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February 2017



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(advent) Day 21 – Shopping!

Wednesday, December 21

“So, what do you think the Advent castle will have us today, Mom?” Gideon asked, as they walked through downtown Carter’s Cove to CrossWinds Books. It was a clear, sunny day – not too cold, but the fresh breeze coming in from the harbor smelled of salt and promises, he thought.

Carter’s Cove had been the most magical place he’d ever lived in, he had decided. He still missed his friends and cousins but he couldn’t imagine living somewhere that didn’t have Schrodinger, and Jack, and the others he’d met.

“Gideon, look at that!” Kiaya had stopped and now tugged on his hand. “Over there!”

He followed her pointing finger to a small man who was walking a dog that towered over him. The dog had a dark coat, and his eyes were dead black, except for red flames that danced in place of his pupils.

“What is that?” Gideon asked her, as they watched the man and dog walk towards them.

That’s Mr. Grey! And Spot! Let’s go say hi!

Gideon jumped and let out a little cry of surprise at Schrodinger’s voice. He hadn’t even noticed the CrossCat coming up beside them, he’d been so focused on the man. Now, he watched Schrodinger hurry over to the odd couple.

“Do you want to go?” Kiaya said quietly, as Gideon considered his options. The great dog could probably eat him with little to no effort, but Schrodinger (who looked tiny next to him) was apparently talking animatedly to him. And if Schrodinger said it was a friend, it couldn’t be that bad.

“Yes,” he said, walking over slowly.

And this is my new friend Gideon! Schrodinger said, as they came up to the others. And his mom Kiaya, who’s a writer too, Mr. Grey! They’re helping us with the Advent castle this year! He turned to Gideon. This is Mr. Grey, and his puppy, Spot.

“It’s very nice to meet friends of Schrodinger’s, especially a fellow writer,” Mr. Grey said, offering a hand to first Gideon, and then Kiaya. “Are you enjoying Christmas in the Cove?”

Gideon nodded, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Spot. This close to the great dog, he could smell a faint aroma of something smoky, and there was a palpable heat coming off him. “What kind of dog are you?” he whispered.

Spot turned and looked down at him, his flaming eyes kind. I am a hell hound, young master, he said, and his voice was deep and pleasant. And I am very pleased to meet you.

“A hell hound?” Gideon said, and then remembered his manners. “Pleased to meet you.”

“A hell hound is a magical dog,” Mr. Grey explained. “Spot can do some interesting things, and as you can see, he’s pretty big.” He laughed softly. “He’s my protector.”

“I can imagine,” Kiaya said, holding out her hand to Spot, who sniffed it politely and then angled his head down.

He likes his ears scratched, Schrodinger told them.

Kiaya and Gideon complied, and Gideon found the dog’s skin warm and soft to the touch. Spot’s eyes half-closed in pleasure, and the dog rumbled happily.

“Come on, Spot, we’ve still got shopping to do,” Mr. Grey said finally, chuckling a little. “Maybe we’ll stop by the tea shop on the way home, so you can get some more attention. Not that you need it.”

I always need attention, Spot said, but obediently raised his head (after giving Gideon a playful nudge with his warm nose against his cheek, which made the boy giggle) and they started off down the street.

Aren’t they cool? Schrodinger said, watching them go. I adore Spot.

“I wonder how he got a hell hound,” Kiaya said. “That must be a story in and of itself.”

No one knows, and Mr. Grey hasn’t said, Schrodinger said, falling in beside them as they started walking again. He just showed up with him one day. That’s the way of the Cove, you know. People just show up.

Gideon thought about that on the rest of the walk to CrossWinds Books. If people just showed up here, did that mean that they were needed here? Or was it just coincidence that they ended up here?

He nearly walked into the door, he was thinking so hard, but he hadn’t come to a conclusion by the time they entered the tea room, and then Kaylee was shouting his name, and the thoughts flew from his head.

“We met Spot!” he told her eagerly. “He let me skritch him!”

“I love Spot!” she said. “He’s adorable! But Mom says I can’t have a hell hound.”

They’re a lot of work, Jack said, ambling over. Trust me, Kaylee, you don’t want one right now.

And Jack would know, Schrodinger added.

Lily was writing in her journal, but as Kiaya settled in with her computer, she shut her book and joined the others as they went into the kitchen to see Molly and do the Advent castle.


Molly watched them look for the number 21, enjoying the momentary calm of the tea room as they did. It was now, in the last few days before Christmas, that she valued these moments of peace more and more, since they were fewer and fewer.

Even though her part in the Christmas holiday was done, now that all the gingerbread houses were delivered, there would still be frantic people calling her and asking for last minute cookies, pastries, or tea. There was already one such box in the pantry, filled with vanilla shortbread and waiting for Lisa Cohen to pick up on her way home, and Molly knew there were going to be more.

Which was why she was planning on working in the tea shop until Christmas Eve. Her shopping was done, and everything was wrapped and ready to be put in stockings and under the proper trees, so she had let Aunt Margie know that she’d be there. Aunt Margie had been thrilled, to say the least, since the store was busier than ever.

“Oh, here it is!” Lily said, pointing to the 21 that was marching along the side of one of the towers. She touched the golden letters, and the window next to it opened onto a flurry of activity.

“Is that Santa’s workshop?” Kaylee asked, as the scene showed them a virtual army of people wrapping and tying bows and writing tags. A large bag in the center of the room was being filled, and Molly had to admit it certainly LOOKED like it could be in the North Pole.

Well, it wouldn’t be that surprising if Santa had a room at the Snow Queen’s, would it? Schrodinger said, as one of the tags slipped out the window and floated towards Lily.

“No, I guess not,” Molly said. “What does it say, Lily?”

“Are you done shopping? Are you sure? Perhaps you should go and check,” Lily read, and then looked up at Molly. “But I know I’m done!”

“Me too!” Kaylee said, and Gideon nodded.

“Then you guys can help me, because I am very, very behind,” Pavel said, coming in with Drew and Goldie. The pirate was dressed in a green coat with lacy cuffs, and his big black hat had holly pinned to the brim. “Do you think you can do that?”

“Who do you have to buy for, Pavel?” Molly teased. “Don’t you just give money to your mother and have her do it?”

“Usually, yes,” Pavel said, without a trace of embarrassment. “But this year, she told me that since I was in port, I was perfectly capable of buying my own presents. Although she did promise to wrap any that weren’t for her.”

Molly laughed, knowing full well who would wrap those gifts. “So you’re going to bribe me to do that, huh?”

“Bribe is such an ugly word,” he chided her, grinning. “I prefer to think of it as trading services.”

“Uh-huh,” Molly said, chuckling. Then she looked at Drew. “And you? I thought you were done.”

“I plead the Fifth,” Drew said, winking at her. “Also, I have been tasked to make sure this reprobate buys something nice for his mother. Apparently she didn’t like the wool socks he bought her for her birthday, and he was threatening a vacuum cleaner or something.”

Since Molly knew Pavel would do no such thing, she immediately suspected something, but she let it slide. “Just make sure you don’t end up taking these children into somewhere you shouldn’t,” she said, picking up the castle.

“That’s why I’m here,” Goldie assured her. “Capt’n won’t take them anywhere they shouldn’t be with me.”

“At least I can trust one of you,” Molly said, and put the castle back into the pantry.

When she came out, they were gone, and the tea room was quiet again. She went out to find that Kiaya had decided to stay. “I’m trying to get Zeke’s present done,” she explained. “It’s almost done. I write him a Christmas story every year, and I’m almost done.”


Are we going to get it today? Schrodinger asked, as they walked back downtown. The CrossCat was full of excitement. Did you get notice that it’s coming in?

“I did,” Drew said, chuckling. “And Pavel has agreed to hide it for us until Christmas day.”

“What are you getting Molly?” Lily said. “What did you order her?”

“You’ll see.” Drew refused to say any more, but led them down to a carriage that had been waiting around the corner from the bookstore, out of view of the tea shop.

They all piled in, and the carriage whisked them off to the Gate Station. “Now, you have to promise me that you can keep a secret,” Drew said, and they all swore.

“Come on in, then,” he said, and led them inside.

>Activity: Christmas is about doing something nice for others. Why don’t you see what you can do that’s nice for someone else today?

Originally published at The words of Valerie Griswold-Ford. You can comment here or there.