Monday, August 25, 2014

Ch217 Over a cup of coffee


“How about we chat over a cup of coffee?” Victor suggested.

“Not a bad idea,” Sophie said, threading her arm around his and leading the way to the kitchen, practically dragging him. “Mom is soooo in trouble when she gets home.”

“So, where is she?” he said, disappointed. “Her car is here, so how…?”

“She went Christmas shopping with my Aunt Laurie and left it for me in case I needed to go out,” Sophie said, pushing him into a chair while she went to the coffee maker.

He noticed that she was woefully underdressed for the weather if she was thinking of leaving the house. Racing shorts and a tank top were not going to cut it when it was only in the forties outside with the threat of snow.

“I hope you’re not planning on leaving the house wearing just that,” he said, unable to restrain himself.

She slowly turned toward him with a wry smile on her face. “Well, now this is interesting.”


“What is?” he said.

“You saying something that only an over protective father would say to his daughter. Are you…practicing?” she said, slyly.

He understood the implication, but he refused to be baited. “I don’t have to practice. I’m already a father,” he said.

“Yes, but college age sons don’t need daddy to tell them how to dress…not like teenage daughters apparently," she said, annoyed. "My dad never told Kenny anything. Me? All the time, like I was stupid or something!”

“I'm sure that wasn't it. He was just concerned, I bet. I recently adopted three children, a girl and two boys, siblings, who no one else would likely adopt as a package deal. Georgiana is already giving me practice dealing with females,” he said, watching as her eyes grew wide just as her mother’s always did when she was stunned silent. “Your mother told you nothing at all about me I take it.”

She came to the table with a filled mug in one hand and a plate of muffins in the other.

“You better start talking and don’t you dare skip anything!” she said.

He laughed. “I think Violet would kill me if I did that,” he said. 

“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you,” she said bringing more plates, another filled mug plus sugar and cream to the table before she sat down in front of him.

He slowly took a plate and placed a muffin on it and handed it to her then took one for himself. “I love these muffins. Your mother is the best baker I’ve ever known.”

“Everyone says that,” Sophie said, shrugging. “Mostly cuz it’s true.”

“Yes, but that is including my own dearly departed mother which says a lot,” he told her.

“I remember Ronnie mentioning that, when his grandmother died. He was really upset. What was it? Like… eighth or ninth grade I think, so…five years ago?”

He nodded. “Were you and Ronnie friends?”

She shrugged and picked at the muffin, taking tiny bites. “Not so much. We hung with different kids I guess. I just heard him talking to some of his friends,” she said, avoiding eye contact. “How…how is he doing?”

“Not so good,” Victor said, pausing to take a sip. “Just talked to him before coming here, in fact.”

“Why? What happened?” she asked anxiously.

“He quit Wharton Business school a while back, and what he was doing didn’t pan out, so…so he’s at loose ends at the moment,” he said, watching her as shrewdly as she had done to him only moments before. “He was very impressed by your band, probably envious, as well.”

He didn’t know how she managed to make her eyes grow even bigger than they already were.

“How did he…how do you…Mom told you?”

“Your mother has told me all sorts of things about you,” he said, a bit too smug for his own good.

“And she’s told me exactly nothing about you!” she said indignantly. “How unfair is that! She told you about Invasive Species and...”

"Invasive Species?" he asked, almost choking on his coffee.

"That's the name the guys picked for the band. It was Mom's idea...or something. All I know is she was annoyed about some stupid weed and...but that doesn't matter. I can't believe she told you..."

“Well…actually, this time it was Morris Kramer who told us…”

“Who? Oh! The rich hermit guy?” she said, making a funny face so reminiscent of Violet he had to smile. "How in the world would he know?"

“Yes,, well... he’s now married to my former mother-in-law and while we were all together at Thanksgiving…”

She held up a hand. “Wait a minute. You had Thanksgiving with the rich hermit guy and your mother-in-law who isn’t even your mother-in-law anymore? She’s your ex-wife’s mother, right?”

“Ronnie’s other grandmother, too. Oh, but it gets even better. Also at Thanksgiving dinner were my ex-wife, her current husband—you know him as Coach Andy—and their new baby whom they adopted just around the time I adopted my kids. Actually that was on Halloween night. Plus Ronnie and Simon were there and my new bunch.”

She blinked several times, but said nothing.

 “Anyway, Morris told us you were preforming at Downtown Disney and we searched online and there you were, on Youtube. Very impressive, Sophie. I congratulate you,” he said, biting into his muffin.

“Did…did you all see it?” she asked, again avoiding his eyes.

“No, just me, Simon and especially Ronnie. The others were not very interested, nto when there was turkey to be eaten, anyway.”

“What do you mean, especially Ronnie?”

“He must have watched the video about a half dozen times before his mother yelled at him to put the smart phone away while we were at the table. Not sure he did though. He was enthralled by it, to put it mildly.”

He watched her stirring sugar and cream into her coffee—a pensive expression on her face-- for so long he thought she’d forgotten he was even there.

“Did you know Simon?” he asked.

“Who?  Oh! You’re oldest son,” she said, coming out of her trance. “Um…not really. He was a senior when I entered high school. He was a hot-shot soccer player and first in his class and Student body president, too, I think, and he didn’t look anything like Ronnie, is all I know."

Victor smiled. "Well, that's pretty much right."

"What’s he up to now?” she asked.

“He went to Yale,” he said.

“Gonna be a lawyer like his dad, huh?” she said.

“No, a doctor like his grandfather. He's in medical school now.”

“Really? Wow, that’s really…cool,” she said, staring at him for a long moment. “So…um...you and my mom?”

Victor smiled. “It’s not like you’re thinking. We’re… friends.”

Sophie narrowed her eyes. “How come I don’t believe you?”

He pretended to mull this over. “Because I’m a lawyer?”

She giggled. “Okay, start at the beginning.”


“When was this?”

“Late February,” he said. "and I asked her out to dinner."

“That soon?” she said, biting her lip. “That was less than a year after Daddy died.”

“Yes, there was a good reason for that. Several actually,” he said, wondering how much he ought to tell her, how much he could trust her.

“Main reason being you liked her, no doubt,” she said in a snippy sort of voice. “She was still in mourning, you know. It’s not proper to date until after a year.”

“Yes, but Freddy asked me to,” he said.

She made that funny face again. “My Uncle Freddy?”

“None other," he said, but he turned serious. "He was extremely worried about her, Sophie. You weren’t around so you wouldn’t know, but she was making herself ill. She wasn’t eating, wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t going out of the house at all and refused every invitation Freddy and Laurie made. She was miserable and hiding from the world. Freddy didn’t like it and he was seriously afraid she would do herself harm. He didn’t know what else to do, so he asked me if I would take her out to just…bring her out of her slump.”

“And just like that she said yes?”

“Not just like that. It took a vast deal of …creative managing.”

“You mean manipulation. She couldn’t have been happy knowing her brother put you up to this.”

“To this day she doesn’t know about Freddy’s involvement and she doesn’t have to know, okay? It’s not like I didn’t want to ask her out, but like you said, there is a proper time for these things, and even though I had seen several others trying to put the moves on her first, I refrained.”

"I betcha I know one of them. Mr. Yearly!" she said, irritably. "He's had the hots for her since they were in high school."

"Yes, I heard about dearly John Yearly and you are certainly correct about him wanting your mother, but we took care of him during the Fireman's carnival," Vctor said, with a self-satisfied smirk on his face.

Sophie gaped at him. "What? You ran him outta town or something?"

He laughed. "Not exactly although, Violet did tell me of a very interesting dream she had involving an exploding marzipan pineapple which did the trick."

She made that weird face again and said, "Huh?"

He shook his head. "That's an even longer story for another time."

Sophie shrugged then counted on her fingers. “Okay, so it was eight, almost nine months after my dad died,” she said grudgingly. “So, you knew my mom before that?”

“No, not at all. You can say I admired her from afar for a very long time."

"Just like Mr. Yearly?"

"Not quite. I didn't lust after her, She was married, you see, so I couldn’t and when she was widowed I knew she would need time to get over that, but then Freddy asked me to do him this favor and intervene…the only reason Violet agreed to go out with me is because I told her Freddy was my friend and that he could vouch for me that I wasn’t an axe murderer.”

“Who would think you’re an axe murderer?” she asked, then she closed her eyes and shook her head. “Mom actually accused you, didn’t she?”

“Yes. It was rather amusing. I also convinced her that I was not interested in romance at the moment, so....”

“Mom fell for that?” Sophie asked, incredulous. She shook her head. "She only hears what she wants to hear."

“It was the only way. Your mother is very stubborn, in case you didn’t know,” he said.

“No, she isn’t,” Sophie said. “She’s the biggest doormat there is. She never sticks up for herself.”

Victor frowned. “You truly think that of her?”

“Well, it’s true!”

“No, it’s not. At least it’s no longer true,” he said. “She may never have needed to stick up for herself before your father died. He fought all her battles and before that Freddy did, but now...”

“Now it’s you.”

He opened his mouth then closed it again. He drew in  a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “And LP Van Gholston,” he muttered.

“Huh?”

Victor shook his head. “Never mind. The point is, Violet was true to your father then and mostly all this time. She insists she’s still married, so she won’t marry me yet or…perhaps ever.”

Sophie gasped and placed her hand over his. “You...you’ve already asked her to marry you?”

“Several times. At least a half dozen.”

“So…you love her,” she whispered, looking stunned.

He looked her straight in the eyes, eyes so much like Richard's he nearly grimaced. “More than anything in this world, more than you'll ever know, Sophie,” he said, seriously.

She frowned at him. “So, you never wanted to be only friends then.”

He shook his head. “And that is where your mother was most stubborn. Refusing to admit we were more than that,” Victor said before taking a drink from his cup of coffee. "You may not want to hear this, Sophie, but I do believe your mother loves me, but clearly not as much as your father."

Sophie certainly hoped not, but she would have to see that for herself.


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