The last of the hot chocolate vanished much like a lovely tasting memory, but that wasn't enough to make the four of them wish this moment to end. The gears in everyone's heads were spinning at top speed as they sat quietly at the kitchen table... thinking, thinking, thinking....
Sophie wondered how to make them-- the boys, but mostly Ronnie-- come back. Now that she had him in her sights and actually got to talk to him—something she never managed to do when in high school-- she did not want this opportunity to slip through her fingers like a handful of sand. She wanted her shot with Ronnie--before her mother did something woefully inconvenient like marry his father making him her step-brother!-- and she was determined that nothing short of a natural disaster would get in her way. If only she could think of something to make them come back...
Unknown to Sophie, Violet was thinking the same thing and oddly for the same reason. No, Violet did not have the hots for Ronnie—nor Simon for that matter--, but she knew her daughter did and she couldn't pick a better boyfriend for her daughter than Ronnie who she knew to be sweet, sensitive, funny, trustworthy, affectionate and such a nice boy all around—in short nothing like Antoine. She was certain they had loads in common—their mutual love for music being the major one. Surely there was some way to get those two together. If only she could think of it...
Oddly enough, Ronnie wanted a reason to come back, too, to spend more time with Sophie—no surprise there. He was so smitten by her he simply felt compelled to be with her, even if he had no intention of letting things progress with her as he wished. He could not, would NOT be the cause for his father's misery, which of course would be the result if he and Sophie... No, it just could not be.
To that end, he hoped to get Sophie on his side and the only way to do that was to spend time with her, get friendly with her—in a brotherly fashion, of course-- and convince her that their parents belonged together. If he did that then Violet would marry his dad and all would be great...except, of course, that Sophie would then be his step-sister.
Ah well, you can't have everything you want, but how the heck was he going to invite himself over without being obvious? Simon was the one that was good at that, but surely he wouldn't want to come back.
How wrong Ronnie was.
Simon wanted the same as his brother. No, not to get friendly with Sophie. Frankly, he couldn't see the attraction his dimwitted brother had for this airhead. He might have just stumbled upon the reason...two peas in a pod! To each his own, he supposed. Simon's reason for wishing to return to Violet's house was simple, though he would never let anyone know it. He liked Cassandra...a bit more than he wanted to admit even to himself. Also, he was a bit worried about her and was rethinking that they ought to have taken her to the hospital. She was so out of it, much more so than he had thought previously, but now that she was sleeping soundly...well, he hoped she would be all right and seeing for himself tomorrow would certainly ease his conscience. Plus, he was curious if she would remember him or anything she said to him that night. He wouldn't mind getting to know her better...assuming her Rambo brother allowed this.
“Well, isn't this an odd kettle of fish,” Heidi said, suddenly appearing out of nowhere, making Richard jump.
“Hell's bells! Where did you come from?” he said angrily.
She laughed. “Boy, I'm good...able to startle a fellow ghost. Richard dear, you nearly jumped out of your skin. I do apologize.”
“How long you been here?” he asked.
“Long enough,” she replied leaning slightly to whisper in her grandson Simon's ear. She proceeded to her other grandson and whispered to him as well. She then went to the ladies and did the same.
“What are you saying to them?” Richard asked.
“You'll see,” she said, a knowing smile on her pink glossed lips, as she stepped back to witness the result.
Right on cue, Simon stood up and grabbed Violet's empty cup and his own, taking them to the sink. “Well, now that our mission is done and we've been debriefed...”
Sophie leaned toward Ronnie and whispered, “You were right. He already sounds like a CIA agent.”
Ronnie just barely suppressed a laugh.
“We should be getting home,” Simon finished.
Violet took the other cups to the sink and smiled up at him. “Thank you for everything, Simon. I wish I could do something for you,” she said.
“Well, there is one thing you could do, but not really for me. If you can, please check up on Cassandra before you go to bed,” he said anxiously. “I know Ronnie said she's sleeping soundly now, but I can't rest easy just yet, not until I know she's really over this. She was so out of it, you know? If she's not doing well or wakes up in the middle of the night feeling sick, could you text me? At any time, please?”
“You're worried. Oh, Simon, how sweet of you. I will check on her. I wish I had an extra room so I could let you stay over since you know more about this than I do,” Violet said.
“Actually I don't. I'm just going by what Dr. Larimar told me,” Simon said, humbly. “Anyway, we're just ten minutes away. Would you mind if I stopped over tomorrow to see how she is?”
Violet giggled. “Already making house calls, Dr. Romanoff?”
He chuckled. “I wouldn't go that far.”
“You know what?” Violet said, excitedly. “I don't have to go into work until late tomorrow—well, not until eleven-- so come by for breakfast. Both of you. Ronnie, you'll come too?”
“That would be awesome!” Sophie said, unable to contain her happiness.
“Hell yeah! I love...oh...” he said grimacing. “I can't. I just remembered, I gotta watch the kids for Dad.”
Violet saw the delight in her daughter's face dim instantly. “Well, you could bring them...if you think they'd like to come,” she said.
“Seriously?” Ronnie said. “They'd love it!”
“They would. We told you how Peter had a meltdown at dinner today when Dad told him he couldn't come with us,” Simon said. “But are you sure you want so many at breakfast?”
“I don't mind. I'd love to see them,” Violet said, and she found she really meant it. She suddenly realized she missed those kids.
“So, now I get to meet your new little brothers and sisters,” Sophie said, grinning at Ronnie.
“They're really cute. I think you'll like them,” Ronnie said, more like a wish. If he got her to like Georgiana, Julian and Peter and if she saw how great Violet is with them maybe Sophie would be more able to see why Violet and Victor should be married. If his plan worked, his brothers and sisters would be her step-brothers and step-sisters some day. If nothing else, he at least would get to see her again. He suddenly felt very happy.
He jumped to his feet. “Can't wait for tomorrow to get here!” he said, going to Violet and hugging her right off her feet, making her squeal.
“Calm down, George,” Simon said. “Or you'll hurt her like one of your rabbits.”
“Huh?” Ronnie said, setting her on her feet again.
Violet giggled. “Of Mice and Men...or Bugs Bunny.”
Simon smiled and nodded.
Ronnie looked from one to the other, then glanced at Sophie. “What the hell are they talking about?”
She shrugged. “No clue.”
Violet rolled her eyes. “The state of education these days...” she muttered leading them to the foyer. “I'll see you all bright and early. Eight thirty, okay?”
“Perfect,” Simon said, kissing her cheek. “Sleep well.”
“Don't I get a kiss?” Sophie said, looking at Ronnie.
“Seriously?” Simon said, grabbing his brother by the arm, pushing him through the front door into the flurry of snowflakes coming down before Ronnie got the notion to do any such thing. “After the damage you've caused your friend upstairs, you're lucky I don't smack you. Good night, ladies.”
They stood by the opened door until the guys hopped into the truck, waving at them and pulled out of the snow-covered driveway.
“Ronnie's right. Simon can be a real prick,” Sophie said, annoyed.
“Don't say that. He's just...” Violet searched for the word, but it wasn't coming to her.
“A dick-head,” Sophie said. “But you like him pretty much despite that, don't you? Both of them.”
“They're darling boys and I shouldn't have to remind you that they just saved you from getting drugged and raped by a sociopath, so yes, I adore them, and I'd do anything for them if they asked,” Violet vehemently said.
“Does anything include marrying their father?”
Violet stared at her daughter, her heart skipping a beat. She didn't like this, the way everyone thought they could tell her what to do. From her bully of a father, her well-meaning brother Freddy, to Richard, to every single one of her friends and now her own daughter, they all felt quite comfortable telling her exactly what to do, and worst of all, they assumed she would do their bidding unquestioned. True, it was her own fault for allowing this for her entire life, but things were in need of changing. Now was as good a time as any.
Violet licked her lips, weighing her words carefully. “What I do with my life ...what I choose to do with it from this moment on will not be dictated by anyone other than me. For far too long I've allowed others to tell me what to do. I had to live up to their expectations of me, but no more and that includes you, Sophie. So, if you feel the need to tell me what to do in future, stuff it, cuz I won't be listening and you'll just have to deal with it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go check on Cassie and then I'm getting to bed. I have to get up early to make this Thank-you breakfast for my favorite two boys in all of Catalpa Valley. Good night, my love.”
Stunned, Sophie could only watch her go up the stairs. Did that mean...what did that mean?
“It means I don't have much time. I gotta get on Ronnie real quick...literally!” she mumbled to herself.
“Well, how do ya like that?” Richard said, a bit taken aback. “What do you think Violet meant by that? You think she's gonna...”
“Indeed, I don't quite know what to think of it,” Heidi replied. “Guess we'll have to wait and see just like everyone else.”
Sophie was not a morning person, but she set her alarm to awaken her in time to get ready for Ronnie. He was coming, after all, and she was not about to miss a moment of him being in her house. She awoke abruptly, however, several minutes before the alarm went off, to the smell of coffee and something which smelled suspiciously like pumpkin spiced muffins--one of her favorites!
She tossed the blankets off her bare legs and rushed to gather her clothes—carefully picked the night before-- and went to take a shower. When she emerged from the steamy bathroom she felt ready for the world, and more importantly, to knock Ronnie's socks off.
Before heading downstairs, Sophie looked in on Cassandra. She still felt guilty, but it wasn't really her fault what happened to Cassie, she kept telling herself, even though Simon thought it was. She didn't know what had been in her drink, after all! Cassandra should have known better than to drink out of someone else's glass—first rule of going to a bar. It's not like she meant for it to happen to her friend. She didn't have a clue Antoine was into that sort of thing. She thought she knew him better than that.
Which begged the question, why didn't she? Also, and more disturbingly, why didn't he do that to her a long time ago if he had already done it to other girls? Was he merely biding his time? She didn't understand that bit of it at all. She shivered at the thought of what might have happened.
She tiptoed into her brother's old room and found Cassandra still sleeping, her hair a mass of wilder-than-usual curls framing her delicate face. Sophie smiled at the doll Cassandra clutched under her chin—the doll's hair nearly as messy. No, that doll was no longer suitable for a Christmas gift to anyone else.
Sophie went down the stairs just as a persistent, yet light knocking came at the door and she went to answer it.
“Hi, Vi...oh...you're not Violet,” said a pouting little boy with big blue eyes, sandy blond hair and a pert little nose.
“Nope!” Sophie said looking passed him to Ronnie who was strolling up the walkway holding a little girl's hand. Her heart gave a little start when he smiled at her.
“Good morning!” Ronnie said.
“Violet's not here, Ronnie!” the little boy whined. “You promised!”
“Whaddya mean she's not here?” Ronnie said, visibly disappointed.
“I didn't say that,” Sophie said. “She's in the kitchen.”
Before she could say anything else, the boy pushed passed her and ran inside.
“Well...that must be...Peter?” she said when Ronnie and Georgiana came up the front steps.
“Yeah. He's a bit eager,” Ronnie said, trying not to look too eager himself. Georgiana tugged on his hand and he bent to hear her.
“Is that Sophie?” she said.
“Yep, that's Sophie. This is Georgiana, my new little sister. Ain't she cute? She's been dying to meet you,” Ronnie said.
“You told her about me?” Sophie said.
“No, Violet did. She's very proud of you, you know,” Georgiana answered, then she whispered to Ronnie again, although quite audibly, “She's very pretty, isn't she?”
Ronnie smiled. “Yes, she is.”
“Thank you,” Sophie said, happily, noticing he was dressed rather well. Not in jeans and a sweatshirt like he wore the night before, although he looked great in those too. Now he wore slacks and a button down shirt with a tie and a leather jacket over that. “You look very nice today,” she said.
“Thanks. My little sister picked out my clothes for me because she said this was a special day,” Ronnie said, shrugging.
“What's so special about today?” Sophie asked.
“Because Violet invited us to breakfast,” Georgiana replied.
Sophie laughed and turned to Ronnie. “Okay, and do you do everything she tells you?”
“Almost. She's much smarted than me!” Ronnie said.
Georgiana rolled her eyes. “I am not, Ronnie,” she said in a bored voice.
Sophie laughed again, just as Simon came up to the door with another boy, this one a bit older than the last one with darker hair, although with the same blue eyes. “Good morning, Simon. Are you in a better mood than you were last night?” she asked.
“That depends, are you any smarter today than you were yesterday?” he retorted.
“Dude!” Ronnie said.
“Simon, that was not very nice,” Georgiana said, frowning at him.
“I'm sorry, Georgiana,” Simon said.
“Don't say you're sorry to me. Say it to Sophie. She's the one you insulted,” she said walking inside and removing her coat, scarf and hat.
Simon grimaced then forced a smile. “Sophie, please forgive my rudeness.”
“I...uh...okay,” she said, a bit shocked. These guys really did do everything that little girl told them. She needed to find out her secret! She held the door open for all of them to come in and she helped the boy off with his coat.
“Are you Violet's daughter?” Julian asked, pulling his hat off so his staticy hair stuck up all over the place.
“Yes, I am,” Sophie said. “Who are you?”
“I'm Julian,” he said, carelessly tossing her the hat before running in the direction of Violet's voice.
“He's a bit eager, too,” Ronnie said, taking the coat and hat from her and hanging them up on the brass coat rack with his own and Georgiana's. They stood staring at each other until they realized both Georgiana and Simon were staring at them.
“What?” Ronnie said, irritably.
“We should say hello to Violet,” Georgiana said.
“Yes, we all should,” Simon said.
“Yeah, we're coming,” Ronnie said.
“So, how is our patient this morning? Did she sleep through the night?” Simon asked.
“As far as I know. She's still sleeping,” Sophie said. “You better ask Mom, though.”
They entered the kitchen to find Violet dispensing multiple hugs and kisses, and insisting the boys had grown since last she saw them.
“I did!” Peter said. “I growed two inches. Daddy said so!”
“I'm pretty sure that was two millimeters, kid,” Simon said. He sneaked a kiss in, too, saying, “Did you sleep well, Violet?”
“Not really. I kept getting up to check on Cassandra, but she seemed to be all right. She slept all through the night, anyway. I ought to check on her now,” Violet said.
“I just did, Mom, just before coming down. She was still sleeping,” Sophie said. “Should we wake her?”
“No, I think it's best we leave her. She'll wake up on her own, I think,” Simon said, tempering his disappointment. He had hoped she would be awake already.
“Hi, Violet,” Georgiana said, shyly.
“Oh, my goodness! Georgiana, look at you. You're gotten so pretty!” Violet said, enveloping the girl in her arms.
“She's always been pretty!” Ronnie said.
“You're right, of course, Ronnie,” Violet said. “But she seems extra pretty today. It's just been too long since I've seen any of you.”
“We missed you,” Georgiana said.
“I missed you too, Sweetie,” Violet said, giving her one last squeeze. “Now, is everyone hungry? I made something yummy for all of you.”
She took out of the oven a large glass dish.
“What's dat?” Julian asked, making a weird face.
“It's a quiche, if I'm not mistaken, and if I'm remembering correctly, it's delicious,” Simon said, going to the cupboard for dishes.
“What's in it?” Julian asked, warily watching her cut it into slices.
“Well, eggs, ham, cheese and a few spices, all things you like,” Violet explained as she served it, passing the filled plates to Simon as he handed her the empty ones.
“What's dat green stuff in it?” Julian asked again.
“That's bell pepper,” Violet said.
Julian made a face again and turned to his sister whispering, “Do I like bell pepper?”
“Uh-huh, Gramma Marty put some in the shrimp stir-fry you liked so much, remember?” Georgiana said.
“Oh, yeah...cool!” Julian then sat down and waited patiently to be served.
Simon shook his head. “I don't know how you mothers can tolerate little kids all the time. I wonder if I was like that when I was a kid,” he said.
“According to your dad, you were extremely funny and very bright at that age,” Violet said.
Simon stared at her. “He told you that?”
She nodded. “He especially liked listening to your wild, imaginative ideas while you were in the bathtub. He thought for sure you would invent a time machine or some other magnificent device to benefit all mankind in there...given enough time in the bubbles,” she said giggling.
Simon stood staring at her with his mouth half open and two full plates in his hands.
“I need another plate, Simon,” Violet said.
“Hello, Simon, we're hungry!” Julian said, not so patient anymore.
“Yeah, okay,” he said, bringing the plates over to the table, then returning to Violet with empty dishes. “You and Dad... you were so good together. What happened?”
Violet glanced around, but seeing Sophie dispensing cutlery and chatting with Ronnie and the kids, she felt safe to speak. “I don't think anything happened.”
“Something must have, Violet. Dad's not been happy...not for a while now,” Simon said, taking two other filled plates to the table and returning with two others.
“I saw it at Thanksgiving and I could hear it in his voice every time we spoke on the phone. I thought maybe the kids were too much for him, but it's not that at all. He told us...me and Ronnie, that...you pretty much are broken up with him. Why, Violet? What did he do wrong?”
Violet felt her breath catch in her throat. How in the world was she to answer that?
“Uh-uh...I dun want dat,” Peter was saying, pushing away the plate Simon placed in front of him.
“Oh, I forgot!” Violet said, opening the oven. There she pulled out a plate of plain scrambled eggs. “This is for you, Peter. I made it specially for you.”
“Why does he get something special?” Sophie asked. “Doesn't look too special to me.”
“Peter has an allergy to alliums, the poor dear,” Violet said, passing a loving hand over his blond mop-top. “Simon, would you get the ketchup for him?”
“How do you know that?” Sophie asked.
“That he wants ketchup?”
“No, that he has an allergy,” Sophie said. “And what's allium?”
Violet shrugged. “Onions, and ...I just know,” she said, going back to the stove then coming back to the table with a platter full of sausages, bacon and Canadian bacon. “And this is for Ronnie, the carnivore.” Violet laughed when his eyes and mouth popped open.
“I love you, Mom!” he shouted.
“I love you too, sweetie,” Violet said, giggling.
What the hell, Sophie thought jealously. Mom's moving in on my guy!
Simon brought over a basket of muffins, placed it on the table then held a chair out for Violet.
“I have to get the orange juice, Simon.”
“No, I'll get that. You sit down and eat. The kids came to spend time with you.”
Violet smiled and took her place between Peter and Julian.
Why the hell was Simon so damn nice to Mom, Sophie mused, especially when he was so mean to me???
She was sure there was something rotten in Catalpa Valley and she was sure gonna find out what it was!
©2015 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved ♪ ♫… …♩ ♬