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.
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.
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.
“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.”