Violet didn’t know what had gotten into her. She never acted so…well…she didn’t even know what to call it….looney, bossy, pushy, interfering, all things she usually wasn’t! She certainly was not feeling quite like herself and she couldn’t fathom why.
What was that business about back in the dining room, and what in the world made her think she could do anything to help? She barely knew either of those two and she was supposed to fix this five or six year old riff between an angry teenager with a huge chip on his shoulder and his arrogant, detached, billionaire father?
What on earth was she thinking?
She put her hand to her aching temple and rubbed it as her heels swiftly clipped along down the tiled corridor to the library. Odd it was that she spoke of this library as if she knew it intimately, perhaps even preferring it to all other rooms in this unfamiliar mansion, and as if she knew where it was. Odder still…she actually did know where it was…but how could that be? She had never been to this house before and she wasn’t among the tour group.
She entered a room, second massive teakwood door to the left, which could only be called a library…what with comfortable seating, amble light from the tall floor to ceiling windows plus artfully placed lamps on beautifully polished end tables, a cozy atmosphere all around and most importantly, all the books of every type imaginable lining each wall….each save one.
Violet made a face at the enormous pink-tinged fieldstone fireplace. which dominated the forth wall. It was magnificent, yes, but she wondered why anyone living in sunny USDA zone 10—or was it 11?—Miami, Florida would bother having a fireplace. She doubted the temperature ever went below seventy and who in their right mind required a blazing fire then?
“Its purpose is mostly for ambience, but there are usually several nights in December which get rather chilly…chilly for Florida natives, that is,” spoke a voice in her ear.
Violet shrugged. The fireplace and its existence was neither here nor there, of little consequence to her at the moment. She braced herself, now having gotten herself into this mess of having to deal with the two men whose footsteps she could hear coming toward her right at that very moment. She nervously fiddled with her hands, because she truly had no idea what to say to them.
“It’ll come to you. Don’t worry,” her inner voice said.
“You better be right, ‘cause…I’m at a total loss here,” Violet mumbled.
Just then Laurence walked in looking furious with Rance—his own expression annoyed and defiant-- following close behind.
“Miss Bennett…” Laurence started, but was quickly cut off.
“Miss Bennett’s a character in a Jane Austen novel as you well know. You should call me Violet,” she said, her anxiety instantly vanishing, though how that happened, she couldn’t say. She felt slightly dizzy and put a hand to her forehead again, wondering if she had yet again forgotten to take her vertigo medication.
“Ms. Bennett, are you feeling all right?” Rance asked. He approached her and placed a hand on her arm to steady her.
She suddenly smiled and gazed into his beautiful blue eyes before she cupped his face in both of her hands and kissed his forehead…or at least she tried. He was so much taller than Violet. She barely reached his chin for a small peck.
“My love, you’ve grown so much. Why must this woman be so tiny?” she muttered irritably.
“Huh?” he said, utterly confused, and more than a bit put off by her motherly yet too familiar gesture.
“Regardless of what you prefer to be called, Ms. Bennett,” Laurence said through clenched teeth. “If you think I’m going to allow…”
“At least you stopped saying irregardless. Remember that, Laurence? You used to drive me nuts, but I think after a while you did it on purpose, didn’t you? just to tease me,” Violet laughed.
Laurence gaped, his jaw actually falling open. “What did you say?”
Again, she felt a wave of dizziness sweep over her, but she blinked and the feeling was gone. “I…uh…I said you should call me Violet. That way I won’t have to call you Mr. Van Gholston. It’s rather a mouthful, don’t you think?” she retorted, pointing to the couch. “Have a seat, both of you and don’t either of you dare give me any lip. This has been going on for far too long and it has to stop.”
Laurence’s chest puffed up like an angry goose. To be ordered about by this insolent stranger in his own home was not to be born! Before he got to open his mouth, however, she held up a hand.
“Your blustering isn’t going to work this time. Some people may quake in their boots when you holler at them, but if you will recall, I never did,” she said. “You’re both going to do the listening now.”
“Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?” Laurence bellowed.
“Apparently neither one of us knows who we are talking to.”
“I beg your pardon?” he said.
“Bit slow on the uptake today, aren’t you?” Violet said, then with a sardonic laugh she added, “Like you’ve been for the past five years.”
Laurence and Rance exchanged bewildered looks, then Rance burst out laughing.
“She’s having a go at us. Must be. I mean I never met her before today. Have you?” Rance asked his father.
“Actually, we kind of have, in a way,” Laurence said. “I saw Ms. Bennett at a Hamptons charity event last summer. Her date was one of my lawyers. If this is some sort of….”
“You promised not to mention Victor!” Violet shrieked, stepping forward, but she immediately fell back into a comfy, overstuffed floral print chair, as if someone had pushed her down…an invisible someone.
“What is this?” she squeaked, rubbing her forehead, wishing it would stop aching.
“I was wondering the same thing,” Laurence said, eying her suspiciously. “If this is your idea of fun, Ms… Violet… I don’t see the humor in it.”
“I do. Sophie told me her mother was real funny, but she never mentioned she was bordering on loony,” Rance said grinning, but one quailing look from Violet, who stood up to face him properly, and he sobered instantly.
“You will be respectful, young man,” Violet said, her eyes glazing over. She stood motionless for a full minute staring at nothing. Then she slowly blinked a few times and she looked perfectly normal again.
“Now, can we start?” she said, pleasantly.
“Are you…mad?” Laurence asked.
“She’s nuts, all right, but maybe we should just do as she says, Dad, and get this over with,” Rance mumbled slipping into a wingback chair as far away from her as he could get. She was freaking him out.
“Finally, you called your father Dad as you ought to have done,” Violet said. “I thought you might have forgotten how to say it. Don’t sit there, Darling. I said the sofa, both of you, side by side, as you ought to have been all these many wasted years. Clearly, I never should have left you to your own devices, but I didn’t quite have a choice, now did I?”
Again, the men exchanged startled looks before going to the sofa and sitting down, each at their own end, and they stared at Violet, both curious to see where this was going and what this was about.
Violet moved to stand in front of them, swayed on the spot and dropped into a chair opposite them. She leaned her head back, twitching slightly and mumbled incoherently for a minute. “I…don’t…uh...know…I … what’s this…please…I…no…”
“She having a seizure or something?” Rance frantically whispered to his father.
“I better call the doctor,” Laurence said, pulling a cell phone from his pocket.
“Put that away!” Violet forcefully said. “Hadn’t I taught you to leave that thing behind when we have guests and especially during dinner? You’ve reverted back to all your old and destructive ways, Laurence, and I won’t have it.”
“What the blazes are you talking about?” Laurence asked.
“You, of course! Laurence, you’ve changed and not for the better,” Violet shrieked, her voice both reproachful and sad. “All my work was obviously for nothing!”
They stared at her, then Laurence shook his head ever so slightly. “This had gone far enough, Ms. Bennett. I suggest you leave. I’ll call you a cab.”
“Dad, she’s my friend’s mother. You can’t just send her away. She doesn’t know her way around Miami,” Rance said. “Besides, she’s obviously not feeling well.”
“I’m feeling quite well…for a dead person,” she said with a sigh. “But Violet will have one terrible headache when we’re done. Her first hangover I can imagine. she doesn't seem the type to over indulge.”
Rance gaped at her and out of the corner of his mouth he mumbled, “Why is she talking about herself in the third person?”
“Because Violet is not really involved in this conversation…my Pookie boy,” Violet said.
Rance gasped, then turned to his father, incensed. “What the hell! You told her Mom’s pet name for me?” he screamed.
“Now why would I do that?” Laurence shouted. “You must have mentioned it to your friends, Sophie in particular, and she told her mother. Really, I’ve had quite enough foolishness for one night.”
“Laurie honey, the only foolishness here is the fact you don’t recognize me. I’m just using Violet to try to get through to you…since you won’t listen to your inner voice, that is. Neither of you do, and that’s why I had to resort to this.”
Violet stood up and spread her arms out. “It’s me, Emily, and we don’t have too much time.”
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