Rick McPherson took a long look around the crowded room. This was one of his favorite things about traveling for business. He loved the simple pleasures of just sitting back and watching people. In his mind, he'd create their stories, amusing himself and passing the many hours he spent alone. Upscale establishments like this always provided a fresh crop of strangers, many of which were perfect candidates for his imaginary pasts. He watched as couples walked in arm in arm, as groups of friends greeted each other, as business associates pretended to make friendly chatter over dinner, and then he saw her.
She walked in with more confidence than most—even though she was alone. He watched as heads turned towards her and as eyes continued to follow her as she walked across the room. She wore a skin-tight red dress that showcased every spectacular curve of her body. He struggled, for the first time all evening, to create her story—mainly because his mind was busy trying to conjure up a believable reason why she'd walked in alone.
He smiled as he watched her take a seat at the table. She was seemingly unbothered by all the eyes fixated on her. He gestured to the bartender, beckoning him closer, "Hey," he whispered, pointing to the table where she sat, "What's her story?"
The bartender smiled, "Way too much to tell, friend," he sighed. "You're not even gonna be in town that long."
Rick laughed softly. "Fair enough—but uh..no one would be looking for my body in the morning, right? She's not crazy or anything?"
"I think she's the kind of crazy most guys like," he smiled before he returned to his duties and continued wiping down the bar.
Rick smiled as he looked over at her again. Maybe tonight he'd do a little more than make up stories. Maybe tonight he'd try to make something happen.
Phyllis slowly looked up from behind the wine list. "Can I help you with something?"
Rick flashed his most disarming grin. "I'm sorry—I didn't mean to stare, it's just I couldn't quite come up with the right words."
"The right words?" Phyllis allowed her eyes to slowly roam over his body. He was attractive in an obvious sort of way—tall, built, strong features—but it was his assertive nature that really intrigued her.
"Yeah, the right words to say that might make a woman like you give me a chance.." This wasn't something he did on every trip, but he certainly never took a long enough break to get too out of practice.
She crossed her legs and pursed her lips as she studied him closer. "Something tells me a man like you doesn't have any trouble getting chances with women."
"May I?" he asked, gesturing to the empty chair across from her.
"Of course," she said softly.
"To be honest, I saw you walk in a bit ago and I just knew I'd regret it if I didn't come over and say hello…at least take a shot."
"Well far be it for me to be the reason for your regrets." She gave him a slight smile as she held out her hand, "Phyllis Summers, and you are?"
He smiled brighter, taking her hand and giving it a slight squeeze in lieu of a shake, "Rick McPherson," he said with renewed confidence.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. McPherson. I'm not sure I've ever seen you here before. Are you new in town?"
"Just here on business actually—had a couple of quick meetings and then I'm headed back home." He stopped talking as the waiter approached the table. Leaning back in his chair, he watched her, impressed by her confidence as she ordered from the wine list. Most women he wooed would have gladly slid the wine list across the table for him to make the choice, but she chose for herself without so much as a glance his way.
When the waiter walked away, she looked over at him. "So," she said softly, "Where's home?"
"Sorry?" he asked, already forgetting their conversation from earlier.
"You said you were heading home after meetings…where's home?"
"Oh..Canada, Toronto, to be more specific. I'm a sports promoter."
Phyllis nodded. "I don't know much about sports. I'm afraid I've never been particularly athletic."
"You certainly wouldn't know it to look at you." The words were out of his mouth before he had a chance to think and closed his eyes regretfully as he nodded at the waiter who placed the wine on the table. "I hope that didn't sound too forward."
"I don't mind," she purred, slowly pouring herself a glass of wine. She then looked over at him, her eyes flashing as she lifted the bottle, "Would you care for a glass?"
"I'd be a fool to turn down a good glass of wine with a beautiful woman." His eyes met hers as he watched her fill his glass.
"What should we drink to?" She found herself watching him, the fact that he watched her so intently proving even more vexing.
"To you, of course." His voice was smooth as he leaned across the table, "and to nights that surprise us…in all the best ways."
She drew in a quick breath as she removed the lime wedge from her mouth and slammed the empty shot glass on the bar. Her lips curved into a flirtatious smile as she batted her eyes at him.
"Alright," he smiled as he snaked his arm around her back, mindful of her slight unsteadiness as she adjusted her position on the bar stool. "My turn?" he asked, as he set up the shot and chaser, finishing it off with polished precision. He hissed, feeling the tequila burn as it trailed down his throat. "Set you up for another?" He raised his eyebrows as he looked at her.
"I don't think so," Phyllis sighed, "I've had enough since I'd really like to walk out of her on my own two feet tonight."
Rick chucked, his hand now lightly brushing the bare skin exposed by the low back of her dress. She leaned forward a bit, her body relaxing with each drink and he couldn't help but notice the black lace garment that seemed to peek out from under her dress.
"It is getting to be that hour, I suppose?" He whispered the words in her ear as he leaned closer to her, his breath tickling her bare shoulders.
She squirmed a bit as she smiled slyly. "It is. I really should be going."
"Can I call you a car?" He allowed his hand to drift closer to hers. Calling a car was the last thing he wanted to do, but he also had standards. He'd never pressured a woman into anything—he wasn't about to start now…even though she'd definitely more than peaked his interest.
"No need," Phyllis said softly, "I'm staying right here. I've actually got a suite upstairs."
"Well, how about that?" He brought his face close to hers, the smell of her perfume marrying with a hint of tequila and lime, "Can I walk you up to your room?"
It had been so long since she'd done something like this, something so seemingly reckless—especially with a virtual stranger. Still, looking at him now, he was incredibly attractive and they'd had a perfectly enjoyable evening. She'd talked and laughed and felt beautiful and desirable for the first time in months. Rick made her feel things she hadn't felt since….
Phyllis drew in a breath. Thinking about him wasn't going to change the things that had been said. It wasn't going to change the things that had been done. She was still alone, but she didn't have to stay that way…not tonight.
Her fingertips slowly toyed with the now loosened knot of his tie. "I think it's important that I have an escort," she whispered, "I'd hate to get lost on the way to my room."
"Don't you worry," he whispered, his arm wrapping around her as he helped her stand and pulled her body closer to his. "I'll show you the way."
She stirred at the sound of the door shutting.
Rick turned around, his face apologetic as he saw her eyes open and staring back at him. "Sorry," he whispered, "I didn't mean to wake you."
She winced as the light pained her eyes, clutching the sheets to her bare body. "It's alright," she said quietly. She paused, looking at the cart he'd wheeled into the room. "Are you actually eating?"
He laughed. "Hangover special." He pulled off the dome with flair. "Dry toast, seltzer, and two aspirin…hope you don't mind, I ordered for both of us."
"Not at all." She forced a weak smile as she rubbed her temples. "I uh…About last night…I don't usually do things like this…"
She heard his soft laughter and her eyes narrowed. "What?"
"Nothing, it's just..you certainly didn't seem out of practice to me." He leaned in, pressing his lips to hers, "And I mean that as a compliment."
Blood rushed to her cheeks and she brought her hand to her face as she averted her eyes. "I just..I don't want you to think this is what I do every night. I mean..I'm certainly not a prude…I've had my share of….but I'm not…." She shook her head, feeling her words were simply confusing things further. "What I'm trying to say is, I'm not expecting any kind of relationship from this..I know what this was and it was really…."
"Amazing," he whispered. The bare skin of her neck was impossible to ignore. Softly he placed a trail of kisses down to her shoulders. "I wish I didn't have to leave so soon."
"When's your flight?" she whispered, already finding herself breathless again.
"Whenever I want." His eyes flickered as he looked at her. "It's one of the perks of sports promotion—use of the company jet."
"So..you could stay a little longer…"
He grinned as he lay down beside her, propping himself up on his elbow as he loomed over her. "Long enough," he sighed.
Billy glanced down at his watch. He hated lunch meetings. They always seemed to disrupt the most productive mornings and, more often than not, his partners were late.
He stood, stepping over to the bar. "Excuse me."
"Yes, sir," the bartender responded, looking up at him, "Can I get you something?"
"No thanks. I'm actually meeting someone here..well I'm supposed to be anyway. Tall guy, built, sports promoter, name's Rick McPherson. Have you seen him by chance?"
The bartender thought for a moment. "You know what, I think I did see that guy, but it was last night. He was here with a woman and they headed upstairs. I didn't get a look at her though. They were leaving just as I was changing shifts. You should talk to Bradley. He worked last night. He probably served them."
Billy shook his head. "That's alright," he sighed, "I'm sure he'll be here soon. He's probably enjoying his morning. Can't blame him for that."
He walked back over to the table, sitting down as he stared at the empty chair across from him. His lunch meeting was upstairs with a woman and he couldn't even bring himself to be annoyed. He was too busy being jealous. Sure he wasn't completely alone. He had his children. He had his family, the members of it that were still speaking to him that is, and he had the strange, seemingly endless dance with Victoria, but nothing he had with Victoria, or anyone else, could come close to the excitement he'd had when he'd been with her.
If Phyllis was sitting in that chair right now, he'd be all smiles, the work on his desk would be a distant memory, and his mind would be consumed with thoughts of getting her out of this restaurant and somewhere more private. But she wasn't here—he had no idea where she was. She wasn't his anymore—even though she occupied a permanent space in his life, in his mind, and, more importantly, in his heart.
"Billy," Rick sighed, extending his hand as he pulled the chair away from the table and sat down. "I'm so sorry I'm late. I got a little held up this morning." He couldn't help but smile as he said the words, his mind harkening back to moments ago.
Billy smiled knowingly. "So I've heard..word is you met a friend last night."
Rick drew in a breath. "This is a small town," he grinned. He reached for the glass of water that sat on the table. "It was quite the night," he admitted, "I've been to lots of towns and I've found quite a few friends if you know what I mean, but this one…" He shook his head, flashing his best cat ate the canary smile. "She was one for the books—a smile that lit up the room, great laugh, confident, smart, sexy, and a body to back it all up…"
"Yeah," Billy sighed. He had that and more and he'd let it all slip away.
"I know this is business and all but it was one of those nights you just kind of want to talk about..you know?"
Billy nodded. The last thing he wanted to do was listen to details of this man's latest conquest, but this was an important deal for Brash and Sassy and if it meant listening to the play by play of Rick's latest one night stand, then so be it.
"Man, she wore a skin tight red number. You don't wear a dress like that if you don't expect people to be looking but the dress was nothing compared to what was underneath. She had on this little black, lace thing that just…" He stopped, noting Billy's expression. "Sorry, man…too much information."
"No," Billy lied, forcing a smile, "I'm glad you found someone you connect with. Are you uh planning to keep in touch? Set up some regular visits to Genoa City? Sounds like you two really hit it off."
Rick laughed. "No. No. We both understood what this was. No strings attached. Simple and easy. Though I did get her card in case I'm ever in town again. I'd take a repeat of that anytime."
"Good for you," Billy managed. He wasn't a fan of this particular type. To be fair, he'd made plenty of mistakes with women in his day, but this guy…the type that used women for sport, switching them out in different cities as if they had no feelings or expectations.
"You know…" Rick reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out a card, "You should take a shot of the card. You're a local boy. She'd be a hell of a stress reliever at the end of a hard day at the office and she doesn't mind taking the lead either." His grin flashed again as he slid the card across the table.
Billy swallowed hard. "Nah, that's alright. I've got too much on my plate right now. I certainly don't have time for anyone in my life."
"Oh I don't think she's really the type for a relationship or anything, but she's a great long weekend kind of girl if you get my drift…"
Billy sighed, touching the card and glancing at it as he positioned to push it back towards him. His fingers lingered for a moment, his eyes widening as the letters seemed to swirl in front of him. "Phyllis Summers?" he breathed, looking across the table at the sickening smile that still flashed at him.
"Phyllis Summers is the woman you were with last night?"