She wasn't even smart enough to think of a way out of it. She knew Simon was too slick to allow her to do that, but she had to try. Oh, bother!
Simon came back to the breakfast counter and sat on the tall stool which he vacated before setting the kettle on to boil. He was now carrying two fragrantly steaming cups with the tags of herbal tea hanging out of them. He set one in front of Violet and pushed the tiny teddy bear shaped honey jar in front of her while he sat down and stared at her with an expectant expression on his face, a face which now looked considerably more happy than it had just a few minutes previous.
“So...Violet, tell me...how did you do it? Or rather, how did your brother help you gain your freedom?” Simon asked, taking a slow sip from the cup. “Hmm, not bad.”
“Yes, chamomile is one of my favorites and it's especially good with a bit of honey,” she said, slowly stirring some into hers. “I wonder who thought of putting honey into teddy bear shaped bottles?”
Simon hid a smile behind his cup, knowing a diversion when he saw it. “I imagine someone who loved Winnie-the-Pooh.”
“Wish it had been me then! I love that silly old bear and I'd be rich by now had I thought of it first,” she said. “You know, it always impresses me how some people can take an idea...any silly thing really, and make tons of money from it. Things which nobody knew we needed but we find absolutely indispensible after we get used to the thing.”
“Hmm, like the thneed?” Simon said.
“The...what?” she said, giving him a perplexed look.
He grinned. “Dr. Suess and The Lorax... the Thneed which that weird thing—forgot his name-- he said everyone would need a thneed and he was right and he got rich.”
Her eyes lit up. “Yes! Exactly. I was actually thinking of the Apple phone, but it's basically the same situation. I'm surprised you know that, Simon, about the thneed,” she said unreasonably glad to be talking of anything other than her scandalous past. “Did your mother read you that story when you were little?”
He scoffed and shook his head. “No, Dad did,” he said in some amazement--he had completely forgotten about it until that moment. His father had read to him after all, just like he said he had! “Think I was about four the first time, but I was around each of the numerous times when Dad tried in vain to read it to Ronnie. He was such a hyper, scatter brained little kid. He could hardly sit still for a minute at a time.”
Violet smiled. “Kenny was like that too. More interested in doing things than reading about others doing things,” she said, affectionately. “We're all a different creature, aren't we?”
“Well, I suppose it worked out for your son,” Simon said. “As for my brother... I have no idea what will become of him.”
“I don't think you have to worry about Ronnie. He's just looking for his... his special thing,” she said. “You were lucky. You found yours early. Most people don't.”
"So I've been told. Okay, when did you know yours was your husband and how did you get there?”
Violet nearly groaned. She had been under the delusion Simon would forget all about her. She sighed and shrugged saying, “It's rather a boring story, Simon. I doubt it will be of any help to you besides.”
“On the contrary,” he said. “You and Cassandra are practically twins according to you, in regard to life experiences. Surely what helped you can help her.”
Violet's eyes widened. “I don't recommend my way,” she said evasively.
“Okay, just...just tell me how did you escape your father?”
Violet stared into his startlingly blue eyes so bright and eager, and clearly recalled another pair of blue eyes, just a shade or two darker; eyes she had loved dearly and still missed desperately. “Escape...yes, that was almost what it took,” she mumbled to herself, falling back in time, back to that fateful night, but she couldn't start the story there. It needed a bit before getting to that point.
“Freddy convinced our father that I should go with him to the football game, it was homecoming. I was never allowed out at night, you see.”
“Freddy, that's your brother?” Simon asked.
“Yes, he...he knew our dad wouldn't be home until really late. It was Friday night, his usual night for ...uh... going out with his buddies. Dad was not going to let me go at first, but Freddy told him we would be back before nine so...it was a total lie of course, but I didn't know it at the time. He had it all planned out and didn't tell me anything,” Violet said, still sounding shocked after all these years.
Simon laughed. “I like this brother of yours.”
She smiled. “I think you would. He's such a smart Alec... just like Richard was... his best friend,” she said, a dull ache starting in her chest.
“Your future husband was your brother's best friend?” Simon said, obviously intrigued. “That's...interesting.”
“I'm not too sure it was his doing. Richard might just have been the last one left to be his friend. For some reason, our father seemed to start hating all of Freddy's friends. One by one they all got banned from the house...about when he was thirteen or fourteen years old. Never understood why.”
“They were troublemakers?” Simon suggested.
“No, it couldn't have been that. Freddy was worse than all of them put together. My father was all, oh, boys will be boys and he never cared when Freddy got into some harmless mischief. He never told Freddy he couldn't have them as friends...just that they couldn't come to the house anymore. In the end it was only Richard who was allowed. It was weird. Freddy told me-- and I still think it's ridiculous-- but he was sure they were banned from our house because they paid a bit too much attention to me and my dad well would not have that! He strictly forbade me from dating until... well, he never got to give me an exact time...we kinda skipped that.”
“That makes sense. Sounds exactly like Cassandra's father,” Simon said, frowning slightly. “But then...why was your...what's his name...your husband...”
“Yes, why was Freddy allowed to hang with Richard if he was obviously into you?”
“Why do you say obviously?” Violet said, her eyes wide. “I had no clue he even liked me until...”
“Seriously? You didn't know?” Simon said skeptically.
She shook her head slowly....she remembered it all, as if it happened just two days ago....
“I don't even like football, Freddy,” Violet had said, pulling a light sweater on over a pretty dress. “And are you sure I won't be over dressed? Doesn't everybody wear jeans to a game?”
“How many times do I gotta tell ya? There's a dance right after the game and it's homecoming,” he said, hurrying her out of the house, before their father came downstairs and saw her all dressed up which would make him suspicious.“Richie's already here. Come on!”
“But you told Dad we'd be back right after the game,” she said.
“What he doesn't know, won't hurt him, Violet,” Freddy said, practically dragging her down the porch steps.
“Omigosh, Freddy! We can't do that. We'll get in so much trouble,” she said, taking two steps in her heels for every one of Freddy's.
“Like he'll ever find out. He'll be passed out drunk on some whore's bed before the last touchdown,” he said derisively.
“Please don't say that,” she whispered just as Richard opened the car door for her. “Hello, Richard. I hope you don't mind, Freddy insisted I come with you guys.”
He grinned widely exchanging amused looks with Freddy before saying, “No, I don't mind, Violet. You look very pretty,” he said.
“I'm not over dressed, am I? I don't trust Freddy with knowing anything about fashion.”
“And you trust him to know???” Freddy shouted, shoving her into the front seat, while he jumped into the back.
“Well, he has no reason to lie to me and make me look like a fool,” she said, pouting slightly. “At least... I don't think so.”
“You'll stick out like a sore thumb, all right?” Freddy said, slamming the creaky door shut. “Now don't worry about it and let's go! We're gonna be late! The coach won't let us play at all if we're late!”
“Your bother can be such a grouch,” Richard said, grinning like a fool. “Don't listen to him, Violet. You'll stick out like a rose among thorns. That's what you usually do regardless what you wear.”
“Um... thank you,” she said, stunned at the unexpected compliment and a bit flustered by it.
Richard could barely keep his eyes on the road and several times Freddy shouted at him just in time to keep them from running into a ditch. Eventually they got safely to the school, where they parted ways; the boys to the locker rooms to change into their uniforms and Violet went up to the very top of the bleachers where her friends were already waiting for her.
“Wow, you look great!” Laurie said. "I was hoping Freddy would stop and say hello before going in."
“Well, you might never get a chance to talk to him again, cuz I'm gonna kill Freddy!” Violet whined looking at her friends in their jeans and Catalpa Valley blue and gold sweat shirts.”He told me everybody would be dressed up for the dance.”
Laurie laughed. “I thought you were just trying to show us up as usual, but it figures it was Freddy telling ya that!”
“No, she just wants all the guys to look at her and ONLY her,” Vicky said smirking.
“I do not!” Violet said. “You know I can't have a boyfriend yet, so why would I....”
“Oh, she's just kidding,” Kim said, glaring at Vicky. “You look beautiful, Violet. Your dad will just have to forget his no dating rule cuz I bet Richie won't be able to keep his hands off you tonight.”
“What? Do you mean Richard Bennett?” Violet said. “He doesn't like me. He barely knows I exist.”
“Are you kidding?” Vicky said. “He's like...”
“Really nice to you,” Kim interjected, giving Vicky a quailing look.
“Oh, he's nice to everybody,” Violet said. “Anyway, he's only nice to me because he's Freddy's friend.”
The girls exchanged knowing looks and changed the topic.
“Why do we have to be here so early?” Vicky said. “Game won't start for another hour.”
“Do you wanna good seat or not?” Laurie asked. “These games are always packed solid. Besides, it's homecoming! Can't you feel the excitement?”
“I still think it's such a rip you didn't get to be the homecoming queen, Violet,” Kim said. “What is your father's problem with homecoming?”
“I dunno,” Violet said. “Sue Anne Miller makes a very nice homecoming queen.”
“Gimme a break!” Kim said. “She's a dog... at least compared to you.”
“You mean she's a bitch, don't you? She's been trying to get her claws into Richie all year,” Vicky said, laughing. “Not gonna work.”
“Be nice!” Violet said. “You don't have to be mean to her, just cuz of me. It's not a big deal to me.”
“Well, it should be! Richie's the homecoming king. You belong together, king and queen of Catalpa high,” Laurie said, dreamily. “It's so not fair.”
“I always thought they should pick couples to be king and queen,” Violet said.
“Worse is if your dad won't let ya go to the prom,” Kim said.
“Not likely, Kimmy, you know that,” Violet said, resolutely.
The other two girls gasped. “He has to let you go!” Laurie said.
“We'll help ya sneak out or something, but you gotta come. It's prom!” Vicky said.
Violet smiled sadly and shook her head. “It's not that important to me,” she said, feeling her stomach drop down to her toes at the thought of all her friends having a blast at the prom while she sat at home alone watching reruns of the Simpsons or something equally insipid. It was enough to make her cry on the spot.
Kim, seeing this quite plainly, changed the subject again. “So, did ya hear? Kevin McAllister is going out with that total skank Valerie Shoemaker.”
Vicky scoffed. “He's no prize. He always smells like a lawn mower and she always has grass stains on her knees so... I say they deserve each other,” she said and the others giggled as high school girl will do.
The hand passing in front of her eyes forced Violet back to the present with a start.
“Think you went to Mars that time,” Simon said, smirking.
“Oh, sorry,” she said, sipping her tea.
“I get the feeling you don't want to tell me anything about your past. Why is that?” Simon asked.
Violet grimaced. “It's... it's so embarrassing,” she said. “I don't want you to think ill of me cuz of...”
“Violet, nothing you did in the past could possibly make me think less of you,” he said.
“So, that means you don't think very well of me now, huh?” she said. “Good to know.”
He laughed. “You can be funny when you want to be,” he said. “Tell you what, I have to practice that good old doctor-patient confidentiality thing, so...how about I start with you. Anything you say will go in the vault. I promise not to tell another soul. Okay?”
Violet sighed. “You're just not going to let this go, huh?”
He shook his head.
She took a deep breath. “All right. Let's hope you're better at keeping secrets than my own doctor.”