Violet smiled, her head resting on Victor’s shoulder. If the cab ride lasted any longer she knew she would fall asleep, but she wasn’t about to tell him that.
“Pleasantly so,” she instead replied.
“It’s been a long day for you,” he said, kissing the top of her head.
“And not for you?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Too short for me.”
“Too short?” she laughed looking up at him.
He touched her cheek. “It’s the best birthday I’ve ever had, so, of course, I don’t want it to end.”
“Did you really enjoy it that much?”
“What do you think?” he replied.
She laughed. “I think you liked it some. Um, I don’t remember, did I wish you a happy birthday yet?” she asked.
“You sang to me, several times. You danced with me. You gave me a fun fashion show. You’re wearing my mother’s engagement ring,” he said lifting her hand to his lips and kissing it. “But I don’t think you actually wished me a happy birthday.”
“Well, then,” she said, drawing her hand away and placing it on his cheek. She then kissed him lightly on the lips. “Happy birthday, Victor.”
“You make everything and every day wonderful, Violet. I'm so glad you're in my life. Thank you.”
“It’s not just me, surely,” she said, looking away from those intensely penetrating eyes, her heart thumping too loud for her own ears.
He turned her face back to his. “It is, and don’t call me Shirley,” he said, smirking.
“Oh, brother!” she said rolling her eyes.
He laughed, but sobered swiftly. ”I love you, Violet,” he said.
He then kissed her properly, and being it was his birthday, she didn’t resist. At least that was the reason she gave herself. She emerged breathless and slightly dazed, not to mention shaken. She hadn’t expected to like it so much.
“I’ll say,” Richard snidely said. “Really got into it, didn’t she?”
“Oh, hush!” Heidi snapped. “They’re finally getting somewhere.”
“Yeah, to their hotel room,” he retorted, none too pleased.
“It’s a suite,” Heidi reminded him.
“And that makes a difference how?”
She rolled her eyes and waved a dismissive hand at him. “Oh, never mind. You’ll see soon enough.”
“I don’t want to see my wife getting it on with your playboy son!”
“I said hush!” Heidi snapped.
“Only one thing would make tonight perfect,” Victor said.
Violet turned away from those dark, hypnotizing eyes. She most certain could guess what that might be. Several images bounced around in her head, but she certainly wasn’t ready for any of them. She could feel his gaze almost burning a hole in her skin.
“Are you going to guess what it might be?” he asked, tugging Violet a little closer to him.
She shrugged. “Want me to bake you a cake?”
He laughed and shook his head.
“If you think you’re getting in her panties tonight, think again, lover boy!” Richard snarled in his ear. “Violet’s got more class than that.”
“Not quite,” Victor said, whether in answer to Violet or Richard, who could tell? “What would make me supremely happy is setting a date.”
Violet stiffened ever so slightly, but enough for Victor to feel it.
He sighed. “But of course, I’m jumping the gun again. You are not ready yet. So, I’ll be content for the moment and be ever so patient...as usual.”
Violet turned pleading eyes to him. “Victor…”
“No, don’t say anything that will ruin my perfect evening. We’re here,” he said, removing his arm from around her and taking out his wallet in order to pay the cab driver.
The cab stopped in front of the hotel and the doorman instantly came to open the car door for them.
“Mr. Romanoff! So good to see you again,” the doorman said, both surprised and delighted. He smiled at Violet, tipping his hat to her. “We finally get to meet Mrs. Romanoff, too. A great pleasure, ma’am.”
“Oh…” Violet said. “I…but I’m not…”
“Thank you, Gerry,” Victor interrupted turning away from the cab driver and stuffing a bill into the doorman’s hands. “I hope your family is well.”
“Very well indeed, Sir!” Gerry the doorman said, now opening the lobby door for them. “Do let me know if I can get anything for you.”
“Thanks, Gerry!” Victor said, going right past the reception desk where a young woman greeted him, as did a bellhop and the concierge, and straight to the elevator.
“Don’t you have to check us in?” Violet said.
“Already done,” he replied, pushing the up button.
“While you were at the spa,” he said, stepping into the empty elevator when the doors opened and pushing the number 5 button.
“So, my bag is…”
“In our room, of course,” he said, smiling at her, but his smile faded. “What’s with that face?”
“Um…our room?” she nervously said.
“Suite, I should say. I think you’ll like it,” he said, just as they reached their floor and he stepped out. He turned to watch Violet biting her bottom lip, a sure sign something was troubling her. He just couldn’t imagine what.
“Violet, my love, are you not coming or do you want to ride the elevator all night?” he said, holding his hand out to her.
She hesitated long enough so the doors almost closed on her. Victor stuck his hand out and stopped them from closing entirely.
“Violet, what’s wrong?”
“I…I know it’s your birthday, but…”
“But what?” he said anxiously. "What is it?"
“I…Victor, I can’t sleep with you!”
Victor gaped at her for several seconds then burst out laughing. He grabbed her hand and pulled her down the hall to room number 516.
“Victor, what are you doing? I’m not joking, really! I just told you I can’t…I just can’t!”
“Violet, get inside and I’ll show you,” he said opening the door for her and stepping aside for her to enter first.
“But I don’t wanna see what you got to show me!” she shrieked.
Victor shook his head, sighed in exasperation and shoved her into a sitting room, closing the door behind them.
“Victor, you wouldn’t!” she shouted.
“You’re right,” he casually said, going to the door on the right and opening it. “This is your bedroom, where you will sleep undisturbed and this…” he said, taking several strides to the opposite side of the sitting room to the door on the left and opening it. “My sweet, naïve, and hyper-prudish darling…Is my bedroom, where I will attempt to sleep tonight. A difficult task, I dare say, while knowing the love of my life, the loveliest woman I’ve ever known and the one who may one day consent to marry me, is snoozing mere feet away.”
“Oh,” she said, her eyes wide in surprise and perhaps regret?
Victor went to her and wrapped his arms around her. “I love you, Violet, more than I suppose you can imagine, but I would never do something so against your will. As much as I would love to spend the night holding you close, listening to you breathe, even watching you sleep as the sun rose in the sky the next morning, I know you. You are scrupulously moral, amazingly chaste and above all decent to a fault. I would no sooner try to seduce you as I would deface the MonaLisa.”
“Uh, okay,” she mumbled.
He chuckled and tilted her face up to his. “I never had thought of asking you to join me in my room tonight, but now that you’ve put that wonderful idea into my head, I’ll probably dream of it all night,” he said. “Not a bad way to spend the night, dreaming of you. Perhaps you’ll dream of me and we’ll meet in dreamland. That would be nice.”
He kissed her then, slowly, thoroughly and when they parted, he smiled watching her stunned expression.
“Good night, my love. Sleep well and thank you once again for the best birthday ever,” he whispered and he slipped into his room, closing the door behind him.
Violet sighed and stared at his door.