Eve squatted beside the boys for a better look as they continued turning pages, gleefully pointing to fire engines and bulldozers and police cars. "It looks to me like you're asking for every toy in the book."
"Not the girls stuff," Harry said, making a face. "We don't want dolls!"
"Or baby toys," Bobby added. "Just the boys' toys on all of these pages." Eve watched them flip through a few more pages, chorusing, "I want this and this..."
She frowned. "There isn't room in this house for all of those toys. And besides, you have so many playthings already."
"But they're old toys, Mommy. These are new toys. We're going to ask Santa for all of these new toys when we see him at the parade tonight."
"The parade? That's tonight?"
"Yep. Did you forget, Mommy?"
"I may have, yes. I had a busy day at work." A mind-numbing day, actually. One that was exactly like the day before it and the one before that, clacking out letters in a windowless office as part of a typing pool. After paying her rent and a portion of the debt she felt she owed Audrey, Eve would be lucky to have enough money left over to buy one toy for Harry, let alone an entire catalogue full of them.
Audrey poked her head around the corner from the kitchen. "Dinner is ready. Wash up, please."
Eve stood and walked toward Audrey. "Where did they get the catalogue?"
"It's called the Wish Book, Mommy," Harry called to her.
"I think it came about a month ago, but I found it again when I straightened up this morning. They've been glued to it all afternoon." The boys stood to wash their hands, carrying the catalogue to the bathroom with them.
"Look at that, Bobby!" she heard Harry saying as they went. "It's a whole service station, with gasoline pumps and cars and everything!"
"I want one!"
"That Wish Book seems to have opened a Pandora's box of greedy longing," Eve told Audrey with a sigh. When they finally sat down at the kitchen table, Harry bolted his food in record time. "Hurry, Mommy, hurry!" he begged. "We're gonna miss the Santa Claus Parade."
Eve continued to eat at a leisurely pace. "Don't worry. We have plenty of time."
"Do you have to go away tonight, Mummy?" Bobby asked Audrey. The worried look on his face was exactly like his mother's. Audrey had been a worrier for as long as Eve had known her, which was most of their thirty-two years. They had met as twelve-year-olds in the woods surrounding Wellingford Hall, where Eve's mother served as lady's maid to Audrey's mother, the wealthy and aristocratic Lady Rosamunde.
"No, my classes are all finished for the semester," Audrey replied.
"Don't you remember how anxious your mum was when she was studying for her exams last week?" Eve asked. "We barely got a full sentence out of her."
"My final marks came in the mail today," Audrey said quietly.
"Well, are you going to show us or were they a disaster?"
Audrey smiled her shy, Audrey smile, dipping her head as if bowing before royalty. "They weren't bad."
"Let me guess—you earned top marks in both classes, am I right?"
"Good job, you! We'll have to celebrate."
This excerpt ends on page 19 of the hardcover edition.
Monday we begin the book Woman in Shadow by Carrie Stuart Parks.