“I need to know, what can I do to help Nikki, what can I do to protect and reassure her?”
“You’re already doing it,” Dr. Thompson replied with an understanding and reassuring smile.
“I wish I could get her to lighten up on herself, she’s been driving herself crazy with all the research she’s been doing, gathering all the statistics and finding out all she can about this.” Victor let out a frustrated, heartbroken sigh and ran his fingers through his hair as he rose to pace the office.
“Victor, she’s in a position where she feels trapped and powerless. Doing all this research and finding out all she can about this birth defect your daughter has gives her some sense of power, of control. She needs that more than she can put into words right now. But, she needs you even more. Don’t forget that.”
“I won’t, thank you, Dr. Thompson,” Victor replied tiredly before shaking her hand and leaving the office.
Victor found Nikki sitting on the couch in the waiting room, to see her looking so withdrawn and distraught broke his heart. “Nikki,” he whispered when he’d stopped in front of her.
Nikki slowly looked up at him, tears shining in her eyes, slipping silently, quickly down her cheeks.
“Come on, let’s get out of here. I’ll take you to lunch,” Victor whispered as he wrapped his arms around her and held her tight before walking out to the car with his arm wrapped tightly, protectively around her.
As rain pounded the ground and wind whipped through the trees, ripping leaves from branches and strewing them on the ground, Nikki and Victor sat across from each other at a small table in the corner of Gina’s.
“We’ve been talking about the children, business, and my pregnancy. We’ve been talking about everything except what really matters.”
“Which is?” Victor asked trying to evade what he knew would be an excruciating conversation to have for both of them.
“What’s going on with you, why you’re running from me, why you’re running from what’s going on with your health and why you won’t let anybody help you with any of this.” Nikki knew she was being a little harsh on some level but couldn’t help it. ‘I’m going to get him to listen to me and let me help him. No matter what I have to do to make that happen; I will not let him shut me out like this!’
“Nikki, why are you doing this? Why are you doing this when you and I both know it’s only going to end up hurting you in the end?” Victor asked softly, heartbroken to see her looking so lost and alone, so depressed.
“And you leaving me without so much as a word doesn’t hurt me, Victor? That’s perfectly fine?” Nikki asked accusingly.
“No, I didn’t say that, that’s not what I meant. This is the last thing I want; I never meant to hurt you. Don’t you understand, I never meant to hurt you, I never wanted this; not any of it!”
The heartbreak in his voice nearly broke her, slowly, somewhat hesitantly; she took his hand in her own and said, “Then let me in. Let me help you.”
“I can’t,” Victor’s voice was so small, so filled with regret that, as much as it broke her heart, it gave her the strength that she needed to force the issue.
For her husband’s own good, as well as her own, Nikki knew she had to keep trying to get through to him, to break down the walls he had built around himself, walls he was continuing to build around himself despite her trying so hard to show him there was a better way to deal with the situation he was in.
“Come on, let’s go home.”
Victor was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he almost didn’t hear her. Slowly, sadly, he rose from his chair and they left the restaurant.
It had finally stopped raining and the sun was just starting to peek through the clouds. As they drove home in silence, Nikki looked out her car window and thought to herself, ‘There has to be something I can do to get through to him, but what? What can I do to get through to him? He’s shutting me out, he’s shutting me out more and more every day!’
As they pulled into the driveway, Nikki thought of a surefire way to get Victor to listen to reason; the one thing he couldn’t possibly resist.
Victor however knew exactly what she was up to. ‘She thinks it’s that simple, I spend a few hours here and everything just fades into the background. I wish it were that simple; I wish I could forget about all this, even if it’s only for a few hours.’
After walking her to the door, Victor bid her good-night and turned to leave.
Victor turned around, wondering what she had to say.
“Come in for awhile, I’ll make some coffee.”
“It’s late, I need to go.” Without another word, Victor turned his back on her and started walking back to his car.
Not wanting to push, she let him go.
Then, hurrying to catch up with him, Nikki prayed she was doing the right thing. She grabbed his shoulder, and when he turned around, fully expecting her to say something she kissed him softly, sweetly before whispering, “Goodnight.” Without a word, she walked back into the house and closed the door behind her.
It took all the willpower Victor had not to follow her inside. ‘She’ll never know how much I wanted to just follow her inside and forget everything for one night. She’ll never know how much I wanted that, how easy it would’ve been, or how much it would’ve hurt if I had.’
Weary and angry, bitter tears slipped silently down Nikki’s cheeks as she leaned against the door and wondered aloud, “How much more of this is he going to put us through? How much more is he going to put himself through? This is killing both of us, so why doesn’t he stop? What is he trying to prove?”
Victor stood where he had been since he and Nikki had kissed goodnight, unable and unwilling to move, unwilling to leave when everything in him told him this was where he wanted to be.
Shaking his head and reminding himself of the consequences one single misstep could have for his family, and more importantly for his wife, Victor forced himself to head back to his car and to the penthouse. His footsteps shuffled along the driveway, his legs lead weights, much like his heart.
When he got home, he found Douglas sitting on the couch reading. “I didn’t think you’d still be up.”
“I wanted to discuss something with you.”
“This whole business of you not telling Nikki and living here instead of at the ranch, where you belong! Victor, it’s ridiculous! You’re putting yourself and your family through much, much more pain than you need to! Things would be so much better, so much easier if you just told them about what’s going on! Don’t hide from them, there’s no reason to.”
“I AM NOT HIDING FROM ANYBODY, YOU GOT THAT? Let me tell you something, I am doing what I think is best for my family, and I will not have you or anybody else dictating to me what I should or shouldn’t be doing, you got that? I will decide when and if my family is told what’s going on, nobody else, got it?”
“Suit yourself, Victor. But you’re making a terrible mistake.”
Without replying, Victor stormed upstairs to bed.
With all the lights off and the silence of the city sleeping around him Victor tossed and turned, unable to sleep.
Grumbling, he threw off the covers and went downstairs to work. Strangely enough, he was finally able to find some solace, some comfort in the mundane routine. As he looked over contracts and spreadsheets, read over proposals and reports, he felt a calming, comforting sense of competence, one he hadn’t felt in a long time. ‘I always was better with facts and figures, with financial statements and contracts than I was with anything else; better than I was with what really matters, what really mattered,’ he thought to himself ruefully, bitterly as he began to work well into the night.
The next day, as the sun peeked through clouds, Victor slowly, groggily got out of bed and dressed. With little more than a cup of coffee for breakfast, he headed to work.
There was little traffic, which was good, since he was in no mood to deal with such trivial and annoying things. ‘I need to stay focused on my goal here. Nikki and the children don’t need me; not any-more. I’d only be a burden to them and they don’t deserve that. Leaving was the best thing I could’ve done for all of us.’
After returning a few messages and going to two meetings he had scheduled that morning, Victor found his attention waning and his mind wandering. Shaking back to reality, he chastised himself. ‘Why am I doing this? Spending my days and nights dreaming of Nikki, of what we had won’t help anybody! It won’t do a damn bit of good!’
Settling down a bit, he worked with a fury seldom seen by anyone. ‘At least when I’m working, I don’t have to think about how this is killing me, not to mention what it must be doing to the rest of the family.‘ Somewhat calmer, he worked until after everyone else had gone home and his eyes started to burn from hours of reading fine print.
Finally, he grabbed his coat and headed home.
The next day, as the sun peeked through clouds, Victor slowly, groggily got out of bed and dressed. With little more than a cup of coffee for breakfast, he headed to work. There was little traffic, which was good, since he was in no mood to deal with such trivial and annoying things. ‘I need to stay focused on my goal here. Nikki and the children don’t need me; not any-more. I’d only be a burden to them and they don’t deserve that. Leaving was the best thing I could’ve done for all of us.’
The sun had long since set and there was a bitter chill in the air as he pulled his coat close to him. Pulling the collar up and holding it tightly closed, he walked quickly to his car. Getting in, he slammed the door and started the engine. He let out a soft sigh as the engine roared to life and he pulled out of the parking lot.
Thankfully, his was the only car on the road the whole way home, so he got home fairly quickly.
When he walked into the penthouse, Victor thought to himself, ‘He’s not here, good, the last thing I need is to get into another argument with Douglas. He’s right, of course, but I can’t take the chance of hurting Nikki again; it’s not an option, not now.’
Uninterested in making himself dinner, or anything else for that matter, he sat down to work.
Meanwhile, at the ranch, Nikki sat in the solarium looking at her wedding album, which had become a bittersweet reminder of the life they’d once had, the life she was determined they’d have again.
“Mom?” Vicki said for the third time as she approached the bench Nikki was sitting on.
“What? Oh, Victoria, I didn’t hear you come in,” Nikki said distractedly, her voice small and sad as she turned her head away and wiped away tears.
“If this is a bad time, I can let you be,” Vicki said tenderly.
“No, no, come. Come sit with me,” Nikki said motioning toward her and trying to muster up a smile.
Sitting beside her mom, Vicki began carefully. “You told me to keep an eye on Dad and tell you if I notice anything strange. I’ve been watching him very closely and, I don’t like what I’m seeing! I don’t like it at all!”
“Why, what is it? What’s going on?”
“Well, frankly, Dad’s a mess. He stays there the entire day, works until all hours of the night and he doesn’t leave his office except for meetings.”
“This is classic Victor Newman! He’s always been good at shutting out the rest of the world so he doesn’t have to deal with what’s really bothering him! I’m sick and tired of it!”
Wide eyed, Vicki swallowed, hard and decided it was probably better not to go on with her report.
“Victoria, what aren’t you telling me here? What are you hiding?” Nikki asked suspicious after having seen the expression on her face when she’d told Victoria precisely what she thought of Victor’s behaviour.
“Nothing,” Vicki replied all too quickly.
“Victoria.” Nikki’s voice held a clear note of warning.
“I don’t have any proof, it might be better to wait until I do.”
“Spill it, Victoria.”
“I…I don’t think Dad’s eating, at least not much.”
“What? What is he doing? What’s he thinking?” Nikki asked angrily.
“I don’t really know, I don’t think he’s sleeping much either. He’s had dark circles under his eyes whenever I’ve seen him and he looks like he’s lost a lot of weight.”
Fed up, Nikki exclaimed angrily, “Damn it, Victor!”
Turning her attention back to Vicki, Nikki asked frustrated, “Why is he doing this, why is he doing this when he know what it’s going to do to him? Why is he doing this when he knows what it’s doing to me? Why won’t he let me in?”
“I wish I knew,” Vicki replied honestly.
“Thanks for letting me know,” Nikki said over her shoulder as she headed out the door.
“Mom, where are you going?”
“I’ll explain later. I don’t have any time to waste.”