Barba finished work a little early and began to pack up his things, he glanced at the time and then paused for a moment. It's not as though he'd never visited Olivia and Noah after work before…although in the past his visits had frequently been connected to work, or at least that was their excuse. This would be the first time that he would be visiting them in light of their changing relationship.
Relationship. That word had many different connotations, but in this particular context, it sounded wonderful.
The corner of his mouth turned up in a slight smile as he slipped on his coat. Then he walked out, passing Carmen with a polite nod then slowing down a little to ask her a question. "Do you know the nearest toy store?" He asked.
Carmen looked surprised by the request but nodded. "The Toy Chest, right on Worth then…maybe three blocks down on the left? It might be easier to take a cab."
He said thank you and began to make his way out again.
"Someone's birthday?" She asked, trying not to sound too curious.
Barba was suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to tell someone, so he gave in to a little temptation and replied as casually as possible. "A gift for my girlfriend's son…" He controlled his smile as he watched Carmen try to restrain her own surprise.
After a few seconds, Carmen gathered her thoughts. "Well then… I hope you have a nice evening, Sir." She paused and then added, "...if it's of any interest the florist opposite is excellent."
He smiled and nodded gratefully. Perfect. "Thank you, Carmen, see you tomorrow."
He left his assistant sitting at her desk with a grin on her face, it was about time she saw her boss looking more than a little love-struck.
Barba wandered around the toy store a while later and felt a little overwhelmed by his options. He wanted to get Noah something perfect…but he didn't want his impromptu shopping trip to make him late for dinner.
He walked around the corner and came across a series of impressive Lego sculptures. They made him smile so he walked over. He paused to look a little longingly at a Millennium Falcon model before shaking his head and moving on, he would have loved that when he was a child…but it was far too advanced for Noah's age.
Then he came to the end of the Lego shelves and found a collection of Duplo Lego bricks for younger children. He hadn't seen Noah playing with any of these before.
The large colourful bricks were laid out in sets and he reached to pick one up, looking at the box and then turning it over to scan the back.
"Can I help you, sir?" A young girl asked with a genuinely friendly smile.
"This is the right age range...but do children like these?" He asked, worried that he would get Noah something he didn't like.
"They love them. You're shopping for your…son or daughter?" The girl asked.
"My…" Barba shrugged, "…well, my girlfriend's son. My first gift was a big hit so I feel like I have a lot to live up to."
The girl, who Barba noticed from her badge was called Holly, nodded and her eyes warmed. "Oh, isn't that nice? Well...as you're giving the gift so much thought I'm sure that they will both love whatever you choose."
They looked at all the boxes together and then Holly asked, "Does he already have any building bricks?"
Barba shrugged, "He has a set of colourful wooden bricks, they're his favourite toy, but nothing like this."
"You know the child pretty well then?" Holly asked. "I mean, you know what he likes?"
Barba nodded, "I'd like to think so, his mom and I have been friends for a long time."
"How about a brick box? Nice and simple. Let him get used to them? We have sets of bricks in multi-colours…" she leaned down and picked up two, "…or these? This one includes a few cars...and this one has a selection of animals."
He looked at the car-themed box and then smiled at the animals. It was a large box of bricks; yellow, orange, red, green, blue, grey, black and white…with several animal bricks. He could see a panda, a monkey, a tiger, a penguin and an elephant. Barba nodded and selected that box. "He loves animals, I think this will be perfect. Thank you, Holly, you've been very helpful."
Holly smiled proudly, "I'm sure the little boy will love his gift, sir."
Barba paid and then walked outside with his bags. He saw the florist opposite and paused for a second wondering if it would be too much. Then he smiled and shook his head, he wanted to buy Olivia flowers so now that he felt he could, he may even make a habit of it.