“May I get us some coffee?” he asked taking a tentative step toward the cabinet that held the mugs and plates.
Victor cleared his throat again. He needed a bit of time to remove the image from his mind of Violet’s sexy dancing and singing. He took the mug from the cabinet and poured the coffee. He drank the scolding stuff in three gulps burning his throat and bringing tears to his eyes. It didn’t work. Violet was permanently there, as if her image remained glued to the inside of his eyelids.
“So, huh...excited?” he asked, his voice raspy now. He shook his head, cringing at his own stupid choice of words. Was he talking about her or himself?
“About what?” she asked as she brought two plates to the table; one with large, golden brown muffins and the other an enormous omelet flanked by sausage links. She stared up at him, her eyes wide.
“Victor? You okay?”
“Fine...burned my...uh....that’s a heck of an omelet,” he said, his mouth watering.
“Yes, but is it the food doing that, Dear, or our sweet Violet?” Heidi asked, just barely suppressing a giggle.
“Well, I thought we could share. I’m feeling so hungry today,” Violet said, making a funny face as she looked into his empty mug. “You drank that already? Thought you liked cream in your coffee.”
“Oh....uh...normally I do,” he said, pulling out the chair for her. “Sit. I’ll get you some coffee.”
“I’ll get the juice, too.”
“How the heck do you do that?” Violet muttered, half astonished, half annoyed, as she watched him pour two cups of coffee then go to the refrigerator.
“Know exactly what I’m about to say, of course. You do it all the time.”
“Oh, you know what they say. Brilliant minds,” he replied grinning at her.
“Hmm, that again, huh? I don’t think I’m in your genius league, Victor Romanoff, Esquire,” she said, serving herself a third of the omelet plus one sausage link before leaving the rest at Victor’s place setting.
“You don’t give yourself enough credit, Violet. According to your loving brother you are tops and I quite agree.” Victor sat down placing a glass of juice and a steaming cup of coffee by Violet’s plate.
“Wow, this looks great! You went to too much trouble... as always. ”
“I did no such thing. You know what? You remind me of that guy on TV. He’s always reading people’s minds, but he insists there’s no such thing...what is his name? Um....the manipulator or something...the mental guy.”
“Oh, you mean the Mentalist. I love that guy! He’s so cool.” Victor leaned forward and whispered in a conspiratorial tone, “Got a major man crush on him.”
The juice in her glass nearly spilled out when she burst out laughing. “You do not, you big old goof!”
“I do. I wanna be just like him...you know...whenever I grow up,” he said smirking.
“Not in any hurry, I see,” she replied giggling herself silly.
It took a while for them both to stop laughing long enough to start eating.
“Isn’t that a nice way to start the morning?” Heidi said, looking very smug indeed.
“You would say that,” Richard retorted, grimly.
“I hope you like these muffins, Victor. It’s an old recipe. I found it stuck at the back of my cook book. Richard didn’t like them so I haven’t made them in years and years. But I do so love them. They’re called Good Morning Glory Muffins. Doesn’t that sound nice? Tell me what you think.”
She placed one of the biggest muffins on his plate and waited for him to taste it. Her eyes wide in anticipation and her bottom lip between her teeth, she watched as he took a huge bite. To her relief he let out a moan of delight and smiled.
“Damn, that’s good!” he said. “How could Richard not like these?”
“It was my fault. I told him what’s in them,” Violet replied with a careless shrug.
Victor frowned and looked more closely at the muffin. “Should I be afraid to ask if there are real Morning Glory flowers in this thing?”
She giggled and shook her head. “It has shredded carrots, coconut and applesauce, none of which he liked. So...”
With a sigh of relief, he popped the rest into his mouth, grabbed another and said, “His loss!”
They ate in comfortable silence for a few minutes until Victor said, “You didn’t answer me before.”
“What was the question?” she asked, looking confused.
“Are you excited?” he said, giving her one of his usual indulgent smiles.
“Why would I be excited? I’m not going into the city. You are.”
He laughed. “About your new car, funny girl! Have you forgotten you’re getting it today?”
“No, I haven’t forgotten. Just don’t find it that exciting. It’s just a car. It gets me from point “A” to point “B”. No big deal!”
“Hmm, I see. If a car doesn’t excite you then....how about I get you something really good while I’m in the city?”
She scoffed. “Like what? A jet plane? No, thanks, Mister Moneybags.”
He laughed again. “I was thinking something that sure to delight you and it's a bit more practical. Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Coach that sort of thing.”
Violet glared at him. “Practical? Not you, too!”
“Jocelyn’s been bugging me for decades to buy designer things and I’m just not doing it! Don’t need that..... that stupid stuff,” she hissed. “I can’t afford them anyway, even if I thought they were worth the money, which I don’t!”
“Well, I can. I’ll pick you up some nice Prada boots. Very stylish. What size are you?” He looked under the table and grabbed her slipped foot. “You’re tiny like my mother. I’d say six, maybe six and a half. How’s that?”
She stared at him astonished and pulled her foot out of his hand. “Victor, are you seriously saying you would buy expensive designer boots for me as if I were asking you for a gallon of milk?”
“Would you like me to get you some milk?” he asked unperturbed.
She rolled her eyes. “You are the most exasperating man I’ve ever known! No, silly man,” she snapped. “I have boots, nice, sturdy and practical ones, too, that don’t cost more than my old car. And there’s a store barely ten minutes away. I think I can get my own milk.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he said chuckling into his coffee. He set to eating again and was almost done when he decided to give it one more try before implementing his latest scheme. “Violet, when is your birthday?”
With a huff, she rose from her seat and snatched his plate away almost before he grabbed the last sausage link. “It’s getting late. We should get going. I need to ...”
“Change, I know, but you don’t need makeup. I’ve already told you that,” he finished for her, also getting up with cups and glasses in hands. “But if you insist on driving the men in town to distraction, the daddies at the daycare center in particular, go right ahead and make yourself pretty as can be. I’m sure you’ll get many suitors vying for your attention and soon you’ll be dating and ...well, you know, happily ever after.”
He took the dishes she still held in her hands and put them into the sink. He smiled at her stunned and somewhat frightened expression. “Go on. I’ll take care of these while you dress for work.”
She watched for a minute as he rolled up his sleeves and filled the sink with hot, soapy water.
“Um...okay,” she replied weakly.
She then turned and slowly walked upstairs all the while thinking, “I don’t want men asking me out. I don’t want men staring at me. I don’t even want them glancing at me....not without Richard to protect me.”
She changed her clothes, picking out the least attractive outfit she possessed, the one Richard hated. He used to call it her frumpy, old maid outfit. She stood in front of her mirror, staring into her own face. Her lips quivered and her eyes filled with tears.
“Why did you have to leave me so alone, Richard. I still need you,” she mumbled.
“I’m here, Violet,” Richard whispered to her. “I’ll never leave you. I’ll watch over you, always.”
Violet heard none of this. Torn between elation that she still needed him and misery that he couldn’t make her hear him, he went to embrace her but he only went through her like mist.
She shivered violently and grabbed a sweater before she went downstairs leaving Richard’s ghost cursing a blue streak.
They took the long car ride into Treadwell, getting to the car dealership before eight o’clock. Much to Violet’s astonishment, a smiling Al was there to greet them with car keys in hand. She hadn’t expected anyone to be there so early, but the whole place was buzzing with activity, mostly in the garage.
Before Victor allowed her to sign any papers he insisted she take the car for another test drive just to make certain she was pleased with it.
“Still like the car?” Victor asked.
“Of course, I still like it! Why wouldn’t I? It’s the best car I’ve ever driven. It’s perfect.”
“There may be something you don’t like about it. Only time will tell,” he explained.
“I’ll like it fine, don’t worry,” she said, waving a dismissive hand at him as she studied the dashboard. “I just gotta find out where stuff is.”
“What stuff?” he asked frowning a bit.
“Oh, you know, windshield wipers, the lights and defroster. There are so many buttons here and funny stuff. I’m used to old Betsy and this is nothing like Betsy.”
Victor burst out laughing. “Your old car had a name... Betsy?”
She pouted, “Well, what would you call it?”
“Piece of junk comes to mind,” Heidi snidely said.
Victor agreed wholeheartedly, but wisely decided he shouldn’t say that to Violet. “Here, I’ll show you where everything is.”
They spent almost a half hour turning on lights and wipers, both front and back ones, turning on the heat, adjusting side mirrors and her seat.
“And here’s something special I think you’ll like. Old Betsy never had this, I’ll bet. Feel anything?” he said smiling brightly.
“What do you mean? What should I...Oh!” she gasped, straightening up in her seat. “My tooshie’s getting warm! That’s wild!”
He chuckled. “My mother loved that so I always got heated seats in my cars, just for her. You like it?”
“Oh, that’s wonderful!” she exclaimed. She sat there marveling at the interior of her new car and slowly she frowned. “Victor, are you...”
“Yes, Sweetie, you can definitely afford this. Come on. Let’s go make it officially yours.”
He held out his hand to her and smiled. She took his hand and smiled back. Yes, he’d do anything, just to see her smile.