As a cool breeze blew through the trees outside Gina’s, inside, Victoria sat across from Gary at a small table filled with food. It had been a long, hard day at the office. ‘I just wish things weren’t still so tense between Dad and I,’ Victoria thought to herself sadly. She thought to herself tiredly, ‘I’d love to be anywhere but here. What I’d really love is to just go home and sit in front of the tv and watch a movie. Any movie, I don’t even care which one.’
Noticing how distracted she was, Gary said, a little impatiently, “Hello? Earth to Vicki? Why are you so distracted tonight?”
“Oh, sorry, I’ve got a lot going on,” Vicki stuttered, a little embarrassed.
“Business?” Gary asked, curious.
Seizing the opportunity to try and get him to let the subject go, Vicki quickly agreed, as she played with her napkin. “Among other things, yes.”
“Anything I can do?” Gary asked, sounding for all the world like he was just trying to be helpful.
“No, thanks though.” Vicki tried for what she hoped seemed like a genuine smile, all the while thinking to herself bitterly, determinedly, “I’ll be damned if I’ll let him in on what’s going on with Dad! I will not give him any ammo to use against my family!”
Without much thought to anything, except how tired she was and how worried about her father she was, Victoria said, “I’m sorry, Gary, I’m just not up for this tonight. I’m sorry.” She offered no further explanation, as she quickly left the restaurant.
As Gary watched her go, he whispered to himself sinisterly, “Strike two, Victoria, one more, and you’re out!”
The next day, Victoria and Nicholas were both surprised to get a phone call from Victor, asking them to meet him in his office right away.
“What’s up, Dad?” Victoria asked, wondering what was so urgent.
“Yeah, something going on we need to know about?” Nicholas asked, echoing his sister’s sentiments.
“No, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong. I just wanted to let you both know that I’m going to be going out of town for a little while.” Victor tried his best not to let on that anything was going on, in spite of how much part of him wanted to do exactly that.
“Dad, why the trip, all of a sudden, I don’t get it.” Both Victoria and Nicholas couldn’t understand what they were hearing.
“I’m going to Detroit to meet with Satin’s rep to work out some problems we’ve been having before finalizing our latest deal with them,” Victor explained calmly.
“Wait a minute, I thought Neil was handling that?” Nicholas asked, suspicious of what his father was hiding.
“Yeah, as far as I know, he is, I just talked to him about a week ago. Dad, what’s going on?” Victoria asked, digging for answers. Then, as she thought of Nikki and what was going on with her, she added, “Is it a good idea to be leaving Mom alone in her condition?”
“My darling, don’t worry, I won’t be long.@ Victor remained non committal and evasive, as well as particularly vague. ‘The last thing I need is to be telling them I’ll be home in a couple of days and then not show up for a few weeks, they’d never let it go!’ Victor thought to himself wisely.
Nick and Victoria exchanged disbelieving glances, knowing full well something wasn’t right, but also knowing enough not to push the subject.
Satisfied his children wouldn’t ask any more questions, Victor left to go tell Nikki.
“What? A business trip, you’re going on a business trip now?” Nikki asked skeptically, especially when she considered his recent odd behaviour. ‘Maybe I’m wrong. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, he deserves that much,’ Nikki thought to herself feeling reasonably confident she’d made the right decision.
“Yeah, I know it’s sudden, but there are some problems with a deal with Satin Cosmetics that I have to solve. I won’t be long.” With that, Victor headed upstairs to pack his bags.
It wasn’t long before he was back downstairs and headed out the door, after kissing Nikki goodbye and reassuring here he wouldn’t be long.
“Victor?” Nikki stopped him wondering why he wasn’t carrying more bags.
“Yeah?” Victor stood at the doorway to the entrance and looked at her questioningly.
“You’ve got one bag, and no suit. Are you sure you’re not forgetting anything?” Nikki asked, getting more and more suspicious.
“I took my suit with me when I left this morning, it’s already in the car,” Victor lied easily. ‘I wish I didn’t have to do this, I wish there was another way, but there isn’t.’
“Oh?” Nikki asked sceptically. ‘He’s hiding something, but what?’
“Yeah, I need to go. I’ll call you later.” With that, he was out the door, leaving Nikki alone in an empty house, with nothing but her thoughts.
Meanwhile, back at Newman, Victoria and Nicholas sat in her office trying to figure out what was going on.
“There’s something going on here, Nick. The question is what?”
“Yeah, you’re right, something’s up. But, it’s nothing serious, not necessarily anyway.”
“What? Nicholas, have you forgotten what happened the day I talked to Dad about getting a bodyguard? And, how about the way he acted when I told him I called his doctor?”
“You did that? Vicki-“
“Just shut up and listen, alright?” Victoria snapped impatiently, as she began recounting both the incident involving her getting a bodyguard and how Victor had reacted when he found out she’d called Dr. Cornwell.
“You’re right, Dad’s definitely hiding something.” Nick was finally starting to see the situation through his sister’s eyes.
“Mom needs to know about this.”
Nicholas nodded in agreement, as they quickly left the building and headed to the ranch.
“We’re glad you’re home,” Victoria said as they entered the house.
“Why? What’s going on?” Nikki asked worriedly.
“Did Dad say anything about a business trip?” Nick asked, sounding intense.
“Yeah, why?” Nikki asked, still unsure what they were getting at.
“What did he tell you?”
“Victoria, what is this about? Your father told me he has to go to Detroit to fix some problems with a deal with Satin Cosmetics. He said he wouldn’t be long.”
“Did he tell you anything else?” Victoria asked, gently probing further, hoping to get a clue about what was going on.
“No, what is going on? What aren’t you telling me?” Nikki asked frustrated.
Nick and Vicki looked at each other, uncertain whether they should tell her anything.
“Okay, we don’t know much more than you do. All we do know is that Neil was supposed to be handling this, now, all of a sudden Dad is.”
“Mom, it doesn’t add up, especially since Dad hasn’t been acting right and that he just sprang it on us at the last minute.” Nicholas joined his sister in trying to get Nikki to realize that there was something being kept from all of them, and it was something seriously wrong!
“Your father’s been busy.” Nikki did her best to defend her husband, in spite of the nagging doubts that remained in the back of her mind.
“Too busy to tell us he was going on a trip before now? Come on Mom, he’s hiding something! And, it’s got everything to do with his health, I’m sure of it!”
Distracted for a moment, Nikki recalled Victor had left with only a duffle bag. ‘He said he had a suit in the car, but, if he were going on a business trip, he would’ve left with a suitcase, not just a duffle bag,’ Nikki thought to herself, finally putting all the pieces of this puzzle together.
“Mom?” Victoria asked as she studied her intently, wondering what she was thinking.
Meanwhile, at Genoa City Memorial, Victor sat in a hospital room, wearing only a hospital gown and a preoccupied, frightened expression.
“Are you ready for your tests, Victor?” Dr. Cornwell asked gently as she entered the room.
Letting out a pent-up breath that he hadn’t even been aware he’d been holding in and replied quietly, “As ready as I’ll ever be.”
The tests having been done, along with the surgery, and still groggy because of the sedatives still in his system, Victor lay in his hospital room, waiting for Dr. Cornwell to come and talk to him about what she’d found.
When she arrived, closing the door silently behind her, Victor could tell by her demeanor the news wasn’t good!
After a couple of moments, she finally said, “It’s a good thing we did the tests and the surgery when we did.”
His fear rising to the surface, Victor asked, “Why? What happened? What did you find out?”
Dr. Cornwell carefully explained, “Victor, at this point, I think it’s best if we bring in a cardiologist to explain your options to you.”
“Just give it to me straight!” Victor snapped impatiently.
“It doesn’t look good, Victor. It doesn’t look good at all!” Dr. Cornwell replied honestly.
“What about medication? Surely there’s something you can give me, some kind of prescription I can take?” Victor asked hopefully, more terrified than he’d admit to anybody, even himself.
“Truthfully, Victor, I don’t think that’ll do you any good at this point. Too much damage has been done.” There was a clear, painful note of regret in her voice.
“I’d still like to try.”
“What? Why?” Dr. Cornwell asked, shocked.
“Simple, it’s much easier to explain why I’m taking medication than trying to explain a lengthy absence because of major surgery.” Victor’s tone was firm, but flat.
“No, I won’t do that to my family. It’s not an option.” Victor fought his fear, determined to protect his family, despite what it might do to him and his health.
“I’ll take whatever medication you think may help me, no matter how slim the chances are, if it works, great; that means my family, including Nikki never has to know.”
“If not?” Dr. Cornwell asked carefully.
“If not, I’ll deal with it, alright?” Victor replied tightly.
“Okay, if that’s the way you want it, Victor. Although, I strongly urge you to reconsider.” Dr. Cornwell did her best to get him to see reason.
“I’m not gonna change my mind, alright! My decision is final!” Victor exclaimed firmly, his tone letting the doctor know he meant what he said.
“Okay, okay, I know when to cut my losses.”
“Good. By the way, how long am I gonna be here for? When can I go home?” Victor asked, hoping and thinking that he’d be in the hospital for a few days before the doctor would finally let him go.
“Not for another week, at least.”
Victor’s jaw dropped as he asked, “What? Why?”
“Victor, you just had surgery, you need to rest. Besides, we both know, if I let you go, you’ll be right back in the office the minute you get out of here!” Dr. Cornwell replied, unable to understand why she was even having this discussion with him.
Glaring at the doctor, Victor grumbled, “Okay, fine.”
“Could you get my cell phone, please? I need to call my family.”
“To let them know what’s going on?” Dr. Cornwell asked a little hopefully, though she knew the answer she’d get.
“No, to let them know I won’t be coming home as early as I thought.”
Dr. Cornwell did what she’d been asked, and then left him alone to make the necessary calls.
At the ranch, after having spoken to Victor and her children, Nikki was beginning to think both Nicholas and Victoria were right. “What is he hiding? And, why won’t he tell me? Whatever it is, it’s something big, something very serious. Otherwise, he would’ve just told me by now.”
She decided to call Victoria and Nick to see if they’d found out anything new. The more they told her, the angrier she got! ‘If he thinks he’s gotten away with this, he couldn’t be more wrong! He’s got some serious explaining to do!’ Nikki thought to herself, fuming!
Two weeks had passed since Victor had been admitted for his tests and exploratory surgery, which Dr. Cornwell had recommended.
“I can’t wait to get out of this place, looking at the same four walls is driving me crazy!” Victor exclaimed impatiently. “And, it’ll be good to see Nikki again. I never thought I’d miss her as much as I have,” he thought to himself with a sad smile. “She’ll be so surprised to find out I=m coming home today,” Victor said as he reached for his cell phone.
“Damn!” He threw it back down on the bed and mumbled angrily, “What a time for it to die on me!”
Realizing he had no other choice, he picked up the phone beside his bed and called home.
“Hello?” Nikki answered, unaware that she was about to get a sweet surprise.
“Hello, my darling.”
“Victor?” Nikki asked smiling brightly, surprised to hear from him.
“Surprised?” Victor asked smiling brightly.
“Yeah, I didn’t think I’d hear from you. You’ve been pretty busy the last few weeks.” Nikki happily replied, still smiling softly. ‘It’s so good to hear his voice.’
“Good, I’ve got good news,” Victor said, teasing her a little.
“What? What’s going on?” Nikki asked excited.
“I’m coming home today.” Victor waited for the news to sink in and Nikki’s undoubtedly excited reaction.
“Really?” Nikki’s eyes lit up at hearing he was coming home.
“Yeah, I’ll be home soon.”
“You don’t know how glad I am to hear that. I’ve missed you a lot.”
Taking a moment to consider how tired he sounded, Nikki asked, “Is everything okay, are you alright?”
Smiling sadly, almost ruefully, Victor replied, trying to reassure her, “Yeah, I’m just tired from all my meetings. I’m sorry, things took much longer than I thought they would.”
“Oh don’t worry about that. I’m just glad you’re coming home,” Nikki replied as she had decided to back off and give him a chance to tell him what was going on without her having to force it out of him.
“Alright, I’ll let you go for now. I’ll be home soon,” Victor said, trying his best to sound normal, before hanging up.
Just after she’d hung up, Nikki realized she’d forgotten to do something very important. AI should’ve asked him about picking him up from the airport. I completely forgot.”
Thinking nothing of it, Nikki checked the caller id, expecting to see a hotel number. But, what she saw was much, much different! Her jaw dropped as she whispered in disbelief, “Genoa City Memorial?”
Ready to strangle her loving husband, Nikki tore out the door, determined to get the answers he seemed so intent on keeping from her.
When she finally got there, Nikki cautiously walked into Victor’s room and found him softly sleeping.
She couldn’t help but worry as she studied him quietly, intently. Her heart broke a little as she realized how tired and drawn his features seemed.
Disoriented and still a little tired from all he’d been through, Victor slowly awoke, surprised to find Nikki sitting beside him, watching him sleep. “What are you doing here? How did you find me?” he asked tightly, defensively.
“That doesn’t matter. What are you doing here?” Nikki asked, intent on getting the answers she’d come for.
‘She knows something’s up. I can tell just by looking at her and the tone of her voice. I need to think of something quick! Nikki can’t find out what’s going on, not now! I can’t afford any slip-ups,’ Victor thought to himself, trying his best to keep an increasingly uncontrollable situation under control.
Just as Nikki was about to start asking more questions, Dr. Cornwell entered. “How are you feeling?” she asked, after greeting Nikki.
“Fine,” Victor replied shortly.
“Will somebody please tell me what’s going on?” Nikki asked, getting increasingly frustrated.
“Nikki, I need a moment alone with Victor.”
“What? I just got here.”
“Darling, please, we’ll talk later,” Victor said softly.
“Okay, I’ll be back in a few minutes, after Dr. Cornwell’s done examining you,” Nikki reluctantly agreed.
As soon as Nikki had left, Dr. Cornwell wasted no time in trying to make her point. “Victor, tell her what’s going on. She has every right to know!”
“I will not tell Nikki, you got that! I will not change my mind, either!” Victor exclaimed, digging in his heels.
“Victor, listen to me. This is for your own good!” Dr. Cornwell exclaimed, losing her patience with him.
Victor was about to deliver another terse reply, which he hoped would put an end to the discussion when Nikki came back in.”What’s going on? Am I interrupting something? Victor, why are you here in the first place?” she asked, looking from Dr. Cornwell to Victor, noting neither seemed very happy. The tension was palpable and getting worse by the second.
“No, we just finished doing some tests before you came, that’s all. Excuse me, I’ve got to check on some other patients. Victor, think about what I said.” With that, Dr. Cornwell headed for the door.
“Yes, Nikki?” Dr. Cornwell really didn’t want to be there any longer than she had to, so she hoped whatever Nikki wanted to say, it would be quick.
“Is Victor alright? Can I take him home?” she asked, noting how tense they both still seemed.
“Yes, although I don’t want him driving or going to work for at least the next week or so.”
As she watched the doctor leave, Nikki thought to herself, ‘No, this is about more than just some simple tests.’ Turning to Victor, she asked skeptically, pointedly, “Oh really, that’s it? That’s the only reason you=re here, just so she could do some tests?”
“Yeah, she’s telling you the truth, why don’t you believe her?”
Completely fed up with all the excuses she’s been given for weeks since his physical, Nikki snapped! “Because, Victor, this doesn’t add up, none of it does! It doesn’t make any sense at all!”
Feeling her blood pressure rising by the minute, Nikki asked angrily, “Why are you really here? Why didn’t you tell me you were coming here? Why the big secret, Victor? What’s really going on?”
Hoping she’d believe him, Victor calmly reiterated, “I just had a few more tests to do, that’s all.”
“Victor, you already went for a physical, why go again?” Nikki sounded confused and sceptical, but she was also angrier than she’d ever been before!
“You’re right, I did go for the physical, but the doctor couldn’t do a few tests because the machines and equipment she needed were under repair.”
“Victor, I’m not a child, don’t talk to me like one! Stop giving me all these excuses and tell me what’s really going on! Why didn’t you tell me that you had to come here for more tests if there’s nothing serious going on?” Nikki asked, furious at his continued lack of cooperation and stonewalling.
“Nikki, I told you there’s nothing to worry about! Just drop it!” Victor snapped, sick and tired of everyone second guessing him.
“I want answers!” she shot back, determined to get them.
“I didn’t tell you what’s going on because I didn’t want you fussing over me.”
“Victor…” Nikki tried her best to understand what she’d just heard. “The best way to get me to stop fussing over you would’ve been to tell me that you were going for some more tests, I would’ve taken you and that would’ve been the end of it.”
“Oh really? Somehow I find that hard to believe.”
“Why are you being this way? Why are you being so stubborn? All I’m trying to do is help you. Why won’t you let me?” Nikki asked, hurt.
“I’m fine, alright. I don’t want you worrying, that’s it!@ Victor snapped once agin and gasped as a wave of pain hit and he forced himself to take deep breaths, although even that was difficult.
“Victor? Victor? What’s going on? Should I get the doctor? I’m getting Dr. Cornwell,” Nikki asked, alarmed, and terrified at what she was seeing. ‘What’s going on here? Why won’t he talk to me and why won’t he answer me? God, please don’t let me lose him, don’t let me lose him!’ “Victor?” She was half way to the door when Victor finally stopped her.
“I’m fine, I’m fine. I don’t need a doctor. Don’t go bothering Dr. Cornwell. It’ll pass, just give it a few minutes,” Victor whispered weakly, still wheezing a bit.
“Victor, I really think you need to let the doctor examine you.”
“Nikki, I don’t need a doctor, alright. I’m fine. Just give me a few minutes to relax, that’s all I need!” Victor bit out angrily.
Not knowing what else to do, Nikki just sat there, praying everything would be okay. ‘If I push and he gets worked up, who knows what will happen, I can’t do that.’
A couple hours later, Nikki sat where she’d been since she walked in after the doctor was done examining Victor, silently, worriedly watching him, wondering if he was really okay.
He had been sleeping lightly, but, feeling her eyes on him, Victor woke up and tiredly said, “Hi, I’m sorry about what happened earlier. I shouldn’t have gotten so worked up and scared you like that.”
“Oh it’s alright, don’t worry about any of that,” Nikki replied with a sad smile, dismissing it with a careless wave of her hand.
“You sure?” Victor didn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Yeah, don’t worry about it. How are you feeling, do you think you’re okay to go home?” Nikki asked gently as she touched his cheek tenderly.
“Yeah, I’m fine. But, there’s one problem.”
“I don’t know what they did with my clothes.” The mischievous smile on his face made Nikki chuckle and slap his shoulder playfully.
“I think I can find them. Don’t move until I get back,” Nikki warned sternly.
“Don’t you dare move!”
After he had very slowly gotten dressed, Nikki took him home.
Still worried about what she=s been seeing and hearing, and about what she saw at the hospital, Nikki helped him inside and to the livingroom couch.
As they sat there, Nikki studied him intently, trying to shake the feeling that she’d made a big mistake when she took him home! “Victor, I really wish you would’ve at least waited for Dr. Cornwell to come back with the test results.”
“My sweetheart, there’s nothing to worry about. Now, please, don’t get yourself worked up over nothing. If there’s something wrong, the doctor will call me.”
At a loss as to what else she could do to get him to see reason under the circumstances, she lovingly reminded him, “Alright, but I’m here, ready to listen when you’re ready to talk.”
Choking on the tears rising in his eyes, Victor whispered emotionally, “Thank you.”
“For what?” Nikki asked with a smile, a little confused.
“Everything,” Victor replied, his voice sad and full of regret. The simplicity and humility with which he said that brought bittersweet tears to her eyes.
When he finally brought his lips to hers, it was to kiss her softly, so softly she couldn’t help but smile as they broke apart.
Exhausted by the day they’d both had and unwilling to discuss anything further, they turned in for the night. It wasn’t even ten minutes before they fell asleep in each other’s arms, each blissfully dreaming of what lay ahead of them. Although, in the back of his mind, Victor knew there was a chance he may never get to see their dreams become reality.