She stood in the silence of the kitchen, brushing the jagged pieces of glass into the wastebasket. She couldn’t go back into that room—not yet. Her pride was all she left to salvage of this and even that was hanging on by a thin thread. The words echoed in her head. It wasn’t a surprise—not really. It was what Billy wanted. It was what he’d wanted for a while now and he’d never denied that, so hearing him admit it wasn’t a shock. It was the ease in which he said the words to her. It was the compassion in his eyes, the pity. It made her sick, broke her heart, and infuriated her..all at once. Before she knew it, she’d been standing there in front of him, the glass of wine in her hand now shattered on the floor. He had tried to help her clean it, but she’d shoved him away, moving quickly into the kitchen. She needed space. She needed a moment. She needed to breathe.
And she did. Victoria took a long, deep breath before wiping her face with her hands and heading back into the living room.
Billy stood from the couch, his eyes full of concern as he looked back at her. “Everything okay?”
“It’s fine,” she said quickly, returning to the couch and taking a seat beside him. “So…” She swallowed hard, forcing her lips to curve into a terse smile. “I take it Phyllis said yes when you asked her to marry you.”
He nodded awkwardly. “Yeah, yes she did.”
“Well, that’s good for you.” She stood, walking across the room and turning her back to him. He would not see her cry. He didn’t deserve her tears.
“Come on, Vic. I don’t know what else you want me to do here. I’m trying to do everything right. I thought it was the right thing to do to come over here and tell you this in person. I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else. I wanted to come and talk to you about it. I thought you deserved that.”
She whirled around, the condescension in his voice proving too much to ignore. “Oh, really? You thought I deserved that? Well, thank you, Billy. Thank you so much for doing me that courtesy.”
“What was I supposed to do? Huh? Just never be happy? Just stay miserable my whole life because you’re miserable.” He ran his hands over his face. “Sorry,” he whispered through clenched teeth. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
“I’m not miserable.” She bit down hard on the inside of her cheek, finding it easier to quell the tears with the rage burning inside of her. “You’re going to be the one that’s miserable if you marry that…”
“Stop.” Billy held up hand in front of him. “Don’t talk about her. I didn’t come here tonight to ask for your blessing or to get your approval. I simply came here to give you the courtesy of telling you to your face.” He paused. “And there’s one more thing.”
Her stomach churned. “Don’t tell me she’s pregnant.”
“Vic.” Billy warned. “No, she’s not pregnant. It’s about the wedding. We don’t want to do a big wedding in town.”
“Afraid no one will show up or afraid hecklers will,” she spat, smiling a genuine smile for the first time since she opened the door to him.
Billy sighed in utter exasperation. “Are you enjoying this? Making this difficult for me because right about now I can’t remember why I didn’t just let you see this on GC Buzz or read it online like everyone else will.”
“What did you expect me to do, Billy? You want me to throw you a party?”
“Of course not…it’s just…you could be decent about it.” He shook his head with a sigh. “Forget it. That’s not the point, anyway. I just wanted to tell you that we’re not doing a wedding here. Phyllis and I have talked about it and we’re just going to combine the honeymoon and the wedding and fly off to Italy and get married.”
“I don’t know why you’re telling me this,” Victoria sighed.
He took a breath. “Because I want to take the kids. We’d like to have them there and…”
“You’re wasting your breath, Billy. There’s no way I’m letting you and Phyllis take my children to Europe on your little love fest.”
“They are our kids, and it’s our wedding, Victoria. I have a right to have my children at my wedding.”
“If you want them there, you’ll have a wedding here like everyone else.” She stared at him for a moment before continuing. “Don’t act like you wouldn’t be saying the very same thing if I was asking something like this of you.”
“Uh, does the name Travis mean anything to you?”
“Don’t bring Travis into this.” Victoria pushed past him, knowing all too well where the conversation was going.
“Oh, I’m damn well going to bring him into it. I seem to recall a time when he asked you to go with him on his boat to go God knows where and to take the kids with you and I told you to go if you wanted. I wouldn’t have fought you. I wanted you to be happy, Vic. So tell me again how I would be doing the same thing you are?”
“That was a completely different situation, Billy. Travis and I were….”
“You were what? Meant to be? That’s why he’s here right now? Where is he, Vic? Is he upstairs? Outside? No? He’s gone isn’t he….and maybe that’s what this is really about, isn’t it? Maybe it’s about the fact that Travis left you and instead of running back to you to pick up the pieces like you always expected me to do, I found someone else. Maybe when you decided that you were ready to take me back, I wasn’t waiting on the doorstep this time. Maybe that’s why you’re so damn angry. What do you think? Am I getting close?”
She stared at him, her eyes wide, the truth in his words cutting deeply. Her eyes fluttered closed as she tasted blood trickling from the cuts on her inner cheek and she opened her mouth a bit, running her tongue over the tender skin. A tear slowly escaped her eye, running slowly down her cheek.
“Vic.” Billy stepped closer to her, his head hanging in shame. “I’m sorry. I…I kind of lost it there and I shouldn’t have…I’m really sorry. I should go. We can talk about the rest later.”
Her hand rushed to her face, brushing away the tears that continued to fall. “There’s more?” Her voice shook as the words flew out. “No, Billy. If there’s more, just tell me now. What other wonderful news could you possibly have to share with me?” She walked over to the couch, falling down onto it, her entire body exhausted. She was too tired to fight, to yell, to do anything—she just wanted this over.
“You probably won’t even care about this.” He sat down, reaching into his jacket and pulling out a few folded pieces of paper. “In fact you may not even remember.” He handed her the pages and watched as her eyes roamed the images and words.
“The house,” she said quietly, looking up at him.
“Of course I do,” she said, smiling a bit in spite of herself, “It’s the one we looked at a few years ago, before Katie was born. You loved it but the owners decided not to sell. Is it back on the market?” She looked up at him with a smile.
“Not anymore,” he said softly. “I bought it. Phyllis and I are going to live there. It’s going to be our new home.”