Now&Forever: Sweet Seduction
As the clouds darkened overhead on an already overcast day and the wind whipped through the trees, Victor had been driving for hours, trying to put as much distance as possible between himself and the ranch, the woman he longed for and the questions that had followed him, stayed with him even after he’d left home. They ran through his mind one after another. ‘Did I do the right thing? Is Nikki really better off without me?’ he thought to himself seeking reassurance he knew he wouldn’t find.
Following his instincts, he headed towards the park. Although it was getting colder, he didn’t mind the chill in the air as he walked towards the bench and sat down. Not far from where he sat, he spotted a young boy and girl playing soccer. ‘They’re both good for their age,’ Victor thought to himself as he felt a pang of bitter resentment and anger shoot through him. With a sad smile, he watched them play for a little while longer.
Just as he was about to leave a soccer ball landed at his feet. The young girl who had been playing soccer with her brother ran after it. Victor bent down to pick it up and tossed it around a little, wishing he had more time to spend with his family, wishing that things were different.
“Excuse me, mister.”
“Here you go,” Victor replied softly as he handed her her ball back with a sad, wistful smile.
“Thanks,” the little girl said as she took the ball back and turned to head back to where her brother was standing waiting to resume the game. Thinking better of it, she turned around and asked, “Are you okay, mister?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Although Victor tried his best to be convincing, the sad smile he wore betrayed him.
Blissfully unaware of anything being wrong, the girl scampered off toward her brother.
As he watched the children play, Victor thought about his own children. ‘I wonder who they’ll be like, Nikki, or me? Probably a little of both. I just wish I could be around to find out, I wish I could be around to watch them grow up, to see how they turn out. But I can’t, I won’t be able to. I won’t get that chance, and I need to accept that. No matter how hard it may be, I have to accept reality.’
As he sat there in the cold wind watching the children play on the jungle gym, doubts started to creep in. ‘Did I do the right thing here? Or, did I just make things worse? Did I do what’s best for Nikki and my family or did I just end up hurting them? I wish I could be sure.’
Meanwhile, at the ranch, Nikki had just finished talking to Sharon and Nick who, unfortunately hadn’t heard from Victor. ‘Maybe Victoria has heard from him. At least I hope she has.’ With that, Nikki grabbed her coat and headed out the door, pulling her coat tight against her as the bitter wind blew around her and whipped her hair against her face.
“Sorry, Mom, I haven’t talked to him. What’s going on? Is something wrong? Is there something wrong with one of the twins?” Vicki asked worriedly.
“No, no, sweetheart, nothing’s wrong with either of them.”
“Then, is there something going on with you? Did the doctor find something else?”
“No, baby, it’s nothing like that.”
“Then what is it?”
“I just need to talk to your father, that’s all.” Nikki silently prayed she’d be able to do just that, very; very soon. “Listen, I’m going to see if Connie has spoken to him, if you hear from him call me right away, alright?”
“Yeah, sure,” Vicki replied confused as she watched her mom leave.
“You’re sure you haven’t spoken to him; that he hasn’t been in?” Nikki asked, starting to get very, very irritated!
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Newman, I haven’t seen him or heard from him.”
“Alright, thanks. Listen, if he does show up, call me right away, okay?”
As she walked out of the building, Nikki thought to herself angrily, ‘Damn it, Victor, where the hell are you? Where are you and what are you trying to prove here?!’
As storm clouds rolled in, Nikki stormed back in to the main house. “Where would he go? Where?”
“It’s worth a shot,” Nikki said to herself as she snatched the phone’s receiver up from its cradle and jabbed at the numbers.
“Hi, Hope, it’s me. Has Victor been there? Have you heard from him yet? Please tell me you have.”
“No, I haven‘t, I’m sorry, Nikki.”
“Yeah, so am I,” Nikki replied bitterly. “I’m sorry, this isn’t your fault, you’re trying to help. Thanks, Hope.” Frustrated and a little defeated, Nikki hung up.
“He finally called?” Nikki thought to herself aloud, hopeful that she’d finally get some clue as to what was going on as she played the message, which she noticed he had left one on her answering machine.
“My darling, I’m alright, I’m just fine. There’s no need to worry, I’m just fine, alright. I needed to do this, I needed to leave; for both of us. I wish things were different, that there were another way, but there isn’t. I needed to leave now, before things got out of hand and you ended up getting hurt. That’s the last thing I want. I don’t want to hurt you any-more; I’ll do whatever I have to to keep that from happening. God knows you’ve suffered enough at my hands. But, that’s over now. You have a chance at a new life. Enjoy it, live it to its fullest, and don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I love you.”
“That’s it? That’s it?!” Nikki exclaimed, fighting the urge to hurl the answering machine against the wall. “This isn’t over! Not by a long-shot! If he thinks he’s gotten rid of me, he’s got another thing coming!” Nikki thought to herself aloud as she stormed out the door once again and headed into town, to Victor’s penthouse.
Victor stood by the window watching the wind blow the snow around the city, it had calmed down a little in the past little while. But, it was still bitterly cold outside. He didn’t notice though, his mind had taken him back in time; back to a time when his life was much simpler and much, much happier. “Nikki,” he whispered softly, blinking back tears, as more fell. He felt the lump in his throat grow and tried to swallow it gamely. He ran his fingers through his hair and swore softly, balling his hands into fists at his side. Pacing towards the decanter of brandy he had set on a table by the couch, he snatched it up and poured himself a glass. One look at him, one look in his eyes made it crystal clear he’d have much preferred throwing both the decanter and the snifter and watching them shatter into a thousand pieces at his feet. But, deep down, he knew whatever satisfaction he’d derive from this one petty act, this single outburst, would be short-lived.
As Nikki paced the living room, she grew tired of waiting and decided to put her energy into trying to find her husband. Although she did her best, she still ended up no closer to finding out what was going on than she had been before. She’d even called Douglas and still had no answers. “It’s like he’s dropped off the face of the earth!”
“Douglas! He knows what’s going on, I’m sure of it!” Nikki exclaimed, pleased that she=d found yet another way to get the information she was after as she headed out the door.
“I’m sorry, Nikki, I haven’t seen him. I haven’t spoken to him since the party months ago.”
“You’re sure?” Nikki asked stubbornly, her anger growing.
“Yes, I’m sorry. But, I promise I’ll let you know if I hear from Victor.”
“Thanks,” Nikki replied curtly before storming out and slamming the door behind her.
Victor stood at Douglas’ front door and let out a heavy sigh as he knocked.
“Victor, this is a surprise.”
“Hi, can I come in?”
Glancing down and noticing Victor’s suitcase, Douglas replied, confused, “Of course.”
“Victor, what’s going on? Have you and Nikki had some sort of falling out?”
“No, not exactly, I just need a place to stay.” Victor offered no further explanation.
“What? I don’t understand any of this,” Douglas replied confused.
Sitting on the couch, Victor recounted the events of the past few months and how they’d very effectively, very efficiently torn his life apart.
“I can certainly see why you’re feeling the way you are. This is certainly not the way you pictured you marriage to Nikki, I’m sure. But, are you sure it’s wise to leave like this, to just cut her out of your life so completely, so suddenly?”
“What else am I supposed to do? What the hell else do you expect me to do? Nikki can never become involved in this. She’ll only get hurt and I won’t allow it! She won’t be told anything! Am I making myself clear?”
“Victor, she’s already involved!” Douglas argued wisely.
One look in Victor’s eyes told Douglas it was pointless to argue. “Alright, I won’t force you to do anything.” Though, Douglas said nothing about not telling Nikki Victor’s whereabouts.
Meanwhile, Nikki had gone back home. As she stormed into the livingroom, Nikki’s eyes burned like fire. Her fists clenched at her side as she realized, much to her dismay, that Victor hadn=t left any more messages.
“Mom? Mom, are you home?” Victoria called as she walked in.
“Victoria, have you heard anything from your father?” Nikki asked hopefully.
“No, have you?” Vicki asked, equally hopefully.
“All I got was this,” Nikki replied bitterly, angrily as she played Victor’s message for her daughter.
“Mom, calm down. Why are you so angry? Why are you acting like this? What’s going on?” Vicki asked trying to calm her mom down; but unable to hide her curiosity.
“Your father belongs here; he told me he’d stay with me throughout this pregnancy. And, where is he? Nowhere to be found! He’s taken off without a word to me about where he’s gone!” Nikki knew this was all a very lame excuse. ‘What other choice do I have at this point? I know Victor doesn’t want anybody else knowing what’s going on. I had a hard enough time getting him to tell me about it. So how can I tell Victoria about it when I know it would just make matters worse?’ Nikki thought to herself frustrated and angry.
“Is there anything I can do?” Vicki asked helpfully, hopefully.
“No angel, I’m fine. You go on, go back to work, I know you’ve got a lot going on.”
“Okay, but do me a favour and call me if you hear anything, alright?”
“I will,” Nikki reassured her before she went back to work.
Determined to get the answers to her questions, Victoria sat behind her desk and called her father.
It didn’t take Victor long to realize she wouldn’t be deterred. “Alright, I’ll be right there.”
“Good, I’ll be here waiting.” Vicki hung up and vowed to get to the bottom of whatever was going on. ‘This doesn’t make any sense! Why would Dad leave? What is he hiding? And how do I figure it out?’
“Victoria, you don’t have to worry.”
“Yeah, why don’t I believe that?” Vicki asked sarcastically.
“Victoria, there’s something going on you don’t know about. But, it’s nothing for you to worry about, alright?”
“I knew you’d say that! Of course there’s something going on I don’t know about! You won’t tell me anything! Dad, is there something going on with your health I should know about?”
The question took him completely surprise. Trying to school his features into a mask of total and complete calm, Victor replied, “My sweetheart, don’t worry.”
“What do you mean, don’t worry? Are you kidding me? How do you expect me not to worry under the circumstances? You took off, you didn’t tell anybody where you were going, you left Mom a cryptic message that has her climbing the walls. So, you want to tell me why I shouldn’t worry? You want to tell me how I’m supposed to do that?”
“Victoria, all you need to worry about is your mother, alright! That’s all you have to worry about!”
“I know, I know. You keep saying that, but I can’t help worrying about you too. I can’t pretend, I’m not going to pretend! Do you hear me, I won’t pretend!”
“My sweetheart, everything will be fine. I promise,” Victor spoke softly, heart-brokenly.
“How? How do you expect me to believe that when I don’t even know what’s going on? When you won’t tell me anything?”
“Just trust me,” Victor whispered softly before kissing her forehead and walking out of the office.
Victor headed to his office and threw himself into his work. Determinedly, stoically, he sat behind his desk, with the door closed fully absorbed in his work, unwilling to let his fears control him . ‘It’s all I have left now,’ he thought to himself sullenly.
After hours of hard work, in the wee hours of the morning Victor finally headed home.
“Victor, is that you?” Douglas asked as he descended the stairs.“Douglas, what are you doing up?”
“I came to get a cup of tea. Would you like me to make you something to eat perhaps?”
“No, thank you,” Victor replied before pouring himself a brandy and settling in to work yet again.
Realizing how late it had gotten, Victor slowly, tiredly made his way upstairs to bed.
No matter how hard he tried, Victor tossed and turned in bed, caught up in terrifying nightmares.
He saw himself in a coffin as mourners shed countless tears and his family sat in the front pews of the church devastated by their loss. The pain etched on their faces, shining in their eyes terrified and saddened him like nothing else ever could. The knowledge that the horrifying nightmare could very well become a reality was more than he could bear.
With a frustrated, depressed sigh, Victor resigned himself to another sleepless night, a night spent longing for the life he once had, the life he once cherished and the love he once lived for and drew so much strength from.
The next day, although Victoria was still determined to get to the bottom of whatever was going on with her parents, she had other pressing concerns to deal with.
“Why haven’t I heard from Gary, he seemed so eager to prove himself. It’s like he’s done a complete one-eighty.
And Jeff’s been so cocky up until now; he’s called me non-stop, now I haven’t heard from either one of them in days. What the hell are those two up to and how do I find out? How?” Victoria asked frustrated and quickly losing patience with the games both men seemed to be playing.
She was deep in thought about how to get the answers she was after when the phone rang. “Hello?”
“Victoria, it’s me, Gary. I know I haven’t called, but I’ve had some things come up unexpectedly. I had to take care of a few things. Listen, I want to make it up to you. How about dinner at Gina’s?”
Victoria was about to seize the opportunity that had just presented itself when she remembered the conversation she’d had with her father the day before and how strange her parents had been acting the past little while. “It sounds great Gary, really. But, I’ve got to take care of some things tonight. I’m sorry, I know it’s lousy timing. I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
“Victoria, I thought you were going to give me a chance to prove to you I’ve changed,” Gary replied in controlled frustration.
“I am,” Vicki replied levelly, calmly.
“How exactly am I supposed to do that when you keep turning me down every time I want to meet you somewhere?” Gary asked fuming.
“Gary, come on, you’re not being fair.”
Only the dial tone answered her.
“You made a mistake, Vicki, a big, big mistake! You’ll pay for it too, you’ll pay dearly!” Gary rasped as he glared at the phone in his apartment and his eyes took on a maniacal gleam.
With that unpleasant encounter dealt with, Victoria phoned home to see if there was any news from her father, unfortunately there wasn’t. “Enough with the cryptic games and the rest of the garbage, Dad. It’s time for answers!” Vicki exclaimed determinedly as she left her office and headed to her father’s.
“This is a pleasant surprise, what brings you by?” Victor asked pleasantly as Vicki entered the office and closed the door soundly behind her.
“I want answers, Dad, and you’re the only one who can give them to me.”
“What are you talking about?” Victor asked trying to play dumb.
“Come on, Dad, you know exactly what I’m talking about! What’s going on with you and Mom, what happened to make you move out? What, did you and her have a fight or something? Or, is it something to do with your health? Is that it, is that what this is about?”
“My darling, don’t worry. I’m handling it, kindly stay out of it and just trust me, alright. I’m handling it,” Victor replied evasively. ‘I can’t tell her what’s really going on. She would be devastated, I can’t do that to her!’
“I can’t help it. I can’t help but wonder.”
“What?” Victor asked as he eyed her intently.
“I’m going to ask you something and I want the truth. Did you leave because of me? Was it something I did or something I said? Is that why you left?”
“My darling, where do you get that idea? Where did that come from? My leaving has nothing to do with you.”
“Well, can you really blame me for asking? It’s the only thing I can think of that makes any sense, especially considering all the fights we’ve had the past few months, how much I’ve been pushing you and Mom away.”
“My darling, that’s not it at all. This has nothing to do with you,” Victor firmly reiterated.
“Then what is it?” Vicki asked determined to get the truth out of her father.
“Never mind. Don’t worry about anything.”
“How can I not?” Vicki asked stubbornly. “Dad, what can I do to fix this? Is there anything I can do? There has to be something I can do!”
Victor was about to tell her that, no unfortunately there was nothing she could do. Then, thinking better of it, he replied, “Look after your mother for me. Take good care of her for me; that’s the best thing you can do.”
“But, who’s going to look after you? Who’ll take care of you?”
Emotionally, with a soft, sad smile, Victor wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tight as he told her, “Trust me. Everything will be fine, my sweetheart. I promise you, everything will be fine.”
Still very unsure, Victoria replied, “Promise me you’ll call if you need anything.”
With a watery smile and a small nod, Victoria reluctantly left.