“Dad doesn’t remember me, Nick, he doesn’t even recognize me! Dad doesn’t even recognize me, his own daughter!” Vicki told him, her voice breaking as, once again, the pain tearing through her, overtook her.
“Nick, please don’t patronize me. Don’t tell me everything will be okay, don’t do that, because, you and I both know what we’re up against here, we both know how this might end, so don’t sugar coat this!”
“I’m not trying to sugar coat anything, Vick, but it won’t do you or Dad any good fearing the worst, envisioning it as reality, all it’s doing is scaring you half to death!”
“I’m not fooling myself! I’m not mistaking my fears for reality, Nick, I’m being realistic!” Vicki shot out seething.
“No, you’re being pessimistic!” Nicholas tried, unsuccessfully to reason with her.
“Nick, you don’t know what’s going on, you think you do but you don’t! You don’t have a clue, so just back off!”
“Vicki, come on. Vicki, I’m sorry, come on, let me in a little, talk to me please.”He begged, hoping he’d be able to break through the barriers she’d built around herself for reasons only she knew.
“Nick, it’s okay, really, I’m fine. I just need to be by myself, please, just go,” Victoria whispered, a clear note of defeat ringing out in her voice.
Wordlessly, Nicholas wrapped his arms around her and held her tight before kissing her on the cheek and walking out the front door, closing it firmly but silently behind him.
As her legs finally gave way, Victoria collapsed on the couch and, laying down with the picture of her and her father clutched tight to her chest, cried herself to sleep.
Meanwhile at Memorial, Nikki tried her best to soothe Victor. “Victoria’s alright, she just needs time. She’ll be okay.”
With tears streaming down his cheeks and an indescribable pain tearing at his soul, Victor thought to himself ‘I wish I could believe that. She’s devastated and it’s all my fault. If I could just remember, if I could just remember who she is, I could fix this damn mess!’
“Victor, you can’t blame yourself, you’re doing the best you can.” Nikki tried to reassure him.
‘Easier said than done,’ Victor thought to himself ruefully. Scowling, he continued, ‘this is one time my best may not be good enough.’
“Victor Newman, you listen to me. You can’t give up, you can’t blame yourself either! All you can do is deal with this the best you can and let your family take care of the rest! Let us take care of everything else.” She tried to reason with him, tried to, on some level make him feel better.
As outraged tears spilled from his eyes, Victor turned away from her, letting them fall, powerless to stop the torrent of fury raging within him, and too weary to search for the strength to fight it.
“Victor, look at me,” Nikki pleaded heartbrokenly.
Saying nothing, he swallowed hard and tried to blink back the river of tears he’d give anything to stop.
“Victor, look at me,” Nikki told him a little more forcefully as she cupped his cheek in her hand and turned him around to face her.
Fighting back her own tears, she told him, her voice choked by her own bitter tears, “I know you’re worried and angry, and you have every right to be. I also know you’re frightened and that you would do anything not to be, but you have to remember one thing. This isn’t your fault; it’s not your fault that you can’t remember who Victoria is. Besides, this is only temporary, darling. It’s only temporary; you’re going to be just fine; you have to believe that, you need to hold onto that, can you do that for me, for us?”
As uncertainty shone in his eyes and more tears fell, Victor nodded weakly before Nikki kissed him softly, lingeringly, offering whatever comfort she could.
Exhausted, Victor let the thick fog of sleep wrap around him and prayed he’d fall into a dreamless sleep, yet fearful he’d be haunted by his fears even in his dreams.
Digging through her purse, trying to find a tissue, Nikki came across a picture. She smiled as she gazed at the last ultrasound picture she had of her children. “How do I do this? How do I just sit here and wait while Victor could be…while he could be…” Nikki couldn’t finish, she couldn’t bring herself to think it, let alone put it into words. The idea that she might lose the love of her life, now; at a time when they finally had everything they ever wanted, everything they’d ever dreamed of was more frightening than she could ever put into words. “Whatever happens, whatever I have to do, I will not lose you!” Nikki promised him before turning her attention to her children and, with a gentle yet strong, capable hand on her stomach, vowed, “Whatever happens, you’re not going to lose your daddy. I promise you will not lose your father; never!”
With her energy drained, Nikki returned to the cafeteria for a quick snack and took it back to Victor’s room. As she ate, she calmed down enough to return to the reading. ‘It’s the best thing I can do for Victor right now, the only thing I can do for him,’ she told herself sadly.
“Most of the sensory signals, auditory (sound), visual, somatosensory (from the skin and internal organs), pass through the thalamus on their way to other parts of the brain for processing. In addition, it plays a role in motor control. So, could damage to this part of the brain be enough to cause the paralysis?” Nikki wondered aloud wishing she had something more concrete, and that she knew exactly what was going on with her husband.
“For hospital food, this is actually isn’t too bad.” Nikki murmured as she continued scanning the research in front of her. Smirking, she chuckled and said, “Hey, I’m eating, I’m eating, alright? You’re getting it just as fast as I can get it in me!”
In a slightly better mood, Nikki continued. “The neocortex is where the brain gets its power to develop language, abstract thought and imagination.-Damage to it might account for the speech problems. So, was that the area of the brain that was damaged, causing the speech problems or was it Broca’s area?
“The amygdala is part of the telencephalon and is located in the temporal lobe. It’s involved in memory, emotion and fear, essentially acting as the brain’s warning centre. The body’s fight-or-flight response stems from the amygdale. It’s just under the surface of the front, medial portion of the temporal lobe where it causes the bulge on the surface referred to as the uncus. This is part of the limbic system. And this isn’t helping at all! It’s not helping me one bit!”
“The midbrain or mesencephalon-This part of the brain includes the tectum and tegmentum; which are involved in functions like vision, hearing, eye movement, and body movement.-So could that part of the brain have been damaged, causing the paralysis?”Nikki wondered aloud before continuing. “The motor cortex is part of the cerebral cortex which sends impulses to motor neurons; involved in coordinating movement and is found in the frontal lobe.”
“The primary motor cortex is a region in the brain for initiation of voluntary movement.-Could that have been damaged causing the paralysis?-The putamen is another part of the limbic system and is responsible for familiar motor skills.-So maybe that’s what was damaged causing the paralysis?”
With a frustrated shake of her head, Nikki read on. “The tegmentum controls motor function and regulates other autonomic functions.
The basal ganglia is involved in movement control. –Could damage to that part of the brain cause paralysis?” Nikki wondered before continuing.
The forebrain-the cerebrum contains the information that essentially makes us who we are: our intelligence, memory, personality, speech, and ability to feel and move.-So, maybe that part of the brain was damaged causing the paralysis and memory loss. Particular areas of the cerebrum are in charge of processing these different kinds of information. …”
The hidbrain-The cerebellum, also referred to as “the little brain because it looks like a small version of the cerebrum—is responsible for balance, movement and coordination.”
As her eyelids began to droop, Nikki closed the binder and curled up for the night on the couch not far from Victor’s bedside.
Blissfully unaware of the media frenzy that was about to break, Nikki slept soundly as the bright morning sun cast its warm glow in the hospital room.
At Gina’s, Bradley and Jack sat at the bar, completely ignoring one another’s presence when the football game they’d been watching was interrupted.
“This just in, Victor Newman, multibillionaire and business mogul was rushed to Memorial hospital and is in critical condition after having suffered a heart attack followed by a stroke. It’s not yet clear what brought either the heart attack or stroke on. Speculation has already begun as to whether Nicholas and Victoria Newman, Newman’s two oldest children are ready to assume control of their father’s vast empire if in fact their father does succumb to his injuries, which sources say are severe and life threatening. WBC tv will continue to update you as more information becomes available. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.”
“Oh my God, Nikki must be going through hell!” Jack exclaimed from his barstool not far from where Brad sat at the bar.
Gulping down the last sip of his brandy, Brad jumped out of his seat and quickly headed out of the restaurant.
“Bradley!” Jack called after him grabbing him by the arm.
“What?” Brad rasped as he glared at Jack, his eyes ice-cold, as was his voice.
“Don’t you go down there stirring up trouble,” Jack warned wisely.
“What are you blabbing about now? Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t head over there, Nikki needs me.” Bradley barked incensed.
“For starters, you have no place being there, you don’t belong there, Bradley.” Jack told him, his tone of voice making it clear that fact should be obvious.
“The hell I don’t! Nikki needs me; she needs a friend right now!”
“She needs you like she needs a root canal without anaesthetic!” Jack told him quickly becoming exasperated. “Listen golden boy, you go there right now and you’ll only be stirring up trouble, which is exactly what Nikki doesn’t need!”
“What are you talking about?” Brad barked, his eyes burning into Jack’s.
“Think about it for a second, will you? Her entire family is there with her, or at least Victoria and Nicholas are. You really think barging in there will earn you any brownie points with anybody in that family, especially Nikki? Think again!”
“I’m not going to just stand here and do nothing!” Brad exclaimed pulling out his cell phone.
“Who are you calling?” Jack asked beginning to get a bad feeling.
“Who do you think? I’m calling Nikki, genius.” Bradley rasped as he waited for Nikki to answer.
“Hello,” Nikki answered wearily.
“Hi Nikki, it’s me Brad.”
“What the hell are you doing calling me? What do you want? You’ve got a hell of a lot of nerve, you know that?” Nikki exclaimed fuming, the adrenaline now coursing through her jolting her awake and revving her for the battle that was to come.
“I heard about Victor, how are you holding up?”
“I’m fine; I have my family’s support, that’s all I need.” Nikki bit out making it crystal clear his presence, even by phone, was not only unwarranted, but completely unwanted!
“Nikki, come on, tell me the truth, this has to be rough on you. I wish you’d let me help you somehow.”
“Rough? Rough? You think this is rough on me? You don’t have clue, you really don’t! You are the last, the absolute last person who could ever help me, so don’t even try.”
“Why not, why won’t you let me do what I can to try and help you?” Brad asked confused and hurt.
“You’ve got so much nerve it’s unbelievable, you’re the reason my husband’s here in the first place! What makes you think you can do anything to help me? What makes you think I’d even let you try after the stunt you pulled?”
“Nikki what are you talking about I-”
“Don’t play innocent with me, don’t you dare play innocent with me Bradley. I know about your little visit.”
“What visit?” Brad asked, continuing to play dumb.
“The visit you paid my husband the night he had his heart attack, you didn’t think I’d find out did you? Did you?” Nikki all but screamed accusingly.
“Nikki, please let me explain.”
“Save it, just save it. Do yourself a favour, Bradley; don’t let me catch you anywhere near my family, because if I do, you’ll regret it, I guarantee you’ll regret it!” With that, Nikki slammed her phone shut and, just barely resisting the urge to hurl it against the wall, shoved it back in her bag.
As he watched his granddaughter play in his living room, John couldn’t help but worry about how Victor’s situation was affecting her. ‘I just hope he’ll be alright, God knows Abby’s been through enough. She doesn’t need any more heartache.’
He was so lost in his thoughts he almost didn’t hear the doorbell ring. Still preoccupied, he rose to answer the door. “Victoria, come in.”
“Thank you Mr. Abbott.”
“Victoria!” Abby squealed, delighted to see her sister.
“Hi, sweetie pie,” Vicki said wrapping her arms around her and holding her tight.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to talk to your grandpa and then I thought we could spend some time together.”
“Doing what?” Abby asked excited and curious.
“I don’t know; we’ll talk about that later, okay? Right now I really need to talk to Grandpa.”
“Okay, Grandpa, can I get a snack?” Abby asked completely oblivious to the tension that hung in the room.
“Sure, go and ask Mrs. Martinez to make you something. I’ll be there in a minute.”
“Okay,” Abby replied before scampering off in search of her snack.
Following John into the living room, Victoria let out an exhausted sigh and sat on the couch across from him.
“Can I get you anything?”
“No thank you, I just ate a little something before coming here. I want to thank you for taking care of Abby, for all your support, it really means a lot to me and my family, and especially for taking care of Abby.”
“You’re welcome; I want to do anything I can to help, especially for Abby’s sake, after all, she is my granddaughter.”
“Thank you. The doctors still don’t know what’s going on with my father or how the stroke affected him, they don’t even know if…” Victoria’s voice trailed off, unable to let her mind venture to that dark place, to even consider the idea that she’d lose her father.
“Victoria, I’m so sorry, I wish there was something I could do. Your father’s a strong man. He’ll get through this.”John offered what little encouragement he could.
“I know and I keep telling myself that but…”
“You can’t help the doubts, can you?” John asked wisely.
“No.” Victoria answered her voice the barest whisper.
“No, no!” Abby exclaimed; her eyes wide with fear as tears ran down her cheeks.
“Daddy’s dead, isn’t he? He’s dead.”
“No, sweetheart, Daddy’s okay, he’s alright!” Victoria tried her best to calm her sister down.
“Then why can’t I see him, why won’t you let me see him? Why won’t you tell me what’s going on?” Abby persisted, unwilling to be kept in the dark any longer.
“We don’t know what’s going on, sweetheart, the doctors have done a lot of tests but they’re still not sure what’s going on.”
“Why can’t I see him? He’s my daddy too!”
“Of course, of course he is. You can see him when he gets stronger, I promise. Listen, Daddy needs all of us to be strong for him; he needs all of us to be strong for him and think good thoughts. Can you do that for him?” Victoria asked, her heart breaking for her little sister who had already been through so much.
“I’ll try.” Abby whispered, still heartbroken and letting her tears flow freely.
“That’s all I can ask for.” Victoria replied as she wrapped her arms around her and held tight for a few moments, wishing she could somehow shield her from all the chaos that surrounded her.
Trying desperately to distract Abby from the nightmare that had befallen the entire family, Victoria suggested, “Hey, how about we go out for some ice cream? How does that sound?”
Abby just shrugged and asked, “Then can we go see Daddy?”
“I talked to Mommy and she wants us to wait until he’s stronger, but we can bring Mommy some ice cream, that would really make her happy, especially since she hasn’t seen you in awhile.” Victoria told her, hoping she’d understand and wouldn’t argue.
“Okay.” Abby replied before walking to the entrance to get her coat.
“Ready to go?”
Abby silently nodded and said “Bye Grandpa.”
“By sweetheart, see you later.”
“Thank you again.” Victoria told him before turning to leave.
“If there’s anything I can do, just let me know.” John said as he took in the fatigue scrawled on Victoria’s face.
“I will; thank you.” Victoria told him wearily before leaving.
With Nicholas having headed home after checking in at the office, Gary was free to walk right into Crimson Lights to find out what he could about what was going on with Victoria and her family.
“Where is she?” He snapped as he sat at a table waiting impatiently. “She’s jerked me around long enough!”
“Hi, can I get a large black coffee.” A man with dark brown hair, brown eyes and dressed in a business suit complete with a tie said.
“Here you go.” Cody replied.
“Thanks,” Jeff replied, putting on his most charming smile. “I’m looking for Victoria Newman; you haven’t seen her by any chance, have you?”
“No sorry, I haven’t seen her in quite awhile.” Cody replied becoming very suspicious and studying the man in front of him very carefully, trying to memorize as much as he could about the stranger who, for reasons that escaped him was intent on finding out where Victoria was.
“Vicki’s certainly popular.”
“You know Victoria Newman?” Jeff asked surprised.
“Yeah I know her very well. You?”
“A little,” Jeff answered cryptically, suspicious.
“You’re looking for her too.”
“Yeah, we have a few things to settle.”
“Same here. We’ve got a score to settle. She owes me.” The chill that rang out in his voice would’ve chilled anyone to his soul; anyone but Gary.
“Oh?” Gary asked as he thought to himself, ‘So she made another enemy. Interesting; very interesting.’ “She crossed you too, huh?”
“Yeah, she’ll pay for it too!”Jeff declared before asking, “What’s it to you?”
“Let’s just say she’s not my favourite person either!”
“I get the feeling that’s an understatement for both of us.”
“Yeah, but understatements still get the point across, sometimes better than laying it all out on the table.” Gary said cryptically, giving away nothing of his plans.
“You’re right. The little bitch is going to pay for what she did to me. She’ll pay dearly. One way or another I get what I want. Nobody does what she did and gets away with it; no one. She tried to make a fool of me thinking she’d get away with it! She’s wrong! She’s going to find out just how wrong she is, no matter what I have to do to make it happen! No matter what I have to do-even if it has to get messy, I’ll get what I want.”
“Messy?” Gary asked, thinking to himself, ‘It sounds like Victoria got herself into one hell of a mess! What does this guy have planned for her? And how can I get him to tell me about it?’
“She really got on your bad side, didn’t she? Come on, man, you don’t have to worry, you already know I like her just about as much as you do. Come on, you can trust me. What are you going to do to her? What have you got cooked up for her to teach her a lesson?”
Jeff looked him up and down and studied him intently, obviously assessing whether or not he was trustworthy. “Not here, let’s go outside.” He said as he left the table with Gary following close behind.
Cody had been watching them intently, not even taking his eyes off them for a moment, from his spot behind the bar. As he finished with his last customer, he picked up the phone and called Nick.
“Hi, Nick, it’s Cody. I know it’s probably a bad time, but we’ve got a problem here. We’ve got a big-time problem.”
“What is it Cody? My Dad’s-”
“I know, but Jeff and Gary are here.”
“What? What are those two slimy bastards doing there?” Nick rasped incensed.
“I don’t know. But I don’t like it, not one bit. They’re out on the patio right now. I’ve been watching them since they struck up their conversation. I don’t like what I’m seeing Nick, not one bit.”
“I’ll be right there. Don’t take your eyes off them, not even for a moment!” Nick ordered as he hung up and bolted out the door.
Peeling out of his driveway, he swore “Neither of you two bastards knows who you’re dealing with, but when I’m finished with you will, you’ll never forget! You’ll rue the day you ever crossed me or my sister!”
“So, come on, what have you got planned for the little-”
“I have a few connections. That and I called in a favour. I’ve got some hardware that I haven’t used in awhile, but as it turns out it’ll come in handy.”
“Hardware?” Gary asked playing dumb.
“Yeah, a nice little piece, easy to use and small enough that she won’t know it’s there until it’s too late.”
Unbeknownst to either of them, Cody had been listening just inside the patio doors. Playing it cool and acting like he hadn’t heard anything, he walked out and, as if they were any other customers asked, “More coffee, guys?”
Having stopped their conversation when they got a glimpse of him heading outside toward them, Gary smiled and shook his head while Jeff said, “Sure that would be great, thanks.”
“Anything else I can get for you?” Cody asked forcing a friendly note into his voice as he thought to himself, ‘I hope Nick gets here soon! We need to stop these guys before it’s too late!’
“No thanks.” Jeff replied while Gary just shook his head and watched Cody walk back inside.
“Listen, I’ve got to go. See you around.” Jeff said shaking Gary’s hand with Cody watching very, very closely from inside.
“Same here. See you around and good luck with your project.” Gary told him as they went their separate ways.
As Jeff got into his car and peeled out of the parking lot, he rasped “You can run, Victoria, but you can’t hide! I’ll find you and when I do, you’ll pay; you’ll pay dearly!”
As he drove down the main road leading away from the coffee house, Gary thought to himself, his eyes gleaming with a twisted, sick glee and a demented smirk twisting his lips, ‘She’s made another enemy, this will be easier than I thought. And who knows, it may turn out to be much, much more fun than I imagined.
Meanwhile, at Memorial Victoria paced the tiny waiting room, frustration and uncertainty quickly getting the best of her. “I don’t know how much more I can take. Between what’s going on with Dad, what’s happening with Gary and Jeff, I’m going crazy.”