Kate Westin was a woman with a problem, and not just any problem, but one uniquely her own. She stared at a display of tools and sighed.
How do you Christmas shop for an Invisible Man? She wondered as she picked up a set of screwdrivers. Dan had all the high tech tools and gizmos that he could want. Their boss saw to that and, in turn, the KLAE resource, as Dan was now referred to, danced to his tune. It made Danny crazy that he was still tied to the organization, but until he could rebuild his machine, literally from the ground up, he had no choice.
“Danny, why did you do it?” she murmured, exchanging the screwdrivers for a ratchet set. “Why are you so impulsive?” She was thinking of how Danny turned the machine on himself, making himself invisible, then destroying it along with his notes to keep the military from getting it. The plan was that a few hours later he would become visible again and all would be well. It didn’t work that way. It never worked that way.
“Yours, too?” The voice startled her and she glanced over at the woman standing beside her.
“Husbands and their half-finished projects. I’m never sure if I’m helping him finish one or encouraging him to start another.” The woman dropped a set of drill bits into her nearly overflowing-with-toys shopping cart. “Oh, well, here’s hoping the extra bathroom gets done in time for my parents.”
Kate smiled. “Good luck!” Secretly, she envied the woman’s plight. Kate would love to have something so mundane to worry about. She looked down at her own meager collection and picked up a teddy bear. And children. She would love to be shopping for children, hers, not someone else’s. However until they got Dan’s problem solved, she didn’t dare get pregnant.
That’s when she spotted a familiar face picking his way through a selection of sweaters. “Why, Dan Westin, you are casting aspersions upon the name of men everywhere by Christmas shopping before Christmas Eve.”
Dan looked up and grinned at his wife. “Should I even ask what you are doing here?”
Kate adjusted her camelhair coat over the cart’s contents. “No, you should not. And you?”
“No reason. Just thought I’d check things out.”
“What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas this year, Doctor?”
“He’s already brought me the best gift ever. I have you.” Dan embraced his wife and gave her a kiss.
She laughed and pushed him playfully away. “It wasn’t Santa, silly, it was your enormous--”
“KATE!” Dan shouted and people turned to look at him. “Sorry.”
“Class load, you goof. I was your tutor, remember?”
“Oh yeah, some lessons better than others.”
“You’re incorrigible, Dr. Westin.”
“It’s why you love me, Dr. Westin.” They kissed again. “But I’m serious. What do you need, Danny?”
“Aside from the obvious?” Dan looked down at his hand, only invisible because of the glove-like appliance he wore.
“Nothing. I have more sweaters and razors than I know what to do with. I have a comfortable home, a rewarding job and a lovely wife. I need nothing.” Danny stifled a yawn. “Well, sleep, but you know how that is.”
“Mm, I still love those words.” He checked his watch. “Whoops, gotta go.”
“A man about a horse.”
Kate laughed. That was his stock answer when he didn’t want her to know what he was really doing. “Well, remember dinner is at six.”
“Got it.” Dan gave her a thumbs up and hurried away.
Kate watched him disappear into the crowd and turned back to her own task. Then she saw something and an idea began to form in her head.
People never thought that it got cold in Southern California and for the most part, they were right. However, some nights the temperatures did dip enough to warrant a fire and Christmas Eve was one of them. They had developed a habit of opening gifts on Christmas Eve so that they could spend the day with their parents.
There were times Kate missed the insanity of that last minute racing around, trying to make sure everything was ready in time for dinner and create something from nothing. Those days there was just enough to hold body and soul together, but somehow they always had a lovely day.
Then they lost her mother and Danny’s father and things got a little less crazed. Then her father and a year later, Danny’s mother. The day seemed empty now, but tradition was tradition.
She looked down at her hand, admiring the ring Dan had presented her with. They had all the money they needed now and no one to share it with besides each other. The nearby furniture overflowed with torn wrapping paper and ribbons and gifts were stacked on the floor.
“I have one more gift for you.” Dan held out a small box.
“Me, too.” Hers was a bit bigger, but still small.
“Okay.” Kate tore off the paper and opened the box. “An early pregnancy kit? What is it?”
“It’s to help you detect--”
“I know that, Danny, I mean, what is it?”
“That man about a horse? I went to a fertility clinic and they assured me that there is nothing that would indicate any kind of genetic issues.” His robe gaped, revealing nothing but the inside of the garment. “My invisibility, however inconvenient for me, is only my problem. Ten minutes and I had all the answers I needed.”
Tears started to trickle from Kate‘s eyes. “How did you know?”
“You’ve been sighing a lot lately and I see what you are looking at when you do.” He reached out for his wife. “It’s time, Kate. No more excuses.”
“You might want to hold off on that for just a bit longer, Danny.” Kate sniffled and pushed a package toward him.
With a grin, he ripped off the paper. For a moment, he just looked at the box’s contents. Then he held up the flimsy garment. “Somehow, I don’t think I’m going to fit into this.”
“It’s a see through nightie.”
“It certainly is.”
“There’s a second part to it.” She watched him carefully lay the material down and pick up an envelope.
“Plane tickets to where?” He frowned at the name.
“It’s a small town in Colorado. Secluded cabins, nothing to do but sleep and eat for a week. I’ve already cleared your schedule with Carlson. We leave tomorrow.”
“Kate, it’s perfect… Wait, nothing to do, but sleep and eat?” He held up the nightie and Kate giggled.
“You can see right through me, Doctor Westin.”
“That makes two of us, Doctor Westin.”