“Uncle Jethro.... Uncle Jethro....” Victoria whined tiredly.
“What’s wrong with my princess?” Tony slid his hands under her tiny body.
“No...” Victoria fussed. “I don’t want you. You did this to me!”
“Aren’t you sleepy, sweetheart?”
“Yes, I am. I’m exhausted. Can’t you tell? And it’s your fault. I’m telling Santa on you. Or that Nelf that’s hiding next to that clown doll you gave me. I mean, red yarn hair, and blue with white polka dots. You just know it’s an evil clown in hiding. And that Nelf is in cahoots with her. I’m telling them on you.“ Victoria yelled. “Are you listening? I’m gonna tell mommy!”
“Don’t you look beautiful?” Tony rubbed noses gently with his god-daughter. “I love you.”
“I love you, too. But not right now.” Victoria wailed. “How could you do this? You... you monster. Uncle Jethro!!”
“What’s wrong with my princess?” Tony slid his hand under the layers of ruffles.
“Get out of there. I’m not wet or icky.” Victoria ordered. “No, I don’t want a pacifier. I want Uncle Jethro!!!”
“What’s wrong?” Jethro came out of the kitchen looking concerned.
“Finally! Uncle Jethro...” Victoria tried to grab for him. “Make it stop. I want to sleep... please.”
“Here, let me see our sweet angel.” Jethro crooned.
Tony handed her over looking concerned. “She hasn’t napped, just a minute here or there. I checked her diaper and she’s not wet or dirty. And she doesn’t want this.” Tony held up the pacifier.
“What’s wrong, angel? Tell Uncle Jethro what’s wrong.”
“Tell you? Are you deaf? Can’t you hear it? Every time I close my eyes and start to get comfy....” Victoria shook her legs angrily. “Ding... ding... ding... Please for the love of heaven make it stop.” She broke down sobbing.
“Oh, princess. It’s okay. I’ve got you.” Jethro hugged her close, letting her burrow her head into his chest. For a moment her body relaxed in hope. Victoria started to tuck her feet up.
“Noooooooo!!!” Victoria sobbed. “I was sooo close. Uncle Jethro, fix this. Or I’ll... I’ll tell Grandpa Ducky. You’re supposed to keep Uncle Tony in line, Mommy said so.”
“She wasn’t like this earlier.” Jethro bounced her gently unknowingly adding to her distress.
“No. She was fine when I got her up and dressed her. Put her little shoes....” Tony paused.
“Remember that antique wall clock Jackson gave us?”
Jethro looked at him trying to follow the leap in Tony’s brain. “Yes. It’s in that guest room.”
“And why is it in the guest room?”
“The ticking kept you awake.” Jethro narrowed his eyes. “Do you think...”
“We’ll find out. Turn her a little more towards me.” Tony waited and then smiled into his god daughter’s eyes. “Hey, angel. Why don’t we take these off while you nap? Hmmm?”
Victoria almost sobbed in relief as Uncle Tony carefully took hold of one foot and gently eased her shoe off. She tried to smile at him as he repeated the action on the other foot. “Thank-you, Uncle Tony. Oh, thank-you.... I love you again.”
Tony gentle shook the shoes listening to the jingle bells merrily ringing. “Was this keeping you awake? Hmmm? Come to Uncle Tony, princess.”
Even with her breath still hitching from crying, Victoria felt her body melting. She gratefully lay her head on Uncle Tony’s shoulder. “I’m so tired. Just let me sleep right here. I won’t tell Santa or that Nelf. I love you. I’m so tired...”
“Is she...” Tony whispered.
“Eyes are all but shut.” Jethro smiled. “You can sleep now and while you do, Uncle Jethro will get rid of those bells.” He rubbed her back gently.
“Thank-you.” Victoria whispered.
“I’ll have to warn Breena and Jimmy.” Tony was upset that he had caused Victoria such distress.
“You know, I think Victoria has the right idea.” Jethro guided Tony towards the large sectional. Sinking down he pulled Tony down between his legs, arranging them so that Tony could lean back against his chest.
Victoria felt a second pair of arms wrap around her back holding her securely. She was too tired to open her eyes again but knew she was in her favorite spot. Uncle Tony holding her, while Uncle Jethro held them both. She managed to whisper “I love you,” before she slipped into a deep sleep. She loved nap time, but not with jingle bells.