No turning back
Hope Logan put her phone down on the coffee table and leaned back into the cool embrace of the leather armchair. There, she thought, it's done now. No turning back.
A light breeze blew in from the open balcony doors causing the wind chimes Liam had bought for her birthday to tinkle their pretty tune. Hope turned her large blue eyes toward the hazy expanse of LA sprawled out below her Hollywood Hills home. She felt sad but excited.
A little bit frightened too.
Her heart was beating quickly. She closed her eyes and tried to slow her breathing. She wanted to be calm when she talked to Liam and Wyatt. Calm and firm. Unless she could clearly explain to them why she was doing what she was doing she knew she had no chance of executing her plan.
But how could she explain it to them when she hardly knew herself?
Footsteps on the stairs broke her meditation.
Hope looked up to see her mother looking statuesque in a red figure-hugging dress. She looked amazing. But then, Brooke Logan always looked amazing. The strength and vitality that showed through every inch of her body though was not reflected in her face. Her fine, pretty features were crushed with concern.
Bill Spencer stood by her side, a possessive arm around her waist. His intense gaze was fixed on Hope as though he could change her mind through the sheer force of his will.
Hope closed her eyes again. She felt suddenly exhausted. The man who had tormented her for years, who had thrown her life into chaos, now loved her mother and lived in her family home. She could feel the anger that had been eating away at her for the last few months reaching boiling point…
Then Brooke spoke, soft, imploring words.
"Honey, please don't this. Please take a bit longer to think this through."
Hope could tell her mother was crying again. It was too much. Her chest felt heavy and hot tears began to form behind her closed lids.
"Listen to your mother Hope. Deacon Sharpe has nothing to offer you."
And there it was, exactly what she needed to restore her sense of calm and resolution. Hope took a slow, deliberate breath and opened her eyes. She looked at Bill square in the face. His gaze weakened, almost imperceptibly, but Hope noticed.
She would not take orders from this man. That was the only thing she knew for sure.
"Who was that?" Liam asked without looking up from the pile of Eye on Fashion proofs needing his approval.
Light filled every inch of Liam's office, streaming in through two large windows overlooking downtown L.A. Wyatt preferred the more subtle, more refined use of light at Forrester Creations. A visit to his half-brother at Spencer Publications invariably caused Wyatt a headache which, at least in part, he blamed on the brutal lighting.
After hanging up the phone Wyatt remained standing, his back to Liam, staring straight into the blinding light without flinching.
Hope's words hung in the air around him like an intoxicating perfume. He could see her perfect lips as she said the magic words. I need to see to you.
"That was my mother. She wants to see me."
More lies and half-truths, would he ever be able to escape them? He had no choice though. Liam would be suspicious if he knew it was Hope calling.
Liam looked up at Wyatt.
"Do you think that's a good idea?"
"She's my mother. What choice do I have?"
"I know, but…is she ready for it?"
Liam was right to be concerned. Quinn Fuller had a simple yet extremely dangerous philosophy on life. She would do anything for her son. Anything. But Wyatt couldn't help feeling irritated by Liam's questions. Hadn't he and his mother suffered enough?
Of course, Liam didn't know that Wyatt had already visited his mother, more than once, in the facility where she was being treated for her 'anxieties'.
But Hope said she wanted to see him. That meant she had made a decision. The truth could come out and Wyatt would be able to breathe again.
What else could her phone call mean?
"Are you ready for it?"
"Honestly?" Wyatt paused. "I don't know." Frowning, he pulled on his jacket. "But are we ever really ready for what the future holds?"
He could hardly look Liam in the eye as he said it.
"That's true." Liam was smiling. Wyatt could hear it in his voice. "Hey, you know you can call me, afterwards, to talk or whatever."
Wyatt looked at Liam. He wondered how it was that he could both admire and despise his brother's good nature in equal measure.
"Thanks. It means a lot."
"Well, you mean a lot," Liam paused, "to Hope and to me."
They hugged briefly and Wyatt left, casting a nervous glance at their father's closed door as he passed along the corridor. Only once he was alone in the dimly lit elevator did he begin to feel like himself again.
Hope rose from the couch and began collecting her things. There was so much she wanted to say to Bill but what would be the point? If the past few months had taught her anything it was that Bill Spencer would never change. He might love her mother, he might have accepted her relationship with Liam, but he hadn't changed.
He just wanted different things.
Bill treated those he loved the same as his enemies, manipulating and lying to them to get what he wanted. Hope felt she was the only one who could see this. Or the only one who cared anyway.
With her bag slung over her shoulder she turned to say goodbye to her mother.
Brooke moved towards her tentatively, her tanned arms outstretched, ready to grasp Hope.
Hope stepped forward quickly and took her mother's hands in her own, pulling them down to avoid an embrace. She could feel Bill's engagement ring digging into her palm. She knew he was watching them from across the room.
"Mom, you have to trust me. This is something I have to do. I've made a mess of things with Liam and Wyatt…"
"You're confused, I understand, but I don't see how Deacon can help with this decision."
"No, I need to make this decision on my own. No one else can make it for me," she glared at Bill, "not this time."
Brooke turned to Bill but he remained silent and stony-faced.
"Why leave town? Why go with Deacon?" she asked, exasperated.
"Because I need to clear my head. And Deacon's my dad and I…I hardly know him." This still sounded strange. Deacon is my dad. Hope felt her resolve weakening. She needed to get out of the house, quickly. "Maybe getting to know Deacon will help me figure out what I want."
Brooke looked at her daughter, her eyes searching for something.
Hope was worried her mother could tell how scared she was, scared that she was making a mistake. But she had told her the truth and if leaving was a mistake then it was one she had to make.
Finally Brooke swept the long strands of honey blonde hair back from Hope's face and in a thin voice, only just holding back tears, she whispered, "Alright. I trust you."
Hope allowed herself to be pulled in to her mother's warm embrace.
"Thank you Mom."
However hard it was to accept her mother's choices in life, especially when it came to men, Hope found it impossible to resist her boundless love and forgiveness. When Hope looked up though her eyes met Bill's and she pulled herself free.
"I have to go…Wyatt's expecting me."
"We'll see you tonight then honey."
Hope gave her mother a quick, almost apologetic, smile and pulled the door shut behind her.
The moment Hope stepped outside she felt better, lighter. She took a deep breath. Her legs were shaky but the sun felt good on her skin and the air smelled sweetly of blossoming flowers. She was making the right decision. She couldn't spend another night in that house with him.
"Wait a second."
That voice. It made her blood run cold.
Hope turned. "If it's more fatherly advice Bill, you can save it. I have more fathers than one girl could possibly need."
"Very funny. Listen, you might think you know Deacon Sharpe, but you don't. He's a loser, nothing but trouble."
"Nothing but trouble? You know, I could say the same thing about you Bill and yet here you are, living in my house."
Hope turned to leave, furious with Bill and even more so with herself for letting him get to her.
Bill grabbed her wrist, spinning her around.
"This is your mother's house and she has chosen to share it with me. You're going to have to deal with that."
Hope stared straight into his steely black eyes.
"You always get what you want, right Bill? No matter who you have to hurt? Well not this time."
Bill released her arm and took a step back.
"Take my advice, it's for your own good. Don't trust Deacon Sharpe."
Hope turned and walked away.
"Be good to my mother Bill. She deserves a lot better than you."
After a few steps Hope reached her car. She cast a nervous glance back over her shoulder but Bill had returned to the house. Opening the door she looked at her packed bags strewn across the back seat.
No turning back now.
Brooke was rummaging through her handbag when Bill returned. She looked up when she heard the door, her face twisted with anxiety.
"It was worth a try."
Brooke nodded and returned to her bag. Bill strode over and began stroking her back but Brooke flinched at his touch. Finally she fished her car keys out.
"Heading to Forrester?"
"I need to tell them about Hope's plans. We'll need to make provisions for her line if she's…"
Brooke stopped. It was only last night that Hope had told her about her feelings for Wyatt and Deacon's suggestion that he and Hope take a road trip together. Bill had assured Brooke that Hope would not go through with it, that she was just confused because of what had happened with Wyatt and that she would never do something so hurtful to Brooke. But in the morning Hope had made up her mind.
She said she wanted to spend some time with her father.
"I guess I should have seen this coming. Of course she wants to know more about him." She turned to Bill, hoping he would say something that would make her feel better.
"She knows everything she needs to know about Deacon. He'll only hurt her."
Brooke frowned and looked away. Why didn't Bill's words make her feel any better, any less confused? It was something Hope had said last night…
"Maybe if she'd always known the truth about him it wouldn't have come to this."
"You did the right thing Brooke, keeping her away from Deacon. He's not fit to be a father."
"Isn't that what Quinn said about you?"
It was out of her mouth before she had time to think.
Bill looked as if Brooke had slapped him. But, as always, he was quick to recover his composure.
"You're no Quinn Fuller. And I'm no Deacon Sharpe. The man's a criminal."
But Hope's words kept playing in Brooke's head, refusing to be silenced.
Is Bill any better than Deacon?
He just never got caught.
By the time Wyatt reached his house his confidence was beginning to wane. He didn't doubt that Hope loved him but he also knew she loved Liam. That she was genuinely torn between the two of them was painfully clear. Wyatt had the troubling feeling that none of them would be happy, whatever decision was made. It was like a premonition, an awful premonition.
Wyatt turned. When he saw her all his doubts, all the conflict inside him, vanished. He knew exactly what he wanted. It was her, Hope. He had wanted her from the first moment he saw her.
Hope walked in and put her bag down on the couch. Wyatt watched every move she made. He often wondered if it was growing up in the shadow of Brooke Logan that made Hope so unassuming about her own beauty.
She stood next to Wyatt, not facing him, their bodies almost touching. She looked distracted.
"We need to talk…" Wyatt ventured, more as a question than a statement. Hope's silence was making him nervous.
"We do." Hope turned to face him but still would not meet his eyes.
Wyatt reached out and touched her face gently. She closed her eyes and leaned in to his hand as if she might kiss it.
"Wyatt, I can't…" She took a step back and looked up at him, almost angrily. "I can't do what you want me to."
"I would never want you to do something you don't want to do."
"That's not what I…it's not that simple, you know that. I love Liam too…" she trailed off, as if tired of arguing.
"I know you do. But Hope, loving him is a habit, one that's caused you so much pain." Wyatt implored. "Maybe loving him isn't enough."
Hope looked at him and again he was struck by what seemed like anger in her eyes.
"I can't bear the thought of hurting him and I don't believe you can either."
There was such resolution in her voice. Wyatt was overcome with a feeling of hopelessness.
His premonition was coming true.
Rick Forrester was at his desk when Brooke entered. He looked up and smiled when he heard her come in. She smiled back but quickly turned to shut the door so he wouldn't see that she had been crying.
Brooke loved to watch Rick at work. Her son, so confidant, looking so handsome in his suit. He reminded her so much of his father. Seeing him made her feel momentarily better.
"Hey Mom. Have you seen Hope? Is she in yet?"
Brooke didn't answer. Instead she sat down at the Forrester meeting table, distractedly fidgeting with her engagement ring.
"I really want her to have a look at these designs…Mom? What's wrong?"
Brooke couldn't find the words to tell him. She couldn't even face him. Any mention of Deacon made her feel faint, as if she were falling in a dream.
Rick knelt down beside her.
"Mom, talk to me. Did Bill do something?"
"No honey…its Hope."
"What happened? Is Hope okay?"
Brooke reached out and took his hand.
"She's okay. But she needs to take some time off work."
Rick stood up, looking confused and a little irritated.
"Now? What's going on Mom? It's not good timing…"
Brooke let go of his hand and began anxiously to twist her ring around her finger. Rick pulled up a chair and sat down. After a moment, seeing her nervousness, he gently put his hand over hers.
"You know that Hope has been spending time with her…with Deacon?"
"Right. I can't say that I approve but I guess we have to trust her judgement. Is that all this is about?" Rick was smiling again, thinking that his mother was just upset that Deacon was back in L.A.
"Deacon asked Hope to go away with him for a while, on a road trip."
Rick was still smiling.
"But Mom, Hope would never agree to that! All her family's here, Liam, her job. I know it must be hard with Deacon back…"
"She said yes Rick."
Rick frowned and leaned back in his chair. He didn't say anything. A sudden, awful thought occurred to Brooke.
He blames me. She's his little sister and he blames me.
But when Rick finally spoke she could detect no resentment or blame, just bewilderment.
"But why, why would she do that? Why now?"
"Liam's been pressuring her about the wedding. He wants to get married as soon as possible…and Hope's been working closely again with Wyatt…"
"Are you saying something happened between them?"
Rick groaned and stood up, walking back to his desk.
"This is bad for the company Mom, all this…back and forth. It's bad for Hope's line."
"I agree. It's bad for Hope too…and Liam and Wyatt."
"And what about you? Doesn't she realise how much this will hurt you?"
Fresh tears rolled down Brooke's cheeks. Her son, always so kind and loyal.
Rick took a tissue from the box on his desk and handed it to Brooke.
"Thank you honey…"
He knelt down beside her again and put his hand on her shoulder. Seeing his mother's distress his anger disappeared.
"I'll have a talk to her when she comes in. It'll be okay."
Brooke smiled at her son. Her eyes were still full of tears but for the first time since last night she felt safe again.
"Would you Rick? She seems so determined. But maybe you can get through to her."
"Of course. She needs to know that she can't just run away from her problems."
"I don't want to hurt Liam either but we can't deny the fact we're in love with each other."
Wyatt could hear the desperation in his voice but he knew that now was not the time to play it cool. There was a distance in Hope that he had never felt before. He had to reach her, before it was too late.
"We were destined to meet that day in the woods, remember? We belong to each other Hope. What choice do we have but to tell Liam the truth?"
Hope had been staring into space but all of a sudden she turned to Wyatt with a rapt expression.
"You're right." she said, her voice full of conviction, no longer angry. "I have to tell Liam the truth."
For a moment he thought he could feel her love again.
"We'll tell him together. You don't need to do this alone…"
"No, that's not what I…" She looked away again. He was losing her.
"You said what choice do we have…but this is my decision, Wyatt. And I can't do it. It's tearing me up inside." She wasn't angry now. Her face, usually so ready to smile, showed only torment and sadness. Wyatt's heart sank.
"Deacon has asked to me to spend some time with him…"
Wyatt looked confused.
"Some time away from all this. Away from here." She looked down so her eyes wouldn't meet his. "Wyatt…I'm leaving L.A."
Liam didn't need to look up to know that it was his father who had had just walked into his office. Only Bill Spencer would enter without knocking. Liam smiled.
"I know, I'm almost done…"
"Did I say anything? I knew you would be." Bill walked in and looked over Liam's shoulder, inspecting his work.
"I'm guessing that generous attitude means things are better between you and Brooke?"
Bill didn't answer. He sat down in the chair opposite Liam, watching him as if he getting ready to speak.
Liam knew that Bill didn't do anything without a reason, and that included visiting his son. He knew he had to play along, that he had to behave as if Bill wasn't acting strangely and eventually he would tell Liam what was on his mind.
"So, have you seen my beautiful bride-to-be this morning?"
"She must be at work now. I should see if she wants to have lunch…"
Liam took out his phone and began to txt Hope but Bill interrupted.
"You haven't got 5 minutes for your old man? C'mon, put that thing away."
Liam laughed and put his phone back on the desk.
"Alright old man, you got 5 minutes. What's on your mind?"
But before Bill had a chance to speak, Liam's phone rang and a photo of Hope, smiling and bright-eyed, flashed on the screen. Seeing her, Bill was reminded of the last thing she said to him.
Be good to my mother. She deserves a lot better than you.
"Sorry Dad, one second…Hey, I was just thinking about my beautiful fiancé and here you are calling…"
Bill cleared his throat. It was all he could do not to roll his eyes.
Liam stood up and walked away from his desk.
"Yeah, is everything okay?"
His tone had changed completely. All the self-assurance was gone in an instant.
And so it begins, thought Bill, and all this over what, Deacon Sharpe?
"Sure, I can meet you there in half an hour." Liam put his phone back in his pocket but remained standing. He seemed lost in thought.
"Yeah sorry…I have to meet Hope."
Bill gestured at Liam's desk. "Get Allison to finish it up for you." He stood up and started to leave but Liam still hadn't moved. "Something wrong?"
"I don't know…Hope sounded weird, upset."
"Probably just a problem with the dress. You know what planning a wedding is like."
"Yeah…you're probably right."
For a moment Bill considered telling Liam what he knew, about Hope's plans, about what had happened between her and Wyatt. But what good would it do? He would find out soon enough.
"You go on, I'll speak to Allison."
"Thanks Dad. I'll be back as soon as I can."
Hope put her phone down on the table. She could feel Wyatt's eyes on her. If she turned around she would see the pain on his face and it might be more than she could bear.
"That's it? We can't even talk about it?"
"There's not much to say. Whatever I decide, one of you is going to get hurt. How can I be happy knowing that?"
"So you just leave? That's your solution, we should all be miserable?"
"This isn't just about you and Liam. I barely know Deacon. Shouldn't I get to know my father before I choose the man I'm going to spend the rest of my life with?"
It suddenly occurred to Wyatt that she wasn't defending her decision to him but rather asking him for confirmation that it was the right decision. She trusted him. He wondered how different her conversation with Liam would be.
"You know that I grew up not knowing my father either."
Hope took his hand and looked at him earnestly.
"I know. That's why it's important that you understand. Please say you do Wyatt."
She wasn't choosing Liam. Wyatt had to hold onto that fact no matter how much her leaving hurt.
"I guess do…I understand."
"Thank you Wyatt."
Hope embraced him and he could feel her body relaxing in his arms. He pulled her close.
"However long you need. You know you can always count on me."
Bill found Brooke in Rick's office at Forrester Creations. She was alone, looking at a photo on Rick's desk of Rick and Hope when they were young.
Brooke looked up, startled.
"No…but I wasn't expecting to hear anything. I suppose Hope's still talking to Wyatt."
"I just saw Liam. Hope called while I was there."
"And she doesn't muck around your daughter, when she sets her mind to something."
"I suppose you approve of that?"
"I would if she was actually making a decision. But she's not. She needs to pick one and put the other one out of their misery."
Brooke groaned at Bill's choice of words.
"It's not that simple Bill. And it's not as if this is all Hope's fault either. You, of all people, should know that."
"I do, and I regret my actions in the past. I underestimated what she and Liam had…but running away with Deacon Sharpe isn't the answer."
"Well, at least we can agree on that."
Hope pulled up out the front of Liam's beach house. He hadn't arrived yet so she turned off the engine and sat, listening to sound of the waves crashing against the shore.
This was where she and Liam would have lived once they were married. This was where they would have started their life together. A life she had fought hard to have. She had never felt like this was her home though. Not yet. It was always something she was looking forward to, a reward at the end of so much heartache.
Now it was hers for the taking and she found herself hesitating.
Wyatt said that she had fought for this happy ending for so long she couldn't see that it wasn't the only one out there. It was true that Wyatt made her very happy, true that he loved her unreservedly. But Hope knew that loving Liam was more than a habit. She wasn't ready to give up on the life they had dreamed of, not yet.
But once Liam heard what she had to say he might and Hope couldn't blame him if he did. She had to take the chance though, even if she regretted it. Her feelings for Wyatt were too strong to ignore.
It was a risk she had to take.
Liam pulled up behind Hope's car. She was standing on the porch even though she had a key to the house.
He remembered seeing her for the first time. She was still that bright-eyed young woman who cared passionately about other people and the world around her. But something had changed. What was it? She was more confident, but seemed less sure of herself. There were sides to her that surprised him, things about her he couldn't predict. It was as though he didn't know her, not the way he had before.
He missed the way she was. No, that wasn't it. He missed her absolute faith in them as a couple.
That's what had changed.
"You sounded pretty serious on the phone."
"I know, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you."
She didn't sound any less serious though. Liam took out his keys and turned to open the door but Hope stopped him.
"Let's stay out here. It's such a beautiful day."
She took his hand and walked around the side of the house towards the sea. Liam's heart was heavy with dread.
After a few steps he stopped.
"Hope, what's going on?"
She looked out towards the horizon in silence before answering him.
"I can't marry you Liam," she said quietly, "not right now." She turned to face him, her eyes twinkling with tears. "I've decided to leave L.A. for a while…and I, I don't know when I'll be back."
"What?" He moved towards her. "Hope, I know I've been pressuring you about the wedding but it's just that…"
"It's not that. If I was sure I would marry you right here and now."
Liam felt light-headed.
"But you're not sure?"
Hope shook her head silently, tears rolling down her cheeks.
Liam's face darkened.
"It's Wyatt, isn't it?"
Hope stepped forward and took his hands in hers.
"Please believe me, I never meant to hurt you."
Liam staggered back, pulling his hands free.
Liam turned to her, his eyes filled with anger.
"We kissed, that's all."
He couldn't believe what she was saying. Her words crashed in his mind like waves on the shore below.
"But that's not all, is it? You're in love with him."
Hope wiped her face and let the question hang in there between them.
"I love you too."
"But you're leaving with Wyatt?"
"No, Liam that's not what I'm doing. Deacon asked me to go away with him. I want to know more about him, meet his family, my family…"
"Yesterday, Hope, yesterday we were getting married and today you're leaving town?"
"I need time…or space, I don't know. I need to find out what it is that I want."
"And I'm supposed to just wait? Just keep waiting for this to work out for us?"
"I hope that you will. But I know I can't ask you for that."
Liam looked out to sea. She was right. It was a beautiful day. It filled his heart with sadness.
"This was our time, you know. No one could have stopped us this time."
Hope walked over to him and took his hand in hers.
"I wish things were different Liam. I wish I felt differently…but I have to be sure."
Liam turned her hand over in his.
"You're still wearing you're engagement ring."
Hope took his hand and kissed it.
"I love you. Please remember that.