The whole town was talking about his new nanny--and that wasn't all...
There were whispers about Sawyer Bennett, locked up behind his estate's stone walls. Untouchable. The only chink in his armor--his mute daughter. But not even his wealth and influence could silence the rumors since the suspicious death of his socialite wife.
So why did new nanny Amanda Rockport think she could penetrate the fortress around Sawyer? Because she could help the little girl, who hadn't spoken since witnessing her mother's murder. Somewhere a murderer was scot-free--watching and waiting. The little girl needed her father back, and the nanny--what did she need? Her boss to take charge, even if rousing his anger got the town talking again!
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October 09, 2007
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Excerpt from His New Nanny by Carla Cassidy
"They say he killed his wife." The old man's grizzled eyebrows drew together in a frown. "Killed her then tried to feed her to the gators."
Amanda Rockport stared at him, unsure if he was pulling her leg. "Then why isn't he in jail?" she asked.
"Circumstantial evidence, but not enough proof to put the man behind bars. Besides, he's rich. Money talks and the guilty walks. You best go back to where you came from and leave Sawyer Bennett to the devil where he belongs."
Amanda fought the impulse to reach up and rub the center of her forehead where a tension headache had lived for the past month.
"I've never been one to put much stock in idle gossip," she replied. She wished she hadn't stopped in the small caf? before reaching her final destination--Sawyer Bennett's home.
She cupped her hands around the hot cup of coffee and considered doing exactly what the old man had suggested, going back to where she'd come from.
Unfortunately that really wasn't an option. She'd used the last of her money to travel from Kansas City to Conja Creek, Louisiana. Besides, there was nothing left for her in Kansas City.
She finished her coffee and stood. "I appreciate the advice," she said to the old man who had sat on the stool next to her at the caf? counter.
His blue eyes gazed at her sharply. "You're making a mistake."
"I guess it's my mistake to make." She threw a couple of dollars on the counter to pay for the coffee. As she stepped out of the caf?, the hot, humid air hit her like a slap in the face and half stole her breath.
She moved quickly to her car, where she started the engine and waited for cool air to blow from the vents. "They say he killed his wife." The old man's words echoed in her head.
Surely Johnny wouldn't have arranged this job for her if he'd thought Sawyer Bennett was a danger. Granted her brother didn't always exhibit the best judgment, but there was no way he'd send her to work for a murderer.
All Johnny had told her when he'd approached her about the job was that Sawyer Bennett had been a college roommate and the two men had stayed in touch over the years and that Sawyer had lost his wife recently and needed a nanny.
Think of the child, she told herself. Think of Melanie. She opened the file folder on the seat next to her and withdrew the photo of the little girl. She looked small for her age, and her eyes radiated a sadness too profound for an eight-year-old.
She knew from her brief correspondence with Sawyer Bennett that two months ago Melanie Bennett had gone mute.
With Amanda's psychology degree and teaching background, she'd felt confident that she'd be able to help Melanie. And any job that got her away from the mess of her life in Kansas City had been appealing. Until she'd stopped for coffee and made the mistake of passing time with an old-timer seated next to her.
Now a rumble of apprehension thundered through her head, intensifying her headache. At the moment she really had no choice. She couldn't go back. She could only go forward and hope that she wasn't making a monumental mistake.
With a deep breath, she backed out of the parking space. Sawyer's directions had indicated that she'd pass through the town of Conja Creek. She should have passed through. She should have never stopped for that coffee.
She left the town behind and turned down a narrow road flanked by trees dripping moss. The sunlight seemed to disappear as if unable to penetrate the depths of the surrounding forest.
Clutching the steering wheel more tightly, she found the alien landscape both forbidding and fascinating. A twist here, a turn there and she came to a clearing. The large plantation-style house filled the space, flanked by tall trees and backed by the swamp.
It was an impressive structure, with thick white columns and a sweeping veranda that seemed to go on forever. It didn't whisper of old money, it screamed it.
She parked next to a black pickup and cut the engine, but was reluctant to leave the familiar confines of her car. They say he killed his wife and fed her to the gators. Nothing but rumor, she told herself. And she knew all about rumors and innuendoes.
She knew all about circumstantial evidence and that sometimes it had nothing to do with truth. It had been circumstantial evidence and rumors that had destroyed her life.
It didn't take long for the car to get too hot, so she grabbed her purse and the file folder and got out. The air hung heavy, the humidity nearly visible as she headed toward the stairs that led to the porch. The silence was as oppressive as the air.
Please don't let this be a mistake, she mentally