. Peter
and I were their only children, and Dad never married again so there’s no second family.”

“And your wife?” she asked hesitantly. “You do have a wife, don’t you?”

He shook his head. “Not anymore,” he said crisply. “My wife and I were divorced two years ago. We have an eighteen-month-old son, but he won’t be a problem for you. He lives in Pleasant Hill with his mother. I have him every other weekend.”

Brittany was startled by his disclosure. So far she hadn’t seen any sign of a woman in residence, but she’d assumed there was one. Why would any woman give up on a man with all Ethan had going for him? What had happened?

Well, that was obviously none of her business and it was time to change the subject.

“So you have a twin brother,” she said. “That must have been fun when you were growing up.”

He smiled. “No, we’re fraternal twins, not identical. Pete is six two, losing his hair and has blue eyes. We don’t even look like brothers.”

Brittany’s gaze shifted up to Ethan’s luxuriant crop of brown-colored hair, and her fingers tingled to run through it. No chance of him going bald anytime soon. “How odd,” she commented. “Does he live in the area?”

“No, he and his wife are lawyers and are partners in separate law firms in New Orleans, so you’d be on your own with Dad from eight in the morning until midafternoon at the earliest. Do you think you could handle that?”

“I’m sure of it,” she said with a tad more confidence than she felt. “Also, the agency I work through has backup help always available. I can call them at any time should a problem arise.”

“Well, I don’t know,” he waffled. “I need someone who understands the situation and can deal with it. My first choice
was for a male medical assistant, but the agency didn’t have any available.”

He thought for a minute, then spoke. “Look, why don’t I introduce you to Dad and see how it goes? He’s in the family room watching a baseball game on television.”

“I think that’s a great idea,” Brittany said, relieved that he was at least going to give her a chance, let her meet the patient and see how they got along.

“Fine, then come on. It’s down the hall.”

Again he took her arm. She wasn’t sure it was necessary as a form of politeness, but she was glad he did. She liked the closeness it induced in her.

They walked down the hall to the right of the staircase and past a closed door until they came to a big open room across the back of the house.

It was totally unlike the parlor, or the dining room she’d glimpsed across the foyer. They were furnished in eighteenth-century decor, stately but cool and formal. This one, however, was strictly twentieth century with comfortable modern furniture, massive sliding glass doors and windows with a view that seemed to bring the colorful, well-tended gardens inside. A big-screen television set was tuned to a baseball game in progress.

The furniture divided the rectangular room into two separate areas. The television was the focal point to the left of the wide entryway, and the right side featured a marble fireplace with a long cream-colored sofa facing it from the middle of the room. There were numerous thickly upholstered lounge chairs in shades of brown, rust and beige positioned around both sides, and lamps strategically placed for reading.

An older man sat in one of the chairs with his back to them, avidly watching the screen, and didn’t hear them approach until Ethan spoke. “Dad, would you turn the sound down? We have a visitor.”

The man looked around, startled, and immediately turned
off the set with the remote, then struggled to his feet. “Sorry, I didn’t hear you coming,” he said pleasantly.

“Please don’t apologize,” Brittany said, and held out her hand. “I’m Brittany Baldwin.”

She didn’t know just what she’d expected, but this wasn’t it. Nate Thorpe was tall and slender, somewhat loosely put together, like a dancer, except she could tell from the way he swayed ever so slightly when he first stood that he had a problem with his balance.

He took her hand. His grip was firm and his eyes brown like his son’s. In fact, he and Ethan looked quite a bit alike, except Nate’s hair had turned iron-gray and he wore a mustache. He also wore glasses, but his were thicker than his son’s and had tortoiseshell rims.

His eyes sparkled as his gaze traveled over her and he smiled. “My short-term memory might not be what it used to be, but I know I’d remember you if we’d ever met before.”

Good, Brittany thought. He was playful, which meant he probably wasn’t depressed.

“Brittany is here to interview for the position of medical assistant,” Ethan told him. “Remember? I told you about it this morning.”

“Of course I remember,” Nate snapped. “I may be old but I’m not senile yet.”

Brittany winced and she saw Ethan flush. “Dad, I wasn’t implying that you are—”

He paused, obviously unsure of how to handle the situation.

She wasn’t, either, but she stepped in, anyway. She and Nate were still holding hands after shaking them, and she squeezed his. “We all forget things at times,” she said lightly. “I have to write everything down if I don’t want to forget it, and this college professor son of yours didn’t even know who I was when I showed up on your doorstep right on time for this appointment. One he had set up. Everyone’s got problems, sir.”

Nate tightened his grip on her hand, then let her go. “Hire her, son, before she gets away. If I gotta be sick, I want her for a nurse.”

Ethan knew when he’d been outclassed, outwitted and outmaneuvered. What he couldn’t figure out was how it had happened! One minute he’d had everything under control and the next his own father and the nurse he hadn’t even hired yet had wrested it from him and were dictating their own terms.

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