Monday, December 29, 2014

Chapter 233: I had a dream last night

Anxious and nervous as all get-out having not received any texts or calls from either of the boys nor Sophie herself, Violet, in an attempt to silence or at least drown out the incessant voice in her head, popped in a DVD and sat down to crochet mindlessly while watching a Jane Austen marathon, just to get her mind off Sophie and what that demon Antoine might be planning.

She grimaced at her own choice of words. He wasn't evil, surely...she just couldn't trust him.

“Well, you shouldn't and neither should Sophie! He's up to no good,” Richard said, groaning at the opening credits for Pride and Prejudice. “Not this one again! My head will explode if I have to sit through this crap for the thousandth time.”

Being he was very much dead already and not in any danger of his ghostly head exploding, this should not have been a problem, at least not for Violet who sat down wrapped in her favorite hand-crocheted granny square blanket, the scarf she was creating, the half skein of yarn and crochet hook in her hands.

On screen Elizabeth Bennett was telling her best friend Charlotte of the insult Mr. Darcy had just bestowed upon her, both of them laughing heartily at the loathsome cretin, when Violet drifted off to sleep muttering to herself, “Why can't life be like a Victorian era novel?”, and she dreamt a rather peculiar dream:

Violet was standing expectantly at the entrance of a beautiful mansion. She wore a lovely, gauzy, white gown trimmed with lace and delicate embroidery, her hair done up in an intricate array of curls with tiny baby's breathe tucked in artfully, long white gloves on her arms. She was at the ball given by Mr. Bingley and within a few moments she was dancing with a rather dashing looking gentleman. 

Oddly enough, he looked a bit like Victor, but she could tell it was not him. For one thing he had a mustache and spoke with a refined British accent, and for another he was not a very good dancer. Victor, of course, was excellent on the dance floor.

She loved the dance though! So elegant, so graceful---when the man wasn't clumsily stepping on her satin-slippered toes-- and utterly delightful to twirl about the elaborately decorated room. Oh, but to live like this every day! Why couldn't she have been born back then as one of Elizabeth Bennett's sisters? She already had the same last name, after all.

They—or rather he-- talked extensively about his climb to Mount Everest as they danced. Violet paid little attention to this although she managed to give credible replies when required. Although shocking to the Violet having the dream, the Violet in the dream was more interested in what lay beneath all his fancy clothing. He was a well built man, very Darcy-ish indeed, and just when she was about to break all rules of decorum and mention this to the man, he gratefully changed the subject onto more interesting topics.

“My dear Madam, as you have not declared your contempt for me thus far...”

“And prey tell, Sir, why would you assume I would do such a thing as this?” she replied--goodness, even she suddenly developed a cultured British accent. “I have only just made your acquaintance. Prey, forgive me, but...I cannot even recall knowing your name.”

“George Mallory at your service, My dear Miss Violet,” he said bowing.

She curtsied and they proceeded in the dance. “I wonder, Mr. Mallory, how you come to know me when I do not know you?”

“Ah! You are famous, my dear Miss Violet, did you not know this?”

“No, I did not,” she said, frowning slightly. “Sir, why should you think I have contempt for you when I know so little of you? I am not one of those persons who makes rash judgments on those I barely know.”

“I suppose you do not, but I, on the other hand, know more about you than you should ever expect and though I know of your exemplary character second hand, I find I agree wholeheartedly with everyone's assertions,” he said, bumping into a neighboring couple, just barely missing stepping on the lady's feet.

Violet lifted her eyebrows at this declaration. “Indeed? How so?”

“There are no secrets in the country, Madam. People will talk and people will listen when others have a juicy piece of gossip, I amongst them. I've heard tell of your...shall we say...knack for dowsing the hopes of all your suitors in turn, and , I flatter myself, now it is my turn at it.”

“Is it?” she asked, curiously.

He smiled. “I dare say it is. My dear Miss Violet, you will not trifle with me, surely. You must tell me at once if your feelings toward me are along the lines of dislike and...”

“I do not dislike you, Sir,” she interjected.

“...if your hatred for me is such...”

“I cannot very well hate you if I do not dislike you,” she reasoned.

“But does that follow that you will give my proposal serious consideration?”

“Your proposal, Sir?” she repeated, her heart giving a sudden start. Good heavens, was this man thinking along the same line as she was? How scandalous...and how intriguing!

“I find you as charming and delightful as I expected. Nay! What I discover for myself far and away exceeds what I heard tell. You are beautiful and wonderful, a witty woman out for my own heart. I beg you to be my wife and release me from this torment,” he said, in a rather dispassionate tone. “I know I am nothing so fine, nothing to what is due to you, but I shall strive to be worthy of your attentions.”

She made a funny face and shook her head, exasperated. “Why, oh why must every man of my acquaintance insist on groveling at my feet?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You should!” she snapped.

“I do not understand you.”

“Well, duh!”

He merely gaped at her and stupidly said, “I confess I do not...uh...know how to respond.”

“That, good Sir, is clear by your solicitous manner, this quailing attitude,” she said, rubbing at her forehead as though she was trying to keep her brain from throbbing its way out of her skull. “Mr. Mallory, I don't mean to be rude, but I'm tired of this ridiculous fawning, of polite affections, of nothing so un-enticing as a bored sounding voice pleading with me and for what? For a weak, lukewarm, half love? No thanks!”

“My dear Miss Violet, I assure you I will do all in my power to make you happy. You will want for nothing. All that I own I place at your feet and that which in not in my possession at present I will make yours, come hell or high water.”

She growled deep in her throat.“That is not what I want!”

“Then...what do you want?” he asked.

“I...What I cannot be had easily, I suppose. I nearly had it once,” she said sadly.

“I understand now. You speak of your dearly departed husband. He was the love of your life, was he not? I cannot suppose anything I do will reach that level of perfection, try as I might.”

“It was never...does that mean I am never to get that again...or that I can't wish for something better?” she asked, desperately.

“We can always wish, Madam, but I do not believe what you crave is within me to give,” he said. “Only you can say what is acceptable to you, I believe.”

“I must agree with you, Sir. It most certainly won't happen with this unctuous behavior of yours,” she mused. “Sir, I'm done with love-sick men, kowtowing wimps who only wish for me to love them half as much as I have my dead husband. As if that's enough for anyone!”

When he didn't respond, she continued. “To make myself clear, I do not want a quailing person treating me like a statue without feelings, a beseeching robot granting me my every whim as if I were a spoiled child, a timid being afraid to make me angry or sad or to feel anything at all. Mr. Mallory, might I ask where is the passion?”

He cleared his throat and looked around them. The music had stopped, the couples around them were showing their appreciation for it and were now moving on. The dance was done. George Mallory bowed to Violet which alerted her to her surroundings once more. She curtsied, took his arm and followed him away from the dance area where new couples were forming for the next dance.

“My dear Miss Violet,” he said, his voice lowered. “If we were not in such a public place, with so many eyes upon us, so many ears to listen I would gladly show you the length and breadth of my passion...actively... and vigorously.”

Violet smiled. “Could you, indeed?”

He nodded, also smiling. She stepped closer and yes, she could already feel his passion.

“We must be discrete,” he said, lowering his voice further.

“Must we?” she replied.

He cleared his throat again, suddenly feeling hot around the collar...and elsewhere.

 “Miss Violet, have you seen the extraordinary portrait gallery of which Bingley is now in possession? There is no rival for excellence,” he said, his voice a tad louder than necessary.

She shook her head, a sly little smirk on her face. “No, I have not had that pleasure. Might I trouble you to show it to me?”

“With pleasure,” he replied, bowing to her before leading the way up the wide, curving staircase.

“Hopefully, the pleasure will not all be yours,” she remarked.

Violet, jerked awake by the annoying notification sound on her cell phone, pouted. “Blimey...just as it was getting good,” she muttered grabbing the phone and looking at the text which just came in from Ronnie. “Oh, he found her. What a relief.” She smiled re-reading his message. The silly boy will insist on calling her “mom”. He was so sweet.

 She typed in the message: Thank you so much for this, Ronnie. Anything you want is yours, just ask.

She laughed when he replied, “Cookies!” A moment later he sent: “And a new wife for dad and a step-mom for me.”

She put down the phone feeling unaccountably guilty and something else, something she couldn't define. She distractedly watched the dance scene in which Elizabeth and Darcy dance for the first time. Neither one of them enjoyed it much, unlike her own dream dance.

She giggled and wondered how it would be if Elizabeth and Darcy had had a conversation more like the one Violet had with Mr. Mallory. Would they have ended up in the portrait gallery and eventually in some empty, dark, secluded corner where Mr. Darcy would bring out the Lord Byron within giving Elizabeth the thrill of her life? Of course, that would have changed the entire story.

“Surely not,” she muttered, her smile fading. The dream made her wonder.

What had her dream meant? She always believed dreams were a window to the soul's deepest desires, the brain's way of sending advice or a prophetic message. Of course, most times these messages were so well hidden in the dream, no one could decipher them. Career assassins handing out exploding marzipan pineapples to unsuspecting and very ordinary housewives to blow up annoying men was proof of that!

The Violet in the dream said she wanted more than “polite affections”. More what? Passion? Where is the passion, she had asked. Is that what was lacking?

She thought back to when she and Richard first got together. Oh, there was passion there from the first, all right! So much so that she managed to get pregnant before her seventeenth birthday. Through all their years together, it hadn't changed much.

Now with Victor it was a bit different...somewhat. She was dead set against liking him, forget about falling in love with him. But despite her best efforts she was drawn to him. While parts of her—her guilt-ridden heart and her sensible head-- pushed him away and fought him tooth and nail, other parts wanted him...badly. No doubt about it there had been passion, passion enough to consume a thousand acre California forest within minutes.

But something happened, something changed. What was it? What was stopping her?
In so many ways Victor was very much like Richard, but in others he was--dare she say it?-- he may be better. Was that it? Back to the guilt?

Yes, guilt was still there. She suspected that would be a constant she could never remove completely, especially with Sophie so against it. Violet was simply wired that way. She had been so close to accepting Victor, though, at one point, and then...what changed?

She continued crocheting, alternately dwelling on her dream and watching the movie, and eventually she finished the scarf. Then she started a hat, knitting this time. All the while she noticed little character traits in all the people of the story, noting what she liked and what she didn't. Could any of that apply to Victor and herself and her silly dream? Just as she was giving up her dream analysis as a waste of time, she heard a most welcome noise outside.

“Oh, thank God!” Violet said, for the second time that night tossing aside her knitting as car doors slammed shut. She ran to the front door and threw it open, letting a flurry of snow in along with Ronnie, Sophie in his arms.

“Sophie! Are you hurt?”

“No, Mom, Ronnie just has an over-developed sense of chivalry,” Sophie said once Ronnie placed her on her spiky heels.

“Fine, next time you can have frozen feet. I shoulda let you walk in the snow like Simon said,” Ronnie grumbled.

“Now, don't be like that, Ronnie,” Sophie said. “I didn't say I didn't appreciate it, but I suppose you think I don't because I didn't thank you yet, so...” She went up on tip toe and kissed him, a soft, chaste kiss right smack-dab on the lips. Then she smiled and did it again, lingering a heart beat longer. “There now, was that a proper thank you, or do you need more than that?”

Ronnie glanced sheepishly at Violet then muttered, “You're welcome.”

“Isn't he the sweetest guy ever, Mom?” Sophie said, never taking her eyes off his slowly reddening face.

“He certainly is,” Violet said, her suspicion that Sophie still liked Ronnie nearly confirmed. She waited for Sophie to step aside to remove her wrap, and Violet hugged him around the middle. “Thank you so much, Ronnie. I was so worried about Sophie, but apparently needlessly. My mother's intuition was just on overdrive tonight, I guess.”

Ronnie raised his eyebrows at Sophie, but she shook her head.

“Not exactly, Violet,” he said. “Sophie, are you gonna tell her or should I?”

“Tell me what?” Violet said looking from one to the other.

“It's nothing really, Mom,” Sophie said, casting a reproachful look at him. “There was a bit of an accident.”

 “Seriously? You're going with accident?”Ronnie shouted. 

Violet stopped listening when her eyes fell upon Simon who only just then coming up the walkway seemed to be carrying a familiar sounding bundle of his own. “Is that...Cassandra?”

“Hello, Violet!” Cassandra shouted, before bursting into song as they cleared the threshold. “Oceans of Violets in bloom...aminals spike goofy posies...they feel defeat....oooh, baby, baby!” She then giggled uncontrollably.

“What...what's wrong with her?” Violet asked, her eyes wide as full moons.

“I'm feeling fine!” Cassandra said, wrapping her arms tightly around Simon's neck and kissing his cheek. “I got me a new boyfriend, Violet....isn't he beautiful?”

“Uh...yes...yes, he is,” Violet said, stunned.

Apparently her dream wasn't the only bizarre thing to happen this night.

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