Phyllis sat up slowly as she glanced at the clock on the nightstand. The whole point of getting a room at the Club had been to get back some semblance of a schedule. Summer was constantly up late into the night working on school work, hanging out with friends from college, or video chatting with people she'd met on her tropical summer vacation. She didn't blame her. It was her apartment after all. She just needed some space…and some sleep.
But what fresh hell was this?
She sighed as she drug her legs over the side of the bed, shaking her head in frustration as the incessant knocking continued. "Just a minute," she hissed, grabbing her robe and throwing it on.
"Paul." Her heart immediately dropped. "Summer. Is Summer okay?"
Paul shook his head, holding up his head to stop her barrage of questions. "Summer's fine. This isn't about Summer. Everyone's okay."
Phyllis stepped to the side, looking for a face to go with the familiar voice. "Noah?"
Noah stood behind Paul, his hands clenched in fists. One look at him and she could tell something was very wrong.
"Noah, what is it? What's the matter?"
"It's Marissa," he managed, his voice shaky, his eyes already pleading with her. "She's in danger and I think you might be the only one who can save her."
She handed him a bottle of water as she took a seat on the end of the bed. "I'd make some coffee," she offered, "but I honestly don't think you need any."
Noah shook his head, looking up at her again. "Please," he said quietly.
Phyllis glanced over at Paul. "I don't understand," she whispered. "How can I help you?"
Paul slid the chair closer to the bed, taking in a slow deep breath before beginning to speak." Though he agreed Phyllis was perhaps the best chance, this was a request he hated making. "Noah received a phone call today. It was from Marissa."
"That's good, right?" Phyllis looked back over to Noah. "Your Dad told me that the two of you were separated. Are you two trying to work things out?" She glanced back over at Paul when she didn't receive a response.
He continued. "When he answered, it wasn't Marissa's voice. Someone had her phone—someone that was threatening to hurt her, threatening to do horrible things.."
Noah's voice shook as he interrupted. "He said he'd do horrible things, that he'd torture her, that he'd…." He broke for a moment before taking in a breath and looking up again, "That he'd kill her."
Phyllis' eyes widened. "Who? Who said that?"
Paul looked at her, his eyes already apologizing, "Marco".
His hand groped through the darkness to find his phone, his heart already pounding in his chest. It was a strange rite of passing, he figured—the moment a phone ringing in the middle of the night no longer exhilarates you with the promise of a raging party but rather strikes fear into your heart as you mentally wonder where your family is.
A cursory wipe of his eyes cleared his vision enough to see the name flashing across the screen, but he wiped his eyes a second time to ensure he wasn't dreaming.
Relief—just in the sound of his voice. She closed her eyes as she felt some of the tension leave her. "Billy," she breathed. "Did I wake you?" Her eyes clenched tight as she heard the absurdity of the question. "Of course I woke you," she whispered, "It's the middle of the night. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have called. I…"
"Phyllis…Phyllis…It's okay." He was already sitting up, his mind completely clear. He'd always known her better than she knew herself and even in the little she'd said, he could hear it in her voice—the stress, the trepidation, "Phyllis," he repeated, "Are you alright?"
It was such a simple question, a question people ask you all the time. It was a question she'd probably been asked ten or more times that day and each time she'd been fine. This time however it was different—it was different because this time, the person asking really wanted to know. "I don't know," she whispered, the honesty in her words frightening her.
"Where are you?"
"The club," she said quietly. "Do you think maybe you could…" She stopped herself. She shouldn't do this—shouldn't ask him—not after everything she'd put him through.
Billy buttoned up his shirt having already pulled on his jeans. "If you need me, I'm there," he said simply. The struggle in her voice was evident. She was the strongest woman in the world to everyone else, but she didn't have to be strong with him. "You don't always have to take on everything alone you know." He waited, expecting her to protest, to argue, to say something. Instead he heard her shaky breath and he knew whatever had led her to call him that night was something deep enough to shake her to her core.
"Why did you call me?" Immediately, he heard her shaky breathing stop, the question surprising her. Or maybe it wasn't the question at all, maybe it was the answer.
She swallowed hard, "Because I need your help…because I need you." The words rushed from her mouth and she felt a bit lighter having said them.
"I'm on my way," Billy began to move the phone away from his ear but stopped as he heard her call his name.
"Can you just…I mean, would you mind just talking to me while you drive over? I'd just feel better if I could talk to you."
"Sure. Of course." Billy pulled the door closed behind him and carefully climbed into the car. This wasn't about a crisis of character. It wasn't about being lonely or a mid-life crisis. Phyllis wasn't calling him because she was drunk or bored or even feeling guilty about the way they'd ended things. This was entirely different. Phyllis was scared and, if she was scared, so was he.