Violet nervously watched Sophie turn this way and that, holding the blue dress—Violet’s personal favorite--up to herself, the color of the dress making Sophie’s eyes sparkle so much like Richard’s always did, that it brought a pang to her chest.
“Tell the truth, Mom,” Sophie teased. “You do have a rich boyfriend… maybe The Donald himself or Mr. Kramer?” She giggled and dropped the dress onto the bed to lift out another one.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Violet said, laughing nervously.
“Oh, Mom…this one must have cost…where did you buy this? Marshalls is never this good!”
“Uh…TJ Maxx?” Violet squeaked.
Sophie burst out laughing. “Oh, Mom, I have missed the way you always can make me laugh. It is ridiculous…you with a rich boyfriend, I mean. Like those grow on trees in Catalpa Valley, right?”
“Hmm…” she said, Victor’s smiling face as he passed out toys to the kids at Mio Caro daycare and again to the Angel kids --like some well-dressed GQ Santa Claus--vividly passing in front of her mind’s eye.
“You obviously gave in to Aunt Jocelyn and went shopping with her. About time! These are gorgeous! Will you let me wear this one?”
Relief poured through Violet as she nodded, watching Sophie discard her clothes and quickly slip into the dress. “That goes down to my knees and is snug on me, but it’s mid-thigh on you and doesn’t look too big at all,” she said frowning slightly.
“If you don’t want me to wear it, I won’t,” Sophie said, misinterpreting the expression on her mother’s face.
“What? No, it’s fine. It’s just…it looks great on you.”
“And that’s bad?”
Violet laughed. “No, Honey. It’s just…well, how can the same dress look good on both of us? I mean, I’ve been told I look good in it.”
Sophie giggled and turned her back lifting her long hair out if the way so Violet could zipper it. “Oh, was it your rich boyfriend who told you that?”
“Silly girl!” she said, blushing bright pink.
“So, how do I look? Will I pass the scrutiny of The Donald or Laurence P. Van Gholston, the second? I know Bug and the guys will love it, so they don’t count,” Sophie said dismissively.
“Honey, you’re beautiful. You could be a model,” Violet said.
Sophie made a gagging sound while sticking her finger into her mouth. “I’d sooner shave my head. You think I’d want to stand around while dozens of people dress me up like a mannequin, put hideous makeup on me and yank at my hair all day? And for what? So, my image can be distorted into something unrecognizable from the real thing so teenage girls can take one look, hate their own normal bodies for not being able to look like that and then they go all anorexic. No thank you!”
Violet stared at her, wide eyed and grinned. “Gotcha, no modelling for Sophie!”
Sophie laughed. “Well, it’s your turn to dress, Mom. What will you wear?”
Violet took up the discarded blue dress. “My favorite,” she said.
“Well, hurry! The guys will be here soon to pick us up.”
Sophie wasn’t kidding. The zipper had barely been pulled up and their hair and makeup fussed with before the van was outside the dorm honking at them.
Sophie introduced her gang to her mother—all of them towering over her-- leaving Bug for last. “And this is Bug, Mom.”
Violet frowned at him and said, “I have a bone to pick with you.”
“Already?” Rick said. “It usually takes a few minutes before people have a problem with the guy.”
Sophie elbowed him in the stomach, but he didn’t even flinch.
“Um…what did I do? Sophie and me, we’re just friends…all of us! Really!” Bug assured.
Violet shook her head. “It’s about your name,” she said, propping her hands on her hips. “I refuse to call you Scumbug and Bug is no better so don’t even go there. I was thinking…can I call you Scott? And before you say no, know this. I will call you something worse…like Bug-a-boo!”
The guys roared with laughter, but Bug just stared at her, an odd expression on his face.
Yikes! She stuck her foot in her mouth this time! Now Violet didn’t know what to do. She had annoyed her daughter’s friend just before this monumental meeting with some rich dude who could easily pay to rub her out if he wanted. Brilliant move, kid!
“Scott isn’t so bad, surely?” she squeaked when he still stared at her.
“No, it’s not, but only one other person has ever called me Bug-a-boo.”
“Who would dare?” Elian asked in a stage whisper.
“My mom,” Bug answered, smiling down at Violet. “I kinda like it. Ms. Bennett, you can call me whatever you like.”
“Even Scott?” she asked.
He nodded then gave her a warm hug.
“Seriously, I did not see that coming,” Danny said, and Sophie elbowed him too. He, however, did flinch and rubbed at his painful ribs.
“Will we meet her tonight, Scott? Your mother?” Violet asked as the others hopped into the back and Bug/Scott helped her into the front seat of the van.
He shook his head. “I’m afraid not. She died when I was fifteen.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. Sophie didn’t tell me,” Violet said, glaring at her daughter for such a dreadful omission.
“Good, she wasn’t supposed to,” he replied grimly.
“Oh,” Violet said, and decided she was better off just being quiet.
Forty minutes later, they all stood outside of the van gaping open mouthed at the imposing edifice which Bug used to call home.
“Dude, you used to live here?” Rick said.
“Oh, Lordy,” Violet mumbled. “This…this is…it?”
Bug looked miserable. “Let’s not do this. Let’s…let’s just go,” he said anxiously.
Just as he turned back to the van, the front doors of the mansion opened wide and a husky man with a stiff-as-a-board posture stepped onto the top step, glaring down at them and said, in what could only be called a disapproving and rather proper tone, “Master Laurence, so good of you to come. Your father is on the veranda anxiously awaiting you arrival.”
Violet did a double take. Had she just seen Downton Abbey’s Carson the butler step back into the mansion?
“Blimey, he even sounded like him,” she muttered to herself.
“Too late to back out now, Bug…uh…I mean Master Laurence,” Elian smirked, quickly stepping away from Sophie before she elbowed him as well.
"Please, don't," Bug groaned.
“Now, Scott,” Violet said, taking his hand, leading them all up the steps, before he got the notion to leave. “This will be nice. Sophie mentioned you haven’t seen your father in a while, so I’m sure you’ll both be so happy to be together again. How long has it been?”
“I left home after Mom died, barely an hour after her funeral,” he replied.
“I see,” she mumbled, nervously. “Well, you know what they say. Time heals all wounds.”
“My grampa used to say that time wounds all heels, too,” Rick joked, just as another elbow plowed into his midsection. "Hey! Keep that boney elbow to yourself before you hurt yourself."
“Don’t tease him,” Sophie hissed. “This is hard enough for him.”
“Some wounds perhaps, Ms. Bennett,” Bug said, glumly. “Not all, though.”
Violet squeezed his hand. “Let’s hope for the best then,” she said, giving him an encouraging smile as they stepped through the massive doors.
©2013 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved ♪ ♫… …♩ ♬