Together, Forever! Ch. 11bysimply_cyn©
After the premier of Starstruck, Colin announced to the world through the media that he would be taking the next year off to travel, get more accustomed to his new superstar status and get acquainted with the house he had just purchased in Los Angeles. "A whole year off!" Victoria was astonished. "Wow, what I wouldn't give to take a whole year off." Colin stretched out across her beige leather couch, looking over at her as she folded a pile of laundry; some of his things mixed in with her own.
"You could," he said, smiling over at her. She was wearing blue jeans and one of his t-shirts untucked. Her auburn hair was pulled back into a ponytail and a beautiful California tan was all she had on her face. Barefooted, she sat cross-legged on the floor as she continued to fold towels and underwear.
"How's that?" she asked, peering up at him through her long lashes, a smile on her face. She had come to accept her life now with Colin as an everyday thing. He was no longer a big star in Hollywood to her, but a loving, helpful man who she couldn't get enough of. Everything she had ever wanted was coming together.
"All you have to do is become an actress, star in a few movies with me, and boom! Take a year off." Victoria laughed as she continued with her work. Seeing she was not taking him seriously, he sat forward, grabbing the towel from her hand. She looked up. "I'm serious! With me to help you and the connections I have, it wouldn't be long before you could be a star." Seeing her incredulous look, he added, "You're beautiful, Victoria. You could make it even without any help."
Again Victoria laughed, this time grabbing the towel back. "I'm no actress!" She set the towel to one side and stopped for a minute to look at him. "Do you know how long it's been since I've even thought about that?" When he just watched her, she got up and crossed over to where he sat. "I acted, if you can call it that, some in high school. You know, musicals and stuff. I was a singer, not a thespian." Recalling the past brought a smile to her lips. "True, I did a couple of plays in college but gave it up when I got married during my sophomore year."
"Well, there you go."
"What?" Victoria looked over at him as he took her in his arms and pulled her into his embrace.
"You gave it up for the wrong man."
"I didn't think he was the wrong man at the time," she teased. "Besides, I didn't want to live that life. Look at you . . ."
"What about me?"
"You never have a moment's rest. People are all over you when you're out in public and you struggle to maintain a private life. I don't want that."
"But you already have that with me." For some reason, Colin continued to push the issue. "It wouldn't be any different if you got into it yourself."
Victoria simply shook her head. "I told you once before, I'm not an actress. Besides, I'd rather sit back and watch you do all that. I'm perfectly happy being a silent supporter." To her relief, he gave it up for a while.
One of the first things he wanted to do during this year off was furnish the house he had just purchased. Victoria absolutely loved it! The first time she walked into it, it took her breath away. It was a two story stucco house with five bedrooms, four and a half baths, three living areas plus a huge bonus room that he was planning on converting into a screening room. It had a three car garage with a motor court and was approximately 5,524 square feet. The previous owner had spent a lot of time and money on the gardens and Colin loved them so he decided to leave well enough alone and hired a gardener for the upkeep. He wanted to hire a decorator for the interior and offered Victoria the chance to be involved with it. She quickly jumped at the chance and overtook the responsibility of turning the house into a home.
Victoria found a decorator by the name of Juan and fell in love with his taste for interior decorating; elegant, but comfortable. Colin had a taste for dark wood and metal, so some of that was incorporated into the scheme, but mostly in the study that was down the hall from his bedroom. The one thing she liked most about his study was the movie posters and memorabilia that decorated the walls. Every movie that he had been in, from his very first one to the two that continued to show at the theaters, were on the walls, and now Starstruck would grace the walls as well.
The house was spread out and in angular shapes. The front door was nestled under a two story covered entry with columns in the front. As you entered the house through the solid wood doors, you walked into the grand foyer that went all the way up. A balcony from the second story overlooked the foyer and a circular staircase was to the left. Behind that were Colin's rooms which included a small bath, his study, a hallway which acted as a gallery that lead into his bedroom and a huge private bath.
The bedroom had a door that walked out onto the newly built deck and swimming pool area. There was a small gas fireplace that opened in both Colin's bedroom and the connecting bath. The garden tub was on the other side of the fireplace. When Victoria saw it, her eyes lit up. It was one of the most romantic things about the whole house. There was a large shower built for two and double sinks, a separate area for the toilet and a huge walk-in closet with the center being shoe storage and built-in drawers.
You could go directly into the formal living room from the grand foyer or turn down another hallway/gallery to the right taking you into the rest of the house. There was a large formal dining room with bay windows and directly across from that was the kitchen. The kitchen was extra spacious with a floating island in the center and a bar that held the sink, dishwasher and cook top that looked over into the family room and breakfast nook without any visual obstructions. The built-in refrigerator and appliances had paneled fronts that matched the cabinets.
The family room had built-ins for a television, VCR, stereo and whatever else Colin might have. Beside that and catty corner, was a large marble fireplace. To the right of that, the hallway continued on into a guest bedroom and bath. Attached to it, was a one car garage. Colin said it would be convenient for guests to come and go even if he wasn't here.
On the other side of the formal dining room, there was another set of stairs, the laundry room and the two car garage. If you went up the circular staircase, it would take you to the balcony that overlooked the grand foyer and then led you into the remaining bedrooms, a playroom and Colin's future screening room. There was a craft room/sewing room up there as well that was used for storage for now.
Victoria, Colin and Juan spent a good six months decorating the house and putting in a swimming pool. When it was all said and done, she was in love with this house and, at the same time, devastated that it wasn't hers and Colin's together. They hadn't talked about moving in together and it bothered Victoria. She wasn't sure if she would if he asked, but it bothered her that he hadn't even brought it up. Those old familiar feelings of wondering if they would stay together always found a way of creeping back up when she was the happiest. She didn't understand why she just couldn't be happy and enjoy the times that they had together. She just knew that some day Colin would let his true feelings for Marisa out and she wanted to be prepared. She thought there was no room for dreaming about them staying together, much less ever living together! Not soon after that is when Victoria's worst fears came back to haunt her in a living nightmare, one she wasn't sure she'd ever awaken from!
The months she and Colin spent decorating his house were heaven for her. They got closer than she ever imagined. It felt like they belonged together, that they had been together forever. One night, after they had fallen exhausted on the couch in the family room after a day of decorating and shopping, reality hit her hard in the chest.
Colin had gone into the kitchen to get some glasses and chilled wine. There was a wet bar on the other side of the fireplace, but they hadn't gotten far enough in decorating and unpacking to set it up yet. As she waited, Victoria got up, turned on the ceiling fan and admired the artwork she had picked for this room. She and Colin shared a love for horses and they both liked some of the Southwest decor, so they had purchased some paintings by Beverly Doolittle, an artist made famous by hiding pictures within her pictures. They were either paint horses or Native American pictures. The one that hung above the fireplace looked like a woodsman on horseback with a pack horse following him as they were traveling through some white Birchwood trees. But if you looked closely, in the Birchwood trees were hidden four side portraits; three of eagles and the fourth a Native American brave. Victoria absolutely loved it. She looked at it one last time and then turned to go find what was holding Colin up, but the room was blocked by his frame in the doorway. He was holding out a glass of white wine and watching her face. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" he asked.
She took the glass of wine and turned, once again facing the painting. "I think so. It really makes the room doesn't it? Somehow, all put together, it belongs here." She walked over to the windows and looked out, taking a sip of the chilled wine. Directly in front was the deck and swimming pool, but over to the right were the gardens and a small water garden, her favorite in the whole landscaping scheme. As she stood there, she didn't hear him come, and then suddenly he was standing behind her, with his arms around her waist.
"You've done a fantastic job with the house, Vicky. I couldn't have done it without you." She felt his lips on the back of her neck and she smiled, anticipating another night of loving from him.
At that moment the phone rang and she turned in its direction. "Let the machine get it," he whispered in her ear, his breath hot on her flesh. She smiled a little smile and turned in his arms, her mouth eager to find his. Just as her lips touched his, the machine picked up and Victoria was shocked to hear Marisa's voice on the other end. The kiss ended abruptly as both of them turned toward the machine to listen. She was saying something about how she couldn't meet Colin tonight after all, that something had come up but to meet her tomorrow afternoon at their regular spot. As she continued talking about why she couldn't come, Victoria turned in Colin's arms to face him once again, her face startled and confused. As he turned to look at her, she saw the guilt and regret etched in his beautiful features and he didn't have to say anything, it was written clearly on his face. She didn't even give him a chance! Victoria quickly shoved away from him, taking him by surprise and picking up the closest thing to them and hurtling it towards his head. Lithely, he ducked. "Now, wait a minute Victoria!" He dove towards her, trying to grab the next object from her hand.
Suddenly she dropped it on the couch, determined not to lose total control. Up righting the glass of wine down her throat in one lithe motion, she stopped and stared, causing him to do the same. And then without another word, she set the glass down on the metal and glass table, strode toward the massive front doors, grabbed her purse, and opened the door. Immediately he was there, grabbing her arm. "Don't go, I'm begging."
"This house is not big enough for the three of us," she hissed through clenched teeth. "I will not come in second to anyone for anyone," and then looking at him, anger burning her eyes, "Not even for you!!" She slapped at his hand that blocked her way out, yelling, "I deserve more than this and I will not stick around to be trod over." She put her hands to her eyebrows, rubbing fiercely trying to block out his words. "I must have been an idiot!!"
"Vicky, it's not what you think!!" Victoria took another look at the house that they had decorated together so lovingly and remembered how they had even christened every single one of the rooms in the way they knew so well. Tears sprung to her eyes and she glared at him.
"How many times have you had her in this house?" Colin stepped back, shocked at this new onslaught. "Have you slept with her in the bed we bought together!?" She choked on her wanting to take him into her arms, forget what she had just heard and love him like he had never been loved before.
"Vicky, I swear to you . . ."
"To think I came all the way to Los Angeles to be treated this way." No! She knew she couldn't stay!! She had to go home, home to Texas; where she belonged. Colin reached out and touched her arm and felt her trembling. He led her gently to a chair and kneeling next to her, he stroked her hair tenderly, his eyes glowing like twin stars as he gazed into her face. "It's not what you think, Victoria. I swear it to you."
She stared at him. "I want to believe you, Colin."
"Marry me, Victoria," Colin blurted suddenly.
Her huge blue eyes grew even larger as she stared into his serious face. For a moment she was tempted to accept, but then she caught a glimpse of the answering machine's blinking light, and her heart gave a lurch of pain and regret. She shook her head sorrowfully. "No, Colin, I can't." She closed her eyes to shut out his mesmerizing gaze, and two fat tears slid out from beneath her lashes, rolling silently down her cheeks.
His fingers tenderly brushed them away. "Why not?" he whispered.
As she spoke, her voice cracked on a sob. "Why are you doing this to me?" It was the one thing Victoria wanted more than life itself, but she could not, would not marry a man who still yearned for another woman. She looked at him pleadingly, wanting so badly to throw herself into his arms and hold him tightly for all eternity. And then before she could change her mind, she jumped up and raced out of the door.
She didn't know how it happened, but Victoria wound up at Mark and Brad's townhouse, needing to talk to a friend desperately. Standing before the door in tears, she knocked on the door, praying that Brad was there. When the door opened, Victoria looked up into Mark's smiling face which quickly turned to concern as he saw her. "Victoria, what's wrong sweetie?"
She tried to smile at him but it came out as a grimace, and then suddenly she just stood there before him, as uncontrollable sobs racked her. Mark quickly reached out and pulled her into his arms before she dropped in front of him. She bowed her head onto his shoulder in despair. She felt as though she wouldn't survive this second loss in her life, not now, not Colin. As she agonized over what had happened, sobbing uncontrollably into his shoulder, she suddenly realized it was over. Mark gently smoothed her tangled auburn hair. Victoria looked up after a few moments, her face red and swollen, her eyes wild, and looked into Mark's eyes for answers to the questions she had, but he only nodded and whispered gently and took her into the house to sit on the couch.
It was fully half an hour before she could speak. Mark said nothing. He only sat there and rubbed her back gently and waited. There was nothing one could say. It cut him to the core to realize how badly Colin had hurt her once again. Victoria looked at him then, her face blotched, her eyes hideously bloodshot and swollen. "What am I going to do? Oh, god, Mark, I've lost him. And I love him . . ." She couldn't go on then, and Mark took her in his arms again, furious at Colin for the broken woman he held in his arms. After a few minutes, Victoria looked up and tried to smile bravely at him. "Thanks . . . for listening, Mark." She stopped and looked around the town house. "Where's Brad?" She sat up and wiped the tears from under her eyes.
"He's not here right now, Vicky." He watched her for a moment and then added, "I know we aren't as close as you and Brad, but I'm here for you." Victoria smiled and reached out to take his hand in hers.
"Mark, you've hidden your true colors for too long. You have a wonderful ear and I appreciate you being so understanding. Not many guys would just sit there and let me go ballistic."
"I'm not just any guy," he said, taking her hand in his. "Victoria, I know you probably don't want to hear this." She watched him as he turned serious, his eyes searching her own. "But, I'm surprised you didn't learn your lesson at Millennium earlier this summer." Victoria looked at him in surprise and then found him to be very reasonable. She found herself drawn to his concern for her. "Colin's not the type of guy to settle down and I've been afraid this has been a long time in coming."
"Mark . . ." She patted his hand, intent on settling any fear he might have. He interrupted her quickly.
"I don't want to see you hurt, Vicky. I know this isn't the time for it, but you mean the world to me." She could only stare at him in disbelief and surprise. "Colin will only break your heart in the end, if he hasn't done it already."
Tears glistened in her eyes as she leaned into him and hugged him. "Thank you, Mark. I know you're only trying to help and I appreciate that. You're a good friend."
"Victoria, you mean more to me than just a friend," he said, gently touching her cheek with his hand and then pulling away, afraid that she might take it wrong.
"Mark, you're right about one thing. This is the wrong time to bring this up. "She stood up and crossed over to the sliding glass door that went out onto the back patio, but, she silently mused, Mark was a man to inflame a woman's blood ... if she wasn't so in love with Colin, right or wrong. Strange, she had not thought about him this way before, perhaps because he was right here taking care of her during this great time of hurt. Or was it his piercing gaze?
He crossed over to where she stood and even though he didn't touch her, Victoria could feel his presence. "Sweetie, I know you're hurting and right now you probably feel like you could never love again. All I'm asking is that you give me a chance to prove my feelings for you."
"Mark . . ." Victoria couldn't go on. She turned to face him. He was a temptation to her, a temptation that she didn't need at this time. Hurt by Colin, she needed touching, holding, kissing, and caring. Mark seemed willing to do it for her. She looked at him, his piercing brown eyes searching hers.
"Ever since the first time I met you, I knew that we'd be together," he whispered. "I know you're hurt, but give me a chance and I'll prove to you that it won't happen again. I'll never break your heart and make you cry the way Colin has." This time, he drew her into his embrace, her head resting on his chest, "I know you're afraid to let your feelings show and I understand, but maybe it's time to move on. I'd rather die than let him continue to hurt you, Victoria."
As much as she hated to, she broke their embrace gently, touching Mark's cheek with her fingers, saying, "Mark, I can't. Not now . . ." She smiled and then said, "I've got to go."
As she walked towards the door, he grabbed hold of her hand and said, "I don't know why he does what he does, but I'm here for you, Victoria. I wish I could take away everything that's happened. If you were my girl . . ."
She gently placed a finger to his lips, saying, "Don't Mark. I appreciate what you're saying, but I can't do this right now. I hope you understand." And then she leaned into him, kissing him on the cheek and left.
That night at home in her own apartment, dreams plagued Victoria. Dreams of Marisa and Colin and even dreams of Mark. In her dream, Mark was holding her, consoling her. As she stood in his embrace, he kissed her ear, whispering words of reassurance. As she stepped back to watch him, his image wavered and then dissolved into the image of Brad. His keen gaze traveled over her lovely features, reflecting an immense satisfaction in watching her. It was as if he had the power to mesmerize her with those entrancing green eyes, for Victoria couldn't pull her gaze from his or think clearly.