Just as Cold as the North Pole
She had tried to talk Kem into driving, but that had somehow lead to the topic of zombies and the quality of her driving and in the end Pak had been goaded into driving. Yet again she told herself she had to get a new car. It was the salt on the roads, she worried about the paint and the body of the old car. But it hadn't snowed in a couple of days and so she didn't think the roads were too bad.
As usual in the winter Pak was bundled up in the extreme, a heavy wool coat, gloves, scarf, gloves, hat and that was in the car with the heater going. If they had been planning on staying outside she would probably consider putting a second coat on. Pak had once described herself as a delicate tropical creature, it was at least half true.
The 'Lil Bird was neatly pulled into a spot on the strip. She didn't trust the mall since getting stuck in an elevator the previous Christmas. Besides the strip was tastefully decked out of the season lights, poinsettias and so forth. Even Pak, who could be a bit of a Grinch, had to admit it rather put her in the proper mood as she slid out from behind the wheel and out into the frigid (in her opinion) night air. At least the stores would be warm she reminded herself as she pulled her scarf up over her face.
"Where did we want to start? And don't say at the beginning.â€
He glanced over at Pak behind the wheel of the car. Her fingers seemed to nearly disappear beneath... was it two pairs of gloves? Maybe three? And the rest of her was bundled up somewhat penguin-like. Kem, who wasn't overly fond of the cold, still didn't feel Pak's level of aversion to it.
Getting out of the car he tugged the hem of his black coat down to straighten it and then tucked his nose beneath the soft grey fleece scarf. He reached out one gloved hand to push the front seat forward for Aishe, smiling at Pak as he did.
"I was going to say we should start at the top of the list. But the list-holder has it buried in her pocket somewhere."
Aishe, the least bundled up of the three, practically bounced out of the car. She threw her arms around Kem's neck and kissed him enthusiastically when he poked his face out from beneath his scarf, then flashed him a grin and patted her pockets with mittened hands.
"List, list, you gave me a list?"
Her green eyes sparkled at him as she made a show of checking all of her pockets for their list of people to buy for. Normally Aishe wouldn't have gone crazy buying presents but... well... Kiamhaat was funding this trip. And while she was still very much into maintaining her own financial independence, it was ridiculous to try to do so indefinitely. How could she say no when they were making purchases for their friends?
With a little 'ta-da' gesture, she pulled the list from her left pocket and looked at it. There were several names on it, all people Aishe wanted to send cards to, if not buy gifts. She needed to get cards too.
"And the first person on our shopping list is..." she waited for a few seconds for effect, "Eiryk."
Aishe had written names down in no particular order. Eiryk and Alex had come first, followed immediately by Cris and Rowan. Pak, of course, she and Kem would purchase gifts for during a separate trip. There were lots more people, but Aishe thought she was safe in the assumption that those four were the most important. Well, for her, Cris and Eiryk and Alex. She was ashamed to admit she did not know Rowan well at all, but Cris cared for him and that put him high up on her mental list.
"Can we get him a pogo stick?" She asked mischievously, tucking her hand into Kiamhaat's and moving around the car with him to meet Pak. "I just want to see what happens. From a distance."
Pak muttered unable to completely keep from grousing about the cold. But it was a token grumble more than anything if she really had been protesting this night out Kem probably would have had to tie her up and put her in the trunk of his car rather than her driving. She even managed to keep her reaction to the kiss to a semi discreet eye roll. Really she was just happy they were happy.
Fortunately, not being an overly social sort Pak found that her list overlapped with Kem and Aishe's a fair amount. Eiryk and Alex, she'd probably get something for Thora as well, and a few other people. Hell if the mood struck her she might even get something for Bao. That thought was quickly dashed as Aishe came up with her idea of Eiryk's present. A laugh was smothered beneath and behind her bright red cashmere scarf.
"Now that is the Christmas spirit. Let's see if we can break a vampire... what do you think you'll get Alex then? A first aid kit?â€
Some one would have to put Eiryk back together and that would undoubtedly be Alexander.
Pak suddenly had images of being accosted in the hallways of the towers by a bouncing Eiryk and shuddered and shook her head a violent no.
"Only if he gets to open it and try it out at your place first... how is that?â€
[Oh deal with it,] he sent to her. he knew to Pak it seemed like ages since she'd cared for someone, but if only she had any idea how long an eternity could be when it stretched well past ten centuries... she wouldn't begrudge him the enjoyment of a kiss now. He was going to take it, too, regardless of who was watching or passing by.
Aishe's gift idea had him barking a short, unexpected laugh. "The vampire is resilient," he said, "it's the rest of Nachton that might not make it out alive. How are you going to explain to Alfarinn how you enabled Eiryk to destroy the whole city?"
He raised his brows at Aishe. Nachton might technically be his territory now but the way Kem saw it, he was just taking care of it for his friend. This was where Alfarinn made his home, so when he was in residence he was obviously in charge.
Draping his arm over Aishe's shoulders, they began to walk down the street alongside Pak. Kem turned to her at the suggestion that they let Eiryk try out his new toy at their place and shook his head. "Not a chance. My car is still new and so is Aishe's. No one's getting the opportunity to junk them before their time."
What did you get for Eiryk, though? They'd been friends long enough now for Kem to realize that when Eiryk wanted something, Eiryk generally went and bought it. Money was not often an impediment for a vampire of his age and Eiryk wasn't exactly the thrifty-saving role model of the year.
"What do you buy for someone who already has everything?"
Kem wasn't the world's greatest gift-buyer, himself. In fact, he hated shopping. Generally he accomplished it with the internet, a credit card, and UPS.
Kiamhaat claimed she might get in trouble with Alfarinn for giving Eiryk a pogo stick. That might be the case, but... she smiled up at her fiance. "He loves me. He'll forgive me."
That probably wasn't the case; Aishe had no idea how Alfarinn felt about her personally but she had never gotten the impression he didn't like her. For her part, she adored him and never failed to make it known. He was the best Elder ever. She was trying very hard not to include Kiamhaat on her list of Elders. They had decided some time ago that he was her husband-to-be before he was her Elder. He didn't want her to look at him that way, and Aishe wasn't sure she could.
She shook her head at Pakpao next, and the suggestion that they get Alex a first aid kit. "He has one," she said. "I've seen it. It's impressive."
Alex was a trained first aid and CPR provider. Aishe had seen him put that knowledge to good use once or twice in class when someone pulled something or twisted the wrong way.
"It's kind of a wonder there aren't more injuries at yoga," she mused with a grin. While Alex's soft voice generally left no question as to his orientation, it didn't stop most of the woman in class from devouring him with their eyes as he demonstrated the various positions they would be learning. Aishe was hardly immune to his looks, herself, and had caught herself staring at her friend on more than one occasion.
The back and forth affectionate insulting began between Kem and Pak and Aishe smiled happily, walking with one of them on either side. She'd worry if it ever stopped. They really were like a brother and sister. She turned her attention to the idea of a gift for Eiryk. She was no further along in this process than anyone else. She'd thought 'pogo stick' was a great idea.
"What about a photo album?" she asked suddenly. "I mean, I don't know if he has one started. But, you know... for him and Alex..."
She sobered at that thought. It was hardly a cheerful gift idea if one looked into it. She knew from Eiryk that Alex did not want to be turned. That meant their days together were already numbered. Having a record of them would mean a lot to Eiryk, even if he didn't see the deeper meaning now.
"I might wind up in there yet. Maybe Kem will carry my purse if I do.â€
Aishe's pocket would be warm and if she got that cold Pak wasn't about to be dissuaded by what people might say or think.
"You have no idea. I've been out with him.â€
Eiryk had, before he met Alex, been Pak's emergency backup date on a few occasions. And she'd known him longer than either Kem or Aishe. The odds were good that there were one or two places they were still ban from or that Eiryk was still paying damages to.
"It makes your assault on my shoes look tame.â€
Not that she was going to forgive Kem for destroying those shoes any time soon. They had been some of her favorites.
Well there went her present for Alex, but Pak still half laughed. She occasionally went to Alex's yoga class with Aishe and knew exactly what they young vampire meant. No doubt some of what Alex did ... well some people would call it inspiring and not in the pure and innocent way.
"Anything flip and trendy, maybe something 'as seen on TV'.â€
That was often Pak's plan when buying for Eiryk it had to be sort of absurd and out there. And oddly enough it usually was fairly inexpensive, it was more about the thought than the actual item. Aishe's idea wasn't bad though. Pak nodded and pretended not to know why her friend stopped talking.
For as jealous as she was of Kem and Aishe, Pak didn't know if she was strong enough to voluntarily enter into a relationship with a human. In a few decades they'd find out if Eiryk was, he did everything so whole hearted, with nothing held back. He'd grieve the same way, it might be more than even the resilient Eiryk could handle.
"That isn't a bad idea, or some frames.â€
It was a hard road their friends had chosen to walk down. Kem thought Aishe's idea was touching. He turned and shook his head at Pak though.
"No frames," he said softly. "You can't close them to get away from them."
An album, in his opinion, was much better. It could sit there quietly, unobtrusively, on a bookshelf, for when you needed it. A picture frame had no cover. You had to stare at it, or put it away entirely. There was no middle ground.
It was interesting that just a moment ago they'd been so cheerful and now they were contemplating their friends' futures with solemn faces. Kem sighed softly. If only Alex would change his mind... none of them could, or would, force it on him.
"Oh. Look," Kem said, distracted by a display of pretty shiny things in a storefront window.
The display turned out to be a little collection of glass animals, each dotted with bits of mistletoe or a wreath or something Christmas-themed. But what had caught his attention was that they were walking past a gift shop, full of the sorts of keepsakes they might want for Eiryk and Alex.
"Let's take a look inside," he suggested. "Maybe we'll get inspired."
[It's past us, Kiamhaat,] she sent anyway. [That future isn't us anymore.]
As they continued on Kem was distracted by a storefront display. Aishe stopped to look at it too, smiling at the little animals in surprisingly lifelike, playful poses. "Those are adorable. I want one!"
Many of them had little loops with ribbon tied into it, turning them into little Christmas tree ornaments. She turned her eyes up to Kiamhaat and smiled. "What do you think? For this year?"
Religious affiliations aside, the two of them always put a little tree up every year, and they bought one special ornament for it each year. They hadn't found a 2011 ornament yet, so why not a little glass one?
Kem just nodded, that soft smile on his face. [I like when we think alike,] his voice sent to her. Aishe did too.
They entered the store, a little jingle bell on the handle of the door ringing gaily as they did. They weren't the only ones in the shop. Plenty of shoppers were browsing around, many of them with lists in hand similar to Aishe's. Without much hassle she found a display of photo albums and sorted through them speculatively, looking for one that seemed to fit the person they had in mind.
She found a sleek black one that seemed sort of chic and turned to Pak. "On any other occasion I'd say black might be perfect but... well, given the distant future, maybe it's not appropriate at all. What do you think?"
Perhaps a brighter color would be nicer, something reminiscent of today rather than the traditional color of mourning.
She wasn't going to dwell right now though. They had years before they needed to consider this. She forcibly shoved it out of her mind. Right now they were all together and they could stay that way for some time. She let herself be distracted by the window display and to followed her friends inside.
"Is there a raccoon?â€
Pak suggested quietly. The animals were quite charming. She didn't always put up a tree, and quite frankly she wasn't sure if the cat would knock it down or not. Well maybe she'd try it any way and some garland and lights. Nothing much but a few things, it might be nice.
Following along she looked at the albums and agreed with the one that Aishe picked out. It was clean and modern and quite Eiryk. She shook her head at Aishe's unexpressed worry.
"Ask him about his idea of a funeral some time.â€
Was all she said. Eiryk had started life with traditional Scandinavian beliefs and his idea of a funeral... yeah. Sure it had altered over the course of his life but black didn't always mean death and morning to him. So the color wouldn't be an issue.
Still maybe it could be softer. Looking around Pak found one that was still black but had been tooled with an abstract pattern that had an old world meets new world flair. It felt a bit more homey. She held it out.
"I'd say the one you have or this one. Either would be good.â€
While the two women went to look at the display of photo albums Kem wandered to the display of little glass animals. They were exquisite. Carefully picking one up he turned it over to look for a maker's mark. There it was, a tiny little stamp in the shape of a paw print. No initials, no name. He turned the tag over on it. It was simply printed. Cat's Paw Designs.
"Do you like it?" The sales girl stood there with a smile. "The artist is local to Nachton. She makes these for us and donates the proceeds to a local women's shelter."
"Really?" Kem raised his eyebrows. "All the profit?"
"All of it," the girl said. "They're some of our best sellers at Christmas, but they go pretty quick the rest of the year too."
"I can imagine," Kem said absently. Maybe he was jaded by years of immortality but when someone did something this time-consuming and donated all of their profits, it just sang 'vampire' to him. He'd seen people work in sculpted glass; it was not a quick and easy task.
"Are you looking for a certain animal? She does all kinds."
Kem blinked himself back to the present conversation and smiled. "Yeah, Is there a raccoon?"
The girl located it and held it up. It was adorable, he had to admit. It sat upon its haunches, bushy striped tail wrapped over its hind feet, clever little front paws grasping a holly berry with a bright green leaf, holding it out as if offering it, little masked face peering curiously out from behind it.
"Oh. I think that's perfect," he said with a smile. Aishe would love it, and he had to admit the little creature was astonishingly realistic.
"I can wrap it and hold it at the front counter if you want to keep shopping." The girl was looking at him with a smile. Staring, really, somewhat wide-eyed. Kem was used to it. He just smiled back and nodded.
"Thanks. We'll be up in a few minutes."
He made his way to the back of the store where Pak and Aishe were holding a black photo album tooled with a neat pattern on it.
"That looks good," he said when Aishe turned to him, a question in her eyes.
"Viking funeral. True," she said. Aishe didn't know all the details but she hadn't studied archaeology for nothing, and mixed in had been plenty of anthropological courses. She should know better than to ascribe current American cultural beliefs to her immortal friends. Eiryk wouldn't see black as a mournful color, if he still held to the beliefs of his origins.
Kem rejoined them shortly and Aishe held the book up to him. He looked at it and nodded; she knew he would quickly make the connection Pak had reminded her of.
He voiced his approval and Aishe didn't need to browse further; she wasn't a wishy-washy shopper. She thought Eiryk would appreciate the album even if the full significance of it didn't immediately hit him. An album was a lovely gift to get a couple moving into their first home together, so the long-term implications of such a gift may never actually surface. She hoped they didn't, not for a very long time.
They browsed around the store for a little while longer. Aishe looked around for items that stood out to her. She didn't immediately see anything she thought would appeal to Cris or Rowan, and she had no idea what to get for Alfarinn either, although she knew she wanted to get him something.
She did find a little package of holiday cards, nice and non-denominational with a simple message of best wishes for peace and joy in the winter season. Every year since coming to Nachton she had sent a card to Mai, the woman she'd assumed was a young girl who had been so friendly and kind to her when she'd first arrived. She had been mortified to learn otherwise but she'd sent a card anyhow after a little debate and was pleased when, in return, she had received a little holiday origami every year. It always made her smile. She didn't know if Mai was simply being polite but Aishe liked to think that maybe a holiday card would make her smile, too.
As they brought their purchases to the register the sales girl smiled and produced a little square box for Kem. He, in turn, opened it and showed Aishe the little glass raccoon within.
"Oh my," Aishe said, barely containing a squeal of delight, "It's so cute!"
She turned to show it to Pak, too, just in case their friend hadn't gotten a good look.
Pak, however, didn't buy any cards. She had depressingly few people to send them to. She had depressingly few people to get them from... Although she did find some nice hand made paper, Eiryk might like. His was the one card she looked forward to getting each year. He might be able to use the paper. She picked up one or two other little things some other folks might like but nothing terribly impressive or personal.
As they made their way to the registrar she got a good look at the ornament Kem picked out. It was adorable. She recognized it as one of Mara's connection. There was no way that Kem could realize he was including his still living daughter in his holiday by purchasing the little critter. The idea, however, made Pak a bit warm and fuzzy. She'd have to tell her friend, no doubt Mara would appreciate it.
"It is brilliantly sweet. I think I've seen these before, they are very well made and I think Eiryk has one, a fox.â€
Oddly enough Pak did not have one. She'd have to find one that spoke to her thought. She didn't have the same affinity for any animal that Mara, Eiryk or Aishe had so it might be a bit trickier.
"Of course it is probably a good thing we didn't bring him to look at these. We' have to buy them all.â€
He smiled at Pak's assessment. Eiryk did tend to go overboard sometimes. Alex seemed to provide a voice of reason on those occasions... or, at least, a voice of limitation. "These don't seem like such a bad thing to collect," he said. "I don't know about all at once though... I like to savor things."
He wouldn't mind getting another little glass creature again next year... until their tree was full of them. Buying them all at once, though, would kill the excitement of anticipation.
They made their purchases and left the gift shop, heading back out into the cold. Kem turned to Aishe. "So I'm guessing we have Alex next on our list? The first aid kit is out. What do we get him?"
The possibilities were endless. Whereas Eiryk was difficult to buy for because he tended to have everything he needed or wanted already, his boyfriend was the opposite. Frugal, cash-stressed Alex generally had no money for anything and a proud streak about seventy miles wide that made it difficult to do even the smallest of kindnesses for him. He made concessions for Eiryk but other outside help was met with desperate gratitude and a sense of obligation, as if Alex was adding favors up in his head and determined to repay them at some future point. Even when none was expected or desired.
So how did you buy a gift for someone you cared about who needed everything and wanted to accept nothing? Well, at least they could point out that it was Christmas. Not even Alex's pride could withstand the force of the gift-giving season.
Kem thought about Alex for a few minutes. He loved the outdoors but he owned a camping and supply store; anything they could buy him related to that would have been more easily obtained at cost from his own supplier. Cris and Rowan had helped move him in with Eiryk a few months ago but Aishe and Kem had visited shortly after and had been only slightly surprised that Alex's possessions were much fewer than Eiryk's.
"This is going to sound awful," he finally said, "but - something for the kitchen maybe?"
Alexander loved to cook. Every time they got together he dove into Kem and Aishe's kitchen and he and Kem experimented. Kem was turning into a decent cook himself thanks to his unspoken competition with Reign, and he'd been enjoying his mad laboratory time with Alex.
"And how," she emphasized. "Should I list all the things you've savored in the past few years?"
It was said innocently... she intentionally hinted that the word 'savor' could be used interchangeably with 'procrastinate' in Kem's case. She meant it humorously though, and knew that he understood it.
"Maybe I should gross out Pak and just stick to the things you savored this morning?"
And that got her the pleasure of seeing Kiamhaat's face turn bright red as they left the gift shop. Aishe laughed softly, staggering sideways a little as Kem pushed her gently.
He recovered well, though. Aishe nodded up at him when he directed the attention back to their current task. "Yes, Alex is next."
She could practically see wheels turning in Kem's head. Aishe thought that perhaps out of all of them Kem might best be able to nail down a good present for Alex; the two of them had been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately.
She chuckled when he raised the idea of a kitchen toy. "So, no frilly pink apron implying he's Eiryk's devoted little housewife, huh?"
She could only imagine what reaction that would get them. Alex could be somewhat prickly on the topic of his hobby, not to mention his independence. From what Aishe had gathered, Alexander's parents had not been very understanding of their son's gentle nature and had frowned on his spending any time in the kitchen as a youth.
"I think he'd like it if we bought him something to cook with," Aishe said. "I don't think he got very much support in that area. He'd probably appreciate knowing we all think he's delicious."
She flickered a glance at Kem. "I mean that we all think his cooking is delicious."
It was said with more innocence. And it was a testament to the strength of their relationship now that Kiamhaat merely grinned and rolled his eyes.
And just then she wanted to be back in her apartment. Rather ostentatiously she clapped her hand over her ears and did a quick 'la la la'.
"Let us not and pretend we did. Thank you very much.â€
If this got out of hand Kem and Aishe would just have to remember she was the one with the car keys and Pak would have no issues leaving them behind if they got all ew on her. It was much better to turn back to the focus of their trip.
"Some of us still have Eiryk on our list.â€
Pak grumbled a bit, but she wasn't really worried. They had all night and something would pop up. Allowing herself a bit of a snicker at the idea of Eiryk in a frilly apron Pak scowled at Kem.
"That isn't nice get out of my head please.â€
She liked Alex a great deal, she would have even if he hadn't been good for Eiryk and made her friend stupidly happy. But she wasn't quite sure how he felt about her so she was a little hesitant about what to get him, even if there was no question about including him in her holiday celebration.
"I had been thinking of some really nice olive oil or aged balsamic... maybe some nice knives? What the hell do cooks need?â€
"He's still on ours too. I don't think we're stopping at one store."
He rolled his eyes at Aishe's quip about Alex but couldn't fault her on either score. Alex was adorable, if you swung that way, and he did cook like a fiend. The good kind of fiend. He thought his cooking efforts were all right but his friends had been on the receiving end enough to consider them more than all right, bordering on pretty damn good.
He spoke up once more, a little hesitant to suggest it. Most women he knew threatened death to people who got the kitchen equipment but in this case cooking was Alex's hobby.
"An immersion blender," he said, actually amused at the fact that he knew what an immersion blender was. "It's a hand held blender, you know? You stick it in a bowl and turn on the switch and viola, it's all done."
Alex had mentioned it a few weeks ago, in passing. Kem was certain he didn't expect to be receiving one for Christmas but it had come up in conversation. They weren't terribly expensive but Alex couldn't justify spending money on it when he had a regular blender.
He realized that didn't help Pak any, if he and Aishe bought Alex the gadget he wanted so he added, "A new cutting board. Eiryk's is... um, nicked."
There wasn't any reason to go into great detail about how Eiryk's cutting board might have gotten that way. Everyone there could imagine it on their own.
"That's what you talk about?"
Kem shrugged and nodded. Aishe laughed. "Figures. But it sounds like you have some good ideas about what we should be getting him. I wish I could say the same about Eiryk. I tried to feel him out about a new Wii game a few weeks ago and he just went out and bought it."
Typical Eiryk. They'd come up with something for him besides the album. Kem, however, was giving Pak another idea for Alex. "You're a genius," she said, smiling up at him.
She understood Kiamhaat's hesitance. The gifts he'd suggested for Alex seemed dull, almost pointless as presents, but they were things Alex would use over and over and not for work, but for his own enjoyment. He didn't have to cook; Eiryk would buy him five star meals every day if Alex would let him but that was what Alex liked to do so a new cutting board, well, it would have more meaning for Alex.
"So we need a kitchen store, yeah?" Aishe looked around the area of the strip they were in. "Down that way, to the left I think."
Turning to Pak she added, "Any knives we buy need to come with a locking cabinet or something."
"Kem, you're scaring me.â€
She raised her eyebrows at the idea of a nicked cutting board.
"How much of Eiryk was left on the board?â€
Nope she didn't want to know how. Pak just wanted to know how much Eiryk had to regenerate and what kind of mess it made of the kitchen. She might have to crash one of these little get togethers, but that was the hazards of being single when everyone else was a couple.
Ha! there, that was an idea. Pak practically beamed at Aishe, she had thought of a good idea and she was willing to bet that her friend had no idea about one of Eiryk's hobbies. Well maybe she had an idea but it might not be something she'd think of.
"He collects first edition mystery novels. Maybe... well...â€
They didn't have to be 'old' either. So they weren't always expensive you just had to find them. And because you couldn't just go to the store and get them even Eiryk couldn't just walk into a store and get one. It was the whole thrill of the hunt thing.
"It's an idea any way.â€
Pak finished weakly as they walked down the festive streets to a nice kitchen wear store which was right where Aishe said it would be.
"Do they sell training knives or something?â€
Still the idea of a cutting board and some nice knives seemed like a good idea. She hoped Alex would like them.
That was pretty much the secret to any friendship, Kem had realized. Not that he hadn't been inclined to listen anyway, but it seemed like with Alex you had to listen extra hard to understand the meaning in everything he said. Kem knew the kitchen gadgets would mean a lot to him. He wouldn't say it out loud but he desperately sought approval from his partner, from his friends, even when they already approved and then some.
He winced when Pak asked about the cutting board. "Enough that Aishe and I both smelled it from the living room. Alex is pretty quick with a tourniquet though. Lots of practice by now, I guess."
Pak's idea seemed like a pretty good one for Eiryk so Kem nodded. "He'd probably love that."
The next one, though, made him scratch his head. "Training knives? What, like with little corks on the sharp bits or something?"
He could just see the two of them in the kitchen, Alex chopping happily away, Eiryk next to him with a glass of mead and a knife with blunted blades, waving it around as he talked.
"I think maybe we should just avoid cutlery."
And they both made killer hot chocolate, she'd recently discovered.
She echoed Kem's sentiments about a book for Eiryk. "Oh that's a great idea Pak. You know, you should go to the mall at Meridian and ask Grisha."
Aishe might still be slightly intimidated by her 'grandfather' but he sure knew his books. Beside her, Kiamhaat nodded his agreement.
Aishe continued. "Eiryk goes in there a lot. And Grisha knows everything... and I mean everything about the books people look at in his store. He probably knows what Eiryk's been interested in recently."
It was the perfect sneaky way to get someone a present. Aishe thought Pak had hit on a really good one there.
They entered the kitchen store and looked around a bit. There were lots of winter-related gifts; s'mores kits, mulled cider kits, holiday recipe books. While Kem found what he wanted Aishe browsed, keeping her eyes open for anything that might suit Cris or Rowan. Or Alfarinn, for that matter, she thought as she wandered through the wine section.
Nothing jumped out at her though. Maybe this gift selection thing wasn't her forte.