Before she could think about her life with Tom, the front gates opened, and Eric drove to the main parking area, where a space had his name on it and beside it, Tom’s name.
“I should have that changed, but I didn’t think, after all, he…”
“No, it should stay.”
“Okay, are you ready?”
Amy nodded, climbed out of the car and followed him towards the building. In large letters the words of the company were there in plain view. She had no idea that Philips toys was the family company. She had driven past many times, but not once had she thought her husband, no she reminded herself, he was not her husband, had owned the company. Why had he never told her?
“Toys, you own a toy company?”
He chuckled. “Yes. Not what you were expecting?”
“I have another idea that your girls might like.”
“Yes,” he said as he led her towards the building. “We often have children in to test toys.”
“I think they would love that.” She paused. “Why did Tom never…”
“I don’t know why, but…”
“I have a question I need to ask.”
“Okay, ask away,” he said, holding the door open.
“You seemed so relaxed doing my girls hair. Tom never even once brushed their hair. I wondered how you were able to put their hair up so easily.”
“We invented a product that was for girls, a hairdressing set and when we had a test day, I as I often do, spend time with the children.” He paused and stopped walking and turned to face her. “The parents are with them too. I ended up being shown how to do ponytails, plaits and pigtails. And now I am an expert.” He chuckled as they reached the reception area and he was greeted by three men and a woman.
“Morning sir,” they all said in unison. “Welcome back.”
He thanked them and led her to the elevator.
“This way,” he said, leading her down a corridor. They passed a room that had people sat at desks. “These rooms are where the toys that we have in development are created.”
“You design them too here?”
“Yes, design, make, test, and ship them out, this way,” he said, opening a double set of doors.
Amy followed behind him, her mouth open.
“Two coffees, and a plate of biscuits,” he said to the woman at the desk as they entered his office. Amy looked at the young lady at the desk, eyeing her with suspicion; she was clearly not old enough to be retiring. He closed the door behind them. She shook her head as he turned to face her.
“You don’t need a secretary do you?”
“No, you caught me, but I think you can help me out here, and don’t look at me like that.”
“Eric, don’t just make a job for me, because you feel sorry for me.”
“I’m not, it’s the truth.” He paused. “I used to have someone who I shared ideas with and I need someone like that. You could be that person.”
“I don’t know how I can be that person, I have no idea what toys children like. I know what the girls like, I…”
“Exactly, that’s a start. We will have that drink and then I will give you the tour.”
An hour later, Amy followed Eric into one of the factories where the toys were made; it felt like she was in Santa’s workshop. There were toys on conveyer belts and people collecting them at the end and boxing them up. She had already seen them being made, by the many workers in the first area they had entered. Now he was showing her the packaging area, and next he wanted to show her the fun area, the part he said he loved nearly as much as the design rooms, the testing area.
The noise that hit her as she entered the testing area, was louder than she imagined, even with having two girls, Amy was used to loud children. This was more than two children, there had to be at least thirty, ages ranging from toddlers to teenagers. Her eyes darted around the room, the toys were strewn across the floor, testing was simply playing with them, and men and woman with notepads writing down what they said, or thought.
“Wow, this is crazy.”
“This is the best part, look at this,” he said, walking over the small wooden kitchen set.
“It’s a kitchen; like the girls had one last year.”
“I know, it is the one Tom created it, he had them in mind, but this is the upgraded version. He had the idea before…”he paused. “Anyway its the upgraded version.”
“Yes, the taps work, the cooker, cooks, heats up, not as hot as a real oven of course, but enough to warm bread for example.”
“I don’t know if I like that idea, I mean…”
“That is what I said,” a lady with red hair said, her eyes sparkled as she stood beside Eric and placed her hand seductively on his arm.
“Yes, my daughter, she has been playing with it all morning, loves it, but I worry about how hot the oven can really get?”
“It is a concern I agree,” Eric said. “However, we have it made to a safe temperature, but this is why we have the toys tested by real consumers.”
“Can I ask,” Amy said, reading the ladies name badge. “Penny, would you prefer the oven to just be a bog standard light. No heat, the water I must admit like, but wonder how it is hooked up?”
“The water is from a dispenser, would be up to the parents if they wish to add it or not.”
“I like that, a parent’s choice, but I have to agree I don’t like the oven heating up. It could be a disaster if a child was burnt or scolded, what is not hot to us, could be for a child whose skin is more delicate.”
“My point exactly,” Penny said.
Eric removed her from his arm. “Okay, so we will do that then, see Amy, we need you here, I was right.”
“I don’t know, but what I do know is you are right, the girls will love this,” Amy said.
“This weekend, how about after breakfast we let the girls come in and test a few out.”
“I think it’s a great idea, it might help them, and finding out this is where there Dad worked.”
“Their Dad,” Penny interrupted.
“Thank you Penny, for your input, please make sure that Hannah writes it all down so we can fix what needs changing.”
Eric led Amy away, passing more children testing out other toys. They stopped to chat to the children and the parents.
They spent an hour in the testing area, Eric joined the children on the floor, he knew the children and the parents by name. Amy could tell why many of the mothers were here, they were dressed up, faces plastered with make-up all in the hope of him appearing in the testing area. She noticed many had wedding rings on, but that did not stop them flirting with him. Penny was only the beginning, the touching the accidental skin on skin contact.
It was painful to watch, but Eric either did not notice, or took it in his stride. For a moment, she wondered if they flirted with Tom, he was not unattractive; the brothers were alike in many ways. She had not looked at him in that way, not until he had appeared in his kitchen in a pair of shorts. She had not meant to look, but she was a woman, and human. She had only briefly looked. When he had held her in his arms, she had felt better, needed that closeness.