“Don’t even start, Chloe. I see that look on your face and I don’t want to hear it. Whatever you might think about Phyllis or about me going out with her..just keep it to yourself.” With a huff, he walked over to the rack and grabbed the shirt.
“Wait..Wait a minute.” Chloe sighed, her face softening a bit as she looked at him. “I wasn’t going to say anything bad.” She saw the expression on his face, his eyes narrowing as he looked at her incredulously. “Well, not really.” He did know her—she couldn’t deny that. Her smile grew wider as she relaxed and shrugged. “I just—I really want good things for you and I’m not sure that Phyllis is…”
She thought for a moment, considering how much she should really be sharing with him. He’d been away from Genoa City for quite a few years and, although Phyllis and Billy’s escapades had been big news here, she wasn’t sure that it would make for tabloid fodder all around the country. But even if it hadn’t, Ronan was a good friend and she didn’t want him getting involved with someone who might not be ready right now—or possibly ever again. Say what you will about the way the relationship began, it was clear that Phyllis adored Billy and the feeling was certainly reciprocated. Every time she saw them together, their love was almost palpable. It was still almost impossible to imagine that he was gone. Somehow knowing that he was now with their daughter gave her some small comfort, but she knew that comfort meant nothing to Phyllis. That kind of loss left a hole in you that nothing and no one could ever fill. She didn’t want to set Ronan up for that game—the kind of game you’d never win because it was unwinnable from the start.
“I’m just not sure Phyllis is really in that place right now.” Chloe watched as the words settled over them, the look on Ronan’s face reflecting his obvious disagreement.
“Chloe,” he began, a slight annoyance creeping into his tone, “I wasn’t asking for your approval. You simply asked who I was going to dinner with and I answered.”
“I know, but…do you know about everything that happened?” Her eyes searched his, trying to discern if he was indeed aware of all the goings on in Genoa City in recent years.
“If you mean everything that happened with Billy Abbott,” he sighed, “Then yes, I know what happened. I also know that Phyllis is raising a daughter alone and that she could really use someone in her corner. I’d just like to give her a little bit of support right now. That’s all. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
Now it was Chloe’s turn to narrow her eyes, staring at him with suspicion. “Right, so buying the outfit is so that you can look dapper and dashing while providing all that good, friendly support?”
“I know what you’re trying to do here, Chloe and you can stop it. I’m not going to let you make this into more than it is.”
“Alright..Alright. You win.” She lifted her hands up in front of him in a sign of mock defeat. “If you say it’s nothing, I’ll go with that. I’m not going to badger you, but I just want to do one thing, if you’ll let me.”
Ronan sighed. “That depends,” he groaned. “What one thing and how long is it gonna take?” He glanced down at his watch. “I don’t have a whole lot of time here.”
“That’s okay. It won’t take long. I want you to let me help you find something decent to wear because clearly…” She gestured to the shirt in his hand. “You need some serious guidance here.”
“I know I’m going to regret this, but fine,” he grumbled. “Do your magic.”
She turned around, staring at the clothes that now almost completely covered the bed. It wasn’t just about finding the right outfit. That was complicated enough. It needed to be nice, but not too nice. Dressy, but not too dressy—sexy enough to prove she wasn’t afraid of being sexy, but not sexy in a way that made him think she was trying to be sexy. It was all very complicated.
There were some things that fit the bill, items that were suitable for a casual dinner with a friend, but the second she looked at them, in some cases the instant her hand touched the fabric, her mind blinked back to the memory of being with Billy..of the last time she’d worn this with him—of where they were, of what they’d done, of the things he’d said, of how he’d smiled…..
Phyllis sighed out loud as she ran her hands over her face. Her eyes fell on the cell phone that sat on the bedside table. Maybe she should call him and cancel. She could explain that she’d said yes on a whim and, that after considering everything, it was just too much too soon. She could even blame it on Grace—claim she couldn’t get a sitter on such short notice. He’d believe that…she’d given herself an out by suggesting it might be a problem from the start. There was only one problem—she really wanted to go. She’d missed having someone to talk to, to confide in—someone that cared about her, valued her opinion, and enjoyed her company.
She and Billy loved each other without question, but they also liked each other. They had fun together. They made each other laugh. Sometimes she believed she missed their friendship almost as much as she missed the loving relationship they shared. Shaking her head she walked back towards the closet, her arm reaching towards the back of the rack. She pulled a dress from the hanger, her hands touching the tags that still remained there. It was a dress she’d bought shortly before the accident, a dress she’d never worn. She’d picked it because she knew Billy would like that it matched her eyes. She nodded as she laid it flat on the bed and began to look for shoes. There would never be a day that she’d stop missing him, but she knew he would want her to move on and be happy. In her heart, she knew he’d approve.
“Anything?” Ashley stood silent, waiting for him to speak.
“No,” he replied, the frustration in his voice now more obvious than she’d ever heard it. “It’s just so damn strange.”
“I know it’s difficult. Just close your eyes, relax, and try to visualize anything that comes to mind.” She pressed down on the nozzle again, fanning the scent with her hand as the fragrance wafted through the room. “Focus on what the smell represents, what you associate it with, what you feel when you smell it…”
She could see the muscles tightening in his face and neck. He wanted so much to remember and it was making him crazy that he couldn’t come up with anything to explain why the scent seemed so familiar to him. Her body jumped slightly as she saw his eyes fly open.
“What?” she asked, the calm in her own voice now replaced by excitement. “Did you remember something?”
“I don’t know, really..” he muttered… “It’s not so much a memory…just kind of like a flash…”
Ashley nodded slowly. “Of what?”
“I think it’s a face. It’s hard to know for sure…it comes and goes so fast. It’s like everything is out of focus and I can’t hone in on it, but I’m almost sure it’s a woman’s face.”
“That’s really good,” Ashley said with a smile.
“Yeah,” he sighed. “It’s great. We’ve narrowed down our search to a woman that may or may not be associated with Scarlett Mist by Jabot.”
“Hey. We’ve done a hell of a lot more than that. The fact that you’re getting anything—even flashes indicates that your memories are there and it also indicates that in time, you’ll be able to get them back. You’ve just got to be patient.”
“Right. I don’t know about the old me,” he scoffed, “but the new me is pretty tired of hearing about patience. Speaking of, have we heard anymore about the fingerprint searches? Have they come up with anything?”
“Apparently they’ve moved to some of the surrounding police departments now,” Ashley said with a smile. “You didn’t hit on any of the FBI databases which means you’ve never been involved in any federal crimes…which, let’s face it, is a good thing.”
He sighed. “I suppose.”
“It is,” she said, shaking her head at his sarcasm. “It would suck to know I’ve become so fond of a contract killer or some kind of mob boss. The detective said they sent out to query yesterday and it normally takes about 48 hours so hopefully we’ll start hearing within the next day or so.”
“I guess hope is all we have, huh?” He leaned back against the pillows, closing his eyes once more. Hope was one thing, but results were another.