“Miss Violet! Miss Jocelyn!”
They both turned in time to be fiercely hugged about the knees.
“Hi, Heather,” Violet said.
“Heather, what happened to your beautiful, long hair?” Jocelyn shrieked. “It’s all gone!”
“Oh, how cute!” Violet said. “You look like Tinker Belle, except you have no wings.”
“Dat’s what Gramma said, but it’s okay. Mommy says it’ll grow back and den we can cut it off again,” Heather said.
“But why did you cut it in the first place?” Jocelyn asked, just as Diane showed up with her own pixie haircut. “Girl, what have you done to yourself and this poor child?”
Diane laughed. “It was Heather’s idea.”
“What?” Jocelyn said. "And you listened to her???"
“We sold our hair and gave the money to a charity,”Heather explained.
“Oh, Heather,” Violet gushed, hugging her tightly. “That’s so sweet. You and your mommy are extra special for doing such a wonderful thing.”
“I couldn’t exactly allow my daughter to sacrifice her beautiful hair without doing the same. I wasn’t thrilled about it until…well, I’ve been getting all sorts of compliments. I even have a date,” Diane said, excitedly.
“Well, a date is worth cutting all your hair off,” Jocelyn said. “Who’s the lucky guy?”
“Bryan Rivers. We went to school together…sort of. I was a sophomore when he was a senior. He went into the Navy after graduation, but he’s back home now and my dad just hired him.”
Violet and Jocelyn exchanged amused looks. “That’s wonderful, Diane,” Violet said.
“Bryan’s super nice,” Heather interjected. “He’s taking us to see Puss in Boots.”
“You’re going with your mommy on this date? Oh, that can’t be much fun,” Jocelyn said, winking at Diane. “Why don’t you come with me and we can have a girl’s night. I think you and I are due for a good mani-pedi time, don’t you think? We’ll have fun while your mommy’s on this boring date.”
“But Bryan said I could come,” Heather whined.
“Thanks for the offer, Jocelyn, but it’s okay. He knows we’re a package deal and he wants to get to know both of us,” Diane said, her pretty blue eyes glowing.
“Well,” Violet said, smiling brightly. “You can’t get any better than that.”
Jocelyn sighed as she watched them skip away, looking more like sisters than mother and child. “Wish I had a…” She stopped in mid-sentence and gasped.
“What is it?” Violet asked.
“Be still my heart,” Jocelyn muttered, clutching at Violet’s arm. “Will you look at the Adonis coming our way! Wait…he knows Heather and Diane. He can’t be the Bryan she just told us about, can he?”
Violet looked up and smiled. “Of course not, Silly! That’s Victor.”
“That’s your Victor?” Jocelyn shrieked.
“Not my Victor, but yes, that’s him, but surely you know that.”
“I did not! You think I could forget meeting something so fine?”
“Well, you’ll meet him now,” Violet said.
“What I want to know is why are you not riding that stallion every chance you get?”
“Jocelyn!” Violet hissed. “Have you forgotten? I’m married.”
“To a corpse. Don't look at me like that! You know I love Richard, Violet, but he’s gone and now you have this fine specimen of male flesh at your beck and call and...”
“And we’re just friends,” Violet muttered.
“Mm-hmm, sure, Baby. Friends with amazing benefits,“ Jocelyn said, smirking.
“I told you I had to do that to get rid of…”
“Mm-hmm. To beat off both his and your ardent admirers. Great excuse to have a knight in shining armour kiss you in broad daylight and in front of the entire town.”
“We’re just friends,” Violet vehemently said.
“I’ll have to devise a way to use that tactic sometime,” Jocelyn said, just as the man in question finally left Heather and Diane and reached them.
“Hello, Victor,” Violet said, her cheeks flushed.
“So, here you are,” he said. “I thought you might have gone off with your buddy, dearly, John Yearly.”
“Oh, will you stop calling him that!” Violet said, thoroughly vexed.
He chuckled and turned to her friend who gazed at him with an almost hungry expression. “You must be Catalpa Valley’s answer to Cleopatra,” he said.
“Depends, do you wanna float down the Nile on my barge?”
“Perhaps you are something like a Julius Caesar or at least Marc Anthony?” Jocelyn said, stepping closer to him. She was so tall she was almost his height. “Either the singer or the Roman. I don’t care which.”
Victor chuckled and shook his head. “No, I’d like to think I have better morals than either of those men,” he retorted.
“Pity,” Jocelyn said. “You don’t know what you’re missing. Morals are highly over-rated.”
“Jocelyn!” Violet scolded.
“Miss Goody-goody here would rather I not speak absolute truths,” Jocelyn said, shrugging.
“What truth? Victor is a perfect gentleman, I’ll have you know!” Violet said.
“I try anyway,” he said, sheepishly grinning.
“Pity indeed,” Jocelyn retorted.
“Victor, I'm not quite sure I'm doing you any favors, but I'd like to introduce you to my lusty friend, Jocelyn,” Violet said, giving her a stern look.
“Oh, yes. Violet has told me about you, Jocelyn,” Victor said, a crease forming between his brows as he took both her hands in his. “I am sorry about the loss of your mother. I know exactly how you feel. I lost my beloved mother a few years back. not a day goes by that I don't miss her. If there is anything I can do to help, do let me know.”
Jocelyn gaped at him and wished to high heaven she didn’t love Violet like a sister. Then she wouldn’t feel badly about trying to steal this guy from her.