The first raindrops fell as they walked to the parking garage and it was nothing short of a deluge by the time they made it to the Tappen-Zee bridge leading out of the city. By the time they hopped onto Victor’s usual scenic route through the Catskills toward Catalpa Valley the term raging hurricane came to mind.
Of course, how scenic this route was now, during this vicious storm, was up for debate. There was nothing to see except for water cascading all around. You’d think some giant was pouring water onto the windshield from massive buckets.
While Victor drove on seemingly undisturbed, the same could not be said of Violet who sat with a death grip on the door handle and had to force herself not to grab onto Victor’s arm every few yards. She couldn't even bring herself to speak for fear of distracting him from his task of driving them safely home. Cars and trucks were pulling over right and left to the sides of the road, some exiting the main highway all together.
Wise decision. No one should be out in such treacherous weather.
Apparently, this had not occurred to Victor, however. He was glad the other vehicles got out of his way. Cars stepping on their break every two seconds was annoying to say the least, and meant it would take even longer to get home. Not that he was eager for that. He rather enjoyed his birthday weekend with almost 24/7 Violet time and that would stop as soon as they arrived in Catalpa Valley where he would have to take Violet to her home and he would go to his own, very lonely, very quiet house.
He sighed sadly thinking of that. Then an idea popped into his head—a rather stupid one, but one which wouldn’t relent.
“Violet, I kind of know what you’ll say to this, but…”
“Yes, please!” she burst out.
This was not the reaction he expected, but then, he realized, she most likely was not thinking what he was thinking. One never knew, however, so…what the heck? Give it a try.
“I wouldn’t if I were you,” Richard warned, but he was roundly ignored.
“So, you’d actually think about moving in with me?” Victor asked.
“What?” Violet shrieked. “Are you crazy?”
“I thought you already had determined that I was,” he said with a laugh.
“I mean you’re nuts to talk about such things while we’re driving in this…this…oh, God! You have to stop!”
“But think about it practically and rationally. We spend almost all our time together anyway. Makes sense to live together. You would have your own room, you know, and…” he said, undeterred.
“Dammit, I’m not talking about that! I mean stop the car, pull over and stop driving before you get us both killed!”
“Violet, why are you freaking out?”
“Why??? You can barely see out of the window! We should have left sooner before the storm started,” she whined. “Can’t we pull over and wait it out?”
“Honey, it’s supposed to rain like this all night and won’t stop until morning. I can get us home safe. It’s not as bad as it looks,” he said, just as he approached a huge puddle—or should we call it a pond?-- in the center of the road which made him slow down to a crawl and stop completely, unsure if he should proceed.
“Oh, no! What can we do?” Violet shrieked.
“We have to turn around and find another way or we can try to find a motel… hopefully,” he said, punching at the GPS on the dash, setting it to find the nearest lodging available. “Perhaps we’re not totally out in the middle of nowhere.”
Unfortunately, they were. The nearest motel was already full, so they went to the next one. No room in the inn there either. The next one—a good ten miles out of the way—had one room left with one bed.
Victor stared at Violet, who stood shivering and dripping wet. The run from the car to the lobby left them both soaked through the skin. “What do you think? It may be the only room available anywhere. Or we keep going and try to get home alive.”
“Share a room…with you?” she said, anxiously. She bit her lip and looked out of the glass sliding doors to the flood forming just outside the door. The water was actually coming through the door! She wiggled her toes in her soggy shoes and wondered what was more of a danger, sharing a room—and a bed!-- with Victor or braving this hideous weather and trying not to die on the trip home. She looked up at Victor, still undecided.
He smiled knowing exactly her thoughts, and turned back to the scrawny, irritable looking man. “We’ll take it,” he said.
As they rode the elevator up to the second floor, Victor put his arm around her and said, “I think I can trust you not to molest me in the middle of the night.”
“Very funny,” she replied, wiping the water which dripped from her hair off her face.
“I can sleep on the floor if you don’t think you can resist all this,” he said making a grand sweep of his body with his free hand.
“Don’t you get tired of being so darn funny?” she retorted, stepping out of the elevator and turning right. Victor grabbed her arm and turned them to the left.
“This way, Sweetie,” he said, unable to keep from grinning.
“Don’t get too happy there, Cowboy,” Richard snarled at him. “Violet won’t succumb to all your charms just cuz you’re stuck in a crumby hotel room.”
“I can dream,” Victor muttered as he inserted the card key and opened the door.
“What?” Violet said.
“I said…sweet dreams,” he lied, allowing her to enter and closing the door behind them.
It was a tiny room, especially compared to the beautiful suite they shared at the Carlton Ritz. It was a bit on the shabby side, too, but at least they were dry—or would be soon.
Violet went into the tiny bathroom and grabbed a towel. She noticed it was rather small and not nearly as plush as the huge ones at the other hotel. She began to dry her hair as she silently chided herself for acting like a spoiled brat. One weekend in luxury and now nothing was good enough for her? She went back to the room where she found Victor looking out at the storm from which they had only just escaped.
“It’s rough out there, huh?” she said.
“But beautiful. I love to watch lightning,” he said turning and holding out his hand to her. “Come watch with me.”
She hesitated a second then went to stand beside him. She gasped when a forked streak of lightning momentarily filled the sky, quickly followed by a crack of thunder which made her yelp and shook her down to her wet toes.
“Hey, we’re safe here,” he said putting his arms about her. “It’s just noisy angels playing with the light switch.”
She smiled somewhat sadly. “My mother used to say that, too.”
“I think that’s the first time I heard you speak of your mother. Were you very young when you lost her?”
She made quite a production of rubbing her hair with the towel and took a good, long time to answer. “You could say that,” she muttered, just as a violent shiver ran through her.
“You’re cold. You should take a shower,” he suggested.
“I already did out there!” she said pointing outside.
“I mean a warm shower, or better yet, take a nice warm bath. Then you can snuggle under the covers. I could make us some coffee and we can see what’s on TV.”
Victor went to the stand where a tiny coffee maker stood next to a few Styrofoam cups.
He turned to look at her just standing there watching him. “Go on. I can do this without blowing up the place.”
She didn’t move.
“Violet, what are you waiting for? Want me to draw you a bath?”
“You will stay out here?” she asked nervously.
He grinned. “Do you wish me to join you?”
“Then I best stay out here,” he said, casually. “Take your bag in with you and change into your night gown and bathrobe. I’ve already seen you in that, so it’s not very improper.”
She recalled perfectly well how much he saw of her that morning and she wasn’t thrilled about repeating that blunder, even if he was. She suddenly wished she had brought an ugly, old, flannel night shirt or something equally unappealing.
“If you’re gonna wish for something, wish for the rain to stop,” Richard said. "Cuz wishing for something not sexy to sleep in won't make this guy forget what he already saw."
“Violet, if you’re not going to take a bath, I will. If you haven't noticed, I'm soaked, too,” Victor said, shoving her bag into her hands and gently pushing her to the bathroom. “Let me know if you need someone to scrub your back. I’m sure I can find someone willing to help a pretty little concubine with that task.”
“Oh, you shut up,” she mumbled. She heard him laughing as she closed the door, making certain she locked it.
“Do you mean to say you seriously don’t trust Victor yet?” Heidi chided.
“That’s exactly what she means,” Richard answered.
Violet placed the bag on the counter right next to the sink and turned to the tub. She started the tub filling and rummaged in her bag for the tiny bottle of bath gel she swiped from the Carlton Ritz. Finding it, she poured some under the running water. She inhaled the lovely scent of Lily-of-the-Valley as she removed her wet clothes, piling them up in a corner. She then clipped her hair up and stepped into the warm water.
It was bliss…exactly what she needed to get the kinks out of her system and soothe her frazzled nerves. She closed her eyes and smiled.
“Victor’s not so dumb, after all. This is very nice…perfect,” she mumbled to herself.
She had dropped off to sleep just when an urgent knock came at the door.
“Violet, are you all right?” Victor shouted at the door.
“What?” Violet said, jerking awake and finding herself in total dark. “What…who turned out the lights?”
“I think the hotel was hit by lightning. The entire building is blacked out.”
Richard turned a rather suspicious look on Heidi. He glowered at the smug expression on her face. “You didn’t,” he said.
“Okay, if you say so,” she replied, unlocking the bathroom door when he wasn't looking. She then surreptitiously dropped Violet’s overnight bag to the floor and with a ghostly foot she pushed it far under the sink, where no one would be able to find it in the dark.