|Queen of the world|
Victor frowned as he watched Violet gripping the phone to her ear long after he heard the distinct click of an end to the call. She didn’t look much happier than he felt.
“You’re going to Florida for Thanksgiving?” he said.
“What?” she said, distracted.
“You won’t be home,” he said, getting up and putting his empty dish in the sink.
“Of course not. Unless you’ve changed your mind about going into the city. I can bake you a cake and…”
“No, I meant…” He stopped and smiled. “Sophie likes to tease you, I see.”
“Yes, she does. Everyone does. I’m easy to tease I guess,” she said with a rueful shrug. “So, are we going or not?”
“Yes, I’ll help you clean up and we can leave.” He rolled up his sleeves and filled the sink while Violet put away various items she used for making breakfast.
“You still haven’t told me what to pack,” she said.
“You don’t need anything.”
She turned around snapping the lid on a small container which held an onion. “What do you mean? We’re coming back tonight?”
“No, you promised a whole weekend and I’m holding you to it.”
“Then you expect me to wear the same clothes for two days?” she shrieked.
“Silly girl. I told you we’re going shopping so we’ll get everything you need there, clothes, shoes, jewelry…”
“Just like I did with Mama. I told you all this. You can’t possibly not remember that.”
She had forgotten, but she wasn’t about to tell him that. “I thought you were kidding,” she said, opening the refrigerator and putting everything back. “So, then…what should I wear? I don’t have fancy New York City clothes, you know; just old Catalpa Valley stuff.”
He chuckled. “What you’re wearing is fine.”
She balked. “This??? I won’t even wear this to the supermarket!”
“But we’re not going to the supermarket. We’ll be in the car for a couple of hours and then you’re going to the spa where they’ll promptly put you in a robe so it won’t matter what you’re wearing and from there we're going straight to Madam Clarise, my mother's favorite dress shop.”
“Oh, I forgot about the spa, too,” she mumbled biting down on her lip.
Victor shook his head. “One of these days you’re going to forget you know me.”
“If only,” she muttered at the precise moment Richard said the same thing. “Do I have to go to the spa? I feel so out of place in those places with all those snotty women.”
“Yes, you do. You’ll like it, I promise. I asked Jocelyn if she would come with you, but she had a date she wasn’t about to miss. She was very hopeful so…I also asked Laurie, but she declined as well. She said she was feeling crampy which I didn’t know meant…”
“Crampy? Oh, that’s not good!” Violet said, suddenly anxious. “She’s not close enough to her due date for labor pains. It could be trouble. Did she say she went to the doctor?”
“She did and she’s now on complete bed rest,” he replied, drying his hands on the towel.
“Oh, she’ll need help then. I should stay. Those kids won’t take care of themselves, you know, and Freddy’s no help. He’s practically a kid too.”
“I hired someone to help her out.”
“You…you did? Who?”
“Remember the waitress at the diner?”
“Yep, same one. She’ll watch the kids and even cook and clean and any other things which need to be done, so Laurie can rest completely."
"I suppose you're paying Cathy's tuition for three full years, aren't you?"
He laughed. "Never you mind that. She was perfect. She told me she used to do it all the time with her little brothers and sisters while her parents worked the farm. She’s the oldest of six, did you know?”
“Of course I know!” Violet said indignantly. “You think I don’t know the people in my own town?”
“Pardon me,” he mumbled, hiding his grin. “So, we can go then.”
“No we can’t! I’m getting dressed first,” she huffed throwing the towel down on the counter and walking out of the kitchen. Victor followed.
“Need help?” he asked, innocently.
“Getting dressed???” she said glaring at him. She pointed a threatening finger at him. “No, I don’t. Sit! And don’t you dare move from that spot, if you wish to live another year.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” He allowed himself a chuckle only after she was out of earshot.
“Why doesn’t he get annoyed when she’s in a bad mood?” Richard asked. “I used to hide when she was bitchy like that.”
Heidi shook her head in wonder. “It’s a miracle you two lasted as long as you did,” she said. “Victor knows she never really is in a bad mood…not for long anyway. Didn’t you ever notice that? She might be irritable for a bit, but she’s a happy girl by nature. Besides, I think Victor likes to push her buttons just to get her riled up. She’s rather amusing that way.”
“Yeah, well…Did he really do all that stuff with you on his birthday?” Richard asked, his expression skeptical.
“Oh, yes, it was wonderful! Violet will love it,” Heidi said. “She’ll come back and whole new person.”
That was precisely what Richard was afraid of.
“Do I really have to stay here all by myself?” Violet whispered. She clung to his side and surreptitiously looked around the opulent lobby of the spa looking at the elaborately dressed and made up women walking about. She gulped. She was so out of her league here. She chose to wear one of the sundresses Victor had bought for her. It was stylish and very pretty on her, but still, she felt like a country mouse in a pit full of hungry kitties.
Victor hugged her tightly. “Yes, you do. Mama loved it and so will you. I’ll be back for you before you'll want to see me again.”
“I doubt that,” she muttered, fearfully clinging to him.
“Do you mean you’re going to miss me?” he teased.
“Guess I will,” she said, biting her bottom lip.
He stared into her scared little face and simply couldn't resist. He kissed her.
“Victor, you promised…”
“Yes, I forgot. I’m sorry,” he said releasing her just as the receptionist got off the phone, smiled and addressed him.
“Hello, Mr. Romanoff. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen you this time of year,” the woman said, her voice somewhere between simpering and sycophantic.
“Hello, Mona,” Victor said. “I want you to meet Violet Bennett. She is here for the same deal my mother used to get; the works.”
“Yes Sir,” she said. She waved her hand and an attendant dressed in a sparkling white coat immediately came toward them. "Kimberly will attend to you, Ms. Bennett." With that Violet was ushered away, but not before she cast a terrified, pleading look over her shoulder at Victor.
“I’ll see you soon, my Love,” he said smiling at her. Once she was out of sight he turned back to Mona. “Remember how I always said for you to treat my mother like a princess?”
“Yes, of course. You wish the same for this lady?”
“No, Mona. I want her treated like the Queen of the entire world, because that is precisely what she is to me. Understand?”
Mona blinked several times and then smiled. “Yes, Sir….Queen of the world. She's a very lucky woman.”
"No, Mona, I'm the one that's lucky," he said.
"No, Mona, I'm the one that's lucky," he said.