Susan Wolf Johnson

Gasparilla King Blog

Faded Velvet

When Becca was in New York City trying to get money for an abortion, Victor showed up at the Westcott Mansion. He had heard Becca was flying home that afternoon, and he offered to pick her up from the airport. He also wanted to tell Natalie, Becca's grandmother, that he was willing to help the family in any way, now that Daniel was missing...
Faded Velvet

When Becca was in New York City trying to get money for an abortion, Victor showed up at the Westcott Mansion. He had heard Becca was flying home that afternoon, and he offered to pick her up from the airport. He also wanted to tell Natalie, Becca's grandmother, that he was willing to help the family in any way, now that Daniel was missing. Natalie was entranced with Victor, a black-haired young man with Spanish ancestry, who came offering uninvited help.

Natalie peered at the young man's dark eyes that were both bright and colorless at once. She watched those same eyes follow the carved mantelpiece of the fireplace upward to the crown molding that adorned the ceiling. "It's stunning," he said. "In structure and design, it's the most exquisite home on the Bayshore."

"You think so?" Natalie asked. She sipped her coffee. She had always admired the clean, classical lines of her father-in-law's architecture, especially in his residential work. Natalie reached across the table to pour more coffee.

"Allow me," Victor said. He leaned over to grip the coffeepot. "I've studied Mr. Westcott's designs, and I plan to use much of what I've learned in my own buildings." Victor filled her cup. The scent of fresh coffee was warm in the room, and Natalie felt her head go light. How lovely to be sitting here with this charming young man who was not only concerned with Becca's welfare but believed, just as she did, that her father-in-law was an architectural genius.

Natalie hung on Victor's every word. She even gave him permission to pick up Becca that afternoon. Their entire conversation had been mesmerizing until she noticed Victor's hand smooth the faded velvet on the loveseat. It was not the movement that disturbed her but imagining what that hand felt—the worn fibers of fabric gone dull with age. And not only what it felt but knew and what his eyes knew as they scanned the room and saw the ragged brocade curtains, a cracked window overlooking the lawn, and the faded walls that hid the elevator that was stuck halfway between the floors. Natalie refolded her hands in her lap. No, she would not think about the house now or that Victor had walked into their lives, not only interested in Becca but bearing full coffers.

What do you think Natalie was afraid of when she thought Victor knew that the Westcott Mansion was deteriorating? What do you think she was hoping?

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