“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.
“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….”
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…”
“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