“I’m here, Sweetie,” Violet said going to the huge hospital bed and taking Carmencita into her arms. She looked over the little girl’s head to Victor and added in a whisper, “She’s hallucinating. She thinks I’m her mother.”
“She might think you truly are at this point,” he replied."Besides Flora, you're the only mother she's known.
“You don't think she’s forgotten her mother?”Violet shrieked.
“I’m afraid so. She’s so very little.”
Violet closed her eyes and held the child tighter. What a horrible thing, to be forgotten by your child! “The fever's down at least," she said then pointed to the tote bag she dropped onto a chair. “I brought you clothes so you can change.”
“Thank you. I see you found your dresses,” he said taking the bag and heading into the adjacent bathroom.
“And why did you have dresses in your house for me?” she asked, still holding the baby.
He smiled, gave no reply and closed the door.
Violet stared at the closed door for a second annoyed as anything. She then kissed the baby and she started singing a song she’d heard Lucia sing. “De colores, se visten los campos en la primavera…”
“If you sang to all my patients they’d heal in no time.”
Violet jumped and turned to see a white-coated and rather handsome doctor standing in the doorway. She wondered at his staring at her as though she was a ghost, though.
“Dear God! Violet Norton,” he said at last, coming further into the room and grinning broadly. “I haven’t seen you since…since high school. My God, you haven’t changed at all…like time froze for you.”
She blinked several times, but she still couldn’t remember this person. “I’m sorry. Do I know you?”
“Robert Thomas…everyone used to call me Robbie back then,” he said. At the confused look on her face he added, “I was captain of the football team so I had a front row seat to the Richie and Violet show. Never heard a guy go on and on about a girl so much. He made us believe you were made of gold. Did you end up getting married?”
“Yes, we did,” she said.
“And this is your little girl. She’s lovely. So, where is Richie? Love to see him again.”
“Uh…Richard died,” Violet said.
“Oh,” Robert said, a crease between his eyebrows. “I’m terribly sorry.”
Victor stepped out of the bathroom just then, dressed and curious. “Hello,” he said, coming to stand beside Violet, an arm possessively around her as he extended the other hand to the doctor. “I’m Victor Romanoff.”
“How do you do?” Dr. Thomas said, looking at him carefully. “Are you the Romanoff of the new oncology wing?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Well, great to meet you. I’m Doctor Robert Thomas and I’ll be taking care of…” He checked the chart. “Carmen Menendez? Is that right?”
“Yes, we didn’t get her name changed yet…to add the Romanoff,” Victor said, giving Violet a slight squeeze, a signal to play along.
“I see, a new adoptee. How nice…except for this bit of bother, of course, but that’s what I’m here for, to fix up your precious little girl. I’ve scheduled the procedure for tonight.”
“What procedure?” Violet said.
“The appendectomy, of course. Your husband had it diagnosed correctly,” Dr. Thomas said, grinning. “But I wouldn’t wonder why, knowing the hospital administrator is his ex-wife.”
Violet opened her mouth, but Victor squeezed her hand—a warning-- and he said, “Thank you, Doctor.”
“They’ll be coming in soon to prep your little cutie. It was great seeing you again, Violet. Mr. Romanoff is a very lucky man,” he said and he left.
"You know him?" Victor said, once the door was closed. "You and the doctor are friends?”
“Friends? No,” she said, shaking her head.
“But he said it was nice seeing you again, so he must know you from somewhere.”
“Oh, that. He remembers me from high school. He was on the football team with Richard. He must have been friends with him, but I don’t really remember him,” she said frowning slightly. “Never mind that. Why did you tell him we were married and that she’s our daughter?”
“I didn’t tell him anything of the sort,” he replied. "Did you want a date with the handsome doctor?"
“Oh, stop it! You made him think it even if you didn't come right out and say it,” she replied.
“Yes. If I hadn’t they would not allow us to be here with her. Do you wish to leave her alone? As it is, I’m rather certain we won’t be allowed to stay overnight.”
“But she’s just a baby! We can't leave her alone. She'll be frightened.”
“And rules are rules…unless you get them to overlook them. I’ve made a phone call to my ex-wife. We’ll see, okay?” Victor said.
“I forgot your wife worked here. What did Dr. Thomas mean about the oncology wing?”
“Ex-wife,” he said, ignoring the second part of her question and pulling his cell out of his pocket. “I should call The Trents and kids and let them know what’s going on. Will you be all right by yourself for a while?”
“Of course,” she said, cuddling the sleepy baby.
Victor smiled and caressed her cheek. “You’re a perfect mommy.”
He slipped out of the room and at the end of the corridor he saw a welcome, yet potentially unpleasant sight. His ex-wife was marching at a fast clip toward him on her spiked Pradas.
“Hello, Catherine,” he said once they met in the middle.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Nice to see you, too,” he retorted.
“I’m too busy for niceties. What do you want?”
“I’m here with a friend and her baby who needs an operation. We want to spend the night with the baby.”
"We?"she said grinning maliciously.
“Either way, it’s against hospital policy, Victor. Nothing I can do about it,” she answered. “Who is this friend? You’re chippy from the charity gala?”
“Stop calling her that,” he said through clenched teeth.
“You didn’t say she had kids,” Catherine said, crossing her arms over her chest.
“And why should I?”
“Well, it explains why you don’t care about your own sons, but you'll do handstands for any other brat who crosses your path.”
He groaned. “Again with this?”
“Do you know what your sons are up to? No, you don’t and you don’t care!” she snapped.
“Simon called just the other day, thrilled with his work and I just saw Ronnie on Sunday, for your information,” he said. “He took me to a Mets game. We had a great time. He was fine. More than fine he was in great shape, in a wonderful mood and happy as a lark. Do you know why?”
“Why you went to a Mets game? No clue. They suck!”
“Why he’s happy, Catherine. Because he hates school and he likes being away from it. Don’t force Wharton down his throat anymore. He’s ill suited to it. You should have allowed him to go to that music school he so desperately wanted to go.”
“He just doesn’t apply himself and you encourage him to fail,” she said.
“Oh, now we’re flailing at invisible bats, aren’t we?” he retorted, losing his patience. “Catherine…I’m not getting into this with you now. Are you going to help me…my friend? You can make an exception, you know.”
“Why should I?”
“Oh, I don’t know…to act human for a change? To pretend you care?” he said. “No, forget it. I’ll do as I always do. I’ll go over your head. I’m sure they could use another linear accelerator in the oncology wing.”
“Money burning a hole in your pocket?”
“No, I’d just prefer to have it do something good in this world,” he said turning away. “Say hello to Andy for me.”
“Do let me know how it works out for you and your chippy,” she countered.
“Like hell I will,” he muttered to himself as he punched the elevator button.
“Victor! Where have you been?” Violet said almost two hours later.
“I’m sorry. I had to meet with some people. Where’s the baby?” he said, staring at her empty bed.
“They’ve already taken her in…ten minutes ago,” Violet said, looking anxious and scared.
“Oh, Honey, I’m sorry,” he said, embracing her warmly. “I didn’t mean to be gone so long. Don’t worry, okay? She’ll be fine.”
She nodded. ”Who did you talk to? Your wife?”
“Ex-wife. Briefly, but she couldn’t help. Had to go over her head, but I did manage to get us permission to stay the night with Carmencita.” With the amount of money he’d pledged, he ought to be allowed to set up permanent camp in the director’s office if he had a mind to, but he wasn’t about to tell Violet this.
“That’s good,” she said fiercely. “Otherwise I would’ve had to whip out my exploding marzipan pineapple!”
Victor burst out laughing and hugged her tighter. “Well, why didn’t I think of that?”