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.
It turned out to be one of those late evenings for Victor. The arrangements and paperwork, meaning a final custody decree was still being worked out. In the meantime, he kept himself busy at the office with clients, emails, and phone calls, afterward concentrating on his writing. Being that this was his first novel, he truly wanted to meet the publisher's deadline. The hours flew by so quickly that he didn't notice when it was time for him to leave the office.
After one such evening, he walked to his SUV in the building's underground parking garage, engrossed in conversation with one of his clients. Suddenly he felt a funny feeling come over him. He quickly ended the conversation. Soon Victor felt an arm grabbed him around his neck and felt the nozzle of a gun on his temple.
"Are you serious right now?"
"As a heart attack, brother."
Victor wasn't the least bit scared. If Todd wanted him dead, he would have been already. Besides, his breath smelt of alcohol.
"So, are we just going to stand here?"
"Shut up will you, I need to get some things off my chest!"
"Drop your weapon!"
Paul came up behind Todd. "I said, drop it!"
Todd turned around with Victor in tow. He could see that Paul didn't take out any weapon.
"I'm the one with the gun pointed at you, so don't be barking orders at me!"
"Oh, you think I can't!"
Paul lounged at him, quickly grabbed his wrist, twisting his arm firmly until the gun fell to the ground.
"I don't need a weapon to deal with cockroaches like you."
Todd continued to struggle, but Paul had effectively subdued him into submission. Todd was a mismatch to Paul's size and fitness. Sweat drenched his body, and he was gasping for air. When Paul finally let him go, his body crumpled to the garage floor. Whatever technique he applied, made Todd's body feel drained and achy.
"Do you want me to do anything else to him, Mr. Lord?"
"Nah, he's had enough for now."
Todd instantly started laughing.
"You're pathetic," he remarked.
"I'm pathetic? Look at you - inebriated. Was this how you planned to kill me with bloodshot eyes?"
"Not really, but if it happened, it happened."
Todd soon realized he had walked straight into a trap. He was losing his touch. "I'm getting too old for this game," he muttered beneath his breath. Todd remained seated on the ground, only easing up his back against one of the steel posts.
A perturbed Victor stood in front of him with arms crossed.
"Is that your only goal in life to erase me from existence?"
"I want to, but I'm too drunk to do so right now," he chuckled.
"And what would that accomplish?"
"I'll gain freedom from you, and all you took away from me!" he replied sternly.
"You could kill me a million times over, and you still won't get back those lost years. That's Irene's fault, not mine. Stop living in the past!"
"How can I move forward when my present still involves you. Now I get why Blair and I are divorcing. Jack doesn't regard me as his father. Blair has given you everything because she wants to be with you and not me." You could hear the anguish in his tone. "All I wanted was to have my life back, but now it's all gone."
Victor stooped down to his level. "Is it? What about Starr and Hope? Do you not see them? Do you not see how much they care for you? Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I lost too. I lost my identity, but I choose to move forward because it is all I can do. So you kill me then what? While you were concentrating so much at getting back at me, you forgot to rebuild your marriage..."
"Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!" Todd covered his ears.
Victor forcefully pulled his hands away from his ears. "You are going to listen to me, brother. We may hate each other, wishing the other was dead, but it's not about us anymore. Stop being so selfish and get your life together! Grow Up! You're a grandfather for crying out loud."
Victor stood up again and blew out a huge breath. "Paulie..."
"Don't hurt him....much."
Tonight Victor looked forward to facetime with Evangeline. The events that occurred a couple of evenings ago were behind him. He hadn't seen or heard anything more from Todd, not even Viki about the matter, which he considered strange. Viki always seemed to have a pulse on whatever was going on within the family dynamic, whether good or bad. Thinking back on it for a couple of weeks, he and Viki had conversed, but she didn't mention anything of significance - not his potential relationship with Lynn, the custody situation, and lately the incident with Todd. Perhaps Jessica clued her in on leaving her uncle alone and allowing him to handle his situations without her always running interference or offering advice. Then again, she was biding her time for that big conversation.
"You look tired."
"Well, so do you."
Evangeline appeared to be surrounded by paperwork, files, and law books.
"Already working on another case? I expected you to be celebrating your first big win."
From the beginning, the prosecution's case was built mainly on circumstantial evidence. Witnesses weren't present, and no security cameras were in the area. Marino finally got an opportunity to testify. The mock trial provided enough insight that he listened to his lawyers' directives and came across favorably to the jurors. When the verdict came down, the decision was unanimous. The prosecution hadn't met their burden of proof, and Evangeline's side came out victorious.
"The victory wasn't mine alone. It was a team effort. This firm has dealt with many big cases, what is one more."
"Nevertheless, it must feel awesome winning such a major case that has been all over the news lately."
"Yeah, it does feel satisfying," she replied with a huge smile.
He loved that grin. "There you go."
"Enough about me. Come on, Victor, I want an update about the custody case. ...Hmmm, I see a gleam in your eyes, care to share."
"Well, you'll be happy to learn that Blair and I have agreed that I should obtain primary and permanent custody of Sam."
She blinked a few times, unsure if she heard correctly. Indeed this was surprising news in many aspects. "Meaning?"
That's when Victor explained his meeting with Blair and everything they discussed. Evangeline wasn't too thrilled at all.
"I'm suspicious of Blair's actions. Why now?"
"Perhaps, for the first time, she's doing something selfless."
"Selfless? ...Blair wants something."
"Something like what?"
Victor couldn't be this clueless. Evangeline scoffed. "It's obvious she wants you back. Blair has always been into the battles and surrounding dramas. So now you want me to believe that she's done a 180? ...Victor, she invites you to one of your favorite cafes, knows that you and Jack are hanging out, but doesn't get the least bit upset, clues you in on her impending divorce, and to top it all off is freely giving you custody of Sam. That's what I call I want my ex back!"
A sly smile crept upon his face. "I think you're a little jealous."
Evangeline rolled her eyes. "No, I'm not. Victor, I'm not jealous." She threw a paper clip at the computer screen in mock frustration. "I don't need to be jealous of anyone, especially her."
"No, you don't, Sweetheart." He winked at her.
He watched her intently. Even with her hair tied in a ponytail wearing a throwback t-shirt, Evangeline was a beautiful woman. Everything about her was, and he so wanted her to consider him more than just a friend.
"Something on your mind?"
"In three weeks, I'll be in Washington for a meeting with my publisher. It will be a weekend visit, so I was hoping that we can meet up afterward and talk."
He hoped for an affirmative answer and waited with bated breath. There was no way he was discussing a potential relationship unless they were face to face.
"Sure, I'll clear my schedule, show you around a couple of sites, and then we can talk."
"Evangeline, you understand what..."
Evangeline immediately interjected, "I know, Victor, I know, and we'll lay everything out on the table."
Truthfully, she hadn't quite come to a definitive answer as yet. Twenty-one days lay between her and a huge decision. She didn't dare say it to his face, though.
"Are you scared now? ...Man, I wish I was there right now."
"So I can lay my head on your shoulder..."
"And tell you everything is going to be alright."
Those reassuring words spoken in his soft tone made her feel at ease once more. He always had a way of calming her through many stressful moments. She closed her eyes, recalling a time when he provided comfort when Christian had broken off their relationship.
"Where did you go just now?"
"Another time, another place."
"I think I better let you get back to work or better yet go to bed."
"In a while, I'll see you real soon, but talk to you later."
"This is a real surprise, Evangeline. I can't recall when you ever called me in the middle of a workday. What's going on? Are you feeling okay?"
"I'm fine, Layla. I'm just sitting around the office, staring at my computer, and the clock on the wall. It suddenly dawns on me that I should call Layla."
She was indeed in her office, researching a couple of cases on her laptop yet very distracted. She finally shut down her computer then took a few moments to think. She desperately needed advice from someone she trusted.
"Funny, you're not. Come on, talk to me. Something must be bugging you."
She immediately replied, "It's Victor."
"Listen, your big sister is conflicted. Just hear me out and be reasonable."
"Okay," replied Layla warily.
"Victor wants us to be more than just friends, and I'm terrified of losing my best friend in the process. What if..."
"Wait a minute, you and Victor?"
"Does that surprise you? Is it truly an outrageous idea?"
Layla tapped her index finger on her cheek. "When I think about it, humph, not really. You two have been best friends for years, always defending one another no matter what. He even stood up to Blair and Viki for you whenever they attacked your character. Yeah, I do see it."
"Why do you have to say it like that?"
"Sis, if you want to be with him, be with him. Why is my approval so paramount?"
Evangeline sighed. "I don't know. I don't know, and that's the problem. I've found a great job. I love the city. I'm finally feeling like my old self."
"And Victor has to come along and complicate things. Is that it? You're always attracting complicated men. Victor is a complicated guy."
"Who has feelings for me."
"Do you care for him in that way?"
"I can't say no."
Layla smacked her forehead. "You are doing it again. Stop overthinking things Vange, either you do, or you don't. It's not fair to him if you keep straddling the fence like this."
"I don't want him out of my life, yet it feels like everything is rushing at me like a tidal wave."
Layla chuckled, "A Victor tidal wave. So when will you guys see each other face to face."
"In three weeks, he has a meeting, but he's also coming out to see me and discuss things."
"I don't envy your position. I get that so far your relationships haven't worked out. Having your heart broken a few times doesn't bode well for the next guy in line. Evangeline, please don't judge this potential relationship with all your past failures. You always blame yourself when things don't turn out well. It's the perfectionist in you. Stop doing that, or you'll drive yourself crazy and end up alone."
"Wise words that I'll take to heart. Thanks, sis."