Well, this was awkward.
Even though Victor was blasting the heat in the car and had the heat warmers on full force, Violet still shivered. She wasn’t wearing a winter coat—just the plush pashmina Victor had given her several months back tossed over a frilly dress—Victor had given her that, too. She wasn’t wearing boots either, which would have done nicely to keep her feet from freezing, instead of her open-toed sandals—yes, another acquisition from Victor.
Did she have anything on which Victor hadn’t bought for her? In fact, no. Even her sexy underwear was curtesy of him, acquired during his birthday weekend spending spree.
She realized all this as Victor pulled out of the airport parking lot and onto the traffic leading to the George Washington Bridge going back home. She suddenly felt dirty and cheap like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman…dressed to the nines using a credit card from a handsome rich dude—her payment for keeping him company.
Only thing was, Violet was not giving Victor his money’s worth. Not like Julia Roberts did for Richard Gere. As a matter of fact, she had been downright ungrateful.
“Got used to the warm weather, I suppose?” he said.
“Huh?” she said, snapping out of her guilt-ridden thoughts.
“You look frozen. The sunny weather in Florida must be easy to get used to.”
“Oh…yes…I guess I did. Easy to forget it’s winter when you’re in Florida and everyday it’s hot as blazes. Doesn’t help I’m not dressed properly for New York,” she whined, her flushed cheeks not warming her at all. “I didn’t realize it would get this cold so soon.”
“It is unusually cold this year. Here, you can have my overcoat,” he said, reaching into the back and pulling it forward, dropping it onto her lap. “That ought to help a little. You’ll be toasty warm in no time.”
“Thank you,” she mumbled. She slipped it on and thanked the Lord it went down to her frozen toes. Then she re-buckled her seatbelt and sat staring into the gloomy twilight, watching cars zip by barely missing them as they cut in front of them. New York drivers were no better than Florida ones.
Thinking of Florida brought her thoughts to Sophie. Ordinarily she would have told Victor about her, the guys, their future plans to move to the city and all that went on there this past week and a half, but she didn’t think he would care to hear it. Why would he, especially after she had forced him out of her life? She didn’t, however, want to spend the three hour trip home in a disturbing silence, but try as she might, she didn’t know how to speak to him anymore.
There had been a time they could freely talk for hours on end, joking and teasing, never strained, never awkward. What had changed?
Many things, actually. For one thing, Victor now had three kids to look after and he was actively seeking a mother for them, had asked and expected her to be that mother and like the fool she was she couldn’t do it.
In her tortured thoughts she realized he wasn’t speaking either. Why not? Did he sense the same gulf between them that she felt? Or were his thoughts preoccupied with the kids…or with someone else? Why had he been in the city? Meeting a friend? Meeting a more-than-friend? She suddenly wondered if he was dating anyone. Had he found someone special while she was gone? It was very likely he had, knowing how well people thought of him, women especially. She didn’t want to ask. She didn’t want to hear the answer.
She chanced a quick glance at his profile as he maneuvered around a smelly truck spewing lethal fumes into the air. What could he be thinking just now?
Little did she know, he was wondering the same thing, with as much success guessing as she was having.
Why wasn’t she telling him anything? he wondered. Nothing about her trip, nothing about her daughter, nothing about her time spent having such fun down in the Sunshine State, nothing about her new bestie Van Gholston and who the heck was this Fanny and Kelly she wanted to be introduced to, and what had she done to get his son back? For Goodness sake, he was dying to know what had she been up to in Florida, but he was determined not to say a word until she gave up the information freely.
Not too long ago he wouldn’t have had to ask…she would just tell him. He wouldn’t have been able to shut her up…not that he’d want to. He loved listening her telling a story. He got to understand her, to know her, far better than she knew herself at times he imagined. She didn’t know it, but everything she said revealed a bit of herself, because as guileless as she was, she didn’t know how to censor herself.
“Hasn’t helped ya so far, has it?” an irritable voice whispered in his ear. “Get off that fricken high horse you’re riding and just ask about Sophie. That’ll get the ball rolling.”
Vctor took a deep breath to do just that, but before he could speak she beat him to it.
“Um…where are the kids?” she asked.
“Mine?” he asked stupidly.
She smiled and nodded. “Yes, Georgiana isn’t really old enough to watch her brothers, although…”
“She acts much older than she is, because she had to… at some point, but not anymore,” he finished for her. “I’m trying to make her understand she’s still a kid and should act like one.”
“How is that going?” Violet asked, curiously. “Is she understanding that?”
He smiled. “Completely? It might never happen, but I’m not giving up. I just tell her to go play or read or make a mess or anything fun she can think of. Instead I often catch her cleaning up after her brothers or trying to get them to behave.”
“Aww,” Violet said. “She thinks they’re on probation, so she’s trying to get them on their best behavior.”
“Exactly, and I hate that!” he said. “They think I might get rid of them for any stupid reason.”
She laughed. “You can’t blame them. They’ve been orphans for…”
“Longer than any kid should be,” he said with feeling.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Well, they’re mine now and nothing and no one’s taking them away. They better get used to it.”
“Do you tell them that?”
“Every chance I get,” he replied. “The boys get it far easier than Georgiana. She’s played the role of Wendy long enough. Peter Pan has a dad now, and she is not the mother. When I tell her I’m the mom, too, they burst out laughing at me!”
Even Violet laughed at that. “Well, you don’t exactly look like a mom.”
“Well, they’re fine with me being Dad. They know eventually we’ll get a moth…” He stopped abruptly realizing too late he had stumbled onto a taboo subject.
He cleared his throat pretending to be looking at the GPS on the dashboard. “But to answer your question, my kids are currently at a barbeque at Marty and Morris’ house.”
“Barbeque???” Violet shrieked. “In this cold weather?”
“Yup, told them they were nuts, but they didn’t want to hear it.” Victor explained how Marty had all sorts of picnic fare made for them plus a blanket set out on the floor in the living room with all her tropical house plants surrounding the spot to make it feel like the great outdoors.
“They are getting into the role of grandparents with a vengeance.”
“They are getting into the role of grandparents with a vengeance.”
“But they have to know that your kids aren’t truly their grandchildren. I mean…”
“Don’t ever say that in front of Morris!” Victor said. “Every time I do he gets bent out of shape something awful, like you’re denying him a great pleasure, so I just go with it.”
“That is so sweet of him…and Marty too. You have the best mother-in-law.”
“Former,” he added.
They dropped into another drawn out silence as Violet wondered how to bring up the subject of her stay in Florida.
“Speaking of former,” he said, even though warning bells rang in his head loud enough to make him permanently deaf. “Catherine was sorry you weren’t with us for Thanksgiving. I don’t understand why she suddenly acts as if you and she are best friends. Am I missing something?”
Violet suddenly wished for a fender-bender. Nothing tragic, just a little trouble to get herself out of trouble.
Well, why didn’t she think of that first? She could pretend to be ill. “A little dizzy,” she lied closing her eyes and leaning her head back. “Airplanes never help, but cars can do it to me too.”
“Sorry, but I left my transporter on the Enterprise,” he joked.
“What?” she said.
He shook his head. “Never mind. Try to sleep then.”
“I’m not sleepy. Tell me…um…how was your Thanksgiving? Did Marty cook?”
She just wasn’t telling him about Florida, was she? Why the hell not???
©2014 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved
♪ ♫… …♩ ♬