This short originally appeared on Literary Escapism’s Black Friday celebration in 2013.  Here’s the link to it there.  It features Corey and Averie from A Holiday Christmas. 

Cory parked his jeep and shuddered at the amount of cars in the parking lot. God he hated shopping at this time of year in the stores. It was the time of year when normally sane people turned into selfish lunatics.

“You don’t have to do this you know.”

He turned and looked Averie, and her laughing green eyes. “I will never live it down at the station if I don’t do this.”

He turned off the jeep and climbed out. He moved around the jeep to help Averie out.

“Do you have the list of who we need to buy for?” He asked her.

She pulled it from her pocket and showed him the list. “We need to get presents for everyone in these four families.”

Cory looked at the list and family members and what they either wanted or needed. This was not going to be an enjoyable outing with Averie. No it was going to be an ice pick being stabbed in the ear over and over again outing.

“Okay give me the boys names and what they want or need and we’ll divide and conquer the list.” He figured the sooner he got the list done, the sooner he could get Averie back to his place and continue what they’d started the other night.

“You sure you want to do it this way?”

“Yep.” He held out his hand for his portion of the list. She placed it in his hand and laughed at him.

“If you hate shopping so much why did you volunteer to do the shopping?”

He took her hand and began to walk to the store’s door. “Because it meant I’d get to spend time with you.”

The doors opened and a Christmas carol blared over the speakers at a deafening decibel. Why did stores do that? It wasn’t as if hearing the music would make him want to spend more money. Hell he’d finished his Christmas shopping back in October. Except for something for Averie.

And he was hoping to resolve that today as well.

He grabbed a cart for him and one for Averie and followed the throng of people into the store. While the store was crowded it wasn’t as bad as it had been on Black Friday. He shuddered remembering the hell and mess that day had been.

Ever since a woman had been trampled to death a couple of years ago at the big named store that he refused to shop in cops had been assigned as crowd control. This year it had been his turn to work it and he’d hated every minute of it. It was like people forgot the manners they were taught as children.

He made his way to the toy department and maneuvered through the crush of carts and frantic parents grabbing toys and throwing them into their carts.

“Give me that, its mine.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about woman that doll was in my cart.”

The angry voices drifted over the aisles. He wanted nothing more than to ignore them, but the cop inside of him wouldn’t let him. He’d seen to many fights happen at this time of year not do something.

But he also wasn’t going to abandon his cart full of toys either. He moved down the aisles until he found the two women. Seeing who they were he wished he was anywhere but in this store.

He let the women continue arguing while he pulled out his phone and called the station house.

“Holiday Police Department how may I help you?”

“Cas, it’s me. Is Colin around?”

“Yeah why?”

“You need to tell him to come over to Brecken and break up a fight between his mom and wife.”

“Oh jeez, tell me you aren’t serious?”

“Oh I am. From what I’m seeing they are fighting over a doll and who is giving it to some little girl.”

Hysterical laughter sounded over the phone and he didn’t bother responding before he hung up. He blocked the aisle with his cart and turned to prevent others from seeing what was going on and cursed his shopping luck.

He’d purposely gone three towns over to do the shopping so he wouldn’t run into anyone today. But now here he was guarding the aisle where the Holiday’s Deputy Chief of Police’s wife and mom were having a hot argument over a fifteen dollar doll.

“I see you didn’t get much done?”

And there went his plans to find a gift for Averie.

“Yeah about that, I had to stop.” He pointed behind.

“Is that?”

“Yep.” He handed his list to her, “Can you finish my list for me?”

She peeked around him at the women and flashed the grin that had first drawn him to her. “No problem. Text me when back-up shows up.”

What felt like hours, but he was sure in fact was actually only ten minutes passed like he was sitting in the dentist chair waiting for the sound of the drill to start.

The crowd beginning to gather parted as Colin strode through it. He didn’t blame the onlookers dressed in black bdu’s with a Holiday Police Department shirt and gun strapped to his waist he was an intimidating figure.

“I got this Evans. Go enjoy the rest of your afternoon.” He clapped him on the back and moved past him. “If this is how you two behave when shopping I’m banning you from ever shopping again.”

Cory didn’t look behind him to see how Colin handled the women, he pulled his phone out and sent Averie a text telling her he’d meet her at the front of the store.

He was never again stepping foot in a store that sold toys again between Thanksgiving and Christmas. He’d buy the damn things on line.

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