Finally, at the entrance, the automatic doors opened. ZeLisa practically ran inside the bustling mall. The crowd was so thick, she lost sight of him. Standing on her tiptoes wasn’t enough to see over the masses. She hit a warm body-barrier with every pivot. Her decision to weave her way to the sidelines hit a snag. A playful jerk of her hair stopped her forward momentum, spinning her around. His joyous expression was precious to see.
“All I saw was the puff on top of your red knit hat.” He worked his fingers through hers. Raising their intertwined hands up, he said, “So we don’t get separated.”
She didn’t have a problem with that, at all. Honestly, the longer she stayed in his company, the more she loved what he presented.
“I have a list.” Hank removed a folded piece of paper from his wallet without letting her go. He snapped it open. “This’ll be a breeze with you at my side.”
“Then let me see it.”
They roamed aimlessly in the packed promenade. The scent of Christmas was all around while she studied the items. “Toy store here we come.”
“The last time I felt at ease during this season—” He filled his cheeks, letting air sift out in spurts.
Words crammed in her throat. None were sufficient. Instead, ZeLisa crushed his hand in support. Shrieks of delight alerted her to their close proximity to the store. They blended into the press of toy shoppers and their rambunctious kids.
“The faces of innocence.” His voice was monotone.
She watched him closely. He struggled with his facial expressions. His eyes rested on each little squealer. Sympathy welled up inside for him. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, Hank.”
He turned his undivided attention to her. “On the contrary, Zee. This venture decides it for me. A baby is what I want, too.”
Her first instinct was to laugh. And laugh she did at his inference. He looked at her, silent and deadly solemn. “Too?”
“I’m not laughing.”
“If you’re suggesting what I believe you are—”
“We both long for the same thing, at the same time in our lives.”
ZeLisa broke away. She devoted her attention to filling the basket with the hunted toys.
“It’s evident—to me—we have karma.”
She paused with a toy in her hand. “That makes one of us.”
“Listen to me, Zee.”
“We’re in a toy store, for goodness’ sake, Hank.” A look around showed they weren’t under observation. Bravely, she stared into his persuasive eyes.
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