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Credit: John Paschal/JPI (2)

Yep, it’s time for the heiress’ boyfriend to — ack — meet the family.

For those of you wondering WTH you’ve stumbled onto here, it’s a response to the way that The Young and the Restless has been positioning Victoria to go after Billy again. Sorry, yet again. We wanted to see her with someone new, someone who could potentially make her happy in the long term. So we’ve begun crafting her an alternate reality in which she’s fallen for the Newman ranch’s new foreman (pictured above as Trevor St. John, formerly Todd/Victor on One Life to Live, one of the suggested actors readers had the easiest time picturing in the part). If you’ve missed the beginning, you can catch up here with Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. Now then, in Chapter 3…

Victoria is lolling in bed while Rusty hustles to ready to go to work. “What’s your hurry?” she asks. “Are the horses that cranky if you run a few minutes late?”

“No,” he replies, “but I try and set an example for the boys.”

“Boys?” she laughs. “They’re grown-ass men.”

“Ya got me there,” he admits, adding with a wink, “I’m sure they’d understand if I told ’em I got distracted by the boss’ daughter. They’ve all seen you.”

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At that, Victoria suddenly sits upright. “You haven’t told anyone,” she asked, sounding more panicked than she really meant to, “have you?”

No, Rusty hasn’t told anybody that they’re involved. But he also hasn’t been keeping it a secret. He wasn’t aware that it was one. “Is it?”

Victoria has to think about that for a moment. Why on earth should she keep hidden a relationship that is making her so happy? “It’s not like I’m ashamed of us or anything,” she says. “You’re not a dirty little secret, I love you.”

Whoa. She had not meant to quite let those three words slip. “You know what I mean,” she says quickly, as if “I love you” were the equivalent of “Pass the salt” or “Where’s the remote?”

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“Did you say what I think you just said?” asks Rusty. “Umm… maybe,” replies Victoria. “Did you hear me say I shoved you?”

Credit: George De Sota/JPI, Howard Wise/JPI

Rusty looks Victoria in the eye. Really looks her in the eye. For a second, she forgets to breathe, and then there are words in the air. His words. “Yeah,” he says softly, “I know exactly what you mean. And when you’re ready to mean it… ”

Has he lost his train of thought? Wait, is he blushing? Do grown men even do that in 2021?

“Heck,” he continues, “I figure you know how I feel already.”

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With that, Rusty plants a tender kiss on Victoria’s lips and moves to leave. As he reaches the door, she calls out. “Let’s have dinner tonight,” she blurts out.

“Well, yeah,” he answers. “I was kinda hoping… ”

“No,” she says, cutting him off. “With my family. I want to introduce you to them.”

“I did already meet your dad, ya know,” he reminds her.

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“You met him when you were interviewing to work on the ranch,” she says. “It’s a whole other rodeo when you’re interviewing to… ”

She finds herself at a loss for words. “To work on you?” Rusty offers mischievously.

“God help us,” she laughs as she collapses back into bed. “You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.”

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“Maybe not,” Rusty says sweetly. “But I’m all in, Clover. Just let me know when and where to be, and I’ll be there.”

What do you think Young & Restless fans? Will Rusty pass the litmus test that is meeting the Newmans? And can you for the life of you figure out why the show won’t just write Victoria a real love story like this? On your way to the comments, stop off at the below photo gallery, which celebrates Melody Thomas Scott’s 42nd anniversary as Nikki with a collection of images of her incredible run in the role.