Victor, of course, was true to his word. He arrived back at Violet’s house within forty minutes, his pickup truck -- a new acquisition-- laden down with all manner of “essential” baby equipment. From car seat, playpen and swing to changing table and stroller, he had it all. The most important item amongst all these, however, was the antique oak crib which had once belonged to his own mother, and therefore, had been Victor’s first bed.
His two boys had slept in it as well, although that had been a miracle. He recalled having a fierce battle with his ex-wife over it. She had wanted something brand new for their kids, but in the end she gave in. He should have known then it wouldn’t last. So much for hind sight.
Victor held onto this furniture, everything baby related thing in fact, in the far-off hope of one day, someday, possibly having another child. Silly of him, he wistfully thought. He was simply too old anymore to be thinking of babies.
“Now, you don’t honestly believe that,” Heidi said, a tiny crease between her elegant eyebrows and her ghostly lips pursed as she always did when hearing something of which she disapproved. “Missy doesn’t think so, at any rate, Da-da.”
He grinned as he pulled the dismantled crib out of the bed of the truck and headed up the front walk. He placed everything on the porch before bringing it all inside. Upon entering the house—he had not even bothered to knock, knowing Violet would not have locked the door—he heard her sing-song voice and he had to stifle a laugh.
“I would not eat them in a box. I would not eat them with a fox. I would not like them in a house, I would not like them with a mouse, I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-am!”
He placed the crib against the wall and was about to go back out to get the rest when he heard, “That must be daddy…I mean…Victor.” He couldn’t stop a chuckle that time.
With all safely inside, he closed the door on the near blizzard which had started upon leaving his house and went into the living room rubbing his hands together for warmth. There, two faces turned to him with such beautiful smiles, it took his breath away.
“Oh, Victor! You look frozen,” Violet said getting up from the rocking chair with Missy and the book in her hands. “And it’s snowing!”
“It is, but not much,” he lied. Missy predictably jumped into his arms, he deftly catching her. Violet proceeded to brush the snow from his shoulders, going on tip-toe to reach the top of his head. She could just barely reach.
“They said it could accumulate two to three inches. How much is out there now?” she asked anxiously.
“Hmm, think there’s that much already. If this keeps up, schools will be closed,” he said, not at all caring one way or the other. “Can’t believe Missy’s still awake.”
“Hmm, wasn’t for lack of trying. I read ‘The Cat in the Hat’, ‘The ABC book’ and ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and still she wouldn’t go to sleep,” Violet said with a grimace.
“Well, you do make them sound rather exciting. Not likely to make her want you to stop.” he said grinning at her.
“It was the only way to get her to stop crying. She screamed her head off for nearly a half hour after you left.”
“Why?” he asked, genuinely shocked.
“Well…she probably didn’t think you were coming back,” she retorted.
“Not come back? Oh, Missy, my love,” he said, holding the baby close. “I’ll always come back. I’m here to stay.”
He caught Violet wearing an odd expression then. He hadn’t seen that before and couldn’t quite make it out. What, he wondered, was going through her head?
Violet stared at Victor and a powerful and utterly mad emotion gripped her. He was just rubbing the baby’s back and spoke so soothingly to her as if she were still crying her heart out. Yet, Violet suddenly wished she was Missy, the one being comforted. Why, she asked herself, would she want that?
Their eyes locked then and without thinking Victor whispered what he’d been wanting to say to her for years. “I love you more than life itself and I’d do anything for you.”
Violet’s heart jumped in her chest and settled around her throat. She opened her mouth but nothing came out. What could she possibly say to that?
Without warning, Missy squealed and said, “Da-da-da.”
The spell broken, Victor laughed and kissed the top of Missy’s head.
“That’s my good girl.”
Violet blinked several times realizing Victor hadn’t been talking to her at all. He meant it for the baby. She blushed giggling nervously and didn’t quite know if she felt relief or disappointment.
In a shaky voice she said, “I guess she forgives you…for leaving.”
“Seems like,” he replied. He looked at Missy and frowned at her, “What do you say, little lady? Is it time to get you to bed?”
“Good luck with that,” Violet muttered.
He laughed. “Well, no matter. We need to set up the nursery.”
“Nursery?” Violet said, looking confused.
“For the baby… a room for her….the reason I left to get the baby stuff…any of this ring a bell?” he said, the ever present indulgent smile on his face.
She made a face at him. “She’s staying in my room, of course. I won’t have Missy sleeping all alone in an unfamiliar place even if it is just across the hall. That would be so mean. We’ll just have to make room for the crib in my room,” Violet said adamantly.
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied, handing her the baby. “Lead the way.”
Violet blinked up at him only just realizing Victor would have to go into her bedroom in order to do this. A funny fluttering started in her chest. No man, other than Richard and Freddy, had ever gone in there. What had she gotten herself into?
“Uh, now?” she said, stupidly.
Eyebrows raised, he nodded. “Would be better before Missy falls asleep, don’t you think?”
“Yes…of course,” she muttered, and clutching the baby a little too tightly, she went up the stairs, Victor lugging the crib right behind her. Perhaps, she mused, playing house wasn’t as easy nor as innocent as she had imagined.