Victor sighed and went into a long drawn out description of Thanksgiving day at his ex’s, but much to his surprise Violet kept interrupting him.
“You mean Marty did all the cooking? Catherine did nothing?” Violet asked.
“Believe me, we were all delighted with the arrangement. Catherine in the kitchen is a disaster in the making,” he said. “We couldn’t get her away from the baby anyway.”
Back to the baby again….Violet could kick herself for her stupidity. Quickly she said, “How are Ronnie and Simon? Did they like their new siblings?”
“Ronnie loved them, especially Julian. He finally has the playmate he always longed for. They had a great time playing with Ronnie’s old toys. Simon seemed to like Georgiana…”
“Probably because the oldest kids are always more mature and responsible. Simon obviously recognized it in Georgiana,” Violet interjected.
“Most likely, but he was cool towards Peter. Understandable though. Peter stuck to me like glue the whole time, so…”
“Oh… a bit of jealously, huh?”
“I think I straightened that out…a little anyway. I think they’ll get along, not that they’ll see each other much.”
“Are your boys not coming home for Christmas?”
“Oh sure, but they usually stay with their mother and now that I have this crew, I’m not sure they’ll want to spend any time with me.”
“Of course they will,” she insisted, “and like you said, she’s so busy with the baby that the boys might want to stay with you. Wouldn’t be a problem, would it?”
“No, there’s plenty of room at my house, if the boys double up.”
After a moment’s hesitation she said, “I have room at my house …if you need to send one of your boys over. Sophie is coming in a few weeks.”
“Is she?” he said, noncommittal as he could be. He wondered if he could finally meet her. Would Violet keep her in the dark about their relationship—as unsettled as it was--and say nothing about him nor of what they meant to each other? She had just admitted that she still valued his friendship, so surely…but he couldn’t truly be sure of anything with Violet.
“Yes, she’s staying with me until… um…after New Years,” she said, frowning slightly.
Victor frowned too. What wasn’t she telling him? Besides everything.
“She was the topic of conversation during dinner,” Victor said, wondering if this would bring the conversation around to Florida where he wanted it to be.
Violet gaped at his profile. “Sophie? Whatever for?”
“Well, don’t quite remember how it started…Morris I think. He mentioned that you were visiting her in Miami and that you were then going to Orlando. He made the mistake of mentioning that she’s singing in a band and would be preforming at Downtown Disney.”
“Why was it a mistake?”
“Ronnie,” he said lifting a shoulder in a shrug. “He was freaked out. He couldn’t believe it until he actually saw it. He and Simon searched on Youtube for a video and they found at least one.”
Violet frowned in confusion. “A video of what?”
“Of Sophie and her band, of course, performing at Downtown Disney.”
Violet’s mouth dropped open. “Sophie is on Youtube?”
“So are you and your new best bud,” he said, trying not to sound like a jealous harpy—and failing miserably.
“Me???” she shrieked.
He grabbed his phone from the middle console, flipped through it, and after a minute handed it to her. “I think that’s the one. Watch it. At the end the camera scans the crowd as they are applauding and there’s a brief shot of you and Van Gholstan looking like a happy couple.”
Violet watched it with her mouth hanging open. “I can’t believe this. My Sophie on YouTube.”
“Any idiot can get on Youtube nowadays, Violet,” he said through clenched teeth.
“Yes, but…omigosh! It’s me…I can’t believe…”
“Told you,” Victor said, gripping the steering wheel so hard he thought he might break it off.
She watched it a second time and a third. “So…any idiot, you say? So, you think I’m an idiot then and Sophie?” she said--sounding hurt instead of angry--handing the phone back to him.
“No, I meant Van Gholstan,” he muttered.
Recognizing jealousy when she heard it she sighed. “He’s not all bad, Victor,” she said. “You only know his business side, barking orders at his underlings. I got to know the guy away from all that stuff and the glamour of being a celebrity. I got to know the concerned parent part of him, the human side.”
“Obviously. You and he have become the best of friends,” he said grimly.
“Hardly best friends,” she said. “He’s…okay once you get passed the arrogance and condescending attitude.”
“That a fact?” Victor said.
“Yes it is,” she said, getting miffed now. “In fact, he reminds me very much of another forceful guy I know, one who never takes no for an answer. The same guy who pressed his advantage every chance he got and forced himself into my life when I thought I wanted to be alone, forced me to do things I didn’t think I wanted to do, forced me to go out to dinner and dancing and to the city for huge shopping sprees. He also forced me to get a new car, a new job and to meet new people and to go to new places and do all sorts of things I never thought I’d ever get to do. He forced me to live again after…after I was very close to giving up on life all together. He was the one who understood me better than I did. He’s the one who became my true best friend, but I wasn’t worthy of him and I’m very sorry I constantly disappoint him.”
That little impassioned speech silenced Victor but good. He had no retort for that and a long silence ensued.
“Laurence, as it turns out, is a nice man,” she said. “He was just grateful that I helped break a path through the iceberg which kept him from his son for so many years. I don’t really know how I managed it, but Bug…I mean, Rance just needed to hear the truth from his father about his mother’s death and all that went with it. Really he just needed to stop reading the stupid tabloids which never get anything right! Laurence told me he’s never even met Scarlet Johansson which they said he was hooking up with after she divorced that Green Lantern guy…what is that guy’s name?”
As Victor had no idea who she was talking about, he ignored that. “So, we ought not believe that you are carrying LP Van Gholston’s love child and that he’s making you sign a pre-nup before he marries you?”
“WHAT!” she shouted. “Did you read that in one of those celebrity rags?”
He cleared his throat twisting a blatant lie into a sort of half-truth before uttering it. “Well, the security guard who let me into the airport was under that assumption when I told him I was his lawyer and I came to meet the woman he was traveling with,” he said.
“I hope you corrected him,” she said, glaring at him.
“I neither confirmed nor denied it. Not like I knew either way,” he said, instantly wishing he hadn’t.
“You blasted moron,” Richard’s voice snarled in his ear. “You got a death wish, don’t ya? Quick, tell her you’re kidding, or she’ll throw you out of the car while it’s still moving!”
“Violet, I’m fooling,” he said. “The man was just talking out of his ass. He didn’t know anything except that there was a woman on board the plane and he just assumed…whatever. I wasn’t going to waste my breath on him. He wouldn’t believe me anyway. I’m a lawyer, after all. As trustworthy status goes I’m just under the President’s press secretary.”
She covered her face with her hands and groaned. “If my friends see photos of me with him they’ll think…”
“What did I tell you about that?”
“Fine for you to say!” she snapped. “You’re not the one sitting next to a billionaire celebrity while we watch our kids perform in front of a bunch of Disney tourists. You’re not the one on Youtube for everybody to see.”
“You’re right about that, but whose fault is that?” he said.
She thought for a minute. “I don’t… know if it’s anyone’s fault.”
“Then don’t worry about it,” he said. “Besides, it’s good publicity for Sophie and her band. They’ll get far more views, which leads to more exposure from it, just because of the gossip it will excite. They could get a contract from it even, if the right people see it and definitely more fans. It’s actually very good for them to be on Youtube. I wouldn’t be surprised if Van Gholstan didn’t do it on purpose for that exact reason.”
She sat stock still, seriously pondering this. She grabbed the phone and watched the same video again, looking carefully this time for clues. This video was taken the third or fourth night they were there, the night Laurence had NOT worn a disguise of sorts. Wearing faded jeans with a Mickey and Minnie sweatshirt and a New York Mets baseball cap he certainly didn’t look anything like a billionaire real estate mogul. Instead he wore casual yet ridiculously expensive slacks and a dress shirt with a tie.
She remembered telling him he stuck out like a sore thumb dressed like that. Everyone else would be dressed in Disney apparel, jeans or shorts and sandals.
She distinctly remembered him saying he was sure there wouldn’t be a ton of people there that particular night—it had been Monday or Tuesday right before Thanksgiving, a time notoriously quiet and not very crowded by Disney standards-- so he would be safe from recognition.
“And so what if there is?" Laurence had said to her. "It’s so dark there and if they did actually get a good look at me they would imagine I’m just someone who looks like me, because what reason on the planet would someone as famous as LP Van Gholstan have to be at Downtown Disney? It’s the best disguise there is.”
His reasoning seemed logical at the time, and he turned out to be right. No one pointed and stared, nor stopped them for an autograph, for instance, nor asked to have a photo taken with him—things he said happen more often than he cared to admit. It helped that they were surrounded by the kids—all laughing and talking excitedly-- who loved walking around Downtown Disney nearly as much as they did performing there.
But they had been caught on tape. That could be explained away, however, if Disney always recorded performances, which apparently they did, as witnessed by the featured videos of other Downtown Disney performers, some of which were famous in their own right previously appearing on America has talent and American Idol.
Violet had thought then that it was fine, but she wasn’t so sure about it now…not with this video on Youtube with…holy smokes! It already had more than a million and a half views.
“Wonder if the kids have seen this,” she mumbled.
“You ought to email it to Sophie. She’ll get a kick out of it.”
“Yes, she would…they all would.”
“I know Ronnie did.”
“Did he? Why?” she said, distracted as she typed in Sophie’s email address.
“Well, the obvious is he was excited to see her doing so well with music—his ultimate passion. Not just anybody can have a band successful enough to play at Downtown Disney, you know,” Victor said. “He could be envious, too, I suppose, but I imagine he still may have a bit of a crush on her.”
“There, I think it went,” she said, placing the phone back where she got it. “Well, maybe they can get together at Christmas and talk music. I swear, Sophie is exhausting when she starts about her music. Most of it goes right over my head.”
“They have a lot in common now, she and Ronnie,” he said. “Perhaps they could be friends, if she wasn’t in Florida, that is.”
“She’s leaving Florida.”
“Oh?” he said, frowning. “Doesn’t make sense for her to leave a band once she’s got a fanbase and a following with them.”
“Oh, she’s not leaving them. They’re going with her.”
“Where is she…they going?”
“The city, Manhattan. Laurence is getting them a place where they can all live together and possibly record an album. That’s why I felt a bit guilty leaving with you. I told him I would help him look for a place for them, but if I can’t trust a real estate mogul to buy an appropriate building in a safe neighborhood, then who could I trust?”
“You’re going to allow your daughter to live with a group of men…in Manhattan?” he said, stunned. That did not sound like the worry-wart Violet he knew.
“Well…” she said bracingly. “Laurence convinced me she was safer around Rance and the other boys in Manhattan, than she would be by herself in Miami…especially with Antoine waiting for her to get away from her bodyguards.”
She nervously giggled. “Yes, it’s a long story but the guys already thwarted a kidnapping attempt on Rance and…they protected Sophie from…something worse than death.”
“I see,” he said, although he didn’t really, not at all. “So, she’s quitting school?”
“No! I was adamant she continue somewhere, even a community college, anything, at least part time. She’s thinking Columbia, but I doubt she could get in with so little notice.”
“Did you happen to mention that to LP?”
“Yes, and he thought she’d have no trouble, but I don’t see how. The new semester starts in January. Surely not enough time.” She chanced a glance at Victor's grinning profile and frowned. “What’s so funny?”
“You surprise me, Violet. I don’t suppose LP told you he’s on the board of directors at Columbia?”
Violet’s eyes widened to full-moon size.
“Apparently not,” Victor said, laughing. “Sophie is as good as in, Sweetie.”
©2014 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved
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