Carrie can’t wait to kick off her babysitting job at the Cannons. The pay was good—no, good was an understatement. The pay was generous, and Mrs. Cannon sounded really nice over the phone. For Carrie, a person can’t have too much of a good thing. In babysitting, it was either the pay was great but the people were awful, or the people were great but the pay sucked big time. The forces of the universe seemed to nod in her favor this time, and she was thrilled to be getting the best of both worlds in her babysitting.
She turned at the corner and came to the sight of a bright-red door, just as Mrs. Cannon said she would. Carrie went toward the house with a slight spring in her step. She looked up and glanced all around her. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and she was going to her great-paying babysitting job. Oh, this was the life!
Carrie rang the bell. A second later, the door swung open and out stepped a severe-looking woman whom Carrie supposed was Mrs. Cannon. This she knew from their conversation on the phone.
“When people see me the first time, they automatically think I’m ready to bite their heads off,” Mrs. Cannon had said with a chuckle. “Just to warn you, Carrie, I look scary, but looks can only go so far. Don’t worry, I won’t be in a biting mood when you come over.” She chuckled again.
“Um, Mrs. Cannon?” Carrie said tentatively. She remembered all too well the conversation they had on the phone.
The woman standing outside the bright-red door had jet-black hair, pale blue eyes, and green-rimmed glasses. Her forehead was clear and her mouth relaxed, but there was something in her that hinted of severity and a fierce nature. Even with the sun shining brightly outside, Carrie had to admit she felt like the woman could bite her head off whenever she wished to do so.
The pink mouth suddenly broke into a grin, and Carrie felt herself relax.
“You must be Carrie!” the woman said warmly. “Come in, come in! I’m Amanda Cannon, the one you spoke with on the phone? Thank God you were able to come in such short notice.” She stepped inside the house, motioning for Carrie to do the same. “Things are still quite crazy around here. We moved in two weeks ago, as I told you on the phone, but there’s still so much to do.” She laughed. “If I’d known things would be this hectic, I would’ve remained in Arizona!”
“Oh, don’t worry, Mrs. Cannon,” Carrie hurriedly assured her. “I’m sure you’ll get settled down in no time. Besides, I’m here to help you do so.” She flashed her best babysitter grin—the one that no parent in his or her right mind can resist—at Mrs. Cannon. Despite the severe appearance, Carrie had taken an immediate liking to the woman. She wanted to make sure things will go as smoothly as possible for Mrs. Cannon.
Mrs. Cannon caught the power of Carrie’s grin and smiled back just as dazzlingly. “Thank you, dear. I’d love to stay and chat, of course, but I’ve got an appointment, and I don’t think Mr. Burke is too keen on being made to wait by his clients.” She glanced at her silver watch.
“Not a problem, Mrs. Cannon,” Carrie replied. “I understand. I’m ready to begin my babysitting duties when you are.”
“Great!” Mrs. Cannon said happily. “Well, I better call Robert. He’s in his room, probably sorting through his comic book collection. Wait a sec, I’ll go get him.” She went off and up the stairs.
Carrie sat down on a purple sofa that felt as comfortable as it looked. She was feeling better and better about this job. She congratulated herself for deciding not to hang out with her best buds Fiona and Saab that day. If she did, she would’ve missed Mrs. Cannon’s call and this babysitting job.
Mrs. Cannon came bounding down the stairs. “Wouldn’t you believe it? Robert has fallen asleep!” She shook her head. “That little guy. Must be all that fixing we did yesterday.” She shook her head again. “I’m sorry, Carrie, but it seems like you and Robert need to take care of your intros on your own.” She picked a brown purse from the table. “Gosh, I badly need to run! You’ll be okay, won’t you?” She eyed Carrie thoughtfully. “Don’t worry, Robert knew you’ll be coming along today, so he won’t be surprised to find you somewhere in the house.”
Carrie chuckled. “Yeah, that was what I was worried about. But don’t worry, Mrs. Cannon, I’ve got everything under control.” She beamed. “You go on and do whatever it is you have to do now. I’ll take care of Robert and everything.”
“Just the words I wanted to hear!” Mrs. Cannon exclaimed. “Well, I really got to run now. I’ll see you in a few hours, Carrie! And thanks!” She gave a grateful smile and was out the door in a matter of seconds.
As soon as the door clicked shut, Carrie let out a breath. “Well, this is it,” she told the empty house. “What do I do now?” She thought of going upstairs and sneaking a glance at Robert, just to have an idea of what he looks like, then thought against it. The boy might waken to the sight of her creeping around in his bedroom, and she could bid any chances of having a good babysitter bond with him good-bye. Carrie decided to hang out in the living room and watch some television instead.
She found a channel she liked, one of those fashion-themed shows that always roused her curiosity and interest. She was starting to get into the zone and was beginning to curl up comfortably on the couch when she heard someone go down the stairs. Carrie tensed and sat upright. The footsteps sounded too big and heavy to belong to the five-year-old boy that was Robert. Mrs. Cannon didn’t mention anyone else being in the house. Who could be making those noises?
Carrie was about to get up and investigate when a blonde girl came into sight. She looked to be about eighteen, the same age as Carrie. She was tall, had blue eyes as pale as Mrs. Cannon’s, and had a build that could give any Victoria’s Secret model a run for her money.
She’s gorgeous, Carrie thought, and a shiver ran up and down her spine.
The girl spoke up first. “You must be the babysitter.” She had a voice as soft as cotton, but there was something steely and commanding beneath the soft exterior.
“Yes. I just got here,” Carrie answered. “I’m Carrie.”
The girl shook her head. “Bet she didn’t tell you I was around.”
Carrie didn’t know the answer to that, so she said nothing.
The girl must have sensed her discomfort because she suddenly broke into laughter. “Hey, it’s okay. Don’t worry about it. Mom didn’t know I was home, anyway.”
“Your Mrs. Cannon’s daughter?” Carrie asked stupidly.
“Bingo!” the girl exclaimed. “She didn’t tell you she had a daughter, huh? See, it’s like this. I was supposed to be away at some music camp, but I got bored in there. Too many people, too little action. So I snuck out and went back here.” She shrugged. “I planned on telling her last night, but I fell asleep. When I woke up, she was gone and you’re here.”
“You missed her by a hairline,” Carrie said. “She went out only a few minutes ago.”
The girl shrugged again. “I’ll tell her when she gets back home.” She paused. “Oh, I haven’t told you my name. I’m Laarni.” The girl held out her hand.
“Hi, Laarni. I’m Carrie.” Carrie took the other girl’s hand and was surprised at how strong the other girl’s grip was.
“Nice name. What are you watching?” Laarni sat down beside Carrie.