“Mom, please don’t cry,” Sophie said, checking the time on the clock beside her bed while her weepy mother held her in a vise-grip embrace. “I have so much to tell you.”
“But I’m so happy,” Violet cried. “I’ve missed you so much and now you’re coming home. It’s so wonderful! It’ll be just like it used to be.”
Sophie grimaced and gently pushed her mother out of her arms. “Mom, I didn’t mean I was going back to Catalpa Valley.”
“What? Of course you’re coming back to Catalpa Valley. Where else would you go?” Violet said, wiping at her wet face with the back of her hand.
Sophie sighed and stood up, grabbing a box of tissues from the bedside table by the window. She handed a tissue to her mom, then sat back down. “When I said I was going to New York, Mom, I meant New York City. Me and the guys are going to live in New York City.”
Violet blinked stupidly. “Whatever for?”
“Pitiful,” Richard mumbled, audible only to Sophie who very nearly laughed. “Leave it to your mother to think there is absolutely nothing to do in the most active, alive and exciting city in the world, and everything to go back to in bo-dunk Catalpa Valley.”
“To live and work, of course, Mom,” Sophie replied.
“But what about school? And work doing what?” Violet asked.
“That’s one of the many things I want to tell you, and there’s not much time to do it all,” Sophie muttered as she once again glanced at the clock on the nightstand.
“Why? Do you perform tonight?”
“Well…no, but,” Sophie said, biting down on her bottom lip. “We’ve been invited to a dinner party tonight.”
“A dinner party?” Violet said, her tone half skeptical, half bewildered. “Why…who would…where?”
Sophie laughed. “That’s what I gotta tell you about, and I would if you’d stop interrupting. Have you heard of…” She paused, suddenly feeling a warmth flood through her.
Richard just then placed his hands on his daughter’s thin shoulders whispering, “Don’t tell your mother about that yet. It’ll only alarm her. Tell her about your bandmates first, then ease into it.”
“Heard of what, Honey?” Violet asked.
Sophie smiled and touched her mother’s fingers, stroking them just as she always saw her father do when he had something to tell her. “Remember I told you about my bandmates?”
“Um…yes?” Violet said, although she certainly didn’t and could use a refresher before meeting them so she didn’t feel like a complete idiot.
Sophie saw from the expression on her mother’s face that she remembered very little, if anything of what she had told her. “Well, I think I should start there, ‘cause there’s been some changes that you’ll want to know.”
“Yes, that would be good,” Violet said in relief.
Sophie smiled. “Okay, let’s start with Scumbug who is still the leader and…”
“Seriously?” Violet said, making a face. “You expect me to call your friend Scumbug?”
Sophie laughed. “We usually just call him Bug, if that’s any better,” she suggested.
“It most certainly is not! I’d sooner call him…Bug-a-boo or something!” Violet shouted.
Sophie doubled over laughing. “Oh, he’ll love that, Mom! Anything’s better than his real name he says.”
“What is his real name?” Violet asked plaintively. “Tell me or I swear I will call him Bug-a-boo!”
“Uh…I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I’ll tell you how you can tell the guys apart. Bug plays lead guitar, has spiky blond hair and a rose tattoo on his bicep.”
“Bug-a-boo, rose tattoo. Got it,” Violet said, as if making mental notes.
“Rick is the bass player and he’s huge,” Sophie continued, trying not to laugh. “He looks like a menacing bodyguard, but don’t let that fool you. He’s just a sweet, big, old teddy bear.”
“Ricky, the big teddy bear. Okay,” Violet added to her list.
“Elian is the new drummer and you can easily tell him from the others cuz he’s the skinniest guy you’ll ever see!”
“So says the skinniest girl ever seen,” Violet muttered, rolling her eyes.
“No, Mom, really,” Sophie said, her eyes wide. “You’ll never call me skinny again after seeing Sticks.”
Violet blinked stupidly. “You call him Sticks because he’s skinny or because he plays the drums?”
“Yes, both. His arms are about as thick as his drum sticks so…just wait til you see him,” Sophie said.
“Okay, Elian, the stickman,” Violet said with a shrug.
“Next is John who plays the keyboards.”
Violet waited for more, then frowned. “Is that it? How will I know it’s him?”
“Uh…well, he’s kinda average, average looks, average height, nothing that sticks out. Oh, except he wears these funky glasses and sometimes outrages clothes, plus he’s kinda cute in a goofy sorta way, but he’s very talented especially on the piano.”
“You just described Sir Elton John. Is John gay too?”
“Mom!” Sophie shouted, scandalized.
“Never mind. John plays the piano just like Elton John, that’ll make it easy for me, ” Violet said shrugging. “Anyone else?”
Sophie smiled. “I saved the best for last. That’s Danny who is new and has really turned things around for us. He plays everything that blows and...”
“You know… sax, flute, clarinet, trumpet…anything he has to blow into to make a sound, and he writes songs, but not just any songs, Mom. He writes some of the most beautiful love songs ever! You’ll love them.”
“Can’t wait to hear some of them,” Violet said.
“And get this, Mom! He writes them for me to sing,” Sophie said, excited as all get-out.
“Doesn’t Danny sing his own songs?” Violet asked sipping her tea.
“Oh, no! He never sings, like ever, not even backup,” Sophie insisted.
“Hmm…I guess it would be difficult when he’s playing all those instruments…unless, he can’t sing?” Violet suggested, a tiny crease marring her forehead.
“Not sure if he can’t or just won’t, but you’ll like him. He’s a bit shy, but nice and funny and so talented. Me and him get along really well. Oh, and guess what! He even asks what I think about the lyrics and how to sing the songs, so it’s like I’m writing the songs too. Isn’t that so cool?”
“My daughter, the song collaborator. Very cool,” Violet said and they both giggled.
“So, that’s it,” Sophie said. “Now we should get dressed.”
“Wait, you still haven’t told me who is giving this dinner party and why and who will be there other than the two of us.”
“It’s for the guys and you and me. It’s Bug’s father who’s giving it,” Sophie said, going to her closet and looking inside. She grimaced closing the closet again and brightened when going to her mother’s luggage and setting it down on her bed. “Let’s find a nice dress for you to wear. I’m sure you brought a few…and maybe you’ve got one for me.”
“Oh, honey, anything I have will look like a muumuu on you,” Violet said, sipping the last of her tea.
“We’ll see,” Sophie said, tugging the zipper around the suitcase. “We should look good. I told the guys to wear dress slacks and a nice button-down shirt with a tie. If I hadn’t they would show up in ripped jeans and stained t-shirts. Not impressive at all!”
“And why must we impress Mr…uh…Mr. Bug-a-boo?” Violet asked pointedly. “You still have not told me Bug-a-boo’s real name. Now, why is that? Is it a state secret?”
“Bug wishes it was, I’m sure,” Sophie muttered.
Sophie sighed and cast a quick glance at her mother. “Because his father is…Mom, promise not to freak out, okay?”
“Freak out?” she shrieked.
“Yes, just like that,” Sophie said, rolling her eyes.
“Why would I freak out? Unless…Is he…is he a Mafioso?” Violet whispered.
“No, Mom, nothing that bad!” Sophie hastened to say.
“Hmm, then politician is out, because we all know they are far worse than the mob,” Violet muttered.
Sophie shook her head in defeat. “Oh, Mom.”
“So, why is Bug-a-boo embarrassed by his father?”
Sophie took in a deep breath and expelled it slowly before speaking. “Because Bug’s real name is Laurence Prescott Van Gholston, the third.” She frowned at the pensive look on her mother’s face. “Did you hear me, Mom?”
“Yes…” she said slowly. “Since he doesn’t like Laurence we could…well, perhaps he wouldn’t mind if we called him Scott. That’s a nice name…short for Prescott which does sound rather stuffy. I don’t blame him for disliking it so, but worse than Scumbug? Hardly!”
Sophie gaped open mouthed. “Mom, that is completely beside the point. His father is Laurence P. Van Gholston… the second!”
“Yes, that is what the third after a name implies, that they both have the same name as did the grandfather who any idiot knows is the first in the line. So what?”
Sophie hid her face in her hands and shook her head. “Seriously, Mom? You don’t know who LP Van Gholston is?”
“Should I? Sounds like an old fashioned vinyl record…Danish or something? I can never tell,” Violet sniffed, frowning as the name did kind of ring a bell, although a rather weak one.
“You have to know him. He’s Miami’s version of Donald Trump!”
“Well, that explains it,” Violet said dismissively. “I don’t exactly move in The Donald’s inner circle, now do I?” She suddenly stopped when she recalled spotting the man in question at a business function Victor had taken her to and he had offered to introduce her to The Donald.
“You mean you actually know Donald Trump?” she said in a furious whisper.
Victor laughed, but shook his head. “Actually, no, I don’t, but my ex knew his wife…one of his wives…don’t recall which one.”
“Gees, Mom, you really do live under a rock, don’t you?” Sophie said, staring at her, totally bewildered.
“Huh?” Violet said, coming out of her reverie.
“I said you must live in a bubble,” Sophie said, lifting the cover of the suitcase and looking through the clothes. “Guess I didn’t have to worry after all. I thought you’d freak out cuz, you know, they’re, like, so rich and famous and all. Bug is really nervous about this dinner, though, and meeting his dad after so many years.”
“Why have they not…”
“Oh, my God! Where did you get this dress?” Sophie shouted with glee, pulling the dress out and lifting it to her chin. Then she went to the mirror to look at her reflection. “It’s gorgeous!”
Violet—slightly panicked, her face turning scarlet-- had completely forgotten that her suitcase was filled with clothes Victor had bought for her. How in the world would she explain her new and extremely expensive wardrobe to her fashion conscious daughter?
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