“Tell me, was that dinner for your parents? How are they doing? I know your father’s still working hard as ever. How’s your mother doing? I hope she’s staying awya from stress. It isn’t good for a woman in her condition!”
Trying her best to stay calm, Vicki asked, “What do you mean?”
Jeff cryptically answered, “You know what I mean.” “how’s your dad doing?”
“Do you care?” Vicki snapped back angrily.
“I saw him at the doctor’s office a day or two ago, I was there for a checkup myself. I hope it’s nothing serious.”
Vicki, beginning to see red thought herself, ready to lace into him, ‘He really has no clue who he’s messing with! I will not tolerate anybody messing with my family, not him, not anybody!’ “Listen you-“
Jeff sinisterly, hotly and hostilely cut her off! “No, you listen, you stupid, spoiled bitch! you have one last chance to get me my job back! If that doesn’t happen within the next forty-eight hours, you’ll pay for it! You’ll pay a very high price!“
“You don’t scare me. You have too much to lose by doing anything to me!” Vicki replied bravely.
“Correction, sweetheart, I have nothing to lose! As for going after you, who says I’m going to do that?”
Victoria’s eyes bugled out of her head and allarm bellswen off inside it, as she realized hsi intentions. ‘Oh my God, he’s going after Mom and Dad!’ Though she tried to convince herself she was wrong, deep down she knew her instincts were dangerously on target. “Who am I kidding, of course he’s going after them! He knows he can’t et to me any other way!”
“Wait a minute, let’s talk about this.” Vicki knew the best thing she could do at this point was to keep him talking until she could come up with some sort of plan.
“I’m not interested in discussing this, Victoria. The time for talk is over! It’s time for results!” Preparing to hang up, he told her, “I’ll be in touch.”
Trying her best to keep him talking for as long as possible, Vicki replied, “Wait! I think we can find some kind of compromise here. I know some people who might be able to help you.”
Unfortunately for her, Jeff saw right through the ploy. “I’ll call you in two days. And you’d better have good news for me!“
With the dial tone ringing in her ears and his last words before he hung up reverberating through her mind, Vicki hung up and sped home.
Wishing she could forget her latest conversation with Jeff, Victoria finally pulled into the driveway of he ranch.
She got Abby her dinner and was about to leave her to enjoy it when Abby asked, “You’re not eating? It’s good!“
Similing, and forgetting aobu hwat had happened just short while ago, Vicki replied,”No, I’m not hungry. You go ahead.” The truth was, she was too shaken up by the latest turn of events, and what they could very well mean to eat. ‘What if he’s not bluffing? what if he does go after Mom and Dad? Vicki thought to herself, as her imagination ran away with her.
Looking at her watch, Vicki tried to calm herself down. “It’s not that late, there’s no reason to panic.” A little voice inside her added, “Yet.”
Meanwhile at the Collonnade room, Nikki and Victor sat across from each other enjoying a sumptuous candlelit dinner.
“Victor? Victor?” Nikki was trying to get his attention, after he became distracted yet again.
“What?” Victor replied shaking back to reality. ‘I’ve got to stop thinking about that damn appointment next week! If Nikki catches on, I’ll never hear the end of it!’ he thought to himself, angry that he’d allowed his mind to wonder yet again.
“Where were you just now?” Nikki asked, sure something was being kept from her.
“Just thinking about work,” Victor lied easily.
“Uh huh, come on, out with it. i knowthis hs nothing to do with work.”
“Nikki, it’s fine, really.”
“Yeah, sure, Come on, Victor, you’re not fooling me. Talk to me, who knows, I might be able to help.” Nikki’s voice was soft and full of concern, her eyes held a silent plea for him to open up to her.
“My darling, we’re having such a good time. Let’s not ruin it, alright?” Victor whispered, his voice full of emotion, as he took her hand and held it tightly in his.
Nikki was about to argue, but the look in his eyes nearly broke her heart. “Okay.”
As they danced, Victor found himself caught up in a sea of memoried, wishing they could stay like this forever, he held tight and tried his best to block out everything but the feel of his love in his arms, holding her so close and tight.
Leading her back to the table, Victor couldn’t help but smile to himself, as he recalled the first time she’d ever stepped foot in the Colonnade Room.
“What’s that smiel all about?” Niki asked, returning hhis smile.
“I was just thinking about the first time I brought you here.”
“Sometimes that seems so long ago.”
“Hey, it wasn’t that long ago!” Victor exclaimed chuckling.
“Well no, but…” Nikki’s voice trailed off as she smiled at him and shrugged.
“I thought I was going to have to pick you up off the floor, ” Victor continued, laughing.
“Hey! It was not that bad!” Nikki exclaimed,trying to be stern with him, but failing miserably, as a smile spread across her face. “You know I’d never been to a place like this before. The fanciest place anybody ever took me was a coffee shop!” Nikki exclaimed, smiling as the memory returned to her, as if it were yesterday.
“Oh, I should phone home, just to see how things are,” Nikki said pulling out her cell phone.
“Darling, I’m sure everything’s fine. Don’t worry so much.”
“You’re probably right, but I want to call, just to make sure.”
“Hello?” Victoria had picked up after the third ring.
“hey, how re things?” Nikki asked, happy to hear her daughter’s voice.
“Fine, Abby’s had her dinner, she’s upstairs reading a book,” Vicki replied, trying her best to make sure Nikki didn’t catch on to anything.
“Good. What about you? I hope you’re not planning on working until hours of the night.”
“No, Mother, don’t worry.” Vicki couldn’t help but smile, her mother had always been this way, always looked out for her.
Something in Victoria’s tone of voice had Nikki wondering just how much of what Vicki was saying was true. ‘Why do i ge the feeling she’s putting on an act. More importantly what happened? I’m imagining things. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong,” Nikki tried to convince herself it wasn’t true.
“We’ll be home soon.”
“Take your time, you and Dad deserve a night out on the town! Everything’s under control here.” Vicki tried her best to force a bright, reassuring note into her voice.
“Okay, your father and I both have our cell phones with us if you need anything,” Nikki reminded her, as she very reluctantly prepared to hang up.
“I know, Mom, don’t worry, I won’t. Have a good time.”
“Thanks.” With that, Nikki hung up and returned her attention to Victor.
Victor recalled the first time she’d tried to cook for him and couldn’t help but laugh.
“What’s so funny?” Nikki asked with a smile, as she looked at him quizzically.
“Remember the first time you tried to cook for me? It was a total disaster!”
“Hey watch it!” Nikki exclaimed, throwing her napkin at him, and trying her best not to laugh, as the memory returned for her too.
“What?” Victor asked with a smile, trying to play innocent.
Shaking her head and smiling, Nikki replied playfully, “Well, it’s a good thing you didn’t marry me for my cooking skills.”
“Yeah, you don’t have any,” Victor teased.
Despite the worries that had remained foremost in his mind or much of the evening, at that very moment, all Victor saw, all he though about was the woman sitting in front of him and what they’d been lucky enough to share for over two decades.
Back at the ranch, Vicki tried her best to stay calm and busy. She’d played with Abby for a little while bbefore putting her to bed. Now, as she sat on th couch trying to read one of th ereports she’d brought home, she chastised herself. “Quit being so jumpy every time the phone rings! Jeff’s done with his little games the night!”
As the phone rang once again, Victoria jumped out of her skin. “Hello?” she said, fully expecting Jeff to be on the other end of the line.
‘Hey sis, who’s it going?”
“Nicholas, it’s you,” Vicki replied, breathing a sigh of relief.
“Yeah, who did you think it was?” he replied, worried that something else had happened to his sister.
Despite her racing pulse and sick, stomach, Vicki tried to keep calm while she recounted her latest conversation with Jeff.
“What? Vicki, are you okay? Do you want me to come over?” Nick asked shocked.
“Yeah, Nick, I”m fine. Don’t worry. Just keep a close eye on Sharon and the children. And, be careful We don’t know what he’s capable of.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll be careful. Are you sure you don’t want me to come over there and keep you company until Mom and Dad come home?”
But Vicki wouldn’t hear of it. “You need to keep Sharon and the children safe. I’l lbe fine, ” Vicki replied before telling him not to worry and to give Noah and Cassie a hug for her and hangign up.
Still agitated, she phoned Paul to update him.
Having taken in everything she’d told him and considered their es course of action, Paul replied, “I’ll talk to your father about installign hidden cameras at Newman Enterprises and on the surrounding property. And, i think it’s a good idea to do the same here.”
“My parents are going to love that!” Victoria replied sarcastically, resentfully, and angrily . Then, thinking better of her behaviour, she said, “I’m sorry, Paul, this isn’t about you, you’re doing what you can. And, I appreciate it,, believe me. I just wish this whole thing would end already!”
“I’ll tell them everything as soon as they get home.”
“Good, the sooner they know about this, the better it will be, for everyone.”
“Nikki, what’s wrong?” Victor asked, as he sat across from her, studying her intently.
“I can’t shake the feeling somethings’ wrong at home. I haven’t been able to all night.”
Considering the way Nikki had acted afer conversatio nwith Victoria had ended and all that had gone on in the past few months Beginning to see things his wife’s wy, Victor said, “Alright, let’s go.”
They wasted no time in grabbing their coats and heading home.
At the main house, it was getting later and later, and Victoria had begun pacing. ‘What if Jeff’s gotten to them? Wht if he’s got them tied up somewhere right now?” Vicki thought to herself frantically.
She was still pacing when Nikki and Victor finally arrived.
It didn’t take them long to know something ws indeed very, very wrong!
“Thank God you’re home!” Vicki exclaimed, wrapping her arms around both her parents.
Nikki and Victor looked at each other and back at her questioningly.
Making her way over to the couch, with her parents following her, V icki told them, “Sit down, I’ve got something to tell you.”
“Victoria, what is it? What happened to upset you like this?’ Victor asked as they waited for her to let them in on whatever was going on, growing more and more concerned as Vicki paced the living room once more.
Taking a deep breath, Vicki told them about her latest confrontation with Jeff.
Fuming, Victor hollered, “Who the hell does that punk think he is? Nobody does this to my daughter and gets away wit hit! Nobody! I’m going to take care of this right now. I’m calling Paul Williams and…”
Victoria cut him off, explaining, “He just left awhile ago.” Before he could say anything, she went on to update him on Paul’s plans.
“Good, that’ a good start. I’ll call him in the morning to find out exactly what he’s planning.” Victor sounded somewhat satisfied, much to Victoria’ surprise.
“I’m going to take care of this right now, I’ll be back.”
“Victor, where are you going?”Nikki asked worriedly, thankful he’d stopped to answer her.
“I’m going to go and find this punk and teach him a lesson he’ll never forget!” Victor replied, as fire burned in his eyes and his voice turned ice cold.
“Dad, please don’t do that, please! We don’t know what he’s capable of.“
“She’s right,” Nikki calmly reasoned.
“I will protect my family ,that’s all there is to it!” Victor stubbornly replied.
“Dad, you and Mom both need bodyguards. Jeff made it pretty clear that if I don’t do what he wants, he’ll come after you. He’s not bluffing! He really will, he’s crazy enough to do it!” Vicki exclaimed in a rush of words.
“You’re right, you and your mother both need bodyguards. I don’t want either of you going anywhere alone. Clear?”
Vicki silently nodded.
“Good. I’m fine, I don’t need a bodyguard. ” Victor totally dismissed the idea without a thought. “Dad, listen plealse! He’s out for revenge! There’s no telling what he’ll do!” Vicki frantically tried to reason with him.“My darling, you’r forgetting something. I grew up in an orphanage, and on the streets of Buffalo. I can take care of myself!” Victor stubbornly countered, just as determined as his daughter to handle the situation his way!
“But nothing! I will not et a bodyguard because I don’t need one!“
With tears streaming down her cheeks, trembling, Vicki fell silent.
“Victor, while you’re so busy protecting us, who’ll protect you?” Nikki softly, yet firmly reasoned.
“My darling, with the added security at Newman Enterprises and here at home, no one will get anywhere near this family! They’ll have to go through me first!” Victor shot back just as firmly, and just s determinedly.
“Dad, we don’t know what Jeff will do next. I thought he was just angry because he lost his job. Now though, I’m not so sure. What have I done?” Vicki asked, as she tried to ignore the sick feelign growing in he pit of her stomach with each moment that passed. “I’m sorry. If I’d known what would happen, I would’ve done so much differently. I swear.”
“Victoria, don’t apologize,” Victor whispered, heartbroken as she sat beside his daughter.
“Your father’s right, you didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t cause this, Jeff did,” Nikki whispered as she sat beside her daughter and wrapped her arms around her protectively, trying her best to comfort her. “Everything will e alright, you’re safe here.”
“Your mother and I will make sure he doesn’t get anywhere near you. I promise you, he won’t get anywhere near you!” Victor vowed, determined to do whatever he he ahd to t oprotect his daughter, especially his daughter! ‘This punk doesn’t know who the hell he’s dealing with , but he’ll find out soon enough!’ Victor vowed, his blood boiling and his eyes ice cold.
Vicki said nothing, she just stared straight ahead. ‘I hope Mom and Dad are right. God, I hope they’re right!‘ She silently prayed.