As promised, Ergo spent the entire morning glaring at them and after a quick fix with the breakfast, which he nearly tossed at Joni, who seemed overexited to join in on the shopping after hearing others were gonna watch a horror flick, despite it being nothing more than a children’s action movie, Ergo simply ignored the world around them.
Which was fine in Maksim’s book, because he knew how hard it was to accept you did something wrong if you “followed the rules”, or more like nobody stopped you from doing the wrong deed. It wasn’t the first time he’d clashed his horns with the shopkeeper. He himself had fallen to that trap, which his father also took out on him instead of going against the only shop owner in town, making him fume with injustice and conspiracy of the adults. Which is exactly why he took them in the Moonmace instead on excuse of more choices in food department. They loaded in the van without fuss and he reluctantly gave Jevgeni their ticket fair together with the change for candies. He’ll regret the candies, he was sure, but they had big field he guessed they could dig out if their energy overflew. He hated to put the eldest in charge over them, he felt the boy was doing it too much already, but this time he had no choice, and Laura seemed to trust him.
She started the clock on her mobile the moment the guys were out of their vision and turned around, grabbed Ergo’s hand and nudged Maksim to take Joni before they headed down to the food department.
He admired her ability to do two things at the same time, firmly prison Ergo’s hand and digging through her handbag for the list of groceries. He reached out to take the boy, but he stung to her harder and he gave up. She was meticulously organized. He’d noticed this back when she came in the firs time. At first he’d put it down on her wanting to impress with it, but after he’d seen her produce information on the go and charm out backups of missing maps and whatnot on moment’s notice, he understood that’s what she was like all the time. With them, he guessed, she would have to be.
Instead of her usual folder though, she brought out already prepared printer paper with all the necessities listed, including the list of extras should she have any money left after this. He knew better than to offer to take care of the grocery list. He knew she’d got the money through fund support and she’d have to provide checks and reports and… he didn’t want to think about it now, when he had just managed to organize his own business so he only had to spend maybe two hours on it every day and meet with businessmen on Mondays.
“Will it be like at the orphanage?” Ergo asked, his eyes running amok on the toy store window.
“Yes,” Laura didn’t raise her eyes from the list, “but without sister Emil.”
Maksim thought he saw the sun come out. He smiled.
“Candy alley is still the last one we go to. And keep Joni away from shiny ceramics!” She warned and the sun went down once more.
“I’m not his baby sitter! Zhenya is!”
“No, he is not. We all watch over each other.” And with that she pushed his little hands towards the trolly park, ordering him to choose two not crooked ones.
They were standing near the cans of fish, searching for tuna from her list while he waited, drumming his fingers on the handle while the boys were choosing their breakfast cereals alley away, when he heard behind him.
“What a hefer! Mother of seven boys already and still grabbing a man, who is way beyond her level!”
“Her eldest is, what, ten? My god, she couldn’t be much older herself then!”
It was interesting to observe her stiffen, the tiny tip of her tongue popping out from the corner of her mouth before it disappeared back behind her her teeth. She glanced back at him, checking his expression, which he hoped he’d schooled, and swung around, reaching after the wrong fish. Maksim blocked her hand and took the right one down. Her eyes locked on the list and then the fish can in his hand, spending awful lot of time on breathing exercise before her face lit up and she couldn’t hide the grin behind the paper. She was stiff as a board when he leaned in and slipped his arm around her waste. She squirmed while his hand traveled around her side all the way to her belly and rested there.
“For heaven’s sake, must they bring the bedroom to the shop? In public now, in such a way!”
Laura felt the agonized sigh leaving his chest as she was pressed against it, and moment later he gave the old couple a menecing glare before letting her go to go tell them off, when Laura’s own hand clamped around his belt buckle and fixed him by her side. He turned his attention to her, contempt with her play, when Ergo clanked the cereal packs against the trolly’s wiring and, glancing back at the couple, murmured while Joni demanded to be picked up. “If you’d kiss her now, that would be awesome!”
Maksim hopped the little one better on his hip and burst laughing. Without waiting, he leaned in to surprised Laura and pecked her on her lips, shocking both the boys and the woman. Joni was first to break out of the shock and followed his example, planting a quick kiss on her cheek before settling into him, burying his red face in his jacket collar. Maksim grabbed the list from her frozen fingers and headed towards the next item group in the list, Ergo following his lead.
Even if this was only for the show, he thought, smacking the boy on the shoulder, when he saw him stuck out his tongue at the shocked ladies, he wouldn’t mind pretending some more, for it felt satisfyingly real.