Chapter eight for your viewing pleasure! A day late, but better than not updating at all.
Bert: Winds in the east, mist coming in, / Like somethin' is brewin' and bout to begin. / Can't put me finger on what lies in store, / But I fear what's to happen all happened before.
It had been a little over three hours since Leland's conversation with Dominic and the seething anger had still not fizzled out. In fact, it seemed time just made it worse. He kept reviewing what was said over and over again. It was almost like punishment for Leland, but he couldn't help it. Anger was far better than curling up on the sofa feeling depressed and sorry for himself.
You're just the nanny.
What an asshole. Just a nanny, was he? Fine. Whatever.
It wasn't like he had spent most of his waking hours sorting out Dominic's life, his household, and his daughter. He had even folded Dominic's damn underpants for Christ's sake. His own life was no longer priority number one. It was now always
Elise and Dominic. Dominic and Elise. It was never about Leland anymore. Even when he finally returned to his own house, grabbing a couple of hours to himself before heading for bed, his thoughts continuously turned to the Bosworth's.
Without Leland even realising it, this job was no longer just a job. It was taking over his life at a remarkable speed, making him forget whom he was. What he was.
Well, no more.
Dominic had made it perfectly clear he didn't need Leland's type of help. It was best to keep it strictly professional. It was time to draw a line in the proverbial sand. There was going to be a clear distinction where his job description ended and he as a person started.
At half past seven the same evening Dominic finally came home- back, damn it. Even in Leland's head he sounded like he lived with them. Leland and Elise's tea of shepherd's pie and veggies were eaten and the dishes had been cleaned and put away. Elise was happily playing in her room doing God knows what little girls her age (and her type of personality) does.
Leland was in the living room, flicking randomly through the television channels and keeping an eye on the small clock sat on the bookshelf. The door shutting didn't have the violence Leland had expected when Dominic was in one of his foul moods. He liked to vent his feelings through causing destruction to innocent inanimate objects. It must make him fell better or something.
Leland immediately turned off the television and stood up just as Dominic walked into the room. The silence was almost painful in its awkwardness. They stared at each other, Leland wary and Dominic showing an unusual mix of embarrassment and frustration. If Leland was in more of a charitable mood towards his employer, he may have asked if Dominic was okay. Seeing as he wasn't, Leland only nodded curtly to him.
"Dinner is in the oven, all you have to do is heat it up. Elise has already had her and I have bathed her. You just need to say good night." He started to head for the door, but Dominic stopped him.
"Listen," he said uncertainly. "What I said on the phone earlier-"
"It doesn't matter." Leland quickly cut in.
Dominic shook his head and let his brief case fall to the floor by his feet. The sound was oddly jarring in the silence of the room. "I didn't mean the way it came out."
The way Dominic had worded that sentence irritated Leland. So he had truly meant those words. He was only apologetic for the way he had said it. Leland really wasn't in the mood for this conversation right now but Dominic obviously wasn't getting the message. "I said it doesn't matter. Besides, you didn't say anything that wasn't true."
Leland moved past Dominic to head out of the door. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Dominic's hand shot out and gripped Leland's arm, holding Leland in place. They were almost sharing the same breath they were so close. "You have to understand"," he said in low tones. "I shouldn't have said those things to you. I was out of line."
"Yeah, just a bit." Leland already felt himself wavering at the look on Dominic's face, the close proximity of their bodies, the pinched look to his eyes.
You're only the nanny.
"I'll see you in the morning." He finally said.
Leland gently but firmly pulled his arm out of Dominic's grip. "Listen, it's been a long day for the both of us. I'm tired, I just want to go home and get some sleep."
Dominic looked like he wanted to argue with him, but the expression on Leland's face must have stopped him from reaching out again. "Right. Okay. Tomorrow then."
Leland nodded and walked out of the living room. He grabbed his coat from the coat rack and shrugged it on before leaving the west wing to head for the front door.
Dominic didn't follow him.
"Okay, so what has crawled up your ass lately?"
Leland scowled over his shoulder at Nathan as Nathan crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the doorframe to Leland's bedroom. "Nothing has 'crawled up my ass', as you so delicately put it." He said sarcastically as he turned back to the book he had been reading at his desk.
Nathan made an exaggerated sound of agreement. "So that's the way it is."
Leland didn't bother turning around to face him again. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"You're acting like it's your time of the month because nothing has crawled up your ass. Or should I say thrust? Or-"
Leland nearly turned purple and he hissed through his clenched teeth. His head whipped around and he glared. "Excuse me?!"
Nathan waggled his eyebrows suggestively. "Not the right euphemism? How about fertilizing the flowerbeds? No? What about fuel injection, taking the love lug on the inbound love line, the in 'n' out, scream 'n' shout, harnessing the underwear unicorn, backing up the hard drive."
Leland stared at Nathan with a raised eyebrow for a few moments. "Wow. I didn't know you knew that many sexual euphemisms."
Nathan grinned. "Impressed?"
"I wouldn't call it impressed, as such, no. It's more like shocked. Disgusted. Perhaps a little weirded out by it. A what-the-hell type of moment." Leland replied, shutting his book.
"You're just jealous of my amazing sexual knowledge. It's like the Nile, it goes on and on and on."
Leland sighed. "You do talk the most random shit sometimes and the fact you just spewed a load of sexual euphemisms for heterosexual sex at a gay guy is kind of funny."
"I have to admit that I'm not exactly the most educated in gay-speak, seeing as I'm a straight guy myself." Nathan uncrossed his arms and pulled himself from the doorframe. "So, you want to tell me why you've been in such a damn mood for the past couple of days or are we going to dance around the subject?"
"I vote for the dance around the subject idea."
Nathan just gave him a pointed look.
Leland shrugged nonchalantly and turned in his seat to fully face Nathan. "It nothing, really. Just job stress."
"Yeah? Are things not so rosy in the Bosworth mansion?"
"I don't really want to talk about it." Leland answered. "I just want to forget about it."
Nathan watched Leland for a moment and then nodded his head. "Okay, if that's really what you want. But you know that I'm here for you if you want to talk about it and all that friend nonsense. Right?"
Leland nodded, smiling. "Is that how straight guys offer moral support?"
Nathan shrugged. "It's more of a pizza, six-pack, football session kind of thing. But we have to make allowances for you pansies."
Leland laughed. "Thanks Nathan."
"No problem. I'm about to head on over to the supermarket to get some milk and some culinary delights. Did you want anything?"
"Nah, I'm good."
"Alright then. See you in an hour or so." He waved over his head and headed downstairs, the front door slamming shut.
Leland let out the breath he had been holding. The last three days had been the hardest since he had started working for Dominic Bosworth. When he had come back to the house the morning after the incident, the atmosphere between the two was prickly to say the least. They were never in the same room together for very long, barely spoke above ten words to each other, and wouldn't enter the room unless they really had to.
Even Elise sensed that something had changed between them. She was quieter at home, watching the two of them with wide eyes and chewed her lips. Leland didn't want to distress Elise, but the girl was too perceptive for her own good. In her more mature moments, she acted like someone at least twice her age.
Sometimes, Leland just wished that last week had never happened in the first place.
Elise stood in front of Leland with her small hands on her hips, giving him the stink eye. Or, at least, trying to. It was too cute to be a glare. "Did Daddy do something naughty?"
Leland blinked down at her, utterly bewildered. "Naughty?"
She nodded firmly. "Did Daddy do something naughty to make you angry with him?"
Leland shifted uncomfortably under her scrutiny. "Your dad wasn't naughty."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "I don't believe you. You haven't been your usual self and Daddy has been sulking."
Leland got the sudden mental image of Dominic pouting and sat hunched in his office chair with his arms crossed dramatically in front of him. It would have been comical if it weren't for the fact that his nerves had been shot to hell. "It's just adult stuff, Elise. Nothing for you to worry about."
Elise made a face at him. "Adult stuff? You and daddy are acting like my friends at school when they have been told they aren't allowed another ten minutes of play time."
Leland wanted to protest at that comment, but he stopped himself from saying anything. In retrospect, they were acting like children with their cloak and dagger antics. "Sorry, Elise. It's just…complicated." He finished lamely.
"No it isn't." She reached up and grabbed a hold of his arm and began to yank him from her room and dragged him bodily down the stairs. Before he even realised it, they were outside of Dominic's office door. "You just have to make up and all will be fine again."
"Elise," he said in protest as he looked down at her upturned face. "I can't-"
"Please," she pleaded and gave him the most pitiful expression known to little girls across the whole of the world. "I want us to laugh again like we did before."
Well, how was he supposed to say no to that? "Okay, okay. I'll go talk to me. Just, no more puppy dog eyes, alright?"
She grinned up at him. "Okay!" She let go of his hand and knocked on the door for him before Leland could protest.
"Come in!" came the petulant voice of Dominic.
Leland was frozen to his spot, suddenly very aware of what he was supposed to do. All of his insecurities came rushing back and he felt like he wanted to bolt in the opposite direction. How did he get himself into these types of situations in the first place?
Elise made an impatient noise and opened the door for him before pushing him inside. For a little girl, she was surprisingly strong. He stumbled into the room and nearly took a nosedive to the floor. He managed to right himself at the last minute and straightened to look at the enquiring eyes staring at him from across the desk.
The door behind him slammed and Leland was sure he heard her giggle.
Feeling stupid for the way he entered the office, he gave a little wave. "Um, hi."
Dominic didn't say anything, just gave a vague nod, but he didn't go back to his work. Leland supposed that was a step in the right direction, at the very least.
He shifted awkwardly from foot to foot, his eyes flicking nervously from one side of the room to the other. His mind raced ahead of himself, trying to find a way to start the conversation that would be safe for them to try.
Surprisingly, it was Dominic that spoke first.
"I take it that Elise has spoken to you about our…behaviour." His lips curled up slightly at the word.
Leland couldn't help but smile back. "She did. I hadn't really thought of our behaviour in those terms, but children see things in only black and white."
"She certainly has a way with words." Dominic agreed, and paused before adding, "but she's right."
Leland found it difficult to meet his eyes. "We have been acting like children."
Dominic put his pen down and leaned back in his chair. "Do you want to sit down?"
Leland hesitated before nodding his head and sitting down in a chair opposite the desk. He settled himself down before Dominic spoke again. "I know you don't believe me when I say it, but I really am sorry for what I said to you. Truly, I am."
The earnestness in Dominic's face for a trace of any disingenuous feelings but he found none. Instead, he found that he couldn't look away. Leland hadn't noticed before how intense Dominic's eyes could be. They had that steady gaze that penetrated a person to their very moral fibre. Leland felt strongly disconcerted to face it. "I know that now." He said at last.
Leland wouldn't have guessed at the reaction his words would have wrought. Dominic's whole face had changed as a real smile touched his lips and relief shone through. "I'm glad."
Leland nodded and ducked his head, not knowing what to say to that.
Dominic went on. "I spoke out of turn, and I am sorry for that. I… I was angry that I had forgotten to pick Elise up from school. And livid that Alexia had got in contact with me."
It took Leland a while to understand the meaning of Dominic's words. Leland looked at him, surprise written all over his face. "Alexia? What did she want?" After the words had left his mouth, Leland wished he could take them back. It wasn't his business, he shouldn't have asked.
But Dominic didn't seem to be bothered by it. "To see Elise." Dominic stretched his legs out under the desk, an action that spoke nonchalance, but Leland could see in tense shoulders and his tight-lipped expression. "Why now I haven't got a bloody clue. It's been years."
Leland didn't know what to ask first, there were so many questions swimming around in his head. "Are you going to let her see Elise?" He asked.
Dominic was silent for a moment. If it were anyone else, Leland would have reached across the desk and grounded them with a comforting hand on the arm against the peculiar quality in the air. Instead, he stayed where he sat and tried to look as reassuring as possible.
Dominic finally spoke. "I don't know yet. If I had it my way, I would tell her to bugger off. I can't be certain that this new interest in her daughter is just some passing phase. I don't want Elise to get her hopes up only to have them crushed. Once was bad enough."
Leland nodded. "I can understand that."
Dominic suddenly drew closer to Leland with an open expression on his face. "What do you think I should do?"
Leland was almost struck speechless by the question. He would never have thought he would ask such a thing. But here they were, Dominic looking so earnestly at him and Leland felt that whatever he said would hold some substantial weight. The thought made Leland strangely light. "I'm not sure. I can't really say that I've been in this type of situation. But if I were in your shoes, I would let Elise decide on whether she wants to see her mother or not. If she decides she wants to then it should be under certain circumstances you lay down."
Dominic frowned. "Let her choose?"
Leland nodded. "It is, after all, her mother. Elise has the right to know, don't you think?"
Dominic leaned back in his seat. "You're right. I'll see what Elise wants to do."
Leland grinned. "Intelligent as she is, she'll probably give you an essay on the advantages and disadvantages of seeing her mother again."
Dominic laughed, the thread of tension that had been there for the past few days finally snapping. "So are we okay?" he asked.
"We are okay." Leland answered.
And Leland had never meant such truer words.
To Be Continued.
Sorry for the delay in this chapter, fictionpress wouldn't allow me to upload this chapter yesterday. Again, a very big thank you to everyone who reviewed the last chapter, I can't tell you guys how much I appreciate it.
See you guys in two weeks!