Richard stood with a disgusted expression on his face and his hands stuffed deep into his front pockets, staring at Victor. “How the hell can you stand wearing that monkey suit?” he muttered.
Much to his surprise, Victor laughed and answered. “I’m used to it,” he said. “Not much different than a suit, really.”
“I wouldn’t be caught dead in something like that,” Richard said. Then he looked down at his clothes, just to make sure. Nope, no tux for him. He was clad in his usual well-worn jeans, comfy, old t-shirt and sneakers.
What a contrast he made to Victor! But he wasn’t going to worry about that. Not now that he finally understood things better. At least, he thought he did. According to Heidi he wasn’t a ghost after all, but instead he was a spirit guide. Of course, that put some pressure on him to do things right, to be of use to Violet. Too bad he didn’t have the slightest idea how to do that.
As he pondered what to do first, he curiously watched Victor walking slowly around the room, looking at photos on the wall and knick-knacks on tables. He had a rather contented look on his face for someone who had already waited a half hour and probably would have to wait more still.
“You’re a patient man, aren’t you?” Richard said.
“Compared to some, I suppose. Depends on what I’m waiting for,” Victor said, just as the cat jumped up onto the coffee table and meowed at him. He went over to her and scratched her behind the ears.
“Did Violet forget to feed you again? Let’s go see, okay?” He then went to the kitchen with Calendula following at his heel and looked for the cat’s bowl.
“Yep, she forgot. That Dory, huh? I’ll feed you, Ginger Fluff. Don’t worry,” he said, grabbing the bowl and a can of food.
“I suppose Violet is worth waiting for,” Richard said, wondering if he would agree.
“Better believe it,” Victor replied, putting the food down on the mat. He smiled as Calendula leapt onto the bowl as if she were starving.
“Even if she’s still grieving for her husband?”
“Even then. I’d like to help her get over it or at least ease her pain. I don’t like to see her sad. Hate it actually,” he replied, looking serious.
Richard gulped. He knew without quite knowing how, that Victor wasn’t lying. “Do you…do you…love Violet?” he asked, although he already knew the answer.
Victor smiled sadly and carefully washed his hands, trying not to get water on his sleeves. “What do you think?”
“Yeah. Uh…she’s probably gonna be another fifteen-twenty minutes, you know,” Richard warned, trying to ignore the ache he felt in his chest.
“I’ve waited over a decade. What’s a few more minutes?” Victor said, wiping his hands on a tea towel before heading back into the living room.
Richard followed him again and saw him pulling a photo album off the shelf. “You won’t want to look at those. They’re boring to anyone other than Violet. Just the kids and stuff,” he said. Much to his bewilderment Victor studied each page as if for an exam.
“You’re kinda…weird,” Richard mumbled, frowning at him. “Why the hell would you look at those? They can’t be interesting.”
“Are you kidding?” Victor said, shaking his head. “They’re fascinating. They tell of a happy life, a good life, one anybody would kill to have. I just wish I knew how a guy like that got a wonderful, amazing girl like Violet.”
Feeling suddenly insulted Richard puffed up his chest. “And what’s that supposed to mean? A guy like that?” he asked angrily.
“Look at him! He’s a normal, everyday guy. When they fell in love they were still in school, so it wasn’t that he was this brave fireman then. He got Violet to fall in love with him before he got a chance to be anything special. He was a football star though,” Victor said, frowning slightly as he spotted a picture of Freddy and Richard in their football uniforms, their helmets tucked under their arms and their grins cocky and fun-loving.
“Naw,” Richard said looking over Victor’s shoulder to glance at the pictures, too. “She hated football. Took Freddy three weeks of pleading to get her to go to the only one she ever went to and she only went because he promised to take her to the dance afterwards. ‘Course, it took more than that to convince their dad to let them go. Matter of fact, they kinda snuck out of the house. Well, Freddy snuck her out,” Richard laughed remembering. “She pretended to be sick and went to bed early. Freddy pulled her out of her bedroom window. Fun times!”
Victor laughed too. “I’ll bet. Freddy told me about that. Wonder why their father was so…strict?”
Something told Richard he should not divulge that information just yet.
“Still, how did Richard do it? I would give anything in the world to know that secret,” Victor muttered with such longing, anyone could feel it.
Richard blinked at him and slowly smiled. “Cowboy, you may just have given me my mission.”
Victor sighed, having not heard this. “Oh, how beautiful she was then…and still is,” he whispered, looking at Violet’s wedding photos. “How did he do it?”
“Well, it helped that he was her brother’s best friend, but you figured that out on your own, so you’re at least on the right track,” Richard said.
Victor suddenly snapped the book shut and cursed under his breath.
“Hey, it ain’t all bad,” Richard said, startled. Then he watched Victor pull something out of his pocket. “What’s that?”
Victor held a long, black velvet covered box and opened it to reveal a sparkling emerald and diamond pendant with matching bracelet and earrings. “I forgot to give this to her,” Victor mumbled.
“Wow! That must have set ya back some,” Richard said.
“Worth every penny if she likes them,” Victor retorted.
“Don’t worry about it, Cowboy. She’ll be down in a bit and you can give it to her then. I’m sure she’ll love them,” Richard told him. He frowned looking at the brilliant jewels then rose through the ceiling and into Violet’s bedroom.
“I’d have to work a year to afford that,” Richard said.
“Afford what, Richard, dear?” Heidi absently asked as she watched Violet do up her hair. “Now sweep it up on this side and let it drape loosely over that shoulder. That’s right. Oh, that’s lovely! Just enough throat showing to entice and allow for nice jewelry.”
“Oh, but I don’t have anything good enough for this,” Violet said, anxiously rummaging through her trinket box.
“Tell her not to worry, okay? Victor’s got something for her downstairs,” Richard muttered.
“Does he now?” Heidi said watching him curiously. Of course she knew about the jewels, but she marveled that he wasn’t putting up a fuss about it. She turned back to Violet and added, “Well, then maybe it’s best to leave it as is. You look a peach already and Victor’s been waiting long enough, dear.”
“Oh, yes, he has!” Violet said jumping up.
“Just a dab of that orange blossom perfume should do it,” Heidi said smiling.
“Oh, yes! I love this,” Violet said smiling at the tiny bottle. “Victor likes it too.”
“Yes, he does,” Heidi agreed, hooking her arm around Richard’s. “I think we’re ready to go.”
“I think I know my mission now,” Richard told her as they followed Violet down the hall and to the stairs.
“And?” she asked her eyebrows arched in surprise and wonder.
“I need to make Victor exactly the man Violet would want to…to fall in love with,” he said, rather reluctantly.
“Indeed!” Heidi said. “And how do you propose to do this?”
“I have no idea,” he replied truthfully.
“Well, then, perhaps I can help with that, shall I?” Heidi said, giving him a motherly smile.
“Okay,” he said, “I can use all the help I can get. It’s not so easy being a spirit guide.”
“No, but it is rather satisfying, I’d say.” She giggled.
Richard would have to take her word for it.