Love Lost pt 19

Had she not been so upset, she probably would have noticed the look of abject terror on his face.  Ronan fought to keep his composure as he gently wrapped her in his arms.  “Hey, just relax.  It’s alright.  It’s all going to be alright. Just tell me what happened.”

Phyllis leaned back, blinking as she looked up at him.  “I don’t know,” she managed.  “I was just waiting in the park for the agent.”  She paused.  “I told about the agent right?”  She doubted everything about herself in that moment.  Nothing seemed to make sense.

“Yeah,” he whispered, trying his best to calm her.  He rested his hand on hers as she slowly began to still.  “You did.  You said you were meeting with her to try and find a place in Genoa City.  Did you find anything?”

She shook her head, her mind drifting back to the park.  “No…she…she…wasn’t there.  The sitter came and took Grace over to the pond to see the ducks.”  She smiled.  “Grace loves the ducks.”

Ronan sighed.  “Yeah.  I know she does.  Maybe we can take her back there this weekend?”

“Yeah…maybe….”

He hated to ask more questions, hated bringing up something that caused her so much distress, but whatever had happened in the park today had clearly been enough to put her in this state.  It had caused her to leave Grace with a sitter for the night and worse, it had caused her question her sanity.  “Phyllis?”  His voice was hesitant as he looked at her, his hand softly brushing her cheek, “You said you thought you saw Billy?”

Tears immediately rushed into her eyes, cascading down her cheeks.  “I would have bet my life on it, Ronan.  It looked so much like him.”

It was the cry in her voice that killed him, the desperation and the longing that made him feel far worse than he ever thought possible.  “What happened?”  He was certain he didn’t want to know the answer, but even more sure he had to.

She looked away, clearly embarrassed.  “I chased after him,” she said softly, glancing up for a moment before looking away again.  “I just…I thought it was him.  I really did.  I mean, in my head I knew…or at least now I know it couldn’t be because he’s…..he’s…”  She couldn’t bring herself to say the word.  Somehow saying it made it more real and it just felt wrong.

Ronan shook his head.  “So you chased him?”

“Yeah…and he took off.  I’m sure he thought I was insane and he was just trying to get the hell out of dodge.  It’s just….”  She sighed, looking up at him with the eyes that still broke his heart.  “I don’t’ know…it just seemed so real.  It wasn’t even that I thought it looked like him…in that moment, I thought it was Billy and I had to get to him…as if somehow if I’d been able to catch him, he wouldn’t be gone.”  She looked up, her eyes screaming with a desperation he hadn’t seen there before.  “I’m telling you, I think I might really be losing it.”

He cupped her face in his hands.  “The last thing you are is crazy.  Do you hear me?  You’re hurting.  It’s okay to hurt.  It’s okay to break down.  Everyone has a moment like this where they don’t want to accept it…where they’d do anything to believe that the horrible thing isn’t true.  You just want him back so much…that’s all.  Your heart is just broken and it’s trying to find a way to feel something besides that emptiness….”

His fingers danced gently against her face, carefully wiping away the tears.  She closed her eyes, his words resonating within her soul.  There was a truth there—an honesty.  Ronan cared about her.  He always had and now he wanted to be here, to help her, to heal her.  She took a breath, lifting her eyes to meet his as she felt his lips softly brush hers.  He was hesitant, tentative as if he was waiting for the moment that she’d pull away and tell him she couldn’t do this.  She wrapped her arms around him, pulling him tighter against her, kissing him—really kissing him and then, finally, pulling back.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, as if almost habit.

“Just wait here,” she whispered, a small smile on her face.  “I just need to go take care of something.”

Ronan watched as she walked slowly from the room, glancing over her shoulder and shooting a smile at him before she stepped out.  He quickly pulled out his phone, pressing the buttons he’d come accustomed to.

“Hey Ashley,” he said softly, glancing back towards the door to make sure Phyllis didn’t interrupt.  “Billy—can I uh speak to…”  His eyes closed as he heard the words he was most afraid of.  “Yeah,” he sighed.  “Yeah, I thought maybe he was.”  He took a deep breath.  “Listen, I uh..I don’t have his personal cell number, so can you get in touch with him and give him my number.  Ask him to give me a call, please.  Tell him it’s urgent.”  He waited.  “Yeah, thanks.”

He shoved the phone back in pocket, his mind racing with possibilities.  There was no way to make this better.  How did he tell her this?  How could he make her understand?

“Well,” she said softly, “That’s a pretty serious expression for what I have planned.”

Ronan looked up quickly, his heart beating rapidly as he saw Phyllis standing in front of him, a silk robe tied around her slight frame.

The breath left him quickly and he stared silently for a moment.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen you at a loss for words,” she whispered, stepping closer to him as she sat down on the bed next to him.  Her hands rested on his shoulder as she looked at him.

“I…” he began.  “You’re beautiful and I would love nothing more than to…”

He felt her tense as she leaned back, her eyes widening a bit.

“Phyllis,” he began.

“No,” she said quickly, the look in her eyes a mix of shock and hurt.  “I thought this was what you wanted.”

“It is,” he breathed.  “God, it is, but I can’t do this with you…not when…”

She stood in front of him, tears still shimmering in her eyes, her arms crossed.  “Not when what?! I’m sorry if I’m not as over Billy as you’d like me to be, Ronan, but I can’t promise you I’m ever going to be in a place where I don’t ever think about him.  I’m trying, damn it!  I’m trying, but I still feel a connection to him.  I know they say you have to move on, but that’s hard when you still feel like someone is a part of you and I just…”  The tears streamed down her face again and she huffed as she turned away from him.  “I don’t expect you to understand this.”

“Phyllis,” he whispered, “That’s what I’m trying to tell you.”  He placed his hands on her shoulder, gently turning her around to face him.  “I’m trying to tell you that there’s a reason you feel that way.  You thought you saw Billy today because you did.”

She blinked, her entire body suddenly feeling numb.  She reached for him, and allowed him to move her over to the chair.  “What did you say?” she asked, looking up at him.

“I know…I know how it must sound, but you have to listen to me.  You saw Billy today.  Not someone you thought was Billy, not someone who looked like Billy, but Billy.”

“No.”  She shook her head violently, running her hands over her face.  “No.  Billy is dead.  He’s dead.  He died.  He’s gone.”  She felt his hands on her face as he forced her to look at him.

“No he’s not,” he said quietly.  “He was in a car accident where he lost all his identification.  He was found a few days later in an isolated area and taken to a local hospital.  He’s been there for nearly a year.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” she muttered, an uneasy calm now taking over, “If he was in a hospital why wouldn’t they call us?  Why wouldn’t he call us?”

“He had no ID and the accident—he didn’t remember…and he still doesn’t.  He doesn’t know who he is.”  Ronan took a breath, hating that he had to ruin the miracle of the moment with words like this.  “He doesn’t know who you are…who any of his family is.  He doesn’t remember anything.”  Her sharp intake of breath startled him and he waited for the eventual onslaught of rage.

“Wait…Wait a minute.”  She struggled to stand, her hands trembling as she wrung them around and around each other.  “How do you know all this?  You know all this about him?”

“I know because I’m the one who found him.  I went to the hospital. I identified him.”

The look in her eyes was part shock, part anger, part disbelief.  “You knew?  You knew Billy was alive and you didn’t tell me?”

“Phyllis….I knew a man that looked like Billy and sounded like Billy was alive.  I also knew it would break your heart to see him and feel him and know that he felt nothing for you because he remembered nothing about you.”

“That wasn’t your choice to make!” she screamed, tears of rage now pouring from her eyes as she struggled for breath.  “How dare you!”  She struck out at him in anger and he allowed her to pound at his chest for several minutes before he gently grabbed her wrists.

“Please stop,” he pleaded.  “Phyllis…Phyllis, please.”  She thrashed against him for several minutes before finally collapsing into the chair out of sheer exhaustion.  When she finally looked up at him, her eyes were desperate again.

“How long have you known?”

“Not that long,” he sighed, “A couple weeks.”

She closed her eyes, shaking her head in complete shock.

Ronan knelt down in front of her.  “Listen, I’m not asking you to forgive me,” he whispered, “but I still want to help you…whatever you believe about me, please believe that I genuinely want to make things better for you and for Grace.  Billy is in Genoa City and I can help you find him.  I can bring him here.  Will you let me do that?”

Phyllis looked up at him, slowly standing to her feet.  “After what you did,” she said calmly, “I’d think that’s the least you can do.”

 

Love Lost pt 18

“I’m sorry.  I don’t have any kind of picture ID,” Billy said with a sigh, “but I’ll pay in cash—in advance,” he offered.  “For the entire week.”  He watched the look on the desk clerk’s face, her suspicious eyes, lighting up a bit at the sight of the cash on the dingy countertop.

“That’s for the whole week upfront?”

“Yeah, the whole week, upfront and the security deposit.”  He glanced around the small front office.  The fact that this place had a security deposit was a bit laughable, but he didn’t have the luxury of being particular.  Not too many hotels in the city would rent to someone with no ID and no valid credit card.

“Alright,” she said gruffly, snatching the money and handing him a key.  “We don’t do the key cards,” she smiled.  “We’re not too fancy around here.”

Billy sighed.  “No problem.  Neither am I.”  He shoved the key into his pocket as he trudged out the door onto the sidewalk.  It was only a few steps to his new front door.  The key slipped into the lock easily and he pushed open the door and leaned his bag against the wall.  “She wasn’t kidding,” he mumbled out loud, “Nothing fancy about this.”  He closed the door, and flipped the lock.  It had been an exhausting day and a long bus ride.  After kicking off his shoes and removing his jacket, he stretched out across the bed.  Reaching into the back pocket of his jeans, he pulled out the photo, pulling it down to his chest.  He didn’t know who they were or what they meant to him, but Ashley had been right—they meant something and in a world where nothing seemed to make any connection, something was a hell of a lot.  He closed his eyes and slowly drifted off to sleep.

~

“Hi.”  Ronan stood up, pulling out the chair and waiting for Phyllis to sit before sliding it back under the table.  He leaned in to lightly kiss her cheek before bending down to speak to Grace.  “And good morning to you too,” he smiled, reaching into the stroller and stroking her tiny hand.

“You better watch out,” Phyllis whispered, leaning in towards him and speaking through gritted teeth.

“What?”

“Word’s gonna get out that you’re nothing but a big ol’ softie,” she hissed.  “Pulling out chairs, playing with babies…pretty soon you’ll be drinking light beer and getting facials…”  She grinned mischievously as he took a seat across from her.

“That’s really good to see.”  Ronan  pushed a cup of coffee across to her, his eyes softening as he watched her blink in confusion.

“What is?” she asked.

“That smile….it’s been a long time since I’ve seen one of those real genuine Phyllis smiles.  I’ve missed them.”

“Oh,” She was serious for a moment and he worried he might have said too much.  He nearly sighed aloud in relief as he watched the smile spread across her face again.  “You know what, I’ve missed them too.  It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like smiling like that and you know what?  You’re the reason why…”

“Me?”  He leaned back, feigning shock.  “What did I do?”

“You did what you always do.  You reminded me of what it’s like to just be…not to be worried about a million things…not to be so serious all the time.  You reminded me that it’s okay to just enjoy life every once in a while…and you’re good with my kid.  That always helps.”

“Well, she happens to be a great kid.  That helps too.”  Ronan glanced down at Grace who worked furiously to pull her foot into her mouth.  He grinned, “And working on being as flexible as her Mama I see….” He stopped.  “I’m sorry..I was joking..I didn’t mean anything by that…”

“Ronan,…Ronan…”  She laughed, reaching across the table and lightly touching his hand.  “It’s alright, honestly.  I’m really enjoying spending time with you and I don’t know where things are going but I’d like to see and if you’re willing to be a little patient.  I mean, I’m not quite ready for that yet, but…”

“I can be patient.  You’re worth waiting for.”  The words came out of his mouth more quickly than he intended and he cleared his throat, feeling his cheeks burn with embarrassment as he brought his coffee cup to his lips to take a sip, “So,” he said, with a deep breath, “What are the two of you up to today?”

Phyllis smiled, appreciating his attempt to lighten the mood.  “Well, actually we need to get going.  We’re going to head to the park and take a walk and I’m meeting a real estate agent there a little later.”

She saw his face fall immediately.

“Oh,” he breathed.  “I didn’t realize you weren’t planning on staying in town.  I just thought earlier when you said…”  He shook his head.  “Never mind.  I mean you certainly don’t own me any explanation..”

“No..No..I’m talking to an agent about trying to find a place here…so that I can stay here permanently.  Initially it was always the plan to go back to Chicago, but I realized that I’ve really missed it here and there’s some things that I’d like to pursue here.”  She let her eyes drift up to find his again and she smiled.

Ronan stood, “Well, in that case, maybe I could walk you out.”

~

“Thanks so much for meeting me here.”  Phyllis smiled as she passed the bag and stroller over to the sitter, “I shouldn’t be very long.”

“No problem.  I’ll just walk her over near the pond.  She likes to see the ducks.”

Phyllis stood, glancing around the crowded park as the sitter pushed Grace over by the pond.  She glanced down at her cell phone. There were no missed calls, so she expected the meeting was still on as planned.  She’d never been very good at waiting.  Forcing a smile, she paced back and forth passed groups of people picnicking and talking, scanning the crowds to look for a familiar face.  The agent had her number. Surely she’d call if she’d arrived and couldn’t find her.

With a frustrated sigh, Phyllis collapsed onto a bench.  This is what she’d always told her children.  If you were lost, stay in one place—that way you’re easier to find.  She moved her head slowly from left to right, scanning each section of the park with precision.  Her eyes fell on a tree in the far corner.  In an instant her heart began to race.  It wasn’t possible.  It couldn’t be.  She stood, her legs already trembling.  Logic and rational thought were quickly overwhelmed by the simple idea of it being true and she bolted across the grass, babbling apologies to people as she pushed them aside.  The closer she got the more certain she was.  He was the same height, the same build.  He had his skin, his hair….

She reached the tree, grabbing onto it and struggling for breath.  Her chest burned as she gasped frantically, her sides ached and she found herself struggling to keep from falling.

“Miss?  Miss?  Are you alright?”  A voice behind her called to her and all she could do was whisper.

“Billy.”

~

He knocked on the door, resisting the urge to kick it down.  He’d barely been able to understand her on the phone, her message was so garbled and almost incoherent.  When he’d finally managed to calm her somewhat, he’d managed to understand that she was in her room and that she needed him to come… ‘now’.  If there was one thing he knew for certain, Phyllis Summers didn’t ask for help.  The fact that she’d called was a sure sign that something was terribly wrong.  “Phyllis?”  he called, leaning in close to the door, desperate to hear something, anything to let him know she was okay.  He breathed a sigh of relief when he heard footsteps.

“Hey,” he whispered, wrapping his arms around her as she nearly collapsed into his arms.  He stepped inside the room, pushing the door closed behind him as he walked her back into the living area and gently sat her down on the bed.  He sat down beside her as he pushed the hair away from her face.  One look at her eyes and he could tell she’d been crying for hours.  “Is Grace alright?” Grace was the only thing he could think of that might put her in such a state.

Phyllis nodded.  “She’s with the sitter,” she said quietly.  “I couldn’t let her see me like this…not like this.”

“Phyllis,” he sighed.  “What’s wrong?  What on earth happened?”

She seemed to calm for a minute, her hands shaking a bit as she clasped his tightly in hers.  “Ronan,” she began, “I need your help.  You’ve always been honest with me and I need you to tell me the truth..no matter what, okay?”

He shook his head, cupping her face in his hands, desperate to help her in any way he could.  “Of course…of course I will.”

“I know you’ve only been around for a little while and you only know what I’ve told you, but you’ve seen me recently and….”  Her voice broke and he watched painfully as she struggled to regain what little composure she had left.  “I need to know…Do you think…Do you think it’s possible that I could be losing my mind?”

“What?”  He stared at her for a moment, stroking her face again, brushing the hair that stuck to her face in the tear stained tracks away.  “Why would you say that?  No…No…You’re not losing your mind.  You’re grieving.  That’s okay.  You’re allowed to be sad.  You’re allowed to have bad days.”

“It’s not a bad day,” she sobbed.  She looked up at him, hesitating, fearful.

“Phyllis,” he breathed, “It’s okay…just tell me.  Whatever it is…just say it.”

“I know how it sounds…ok?  And I know it can’t be true, so I’m not so far gone, right?”  She forced a small smile before the tears came again.  “Oh God, Ronan,” she sobbed, “I swear I saw him today.  I saw Billy.”

 

Love Lost pt 17

“You know, you need to eat something.”  Ashley sighed as she stepped into the room.  “Billy Abbott,” she bellowed, smiling as he finally glanced over at her.

“Sorry,” he sighed.  “I was just involved in all this.”

“So I see.”  Ashley sat her bag in the chair by his bed and placed a paper take out bag on the tray by the laptop.  “Here,” she grinned, “I smuggled in some outside food for you since they’re going to be springing you later.  I figured you might as well get your system used to eating something that actually has a taste.”

Billy laughed.  “Thanks.”  He pushed the laptop to the side, digging into the bag and pulling out the cardboard container of fries.

“So, you found anything else earth shattering on there?”  Ashley laughed as he narrowed his eyes at her.

“Honestly, I’m kind of afraid to keep looking,” he muttered, “Every time I think I’ve found the bottom of the barrel, I find another story to illustrate just how much of a screw up I really am.”

“Pfft.  Don’t say that.  Come on, if any one of us was to go researching our pasts on the internet, I’m sure we’d all be able to come up with a file of misdeeds we’d rather not remember.”

“Try a file cabinet,” Billy retorted.  “I mean the woman that I’m in love with…the woman I have a child with was my brother’s wife when we got together.  That’s….”  He stopped, not even knowing how to put his thoughts into words.

“Didn’t Ronan say you guys were good together though?  So maybe it’s one of those things…one of those meant to be kind of situations?”

Billy rolled his eyes.  “You’ve been watching too many movies,” he sighed.  “I don’t know..it’s just..” He picked up the photo and looked at it again.

Ashley smiled.  “I’ve been watching you,” she said quietly, “every time you look at that picture.  It’s like you don’t remember in your head, but maybe your heart does.”

“Ugh,” Billy leaned back against the pillow.  “That’s what I’m talking about,” he sighed.  “That’s why I have to go back there.  I have to see this place.  I have to see these people.  Maybe if I’m back in the places and I can actually be surrounded by the things and the people I used to know, it’ll all come back.”

“And if it doesn’t?” Ashley asked quietly.

“I don’t know, but I do know I have to try.”  He paused.  “I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done though…from taking care of me to helping me get this far to talking them into letting me out.  And the loan…”

“I checked you out,” she grinned, “You’re a good investment.  Your family connections are strong.”

Billy laughed.  “Seriously though.  Thanks.”

~

Lauren followed Phyllis back into the living room.  “She really is a sweetheart,” she smiled.  “I miss when the boys were that age.”

Phyllis nodded.  “Yeah, it’s been really good for me to have her around.  In the beginning, she was the only thing that kept me going most days.”

“And now?”

“Now, it’s getting a little easier.  Some days are better than others of course, but I have more good days than bad I guess.”

Lauren grinned.  “Any particular reason?”

“I’m guessing Michael told you.”  Phyllis took a seat in the chair as she watched her friend get settled across from her.

“He might have mentioned that you and Ronan were getting close again.”  She paused.  “So, is it serious?”

“I don’t know,” she said honestly.  “I mean, Ronan and I had a good thing for a while and it’s been great to see him, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to jump back into anything serious right now.  I’m not sure that I’ve really moved on to that point yet.”

“Well, I mean…if you’re headed back to Chicago, I guess that’ll pretty much answer that question though, won’t it?”

Phyllis stilled, glancing up over her coffee cup.

“Phyllis?  You are going back to Chicago, right? I just assumed this was a visit like all the other times.”  Her mouth moved into a broad smile, “Are you telling me that you’re thinking about coming back to Genoa City for good?”

“Wait—Wait…”  Phyllis held up her hand to stop the impending excitement.  “Don’t start shopping for apartments yet.  I haven’t decided anything for sure, but yes—I’m thinking about it.  It would be good for Grace to be closer to the family and the truth is I miss it here.  I thought going away would be easier, that it would help me get over Billy, but I think about him no matter where I am and the only thing the distance has done is keep me away from my friends and family.”

“And Ronan…Does Ronan have any kind of pull in this decision?”  Lauren stared at her, searching her eyes for any potential spark.

“He might,” she sighed.  “I mean, it would be nice to know that if I stayed here there was someone that I felt connected to in that way…someone I could see myself building a future with..”

“Well, I think that’s wonderful,” Lauren smiled.  She stopped as she heard a knock on the door.  “Were you expecting someone?”

“No,” Phyllis responded, heading to the door quickly.  She stretched a bit, glancing through the peephole and quickly glancing back over her shoulder at Lauren.  “It’s Ronan,” she whispered.

“Say no more,” Lauren grinned.  “I need to head off to work anyway.”

“Lauren you don’t have to..”

Lauren shook her head, pulling open the door and smiling at them both.  “Hello Ronan,” she said cheerfully.  “I think there’s some muffins left if you’re hungry.”

“Lauren,” Ronan said with a nod as he looked back towards Phyllis.  “I hope I didn’t interrupt anything,” he said softly.

“No, you didn’t.  Lauren was just leaving anyway.”  Phyllis glanced down at the ground, her actions from earlier still weighing heavily on her mind.

“Can I come in?” Ronan was hesitant, not wanting to be too forceful, but not too keen on having the conversation in the hallway either.
“Oh, of course you can.  I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking,” Phyllis stammered, stepping aside and allowing him to walk in.

“About the other night,” they both said in unison.

“You go,” she said with a smile.

“Phyllis,” Ronan began, clearing his throat nervously, “I should have never pushed you the way that I did.  You have every right to feel however you feel and for me to suggest that you shouldn’t or to even sound like I’m suggesting you should is completely out of line.  I would never want you think that I don’t respect everything you  had with Billy because I do and I completely understand that you’re not in a place where….”

“Ronan…Ronan…Ronan..”  Phyllis looked at him, a warm smile playing on her face once his eyes met hers.  “It’s okay,” she whispered, “You don’t have to apologize.  I’m the one who should be apologizing.  You were just trying to be honest with me and I overreacted. I’m just really sensitive to a lot of things when it comes to Billy and I shouldn’t have got so upset with you.  You were just trying to make things better between us and I understand that.  I really do.  I want things to be okay with us.  I want us to be able to be honest with each other…even if it isn’t always easy or pretty.”

Ronan drew in a deep breath.  “I want that too,” he said softly.

The sound of Grace’s soft cry interrupted the moment.

“I’m sorry,” Phyllis said, shaking her head.  “I swear it’s like she’s got radar or something.  Let me just go get her.”  She turned to go before stopping and looking back at him.  “Promise you’ll be here when I get back, okay?”

Ronan nodded.  “Promise.”

He watched as she walked towards the nursery, his heart pounding in his chest.  Guilt welled up inside him as he stood there.  He knew how much she missed him, how much it hurt her every day to think he was gone, but wouldn’t it hurt her more to know that he was here physically but gone forever from her in the way that truly mattered.  His mind raced as he heard her soft footsteps enter the room.

“It looks like someone didn’t want to miss the action,” she said with a smile.

Ronan looked up to see Grace smiling at him, her tiny hands reaching out towards him.

“She likes you,” Phyllis said with a smile as Grace reached for him again.  “Go ahead,” she whispered, “Take her.”

“Oh, I don’t think she…”

“She’s reaching for you,” Phyllis laughed, handing her to him.

Ronan carefully cradled Grace in his arms, her tiny hand carefully touching his face, her fingertips pulling back slightly as she ran over the scruff of his stubble.  “Hi there,” he whispered as he stared down at her.

“Looks like you’ve made quite the impression,” Phyllis smiled as she bent down to pick up a few toys.  “You know they say babies have great instincts about people.”  She looked up at him, her eyes staring into his for a moment.  “You think that’s true?”

Ronan swallowed hard as he felt Grace’s hand wrap tight around his finger.  “Yeah,” he whispered, “I guess so.”

 

Love Lost pt 16

“Well, hi,” Phyllis said, her voice betraying her surprise as she stepped back and allowed Lauren to step into the room.

Lauren smiled.  “The surprise in your voice tells me that I’ve been a pretty crappy friend recently.”  She leaned in to give her a quick hug.  “I’m really sorry I haven’t been around much sweetie.  I’ve just been so busy with work and everything else.”  She pulled away, sighing deeply, “Which is absolutely no excuse for not calling or coming by, but…”

“It’s fine…don’t give it another thought.  I’m just glad to see you this morning.”  She reached out for the coffee and paper bag.  “And you have no idea how much I need this this morning.”

“Rough morning?”

Lauren followed Phyllis into the living area, stopping by the swing and bending down to scoop up Grace.  “I don’t know how anyone could have a bad morning when you get to wake up to this sweet little face.”

“Yeah,” Phyllis smiled, “She’s sweet now…not so sweet at 4am when she refuses to sleep.”  She stroked Grace’s arm as she shook her head slowly.  “No, it’s not that…it’s just…I don’t know…everything really.”

“Sounds like we’ve got a quite a bit of ground to cover,” Lauren smiled, pulling a few muffins from the bag and sitting them down on the table.  “You pick first.”

~

Billy stared at the image on the phone before looking back at Ronan.  “I don’t understand.”

Ronan felt his own heart break as he heard the words.  He could only imagine how Phyllis would feel.  “You don’t recognize that woman at all?”

He looked back down at the picture again, “No..I..I..don’t.  Should I?  Who is she?”  He paused for a minute.  “Wait a minute.  You called me Billy.   Do you know who I am?  Is that my name?”

Ronan took a deep breath.  There was no going back now.  “Yes,” he sighed.  “I know who you are.  Your name is Billy Abbott.  You’re from Genoa City, Wisconsin.  You were injured in a car accident about a year ago and you’ve been missing ever since.”

“Billy Abbott,” he breathed.  It felt like he’d been punched in the gut.  The relief he’d expected to feel when he finally got the answers wasn’t here and in its place was this overwhelming sense of anxiety.  There were so many questions, too many questions, questions he didn’t even know how to put into words.  “The picture?”

“Her name is Phyllis…Phyllis Summers…You loved her…and…the baby that’s your daughter.  Her name’s Grace.”

His heart felt as if would pound out of his chest and he closed his eyes for a moment.  “She’s little,” he finally managed.  “Is she still little like that?”

“Yeah,” Ronan whispered, “That’s from last night.  Phyllis found out she was pregnant after you die…well, after she thought that you…”

“Oh.”  He didn’t know what to say.  He didn’t even know what to feel.  In every dream he’d had about his life, it had never been like this.  He’d always been happy to find out who he was and where he’d come from, but this—this was like an overwhelming wave that he couldn’t get out from under.  He kept fighting for breath, but the water kept coming.  Thoughts hit one after the other and the second he managed a coherent question, another necessary, more pressing inquisition would assault his brain.

“Last night?”  Billy said suddenly, his quick words breaking the silence in the room.  “You said the picture was from last night?”

“Yeah, it was.”

“You were with them…Do they know…about me?”

“No.  I haven’t told her.  I thought about it, but I didn’t.” Ronan watched his face, anticipating anger, but instead he was met with confusion.

“Why?”

Ronan stood up, walking a few steps away from him and turning his back.  It was easier to say if he didn’t have to look at him.  “Because I love her,” he said quietly.  He turned back after a few moments with no response.  Billy simply looked at him, waiting for him to continue.

He sat back down in the chair, his hands brushing hard over his face.  “You have every right to be angry.  I mean, I can’t imagine what it must be like to have no idea about your life and then to know that someone knew everything and kept it from you.  I’d be mad as hell if I were you right now.”  He paused.  “In fact, I’ve gotta say, I’m kind of curious why you’re not.  You’re taking this pretty well.”

Billy shook his head slowly.  “I don’t know.  I guess I figure you didn’t have to tell me now, but you did.  I wouldn’t have known.  You never had to come back here, but you did and that must mean you care about the same people that I did…or do…”

“You and I…we don’t know each other that well,” Ronan began, “but I’ll answer any questions you have, alright? I’ll try to help you however I can, but I just need one thing from you. I know you want to get back to your life, but think about what I said.  You know how it feels to forget, but imagine being forgotten.”  He picked up the phone again, bringing the picture back onto the screen.  “She’s been through hell and she’s just now finally beginning to try and find her life again.  I can be there for her, for both of them…and I’m not saying you can’t.  I’m just saying that right now….”

“Right now you think it would hurt her more than it would help,” Billy said quietly.

“I don’t want to see her hurt anymore.  That’s all.  I swear to you that I’ll help you.  I’ll visit and I’ll answer questions and I’ll keep you updated.  I’ll bring pictures and anything you want.  I just know…”  He paused, trying to figure out the right words…the right way to make him understand.  “Phyllis misses you with everything in her.  You are all she talks about.  She wants you back and I’m not sure if she could handle a person that looks like you and sounds like you but isn’t really you.  Does that make any sense at all?”

“Yeah,” he whispered.  “Yeah, it does.” He was quiet for a moment before adding, “You’ll make sure they’re okay?”

“You have my word.”  Ronan held out his hand, shaking it as Billy took it.  “The hospital has my number.  You can call me anytime.”

“Thank you.”  Billy nodded, watching as Ronan stood and stepped towards the door.  “Ronan,” Billy called, “One more thing.”

Ronan stopped, turning back to look at him.

“Do you think maybe you could send that picture to Ashley—maybe let her print it out for me?  I’d like to have something…just something to look at so I could…I don’t know…”

Ronan nodded, quickly sending the picture to Ashley’s contact.  “Done,” he said with a smile.

Ashley waited until Ronan could no longer be seen before rushing into the room.  “What did he say?” she asked, her eyes wide with anticipation.

Billy pushed himself up in bed.  “Later…Later,” he said quickly, holding his hand up to stop the conversation.  “Right now, I need you tell me the quickest way to get a laptop set up in here.”

 

 

Love Lost pt 15

Ronan glanced down at his watch.  She’d been in there for a while.  He didn’t know much about babies, but he’d always heard they weren’t great sleepers.  Maybe she was having trouble getting Grace back to sleep.  He stepped quietly towards the door, pushing it open just slightly so that he could peer inside.

Phyllis sat in the rocking chair, she and Grace both sleeping.  Grace laid, with her head on Phyllis’ chest, a pink blanket covering her, her tiny hand resting on her mother’s face.  Ronan stood there for a moment, just watching them.  Just moments ago Phyllis had been near fury and now she looked completely content, holding her daughter.  Quietly he pulled his phone from his pocket and quickly snapped a photo.  This seemed like one of those moments you would want to remember and who knows, maybe he could give it to her as a way to apologize for being such an ass earlier.

He smiled as he took one last look at them before backing out of the room.

~

Phyllis walked slowly from the room.  “Ronan?” she called, fully expecting him to be long gone.  She’d been asleep for nearly two hours and they hadn’t exactly left things on the best terms.  Her eyes scanned the empty living area.  “Great,” she muttered, as she walked into the kitchen to turn out the lights.  She stopped, a folded piece of paper catching her eye.

Phyllis,

Saw that you had fallen asleep while putting Grace down—Didn’t want to wake you.  Sorry about everything tonight.  Hope I can make it up to you somehow. 

Love,

Ronan

He hadn’t done anything wrong and yet he was still apologizing.  The only thing he’d done was tell her the truth, a truth she didn’t want to hear, a truth she was trying to deny, but somehow being with Ronan was making things better.  Being with him made being without Billy more bearable and as wrong as that felt, something about it felt right too.

“Ugh,” she groaned, as she ran her fingers through her hair.  Tonight she just needed to sleep.

~

“Yeah?” Ronan pressed the phone to his ear.  It was early, but it really didn’t matter.  It wasn’t as if he’d been sleeping anyway.  His night had been filled with thoughts, thoughts of Phyllis, of Grace, of Billy.  He’d tossed and turned all night, his mind constantly spinning, wondering, and worrying.  One hour would bring certainty that he was doing the right thing—that Phyllis was better off with him—that he could make her happy, that he could be a good father figure to Grace, that he would love and protect them both…and he would.  That was true.  The next hour would bring certain disaster—what happened if she ever found out?  She’d feel betrayed and she’d hate him.  Grace would hate him.  They would believe he’d kept this from them because he wanted them for himself.  They’d never believe he did it to protect them.  The thoughts were making him crazy and, try as he might, he couldn’t get his brain to shut up.

“Detective Malloy?”

“Yeah?”  Ronan repeated, not yet recognizing the female voice.

“Hi, it’s Ashley..I’m not sure if you remember me.  I work at the hospital.  You were here the other day.  You visited the patient—the one that doesn’t remember anything about his life. Do you remember?”

Ronan swallowed hard.  “Yeah, Yeah, absolutely I remember.  Has something happened?”  His heart started to beat faster.

“That’s actually why I’m calling.  He wanted to know if you could come by later.  He’d like to talk to you about some things.”

“What kind of things?”

Ashley hesitated, not knowing exactly what she should say.  “I’m not really sure exactly.  He just…I think he feels like you kind of understood him and he just wants to talk about some things he’s feeling..maybe get some advice.”

Damn it. The last thing he needed was to be giving advice to the presumed dead lover of the woman he loved.  But what the hell….  “Okay, sure…I’ll  can uh…”  He glanced over at the clock on the microwave.  “I can be there in a few hours.”

“Great,” Ashley said cheerfully, “I’ll let him know.”

~

Ronan took another bite of his burger.  “Well, I mean…I wouldn’t say it’s nothing.  You’re definitely remembering something—it’s just not a whole lot to go on.”  He swallowed hard, finding it difficult to force the food down his throat.  The guilt seemed to well up inside him with each passing moment.  He’d been here for almost an hour now, listening to this man go on and on about how much he wanted to remember his life.  It would be so easy to tell him the truth.   He could fill in the blanks, tell him about the people that missed him, the people that mourned him, the life he’d left behind.

“I guess I was just thinking maybe there was something you could recommend…I mean I know it sounds crazy and all, but on those shows they have those sketch artists and all.  Maybe if I could remember more about the places or even about the people, you think you could recommend someone that could kind of help me come up with a visual?”

Ronan sighed.  “Yeah, I mean..we could try..it’s just.  I mean, right now all you’ve really got is a place…that’s not a whole lot to go on.”

“I know,” he sighed.  “It’s just so damn frustrating…I can’t remember anything and I want to…”

“Let me ask you something…say someone came in here and they told you that they knew who you were.  Say they told you that you had a family…say you had a wife and kids and a family…say you had all of that and they could tell you where they were and how to find them.”

“I’d be thrilled…I mean…”  He watched Ronan for a moment, realizing he was making a point…

“You don’t remember them.  Think about that.  You’ve been gone for what?  Months?  They think you’re gone…they’ve grieved…they’ve moved on.  You think it’s hard to not remember?  How do you think it would be to be forgotten?”  Ronan watched as the words resonated within him.

“I never really thought about it…I’ve been so busy trying to get my memory back.  I never really thought about what it would be like for the people…”  He looked up at Ronan.  “You think I should stop?  You think I should stop trying to remember?”

It might have been the look of utter desperation in his eyes.  It might have been the primal cry in Phyllis’ voice as she screamed at him the night before.  It might have been the sight of the sweet baby girl that might never know her father, but whatever the reason, Ronan found his hand reaching into his pocket, his fingertips quickly scrolling across the screen.  He held the screen out to him.  “Look at this,” he said, his voice low, as if somehow he was hoping he wouldn’t hear.

Ronan watched as his eyes studied the picture.

“Who are they?” he asked.

Ronan took a deep breath.  “That’s your life, Billy Abbott.”

 

Love Lost pt 14

She reached out, her hand trembling as she brushed her fingertips across the stubble that always adorned his face.  She’d expected this to be awkward, stilted, but it wasn’t.  Ronan had always been someone with whom she’d felt comfortable.  He’d always accepted her, been exhilarated by her and somehow there was a freedom in that.  The same kind of freedom she’d found with….

Her hand suddenly dropped from his face, the thought of Billy sobering the mood quickly.

“What?” Ronan said, his heart beating faster in his chest.  “What’s the matter?”

“It’s nothing.  I’m sorry.”  Her face flushed with embarrassment as she stood up and took a few steps away from him.  She walked across the room, filling her eyes burn.  Do not cry, she ordered herself as she felt the first tears begin to escape her tightly closed eyes.  She sensed his presence behind her, the warmth of his body signaling his proximity before he made any physical contact.  His hand rested on her shoulder lightly as she heard the low quake of his voice.

“Phyllis.”

Even his voice…the way he said her name.  It did—it reminded her…..  She stopped, turning around quickly, drawing in a quick breath as she fanned her eyes in an attempt to dry the tears.  “I’m sorry,” she repeated, “I’m being silly and you…you’re here and I’m glad.  I’m grateful that you’re here with me.”

Ronan laughed softly, a mix of confusion and relief.  “You know if something’s bothering you, you can tell me, right?”

She nodded.  “I know.  I was just thinking that I’ve said a lot of things and I do that you know….I talk…a lot.”

He smiled.  “I like that.”

“Well, sometimes you need to do more than talk.  Sometimes it’s not enough to just talk about things.  I keep saying that I need to move on, that Billy would want me to move on, that he’d want me to find someone that makes me happy, and now….”  She looked at him for a moment, her eyes searching his before speaking again…  “I just realized that if all I ever do is talk about it, I’m never actually going to do it, am I?”

“Phyllis, it’s understandable that you’d need time.  I mean no one expects you to wake up one morning and be ready to…”  He words left him as he felt her body crash into his, her lips pressed tight against his.  She wasted no time as her hands traveled to his shirt, her fingers already beginning their work down the buttons.

“Hey,” he managed, pulling back, escaping her kiss just long enough to speak the words, “Wait..Wait…”  His hands found hers and wrapped around them, meeting her sigh with one of his own as he stared up at the ceiling for a moment before speaking.  “This isn’t…”

Her eyes stared at him in a mix of shock and pain.  “You don’t want this? I thought…” She pulled away, turning away from him.

“Wait…Phyllis….Phyllis.”  How the hell was he supposed to explain this to her.  He had never been one to shy away from sex, but it was more than that now…much more.  His hand touched her arm as he gently pulled her back towards him, the pain he saw in her eyes breaking his heart.  “Don’t ever think I don’t want you,” he whispered.  “I do…God knows, I’d love nothing more than to be with you, but…”

“I don’t understand,” she whispered.

“I don’t think it’s really what you want.”

“So now you’re gonna tell me what I want?  You know, you show up here and tell me that you want to help me and I tell you that I want to move on…I tell you that I think Billy would want me to move on, but you’re going to try and tell me that you don’t think I want to move on?”

Ronan sighed, falling down into the chair in the corner.  “I know…I know.  It doesn’t make sense.  I just…I don’t think you’re really ready.  I can see it in your eyes when you talk about him.  He’s still here…in this house.  Hell, Phyllis, he’s in this room.”

“The hell he is!”  He ducked as he watched a glass fly across the room, shattering as it hit the brick of the fireplace.  “He’s not here!” she screamed, tears now pouring from her eyes.  “Don’t you think I wish he was here?  Don’t you think I’ve prayed over and over again that he was here, but he’s not and I just wanted to forget that for a minute, damn it!  I just wanted to forget this horrible, overwhelming emptiness that eats me up!”

He shook his head, tears welling up in his own eyes as he stepped towards her.  “I’m sorry,” he whispered.  “I’m so sorry.”  He pulled her close to him, closing his eyes as she fell onto his shoulder, her body shaking with sobs.  A cry sounded from the monitor and he felt her jerk.

“God,” she whispered, “I woke her.”  She looked up at him.  “I’m sorry.  I’ve got to go get her.”

“Of course,” he whispered, “You go take care of her.  I’m just gonna get this cleaned up.”

He watched as she quickly walked from the room.  Kneeling, he picked up the larger pieces of glass and placed them in the waste bin.  His mind flashed back to the meeting with Billy.  Phyllis missed him..so much.  She’d give anything to have the man she loved back, but even if she knew the truth…even if he told her exactly where Billy was, she wouldn’t find the man she loved in that bed.  Billy Abbott was, for all intents and purposes, dead.  The man he’d visited looked like him, sounded like him, but knew nothing of his life, of his loves, of his children.  Wouldn’t that be an entirely new loss?  He stood up, stepping into the kitchen to retrieve a dust pan.  Keeping this from Phyllis seemed wrong but, after seeing the pain she was in, telling her didn’t exactly feel right either.

~

“Well, Good morning.”  Ashley stepped into the room, surprised to see him already up and sitting in the chair.  “You’re up awful early, John.”

He smiled at her, bringing a warm cup of coffee to his lips. “Yeah, I guess I am.  Sleep isn’t really my thing.”

“Oh really?  I can ask the doctor to order something to help you relax if you’d like.”  She reached over to grab his chart.

“No.  No.  That’s alright.  It’s actually not really that…it’s just.  I’m having some really strange dreams…if you want to call them that.”

Ashley raised her eyebrows.  “Dreams?”  She sat down on the edge of the bed, looking at him curiously.  “What are they about?”

He shook his head.  “That’s just it—nothing really.  They’re not really like normal dreams.  It’s not like I’m doing anything…it’s more like I’m just there…in this space…”

“Do you think they could be some kind of memory?”

“I’m trying really hard not to think that,” he admitted.  “I don’t want to get my hopes up, but honestly…yeah, it kind of feels that way.”  He laughed as Ashley reached over for the notebook.

“Tell me everything you remember about the dream,” she said excitedly.

“Calm down, there’s not too much to tell…it’s a room, but not like a this..it’s older, nice..and dark..”

Ashley scribbled furiously.  “Okay…like a house maybe?”

“Maybe..but not like a normal house.  This is like one of those shows you watch on that channel with those British people…what’s it called?”

“Downton Abbey?” Ashley asked.

“Yeah, that’s the one…”

Ashley nodded.  “So like a really nice house.”

He nodded… “And there’s a smell, but I can’t place it…I don’t know what it is…it’s strong…like smoke or something and I can hear a sound….I think it’s rain…”  He watched as she continued to write.

“What else?” she asked excitedly.

“I think someone was with me,” he said quietly, “but everytime I almost see them or hear the voice, I wake up.”