Violet wrapped her arms around Victor’s neck and held on tightly. As much as she tried, she couldn’t stop the tears which suddenly sprung to her eyes from spilling over onto her cheeks. That only made her hold on tighter to him.
“I don’t get it. Why is she crying?” Richard said.
Heidi gave him a long-suffering sort of look. “I’m sure you wouldn’t understand it even if I explained,” she said.
“He doesn’t even know she’s crying, the idiot. He’s just enjoying having her on his lap,” Richard growled.
Indeed Victor was. He definitely loved having Violet hugging him like there was no tomorrow. This gave him hope, but after a while he got the inkling something was up.
“Violet, do you want some breakfast?” he asked, rubbing her back, his face in her sweet smelling hair.
She shook her head and held on tighter.
“Not even coffee?” he said, now tugging on her arms, loosening them from his neck. Her resistance now concerned him and he tugged harder until he could see her face. “Violet, what’s wrong? Are you crying?”
“No,” she lied, wiping at her face.
“Violet, what’s wrong,” he said, cupping her face in his hands.
She shrugged. “I…I don’t know,” she mumbled.
“People don’t cry for nothing. Tell me,” he said, kissing her salty cheek.
“I’m so nasty to you,” she mumbled with a sniff.
“You are?” he said, highly amused. “News to me.”
“Oh, Victor, how can you say that?” she snapped.
“You don’t know the definition of nasty, is my thinking. I don’t think you’ve ever been nasty to anyone in your whole life, even me. At least I can’t remember a time.”
“What do you call it when I won’t give you what you want?” she whined.
He thought for a minute. “Stubborness?”
“That too. Amounts to the same thing,” she sniffed. “I’m sorry, Victor.”
“For what exactly?”
She stared at him, her eyes still misty. “You want to marry me and I just can’t.”
He looked away, lest she see the disappointment in his eyes. He reached for the gleaming white carafe of coffee and poured himself another cup. He added half a teaspoon of sugar and a tiny splash of cream. Then he gave it a stir, tasted it and set the cup back down, all the while never glancing at Violet, who sat perched on his lap motionless throughout.
He then looked at her and forced a smile. “Mind telling me why?” he asked.
She sniffed and looked down at her hand where Victor’s mother’s ring hugged her finger as if it was made for her. Then she pulled out from the inside of her silky bathrobe the gold chain she wore around her neck and the wedding ring which dangled from it.
“Richard,” she whispered, a tear trickling down her cheek.
Even though his heart felt as if being squeezed in a giant’s vicious grip, Victor kept the smile in place and kissed her tears away.
“Mind elaborating on that?”
More tears cascaded down her cheeks and splashed onto her chest quicker than he could catch them, but he let her cry silently and waited.
“You’re going to think I’m crazy,” she mumbled, grabbing a linen napkin from the small round breakfast table and drying her face with it.
“I doubt it,” he replied. “And even if I did, it wouldn’t make me love you less.”
“That’s a pity. I wish you didn’t love me at all. Would make it all better…for you anyway,” she said, giving one final sniff and checking her tears at last.
Still he waited. Surely she would explain why she wouldn’t marry him.
“I care for you, Victor. You know that, right?” she said.
He nodded and waited for more. While she remained silent he took another sip of his coffee. He watched her eyes following his cup and he silently offered her a taste. She took it eagerly and finally smiled ever so slightly.
“You made this just right for me, didn’t you? Exactly how I like it. You like yours black,” she said, simultaneously surprised and sad, with a touch of accusation.
“Guilty as charged,” he replied. “Thought you could use some.”
She shut her eyes and more tears leaked out. She was going to get dehydrated if she kept doing that, he thought miserably. How he wished he could read her mind! Then they could get to the bottom of this and start coming up with a solution.
“You know me so well,” she whispered.
“Is that a problem?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably,” she said, drinking the last bit of coffee and setting the cup down on the saucer. She looked at him, her expression worried. “Am I bothering you?”
He frowned. “Bothering me?”
“Sitting on your lap for so long. Can’t be comfortable for you.”
He chuckled and pulled her closer. “I like you near me. Makes me understand you better,” he said.
She made a skeptical face and he laughed. “Okay, maybe not, but I still like you right here.”
“Know what this reminds me of?” she asked, putting one arm around his shoulder and laying her head on it.
If she says Richard again, I’ll scream bloody murder, he thought to himself. Instead, he calmly said, “Tell me.”
“Excuse me?” he said, taken aback.
She giggled and kissed his neck. She could feel his pulse throbbing strong and steady and reassuring and she kissed it again.
“Mr. Rochester used to like his…I guess she was his girlfriend… to sit on his lap. You’ll never guess who she was, so I’ll have to tell you.”
“No, you won’t. It’s Jane Eyre,” he said triumphantly. “Didn’t think I’d know, huh?”
She gasped and stared at him. “You saw the movie,” she accused.
“No, I read the book. Back in high school. Don’t remember much of it, just that it was…a miserable story.”
“Not at the end. Not when they finally were able to be together and live happily ever after,” she earnestly said.
Now here was a clue, he thought. He stared at her wondering what she was thinking.
“As I recall—please correct me if I’m wrong,” Victor said. “Jane was twenty years younger than Rochester and they were going to be married until it was discovered that he was already married.”
“Yes,” Violet said. “To a vicious lunatic who almost killed him at least twice.”
“She eventually burned down Thorndale manor…”
“Thornfield,” she corrected.
“Okay,Thornfield. She ended up burned to death and Rochester maimed and blind. Am I right?”
Victor still didn’t see the connection. Why did Violet think they were anything like those story book characters?
“Are you planning on burning me in my bed some night while I’m sound asleep?” he asked. ”Your best shot was last night.”
She giggled. “Of course not!”
“Will you only marry me when I’m blind and crippled?”
“Hmm, I don’t get it then. I don’t have a lunatic wife to prevent us marrying. I was smart enough to divorce her!”
She smiled, but quickly sobered. “But I do have a husband and…”
“Violet, do I have to tell you again? He may not be a lunatic, but Richard is dead--just like Rochester’s wife. He may have even died the same way, the poor guy,” Victor said, grimacing when he realized how that might disturb Violet. He held her closer. “I’m sorry, but the point is he’s not in our way.”
She bit her lip and her eyes got all misty again. “Mr. Rochester pretended his wife didn’t exist, but still she haunted him wherever he went.”
Victor frowned. “You mean after she died? I don’t remember that from the book.”
“No, I mean…he went about his life, had lovers and traveled and tried to forget her, but he was still…very unhappy.”
“He just hadn’t found his true love yet, but once he did, once he found Jane…”
“Jane made him happy, yes, but she knew it was wrong to be with him, because he was still married.”
“You’re going round in circles, Violet. We’re not the same. There is nothing in our way,” he said.
“He’s not getting it,” Heidi whispered.
“Heck, even I don’t get what she’s talking about. What the hell does a lunatic from a stupid book have to do with me or her or him?” Richard asked, totally perplexed.
“She’s not explaining it properly because she doesn't understand it either,” Heidi said. She then went to Victor and whispered in his ear. The dawning expression on his face made her smile and she backed off again.
“What did you just say to him?” Richard asked.
“What he needed to hear. Now he’ll understand. Now he'll get it,” she replied.
Richard scratched his head. “Wish I did. I still don’t get it.”