Now&Forever: Golden Moments
On an overcast day, as the wind blew through the trees and leaves blew all around, Victor sat at his desk hard at work.
“Hello,” he said impatiently as he stopped to answer the phone, frustrated by the interruption.
“Yes.” Victor wasn’t paying much attention to what whomever it was was saying.
“It’s Janice Winslow.”
“What can I do for you, Janice?” Victor asked wondering why a board member would be calling him.
“I got a call from Victoria yesterday.”
“Oh? What did she want?” Victor asked tightly, wondering what his daughter was up to.
“She wanted to know if I noticed you acting out of sorts during our meeting a few days ago,” Janice replied, unaware of just what she=d started.
Incensed, Victor thought to himself, ‘I can’t believe this! This can’t be right!’ “You’re sure?”
“Absolutely! Is there something I should know about?” Janice asked, concerned.
“No, there’s nothing to worry about. If that changes you’ll hear from me.” With every second he spent talking to her, Victor’s blood pressure increased a few points.
“Okay, I’m glad to hear it. You’re the best in business, that’s no secret. But, I’ve known you long enough to know you’re a good man. And, in today’s world, there aren’t too many left.”
Smiling brightly, Victor replied, “Thank you. I’ll see you at the next board meeting.”
“Absolutely, take care.”
“You too, Janice, thank you for calling.”
After hanging up, Victor phoned Victoria’s secretary to see if she was in her office.
“Yes, Mr. Newman, would you like me to put you through?”
“No, thank you. I’m on my way there.”
“I’ll tell her to expect you.”
“Actually, I want to surprise her. Do me a favour and don’t tell her I’m coming, alright. And, when I get there, hold her calls, okay.”
“Yes sir, is there anything else I can do?”
“No, thank you.” Victor ended the conversation politely, then peeled out of his office, determined to settle things once and for all. ‘She had no business snooping around. I need to stop her before she figures everything out and goes to Nikki with it!’ Victor said to himself angrily, determined to do exactly that.
In her office, Victoria continued her investigation, determined to find the answers she doggedly sought.
“Dr. Cornwell, I’m worried about my father, I know something’s going on. I need answers, and you’re the only one who can give them to me.”
“Victoria, unless you’ve spoken to your father, I really don’t see what I can do for you, I’m sorry.” There was a clear note of apology in her voice, but, beyond that, Victoria thought she heard something else. ‘I understand why she sounds apologetic, what I don’t understand is why there’s a note of regret in her voice,’ Victoria said to herself, puzzled.
“All I’m asking is that you hear me out, alright?” Victoria asked hopefully, hoping with everything in her that Dr. Cornwell would at least hear what she had to say.
“Thank you,” Victoria said, before telling the doctor about her most recent conversation with her father.
‘Victor’s playing a dangerous game, one that could very well kill him! But, if I tell Victoria what she wants to know, Victor will only get more upset. If I don’t, he may end up getting himself so worked up he’ll end up in the hospital, at the very least!’ Dr. Cornwell thought to herself, very concerned, trying to figure out what she should do. Finally, she replied, “Victoria, I strongly advise you to talk to your father. Let him give you the answers you want, the ones you need.”
“Alright, I’ll do that. Thank you for your help, Dr. Cornwell,” Victoria replied, feeling like for the first time since she’d noticed Victor acting strange, she would finally get the answers she needed.
“I really don’t see how I’ve helped. But, you’re certainly welcome. One more thing, things aren’t what they seem. Be careful, and keep a close eye on your father. Call me if you need anything,” the doctor replied, feeling very sorry for Vicki, and her whole family. ‘She really doesn’t know what she’s dealing with, and God only knows what she’ll do when she finds out. I just hope she’s got the support she needs to deal with it,’ Dr. Cornwell thought to herself, a little depressed.
“I will, thanks again,” Victoria replied, before hanging up.
“Hi Gary, I’m glad I caught you before you left.”
“What’s up, Victoria, I was just on my way to Gina’s to meet you.”
“Um, I’m afraid I’ve got to take a rain check on dinner,” Victoria replied distractedly.
“What? What’s going on now, Vicki? This is the second time this week!” Gary demanded, unimpressed.
“There are a few problems that have cropped up here that I have to fix. I’m sorry, it can’t be helped,” Vicki replied, still trying her best to figure out what was going on with her father, and what Dr. Cornwell had meant by what she’d said.
“Okay, you go ahead and fix whatever problems you need to. We’ll have dinner another night,” Gary replied, a little more calmly.
Distracted by all she was dealing with where her father was concerned, Vicki replied, “Yeah, thanks, I’ll call you later.”
No sooner had she hung up than Victor walked in.
“Hey Dad, I wasn’t expecting you. What’s up?” she greeted him happily. But, one look in his eyes and Vicki knew something was wrong! ‘He looks like he’s ready to bite my head off. What could be going on?’ “What’s wrong? What happened?” Victoria asked concerned.
“You damn well know what’s wrong! You know exactly why I’m here!” His voice was dangerously low.
Wide eyed, Victoria whispered, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What’s going on, you’re starting to scare me.”
“Where the hell do you get off calling board members and Neil trying to figure out if I’m acting strange? In case you haven’t forgotten I run this company! This is mine, you got that! You don=t go around playing detective, stirring up trouble, you got that! I will not tolerate it! Do I make myself clear?”
Feeling sick to her stomach, tears welling up in her eyes, Victoria nodded.
“That’s something I expect from the janitor, not my own daughter!” Victor bellowed, unable to believe she’d go to such lengths to get the answers she was after, and trying his best to stop her before she found them.
As tears started to fall, Vicki finally fought back. “What do you expect? You damn near passed out! You were having trouble breathing and focusing on our conversation! And, don’t try to blame it on taking the stairs, because we both know that’s just a cover for what’s really going on!” She shot back, hurt and angry that her father was intent on keeping this from her, despite the fact that it could very well kill him.
“You’re being ridiculous, you’re overreacting!” Victor exclaimed sternly.
“Do you blame me? You scared me half to death! I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance, for God’s sake!” Victoria shot back, getting angrier and angrier, her voice beginning to quiver. “So, excuse me if I’m acting just a little more like your daughter and less like a lowly employee!” she continued angrily, in tears.
Sighing, Victor walked further into the office. As her words sunk in, Victor slumped into the chair in front of her desk, his hands covering his face, kicking himself for losing his temper with her the way he had. ‘Why am I doing this? Why the hell am I doing this? Victoria doesn’t deserve any of it, none of this is her fault!’
After a few moments of studying him, Victoria softly calls his name.
Slowly, he looked up at her, tears glistening in his eyes.
Her voice a mere whisper, Victoria said, “I’m sorry.”
Regret shining in his eyes and catching in his voice, Victor whispered, “So am I, for so many things.”
“What?” Vicki asked, confused, and getting suspicious.
“Um…okay. So, you understand why I did this, right?” Vicki asked confused by what she was seeing and hearing.
Feeling the need to explain further, she continued. “I mean, I didn’t know what else to do. You won’t tell me anything.”
“There’s nothing to tell,” Victor lied, although he regretted it more than he could say.
‘I know Dad’s lying, it’s written all over his face! But, I’m not going to push the issue. I’m not in the mood for another round,’ Vicki thought to herself tiredly.
Teary-eyed, with a sad, regretful sigh, Victor slowly rose from his chair, stopping a couple feet away, he held out his arms and lovingly whispered, “Come here, my sweetheart.”
Teary-eyed, Vicki slowly walked into his open arms.
As Victor held her close and tight, he tried his best to lock everything into him; every bit of that moment, the closeness between them, the rare feeling of contentment, trust and understanding the moment had brought.
Finally pulling back to gently, tenderly dry her tears, Victor asked, “No more fussing over me then?”
With a hint of a smile, Victoria replied, “Just like you and Mom don’t fuss over me?”
Returning his daughter’s smile, Victor replied, pointing at her for emphasis, “That’s different.”
With a cheeky smile, Victoria asked, “Oh really?”
Smiling good naturedly, Victor replied, “Yes really, your Mother and I are your parents. It’s our job to fuss over you.”
With the same cheeky smile, and a small chuckle, Victoria replied, “And you do it so well.”
Chuckling, Victor replied, “I try.”
Vicki laughed and shook her head.
“Let me take you to lunch.”
“Dad, I’d love to, but we’ve both got a lot of work to do, especially you.”
“Wrong, my darling. I’m the CEO and that means I can take my daughter out for lunch if I damn well please!” Victor replied with a conspiratorial grin.
“When you put it that way, let’s go!” Vicki exclaimed with a bright smile.
“Good. Just let me call Connie and your secretary and let them know what’s going on,” Victor replied as he picked up the phone to make the needed arrangements.
“Cheryl, I’m taking Victoria out to lunch. If anybody except Nicholas or Nikki calls take a message, otherwise tell Nicholas and Nikki that we’re going out for lunch, alright.”
“Sure thing, Mr. Newman. Enjoy.”
“Thank you.” Victor hung up and called Connie next.
With that done, he turned his attention back to Victoria and suggested with a conspiratorial smile and a mischievous gleam in his eyes, “Forget lunch, lets just play hooky. ”
With a bemused smile and a little laugh, Victoria asked, “Who are you and what have you done with my father?”
“I’m serious, come on, let’s go.”
With a bemused smile, Victoria asked, “Okay, we play hooky and do what?”
Smiling brightly, Victor replied, “First lunch, and then whatever we damn well feel like. How’s that sound?”
Grabbing her purse and linking her arm through her father, Vicki replied, “Like one hell of a plan!”
At Gina’s Victor and Victoria sat at a table, enjoying the break from the hectic pace of the office.
“This was a great idea, exactly what we both needed!” Victoria said with a smile.
“Yeah, I’m sorry we didn’t do this, or anything like it when you were younger, my darling. “I’m sorry we didn’t do things like this when I had the chance to, when I had the time to, when I could’ve, should’ve been doing things like this with you,” Victor’s voice was filled with regret. “I know I wasn’t always the father you and Nicholas wanted, more importantly, I wasn’t the father you deserved. I’d change that if I could. There’s nothing I regret more where you’re concerned.”
Her heart breaking for her father, Victoria lovingly whispered, “We’re doing things like this now, that’s what matters. Don’t kid yourself, you were and still are a damn good father. Don’t ever doubt that!”
“I remember how you’d never go to bed when your mother would tuck you in, you’d always be wide awake when I got home. She had to read you how many stories before you finally got to sleep?” Victor asked as they started reminiscing.
“I don’t know, I didn’t keep track,” Vicki answered cheekily.
“Yeah right, I’m sure you didnt.” Victor couldn’t help but smile.
Neither of them was even slightly aware that Gary was at a nearby table, watching. Yeah Vicki, must’ve been some big problem at the office!’ he thought to himself angrily, his hands gripping his wine glass so tightly it might have shattered had he not put it down.
Victoria and her father were still reminiscing after their meal when Victor=s cell phone rang. “Alright Neil, thank you for calling. I’ll be right there.”
“What’s going on?” Victoria asked, curious.
“One of our suppliers wants to play hard-ball.”
“They don’t have any idea who they’re playing with, do they?” Vicki asked with a smile.
“Not a clue,” Victor gave her a sly smile.
“I’ll wait here for you.”
“Alright, I’ll be back as soon as I can.” With a quick kiss on the cheek, Victor left.
Gary made sure Victor had left, and then quickly and silently made his way over to Victoria’s table. “Whatever problems came up, they must not have been that bad! You made it here after all, just not with me!” he bit out accusingly.
“Gary, if you listen to me, I can explain.” Victoria was kicking herself, although she had no idea that he’d be there, she wished she hadn’t come. ‘What do I do, if I don’t come up with something quick, he’ll figure it all out and…’ Victoria dared not go any further, the mental images of what Gary would indeed do if he found out about what she was up to were too gruesome for words.
“Save it! Just save your breath, I’m not interested!” Fire burned in his eyes, as Gary stood there, his eyes boring into her.
“It’s not like that, listen. The problem I told you about, my dad fixed it, I didn’t know about it when I called you. That’s why we’re here, he took me out to celebrate. There was a major deal that almost fell through, but my dad fixed the problems we were having and managed to close the deal before it fell through.”
“Why didn’t you just say something?” Gary asked, suspicious.
“Maybe I should’ve, I’m sorry, I had no idea things would work out this way.” Victoria prayed her plan was working. ‘If it doesn’t there’s no telling what he’ll do!’ she thought to herself worriedly.
“Alright, just don’t let it happen again.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t.”
Satisfied, but still a little angry, Gary left the restaurant.
Vicki breathed a sigh of relief as she watched him leave. ‘That was close, good thing I was able to calm him down. I’ve got a great opportunity here, I can’t let it slip through my fingers. One wrong move and he’ll figure everything out for sure,’ Vicki thought to herself, sure she’d narrowly escaped danger.
In walked Victor, oblivious as to what had happened during his absence. “Are you ready to go?”
Startled, Vicki stuttered, “Uh yeah, sure let’s go.”
“Are you alright?” Victor asked, suspicious.
“I don’t know, I get the feeling something’s going on.”
“I just have a lot on my mind, that’s all.”
“Don’t worry, Jeff will not get anywhere near you!” Victor reassured her as they left the restaurant.
Once home, Victor and Victoria took time to reminisce some more, as they had done at the restaurant. “Hey, why don’t we go horseback riding?” Victor suggested eagerly.
“Maybe later, Dad, I don’t really feel like it right now.” Vicki tried to pretend nothing was wrong.
“I remember how much you used to love riding when you were younger. You did it every chance you got.”
“Yeah, until I started working.”
“Yeah…” Victor’s voice trailed off as he thought to himself, ‘Perhaps I haven’t left my children a good legacy after all.’ Shaking back to reality, Victor said, “You know, you have to make sure you make time for the things you enjoy, the things you love. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, don’t let your life be ruled by your work. Don’t be consumed by it!”
“I won’t,” Victoria replied confused. After a moment’s consideration, she asked, “Dad, is something going on?” ‘He isn’t himself, he hasn’t been ever since the day he and I had that argument about me getting a bodyguard. “Is it something I did? Something I said?” she asked a little worriedly.
“No my darling, it’s not you,” Victor reassured her.
“Really? Because, I know I’m pretty hard to live with sometimes, but…”
Victor cut her off, telling her firmly, “My darling, it’s not you. I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“Oh, well, I’m a good listener, if you need someone to talk to.”
Smiling softly, Victor replied, “Thank you, I’ll definitely keep that in mind.” Smiling sadly, he wrapped his arms around her, hugging her tight.
Hearing the front door open, they both turned to see who I was.
“Hey, what are you two doing here?” Nikki asked, surprised to see them there.
“We live here,” Vicki replied cheekily.
“Or, at least we did the last time we checked,” Victor replied, following his daughter’s lead.
“Ha ha,” Nikki replied, setting down her shopping bags and entering the living room.
“Actually, we’re playing hooky,” Victor answered with a smile.
“Who are you and what have you done with my husband?” Nikki asked teasingly.
Letting out a long, good laugh, Victor replied, “That’s just what Victoria said.”
“That’s because we know you,” Nikki reminded him with a smile.
“All too well,” Victor agreed, returning her smile.
Nikki just sat beside him on the couch and smiled, shrugging.
“You know, I could always go back to work if I’m not wanted?” Victor asked teasingly.
“Are you crazy? No, you’re here and you’re staying here. You got it?” Nikki replied as she kissed him passionately.
“Stupid question?” Victor asked, turning to Victoria, who sat beside him, smiling brightly.
“Very.” She couldn’t help the bright smile on her face if she’d tried.
“Okay, I get the hint, I’m going to go for a horseback ride, so you two can finally have some time alone,” Vicki teased, before heading up to her room to change.
“Be careful,” Nikki warned.
“You need to watch your back, at least until Jeff’s caught,” Victor echoed.
“I will.” With that, Victoria left her parents to themselves.
“So, what did you two do today, on your unexpected day off?” Nikki asked curious what brought this about.
“Oh, not much, we went to Gina’s for lunch and just talked, reminisced a little.”
“That sounds nice.”
“You know, it was. I can’t remember when we had such a good time,” Victor confided smiling softly.
“Good, I’m glad. You two need a chance to reconnect.”
“Yeah, you’re right about that. You know, I haven’t always been there for my family like I should’ve been; like I should be,” Victor confessed sadly, regretfully.
“Victor, the past is the past. You’re not that man any more.”
With a sigh, as he ran his fingers through his hair, Victor whispered, his voice full of emotion, as he felt tears burn his eyes, “I know, but I can’t help the way I feel.”
Unable to find the words she needed to soothe him, Nikki softly kissed him before linking her hands with his and laying her head on his shoulder.