Ordinary World Soap Opera
An Online Soap Opera

Episode 1043: It's True

Avalon knelt on the soft cobalt blue rug in the children’s section of her store. She’d set up the area to feel extra cozy and encourage her kid customers to sit and page through books so they could make the most informed choice on what they’d enjoy most.

Kimiko, a small girl with the most adorable dimples sat opposite Ava, practically bouncing as she awaited Ava’s verdict on her summer reading challenge, while Kimiko’s mother browsed a nearby shelf.

“I’m so impressed,” Ava enthused as she looked through the booklet each participant had been given to track their reading. “You’ve read some great ones, did you have fun with it? It didn’t feel like a chore having to read a book from each category, maybe some kinds you wouldn’t normally try?”

“I liked that part best, I didn’t know I’d like an outer space book.”

“Awesome. I’m glad it expanded your reading life.” Ava grinned. “You did so well with this Kimiko that I have some rewards for you.” Ava presented the girl with a badge, some stickers, a bookmark, and a voucher for a brand new book.

Kimiko squealed in delight and her mother came over, saying, “Kimi really has loved doing this all summer. I think I’ll treat her to an additional book or two. I’m so proud of the progress she’s made with her reading skills.”

That was exactly what Avalon had hoped to accomplish with the summer reading challenge. Of course a parent buying books from her store was a welcome bonus, but the point had been to get kids reading more, whether they shopped at her store or borrowed from the library. It felt good to do something at work that wasn’t solely about commerce. Sometimes Ava spent so much time worrying over the bottom-line that she wondered how she was any different from some money driven person like Sebastian’s father.

But this. This felt good. With a satisfied smile, Ava left Kimiko to choose her books and nearly walked right into Xavier.

“Looks like you have a happy customer.” Xavier nodded to Kimiko a few feet away, practically dancing as she scanned the shelves.

“She made a bit of a leap forward in her reading this summer and the store played a part in her accomplishment, so she isn’t the only one feeling happy about it,” Ava said.

Xavier scrubbed a hand through his hair. “That’s great, so um, I thought maybe I could find a gift for Tansy here. Back to school is looming and not her favorite so I thought I’d get her something to lift her spirits a little. I guess I’m kind of doing the same thing you are here, doing parent type things without actually being a parent.”

But that wasn’t right. The truth was, Xavier actually was a parent, he just didn’t know it. Ava wanted to put that thought out of her mind, she’d agreed she wouldn’t say anything to him about this so it seemed better not to think about it. But it was difficult not to think about it when he was in the midst of doing something so thoughtful for Tansy, something so like what a good father would do. Ava really believed that to be true, that, if given half the chance, Xavier would be a good father.

Episode 1044: Blame

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