It was Wednesday, the day the littlest angel kids came to the garden and surprisingly, Violet couldn’t drum up a bit of the usual happiness she felt on this day. She tried, oh, she did try, but at every turn her spirits sunk lower.
“Miss Violet? Why isn’t Victor here?” Peter asked as he tugged on her sweater.
She went down on her knees and took his tiny hands in hers. “I’m sorry, Sweetie. He’s probably too busy to come. He has very important work in the city,” she told him forcing a smile onto her face. The smile was in the hope of easing the blow, but it didn’t help.
Peter’s large blue eyes filled with tears and Violet fought the desire to join him in a good cry, her own feelings being equally desolate. She hugged him and tried to soothe both him and herself. That didn’t help either.
Peter had by no means been the only one to ask about Victor, but he was the only one not content with her answer. Perhaps not content was a bit of an understatement. Peter was downright despondent.
“Now, Peter,” she said, cradling him on her lap, the little boy crying bitterly. “That’s nothing to be upset about. I’m sure you’ll see him soon.”
“Yeah, Pete, don’t cry,” Georgiana, his older sister, said, as she patted his tawny head. “Do you ‘member he said he would take us all to the carnival?”
“The fireman’s carnival?” Violet asked, her heart giving a sudden and grand leap. “This Saturday?”
“I dunno. I guess,” Georgiana said with a shrug. “Can I get out the tools, Miss Violet?”
“Sure, Honey. We’ll be right there,” Violet said. She took a tissue out of her pocket and wiped at Peter’s face. “I have lots of fun things to do today. You can be my special helper, okay?”
Peter looked up at her and wiped his nose with his sleeve. “I miss Victor,” Peter whined.
“I know,” she replied and paused before she added, “I do, too.”
“I want him to be my daddy.”
“Oh,” she said in surprise. She hugged him again. What in the world was she to say to that? Her heart ached for this poor little boy, but she couldn’t tell him his dream could happen. She very much doubted Victor, who had no wife, would adopt him, especially when Peter had two siblings. A single man adopting three children? It was just impossible.
“Peter, I don’t think Victor can be your daddy. He…he doesn’t have a wife so there would be no mommy for you. You want a mommy too, right?”
“I want you to be my mommy,” Peter said, snuggling closer. “You’re so nice. You can marry Victor. You like him, dontcha?”
You would think Peter had sucker-punched Violet! She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak, but she could envision the scenario and there was no denying she loved what she saw. It was straight out of a fairytale, a happily-ever-after, if you will. She and Victor together forever with their three darling adopted children, Peter, Julian and Georgiana, all so happy to have a family again, a mommy and daddy who loved each other and lavished them with boundless affection.
Oh, but what of the other angels? They couldn’t leave them behind, now could they? No, they would have to adopt them all, all fifteen of them and they would live in the very large Tudor house—it had to be huge to accommodate all seventeen of them!—which Victor will build for them on Somerset Hill.
She saw it so clearly, the wonderful life she could have on Somerset Hill with everybody she loved. She smiled and kissed the top of Peter’s silky head as if it had already come to be. Peter stared up at her then, his big blue eyes so innocent and sweet. The sight of them, however, burst the bubble. They reminded her forcefully of another pair of blue eyes, Richard’s eyes.
She flushed with guilt. “I’m sorry, Peter. I would love to be your mommy, but I can’t. I can’t marry Victor, or anyone. I’m already married to my husband, forever. I’m sorry.”
Peter stared up at her, obviously confused. “But Lucia said he was in heaven, like my mommy. You can’t be married to somebody in heaven.”
Violet sighed. Wasn’t that exactly what everyone she knew kept telling her?
· * * * * *
Saturday came and with it the Fireman’s carnival and all the fanfare involved in setting it up, running it and—if you’ve a mind to—going there and enjoying the rides, the food, the games and spending loads of money all to benefit the fire company. The annual fireman’s carnival was a major event in Catalpa Valley and attracted people from as far as Oneonta, Davenport , Treadwell and Meridale. There would be thousands coming for the weekend event.
Violet had no time to enjoy anything at present, though. She had almost tired herself out even before it opened up its gates to the public and there was still much work to be done. She baked everything, from muffins, pies and cookies, to cakes, tarts and cupcakes. She had so much stuff to transport down to the fairgrounds behind the elementary school that she enlisted the help of several friends, all of which had baked a few things, too.
While she appreciated the help of her friends, she didn’t much care for the help which was being forced on her by of those she didn’t really consider to be even an acquaintance, namely John Yearly. He came straight to her booth and proceeded to make himself her personal slave, much to Violet’s dismay. John was the last person Violet wanted near her.
John Yearly was a recently divorced firefighter pal of Richard’s who had always made Violet feel uncommonly violated just by the way he stared at her and he was forever staring at her! Rumor had it that his fascination with Violet may have been the cause of his family unrest and eventually led to the divorce. Heaven help her, but she surely hoped that wasn’t true! Unfortunately, she was starting to think it may have been the case.
“Have I told you, I’m gonna be in the dunk tank,” John said to Violet as they went back to her car for more baked goods to spread about the three tables which surrounded the bakery booth.
“Yes, I hope the water’s not too cold for you,” she replied, opening the back door.
“This is one sweet ride, Violet!” he said admiring her car. “These don’t come cheap. The payments must kill ya.”
“Not at all. I bought it used,” Violet replied, carefully taking the prettiest cakes out.
“No way this is used,” John said, looking at the odometer. “How long have you had it?”
“I don’t know,” she lied, turning back to her booth. She recalled perfectly well when she got it, but it wasn’t any of his business. Besides, it only reminded her of Victor and how wonderful he had been to help her find such a great car.
“Don’t know?” John said, laughing. “Just like a woman.”
Nettled now, she put down her cakes and turned to take the tray of cupcakes he held. “Well, thanks for all your help, John. I’m sure you have other things to do. There’s always so much to do at the carnival, that I’m sure you’ll be needed elsewhere,” she said, turning her back on him to artfully display the tarts and cookies on a table.
“Actually, I’m free for a couple hours. I thought I’d help you,” he said smiling at her. It looked more like a leer to her. The man did creep her out!
“I really have nothing for you to do,” she said, begging and praying for someone or something to take this odious man away.
“Well, then, I guess I’ll just have to bug you,” he said, chuckling at his own stupid joke.
Violet groaned inwardly and doubted anyone ever spoke truer words. To make matters worse, John’s airhead daughter, Judy, came just then. She had the annoying habit of snapping her chewing gum with loud popping sounds as she talked to her father.
“Could use Victor just about now. Returning the favor, you know?” Heidi said smugly.
“And I would welcome him with opened arms if he could get rid of this pest,” Violet muttered, placing the pretty cakes to the side of the table.
“Did you say something, Violet?” John said. “Judy was talking to me.”
She shook her head. “No, nothing.”
“Seems they want me extra early for the dunk tank, so I won’t be here to help you, after all. Hope you can stop by and try not to dunk me. I’m sure Lizzy will be and she’ll be hoping I drown, too. Divorce is good for charity I guess.”
Violet smiled genuinely for the first time since John showed up. “Sorry. I have to run things here.”
“Well, Judy’s here and she can help you out. She’s like you, Violet,” John said, winking at his daughter.
“Is she? In what way?” Violet asked glancing at the girl who wore more makeup than most runway models do and dressed in the skimpiest outfit she’d ever seen outside of a reality show. Judy stared at her cell phone texting and continually snapping that gum like mini-gunshots, completely oblivious to their discussion. What, Violet wondered, did this man think was similar between herself and this--well, there was no other word for it—his daughter gave every appearance of being a slutty bimbo.
“Judy can sell anything with just a smile and a little flirting. She can get boys to do whatever she wants, just like you. You obviously used your womanly charms to get a great deal on that car,” John said, smirking.
You’d think Violet had just frozen solid. “I don’t need help, thank you. You better get going. I have cookies to sell.”
She then turned her back on John and did just that. The gates had just opened and her first customers just walked up to her tables.
“Perhaps I’ll visit the dunk tank and bring the pitcher of the Catalpa Valley softball team,” Richard said, glaring at what he thought had been his friend.
“And I’ll round up the entire baseball team!” Heidi huffed.