Today's Reading

Okay. The other woman was a bit younger—but only by a few years. Maybe there was a softness to her that Selena lacked, a freshness. But she was nothing special. In fact, Geneva's just-slightly-above-average looks were a point that Selena had taken into consideration when hiring her as a nanny. Geneva was a reasonably attractive, smart, personable career childcare professional with a long list of glowing references. She was no bombshell. No blushing twentysomething with glossed lips and inappropriately placed tattoos she would later regret. Most women, Selena included, knew better than to bring some nubile hottie into her home on a regular basis. It just wasn't good business.

Besides, Geneva was known to Selena—coveted, in fact. They'd met on the playground during Selena's first year home with the boys. Work, the commute, the race to pick up from preschool, the balancing act that never quite balanced. It had worn her to a nub. She and her husband Graham decided that she should stay home for a time—indefinitely. They could afford that—Graham made good money. There wouldn't be Range Rovers and trips to Tahoe every spring break. But they would be fine.

Selena had loved the way Geneva was with the Tucker boys, Ryan and Chad. She was sweet but firm, prepared but not anal. The boys listened to her. Eyes on me, she'd say brightly, and so it was. Geneva wasn't like the other nannies Selena observed at the park—millennials staring at their phones while their charges ran amok or stared at devices of their own. Geneva chased, pushed swings, played hide-and-seek.

And, you know, she was not that hot.

Lovely features—a button nose and full lips, dark, heavily lashed doe eyes, buxom but just the tiniest bit—pleasantly—plump. Broad in the beam, as her father used to say. In a nice way, the way of strong women built for physical labor. Selena was long and slim, a genetic boon for which she was grateful because god knows she didn't have the time anymore to work for it.

Now, she turned up the volume a little, listened to them groaning. Did it sound—forced?

Selena remembered how she and Geneva had chatted almost daily. Selena's boys—Oliver and Stephen—loved her. Is Geneva going to be there? Oliver, her older, sometimes asked as they were headed to the park. Probably, Selena would answer, wishing that she had someone like Geneva, even just part-time. Someone with whom she felt good about leaving her children. But she was happy enough to be home. She didn't miss her publicity job. She'd never had that drive to accomplish that so many of her friends seemed to have. She just wasn't wired that way. She liked working—the independence of it, the comradery, the satisfaction of doing something well. The money. But it had never defined her.

Graham: "Oh, yeah. That's so good."

She bumped the volume down again. Picked up one of the framed pictures of the boys, holding it up so that it blocked the screen, and gazed into their flushed, joyful faces.

Motherhood defined Selena in a way that work hadn't, the idea that she was there for her children—that she cooked their meals and kept their house, their schedules, their doctor appointments and haircuts. That she was there on car line, at parent-teacher conferences, school Halloween parties. It wasn't sexy. It wasn't always easy. There wasn't a ton of cultural praise for the role, not really. But she found a level of satisfaction in it that she hadn't found elsewhere.

Then Graham unexpectedly—well, did anyone ever expect it?—lost his job. Not his fault, really. Publishing was shrinking, and his big salary was hard to justify in a flailing self-help imprint. That very same week, over cocktails, Selena's good friend Beth serendipitously offered her a huge job—a licensing director position at Beth's literary agency. Selena's salary would be more than Graham's, plus bonuses. Of course, there would have to be a nanny. Because Graham, well, he wasn't exactly hardwired for caregiving. And finding a job is a full-time job, babe.

So, it felt like kismet when during a chat at the park—the very next day, when Selena was grappling for solutions to their problem—Geneva told Selena that she was about to lose her job. Mrs. Tucker wanted to be home for a couple of years, she said.

When things were easy like that, it meant you were in the flow, didn't it? Isn't that what they said these days? It made it easy for Selena to go back to work. It wasn't necessarily what she wanted. But you did what you had to do, right? Graham would find another job. It wasn't forever—though the money was nice.

The way the camera was positioned, Selena had the best view of Geneva—who apparently liked to be on top. Was it Selena's imagination? Geneva didn't seem that into it. Though from the look on her face and the movement of her lips, she was surely making all the appropriate noises.

On the other video feed from the downstairs camera, the boys were slack-jawed in front of Trollhunters. They were both scrubbed clean, fed, and in their jammies, waiting for Selena.
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