I stopped at the booth on the third floor of Pentagon City Mall, right outside Nordstrom. I hated fucking shopping, and if some stranger had a good idea, I mean, what the hell, beats the gift basket crap I usually fall back on. Plus I have a cheap-o of a Welsh husband, likes to hold onto cash and horde it like a freakin' Scroogy miser, (was Scrooge secretly Welsh, I wonder?) so, ya know, a bargain would be good. I was just pulling my list out when I looked up and saw those beautiful blue eyes of his (Sparky's - not Welsh-boy's) and the smirk playing around his mouth, and oh, that sure was a nice mouth, and... Dammit, Robin, snap out of it, I told myself. You've gotta be strong.
"Oh, no." I said. You've got to be kidding me!"
Sparky looked at me. "You said that last time."
"I meant that last time. And I mean it this time - you've got to be kidding me. YOU - a gift counselor? And who ever heard of a gift counselor, anyway?"
"Well, you were heading for the gift-counseling booth, weren't you?"
"Yeah. Well. Yeah, I was, until I saw it was you manning it."
Sparky grinned. "But you still came over."
"So are you gonna help me?"
"Help you what?"
"Think of gift crap for people?"
"Sure," he said. "Show me your list."
I showed him.
He looked, and tossed the list back. "Let me ask you a question. How thoughtful are these people when it comes to your gift each year?"
"Well," I said. "I always get crap I don't want. I even tell them what I want when they ask, pens and writing journals and a couple of novels I'd like in hardback, that kind of thing, but they never do it."
"Get 'em gift baskets with white wine and chocolates, then, and you can drink the wine with 'em, and give yourself a gift at the same time, see? Sort of a gift that keeps on giving. To you."
"That's what I do every year anyway."
"Well, you were right all along, then. That will be twenty-five dollars."
"And a kiss?"