As it is universally known, that the best laid plans often go awry, and so were the summer plans Victor had made.
An explosive case involving a prominent New Jersey businessman and the defrauding of hundreds of investors was suddenly thrown in Victor’s face. Although he wasn’t to be first chair on this case—the semi- incompetent nephew of the law firm’s founder would be--, his expertise was vastly needed and unfortunately, it would take far more time than he liked.
So much for summer plans! Jocelyn’s party would have to be postponed until the case was over.
Victor was not happy. He went to the garden to break the news to Violet. The next day he was to go into the city for he didn’t know how long. He didn’t even know if he would have a stray weekend to come back. No, he was not at all happy.
Victor found Violet with the angel kids as it was their usual day. They surrounded a pretty patch of pansy lined soil freshly planted with tiny cabbage, broccoli and green bean seedlings.
As soon as Peter saw Victor—he was always the first one to spot him because he was always on the lookout for him!-- he let out a delighted shriek and ran to him, jumping into his arms.
“Peter! Where are you…oh,” Violet said, witnessing Victor picking up the boy and hugging him as any loving father would. That was when she recalled she had never told Victor of Peter’s secret wish. She really would have to, perhaps tonight. Surely, she thought to herself with a smile, Victor could be persuaded to come over for dinner. She could even bribe him with the promise of his favorite beef Stroganoff. She giggled at the thought.
“I think Ms. Violet is in love with Mr.Victor,” Maria whispered in Spanish to her older sister. “Maybe they’ll get married soon and maybe they’ll adopt our family.”
“Hush, that is not for us to know or talk about,” Lucia replied sternly. “It is very unlikely they will adopt even one child even if they do marry, so there is no use wishing for what cannot be. We want to stay together and no one, not even Ms. Violet and Mr.Victor, will want four children at one time. We’re all too old to adopt anyway… except for Carmencita. Just don’t wish for it, Maria. It is better that way.”
Maria, however, was not giving up on that dream, nor was she the only one whose thoughts turned to a happily-ever-after ending with Violet and Victor as parents. Peter, for one, had not given up on his dream despite Violet’s warning.
“What a reception!” Victor said, hugging the little boy. “I’m starting to think you kinda like me, Peter.”
“No, I don’t like you. I wuv you,” Peter said.
“Aww, I love you, too,” Victor said.
“Victor, can I tell ya sompin?” Peter said.
“Sure,” Victor said as he walked toward the rest of the group.
“It’s a secret,” Peter said, behind his small hand.
“Mm, sounds serious. Okay,” Victor said, turning away from the others and going down the winding path edged in willow branches which were twisted together to form an intricate living fence. At the end of this path, there was a wrought iron seat in the shape of a butterfly and this is where he sat with Peter on his lap.
“So, what is this secret you want to tell me?” Victor asked.
“I want you ‘dopt me and Julian and Georgie, too,” Peter said, his blue eyes huge in his little face.
Stunned, Victor stared at him, his own heart swelling. “You…you like me that much?”
“Uh-huh ,” Peter replied, smiling. “I want you ta be my daddy and I want Violet for my new mommy.”
“But Peter, Violet and I are not married.”
“So, get married. Then we can be a family. We’ll be good kids. Promise!”
“I know you are, but…it’s not so easy, Peter.”
Victor sighed as he stared into those huge innocent eyes. Hadn’t he asked himself the same thing a million times? “I love Violet, Peter, but she isn’t ready to marry me. She’s still very sad about her husband and she’s not looking for a new one.”
“My mommy died, too, but I still wanna nudder mommy. I like Ms.Violet. She’s so nice,” Peter said.
“Yes, she is, but it’s not been a year yet since her husband died. It takes some people, like Ms. Violet, much longer than others to stop being sad,” Victor gently explained.
“She doesn’t look sad to me,” Peter said, frowning.
“It’s a different kind of sad. This kind she keeps deep inside, so she doesn’t show it often, but believe me, Peter, she still misses her husband very much and that makes her sad,” Victor said, his thoughts going a mile-a minute.
“Can’t you try ta make her happy so she can marry you?”
“I have been trying, very much so, almost for five months now,” Victor said.
Peter’s eye widened. “That’s a long time!” he said.
Tell me about it, Victor thought to himself. “It may be a long time for you and me, but not for her. She was married for a long time, more than twenty years and she loved Richard very, very much. She may never be able to love another person so much.”
“Really?” Peter said, looking distressed.
“Yes,” Victor said, feeling much like Peter looked. He absently rubbed the little boy’s back as his thoughts turned to actually adopting him and his sibling. He would love being a father to little kids again. He knew it, but could he without a wife? He so wanted Violet, but what if that never happened? Would he simply stop dreaming of having a family? Could he be a good father this time around?
It became apparent Peter was thinking along the same line.
“Maybe you can ‘dopt us first ,” he said.
Victor stared at him. “But you deserve a mommy as a well as a daddy,” he said. “Peter, I think we just have to wait until Violet is no longer sad and then we’ll see if she would like to marry me. She might not like me enough, you know.”
“Yeah, she does!” Peter said, almost indignant.
Victor laughed and kissed the top of his blond head. “I wish I could be so sure. Tell you what, Peter. I’ll try to get Violet to marry me, but it could take a while.”
“How long? A week?”
Victor sighed again. “I wish. It could be many more months,” he said, and he watched Peter’s face fall. “Now don’t be sad, but I’m not sure I can adopt you at all, Peter. Who would take care of you when I have to work?”
“Ms. Violet can babysit,” Peter said.
Victor laughed. “You’ve got all the answers, don’t you? Okay, how’s this? If Ms. Violet still doesn’t want to marry me by the end of the year, I’ll see if I can adopt you by myself.”
“And Julian and Georgie, too?” Peter asked.
“Of course, you’re a package deal,” Victor said, and he was instantly hugged about the neck.
“Dat’s great! Julian and Georgie are gonna be so happy when I tell ‘em,” Peter shouted.
“No, Peter, you can’t tell anyone, okay? Not even your brother and sister. This has to be a big secret. I don’t know if I will be able to adopt you without a wife. Three kids for a man without a wife…they might not like it, so, we’ll have to wait and see. You understand, right?”
“Uh…no,” he said, his features showing his confusion.
“Reverend and Mrs. Trent may not think it’s a good idea, because I’ve never had to take care of kids all by myself,” Victor said.
“You can learn,” Peter said, nodding his head.
“I suppose I can,” Victor replied, chuckling and standing up. “Let’s see what happens with Ms. Violet first, okay? I really would like a wife before I adopt some kids. It’s just better that way, I think.”
“Okay,” Peter reluctantly said. “Try to hurry.”
“Yes, sir!” Victor said, as they came out of the path.
“Where did you go?” Kelly said, staring at them in wonder.
“Just having a little chat,” Victor replied, side-stepping any more inquiries by quickly adding, “So, what are we up to today?”
Although he appeared as attentive as ever to all the kids while they worked the soil, planting, watering and weeding, Victor made an extra effort to get some extra time with Peter’s siblings. After all, he reasoned, if he really was serious about adopting them, he should get to know them as well as he had done with Peter. It didn’t take long for him to see that they appeared to like him just as much as Peter did. He had never noticed it before.
The question remained, could he be a good father to them?
Violet seemed to answer that when she smiled at him and whispered, “You know, this may be a first.”
“What?” he asked.
“A father of the year award given to a man who isn't even trying for it and who isn’t the father of any of the voters,” she said, grinning impishly at him. “Mark my words, Mr, Romanoff. You’ll be getting that award come Father’s day if you keep this up.”