I’m just saying don’t be appalled when almost every room in my house is a little bit chaotic. My dad is helping me redo Zoe’s bedroom, and since she doesn’t have a playroom, all of her toys are scattered around the living room. It’s kind of crazy. She should be here when you come over though. She isn’t in daycare or anything, so she’s always here with me if I haven’t asked my mom to watch her for me.
Anyway, when are you free?
Maybe. That all depends on if you’d be willing to enter the mess that is my house without judging me for not doing as much straightening up as I probably should.
I’m not going to judge you. You were always a bit messy, Sam. Will Zoe be around? I promised I’d play dress-up with her and I owe her a tea party.
I’ve been good. Definitely busy. I’ve been working on a the sketches for the next book I’m writing, and then the rest of my time has been spent chasing Zoe around.
Is there any chance you’d be willing to share those sketches with me?
Yeah, I told everyone not to go overboard, but nobody in my family or Becca’s family has any impulse control. And she’s been switching back and forth on which dress she wants to wear everyday. She loves them.
Oh, good. So, how have you been? Busy, I imagine?
but Zoe is spoiled, and her Christmas haul proves it. Not only did Santa give her an amazing Christmas (and I’ll admit I maybe went a little overboard there), but my relatives went kind of crazy, too. I can’t get over how incredibly blessed my kid is to have so many awesome people in her life after everything we’ve all been through.
But seriously, I have no idea where we’re going to put the majority of her Christmas gifts, and I’m pretty sure this means I’ve got to step up my game on redecorating her room.
Wow. That’s a lot of Christmas presents. Did she like the dresses I got her?
Part of Sam felt bad that Quinn couldn’t spend a huge amount of time with her fiance over the holiday season, but a slightly larger part of him thought she was lucky to get to spend those few days with Neal when he and his family would do anything to get just one more day with Becca. But, for the most part, he was happy for Quinn. He was happy that she’d found someone who made her happy and understood her crazy schedule. He thought she deserved that.
Walking into the toy store, Sam knew exactly what he needed to grab. He headed straight to the pretend play section and grabbed a set of dishes and one of the play food assortments. Zoe had the toy kitchen already since his parents got one for her over the summer at a garage sale, but she didn’t have anything to use with it. Sam thought Santa surprising her with the things she needed to actually use the kitchen would be a pretty great treat on Christmas morning. Those were the last things he needed to get, so after he paid for them, he turned to Quinn. “Ready to head home?” he asked. “I’m getting kind of tired, and it’s been a long day. Plus, I’m sure you’re sick of walking around toy stores with me.”
As they entered the toy store, Quinn was overwhelmed by the mere variety of toys available. She certainly didn’t remember having quite this many options when she was Zoe’s age, but that seemed like ages ago now. Sam seemed to know exactly what he wanted to get Zoe, which was a good thing because otherwise, they might get lost in all of the chaos. She stood in line with him and once he’d paid for his purchases, she followed him out of the toy store. Honestly, she was kind of happy to leave. It had been rather crowded in there, even more so than a red carpet event! Ready to head home? Quinn nodded her head at him, maybe even a little too eagerly. “I’m tired too,” she explained herself with a soft laugh, assuring him afterwards. “No, not at all! I had a lot of fun.” He’d reminded her how much she enjoyed hanging out with him. “We should hang out again sometime. You know, while I’m here,” she told him when he dropped her off at her house later. She said goodbye, gave him a small wave, and then disappeared into her house.
Sam didn’t really mind that Quinn stayed quiet when he brought up Becca. He knew that a lot of people didn’t know what to say about it, and he honestly didn’t care if they didn’t want to say anything. It just helped him to bring her up from time to time. He never wanted to forget her, and he knew he needed to be able to tell Zoe about her mom when she got a little older, but he found that it was harder to remember the little details about Becca the more time that she was gone. Some days, he felt like he was relying on home movies to remember her laugh, and that killed him inside. He kept that hidden as best as he could though. He didn’t want to look too sad in front of his kid since she knew she was still too young to fully understand what had happened. “What about you and the fiance?” he asked her in an attempt to change the subject. “Have any big plans for Christmas?” Once they were inside Hallmark, Sam browsed through the wrapping paper before grabbing a couple rolls and moving over to pick out his Christmas cards. He was considering picking up a couple Christmas ornaments, but he figured that he’d let Zoe pick out which ones she wanted, so he told himself he’d come back with her later that week. “I need to stop at the toy store to pick up a few things for Zoe, but that’s the last stop I need to make,” he told her after he’d paid for his purchases.
Quinn shook her head at him upon hearing his question. “Big plans?” she echoed. “No, not really. He’s coming to Lima for Christmas though. He’ll be here the morning of Christmas Eve and leave the morning after Christmas. Unfortunately, that’s all his busy schedule will allow right now.” She didn’t like that Neal was so busy, but she wasn’t going to complain, not when he’d dealt with her busy schedule time and time again. Sometimes she was busy. Sometimes he was busy. Sometimes they were both busy. That was just the way things were, and they had both accepted that. They both understood the importance of the other’s career. It was one of the many reasons why she loved him. Neal would never ask her to make a choice between him and her career just like she’d never ask him to make a choice between her and his career.
"Okay, sure," Quinn said, following Sam to the toy store he had in mind. After all, there were quite a few toy stores in this particular mall. She was kind of glad that the toy store was going to be the last stop on their shopping trip because honestly, she was starting to get a little tired. Shopping during the holiday season was always a little more exhausting than usual.
"Very funny," Sam smirked when Quinn teased him about the number of purchases he was making. "I’m just trying to make it a happy Christmas. The holidays are kind of hard on everyone since Becca passed away right in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Nobody is really enthusiastic about the holidays anymore, but we put on that happy face for the kids, you know?" Sam loved Christmas, and he loved getting to make it special for Zoe; it was just hard for him without his wife there. He grabbed a couple character tote bags and paid for his purchases before heading out with Quinn. "Hallmark it is," he told her. "I’ve got to grab some cards and wrapping paper while we’re there. And maybe some Christmas ornaments if I see anything really special."
Quinn always found herself tongue-tied whenever Sam brought up his late wife. She was afraid that she’d say the wrong thing. She was afraid that she’d say the wrong thing right now. Hence, why she merely nodded her head at him in acknowledgement. The holidays must be very hard for him and others who’d been close to Becca. As far as Quinn knew, Becca had been Sam’s best friend in addition to being his wife. The blonde couldn’t imagine losing someone so dear to her. She wished she knew how to comfort her old friend. Comforting others was hardly her forte. “Okay, great,” she responded, glad that he liked her suggestion. She led the way to Hallmark, smiling as she stepping inside the gift shop. She loved the merchandise that was sold here. Asking one of the employees to direct her toward the snow globes, she hoped that they’d have something that her mother would love in stock. She was relieved to find that there was. She grabbed a few Christmas cards too and then went to pay for everything. “Do you need to go anywhere else?” she asked him after he’d made his purchases. She’d finally gotten a Christmas present for her mother, so personally, Quinn was good to go.
Sam grabbed the different playlists that he needed to buy before heading over to where the assortment of small toys for younger kids. “What can I say?” he asked. “I didn’t inherit my mom’s gift wrapping skills. I think she’s going to come over on Christmas Eve to help me wrap up Zoe’s gifts so I don’t have to do a bunch of random gift bags like last year.” Looking through the assortment of play cellphones and cameras, he picked up a cellphone and camera for each of the three kids with a variety of different characters. He then went over to the kitchenware items and grabbed a few new Mickey Mouse place mats since the old ones were starting to fall apart. Looking at the coffee mugs, he debated about picking up a Kermit mug for himself, but he figured that he had enough coffee mugs at home as it was, and he could always come back and get it later if he still really wanted it. “I just need to grab the tote bags, and then we can head to the next store if you’re ready,” he told Quinn when he found her over by the snow globes.
Quinn turned around with the intention of looking for Sam only to realize that he’d found her first. There was a look of amusement on her face at first and then one of disbelief. “Wow,” she commented, looking at all of the merchandise he had in his hands. “Are you buying gifts for next Christmas too?” She was only teasing him of course. She headed toward the checkout with him. The line was rather long, but the blonde didn’t mind the wait. At least she was in good company. After she’d paid for her snow globe and Sam had paid for half of the store (yes, she was exaggerating), she suggested that they head over to Hallmark. It was only a few stores down, and Sam had mentioned needing to go there earlier. She was hoping to find a snow globe for her mother’s collection at the gift shop. Plus, she wanted to pick up a few cards too.