Now&Forever: Wandering Hearts
On her break at the hospital, Casey phoned Victor to check on him. “How are you doing, really? Do you need anything? And, have you told Nikki anything yet?”
“No, and I won’t until I’m good and ready!” Victor replied curtly, defensively before hanging up on her.
“Damn it Victor, enough with the macho garbage!” Casey said to herself as she hung up and vowed to pay him a visit and talk some sense into him as soon as her shift was over.
“What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at the hospital?”
“My shift is over,” Casey replied, her tone clipped.
“What are you giving me that look for? Why are you here?” Victor asked abrasively.
“You really have no clue? Come on Victor, you know damn well why I’m here! I’m not just looking out for my sister, I’m trying to look out for you too! Believe it or not, I care about you too, not just Nikki!” Casey replied completely exasperated and well out of patience with her brother-in-law.
“I know that, Casey, I know that. That’s not the issue, no matter how it may seem or how I may act,” Victor replied, his voice soft and holding more than a note of regret.
Seeing past the bravado he was so desperately trying to hold on to, Casey whispered softly, “I know.” More firmly, she went on, “I also know that, no matter how hard you’re trying, no matter how hard you try, you can’t help being afraid.”
With a wry smile and a self-deprecating tone, Victor replied, “I’m that transparent?”
“No, I just know you, Victor,” Casey said, smiling softly.
Unable to help returning her smile, Victor replied, “Maybe too well.”
Shrugging her shoulders, with a soft, sad smile, Casey replied, “Maybe.”
A little more at ease and less defensive, Victor said softly, “I’m glad you’re here. I need you to take care of Nikki for me.”
In shock, Casey’s jaw dropped and she asked, “What? What are you talking about?”
“I need you to promise me you’ll look out for her, should something happen to me. Please, Casey, I need to know some one will be there for Nikki, to help her through all of this.” The fear and desperation Victor tried so hard to hide nearly broke Casey’s heart.
“Victor, I’m not giving up, neither should you!” Casey exclaimed forcefully.
After a few moments’ consideration, Victor replied honestly, “I’m trying not to, but it’s not easy.”
Softly, Casey replied, “I know. I know it isn’t.”
In the meantime, Victoria paced in her office trying very hard to figure out what Jeff’s next move would be when Nikki walked in.
“Mom, hey, what are you doing here?” Vicki asked surprised to see her.
“I’m here for an update on things. Any more calls or cryptic notes?”
Relieved, Vicki replied, “No.”
Nodding somewhat contentedly, Nikki replied pointedly, “Good maybe he got the message and he’ll leave you alone!”
“Mom please, don’t go after him. It’s my problem, I’ll handle it!” Victoria pleaded almost desperately.
“Victoria, why are you pushing this so hard? Why are you being so adamant?”
“Because, this guy getting revenge on me is one thing. Him getting revenge by hurting you is another, and I’m not damn well not going to just sit back and let that happen”
Confused, Nikki tried her best to reassure and calm her daughter. “What are you talking about? Victoria, nothing’s going to happen to either of us!”
“Can you guarantee that?” Vicki asked unsure and fearful.
Walking over to where Victoria stood beside her desk, Nikki firmly, determinedly replied, “Yes. I promise, this guy won’t get a chance to do anything to you! Not while I’m around!”
Frustrated, Victoria exclaimed, “Mom, I’m not worried about me! It’s you I’m worried about here!”
“Victoria, you don’t need to worry, alright?” Nikki asked, trying to calm her down.
“Promise?” Vicki asked, knowing how childish she must sound, but unable to help it. ‘I need to make sure Mom‘s going to be okay, no matter what I have to do to make that happen!’
“I promise,” Nikki whispered softly as she hugged her close and tight.
Pulling back after a few moments, Vicki turned her attention to what she considered to be more pertinent matters. “Have you seen Dad acting weird at all since your appointment.”
“What? Where did that come from?”
“Mom, just answer me, please.”
Confused, Nikki said, “Yeah, apparently he hasn’t been sleeping very well. He had a headache last night. It must’ve been pretty bad for him to take a pill.”
“What? Dad doesn’t take pills, not for anything, let alone headaches!” Vicki exclaimed another piece of this disturbing puzzle fell into place.
“If it wasn’t headache medication, what was it?”
“Wait a minute. Dad took another pill a little while ago when I was in his office with him talking about the budget for Brash&Sassy’s new ad campaign.”
Before her daughter got off track and started talking about business, Nikki asked, “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, but the pills didn’t look like they were headache medicine. They didn’t look like they had anything to do with headaches at all.”
“What? How do you know?” Nikki asked shocked, and getting very, very angry.
“The bottle looked like a bottle of prescription medication, not like anything you can get over-the-counter,” Vicki replied honestly, as doubts about whether she had indeed done the right thing by coming clean about what she knew.
With a murderous gleam in her eyes, Nikki asked, “Do you know anything else? Do you remember anything else?”
As her blood pressure began to sky-rocket, Nikki thought to herself angrily, fed up with having been given the run around, ‘Enough with the cloak and dagger garbage, Victor! You’re going to tell me what I want to know, whether you like it or not!’
Swallowing hard, Victoria replied quietly, “No, when I tried to get answers about what was going on, why he was taking pills, he stonewalled me and gave me the same excuse he gave you about the headaches.”
“Thanks,” Nikki replied before tearing out of Victoria’s office and heading straight for Victor’s.
Nikki walked right past Victor’s secretary and into his office. “How’s your headache, darling?” she asked, her voice cold and sarcastic.
“Fine, why?” Victor asked suspicious as he looked up from his files.
“I just came from Victoria’s office. She told me about the pills and the excuses you gave her when she asked you about them.”
‘What the hell was she thinking? Is she trying to cause problems for me, or what?’ Victor asked himself very unimpressed. “Nikki, it’s nothing really, like I told you I haven’t been sleeping well and…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before, Victor and I’m not buying.”
“Nikki, listen, there’s nothing to get all worked up about.”
“The hell there isn’t! I’m not stupid! Listen, when you’re ready to talk, I’ll be at home. Until then don’t bother!” With that, she turned on her heels and walked out the door!
“Nikki! Nikki! Nikki!” Victor called after her. Realizing it was too late, in so many ways, he slammed the filing cabinet shut and rose to walk to the table on the opposite wall and poured himself a large brandy.
After a long, solitary ride home, Victor sat on his livingroom couch feeling like a heel after his argument with Nikki.
“Oh you’re home? Does that mean you’re finally ready to talk, I mean really talk?” Nikki asked pointedly.
“Nikki, please, let me explain. There’s a very simple reason for all this.”
“The only thing I want to hear out of you is the truth, otherwise don=t bother saying anything!” Nikki replied disgusted, trying to hide the hurt in her eyes.
Knowing that wasn’t an option, Victor tried unsuccessfully to defuse the situation. “Nikki, please, let’s just sit down and talk about this.”
“If you think you’re going to pacify me, think again!” Nikki bit out as she stormed upstairs to bed.
After heart-brokenly watching her leave, Victor slumped onto the couch and let his tears fall, knowing he was making things worse, but powerless and too afraid to do anything else.
Knowing he couldn’t get any work done, Victor left his briefcase in the den, where he’d put it when he’d first came in and headed upstairs. “I’ll pick it up tomorrow before I leave and put in some overtime to catch up on the work. There’s no way I can get anything done tonight,” he whispered to himself .
The next day, as the sun shone brightly and the warm spring breeze brought with it intoxicating fragrances of spring flowers and fresh cut grass, Victor was in Gina’s picking up dinner. Just as he was about to leave, he saw Dr. Thorton out of the corner of his eye.
“Dr. Thorton, have the test results come in?” He asked hopefully, impatiently.
“Yes they have. I’m sorry Victor, the medication had no effect.”
“So a bypass is our only option then?” Victor asked bitterly.
“I’m afraid so,” Dr. Thorton answered frankly, sympathetically. “I have the results in my office if you’d like to discuss this further.”
“I’ll be there at eight thirty tomorrow,” Victor replied simply. Sighing broken heartedly, defeatedly, he said, “I guess it’s time to tell Nikki and the rest of the family. Thanks.”
Victor turned to leave but turned back around as Dr. Thorton called his name. He looked at her questioningly, wondering what else she had to tell him.
Dr. Thorton said nothing, only wrapped her arms around him to hug him comfortingly.
Thinking that Victor had forgotten to pick up dinner, Nikki entered the restaurant and saw the whole thing. The sight of Victor in another woman’s arms made her blood boil and her stomach lurch!
Seething, she stormed out!
Nikki’s blood was still boiling and her temper still raging when Victor finally came home.
“What’s wrong? What’s going on?” he asked oblivious that she’d not only been in Gina’s earlier but that she’d seen the exchange between himself and Dr. Thorton.
“You have the nerve to stand there and ask me that? What do you take me for, an idiot? I’m going to ask you this once, and I want the truth! Are you having an affair? Are you?!” Nikki lashed out.
“What?” Victor asked, blind-sided.
“It’s the only thing that makes sense. It explains everything, the distance between us, the mood swings, all of it!” Nikki trudged on.
“Nikki, I’m not having an affair! How could you think that?” Victor staunchly, adamantly and painfully denied it.
Unable to control the pain raging inside him, Victor walked out of the livingroom, towards the den to sit and work.
Fed up, Nikki silently, angrily stormed upstairs to bed and ended up crying herself to sleep.
Heartbroken, Victor worked furiously to try and rid himself of he rage and fear surging through him knowing Nikki had so little faith in him. ‘Then again, I can’t blame her at all! Under the circumstances I haven’t given her any reason to trust me, not really,’ Victor thought to himself fighting the urge to put his fist through the wall or just pack up all his things and never return.