It had been a successful Christmas shopping trip and Violet couldn’t have been happier to have it all done with loads of time left over for more important things, like baking and putting the finishing touches on the homemade items she intended on giving to family and friends.
As soon as Laurie parked in front of her house, Violet alighted from the minivan, and noticing the car in the driveway wondered who had come to visit Sophie. That white SUV was not familiar and it certainly didn’t look like the kind of car a parent would allow their kid to drive even for a short distance to a friend’s house. It was way too nice and spanking new by the looks of it!
She shrugged and gathered some of her shopping bags from the back seat. She would need to make two trips unless someone helped.
“Oh, let me grab the rest for ya,” Laurie said, as if reading Violet’s mind. “Only way I can leave quickly and be home to feed the baby before Freddy starts crying along with him. My baby bottles are leaking something awful!”
Violet giggled at her sister-in-law’s silly yet accurate name for a nursing mother’s breasts. She made her way up the snowy steps—slipping only once in the fine, freshly-fallen powdery stuff and went through her front door, depositing the shopping bags on the couch in the living room. “Sophie? Who is here with you?” she called out as she went back to the door.
Laurie was in the process of handing the bags to Violet, when she looked up just in time and gasped. “Victor! Oh, how nice to see you,” she said, dropping the bags like hot potatoes and going to hug him.
“If it isn’t my favorite artist,” he said returning the hug warmly and kissing her cheek.
“We haven’t seen you in so long. Are the kids here with you?” Laurie asked.
“No, they’re not here,” he said. “You look well, Laurie. Shopping must agree with you.”
She laughed. “Well, I’ve been getting some sleep now, so I’m not a zombie anymore.”
Victor frowned. “Freddy told me little Richie was sleeping almost through the night.”
“I was talking about Freddy keeping me up!” she said. “He’s all over me now that I have playboy bunny boobs.”
Victor burst out laughing, Violet groaned and a grimacing Sophie shook her head.
“TMI, Aunt Laurie,” Sophie said.
“You have to come over some time, Victor,” Laurie said, ignoring her niece. “The kids have been asking for you and they want to play with your kids. How about Friday night? We can order in pizza and we can decorate the Christmas tree.”
“Well, I’ll check with the kids first and get back to you, okay?” he said, looking over the top of Laurie’s head to where Violet stood rooted to the spot, her anxious eyes shooting between him and Sophie. He knew exactly what was running a mile-a-minute through her mind. What had he told Sophie about them?
“Victor?” Violet whispered, her face drained of color and the bags sipped from her fingers upon seeing the mutinous expression on her daughter’s face. “What…what…what are you doing here?”
“He might have come for tea and sympathy from you or something else, but as you weren’t here I offered only coffee and muffins,” Sophie said, her arms folded over her chest and her hands rubbing her goose-pimply arms for warmth. “Maybe you can close the door, Mom. Don’t wanna heat the great outdoors, do you? And then we can talk. Seems there’s loads you have not told me.”
“Actually, I stopped by to issue an invitation,” Victor interjected, trying to redirect the conversation or at the very least lighten the tension a bit. “This includes you and your gang too, Laurie. A Christmas party at my house. Everyone will be there, Marty, Morris, the angel kids and….”
Laurie gasped. “Oh, how wonderful!” she said, hugging him again—really, she couldn’t get enough of that man! “It’ll be just as much fun as the Halloween party. Won’t it, Violet? Oh, Sophie, you would have loved it! I’ll show you pictures of all of us in costumes. Victor was Elvis and Violet was Shirley Temple. You could barely tell them from the originals.”
“My mom in full costume at a Halloween party?” Sophie said tilting her head to the side. “Will wonders ever cease?”
“We won’t be in costume this time though,” Victor said.
“I think little Richie would look nice as one of Santa’s helpers,” Laurie protested.
Victor laughed. “That he would. He would make a perfect elf!” he said. “So, you’ll all come? Sophie, you too, please? My kids would love to meet the famous singer…and Ronnie too, I’m guessing.”
“Ronnie will be there?” Sophie asked, suddenly very interested.
“Of course, and Simon, too,” Victor said. "Similar aged people will make it fun for you, I hope."
“Oh, you’ll need help with the food!” Laurie said, before Sophie could answer. “Let me know what I can bring. I’m getting really good at baked ziti and…”
“No!” Victor said, a might too quickly. “I mean, no need for that, Sweetie. Marty’s taking care of all that. She insisted on hosting the party and you know there is no telling her otherwise.”
Laurie looked a bit miffed, but quickly got over it. “Okay, but we can all help decorate. Oh, the kids will be thrilled!” She suddenly grabbed her chest. “Yikes! I gotta go. My baby bottles are ready to burst. Bye!”
With that said she swiftly kissed Victor on the cheek and breezed out of the house.
Victor laughed as he closed the door behind her, but it slowly died when he turned back to face the other two women. Surprisingly, the temperature in the room got colder. Violet was staring at him with Sophie glaring at her mother.
He cleared his throat and spoke as casually as he could muster. “So…uh…I met your lovely daughter, Violet. She's everything you said she was. Sophie’s the splitting image of her father, I must say, and delightfully charming.”
“Wait ‘til you get to know me better,” Sophie muttered. “You might change your mind.”
“I doubt that,” he said, turning to Violet. “I also had a favor to ask, Violet. That’s why I’m here.”
“Oh? I’m sure it can wait until some other time, Victor,” she said, trepidation running along her spine. She knew perfectly well what Victor thought of as favors and she most certainly didn’t want her daughter hearing about them.
“It’s just I need your help with my kids. I have no idea what to get for Georgiana…for the Christmas party I mean. We should all dress festive and I already picked out some nice outfits for the boys, they were easy, but Georgiana is another story. I was thinking of getting her a frilly, Christmasy sort of dress, but she only seems to like jeans. I’m starting to think she’s not too girly,” he said.
Violet rolled her eyes. “How can you possibly say that? She was Belle for Halloween, for goodness sake! Can’t get much girlier than a princess gown. Of course, she’s girly and you should get her something like…huh…” she said, turning her back on him and heading to the living room where she started rummaging through her shopping bags.
Victor and Sophie exchanged curious looks and followed Violet. “Are you going to finish that sentence or leave me hanging?” Victor asked.
She pulled out a lovely dress. It had a plaid skirt with silvery threads woven in the red and green pattern and a dark blue velvet top. It had a wide satin sash with a large bow in the back. It was the essence of elegant innocence and very girly to boot.
“That’s perfect! It might even be her size,” he said, incredulous.
“It is. I bought it for her specifically, but you can say it’s from you. I don’t mind. I know she’ll like it.”
“How do you know?” Sophie asked.
“Well, I happened to be looking through a department store circular in front of the angel kids and…”
“Oh, that old trick,” Sophie said, smirking at Victor.
“We all picked out our fantasy favorites and Georgie picked this one,” Violet finished. "You should have seen the look of longing on her face. I think she'll be quite surprised when you give her this." She then placed the dress in a bag by itself and stuffed some tissue paper around it to hide it. Then she handed it to him.
“Mom always does that. Took me years to figure out that was how she knew exactly what we wanted.”
“Your mother is genius that way and extremely thoughtful. What would I do without you, Violet?” he said, an obvious note of admiration in his voice and unmistakable love in the depths of his eyes.
Sophie stared at Victor, not liking the way he looked at her mother. A funny, uncomfortable feeling blossomed in her chest. Had her mother truly forgotten her father? Was she completely over his loss? Sophie knew she had teased her mother that she should have a boyfriend by now and get on with her life, but this man with her mom she couldn’t handle and it didn’t make sense.
Heck, Sophie had been thrilled when she thought her mother might get together with Mr. Van Gholstan, that he might have been the one to bring her out of mourning. So why didn’t she like her mother dating and possibly marrying Victor Romanoff? He seemed nice enough and there was no doubt he loved her mother, so why was it different with him?
She was pretty sure she knew the answer, but she wasn’t willing just yet to admit it, not even to herself.
"Ronnie looks just like you," she whspered.
"I'm sorry, Sophie," Victor said, reluctantly pulling his eyes off Violet. "What was that?"
She shook her head “Mom, Mr. Romanoff’s sons will be coming home for Christmas. Did you get them gifts, too?” Sophie said, a shrewdness in her eyes.
“Of course. I got them Disney hoodies from Orlando. Victor assured me I got the right sizes and…uh,” Violet said, before she could stop herself. “I mean… I…”
Sophie ground her back teeth together, her suspicions just confirmed. “You’ve already met them, haven’t you? They know all about this, that you're dating and everything. You’re such a hypocrite, Mom. You say I don’t tell you everything even though I do and you leave out a major thing, a major event, a major person in your life. When were you planning on telling me you were dating Mr. Romanoff? Oh, wait, I think I know. How about NEVER!”
She turned to Victor and shook his hand in a stiff, formal manner. “Even if Mom prefers I never know about you, it was nice to meet you at last, Mr. Romanoff…or should I just start calling you Daddy now?”
With that said she gave her stunned mother one last contemptuous look and ran up the stairs.
Victor and Violet both flinched when her bedroom door slammed so hard the house shook.
©2014 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved
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