“Here,” Curtis held out the cup of tea to her. “Phyllis, please..take it.”
“Thanks,” she said softly.
“You know it’s funny,” he said quietly.
She looked up. “Funny? Yes, please tell me what you find remotely humorous about all this.”
“I don’t mean ha ha funny, I just mean it’s strange…it’s odd how you never really know what’s going on in other people’s lives. We walk around and we watch other people and we think about how lucky they are to have that job, or to the married to that man or that woman, or to live in that house, or to be a member of that family, but we really have no idea of what’s really going on. You never know until you’re in it…until you’re behind the doors.”
Phyllis sat silent for a moment, considering his words. “I guess you’re right. I would have never thought you were going to hold me at gunpoint for ransom. Guess you never really know someone.”
She stood, walking across the room quickly. She couldn’t sit still for long. That gave her the chance to think and thinking gave her the opportunity to reflect on the sheer insanity of this situation. The craziest part of all of it was that she almost understood why it was happening. When she looked at Curtis, she didn’t see someone who was vengeful or trying to hurt someone, she saw a man who felt as if he had run out of options. She saw a man who was doing everything he could to save the life of his son. She saw someone that, in another time, in another circumstance, she would have defended, a man she might have even liked.
Even as she thought through it all in her head, she realized how crazy it sounded. This was a man that was threatening her with a loaded gun and yet she was justifying his actions. She’d heard about this…some kind of weird kind of Stockholm Syndrome. Jesus—maybe she really was going crazy.
Of course thinking about her own potential insanity was still far better and easier than thinking about how no one had called the number—how her entire family had decided she was unworthy of their time and money.
She jumped, surprised by the contact.
Curtis quickly withdrew his hand. “Sorry,” he muttered, stepping back a bit. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I just…I know you’re upset and I was thinking maybe it was about what you said earlier.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Phyllis turned away from him, pacing across the room again.
“You sure?” he said hesitantly. “You got me to tell you my sob story and it looks like we might be here a while—it could at least pass the time?”
She whirled around, her hair whipping across her face. “Is this some kind of game to you?” she snipped. “Because it kind of seems like you think I should be looking at this like some kind of crazy ass retreat…like we should be playing truth or dare and card games. This isn’t some slumber party, Curtis. You’re keeping me here. What you’re doing is a crime. I don’t want to be here.”
Curtis closed his eyes. Her words were harsh but true. The choices he’d made had been serious. This wasn’t something he was going to walk away from unscathed. He’d known that the moment he’d made the decision, but he’d felt it was the only option. “I know,” he said quietly.
And there it was again. She crossed the room, sitting down on the couch. “I don’t get you,” she said quietly. “I mean I should be afraid of you. For God’s sakes you’re holding a gun, but for some reason I know you’re not that guy.”
“You’re right. I’m not. I don’t want to hurt you.”
Phyllis nodded. “If that’s true, Curtis. I need you to put the gun down.” She saw his head begin to shake. “Please,” she said, placing her hand on his. “I promise you I won’t go anywhere. I’ll stay right here with you, but I can’t talk to you—we can’t have a conversation with you holding that.”
His mind raced as he felt the warmth of her touch. There was something in her eyes that made him want to trust her—something real, something honest. He knew, just from reading articles, that she was far from a perfect person. Surely she’d done some things in her past that she wasn’t proud of. She had made mistakes and she knew what it was like to need forgiveness from those you cared about. Maybe he could trust her. Maybe she would help him. He sighed, looking into her eyes—the emerald green orbs flickering at him intently.
Leaning forward slowly, he laid the gun on the coffee table. “That’s the best I can do,” he whispered.
She smiled. “Thank you.”
His hand felt strangely empty without the gun, having held it for nearly forty eight hours straight. He stared down at it, unsure of what to do or say. Phyllis slowly reached out, placing her hand in his, squeezing lightly.
It was a simple show of solidarity, a shared bond of two imperfect souls.
“Why are you being so nice to me…after everything I’ve done to you?” he asked.
“I guess you could say I understand. I’m pretty well acquainted with doing bad things for good reasons and I’ve gotten myself in trouble a time or two with the best of intentions.” She smiled at him. “I really believe you have a good heart…I just think you’ve got a little off course. We’ll figure this out and if you’ll let me help you, maybe we can figure it out together.”
“You want to help me?”
“I think it’s preferable to being your hostage, don’t you?”
Curtis opened his mouth to speak but stopped as the phone began to ring. For a moment, neither spoke. He leaned forward, picking up the phone. “Who is this?”
Billy stood beside Nick as they listened to the voice ring out over the speaker phone. Paul waved to several guys at the back who worked feverishly to trace the call.
“Why don’t you tell me who you are first?” Nick said, looking back at Paul for confirmation.
“I’m not telling you anything until you tell me what I want to hear.”
“And what’s that?” Nick asked.
“When I’ll get the money,” Curtis replied. “That’s all I’m after. I don’t want to hurt anybody. I just want the money.”
“How do we know you haven’t already hurt her,” Billy added.
“There’s more than one of you there,” Curtis said, glancing around the room. “Did you go to the cops? I told you no cops.”
Nick glanced over at Billy, his face lined with worry. Paul shook head, motioning for them to keep him talking. They needed more time for the trace.
“We didn’t go to the police,” Nick said quickly. “That’s Billy Abbott, Jack’s brother and I’m Nick Newman. You sent me the fax.”
Curtis paused. “Right. I sent you the fax, but who the hell is this Billy. How does he know about any of this?” Curtis looked back at Phyllis.
“Jack told him. Jack got the fax and called him,” Nick said quickly.
Silence filled the police station for a moment.
“You still there?” Nick said, his voice a bit panicked.
“Yeah…Yeah, I’m here…listen, I really don’t care who I’m dealing with…as long as it’s not the cops and as long as you can pay up. Like I said, it’s all about the money. All I need is the money.”
“Before we talk about the money, we need to know Phyllis is ok. We need to talk to her. Is she with you? Can we talk to her?”
Curtis turned back towards Phyllis. His hand covered the mouthpiece. “They want to talk to you,” he said, his voice hushed and stressed. “Don’t tell them where you are. Don’t tell them my name or anything about me. Just tell them to do what I say and to get the money. Do you understand?”
Phyllis nodded, taking the phone in her hands. “I’m here,” she said.
“Phyllis,” Nick said with a sigh. “Are you okay?”
“I’m okay. I’m fine…honestly. I just need you to get the money, please Nick…just get the money.”
“Billy.” The word came out almost in a whisper and almost immediately her eyes filled with tears.
“We’re gonna get you out of there, ok? You just hang in there. I promise…you’re gonna be ok.”
Curtis grabbed the phone. “That’s enough. You heard her talk. She said she’s fine. Now you know what you need to do. Get the money. I’ll be in touch regarding the time of the drop.”
His legs went weak as he heard the call drop.
“You ok?” Paul said, his eyes glancing up at him for a moment as he stared at the images on the computer screen.
“Did you get the trace?” Nick asked. “Can you tell where they’re holding her?”
Paul’s brow furrowed. “Yeah,” he said as he looked at him. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”
“What doesn’t?” Billy asked, standing up again and walking over to the desk.
“Well, the trace showed the call came from Summer’s apartment. He’s holding Phyllis hostage at her own house.”