Nic watched with amusement. Clearly, the older woman was just relieved not to have a screaming child in her arms any longer, but all Josie was worried about was soothing the woman’s feelings that the baby preferred a family friend to his own grandmother when he was most upset. Mama K just sighed and headed back out to the porch. Nic resumed drying the dishes, and Josie returned to the sink, but only to lean her back against it, while she held Nate, still comforting him, stroking and kissing the little red curls on his head, and patting his behind. The boy remained alert and awake, but gradually his tense muscles loosened and drooped, one of his legs flopped, and the hand firmly gripping Josie’s hair finally released.“He is unusually attached to you.”“Attached, yes. Unusual? I don’t think so. He’s just used to having me around. The twins were still really little when he came along, and twins, as you can imagine, are very demanding. Especially those little girls. I mean, it was just boobs, boobs, boobs, twenty-four-seven.” Nic laughed out loud, and then Josie did, too. “Oh, but I’m serious. Poor Maggie. And then to find out she was pregnant again so soon…” Josie looked up in her head and muttered, “Shawn—horny b*stard.” Nic quirked an eyebrow at her, and her hand flew to her mouth. “Oh, I didn’t mean to say that out loud.”Nic had to fight not to laugh again. Boobs, twenty-four-seven. Horny b*stard. Being around Josie was like putting on your favorite old pair of slippers.“Anyhow, there was no way Maggie could handle all three kids with Shawn gone to work all day. He’s a great dad and all, but he works really long hours, and it was just a zoo around here, so I came to help. I pretty much moved in for the first six months of Nate’s life.” She touched the boy’s cheek gently, and he pulled his thumb out of his mouth to clasp onto her fingers. “Granted, I’m not much use in the kitchen or the laundry or whatever, but what these guys need, I got.” She lifted the boy up, so they were face to face, and grinned at him, wrinkling up her nose. He reached gleefully toward her face, then snagged one of the bright purple earrings she was wearing. “Ooh, oh, ouch! Honey, Aunt Jo needs that ear. Sweetie, let go, please…”Nic quickly set down the drying and turned to them. He gently lifted the hook out of Josie’s ear, leaving the earring in Nate’s hand. “Is it all right if he has it?”“As long as he doesn’t poke it in his eye.” She lowered him so he sat around her waist while he played with it.“But how did you work while you helped Maggie with the children?”She tipped her head slightly, “Oh, I just cut down on my contracts for a while…way down.” She seemed far away for a moment, then came back, “I’d been working too much. I needed a break.”“You were not worried about your business, or your reputation…”“No. I’m good at what I do. I figured they’d call back, and most of them have. The ones that haven’t—” She shrugged. “Their loss. Besides, what’s more important?” She looked straight at him.“The family, of course.”“You agree?”“Completely.” He smiled, then intercepted the earring just as Nate was about to shove it up his nose.Nic nodded to himself—question answered. Five hundred points to the little lady in the t-shirt and sarong. It would be a cold day in hell before Linda Coleridge put family before work. And a bitterly freezing one before she shrugged her shoulders at the thought of losing a client over a friend’s child care needs. Hey, wait a minute—Linda Coleridge? Linda Remedian! He hadn’t thought of his ex by her maiden name in years…Nic picked up the towel again. Wasn’t there something else that needed drying?