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Love Will keep us Alive... Sequel  to Crush

Chapter 21 - 32

 The next few weeks were hectic for Billy, what with moving into the apartment, and working at Jabot. He found that he hardly had any time to think about Mac, and what she might be doing and he was glad. He had added things to the apartment gradually, keeping the brass bed and the ugly couch, until the place finally started to look like a real home. His home. The one he had always thought he would share with her. The job at Jabot was cool, though. He was working in the public relations department and had been having a blast. John was happy that his son finally seemed to be coming around to the idea of being involved in the family business.

It was on a hot night in  August that he was surprised by a visitor. Two, actually. He opened the door to find Raul and Kate standing in the hallway. He smiled. The two had been to the apartment before, and Kate had really been helpful to Billy with getting the place fixed up. He opened the door and let them in, motioning for them to have a seat.

" It's great to see you guys, what have you two been up to?" He asked as he sat on a chair across from them. " Would you guys like something to drink?" he asked. Raul shook his head, his face was serious. " No, thanks Billy...Kate and I came here to tell you something..." Kate nodded in agreement. "Why so serious?" Billy asked. "It is serious..it's about you and Brittany and what happened the night of the prom" Kate answered. Billy hadn't seen Brittany since that day at his parents' house. He knew if he saw her again he might do something he would regret. "What happened? Did you find out something?" she shook her head. " I think so" she said softly. " You know that I made varsity cheerleader,right?" she asked smiling. He nodded. "Well, yesterday I was at school to pick up my uniform and I saw Brittany... she was there talking to some of the new cheerleaders, giving them some pointers, I guess. Guess who was with her?"

He shook his head, he had no idea. " It was JT, he was there hitting on all the new girls, bragging about how his dad bought him a car for his graduation. He said he was lucky he got the car because when his mom found her pills missing she was furious" "Pills?" Billy asked.

She nodded. " I got curious, I didn't know JT's mom was sick, so I asked Brittany, you know, like I was concerned, not just curious"  Raul and Billy smiled. She was something once she got started. "Well, Brittany just laughed when I asked her. 'Sick?' she said, like it was a big joke or something..anyway she said that JT's mother was a headcase..the doctor prescribed all kinds of stuff for her. Mostly just to shut her up. I asked her what kind of stuff and she told me they were mostly tranquilizers to calm her down, she gets these anxiety attacks." She stopped to take a breath. "Remember you said that you didn't remember anything after she gave you that soda and you drank it?" Billy nodded and spoke " It all makes sense now, Brittany had been talking to JT just before she came back with the soda. The can was already opened and I remember asking her why. She said she got thirsty and opened it to take a sip." Billy got up and paced around.

Raul stood up. "What are you gonna do, Billy? You're not gonna do anything crazy are you?"

He looked at his friend and shook his head. "No, I'm not..I'm just gonna have a little talk with Miss Hodges" he turned to Kate. "When's the next time you have to be at school?" he asked her. She smiled at him "First practice is tomorrow."  She said. "Brittany said she'd stop by to give us some pointers. Can I be there when you nail her?" she asked excitedly. Billy and Raul threw their heads back and laughed at her. Raul turned to her. " I think Billy wants that pleasure all to himself." Billy nodded. " Raul's right, Kate..I do. But how can I ever thank you for this? You guys have been so great to me, I'll never forget it, I mean it"  Kate waved off his thanks. " The way I figure it, I should be thanking you. Raul and I would have never gotten together if you and Mac hadn't"  she stopped. " I'm sorry, Billy. I didn't mean to bring her up, I just feel like I know her, everybody at the house talks about her all the time. She still calls them, you know". "Kate!" Raul hissed. He loved her all right, just sometimes her mouth got ahead of her. " I don't care, he has a right to know, doesn't he? She's his wife...she still is, isn't she, Billy?".

He nodded. " I guess that's the next thing I have to take care of..but first," he continued forcing the melancholy look off his face. " First I take care of Miss Hodges"


Chapter 22

Billy stood behind the fence at the far end of the athletic field. Brittany had just gotten out of a flashy new red BMW. He wasn't surprised when JT got out from behind the wheel. The two walked over to the cheerleaders and began talking. Billy walked over to where they stood and Brittany noticed him immediately. He was dressed in a suit, he had asked his Dad if he could come in a little later, telling him about what he suspected had happened that night, and what he planned to do about it. Brittany's heart fluttered a little as he walked towards her. What was he doing there? Was he here to see her? It had to be, why else would he come back here?

She smiled and waved. "Hi, Billy..what are you doing here?" JT turned from the gaggle of girls he was flirting with at the sound of Billy's name. "Abbott, what's a big working man hot shot like you doing here?" Billy smirked, still the same old JT. " I need to talk to you two about something, mostly you, Britt. Can we go sit over there?" He pointed to the bleachers behind them. They nodded and walked over, sitting on the lowest benches. " It's about the night of the prom" he began. " I've forgiven you for that, Billy... I think we should move past it." Brittany began, afraid of what he may have found out. " Oh, you have...well that's good to know..JT that's some car you got there.Graduation present?" JT nodded. " I heard you almost didn't get it" Billy continued. " Something about stealing pills from your mom, tranquilizers, I think I heard..." " Yeah, so?" JT asked. " What are you getting at, Abbott?" . Billy stood up on the ground while JT remained seated. " I think you decided to help your little friend here on prom night, and you gave her some of those pills. She slipped them to me and then cried about our mad, passionate lovemaking. How about if I call the cops? I could say you two tried to kill me. You could have you know." He looked at the two of them and knew Kate had nailed it.

JT stood up. " Listen, man it was just a little joke...you can't call the cops...I gave Britt the pills, two little pills that's all...she crushed 'em up and put them in the soda can. I don't know about anything else...please man, you gotta believe me.." He looked at JT's desperate face and actually felt sorry for him. " What about you, Britt? How do you feel about the police?"

"You cant do that Billy, I didn't mean anything...I just wanted you the way it used to be before.." "Tell me exactly what happened, I mean it tell me the truth or I will call the cops"

"Nothing" she whispered. " I loosened your clothes and mine after you passed out, and then I fell asleep. That's it, nothing happened.". Billy smiled. He knew he couldn't have made love to her. It would have been cheating on Mac, and he would never do that. Even though they weren't together anymore, she was still his wife. "That's all I wanted to hear..thanks" he turned and left. Brittany sat stunned, Jill would pay for this, the whole thing had been her idea. Not the drugs, of course, but her continued pursuit of Billy, long past the point when Brittany knew it was pointless.

Billy felt better than he had in a long time. Brittany and he were finished, and he knew that JT and the rest of that crowd were in his past now. He had begun a new life. Not the one he had hoped for, with Mac, but one that he thought he could handle. Now the other thing, the divorce. He knew that it was inevitable, but it still seemed so fresh, their time together still felt as if it were yesterday instead of almost 9 months ago. He had to come to a decision soon.Maybe this was actually something his mother could help him with. He headed towards the car, deciding to pay his mother a little visit.

Brittany called Jill on her cell phone, asking if she could come over to the office to see her.

She said certainly and asked JT to drop her off there. They piled in the car, not too far ahead of Billy, who was headed for the same place. Brittany got there first, and was already in Jill's office when Billy approached the door. He paused outside before knocking, having heard the voices inside and not wanting to disturb her. The voices became more heated, and he couldn't help but listen.

"What are you talking about? You drugged my son? You little witch....." Brittany laughed. "  You're calling me a witch? I'm not the one who forced  Mackenzie out of his life..." Billy's stomach turned over..oh God, she hadn't... He put his ear next to the door. Jill froze. 

"What?" she stammered. " You really have gone off the deep end, haven't you? What makes you think I had anything to do with that?" Brittany smiled. " Don't treat me like an idiot, Jill. I can bring your whole world crashing down around your knees. I heard you talking to someone named Sam on the phone when I was here a few weeks ago. You said that his trip here wouldn't be necessary, you had gotten rid of Mac all by yourself."

Jill tried to keep her composure, surely she was bluffing. She walked around from behind her desk, moving closer to Brittany. " What were you doing, listening at the door?" Brittany smiled.

" I've known for a long time just who and what I was dealing with here. I figured I'd play along with you for as long as it was mutually beneficial" Her smile faded. " I know now that it was pointless, Billy will never give up on her. Even if he does, I ruined any chance I may have had with him. So now I figure I'm not the only one who should have to pay." She folded her arms across her chest, smiling triumphantly.

Jill took a deep breath and forced a smile. " Well, it's seems you've done very nicely for yourself....just one thing...what makes you think Billy would believe you? After what you pulled on prom night, he'll never speak to you again...I just need some time, that's all". "Sorry, Ma..times up.." Their heads both whipped around at the sound of Billy's voice. "Billy..." Jill smiled, not knowing how much he had heard. " Come in, honey..Brittany and I were just having a lovely" "Please!" Billy said angrily. " Please, just shut up....I heard the whole thing...Brittany, would you please get out of here? I need to speak to my mother alone."

Brittany ducked out quickly, grateful for the chance to escape. Billy's face was nearly purple with rage. She shut the door after her, and Billy turned to face his mother. Mother..an unfortunate accident of birth. She had never been a real mother to him, not in the true sense of the word. Jill was afraid to speak. She looked at her son and saw the hatred and disgust in his eyes. "Billy" she began, her eyes filling with tears. " I don't know what you think you heard.." "Save it" he said abruptly. " I heard everything...I know you forced Mac out of my life, and you used that scumbag stepfather of hers. What I don't understand is why she left...she told me the whole story of what happened.." Jill snapped " Did she tell you that she tried to seduce him? And that they split up because of her? No, I guess the little tramp left that part out, didn't she?"

Billy had to physically restrain himself from hitting her. He took a deep breath and continued.

" No, she told me the truth...that Sam, your trusted source...tried to molest her, on more than one occasion. Thank God he never succeeded, she ran away before he could. Mac could only guess at why they split up, she was gone by then. Let me guess.. you told Mac that she wasn't good enough for me, was that it?" Jill was in tears now. She had known that the story from Sam was probably a  lie, but the thought that he was an attempted pedophile hadn't entered her mind. " Yes, Billy...I told her that...I also told her that you would be ashamed of her once everyone found out, that the only reason you would stay with her would be out of guilt, not love. You have to believe me, I never thought that she had been through all of that...." "What's the matter, Ma? Feeling guilty all of a sudden?" Billy looked at her and realized it was true. The tears in her eyes were genuine, or at least they seemed to be.

Jill nodded. " You have to know that I did this for you, Billy.. I didn't think she could make you happy, you two are so different. Please, I did it for your own good." He laughed. "Trying to make yourself feel better? You didn't do it for 'my own good', you did it because you hate her, you have from the moment you laid eyes on her. How do you think Dad is gonna feel about this? Or Mrs Chancellor? Or Mac's Dad?"  Jill spoke, her voice hoarse through her tears. "Billy, please...what can I do to make this up to you?"

"Nothing..." he said coldly. "There's nothing you can do...except...."  "What? Billy I will do anything, you have to believe me."  She was frantic now, she had never seen Billy so cold and distant. " You are coming with me..to the Chancellor's. I call Dad and tell him to meet us there. You are going to tell everyone the whole story, from the beginning. They need to know" Jill nodded reluctantly and agreed. "Whatever you want Billy, I'll do whatever you want". After leaving a message with John's secretary, they left for the Chancellor estate. The whole truth would finally come out, Billy would see to that. Then and only then, he could make things right again with Mac.


Chapter 23

Mac lay on the bed in her small room. It had been very hot the last couple of days, and her feet had begun to swell, even when she sat down. She was still acting as hostess, even though she was nearly 8 1/2 months pregnant. Betty had been so good to her, she felt it was the least she could do. Besides, she was young and strong, and she needed to keep busy. The closer it came to her due date, the more she found herself thinking about Billy. Somedays more than others, and today was one of those days.She and Betty had just come from a small shopping trip. They had bought diapers and some sleepers in strictly neutral colors. Mac had not wanted to know the sex of her baby. The doctor assured her that everything was fine, and that was more than enough for her. Boy or girl, she already loved it more than anything. She already had just about everything she would need for the baby's first few months. Betty had the crib brought down from the attic that she had used for all of her grandchildren. Everything was in place, all that was left to do now was wait.. She was still helping Betty whenever she could, but most of the time it was too hot, or she was just too uncomfortable to do anything but sit and wait. Wait  for the day her baby would be born, the day her new life would really begin. She would continue to work for Betty, even after the baby's birth, she had decided. She hadn't yet decided what she would do if Billy divorced her.

He had every right to, she had abandoned him months ago, hadn't even told him he was about to be a father..he had a right to know that, didn't he? She couldn't, not yet...maybe someday after everything was settled, after Billy had filed for the divorce. They would both have new lives by then. It sounded simple when she went over it in her head, but she knew it would never be as easy as that. She wished he were here with her, the closer the inevitable day came, the more frightened she became. She knew that if he were here, all her fears would be gone. What was he doing now? Summertime, probably partying the nights away with Brittany.

She got up from the bed, a task that she no longer took from granted, it was becoming harder and harder to move easily every day. She fingered the ring she wore, back on the chain around her neck, it no longer fit on her swollen fingers. Very few people asked her where her husband was, she figured they had been warned off by Betty. She still had terrible bouts of homesickness, sometimes, like today, they were worse than others. She wandered out of her room and into the hallway. Things were pretty quiet, it was the time of day between lunch and dinner. She arched her back, it had been aching all day and wandered into Betty's room. For some reason, she felt the terrible need to hear a familiar voice and she sat down on the edge of the bed, staring at the telephone.

She had just spoken with her Dad yesterday, assuring him that everything was fine. She picked up the phone and began to dial the Chancellor home.

Kay and Brock were standing in the living room, wondering why Billy had sounded so frantic and serious on the phone. Why was he headed here? He had deliberately stayed away since he had returned from St.Louis after seeing Mac. And why was John Abbott on his way here? Could he have found something out about Mackenzie, something she didn't tell them yesterday? The phone ringing interrupted their conversation. Kay picked it up. "Chancellor residence" she answered. " Hi, Grandma" Mac answered, the sound of her voice was comforting, it sounded like home. " Mackenzie? How wonderful to hear from you so soon again, dear. Your father said you called yesterday...Is everything all right?" Brock moved closer to his mother. "Yes, everything's fine Grandma, it's just that I missed talking to you yesterday..." "Are you sure that everything's all right, dear? " Kay asked again. The doorbell rang behind her and Esther answered it. Mac heard the doorbell over the phone. " I'll let you go, Grandma, I love you and Dad and I miss you both.. tell him for me, okay?" She hung up. "Mackenzie...you don't.. Mackenzie..." Kay sighed. Billy walked into the living room, followed by Jill. "Was that Mac?" he asked Kay eagerly, and she nodded. " Is she allright?" "Yes, she's fine...although that's the first time since she's been gone that she's called two days in a row..Maybe she's homesick, she sounded a little strange."

"Strange, strange how? She didn't sound sick or hurt or anything...Mrs. Chancellor, tell me..." Betty had said she would call him if anything was wrong. Nothing could go wrong now, not when they were so close. Hang on Mac I'm coming, he thought silently. He let out a sigh of relief when Kay touched his arm and shook her head. "She's fine, Billy..or so she says. She sounds very lonely, and very homesick. I just wish she would come home." " We've made a decision, and I think you should hear it."

Brock spoke for the first time, and Billy looked at him.

 " If I can't convince her to come home the next time she calls,  I'm going to St. Louis to get my daughter. This has gone on long enough, she needs to be here with the people who love her." Billy smiled at him. " That's why I'm here, Mr.Reynolds. I know now why she left in the first place. My mother has something to say to all of you." He looked behind him at Jill. The doorbell rang, and Esther led John Abbott into the living room. Esther turned to leave, and Billy stopped her. "Wait,Esther..I think you deserve to hear this, too. Your daughter and Raul have been great friends to me" Esther smiled and turned back, standing next to Kay and Brock.

John spoke, "Well, Billy..we're all here. What was so important?". " Mom has something to say to all of you, don't you Mom?" Jill nodded. "Before I start, you all have to understand that I thought that I was doing the best thing for everyone concerned..I didn't mean to hurt any of you..especially you, Billy." she paused and looked around, seeing no sympathy in any of the eyes around her. "It's about Mackenzie...and why she really left. It was because of me." She launched into her story, stopping frequently to wipe away tears. She spoke quietly and when she was finished, the room was silent.

John spoke first. " I never thought I would see the day when you something you did would surprise me, but I am speechless. How could you?" he shook his head. "Katherine..Brock..I am so sorry.." Kay and Brock sat in stunned silence. Mac had not had the chance to tell them about Sam before she left. "Why..why didn't she tell us?" Kay asked. "And why would she go back there?" Billy grasped her hands. " She wanted to, Mrs. Chancellor, she really did. When she told me, I wanted her to tell you and she said she would....I guess she never got the chance. And now it's my turn to tell the truth." He stood up. " I lied when I told you Mac was in St.Louis....she would never go back there. I found her in Colorado, in a small town called Henderson. She's fine..she has a job, she's going to school. She works for a woman named Betty Johnson. I've been calling Betty all along to check up on her. She's fine, really. I wanted to tell you, both of you, where she's really been, but she threatened to take off to someplace where I would never find her. At least I've known where she was, and how she was..I'm sorry.."

Brock stood up and put his hand across Billy's shoulders. "It's allright, Billy...I can see how hard this has been on you...I know you never would have left if you didn't think she would be ok. You did what you thought was best, we understand that, don't we, Mother?" Kay nodded. " Of course, Billy...none of this is your fault." She glared at Jill.

"We all know whose fault it really is, don't we?" She stood up from the sofa and moved closer to Jill. " I could kill you with my bare hands, do you know that Jill?  Except you're not worth it...get out of my house..I mean it..this is my house now! Understand? Unless you want the whole world to find out about your little trick? In fact, I'll have the car brought around, I wouldn't want you to stay here any longer than necessary." Jill nodded, she had no choice. Esther left to have the car brought around and Jill turned to leave, and looked around. " I'll send someone to get my things," she whispered. She walked out the door and paused outside. " You may think you've won, all of you..I'm not through with any of you yet.." she walked down the step towards the waiting car.

Billy turned towards the group gathered before him. " I'm heading to Colorado, as soon as I can get there...Will you all come with me? I really don't think I can handle this by myself." Kay and Brock nodded, smiling " Try and stop us!" Kay exclaimed. "If you think we're going to wait here to see Mackenzie, you are sadly mistaken, young man!"

John stepped forward. "Are you sure you want me to come along, son? I don't want to interfere in your life, you seem to be doing just fine on your own." Billy smiled at his father, they had really come a long way in a short time. "Please, Dad...I need you to be there..." John returned his smile. " Of course... I'll even fire up the company jet, we need to get there as quickly as possible. I'll call the pilot right now..Katherine, may I?"

She nodded quickly and John picked up the phone to call the pilot. Brock moved next to Billy and again put his hand on his shoulder. " I can't wait to see her...I don't have to  ask you how you feel about this, do I?"

Billy smiled and shook his head. " I guess not.. I have to tell you, Mr. Reynolds..when Mac comes back here..I intend to stay her husband, if she'll have me...I hope you know that." He looked at Brock. "Let's get her back here first, Billy. We can discuss all that once she's home.." "There's nothing to discuss, Mr. Reynolds....I won't bring her back here only to lose her again. I know you need her, but you have to understand..I need her too. More than anything. I've been walking around like a ghost the last few months..I realized more than ever that we belong together. I know she may have something to say about that, but if she wants to, we are going to stay married."

Brock looked at Billy and realized there was no sense in arguing about it now. The important thing was to bring Mackenzie home, as soon as possible.


Chapter 24

Mac hung up the phone. She never should have called, her Grandmother was probably freaking by now, wondering why she had called two days in a row. She stood up slowly and sat back down again, nearly doubled over by sharp, shooting pains in her back and stomach. She felt a warm liquid dripping down her legs. Her water broke...Oh God.."Betty! Betty!" she screamed. She heard footsteps running down the hallway and the door burst open. Betty looked at her, and realized immediately what had happened.

"Mac...be calm, honey..it's ok...I'll call Doctor Lewis...we'll get you to the hospital..."

She picked up the phone and dialed the number. She left a message with his secretary, asking her to tell the Doctor to meet them at the hospital. 

She hung up the phone and turned to Mac, trying her best to reassure her. " It's going to be fine sweetheart..really..breathe, honey, breathe...remember the Lamaze," Betty had gone faithfully with Mac to her Lamaze classes, and before each one had fought with herself not to call Billy. She would do that no longer. He deserved to be here, but how could she call him? Mac would never let her.She would do it when they got to the hospital. She would have a chance then. " I'll get your bag, honey..remember? It's all ready for you..." She ran down the hall and got the suitcase they had packed two weeks ago from the closet in her room.

"Can you stand?" Mac nodded. She stood up slowly, grimacing with pain. They walked slowly down the hallway and the stairs. Betty got her keys and put Mac in the car first and got in. She drove slowly down the few blocks to the hospital. When they arrived at the front desk, an orderly brought a wheelchair and Mac sat down. As they turned to bring her to the labor room, she pulled on Betty's sleeve. " Please..Betty...call Billy...I want Billy, please..." she whispered through gritted teeth and tears. Betty nodded. " Of course, honey. We'll get you checked in, and I'll call him right away...He'll be on the first flight out...." Mac nodded and whispered "Thank you for everything, Betty" and the orderly turned the chair around and headed down the hallway.

 Betty gave the clerk Mac's information and filled out her paperwork, leaving some of the information she didn't know blank. She told her she would get the rest of the information from Mac later, and then asked to use the telephone. The clerk nodded and pointed to the phone at the end of the desk. Betty pulled out the small piece of paper that Billy had written his telephone number on. She tried the cell phone first, no answer. She then dialed the number of the Abbott house.The woman who answered the phone said that Billy had gone to Colorado with his father, on the company jet. They had left about an hour ago, they should be arriving in about two hours. Betty thanked her and sighed, hanging up the phone. Get here Billy..please get here soon.

She called the Inn, Billy would go there first, of course. She left a message at the desk to tell him where they were. She hung up the phone and ran down the hallway towards the labor room.

Two hours later, Mac was still in labor. Doctor Lewis said that it could last hours longer, or that it could end any minute. Betty had been with her, sitting next to her, giving her ice cubes and wiping her forehead, giving her encouragement. She looked at the clock on the wall opposite the bed. "Betty..." Mac spoke softly. The contractions had eased a bit, and she lay back against the pillows under her back. " Why aren't they here yet? Hasn't it been two hours? Maybe they decided not to come..." Betty patted her hand. "Considering how long you've waited to see him...I think you can wait a little while longer...they should be here soon....I think they'll be a little bit surprised, don't you?" Betty chuckled. Mac smiled, but she was still worried. What if Billy didn't want her? What if he was coming here to deliver divorce papers in person? And why was his Dad coming with him?

Billy bolted out of the car that John had waiting for them as soon as the plane landed. Why was she in the hospital? The woman at the Inn didn't say..at least Billy hadn't given her a chance to tell him, he had run out of there as soon as he had heard the word. He walked in the door and up to the front desk, please God, let her be all right, please...even if she doesn't want me...please let her be allright.... "Can you help me, please?" he asked the clerk at the front desk. Kay, Brock and John were just walking up to the front desk, all with looks ranging from frantic to terrified. " Yes, sir.." the clerk answered. "Are you ill? Do you need a doctor?" he shook his head. " No..I'm looking for someone..my wife..Mackenzie Abbott.." he paused. "She may have checked in under the last name of Reynolds.." The clerk smiled. "No, I checked her in myself...Mackenzie Abbott.. she's down the hall in the labor room."

Billy's heart began to pound, the blood swooshing around in his ears. Had he just heard that? Labor room? " A baby?" he asked, looking at the clerk. The clerk smiled and nodded. "That's usually what happens in a labor room..." Billy turned around to face the others, staggering slightly. "Did you hear that? A baby... I gotta go.." He bolted down the hallway, peeking in each door. The clerk smiled. "Only the father is allowed in the labor room..You'll be able to see her soon, I'm sure". Brock, Kay and John stood together, all in shock. " A baby?' Kay was in tears. " How will they handle this? They're children themselves!"  Brock nodded. " I know, mother...all of this is a little overwhelming, why don't we sit down? John?" he gestured towards the chairs in the lobby and they sat down together. John rubbed his eyes, this was not what he had expected for his son.Married, with a child at 18? With a wife only 17? He sighed. His son was about to finish the rapid growing up he had started in a hurry. Brock smiled to try and ease the tension. " A new life is always a blessing...maybe this one came a little sooner than any of us may have expected..but we must welcome this child, help them with this in any way we can. It's too late for regrets or recriminations" Kay nodded, as did John. " I know, Brock and of course we will all love this child...It's just that they have such a tough road ahead of them...do you think they possibly know how rough this will be? What a huge responsibility a child is?" John asked.

Kay spoke " I think they know, John...Brock is right. This child is a blessing, we can't let them see that we have any reservations about it. We must be happy for them." She smiled. " I think I look pretty good for a great-grandmother, don't you?" she asked and both men laughed. John extended his hand to Brock "Congratulations, Grandpa!" Brock laughed and shook it. "Thank you, Grandpa.. I never expected to be a father and a grandfather so close together" and they all laughed again.


Chapter 25

Billy raced down the hallway, frantically peeking in doorways, until he reached the one at the end of the hallway. He paused before opening the door, not knowing what to expect. He took a deep breath and pushed it open. Mac was sitting straight up in bed, her knees raised. She was wearing a hospital gown, her hair gathered into a ponytail at the top of her head. She was panting and sweating, and Billy thought his heart would explode from his chest. Betty smiled at him and he put his finger to his lips. Mac hadn't noticed him come in, her eyes were closed as the contraction passed. She lay back against the pillows and released Betty's hand. Betty crept around the bed quietly, and out of the room. Billy sat in the chair next to the bed and looked at her, amazed at her strength and determination. She spoke "Betty, what time is it? Do you think they've gotten here yet?" He slipped his hand in hers..She knew who it was immediately, she felt the same electric charge she had the first time he touched her.

She opened her eyes. " I'm here..." Billy said. " I should have never left you in the first place..." he smiled. " you really meant it when you said you wanted to keep surprising me every day, didn't you?" she laughed " A happy surprise.. I hope?" her face showed her worry and pain. He leaned in and kissed her softly. " The happiest...a baby..the two of us together in one person.." he touched her cheek softly. " You look so beautiful..." she laughed again. " Oh, sure..fat, sweaty..." she gripped his hand tightly as another contraction began. He grabbed her hand " What can I do? Tell me...You're supposed to breathe, right? Breathe, honey..breathe..." He stroked her forehead. The height of the contraction passed and she loosened her grip on his hand. " I think they're getting closer together now...the last one was only about 5 minutes ago..." she smiled. Billy kissed her again, he couldn't resist. She looked so different from the last time they had been together, the smile was back, the anger seemed to be gone.

 " Honey...I have to tell you...the reason I'm here, the reason we're all here...I know what my mom did to you..why you left. Everyone knows...that's why we're all here..." he ran his finger over her lips slowly. " She will never be able to come between us again, do you understand? No one will break up our family again, no one..." Mac smiled at his use of the word family, they really were a family now. " I love you" he continued. " The last few months have been the worst of my life, I was walking around like a dead man..." she nodded. " I know how that is...I worked..I did school...Oh, did I tell you I am a high school graduate?" she nodded. " It's true!  All that hard work I did back home must have paid off, I guess. Once I found out I was pregnant, I figured I should get it out of the way before the baby came...between that and work I was busy, but it didn't stop me from thinking about you every day and every night...I love you more than anything, Billy.." She grabbed his hand tighter as the contractions began again. " I think you should get the doctor, Billy. They're really close now..." 

He pushed the buzzer next to the bed, and a nurse came into the room shortly after. Billy grabbed Mac's hand as the nurse examined Mac. She smiled and patted her knee.

"I think baby Abbott is about to make an appearance, I'll get Doctor Lewis" she left the room and returned with the doctor. A kindly looking old man with a rumpled appearance. He looked at Billy. " So, the father makes his appearance? Well, looks like you arrived just in time young man." He extended his hand and Billy shook it, smiling.

" Are we going to the delivery room now?" he asked. Doctor Lewis shook his head. " No, son we're going next door, to the birthing room.. your wife has decided to go the modern way..." The nurse walked in and handed Billy a set of scrubs. " Put these on, I'll take your wife next door" Billy took them and nodded. He leaned over and kissed Mac. " I'll be right in, honey..." and the nurse carefully helped her into a wheelchair and took her next door. Billy put on the scrubs and went next door. The room looked like a nursery, with lots of color and nursery rhyme figures painted on the walls. A small crib sat next to a large stretcher where Mac sat in an upright position.She smiled at the sight of him in scrubs. He sat on a chair next to her and grabbed her hand. "Ready to play Doctor?" she asked, laughing. He waggled his eyebrows up and down at her  suggestively, "Don't you think we should have the baby first?" She laughed again and nodded.

The contraction began again, stronger than any of the others and Billy grabbed Mac's hand. Doctor Lewis sat before her legs and examined her. " Okay Mackenzie.. time to start pushing..." Mac grabbed Billy's hand and began to push. Billy thought that surely his fingers would be broken afterward, her grip on his hand was like a vise. Her face was red, and the sweat was pouring off of her. She continued pushing as the doctor instructed... " I can see the head Mackenzie...now the shoulders...push Mac, push..." She pushed harder until she thought that her heart would explode out of her chest,screaming in agony. Billy's heart wrenched at the sound of her screams...he gripped her hand tighter, whispering to her.. " Just a little more, honey....I know it hurts...please honey...just a little longer." She opened her eyes and looked at him briefly, seeing the tears running down his cheeks. " I'm ok...just don't let go of my hand...please" she tightened her grip and bore down, pushing again.

The doctor was working quickly now... " one more Mac...make it a big one..." She grabbed the bed rail with her free hand and leaned forward, pushing with all her strength, still grasping Billy's hand in a death grip. She screamed loudly and sat back, her strength gone. She closed her eyes and heard a shrill cry. " Is it okay?" she asked weakly. Doctor Lewis smiled at her and Billy. " Mr and Mrs. Abbott... you have a son..." The doctor wrapped the baby in a small white blanket and laid him on Mac's chest. She looked down at him, his face red and wrinkled, screaming at the top of his lungs..and was filled with such a deep and overwhelming love that she felt her heart would break. She looked at Billy, whose tears had not stopped. " Look at him...." He said softly.. " Our son..." she said. He leaned in and kissed her and leaned down to touch the top of his newborn son's head with his lips. He whispered to him.. "welcome to the world, little guy..do you know you have the luckiest daddy in the world? The luckiest daddy and the most beautiful mommy..."

Mac smiled and clutched his tiny hand, he wrapped it around her finger tightly. She couldn't seem to stop looking at him..he was so beautiful. The nurse took him, under protest from both his parents. " I need to get him cleaned up and weighed, you know, hospital stuff...and we need to get you back to your room.." She took the baby and left the room, promising to bring him back as soon as possible.

Mac was exhausted, as was Billy and she was asleep before they brought her back to her room. Doctor Lewis had promised to tell the waiting family members in the lobby, but Billy wanted to see them himself. He kissed her forehead and went down the hallway to the lobby. They leapt up at the sight of him and Kay nearly knocked him over when she hugged him tightly. "Where is that great-grandson of mine?" she asked him. Brock was next to embrace him... " He's with the nurse, she promised to bring him back as soon as possible. The doctor told you that they're  both fine?" they nodded. "good, she's asleep now, but we can all go in and wait until she wakes up"

John stepped forward to embrace his son. " I know you must be sick of hearing this, but I am so proud of you son...You'll know what that's like now, you have a son of your own.." Billy returned the embrace. " Thanks, Dad...I never get tired of hearing that...I just hope I don't get as much trouble from him as I gave you.." John laughed.. " It would serve you right..." he pulled away from his son, who was also laughing. " No need to worry about that, his Mom is pretty tough...my kid is gonna have to watch his step..C'mon, let's go see him...I can't wait to show him off."


Chapter  26

The happy group headed down the hallway. Billy peeked his head in the room first. Mac was still fast asleep, and they tiptoed inside. Next to the bed, swathed in a tiny blue blanket was his son. He now wore a little blue knit cap to keep his head warm and as he walked closer to him, he heard soft cooing sounds coming from the crib. He stood over him, tears again forming in his eyes. Would he ever be able to look at  him without crying? He smiled and motioned for the rest of the family to come forward.

They walked softly, and Kay began to cry almost immediately.. " Oh, dear...he's so beautiful," she grasped Brock's hand. She leaned in with her other hand to touch his tiny hand..The baby grabbed onto it immediately,wrapping his tiny fingers around hers, not letting go.  John leaned in and smiled. “ He’s the image of Billy at the same age…”  Katherine shook her head, “ I hate to argue with you John, but look, he has Mackenzie’s nose….” “ Hey”. Mac's voice was barely above a whisper. " No arguing..."

They turned to see her sitting up in bed, smiling. She held her arms out to her father and he sat on the edge of the bed, embracing her. She beckoned to her grandmother to come closer, and soon all three were embracing. When they finally broke apart, she smiled at John. "Thank you for coming here, Mr. Abbott...I know this isn't exactly what you were expecting..Thank you for bringing my family here." Billy walked over and took her hand, standing next to the bed. " You're more than welcome, Mackenzie..I know that we don't know each other very well, but I hope we can change that..I don't know what to say about what you've been through... I can only hope to make up for everything that Jill has done. I'll do everything I can to help you two.." He stepped towards the bed, and Kay and Brock stood up to allow him to move closer.

He took her hand and smiled. "Thank you for my beautiful grandson..and for bringing my son closer to me." He looked at the others.. " Guess this means every Christmas together from now on?" and everyone laughed. When the laughter died down, Brock spoke " Mackenzie, your grandmother and I know about Sam...and what happened in St. Louis. I know you would have told us..We want to help you in whatever way we can." She smiled and grasped Billy's hand. " I know you do..and I'm sorry I never spoke about it earlier...I just wanted to forget about it, and then things got so crazy.."

Her smile faded briefly, and then brightened again. " Did Billy tell you that I am a high school graduate?" Kay and Brock smiled and shook their heads. "It's true...I have my diploma, it's back at the Inn.." She looked at Billy. " Did you guys see Betty? You have to meet her, she's been so wonderful to me."

Kay nodded. "We met her in the waiting room, she said to tell you that she would be back later, and that your baby is almost as beautiful as her grandchildren were. She seems like a wonderful woman. I would love to be able to thank her for everything she's done." Billy nodded. " I could tell she was good people the minute I met her.." He looked down at Mac. " I never would have left you here if she wasn't. I never should have left you in the first place.." Mac shushed him " Everything that's happened has been my fault, I should have stood up to your mother...I knew deep down, that you would understand..I just didn't want you to end up hating me."

Billy crouched down next to her, still holding her hand. " You know that I will never let her or anyone else come between us again, don't you?" She nodded. "Good." He said. " My mother has done enough damage for two lifetimes...I don't want my son anywhere near her." "Billy!" John spoke sharply. "She's still your mother..Now she may have done some reprehensible things, but she deserves to know her grandson.." Brock spoke next, nodding his head to agree with John. " Your father is right, Billy...I know that Jill's behavior has been awful, but you know that deep down, she loves you...she does deserve to know this beautiful child." Kay interrupted. " Now is not the time or place to discuss this, no anger or arguments today..Why don't we let these two have some time alone with their child?" Kay leaned over and kissed her granddaughter. " We'll go to the Inn...I would really like to talk to Betty..We'll come back in a couple of hours, all right?" Billy looked at Mac and she nodded. " If my old lady says it's ok by her, then it's ok by me!" and Mac slapped at his arm. They said their goodbyes, and left for the Inn.

As soon as they were out of the room, Billy closed the door. He motioned for Mac to move over and she did so slowly, she was still awfully sore, and had the feeling she would be for the foreseeable future. Billy leaned over and picked up his son, careful to try and hide the fact that his hands were shaking. He sat down on the bed next to her, pulling his legs up after him, and when he was settled in, handed his son to his mother.

She took him gently, being careful to support his head, she had read that in one of the many baby books that she had read over the long summer alone. She leaned her face in close to his, rubbing her nose against his tiny one, gently. She felt so close to him, the tiny person who had been inside her all this time was finally here. Billy looked at both of them, realizing everything that mattered to him was in this bed. " I'm sorry I wasn't there for you..when you found out for sure..I feel like I missed so much." Mac looked up at him. " That's mostly my fault, Billy..I should have told you, I never should have let you leave that day.." She handed him his son carefully. " I've had nine months to get to know him...You have the rest of our lives.." He nodded and looked at the child in his arms. " Do you feel this? Like you would already do anything for him?" She nodded.

" Pretty amazing, isn't it? I felt that way even when he was still inside me..I guess it won't take you long to catch up, huh?" she smiled. He shook his head. "Have you thought about any names, Mac?" Knowing her, he knew she had done her research, and he was right, she devoured baby name books along with all the others. She nodded her head. " I've thought about it a lot...I couldn't decide.." She looked up at him.. "Any ideas, Daddy?" he smiled. "We could call him Brock, after your dad..or John after mine.." "And then, there's always William Foster Abbott, Jr." she said. Billy's face lit up. "Really? You thought about naming him after me? Even all that time when we were apart?" she nodded. " I always came back to that one. I knew that even if you never knew about him, it would keep a part of you with me" She reached over and pulled the blanket closer around her now sleeping child. " I talked to him about you, all the time he was inside me..how you saved me..how wonderful you are.." He looked down at the sleeping child in his arms and smiled. He looked at Mac " Just as long as he doesn't do half the stupid things I've done.." She laughed. " You sound like a father already! I don't think we hafta worry about that stuff for awhile yet...at least until he can talk." They both laughed, the happiness inside them too big to keep inside.


Chapter 27

They sat like that for the next hour or so, until the nurse came in to remind them that newborn babies need rest and took the baby from them and brought him down the hall to the nursery. It was the first time they were really alone since Billy had gotten here, and he was a little bit glad. Things had been so hectic, the quiet was wonderful. "Billy" Mac clutched his hand, he was still sitting next to her in the bed. " Ummm?" he answered, his eyes were halfway closed..if he was this tired, how come Mac seemed wide awake? He wondered.  " How did you find out? I mean about your mother and what really happened? You didn't exactly say when you got here, you were kinda busy.." she smiled at him and he opened his eyes to return the favor.

" Guess I was.." he said, still smiling, although it faded slightly when he thought about his mother and all the things she had done. He looked at Mac, and grasped her hand more tightly. " You realize that she can't hurt us anymore?" He sat up straighter and put his hand under her chin. " I mean it..anyone who tries to hurt you or our son is someone who'll regret it, even if it is my own mother." She nodded. " I know that now, Billy..Did she tell you what happened?" He shook his head. " Of course not..I overhead her talking with your old friend Brittany." Mac looked down. " I saw you two, you know..at the prom.." He looked at her. " You knew about that?" She nodded. " I used to read the Chronicle online sometimes...made me a little less homesick, you know? I saw that you and she were king and queen..." her voice faded a little at the end, she hadn't meant to bring it up so soon.

"Mac, look at me." She did and he continued. " I did it as a favor to her, she didn't have a date...that was before I knew about her and my mother..." he told her the whole story, about how the two of them had been conspiring together, and how he had learned of his mother's efforts to break them apart. "Do you really think that after all of that she's really given up?" He sighed and clutched her hand. " I hope so, when your grandmother found out she threw her out of the house and threatened to tell everyone what she had done. I only hope that she learns a lesson this time.." Mac nodded and rested her head against Billy's shoulder, closing her eyes. He looked down at her, she could barely keep her eyes open. He waited until she was asleep and then slipped out, he wanted to give her a chance to rest, and he needed to get to the Inn to thank Betty for everything. He peeked in the nursery window at his son, who was also sleeping quietly. He told the nurse to let Mac know that he would be back soon and  walked through the lobby and out the door, the inn was only a few blocks away.

When he got there he found his father, Kay and Brock seated at one of the tables in the dining room. Betty was there as well, and they were talking and laughing as if they had known each other for years. He smiled and walked towards the table. " I hope I'm not interrupting?" he asked. They turned at the sound of his voice. John stood up . " Of course not, son..is everything all right?" Billy nodded. "  As much as I hated to leave, Mac fell asleep and I figured she really needed the rest. I wanted to come by and thank you in person, Betty." Betty stood up and walked over to Billy, embracing him. " I'm so glad she trusted me enough to let me help her." She pulled away from him and smiled.

Billy smiled back at her. " You've done so much for her, for both of us.. we won't ever forget it." Betty waved her hand " I was happy to help her, she really is such a sweet girl. Tougher than anyone I've ever met, I think. She really is going to be a great mother" Billy nodded. " I know she will, I just hope I can be half as good a father.."

Betty grasped his hand and patted it. " Just love the both of them, that's a good start. You'll see, the rest will kind of kick in, like instinct. You'll be fine." She looked at the others sitting around the table. " Why don't you sit with us for awhile? Would you like something to eat? Some coffee?" He nodded and sat down. " Just some coffee, thanks Betty" He grabbed a cup and poured some from the pot at the center of the table.

"Billy" Kay began. " We were all just discussing what would happen when we returned to Genoa City.." " Nothing's going to happen, Mrs. Chancellor. The three of us are going to be together, that's all I know" Brock interjected. " Have you thought about how you're going to manage? You've enrolled at the University, haven't you?" He nodded. "That's fine, but how do you expect to support a family of three?" Billy paused. " I have a job at Jabot, working in the public relations department. I don't expect any charity, Dad" He looked at John. " I promise to do a good job for you.."

" I know that, son and by all accounts you've done spendidly this summer. But don't you think your education is important, too? We're not trying to come down on you, son, or Mackenzie. We just want to let you know that we can help you, if you'll let us"

Kay nodded. " Anything you need, Billy." Brock added " We just want to let you know that even though this is not necessarily what any of us expected, we want to help you anyway we can." Billy looked around the table and smiled. " Thank you, all of you. We both know that the odds are against us. To tell you the truth, I'm kind of overwhelmed by the whole thing myself..I know it's not gonna be easy, but I know we can make it."

John spoke again. " I think we'll be able to work something out at Jabot, Billy. Flexible hours, work around your school schedule. Just promise us that if things get too difficult, you'll come to us..promise?" He nodded. " I promise... Are you guys ready to go back to the hospital? I feel like I've been away forever.." They all rose to their feet except Betty. " Betty?" Billy asked. " You're coming too...you haven't met my son yet"

" I really was hoping I could...I talked to that little guy so much, I feel like I've met him already" She rose to her feet and joined them, letting the clerk behind the front desk know that she was leaving, and they all set off for the hospital.


Chapter 28

Mac had awoken a little while after Billy left and after her initial panic, the nurse had assured her that he would be back. She had asked the nurse if she could bring the baby back and she had, and she had been holding him ever since. She had already counted his fingers and toes, marvelling at how tiny and perfect his fingernails were. His hair was a sandy brown color and his eyes were a deep navy blue. Mac knew from her baby books that most babies had blue eyes at birth, she hoped they would stay that way.

She couldn't seem to take her eyes off him. His skin was so soft, and he smelled so good. " Will" she whispered. " I think that's what we'll call you...if it's okay with your daddy, of course." She stroked his tiny hand softly. " I know you don't know him very well yet..but he loves you as much as I do...I promise to be a good mom, the best one I can be..." " The best there is..." she looked up at the sound and saw Billy standing in the doorway, a large bunch of daisies in his hand. Her father and grandmother were close behind, followed by John and Betty.Mac smiled as the group entered the room.

Billy walked over to the bed and extended the daisies. "Trade ya?" he asked and she laughed. He placed the daisies on the bed and took his son from her arms. She picked up the daisies and held them against her, fingering the blossoms.

Billy carried his son over to Betty. "Will' he whispered. " There's someone here who wants to meet you" Betty leaned over to look closely at the tiny baby in his arms. " Oh, he's beautiful!"  she cooed. " He has the best of both of you, it looks like" she reached in and touched his soft cheek. " It's nice to finally meet you in person, young man...I talked to you everyday when you were inside your mommy...I think you'll like it out here in the world. You already have some lucky people here who love you very much"

She stood up and walked towards the bed, grasping Mac's hand. She looked around the room "You all should be very proud of this young lady..and her young man...they been through a lot, and they seem to have come out the other side fine." She leaned over and kissed Mac on the cheek and then walked over to Billy, leaning in to kiss the baby on the cheek, and reaching up to kiss Billy as well. " I'm going to leave you all to get better accquainted with this sweet baby...I'll see you back at the Inn" and she said her goodbyes and left.

"The doctor said we can go home whenever I'm ready..." Mac spoke after Betty had left. " So soon?" Kay asked. Mac nodded. John spoke next " I think we should all get a good nights sleep, and then have the jet take off first thing in the morning..." Brock nodded and smiled at the baby now asleep in his arms. They had all been taking turns holding him, and Mac and Billy could sense that they were all falling as much in love with him as they already were. " As much as I hate to admit it, I'm exhausted.." Mac said softly. " I would kind of like to have one night before I go back to Genoa City..regroup before the hectic stuff begins.." she looked at Billy. " Would that be okay?" she asked. He nodded and smiled. " I agree..things are probably gonna get a little crazy back home.." Mac got up out of bed, slowly rising to her feet. Billy took her hand and helped her to the bathroom so she could get washed and dressed.

They were ready to go in about an hour, and when they arrived at the Inn, Betty had their rooms waiting for them. Mac sat down on the edge of the bed as Billy closed the door. Betty had set up the crib next to the bed and the baby was already fast asleep. Billy joined her on the edge of the bed, and took her hand. " Alone at last..." he smiled and leaned in to kiss her. She looked at him and then around the room. " I dreamed about this a lot in this very room.." she said. " I never thought it would come true.." He grasped her hand more tightly. She had been through so much, most of it without him there. " It's true, believe it.." he smiled. " I want you to know that I intend to make up for lost time..." he waggled his eyebrows at her again, in a way he knew always made her laugh. She did and he continued " When we get home, things are going to be the way we both dreamed they would be..count on it." He looked at her, realizing how much she had been through in the last 24 hours. "Why don't you get ready for bed? You must be exhausted, I know I am and I didn't give birth today!" she laughed again and nodded. When she emerged from the bathroom, dressed for sleep, she found him in his pajama pants, sitting by the crib, his hand stroking his son's head.

He looked up and smiled, she looked just as she had that night in her room, huge nightshirt,hair tied up in a messy knot. She walked slowly, sometimes wincing, she still ached everywhere except her heart. Her heart was so full, she had never felt anything like it before. Billy's face was beaming, as if it were lit from within. " I can't seem to stop looking at him. Is he like the best looking baby ever, or what? I might be prejudiced, but anybody would say he's perfect..." She shook her head. " I can't vote, I'm not impartial. He is the most beautiful, perfect baby ever born. No question about it." He stood up and wrapped his arms around her waist, kissing her forehead.

" Time for bed, c'mon we all have a big trip ahead of us tomorrow..." He waited until she got in bed, and then joined her. The bed was barely big enough to hold both of them, but Billy had decided anything was better than spending another night without her beside him. He reached over and shut the lamp on the beside table. Wrapping his arms around her, and whispeing against her hair.” Goodnight Mommy…” before closing his eyes to sleep.


Chapter 29

Mac entered the apartment and looked around slowly, with Billy right behind her, carrying his son. The ugly couch was still there, as well as the lamp and other stuff she had bought months ago. The rest of the place was now furnished and actually looked like a home. She turned and looked back at him. " You did all this?" she asked, a note of surprise in her voice. He nodded. " I've been living here since graduation" he said.

"Do you like it? I mean.. we could change anything you want if you don't..." she shook her head and smiled. She reached for his hand and took it in hers. " You did a great job, Billy...it really looks like a home now...our home". He smiled and looked down at the sleeping child in the carrier in his hand. " I've lived here for three months, but it didn't really feel like home until right this second..." He walked into the bedroom and Mac followed, smiling at the sight of the brass bed, just as she had left it that horrible night so many months ago. She shook the thought of that night from her head as Billy placed the carrier on the bed.

"The only thing we need now is stuff for this little guy..." he leaned over and lifted his sleeping son from his carrier, cradling him in his arms. Mac smiled at the sight of him and spoke. " I think we can keep his crib and stuff in here with us for the time being..I like the idea of him being in here with us, don't you?" He nodded. " I think it will be fine for the time being, but eventually he's gonna need a room of his own. I was thinking that maybe we could get another apartment in this building. I know that some of them have extra bedrooms...." Mac smiled at his enthusiasm. " I think we'll be okay for now, Billy. This is what we can afford, and it's perfectly fine." She walked closer to him and kissed him. " Besides" she whispered into his lips. " I'd live anywhere with my two favorite men...anywhere at all.."

He sighed. He knew that Mac was too proud to ever ask for help, but he knew that things were gonna be tough for them. His salary at Jabot would cover the rent, but what about everything else? Food, diapers,clothing...and what about doctors? He had been thinking about this for the last couple of days. He smiled, but inwardly his thoughts were swirling wildly.He placed his son back into his carrier and straightened back up to face Mac. She looked at his eyes, even though he was smiling, they were clouded with worry. She took his hand and led him into the living room, sat down on the couch, motioning for him to join her. When he did, she spoke " I know you must be worried about all this Billy....A husband, and now a father? At eighteen? I just want you to know that I understand...and don't think that you're the only one worrying...I'm nervous too...Can we do this? Can we afford this? I can keep my job...Maybe go to some classes here and there...." He took her hand and smiled.

" I am worried...but not about us...I know we love each other enough to get through anything...It's just that all of this is so new....I think we need some time to get used to this, don't you? And I think that we can't be too proud to ask for help, you know just when we need it..."

Mac looked in his eyes. " I know you think I'm stubborn sometimes...maybe I am...but it's helped me, Billy....in more ways than you think...it's taught me to survive on my own, without any help from anyone. I know this won't be easy on either of us...but I promise, if we need help...I won't stop you from asking anyone....Okay?" she smiled to break the tense mood that had suddenly appeared in the room. He smiled back, and reached out to hug her. " I think we need to relax and stop worrying, let things happen for awhile." A knock at the front door interrupted their conversation, and Billy rose to his feet to answer it. He opened the door to find Raul and Kate standing there, Raul holding a huge teddy bear. Billy grinned from ear to ear, and motioned for them to come inside.

Mac rose from the couch.. " Who is it, Billy?" and soon saw for herself. She smiled broadly and walked over to Raul, giving him a hug. He embraced her, until Kate began to clear her throat, waiting for her introduction. " Oh...I'm sorry....Mac this is Kate...Kate, Mac" Kate smiled and Mac immediately saw that it was genuine. She extended her hand.. " I feel as if I know you already..." she looked at Raul. " We've spoken several times on the telephone..." Kate nodded. " I know, I feel the same way..my guess is that's because we have so many friends in common..." Billy smiled at the way the two reacted to each other. Mac could use a close friend, especially another girl her own age. Even though she was a wife and mother now, she still needed contact with people her own age. " Why don't we all sit down...." He said and motioned for Raul and Kate to have a seat on the couch. Mac sat next to them, and Billy took one of the chairs. Raul put the teddy bear on the coffee table and patted its head. " This is for the little guy, of course...where is he?" Kate piped up. " Yes...we would love to see him.." Billy got up and walked into the bedroom. The baby was still fast asleep and he carefully lifted him out of the carrier and into his arms, walking slowly into the living room.

Raul and Kate jumped up to get a closer look. " Oooohhh he's beautiful....." Kate whispered. " He's so tiny....and so much hair!" Raul seemed stunned,unable to speak. He cleared his throat before speaking softly. " He's incredible, you guys....he looks just like you, Billy... congratulations..." Mac got up to stand next to Billy. " Thank you, Raul...and you too, Kate, for everything you did for Billy and for me..I know that we couldn't have gotten through everything that's happened without you two..." Billy looked over at his wife, smiling. " Mac's right...how can we ever pay you back?" Kate smiled. " Well, to start with...can I hold him?" Billy nodded and handed over the still sleeping baby.

Kate walked over to the couch, followed by Mac, and soon the two of them were as thick as thieves, and Billy and Raul smiled at each other silently. The two had hoped the women in their lives would get along, and it seemed as if they were right. The  time flew by until Raul looked at his watch, and realized how late it was. He grabbed Kate's elbow and they rose to their feet, saying their goodbyes. Billy leaned against the closed door, smiling. Mac had put Will to bed and walked back into the living room. She stood before him, her arms folded across her chest. " Happy?" she asked, although she already knew the answer. He nodded and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her close to him. " Happier than should be legal.." he whispered into her hair. "Ready for bed?" she asked and he nodded. They walked arm in arm towards the bedroom, shutting the lights, hoping the joy they felt tonight would never leave.


Chapter 30

The next few weeks were a flurry of activity, and eventually the young family had settled into somewhat of a routine. Just as John had promised, Billy's routine at Abbott was flexible, and he really was enjoying it. He was in public relations and one of his ideas had really caught his father's imagination. It was for a line of mother\baby products. John Abbott had fallen completely under the spell of his new grandson, and any talk of babies Billy knew would catch his eye. The research and development department had done their work, and John was ready to plunge full steam ahead.

He stood nervously in his father's office, fiddling with his tie. The other part of his idea might not be such an easy sell. Would he go for it? He wondered, and just then the door opened, and John and Jack walked inside, followed by Ashley. Ashley had already begun developing the products for the line, since she had always wanted a baby of her own, she jumped at the idea. Jack remained skeptical, although he too had fallen in love with his nephew at first sight. 

    

"Good morning, son" John smiled, and they sat down at the large conference table.

"Well, son" John began.. " This idea of yours really seems to have taken off...the entire pr dept is already working up a campaign, and the initial test results have been extremely encouraging. Your sister has done a wonderful job, I think we have really tapped into something here.." John was smiling broadly, prouder of his youngest son than ever. He had grown remarkably in the last year. " Thanks, Dad..I was wondering...what kind of campaign did you have in mind?" Billy had an ulterior motive, but was trying his best to disguise it.

John opened a folder in front of him. " Pretty much the usual, women's magazines, tv ads, billboards...why do you ask?" Billy cleared his throat.. " Uh..no reason...I just wondered if you had tested any models yet?" John shook his head. " No, we haven't decided on what type of mother we're looking for...I've already asked your sister if she was interested..." Ashley laughed. " Yes, and I told him no thanks, I make the stuff, I refuse to help sell it!" and they all laughed. Jack spoke up next. " I get the feeling you may have someone in mind, Billy..." Billy laughed nervously, and nodded his head. " I do, and I think you know who she is...." John interrupted. " You don't mean Mackenzie, do you? Billy...I seriously doubt that she would consider something like this...." " I've been thinking about this a lot, Dad....I think Mac would be perfect...she's young, and fresh....a new face. Maybe we could take some test shots, see how they come out? I might be able to convince her to bring that grandson of yours along with her...." Ashley interrupted Billy's sell... " I love the idea! We could have mothers of all ages, young, and some not so young, I definitely think it's worth a shot...Jack what about you?" Jack looked hesitant. " I like your idea about mothers of all ages, Ash...we could even include grandmothers....mothers of all colors, shapes and sizes...Billy...I think you should talk to your wife as soon as possible....she would be perfect for the young mother..."

John smiled, he was pleasantly surprised to see his children agreeing for a change. " I do like the idea of all kinds of mothers for the ad campaign...." He looked at Billy, his face was lit up with excitement. " Go ahead home and ask that wife of yours...I'll see if we can get some studio time for tomorrow...." Billy stood up and hugged his father. " Thanks, Dad... I know this is gonna work out great....." Billy left the office, headed for the Chancellor home, she had brought the baby there today for a visit .He could hardly wait to talk to Mac. He just hoped he could convince her to do it.

He arrived at the Chancellor house a few minutes later, and smiled at the scene before him. Brock and Kay were sitting on the floor, baby Will lying on a blanket between them. They were making baby talk noises, tickling and playing with his feet, and Will was laughing and smiling. Mac sat on the couch, smiling, enjoying the sight of two of the most dignified people she knew making complete fools of themselves, and loving every second. Billy walked in and she lifted her face to his, kissing him. He put a finger to his lips, they still hadn't realized he was here. He walked over to Brock and placed a hand on his shoulder. " I hate to interrupt this serious business..." he said, smiling broadly. He leaned over and picked up his laughing son, holding him high in the air, causing him to laugh even louder.

Brock rose to his feet, and helped his mother to hers. " Sure." Kay said. " Interrupt all the fun...no fair..." Billy and Mac laughed, she sounded like a five year old who had her ice cream taken away. " I'm sorry," Billy said. "But you guys have had him all afternoon...my turn now" He put the baby over his shoulder, rubbing his back gently, and Mac smiled. He was so good with him, so gentle. They had bonded immediately, and any fears she may have had about his willingness to be a father had disappeared. She rose from the couch to stand next to him, the enormous love she felt for both her husband and son welling up inside her. He looked over at her and smiled. " So...you guys had a nice visit?" he asked and she nodded. " Yes...I tried not to let them spoil him too much, but you know how it is...How was work? Everything go ok?" he had told her about John's expected decision today, and she knew he had been nervous about it.

" Billy had a big idea submitted to his Dad today, did you know he's a genius?' she asked. "Really?" Kay asked. " Well, Billy...how did it go?" He smiled again. " Great!" he said excitedly. " They loved it, I was nervous at first, and it took a little talking, but the idea is going full steam ahead.."

" That's wonderful news, Billy..." Brock said. He too, had been nervous about Billy and his pattern of past irresponsible behavior, but he seemed to be settling down happily. "Thanks..." Billy answered. " I think I've surprised myself...I didn't expect to like working at Jabot as much as I do....I seem to like everything these days, I just can't seem to help myself..." " And school?" Kay asked. " School's been going okay...I know I'll never be a 'genius', in spite of what Mackenzie thinks.." he smiled at her before continuing. " But I'll be fine, really...it's only part-time for now, just until things settle down a little.."  " He's being modest, Grandma..." Mac spoke up.. " He's doing great..."

Billy's face reddened a little.. " Geez...all the compliments....guy could get a swelled head around here...listen up, Will.." he whispered against his son's cheek.. " These guys really seem to like your old man..." He looked over at Mac.. " Are you ready to hit the road? As much as I would love to hang around here and listen to all of you gush over me, I would really like to get home...if you don't mind, I mean.." he looked at Kay and Brock. Brock shook his head. " Of course not...just don't be strangers, you two, allright?" he leaned in and kissed his grandson. Kay did the same and said  " You know that if you two need anything, babysitting services are available 24 hours a day around here...except I may have to have a wrestling match with Esther, she can't seem to keep her hands off this child either..."

They laughed, and Mac got her coat and bag and put it on, taking the baby from Billy as they headed to the front door and out to the car. The car had been a gift from John, not a fancy one, but fine for what they needed. Mac was anxious to hear more about Billy's day at Jabot, but he refused to tell her anything, saying he wanted to wait until they were home to tell her the details. They were home and settled, Will asleep in his crib in the bedroom, and Mac was pacing the living room floor, Billy had insisted on getting comfortable before he told her anything. " Billy" she called out, trying to keep her voice low in order not to wake the baby.. " are you deliberately trying to drive me crazy? I wanna hear what happened today? Billy?"  He emerged from the bedroom,closing the door halfway so they could still hear Will. " Geesh....what a nag..." he said. He had changed into jeans and a sweater, and he was amused by Mac's impatience. She crossed her arms and glared at him, " Nag? Now I'm a nag?..How dare you?"  until he smiled and she realized he was teasing her. She returned the smile..what was he up to now?


Chapter 31

" Tell me what happened this minute Billy Abbott..." she crossed her arms again. He did the same and walked over to her, pretending to glare at her, but having a hard time keeping a straight face. " I feel an ' or else' coming..." he said. " go ahead...or else what?" Now it was her turn to tease him..  " Well...I went to the doctor today..." she began, and he uncrossed his arms, his face turning pale. " What...what happened at the doctor? Is everything ok? Will..is it Will?" She was sorry, she hadn't meant to alarm him.. She wrapped her arms around his waist, and pulled him close to her. " Everything's fine...I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you...I just wanted to tell you that the doctor said that the waiting is over.." She pulled back to look at his face, and was relieved to see that the fear was gone.. he was smiling. " Does this mean what I think it means?" he said and pulled her close again. They had not made love in so many months, it seemed like an eternity. Being together had made the waiting easier, but both had been secretly counting the days. She pulled back, again teasing him.. " Only if I get some answers first.." she pulled him by the hand to the couch and sat him down with a gentle shove. She sat down next to him and turned to face him.

"Now.." she began. "Tell me everything..." He laughed because she had that look on her face, the same look he had seen there so many times before. " Okay...I know that look..." and he launched into his story, excited to see how happy she was, and hoping she would stay that way once he told her the whole thing. " And because it's getting close to the holidays..they want to launch as soon as possible, to get the Christmas business..." he ended. Mac was grinning from ear to ear, and she hugged him close, tears in her eyes visible when she pulled away. She kissed him softly, stroking his cheek. " I'm so proud of you.." she whispered. " do you know how wonderful you are?"

He touched her lips with his fingers.. " thanks.." he whispered. " there's just one more thing..I had another idea, and everyone loved it..." She looked in his eyes, seeing the hesitation there.. " tell me!" she said. " I sort of made a suggestion..for the person to use as the young mother, in the ads...." He looked at her hopefully.. " I sort of..well you see, I kind of...I suggested that we use you..." She looked at him, her face reading both shock and surprise... " Me?" she asked. " Are you kidding? Me? A model?" she laughed.

" What's so funny?" he asked. She continued laughing.. " A model? Billy, are you crazy? Billy, I know you love me, but I think you really have lost your mind..." she stood up before him. " Look at me! I'm still fat...my hair is a mess....not exactly the model type..." Billy looked at her. She looked the same as she always did to him, beautiful.” I seem to remember you wearing those very same jeans back when we first met…If you’re so fat, how come they still fit you?”

. She looked at him. " Okay, so maybe I'm not fat anymore.." She wasn't, she fit into all her old clothes again, same as before. " but me? Why would they want me?" she asked. He rose from the couch, and put his arms around her. "Because...they want an ideal of what a young mother should be...happy..glowing..beautiful..." He moved behind her, and turned her around to face the mirror that hung on the opposite wall. She smiled at the sight of the two of them together. " Look at yourself..." he said into her hair. " Don't you see it?" he leaned his cheek against her hair. " I feel it...it radiates from you...you'll be perfect..." he whispered. " I just want you to see what I do everytime I look at you..the most beautiful thing there is...the love we share shining in those eyes, coming out of you with every smile..." She leaned back against him, his arms tightening around her waist. " No fair" she said " I always look happy when I'm with you...I can't help it...but I wouldn't know what to do...how to act, how to stand...." He smiled, he could tell she was interested. He moved his hand to her hair, stroking the ends.. " All you have to do is show up, honey..the rest will take care of itself.."

She turned around in his arms, her face very close to his. " Do you really think I can do this?" He smiled. " Of course I do, I would never have suggested it if  I didn't.." he leaned in and kissed her. " Will you at least give it a shot?" he asked. " Dad said he would set up some studio time tomorrow..." " Tomorrow?" she asked. " So soon?" he nodded. " I told you they were anxious... all you have to do is show up tomorrow, take some test shots and see how everything goes...whaddya say?"  She smiled, and he could tell she was warming up to the idea. " I guess it could be fun...Can I bring Will along?" He nodded. " I don't think Dad would let us in if we didn't..." she laughed and placed her head against his chest. " Are you hungry?" she asked. " I could make us some dinner..." " I'm hungry..." he said and placed his hand under her chin, pulling her face very close to his. " but not for food.." and she smiled when he leaned in to kiss her. It deepened quickly, and Mac pulled away, leaving Billy with his mouth hanging open. She walked backwards into the bedroom, whispering.. " hold that thought...I'll just be a second..." and closed the door. He sighed and sat down on the couch. That had been pretty easy, he thought. Just when he thought he had her completely figured out, she surprised him again. He smile widened, that was one of the many things he loved about her, the way she kept him on his toes, surprising him. The sound of the bedroom door opening interrupted his thoughts, and he looked up.

Mac walked into the living room slowly. She was wearing the nightgown he had bought her for their honeymoon, and she looked just the same as she had that night, so many months ago. As Billy rose to his feet to join her, he realized he was wrong. She looked more beautiful than she had that night, he hadn't thought it possible, but looking at her now, he realized it was true. She was radiant, confident, she seemed more sure of herself. He wrapped his arms around her, stroking the silky skin of her bare back with his hands, greeted by the familiar scent of vanilla. He pressed his cheek against her hair, breathing in the scent of her. " You like?" she whispered. He nodded against her hair. " It's been so long, Billy...I've missed you so..." she said. He pulled away slightly and looked into her eyes. " Don't miss me..I'm right here.." he said and his mouth crashed down on hers.

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

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