Violet paced in front of the hospital bed with Victor watching her like a Ping-Pong ball in play.
“Violet, Carmencita will be fine. Can you please come sit? I’m exhausted just watching you,” he said.
She glared at him hands akimbo. “How can you be so calm? They’re cutting her open!”
“I know, Sweetie, but your handsome Dr. Thomas…”
“He’s not my handsome anything!” she snapped.
“All right then, Carmencita’s doctor was top of his class at John Hopkins.”
Violet gave him a blank look. “Um…is that good?”
Victor chuckled. “Yes, very good. He’s the best Catalpa Valley has to offer. I made sure of that before he even touched our baby. Now will you relax?”
“Relax? No, but I’ll sit down,” she replied, plopping onto the chair beside Victor.
He laughed and placed his arm around her shoulders. “She’ll be fine. I promise,” he said, kissing her temple.
She nodded and let her head rest on his shoulder. “I’m gonna hold you to that.”
They sat in a comfortable silence for several minutes before Victor, remembering their time in the pool and his second proposal, said, “Violet…”
“Don’t do it. Don’t say it. Don’t even think it. Just don’t,” Richard hissed in his ear.
Violet stiffened under his arm which told Victor his inner voice was right. She wasn’t ready to talk about it. After some quick thinking he switched direction. “You know what date it is?”
“Date? Uh… July…twenty-something. Why?” Violet asked.
“You know what comes after July?”
“Do I look like an idiot?” she snapped pulling away from him.
“No, not an idiot, but a forgetful lady, yes,” he said smirking.
“What did I forget this time?”
“You promised me something very special…for a certain weekend… in August … remember yet?”
She stared at him nonplussed. Was he really talking about that at a time like this when she was beside herself with worry about the baby?
“He’s simply trying to distract your thoughts from that, Dear,” Heidi explained. “It is preferable to the other discussion you might have, isn’t it? The one which started in the pool?”
Violet couldn’t disagree with that. She wished to avoid that talk like the plague. “Uh…your birthday weekend, right?”
“Bingo!” he said, happily. “You haven’t changed your mind I hope. I’ve been looking forward to it.”
“Uh…” That was exactly what she was planning on doing, finding a way out of it.
“Violet, please,” he pleaded. “You know how much this means to me. Don’t say no.”
“You’ve already said no about the other thing, Violet dear. You can’t deny him this, too,” Heidi said.
“I think she should,” Richard said. “Say no, I mean.”
Heidi stared wide eyed. “Richard, why would you say that?”
“You don’t know Violet like I do. Going away for a weekend with a man she’s not married to? Yeah, that’s commonplace for most women, but not my sweet naïve Violet. She doesn’t have a clue what that means to a man and what it’ll mean for her. She’s not ready for that. You know that as well as I do!”
Heidi narrowed her gaze and looked at her son’s anxious face and Violet’s equally nervous expression. “Violet isn’t as naïve as you think, Richard. She knows what might be expected and she needs Victor’s assurance that nothing funny will go on. You might want to nudge him in that direction.”
“Yeah, right!” Richard said. “Like that’ll change anything? He’ll say, yeah, yeah, nothing funny, but getting her in bed will be the only thing on his mind.”
“Give Victor a bit of credit, Richard,” Heidi snapped. “Has he ever pressed his considerable advantage? And for goodness sake! He’s asked her to marry him twice. Does that indicate his desire for only a roll in the hay? He could get that anywhere!”
“Yeah, but he knows she’s the kind of girl who’ll marry a guy just cuz she slept with him once,” he shouted.
Heidi’s eyes widen again. “And he knows this how?”
Richard suddenly looked like a deer frozen in the headlights of a Mack truck.
“She’s…uh… old fashioned. He knows that and… he’ll…uh… get his way before… before she’s ready for it and… and that’s no good,” he stammered.
“Is it?” Heidi said, watching him suspiciously. “You know, I never can tell whose side you’re on.”
“On Violet’s side, of course,” he replied, adamantly.
“I’m not very certain of that,” Heidi said.
“Victor, I don’t think I should…” Violet began to say.
“But you promised,” Victor said, unable to prevent himself from sounding like a whiney ten year old boy.
“I know and I’m sorry but…” Violet said, nervously wringing her hands in her lap.
“She thinks you’re expecting to sleep with her. Better tell her you won’t do anything if you want her to go,” Richard reluctantly whispered to Victor, under the watchful eye of his ghost mentor. “Especially not propose to her again!”
“Violet, do you think I mean for this to be…a romantic weekend?” Victor said.
“Because it’s not intended to be at all. I explained it solely to replicate my birthday weekends with my mother. Believe me, those were hardly romantic. I loved my mama more than anything, but not like that!”
Violet stole a sideways glance and swiftly looked away, unconvinced.
“Violet, look at me,” Victor said. When she continued to look down at her shoes he lifted her chin up with two long fingers. “I think you know how I feel. I’ve not been adept at hiding it. Heck, I’ve not even tried, but you’ve made it quite clear you’re not ready and I won’t push you anymore. I promise.”
The skeptical expression on her face made him smile. “I know what you’re thinking. And what’s that coming from a lawyer?”
Violet giggled and she nodded.
“I swear it,” he said, taking her hand in his and holding it tightly, his expression serious. “On my mother’s grave I swear it, and you know how much I love my mama.”
She stared at him for a minute, a funny feeling stirring in her chest. If she didn’t know better--perhaps she didn’t anymore—she might think it was regret or disappointment. Just as she opened her mouth, a nurse and an orderly wheeled in Carmencita.
“Oh, my baby!” Violet said jumping up.
“She’s still very groggy and may actually sleep a bit longer,” the orderly said.
“Dr. Thomas thought it would be better if she saw her mommy and daddy when she did finally wake up. He will be in shortly to talk to you,” the nurse said, smiling at them. They settled the baby into her bed, fussing with her blankets for a minute then left.
“Oh, she looks smaller somehow,” Violet said, gently caressing Carmencita’s soft cheek.
Victor chuckled and put an arm around Violet’s waist. “Pretty sure she’s the same size, Honey,” he whispered in her ear while looking down at the sleeping child. “But she does look very little and fragile.”
“See? It’s not just me,” she said, playfully poking him in the side.
“No, it’s not just you. She’s our little angel and we adore her. We want her safe and sound and she will be. We’ll have her home soon enough,” Victor said. “And after that happens and everything’s back to normal, will you make my birthday special? Will you come with me to the city?”
Violet looked away from the baby and stared up at him. “Special like your mama did, right? Nothing…funny,” she said anxiously.
“You mean I can’t make you laugh the entire weekend?” he said, pouting.
She giggled. “You know what I mean, Victor. You have to treat me as if I really was your mother and nothing more. Can you do that?”
He grinned and nodded. “As Mama is my witness,” he said looking up at the ceiling. “You hear that Mama? Violet will be you for my birthday. Isn’t that great?”
“Silly man!” Violet said and the next second she was enfolded in his arms and thoroughly kissed.
“Victor! What did I just say?” she shrieked.
“It’s not my birthday yet, now is it?” he replied.
“More lawyer double speak?” she said.
“Something like,” he said and he kissed her again.
Unknown to either Victor or Violet they were being watched. Catherine, Victor’s ex-wife, stood just outside the partly closed over door listening. She only heard the tail end of their talk, but it was enough to make her smile. She crossed her fingers as she turned away.
“Please, God, let this be the one for Victor. Let him be in love and please don’t let this girl hurt him. He’s still smarting from me,” she whispered to herself and swiftly stepped down the hall and out of sight.