Reluctantly, Violet threw back the covers. That would have to be enough sleep for now. She stretched luxuriously, then slipped out of bed, pulling her robe on. She went into the bathroom to splash water on her face and try to fix her hair. She gave up when the comb got stuck at the back of her rat nest head.
“Pretty bad when I need coffee just to comb my hair. Oh, well,” she mumbled, tossing down the comb and heading back to her room. She stopped dead in her tracks upon seeing a stack of bright magenta red boxes sitting beside the luggage. They had not been there last night, she was certain.
“Now what is this?” she muttered going to the first box, lifting the lid and gasping. There she found sexy lingerie and each subsequent box contained lacy bras in a rainbow of colors, slinky panties, delicate camisoles and silk stockings. While Violet longed to start wearing all of these lovely things, she knew from where they came, and it didn’t sit well with her.
“That man is the limit!” she hissed, closing the box over and tightening the tie on her robe.
“Victor Romanoff, I have a bone to pick with you!” she said storming into the sitting room.
He calmly lowered the Wall Street Journal he had been perusing a fraction of an inch and peered at her over it, a careless expression on his face. “Do you? And why is that?”
“Oh, don’t give me that! You know perfectly well why,” she huffed.
“Didn’t you like your dream?”
“My…my dream?” she said completely thrown off course. “What do my dreams have to do with anything?”
“You tell me,” he said, then quickly added, “I must admit. I'm at a loss here. What does one do when one's concubine awakens all out of sorts so early in the morning?”
“Ah! So, you admit it. That’s exactly what I am to you,” she snapped.
“If only,” he muttered to himself, folding his paper, setting it aside and taking a sip from his coffee cup. “Regardless what you think, Violet, you are not a concubine. More’s the pity.”
“I’m sure everybody else thinks so,” she retorted.
“What have I told you about worrying what other’s might think?”
She rolled her eyes. “That’s your patent answer for everything, isn’t it? Well, I do worry, everybody does! It's what keeps civilization from collapsing.”
He sighed. “Fine, worry yourself into a full head of grey hair. See if I care.”
Taken aback by this unusually surly response, she stared at him, astounded and concerned. “Victor, are you okay?” she anxiously asked.
He took a deep breath and grabbed his paper again. “Fine. Your coffee’s getting cold.”
She stared at him for another minute, then decided to sit. Before she did so, however, she remembered what had ticked her off in the first place and she remained on her feet.
“Victor, you lied to me,” she said.
“Yeah? Well, get over it,” he snapped.
Her jaw dropped and it took a while before she got her voice back. “There is no way you bought all those...that stuff for your mother.”
He frowned at her over the top of his newspaper. “Did you have too much to drink last night? My mother is dead. I got those for you.”
“I mean…I mean when you used to take her shopping,” she said, wringing her hands.
“I’m not following you, Violet,” he said, wondering why she looked so agitated all of a sudden.
“I saw what’s in those boxes in my room,” she persisted.
“And…there are things in there that even Victoria keeps a secret… if you know what I mean,” she said, her eyes wide as if that would tell him what she meant.
He stared at her frowning and then it came to him. “Victoria keeps secret? The lingerie is what’s got you into this snit?”
With an exasperated shake of the head, he sighed. “I did indeed get those type of things for my mother because she enjoyed them like any normal woman would. It’s a package deal with everything else we bought at the shop. Did you not like them?”
“That’s not the point.”
“May I ask then what is?”
“You shouldn’t be buying stuff like that for me,” she said.
“And why is that?” he asked in a bored voice. It's not like he hadn't heard this all before.
“It’s…it’s not…decent,” she said.
“Decent,” he repeated.
“Yes, it’s improper.”
He stared at her, watched her squirm uncomfortably. That's when it occurred to him that the ladies at the shop might have given Violet slightly sexier things than they would have for his mature and much older mother. Knowing this and seeing Violet's obvious discomfort, at last made his anger dissipate--anger caused when Violet called Victor by her dead, sainted husband’s name.
“Come here,” he demanded, extending his hand to her.
To his delight she didn’t hesitate before coming to him, placing her small hand in his. He smiled up at her and couldn't help teasing her. “Violet, if I don’t get those pretty things for my very own concubine, then for whom can I get them?”
“Stop teasing me about that,” she pouted. “I’m sorry I ever mentioned it.”
“I’m not,” he said pulling her onto his knee. “If nothing else, it’s rather funny, but it also gave me some very nice dreams about a cute little concubine earning her keep in wonderful ways.”
“I can imagine,” she muttered, her cheeks glowing pink. “Victor, if you insist on my keeping all those things…”
“Which I do,” he interjected.
“Then I have to pay you back,” she said, her expression so earnest he thought she might burst.
“Okay,” he said, his tone marked with a drop of hope. Was Violet actually thinking of earning her keep in wonderful ways as he alluded to? God, let’s hope so!
He cleared his throat then said, “And…how do you plan on doing that?”
She bit her bottom lip. “Um…a heck of a lot of home-baked cookies?”
He burst out laughing. “Not exactly what I was hoping, but I do like your cookies. It will have to do.”
Violet stared into his handsome face and couldn’t help feeling badly. “Why do you put up with me?”
“I think it’s in the manual,” he said.
She made a face at him. “What manual?”
“The How-to-keep-your-concubine-happy manual,” he said, waiting for her to smack him. To his utter amazement, however, she did nothing of the sort. Instead, she placed both hands on his cheeks and tenderly kissed him.
“I’m sorry I’m such a bitch,” she whispered. She shook her head at the astonished look on his face. “Don’t deny it.”
“I am and I’ll tell you why. You do so many nice things for me, Victor. From the moment we met you’ve been ever-present no matter how much I pushed you away. You’re either a glutton for punishment or I don’t know what. You got me out of a funk I didn’t even know I was in. My life now is so much better than…since Richard died. I'm no longer nearly as lonely. I really do appreciate everything you do for me really and truly. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for everything. You’ve become such a great friend and…and more. I don’t deserve you and because I don’t, you make me feel guilty and guilt makes me bitchy, so it’s all your fault I'm a bitch!”
He chuckled, shook his head ever so slightly then pulled her into his arms, embracing her warmly. She may not have said it in words, but for all intents and purposes, Violet had just confirmed his suspicions. She loved him, but she couldn’t—for whatever reason—actually say the words or even admit it to herself.
But no matter. Victor had plenty of love for the both of them.
That would have to be enough for now.
That would have to be enough for now.