“What do you want me to do? What do you want from me, Nikki?” ‘I know the happiest times she’s ever had were with me, but the worst times she’s ever had have been because of me too. She can’t see that, but I can. She may not remember that, she may not want to remember that; but I have to. I have to remember that she’s already been hurt far more and far worse than anybody ever should be and that I have a choice. I can either go back home and watch her life be destroyed, watch her life be torn apart because she’ll be stuck taking care of an invalid, and that’s if the operation is a success. Or, I can walk away now and give her the chance to have the kind of life she deserves, one that’s happy and care free. And I will do exactly that, no matter what I have to do, I will not let her pay for my mistakes!’
“Tell me what I want to know.” The look in Nikki’s eyes made it abundantly clear she wasn’t going anywhere until she got the answers she came for! ‘If he thinks I’m just going to run off like a good little wife he’d better think again! He’s not going to push me out of his life, he can try all he wants but it won’t happen!’
“What’s that?” Victor asked nonchalantly, trying his very best to play dumb. “This is getting us nowhere! Why doesn’t she just leave? We aren’t going to see eye to eye on this so she’s just wasting her time! She has better things to do! She’s wasting time when she could be enjoying life, when she should be. Why doesn’t she understand that? Why won’t she understand that? Why can’t she just accept it and move on?’ Victor thought to himself frustrated and defeated.
‘The same reason you can’t. You still love her,’ a little voice inside him chimed in. Scowling, he quickly forced the voice and the thoughts conjured up by it deep down inside of him.
No matter how hard he tried though, he couldn‘t stop the memories from washing over him once more. The same memories that had haunted his nights now haunted his days; memories of the two of them laughing about old times, going out for dinner, or horseback riding, or just sitting up at night talking as they’d often done before he’d moved out. ‘Before my life turned upside down and turned into a living nightmare!’ he thought to himself bitterly as he turned his back on her once more and walked towards the fireplace, leaning against the mantle.
Completely exasperated, in controlled frustration, Nikki answered, “Why are you shutting me out like this? Why are you doing it when you know it won’t work, when you know it won’t solve anything? Don’t you know by now that it won’t work? Whatever else happens nothing can tear us apart, nothing at all! Not if we don’t let it! We can get through this, if we work together, we can get through this and we’ll be stronger for it! So why are you being so stubborn, why don’t you give yourself that chance, why don’t you give me that chance? Why won’t you give us that chance?”
“It’s the best thing I can do under the circumstances,” Victor replied cryptically without meeting her steady gaze.
“Victor, what are you talking about? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! You’re making absolutely no sense at all!” Nikki replied completely unable to believe what she was hearing and bound and determined not to accept it!’Whatever I have to do to get through to him, I will! I’m not giving up on him, he can fight me forever and it won’t do him any good! I will not turn my back on him; I will not lose my husband!’
“Think about it, if I move back home, your life won’t be your own anymore. It’ll be filled with endless doctor’s appointments, check-ups and visits with specialists. Surely you can see that. Surely you can see the logic in this.” Victor replied calmly, thinking and hoping that she couldn’t possibly argue wit his logic.
“And it isn’t already? Victor, you and I both know this doesn’t have anything to do with logic.” Nikki countered wisely. ‘What do the appointments with specialists have to do with anything? He’s just grasping at straws now!’
“That’s different and you know it,” Victor replied as he thought to himself, ‘I spoke too soon!’
“Only because the appointments have nothing to do with you,” Nikki replied determined to stand her ground.
“Nikki…” Victor began, but quickly fell silent realizing she wasn’t about to give up!
“Victor, listen to me! This is crazy, this is ridiculous! Why should we be spending all our time apart when we need each other the most?” Nikki pushed on relentlessly.
“Because, it’s best for us under the circumstances,” Victor reasoned stubbornly.
“Best for who, Victor, me or you? Come on, you and I both know this is the worst thing we could be doing! What we need is each other! Not time apart, we need to know we can count on each other! It’s as simple as that!” Amazed at what she was hearing, despite how hard she’d tried to see the situation through his eyes, Nikki couldn’t help the frustration bubbling up inside her at his stubbornness and complete refusal to let her help him through what may be the single biggest fight he’d ever had to go through.
“Simple? Simple? How is any of this simple? How can any of this be simple? You’re just deluding yourself if you think that any of this can be simple! It’s not! This is complicated enough without letting our emotions get in the way!” Victor boomed as he stalked to the window and watched the snow fall lazily through a curtain of bitter tears.
Unwilling to be dismissed like she had been so many times before, Nikki stood her ground. “So, I guess I’m just supposed to smile and go along with this like a good little wife? Sorry darling, it’s not going to happen! I’m not leaving you; I’m not going to just forget everything we’ve shared, everything we’ve worked so hard for! We’ve worked so hard, waited so long to have what we do! We finally have everything we’ve ever wanted, everything we’ve ever needed and I’m damn well not going to just let it slip away! Not now, you hear me? I’m not walking away, not this time! You can yell, scream, throw things; you can do whatever you want! You can try everything you want, you can try everything you want to get me to walk away, but it won’t work! Go ahead, yell at me, scream at me, throw things, I’m not leaving until we talk this out! I’m not leaving until you see reason! I don’t care if I have to camp out on your doorstep, I will not be dismissed this way! I won’t just quietly fade into the background and leave you to deal with all this on your own! I am not going to just give up on what we have!” Fierce determination shone in her eyes as she stood in front of him, her eyes never leaving his.
Turning back around to face her, he walked over to her until they stood face to face. Taking a few moments to consider his words carefully, Victor hoped he’d finally succeed in getting through to her. “Nikki, come on, listen to reason! This isn’t what you want, it can’t possibly be!” As hard as Victor tried, he couldn’t get through to her and it was beginning to take its toll on him.
“Reason? Reason? What reason? So far, all I’ve heard is a whole lot of excuses. If you think that I’m going to let those stand in the way of our marriage, not only do you not know me at all, you’ve got another thing coming!” Nikki shot back completely fed up with his excuses.
“You’re right, this isn’t what I want. What I want is you back home, where you belong! I’m not leaving here without you, it’s that simple, I’ll sleep on the couch, camp out at your front door; whatever it takes, Victor. It’s your choice.” One look in her eyes quickly swept away any doubts Victor had about what she=d just said-she was dead serious!
Determined to stand his ground as much for Nikki’s sake as his own, Victor softly reasoned, “Nikki, why are you doing this? Why are you doing it when you’ll only get your heart broken in the end? You deserve more. You deserve to be happy.”
“And you don’t?” Nikki stubbornly countered.
“That’s not important!” Victor countered just as stubbornly.
“Oh no? It is to me! That’s the one thing that matters the most to me. I thought you’d realize that by now!” Nikki exclaimed astonished at what she was hearing.
“Nikki, what more do I have to do, what more do I have to say to get through to you?” Victor asked tiredly, defeatedly.
“Oh, I don’t know. How about giving me an explanation for running off like that? That’s something someone does after a one night stand. Is that what we’ve become; is that how you see us? Just a one night stand that’s become some sort of unfortunate inconvenience? Is that what we are to you now? Is it, Victor?” Nikki knew she was probably pushing him harder than she should, but in the end, she knew she was doing the right thing! ‘If this is what it takes to get through to him, fine! He wants to play this game, that’s fine with me! He’s about to find out just how long I can keep it up and just how good I am at it!’ Nikki vowed confidently, determinedly.
‘What? How can you ask me that?! Of course not; that’s the last thing I think of when I think of you, of us!” Victor asked shocked, defensive and deeply hurt.
“Well then, why are you doing this?What did I do? What did I do to deserve this? Tell me, ‘cause right now I can’t think of a damn thing! So, please darling, enlighten me!” Nikki couldn’t have kept the sarcasm; or the outrage out of her voice if she’d wanted to.
“Nikki…” Victor searched fruitlessly for the words to explain what seemed completely inexplicable, completely cold-hearted.
“Don’t you remember the vows we took? The things you promised me, don’t you remember any of it? Doesn’t it mean anything to you?” Nikki asked hurt and afraid of the answer. ‘If he remembered all of that, if it mattered, he wouldn’t be doing this; he wouldn’t be doing any of it.’
“Of course!” Victor’s heart went out to his wife but he remained firm in his conviction that there was nothing left to salvage. ‘If I went back to her now, I’d only do her more harm than good. I have to let her go, I have to find some way to let her go.’
“Then why are you doing this? Why? Do you even have a reason?” Nikki pressed on, convinced he wouldn’t be able to give her one.
“Nikki, please, listen to me. I never ever wanted to hurt you, that’s the last thing I ever want, the very last thing.”
“But, I can’t stand here and lie to you. I can’t give you false hope; I won’t do that to you.”
“And you think that walking out on me is any better? That it hurts any less? It doesn’t, Victor! It hurts more! It hurts much more because you didn’t even give me the chance to help you, you didn’t even let me in enough to even try!”
“Nikki, you and I both know that if I gave you false hope I’d be doing irreparable damage to our relationship. It’s better this way. It’s better for you to remember us the way we were, happy together. It’s the best thing you could do for yourself.”
“What about for you? You can’t honestly believe it’s what’s best for you,” Nikki replied, knowing full well it wasn’t.
“That doesn’t matter anymore, not at all. All that matters is you being happy and having the kind of life you deserve, the kind you’ve always wanted.” Victor tried to reason nobly.
“That’s a life with you! Don’t you get that by now?” Nikki pressed on, determined to get through to him, no matter how hard she had to work to do it.
“Nikki, you have a chance to start a new life, one that holds more opportunities than whatever miserable life I could offer you now.” Victor clung to his stubbornness and pride as if they were all he had left.
“What on earth are you talking about?” Nikki asked thoroughly confused.
“If you stayed with me, if I let things go back to the way they were, your life wouldn’t be your own anymore. It would be completely different, you’d be tied down, unable to do any of the things I know you want to do, I know the goals you have and the dreams you still want to turn into reality. None of that will happen if I’m around.” Victor softly, yet firmly reasoned.
“You’d never stop me.” Nikki stood just as firm as he was in her conviction that he’d never, ever hurt her that way.
“No, not intentionally, but by staying, by not letting you go on and live your life, I’d be holding you back. I told you once I never want to do that. If I stayed, that’s exactly what I’d be doing and we both know you don’t deserve that. You deserve more, much more than I can give you now. That’s why you have to let me go, for your own good. It’s the best thing you could do for both of us. Go on, live your life the way you want to. Live it to its fullest.” Completely at a loss as to what to do next, Victor ran his hands through his hair as he let out a quiet, tired sigh.
“The only way I want to live my life is with you! How can I make you understand that?” Nikki asked, unable to believe that, deep down, there wasn’t at least part of him that wanted exactly what she wanted-for them to be together.
Well past her breaking point, Nikki cut him off! “No, you had your turn now you’re going to listen damn it! This isn’t your decision to make! It’s ours! This isn’t just about you! What you’re doing, the decisions you’ve made, the ones you’ll make; all of it affects me too! Don’t you get that? I’m not just going to stand here and watch you slip away again! I won’t do it! I promised myself that if I ever got another chance, if we ever got another chance, I wouldn’t waste it. I’d make the most of it. That’s exactly what I’m going to do, regardless of how much you fight me on it! You can do one of two things. You can either waste all your time and your energy and split your focus trying to keep me away, which by the way won’t work. Or, you can let me in, lean on me for a change and let me help you through this. It;s your choice, Victor.”
Angry and hurt, Victor demanded, “What do you want from me? What else can I do? I’m trying to make sure you don’t get hurt in all this, for heaven’s sake!”
Nikki replied simply, confidently, “Let me worry about that.”
“Nikki, come on!”
Confident she knew what she was getting into and what she needed to do to get through it; what they needed to do to get through it, Nikki replied, “Victor, I’m a big girl. Besides, if I were worried about you hurting me I would never have married you. I want you to come back home and I’m going to your next doctor’s appointment so I can get some questions answered and get a better idea of what we’re dealing with, what we’re going to be dealing with.”
His frustration past the point of no return, Victor replied, “Nikki, you don’t have to do this. You don‘t have to get involved; I don’t want you getting involved. I don’t want you getting hurt!”
“I’m already involved. And I’d rather take a chance on getting hurt now than lose you altogether, forever. I’d rather fight for you, I know I may not win, but damn it I have to try! I have to at least try, because I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t.” Nikki hoped that, with those few heartfelt words, she’d finally gotten through to him.
“When’s your next appointment?” she asked, as if it were the most logical question in the world.
“Nikki, don’t!” Victor warned softly.
“Don’t what? Don’t fight me on this, Victor, you won’t win! Now, tell me when your next appointment is so I can make sure to be there.” Nikki stood there, unwilling to back down from this fight.
“It’s not necessary. I’ll go to the appointment, after it’s done I’ll call you and tell you what she said,” Victor tried to reason with her.
“Not good enough. I’m going, Victor, it’s not up for discussion!” Nikki saw right through the attempt to keep her uninvolved in what he considered to be his problem.
“Nikki, you’re far better off just staying out of this whole mess!” Victor wouldn’t budge.
“The hell I am! I am not staying out of this, so deal with it!” Nikki shot back just as determined as he was to stand her ground.
“What do I have to do to get you to listen to reason and let me go?”
“Simple, look me in the eye and tell me you don’t love me. Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t want me. If you can do that, if you do that, you’ll get what you want. I’ll leave and you won’t have to see or hear from me ever again.”
“I can’t. You know I can’t.”
“Let me make one thing perfectly clear. This isn’t what I want! It’s never been what I want, alright!”
“Okay, then, why are we still arguing?Why haven’t you come home? Why don’t you just come home?” Nikki asked, happier than she had ever expected to be to finally be getting somewhere with him.
“It’s not that simple. Nikki, you have to forget about me. You have to focus on doing what’s best for you. You have to move on, it’s time. You deserve to be happy, and I can’t give you that any more. I can’t make you happy, not now.”
“Why don’t you let me decide that? Let me decide what makes me happy. Victor, I asked you once, I’m going to ask you again. Look me in the eye and tell me that’s what you want, tell me you want me gone. Tell me that you don’t love me, that you don’t want me. Tell me that, if you can do that, I’ll leave.”
“You know I can’t do that.”
Satisfied, Nikki fell silent. Then, slowly, deliberately, she wound her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately, reminding him once again of just how good they were together.
He tried to pull away, tried to break the kiss, but Nikki held on tight. Then, as they broke apart a little, Victor tried to reason with her. “There’s more you need to know. There’s a lot more, I was talking to Dr. Cornwell and-”
Slowly shaking her head, Nikki whispered soothingly, “Shhh. I know everything I need to.”
“No, you don’t know everything. Nikki, listen to me, please.” Victor tried to explain, but his explanation fell on deaf ears.
As much pain as Nikki saw in his eyes, she saw something else, something much; much deeper. The passion and deep, unending love she saw shining in his eyes brought tears to her own, as she pulled him toward her for a searing kiss, one that wiped away all the uncertainty they felt.
Wordlessly, she lead him up the stairs to his bedroom. With the door closed behind them, blocking out the rest of the world, all that was left was each other and the amazing love they shared. As they stood there silently drinking in the sight of each other, their hearts pounded.
Carefully, slowly, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him softly, waiting for him to respond, wanting with everything inside her for him to respond.
He didn’t disappoint, as his arms snaked around her, molding her close and her head spun with the torrent of emotions churning in side of her and the white hot passion raging within her. It was clear from the unbridled passion she saw shining from his eyes, he wanted her just as much as she did him.
Without any hesitation, without even the shadow of regret or uncertainty, her arms banded around him silently urging him on.
He was beyond knowing what was right and wrong, beyond caring, as he gave into the need raging through him, drowning out all else but her.
The need raging inside him left him completely and blissfully unaware of anything except the woman in his arms.
As he held her close, drawing in her scent, concentrating on all that mattered at that moment-Nikki-he was reminded of exactly how much he had to lose.
The passion he felt for her, the passion he had tried his best to conceal roared up, demanding to be satisfied, demanding to be sated. He couldn’t help but smile a little as he brought his lips to hers once more. He knew from experience that, although they’d made love many, many times over the years, he’d never tire of her, never, ever get enough of her.
“What?” Nikki asked looking at him quizzically.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
Deciding she’d much rather continue her sweet seduction of him, Nikki quickly let go of the subject.
Slowly, her eyes never leaving his, her lips never straying from his, Nikki made quick work of the buttons on his sport jacket and slid it off his shoulders, letting it fall to the floor.
Next, she worked at the knot in his tie. Soon, it too joined the jacket on the floor.