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* * * * *

Billy broke free of his drunken stupor long enough to catch the message
Sheryl left on his machine. Alex was talking again. He wished he were sober
enough to wonder if it was good news or bad.

The realization and then her confirmation that she'd been with other
men had blown him away. He'd worked so hard to make Alex his own.
He'd loved her fiercely in order for her to want no other but him.
It hadn't worked. He realized she would always be attracted to others.
And just like Adam she might come home to him, but he ached for more.
She had to belong, physically and emotionally, to him alone before he
could ever reveal the first time he had taken her.

* * * * *

He saw only her as he entered the restaurant. She was sitting alone at
a small table. The maitre 'd approached to lead him toward a table. He
indicated the one where she sat.

The older man had been given strict orders that the young woman not be
disturbed. She'd just been divorced, and he'd seen the loneliness of her
eyes when he'd seated her. The maitre 'd had been thrilled when she'd spoken
to him politely. Her Australian accent had charmed him completely. He
couldn't wait until he could tell his wife and children that he had personally
seated Alexandria Abernathy.

"I'm afraid she has asked not to be disturbed." Adam was told as he was
led away from the small table. He waited until his soda had been brought.
Then he caught her eye. Her eyes danced but her expression didn't change.
She stared at him as if seeing him for the first time.

Knowing that he might get kicked out, he approached her table anyway.
When the maitre 'd saw him sit down without any trouble from Alexandria,
he left it alone.

Adam cast his hazel eyes over the woman that he'd grown up with. The
woman that he'd thought had been lost to him when her mother uprooted her
from Sydney. And now she was sitting next to him in this small elegant
restaurant in the heart of Beverly Hills. He was there to meet with a
prospective agent. It would be almost an hour before his meeting began.

Alexandria felt her heart beat frantically. After all the time that had
passed since she'd last seen him too much had happened. A child had been
born that she'd had to place in a foster home. A marriage that had self-
destructed. And now the one man in the entire world who could make her blood
race and her head spin was reaching over to touch her hand. But it seemed too
late for any rekindling of the love they'd once had. She was no longer
fifteen. Still a teenager, her emotions held so much maturity.

"You look beautiful," he told her.

She avoided those gorgeous hazel eyes. Afraid that he could see into
her heart. As she spoke, she kept her voice from shaking.

"I was just finishing."

"No hello, how are you? Alex, it's been a long time."

"I'm sorry, Adam, but I have an appointment for a facial." Alex stood.

He noticed how slim and sleek she was. He wanted to kiss her, to hold
her, to touch her cheek. "I'm in the States now. Maybe we could get

Alex decided to keep the ball in her court. "Where are you staying?"

"I'm at the Beverly Hills Hotel." Adam gave her his room number.

"I'll get in touch with you." Then as an after thought so he wouldn't
get his hopes up, she added, "If I find that I have some free time on my
hands." With that she had left.

Adam felt like a castaway as she quickly left the establishment. He
wouldn't know until years later that as soon as she hit the sidewalk and
put on her sunglasses, tears fell violently from her eyes. A knife stabbed
into her heart, and she felt as if she'd plunged one into Adam's.

* * * * *

Billy had gone to his favorite shops in the Village. He could always
find the clothes he liked there. It seemed as if he'd been away from
the area for eons. On the way back toward the apartment, he stopped at
the local fruit stand and picked out some apples and bananas. He was
looking forward to spending the afternoon munching on the fruit and playing
some tunes on the keyboard.

He saw her just after he'd stepped off the elevator. She was sitting
cross-legged on the floor with her back against the wall.

"Alex," he whispered as he neared her. She looked up suddenly. It
had been a long wait, and she'd tried hard not to doze off in the hallway.
"What the hell are you doing here?" He helped her to stand.

"Need you."

She looked exhausted. Not as thin as she had been but still weak.
He carried her bag into the apartment as he settled her into the nearest
chair. While he was putting the fruit and his clothes away, Alex fell

Billy watched her for quite some time. Part of him was glad that
she had come. The other part of him wanted to scream obscenities at her
and throw her out on the street. He struggled to maintain some sort
of balance within himself. Before she opened her eyes he found himself
speaking to her in a low voice.

"I wish you could understand the depth of my love for you, Lady.
If I knew that I'd be emotionally able to do it, I'd keep you close to
me forever. I'd do anything for you."

He brushed some stray strands of hair away from her lashes. She
smiled at his touch and looked up at him. It only took her a second
to spot something amiss. He was staring at her more seriously than
ever before. If she didn't know better she would have felt frightened.

As he broke his gaze and went about his business, Alex sat frozen
to the leather chair. It had been wrong to come to New York.
Wrong for her to believe that Billy still wanted her in his life.
God, where was her voice! She wanted to stand up and scream at
him. Wanted to feel that passion once again. How did she ever let
herself become so emotionally unstable? The answer startled her.
She'd allowed the rapist to win. He'd stolen all of her strength
that long ago New Years day. As Alex internally sobbed for what she'd
thrown away she vowed that from that time on she'd be strong for
herself and no other.

"Alex," it was Billy. She focused her eyes. He was holding a
cocktail glass in front of her. "Thought you'd like a drink."

She'd been dry for long enough, she decided as she took it from him.
Alex swished the amber liquid around for a moment before putting it to
her lips and taking a sip.

Billy felt a twinge of guilt as he watched her swallow the brandy.
He knew it was probably against doctor's orders. But he needed a drink,
and he wouldn’t drink alone.

"We going to sit here all night?" she croaked to him. "Like we're
strangers?" He couldn't answer her. "I thought you'd be glad to see
me. I was wrong." Her eyes penetrated his for what seemed hours.
Alex pushed herself up as best as she could. "I'll go."

"No!" The sound of his voice startled even him. "You can't go."

"Why not?"

"I love you."

"Funny way to show it, Tyrone." Then before she knew it, his lips
were on hers. The kiss began to drain her of any strength the liquor
had given her. He felt her legs start to buckle and held her close.

He broke away long enough to whisper in her ear, "I want you to
move in with me." Alex knew that was the closest to a commitment she
would ever hear Billy make. She answered him with her kiss just as
he picked her up and began to carry her toward the bedroom.

* * * * *

Alex woke up to darkness. The house was quiet. She got up
and went looking for Billy. He was in the bedroom passed out.
Still in his clothes. Half on and half off the bed.

She sat down at the head of the bed and listened to the night.
If she had to, she decided, she could always have her child alone.
From deep within, she found what strength she had left. No
matter which man was the father of her child, she would love it.
It would have a brother and sisters. Instinctively, she touched
her abdomen.

"Dear God," she said aloud, "I've done so many stupid
things in my life. I don't know if this is one of them
or not. But I'll love this child as much as all the others
that have been lost to me."

Billy heard her voice through the booze and opened his
eyes. He continued to listen to her and let her believe that
he was still sleeping.

"I make a vow to you, my Lord, that whatever part of me
that man stole from me, I'll get it back somehow. I let him
steal my self-esteem. But only you, my Lord, know what he really
stole from me. No matter how or what I have to do, I'll make it
up through this child of mine. If no one wants to claim it,
that will be their loss. He or she will be mine only then.
When will love find me again, Lord? Has anyone really loved me?"

Billy heard her sniffling as if trying to keep from sobbing
again. He waited awhile before reaching over and touching
her. She jumped at his touch.

"Did you drown all your sorrows in a bottle of Jack
Daniels?" she sniffed at him.

"I had to go think, Alex," he slurred. "About you and
me and...the baby." …….

"That's it. I'm leaving until you can talk to me without
sounding like a drunken idiot." She got up. "Try to stop me
this time, and you'll regret it."

He let her leave as he laid back on the bed with a groan.
A few moments later he heard the door slam.

Alex raced the engine of the car and took off for the
city. She'd find a motel room until morning. Then she'd figure
out what to do.

Copyright © 2000 Wendy J. Littrell


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