She leaned back against him, his arms wrapped tight around her waist, a warm breeze rustling through the trees in the distance. “Everything seems so simple here,” she whispered.
Billy turned his head a little, catching the relaxed look on her face. He smiled. “I know. It’s like time just moves slower.”
Phyllis nodded, smiling as she felt his lips brush her temple. “I wish we could stay like this forever, you know? I wish we could just forget everything and just be like this…”
Before he could answer he heard the bell sound. “That’s the boat,” he said quietly, taking her hand in his as they stepped back towards the landing.
The small boat pulled up towards the landing where about four other couples waited.
Phyllis stared at the boat suspiciously before looking up at Billy. “That’s a really small boat,” she whispered. “You sure this is a good idea?”
“You don’t want to go?” Billy tried to discern the expression—it wasn’t exactly fear—more like hesitation.
“No,” she said quickly, “I do want to go…I just…it’s a really small boat and…”
Billy pulled her closer to him. “Don’t you worry…if we capsize, you’ll be the first thing I grab.”
The clear bottom of the boat made it easy to see the fish that swam in the clear water beneath her, though she quickly determined that wasn’t the best way to spend her time. She tried to find a spot on the horizon on which to focus but the gentle rocking of the boat made it difficult to focus on anything.
Billy leaned in close to her. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?” he whispered, extending his arm out towards the sky? “Just look at the colors.”
She nodded, swallowing harder. Another deep breath would hold her for another few seconds before another wave of nausea would take over. She remembered the trip to Italy, specifically the look on the face of the poor gondolier, as he watched her heave over the side of the gondola into the Grand Canal.
Despite the looks, she’d have gladly leaned over the side of the boat now, but she wasn’t sitting beside the boat, she was on the inside row, seated beside a man who hadn’t so much as smiled since he boarded.
“Billy,” she whispered, grabbing his hand.
He turned to her, “yeah?”
“I don’t feel…I’m going to…”
“What the hell?!” The man jumped up, his hands flailing in the air. “What’s the matter with you?”
Her cheeks burned hot. “I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “I’m so sorry. I’ll pay for the damages.” Apologies weren’t her thing, especially public ones, but she didn’t exactly make a habit of vomiting on other individuals either.
She stood, reaching into her purse for tissues. “Here,” she said, reaching out her hand.
He slapped her hand away, pushing her back towards the seat, “Just sit back down would you? If you weren’t such a damn lush you wouldn’t be puking on everybody!”
“And what happened after that?”
Phyllis sighed, rubbing her temples before taking another slow slip of water. “I already told you. Everything happened so fast. All I know is they were fighting.”
The man eyed her suspiciously. “And you don’t know if Mr. Abbott struck first?”
“I know that asshole put his hands on me before Mr. Abbott so much as looked at him. I know that,” she snapped, pausing to breathe before continuing. “When can I talk to him?”
“He should be back shortly. They had to take him down to the offices for an official statement.”
“They aren’t going to arrest him, are they?”
The guard smiled. “I don’t anticipate any charges being filed.”
“I’ve seen this kind of thing on tv you know….people on vacation and they end up in these island prisons.”
“This isn’t Dateline, Mrs. Abbott.”
She shook her head, her eyes darting to the open window as she saw the ferry near the dock. “That’s them,” she said with relief. She ran to the doorway, throwing her arms around him when he walked inside. “Are you okay?” she asked, stepping back and looking at him.
“Yeah…I’m fine…the ferry’s waiting outside to take us back to the ship. You can get your things.” Billy waited as she gathered her purse and hurried out behind him. He paused for a moment to take one last look at the setting sun. Today could have been an absolute disaster, but he was about to make it one of the best days of their entire lives.
“I have to give you credit. This is the best way to end a day like today. I swear it’s like I don’t have any bones,” she whispered, giggling as he blew a clump of bubbles off her shoulders.
“That’s the point,” Billy smiled. “Total relaxation—that’s what you deserve. I don’t want you to worry about a thing, I don’t want you thinking about anything else except being right here, right now, with me.”
“Mission accomplished,” she smiled, taking a sip from the crystal champagne flute. “After a day like today…”
“Hey,” he scolded playfully, “What did I just say?”
“I don’t want to talk about today?”
“Oh come on…it’s kind of our thing isn’t it? Every fairy tale needs a white knight and you certainly were one for me today.” She grinned as she nuzzled closer to him.
“I think most white knights ride off into the sunset—not to the island police station on an police escorted ferry,” he grinned.
“Details, Details,” she whispered. “The point is you stuck up for me and that means something to me…it means a lot.”
He could hear it in her voice now…she was serious and he knew what she meant even without her saying it. He was here for her in a way his brother hadn’t been.
“You were here for me today..just like you always have been and I don’t think I’ve thanked you enough for that. I don’t think I’ve told you enough how much I’ve come to count on you for that….how much I need that.”
“You don’t have to thank me for that,” he whispered. There were a million ways to do this and he’d thought through all of them. There were the grand gestures, the romantic set ups, the elaborate hunts, but none of them seemed right. He wanted it to be real, authentic, honest—everything they were to each other. No bullshit, no facades. “Stay here.”
“oooohhh-kay,” Phyllis said with a slight laugh. She watched as he climbed from the hot tub and grabbed a robe. She could hear him rustling around in the other room. “What are you doing in there?”
“Just stay in the tub,” he called back.
He clenched the box tight in his hand. The guard had been hesitant when he’d asked him to stop but, once he’d told him why, he’d relented and let him off the ferry for exactly half an hour. Afterwards he’d told him he’d been married for only six years before his wife died in a car accident. Billy’s eyes had filled with tears when he said “Cherish it…every second…time is the most precious gift you have.” And that’s when he knew for sure—he wasn’t buying the ring to go back to Genoa City and wait for the right time. He wasn’t waiting any longer. Time was precious and he’d wasted enough.