Both boys smirked as they helped Violet into the car, Victor glaring at them, Violet blushing. “I’m only dropping off Violet at home and coming right back home. We,” he said, significantly looking at Ronnie, “need to talk.”
Ronnie’s face fell, but Simon chuckled triumphantly.
“We’ll see you, tomorrow, Ms. Bennett,” Simon said.
“Oh, I’m not sure I will. I have to work,” she said. “Perhaps I can make dinner for you all.”
They gaped at her. “But you have to come with us to the hospital! You have to convince Gramma it’s a good idea to move in with Dad,” Ronnie said.
“Me? Why me?” she shrieked.
“Ms. Bennett, our grandmother is stubborn, in case you missed that, and she’ll take the suggestion much better coming from you, an unbiased party,” Simon explained rationally.
“But why would she listen to me?” Violet asked. “She doesn’t even like me, and besides, I just told you I have work. I can’t just…”
“I’m sure Walter will be accommodating, Violet. This is a family matter, after all. He’ll understand family obligations,” Victor said.
“Marty isn’t my family, though,” she said. To her astonishment the boys gasped as if she’d just called their beloved grandmother a vile name. “But it’s true! She’s nothing to me…not even an acquaintance yet.”
“You just have to get to know her and then you’ll be best friends,” Victor soothingly replied.
“Are you kidding me?” Violet shouted. “We’re nothing alike.”
“Yes, you are. You’re just seeing her in a bad light at the moment,” Victor assured.
“You’re Dad’s girlfriend, that makes you family, so you gotta come with us,” Ronnie said.
“That really is all there is to it, Ms. Bennett. We need you,” Simon added.
Violet looked from one expectant face to the next wondering how in the world this happened. “What am I supposed to do?” she squeaked.
Ronnie grinned. “We’ll talk it over…over breakfast!” he shouted as he and his brother headed for Simon’s car.
Victor went around to the driver’s side and got in only to find her agitated and almost frightened. “Sweetheart, this isn’t brain surgery we’re expecting from you.”
“No, it’s worse!” she said. “How in the world am I to out-manipulate the grand dame of manipulators?”
He laughed as he pulled out of the parking lot, following the boys onto the nearly empty street. “But we don’t expect you to do that and neither will she. There lies the beauty of the scheme. My sweet Violet speaks no evil and is only interested in what is good for all involved. Marty will see this and take her cue that this is the best option.”
Violet looked at him and even in the darkened interior she could tell he wasn’t as convinced of this being a good idea as he let on. “You’re worried, though. I’m sorry. I should have suggested it to you in private first, without the boys there,” she said, biting her bottom lip. “I wasn’t thinking…I guess I kinda sabotaged you.”
“No, you didn’t. Now that I think of it, her moving in with me would be nice for both of us and most importantly alleviates the boys’ fear of their mother sticking her in a home. I do worry about her reaction though….my ex I mean. She won’t like it, not a bit.”
“Even if her mother is fine with it and she knows she’ll be well looked after?”
“Even then,” Victor replied with a sigh.
“Surely, she’s not that selfish,” Violet said.
“Hmm…not so much selfish as controlling.”
“Marty is a grown woman and obviously of sound mind. She should decide where she lives with no one telling her what to do,” Violet vehemently said.
“But, sweetheart, that’s precisely what we’re planning on doing. Telling her to come live with me is expressly against her wishes. If it was up to her she would much rather stay in her own home, living alone and doing as she pleases. That’s not an option, though.”
“Okay, I see what we have to do then. We have to show her that you need her more than she needs you,” she said, waving to the boys as they turned down the road leading to Victor’s house, while they continued up the hill to her own home.
Victor laughed. “I need her? And how are you going to do that?”
Violet smiled impishly. “You’ll see. Now, what do your boys like for breakfast?”
“No, Ronnie didn’t mean for you to feed us. We always go to the diner for breakfast…sort of a tradition with us,” Victor explained as he pulled into her driveway.
Violet made a face. “Some tradition!”
He stopped the car and jumped out. He held the door open for Violet and when she stood up he wrapped his arms around her and held her close. “I missed you,” he said.
“When did you get a chance to miss me?” she asked, bewildered. “We shared the weekend together.”
“Yes, but it was interrupted just as it was getting interesting.”
“Not that interesting, surely,” she said, pushing out of his arms.
“I beg to differ. I had grand plans,” he sighed. “And then as soon as we get back home I had to share you with my boys. Frankly, I was getting jealous of all the hugging! They were all over you.”
“Are you serious?” she shrieked.
“They got the hots for you, babe, no doubt about it,” he said, putting his arm around her waist, leading her to the door. “If you were any other type of woman, you wouldn’t even be here with me anymore. You’d be off with one or both of them.”
“Gimme a break!” she muttered taking the keys out of her purse.
He laughed and took the keys from her, deftly opening the door for her. Just as he suspected, Calendula sat at the bottom step glaring at them as they came in, her fluffy orange tail curled round her, the tip flicking back and forth irritably.
“I think I’m in trouble,” he said. “Sorry for taking Violet away from you for so long, Ginger Fluff, but that’s the way it is when you’re in love.”
The cat was not impressed and narrowed her eyes further.
“Come on, give a guy a break,” he said approaching her and tickling that special place just behind her ear. “Haven’t you ever been in love before?”
Violet laughed. “Just with anyone who finds that spot,” she replied. “I’m sure Stacy next door pampered her horribly while we were gone, so I’m not too concerned.”
“Still don’t want to be on her bad side,” he said, picking up the cat and taking her with him as he followed Violet into the kitchen where she was filling a kettle with water.
“Want some tea? Or coffee?” she asked.
“Not unless you’re planning on keeping me up all night… you know, like last night,” he said smirking. “That was very nice.”
“Is that all you men think about?” she huffed.
He nodded sadly. “Pretty much, yeah.”
She sighed. “You really need to get a better girlfriend, one who... Your boys…what must they think of me?”
“From what I could tell they fell in love with you. Couldn’t you tell?” he said petting the fluffy cat until she purred.
“No, not that. I mean…they think we’re…you know…sleeping together and I’m sure you’d like them to think we are, but…”
“But you don’t want them to. No worries. I’ll tell them you want to wait until we’re married,” he said, setting Calendula on the floor where she promptly went to her dish and mewed pathetically.
“You expect to be fed at this time of night?” Violet said to the cat. “Get real, kitty! You’re waiting until morning, which reminds me. What do your boys like for breakfast?”
He shook his head. “No, you are not making breakfast for us. We will pick you up in the morning, say around eight, and we’ll go to the diner.”
“No, I want to make breakfast,” she insisted. “So, tell me what they like.”
“Violet, no,” he said taking her by the shoulders. “You don’t know those guys. They eat like ravenous lumber jacks who have been kept prisoner for months and sustained on tiny bits of bread and water. They’ll have you cooking for hours and I won’t let you do it. Tomorrow’s a big day, after all, and you’ll need your strength for all sorts of things…packing at Marty’s place and whatever else there is to do. Once we get Marty released from the hospital…”
“But will they, release her I mean?”
“They will. They kept her overnight only because I insisted.”
Violet gaped at him. “She’ll be so ticked when she finds out!”
“But she won’t, will she?” he said, taking down two cups and placing them on the counter in front of Violet as the kettle started to whistle.
“You better hope not!” she said, shaking her head as she dropped a tea bag into each cup and poured the hot water. “I wouldn’t want to get caught crossing that lady.”
“She’s just an old pussy cat…after her feathers are no longer ruffled, that is,” he said.
“A cat with ruffled feathers?” she said. “Kinda silly, dude!”
He laughed. “You’re right, of course, but really, you just concentrate of all the pros for her moving in with me. Such as,” he said, leaning forward he scooped her up onto his lap and kissed her. She melted against him and half wished they were still at the bed and breakfast.
“You’re going to kiss her into submission?” Violet said, dreamily. “Might work.”
He laughed. “No, I thought I’d ask you one more time,” he said, expectantly.
“Ask what?” she said with trepidation, going back to her own chair.
“If you’ll move in with us?” he said, lifting her hand and bringing it to his lips.
“Victor,” she moaned. “You know I can’t, not…I can’t.”
He sighed. “I’m not giving up, Violet. One of these days you’ll give in,” he said, taking his cup and taking a big gulp. “Ow, that’s hot!”
“No kidding,” she said, stirring honey into her tea. “You’re used to lukewarm coffee. This is tea. It’s a totally different animal. Now for Pete’s sake, Victor, tell me what the boys would like for breakfast.”
“I said, no! I’m not putting you to all that trouble,” he said, sticking his burnt tongue out. “I bun my ton.”
She laughed and sipped cautiously at her own cup. “Mine’s fine. Good things come to those who wait for the tea to cool, you know.”
‘That a fact?” He stared at her in silence for several minutes as she sipped her tea and smiled at him. “You’re giving me bad ideas, honey.”
He nodded. “Can I help you upstairs?” he asked, a gleam in his eyes.
“I know the way,” she said.
“I can show you…stuff.”
“No, thanks,” she replied.
“Can I help you undress?”
“I think not.”
“Can I tuck you into bed?” he asked, wiggling his eyebrows.
“You may not.”
“What will you let me do?” he asked, shoulders slumping dejectedly.
She pointed to her cheek and grinned. “You can kiss me there.”
“Come now, you can do better than that, surely! I’m dying over here!”
She laughed, set down her empty cup then sat down on his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I’ll let you kiss me if you tell me what to make for breakfast for your boys.”
He groaned. “No, Violet, there isn’t enough food in this house for them. I’m serious!”
She laughed again. “Okay, okay. We’ll just make out like teenagers then…if you tell me what to make for dinner.”
He laughed. “Beef Stroganoff will be a great hit and you insist it is relatively easy to make…if I don’t help,” he said, smirking.
“Deal! Now kiss me like you mean it,” she said.
“Oh, baby!” he said, picking her up and sprinting out of the kitchen and up the stairs.
“Hey! What are you doing?” she shrieked.
“You said like teenagers, right? That means a twin size bed.”
She opened her mouth to protest, then shrugged. “Okay, I’m easy,” she said.
“Believe me, there’s nothing easy about you, Violet!” Victor said.