“Come on, Mom,” Kenny said, after pounding on Violet's back a few times to make her stop choking. “I'm all grown up now. I can take it. The fact that my mother has a fiance is okay with me.”
“I don't have a fiance!”
“New boyfriend then,” he said with a careless shrug.
“I don't have a boyfriend either!” she shouted.
“For the luvagod, Mom,” he said shaking his head. “Stop this. You never tell me anything that's going on in your life, but that doesn't mean I don't know everything anyway. You are NOT the only person from back home who talks to me, so....”
“Everybody! If it's not Uncle Freddy or Aunt Laurie keeping me abreast of family drama-- I'm pretty sure I knew she was pregnant before you did-- it's Valerie, Nicky and Jimmy filling me in on the rest. Even little Molly has the occasional interesting bit of gossip to tell. By the way, that kid's a natural story teller. She's amazing and so funny! By the way, she's totally in love with your ...whatever he is and may try to steal Victor away from you...if she hasn't already,” Kenny said with a grin.
Violet's cheeks glowed pink as she remained steadfastly silent. Spies, all of them! Her entire family may as well be working for the KGB!
“You couldn't honestly think I would be kept in the dark forever, did ya? Not with Sophie who never has been known to keep a secret in her life. Plus, all my friends still in Catalpa Valley have been seeing you and Victor Romanoff all over town... inseparable they told me. I didn't ask them to but they tell me everything they think is interesting and loads of deadly boring stuff too, but I take the good with the bad. Made us feel less homesick. We were grateful the Catalpa Valley grapevine is still as far-reaching as ever,” Kenny said, finishing the cake and wiping his mouth with a napkin.
“So, Mom, sorry to tell ya, but I know all about Victor and I really wish you'd have told me yourself. That's why I never mentioned it before now. I was waiting for you to do it in your own time, but then you never did. What hurts the most is that you don't trust me enough to tell me about all that, and then Sophie calls me few days ago all bent outta shape about it, but I talked her down off the ledge. She can be such a drama queen sometimes. Unlike Sophie, Mom, I don't have the hots for your boyfriend's son so it's nothing to me if you marry him. Not too keen on having that pompous ass Simon as a step-brother, but you can't pick your family, and anyway, how often do I have to deal with him, right? Couple times a year I figure, Thanksgiving and Christmas, maybe Easter.”
“Stop it, Kenny!” Violet said, standing up so quickly she knocked the chair over so it crashed onto the tile floor, cracking one of its wood spindles.
“Good thing I brought some tools,” he said casually, grabbing the chair, evaluating the repair needed and setting it back on its legs. “I'll work on it later.”
Just as Violet opened her mouth to vent her spleen, Kenny's phone let out a small text signal and he instantly pulled it out of his pocket.
“It's Janice,” he said looking at the text with a grimace. “Her mom finally exploded. Took longer than I thought it would. Better go pick her up now.” Kenny set the broken chair just inside the door leading into the garage and pocketed the cell phone.
“Exploded? What does that mean?” Violet asked. In her mind's eye she saw an exploding marzipan pineapple and a shrapnel-imbedded dearly John Yearly lying dead amongst the ruins of a log cabin.
Kenny grinned. “Oh, I'll tell ya all about that when we get back,” he said going into the foyer, grabbing his coat, jamming the hat onto his head and wrapping the long scarf a few time around his neck as he looked around at the house. “I always loved this place. Janice too. We were hoping you'd be willing to let us have it once you no longer had a need for it.”
Violet's jaw dropped. “What! Do I look ready to be put in old age home???”
He burst out laughing. “Course not! But I assumed you'd move in with your new husband...now don't get all riled up again! We'll talk about it later. Be back in about twenty minutes.”
Violet had no time to retort. He was out the door, into his truck and down the road before she knew what to say anyway. Furious, she turned toward the stairs and stomped all the way up to the second floor and into what used to be Kenny's room, which was now her craft room and would have to be turned into a guest room for the nearly-newlywed couple.
“I don't know why everybody insists on pushing Victor on me!” she grumbled all the way up. “He's nothing to me now and more importantly I'm nothing to him!”
“Because everybody knows you are lying,” Richard answered.
“No, I'm not!” she shouted aloud.
“Yes, you are and worse, you're lying to yourself. It's ridiculous...Victor not being in love with you anymore? You have to know he is head over heels crazy about you and always will be...even if you did break his heart into a million pieces,” Richard said.
“I … I didn't do that,” she said, although not nearly as convinced of it as she wanted to be.
“Violet, that's exactly what you did,” Richard said, not unkindly. “He's a broken man and you did that. He might never have been too whole after what his shrew of a wife did to him, but you certainly didn't help the matter.”
Feeling awfully guilty now, she listlessly moved into Kenny's old room and looked in dismay at the mess. She only had twenty minutes to fix this?
“Only way to get it done is just to do it one step at a time,” she muttered.
“Good Mary Poppins type advice...good for how to deal with Victor, too,” Richard said.
She ignored this and quickly yet neatly gathered the wrapping paper, ribbon and tape strewn all over the four poster bed she used as her craft table. She placed all this and a half dozen mostly used skeins of yarn into storage tubs and slide them under the bed. Any stray fabric, thread and sewing implements were stuffed into storage canisters and stacked on a shelf. She would have to take her sewing machine out completely to make some room for their suitcases.
“You should let Kenny move that when he gets back,” Richard said. “It's too heavy for you.”
Stubbornly she lifted the sewing machine, acknowledged it was indeed too heavy for her and and set it on the floor. She then got new sheets from the linen closet and after stripping the coverlet she made up the bed.
“Don't be angry with Kenny for saying what everybody is thinking,” Richard continued. “They only want the best for you, and the best right now is Victor. You gotta make up with him, Babe.”
Violet shook her head. “I can't...even if I wanted to, I just can't,” she said. “He barely wants to talk to me now. It's just not gonna happen. The magic—if there ever was any-- is gone...for good.”
“Then you will both be miserable for the rest of your lives, because neither one of you will ever be happy with anyone else. That what you want?” Richard angrily said.
Violet's heart sank, but she shook her head stubbornly and grabbed a thick, warm quilt to toss onto the bed. She was in the middle of fluffing pillows when she heard a car drive up her road. She was folding up the table on which the sewing machine usually sat when Kenny was inside with his loving bride.
“Mom, you up there?” he shouted up the stairs.
“In your room,” she shouted back. “Can you move this thing into my room for me? It's kinda heavy.”
“Sure,” he said bounding up the stairs with their luggage. “Whatcha moving that for?”
“To give you some room,” she said, enviously watching her son carry with ease both the table and the machine. “Where's Janice?”
“I told her to go eat. Her mom got her all upset. Good food's the only cure for that,” he said, moving across the hall into Violet's room. “Where do you want it?”
“Put it where the crib used to be,” Violet said without thinking.
“What crib?” he said.
“Missy's crib, of cour....” Violet said. She stood frozen with her back to him hoping against hope he hadn't heard her.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “You had an unwed teen mother living with you for a few months until her soldier boy came back home and married her, didn't ya?”
“My goodness,” she said through clenched teeth. “Your spies were working overtime I see. Hope you paid the well.”
“Nope, just regular time and pay,” he said with a chuckle. “Why would you keep that a secret, Mom? That was really great what you did for that kid. I'm sure she appreciated it. From last I heard she was doing great with her college courses, the baby's happy as a clam with all her cousins as playmates and her boyfriend...I mean husband now, well, he's doing great with the medical team in the army. All set for medical school once he gets out. It's awesome, and all because you cared enough to help.”
Violet blushed again and shook her head. “I didn't do it for praise, Kenny,” she mumbled.
“No, you did it cuz you're the best mom ever, even to people you're not related to,” he said, setting the sewing machine onto the table. He turned toward his mom and enfolded her in a warm embrace. “I love that about you.”
“Me too,” Janice said.
Violet pulled away from her son to stare at Janice who was standing in the doorway munching on a cookie, her eyes puffy and her round pale face blotchy from crying. “Oh, Janice!” she said hugging her briefly and then pulling her into the room to sit on the bed together. “How are you, Honey?”
Janice shrugged and bit into the cookie again. “Been better,” she mumbled. “Hate fighting with my mom.”
“I don't understand...why did you and your mother have a fight?” Violet asked.
Janice stared up at Kenny. “Didn't you tell her yet?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Didn't have a chance.”
“Tell me what?” Violet asked, looking from one to the other.
“Well, there's a reason we'd like to buy the house from you,” he said hesitating slightly.
“Several reasons actually,” Janice added. “And the main reason my mother is so pissed off at us.”
“First...” Kenny said.
“We want to come back home,” Janice finished for him.
“But I thought you liked it in Sleepy Hollow,” Violet said to Janice.
She shook her head. “It was strictly good as a compromise for Kenny's work and my schooling. We never wanted to leave Catalpa Valley,” she said, brushing cookie crumbs off her lips.
“But we had to... for financial reasons,” Kenny said.
“Huh?” Violet said.
“Well, you know Mom refused to allow us to marry in the first place unless I swore I would go to college and Dad promised to pay for it entirely only if I got a degree, so...” Janice said. “Hackley College was close enough to commute to and from Sleepy Hollow...”
“And my shop was a good enough size then, but not so much now with the increase in clients I now have,” Kenny added. "And I really could use a helper or two."
“Oh, so you need a bigger shop now?” Violet said. “I guess there is plenty of room in the back yard to build a large workshop.”
“We'll need the room inside too,” Janice interjected, smiling at him. “And we love this house...for raising family.”
“So, Mom...what happened to Missy's old crib?” Kenny said.
Violet gasped, her eyes wide as she looked from one to the other again.
“Well...aren't ya gonna say anything?” Kenny said, laughing at her.
She shook her head. “Not until you actually say the words,” she whispered.
Janice giggled. “Oh, go on already!” she said, standing to take his hand.
“Mom, while it's nowhere near time for you to go into an old-age home, you will be a Grandma soon,” Kenny said.
“We're having a baby!” they said together.
Violet thought her heart might burst with happiness.
©2016 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved