Now&Forever: Best of Intentions
As raindrops began to fall and a dull haze covered the ranch, Nikki and Victor still sat on the living room couch, neither daring to be the first to speak, each caught up in the barrage of questions burning inside each of them. Having finally gotten up the courage to ask him the question that had been on her mind since the last time he’d mentioned his doubts about the type of father he was, Nikki gently asked, “Why would you question whether or not you were a good father? Why would you question your abilities as a father? Why would you even question that?”
Not daring to meet her knowing gaze, afraid of what he’d see there, Victor replied, “Things change, I’m re-examining my life, the choices I’ve made. More and more, I’ve been wondering how the hell I got here, how much do I really deserve what I have, if I do? Did I really make the right decisions where you and our children were concerned. I have all the money and power I could ever dream of, but did it come at to high a cost, was the cost really worth what I had to do to get all this?” Victor finished, motioning to the mansion around him.
Taken aback, Nikki softly, supportively replied, “I understand, to a degree, but, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t more to this than what you’re telling me.”
“I don’t know, I guess I’m at a point where I’m taking stalk of my life, and what I’ve done to get where I am. I have to tell you, I don’t like what I see.”
Unable to understand the sudden change in her husband, the regrets, and self-doubt that she was hearing about, for the first time since they’d met, Nikki gently probed further, “Victor, I don’t understand. What are you talking about? You’ve done a wonderful job with both the children, in spite of what you’ve had to deal with. I don’t understand this, give me some examples.” At her husband’s heartbreaking silence, Nikki gently, lovingly touched his cheek and whispered, her voice loving and full of both conviction and understanding, devoid of any recrimination, “We all do things we regret. We all make mistakes, Victor, it doesn’t make us bad, or unloveable, or unworthy of being understood by those around us. It makes us human. All anybody can do is make the right decisions in any given situation, and do the best they can. You included. All you really can do is do the best you can with what you’ve got.”
“You know what? Forget it, let’s just forget the whole thing.”
It broke Nikki’s heart to see him so defeated and unsure of himself and his future.
“I won’t do that! Victor, I know something’s going on! What is it?” Gently, she continued, trying, once again to get through to him, trying to break through the wall that he had for some unknown reason, built around himself. “I want to help you, that’s all I want.”
His voice filled with love and emotion, and his eyes glistening with bitter sweet tears, Victor softly replied, “You are.”
Confused, Nikki replied, “But I’m not doing anything.”
With a half smile, Victor simply replied, “Exactly, you’re not pushing, not pressuring me to talk about anything.”
Letting out a frustrated sigh, as she eyed him carefully, Nikki replied, “Well, maybe I should be, I might be doing you some good then.”
Turning to face her for the first time since the discussion began, Victor softly replied, trying his best to reassure her, as much as seeking reassurance himself, “My darling, you’re doing me much more good than you know.”
“By doing exactly what you=re doing.”
“Yes, well, I can’t help but think I should…”
With a wicked smile, Victor cut her off suggestively, his eyes holding a naughty spark, “Just be quiet for awhile.” Without giving her a chance to reply, he slanted his mouth over hers in a kiss that, for that brief moment made her forget about all the trouble and turmoil surrounding them.
At the sound of the front door opening, they broke the kiss.
“Hey, anybody home?” Victoria called from the entrance.
“She’s got rotten timing!” Victor mumbled frustrated, with his forehead resting against Nikki’s, and his eyes looking deep into hers, sounding very much like a petulant teenager about to be caught in a compromising position.
With a naughty smile, Nikki elbowed him as Victoria entered the livingroom.
“Hey, how was the horseback ride, angel?”
“Fine, Mom. I didn’t mean to interrupt, should I go?”
“No, I’m glad you came back in, there’s supposed to be a thunder storm later.”
“Victoria, what’s going on?” Victor asked, noticing she wouldn’t look at him.
“Uh well… I did something you’re not going to like,” Vicki began truthfully, nervously.
Doing his best to keep calm, Victor asked, “What?”
“I…” Swallowing hard, Victoria almost couldn’t tell him about calling his doctor. “I called your doctor.”
“You did what?!” Victor bellowed, infuriated!
“I…It was right before you came to my office to talk to me.”
“I thought I made myself clear?” Victor asked tightly.
“You did. That’s why I’m telling you, so you don’t hear about it from someone else,” Vicki tried to explain in a rush of words, expecting him to completely lose his cool at any moment.
“Don’t you ever pull a stunt like that again, you got it!” Victor barked.
“Yes sir,” Vicki replied, her voice small and afraid.
“Victor, she did it out of concern. Her intentions were good!” Nikki argued, quickly jumping to her daughter’s defence.
Still enraged over what Victoria had done, and just how close she came to finding out the truth, Victor bit out angrily, “You know what they say about good intentions.”
With tears in her eyes, Victoria apologized and walked up to her room, her shoulders slumped and her head hanging down.
Having watched her daughter leave broken-heartedly, Nikki shot him a scathing glare.
“What? What are you giving me that look for? Why am I the bad guy all of a sudden?” Victor asked defensively.
“She messed up, alright? She also came to you and told you about it before you heard about it from somebody else, she apologized. What more do you want, Victor? Why isn’t that enough? Why?” Nikki asked angrily, heart-brokenly.
Without waiting for an answer from him, Nikki walked upstairs in search of her daughter.
Having finally made it to Victoria’s bedroom, Nikki found her staring out her window, deep in thought. ‘The way Dad’s been acting lately, and what Dr. Cornwell said both tell me something’s going on with Dad, and it has nothing to do with work, or anything else. It has everything to do with his health! What could be wrong?’
Nikki quietly, carefully approached her and studied her for a few moments before gently laying a hand on her shoulder.
Startled, Vicki jumped a little, before taking a quiet, deep breath and turning to face her mother. “Mom, I didn’t hear you come in.”
“Yeah, I noticed.” Nikki studied her for a few more moments before continuing. “I know your father and his temper, along with his mouth didn’t help matters earlier. I also know that you did what you did because you’re worried about him and you only want what’s best for him. And, deep down, so does your father, he doesn’t always show it, but he knows it.”
When Victoria said nothing, Nikki softly called her name.
“What?” Victoria asked, a little disoriented.
Concerned by what she was hearing and seeing, Nikki carefully replied, “I know what happened between you and your father just now really upset you. But, I get the feeling there’s something else going on here, what is it?”
“What” No, what makes you think that?” Vicki tried her best to play dumb, if only for her mother’s sake.
“Victoria, I want to know what’s going on.” Nikki wouldn’t relent.
“Okay, but you have to promise me you won’t tell Dad.”
“Alright, I promise; now tell me what’s going on!” Nikki demanded impatiently.
“Like I said, I called Dad’s doctor.”
“Yeah, I already know that, Victoria.” Nikki’s patience was wearing thin!
“Yeah, but, what you don’t know is there’s much more going on here than Dad would like us to believe.”
“What? What are you talking about? What exactly did she say?” Nikki asked, her brows knitted together, a look of deep concentration written on her face, as she listened intently to what her daughter had to say.
“Not much,” Vicki replied apologetically. “She did say that things aren’t what they seem, to be careful and keep a close eye on Dad.”
“What? What does that mean?”Nikki asked confused, and becoming alarmed.
“Mom, Mom I don’t know. I don’t know what that means. But, hopefully since he’s seen a doctor, he’s getting treatment.”
“Yeah, and what if he isn’t? What if he’s just hoping it will go away? What if he’s not dealing with whatever this is at all?”
“I guess that’s a possibility…” Victoria’s voice trailed off, and the look on her face told Nikki there was more to the story, much more that she needed to know.
“Victoria, what aren’t you telling me? What are you keeping from me? I want to know, now!”Nikki’s tone brooked no argument.
At her daughter’s continued silence, Nikki repeated, “Now, Victoria!”
“Alright, I’ll tell you, but you’re not going to like it,” Victoria warned.
“Just tell me!” Nikki snapped, finally losing her patience.
“What if…” Vicki could scarcely get the words out, as she asked, “What if this is some sort of health crisis Dad’s having? What if that’s what’s going on?”
“What? No, that can’t be it,” Nikki whispered in shock at what she was hearing, doing her best not to believe any of it.
“Mom, it’s the only thing that fits.”
“Somehow, I’m not so sure, Victoria. It can’t be, why would he keep it from us if his health was in jeopardy?” Nikki asked, desperately wanting to believe she was right and her husband wasn’t keeping such a huge secret from her yet again!
Victoria doggedly persisted. “Mom, he’s been acting weird. He came home late the day of his physical, and, ever since then, he hasn’t said a word about how it went.”
At the look of disbelief on her mother’s face, Victoria continued. “The day that we discussed getting a bodyguard, you remember, I told you he was having trouble breathing, he was in pain, and he had trouble focusing on our conversation. He made all these excuses when I tried to find out what was going on. And, he damn near bit my head off when I tried to call you to tell you what was going on! Now, he snapped at me because I’m trying to find out what’s going on; even though I told him about it. Mom, don’t you see, it all fits! It’s the only thing that makes any sense!” Her voice softening with concern and understanding, she said, “Listen, if I’m wrong, I’ll pay for dinner at Yves’ and a room at The Lodge.”
Victoria finally saw a little smile from her mother.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Victoria went on. “Seriously, I know I’m not wrong, Mom. Something’s going on with Dad, and it has everything to do with his health!”
“I’m starting to think you’re right.” Nikki’s voice was barely audible as she tried to make sense of the situation and tried to come to grips with it, in spite of the fear creeping into her soul.
“Victoria, promise me, promise me you’ll keep a close eye on your father. And, call me if you see anything strange.”
“Yeah, of course I will.”
“Thanks.” Nikki turned on her heels and started walking out of the room.
“Mom, where are you going?” Vicki asked, although she already knew the answer.
“I’m going to get the answers I need from your father. One way or another, Victoria, I will get the answers I’m looking for!”
With her mother downstairs talking to her father, Victoria had turned back to her window to watch the rain pound the ground relentlessly, violently, as the wind ripped petals off delicate flowers and strew them on the ground. She prayed that she was wrong about her father’s health, she prayed that she was overreacting and reading too much into the situation. But, deep down, she knew she was dead right.
As tears poured down her cheeks, Victoria stared out the window, ~flashing back~ to a conversation that she’d overheard between her parents the night before the judge had ruled in Abby’s custody battle.
They had been sitting on the livingroom couch looking at old family photo albums.
She herself was heading back downstairs after having checked on Abby.
She heard her parents’ voices coming from the living room and hadn’t wanted to interrupt.
“You know, it’s amazing how things have changed,” Nikki said,as she looked at all the old photos of her husband with their young daughter.
“What? What are you talking about?” Victor asked, not really paying any attention to what she was saying.
“Remember when I first told you about being pregnant with Victoria? You didn’t know what to do, all you knew was that you didn’t want her. You didn’t want a baby. You weren’t ready for a baby, or so you thought,”Nikki ended with a smile, thinking of the day he’d finally come to his senses and they’d finally become a family, the family they’d always wanted.
As regret shrouded his features and misery clouded his eyes, Victor sombrely replied, “You’re right, I didn’t want Victoria, I didn’t want anything to do with her, not at first.”
After that, she hadn’t stuck around to hear the rest of the conversation, broken-hearted, with her world shattered, Victoria ran to her room and threw herself onto her bed, sobbing and trying to make sense of what she’d heard. But, no matter what she did, she couldn’t make any sense of it. She’d ended up crying herself to sleep, unspeakable pain wrenching her heart, drowning out everything else, including the unconditional love she’d once had for both her parents.
Shaking back to reality, Victoria could do nothing but stand there at her bedroom window and listen, as her father’s words reverberated through her mind, echoing away, then coming back louder and louder, so loud, she covered her ears to block them out.
Slowly shuffling towards her bed, her eyes blinded by bitter, depressed tears, and her legs feeling like lead weights, Victoria slumped down onto it and whispered, into the cold, silent night, “I can’t believe this! I can’t believe this is the same man I’ve always looked up to, always admired. I can’t believe this is the same one I’ve tried so hard to emulate! It doesn’t make any sense, not considering the way he’s been acting! Or, maybe it does, I don’t know.”
With tears streaming down her cheeks, as she held her pillow tight, Vicki continued. AI still can’t believe what I heard that night, or that Mom and Dad kept it from me for so long! Why? What did I do to make Dad feel that way? I must’ve done something. But what? What could I have done differently? For God’s sake, why didn’t Mom and Dad tell me about this? I had every right to know! Were they ashamed? Did they feel guilty, is that it? Or, did they think it just wasn’t that important anymore? Did they think that, after all this time, it just wasn’t important that my father didn’t want me?!”
Picking up a glass paperweight, Victoria hurled it across the room as hard as she could, watching it shatter into a hundred tiny pieces. “Didn’t they think I’d find out one day? What, are they that ashamed of me? Have I disappointed them that much?” she asked herself bitterly, irrationally. Unable to stop the barrage of questions tumbling through her mind, Victoria continued emotionally, as more tears started to fall. “Why did Mom keep this from me? Did she feel the same way as Dad did? And, how does she feel now? Or, is it better I not know?”
“Maybe I’m better off not knowing the truth about this whole thing. God only knows what it is, maybe Dad’s not the only one who didn’t want me… Maybe they felt forced into keeping me? Maybe…” She just barely resisted the urge to throw something else across the room for one reason. “I can’t take any more chances that Mom and Dad will come running.”
“It would certainly make sense, considering how both of them feel about abortion. But then again, I know if Dad really wanted things to go back to the way they were, with just him and Mom, he really wouldn’t have let anything stop him!” Victoria couldn’t stop asking herself the questions that had plagued her since that fateful night months ago, no matter how much she wanted to.
Victoria felt her stomach lurch as she again recalled the discussion. She stubbornly made the decision she’d made the night she’d found out Nikki was pregnant. “I can’t go to Mom and Dad with this, I can’t confront them about it. They both have enough to deal with! I’ll deal with this on my own, I will not involve them in my problems! I won’t hurt them by dredging up the past, no matter how much it hurts me! I won’t do that! I will do whatever it takes to handle this on my own. If Mom and Dad can put it behind them, then so can I!” Victoria exclaimed determinedly, fire burning in her eyes.
Rethinking her position and the way she was looking at the situation, Victoria began to chastise herself. “Why am I acting this way? Why is this still bothering me? It shouldn’t get to me this way? I’ve got more important things to worry about, and so do Mom and Dad. There’s the new baby on the way and Dad’s health crisis, not to mention Gary and Jeff are still on the loose. Why the hell am I so focused on myself? What’s going on with me, why am I acting this way, for God’s sake? Especially under the circumstances, Dad’s got a serious health crisis to worry about! I’ve got to focus on my parents, not my petty little problems!”
With a light of determination shining in her eyes, Vicki vowed, “I will protect my parents, regardless of what it costs me! I will not let this wreck everything they’ve worked so hard for! She vowed, determined to make the oath a reality, “What’s in store for me doesn’t matter, I don’t care about what happens to me while I’m dealing with this! Whatever happens to me, it’s my problem! The only thing that matters is that Mom and Dad are happy!”
Meanwhile, Nikki sat in the livingroom playing a macabre, angry song on the piano, one that matched her mood, as she recalled her discussion with Victoria and the huge secret her husband was keeping from her. Finally, all that Victoria had said, and the emotions that had been stirred by it came to a head, and Nikki’s hands balled into tight fists as she pounded on the piano keys over and over again.
Hearing her pound on the piano keys, Victor walked into the livingroom and called her name to get her attention. “What’s going on?”
“I just had a good talk with Victoria,” Nikki replied, her gaze never leaving Victor’s as she waited for a reaction from him.
“That’s good, what did she say?” Victor asked naively.
“Cut the act, Victor, I know you’ve been keeping something from me! You might as well just come out with it, and save us both the trouble. Just tell me what I want to know!”
“Nikki, don’t listen to that! There’s nothing wrong! You’re worrying for nothing!” Victor exclaimed forcefully. “I’m going to bed, are you coming?” Victor asked tightly, defensively.
“I’ll be up later.”Wordlessly, Victor turned on his heels and headed up to bed.
Hours later, Nikki still paced the livingroom, trying to figure out what was really going on. “Victoria didn’t sound herself,” Nikki thought to herself out loud and thought back to all that had been going on during the last few months. “Something tells me whatever’s going on with Victoria, it has nothing to do with Jeff, or Gary, or work. It has nothing to do with me, or Victor, at least not in any obvious way,” Nikki said to herself, determined to figure out exactly what was going on with both her husband and her daughter, regardless of what she had to do to accomplish that.
Frustrated, she headed upstairs to bed. She tossed and turned all night, unable to rest, caught up in finding the answers that seemed impossible to find.
Meanwhile, in her bedroom, Victoria cried herself to sleep, plagued by the questions gnawing at her soul, unwilling to let her rest.