Now&Forever: Think Twice
Meanwhile, at Newman Enterprises, Victoria strode into her office and checked her messages. “What? Gary Dawson? What’s he doing calling me?” Victoria thought to herself aloud, as she stared at the message in her hands, wide-eyed. Sitting behind her desk, she read the message yet again and decided, ” What a surprise, it says next to nothing! I’d better call him and see what he wants.”
At the ranch, Nikki sat in the livingroom trying to piece what little information she had together to try and figure everything out. “This has been going on for moths! First Victoria started acting weird just before the judge ruled in the custody hearing, then, when we told her about the baby, it was like she couldn’t believe it. She thought we were playing some kind of joke on her…” Nikki thought to herself aloud, starting to try and put the pieces of this huge puzzle together. “Then, after things calmed down a little, she went back to work. I thought everything would be just fine, but, she ended up calling me from the office. When I finally got there, she couldn’t get me to leave fast enough. It made no sense then, and it makes no sense now!” She exclaimed to herself in frustration. “She tried so hard to make me think nothing was wrong.” Nikki shook her head sadly, as she remembered the meeting. “After I finally got her to listen to me and come home, she didn’t even want to eat anything. And, true to form, she wouldn’t tell me what was going on either! She stonewalled me, thinking that would work! I guess she doesn’t know me very well. ” Nikki said to herself with a hint of a smile, although, she was definitely frustrated. “Why wouldn’t she eat? What’s wrong?” She asked herself, sobering. “She kept giving me the silent treatment, and it hasn’t gotten much better since! She just kept trying to make me think she’s okay. Anybody can see it’s a lie!” Nikki exclaimed angrily, as she paced to the piano and picked up a picture of Victoria, which had been taken when she was a teenager. “I was glad when she finally opened up a little, when I finally convinced her to talk. That didn’t last long, not when she finally started talking and I found out what was really going on!”
“Why would she wonder if anybody will remember her, if she’s accomplished anything? How can she say the job at Newman is all she’s got going for her? That’s ridiculous! She has to know it’s ridiculous!” Setting the picture down carefully, she continued to try and piece together the immense puzzle in front of her. “Then, came that little bomb about holding me and everybody else back. Where in God’s name did she get that from! She’s never held me back, ever! Then there’s that part about me having to give up on my dreams. What dreams did I give up on? All I thought about before I had her was when I was going out and who it was with, not much else!” Nikki felt her heart break a little more, as she continued. “She doesn’t think she has anything to be proud of. That’s garbage! Victoria has accomplished more than most women her age will ever accomplish! Why can’t I make her understand that?!” “As for me being stuck raising her, and needing to cut my losses…well, that’s just pure idiocy! It has no merit, none at all!” The fire in her eyes spoke volumes!
“I can understand her feeling like she’s on the outside looking in, though. We’re so much alike in some ways that we get on each other’s nerves sometimes. But, if I had any idea it would come to this, I would’ve done everything I could to stop it!” Nikki felt tears sting her eyes, but she fought them, refusing to let her emotions get the best of her. “And, what about her comparing herself to Nicholas, the look in her eyes when she talked about Nick having a family, the tone of her voice, it was like her heart was breaking… It’s almost as if the job isn’t enough for her anymore, like she’s looking for something more, but what?” Nikki was beginning to get a clearer picture of exactly what was going on. “But, I don’t like this one bit!” She exclaimed aloud as all the pieces started to come together. “It’s true Nicholas and I have a different relationship than Victoria and I do, but better? Why would she think that? What did I do with him that I should have done with Victoria?” Nikki asked herself bitterly. “She insinuated that there’s something wrong with our relationship, that there’s something missing. But, what? What is it?” A bitter, tight edge crept into Nikki’s voice as she tried fruitlessly to make sense of the whole mess. “Why would she think talking wouldn’t do anything. And, that part about her ruining my life, where did she get that from? Where? It’s true, I do finally have what I’ve always wanted, all I’ve ever wanted and dreamed of. But, I’m sure as hell not wasting my time worrying about her! Somebody needs to worry about her!”
“What I can’t understand is why she was so hostile and stonewalled me when I tried to get her to open up to me. What does she think I’m going to do, use it against her; for God’s sake?!” Nikki felt her pulse start to race and forced herself to take a deep breath to calm down.
“This nonsense about her not belonging here anymore is ridiculous! This is her home!“
“I can see where she’s coming from when she talked about us not feeling like family anymore. A lot has changed in the past several months, but, why can’t I shake the feeling I’m missing something here?” Nikki asked herself, well beyond frustrated and worried.
Back in Victoria’s office, she still sat behind her desk, waiting for Gary to pick up the phone. “Come on, come on, pick up!”
“Gary, it’s me. You left a message with my secretary saying you wanted to talk to me.”
“Yes, thank you for getting back to me so quickly. How have you been?” He tried to act polite, not wanting her to get suspicious just yet.
“Since when do you care?”
“Now, Victoria, is that any way to start things off?” He asked, sounding hurt.
“Fine, what did you want to talk to me about?” Vicki asked disinterestedly, impatiently.
“You called me for a reason. What is it?” ‘I can tell he wants something, what is it? What could he possibly want?’
“Nothing much, I was just wondering how you were. You seemed pretty upset at the hearing.”
‘How stupid does he think I am?’ “I have no time for this, so cut to the chase, Dawson!”
“Okay, I want a meeting with you.”
‘This seems innocent enough, but it’s Gary Dawson, there has to be an ulterior motive! What is it? Only way to find out, and, more importantly, only one way to get him off my back,’ Vicki thought to herself, before replying. “Alright, when and where?”
“Great, Gina’s, say in about two hours?” Gary asked lightly, as a malicious smirk slowly broke out across his face.
“Okay, I’ll see you then.”
“I’m looking forward to it.” With that, he hung up. Although the smirk was still there, an evil glint was now shining in his eyes.
Meanwhile, at the ranch, Nikki continued relentlessly to try and get to the bottom of what was going on. “Wait a minute, could the run-in with Jeff have anything to do with this? After all, he did threaten her, and she was terrified of him! She even thought Victor would fire her, so she quit! If that isn’t a sign that something’s really wrong here, I don’t know what is!“ Nikki exclaimed forcefully, examining every angle, trying everything she could think of to explain her daughter’s strange, and disturbing behaviour.
“Then, there’s the night, I found her lying on the bedroom floor, I still don’t get what she was doing there. Why couldn’t she sleep in her own room? She couldn’t leave fast enough. She was so intent on leaving for work, until I showed her the note. Why though, why wouldn’t she stay here like I asked her to? She wouldn’t even go for a walk, I had to convince her to come along. But, why? Why doesn’t she want anything to do with me? Why does she act like the last thing she wants to do is spend any time with me?” Nikki asked, thinking aloud, shaking her head.
“Why would she say I’ve had a horrible life, that I’ve been betrayed by people I loved, trusted, and that I raised two kids on my own? Aside from some hurtful things some people have done in the past, that’s absolutely not true!” Nikki felt a chill slither down her spine as she recalled her daughter’s words. “Then, once she realized what I thought she was implying, she couldn’t explain fast enough. It was like she’d said too much, somehow…” Nikki’s voice trailed off, as she thought of the implications.
“She made a big deal out of what I’ve accomplished both personally and professionally, but, I don’t understand why? It’s not like I’ve done anything special, or out of the ordinary. Damn it! Why can’t I make sense of this?!” Nikki’s frustration got the better of her, as her hands balled into fists and fire blazed in her eyes.
“She was angry when I first got the job at Jabot, and I could tell she was hurt. That’s nothing new. But, I didn’t know she was disappointed, and I certainly didn’t know she wondered if, on some level I would rather work for Jabot than spend any time with her! Nothing could be further from the truth! Then there’s this whole thing about me wanting to get rid of her. What is she thinking? How could she think that?!”
Tears burned her eyes and slowly, silently slid down her cheeks.
“I don’t get why she’s so hard on herself about the way she acts sometimes. She’s human, she makes mistakes. The part about Victor and I disowning her is completely unbelievable! She’s done nothing wrong, nothing that we’d disown her for!”Nikki’s heart broke a little more as she pondered what her daughter must think of her for her to think such a thing, let alone say it!
“She said she’s disappointed us more and worse than anyone ever could. What does that mean, and why would she say it? Maybe more importantly, what did she mean when she said she’s given us plenty of reasons to disown her over the years? Why did she refuse to tell me what was going on? One of the last things she said to me was that she was through playing games and that she didn’t want to be psychoanalyzed.” Nikki’s frustration grew with every question that cropped up.
Vicki sat in her office, puzzled, as she considered what had just happened, Victoria thought to herself aloud, “Something tells me my night just got a lot more interesting!” “Gary thinks he’s got the upper hand. He’s got another thing coming!“ Victoria couldn’t help but smile to herself, as she thought of how she would ultimately not only get the upper hand on her tormentor, but how she would actually rid herself of any threat he posed, and regain control of her life.
Back at the ranch, Nikki was still trying to figure out what was going on with her daughter. “Then, I guess it was the night she went to the office and found that letter about Gary Dawson being paroled, she called me really upset, but trying to downplay it. When I finally got there, she was pacing, chalk pale and trembling. At the time, I couldn’t understand what had happened to get her so upset, but, now that I know about Dawson’s parole, it makes sense. At least that one thing makes sense, ‘cause God knows nothing else about this whole mess does!”
“She was pretty disoriented, she at first, she didn’t know what, or who I was talking about when I asked her if whatever was going on had to do with Jeff.” Just thinking of the man who had threatened her daughter made Nikki see red! ‘If he does anything, anything to Victoria, he’ll regret it! He’ll rue the day he ever hurt my daughter!’
“Her hands were ice cold. It was pretty obvious she was terrified, all she wanted to do was go home. But then, when we got there, she wouldn’t tell me anything, she went straight to bed! ” Nikki wished with everything in her that she could figure out what was going on, before it was too late! “She tried to sneak out to the parole hearing the next morning. She even fought tooth and nail to keep us from finding out about it. But, why, why was she so determined to keep that from us?! We had to fight her tooth and nail to get her to tell us about it! It doesn’t make any sense!” Nikki’s eyes were blazing with an unconcealed rage, a rage not so much directed at her daughter, as at her inability to get to the bottom of whatever was going on.
“She tried so hard to make us think she’s fine. What is she so afraid of? What does she think will happen if she lets us in? She pulled out all the stops to try and ensure we didn’t go with her to that parole hearing! Why does she think she can do everything on her own, why won’t she accept any help?” Shaking her head a little sadly, but unable to stop the slow smile that spread across her lips, she let out a short chuckle before saying, “Because, she’s just like her father, strong and proud. That’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him.” She slowly sobered, before continuing. “She worked so hard to make us think she was fine, that she could handle the situation. But, then, when we got there and she finally testified against him, she sounded terrified! I couldn’t believe what I heard, I still can’t! What she said scared me to death, it still does, especially the part about wishing he’d done her in! What is wrong with her? Has she completely lost her mind?!” Nikki began to tremble slightly and felt sick to her stomach when she recalled the desolation, the heartbreak in her daughter’s voice, as she struggled to try and remain calm during the ordeal.
“Dawson was no worse for wear though. I still can’t believe the judge believed his testimony! What, was she born yesterday? Any idiot could tell he was lying through his teeth!” Nikki rasped, getting up from the couch and beginning to pace the living room.
“I’ve never ever seen Victoria lose it like that, she’s always been able to keep her calm when she needed to. Not that I blame her, I wanted to tear him apart myself! Still, that isn’t like her! She threatened him, she’s never ever threatened anybody before! What is going on with her?!” Although chills slowly slipped down her spine, Nikki did her best to ignore them and remain focused on her goal.
“After that, she didn’t say a word, we didn’t hear anything from her until we got home…” Nikki’s voice trailed off, as she shook her head, heartbroken and confused. “Then, once we got home, I don’t know, it was like she snapped! It was like she couldn’t take it anymore, especially when I brought up going to work. She just about bit my head off!” Nikki exclaimed, as her voice took on a cold edge to it.
“When she said the only thing she wanted was for somebody to tell her this whole thing with Dawson is a dream, or some sick joke, that it isn’t real; it broke my heart to see her in so much pain and not be able to do anything about it!”
“Why would she get so upset when Victor tried to make the security arrangements? It’s almost like she thought, like she thinks, a pre-emptive strike is the way to go, the only way to go.“ Nikki tried her best to ignore the terrifying images that flashed through her mind. “She got really upset when we asked her about being afraid for us while she was kidnapped. It was almost like she was trying to push us away, trying to keep us from finding out about whatever’s going on with her.“ Nikki tried her best to ignore the doubts that crept into her soul.
“Then, when we asked her about her saying she wishes he’d killed her, when we asked her if that was true, I couldn’t believe it when she said it would’ve been easier, better, for everybody. She was really defensive, she wouldn’t listen when I told her that wasn’t true, no matter what I said, she wouldn’t listen.” “Why would she apologize for Dawson getting out? That wasn’t her fault at all. The judge is the one who was stupid enough to buy all of Dawson’s lies!”
“And, where does she get the idea the only way for us to be safe, to have a normal life is if she isn’t around? That’s completely ludicrous! It makes no sense? How are we supposed to do any of that with her gone? And, why did she put up such a fight when we told her that wasn’t true, that she belonged here?” Nikki swallowed hard and tried to ignore the fear surging through her.