Cold Truth pt 3

Billy,

I’ve started this letter so many times–almost as many times as I’ve picked up the phone and dialed your number or turned my car around before I got to your house. There’s so much I want to say to you–so many things you deserve to know. This is the only way I can do this and I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry I’m too much of a coward to say these things to your face. It’s not because I don’t care–it’s because I care too much.

All these months, the times we spent together, I couldn’t let myself be honest about what I was feeling. I was so guilty about lying to Jack, about hurting him the way I did, that I overlooked how much I was lying to myself, how much I was lying to you, how much pain I was causing us.

The truth is I’ve loved you from the beginning, before we ever ended up in bed together, maybe even before we kissed the night of the storm. You cared about my thoughts and my feelings when I didn’t think anyone else did. You kept me from falling apart. You saved me when I didn’t think I could be saved–when I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be.

You risked everything for me and because you loved me, because you wanted a life with me, you lost everything. Your brother turned his back on you. Victoria is furious with you–she’s making it difficult for you to see your kids. Your mother is taking over your company, your house, she’s trying to take over your life. You’re suffering so much and it’s all because of me.

I wish it could be different. I wish I could come to you and tell you the truth, tell you everything, but I can’t look in your eyes and say the words. When I look in your eyes I believe everything will be ok. When you tell me we can get through anything together, you can make me believe it too, but this isn’t just about us anymore. It’s about your family, my family, our family.

I’m pregnant, Billy. I’m going to have a baby, our baby and I wish more than anything, more than you know, that I could stay here and share this with you, but it can’t work…not here…not with us.

You deserve to know this. You deserve to know how I feel. You deserve to know you’re going to be a father. You deserve the chance to be a part of this baby’s life, but I have to protect our baby now. I can’t stay here now–not when this child will be seen as a living, breathing reminder of the lie we told. Our baby doesn’t deserve that. We don’t deserve that.

I’ll be in touch as soon as I’m settled. Please know that I’m not trying to cut you out. I’m doing this for you–so that you can have your life here, so that you can get your family back. You deserve that and I want to give that to you after all you gave me, after the way you loved me.

Love you now and forever,
Phyllis

Billy stood, staring down at the letter, the tears in his eyes blurred his vision. There was so much information to process. Slowly he walked into the kitchen, filling a kettle with water and placing it on the stove. He grabbed two mugs and dropped tea bags into them as he shuffled back into the living room, his mind still foggy, his head still full of thoughts and questions. His eyes fell on her. She was still, her eyes closed, her breathing slow and peaceful. One hand now crept from under the quilt. It rested on her stomach. Thoughts flooded his mind, but one priority suddenly became clear.

He knelt beside her, his hands cupping her face. “Phyllis,” he whispered. “Hey, look at me.” The warmth in her cheeks brought him some comfort. She was no longer shivering and the color had returned to her cheeks. He had to believe she was ok–that they were both ok.

Her eyes fluttered open. “Billy.” She was quiet for a few seconds, sensing the concern in his face. “What is it?”

The letter was still clenched in his hand and he lifted it up for her to see. He still couldn’t quite get his mouth to form the words, his mind still spinning.

“The letter…you found it…”

“We need to get you to the hospital,” Billy said quickly, standing suddenly, his body spurring his mind into action.

She grabbed his hand, pulling him back down, her eyes gentle and slightly embarrassed. “I’m fine, Billy. I promise.”

“But just to be sure…I mean with the…” His voice broke, the magnitude of the moment finally settling in, “with the baby…maybe we should…”

She smiled, the softness in his eyes bringing tears to hers. “The baby’s fine…I’m fine. You made sure…like always.”

He nodded.

“Can you just stay here…with me? For a while?” Phyllis looked at him, almost afraid of his answer. He’d just read the letter she’d written where she told him she was leaving him, that she was walking away and now she was asking him to stay with her.

She started to speak as he stood without saying a word, but stopped herself. What did she expect. She flinched as she felt his hand on her shoulder and she smiled at him as he handed her the cup of tea.

“Chamomile,” he said softly, as he took a seat beside her, placing his own mug beside him on the floor. He put his arm around her, pulling her close to him, his heart beating faster as he felt her head fall to his shoulder.

“About the letter,” she began.

Billy looked down at her, the glow from the fireplace reminding him of the first time been here–on a night a lot like this. “You know I’m not gonna let you go,” he whispered.

Phyllis sighed. “Billy, it’s not fair to you, to your family, to your kids, to our baby.” A tear fell down her cheek as she looked at him.

“What about you? What’s fair to you? Being pregnant and alone in a new place? What if you need help? What if something happens?”

“I’ll call you–I told you that. I promised I’d keep in touch.”

“If we were together, you wouldn’t need to call me. I’d already be there.

“I could never ask you leave your kids, your family…”

“So don’t,” he said, staring into her eyes. “Stay here…with me.”

Cold Truth pt 2

“Phyllis!” He took her hands in his, blowing his warm breath on them, silently praying she’d open her eyes at any moment, flash him a mischievous smile, and tease him for being so gullible. “Phyllis, come on…please…talk to me.”

Desperation began to settle in soul as he realized he had so few options. He needed to get her inside–get her warm…

He reached around her, grabbing her, lifting her in his arm, staring down at her face. His breath caught in his throats as he saw her eyes blinking slowly back at him.

“Billy…” Her voice was slurred and slow. “What are you…where am I?” She shivered, her face confused. “I’m shaking…I don’t know…”

“That’s good,” he whispered, pulling her closer to him, pressing her to his chest as he struggled to open the door. “Shivering is good. You just keep talking to me, ok? We’re gonna get you inside…get you warmed up.”

Who knew his time at boarding school would ever prove useful? Before ski trips, they’d often discussed the dangers of hypothermia, about the symptoms, about the stages, the treatments, about how serious it was….how it could….

No…he couldn’t even entertain the thought. She couldn’t leave him. In some ways, she’d left him already, but there was something about knowing she was still here–still in this town that gave him comfort.

He shook his head, banishing the thought, refusing to believe–even for a second that she might leave him.

Billy gently placed her on the floor, in front of the couch, grabbing the blanket from the chair and the couch and rushing over the hall closet for the quilt and pillows. He spotted his discarded shirt laying on the back of the chair–another perk of bachelor life. He grabbed it. Her dress was soaked through.

“You still with me?” He called out her, gathering everything in his arms and pausing to turn on the gas logs before kneeling beside her again. His heart pounded when he didn’t get a response. “Phyllis! Come on….you gotta talk to me.”

“Mmmm I…ummm..

“I need you to try to talk to me.. ok, beautiful? You’ve never been the strong, silent type. What were you doing here tonight, huh? You come here to tell me something? You want to talk to me? Talk to me now, ok?”

He removed her jacket, laying it beside the fireplace and reached behind her, his fingertips finding the zipper of her dress.

Her head shifted slightly. “What are you…”

“We gotta get these wet clothes off you. I’m gonna get you warmed up.” He pulled the dress up and over her head, wrapping the shirt around her quickly and buttoning it. “God, you’re like ice,” he whispered, bounding the blankets and sheets around her face and neck as he covered her body and bare legs with the quilt. He moved her closer to the fireplace, wrapping his arms tight around her.

“What were you doing here, Phyllis, huh?”

“I wasn’t gonna stay,” she whispered, her eyes still droopy.

“I know…you were by your car and you locked your keys in, right?” He stroked her hair as she nodded slowly.

“Couldn’t leave,” she said quietly.

“I’m glad. I’m glad you stayed. I just wish it wasn’t like this. You gotta be careful. You can’t scare me like this…I’m getting old.” He smiled as he saw her lips twitch slightly.

She was more focused, and a little more alert.

“So, you said you were leaving but you still haven’t told me why you came…why you were here?”

A yawn escaped her mouth and she snuggled up against him, her voice more clear when she spoke now. “I can’t tell til I leave..you’re supposed to find out then.”

It sounded lucid yet the words made no sense. Billy looked down at her. There was Color returning to her cheeks, her pulse was no longer racing, her shivering had almost stopped and there was a marked difference in her body temperature. These were all signs that she was improving yet she seemed thoroughly confused.

“I don’t understand, Phyllis. How can I find out after you leave. If you’re not here to tell me…,does someone else tell me?”

“You didn’t see it…” Her voice rose at the end of her sentence as if her mind wasn’t sure if she was asking the question or making the statement.

Billy watched as her head dropped to his shoulder, exhaustion finally winning out. She was no longer shivering and her body felt normal to type. He’d check on her of course, but what she needed at this moment was sleep,

He gently placed a pillow under her head, standing still and watching her for a moment before walking away. He was looking for something–if only he knew what.

His eyes fell upon the black trash bags that sat everywhere and he lucked them up, throwing them into an unclaimed corner of the foyer. He glanced down as he lifted a bag, his name catching his eye.

The envelope was light, but he somehow knew how heavy the burden would be. He opened the envelope and began to read.

Cold Truth Pt 1

Author’s Note: This fic is loosely based on the lyrics below from Thompson Square’s, Glass (Thanks to Erin for the suggestion). This will be a three parter, I think.

We may shine, we may shatter,
We may be picking up the pieces here on after,
We are fragile, we are human,
We are shaped by the light we let through us,
We break fast, cause we are glass.
‘Cause we are glass.
I’ll let you look inside me, through the stains and through the cracks,
And in the darkness of this moment,
You see the good and bad.
But try not to judge me, ’cause we’ve walked down different paths,
But it brought us here together, so I won’t take that back.

She jerked down the visor, the automatic light confirming her fears–bloodshot, red, and swollen eyes, red, shiny nose, and a tear-stained face–all the markings of someone truly pathetic.

“You’ve got to pull yourself together, Phyllis.” She stared at her face in the mirror. The eyes that stared back at her seemed unconvinced. They were the same eyes that had stared at her in the rear view mirror on the drive over–the same eyes that had scoped out his driveway and pulled in when she realized his car wasn’t home. These were the eyes that had stared at the road for the past hour–wondering where he was, what he was doing, and who he was doing it with. These eyes had stared down onto blank paper and watched as she poured her heart out onto it. All her innermost thoughts written down in a letter.

Phyllis stared down at the envelope that sat in the passenger seat. Billy’s name was scrawled on the outside of the envelope. She looked back into the mirror. “What are you doing to yourself?”

Lying.

That’s what she was doing. She was lying and stalling. That letter was the most honest thing she’d ever written. She’d had to write it for fear she’d never be able to say it–not while looking into his eyes. The fear she’d buried from so many years ago rose up inside her as she thought of him walking away. She’d pushed him away so many times. Everyone has a breaking point–maybe Billy had reached his.

There were things he needed to understand, things she wanted to say, things he deserved to hear, things he had to know–so many things…. She couldn’t leave it like this.

Phyllis drew in a deep breath and grabbed the letter opening the car door. The cold air hit her like a slap in the face and she instantly regretted packing her coat in her luggage. Thankfully, she was just leaving the letter. She closed the car door and rushed to the the front door, easily pushing the letter under the door and into the foyer. She stood still for a moment, allowing her breath to slowly leave her body, the white smoke trailing in front of her face.

He would get the letter. He’d read it and he’d call her, but by then, the decision would have been made. She’d be in another town and he could still have his life here–he could still have his company, his family, his friends. They could figure something out, but not here–not together. He needed her gone, even if he wouldn’t admit it. Even if it was possible he didn’t even know it.

She was satisfied she had done the right thing, the prudent thing. Her footsteps made crunching noises as they crushed the mixture of snow and ice that covered the ground. She made a mental note to make quick work of her errands. There would surely be some flight delays before long. Her hand reached for the door, pulling at the handle.

“Not possible.” The white puffs seemed to mock her as they drifted in front of her face and she swatted them away as if they were annoying insects. She peered into the car window, her eyes falling on the keys, firmly planted in the cup holder right beside her phone. She groaned. “You have got to be kidding me!”

Wrapping her arms around herself tightly, she walked out towards the road. It was getting late and traffic was basically at a stand still. The nearest neighbors were over a mile up the road and she wasn’t even sure they were here year round.

She sighed. The wind whipped up again, the bitter cold cutting through the thin jacket. “You’ve really done it this time, Phyllis,” she muttered as she stomped back towards the front door. She stepped under the small shelter, sitting on the welcome mat and placing her back against the door. She drew her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms tight around her. At least she could block some of the wind this way. And anyway….Billy would be home soon. Any minute now…she was sure of it….

~

Billy gripped the wheel tight, his knuckles almost white. This had been a stressful night for a drive. Clearing his head had become an increasingly difficult task lately and the only thing that seemed to work was driving. He’d get in the car, turn up the music, and drive for hours. She wasn’t in the car with him. There were no memories there–just everywhere else. She was in his house, in his bed, at the park, on his bike, at the club, at the office…..she was everywhere.

He sighed, slowing as he neared his turn. His low beams focused on a car that seemed to be close to…no–it was in his driveway. His eyes widened as the car became more clear. It was her car. She was here, but why….

His foot smashed on to the brake, the car jerking to a sudden stop, his body lurching forward then back. He slammed the gear stick into park, not even bothering to turn the car off. He was out of the car in seconds, his legs moving almost independent from his body. He slid across the slick driveway, his hands touching her face.

Fear gripped his heart and a cold chill ran through him. She was silent, still, and so cold. ┬áNothing made sense. What was she doing here? Why was she outside in nothing but a jacket? Why wasn’t she moving, talking, screaming at him to leave her alone. So many times she’d told him to go away. So many times he’d begged her not to say those words, but at this moments, he’d gladly hear them. He’d gladly hear anything.

TBC