“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.”
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.
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.”