Writers, I’m a bit confused or torn, I’m not sure how to describe it and am hoping you can help me, please. Should I establish myself first, or write my piece first? Thank you very much in advance. 🙂 #amwriting
From baked rats in a dungeon to billionaire business mogul, Eric Braeden has played Victor Newman, the man we love, and love to hate since 1980, and is the only actor ever to fill the role. At first glance you’d never guess this strong, self-made billion air was once a scared, lonely little boy who grew up in an orphanage and then on the mean streets of Buffalo. Scraping by just to survive, he fought for everything he had, fought just to survive and vowed that, one day he’d have enough money and power that nobody would ever hurt him again, certainly not the way his mother had when, because she was destitute after his father abandoned them, she left him in that orphanage. And, he certainly succeeded, building one of the world’s largest most successful corporations in the world, Newman Enterprises. But, as much as business is a corner stone of this character, family has always been and still is, his heart and soul; the reason he does what he does (no matter how much we’d like to shake him for it). Thank you, Eric. And we’re glad Victor stumbled into Gina’s and the Colonnade Room. 😉
Tracey Bregman, Y&R’s resident fiery redhead originated the role in 1983 and has played Lauren Fenmore off and on ever since. We’ve seen her go from a mean spiteful teenager harassing Traci in the fight for Danny Romalotti, to having an affair with Brad and giving him a heart attack, and starting a relationship with Paul. Predictably, Paul’s mother, Mary Williams was completely against it from the start; when has any woman ever been good enough for her baby boy, in Mary’s eyes? As Lauren grew up she took over her father’s chain of upscale department stores, Fenmore’s. After some time in L.A., Lauren returned home and soon found herself caught between Michael Baldwin and his unstable brother Kevin Fisher, both of whom were in love with her. Kevin was about to kill himself at one point, but Michael stopped him and eventually married Lauren and they had their own son, Fenmore. Lauren and Michael recently had to come to grips with Michael’s diagnosis of prostate cancer. They’re battling the disease together, as much as Michael and his mood-swings will allow. Here’s hoping we get to see much more of you and Christian as this important and timely story unfolds; thank you, Tracey.
Started a new writing project, an original piece I’ll be looking for readers to critique before sending it anywhere. It’s called Now&Forever: Running from the Past. It’s a multigenerational piece, which, I’m hoping will be the first in a series. It centres around 4 generations of a Hispanic family as they confront different obstacles and issues; societal, personal and interpersonal. If you’re interested in reading it once I’m further along, please let me know by leaving a comment below. Thank you in advance.
Note: Thiswriting project is totally unrelated to Y&R, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the show.
“As if that weren’t bad enough I can’t stop thinking about that night right before the judge granted Dad custody of Abby.” Still seething, as much because of the memory of that night as because of Gary and Jeff, she thought to herself furious, ‘If he didn’t want children, if he didn’t want me, he had other options. But he chose to walk out on Mom. He makes these big, wonderful speeches about how important she is to him, how important we all are to him and he had the gall to do that to her? He doesn’t know the meaning of the word love! He never did! If he had, he never would’ve walked out on her, telling her he didn’t want a baby. He should’ve thought of that before! He should’ve thought of it long, long before she ended up pregnant with me! Damn him! Damn him for putting her through that! If he didn’t want anything to do with me, he should’ve walked away before it happened! But, no, that didn’t even enter his mind. He never thought that far ahead, it wasn’t about the future for him, it was about the moment and getting what he wanted-damn the consequences-for anyone, especially my mother!’
With her heart pounding against her ribs, she stalked to the window and watched wind and rain pound the ground and slash across leaves and flowers thinking how well it matched her mood. Then, shaking from head to toe and trying to catch her breath, she thought to herself, somewhat ashamed, ‘What’s wrong with me? What the hell’s wrong with me? My father could be dying and here I am letting all this get in the way? My mom needs him, that’s all that should matter. So why can’t I get a grip? Why can’t I calm down enough to just focus on that? Why can’t I get a grip on this anger that keeps bubbling up in me and how much longer can I keep it under control? Where is this resentment coming from? I have no right to feel resentful where my father is concerned, he’s on his deathbed for crying out loud! How much longer can I keep this to myself, how much longer can I keep it from hurting someone else, someone I love?’
Trying to swallow the fear and fury that had lodged in her throat, making it all but impossible to breathe, Victoria walked over to the couch, her hands clenched into tight fists and sat down glaring off into space and trying valiantly though fruitlessly to rid herself of the bitter rage and endless questions that plagued her and had a strangle hold on her and her life.
Throwing her cell phone back in her bag and her bag on the table beside her, Nikki rose to pace Victor’s hospital room, fury rolling off her in waves.
Catching her eye, Victor motioned for her to come and sit by him.
Hearing a muffled page from out in the hall, Victor scowled.
“You want to know what the doctors have found out, what happened, am I right.” Nikki asked knowingly.
Tilting his head toward her, he rolled his eyes and thought to himself, ‘No, I want to know what the weather’s like in Arizona. Of course I want to know what the hell’s going on! What have the doctors found out? They must know something by now!’
“You always were impatient!”
At that, his scowl only deepened as he thought to himself, barely keeping his temper in check, ‘Why would that change now? What does she expect, me acting like a choir boy? It ain’t gonna happen!’
“Victor, you have to be patient. The doctors don’t know much yet, but when they do, you’ll be the first to know. For now all they know is that you had a haemorrhagic stroke, you have to be patient and give them time to do the work they need to so they know that the answers they get are the right ones!”Nikki tried her both reassure and reason with him.
‘Sure, while I’m at it, why don’t I fix healthcare and end the war in the Middle East!’ he thought to himself on a huff breath infuriated.
“I know; I know this is the hardest thing you’ve ever been through, but you can’t give up! You have to keep fighting, for all of us. We need you.”
Reminded once again of his children and just how heartbroken Victoria was when she left, Victor couldn’t help the sombre, heartbroken expression that now shrouded his face, the fury and helplessness that shone, despite his best efforts, in his eyes. ‘Why can’t I remember who she is, why is it so damn hard? If I could just remember who the hell she is, maybe I could fix this somehow, at least I could try! I have to remember, whatever it takes, I have to get my memory back! I can’t stay like this the rest of my life, a vegetable, a noose around my family’s neck; around Nikki’s neck!’
Knowing just where his mind was taking him and what that particular train of thought would do to him, Nikki tried once again to reassure him. “This isn’t over, not by a long shot! You’re going to beat this and we’ll all help you, all of us!”
As both the uncertainty plaguing him and the tears he tried so valiantly to hide, to keep at bay shone in his eyes, Victor turned away, his fists clenched by his sides.
“Darling, I wish I could take the pain away, I wish I could. If I could, I’d do it in a heartbeat.” Nikki whispered running her fingers through his hair, her eyes never leaving his.
‘Damn it! This isn’t what I want! I don’t want her blaming herself! She has no reason to blame herself! This isn’t her fault!’
“Whoa!” Nikki exclaimed as she felt a strong swift kick come on from out of the blue.
Alarmed, Victor studied her intently, his eyes never leaving her face as he waited for her to tell him what was going on.
“Apparently our daughter is not happy with the topic of conversation and she’s not shy about letting me know!”Nikki told him with a bittersweet smile.
Slack jawed; Victor stared at her unable to believe what he’d just heard.
“You heard me right, I’m pregnant.” Nikki said with a smile as she thought to herself, ‘This is just like when we first found out, only I don’t have to worry about him passing out.’ Sensing an opportunity to tease Victor and lighten the mood, and if she were really lucky get his mind off his current situation, Nikki said, “Let me guess, you just thought I was getting fat.”
Caught completely off guard, Victor scowled at her for a moment before shaking his head and laughing until his sides hurt. ‘She doesn’t really think I’ll answer that, does she? Even if I could, there’s no way I would! That’s a trick question, there’s no good way for me to answer! Whatever I tell her I end up in the doghouse!’
“Fine, don’t answer me; I’ll get the truth out of you sooner or later.” Nikki teased enjoying the light-hearted moment among all the chaos.
Restless, Victor shifted in bed desperately trying to sit up. ‘Damn it, with all the rest I’ve had, I should be able to sit up by now, or at least move more than my upper body! How am I supposed to take care of a child, help Nikki take care of one when I can’t even sit up in a damn bed?’
“Victor, listen to me. I understand that you’re frustrated and worried that you’ll be stuck like this forever; you’re frustrated and worried that you won’t be able to help me take care of our children. But you won’t! You won’t be like this forever! You won’t, I swear you won’t!” Nikki told him before kissing him passionately, lingeringly. “Now, I want you to close your eyes and rest.”
‘Close my eyes and rest? I’ve had more rest than anybody needs, I don’t need any more rest! What I need is to get to the bottom of this so I can start fixing whatever happened and get on with my life!’
“Victor, please.” Nikki begged, hoping she’d get through to him.
Grumbling, Victor did his best to get comfortable. ‘I can’t wait to be back home in my own bed, this bed is horrible! How does anybody expect me to get any rest in here?’
After several minutes of frustration Victor finally found a comfortable position and slowly drifted off to sleep.
As she sat there at his bedside watching him sleep, Nikki felt the thick fog of exhaustion begin to wrap around her and slowly made her way over to the couch. Carefully, she took off her heels and lay down, soon she was fast asleep.
The next day, as warm sunlight shone through the windows of Victor’s hospital room, Nikki slowly awoke and stretched, surprised that she’d slept through the night.
Taking in Victor’s battered and all but defeated appearance, she quietly walked over to Victor’s bedside table and reached into her purse for her cell phone and, hoping to reach him, dialled Nick’s number.
“Nicholas, honey, it’s me. I need you and your sister to come to Memorial.”
“Why, what happened? Mom, what’s wrong? What happened to Dad?”
“Nothing, nothing’s wrong. Nothing happened to your father. Sweetheart, he’s okay. He’s alright,” Nikki murmured trying to soothe and comfort her son. “I just think it would do you and your sister good, and it would do your father a lot of good, to see you and your sister.”
“Mom, come on, he doesn’t recognize us. Or at least he doesn’t recognize Vicki, which means he won’t recognize me. What would be the point? Besides, I’ve got other things to take care of.”
“Things to take care of? What things?” Nikki asked suspicious. Then thinking better of it, she replied with a shake of her head, “They can wait, Nicholas! Your father is more important! You and your sister get here; if you’re not here in an hour I’m coming to look for you. If that happens, it won’t be pretty.”
“Mom, it’s important, I need to-”
“Nicholas Newman, I can’t believe I’m hearing this! This is your father, not some stranger who’s just come in off the street!”
“Fine, we’ll be there in an hour.” Nicholas replied frustrated before slamming his cell phone shut. “Great, now I’ve got this to take care of! I don’t have time for this; I need to figure out what Gary and Jeff are up to!”
With a tired sigh, Nicholas dialled his sister’s number. “Hi, Vick, it’s me. Yeah, Dad’s okay but Mom wants us to come visit him; she thinks it’ll lift his spirits. Yeah, I’m alright, just a little worn out. Okay, I’ll meet you there. Yeah, bye.”
Running his fingers through his hair, Nick swore pungently and thought to himself, ‘I hate lying to her, but what choice do I have really? She’s got enough going on without worrying about those two are cooking up-and she’s already worrying about it as it is!’
An hour later, Victoria, Nicholas and Nikki all stood in Victor’s hospital room. Each felt a strong sense of unease at the sight in front of them; the sight of a pale, increasingly frail looking man they could scarcely believe was their husband and father.
“Thank you both for coming.”
“Mom, you’d tell us if there were something wrong, right, you’d tell us if there’d been a change, right?”Victoria asked worriedly, fearfully.
“Yes, angel, there’s been no change, your father is doing alright, he’s holding his own.”Nikki whispered tiredly, trying to offer comfort she knew her daughter desperately needed.
“Victor, Victor darling,” Nikki whispered as she slowly walked up to him and sat down.
Slowly, groggily, Victor awoke and looked up at her, clearly trying with everything in him to focus on her and what she had to say.
“Darling, Victoria and Nicholas are here to see you.”
Turning to his children, Victor gave a weary smile as he struggled to focus on them.
“Hey Dad.” Victoria spoke first, her voice trembling.
“How are you feeling?” Nicholas asked, his voice matching his sister’s.
Still unable to say anything, Victor offered a feeble smile and thought to himself ‘I wish I could do something for them. They seem so lost, so heartbroken and afraid. Why can’t I do anything but lie in this damn bed!’
“Dad, I know that you’re tired, I know that you’re tired and scared. But you have to hold on. You have to hold on and fight, you have to fight to stay with us.” Victoria told him tearfully.
“Vicki’s right. This family needs you. Besides,” Nicholas tried to smile despite the despair that was slowly enveloping him with each passing day, “Mom needs you and you’ve got two children on the way. They need you.”
Slack jawed, Victor turned towards Nikki and thought to himself, ‘Two? Twins? We’re having twins? My God…I…I never dreamed of this! Nikki should be planning for their arrival we should be planning for their arrival. Instead she’s stuck here fussing over me!’
“So you see, Dad, you have to fight, I know it’s hard and part of you probably feels like giving up, but you have to fight, for all of us, but especially Mom and the twins. They need you.” Victoria told him, trying to force a note of determination, of confidence into her voice, though it was getting harder to ignore the chilling terror that closed in around her more and more with each passing moment; terror that she’d lose the one man she’d come to count on more than any other.
As tears welled up in his eyes, Victor’s heart broke a little more.
“Promise us something. Promise us that you’ll fight to stay with us. We need you.”Victoria whispered before kissing him on the cheek and whispering “I love you Daddy,” in his ear.
With his solemn eyes never leaving hers, Victor nodded.
With tears rushing down her cheeks, Vitoria ran out of the room and into the waiting room.
“I’d better go catch up with her and make sure she’s okay. Hang in there Dad.” Nick whispered before leaning down to hug him and leaving.
Knowing just where his mind was taking him, Nikki whispered, “This isn’t your fault. You can’t blame yourself.”
‘The hell I can’t. My family is in turmoil and I can’t do a damn thing about it!’ Victor thought to himself as he let tears he’d stubbornly held inside fall.
“We will get through this. You have to believe that! You just have to trust me. I’m not going giving up on you. I’m not giving up on you so don’t you go giving up on me!”
“One day soon we’ll look back on this with our children and know we got through it together. You’ll see, one day soon we’ll have the life we’ve always wanted, a life full of laughter and love; a life we can be proud of, surrounded by everyone who cares about us. We’ll make all our dreams come true. You’ll see.”
Victor studied her sceptically and slowly, weakly reached up to cup her cheek in his hand.
With a tremulous smile, one that she hoped with everything in her hid her uncertainty and the fear tearing at her soul, Nikki kissed him softly, sweetly, her lips lingering on his before she whispered, “I love you! I love you so much, my darling.”
With a tearful smile, Victor fell back to sleep, exhausted by the emotional exchange.
As Jeff paced his apartment, his madness growing stronger and more grotesque and uncontrolled with each passing moment, he thought to himself, ‘I need to make a few phone calls. I can’t afford any screw ups.’
“Is everything ready?” Jeff asked cryptically. “You have the piece?”
“And it can’t be traced back to me?” Jeff asked, completely unwilling to take any chances.
“Yeah, it can’t be traced back to anyone. What are you so worried about? Everything’s under control. You sure you want to go through with this? Going after Victor Newman’s daughter could come back to haunt you, big time!”
“Just do what I tell you, let me worry about that little tease. She’ll get what’s coming to her and dear old daddy won’t be able to do a damn thing about it.” Jeff told him before hanging up.
“Yes, she’ll pay dearly for what she’s done to me! She’ll regret turning me down! Nobody, nobody turns me down and gets away with it! This isn’t finished! Not until I say so!
Victoria Newman will be begging for a second chance before I’m done with her! All she needs is a little encouragement. She’ll get that and more!” The predatory gleam in his eyes matched the twisted smirk spreading across his lips as his mind conjured up all kinds of twisted revenge scenarios for him to turn into reality.
Gary paced his apartment as he waited for his delivery. “Where is he? He should’ve been here an hour ago! He’s late!” Furious, he snatched up a bottle of tequila from his bar and poured himself a glass and downing it in one gulp.
He relished the burn of it as he thought about his plans for Victoria. The knock on his door brought him back to reality.
“What took you so long?” he snapped as he let the man in.
“I’m busy, alright? I’ve got other customers to take care of. Besides, I haven’t seen or heard from you in years. You’ve been clean a long, long time. So what do you want with these?” the man asked as he handed a plastic bag filled with small bottles of pills.
“That’s for me to know and you to spend your time speculating about, if you choose to. Otherwise, don’t ask any questions and forget we ever saw each other, forget you even know me, got it?” Gary told him as he gave him a small pile of hundred dollar bills.
“Fine with me. Just one more thing, what you do with those is your business. Just don’t let me hear about you using them on any women.” The man told him as he walked to the door.
“That’s right. What I do with these is my business. So back off and go back to whatever it is you’ve been doing.” Gary told him, his voice holding a sinister edge that would’ve scared most people, but for some reason had no effect on this man.
“I will as long as you don’t mess up.”
“You’re not in a position to be making threats, Mark.” Gary warned, beginning to lose patience.
“It’s not a threat. It’s a warning, a little friendly advice.”
“Whatever; just beat it.” Gary told him, slamming the door in his face.
“If these are as effective as I think they are; Victoria won’t know what hit her. She won’t know until it’s too late.” A sick, twisted smile spread across his face as demented glee shone in his eyes.
“Only one way to find out.” He said to himself as he left the apartment.
“Damn it! Why can’t I sleep! It’s after midnight and I’m still wide awake!” Victoria snapped as she threw the covers off of her, got out of bed and began to pace around her bedroom, frustration and fury pumping off of her.
“I wonder if Mom’s got anything in the medicine cabinet to help me sleep. What am I saying, of course she doesn’t! She won’t even take something for headaches! I need something though! I can’t take much more of this! Between Jeff and Gary and now everything that’s going on with Dad, I’m lucky if I can sleep in snatches during the night, and I’m really lucky if I can sleep for more than twenty minutes at a time!”
“Maybe Olivia can give me something. It shouldn’t be that hard, really, I’ll just explain the situation and get her to write me a prescription.”
Shaking her head, as if to rid herself of the idea she knew would only get her into more trouble, on so many levels, Victoria told herself firmly, chastising herself for even considering it, “No! I can’t do that! I can’t do that, it would never work, and even if by some miracle it did, Mom and Dad would eventually find out. I can’t take that chance! I have to find another way to deal with this! But how? Whatever I do, I have to do it fast; I don’t know how much more I can take, how much longer I can take this.”
At Memorial, as Victor slept soundly, Nikki’s mind took her back in time. She saw herself and Victor in many different situations, many different places over the years, but one thing remained the same even after all these years, one thing remains the same; their love for each other. She smiled sweetly as she saw them horseback riding, having picnics at the ranch and spending lazy mornings in bed with the warm sunlight streaming through the bedroom windows as the warm summer wind teased her senses and played with the curtains. Although the same sweet smile stayed on her lips, it was touched by passion, the same passion that glinted in her eyes as she sat by Victor’s bedside. It was then that Victor unexpectedly awoke. Lost in thought, Nikki didn’t realize he was awake until she felt him take her hand. “Oh! You’re up, finally.” She told him, trying her best to sound normal and not preoccupied, trying with everything in her to give away nothing of what she was thinking. “How are you? I think you’re feeling better.”
Smiling, Victor nodded and gave a small shrug of his shoulders.
“Good. You’ve been through enough; it’s about time you start feeling better.”
Seeing she was still preoccupied, but not unpleasantly so, Victor studied her intently, intensely for a few moments before figuring out what was going on.
Knowing he’d figured out precisely what was going on, Nikki looked away and tried to hide her smile.
Chuckling half to himself, Victor took her chin in his hand and turned her around to face him.
Reading his mind, and the puzzled, mischievous expression on his face, Nikki told him firmly, “Forget it, mister; we’re not going down that road, not now. We both have enough to deal with without getting into more trouble.”
‘Who says it would be trouble?’ Victor thought to himself with an unapologetic smirk. ‘Besides, this could be fun, very fun.’
“Not a chance, Victor; not a single chance, so don’t even think about it!”
‘Kill joy!’ Victor thought to himself petulantly. ‘You never had a problem with me having fun before; you never had a problem with us having fun before. In fact, most of the time, you’re the one instigating it!’
“Don’t push it Victor, we need to be careful. I’m not taking chances with your health” she told him, her tone brooking no argument although she couldn’t hide the smirk that spread across her lips, even if she’d wanted to.
‘At least I got a smile out of her. I can’t remember the last time she really smiled.’ Victor thought to himself with a smile of his own.
“Some things never change” she told him with a chuckle and a shake of her head before saying, “And yet, there are times when everything does.” At his puzzled expression she continued, almost wistfully “Who would’ve thought, all those years ago, when you were still posing as a butler and interior designer and trying to find out if you could trust me, showering me with gifts, that we’d be married now, that we’d have the incredible life we do?”
‘Looking back now, I wasted so much time doing that. Why? I wasted so much time, time I could’ve spent building a life, an incredible life with you.’ Victor thought to himself regretfully, almost bitterly.
“Mr. Victor.” Nikki murmured without bothering to cover her burst of laughter. “You couldn’t come up with a better name?” she asked shaking her head.
Scowling, Victor thought to himself ‘What do you want, I’m a business man remember?’
“Then there were all the romantic candlelit dinners we’ve had over the years. I felt like a queen from the beginning.” She smiled softly as the memories washed over her. “I felt like I was living in a dream, a fairytale. In a way, I guess it was, it is, it’s a fairytale come true.”
“How many nights did we spend blocking out the world, blocking out all the naysayers and the negativity that surrounded us? How many nights did we spend wrapped in each other’s arms, wrapped so tightly nothing could ever separate us? How many nights did we spend letting each other know exactly what we thought, how we felt without a single word. We never really needed words, did we? When it came right down to it, all we ever needed was each other. We’d spend all night, right up until the wee hours of the morning wrapped up in each other, blissfully wrapped in each other. Time flew by, hours felt like minutes. But, no matter how much time we spent together, it was never enough. It’s never been enough. We’ve never been able to get enough of each other. It’s kind of amazing, when you think about it.”
‘Amazing maybe. But it’s not surprising.’ Victor thought to himself half agreeing.
“You’re still the only one, the only man who’s ever been able to make me feel that way. The only one who can leave me breathless, speechless with just one kiss, just one touch. The passion between us, the passion that’s been there from that first night, the first kiss, first touch, it’s only grown over the years.” Leaning towards him, her voice dropping to the barest whisper, she told him, “Most people would say it’s an addiction, a sickness. But that doesn’t matter. They don’t know, they’ll never know. What we have comes once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky.” Blowing out a slow breath between her lips, Nikki reminded herself she needed to be careful and keep in mind exactly what was at stake. With a gentle hand on his cheek, she whispered, her voice hoarse and full of passion as her eyes never left his, almost burning into his, “I still can’t get enough of you.” Unlike the kisses she’d given him before, this one held no demure, no restraint, on the contrary, this one was all scorching passion. All too quickly, it ended and she pulled back leaving him scowling.
With a half-smile she continued, “Some of my favourite memories aren’t the ones of the most elaborate surprises or the most exotic trips. The ones that stand out, the ones that really make me smile are the simple ones, the ones nobody but us knows about. Like all the mornings we spent in bed, the rest of the house completely silent and ate strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast or a midnight snack.”
‘She wants me to behave and she pulls this? How much willpower does she think I’ve got?’ Victor thought to himself with a chuckle and a shake of his head. ‘Tease.’ He called her silently.
“You were so confused at first. When all your strawberries started disappearing from the fridge after I first moved in.” Nikki recalled giggling. “It didn’t take too long for you to figure out what was going on though. Once you did, you always made sure there was a bowl waiting for me. You can be very sweet when you want to be.”
“I remember the first time you took me horseback riding and how amazing it felt. It was like flying, so completely exhilarating and freeing. It still is. Let’s make a deal. As soon as you’re well and back to normal, we’ll go horseback riding.”
Victor’s eyes lit up as he smiled in agreement.
“Then there was our first Christmas together when you gave me that beautiful white fur coat and told me I looked like a Christmas angel when I tried it on.” A soft smile bloomed on her lips once again as she thought back to that night. “That was when you first started to let me in, it was the first time you told me about how you grew up and what it did to you to be in that orphanage. I know how hard that was for you and I’m glad you took the chance. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like for you, how scared and nervous you must’ve been. But, I want to thank you for doing it. It made me see you in a different light, helped me understand.”
At the unimpressed expression on Victor’s face, the furrowed brow and intense eyes, Nikki decided it was best to change the subject. “Then of course came our first New Years Eve together. It was amazing, the dress you got me, the dinner we had, everything. And when you gave me that diamond bracelet, my God, nobody had ever given me anything so beautiful before, I could hardly believe it.”
Victor smiled softly as the memory came back to him easily, as if it were yesterday. ‘Your jaw dropped. I still remember how surprised you were, you were delighted.’
“My poor piano teacher. How I tested Maestro Fauch’s patience.” Nikki said laughing. “There were so many times I wasn’t concentrating and he knew it. I remember one day when he was over giving me a lesson. It was when I’d hired Paul and Andy to find your mother. I kept messing up and he got so frustrated with me. I kept trying to convince him to give me another chance and trying not to mess up but all I could concentrate on was the phone and waiting for one of them to call.”
“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 ***** 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.”
“Wernicke’s area is responsible for language comprehension-obviously not Victor’s problem- and Broca’s area is responsible for producing speech and articulation, which, more and more, is beginning to sound like Victor’s problem.”
“The left side of the brain is responsible for language, math and logic while the right side is responsible for spatial abilities, face recognition, visual imagery and music. So, damage to the right side of the brain has to be affecting Victor since he can’t recognize anybody but me.” Frustrated by having to draw her own conclusions when she depended on doctors to help her and draw the conclusions for her, so she could focus on what really mattered to her-Victor-and helping him heal, helping him get his life back, Nikki wrote a note and left it beside Victor in bed before quickly walking out of his room and to the cafeteria.
“Nikki, what’s wrong?”
“Casey, what are you doing here?” Nikki asked wearily.
“I’m on a break; I was coming to check on you. What happened? Is something wrong? Did something happen with Victor?”
“No, he was sleeping when I left.” She didn’t bother looking up at her sister as Casey sat in front of her.
“So, tell me what happened? You look like you’re about to fall apart.”
“Gee, thanks, I really needed to hear that.”
“I’m sorry; I’m just worried about you, that’s all.”
“I know. I just had to get out of there, that’s all. I couldn’t stand being in that damn hospital room another minute! Casey, all I can do is read the research you gave me and wait and wait and wait! I can’t do a damn thing but wait and try to draw my own conclusions about something I have absolutely no experience with and wish I never had to deal with!”
Watching as Nikki’s fists clenched and unclenched, Casey’s heart broke for her sister as she moved around the table to sit beside her and wrap her arms around her.
“Thanks, I needed that.” Nikki said through her tears as she offered a tremulous smile and took a deep breath before releasing it slowly.
“Hey, why don’t we have some lunch before you head back into the trenches?” Casey offered helpfully.
“Okay, although I still don’t have much of an appetite.”
“Nikki, I know it’s hard, probably the hardest thing you’ve ever had to deal with, but you need to be patient. The doctors will come and see you as soon as they have something definitive. You need to eat; you need to keep your strength up, for lots of reasons.”
“I know. You and I both know how good I am at waiting.” Nikki quietly replied.
“Yeah, that’s something you can’t blame on Victor either! You’ve never been good at waiting, never been patient, ever since Mom brought you home from the hospital! You’re such a prima donna!”Casey teased her lightly.
At Nikki’s strained smile, Casey quickly said, “I’m sorry, bad joke.”
“No, it’s not that. It’s not your fault. I’ve just been thinking about the pregnancy and what’s going on with my baby girl and I can’t talk to anybody about it, well, I can’t talk to Victor. There’s just so much going on I feel like I’m on a roller-coaster with some madman at the switch and I can’t even anticipate what’s coming, much less figure out how to deal with it.”
With another sigh, Nikki rose and said, “I’d better get back. Victor will wonder where I am.”
“Okay, but call me if you need me.”
“I will. Don’t worry.”
“Yeah right, how many times have I heard that before?”
“Not going to happen, little sister, get used to it.”
Feeling a little better, Nikki walked out of the cafeteria and headed back to Victor’s room, grateful that, because of her sister, she had found the strength to deal with whatever would come next.
On the way back, Nikki decided to make a quick stop. As she entered the chapel, Nikki couldn’t help but notice how quiet it was since nobody else was there. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, she walked up to the front where candles were set on a table and lit one. As she sat in one of the pews, she thought to herself, ‘I don’t even really know what I’m doing here except trying to find some way to hold on for my family’s sake.’
Trying to ignore the chills sliding along her skin and slipping into her bones little by little, she took a moment to collect her thoughts before beginning. “Thank you for sparing Victor. You know he means the world to me. Lord, I know I ask for a lot sometimes. But, you know what’s going on with my family right now. You know how much of a mess everything is. More and more, I’m afraid I’m losing my family. The tension between Nicholas and Victoria is reaching its breaking point, the situation with Victor’s plaguing me day and night, I’m terrified I’ll lose my husband and my daughter and I can’t do a thing about either! Not to mention what the situation with Gary and Jeff is doing to me! I don’t know how much more I can take.”
In his room, Victor lay in bed, still incredibly frustrated by what he saw as a total lack of progress in his current situation. Tormented by it, he could do nothing but toss and turn as he was thrust into another nightmare. He saw himself at home at the ranch. But it was different, much different. He was paralyzed, totally dependent on others for almost everything. Not even Nikki cared for him any longer.
In the chapel, Nikki sat and searched for the answers that still eluded her, praying for the strength to get through it all. “Victor’s terrified of what may happen, of not knowing what’s going on and not being able to control the situation, let alone the outcome. I’m trying to stay strong, for his sake as well as my children’s” she stopped a moment as she considered her unborn twins. “And I know he’s trying to stay strong for mine. But I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up. I don’t know how much longer I can stay strong for everyone when I feel like my world’s crumbling down around me. How do I do it? I know I should be able to do it by now, I should know exactly what to do to make sure my family pulls through this, but I don’t, I just don’t.”
Still trapped in the confusing nightmare, Victor was helpless to do anything but toss and turn and hope that it would end soon. He saw himself in the wheelchair as Nikki hurriedly walked into and out of the living room carrying luggage. The more he tried to talk to her, to try and get some answers, make some sense of what was going on, the more she ignored him; it was as if she couldn’t hear him, as if he were invisible; a ghost in his own home. He froze, speechless as his heart stopped at the sight in front of him. There before him stood a tableau he never expected to see, never wanted to see.
In the chapel, Nikki wearily turned her attention to her daughter and her strange behaviour, trying valiantly to make some sense of it, trying with everything in her to find a way to help her. Tirelessly, she sought the answers that, as much as she didn’t want to admit it, eluded her. “Victoria’s trying to stay strong for me, she’s trying so hard to take care of me and not let me see how this is affecting her, but I can see it in her eyes, I can see it in her face. I just wish I knew how to get her to open up to me. It’s obvious from our last conversation that she’s angry with Victor over something, painfully obvious. It’s more than just the situation with Jeff and Gary, but I can’t figure out what. I just wish I knew; I wish I had a clue about what was going on. Then maybe I could stop all this craziness once and for all, or at least some of it.” Nikki amended, knowing she couldn’t fix everything, at least not right away.
In Victor’s room, his mind’s eye continued to torment him with an outrageous and terrifying scene. Wordlessly, he saw her put their two youngest in car seats before turning around and walking back upstairs, then returning with more bags. Chilling helplessness settled in him as he watched her prepare their two youngest children to leave and watched his life pass him by, watched it slip through his fingers.
Nikki said nothing as she walked upstairs and returned moments later with the last of the luggage.
Unable to take in what he was seeing, Victor finally snapped. “Nikki, what the hell is going on here? What do you think you’re doing? Where do you think you’re going with my children?”
“Your children?” Nikki repeated mockingly with a cold smirk.
“Yes my children! Where the hell do you think you’re going with them?”
“Wherever I damn well please!”
“What in God’s name are you talking about? Answer me damn it!” Victor bellowed.
“I’m leaving town.” She replied shortly, not bothering to look him in the eye.
“Leaving town?” Victor asked confused and hurt.
“That’s right! I’m leaving town today!”
“But why? Why now?” he asked, his voice barely audible as he fought the excruciating pain wrenching his heart, tearing through it until he thought he’d collapse where he sat.
“You really have to ask me that?” Nikki replied incredulously.
“Yes and I damn well want an answer!”
“Fine with me, darling!”
Unable to explain it, Victor fought against the sense of foreboding and naked fear that washed over him at that moment.
“I’m sick and tired of this!” Nikki began, making it clear she had no intension of sugar coating any of what she would say, no intention of sparing him the pain she knew she’d heap on him before walking out on him for the last time and destroying his life forever.
“Sick of what?” Victor asked confused.
“Sick of this whole thing! I’m sick of this life! Damn it Victor, all I do is play nursemaid to you and I’ve had it!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Three kids, I’m raising three kids and trying to take care of you, and I don’t get a damn thing from you, nothing! I don’t even get a thank you; I’m not the one who put you in that damn chair, Victor! You did it to yourself! You did it by not taking care of yourself, so don’t you dare take it out on me! I’ve had it! Find another simpering jelly fish to use as your whipping boy, I’m out of here! It really shouldn’t be too hard, just call up one of your other ex-wives, I’m sure one’s bound to be free!”
“Nikki please—” he tried in vain to get her to calm down, to get her to listen to him, but it was clear, painfully clear, she’d already left. She’d left a long time ago.
“I’ve spent the best years of my life-no, I’ve thrown away the best years of my life-all for you, a man who just takes and takes until I have nothing left! I won’t let it go on, Victor, I won’t let it go on any more, for my children’s sake and my own, I’m leaving and I’m not coming back! Too many years I’ve stayed here playing the dutiful wife while you did what you wanted, followed your every whim, turned your every dream into reality while my dreams, my needs went unmet, while what I wanted and needed was deemed insignificant-by one person; you! Those days are long gone, darling, and they’re not coming back. Finally, finally I’m standing on my own two feet, starting a new life with a man who can give me what I need, everything I need, and does!” Although she was still too much of a lady to come right out and say it, it was painfully clear what she meant.
“How long has this been going on? How long have you been having an affair with that scum?” Victor roared.
“Did I say I was? Did I say I was doing that?” Nikki hedged hurtfully.
“Damn it Nikki! How long?”
“Whatever I have or haven’t been doing is no longer any of your concern. You lost the right-no; the privilege-of knowing what goes on in my life long ago, Victor!” Although her voice was ice-cold and detachment rang out in it, her eyes burned with a fire, a resentment and fury he’d never seen before.
“Nikki, wait!” he called after her as she turned her back on him once again and fussed with a blanket that covered their youngest son.
“No, I’ve wasted enough time-too much in fact-waiting around for you, waiting for you to say or do something, to pay some kind of attention to me, waiting for whatever meagre crumbs you’d deign to offer me, like I was some love sick puppy! As much as it pains me to admit it, I’m the one who wasted years of my life doing that, but not anymore!”
Ready to hurl insults and argue, fight for her, to fight as long as it took for her to finally see she was where she belonged, that no matter what he said or did he needed her and loved her more than anything or anyone ever could, Victor swore ripely as the doorbell rang.
Without so much as a glance at Victor, despite the heart wrenching pain etched on his face, Nikki turned her back on him and went to answer the door.
“Ready to go?”
Victor’s heart stopped, only to be squeezed in a vice like grip when he saw Bradley enter his home.
“Almost, I’ve just got a few things to finish up here and I’ll be right out.” Nikki told him as she smiled sweetly, her eyes shining with love, love she once swore was only for Victor.
Returning her smile, Brad kissed her with a passion that, once upon a time, she’d shared with him, the injustice of it, the betrayal tore at his soul, leaving it bloody and beaten. Smiling as he recognized his triumph, Brad replied, “I’ll wait in the car.” With only a smug smirk for Victor, he left.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing? You are not taking my children to live with that slime ball! You are not taking my children to live with that scumbag, you hear me? Whatever you do with your life is your business, but I’ll be damned if you’ll ruin their lives too!”
“You don’t think I’m taking my children with me? Watch me!” Picking up her son and daughter, Nikki began walking out of the house.
“Nikki, get back here! Nikki!” he roared after her.
It was then that his son awoke and began to cry, for what, it wasn’t clear, didn’t matter. The sound wrenched Victor’s heart and echoed in the room long after Nikki had swept him up and slammed the door, never to return again.
Shooting awake, Victor tried to control his racing heart as his eyes darted around the room searching for Nikki, praying that wherever she was she’d be back soon.
In the chapel, Nikki was caught up in her own waking nightmare, her own personal hell. “More and more, I feel like I’m losing my daughter, I wish I could shake the feeling but I can’t. I can’t shake the feeling and it scares me to death! I already lost one child, I can’t lose another. Please Lord, I can’t lose another, don’t let me lose Victoria. Please, keep all my children safe.”
With a deep breath, Nikki turned her attention to Victor. “Then there’s Victor. As if the situation weren’t bad enough, the doctors still don’t know how what parts of Victor’s brain were damaged in the stroke or how bad the damage was. Despite all the tests they’ve done they still haven’t got a single clue so I’m left waiting, sitting on my hands and waiting for answers that they should have by now! I’ve read I don’t know how much medical research on heart attacks and strokes, I’ve lost track, and I still don’t have any answers, just more questions.”
“It’s not that I’m not grateful that Victor’s still alive, it’s just that I feel so helpless. My family’s in crisis and I don’t have a clue how to help them! Please, help me find the answers I’m searching for, help me keep my family together, please Lord, don’t take away what means the most to me!”
Despite the valiant struggle he’d fought to stay awake, Victor slipped back into a restless and fearful sleep, terrified that the haunting and heart-wrenching images that his mind’s eye had conjured up would continue to haunt him and may even become reality.
Silently, she walked back into Victor’s room to find him still sleeping and lunch waiting for her along with a note from Vicki.
I see breakfast wasn’t to your liking, hopefully lunch is. Even if it isn’t, eat it, please. You’ve got to eat something. You need to take care of yourself. If you don’t you won’t be able to do anything for Dad or anybody else.
I’ll talk to you later.
“She’s trying to take care of me,” Nikki reminded herself before sitting down to eat and continue with her research.
“Since the frontal lobe is concerned with reasoning, planning, parts of speech and movement, emotions, and problem-solving, could that have been damaged, causing the speech problems and paralysis?
Could damage to the parietal lobe be what’s causing the paralysis; it is concerned with perception of stimuli related to touch, pressure, temperature and pain.
Considering the temporal lobe is concerned with perception and recognition of auditory stimuli and memory. And the hippocampus plays an important role in forming memories; could that have been damaged causing the memory problems?”
“Because the cerebellum functions for muscle coordination and maintains normal muscle tone and posture, along with coordinating balance, could it have been damaged, causing the paralysis? Or, does damage to that part of the brain only mean trouble with balance and not movement? That’s what it sounds like, it sounds like damage to that part of the brain would mean it would be easier for someone to lose their balance, but there wouldn’t necessarily be any trouble with movement.
It says that the cerebrum governs intelligence and reasoning, learning and memory, so would damage to that be what’s causing the memory loss?”Nikki wondered aloud before closing her eyes and taking a steadying breath as she reminded herself why she was doing this. “Victor can’t help himself right now, so it’s up to me. It’s up to me to find the answers he needs so he can come home.”
“The frontal lobe is in charge of three things: motor activity and integration of muscle activity; speech; and thought processes. So, something in that part of the brain might have been damaged causing Victor’s speech problems and paralysis. It’s also associated with parts of speech, emotions and problem solving.”
“Since the hypothalamus plays a role in emotions, autonomic functions and motor functions, along with controlling the body’s daily sleep wake cycle, homeostasis (making sure the body’s running smoothly), appetite, thirst, other bodily urges, maybe that part of the brain was damaged causing the paralysis? Who knows? I’m guessing here! I’m working on damn suppositions, nothing more! Damn it! Why hasn’t anybody told me anything yet? How hard can it be to look at some damn tests and tell me what’s going on with my husband?” Nikki exclaimed slamming the binder shut.
“I need to remember why I’m doing this. I need to get to the bottom of this, for Victor’s sake.” As her hand shook, she opened the binder and began to read. “Functions of the thalamus include both sensory and motor behaviors. -Could damage to that part of the brain cause the paralysis?-The thalamus, however, is a major sensory relay centre, regulating higher brain centres, and the peripheral nervous system.-Or could the paralysis have been caused by damage to the thalamus? Damn it, why can’t I figure this out? Why can’t I find any answers? The more I read this research, the more questions keep coming up, the more questions I have, but still no answers!”
As the questions that she’d been able to push to the back of her mind thrust themselves to the forefront of her thinking, Nikki thought to herself, ‘How is it that I’m still no closer to finding out what’s going on with Victor or Victoria? That conversation last night was the strangest I’ve ever had with her! Where did it all come from? She hasn’t been acting right for months and now this? This attitude of hers doesn’t make any sense! It’s like she hates her father! They’ve had some arguments, but nothing too extreme, certainly nothing that would account for her behaviour, at least not that I know of. ’ It was Victor stirring in bed beside her that brought her back to reality. “Well good morning,” she said to him cheerfully. “How are you feeling?”
Giving her a small, weak smile, Victor shrugged.
“I’ll take that to mean you’re feeling better.”
Victor nodded with another smile.
Carefully, almost hesitantly, Victoria entered her father’s hospital room closing the door silently behind her. “Mom,” she said quietly as she walked over to where her mother sat at her father’s bedside.
“Hi honey, I didn’t hear you come in.”
“If this is a bad time, I can come back later.”
“No, nonsense, come, sit down. You can spend some time with your father.”Nikki told her with a smile, not noticing the puzzled expression on Victor’s face.
Moving carefully, slowly, Victoria entered her father’s hospital room and, standing at his bedside and hesitantly asked, “Hi Dad, how…how are you feeling?”
With the same puzzled expression on his face, Victor stared at her and shrugged. ‘I know I should know her for some reason, but I don’t. What is it about her? Why is she looking at me that way and why did she call me dad? Why can’t I remember her? Something tells me I should, something about the look in her eyes tells me I should remember her but I don’t.’
“Dad, what’s wrong? Are you in some kind of pain?” Victoria asked, becoming fearful and concerned as the expression on her father’s face began to register.
Still unable to figure out who the young woman in front of him was or why he should recognize her, Victor silently shook his head and tried in vain to remember her. Frustrated and becoming angry, fearful that something else, something the doctors had yet to discover, was seriously wrong Victor searched his mind for some clue, some shred or shadow of a memory as to who the beautiful young woman who looked so much like Nikki was.
“Victor, what’s wrong? What’s going on?” Nikki asked as tiny pinpricks of apprehension slid along her skin and down her spine chilling her from the inside out. “Darling; it’s Victoria, remember?”
In a shaky voice as her chin quivered and she began to tremble, “It’s me, Dad, don’t you remember me? You do recognize me don’t you?” She couldn’t have helped the plea that rang in her voice if she’d tried.
With a furrowed brow and his jaw set, deep pain in his eyes, pain that no one would ever be able to erase, he shook his head.
“No, this isn’t happening; it can’t be happening!”Victoria all but screamed as tears welled up in; then fell from her eyes. “Dad, it’s me, Victoria, remember? I’m your daughter, remember? Please, Dad, you have to remember.” Her voice broke, as did her heart as the cold harsh reality of Victor’s condition set in. “Dad, just think, take a good look at me and think, you must remember something, you have to! You just have to!”
Tears welled in his own eyes as Victor did as she’d asked. ‘Why the hell can’t I remember her? Why the hell can’t I remember my own daughter?! What the hell is wrong with me and why can’t I do a damn thing about it?’ he thought to himself furious and, though he tried to deny it, terrified. As his heart shattered at the sight of the pain raging in his daughter’s eyes, etched on every corner of her face, he shook his head once again and let his own anguished tears fall.
“No! No, this isn’t happening; this isn’t happening!” Victoria murmured over and over as her world shattered before her as if it had all been an illusion. Slowly, wide eyed as the anguish tearing at her soul shone in her eyes, she backed away from the bedside before running from the room, tears streaming down her cheeks, heartbroken, anguished sobs tearing out of her, making it almost impossible to breathe. Blinded by them, she tore down the hall and, by some miracle, finally made it to the elevator. Furious and unable to control the anguish rising up in her, choking all else, coldly murdering what little hope she had left, Victoria she slammed her fist against the elevator panel as it traveled down to the main floor.
Heedless of the danger she was putting herself in and still blinded by bitter, terrified and hopeless tears, Victoria tore across the parking lot and toward her car. Wrenching the door open, and then slamming it behind her, she gunned the engine and peeled out of the parking lot, barrelling toward home.
Fighting back her own tears, Nikki dug out her cell phone and dialled Nicholas’ number.
“Hi Sharon, is Nicholas there?”
“Yes; just a minute Nikki.”
“Mom, what is it? What happened, is Dad-”
“Your father’s fine, it’s your sister I’m worried about.”
“Why? What happened?” Nick asked, trying his best to ignore the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
“She was just here. Nicholas, your father doesn’t remember her; he doesn’t even recognize her at all!” Nikki told him almost frantically.
“What? Mom, that doesn’t make any sense! What do you mean Dad doesn’t remember Vick? What do you mean he doesn’t even recognize her?” Nick asked in disbelief, the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach growing.
“I don’t know; I don’t know what’s going on. But I need you to do something for me.” Nikki told him willing herself to stay calm as she saw the tears streaming down her husband’s face.
“What? Anything,” he replied feeling like he was caught up in some surreal nightmare.
“Go up to the main house and wait for your sister. She was almost frantic, Nicholas, she’s terrified. I can’t be there, so I need you to be.”
“Okay, I’m on my way.” Nicholas replied before hanging up and tearing out the front door.
“Sharon, I don’t have time! Vicki just found out Dad doesn’t even recognize her, God only knows the state she’s in!”
“Oh my God, no,” Sharon murmured with her hand covering her mouth as she watched her husband drive off.
Up at the main house, it was pitch black, save one lone light left on in the living room. Vicki sat curled up on the couch clutching an old photo of her and her father. It had been taken when she was just a teenager. She remembered it like it was just yesterday. She smiled bitter sweetly as she gazed wistfully at the photo in her hands. Looking back now, it seemed like that was another lifetime ago. Both she and her father looked so young and carefree, she in her pale yellow floral dress with her chestnut hair hanging loosely past her shoulders and he with his dress-causal outfit; a white dress shirt open at the neck paired with a black sport jacket and black dress pants. “What happened to us?” she whispered as anguished tears flowed freely from her eyes and burning her already raw skin. As she gazed wistfully at the picture, her mind took her back in time and she remembered all too well how she felt when it was taken. “We were so carefree, what happened?” The pain raging within her threatened to drive her mad as she recalled just how different life had been back then. “I felt so safe there in your arms, like nothing could hurt me. Those days are gone now, they’re gone forever.”
“Vicki?” Nick called as he cautiously entered the living room. “Vicki,” he repeated as he walked up to her, carefully, gently putting a hand on her shoulder.
“Nicholas!” Victoria exclaimed, jumping out of her skin. Pasting on an extremely strained smile as she scrubbed the tears away from her eyes, she whispered, “I didn’t hear you come in.”
“How are you holding up?” He asked gently, cautiously.
“How much do you know?” she asked wearily.
“Mom told me everything, how are you holding up?” Nick told her, his heart sinking at the sight of her in so much pain and the knowledge that he was powerless to do anything about it.