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Love Will keep us Alive... Sequel  to Crush

Chapters 1-10

I was standing

All alone against the world outside

You were searching

For a place to hide

Lost and lonely

Now you've given me the will to survive

When we're hungry-love will keep us alive

 

Don't you worry

Sometimes you've just gotta let it ride

The world is changing

Right before your eyes

Now I've found you

There's no more emptiness inside

When we're hungry-love will keep us alive

 

I would die for you

Climb the highest mountain

Baby, there's nothing I wouldn't do

 

Now I've found you

There's no more emptiness inside

When we're hungry-love will keep us alive

 

I was standing

All alone against the world outside

You were searching

For a place to hide

Lost and lonely

Now you've given me the will to survive

When we're hungry...love will keep us alive...

 

Peter Vale/Jim Capaldi/Paul Carrack

 

Chapter 1

 

Mac boarded the bus, her backpack behind her, the suitcase Billy had bought for her in her right hand. She had managed to make it out of the apartment without waking Billy. When she got home, she ran into Brock at the top of the stairs. He smiled at her." Glad to see you got home at a semi-reasonable hour. I was just heading up to bed. You look exhausted. Go to bed, we'll talk in the morning." He  leaned over, kissed her cheek and walked down the hallway and into his room, closing the door.

 

Mac stayed put at the top of the stairs, smiling at him until he walked into his room and closed the door. Her smile disappeared and she walked quietly into her room. She left the lights out, reaching into her closet for her backpack, fumbling around on the floor until she located it with her hands. She pulled open the drawers of her dresser, pulling out shirts and jeans, some nightshirts and sweaters. Underwear and socks, an extra pair of shoes went in after, and she closed the suitcase. She opened the bottom drawer, where she had stashed some of her tip money in an old glass peanut butter jar. She pulled it out. about four hundred dollars. That should get her started, at least until she could find a job. Silently she picked up the suitcase and threw her backpack over her shoulders. She hesitated, looking around the room one last time, and quietly crept into the hallway and down the stairs. She was out the front door quickly, and had walked the two blocks to the bus stop. The bus had shown up almost immediately and she should be at the bus station near Crimson Lights soon. She prayed that Billy was still sleeping, and had not yet noticed that she was gone.

 

 

The rest of the ride went quickly, and she scrambled off the bus and walked into the bus station. She walked up to the counter. " When does the next bus leave ? " she asked the man behind the counter.  " Any particular destination?" She shook her head. He checked the schedule on the computer screen that sat before him. " Ten minutes" he said." It's headed for Seattle, via Denver."

" I'd like a one way ticket please" she responded. He entered the information and walked over to the printer to retrieve her ticket. " That'll be $98.75" he said. She paid him, took the ticket ." Gate 12" he said. She thanked him and took the ticket, walking towards the familiar gate. The same gate they had left for Chicago from. She pushed the thought out of her mind and boarded the bus, taking a window seat towards the back.

 

She pressed her forehead against the glass, wondering what her future would bring, wishing she could stay here with all the people she loved. No, Jill had convinced her that this was the only way.. the only way to spare those people the shame and embarrassment that seemed to follow her around and touch everyone she knew. As the bus pulled away from the gate, her thoughts drifted to Billy, and the tears began to fall again.

 

Billy woke to a buzzing sound. He flopped his pillow over his head to try and drown it out, but the noise continued insistently. He removed the pillow and realized the buzzing was coming from the chair where the candles were. He got out of bed, the candles had burnt themselves out. Next to them sat his watch. The alarm was the buzzing noise. He shut it off, noticing a folded piece of paper propped behind the candles. He opened it and recognized Mac's handwriting. " Good morning, sleepyhead.. I'm sorry I had to leave you, but I set the alarm on your watch so you would get up in time to get home. I figured it would look better if we didn't arrive home exactly at the same time, less suspicious that way. Thank you for making tonight beautiful. See you soon. Love you, Mac."

He smiled. Mac, always thinking, worrying about him and what kind of trouble he was going to get into. He loved the fact that she thought about things like that, it made her who she was. He grabbed his clothes and headed for the bathroom to get cleaned up before heading home. She was something, all right, that wife of his.

 

 

Billy managed to get home at a decent hour, his Dad was already asleep. He must be starting to trust me more, he thought as he climbed the stairs. Yet another thing to thank Mac for. He got to his room and when he was undressed and in bed, he thought about calling her. He decided against it, it was way too late and she was probably fast asleep. If she was half as exhausted as he was, she was. He smiled as he remembered their erotic lovemaking earlier that evening. It had been incredibly intense, every cell in his body, every inch of him responding to her. She had been even more sensual and open with him than before. Was that how it was going to be with the two of them? Falling more and more in love with her every day? Before he gave in to sleep, he vowed to make sure that's exactly how it would be.

 

Chapter 2

 

Brock was sitting at the breakfast table, drinking a glass of orange juice. "Good morning, dear." Kay said as she sat down at the table to join him. "Good morning, duchess" he said smiling at her over his glass. "Did Mackenzie get in all right last night?" she asked. He nodded. "I met her on the stairs just as she was coming in. She seemed fine, but exhausted. That probably why she's still asleep. She's usually up and around by this time" Kay nodded in agreement." She's been working at lot lately, I'm not sure how good an idea that is, but she seems to think it's not a problem" Brock answered "I'm sure she'll be fine"

 

"Good Morning all!" Jill bounced into the room. She sat down and poured herself coffee.

"Aren't we chipper this morning, Jill?" Kay mused. "Any particular reason?" Jill shook her head. " Can't I just be in a good mood?" Kay laughed. "Of course, let's see when was the last one? 1979? Or was it '80?" Brock laughed and Jill decided to ignore both of them. She was in much too good a mood today to let anyone spoil it, least of all Kay and Brock. " I just have a feeling that things are finally going to work out with my son...he's finally becoming more responsible, more level headed. I've definitely noticed a change, and I'm sure a lot of it is due to mine and John's influence" Kay threw her head back and roared with laughter." Oh, that is rich! How much vodka did you have this morning? If Billy is more responsible it's because he's happy...or haven't you noticed? The young man radiates happiness and peace, and I know that it has little or nothing to do with you.." Jill stared at Katherine, livid. " I hope you are not suggesting it has anything to do with that supposed 'granddaughter' of yours? If  Billy is happier, it has nothing to do with her!" She threw down her napkin and left the table, muttering something about an early meeting at the office. She stormed out of the house, slamming the door after her.

 

" Well that was pleasant, wasn't it?" Kay noted. Brock chuckled " I think, for everyone involved, especially Mackenzie and Billy, we shouldn't press the issue. just give her some time to accept the inevitable" Kay smiled at her son." You're probably right, I just couldn't resist. I promise I try to behave next time." Just then, Esther came down the stairs and into the dining room. "Excuse me, Mrs. Chancellor" she began. "Yes, Esther?" Kay answered, looking up at her. " I was just wondering.. did something happen with Mackenzie?" she asked the question carefully. "No, of course not...Why would you ask?" Kay spoke calmly, trying not to let her sudden fear creep into her voice. "Because I noticed her door still closed this morning, and I had some laundry to put away...her bed...its empty...it looks like it hasn't been slept in. I went in to put away her clothes, and her dresser drawers are empty. her clothes are gone.." Esther's voice faded off at the end, she hated to bring upsetting news to her employer. Brock got up from the table and raced up the stairs, two at a time. He walked into his daughter's room. He opened her closet, Mackenzie would never leave and not take her backpack, she carried it practically everywhere. Kay walked into the room and he turned to her after searching the closet.

 

"It's gone, mother. her backpack. you know she rarely goes anywhere without it.." Kay sat down on the bed. " The last time.." she started, remembering when Mac had run away before. " It's the same as the last time..." she looked up at her son. " Billy...maybe she went to see Billy..." She got up and walked out of the room and down the stairs. She picked up the phone and dialed." Hello John? Sorry to bother you so early...is Billy there? " she asked. John answered.." Yes, Katherine he's here, but I'm afraid he's still sleeping. Is there something I can help you with?" "No, John...I just. would you do me a favor? Please go check and see if he is there...I'll explain it all to you, please would you just go check? " John wondered why Katherine was acting in such a bizarre manner.

"Certainly, just hold on a moment." He went upstairs to Billy's room, and opened the door a crack. He spotted Billy still fast asleep in his bed. He closed the door again and went downstairs." Katherine? I just checked and he is just where I said he was. Now tell me why you wanted me to look in the first place." " It's Mackenzie..." she began, her voice heavy with worry. "Has something happened?" John asked, not liking the tone in her voice. "She's gone, John. her clothes, her backpack. Her bed hasn't been slept in. That's why I told you to check on Billy. You know how close they've become...I thought maybe they had run off together.". "I'm so sorry, Katherine...is there anything I can do?"

 

Kay paused. "Yes, there is John. Could you let Billy know? Maybe he could tell us something. maybe something happened between the two of them. A fight. something ,maybe that's why she left." John sighed. "Of course I'll tell him. I hope that this is just a misunderstanding. maybe you'll find that this is all a big mistake." Kay smiled sadly ." I wish I could believe that John, I just have a terrible feeling about this whole thing.." "Well, I promise if Billy has any information I'll let you know as soon as possible" "Thank you John". Kay said and hung up the phone. John hung up the phone and rubbed his eyes. He was dreading telling Billy this news. He would wait until he woke up first, thought. Let him have some peaceful sleep before telling him.

 

Billy walked down the stairs to find his father sitting on the sofa, quietly thinking. He walked over to him. "Morning, Dad. Sorry I slept so late..." He looked at his father's face. " Is something wrong?" he asked. John looked at his son, and Billy's heart sank..

" Is it mom? Or Jack?. Ashley?" John shook his head. " No son, nothing is wrong with them, everything is fine as far as their concerned. It's Mackenzie.." the blood drained from Billy's face. He stood up " What? Tell me Dad... what's happened to her? Is it bad. is she?" his voice became choked. " She's gone, Billy...Katherine called this morning and they found her room empty this morning...her clothes, her backpack, gone. Do you have any idea where she could have gone? Did something happen last night?"

 

Billy shook his head. " No, in fact last night was great...when I saw her last, everything was fine". The tears began rolling down his cheeks. Where was she? Why would she do this, especially after last night? " I gotta go, Dad... I gotta go look for her..." He ran upstairs to get his coat and ran down again. "Can I borrow the car, Dad? I mean she could be anywhere out there. cold, lost.. all alone. I can't let her do this, I can't lose her.." John saw the desperation on his son's face and his heart turned over. "Of course you can, son. Would you like me to come with you?" Billy shook his head. "No, thanks Dad.. I think I know someone who can help me with this, though" He turned to leave. "Billy, will you call me if you find anything? I promised Katherine I would keep her updated"

"Sure, Dad and thanks" he turned and walked out the door, his mind reeling. Where was she?

 

Chapter 3

 

Mac woke up, her head slumped against the ice cold bus window. The overhead speaker crackled above her head. "Good morning, passengers. We are approaching the Denver city limits. We should be arriving in Denver in approximately 30 minutes. This bus will then continue on to Seattle" Mac had made a decision last night. She would be getting off at Denver, then find another bus to take her onto another destination, anywhere but Seattle. Her trip with Billy had taught her to cover her  tracks very carefully. The ticket clerk at the bus station could identify her, and tell everyone where she was headed. She couldn't let that happen, not now. Her head was incredibly light, and her stomach felt uneasy, God please don't let me get carsick now, she prayed.

 

The bus pulled into the Denver station and she got off, walking towards a ticket counter.

"When is the next bus for Boulder?" she asked the clerk. She answered " In about 20 minutes. Over there at Gate 45, it  makes several stops though, Lafayette, Henderson,

and then on to Boulder" Mac smiled. " I'd like a ticket, please..." The clerk got the ticket and Mac paid. She had to find a job as soon as she got there, her money was already running low. She thanked  her and headed towards the gate. She hoped her already queasy stomach would survive just one more trip.

 

The bus pulled into Henderson, and Mac got off and looked around. A ski resort town, it looked like, but the scenery was breathtaking. Mountains all around, fresh air...she breathed deeply, hoping to settle her still uneasy stomach. Up ahead she saw several small stores and a restaurant. The Mountain Inn. She opened the door and headed inside.

A older woman greeted her." Good morning, may I seat you?" Mac shook her head and smiled. " I was just wondering if you have any job openings? I'm brand new in town, and I really need a job.." The woman nodded. "It seems we always have openings this time of year. we no sooner hire someone, than they decide the skiing is too good to pass up and quit to head to Boulder or Steamboat Springs." She extended her hand. "My name is Betty Johnson. I run this place and also act as hostess." Mac took her hand and shook it. " I'm Mackenzie Abbott" she had made a decision to use her real name, it would just make things easier. Besides, no one would ever find her here.

 

"What kind of work are you looking for?" Betty asked. " Well, I have experience as a waitress...I could give you some references if you need-" "Why don't we see how things work out first? Besides, I don't think I can use you as a waitress, do you think you would be able to handle being a hostess? I really don't have the time anymore, what with running the Inn and everything." She smiled at the young girl. "Besides, a young, pretty girl like you would be perfect." Mac blushed at the compliment. "Thank you. I guess I could handle it..at least I could try.." "Good" Betty beamed " Now, I need you to fill out some paperwork. Oh and we offer room and board as part of your salary. It helps us keep costs down. Your salary will be  $150.00 per week plus room and board. Will that be ok?"

Mac let out a sigh of relief." That will be soo ok, like you wouldn't believe!" Betty laughed. "Come with me, and we'll get you settled". Mac stood up and stumbled momentarily, Betty's hand on her arm the only thing keeping her from falling. She grabbed her head. "I'm sorry" she whispered. " It's just the last couple of days I haven't gotten much sleep. I'm really ok.." Betty looked at her carefully. Something hidden behind those eyes, she thought. She smiled to ease Mac's fearful tone. She patted her hand." It's all right, Mac. May  I call you that? " she nodded. " We'll get you settled and take you upstairs, show you your room. I'm sure you'll feel better if you lie down, get a little rest. I don't need you to start until tonight." Mac nodded and picked up her suitcase, following Betty through the dining room door. It lead to a small lobby with a front desk.

 

"This is the 'Inn' part of  The Mountain Inn" she explained." We get mostly skiers, weekenders tired of the crowds in the bigger places. It can get pretty busy this time of year." She led her up a small spiral staircase to a small room at the end of a hallway. It was very simple, with a single bed, dresser, a small writing desk and chair. A door leading to a small bathroom was next to the desk. "It's not much..." Betty explained. "It's perfect" Mac replied and she meant it." I really don't need much" she continued. Betty looked at Mac again. " Is everything all right? You really don't look well at all dear.." Mac looked at the older woman..." It's a long story, maybe someday when I'm feeling better, I'll tell you about it." The woman nodded. Obviously this girl was carrying more baggage than just her suitcase." I'd like that" she said. "I'll go and let you get some rest..we can fill out your paperwork later." She turned to leave. "Thank you, Betty, for everything. I promise I won't let you down." The woman smiled and left, closing the door behind her.

 

Mac collapsed on the bed as soon as the door was closed. She was exhausted and she knew if she made any sudden moves, she was definitely gonna throw up. She took off her coat and shoes and lay down, falling asleep almost immediately

 

Chapter 4

 

Billy sat in the empty apartment, staring at the walls. Where was she now? Was she thinking of him? And the question that ate at him... Why? Why would she leave him, especially after last night?. His thoughts were interrupted by a soft knocking on the door.

He got up and opened it. "Raul" he smiled. "Thanks for coming...Come in ."  Raul walked in and looked around. " Is this place yours, Billy?" he asked. He had been surprised to get a phone call from Billy, and even more surprised when he asked if he could meet him at this address. He nodded, and gestured towards the couch for Raul to sit down. He did and Billy joined him.

 

"This is my place... mine and Mac's actually" he looked at Raul. "That's part of the reason I asked you to come over here. I wanted to tell you what's been going on, and to ask you for your help" Raul looked at him, smiling rather sadly. " It doesn't look like you need my help with anything. You two seem really happy together, I'm glad.. for both of you..what kind of help do you need from me?"

"We were happy... in fact I was the happiest I've ever been in my life.. until this morning..you see, Mac is gone..missing I guess you could say. She was here last night.." he looked down at the floor, blushing slightly. " And everything was great, you know?" Raul nodded. " I think I can guess" he said. " Did you guys have a fight or something? I mean, it wouldn't be the first time, you know"

He shook his head. " It's not like that between us anymore, Raul. That's something else I asked you here for. To let you know that Mac and I got married...almost 3 weeks ago." He pulled the chain out of the neck of his sweater, showing him the ring that dangled from it. " That's why I can't believe she would just leave for no good reason...please don't tell anyone about this..we wanna wait until I turn 18 in June, it'll be more difficult for anyone to try to do anything about it then."

 

Raul was stunned. He had known that Mac and Billy were in love, but this was totally unexpected. "Married? " he asked softly.

Billy nodded, smiling at his friend. " I know it's kinda hard to believe, but since it happened, I've never been happier in my life. I thought  she was too, but obviously I must have missed something. I've gotta find her, Raul... I've just gotta.. what if something's happened?" "Maybe you should call the police." Raul said. Billy shook his head. "That would only scare her.... I just have to know that she's okay, even if she doesn't want to come back to me." Raul was puzzled. "What can I do, Billy?"  " You can tell me everything she told you about her life on the street. We never got a chance to talk about stuff like that, I always thought it would be too painful for her...did she ever talk to you about it?"  Raul shook his head. "Every time I tried to bring up the past, she changed the subject. I tried to ask her about what her life in St. Louis had been like, but she would never open up to me."

Billy nodded. " She told me some horror stories about her stepfather Sam, and what he tried to do to her. I know she'd never go back there. But where else could she have gone?"

 

Raul asked "Did she have much money? I know she used to save her tip money, she used to keep it in a jar in one of her dresser drawers. I don't know how much it was though. She probably took that money with her. Have you checked the airports? The bus stations?" Billy nodded. "That was my next step. I just wanted to talk to you first, see if maybe you knew something I didn't."

Raul answered "I wish I could be more help.". "I appreciate you coming here, Raul I know this couldn't have been easy for you." Raul looked at him. " I meant what I told you guys at school, I hope we can still be friends, I care about Mac too, you know." Billy smiled. " I know that, and I'm glad, she's never had many people who cared about her before, she'd be happy to know that the two of us are still friends.. We are, aren't we?" Raul nodded and extended his hand to Billy.

" I should be going" he said as he rose from the couch. Billy said "Sure, thanks for coming.. one more thing, though.." Raul looked at him. "Sure, what's that?" "Don't tell anyone about Mac and me, being married, I mean. I'll tell her grandmother and her Dad, but I don't think anyone else should know yet...ok?" Raul nodded. " If that's what you want..." " It's not what I really want, I just think it's better if we keep it quiet for awhile..." "Sure" Raul said as Billy opened the door.

"Thanks again for coming, Raul" he said. " I'll be in touch, Billy. " Raul smiled at him. " I want here back, safe and sound, too." He turned and left and Billy closed the door. He needed to get started, but he had a stop to make first. The Chancellors.

 

 

Chapter 5

Kay paced around her living room, her arms folded. Brock was at the shelter, asking if any of the residents there may have seen Mac. It was a long shot, she doubted her granddaughter would go back there. The front doorbell rang, and soon after Esther walked in, followed by Billy. Katherine walked over to him.

 

"Billy" she embraced him. His face was drawn and tired. " Have you heard anything?" He shook his head. " No, I was just about to get started, you know, checking the bus stations, asking some questions...but I needed to come by here first. Is Mr. Reynolds here?" She shook her head." No, he's gone to the shelter to see if anyone there has heard from Mackenzie... How are you holding up?" He smiled weakly. " I'm ok, Mrs. Chancellor...I just miss her, that's all. I want her back here with me, with all of us. We've wasted so much time, time we could have spent together...I need to have her back with me, Mrs. C, I can't lose her now, not when we've just found each other."

She embraced him again. " I know, Billy. I've missed so much with her. We will get her back. I know we will."

 

He pulled away from her embrace. " I need to talk to you, Mrs.C...can we sit down?" "Of course..please" she gestured towards the sofa. They sat down together. He clasped his hands together. " Go ahead, dear..whatever it is, you can tell me" she said. " I know, it's just that this is going to come as a shock to you....remember when Mac and I went to Chicago a couple of weeks ago?" she nodded. " Well, see we didn't exactly go to Chicago...I sorry we lied, Mrs. Chancellor, I really am...the truth is we went to Indiana..." he paused. "Indiana?" she asked. "Whatever for?"

" We went to Indiana to get married..." "Married? Billy..did you?" He pulled the chain out from underneath his jacket. "Yes, we did, Mrs. Chancellor...I know what you're going to say..we're too young..we won't be able to handle marriage and everything it involves..but we wanted to be together, and it was the only way we could think of. We planned on telling you when I turned 18 in June, but now I feel you have the right to know. Maybe the pressure of this whole thing was too much for her, maybe that's why she ran away." Katherine let out a deep breath and sat back against the couch. " You're right, Billy.. you are too young. You two have no idea what marriage is about, the responsibilities, the commitment. But Mackenzie would never walk out on a commitment, especially to you. She loves you with all her heart, she told me so. You can't blame yourself for her leaving. We just have to find her, we can deal with all of this when we do."

 

She clasped his hand. " I don't think we should tell Brock about this yet. He has enough guilt about Mackenzie. I think we should wait until we find her. Then we can decide what needs to be done." Billy pulled his hand away from hers. " Needs to be done? Nothing needs to be done, except find her. This marriage is forever. I meant that when I took those vows" She clasped his hand again. " I know you did, Billy. I know you love her very much. I just think that you two have so much time ahead of you.." " Time we will spend together, Mrs. Chancellor. I am her husband, whether you like it or not..nothing you can say or do will change that." He rose to his feet. " I don't want to argue with you, Mrs. Chancellor. I just thought you had a right to know." He turned to leave and she stood up. " Please, Billy..just find her. That's all that matters, please. help me find her." His face softened and he patted her hand. " I will, Mrs. Chancellor. I promise, she'll be home with us again." He turned and left and Kay sat down again, tears forming in her eyes. " Please, God..bring my granddaughter home again" she prayed aloud.

 

Billy drove through the streets of Genoa City, headed for the bus station. He was positive that if she had left town, she had gone by bus. He parked the car and entered the terminal, heading directly for the ticket counter. He clutched a picture of Mac in his right hand, actually a picture of the two of them. Their wedding picture sent by the Delancey's. It had come yesterday, he had planned on surprising her with it last night, before things had progressed so quickly. He stood before the ticket counter. A male clerk sat behind a computer screen. "May I help you?" he asked. " I hope so" he said. " I was wondering if you might have seen this girl?" he held out the picture and the clerk took it. " She might have been through here late last night.." The clerk nodded. "Sure, she was here...she your wife? This looks like a wedding photo.." Billy nodded. " Yes, and she's been missing since last night." The clerk nodded again. " She bought a ticket to Seattle, one way.." he said. " I hope you find her.." " Thanks" was all Billy said and took the picture back, walking away from the counter.

 

Seattle, he thought. He looked at his watch. 7 pm. She was probably there by now. But where? Where would he even begin?

 

 

Chapter 6

 

Mac looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. She had been throwing up since she had awoken about a half hour ago. She couldn't be sick, not now. She splashed some cold water on her face, and walked out of the bathroom. The uniform that Betty had brought her was laid out on the bed. A plain black skirt with a black fitted, leotard type top. She didn't have any shoes, Betty had said she might be able to scrounge up a pair for her somewhere. She put on the uniform and sat on the edge of the bed, trying to settle her still rumbling stomach, fingering the chain she still wore around her neck. What was Billy doing now? Looking for her, probably..wondering why she left. He wouldn't come looking for her, would he? Deep down, a part of her wished that he would come and take her back home..back to the little apartment with the ugly couch. How she wished she were sitting on that ugly couch with him right now. No, Mac.. this is for the best. You would only drag him down with you, make him hate you. It was better this way.

 

Her thoughts were interrupted by a soft knocking on the door. "Mac? It's Betty.." "Come in, Betty" she answered. The door opened and Betty appeared, shoe box in hand. " I found a pair of shoes I think might be ok for you.." She saw how pale the young girl was and walked over to her.

"Are you all right? You don't look well at all.." She put down the shoe box and sat down next to her. " I'm fine, really. I just need to get settled...everything's been a little crazy these past few days.." she bit her lip and looked at the older woman's kind face. Could she tell her?

" Would you like to tell me about it, Mackenzie?" Mac looked down, hesitating. " I don't know..." The woman wrapped her arm around the girl's shoulders. " I think I can guess...it's a boy, isn't it?" Mac nodded. " My husband" she whispered. Betty was taken aback. "Husband? Aren't you a little young? I don't mean to pry, dear..but did you have to get married?" Mac smiled and shook her head. " No, we didn't have to, we wanted to.." and the floodgates opened.

She told Betty everything, all of it, thinking it was probably a mistake, but needing someone to help her carry some of the weight.

 

When she had finished, Betty was silent. Mac stood up. " I guess I'll get my things now, you probably don't need someone like me around here..." and Betty placed her hand on her arm.

" Nonsense" she said. " Why wouldn't I want someone like you here?" she smiled comfortingly at her. " I was married for 35 years to a wonderful man, don't you think I know what's it like to be in love? You're lucky, you found it the first time, right out of the gate...I just don't understand why you felt you had to leave..." Mac sighed " I had to, Betty..I couldn't let him feel obligated to me, that he had made a mistake and that there was no way out of it. I know he would end up hating me..and I couldn't live with that. I thought he hated me for so long, and then to finally realize that he loved me, as much as I loved him. I'd like to keep that memory, even if I never see him again. Please." She turned to Betty. " If he calls here, somehow manages to track me down here, please don't say anything, please?" It was now Betty's turn to sigh. " I think you are making a mistake, Mackenzie. but if that's what you want..." Mac smiled. "Thank you, it is." The woman embraced her. " I'll help you anyway I can. I have three daughters of my own, you know..7 grandchildren! I'd like to think that if they needed it someone would help them, too."

 

Mac embraced Betty. "Thank you, I promise I won't let you down." Betty pulled away to look at the young girl's face. " Just make me a promise...Call you grandmother and let her know you're okay...she must be worried sick. You don't have to tell her where you are...just that you're all right. Promise?". Mac nodded. " I will, soon.." Betty placed her hands on her hips. "No time like the present, young lady..come with me." She took her by the hand and led her to another room down the hallway. Betty's room. " You can use the phone in here. I'll just leave you alone. Promise me, Mackenzie, you'll make the call." Mac nodded and Betty smiled and left the room, closing the door. Mac picked up the phone, and dialed the Chancellor home. Esther answered "Chancellor residence". " Esther, it's Mac...Is my grandmother there?" Esther's voice rose to a shriek. "Mac?". Kay jumped to her feet from the sofa and grabbed the phone out of her hand. " Mackenzie? Oh, thank God...where are you? are you all right?" " I'm fine, grandma.. really I am...I can't say where I am, please understand. Just know that everything is ok and that I love you and Dad.." " Mackenzie. Billy told me about you two.. being married. I want you to know that we will get this whole thing straightened out as soon as you come home..." Mac's heart twisted and she took a deep breath. " It was a mistake, grandma. I realized it pretty much right away. Billy and I aren't right for each other, we never should have done it. Please.. I don't want to talk about Billy...whatever he wants to do now is fine with me, I don't care if I ever see him again." She paused, the tears began flowing freely now. Kay spoke softly " Just come home, Mackenzie..we'll do whatever you want."  " I can't grandma, not now...maybe someday..just not now. I'll call you again, soon. I promise. Just tell Billy that I'm sorry things didn't work out, and I'll live with whatever decision he wants to make. I love you, grandma." She hung up the phone.

There, that was done. If she had done her job well, her grandmother had believed her lies. That should stop Billy from coming after her. She realized it would probably end her marriage as well as any dream she may have had of a life with Billy. She sat down on the edge of the bed and wiped the tears from her face. It was for the best, she told herself. He was better off without her anyway. He would realize that soon enough.

 

 

Chapter 7

 

Kay  hung up the phone, still in shock. Brock walked in the front door, noticed his mothers face and ran over to her." What happened? Is it Mackenzie?" She nodded her head. "Is she hurt?" he asked frantically. "No, she's not hurt..she just called. She wouldn't tell me where she was, or when she would be coming home."  "But she's ok? I mean she's not hurt or anything?" She shook her head. " No she said she was fine..she said she would come home, just not now..."

 

"We can't give up searching for her, Duchess. I just don't understand why she would run away..especially when she seemed to be so happy with Billy.."  Kay grabbed her sons' hand. "Sit down, Brock I think that there's something you need to know." He walked over to the couch and sat down. Kay joined him. "Billy was here this afternoon. He told me that he and Mackenzie ....he said that they were married.." "Married!" Brock exclaimed. "When? Where?"

She told him what Billy had told her earlier that day.. " I just don' t understand why she would run away...unless she was telling me the truth on the phone" Brock looked at his mother. "What did she say, mother? Please tell me"  Kay clutched his hand tighter. "She told me that she regretted marrying Billy almost immediately..that he could do whatever he wanted to about it...basically, it sounded like she wanted nothing to do with him. I don't understand why she felt she couldn't tell us about it. She had to know that we would help her.."

 

Brock held his chin in his hands, thinking. " I think you're right, mother..if she had done something she regretted, she would have told us...why would she pretend to be happy if she wasn't? She did seem happy, didn't she?" Katherine nodded and sighed. "That's the part that I can't figure out...she seemed happier than I had ever seen her..I wish we could figure out what really happened.." " I'm sorry..."  Jill's voice broke in. They turned around to see her standing behind them " I don't mean to interrupt . I just came from John and he told me about Mackenzie. Has there been any word?" Jill's attempt at sympathy seemed almost genuine.

" She called just a few minutes ago...she said that she's fine..and that she didn't feel she could come home just now. It just means that we have to search harder for her, that's all" Jill nodded. " I know this must be very difficult for you two..Please let me know if there is anything I can do.."

 

"Why the sudden concern, Jill?" Brock blurted out. " You had very little use for Mackenzie while she was here..I should think you'd be glad she was gone" he said bitterly.  Jill pretended offense at his remark " Of course I'm concerned... I know if it was Billy out there alone, I would be heartsick. No, Mackenzie and I never were the best of friends, but I never would wish her harm." She paused. " Did she say why she left?" Brock decided to let Billy tell his mother the whole story.  " Why don't you ask your son? It's really his job to tell you the whole story. Excuse me , mother ... I think I'll call Paul Williams, see if he can help us." He got up and left the room. Kay got up and moved closer to Jill, " Why don't you do that, Jill? Go ask your son what really happened between him and my granddaughter? And while you're at it..examine your own conscience..ask yourself why Mackenzie may have left town..." and with that, left the room.

 

Jill's mind was racing. What could that little twit have told her? And what was it that Billy had to tell her? Could he have something to do with Mac running away? She couldn't have said anything, whe wouldn't be that stupid, would she? No, Jill decided. The idea of the whole town finding out about her sordid little past in St. Louis was more than enough to send her running out of town, she would never tell anyone anything about it, she was sure of that.

Billy drove back to the apartment from the bus station. Seattle, he had to get to Seattle. What about school? Screw it, he thought. Who cares? He had to tell Mrs. Chancellor about finding out where Mac went last night. He dug his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed the number. It rang twice before his mother answered. "Billy, darling are you all right? I just heard about Mackenzie... I told you that girl was trouble, didn't I?"  "Thanks for the deep concern, Ma.. I really appreciate it. Is Mrs. Chancellor there?"  " Yes, she's here...would you like to speak with her?" "No, I'm on my way over there now. And Ma, don't go anywhere.. I wanna talk to you, too." He hung up the phone. Jill put the receiver down. Kay walked back into the room. " I heard the telephone.. who was that?"  Jill turned to face her. " It was Billy, he's on the way over here, said he wants to talk to you about something."  "Maybe he has some word on Mackenzie, when he was here earlier, he told me he was on his way out to begin searching for her." Kay said. How would she tell him what her granddaughter had said? It would devastate him.  

 

Chapter 8

 

Billy walked into the Chancellor living room to find Jill and Kay seated on the couch. "Good" he said. "You're both here.." "What did you find out, Billy?" Kay asked. " I found out that Mac was on a bus headed for Seattle last night. She should be there by now. I just wanted to let you two know that I intend to go there tonight to find her and bring her back. I know what you're gonna say about school and everything, but there's no point in my even trying to go through the motions of a regular life if she's not here. I did it long enough, and I almost destroyed myself in the process. I can't do it anymore. If you don't give me permission, I'll go anyway...Mrs. Chancellor, does my mom know about me and Mac?" he looked at Kay, who shook her head. " I didn't feel it was my place to tell her, Billy. Would you like me to leave you two alone for awhile so you can?" He nodded. She got up to leave. " Don't leave before you see me, Billy" was all she said before she left the room.

 

"So, Billy" Jill began. "What is this great big secret that Katherine refused to tell me? What happened between you and Mackenzie?" He walked over and sat down next to her. " You're not gonna be happy with what I'm gonna say..just know that it's made me happier than I've ever been in my entire life. Mac and I are married, we have been for almost 3 weeks now."

Jill's face turned colors, first ashen white, then deep purple. " You're what? How could you have been so stupid? Throwing your life away at 17? And on Mackenzie Reynolds of all people.." "Abbott, Ma.. her name is Mackenzie Elizabeth Abbott now." He replied quietly.

" And if you mention her name in that tone of voice again, I walk out that door right now, and you will never see me again" It wasn't a threat, it was  a fact. Billy had decided that if his mother couldn't accept Mac, his choice was already made. " Billy, you have to realize what a mistake you've made...we can fix this before anything happens.." " What do you mean anything, Ma?"  " I mean we can get an annulment...you are underage, we can say that the marriage was never consummated." Jill held her breath, praying she was assuming correctly that Billy and Mac had never slept together. " Wrong on both counts,Ma. We got married in Indiana, it's legal to be married at 16 there. As for not being 'consummated', you're too late for that.." he smiled.

 

" What difference does all that make now, Billy? She's gone now..she left you..if she really loved you, why would she leave you?" Billy got up and walked away from Jill. He didn't want her to see his face, see the doubt there. " I don't know...that's what I have to figure out..I need to talk to her, face to face. I know that if I do, we can work this whole thing out. That's why I'm going to Seattle, tonight." Jill had a sudden revelation. She realized that if Mac saw Billy face to face, she would be too afraid to tell him what had really happened. Of course there was always the risk that she would tell him, but she doubted it. " All right, Billy.. if you feel you must.. I'll  arrange it with school, and with your father. Just promise me you won't stay long. I'll get the police to come and get you if I have to." He turned, surprised at his mother's sudden generosity. "Sure, whatever you say and thanks, Ma. Listen, tell Mrs. Chancellor I'm sorry, but I really gotta go.. I found out there's a flight leaving in two hours and I wanna be on it. See you soon, I promise" Jill walked over and kissed him on the cheek. "Just be careful and make sure you get back here within 3 days...or else you know what happens." He nodded and left.

 

Jill turned and walked towards the liquor cabinet. She needed a drink badly, her hands were shaking. Kay walked back in. " Billy said to tell you he was sorry, but he wanted to catch the last flight out to Seattle. He going to search for Mackenzie." Jill said with disgust. "What are we going to do about this 'marriage', Katherine? You know I will not stand for this. " Kay looked at her and shook her head. " I'm more worried about finding my granddaughter..we can take care of everything else when she comes home." Jill sipped her drink thoughtfully. If she comes home, Katherine.. if what I think will happen does happen...you may never see your granddaughter again, and Billy will be more than happy to be rid of her.

 

Two hours later, Billy unhooked his seatbelt. The flight was now safely in the air, he closed his eyes, hoping to catch some sleep before he got to Seattle, he knew he would need it. His last thoughts before drifting off were of Mac.

 

Chapter 9

 

Billy landed in Seattle 4 hours later. The flight had taken longer than expected. His first stop would be the bus station. If he could get the same kind of information he had gotten out of the clerk in Genoa City, he might be able to find her sooner. Maybe even today. He looked out the windows that surrounded the airport. The sun was just beginning to rise. I know you're out there Mac, you're not getting away from me that easily, count on that.

 

Mac was once again hunched over the bathroom sink, vomiting. She never remembered feeling as sick as she did right now. She had managed to make it through her first night of work relatively easily, the work was no problem. She splashed her face and rinsed her mouth out with cold water, hoping to rid herself of the awful taste. She walked uneasily to the bed and sat down. A thought crept into the back of her head...That first night...the first time they had made love...Mac remembered how they had talked about it the next morning, laughing about how they had gotten so carried away that they had completely forgotten about using a condom. She was sure that everything was okay, and she didn't worry once she got home. Her periods had always been rather irregular, so she wasn't concerned when her date came and went without it.

But now..could she be pregnant? Oh, God...what would she do? How could she have a baby..all by herself? Her heart softened.  It wouldn't just be any baby, it would be hers and Billy's. The two of them together in one person. A piece of him that no one could take away from her. She would manage somehow. Don't jump ahead, Mac. She got up quickly and got dressed, she needed to get to a drugstore.

 

Half an hour later, she stood before the bathroom sink, staring at the blue positive line on the pregnancy test strip. Blue for positive. Blue for pregnant. She covered her mouth with her hands. Part of her, deep down was absolutely thrilled. A baby, a little person all her own. Maybe a little Billy, with his sandy hair, or maybe a little girl with her dark eyes. How could she do this? She squelched the urge to run to the phone, pick it up and call him. She couldn't. He could never find out about this, never. If he ever found out about this and then about her past, he would feel too guilty to leave her. Or maybe try to take her baby away. Deep down, Mac knew that Billy would never do that. But she couldn't really be sure. To tell the truth, she couldn't be sure about anything anymore.

 

A soft knock on the door disturbed her thoughts. " It's me, Mac.. Betty.. Can I come in?"  Mac walked out of the bathroom. "Yes " she answered. Betty walked in and immediately saw the look on Mac's face. " What is it, Mackenzie?"  . Mac sat down on the edge of the bed. " I need a doctor, Betty..." She walked into the bathroom and brought the test strip with her, showing it to Betty. The woman took it from her and looked at it, and then again at her. "Does this mean what I think it means?" Mac nodded. " What am I gonna do, Betty?" she asked. The woman embraced the young girl, who was seemingly so alone. "First thing we do is call that husband of yours.. he has a right to know." " NO!" Mac shouted. " I'm sorry" she said more softly. " Billy can never know about this, never! I don't want him to feel obligated to me in any way...Please, promise me if he comes here, you won't tell him. Please" Betty looked sadly at Mac. " If that's what you want, all right. But it seems to me you're making a big mistake. If what you've told me about him is true. He would be thrilled to hear this news...but if that's what you want. You need to make an appointment at the doctor. The only ob  in town is old Dr. Lewis.. terrific old guy, you'll like him. I'll take you there whenever you want..."

 

Mac smiled. Betty had been so kind to her. " I can still work here, can't I?" Betty smiled. "Absolutely, for as long as you're up to it. You did a terrific job last night, we got lots of compliments about our new hostess. Lots of questions too, from a lot of the young men around here. I think.." she paused and touched the chain around Mac's neck " I think you'd better start wearing this on your finger..just to avoid 'situations' if you know what I mean." Mac nodded and took off the chain, slipping the ring off and onto her left hand.

 

"You'll be fine, Mac..women have had babies since the beginning of time. It's easier with your husband by your side, of course. But you are strong, I can tell.. You will be able to do this. You want to don't you?" Mac nodded. Her brief thought about possibly not having this baby had disappeared. She was already in love with the idea. " More than anything... This baby means that I will have a piece of Billy with me forever..even if he's not here. I can do this, I know I can." Betty smiled. "Good" she said. "Let's see if we can call Dr. Lewis now, set up and appointment?" Mac nodded. She rubbed her flat stomach slowly. A baby...

 

Billy sat in the bus station , pondering his next move. The manager had summoned the clerk who had been on duty last night. He had not seen Mac, and he had watched the bus unload all of its passengers. He mentioned that the bus had not been non-stop, that it had stopped in Denver before ending up in Seattle. Billy was kicking himself for not checking that fact before he had left home. Stupid, stupid, stupid. What now? What if she hadn't stayed in Denver? And what if his luck with ticket counter clerks ran out if he went to Denver? Well, the one thing he knew, he had to get to Denver, and quickly. He ran outside and hailed a taxi, heading for the airport. Once there, he quickly booked the next flight to Denver, leaving in 30 minutes.

 

The flight was fairly uneventful and brief, but Billy was exhausted. The traveling was catching up with him. It would all be worth it if he could just find her. Find out why she left, and convince her that no matter what, they could work it out. Once the plane landed, the routine was the same, taxi to the bus station, beeline for the ticket counter. He pulled out the picture of Mac, and asked if anyone had seen her. The clerk shook his head, " I was off yesterday, I wouldn't know. The clerk who worked yesterday is due in 15 minutes. You could wait and ask her." He turned back to his work. Billy paced up and down in front of the counter, until the dirty looks from the clerk forced him to take a seat nearby. A woman came in and sat next to the clerk. The clerk looked at him and nodded. He got up and showed her the picture, explaining his request. She nodded. " I sold her a ticket yesterday.. to Boulder.." Billy learned a lesson this time. "Did the bus make any other stops?" She nodded. " Lafayette and Henderson first and then Boulder" He thanked her and then asked " One more question... which town is smaller?" "Henderson" she answered. " It's a real small ski resort town." " I' d like a ticket for the next bus, please" he smiled. She processed the ticket and handed it to him. He paid her and thanked her again. " It leaves in 30 minutes, gate 45"  "Thanks again" he said and walked over to take a seat until the bus was ready for boarding. He was playing a hunch, and he hoped it was correct. Mac was hoping to get lost. and a small town was the perfect place. Henderson sounded like the perfect place for her to get lost. " Not lost for long, Mac..." he said softly, rubbing his finger over her face in the picture he held tightly in his hands.

Chapter 1-9 | Chapter 10-20 | Chapter 21 - 32 | Chapter 33 - Epilogue

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