“This is it, I think,” Sophie said, opening the door to the dark study and running her hand on the wall for the light switch. “Ooh…nice.”
“For some reason, I thought it would smell like cigar smoke in here when they called it a study,” Rance said looking around at the large comfortable office lined with floor to ceiling shelves stuffed with books, mostly having to do with law.
“Mr. Romanoff doesn’t smoke… that I know of,” Sophie said going to the leather sofa in the center of the room facing the fireplace, sitting down, kicking off her heels and curling her long legs under her. “Maybe it’s a memory of your grandfather’s study. You told me once that he smoked cigars.”
“Could be. That a new dress? Looks really good on you,” he said, nervously standing by the fireplace.
“I found it in my mom’s closet with the tags still on so I guess it’s new,” she said with a giggle. “Now come here and sit down!”
He smiled, sat down beside her and stared at her.
Sophie shook her head. “I still can’t get over your new look.”
“You don’t hate it?” he asked, tugging on his tie.
“No! It’s just different. You look…sophisticated and…I dunno… grown up I guess,” she said, and she waited for him to say something. “Bug, are ya just gonna look at me all night? You said you had something important to tell me so…talk to me!”
“May as well start there,” he said. “I don’t want you calling me Bug anymore.”
“Uh…okay. Why not?” she said, puzzled.
He smiled. “Because Fanny doesn’t like it,” he said.
“But…she’s not here…is she, so how would she know?”
“No, but…” he sighed. “When she heard that Bug’s my nickname and that all my friends call me Bug she went ballistic. She said, Bugs are nasty and annoying insects that people just wanna mash into the ground and stomp and kill. Rance is NOT a bug!”
“Wow,” Sophie said. “And whatever Fanny says goes?”
“Pretty much!” he said laughing, but he quickly sobered. “But she was right. She’s really amazing. Here’s this mentally retarded girl…”
“Uh-uh-uh! Mentally challenged…we must use the proper, non-offensive term unless you want Fanny and her mother to go ballistic again,” Sophie said.
“They’re not that stuck on political correctness in Kinsley, Kansas,” he said. “Fanny is so funny. She can’t tell you how much a dollar can buy you. I mean she’ll say ten bucks to buy an apple and it takes two bucks for a Hawaiian vacation and five dollars to go on a plane ride to the moon and yeah, she actually thinks you can take a plane ride to the moon.”
“Wow,” Sophie said again, tying not to laugh.
“I know, right? But then she comes up with this …Kelly calls them pearls of wisdom, but Dad being Mr. Practical he calls it plain old common sense, but it’s things that we just…I dunno…we don’t see what’s right in front of our face…but she does!”
“Like what?” Sophie asked, curiously.
“She was totally right about my name, about Bug. I picked it mostly to annoy my father, but also because that’s exactly how he made me feel when my mother was dying and especially after she was gone. I felt like an insignificant bug that he wanted to swat away and crush. It took my retarded…okay, mentally challenged, sister to make me see the truth.”
“Wow…ten psycho analysts just died cuz you came up with that all by yourself…with Fanny’s help of course,” Sophie said.
He laughed and nodded. “Yup.”
“So…no more Bug cuz you’re getting along with your dad now?” she said.
“More than that. I’ve outgrown it…outgrown a lot of things. I know now I’m not insignificant anymore,” he said just as a knock came at the door.
“Yes?” Sophie said.
Ronnie came in with a tall glass of ginger ale. “I forgot to ask you if you wanted anything, Sophie,” he said placing the glass on the coffee table in front of them.
“No, I’m fine. Thanks, Ronnie,” she said smiling up at him. When he just stood there she added, “Um…we’ll only be a little longer if it’s okay.”
“Yeah, sure…take your time,” he muttered and he headed for the door. “You want this closed?”
“Yes, please. Party’s a little loud,” she said.
He nodded, gave a furtive glance toward Rance then left, seemingly reluctant to leave them alone.
“He doesn’t trust me…thinks I’m gonna attack you,” Rance said with a smirk. “Don’t see why you say he doesn’t care about you. Obvious to me he does.”
“Didn’t say he didn’t care. This is just him being the protective brother,” she said, unable to keep the disappointment out of her voice. “He likes me only as a sister. Lucky me.”
Rance said nothing as he took the glass and sipped from it. He offered it to Sophie and she gladly took a sip too.
“Why did you and your dad come back so soon? Weren’t you going to stay until after the New Year?”
“That’s what I thought but…things change quickly in my dad’s world,” he said. “When you run a multi-billion dollar company…you know.”
“Oh…nothing bad happened I hope,” she said.
He shook his head and again stared at her.
“Was Fanny disappointed that you had to leave early?” Sophie asked.
“Kelly seemed more upset, actually,” he said. “I think…I think my dad is seriously thinking of asking her to marry him.”
“Wow. Um… how do you feel about it?” Sophie asked, taking another sip before handing the glass back to Rance.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “He misses my mom, but he knows she’s gone. He doesn’t like being alone.”
“He’s got you now,” she said.
He gave her an incredulous look. “A son is not exactly the same as a wife, Babe.”
She giggled. “True!”
He turned in his seat to face her more squarely, placing his arm along the back of the couch. It was just the right distance to reach her hair and play with it, running it through his fingers. “I’ve missed you,” he whispered.
“Me too,” she said. “Miss the guys too.”
“That’s done…isn’t it?” she said, her eyes suddenly gone a bit misty.
Again he nodded. “Strange isn’t it? We were together practically every minute of the day for months, we had big plans to record an album and go touring all over the country. We were gonna live together in New York and now…”
“Everybody’s scattered to the ends of the Earth,” she finished sadly.
“Except for you and me,” he said.
“Yeah, Bug, but we need them. We can’t do it by ourselves,” she said. “What are we gonna do?”
He took a deep breath and grimaced. “I don’t know how to tell you this,” he said.
“Tell me what?” she said, reaching forward to touch his hand. “You always could tell me anything, Bug…I mean Rance.”
He looked down at her delicate hand and entwined his fingers with hers. “You know I love music. I always will,” he said. “But I realize now, it’s just a dream.”
“But we were living the dream in Florida, Bug!” she said.
“Yeah, we were. That’s why I’m not too fussed about it, Sophie,” he said. “We did have a great time. We lived the life of rock stars for a while and it was awesome, but…”
“We still could if…”
“I talked to my dad…a lot, and I’ve decided to take him up on his offer,” Rance said.
“What offer?” Sophie asked, a feeling of dread creeping up on her.
“I’m going to work with him. I want to learn as much as I can about his company and see if I’m good at it. If I am, eventually one day, I can take over for him, when he chooses to retire…if he chooses,” he said, anxiously watching her reaction. “What do you think?”
She took the glass out of his hand and drank a bit, licking the carbonated drops off her lips. “You’re just gonna give up on your music?”
He caressed her cheek. “I’ll never give it up, Babe, but it’ll have to be just a hobby for now,” he said. “Please don’t hate me for this.”
“Bug, I… Sorry… Rance, you know I could never hate you, no matter what. It’s just…kinda sad, ya know?” she said, squeezing his hand. “And scary.”
“It doesn’t have to be if…”
“This changes everything. I mean, there’s no reason for me to go to Columbia for a music degree if I’m not going to use it,” Sophie said, making a grumpy face. “No reason for me to live in the City, so I might as well stay in Catalpa Valley and go to a local college or something. I don’t even know what to go for though. I have no idea what I wanna do with my life. Never thought about it much….except for music.”
“I’ve got one good reason for you to live in the City,” he said, leaning closer.
Sophie sighed and asked, “What’s that?”
She smiled slightly at the earnest look on his face. “Okay, give me two.”
Rance smiled too. “Funny you should say that. I have a proposition for you.”
Sophie was not certain she liked the sound of that.
©2017 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved