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

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Y&R Mac & Billy FanFiction "CRUSH" By Donna

Proofread by Kamarie

Chapter 21

Mac opened her eyes slowly. Once her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she realized where she was. She smelled leather, Billy's jacket. Why was his arm around her? She looked around. His right arm was around her, clutching protectively. His chest was pillowing her head and shoulders, his chin resting on the top of her head. How did this happen? "Billy" she whispered.  "Hmm, five more minutes, Dad, five more min," Billy," she said louder, "Wake up, will you? I can't move." Billy's eyes opened and he breathed in a contented sigh while shutting his eyes again and tightening his arms around her. "Billy!" she said loudly. His eyes shot open and realizing his position, he released her, reluctantly. "Sorry" he said, "You feel asleep and you kept kinda falling over. I was worried you would hit your head or something so I" "It's okay. What time is it?" "About 2:45; we should be in Chicago in about 15 minutes. Good thing you woke me up. Wouldn't wanna end up back in the bus terminal in Genoa City." Everything all right?" he asked quietly.

She replied "I'm fine. I'm just thinking about everybody back home. They must have called out the National Guard by now. Do you think the cops will be waiting for us in Chicago?" His smile was tinged with irony, "I don't think that anybody at my house has missed me yet, but your family. We're just gonna have to be real careful when we get off the bus. We gonna have to get some new clothes too when we get there. They probably described the ones we have on to the police. First thing, though, get a motel. Get some decent sleep and some food." She looked at him; he seemed to have this whole thing figured out. "How long do you think this will take? I mean how long before we can go home?" The look on her face nearly broke Billy's heart. Poor kid, she just found her home and now she had to leave it." I don't know Mac. All I know is that we have gotta find out the real story behind this Jacob. What he did to you, before we can do anything else. But we'll do that, I promise" She nodded " I know. I believe you. I'm just worried about what could happen to you if we were caught tonight. You took such a big risk, I don't know how I can ever repay you for this." He took her hand and patted it gently "Let's just call the debt off, okay? I mean you bailed me out last night. Let's just say that I'm returning the favor."

The bus pulled into the terminal and lurched to a stop. "Last stop, Chicago. Please enjoy your stay and thank you for choosing Trailways." The driver's voice crackled over the microphone. "That's us." he said and took her hand, pulling her gently to her feet. "You ready?" she could only nod. "Just stick close to me, Mac keep your eyes open for police or anybody else that looks familiar, okay?" she nodded again. They walked up the aisle and off the bus, Billy holding her against him protectively, looking around for the police. He deemed it safe and walked into the terminal. It was huge and teeming with people, even at this hour of the morning. Billy relaxed a little. It should be easy to disappear for a while here.

He spotted an information desk a little way in front of them and they walked toward it. Mac was shaking and unable to speak. She followed along with Billy, trying to keep up with his long strides. A middle-aged man was working behind the counter. He looked up and asked, "Can I help you?" Billy smiled and said, " I hope so. My fiancée and I just got in, a little sightseeing trip, you know and we really don't have too much money. Can you recommend a hotel in the area that won't break us?  Something close by. We really want to walk around here, get to know the place." The man pulled out a book. 'Chicago on five dollars a day'. "This should help," he smiled, handing it to Billy. "There are a lot of hotels around here, in fact, there's one just up the street. A Marriott, I think.  Might not be that cheap, but it'll probably do just for tonight. Hang on, let me check. He turned to his computer and punched in some information. "Yup, a Marriott. Just go out the main entrance, make a left and head up the street, it's about a block up." Billy smiled. "Thank you, that's great, just what we were looking for." He looked down and Mac, "Isn't it sweetie?" She looked at the man behind the counter and smiled. "Thank you." The man returned her smile and said, "You're both very welcome. Have fun in Chicago." Billy took the book and headed them both toward the front door. "We made it baby," he whispered, "hang on, just one more stop." He grabbed her tighter to him and they walked up the street toward the hotel and their unknown future.


Chapter 22

Billy and Mac walked up the steps of the hotel together. He opened the door and motioned for her to go inside, looking behind them for any signs of the police. The hotel was jammed; the lobby was fairly bursting at the seams with people. He grabbed Mac by the hand and walked up to the main desk. The clerk was a little overwhelmed by the amount of people and was frantically searching for something when they approached him. "I'll be right with you," he smiled. "Where the hell is that pen? It was just here, stupid thing, damn it." He lifted a pile of papers. "There it is!" He smiled at them." Sorry, it's just been insane around here tonight, Cubs fan convention in town, you know". Billy looked puzzled. "Cubs convention? In the middle of winter?" he asked. "Of course, it's always in the winter." He looked at Billy like he was from another planet. "If it were in the summer, you might miss a game." Geez, where did this kid come from anyway? "How can I help you?"

Billy replied, "We'd like a room please." The clerk looked at Billy, and then at Mac, who was doing her best to keep her face concealed from view by burying it in Billy's shoulder. "Just one?" eyeing the both of them suspiciously "Yes, just one.  Is there a problem?" Billy asked. "Well, first off, I don't know if we have any rooms left. Second you two look underage, third." Billy leaned in before he could continue, "Look, mister, we just ran away to get married. We love each other. Is that a crime?" he whispered. The clerk smiled knowingly. "Ah, young love, yeah I remember when I married my third wife," he gazed dreamily into space. Mac buried her face further into Billy' shoulder to stifle her laughter. Billy looked down at her and bit his lip to keep from laughing. He turned back to the clerk, who was still in space. "Sir, sir, eh, excuse me." The clerk snapped back to reality, "Yeah, well too bad that was three wives ago," he sighed deeply. "Where were we? Oh yeah, a room. Let me check. He turned to the computer. "Let's see, well, now isn't this appropriate? We have one room left, the honeymoon suite, guess the only place Cub fans honeymoon is at Wrigley Field. I tell you what. I'll make you a deal. Since it's so late, I'll let you have it for the same rate as a regular room. Consider it an early wedding present," he smiled.

Billy forced his lips into a smile. "Great," he said weakly. "How much will that be?" "$75.00." Mac poked him in the ribs hard. He let out an "oomph" and said to the clerk "Just ignore her, she thinks I spend too much money. In fact, that's why we hadda run away." He leaned in again. "She's loaded, I mean, her family is anyway." The clerk raised his eyebrows, "Really?" Billy nodded. "Her family thinks I'm only after her money. I mean, do I look like the kinda guy who would be after her money?" The clerk leaned back and sized him up. Expensive clothes, perfect haircut, pricey watch on his wrist. "Oh, no, of course not," he said, "absolutely not."

He looked at Mac with a touch of pity. Poor kid, not bad looking, kinda plain, stuck with a gigolo like this. Oh well, it was none of his business. He had his own problems, and if he didn't get finished and get home soon, he might be looking for wife number 7 soon.

"Let me just get the keys for you." He walked over to the key rack and was about to ring the bell for the bellman when Billy grabbed his hand. "Uh, that's okay, we don't have any luggage. This trip was kinda spur of the moment." The clerk smiled knowingly, 'spur of the moment, my butt.' He handed the Billy the keys and winked, "Room 1723. Have fun." Billy smiled and winked back, "Thanks." He grabbed Mac and hustled her away from the desk.

"What was that?" she hissed. "Are you crazy? The honeymoon suite? $75.00?  What were you thinking? We can't stay here. We, you said we were gonna have to be careful about money." She stopped in mid-rant to find Billy grinning at her. "What are you smiling about?" He folded his arms across his chest. "I thought you were gonna shut up and let me do all the talking. That didn't last long, huh?" She blushed and looked down at her shoes. He put his arms on hers and said, "It's after three in the morning. It's only for one night, c'mon." He leaned in close to her face. "No one said we couldn't have a little fun, I promise to be as serious as you want, starting tomorrow." He crossed his heart and Mac couldn't help but laugh. "Okay, okay, but only because it's late and I'm about to fall down right here." She walked to the elevator and pushed the up button. The doors opened and she got in, followed by a wide grinned Billy.


Chapter 23

The elevator doors opened slowly. Mac and Billy stepped into the quiet darkened hallway, looking at the numbers on the doors."1721, 1722." He stopped in front of the door with the brass plaque on it, "1723, honeymoon suite." He put the key in the lock and opened the door. When she tried to enter, he put his arm across the door, blocking her entry. She looked up at him. "Shouldn't I carry you over the threshold?" he said, grinning like a fool. She smirked at his attempt at levity and swiped his arm away. He followed her and closed the door, locking it behind him.

He stayed by the door, watching Mac, who was looking around the room in amazement. He looked around the room. It was huge. It had beige floor to ceiling drapes at the far end. There was deep soft beige carpeting on the floor. Peach colored walls, soft, discreet lighting. She walked over to a small, peach colored silk sofa that had a small end table next to it and held a large vase filled with peach and cream roses. She fingered one of the petals as she walked by, leaning over to take a deep sniff of their fragrance. An open door was next to it.  He followed as she wandered, as if in a trance, inside. In the center of the room was a king-sized bed covered with an antique lace coverlet. The covers were turned back to expose the lace-covered pillows underneath. A small night table stood next to the bed, with a small lamp and telephone on it. More beige drapes covered the window on the opposite end of the room. Billy stood in the doorway as she wandered speechless through the room, fingering the coverlet, touching the lace of the pillows. "Is something wrong?" he asked softly. She shook her head, unable to speak. "It's so beautiful," she whispered.

 "So's the Chancellor house and you live there. What's the difference?" Billy asked the question, but already knew the answer. She was right, the place was beautiful, but it was more than that. The room virtually vibrated romance, love, passion and sex. "You know the difference, Billy," she looked at him. "This room was meant to celebrate. You know," her face reddened. "Not a place for somebody like me." He walked over to where she stood. "Stop that!" He shook her gently, "Why not you? I mean, haven't you ever pictured getting married and having a honeymoon in a place like this?" He swept his arm around the room. "Those things can't happen for girls like me, Billy." She looked at him with such sadness that he felt his heart clench into a fist. "Why Mac, who did this to you? Who told you that?" She looked at him. He couldn't ever know. "No one told me. I just know that stuff like that never happens to girls like me. I'm not saying that I'll never get married. I probably will. It just won't be like this that's all."

He looked at her. She was lying, he knew it, but now was not the time to start revealing secrets. "Listen, I'm exhausted, I'm gonna look in the closet and see if there's anything we can wear to sleep in, okay?" She nodded, pulling off her coat and hat, wincing when her jacket caught on her injured hand. She walked into the bathroom that adjoined the room. Peach again, with a large round bathtub in the center and a small shower stall off to one side. Large lighted mirrors surrounded the tub and a large marble vanity was to the left. She walked over to the vanity table. It was covered small bottles and jars. She opened one and sniffed it, vanilla, her favorite. Billy appeared in the doorway." I found these in the closet," he held up two terrycloth robes and handed her one. "I'll get outta here now and let you get changed."

He walked out and closed the door. He walked through the bedroom and out to the front room. He heard the shower running and sat on the sofa and held his head in his hands. Someone told her that she wasn't good enough. Who was it? Her mother? Her stepfather?  Mac barely spoke about either. He would find out why she felt that way. How could she think she didn't deserve a place like this? She deserved all this and more. Billy's thoughts wandered. Mac, in that room, in that beautiful bed with him. Her smile beckoning him closer. Her bare shoulders gleaming in the soft light, arms outstretched, "love me, Billy, please." He squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. Can't think like that. Too much stuff to do.

"Billy?" Mac appeared next to the sofa. He looked up at her drying the damp ends of her hair with a towel, wearing the bathrobe. The movement of her arms pulled apart the front of the robe exposing her neck. The smell of vanilla coming off her was intoxicating him. "Billy? You okay?" He stood up and smiled. In her bare feet she was much smaller than usual, the top of her head reaching just to his shoulder. He nodded, " How about you? Feel better?" She smiled sadly, "Sure, the shower is great. I just came out to tell you that I'm done and I'm going to bed." She turned to walk into the bedroom. "Mac," he stopped her and she turned to look back at him. "We, uh haven't discussed the sleeping arrangements. I mean you can have the bed, no problem there. I thought that I would take this sofa." He looked down at it and guessed it to be about 3 feet shorter than he was. She shook her head. "No, Billy, after everything you've done for me I can't make you sleep on that. It wouldn't be fair. Besides, we slept in the same bed last night. What's one more night?" She walked into the bedroom and got into bed. "Just shut the lights when you're finished, and goodnight, Billy." She laid her head down on the pillow. Billy picked up the robe and walked quietly into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. He picked up the towel she had been drying her hair with and held it to his face, inhaling deeply. That familiar smell. Billy knew he would never smell vanilla again and not think of her. He took off his clothing and turned on the shower and stepped inside. He showered quickly, pushing the thoughts of Mac in bed in the next room out of his head. He turned the water to cold, braced himself and stepped underneath it. That should do it for now.

Mac lay in the big bed alone, attempting sleep. She tried to erase the pictures running through her mind. Billy in the next room, in the shower. She heard the water stop. Another couple of seconds passed and the light in the bathroom clicked shut softly. She closed her eyes, feigning sleep. Billy walked around the bed to the other side. He looked down at her; her cheek was against the pillow, so peaceful. He pulled back the covers and climbed in next to her. He leaned over, shut out the light from the lamp next to the bed and eased back on his elbows. He leaned over and kissed her gently on the forehead. "Sweet dreams, Mackenzie. Only sweet dreams tonight. "He rolled over onto his side, away from her, not seeing the tears now streaming down her cheeks.


Chapter 24

Mac awoke from sleep on her side, slightly disoriented. Where was she? The events of last night came filtering back to her slowly. The honeymoon suite. She tried to roll over onto her back, but something warm stopped her. She reached behind her. Billy. Somehow during the night he had spooned up behind her. His arms wrapped tightly around her waist, his face nuzzled down into her neck. Once again, their bare feet were entwined.  She ran her calf along his, enjoying the slightly rough feel of the hair on his legs against her smooth skin. She could get used to this, waking up like this every day. She fell back into a peaceful sleep.

Billy froze as Mac was rubbing her leg against his. Slowly up and down his calf. Her smooth skin against his was making him crazy. Please stop, Mac, please. She stopped and he raised his head to look at her as she slept again. He put his face back into the curve of her neck. He could get used to this, waking up like this every day. He promptly fell back asleep again.

They hadn't been asleep for more than ten minutes when there was a knock on the door. Billy jumped as if a gun went off. He leaped out of bed and whispered, "Don't say a word," and closed the door. He sprinted to the front door, "Who is it?" "Room service" was the answer from the other side of the door. "We didn't order any room service," he answered. "It's complimentary, Sir. Part of the honeymoon suite package." Billy opened the door a crack. A young man, probably just a little older than he, was wearing a white waiter's jacket and looked back at him. He opened the door wider. The young man pushed the cart into the room with a smile. On it was breakfast for two with a vase in the center that held a single white rose. "Would you like me to set it up for you, Sir?" He folded his hands together in front of him, waiting for a response. Billy shook his head and smiled, "No thanks. I think I can handle it from here." He picked up his jacket, fished his wallet out of the pocket and pulled out a five-dollar bill, "Here you go. And thanks." The young man smiled and said, "Thanks and congratulations." He left, closing the door behind him.

Billy opened the lid on one of the plates. It was croissants. He put it down and lifted another, it was fruit. There was a small pot of coffee and a small pitcher of orange juice. A soft knocking came from inside the bedroom door,  "Billy?" Mac whispered. "It's okay Mac, he's gone. You can come out." The door opened and Mac walked in. Spying the table with the food on it, she asked, "What's all this? " He smiled at her, "Compliments of the hotel. How cool is this? Free breakfast with the honeymoon suite. I guess they figure most people in this room never leave it long enough to eat. Sorry, but, well you know what I mean. Hungry?" he asked. She nodded. He said, "Allow me," and took her elbow and led her over to the table by the window. He pulled out one of the chairs and said. "Be seated, Miss." She laughed and sat down. He walked over to the cart and pulled a napkin out, draping it over his bent arm as if he were a waiter in some old movie. "What would you prefer today, Miss? We have croissants and fruit, juice and coffee?" He smiled at her. She decided to play along." Is that it? What, no champagne?  What an insult. I really must have my husband complain about the service in this hotel," she stopped and looked down, blushing. Maybe she shouldn't have said that. "M'am, I can see you are a woman of exquisite taste," he replied. "Your husband is a very lucky man," he added softly. "So" he was playing again. "Given the limited choices, what will it be?" "Croissants, please and some coffee." He clasped his hands together. "An excellent choice. I was right about your taste." He looked at her intensely, exquisite. He brought the plate over to her and placed it down in front of her. "Thank you," she whispered softly.

He smiled and walked to the cart and got himself a plate and the coffeepot and brought them to the table. He sat down and said, "Go ahead, eat. You've gotta be famished. I know I am." He proceeded to tear into his food. She looked at him eating like a condemned man and realized she could look at that sight every day for the rest of her life, and be perfectly content to see Billy every morning. Having him be there every night. She sighed deeply. Yeah, like that could ever happen. Don't start to slip here, Mac, don't start wishing for stuff that you know you can never have. She could never be a part of his world no matter how much she wanted to be. "Why aren't you eating?" Billy stopped inhaling his food for a moment and looked at her, holding a croissant in her hand and deep in thought "Hello. Better start eating before I eat it all!" He waved a hand in front of her face. She snapped out of it. "Like I'd let you." and began eating. When they were done they put all the dishes back on the cart. "Billy," Mac began, "what are we gonna do today?" He placed the empty coffee cup down on the tray. " First thing we're gonna do is find a cheaper place to stay. Somewhere more out of the way, you know? Where it won't be so easy to find us. Then we get some clothes in case somebody described the ones we have now to the police. Then we start searching." He paused, "Searching for what?" "Searching for information on our dead man, Jacob. Look, I'll go get dressed .Go pay the bill, I'd like to get a newspaper and see if it says anything about what happened last night." He left the room and a moment later Mac heard the shower running. She walked into the bedroom, once again touching the pillows, fingering the beautiful lace coverlet, and picking up her clothing from where she placed it last night. She hated to leave this room; it felt almost safe here. What would happen to them once they did?

The sound of water stopped and the bathroom door opened. Billy emerged with a towel over his head, rubbing his hair dry.  Mac dropped the clothing from her arms. Billy was wearing just a towel, slung low around his lean hips. His chest still had little droplets of water clinging to it. Mac stood, as if mesmerized. She had seen him in a bathing suit before, but this was different. His legs were long, and the long muscles in his thighs flexed as he walked casually into the room, still unaware of her presence. She was fascinated by the way his abdominal muscles moved under his skin as he lifted his arms, rubbing the towel back and forth over his hair. He looked like the pictures she had seen of male models in magazines. He finished drying his hair and the towel dropped from in front of his face. He wrapped it around his neck and held it there with his hands, looking around the room for where he had left his clothes. He blushed as he spotted her. "Oh shoot, Mac, I'm sorry. I didn't know you were in here. I never would have come," She dropped to her knees, picking up her clothing, "It's okay. I'm sorry, I should have warned you. I just came in here to get my clothes," she walked past him with her head down and walked into the front room. Billy walked over to the chair where he had left his clothing the night before. How long had she been standing there? He hoped that she didn't think he walked in on her deliberately. Her face was all flushed and embarrassed he guessed. He put on his clothes and went into the front room.

Mac was sitting on the sofa waiting for her heartbeat to become somewhat regular again. 'Stop it. Stop it right now, Mackenzie. He's not yours, he never will be. Get over it right now.' For the first time since last night, Mac thought about Raul. Would seeing him the way she just saw Billy give her this kind of reaction? Maybe, but Mac knew deep down that it wasn't just the idea of an almost naked guy 5 feet away from her. It was that the almost naked guy was Billy. That's why she had trouble remembering to breathe when she saw him. He walked into the room, fully dressed this time, and walked over to the chair to get his jacket. "I'm gonna head downstairs now and settle everything up. It shouldn't take too long. Will you be dressed and ready when I get back?" She nodded. "Please be careful, Billy. I can't do this by myself." He walked over to her and took her hand. "I'll be right back. Promise. Safe and sound. "He let go of her hand and walked over to the door checking to make sure it would lock when he closed it. He waved his hand and walked into the hallway, closing the door behind him. Once outside, he checked the lock one more time and headed toward the elevator.

The elevator doors opened and Billy walked over to the main lobby desk. The same clerk that was there last night was there. He looked up at Billy and smiled, "How was the honeymoon?" he asked with a wink. Billy looked down and grinned, " Everything I could have imagined and more. It was indescribable." The clerk's grin widened, "That good huh?" Billy leaned in and whispered "I'm not afraid of dying anymore because now I know what heaven looks like. I was there last night." Billy was surprised to see the clerk eyes fill with tears. "That is sooo beautiful. Do you mind if I write that down? Just a second." He pulled out a pad and jotted it down. "Hope you don't mind, but when you've been married 6 times, it's kinda hard to come up with a new line now and then." Billy chuckled and said, "I'd like to settle the bill and check out if I can." "Sure you wanna leave?" the clerk asked. Billy looked serious for a moment. "I'd stay in that room with her the rest of my life if I could, but we've gotta lotta stuff to do, places to see."  

Billy noticed the clerk writing on the pad again, but decided to ignore it. The clerk looked at the pad, sighed and took Billy's money to pay the bill. He came back to collect the keys and said, "All set, good luck to you and your fiancée. I think, somehow that you two are gonna make it." He extended his hand and Billy shook it and thanked him. "One more thing. Is there a newsstand around here? I'd like to get a newspaper." "Right out front," he answered. "Thanks again," and he walked out to the front of the building. The newsstand was a large one.  He bought a Sun-Times and a Tribune. He brought them back into the building and headed back to the elevator.

Mac had just finished dressing when there was a knock on the door. "Mac, open up." She recognized Billy's voice and went to open the door. "We can leave whenever you're ready," he said as he walked in. "I just wanna check these first," he showed her the Newspapers, "and see if they say anything about last night." He walked over to the table and put the papers down on it. "Here," he handed her the Sun-Times. "You check this one and I'll check this one," as he patted The Tribune. She sat down and opened the newspaper, turning the pages slowly. Nothing so far. She spotted something and turned back one page. "Billy," she whispered.


Chapter 25

"What?" he got up and leaned over her shoulder, looking at the newspaper spread out in front of her. She pointed to a small picture, almost buried in the lower right hand corner of page 15. The headline read, "Local singer found dead in Genoa City." He picked up the paper and began reading aloud. "Jacob Marsh, 24, was found dead early this morning in a coffee house in Genoa City, Wisconsin, local police reported. A blow apparently had killed him to the back of his head. No other details were available at press time. Local police are searching for a young female employee who was scheduled to be alone in the club after closing. Due to her age, her name was not released. Mr. Marsh had appeared at the club last night with his band called 'The Juice'. The band was a regular at a Chicago club called Blue Night." "Is that it?" Mac asked. He nodded. "Okay, they found him, that much we know. Your family is probably out looking for you as well as the police."

He paced up and down, thinking out loud. He turned to look back at her. "It's okay, honey, really, at least we know now where we stand and we have a last name and a place to start finding out information." She got up and walked over to him. "They think I killed him, Billy. Why else would they be looking for me?" She began to cry. He gathered her to him and wrapped his arms around her. "Mac, I know this is rough business. I know that, but you've gotta trust me okay?" He pulled away from her to look at her face. "Trust me?" She nodded. He pulled her close again. "I won't let anything happen to you, I promise. We'll get this whole thing figured out, I swear. In fact, we better get started. Grab your stuff." She put on her coat and pulled her hat on low so that it half covered her face. "Good idea," he smiled. "Can't have every person on the street staring at my beautiful fiancée, huh? Might stop traffic." Mac's heart leapt a little. If only he meant it, if only he wasn't just try to make her forget about all this. If only he didn't have to worry about saving his life as well as her own. "Thanks," she whispered. He put his arm around her shoulders. "Just stating the facts, that's all. C'mon, let's get outta here." They walked to the door and he opened it and walked out into the hallway to ring for the elevator. Billy noticed Mac lingering in the doorway, still looking wistfully at the room. She slowly closed the door. The elevator doors opened and they stepped inside. Billy looked over at Mac and smiled. You'll be back here, Mackenzie, you'll have a honeymoon suite to call your own someday. I promise, and maybe, just maybe he would be the one to share it with her.

Jill was frantic, pacing back and forth in the living room, cell phone to her ear. "What do you mean, there's nothing you can do? Do you realize who I am? 48 hours? My son could be dead in 48 hours! Thanks for nothing. She threw the phone on the sofa. Damn it, where was Billy? She had a horrible thought. Could he have gotten drunk and driven home? No, John's car was found outside Crimson Lights last night, safe and sound. Crimson Lights. Jill smirked. Told you so, Katherine. Your precious granddaughter is now a murderer. This was even better than Jill could have hoped for. And now the little brat was gone, probably for good. Well, good riddance Jill thought. But where was Billy. A hideous thought flashed through her brain. Mac gone, Billy missing. Could they be together? Impossible.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the front door opening. Kay and Brock walked in, removing their coats. They had just come from the police station. Jill put on a face of concern. "Any news? Have they found her yet?" Brock shook his head. "Duchess, why don't you sit down. You look exhausted." Kay sat down on the sofa. "I just need to find Mackenzie, that's all." She held her head in her hands. Brock looked down at his mother and sat beside her, grasping her hands in his." I know, mother, and we will find her. I know that once we do, she'll explain this whole thing. I know she couldn't kill anyone." Jill put her hand over her face to stifle her laughter. "What will it take to convince you people? What? Videotape of her belting that kid in the head with that brick? I warned you that this would happen. When you take trash off the street, you never know," SMACK! The slap to the face snapped Jill's head back. Kay stood in front of her, her arms being held now from behind by Brock.

"Mother, please. Jill what did I tell you yesterday? Maybe you'd better worry about where your own son is instead of worrying about my daughter. Have you found him yet?" She shook her head, her hand still held to her stinging cheek. " I'm sure he'll be fine. Mother can I trust you not to kill her until I come back?" he smiled gently at Kay. She nodded and he let go of her arms. "I need to call Paul Williams, see if he can help us." He walked out of the room and up the stairs. Kay looked up at Jill who continued to pace back and forth across the room. "Jill, have you called that girl, what's her name? Bethany, Destiny? " "It's Brittany, and no, I haven't called her. I was just about to when you two came in. Maybe Billy's with her." She picked up the cell phone from the couch and went over to the table to get her purse. She pulled out a small address book and looked up Hodges. She threw down the book and dialed the number.

"Hello? Lorraine Hodges? Hi, this is Jill Abbott. Yes from the country club. How are you? How's Dexter? Oh good, dear I was wondering if I could speak to your daughter. Oh, it's just about the dinner this afternoon." Jill had called Brittany yesterday after speaking with Billy and asked her to join them for dinner here this afternoon. She told her not to say anything; it would be a nice surprise. "We'd love for you to join us next time, both you and Dexter. Oh hello, Brittany. I was just wondering, is Billy there? "  She paused and listened to Brittany tell her the events of last night. Her blood began boiling, but her voice remained calm. "Don't worry Brittany dear, I'm sure it was just a harmless little quarrel. Nothing to worry about. If you hear from him, you will give me a call, won't you? Yes, I will too, dear. Thank you." She threw the phone back to the couch, barely missing Kay. "He broke up with her!" Jill screamed at Kay, "Can you believe that? What is wrong with that boy? " She looked at Kay. "I'll bet that little granddaughter of yours had something to do with this. If I find out she did I will." Kay stood up and moved in close to Jill's face,  "You'll what Jill? Have a hemorrhage? Please do, you'll save all of us a lot of grief!" Kay snapped. "What makes you think Mackenzie had anything to do with this? Maybe Billy just decided he didn't care for Brittany that much after all. It's been known to happen, Jill."

Jill looked at Kay derisively. "She's perfect for him, he knows that, I've told him. He wouldn't just break up with her for no good reason, unless that little urchin has been doing something to break them up. Raul," she said. "I need you to call Raul right now" "Why on earth should I do that for you?" Kay asked her. "Because it might help you discover where your granddaughter went. She might have told him something."

Jill answered exasperated, "I already called Raul this morning." Kay said. "He hadn't seen Mac since Friday night and he had no idea where she could be. He said he was leaving to go look for her as soon as he hung up the phone. So your idea is pointless. You're just looking to cause more trouble, as if we needed it." Kay stepped closer to her." You worry about your lost child and I'll worry about mine." She left Jill to ponder her next move. Kay was by now convinced that Billy and Mac were together, but where? The shelter? No, someone would have called her by now, besides everyone there knew her. Her mother? Kay paused. This was a distinct possibility. Brock came down the stairs." Paul Williams is out of town on business until next week. Mother? What's wrong? Is it Mac? Did you hear anything?" Kay looked at him." No, Brock I haven't heard anything new, but I just thought, do you think Mackenzie would have gone to her mother's in St Louis?" Brock shook his head, "I thought so also, but then I remembered how she ran away from there, and about how much Amanda had changed since I knew her. No, mother. I mean we could double check, but I doubt Mac would go back there." "Brock," Kay started  "Don't you think it's possible that Billy and Mackenzie are together? I mean it just seems a little too coincidental, doesn't it? The two of them disappearing at the same time?" Brock nodded and leaned into her and whispered, " My thoughts exactly, although I can't figure out why." Kay spoke " I've suspected all along that Mackenzie was hiding something from us and it all began with that dance. Something happened that night and she slipped once and mentioned the name Billy something about how just when you think you have someone figured out they go and change on you again. I think that she has feelings for that boy."

Brock looked at her and answered, "Well, Duchess I hope you're right." she looked at him with surprise. " I think Billy is a good kid basically and at least Mac wouldn't be alone out there, you know? I know she's lived on the streets before and she thinks she can take care of herself, but whether she knows it or not, she's in way over her head this time."


Chapter 26

Billy opened the door to the motel room. They had found it listed in the book Billy got from the clerk at the bus station. The Chicago Arms.   He looked around and walked in and grimaced at the dinginess of the room. Mac didn't seem to notice. She walked in and sat down on the bed, quietly looking at him. "It's not too terrible is it?" he asked. "Billy," she smiled as she took off her hat. "Did you forget that I used to live on the street? Any place with a roof over it is a palace to me. It's fine, really." She tossed the hat on the bed. "Don't get too comfortable," he warned. "We gotta go right back out again and get some clothes, remember?" She nodded. She looked at the phone on the desk. He saw her looking at it and read her thoughts. "You're thinking about calling home aren't you?" She nodded, tears in her eyes. "Go ahead Mac, but just make it quick. We don't want to give anyone time to trace the call." She picked up the phone and dialed the Chancellor home.

Esther answered, "Chancellor Residence." Mac couldn't respond immediately and Esther repeated, "Chancellor Residence. Is anyone there?" "Esther," Mac said. "Mackenzie? where are you? Are you okay? Is. " Kay yanked the phone from Esther's hand. "Mackenzie? Is that you? Darling where are you? Let me come get you. We can get you out of this. " Mac whispered, "I'm fine Grandma, I love you and Dad. Just remember that okay?" and hung up the phone. Billy looked at the pain in her eyes and walked over to hug her. "You'll see them soon Mac." She looked up at him and nodded, "I know. I just wanted to let them know that I'm okay. Billy?" He looked down at her. "Will you do something for me?" He said, "Depends on what it is," he grinned and then became serious again "You know I will. What is it?"  "Call your Mom and let her know you're okay. Billy she must be worried sick, please." The look in her eyes told him that he couldn't say no. "All right, all right, but I'm gonna keep it as brief as you did."

He went over to the phone and placed his hand on it. Before he could pick it up she placed her small hand over his and that electric thing happened again. They looked at each other; both knowing they each felt it this time. "What?" he said, clearing his throat to keep his voice under control. "Don't tell her that you're with me, please. If she asks you anything about me, pretend you hadn't heard anything about it. Act surprised. I don't want her to know that we're together, she'll only make things harder on everyone at home if she thinks I got you into trouble." Billy looked at Mac, "You're probably right, in fact I know you are. I won't say a word, promise". He dialed the number. "Jill Abbott," she answered. "Ma?" Billy asked. "Billy where the hell are you? You are in such trouble when you get home. Why didn't you call me or use my cell phone number?" he paused, Billy hadn't called her cell phone because the phone records could be traced easily.

He called the Chancellor House and was lucky enough to reach her. "I'm fine, Ma just hadda get away, you know, back to the old stomping grounds for awhile. I just wanted to let you know that I'm okay and sorry about the dinner this afternoon. Okay, gotta go. Love ya, Ma!" and hung up. He looked at Mac. "If she takes the bait they'll be looking all over New York for us by this afternoon." Mac said, "She'll take the bait. She's your mother, isn't she?" She smiled to let him know she was only partially serious. He clutched his chest "That one hurt," he laughed. "Ready to go shopping for a new you?" "A new us!' she said and nodded. He took her hand and grabbed the keys to the room, shutting the lights behind them.

Mac and Billy walked down Michigan Avenue. Even though it was Sunday, the street was filled with shoppers. The crowds were six deep on the sidewalk. They passed the large stores, Marshall Field, Macy's, Nordstrom's. Mac stopped, "See something?" he asked. She nodded and walked over to the window. Mannequins were in wispy, flowing pastel dresses. Flowers were sprinkled around. All different colors. Mac seemed mesmerized by the mannequin in the center, or rather by the dress she wore. It was lilac with a high empire style waist that was encircled by pale violets, a deeply scooped neckline, held up by the thinnest of straps at the shoulders and a low plunging back. Billy watched her, noticing her look of rapture. She turned around and looked over her shoulder at him. "Mac, c'mon, we gotta go".

Mac dragged herself reluctantly away from the window. They kept walking until he asked, "Doesn't shopping usually involve actually going in the store?" She shook her head. "We can't afford any of these stores. I'll know it when I see it. She looked across the street and pointed. "Look!" she pointed excitedly. The sign read, "Once and Again Thrift Shop." She took his hand and led him across the street. "Mac," he said before she opened the door. "We have money, we don't have to shop here." Mac's mouth tightened. "What's the matter, Billy. Not expensive enough for you?" " I thought we were past that kind of stuff, Mac." She looked away. " I'm sorry, Billy" she began. "It's just that this is the kind of stuff I'm used to. We always shopped in places like these. There's nothing wrong with it." She held her head up proudly. " I know there's nothing wrong with it.  I'm sorry, I guess I just never had to deal with living on a budget before." He smiled. "Guess there's a first time for everything, right? Besides, the stuff in here looks pretty cool." He opened the door and said, "After you madam." She giggled and walked inside.


Chapter 27

They hit the streets loaded down with bags. "I can't believe we got all this stuff for 40 bucks," Billy said. They had done pretty well, jeans, sweaters, some old stuff to sleep in. They had one more stop to make for underwear and toiletries and they were done. Mac felt almost light-hearted, as if she were on an adventure. It was Sunday, after all they couldn't really do any investigating today, could they? They stopped in Wal-Mart, a store that Mac was shocked to learn Billy had never heard of. They got what they needed and headed back to the motel. The motel, Mac had pushed that out of her head until now. They only had rooms with double beds. She guessed that very few people who stayed there ever checked in alone. But it was cheap and Billy had said that they would manage somehow. Besides, it was only a couple of blocks away from The Blue Night, the club that was mentioned in the paper.

Jacob, she was thinking. Mac felt guilty. A man was dead and she wasn't sorry, not the least little bit. They had to find a way out of this mess, more for Billy than for her. She couldn't let him ruin his life over this. "Mac?" Billy stood inside the motel room. "You comin' in or not?" She walked inside and he closed and locked the door after her. He walked around the room, pulling down the tattered window shades. "That's better," he said. "Never know who might be watching." He smiled to try and ease the fearful look in her eyes. "So whaddya get? Lemme see." He reached for one of her bags and she swiped it out of his hands, giving him the other one instead. "What's in there?" he asked in a curious manner. "Nothing, just clothes." She took the bag and carried it over to the bed while Billy was busy rooting through the other one.

She reached inside and carefully pulled out the dress, shielding it from his view. It was beautiful and probably about 30 years old. It was black and sleeveless, with a high halter neck. It was completely closed and innocent looking in front, plain, simple lines, but when turned around, it revealed a single pearl closing at the back of the neck and nothing else. It was made of a shiny material, silk, she guessed and as she held it up to herself, it reached a few inches above her knee. Very 1969. It cost her 30 bucks, but she simply couldn't walk away from it. It was the most beautiful dress she had ever seen except for the lilac one she saw in the window today. Buried deep at the bottom of the bag was a pair of tiny heeled, shiny black patent leather sling back shoes. The woman in the store said they were perfect with the dress and had thrown them in for nothing. They were a little big, but Mac doubted she would ever get the chance to ever wear them or the dress, for that matter. Just having them made her feel better. She stuffed the dress back into the bottom of the bag and took the rest of the stuff out. There were jeans, sweaters and some sweats. "How do I look?" She turned around. Billy was wearing an old Chicago Bears sweatshirt." She laughed. "You look like the kids I used to know on the street, poor!"

He laughed, but it was tinged with sadness. What was her life like there? He wondered if he could ever get her to open up to him. He said " Good, that's the idea. If I put on these jeans I got and the sneakers, no one would ever recognize me." He walked over to her and touched her hair, picking up the ends of it and idly playing with it. "I've been thinking that maybe you should do something about your hair." Mac was trying hard to concentrate on what he was saying as he fingered the ends of her hair pulling it forward over her shoulders, touching it, making her crazy. "Forget it Billy, I'm not cutting my hair!" He said softly." I didn't mean cut it. I meant change the color or something. Go blonde." "No, I thought I would just wear it up, you know, under a hat or something. Keep my head covered whenever I could. Please don't make me, Billy, I really don't wanna be a blonde." "Why not, haven't you ever heard that blondes have more fun?" "You mean blondes like Brittany?" she could have kicked herself. Billy was being so sweet and she had to ruin it. She couldn't help it. She couldn't help it. She was envious of Brittany and her hair, her clothes, her body and how pretty she was.  She didn't mean to bring her up, I know you must miss her a lot."

He looked at her while still playing with her hair, "Brittany who?" he smiled. "I'm sorry I suggested it. It would be a crime against nature for you change anything about your hair." She looked at him, " I mean, it's beautiful. You shouldn't change anything about it." "Thanks," she said. "Hungry?" he asked. She nodded. "Good, then let's eat." So they sat together and ate the burgers they had picked up on the way. "Billy, what do we do tomorrow?" she asked, sipping her soda. He held up his finger, finished chewing his fries, swallowed and answered." "We start to find out as much as we can about Jacob March. Where he lived, hung out, but we've gotta do it discreetly. I figure the best place to start is The Blue Light. Maybe we could hang out there and get to know some people." He grabbed her hand, "Listen, I know this isn't gonna be easy, but I feel it. This guy did this before and if we can find someone to back it up we can go home and tell our story, but not until we find a way to keep me out of jail for murder." She looked at him. He was trying to be flippant, but she could tell he was scared and so was she. She reached up and touched the side of his face." I'll do whatever it takes, Billy. I mean it, you can't go to jail because of me. I won't let it happen. He turned his head and kissed the palm of her hand.

"Thanks," he whispered. She got up and starting clearing up the mess on the table, throwing it into the small trashcan by the door. "I'm gonna go get changed for bed. All that walking around really tired me out." He stood up. "Guess what? We can sleep late tomorrow. I found out that the Blue Light doesn't even open until four. He thought briefly about spending the day in bed with her and quickly pushed it out of his head. She said, "Great, I could really use the sleep. She went into the bathroom to change. Billy hoped that she left him some cold water because he was really gonna need it tonight.


Chapter 28

Billy was sitting on the bed, flicking through the channels with the television remote. Nothing so far on the local news. Good. The bathroom door opened and Mac emerged. Her hair was again loosely gathered on top of her head with pieces falling about her face. She was wearing and old pair of men's flannel boxer shorts that were faded, but clean in an ugly blue and gray plaid color. She wore an old faded, barely held together, sweatshirt that was gray with some barely legible writing on it. Property of Evanston High school athletic team. There were the clean white socks on her feet. She shut the light and padded softly across the room. Billy's body reacted immediately. He felt his pants grow tighter and dropped the remote on to his lap to cover it. God, did she realize how sexy she was? He guessed not. Anyone who looked at her now would say he was out of his mind. She looked so vulnerable and lost. Not the Mac he was used to, who always spoke her mind, sometimes harshly. She seemed softer somehow, as if the events of the last few days had somehow broken her spirit. He noticed her legs as she bent over to place the clothes on the chair. They were beautiful and long, with a shine to them that he knew meant he would smell vanilla again tonight. The bottom of the sweatshirt lifted up to expose the smallest peek at the bottom of her breasts. That skin with the same shine. She stood up and faced him, "Some outfit huh?" she smiled. He could only nod in reply. He sized up his situation and realized that he could probably stand up now and not be embarrassed. He got off the bed and walked over to get his clothes. "Billy?" she asked as he opened the bathroom door, "Are you okay?" "Sure," was his hoarse reply. He smiled and closed the door.

Mac turned down the covers on the bed. It looked pretty clean. No bugs that she could see. She got in and pulled the covers back, wondering why Billy was so quiet. She closed her eyes and fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.

Billy took a long time in the shower thinking about Mac and her skin, her legs, that body of hers was driving him nuts. He had some experience with girls before, but he never remembered anyone affecting him the way that Mac did. He turned the shower full blast to cold and hoped that he would be able to avoid catching pneumonia before this whole thing was over.

Mac was sleeping soundly when Billy emerged from the shower wearing sweatpants and an old T-shirt. He shut the lights, held his breath and climbed into bed with her. Still sleeping, she rolled over and muttered, "Billy," and flopped her arm across his chest. Man, this was gonna be another long night. He finally fell asleep after what felt like hours. He was awakened again by the sound of Mac's soft cries. He opened his eyes and listened, but the words were different this time. "Billy, please. Where are you? No, no don't take him away, please don't take him away. I need him. No you can't take him." Billy sat up and looked at her struggling, pushing away the covers, and fighting to wake up. He pulled her gently to him, kissing her face, wiping away her tears. "I'm right here, honey, shush." She stopped and wrapped her arms around his neck, rubbing her cheek against his. "Billy, please don't go, please don't leave me. I can't do it by myself, I can't." He pulled away and looked in her eyes that were red from crying. "I won't leave you, not ever, I promise," and pulled her close to him again, lying back against the pillows.

She reached up and touched her lips to his hesitating at first, then more insistently. Billy moaned. They should not do this, should not do this, kept repeating in his head, but his lips would not seem to listen. The kiss deepened and Mac opened her lips to capture his tongue, swirling hers out to meet his, dancing around the inside of his mouth across his teeth. She was moaning now too. She was fully awake. She knew they shouldn't do this, but she couldn't seem to stop herself. Billy's mouth was so delicious. His tongue felt like velvet and she sucked on it greedily, her hands running wildly through his hair. Billy heard her moans and they enflamed him. Her hair had come loose and his hands tangled in it as he moved his lips across hers, teasing her mouth with his. He pulled his lips from hers and pushed her hair back from her neck. He began to kiss her ear and Mac let out a sigh and rolled her head back. The sweatshirt pulled off her neck and halfway down her arm. He began nipping at her shoulder with his lips, pulling the shirt down further. Mac pulled away from him, bolder now, she grabbed the ends of her sweatshirt and yanked it over her head. Her breasts rose and fell as she dropped her arms back down to her sides. He grabbed the ends of his shirt and did the same, throwing it on the floor. She looked at him with love and desire in her eyes. He grabbed her by the waist and yanked her towards him, the feeling of skin against skin driving him wild. She threw her head back, running her hands over his bare back, loving the feel of his skin, giving him easier access to her neck. He pressed his lips to her throat, making small circles there with his tongue.

"Billy, Billy," Mac shook him. He groaned, "Umm, baby, a little lower, right there, unnnhhh." He smiled and grabbed his pillow to him, squeezing it tight. Mac shook him again, harder this time, "Billy, wake up, you're dreaming." He opened his eyes only to find Mac peering down at him as if he had lost his mind. He closed his eyes again, pretending to still be asleep, silently cursing his subconscious. "You were dreaming," she said. Her curiosity was killing her. What had he been dreaming about? It sounded pretty intense. "Billy, what were you dreaming about?" she whispered direct and to the point as ever. "It sounded like you were in pain or something, or," she just had a thought and she could feel her face flaming in the darkened room. He was probably dreaming about sex dreaming about Brittany." Never mind, I think I know exactly who and what you were dreaming about."  She turned away from him onto her side and feigned sleep. Billy leaned over close to her ear, certain she was asleep. He touched her cheek with his hand, rubbing it gently. "Do you really know who it was Mac? Do you?" he whispered. Mac resisted the urge to touch his hand on her face. She remained perfectly still. He sighed and then rolled over away from her, just as she had.

She lay there thinking. What had he meant by that? Was he taunting her about Brittany? Or was he thinking about someone else? Could he have been thinking about her? No, that's impossible. Sure, they were friends now, bonded together by the terrible events of last night, but he didn't think of her that way. She remembered the kisses they had shared, how gently he touched her. He probably wanted to let her down easy; after all she was the one that had started it. He thought I was Brittany, that's what he was dreaming of, Mac decided as her eyes closed, heavy with sleep.

Billy heard her breathing slow down and peeked over at her.  She was finally asleep. He closed his eyes, surrendering to his own exhaustion and praying his dreams would not betray him again.


Chapter 29

Billy rolled over flopping his arm over to the other side of the bed. It was empty. He felt around with his hands, then sat up to look. "Mac?" he called. The bathroom door was open and she wasn't in there. Where the hell was she? He sprang out of the bed. The clothes they bought yesterday were still there, her coat and purse were not. He ran to the motel room door opening it and was greeted by a blast of bright sunlight and cold air. He stuck his head out looking first one way, then the other. "Damn it!" he slammed the door. She wouldn't, would she? She wouldn't leave him here to face this whole thing alone? Unless, something happened to her, but how could it? He was right here all the time. True he had been dead to the world, but he would have heard if anything had happened to her, right? He paced up and down the room pulling his hands through his hair. He sat down on the bed and held his head in his hands. If anything happened to her he would never forgive himself.

 The door opened quietly. Mac walked in holding two bags and a newspaper. She wore her hair piled up under her hat and a pair of old sunglasses she had bought yesterday that covered up a great deal of her face. She looked at him with slight surprise. "I didn't think you'd be up yet. Look, I got donuts and coff--" "Don't you ever do that again!" Billy stood up, furious at her. She backed away, alarmed at his obvious anger, "Do what? I didn't do anything!" she answered curtly. "Don't ever leave and not tell me where you're going, understand? Never again." He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her, "I'm sorry," he said softly, "It's just that I was worried sick. I thought something had happened." He let her go. "It's okay," she answered quietly, "I just went out to get us some breakfast and I got a newspaper, but I couldn't find anything more about Jacob in it, just some more stuff from yesterday."

Mac was shaken by Billy's intensity. What was it with him? Could he care more about her than she realized? When she walked in the room he looked as if he would jump out of his skin. "That's great, Mac, and I'm sorry. I just. I don't know what I would do if something happened to you, that's all," he smiled at her reassuringly. "I'm gonna go take a shower, don't eat all the donuts."  "Better make it quick then," she replied. He smiled and went into the bathroom. He closed the door and breathed a sigh of relief. His emotions were really getting the best of him lately. It was getting more and more difficult to disguise how he really felt about her. He had to be more careful. He couldn't let her know until he figured out how she felt about him. It was too big a risk. He turned on the shower.

Mac was sitting at the table, still rolling Billy's reaction around in her head. Why was he so concerned? Could there be more to this than just friendship, or obligation? Mac walked over to the small mirror that hung on the wall. Look at yourself, Mackenzie. What would he ever see in someone like you? Plain, plain, plain ugly outside and in. Don't kid yourself, he might feel attracted to you now, but it's just because you're here. If it weren't you, it would be somebody else. She couldn't ever let him know that she would give anything to hear him say that he felt more than friendship for her. It was too big a risk.

Billy came out of the shower, dressed in jeans an old hooded sweatshirt and sneakers. He sat down at the table and grabbed a donut, looking in the bag for the coffee. He found it and took a sip. "Mac?" She was looking at herself in the mirror. She turned around at the sound of his voice. "Yes?" He thought about saying something, then thought better of it and said, "I'm about to eat your donut," reaching out as if to take it. "Take it and die, Billy," and she lunged for it, smacking his hand away, laughing. He smiled. "Ready to start the investigating today?" he asked. She nodded. "Yeah, I really am. In fact, the sooner we get started, the sooner we can go home, and "she paused "Where do we start?" "Well, since the club doesn't open until this afternoon, I thought maybe we could kinda hang around that neighborhood. You know, look around discreetly, of course, listen in and try to find out who he knew, where he lived, any old girlfriends. Anything that might help us." She smiled, "How do you know all this stuff?" she asked." Didn't you ever watch Columbo or Starsky and Hutch, Magnum PI?" She shook her head, " I always preferred I Love Lucy, myself." He laughed, "Really? I never woulda thought it. I mean you're so serious, oops, well you know what I mean." He decided to try and make her laugh. "That would really be helpful if we were making chocolates, you know, or you got a loving cup stuck on your head."  "Ooooh, I love that one," she squealed delighted that he remembered. That show was one lighthearted memory of her childhood; waking up early, sneaking into the living room to watch on an old, battered TV. He loved how her face lit up. "But since you obviously aren't stomping grapes or trying to sneak into a nightclub." She smiled again. " My expertise seems to be needed here."

"You see, I was a big Columbo fan at boarding school. When parents day came," he stopped, remembering how all the other parents came, anxious to see their children. Jill and John Abbott always had one excuse or another and most times he just stayed in his room watching television until the whole thing was over .His face clouded over. He shook it off and continued, " Let's just say I watched a lot of TV then, and I always liked Columbo." Billy's sadness hadn't gone unnoticed by Mac and she reached over and covered her hand with his. He placed his other hand on top of hers and asked, "What's wrong?" concerned by the look on his face. "I know what it's like to be alone, Billy, even when there are other people around."  "Well," he forced a smile," I'm very glad that neither of us is alone anymore".


Chapter 30

Billy and Mac walked into the darkened nightclub. It was small with pictures covering the walls. Pictures of famous blues musicians; BB King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Watters, Johnny Lang. Billy walked around looking at the pictures, reciting the names of the ones he recognized. A woman came out from the back room, wiping her hands on a  dishtowel. It was hard to tell how old she might be, but she was a striking looking woman. Golden brown hair, cut to just below her chin. She had clear blue eyes and perfect features. She smiled, revealing perfect teeth. "Can I help you?" Billy stepped forward." I hope so," he had a brief thought and plunged ahead with it, "My name is  Rick, Rick Hutchinson. and this is my fiancée," he gestured toward Mac, fumbling for a name, "Katherine," she said, extending her hand toward the woman. She took it and shook it. "You see, we just got in to town and we're looking for work. I know places like this are always looking for help, and I thought, well we thought," Mac picked up his thought "We thought that you might be able to help us."

The woman smiled at them." I think this must be fate or something. Our dishwasher just left town and he took our best waitress with him. Either of you had any experience with that kind of work?" Mac nodded, "I was a waitress in New York at a little coffee shop on the East Side, The Tropicana Coffee Stop. " She smiled up at Billy. "Had to do something to put him through school. In fact, that's where we met, Rick used to hang out there. My boss Fred used to say that he only came there to see me," she looked down and blushed. "If you need references, we can provide them. Rick is enrolling at the University of Chicago, so he'll have classes during the day, night work is really what we're looking for" Billy stood back, amazed at the story she was weaving so easily. The woman said, "Well, we can straighten out all that later, I'm sure, oh by the way, my name is Rebecca Jackson, my husband JJ and I run this place. How about I show you around the place and then we'll work out the details?" Billy questioned "You mean we're hired? Just like that?" Rebecca smiled at him." You can thank this fiancée of yours. Looks like she's your biggest fan. C'mon I'll show you the kitchen." Mac smiled at her and the woman turned around to head to the kitchen. She held out her hand to Billy and whispered "Looks like your expertise must be rubbing off on me." He took her hand and let her lead him to the kitchen.

Billy would be working as a dishwasher/busboy with Mac waitressing out front. They also met Rebecca's husband JJ, a tall, strikingly handsome older man with piercing blue eyes, who seemed as straightforward and trusting as his wife. Rebecca pulled Mac aside, while Billy and JJ were discussing the blues." I forgot to tell you," she walked over to the closet and pulled out a garment bag." There's a uniform." She unzipped the garment bag and Mac drew in a deep breath. A short midnight blue skirt with a matching blue top. The top had thin spaghetti straps that were made of satin." I know there's not much to it," Rebecca laughed." Just be careful when you bend over." Mac had forced a smile and the woman noticed her uneasiness. "Don't worry, honey, this is going to look beautiful on you. That fiancée of yours better watch his step, although from the looks of you two, you only have eyes for him." She noticed how Billy's eyes had never strayed far from her, how he watched her every move. "You'll be fine if you want, why don't you come a little earlier tonight? I'll help you get dressed, show you how it should look." Mac nodded and said, "Thanks, I'm really not much for getting dressed up and I could really use the help." "Leave everything to me. Come about 7:00, okay?" "Sure, we'll be here." She took the dress from her and walked over to Billy. "Ready to go?" she said. He put his arm around her and nodded. "See you both tonight and thanks for everything"

They walked back to the motel and walked in, taking off their coats. "You were amazing back there. Where did you get all that stuff?" She shrugged her shoulders, "Guess I watched more TV than I thought, Tropicana coffee stop, my boss Fred?" He laughed out loud, "Still in I Love Lucy land, huh? I gotta confess, Rick Hutchinson. Rick for Ricky Ricardo and Hutchinson from Starchy and Hutch." She looked at him and burst out laughing. "I guess all those hours in front of the TV paid off, huh?" He joined in her laughter and nodded.

The time passed quickly as they sat around the table discussing the merits of The Brady Bunch versus Gilligan's Island. Their laughter ringing through the room. Billy loved to see her laugh. It was a totally new experience for him to see her eyes crinkle up and happy tears run down her face as he imitated Desi Arnaz. She was still wiping tears from her eyes when she noticed the time 6:45 p.m. She Grabbed his coat and hat, shoving it at him and grabbed hers. "C'mon, Ricky, it's time to go to the club!" He slipped into a heavy Cuban accent and answered, "I told you, Lucy. You can't be in the show!" and they both laughed all the way to the club.

When they got there, the club was still dark, but the place was full of motion. Busboys hustling back and forth, stagehands setting up a small stage for the show later. Rebecca stepped out from behind the counter. "Right on time," she smiled." Rick, JJ is in the back, he'll show you what to do. I am taking your fiancée with me!" Billy leaned over, kissed Mac on the cheek and said, "I'll see you later," and walked to the kitchen door, stopping to look over his shoulder with a smile and wave at her. "Can't stand to let you go, even for a minute, huh?" Rebecca teased. Mac blushed. "Don't be embarrassed. I still remember what that's like." She smiled dreamily. "We're wasting time. Let's get you ready." She put her arm around Mac's shoulders and led her to a back door. It opened to a staircase, leading to a small apartment upstairs. It was sparsely furnished, but neat and clean. "What a nice place," Mac commented, looking around. "Thanks, it's empty for now, we just use it for changing and if somebody needs a quick nap before a show. Would you two be interested in it? I mean I know it's not much, but we could give you a break on the rent. Try it by the week first see what happens." Mac looked at her, "Oh, could we really? I would love that and I know Bi, her Rick would be so happy. He's been anxious about the motel we've been staying in, it's kind of sleazy, you know?"  Rebecca nodded. "We all have to start somewhere, " she smiled at the young girl standing in front of her whose face seemed to be aglow with the idea. "C'mon, let's get you dressed!"

 

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