Suddenly Engaged (A Lake Haven Novel Book 3)(8)

By: Julia London

Everything since had been a struggle. But Kyra wouldn’t change anything.

She’d managed to keep her job at US Fitness until Ruby was born, but Brandi had warned her, “You know you can’t work here anymore, not with a baby. It’s too demanding.”

Kyra had already figured that out. So she’d taken her paid maternity leave, and when that had run out, she’d handed in her resignation and had begun to look for a job. Unfortunately, jobs were hard to come by when you had a baby on your hip. Kyra was forced to take low-wage jobs where she could get them, then spend all her spare time looking for something better that would pay her enough to live and give her flexible hours so that she could manage with a toddler, then a preschooler, and now a first grader.

After a series of part-time jobs, she’d felt lucky to land a position at a day care, because she could bring Ruby to work with her. But the day care didn’t pay the rent, and Kyra had struggled to keep the roof over their heads. When the opportunity for something better had come up in East Beach, she’d jumped at it.

And still nothing was going as planned. Today, it was already almost five o’clock. Her babysitter had said, unequivocally, that she would not stay past six. Kyra would be extremely lucky to get home by then, and then she’d have to try to read boring real estate law while a six-year-old talked and danced and sang around her. Kyra loved her daughter so much, of course she did . . . but that child made it impossible to concentrate on reading her coursework.

She hurried back to the wait station with the credit card and ran it.

Dinner. What was she going to feed her kid? This morning she’d had the idea of spaghetti, and really, when was she going to learn to cook a few things so she’d have them for days like this? She vowed then and there that on her next day off, she was going to do exactly that. But not tomorrow, which happened to be her next day off—she had too many other things to do. But the next day off for sure.

At this rate, by the time she got home, made dinner, then gave Ruby a bath and read to her, she’d be lucky if she could study even a page before falling asleep.

With the ladies dispatched, Kyra popped into the kitchen, where the staff was preparing for the evening rush. Megan, the lunchtime sous chef, was still on the clock. Kyra had been hoping for Rob, the nighttime sous chef. Rob never cared what Kyra took from the kitchen. But Megan? She could be a little judgmental. “Hey,” Kyra said brightly and wiped her hands on her apron.

“Hi, Kyra,” Megan said as she searched a file of papers for something. “You’re still here?”

“Late table. Ah . . . I kind of need a favor.”

Megan’s head instantly came up. She eyed Kyra warily, like she expected Kyra to ask for money.

“Was there any pasta left over from lunch today?” Kyra asked. “This table is so late, and I don’t have time to get anything for my daughter before her babysitter leaves, and my kitchen is a little bare.” She made herself laugh, as if that was supposed to be funny. As if she were that girl about town who just never had time to get to the grocery store. “You know how it is.”

Megan’s green-eyed gaze narrowed slightly, because Megan didn’t know how it was. Megan was the poster child for organization and perfect mothering. “This is the second time this week,” she pointed out. Megan had two girls, and she’d lectured Kyra about children’s nutritional needs earlier this week when, in a similar mothering fail, Kyra had asked for pasta. “Kids love pasta,” Megan had said in a tone one might use to deliver basic information to an imbecile. “But you have to make sure your kids are getting fruits and vegetables.”

“You’re right, it’s the second time. It’s been a crazy week.” Kyra smiled, hoping she would not have to endure another lecture about nutrition.

“We’re not supposed to give food to employees,” Megan added.

“I know,” Kyra said, nodding. “But come on, Megan—you’re going to throw it out, anyway, and it would be a huge help to me tonight.”

Megan sighed.

Why was it that some moms seemed to believe that if you were a single parent, you had no concept of how to do it right? Kyra knew what her child needed—she just couldn’t always deliver. If anyone was keeping score, she was guilty of bad mothering on a fairly routine basis—but it wasn’t from a lack of trying.

The truth was that Kyra was slightly envious that Megan apparently had time to grind up vegetables and make sure her kids’ meals were balanced. She could imagine Megan’s kids had their baths by six, their teeth brushed, their hair combed, and were dressed in matching flannel pajamas before seven. They probably had a grandma to fill in on those rare occasions Megan had to work a night shift, and a hands-on father to read charming stories to them.