Picture Perfect – 16

Chapter 16

Eric wanted Victoria.

She was fun, her sense of humor fresh and surprising.  She had quirky habits that left him laughing in amusement when he was alone.  Like singing out loud to her favorite song came on.  The song wasn’t the problem, he could take a little Justin Bieber…but the off notes, full volume voice were the problem.

You see, Victoria thought she was the next Beyoncé, except no one had told her she wasn’t.  God help him if he said anything in criticism.

Victoria had a temper.

He found that out the hard way.  Visiting her house on a Saturday when she was doing general cleaning, he had gone out to check on her car engine.  When he came back upstairs, he entered still wearing his rubber shoes, into her clean pristine house and a monster was born.

She kicked him out, made him remove his shoes while she cursed like a sailor, almost calling the neighbors to witness his offenses.  He tried to take a picture of monster Victoria in action, and almost got his eyes scratched out when she grabbed the camera out of his hand.  She’d taken a year off his life when she threatened to drop his baby.  Her tirade lasted an astounding five minutes.  Then she got over the mad quickly, turning into a sweet woman who then cooked him lunch.

Scary shit.  He was sure she was a crazy woman!

He definitely loved her sweet side the most though.

Victoria in an agreeable mood was addictive, to the point of madness and obsession.  Her laugh was infectious, when she talked it was with passion on the subject, when she listened, it was as though he were the only man in the world.  Those moments, sitting close to her, kissing her, and never going beyond that…it was at those moments he worried for his sanity.

“Eric.”

Linda touched his left arm and he looked at her.  He was at the studio today working on an advertisement photo shoot.

“Are you up for another trip?” Linda asked.  “We have a request for a shoot in Dar.  Three days, do I schedule it?”

Eric sat back, his gaze on the dummy food waiting on a table.

“When?”

“This weekend,” Linda said.  “The cash is good.  They accepted our quotation without a bargain.”

Eric frowned.  For the first time in years, reluctance to leave the city filled him.  Victoria was tied up more than usual lately.  The holidays were here and the hotel events had increased.  He didn’t want to miss out on her free time.

“Can we postpone it?” he asked.

“Are you sick?” Linda asked, touching his forehead.

He winked at her.  “Let’s do it next weekend, Linda.”

“Why?  Can’t stay away from Victoria?” Linda asked.

“She’s off this weekend.  She promised to go see my house with me.  I don’t want to cancel.”

Linda waved the quotation in front of his eyes and he took it out of her hands.  Reading the total amount, he groaned.  The payout was very good.

“Damn it, I can do it mid-week,” he said, still not willing to give up this weekend.

Eric really wanted to hear what Victoria thought of the house he was building.

Linda smiled and took the quotation.

“Wednesday sounds good.  Victoria can do without you for three days, right?”

Eric smiled standing.  He picked up his camera and walked to the table full of fast food dummy products.

The problem, he thought, was that he didn’t want to do without her.

***

“Wait, taste this,” Olive said

Olive held out a spoon full of strawberry and blueberry ice cream to Victoria.  Victoria closed her eyes as the sweet treat melted in her mouth.  She sighed.

“I’m going to get fat if we continue like this.”  Victoria met Olive’s amused gaze.  “Fat, Olive.”

“I thought you didn’t care.”

“She got a man,” Grace said, swirling her straw in her passion fruit yoghurt.

Aki, Grace,” Victoria pinched her best friend’s arm.  “That’s not what I mean.  I’m saying the ice cream is really good and we keep buying more.”

“Don’t blame the ice cream,” Olive said, promptly taking a healthy bite of her ice cream.

Olive was naturally thin, no matter how much she ate, she never gained an ounce.  Victoria was a tad envious.  Staring at her apple green blend, Victoria just couldn’t find the strength not to finish the treat, so she dug in.

“So, you and Eric?” Olive asked.

Victoria looked up and Olive raised her brow.

“What?”

“Are you an item?” Olive asked.

“They better be,” Grace said.  “He keeps hugging her and kissing her around the hotel.  I’m getting jealous.”

“That was one time,” Victoria said.

“What about yesterday when he dropped you off in the morning.  He gives you a ride to work even when you have your own car,” Grace said.

“It’s called carpooling.  We are doing our part to save the earth from global warming.”

“Ah ha,” Olive said with a laugh.  “I’ll be sure to thank Eric for his eco-friendly thoughts when he shows up at your house.”

Grace laughed.

“Okay, you two, stop.” Victoria raised her spoon, using it as a wand.  “I did not tease you like this when you and Clifford were getting together.  Or you Grace, and the hubby who walks on water.”

“Did you do it yet?” Olive asked.

“I’m not answering that.”

“They haven’t,” Grace answered, winking at Olive.

“Hey,” Victoria punched Grace’s arm lightly.

“Wow, Eric is looking more and more like a saint,” Olive said, amused.  “Hasn’t it been a month?”

“Almost two,” Grace provided.

“No way,” Olive stared at Victoria.  “Is he normal?”

Victoria frowned.  “What are you on about?”

“Well,” Olive shrugged.  “Let’s be realistic.  In this day and age, relationships start out backwards.  You two not being together after two months is weird.”

“Who decided waiting is weird?” Victoria asked.  “Besides, two months is not that long.  Jeez, I’m glad Eric is not like Ronald.  If I had stopped to think with Ronald, things might not have turned out the way they did.”

“I’m just saying,” Olive said.

Victoria stared at her ice cream.  Truthfully, she knew Eric would prefer not to wait.  There were times when she was alone with him, when it felt like it would be alright to give in, but then…

She remembered that he was a man who was still in love with his best friend’s wife.

How could she—

“Vicky,” Grace squeezed her shoulder.  “It’s okay to wait.  You need to be sure, and that’s important to you.”

Taking a bite of her ice cream, Victoria shrugged.

“If it happens, it does,” she said.  “We’re both adults.  I like Eric.  He’s fun, considerate and I love spending time with him.  If it does happen—”

“Let me stop you there,” Olive said, shaking her head.  “That is a self-serving speech.  We don’t need to hear it, gal.  I totally get your insecurities with that hottie.  Eric is a wild card, and who knows how long it will last?  I get it.  No one’s judging here.”

“Could have fooled me,” Victoria sulked.  “Argghh…. can we stop talking about my lack of nookie?”

Grace burst out laughing, and almost spilled her yoghurt.  Victoria reached out to right it, and Olive grabbed napkins to wipe the little that had spilt on the table.

“Excuse me.”

They all looked up at the same time to find Anita the concierge standing a few feet away.  They were in the hotel’s second floor snack bar enjoying ice cream after a long day.  They had chosen the place because of convenience.  Olive was due at the hospital in thirty minutes.  Grace wanted to head out to meet her husband for a shopping spree.

“Yes?” Grace asked, her tone uninviting.

“Can I talk to you, Vicky?” Anita asked.

“You can talk here,” Grace said.

Victoria met Anita’s gaze and nodded.  She had no intention of being anywhere alone with Anita.

“Fine, whatever,” Anita said, taking a step closer to the table.

Thankfully, there were only two other people in the dining space.  It wasn’t rush hour yet.

“What do you want to say?” Victoria asked the younger woman.

“I want you to stop making trouble for me with Ronald.  He said he would fire me because of you.”  Anita’s expression was bitter.  “If you couldn’t make him happy, I don’t see why you have to take it out on me.”

Victoria gaped.

“Aren’t you out of line?” Grace asked.  “Victoria si sister yako, Anita.  You can’t come here to carpet her over a relationship you started on your own.”

“It’s not my fault Ronald chose me over her,” Anita snapped.  “All I’m saying is that she shouldn’t use her position to get me fired.  I have a family to support.”

“Are you implying that I’m trying to get you fired?” Victoria asked in shock.

“Yes.  I know you did this—

“Who told you?” Victoria cut in.

“Ronald,” Anita said.  “He said that my presence here annoys you.  So—,”

Victoria got up, forgetting her ice cream.

Anita froze, her expression full of fear.

Victoria sighed and moved around Grace to stand before the younger woman.

“Don’t worry about your job, Anita.”

“You don’t want me fired?”

“Why would I?” Victoria asked, shocked anyone would think of her this way.

Anita blinked.  “Aren’t you mad about me and Ronald?”

“Goodness, no,” Victoria said, realizing it then, as well.  “Anita, Ronald is a bastard.  If you want him, he is all yours.”

Turning to Grace and Olive, she smiled.  “I have to go upstairs and straighten this.  Call me?”

“Don’t punch him,” Grace said, winking at her.

“I love this hotel,” Olive said.  “You guys have way more drama than we do, and I work in a hospital.”

****

To be continued….Thank you for reading!

Previous Parts:

Picture Perfect – 15

Picture Perfect – 14

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