Fandom: The Young and the Restless
Pairing: Chloe and Amber
Full heading in part 1
Three days later, Chloe made what she vowed would be her last move, at least until Delia was walking. By that point, she reasoned, it would have been about a year and she couldn’t be accused of flitting from residence to residence and not providing stability for her daughter.
She just hoped this latest move, to a loft apartment just a few blocks from the Restless Style offices, wouldn’t be used against her. After all, this one was about self-sufficiency and putting her child first, and yes- about stability.
She was now on her own, away from the Chancellor and
Cordelia was down for a nap and Chloe was perched on the floor, in leggings and an oversized T shirt, a kerchief on her head, busy unpacking boxes when there was a knock at the door. She pulled herself up from the floor, wondering who it might be.
She hoped it would be Amber, who had offered to come by and help her organize the place.
She feared it might be Billy, back to try to sweet talk her back into his life with more false promises and empty assurances. While she couldn’t deny that might be flattering under different circumstances, the very idea of it now actually left her cold and slightly angry. If Billy did show to try to win her back, Chloe knew that it was less about Billy truly wanting to be with her, and more about the ease with which he figured he could manipulate and charm her. And that was precisely the game she was no longer interested in playing.
“Who is it?” she called out as she approached the door.
“It’s Cane, Chloe,” the muffled voice on the other side answered. “Open the door.”
Cane. She hadn’t expected that. She stood on her toes to peer out the peephole- why did they always put them so high, anyway?- and ascertained that it was, indeed, Cane, before she pulled the door open.
“Hi,” she said, attempting to greet him casually and with a more charitable attitude than she actually felt towards him. It was important not to say or do anything that might set him off and make the looming custody battle even more difficult. “What can I do for you?”
He leaned against the door frame, his tall, lanky frame dressed casually in jeans and a T-shirt. “I heard you moved again,” he answered. “I just came to see for myself.”
She didn’t know whether it was the accent, or something about his general attitude and demeanor, but Cane almost always sounded condescending. “You hear right. This is my new place.”
“How many moves does this make now?”
“The last. That’s all that matters.”
“You mean the last until you decide to give my loser brother one more chance to screw up, or you manage to con some other poor, unsuspecting sap with a trust fund into marrying you?”
“No. You’ve got it wrong. First of all, Billy’s not a screw up.” She didn’t know why she felt compelled to defend him when he was, for all intents and purposes, a major screw up. But that was the crazy thing about love. And aside from that, Cane annoyed her and she didn’t like his superior attitude. “He’s a wonderful father to our little girl.” That was true, at least, and she made a point of emphasizing the word our. Cordelia was theirs, not Cane’s, and they had to present a united front when dealing with him, even if they weren’t going to be together as a couple. “And he’s the only father she’s going to know. We may not be getting married, but Billy will be in her life and she’ll know him as her father,” Chloe explained. “But I’ll be raising her as a single mother. Here. In our new home.”
She said it with a confidence that surprised her. Minute by minute, day by day, Chloe was becoming more confident, both in herself and in her abilities as a mother. She could do this. She really could.
“You? By yourself?” Cane challenged, and his tone bordered on mocking. “You don’t expect me to believe that.”
“It’s the truth.”
“You? With your history?” He laughed out loud. “All those talks we had, all of your sob stories of growing up without a father and how you never wanted that for our baby because two parents were better, and now, suddenly, you’re Chloe Mitchell, single mom extraordinaire and you know best? Lovely. I hope you don’t honestly think that’s going to work in court. If you do, you’re even more delusional than I thought.”
Delusional. She was so sick of being called delusional. “Delia will know her father. I already said that,” Chloe reminded him. “We just aren’t getting married and we aren’t living in the same house. It’s 2009, Cane. A woman doesn’t need to be married in order to be a good mother.” And yet leave it to him to try to find a way to twist her own words and use them against her. That was exactly what she had been afraid of.
“Maybe not,” Cane answered. “But two loving parents married to each other presents a much better picture of stability that a flaky single mom who has moved three times in a week, to say nothing of the little white lie that got you into this mess in the first place,” he said smugly. “I’m pretty sure the judge will agree with me on that point, especially once he learns all about Mommy Dearest.”
“You son of a bitch!” she hissed, abandoning all pretense of being nice.
He just smiled in response, looking even more arrogant. “Have a nice day, Chloe. And I’ll see you in court.”
He turned around and left then, and she closed the door behind him, being careful not to slam it and wake the baby. “Bastard,” she muttered under her breath, her confidence now slightly rattled.
It took a few minutes after Cane left for Chloe to regain her equilibrium, but regain it she did. She hated that he still managed to get to her, but she knew there two reasons why he did.
The first was regret over the lies she had told and how she had hurt him. She didn’t know if he would ever believe that. Many people probably would never believe it, but it was the truth.
But the second, and more important, reason why Cane still managed to get under Chloe’s skin was fear.
Cane was trying to take her child from her. And deep down, Chloe feared he might succeed.
As if to reassure herself that everything was fine, that she could do this, she could survive on her own, prevail in the custody and be a great single mom, Chloe went to check on her daughter.
Delia was still sleeping soundly, like the innocent baby she was, not a care in the world. She had no idea there were people fighting over her, or that her future, at least in terms of where she would live and who would raise her, was in any way in doubt.
If Chloe had her way, that wouldn’t change. The adults would fight their battle, and if she won- no, when she won- they would get on with their lives. Chloe had no intention of badmouthing Cane to her daughter. Nothing would be served by that.
She just wanted it over, so they could move on and be the family they were supposed to be.
Small, and perhaps untraditional, but a family nonetheless.
“No one is taking you away from me, little
As she said it, she started to believe again that it would all work out.
A knock at the door again jolted her from her thoughts, and this time when she answered it, she found Amber standing on the other side. “I am so glad it’s you this time,” Chloe said, greeting with a relieved smile.
“Rough day?” Her friend asked sympathetically, stepping into the apartment and looking around.
“I just had a close encounter with a hurricane,” Chloe said dryly. “The Australian variety.”
Amber nodded. “Yeah, I figured. I ran into him getting off the elevator. He looked pissed.”
“Really?” Now Chloe looked at her, kind of surprised. “He was just acting mighty and arrogant when he left here.”
“Hmm,” Amber said with a shrug. “Maybe it was running in to me that set him. I’m not one of his favorite people, either. The place is looking good,” she said, attempting to change the subject.
“Maybe a new color on the walls, though,” Amber continued, sounding more like an interior designer than a fashion designer. “White is so drab.”
“Yeah, I know,” Chloe agreed, studying the room herself. “I was thinking maybe a light sage green. Subtle, but inviting…”
The suggestion had her friend’s face lighting up. “See, yes. That’s why I like you. Well, one reason, anyway. You have taste.”
“I’m glad there are others,” Chloe said, laughing. “Want to help paint this weekend, then?”
Amber didn’t even hesitate to answer. “You got yourself a date.”
“Trying to drown your sorrows and forget about the love you just stupidly threw away?”
“Shut up!” Billy snapped, looking up for a second from the bottle in front of him. “Whaddya want, anyway?”
Amber slid onto the stool beside him. “To talk to you.” She had known exactly where to find Billy- on a barstool at a dive called Jimmie’s, his new favorite hangout. There wasn’t much Amber didn’t know about Billy Abbott. She may have started out knowing him as Liam, but she now knew him as Billy, and she knew who he really was.
He was a lost soul, as clichéd as that sounded. He was scarred from losing the love of his life, Mackenzie Browning, when they found out on the day of their wedding that they were actually cousins. As if that weren’t bad enough, he’d lost his father, taken up gambling, been spurned by his family, and now had a long lost brother who has taking over what should have Billy’s rightful place in the family.
So Billy was struggling. He was looking, searching, desperate for acceptance and a way to fit in and start over.
In that regard, Billy was very much like Amber.
He was also very much like Chloe, who tonight became the subject of their conversation, and much to his chagrin.
“I’m not interested in talking,” Billy said, taking a long swallow of his drink.
Amber got the impression that was because he was trying to avoid the subject of Chloe. That was precisely why she wanted to bring the subject up. “Hitting it kind of hard tonight?” she asked with an amused smirk.
Jimmie, the androgynous bar owner and tender, materialized and asked for her order. “Just a glass of white wine, thank you,” she answered. There was no need to get into specifics in a place like this, such as attempting to differentiate between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Since it all probably came from a box, differentiating between white and red was the best she figured she could do.
It struck her as rather funny, because a few years ago she never would have pegged herself as a wine snob. Living in
“I can do what I want,” Billy slurred in response to her question. “Ain’t nobody looking out for me.”
Okay, he had obviously had too much. And not just a little too much, a lot too much. “Maybe not,” Amber answered as she took a sip of her wine. Yes, as expected, it tasted as if it came from a box. “But there are people depending on you.”
“Like who?” he asked.
Just as she suspected. He was drowning in sorrow, oblivious to who might actually be needing him. “Oh, I don’t know,” she answered casually. “Like your daughter, maybe. And her mother.”
“They don’t need me,” Billy answered defiantly, his speech still slurred. “Chloe left me. That means she doesn’t need me,” he insisted. “Doesn’t want me.” And as if for emphasis, he picked up his beer bottle and took another long swallow, draining it empty. Then he slammed it to the bar. “Hit me again,” he ordered in the barkeep’s direction.
“You responsible for him?” Jimmie asked, nodding at Amber. “Gonna get him a cab or drive him yourself? Keep from wrapping his new sports car around a tree?”
After a second’s hesitation, Amber nodded. “Yeah. I’ll make sure he gets home in one piece,” she assured Jimmie.
“Good enough,” Jimmie answered, uncapping another clear glass bottle and setting it front of Billy.
Amber watched as he picked up the bottle and took a long drink. “You have rotten taste in beer,” she observed, reading the label. Cheap domestics crap.
“And in women.”
“On the contrary.” She was undeterred. “I think your taste in women is exceptional. You just don’t know what to do with them when you have them.”
“Meaning you,” he asked pointedly, taking another drink.
Amber shook her head. “Nope. Meaning Chloe.”
The mention of the name rendered him speechless for a bit, and he took another long swallow of the cheap, domestic beer and swallowed a handful of peanuts. “I like Chloe. She’s cute,” Billy answered.
“Yeah. She is.”
“She knows me, too,” he continued. “She gets me, she understands me.”
“Yeah,” Amber agreed.
“I fucked up,” Billy answered. “I fucked up big time.”
“Yeah,” Amber agreed again. “No argument there.”
“I like Chloe.”
“Yeah, you said that. But do you love her?”
She suspected that he did, but she didn’t think he’d admit it, because he didn’t know himself. “Maybe. I might. Yes.”
“You do?” she asked hesitantly, wondering if it was just the beer talking.
“Yes, I do,” he insisted. “I love her. I love our daughter, too. Dee Dee. Delia. Cordelia,” he emphasized, repeating the names.
“Yeah. I think you do.”
“But you fucked up,” Amber reminded him.
Billy nodded, the sheepish look on his face making him appear even younger than his years. “Big time.” He grasped the beer bottle in his hand, but this time instead of taking a drink, he peered inside, as if the liquid contents might somehow reveal the answers to his problems or the meaning of life. “They don’t need me,” he said again.
“Yes, they do.”
“No. Chloe left,” Billy reminded her. “She said she could do a better job raising Dee Dee on her own.”
“Well, yeah. Can you blame her at the moment? Look at you.” She rolled her eyes.
“I don’t look good?”
“Not at all. You need to get it together, Billy.”
“I know,” he admitted.
“I’m going to help you. Starting by getting you the heck out of this place.”
“Are you going to help me get her back? Chloe?”
Get her back. Amber pondered that. There was a time she might have encouraged it. Now, she couldn’t. She didn’t want Chloe spending her life with Billy. She just wasn’t sure if her reasons were selfish or altruistic. “No,” Amber said, shaking her head. “Loving someone doesn’t automatically mean you should be in a relationship with them. And right now, you aren’t what Chloe needs.”
“I’m just here to make sure you don’t mess up her life even more than you already have.”
Helping Chloe paint the walls of her new apartment, or sit in the apartment she shared with Daniel watching him paint on his canvas while he ignored her.
Those were Amber’s two options for the day.
Okay, yes, if she really wanted to, she probably could have found something else to do with her time. She could work on new design sketches. She could go shopping for new shoes. Or, if painting was going to be the theme, she could go and get her nails painted an exciting new color.
Instead, she found herself standing in front of Chloe’s apartment, dressed in baggy denim overalls, sporting a ball cap on her head and holding a paint roller.
Chloe answered the door, wearing a baggy smock that was already covered with paint and a troubled expression. “It’s about time you got here,” she said by way of greeting, grabbing Amber’s arm and quickly pulling her inside.
“Hello to you, too. I told you I wasn’t a morning person. Is something wrong?”
“Yes,” Chloe said matter-of-factly. “I’m short.”
At 5 foot 1, if she was that, it was impossible for Amber to argue otherwise. But she tried anyway. “You’re just petite.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Chloe said, rolling her brown eyes in an exaggerated fashion, as if she had definitely heard that one too many times. “Petite. Vertically challenged. Of diminutive stature. No matter what you call it, it all comes down to the same thing,” she said. “I’m short. So that means I can’t reach to the top of the wall.”
This declaration prompted Amber to look at the wall, and she noticed that, indeed, the light sage green pain that now adorned it stopped a good four feet from where the wall met the ceiling.
Chloe had started painting, but had only gotten as far as her arms would reach.
This fact struck Amber as adorable, but slightly nonsensical at the same time. She herself might not be known for being practical, but in this instance she thought she had a perfectly logical and practical solution for Chloe’s dilemma. “So use the ladder,” she suggested, pointing to the ladder in the middle of the room that would certainly allow Chloe, even with her petite frame, to reach to the top of the walls to finish applying the paint.
“I can’t do that.”
“I cannot get on a ladder,” Chloe informed her.
Now Amber was puzzled. “You can’t? Are you superstitious or something?” she gently teased her friend.
Chloe shook her head. “No. Not superstitious. Just scared,” she said. “Sacred I might fall off again, hurt myself even worse, break something else, you know…”
Amber knew, and silently cursed herself for not remembering sooner. A few months before, while she was pregnant with Cordelia, Chloe had been standing on a ladder, painting the nursery at Cane’s house.
Lily had come in, she and Chloe started arguing, and Chloe fell from the ladder.
The baby was fine, thank God, but Chloe had fractured her pelvis.
And now, apparently, she was scared to get on a ladder. “No problem,” Amber said gamely, dipping her roller into the paint tray and then stepping on the ladder. “I’ll get the top parts for you.”
With the room half finished, they took a lunch break, eating sandwiches while sitting on the floor.
“Thanks for helping me,” Chloe said, looking around her new apartment, looking more homey by the minute with the new paint on the walls.
“No problem. My pleasure,” Amber answered, meaning it. So far, the day had been surprisingly enjoyable. Definitely more enjoyable, she figured, than her other options would have been. “So where’s the fashion diva in training?” she asked. She’d been there a couple hours and there had been no sound from the baby, so Amber figured she wasn’t there.
“Spending the day with my mom. I thought it would be best, with the paint and all.”
Amber nodded, understanding. “Sure. Good idea. I was hoping to see her, though,” she admitted.
Chloe looked at her, her expression one that seemed to reflect surprise. “You were?”
“Yeah. Of course. She’s a great kid.”
“She’s two months old. Her personality is barely starting to define itself. But thanks, though. I didn’t realize you were that nuts about babies.”
“Just some of them,” Amber insisted, afraid she might start sounding like she was obsessed with babies or something.
“Well, I agree this one is pretty darn special,” Chloe said, beaming with maternal pride. “I’m sure she’d like to see you, too.”
“Sure. She likes you. You’re great with her.”
“You think so?”
“Yes. I can tell you’ll be a great mom yourself someday.”
A great mom herself someday. That was what she wanted, but didn’t dare hope that the dream would come true. Not anymore. Not after what had happened. Twice.
“Amber?” Chloe asked, jolting her from her thoughts. “Is something wrong?”
She was quick to shake her head. “No, of course not.”
“Nice try. But I know you. What is it?” Chloe asked gently. “What’s wrong? As soon as I mentioned you being a great mom, you suddenly got all quiet. I obviously struck a cord, and I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong,” Amber reassured. “I just get weird sometimes when people mention me having kids.”
“Because I’ve had two. And they both died.” As she said it, her voice was barely above a whisper. “Stillborn.”
“I’m sorry,” Chloe said again, in that way that people do when they don’t really know what else to say but they feel like they have to say something.
“Yeah, me too. But hey, I was young and stupid and probably would have been a lousy mom, anyway.” That’s what she told herself, because it seemed to hurt less that way. Not a lot less, but a little.
Chloe didn’t say anything else, as if the admission had stunned her into silence. Amber got up, wiping her hands on her overalls. “Anyway, enough of that talk. We’ve got walls to paint.”
Chloe sat with her attorney, Rafe Torres at a small table on the patio of Crimson Lights. She had bought him a latte, figuring it was the least she could do since she was the one who had called the after hours meeting.
She wasn’t entirely sure why she had. Reassurance, perhaps, that she hadn’t screwed everything up. Although in her heart, she knew that the choices she had made recently were the best ones for both her and her daughter, she still had concerns that the whirlwind nature of them might give some people the wrong idea and reflect badly on her. She needed to hear from her attorney that everything was going to be okay, that she wasn’t at risk of losing custody.
“There’s always a risk, Chloe.”
“That isn’t what I want to hear, Rafe.”
“I know that,” he said, and then offered a smile that she figured was meant to be reassuring but somehow missed the mark. “Don’t you think I would love to offer a guarantee?”
“Then why don’t you?”
“Because it would irresponsible and unprofessional of me. I can’t guarantee the outcome of a case. It depends on too many things beyond my control,” the young lawyer explained.
Chloe knew that, of course, but had still hoped he could tell her that there was no way she could lose.
“I have to admit, I was very surprised when Billy told me you had broken off your engagement to him and moved into your own apartment with the baby,” Rafe continued.
“Billy told you that?”
“He is my friend, Chloe,” was the explanation. “I’ve known Billy a long time.”
“I know that.” Now she was curious about the rest of their conversation. “Rafe?”
“Billy isn’t going to try to take my baby from me, too, is he?”
Rafe shook his head. “Our conversation wasn’t anything like that. It was just two friends talking. I don’t get the impression Billy has any plans like that. Even if he did, I couldn’t help him. It would be a major conflict of interest. I represent you. My professional obligations are to you.”
Chloe nodded, appreciating that slight reassurance, at least, even if there could be no guarantee. “I’m sure it’s awkward for you. Being my lawyer, and his friend…”
“A little,” Rafe admitted. “But not too bad. That doesn’t create a conflict. Regardless of what happened between the two of you, Billy wants you to have custody, not Cane.”
Yeah, because he can’t stand the thought of his brother winning at anything, let alone everything, she thought. Chloe had long suspected that much of the custody battle was about Cane and Billy trying to one-up each other. She wanted nothing to do with it. “Is that going to happen, Rafe? Am I going to get custody, not Cane?”
Her lawyer sighed. “We just went over that, Chloe. I don’t know.”
“You said you couldn’t guarantee it,” she reminded him, feeling increasingly frustrated. “But you must have some idea. You know, odds. Give me odds.”
Ever the practical lawyer. “Fine, bad choice of words. How about chances then? What are my chances?”
Rafe didn’t answer right away, instead pausing to take a drink of his coffee. Chloe felt a rock forming in the pit of her stomach, wondering if this young man, who barely looked old enough to be out of law school, but yet she had somehow entrusted with the most important thing in her life- her right to raise her own child- was about to give her bad news.
“Rafe, come on. You’re killing me here.”
He set down his coffee cup and looked at her pensively. “Fine. Since you obviously won’t let it rest, I think your chances are pretty good.”
“Just pretty good?” she pressed on. “Or good?”
Rafe sighed. “Fine. They’re good. You’re the only one with a biological connection to the baby, and other than lying about the paternity, you haven’t really done anything so egregious that the courts would find that you’re unfit to raise a child. Its not like you’re an alcoholic or a drug user or you neglect the child. You’ve made some questionable decisions, but I don’t think it’s anything that will cost you your daughter.”
For the first time since she had gotten to the coffee shop and sat down with her lawyer, Chloe felt herself relax, even if just a little bit. “So it’s okay then, that I’m not with Billy? That I didn’t marry Delia’s father and I want to raise her on my own.”
Now Rafe smiled at her, which reassured her even more. “Of course that’s okay. There’s no law that says you have to be married to parent a child. There are plenty of great single moms out there,” he said. “Mine is one of them.”
And she had a single mom who had sent her to boarding school, a decision which had caused her years of resentment. Now that Chloe was a mother herself, though, she was starting to understand the decisions Esther had made and believed her mother really did want the best for her. “Yeah, mine too.” It felt surprisingly good to say that.
“So don’t beat yourself up so much over your choices. You know you can be a great mom on your own. You believe that, right?”
“Yes, yes I do.”
“Good. That’s actually the most important battle. Now we just need to convince the judge. But if you go in that court room with confidence, it will help. Not arrogance,” he cautioned her. “Just confidence. In your decisions and in your ability to be a great mom.”
“Confidence. I can do that.”
“Good,” Rafe said. “There is one more thing I want to talk to you about.”
So much for confidence. The rock took residence in her stomach again. “What?” she asked nervously.
“You and Amber Moore. Is there something going on between the two of you?”
“So let me see if I have this straight,” Amber said when Chloe had given her a play by play of the conversation she had just had with her lawyer. “Okay, maybe that’s a bad choice of word, under the circumstances.”
“Oh, ha ha.”
“So, anyway. You found out your lawyer is gay.”
“And now he thinks we are?” Amber asked incredulously.
“No!” Chloe all but shouted, and then, mindful of the baby asleep in the next room, lowered her voice. “Rafe doesn’t have any opinion about us whatsoever,” she explained. “But Cane…”
“Cane thinks we’re lovers.”
“No, I wouldn’t go quite that far. But you know he’s seen you over here visiting me, and seen us together around town, and now he’s decided to cause more trouble and possibly discredit me in court by saying I’m setting a bad example for my child…”
“By having a questionable relationship with me.”
“Not you in particular,” Chloe corrected. “Just any other woman.”
Amber considered this and then nodded. “Okay, I get it. It’s nothing really personal against me. He’s just being a homophobic ass.”
Chloe shook her head. “I don’t even think it’s that. I think he’s just desperate and latching on to any issue that he might be able to spin in his favor. Cane’s not homophobic,” she decided. “He’s just hoping he might find a judge who is.”
“You don’t seem all that concerned,” Amber observed. “In fact, you seem almost amused by the whole thing.”
“Well, yeah,” Chloe declared. “I mean, think about it. It is pretty amusing.”
“What, that Cane is desperate?” Amber asked. “You’re right. But it’s understandable. You know, I heard from Colleen that he asked Lily to marry him, and she said no, because she’s not too happy about this whole custody thing.”
“That explains a lot. Like making him even more delusional. I mean, spreading rumors about us.”
“Is the idea so horrific?”
“What? Cane spreading rumors? Yes, it is.”
“No,” Amber said. “Us. Together. You know, as a couple. Is it that outrageous?”
Continued in part 3