"Ma ma ma."
"Ssh, poppet, I'm looking for the pudding. Where does your housekeeper put it?"
"Em em em." Charles makes a sucking sound from his perch on the table, and when she looks up Emma has to admit that she's impressed at how much of his foot he's managed to get into his mouth.
She puts her hands on her hips and leans over his carry chair, wrinkling her nose to make him laugh. "Where's your sock gone, poppet? Did you take it off again?" Very gently she presses the idea of his sock into the baby's mind - soft/warm/foot/takeitoff/toes - and gets back a wordless burble of don'tlike/toes/throwaway that makes her sigh. "You won't like it any better when your feet get cold."
He's a sweet little thing, Baby Xavier, she admits reluctantly as she starts casting around on the floor for his wayward sock, closing the door of the refrigerator to keep the cold in. He doesn't fuss much and he never throws up on her without making a little sad noise first, like he's warning her; with his wavy hair and round little face he could easily be a cherub in some church painting, bright-eyed and rosy-cheeked and giggling to himself as he starts working on the other foot. It's a shame his mother doesn't have much time for him, but Mr Xavier is alright. He always has the driver take Emma home when he and his wife get back from their evenings out, and he doesn't seem to mind Charles' telepathy the way his wife does.
So it's not as bad as she thought it was going to be, babysitting, though Emma hasn't told Daddy that yet. Let him keep bribing her to do it to butter up Mr Xavier and maybe by Christmas Emma can have a whole set of Tiffany jewellery to go with her dress. One night one diamond, as Mama used to say.
Charles manages to get the other sock off and drops it with a sound of delight as his other set of toes are discovered intact. "Oooo!"
Emma rolls her eyes and bends to pick it up, spots the other one under the table and grabs that, too. "Come on, then. Let's go try on your Mommy's dresses. You can be my date.”
"Em em em."
"That's me," she says softly, and Charles reaches out his pudgy little arms for a hug. She leaves the carry chair where it is and picks him up instead to take him upstairs, his squishy face resting on her shoulder. He's limp and trusting against her chest, kicking his feet every so often to feel the breeze between his toes. "Emma wants to try on some Gucci."
"If she notices I'm blaming it on you."