Long after Victor put the kids to bed—and boy did that take a long time considering how much turkey they ate—he paced the floor bare-chested wearing his checked, flannel lounge pants slung low on his hips. He was unable to relax. Forgetting—or rather trying to forget—Violet was not working, not with the image of her with lady killer Van Gholston stuck in his brain.
“Sonofa…” he muttered, cursing a blue-streak as he thought of that snug ass putting the moves on his girl…but was Violet his girl anymore?
He very much doubted it. She’d been gone several days now and not a peep out of her in all that time. He had picked up and almost dialed her number only two dozen times before he remembered he ought not do it. She wanted space or breathing room or some such. He refused to admit to himself that what she really implied was that she wanted nothing more to do with him…evermore.
That, however, was far too painful to imagine!
He threw himself onto his bed and stared at the ceiling. For several minutes he watched a spider—a tiny, harmless little thing—hanging off of an invisible thread making its way to the highboy chest of drawers. He smiled and wondered if Violet was the shrieking-at-spiders type. He somehow didn’t think so.
He’d seen her in the garden actually talking to bees as they buzzed from flower to flower, chasing flutterbys, as she insisted on calling them, scolding snails who nibbled her Hosta, and placing inchworms out of harm’s way. She seemed to be okay with most insects, although, he didn’t know for sure how she felt about spiders. He’d never had to “rescue” her from any mean looking insects as he had done on numerous occasions with his ex.
Thinking of Catherine made him frown—not that this was unusual. He got the distinct feeling she was up to something. He knew her too well, unfortunately. He just couldn’t understand why she so liked—or claimed to like—Violet. Why had she wanted Violet to come to Thanksgiving dinner?
Since the Halloween party Catherine had been a completely different person and he couldn’t figure out why. Was it just because she was a new mother all over again? Could it be just that…her new baby girl? But it wasn’t just the baby. She seemed to genuinely like his kids, too…well, one of them in particular. What strange hold did his little Georgiana have on his ex-wife? You’d think Catherine was going to adopt her too!
When he had tucked Georgiana into bed, after her brothers were fast asleep in the next room and after reading a chapter from The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan with her, which like Harry Potter’s adventures shocked him that he liked it so much, she smiled sleepily up and him saying, “Dad, I really liked Auntie Catherine.”
He still couldn’t get over that Catherine was okay with being called Auntie by his adopted kids. “That’s nice,” he said cautiously. “What…uh…exactly did you like about her?”
She shrugged. “She was nice to me. Reminded me of my mom before she got… all weird,” she said, yawning widely, her eyes drifting closed. “Almost… like having a… mom… again. Liked it…”
He watched her fall blissfully asleep feeling ever so guilty. “I knew a father wasn’t going to be enough for you, or the boys, but I promised I would try to find you a mother and God willing I’ll find one.” he whispered before dropping a gentle kiss on her forehead.
Problem was, he still only wanted Violet to be that person, and she had other ideas about that plan.
He sprang to a sitting position and reached for his phone on the bedside table. He flipped through his contacts and found Violet’s smiling face next to her number. He paused before pressing it. What could he say was his excuse for bothering her now, at this time of night?
Only one thing came to mind…the kids.
He dialed, unaware he held his breath as he heard first one ring, then two and then…
“Violet…hi,” he said, his mind going blank.
“Victor!” she said. “It’s so nice…uh…good to hear your voice. What are you doing up so late?”
“I could ask the same of you,” he retorted.
“I’m on vacation. I’m allowed to be up all night. We only just got back a while ago anyway and the guys do not settle down for quite some time after playing. They call it the post-show high, or something.”
“The guys being?” he asked, as casual as he could muster.
“Sophie’s friends and bandmates. There’s John, Rick, Danny, Elian and Bug…um…Scott, no, I’m supposed to call him Rance now, but I keep forgetting. That kid has more aliases then a spy!” she said laughing.
Victor frowned. None of them sounded like the Van Gholston kid. Hadn’t he been a junior or third in the Van Gholston family line, if he recalled correctly? He couldn’t exactly ask Violet this though. He could only hope she voluntarily gave him the information he wanted.
“And how are you enjoying your time there?”
“Oh, it’s been wonderful!” she gushed. “I go to see them play every night and during the day we just hang out by the pool and listen to them play some more. Sophie really has found her calling…or rather something she loves doing more than anything.”
“That would be a calling,” Victor agreed. “Reminds me of a certain someone…a gardener who found her calling being the director of the children’s garden at Weston Botanical gardens.”
Violet giggled. “Yes, well…”
It was so good to hear her laugh again, but he hated that she was doing it away from him.
“So, tell me what you’ve been up to since leaving Catalpa Valley I mean other than pools and music. How did you like Miami and how’s Orlando treating you?”
“Oh, he’s fine,” she said.
“Excuse me? He?”
“Oh…” she burst out laughing. “You mean the city! I was talking about the pool boy. His name is Orlando, if you can believe it!”
“Orlando the pool boy, huh?” he said smirking in spite of himself. “I hope you’re behaving yourself.”
“Why wouldn’t I be? I…oh…I see,” she said, catching on at last. “You're as bad as Jocelyn. He’s barely older than my own son!”
“That doesn’t stop a lot of people,” Victor replied.
“Well, I’m not like a lot of people, now am I?” she huffed.
“No, Violet, you’re expressly one of a kind,” he said.
There was a long silence. “So, um…why did you call so late? How was your holiday? Did you get to see your boys?”
“I did plus I now have Georgiana, Julian and Peter living with me, so..."
"Really? They're with you...permanently?" she said, a bit surprised.
"Yes, so we spent thanksgiving…with everyone,” Victor said.
“You mean with all the kids? Oh, how nice,” she said, wistfully.
“Plus, Marty and Morris and …my ex and Andy and their new baby,” he said wishing he could see her expression at that moment.
“The baby…oh, yes…how is she doing? She was such a tiny thing.”
“How did you know it was a girl or how small she was? You’ve never seen her.”
“I… uh….they must have said…uh…at the party… before they left,” she stammered. “Um…yes, they got the call and…uh…Andy said it was a girl and… she doing okay then?”
“Quite well,” he replied. “She’s a bit fussy, but some babies are. Georgiana has a way with her, soothes her right away. My ex hangs on her every word as if she was a baby expert at the ripe old age of ten. Plus Andrea loves her.”
“Andrea? Is that what they named her?” she mumbled. “Pretty.”
“It was Georgiana’s suggestion," Vitor said. "We surprisingly had a lovely time. We all got along...a miracle, indeed."
“Wow, you make it sound like…”
“Don’t even think it!”
“What? You don’t know what I was going to say,” she answered.
“I could guess,” he said darkly.
“I was going to say, perhaps you should have adopted kids when you and Catherine were still together…girls in particular,” she said.
His mouth fell open. “Huh…you think that’s it, that was her problem? She wanted girls not boys?” he asked, genuinely wondering.
“No, that would be…silly,” she said, although not at all convincing even herself. “I’m sure she loves the boys too.”
“You know, it actually makes sense. I blew it off back then, but she did complain that she couldn’t fuss and dress the boys in fancy things because they were so…well, they were boys! And …”
“And boys hate getting dressed up and even when you manage to wiggle them into a nice outfit they get dirty without even trying. Yes, I know that. I’ve been there. Kenny was a little terror. Keeping him clean before church was like pulling teeth out of an alligator without getting your arm torn off. Impossible! Although, Sophie wasn’t the girliest of girls. She could and did get down and dirty too. She was smart enough to change out of a frilly dress before doing it, though. Only difference,” she said. “You should see her with this group of guys. Rance is the closest in age to her, but all the others are older, a couple by several years and they alternately treat her like she’s their little sister or she's the boss.”
“And you’re not worried about her with all these…men?”
“No, I just said, she’s got them wrapped around her finger, especially poor Danny. He’s totally in love with her and she is definitely not going there…at least not now. But anyway,” she said. “I’m sure you didn’t call to listen to me go on and on about Sophie and her posse. Why did you call, Victor?”
“I…uh…well, it’s…” he fumbled for an excuse until a light bulb lit in his head. “Do you remember that time at the carnival when Peter had an upset tummy?”
“Oh, no! Not again!”
He sighed in relief and nodded, as if she could see him. “Yes, Marty outdid herself with a huge spread and tons of desserts too, so, he may have overindulged. Well, we all did, let's face it, but it’s not as bad as then. What was it that you gave him? He wouldn’t take that abysmal pink stuff and frankly I don’t blame him. That stuff is horrible!”
“Oh, Victor, you’re such a baby sometimes,” she admonished. “I left a small container of ginger hard candies for just such an emergency. They’re in the cabinet just over the microwave.”
“At your house?”
“No, in your kitchen.”
“Oh, wow…never would have looked in there,” he muttered.
“It was either there or the medicine cabinet.”
“Thanks, Violet,” he said. “If he complains again I’ll give him some. I’ll remember for next time, too.”
“Okay,” she said.
There was an awkward silence for a long moment and Victor said it before he could stop himself. “I miss you, Violet,” he whispered. “We all miss you.”
Violet closed her eyes and bit her lip. “Hey, I…listen, I ought to get…” she stammered.
Just then Laurence came into the sitting room with a cup of tea in hand. “Here you go, Violet. Sophie said you… oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were on the phone.”
“It’s okay. I was just saying goodbye,” she said.
“Who is that, Violet?” Victor asked, although he had a good idea.
“Um…a friend of yours, actually,” she said, motioning for Laurence to put the tea on the coffee table.
Victor ground his back teeth together wondering why in heaven’s name everyone was intent on calling that jerk his friend? “Oh? Who could that be? I don’t recall any friends of mine in Orlando,” he said.
“It was an odd coincidence, actually. Sophie only told me after I arrived, but it didn’t matter as I didn’t know him from the mailman.”
“You told me you’ve known our mailman Charlie Kendrick since grade school,” he reminded her.
She giggled. “That’s true.”
“Violet, is that Victor Romanoff you’re talking to? If you don’t mind, I’d like a word with him…when you’re done of course,” Laurence said.
Violet nodded then spoke into the phone, “Victor, Laurence would like a word with you. Is that okay?”
“Here he is,” she said, handing the phone over.
Laurence took the phone and said, “I’ll take this outside, if you don’t mind, Violet. Just business… I wouldn’t want to bore you with it. I’ll be right back soon.” He then stepped over to the French doors, opened them and went out onto the balcony, closing the doors behind him.
“Romanoff,” he said briskly. “LP Van Gholston here.”
“What brings you to Orlando with my…with Violet and her daughter, Mr. Van Gholston?” Victor asked dispassionately.
“Long story short, my son and her daughter are in the same band. Small world, isn’t it?”
“Miniscule,” he said through clenched teeth. “What can I do for you?”
“It’s more what I can do for you,” Laurence replied, looking over his shoulder to ensure Violet was nowhere near and could not overhear their conversation.
“Listen, I know there is no love lost between us. Hell, we can barely stand to look at each other, but that aside, in the last few day of being with Violet I’ve discovered what a truly wonderful person she is. In some ways she reminds me of my Emily, and I know firsthand when you find something extraordinary you better grab onto it hard and fast before the next guy moves in and takes it for himself.”
Victor clenched his fist and evil thoughts swept across his mind. “I’m gonna kill him. I’m gonna take a machete first and slice his heart out, then I’ll a take a shotgun and blow his head off and then I’ll feed him to a pack of ravenous wolves and whatever is left over I’ll toss to the sharks off the coast of New Smyrna Beach.”
He was so intent on these murderous thoughts, however, that he missed nearly all of what Laurence was telling him.
“…so do yourself a favor, man up and back off.”
“What?” Victor said.
“Weren’t you listening?” Laurence snapped.
“Phone dropped out,” Victor lied. “All I heard is man up and back off.”
Laurence sighed and shook his head. “Do you love her or don’t you, Romanoff?”
“Madam Curie. Who the hell do you think I’m talking about?”
“Yes, I do. I love her more than anything in this world. I’ve only proposed to her a half dozen times already,” Victor admitted.
“Yes, she told me,” Laurence said. “Well, stop it before you drive her away completely.”
“What the hell gives you the right to…”
“I want what’s best for her,” Laurence said.
“What are you, her father?”
“No, but I know what she’s about.”
“In less than a week you know her? Well, you are good, aren’t you?” Victor sarcastically said.
“I know what she’s feeling, Romanoff. We both have lost our beloved spouses tragically and way too soon, so I do know her in that respect, because I was the same…still am in fact, but I’m getting over it…or will soon enough and she will too, eventually. We both just needed time,” Laurence said, groping for the right words. “Time to heal, time to forgive ourselves, and time to forget…at least a little. So they’re not constantly in our thoughts and on the brain. Just give her time.”
Victor suddenly felt as if he’d swallowed a 50 pound lead weight and it was now sitting in the pit of his stomach. “That’s all I’ve been doing…giving her time.”
“No, you haven’t. You’ve been…waiting, impatiently I might add. It’s not the same thing.”
“You’re not making any sense,” Victor said.
“Love rarely does, bud, and grief even less,” Laurence said once again looking over his shoulder. “Listen, I should get this phone back to her. I just thought I’d give you the head’s up.”
“So, I’m supposed to back off so you can sweep in like a knight in shining armour?”
“No, numb-nuts,” he snapped. “Even if I wanted her—which I don’t--she loves you, but like I said you need to allow her to come to you on her terms and on her schedule. Got it yet?”
“Wait…she told you she was in love with me?” Victor asked.
Laurence sighed, wondering how the same man who was such a brilliant lawyer could also be the dumbest in the world. “You seem to forget. I saw the two of you on that beach in the Hamptons. Only one other couple I know looked that much in love. One guess who I mean.”
“Think we can rule out Kim Kardashian with anyone stupid enough to hook up with that,” Victor mumbled.
“Me and Emily. I’ll have you know we were great together and her death devastated me despite what the tabloids suggest. Like I said, I know what Violet’s about. You really ought to listen to me…if you want her, that is.”
Victor remained silent for a long, drawn out moment before saying, “I never offered my condolences to you on her passing. I very much liked Emily.”
“Of course you liked her. She was perfect,” Laurence said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me. I gotta crack the whip and get these kids to hit the hay before they drive both Violet and me insane. Good night, Romanoff.”
“Good night, Mr. Van Gholston…and thank you,” Victor said.
“I think you can call me Laurence now, don’t you think?”
Before he could answer, the phone went dead and Victor stared at it not quite understanding what just happened.
©2014 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved