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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Best Selling Toy Of The Season Excerpt 2


On November 7 I posted part 1 of Chapter 1 in my Christmas novel The Best Selling Toy Of The Season. Today, I'd like to post part 2. If you like the book, it's available at http://www.midnightshowcase.com

For a minute Tommy couldn't remember what he wanted.

“Cat got your tongue?” the young woman cheerfully inquired. “You look familiar. Do I know you?”

“I…don’t know, I mean, I don’t think so,” Tommy floundered, mentally kicking himself for allowing a beautiful woman to reduce him to the level of a gauche freshman.

“Well, what do you want? I’m too busy to just stand here and talk. You aren’t trying to pick me up are you? You’re tall, dark, and handsome as they say, but I’ve sworn off men. Every time I get involved with one it turns out bad. Your hair is as black as can be. You don’t dye it, do you?”

“Uh, no, I don’t dye it.”

“You won’t tell me what you want, so I’ll have to guess. You look like you might be an athlete, so I expect you want sporting goods. Follow this red line on the floor, and it’ll take you where you want to go.”

“No,” Tommy replied hastily. “That isn’t it. I want a gag gift.”

“Let me think.”

Tommy waited in silence for a moment or two. “I know just the thing,” she assured him. Follow me.”

She led Tommy to the lingerie department that didn’t please him at all. It embarrassed him to look at underwear with a beautiful woman.

She went down aisle five and selected a box from the shelf. “Here you go. This is a perfect gag gift unless you’re going to a church party. It might be a little over the top for church. Not that I think it’s bad myself, but ministers might. What do you think?”

“I don’t know what it is so it’s hard to have an opinion,” Tommy pointed out.

The girl handed him the box. “It’s a passion meter. You hold the round glass part in your hand, and your body heat causes the red liquid to rise in this little tube. You know; like mercury in a thermometer, but see on the side here? It tells you what kind of lover you are based on how far your body heat makes the liquid rise. Take it
out of the box and try it.”

“I don’t need to do that.”

“Oh, you might as well. Don’t you want to know?”

Well…

The woman removed the device from the box and handed it to him. “Wrap your hand around the glass bulb.”

Tommy did as she instructed. Suddenly the liquid boiled and shot
straight to the top of the glass tube.

“Look at you,” the woman laughed. “You measured red hot super
stud.”

Tommy’s face turned a color very similar to the red liquid, and a
fit of laughter so intense that she had to hold the shelf for support
seized his lovely companion. “You’re awfully shy, aren’t you? I guess you weren’t trying to pick me up after all. Is there anything more that I can show you?”

“No, but thank you for helping me.” Why did she have to laugh at him? No man wanted a beautiful woman to make fun of him.

“Merry Christmas,” she said and bustled away.

Tommy glanced at his watch; he was going to be late. He hurried to the checkout line, and there time stood still. Every register had an enormous line, and it took forever to check out even one customer.

Finally, his turn came. He thankfully paid for his gag gift and joined the throngs of people either going out or coming in. He saw Bill English and lifted his hand to wave goodbye, but he didn’t see the woman in front of him until he plowed into her. Both he and the young woman who had helped him find his gift went sprawling to the
floor. Something in her bag broke with a loud crash when Tommy’s
knee smashed into it.

All the Super Mart employees in the vicinity came running, including Bill English. “Are you guys okay?”

“I’m fine,” Tommy assured him as visions of lawsuits danced in his head. “Ma’am, are you okay?”

To his horror, the young woman burst into tears. “You’ve ruined everything! Teddy and Michael are going to be so disappointed, and I guess they’ll stop believing in Santa Claus, but you don’t care.”

She jerked her bag toward her and held out two broken toys for Tommy to see. “These robots are all that my boys asked for this year. I put them on layaway back in September, and I finished paying for them today. They’re the best selling toy of the season. You can’t find them anywhere, and now you’ve broken mine.”

She shot Tommy a look of bitter enmity. Wiping the tears from her cheeks, she scrambled to her feet and stalked out of the store.

“Be ashamed,” lectured one of the customers. “You ruined her boys’ Christmas.”

“Yeah,” a man in the crowd contributed. “You could at least have offered to pay for it.”

The Super Mart employee nodded their agreement. “Look at the way he’s dressed. He’s got money to burn. He won’t even pay for Nikki’s loss, and it was all his fault.”

The crowd drifted away, and Bill picked up Tommy’s bag and handed it to him. “It was an accident, Tommy. I know you didn’t mean to do it.”

“Who was that woman? I’ll go back to the toy department and buy two more robots to replace the ones I broke. Give me her name and address, and I’ll have them sent to her tonight.”

Bill shook his head. “She told you the truth. Everybody’s sold out of those little robots. You can’t buy them anywhere.”

A look of determination came to rest on Tommy’s face. If Bill had ever seen Tommy in court, he would have recognized it immediately. Many of Tommy’s legal opponents shivered when this expression crossed his face, for as one of them put it, ‘A rottweiller would turn a steak loose quicker than he’d give up when he looks like
that.’

“You let me worry about finding the toys. What’s her name and address?”

“Her name is Nikki Lane, and she lives in trailer number five in Higgins Court.”

“Nikki Lane. Isn’t she Dan Wakefield’s cousin?”

“Yeah, she is.”

“I thought so. Dan trains my horse, and he asked me to get her no account boyfriend to pay child support. Did they ever get married?”

Bill laughed shortly. “No, not hardly. He pays Nikki because he knows that he has to, but he doesn’t want anything to do with her or the boys.”

“Why not? Is he blind? She’s drop dead gorgeous.”

“Oh, you should have seen her six months ago. She dyed her hair brassy blonde and frizzed it all over her head, she wore enough makeup for three people, and her clothes made her look like a…well, you know.”

“What happened to her?”

“Her cousin came to visit and gave her a few pointers.”

“Oh. Could you write down the name of the toy for me?”

“Sure, but don’t hold your breath. I don’t think you can find them anywhere.”

Bill took his pen out and found a piece of paper. He scribbled down the name and manufacturer of the robots and handed it to Tommy. “Good luck. Let me know how it turns out.”

“Thanks. I will.”

Tommy took his leave of Bill and hurried outside. The snow fell heavily now, and his car felt icy. He turned on the heater and took out his cell phone. “Hurry up and answer,” he impatiently muttered.

“Hello?” Uh oh. Cherie sounded annoyed.

“Cherie, it’s Tommy.”

“Where are you, Tommy? We’re going to be late, and this is important to me.” Yes, he had ticked her off.

“Well, that’s what I’m calling about. I’m in the middle of a crisis, and I can’t make it tonight.”

“What!”

“Look, I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you later, but I have something to do that just can’t wait.” He hadn’t lied either. If he could help it, those little boys wouldn’t be disappointed on Christmas morning.

“Oh, all right! I’ll call Mark Masters to escort me. I’m sure that he won’t turn me down.”

“Thanks, Cherie. I appreciate it. I’ve got to go. I’ll see you later.”

He tossed the phone into the console of his car and carefully entered the stream of traffic. It took a little longer than usual to reach home because of the weather, and he sighed in relief as his car came to a halt in the garage. He never had liked driving in the snow.

He wished he hadn’t knocked the woman over, but he felt so thankful to avoid that party. He threw his coat and gag gift onto the sofa as he passed through his living room and immediately seated himself at his computer to start his search for the elusive robots.

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