cms1171 (cms1171) wrote in thelittlebang,
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thelittlebang

Fic: A Chance at Love

Title: A Chance at Love
Author: cms1171 
Fandom: The Young and the Restless
Pairings: Chloe and Amber
Characters: Chloe, Amber, Billy, Cane, Lily, Rafe
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: none
Spoilers: none
Betas: sillyme, Layla_gray
Summary: Chloe decides to take charge of her life. Will she find love in an unexpected place?
Artwork: ceares.livejournal.com/81573.html
Author's Notes: I've been wanting to write a Chloe-centric fic for awhile. This challenge spurred me to do it, and I had a great time. There will be a sequel, eventually.

A Chance At Love

Prologue

July 2008

Decisions are often something made in the blink of an eye. A split second. Snap judgments, without the benefit of insight or any pre-meditated thought process.

That was really what it had been to Chloe Mitchell Ashby, aka Kate Valentine, the maid’s daughter. A snap judgment. There were critics- cynics- she knew that painted her actions as something more sinister. They said it was a pre-meditated act. She planned it all along.

She was nothing but a gold-digger.

That was what they said, she knew this. And after all, it had worked, right? She had trapped the Chancellor heir, Ethan ‘Cane’ (as in Hurricane) Ashby. She had gotten him to marry her.

That part was actually pretty easy. Cane was a stand-up guy, unfailingly honest- if a bit boring- and he coveted a family.

When his saintly girlfriend, Lily Winters, had ended up pregnant with his child, right away Cane had stepped up and offered to marry her.

Chloe had watched, jealous.

Not jealous that Lily had Cane, specifically.

Just jealous that Lily had love.

Love.

Because that was what Chloe had always wanted. If she were to sit down with a shrink and try to talk with them, pour out her emotions and problems, bare her soul to them, they would no doubt have a field day with her twisted psyche.

The product of a one-night stand between a maid and a plumber who called himself Tiny, it was probably easier just to ship her off to boarding school somewhere, on her mother’s employer’s dime, than to really acknowledger her, bond with her, get to know her. Love her.

And so it was that Chloe Mitchell had never felt true love. And so had begun her jealousy.

It wasn’t about Lily. She didn’t hate Lily. Resented her, maybe, for her annoying perfection. But she didn’t hate her.

Just like she didn’t love Cane. He was not the one that she wanted. Chloe knew his heart belonged to Lily, that he would never be hers.

An opportunity presented itself, though, and Chloe took it.

It was a decision made in a split second, in the blink of an eye. A snap judgment.

Chloe chose Cane Ashby to be the father of her child.

Of course, she didn’t actually sleep with him. She just made it look as if she had, and he believed it.

Well, okay, maybe he didn’t really believe it.

In fact, he steadfastly denied it. That was just the way Cane was. Loyal, honorable, a stand-up guy. And he loved his precious Lily.

And so the denial- an angry denial- had continued, and the demand for paternity testing was made.

Some would say Chloe was smug about that test. Others might have called her delusional.

She would have called them wrong.

What she was, simply, was confident. She knew the test result would be a match. Well, rather that it could not exclude Cane as the father. The test didn’t say he was the father.

It just didn’t say he wasn’t. Cane’s paternity could not be ruled out.

For a stand-up guy like Cane, that was enough. He had to do the right thing. He had to marry Chloe. He had to be there for his child.

And this gave Chloe what she had always craved, but never had.

It gave her a family.

If she had told the real father, the man she really loved, she knew what the result would be. He would never have been there for her, or her baby.

He would not have married her.

They wouldn’t have become a family.

And so in that split second, that blink of an eye, Chloe Mitchell made a decision.

She chose Cane Ashby to be her baby daddy.

She chose him to raise his brother’s child.

Chapter 1

March 2009

For all of her reputation as a gold-digger- and yes, Chloe knew who Billy Abbott was when she had set her sights on him, just as she knew Cane was the Chancellor heir when she had decided on him to be the baby’s father – she always acted with her baby’s interest at heart.

It was always about the baby. She knew many people didn’t believe that, but it was the truth.

Still, as good as her intentions might have been (and wasn’t that what people always said the road to hell was paved with?), Chloe Mitchell Ashby was now paying the price.

She had chosen Cane to raise her daughter. That had been the plan.

But the plan had been that they would raise her together. As a family. Cane, herself, and little baby Cordelia. Delia, for short. Or sometimes just Dee.

A family. The three of them.

The plan was never that Cane would raise Cordelia by himself, or worse, that he would raise her with Lily.

Lily Winters. Perfect, saintly Lily Winters. The bane of Chloe’s existence.

She and Cane were now back together, even talking about getting engaged, and they were talking about taking her child. And what was worse, they might win. They actually had a legitimate chance. The baby had been born while she was married to Cane. He was the legal father. The law and a birth certificate said that, and now Cane was suing for custody.

He also had the best lawyer in town helping him. Michael Baldwin.

She had Rafael Torres, who called himself Rafe and barely looked old enough to be out of college, much less law school. He was a friend of Billy’s and supposedly knew family law.

“He can help us keep our kid,” Billy had said, in that cocky, playboy, not a care in the world manner of his.

Life was still a big joke to Billy. Chloe figured it always would be. He wasn’t ready to step up, be a dad, be a family with her and their daughter.

He claimed he was. He was saying the right words now. Well, sort of. He’d proposed to her. Offered her the family life she had always craved.

The temptation was there to take it. It was what she wanted, after all. But at the same time it wasn’t.

Chloe loved Billy, and she wanted him to love her in return.

She wanted love. That was what she really craved.

It was also what was proving to be elusive.

“Chloe? Is something wrong? You look like you’re in a trance.”

The voice jolted Chloe from her thoughts, and she looked up to see her best friend, Amber Moore. Well, maybe best friend as an exaggeration. Truth be told, Amber was Chloe’s only real friend. “Sorry. I was just thinking.”

“About what? Anything exciting?” Amber pulled out a chair and joined Chloe at the small table at Crimson Lights, the local coffee joint in Genoa City.

“This.” Chloe lifted the papers in front of her and passed them across the table.

Amber took the papers from her and started to skim them.

Ethan Ashby v. Chloe Ashby, the caption read.

Petition for Sole Custody.

She skimmed further, taking in some of the allegations. “Ouch,” she observed. Still, perhaps she shouldn’t have been too surprised. Cane had a cruel streak when he felt he had been wronged. Amber knew this perhaps better than anyone. It was unlikely she would ever forget Cane’s public humiliation of her the year before. No, Cane had not taken kindly to being conned into marriage by Amber and he had sought to make her pay.

Now it looked as if he was ready to try to make Chloe pay, too.

“Yeah, ouch,” Chloe muttered. “I mean, it’s not like it’s a huge shock. He’s been saying for weeks he was going to do it.” Being served with the papers, though, had suddenly made it a lot more real. “I just thought--”

“You thought maybe he’d change his mind, reconsider,” Amber finished for her.

“At least back away from the sole custody part. I don’t have a problem with Cane seeing Delia, having some role in her life,” Chloe admitted. She knew Billy didn’t agree with that, and it was one source of contention between the. One of many at the moment, it seemed. “But there is no way I am going to let him take her away from me,” she said with determination. “There is no way I am letting Cane and Lily raise my child.”

“Of course not. And that won’t happen,” Amber reassured her friend. “Have you decided what you’re going to do?”

“Fight it with everything I have,” Chloe answered. “I’ve already met with the lawyer Billy knows. Rafael Torres. He’s going to be handling the case for me.” She just wished she had more confidence in that.

“Of course you’re going to fight the lawsuit. That goes without saying. I meant, have you decided what you’re going to do about Billy? Are you going to marry him? Are you going to try to make it work with him?”

There it was. The sixty-four thousand dollar question. The one Chloe had been considering for a week now, weighing the pros and cons.

Was she going to marry the man she loved, and the father of her child?

Or was she going to turn down his proposal and raise Delia on her own, as a single mother?

Last summer, when she had first learned she was pregnant and she made the snap decision that had set all of this in motion, that had been the furthest thing from her mind. No way, she would have said. There was no way she was going to raise a child on her own. It was unfathomable. She could never do it.

Now it didn’t seem like such a crazy idea at all.

In fact, if Chloe were completely honest, she would have to say it was looking like a pretty good one.

Chapter 2

Ambrosia ‘Amber’ Moore knew a little bit about scheming and a lot about trouble. Her past would probably be described as checkered, and those people would probably be being kind.

She was trying change, though, and still trying to live it down.

That was one of the reasons why she had come to Genoa City, seeking a fresh start.

A fresh start. You wouldn’t know it, from how badly things had gone awry.

First there was the whole marriage thing with Cane Ashby. Amber still wasn’t sure why she had tricked him into a fraudulent marriage, and so soon after she had come to town. The best explanation she had was that he was hot, he had a sexy Australian accent, and he was heir to a vast fortune.

There were worse reasons to con a man into marriage, right?

Okay, so that hadn’t been one of her better moves. Amber was able to admit that.

Old habits certainly died very hard. Especially when they were bad habits.

Another bad habit had followed her from California to Wisconsin was pornography, of the internet variety.

She and a friend, Alison Stewart, had set up a webcam in their apartment, filmed themselves, and posted it all on the web.

When she had arrived in Genoa City, she had begun to show her clips to Daniel Romalotti. Daniel liked them, a lot, and soon became addicted. Both to her and to porn, which led to the demise of his marriage to Lily Winters.

Various capers later, Amber and Daniel had formed a close friendship and that friendship eventually turned to more after a drunken night ended up in passion.

All was good for awhile, until Daniel and Colleen had too many magic brownies at Kevin and Jana Fisher’s new age hippie wedding and ended up having sex.

Amber had seen them, and taken off, devastated.

That was when she met and hooked up with rich playboy surfer who called himself Liam.

It turned out Liam was short for William. As in William ‘Billy’ Foster Abbott.

What a small word.

Now she was back with Daniel, Lily was back with Cane, and Chloe and Billy were left picking up the pieces of their deception.

And somehow, through it all, Amber and Chloe had become friends.

They had enough in common, anyway. They both had an interest in fashion and a history of making mistakes. They had both conned Cane into marriage and they had both slept with Billy.

Only Chloe had a baby, though, giving her the one thing Amber Moore truly craved.

A child.

She wanted a child. She wanted to be a mother. And she longed for the opportunities she had lost.

Perhaps that was why Chloe’s plight somehow resonated with her and made her feel a certain kinship and a desire to help.

Amber had not been given the chance to be a mother. No, that opportunity had been cruelly taken from her. Twice.

She didn’t want Chloe to suffer the same fate. A mother needed to be with her child. And a child needed to be with its mother.

However her friend intended to make that happen, whatever decision she made, Amber would support Chloe.

**

When she arrived home at the small studio she shared with Daniel, Amber found him hard at work on a painting, something abstract that she couldn’t identify. She could spot the talent in it, though, even if some might consider her to be biased.

His art had started with pencil sketches, mostly of her, and he had enjoyed a fair amount of success at that. Now he was starting to branch out into painting, and she knew he would succeed in that, too.

“Hey, sexy,” she said, coming up behind him and wrapping her arms around him.

“Hmm. Hey,” he answered. He sounded distracted, obviously focused on his work, but he took the time to turn around and give her a kiss before returning his attention to the canvas in front of him.

Amber opened the refrigerator and pulled out a cold beer. She uncapped it, sat on the couch, and picked up the latest issue of Restless Style magazine, flipping aimlessly through the pages.

She couldn’t concentrate, though.

“I just saw Chloe at the coffee shop.”

“That’s nice,” Daniel answered absently, not turning in her direction.

“Cane followed through with his threat. He actually did it. He sued her for full custody of Cordelia.”

“That sucks.”

“Yeah. She’s pretty freaked out, Daniel. She really loves that baby, and she’s scared to death of losing her,” Amber continued. “She’s going to fight, though. With everything she has. She’s a fighter, and she’s not going to let Cane or anyone else take her baby from her. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her this determined before. In fact, I know I haven’t. It’s like being a mom has given her this new singular focus, and she’s just so happy when she’s with that baby. She almost lights up. I don’t even want to imagine what would happen if she lost her---”

“So don’t imagine it, then,” Daniel interrupted.

“What?”

“Don’t imagine it. You said you don’t even want to imagine what would happen if Chloe lost her baby. So don’t imagine it,” he said. “Simple as that.”

Except it wasn’t simple. Not to her. It wasn’t something she could just let go, and she didn’t really expect Daniel to understand. “Daniel?” she asked, attempting to change the subject.

“Hmm?”

“Do you want to have kids?”

He shrugged casually. “Sure, I guess so. I mean, someday, maybe. Not for a while, though.”

“How long’s a while?”

“I don’t know. Five, six years at least. I’m way too young right now.”

“Oh.”

“Why? You aren’t actually wanting a kid anytime soon, are you?”

“No. No, I guess not,” Amber lied.

“Good. Because we’re nowhere close to ready. So I guess you’ll just have to enjoy babysitting for now.”

Chapter 3

Raising the baby on her own, being a single parent, had sounded pretty good. And for a few days, that had been Chloe’s plan. It only lasted a few days, though, because Billy managed to get to her like he always got to her.

He turned on the charm.

He brought her flowers, he smiled, he flirted, he kissed her with passion and feeling. And just like she always did, she melted. She couldn’t resist his charm, and she’d ended up in bed with him.

Not long after that, she was accepting his engagement and moving into the pool house on the Abbott Estate. They were going to give it a go. They were going to be a family and raise their daughter together.

Family.

Chloe liked the sound of that, because it was what she had always wanted.

Except now it didn’t seem all that idyllic.

It was three in the morning and she had just been awakened by a blood-curdling scream that she could not seem to quiet down.

And Billy was nowhere to be found.

At first she thought that maybe he just couldn’t sleep and had gotten up to read in the living room or maybe watch TV. But no, Chloe quickly realized he was gone.

It was the middle of the night, and he had left her alone with their baby.

The really sad part was that she wasn’t even surprised. No, she basically expected this, known it would happen.

Maybe not so soon, but she had known it.

Frantic, Chloe picked up the phone and punched in Billy’s cell phone number.

And then she waited. And waited.

“Damn it, Billy! Answer!” she hissed in frustration. He was the baby’s father, he should be there. Right? Hadn’t he said he would be there, for her, for Cordelia? Always. That was what he had said.

So much for that.

After the fourth ring, the voice mail kicked in. “Hey there. It’s Billy. Or Liam. Or Will. Whatever works for you. Leave me a message.”

Whatever works for you, and three names? That wasn’t a very encouraging sign, was it? It certainly wasn’t a very positive indicator that a man was serious about marriage and up for the responsibility of raising a child.

“Billy? It’s me, Chloe,” she said urgently once the beep sounded. “You know, your fiancée and the mother of your child. Perhaps you remember me?” She paused, as if she was forgetting for a second that he wasn’t on the line and expecting him to speak. “I guess not. Anyway, Delia’s fussy. She’s had a bad night and I can’t really get her quiet and…” Another pause, as she pondered what else to say. Nothing came to her. Nothing, except… “I’m scared and I just kind of need you. Why aren’t you here, damn it?”

She paused again, just in case he might still answer or she might come up with something else to say.

Nothing but silence.

“Okay, great. Thanks for nothing, daddy. Bye, then.”

And then she clicked off the phone and waited.

And waited.

Forty minutes later, she was still waiting. No call back. No help. Nothing.

The baby was calmer, now. Chloe had fed her, played soft music for her, danced with her in her arms, even put her in the stroller and taken her for a walk around the grounds.

And now she was asleep and everything was fine.

The crisis was over.

Still, Chloe felt scared.

No, check that. She wasn’t scared. No, not anymore.

Now she was simply alone.

She picked up the phone again, thought about calling her mother. Even though it was the middle of the night, and she knew Esther would answer if she called. That was what mothers did, right?

Of course she would answer.

But that wasn’t the number Chloe dialed. She didn’t call her mother.

The number she did call came surprisingly easy for her. She knew it by heart.

And it was answered right away. “This is Amber.”

Amber. A friendly voice and Chloe could even picture her on the other end of the line talking on that huge, gaudy pink cell phone of hers. For some reason, the image made Chloe smile, and so did hearing her friend’s voice. Amber would understand. She had to, right? “Amber, it’s Chloe,” she said. “I know it’s late, and I’m sorry to bother you. Really, really sorry, but…”

“What’s wrong?” her friend interrupted. “Is something wrong? Is something wrong with the baby?”

Chloe hesitated, not sure how to answer. After all, the crisis had passed and now nothing really was wrong. Well, except for that horrible feeling of being completely alone.

“I… I don’t know. She was fussy and couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t calm her down at first and Billy’s off God knows where doing God knows who, and I really just don’t even want to think about that. I tried to call him and of course he didn’t answer and now she’s asleep and I guess everything is going to be fine,” Chloe rambled on. “Except I just feel so damn alone right now.”

“I’ll be right there.”

**

Less than fifteen minutes later, Amber knocked on the door to the pool house and Chloe let her in. “Thank you for coming,” she whispered.

“He’s still not back yet?” Amber asked, studying the expression on her friends face. It wasn’t really one of worry or concern, which in an instant told Amber that the crisis with the baby had indeed passed. It also told her that Chloe wasn’t particularly worried about Billy, in the fearing for his life kind of way.

No, her expression was more one of hurt. She knew he was fine, just getting busy with another woman.

“No. I don’t expect him to roll in until just before dawn, and probably smelling of cheap booze and even cheaper perfume.”

Amber wished she could reassure Chloe that that wasn’t the case, that her fiancé wasn’t cheating on her. Unfortunately, she knew Billy all too well, having been one of the playboy’s one night stands.

“I think the only real mystery is who he’s with,” Chloe continued matter of factly. “Well, and possibly what name he’s using,” she added dryly.

“I’m sorry,” Amber said, and realized in an instant how lame and hollow the words sounded.

“Hey, come on, it’s not like it’s a shock,” Chloe said, putting her game face on. “I know what kind of man Billy is, and so do you.”

“Yeah, but you love him,” Amber reminded her friend.

Chloe nodded wistfully. “Yeah, isn’t that just the kicker? But hey, we all make mistakes.”

Mistakes were something Amber understood all too well, and she nodded. That was one of the reasons why she liked Chloe so much, even when so few people in town seemed to share the opinion. She had made mistakes, continued to make them, but she owned them and was determined to move past them. Amber had a feeling that this might be the last straw, and that loving Billy Abbott might be the next mistake that Chloe tried to put behind her. “Is Cordelia asleep?”

Chloe nodded. “Yeah. She’s fine now. I just freaked out a little bit,” she admitted sheepishly. “I’m sorry I woke you up.”

“Don’t worry about it. Do you want me to stay for awhile?”

“If you can, I’d really like that.”

Amber didn’t hesitate to answer. “Then I’ll stay.”

“You’re sure it’s not a problem? What about Daniel?”

Amber shook her head. “He’s more interested in his art. I doubt he’ll even notice I’m not there.”

“Great,” Chloe said, smiling for the first time since Amber had gotten there. “I thought we’d make some popcorn and watch a movie,” she suggested. “Just girl stuff, you know?”

“Girl stuff. Sounds perfect.”

**

They were both curled up on the couch underneath a blanket, an empty bowl that once held popcorn separating them when the closing credits of ‘Sex and the City’ rolled across the TV screen.

It was just past six in the morning, the sun still not up, when the door opened and Billy walked in. He stumbled a little and rubbed his eyes blearily as he took in the scene. “Cozy,” he mumbled sarcastically. “Didn’t realize I missed a party.”

Chloe looked up in annoyance. “From the looks of you, I’d say you were the one having a party. And I don’t suppose you’ve checked your messages, either.”

Judging from her tone, it was obvious a confrontation was coming. As much as Amber wanted to stay and watch, she figured it was time to make her exit. “I’ll call you later, Chloe,” she said, as she hurriedly grabbed her purse and her coat. “And good luck.”

Chapter 4

“Luck? What does she think you need luck for?” Billy asked when Amber had left them alone.

“I don’t know,” Chloe said with a shrug. “She got that part wrong. You’re the one that needs luck right now.”

The smirk that almost always seemed present on his face, the one that at times seemed a permanent fixture, suddenly faded. “You’re mad that I was gone all night.” Without the smirk, Billy looked almost vulnerable. At times, he almost resembled a sad child, and it was one of the things that Chloe had fallen in love with. That vulnerability. But now that he had a child of his own, he couldn’t be that lost, sad child, and he couldn’t be the cocksure playboy either. It was time to grow up and show some responsibility. “Don’t be mad at me, honey. I’m here now.”

The way he said honey incensed her, like he could sweet talk her again and everything would be okay. Damn it, why did he have such a hold on her? Chloe took a deep breath, willing the strength to come so that she could do what she needed to. “Now, yes. You’re here now. But where were you when I needed you, Billy? Where were you when I called you?” she asked, her voice rising. “Where were you at three in the morning when our daughter woke up screaming and crying and I couldn’t get her back to sleep? Where were you then, when I was scared out my mind and you weren’t answering your damn phone because your latest booty call was more important than your child?”

“How’s Dee Dee? Is she okay?”

The concern was evident in his voice, and again Chloe almost softened. For all of his faults, Billy did love their daughter. She knew this.

She also knew he didn’t love her, and in all likelihood he never would. “She’s fine now, no thanks to you.”

He ran a hand though his hair, a look of guilt passing over his features. “I’m sorry. I should have been here.”

“Yes. You should have,” Chloe agreed, not budging. “Who were you with?” She didn’t even bother to ask where he was. As predicted, he smelled of liquor and perfume, and there was a smudge of lipstick on his collar.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“It sure as hell does.”

“Oh, come on, don’t get all righteous on me, Chloe.”

“Righteous?” she asked indignantly. “So now I’m being righteous?” A bitter laugh escaped her throat. “We’re in the middle of a custody case, and instead of being home with me and our baby, you’re out screwing some tramp. And I just dare to get upset, and now that’s being righteous?”

Sharon is not a tramp!” he hissed, anger showing in his eyes. “Don’t be calling her a tramp.”

Sharon?” Chloe repeated incredulously. “Did you just say Sharon?”

“Oh, shit,” Billy muttered, and it was obvious he hadn’t intended to say the name out loud. “No one can know, okay?”

Oh, this was rich. He was the one who’d been out all night, having sex with someone else, and not just anyone else, but his brother’s wife. And now, instead of apologizing, he wanted her to keep quiet to protect the other woman? “You mean like your brother?”

“Don’t, Chloe, please,” he pleaded. “It’ll be a mess. This was never supposed to happen.”

“You’re right about that. It shouldn’t have happened. You should have been here. Home. With me and with our baby.”

“I'm just doing what I do. You know who I am. You know I won't change. I never promised you I would."


That was true. He'd warned her all along what their arrangement would be like if they got married. He didn't love her. He wasn't going to love her. He wasn't going to stop seeing other women, or stop flaunting them in her face. But he'd be there for his kid. Well, except when it wasn't convenient or it might cramp his playboy style. Then he'd just pawn her off on anyone he could and go hook up with his latest tramp. Or in this case his, sister-in-law.

And he’d leave his fiancée alone at three in the morning with a screaming baby, like he’d just done.

"You did promise me that you'd be there for our daughter," Chloe reminded him, indignant. "And that you wouldn't do anything to jeopardize the custody case."

"I haven't," he protested defiantly, the cocky grin now present again.

"You have too!" she insisted. "What do you think a judge is going to do when this little nugget of information gets out? Do you think he's going to reward you for screwing your brother's wife by giving you custody of a child?"

"It's my kid!"

"She!” Chloe screamed. “Not it. She. And she’s mine, too! And guess what? I've decided that I'm going to be the one that raises her. Me. Myself. I. I’m going to raise her by myself.”

“You can’t do that.”

That just set her off more. “I sure as hell can. And I will. Watch me. I'm the only one that's looking out for her best interests anyway!"

"You're breaking up with me?" Billy's cocky grin faded again and he appeared surprised, humbled, maybe even chagrined. And then, just like that it was back. "You can't be serious. Of course you're not serious."

“Oh, I'm serious," she insisted, raising her voice. "You don't think I'm serious? Well, how's this for serious?" And then she hit where it hurt the most, lodging one bent knee right in the family crown jewels.

“Owwwwwwwwwww!” he screamed, doubling over in pain and gingerly clutching his groin area. “What the hell was that for, you crazy bitch?”

“Just trying to get a point across,” Chloe said, with a smirk. “Excuse me now, I think my daughter’s awake, so as soon as I get our things packed, we’ll be leaving you.”

“You’ll be back,” he predicted. “You’ll come crawling back to me in a few days. You know you will.”

Chapter 5

For the second time in five days, Chloe moved, this time from Abbott pool house back to the Chancellor Mansion. And she would be moving again soon. She had to find her own place and get herself settled.

Babies needed stability, and she knew the judge would be looking for that. The custody case would be decided based in large part on which parent could provide the more stable home environment for little Cordelia.

Chloe didn’t think she’d be punished for being a single mom, after all it was 2009. However, it could very well work against her if she couldn’t provide stability.

That meant not moving back and forth from house to house every few days, and not having an off again, on again then off again relationship with Billy, even if he was the baby’s father.

No. She had to make a decision and stick to it. That was why first thing tomorrow morning, she was going to find her own apartment, just for her and her baby. And this time, she was going to remain strong and not let Billy get under her skin again.

This time she was going to make it work on her own. She had to. Her daughter was depending on her.

"So you really did it?" Amber sounded slightly surprised, which was somewhat understandable. Sure, she had been there for part of the fallout that morning, but Chloe didn’t exactly have the best track record when it came to cutting ties with men and surviving on her own.

Chloe nodded, feeling satisfied with herself. For the first time in a long time, actually for the first time ever, she was feeling empowered. "Yes. I really did it. I hit him where it hurts the most," she announced proudly. It had taken a lot, but finally, she had just had enough. Had enough of the shallow promises that she knew Billy would just break the next day, if they even lasted that long. Had enough of him coming home with lipstick on his collar and spelling of some other woman's cheap perfume, and then shrugging it off with a cocky grin and his usual excuse. Had enough of defining her self-worth in a relationship with a man. She had had enough of all of it. "I kneed him in 'nads," Chloe said, laughing now as she recalled the look on Billy's face once he had gotten done screaming in pain.

Well, the brief look, before he had again proven what a jerk he was by predicting she would come groveling back.

"Oh my God! That's great," her friend praised, joining her in laughing. "In fact, this calls for a drink," Amber said as she made her way to the bar. She seemed right at home at the Chancellor Mansion, Chloe observed and figured her friendship with Katherine Chancellor was the reason. Chloe admired the elderly matriarch, too, and hoped she might someday feel worthy of being her namesake and her goddaughter. For now, she didn’t, and that was why she called herself Chloe instead of Kate.


Chloe shook her head. "Not for me. I'm nursing."

"Oh, right, I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. I don't mind if you have a celebratory drink for me."

At the invitation, Amber poured herself a glass of wine and then a glass of club soda for Chloe. She held it out to her. "How about a toast?" she suggested.

Chloe accepted the glass. "Toast to what?"

"To your freedom. And to empowerment."

Chloe considered that and smiled. Freedom and empowerment felt good. Really good. "I'll drink to that," she agreed. "To freedom and to empowerment."

And they touched their glasses.

"I'm proud of you, Chloe," Amber said after the toast was done and she had taken the first sip of her wine.

"Really? I was afraid you might be disappointed. After all, just a few weeks ago you were telling me I should give Billy a chance. Trying to convince me that he really does have feelings for me."

"I still think he does," Amber admitted. "And someday he'll realize them. When he does, it will probably be too late. And that will be his problem. I think you made the right choice. You're right that he won't change, so you need to do what's best for you and for Delia, and this is it."

"Thanks for saying that." That was exactly what Chloe needed to hear. She had so many people pushing and pulling her in every direction, and they each had an agenda. Jill wanted to keep the baby at the mansion. Jack wanted to make sure she was raised as an Abbott, and living at the Abbott’s. It seemed that none of them were really concerned about what might be best for her or her daughter. No one, that is, except for her mother and now Amber.

"You're welcome. Just make sure it sticks this time. No taking him back tomorrow, okay?"

Chloe nodded and laughed. "I won’t. Not this time. Don’t worry."

"Good. Because Sharon? Really? I mean, ewww. Gross. Especially since you know she was probably doing both Jack and Nick right along with Billy."

At that, Chloe grimaced. "Can we not talk about that please? It’s an image I’d prefer not have.”

.

Continued in part 2

Tags: fic:y&r
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