Together, Forever! Ch. 13bysimply_cyn©
When Brad awoke the next morning, he reached over for Victoria and was surprised to find she wasn’t there. Quickly looking over to the bathroom and finding the door closed, he sat up and rubbed his eyes. Looking over at the clock, he found it was already well into the morning.
Suddenly, Mark was in the room beside him. “Hey, shit for brains, you finally getting up?” He threw on the light and he yanked back the covers exposing Brad. “Shit!” he laughed, turning his back and shielding his eyes. “Cover yourself, man.” Brad quickly jumped out of bed and pulled his pants on that were lying on the floor.
“What the hell are you doing in here?” he ground out, his gaze quickly sliding over to the closed bathroom door. He wasn’t sure what Mark would do if her found out Victoria was here. “Get out of here!”
Mark’s keen gaze quickly scanned the room and he smiled at the clothes that were scattered on the floor. Bending over, he picked up a lacy black bra from the floor and turned to Brad. “I’m sorry, man. Holly’s here.” Brad didn’t say a thing, he just grabbed Victoria’s bra from him and threw it back on the floor. Mark laughed as he backed out the way he had come. “I just wanted to let you know that coffee’s ready and it’s your turn to cook.” Brad shot his a look that could kill and Mark quickly ducked out of the room. As Brad looked around the room, he wondered how he was going to explain Victoria’s presence.
Victoria dawdled in the bathroom as long as she could, her mind in turmoil. She had heard Mark enter the room and the conversation that had occurred. How could she have allowed Brad to make love to her when it went against everything she felt in her heart? She had brought it on herself - it was inexcusable. She hugged herself and shivered.
She hung her head as a tear squeezed from beneath a lowered lid and slid down her cheek. She had willingly surrendered to the passion and hurt she had felt and had welcomed Brad’s loving. Feeling guilt now would change nothing, she thought bitterly as she dashed away the moisture gathering in her eyes.
She knew she couldn’t stay here, hiding out from Colin and finding comfort in a man’s arms that she didn’t love. Unable to hide from Mark any longer and unwilling to hurt Brad, Victoria reluctantly walked back into the bedroom to fetch her clothing. She found that Brad had already gone into the kitchen, hoping that he was going to be the one to break to Mark what had occurred last night. Quickly dressing back into her jeans and button-down shirt, Victoria ran a brush through her hair and tied it up in a ponytail. As she donned her shoes, she wondered what she was going to say to Mark.
Brad stared across the bar at Mark over his cup of coffee. How he was going to break this to him, he wondered. Mark would be hurt, about that he had no doubt. Then there was Holly to consider. He should’ve known to put Victoria on the couch, but he hadn’t counted on the explosion of passion between them the moment their lips touched. What followed was inevitable. He took another sip of coffee as the phone rang.
“Hello?” Mark’s deep voice resounded through the kitchen. Brad looked up to see Mark’s intense gaze on him, and his face a mask of surprise. A shot of panic went through Brad briefly as Mark put his hand over the receiver, looked at him and said, “It’s Holly.” The two stared at each other for a moment; Mark confused and Brad startled.
Brad slowly took the phone. “Hello?” As Brad talked to her for a few minutes, Mark went back into the kitchen for another cup of coffee, questions filling his mind. He glanced down the hall, wondering who the hell it would be coming down it in a few minutes. He crossed back over the room and sat across the bar from Brad, watching him intently. He could tell Brad was squirming on the phone and he couldn’t help it, but Mark grinned at his buddy’s dilemma. He had one lady in his room and one on the phone.
Glancing down the hall one last time, Mark’s grin quickly turned to a grimace as he saw Victoria coming towards him. He quickly glanced over at Brad as he hung up the phone and then again at Victoria, who had now reached the kitchen, her hands in her pockets and her face ashen. Mark slowly set his coffee on the bar and straightened up, not sure what to say. It was obvious what had happened and he wasn’t sure how to react. His emotions were sporadic and his throat dry.
“Mark . . .” Brad began.
“Uh . . .” he stammered, quickly getting to his feet. “I think . . . I have to go, uh . . . uh . . .” Victoria reached out quickly and touched his arm.
“Are you all right?” She felt her heart break as she knew she had hurt him deeply. She should’ve thought before she acted last night. Guilt swept over her like dark clouds.
Mark retracted from her without thinking. “Uh . . . yeah, I’m fine.”
Victoria sent him a wary glance. She had grave doubts that Mark was fine. “I should explain.”
“There’s nothing to explain,” he said, picking up his keys and preparing to leave.
“Mark, don’t leave.” Brad set his coffee down to face his roommate and friend. Mark’s eyes blazed as he quickly thought about punching him right in the face. If it hadn’t been for Victoria’s hand on his arm, he would have. He quickly glanced back at her, hurt shining bright in his brown eyes.
“I have to go,” he said, turning quickly and walking out the door. Victoria watched him leave and then sat down at the bar with a heavy sigh.
Brad quietly set a steaming cup of coffee in front of her. He glanced at her and then tried to swallow the lump that was in his throat. “About last night . . .”
Victoria sent him a tired glance. She had grave doubts that anything he had to say would help the situation. “Forget last night,” she cut in before he could finish his sentence. “It should not have happened, and I don’t want to talk about it.” She fastened her eyes on the cup of coffee in front of her, aware that her expression would betray her emotions. She had wanted it to happen but she didn’t love him, and she had real doubts that he loved her as well.
“Look at me, Vicky,” Brad said, reaching across the bar and raising her chin so he could see her face. “We can’t deny what happened between us. Lord knows, I feel badly about it. I truly didn’t mean to take advantage of you, but the situation became explosive so quickly I couldn’t stop. I want to make it up to you.”
Victoria’s expression grew somber. “You didn’t take advantage of me. I am as much to blame, if not more. I came to you and I apologize. I should have never put you in that situation.”
“I warned that you would be sorry in the morning.” He tried to tease her out of her mood. “But I’m not sorry it happened.”
Victoria looked back at him and smiled. “I’m sorry I got you into this. You have Holly and it was not fair of me to put you in a precarious situation with her. I hope I didn’t ruin anything for you.”
Brad came around the bar to sit beside her, taking her hand in his. “You didn’t do anything I haven’t wanted to do for a very long time.”
“Brad . . .” she began, tears filling her eyes once more.
“I know,” he said, stroking her hand with his fingers and then bringing them to his lips. “You don’t love me. The only reason you came to me was Colin.” He looked at her and all she could do was nod her head in reply. “What happened, Vicky?”
Victoria’s gaze fell to the ground, the tears falling freely. Brad said nothing. He knew in his gut that Victoria belonged with Colin, even though he wanted her for himself. He had agonized over it the day he had first seen them together.
Victoria looked at him then, her face streaked with tears. “I’m sorry, Brad. I can’t help it.”
“I know you can’t,” he crooned, nodding slowly. “You belong together.”
“Not anymore,” she whispered.
“What happened?” he asked again.
Victoria took a deep breath, wondering how she was going to get it out. “I - I saw him . . . and Marisa.” She stopped, fighting the new wave of tears that filled her eyes. Wetting her lips with her tongue, she quickly scanned the room. “They were at his house . . . and he was drunk or something, I don’t know . . . Well, she . . . helped him out of his car,” she stammered, running her hand over her hair, searching for the right words. “I was at the end of the driveway.”
“Why were you there,” he asked, urging her on.
“Oh, god . . . I had finally decided that I was going to forgive him,” she said, laughing bitterly at the irony of it. “Can you believe that?” Brad just patted her hand, nodding his head. “Well, I was about to pull into his driveway when they pulled up and I wasn’t sure who it was, so I waited and that’s when I saw them.” She stopped, picked up her coffee and took a long drink. Dashing away the tears under her eyes, she looked back at Brad. “Why can’t I love you . . . or Mark . . . or anyone else but him?” she whispered, squeezing his hand.
“That’s a good question,” he teased her. “But you don’t . . . you love him.” She knew it was the truth. Despite everything, she loved him - God, she loved him! “Keep going,” he urged her.
“He kissed her, Brad. He really kissed her and they went into the house.” She stopped and watched him, hurt piercing her very soul.
Brad was amazed. “So . . .?”
“So?!” she repeated. “So?! What do you mean ‘so’?”
“I mean, think about it Vicky, what did you see? Nothing! You saw nothing.”
She bristled like a wet cat. “Nothing? That kiss wasn’t nothing! Them going into his house at one o’clock in the morning wasn’t nothing! How can you say that?!” She jumped up and paced the room, seething. Men! They were all alike.
Brad jumped up after her. “Calm down, Vicky. I’m just trying to get you to realize that it might have been nothing. He was drunk, right?” When she only shot him a look, he repeated, “Right?!”
“I don’t know,” she argued, shaking her head. “Maybe . . . probably . . . yes, yes!”
“So maybe he didn’t know what he was doing. Maybe he thought it was you. Maybe all it was was a kiss and then he told her to get the hell out. The fact is,” he pointed out, “You don’t know.” Victoria turned to look at him. He made a lot of sense, but . . .
“And maybe he was so drunk that he made love to her despite me, or maybe he made love to her in spite of me.”
“And what about you?” he asked, bluntly pointing out the one thing she would’ve rather not brought up again. “What about what happened between us last night, Victoria? You can’t judge him on the same thing that you have done yourself.”
“Whose side are you on?” she challenged quietly, slumping down onto the couch.
“Yours, darling,” he answered softly, coming to kneel in front of her on the floor. “You’re the only one I care about. Screw Colin and Marisa for all I care. They can have one another.” He watched her for a moment. “I just want you to be happy, and god knows why, but you’re only happy when you’re with Colin. That’s just the way it is.” Victoria looked up and gathered him into her embrace.
“Why are you so good to me?” she whispered fiercely.
“Because I care about you,” he answered, tears filling his own eyes. All he wanted was to have her and she wasn’t available for the taking. Her heart was still, and would always be, with Colin Mengatti, and it cut him to the core to realize that despite what had happened between them, her feelings hadn’t changed. He sat back, holding her hands. “You have to go to him, Vicky. You have to find out what happened and you have to tell him what happened between us.” At her terrified look, he said, “You have to. It’s only right. If you two are going to work it out, you have to start with honesty. If you’re honest,” he said, gently wiping a tear from her eye, “and things still don’t work out, then it wasn’t meant to be.” She smiled at him then, knowing he was wise beyond his years.
“And you?” she asked.
He nodded grimly. “Me too, I have to be honest. I don’t love Holly and it’s time she was set free. You’ve opened that door for me. I wouldn’t have seen it if it hadn’t been for you.”
“I don’t want the responsibility of breaking you guys up . . .”
“You didn’t break us up,” he soothed her. “It should’ve happened a long time ago.”
“And Mark . . .” The one thing she truly regretted was Mark.
“Mark will pull through this. He knew you loved Colin and that he never had a chance with you.” He pulled her upright. “You know that.” Victoria took him into her embrace again, holding him to her tightly.
“Thank you,” she whispered in his ear.
“Thank you,” he whispered back, gently pushing her out of his embrace.
After trying to get a hold of Colin all day and failing, Victoria knew where she was sure to find him. Every Saturday night he was in the same place unless he was working and she doubted that tonight would be any different. Quickly pulling on a paisley wrap skirt, a cardigan and hot pink New Balance sneakers, she headed for Barfly. When she arrived, Victoria wasn’t sure what she was going to say to Colin once she found him, and to be quite honest, she wasn’t sure why she had come. She wanted for things to work out between them, in her heart of hearts, but something in her still doubted . . . still wondered about him and Marisa. “Victoria?!” She quickly turned to find Nick, the young man from Millennium who she had met on the same night she had met Colin.
“Nick?!” Victoria was thrilled to see him after all this time. He was still as cute as ever. She threw her arms around him. “Oh god, it’s so good to see you! What are you doing here?”
“I’m just hanging out. What are you doing? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you. What have you been doing?” He pushed her back from him gently, still clasping onto her arms. His eyes traveled quickly down her length and then came back to rest on her face. “You look great!”
Victoria smiled at him as she hugged him once again. “You are so sweet! Thanks!” She stood back from him once more, glad to have a friend by her side tonight. “Vicky, I want you to meet my girlfriend. We got together not too long ago and I think I’m in love.”
She smiled sweetly at him. “Oh Nick, that’s great. But, I thought we still might have a chance,” she teased.
“To be honest,” he admitted, “I wanted that when we first met, but I could tell you were in love with Colin at the first look.” Victoria took in a deep breath, memories pulling at her consciousness. “You’ll never guess who I wound up with!” The twinkle in his eye caught her attention and curiosity.
“Who?!” she asked. “Do I know her?” As she watched him, her attention was quickly averted to a tall blonde walking towards them and Victoria was shocked to see Marisa Stamp walk up to Nick and kiss him on the cheek, his arm snaking around her waist. Victoria watched in surprise and then disgust.
“Vicky, I want you to meet Marisa . . .”
“I know her,” Victoria cut in quickly, her voice quivering with repressed anger. “What do you think you’re doing?” She watched Marisa closely, her eyes narrowing to thin slits.
“Victoria, I know how you feel about me, but -”
“You have some nerve standing here with Nick when you were at Colin’s last night!” She practically spit the words out at her. “Does Nick know what you’re up to when he’s not around?!”
“Victoria . . .” Nick began, reaching out to take her arm. She turned to him, regret etched in her beautiful brow.
“Nick, I don’t think you know who you’ve gotten involved with. She’s still sleeping with Colin. . . “
“I am not!” she quickly defended herself. Victoria turned to her quickly.
“Liar! I saw you there last night! Are you going to deny it?!”
“No,” she answered calmly. “But it’s not what you think.”
Victoria wanted to put her hands around Marisa’s thin neck and squeeze until her eyes bugged out. Frustrated and tired, she just gave up. “I don’t care, Marisa. I just don’t care. But don’t you dare hurt Nick!” She quickly excused herself to the ladies’ room as Marisa followed her.
She had to gather her wits once she was inside the ladies’ room. Her hands palm down on the counter, Victoria leaned over, breathing deeply as she tried to check her emotions. Anger and frustration were surging through her and it took everything she had not to hurl something at the mirror. As she looked up into the mirror, she saw Marisa standing behind her. “Do you know just how stupid this is? You are being irrational.” Victoria stared at her in shock through the mirror, not sure how to react to that! So she chose to ignore it. “How could you do that? Don’t you know any better?” When Victoria continued to ignore her and reapply her lipstick in the mirror, she added, “You should have your head examined . . .”
Completely baffled by this new onslaught, she turned and faced her. “What the hell are you talking about?” she questioned, angrily and unbelievingly.
“Colin, I’m talking about Colin.” At that, Victoria’s face hardened and she tried to walk past her to leave, but she blocked the doorway with her arm. “I’m not through,” she added.
Victoria just turned her head and glared at her. “Yes you are. I’ve heard enough.”
“You haven’t begun to hear what I have to say.” She stopped for a moment, watching her. “It was all me. Colin isn’t interested in me anymore and it’s taken me this long to accept it.” She took a deep breath, trying to get it all out before Victoria stormed past her. “True, I dumped him after the release of that movie . . .” She stopped, choking back the tears of regret she suddenly felt wash over her. “I guess I was scared,” she finally admitted. Watching Victoria for a moment, she continued. “When it was obvious that he was going on without me and came to you, something snapped and I wanted him back.” Victoria just watched her, wondering what in the world possessed her to admit all this. “I’m finally over it. I have Nick, and he’s wonderful. I want Colin to be as happy as I am.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Victoria glared at her.
“No, I don’t expect it to, but I am sorry. I guess I didn’t realize that what you and Colin had was real. I was hoping it was just a passing phase for him.” Victoria wasn’t about to admit that she had thought the same thing herself. She just stood there and watched her. “After I had called Colin’s house and left that message, he came to see me. He was furious that I had done that and I can’t tell you how distraught he was over the thought of losing you.” ‘So, he did go see her!’ is all that Victoria could think about. She closed her eyes in response, willing herself not to be sick. Marisa could tell that Victoria was reacting negatively to what she had said, and quickly covered for him. “When I saw what I had done to him and how much he loved you, I was sorry. I never wanted to hurt him.”
“But you wanted to hurt me?” Victoria asked, bitterly.
“No . . . I don’t know,” she admitted. “I wanted him back . . . but now,” she paused, looking at her. “Now, his happiness is more important to me than getting him back and Victoria . . .” she stopped, her eyes pleading with hers. “His happiness is with you.”
“And last night?” Victoria leaned back against the counter, wondering why in the hell she was actually listening to all of this.
“He was drunk, Victoria. He’s been drunk since you stopped talking to him.” Marisa stood in the doorway and shook her head. She could count on her fingers the number of hours Colin had been sober in the past two weeks. He’d lost weight and his face was losing its youthful appearance. Usually so impeccably dressed, his clothes now hung haphazardly on his tall frame.
As she continued to talk, Victoria found herself actually listening. She couldn’t believe Marisa was humbling herself this way in the bathroom at this club. This was not the woman she had come to know and hate. She was actually thinking of someone other than herself! Marisa could tell Victoria was softening towards her and used it to her advantage. She moved away from the door and leaned against the counter beside her. “Can you ever find it in your heart to forgive me for everything I’ve done? I know I’ve caused you a lot of pain.”