“I need a hug real bad,” Victor said when Violet opened the door to him. To his amazement she walked into his arms and wrapped her own around his middle. He held her close and for several minutes they just stood there.
“It stinks,” she mumbled into his chest.
“I know. You do your best as parents,” he said. “You hope your kids grow to be loving, kind, trustworthy, intelligent and also self-reliant and independent. You hope they’ll make good choices in life and they repay you by…”
“Exactly,” he said smiling sadly. Then he frowned and pulled back to look at her. “How did you know?”
“She called me. I’d ask how you know, but I’ve learned you know everything about me before I even get a chance to tell you,” she said, a tiny pout on her lips.
“Who called you?” Victor asked.
“Sophie, of course.”
“What did she say?”
“That she’s not coming home this summer.”
“You’re kidding me,” he said, aghast.
“No. Isn’t that what you were talking about?”
“No, not Sophie. My boys,” Victor said.
“What about them? They okay?” Violet said anxiously.
“Fine, but they’re not coming home either.”
Violet gaped at him, then pulled a grumpy face. “Humph! They don’t love us at all!” she shouted.
Victor laughed. “My boys assured me they did, but great opportunities came up.”
“Wow, Sophie said that, too,” Violet said, stepping out of his embrace and heading to the kitchen. “I was hoping you’d come.”
He followed and only then noticed the delightful scents coming from the kitchen. “What have you been up to today? That smells wonderful.”
“I cook when I’m upset. Sit down, you’re getting a bit of a feast,” she said.
She wasn’t kidding. Victor hadn’t eaten so well since the last time Violet had fed him… several days ago. He sorely missed breakfast with Violet and lunch and dinner too.
“I was so looking forward to having Sophie home,” Violet whined, after eating her fill. “It’s going to be so lonely without her.”
“Tell me about it,” Victor said, cradling his coffee cup in his hands. “I had all sorts of plans for us too. Fun stuff, you know? And now…”
“Blown to bits,” Violet said sadly. “What are we going to do all summer without them?”
Victor shook his head staring at her. “We’re on our own,” he said.
She sighed and took their plates to the sink. “At least I have the kids at work to keep me busy,” she said, coming back to the table and grabbing the cups.
Victor suddenly smiled and grabbed her hand. “Well, there's a plan.”
“Let’s get crazy, Violet,” he said.
“Huh?” she said, anxiously.
“We don’t need the kids to have a great summer,” he said.
“We don’t?” she said, making a funny face.
“No, we can do everything we would’ve done with them by ourselves,” he said excitedly.
“Really?” Violet said, taking the cups to the sink. “So, you’re going to go the spa with me for a full day’s treatment and get our hair and nails done?”
Victor laughed. “Okay, maybe not that one,” he said.
“And I suppose you’re going to take me shopping?” she continued as the sink filled with water.
“Hey, I’m a great shopper. You should try me,” he said. "That's the one thing my ex-wife loved about me."
Violet giggled. “Oh, you silly man. You do make me laugh.”
“I’m serious, Violet,” he said, rolling up his sleeves and going to help her. “Think about it. Were we really going to get much time with our kids anyway? I don’t know about Sophie, but my boys spend most of the time home, NOT at home except to sleep and sometimes they don’t even do that. They’re mostly off with their friends. They don’t need us anymore.”
“Are you trying to depress me even more than I already am?” she shrieked. “Cuz it’s working!”
“No, Honey, not at all. I’m just saying we can still have a fun-filled summer…just not with our own kids. We’ll borrow some,” he said smirking.
“Huh? Borrow some kids? What have you seen smoking, Victor?”
He laughed and gently pushed her aside. “We have some kids right under our noses,” he said, plunging his hands into the water. “Our little angels.”
She gaped at him. “What are you saying?”
“We’ll have loads of fun with our angel kids, all summer long,” he said rinsing the first dish and putting it in the dish drain.
“But, Victor, we only see them on Wednesdays and they’re supposed to be working on the garden.”
“There are six other days of the week, Sweetie.”
“Are you forgetting I work?” she said, watching him do the dishes. “And I think you do, too…occasionally anyway.”
“After work and on weekends. We weren’t going to do anything with our own kids then either, so…”
“And you expect to what? Kidnap them?”
“If need be,” he said laughing. “I doubt it’ll come to that. I’m sure they’ll love what I have planned.”
“Let’s hear this grand plan of yours,” Violet said, grabbing a towel and drying the first dish.
“Ooh, baby, everything you can imagine!” he said, handing her the next one. “Picnics and hiking, horseback riding and biking, swimming and fishing and blueberry picking.”
“You realize you’re starting to sound like Dr. Seuss,” she said.
“And I will show them a mouse and I will take them to my house and I will take them here and there and I will take them everywhere!”
Violet laughed. “You goof!” she said. “Victor, there are fifteen of them. We can’t handle all of them on a hike or biking. Unless…are you thinking of just taking a few at a time?”
“Heck no! All of them all the time. We can do it. We did fine at the garden,” he said handing her the last cup and turning off the water.
“But that was…easy at the garden,” she said giving him the towel so he could dry his hands. “It would be different doing all those things. We have really little ones and much older ones too.”
“Yes, exactly,” he said, rolling his sleeves back down and buttoning the cuffs. “Joaquin, Lucia and Clair were really good at helping with the younger kids. I’m telling you, this will work and we’ll have the time of our lives, all of us!”
“We’d have to ask the Trents if it’s okay,” she said skeptically.
“No problem,” he said.
She stared at him frowning. “You really want to do this?”
“I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t,” he said, taking her hand and squeezing it gently. “Come on, Violet. You know it’ll be nice to be with those kids and doing something with them and for them. They’ve had it rough, most of them. Some a lot worse than I’d like to imagine. We should do this for them. Give them some fun. Make them forget about the bad things in life. Make them know life can still be good. We can do that for them and in the process, we’ll have fun and we’ll feel useful again. Win-win, I’d say.”
She blinked up at him, a warm feeling filling her better than the large breakfast had. “Well, when you put it that way…okay.”
“Whoo-hoo!” he shouted and spun her right off her feet.
“Victor! You nut!”
After a few spins he set her back on her feet and grinned. “What should we do first? I thought tomorrow we could take a bike ride through…”
“Tomorrow?” Violet shrieked. “You do know spring only just started.”
“You were talking about plans for summer fun,” she said, in the patient voice she usually reserved for toddlers.
He grinned. “Did I? Hmm, I think summer’s starting early this year. Come on, let’s get you to work.”
“Wham, bam, thanks for breakfast ma’am?” she said surprising herself and making Victor burst out laughing.
“I do thank you profusely for the wonderful feast you made,” he said. “But the sooner I get you to work, the sooner the work day will be done and then we can do some shopping.”
“Shopping? For what?” she said as Victor grabbed her hand and pulled her to the front door.
“Well, we need to get bikes for both of us and each of the kids and helmets too,” he said holding Violet’s jacket out for her.
“You are not seriously thinking of getting each kid his own bike! That’s fifteen…” she stopped and sighed. “Of course you’re serious. You’re stuck in Santa Claus mode.”
He chuckled as he buttoned up her coat. “Good of you to admit defeat and leave me to it.”
She shook her head in stunned disbelief and didn’t even notice when he helped her into his car and buckled her seatbelt for her. It was only after they pulled out of the driveway and went down the street that she realized what just happened.
“Victor, what in heaven’s name are you doing? I have a car remember? And I need to get to work,” she said.
“We need to get to work. I’m going with you,” he said.
“Excuse me? It’s not Wednesday,” she said, now wondering about his sanity.
“Oh, didn’t Walter tell you?” he said casually. “He thought I did a great job with the kids so he said I could be your assistant whenever my schedule allows. I’m free today.”
“Of course you are,” she said, astonished and a bit wary. How in the world was she going to manage working alongside this man whenever his schedule allows?
“Oh, I think you’ll manage just fine, dear,” Heidi whispered. “You’ll see, this will be the best summer and spring you’ve ever had.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Violet muttered.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” Victor asked.
“Uh…the kids will love you I’m sure,” she said.
He smiled and grabbed her hand giving it a squeeze. “I was thoroughly miserable after talking to the boys, but I’m so excited now. This new plan of ours is going to be great!”
She stared at his hand on hers and couldn’t help smiling. As awful as she felt after Sophie’s call, Violet now felt quite happy and as excited with their new plans as Victor was.
Victor seemed to constantly do that, make her happy. Go figure.