Victor made certain her life was never the same again and much to her own surprise she didn't seem to dislike the notion nearly as much as she thought she would. The next morning he found her not only fully dressed when he went to pick her up for work since she didn't yet have her car, but also awaiting him with a wonderful breakfast on the table.
"Well, this is a fine morning!" he said by way of greeting when she opened the door to him looking as fresh as sunshine itself. "We've become a morning person, have we?"
"Who says I wasn't one already?" she retorted sternly, looking about as dangerous as a person who wasn't capable of hurting a butterfly could. "You merely caught me off guard yesterday is all. Won't happen again, I can assure you! Now, come and have breakfast before it gets cold. We don't want to be late for work."
"Yes, Ma'am," he replied, grinning so broadly he thought his face might crack.
After a rather enjoyable and leisurely breakfast with amicable chatter, many smiles and several chuckles, Victor dropped her off at the center promising to return for lunch.
"Whatever for?" she demanded, her hand on the door handle.
"Violet, you made me a fantastic breakfast and you think I won't do something for you in return? I can't cook lunch myself but I'll find something you and the ladies will like," he said shrugging with a nonchalance Violet found utterly infuriating.
"Do you mean to say, you're thinking of bringing lunch again for all of us?" she shrieked.
"Well, it would be impolite to bring it only for you," he said, all innocence.
"Impolite?" she said, incredulous. "Victor, you don't have to bring any at all, not even for me."
"Of course I do. Mama's still watching. Never want to disappoint her," he said, tapping her lightly on the arm before he stepped out of the car and went around to her side, opening the door for her before she could get her wits about her.
She fumed so much she forgot to unbuckle her seat belt and almost choked on the strap at her throat when she went to step out. "Oh, for heaven's sake!" she muttered irritably just as Victor reached in unfastening it with ease. "What did I tell you about that?"
"Oh, yes. You like to do that yourself, don't you? Want me to buckle you up again and..."
She glowered at him and slapped his hands away, then pushed him back wondering vaguely why this man insisted on being so close to her.
Like the day before and almost before Violet got completely out of the car, Sherry showed up to clutch at Violet's hand, smiling impishly up at her.
"Hello, Cherry‑berry, remember me?" Victor said getting down to her eye level and giving her a friendly smile.
The little girl's smile vanished instantly. She shrunk from him fearfully and hid herself behind Violet's wool coat. Victor appearing crushed looked up at Violet silently asking, "Why is she afraid of me?"
"It's all right, Sweetie. Victor is a nice man. He won't hurt you. I promise," Violet explained. "Go on inside and I'll be right in, okay?" Sherry nodded and walked away but not before giving Victor another anxious glance.
Violet waited for her to be gone before turning back to Victor and whispering. "Don't take it personally, Victor, her being afraid of you. I was told she was abused by a friend of the family and is very wary of all men now."
To her surprise fury filled his eyes, making them seem to almost gleam. He suddenly looked ferocious enough to startle Violet.
"He is behind bars I hope," he said through clenched teeth.
"I...I don't know. It wasn't my place to ask," she replied.
"No, I don't suppose it is," he said, his dark eyes boring into hers. "How could anyone do that to an innocent child?"
She shook her head unable to answer him. She’d asked the same thing only a million times. They stared at each other in silence for several minutes united by one thought, one feeling. He took her gloved hand in his and squeezed it gently before saying, "I'll see you a bit later than I said. I need to do something before I come, but I’ll send lunch in time."
"What...what are you going to do?"she asked, her hazel eyes wide in her face.
He gave her a fleeting smile. "You'll see...later. Have a nice day, Violet." With that he turned and hopped into his car, whisking away with a wave of his hand and a determined look in his eyes. She had the oddest feeling he was still thinking of little Sherry.
* * * * *
To Victor’s astonishment he found not only Ella, his receptionist, in his office but also Freddy. He greeted him warmly with a firm handshake and asked Ella to bring them some coffee when she got the chance.
They seated themselves comfortably, Victor behind his impressive desk by the large window overlooking a barren plot of land with a tiny glimpse of the river behind and Freddy opposite.
“To what do I own this unexpected visit?” Victor asked.
Freddy cocked an eyebrow. “What do you think? So?"
Victor leaned back in his chair eying Violet's brother from across his vast mahogany desk knowing perfectly well to what he referred, unable to refrain from smiling. "Soooo, what?"he replied.
Freddy glowered. He had taken precious time out of his day, his extremely busy day during this high‑powered tax season, to find out how things went between his newest friend and his hermit sister and he just didn't have the time for coy behavior, least of all from Victor, someone he valued for his no‑nonsense attitude.
"Let's not play games, Bud. How did it go? Did Violet get a car? Did you like her?"
Victor swiveled in his chair a few inches in either direction before looking up with an incredulous look that clearly said, "Are you kidding me?"
Freddy wanted to whoop with glee and he would have, too, if they had been alone. Victor's Nazi‑like receptionist, however, had just come in with their coffee. Like usual she gave Freddy the once‑over, making him feel unaccountably like a naughty ten year old caught in the act. He smiled at her and she narrowed her eyes telling him without words, "I got my eye on you, Mister, so don't you do anything untoward."
Freddy just stopped himself from stating, “No, ma’am!”
Victor thanked her and as she backed out of the room she gave him an indulgent smile as only a mother would to her favorite child. "A dark green Jeep Cherokee, limited edition, fully loaded....very good deal and.....mostly new," he said evasively before picking up his cup and sipping carefully.
"Mostly new," Freddy repeated picking up his own cup.
Victor deliberated a minute before answering. He hoped this wasn't going to cause trouble. He didn't feel lying about it was the right thing to do with someone as sharp as Freddy. "Okay, it is new but please don't tell her. I told her it wasn't so she wouldn't..."
"Freak about the price?" Freddy finished for him. " Must have been a great deal for her to consent to buying it though. So, how much?"
Victor ground his teeth together before replying,"Let's just say she got a bargain and let's leave it at that, okay?"
Freddy put down the cup, leaned back in his seat, crossed his arms across his chest and stared at him. "What aren't you telling me?"
Victor drew in a deep breath, then sighed and told him the whole story. He explained how he told Violet the car was cheap because it was previously owned, how he secretly paid for the car in cash, how he told Violet the price was three quarters of what it should have been just so she wouldn't balk at the price and how she would be making payments to him, through his law firm back in the city, which he had every intention of secretly putting to use to earn her more money through the stock market.
"Seriously?" Freddy said, taken completely aback by this odd confession. "But why? Why would you go to so much...." And then he saw it, the look that explained all. He knew it well, the expression on Victor's face. Freddy had seen it once before on another guy that desperately wanted Violet, namely Richard.
"Dear God, Victor. You like Violet.... really like her, don't you?"
Victor didn’t see any way of lying now nor a reason for doing it. "How could I not? She's amazing. She’s beautiful and intelligent and witty and....she's everything a woman should be and she..."
He continued for quite some time telling Freddy all he already knew about his lovable sister. It was all very familiar to him as he had heard it before a few decades ago from none other than Richard himself. Richard had confessed his admiration for Violet to him at the ripe old age of twelve when Freddy was only eight and barely understood why boys would like to be friends with girls let alone hold hands with them, kiss them and eventually marry them.
Freddy knew all this but still, he listened attentively and came to the same conclusion he had back when he was an eighth grader with a lovesick senior for a best friend. Just like Richard, Victor had made him his best friend just to get close to Violet. He was certain of it. He might have been offended. Anyone else would have, but not Freddy. He found the best friendships through his sister and loved her all the more for it.
Victor once done sat nervously watching Freddy's inscrutable expression. "Freddy, we're friends and I don't want that messed up but..." he shook his head. "Violet is....."
"The love of your life, I'd say, if you're anything like Richard, which I'm starting to think you are. Funny how all my best friends fall for my sister. Uncanny really,” Freddy commented as if they spoke of only the weather.
They stared at each other for several minutes until Victor could take no more. "So?" he asked, frowning anxiously now.
"Sooooo, what?" Freddy said smirking. He lifted the cup as if in a toast and drank it down.
Victor could have kissed him.