“Victor, pinch me,” Violet said.
“Excuse me?” Victor replied pausing half way through buckling up to stare at her.
“This must be a dream. I’m only dreaming and what I thought just happened really didn’t. Right?” she said.
“No, my love, you are really and truly the new director of the outdoor children’s garden at Weston Botanical,” he said chuckling and starting the car.
She placed her hands on either side of her glowing face. “How did it happen? It must have been you. You told them to…”
“I had absolutely nothing to do with it,” he said truthfully.
“Don’t lie to me, Victor!” she said actually wagging her finger at him very much like his mother used to when she was annoyed with him.
He laughed. “I’m not. I admit I was bragging about you and told Walter how impressed I was with your knowledge of plants and one thing led to another. The true culprit was Garret. His testimony may not have seemed like much, but from him it was the highest praise possible! That’s one hard man to impress, and to get along with, too, and you had him eating out of the palm of your hand.”
“Oh, please!” she scoffed.
“Sweetheart, you’ve got to face it, you are that good. You got this job all on your own,” he said, smoothly turning out of the gates and into the post party traffic.
“Victor, you mustn’t do that,” she said.
“But it’s true. They would not have even considered hiring you if not for…”
“Not that. You have to stop calling me…those…those things,” she said.
“You know perfectly well. Those… terms of endearment,” Violet said, nervously twisting the ends of her shawl.
“Haven’t we done this scene before…like déjà vu?” he said, smirking.
“I know, but it obviously didn’t stick,” Violet said, staring at his profile as he drove. “This time I know there was a purpose. It was to ward off that woman but she’s not here anymore, is she? So, please, Victor, don’t use them with me. They make me very uncomfortable.”
“See? What did I tell ya? You keep it up and she’s gonna balk and then where will you be? Not in her life, that’s for damn sure!” Richard snarled. “Now will ya listen to me?”
“Guess I better,” Victor mumbled.
“I’m sorry, what?” Violet said.
“I said I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you,” Victor replied, stiffly.
“I’m not upset, it’s just…”
“I have to tell you though, it worked like a charm. Violet, I truly can’t thank you enough. To be rid of Silvia is… a miracle and you did it just by being there and allowing me to call you…my love. Nothing else would have done it with her,” Victor said.
“I feel badly though. She’s probably in love with you,” she said.
“Are you kidding? Silvia doesn’t know what love is. Believe me, I’m better off being rid of her.”
“Why? She seemed…nice,” Violet said, not at all convincing.
Victor burst out laughing. “That woman wouldn’t know nice if it bit her on her surgically enhanced…”
“Butt,” he finished.
“Oh, did she have work done there, too?” she asked, falling into a fit of giggles.
“You wouldn’t want to know,” he replied chuckling along with her.
They lapsed into a comfortable silence for several minutes and were almost home when Violet suddenly gasped.
“What is it?” Victor asked.
“What am I going to tell Jocelyn?” she shrieked. “How am I going to break the news to her?”
“Victor,” she said sternly.
“I’m sorry. It’s a hard habit to break. Anyway, Jocelyn is your best friend, isn’t she?”
“Yes, exactly why…”
“Why she’ll be over the moon happy for you and wish you all the best on this wonderful new endeavor. She’ll know what an amazing opportunity this is and she won’t begrudge you this.”
“I hope you’re right,” Violet mumbled.
“Of course I’m not mad! Oh, Violet this is fantastic!” Jocelyn shouted spinning Violet around her cramped office. “When do you start? Maybe we can plan a trip there with the kids! That would be awesome! But Violet, tell me, how in the world did you get this job? Did you send them a resume?”
“You know I don’t even know what a resume is. Besides here, I’ve never worked a day in my life,” Violet told her. “They wanted me to start immediately but I told them in two weeks. Will that give you enough time to find someone to replace me?”
“Plenty! Consider this your last week here,” Jocelyn said, brimming with excitement. “Our little Violet is finally all grown up and branching out—pun intended—all on her own onto a career custom made for her. I’m so proud of you.”
“Don’t be yet. I could botch it all up,” Violet said nervously rubbing her hands together.
“Ridiculous! Of course you’ll be the best…what is your title again?” Jocelyn asked.
“Director of the outdoor children’s garden and I’ll also be Garret Johansen’s assistant, but I think that’s a bit like being a babysitter,” Violet answered with a giggled.
“And why is that?” Jocelyn asked.
“He’s amazing with plants but he just doesn’t relate so well with people. I think I’ll be a go-between… sort of.”
“Well, whatever it is they have you doing at Weston, I know you, children and gardens go together like peanut butter and jelly...oh yeah and bread,” Jocelyn said. “You’ll be great at everything you do. One thing though…how did you get this job offer?”
“I…I was just at the right place at the right time,” Violet said evasively.
“That right? And where was this right place and right time?” Jocelyn said, a sly smile just barely visible.
“There was a charity event at Weston last night and I…”
“You were there? Who did you go with?”
“Yes, I was there and I met the director Walter Bettencourt. We got to talking…”
“Emma Schwartz’ grandfather,” Jocelyn said.
“I know everything about my kids. Funny how who met the man in charge, just like that,” Jocelyn said snapping her fingers. “Well, I’ve been underestimating you all these years. You obviously know how and who to suck up to.”
“I did not suck up to anyone!” Violet shouted, indignant.
“Of course you didn’t. It was your charming personality that got you the job,” Jocelyn said, laughing. “Now, let’s go tell everyone your great news. They’ll be as excited as I am!”
This wasn’t exactly true. The kids cried openly and Violet’s co-workers, though they put on brave faces, couldn’t muster up very much enthusiasm. The surprising thing was the speed in which all the parents heard of Violet’s departure. Some of them were as devastated as their kids were.
At the end of the day when the parents starting coming for their children each one stopped Violet to thank her for all she did for their kids and to wish her luck at Weston. During this time of madness when everyone was busily placing jackets on the kids, the kids saying their goodbyes to their friends and some of the parents handing over payments for the following week, Violet found herself having to take Anise and her brother Cody out to their dad.
Harry Colt was the last person she wanted to see right now. Frankly, he was the last person she wanted to see ever. Ed’s conversation about him was still uncomfortably clear in her head. Ed as much as said Harry would ask her out. Just the thought of that creep made her skin crawl. She hadn’t told Ed what she knew about Harry and now she wondered if she should have done so. Of course, he’d probably just say they were rumors, but she knew differently.
“Just great,” she muttered as she tugged a reluctant zipper up to Cody’s chin. “Where is Victor when I need him to ward off my own male version of Sylvia.”
“I like Mr. Victor. He plays army commando wiff us,” Cody said, smiling at her.
“Yes,” she said forcing a smile and scooped up baby Anise off the floor where she sat on a blanket. “I could use an army commando right now. Come on, Cody. Your dad’s waiting for you. God help me.”