Victor turned the doorknob and growled. “Will she ever lock this thing?” he muttered.
“Meew,” was the only response he got. It came from kitty Calendula.
“Ginger fluff, can’t you tell Violet to lock this door?” he said. “I’m going to come over one day and find her murdered. I would think you’d care. She is your personal can opener, you know. If we don’t save her from herself, you won’t get fed anymore.”
This speech did not seem to impress the cat. She just yawned. She then snaked around his ankles and sneaked out of the door before Victor got the chance to close it.
“Lock up after you come back in!” he shouted at the silly animal with its tail haughtily up in the air.
He looked around, and with no Violet to greet him, he frowned.
“Violet?” he called out, but he received no answer. He searched the downstairs growing increasingly concerned. Each empty room showed no sign of her.
“God, no!” he muttered as he bound up the stairs taking them two at a time. Her bedroom was still and vacant as was Sophie’s across the hall. The one at the end of the hall, however, hummed with the sound of a mechanical appliance.
He rushed there and at last breathed again.
There was Violet –safe and sound--with her back to him feverishly sewing at her machine, oblivious to all. Around her were several Halloween costumes in various stages of completeness. Carmecita’s angel outfit with a halo attached to a headband hung on the wrought iron canopy of Kenny’s bed frame along with Billy’s Buzz Lightyear costume and Timmy’s pirate outfit. There were a few princess dresses—Cinderella for Maria, Briar Rose, aka sleeping beauty, for Sally and Belle for Georgiana-- strewn on the bed needing a bit of trim to finish them off along with the Princess Jasmine harem costume for Kelly.
“Should you really be doing that now?” he asked, and just as he expected would happen, she jumped about a mile into the air and shrieked.
“Victor! You scared me half to death!” she said, her hand clutched over her heart.
“Well, now we’re even,” he said coming to her and kissing her cheek. “This wouldn’t happen if you would lock your front door as I’ve told you a hundred times to do! I didn’t see or hear you anywhere downstairs and I just assumed I would finally find you up here dead or worse.”
“That’s ridiculous! I…wait…what’s worse than finding me dead?” she asked, thoroughly bewildered.
“Gone without a trace, kidnapped or…don’t look at me like I’m making up stories,” he said. “Violet, I’ve seen mothers and fathers nearly die of grief from losing a child, not knowing what became of them and if by some miracle they are found years later, they are not the same child, never the same.”
“I’m hardly a child, Victor!”
“And what about full grown adults who disappear and are never seen again? It happens, Violet. I’ve seen it all in my line of work and I won’t let it happen to you if I have anything to say about it. You have to lock your door!”
“You’re being silly.”
He shook his head and knelt in front of her, taking her hands in his and gazing intently into her eyes. “Don’t tell me it can’t happen here, because it did.”
She gasped. “There’s a missing child?” she shrieked.
“Not a child. A young college girl in Meridale,” he said gravely.
“That’s not too far from here,” she said in a whisper.
“That’s what I’ve been saying, Violet. They say she must have just run off to have some fun, but her parents insist she wouldn’t do that without telling them. They can’t find her anywhere. They came to me hoping I could force someone to do something more than is being done, but legally there is nothing.”
“Oh, my,” Violet said, her eyes now fearful.
“Do you have any idea how I would feel if that were to happen to you? If I had no clue where you were or if I’d ever see you again? I would quite literally go mad.”
She opened her lips to speak, then closed them again. Instead she wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
“For what?” he said, his own arms wrapping around her, pulling her against him.
“For caring so much about me,” she said pulling away from him. “But you really don’t have to worry so much. I unlocked the door because I knew you were coming over and I knew I wouldn’t hear you knocking from all the way up here with the sewing machine going and all.”
“How long have you been up here?” he asked.
“Uh…A little while,” she lied.
“Mm-hmm,” he said lifting a skeptical eyebrow. “Perhaps you should give me a key so I can let myself in and then I can relax knowing you are safely locked away.”
“Why don’t you put me in a tower like Rapunzel or better yet just move in?” she snapped.
He grinned. “Thought you’d never ask,” he said, enveloping her in his arms and kissing her soundly.
She would have pushed him away, but…well, would you push away someone who makes you feel that good?
After making her quite breathless she leaned her head on his shoulder. “I was kidding, you know,” she whispered.
“I can dream, can’t I?” he replied. “But anyway, are you packed yet?”
She gaped at him. “Whatever for?”
“Violet, have you forgotten we’re going away this weekend?”
“You never said…I thought we were just going to see the leaves change…just a little ride around Catalpa Valley.”
“Well,” he said, smirking. “It is a little more than a little ride, and not around here.”
“It’s a surprise, but I know you’ll love it,” he said standing up and pulling her to her feet.
She anxiously looked around the room. “But I have so much to do before Halloween. The kids are counting on me.”
“And you’ll have plenty of time to finish in the next few weeks. The leaves are at their peak right this minute, so it can’t wait.”
“I still didn’t even start on Jeff’s Jedi outfit. Don’t even know what a Jedi is. Do you?”
“You don’t know what a Jedi knight is?” he said, incredulous.
She shook her head. “I guess I should?”
“Starwars, Violet. It’s the good guys in Starwars. They carry light sabers and…I still have the ones Simon and Ronnie used to play with. Jeff will love them! They make cool sounds when you swish them around and everything.”
To Violet’s amazement Victor stepped away from her and made as if he was holding a sword with both hands, swinging it around and making weird sounds.
“Eeeeeyoingggg! fsh-oom! It’s way cool!” he said, still swinging that invisible sword.
Violet burst out laughing. “You are so cute! You’re like a little kid.”
“Uh…okay,” he said, a little taken aback.
“But I still have to make the outfit.”
“Actually, I bet I still have the complete Jedi knight outfits the boys wore. You won’t have to make anything,” he said, finally putting away his lightsaber.
“That would be great, but do you think it wise to give Jeff a weapon? He’s got a bit of a temper, remember?”
“No one can be mad when they’re playing with a lightsaber! Even Ronnie and Simon got along when they played with those things, and that’s saying something!”
She giggled. “Okay, but let me finish this one dress first for Lucia. It took some doing to convince her to pick something. I had to tell her I would be dressed up, too.”
“What is she going as?” he asked looking at the shiny bright green fabric on the sewing machine.
“Tinkerbell. She’ll look lovely!”
“I’ll bet,” he said. “And you? What’ll you be going as?”
“That, Mr. Romanoff,” she said with a coy smile. “Is a secret.”
He laughed. “Okay. Then I won’t tell you what I’ll be either. You finish and I’ll go pack for you then.”
“Okay,” she said, going back to her sewing. It took her several minutes—enough time to finish the dress-- before she realized what Victor had just said. “Pack for me? Don’t you dare!”
“What are you yelling about?” he said, coming into the room with her bag already packed.
“What did you do?”
“Packed, like I said.”
“But what did you pack?”
“A few outfits. What else could you need?”
“How about a night gown …”
“…and robe and…”
“Babe, it’s all in there.”
“You went through my underwear?” she shrieked.
He laughed. “Violet, with all we’ve already don…uh… Trust me. It’s all in there. All you need are your toiletries.”
Indignant as all get out, she glared at him. “You have absolutely no idea of boundaries, do you?” she hissed.
“You say that is if it’s a bad thing,” he said. “Are you ready? Should get going before it gets too late.”
She stubbornly folded her arms over her chest. “And what if I say I’m not going?”
He grinned and stepped closer.
“What…what are you doing?” she said, back-peddling until the backs of her knees hit the bed and she fell on it.
“Well,” he said, looming over her. “I could make love to you right here and now, assuming Richard's ghost isn’t here or…”
“Or I could do a caveman and drag you away,” he said, leaning down and kissing her tenderly. “I’d rather you just come along, though. I’ll make it well worth your while. I promise, but do as you please, my love. There’s always next year to see the leaves change.”
Ten minutes later Violet was beside Victor in his pickup truck and they were well on the way to places unknown, Jedi knights, Lightsabers and Halloween far from their thoughts.