Violet rounded on Victor. “What did you tell her?”
“Only the truth,” he said, baffled and completely crestfallen. He looked up to the second floor as if expecting Sophie to come back down to take it all back or to explain that she had overreacted or that she was only kidding, but no such luck.
“And here I thought she liked me,” he muttered.
“And by the truth you mean… what exactly?” Violet asked.
Victor stared at her, a wry expression slowly emerging. “That I am in love with you, of course, and though I’ve asked you to marry me several times, you refused each and every time.”
“Dear God, Victor! Why did you have to tell her all that?”
“She asked,” he said, knowing full well Sophie had done no such thing.
Yes, she had said she wanted to know everything—she begged him to leave nothing out, in fact--but he realized now he could have kept that bit of information to himself. Thing was he didn’t want to hide anything anymore, not from Violet’s daughter anyway who seemed....
He had thought… but obviously he read her all wrong. Friendly as she had been, Sophie would not be his ally. It was brutally apparent she didn’t want him involved with her mother and might prove to be an enemy instead. He was on his own… again.
“What in the world am I going to tell her now?” Violet muttered.
“You needn’t worry, Violet,” he said, placing the shopping bag containing the dress for Georgiana back on the sofa along with all the other packages. “I also told her that you never sought romance with me, that Richard was still and would forever be your one and only…”
“Victor, that’s not…” she tried to interject, but he continued undaunted.
“And that friendship was the only thing you wanted from me from the first. It seems you may finally get your wish.”
“What…what do you mean?” she whispered.
“Clearly your daughter does not approve of me being in your life and knowing you as I do, that can mean only one thing,” he said. “You would never put your own feelings for me--assuming you have any positive ones left—above your children’s wishes. Although I will probably love you for the rest of my life, I will never ask you to marry me again. Romantically speaking, you are finally free of me.”
“I know I’ve said this before, but I mean it this time. I give up. I just ask you to please come to the Christmas party. All the angel kids will be there, so they will be most disappointed if you are not, as would Marty and Morris and my sons and…well, everyone. Even Marcus and Jocelyn will be there. I talked to them just last night and they’ll be returning from their long holiday with family just in time for Christmas here. It’s been a long time so I’m eager to see them both, plus their cute little boys and I’m sure they’ll want to see you, so please do not take it out on them that we…. I think we can still be friends, or at the very least for that one night we can pretend to be.”
With that said, he kissed her cheek and swiftly left the house, leaving her stunned and on the verge of tears.
Violet rapped lightly on the bedroom door. “Dinner’s ready,” she said.
“I’m not hungry,” came the stubborn and quite predictable answer.
Violet sighed, resting her forehead against the oak door. “Are we not going to talk about this?”
“What would be the point?” Sophie snapped. “Not like you’d actually tell the truth.”
Violet took a deep breath then opened the door, but stayed on the threshold leaning against the doorframe. For a few moments she watched her daughter face down on her bed, propped up on boney elbows and fussing unnecessarily with the pink bow around her favorite--and ancient-- teddy bear’s neck.
“I never lied to you, Sophie.”
“Lies of omission are still lies,” she retorted, not bothering to look up. “How many times over the year did I ask you if there was anything new going on and you never said anything about him? He told me that you met way back in February. That’s nine months you lied to me! You could have told me Mr. Romanoff was your boyfriend, Mom.”
“We…he is not my boyfriend,” Violet insisted. “Not really.”
“How stupid do you take me for?” Sophie said, springing up to kneeling position. “He came waltzing into the house like he owned the place. He told me he’s in love with you. He told me he’s asked you to marry him and not just once! Tell me, was he living here with you all this time and you made him leave before I got here, so I wouldn’t find out about this?”
“Of course not!” Violet shouted. “This is precisely why I didn’t tell you. I knew you would see more into it than there was.”
“Then why don’t you start telling me the truth? Are you in love with Mr. Romanoff?”
Sophie asked, hugging the little bear to her chest. “Have you really forgotten all about Daddy?”
Violet shook her head. “I’ll never forget Richard. He’s the first thing I think of every morning and the last thought I have before I fall asleep at night and a million times during the day something...everything will remind me of him. So, no, it would be impossible for me to ever forget him.”
“Not for lack of trying, I guess,” Sophie mumbled waspishly.
“I never tried to…and even if I had I wouldn’t have been successful,” Violet replied, recalling vividly the fun-filled summer with Victor and the angel kids in which she deliberately tried to forget Richard, but then guilt set in and she couldn’t do it.
She sighed, came into the room and sat beside her daughter who swiftly moved away, leaning against her pillows, still clutching the stuffed toy. She thought of Victor and why she liked him so much and why she had needed him then. The answer came to her easily.
“He talked about me, remember? And at the time you needed that,” Richard whispered in her ear.
“Yes. That was the one thing Victor allowed me that no one else did,” Violet said quietly.
“What?” Sophie said.
“He didn’t ask me to forget Richard, not once. While everyone else, Freddy and Jocelyn and everybody, told me to just get over it...he’s dead, he’s gone, just move on...Victor let me talk about Richard, allowed me to remember him, the good times and the bad times… although there weren’t many of those. He actually encouraged me to talk about him, Sophie! He asked me about Richard all the time. He wanted to know Richard, all about him. Victor kept him alive for me. He thought they could have been friends, and I’m sure they would have been had they ever had the chance. Richard was so…so good that way. Friends with everybody. Victor told me they had briefly talked once, so…they kind of met.”
Sophie frowned. “That makes no sense,” she said. “Why would he do that if he was… wouldn’t he want you to totally forget about Dad so you could fall in love with him? Or is he lying and he’s not really in love with you?”
Violet wondered at the hopeful note in her voice, but set that aside. “We were friends, Sophie,” she said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to say. Victor was… in essence, my only friend at a time… when I felt I had none.”
“Oh, come on. You have tons of friends, Mom!”
“Yes, but… they didn’t know how to talk to me after Richard died. They were…I don’t know…uneasy because…maybe because I reminded them of death and how easily life could be snuffed away. I was no longer just Violet. I was Richard’s widow…as if I had a curse on me.”
“But what about Uncle Freddy and Aunt Laurie and Aunt Jocelyn and…”
“Freddy was busier than ever with work, and Laurie with the kids so I would just have been in their way. Jocelyn was struggling to keep her business going with the demands of a very ill mother so far away. I didn’t want to burden her further and… everyone else…they just didn’t have time or they were tired of my whining.”
“Not whining! You were in mourning,” Sophie corrected.
Violet shrugged. “Same thing to them. They didn’t like me continually talking about Richard. I was being morbid, they said. They didn’t think they should have to hold my hand and constantly say, “There, there, now, it’ll be all right,” Violet scoffed. “All very well and good for them, but I knew darn well it would never be all right again and they didn’t want to hear it.”
Sophie watched as tears filled her mother’s eyes. “And…and Mr. Romanoff… he… uh… made you happy?”
Violet sighed and looked out the window where snow was accumulating at the corners. “Less sad, I guess,” she said. “At first just less sad, but eventually… happier. He helped make mourning…manageable somehow. It was through him I got my dream job at Weston and that certainly helped.”
“And that was a better job than helping Aunt Jocelyn at Mio Caro?”
“I was very glad to be able to help Jocelyn when she needed me, but after she came back, she didn’t need me so much anymore and you know how much I love gardens and being in charge of the children’s garden was custom made for me. It combined the two areas I’m best at, flowers and kids. I love that job, Sophie, and for that reason alone, I owe Victor so much.”
“Owe him? So, you do love him then?” Sophie said, unaccountably annoyed again.
“I…well…yes. Yes, I…I guess I do love him… like a friend,” she said, biting her bottom lip.
Sophie frowned. “Are ya gonna marry him?”
Violet shook her head. “I…I can’t.”
“Because…I can’t love him like I loved Richard. It wouldn’t be fair to him.”
Sophie sighed with relief. “Good, cuz I don’t think he’s right for you,” she said.
Violet frowned. “Why do you say that?”
“I…well, he’s nothing like Daddy, that’s why,” Sophie said, tossing her teddy bear aside and getting up from the bed. “Let’s eat. I’m hungry now.
“Okay,” Violet said, a bit confused as she following her out and down the stairs to the kitchen. “So why were you practically throwing me at Laurence? He was even less like Richard.”
Sophie shrugged. “I…I guess the dollar signs got in my eyes. I pictured you in a mansion surrounded by innumerable luxuries which you deserve and…he could have been your prince.”
“Richard was my prince, Sweetie,” Violet said. “I don’t need another one and you know I wouldn’t know what to do with luxuries.”
Sophie was not certain she could believe her mother wasn’t at last a little bit in love with Victor. He was wonderful, after all, intelligent and witty, charming and gorgeous! She saw it all for herself while talking to him. How could anyone keep from falling madly in love with him? Certainly not even her mother.
Sophie should know. to her he was just like Ronnie.
©2014 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved
♪ ♫… …♩ ♬