His Virgin Babysitter(6)

By: Lila Younger

“So am I, but we need to wait for mom,” I say. I can’t resist adding, because I need to know. “Did you have a good day today?”

Luna ponders for a moment.

“I got to wear my dress,” she says brightly. “And RJ made breakfast.”

I had assumed that RJ was Stacie’s boyfriend, but now I wasn’t so sure. I tried to comb through my memories of our meetings. Was there any signs then of Stacie using drugs? I didn’t think so, but then again, it would never occur to me to do something so incredibly stupid and dangerous.

“Sounds lovely,” I say. My stomach grumbles and I wonder what the hell Stacie is doing. “Daddy had a good day too. But now it’s even better because I get to see you.”

We chat for another ten minutes, before I’ve had enough. Both Luna and I are hungry. I decide to that we should just go ahead and order. I’m starting to get worried though. I know women can take a while in the bathroom, but this is excessive. I try to glance around the restaurant, but the restaurant is curved in a U shape, and we’re right at the very end. When a waitress appears with our food, I quietly pull her aside to ask if she could check on Stacie in the bathroom, in case something happened. Her face when she returns tells me everything.

Stacie’s left.

I’m genuinely shocked. Why would she up and leave her kid behind? Where the hell did she go? The last thing I want to do is to make Luna panic, so I quickly thank the waitress and pull out my phone to send Stacie a text. No reply. There’s nothing for it but to sit tight and hope for the best. But almost two hours later, I have to give up. The lunch crowd has emptied out. If Stacie wanted to come back, she would have answered her phone. The woman has abandoned her kid.

“What’s wrong daddy?” Luna asks me.

“Nothing,” I reply. I have to think fast. “Mommy isn’t feeling well, so you’re going to hang out with me this afternoon kiddo.”

“Okay,” she says cheerfully.

“Can you sit tight while daddy makes a call?” I ask her.

Luna nods, pulling out a coloring book from her backpack. I slide out of the booth and walk a few feet away, just enough so she can’t overhear my conversation.

“Gina, I need your help.”

“What is it?” she says, alarmed.

“Stacie’s dumped her kid on me. I don’t think I’ll be able to come in today. Maybe not even tomorrow if I can’t find a babysitter. I’ve got a few vacation days saved up, but clients aren’t going to happy about it. I have to figure out what to do with Luna though, and I can’t just abandon her on some stranger when her mom’s left her behind.”

I turn and look at Luna, coloring away in her book. She seems completely unfazed by her mother’s absence, but that won’t last very long. I have no clue what I’m going to tell the kid, if I even am. I’m holding out hope that Stacie’s just done something stupid, but she’ll come back and straighten things. Then again, I can only imagine what the situation is at home if she’s shooting up with Luna around. Fuck.

“Poor thing,” Gina murmurs. “I’ll take care of things here Mr. Sedgwick. Don’t you worry about it.”

“Thank you. I’ll let you know once I figure out what to do.”

As soon as I hang up, I pay for the tab and take Luna to her favorite park. As she climbs up on the jungle gym, I repeatedly try Stacie’s phone. I even try to find RJ through her Facebook friends, but there’s nothing. Maybe I should have asked more questions, paid more attention, but right now there’s nothing for it. I’m going to have to take Luna home with me.

I rifle through the girl’s backpack. There’s a coloring book, a doll, and a manila envelope with my name on it. Stacie didn’t even pack clothes for the kid, which tells me that she hasn’t told Luna that she’s going to leave. Damn, that’s cold. I open up the envelope, and see a birth certificate. Luna Rose Ellsworth. Under father, I see my name. She’s going to be five on April 12th. I feel my gut clench in anger on Luna’s behalf.

As Luna plays, I formulate a plan. I’ll keep her with me, find a nanny, and maybe ease off on my work a little. I have no idea how long Stacie’s going to disappear for, but the more I think about it, the more I decide not to give Luna up without a fight. I call up an old friend, John, who works in family court and discuss the situation with him. I want custody.

Once that’s sorted, I call Luna back. If she’s staying with me, we’re going to have to stock up. My bachelor pad is anything but kid friendly.