“We are.” This time the younger woman spoke but her attention wasn’t on Anna and Nicholas, it was on the man whose arm she had. “I just got engaged.”
“Oh-h.” Anna clasped her hands together. “That’s wonderful. Congratulations!”
Nicholas watched the interaction and the joy on everyone’s faces. A few seconds later and they said their Merry Christmases again and walked on.
Every person Anna encountered, she greeted with a cheery Merry Christmas. Each one responded with a smile and a ‘Merry Christmas’ back.
The two of them walked up to a booth with a huge array of Christmas decorations, but Anna went straight to the snow globes. “Oh, I love this one.” Leaning over, she peered intently into the illuminated snowglobe. “This is the Françoi Leondre Victorian Village snowglobe.” She spoke those words as if he should know what they meant.
Nicholas had no clue whatsoever. He only knew that if Anna liked it, he was going to get it for her.
Behind the display counter, the sales lady watched Anna with interest and a smile. Again with the smiles. Why had he not noticed them before? Was it because he wasn’t really looking and only paid attention to the ones who weren’t smiling? Was it because all he had heard other people talking about for the last few years was how no one smiled anymore? When the sales lady’s gaze came up to him, he pointed to the globe. “We’ll take that one.”
Anna jerked upward, her eyes darted up to his and widened. “No, that’s okay.” Her eyes flitted between him and the sales lady. She ducked her head to him and whispered, “It’s too expensive.”
“We’ll take it,” he said again to the lady as he dug out his wallet.
Anna tugged on the sleeve of his jacket. “No, Nicholas. It’s almost a hundred dollars.” The gasp in her voice was audible.
He spoke in to her ear. “And your point is?”
She blinked up at him. “That’s too much.”
“That will be,” the sales lady quoted the price, including tax.
Nicholas removed his glove and pulled the bills out.
Anna’s hand cupped over his. “Nicholas, really, I can’t let you do that.”
He looked at her seriously. “You like it don’t you?”
“Yes. I love it. I do. I love anything Françoi Leondre. He has such a way with light and is so incredibly talented. But…”
Nicholas laid his finger over her lips. “But nothing. It’s yours. And no arguing with me.” He handed the lady several bills. “Keep the change.”
The woman counted the money. Her eyes flew up to his. “But, this is…”
“Yours. Merry Christmas.” He smiled at her.
It took her another couple minutes to get the globe in a shopping bag, and even then tears pooled in the woman’s eyes as she handed it to him. “Merry Christmas to you too,” she choked the words out.
Nicholas took the bag from her, touched by how sincerely overwhelmed she seemed to be. As they turned to step away, he heard the woman tell the other gal who worked there at the booth what had happened and how now she wouldn’t lose her car.
With that, the Christmas spirit surged on him, and Nicholas stopped. “Hang on, Anna.”
“What?” Anna asked in concern, but he was already headed back to the booth, grabbing several more bills out of his wallet.
He stepped back up to the counter. “Excuse me, Miss.”
She hurried over to him. “Yes. Is something wrong?” Concern flooded her glistening eyes.
Holding the bills in his fist, he reached over the display. “Would you take this for me, please?”
“Uh. Sure,” she said, her voice edged with uncertainty.
Carefully, he released the bills into her hands.
She took them and when she opened her hand, she gasped. “Wait!” She whirled around. “This isn’t trash, it’s… it’s...”
But Nicholas had already rejoined Anna on the walk. “Yes it is. You have a very Merry Christmas.” Without waiting to see anymore of her reaction, he turned and led Anna away.
♥ ♥ ♥
Anna’s heart swelled with love. What a kind generous man Nicholas was. A man after her own heart. A man who helped others who were down on their luck and struggling. As they walked away, she tucked closer to his side and gazed up to him. “That was very sweet of you.”
Nicholas looked down at her as they continued to walk. “What?”
“Back there. I heard what the woman said and you blessed her with even more. And…” She raised his hand that held the shopping bag with the snowglobe inside. “This. Just because I loved it, you bought it for me. Thank you.” She tugged him to a stop, reached up on her tiptoes, and kissed his cheek.