Violet and Joe had spent the day alone, frolicking on the beach, wandering through the woods looking for soft spots to lay, doing things that came naturally to two young, handsome, virile specimens. He didn't know about Vi, but he was dizzy with her nearness. Every time she leaned in to brush sand from his shoulder or kiss his ear, he felt as if his mind was floating 6 inches above his body.
But the day had to end, and then came the night.
Joe was walking Violet to the McGilligans where she was supposed to help her mother with the bar that night. Violet's steps slowed as they got closer to the pub.
"My father doesn't like you, Joe." Violet said.
His heart, which had been like a balloon in the sky all day long with her sunk like a lead weight. "He doesn't?"
She shook her head and looked away.
He knew there was something about him that made a person not like him. First his father left him, then his mother drank herself into oblivion so she didn't have to be his mother. Then Father Donohoe and Sister Margaret, and all the other adults of the village looked askance at him. And now Jack McGilligan? After all those dinners he'd had pulled up to Mr McGilligan's table along with his passel of kids, an extra son he'd been almost. And now he was now despised. He should have expected it. There was something wrong with Joe. Something inherently defective.
The only thing Joe really had was Violet.
"I don't think you should take me into the Pub, Joe. Maybe we should just say goodnight now."
They had stopped walking across the street from the pub. He turned to look at her. Her pale blond hair framed the heartbreakingly perfect face, the dark blue eyes, large and almond shaped, with the thickest lashes he had ever seen, and the rosy mouth, pink and full and so luscious it reminded him of things he shouldn't be thinking about in this conversation. He was mesmerized by her beauty. He felt trapped in a spell.
"I love you, Violet." It was the first time he had said it, although it had been burning in his heart all summer.
She looked afraid. For just a moment. Then she smiled. "Joe, I..." he saw a sadness in her eyes. Tears formed. He knew she loved him too, why did he have the feeling that she wasn't going to say it back? "I--" she stuttered, glancing toward the pub. "I love you to." The words came out in a rush, as if she didn't want anyone to hear them, to have evidence. But then, that moment, the moment that Joe would think back on for the next 7 years, it seemed to disappear as Violet threw her arms passionately around Joe and they kissed as if it was death not to.
"Violet Bridget McGilligan!" Jack's booming voice echoes across the empty street and Vi and Joe stepped apart. "I told you I did not want you doing this! I told you to leave that boy alone!"
Joe took in a deep breath and stepped forward. "I love your daughter, Mr McGilligan. I want to marry her."
"Joe!" Violet gasped as Jack's angry face got redder, almost purple.
"Violet!" Jack roared. "I. Said. To. Leave. This. Boy. Alone."
The yelling must have drawn attention from inside, because the front door opened and out poured the entire village, including his mother and, most improbably, Sister Margaret.