Monday, September 30, 2013

Ch181 Don’t start!

“Victor, I was looking for you,” Catherine said.

“Don’t start with me,” Victor snapped. “I won’t apologize for keeping you in the dark. Marty has every right to do as she pleases. She merely asked me not to tell you where she was and what she was doing. Not that she had to. I wasn’t going to blow her chance of a happy honeymoon by telling you. As a matter of fact, I’m surprised she came back so soon, but I know they didn’t want to miss this party.”

She blinked at him, her large blue eyes wide in surprise. “Well, that’s not what I wished to talk to you about, but since you brought it up, it seems Mother has put aside her foolish romantic notions and actually has chosen the only person remotely suitable for her.”

He gaped at her. “Are you saying you like Morris and approve of him?”

“Well…” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand which Catherine probably didn’t yet realize is exactly what her mother always does. “He’s certainly not my father. Mother obviously wants to share the rest of her life with a friend and companion, one who could give her more out of life, instead of a love interest who would only drain her own reserves.”

“How do you figure that?” Victor said, incredulous.

“Well, he’s obviously not after her money. He’s got enough of his own,” she retorted.

Victor slowly shook his head. “You think so, huh?”

“Well, yes, Andrew told me all about him. Morris Kramer is beyond wealthy.”

“No, Cat, I meant you really think this has nothing to do with romance? You don’t think they are in love?”

“At their age?” she scoffed.

“Stop right there,” Victor said, holding his hand up. “You of all people should know Marty is all about love and never would she hitch her wagon to any old geezer just for friendship and because he’s got money.”

“Hitch her wagon? You’ve been hanging with country hicks for far too long, Victor,” she muttered.

He glared at her. “And your disdain for country folks is beyond the pale, especially when you chose to live out here amongst them. If you hate it here so much, why do you stay? I more than half expected you to move back to the city once I moved here, if only to keep the kids away from me.”

She took a deep breath designed to control her temper, but it also served to distract Victor who couldn’t help looking at her cleavage.

“Nice dress. Did Andy melt you before pouring you into it?” he asked, mockingly.

“Andrew always manages to melt me, but I didn’t seek you out tonight to argue with you, Victor,” she said, wearily.

“Really, that would be a first then,” he said, looking over her shoulder and wishing he was back with the kids, if he couldn’t be with Violet. “So, what do you want? I have a party to get back to.”

Catherine stepped closer. “I just had a very interesting conversation with the most adorable little boy.”

Victor raised both eyebrows in astonishment. “Since when do you talk to kids? Since when do you listen to them? You never listen to your own.”

“Don’t you start that!” she muttered angrily, but the anger was short-lived. “I’m serious, Victor. This little boy was so cute. He reminded me so much of Simon when he was little and he…”

“Peter,” Victor stated grimly, only imagining where this was going and not liking it at all, he angrily added, “What about him?”

“He’s under the impression you’re going to adopt him. I thought you should know,” she said, lowering her voice in case of eavesdropping.

“He’s not under the impression. It’s true. He is as good as mine, legally by Christmas time is my hope,” Victor said, narrowing his eyes. “Don’t start on that either. I’m warning you.”

Catherine gaped. “So…you really are adopting him?” she said, and for whatever reason she sounded rather disappointed.

“And his older brother and sister.”

Her mouth fell open. “Three kids! You are not serious!”

“Do I look like I’m kidding around? Yes, they will be living with me as soon as I get their rooms ready. I’m making plans on building a bigger house to accommodate them plus Ronnie and Simon should they wish to visit. Might I add, this and nothing else I do is any of your concern. You needn’t worry about our sons who will make it on their own quite nicely and won’t need to rely on my money to make their way in this world.”

Catherine wasn’t listening. Her head was bowed and she stared at the toes of Victor’s white shoes which stuck out from under his bell-bottom polyester pants which sparkled with rhinestones.

When he got no reply he made to move around her, but she grabbed his arm and looked up. Victor was stunned to see her eyes overflowing and a tear fall from the center of each of her large blue eyes, eyes which he suddenly realized looked ever so much like Simon’s and Peter’s.

“Cat, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“Does that mean you and your…uh, chippy are…”

“Violet! Her name is Violet!” he growled.

She blinked at him stupidly and shook her head. “No, she said her name was Helen. I just talked to her.”

Victor groaned and covered his face with his hand. “For the love of…”

“So, this is how it’s going to be?” came an angry voice behind them.

They both jumped and turned to see the woman of whom they were talking…Catherine was, anyway.

“Now what, Helen? I thought I made it clear…” Victor started to say, in exasperated tones.

“So, now it’s this one?” Helen shrieked, looking Catherine up and down with venom.

Victor looked from his ex-wife to Helen and smiled, a light bulb suddenly lighting the way. “Yes, Helen, you finally see me for what I am; an incurable womanizer. It’s better you know now,” he said, giving Catherine a sharp look when she made a face which clearly said What-the- hell-are-you-talking-about.  He glared at her silently pleading, “Play along, will ya?”

Catherine smiled, catching on and nodded ever so slightly. Then she reached up a hand and caressed his cheek before smacking it none too gently. She then propped her hands on her hips and shouted, “You two-timing bastard! How many more of your whores are ya planning on strutting in front of me, huh? I told you what would happen the next time I caught you, didn't I?”

Stunned, and yet delighted, he managed to smile and looking at Helen, he shrugged, “I can’t count that high, Cat. What can I say? Me so horny.”

“You are so not what I thought you were, Victor. You said you wanted… a family and... but you just lied to me,” Helen said.

“He lies all the time, Honey. He’s a lawyer, remember?” Catherine said, barely able to keep from laughing. It was just too much fun!

“I think we’re through, then,” Helen said, although not with much conviction and she stayed glued to the spot as if hoping Victor would beg her forgiveness and make her stay. 

Catherine rolled her eyes. Helen still looked desperate to find some way to keep Victor. The stupid girl. Couldn’t she tell Victor just was not into her? She’d fix that, though, as she so often had done before. She wrapped her arms around his neck, said, “Bad boys are good for only one thing I guess and I just can't get enough of this one. He’s mine for tonight. You can have him...whenever I'm done, girly,” then she kissed him. 

She didn’t release Victor until she heard a sharp intake of breath, the swift clicking sound of high heeled shoes on tile walking away and the slam of the front door.

“There now,” Catherine said, pulling back and needlessly fussing with his collar. “Don’t say I never did anything nice for you.”

“If you thought she was my girlfriend…why then…”

“The look on your face. I’ve seen it a million times, Victor, whenever one of my so-called friends hit on you behind my back.”

He stared at her in astonishment. “You knew all those times and never said anything?”

“What for? You never took them up on the offer,” she retorted.

“How in the world do you know that?”

She laughed softly. “One thing I know about you is still true even after all these years. You are incurably loyal and faithful even to your own detriment.”

They stared at each other until Catherine drew in a deep breath again and Victor’s eyes automatically went down to her chest. Really, the man just couldn't help it.

“So, back to your chippy,” she said. 

“Stop calling her that!”

“It’s obviously not Helen. So who is she? Not Shirley Temple?”

“I already said...yes, Shirley...I mean Violet, but why do you want to know? Planning on filling her in on my bad points?”

“No, of course not. It’s true it isn’t my business, but I would like to know who my sons’ new step-mother will be. Peter told me you were going to marry her.”

Victor ground his back teeth in irritation. “I’m working on it,” he mumbled.

“You mean you haven’t asked yet?”

“I mean…” he stopped and wondered why he should tell her anything, except that she did just get rid of Helen for him and that was worth a fist full of diamonds. “She hasn’t said yes yet…and may never do so.”

Shocked, Catherine frowned. “Why the hell not? What’s wrong with her?”

He scoffed. “Says the woman who divorced me.”

“Victor…” she sighed and shook her head. “We’ve strayed a bit from the original topic.”

“And what was that? I lost track,” he muttered angrily.

“Peter,” she said, and a sadness came into her eyes again.

“What about him?” he muttered through clenched teeth. “He’s a great kid.”

“I figured that out straight away. That’s why I asked him if he’d like a new mommy,” she said.

Fury blazed through him like lava. “What the hell are you doing that for?” he roared. “Most of these kids have lost their mothers tragically, and their fathers too, and you callously bring it up like it’s nothing?”

“No! Not callously. I was trying to see if he would like me for a mother,” she said, defensively.

His jaw dropped and he stared at her nonplussed for a full minute. “What are you… Cat…therine, what is this about?”

“I…I’ve been trying to get pregnant since Andrew and I married and…”

“Why should you have trouble? You didn’t with me and… oh,” he said.

“Exactly. Andrew won’t admit it, but he’s very disappointed and time's running out. He loves kids and always wanted at least one, but he doesn’t want to have to do anything unnatural. If we can’t have a baby the normal way he won't do it. Now we're looking into adoption. And the first one we took a liking to was Peter. He actually looks like he could be our kid, you know?”

Victor stared at her wondering what the hell she was saying. “You’re not thinking I’ll give up Peter so you can adopt him, surely!”

She shook her head. “No, not if you’re already in the process. Besides, he obviously loves you.”

He frowned. “Then what is it?”

She shrugged. “I just wanted to see if…” she stared up at him, searching his face for something. “Are you in love with your chip…I mean…Virginia?”

He rolled his eyes. “Violet, and yes, very much so,” he said

She sighed in relief. “Then you’re finally over me.”

“Is that what this is all about? You needn’t have worried. Yes, I was heartbroken for a good long time, but then I saw Violet. Even though she was not…available at the time.”

She frowned. “But she is now, isn’t she?”

He moved his head from side to side. “Yes and no. It’s complicated.”

“She doesn’t love you?”

“That is up for debate,” he muttered.

“You don’t think she does?”

“I know she does, but she’s reluctant to admit it. She just…she’s still in mourning for her husband.”

“The firefighter who died rescuing that little girl. Yes, Andrew told me. How sad. But it’s been over a year, hasn’t it? And you've been dating for a while now, haven't you?”

He stared at her wondering why all the questions if she already knew more than she should. Thank you, small town gossips!

“She won’t let go of him…yet,” he said. “I still don’t see what all this has to do with you, Catherine. We’ve been divorced for over a decade and it’s clear to me now, you never really loved me anyway. So why…”

“Why do you say that?” she shrieked, looking rather guilty.

“I suspected it for a while now, Cat…therine. Then Marty’s situation made me…”

“What do you mean, her situation?”

He smiled at her. “You have no idea how similar you are to your own mother, do you?”

“We’re like day and night, Victor. You’ve said it yourself!”

“Not in essentials. I had started to say before, but we got sidetracked. Marty and Morris are most definitely in love and have been for most of their lives. They’ve known each other and been in love since high school, maybe even grade school. I’m not entirely sure.”

“That's impossible! My mother only ever loved my father. She met him at college and…”

“Only after Morris’ family put an end to their love by separating them. They shipped him off to war and Marty…eventually gave up on Morris and met your father,” he said calmly, watching as this revelation stunned her into silence. “There was a lot of resentment between them because she didn’t wait for him, but his family made sure of that when they lied to her and told her he had died in the war. So, to help heal the hurt, she married your father. I'm not saying she never loved your dad. I’m sure she did, but her first love was Morris and always will be. Just like you and Andy.”

For several seconds Catherine’s lips moved but no sound came out. “Did she…she told you all of this?”

“About her and Morris, yes. About you and Andy, I figured most of it myself, with a little help from the final puzzle piece which Andy provided tonight. Now it all makes sense.”

“What? How?”

“I heard him talking to Morris. He said that your father hated him. I never knew he knew your dad.  I know your father died a few months before you left me. Coincidence? I didn’t think so then and I’m sure of it now. You married me because your father approved of me, saw potential in me or whatever. But he didn’t see that in Andy. He hated him, in fact. So, he forced you to relinquish your high school love, and to never see him again, which you did, until your father conveniently died so you could go back to him. Nice of Andy to wait for you all that time, through a marriage and two sons.”

“He didn’t. He…he had…girlfriends and relationships,” she mumbled, looking down at his shoes again.

“Yes, what sane man wouldn’t without knowing what the future holds? Although I wouldn’t doubt you had some sort of contact with Andy while we were still married.”

Her head snapped up. “I never cheated on you!” she shouted.

He paused for a minute and smiled. “I believe it. Don’t worry, Cat, I know the boys are mine, even though you tried all you could to make them Andy’s. Now I understand why.” 

Oddly, he was no longer bitter about it, now knowing the reason for all her manipulations and bitchy behavior and whatever else she did to make his life miserable.

Tears filled her eyes so suddenly it shocked Victor into silence, not that there was much more for him to say.

“I never meant to hurt you, Victor,” she mumbled, wiping away a tear. 

 “No, don’t suppose you did,” he said quietly.

"I did care very much for you. Still do."

He cleared his throat feeling suddenly uncomfortable. “Well, I can suggest you talk to Louis and Flora. They have connections and can help you find a child to adopt. They can even put you on a waiting list for a baby, if you want to go that way.”

She sighed. "You don't want to know how many waiting lists we're already on. That's why we're giving up on a baby and turning to an older kid."

"Well, all of these have siblings so they come as a package deal. Don't suppose you want..."

“I might. Are they here, these adoption people?” she asked with a sniff.

“Yup. The hippy flower child is Flora and the beatnik is Reverend Louis. I’ll introduce you to them, if you like. They’re wonderful people,” he said and nearly choked on his last words as she stepped closer and hugged him warmly around the middle. He couldn’t remember the last time she had done that…a few months before the divorce, he imagined. 

He stiffly placed his arms around her and wondered what Simon and Ronnie would say if they could see them now.

©2013 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved       

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