The Road Back pt 5

Based on: Unsteady by XAmbassadors

I’m alone
‘Cause this house don’t feel like home

If you love me
Don’t let go

Hold
Hold on
Hold on to me
‘Cause I’m a little unsteady
A little unsteady

Billy took a few slow steps, hesitating slightly before he sat down on the edge of the bed. “You think I don’t care?” He shook his head. “I don’t even know what to say to that…I don’t know how you could think that.”

She dropped her head, closing her eyes as she felt his hand on her cheek. Her mind was cloudy, the pain medication kicking in just as the doctor had warned it would. “I don’t know,” she whispered, struggling to raise her eyes to look at him again, “you seem to be ok…better…better than me…not like I feel…” Her head bobbed again and he gently reached out to pull the covers down.

He leaned her back, fluffing the pillows behind her as he covered her with the sheet and blanket. “You need to get some sleep,” he said softly. “We can talk about this later.”

Her eyes opened again, looking at him. It would be so easy to crawl in beside her, to take her in his arms, to feel her next to him as night turned to day, but he couldn’t–he couldn’t be sure it was what she wanted. She was hurt, vulnerable, medicated–too many variables that could change the course of events. He leaned down, pressing his lips to her forehead. “You sleep,” he whispered.

~
Billy sat up, sighing in total frustration. Sleep was clearly not a realistic goal tonight. He’d tried everything–reading, watching tv, wine–and nothing….Every time he closed his eyes he thought of her, he imagined her upstairs in his shirt, in his bed…. He thought of every time they’d been together, but also every time they’d had to part. Being with her was worth every goodbye, but the goodbyes got harder as time went on.

He rubbed his face, in part trying to scrub the memories from his mind. He cherished the moments with her and he survived on the mental images he kept, but he also tortured himself. Night after night he dreamed of her, of what their life could be….

The noise was almost imperceptible at first, but as he stood and walked closer to the stairs, he could hear her voice.

“Billy….”

He took the stairs two at a time, his breath catching when he saw her splayed out on the floor. “Phyllis..” He knelt beside her, his arms wrapping around her, lifting her easily. “Are you ok?” He looked at her, his eyes running over her bare legs.

“I’m fine,” she said quietly. “I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“I wasn’t sleeping and besides I want you to call me if you need me.” His hand cupped her face, the look in her eyes melted him. “What exactly were you trying to do?”

“Water,” she whispered. “I’m really thirsty…I guess it’s the medicine or something…” She looked down at his hand which was now resting on her bare leg.

He followed her gaze and started to pull away when he felt her hand on his, gently stroking his hand. “I can get you some water.” His eyes locked with hers. It was hard to tell what she was thinking.

“That’s ok. I’m not really that thirsty anymore.” She shifted closer to him, turning her body towards him, her torso now inches from him.

“God I’ve missed you,” she whispered.

Billy froze. This is what he’d dreamed of. She was coming to him–not because of Jack, not because of revenge, not because he was confused, but because she wanted him.

“Phyllis.” He slid back, putting space between them for a moment. It was insanity to question her, but he couldn’t deal with another brutal bait and switch. He couldn’t listen to her tell him everything he longed to hear and then change her mind. His heart couldn’t handle it.

His hands moved to her shoulders, his breath deepened as he stared at her. “You know how much I want this…you know how much I want to believe that you want this, but before…what you said…”

She felt the tears begin a hot, wet trail down her cheek, his fingers wiping them away. “I know…I know I hurt you. I know I confused you, but I was confused. I was so confused…”

“I don’t want to upset you and I don’t want you to think for a second that I don’t understand what you’ve been through or that I expect or want you to tell me anything other than the truth about how you feel and what you want. It’s just…” He stopped, taking her hands in his before speaking again. “I need you to understand how much this matters to me…how much you matter to me. If this isn’t what you want. If you’re not sure…really sure–don’t say it…don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

For a moment she was silent and he was certain he had made her choice for her. He looked away for a moment.

Her hand gingerly touched his chin, turning his face back towards her. “I used to wake up in the morning and feel happy and content. The last few months that hasn’t been the case. I’ve been filled with guilt and anger and confusion, but .I’ve also been so incredibly unhappy. Even recently, staying with Summer, I wake up and I feel like Im watching someone else live their life…like I’m disconnected from everything and I didn’t know how to fix it.”

His eyes were filled with compassion as they watched her.

“Tonight…when I opened my eyes–in this bed, in this house–in your house…that feeling was gone. I felt like I was where I should be. I know I’m where I want to be. I know Ive said the words before and I know I’ve given you plenty of reasons to doubt that I’ll stick to my word, but I’ve never been this certain of anything. I’ve never felt more at peace, more content, more at peace, than I do in this house….”

There were plenty of questions he could ask, plenty of hoops he could make her jump through. He could keep her at a safe distance, protect his heart from a potential shatter….He could do all those things, or he could stop and look into her eyes. He could see the sincerity, the love, the emotion. He could pull her close to him, wrap his arms around her, bury his face in her hair, breathe in the intoxicating smell of her shampoo.

He could kiss her shoulder, her neck, her face. He could kiss away every tear, kiss her nose, and finally her lips. He could do this over and over again until he felt her hands on his–until he felt her place them on his shirt, until he heard her whisper in his ear, until neither of them could come up with a reason to wait any longer. He could take his time, knowing there was no need to rush this time.

And he did–he did all this and more.

She was his and he was hers. It was a long road but they were finally home.

The Road Back pt 4

Based on : Let Me Help You Work It Out by Charley Pride
There is something in your heart weighing heavy on your mind
You need gentle arms to hold you like these gentle arms of mine
You need love and understanding and the shoulder you can cry on
You need someone to rely on you don’t have to be alone
Let me help you work it out help you face the situation
Count on me for consolation let me help you work it out

Let me help you work it out I’m the one who’ll always care
When you need me I’ll be there let me help you work it out
Let me help you work it out…

~

“Billy,” Phyllis sighed as he struggled to open the door and maneuver her inside. “I really don’t think this is a good idea. I appreciate it-I really do, but you don’t have to do this. I’m not your responsibility. This not your problem”

Billy deposited her on the couch, huffing as he pushed the ottoman under her foot. “You’re a nice problem to have and this is absolutely a good idea–and even if you don’t agree with that, you have to agree it’s necessary.”

“It’s not necessary. The doctor didn’t say I needed someone with me.”

“Well, he said non weight bearing which means you won’t be claiming stairs very well and unless Summer’s apartment has some secret elevator I’ve never seen…”

“Tell me smart guy, where’s the elevator here?”

Billy stood, raising his arms and dramatically taking a bodybuilder pose. “You’re looking at it,” he grinned.

She smiled back at him, her eyes drooping and he sat down beside her, satisfied he’d made his case.

He gently brushed the hair away from her face as he watched her yawn. “It’s been a long day..why don’t you let me take you upstairs?”

Her eyes widened immediately as she looked up at him.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” he stammered. The second the words left his lips he’d heard the way they sounded–as if he was somehow taking for granted they’d be sharing a bed. He’d never be that presumptuous and he’d certainly never want Phyllis to think that word his expectation, or even worse, his motive.

“It’s ok.” Her voice was soft. The panic in his eyes warmed her heart. He was so worried about saying the right thing, acting as he should, doing what was right–he was as nervous as any junior high boy on their first date and she found it nearly irresistible. “I know what you meant.”

He nodded, relieved. He easily lifted her, her arms forming a loose ring around his neck. She let her head rest against his shoulder as he carried her carefully up the stairs. They reached the bedroom and she was surprised when he turned in the doorway of his room.

“You take my room,” he said softly, “the bathroom’s attached and there’s more room to move around the bed. It’ll be easier.” He placed her on the edge of the bed. “I’ll get you something to sleep in.”

The shirts hung neatly in the closet and, as he stared at the choices, he couldn’t help remembering the way she’d looked that day. They had just come back from a disastrous ride and she’d gone upstairs to clean up and put her clothes in the laundry. The sight of her walking down those stairs in his shirt had caused his heart to pound only he’d never let on–not to her, not to Jack, not even really to himself.

Now as he remembered the moment again, the sights and sounds as vivid as they were the moment they occurred, he couldn’t recall a time he didn’t gave feelings for her. He pulled a shirt off the hanger, the feel if the fabric in his hands sent thoughts flying through his mind. He wondered how the fabric would feel against her skin, how it would fall to the floor in a heap or if it would delicately waft–if the buttons would undo easily or if they’d require assistance, like her shirt on their first night together

He shook his head. He had to stop this. She was here because she needed his help. She needed someone to take care if her–not lust after her like a dig in heat. He held out the shirt to her and turned his back.

“Just let me know if you need any help,” he said, trying to be respectful.

“Ok,” Phyllis was confused. Billy was running completely hot and cold. One minute she’d swear he was moments away from asking her to move in again and the next she expected him to give her a bill for home health care. It was all very strange.

“All done,” she said quietly, her voice full of resignation. Maybe she had finally pushed enough…maybe this time Billy was through coming back.

“You need anything else?” He asked, moving towards the door, barely even making eye contact. Billy drew in a deep breath as he waited for an answer. He had to set boundaries, respect limits–part of that was keeping his distance, both physically and emotionally, but when he looked at her–Jesus–all those boundaries, all the limits, every ounce of resolve he every had disappeared.

“One thing,” Phyllis said flatly. “Please tell me what I did to make you like this.”

“Like what?”

Phyllis swallowed, already feeling the barrage of emotions that wanted to well up within her. “You’ve managed to figure out how to stop caring…how to stop being affected by any of this.”

There were no words. His brain felt as if it could explode. How could she think he didn’t care? How could she possibly believe?

“I get it, ” she continued, “I didn’t expect you to wait for me to change my mind. I know I’ve told you time and time again that we’re over but I don’t know….I just…”

Billy stared at her. Tears filled her eyes as she struggled to find the words to explain her garbled feelings. “You just what? What?”

“I just wish I could be more like you…it would hurt a lot less if Zi could just stop caring…if I could just stop loving you so damn much.”

The Road Back pt 3

Based on Lay Me Down by Sam Smith:

Can I lay by your side?
Next to you, you
And make sure you’re alright
I’ll take care of you
I don’t want to be here if I can’t be with you tonight

He could feel her breathing, the slow, deep breaths and he knew she had fallen asleep as she lay against him. It would have been easy to close his eyes too, with the crisp autumn air drifting in through the open hatchback and the soft, soothing sounds of nature just outside, but he didn’t want to miss this moment. It was a rare treasure to hold her in his arms and simply listen to her breathe–to know, at least for this moment, that she was here with him, that she was safe, that they were together–as it should be.

Yellow lights flashed through the window and she stirred in his arms.

“The tow truck’s here,” he whispered, trying to hide the disappointment. He would have been happy to spend the entire night there with her. The venue no longer mattered. He would go anywhere, do anything–if it meant he could be with her.

She scooted towards the edge of the trunk, jumping to her feet and looking over her shoulder for him to follow.

An older gentleman approached and Phyllis walked over to him, smiling easily and gesturing to the car. Billy stood back, watching her. He saw her open the car door and then step back, her face confused.

“What’s going on?” Billy asked, stepping up behind her.

Phyllis turned, sighing in irritation. “Well, apparently, he can rescue my car, but he has to leave me stranded. I can’t ride in the car while it’s being towed–obviously and he can’t let me ride in the truck, so I’m stuck here…” She saw the look on his face and knew exactly what he was thinking.

“You can ride with me,” he said quietly, standing close enough to her for her to feel the warmth radiating from his skin.

“I’m not sure that’s a great idea,” she said quietly, as she watched the man attach her car to the truck.

“You’d rather spend the night out here?” He smiled as he looked down at her. He did enjoy this–the fact that she almost had to accept his offer of help… “with the raccoons and the bobcats….you could create your own version of Jungle Book out here…”

“Ok,” she huffed. “You’re right. I don’t want to stay here. I want to go home, soak in a bath, have a glass of wine.” She closed her eyes for a moment, imagining how nice it would feel to slip into a warm bubble bath surrounded by candles, a nice glass of red wine in her hand. She’d lean back against him, letting his arms wrap around her….Her eyes flew open, focusing on him. The look in his eyes made her wonder if he could read her mind. “Alone.” she managed, clearing her throat.

Billy nodded, a knowing smile on his face. “Lets go.” He reached for the helmet, handing it to her. “Here.”

“Where’s yours?” She asked, holding the helmet in her hand.

“Only brought one tonight,” he said quickly, hopping on the bike and starting it up, “didn’t expect to be picking up any passengers.”

Phyllis stood still. “I think you should wear it.”

“Not up for discussion,” he said as he reached out and took the helmet from her hands. He placed it on her head, pulling the strap tight under her chin. “You gonna hop on?”

She climbed on the back, her body reacting immediately to the close contact. She took a deep breath, her hands roaming over his chest of their own violation.

Billy breathed in. “Ok back there?” The sharp intake of breath had been impossible to miss and the surge of heat from her body as she’d pressed up against him had been matched only by the heat that also coursed through him.

He felt her nod he released the kickstand. This would be quite the ride.

~

“Just lean on me.” Billy walked slowly, watching her face contort in pain with each step. “Alright…Alright…that’s enough.” He scooped her up, his arms wrapping around her comfortably–as if this was exactly where she was meant to be.

“Billy,” she hissed, “I can walk. I told you–I’m fine. It’s just a sprain.”

“Right,” he responded, glancing doubtfully at her. “I’m fairly certain sprains don’t cause the foot to bend that way.”

“What do you mean? She struggled to look at her foot, her eyes glimpsing the contorted bone for a moment.

“No…no..no..no..no…” Billy grasped her face gently, turning her face back towards him. “Let’s not look at that…you just look at me ok?”

Phyllis took a breath, the pain getting worse as the foot continued to swell. She looked at him, a small cut on his forehead bled slowly. “You’re bleeding,” she said softly, reaching into her pocket and grabbing a napkin. She dabbed at the cut gently. “A little chicken grease shouldn’t hurt anything,” she smiled.

“Don’t worry about me,” he said. “I’m fine. I just want to get somebody to take care of you.” His eyes scanned the busy ER.

“I think we’re gonna have to wait. Why don’t we just grab a seat?”

Billy nodded, stepping over to two vacant seats and helping her settle into one. He pulled a vacant chair in front of her and lifted her leg gently. She grimaced as he touched her foot, removing her shoe. “Sorry,” he whispered. “You need to keep this elevated.”

He sat beside her, his eyes studying her stressed face. She was clearly in pain, probably more than she would ever admit and he hated not being able to fix it for her.

She could tell he was blaming himself for this and it wasn’t his fault, though she knew she’d never be able to convince him of that. “Billy–stop it….”

“Stop what?”

“Blaming yourself…you had to take that turn–if not we could have been hit. That idiot was flying. He was headed straight for us.”

“If I hadnt turned as sharp, we would have hit the grass–the bike wouldn’t have kicked back as hard, you might not have been knocked off…”

“Or we could have not made it far enough off the road and he could have killed us. You saved us.”

“I’ll always try to take care of you, Phyllis. I’ll do everything in my power…I know what you say..I know what you say you feel or don’t feel, but it doesn’t change what I feel.”

Phyllis saw the look in his eyes as he spoke. It was so hard not to react to his intensity. “Billy…”

The nurse touched her shoulder softly. “You can step into bay 3 now,” she said quietly.

Billy nodded, leaning down and helping her up. “Later,” he said quietly. “Right now lets focus on you. That’s what’s important.”

The Road Back pt 2

Based on:

Passenger Seat by Stephen Speaks:

And as we go I see the lights
Watch them glimmer in her eyes
In the darkness of the evening

We stop to get something to drink
My mind clouds and I can’t think
Scared to death to say i love her
Then a moon peeks from the clouds
Hear my heart that beats so loud
Try to tell her simply

Phyllis stared down the dark road. There was something rather disturbing about being so vulnerable. She was used to being the one in control and tonight, she was anything but–broken down on the side of a deserted road. Much as she hated to admit it, she didn’t like being here alone. The silence made her uneasy.

The light of Billy’s motorcycle was nothing short of heaven sent. She got out of the car quickly, meeting him before he even made it off the bike.

“You ok?” He asked, noting her rattled countenance. He knew her far better than she liked to admit and this was nothing like the clam, collected Phyllis that typically showed up.

“Yeah, of course. I just…it’s dark out here and it’s really quiet.” She shrugged, now feeling a little silly. “It’s creepy,” she admitted, looking away from him, embarrassed of her own limitations.

“You don’t have anything to worry about.” He reached out, touching her shoulder lightly. “I’m back and I’ll protect you from the rabid raccoons and bobcats and the would be axe murderers that might be hiding in these woods.”

Her eyes widened and she heard him laugh. “That’s not funny. You don’t know what could be in there. If someone escaped from prison or something, that’s exactly where they’d go…it’s like the perfect scene from a horror movie.”

“Well if it’s in a horror movie, it must be true.”

“You know if you’re just gonna make fun of me,” She turned her back to him.

“I can go if you want.”

“No,” she said quickly, turning back around to face him. “I don’t want you to go.” She looked down at her hands, realizing for the first time that they were tightly clasped around his.

He sighed. “I’m not gonna leave you here.”

His voice was so earnest, his face unable to be really seen in the darkness, but easy for her to imagine. The last few weeks she’d been so dedicated to trying to make Jack see how sorry she was that she’d been determined to stay away from Billy completely.

Without seeing him, it had been easier to keep the thoughts of him out of her mind. She didn’t continually dream about the days she’d spent with him, but tonight, after seeing him again, she realized she was no closer to being over him than she had been the second she’d stepped out of his arms.

Billy watched her face as she stared at him. Shadows danced across her cheeks as the moon drifted behind a cloud. “You ready to eat?”

She nodded. “Did you call the tow?”

“Yeah, its just gonna take a while.”

He couldn’t pretend to be upset that he had a chance to spend some time alone with her. The fact that she was without an escape plan was an added bonus.

“Why don’t you pop the hatchback?” He said softly, walking over to his bike to retrieve the food.

Phyllis hesitated.

“Unless you’d rather eat on the ground.”

“Oh,” she felt her cheeks flush with redness and she was suddenly very thankful for the discretion the dark of night provided.

She reached inside the car and pressed the button to release the hatchback. She watched as Billy walked around back and climbed inside. He heard his hand out to her and she stepped up and sat inside.

Her eyes narrowed as she studied the bucket.

The interior lights now cast dim lights on them. “Is that fried chicken?”

“Of course it’s fried chicken..haven’t you ever been tailgating? You eat chicken wings and drink beer. I would have brought beer but people are weird about ordering beer at a drive thru for some reason.”

Phyllis laughed. “I can’t imagine why.”

“So, we’ll have to deal with bottled water,” he sighed, “An affront to tailgaters everywhere.” He smiled at her. “So beautiful, how long’s it been since you’ve been to a proper tailgating?”

She opened the water bottle before taking a sip and gingerly taking the chicken wing he handed her. “Uh…”.

“Do not tell me…”. Billy clutched at his chest, “Seriously? You’ve never gone tailgating?”

“I don’t think so,” she giggled. “I’m not entirely sure of what that entails.”

Billy groaned, leaning back. “You’re killing me here. Tailgating is an American tradition–you sit out before a game and eat and talk, listen to the pregame…”.

Phyllis listened. “So why not just wait til you get to the real game? Don’t they have food in there?”

“Sure they do, but you tailgate for the experience…for fun.” Billy watched her, amused by her quizzical expression.

“Okay,” she said quietly, still holding her chicken wing in her fingertips.

“You gonna eat that?” He asked as he pulled another chicken wing from the bucket and brought it to his mouth.

“Yeah, I was just looking for a fork.”

“A fork? Phyllis–you do not eat chicken wings with a fork. That’s like eating pizza with a knife and fork.”

She said nothing.

“You use a knife and fork for pizza?”

“Maybe?” She said, only slightly defensive. “What’s wrong with that?” She smiled at him as she watched his face change.

“Nothing, M’Lady. I just never realized the caliber of my dining companion.” He took the chicken wing from her hand, pulling the chicken from the bone.

“Here.”

“Billy,” she laughed, “you don’t have to feed me. I’m perfectly…”.

Billy tossed the bit of chicken into her mouth and laughed as she started to chew. “See….isn’t that good?”

He smiled brightly as she giggled in return. “Yes, ok. Yes, it’s good.” She took the rest of the chicken wing from him, bringing it to her mouth and taking a bit.

“See,” he smirked, “I knew you could do it. That’s really sexy by the way.”

Phyllis pulled her legs up underneath her as she got more comfortable. “Well, who knew all I needed to be sexy was some chicken wings,” she said with a smile as she wiped her hands on the napkin.

“Trust me, you don’t need anything.”

There was silence between them for a moment. Time after time he was presented with this reality–the fact that without her his life was incomplete. He watched her, the moon casting shadows through the window as the interior light cast a soft glow across her face. She was beautiful as she sat there..no matter what she said, no matter what she did. She was his everything. He’d known it from the beginning and he’d told her as much. Now, as he watched her eyes staring back at him, he wondered if she was starting to believe him.

There was so much he wanted to say to her, but he was afraid of saying too much..of pushing too hard–too far, but if not now, when?

“Phyllis,”

She looked up at him, her green eyes glistening in the moonlight.

He searched her expression, wondering if she was going to push him away again.

“I know you may not want to hear this but I need to say it. Regardless of what you do, where you go, who you’re with, you’re still it for me. I love you, Phyllis. I always will.”

She opened her mouth, her eyes full of expression, but he couldn’t tell what the expression meant.

“Wait,” Billy said, cutting her off. “Just don’t say anything. Please…don’t say anything at all.”

Phyllis looked at him, the look in her eyes now more clear. She reached out, her hand finding his in the dark. She touched him, his skin warm as his fingers laced through hers. Moving closer to him, she let her back lean against his chest, grateful when she felt his arms wrap around her. Not a word was said.

This time, the silence was nice.

The Road Back

Based on Break Down Here by Julie Roberts

I’d sure hate to break down here,
Nothin’ up ahead or in the rear view mirror.
Out in the middle of nowhere, knowin’.
I’m in trouble if these wheels stop rollin’.…

“Damnit! Damnit! Damnit!” Phyllis groaned as she pulled the key from the ignition. She sighed heavily, jerking open the driver’s side door and popping the hood.

She stepped back as smoke poured out. “Fantastic,” she muttered as she shifted to the side to avoid the billows of stifling smoke. She stomped back over to the car and leaned in to retrieve her purse. “Because that’s exactly what I needed today…one more thing to go wrong..”.

“Ok,” she grumbled, walking towards the brightest spot on the stretch of grass where the moonlight shown the brightest on the screen of her phone. Her eyes widened. “You have got to be kidding me…”.

The battery alert flashed across the screen. She pressed the home button, silently hoping there was enough power to at least call for a tow. “No…No..Noooo…” she whined as she watch the screen go dark before her eyes.

“Perfect,” she hissed, “The perfect ending to a perfect day.

This road wasn’t heavily traveled. In fact, the lack of traffic was exactly what brought her to this particular stretch of nowhere, but she now regretted taking the scenic route. Leaning into the car, she opened the glovebox and pulled out an old faded paper map. Jack always insisted on using real, traditional maps. He never trusted GPS–said they were a sure fire way to get lost. Phyllis sighed as she stretched the map out on the front seat. If she was reading this right, there was a main road on the other side of this stretch of woods. If she just walked through…

She stared into the thick brush, taking a few steps closer to the trees. There was a rustling in the leaves yet there was no breeze tonight. She froze. What was that?

“Boo!”

She screamed, turning around quickly and flailing her arms in protest. The light of the moon shown down on his face. Her momentary relief at the sight of his face was quickly replaced by fury.

She pummeled his chest with her small fists. “What is the matter with you? You scared the hell out of me!”

Billy chuckled softly. “I’m sorry,” he smiled. “I shouldn’t have snuck up on you like that. I just couldn’t resist.”

His hands were wrapped around her tiny wrists, her body mere inches from his. “So,” he said, his voice softer now, “You wanna tell me what you’re doing traipsing through the woods in your dress and heels?”

Phyllis smirked. “Bird watching,” she grumbled sarcastically. “My car broke down. I thought I could walk through here to get to the main road.”

“Through the woods?” He smiled, suppressing a laugh. “You’re gonna walk through the woods?”

“I could have and I was just about to if you hadn’t stopped me and tried to give me a heart attack.”

“Well…far be it for me to interrupt your quest. Carry on..”. Billy stood, the smug smirk spreading across his face.

“You don’t think I’ll do it?” She argued.

“I think you’re still standing here in front of me,” he retorted.

Phyllis scoffed, taking a deep breath and summoning all her courage. “Fine.”

She took a few steps towards the thick mass of trees. Her arms pushed the limbs about, clearing a path to walk through.

Billy watched in amusement.

Phyllis took tentative steps. She could feel his eyes watching her every move and she would not give him the satisfaction of watching her fail. No matter what she was walking through these woods. She could handle some trees. There was nothing to be afraid of…the rustling sound returned. It was just her imagination, she reasoned, and then she felt it–something brushing against her leg.

Her body was slamming into his in seconds. “There’s something in there,” she blathered. “Something lives in there. It touched my leg. It touched me.” She shivered.

“Alright…”. He couldn’t hide the smile on his face as he softly stroked her back. “I’m sure it was nothing–probably just a raccoon or a bobcat–they’re almost never rabid and they usually leave you alone if you leave them alone.”

“Do you have their word on that?” Phyllis quipped. She smiled as she looked up at him. This was the first time in weeks she’d been this close to him. Her days were spent trying to get back in Jack’s good graces. There was something so refreshing about just being here–in the moment.

His hands moved up to her shoulders. She trembled slightly under his touch.

“You cold?” He asked, already removing his jacket and draping it over her shoulders before she had a chance to answer. He reached around her neck, gathering her hair in his hands and pulling it over his collar.

She breathed in, the smell of his cologne wafting through the air. She smiled again–in spite of herself.

“What?” He asked, his voice raspy.

“It smells like you,” she whispered.

“Sorry,” he joked.

“No,” she giggled. “It’s nice.” The intensity of his stare was almost unnerving. She glanced away from him, afraid if she didn’t soon that she’d be unable to resist him. No matter what she professed to want–no matter how many times she clamped to want to rebuild her marriage, she couldn’t pretend Jack ever made her feel this way. Even when things were at that their best between them, she had never felt as alive with Jack as she did with Billy. Nothing even close.

“Tell you what,” Billy said softly, “How about I call you a tow truck for your car and we go grab something to eat.” He glanced back towards the road. “I have my bike.”

“I…”. She hesitated. His bike…it would be so easy to climb on the back of his bike with him. She could wrap her arms around him, press herself against him, but she knew that was flirting with the line–the line that was so easily crossed.

“I should stay here…with the car.”

Billy nodded. “Ok,” he breathed, not wanting to push. “There’s a spot just up the road. I’ll call a tow and go go grab us something and bring it back here. We can eat while we wait…kind of a moonlight picnic.”

Her mind flashed back to months ago…their private paradise..how she’d wanted it to last forever.

“Sure,” she said softly, “I’ll be here.”

She watched as he jumped on the bike and pulled away. He’d be back in a few minutes and she knew it, but something about watching him pull away. She wondered how many times she could push him away before he stopped coming back?