“You know, I’d like these pictures better if you gave a full narrative,” Violet said.
“What does that mean exactly, a full narrative?” Victor asked. “I’m telling you about them. What more could you want?”
“I want to know what you and the boys were saying during every shot,” she said. “I want to know what was going on, how you were feeling, what joke they told you to get that smile on your face, the air temperature, the number of people around…Everything! That way I can almost imagine myself there with you.”
He burst out laughing. “Would be easier if I took you with us the next time we go,” he said.
“Try your best,” she said reaching for the remote and she started the picture disk over again. “Okay, what were you talking about as you watched the sun set? I doubt it was “What does E=MC squared really mean, Dad?” You looked so happy. What were you talking about?”
“We, um, we were talking about girls, strangely enough,” he muttered.
She laughed out loud. “You’ve got the most beautiful sunset, the most breathtaking view of the magnificent Grand Canyon and all you and your sons can think about is girls?”
“Actually, it was more like… my love life or lack thereof,” he replied, grimacing.
“You’re kidding me, right?” she said.
“Fraid not. My sons have the annoying habit of asking me, every chance they get, if I’m in love yet,” he said, shaking his head.
“Oh, Victor! That’s so sweet,” she gushed, placing her hand on his arm.
“You call it sweet, but they can be impossible. They don’t believe I can be happy unless I have a girlfriend.”
“Maybe they’re right,” she said.
He stared at her, taken aback. “Why would you say that?”
She shrugged. “I know you put on a cheerful façade and to the casual observer you appear to be happy, but I see something… melancholy in you… sometimes,” she said.
“And you see this sad aspect because you’re not a casual observer?” he asked.
“No, I don’t think I am. I hope you don’t mind my saying it, but I think you let your guard down around me. It’s probably because you know you’re safe from me.”
“Safe from you? How do you mean?” he said. “You really are an axe-murderess and you're just biding your time?”
“Silly man!” she laughed. “I mean, you know I have no romantic interest in you, so you’re safe from me. You know I’m not scheming to trap you.”
Victor had opened his mouth to reply but Richard stopped him. “Don’t say it! Don’t tell her you wish she would!” Richard said.
“Scheming to trap me,” Victor repeated thoughtfully. “No, I wouldn’t think that of you, although I would be in better hands if you were trying to trap me. You know, instead of someone like…Sylvia,” he said with a fake shudder.
She giggled. “I suppose so. I wouldn’t want you just for your money,” she said.
“What would you want me for?” he asked curiously.
“Cripes, man! What are you doing? She’s not gonna like this. I can guarantee it,” Richard said.
“What…huh? I just said I wasn’t,” she said, slightly alarmed.
“Yes, I know, but…if you were looking for a husband, what would you want from…”
“But I’m not!”
“I know, Violet. I know, but suppose you were, what…”
“I’m not and I won’t be…ever!”
“Drop it!” Richard warned.
Victor clenched his jaw in frustration. They turned back to the pictures and watched in silence for several minutes.
“They’re such beautiful boys. Simon has the most amazing eyes. He must look like his mother,” Violet said.
“Very much so, yes,” Victor said.
“But Ronnie...he’s totally you. You could be twins,” she said.
“This is when we started the hike to the bottom. Didn’t take us as long as we thought. Only six and a half hours.”
“Only?” she said, shocked.
“It’s a twenty-one mile hike down Angel Bright trail. It takes some people that long to get half way down,” he said.
“That sounds so nice, Angel Bright trail. Why do they call it that?”
He shrugged. “Maybe that’s where you’re likely to see an angel before you jump off to your death.”
“Victor! Do people actually go there to…to kill themselves?” she asked apprehensively.
“Not on purpose, I’m thinking,” he replied carefully. “But I’m sure accidents happen.”
Her eyes widened. “I don’t want to think about that.”
“Right here Ronnie started flirting with a couple of Chinese girls."
"Hmm, he flirts in many languages. Good to know," Violet said giggling.
"He does, yes. He took their picture. That’s how all three of us got to be together in the picture for a change. The girls took our pictures after Ronnie was nice enough to take theirs.”
“Well, that was nice. Did the girls keep you company the rest of the way?”
“No, they were only going part of the way and went back up. They didn’t want to get stuck on the trail after dark. Gets a bit dangerous then.”
“How did you make it back up?” she asked.
“We didn’t go back up for several days. We camped at the bottom.”
“Really? But weren’t there...you know, snakes and stuff?” she asked nervously.
“We didn’t see any in our sleeping bags,” he said, grinning.
“Did you have a tent at least?”
He scoffed. “That’s for wimps! We’re real men,” he said, puffing out his chest.
“Yeah, real insane men,” she muttered.
He laughed. “We slept out under the stars. Ronnie sang us campfire songs. It was fantastic.”
“I’m so glad you had a wonderful time with your boys. They’ll always love you for it. A father’s love is so important.”
“I’ll certainly remember the Twenty-one mile hike,” he said.
“You must be in great shape,” she said in awe.
“The guys keep me young.”
“I never would have made it,” she said wistfully.
“We could carry you down,” he said.
“Funny man,” she said.
“What? Think I’m kidding? Our backpacks weighed more than you.”
“Crazy man, too. How much do you think I weigh? Wait!" she said, holding up her hand. "Don’t answer that. You might make me cry.”
He burst out laughing. “I’ll bet you’re barely a hundred on a good day.”
“That would definitely be a good day,” she said and she laughed too.
“Look! This was my favorite shot. How do you like that waterfall?”
Waterfall? What waterfall? She stared at the screen and felt a thrill run through her. “Wow,” she whispered.
Oh, there was a waterfall in the photo, but all Violet could see was Victor. He stood in the middle of a crystalline pool with the waterfall behind him. He was bare-chested in glorious sunshine with water droplets on his handsome, smiling face. He wore snug-fitting cut-offs and his hair fell in enticing waves across his forehead. He was simply to die for.
“So, what do think? Nice, huh?” Victor asked. “I wish Simon had taken it without me in it but, I don’t block too much of it.”
“Gorgeous,” she muttered, as she imagined herself in the river with him, running her hands over those tanned, broad shoulders, that chiseled chest, down over rock hard abs and....
She suddenly felt very warm. Why in the world had her thoughts turned that way?
“Now don’t you wish you came with us? Pictures don’t do it justice. You would have loved it,” he said. He turned to her and his smile vanished. “Violet, you feel okay? You’re all flushed. You’re not getting sick are you?” He placed his large hand on her cheeks and then her forehead checking temperature. “You feel all right.”
“Uh...no..yes, I’m fine. Um, it’s getting so late. We should go to bed... I mean... sleep. I’m... I’m tired. Gotta get up early, you know so, um...you should go... go to bed, to sleep. Go to sleep. Time for sleep. Everybody should sleep,” she stuttered incoherently.
“Okay,” he said, frowning slightly. “We can finish this some other time. Are you sure you’re feeling all right?”
“I’m...I’m good. I’ll see you soon,” she said standing up and almost racing to the front door.
“Can I take you out to dinner or a movie tomorrow?” he asked following her to the foyer where she held out his coat.
“Um, sure. Good night, Victor,” she said, rushing him out the door.
“Good night, Violet,” he said as he slipped out. Before she could shut it he poked his head back in and said, “Don’t forget to lock up. Sweet dreams.”
She nodded and almost shut the door on his head and then leaned on it, a hand over her rapidly thumping heart. “Sweet dreams? I hope not,” she mumbled.
“Oh, I don’t know about that. I do believe someone will be dreaming of gorgeous… waterfalls tonight,” Heidi said, amusement in her voice.
“I will not!” Violet shouted. Deny it all she wanted, it was likely she would have dreams, but they would be of a bit more than waterfalls.