No one could ever say Victor Romanoff did anything half way.
Violet found this out as soon as she assured Flora Trenton that she indeed would take care of baby Missy for as long as need be. She had barely signed off with the director of Littlest Angel Orphanage before Victor was on his feet, twirling and spinning Missy about while humming Johann Strauss’ Blue Danube waltz complete with lyrics of Victor’s own invention.
“Our baby is here...to stay...to stay... Missy is ours... she is, she is...so happy we’ll be...will be...will be...”
Missy giggled delightedly, showing off her toothless grin and Violet, though she tried not to, couldn’t help but laugh at both of them. She gasped in surprise when Victor scooted around the rocking chair and scooped her into his arms. They spun around so that the three of them, the “perfect little family”, danced around the coffee table, past the entertainment center and finally behind the sofa. Calendula stared at them dispassionately.
“Victor!” Violet gasped, after a few turns about the room. “We’re being very silly.”
“No, we’re not. This is cause for celebration. A new baby always is,” he said, showing no sign of stopping this impromptu dance.
Violet, on the other hand, did. Although she rather enjoyed the lighthearted activity--she marveled that Victor danced so well--she stepped back, out of Victor’s embrace. She knew there was work to be done. Now that she was to have this littlest of guests staying with her for whatever amount of time she needed to make her comfortable. Victor, however, beat her to it.
“I suppose Mommy’s right, Missy. Now’s not the time for dancing. We have lots to do. We have to make this house baby friendly,” Victor said.
“You mustn’t say things like that in front of Missy,” Violet chastised.
“You don’t want to make the house baby friendly?” Victor asked in mock surprise. He held Missy closely as if to protect her of harm.
“Karen is her mother until...”
“Until you adopt her. Yes, I know,” he said carelessly.
Violet paused here and swallowed hard. “Victor, please. Babies pick up on everything, you know,” Violet said irritably, reaching out for the baby.
Missy ignore her and rested her head on Victor’s chest, her tiny fingers clutching his tie.
“Missy, come on now. I have to change your diaper and then I have to set up a little bed for you,” Violet said coaxingly.
“Da-da-da,” Missy replied, much to their astonishment.
Victor chuckled and kissed the top of her head. “Daddy loves you too, Honey.”
“Victor, stop saying that! She’s going to start believing you are her father,” Violet muttered through clenched teeth.
“She’s the one that picked me. I had nothing to do with it,” he replied innocently.
Violet rolled her eyes and grabbed for the baby, but Missy stubbornly clung to Victor saying, “Da-da. Da-da-da!”
“She obviously wants me to do it,” Victor said, sounding a tad too smug for Violet’s liking.
She narrowed her eyes and folded her arms over her chest. “Oh, really? And are you thinking you’re going to like changing a stinky diaper? I can assure you, this one’s extra stinky.”
He laughed, shaking his head and said, “Oh, Dory, how soon we forget.”
She blinked stupidly up at him, stunned. How many times had Richard said the exact same thing to her?
“Only about a thousand. Copycat,” Richard snarled.
“You’ve forgotten that first day I visited you at Mio Caro when this little darling allowed me to change her, practically insisted. As I recall, it was a very poopy diaper then, too. I can handle it, Mommy, don't worry," he assured.
Goodness, but he was right. She had totally forgotten that. Where was her brain lately? How could she forget Victor in his expensive suit daring to come within striking distance of a smelly diaper? He did it without complaint, too, and had genuinely enjoyed it. How different he was from Richard in that respect.
Richard, she recalled wistfully, never went near a stinky diaper and he didn't much care for the simply wet ones either. He usually thrust the baby at her whenever he caught of whiff of something unpleasant.
"Hmm..." Heidi said, smiling smugly at Richard. "Guess we can't all be perfect father material."
He glared at her, grinding his back teeth.
Violet grabbed Missy's diaper bag and said, "We need a changing table. I gave mine to Laurie when they were expecting Valerie. She came three weeks early and they didn't have anything ready."
Victor chuckled. "And they never gave it back. Freddy told me how eager Valerie was to enter the world and the other kids were quite content to stay longer than normal. Funny how that is. This will do for now," he said, placing a blanket on the coffee table and kneeling down. He carefully laid Missy down and laughed at her silly gurgling. "You can do better than that, Missy. Say mommy, say daddy."
"Oh, Victor, for Pete's sake! Don't encourage her," Violet said, exasperated as she sat on the coffee table handing him baby wipes.
"You should be happy that your baby furn
"What did you say?"
"No, not that! Freddy told you
"No. Doubt he knows yet. She'll probably tell him tonight. Be a nice birthday surprise, don't you think?" he said happily.
"Laurie told you before she told Freddy?" Violet asked, dumbfounded.
"No," Victor said finishing up, picking up Missy and kissing her chubby cheek. "She didn't have to. I can spot a pregnant lady a mile away. We should get your Pjs on."
"Excuse me?" Violet scoffed.
Victor stared at her quizzically. "Missy doesn't have any Pj's here?"
"What? Oh! Yes, this should be okay," Violet said, distractedly, pulling out a pink one piece outfit. "So, you're just guessing then."
"No, I figure she'll be more comfortable sleeping in Pj's. It's so close to bedtime for her,"he said, trying to slip tiny wiggling toes into the suit.
"Not that, you silly goose! Laurie! You're just guessing."
"I suppose it is a guess, but the correct one. She's about two and a half to three months along," he said confidently. "Like I said, I can tell."
Violet gaped at him.
"Besides, there were telltale signs tonight," he added, tossing the baby up into the air to make her giggle.
"She didn't have anything alcoholic to drink," he replied, blowing a raspberry on Missy's neck, making her squeal in delight.
"Well...that could be because Freddy was drinking. Someone had to drive them home safely."
"She also was eating much more than she usually does and things she usually doesn't like. She almost ate a whole platter of shrimp by herself."
"Shrimp? No, she doesn't much like shrimp, but she loves eating out. Hates her own cooking."
Victor chuckled. "And she was glowing.
I've never seen her look so beautiful. Just like my Missy. So pretty!"he said rubbing his nose with Missy's.
Violet frowned slightly. She had noticed that too. Laurie had looked especially pretty and very happy, but Violet had just thought it was because it had been so long since she had seen Laurie and it was a party after all. Could Laurie actually be pregnant again? Violet bit her lip as a feeling of discontentment and - she hated herself for it- envy swept over her. What she wouldn't have done to be pregnant again, a chance to have more than just two children!
"So, would you like to come with me or stay here?" Victor asked interrupting her train of thought.
"Huh?" she said, looking bewildered.
"Weren't you listening?"he said smiling indulgently at her. "Missy, I think Mommy was daydreaming. What do you think?"
"Ma-ma-ma," Missy said.
"Omigosh!" Violet shouted excitedly. "She said mama. Oh, Karen missed that, too."
Victor laughed. "She's going to miss all sorts of things, Violet. She's giving her up for adoption, remember?"
"I know, but I feel bad,"she said, taking Missy from him and hugging her tightly. "Mommies should never ever miss a single minute of their baby's milestones."
"No, nor daddies,"he said, sobering up.
Violet gazed up at him remembering he had missed so much of his own boys' lives. Suddenly, she realized his wanting to play house with Missy was part of it, his way of regaining what he had lost the first time out with his own wife and kids. She felt her heart constrict painfully for him and possibly for herself.
Was it so very wrong to pretend Missy was hers and his? Without thinking, she reached out, touched his arm and said, "I'm sorry, Victor."
That swift understanding they had experienced so many times before, passed through them again, connecting them in mystifying ways. He smiled, albeit sadly, and said, "Not your fault, remember?"
"I'm going to get the baby furniture, then. I should be back within the hour. Don't bother to keep her awake. It'll take..."
"Wait, what?" Violet said utterly confused.
"Missy needs a crib and..."
"Victor Romanoff, you will not spend one dime on this child!"
He raised his eyebrows then started laughing.
"I mean it, mister!"
"I can see that, but..."
"No, you will not go shopping for tons of baby things. No giant teddy bears, no gold plated rattles, no silver spoons, no nothing! We'll make do with whatever Karen has," Violet insisted.
don't have to spend any money at all,"he said, watching with amusement Violet glaring at him. "Honest. I have everything back home."
She made a weird face. "What do you mean? What do you have back home?"
He went to her and placed both hands on her shoulders, Missy between them. "Violet, I have a confession to make," he said repressively.
Her eyes widened. "What?"she whispered, almost fearful.
"I'm a pack rat."
"I still have all of Simon's old baby things. Every last bit of it,"he said.
She opened her mouth, then closed it again. "No, you don't."she finally said.
"You'll see. I'll be back, soon as I can." With that he left her, her mouth gaping open.
"There's just no way he's kept all those things for near twenty years. That's just...he's lying. He must be," Violet said, just as Missy let out a wail of protest. "What? What's wrong?"
But she already knew. Missy was crying and staring at the door through which Victor had just gone.
"Oh, Missy, don't cry. Daddy will be back soon, don't...what the heck am I saying? Now he's got me doing it," she muttered, incredulously.
She tried to soothe the miserably crying baby. "One things for certain, Missy. You've decided on your daddy, haven't you? One completely exasperating, totally irritating and incredibly wonderful Victor Romanoff. Blast the man!"