Violet went to the kitchen table, placed the last remaining slice of pepperoni pizza on a plate, tossed the empty pizza box onto the counter and sat down, indicating to Georgiana to sit in the adjacent chair.
“But aren't we gonna clean up?” Georgiana asked, dutifully climbing onto the proffered chair.
“This seems a bit too serious a chat for distractions. You look too serious, anyway,” Violet said. “How about I warm this up in the microwave and you can eat it while you tell me what's bugging you, okay?”
“But I'm not hungry,” she replied, eying the pizza as if it planned on contradicting her.
“How about we share it then?” Violet said, taking it to the microwave. “I'll take the part with the crust and whatever you don't want to eat.”
“Crust is the best part,” Georgiana said, and to prove it she snatched a piece off Peter's plate, dipped it in some ranch dressing and took a bite.
“You know, I think you may be the only child I know who likes pizza crust,” Violet said, taking the slice out of the microwave after it started sizzling slightly. “Kenny and Sophie drove me nuts with their refusal to even try it. At least it kept my backyard birds fed.”
Georgiana laughed, which was precisely what Violet was going for.
“Now, how about you tell me how lunch went with your father and Victor and the boys? Julian especially seems excited about it all, but you and Peter... not so much. Did you not like him?” Violet said.
Georgiana took a deep breath and told her everything that happened in great detail; about the gifts from Reggie, her first refusing the teddy bear and then accepting it, the inquisition she ran him through and calling him a liar when he insisted he didn't play the piano and the amazing revelations which completely changed what Georgiana had known about her past, about her mother and the horrible man she thought had been her real father, and lastly the point at which Reggie broke down in tears and how guilty she felt about it.
“Wow,” Violet muttered, her eyes wide in surprise. “Wow.”
Georgiana nodded and took another bite from the nearly gone slice of pizza which she unconsciously had been nibbling on as she spoke. What was it about pizza, Violet wondered, that made people eat without noticing and also spill their guts while doing so? In any case, Violet got the bulk of the events of the day, how upset it made Georgiana—rightfully so-- but more importantly she got the traumatized little girl to eat at long last. In her book of motherly standards, this was the best part.
“Julian doesn't understand, Violet,” Georgiana whined. “He thinks it's great, but it's not.”
“What exactly do you mean?” Violet asked. “Are you talking about Reggie's parents? Your grandparents?”
Georgiana shook her head. “About Peter and... please don't tell him... or Julian,”
Georgiana whispered, as if they could be heard over the chatter and laughter all the way in the living room. “Julian can't keep a secret... like ever!”
“Peter doesn't seem upset about anything. He doesn't even seem to care much,” Violet said.
“That's cuz he doesn't get it,” Georgiana said, speaking quiet as a mouse. “He doesn't know he's not really our brother.”
“What! Of course he is! What in the world do you mean?” Violet said.
Georgiana shook her head again. “Reggie said something to Daddy that means... I think it means he's not Peter's father... that horrible Jessie guy is, the man that was married to Mom first and he was hanging around when Reggie wasn't there.”
Violet's mouth dropped open and she shook her head. “That can't... what exactly did Reggie say to make you think this?”
Georgiana recited the entire conversation, word for word, leaving Violet marveling that #1 a child of ten years old could recall everything so precisely and #2 that she also understood things which would have gone way over Violet's head when she was twice this girl's age.
“Sweetie... okay, that does imply that Reggie is not the real father, but that doesn't mean Peter isn't your brother,” Violet said. “It just means you have different fathers. You still have the same mother, after all.”
“But doesn't that make him... like a step brother? Simon told me step brothers aren't real brothers,” Georgiana said.
“No, not at all,” Violet said. “Peter would be your half-brother which is very different from step brother. A half brother is a real brother, connected by blood and genes and mutual relatives. A step-brother is what Ronnie and Simon are, related by adoption or marriage, but not by blood. Understand the difference?”
“Yes, I think so,” Georgiana said frowning slightly. “But it does make a difference. It means that Peter won't be allowed to go ...if we go to see Reggie's parents—our real grandparents. They're not Peter's grandparents, so he's gonna feel left out and...”
“Oh, Honey, come here,” Violet said, scooping her up into her arms and placing her on her lap, calming her fears. “I'm so sorry about all this coming down on you so suddenly, upsetting you so much. I know how worried you are about Peter, but Victor will explain it to him so he won't be too upset, and after all, you are not even sure that Reggie's parents will want to see you and Julian. That is a possibility, so maybe it's a bit too early to worry about Peter.”
“But Julian won't shut up about it!” Georgiana said. “He's making Peter want to see them and get excited about them and it could all blow up in his face cuz he's not their real grandson.”
Violet sighed and sat stroking her hair for several minutes. “Tell you what, Georgiana. Next time Julian mentions them, just don't respond. Ignore him, talk about something else, find something to distract his attention from them. Eventually, he'll stop talking about them. And if the time comes when there is a meeting or they come to see you, I'll... I'll make sure Peter is doing something else, something fun for him. Maybe we can take him to a movie or something else he really likes to do. Victor will think of something great to do with Peter so he doesn't feel badly, but, Georgie, until that day happens, you really shouldn't think about it, okay? No use worrying about something out of your control, you know?”
“Is that like what Reverend Trent always says? Leave it in God's hands, whatever you can't control and he'll take care of it,” she said, snuggling closer.
“Yes, exactly. It will work out one way or another, everything does, and only God knows what is best for us,” Violet said. “We may think what we want to happen is the best thing for us, but...”
“But we don't know what God knows,” Georgiana said.
Violet smiled and nodded.
Georgiana smiled too. She was feeling so comfortable and comforted just now sitting on Violet's lap with her arms securely around her. It made her feel just like she had a mother again.
“I wish...” Georgiana stopped abruptly.
“What, Honey, what do you wish?” Violet said.
Just then Marty came into the kitchen. “There you are, Georgiana! I was wondering where you went off to,” she said, looking around the still messy kitchen in surprise. “Victor said you two were cleaning up in here.”
“We were just talking,” Georgiana said, scrambling off Violet's lap. “We can clean up now.”
“No, you need to help the boys. They've tangled the tinsel and somehow half the lights don't work,” Marty said. “They are making quite a mess of this.”
“It's all right, Georgie,” Violet said. “Go on and set the boys on their tasks as only you can. I'll clean up here.”
Georgiana hesitated staring up at Violet, then flung her arms around her waist and hugged her tightly. “Thank you, Violet.”
Violet smiled. “You're welcome, Sweetie.”
When the little girl was gone and Violet started clearing the dirty dishes, Marty grinned. “Don't tell me. She wanted a little chat... something worrying her,” she said, knowingly.
“Yes. Did Victor tell you?” Violet asked while filling the dishwasher.
“He didn't have to. That darling little girl has been calling me nearly every day with some slight worry or imaginary trouble brewing,” Marty replied.
“Oh, Marty, this is not imaginary,” Violet said in all earnestness. “If it were me I'd be freaked out too!”
Marty frowned. “Is it about the meeting with their biological father? Julian is over the moon about it all, won't talk of anything else, especially about having another set of grandparents,” she said disdainfully. “Grandparents indeed! They didn't even bother to search for the darlings for over four years! I would have hunted their so-called mother down and taken them away from the psychopath!”
Violet hid her smile as she retrieved more dirty dishes. Marty certainly took her status as Gramma seriously...even to adopted children of her former son-in-law—clearly no relation to her. It was enough to make you want her for your own grandmother!
“Yes, and that is the problem...part of it anyway,” Violet said, turning toward Marty, who still looked as regal and beautiful as ever in her ball gown and bejeweled tiara. “The boys don't know it, but Georgiana picked up on it right away.”
“Of course she did. That child is brilliant. Nothing gets past her!” Marty said as proudly as if she were about to imply, She gets it from me!
“Yes, well, I wish this had gotten past her,” Violet said, lowering her voice and stepping closer to Marty to tell her what she had just learned from Georgiana.
“Heaven help us!” Marty shrieked. “And no one knew this before?”
“Apparently not,” Violet said. “The Trents who were supposed to have done a thorough check on their background looking for any relations completely messed up. I don't see any background check was done at all.”
“Certainly not properly. Or...hmm...it could be the grandparents had been found and they didn't want anything to do with them and didn't want their son involved or further shackled with three kids, especially when one of them wasn't even his. I hear from Victor the father was a very young man at the time. Barely older than Ronnie is now.”
“Younger actually when he met their mother,” Violet said, sighing. “You might be right. It could have been exactly that, his parents not wanting their son further encumbered...so he could go on with his life. Poor man...he obviously regrets it.”
“I'd rather say poor Georgie...except...well, no use crying over spilled milk,” Marty said with a shrug.
“Yes. She's very sensitive about these things,” Violet said. “I'm glad I was here for her tonight and last night too. She was so worried she barely ate. Oh, Marty, it's so wonderful she has you. You don't mind her coming to you, do you, even for trivial things?”
“Of course not,” Marty said smiling again. “And I'll eat my hat if you don't feel the same.”
Violet giggled. “I'd like to see you eating that tiara!”
Mary straightened it on her head and mumbled, “Should have had it made of Mazipan had I thought I would have to.”
They both laughed but Violet sobered quickly. “I am worried about this all, though, for Victor's sake, as well as Georgie and the boys. What if the worst happens and...”
Marty placed her arms around Violet, much like Violet had done for Georgiana moments before. “Now what good has worrying ever done, huh?” she said soothingly. “Que sera, sera and there is nothing to do but accept it and deal with it...if and when the worst happens.”
Violet hugged her back. “Pretty much what I told Georgie,” she said. “Guess I should take my own advice.”
“Hmm...You do realize Georgiana just wants a motherly shoulder to cry on,” Marty said. “Even if she has to make up little worries to get a bit of snuggle time with you.”
“I know the feeling,” Violet said. “I wish I had my mom back nearly every day of my life, so I totally understand Georgiana.”
“Well, then...think of me as your mom for now as Georgiana thinks of you as hers...or wishes you were hers,” Marty said, although there seemed to be a question implied.
Violet stared at Marty for a full minute before she whispered, “I wish I was.”
“There is a way to make that happen,” Marty suggested. “Let's talk about that.”
Violet nodded, set the dishwasher to start and they both left the kitchen to join the others.
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