Collecting Scents (Part 3)

            “Billy! I didn’t know you liked to read!” Viola had looked all over the library for Bill and finally found him hidden in a corner sitting with a book in his lap. He had his back to her and at the sound of her voice twirled around slamming the book shut.

            “Good God, woman! Don’t creep up on me like that!”

            “Sorry.”

            “I don’t like to read, but I had to do something while I was waiting for you. And don’t call me ‘Billy’! That’s sissy stuff.”

            “I don’t think so. One must read to learn. And ‘Billy’ is a sweet name. It’s so much nicer sounding than ‘Bill.’”

            “Reading is a woman’s hobby. Now, come here,” he motioned to his lap.

            The shelves of books hid them as she wrapped one arm around his neck and sat across his lap. He pulled her face to his with a firm hand. His mustache felt like tiny pine needles brushing against her cheek. She placed her head on his chest and stared at his profile. Faint creases were beginning to show around his mouth. She lifted her hand and traced them with her fingers. His gaze, which had been focused forward, shifted to her. He grabbed her hand and held it to his lips.

            “It’s a beautiful day. Let’s go for a walk,” he said.

            Bill held her hand as they walked the narrow path beside the green football field where the team was practicing. He interrupted their gentle stroll by swinging her in front of him and bending her backward planting a kiss on her lips. Startled, she would have lost her balance if not for Bill’s strong arms. The team on the field saw the display and whooped and hollered. If she could have, Viola would have slapped him for kissing her in front of so many people and for ruining the sweet, leisurely moments they had just shared. When he finally held her upright and allowed her to move she shoved him and began to walk away, but he caught her hand.

            “What did you do that for? That was so embarrassing!” Viola’s face was flushed.

            “Sorry, Baby Doll. I didn’t know you’d react this way. It’s just that I ran into that quarterback the other day, and he said not even I could get a kiss from you. He didn’t believe me when I told him you were my girl.”

            “I don’t care. Don’t ever use me to prove yourself again.”

            “I guess this wouldn’t be a good time for me to ask you to marry me, right?” Bill reached into his pants’ pocket.

            “What?” Viola’s eyes, blurred with tears of embarrassment, dried. “But it’s only been a week.  I still have a year of school.”

            “Do you love me?” he asked.

            “How should I know?” Viola looked down to hide her shaky grin.

            “C’mon. I’ll take you back to my house in California. You’ve never smelled the oranges or seen the palm trees,” his mouth formed the half smile Viola had already grown used. “I’d have the prettiest wife in the world if we were married!”

            “I’ll have to think about this,” Viola said. She began to walk away. Bill stared at her back. Then she turned around. “Okay, I’ve thought about it. I’ll marry you,” Viola giggled and ran to Bill who spun her in the air with one arm.

            “Then this belongs to you,” he said pulling out a ring from his pocket. It was simple—a very large princess cut diamond on a shining gold band. He slid it onto her thin finger. The band was too big.

            “We can have it adjusted,” Bill said kissing her cheek. The sparkling square looked out of place on Viola’s frail, milky hand, but she took no notice.

**************************************************************************** 

            “Diana! Guess what?” Viola said, bursting into the room. Diana, who had been painting her nails with her new Ox Blood nail polish, looked up.

            “What is it?”

            “I guess I got a ‘ring by spring’ after all.” She waved her hand casually in the air. The ring glittered in the sunlight that streamed in from the open window.

            “Bill?”

            “Yes! It’s like a dream. I don’t even know him that well. I don’t even know how he knows you! How do you know him?”

            “I guess you could say we were childhood sweethearts. We both grew up in the Los Angeles. Our fathers were members of the California Club, but they hated each other.”

            “Do you like California?”

            “Yes, it’s beautiful there,” Diana choked before going into the bathroom and shutting the door.

            Viola plopped on her bed and admired her hand.

 ***************************************************************************

            Jim raised Viola’s veil and kissed her on the cheek before Viola passed her bouquet to Diana, who was crying. Her tears made Viola well up. Diana was her dearest friend.

            Viola turned and placed her hands in Bill’s. The pastor began the ceremony. His voice droned in the back of Viola’s mind as she thought of the exciting life that lay ahead of her with Bill in California. The sun would always shine.

            “Do you William Leonard Harvey take Viola Rose Standish to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

            “I do,” Bill responded, barely a beat between question and answer.

            “And do you…”

            Viola looked up at Bill’s gray eyes. They were cold skipping stones. Viola laughed inwardly. He was so afraid to show emotion, but she knew he loved her.

            “I do,” Viola said.

            “You may now kiss the bride.”

            Viola leaned forward to kiss her husband. His lips brushed against hers briefly but long enough for her to smell Lily of the Valley on his neck.

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