"I see Simon and Reese are moving in today," Lawrence remarked to Shayna as he walked into his house after work and ran into her in the hallway just outside his home office.
"Are the moving trucks still out there?" she asked, turning to look out through the glass of the front door. "They started moving in this afternoon. I was hoping they would be finished by this early this evening."
"Did you get all of the paperwork completed?"
"Yes, it's all settled. Vanessa offered to put together a group to welcome them to the neighborhood. They're going to stop by sometime tomorrow."
"Yes, actually. I'm not sure whether I should bring this up or not," she said hesitantly. She glanced behind her to make sure no one was in earshot. "It's about your new nanny."
"I'm not sure if this is cause for alarm or if it's nothing, but I caught her in your bedroom, looking through some of Eileen's old things." As she paused, Lawrence seemed perplexed. "When I confronted her, she said she was just admiring them, but I found it odd and unprofessional."
Lawrence nodded slowly. "I find that odd too . . . do you believe that was all she was doing, just looking?"
"Yes," Shayna nodded, hesitantly.
"Then I won't worry about it too much. Thank you for telling me and if you notice anything else odd . . ."
"I won't hesitate to let you know," Shayna said quickly, resolved to keep an eye on Jolene whenever they happened to be working in the house together.
"Where are Jolene and the children now?" Lawrence asked.
"In the backyard, I believe."
"Hey, Jolene, can you do this?" Lawrence heard his daughter call out as he opened the backdoor.
"I used to be able to, but it's been a long time. Let's see."
As Lawrence walked outside he saw the nanny doing a handstand in the grass while Artie and Lorna watched nearby.
"Wow!" Lorna replied.
"That's pretty awesome," Artie added his approval.
For a moment, Lawrence was taken back to one of the many evenings when he would come home from work to find Eileen in the children playing together in the backyard, having picnics, or reading books under the shade trees. She had loved being a mother so much and the children absolutely adored her.
It hadn't been the same since they had lost her, but he was glad to see the children smiling and laughing again. Lorna and Artie at least.
"Mrs. McCarthy never could have done that!" Lorna said with a laugh.
"This is lame," Lance chipped in with a roll of his eyes.
Jolene dropped to her feet. "Okay then, mister, let's see you try. Or why don't you come up with something better to do? Something not so lame," she said, making a serious suggestion.
Lance huffed and walked past them towards the house.
"Lance," Lawrence said sternly, making Jolene jump with surprise. "You will not be disrespectful to Ms. Parker."
"Sorry," he mumbled half-heartedly and disappeared into the house.
"Mr. Arrendale. I didn't know you were home," Jolene said quickly, her cheeks flushing pink with embarrassment. "I didn't realize it was getting so late." She turned her attention to the children to avoid looking Lawrence in the eye. "You two had better go inside too and get working on your homework."
Lorna gave her father a hug and then turned back to Jolene before following Artie into the house. "Will you show me some more gymnastics tomorrow?"
"I'm sorry about Lance's behavior," Lawrence said to Jolene, once the children were inside. "He hasn't been giving you problems, has he?"
"Oh no," Jolene replied with a dismissive wave of her hand. "He's been a little grumpy, but I have no problem dealing with grumpy."
"He's had a hard time since . . . we lost his mother. He's taken it the hardest of the three."
"I can tell that you all loved her very much," Jolene said quietly. "I've only heard wonderful things about her from people in the neighborhood. She must have been a very special lady."
"She was. That doesn't even begin to describe her," Lawrence said, a faraway expression in his eyes.
"I should probably tell you something, Mr. Arrendale," she started, bringing Lawrence's attention back to the present. "I want to be honest with you. I was looking at some of your late wife's things earlier. I happened to see them when I was putting away the laundry and I was just curious. I've been kind of curious about her since I started working for you and saw her pictures in the family room. I know I shouldn't have pried, but she just seemed so elegant and beautiful . . . inside and out. I'm sorry if I invaded your privacy. I won't let my curiosity get the better of me again. I hope this won't affect my position here. I really do love working with your children and I think they seem to like me pretty well. At least two out of three anyway," she ended with a sheepish grin.
"I appreciate your honesty," Lawrence said weighing his words carefully. "Just don't let it happen again."
"I won't," she said crossing her finger over her hard and raising her palm in the air as if she were making a solemn vow.
"I can see that the children do like you and I'm glad for that. It's been very hard for them . . . for all of us."
Jolene nodded silently, looking at him with sympathetic eyes.
"I wonder if I may have made things harder for Lance. Maybe I shouldn't have let him hear some of the things that he did after the accident."
"Like what?" Jolene asked breathlessly, her eyes widened with curiosity.
Lawrence drew back, fearing that he may be saying too much. "It's nothing really. I probably shouldn't have said anything."
"No, you should!" Jolene replied, a little too insistently. She quickly tried to recover from her overeagerness. "Maybe if I knew, I could help him through it or at least be more sensitive to what he's going through."
"After the accident someone close to us seemed to insist that Eileen was still alive. Lance maybe have overheard and held on to false hope that his mother was coming back."
"Oh dear," Jolene said with a shake of her head. "Is there any reason why this person would have thought that? I mean, were they there when it happened? Did they have any evidence to make them think that?"
Lawrence shook his head. "It was just a feeling she had. A silly notion. Nothing," he said. He had used those words with Lance when he repeated Cassandra's assertion that Eileen was still alive, just as he had repeated them to himself.