Karen smiled, dipped her finger into the whipped cream and licked it off all the while watching Victor and Violet fuss over Missy, talking sweetly to the baby and whispering to each other. The warmth the hot drink gave her was nothing to seeing these two loving and caring people with her baby. They made a perfect little family, the family Karen never had known and so craved for herself and now wished for her baby girl.
Karen knew Violet was a great mom. She had seen Violet with the kids at the daycare center. She could tell she loved most if not all of them, genuinely loved them! Violet knew how to love unconditionally and did at every turn. Karen could see it in everything she did, even the hot chocolate. Who else would go to the trouble of sprinkling cinnamon on the huge mound of whipped cream plus add tons of tiny marshmallows to the wonderful, creamy drink?
Karen knew her own mother would do none of those things. Heck, she would’ve told Karen to get the drink herself and wouldn’t even think to get her warmed up. The contrast between Violet and her own mother was striking. Karen would bet all she owned and then some that Violet would never cast out her own daughter for doing something as stupid as getting pregnant at sixteen. Of course, that might be because Violet’s daughter would never have gotten in such trouble. She, having had a better example in Violet, would have known better.
It was quite obvious to Karen that Violet didn’t hate men like her mother did, but perhaps she had no reason to. Karen didn’t even know her own dad except what her mother had said about him—“He’s a no-good, lousy, cheating bastard”-- and probably never would. She hated it that Missy would never know her father either. Wally didn’t even know he had a kid and now that he’s in the Army…well, there was every chance he might not make it back home and Missy would never get to know him.
Why couldn’t her mother have been lucky like Violet? Violet had been married to a nice guy, a brave firefighter who died saving a little kid. Violet’s kids knew their dad even if he did die too early. Now, Violet had a boyfriend who was just as nice and obviously loved kids as much as Violet did. Perhaps some people were just really lucky, she mused.
Just then, Violet turned her smiling face to Karen and asked, “Are you warm enough, Honey? Did you like the hot cocoa? Would you like more?”
Karen shook her head, suddenly wishing Violet was her mother, but more so that Victor was her father. Watching Victor and Violet together, she knew this was exactly what she had tried to convey to the couple at the orphanage.
“I want you to adopt Missy,” she said abruptly.
Two surprised faces turned toward her. “What did you say?” Violet asked.
“You and your boyfriend…uh…Victor….you should adopt my baby,” Karen said clutching tightly to her empty mug. “You’re perfect, exactly the kind of people I want for Missy. You told me she deserves really nice parents that could love her and treat her good. Like a princess you said and you do. You’ve been so good to her and she does love you. I see that every time I leave her at the daycare center. Missy can’t wait to see you, Ms. Bennett. It’s like…like you’re her other mom.”
Violet gaped in stunned silence.
“Exactly what I told her, Karen. Violet would make a fantastic mother for Missy,” Victor said.
“And you would make a great dad,” Karen said, her face looking both eager and anxious.
“That’s very kind of you but….”
“She really likes you. I can tell,” Karen added quickly.
“That may be but…”
“She won’t be too much trouble. She’s getting real good at sleeping through the night and stuff,” Karen added.
“Please! I want her to have a dad…a good father….cuz.…cuz I never did.” At this point Karen was on her feet and tears sparkled in her pale blue eyes.
Victor and Violet exchanged concerned looks before he turned back to Karen. “I would love to be Missy’s dad but…”
“Karen,” Violet interjected at last, “Victor is…we’re not…I mean…”
“Violet and I are just friends,” Victor said bracingly.
Karen glared at them. “Yeah, right! I’m not some dumb kid. I just saw…”
“You saw two very good friends who both love babies…that’s all,” Victor insisted, although half-heartedly. “But you are right. Violet should adopt Missy.”
“Victor!” Violet shouted.
“There’s no use denying it, Violet. You should. I told you that before and Karen obviously agrees with me. I can help you with all that. I told you that too,” he said quietly, now removing the nearly empty bottle from Missy’s lax mouth. She had finally fallen asleep. He wiped her little face with the bib and kissed her forehead before carefully placing her sleepy head on his shoulder and rubbing her back. A tiny burp erupted from her and he smiled.
“Our little cutie is finally asleep. I think I’ll take her up to bed,” he said.
“I should change her first,” Violet said, standing up to follow him.
“No need. I’ll do it,” he said smiling at her. “Karen at least knows I can be a good dad.”