Home for the Holidays
The next morning it was off to the mall and they all went, much to Toni’s surprise. It was going to be a madhouse on Christmas Eve and she dreaded it, but with the whole family going it just might be fun.
Once in the parking lot Max handed Jack a credit card, “Happy Christmas, Jack.”
Jack looked at the plastic card, he knew what it was, he’d seen the others use them, but this one had his name on it. “It’s mine?”
“Yes it is, you always have a time with money when you come, so I thought I’d get you a card.”
“American Express,” Jack read, “I’m not an American.” He looked up at Max.
“I should have got you a MasterCard,” he grinned and slapped him on the back, “it spends, Jack.”
John was giving his boys some terse instructions about behavior and consequences while Donna unfolded the stroller from the trunk for Claire.
Toni noticed the exchange, “Terry we should have thought about that a long time ago.”
“Max has come through at last, good for him. I assume he’s picking up the bill when it comes.” Terry set Jacky’s stroller down and plopped him in buckling it good and snug around him.
“That sounded a little Scroogey to me,” Toni locked the car.
“Somebody has to play the part, are we all assembled and ready to attack?” he asked looking around the group.
“Let’s do it,” John laughed.
Aubrey took charge of Maxi’s stroller and got in line with Terry and John, who were also pushing babies.
Max took Jack in a men’s store and outfitted him. “I’ll never wear all this, Max, what will I do with it all?”
“You’ve got something for most any occasion, Jack; I would suggest you leave it with Toni when you go back. She’ll get it to you wherever you appear next and need it.”
Jack handed the clerk his plastic card, all he had to do was sign his name, which he did with a flourish, and took his bags.
Terry took him into a shop and bought him two pieces of luggage and made sure he filled out the name tag while standing in the store, he used their London address. “Canvas is okay when you can carry it, Jack, but airlines are getting funny about that now, it’s best to check it when you get your ticket.”
“Thank you, Terry.” Jack gave him a look and packed his recent purchases in the luggage to carry though the mall. “I begin to feel like a small child being taken around by his elders.”
“You do very well, mate to get around as you do in this world.”
Jack took a breath, “There are more people here today than in all of England.” He always had a hard time with the noise and pace of life out here.
“You’re not to follow me in here,” Connie turned on Max as she was about to enter Victoria’s Secret.
“That’s right, no men allowed,” Toni looked at Terry who grinned at her.
“It’s an eye candy store mates, spend lots,” he winked.
“Donna ,I’m taking the boys down to that toy store on the corner, meet you there,” he gave her a kiss and set off.
“Toys, well why not,” Aubrey followed him with Maxi.
“He can’t even see a toy yet,” Max narrowed his eyes, “he already has a room full at his Papa’s.”
“I like toys, let’s take Jacky.” And so Terry and Max also went to the toy store.
Jack hesitated looking at the window displays at Victoria’s Secret. He smiled to himself, eye candy indeed. He decided to wait for the girls.
He smiled when they came out laden with bags, “The boys have followed the children to the toy store, I waited for you. I like this store better, did any of you get one of those?” He nodded his head toward a merry widow.
“You’ll just have to wonder won’t you, does she or doesn’t she have that on underneath her sweats?” Toni laughed and took his arm.
“I got one of these,” Connie showed the barest bit of lace over the edge of a bag.
“And I got one of these,” Donna did the same thing teasing him.
“Ladies, you embarrass me.”
Toni laughed out loud.
Max, John and Terry were spelling each other in the toy store while one at a time they dashed over to the jewelry store across the aisle. It was Terry’s turn with kids, Max wasn’t back yet and John had just left. Aubrey was showing Jacky and John’s youngest how to work a mechanical toy down the aisle.
“Jacky’s out of his stroller?” Toni looked at Terry wide eyed.
“You couldn’t keep him in it in here, luv. I got him the Thomas the Train set he wants, it’s up at the counter being wrapped. Max got him the ride on train thing we’ll have to make a run to the car before he sees it all.”
“Where’s Claire?” Donna asked seeing her empty stroller.
“John took her with him, he’ll be back in a tick.”
“Oh lets go buy for Claire…girly things,” Toni and Connie went around the aisle looking for pink things.
Jack, seeing John in the Jewelry store, walked in and slowly moved around the counters, he saw something that caught his eye, it was an aquamarine ring bringing back memories of the one he gave Toni, the one and only season they had together, when he’d married her for eternity. He bought the ring.
“What did you buy?” John had several things on the counter he was buying, one a small gold locket for Claire.
“I bought a ring for Toni ,you don’t think that’s inappropriate do you?”
“Not if you want to give it to her, I got this for her,” it was a necklace, two entwined hearts with diamonds. “It reminded me of something.” He signed the receipt.
Jack looked at him a moment, “yes, I know…”
Max came up to them already having paid for his, “Are we all doing the same thing?”
“What do you mean?” John asked him.
“I saw all the rings as I’m sure you did too. I couldn’t get her the eternity ring because Terry just bought it, but I found this,” he pulled out another ring with three diamonds, “it’s a yesterday, today and tomorrow ring so the saleslady tells me.”
“Very nice, Max, and very true.” Jack looked at it admiring the sparkle. “Colored diamonds on the side.”
“Hmm, I got Donna earrings and Connie a diamond tennis bracelet. I may have to go back to London and make some money.” Max bit his lip.
“Oh yeah right like you’re hurting,” John pocketed his purchases.
“I like to keep a certain level of comfort. Are we all done here?”
“I’m sure Terry is hoping we are,” John walked back across to the toy store with Max following.
Jack lingered a little longer and bought gold bracelets for Donna and Connie. He liked buying jewelry. A rose gold locket caught his eye, it was a timeless piece and therefore he could take it with him for Sophie. He even had it engraved, ‘with all my heart J.A.’, she would like that.
The girls took the kids to the food court so the guys could load the cars. Aubrey went with the girls to help keep up with Mikey and Josh. But once they had food in front of them they were fine.
“Have you bought anything, Dad?” Connie asked.
“Bought toys for all the kids, they’re all great fun. Jacky and Claire get on well.”
Toni had noticed the same thing, they played together much better than kids that age should, she wondered a little about that. Could Claire be touched with magic too?
Donna had noticed, “She plays better with him than she does with the kids at the play center we take her to a few days a week. Her brothers are too old and play too rough.”
Toni made a mental note to ask her about Claire…when they could talk.
“What else do we need to buy?” Connie asked.
“I need to find something for Terry and Munchie.”
“I need to shop for Max too although I have no idea what to get him, he has everything.”
“So does Terry, but I do know of a book he wants so I’ll get that and then I don’t know, guys are so hard to shop for. They buy what they need and don’t usually want things like we do.”
“What about Jack, should we get him something?” Donna asked.
“We should,” Connie agreed.
“That’s a little difficult, it has to be something he can take back with him or consume.” Toni said.
“Mike wants to go play the machines okay if I go with him?” Aubrey asked.
“Sure if you have the quarters.” Donna leaned back talking around Connie. “I swear I think he’s going to be in the gaming business he’s all tech toys right now, we’ve got him a laptop for Christmas.”
“Oh well we got him some new games that just came out this season for his X Box.” Toni hoped that was okay.
“He’ll love it.”
“Toni I don’t think your tree is going to hold everything that was bought today, we brought gifts from France too.”
“We have three trees, somehow it will work.” She smiled feeling happy.
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