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The Au Pair (paperback) by Anna Dowdall

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  • The Ashley Smeeton Files

    It’s not all fun and games for Ashley Smeeton, in her mid-twenties and trying to run a private investigation agency in Montreal despite a temporary cash flow problem. She’s as surprised as anyone when she agrees to take a summer au pair job in the scenic Laurentian Mountains.

    Montreal might be enduring a heat wave, but at Columbine Lodge, occupied by a few generations of immensely wealthy Sampsons, things are heating up as well. Between the mystery that surrounds four-year-old Meade and her complicated mother Layla, and the lingering mood of past suffering in the old lodge, Ashley quickly becomes intrigued. The uneasy atmosphere of her idyllic surroundings intensifies when people unexpectedly begin to die.

    With a capricious little girl in her charge, Ashley’s got her work cut out for her...but the urge to uncover the dark secrets of Columbine Lodge proves irresistible.

    Rating: non-romance Adult Content
    Page Count: 248
    Word Count: 63701
    978-1-5092-1736-6 Paperback
    978-1-5092-1737-3 Digital

    Excerpt

    “Shut up. Like you read newspapers.” Suddenly Nico gave her a sly look. “Smeeton—if you need short term cash, you should take one of these jobs. You have experience—didn’t you look after Roy when you were a teenager?”

    “Roy?” Her brother was six years younger than her. While she’d done her best to avoid babysitting, her mother had roped her in on a regular basis. “With Roy, sure, I had to. But who the hell wants to earn five bucks an hour looking after someone else’s kids?”

    Five bucks an hour? Where did you get that idea?”

    “It’s what my mother paid me.”

    He laughed pityingly, pulled out his smart phone. “You can make a hell of lot more money than that. Let me just prove it to you.”

    Ashley poured them both more beer. “Prove away.”

    “Where would you like me to look? There’s Nanny World, Au Pairs Are Us, Canadian Nanny, The Au Pair Agency. That’s the one we used it’s for sellers and buyers. I’ve bookmarked a bunch.”

    “And you worry about me.”

    “Okay, I bookmarked this one, because it was crazy. It’s in the Laurentians, near Sainte Anne des Collines. They’re looking for a qualified au pair for the summer, until the end of August. You would live in, let’s see…two days off a week, your own suite with bathroom and kitchen. What else…swimming pool on the property, no household duties. Are you listening? One child, a girl, aged four.”

    “Sounds amazing. How am I qualified?”

    “Think, hostie! You’re a Bachelor of Social Work, you can say you’ve undertaken additional public safety training, you have advanced First Aid and CPR. Mixed martial arts experience—well maybe not mention that one. Weren’t you once a camp counsellor?”

    That was a horrible experience. How much?”

    “This is why I bookmarked it. Eight hundred bucks a week.”

    “Is that high? Woah, that’s really not bad.”

    “Damn right it’s not bad.”

    For the first time in the conversation, Ashley was paying attention. “That’s a lot of money. And free food… Would you have to pay income tax on that?”

    “What sort of question is that to ask a law enforcement professional?”

    Ashley smirked thoughtfully. “Sounds like one of those gray zones to me.” She pursed her well-shaped lips. “There’s bound to be a catch.”

    “You’ve been doing that thing with your lips since you were nine, you know. It’s probably in the middle of nowhere, that’s the catch.”

    “No, a worse catch.”

    “What sort of catch?”

    “How would I know?”

    Nico made a fulsomely clucking sound. “Somebody’s chicken.”

    “You sound like Madame Rossi’s Crocs.”

    “The truth of Crocs hurts.” He held out his smart phone. “I dare you to call the number. What do you have to lose?”

    “What, right now, from the bar?”

    “It’s quiet in here tonight—they wouldn’t know.” He leaned across. “Madame Rossi could drop dead of a heart attack any time chasing you for unpaid rent, and then how would you feel?”

    “Geez, Latendresse!” But the exact same thought had been gnawing at Ashley’s conscience. She scowled. “I have my own phone.”

    The voice at the other end was young, female, neutral. There was the introductory rigmarole. The speaker said her name was Layla. She gave a brief description of the job, explained that she had some type of big professional exam at the end of the summer and needed help with her kid. Meade—what sort of name was that?—was “a good kid.”

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The Au Pair (paperback)

The Au Pair (paperback)

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