“Hi,” Elizabeth said shyly, not looking up from the floor.
Cole released his mother’s hand and walked casually over to stand in front of him. Edward couldn’t help but grin at the little guy. Cole crossed his arms over his little chest and looked Edward over. Then with a slight nod as if what he saw met with his approval Cole thrust out his hand.
“I’m Cole,” he announced.
Edward reached out and took the small little tanned hand into his own. He was surprised how delicate and warm the hand felt. He’d never really been around kids. Hell, he couldn’t think of anyone he knew who had kids.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Cole. I’m Edward.”
Cole nodded firmly as he took his hand away and gestured to his bigger sister. “Dats Elizabeth.”
Edward smiled at the little girl. “It’s nice to meet you, Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth gave him another one of those shy smiles.
“Hello,” she said softly.
While he was saying hello to Elizabeth Cole took it upon himself to climb onto his lap.
“Ah, Cole, what did we talk about?" Dana asked, looking embarrassed.
Edward chuckled as he adjusted the boy so he could straddle the end of his leg. Cole leaned forward, planted both elbows on the table and rested his chin in his upturned hands, no doubt giving his mother an innocent look.
“It’s okay,” Edward said.
“He’s my new friend,” Cole announced.
Dana worried her lip. “I’m really sorry.”
“It’s really okay,” Edward chuckled. “Like he said we’re buddies.”
“See,” Cole said smugly.
Elizabeth gently tugged on Dana’s tee shirt. “What is it, baby girl?” Dana asked.
“We didn’t get to do the food shopping today, because of Deana’s tooth. Are we going to do it now?”
“I guess we’re gonna have to if you guys want to eat, huh?”
Elizabeth nodded firmly.
“I get to sit in the carriage!” Cole announced.
“That’s not fair!” Elizabeth replied.
Dana pinched the bridge of her nose between two fingers. “Guys, it’s just the three of us. I can’t push two carriages so only one of you can sit in the carriage and since Cole is the youngest I’m afraid it’s going to have to be him.”
Instead of arguing or throwing a fit like he’d seen countless number of kids do out in public Elizabeth nodded dutifully.
Dana pushed a loose strand of hair back as she focused on him. “I’m really sorry about this.”
Edward waved it off. “Don’t worry about it.” Then a thought occurred to him. “What grocery store are you going to?”
She frowned as she answered. “McKinley’s over by Pizza Genius.”
Perfect. That was five minutes away from his house, a house that currently held no food or beverages in it. “Any chance you wouldn’t mind me tagging along and teaching me how to shop?”
Dana and Elizabeth laughed as they watched Edward struggle with the little cloth seat belt of the carriage. Cole tried to belt himself into the carriage, but it didn’t work and Edward was refusing their help. "It’s a man’s job," he said with a smile and a wink.
They watched with humor until the little plastic belt snapped off. Then Dana cringed. Something like this would have set her ex off. Actually, Jeff would have started bitching and yelling a few minutes ago when he couldn’t get the belt to cooperate.
Unfortunately the kids remembered all too well how their father behaved even if they hadn’t seen him in almost a year. Elizabeth gasped and cringed away, expecting Edward to start yelling and blaming them and Dana for the carriage’s incompetence. Cole sat there silently crying. Before Dana could sweep in and take Cole into her arms Edward was there.
He smiled warmly at Cole as he gently picked him up and out of the carriage. Cole cringed, expecting to be on the receiving end of Edward’s anger. His father had only hit Cole one time and that had been one time too many. Thankfully by then they were already separated. She took a picture of Cole’s back and had the police have a word with the oversized bully.
“Guess we’ll have to get another carriage, buddy,” Edward said casually as he wiped the tears off of Cole’s cheeks. Cole nodded as Edward placed him into another carriage and finally managed to belt him in. Then the men high fived each other and Cole was back to smiling.
“So, what now?” Edward asked.
When he asked to join them, no, correction, for her to teach him how to shop, she thought he was kidding. Now she wasn’t so sure.
“You really don’t know how to shop?” she whispered, trying not to embarrass him.
He gave her a sheepish smile and a shrug. “No.”
“Really?” She couldn’t hide her shock. He was in his mid twenties. By twelve she’d been doing all the household shopping for a year.
“When I was a kid Amy used to go with our mom. I never wanted to. I lived at home up until a few years ago.” Another shrug. “I was never around long enough to need an apartment or house of my own. I was always filming. Since I bought my house," another shrug, "well, I’m still not there much, but when I am I usually have a service that does it for me or my mother or sister does it for me.”
“Oh.” She thought that over. Then frowned. “If they do it for you then why do you want to learn? I don’t mind showing you, but I am curious.”
He sighed heavily. “The service isn’t reliable and sometimes they charge me and never bring the food so I’m stuck with nothing to eat or drink. Worse if they do remember to actually do it they forget half the stuff. When my family does it they completely ignore what I want and buy what they like.” He grimaced. “I’m getting sick of fat free yogurt and diet corn flakes and tomato juice. I swear Amy always forgets that she’s not buying for herself.”
“Ah, gotcha,” Dana said, smiling. She’d hate to have a houseful of food that she didn’t want.
“I can help!” Cole cried out.
“Me too!” Elizabeth piped in, acting less shy.
Edward smiled at the children. “Alright guys, let’s get this done.”
“Mommy, he’s silly!” Cole giggled.
Dana had to agree as she watched Edward lovingly pick up a box of cookies and place them in his carriage. He paused and then grabbed two more packages.