After hanging up the call, Russel came to tell me, “Something urgent came up at the hospital. I need to head out.”
I nodded subtly, watching as Russel left.
“Ms. Finch, we need to get Serena and Brandon their vaccinations today,” Norah reminded me as she walked in.
“Right, I almost forgot. Norah, you stay home and look after Yara, and I’ll take Serena and Brandon,” I slapped my forehead, almost forgetting this important task.
Norah seemed a bit worried, “Ms. Finch, are you sure you can handle it alone?”
I was getting the hang of it and my confidence level was rising when it came to taking care of the kids.
“It’s fine, Yara doesn’t need her shots today, no need to bring her along. Just remember, Norah, don’t let Mitch in,” I reminded Norah as I gathered the necessary paperwork for the vaccinations.
Norah nodded, “I understand.”
Once everything was ready, I packed the documents, settled Serena and Brandon in the car and set off for the hospital.
This was my first time taking two kids to get vaccinated by myself. Even though I was confident before leaving, I found myself a bit overwhelmed once we arrived at the hospital.
The two little ones cried out in pain during the shots, and their cries were heart-wrenching. If I consoled one, the other would cry, and vice versa. “Don’t cry, Serena, Mommy will hold you soon!” After comforting Brandon, I rushed to hold Serena.
But the moment I put Brandon down, he immediately started crying again, with a pout on his face.
I was pushing the stroller through the hospital lobby, feeling like a headless chicken.
“Little ones!” Suddenly, Hiram’s voice appeared. He was holding an airplane toy, leaning over the stroller, amusing Brandon, “Here’s a plane; it’s fun!” Brandon was attracted by Hiram’s voice; he stopped crying and started looking around curiously.
I must say, Hiram’s appearance was timely and effective.
He kept talking to Brandon with the toy, even singing some songs, distracting him completely from crying…
I finally managed to soothe Serena and put her back in the stroller.
As I bent down, I noticed a wound on Hiram’s cheek. It looked serious, like he had taken a fall.
“Hiram, how did you get that wound?” I asked in surprise, “Where are your parents? Why are you alone?”
Hiram touched his injured cheek, flinching in pain. As he was about to answer, Neil’s voice echoed from behind.
Hiram immediately ran towards Neil, hugging his thigh, “Daddy!”
I turned around to see Neil holding some medication, probably just collected.
I asked worriedly, “What happened to Hiram? His face looks terrible.”
What kind of parents are Neil and Karina?
“He fell off his skateboard and hit his face,” Neil explained, bending down to pick up Hiram, “Does it hurt?”
Hiram, hugging Neil’s neck, shook his head obediently, “No, Daddy. I won’t go down the stairs on the skateboard again. Can you not tell Mommy?”
I got the feeling that Hiram was more afraid of Karina.
The look of helplessness and concern in Neil’s eyes as he looked at Hiram’s wound was genuine. “Even if I don’t tell your Mommy, she’ll find out.”
“Okay then, I’ll apologize to Mommy myself when we get home, so she won’t be angry,” Hiram agreed surprisingly maturely.
I wasn’t sure if Karina would be angry, but I was certain Ryan and Faith would be, seeing Hiram in this state.
But that wasn’t my business.
As I was ready to leave with the stroller, Neil called out to me, “What brings you to the hospital with the kids? Are they sick?”
“Getting vaccinated,” I replied, “Serena and Brandon are healthy. They don’t fall sick easily.”
Neil glanced at the two little ones in the stroller. His gaze was gentle, although not as affectionate as when he looked at Hiram.
Suddenly, he put Hiram down, “I have a condition.”
“What?” I asked in surprise. I knew he was referring to the condition I had agreed to earlier, but I didn’t expect him to bring it up at this moment.
“I have a meeting to attend, and Karina has an interview at the new hospital. Can you look after Hiram at your place for a while? I’ll pick him up after the meeting,” Neil sounded serious.
Norah and I already had our hands full with three babies, and now Neil wanted to add more to our plate?
Especially Hiram. Although he was well-behaved at the moment, that was in front of Neil. I couldn’t guarantee he’d be the same at my place.
If he managed to upset all three kids, I might lose my mind.
“You’re not willing?” Neil could tell I was hesitant.
Of course, I was. I wasn’t a professional nanny.
Before I could answer, he raised an eyebrow. “This condition doesn’t violate your terms, does it? Are you going back on your word?”
“No,” I blurted out. In fact, the condition was quite simple. It was just that I was already overwhelmed, and I wasn’t sure I could handle more.
“Then I’ll leave him with you. I’ll be there to pick him up around three,” Neil nonchalantly left Hiram with me.
Hiram looked at Neil, then at me, and finally tugged at my sleeve with a cute smile, “Don’t worry, Ms. Finch. I’m a good boy.”
1 had never seen Hiram being a good boy before, and it only made my head spin.
“What about his grandparents?” I suddenly remembered Ryan and Faith. With them around, why would I need to take care of Hiram?
“They had to go back to Springvale for some urgent matters. They’ll be back in a couple of days,” Neil’s answer made my head spin even more.
What a coincidence!
Just then, Neil’s phone rang. It was his assistant reminding him about his upcoming meeting. He glanced at Hiram and me, gestured with his eyes, and strode out of the hospital.
Hiram and I exchanged a look, both feeling a bit speechless.
The child of my ex-husband and his old flame was now my responsibility for a few hours. No matter how I looked at it, it felt strange.
But it was at this point, and the kid was already handed over to me, I couldn’t possibly neglect him.
“Hiram, let’s get going,” I said, sounding more resigned than I’d intended to.
Hiram nodded, his hopeful eyes on me. “Ms. Finch, do you have a video game console at your place?”
His question sent a wave of unease through me. Hiram was pretty hooked to video games, but his mother, Karina, always set strict time limits for him, worried about straining his eyes.
Now that the boy was my responsibility, should I allow him to play? What if he exceeds the allotted time?
“Yes.” I suddenly found myself relenting. After all, if Neil dared to entrust his kid to me, he’d have to face the risks of my potentially inadequate supervision.
As long as I could keep Hiram calm and occupied until Neil would come to pick him up, I’d consider my job done.