Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
"Change of plans, it seems that I have to bring Trey along. I hope that's ok?"
"Certainly, why wouldn't it be? I would love getting to know little man."
He held him once when he was a couple months old and that memory has a special place in his heart. Then everything came apart in both their lives and the opportunity was lost to him until now.
"Yes he is my little man," Evangeline agreed pressing a firm kiss against his cheek. "Trey this is mommy's good friend Victor Lord Jr. Say hello."
With one hand securing Paddington Bear and the other wrapped around his mother's neck Trey said, "Hello," in an adorable little voice.
"Hi there Trey. It's nice meeting you." Victor leaned forward with a huge smile on his face allowing Trey to feel more at ease. He stuck out his tongue and Trey giggled. "I'm sure before this day is over you and me are going to be good friends also."
Trey shook his head in agreement and Victor winked at him.
What started out as a promising day; turned into one bothersome morning for Evangeline. Although she could say that the opposite applied to Victor and Trey who were having the time of their lives either running up and down the hallways or horsing around in the backyards. After the first house viewing, Paddington Bear remained seated in the vehicle.
Well at least she figured out Victor's preferences - four to five bedrooms, must have private study, home gym, swimming pool, deck and huge backyard. Yet for the three homes they visited so far, he had one complaint after another and afterwards he just seem to give up leaving Evangeline to deal with the real estate agent while he and Trey went on their adventure.
Walking out of the last home a pissed off Evangeline remarked, "This is turning out to be a waste of time."
Victor carrying Trey in his arms asked, "What are you talking about? You and I both know that it definitely takes time to find exactly what you want. That house has to have that wow appeal. After all you are planning on spending a lot of years enjoying that home."
"Alright..." Evangeline calmed down. "I do get what you're saying but having your face screwed up before we've even entered says a lot. Come on be honest with me. Is there really a home on our list that you have any interest in on first sight?"
"None on our list," he readily confessed. "But there is one that got away."
"Then show me and I'll create a newer and better list of homes to visit," she replied full of confidence.
"Wow" was the word that escaped Evangeline's lips upon arrival at the Ashby property. The view from the road only provided a glimpse of what she assumed was a spectacular house from top to bottom. The stucco and brick home stood prominent in the background while the meticulous kept landscape was like an open invitation to walk along its pathways.
She stepped outside of the Lincoln Navigator and Victor immediately joined her. "Now I see..."
"Glad you do." He folded his arms and leaned against the vehicle. "I was this close to acquiring this property but I know that Nicki had a hand in letting it slip through my fingers."
His exasperated tone said it all.
"How do you know for sure it was her?" she asked never shifting her eyes away from the property. It carried a definite air of luxury without being intensely so.
"I did break off our engagement and it's not like I did it tactfully.
"When did you or your brother ever do things tactfully?"
"I get your point. ...Anyways that's what I'm looking for. Think you can find another home just like it?"
"I can do a whole lot of things...well," she boasted. Victor shook his head with a smile. "Trust me Victor. I'll take care of this." She also planned to do a side investigation as well. "Oh Victor I might as well inform you that this work isn't going to be pro bono," she remarked as he held open the door for her.
"Hmmm..." He scratched his chin. "Now where did I put my checkbook?"
"And that's not the type of payment I was thinking about either."
One highlight of her mundane morning routine was running down to the Main Street Starbucks to grab a breakfast sandwich along with a cup of their caffé misto before progressing with her day. After paying for her purchase, her phone suddenly sprung to life.
"Hey what's up?"
"Care to join me for breakfast?"
That unmistakable voice brought a smile to her face.
"Sure but I'm already getting started at Starbucks."
"Doesn't matter...please bring me a cup of their dark roast? I desperately need a jolt."
"That bad huh..."
"Sometimes deadlines can do that."
"Ok I'll order that cup and see you shortly."
"Such a lifesaver..."
"So glad you've come to realize what others have known all along." Victor chuckled.
The renewed friendship actually made her look forward to hanging out more with Victor. As the days passed by they spent many hours talking and settling back into the ease of their strong bond as friends.
"I realized that a long time ago. So glad you are back in my life."
"I'm happy too. Going to place that order right now before this place gets crowded."
While waiting to place her order, she caught sight of Todd sitting and talking with someone very familiar. She couldn't pass up this opportunity. Time to pay the fox a visit, Evangeline mumbled. The insightful look on his face when he saw her confirmed her suspicions and it related to the Ashby property. Evangeline made a lot of inroads into her investigation and what she discovered fitted all the puzzle pieces together.
"Todd we need to talk."
"Can't you see that we are in the middle of a discussion?"
She frowned at Nicki. "What we have to talk about is far more important. Ask him?"
"Nicki we'll chat later."
Todd's apparent brush off upset Nicki greatly. "Suit yourself." She glowered at them both, roughly grabbed her purse and quickly made her exit.
"I suppose seeing your ex fiancé's new playmate does that to a woman."
"So sad for her but I'm here to deal with this other interesting matter."
"Have a seat..."
"No thanks I prefer to stand. This discussion won't take up too much time."
"So you know. Strange that my twin didn't have that perception..."
"Perhaps he doesn't want to play in the sandbox anymore."
A sly smile appeared on his countenance. "I suppose that means I'm the immature one."
"If the alligator shoes fit...It wasn't too nice of you to leave the Ashby's high and dry - backing out on the supposed deal...so unbecoming. You play these silly games with Victor's emotions but you will leave this alone. Soon the house will be his and you won't interfere again or I may have to play with your emotions. You get my meaning."
He knew she meant Starr. It's not that his relationship with his daughter was worst since his return but he did make her a promise. Todd showed her both palms in surrender. "Sometimes I wonder if I was here during those eight years; would we have this same type of friendship."
"Not in the slightest. Victor has more of a heart than you ever will."
He couldn't help but regard her as she strolled away. How did that Rod Stewart song go again?
When Saturday came around Victor discovered exactly what payment meant. Assisting Hugh and Evangeline in putting together the baby room wasn't even on his list. As usual, Evangeline threw him for a loop sometimes. Didn't Hugh's departed father make his life a living nightmare when he was alive? Yet he knew one didn't have a choice when it came to paternity. He hoped that no judgments were cast in his direction because he wouldn't go down that road either.
From Evangeline's viewpoint, introducing Victor to the rest of the family went as well as expected. She already informed them of their rekindled friendship although they looked a little surprised when Victor actually showed up at the Hughes' front door. Awkward introductions aside, everyone was more than welcoming. The second time around not only gave them an opportunity but also allowed the family to view their friendship from a different perspective.
The men painted the room in the morning; broke for lunch and afterwards set up all the furniture. Their conversations mainly centered on finding and fitting the correct pieces together. When their part of the work was completed, Evangeline added the final additions and coordinated the furniture placements. All three stood together thoroughly inspecting and admiring the room.
"Think Layla is going to like it?" Hugh asked rather apprehensively.
Evangeline placed an arm around either side of their shoulders. "Of course she will; you guys did a pretty amazing job." Hugh and Victor shook their heads in agreement. "...I do believe it's time to show the mother-to-be the baby's room."
A few minutes later, an awe struck Layla surveyed the room and thanked everyone for the hard work they put in. "This is the best guys...so perfect. I can't believe how emotional I am right now..." She imagined her baby creating a few milestones in this same room and just the thought brought tears to her eyes.
A stoic Trey gazed up at Lisa and said, "Grammie why auntie cry?"
Lisa reassured him. "Baby auntie is not sad..."
"I'm very, very happy." She bent forward giving him a quick tickle and kissed his cheek.
"Ok I do believe we should leave these two alone to have a moment."
"And it's time for me to head on home," Victor remarked looking down on his paint splattered shirt. After a shower, he thought about heating up some leftovers and working on his editorial.
Hugh extended an appreciative hand. "Hey man thanks."
Victor accepting replied, "No prob."
He really enjoyed spending time with Evangeline's family. It made him feel whole. Being Victor Lord Jr. had its advantages. No longer did they view him as the monster that was Todd Manning.
"But you are coming back to have dinner with us right?" Lisa questioned.
A smile appeared on his face. "Sure. I definitely won't pass up a home cook meal. Truth be told...I never really tasted your daughter's cooking before."
Evangeline gave him an aghast stare. "Say what?"
Lisa brow furrowed in disbelief. "How long have you two been friends?" Lisa continued as they started to walk out.
"I can't believe you told my mother that. Mom it's not true."
"Mrs. Williamson we usually ate out but one time she did prepare me a PB&J sandwich."
Their voices faded as the back and forth continued down the hall.
"This all makes it real doesn't it? We are about to become parents for the first time." They embraced and shared a sweet kiss yet Layla sensed something was troubling him. She ran her fingers through his hair then asked, "Baby what's going on? You don't seem yourself."
"I guess Victor being here makes me think about Spencer. He was such a brilliant doctor and yet a monster lay beneath that conceited exterior."
"Honey Spencer Truman may be your biological father but John Hughes is your dad. The embodiment of what being an excellent father is all about. You've learnt much from him and are going to be an amazing father."
"And you an equally amazing mother. I love the both of you so much."
"We love you too."
"I'm sorry for dragging down this special moment."
"Yeah it should be all about me," she chuckled. She so wanted to get his mind off Spencer who always cast a dark cloud over her husband's mood.
"Always about you..." He began placing short kisses strategically on the nape of her neck.
"Hmmm you are such a tease. You've left me wanting more than a few times this week. Isn't there a law against doing that to the pregnant mother of your child?"
"I'll enact legislation and plead guilty as charged. I do plan on making immediate restitution," he whispered drawing her lips into an intense, sultry kiss. "Time to take this elsewhere..."
"Agreed," she giggled as Hugh pulled her towards their bedroom.
Only four sat down to an excellent dinner consisting of T-bone steak with baked potato and steamed vegetables. Victor was beyond satisfied. He rated it one of the best meals he ever had.
"Told you my baby can cook," Lisa remarked quite satisfied with Victor's reaction.
"Mom Victor knows that I can cook," she griped as she rose from her seat with a sleeping Trey in her arms. Tonight she and Trey would be staying over.
Victor shook his head no and chuckled when Evangeline gave him the "look". "I just need to get this little one to bed then I'll be back to help you mom..."
Victor immediately offered, "I can help. It's the least I can do after having such a fantastic meal."
"How chivalrous of you," Evangeline remarked sarcastically before exiting.
Lisa and Victor shared a laugh. "Is it always this way between you two?"
"Never a dull moment..."
Victor assisted her with clearing the table and loading the dishwasher.
"I think that will do. I'll prepare a plate for you to take home."
"You don't need to do that Mrs. Williamson."
"Yes I do. Let's not get to a disagreement about this," she chuckled.
"We definitely won't. Thanks Mrs. Williamson."
Afterwards Victor waited for Evangeline in the living room watching the tv but not fully engaged. Soon Evangeline joined him with a huge smile on her face.
"Why are you smiling that way?"
"I have a surprise for you."
"What sort of surprise?"
"The Ashby property is yours," she grinned.
Did he hear her correctly? "W-what?" The news stunned him and he stared at her in disbelief. "Say again."
"Yeah it's true. The house, everything is yours but we do need to set up a closing meeting..."
"The Ashby place is mine!" He jumped up excitedly. "Evangeline you just don't know. This so awesome!" He put both hands on his hand, taking in a breath. "Evangeline thank you." He quickly pulled her into a tight embrace. "You are more than the best." He drew back gazing at her. "You are most intelligent, beautiful..." She sensed the change in his demeanor, their eyes locked in and then he slowly lowered his lips on hers.