Violet felt like an idiot standing in the spotlight wearing a way-too-fancy dress. “Well?” she said.
“Well, what?” Victor replied.
“How do you like the dress, of course?” she snapped.
Victor shook his head. “I can’t tell yet. Show me.”
“Show you what? What am I supposed to do?” she said, wringing her hands.
Victor grinned. “Come on, you must have seen a fashion show once in your life. You gotta take a little turn on the catwalk.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Violet said.
“No, I’m not.”
“I can’t do that.”
“You can and you will. Strut your stuff, Babe. Show me your…your inner Cindy Crawford,” Victor said.
“Inner Cindy Crawford?” Violet repeated.
“Tereza, put on some appropriate strutting music. You remember the kind my mother liked and come show Violet how to do this,” Victor said loud enough so his voice cut through the curtain behind which the young woman stood.
Obediently ,Tereza came out, walked to a hidden stereo, turned the music on then sashayed to one end of the dais hand on hip, then to the other end. She gave Victor a sultry glance over the shoulder and finally struck a haughty pose center stage.
“Perfect, Tereza, thank you. Now you, Violet,” Victor said.
Violet burst out in hysterical giggles. “I can’t do that!”
“If Mama could then you can, too,” Victor said.
“You seriously want me to believe your mother paraded around like a super model?”
“Tereza, did she or did she not enjoy this?” Victor said.
“Mizz Romanoff , oh yes, she love dis pussy cat walking,” Tereza said going to Violet and showing her how to strut properly to the pulsating music. Violet, all rosy cheeked, giggled throughout.
“So, now do you like the dress?” Violet said after she got a hold of herself.
“Hmm, I’ll think about it while you try the next one,” he said, taking out his cell phone and discretely taking a picture of Violet.
“You made me do all that and now you’re not going to tell me if you like the dress?” she shrieked.
“I’ve got nothing to compare it with yet. I’ll tell you when I see one I really like. That’s how…”
“Mama did it, yes I know,” Violet grumbled moving to the curtain and disappearing behind it, but not before she stuck her tongue out at him.
After she modeled the fifth dress, Violet stood akimbo glaring at Victor. “Well? How about this one?”
“I reserve judgement until the end,” he retorted waving her off. “Next!”
“How many more do I have to try on before he picks one?” she muttered, irritably.
“One?” Tereza said. “He buy many dress.”
“He better not,” Violet muttered as she struggled to get into a plum colored dress. “Uh, I don’t think this fits. It’s way too…”
“Ooh, so sexy!” Tereza said.
“It's too tight , too short, too low cut and…oh, I can’t wear this. Lacey Delecriox perhaps but certainly not me!”
“Lacey she friend, yes?” Tereza said, tugging the zipper up before Violet could shimmy out of it again.
“No, she is not a friend and put that zipper down this instant. Victor cannot see me like this,” Violet protested.
“Oh, no he must not! I have swim suits more modest than this thing. Get me out of this now, Tereza!” Violet shrieked trying in vain to lower the zipper herself, but she couldn't reach it.
“No, I get fired if you don’t show Mr. Romanoff.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Of course you won’t get fired.”
“Please, Mizz Violet, no make me fired,” Tereza pleaded.
Violet blinked stupidly at the young woman’s earnest face. “You can’t be serious.”
Tereza’s eyes welled with tears and Violet gave up. “No, Tereza, I won’t let you get fired, but could I have a…a shawl to wear with this. It’s just too much me and not enough dress.”
Tereza looked utterly confused. “What dis shall?”
“A shawl, a shawl!” Violet said making the motion of tossing something over her shoulders and covering up her overly exposed breasts. “A Pashmina? “
Tereza merely shrugged, shook her head and pushed Violet through the curtain. Once out in the open Violet didn’t know what to do except to use the curtain to hide behind.
“Violet, what in the world are you doing?” Victor said. “Let go of that and...”
Tereza had pulled the curtain away from Violet and pushed her to the center of the dais where she couldn’t hide.
His jaw dropped and Violet blushed scarlet.
He stared for several stunned seconds, then gulped. “Yes,” he mumbled.
“What do you mean yes?” Violet said, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Nothing…just…I like that one,” he said, his eyes following every curve and his hands surreptitiously snapping photo after photo.
“I am not wearing this,” she adamantly said. “It’s too…I have nowhere to wear this in Catalpa Valley, as you well know so…It’s not for me.”
She then turned and swiftly went back behind the curtain. Victor only then remembered to breathe.
“That may be, but it’s definitely for me. I’ll find some place for you to wear that, or die trying.”
“Victor, I cannot tell you how much I love this dress!” Violet gushed swinging the skirt of the floaty pale blue chiffon dress she picked out of all the ones she tried.
“I’m glad you like it,” he replied, patting the hand she tucked securely around his arm. “You look beautiful.”
“Thank you. But do you know what it reminds me of?” Violet asked.
“I’m sure you’re going to tell me” he said as they slowly walked down the street.
“I might embarrass you in the middle of New York City with all these people around.”
“Actually, short of a man threatening to jump off a building, no one will notice.”
“Well, then, here goes!” she said, then started singing. “I feel pretty, oh, so pretty, I feel pretty and witty and gay! And I pity any girl who isn’t me today!”
Victor laughed after she was done. “And all this because you like the dress?”
“When the dress fits, Victor. Only when the dress fits,” she said, going on tiptoe and planting a dainty kiss on his lips.
“Does that work for shoes too?” he asked.
“It might,” she replied. “Why do you ask?”
Victor smiled. “You’ll see, my love. You’ll see,” he said.