“I’ve got something for you,” Victor said as he dried and stored the last of the dinner dishes within the cupboard.
“Victor, what did I tell you about presents?” Violet chided.
“Ah, yes, well, this isn’t a present, not for you anyway. So, let me rephrase that. I want to show you something I just received from my son,” he said taking a DVD out of the pocket of his jacket which hung on the back of a chair.
“You want to show me music?”
“Well, it is set to music. Ronnie always makes a major production out of these things, but, no, it’s pictures.”
“Of the two weeks when I was gone,” he said. At the blank look on her face he added, “Right before Freddy’s birthday party…remember Dory? I thought it strange that you never asked me where I went. But I’d like to show you now.”
She made a funny face. “Why would I want to see pictures of a bunch of lawyers at a conference or whatever you lawyers do for fun?” she asked bewildered. As usual she reached into her purse for her orange blossom hand lotion.
“Is that where you thought I was all that time?” he asked.
“That’s what your receptionist told me.”
“Ella never said you called. I’m going to dock her pay for that,” he said.
“Don’t do that, Victor! It wasn’t her fault. I didn’t tell her my name.”
“Why did you call?” he asked.
“Well, it’s silly now.”
“Tell me,” he said taking her hands and lifting them to his nose. He closed his eyes and inhaled the wonderful fragrance with a smile on his face. When he opened them, he found her staring up at him with such a tender expression his heart flipped over. “Violet?” he whispered.
“Hmm?” she replied distractedly. She watched his sensual lips hover tantalizingly close to her fingers. She could feel his breath caress her skin, warm and pleasing.
He smiled and lowered her hands. “Tell me why you called.”
“Oh,” she said trying to focus again. “Um, that was the day …when you sent me the first present. I was planning on yelling at you,” she said frowning.
“Oh, I see. Then I guess I should give Ella a raise for preventing that,” he said, smirking.
“Wise guy,” she muttered. Then curiosity got the better of her. “So, where did you go if it wasn’t a conference?”
“Spring break,” he replied.
She gaped at him. “Isn’t that just for college kids?” she asked.
“I had two college kids with me…my sons and we had tons of fun,” he said popping the DVD into the player.
She blinked several times. “You spent spring break with your boys?” she said, incredulous. “But what would make you think I want to see pictures of you and your sons chasing scantily clad college girls?” she said, astonished.
“If that’s what you’re expecting you’re going to be very disappointed,” he said chuckling. He grabbed her hand and pulled her next to him on the couch. “I want you to see this, Violet. You haven’t seen my boys since they were very little.”
“Yes, but…” she asked bewildered.
“Simon and Ronnie are all grown up, so you won’t recognize them,” he said.
“Um...so, where did you go? Daytona? Panama Beach? Those are the best spring break hot spots, I hear,” she said.
“Nope. Grand Canyon,” he said gleefully.
“Are you serious?”
“Of course. I’m always serious about vacation time with my boys. We had such a great time,” he said.
The music started and Violet smiled. “I like this song, but it sounds very different from the original, a different singer. It’s much better I think. You wouldn’t know who sings that, do you?” she asked.
Victor grinned. “That’s Ronnie. He loves singing.”
“Really? He’s wonderful…oh, Victor!” she gasped as the first shot came into view. “How beautiful!”
Victor and his sons were silhouetted against the sunset at the Grand Canyon.
“On the first day, we got there too late to start the hike down so we hung around the rim taking pictures of each other during sunset. It was glorious,” Victor explained.
“Yes,” she sighed dreamily as the pictures progressed getting brighter in color, the sky swirled in purple, red and yellow until the sun sunk entirely and darkness fell. She smiled at the first picture of the boys grinning mischievously with their arms around each other.
Ronnie was practically a carbon copy of Victor only his hair was longer and he had a more casual air about him. Simon was slimmer than both his father and brother though still muscular and as tall. He had a slightly haughty appearance, Violet thought, and must get his good looks from his mother. He didn’t resemble Victor at all. His hair was a dark blond and his eyes were a startling blue, like sapphires.
Absent-mindedly Violet linked her hands around Victor’s arm and gushed, “They are gorgeous boys, Victor...men, I should say. You must be so proud of them.”
“You bet,” he said.
Having seen the pictures before, Victor mostly watched Violet as she gazed transfixed at the TV screen, her eyes aglow, her expression avid. She gushed, oohed and ahhed. When she gasped and dug her nails into his arm, he looked at the screen. It was the shot of the guys hanging precariously off the rim of the Grand Canyon.
“Victor, how could you let them do that? They could have fallen and oh! I don’t want to think what might have happened!” she shrieked.
“It’s not as bad as it looks. It’s not a sheer drop to the bottom. They would have fallen a couple of feet to a ledge. They were very safe,” he lied. His mind drifted back there. He couldn’t recall how many times he yelled at the guys to quit their roughhousing. He would never tell Violet but they did give him a few extra gray hairs on that trip. He smiled and for a moment he relived it all as each photo came up. It was a time he’d always treasure.
“Victor?” Violet said putting her soft hand on his cheek.
He shook his head and he was back. “I’m sorry. What?” he said, with difficulty focusing on her.
“You went back to the Grand Canyon for a few minutes, didn’t you?” she said giggling. “I don’t blame you. It must have been so nice having your sons with you. It’s amazingly beautiful there.”
He stared at her. “I wish I had brought you,” he said without thinking.
“Me? You silly man, I wouldn’t interfere with a boys-only-spring-fling-thing.”
He chuckled. “The boys would love you,” he insisted.
“Me? Why?” she asked befuddled.
“Who can help falling in love with you?” he said.
Violet’s eyes widened and she pulled away from him.
“What the hell are ya doing? You trying to scare her off?” Richard shouted. “Quick! Tell her…a joke or something!”
The shock on her face told Victor he had indeed gone too far. “It’s just that you’re so sweet and my boys can’t get enough of sweet since my mama died,” Victor said, shrugging. “So, they would love you just like all the kids at Mio caro do.”
“Oh,” she said, instantly relaxing. “I’m sorry. They must miss her as much as you do. I could send them some cookies to their dorms. You know, a care package. I do it for Sophie so she’s not so homesick.”
“You would do that for my boys?” he asked, astonished.
“If it would make them happy.”
“They’d be ecstatic to get homemade cookies. Violet, you’re such a sweetheart. Thank you,” he said and totally losing his head he kissed her cheek.
“Do I gotta smack you?” Richard growled. “You can’t keep doing that. You’re gonna send her screaming for the hills!”
Shocked to her toes she stared at him, her heart fluttering madly. “You… you should wait until I bake the cookies first,” she said breathlessly.
“Right. Okay,” he said. They both turned back to the TV in time to see the boys and himself posed in front of the raft they took down the Colorado River, big grins on their faces, life jackets on and paddles in hand.
“I still can’t believe they talked me into that. It was fantastic, slightly terrifying and the water freezing cold, but I’d do it again in a second,” Victor said grinning as broadly as he was doing in the picture.
“Dear God! You went down that raging river with the boys in that dinky little boat?” she shrieked. “Are you insane? You could’ve been killed!”
“As you can see in the next picture, we all made it back alive,” he said pointing to the TV. There they stood obviously down river, soaked to the skin, shivering and beaming. “It was exhilarating!”
“It’s amazing you survived. Don’t people drown all the time in white-water rafting trips?”
“I guess some do. But we made it back in one piece with memories to last a lifetime. I’ll take you one day. You’ll love it.”
She shook her head emphatically. “No way, Mister! That’s not my kind of fun. You and your crazy boys maybe, but not me!”
“It’s safe. I wouldn’t ever let anything happen to you.”
“I know I’ll be safe because my feet will stay on solid ground, thank you very much,” she stated briskly.
He laughed. “You are ador….”
“Don’t say it, you idiot! You’re already threading on very thin ice. Unless you want Violet to toss you out on your rump just shut up with the compliments. Okay?” Richard snapped.
Victor decided to heed the advice of his inner voice. He sat back and enjoyed the show and after a few minutes past, when she placed her hand on his arm, he smiled.