When Violet arrived at Victor's house, she spotted what looked like a totem pole made up of the eager faces of three cherubs peering at her from the glass panels on the side of the front door. She smiled and waved at them—the totem pole merrily waving back-- and as she climbed the steps the door flung open.
“Hi, Violet!” the disassembled totem pole shouted, pulling her in and each telling her something of vital importance—in their minds anyway.
“Ya wanna see the cars I got from Reggie?” Peter said, tugging the sleeve of her coat.
“Reggie toll us we got more grandparents. Isn't that cool?” Julian said, tugging on her other sleeve.
“Uh...Reggie is who again?” Violet asked, removing her hat and gloves.
“Our other dad,” Peter said casually.
“Our first dad,” Julian corrected.
“Our biological father,” Georgiana corrected the correction.
“Oh, I see,” Violet said, gauging the varied reactions of each child. Peter seemed indifferent at best, Julian appeared excited and delighted, and Georgiana was obviously worried and anxious. “So, you met your father. How did it go?”
Before any of them could answer Victor came into the foyer with the Wall Street Journal in hand.
“That was quick,” Victor said, folding the paper and setting it aside on the half-moon table by the front door.
“I did tell you I was on the way when you called,” Violet said. “Isn't Marty here yet? I expected her here before me.”
“Is she supposed to be?” Victor asked. “She didn't say anything about coming.”
“Well, yes, she said we need to make this place suitable for the party. I assumed she would be here, too... to, you know... direct us and tell us what she wants done and precisely how,” Violet said, suddenly feeling self-concious. She got the funny feeling she was being duped by the crafty Marty...again.
“Can't we just do it our way?” Julian asked.
“And have Marty blow a gasket? I don't think so,” Victor said.
“What's a gasset?” Peter said.
“Sounds painful, whatever it is,” Georgiana muttered.
“We usta twim da cwissmas tree at de orghanage. We know how ta do it,” Peter said.
“Yes, I know. It always looked so beautiful,” Violet said, putting her hand on his shoulder. “But Marty is very particular.”
“And since it's her party,” Victor said rolling his eyes. “We'll wait for Marty just to be on the safe side. In the meantime, let's eat.”
“Ronnie got pizza!” Julian said, skipping away into the kitchen.
“Don't worry,” Victor whispered to Violet, as he removed her coat, placing it in the hall closet for her. “He brought us a couple of stombolis and a calzone, too.”
Violet giggled. “You seem to forget, I'm not so much the snob that I won't eat pizza.”
“Yes, but I am so...” Victor said, staring at her. “I'm glad you're here, Violet.”
You'd think, by the way Violet's heart gave a sudden jolt, that he had told her he planned on taking her to bed that night. It did seem like old times all over again, but the silly woman need not worry about such things being on Victor's mind at present or perhaps ever again. More's the pity!
“Me too,” she managed to whisper. “Victor...”
Violet jumped and was immediately lifted off her feet in the usual bear hug. “Hi, Ronnie,” she said. “Glad to see me, are ya?”
“Always!” he said. Kissing her cheek, he put her back on her feet, and practically dragged her into the dining room, leaving Victor to mourn the loss of what could have been a moment.
“Can't I talk to Violet first?” Georgiana anxiously said to Victor before they all took their places at the dining table.
“After we eat,” Victor said. “Violet needs some down time after working hard all day.”
“Is it weally hard to pway wiff fowers?” Peter asked.
Violet laughed. “Sometimes it is. Those large displays of poinsettias don't arrange and move themselves you know.”
Peter blinked several times silently wondering what poinsettias were and why anybody had to arrange and move them, but he said nothing and merely bit into his slice of pepperoni pizza from which he first removed the pepperoni and dumped them onto Georgiana's plate.
It didn't take long for the talk to get around to Reggie again and it took even less time for Violet to catch the imminent danger with this new development.
“How had The Trents not found...” Violet started to say, but quickly stopped and instead said, “That's... that sounds nice.”
“Yeah, can't wait to see 'em,” Julian said.
“Do we gotta call em Grampa and Gramma, too, same as...de real Gramma and Grampa?” Peter asked.
“That would be confusing and not right,” Georgiana said, disapprovingly.
“We'll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Victor said.
“What bridge?” Julian said.
“Da one wiff a troll wiving under it?” Peter asked.
“There are no trolls, Peter. Ronnie was just kidding when he told you that,” Georgiana said, impatiently.
“Whaddya mean there are no trolls?” Ronnie said in mock surprise. “Didn't Harry Potter kill one in the girl's bathroom once?”
Georgiana, who was in no mood to kid around, rolled her eyes and promptly stated, “Harry Potter isn't real either and it was Ron who knocked out the troll, not killed it and I don't want all that pepperoni, Peter!”
Ronnie reached over and stole the offending circular meat and plopped the whole stack into his mouth. “Problem solved.”
“Has Reggie signed away...I mean...signed anything?” Violet said in a low voice to Victor as the kids continued to bicker.
Victor shook his head and she now knew why she was invited, but what, prey tell, could she do to help?
“I wish you would stop saying that, Julian,” Georgiana whined. “If they really cared about us they woulda looked for us before we went to the orphanage, so I don't think they will want to see us now and anyway...I don't wanna see them.”
“But they're our real grandparents,” Julian said.
“Marty and Morris are more real cuz they love us!” she shouted.
“You don't think our real grandparents will love us? But...but Reggie said...” Julian said.
“Reggie's just a stupid guy who forgot he already had kids when he started making babies with another girl,” Georgiana said.
“Enough!” Victor cut in. “No more talk about Reggie or grandparents or anything related. Georgie...eat.”
“I'm not hungry,” she said in a sulky voice.
“Please, Honey,” Violet said coaxing her with a smile. “If you don't eat something you'll faint before we get the angel up on the top of the tree.”
“I don't faint cuz I don't eat. That's for supermodels,” Georgiana said, but she took a bite from her slice anyway.
“Speaking of supermodels...” Violet said, casting wildly for a new topic and looking around. “Where is Simon?”
Ronnie burst out laughing and nearly choked on his food. “Since when is Simon a supermodel?”
“Oh...no, I meant...well,” Violet said, turning slightly pink. “I wondered first where Sophie was and she's the closest thing I know to a supermodel and then I figured she was with Cassie and then I realized Simon wasn't here and...uh...I'm a bit scatter-brained lately.”
Ronnie grinned at his father. “I just love her, Dad! Can't we keep her?”
“She's not a stray dog, Ronnie,” Victor growled-- ironically just like an ornery dog.
“Well, anyway...Simon took the girls to a movie,” Ronnie said, before biting into his third or perhaps fourth slice of pizza.
“Why didn't you go with them?” Violet asked.
“I woulda if they had settled on something other than the seventh Spiderman, sixth Superman, eighth Batman or the tenth Ironman movie. I can only take so much comic book crap,” Ronnie said.
Violet laughed. “Sophie has a crush on the newest Superman... Henry something or other. He is kinda cute.”
“So I hear,” Ronnie muttered with a distasteful look on his face. “Anyway, they were also going to dinner with Cassie's family after the movie and I have to work so...”
“You didn't tell me that,” Victor said.
“I told you I work tonight,” Ronnie said.
“No, about Simon,” Victor said.
“You didn't ask,” Ronnie said. “We'll see if he survives.”
“What do you mean survives?” Violet said.
Ronnie grinned and shrugged. “Frank tells me his father does NOT like Simon—like not even a tiny bit-- and since the guy he wants Cassie to marry will be there too...there might be fireworks. Wish I could be there to see it.”
Victor and Violet exchanged stunned looks.
“Fireworks for Christmas... That's a new one,” Victor mumbled, making Violet laugh.
“I suppose we'll see how much Simon truly likes Cassie. Mr. Bellarosa can be a bit... demanding and could drive away an ardently in love Sir Lancealot,” Violet said.
“Who likes to dance a lot?” Peter asked, dumping his crust on Georgiana's plate.
“Not dance a lot...Lancealot,” Georgiana muttered irritably.
“Well, Violet does, but that's beside the point,” Victor said. “If you're done, you kids can take Violet into the family room. I think we can decorate that tree without earning the ire of Marty...I hope.”
As they were moving from the table a commotion outside forced them to go to the foyer to check it out.
“Marty! Is that...Morris? What in the world?” Violet said, her mouth hanging open at the sight.
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