Goodbyes

She stood outside the door, the cold wind cutting straight to the bone. She could hear the soft, dulcet tones of chatter and she wondered just how many people were gathered together in that room today. Surely everyone would have something to say about her presence. She took a breath, smoothing down the front of the tasteful, black dress.

This isn’t where she wanted to be. She dreamed of being in his arms in front of the fire, by his side in the bed they shared, staring into his eyes from across the table after sharing a meal with him. There were so many things she’d dreamed of doing with him–never this.

Her mind rushed back to earlier, to the moment she looked in the mirror, stunned by the reflection staring back at her. How could this be happening? How could someone do incredibly full of life be gone?

She pushed open the heavy door, the old hinges announcing her arrival. She heard the gasps and whispers move through the room like a spreading wildfire as she walked slowly up the aisle. Her eyes never left the picture. It was a large one, a promo he’d shot for Brash and Sassy–suited up and glossed over–nothing like the person he truly was. None of this was right. She could feel her composure slipping and she fought for control of her emotions.

Phyllis gripped the edge of the pew, slowly lowering herself into an empty space. She saw Ashley stand, sliding down and sitting next to her.

“You shouldn’t be here,” she hissed. “This is hard enough on our family without you showing up to remind everybody of why this happened.”

She had made herself a promise before she left the house. She’d promised herself that she wouldn’t make waves, that she wouldn’t cause a scene, that this wouldn’t be about the Abbotts, or their opinion of her, or anything else. This would be about Billy…about honoring him, about her love for him, about saying a proper goodbye to him.

But she never had been very good at keeping promises.

The rage was overwhelming. He was gone and yet she still sat beside her with that self-righteous, hypocritical stare. There was nothing fair about any of this. She couldn’t stop herself and, truth be told, she wasn’t sure she wanted to.

“How dare you…” Phyllis stood slowly, her voice low and trembling. “How dare you tell me I shouldn’t be here.”

Ashley opened her mouth to speak.

“No,” Phyllis continued, her voice louder now, more insistent, the rage morphing into righteous indignation. “I’m talking now. You’re going to shut up and listen for a change.” She took a deep breath, staring into her eyes and then looking around the room, scanning the faces of the people who had abandoned Billy, the people who’d judged him, criticized him, and berated him. It was a room full of people that continually assured him of what a screwup he was–all the while declaring their love for him.

“You,” she said, looking at Ashley first and then moving her hand across the span of the room, “all of you–you deserted Billy. You judged him and turned your back on him because he made a choice you didn’t agree with. Thus family all of you hold in such high regard told him that he was no longer an Abbott. They cut ties with him, refused to speak with him, fired him from the family business his father built…”

Tears streamed down her face now. She saw Jack and locked eyes with him. “You–he looked up to you and he knew how hurt you were. He knew how angry you were, but he had no idea what to do to make this better and you refused to even give an inch.”

She turned, her eyes staring at the picture and the small box that sat beside it. “And now…now, this is what we have left. Because it’s too late now.” She jerked her body back around facing them with anger in her eyes.

The words were less calm now. “It’s too late now, Jack, it’s too late because he’s gone. You wanted to punish him..you wanted to punish me, well I guess you did, huh? You took him from me. You made sure we’ll never be together. You robbed your niece and nephew of a father. You…”

Her legs went weak beneath her and she felt arms around her easing her to a seat. She blinked a few times, her head bobbing back and forth until her vision cleared and she could recognize a Jack. They sat quietly for a moment and she watched him stand and go speak to the minister. People started filing out through a side entrance.

Phyllis looked at him, confused.

“Graveside service,” he said softly.

Her face crumbled, the reality of the words tearing at her heart.

Jack closed his eyes and slowly shook his head, placing a hand on her shoulder before speaking. “I’ll walk out with you if you want.”

She looked up at him. “I can’t…I can’t go out there. I can’t watch them take that box and put it in the ground and….” A stifled sob escaped… “I can’t…especially when
I know he wouldn’t be there if I had just been honest with him about what I felt..if I hadn’t made him think I was moving on.”

“That’s not true.” Jack’s voice was serious but kind. “This isn’t your fault..if anyone can be blamed here, it’s me. You were right…telling him he wasn’t an Abbott. I said it because I knew it would hurt him and, at the time, that’s exactly what I wanted. I just thought I’d have more time to…..”

She looked up as she heard the creak of the door again.

~

“Mom?”

Phyllis sat up straight, her gown sticking to her sweat drenched form. She ran her hand over her face. “Summer,” she said softly.

Summer walked over to the bed. “I’m sorry to wake you,” she said quietly, “but I could hear you mumbling in my room. I think I must have been dreaming or something.”

“You’re right. You’re absolutely right. I was dreaming…having a bit of a nightmare actually, but lucky for me I have my wonderful daughter to remind me everything is ok,” she smiled.

Summer nodded, her expression turning quizzical as she watched her Mom swing her legs over the side of the bed and begin to pull on clothes. “Mom..where are you going? It’s the middle of the night?”

“I know honey, but sometimes you realize that there are something’s that just can’t wait–not one more second.”

~

Billy stumbled down the stairs, rubbing his hands through his hair. “This better be damn good,” he grumbled as he approached the door and flipped on the porch light. His lips curved into a slight smile as he saw her standing there.

He pulled open the door. “Phyllis,” he whispered, “what are you….”

She wasted no time as she stepped into the foyer and wrapped her arms around his neck. She pulled him close to her and pressed her lips on his. For a split second, she thought she sensed slight hesitation, but it was almost instantly gone and within minutes they were tangled in each other’s arms on the couch.

It was Billy who finally broke the embrace and leaned back, “I’m going o kick myself for this,” he began still breathing heavily, “but what brought this on…not that I’m complaining or anything mind you..”

Sh smiled and gave him a quick peck before recounting the events of the evening. He listened quietly as he explained about the dream, the fights, what she’d said, what she’d felt when she realized it was all just a horrible dream.

“So that’s it,” she said simply, “I had to come here.,to see you, to tell you how much .I love you, how much I want you, how much I want us and this…how much I don’t want to waste any more time.”

Billy smiled at her, his arms already wrapping around her again. He stood, lifting her up off her feet and cradling her in his arms. “What do you say we spend the first night of the rest of our lives in our bed?”

Phyllis smiled, resting her head against his chest. “I think that sounds like the kind of dream I’d like to make a reality.”

The End

Your Ghost

“Well..Well, fancy meeting you here.”

Damn him with those bedroom eyes and that smile that could turn turn her brain to soup. He enjoyed this–knowing the effect he had on her.

“Billy.” She gritted her teeth and sighed audibly, louder than necessary, making her frustration known and, if she was honest with herself, trying to hide the fact that he made her entire body ache.

He smiled as he watched her step into the elevator, his mind already conjuring up the best ways to spend these cherished moments of alone time.

“You know, I should really have a conversation with Vic and Cane about the wardrobe policy at Brash and Sassy.” He took a step back, making a show of looking her up and down. “Jabot is clearly way ahead of us in that department.”

Phyllis looked away, her face flushing immediately.

Billy stepped closer to her. “It’s a shame Jack keeps you locked up in that broom closet. I’d put you out front…where you belong.” He bent down slightly, finding her downcast eyes and meeting their gaze. “I haven’t seen this dress before…is it new?”

She opened her mouth to speak, her breath catching as she felt his warm hand on her bare back. His fingertips brushed the zipper’s pull and he smiled at her before letting his hand drop back to his side.

Steadied, she cleared her throat, annoyed by the ease in which he’d shaken her. “No,” she snipped. “Not new–Jack bought if for me last Christmas. It’s one of his favorites.”

Firing the shot felt better than watching it land. The lightness in his eyes faded instantly and he walked back to the other side of the elevator, turning towards the buttons. “It’s nice,” he said quietly.

“Thank you.” She smiled in a feeble attempt to lighten the mood then, after managing a little laugh added, “who knew Jack actually has good taste.”

Billy nodded and smiled. She was making an effort, perhaps out of pity, but an effort just the same. “Sure he does–he picked you..man’s got impeccable taste.”

And just like that she was lost in his eyes again. It would be so much easier if she could forget it, if she could forget him, if she could forget the freedom and peace she’d found in his arms, but every time she saw him, thought of him, saw his face, heard his name–she was thrown right back into the memories and the dreams and she was hopeless to do anything except stare in his arms.

Her body slammed into his and she fell to the floor. Billy’s hands were on her quickly.

“Hey, you ok?” His voice was full of concern as he stared down at her.

“Yeah..I think so.” Phyllis stood up, running her hand through her hair. “What happened?”

“I don’t know,” Billy said quietly, his voice confused. “The elevator stopped.” He looked over at Phyllis and immediately saw her eyes narrow. “No,” he said quickly, “I didn’t touch it, I swear. It just stopped and,” He paused, glancing at the buttons, “I’m pretty sure we’re between floors.”

“What does that mean…between floors?” Phyllis looked at Billy, his normally mischievous grin now seemed more serious. “Billy?”

“It means the elevator is probably stuck–the lights are on, so it’s not a power thing…it’s probably something mechanical…” He stopped talking for a moment, looking up at her and seeing the concern on her face for the first time.

He smiled, touching her arm lightly. “It’ll be fine. I’m sure the security guards will realize there’s a problem soon and they’ll call maintenance. Someone’ll be here to get us out anytime now. Until then, it looks like you’re stuck with me.”

~

Phyllis leaned back against the wall. “Wait…Wait..Wait…so you’re telling me you actually want to go skydiving?”

Billy smiled. “Yeah, why not? It’s about living life…every second..taking risks…not playing it safe. Just imagine standing there at the edge of that plane and stepping out into the clouds…how cool would that be?”

“Pfft, until the parachute wouldn’t open and you were impaled by a tree.” She laughed a little. “Let me guess you also think the idea of bungee jumping sounds like a good time?”

“Absolutely–sign me up..any day.”

“Billy Abbott. It’s a giant rubber band!!!!” She smiled as she took the water bottle from him. He had a half eaten granola bar and a bottle of water in his bag and they’d been making a meal of it. “Sometimes I really think you might be crazy.”

He shook his head, chewing thoughtfully. “Nope, see…you gotta do what makes you feel the most alive..life’s too short.” His voice trailed off, the lighthearted conversation fading. He turned, his eyes staring into hers. “That’s what I wanted for us,” he said quietly.

“Billy…I….”

“Don’t. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything..not here…not like this. It’s too awkward and we’re stuck here and I….”

Silence.

Phyllis stared, her eyes locked on his. “What?”

Billy faltered. He shook his head quickly, his hand rubbing over his face. “No…nothing.”

“I know you better than that, remember? It’s not nothing. Tell me what it is. What were you about to say?”

“There are things I want to say…things I want to do…that I shouldn’t…things that aren’t appropriate..that aren’t fair.”

“Fair?” The word rushed from her mouth with a burst of air. “Billy, none of this is fair. God…”

He was silent for a moment. Looking into her eyes he could see the frustration, the pain, the anger, the resentment, the division. He could see it so easily in her eyes because he saw it in his own every time he looked in the mirror.

“Phyllis,” he whispered, “tell me.”

“You know…I’ve heard stories about these people that think there are ghosts that haunt them. They talk about hearing voices or feeling a presence. They say they can see shadows or visions..,that they come to them in their dreams…”

Billy nodded.

“That’s how it is. That’s how I am with you. Everything I do reminds me of you. I close my eyes and I see your face. I try to get dressed in the morning and I’m thinking about the colors you like, I’m drinking wine and I’m thinking of your favorite vineyard. I’m sitting in front of the fireplace and I’m thinking of you…of us…of that first night.” She looked at him, her eyes wide and blinking.

“And even now, even when I’m sitting here beside you with everything I know, my head can’t seem to get a grip on my stubborn heart.”

“I know,” he said sadly. “I know what you mean.” His eyes stared at her lips. “I wish I could pretend that nothing else mattered…pretend that we are the only two people in the entire world. This little elevator box could be our entire reality and then Icould kiss you, I could touch you…”

“I wish that too,” she admitted, stopping suddenly, surprised to hear the words come from her lips. She’d been spending so much time worrying about what was right that she’d stopped actually considering what she wanted. Tonight, she was actually thinking for herself, answering for herself, choosing happiness for herself.”

She leaned in towards him, their bodies already close together. She could tell he was hesitant, guarded, ready at any minute for her to pull away, to declare this a mistake, but she didn’t.

As he wrapped his arms around her, she sighed, relaxing into arms. She dropped her head to his shoulder, already feeling his warm breath hovering over the skin of her bare neck.

Suddenly a sharp rapping was heard above them. Phyllis looked up to the the tiles being shifted in the car’s ceiling. She watched as a panel was removed and smiled at the fireman as he lifted down a cradle apparatus to help remove them.

~

Phyllis stood by her office door as she waited for Billy to thank the workers a final time. She smiled at him as he walked back over to her, following her into her office and letting the door close behind him.

“Well, that certainly was an interesting way to spend an evening,” he grinned.

“I always deliver on the entertainment. One thing I’m not is boring.” Phyllis looked up. She had to say something. Things like this could fester and grow if they weren’t addressed early on. “Billy, ummm, about what happened in the elevator…I…”

“It’s ok,” Billy interrupted, ‘You don’t have to explain. Stress is funny that way. It’s kind of like the list that married people have… the people they can have sex with if they’re on a crashing plane. I get it–honest. It wasn’t about me. It was about the situation.”

Phyllis stood, her mouth slightly agape. “Uh, I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone be so wrong about anything. What I wanted to say is not to read into that…the maintenance guy interrupting like that. I know I used to talk about signs and all that, but maybe the fact that we keep running into each other is a sign. Maybe the fact that we’re working in the same building is a sign. Maybe it’s a sign that we were in the same elevator together tonight to say those things.,,the things that needed to be said.”

“Wait..wait..” Billy stared at her. “You’re saying you don’t regret what happened in the elevator. You don’t want to take back what you said?”

Phyllis smiled. “The only thing I regret is the interruption.” She took a few steps back, standing at the edge of the deck, her hands now holding hers. With one quick sweep, she pushed the papers to the floor, giggling a bit at Billy’s surprised expression. “What about you?” She snickered, “do you know where we left off?”

Billy didn’t waste time with an answer, using one hand to find the pull of the zipper on the back of her dress and the other to flip the lock on the door.

Phyllis smiled, stepping out of the dress that now pooled at her feet as Billy easily lifted her on the desk. He began planting quick kisses on her neck and she flashed him another smile as her fingers went to work on his shirt buttons.

His lips fell on hers, almost taking her breath and she felt his hands in her hair as he loomed over her, his eyes impossibly gorgeous as they stared down at her.

“Billy…” She felt lips stop their journey, felt him pull back slightly, saw his face as he looked at her, his eyes a mix of confusion and pleas.

“Before we go any further, I need you to promise me something…”

Billy’s eyes widened. He breathed heavily, his lips swollen, his hair tussled. “Anything,” he whispered, stealing a quick kiss, “absolutely anything.”

The smile spread across her face. “No skydiving. No bungee jumping.”

A burst of air left his mouth as he bent close to her lips once more. “Done.”

“Ohhh..that was easy,” she cooed, “what about taking risks and being alive…”

Billy gently pushed her back on the desk, his hands running through her hair and stopping as they framed her face, “Babe, don’t you get it? I never feel more alive than I do when I’m with you.” He smiled as his lips fell on hers once more

Home Is You

Philly one shot…stands alone….

 

Based on If you See Him/Her by: Brooks and Dunn 

If you see him
Tell him I wish him well
How am I doing?
Well, sometimes is hard to tell
I still miss him more than ever
But please dont say a word
If you see him
If you see him

Phyllis sat down on the sofa shaking her head as she spoke into the phone, “Sweetie, I told you to stop apologizing. I’m fine, honestly. You need to stay and focus on school. The holidays will be here before you know it and we’ll see each other then.”

Summer sighed. “I know, I just…I hate you being in a different city. I guess living with you again made me realize how much I like spending time with you and just hanging out.”

“Aww..I miss you too, honey–every day, but things are really getting settled here. The people at the office took me out for dinner for my one year anniversary. It was nice. It’s a good group of people.” Phyllis poured wine into the glass in front of her sipping it slowly. She hoped she sounded more convincing than she felt.

“That’s good. I’m glad you’ve found some friends. That’s important.” Summer sighed as she listened to her mother chatter on about her office mates a little while longer. It was a trait she’d inherited, she realized, the tendency to talk about nothing in an effort to avoid talking about the one thing that mattered.

“Mom,” she finally spoke, cutting her off. “Have you heard from him at all?”

Phyllis took another sip from her glass. “Summer,” she said softly. Every day she would make empty promises to herself–that today would be the day she wouldn’t think about him. She’d make herself a deal that if she could make it till lunch without seeing someone on the street that reminded her of him, she’d consider the day a success. She never made it.

“I have to get on with my life,” she said sadly, “it’s been a year.”

“I know, but Mom it’s so obvious that you still….”

Phyllis shook her head. She couldn’t do this. “You know what sweetie. I really should get going. I’ve got an early pitch in the morning–a whole group of grumpy old executives. I’ve got to have every ounce of my perky ready to go.”

She was avoiding, but a Summer understood. “Alright Mom, but if I see him, I’m….”

“Not going to say a word,” Phyllis said sternly. “I mean it, Summer. I’m calling in the Mom card on this one. No talking to Billy…not about me.”

Summer sighed. “Alright,” she said sadly. “I won’t. I love you, Mom. Good luck with your meeting.”

“Love you too, sweetheart. Sleep well.” Phyllis hung up, leaning back against the couch. Another lie–this time to her daughter. There was no meeting. There had been no anniversary dinner. There were no grumpy executives. There was loneliness though–no shortage of that.


If you see her
Tell her I’m doing fine
And if you want to
Say that I think of her from time to time
Ask her if she ever wonders
Where we both went wrong
If you see her
If you see her

Billy sat at the small table in the corner, his eyes moving slowly around the room. Ever since she left, they seemed to follow him–the happy couples in their endless parade of fairy tale love. It was difficult that she’d left him, that she’d not only walked away, but that she’d left town without a word. No goodbye–no nothing. He still couldn’t understand.

Months had passed and it hadn’t gotten any easier. He’d tried calling her, but she didn’t answer. He’d checked with Michael, with Daniel, with Avery–they all claimed to know nothing. When he’d asked Summer, he’d gotten the distinct impression that she knew something, but that she wouldn’t or couldn’t tell him.

As if on cue, Summer stepped through the door of Crimson Lights. Billy stood up. Some would call it a coincidence. Others would call it a sign. He walked towards the table where Summer took a seat. “Sign it is,” he mumbled to himself.

Summer, looked up, her eyes widening as she looked at Billy. “Billy,” she said, her voice pleasant and overly chipper, a smile plastered on her face. “How are you?”

Billy pulled out her chair, taking a seat. “I’m not great, Summer.” He thought he’d give honesty a shot. He’d heard it sometimes worked. “And I think you know why”

“Billy…I….”

“Summer, I know you know where your Mom is. She’d never leave without telling you where she was going. I also know she’s probably told you not to tell me.”

He looked at Summer, her silence serving as a perfectly legitimate response.

“So you don’t have to tell me,” he said. “Maybe you just write down her address and accidentally leave it…”

Summer opened her mouth to protest.

Billy raised his hand, stopping her first. “Summer,” he said softly, “please.”

He watched with relief as Summer reached into her purse, pulling out a pen and piece of paper.


If you see her
Tell her the lights still on for her

Billy closed his wallet, returning it to his back pocket. Front desk clerks were certainly more expensive to pay off than they used to be. It didn’t matter though, he thought to himself as he stepped into the elevator, his hand clutching the key card. Phyllis was worth any amount of money.

He could feel his heart racing as the buttons for the floors lit up. The elevator opened and Billy walked quickly to the door. He stood for a moment, considering his option. He took a breath, knocking first. Silence. He considered for a moment that Summer could have called her and warned her, but the desk clerk hadn’t said anything about her moving out.

He slid the key card in the door reader, opening the door slowly and stepping inside. He flipped on the light switch, his eyes scanning the room for signs of her presence. There it was–a tan sweater draped across the back of the chair. The feel of the soft knit fabric was so familiar and he breathed in deeply as he brought it to his face, the scent of her perfume transporting him back to the many times he’d held her in his arms.

The room was scarcely decorated–not entirely Phyllis for sure. This was somewhere she slept, somewhere she ate, not a home. Her heart wasn’t in this place. There were two pictures on the bedside table and he stepped closer to look. Summer’s smiling face stared back at her. Daniel and Lucy smiled from the other frame.

Billy smiled. At least she has something her to remind her of the people she loved. His hand rested on the handle of the drawer. He opened it slowly, lifting the stack of papers inside. He glanced at a contact from a prestigious marketing firm, a rental agreement, and a car lease. His eyes stopped as he saw the photo, his own face staring back at him. She did think of him, he thought, the breath leaving his body as he slowly sat down in the nearest chair.

He flipped the photo over, his breath catching as he saw the image underneath. “My God,” he whispered.

The image was dated–nearly a year ago. Phyllis’ name was typed across the top along with the name of a clinic he didn’t recognize.

Was it possible? This would explain why she’d left so suddenly, why Summer hadn’t told him anything, why none of her family had been willing to give him any information, but for him to believe this, he’d also have to believe that Phyllis would keep this from him…

His head was spinning do fast, his mind so busy sorting out potential scenarios that he didn’t hear her soft footsteps as she entered the room.

“Billy.” The word barely audible as she stood there.

Billy turned quickly, his eyes wide. Seeing her now brought a variety of emotions. He was thrilled, the sight of her immediately bringing a smile to his face–regardless of any other circumstance.

She stepped closer to him. “How did you?” The question was pointless–she knew. “Summer told you,” she said quietly. “I thought she might.”

“Don’t be upset with her, please,” Billy implored. “I practically begged her.”

“I’m not upset.” She stood beside the chair, her eyes now fixed upon the paper he held in his hands.

“Oh,” she whispered, looking away, not able to look into his eyes.

He stood, walking in front of her, staring into her eyes. “Phyllis,” he said quietly, “a baby, we have a baby?”

“No, Billy…we…” She looked away again.

Billy closed his eyes. “Jack? Jack’s the father?”

She felt tears filling her eyes as she forced herself to look at him. Thinking about Billy was painful enough, thinking about this….she couldn’t.”

“I….” Her voice broke, a sob stealing her voice.

Billy stood still, the realization rushing through him. “Phyllis,” he whispered, his own eyes now wet with tears.

His hands found hers. He could feel her trembling. He sat down in the chair, gently pulling her down beside him. There were so many questions, things he wanted to know, but the need to comfort her overwhelmed his desire to ask her anything.

She took another shaky breath. “I didn’t plan on not telling you. I just wanted to wait…to make sure….” Her voice trailed off, the memories of the day still fresh in her mind. She’d told no one. Not Summer, not Avery–no one. Her doctor here, the nurse–they were her only source of comfort. They’d looked at her with compassion when they’d asked if there was anyone they could call for her. She’d managed to nod and make it to her car before completely falling apart.

Days passed before she felt strong enough to get out of bed, but when she did and went back to work, she’d told everyone she’d had the flu. It was the only way…the only way she knew to try and survive.

He’d stroked her back gently, his heart breaking as she told him the story. When she’d finished, he’d pulled her closer to him, wrapping his arms around her, closing his eyes when he felt her shake with sobs. She’d whispered apologies while he’d quieted her, whispering apologies of his own. Finally, they both fell silent, simply taking comfort in being in each other’s presence.

“Billy,” she said softly, her voice breaking the silence that echoed throughout the room.

He stroked her hair as her head still lay on his shoulder. “Yeah,” he said quietly.

“It’s ok for you to be angry with me. I should have told you. You had a right to know about our baby.”

Billy shook his head. He could be angry. He’d missed the chance to celebrate their baby and now, the only thing left to do, was mourn. “I can’t be angry with you,” he said honestly. “I get why I could be and maybe even why I should be, but what you went through….” He took another breath. “You were here…alone…without me, without anyone. You suffered more than anyone by not telling me. Right now, the only thing I can think about–the only thing that matters is trying to do whatever I can to show you how much I love you, how much I miss you, how sorry I am that you’ve gone through all this alone.”

He touched her face, wiping away the freshly fallen tears. “But I’m here now, Phyllis. I’m here now and if you’ll let me. I’ll be here no matter what–from here on out.”

“You don’t have to stay here because of this. You have a life…you should live it.”

Billy stared at her, stunned. She still didn’t get it. “Don’t you see…I didn’t come here because of this…I didn’t know anything about the baby. All I knew was that I missed you–that my life felt empty without you, that holding you in my arms was the only time in my life that I felt like myself, that I felt like I was really living my own life.”

Phyllis stared at hm as he continued.

“You are my life,” he said quietly. “Without you, nothing’s right. I want you with me….for everything–the good and the bad, the celebrations and the tough stuff–I want to build a life with you–a home. We deserve that. We can have that…together.”

“But what about your kids, Billy? And your family?”

“My kids will be a part of our home. They will love you just like I do…and my family will learn to accept this…and if they can’t, then they’ll learn to keep their opinions to themselves, because I won’t let them do this to us.”

Phyllis smiled at him. She wanted this. She’d never been so sure. “When I left town, when I left you, I didn’t really know what I was leaving, but now, after being here without you, I know what you mean about life being empty. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed us. There’s nothing more I want in this world than to make a life with you, but I don’t want to be the person that makes you lose your family. I…”

He kissed her, pulling away and looking into her eyes, “Genoa City is our home and you are my family. Everything else will fall into place. So tell me, will you go back home with me, start a life, start our life?”

She took a breath, already feeling more at home than she’d felt in a year. She smiled up at him, a real smile, not the fake ones she plastered on at work, not the ones she flashed at Summer and Daniel on Skype to pacify them and prove she was ok. This was a real, genuine smile. “I would go anywhere with you,” she whispered, “home is wherever you are.”

The End

Cold Truth pt 3

Billy,

I’ve started this letter so many times–almost as many times as I’ve picked up the phone and dialed your number or turned my car around before I got to your house. There’s so much I want to say to you–so many things you deserve to know. This is the only way I can do this and I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry I’m too much of a coward to say these things to your face. It’s not because I don’t care–it’s because I care too much.

All these months, the times we spent together, I couldn’t let myself be honest about what I was feeling. I was so guilty about lying to Jack, about hurting him the way I did, that I overlooked how much I was lying to myself, how much I was lying to you, how much pain I was causing us.

The truth is I’ve loved you from the beginning, before we ever ended up in bed together, maybe even before we kissed the night of the storm. You cared about my thoughts and my feelings when I didn’t think anyone else did. You kept me from falling apart. You saved me when I didn’t think I could be saved–when I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be.

You risked everything for me and because you loved me, because you wanted a life with me, you lost everything. Your brother turned his back on you. Victoria is furious with you–she’s making it difficult for you to see your kids. Your mother is taking over your company, your house, she’s trying to take over your life. You’re suffering so much and it’s all because of me.

I wish it could be different. I wish I could come to you and tell you the truth, tell you everything, but I can’t look in your eyes and say the words. When I look in your eyes I believe everything will be ok. When you tell me we can get through anything together, you can make me believe it too, but this isn’t just about us anymore. It’s about your family, my family, our family.

I’m pregnant, Billy. I’m going to have a baby, our baby and I wish more than anything, more than you know, that I could stay here and share this with you, but it can’t work…not here…not with us.

You deserve to know this. You deserve to know how I feel. You deserve to know you’re going to be a father. You deserve the chance to be a part of this baby’s life, but I have to protect our baby now. I can’t stay here now–not when this child will be seen as a living, breathing reminder of the lie we told. Our baby doesn’t deserve that. We don’t deserve that.

I’ll be in touch as soon as I’m settled. Please know that I’m not trying to cut you out. I’m doing this for you–so that you can have your life here, so that you can get your family back. You deserve that and I want to give that to you after all you gave me, after the way you loved me.

Love you now and forever,
Phyllis

Billy stood, staring down at the letter, the tears in his eyes blurred his vision. There was so much information to process. Slowly he walked into the kitchen, filling a kettle with water and placing it on the stove. He grabbed two mugs and dropped tea bags into them as he shuffled back into the living room, his mind still foggy, his head still full of thoughts and questions. His eyes fell on her. She was still, her eyes closed, her breathing slow and peaceful. One hand now crept from under the quilt. It rested on her stomach. Thoughts flooded his mind, but one priority suddenly became clear.

He knelt beside her, his hands cupping her face. “Phyllis,” he whispered. “Hey, look at me.” The warmth in her cheeks brought him some comfort. She was no longer shivering and the color had returned to her cheeks. He had to believe she was ok–that they were both ok.

Her eyes fluttered open. “Billy.” She was quiet for a few seconds, sensing the concern in his face. “What is it?”

The letter was still clenched in his hand and he lifted it up for her to see. He still couldn’t quite get his mouth to form the words, his mind still spinning.

“The letter…you found it…”

“We need to get you to the hospital,” Billy said quickly, standing suddenly, his body spurring his mind into action.

She grabbed his hand, pulling him back down, her eyes gentle and slightly embarrassed. “I’m fine, Billy. I promise.”

“But just to be sure…I mean with the…” His voice broke, the magnitude of the moment finally settling in, “with the baby…maybe we should…”

She smiled, the softness in his eyes bringing tears to hers. “The baby’s fine…I’m fine. You made sure…like always.”

He nodded.

“Can you just stay here…with me? For a while?” Phyllis looked at him, almost afraid of his answer. He’d just read the letter she’d written where she told him she was leaving him, that she was walking away and now she was asking him to stay with her.

She started to speak as he stood without saying a word, but stopped herself. What did she expect. She flinched as she felt his hand on her shoulder and she smiled at him as he handed her the cup of tea.

“Chamomile,” he said softly, as he took a seat beside her, placing his own mug beside him on the floor. He put his arm around her, pulling her close to him, his heart beating faster as he felt her head fall to his shoulder.

“About the letter,” she began.

Billy looked down at her, the glow from the fireplace reminding him of the first time been here–on a night a lot like this. “You know I’m not gonna let you go,” he whispered.

Phyllis sighed. “Billy, it’s not fair to you, to your family, to your kids, to our baby.” A tear fell down her cheek as she looked at him.

“What about you? What’s fair to you? Being pregnant and alone in a new place? What if you need help? What if something happens?”

“I’ll call you–I told you that. I promised I’d keep in touch.”

“If we were together, you wouldn’t need to call me. I’d already be there.

“I could never ask you leave your kids, your family…”

“So don’t,” he said, staring into her eyes. “Stay here…with me.”

Cold Truth pt 2

“Phyllis!” He took her hands in his, blowing his warm breath on them, silently praying she’d open her eyes at any moment, flash him a mischievous smile, and tease him for being so gullible. “Phyllis, come on…please…talk to me.”

Desperation began to settle in soul as he realized he had so few options. He needed to get her inside–get her warm…

He reached around her, grabbing her, lifting her in his arm, staring down at her face. His breath caught in his throats as he saw her eyes blinking slowly back at him.

“Billy…” Her voice was slurred and slow. “What are you…where am I?” She shivered, her face confused. “I’m shaking…I don’t know…”

“That’s good,” he whispered, pulling her closer to him, pressing her to his chest as he struggled to open the door. “Shivering is good. You just keep talking to me, ok? We’re gonna get you inside…get you warmed up.”

Who knew his time at boarding school would ever prove useful? Before ski trips, they’d often discussed the dangers of hypothermia, about the symptoms, about the stages, the treatments, about how serious it was….how it could….

No…he couldn’t even entertain the thought. She couldn’t leave him. In some ways, she’d left him already, but there was something about knowing she was still here–still in this town that gave him comfort.

He shook his head, banishing the thought, refusing to believe–even for a second that she might leave him.

Billy gently placed her on the floor, in front of the couch, grabbing the blanket from the chair and the couch and rushing over the hall closet for the quilt and pillows. He spotted his discarded shirt laying on the back of the chair–another perk of bachelor life. He grabbed it. Her dress was soaked through.

“You still with me?” He called out her, gathering everything in his arms and pausing to turn on the gas logs before kneeling beside her again. His heart pounded when he didn’t get a response. “Phyllis! Come on….you gotta talk to me.”

“Mmmm I…ummm..

“I need you to try to talk to me.. ok, beautiful? You’ve never been the strong, silent type. What were you doing here tonight, huh? You come here to tell me something? You want to talk to me? Talk to me now, ok?”

He removed her jacket, laying it beside the fireplace and reached behind her, his fingertips finding the zipper of her dress.

Her head shifted slightly. “What are you…”

“We gotta get these wet clothes off you. I’m gonna get you warmed up.” He pulled the dress up and over her head, wrapping the shirt around her quickly and buttoning it. “God, you’re like ice,” he whispered, bounding the blankets and sheets around her face and neck as he covered her body and bare legs with the quilt. He moved her closer to the fireplace, wrapping his arms tight around her.

“What were you doing here, Phyllis, huh?”

“I wasn’t gonna stay,” she whispered, her eyes still droopy.

“I know…you were by your car and you locked your keys in, right?” He stroked her hair as she nodded slowly.

“Couldn’t leave,” she said quietly.

“I’m glad. I’m glad you stayed. I just wish it wasn’t like this. You gotta be careful. You can’t scare me like this…I’m getting old.” He smiled as he saw her lips twitch slightly.

She was more focused, and a little more alert.

“So, you said you were leaving but you still haven’t told me why you came…why you were here?”

A yawn escaped her mouth and she snuggled up against him, her voice more clear when she spoke now. “I can’t tell til I leave..you’re supposed to find out then.”

It sounded lucid yet the words made no sense. Billy looked down at her. There was Color returning to her cheeks, her pulse was no longer racing, her shivering had almost stopped and there was a marked difference in her body temperature. These were all signs that she was improving yet she seemed thoroughly confused.

“I don’t understand, Phyllis. How can I find out after you leave. If you’re not here to tell me…,does someone else tell me?”

“You didn’t see it…” Her voice rose at the end of her sentence as if her mind wasn’t sure if she was asking the question or making the statement.

Billy watched as her head dropped to his shoulder, exhaustion finally winning out. She was no longer shivering and her body felt normal to type. He’d check on her of course, but what she needed at this moment was sleep,

He gently placed a pillow under her head, standing still and watching her for a moment before walking away. He was looking for something–if only he knew what.

His eyes fell upon the black trash bags that sat everywhere and he lucked them up, throwing them into an unclaimed corner of the foyer. He glanced down as he lifted a bag, his name catching his eye.

The envelope was light, but he somehow knew how heavy the burden would be. He opened the envelope and began to read.

Cold Truth Pt 1

Author’s Note: This fic is loosely based on the lyrics below from Thompson Square’s, Glass (Thanks to Erin for the suggestion). This will be a three parter, I think.

We may shine, we may shatter,
We may be picking up the pieces here on after,
We are fragile, we are human,
We are shaped by the light we let through us,
We break fast, cause we are glass.
‘Cause we are glass.
I’ll let you look inside me, through the stains and through the cracks,
And in the darkness of this moment,
You see the good and bad.
But try not to judge me, ’cause we’ve walked down different paths,
But it brought us here together, so I won’t take that back.

She jerked down the visor, the automatic light confirming her fears–bloodshot, red, and swollen eyes, red, shiny nose, and a tear-stained face–all the markings of someone truly pathetic.

“You’ve got to pull yourself together, Phyllis.” She stared at her face in the mirror. The eyes that stared back at her seemed unconvinced. They were the same eyes that had stared at her in the rear view mirror on the drive over–the same eyes that had scoped out his driveway and pulled in when she realized his car wasn’t home. These were the eyes that had stared at the road for the past hour–wondering where he was, what he was doing, and who he was doing it with. These eyes had stared down onto blank paper and watched as she poured her heart out onto it. All her innermost thoughts written down in a letter.

Phyllis stared down at the envelope that sat in the passenger seat. Billy’s name was scrawled on the outside of the envelope. She looked back into the mirror. “What are you doing to yourself?”

Lying.

That’s what she was doing. She was lying and stalling. That letter was the most honest thing she’d ever written. She’d had to write it for fear she’d never be able to say it–not while looking into his eyes. The fear she’d buried from so many years ago rose up inside her as she thought of him walking away. She’d pushed him away so many times. Everyone has a breaking point–maybe Billy had reached his.

There were things he needed to understand, things she wanted to say, things he deserved to hear, things he had to know–so many things…. She couldn’t leave it like this.

Phyllis drew in a deep breath and grabbed the letter opening the car door. The cold air hit her like a slap in the face and she instantly regretted packing her coat in her luggage. Thankfully, she was just leaving the letter. She closed the car door and rushed to the the front door, easily pushing the letter under the door and into the foyer. She stood still for a moment, allowing her breath to slowly leave her body, the white smoke trailing in front of her face.

He would get the letter. He’d read it and he’d call her, but by then, the decision would have been made. She’d be in another town and he could still have his life here–he could still have his company, his family, his friends. They could figure something out, but not here–not together. He needed her gone, even if he wouldn’t admit it. Even if it was possible he didn’t even know it.

She was satisfied she had done the right thing, the prudent thing. Her footsteps made crunching noises as they crushed the mixture of snow and ice that covered the ground. She made a mental note to make quick work of her errands. There would surely be some flight delays before long. Her hand reached for the door, pulling at the handle.

“Not possible.” The white puffs seemed to mock her as they drifted in front of her face and she swatted them away as if they were annoying insects. She peered into the car window, her eyes falling on the keys, firmly planted in the cup holder right beside her phone. She groaned. “You have got to be kidding me!”

Wrapping her arms around herself tightly, she walked out towards the road. It was getting late and traffic was basically at a stand still. The nearest neighbors were over a mile up the road and she wasn’t even sure they were here year round.

She sighed. The wind whipped up again, the bitter cold cutting through the thin jacket. “You’ve really done it this time, Phyllis,” she muttered as she stomped back towards the front door. She stepped under the small shelter, sitting on the welcome mat and placing her back against the door. She drew her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms tight around her. At least she could block some of the wind this way. And anyway….Billy would be home soon. Any minute now…she was sure of it….

~

Billy gripped the wheel tight, his knuckles almost white. This had been a stressful night for a drive. Clearing his head had become an increasingly difficult task lately and the only thing that seemed to work was driving. He’d get in the car, turn up the music, and drive for hours. She wasn’t in the car with him. There were no memories there–just everywhere else. She was in his house, in his bed, at the park, on his bike, at the club, at the office…..she was everywhere.

He sighed, slowing as he neared his turn. His low beams focused on a car that seemed to be close to…no–it was in his driveway. His eyes widened as the car became more clear. It was her car. She was here, but why….

His foot smashed on to the brake, the car jerking to a sudden stop, his body lurching forward then back. He slammed the gear stick into park, not even bothering to turn the car off. He was out of the car in seconds, his legs moving almost independent from his body. He slid across the slick driveway, his hands touching her face.

Fear gripped his heart and a cold chill ran through him. She was silent, still, and so cold.  Nothing made sense. What was she doing here? Why was she outside in nothing but a jacket? Why wasn’t she moving, talking, screaming at him to leave her alone. So many times she’d told him to go away. So many times he’d begged her not to say those words, but at this moments, he’d gladly hear them. He’d gladly hear anything.

TBC

The Road Back pt 5

Based on: Unsteady by XAmbassadors

I’m alone
‘Cause this house don’t feel like home

If you love me
Don’t let go

Hold
Hold on
Hold on to me
‘Cause I’m a little unsteady
A little unsteady

Billy took a few slow steps, hesitating slightly before he sat down on the edge of the bed. “You think I don’t care?” He shook his head. “I don’t even know what to say to that…I don’t know how you could think that.”

She dropped her head, closing her eyes as she felt his hand on her cheek. Her mind was cloudy, the pain medication kicking in just as the doctor had warned it would. “I don’t know,” she whispered, struggling to raise her eyes to look at him again, “you seem to be ok…better…better than me…not like I feel…” Her head bobbed again and he gently reached out to pull the covers down.

He leaned her back, fluffing the pillows behind her as he covered her with the sheet and blanket. “You need to get some sleep,” he said softly. “We can talk about this later.”

Her eyes opened again, looking at him. It would be so easy to crawl in beside her, to take her in his arms, to feel her next to him as night turned to day, but he couldn’t–he couldn’t be sure it was what she wanted. She was hurt, vulnerable, medicated–too many variables that could change the course of events. He leaned down, pressing his lips to her forehead. “You sleep,” he whispered.

~
Billy sat up, sighing in total frustration. Sleep was clearly not a realistic goal tonight. He’d tried everything–reading, watching tv, wine–and nothing….Every time he closed his eyes he thought of her, he imagined her upstairs in his shirt, in his bed…. He thought of every time they’d been together, but also every time they’d had to part. Being with her was worth every goodbye, but the goodbyes got harder as time went on.

He rubbed his face, in part trying to scrub the memories from his mind. He cherished the moments with her and he survived on the mental images he kept, but he also tortured himself. Night after night he dreamed of her, of what their life could be….

The noise was almost imperceptible at first, but as he stood and walked closer to the stairs, he could hear her voice.

“Billy….”

He took the stairs two at a time, his breath catching when he saw her splayed out on the floor. “Phyllis..” He knelt beside her, his arms wrapping around her, lifting her easily. “Are you ok?” He looked at her, his eyes running over her bare legs.

“I’m fine,” she said quietly. “I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“I wasn’t sleeping and besides I want you to call me if you need me.” His hand cupped her face, the look in her eyes melted him. “What exactly were you trying to do?”

“Water,” she whispered. “I’m really thirsty…I guess it’s the medicine or something…” She looked down at his hand which was now resting on her bare leg.

He followed her gaze and started to pull away when he felt her hand on his, gently stroking his hand. “I can get you some water.” His eyes locked with hers. It was hard to tell what she was thinking.

“That’s ok. I’m not really that thirsty anymore.” She shifted closer to him, turning her body towards him, her torso now inches from him.

“God I’ve missed you,” she whispered.

Billy froze. This is what he’d dreamed of. She was coming to him–not because of Jack, not because of revenge, not because he was confused, but because she wanted him.

“Phyllis.” He slid back, putting space between them for a moment. It was insanity to question her, but he couldn’t deal with another brutal bait and switch. He couldn’t listen to her tell him everything he longed to hear and then change her mind. His heart couldn’t handle it.

His hands moved to her shoulders, his breath deepened as he stared at her. “You know how much I want this…you know how much I want to believe that you want this, but before…what you said…”

She felt the tears begin a hot, wet trail down her cheek, his fingers wiping them away. “I know…I know I hurt you. I know I confused you, but I was confused. I was so confused…”

“I don’t want to upset you and I don’t want you to think for a second that I don’t understand what you’ve been through or that I expect or want you to tell me anything other than the truth about how you feel and what you want. It’s just…” He stopped, taking her hands in his before speaking again. “I need you to understand how much this matters to me…how much you matter to me. If this isn’t what you want. If you’re not sure…really sure–don’t say it…don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

For a moment she was silent and he was certain he had made her choice for her. He looked away for a moment.

Her hand gingerly touched his chin, turning his face back towards her. “I used to wake up in the morning and feel happy and content. The last few months that hasn’t been the case. I’ve been filled with guilt and anger and confusion, but .I’ve also been so incredibly unhappy. Even recently, staying with Summer, I wake up and I feel like Im watching someone else live their life…like I’m disconnected from everything and I didn’t know how to fix it.”

His eyes were filled with compassion as they watched her.

“Tonight…when I opened my eyes–in this bed, in this house–in your house…that feeling was gone. I felt like I was where I should be. I know I’m where I want to be. I know Ive said the words before and I know I’ve given you plenty of reasons to doubt that I’ll stick to my word, but I’ve never been this certain of anything. I’ve never felt more at peace, more content, more at peace, than I do in this house….”

There were plenty of questions he could ask, plenty of hoops he could make her jump through. He could keep her at a safe distance, protect his heart from a potential shatter….He could do all those things, or he could stop and look into her eyes. He could see the sincerity, the love, the emotion. He could pull her close to him, wrap his arms around her, bury his face in her hair, breathe in the intoxicating smell of her shampoo.

He could kiss her shoulder, her neck, her face. He could kiss away every tear, kiss her nose, and finally her lips. He could do this over and over again until he felt her hands on his–until he felt her place them on his shirt, until he heard her whisper in his ear, until neither of them could come up with a reason to wait any longer. He could take his time, knowing there was no need to rush this time.

And he did–he did all this and more.

She was his and he was hers. It was a long road but they were finally home.

The Road Back pt 4

Based on : Let Me Help You Work It Out by Charley Pride
There is something in your heart weighing heavy on your mind
You need gentle arms to hold you like these gentle arms of mine
You need love and understanding and the shoulder you can cry on
You need someone to rely on you don’t have to be alone
Let me help you work it out help you face the situation
Count on me for consolation let me help you work it out

Let me help you work it out I’m the one who’ll always care
When you need me I’ll be there let me help you work it out
Let me help you work it out…

~

“Billy,” Phyllis sighed as he struggled to open the door and maneuver her inside. “I really don’t think this is a good idea. I appreciate it-I really do, but you don’t have to do this. I’m not your responsibility. This not your problem”

Billy deposited her on the couch, huffing as he pushed the ottoman under her foot. “You’re a nice problem to have and this is absolutely a good idea–and even if you don’t agree with that, you have to agree it’s necessary.”

“It’s not necessary. The doctor didn’t say I needed someone with me.”

“Well, he said non weight bearing which means you won’t be claiming stairs very well and unless Summer’s apartment has some secret elevator I’ve never seen…”

“Tell me smart guy, where’s the elevator here?”

Billy stood, raising his arms and dramatically taking a bodybuilder pose. “You’re looking at it,” he grinned.

She smiled back at him, her eyes drooping and he sat down beside her, satisfied he’d made his case.

He gently brushed the hair away from her face as he watched her yawn. “It’s been a long day..why don’t you let me take you upstairs?”

Her eyes widened immediately as she looked up at him.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” he stammered. The second the words left his lips he’d heard the way they sounded–as if he was somehow taking for granted they’d be sharing a bed. He’d never be that presumptuous and he’d certainly never want Phyllis to think that word his expectation, or even worse, his motive.

“It’s ok.” Her voice was soft. The panic in his eyes warmed her heart. He was so worried about saying the right thing, acting as he should, doing what was right–he was as nervous as any junior high boy on their first date and she found it nearly irresistible. “I know what you meant.”

He nodded, relieved. He easily lifted her, her arms forming a loose ring around his neck. She let her head rest against his shoulder as he carried her carefully up the stairs. They reached the bedroom and she was surprised when he turned in the doorway of his room.

“You take my room,” he said softly, “the bathroom’s attached and there’s more room to move around the bed. It’ll be easier.” He placed her on the edge of the bed. “I’ll get you something to sleep in.”

The shirts hung neatly in the closet and, as he stared at the choices, he couldn’t help remembering the way she’d looked that day. They had just come back from a disastrous ride and she’d gone upstairs to clean up and put her clothes in the laundry. The sight of her walking down those stairs in his shirt had caused his heart to pound only he’d never let on–not to her, not to Jack, not even really to himself.

Now as he remembered the moment again, the sights and sounds as vivid as they were the moment they occurred, he couldn’t recall a time he didn’t gave feelings for her. He pulled a shirt off the hanger, the feel if the fabric in his hands sent thoughts flying through his mind. He wondered how the fabric would feel against her skin, how it would fall to the floor in a heap or if it would delicately waft–if the buttons would undo easily or if they’d require assistance, like her shirt on their first night together

He shook his head. He had to stop this. She was here because she needed his help. She needed someone to take care if her–not lust after her like a dig in heat. He held out the shirt to her and turned his back.

“Just let me know if you need any help,” he said, trying to be respectful.

“Ok,” Phyllis was confused. Billy was running completely hot and cold. One minute she’d swear he was moments away from asking her to move in again and the next she expected him to give her a bill for home health care. It was all very strange.

“All done,” she said quietly, her voice full of resignation. Maybe she had finally pushed enough…maybe this time Billy was through coming back.

“You need anything else?” He asked, moving towards the door, barely even making eye contact. Billy drew in a deep breath as he waited for an answer. He had to set boundaries, respect limits–part of that was keeping his distance, both physically and emotionally, but when he looked at her–Jesus–all those boundaries, all the limits, every ounce of resolve he every had disappeared.

“One thing,” Phyllis said flatly. “Please tell me what I did to make you like this.”

“Like what?”

Phyllis swallowed, already feeling the barrage of emotions that wanted to well up within her. “You’ve managed to figure out how to stop caring…how to stop being affected by any of this.”

There were no words. His brain felt as if it could explode. How could she think he didn’t care? How could she possibly believe?

“I get it, ” she continued, “I didn’t expect you to wait for me to change my mind. I know I’ve told you time and time again that we’re over but I don’t know….I just…”

Billy stared at her. Tears filled her eyes as she struggled to find the words to explain her garbled feelings. “You just what? What?”

“I just wish I could be more like you…it would hurt a lot less if Zi could just stop caring…if I could just stop loving you so damn much.”

The Road Back pt 3

Based on Lay Me Down by Sam Smith:

Can I lay by your side?
Next to you, you
And make sure you’re alright
I’ll take care of you
I don’t want to be here if I can’t be with you tonight

He could feel her breathing, the slow, deep breaths and he knew she had fallen asleep as she lay against him. It would have been easy to close his eyes too, with the crisp autumn air drifting in through the open hatchback and the soft, soothing sounds of nature just outside, but he didn’t want to miss this moment. It was a rare treasure to hold her in his arms and simply listen to her breathe–to know, at least for this moment, that she was here with him, that she was safe, that they were together–as it should be.

Yellow lights flashed through the window and she stirred in his arms.

“The tow truck’s here,” he whispered, trying to hide the disappointment. He would have been happy to spend the entire night there with her. The venue no longer mattered. He would go anywhere, do anything–if it meant he could be with her.

She scooted towards the edge of the trunk, jumping to her feet and looking over her shoulder for him to follow.

An older gentleman approached and Phyllis walked over to him, smiling easily and gesturing to the car. Billy stood back, watching her. He saw her open the car door and then step back, her face confused.

“What’s going on?” Billy asked, stepping up behind her.

Phyllis turned, sighing in irritation. “Well, apparently, he can rescue my car, but he has to leave me stranded. I can’t ride in the car while it’s being towed–obviously and he can’t let me ride in the truck, so I’m stuck here…” She saw the look on his face and knew exactly what he was thinking.

“You can ride with me,” he said quietly, standing close enough to her for her to feel the warmth radiating from his skin.

“I’m not sure that’s a great idea,” she said quietly, as she watched the man attach her car to the truck.

“You’d rather spend the night out here?” He smiled as he looked down at her. He did enjoy this–the fact that she almost had to accept his offer of help… “with the raccoons and the bobcats….you could create your own version of Jungle Book out here…”

“Ok,” she huffed. “You’re right. I don’t want to stay here. I want to go home, soak in a bath, have a glass of wine.” She closed her eyes for a moment, imagining how nice it would feel to slip into a warm bubble bath surrounded by candles, a nice glass of red wine in her hand. She’d lean back against him, letting his arms wrap around her….Her eyes flew open, focusing on him. The look in his eyes made her wonder if he could read her mind. “Alone.” she managed, clearing her throat.

Billy nodded, a knowing smile on his face. “Lets go.” He reached for the helmet, handing it to her. “Here.”

“Where’s yours?” She asked, holding the helmet in her hand.

“Only brought one tonight,” he said quickly, hopping on the bike and starting it up, “didn’t expect to be picking up any passengers.”

Phyllis stood still. “I think you should wear it.”

“Not up for discussion,” he said as he reached out and took the helmet from her hands. He placed it on her head, pulling the strap tight under her chin. “You gonna hop on?”

She climbed on the back, her body reacting immediately to the close contact. She took a deep breath, her hands roaming over his chest of their own violation.

Billy breathed in. “Ok back there?” The sharp intake of breath had been impossible to miss and the surge of heat from her body as she’d pressed up against him had been matched only by the heat that also coursed through him.

He felt her nod he released the kickstand. This would be quite the ride.

~

“Just lean on me.” Billy walked slowly, watching her face contort in pain with each step. “Alright…Alright…that’s enough.” He scooped her up, his arms wrapping around her comfortably–as if this was exactly where she was meant to be.

“Billy,” she hissed, “I can walk. I told you–I’m fine. It’s just a sprain.”

“Right,” he responded, glancing doubtfully at her. “I’m fairly certain sprains don’t cause the foot to bend that way.”

“What do you mean? She struggled to look at her foot, her eyes glimpsing the contorted bone for a moment.

“No…no..no..no..no…” Billy grasped her face gently, turning her face back towards him. “Let’s not look at that…you just look at me ok?”

Phyllis took a breath, the pain getting worse as the foot continued to swell. She looked at him, a small cut on his forehead bled slowly. “You’re bleeding,” she said softly, reaching into her pocket and grabbing a napkin. She dabbed at the cut gently. “A little chicken grease shouldn’t hurt anything,” she smiled.

“Don’t worry about me,” he said. “I’m fine. I just want to get somebody to take care of you.” His eyes scanned the busy ER.

“I think we’re gonna have to wait. Why don’t we just grab a seat?”

Billy nodded, stepping over to two vacant seats and helping her settle into one. He pulled a vacant chair in front of her and lifted her leg gently. She grimaced as he touched her foot, removing her shoe. “Sorry,” he whispered. “You need to keep this elevated.”

He sat beside her, his eyes studying her stressed face. She was clearly in pain, probably more than she would ever admit and he hated not being able to fix it for her.

She could tell he was blaming himself for this and it wasn’t his fault, though she knew she’d never be able to convince him of that. “Billy–stop it….”

“Stop what?”

“Blaming yourself…you had to take that turn–if not we could have been hit. That idiot was flying. He was headed straight for us.”

“If I hadnt turned as sharp, we would have hit the grass–the bike wouldn’t have kicked back as hard, you might not have been knocked off…”

“Or we could have not made it far enough off the road and he could have killed us. You saved us.”

“I’ll always try to take care of you, Phyllis. I’ll do everything in my power…I know what you say..I know what you say you feel or don’t feel, but it doesn’t change what I feel.”

Phyllis saw the look in his eyes as he spoke. It was so hard not to react to his intensity. “Billy…”

The nurse touched her shoulder softly. “You can step into bay 3 now,” she said quietly.

Billy nodded, leaning down and helping her up. “Later,” he said quietly. “Right now lets focus on you. That’s what’s important.”

The Road Back pt 2

Based on:

Passenger Seat by Stephen Speaks:

And as we go I see the lights
Watch them glimmer in her eyes
In the darkness of the evening

We stop to get something to drink
My mind clouds and I can’t think
Scared to death to say i love her
Then a moon peeks from the clouds
Hear my heart that beats so loud
Try to tell her simply

Phyllis stared down the dark road. There was something rather disturbing about being so vulnerable. She was used to being the one in control and tonight, she was anything but–broken down on the side of a deserted road. Much as she hated to admit it, she didn’t like being here alone. The silence made her uneasy.

The light of Billy’s motorcycle was nothing short of heaven sent. She got out of the car quickly, meeting him before he even made it off the bike.

“You ok?” He asked, noting her rattled countenance. He knew her far better than she liked to admit and this was nothing like the clam, collected Phyllis that typically showed up.

“Yeah, of course. I just…it’s dark out here and it’s really quiet.” She shrugged, now feeling a little silly. “It’s creepy,” she admitted, looking away from him, embarrassed of her own limitations.

“You don’t have anything to worry about.” He reached out, touching her shoulder lightly. “I’m back and I’ll protect you from the rabid raccoons and bobcats and the would be axe murderers that might be hiding in these woods.”

Her eyes widened and she heard him laugh. “That’s not funny. You don’t know what could be in there. If someone escaped from prison or something, that’s exactly where they’d go…it’s like the perfect scene from a horror movie.”

“Well if it’s in a horror movie, it must be true.”

“You know if you’re just gonna make fun of me,” She turned her back to him.

“I can go if you want.”

“No,” she said quickly, turning back around to face him. “I don’t want you to go.” She looked down at her hands, realizing for the first time that they were tightly clasped around his.

He sighed. “I’m not gonna leave you here.”

His voice was so earnest, his face unable to be really seen in the darkness, but easy for her to imagine. The last few weeks she’d been so dedicated to trying to make Jack see how sorry she was that she’d been determined to stay away from Billy completely.

Without seeing him, it had been easier to keep the thoughts of him out of her mind. She didn’t continually dream about the days she’d spent with him, but tonight, after seeing him again, she realized she was no closer to being over him than she had been the second she’d stepped out of his arms.

Billy watched her face as she stared at him. Shadows danced across her cheeks as the moon drifted behind a cloud. “You ready to eat?”

She nodded. “Did you call the tow?”

“Yeah, its just gonna take a while.”

He couldn’t pretend to be upset that he had a chance to spend some time alone with her. The fact that she was without an escape plan was an added bonus.

“Why don’t you pop the hatchback?” He said softly, walking over to his bike to retrieve the food.

Phyllis hesitated.

“Unless you’d rather eat on the ground.”

“Oh,” she felt her cheeks flush with redness and she was suddenly very thankful for the discretion the dark of night provided.

She reached inside the car and pressed the button to release the hatchback. She watched as Billy walked around back and climbed inside. He heard his hand out to her and she stepped up and sat inside.

Her eyes narrowed as she studied the bucket.

The interior lights now cast dim lights on them. “Is that fried chicken?”

“Of course it’s fried chicken..haven’t you ever been tailgating? You eat chicken wings and drink beer. I would have brought beer but people are weird about ordering beer at a drive thru for some reason.”

Phyllis laughed. “I can’t imagine why.”

“So, we’ll have to deal with bottled water,” he sighed, “An affront to tailgaters everywhere.” He smiled at her. “So beautiful, how long’s it been since you’ve been to a proper tailgating?”

She opened the water bottle before taking a sip and gingerly taking the chicken wing he handed her. “Uh…”.

“Do not tell me…”. Billy clutched at his chest, “Seriously? You’ve never gone tailgating?”

“I don’t think so,” she giggled. “I’m not entirely sure of what that entails.”

Billy groaned, leaning back. “You’re killing me here. Tailgating is an American tradition–you sit out before a game and eat and talk, listen to the pregame…”.

Phyllis listened. “So why not just wait til you get to the real game? Don’t they have food in there?”

“Sure they do, but you tailgate for the experience…for fun.” Billy watched her, amused by her quizzical expression.

“Okay,” she said quietly, still holding her chicken wing in her fingertips.

“You gonna eat that?” He asked as he pulled another chicken wing from the bucket and brought it to his mouth.

“Yeah, I was just looking for a fork.”

“A fork? Phyllis–you do not eat chicken wings with a fork. That’s like eating pizza with a knife and fork.”

She said nothing.

“You use a knife and fork for pizza?”

“Maybe?” She said, only slightly defensive. “What’s wrong with that?” She smiled at him as she watched his face change.

“Nothing, M’Lady. I just never realized the caliber of my dining companion.” He took the chicken wing from her hand, pulling the chicken from the bone.

“Here.”

“Billy,” she laughed, “you don’t have to feed me. I’m perfectly…”.

Billy tossed the bit of chicken into her mouth and laughed as she started to chew. “See….isn’t that good?”

He smiled brightly as she giggled in return. “Yes, ok. Yes, it’s good.” She took the rest of the chicken wing from him, bringing it to her mouth and taking a bit.

“See,” he smirked, “I knew you could do it. That’s really sexy by the way.”

Phyllis pulled her legs up underneath her as she got more comfortable. “Well, who knew all I needed to be sexy was some chicken wings,” she said with a smile as she wiped her hands on the napkin.

“Trust me, you don’t need anything.”

There was silence between them for a moment. Time after time he was presented with this reality–the fact that without her his life was incomplete. He watched her, the moon casting shadows through the window as the interior light cast a soft glow across her face. She was beautiful as she sat there..no matter what she said, no matter what she did. She was his everything. He’d known it from the beginning and he’d told her as much. Now, as he watched her eyes staring back at him, he wondered if she was starting to believe him.

There was so much he wanted to say to her, but he was afraid of saying too much..of pushing too hard–too far, but if not now, when?

“Phyllis,”

She looked up at him, her green eyes glistening in the moonlight.

He searched her expression, wondering if she was going to push him away again.

“I know you may not want to hear this but I need to say it. Regardless of what you do, where you go, who you’re with, you’re still it for me. I love you, Phyllis. I always will.”

She opened her mouth, her eyes full of expression, but he couldn’t tell what the expression meant.

“Wait,” Billy said, cutting her off. “Just don’t say anything. Please…don’t say anything at all.”

Phyllis looked at him, the look in her eyes now more clear. She reached out, her hand finding his in the dark. She touched him, his skin warm as his fingers laced through hers. Moving closer to him, she let her back lean against his chest, grateful when she felt his arms wrap around her. Not a word was said.

This time, the silence was nice.