Crush - Young & The Restless Fan Fiction From The TV MegaSite
 

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Mac & Billy FanFiction "The Crush"
By Donna

(Note: this story takes place just about where the story of Billy and Mac are a few months ago, just thought I would give my version of their story)

CHAPTER 1

 Billy looked at the half empty bottle in front of him.

"Whoa, better take it easy, bud, gotta make this stuff last, before Dad misses it."

 He put the top back on the bottle and stashed it at the bottom of his closet, inside a shoe rack. Now what to do? Call Brittany? Or that jerk, JT? Jerk. Billy remembered that was the word that both Mac and Raul had used when they ripped him a new one at Crimson Lights today. Forget it. Who needs them?   He grabbed his jacket and ran downstairs, gotta get outta here, but where to run from the thoughts and pictures in his head? He got to the bottom of the staircase and looked around.

He called out, "Dad? Ash? Jack? Anybody?" Then he remembered the late night meeting at Jabot that his Dad told him about this morning. "Don't wait up for me son, and try not to get into too much trouble all alone in the house." Trouble was exactly what he was looking for, but not the kind you might find alone in a big empty house. He opened the front door and locked it behind him as he left.

Mac brought the two lattes to the couple at the table in the corner. About her age, maybe a little older, she guessed. They looked happy, and didn't seem to notice when she came to the table, or anything else around them for that matter, only each other. Mac sighed as she walked away. Some people have it so easy, or at least it seemed that way to her.

On the surface, anyone looking at her and Raul together might think the same thing. Her thoughts drifted to earlier today and Raul. So sweet and thoughtful, always concerned about who or what may be bothering her at any moment. Why was it that sometimes his concern and thoughtfulness seemed so overbearing? Why was there always something or someone lurking in the back of her mind? And what was it about Billy Abbott that always seemed to get to her? "Mac?" a voice shook her from her reverie. A gently smiling Raul stood before her. "Are you almost ready to leave?" he asked. " We have about 20 minutes before the movie starts. You still wanna go, don't you?" Sure," she answered. "just give me a minute to give my receipts to Cody". "Sure," he replied, "I'll go over and hang out on the computer until you're done, come and get me before I really get too lost, 'kay?" Mac smiled and nodded. Raul could get so into surfing the web that he would fail to notice anyone or anything around him.

Mac went behind the bar where Cody was at the cash register. She handed him her receipts for the night and turned to leave when he put his hand on her shoulder, "Mac" he said, "could you do me a really big favor? Sharon just called and she needs me to bring some paperwork out to her house. Could you close for me tonight, you would only be alone for the last hour of your shift. I hate to ask you on such short notice, but ya know two people called in sick, the flu bug ya know, and I can't tell Sharon no and." "It's okay, Cody," Mac cut him off in mid-ramble. "No problem." "Are you sure, Mac, I mean I just saw Raul and I know that you two probably had plans." "Would I say it was okay if I didn't mean it?" Mac's defenses rose again and she silently berated herself for being so belligerent. "I'm sorry, it's fine. Why don't you get the stuff you need and get going? The weather really seems to be getting fierce out there," she smiled to try to make up for being so snotty a minute ago. The look of relief on Cody's face was evident "Thanks," he smiled, "Any shift you want next week is yours. You know where the keys are, right? And just make sure that the trash under the counter is put out in the dumpster in back before you go, okay?" She nodded. "Ok, Mac, and thanks again." He gathered the paperwork he needed, put on his jacket and left.

Mac glanced over at Raul, who was lost in cyberspace, and sighed. She could have said no to Cody, but she honestly didn't feel like going to some movie with Raul tonight. She was feeling restless and antsy, and in no mood to try and be sweet and docile with Raul, who always deserved better than the way she treated him. She walked up behind him, hunched over the keyboard. "Earth to Raul, Earth to Raul. " She leaned over and whispered in his ear. Raul shot up straight in his chair, "What?" he shouted. He  then looked around to see if anyone heard; his face beet red. Mac smiled at him, he really was a sweet boy. "I'm sorry to do this to you, but we're gonna have to skip the movie tonight. Cody asked me to close up for him tonight here, so I'm gonna be at least another couple of hours. Maybe you should think about getting home, it really is getting bitter cold out there tonight." Raul studied her face and she smiled at him. He returned the smile and thought about how pretty she was on the rare occasions when she let herself smile. "That's okay, Mac," he said, " I can wait right here for you. Give me some time to work on my web stuff and when you're done, I'll take you home on the bus." Mac forced a smile and said, "Sure, whatever you want," and went to take the order of the two guys that just walked in the door and sat at the bar.

Billy gathered his coat around him tightly. Man, he thought, it's a lot colder out tonight than I thought it would be. Shoulda brought some gloves, or at least my bottle to keep me warm. He rubbed his hands together to try to get some feeling in them and then stuck his hands in his pockets, where he found his gloves. Billy shook his head; he was drunker than he thought. The sudden movement made his head swim. He stumbled along; the booze he had consumed earlier hit him harder than he thought it would. As he walked, the sidewalk seemed to rise up and attempt to smack him in the face. All at once he saw a bright light ahead and staggered uneasily toward it, thinking of some refuge from the cold and biting wind, and the swimming going on in his head. A large metal object suddenly appeared in front of him. It looked like a garbage dumpster, but in the state he was in, it could have been just about anything. He swerved to the left to avoid walking into it and then the world went black.  


CHAPTER 2

Mac finished clearing the table, and picked up her tip, adding it to the rest in her apron

pocket. She glanced over at Raul, who was still deeply engrossed in front of the computer screen. The sound of the phone on top of the bar shattered the almost complete silence of the now empty room. Mac walked over and picked it up. "Crimson Lights," she said. The woman on the other end of the phone sounded slightly frantic. "Is Raul there?" she asked with a slight edge to her voice. "Yes he is," Mac answered "hold on a second, please." She called out, "Raul, phone call for you." Raul got up rather reluctantly and picked up the phone "Hello? Oh, hi, Ma. Yeah, I'm still here. No we didn't get to go to the movies. Mac hadda work, so I decided to keep. Oh, shoot, Ma, I completely forgot. How late is it? Uh, yeah I can still make it there to meet her. I'm really sorry, I mean it Ma, I'm leaving right now. Okay, I'll make sure she's okay. Okay, night Ma, see you soon." Raul hung up the phone and turned to face Mac, who was busy locking the front door and pushing the code into the security alarm next to the front door.

She still had to wipe down the bar and stack the chairs on top of the tables, and put the garbage from behind the bar into the dumpster out back. "Mac, are you almost done?" Raul asked. "I mean, I don't wanna rush you or anything, but I have really gotta get going, my Ma is gonna kill me for forgetting." "Forgetting what?" asked Mac. Raul started to turn red, and his voice dropped to almost a whisper. "I forgot, I was supposed to meet my grandmother at her church auditorium after her bingo game, and it ended almost 45 minutes ago. She's waiting inside, but she called my Mom and was really worried. "See", he smiled, it's a good thing she trusts me. She really wasn't as ticked off as she sounded." Mac smiled sadly as Raul tried to explain. I guess everybody has his own stuff to deal with, she thought. Raul's mother sounded frantic to her, but I guess he knew her best. She wondered silently how many other responsibilities Raul had to deal with. She really knew very little about him, other than the fact that he seemed to really like her, no questions asked. She spoke, "Raul, why don't you just get going, you really don't need to wait for me." "Mac," he said in an anxious tone, "you know there is no way that I am letting you ride the bus alone at this hour of the night. It's no big deal as long as you hurry up and finish." Mac looked at Raul and said, "Raul, how about we make a deal? You go get your Grandmother, and I'll call my Dad and ask him to come pick me up." Raul's face showed relief, "Are you sure, Mac? That would really be great. I mean I don't mind waiting for you but I really don't wanna get in any trouble with my family either. They depend on me a lot you know." He had a look on his face that was hard to read. Was it pride or a little bit of resentment at the responsibilities he had? Mac wondered. She resolved then and there to make a definite effort to find out more about Raul's situation at home. She gave him a smile and said, "Of course, it's okay, I'll call him right now. Go get your coat and stuff so I can close up the coat room." Raul replied, " Okay, but make the call first, I wanna make sure that everything is fine. Go ahead, make the call, I'll get my coat."

Mac picked up the phone and waited for Raul to turn his back to head toward the computer to turn it off. She dialed the number to the Chancellor house. Then she remembered it was Esther's night off, and Kay and Brock were at the homeless shelter dropping off some food and clothing donations. Brock was scheduled to speak there tonight and Kay wanted to go to hear it. It had been a long time since she heard her son speak in front of a large gathering of people and it had always thrilled her in the past. Mac remembered all of this as the beep went off for the answering machine. She quickly held down the button on the phone cradle and began to speak,"Hi, Kay? It's me, Mac, yeah I know it's really late. When I called earlier and told you I was gonna help Cody out, I didn't realize how long it would take. Do you think you could send the car out to Crimson Lights to pick me up? I mean I could call a cab, but, oh great, about a half-hour, okay, I'll be waiting. thanks, Grandma. see you later." Mac didn't want Raul to feel guilty for leaving her to get home by herself. A little white lie wouldn't hurt this time. Besides she could always call a cab after he left. She hung up the phone, as Raul turned around, coat on and hat in hand. "See," she said with a smile, "everything's settled, so you can go ahead and meet your grandmother with a clear conscience." "Great," he smiled. "Well, I guess I better head out then. Can you open the front door for me?" He took her hand as she walked around the bar to open the door for him. She punched in the security code to shut off the alarm and opened the front door. "Well, goodnight, and again, I'm sorry that the whole evening kinda blew up and everything." "It's okay, Raul, no big deal. We can see that movie next weekend." "Okay, then, goodnight Mac."  He leaned in and brushed his lips against hers, checking to see if it was okay first, as he always did when he kissed her, and then leaned in more fully. The kiss was brief, yet sweet, but somehow, Mac always felt a little surprised at how little reaction Raul's kisses seemed to stir within her. She smiled and he said, "Call you tomorrow, okay?" She nodded and said, "Sure, goodnight Raul, get home safe." He said, "You too," and he walked out the door. She locked it behind him and reactivated the alarm.  


CHAPTER 3

"Okay, door's locked, register's closed, floor swept, alarm's on." Mac spoke aloud to herself, checking off the things that needed to be done. "What else?" she wondered if she was forgetting something, "Oh, the garbage behind the bar." She walked over to the large bin behind the counter, gathered the ends of the large trash bag, tied them together and lifted it out of the bin. It was a lot heavier than she thought and she ended up dragging it out to the back door, holding the door open with her left foot. She propped the door open with the brick that was just outside of it that had been placed there just for that purpose. "Oomph," she let out a breath as she heaved the bag up and over the side of the dumpster that was just a few feet from the doorway. As she let the bag go, she lost her footing and fell backward. She was surprised when she fell that she didn't land on the cold hard ground, but rather on top of something, or someone. She got to her feet and looked down. It was what looked like a body. In the dark she could barely make out the shape, but whoever or whatever it was started to make some sounds that were like moans.

"Ummmmmm." She backed away, startled. Wait a minute, that ski jacket looks familiar. She reached down and turned the body over. It was no wonder the jacket looked familiar, the body was Billy Abbott! "Billy?" she questioned. No response, except for those moaning sounds again. "Billy?" she crouched down and leaned over his face, touching him on the shoulder shaking him. "Billy, get up, come on, wake up, what the hell is wrong with you?" She leaned in toward his face and her heart began beating so fast she could hear the blood rushing in her ears. The smell of alcohol hit her like a ton of bricks, a smell she was all too familiar with. "Billy, Billy, you drunken jerk, come on wake up, WAKE UP!" All of a sudden, his eyes began to slowly open and he focused on the face hovered above his. "Mac?" he muttered with a voice hoarse and low, "what the hell are you doing here?" She backed away and stood up. "Here? Billy do you even know where "here" is? Do you know where you are?" she wondered silently why did he keep on doing this to himself. She shivered as the wind howled up a gust and wrapped her arms around herself and looked down at Billy, who was attempting to raise himself up, managing to get himself to an upright sitting position. He sat up, ran a hand through his hair, and shook his head to try to clear it, but just ended up making the world spin again. He moaned and dropped his head down to his upright knees. Her face softened a little, as well as her voice, as she crouched down beside him. "Billy?" she softly whispered, do you think you can stand up?" She put her hand under his elbow and said quietly, "Let me help you stand up." He lifted his head up from his knees and looked directly into her eyes, and Mac thought she saw a flicker of something behind them. What was it? Contempt, pity or something else? He nodded silently and wrapped his right arm around her shoulders. His arm wrapped loosely around her neck and he grabbed her left arm with his right hand. Mac was slightly shaken by his closeness as she slowly began to bring both of them to their feet. As for Billy, he closed his eyes, resting his head next to the side of her face, breathing in her scent. What was it? Vanilla, he thought, warm and sweet. Her hair felt like silk against his cheek. "Mackenzie," he murmured, as he rubbed his cheek into the wonderful smell of her hair as he stumbled against her.  He slowly rose to his feet. Mac could feel her face burning. What was up with him, anyway? And why did her knees suddenly feel like they were made of jello?  When they were finally both standing somewhat upright, she headed them both toward the open back door and walked into the darkened room.

She kicked away the brick that held the door open and let the door close behind them. Billy seemed a little more oriented, but still held onto her tightly continually saying her name in a low, singsong voice. "Mackenzieee, Mackenzieeee." She walked him over to one of the tables, pulled down one of the chairs with her free arm and sat him on it. She crouched down in front of him, put her hands on his knees and looked up into his face. He looked down at her with an angelic look on his face, his eyes crinkling at the corners. "Mac, I see three of you, ya know that? And guess what I think? I like the one in the middle best." He reached out his hand and cupped the side of her face, rubbing his thumb against her cheek. "The one that's warm and soft and smells so good. " He closed his eyes and leaned back in the chair, smiling. Mac was silent reeling from the touch of Billy's hand on her cheek. She shook her head to clear it. What now?  


Chapter 4

Mac stood up. Billy was sitting, or rather slumping in the chair, his eyes closed, smiling like a fool. "Billy," she said. There was no response. "BILLY," she almost shouted. His eyes popped wide open. "I'm right here, why are you yelling?" he looked at her like he was surprised to see her standing there. How the hell did he get here? And why was everything dark? He stood up a little too quickly and started to stagger. Mac grabbed him by both his arms before he fell. A charge that felt like an electric current ran through her fingers and shot throughout her body. Apparently, he felt it too, because he stood up straighter immediately. "Are you alright?" she asked with an evident trace of her usual disdain. It was there to hide her shock at the feelings that were coursing through her veins. Billy looked right into her eyes and whispered, "Sure, sure, I'm great, thanks.  Are we at Crimson Lights? Where is everybody?" Mac looked back at him, "Yeah, we're at Crimson Lights and everybody is gone. The place is closed. I was bringing out the trash when I tripped over you behind the dumpster. Appropriate don't you think?" Billy chuckled, "Ya just couldn't resist could ya? Hadda get that in there.

Well, thanks a lot for your help, but I really am fine now, so why don't you just run along home now. Where's your soul mate, Raul? Don't tell me he left you here all alone. What is wrong with that boy?" he shook his head again, but more gently this time. No use introducing his face to the floor at this late date. Besides, things were becoming a little clearer at this point; and he didn't want to say anything he might regret later. Mac smiled an ironic grin and said, "I should have left you in the alley with the rest of the garbage. I just have to call a cab to get me home, but I still need to lock up. You want me to wait with you in here, or do you think you can see straight enough to get yourself home?"

She walked over to the phone to call for a cab while Billy flopped back down into the chair with a sarcastic grin. She hung up the phone. Good, she thought, that cab couldn't get here soon enough. As she turned around from the bar she heard a loud thud. She whirled around to see Billy lying in a heap at her feet. She ran over to him and crouched down. He was out cold. "Oh, God," she thought. "What do I do now?" She sat him upright and leaned his back against the chair. When she was sure he wouldn't flop over, she went to get her coat and hat and gloves and the keys to the front door, making a quick stop to see if the back door was locked. It was.  She put on her coat, hat and gloves. She put the key in the front door to bypass the alarm and left the front door propped open to wait for the cab.  Pieces of a plan for a way out of this mess were already churning around in her head. After few minutes that seemed like hours she heard a car horn honking outside. She ran to the open front door and waved at the cab driver. Billy was making moaning noises again and whispering her name in that same sing song way. "Mac-keennnn-zieee. "She went over to him and put her arm across his back and grabbed him by his belt, yanking him upright. "Get up right now, the cab is here. God, Billy, at least help me a little bit here." Billy stood up and looked down at her annoyed face and thought he saw a little fear hidden there. "It's okay, Mac. I'm all right. Why don't you just go get your cab? I can sleep it off here. I'll think of something to tell Cody when he opens again tomorrow."

His thoughts ran out, along with his energy. "NO!" Mac was shouting now, nearly in tears. "I can't just leave you here. How will that make me look when I have to try and explain how you got in here after I was supposed to lock up. No Billy, you're coming in the cab with me. Now WALK! "Billy straightened up at the tone of her voice and the sight of the tears in her eyes. "Okay, Boss, but I tell ya, you're probably really gonna regret this in the morning." Mac sighed, "Guess what genius? I already regret it." Together, they managed to make it to the door, Billy draping his arms around her from behind and leaning heavily against her as she locked the door. She managed to pour him into the back seat of the cab and climbed in after him. The cab driver was an older man and he smiled kindly at Mac. 'Poor kid, stuck with this jerk of a boyfriend. What the heck is up with these kids today?' He looked at her and she smiled politely and said, "12 Foothill Road please". He said softly "Everything alright? I mean, is he okay?" Mac smiled slightly and said, "Yeah, thanks. Everything is fine. We uh, we had a fight earlier. He got upset and had a little too much to drink. I guess he just needs to sleep it off or something. "Or may be he just needs not to fight again with you huh?" he smiled. "Maybe," she said. He turned around and started to pull away from the curb. Mac was grateful for the silence.

She was still thinking of a way out of this mess. She checked her watch, 12:30 am. Her Grandmother and Brock were probably already asleep.  Mac silently gave thanks that she had remembered to call them earlier in the evening to tell them about her plans with Raul. She knew that if they thought she was with Raul, they probably wouldn't be waiting up for her. But what about Billy's parents? Thankfully, Jill wasn't home. She had blustered through the house early this morning saying that she would probably be spending the night at the office. Something about a late night meeting at Jabot. As for Mr. Abbott, he was probably at the same late night meeting along with everyone else in the family. She looked down at Billy, who had fallen asleep with his head on her shoulder. He looked peaceful, almost like a little boy with his hair falling into his eyes. She reached over and brushed it back off his forehead and he smiled without opening his eyes. She whispered, "Everything's okay, Billy, we'll be home soon."  


Chapter 5

Mac stood before the front door of the Chancellor house, keys in hand. Billy was standing behind her so close that she could feel his breath in her ear and his cheek against the top of her head. She said softly, "Think, you can do this?" He took a deep breath and whispered hoarsely, "Yeah, sure, no problem, I promise I'll be as quiet as a teeny tiny mouse," he chuckled at the sound of his voice. She opened the front door. All the lights were out and she pulled him in behind her while closing and locking the door. Now, the stairs. She looked up at him standing behind her, "Think you can manage the stairs? Or do you want me to help you?" He looked down at her and shook his head, "I'm fine, I promise." They proceeded up the stairs slowly and remarkably, Billy was true to his word. They managed to make it up the stairs and into her room.

Mac had just closed and locked the door from the inside when she heard a soft knock. "Mackenzie? is that you?" Brock's voice called out softly. "Yes, Dad it's me. Sorry I'm so late. Raul and I stopped for pizza after the movie." Brock smiled on the other side of the door, "No problem, sweetheart, just as long as you had a good time." Mac answered, "Sure I did, Dad. Sorry to wake you. I'm just really tired right now. Can I tell you about it tomorrow?" "Sure sweetheart, just checking to see you got in okay, see you in the morning, good night." "Good night, Dad, and thanks."

Mac listened as the footsteps faded down the carpeted hallway. She turned around to check Billy, who hadn't uttered a sound since they came in the room. He was flopped face down right in the middle of her bed. "Billy," she whispered, "get up." He muttered something unintelligible and rolled over on his back to face her. "Mac," he began looking directly into her eyes. "Don't say anything Billy, sit up, you have to take your coat off. You can't get sick now from being overheated on top of everything else." She reached down and began to tug off his coat by the sleeves. She grabbed it and stuffed it in her closet. She then grabbed one of his shoes by the heels, tugged it off and did the same with the other. Then she took his socks off. She got an extra blanket out of a hope chest at the foot of the bed and covered him with it. "Go to sleep, the sooner you do, the sooner this whole nightmare will be over." Billy sat up, "What about you? Where are you gonna sleep. I don't wanna put you out of your bed." "Billy," she sighed exasperated and exhausted, "shut up and go to sleep." With that she walked over to the dresser, grabbed her nightshirt and went into the bathroom to change.

Billy lay back on the bed and looked up at the ceiling. I am in Mackenzie's bedroom. I am in Mac's bed. He smiled to himself, betcha Rauls never even set foot in this room. His smile faded quickly.  What difference did that make? Mac didn't really want him here. She had no choice. What an ass he had made of himself tonight. He had succeeded on one front though. Tonight should really bury just about any chance he had ever had with Mac. Isn't that what he had been trying to do all along? She didn't want him, never had. She's got Raul.

The bathroom door opening interrupted his thoughts. He looked over and his heart stopped for a minute. Mac, in her oversized nightshirt, hair tied up in a loose knot on the top of her head, strands spilling out around her face. The nightshirt was way too big for her and one sleeve kept slipping off, exposing her bare neck and shoulder. Billy wanted to bury his lips along that curve of her neck and shoulder and work his way up her neck, that sweet, vanilla smelling neck of hers. Did she taste like vanilla too? He wondered. Mac blushed and yanked the nightshirt back into place. "I was gonna sleep in my clothes," she began," but I figured Esther would get suspicious if there was no laundry tomorrow. "He managed to croak out, "Good thinking," and turned away from her onto his side. He didn't want to look at her, think about her the way that he did. The way that he did even when he was with Brittany.

Brittany, Billy realized that he hadn't even thought about her once since this whole nightmare evening had begun. What the hell was he gonna tell her when he saw her again, hell, what was he gonna tell anybody? Mac walked toward the bed. Her pride was not going to let anybody push her out of her own bed, especially Billy Abbott. She stood at the side of the bed and said, "Move over Billy, way over to the end of the bed." He turned his head to look at her. "Are you sure about this? I mean I could sleep on the floor. It's no big deal." Mac smiled, "Billy, I think I can restrain myself from jumping your bones for one night; and I'm sure for you it will be like sleeping alone. Just forget that I'm even here. If you turn back around you can even pretend you're at Brittany's. Just make sure you stay way over there, on your side." She pulled back the covers and climbed in underneath them. Billy could smell her, feel the warmth coming off her body. ."G'night Billy," she whispered, "try to get some sleep." He said, "g'nite Mac. Thanks, thanks for everything tonight." They both lay silently together, and yet alone, knowing that neither one of them would be able to sleep this night.


Chapter 6

Billy opened his eyes and looked at the alarm clock next to the bed.3:30 a.m. God, will this night ever end? He lifted his face from the pillow and turned his head around. Mac was sleeping with her head turned towards him and her right cheek against the pillow. Her hair had slipped out of its loose knot and now tumbled around her shoulders. Her shoulders, those shoulders. The nightshirt had slipped down again, further this time than before, exposing her left shoulder and the top of her left breast. Billy's eyes filled with tears, God she was so beautiful. Her skin glowed in the moonlight streaming in through the window. A realization hit him like a punch. He was in love with her. He had known for a good while that he liked her and was intrigued by her, fascinated by her dour expression and serious nature. She was so unlike anyone else he had ever known. Full of mysteries and sadness. How he wished he could be the one to solve those mysteries and ease her sometimes overwhelming sadness. To be the source of the smile that all too infrequently lit up her face. He turned his face away from her, not wanting to further stir the feelings already pounding in his body. A soft moan came from the other side of the bed, "No, please, don't, please, no. No I won't tell anyone."  She began to thrash about, quietly sobbing. Billy reached over and pulled her into his arms. He wrapped his arms around her tightly, stroking her hair, murmuring in a low whisper, "Shhuuusshhh, shush, baby it's okay, it's okay." She opened her eyes and looked up at him. The look on her face was one of fear. He looked down at her, "I'm here, baby, it's okay, no one will hurt or get to you unless they go through me first," he whispered in a soothing voice as if talking to a child. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arm around his waist. "Thank you, Billy". She laid her head against his chest. He leaned down and kissed the top of her head. What are those mysteries, Mac? And who the hell hurt you so badly?

 Billy made a life altering decision then and there. This girl lying in his arms was now the center of his universe. She may not know it yet, but he was going to find out where the all this sadness began and somehow find a way to make it go away. It almost didn't matter that she may ever know about or even return his feelings. Her happiness was worth everything and whatever it took to get it was fine with him. All that mattered was seeing that smile of hers again and maybe someday being the reason for it. Mac awoke to bright early sunrise. The beginnings of light just starting to stream in through the window. She was surprised at first to be lying in Billy's arms. His left hand was across the top of her head, clutching it protectively. His right hand was around her waist. Their bare feet were entwined and her bare left leg was flopped across his. The feeling of his jeans, rough and scratchy against her skin, Mac had never felt so comfortable in her entire life. She raised her head and looked up into his face, so beautiful, peaceful in sleep. She took her hand off his chest and touched his cheek. Soft, soft, soft. His eyes fluttered open slowly. He looked down at her and smiled. "Everything okay?" he whispered. She made a decision to live dangerously. She lifted her head and brought her lips close to his. He leaned in to close the distance between them. The touch of their lips was electric; like nothing either of them had ever experienced before. It began softly at first. He put his hand on the side of her face and turned her head, gently rubbing her cheek with his thumb. Mac was glad she was lying down, because if she had been standing, her knees would have buckled. They continued barely touching lips, moving their mouths over each other's lightly at first, but when Billy began to suck and nibble on her bottom lip, Mac pulled away suddenly. He said "Mac, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to."

Mac's mask of anger fell over her face again and the softness of last night disappeared. She said, "No problem, you didn't put a gun to my head. Things just went a little too far, too fast. We shouldn't be doing this anyway. I mean what about Brittany? What about Raul? I'm sorry I started it. I just got carried away, that's all." Mac sat up and pulled her nightshirt back into place. Billy sat up and looked at her flushed face, hair spilling across her shoulders and thought he had never seen anything so beautiful before.

"Man," he began, "what just happened here? I mean I thought you couldn't stand me and the way we were just kissing was. I mean, you felt it too, didn't you?" He reached over and grabbed her hand. She looked at him with tears in her eyes and nodded, "Yes," she said. "I felt it too, but it doesn't mean anything. I hate the way you act, I hate the fact that you drink and I hate those jerks you hang out with. I also know for a fact, Billy Abbott that you aren't too crazy about me either."


Chapter 7

Billy looked at her with his mouth wide open, "Where did you ever get that idea? I never, ever said that." "Don't tell me you didn't Billy, I heard you tell Brittany exactly how you, you know what. Forget it. We have got to get you out of here before everybody wakes up." She sprang off the bed, now in full Mac mode and began to gather his shoes and socks off the floor. "Put these on." She got his coat out of her closet while he silently slipped on his socks and shoes. He stood up and put on his coat. "Wait right there while I check the hallway. Don't make a sound." She walked over to the door and slowly opened it, stuck her head out and looked up and down the long hallway. She put her head back in. "Coast is clear. Come on, let's go." Together they tiptoed down the hallway and down the stairs. She opened the front door to let him out while there was still some cover of darkness. "Go home Billy, the rest is up to you," she said and began to close the front door. "Mac, wait, how do I thank you for everything you did last night? How can I even begin?" he asked. Mac looked him in the eye and said, "Forget everything that happened last night and this morning. Just pretend it never happened. Go back to Brittany and JT and the rest of your crew and forget all about me, especially anything I may have said last night." Her eyes brimmed over with tears and Billy's heart cracked right in two. She closed the door quietly.

Billy leaned his head against the closed front door and made a silent vow. Oh, no, forgetting Mackenzie was the last thing he would ever be able to do. All the booze in the world couldn't seem to make him do that.

Mac silently closed the door and leaned back up against it. Her eyes closed. Billy seemed to be on his way safely, but what would happen to him when he got home? She sighed deeply. Another one of those dreams last night. They had stopped for a long time. Of all the times for them to come back. She shook her head, Billy didn't know any more about her now than he did before last night and she knew that she had to make sure that he never did. She would just die if that happened.

She climbed back into the bed and under the covers. The pillow lying next to her was the one that Billy had used. She picked it up and held to it to her face, breathing deeply. It still smelled like him; crisp and clean, some kind of expensive cologne, no doubt. If she held it just right, she could almost imagine it was him. She drifted off to sleep, the tears barely dry on her cheeks.

Billy walked up to the front door of the house. Still dark inside, he still had a chance. . He opened the front door and was halfway up the stairs when a voice came wafting down the stairs. "Billy? Billy is that you?" John Abbott stood at the top of the stairs, looking down at his youngest son, a look of deep concern on his face. "Dad, I can expl..," he blurted out. "Are you all right, son? I mean when that Mackenzie girl called us in the middle of the night we were just about to call the police." Billy's heart turned over as well as his stomach . John continued, "When she told us what happened at Crimson Lights. How the power failure had disabled the alarm and how she felt responsible for the place. Well, son I am so proud of you for staying there with her so she wouldn't have to be there all alone. She was very grateful to you and she told me to tell you so. Billy? I'm sorry, I haven't given you a chance to get a word in edgewise. How did it all go? Is everything okay there?" John's rambling had given Billy a chance to get his thoughts together. "Sure Dad, it was no big deal. I just didn't want her to be alone there. I mean she's just a kid and if anything happened I just don't know how I would live with myself." Billy's words made him sick inside. Some hero. Too drunk to stand he needed a girl half his size to help him and drag his sorry butt home. He smiled up at his father. "Dad, I'm sorry for all this, I really am, but I am real tired. I would kinda just like to go to bed. I mean we drank a lotta coffee last night to try to stay awake, but I think it's starting to wear off." John smiled. "Sure, son we'll talk about all of this later." He stepped aside as Billy climbed up to the top of the stairs and headed toward his room.

"Goodnight, Billy."

Billy opened the door to his room and stepped in, "Goodnight, Dad and thanks." He closed the door and stood behind it with his eyes closed. Off the hook again, thanks to Mac. He took off his coat and threw it on a chair next to the bed. He sat down on the edge of the bed and held his head in his hands, running his fingers through his hair. Mac, when the hell did she call his Dad? Probably just before he woke up to hear her crying. Why would she do that? What the hell does she care what happens to me? He wondered if she would tell her grandmother and father the same story. She had already told her father the story about Raul and the pizza. Maybe she would nail him later, when they got up. Billy's head was spinning. He would worry about that then. All he wanted to do now was sleep. He pulled his sweater up over his head and threw it off onto the chair. He took off his jeans and socks and pulled down the covers and got into bed. He pulled the comforter up over him and grabbed the pillow next to him and held it close. If he closed his eyes and held it close enough, he could almost imagine that it was her. He fell asleep dreaming of vanilla.


Chapter 8

Mac awoke again to bright sunlight streaming through her windows. She looked over at the clock, 10:00 am. Thank God for Saturdays, she thought. She sat up and looked around the room. Everything was in place, except what was that on the floor? Gloves, Billy's gloves. She got out of bed and walked over to where they were lying and picked them up. Expensive, black leather gloves. Just the thing for the guy who has everything. She held them up against her face, rubbing them against her cheek. They felt like his cheek had, soft. so soft. She walked over to the dresser, opened the top drawer and hid them underneath a box that held the necklace that Raul had given her. Esther never went in that drawer for laundry or anything, so no one would ever see them. She pulled out some clothes and clean underwear and went into the bathroom to take a shower. When she came downstairs into the dining room her father was sitting at the table having a cup of coffee. He looked up at her; "Good morning, sleeping beauty, boy, that must have been some night last night, huh?" he smiled. She returned the smile and looked down at the place that had been set for her and took the glass of juice that was sitting there. She sat down and started to drink it, quickly putting together her story about last night in her head. "Yes, it was," she said while putting down her glass. "I forgot to tell you the worst part about what happened last night though." Brock looked over at her, "Nothing bad, I hope," he said. "Oh, no nothing really bad." She began, "It's just that I didn't tell you the whole story about what happened last night. Raul and I never made it to the movies. I had to work late and close Crimson Lights. Raul had to go meet his Grandmother, so he left. I was all set to close up and activate the alarm when," she hesitated. Could she really do this? "Go on, Mackenzie, I'm listening," Brock said. "When all the lights went out. Power failure, I guess. Then all of a sudden I heard a knock on the front door. It was Billy Abbott. He was supposed to meet somebody there or something and well, I was kinda afraid to just leave the place, you know, it was my responsibility and everything. So I let opened the door and told Billy that the place was closed. He saw that the power was out, so he insisted on waiting there with me until it came back on. It was nice of him. I guess he really sort of surprised me. helping me lock up and everything. So that's why I was so late coming in last night." She stopped and waited for a response. Brock looked at her and smiled, "Well, that was really great of you to be so responsible. Remind me to thank young Mr. Abbott the next time I see him. As long as both of you are okay. How did Billy get home?" Mac paused and minute and then said "We called a cab and I had them drop me off first and he took the cab home. I called Mr. Abbott and told him we shouldn't make too big a deal about what happened. I wouldn't want Jill to.

 " Wouldn't want me to what?" Jill walked into the room and stood with her hands on her hips, glaring at the back of Mac's head. Mac sighed and drew a deep breath. "Good morning, Jill."  Brock greeted her brightly. "My daughter was just telling me about a good deed your son did last night. Isn't that right, sweetheart?" Mac nodded silently. Jill's face brightened. "Oh, Billy did something nice for you, Mac? Well isn't that sweet. Were Raul and Brittany there too?" Brock answered quickly, "No, Jill, it was just the two of them and the next time I see that son of yours, I am going to thank him in person." Jill sat down at the table and poured herself a cup of coffee. She looked over at Mac with her usual disdain. Straight hair, no makeup, jeans and a black turtleneck sweater. What a mess. The thought of her son alone with this good for nothing imposter made her blood boil. She recovered enough to lean over to Mac, place her hand on her arm and whisper; "I wouldn't get to used to that if I were you dear.  Remember what I told you about people from different classes and the differences and how everyone eventually ends up where they're supposed to be? Just don't get any ideas where my son is concerned." Her voice turned into a hiss. Mac looked at her and wrenched her arm out of the tightening grasp of Jill's hand. She pushed her chair away from the table and said, "Excuse me, I promised Raul I would call him this morning."

She left the room and went upstairs. Brock looked over at Jill. His normally placid face turned into a mask of rage. "What?" Jill asked innocently. "If I ever hear you speak to my daughter in that tone of voice again, I will have you out on the street so fast, your head will spin!" He pushed his chair back, stood up, threw his napkin down on his plate and walked over to the other side of the table. He grabbed Jill by the elbows and yanked her up and out of her chair. "Brock, what the hell do you think you're doing? Get your hands off." Jill was frightened by the anger in Brock's eyes. God he really did believe that little piece of trash was his daughter. "Did you hear what I said Jill? I meant it, lay off my daughter or you will really be sorry." He let go of her and left the room. Jill, shaken by the exchange, walked over to the liquor cabinet and poured some vodka into a glass. Her hands were shaking as she raised the glass to her lips. That little witch would pay for this.

Mac stood at the top of the staircase, listening to the exchange of angry, slurred phrases coming through closed doors. It was the sound of fighting and fear. Why did anger and fear follow her wherever she went? She thought that finding her grandmother and then her father would free her from the past and those ever present sounds of anger and unhappiness, and the ever-present smell of booze. Mac smiled an ironic smile. This time maybe it was her fault. Maybe she brought the anger with her. It was inside of her and it infected whomever she was around. She had never heard Brock speak to anyone like he had just spoken to Jill. Maybe Jill was right, maybe it was her fault after all. Maybe she really was an imposter. Not in the way that Jill meant. She knew that Brock was really her father. But maybe she was right about her not belonging here. She knew for sure that she didn't belong anywhere near people like Jill, or her son, no matter how much her heart was telling her otherwise. She walked into her room, sat down on her bed and picked up the phone to call Raul. A woman's voice answered. She recognized it from last night as Raul's mother. "Hello Mrs. Hernandez up. It's Mackenzie. Yes, Raul's friend. Is he there, please?  Mrs. Hernandez paused, "Yes, he is dear, but I really don't think it's such a good idea for him to speak to you now.  He's right in the middle of something with the rest of the family and I.

"Hello, Mac?" Raul's voice broke into the middle of her sentence. "Hang up Ma, I've got it upstairs."  Mrs. Hernandez' voice answered, "Make it quick, Raul. You know I'm expecting an important call from work today." "Ma. hang up, I promise I'll make it short." Mac was surprised to hear how snotty Raul's mother had been. She wondered if what happened last night had anything to do with it. "Mac, you still there Mac? " "Yes, Raul, I'm still here. Is everything okay there? Your mom sounded kind of mad." She paused. Raul let out a deep sigh, "I know, I'm sorry about that. She's still kinda ticked off about last night. Grandma gave me the lecture about being responsible and blah, blah, blah. You know how it is. I'm sure she'll be fine, though, once she meets you in person. You kind of have that effect on most people. They are really impressed by you." Mac had to laugh to herself at that remark. Raul was really too sweet to live. She knew that the impression she gave to most people was one of a sour, depressed and angry girl. "Well, I'm really sorry if you got into any kind of hassle because of me. I just wanted to see if everything was okay and to let you know that I will call you if I have to work tonight. I know we kind of had plans and," she paused, "maybe we shouldn't see each other again until things cool down at home." She heard Raul let out a sigh of relief, "I was just about to tell you that I thought that would be a pretty good idea. See, now we even think alike!" Raul chuckled on the other end of the phone, relieved that Mac seemed to be okay with the idea. "I'm sure it will only take a day or so, how about I call you tomorrow night to make plans for this week at school?  Mac, are you sure that this is okay?" Mac smiled to herself, Raul was consistent, always concerned, and always faithful. "It's fine, Raul. I'm positive. I'll talk to you tomorrow night then." "Okay, Mac talk to you then, bye." "Bye."

Mac hung up the phone. She knew she should have told Raul the story about Crimson Lights and the supposed great power failure, but she just couldn't bring herself to just yet. Everything from last night was like one big blur in her head and she needed a little time to get things straight in her head. Every second accounted for. One thing Mac could always count on in her life was her knack for organization. All the facts had to be in order in everything that she did. It was the one constant she relied on to keep her sanity in the sometimes insane situations that always seemed to appear in her life. One fact check that she was dreading, though, Billy. She knew she had to speak to him before he spoke to too many more people, so their stories would match exactly. Just why this was so important to her was still a mystery. Why did she care if Billy Abbott got into more trouble? He certainly never seemed to want to avoid it. Mac chalked it up to her need for completeness in everything. The need for the order she craved in her life would not be complete unless there was closure. The whole point in making up the lie was to avoid trouble. If Billy got into more trouble it would just be one more event that

she couldn't control. Mac rationalized her situation this way in her head, but she knew deep in her heart that the real reason was because of who was in trouble, not the trouble itself. If she could do nothing else for Billy, she could do this.


Chapter 9

Billy opened his eyes and quickly shut them again. The sunlight streaming through the large windows in his bedroom was blinding. His tongue felt like it was covered in fur and his head was screaming like Limp Bizkit at full volume. Other than that, everything seemed to be fine. He made another attempt at opening his eyes again, slowly this time. His eyes gradually adjusted and he slowly sat up in bed, rubbing his chin He dreaded having to shave. He ran his fingers through his hair, making it stick up in all different directions. He lay back down against the pillows trying to will himself back to sleep. The dream he had been having was a variation on the same dream he had been having for quite some time. It was about Mac. Sometimes the location changed; the school, coffeehouse, and the stables where he had been with Brittany. Except Brittany never appeared in any of his dreams. Just Mac. The Mac in his dreams was the same as the real life Mac, except in his dreams she loved him. They went everywhere together without a trace of Raul in sight. And she loved him. In his dreams she told him. He held her and kissed her, not like he kissed her last night, but the way she should be kissed; passionately, deeply and freely. Billy sat back up and sighed. Only in your dreams, bud, only in your dreams. He slowly pushed the covers back and got out of bed. He stood up and was about to head for the shower when the phone next to the bed rang and he ran to pick it up if only to stop the ringing that was threatening to make his head explode.

"Hello," he croaked. "Billy?" Oh great, Jill. "Hi, Ma, what's up?" "Billy, you sound awful, is everything okay? I heard about your little attempt at chivalry last night with the street urchin. You're not getting sick are you he said to himself? "Billy froze. Exactly what did his mom know? "Ma, what are you talking about? I don't know why everybody is making such a big deal about this. It was nothing." Jill smiled. Her son was making her prouder every day. "Don't say it was nothing, I mean, I don't know exactly what happened, but I know that you did something to help that awful little creature. Not that she deserves it, but if you want to fill me in on the details I would really love to hear about it."

Billy was silent. How could he fill Jill in on the details when he didn't know them himself? He had to talk to Mac first. "Ah, Ma I'm sorry, but I've got some stuff to do today. How about tomorrow? Whatever you want." Jill spoke. "Oh? Plans with Brittany I hope. You know she really is such a lovely girl. I'm so happy that the two of you seem to be getting so close." Billy remembered that he had indeed promised to call Brittany today. "Yeah Ma, big plans. A phone call at the very least." Jill laughed. "Okay, okay, I get the idea. I'll lay off, but I really do want to hear the story of last night heroics. I'll expect you tomorrow about 3 for dinner, okay? The Addams Family should be at the shelter performing good deeds, so we can have a little peace and quiet. Sound good?" "Sure Ma, whatever. I'll see you tomorrow then, bye"

"Bye, sweetheart, see you tomorrow. Don't forget." Click. Billy hung up the phone, shaking his head.

His mother was a trip sometimes, but he could have kicked himself for letting her talk about Mac that way although it was probably better if she thought he didn't care at all. Makes it easier on Mac that way too.

The phone ringing again interrupted his thoughts. He picked it up and said, "Ma, I told you I would be there." "Billy?" He was startled to hear Mac's voice on the other end. The old tone of her voice was back, not the soft, gentle voice he remembered from last night. "Sorry," he answered, " my Mom just hung up. Well, you know how she is sometimes, I thought it was her calling back. How are you? Is anything wrong? I mean about last night." Mac hesitated a moment and then said, "Well, that's exactly why I'm calling. I mean I don't want to bother you or anything and if you have other plans it's no big deal, but I really think we need to get together to compare stories to make sure that everything checks out before we tell too many more people about this. Would that be all right? I have to work tonight, but if you want to do it before then we could." Billy paused and thought a moment. "I've got an idea. What about if I meet you at your house at the stables? Would anyone be there in about an hour?" Mac thought for a second. "No, it's really too cold to ride today and the weather says it might snow. No, no one would know we were there."

She thought about the last time she was in the stables, when she had listened in on Billy and Brittany's conversation about her. "That would be fine." Billy answered, "Okay, I'll meet you in the stables in about an hour and Mac?" "Yes?" "Thanks again for everything I mean. " "Sure, see you in an hour, bye. " "Bye." Billy hung up and headed for the shower. He had to step if he wanted to get dressed and out of the house before more questions came from his family.


Chapter 10

Mac paced up and down between the horse stalls. Where the hell was Billy? Right after she hung up she had called Cody to check her schedule for tonight. He said that if she could make it in a little earlier than normal it would really be a help. The two people that called in sick were still sick and he really needed the extra help. She said that she would try to make it in as soon as she could.  He thanked her profusely and hung up. Mac wondered why this seemingly unimportant part time job had become so important to her. She thought it was because it allowed her to retain her independence, not having to ask her grandmother or dad for money every two seconds. Or was it because Billy hung out at Crimson Lights at lot? Mostly with Brittany and that idiot JT, but he was still around at lot and sometimes when no one was looking she could swear that she could feel his eyes burning holes into the back of her head. Sure enough, when she turned to look at him he was looking right back at her as if trying to read her face. Then he would quickly turn away and join in on the cackling of JT and his faithful followers.

 The sound of the door opening startled her out of her thoughts. Billy stood in the doorway and Mac's heart skipped a little as she looked at him. His face was flushed from the cold. He wore a black leather jacket with a heavy red turtleneck underneath and black pants. It was very J Crew. He smiled at her and walked inside. "Hi, Mac, sorry it took me so long. I waited until I heard my Dad leave the house. I didn't want to explain any more until we talked." He looked at her. Her hair was hanging straight down like a silk curtain, her almond shaped eyes peeked out at him under a small black floppy hat, black turtleneck, black jacket and jeans. Not an ounce of makeup on her face that slightly olive skin seemed to radiate warmth. He wanted to reach out and touch her skin, smell that vanilla. She spoke "It's okay, I just was starting to get worried. You know if maybe someone started asking questions or something." She held out her hand to him. "You forgot these last night." His gloves, that's where they were. No wonder he couldn't find them this morning. He took them from her and their fingers brushed against each other sending that electric charge through both of them again. "Thanks," he said. She smiled slightly and said, "Sure, no problem." She turned to walk over to the hay bales and sat down. He followed her, unsure of whether or not to join her. He chose to stand unless she said it was okay to sit.

She looked up at him and said, "So where do we start?" "Well, first of all, why don't you start with telling me exactly what you told my Dad when you called him last night? And while you're at it, when exactly was it that you made that phone call? 'Cause I sure don't remember it." Her laugh had a slight edge to it. "I'm amazed that you remember anything at all about last night." She paused as she remembered what happened right after she had made that phone call. "You had fallen asleep, so I got out of bed, and took the phone into the bathroom and made the call. I must have been exhausted because the minute I got back to bed I fell asleep until the dream. Anyway, I told your father about the stuff that happened at the coffeehouse. I tried not to get real specific because I was sort of making it up as I went along. You know? The only details I gave him were that the power went out and that you insisted on staying with me until it came back on. You helped me lock up. We called a cab and it dropped me off first, then it took you home. If we stick to that story we should be fine. The time difference. My Dad heard us come in at about 1:00 a.m. and your Dad found you coming in at about 4:30. I'm just guessing based on the time you left my house. How do we account for the difference in times?" Billy looked down at her, amazed, "Wow, you really have thought this whole thing out, haven't you? I don't know, um give me a minute, will ya? My excuses are usually just lame. I really don't plan this stuff too well, ya know." He smiled at her. She looked up at him and said rather softly, " I know, Billy, but I'm not used to lying.  So, I guess I'm not really that good at it yet. All I know is that everything has to be covered. I don't want your mother staging the Spanish inquisition over this and see me fumbling all over the place trying to make up stuff. I'm sorry, but you know how she is sometimes." She looked down and his smile faded. "I know and I'm sorry. She really has no right to treat you that way. If I thought I could do anything to stop it I would, Mac. I don't want to make things harder on you. "She looked up at him, studying his face, trying to read just what that remark meant. She stood up and began to walk back and forth. "Billy, I could care less what your mother thinks of me. I just hate it when she talks to Raul and me as if we were dirt under her shoes. I hate it, but that still doesn't answer my question. How are we going to account for those 3 1/2 hours?" She turned her head to look at him and he thought he could briefly see humiliation and shame on her face, but she dropped her mask of defiance down quickly to cover it. He thought about it for a second and walked closer to her.

"I don't know. Maybe I could just say that the cab broke down on the way to my house and I had to wait until another one came.  The driver made call after call and after an hour and a half, I called another company. They said they couldn't send a car because of how late it was.  So I looked for the nearest bus stop and waited there for a while. After about a half-hour, I remembered that I was no longer in the city that never sleeps and that the buses had probably stopped running hours ago. Then I walked the rest of the way home. Because it was so cold and windy it took me about an hour. That covers 3 hours, but I could always expand any of the other times to fit the equation." He smiled to let her know that the last remark was a gentle joke. She looked at him, " I'm glad you think this whole thing is a big joke, Billy. What the hell was I thinking? Covering for you like that? Who cares wha. "Whoa, slow down, look, I'm sorry, okay? I was just trying to lighten the situation a little, ya know? God, you are sooo serious all the time. Don't you ever just lighten up and have a little fun?" Mac cringed visibly at that last line. "I know exactly what you think of me and how serious I am. I'm sure Brittany and you have a lot of laughs about it all the time but," "Wait a minute, who said anything about Brittany? Why would you think Brittany and I talk about you? Are you paranoid now on top of everything else?" Billy could have ripped his tongue out after he said that. "What do you mean 'everything else?' What else do you think I'm lacking? I mean besides being "sooo serious" and what was the word you used with Miss Britt? Boring?" Mac slapped her hand over her mouth. "What do you mean, the word I used with Brittany? When did you hear me talking about you with Bri?" Billy paused.

She had to mean the night of the dance, right here in these stables. Mac turned away from him so he couldn't see the tears that welled up in her eyes. He walked up and stood right behind her. There was that vanilla again. The sweetness of it distracted him for a second. He put his hand on her shoulder and even through her heavy coat, he could feel her warmth pulsing through his hand. "Mac," he said softly. "Were you here in the stables that night of the dance? I mean when Britt and I were here and," he remembered the things he had said that night about her. How boring she was and uninteresting and how he only spent time with her because of Raul and how he felt sorry for her. God, she must really hate him. No wonder things have been so weird since then. He dropped his hand from her shoulder. She refused to turn around and kept her back to him while she spoke  "Yes, I was here, but I wasn't eavesdropping. Raul and I had an argument about you and your stupid friends and he went back up to the house. I was just about to follow him when I heard you and Brittany come in. I didn't want you guys to know that we had an argument. That would have given you joke material for a week. So I hid behind the stalls. She waved her right arm in the general direction of where she had hidden. While you guys were making out, I sneaked out. No big deal. I'm sorry I overheard anything and I never would have told you. It just slipped out because I was so angry. That story you told sounds fine, Billy. Just stick with it and I think everything will be okay. I'll stick with mine and hopefully this whole thing will be forgotten by Monday. I've gotta go." She turned around and he saw the remnants of the tears that had fallen. "You know your way out." She ran to the door and flung it open. Once on the other side, she let the tears fall freely. Facts checked, closure achieved, she ran to the path that led to the house.

Billy stood in the stables for a few minutes after Mac had left. He hung his head and let out a deep breath. "Well, now, that explains a lot," he said aloud. God, Billy, when are you ever not a jerk? No wonder she couldn't stand him. She thought that he pitied her. Thought that he was like his Mom, thinking she wasn't good enough for him, but why the hell did she go through all this garbage to try to help him? It didn't make any sense. Unless, nah, no way could she be interested in him. Could she? Could that be why she was always so cold and distant whenever he was with Brittany? Jealousy, maybe. Billy pushed that thought from his head. She probably just didn't want to start anything between him and Raul. Whatever it was, Billy was going to make sure and find out. One way or the other, starting tomorrow with dinner. He would make sure Mac was there and that he got a chance to talk to her. But first, Brittany. Billy wasn't sure exactly what to make of Brittany or his relationship with her for that matter. Sure she was hot and actually a pretty sweet girl, but truth be told, she was the one that was boring. Pretty and hot were about it once you scratched the surface. That's all there was to it. Lots of talk about friends and booze and how to get it. Where to vacation and what kind of ski boots to buy, but not much else. He remembered when he had asked Jack about connecting with someone. He had been talking about Mac, but Jack didn't know that. Jack had said that for him, at least, if he didn't feel the connection right away, it would probably never happen. Everybody was different. Billy had hoped that connection that he felt with Mac from the moment he saw her standing in Mrs. Chancellor's living room that it would happen with Brittany. He now knew that it wouldn't happen for him, at least not with Brittany. But for now, he had to keep things going with her until he found out what was up with Mac. His mother would have a stroke if he even told her he was thinking about breaking up with Brittany. Status Quo for now. He walked out of the stables thinking about how he was going to explain to Mac what he told Brittany. He would make her see that he didn't mean it, but then what? Where do they go from there? And what about Raul, his best friend since his middle school days? How the hell could he tell him that he's in love with his girlfriend? Billy closed the barn door behind him.

All of this stuff was gonna have to wait. He looked at his watch. Brittany probably called the house 4 times by now. He was dreading telling her the story of last night, the inevitable questions. He got in the car and turned the key. 'Might as well get it over with.'

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