They say man makes plans and God laughs at them. Such usually is the case, but Victor thought and hoped God would only laugh after he made those plans come true. These particular plans and wishes, after all, were no longer just his own. They involved several children. Surely, Victor prayed, God would listen to the wishes of children.
As Violet thought, Victor was easily persuaded to spend the evening with her, but he insisted she not do the cooking. He suggested the Mount Clair for he wished to have her sole attention for what could be the last evening they would have together in a very long time. Even though he loved her cooking, he wanted to spend every last second with her only thinking of him. He, on the other hand, had Peter’s sweet face and his innocent request on his mind.
“Violet,” he said, after they ordered dessert and they were alone again. He took her hand in his and stared into her glowing eyes. “I have something to tell you.”
Those eyes widened as if frightened and he could feel her pulse increase. “It’s bad news, at least for me.”
“Oh,” she said, now anxiously squeezing his hand. “What is it? The boys?”
“No, they’re fine,” he said. He then explained about the case and how he expected to be away for several weeks, perhaps months, probably with little time to come back home.
“Oh, dear!” she said.
“Unless I can convince the moron to plead out and take his punishment as he should, Jocelyn’s party will have to be postponed. Think she’ll kill me?” he asked.
“Oh, that,” she said, waving a dismissive hand. “She’ll understand. I wasn’t even thinking of that so much as the angel kids. They’ll be inconsolable. It’s not me they wish to see every Wednesday, you know.”
“I doubt that,” he said, secretly thankful that it was she who brought up the topic of the kids. “They love you.”
“And they adore you. You’re the closest thing to a father many of them have ever had,” she said, smiling. "It's wonderful of you to give them that."
He stared in astonishment. She was leading him exactly where he wanted to go. Could she be thinking as he was?
“I love them, too,” he admitted.
She laughed. “No kidding! I would never have guessed,” she said.
“That obvious, huh?” he said, a sheepish grin on his face.
“I should say,” she replied.
“It’s difficult not to,” he said.
“Indeed, nearly impossible,” Violet said.
“Violet, would you think me completely insane, nutzo crazy if I told you I was actually thinking of…of adopting a few of them?”
Her smile froze, then slowly slipped away as she gaped. She shook her head ever-so-slightly, opened her mouth, then shut it again. It took a while for the words to get out. “A few of them?” she shrieked, at last.
“Well, I can’t see separating siblings, so…”
“Peter spoke to you, didn’t he?”
“He did,” Victor said, a tiny crease forming on his brow. “Did he talk to you as well?”
“Yes, he told me of his secret wish a while back. He was so upset when you didn’t show up at the garden for the third time that he blurted out…everything. He told me he wants you to be his daddy.”
“And…what did you tell him?”
“That I thought it would be impossible. It broke my heart to tell him, but it’s better than… so that’s why you vanished with him today.”
“Yes,” Victor said, watching her closely. “But that’s not all he told me.”
“No? That’s all he said to me,” she said, suddenly not looking into his eyes, removing her hand from his and fiddling with the napkin on her lap.
“He wants me to adopt his brother and sister, too. He told me they would be good, as if I didn’t already know that,” he said, chuckling.
She looked up then and smiled. “He is such a sweetie. I’d take them all in a minute if I could,” she said, before she realized what she let slip.
“Would you?” Victor asked.
To her utter relief the waiter came just then with their desserts, and she eagerly started in on hers, if only to keep from getting herself further into trouble.
Victor picked up his fork and started on his own, all the while watching her. She was a funny lady, he thought. After all this time she still gets nervous around him, but that would be because she had just lied to him. When would she realize that she simply could not lie to him?
“May I?” he asked, indicating he’d like to try her cake.
She pushed her dish toward him and she stared at him as he broke off a piece of the cake and brought it to his mouth.
He shook his head. “They simply don’t know how to mess anything up in this place. That’s delicious. Would you like to try mine? It may not be chocolate, but it’s still good, almost as good as a Violet creation.”
“Silly man, I could never make this,” she said, visibly relaxing. She took a tiny bit of his dessert and smiled. “Wow, that is good.”
“We’ll have to go half-sies, then,” he said and he switched desserts.
Victor managed to steer the conversation onto neutral ground hoping Violet would revert back to her usual unaffected, cheerful and unconscious self. It worked and by the time the bill was paid and they were walking out to the car, she didn’t object when Victor suggested a stroll down to the water’s edge.
“Well, Milady,” he said as he tucked her hand around his arm before taking the path down to the lake. “Is it too much to ask that we start in earnest with our plans for Somerset Hill Manor?”
“Our plans?” she said with a start.
“You promised to help me, don’t you remember?” he said. "Pity the moon isn't out tonight. It would look nice sparkling on the water."
“Yes, it does," she replied, frowning slightly. "Uh, help with what?”
“Everything,” he replied. “But the first thing, of course, is the manor itself. We must find the best design, one which will suit our soon to be growing family and set the builders to create it for us.”
“What is with all this “us and we” stuff?” she said, pulling her arm free of his grasp and glaring up at him in the semidarkness. “It’s your house. What have I to do with it?”
“Everything, Milady,” he replied.
“Oh, stop calling me that, you silly man!” she snapped.
“All right, my love,” he said.
“That’s no better!”
He laughed and took her arm again as he led her up the path. “Violet, you must help me. You promised you would. Did I not tell you? Peter doesn’t just want me to be his daddy. He also wants you to be his mommy and that means you have to marry me.”
He took her stunned silence as opportunity enough to continue in this casual manner to explain in great detail his plans for their joined futures.
“Once we marry all will be right. With a wife and one who is, by everyone’s account, a perfect mother, we will have no trouble adopting. My home, while adequate for now, will not be for long. If we are to adopt Peter, Julian and Georgiana, they must have a home large enough to accommodate all their friends as well. Surely they will likely visit as often as they can be prevailed upon to do it.
“We must sit down, my dear, and seriously discuss how many bedrooms we are to have and how we wish the floor plan to be laid out. I can’t do this now with this new case, but it must be done and soon. Being I will be away for some time, I was hoping you can start this process for us. I’m hopeful to be able to come back home at least on weekends, but if not we can skype on those days where you wish to show me what you found. Otherwise, the phone should do, unless you wish to see my face as much as I would take pleasure in seeing yours.”
They reached the car and Victor opened the door for her. She stared up at him and opened her mouth to speak, yet not a sound came out. With not a word of protest, all Victor could think of doing was to kiss her, and so he did.
When Violet came to her senses, at least enough to know she should push him away, she did.
“You’re insane!” she shouted.
“You’re insane!” she shouted.
“Ah, well, I thought you’d say as much,” he said, caressing her cheek with one hand while the other wrapped around her waist, pulling her closer. “Many thought Einstein quite mad. I’ll be in good company, but you know what I’ll have that Einstein never did? A beautiful wife, three adorable children and a huge, wonderful Tudor home up on Somerset Hill.”
Victor helped the stunned-into-silence Violet into the car, buckling her up and then drove her home. He walked her to her front door and even opened it for her and still she said not one word.
“I’ll call you tomorrow, although I can’t say when,” Victor said. “I’ll miss you terribly, my love.”
Her lack of protest when he kissed her again told him he could assume they were now rightfully engaged.
He could leave Catalpa Valley overjoyed.