"But it's not straight!" Alexandra said with an exasperated sigh. She glanced over at the young man who stood beside her. Even though he was likely older than her, she had no problem taking charge. This had been her idea and, under her watch, she'd make sure things were perfect.
"It may not be perfect, but…" he began.
"Then make it perfect. Please," she added, her voice curt but not unfriendly. She flashed a smile as she watched him obediently trudge off to correct the mistake.
"You are every bit your mother's daughter."
Alexandra turned around. "Hi, Uncle Jack," she smiled, wrapping her arms around him. "I'm so glad you could come."
"I wouldn't miss this." He looked around the room, his eyes widening in surprise. "Sweetheart, you planned all this yourself?"
She nodded as she looked around the room, enjoying the feeling of accomplishment.
Jack nodded. "I'm very impressed…especially knowing you've managed to keep all this a secret. That must have been tough…especially with your mother. I know she doesn't like feeling like she's not in on the joke."
Alexandra nodded. "Yeah, she was a bit tricky, but luckily she and Daddy are pretty busy with work right now, so both of them bought the story about planning the dance for homecoming. That gave me the perfect excuse to come down here and work on getting the food and decorations lined up, and since they've been working late some nights, I was able to sneak some photos from the albums without them knowing."
"Well, I certainly hope they know how lucky they are to have such a thoughtful daughter. Not too many 14 year old girls would spend their free time planning their parents an anniversary party."
"Well they should," she said quickly. "Especially if their parents are like mine. They've always put me first and I want them to know how much I appreciate everything they've done to make sure I had everything I needed…to make sure I had a good life."
"This should certainly do that," Jack remarked, still a little awestruck at the magnitude of the event the young girl in front of him had been able to pull off. He shouldn't be surprised though, he realized as he looked at her. Her attitude, her determination, her spunk—it was as if a young Phyllis stood right in front of him.
"Everyone else is coming right?" Alexandra said, a hint of concern in her voice.
Jack nodded. "Absolutely. Ashley, Abby, and Summer were all riding together and they left just after I did. Jill and Colin were flying in. I actually got a text from her about thirty minutes ago. They were just dropping their luggage off at the hotel and then they were heading over." He paused for a moment, trying to determine if he'd left anyone out. "What about Daniel, Lucy, and Avery…they making the trip out?"
Alexandra sighed. "Daniel is. Lucy has something going on that she absolutely can't miss." She rolled her eyes before shaking her head. She couldn't worry about that. "Aunt Avery is in the middle of a court case and I feel bad because she really wanted to come, but she's coming for Christmas this year, so at least we'll get to see her then."
Jack nodded. "That'll be nice. Do you need me to help you do anything while I'm here? Any last minute details?"
She thought for a moment, her brain rolling over the mental to do list. "I do need to check on the slideshow," she said, gesturing over to the laptop and screen. "I want to make sure all the pictures run through and show up on the screen okay. If you could just load them and check to make sure I don't need to reconfigure anything, that would be a great help."
Jack nodded, heading off to his assignment.
Alexandra stood back, surveying the beautifully decorated room that would soon be filled with family, friends and, most importantly, her precious parents.
She smiled as his warm hands touched her bare skin. "You have one job, Billy Abbott," she whispered, looking back at his reflection in the mirror. "Hook the necklace."
His lips brushed her neck as he snaked his arms around her waist and smiled back at her. "You can't blame a guy for trying," he whispered.
Phyllis turned around to face him. "I most certainly do blame you. We are supposed to meet your brother in.." She looked down at her watch… "thirty minutes…and that's only going to happen if there's no traffic." She reached up for a quick kiss. "Grab your coat. We've got to go."
Billy sat down on the bed, grabbing her arm and gently tugging her towards him.
She sighed as he pulled her onto his lap. One look at his face and she knew she couldn't be angry with him. His eyes were her weakness and he knew it. "Billy," she breathed, laughing softly, "We can't be late."
"We can be a little late…"
"No..No we can't. It's already awkward enough isn't it?"
Billy stilled. "I thought you were okay with things." He moved to look into her eyes. "Did he say something to you or do something? Because I'll talk to him…I really thought we were…"
"No..No..Nothing like that. It's just…I don't know. Without our anniversary coming up, it just feels weird that he wants to take us out to dinner, don't you think?"
Billy shrugged. "Maybe he wants to give us a gift or maybe he really does want to show us that he's really okay with everything now. You know Alexandra says he's seeing someone."
Phyllis brightened. "Really?" She stood, before turning back to Billy. "Wait a minute, how does our 14 year old daughter know that her uncle is seeing someone?"
"I don't know," he laughed. "Apparently they e-mail about life and stuff," Billy threw his hands up in mocking air quotes. "You know our daughter…she's a conversational wizard."
Phyllis smiled at the mention of Alexandra. At only 14, she could already see traces of an amazing young woman while still getting glimpses of the sweet little girl she cherished.
"Speaking of our daughter," Billy questioned, standing up and beginning to walk from the room and down the stairs alongside his wife. "She planning that dance again tonight?"
"Yeah…apparently tonight is the last night of setup though, so hopefully we can actually see her some after this."
Billy nodded in agreement. It might be strange to miss a teenage girl's presence in a house, but Alexandra wasn't your typical teenager. From the time she was born, they had never shielded her from reality. She knew the truth—even if it wasn't pretty. They didn't want to lie to her, not about how they became a family, not about why other people weren't around, not about anything. She got the honest truth, not the polite, kid-friendly version.
There were moments where he was fairly certain they'd both questioned that decision—fearing it would make her cynical or afraid to trust, but it had in fact created something entirely different. A bond had been formed within their family—a connection that none of them expected. Alexandra was the miracle they'd never imagined they'd be blessed and they gave her everything they had in return. They both promised her and each other that, no matter what happened, she'd never doubt how much they loved each other or how much they loved her.
"There he is," Phyllis pointed, taking Billy's hand as he helped her out of the car.
Jack stepped over quickly, glancing behind him to ensure nothing was in sight. "Hey you two…I was beginning to get a little worried."
"Sorry," Billy offered, "It's my fault. I couldn't decide on which shoes to wear."
Phyllis laughed nervously, standing aside as Jack hugged his brother and relaxing a little as he leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. "It's good to see you, Jack," she said softly.
"You too..I was glad to two were available tonight. I wasn't sure you would be…thought you might be off celebrating the big day."
Billy glanced over at Phyllis, not sure how she'd want him to respond. "Well, we've both been a little crazy with work lately and Aly's been busy with school, so we thought it might be nice to just spend some down time at home…celebrate that way..something simple."
Jack nodded. "Simple is always good, and that daughter of yours is certainly something to celebrate." He paused for a moment. "Why don't we head on inside..it's getting a little chilly out here tonight isn't it?"
Phyllis felt herself relaxing. Jack seemed totally normal. Maybe Billy was right…maybe this was about showing that he'd moved on. Jack opened the door and stepped aside for Billy and Phyllis to walk through. Billy stepped in, his body moving forward slowly before stopping. His head turned back towards her as he slowly pulled her closer to him, her eyes now able to take in the entire room.
The entire country club reception area was filled with white light, each table adorned with fresh flowers, the tables themselves filled with family and friends.
Phyllis stood still, her mouth slightly agape. She looked up at Billy, "Did you?"
He shook his head. "I didn't…I didn't know anything about this. I'd love to take credit for it, but.."
Jack stepped up behind them. "Actually," he whispered, "the credit goes to her."
Alexandra walked over slowly, her green eyes shimmering with tears just as her mother's did. "I wanted to do something special for the two of you," she said softly. "I know you've been busy with work and I knew you wouldn't really have time to plan anything for yourselves this year, so I put this together to thank you for always being there for me."
"I don't know what to say," Phyllis muttered, in absolute shock that anyone so amazingly kind and compassionate could come from her. She looked up at Billy. "I…"
Billy shook his head. "This is amazing," he whispered, leaning down to hug her, as he sniffed back tears of his own. "So…there's no homecoming dance? This is what you've been working on?"
Alexandra smiled. "Yeah…I've been coming down here to get everything lined up." She glanced between the two of them. "Do you like it?"
" sweetheart, it's beautiful…it's incredible. This is the best gift we could have ever asked for." Phyllis hugged her tight, kissing her cheek and gripping her shoulders. "You've done an amazing job."
"Oh, this isn't all of it," Aly exclaimed. "Your gift will come later." She nudged between them, grabbing each of their hands. "Come over here and sit down." She smiled broadly. "I'll show you."