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Love Will keep us Alive... Sequel  to Crush

Chapter 32 - Epilogue

********************WARNING*** ADULT CONTENT***********

They stood like that for many minutes, kissing each other, slowly at first, but gradually building in intensity. Mac sighed and ran her hands through Billy's hair as he moved his lips from hers and began kissing her jawline, moving his lips over her skin slowly, working his way down her neck. She threw her head back and pulled him closer, she had almost forgotten how wonderful this was. She moved her hands to his waist and under his sweater, running her hands across the smooth skin of his back. She pulled away from him slightly, grabbing the bottom of his sweater, tugging it up and over his shoulders. He pulled it over his head and it dropped to the floor.

She pulled him close again, bringing her lips to his. She opened her mouth and he plunged his tongue inside it, kissing her deeply, dancing around the inside of her mouth until she felt her knees weaken, and she pulled him more tightly to her pressing her body along the length of his, feeling his desire for her through his jeans. She reached down to his waist, opening the button there, her hands moving around his waist to his back, stroking his skin slowly. " I've missed you..." he whispered. " so much"...he murmured, his lips against her ear, taking her earlobe between his lips, tugging on it gently. He reached down and put his arm underneath her knees, lifting her up. He carried her into the bedroom. She had set up the crib behind a screen that Kay had given her from one of the Chancellor bedrooms. They could still hear the baby, but it gave them a little more privacy. He placed her gently on the bed, lying down next to her, stroking her arms, still kissing her passionately. He pulled away from her for a moment, pausing to look into her eyes. She smiled and touched his cheek. He touched his thumb to her bottom lip, rubbing it gently. " I love you more than anything .. do you know that?" she said softly, watching his eyes. He nodded and smiled, pulling her close to him again. " I feel it every time you look at me...every time you touch me..." he whispered before bringing his lips to hers again. She opened her mouth to greet his kiss, his velvety tongue entwining with hers.

They lay together like that for a while, not wanting to rush it, slowly reacquainting themselves with each other, until Mac could take the slow pace no longer. She pulled away from him briefly and pulled the nightgown up and over her head, tossing it to the floor. She lay down again, next to him, her leg across his, rubbing slowly up and down the length of it, her hands caressing his chest, his arms, any part of him she could reach. It felt almost as if this were the first time she was touching him, it had been so long. Billy laid his head back against the pillow and sighed deeply. He was trying his best to take things slowly...but she was naked now, and all bets were off. Her hands on his body were making him crazy. He rolled over her, pushing her back against the bed, hoping to slow her down a bit. " Billy..." she whispered against his ear..she was kissing his jawline now, her cheek pressed against his. " Please...I want..." " What baby? Tell me..." he whispered back, his hand making it way down her hip to her thigh, running his long fingers up and down, slowly. She gripped the waistband of his jeans, trying her best to pull them off him.. " Take these off...please...I want to feel you next to me..." her voice had a familiar urgent tone now, despite its softness.

He pulled away from her reluctantly, and stood up next to the bed, tugging off his jeans and boxers and kicking them away to the floor. She propped herself up on her elbow, her hand against her cheek supporting her head, and smiled. She raised her free arm, beckoning him back to her. " You're more beautiful than I remembered..." she said as he rejoined her on the bed, slipping his arms around her, pressing the length of his body against hers. She moaned softly as he kissed her, moving his lips from her mouth to her neck, caressing her skin with his lips and tongue, still moving so slowly...Mac pressed her head back against the pillows, his mouth was moving lower now, down to her breasts, his hands following the trail of his mouth, stroking her nipples, kissing each one, his tongue flicking against them, he loved the taste of her skin...vanilla, warm and sweet. He moved his mouth down to her smooth stomach, now as flat and silky as it had been before, his hands still stroking her breasts. Mac could do no more than run her fingers through his hair, her moans were becoming louder now. He looked up at her, her eyes half closed with desire. He brought his face up to hers again, crashing his lips against hers, his hands holding her face, his mouth open against hers, kissing her deeply again. She rubbed her body against his, feeling the familiar friction again, the feel of the silky hair on his chest driving her wild.

She rolled him over onto his back, mouths still crushed together in a wild tangle of lips and tongues. She moved her lips down to his throat, working her way down to his chest, her hands following, stroking his chest, feeling the hard muscles twitch underneath his silky skin, responding to her touch. She moved up again, her breast crushed against his chest, her mouth hovering over his, her hair spilling over her shoulders. He cupped his hands underneath her buttocks, pressing her against his hardness. Her mouth was barely touching his, teasing him with hers. " Now, Billy...please...I can't wait any more...please" she leaned in closer, taking his bottom lip between her teeth softly, tugging at it, gasping as he slipped inside her, sitting upright, pulling her closer to wrap her legs around him. They were both moaning now, rocking back and forth to this new rhythm. He hadn't planned it, the feel of her against him and her plea had sent him to this new place, he couldn't wait any longer.

She pushed him back against the pillows, his eyes half closed, watching her while inside her. Her body was alive, her skin glistening with sweat, her head thrown back, lost in her own desire. He sat up and brought his lips to her breast, licking and sucking each one, stroking her gently with his hands, loving the taste of her. He brought his hands to her waist, down to cup her buttocks, pushing himself deeper into her. " Oohhhh Billy..." she groaned and tightened herself around him, causing him to moan loudly. She pushed him down onto the bed, sliding herself up and down the length of him, his head thrown back, her breasts rising and falling against his chest as she bucked her hips against his. She pressed her open mouth against his, her tongue thrust deeply into his mouth to stifle their moans, and she continued to ride him, up and down, his hands moved to her waist, his hips rising and falling with hers, until they climaxed together, mouths still joined. She collapsed against his chest, still breathing heavily, bodies still joined, legs entwined. She lay with her cheek against his chest, he was still breathing heavily. When its rising and falling had subsided, she looked up at his face. His eyes were closed, his lips curled into a smile. He stroked her hair gently.

"You ok?" he whispered. She nodded and moved off him to lie beside him. He gathered her close to him, wrapping his arms around her. " That was remembered the promise, didn't you?" he asked softly. She looked up at him.. "About surprising me...every just did it again..." she giggled and he leaned in to kiss her. " I surprise myself sometimes.." she said just before his lips met hers. 

Chapter 33

Billy rolled over, his hand over the back of his eyes, squinting against the sunshine streaming in through the bedroom window. He felt around next to him, the bed was empty. He sat up, looking around the bedroom. The door was closed, and he got out of bed, picking up his jeans from the floor and pulling them on as he opened the bedroom door. Mac was sitting on the couch in the living room, feeding Will, and he leaned against the bedroom doorway, his arms crossed against his chest, smiling. It was a picture he would keep in his mind forever, he knew, the way she looked with their son, completely full of joy and peace. She heard the door open, and looked up at him, smiling. " Good morning...Sleep well?" she asked softly, already knowing what the answer would be. Even though they had been back together for weeks now, neither one of them had felt complete until last night. It was as magical as ever, like nothing either of them had ever felt before and it happened every time they were together.

He nodded and walked over to the couch to join her, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. He leaned in and kissed her, careful not to disturb his son at her breast. " How long have you been awake? It's only 7 o'clock..." " About a half hour" she said. " I heard Will moving around...he wasn't crying..he was just lying there, looking at his hands..making the cutest little noises..sort of cooing...I figured since I was already awake, I'd feed him.." She looked down, Will had  finished, his eyes were already half closed. She put him gently over her shoulder and rubbed his back. Billy felt his eyes fill with tears unexpectedly, the overwhelming love coming over him in a wave. She looked at him, alarmed. " What's wrong?..I'm sorry...I should have woken you up...I just figured you were exhausted" He shook his head and put his finger to her lips to quiet her. " Nothing's wrong....I just can't help it...I look at you two, and I'm so happy..happier than I ever thought I could seems like all that stuff that went on between us, the fighting, the stuff we said to each other, everything that was all worth it to get us here..sometimes I just can't believe it, that's all. Call me a softy, it just gets to me.." He stroked the back of her hair, and smiled when he saw her eyes were filled with tears now too.

She nodded and stroked the back of her hand against his cheek. " I keep remembering something that Betty said, about how lucky we were to have found each other, the first time, right out of the gate. Some people go through their whole lives and never find this. I've never had so many people in my life who loved me..I always felt like I was in the way, sort of on the outside looking in." She looked directly into his eyes. " How do I thank you for letting me inside, showing me what it's like to have someone who loves me? I've never really had that before, until I came here.." Her smile faded briefly, but returned with her next words. " And now, I'm surrounded by dad, my grandma, your family...and the three of us...I can't ever tell you how much you've given me..." He continued stroking her hair, letting her get it out. She rarely spoke about how unhappy she had been before she came here, he wanted her to let her say whatever she felt. "Billy...for the first time in my life, I feel like I I never have before, like a part of a family, our family.." She looked down at her son, now sleeping on her shoulder. " You've given me the greatest gift Billy, our you see, I know how you feel...I feel the same way, all the time." She leaned in and kissed him. He rose to his feet, taking the sleeping baby off her shoulder, placing him on his, and pulled her to her feet, close to him. She wrapped her arms around his waist, placing her head against his chest. He wrapped his free arm around her, still holding the sleeping baby over his shoulder. " Just like this...always..." he whispered against the top of her head.

" The three of us together..."

They stood like that for a few minutes, enjoying the lovely sense of tranquility that surrounded them, until Mac reluctantly pulled away, taking the still sleeping baby from Billy. " As much as I would love to do this all day..." she smiled before continuing, " We better get started..." Billy looked at her, amused by how desperately she was trying to cover her excitement about today, and decided to tease her a little. " Why?" he asked her, " Something special up today?" and she slapped him lightly on the arm as he burst out laughing. " Ok, ok....I'm excited, all right...I admit shoot me!" she said. " That was another reason I got up so early today....I was nervous about today...." He bent his knees to look into her face. " Nervous...about what? I told you, all you have to do is show up, let everybody else take care of the rest. Once they get a look at you...well let's just say that's all it took for look..." She looked up at him.

"You really think so? I mean, you're not just saying that because you love me?" He shook his head. " I do love you, but no..that's not the only reason I said that. I said it because it's true, even if you don't know it yet. The camera doesn't lie...I would never ask you to do this if I thought it wouldn't work...." He leaned in and kissed her. " I'm gonna put him down and go take a shower.." He turned and walked towards the bedroom and Mac sighed. She walked over to the mirror on the wall and evaluated herself. Not too bad....could she really do this? She wondered. Well, Mackenzie, she thought to herself, one way or the other, you'll find out soon.

Chapter 34

Billy paced around the photo studio. What the heck was taking so long? They had gotten there about 45 minutes before, and the rest of the family had been there to meet them, quickly grabbing Will to walk him around the offices to show him off. The photographer  Mike and his assistant Donna had grabbed hold of Mac, and he hadn't seen her since. He was getting nervous now...what if this whole thing backfired? How would she handle it if they didn't want to use her? Billy knew that Mac's self esteem was sometimes low, especially when it came to the way she looked, although he could never understand why. She never made a big deal about it, and paid little or no attention to most things that were important to girls her age, like makeup and clothes. Billy guessed it was because her mother had paid so little attention to her, she hadn't grown up the same way most girls do. He hoped he hadn't made a decision that they both would regret.

His thoughts were interrupted by the studio door opening. Mike peeked his head in the door... " Ready?" he asked Billy. Billy nodded and Mike stepped into the room.. " Okay, Mac…”She stepped inside the room, and Billy felt the breath nearly leave his body. They had chosen a white dress, simple and unadorned. It had a rounded scoop neck, with long tight sleeves that flared out in a bell-like shape at the wrists. It was form fitting, with a long skirt that pooled around the floor behind her. She was barefoot, the campaign was meant to emphasize her youth. Her hair was crimped in large loose waves, the front held away from her face with small lilies of the valley, intertwined in her hair. Billy could only stare in amazement.

She looked like a princess from a long ago fairy tale, her face glowing. She walked over to where he stood, careful not to step on the hem of the dress. " Well...." She said, looking up into his eyes. " Say something.." Mac was getting a little worried now, he was so quiet. She had looked at herself carefully before she had left the dressing room, almost afraid to think about how wonderful she thought she looked. It was completely shallow, and not like her at all, but she couldn't help but be excited at the thought of Billy's reaction. She looked up into his eyes, and a wave of relief washed over her. She saw the love there, the pride and admiration, and she smiled. Billy had not yet spoken a word. He cleared his throat and finally spoke. " I'm sorry....I just...I couldn't speak..." he took her face in his hands gently, trying not to disturb her appearance.. " You look like a princess....I can't explain it...when you walked heart was in my took my breath away....more than you usually do.." He looked at Donna, his face breaking into a broad smile.. " If I promise to be really good.....Can I kiss my wife?" he asked and Donna laughed and nodded. " Just don't get too carried away..I don't want to have to re-do her makeup...I just got it the way I wanted it.." He nodded and crossed his heart. " Promise.." he said and still holding her face in his hands, leaned in and kissed her. He rested his forehead against hers and whispered. " I am so lucky....the luckiest guy there is..." Donna cleared her throat, " I hate to interrupt, but if you make her cry now, I'm gonna deck you!" and Billy stepped away from Mac, raising his hands in surrender, laughing aloud.

Mike stepped forward, camera in hand. " Are we ready to begin?" he asked and Donna nodded. " Ready, Mac?" she asked, extending her hand and Mac nodded, following her. " Just tell me what you want me to do..." she said. For the next 10 minutes, Mike had Mac pose in front of a pure white background, the floor beneath her scattered with all kinds of white flowers, daisies, lilies, white roses. She seemed to take to it immediately, and Mike became more enthusiastic as the shoot went along. He hadn't expected much from an amateur, and an Abbott family member at that, and had done the shoot almost reluctantly at first. But he picked up steam about 20 minutes into it, and had Mac pose in front of several different backdrops. The shoot was going along so well, in fact, that Mac hardly noticed the rest of the Abbott family had now joined them in the studio.

Billy stood back, watching his wife intently. She seemed to come alive under the camera's eye, and he could tell the pictures would turn out to be amazing. He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned around to see his father standing next to him. " How's it going?" he asked. Billy smiled. " See for yourself.." John returned the smile. " She looks amazing, son...just incredible..." Ashley walked up to Billy, carrying Will in her arms. She leaned closer to the child in her arms and whispered. " Look, Will...there's Mommy..." she looked up at her brother. " She looks beautiful, Billy..."

Mike noticed the rest of the family in the room. " Okay, Mac...let's take a break.." and Mac walked over to Billy, her face flushed with excitement. " That was fun..." she noticed Ashley holding her son. " Mind if I hold him for a minute?" she asked. Ashley smiled. " Well, only if it's just a minute...I have more showing off to do...I think I might have missed an entire group of people in purchasing...." Mac laughed and took her son. " Aunt Ashley has been showing you off, huh?" she whispered, smiling, taking his tiny hand into hers. An idea formed in Ashley mind.. " Mac, Billy...what do you say we take some pictures of Mac and Will together? We don't have to show his face, and we don't have to mention his name...just as a test...see how they turn out? If it doesn't work, you'll have the best looking baby book ever...."

Mac looked up at Billy. " what do you think, Billy? I guess it would be okay..." Billy smiled down at her. " If it's okay with you...then it's okay with me...and if Will has no objections..." he reached down and touched the top of his son's head, stroking it softly.

Ashley called out. " Mike...what do you think? Can we get some test shots with mother and baby?" Mike nodded. " Sure Ms. Abbott, whatever you think... Donna?" Donna came out of the dressing room. " Oooohhh the baby....can I take a peek?" she walked towards Mac. " He's beautiful...." Mike chuckled. " My wife is a sucker for babies of any kind....especially cute ones...Donna, can we get him ready for some test shots?" he asked her. Donna nodded. " Sure....I think he can stay just as he is...just powder his head a little, keep the shine down.. I think he should just be in a diaper....keep with the whole earth mother thing....ooohhh this will be perfect!" She extended her arms, and Mac placed Will in them. Donna walked into the dressing room, making baby talk noises and tickling Will under his chin, making him chuckle. When she emerged, Will was wearing just his diaper, and she handed him over to his mother.

Mac walked back in front of the camera, and sat down among the flowers strewn around her, just as she had before. Mike instructed her to hold the baby over her shoulder, so his face would not be visible to the camera, and began shooting. He took many more pictures, in all different poses, while the rest of the family watched. Billy looked at his wife and child, seating among the flowers, and once again his eyes filled with tears. Stop it, Abbott..geez you are  getting to be such a wuss...he thought. He looked at his father and sister, and was surprised to see tears in their eyes as well. Glad I'm not the only wuss in this family, he thought to himself. John slapped his son on the back, gently. " I think we've found our campaign, Billy....look at that picture....who could resist those two?" Ashley leaned in and whispered. " I agree, Daddy....I think we've found the faces of Baby Jabot..."


John, Ashley and Jack Abbott sat around the conference table in Jack’s office. On the table in front of them were piles of photographic proofs from Mackenzie’s photo shoot. It was a couple of days later, and they were going through the shots, trying to find the best ones. They had brought in a couple of other young models, and had taken a few more test shots, but none came close to the ideal of what they were looking for but Mac’s. Ashley dropped the photo she was looking at back onto the pile. “ Well…” she began. “ I’m sticking by my original statement….Mackenzie is the only one out of the girls we’ve seen who has what we want….what’s the holdup?” Jack nodded. “ I think Ash is right, Dad….the pictures speak for themselves…especially the ones with the baby…she has just what we want for this campaign..” John took off his glasses and dropped them onto the table. “ I agree…” he said. He hesitated before speaking again. “ The only problem we may have is Jill….” Jack and Ashley looked at their father. Jill had been gone for a couple of months, leaving word that she was going to Europe for awhile. She had called every once in a while, but no one had seen her since that day at the Chancellor house. She still had not been told about her grandchild, Billy would not let anyone tell her. Still, Jill was a part of Jabot, and still kept up with all the companies comings and goings. She knew about the new line and had given her support.

“ Dad… do you really think she would have a problem with this?” Ashley asked. John nodded. “ Yes, Ash…I think she very well might…look at what she’s done to Mackenzie in the past…do you really think she’ll want Mackenzie to represent Jabot?” Jack shook his head. “ Dad’s right, Ash…Jill will do whatever she can to make Mackenzie’s life miserable, you know that….I think we need to discuss this with Billy and Mackenzie before we do anything, maybe we can head Jill off at the pass..”  John nodded. “ I agree, I think that if Jill knows about her grandson…her whole attitude may change..We have to convince Billy to let us tell her…” He rose from his chair. “ I going to call Katherine and Brock…they may have some ideas about this.” He walked over to the desk, and asked his secretary to ring the Chancellor home.

Esther walked over to the ringing phone. “ Chancellor residence”. “ Hello , Esther…it’s John Abbott…is Katherine there please?” “ No, Mr. Abbott…she took Mackenzie out to do some shopping, they should be back in about and hour or so…your grandson is here, though….I just put him down for his nap” John smiled. “ Good….Do you think it would be all right if I came over to wait for them? There’s something  I would really like to discuss with them…” “ Certainly, Mr. Abbott…Billy is supposed to pick up Mackenzie and the baby after his classes, I’ll let him know you’re coming as soon as he gets here.”

“Thank you, Esther..I’ll be by soon..” He hung up the phone and turned to his son and daughter. “ I think that I should go over there by myself…Billy may feel we’re ganging up on him….I’ll call you as soon as I’m through..maybe we can get this whole thing settled, I’d really like to go ahead with this campaign as soon as possible” He picked up his coat, and walked to the door.

He arrived at the Chancellor house a little while later, Esther greeting him at the door with a smile. “Hello, Mr. Abbott…let me take your coat..” She waited while he removed his coat and took it from him. “ Your son is here already…he’s in the living room..” He thanked her and walked into the living room. Billy was seated on the couch, Will in his arms, reading to him in a soft voice. “ No Sam-I-Am…I do not want green eggs and ham..” John chuckled, Billy had loved that book as a small child, he would beg John endlessly to read it to him, until he had it practically memorized. Billy looked up as John joined in on the ‘green eggs and ham’ part and smiled. “ You remembered?” he asked. John sat down next to his son. “ Of course….how many times did we read that story? A million?” Billy nodded. “ I know he’s too small to understand…I just thought I’d get him started early….wanna turn?” he asked, knowing what the answer would be. John took his grandson in his arms, and proceeded to recite the book from memory to him, in a soft, low voice. Will was fascinated, trying desperately to focus his small face on his grandfather’s. When he was finished, Billy was smiling broadly.

He reached over and put his arm on his father’s shoulder. “ Now I think I finally understand why we fought so much in the past, Dad. I know how it feels, how you would do anything for your children…anything to keep them safe…” John nodded. “ I’m glad, Billy…we’ve been through some rough times in the past, I know…but I hope those times are all behind us now…” He looked down at his grandson, rocking him back and forth in his arms. The baby smiled and opened his mouth wide, delighted at the ride. “ I’m really glad to see you, Dad….how come you’re here?” a look of panic came over his face. “ Was I supposed to be at work? Did something happen while I was in class this morning?”  John shook his head. “ No, son..nothing happened….but I did want to discuss something with you…about your mother..” Billy’s face clouded over at the mention of his mother. He hadn’t heard from her since that day, months ago, in this room. “ What about her?” he asked coldly. “ Don’t get upset, son…I just thought that you should know…the new product line, she approved it. She is still a part of Jabot, after all.” Billy looked surprised. “ She did? Why? Because you told her it was my idea? Because she wants to work her way back into my life?” John shook his head. “ No, Billy.. she approved it because it’s a good idea, plain and simple. I didn’t mention whose idea it was..I knew you wouldn’t want her to know…but..”

“ But what, Dad?” Billy asked, not sure he wanted to know the answer. “ She does have some say in regard to public’s part of how we do business. I think she should be made aware of the campaign….by the way….did I tell you that we’ve decided to use Mackenzie as our young mother?” Billy’s face broke into a huge grin.. “ Really? It’s definite then? Wait a minute…that’s why all this talk about Mom? You think she’ll have a problem with Jabot using Mac in the ads? She can’t Dad…I know Mac only went along with this to please me, but I can tell she was excited…Mom can’t stop her from having this, can she?” John shook his head. “ No…I still have the final approval…I just think that this would be a good opportunity to let your mother back into your life…” He looked down at his grandson, still smiling from his grandfather’s rocking. “ She has a grandson she doesn’t even know about…hasn’t met… what you were just saying..about understanding our differences in the past…doesn’t that hold true for your mother as well?” Billy shook his head. “ Not as far as I’m concerned…she burned her bridges when she tried to break up Mac and me. Dad, look at what I’ve missed…Mac was alone the whole time she was pregnant…I never even knew..I feel like I can never make that up to her, don’t you understand?”

John nodded. “ I know she hurt you deeply, Billy….both of you…but Mackenzie seems willing to give her another chance…what about you?”. “ What about it Billy?” the voice from the hallway made them both turn their heads. Mac stood at the entrance to the living room, her grandmother behind her, waiting for a response.

Chapter 36

Billy stood up and walked over to where she stood. He put his hands on her arms, looking down at her face. “ Mac..don’t you see? I’m doing this for you…for us…how can you even think about forgiving her after all she’s done?” He looked at Kay. “Katherine…please tell her…” Kay shook her head. “ This isn’t my battle, Billy….You know your mother and I have had our battles in the past….this is for the two of you to decide..the only advice I can give you is to look into your heart…think about how your mother feels…in spite of everything, she really does love you…” Mac walked over to the couch. “ I see that everything’s going well over here…” she smiled at John. John nodded, Will was now sleeping peacefully in his arms. “ I have some good news for you, Mackenzie….we have decided that if you want to be… you are the new model for Baby Jabot.” Mac looked at him, her eyes wide. “ Really? You really want me? Not just because of Billy and me?” John shook his head. “ No, you may have had a little extra push into the doorway, but you did this all on your own. The photos spoke for themselves, you have exactly what we were looking for. In fact…” he paused. “ That’s why I came here today…to tell you the news, but also to let you know that Jill will have to be informed. Do you think you’ll be able to deal with that?”

Mac nodded. “ Of course, I know that she still has a very important place at Jabot. And, as much as I hate to disagree with my husband, I’ve always felt that she deserved to know that she has a new grandson…” she looked thoughtful for a moment. “ She’s lost one son already….I don’t think she should have to lose another…Will deserves to know both of his grandparents…” She looked up at Billy. He seemed to be softening, she could see it in his eyes. “ What about it, Billy?” she asked softly. “ Don’t you think after all she’s been through, losing Phillip….she must be devastated to think she’ll never see you again.” John handed the sleeping child over to his mother, and then leaned forward to kiss the girl gently on her forehead before rising from the sofa.. “ Thank you” he whispered. “ I couldn’t have said it better myself” He looked over at Billy. “ You have quite a remarkable wife here, young man….I think you should listen to her…” Billy threw his hands in the air and smiled. “ Well….I can see I am seriously outnumbered here…” He walked over to Mac and sat down.  “ Are you absolutely sure?” she nodded, smiling. He looked at his father. “ Go ahead, Dad….whatever you want…but one thing..” He stood up and turned to his father. “ I’m telling you right now, Dad…she gets one chance…the first time she does something to hurt Mac or my son…all bets are off..”

John nodded. “ I know, son….I can only hope she’s learned from the past….” Kay smiled and walked over to Mac. “ Give me that baby!” she said and Mac handed him over, laughing. “ I am going upstairs to read another story to my great-grandson.” She kissed her granddaughter and then Billy. “ I’m so proud of you, Mackenzie….congratulations…” she took the baby and walked up the stairs. John sat down on the sofa and looked up at Billy. “ So…can we get started with this? We would like to get this campaign rolling as soon as possible..” Billy looked at Mac and she nodded. He smiled, her face was beaming with excitement. He nodded to his father, who clapped his hands together. “ Good! Mackenzie…I’ll be in touch with you about the contracts and shoot times…” He stood up and took her hand, pulling her to her feet. “ You are going to be sensational, young lady…mark my words. This son of mine had better watch his back..” Mac blushed and looked down at the floor, she still had a hard time accepting compliments.

“ Hey!” Billy said. “ Don’t give her any ideas…I had a hard enough time convincing her to give me a chance in the first place….”. Mac laughed, the days of their fighting and hiding their feeling seemed like a million years ago now. “ Oh, stop…you know that there’ll never be anyone else…not in a million years..” she looked at him, her voice becoming more serious. She decided to needle him just a little.. “ but…if Leonardo DiCaprio calls…I may just have to reconsider…” Billy crossed his arms across his chest , his mouth hanging open, and John threw his head back and laughed. Billy’s face reddened. “ Okay…busted….So shoot me…I love my wife!” and now Mac laughed. She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. He looked down at her, his arms enveloping her. John smiled. “ I think that’s my cue to leave….” Mac stepped away from Billy. “ I’ll get your coat..” and walked into the hallway to the closet. John stepped closer to his son, and placed his hand on his shoulder. “ I think you and Mackenzie are making the right decision, son…I’ll do everything I can to see to it that your mother treats you both the way you deserve to be treated.”  Billy smiled. “ I know, Dad…I hope you’re right.”

Mac returned with John’s coat, and they followed him as he put it on and walked to the front door. He leaned down and kissed Mac and hugged Billy. “ Kiss that grandson of mine for me…I’ll be in touch..” he opened the door and left. They walked back into the living room and sat down on the sofa. “ So…what happens now, Billy?” she took his hand, interlacing her fingers with his. He brought it to his lips, kissing the back of her hand. “ Now, you take some pictures…do some publicity…” he looked at her. “ Don’t get any ideas…I started this whole thing, I intend to be there with you every step of the way…sorry, no escaping me just yet”. She leaned back and rested her head against his shoulder. “ Good….but…what about Will? Can he come too?” He looked down at her. “ Do I not run this show? Of course he can come..he has to. I refuse to go anywhere without him, and so do you. Wherever we go, he goes.” Her next words were soft. “ And your mom? Are you sure you’re okay with that? I didn’t mean to pressure you or anything before…I just think family is important…” He pulled her closer to him. “ I know that, and I think you’re incredible. I could never be as generous as you are.”

He put his hand under her chin, tilting her face upwards. “ I mean it…not many people would have given my mother another chance…thank you….” he leaned in and kissed her softly. She pulled back from him, looking into his eyes. “ You’ve given me such much, Billy….I don’t want any more fighting, or hard feelings…I just want us to be happy…” He looked back at her and smiled. “ We will be…I promise..just as happy as we are right now…” They sat back against the sofa, each privately hoping his words would remain true.

Chapter 37

John Abbott paced around the room. He had left a message for his ex-wife as soon as he had returned home. She had returned to Genoa City just last week, after another extensive stay at the Golden Door in Sedona. She had been devastated by Billy's dismissal of her, outraged...John had managed to convince her to leave town quietly, he would talk to his son. That was of course, before he knew of the existence of his grandson. He tried to convince himself that his fears were groundless, Jill would never hurt her own grandson, regardless of how she felt about his mother. After all, she loved her grandson Phillip and she didn't exactly feel the same way about his mother, Nina.  He wished she would call...what was she waiting for?

Jill threw down the one of the photos John had sent for her approval..So...Mackenzie had managed to work her way into the family business now, had she? She had been away far too long...Where on earth did they get the idea for her as a mother?  Jill wondered...Probably that foolish son of mine..she sighed. She thought that this whole thing would have  been  over by now...if that stupid Brittany hadn't opened her big mouth, none of this would have happened. What on earth had she been thinking, trusting that girl? How had she been so wrong about Billy's feelings for Mackenzie? The phone rang, interrupting her thoughts... " Jill Abbott" she said distractedly... " It's about time, Jill...where the hell have you been?" " Right here, John...let's just say these pictures were about the last thing I expected to see today..." " Why Jill?...I told you we were using Mackenzie as the model...." She stood up, pacing back and forth, her free arm flailing around. " Yes John, but you neglected to tell me that she was our new young 'mother'...John, who in their right mind would believe Mackenzie as a mother?"  John noted the way that Jill practically spat out Mackenzie's name and sighed. Apparently, she hadn't given up her seemingly endless vendetta against her. " What did you think of the pictures, Jill? Try to look past who the model was, try to be objective...I know you can..." he paused, decided to sweeten his words a little, Jill had always loved flattery... " Everyone has been waiting on your opinion....the campaign has been green lighted, but I would really like to hear your insights." He waited for an answer, hoping he hadn't been too heavy handed.

Jill smiled. She knew John was trying to get to her, but still…she picked up the photo she had dropped on top of the pile…looking  at the picture...she had to admit John was right...she looked beautiful, different than she used to...what was it? " Why don't you come down to the office? We can get everyone together...discuss this as a family?" Jill paused.  " Everyone? Will Billy be there?" she asked. " Yes, Jill he will...this whole project was his suggestion..." He didn't mention that Mackenzie and his grandson would also be there. She would find out soon enough. " When?" she asked, trying not to sound too anxious. " How about tomorrow?" John asked. " About 10 o'clock, in my office.." Jill paused.. " If Billy finds out I'm going to be there, he may not show up...." John smiled. " This was partially his idea, Jill...I think you'll find our son has changed more than a little since you've been gone...only for the better, I think..So, you'll be there, 10'o clock?" " Yes, John...I'll be there..." " Fine then...I'll see you tomorrow..." he said and hung up. " Tomorrow" Jill said. An idea began forming in her head...Where had she put that number? She hunted through her purse....picking up the phone.. " Operator...a number in St. Louis....Sam Browning...." She smiled. No sense taking chances, a little backup plan would always come in handy, she thought.

Billy smiled into the phone... " So then, she agreed?" Mac stood at his elbow, rocking Will up and down on her shoulder, he was fussing just a little, trying to quiet him down. He looked at Mac, smiling. " That's great Dad....yes, 10' o clock...we'll be there...yes we'll bring him....see you then." He hung up the phone and turned to her. "She agreed!" he said. " Apparently, she saw the photos....she wants to talk about it...Dad said he didn't tell her about Will...I guess she'll meet him tomorrow.." He reached over and touched the top of the baby's head, stroking it with his fingertips. " You still have time to back out, you don't have to do this...we can go ahead without her.." he said, sort of hoping she would change her mind, he never knew what his mother could be capable of. She shook her head. " No...she deserves to know she has a grandson....I think it may help us, Billy...if she does meet him...she might be a little easier on us...or at least on me... " she looked down at her son, he was quiet again, sucking on his fist. " Once she meets him, she'll fall in love with him...just like everyone else does...." She smiled. Billy smiled back, but he had a weird feeling, deep down..almost like a warning..things had been going so well lately...he just hoped that they would continue..

" That's right, Mr. Browning...the tickets will be waiting for you at the gate...when you arrive, a car will be waiting as well. Meet me at my hotel ....The Genoa City 312..If I'm not here, wait for me...Yes, yes...I promise to make this worthwhile..." she smiled. "For all of us..."

Chapter 38

John, Ashley and Jack were in John's office, waiting at a large conference table...Jack looked at his watch. " It's nearly 10, think she'll still show?" John nodded.

" I do, Jack.." he said firmly. "Deep down, I know Jill loves Billy deeply...remember how upset she was when we almost lost him to hypothermia?" Jack nodded, Jill had been a mess, nearly coming unhinged at the thought of losing another son. "But Dad....Mackenzie was the one who brought Billy back...out of his would think that would have made her cut the poor kid a little slack...but look what she's done since then? I don't think she'll ever be ready to accept Mackenzie..." " I don't know, Jack" Ashley broke in. " I think Will is the key here...once she meets him...she won't do anything that would harm him....Mackenzie is his mother....she knows what it's like to love a son..." " I hope you're right..."  Billy's voice came from the open doorway. He opened the door, and Mac walked in, carrying Will. Ashley swooped in immediately, giving Mac a quick kiss on the cheek, and grabbing him from her.

" Who could resist this baby?" she asked, holding him up for inspection. Mac had dressed him with great care, choosing an outfit that Ashley had bought, one of many. Jack walked over to Mac, kissing her on the cheek, his hands on her arms.. "Ready, kiddo?" he asked. She nodded. " As I'll ever be, I guess..." He patted her arms... " We're all on your side, Mackenzie...every one of us..." Mac smiled. " I know that...and I love you all for all have been wonderful to me, from the very beginning.." " You're a part of this family, Mackenzie..." Ashley said. " My daughter is right, and your son are a very important part of this family...." Mac turned to Billy.. " See? " she said, her voice choked with emotion.. " How could I not do this? This is my family now, too.." Billy smiled. " I know, baby..but I can't help it...I'm still mother's done so much to us already..." " Why don't we all sit down and wait for her?" John offered. They did, and Jack grabbed Will from Ashley, not without an argument..and proceeded to make him chuckle by making funny faces. Soon, everyone at the table joined in the laughter.

Jill paused at the open door at the sound of laughter coming from inside. She looked in before entering... "Well..that's a first" she said, trying to make her entrance more comfortable... " I've heard a lot of noise coming from this office, but it's usually not laughter..." Every set of eyes at the table turned at the sound of her voice, but Jill focused in on one set, tiny blue ones attached to the most beautiful baby she had ever seen. She walked over to Jack, touching the tiny child softly on his cheek.  " And who is this?" she asked sweetly... " One of the models? Are they doing a shoot for the new campaign today?"  Billy stood up and walked over to his mother. She turned away from the child for a moment, focusing on her own son. He looked like a man...Jill thought...Tall and handsome, polished in a suit and tie. " Billy..." she said softly. " Mom.." he said, extending his arms to her. She grabbed him in a tight embrace... " Billy...I've missed you..." She pulled back.. " You look wonderful..." She glanced over at Mac, seated quietly at the table. " Mackenzie..." she said, acknowledging her presence. " Jill" was all Mac said in reply. She waited for Billy to react, she would follow his lead.

He motioned for her to join him, and she did, standing next to him, taking his hand tightly in hers.

" So" Jill said, a little too brightly. Why was everyone staring at her? " Can we get down to business?" she asked. " Mom.." Billy began. " I think there's someone you need to meet first.." He took Will out of Jack's arms, placing them in his grandmother's. " This is Will...." She took the baby, smiling down at him, looking up at Billy when she heard his name. " Will?" was all she could say. " Yes..." Mackenzie answered proudly. " He's our son...your grandson..." Jill looked down at the child in her arms, he was smiling broadly up at her, waving his tiny hand in front of his face. She took his hand, wrapping it around her finger. " My grandson?" she asked, still in shock. " A baby?" she sat down on one of the chairs...still looking down at the child. He was Billy, to a tee...same eyes, same crinkly smile... She looked at John.... "Why didn't you tell me?" she asked. "That's why you all wanted Mackenzie for the ads...."  Ashley piped up. " She's perfect, Jill...that was Will in the shots with her....the glow that showed through in those photographs was real...." Jill looked up at that's what it was..they were members of the same fraternity now. Motherhood. She had noticed something in those photographs that was different about her...a radiance...something had changed. She hadn't been able to put her finger on it until now, but even in person she could see it. She was different, less afraid. She stood confidently next to Billy, grasping his hand, looking her straight in the eye. Jill knew that she was no longer dealing with the frightened little girl she had pushed around before.

Mac looked Jill in the eye, and thought she had seen something there. A spark of recognition, a common bond. They were both mothers now, and both would do anything for their children. A silent communication ran between them, an unspoken agreement. Jill knew it was pointless to argue. " So..." she began. " When do we begin this campaign?" she asked. The tension had been broken, and they sat down to begin to hammer out the details, Jill refusing to give up her grandson to anyone but his mother, who insisted it was time for his lunch, and retreated to John's inner office to feed him.

When she was gone..Billy reached over and placed his hand over his mother's, a silent thank you. She smiled and nodded. " So...the ads will begin running tomorrow...television, print...we even have a website!" John announced. " We've invited people to vote for which mother they would like to see in our Christmas campaign...I think I know how this table will vote.." John chuckled. " We move forward immediately..Mackenzie will go on tour to introduce the line beginning next week...mostly department introduce the new line..." "Dad...I want to go with her...and she wants to bring Will along..." Billy began. " Actually, Billy...that's another thing we wanted to discuss with you...If Mackenzie is agreeable, we would like to some of the photos of Will in the ads..we wouldn't have to mention who he's just that those pictures have such a quality...." Billy nodded. " I know..I don't think Mac will have a problem with long as his face isn't seen and his name isn't mentioned.." Jack nodded. " No sense taking any chances...I agree..and I see no reason why you can't go along on the tour with Mackenzie....chalk it up to your expense account" he added, smiling. " I think that's everything...." John said. " Jill, you're awfully you have anything to add?" Jill shook her head, she had suddenly remembered her expected visitor back at the hotel. Things had gone too well, she couldn't take the chance of blowing it now. A grandson....she hadn't expected that, nor had she expected to fall so deeply in love with him. She had to get back there, get rid of Sam before anybody found out. " No, nothing...." She grasped Billy's hand... " I'm grateful to you, Billy ...and your wi-..Mackenzie...for giving me this chance...the chance to know my grandson." Billy looked at her, trying to decipher any hidden meaning in her words. He could find none..she simply looked grateful. " It's okay, Mom...just don't make me regret giving you this chance.." She nodded. " I know I deserved that...and much more...I promise I'll behave....just let me see that baby once in awhile?" she smiled. " Sure, Ma...whenever you want....within reason, of course". He returned her smile. Mac was right again, he thought. It felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, he hadn't realized how much fighting with his mother had taken out of him.

Mac walked back into the room, carrying her sleeping son. Looking at the faces around the table, she knew things had been settled and she was glad. She walked towards them. "Everything okay?" she asked. Billy rose and nodded, leaning in to kiss her. "Everything's great...we leave on the tour next week, and Will comes with us!" She smiled. "That's awesome...I was dreading not seeing him for a whole week..." She looked down at Jill. " Thank you..." she said.  " Thank you, Mackenzie..." Jill answered. " I promise you won't regret giving me this chance..." Billy spoke.. " I hope not, Ma..."

He looked at Mackenzie. " Ready?" he asked. She nodded. " I'll be back just as soon as I drop these two off..." "Billy...I can take the car home's silly for you to leave just to have to come back...I promised Grandma that I would drop Will off there for the afternoon..." she looked at the others. " I going to register for some classes at GCU...nothing much...just to keep me busy.." John laughed. " I think that's wonderful...but you won't need much help keeping busy...we intend to put you to work, young lady.." She smiled... " I think this will be more fun than work, spending time with my husband and my baby..." she looked at Billy. " I promise...I'll be careful..." he handed her the keys. " I'll walk you to the car..." Billy said. " I'll be right back..." he told his father, who nodded. They walked out to the elevators.

When they had gone, John turned to Jill... "That wasn't so difficult, was it?" he asked. " I 'm proud of you, Jill...I just hope you meant it." She nodded, hoping John would believe her. She needed to get out of here fast, she would wait until Billy came back, though. If she didn't cut Sam off at the pass...everything that just happened would have been for nothing.

Chapter 39

Billy and Mac stood next to the car, Will was safely tucked into his car seat, sleeping. " I'll be fine, really. I know how to drive, Billy." He smiled. " Don't get smart with me, young lady...I know you'll be careful..." He leaned inside the passenger door, placing a kiss on his son's head. " Be good for mommy...she's not as good a driver as she thinks.."He raised his voice slightly at the end, so she would be sure to hear his playful remark. He pulled his head out, barely avoiding her swipe at his arm. " that..." he laughed. " When you're a big star..I'll call the National Enquirer on you... 'Baby Jabot model belts husband in parking lot'..." he pulled her closer. " When this thing hits, you are gonna be a big know that?" He pulled her even closer. " Will you still have time for little old me?" " I think I'll be able to squeeze you and then..." she kissed him, meaning for it to be brief, but Billy hung on to her, deepening the kiss. When they finally pulled apart, Billy smiled down at her. Her eyes were half closed, a dreamy look on her face. " What was that for?" she asked softly, still trying to recover her wits.

" Because I love you...because I was never more proud of you than I was just had your chance,  anyone would say my mother deserved it. But you treated her better than she ever would have treated you....because I'm so lucky, because I'm happy....want me to go on?" he asked. " She loves you, Billy...just like I do. Well maybe not exactly the way I do, but she loves you. I think she really wants to try to make things work, don't you?" she looked at him. He nodded. " I think so...and to tell the truth..I'm happy the whole thing is out in the open....Will really won her over, didn't he?" She nodded, smiling. " I told you he would...." She looked at her watch. " I hate to do this, but I promised my Grandma I would drop him off by 1 o'clock. I think she has a bunch of ladies coming over to take a peek." He nodded and sighed. " Too busy for the husband already...I could see it coming...not even a star yet..." She swatted at him again. " Cut it out..." She looked at him again, her face more serious. " You know that will never happen, don't you?" He nodded. " Just fishing, that's all. Works every time.." She laughed and kissed him quickly, eluding his grasp to walk around and get behind the wheel. He walked over to the door... " Just one more..." he leaned in and kissed her, pulling away smiling. " I love you, Billy...see you tonight..." she said starting the car. " Love you too! Don't sign any movie contracts until I get to see 'em first!" he shouted, waving as she laughed, pulling the car out of the garage. He watched until they were safely on the street, and headed for the elevators, whistling happily.

John looked at Jill, who was at the window, watching for any sign of Mackenzie...she saw her briefly, pulling slowly out of the garage, in a car Jill did not recognize. Must be new, she thought. Lots of new things around here...She waited until she was down the street and gone before she turned to John. " you need me any longer today?" she asked. " No...I guess not...Jack?" he turned to his son, Ashley had already left the office. Jack shook his head. " No...We can get the ball rolling now...Why in such a hurry, Jill? Don't you want to wait..speak to Billy again?" She shook her head. " Just tell him I said goodbye....I don't want to push it...everything went so well today...I'll see you all tomorrow." She gathered her purse and walked to the elevators...The door opened and Billy stepped out... " Leaving so soon?" he asked. She nodded. " I have some errands to run...." She stepped forward and kissed him on the cheek. " It's good to have you back, Mom..." he said softly. " Thank you, Billy..." he seemed genuinely glad, and Jill wondered exactly how much Mac had to do with his reaction. Probably everything, she thought..The old Billy would have sulked, refused to speak to her, maybe even started to drink again....No...her son had definitely changed..She looked at him and smiled, entering the elevator.. " See you soon, Billy..." she said as the doors closed. She looked at her watch, almost 12:45...she had told him to wait, did he?

Sam Browning walked around the hotel room, touching this and that...the bellhop had walked him upstairs and let him in..the kid looked annoyed when he had stiffed him a tip..big deal..Some place. That kid of Amanda's seemed to have done all right for herself. Little tramp...he smiled. God knows what she had to do to land herself a rich husband, but he had to give her credit. From the looks of this place, the kid's family must be loaded. His mother had contacted him several times over the past year..but then nothing. He had hoped to hop on the gravy train his stepdaughter seemed to be riding, that's why he jumped at the chance to hop on a plane here. He had remained in St. Louis after he and Amanda had split up, he really had no place else to go. The factory job he had wasn't much, but his history of drinking limited his chances at getting another one. All that would change after today, though...he would see to it. Mac wouldn't be the only one cashing in on this deal.

The door opened and Jill walked in. She saw Sam Browning standing by the fireplace. He had picked up a picture of Billy she had placed there, and was examining it closely. Jill shivered slightly. Sam Browning looked like an ordinary man, there was nothing unusual about his appearance. He was tall, with dark slicked down hair, slightly balding in front. He wore what was obviously his best suit, although like Sam, it had seen better days. She extended her hand..”I'm Jill Abbott.." He shook her hand, his grip was slightly clammy. " Good to meet you, Ms. Abbott..." he said, looking at her in a way that set Jill's teeth on edge.

" Won't you sit down?" she asked, gesturing towards the couch. He nodded and sat down, looking up at her. Not bad, not bad at all...he thought. " What can I do for you, Ms. Abbott?" She sat on the chair opposite the couch. " Well see now, that's the thing...I hate to have had you come all this way....but your services are no longer necessary." He looked at her again.. " What?" he said. " you made me come all the way here....for nothing?' he asked, his voice growing tighter. " Do you know I lost my job over this trip?" he threw that in at the last moment. The truth was, he had quit his job, sure that the money he picked up here would take care of him for a long time.. " You can't do this to me, Ms. Abbott...I was counting on this..." He stood up, and Jill was afraid. He hadn't raised his voice, or threatened her in so many words, but still, there was something creepy about this man. "Sit down, Sam...." Jill kept her voice calm, in spite of the fear rising inside her. " I'm not going to let you go away empty handed...Your return tickets are paid for, of course...and I thought..." she reached into her purse, thank God she had thought to stop at the ATM before coming here. She pulled out a wad of cash... " I thought $5,000 should about cover your time and trouble..." He walked over and snatched the money out of her hands, counting it quickly. He smiled and rolled it up, stuffing it in his pocket.

" That'll do, for a start.....but there's something else I'll take before I leave". He reached down and grabbed her arm, pulling her to her feet. He grabbed her around the neck, she was  barely able to speak or make a sound. He pulled her closer...hissing in her ear.. " I'd like a little taste of what a rich broad feels like...just once...." She pulled at his arm, glancing around the room. The picture of Billy in that heavy silver frame.... " Sam..." she whispered.... " Don't you think we'd be more comfortable in there?" she jerked her head towards the bedroom. They would have to pass the fireplace...there was no way around it...He pulled her backwards, forcing her to walk along in front of him. She grabbed hold of the edge of the mantle, hanging on for dear life. The picture was right near the edge. He pulled at her again, her grip loosening..the force of him knocking the picture frame to the floor. The sound startled him, and he loosened his grip around her neck for a moment. She picked up the frame, turning around to flail at him...He swatted her away...she fell back against the mantle, the back of her head striking its edge. She fell in a heap, the picture still in her hands, blood already staining the beige carpet beneath her head. He looked around the room....her purse was on the couch...she looked dead....what the hell to do now? He picked up her purse, rummaging through it...the wallet inside contained a few hundred dollars....he stuffed the cash in his car keys...just the room key...He took it and sprinted to the door quickly, locking it from the outside, pocketing the key. He had to get out of here...but not just yet. He had one more piece of business to finish...

chapter 40

Mac got behind the wheel. The registration for the one class she was able to get had taken longer than she had expected. Almost 3:30...She smiled. She knew her grandmother wouldn't mind having Will a little longer than she had expected to. In fact, she would probably complain that she was taking him home too soon. The drive went quickly, Mac was thinking about Billy...she wondered how the rest of the day with his mother had gone. She stopped at the red light, just two blocks before the Chancellor Estate...She felt something cool and wet cover her mouth...and then darkness.

Kay looked down at Will, smiling in her arms. She looked at her watch....almost 6 0'clock....Mackenzie must be running late....why hadn't she called? "Well...young man...just more time for us to spend together..." Her company had all gone home, after much oohing and aahing over Will. The phone rang...Esther walked over to it and picked it up... " Chancellor residence..." " Hi's Mac still there?" " No, Billy, she's fact she hasn't arrived here yet...she must be running a little late..." Kay got up, handed Will to Esther and took the phone from her. " Billy?" " Oh, hi...Mrs. Chancellor....did Mac call to tell you how late she would be?" Kay was beginning to get at strange feeling... " No, Billy...she hasn't called....." she said.. " That's so unlike her..." " Don't panic, Mrs. C....I'll call the registrar...maybe she's still there...sometimes it takes a while, you know... I'll call you back as soon as I know something..." He hung up the phone, that feeling he had earlier was back again. Something was wrong...he could feel it...Mac would never leave again...would she? No, she would never do that again...not without him or close as they were, she would never go anywhere without them again. But where was she? He picked up the phone, dialing the operator for the number of the University's registrars office.

" So she's been there?" Billy asked the voice on the other end of the phone. " Yes" said the female voice. "According to the receipt, she registered and paid for the class this afternoon...the time says 3:24 pm." " Thank you" Billy said and hung up. His mind only went one way....Jill... He picked up the phone, his Dad had said she was staying at the Genoa City Hotel. He dialed the number and asked for her room. The phone rang and after 10 rings he gave up. He grabbed his coat...wait, no the car...He picked up the phone and asked his secretary to have them get one of the company car's ready. He sprinted towards the elevators, pulling his coat on over his arms. Please be all right, Mac...please...he prayed silently as the elevator began its descent towards the garage.

He arrived at the hotel in record time and walked quickly towards the elevators, he had gotten the room number when he called earlier. The elevators doors opened...Room 312...there it was.. He knocked on the door, softly at first...and then more loudly... " Mom....Mom..." he touched the doorknob. Locked. He flagged down a  bellhop, pushing an empty luggage cart down the hallway. He explained the situation...handed him a fifty, and the bellhop opened the door with his passkey. He entered the appeared untouched...He walked inside...and spotted the ugly red stain spreading across the carpet...his mother lying in a heap on the floor, clutching his picture in her hand.. " Oh God...." He said....he turned towards the bellhop, who was standing in shock near the door. " Call an ambulance....please..." The bellhop did as he was told..and backed out of the room slowly. Billy felt her neck...she had a pulse...she was still alive... " Hang on, Mom...hang on..." he whispered.

Mac woke up to pitch darkness, her hands and feet were tied. Oh God, where was she? There was some kind of wet cold ground underneath her….she was inside some kind of building, that much she knew…It had high windows, big empty space all around. Looked like some kind of warehouse or something..  A voice came from behind her “ It’s about time you woke up…..I can see your still the same old lazy piece of trash you always were….” That voice, she would never forget that voice if she lived to be a hundred. She tried to turn her head, but she was tied to some kind of pipe that came ran along the wall…she didn’t really have to, she knew who it was…. “ Aren’t you gonna say hello, Mackenzie?…” The voice moved closer, and she saw a pair of scuffed black shoes in front of her legs.  “ Sam?” she looked up….those same scary dark eyes, that evil smirk…He had one hand tucked into the waistband of his pants….Mac closed her eyes and turned her head away. “ Betcha didn’t expect to see me again, did you? After that crap you pulled back in St. Louis…..” He crouched down, reaching out to touch her face, Mac flinched away before his fingers could touch her skin.. “ Now, now…Mac…is that any way to treat your dear old stepdad?” He slapped her, a stinging blow across her cheek. “ We can play this my way, or we can play this the hard way….the choice is up to you….”

“ What do you want from me?” Mac whispered… “ You know what I want….what I’ve always wanted…..what was mine to begin with…” He leered at her, and the hair on the back of Mac’s neck stood on end.  “ You’ll have to kill me first…..I would rather be dead….” Mac said flatly. Thank God she had picked up Will yet….he was still at her grandmother’s….. “ That can be arranged, baby…..But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun first, right?…I mean..I want some of what you’ve been giving that rich boy….” Mac squirmed as he ran his hand up her leg…choking back the bile rising in her throat… “ If anything happens to me, Billy will kill you……He might just kill you anyway….” Mac wondered what time it was…Billy must be missing her by now….Surely he would come soon….

Billy walked beside the gurney as it wheeled his mother into the emergency room. He had called Katherine and John already, telling them what happened, and they were already waiting. Katherine had left Will at home with Esther. “ Billy….Billy what happened? Where is Mackenzie? Did you find her?” Billy shook his head… “ No, Kay…I went to Mom’s hotel room…I thought she might have had something to do with this….and I found her on the floor…I called the police…they were at the hotel when I left..trying to find out who did this…Is Will all right? Where is he?” “ He’s at home with Esther…Billy where could she be? Do you think what happened to Jill has anything to do with this?” John spoke next, trying to calm Katherine… “ We can’t be sure about anything, Katherine…Billy, I think you should call the police, find out what’s going on…You need to report that Mackenzie’s missing…”   Billy nodded… “ I know, Dad…but remember Mac has a history of running away….they could think she’s just done it again…I don’t know if they’ll start looking for her…You guys will let me know what happens here?” they nodded. “ Good…I’m going back to the hotel…see what I can find out on my own….” He forced a smile… “ I’ll find her, Mrs. C…I have to…there’s no way Will and I can survive without her now….” Katherine nodded, her eyes filled with tears.

Billy disappeared through the exit doors, and Katherine turned to John. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders... “ I know he’ll do everything he can to bring Mackenzie back, safe and sound…Wherever she is, he’ll find her…” Katherine nodded. “ I know..but what about Jill?…John do you think she’s somehow connected to this whole thing?” The same thought had been running through John’s mind… “ We have to make sure to be in the room when she wakes up….If she knows anything, we’ll find out…”

Chapter 41

Billy raced through the hotel front doors…Police were swarming around the lobby…questioning some of the guests. He recognized two of the detectives…Logan and Kincaid from his short stay in the Genoa City Jail all those months ago. It seemed like two lifetimes ago at this moment. He approached the detectives, who were comparing notes about the witnesses they had just questioned. “ Detectives Logan and Kincaid?” they looked up. “ Hi, I don’t know if you remember me…I’m Billy Abbott…” Detective Kincaid nodded… “ Sure, kid….We were just talking about the fact that your family seems to attract all kinds of trouble lately..How’s your mom doing, anyway?” “ She’s at the hospital, they’re working on her now…..Have you guys come up with anything yet?” Logan shrugged his shoulders… “ Not much….just that your Mom had a visitor or something….” “ A visitor?” Billy asked…. “ Did they say who it was?” “ The desk clerk said the guy’s name was Browning….Sam Browning…” Billy’s blood froze…. “Sam Browning? Are you sure?” The detectives nodded. “ Yes….You recognize the name..” Billy nodded… “ yeah, I do….he’s my wife’s stepfather…from St. Louis….see, that’s the thing…my wife has been missing for the last couple of hours…she didn’t show up to pick up our son…” The detectives looked at each other….  “ you think this Browning guy might have something to do with that too?” Billy sighed. “ It’s a long story, Mac ran away from her stepfather years ago, he tried to molest her more than once….” Logan nodded….. “ We did a background check on this guy….apparently your wife wasn’t the only one he tried that on…he’s got a history of violent behavior….his fingerprints are all over the room upstairs…..Mr. Abbott, we need a picture of your wife….Kincaid…I think you should call this in…” Billy looked at the detectives… “ Do you have any idea where this guy may have been staying?” Logan shook his head… “ No..apparently he just got in today….Mr. Abbott…why don’t you go back to the hospital?  Your mother may have something to say about this if she wakes up….”

Billy nodded… “ Will you let me know if you find anything out?” Logan nodded.. “ We’ll be in touch, I promise….”

Katherine and John sat at Jill’s bedside. The head injury was not as severe as it had looked, the doctor said that all the tests came back normal…she should awaken at any moment. Katherine got up from the chair, pacing back and forth…John looked up at her… “ Katherine….maybe you should go home…spend some time with the baby…I’ll wait here…” She shook her head… “ No, John…..I want to be here when she wakes up….I promise you if she’s responsible for this…” John nodded… “ I know….but we can’t be sure of anything until then…..” He turned his head…Jill was making low moaning noises……. “ Don’t hurt the baby….please…..” she murmured. John sprang to his feet, grasping Jill’s hand… “ Jill? Jill, please….wake up…..” Jill opened her eyes slowly….staring at the white lights above her head.. “ John?’ she croaked… “ Yes, Jill…you’re in the hospital…..” Jill’s eyes opened wide….. “ John….the baby! John is the baby all right?” “ Will?…Yes, Jill he’s fine…he’s at Katherine’s…..Jill what happened?”

Katherine stood at the foot of the bed…. “Yes, Jill…what happened…..” “ Sam….Sam Browning…..”… “Sam Browning? You mean Mackenzie’s stepfather?” Jill nodded. “ Yes….he did this to me…..I tried to stop him….I didn’t mean for him to hurt anyone….Billy! Is Billy all right?” Katherine nodded. “ Yes..Billy’s fine…except for the fact that Mackenzie is missing……” Jill raised herself up on her elbows…her head was spinning….Oh God, what had she done?…The door swung open. Billy walked inside, smiling at the sight of his mother awake… “ Mom….” He walked over to the bed… “ I’m glad you’re okay….” Jill clutched at Billy’s hand…He would never forgive her for bringing Sam Browning here….. “ Billy….you have to know that I never meant for this to happen….” Billy’s face turned white…. “ I know about Sam, Mom…I was just at the hotel….I know that you didn’t bring him here thinking he would hurt Mac…but she is missing….Do you think Sam could have taken her?” Jill nodded, her eyes filling with tears. “ Yes,..yes I do, Billy….he was so angry…I tried to pay him off….I couldn’t go through with it, not after I saw Mackenzie with that baby….he fought with me, tried to rape me…I think he’s capable of just about anything…..” Billy choked back his anger….Mac would want him to forgive his mother, he knew that… “ I know, Ma..what did you think bringing him here would accomplish? Make Mac so ashamed that she’d leave me again? I hope you realize now that’s something that will never happen again…she would never leave me or Will, not willingly, anyway…” She nodded. “ I know that, Billy….don’t you see? That was before I knew about Will….I can see how much she loves that baby…and you…” She sat up straighter, ignoring her pounding head.. “ What can I do, Billy? Tell me….please…I know Sam is dangerous, and I realize what kind of horrible life Mackenzie must have had back in St. Louis….please tell me what I can do?” Billy shook his head… “ I don’t know, Ma…what do you think he wants?” Billy voice trembled slightly…remembering the stories Mac had told him about Sam…What would he do to her?  “ I think what he wants most is money, Billy…lots of it….I have an idea…if you’ll listen….” She looked at Katherine and John….they nodded..and Jill talked for awhile…giving them her plan. “ So?” she asked them when she finished. Billy looked at his father and then at Katherine…. “ I think it’s worth a shot….what about you two?” Katherine and John nodded… “ Yes, Billy….I think anything that brings Mackenzie home to us is worth a try….”

Sam pulled the car up in front of the motel room….he had chosen one about a half an hour away from Genoa City…he needed a place to get a plan together before he took his next step. He smiled…nice big bed….he been waiting for this chance with his stepdaughter for a long time…she certainly grown into a tasty piece….Mac sat in the back seat, her hands still tied, her hat pulled down around her face to cover the tape over her mouth…They had stopped, finally. She opened her eyes and looked out the window…she had no idea where they were….Sam opened the door and got out of the rented car, he had ditched the one Mac had been driving at a rest stop off the highway. He opened the back door, yanking Mac out and to her feet with one arm. He stood behind her, whispering… “ Remember…no sudden movements…make it look like we’re here for a nice little nap, that’s all. Walk!” he hissed. She walked over to the door, waiting for him to open it up. He did and pushed her inside, she lost her footing, landing face down on the double bed. He laughed…. “Whoa, there honey….they’ll be plenty of time for that later….” He walked over to the television set and turned it on.

“ Let’s just see how smart that rich new family of yours is…” he sat on the edge of the bed, running his hands over her ankle. He flicked through the channels, looking for some news about himself. A woman caught his eye, and he pushed the remote back to the previous channel. “ Mr. Browning…” Mac turned over…She knew that voice….She lay quietly with her head against the pillow, trying to catch a glimpse of the screen, it was partially blocked by Sam. “ Mr. Browning…if you can hear this…please…contact me at Jabot Industries…You’ve been dealt a gross injustice….I need to compensate you for everything that you’ve done for me…The money that I owe you will be waiting, with interest, anywhere that you suggest will be fine….And one last thing….Mackenzie….we love you….” It was Jill…..why was she on television? And why was she saying she loved her? Jill was crying now…. “ Mackenzie….Will loves you, he needs you…be strong…all of us miss you and love you…” Sam smiled…So, the rich bitch was ready to pay now.

He flicked off the TV. “ So? Your rich mother in law loves you, huh?…That’s news to me…she never had anything good to say about you before….” He grabbed her wrist…. “ Who’s Will? Some cute little nickname for that rich husband of yours?” She shook her head….He ripped the tape off her mouth….tightening his grip on her wrist…. “ Tell me….or I’m gonna start the party right now….” “ He’s my son…” she whispered, her voice croaking. He dropped her wrist as if he had touched flame.. “ Your son?…So, that’s how you got the rich kid to marry you, huh?…Well guess what, honey….the party’s over….I ain’t going nowhere near no bastard’s mother….That don’t mean we can’t have some other fun, though….There are lots of things you can do for me, if you know what I mean….It’s gonna hafta wait, though….I got more important business to take care of first…” He took a length of rope out of his pocket, tying her wrists to the headboard of the bed, retaping her mouth. “ I gotta go out for awhile…..when I come back, there’s a few things I want you to do for me….I’ll let you think about that while I’m gone…” He took the keys and left the room, locking the door from the outside. Mac tried to work her wrists free, the ropes were too tight, she was already bleeding from the friction. Please, Billy…..please get here soon….

Chapter 42

Jill took a deep breath, praying that what she had just done would work. They had managed to convince the local television station, with a little help from the police, to televise her plea. It would be more convincing coming from her, at least that’s what she had told Billy. He had wanted to make the plea himself, but John and Katherine had sided with Jill. She had met Sam before, in fact she was the reason he was in Genoa City in the first place….She never would have admitted it before today…but the guilt about that fact was eating up her from the inside….After seeing Mackenzie with that baby….nothing could happen to her now….It just couldn’t..

John walked over and grasped Jill’s hand…. “ That was fine, Jill….If Sam is as greedy as you say he is…He’ll do anything to get that money…..I think we made it clear enough exactly where you were, he couldn’t mistake this for anything but a hospital room….” Katherine nodded….. “ I hope Mackenzie saw that….although if she did, she probably couldn’t believe what she was hearing…..” Jill nodded.  “ I know that I’ve done nothing but try to ruin her life….if I could take everything back…I would….I just hope we can do this….Billy and her son need her back here….I know you have no reason to trust me…I wouldn’t trust me….” Katherine just nodded…She hoped against hope that Jill was telling the truth…

Billy was pacing up and down in front of the hospital’s main desk…pausing every time the phone rang….Sam had to buy it, he just had to..After about 15 minutes, he gave up his pacing…flopping himself in a nearby chair. What was taking so long? If Sam had seen that message..why hadn’t he called?….Where was she?…..He realized fully at that moment that if anything had happened to her he had no clue how his life could continue….there was Will to think about….the bond that had formed between mother and son was already like iron…He would be there…but who would be there for him? How could he survive without her?… He looked up to find the nurse behind the desk headed for his mother’s room…..He jumped to his feet….. “ Nurse?…What is it?”…. She turned around before pushing the door open….. “ It’s a telephone call….for your mother…..” She entered the room…..John, Kay and Jill were all waiting anxiously……Jill looked up….. Billy smiled at her slightly…..nervously… “ Mom…..this could be it…..There’s a phone call for you at the front desk….” The nurse nodded…. “ It’s definitely a male voice…..I just hope it’s the one you’re all waiting for…..” Jill stepped forward, out of the room and towards the desk, the others close behind her…..She picked up the phone….. “ Hello?..”…she spoke slowly….. “ Well, now……looks like someone made a miraculous recovery…….I thought for sure you’d be in the morgue by now….” Hearing that voice again caused the hair on the back of her neck to stand up….She kept her voice calm, however…… “ You’d be surprised how quickly I bounce back…..Now…., can we finish our business? I would really like to get this thing settled…..” “ Not so fast…..I give the orders around here now…..I just found out today that I got me a little grandson…..that ought to make the price of our little business deal rise a little…..” She gulped, her face was white as she turned to look at the others, pulling a pad and pencil over to the phone, scribbling furiously……She shoved it at the others….Written on it were the words…..HE HAS HER…HE KNOWS ABOUT WILL…… Kay covered her mouth, tears in her eyes….Billy’s hands clenched into fists at his side…..His head spinning…..What had he done to her already?…What would he do with her now? Jill made a quick decision…. “ Name your price….” “That’s more like it……I want one million dollars….small bills, unmarked……put them in a bag….one of those fancy Jabot makeup bags…that’ll do…..leave it by the telephone booth, the real old one that’s over by Route 16…..Do it by later….unless you want that baby to miss his mama permanently….Oh…and Ms. Abbott? You bring it….nobody else…..I want to thank you personally….No cops, no nobody…..understand?”…Jill nodded…..She scribbled the instructions on the pad…..Billy walked over to read them….. “ I mean it, lady…no tricks…or the little mama and you are gonna get more than you bargained for….” The phone clicked off…Jill hung up, her heart racing….

“What else did he say, Ma?…..Did he give you any idea about where Mac is?..” She shook her head…… “ He just said he wants me to deliver the money alone…..out by Route 16….”….She looked at her son….tears rolling down his face….What had she done?…If that girl died….any hopes of patching up what was left of their relationship would be gone…and Billy… would he survive that?…John stepped forward….. “We have to let the police know about this…..they know about the broadcast…..” Jill shook her head….. “ No…..I’m the one who started this….I’m the one who has to finish it….We need the money by midnight……Can we get it?” Katherine stepped forward….. “ I can raise at least half by then……Can you John?” John nodded…..The money was not the problem…..It was the idea of Jill going out there alone to face the man that had nearly killed her….Whatever had happened between them, she was still Billy’s mother…. “Dad…..I want you to know that I’m not letting Mom go out there alone…..Mac is my wife……I have to be there…..I think I may have an idea of how to do it….Where did he say to meet you, Out by Route 16?……..That’s the middle of nowhere…that’s a truck route…..” He turned to his father….. “ Do you think he could have her somewhere near there?”…John shook his head….. “ I don’t know….I think that’s why we need to call the police….they have bigger resources….they may find her more quickly…..” “And what if they do find him? And he decides to go out in a blaze of glory and take my wife along with him?….Dad….I couldn’t live if…” John put his hand on Billy’s shoulder, as if to comfort him…. “ I know, son…..I’ll let you decide how you want to handle this…..She is your wife….” Billy looked at Kay, who had remained quiet…. “ Kay?….Kay….do you trust me enough to bring her back here?…And what about Brock?…Shouldn’t we call him, too?” Kay nodded….Brock was out combing the streets for his daughter…. “ We’ve trusted you with her life before, Billy….and you’ve always brought her back to us…..Please do it again…please…” He smiled at her…. “ I have no choice, Kay….If she dies….I die too….” He turned to his mother…looking at his watch….It was almost 10:45….less than 2 hours until the deadline…. “As soon as we go to the bank and collect the cash..we move…..Are you sure you can do this?” he asked her. She nodded….She had to….That new grandson of hers deserved the chance to grow up with his mother….

Chapter 43

Jill drove quickly down the nearly deserted road….the dashboard clock read 11:50…..She was already on Route 16….She scanned the dark road, watching for the telephone booth….A safe distance behind was Billy….driving John’s car….The police had called earlier to let them know they had found Mac’s car off a rest stop on the highway….there was no trace of her, just the papers from the registrar’s office that were found on the floor in the back…Billy tried to keep his foot off the accelerator….He didn’t want to get to close to his mother’s car….She pulled off to the left….Billy shut his headlights off and pulled off to left, about 50 feet behind her, remaining a safe distance away, hoping that the darkness would shield him from Sam’s view…

Another car was waiting there, right next to the phone booth, as promised. Jill shut the car off….taking a deep breath. The bag of money was right next to her on the front seat..She grabbed it by the handles before opening the door to step outside. The door of the other car opened, and the car light briefly revealed a glimpse of the person inside. He got out of the car, Jill could make out his teeth, grinning evilly in the darkness…He stood by the car, his arms folded across his chest… “ Nice to see you again, Ms. Abbott….” He  said slowly….Jill forced a smile, approaching him slowly….. “ The money’s right here, Sam…..everything you asked for….” His smile faded slightly as she came closer…he snatched the bag out of her hands quickly….peering down into it caused him to grin again….. “ Looks good, Ms. Abbott……” He grabbed her wrist, pulling her towards him…… “ Don’t think I don’t see that car down there, honey……You and that slut daughter of mine are gonna pay for that…” He opened the door to his car, still holding her wrist tightly…He pushed her inside….jumping in after her, throwing the bag onto the back seat…He started the car quickly…Jill was too frightened to move…He swung the car around….and Jill began to frantically try to open the door on her side….it was locked, apparently from the outside….and she could not force it open…He noticed her movements, and took one hand off the wheel…sending a sharp blow to her temple with the back of his hand…..Jill  surrendered to the blackness…her last thoughts of Billy sitting in the car behind them…

Billy had seen the whole thing, he started the car as soon as Sam had…..Why hadn’t she put up more of a fight?…he wondered, then realized she was probably still pretty weak from the blow to the head she had suffered earlier today….He followed behind them at what he thought was a safe distance…..he had been forced to put his headlights on…the road was simply too dark to see anything otherwise…He sped up a little….Sam was traveling at a fast pace…..he looked down at the speedometer…it read 82mph….He felt the front wheels wobble slightly….he must have hit a wet patch of road or something…..the steering wheel loosened under his hands….he grabbed hold of it tighter, trying to keep the car from spinning……..The car spun out……and headed towards a small drainage ditch off to the left of the highway……It came to a stop upright…Billy slumped against the steering wheel, a small trickle of blood dripping down from a gash over his right eye….

Sam looked into the rearview mirror……The headlights that had been behind him were gone, seemingly vanished into thin air……He smiled…..and looked over at Jill, who was slumped against the passenger door, moaning….she had regained consciousness. He pulled into the motel parking lot…shutting the headlights off, parking the car….He nudged her sharply, poking at her with his hands… “ Hey….Hey…..” he leaned close to her ear….. “ WAKE UP!” he shouted, startling her….She lifted her head….peering out the window….a dingy motel… “ You’re gonna hafta walk……no sense drawing attention to ourselves….” He got out of the car, grabbing the bag out of the back seat..He opened the passenger door…She swung her legs around slowly….placing them on the ground….She managed to get out, wobbling a little before she stood upright…. “That’s it…..” he said, pulling out his keys, standing in front of the door waiting for her to catch up. He opened the door when she did, and pushed her inside….The room was dark…her eyes took a moment to focus…..Something was on the bed….or someone….

Mac turned her head at the sound of the door opening….Her wrists were now rubbed raw….she had been trying since Sam left to further loosen the ropes……the blood trickling down her arms telling her that she had only succeeded in making the cuts there worse..She peered at the light coming from the streetlight….Who was that? Sam had obviously come back, but he wasn’t alone…. “ Look who I brought?”….Sam said…. “ Your favorite mother in law…” He pushed her further ahead of him…Jill looked closely…her heart beating furiously…..God, what had he done to her? Her face, or at least what she could see of it around the wide piece of tape that covered her mouth..was bruised….she could already see the beginning of a black eye on one side…she was tied to the headboard by the wrists…..there was blood trickling down both her arms…..She was making noise, or at least attempting to….the sounds coming out muffled beneath the tape across her mouth…Jill pressed her finger to her lips quickly to quiet her…She seemed to understand and the noises stopped.

Mac looked at Sam….he had locked the front door…still holding onto the Jabot bag he held in his hands…..He shoved Jill into a chair that sat next to the bed….. “Don’t say a word…..Not until I tell you to…..” He smiled down at her…… “ I’m gonna count this….then we can have a little fun….” He leaned down closer….reaching inside his jacket….. “ Don’t even think about moving from that chair….I got a little insurance here…” He pulled out a small pistol, showing it to her…before putting it back into his pocket. He walked over to a small table, pulling out the chair and sitting down, placing the bag in front of him….he began to count the money slowly…out loud….Jill was grateful for the distraction….it gave her a chance to think…She looked around the room….small bedside table with a telephone and a lamp…Small bathroom at the end of the room….She had to somehow get Sam into that bathroom…she could shove the table in front of it….that should give her enough time to try and free Mac….he had thrown the keys onto the bed…

Billy’s head rose slowly..something warm and sticky was dripping down his face, he reached up and touched his forehead….flinching….Where the hell was he?…He reached into his pocket….pulling out his cell phone….dialing…. “ Dad?…Dad?…it’s me….I’m stuck somewhere…..yes….route 16….I lost control of the car…..yes….yes..bring the police….I know the car they were driving…..they must be around here somewhere….I’ll stand at the side of the road…..Dad…hurry….please…..” he hung up…and unfastened his seat belt….the door on his side refused to budge…he pushed open the passenger door…climbing out slowly….the ditch was only about 15 feet deep or so…a steep incline separated it from the road…He began to climb it…praying silently as he did…..Please God….let them be safe until we find them…..please….

Chapter 44

Sam gathered the last of the bills, stuffing them back into the bag…Surprisingly, the broad had been true to her word…All the money was there…one million dollars in cash….He would never have to answer to anyone again….He smiled….Now for a little fun…..He turned around…..glancing at Mac who still lay motionless on the bed….she had a blood on her arms….Too bad…..She would have to miss this….she could watch, though….sometimes that was almost as good as being in on it…..He turned his gaze to Jill who was sitting in the chair exactly as he had left her….She was a good looking broad all right….This oughta be good…..He got up from his chair…walking over to her…He crouched in front of her, his hand grazing her knee…slipping across it….Jill tried not to flinch…She pasted what she hoped was a seductive smile on her face……Sam grinned….So she wanted it, did she?….He ran his hand further up her leg, under her skirt to graze her thigh….She reached her hand down gently stopping his….her voice was low as she spoke….. “Sam……I have a really great idea……Why don’t you go and get cleaned up…..I like my men smelling good…….It’ll give me a chance to get ready…..” She looked him in the eyes… “ I want everything to be just right…” She glanced over at the bed…an idea sparking…. “ Why don’t you untie her? ..She isn’t in any kind of shape to go anywhere…..besides….we’re gonna need the bed for what I have in mind……” She removed her hand from his…allowing it to move further up her leg….He looked at her….he could already feel his groin tightening….It had been so long….

He walked over to the bed…untying the ropes around Mac’s hands….Her eye was now half closed, nearly swollen shut, the bruise on her face showing purple and blue…He let her hands drop to the bed… “GET UP!” he shouted….and when she moved too slowly, he pushed her. She landed on the floor with a thud and Jill’s heart nearly stopped, she squelched the urge to get up from the chair and help her..Mac lay on the floor…she had no idea what Sam might be up to….but she had a feeling that Jill was putting some sort of plan in motion….It had to be….she couldn’t be thinking of seducing Sam for any other reason, could she?…He walked back over to Jill….. “ leave her there…..I’ll go clean up…If she wants to join us, she’ll be able to see exactly where the party is….” He took off his jacket, placing it over the back of the chair next to the table. He loosened his tie, walking towards the bathroom…Jill smiled….the bastard was so horny, he apparently had forgotten about the gun in his jacket pocket. He smiled before closing the door…. “This better be worth it…..or I promise you…both of you are gonna pay….” He shut the door and Jill sprang to her feet, trying to be as quiet as possible. She grabbed the jacket, pulling out the gun in the pocket, tossing it to Mackenzie, who was now sitting upright on the floor…She walked over to her…crouching down… “Can you stand up?” she whispered…Mac nodded….and stood up slowly, her legs were a little stiff, and her wrists were throbbing.. “Help me….” Jill hissed, moving over to the table, throwing the bag of cash on the bed…..Mac took one end and together they pushed it in front of the door….the water from the shower was still running…they could hear Sam inside humming….

The table was firmly wedged against the door…The sound of police sirens could be heard outside, the yellow lights flashing inside the room…..The sound of water running inside stopped…Mac looked at Jill…..who smiled slightly at her….. “ It looks like Sam Browning is finally going to get what he deserves……” Sam began pounding at the bathroom door…a string of obscene words flying out of his mouth….Mac walked over to the bed and sat down….the sudden exertion had made her head swim….Jill had the same reaction…..and sat down next to her, trying to steady herself. She was surprised to feel Mac’s hand creep into hers….slowly at first…Jill tightened her fingers around the young girl’s…a sudden wave of tenderness coming over her…She looked down at her…her face bruised, her arms bloody…her hair in disarray….She smiled…reaching her hand up to touch the unbruised side of her face……Mac smiled, wincing only slightly from the pain of her swollen eye….. “Thank you……” she whispered….she couldn’t think of anything else to say….Jill shook her head…tears suddenly springing to her eyes…. “Thank you…Mackenzie….”

“Mac?…..Mom?….Are you in there?….Mom?”…Billy’s voice came through the door…he could hear a man’s voice inside, screaming bloody murder…Jill rose to her feet and walked over to the door, unlocking it with the key…She opened it…Billy stood before her, a small cut over his left eye…. “ Mom?…Mom are you okay…Where’s..?” She nodded and stepped aside…Billy entered, spotting Mac sitting on the bed….She turned to look up at him….his stomach turned at the sight of her face, bloody and bruised..He approached her slowly..She sprang up from the bed, grabbing him around his neck….He couldn’t speak….he just grabbed her and hung on…looking at his mother over her shoulder….The police entered, pushing the table away from the bathroom door…Sam was cowering against the wall, crouching behind the toilet…holding his hands in the air, begging for mercy. They stood him upright, reading him his rights and leading him away in handcuffs…. Billy stood in front of him, looking him straight in the eye….. “Big tough man….like to beat on women?….You should be real popular where you’re going…” He punched him hard, right in the ribs….causing his knees to buckle…. “ You’re in trouble now…big shot…” he managed to gasp….. “ I didn’t see anything, did you?” one of the officers who held his arms asked the other, who shook his head….They dragged him outside, throwing him into a squad car, tires screeching as they pulled away.

Detectives Logan and Kincaid entered soon after…..Mac and Jill gave their statements…The sun was just beginning to rise when they were finally free to leave…John had driven Jill back to the Abbott house, she would stay there until she decided where she wanted to live permanently..Billy and Mac had finally reached their apartment, Mac assuring the paramedics who had been on scene that she was fine…her wrists now wore matching bandages…They had gone to her grandmother’s….and after a joyous reunion with her son, and after assuring her overjoyed grandmother and father that she was indeed fine, they had gathered up their son and gone home. Sitting on the ugly sofa in the middle of the living room….too tired to move….heads together, fast asleep….Will in his carrier….asleep as well….


Billy stood on the ladder….. “ Now?” he asked….Mac shook her head, arms crossed…. “ No, Billy…..That red one is still crooked…..” He moved the ornament slightly…. “Perfect!” she cried…. “Don’t touch it!….Now, get down here and look!” He shook his head, smiling as he climbed down the ladder, pulling it away when he reached the floor…It was Christmas Eve…..and Mac had been running herself ragged, trying to get everything done..

In the two months that had passed since that night, a lot had happened…For a change most of it had been good. They had moved to a bigger apartment in the same building, Mac going along with it only because she was earning money herself again….The campaign had been launched with great success…..The response had been overwhelming…especially to the Christmas campaign….Mackenzie and Will had won..the vote hadn’t even been close….Mac suspected that Billy had something to do with that, but was proud nevertheless…Jill and Mac had come to a sort of understanding after that night…They would never be best friends, but a mutual respect had developed, and things were definitely easier. The whole family was coming over tonight….and Mac had insisted on doing everything herself. Billy was having a fine time watching her, dressed in a deep green velvet dress..her hair shining and straight..bustling around making certain that everything was the way she wanted it.

He stood back, watching her…she was still looking at the tree they had just finished decorating….. “So?” she said, stepping back a little….. “So?” he answered, coming up behind her to wrap his arms around her waist…. “Whaddya think?….I think it’s the most beautiful tree ever….but I’m prejudiced….” He nodded…leaning in to kiss her neck…still sweet with vanilla….she might be working for Jabot, but she hadn’t given up her own unique scent, Billy had insisted on that… “ I’m prejudiced too….but I have to agree…..We couldn’t have anything else for our first Christmas together…..” He brought one hand up in front of her face, it held a small box tied with a gold ribbon….. “ I thought that you should open this now…..before everyone else gets here….start Christmas a little early….” She took the box, turning around to kiss his cheek…. “What did you do?” she asked, smiling…. “ Open it and see…..just one of many gifts to come, I assure you….” She pulled the ribbon loose and opened the box….. nestled in the lining of the box was a small gold charm. Since Betty had given her the charm bracelet this summer, Billy had picked up the idea, adding a charm for Will’s birth, a small gold baby shoe inscribed with his name and birthdaty. This charm was a small gold Christmas tree….inscribed with the date….the back read… “For Mackenzie….the reason for everything I do….all my love always, Billy..” She looked at him, holding the charm up to the lights of the tree…it had small diamonds on it to represent lights…they twinkled against the tree lights.. “You like it?” he asked. She could only nod in reply… “Betty doesn’t know what she started…..That bracelet is gonna get pretty full, pretty soon…..” He took the charm and unclasped the bracelet from her wrist, sliding the charm over the end and fastening it on her wrist again. “ Happy first Christmas, Mackenzie…..” He took her hand and brought it to his lips….. “ Happy first Christmas, Billy…..” She touched his face and brought her lips to his…knowing that for the rest of their lives….every day would be like this…..not just Christmas……


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

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