Private Paradise pt 10

“Billy,” Phyllis hissed,  swatting him playfully.  “I might have guessed this was what you had in mind.”

He shook his head.  “Once again, you underestimate me,” he smiled, reaching for her room key.  “I’m just bringing you back here to change.  Think beach casual,” he grinned.

“Beach casual?,” she giggled.  “You know I’m not even sure that’s a thing, right?”

He leaned in, placing a quick kiss on her lips.  “I have total faith in you.  I’ll meet you back here in ten minutes.”

~

Billy slowly walked in the door.  He stopped, listening as he heard the sound of what he suspected was shoes being hurled at the wall.  “Phyllis?” he called out.  “You ok in there?”

“Billy?” Her voice was tense.  “You’re already dressed?”  She sighed loudly.  “I swear..men have it so easy…pick a shirt, pick pants and you’re set.”

He laughed, the smile spreading across his face as she continued to rant.  He stood, walking slowly into the room.  “I guess you could say…”  He stopped, his mind suddenly void of all thoughts.

“What?” she said, her hands brushing down the front of the shift dress.  “Is it too casual?  You won’t tell me what we’re doing, so I’m not sure what I’m dressing for. I…”

“No…No..” he stuttered, stepping closer to her.  “It’s..it’s perfect.  You look perfect.”

The dress itself was simple, more of a slip than a dress really, with thin straps he couldn’t help but imagine pushing off her shoulders later.  Overtop the solid slip  lay a sheath of thin, intricate lace work.  Her hair was down, her sunglasses pushing the tresses out of her face as they perched on top of her head.  She stood, still staring at him, earrings in hand.

“Are you sure?” she asked again, walking over to the mirror and turning to look at herself as she put on the final earring.  “If I need to, I can change.”

“Don’t you dare,” he whispered, walking over and catching her to quickly kiss her cheek before she went back to the shoes.  “I can’t imagine you could look any more beautiful than you already do.”

“I need shoes,” she whispered, turning back to the pile on the floor in front of her.

Billy grinned.  “What are you doing with all the shoes here anyway?  It’s a five day cruise?”

Her eyes darted back at him dramatically.

“Forget I asked.”

~

“Have I mentioned that control is one of my buttons?”

Billy laughed softly.  “A couple times.”  He reached over, grabbing her hand as she walked beside him.  “I promise…this is something you’ll like.”

“Billy..” she whined.  “This is all very romantic and I know that most women love surprises, but I’m not most women..I’m really not.  In my life, surprises really haven’t worked out all that well and I kind of like to know what I’m walking into.”

“You haven’t had experience with my surprises.  I give great surprises.”

She sighed.  “You’re not gonna tell me anything, are you?”

He stopped for a moment, turning towards her and leaning in for a quick kiss.  “I love you,” he said softly.  “How’s that?”

Phyllis smiled.  All her life she’d wondered what it would be like to truly feel secure, to not wonder and worry about how she would handle the next crisis, the next betrayal, the next fallout.  What must it be like to live in a world where she simply let all that go?  Where she simply just focused on the here and the now?  Where she just focused on being happy, being loved, being safe—where she just focused on being with Billy—Could she do that?  Was that even possible?

“Here we are.”

Phyllis blinked, looking out, the smell of fresh sea air suddenly overtaking her.  “Billy,” she breathed.  “This is absolutely beautiful.”

He smiled.  “See, I told you you’d like it.”

~

Phyllis smiled as he pulled out her chair.  She took a seat and waited for him to walk around the table.  “What is all this?”

Billy smiled.  It was so good to see her happy.  For so long, he’d felt that was what Phyllis needed—to truly find happiness again.  She’d suffered so much in her life, at the hands of her father, Victor, the men in the life, and yes, of her own choices, but the suffering had so far outweighed the chances for joy.  Phyllis deserved joy.  She deserved happiness.

When others looked at her and saw anger, volatility, and vengeance, her saw passion, unpredictability, and a sense of justice.  He loved the fire in her—the way she fought for what was right, at all costs, the way she loved so deeply and completely.  And yes, she was complicated, but that made her fascinating in all the wonderful ways.

Even now, even as he looked at her across the table, her eyes full of wonderment; he could hardly believe how lucky he was to be with her.

He reached out, taking her hands as he had so many times before.  “I just wanted to do something nice,” he said softly.  “I saw this excursion in the itinerary and I thought you’d enjoy it.  We’ll have dinner and then they take a group of us out on a glass bottomed boat for a sunset boat ride.  You can see the fish and everything.”  He smiled as he saw the smile on her face.  “No jellyfish this way.”

She giggled.  “That sounds amazing.”

“I wish we could have gotten a private boat, but apparently there are other people here.”  Billy rolled his eyes playfully.

Phyllis smiled, her eyes sparkling at him.  “I think I can squeeze in some one on one time for you later.  So…what’s on the menu?”

Billy’s smile widened, his eyebrows raising slightly.

“For dinner,” she chided, shaking her head.  “I can’t take you anywhere, can I?”

“That one’s on you…you can’t make promises like that and expect me not to have impure thoughts.”

“I’ll have to remember that.”  She paused, staring at him for a moment.  “Hey,” she whispered, a little more serious.  “Thank you for this.”

He heard the sigh leave her lips, almost as if the weight of her worries were finally leaving with it.

“I don’t know how you knew what I needed, but this was it.” Her eyes looked deeply into his as she spoke again.  “You always know.”

Her hand was warm as he brought it to his lips for a gentle kiss.  “You’re welcome,” he whispered, “but you know you never have to thank me.  All you ever have to do is be here because all I need is you.”

Private Paradise pt 9

“Thank you,” she whispered smiling as Billy wrapped the oversized towel around her shoulders.

“You’re welcome,” he whispered, stealing a quick kiss before taking her hand and leading her over to the oversized deck chairs.  “You know what? I think your shoulders are getting a little pink.”

Phyllis smiled.  “I think that’s pretty close to impossible considering you’ve umm…helped me apply sunscreen about four times in the past two hours.”

“I’m very vigilant about skin health you know.  I work in cosmetics and this is an issue very close to my heart.”  He looked at her, giving her his best impression of earnest sincerity.

“Uh huh—well while I appreciate your sincere concern, I think my hydration is a bigger priority here.”  She grinned at him, batting her eyes and running her fingers up and down his bare chest.  “I saw a tray of drinks walk by earlier that looked to die for.”

He brought her hand to his lips, kissing it quickly before standing up.  “Any specific request?”

“Surprise me.”  She stared up at him, the look in her eyes almost enough to make him forget his entire purpose.

“Back in a few,” he whispered.  She watched as he headed over to the freestanding bar across the deck.

The sun was warm and so incredibly relaxing.  She could hear the gentle music playing from the speakers and the idle chatter from the upper decks, but despite the number of people around, she somehow felt like she and Billy were in their own idyllic, private paradise.  The warm hand on her arm broke her though and she smiled, turning on her side to make room for him before opening her eyes.

“Oh,” she said in surprise as her eyes fell on the face of a stranger.

“I’m sorry,” he said, taking a seat on a lounge chair beside her.  “I didn’t mean to startle you.  I’ve just been waiting for you to have a minute alone.”

Phyllis sat up, pulling the towel a little closer around her.  “Oh,” she stammered.

“It’s just…I saw you earlier this morning and I wanted to ask you for a drink later.”

“I….Well, thank you, but I’m with someone.”  Phyllis looked over at the bar.  Billy still stood in line about two people deep.  “He’s actually just getting us some drinks now.”

The man smiled, shifting a little closer to her.  “You know there’s a private par over there for resort members—We could walk right up to the bar and have a drink right now.”

“Look, I appreciate the offer, but I’m with someone.  I’m not available for drinks..not now…not at all.”  She watched the face of the man, whose mouth curved into a smile.

He leaned in a little closer, his knees almost touching hers.  “Come on—you look like a smart woman—the kind that likes to keep your options open.”  His hand touched her bare leg.

Phyllis stood up, pushing his hand away.  “Ok!” Her voice was raised now.  “I’ve tried to be nice, but you really don’t seem to be hearing what I’m saying.  You’ve clearly already visited the bar today, so I’m going to give you one more chance to walk away from me before…”

“Phyllis,” Billy stood behind him, a drink in each hand.  “Everything ok?”

“Yeah,” she said standing and taking the drink from him.  “I was just explaining to this gentleman that I couldn’t have drinks with him because I was with someone and he was just getting ready to go back over to the bar.”

The man looked up.  Billy glared at him, stepping closer to Phyllis, hand now resting on her shoulder.

“Yeah,” he mumbled, standing slowly and walking away.

A puff of air escaped Billy’s lips and he settled in beside Phyllis.  He took a sip from his drink before sitting it down beside him.  “Sorry,” he sighed.

“For what?” she asked, her eyes confused.

“I know you don’t like me acting all jealous…and possessive. I just..I don’t like seeing some guy hitting on you.  It kind of makes me a little nuts.”

Phyllis smiled.  “You know what, in most cases, you’d be right.  I’d hate it if you were jealous and possessive, but this time, it was okay.  In fact, it was more than ok…it was kind of wonderful.”

“Really?” His eyebrows raised as his lips curved into a smile.  “You’ve decided my needy, insecure streak has merit?”

She laughed softly.  “I guess I kind of like that you think someone else would want to take me away from you.  It keeps you on your toes.”

“Seriously? Baby every guy on this ship has noticed you.”

Phyllis ducked her head, resting it on her shoulder.  “Really?” she breathed. “And umm..I guess I’m not supposed to notice the little groups of women that almost break their necks every time you walk by?”

“What?” he smiled.

“Oh, please,” she giggled, “Like you haven’t noticed.”

“Why would I ever notice any other woman when I’m sitting here with the most gorgeous woman on the face of the planet?”

She sighed, peppering his chest with tiny kisses.  “You’ve very good, Billy Abbott.  I’ve got to give you credit.  You know just the right things to say.  I think you could talk yourself out of just about anything.”

He grinned, his dimples peeking out in a way that made him look both adorable and slightly impish.

The fit of laughter started deep within her.  “That look,” she giggled.  “I’m afraid to even ask what that look’s about.”

“Well, I was just thinking—you said I could probably talk myself out of anything.  I was just curious could I also talk you into anything?”  His smile grew wider as he stared at her.  The look on her face with a mix of confusion and intrigue.  This was the part of her he loved most, the free spirit, fun loving, adventure seeking, devil may care woman that still kept that fire in her—even though it had been contained for so long.

“That depends,” she whispered.  “What exactly did you have in mind?”

“Follow me,” he grinned.

If it had been anyone, she might have hesitated, worrying that agreeing to something without any details would have been foolish, but with Billy she had no doubt it would be something she’d never forget.  The truth was, she’d follow him anywhere—without so much as a second thought.

 

Desperate Times pt 6

Nick looked up from his desk as Billy walked back into the office.  “Did you get Jack?”

Billy shook his head.  “He’s not picking up…of course there’s no guarantee he’d answer my call.  He thinks this is all some kind of scam anyway.”

“What?”  He knew Jack was taking the affair hard, but when someone you loved was in trouble, you put all that aside—at least that’s what he thought.

“Yeah,” Billy sighed, “He thinks Phyllis is pulling some kind of scam to get him to admit he cares I guess and apparently he thinks I’m involved in it with her.”

Nick’s eyes widened.  “I mean I know Phyllis has pulled some crazy stunts in the past but I there’s no reason for her to involve me in this.”

“To be fair, he doesn’t know you’re involved.”  He took a breath, still more than a little disgusted by his brother’s reaction.  “Were you able to get in touch with Summer?”

“Yeah.  I didn’t really want to tell her something like this over the phone, but she said she’s planning on staying at the dorms for the weekend to cram for exams.”

Billy nodded.  “That’s good.  She’ll be around lots of people that way and I’m sure the dorms have good security.”

“Yeah…they do.”  Nick stared down at the paper in front of him.  “We need to get this to the police.”

“Are you sure that’s the best idea?”  He saw Nick’s eyes narrow.  “I mean I know the police are better equipped to handle it, but you see what this is—I just…I worry if we don’t do what they say…”

“If we don’t do what they say what?” Nick’s voice was harsh.  “Look, I know you’re worried about Phyllis and I’m not even gonna begin to try and understand what the hell went on between the two of you, but you can’t honestly think that trying to handle this without the police is a good idea.”

“I think if the note says not to involve the police, we should at least consider what pissing off the people that have the woman I….”  He took a deep breath… “If they have her and they don’t want the police involved, what do you think they’re gonna do if they realize we’ve gone against the very first direction they gave us.”

Nick grabbed his keys from the desk.  “Look if you want to sit here and devise a plan to deal with these people on your own, you go ahead.  I’m going to go talk to people who actually do this as a profession.”

“And if you get her killed?” Billy yelled as he watched him walk towards the door.

Nick turned around, his eyes full of anger as they stared back at him.

“What if something happens to Phyllis, Nick?  How are you gonna explain that to Summer?  How are you gonna tell her that it was your idea to involve the police?  How are you gonna explain that your decision could have cost her mother her life?”

~

“Can you please sit down?” Phyllis brought her hand to her head.  “Your pacing is making me dizzy.”

Curtis stopped, turning to look at her.  “Sorry,” he mumbled before taking a seat in the chair near the sofa.  “I just..I thought someone would have called by now.”

“Mornings are always crazy at the office.  The fax machine may not even be cleared off yet,” she said quietly.  She didn’t bother to tell him that her husband might not be overly anxious to pony up money to save her.

“That doesn’t explain Newman.  What’s his excuse?  The two of you have a kid, right?  You’d think he’d want to make sure the mother of his daughter got home safe.”

“Someone will call,” she snapped. “You just have to give them some time.”

He was quiet for a moment, his eyes watching her face. “I know,” he said softly.  He’d never thought of this from her perspective—how strange it must feel to sit and wait for a phone to ring, to hope someone would care enough to pay any price for your safe return, to secretly fear no one would.

“Are you hungry?” Curtis stood, walking towards the kitchen.  “I know you said no earlier, but you haven’t eaten anything and I think you might feel better if you’d just…”

“I don’t want anything.” She couldn’t eat.  The sick feeling in the pit of her stomach simply seemed to curb any appetite she ever thought of having.

A sigh escaped his lips as he walked back to the sofa, this time choosing to sit down beside her. “Look, I really am sorry,” he said quietly.  “If I felt like there was another way—that I had another option.”

“You should have picked a better option.  There may not be a single person willing to come through for me.” Phyllis felt her eyes burning and silently willed herself to pull it together.  She could not let him see her break down.

“Don’t say that,” he whispered.  God—He wasn’t built for this.  She was supposed to be his hostage.  He should look at her and see dollar signs and instead he had to fight the urge to pull her close to him and comfort her.  It was something about her eyes, a deep sadness that resided in them, a sadness he understood, one he identified with.  And then there was her voice—the tremor when she spoke, the anxiety and fear it conveyed—the one he himself felt in his quietest, darkest moments.

“Why not?” she asked, finally having the courage to look into his eyes.  They were a grayish blue but softer and much kinder than the icy blue one that Jack used to stare at her with in recent weeks.  “You were thinking the same thing.  That’s why you’re worried no one has called.”

“That’s not true.  I’m just anxious..that’s all.”

“You should be.  My husband, Jack– He hates me.  The entire town hates me.  No one wants to help me.  In fact, everyone would be very happy if I disappeared.  So, congratulations Curtis, you’ve picked yourself a damn good hostage this time.”

 

Say Goodbye

Lyrics are from All I Ask

By Adele:

I will leave my heart at the door
I won’t say a word
They’ve all been said before, you know
So why don’t we just play pretend
Like we’re not scared of what is coming next
Or scared of having nothing left

“Billy?”

It had been nearly two weeks since she’d seen him.  She’d hoped the distance and the time would make the pain go away, but it hadn’t.  It was one thing to know it couldn’t work, to acknowledge the pain and destruction their relationship would cause, it was another to get the message to her heart.  To say she never loved him would be a lie—a lie that neither of them believed—a lie that even Jack had seen through.  She wanted to save her marriage—that hadn’t been a lie, but she was beginning to realize her affair with Billy didn’t have anything to do with that goal.  Leaving Billy had done nothing to repair the relationship she had with Jack, just as being with Billy hadn’t really been about Jack at all.  Being with Billy had been about Billy.  It had been about their connection, their relationship, the way he made her feel.

“I can go,” Billy said quietly after a few moments of uncomfortable silence.  He wasn’t sure what he was expecting when he came here, but it wasn’t this.  In his mind, he’d been afraid she would be angry, but the silence had never even been a thought.  When had he stopped mattering enough to her to even warrant a reaction?

“No, Billy wait..”  She reached out, touching him for the first time in weeks.  The moment seemed to spin in slow motion as he turned around to face her.  Her eyes were shiny, a clear indication of tears and she said nothing, choosing instead to simply step aside and let him walk through the door.

“I wasn’t sure if I should come here,” he said quietly as he heard her shut the door and watched her take a seat on the sofa next to him.

“Why did you?”

The breath seeped through his lips as he stared at her.  No matter what she said, no matter how many time she told him she felt nothing, he couldn’t believe it.  He didn’t see that when he looked in her eyes.  She couldn’t be that good of a liar..no one could.  “I guess I just needed to see you,” he whispered.

She nodded.  “I’m glad you came.”

“You are? I didn’t expect that.  The last time we talked you told me to leave you alone and you were pretty damn clear about it.”

Phyllis sighed.  “I know.  I’m sorry about that.  I think I was trying so hard to get you to believe that I didn’t want to see you because I was afraid to see you.  I was afraid if I saw that I wouldn’t be able to keep telling myself the lies.”

“What lies?”

“That I never loved you.  I did love you.  I still do.” She saw the look in his eyes, the flash of hope and her heart broke again.  “But Billy, we can’t do this.  It’s too hard.  There’s just too much that…”  Her voice broke.  It had almost been easier to let him believe it had been a lie than to admit it had been so real while simultaneously admitting it could never work.

Look, don’t get me wrong
I know there is no tomorrow
All I ask is
If this is my last night with you
Hold me like I’m more than just a friend
Give me a memory I can use
Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do
It matters how this ends
‘Cause what if I never love again?

He stared at her for a long moment, not knowing what to say.  She’d just said the words he’d prayed for, followed by the words he’d never imagined to hear.  “I don’t understand,” he breathed.  “If you love me…if you admit you want to be with me, then why can’t we be together?  Everyone knows now. The fallout has been as bad as it will be.  There’s nothing else that can possible happen.”

“Yes, there is,” she said sadly.  “As long as we’re together, we’ll be a constant reminder for everyone.  You’ll never have a chance to rebuild your relationship with your family and I know how important that is to you.”

“You’re what’s important to me…just you.”  He reached out, grabbing her hands, holding them tight in his as he stared into her eyes.  “My family will understand eventually and if they don’t, well then it’s their loss.”

“You don’t mean that.  You need your family, your mother, your brother, your sisters….If we end this now, there’s a chance you can get that back.  You can explain that we both agreed that the relationship wasn’t good for the family and we ended it.”  Her own voice shook as she said the words.  They were much easier to think than they actually were to vocalize…especially while staring into the eyes of the man she loved.

“So what is this exactly?” Billy stood, running his hands over his face in frustration.  “You said you were glad I came….why?  So you could tell me in person that we can never be together?”

She stood up, taking a few steps til she stood in front of him.  His eyes were wet with tears as they flashed at her in anger.

“This isn’t easy for me, Billy.  I want you to know that.  Believe me, in a perfect world, you and I would be together and I would never..ever look back.”

“But this isn’t a perfect world.”  His voice was low, resigned.

“No,” she whispered.  “It’s not.”  She drew in a deep breath as his hand touched the bare skin of her neck.  “But I’m glad you came here because I didn’t want us to end the way we did. That wasn’t fair to us.  What we had was real to me and to act like it meant nothing was wrong.  It meant something.  It meant a lot and it deserves to end better than that.”

“How do we do that?” he asked quietly.  “I don’t know how to say goodbye to you.”  He wiped the tear from her cheek as he saw it fall from her eye.


I don’t need your honesty
It’s already in your eyes
And I’m sure my eyes, they speak for me
No one knows me like you do
And since you’re the only one that matters
Tell me who do I run to?

She could feel them inching closer together, the warmth of his body now nearly touching her.  “This is probably not a good idea,” she whispered, closing her eyes as she felt his fingertips begin to run through her hair. Before she could protest further, his lips captured hers.  They both stood, captured in the moment, neither wanting to break the kiss, but both very aware of where it was leading.

Billy leaned back after a moment, dropping his head to lightly kiss her cheek.  “Probably not.”  His fingertips moved down to the tie on her robe.  His hands stopped, his eyes looking up to meet hers.  “If you want me to stop, just say so.”

Tears still streamed down her face and leaned back, his hands now cupping her face, swiftly brushing away the tears.  “Hey,” he whispered.

“No,” she shook her head.  “Don’t stop…”  She took a breath, trying to reign in the tears.

Billy hesitated.  “I just…I can’t…”  He pulled her closer to him, sitting back on the couch and pulling her down into his lap.  “What’s the matter?”

“It’s hard to say goodbye to you,” she whispered.  “No one knows me like you do.  You’re the one person that I could always be honest with—no matter what.  I always knew I could count on you.”

“And you always can,” he whispered.  “Just because we aren’t together, doesn’t mean I’m going anywhere.  You’ll always have a place here.”  He pulled her hand to his chest, softly leading her hand to his heart.

“Thank you for saying that.”  She let her head fall to his chest, the sound of his heart beating comforting her, just as it always had.

“I’m not just saying it, Phyllis.”  He turned his head, staring in to her eyes again.  “I mean it.  Just like I’ve meant every word I’ve ever said to you.  I will never stop caring about you.”

“Same, Billy Abbott.”  She leaned up, her lips lightly brushing his.  “So I guess in a way this isn’t really goodbye, huh?”

“It’s never goodbye…not for us.”

The End

Private Paradise pt 8

“Morning gorgeous,” He’d been awake for nearly an hour, but it had been easy to stay still and quiet. The restless, anxious energy was gone and in its place was a comfortable peace. He never felt more at home than he did in her arms and having her here, wrapped up in his made him complete in a way he couldn’t quite explain.

“Morning,” she whispered, her eyes barely opened, a sleepy smile playing across her face. “What time is it?”

“A little after 7,” he smiled, basking in the warmth of her skin on his.

“Uhhh..it’s early,” she curled up closer to him, pressing herself tighter against him. “You have some big plans this morning or something? Because I don’t know about you, but I’m good stay right here with you all day.”

Billy sighed as he felt her lips brush against his bare chest. “You know…”. Her fingertips danced up and down his arms, the look in her eyes almost impossible to ignore. “We can do other things together,” he whispered.

She smiled, rolling into his arms, “You’re absolutely right…we can, but why would you want to?”

He wrapped his arms around her as he gently moved to loom over her. HIs lips softly brushed hers once more. “How the hell am I supposed to argue that?”

“You’re not,” she smiled, “You’re supposed to shut up and kiss me.”

~

“I’m pretty sure we can’t even call this brunch anymore,” she grinned as she took backwards steps towards him. She grabbed her hair, holding it up for him to tie her bathing suit top.

She sighed as she felt his warm breath on her neck. “Billy,” she scolded, her tone, good-natured. “We are going to the island. We are. We are on a private island. We’d be crazy to stay holed up in this room all day.”

Billy gently turned her around, his arms wrapped low around her waist. “I’ll take crazy with you in this room over normal and sharing you with the world any day,” he grinned.

“There are white sand beaches, private cabanas, a rum bar…”.

“Private cabanas, huh?” Billy’s eyes lit up.

“Uh huh…with hammocks and beach massages.” She smiled as he grabbed her hand. “Wait a minute,” she giggled as he gently pulled her towards the door. “I’ve got to get my shoes and my bag.”

Phyllis slipped into her shoes, flashing a flirtatious smile at Billy as she completed her look with her sun hat and glasses. “How do I look?” She grinned.

“Like I should watch my back,” he sighed.

She stepped into his arms, and leaned in close. “No one else even comes close,” she whispered.

~

“Come on, you love to take risks…you love to get your blood pumping…what better way?”

“It’s not gonna happen, Billy. I’m not even almost drunk enough. In fact, I don’t know that I could get drunk enough.” She took another sip from her daiquiri. “Though I swear you must have told them to make this triple strength.” She blinked at him with a smile, “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to take advantage of me, Billy Abbott.”

Billy laughed, “I think you need to loosen up. Look at that couple over there. Don’t they look like they’re having fun?”

Phyllis stared. “Actually, I’m almost certain she’s holding his stuff for him while he goes.”

Billy glanced back again. She was right. “Oh well, see…she’s missing out. YOu don’t want to miss out do you? I mean you really want to have to sit and listen to me go on and on about how much fun this was while you sit back and think about holding my phone and sunglasses?”

Her eyes widened. “You’re not seriously going to do this?”

“Why not? I think it’ll be fun. It’s an adventure and life is short. I just wish you’d do it with me. They send two up at a time. I’d be right there with you.”

“Somehow dying together doesn’t sound as romantic framed around plummeted to your death in a parasailing accident. You really need the Shakespeare thing to pull it off.”

Billy laughed. “That’s a little dramatic, don’t you think?”

“Billy,” she whined, “Just don’t, please. Do we really have to take risks right now? Can’t we just enjoy this?”

He sighed. “Of course we can and if you really don’t want me to go parasailing, I won’t. If you want me to stay right here with you all day long, that’s exactly what I’ll do.”

“Now I never said anything about staying here all day…I just thought we might try to find our adventure a little closer to the ground.”

“Really?” He raised his eyebrows. “As fun as that sounds…I’m not sure it’s that kind of beach.”

“You,” she scoffed, jabbing him lightly in the ribs, “Actually,” she reached into her bag, pulling out the brochure, “I was actually thinking about this…”

~

“I have to admit I”m a little surprised you want to go snorkeling.”

“Why? The outfit’s totally hot,” she giggled as she struck a pose in the mask and flippers.

“You’d make anything hot,” he whispered. “No, I just…I didn’t picture you as the type that wanted to spend as much time in the water as you did on the beach.”

“The beaches back home maybe, but have you seen this water?” She waded out a bit, his hand in hers, “look at this….it’s crystal clear. Look at those fish.”

She’s as right. After only wading out into the water a bit, the beautifully colored tropical fish could be clearly seen as they moved through the water. Somehow though, that wasn’t what captured his attention. It was the carefree tone in her voice, the happiness in her eyes, and the smile on her face that had his focus. “I can’t take my eyes off you,” he sighed, “the fish will have to wait.”

He leaned in close to her, pulling her towards him and nudging the mask away from her face. He felt her relax in his embrace before tensing suddenly.

“Ok,” he sighed, pulling away slowly, “I get it and you’re right…we have plenty of time for this later…Let’s..”. He stopped as he saw the look on her face.

“Hey,” he said quickly, “What’s wrong?”

She was still. “I don’t know..that was weird. It was.” Her breath caught and she gripped his arm, her face contorted in pain. “Owwww,” she yelped.

Billy grabbed her, immediately wrapping his arm tight around her and helping her out of the water. A quick glance down at her bare leg confirmed his suspicions. “Yeah, it got you pretty good,” he sighed.

Phyllis breathed heavily. “What got me? What in the hell is that thing?”

“A jellyfish,” Billy grimaced, still looking at her calf. “And judging by this…a pretty big one.” He lifted her up easily, carrying her back to their private cabana and placing her in the hammock. “You stay right here. I’m gonna go get something from the first aid shed.”

~

Phyllis lay back in the hammock, her head resting on Billy’s bare chest.

“Feeling better?” He asked his voice as soothing to her as any lullaby had ever been.

She nodded, turning her head to look into his eyes. “Thank you for always taking care of me. Sometimes I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Billy smiled at her, his lips gently brushing against her forehead. It amazed him sometimes–how she thought that she needed him, when in truth he needed her far more than she’d ever need him. “You’ll never ever have to find out. This is the way it should be…just us…just like this.”

Desperate Times pt 5

“You can’t be serious.” Billy stood, staring directly into the eyes of his brother, his own calm, almost icy demeanor in stark contrast to the panic that nearly consumed him. “I mean, Jack—I know you’re angry, but you can’t just do sit back and do nothing.”

“Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do,” Jack spat, his words dripping with anger, the words filled with purpose. “Phyllis will not manipulate me ever again.”

“Manipulate you?” Realization flooded his brain and he slammed his open hand down hard on the desk. “You think this is some kind of game she’s playing, Jack?”

“No. I think it’s some kind of game the two of you are playing, Billy. I think you’re in this with her up to your lying, adulterous neck.” He glared at him, disgust almost seeping from him. “And it’s not going to work. You’re wasting your time. Whatever she promised you in exchange for your part in this, you can go collect.”

“Damn it, Jack.” He snatched the paper from his hands looking back over his shoulder at his brother. “You better pray she’s okay because if she’s not…” He didn’t finish his sentence. He simply rushed out of the office.

Jack leaned back in the leather chair, his brother’s words still in his mind. This was exactly like something Phyllis would do. This was her game, her manipulation, emotional tug of war. She couldn’t really be in trouble. Could she?

~

“It’s done.”

She didn’t speak. She simply shook her head at him in silent condemnation.

“What?” he said quietly, taking a seat in the chair across from her. He didn’t dare approach. She was far too angry.

“I just can’t believe you did this. I can’t believe you’re willing to throw away everything for money you’re never going to see.” Phyllis looked up at him. “You know that, right? Even if my family pays you every dime you ask for, you’ll never see that money. You’re going to rot in a jail cell.”

“Doesn’t matter.” Curtis stood up, pacing slowly up and down the length of the coffee table.

“Oh,” she huffed. “It doesn’t matter? Is that what your son will think when you just don’t come home and what about your wife? Do you have a wife? Your son’s mother? Does she matter? You want to tell me what the hell does matter in all this, Curtis?” Her voice was louder now, the anger becoming harder to keep inside. She’d always hated being controlled. This was her nightmare, being held, being trapped, having someone that had the upper hand in every way. It made her crazy.

“You wouldn’t understand.” He could see the anger in her eyes and he couldn’t fault her for it. With all his heart he wanted to explain things. If he told her, if he explained things to her, at least she would know why things had to happen this way, why he did what he did, but in reality he knew it wouldn’t change a thing. There was no way she would understand—no one could. Not unless you’d been there, not unless you’d experienced the overwhelming fear of knowing you might outlive your child.

So many times over the last hours she’d watched him like this. It was as if he was fighting a battle, a battle inside his own mind. There were two sides to him, a side that needed to be cold and vengeful, the part of him that needed to treat her as an object, as a means to an end. Then there was the other side, the side that had compassion, that had guilt, that wanted to answer her questions, that apologized without thinking, that touched her with an almost innate gentleness.

“How do you know I wouldn’t understand?” she asked, her head tilting a little. “What’s the harm in trying? You’re not going to let me out of here anytime soon? Why not tell me?”
Silence settled in the room for a while. Neither of them spoke. She curled up on the couch, pulling her knees in tighter against her body as she pulled up the throw to cover her.

Still silent, he stood, walking over to the thermostat and adjusting the setting. His back was still turned to her as she heard him begin to speak. “I said it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t.”

His eyes looked into hers as he slowly walked back across the room. This time he took a seat on the far end of the sofa. “The money isn’t for me. It’s for my son.”

“Oh,” Phyllis said quietly. “Is he in trouble?”

Curtis looked at her. “He’s sick.” He didn’t like saying the word. In the past year he could count on one hand the number of times he’d said it. It made him sick inside. Something about actually uttering the word made it more real. This was his son, his little boy. It was never supposed to happen to your family—never to your kid. And then it does.

He looked over at her, her eyes reflecting a level of compassion he hadn’t expected to see. “He needs some treatments that our insurance…” He stopped, “When I still had my job at Newman…my insurance wouldn’t cover the treatments, so I had to figure out a way to pay for them.”

Phyllis nodded. “That’s why you agreed to get the information for Jack….to get some fast money?”

“Right..and then when I was able to pay for the first treatment and the results were good, they told us he needed more…several more and the costs are…” He stopped to look at her. “When I lost my job at Newman…when Victor found out….not only did I lose the income, but I lost the insurance. I don’t have any way to get any of his medicine, any of his treatments. Nothing.”

“I understand,” she said quietly. Even as she said the words she was stunned to realize how true they were. Logically, she knew this was a man that sat with a gun in his hand, but she also knew he was a father doing everything in his power to save his son. She’d feared for her own daughter’s life before and, if put in the same position, she wasn’t sure she wouldn’t have made the same choice if pressured.

“I never wanted to do this,” he continued. “This isn’t who I am.” He lifted the gun. “This isn’t what I do. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to scare you. I just…I don’t know what else to do. I can’t lose my son and I’m out of options.” He shook his head and shut his eyes tight, as his brain tried to process the ramifications of everything he’d said, of everything he’d done. This had seemed like the only way, but was it. Had he truly solved a problem or had he created one he’d never recover from. The feel of a warm hand on his startled him and he opened his eyes to see her sitting closer to him, her hand on his.

“I’m so sorry about your son,” Phyllis said quietly. “When my daughter was younger, she was very sick and we weren’t sure if she was going to pull through. I know how terrifying it is to watch your child fighting. It can drive you to any extreme. I understand…I really do.” She took a breath. “I promise you that I’ll do everything I can to help you, ok?”

He nodded.

“There’s one thing I need you to do.”

“Since I understand now, I’m on your side. I’m gonna stay here and I’m gonna help you through this. You don’t have to keep me here. Can you give me the gun, Curtis?”

Curtis blinked, his head clearing. This was just nice talk…just like the doctors at the clinics…the ones that made all the promises about making things work, about putting patients first, about it not being about money. It was always about money. It was never about the patients. He stood quickly, jerking his hand away from her. “I can’t do that,” he said quickly. “I’m sorry. I can’t.”

“Curtis,” Phyllis protested, standing as well. “Please.”

“No,” his eyes screamed his apology, but his heart couldn’t overrule his head this time. “This is too important. My son is too important. I don’t want to hurt you, ok? If you just do what I ask and cooperate, I won’t have to. I promise, ok?”

She was so close. She could see it in his eyes. He wanted to trust her, but he couldn’t. His eyes pleaded with her to believe him, to trust that he wasn’t going to hurt her.

“I know, Curtis,” she sighed, sitting back down on the sofa. “I know.”

~

Billy walked into the Underground, instantly scanning the room and exhaling in relief when he spotted Nick.

“Nick.” His voice carried over the bar to the spot where Nick stood talking to a couple at a table. Nick politely excused himself and walked across the room.

“Billy? What are you doing here?”

“Yeah, look, I know you’re busy and all, but I really need to talk to you about something and it’s not something I really want to discuss out here. Is there somewhere a little more private we can talk?”

“Uh,” Nick eyed him skeptically. “Billy, I..Uh..If this is about my sister, I really don’t think I should get”

“Nick, this doesn’t have anything to do with Victoria, but it’s important. Please.”

It was something in his tone that made him realize how truly serious it was.

“Ok,” Nick said, pointing down the hall. “We can go back to my office.”

“Thanks,” Billy sighed, following him down the hallway.

They walked into the room. Nick stepped behind the desk, as Billy stepped in and pulled the door. He watched as Nick grabbed some documents off the fax machine and started scanning through them. “So, Billy,” he said, looking up at him. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

“It’s actually about Phyllis,” Billy said quietly.

Nick’s eyes darted up. “Billy…I..”

“No, it’s not like that…I think she’s in trouble. Jack got this weird fax today and he thinks she’s pulling some kind of trick to get him to worry about her, but I think….” Billy stopped, realizing Nick was staring at the papers in his hands instead of paying attention to him. “Nick,” he said, his tone curt, “This is important.”

Nick stopped, holding out a sheet of paper towards Billy. “That weird fax Jack got…Did it look anything like this?”

Billy took the paper, his heart immediately sinking. “Yeah,” he said quietly. “It’s exactly like this.” He looked back up at Nick. “Why would someone send it to you too?”

“Because of Summer I guess,” Nick replied, his words rushed, his hand already on his cell phone busily dialing Summer’s number. “I need to call her…make sure she’s ok.”

“So you agree with me? You think Phyllis is in real trouble?” Billy asked, suddenly realizing he’d been wishing someone would prove him wrong.

“Yeah,” Nick said solemnly. “I think Phyllis could be is some very real trouble. As soon as I find Summer, you and I are going to the police.”

Fire Keeps You Warm

“This wine is delicious, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, yes…it’s…delicious.” He forced a smile as he took another sip from the glass. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with her exactly. He’d only agreed to do this to get his sister off his back and now he was sitting across the table from a perfectly lovely lawyer with dark brown eyes and hair to match…..and he couldn’t remember her name. Damn it.

“So Billy, Ashley tells me you’re involved in running a cosmetics company. That must be exciting.” Her eyes were bright and eager as she looked at him. The hope and life that spilled from her almost mocking his own morose mood.

“Not as exciting as you might think,” he muttered, taking another, much larger drink from the wine glass. “I don’t run the company alone. There are three of us–four if you count my mother.”

“Your mother? I’m sure that’s interesting…”

“That’s one way of putting it.” He raised his hand, motioning the waiter over to the table. “Can I get a scotch, please?” He shifted his eyes to her. “You want anything?”

“No,” she said softly, “I’m good with the wine.”

The expression on her face dimmed for only a moment before she recovered, the chipper smile and bright eyes returning in force. “So what about outside the office? What do you like to do there?”

He smiled, allowing a puff of air to escape. The scotch arrived at the perfect time and he paused to take a sip before responding. “Well, I love to gamble, but then I got addicted, so I had to quit that.”

There it was again–a momentary blip, but an amazing recovery.

“I see,” Her voice was hesitant and accompanied by slightly nervous laughter, but she continued. She was persistent. He had to give her that. “Well, since you don’t gamble anymore, what do you do?”

“I have a bike–that I’ve wrecked…could’ve killed myself…and my brother’s wife.”

She stopped, the wine glass in mid air. “Wait a minute…you mean that’s true? I thought that was just tabloid trash? You really slept with your brother’s wife?”

Billy smiled, “Guilty as charged.” He watched as the look of hope and excitement changed to condemnation and judgment. “And you know what the best part is? I’m not sorry…not even a little bit.”

“I…I don’t even know what to say to that. I really hoped this could be something good for us. I’m a lawyer for God’s sakes. I have a lot to offer.”

“Go offer it to somebody else,” Billy mumbled, staring down into the scotch glass.

She huffed, offended and stood, whirling around to take one last jab at him before making her grand exit. “You know–you have no idea what you’re missing.”

He sat there, letting her leave without a response from him. She could have the last word if it helped her. Maybe it gave her some dignity, but it didn’t make her words right. He knew exactly what he was missing.

He missed her.

~

Phyllis tied the tie tight around her waist, her eyes still struggling to adjust to the light. She squinted at the digits that reflected from the oven. It was nearly 3 am. Who on earth would be at her apartment at this hour? The pounding on the door only got more insistent as she descended the stairs.

“Hold on,” she hissed, tiptoeing to see through the peephole. She slid down the door, her hand resting on the handle for a moment. A wave of conflicting emotions washed over her as she realized he was here.

Phyllis slowly opened the door, “Billy?”

“I know it’s late…I know…and I know…I know I’m not in a good…I know Ive had too much to drink.”

Phyllis stepped outside the door, glancing down the hallway. “How did you get here?” she asked, the idea of him operating any type of vehicle in this condition was disturbing.

“The bartender called me a car…well a cab…you know they really will tell you you have to go just like in the song. That’s what he said…I didn’t have to go home but I couldn’t stay there.” He pitched forward slightly, feeling her arms on her, her slight frame supporting his almost dead weight.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I think I might have had too much to drink.” He leaned in closer to her as he said this, as if he didn’t want to chance others learning this embarrassing fact.

“You think?” She smiled. “Let’s get you inside.”

Billy didn’t argue, walking along side her into the apartment and easing onto the couch while she closed the door behind him. He turned his head to look at her, smiling as she sat next to him.

“You want to tell me what happened to make you try to outdrunk the greater GC area tonight?”

“Ashley,” he muttered, shaking his head at the thought of her, “and her ideas.”

Phyllis nodded. “Ah, and what did Ashley suggest this time?”

“Who..”

“What?”

“It was a who…she set me up with this woman.” Billy rubbed his face furiously, still frustrated that he was unable to recall her name.

“A date?” It was as if someone had reached in with a vice grip on her heart. She didn’t have the right to feel this way, to be jealous, and yet the mere idea of him with someone else made her want to scream. She fought for composure, valuing her dignity above all, “Did you like her?”

“What do you think?” He’d lost count of the number of drinks he’d had, so he had an excuse for his dulled mental acuity, but her….she should be on point.

“I don’t know,” she said quietly, “that’s why I asked.”

“I’m here aren’t I? I’m not with her.” He looked at her, still remembering Deana, Donna, Dana…Damn it… her word’s as she’d walked out. He missed everything about her. It was the way her hair fell into her face, the way her eyelids hovered at half mast when she was tired, the way she said his name, the way she tilted her head ever so slightly when she was trying to understand, the scent of her, the way she moved, the way she could seem completely in charge one second and completely vulnerable in the next. It was everything and more.

“What was wrong with her? I mean your sister wouldn’t have set you up with someone she didn’t think you’d like.”

“I’m not sure that my sister knows what I like,” he said quietly, reaching out and gently brushing a rebellious lock of hair off her forehead. “She was nice…very poised, very classic, well-bred, you know the type.”

Phyllis nodded.

“Pretty, successful, good sense of humor, assertive, has her own law practice…” Billy continued.

Phyllis could feel her muscles beginning to tense. She knew she had no right to feel this way. She had no claim on him. She walked away… “It sounds like the two of you learned a lot about each other.” She moved to stand, feeling her eyes begin to burn, determined he would not see her cry.

His hand reached for her. “I learned all I needed to know,” he said quietly, his mind suddenly more clear.

She turned, looking at him intently, her mouth saying nothing. Her eyes begging, pleading with him….

“She isn’t you.”

Phyllis felt her legs weaken beneath her and she sat back down beside him, turning her body towards him. She still remained silent, not yet trusting her voice to speak.

“You,” he stopped, smiling at her, the thought of her–the mere mention of her name, made him almost giddy. “You make me feel alive. When I’m with you I’m excited, I’m happy, I’m inspired.”

Phyllis shook her head, no longer able to control the tears that streamed down her face. “But I hurt you..,that’s what I do. I hurt people.”

“You’re complicated, you’re passion,”he whispered, gently wiping away the tears, “and you’re challenging and you’re stubborn, but there’s nobody…”

She looked down, shaking her head again.

He touched her face, pulling it back up. “Look at me,” he whispered, his lips brushing against hers. “There’s nobody that makes me feel the things that you do. There’s nobody that makes me want to wake up every day as much as you do. There’s nobody that I’m more excited by…”

“How can you say that?” Her voice shook as she stared at him. His eyes were so full of sincerity and love and while she wanted to fall in with him, she couldn’t help but feel horrible for what she’d put him through. “I said such horrible things to you. I said that I didn’t…That it wasn’t about you.” She stopped, the thoughts of her own words too painful to even recall. She couldn’t imagine how it must have felt to have been on the receiving end. “Billy, the things I said…”

“Did you mean them?”

“No,” she breathed, her heart in her throat, the sorrow in her voice now reflected in her eyes and emanating from her whole body. “No, I didn’t mean them. I don’t mean them. I love you.”

He smiled, taking her hands and locking eyes with her. “Then forget them.”

“But..”

“No buts…”

She let him wrap his arms around her, closing her eyes as he whispered how much he loved her. As he broke the embrace and stared into her eyes, she spoke again.

“I am sorry, Billy…not only for the things I said..”

“That we’re forgetting,” he smiled.

“Right,” she agreed, “but for the lost time, for the days and weeks and months we missed..the times we could have spent together.”

Billy sighed, bringing her hand to his lips, and pulling her up to stand beside him. “You know what’s most important? That we not miss any more time.”

She smiled as he softly kissed her lips and led her up the stairs.

Private Paradise pt 7

The credits rolled across the screen. Billy turned to look at her, surprised to see her staring up at him.

 
“I can see what you mean about that ending. It definitely needs a rewrite.” She smiled at him, one of her smiles she reserved for the very special occasions, the ones that could light up a room.

 
“Well,” he whispered, kissing her lightly, “We’ll have to see what we can do about that.”

He watched entranced as her eyes sparkled and she leaned in closer to him, her lips brushing his ear as she whispered, “I have some ideas.”

She reached down, finding the blanket that lay across their legs. Pulling it up overtop of them, she reached behind her neck, the halter tie of the dress resting between her fingers.

Her smile grew as she felt his hand on top of hers. “I think you’ve had too much champagne,” he whispered. “And as much as I’m gonna kick myself for this later, there are people right over there.” He pointed to a small group of people just outside of the sectioned off area. “Trust me, I want you, but I don’t particularly want to share you.”

Phyllis grinned, “I’d be offended if you weren’t so damn honorable.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been called that before.”

Just when he thought he loved her as much as he possibly could, he’d see another side of her, another aspect of her personality that was so irresistible to him that he could barely comprehend the reality that she existed. Sitting here with here in public, joking, teasing, flirting—it was something they’d never been able to do. It was fun and simple and easy. It was what they needed, what they craved. Seeing her like this, so free, so open. This was Phyllis, the real Phyllis. This was the Phyllis he’d told his brother about all those months ago. The one that needed to be able to fly.

He couldn’t help but smile at her.

“What’s that smile for?” she asked him, her fingertips still trailing up and down his chest.

“It’s always about you.” The smile he got in return would have brought him to his knees if he’d been standing. “Why don’t we take this somewhere more private,” he managed, afraid if they didn’t relocate he might soon give in to her advances regardless of what kind of audience they might have.

“You room or mine?” she teased.

“Young Phyllis,” he smiled, “Your mind is still deep in the gutter.”

“As if yours isn’t? But I mean we could go bowling or something. I heard the bowling alley is open all night.”

“My room,” Billy said quickly.

“Thought you might change your mind,” she whispered, standing up and blowing him a kiss over her shoulder before walking towards their hall.

Billy stood slack jawed for a moment as he watched her in total and complete awe. This was her. This was who she truly was. He’d seen glimpses of this woman in Genoa City, when she’d been on his motorcycle with him, when they’d spent hours together scheming, but this—to see her like this. It amazed him that his brother had been able to let anything stifle her. If he’d ever seen this in her, to lose it…it should have been unthinkable.

He shook his head as he finally jolted into movement, realizing he’d been standing still for far too long. Ever second he spent thinking was a minute left he had to spend with the woman he loved. There wasn’t a second to waste.

~

“I have to say, this is far more wholesome than I gave you credit for.” Phyllis smiled as Billy wheeled in the cart of fruit and cheese.

“You know, I’m beginning to take offense at this. You think I bring you back here to just have my way with you?”

She smiled, grabbing a few grapes and popping them into her mouth, pausing for a moment to chew. “Kind of.”

Billy huffed. “Actually, I thought we could have a little something to eat and maybe soak in the hot tub. Just relax for a bit.”

“Really? Just relax for a bit…in the hot tub?” She stared at him, her eyes narrowing. “If I were the suspicious type…”

“What?” His voice broke into laughter as he watched her.
“What exactly do you think I’m trying to do here? I planned a very nice evening. I’ve got some food and the room has a hot tub…”

“Okay…Okay…lead the way.”

Billy stepped towards the back, the steam from the hot tub already warming the small room. “See.” He looked back at her, with a satisfied grin, “Doesn’t this look nice and relaxing?”

“It does,” she admitted, stepping closer to the tub and bending down to dip her hand into the water.

Billy stepped up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her back towards him. He lightly kissed her neck. “And of course, we’ll be naked,” he whispered, grinning as he felt her body shake with a giggle.

“See now that makes more sense,” she smiled. “That’s the Billy Abbott I know and love.”

She said it before she thought about it and it was the natural ease of it that made it so strange and so completely perfect. For a moment she considered not acknowledging it, but the look in his eyes told her she couldn’t do that—not to him, not to them. This wasn’t some slip of the tongue and it wasn’t some turn of phrase. This was truth.

“What did you say?” he asked, almost stunned.

“I said…” she stepped back a moment, the heat of the room and the intensity of his eyes on her making her dizzy.

“I heard what you said.” He held out his arm, steadying her easily. She couldn’t walk away from him, not now, not when he was so close.

“Then why did you ask? Why did you ask me if you heard?”

“I need you to say it again. I need to know you mean it. I need to hear it..”

She could hear the break in his voice, the pure sincerity and knowing how real it was for him, knowing the emotion it brought for him made it all the more real for her. She reached up, placing her hand on his face, her eyes looking into his.

Her own heart beat wildly as she struggled to catch her breath. “I love you.”

Desperate Times pt 4

“Jack.” Billy hurried down the hall as he saw his brother headed to his office.

Jack stopped, turning around to face him. “I’m gonna fire that guard,” he said, his voice void of any pleasantry. “This isn’t your company. You have no business being here. Kindly leave before I have you thrown out.” He turned, resuming his walk towards his doorway.

“Jack, wait…please. It’s about Phyllis.”

He gripped the door handle hard, rage welling up inside him. The mere mention of her name coming from his lips–his mind went to the dark places. He thought of the many other times he’d whispered her names, in her arms, at the cabin. His stomach lurched, the thoughts making him physically ill.

Jack spun around, his crystal blue eyes now icy and harsh. “Don’t you dare come in here and say her name!” He took a breath, realizing his emotions betrayed his vulnerability. “Any issues you have with Phyllis you need to take up with Phyllis. She’s not my problem, not my concern…not anymore.”

“I would love to do that, Jack, but Phyllis isn’t here.”

The expression was only visible for a fraction of a second, but it was unmistakeable. The concern that flashed in Jack’s eyes mirrored his own.

“Maybe she’s taking a day off,” Jack mumbled, quickly looking away.

“You know that’s not it Jack…and you know she’s always the first one here. Making herself indispensable here is her MO. That’s what she does.”

“And I’ll tell you what I’ve told her. She’s wasting her time. Why don’t you find her a place at Brash and Sassy. That way you two can work and play together.”

“Damn it, Jack…I’m telling you..something is really wrong here. I know it.”

Jack stared at him, his eyes unfeeling. “Because you have that connection, right?” His voice dripped with disdain.

Billy sighed. He was wasting his breath and his time–time he could spend trying to find Phyllis. “Forget it.”

As he heard the door slam, he turned, walking over to the table, pouring water into a glass and taking a sip. Billy’s voice echoed in his head. Jack sighed. She was not his problem.

~

He sat quietly in the chair, watching her. She was on the couch, her legs curled up towards her chest, her arms pulled in tight against her. She’d tried to talk to him several more times before he’d screamed at her again, his harsh response finally driving her to walk away and sit down, turning away from him. He remembered how bad he’d felt when he realized she was crying, how he’d had to stop himself from walking over to her, from trying to comfort her.

She was his chance to save his son. That was it. That was all she was. That was all she could ever be.

He stood, walking over to the kitchen. The coffeemaker sat on the countertop and, as he reached up to the cabinet to look for the filters, the box fell from the shelf and hit the floor. Curtis bent down, grabbing them quickly as if speed could erase the sound. He stood straight, looking towards the couch where Phyllis began to stir.

She sat up, turning towards the kitchen, his eyes still red from the night before.

“Sorry,” he said quietly, “I didn’t mean to wake you. I was gonna make some coffee. Do you want some?”

“No,” Phyllis said quickly, turning back around. She’d resolved herself to stop this as she lay there last night–alone with her own thoughts. Who shows kindness to a man that holds them captive? To a man that points a gun at them?

“What about some breakfast?” He asked. He needed to do this, to make an effort, to try and remind her and himself that he wasn’t completely heartless. He walked across the room, holding the gun down by his side. He looked at her, “I’m no chef, but I could whip up some eggs…maybe some toast?”

“Stop it,” Phyllis snapped. “Stop pretending that this is some kind of damn joke. This isn’t funny. You’ve got a gun. You’re threatening me. This isn’t a movie. You aren’t going to win me over by showing me a glimpse into your tortured soul.”

Curtis sighed. “Look, I know you think I’m here for purely selfish reasons. I know you think this is about money, but it’s not. I swear it’s not.”

“I’d ask you what it was about, but you scream at me anytime I try to, so I’m done, Curtis–ok? I’m done. Call whoever you’re gonna call. Ask for whatever you’re gonna ask for. I just want this to be over.”

He nodded, turning back towards the kitchen. He couldn’t argue that. He needed it to be over too.

“There’s just one more thing you should know…” Phyllis stood, walking into the kitchen, banishing her fear and trepidation, forcing herself to stand eye to eye and look at him. “You can demand money from my family and they’ll pay you, but you’ll pay too. I promise you. I won’t rest until you pay for this.”

~

“Mr. Abbott?”

Jack looked up as his secretary stepped into his office, “Yes?”

“A fax just came in for you.”

He could tell by her expression that something was off.

She held the paper out to him and waited for his response.

Jack’s eyes widened as he read the message. He looked up, his expression not entirely concerned. “Call Billy Abbott. Get him up here now.”

~

Jack jumped at the sound of his office door being jerked open. Billy barreled in, his chest heaving.

“What is it? What’s wrong? Is it Phyllis?” His heart pounded, horrible scenarios playing out in his head.

Jack thrust the paper towards him. “This some kind of joke to you?”

Billy read the words, his heart sinking with every word. The moisture left his mouth, reality sinking in. “Where did you get this?”

Jack glared at him. “Like you don’t know.”

“What? You think I did this?Why would I do this?”

“To make a point? To show me I still care? To try and make me forgive her? I figure you’re so hopelessly in love with her, you’re willing to do whatever she asked.”

Billy took a deep breath, trying desperately to keep his composure. The thought of Phyllis being somewhere, of her being in danger while he stood there arguing with his brother. “Jack, I swear I had nothing to do with this, but now that I know, now that Im here…I can help you. Let me help you. We’ve got to call the number.”

Jack shook his head, his eyes cold and completely devoid of all compassion, “We’re not calling anyone.”

Philly Thanksgiving

“I’m not tall enough!” Phyllis screamed, attempting to make her voice heard over the shrill alarm.

“Hang on. Hang on.” Billy rushed into the kitchen, their little girl toddling behind him with her hands over her ears.

“It’s loud,” she whined, looking up at Phyllis with big brown eyes. “Make it quiet.”

Phyllis sighed, scooping her up and kissing her cheek. “I know baby, Mommy’s sorry. Daddy’s gonna fix it.”

He reached up, reaching the smoke alarm with ease and flipped the cover. With one quick motion, he popped out the battery and placed it on the counter. He smiled before turning to Alexandra. “You’re never ever supposed to take the batteries out of a smoke detector,” he said seriously, and then leaned in close to her, and whispered, “unless Mommy’s cooking.”

Alexandra giggled and nodded.

“You better go finish that hand turkey or we’re not gonna have any decorations for this yummy dinner,” he smiled.

The little girl looked at him, wide eyed and quickly went running back upstairs to finish her masterpiece.

Phyllis grinned at him as he pulled tucked his thumbs into her belt loops and pulled her closer to him. “You seem mighty confident for a man that just disconnected the smoke detector in preparation for my cooking.”

“I have total faith in your abilities,” Billy grinned, leaning down to kiss her neck. “Besides, you’ve got enough food here to feed a small army. There’s no way anyone could ruin all of it.”

~

“Thank you,” Billy said politely, taking the bag and bringing it back into the kitchen.

Phyllis stood by the table, surveying the dishes. She looked up as he entered, taking a stance of defiance.

“Dinner is served,” he announced triumphantly, a smile on his face as he held the bag in front of him.

She sighed, “You realize this may be the first Thanksgiving our daughter remembers and she’s gonna have sweet and sour chicken and fried rice.”

“And pot stickers…don’t forget those.” Billy laughed, walking over to her when she glared at him. “Hey, it’s fine…trust me. She’s not gonna care what we eat. She’s not gonna care what the table looks like or if the forks were on the right side. She’s gonna remember us being together and laughing and smiling and spending time together.”

“I hope so.” Phyllis kissed him, the feel of his arms around her instantly making her believe every word he said. “You know I do blame you for this, right?”

“Me?” Billy said, his hands outstretched in innocence, “What are you blaming me for?”

“As I recall, I had everything under control before you entered this kitchen,” she grinned.

“Oh, is that right? That’s why I had to come in here and disconnect the fire alarm,” he laughed.

“It’s very sensitive,” she teased. “One tiny little whiff of smoke and it just goes squawking about…we need to look into one that actually has to sense flames.”

“Yeah,” he laughed, “that sounds safe.”

“Anyway…As I was saying, I had everything under control and then someone came into the kitchen and distracted me.” She stepped closer to him, backing up closer to the counter and easily pushing herself up enough to sit on its edge. “Any idea who that might have been?”

“Not a clue,” he whispered, stepping in closer to her.

“As I recall, I had peeled the potatoes and diced them into identical sized pieces which, might I add, ensures consistency in the cook..”

“Very impressive.” Billy smiled, leaning in and kissing her quickly on the lips.

“I put them on to boil, checked on the turkey which was browning beautifully and took the pie out to cool.”

“It all sounds so perfect.” He loved watching her, the way she spoke, how her eyes would dance as she laughed. He’d swear he could spend the rest of his days doing absolutely nothing but watching her.

“And then…”

“Then what?” He leaned in close to her, the warmth of his body against hers was almost more than she could take and she wrapped her arms around him as she felt him life her slightly. She slowly slid down his body, her feet touching the floor.

“The next thing I knew I had a burnt black block of potatoes and a crispy turkey,” she smiled.

“This sounds like a real tragedy. If I were you, I might never forgive the man that caused such a horrific event.”

Phyllis felt his hands, now warm against the small of her back. “It’s hard to stay angry at him for long. He always pulls you back in. One minute you’re mad as hell and the next you’re all over him again.”

She giggled as she watched the smile grow on his face. “That’s very good to know.”

“And,” she added, still watching him, “He does always fix his mistakes. Even though he ruined the dinner, he got Chinese delivered…in record time.”

Billy nodded. “Smooth and efficient…gotta admire a guy like that.” He pulled her closer to him again, his hands running through her hair.

“Absolutely you do…and I might have forgot to mention, but he’s also really easy on the eyes.”

“You’re gonna make me blush.”

“I’d like to see that,” she whispered. His hands toyed at her shirt buttons again and she lifted her own to cover his. “Ummm, we have a dinner..and a daughter…”

His head dropped. “Alright,” he smiled, leaning in for a quick kiss. “Why don’t I go get our little Picasso while you make sure we’re all set with the food.”

“Sounds like a plan,” she whispered, grabbing another kiss before he walked away. She moved towards the counter, opening the door to get serving utensils when she heard his footsteps back in the room.

“Hey,” he said, looking back at her with a smile, “At least the pie survived.”

Phyllis glanced over at the pumpkin pie, a stunning achievement that sat miraculously unharmed on the counter. “Yeah,” she sighed, “If only we hadn’t used all the whipped cream.”