Lady In Red

Billy closed the door with a sigh.  There was no sign of her in the living room, which probably meant she was upstairs…packing.  He ran his hands over his face as he glanced towards the stairs.

“Billy?” Her voice rang out through the empty house.  “Is that you?”

He smiled, half-heartedly, hating what he was about to do.  Slowly, he trudged up the steps.  The smile spread across his face when she met him in the doorway, her hands pressed to his chest.  Her lips lightly pressed against hers before she quickly turned away, reaching back towards the bed and picking up two swimsuits.

“Which one?” she grinned?

He groaned, flopping down on the bed and pulling her down onto his lap.

“What?” Her voice was soft as her hand softly caressed his face.

“The trip,” he whispered.  “We can’t go…I’m really sorry.”

“Oh.  Why? What happened?”

He could see the disappointment in her eyes and he hated knowing he was the one that caused it.  All he wanted, all he’d ever wanted was to make her happy.  “This stupid thing with work…This big campaign to break into the Canadian market..”  He paused, looking into her eyes.  “If there was anyone else I could send, I swear, I would.  I was really looking forward to this little getaway with you.”

Phyllis smiled sadly at him.  “Hey, you know what, it’s okay.  We’ll go away later—when you get back.  It’ll just be our six month and then some anniversary, right?  Tonight, we can just go have a nice dinner or something.”  She studied his face as his eyes closed again.

“What?”

“Actually.  I’m gonna have to take a rain check on dinner, too.  My flight leaves in an hour and a half.  I’ve got to grab a bag and head to the airport.”

She nodded.  “Alright,” she sighed.  “That’s alright.  We can celebrate when you get back.  It’s not a big deal.”

“No, see it is a big deal.”  His fingertips ran through her hair quickly before he rested his palm against the side of her face.  She felt his chest rise and fall as he took a deep breath and pulled her tight against him.  “I don’t want you to think I don’t think it’s a big deal, because it is…this is a very big deal to me.  It took us a long time to get to a place where we could celebrate our relationship and now…we’re here.  We’re together.  We’re getting married.  I just…I want you to know that it’s not a small thing for me to miss this.”

Phyllis felt her throat tighten as she heard the words.  Her head rested against his chest as she took a slow, deep breath of her own.  She’d never been the overly emotional type.  She was never the one to cry at the drop of the hat, but Billy somehow always knew exactly what to say to get to her heart.  “It’s not about the dates,” she said softly, raising her head to look at him, “it’s about the memories.  We’ll make it even more special when you get back, okay?”

He nodded, leaning in and kissing her quickly before standing up off the bed.  “I better get some things together.”

She smiled.  “It’s just three days,” she said quietly.  “Three days and you’ll be back here with me…where you belong.”

“You want me to put your suitcase back up on the top shelf?” Billy called out just before she left the room.

“No,” she smiled to herself, her mind already spinning, “I’ll take care of it later.”

~

Billy swiped the key card through the reader, pushing the door open.  He sighed heavily as his eyes roamed the empty hotel room.  This wasn’t at all the way he wanted to spend his six month anniversary with Phyllis.  He’d envisioned a much different type of celebration.  Instead he was here—in a very nice hotel with a bunch of stuffed shirts and an expense account.  He missed her and, even though there was plenty to do in Toronto, the only thing he really wanted to do was lie on the couch and think about her.

He glanced at his watch.  It wasn’t that late and the time zones weren’t so different.  Maybe she’d still be up.  A sly smile played upon his face as he pondered talking with her all night.  Walking over the desk, he reached for the phone, stopping only when he saw the note bearing his name.  He opened it and began to read

Billy,

I want you to know that even though you aren’t here with me, I’m always thinking of you.  We’ll celebrate when you get back.  Until then, don’t sit in that hotel room alone and mope.  I’ve booked you a table at the restaurant downstairs.  Dinner and drinks are already paid for. 

Love always,

Phyllis

A soft laugh escaped his lips as he placed the note back down on the table.  It was frightening how well she knew him.  He grabbed his suit coat and slid it on over his shirt before heading out the door again.

~

“And you’re sure he got the note?” Phyllis asked again, her eyes scanning the crowded room.

“I left it in his room—right by the phone.  I felt sure he’d probably come in and try to call you….unless…ugh..what if he used his cell and didn’t go anywhere near the phone.”  Ben covered his face with his hand.  “I’m really sorry.  I hope I haven’t messed this whole thing up.”

Phyllis shook her head.  “I’m sure he’ll see it,” she sighed, trying not to worry.  “You said your conference just ended a little bit ago though, right—so it makes sense that he’s just now getting back to his room and he might wait a bit before coming down.”  She paused, watching as a smile spread across Ben’s face.  “What?” she asked.

“Don’t uh…Don’t take this the wrong way, Phyllis, but I can’t imagine anyone keeping you waiting.”  He smiled at her.  “There’s my team,” he said with a grin, gesturing over to a large group of men in suits, “I better get over there before the rumor mill starts.”

She nodded.  “Thanks again for your help.”

Ben nodded and walked away.

~

Phyllis walked down to the end of the bar, adjusting her dress as she perched on the bar stool.  Dresses like this weren’t made for sitting, she thought to herself.  Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted him.  He’d obviously come straight from his room—not even bothering to change from the clothes he’d worn to the conference.  He looked tired and almost sad.  She smiled to herself.  She’d fix that.

He took a seat, a few stools down, not even glancing in her direction.  The bartender approached and she heard him give him his name.  The bartender nodded, reaching back and pulling a bottle of the top shelf scotch she’d requested.  She saw the smile on his face as he took a drink.

“You’ve got yourself a keeper there,” the bartender said quietly.  “Any woman that can pick a scotch like that…”

Billy just smiled.

This was serious she thought—the funk had set in long enough.  She untangled her limbs from the bar stool, sashaying across the length between them and slowly slinking up behind him.  Her hands crept around his shoulders, one hand covering each of his eyes.  He flinched, momentarily confused.

“Wait..What?”

“Sorry to disturb you,” she whispered, her breath warm as she leaned closer to his ear, “but it’s a real shame to see a man as handsome as you sitting here alone.”

She felt the tension leave his body almost immediately and she smiled as she watched a grin slowly slide across his lips.

“Phyllis,” he whispered, turning towards her.

Her fingertips covered his lips.  “I’m sorry,” she smirked, “You must have me confused with someone else.”

Billy paused for a moment, watching the mischievous glint in her eyes. Realization slowly hit him.  “Oh,” she sighed, reaching out to softly touch her hair.  “Who are you then?”

“Whoever you want me to be,” she said quietly, “But I do need to ask one thing…, that guy over there,” She gestured towards Ben who sat at the head the table of men. “He told me you left a fiancé at home.  Is that true?”

He cleared his throat.  “It is true and, uh…no offense, but if she were here right now,” He leaned in closer to her, “She’d kick your ass.”

Phyllis smiled, leaning in closer still, her lips now softly brushing his.  “I guess it’s a good thing she’s not here then, isn’t it?”  She smiled, her hands rubbing against his chest as she tilted her head.  “I love this song,” she whispered, “Dance with me.”

Billy hesitated.  “We shouldn’t.”

“Come on…I want to dance.”  She took his hand in hers, pulling him to stand.

“Seriously,” he laughed, “I told everyone my fiancé was at home and there’s a whole group from the conference right over there.  How’s it going to look if I’m out on the dance floor with some..” He stopped, taking a moment, to allow his hands to travel the length of her body, “incredibly sexy woman.”

“Awww…you think I’m sexy?” She smiled, leaning in and kissing him again, pulling him a little harder and finally bringing him to his feet.

He couldn’t help but smile as he felt her body pressed against his.

“It’s easy, see,” she said softly, “You just put your hands here, and move like this.” She swayed slowly to the beat of the music, stretching up just enough to allow her lips to meet his.

As she pulled away, she saw the smile on his face.  “What’s that for?”

“You keep doing stuff like that,” he said, swallowing hard, “makes me want to do an entirely different dance.”

“Maybe we should get dinner to go,” she suggested, giggling as Billy grabbed her hand and made a mad dash back towards the bar.

~

“So…I guess if those numbers check out then…” He looked up, turning his head towards what every other man seemed to be staring out.  “Guys,” he said.  “Guys!”

“Yeah,” a few answered in stunned unison.

“What’s the problem?”

“It’s just that guy…that Abbott guy.  We thought he had a fiancé at home and he uh…Well, he seems pretty damn cozy with that hot little number over there.” He pointed towards Phyllis who stood beside him, her arms wrapped tightly around his waist.

Ben smiled.  “That is his fiancé and uh…I’m pretty sure Billy won’t be joining the meeting tonight.”

“Think that’s a pretty safe bet,” Billy said as he passed by, his arms still wrapped around Phyllis, “And you might want to bump that meeting a few hours in the morning.  I’m anticipating a late checkout.”

 

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