♪ ♫… I fell in love with you the first time I looked into them-there eyes. You have a certain, cute way of flirtin’ with them-there eyes. They make me feel so happy. They make me feel so blue. I’m falling, no stalling, falling in a great big way for you. My heart is jumpin’. You started somethin’ with them-there eyes. You better watch out little brown eyes if you wise. They sparkle, those baubles, they get you in a lot of trouble. Ah, Mister, we're talking about those eyes…♩ ♬
The entire place erupted in applause, but none hooted louder than Victor who shot to his feet before Violet hit the last note, starting a standing ovation.
Violet bowed and laughed, then went to the microphone and said, “It’s a good thing you’re all too drunk to know any better. I’m not nearly as good as you think I am.” She turned and clapped for Jolene, who had been singing along and was the real star.
Victor went to the edge of the stage, held his arms out to Violet and she fell into them. He kissed her as her feet dangled in the air and she didn't mind at all.
“See?” he said. “I knew you loved me.”
“It’s just a song, Victor,” she whispered, looking at everyone who might be watching them. “Are you going to put me down or not?”
“Not,” he said and he kissed her again.
“Victor, please,” she said. “It’s bad enough you got me to sing. You don't have to kiss me in front of everybody. They must think I’m some sort of showoff.”
“They do not! They loved you.”
“They were just being polite and you know it. I can’t believe you got me to sing for you here. Jocelyn will be scandalized if I tell her.”
“She knows you sing well, surely.”
“Yes, but…well, I can hear her now, “Miss Lily-white singing a Billy Holiday song at a Jazz club in Harlem? That’ll be the day!” She’ll be both incredulous and outraged!” Violet said.
Victor laughed. “That does sound like Jocelyn, but it’s my birthday. It’s your job to humor me, so sing another one for me.”
“No way! You’re lucky I did that one. That was your present. Isn’t that enough?”
“Nope. Can never get enough of you and your lovely voice. You should know that by now,” he said, and he had been about to kiss her again, but a large hand on his shoulder forced him to put Violet down.
“You might want to wait for the honeymoon for that, Vic.”
“Waited long enough, thanks,” Victor said. “So how do you like my Violet, Marcus? Do you approve?”
“Victor, he can’t exactly tell you with me right here, can he?” Violet chastised.
“Sure I can. She’s sweeter than a Georgia peach,” Marcus said. “It’s about time, is all I can say. Now, can we prevail on the little lady to sing with Clarisse?”
Violet shook her head violently.
“Yes, she will,” Victor said.
“No, I won’t!”
“Yes, you will,” Victor replied.
“No, I won’t!” she shouted.
“Violet,” Marcus whispered in her ear. “You should know something about this man you’re going to marry. He never takes no for an answer and it’s his birthday, so…you know the score.”
With that said, Marcus, who was even larger and taller than Victor, put his large hands around her waist and with little effort hoisted her back up onto the stage.
“Yes, you will,” Victor said grinning from ear to ear. He then went back to his seat.
“Smart guy, your son,” Richard said, glaring at Victor.
“I know,” Heidi said, watching him suspiciously. “But why do you all of a sudden think so?”
“When Violet was a kid, she used to dream of being a singer. Not a famous singer like Toni Braxton or Whitney Houston, but a nobody singer in a club just like this. No big arena with thousands to please. Just a few people willing to listen to her. The closest she ever got was in the church choir…until now. He’s a dog-gone genius…the bastard.”
Heidi stared at him, her eyes wide in surprise. “But he didn’t know any of this.”
Richard scoffed. “He must have.”
“And how would he know her oldest and most cherished desire?”
“You tell me. Freddy must have told him or you,” Richard accused.
“Well, being this is the first time I’ve heard of it and Freddy doesn’t tell Victor anything at all about her. As a matter of fact, it’s been Victor who has been telling your brother-in-law about Violet, but only on occasion and nothing of consequence.”
Richard frowned. “Then how…so this is…coincidence?”
“Some say there are no coincidences in life,” Heidi mused as she watched Violet singing a sweet ballad alternating verses with Clarisse, then turning her gaze to her son’s face with its rapturous expression. “I do believe it is providence.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, you say it was—or perhaps still is—Violet’s fondest wish to have had the chance to sing in an intimate setting like this with only a few friends around to hear her,” Heidi said. “And it’s Victor’s birthday wish to have his… to have Violet, whom he adores, sing to him. It’s too perfect to be merely coincidence and just about right for fate to have had a hand in it, don’t you think?”
Richard sighed. ”Are you trying to tell me this is all in the grand scheme of things? That it’s supposed to be like this?”
Heidi didn’t answer, but the gentle smile on her face spoke volumes.
“So?” Victor whispered in Violet’s ear as they swayed gently to the music.
“So…what?” she replied.
“What do you think of Marcus?”
“Oh, I love him! He’s so talented!” she gushed. “And sweet and nice and obviously tone-deaf."
"What?" Victor pulling away to look into her face.
"He has to be to let me sing, putting the reputation of his amazing club at risk. And just to please a friend, too.”
Victor laughed and pulled her closer. “Not just any friend. Marcus is more like a brother to me. We grew up together,” he said. “But that's not what I meant. I was wondering what you thought of him as a potential boyfriend for Jocelyn.”
Violet stared up at him. “I totally forgot about that!”
“Doesn’t surprise me.”
“So…do you think he would like her?”
“Really?” she said, a slight crease forming on her brow.
“What’s with that face? Don’t think she’d like him?”
“No, I’m pretty certain she would fall head over heels and that’s what worries me.”
“Ah, playing the protective friend again. Sometimes, my love, you have to let them fall so someone can catch them. You know?” he said, pulling her a little closer.
“But that’s just it, Victor. I don’t want her falling cuz I’m too weak and little to do much more catching!”
He laughed, but sobered quickly. “Marcus is strong enough to catch her."
"Yes, I know but..."
"Okay, I won’t tell Marcus about her. We’ll let them meet on their own…at my Labor day party then we'll wait and see what happens. I’ll have to see if Brad and Eliza would like to come.”
“Oh, I’m not so sure they would,” Violet said.
“Why do you say that?”
“I heard her telling…oh, what was her name? Jack’s girlfriend with the red curly hair?”
“Yes, Winnie. Eliza said she hasn’t set foot outside the city limits for years. If you haven’t noticed Catalpa Valley isn’t within the city limits!”
He laughed again. “Well, then, we’ll have to do without them, won’t we? Just as long as I have you, Violet, I really don’t care who else comes.”
Oh, boy! Did that mean she would have to pretend to be engaged all through to the end of summer? Well, what did she expect? That this engagement would only last the night? She looked at the ring on her finger again and bit her lip. She could still feel her wedding band between her and Victor, like an annoying pebble under a picnic blanket which disallows you to fully relax.
“Yes, we’ll have to wait and see what happens,” she muttered.