Seven Days Ch. 03bysoular©
The routine for Nic and Victoria stayed constant over the next few days. They spoke as little as possible to each other in the mornings, had phenomenal sex by night, spat words of hate before he left, and then they repeated the events the next day.
Victoria was so confused. If she could magically make seventy grand appear out of thin air, she wouldn't keep one cent. She'd throw that entire amount in his face, and stomp out.
But she had more pressing things on her mind. Next month's rent would be due soon, and she didn't have a single dime to contribute to her parents. What a crazy web she had woven. This had been the longest she had ever gone without working since she was thirteen, and at times it bothered her. She felt useless.
She sighed and placed the book she had been reading down on the table when she heard a knock at the door. She prayed it wasn't Nic. She just didn't have the energy to deal with him at the moment. Funny how much work it took to ignore someone.
She got up and looked through the peephole. Raymond, thank God. She had become used to his humorless presence. He was definitely a man of few words. Her car rides back and forth from the loft to Nic's mansion were usually composed of her humming or talking. She used to think she was mainly talking to herself, because Raymond never turned around to ask her any questions, or give her any reason to believe he had been paying attention. Until one day she had forgotten her place in a story she was telling him, and he repeated the last things she had just said. Victoria sat there, just staring at the back of his head, absolutely amazed. Then she tried to quickly scan her memory over the past few days for anything she could have said negative about Nic, praying Raymond hadn't told anything.
Victoria smiled at Raymond as she let him in. But before she could close the door, a small woman stepped in behind him. She looked...like no one Victoria had ever seen before. She had two huge bags in her hands, and her eyelids had several bright colors of eye shadow on them. Her hair was a whitish blond color that was almost shaved on one side, but hung in a funky style on the other. And she was wearing a strange jumpsuit.
"Hi Victoria, I'm Minka. I'm here to handle your dress, hair and make-up," the young girl said, smiling brightly at Victoria.
"What? Dress, hair and make-up for what?" Victoria questioned, looking back and forth between Raymond and Minka.
Raymond answered, "Mr. Andretti would like you to get ready. That's all I can tell you, Ms. Victoria."
Victoria nodded her head. She should be used to Raymond's cryptic messages by now. "Alright. Um, I guess you can follow me back to the bedroom," she said to Minka. Victoria noticed Raymond standing stiffly by the door. Victoria sighed, "Raymond, he's not here. You can sit on the couch and relax. I think there's a game on tonight anyway."
She saw Raymond hesitate for a moment, but then he relaxed and walked over to the couch to sit down.
Victoria walked down the hallway as she heard the TV turn on. She smiled to herself. Raymond wasn't half bad. Just a bit stiff.
Victoria took a quick shower as Minka laid out all of her make-up and accessories.
"Okay, this is the dress he'd like you wear. It's gorgeous, don't you think?" Minka said, as Victoria got out and dried off.
Victoria stared at the dress. It was amazing. It was an exact replica of the white Seven Year Itch dress that Marilyn Monroe had worn...except this one was blood red. She had seen the movie a few years ago on one of her rare free days off. She had gone to a two dollar theater near her family's apartment that played old movies. They were playing all Marilyn movies that weekend, so she stayed and watched three of them. Anything to stay away from her apartment. Her mom and dad weren't exactly a blast to hang around.
Minka helped Victoria carefully fit into the dress. "Oh my, this is to die for on you! You have an amazing body. I can't believe he got the measurements right. When he came to me, he had to use his hands to describe your height and physical measurements," Minka said, smoothing down the material. Then she giggled. "He said you reminded him of a black Marilyn Monroe."
If it could come through her skin...Victoria was definitely blushing. She thought she was okay, but in her mind, she wasn't all that. And she blushed even harder at the thought that Nic had described every portion of her body to this stranger. Even if she was a friendly stranger.
"Um, thanks. I...I've never worn something so beautiful before," Victoria said, staring at herself in the mirror. Minka quickly worked on her makeup and accessories. They chose to let the plunging neckline speak for itself, so the only jewelry she wore was a pair of diamond earrings. Minka said that Nic had given her specific instructions regarding her makeup. He wanted it subtle. Nothing heavy. But when it came to her hair, Nic hadn't given her any direction.
"Hmm...do you mind if I straighten it and loosely pin it up?" Minka asked, while staring at her thick, curly raven hair.
"You're the expert. I trust you," Victoria said, smiling at the young girl in the mirror. She just didn't trust Nic. What had he planned for her tonight?
On the ride over, Victoria was nervous. She wasn't sure what to expect. When they pulled into the driveway, Victoria couldn't believe her eyes. She saw several men and women getting out of their expensive cars, and waiting on the valet. Raymond drove past Mercedes, BMWs, Bentleys and every other expensive car she could think of. She shook her head as she thought about the fact that one could run a small corporation from the money that was put into these vehicles.
When the car finally pulled up to the steps, Raymond hopped out and opened the door for Victoria. She flashed him a smile as she slowly ascended the steps leading into Nic's house. She was suddenly nervous as classical music filled her ears and the lights became brighter. Raymond escorted her down the main hall into a large ballroom area. Jesus, how big was his house?
Inside, she saw several people dressed to the nines. Some stopped to stare at her before they turned their attention back to their conversations. Raymond excused himself while she searched around the room looking for Nic, but she didn't spot him. She walked over to a long narrow table, which was lined with all sorts of appetizers. She didn't know what was what, but they looked really delicious and she was starving.
"Can I help you?"
Victoria looked up at the young guy staring at her with a smile spread across his face. "Um, I'm not sure what I'd like. Could you suggest something?"
"Sure. Try this," the young guy said, placing a small appetizer onto a plate and handing it to her. "Trust me, it's really good. One hundred percent Italian...as am I," he continued, with a wink.
Victoria laughed at his open flirtation, and placed the small bite in her mouth. Damn, that really was good. Really good. "Thank you," she said once she finally swallowed the delicious food.
Victoria didn't really know anyone else there, other than Nic, Jimmy and Raymond, and they were nowhere in sight. So, she decided to stand by the table with her new 'friend'.
"My name is Antonio, by the way," he said, extending his hand to her.
"Victoria. Nice to meet you."
"Likewise," he said, giving her a once over. "You don't seem like the normal fare at these events."
"Excuse me?" Victoria said, raising her voice slightly. What the hell was that supposed to mean? What, she didn't fit in with the wealthy?
"Hey, I meant no harm. That was actually a compliment. You don't seem like the regular girls I see here. You know, high maintenance, stuffed and pulled, evil stare...the works. Like her," Antonio said, pointing to the tall blond that was gracefully entering the ballroom. The blond may have been all of those things Antonio just mentioned, but she was still gorgeous. And extremely tall.
Victoria looked down at her dress and smoothed it with her hands. She knew Antonio meant no offense, but she decided to play hurt anyway. "So, if I don't look high maintenance, then I must look LOW maintenance, right?"
"What?! No! I didn't mean that. It's just that you're standing over here with me, instead of flaunting your diamonds and dress in front of everyone else. You just don't seem like one of them. That's a good thing. You actually seem more like...well, I mean, more like a girl I would date."
Victoria turned to stare at him. He was definitely cute. His black hair was slicked back and he had tiny studs in both of his ears, a thin straight nose and light brown eyes. Yes, he was definitely handsome. He wasn't as tall as Nic, but he was still taller than she was and in good shape. She had to laugh to herself. She had gone most of her life surrounded predominantly by blacks, Koreans and Puerto Ricans...and now she couldn't go three feet without bumping into some Italian guy.
"I mean, not saying you would date a guy like me, but...okay, gonna shut up now," Antonio said, slightly blushing. Victoria smiled and turned her attention back to the crowd.
Nic was over in a corner, sipping on his drink and trying his best to pay attention to some of the men talking around him. Mostly they were talking business. He knew that's why he threw these parties, but tonight, he really didn't feel like it. Earlier, Raymond had come to tell him that Victoria was here, but he scanned the room and didn't see her. He wanted to know what she looked like in her dress. He had dreamt about it. Fuck, he needed to get his shit together.
"Oh, shit," Jimmy whispered. Nic looked at him, and followed his eye line. Fuck. Amber was walking toward them as if she were a model on a catwalk. Her long blond hair bounced as she made a straight line for Nic.
"Hi Nic," she said, faking a smile as she reached their group.
"Amber," Nic said, trying his best to be cordial to his wife. But he didn't trust her smile. She wasn't happy unless she was being mean.
"Funny, how you forgot to invite your own wife to your party," she said, staring at him.
"I didn't forget," Nic said, as he took another sip of his drink. The comment didn't go over Amber's head. She narrowed her eyes at him.
"Hey Jimmy, how are you?" she asked, turning to rest her arm around his neck, as she scanned the ballroom.
"Well, I'm--," Jimmy started, before she interrupted him.
"Who's that?" Amber asked, while staring toward the food table.
They all turned to see who she was talking about, but no one said anything.
"Well, who did she come with?" Amber asked, turning back around to face them.
"She came with me," Jimmy and Raymond blurted out at the same time. Shit.
Amber looked from Jimmy to Raymond, before her icy blue eyes settled on Nic. He was the only one who hadn't claimed her, yet he was still staring over toward her. When he finally turned to look at Amber, she gave him a smug smile before she flicked her hair and walked away.
Victoria walked out onto the patio and stared out into the back yard. It was such a beautiful night, and the lights lit up the landscape. She would rather stay out here than go back into the stuffy party. She couldn't have felt more out of place.
"Lovely night," Victoria heard a voice say behind her, interrupting her thoughts. She quickly turned and saw an older man with salt and pepper colored hair walking toward her. He stopped and leaned against the patio rails.
"Yes, it is," Victoria answered back, staring up at the sky.
"I'm Paul Marcone," the older man said, while offering his hand.
"Victoria," she said, staring into the man's kind eyes. He lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed the back of it. "Pleasure to meet you."
Victoria tried to hide a smile. No one had ever done that to her before.
"Speaking of pleasure, are you here for business or pleasure?"
"Business, I think."
"Can I ask what business?" Paul inquired. But when Victoria looked away, he added, "Forgive me, I didn't mean to pry."
"No, it's not that. It's just that it's embarrassing," she admitted.
"Then say no more."
Victoria smiled up at Paul. He reminded her of someone, but she couldn't place it. He had gentle eyes. Such a contrast to Nic's cold stare.
"I married my wife on a night like this. I know, I'm Catholic, I'm supposed to be traditional...but she wanted a night wedding, and she seemed to be the only person who always got what she wanted from me," he said with a light chuckle. Then he sighed. Victoria could tell he was thinking about her.
"Wow. I never really thought about a night wedding, but that actually sounds really romantic. Your wife is a lucky woman, considering you caved," Victoria said, smiling at him.
"Nah, I was the lucky one," Paul said. "She actually passed away last year."
Victoria's heart went out to him. She didn't even know him, but in their brief conversation, she could tell that he loved and missed his wife. Just the way he spoke of her. The look in his eyes. God, would anyone ever feel that way about her?
"I'm sorry," Victoria whispered.
"Thank you. I do miss her, but I have my wonderful son to keep me plenty busy," Paul stated, with a hint of sarcasm. "Speaking of my son, here he comes now."
Victoria turned toward the patio doors just as Sonny was walking out. She had to quickly hide her look of disgust. How the hell was this nice man related to this bastard?
"Hey pops. Well, well...hey Victoria. How ya been?" Sonny said, smirking at her, before lowering his gaze to her cleavage.
"Oh, I didn't know you two knew each other," Paul said, staring at his son skeptically.
"Oh yeah, Victoria and I go way back. Actually, she owes me a McLaren Roadster," he said with a wink.
The bastard would be so slimy to bring this up in front of his father. God, she wanted to kick him in the nuts! Just when she was finally feeling good about herself, one sentence from him could tear her down and make her feel cheap all over again.
"I don't owe you anything, Sonny. Perhaps you shouldn't make bets with someone you know will beat you every time," Victoria said.
She watched his face as his smile dropped. She figured that losing to Nic was something that happened more than he'd like to admit. Then just as soon as it had disappeared, he gave her an evil grin.
"Careful little Vicky. Getting a little high and mighty..." then he leaned close to her ear, "for someone who lies on her back constantly."
If Paul Marcone hadn't been standing there, she would have smacked the shit out of him. Right then and there. He didn't know anything about her! None of these people did. They could assume all they wanted, but she was a hard working, good person. She had never dreamt of doing anything remotely close to what she had done for the past few days. They were judging her on less than two weeks time, instead of the past twenty-three years.
Sonny leaned up and smiled, now that he had gotten the best of her. "Well pops, I think we're needed inside for some quick business. Have a good night, Victoria," Sonny said, and turned to walk back inside.
"So nice meeting you, Victoria...?" Paul said.
"Davis. Victoria Davis. Nice meeting you too."
"Ms. Davis. Thank you for giving this old man the joy of flirting with the prettiest young woman in the room." He smiled and followed his son. Well, perhaps the dress was a hit tonight. She watched him walk away, right as the tall blond that Antonio pointed out sauntered toward her in her beautiful dark blue dress. No doubt Versace or something like that.
"Hi, I don't believe we've met. I'm Amber Andretti," she said, as she stared down at her. The woman smiled, but it never reached her eyes.
"Hi. I'm Victoria. Andretti...are you Nic's sister?" Victoria took in the woman's height and eye color. They could definitely be related.
Amber threw her head back and laughed. Victoria didn't know what she had said that was so funny, but she smiled out of lack of anything else to do.
"You're so cute. But no, I'm his wife," she said, smile completely gone. It was replaced by an evil look, as she placed her slender, perfectly manicured hand on her hip.
Victoria was stunned, and she was sure the expression she had on her face was priceless. She quickly closed her mouth. His wife?! He was married!! And doing what he was doing with her! She suddenly felt sick to her stomach. Then she quickly put two and two together...and she remembered what Sonny had said a few days ago. 'Whoa! That's definitely not Amber.' How much of a fool had she probably looked to all of the men in the room that day? Ugh, she hated Nic right then.
"So...how is it you know my husband?" Amber asked, boring her gaze into Victoria.
"I don't really," Victoria quickly recovered. She wasn't about to let this woman intimidate her. If she and Nic were having marriage problems, she needed to take it up with him. Not her.
"Then why are you here?"
"I was invited."
Victoria wanted to say none of her business, but that would be too much of a giveaway. So instead, she thought of another name. "Antonio. He's the guy serving the appetizers. Over there," Victoria said, pointing to the table. But Amber never took her cold eyes off of her. Instead they slid down to Victoria's chest.
"Are those real?" she asked.
"What?!" Victoria coughed out. What was it with this chick?
"Your tits, are they real? I see so many fake ones that they are so easy to spot. But yours look real."
"Um, yes, they are real."
"Nic likes real," Amber stated.
Both of them stood there for a moment, uncomfortably. Then Amber laughed. "He was so pissed when I got mine done. He said he would have rather they been small and real, than fake and big. But whatever, they made me happy. All that matters, right?"
Victoria doubted that Amber actually wanted a reply, so instead, she kept her mouth shut.
Amber gave her another once over. "That's a beautiful dress. Where did you get it?"
"I don't know. It's not mine."
Amber gave an evil grin. "It looks like this dress that I saw at one of my favorite stores. This French boutique that's to die for. All of their designer clothes are imported from Paris. It's a tad expensive...but that's also why I like it. What are the odds that you would have a dress from my favorite store? The only store on the entire east coast," Amber said, scanning over Victoria's body. Letting her words sink in.
Victoria shrugged feeling more and more uncomfortable by the moment. No more words were needed for either woman to know exactly who the other was to Nic. Victoria NEVER wanted to be that woman. The woman who sleeps with married men. She felt so humiliated. Every mistress's worst nightmare, meeting the wife. Mistress. Is that what she was?
"Come, you must meet Nic...since this is his house and all. Would be rude not to thank the host."
Amber grabbed Victoria's hand and practically drug her over to Nic's group before she could even protest.
"Hey darling, look who I found. This is Victoria. I don't believe you two have met." All eyes around the group went back and forth from Amber to Victoria. "Funny though, you guys said she came with you...yet she said her date was Anthony...or Adrian, something like that. The waiter over there," Amber pointed out.
Nic couldn't help but look over toward Antonio. He felt an instant pang of jealousy that Victoria would claim that prick as her date. In truth, he didn't really know the kid, but he better not dare touch her. Nic wasn't sure why he was thinking so possessively of her, but fuck it, she was with him—end of story.
"How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?" Amber said, dragging everyone's attention back to Victoria.
Victoria exhaled. "Twenty-three."