A Night To Remember
On warm spring evening, with the sky blanketed with stars, Victor sat in his office, trying unsuccessfully to catch up on his work. “Damn it! I should be able to concentrate on this, and all the other things that need to be done around here, why the hell can’t I?” he asked in frustration as he slammed down the file he’d been reading. “Come on, focus! This needs to be done by the end of the week!” he told himself harshly. But, it was no good, his mind kept wandering.
Caught up in the tapestry of beautiful memories and wonderful times that he’d shared with Nikki over the years, Victor wondered aloud, a little wistfully, a little frightfully, “What’s going to happen now? Do we even have a future?” Abandoning the files littering his desk, he paced to his office window, overlooking the city. The view was breathtaking, there below shone millions of tiny lights shining in the dark.“How bright can our future be under the circumstances? What do I do? What’s best for my family? More importantly, what’s best for Nikki?” he asked pensively as he looked out the window. Shutting his eyes for a moment and trying to block out the fears that had haunted both his waking and sleeping hours, so that he could just focus on what was best for his wife and family, he let out a deep breath slowly. “I don’t want to hurt her, that’s the last thing I want to do. But, I don’t think I can just walk away, not this time. I know that’s probably what he should do, but, I just can’t do it.” Returning to his desk, Victor picked up the photo of Nikki that sat on it. As he ran his fingers over it, he couldn’t help the bittersweet smile that crept across his lips. Regret crossed his features as he whispered to himself, “I know I’m being selfish, but I can’t help it. I love her too much to walk away! God, what do I do? What do I do?”
Shaking his head, as if to shake the worries dogging him, intent on not letting the situation get the best of him, Victor sat back down at his desk and forced himself to focus on his work. It didn’t last long, it was barely a half hour later when he found his mind wandering again, wandering where it always did when he was in need of advice, or comfort, or, as in this case, in need of strength to get through whatever obstacle stood in his way-straight back to Nikki.
Picking up the phone, he dialed his home number.
“Hello,” Nikki said, wondering who was calling.
“Hey, it’s me.”
“Hey, to what do I owe this pleasant surprise?” Nikki asked, smiling brightly.
“I need a reason to call my beautiful wife, all of a sudden?” Victor asked, smiling for the first time all day. ‘It’s so good to hear her voice,’ he thought to himself.
Smiling, Nikki replied, “Well no, of course not.”
“Good, what do you say we go out for dinner, just the two of us?”
“Yeah, unless you don’t want to.”
“No, I’m just a little surprised, that’s all.”
“Well, I know you’re pretty busy.”
“Not too busy to take you out.”
“The Colonnade Room, how does that sound?”
“Like exactly what we need,” Nikki replied with a bright smile.
“Good, I’ll pick you up in a couple of hours. I can’t wait, I love you.”
“I love you too.”
With that done, Victor sat behind his desk, trying one last time to get something done before heading home. As he read through the various reports cluttering his desk, one caught his eye.
“The deal Neil has been working on is going well, although there are some minor problems to work out before we can finalize it, he’s done a good job.” Zeroing in on the date for the next meeting between Neil, or someone else from Newman Enterprises, in the event he couldn’t make it and Satin’s new representative, Victor thought to himself, ‘The date for the meeting is the same day my tests are scheduled. I can use this to my advantage.’
Picking up the phone, he dialed Neil’s number.
“What can I do for you, Victor?”
“I just finished reading your report, you did good work.”
“Thank you, there are still a few problems to work out, but I’ll be flying out to Chicago to meet with Satin’s rep and straighten everything out. Don’t worry Victor, everything will go exactly the way we want it.”
“I’m not worried. The meeting is the reason why I called you.”
“You want to handle it yourself?” Neil asked jumping to the wrong conclusion.
“No, just the opposite, I want you to handle things. I know you’re the right man for the job. Keep me posted. And, one more thing, Nicholas and Victoria are not to know about this, alright.” “Okay, sure thing. But, may I ask why? They know about what’s going on with Satin and how close we are to finalizing this deal.” Neil sounded confused.
“I have my reasons.”
After hanging up, Victor knew he made the right decision. “I’ll send Neil, but tell Nicholas and Victoria, along with Nikki that I’m handling things. Nobody will be the wiser.” Pleased with himself and his idea to not only solve his business problem, but get his tests done without anybody discovering what he was up to, Victor went back to his work.
Back at the ranch, as she got ready for her date with Victor, Nikki thought to herself distractedly, ‘What’s going on with Victor? What’s wrong, something is, he’s not himself, he hasn’t been ever since his physical. He’s been acting strange ever since then.” Shaking her head, trying her best to dispel the doubts that were starting to creep into her mind, Nikki made a decision. “I’m not going to think about this, not tonight. I won’t let it ruin the evening. But, I won’t let it go either.” Carefully considering her options, she thought to herself, ‘Victor won’t tell me anything, it’s no use even asking him. I’ll keep a very close eye on him, that’s how I’ll figure out what’s going on. I just wish I didn’t have to do it this way.’
Back at Newman Enterprises, Victor still sat behind his desk, trying to get as much work done as he could. Looking at his watch, he realized it was later than he thought. Pleased with how much work he’d done under the circumstances and his idea about how to get his tests done without arousing anybody’s suspicions, Victor decided to call it a night. Very anxious to get back home to Nikki, he headed home for the day.
Nikki sat on the livingroom couch, waiting for him when he finally got home.
“Hey, you’re finally home.”
“Yeah, I kind of lost track of time, sorry about that.”
“I was surprised that you called about going out for dinner. I’ve been getting a lot of attention the past little while.”
Although Nikki hadn’t meant anything by the comment, one glance at the look on Victor’s face told her she needed to explain fast!
“I mean, you’ve got a lot of work to catch up on, since you were outta the office for quite awhile during the custody battle.”
Calming down a little, Victor reasoned, “I need to make sure there’s some balance between work and family now, especially under the circumstances.”
Picking up on Victor’s tone of voice and what he’s just said, Nikki asked, “What do you mean? What circumstances?”
Realizing he had to think fast to make sure she didn’t guess what was going on, Victor replied, “I’m at a point in my life where I’m reassessing my priorities. I realize family has to come first.”
“It has,” Nikki replied softly, yet emphatically.
“Not always.” Victor’s gaze was wistful, and regretful.
“Are we talking about Victoria and Nicholas, especially when you were building Newman Enterprises?” Nikki asked, still a little confused.
“I have to admit, I haven’t always been the father they needed, the father they deserved, not to mention the kind of husband I was. It’s a wonder Victoria and Nicholas don’t hate me after all the things I’ve done over the years, and that you’re still here,” Victor sadly, regretuflly replied.
Unable to believe what she’s hearing, let alone understand where it was coming from, Nikki took a few moments to carefully consider her words. “I really think you’re being too hard on yourself. You’ve been a great father, especially under the circumstances. Victor, you did the best you could after growing up in an orphanage. And, as for me not staying here, walking out on you has never been an option, it still isn’t and it won’t ever be!” Softly, concerned by what she was hearing and seeing, Nikki continued. “I don’t understand where all of this is coming from.”
“I don’t know, I guess I’m at a time in my life where I’m reassessing what I’ve done, how I’ve gotten where I am and…”
“No, that’s not it! There’s something else going on here; and it has nothing to do with reassessing anything!” Nikki stubbornly cut him off, unwilling to let the subject rest.
With a heavy sigh, Victor replied. “Sometimes I feel like I’ve become my father, I really have to wonder if I haven’t become him, in spite of everything I’ve done not to let that happen.”
Shocked, Nikki’s jaw dropped. “Victor, that’s ridiculous! You are not your father! You’re nothing like him! You’ve been there for both Nicholas and Victoria, you’ve taught them so much, they are who they are today because of you!”
Victor just looked at her sceptically.
“When Victoria was trying to make Brash&Sassy a household name and she kept running in to problems, you were the one who kept encouraging her. When Matt Clark framed him for attempted murder, and then for murder when he made it look like Nicholas was selling drugs, you were the one who got him out of jail and brought him home. When Nicholas was on the verge of leaving the company and moving to another state, you were the one who put your differences aside and let Jack train him to hold a bigger position in the company, one with more responsibility. You, Victor, nobody else! When Victoria was being harassed by Tricia Dennison, you were the one who made everything better, you were the one who gave her the security she needed to feel safe.”
“Yeah, well…” Victor’s voice trailed off, it was clear from the expression on his face, the downcast eyes, and the pain she saw shining from them that he wasn’t convinced.
“ Victor, I don’t understand. Where is this coming from? Talk to the children and you’ll see, you’re nothing like your father!” Nikki tried her very best to get through to him. “I don’t think I’m doing much good,” she told herself sadly.
Gently cupping his cheek in her hand, Nikki whispered passionately, her voice full of conviction, “As for our relationship, we’ve had our ups and downs, but there’s nobody I’d rather be with!”
Meanwhile, Victoria was at Gina’s picking up dinner for her and Abby.
“Here you go, Victoria, enjoy!” Gina said, handing her two bags.
“Thanks Gina, we will,” Victoria replied with a smile as she headed out of the restaurant.
She was half way home when her cell phone rang. “Hello,” Victoria answered, after she’d pulled over on the side of the road, thinking it was someone from work ,or her parents calling to see when she’d be home.
“You looked very pretty at Gina’s earlier, in your charcoal blazer, matching skirt and red camisole with red pumps and your hair like that; in soft curls.” The low, creepy, sinister male voice at the other end of the line sent chills down Victoria’s spine and made the fine hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Her knuckles turned stark white from her gripping the steering wheel so tightly, they were also starting to cramp up, but she didn’t notice any of that.
As her mind raced to figure out what to do, she knew her only hope was to stay calm!