Second Chances: The Bold and the Beautiful

BOOK: Second Chances: The Bold and the Beautiful
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Brand new stories with the characters you love from THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.

 

It’s the anniversary of Phoebe’s death and Steffy is overwhelmed by the memories of her twin. 

 

Rick knows just how Steffy is feeling. He, too, is thinking of Phoebe and the accident. 

 

When Liam sees Rick and Steffy comforting each other, he is furious and demands that Steffy choose either Rick or him. Brooke tells Rick that Steffy will break his heart.

 

Steffy’s head is spinning with all their words as she jumps on her motorbike and speeds away. 

 

Are they right? Is she dangerous to anyone who gets close to her?

 

 
 

To Jacqueline MacInnes Wood. Best. Steffy. Ever.

Steffy looked at her glistening body in the mirrored wall as she stepped out of the bath. Suds clung to her skin and the heady smell of the bath salts she’d brought back from Paris perfumed the air. Her breasts were still round and full, but she was thinner than she’d been in a long time, and her hand went automatically to her belly, cradling it protectively. She snatched it away, reaching for a thick white towel and rubbing at her skin viciously.

No moping
.

She donned a peach-colored negligee and stepped out to her desk, sitting down to try, once again, to transfer the pictures in her mind onto paper. She ran her fingers over the desk’s warm, dark surface as she looked out the sheer glass wall over the skyline, imagining other fingers tracing the same path over the last three centuries. The wood felt solid and real, an antidote to the madness and shifting loyalties of LA. Her father had seen her eyes light up when she spotted the beautiful piece back in Paris. And so it had followed her home.

She tapped a pencil on the sketchpad. The excitement of the spring fashion shows in Paris had awakened something in her—a stirring to bring the color and light of the Left Bank to LA. She had felt once again the rush of wanting to create a new line for Forrester Creations—Europe on the West Coast. But tonight there was only one thing on her mind.

She tried to focus on the sketch already on the pad. The outfit was cute, its upturned collar and simple bodice flowing down to a pencil skirt with a flouncy fishtail. But it wasn’t the piece that caught her eye, it was the face of the model. She was gaunt, dark eyes staring into the distance as though they were looking for a way to escape. Steffy looked back to the window and caught her own reflection staring back at her from the glass. She looked like the model. Gaunt, haunted—looking for a way out.

She had sketched herself.

Steffy stood up, tearing the top page from the sketchpad and crumpling it before tossing it into the overflowing trash basket. As she did, a loud hammering interrupted her thoughts. Strange for someone to come calling at this hour.

She moved to the door, and pressed the intercom. “Who is it?”

“Me. I’ve come to pick up some things. Can I come in?” Liam’s voice was low and dark, his light drawl slightly slurred. She wondered if he’d been drinking.

“I—” Steffy rubbed her arms where they were still cool from the light breeze that had been coming in from the balcony. She looked down at her lacy negligee and considered stopping by her room for a wrap before letting him in. Then she shook the thought away and opened the door. “Come in,” she said, ushering him through with one arm. “Are you okay?”

Liam ran his long fingers through his hair. He was wearing it shorter and it made him look younger, but the fine lines around his eyes suggested weariness. She drew in a deep breath, closing her eyes and thinking about the last time she and Liam had spoken. Two weeks ago, only a few days after Steffy had stepped off the plane.

Tonight the effect he had on her was frustrating and predictable. Her breath hitched and her heart rate spiked as she watched him standing uncertainly in the foyer. Her fingers itched to reach out and smooth his ruffled hair, bring him in toward her and hold him close, whispering soothing things. But he had no right to her sympathy. He had not been there for her.

She would not be there for him.

She cursed herself for the effect he had on her. In many ways, this man was like the other half of her, so close and familiar. But they were as lethal to each other as they had been essential to each other’s survival.

She watched his eyes roam over her face and body, taking in the negligee, and she raised her chin, determined now that she would definitely not fetch a robe. This was her home, for now at least, and if she had to endure the physical impact of this man on her, then he would have to put up with her physical impact on him too.

She stood, waiting for him to speak first, but he continued to stare at her.

“You look tired,” he said finally, his voice catching slightly. “And beautiful.”

The words hit her like a blow to the stomach. Her hands automatically hugged her waist, like they were trying to protect her from the spell Liam could always spin to bring her back to him.

“Yeah, well,” she said lightly, “you actually look kind of drunk.”

He laughed, and her tummy clenched and her skin heated up at the dizzying sexiness of it. The rich, throaty sound played havoc with her brain and her ability to breathe.

“Not drunk enough,” he said, walking to the refrigerator and retrieving a bottle of wine.

She raised an eyebrow at him, and he stared her down as he lounged against the kitchen bench. He extracted a corkscrew from a drawer before pulling the cork with a gentle pop. “Join me?”

His eyes were dark and inviting and Steffy’s mind warned her that this was dangerous ground. They had too much to resolve before they could drink wine and make eyes at each other.

“No, thanks,” she said, as politely firm as she could be.

“Aw, come on, Steffy,” he said. “I promise I don’t bite.” The sentence drew her eyes to his mouth, and she remembered how it felt on her skin, playing across her breasts. He did bite, sometimes, she remembered—but only when she really wanted him to.

He shrugged, looking boyish and dangerous all at once. “I’ll get my things soon. I … I just want to talk. We have some things to talk about, don’t you think?”

She nodded. “Yes. And don’t you think we might be better off talking about them when you’re sober, and I’m fully dressed?”

“No, I don’t,” Liam said, and his eyes flashed at her, sweeping over her nightgown and lingering on her cleavage, showing just how clearly he approved of what he saw there.

Steffy considered her options. She could ask him to leave, and he probably would. But she wanted to know what he was thinking. And perhaps, like this, she would learn more from him than she ever would when he was completely sober. He was usually so careful and in control.

Or she could get dressed, and then continue the conversation. But for some reason, she liked the steamy looks he was giving her nightgown. She’d been driven mad these last two weeks, wondering where he was, who he was with, whether he was missing her. And, most of all, if it was Hope who was consoling him.

To have him here felt good. It felt right. Even if he was her husband in name only.

Even if they had ended it before she went to Paris two months ago.

And then ended it again two weeks ago.

But while he was here, watching her hungrily, he wasn’t somewhere planning a new future with Hope.

She sat, then nodded at him. “Okay,” she said.

Liam pulled two large glasses down from the rack and Steffy closed her eyes to enjoy the sound of the wine filling them.

When she looked at Liam again, he was watching her. “Why did you go to Paris?”

His gaze was holding Steffy’s so intently she couldn’t pull loose. He looked so boyish, and confused, she couldn’t decide if she wanted to kiss him or throw him out.

“Oh, Liam,” Steffy sighed. “You know as well as I do how bad things were between us when I left for Paris.”

“But I thought we worked all that out.” It was almost a whine. “You came home. You came back to me.”

“I didn’t know what else to do,” Steffy said. And it was the truth. Liam had called her after she had fled to Paris, begging her to come home, to give them another chance.

“I’ve tried,” Liam said. “I did just like you asked. I didn’t tell anyone you were home, I got this place for us so we could take our time …”

“I tried too,” Steffy said. “When I saw you there, waiting at the airport for me with that huge bunch of roses.” Steffy could not help but smile at the memory. Liam, wearing the smile he saved only for her. She had really believed they could make it work too. Those mischievous brown eyes and that wicked grin had made her knees weak as she’d stumbled into the warmth of his embrace, feeling strong arms wrap protectively around her. He’d put his mouth against her hair, breathed her in, and whispered in her ear, “You’re home now, and everything’s going to be okay, Steffy.”

But it was far from okay. They’d known that within days of her return.

Her hand moved again to her belly. “You really don’t get it, do you?” Her breath burned, hot and sour, in her throat. “I lost my baby,” she whispered, working hard to stay in control of her voice and her self-control. “Our baby.”

He nodded, finally tearing his eyes from hers and staring at the marble floor.

The urge to wound him rose full and powerful in her heart. “But I lost more than that. I lost everything. I lost
you
.” Her skin buzzed with pain at the memory of it. “You could barely speak to me, barely look at me. And I lost something else, too.” She stared at him, willing him to bring his eyes to hers. “Don’t you remember?”

He continued to stare at the floor. Curse him.

“I lost the chance of ever being a mother. Have you any idea how that feels?”

He finally looked up at her, but he shook his head again. Of course he didn’t know how that felt. He couldn’t.

“It’s the kind of grief that tears at you. The kind of grief that wakes you up at night.” She tossed her head. “I thought I knew all about grief. After losing Phoebe—” As she mentioned her sister’s name, Steffy’s voice became ragged and stiff in her throat. She ploughed on. “After Phoebe, and after the baby, I thought I knew all about grief. But when they told me—” Hot, fat tears blurred her vision.

Liam reached for her hand but she shook it away, picking up her wine and taking a long pull of it. “When they told me I would never, ever have a baby, I knew a whole other kind of grief. Sometimes it’s so bad it makes me feel like I’m going crazy. I never even thought I wanted a baby. But—” The words formed in her brain before they spilled from her mouth, and she almost considered stopping herself. After all, she could have been talking about the two of them. “But sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Liam stared hard at her. “I know what you mean,” he said. “I know exactly what you mean.” He reached a hand up to rub Steffy’s arm, then stood and moved toward her, trying to pull her into his arms.

He was close, tantalizingly close. And it would be so easy to surrender to him, to let him pull her into his arms, as he had a thousand times before, and make it all right. He smelled exactly right; he looked exactly right. He was her Liam. Hers.

She started to sway toward him, and stopped herself. This was important. It was important that he understand.

He hadn’t understood after the miscarriage.

He hadn’t understood three weeks ago, when she had returned from Paris and he had wanted to start over as though everything could be the same.

And he hadn’t understood a few days later, when she’d thrown him out.

She needed him to hear this. “I thought you would be different when I got back from Paris. I thought the blame would have gone out of your eyes. But when I looked at you, I still saw it there.”

Liam stepped back a little from Steffy, but he didn’t meet her eyes.

“You can’t deny it, Liam, I know it’s true.” As Steffy said the words, she felt the truth of them settle into her skin.

“It’s not.” Liam stalked around the kitchen bench, refilling his glass with shaking fingers before banging the wine bottle down. “Steffy, I—”

“Say it then.” Steffy stood and moved closer to him, leaning on her side of the bench. The cold marble between them felt just right, just like the place they had come to in their relationship, separated by something so big and cold and frightening they didn’t know how to overcome it. “Say you don’t blame me for our baby dying.”

Liam shrugged, and tipped the glass to his mouth, taking long swallows. “Things happen, Steffy,” he said. “It isn’t always fair. It isn’t always …” He trailed off, and Steffy saw the avoidance in his eyes.

Time stretched as she stared him down.

“You can’t say it,” she said. “Because it isn’t true. You do blame me. You blame me for getting on the motorbike that day. And you’ll never forgive me for it. And you’ll never forget it. Just like I’ll never forget how it felt, when I went to find you, to tell you about our baby—and saw you with Hope.
Kissing
Hope.”

As she said the words, the scene replayed in her head as it had a million times, over and over in slow motion. The two of them, wrapped in each other. Liam, her Liam, her husband. And that woman who would never, ever, let him go. Even in that moment, the moment that should have belonged to her and Liam, Hope was there, ruining her joy, stealing her happiness.

Right now, she wanted to wound him as he had wounded her that day. “There are some things we can’t rewind, Liam, no matter how badly we might want to.”

Liam ran his hands through his hair. “I don’t blame you,” he said, still avoiding her eyes. “But maybe,” he started, then stopped and cleared his throat, like he was trying to get it right. “Maybe everything happens for a reason. Maybe this was meant to be. You never wanted to be a mother. You never wanted a baby.”

Oh no. No, no, no.

How dare he? How dare he try to make this horrible thing somehow fated? This thing that had ripped out her heart? Was he really trying to say that her baby had died because she was not good enough, didn’t want it enough?

“I wanted this baby,” Steffy snarled, feeling something big and ugly well inside her chest. “I wanted
our
baby. I would never have deliberately hurt that baby.”

“Hey.” Liam held up his hands. His brown eyes were soft and warm. “I never thought you deliberately did anything.”

“What then?” Steffy could hear her voice building in intensity, becoming more shrill. “You think I was careless? Reckless?”

A change came over Liam’s face, and she could see he’d reached tipping point. Suddenly his efforts to placate and understand slipped away. She saw only cold fury in his eyes.

“You just aren’t used to thinking about other people, Steffy,” he said finally. “You’ve never had to. It’s not in your nature.”

Steffy’s hand snaked out before she could stop it. She could almost feel the satisfying slap before it connected. She relished it, waiting for the hot connect of skin on skin just like—in another time—she might have waited to feel Liam’s lips on hers.

BOOK: Second Chances: The Bold and the Beautiful
2.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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