Authors: rachelle Vaughn
Her mom’s face fell. “Oh. That’s too bad.” Janie frowned at her daughter’s work clothes. “Did you work late today?”
Pats did some advertising and we’ve had a lot more business coming in.”
pursed her lips and slid a fresh batch of cookies into the oven. “You should start thinking about quitting your job altogether. I’m sure Phillip makes a good enough living to support the both of you.”
” Violet’s face contorted and she blew out a frustrated breath. “I’m not quitting my job.”
You’re going to be a doctor’s wife after all.”
Violet shook her head
Well, maybe you should think about it. That way you don’t have to worry about working during your pregnancy.”
“There’s no pregnancy! And there isn’t going to be one.” Violet didn’t even want children. At all. Sure, they were fun to be around for a couple hours, but that was plenty enough for her. Despite their track records, Violet hoped one of her brothers would finally tie the knot to help take the pressure off her. Jeremy traveled non-stop with his band and Tanner and Brayden were happy bachelors. Yeah. No help there.
Janie made a sound that resembled “we’ll see about that” and Violet scraped her hand over her face.
This was unbelievable. She’d been in the kitchen all of two minutes and she was already contemplating sticking her head in the oven.
Violet asked and went over to retrieve a beer out of the fridge for her brother.
“In the garage.”
The fridge was stocked full of Gatorade, milk and juice, but no beer. Violet knew there’d be some in the old fridge they kept in the garage and she wanted to say hi to her dad anyway. Escaping the ridiculous and infuriating conversation with her mother, Violet slipped out the door that led from the kitchen into the garage.
The garage was
Dale James’ fortress. Like the kitchen, everything in the garage was organized to perfection. Tools were neatly displayed on hooks and every last nail, bolt, and screw was separated in its own container. The smell of grease and rubber reminded Violet of her childhood and the days spent watching her dad teach her and her brothers all about cars. “Take care of your engine and your engine will take care of you,” he used to tell them.
was the rock in the family. He provided the much-needed balance to Janie’s overbearing ways and sometimes outdated thinking. He made a decent living restoring old cars so that Janie was able to stay home and raise her children the way she wanted to.
Violet bit back a sudden wave of emotion. The
realization that she could’ve lost her dad to cancer still shook her to the core. That kind of loss would have destroyed her mom, not to mention her three brothers. What would they have done without him?
Violet let out a ragged sigh. It was the one thing she would always be indebted to Phillip for.
She’d been given a second chance to not take her father for granted—not that she ever had—and she would never forget it.
Whether they were piddling around in the garage or working on a project for the house, Violet always felt more comfortable around her father. It beat baking in the kitchen with her mother
and listening to her endless lectures about a woman’s place in the home.
Even though she’d been around cars her whole life, Violet never felt the
desire to work on them for a living. Maybe she should have just out of spite. Oh, her mother would have just
The body of a
’68 Pontiac Firebird sat next to Janie’s aging minivan. Despite the fact that her children were grown, Janie insisted on keeping the oversized vehicle for when her future grandkids spent the night with Grandma and Grandpa. Not gonna happen, Violet thought, reflecting on her and her brothers’ non-relationships. At least not in the foreseeable future anyway.
Firebird was just a frame and an engine, but it was coming along nicely. Dale had spent his life lovingly rebuilding and selling classic cars. The same way her mother could pull a MacGyver and whip up a meal in the kitchen out of virtually nothing, Violet’s dad could take a skeleton of a car and transform it into a vintage masterpiece.
Although her brothers both drove classic
muscle cars, Violet preferred something more modern for herself. Besides running out of gas the one time, the Jetta had been reliable. But that didn’t stop her brothers from giving her a hard time for not wanting a classic. They said it looked bad for business and promised to give her a good deal on a ‘Stang or a ‘Cuda.
On the far end of the garage,
Dale was bent over the tool bench with a screwdriver in his hand. His hands were calloused and rough from working on engines his whole life. When they didn’t smell like grease or oil, they smelled like the gritty soap he washed them with.
” Violet said gently, careful not to startle him.
He looked up from the birdfeeder he was
tightening the screws on and smiled warmly at his only daughter. The hair her mom kept cut short had started to gray at the temples, but he was as handsome as ever. His green eyes were the same brilliant hue as her own.
Violet went to him with open arms.
He always gave nice strong hugs that made everything feel right in the world again. Today she needed one of those hugs in the worst way.
e pulled back and squeezed her shoulders Dale asked, “How are you, pumpkin?”
“He was called to the hospital.”
Emergency hernia surgery.”
le nodded in approval. “He’s a good man, Violet. You did good.”
Yeah,” she agreed halfheartedly.
r father studied her face and frowned. “You look tired, sweetheart.”
smiled weakly. “Thanks, Dad. You really know how to make a girl feel good.”
He gave her shoulder a pat.
“Is Patricia working you too hard?”
“It’s paying off, though
,” Violet answered with a shrug. “We have more clients than ever.” Hockey players, too, she thought to herself.
And I almost kissed one of them and I don’t feel as awful about it as I should
, she wanted to confess.
“Why aren’t you in
side watching the game?” she asked. Hockey was always a neutral topic with her family. Except when it involved Jace McQuaid, she thought wryly.
“Oh, your mother’s been hounding me to fix this birdfeeder from the backyard.”
He tightened a loose screw on the bottom and set the screwdriver down. “And I figured I ought to stop putting it off. She seems to think that all the birds in August County will starve to death without it,” he griped.
Violet heard the love in his voice and smiled to herself. He
r father might pretend to complain, but she knew her parents were still deeply in love with each other even after all these years. A long-term marriage was a rare thing to find these days and it made Violet question her relationship with Phillip all the more. Phillip couldn’t stand to be in the same room with her unless they were around other people
. How were things going to be between them
from now? Every time she tried to talk to him about their crumbling relationship, he brushed her off, changed the subject, or started talking about her father. And that just made her feel guilty for doubting him in the first place. Because if it weren’t for Phillip…well, Violet hated to think what would’ve happened to her father.
“Are you disappointed that I haven’t given you grandkids yet?”
He chuckled and his eyes crinkled at the corners. “Your mother’s been yappin’ at you again, hasn’t she?”
Violet shrugged like it didn’t bother her. Disappointing her parents ranked up there with
the Razors not making the payoffs every year. Disappointing, yet inevitable. Violet hadn’t become a rock star, she didn’t want kids and she hadn’t provided anything newsworthy for her mother to put in the annual family Christmas letter. One colossal disappointment after another.
“I’ve never been disappointed in you a day in your life, Violet
,” Dale told her and gave her shoulder another squeeze.
The words warmed her heart
and father and daughter stood there smiling at each other in the middle of the garage.
“You’ve got a long time before you need to start thinking about having kids
,” her father reassured her.
Violet made a frustrated noise
and her shoulders slumped. “According to Mom, I should have at least
Violet, don’t let what your mother says get to you.”
Easier said than done.
Violet grabbed two beers for her brothers and one for herself and followed her dad back inside the house.
When she saw them come in,
Janie whipped around and squealed and clapped her hands together. “You finally fixed the finch feeder!”
le winked at Violet and she smiled in return. She left her parents in the kitchen and carried the beer into the living room. The Razors were losing 2-0. Typical.
“This wouldn’t be happening if McQuaid wasn’t still on IR,”
So much for not thinking about Jace.
“Yeah,” Tanner agreed. “And our defenseman can’t play for shit.”
Violet was reminded of the look in Jace’s eyes when he spoke about hockey. It must be killing him to sit out and watch the game from afar.
Where was he right now? Was he at home watching on his big screen TV? Was he in the players’ lounge? Or was he watching from a fancy booth at the NorCal Center?
Her thoughts were interrupted when her mother called from the kitchen.
“Violet, come help me with the hors d’oeuvres!”
obediently obeyed and went back into the kitchen. Dale had gone outside to hang the finch feeder in its spot in the backyard. Violet looked at the spread on the counter and shook her head. As always, her mother had gone all out. She’d made a meat, cheese and veggie tray and baked hockey puck-shaped cookies which ironically were just round cookies.
clasped her hands over her heart. “It’s so nice to have everyone together. If only Jeremy could be here. I spoke to him yesterday, you know. He sends his love. He & the band are in Atlanta. I can’t wait for him to settle down with that sweet little Cassidy St. Claire.”
Violet made a face that a
n eight-year-old would get a kick out of. “Mom, that’s
going to happen. Jeremy and Cassidy aren’t even in love.”
“Well, they should be
,” Janie replied. “They’d make such a cute couple.”
Jeremy’s in a rock band, Mom. The last thing he wants to do is settle down.” And the last person he wanted to settle down with was Cassidy St. Claire. They were close friends and bandmates and nothing more.
“Anyway, he sure is busy
,” Janie added with a wave of her hand. “They’ve sold out their next ten shows. And they’re playing one of those music festivals this summer.”
“A sea of people as far as the eye can see,” she said dreamily. So successful,” she clucked.
“Speaking of successful,” Violet replied, “Pats and I have been referred some Razors players.”
“That’s nice, honey. Ooooh, that reminds me. I told Jeremy we’d all go to a game the next time he’s in town. I sure hope that’s before the season ends.” She frowned and then quickly replied with a smile, “I already set some cookies aside for Phillip. He’s probably starved after being at the hospital all day. When are the two of you going to set a date?”
Violet sighed. “I don’t know, Mom
,” she answered and shoved a cracker in her mouth.
frowned at the cookies she was carefully arranging on a plate. “It’s been so long since the proposal. I think it’d be lovely to have a spring wedding. Or maybe sometime in the summer so you could have the ceremony outdoors.”
“Mom, spring is only a
couple months away.”
Violet grimaced and dumped the rest of the crackers onto the serving platter. She didn’t understand why her mother spent time on presentation when her brothers were going to devour the food without a second glance like a pack of feral animals.
“I’ll talk to Phillip,” was all
“I don’t understand why you’re dragging your feet about this
, Violet honey.”
Violet wasn’t the one dragging her feet. It was Phillip who kept brushing off
the idea of setting a date. And that was just fine with her. If he wasn’t in a hurry, then neither was she.