Two chapters of the Christmas adult romance have already been posted. You can read them here
To learn more about this story, set in Cole Harbour – Home of Sydney Crosby, check out its book page.
The story continues with Chapter 03 – Product Enhancement
Emmie skipped into Dreamland of Toys, ogling one bright display after another. The jingling of toys and the cheerful holiday music drowned out the bustling crowd, and she began to sing along with Jingle Bells. She’d visited this store a million times with her mom and by herself. She knew all the staff and where all the best toys hid.
She didn’t stop to see the new stuffed animals that had come in since her last visit or the mega Lego display. Today she headed directly to the dolls in the girl’s section. She hunted for a special gift for her mom.
The Christmas Wish Book didn’t sell Knight in Shining Armour or any doll that remotely fit its description. Dreamland of Toys was the biggest toy store in Dartmouth and carried every toy imaginable; it had to have the doll her mother dreamt for as a little girl.
“Emmie! Great to see you, kiddo.” Allison gave a little wave as she straightened puzzles on the shelf. “Here for shopping or dreaming?”
“Shopping if you have it.”
“The doll I’m looking for. It’s a special doll.”
“Tell me more.” The saleswoman came closer and leant on a shelf.
“It’s called Knight in Shining Armour.” Emmie held her breath, hoping the woman would know about the doll.
Allison shook her head. “I haven’t heard of that one. It must be new out this year. Let’s see if it’s on the shelf.” She guided Emmie to the doll section.
Emmie wanted to tell her the doll had been out for years, but she didn’t want to jinx her luck. She crossed her fingers and quietly followed the saleswoman into the pink section. Rows upon rows of pink boxes lined the shelves. The colour of the product inside didn’t matter—although most were shades of pink—the packaging was bright pink to appeal to little girls.
Flora the Wilderness doll caught her eye as it always did. The packaging and the doll displayed behind plastic were shades of green and yellow; pink had been eradicated. A smart move, her mother had said. Every other product blends in, gets lost in the wave of pink, but Flora stands out, catching the attention of every shopper who walks by. Her mother who managed the camera shop called it product enhancement and used it all the time.
Allison scanned the shelves as she made her way down one aisle and then another. When she reached the end, she stopped and looked back at the young customer. “It doesn’t appear to be here.”
“Maybe it’s in another section…maybe?”
The saleswoman smiled. “Let me check inventory. Follow me.” She led Emmie to the centre of the pink zone and stopped at a machine attached to a pole. “If we have it in stock, it will show up here.”
As Emmie waited patiently, she scanned the nearby shelves one more time. The doll just had to be here.
“What did you call it? Knight in Shining Armour?”
“That’s right. It has red hair. And a horse.”
“Armour, too?” Allison winked. “Of course he’d come with armour and maybe a sword to save the damsel in distress from the dragon.” After reading the data on the screen, her smile faded. “Well, pooh! It’s not in our system. Are you certain you have the name correct?” She looked down at Emmie.
“I think so. That’s what Mommy called it.”
“You’re mom? She’s looking for it?”
“Well, no…I’m looking for it for her.”
Allison raised an eyebrow and studied the young girl. “A Christmas present for her?”
Emmie nodded. “She really wants it. Can you check again? I need to get that doll.”
Emmie and Allison both turned to see a man standing nearby with a tablet in his hands.
“Perhaps I can help.”
“Mr. Taylor, I didn’t see you there.” Allison turned to Emmie. “This is Mr. Taylor. He’s like the expert of experts on toys.”
“Please, call me Delanie.” He looked at Emmie. “Which doll do you seek?”
“Um—well, it’s an older doll.” She linked her fingers behind her back and scrunched her toes in her winter boots. “It’s called Knight in Shining Armour.”
The suited man gazed off into the distance. After a moment, he looked back at her. “I haven’t heard that doll mentioned for years; more than two decades. Where did you hear of it?”
“My mother. She—she was looking for one.”
“Emmie’s mother works at the camera shop in the mall,” said Allison. “Emmie’s one of our most loyal customers.”
He smiled, and his eyes smiled too. “A special gift?”
“So…do you have one?” Emmie made a silent wish.
Delanie chuckled. “Let me see what I can do.” He tapped the surface of the tablet, searching one screen, then another.
“I’ll leave you two to search,” said Allison. “I’ve got to get back to my post.” She gave a little wave and left.
Emmie patiently waited, looking between the shelves of merchandise and the man with red hair. She didn’t want to stare at him—that was impolite—but she wanted to see the tablet screen.
He caught her watching and knelt to her level. “See this list?” He pointed to a long list of products with images beside them. “It’s the inventory for the past two years. The list contains dolls in stock and those sold out at this Dreamland of Toys location. Knight in Shining Armour hasn’t been sold here during this time frame.” He grinned. “But it’s no surprise.” He tapped the screen and brought up another list. “This is sales for all Dreamland of Toys locations in Atlantic Canada. The doll doesn’t show up there either. And I’m guessing it won’t show up at any stores across Canada.” Another screen popped up. “Nope. Nothing.”
“So I can’t buy it?” Emmie stared at him with big eyes. Tears began to well. If the toy store didn’t sell the doll, she’d never be able to get it for her mother. “Maybe another store? Like Campbell General? It’s a big store. It sells lots of things.”
Delanie sighed. “The problem with this doll is they stopped making it”—he tapped the screen several times until an image of a handsome red-haired man wearing shiny armour appeared—“twenty-three years ago.”
Emmie’s mouth dropped. “So I can’t buy it anywhere?”
“I didn’t say that. People collected them, never took them out of the box. They’re like new. Now, people sell them to make a few dollars.”
“Is that one for sale?” She pointed at the screen.
He shook his head. “It’s an image from our History of Stock Catalogue, but…it’s for sale somewhere…probably.”
“Can you find one for me?”
Delanie winced. “It might cost a little more money than you’re willing to spend. Collectors want four, sometimes ten times what the product originally sold for.”
“Oh.” Emmie lowered her eyes and stared at the floor. Even if this man found the doll, she wouldn’t have enough money to buy it. “Well. Okay. Thanks anyway.” She turned to leave and felt his hand on her shoulder.
“Did Allison say your mother worked at the camera shop down the hall?”
“Do they take passport photos?”
“All the time.”
“I’ll keep an eye out for the Knight in Shining Armour doll if you point me in that direction.”
“I’ll see what I can do. I can’t make any promises though.”
“Okay! When you walk into the mall, go left. Dave’s shop is just after Body Buff Plus on the right.”
Delanie straightened and closed the cover of the tablet. “Thank you, …? I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.” He offered his hand. “I’m Delanie Taylor, and you, young lady, what is your name?”
She giggled and shook his hand. “Emma-Lou, but my friends call me Emmie.”
“Thank you, Emmie.”
She suddenly realise he would see her mother. “Mr.—Mr. Taylor, you’re not going to tell Mom I’m looking for the doll are you? It’s supposed to be for Christmas. I don’t want her to know.” The words came out fast and furious.
“Whoa! No, I won’t say a word.” He put a finger to his lips. “Shh! This is our secret.” He winked and walked away.
Emmie watched him go. Now that she had someone looking for the Knight in Shining Armour doll, she felt hopeful she’d find it in time for Christmas.
Flora the Wilderness doll caught her eye, and she walked over to it. She picked up the box and gazed through the plastic window at the figure inside. In her letter to Santa, she had asked for this doll. If she could find the knight, maybe her mom would start believing in Santa again. ♥
Thank you for reading Chapter 03 of Twistmas – The Season for Love.