Tonight

Based on lyrics to “Tonight” by Sara Evans

She’d been sitting there, in the same place, for hours. The same drink sat in front of her, untouched. Nothing could numb her pain tonight. In truth, she’d known it was over. It had been over for a while now. In fact, she wasn’t sure it had ever truly been right since she’d come back from Georgia. It was as if she was trying to step back into a life that had moved on without her. The feelings were there, but the passion wasn’t.

There had always been something to blame—the coma. She’d been out of commission for a year. That would take its toll on anyone. Certainly that would explain her difficulty connecting to Jack, wouldn’t it? Then there was Kelly. It took time to rebuild trust once it was broken. Relationships weren’t simple. They were complicated. They evolved. This was a phase—something all couples went through. Then there was the whole mess with Marco. For a while, she believed her own psychological scars were keeping her letting anyone in, from trusting again, from being loved…until…

Billy.

“This seat taken?”

“Billy,” she breathed, staring at him with wide eyes, silently wondering if her thoughts had someone beckoned him over.

“Yeah,” he said quietly, a small smile playing on his lips. “Is it okay if I sit?” He looked at her, the expression on her face confusing him. “Phyllis, Is everything okay?”

“I don’t…I don’t think this is such a good idea.” She reached for her purse, her hand trembling as she reached for cash to pay for her drink.

“Hey.” His hand was warm as it covered hers. Her eyes involuntarily closed as she remembered the warmth of his touch on her skin.

She shook her head quickly, snapping herself out of her thoughts—the same thoughts that had landed her here in the first place. “I should go.”

“So that’s it? That’s what we do now? You see me and you go flying in the other direction? We can’t even stay in the same room together?”

If I had a weakness
You sure found it tonight
Some hidden desperation
You saw floatin’ in my eyes
Moments just like these baby
Wrong can feel so right

Damn him. Of all the people in the world to run into tonight…why did it have to be him? Why did it have to be the one person that had the best chance of actually making it better? Why did it have to be the one person that could hold her in his arms and make her believe that life wasn’t quite so bad? Why him?

“I don’t want it to be like that. I just…Tonight isn’t good…” She could feel her eyes filling with tears. This was the last thing she needed to be doing. Billy didn’t want to hear about her problems with Jack and she didn’t want to tell him.

“Why? What happened?”

“Billy, please. I need to go.”

“Phyllis,” he took her hand again.

The same rush of emotion flooded her body. One touch making her feel more than she’d felt in nearly a year with Jack.

He looked directly into her eyes—she’d swear almost into her soul. “I know things are different now, okay? I get that, but I’ll always care about you and I want to help…no matter what it is. I’ll listen.”

“I can’t. I can’t talk about this here.”

“That’s okay. We can go upstairs. I’ve got a suite here.” He saw her eyes narrow. “Yeah,” he nodded. “I just couldn’t stay in that house with Mom and Colin. It was like being in high school.”

She smiled slightly—the first sign of life he’d seen all evening.

“So what do you say? We’ll go up and talk?”

“I..”

“Just talk, Phyllis.”

She sighed. He did know her better than anyone else and it was a far better offer than sitting here and staring at a glass of wine. One thing was certain, she didn’t want to go home to her daughter’s apartment and answer a million questions.

“Alright,” she said quietly. “Lead the way.”

I’ve held it all together
As long as I can
There’s pieces of me fallin’
Right into your hands

“I’m sorry.” Billy handed her a glass of red wine as he took a seat on the couch next to her.

Phyllis cut her eyes over to him, smiling slightly. “No you’re not.”

“I am. I never wanted you to get hurt and I can see that you’re hurting. No matter what I wanted or how I wish things had turned out…if Jack had made you happy and if he was good to you, I would have wanted that for you.”

“Yeah well, that’s all in the past now. Jack and I are over.” She took a long drink from the glass of wine.

“I’ve heard you say that before,” he said quietly. “You and my brother love each other. Maybe you can make it work.” It killed him to even say the words, but he did want her to be happy. Seeing her so sad, so dejected—it broke him. He’d give her up to see her happy.

“No. Not this time.” Phyllis stared out in front of her, trying to make sense of the thoughts that jumbled around in her mind. “This may sound crazy, but I’m not really even sure I’m upset about losing Jack….I think I’m upset about losing.” She looked over at Billy. “My God…what kind of a person says something like that.”

“An honest one…one that knows they aren’t gonna be judged for saying what they feel…one that knows that the person on the other end of this couch has probably thought and said far worse.”

“Touche.” She raised her glass, before draining the last bit. “This is good,” she said softly.

“Yeah. I remembered you liked it. It’s the same…” He stopped himself, closing his eyes and silently cursing his big mouth. He brought her up here to talk, to show her that they could be friends, that they could still have a relationship outside of all the complications and here he was throwing the memories right back in her face.

“the same what?”

“It’s the same wine from the night of the benefit—the night of the storm. I just remembered you said you liked it, so…” He saw the look on her face, the way her eyes instantly filled with tears. “I’m sorry, Phyllis. I am. I know I told you that we could come up here and talk like friends and everything would be normal and I ruined it…”

I might be just a sinner
Who wants to be a saint
One justifies the reason
Oh, one understands the pain

“Stop.”

It startled him to hear her speak. He’d expected her to, at the very least, shut down. At worst, he’d envisioned her grabbing her things and storming out, all the whole shouting how she’d known this had been a bad idea.

“You didn’t ruin it,” she said softly. “You remember the wine?”

“Yeah,” he said quietly. “I mean, I think that’s the right one, isn’t it?” He was suddenly worried he’d been wrong.

“No..no..” The breath came out as a soft laugh as her eyes looked into his. “It’s the right one. I just…I can’t believe you remember that.” She knew she could recall ever detail of their time together with alarming, sometimes torturous clarity, but the fact that he could as well made her wonder if she had somehow underestimated him—if he too spent his nights dreaming about the prospects of their life could have been of the future they could have had.

“Yeah—of course I remember. I remember everything. Every single moment…including the moment you walked away.”

“I never wanted to hurt you, Billy. Whatever you believe about me, please believe that.”

He nodded. “I do believe that, but you did.”

“I know. That’s why this can’t happen. I don’t want to take that chance again…not when I’m just not in that place. Everything is so mixed up in my head and I just don’t know where I’m going with my life. It’s not that I don’t love you, Billy. It’s not even that I don’t want to be with you. It’s just that I don’t know who I am anymore and I need to find that out before I try to make something work with anyone…especially someone that means so much to me.” She scooted closer to him, her hands holding his. “Can you understand that?”

And don’t the lies come easy baby
When the truth just ain’t worth the fight
No I, I don’t wanna go home tonight
Tell me I’m the only one you see tonight
Lonely woman, lonely man
There’s just some things only lonely understands

He looked at her, her emerald eyes now shining up at him, full of tears and questions. More than anything in the world he wanted to hold her, to reassure her that he would always be there for her, that he would always love her, that he’d wait as long as it took for her to realize that the only place she’d find real happiness was with him.

“I understand,” he said quietly, brushing his lips lightly against her forehead.

She smiled at him thankfully and slid forward on the couch. “I guess I should go,” she said, the reluctance evident in her voice.

“Will you be okay to get home?”

“Yeah,” she sighed. “I’ll be fine. I’m just really not looking forward to the questions tonight. Summer can always tell when something’s wrong and she won’t rest until we’ve talked it out. I just wish I didn’t have to go there tonight.” She felt her throat thicken again. “This is never how I envisioned my life, you know?” Another tear ran down her cheek.

He cupped her face, gently brushing the tears away with his thumb. Leaning in closer he swallowed hard, reminding himself of his earlier agreement. “Why don’t you stay here? I can sleep out on the couch. It’s no big deal.”

“No…I couldn’t do that.” In truth, she honestly doubted her ability. To sleep in a bed without him knowing he was within walking distance could prove a physical impossibility.

“You’re staying here,” he said, standing and walking over to the bureau. “It’s late. You don’t need to be trying to get a car at this hour anyway.” He turned around, handing her a shirt. “Here, I’m assuming you don’t want to sleep in that.”

Phyllis looked down at her dress and nodded before disappearing from the room.

~

Billy stood, his back to the wall as he forced air into his lungs. “This is a bad idea,” he whispered, softly allowing his head to hit the wall. “A very, very bad idea.”

Phyllis stepped into the room, his shirt hanging loosely on her small frame. “Did you say something?”

“Me? Uh, no..I didn’t. I was just waiting until you got settled before I turned off the lights.” He tried not to stare as she climbed into the bed, somehow managing to still look impossibly sexy in an old t-shirt.

Walking over the small bench, he grabbed a blanket and unfolded it, laying it across the bed and pulling it up over here. “I know you get cold,” he said softly, unable to resist the urge to brush her hair away from her face.

She smiled at him. “Thank you…Thanks for letting me stay here, for listening, for everything.”

“Not a problem.” He leaned down, kissing her forehead gently lingering closer to her for a moment, longer than he needed, relishing the feeling of her warm breath on his skin. He moved to pull away, but felt her hand grip his shirt, her eyes now staring at him much more intently.

“Do you have to go?”
Billy stared at her, wide eyed. She’d asked a question, but there was another—a far more weighted one, that was implied. “Not if you don’t want me to,” he said quietly.

“Maybe you could stay,” she said softly, before adding, “just until I fall asleep.”

“I can do that.” He took a seat on the foot of the bed, the awkward silence filling the room.

She shivered, pulling the covers up tighter around her.

“You cold?”

“A little,” she whispered.

“I can get you another blanket…” He allowed his voice to trail off, watching her every move.

“Or maybe you could just…” She smiled as his eyes met hers. Within seconds his arms were around here and his lips were on her forehead, her eyes, her nose, before stopping on her lips. His kiss could always make her forget everything else—that certainly hadn’t changed.

“I thought you said you needed to find yourself,” he breathed, his lips still covering close to hers.

She ran her hands across his back, “I did say that, but I forgot a very important thing…I’ve already done that. I found myself when I was with you.”

Billy shook his head, in complete awe of the woman in front of him, smiling at her before, his lips came crashing down on hers once more.

There would be struggles and changes and many things left to face, but they certainly didn’t have to deal with them tonight.

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