Friday, December 30, 2011

I make my way through the crowd - funny, how people just naturally step aside for a vampire - smilng and nodding, my eyes with the empty look of a Hollywood star, revealing nothing. I smile at Alise - just a friendly smile, nothing more. "Where's the wrecking crew?"

"Excusez-moi, Nicholas, the what?"

I grin, a genuine grin this time. "Tomas and Ryan. I have something for them." I reach into my duster pocket and pull out two boxes wrapped in Christmas paper.

"Nicholas, you shouldn't have."

"Nonsense, it's Christmas. If not now, when?" Alise looks flustered, that going-six-ways-at-once look mothers get. "Laila went upstairs to bring them down after that appalling noise. She should " - she points to the stairs - "There they are!"

I sketch a bow. "Much thanks." I walk over to where Laila is bringing a clearly unhappy Tomas downstairs. His eyes light up when he sees me. So not a normal reaction to the vamp in your midst.... "Laila, can I have a minute with your prisoners there?"

She smiles prettily. "Nikolas... every time I see you, I think of you punching out Rath because of me. Of course you can speak with these rascals."

I go to one knee in front of the kids. "I have something for you." I hold out the gifts, but don't quite relinquish them when Tomas makes a grab for his. Ryan, more reserved, just watches Tomas for a hint of what to do. "Now, I'm giving you this on the understanding that you're not going to make things difficult for Laila or your mother, okay?" Tomas nods vigorously; beside him, Ryan imitates the gesture. I let the boxes slip from my grip and pull both boys into a hug, one that Tomas returns enthusiastically. "Merry Christmas, guys." Laila smiles as I stand. "Thank you, Nikolas... the boys can be a handful at times."

I make a face. "I bet. Have a merry Christmas, Laila."

I hear subdued shrieking behind me as the boys shred the wrapping paper. A Batman action figure for Tomas, a Robin figure for Ryan.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em....

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