“I’m sorry,” she whispered, the words rushing from her mouth as her face flushed with embarrassment. Dependency wasn’t her style, but being in someone’s arm, being held, being comforted—it certainly had its appeal. She ran her hands against her cheeks, wiping the tears away and trying desperately to salvage a little of her dignity. Turning her back to him, she breathed in deeply, “You didn’t come here for this, I’m sure.”
The warmth of his body could be felt before he ever touched her and she found herself drawn to him in a way she hadn’t expected. His hands were strong but still gently as he turned her back around to face him. “I came to see you…No requirements.”
The deep, raspy rumble of his voice seemed to echo through her and she looked away for a moment, the effect he had on her now becoming far too obvious.
She looked up at him again, his eyes were fixed on hers, his hands still rested on her shoulders. “You know you don’t have to pretend with me, right?”
It was the sincerity in his voice that nearly brought her to tears once more and she felt her eyes burn with a rush of tears. “I really haven’t talked about it. I guess somehow I kind of thought if I didn’t say it out loud that maybe…”
Ronan nodded, taking a few steps towards the bed and sitting down on the side. He didn’t want to crowd her. Phyllis prided herself on being strong and independent, but it was that same strength and independence that would keep her from reaching out to others when she truly needed help. If she was willing to let him in, to let him help her, she would do it in her time, on her terms. He watched silently as she looked back at him, her face relaxing as she saw him just waiting.
Slowly, he reached out to the empty space beside him and patted the bed, the open invitation giving her the opportunity to share or not. He smiled softly at her as she stepped slowly over to the bed and sat down next to him. He took her trembling hand in his. “Whatever you want to tell me,” he said softly.
He nodded politely at the man as he gathered his equipment and walked out of the room. Turning his attention to Ashley he asked, “Did he tell you how long it would be until they know if they found a match anywhere?”
“He said it could take a few days. It depends on how many databases they have to search. I guess it would be quicker if you were a serial killer or something, but somehow you don’t strike me as the type.” She saw him laugh softly and smiled. “You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you…I know you said they tried different things with you to try and get your memory back, but you really don’t remember anything at all?”
“I don’t know. It’s weird. Sometimes it seems like I do…like I’m watching a screen that’s got too much static or something…like you’re seeing blips of something that won’t quite come into focus, but nothing make sense and nothing is clear.”
“But you do remember something?” Ashley reached over, grabbing a pen and paper from the bedside table. “We should start writing things down. Maybe eventually things will start coming together. I mean what might not make sense on its own, might make more sense if its added to other things, right?”
He shrugged, finding it difficult to find much hope. “I don’t know, I mean, I’ve not even really been able to piece together anything that I can think of to write down. It’s not that kind of stuff.”
“Tell me…what kind of stuff?”
“I don’t know…I guess like your name.”
Ashley glanced up at him, her eyes narrowing in confusion. “My name?”
“Yeah. And it could be nothing, but your name just seems familiar to me…something about it just seems like a name that I know or have known.”
“Ok.” She smiled up at him, her eyes lighting up as she spoke. “See, that’s something.”
“No, it’s not.” He growled in frustration as he ran his fingers through his hair. “It’s nothing. What the hell are we gonna do with something like that? I mean the name Ashley…how many people in the world exist with the name Ashley. That tells us nothing.”
She sighed, reaching out her hand hesitantly. “Hey,” she whispered. “I know it’s frustrating, but the fact that something seems a little familiar might mean that your memories will start to come back eventually. You’ve got to give it a little time. Maybe bit by bit your life will start to come back to you. Who knows, before they even call with your results, you could remember exactly who you are and where you’re from.”
He forced a smile, hating to disappoint the young woman in front of him. “Yeah,” he scoffed. “I’m sure that’ll happen.”
“Damn.” Her shocked expression jolted his brain back to reality. “I mean, I’m sorry. I don’t even know what to say…”
“Actually…that’s probably the most appropriate response I’ve heard…definitely the most honest.” She smiled at him, her reaction surprising even herself. She’d been afraid to talk for so long—afraid that opening herself that much would release the floodgates of emotions that she’d never be able to close, but it hadn’t. She’d told Ronan everything. She’d told him about the affair, about the backlash, about their relationship, and the good times, and then she’d told him about the unimaginable horror of losing of it all. What she’d expected to be a grueling, horrific recounting was almost therapeutic and it had been unbelievably wonderful to have someone listen—really listen, without judgment or preconceived ideas.
He shook his head. “I don’t know how you did it. I really don’t. To go through all that only to lose..” He stopped himself, hearing the words as he said them. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t..”
“No, it’s okay. It’s nice to have someone that’s honest. Most people in this town either treat me like I got what I deserve or they treat me like I’m one bad hair day away from Fairview, so this is a nice change of pace, believe me.”
She stood, walking over to the bassinet and peeking in, her eyes glancing down at the still sleeping baby before returning to stare at him. “You never told me how long you’re staying.”
“That’s because I’m not sure. I really haven’t made any definite plans.”
Phyllis nodded. “Oh, well, where are you staying?”
“I actually don’t know that either.” He laughed a bit, his lips curving into a sly smile. “I’m not much on plans, you know that.”
“I remember. Well, if you are thinking of staying for a while, I’m sure they could find a spot for you at GCPD.”
“Right,” he whispered. “How I’ve missed that place.” Damn it, Ronan, Get it together! He silently chastised himself. This is not a middle school dance. You know how to do this.
“You know…if you’re not busy, maybe we could grab a bite to eat or something tomorrow night.” He swallowed hard, feeling as if his legs might give way beneath him if she was evil enough to make him squirm.
Phyllis turned around, her face showing her surprise. “Oh, I…Well, I’ll have to see if the sitter is available, but..” She watched as he shifted his weight from foot to foot and found herself charmed at his obvious nervousness, “But I’d love to.”
“Great.” It was a valiant effort to control the release of breath so his deep sigh was not audible, but he managed and he was proud of the satisfied smile that adorned his face as he quickly scribbled his cell number down on a sheet of paper and handed it to her. “Just give me a call and let me know for sure and we’ll set up a time.”
“Sounds good,” she smiled, not missing his obvious tells, but enjoying the show far too much to give him a hard time. She’d save that for later.