Richard shook his head and grimaced. “He’s such an idiot. He still doesn’t get what she means.”
“And you do?” Heidi asked. “Seems to me she can’t get the words right, whatever it is she’s trying to say.”
“Of course I know! She’s comparing herself with all his past conquests; from his lustful first time with…whatever her name is…”
“Chenille,” Heidi said, her lips pursed irritably.
“Yeah, her…to his gorgeous wife and everyone in between and since.”
“And?” Heidi asked, confused. “Why would she do that?”
“She wants to know why he suddenly changed gears.”
“Changed gears? What is that supposed to mean?”
“Heidi, come on. You have to see it. His type was super models, high-maintenance women, never an ordinary, unaffected, virtuous, naïve housewife like Violet, and she knows it. She sees it clearly…better than he does.”
“Well, that’s easily explained,” Heidi huffed. “That’s my influence. That was my mission. You think it was an accident when I showed him what a real wife and a good marriage could be for him?”
“A real wife? What did you do, Heidi?” Richard asked, suddenly wary of her answer.
“I showed him what he could have if he found a decent girl, a girl just like Violet. I showed him what you had. It was my plan to show him he should want something better than a frivolous woman. He’d only ever known these plastic, insincere types, those out for prestige and wealth and not much else.”
Richard gaped at her. “You made him want my wife, while I was still alive and well? How could you do that?”
“I didn’t! I mean… that wasn’t my intent. I didn’t expect him to fall in love with her. I just wanted him to see what he could have if he chose someone like her,” Heidi said.
“Didn’t work out that way, did it?” he hissed, anger rushing through him. “Did you do it then? Did you fix things to have me killed, Heidi? Did you make that burning building collapse on top of me to make room for your son to move in on my wife?”
Heidi gasped indignantly. “I would never! Even if I could, I would never do that! What happened to you was purely an accident.”
“Sure it was,” he said, glaring at her. Crossing his arms over his chest, he turned his back on her and gave all his attention to Violet and her lover boy.
“I don’t know what you mean by Christian values?” Victor said. “Are you asking about their religion? What does that have to do with…with anything?”
Violet shook her head. “I’m not explaining properly. I can’t get the words quite right.”
“How about we just snuggled up together?” Victor said. “We can talk all night just like we did for my birthday.”
She caressed Victor’s cheek before she leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips. “You’re always doing nice things for me, Victor, very nice things.”
He merely stared at her bewildered. She was in an odd mood and he simply couldn’t make heads or tails of it. He tried again. “Bed’s comfy and warm.”
“I never get to do nice things for you,” she said, ignoring his comment.
“You don’t?” he scoffed. “Putting aside all the times you’ve made dinner for me, and breakfast, and baked my favorite… everything, there’s the great time I had with you on my birthday and going away with me this weekend…”
“Yes, but…it’s not really enough. It’s not what you want.”
“It’s not? Violet, I don’t mean to be dense, but I don’t understand where you’re going with all this,” Victor said. “I’m happy just being with you.”
Violet rubbed her forehead and grimaced. “I…I’m trying to tell you something.”
Victor touched her cheek and waited for her to look at him. “Try again. We’ve got all night… we’ve got forever.”
She stared at him. “Do we?” she whispered.
The sudden appearance of the sad expression on her face boded ill. A bit panicked, he said, “Don’t we? Violet, what’s wrong?”
She took in a deep breath and noticed his eyes drift down to her chest which strained against the tight dress. She also noticed his hand moving slowly up and down her leg. It was doing funny things to her insides. Part of her told her she should forget about talking and just…just let him seduce her…or maybe she should seduce him and forget everything and…and just be done with this nonsense. The other part of her, though…
“Violet,” he said. “please tell me what’s on your mind. I’m not doing very well guessing tonight, for whatever reason.”
“Hard for you to read my mind when it’s all a scrambled mess, huh?” she said, nervously.
He chuckled. “Is that what it is? Thought I was losing my touch.”
“No, you’ll never lose your touch with me. I think it’s your touch that’s making me not able to think straight,” she said, taking his hand off her thigh and holding it in both of hers, where she hoped it would be much less a distraction.
“Sorry,” he said, though he didn’t look remotely sorry. He linked his fingers with hers, brought their hands up to his lips and kissed her fingers. “That better?”
She nodded and took another deep breath before trying again. “I…uh…I heard you talking about your first time… with Chenille… tonight,” she said.
He grimaced. “Sorry about that. I was trying to shut her up. Kind of backfired on me, but her litany of adventures and conquests were getting tiresome and I didn’t know anything else that would…you know…put an end to it.”
Violet nodded and remained silent, as if awaiting something …an explanation perhaps?
“I was a kid, Violet,” he said, feeling the urge to justify his youthful dalliance. “I was sixteen and stupid with raging hormones like you can’t believe and…and it was summer and… and she was…”
“Willing and maybe even in love with you. Yes, I know how that is,” Violet said, her eyes focused on some spot over Victor’s shoulder.
“It wasn’t love, not for me and definitely not for her, but I thought it was at the time. You always think so the first time, but I didn’t know what love was then.”
Violet suddenly smiled. “No? What about Rosie McIntyre in Kindergarten, and Cilia Vargas in first grade and Valerie Shaver in second grade? Chenille was way down the line.”
He gaped at her. “You remember that?”
She nodded and laughed. “I know, it’s so weird, huh? I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning, yet I can remember the first three girls you were in love with.”
“That was on our first date, when I told you that,” he said. “At the Mont Claire.”
“Which wasn’t supposed to be a date at all, as I recall,” she corrected.
“True,” he chuckled. “You got Cilia mixed up with Valerie, though.”
Violet shrugged. “Good as I can get.”
He laughed and kissed her cheek. “Do you have any idea how much I adore you?”
She held her thumb and forefinger about an inch apart. “This much?”
He shook his head and laughed again. “Wee bit more.”
She nodded again and the expression on her face turned serious once more. “Victor, I know you want…you want…”
“You,” he finished for her.
“Yes,” she said, looking down at her hands cradling his on her lap. “The way you looked at me all night, and even now, tells me that.”
He frowned. “And that makes you uncomfortable?”
“Um…” She started to shake her head.
“Don’t try to lie, honey. I know it does, but I don’t understand why. You know it’s not just lust. I love you. I want to marry you.”
She nodded again. “You see, that’s the thing. I heard that all before…a long ago and…”
“I’m assuming you mean Richard… or was there someone else?”
“I told you Richard was the only one…ever.” She stared into his eyes, wishing he’d see what she meant without her having to say it. “The only one ever.”
“I was very young, Victor, and looking back now, very dumb, too. But it was his birthday and…and the lilacs were in bloom and… it was wrong…I knew it was, I knew I shouldn’t have, but…I…I guess I didn’t care. I loved him so much and I so wanted to do something nice for him, cuz I knew my father would send me away and…”
Victor’s expression grew more confused as she rambled on faster than he could keep up. At last, he held his hand up to stop the flow. “What are you saying?”
“We got married because we had to,” she said in a whisper.
“Yes, I know that. You told me when Wally and Karen …wait, Are you telling me you don’t think Richard really loved you? That he only married you because you were pregnant? That’s bull!”
“It sure is!” Richard said, shocked that Victor would know it, let alone admit it.
She shook her head. “No, I know he did.”
“Damn straight I did!” Richard bellowed.
“Shush!” Heidi chided, frowning at Violet. “I have no idea what she’s trying to say.”
“If you can’t tell, then there’s no hope for him,” Richard said pointing at the bewildered expression on Victor’s face.
“Violet, none of this makes sense. If you knew he loved you, then…why worry about it now? It’s all done and over and doesn’t have anything to do with us,” Victor said.
“That’s just it, it does!” she burst out.
“It’s like…like déjà vu all over again...only with you,” she said.
He stared at her shocked and still confused. “How? We’re hardly sixteen anymore, Sweetie.”
“Yes, but…I might as well be. You make me feel…you make me want to do very nice things for you,” she whispered.
“And you do, every day.”
She shook her head. “No, I mean like with Richard…at Somerset hill…on his birthday…when we…were together...for the first time.”
He stared at her, astonished and a second later she covered her blushing face with her hands.
“Sweetheart, you’ve got my attention now, better make the most of it,” he said. She shook her head refusing to look at him. “If you don’t talk to me, I’m leaving right now.”
“You will not!” she mumbled into her hands.
“Okay, it’s an empty threat, but if you don’t look at me right this minute I’m gonna…I’ll rip your clothes off and have my way with you just like Richard did all those years ago and then we will be talking deja vu,” he said, only half kidding.
“I wish you would,” she whispered into her hands.
“I just need some other flowers cuz I don’t think it’s lilac season.”
Violet giggled. “Flowers or no flowers, I’d still feel the same.”
“Violet, are you being at all serious? Cuz you’re killing me here,” he said grabbing her hands and pulling them away from her face.
“Sort of…kind of,” she said to her lap.
“I have no idea what to do with that,” he said.
She finally looked up with watery eyes. “I was sixteen, Victor.”
“Yes, I know,” he slowly said, almost understanding, or at least hoping he did. “Same as me.”
“That’s where the similarity ends.”
He took a deep breath and nodded. “True. You were lucky. You found your true love first time out. Took me quite a while longer.”
She shook her head. “Not just that. My first time was… well, you know it didn’t turn out well.”
“No,” Richard gasped. “You can’t mean that, Violet. It was amazing…the start of our life together. We were so happy.”
“I’m sure she doesn’t mean it that way, Richard dear,” Heidi said, soothingly.
“Because you got pregnant, you mean?” Victor asked.
“But it all turned out all right,” Victor said, putting his arms around her.
“Eventually,” Violet said, resting her head on his shoulder and sighing.
They lapsed into a long silence, but a comfortable one. Victor smiled, enjoying the feel of her so close, and wishing for more, but he still didn’t know what this was all about. While he hated ruining this moment of peace, he was still curious and besides that, he was eager to get to bed and not for sleeping, especially now that she was in essence giving him the green light. If she was even remotely serious, then he’d make sure they danced all night and into next week.
“Violet,” Victor said. “what does this have to do with us?”
“I only ever had one first time. You had…tons of them,” she said, pulling away from him.
“What are you talking about? You can only have one first time,” he said.
“Victor, I’m starting to think you’re not too smart,” Violet said, now getting miffed. “If we were to… you know, that would be my first time with you.”
“Oh, I see,” he said, although he didn’t quite. “So… you’re nervous?”
“Among other things, yes. I’m a novice and you’re practically an expert. You’ve had tons of them with plenty of…Chenilles and Catherines and Denises.”
“I wouldn’t say tons,” he protested.
“Compared to me, it’s tons,” she retorted. “I’ve only ever had Richard. I’ll bet you can’t even name all of yours.”
He shifted uncomfortably on the bed. She got him there, all right! He tried purposely to forget some of them, that’s for sure; the ones not worth remembering.
“Okay, so… what?” he said, unable to keep the irritation out of his voice. “I’m suddenly not good enough because I wasn’t a good little boy scout like your dear Richard?”
“I … I didn’t mean it that way,” she replied, sounding hurt. “I just meant…Oh God, I don’t know what I meant. I just know my only first time turned out… troublesome in the end.”
“You mean you didn’t have a good time?” Victor said, frowning slightly.
“Victor, are you trying to be dense?” she said, exasperated.
“No, it’s coming quite naturally tonight,” he said.
“Be serious, Victor” she whined, standing up and crossing her arms over her chest.
“I’m trying, Violet, but I don’t have a clue what you’re getting at.”
“I don’t want a repeat.”
He frowned at her for a minute. “You mean you’re afraid I’ll get you pregnant the first time we have sex? That’s ridicul…ous.”
He stopped abruptly, his eyes growing huge as he remembered his birthday weekend. He stared at her belly, quickly calculating the time from then until now. It had been two months, give or take a day or two. Is this why she was being so weird and emotional lately? Was she actually at this moment pregnant and she had been trying to tell him?
He frowned. She hadn’t remembered what she did that night. She, supposedly, didn’t recall how she jumped his bones and rode him like a stallion. Or did she? What were the chances … unless….
“Violet, are you not on birth control?” he asked.
“No, Victor, no,” she said, sighing in relief. “Thank God! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. I never needed it before, because Richard had a vasectomy soon after Sophie was born. I was so afraid to tell you, cuz I know you want to, and even I want to. You have no idea how easily you could seduce me…you have come very close several times, but I don’t want to go through that again. I mean I don’t want to get pregnant before being married. I know you asked me to marry you a few times already, but I’m just not ready. Richard’s only been gone a little over a year now and…I know it’s customary to mourn for someone a year and a day, but…it’s just not right. It’s just too soon to let go of him. I’m not ready and I don’t know when I will be…maybe two years and two days or something, I don’t know. I was so hoping you’d understand, cuz I really don’t want to lose you, but… I’ll understand if you can’t wait for me.”
Unfortunately, for Violet, Victor stopped listening after No, Victor, no. He went into a sort of numb trance as she rambled on and on, having an elaborate daydream starring his new wife, Violet, the love of his life and the imaginary child growing in her soon-to-be-round-as-a-basketball belly.
“My God, Violet,” he said standing up and placing one hand at her back and the other on her tummy. “Violet, are you trying to tell me … are you?”
Violet stared up at him. “Yes.”
“You’re sure?” he said, stunned and amazed and delighted and thrilled.
“Yes, but are you okay with it?”
“Okay with it?” he said, incredulous.
“Yes, I know you’ve waited so long already, but…I’m sorry.”
“Sorry? This is nothing to be sorry about. I’m so happy I’m ready to burst!”
She made a funny face. “You are? I thought you wanted…”
“You. I just want you, and now the baby.”
She blinked at him. “The what?” she said.
“We have to get married right away,” he said, completely ignoring her. “As soon as we get back.”
“Victor, have you gone daft? I just told you I can’t.”
He gaped. “Violet, didn’t you just say you didn’t want a repeat of last time?”
“Exactly. That’s why we can’t.” She turned her back to him. “Now that that’s out of the way, will you pull down my zipper so we can get to bed?”
“It’s late, Victor. We should be sleeping already,” she said, holding her hair out of the way so it wouldn’t get stuck in the zipper.
He hesitated a moment, then reached out and pulled the zipper down halfway, then stopped.
“What are you doing?” she said.
“Violet, we have to get married,” he said, pulling it down the rest of the way. He then slipped the dress straps off her shoulders and kissed her neck. “I thought I loved you before…but I must have lied.”
He turned her around, pulling the dress down so her arms were trapped by her side.
“Victor, what are you doing?” she shrieked.
“Showing you how much I love you, of course,” he said, bending down to capture her lips, all the while pulling the dress down so it slithered to the floor around her feet.
“Victor, you mustn’t,” she said, breathless and losing the use of her senses again with every stroke of his hand. She forced her brain to resist his touch and looking at him, she added, “Please, Victor. We can’t.”
“Of course we can. It no longer matters. We’ll be married by next week.”
“You have gone daft. You were listening to me, weren’t you? I told you I can’t marry you yet.”
“Violet, I don’t want our child born out of wedlock. That’s okay for Hollywood people, but not for us.”
“Yes, our child,” Victor said. “You didn’t get pregnant by yourself, remember? I was there!”
She blinked at him stupidly for a moment. "And I suppose I'm pregnant by osmosis?"
"No," he said grinning devilishly. "Far better than that."
She then rolled her eyes. “Hello, Victor to planet Earth!” she said, knocking on his forehead. “You have to have sex in order to get pregnant. We kind of skipped a step there.”
He gaped. There she was fists on her hips standing in front of him in the sexiest little red and black thing he’d ever seem, looking as amazing as she did exasperated. All he could manage to do was laugh.
He finally figured out what must have happened. Obviously, he had fallen into the rabbit hole and was now in wonderland with Alice and the white rabbit. Nothing ever made sense there either, after all.