Monday, April 8, 2013

Ch158 It’s obvious

     “Grandma, you are positively horrible,” Simon said, but he didn’t appear to be the least bit surprised by Marty’s deception nor concerned that she might truly have been ill. In fact, he looked rather amused, impressed even!
          “Gees, Gramma,” Ronnie said, clutching his heart. “You’re getting so good I almost believed it this time. Are you sure Broadway isn’t your thing?”
          Marty giggled delightedly and inclined her head, her idea of a dignified bow to her star-struck audience.
          Violet, on the other hand, was indignant with rage. “You tricked him! How could you do that? It’s obvious Victor is out of his mind with worry for you and you pull this stunt?” she shouted. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Faking illness is horrible, especially in a hospital. That’s unconscionable!”

          Marty looked at her as if watching a mildly interesting reality show, but completely ignored her tirade. She smiled and patty the bed beside her as invitation for Violet to join her there. “Now that Victor is out of the way for a few minutes, come and talk to us, my dear. We’re all so curious about you.”
          Violet opened her mouth, then shut it again crossing her arms stubbornly over her chest. “I will do no such thing! I’m going to look for Victor and tell him this was all a sick, twisted ploy for attention.”
          “You have that all wrong, dear,” Marty replied mildly. “I wanted less attention from him, not more. He was going on and on about doctors and heart attack nonsense when all I want is to get to know you.”
          “I thought you wanted to go home,” Violet countered.
          “Hmm…that too, but, right now, I’m more interested in you and Victor,” Marty continued, unwilling to be deterred from her goal, not for a minute,
          “But he’s probably at this moment calling your daughter to tell her you’re having another attack and….”
          “I think not,” Simon interjected, putting his arm around Violet and coaxing her toward the bed, away from the door which he closed over with his foot. “Dad knows how tired Mom is and he wouldn’t want to bother her until he thought Grandma was really in mortal danger, which of course, she’s not. He knows Grandma’s health will only improve without Mom…fussing about. You see, Violet, Dad knows firsthand about the …shall we say, splenetic relationship subsisting between my mother and grandmother and he always tries his best to smooth things over as painlessly as possible and he’s doing that now…like he always does.”
          Violet gaped at him, her face clearly showing her confusion.
          Ronnie leaned over and explained, “He means they’re bitchy whenever they are near each other and perfectly fine any other time…well, Gramma is…not so much Mom. She’s always a bi…”
          “Hush!” Violet shouted, actually putting her fingers to his lips stopping him from saying that last, vile word. “You mustn’t speak that way about your mother. Your grandmother surely doesn’t condone this talk. Do you?” She then turned to Marty beseeching her.
          Marty gave a slight shrug and said, “Frankly, dear, they’re right. Catherine is a bitch. I should know. I’m her mother. Always has been…well, since her father died anyway.”
          Violet glared at them. “All I know is if it was one of my kids calling me… that, I would be devastated. Any mother would,” she said, nearly in tears.
          “But Kevin and Sophie…” Ronnie started to say.
          “Kenny,” Violet corrected automatically.
          “Yeah, him. They never would call you that, cuz you’re a perfect mom,” he  finished, with a reassuring smile.
          “I may not know your mother, but I still say she deserves better, from all of you!”
          “You can say that now, but that's because you don't know her, and I don't recommend it. I suggest you postpone meeting my mother after your tenth anniversary,” Simon said. “Why do you think we’ve done all we could to keep you and her apart? For fun? No!”
          Violet frowned then abruptly turned and stomped to the door, only to crash into a harried looking nurse, one even shorter than Violet was and twice as wide.      
         “I’m terribly sorry,” Violet muttered, but the woman ignored her and went straight to Marty.
          “I was told you needed me,” the nurse said, checking her pulse then going to the beeping machine, frowning at it as she read the print out. “I see nothing amiss. What is the problem?”
          “Oh, it’s not me. You should try next door, though,” Marty said. “I heard moaning and crying and talk of a law suit or something.”
          The nurse nearly swallowed her tongue and left as quickly as her stubby little legs would carry her.
          “You have to stop doing that, Marty!” Violet chastised. “You’re sending the hospital into turmoil.”
          “I’ll stop as soon as someone entertains me…someone who is currently dating my darling son-in-law,” Marty said, grinning coyly and again patting the bed.
          “Blackmail, huh?” Violet said, narrowing her eyes, a grim smile appearing. “I won’t play that game. You will learn nothing about me from me. So there!”
          “Pretty much has us in a vise grip, Grandma,” Simon said, his expression surprisingly triumphant, though Violet couldn’t understand why. “So I guess we’ll just have to surmise by observation. Dr. Larimar says I’m rather good at that. Good practice, I’d say.”
         “Oh, goodie!” Marty clapped her hands as if getting ready to watch her favorite game show.
        “Nah, we don’t gotta do that,” Ronnie interjected. “I know plenty already about her, now that I know she was the one Dad was telling us about at spring break at the Grand Canyon. You remember, dontya, Simon?”
        “Indeed I do,” he replied, smirking as he stared intently at Violet who seemed to shrink under his gaze. “At first we thought Dad was in love with a married woman.”
         Violet didn’t much like the sound of this, but remained quietly stubborn, or stubbornly quiet—she couldn’t tell which. Violet wondered if it would be better to tell her side of the story or run screaming from the room! She decided to not give them the satisfaction of either, and she sat down in the chair Catherine had vacated, her hands neatly folded on her lap.
        “A married woman?” Marty shrieked. “Oh, I already like this better than Days of our lives!”
         “Oh, but she isn’t,” Ronnie said quickly. “Her husband died and his ghost is haunting her and Dad, too.”
          Violet gasped and had been about to refute this, before she remembered her vow to not tell them anything. She set her mouth in a grim line, pressing her lips together.
           “But I’m jumping the gun. Violet is Sophie’s mom!” Ronnie said, then remembering he shouldn’t be so excited about this fact he nonchalantly added, “I think I told you about her, Gramma, back in fifth grade she was the first kid to invite me to her birthday party. It was a piece of cake after that to fit in.”
           “And you’ve been hopelessly in love with her ever since,” Simon teased.
           “Am not!” Ronnie roared.
           “And if Dad has his way and marries Violet, Sophie will be your step-sister and completely off limits. Pity, but she’s way out of your league anyway.”
           “Shut it!” Ronnie snapped, taking a menacing step toward his brother, fists clenched and at the ready.
           “So, tell me about her husband. Who was he?” Marty said, as if her grandson’s weren’t about to kill each other.
          “Richie Bennett, he was the best coach I ever had,” Ronnie said, instantly forgetting he wanted to smash in his brother’s face.
          “He was never your coach! What the hell are you talking about?” Simon said.
         “He was everybody’s coach. Any time he saw a kid struggling with something—like me and my swing-- even if the kid wasn’t on his team, he would help,” Ronnie said.
        “Kids were more important to Richard than a silly game,” Violet whispered.
        Three heads turned in her direction, as if they’d forgotten she was there.
         “He was the best,” Ronnie said, smiling at her.
         Marty frowned. “How did he die?”
         “He was a firefighter. He’s the one who died saving the little Franklin girl and her dog,” Simon explained. “The town built the gazebo at the park in his honor. Da…” He cast a furtive glance toward Violet, only just stopping himself in time and added, “some anonymous donor gave them the money for it.”
        “Oh, how sad,” Marty said. “And how long ago was this?”
        “Couple of years, at least,” Simon said with a careless shrug.
        “No, it’s only been one year, three months, two weeks and three days,” Ronnie said, before he could stop himself.
         Simon and Marty stared at him until he turned red in the face. “How the hell do you know that?” Simon asked.
         “I just told him while at the cafeteria,” Violet said, feeling the need to save Ronnie some embarrassment. “It was just two weeks before Sophie's and his graduation so…easy to remember that.”
         “So, she’s already told you loads of stuff? How about sharing?” Simon suggested irritably.
         “Not tons,” Ronnie nervously said. “Just that she’s not gonna marry Dad.”
         “I didn’t say that!” Violet shouted.
         “So…. you are going to marry him?” Marty asked excitedly, as if already making plans for what to wear to the occasion.
         “I…” Violet belated remembered she didn’t want to tell them anything. She made a zipping motion over her lips, locked it and threw away the key.
         Ronnie laughed, but Marty looked annoyed and Simon, down right furious.
         “So…what? You’re just using him for the sex?” Simon asked. “Or his money?”
          Violet gasped, then blushed rosy pink. Oh, how she wished she’d fall through the floor just now.
         “Don’t insult her like that! She’s no dinner whore,” Ronnie shouted. “Can’t you tell she loves him? She wouldn’t have gone off for the weekend with Dad if she didn’t. She’s not that kind of lady.”
         Violet stared at him astonished. How in the world he thought that with such certainty when he barely knew her was anyone’s guess.
          “I know exactly what it is,” Marty said, sighing sadly. “I felt the same when my dear Henry passed away before his time. No man could ever replace him in my heart.”
           Violet cheeks turned scarlet. She was having second thoughts about staying.
          “You’ve had loads of boyfriends, Grandma,” Simon reminded her.
In bed was a different story. None were good enough to marry, though. Violet might feel the same about your father,” Marty replied and three sets of eyes glowered at Violet, as if she had just insulted Victor.
          It was no use. She couldn’t take any more of this. She stood and headed for the door, but just then Victor stepped inside with a troupe of doctors and nurses behind him. As the doctors hovered annoyingly about Marty--Violet flew into his arms and hid her face in his chest.
          “Violet, what’s wrong?” he said, looking at the others. “What have you done to her?”
          “Nothing,” Simon said, shaking his head and glaring at his brother who wore the guiltiest look imaginable.
          “We were talking amongst ourselves and she was sitting like a prim and proper statue waiting for you to return, refusing to talk to us. I’ve never seen such rude behavior in all my life,” Marty said, then she swatted a thermometer wielding nurse away only to have her other arm seized for blood pressure monitoring. “All of you out of here right this minute! I’m perfectly fine as you can well see.”
         “Now that you're being cared for properly, we’ll leave now, Marty,” Victor said sternly, his arm protectively about Violet.
         “But you can’t leave me like this!” she whined, “I want to go home.”
         “And you will,” Victor said, “when it can be determined you are well enough to leave and when you no longer feel the need to act ill. Good night, Sweetheart. We’ll be back in the morning.”
          He left, taking Violet with him and his sons following meekly behind them. Marty’s wails could be heard even after the elevator doors closed and started descending.
          “So, you knew she was faking it?” Violet asked.
          Victor grinned. “I’m no dummy, despite what my boys may think.”
          “I never said…” Ronnie stopped and looked at the numbers alighting overhead.
          “I love Marty to pieces, Violet, but she’s a piece of work, especially when she and Catherine are going head to head. With Catherine gone, however, she’ll soon learn to behave or she’ll regret it,” Victor said.
          “She still doesn’t deserve to be tossed into an old folk’s home, Dad,” Simon muttered angrily. “I’m quitting school and going to live with Grandma, then Mom won’t be able to put her away.”
          “Simon, that’s ridiculous,” Victor said, as the elevator door opened and two weepy people came inside and all discussion ceased.
          The elevator stopped on the way down two more times picking up so many people that Violet was nearly crushed into the back between Victor and Ronnie. She didn’t mind, though. At the ground floor they all scrambled out and breathed easy again. Unfortunately, as they walked through the lobby, out of the revolving doors and into the parking lot the abandoned conversation started again as if there hadn’t been any break to it at all.
          “I’m doing this, Dad. I won’t let Mom…” Simon started.
          “No, I should do this,” Ronnie said, nervously chewing on the side of his mouth as he stared at his father, drumming up the courage to go on. “I think I gotta tell you something, Dad, like why I was in the city today.”
         “You’ve quit school already, haven’t you?” Victor said, seemingly resigned to it.
          “Not officially…yet,” Ronnie said. “Will you tell Mom?”
          “No, you’re doing that and you’re doing it before you leave,” Victor said. “I know you don’t belong at that school, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to some school, any school. You are not getting out of this that easy.”
          “But, Dad, someone has to stay with Gramma or she’ll be…”
          “I won’t let that happen. There are other options. A live-in companion would be good,” Victor said.
          “You actually think Grandma will put up with that? You’re dreaming, Dad!” Simon said.
          “A visiting nurse home service then,” Victor suggested, but both boys shook their heads.
          “She won’t like being treated like an invalid and she doesn’t want strangers trampling around her house,” Ronnie said. “You know she needs to be around people and more importantly to feel useful.”
           Violet looked from one to the other as they argued back and forth, shaking her head in wonder. “Are you all truly this dumb?” she said, at last.
           Three pairs of eyes zeroed in on her silently asking her what she meant by that.
           “Well, isn’t it obvious?” she said, her hands firmly planted on her hips.
The Romanoff men exchanged looks then looked back to her, clearly not having any clue what she was talking about.
           She rolled her eyes and sighed. “Obviously not or you’d have figured it out on your own. No one has to quit school and no one has to be put out to pasture or whatever. Marty can feel loved and useful and not be alone anymore, but still have her freedom, and not have to endure strangers or feeling like a burden. It’s actually almost perfect.”
         “What is?” Victor asked.
          “Marty should live with you, Victor,” Violet said.
          They gaped at her in stunned silence.
          “It’s almost perfect really,” Violet continued. “She won’t be living alone anymore. We’re always around, and she can have reign over that huge house of yours, which you said yourself needs a woman’s touch.”
         “And Gramma’s all about interior decorating,” Ronnie interjected. “She’ll love that!”
         “And you said she loves people, so I thought maybe I could get her interested in volunteering at Weston Botanical. She could lead senior’s groups through the conservatory or be a greeter or whatever, and she doesn’t have to know anything about flowers.”
         “Grandma knows flowers,” Simon said. “Especially orchids. You should see her collection.”
         Violet’s eyes widen. “Does she really? Victor, you never told me that!”
         “I hardly thought that was relevant to…well, anything,” he retorted, apparently miffed about something. “This is all fine and good, Violet, but I was hoping you’d move in with me.”
         “Hence the almost perfect part,” Simon muttered under his breath.
         “We’ve already discussed this, Victor,” she hissed, wishing the boys weren’t listening just then. “It’s not gonna happen.”
          Ronnie stared from one to the other frowning. “Well, it’s a big house, big enough for all three of you. But if you want to be really alone sometimes, couldn’t ya just sleep over Violet’s house sometimes?” he said.
          Violet blushed crimson. “It was just a thought. I thought it would be a good thing for all involved,” she mumbled.
           “A real good thought,” Ronnie said. “I think Gramma will like it.”
           “Yes, she might, indeed,” Victor said, thoughtfully, “but would your mother?”
          “She will if the only alternative is me quitting school, but you have to make sure you’ll be okay with Grandma living with you, Dad,” Simon said. “I swear I will quit and you can’t stop me. I gladly will if it means keeping Grandma happy.”
            Violet shocked them all when she went up to Simon, went up on tip-toe and kissed his cheek saying, “You’re such a loving, caring young man, Simon. No wonder your father is so incredibly proud of you, but you don’t have to worry about Marty and you don’t have to quit school. Your father and I will make sure she’s happy and safe. You just worry about becoming the best psychiatrist there ever was.”
           Simon blinked at her, his icy facade evaporating, perhaps for the first time ever. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly so she could barely breathe. 
           “I may start liking you after all. I just need to work on your resolve not to marry my dad,” he whispered for her ears only.
          Violet gulped. What in the world did that mean?

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