“It’s great to finally meet the man everyone’s been talking about,” Jocelyn said. “I do have a request of you.”
“Do you?” Victor said, surprised and a bit put off.
“What? Already?” Violet shrieked.
“Perhaps Violet has not told you, I’m not dating,” Victor said.
“I already explained that, Victor,” Violet said, curiously staring at her friend.
“Oh, no, it’s not that, although, I must admit, I wouldn’t mind, but I see quite clearly, you're taken."
"Jocelyn!" Violet hissed.
"Victor, I’ll have anyone…anyone just like you, I mean. Extremely handsome, tall, well built, rich would be nice, but not a deal-breaker and an all-round great guy, which I’ve heard tell and can see for myself now you are all of those things. I’ll take a brother or cousin or even an uncle. Beggars can’t be choosers,” Jocelyn boldly said.
Victor laughed again, this time relieved. “Sorry, Mama had only me, but I do have friends who may fill some if not all of your requirements.”
“Do you?” Jocelyn said, excitedly. “Talk to me, baby.”
“I was actually thinking I should have a party this summer,” Victor said. “We can take that opportunity to introduce you and all of Violet’s single friends to my single friends. Can you wait until the fourth of July?”
“No,” Jocelyn said.
“Jocelyn!” Violet scolded as Victor again laughed.
“Oh, all right. If I must,” Jocelyn replied. She stepped even closer to him and grabbing his arm. Then she stared him straight in the eyes and whispered, “Do not disappoint Cleopatra or it’ll be off with your head.”
“That’s the Queen of Hearts, Jocelyn, “Violet reminded her.
“Whatever,"Jocelyn said. "You bring the guys, I’ll bring the ladies. Just promise to keep the best one for me.”
“I’ll do that,” Victor said. “So, now that that’s settled, will you ladies join me on the Ferris wheel?” Victor asked.
“I should go clean up that booth. I’ve put it off long enough,” Violet grumbled.
“Oh, I can do that for you. I’ll grab a couple of the girls and it'll be done before you get off the first ride,” Jocelyn said. “Victor, take her away and give her a dose of fun. She doesn’t have a clue how to do that anymore, but I think you do. Go on!”
She shoved them away and went off in the opposite direction, a definite happy hop in her step now.
“I like her!” Victor said.
“Of course you do. She’s wonderful,” Violet said frowning slightly.
“What’s with that face?” he asked. “Afraid of heights?”
“Huh?” she said.
“Don’t like the Ferris wheel?”
She shook her head and smacked him on the arm.
“Hey! What was that for?”
“Victor, you know what you just did, don’t you?”
“Uh…saved you a bunch of tedious clean up work?” he said.
“No, you silly man! I’m talking about the party,” Violet said.
“I think it’ll be fun,” he replied. “A barbecue with all of our friends. I’ll bet anything they get along great.”
She rolled her eyes. “That’s my point. You just promised Jocelyn…”
“A fun time. What’s wrong with that?”
“If it was only that, Victor. But you promised her so much more,” Violet anxiously said.
He made a face and shook his head. “You’ve lost me.”
“You don’t know Jocelyn.”
“No, but I’m hoping to do that at the party,” he replied.
“She looks tough, acts tough, talks tough, but…”
“She’s soft as a kitten?” Victor suggested. “Nothing wrong with that.”
“There is. She’s…damaged,” Violet said.
“Most of us are, Violet, in one way or another,” Victor replied. “So?”
“So? Oh, Victor, if you only knew,” she said, fretfully.
“Then tell me.”
She stared at him for a minute debating what to say. “Jocelyn’s had a tough life…a rough love life. It’s left her not so much with a broken heart but…also one that’s been stomped on and torn to pieces, shredded and shattered, used and abused.”
“Not much different than a lot of us,” Victor gently replied.
“But she’s my best friend, Victor. I love her like a sister and I don't want to see her get hurt, not again."
"I can't promise anything like rainbows and ponies, but..."
"You as much as promised to get her a man which to her means a husband, love, marriage, kids and everything that goes with the fantasy and I’m not so sure she can handle another disastrous relationship.”
“Then, it’s a good thing it won’t be disastrous,” he replied, smiling, taking her hand and hooking it into the crook of his arm as he led her to the Ferris wheel. “I know exactly who’ll be great for her. I just hope she likes jazz.”
Violet’s jaw dropped. “She loves jazz!”
“Does she like musicians too?”
Violet gulped and shook her head. “Please, not another guitarist,” she moaned. "It'll kill her."
“No, Marcus plays the trumpet.”
“Marcus? And…and is he a nice guy?” Violet asked, anxiously gripping his hand.
“The best,” Victor said.
“How long have you known him?”
Victor grinned. “Since kindergarten, maybe even before that. Our mothers were close friends so Marcus and I grew up together.”
“Wow,” she said. “And…um…what can you tell me about him?”
Victor laughed and waited to be seated on the Ferris wheel bench and locked into place before replying. “I think I could tell you his whole life story, but you won’t be satisfied until you know him personally... before you allow Jocelyn to meet him.”
Violet made a face. “Maybe. What’s your point?”
“My point,” he said, chuckling and putting his arm about her shoulders as they rose up into the air. “Is you should meet him yourself.”
“Me?” Violet said. “I don’t want to date him!”
“I know that, silly girl,” he said. “But you would know better than I if he and Jocelyn would get along.”
“He lives in the city, not far from my own apartment. We can make a whole day of it, or even a weekend. You said you’ve never been to New York.”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Well, we can do the tourist thing. Plays, attractions, restaurants, shopping, the works. We can stay at the Waldorf Astoria in the kind of suite I used to get for me and my mother on my birthday.”
Violet looked at him funny. “Why in the world would you get a suite at a fancy hotel when you have an apartment there?”
“It was our thing. The way we celebrated my birthday, or as I like to call it, the day she became my mother. I made it all about her. She loved it, but I think I loved it more.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll laugh at me if I tell you,” he said.
He smiled, stared at her, then he shook his head. “No, I don’t think you would. You’d understand because you’re a mother, too. A child is born and it’s the mother who should get the praise, but she rarely does except on the actual day the baby comes into the world. Well, I didn’t think that right. I always gave my mother a birthday present on my birthday. Crazy, huh?”
Violet shook her head. “No, it’s sweet.”
“When I was little it was only a candy bar or a flower or something silly I’d made for her. She treasured each present though.”
“Of course, she did. It came from her precious boy,” Violet exclaimed.
“I became more creative as I grew up though. Little gifts became more extravagant until…” He paused here. “Look at the sunset.”
“Ooh! That is nice.”
They watched it for several minutes while the Ferris wheel went round and round until the sun went down completely and darkness started to fall.
“Violet, would you do me a great favor?”
“Okay,” she said. “What?”
“Will you be my mama for my birthday weekend?”
Violet's jaw dropped to the ground.