They were floating above the table looking down on Victor and Violet who were just finishing breakfast. The look on Richard’s face told a very different tale. He couldn’t believe this actually happened. He had been on a double date with his own wife and his “date” was Victor’s bossy yet sweet ghost mother. And now Violet was making this lawyer dude breakfast. What the hell!
With his jaw clenched tightly, he glared at Victor wishing he would choke on the waffle. To make matters worse Heidi, his new constant companion, seemed to have latched onto him like a tapeworm. Since the illuminating meeting at the supermarket, she hadn’t left his side for a minute. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. She had left with Victor when he finally took Violet home after the date-that-wasn’t-a-date.
Richard had finally breathed a sigh of relief then but much to his utter annoyance Heidi had been abominably right. Violet couldn’t or wouldn’t hear him anymore. Heidi told him she only would if she truly wanted to and it became painfully obvious Violet had not wanted to hear anything Richard had to say, not last night and not even this morning.
Richard got a twisting feeling in his gut thinking about it. Would she ever hear him again? He had tried everything, whispering in her ear, yelling in her face and just talking normal but nothing worked. She didn’t even blink. He had followed Violet from the moment she came home and got nowhere fast.
In the living room, the cat, much to his annoyance sat up looking regal instead of disdainful and reproachful. But that didn’t stop Richard from whispering in Violet’s ear, “Ginger fluff is mad at you. You shouldn’t have left her all alone.” But all she did was smile and coo at the cat.
“How are you tonight, Calendula? Sorry it took me so long to get home to you. I kind of got sidetracked by a very pushy man,” Violet said, scratching the spot behind the cat’s ears. “But then I’m used to forceful men, aren’t I? Richard was like that, too.”
“I’m not as pushy as that guy! I never was,”he shouted angrily.
“Oh, just got a chill!” she shrieked hugging herself. “I need hot tea.”
Richard stayed beside her the whole time even after she went to fill the tub with hot water and enough bubbles to float her to the sky. He was never one to talk much but he continued with his soliloquy getting more and more desperate for Violet to acknowledge him. Still nothing but silence. She soaked in the tub for almost an hour never hearing any of his relentless chatter. All she did was hum to herself and, he suspected jealously, probably thinking of Victor Romanoff.
He came abruptly back to the present when Victor took Violet’s chin in hand and tilted her face up to his as if to kiss her. Richard was at their side in an instant but so was Heidi. With a placating hand on his arm and her ever-present sweet smile she told him without words there truly was nothing to worry about and sure enough she was right. Victor was just telling Violet what Richard had always said. Namely that she didn’t need makeup. Harmless enough, sure but still...he just didn’t like this slick city dude so close to his Violet.
“Now, don’t be like that, Dear. They’re just getting acquainted,” Heidi said with a condescending pat on his cheek.
Richard had to bite back a scathing retort lest he show his true feelings on the matter. They obviously had very different opinions about all this. Heidi, however, didn’t actually need to hear him speak to know what ran through his mind was not the same as her own thoughts on this budding new friendship between her son and Richard’s widow. She would try to fix that if not for her Victor’s sake then for Violet’s.
“They seemed to have a nice time last night at the Mount Claire and now here, too. Violet does enjoy cooking, doesn’t she? Rather a bit like me,” she said with a girlish giggle. “We both like to spoil our family and friends, don’t we?”
Richard made a slight growling sound at the back of his throat but loud enough for her to hear quite plainly. “You do want Violet to enjoy life, don’t you, Richard?”she asked pointedly, her dark eyes so much like her son’s boring into Richard’s bright blue ones.
He grimaced as a squirming, guilty feeling hit him. He couldn’t look into those eyes. It made the feeling intensify. It was indeed one of the many things Violet loved to do, cooking and baking. And she didn’t get to do much of it anymore now that she was alone.
“Of course I do,” he said rather reluctantly.
“Then you aren’t going to begrudge her a friend for whom she can cook and who in return can take her out to dinner, a walk in the park or the occasional movie. You know, a friend with whom she can enjoy life, right?” she continued remorselessly.
He thought he might break his back teeth from grinding them together so hard. Of course he wanted her to enjoy life. What kind of beast would he be if he didn’t? But Violet hadn’t been cooking at the restaurant, he thought grumpily, and as for them going for a walk in the park or out to a movie? Well, wouldn’t that fall under “dating”? And weren’t they not supposed to be dating?
He hated watching them laugh and talk and laugh some more all night and now at breakfast, too. Violet had made Victor laugh several times but she made everyone laugh. That was to be expected, the way she was but she also held Victor’s hand. She actually held his hand! That wasn’t supposed to be a date? Sure as hell looked like it from where he sat floating above their table the entire night.
“She likes to talk about you, Richard, and Victor is so willing to hear it. That should make you feel better,” Heidi added eying him carefully. When he said nothing she continued. “I imagine it’s been quite a while since she’s been out or even talked to anyone about you?” Though she said this tentatively there was a shrewd expression in her eyes that gave Richard the impression she already knew the answer to that.
“Our anniversary,” he muttered. “And she only ever talks to her best friend Jocelyn about me.”
Heidi’s smile faded. “Oh, the poor dear! Jocelyn being away and all, she has no other outlet, does she? So good of Victor, don’t you think, Richard? He allowing her to reminisce about you is good for her. Seems to make her brighten and come alive. Oh, but it is wonderful that Violet can remember and talk about her last date with you with such fondness. She’ll carry that memory forever. It’s what I would do. She does love you so, Richard,” she said softly, her eyes aglow now.
Richard felt a constriction in his throat that prevented speech. He hated to admit it even to himself but Heidi was perfectly correct. Violet should enjoy life. He just wished Victor wasn’t the one making her laugh or bringing that lively sparkle to her lovely eyes. He also would love it if this slick lawyer dude would stop looking at his wife as if she were a priceless painting and treating her like a princess. That was his job after all. Or it had been, blast it!
Richard was convinced all wasn’t as it appeared. He knew Victor’s game. He had seen this ploy enough times with his own friends and acquaintances of dubious character. Victor was just playing nice, pretending to be a sweet guy to gain a naive girl’s confidence, and there was no denying Violet was indeed gullible, naive girl. She’ll let her guard down and then wham! Victor would move in for the kill and Violet would be.....No! He couldn’t let that happen, not to his precious Violet.
It made no sense though. She was always so discerning, always more than cautious with men but here she was trusting this virtual stranger as if she’d known him all her life. He could see it so clearly so why couldn’t she?
Again Heidi seemed to know what he was thinking almost before he did.
“I raised my son right, Richard. Victor has no ill will in his heart and would never press his advantage least of all on a person he so respects, admires and nearly worships. You need not worry about Violet’s virtue or safety. He would sooner die than cause her harm. Believe me this. I know my son,” she said with such fierce finality he had to trust her.
But trust can only take you so far and Richard just would never trust Victor alone with his wife.
Both he and Heidi followed them to the daycare center, she beaming, he glowering. Victor and Violet’s easy banter was simply music to Heidi’s ears while Richard heard only discordant notes of a hated song. First dinner, then breakfast and now Victor was taking Violet to work as if they did this everyday. Would it become an everyday thing seeing them together like this, Richard wondered miserably? Had he really lost Violet forever? Was there no return?
Chapter 18: The Car Ride to Treadwell.
Violet is amazed to discover Victor’s love of kids, all kids not just his own, is equal to her own. She’s also unaccountably annoyed to find him easy to talk to, easy to be with and charming beyond reason. We should all have such problems!