Seven Days Ch. 08bysoular©
Jimmy sat patiently on the couch in Nic's office as Nic dialed Victoria again. The first time she didn't pick up. Jimmy tossed another pecan in his mouth and wiped his hands. He and his wife were supposed to be going to dinner with the new couple as soon as Victoria got off work. He glanced back over at Nic and waited.
"There you are. What time do you think you'll be here?" Nic asked.
Jimmy watched as Nic's brow furrowed.
"What do you mean, you don't know? I thought you were going to leave early?" he questioned.
Nic slowly sat down, and Jimmy saw a blank expression come across his features. Something Nic was hearing was obviously a problem of some kind. "Victoria...what happened?" Nic asked.
Then Nic's face turned white. Pale white. Jimmy rose and walked over to the desk. What the hell was going on? Nic leaned over the desk and covered his face with his hand as he listened to whatever Victoria was saying.
"Are you okay?" Nic asked Victoria, as he glanced up at Jimmy, who mouthed 'What's wrong?', but Nic didn't answer. He just told Victoria he'd be there in a few minutes and hung up the phone. But now that pasty tint that had covered his features was slowly fading away...or actually turning into a bright scarlet color while his breath quickened.
"Nic, what happened?" Jimmy asked, staring at the unreadable expression on Nic's face. It wasn't often that Jimmy couldn't read his best friend. "Is Victoria okay?"
"Someone shot at her," Nic quietly said, as he grabbed his keys from the desktop. "Someone shot at..." He heard Nic whisper again, but more to himself.
Jimmy watched closely, as Nic stood there for a moment, bracing his knuckles on the desk so hard that all the color was draining from them.
"Nic?" Jimmy softly said, before everything on Nic's desk went flying off to the floor in a loud crash.
"Mother—fuckers!!!" Nic yelled, as he rushed around his desk and out of the office. Jimmy ran after him trying to keep up, as Nic took the steps four at a time.
"Raymond! We have to go!" Jimmy hollered over his shoulder, as Nic tore out of the front door.
Raymond quickly dropped his plate of food and ran out of the kitchen, no questions asked.
Nic couldn't breathe. They shot at her?! Someone actually fucking shot at her?! Tried to kill her?! He was trying his best to keep cool. Half of his brain was telling him to remain calm, get to the restaurant, assess the situation and go from there. The other side of his mind was racking up anyone one who had ever crossed him so he could kill them. Painfully.
Raymond had slipped behind the driver's wheel of the Escalade, while Nic was in the passenger's seat and Jimmy in the back. When they pulled out onto the road, heading toward Calamity's, Jimmy asked, "What are you thinking, Nic?"
Nic didn't answer. His mind was still racing. He had to gain control and get his mind focused.
"Nic, you do realize that place is going to be swarming with cops, right?" Jimmy asked. He sighed when Nic didn't answer. Nic just continued to stare ahead through the windshield.
Raymond slowed down as they pulled up on the opposite side of Calamity's, to an onslaught of black and white police cars. "Nic, I'll go. There's no point in risking it," Jimmy suggested, as he opened up his door.
"No. I'm going," Nic stated, looking around for Victoria.
"Nic, I know you're upset, but—," Jimmy started, before Nic interrupted.
"Upset, huh?" Nic said, as he continued to stare out of his window looking for the object of his affection. "I don't think upset covers what I'm feeling right now, Jimmy." When he finally spotted Victoria, he got out of the car and slammed the door.
"I told you, I'm not sure. I didn't see the car. I dropped my phone and was looking down when I first heard the shots," Victoria recounted for the third time to a different cop. She was exhausted, shaken and just wanted to be with Nic.
"I understand you're tired ma'am, but we need to get this information while it's fresh on your mind. Now can you tell me again what time you were walking out of the restaurant," the police officer asked, while looking down at his notepad.
Victoria sighed. "I think it was—"
"Are you okay?" Nic asked, as he spun her around and glanced over her body as if she needed medical attention. Victoria immediately latched onto him wrapping her arms around his waist and burying her head into his chest. Her whole body began to shake and she started sobbing. He pulled his coat open, and encased her inside with him as he kissed the top of her head several times. She knew her tears and makeup were probably ruining his expensive shirt, but she just couldn't let go.
"Nicolas Andretti the fourth...long time, no see," Nic heard a familiar voice say. Fuck. He turned around to see his suspicions confirmed. Detective Marsh was staring at him with that damn smug smile that Nic always wanted to knock right off his face. Marsh had been promoted the day Nic's father died. He remembered seeing him standing in the distance at his father's private funeral. The bastard had been following him closely throughout the years and just never seemed to really go away.
"Marsh," Nic stated dryly.
Victoria sniffled and peeked her head out from under Nic's coat. She wanted to see who this Marsh guy was. He was a skinny man who had blond hair, but was graying. And prematurely from the look of his young face.
"Her name is Victoria Davis, sir," the police officer who had been questioning her said.
"Miss Davis. How do you know my good friend, Nic?" Marsh asked, smiling down at her.
Victoria didn't know much about what Nic did, but she wasn't about to open her mouth and tell this man anything. But luckily she didn't have to. Nic started guiding her towards his car.
"Hold up a second Nic, we weren't done questioning her," Marsh said.
"Yes you were," Nic said over his shoulder.
"Don't forget who you're talking to, Nic. Wanna take a trip downtown?" Marsh warned.
Nic stopped and turned toward Marsh. "You want to try?" Nic countered, staring the man down.
Victoria wasn't sure what to do. She sure as hell didn't want to get on any cops shit-list, but Nic appeared to be done with the conversation. She glanced back and forth between the two men, while trying to wipe her eyes and nose.
Detective Marsh's smug smile reappeared. "Well, I guess there's no reason to--if you haven't done anything wrong, now is there?" he said.
Nic turned back around and ushered Victoria across the street, towards the Escalade.
"Don't go too far Miss Davis. I'd still like to ask you a few questions regarding the incident today," Victoria heard Detective Marsh ask in the distance.
Jimmy had transferred to the front seat, while Nic opened the door and guided Victoria into the backseat. He held her close to his body, with his arms wrapped protectively around her. But no one said a word. Raymond rarely ever said much of anything. Jimmy wasn't sure what to say. Victoria was too tired to utter another word and Nic was too busy thinking about what his next step was to talk to anyone. So they traveled in silence all the way back to Nic's house.
Victoria winced in pain from trying to pry her puffy eyes open. She sat up in Nic's bed and pushed her wild curls from her face. She glanced at the night stand for the time. 10 pm. She sighed. All the images from earlier that day came flashing back. The loud noise, screams and shattering glass. She was praying that it was just a nightmare, but she knew that wishful thinking was all in vain. But just as suddenly as those visions had come, Victoria couldn't breathe. She quickly grabbed her chest and forced herself to take deep gulps of air to calm her breathing.
She finally composed herself, walked out of the room and down the long hallway. When she reached Nic's office door she was about to knock when she heard Nic's voice, more animated than she had ever heard before. She cracked the door open and saw Jimmy and Nic arguing.
"Nic, all I'm saying is you don't know for sure that Sonny did this. It could have been a number of people," Jimmy said.
"No. I know it was him," Nic declared, with his hands locked behind his head as he paced back and forth. Victoria observed him. He too, looked exhausted.
"But what if it wasn't, I mean--,"
"It was," Nic contradicted.
"They shot at her, Jimmy! They fucking mowed down the front of her workplace to get to her. If you think I'm going to let them have a second chance, then fuck you," Nic said, walking around to his desk. He sat down and laid his forehead against the cool, flat wood.
'Shot at her?' Victoria thought. What the fuck? It was a drive-by shooting, they weren't targeting her. Why would someone want to kill her? Victoria remained silent, listening outside the door.
"You see, that's what I mean. You said 'they'...who's 'they', Nic? You have to be certain before you go accusing another mob boss's son of something like that. Just use your head."
Victoria pushed the door open and walked in.
Nic glanced up at the door when Victoria entered. Her eyes seemed weak and still glassy from her crying herself to sleep.
"Nic, Jimmy's right. Those people could have been aiming at anyone. I mean, they shot at the entire restaurant," Victoria said, glancing back and forth between both men.
Nic sighed and smiled up at her. "How did you sleep?"
"Alright. Are you okay?"
"Not really," Nic answered honestly. "How about you go grab yourself something to eat and let Jimmy and I finish up here. I'll join you in a moment."
"But Nic, I probably should call that guy back, the police officer that was asking all those questions," Victoria suggested. She watched as Nic just shook his head.
"No, I'll take care of this. You gave your statement and you're done. You don't remember anything else as far as they're concerned, okay?"
Victoria placed a hand on her hip. "What do you mean you'll take care of it? I'm sure the police will find the people in no time."
"I don't want the police to find the people. I want to find them so I can question them myself. Ask who hired them."
"What? Nic, leave this to the cops. Let them do their jobs."
"Victoria—go eat. I'll join you later," Nic commanded.
"Victoria! End of discussion," Nic said, narrowing his eyes at her. She just didn't understand that he didn't want her involved in this any more than she already was.
"No, don't start that with me. It's NOT the end of the discussion! What are you planning to do?" Victoria asked.
Nic sighed. "Victoria, the less you know about me and what I do, the better for you. You can't give anyone any information if you don't know it, now can you? And that's the way I want to keep it. I don't want you getting in trouble or having to lie for me."
"Do you really think it was Sonny?"
"Yes," Nic answered. He heard Jimmy exhale noisily.
Nic got up from his desk and walked over to Victoria. She was standing there staring at the ground and shaking her head.
"I don't understand," she whispered to him, before he leaned down to capture her lips.
"I need you to do something for me," Nic said, sliding his hand through her thick curls. She looked up at him, her eyes already starting to glass over again.
"I need you to go away for a little while. Just a short time until I can get all of this handled."
"Victoria, I'm not asking you. I'm telling you."
"I don't want to leave you. Plus, I have a job. The insurance company is fixing the windows tonight, so we are returning to work tomorrow."
"No, you're not. I'll talk to your manager and--," Nic tried to say, while Victoria shook her head back and forth like a child.
"No, I'm not going to let someone scare me into--," Victoria started, until Nic grabbed her head with both of his hands and forced her to look up at him.
"This isn't a fucking game, Victoria. This is real. This is serious. This hit was set up to look like gang violence. But trust me, this wasn't some gangbanger with a grudge. And I can't think straight if I'm worried about your safety every second. Your bags should be arriving her in a few more minutes, then you leave."
"What? My bags?"
"Yes. I didn't want you going back to your apartment to do it, so I had Minka and Raymond pack you some clothes. Jimmy will escort you to another location," Nic said.
Victoria pushed herself from Nic's grasp and back toward the door. "When did you do all this? And what made you think I was going to go?"
"While you were sleeping and I knew you would be going because it was never going to be a negotiation," Nic stated matter-of-fact.
Victoria scoffed. Perhaps he had a point, but this was all happening too sudden. Her life was being uprooted for what could possibly be nothing at all. Maybe she could play the emotional card. "But I love you and I don't want to go."
"I love you too, and that's the only reason I'm sending you away. Trust me, it will make sense when you get there," Nic said. He quickly glanced down at his cell phone and then back to Victoria. "Raymond's here. It's time for you to go."
In the car ride on the way to...well, wherever she was going, Victoria thought of her morning. She had woken up, had a big bowl of cereal and then went into work. Never in a million years would she have thought her day would turn out this way. One minute she's separating the marshmallows from the other bits of cereal in her bowl, the next she's caught in the middle of some mob war. Life was indeed strange. Jimmy had told her to go to sleep if she could, because they had a long way ahead of them. Her eyelids were heavy, and although she protested, she was asleep in no time.
Jimmy glanced in his rearview mirror at Victoria. She had her head resting against the window and her eyes were shut. She was definitely a beautiful girl. And one of the sweetest people he had ever met. He really hated that she was going through this and he couldn't imagine what Nic must be feeling. No one had ever tried to hurt Jimmy's family. Ever. He hoped that Sonny wasn't involved. Because if he was, that would mean Paul Marcone would have to get involved, and this would be the beginning of something truly ugly.
After a few more hours of driving and one gas stop, Jimmy turned onto the familiar street that led to an iron gate. He punched in the code and drove down the long driveway.
Victoria's head bobbled against the glass, waking her up. She quickly wiped her eyes as she stared out of the window. Everything was pitch black except for a faint light above the door of a two-story house.
Jimmy parked the car and hopped out to open Victoria's door.
"Where are we?" she asked, right as the front door opened.
Out stepped a thin, beautiful woman with a nice tan. She had long wavy black hair and a wide smile. Victoria turned to look at Jimmy, but he was getting her bags from the trunk. She tried to go help him, but he pushed her toward this beautiful stranger. Victoria sighed and cautiously walked closer, when she noticed bright blue eyes. Eyes she'd seen a million times. 'Oh my God,' Victoria thought. This was Nic's mother. No doubt about it. Victoria immediately became nervous. She quickly smoothed her shirt down, trying to look somewhat presentable after hours asleep in a car.
"Oh my God, Jimmy, look at her! She's beautiful!" the smiling woman said, while staring in Victoria's direction. 'Well, that's a promising start,' Victoria told herself, as she moved closer to the house.
"Hi Victoria, I'm Nic's mother, Marianna," she said.
"Hi Mrs. Andretti, nice to--," Victoria said, before she was ambushed with a huge hug.
"Oh, don't you dare start with the Mrs. Andretti crap. It's Marianna, you hear!" she said, squeezing Victoria tightly. When she finally released her hold, she scooted Victoria into the house, almost closing the door on Jimmy.
"Jeez, Marianna. What am I, chopped liver?" Jimmy joked, as he placed the bags on the floor and quickly hugged her.
"Oh, you know I love you. I'm just so excited to finally meet her. I mean, I hate it's under these circumstances," Marianna admitted, shaking her head. "But even still, I'm so glad you're here," she said looking in Victoria's direction.
Victoria wasn't quite sure what to do, but she was making a mental note to herself to curse Nic out for not warning her that she'd be meeting his mom.
"Well, I guess I'm glad to be here—I mean I'm glad to meet you," Victoria said, nervously looking around.
"And you must be hungry. How could you not be? Come," Marianna said, winking her eye, as she quickly marched down the hallway.
Victoria followed Marianna to the kitchen. "Can I help you with anything?" Victoria asked, looking around the large designer kitchen that looked as though it belonged on some fancy cooking show.
"Absolutely not! Sit down and rest yourself. My Nic says you're a waitress. That means you spend all day serving people...well let me serve you. Jimmy, get in here!" Marianna yelled in a slightly Italian tinged Northern accent, while opening the fridge and removing several dishes.
"I'm coming, I'm coming," Jimmy yelled, bursting through the kitchen doors. "Now you see where Nic gets it from," Jimmy whispered to Victoria. She covered her mouth and tried not to laugh.
"Isabelle and the children are well, si?" Marianna asked, as she warmed up two plates packed full of food.
"They're good. I have her staying at her mother's until all of this blows over," Jimmy answered.
Victoria looked at Jimmy. His wife and kids were hiding out too...all because of her? And now Nic's mom was having to take her in. She felt like shit. She tried to stop the first two tears that dropped, but then she couldn't quiet her soft sob. She felt Jimmy squeeze her hand. "It's okay, Vicky."
"Why are you crying, cara mia?" Marianna asked, rushing to Victoria's side, placing her arm around her.
"I'm sorry—I just—I didn't mean for this to happen. I feel like I'm imposing on you, and Jimmy had to send his family away—all because of me. I feel awful," Victoria admitted, trying to wipe away her tears.
"Don't you dare feel that way! This is not your fault. Not at all. You can't help the fact that there are crazy people in this world," Marianna said, grasping her tighter.
"It's not your fault, Vicky. And no one is blaming you," Jimmy added. He glanced down at his vibrating cell phone. "Oh shit."
"Che cosa?" Marianna asked, walking back to the kitchen to retrieve their food.
"I forgot to call Nic to tell him we had arrived," he exhaled. He clicked open the phone. "Hey--yeah, we're here, I forg—I know, I know, I'm sorry. But we're here now--yeah, hold on," he said as he passed the phone to Victoria.
"Hello?" she said, wiping at her tears. "Are you okay? Why are you crying?" Nic rushed out.
"Yes, I'm fine. I just feel bad that everyone is having to do things because of me."
"That's not your fault," she heard him say.
"I know, your mother already said that."
"I love you, get some rest and pass the phone to my mom," Nic said.
"I love you too," Victoria whispered, before she passed the phone to Marianna. "He wants to speak with you."
"Mio figlio!" Victoria heard Marianna say, as she walked back into the kitchen, and proceeded to talk to Nic in Italian. So much for eavesdropping.
"How long do you think I'll have to be here, Jimmy?" Victoria whispered.
"I'm not sure. Hopefully no more than a few days. Why, is Marianna already getting on your nerves," Jimmy smiled.
"No! No, I mean, she's great as far as I can tell. She's so friendly. It's just that I miss Nic already. And I'm sure you miss your family."
Jimmy patted her on the back. "It should only take a few days to get everything sorted out, and then it should all go back to normal."