Mine pt 3

Victoria hurried to the door, glancing back up towards the stairs mindful of Johnny and Katie sleeping upstairs.  “Just a second,” she hissed, her hair still damp from the shower.  She glanced out of the side window, sighing as she saw Billy standing there anxiously shifting from foot to foot.

“Billy,” she breathed, opening the door and blocking his entrance with her slight frame.  “Look, it’s late and I’m really not up for any more confessions tonight.”

He shook his head. “Neither am I.  I’m actually looking for Phyllis.  I thought maybe she might have come over to talk to you.”  He hesitated, “but I’m guessing she’s not here.”

“Phyllis? No I haven’t seen her. Why would she come here anyway?”

“I told her that I’d talked to you tonight about the wedding and then she suddenly had things to take care of.  I thought maybe she was going to come over here and try to get you to change your mind, but I guess not.  She should have been back by now and I’m probably just being paranoid.”  He stopped talking for a moment, realizing Victoria wouldn’t be the least bit sympathetic to his plight.

“Anyway,” he sighed, “Guess I’ll check the house.  She was going to take some measurements for window treatments.  Maybe that’s where she is.” He turned but stopped when he felt her hand on his arm.

“Th..The house?” She forced the words from her lips, trying not to look as terrified as she felt.  “She wouldn’t be there this late would she?” Her heart pounded inside her chest, so loud she was afraid he could surely hear it.

Billy smiled slightly.  “We’ve had some guys working on the front porch and doing some landscaping and she doesn’t like being there when they’re all there.  Apparently one of them keeps asking her to lunch.  I don’t know.  Anyway, she likes to go after hours so she can get a few things done without all the noise and interruptions.”

“Did you try calling her?” She couldn’t have been there.  There was no way.  She would have seen a light or something, wouldn’t she?  Did she even look?  Did she even bother to check?

“I didn’t get an answer.  That’s why I came over here.  I thought maybe you two were…”

Victoria shook her head quickly.  “Well you should try her again,” she snapped, pointing to the phone that was in always in his pocket.  “Try her again!”

Billy narrowed his eyes.  “Why are you so worried about…”  His hand reached for his phone, holding it just as it started to ring.  “Ah,” he said with a smile, looking down at the screen as he saw her number.  He placed the phone to his ear.  “I was starting to get worried,” he said softly, turning his back towards Victoria.

She watched as his shoulders tensed.  “What?  Yes.  Yes.  Oh my God.  Is she alright?  Of course.  Of course I can.  Yes.  Yes.  I’m on my way.  Please tell her I’m on my way.”

He whirled around.  “I have to go,” he said quickly.

“Billy, what happened?”  She had to ask—had to hear the words even if she already knew.

“There was a fire at the house,” he said quickly, “Phyllis is being rushed to the hospital.  I have to go.”

She watched him as he threw himself into the car and careened down the dark street.  Her stomach lurched as she forced a breath into her body, and sank down onto the cushion of the couch, the smell of gasoline still strong on the jacket that lay across the sofa’s back.  “My God,” she whispered, “What have I done?”

~

“Hey Billy,” Stitch nodded, scribbling a note on a clipboard before handing it back to a nurse and walking over beside him.

“Stitch,” Billy sighed in relief, “Where is she?  Where’s Phyllis?  Have you seen here?  Is she alright?”

“Hold on. One question at a time—they’ve got in the exam room right now.  She’s not conscious,  but that’s very common with smoke inhalation.  The fire was reported very quickly by the neighbors so the hope is she wasn’t inside long enough to sustain any serious damage to her lungs or any serious burns.”

“When can I see her?”

“They just need to finish up the exam,” Stitch said softly.  “Give them a few minutes and I’ll let you know the minute you can go in.”

Billy nodded gratefully.  “Thanks.”

“No problem.  There’s some cops over there that need to speak with you information if you’re up for it.”

“Sure.”

Stitch motioned the cops over and Billy took a seat in the small waiting room chairs.

“I don’t know how much help I can really be,” he said quietly, “I wasn’t there when anything happened.  I don’t know anything about the circumstances, really.”

He watched as the cops looked at one another.  “What?”

“Mr. Abbott, We aren’t here to ask you questions about the fire.  We’re here to get information to help with the case.  We’ve already got a pretty good idea of the circumstances that led to the fire at your house tonight.”

“Really?”  Billy sat up straighter, his eyes widening.  “Was it faulty wiring because we had the inspection and…”

“No.  No sir, nothing like that.  I’m afraid there are all the indicators that this fire was intentionally set.”

There was silence for a moment as the information set in.  “Wait a minute.”  Billy blinked a few times, his mind reeling.  “You’re telling me somebody intentionally set my house on fire.  Someone wanted my house to burn down?  Someone wanted to kill my fiancé?  Who would do something like that?”

“That’s what we were hoping you could tell us.”

His breath caught in his throat.  “I…I have no idea, but whatever you need….if it’s money or resources or experts—you let me know.  Money is no object.  I want this person found.  I want them caught and I want them punished as harshly as possible and I want it done fast.  Just tell me what to do.”

The officer nodded.  “Really sir, the only thing we need you to do right now is to think of anyone who might want to do hurt you or your fiancé.  Think of anyone who had a reason to want to see the two of you unhappy.  Think of people that may feel wronged by something you’ve done.  It could be a jealous ex or a disgruntled co-worker.  Just think about it and if you come up with anything—even something that seems like nothing…”  He handed Billy a business card, “just call me.”

Billy took the card, slowly turning it over in his hand.  “I will,” he said slowly, “I’ll do that.”

He watched as they slowly walked out the revolving door.

“Billy?”

He stilled, turning towards the familiar soft voice.

“What are you doing here?”

She took a shaky breath.  “I just wanted to see what was going on.  Is Phyllis alright?”

“They don’t know anything yet.  They’re still examining her.”  He stared at her, his mind spinning with possibilities.  “You know, Vic.  I can appreciate the fact that you’re trying here, but you really shouldn’t be here.  It’s clear the way you feel about Phyllis and I really can’t handle you pretending to be all broken up…”

“Billy.”  Her hand brushed his arm.  “I never wanted anything like this to happen.  I didn’t.  I mean just because I don’t like her doesn’t mean I ever wished anything like this would happen.”

“Right,” he huffed sarcastically, “You just never wanted me to be with her.  You just never wanted us to be happy.  It killed you that we were getting married, that we might be living a life, having a family, moving into that house…”  The words floated through the air for a moment.  His eyes flashed with the idea, as if hearing the words out loud suddenly made the concept a living, breathing possibility.

He looked at her, his eyes staring into hers.  The shining orbs that stared back him were already full of guilt and fear and he knew.

“Vic?”

She heard it in his voice.  It was a mix of disbelief, disgust, anger, shame, and disappointment.  “I never meant for this to happen,” she said softly.  “I swear, Billy.  I never meant.”

“I don’t.”  He ran his hands over his face, swallowing hard to quell the overwhelming urge to scream.  “I don’t even know what to say to you right now.  Phyllis could…”

“No.  No. No. No….” She stammered, desperate to make him understand.  “Listen, please listen.  I need you to hear this.  If you don’t hear anything else.  If you don’t’ believe anything else, please believe this.  I had no idea she was in that house.  I had no idea she was inside.  I swear it, Billy.  I would never ever do that.”

“Because that’s your limit?  You’ll burn down dreams but not people?”

“Billy?”

Billy turned around to see Stitch standing in front of him.

“Stitch?”  His heart pounded, the sick feeling in his stomach now becoming worse.  “Is she?  She’s not…”

He smiled.  “You can see her now,” he said softly.  “She’s awake.  She’s asking for you.”

All the air seemed to leave his body in a giant sigh.  “Thank God,” he smiled.  “Oh, Thank God.”

“That’s wonderful.”  Victoria said, closing her eyes in gratitude.

Billy whirled around, his eyes flashing in rage as he looked at her.  “Get out of here,” he snarled.  “I don’t want to talk to you.  I don’t want to hear you.  I don’t want to look at you.”

“Billy, I swear…I’m so sorry.  I’ll make this right somehow.  I promise.  I will.”

“Oh you will.  You will make this right.  You will pay for this.  I promise you that.  Right now though, you aren’t my concern.  Phyllis is.  I’m going to see her and make sure she’s alright and I’ll deal with you later.”

~

Billy pushed open the door, tears immediately filling his eyes when he saw her.  “Hi,” he whispered, rushing over to the bedside and taking her hand in his.  His lips quickly found  her forehead, brushing against the cool skin.  “It’s so good to see you.”

“You too,” she sighed.  She took a breath, coughing a bit and sighing as he quickly produced water for her.  “You always take such good care of me,” she smiled.

“I always will.  That’s a promise.”

She snuggled closer to him.  “I almost hate to ask,” she said hesitantly, her eyes searching his, “the house?”

He shook his head, running his fingers through her hair when he saw her face fall.  “Hey, it’s just a house.”

“You loved that house,” she said quietly.

Billy leaned in closer to her, his fingertips slowly tracing her jawline.  He stopped just below her chin, raising her face up to look into her eyes.  “That house was nothing but bricks and wood and nails without you and my kids in it.  We can find another house.  We can find ten other houses.  We can live in a cardboard box on the street….as long as I have you and my kids, it’ll be a castle.”

~

6 Weeks Later

“Here you go, Mrs. Abbott.”  Billy handed Phyllis another cup of coffee, smiling at the rings that shimmered on her finger as the sun played upon them.

“Thank you, Mr. Abbott,” she grinned.  She leaned in, kissing him quickly as she glanced over at the small table in the corner.  “You two good over there?”

“Yep,” Johnny replied.  Katie nodded happily as she bit down on another jelly smeared piece of toast.

Johnny rushed over to her.  “Are we gonna go on another boat today?” he asked cheerfully.

Phyllis grinned, looking over at Billy.

“That wasn’t a boat, that was a gondola,” Billy said with a smile.  “Did you like that?”

“Uh huh—It was fun.  I want to do it again.”

“I think we can probably fit that in.  I mean we do have five more days here,” she sighed.

Johnny rushed back over to the breakfast table to share the good news with Katie.

Phyllis leaned in towards Billy who wrapped his arms around her.  She looked up at him with a smile.  “What’s the matter?” she asked, noting a small touch of concern in his eyes.

“I just wonder if she got off too easy,” Billy said quietly.  “I mean you could have been really hurt and…”

“But I wasn’t,” Phyllis said softly, “And you and I both know we would have spent months upon months in court and she probably wouldn’t have served any time anyway.  Newmans can  buy their way out of anything.  At least this way, we don’t waste any of our time being bitter and vindictive.  Besides Victoria may not be serving a jail sentence but I still think 30 days of observation in Fairview will give her some much needed quiet time.”

Why do I feel like there’s a part of you that just enjoys knowing she’s spending time in Fairview?” he smirked.

“Maybe just a little,” she whispered.  “Is that so wrong?”

Billy grinned, pulling her closer to him and sneaking another kiss.  He pulled her hand up, staring at the ring on her finger.  “No.  I don’t guess so.  I guess this way everyone got what they wanted.  I know I certainly got what I wanted,” he whispered.

“So did I,” she smiled.

The End

 

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Mine pt 2

Phyllis tossed the magazine to the side of the bed quickly closing the distance between them as she rushed into his arms.  “Hey,” she breathed, feeling his chest rise and fall with a deep sigh.  She pulled back a bit, looking up into his eyes.  “I was beginning to get a little worried. I’m guessing by the sound of that sigh things didn’t go very well.”

Billy shook his head, taking off his jacket and tossing it over the back of the chair before slumping down on to the edge of the bed and loosening his tie.  He pulled her onto his lap, kissing the top of her head gently as she allowed it to fall against his shoulder.  “You could say that.”

Her lips brushed softly against the side of his face.  “Tell me,” she whispered.

“Ugh,” he groaned, closing his eyes and leaning back to lay flat on the bed, pulling her beside him and wrapping his arm around her waist.  He turned to face her.  “You were right,” he said softly.  “It was exactly how you said it would be.”

“Being right isn’t nearly as much fun when it makes you this miserable.”  Her fingers ran lightly against his face as she looked deep into his eyes.  “I really wish I’d been wrong this time.”

“Well you weren’t.  She was angry or hurt or something…I’m not even sure if she knows what she is, but she definitely was not wishing us well.”

Phyllis narrowed her eyes at him.  “You didn’t actually think she was going to wish us well?”

“Well no, but I thought maybe I’d get civility.”

She huffed.  “Optimism reigns, huh?”

He sighed again, smiling as he pulled her a bit closer.  “Well, I’ve seen firsthand that what seems impossible can happen—look at us.”  He brushed his lips against hers, relishing in their happiness even if only for a moment.

“I take it she didn’t go for the idea about the kids?”

“No.  In fact she adamantly refused and I’m still not finished with that.  I don’t think she can do that…you know, legally—I don’t think she has the right to refuse to allow me to take my children.  I’m not doing it without her permission.  She has full knowledge of where they’ll be.  We have joint custody for God’s sakes.”

“Billy.” Phyllis hesitated, sensing his frustration already growing.  The last thing she wanted was to cause problems for him and his children.  “Maybe we should just..”

“No,”  His hand grabbed hers and his eyes grew serious, “Don’t even think about it.  She does not get to do this to us.  She’s not going to get her way…not this time.  Her whole life…her whole damn family has lived in a world that they think they control everything.  They just think they can snap their fingers and the rest of society will bend to their every whim.  Well, it’s not going to happen this time.  I’m going to call a lawyer and find out what I need to do to make this happen.”

“You really think that’s the best way to handle this?  I mean we could have a ceremony here with the kids and we could still go away and have our honeymoon.  It’s not that big of a deal.  I don’t want to cause any kind of…”

“You’re not.”  He cupped her face in his hands as he softened his voice.  “That’s just it…you’re not the one that’s causing the friction—Victoria is—and the sooner she realizes that, the better off we’ll all be.”  He sighed again, noting the worried expression on her face.  “Listen.  I don’t want you to be worrying about this.  Everything is going to work out. I promise.”

She nodded.  “Well…considering the wedding announcement went so well, I’m assuming you decided to hold off on telling her about the house.”

A puff of air escaped his lips and he saw her eyes widen.  “I was going to, but she insisted on knowing what else I was going to tell her.”

“I’m sure she loved that.”

“Actually, that’s the really strange part,” Billy said quietly.  “After the way she reacted to the wedding, I was expecting some serious fall out too, but she really didn’t react at all.”

“Maybe she didn’t remember the house?” Phyllis suggested, shrugging a bit.

“No, she remembered it.  As soon as I showed her the photos, she said it was the house that we looked at before Katie was born.  She knew exactly what it was—even asked if it was back on the market.”

“That’s weird,” Phyllis said slowly, lacing her fingers through his as she lay beside him, “And then she just dropped it when you told her we bought it.”

“Yeah,” he breathed.  “She kind of did.  It was like she didn’t care…like the house didn’t matter to her anymore and maybe it doesn’t.  Maybe now that she knows it’s not going to be ours, she really doesn’t care.  Who knows, maybe once she has some time to think about the wedding, she’ll feel the same way about that and she’ll get over the anger there too.  Maybe I won’t have to do any of the legal stuff and she’ll come to the realization all on her own.”

Phyllis propped herself up on her elbow, her hair tickling his face as she loomed over him.  “You’re cute when you’re delusional,” she giggled, as she pushed herself up to sit.

Billy stared at her slack jawed, “What are you doing?” he whined.

“I’ve got things to do, sir,” she smiled.  “I don’t time to lay around and cavort with you.”

“Awww…come on, you can make time, can’t you?”  He moved forward on the bed, toying with the hem of her shirt.

She giggled again, pulling away.  “Nope,” she teased, “I’ve got a couple things I want to do tonight, but I’ll make you a deal.  You stay here and order us some dinner and I’ll make these errands as quick as I can so I can get back here to you, okay?”

Billy nodded as he watched her quickly dash out the door.

 

~

She turned the lights off just before pulling into the long winding driveway.  Though she was fairly certain they weren’t living there yet, she certainly didn’t want to take any chances.  There would be no easy answers to explain why she’d decided to drive here tonight.  In truth she had no answers at all, easy or otherwise.  Luckily for her, college students typically didn’t care why you needed a sitter as long as they got paid.

All she knew was she needed to see it.  She needed to look at the possibility of the life she could have had and know that it was all over.  It didn’t seem that long ago that she’d sat in this very same driveway with Billy and talked about that porch where their children would play.  And now….he was probably making all sorts of plans with Phyllis.  Soon they’d be moving in, making the house their own, making their own memories.  It was supposed to be her house, her family, her dream.

Victoria felt the tear slide down her face.  “It was supposed to be mine,” she whispered.  The idea of him being here with her made her sick.  What’s worse is they’d be here now with her children, masquerading as this wholesome depiction of what a family should be.  It was wrong.  It was a lie.  It wasn’t fair.  She had to protect her children.  She had to hold onto her dignity, her self respect, the last shreds of pride she had left.

With trembling hands, she reached down into the floorboard, her hand quickly finding the handle of the gas jug.  It had seemed serendipitous almost—how her eyes fell on the jug as she walked to her car.  She’d forgotten about it being there.  Ironically, it had been Billy that had purchased it, keeping it around for the landscapers to use to fuel their equipment.  Now it would be used to fuel something entirely different.

She climbed out of the car, walking around the side of the house, through the small gap in the trees where she’d imagined Johnny would play.  Her eyes fell on the swingset in the back and small screened in back porch that she and Billy had both loved.  Her feet felt heavy as she walked slowly up the bricked steps.  The smell of gasoline was strong in the air, but strangely enough, she’d always the found the smell to be pleasant—another idiosyncrasy many didn’t know.

There was something almost calming about the way the gasoline settled into the nooks and crannies of the bricks—as if it belonged there.  She watched as it dripped down into the brush that surrounded the windows and doors on the first floor. In her mind, she wondered how long it would take for the entire house to engulf and she was almost disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to stay and watch.  It would be on the news, she thought to herself.  That would have to do.

She took a breath, reaching into her pocket for the matches.  She struck one and stepped back before tossing it towards the brush.  The flame was impressive, immediately catching a tall branch above the eave, and beginning to rain down fiery leaves on the roof.  She threw another match towards the porch, watching with interest as the screen’s wooden frame began to almost melt under the flame’s heat.  She sighed before moving quickly back towards the car.  Placing the matches and jug back in the passenger seat, she backed down the driveway quickly—waiting until she was far down the road before turning back on the lights.

 

 

 

Mine pt 1

She stood in the silence of the kitchen, brushing the jagged pieces of glass into the wastebasket.  She couldn’t go back into that room—not yet.  Her pride was all she left to salvage of this and even that was hanging on by a thin thread.  The words echoed in her head.  It wasn’t a surprise—not really.  It was what Billy wanted.  It was what he’d wanted for a while now and he’d never denied that, so hearing him admit it wasn’t a shock.  It was the ease in which he said the words to her. It was the compassion in his eyes, the pity.  It made her sick, broke her heart, and infuriated her..all at once.  Before she knew it, she’d been standing there in front of him, the glass of wine in her hand now shattered on the floor.  He had tried to help her clean it, but she’d shoved him away, moving quickly into the kitchen.  She needed space.  She needed a moment.  She needed to breathe.

And she did.  Victoria took a long, deep breath before wiping her face with her hands and heading back into the living room.

Billy stood from the couch, his eyes full of concern as he looked back at her.  “Everything okay?”

“It’s fine,” she said quickly, returning to the couch and taking a seat beside him.  “So…”  She swallowed hard, forcing her lips to curve into a terse smile.  “I take it Phyllis said yes when you asked her to marry you.”

He nodded awkwardly.  “Yeah, yes she did.”

“Well, that’s good for you.”  She stood, walking across the room and turning her back to him.  He would not see her cry.  He didn’t deserve her tears.

“Come on, Vic.  I don’t know what else you want me to do here. I’m trying to do everything right.  I thought it was the right thing to do to come over here and tell you this in person.  I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else.  I wanted to come and talk to you about it.  I thought you deserved that.”

She whirled around, the condescension in his voice proving too much to ignore.  “Oh, really? You thought I deserved that?  Well, thank you, Billy.  Thank you so much for doing me that courtesy.”

“What was I supposed to do? Huh?  Just never be happy?  Just stay miserable my whole life because you’re miserable.”  He ran his hands over his face.  “Sorry,” he whispered through clenched teeth.  “I shouldn’t have said that.”

“I’m not miserable.”  She bit down hard on the inside of her cheek, finding it easier to quell the tears with the rage burning inside of her.  “You’re going to be the one that’s miserable if you marry that…”

“Stop.”  Billy held up hand in front of him.  “Don’t talk about her.  I didn’t come here tonight to ask for your blessing or to get your approval.  I simply came here to give you the courtesy of telling you to your face.”  He paused.  “And there’s one more thing.”

Her stomach churned.  “Don’t tell me she’s pregnant.”

“Vic.” Billy warned.  “No, she’s not pregnant.  It’s about the wedding.  We don’t want to do a big wedding in town.”

“Afraid no one will show up or afraid hecklers will,” she spat, smiling a genuine smile for the first time since she opened the door to him.

Billy sighed in utter exasperation.  “Are you enjoying this?  Making this difficult for me because right about now I can’t remember why I didn’t just let you see this on GC Buzz or read it online like everyone else will.”

“What did you expect me to do, Billy?  You want me to throw you a party?”

“Of course not…it’s just…you could be decent about it.”  He shook his head with a sigh.  “Forget it.  That’s not the point, anyway.  I just wanted to tell you that we’re not doing a wedding here.  Phyllis and I have talked about it and we’re just going to combine the honeymoon and the wedding and fly off to Italy and get married.”

“I don’t know why you’re telling me this,” Victoria sighed.

He took a breath.  “Because I want to take the kids.  We’d like to have them there and…”

“Hell no.”

“Vic..”

“You’re wasting your breath, Billy.  There’s no way I’m letting you and Phyllis take my children to Europe on your little love fest.”

“They are our kids, and it’s our wedding, Victoria.  I have a right to have my children at my wedding.”

“If you want them there, you’ll have a wedding here like everyone else.”  She stared at him for a moment before continuing.  “Don’t act like you wouldn’t be saying the very same thing if I was asking something like this of you.”

“Uh, does the name Travis mean anything to you?”

“Don’t bring Travis into this.”  Victoria pushed past him, knowing all too well where the conversation was going.

“Oh, I’m damn well going to bring him into it.  I seem to recall a time when he asked you to go with him on his boat to go God knows where and to take the kids with you and I told you to go if you wanted.  I wouldn’t have fought you.  I wanted you to be happy, Vic.  So tell me again how I would be doing the same thing you are?”

“That was a completely different situation, Billy.  Travis and I were….”

“You were what?  Meant to be?  That’s why he’s here right now?  Where is he, Vic?  Is he upstairs?  Outside? No?  He’s gone isn’t he….and maybe that’s what this is really about, isn’t it?  Maybe it’s about the fact that Travis left you and instead of running back to you to pick up the pieces like you always expected me to do, I found someone else.  Maybe when you decided that you were ready to take me back, I wasn’t waiting on the doorstep this time.  Maybe that’s why you’re so damn angry.  What do you think?  Am I getting close?”

She stared at him, her eyes wide, the truth in his words cutting deeply.  Her eyes fluttered closed as she tasted blood trickling from the cuts on her inner cheek and she opened her mouth a bit, running her tongue over the tender skin.  A tear slowly escaped her eye, running slowly down her cheek.

“Vic.”  Billy stepped closer to her, his head hanging in shame.  “I’m sorry.  I…I kind of lost it there and I shouldn’t have…I’m really sorry.  I should go.  We can talk about the rest later.”

Her hand rushed to her face, brushing away the tears that continued to fall.  “There’s more?”  Her voice shook as the words flew out.  “No, Billy.  If there’s more, just tell me now.  What other wonderful news could you possibly have to share with me?”  She walked over to the couch, falling down onto it, her entire body exhausted.  She was too tired to fight, to yell, to do anything—she just wanted this over.

“You probably won’t even care about this.”  He sat down, reaching into his jacket and pulling out a few folded pieces of paper.  “In fact you may not even remember.”  He handed her the pages and watched as her eyes roamed the images and words.

“The house,” she said quietly, looking up at him.

“You remember?”

“Of course I do,” she said, smiling a bit in spite of herself, “It’s the one we looked at a few years ago, before Katie was born.  You loved it but the owners decided not to sell.  Is it back on the market?”  She looked up at him with a smile.

“Not anymore,” he said softly.  “I bought it.  Phyllis and I are going to live there.  It’s going to be our new home.”