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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

October 18th, 2004, 12:09 pm #1

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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

November 18th, 2004, 12:53 pm #2

Arianne's Fics

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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

November 18th, 2004, 12:54 pm #3

Love Letters

A Shawn and Belle Fanfic.

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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

November 18th, 2004, 12:54 pm #4

Prologue - Chapter 4

Prologue
2071

15-year-old Isabella Rose sat quietly upstairs inside of her grandparents Shawn and Isabella Brady's basement searching for something that would bring some sort of life back into her grandmother who sat quietly rocking away at a nursing home.

88-year-old Isabella Brady sat quietly in her rocking chair staring out at the ocean which she loved to do since arriving at the nursing home 8-years-ago. She recalled so many happy memories with her beloved Shawn Dougles which is why she requested something with a ocean view when she arrived at the nursing home

What's this Isabella Rose said as she found some old letters inside of a shoebox while searching through her grandmother's hope chest. She smiled when she picked up a letter and saw her grandmother's name written a crossed the letter.



Chapter 1
2004

My darling Isabella,

As i sat on this sail boat and watched the moonlight shine through my window i cant help but picture your smiling face as we sailed away on our boats unsure of the danger we are in as we travel on this dangerous mission for our country.

I feel at peace knowing your being taken care of by my parents. As i write these next few words carefully i remember my vows to you from our wedding day to always be honest and truthful to you no matter how much pain it will cause. I've had this sicken feeling in the pit of my stomach that this mission we've been sent on that some of us will not return home safely.

But i promise you this my darling Isabella that i'll do everything in my power to return to my one true love in one piece. Its getting late my love so i must go for now i'll write you again soon.

Love,
Shawn

Isabella Rose wiped the tears that had falling down her cheeks as she read her grandfather's letter that he had wrote to her grandmother so many years ago. This would certainly lift her spirits if she relived the love she onced shared with her grandfather 67-years ago



Chapter 2
2071

After being drop off by, her father Evan Brady Isabella Rose enterd the nursing, home with a smile on her face she loved spending, time with her grandmother and she specially loved hearing, about the tales of when her grandmother was younger. She smiled when she thought about her grandmother's reacting to seeing her old love letters again.

........
2004

My sweet darling Isabella,

Its about 3am as i write this letter to you. As i gazed up at the stars i image your beautiful smile smiling down upon me on this cold and lonely night. I think my lucky stars everyday that God sent me a special woman like you Isabella into my life.

Please dont be upset or alarmed if you do not hear from me in the next couple of weeks i've got my orders this morning and i am to be shiped out in the next couple of days. I cant not tell you where i'll be going or when i'll be back just know my sweet Isabella that i'll be thinking of you every minute of the day untill i can hold you in my arms once again.

Love,
Shawn

Grandma? Isabella Rose said as she enterd her grandmother's room. Come in my little Rose Bud Belle said as she sat quietly in her rocking chair nitting a sweater for her granddaughter. Grandma i've brought you something Isabella Rose said as she handed the letters to her.

Shawn was all Belle said when she saw the letters



Chapter 3
2071

Belle's mind flashed back to that faithful day on March 6th 2004 when her life changed forever. She was loaded the dishwasher when she received a knock at her door Belle wiped her hands on her apron as she walked towards the front door. Belle's heart started to beat faster when she opened the front door and saw two Uniform Officers standing on her front porch.

She rememberd both Officers removing their hats as one of them asked Mrs Brady? and when she nodded her head yes she knew right then and there that her beloved Shawn Dougles was dead. Belle didn't remember much after that she was in a dazed up untill the day they buried Shawn beside his greatgrandparents Tom and Alice Horton.

She rememberd laying fresh flowers on his casket and whispering I love you Shawn Dougles. She also rememberd laying a hand on her tummy as she knew that the baby inside of her would never get to know his or her father.

.......
2071

Grandma are you alright? Isabella Rose asked as she knelt in front of her grandmother with concern wriiten all over her face. Of course i am my little Rose bud Belle said as she smiled and gentle touched her granddaughter's cheek i was just remembering the past my dear.



Chapter 4
2071

Isabella Rose left her grandmother alone to read the last letter that she would ever receive from her husband.

.....
2004

Isabella,

Do you remember the first time we laid eyes on each other? I remember as if it was yesterday when your mother brought you to the playground to play with the other kids and you ever so quietly asked me if i would help you build a sand castle. I think from that moment on i was hooked even though i was only 5-years-old i knew from the moment our eyes met we were soulmates and we would be together till the end.

.....
2071
Belle wiped her eyes as she read those last few words out loud "together till the end" Oh Shawn Dougles there isn't a day that goes by that i dont think of you and wish you were here with me. But i know your up there waiting for me in heaven and someday soon we will be together again my love Belle said as she folded the letter and held it against her heart as she took her last breath.

.....

I've saved a spot just for the two of us my darling Isabella Shawn said as he met his wife at the gates of heaven. I've waited a lifetime to be with you again Shawn Dougles Belle said as she took the hand that Shawn held out for her. The two walked hand and hand through the gates of heaven as they were indeed together in the end.


THE END
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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

November 24th, 2004, 4:24 pm #5

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Ashley's Fics

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November 24th, 2004, 4:25 pm #6

Starlight, Starbright

A Shawn and Belle fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC17.



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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

November 24th, 2004, 4:28 pm #7

Prologue - Chapter 9

Prologue
Warm sunlight slowly crept across the dew laden fields, creating a soft misty fog over the growing crop. A solitary deer easily and cautiously meandered through the corn looking for something to feed on. The summer was late upon the farm and food was scarce to some upon. Fall rains would bring back the parched grasses and then the deer would eat their fill again. A cracking and creaking noise caused the white tail to fly up and the deep to bound away, trampling everything in it’s path.

The young woman who had stepped out of the small farmhouse chuckled at the sight of the animal. That same deer ran through their field every morning. Shaking her head in amusement she headed towards the chicken coup that sat on the shady side of the house. They were out of eggs and she knew that her husband would be hungry when he came in from tending to the cows. Whispering softly, she collected eggs from the frightened animals. She only took a few before retreating back to her kitchen.

Warm smells of fresh baked bread filled her as she walked back inside. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d bought a loaf of bread. It hadn’t been since she’d married, he had always asked that she make it fresh in the mornings. She didn’t mind, she loved the kitchen and took pride in the meals she produced every day.

Checking the time she knew she had fallen behind in her schedule, and that was not a good thing. Panicking, she popped four slices of bread in the toaster, started the eggs and was glad the bacon was almost done. She would not eat with her husband, her meal would come after the early morning chores were done.

The sound of tires crunching on the gravel drive made her jump and she cursed the toaster for being so slow. By not have his breakfast for him she knew that there would be hell to pay. The creaking of the screen door made her whirl around, frying pan in hand. He came striding into the kitchen, tight blue jeans clinging to his muscular thighs, work boots covering his perfect feet, open shirt over his muscular chest and dark hair in need of a cut tucked under a bandana.

“Is breakfast ready yet?” He asked looking at her sternly. He didn’t ask much of her, only to cook and clean for him. Yet she seemed to have problems with the simple tasks. “I don’t see anything on a plate for me.”

“I’m sorry.” She said placing the frying pan back on the stove. The wood heat was not on her side this morning and the eggs just slid around the pan. “The bread didn’t rise as fast I wanted it to.” She knew that excuses were futile, he’d still punish her.

“All I do for you and you give me this?” He asked looking at the empty table. She may have been a beautiful woman, but she had the brains of a fish. “I did you a favor. Your ruined yourself and I came to your rescue. If it wasn’t for me you’d be living with him and that bastard child of yours.”

“I’m sorry.” She said as he advanced on her. “I’m sorry.” Tears welled in her eyes as she anticipated what would come next and she felt her body begin to tremble.

“Oh stop your crying you stupid bitch.” He said removing his belt from the loops on his jeans and doubling it over. “ Don’t think I don’t know how you cry at night. I hear you crying for your baby.” He raised his hand and brought the belt down across her cheek. “You are my wife, not his.” He hit her again, laughing as she fell to the floor. “From now on the only name I want you to call out is mine. Do you understand me Isabella?”

“Yes.” Isabella replied through her sobs. “I understand.”

“Good.” He said kicking her once in the ribs. The frying pan had fallen with her and his breakfast was ruined. “I’ll head into town and eat.” He smiled down at her and decided one more kick would teach her. “Remember, you belong to me Belle Brady.”<br />

Belle lay on the floor, crying in pain, watching him leave. She could feel blood trickling from her cheek and she wondered if she’d be able to hide the cut so no one would know what happened. A searing pain spread across her other cheek and down her neck and she screamed when she realized that she’d been lying on the bottom of the hot cast iron frying pan. Climbing to her feet she ignored the pain in chest and rushed to the bathroom. Spreading from just below her left eye to halfway down that side of her neck was a bright red burn. “He’ll never love me now.” She whispered gingerly touching the raw flesh. Isabella Brady would never again be the same.



Chapter 1




Belle sat numbly as her parents looked at her with concern. The white bandage that covered most of her face was a mystery to them. Her father had believed the story of how the woodstove flared up while she was loading it and she’d been burned. He’d decided that it was time to modernize the house and had called to order a new stove and furnace. Her mother on the other hand, knew better than to buy the story.

“Well I’m going to go and see how your crop is coming along.” John Black said rising from his chair. His dark, tailored business suit was a remarkable contrast with the country décor of the house. He always looked out of place when he came to visit.

Marlena Black jumped up the moment her husband was gone. “Baby what happened?” She asked smoothing her youngest daughters hair. “What really happened? I know that that wood stove did not flare up like that, none of your hair is burnt and your eye is ok.”

Belle attempted to smile, but it hurt too much. “The same thing that happened to my ribs.” She said lifting her shirt up so her mother could see the bruises along her chest. “Breakfast wasn’t ready when he got home. He started to hit me with his belt, and I fell down. I took the frying pan with me and I landed on it. I didn’t feel it either, not right away at least.”

“Oh my poor baby girl.” Marlena said taking Belle into her arms. She’d known that something was up after Belle’s last phone call. “I’m sorry about this. I wish your father would have let you marry who you wanted.”

“Me too.” Belle said trying not to cry, it hurt her cheek if it got wet. “I miss him mom. Please, tell me if I had a boy or a girl. Please, I have to know that they’re ok.”

“If I tell you honey you know it will only hurt you more.” Marlena said feeling extremely guilty at keeping the baby from her daughter. “But, they’re both doing great, don’t worry, he’s taking good care of them both.”

“I want to leave Mom.” Belle said feeling suddenly hot all over. “I can’t do this anymore. I’m miserable, and sick. I haven’t been into town sine I got here. Please take me home, take me back to him.”

Marlena frowned at her daughters plea. If Belle would have fit in her purse she would have taken her in a second. “Honey, I can’t do that.” She said noting how warm Belle’s hand was. “Are you feeling alright?”

“I feel hot.” Belle said fanning her face with her hand. The stove was off, she didn’t know what was making her so warm. “He thinks I’m might be pregnant, but I’ve never even slept with him, I can’t bear to think of it. I just let him get drunk and pretend we’re doing it. That can’t be healthy for a marriage, when the wife is afraid to get into bed with her husband. Why the hell is it so hot in here?”

“Did the doctor who treated you give you any antibiotics?” Marlena asked, worried Belle might have an infection in the scare tissue on her face.

“What doctor?” Belle asked with a cynical laugh. “He didn’t let me see a doctor. I did the bandages myself and I’ve been taking Advil for the pain.” She closed her eyes as the room started to spin around her.

“Belle?” Marlena asked steadying her. “Belle say something.”

Belle managed, “did you hear, we’re having a baby, yeah I’m due in June,” before toppling over and landing on the floor in a crumple heap.

Marlena jumped to her feet and headed to the door. “John!” She screamed spotting her husband and son in law near the car. “John come quick.”

John rushed over at the urgency in his wife’s voice. Perhaps she just found out that Belle was going to have her first legitimate baby, he’d been thrilled when he’d been told a few minutes ago. “What’s the matter doc?”

“It’s Belle, she’s passed out.” Marlena said as she led him back to their daughter. “I think she might have an infection. She has a fever and asked me if I knew they were having a baby in June. It’s September, she had the baby in June.”

“Doc, she’ll have medication to ward off any infections.” John replied trying to soothe his wife. She was always over emotional when it came to her children. “I was just told we are going to be grandparents so that might be what’s happening.”

“The only way Belle has medication is if she baked it right here.” Marlena retorted glaring at her son in law. “And she’s only pregnant if she’s the new Mary. She’s just spilled a few little secrets to me.” She crossed the room to the tall handsome man who was watching them carefully. “You did this!” She raised her hand and slapped him hard. “You stay away from my daughter!”

He reacted automatically and hit her back. Marlena stumbled backward at the impact. “You can’t tell me to keep away from my wife! She’s my property now, not yours.”

“How dare you strike a female.” John said stepping forward to stand between him and Marlena. “You do this to Belle don’t you. You’ve been beating her all along! That’s why she hasn’t come home and why she doesn’t want us to come here!” He moved back and picked up Belle’s limp, and hot, form. “You stay away from my family.”

“You can’t take her!” He screamed as they headed towards the car. “I won’t let you do this. After all, my father and uncle are police officers! They’ll arrest you for this.”

“The only one who will be arrested will be you.” John said placing Belle gently on the backseat of the car and helping Marlena in next to her. “And don’t ever expect to see her again Mr. Brady, she’ll be free of you now for ever.”



Chapter 2

John paced nervously outside Belle’s hospital room, waiting for Marlena to come out and give him an update. She had been right, Belle did have an infection, a very severe on at that. Belle’s second degree burns were so badly infected that they’d bee forced to remove her top layer of skin growth so they could clean the skin underneath it. This is was all his fault. If he had just let Belle marry the Brady of her choice this never would have happened. The one she wanted would never have abused her, he loved her too much to lay an angry hand on her.

“John?” Marlena asked as she came out of Belle’s room. “She’s awake now. She said she feels ok, but is refusing to see anyone. Well, she’ll see us as long as we don’t see her, but it’s the same I guess.” She slipped into her husbands outstretched arms. She knew that he was blaming himself for the whole mess, and he should, it was.

“Does she hate me?” John asked looking down at Marlena’s bruised face. He’d had to restrain himself from attacking the son of a bitch when he’d been arrested. Bo Brady has used that same restraint as he cuffed the bastard.

“No she doesn’t hate you.” Marlena said dropping her face so her hair hid the dark bruise under her eye. “She just doesn’t understand why she could keep the baby. She wanted to be with him and the baby. I don’t understand it either so I couldn’t explain it to her.”

“It’s complicated.” John said pulling away from her. “I didn’t want the Dimera’s to find out that there was a baby uniting the Black and Brady families. I knew that if I married her to him, that there would be no children. I just didn’t want to see the three of them hurt.”

“But they were hurt.” Marlena said softly. “You didn’t see the look on his face when I brought him the baby and told him to leave. He was heart broken, he wanted to take Belle home too. He was completely heart broken. And look at what happened to Belle. On top of her injuries she’s the mother of a baby she doesn’t even know the sex of.”

“I just wanted to make sure they all lived.” John said as a solitary tear slid along his cheek. “I love all of them too much to let Dimera get his hands on them. We know the things he could do to a family, did you want that to happen?”

“You know I don’t want anything to happen to them.” Marlena said stepping into his embrace again. “But you know he would have kept them safe. And you and Roman and Bo could have helped him do it.”

“Roman and Bo did help.” John said wondering what their initial reaction had been to hearing the report of Belle’s beating. “One gave us a son, the other turned a blind eye. I mean, they got me the papers for the marriage and for them to get out of Salem immediately.”

“Straight from a home of love into a home of hell.” Marlena said firmly. “This is not the first time he’s hurt her John. They’ve been married two months and he’s broken her left arm and nine ribs. She’ll need the arm re-broken and set since he didn’t take her to a hospital. It’s healed crooked and is very weak. She can’t even write with it sometimes because of the way she holds her pen, it hurts too much to curve her wrist around.”

“How could we have not known?” John asked wishing he could take the past two months back. This was his Izzy-B, his only little girl. “Why did she not tell us?”

“Would we have believed her?” Marlena asked softly as she laid her head on his chest. It had been a long nine days since Belle had been admitted and it was taking it’s toll on her. “She was scared that we’d tell her we didn’t believe her and we’d say something to him.”

“Are we going to tell him?” John asked leading his wife to a chair and pulling her down onto his lap, kissing her softly as he did so. “He’s going to hear what happened sooner or later and he’ll want to bring the baby to her. Is she going to want to see them?”

“No!” Belle said from her doorway. She clung to the frame with one hand and glared at her parents through the full facial bandages. “No, I don’t want him to ever see me!”

“You don’t have to.” Marlena said rushing to her distraught daughter. “You don’t have to see anyone right now. I know you think you’re ugly with the bandages and the scar, but it will all be gone soon and you can have surgery to remove the scar tissue.”

“But I’ll never be the same again.” Belle wept against her mothers shoulder. She reached out for her father and he came to join the hug. “I’ll always bear the scars of my time as a Brady, even if my face looks normal, my heart will bear them. I will never be the person I was before all this. I have nothing left, all I lived for was his love. I can’t be a mother to my baby and if I could, there is no way that Shawn Brady will ever love me after this, never.”





Chapter 3



Shawn sat quietly listening to Marlena explain what had happened to Belle in the past two months. He’d only known that she would not be coming to raise the baby with him, the details had always been left out. “You mean you forced her to marry Rex instead of letting her marry me?” There was no room left in him for anger, all he could feel was heartbreak. “And he hurt her?”

“I’m sorry Shawn.” Marlena said wiping her eyes with a tissue. “I wanted her here.” She closed her eyes as a sob threatened to escape her throat. “You know that.”

“When can I see her?” Shawn asked checking the baby monitor for small sounds.

“She doesn’t want to see you.” Marlena said wishing she didn’t have to say this to him. She and John had tried to get Belle to reconsider, but she’d stayed firm in her decision. “She told us that she never wanted you to see her. She’s scarred Shawn. Half her face, everything below her left eye, and part of her neck was burned. She’s already had two surgeries and will need more in the future. She’ll be a long time in her recovery.”

“Tell her I want to see her.” Shawn said gently. His heart was void of emotion, he’s spent months longing for Belle, and now that she was there, he couldn’t be with her anyway. “Tell her I don’t care about the burns. Just tell her that I love her.”<br />

“I’ll tell her, but don’t get your hopes up.” Marlena said taking one of his hands. “She’d depressed and John and I are afraid that it may stay that way for quite a while.”

“Could you possibly stay a few minutes longer?” Shawn asked as an idea popped into his head. “I’m going to write her a letter, maybe you could drop it off for me.”

“I’ll do that.” Marlena said smiling at the young man. He’d always been a gentleman, being quick to jump in and demand Belle’s hand when they discovered that their diligence with birth control had failed. A loud scream filled the room and her eyes darted to the baby monitor. “Would you like me to?”

“Go ahead.” Shawn said nodding towards the stairs. “You need to spend more time together.” He quickly went to work on the letter. ‘And mother and child need to as well.’

***

Belle sat alone in the darkened hospital room staring at the letter that her mother had brought to her. It had been dropped on the edge of the bed and there it had stayed for the past three hours. It was from Shawn, she could tell by the way her name was written on the envelope. She was terrified to touch it, let alone open it. If he still loved her, she’d be breaking his heart all over again when she told him she didn’t want him to anymore.

“Open it Belle.” A young nurse said as she came in to check her vitals. “You’ll fell better after you know what he has to say.” She did her check in barely a minute and placed a gentle hand on Belle’s shoulder.

“I’ll feel torn.” Belle retorted as her light was flipped on. She had come to hate the light, in the dark no one could see her. “I won’t go back to him now. Not while I look like this and I’ll look like this for a long time.”

“You will recover Belle.” The young woman said as she gently began to remove the bandages that wound their way around the pretty blondes head. “You’ll be wearing a bandage on your cheek now, not the whole dressing. I’ll come and wash your hair for you in the morning.”

“So my good cheek will be bare now?” Belle asked feeling slightly relieved. The full face bandage made her look like a mummy and she’d hidden in her room since her surgery. “What will the new one look like?”

“It’s something new that’s just been approved.” The nurse explained as the doctor cautiously made his way into the room. “It’s the color of your skin, and feels like skin. It will fit right onto your cheek, adhering just over the scar tissue so it won’t stick. It will look like your face. You can ever put make up on it.”

“That’s right Isabella, you’ll be looking a little more like your old self in a few minutes.” He quickly went to work securing the bandage to her face, smiling at the results. “There, what do you think of that?”

Belle reluctantly accepted the mirror, laying it in her lap immediately. She didn’t think that anything could improve the marks on her face, and she doubted that they’d ever be able to remove them. “Oh.” She said as she finally stared her own reflection in the face.

“See, you look like you used to.” The nurse said taking Belle’s hair out of the tight braid and securing it in a loose ponytail. “Maybe now you’ll reconsider reading the letter.”

Belle sat motionless until she was alone again in the dim light of her room. Slowly, she reached out and lifted the envelope onto her hand. Knowing that Shawn hand written it filled her with a warmth she hadn’t felt since the last time they’d been together. She gingerly opened the loosely sealed paper and pulled out a single sheet of green paper with his familiar Brady letterhead on it.

Dear Perfect girl,

I see your hand flying to your face as you read those opening words. Drop it back to your lap, you are still perfect to me. I don’t care about how you look, I only care for you as a person. I love you as a person.
I would like to see you. I know you don’t want to be seen, but I need to hear your voice again and hold you in my arms. Please Isabella, I lost you once before, I don’t want to lose you again.

Shawn Douglas Brady

Crying, she dropped the letter and reached for the telephone. Dialing the familiar number, she prayed that he’d answer the phone, and waited.

“Shawn Brady.”

Belle’s voice caught in her throat at his words. Even thought they were only his name, and only two words, they’d had a huge emotional impact on her.

“Hello, is anyone there?” Shawn asked leaning back in his chair. He could hear soft sobs on the line so he knew that someone was there. “I can hear you. Are you ok?”

Belle swallowed hard before trying to talk. “Shawn?”

Shawn jumped to his feet scattering his textbooks across the floor. “Belle?” His heart was racing and his mouth had gone dry. She’s actually called him, Marlena said she wouldn’t.

“I got your letter.” Belle said softly. The letter was clutched in her hands, the green from the paper rubbing off on her cast. “Did you mean it?”

“I meant every word of it.” Shawn said slowly sitting back down in his chair. “I do not care what you look like, not one bit. You are the mother of my daughter, all I care about is having the two of you in my life. And in each others.”

“Daughter?” Belle asked choking on a sob. “We have a little girl?” Immense joy filled her as she imagined a little angel in Shawn’s arms as he sang her to sleep every night.

“Didn’t you know?”

“Dad refused to let me see the baby. Mom knew that if I knew what I had, the it would be harder for me to let go. She was right.”

“We have a beautiful baby girl. Sami and I named her Aimee Isabella. Sami said you’d never get to see her again, and it would be nice if you had her as your namesake.”

“I love it.” Belle said. She paused in her speech, trying to compose herself. “I…”

“I want to see you. I need to see you with my own eyes to make sure you’re ok, I need to … please.”
The emotion in his voice broke through any resolve she may have had and she sighed. “I’m going home tomorrow. If you want to see me you’ll have to come over to the penthouse.” She fought to keep her voice clear, she needed to sound more in control than she felt.

“I’d go to China for you and you know it.” Shawn said as he heard his mother come into the house followed by a racket he assumed to be his little brother Zac. “I am coming tomorrow around three. Do you want me to bring Aimee?”

“No!” Belle said quickly. She didn’t want it to seem like she didn’t want to see her daughter, because truth be told, she’d do with out seeing Shawn first. “I don’t want her to see me like this.”

“Ok then. I will see you at three o’clock.” Shawn said smiling at his mother who had poked her head inside his room. He noticed the full moon out the window and he grinned at the irony. Things usually go awry during the full moon, but things were happening perfectly for him. “I love you Isabella.”

Belle openly sobbed at his gesture but knew that she couldn’t share it back. “Good night Shawn.”



Chapter 4 - Rated R



Belle paced nervously throughout the penthouse as she waited for Shawn to arrive. She and her mother had spent hours that morning ensuring her hair fell in perfect curls and that make up had been applied to her entire face. She had to admit that she looked quite good, quite normal, even though she felt self conscious of the bandage on her face and the cast on her arm. Shawn was now late and her patience was wearing thing.

Shawn nearly flew out of the elevator when it finally stopped on the top floor the building where the Black’s penthouse was located. Traffic had been backed up due to an accident and he knew that Belle would be angry with him for being late. But two children had been killed and he knew that the wait was not in vain, a third had been saved. He reached out to ring the bell when the door opened.

Belle threw the door open, ready to scream at the empty hall and shrieked when she saw Shawn standing there, arm outstretched to the bell. Instinctively she turned her back to him and fled into her parents home.

“Come back here.” Shawn said closing the door and moving after her. She stopped near the windows and he kept a few feet between them. Marlena had warned her about advancing on her, saying that quick movements scared her senseless. “Turn around Belle.”

Belle shuddered at the gentleness in his voice. Rex had never spoken to her like that, although what Shawn said was an order, there was no commanding tone in it, only a plea like gesture. “I’m afraid.” She said in a shaky voice.

“Don’t be afraid.” Shawn said taking a small step forward. He watched as she stiffened at this closeness and he felt a sharp pain in his heart for her. She was so scared of being hurt again that she was afraid of the one person in the world who would never hurt her. “I’m not going to hurt you Belle. I would never hurt you.”

“I know.” Belle said placing her hands on the window sill so she could support herself on the shaking legs that were threatening to give out at any second. The cast pressed painfully into her hand and she quickly pulled it to her chest. “But you don’t understand how I feel.”

“Tell me.” Shawn said placing one of his hands gently on her shoulder. He was prepared for her to pull away, he knew he shouldn’t touch her, but he had to. “Tell me how you feel. I’ll listen to anything you have to say.”

Belle jumped at his touch. She’d thought he’d have better sense that to touch her. “Don’t please.” Her voice was strained and her words a plea. “Shawn you can’t understand what I’ve been through. You’ve never lived in fear of another human being like I have.”

“You can tell me what it was like, you can help me understand.” Shawn said pulling his hand back and letting it drop uselessly to his side. She’d always been comforted by his touch and it was killing him to know that things had changed because of his cousin. “I want to be here for you Isabella I promised you when you got pregnant that I’d never desert you no matter what happened. I meant that then, and I mean it now.”

“Why won’t you just let me be?” Belle asked as she started to cry. She felt exasperated with his caring personality and just wanted to be alone again. “I’m not the same person I was before and I never will be her again!”

“Do you still love mint chocolate chip ice cream and NSYNC?” Shawn asked trying not to smile at himself. Sometimes he was just too smart for his own good, perhaps that was why he was studying to be a counselor. “Do you still want to lie on the beach in Monaco and try sushi in Japan?”

Belle frowned at his questions, she didn’t understand what they had to do with anything. “Yes I still like those things.” She turned the good half of her face to him and looked at him questioningly. “But what does that have to do with anything?”

“The Belle Black that I love wanted all those things.” Shawn replied wanting to reach out and stroke her cheek, but he refrained from doing so. He could see pain and confusion in her ice blue eyes and it made him want to use Rex for a punching bag. “You haven’t changed as much as you think you have.”

Belle felt her face flush at his observation. Was her right, had she not changed all that much? “I’ve changed in other ways Shawn.” She said as a single tear slipped down her cheek. “Do you really want to see my entire face? Do you think you can stomach what I’ve had to do to stay alive for the past two months?”

“I do.” Shawn said as he watched the tear roll along her face before dropping onto the front of her blouse. He wanted nothing more than to know what she’d been through. If he knew, then he could think of how to help her. “Let me see you Isabella. Let me touch you. I don’t want more than you can give, but I have to know.”

Belle slowly turned to face him front on, waiting for a look of utter repulsion to cross his face. She knew that this would change his mind, she wasn’t his beautiful Isabella anymore. And she was totally surprised when he cupped her good cheek in his hand and tilted her face slightly to look at her.

“You look beautiful.” Shawn said, and he meant it. He could see the difference in the two sides of her face, but they weren’t that severe. One had the smooth look of healthy skin, the other a raised plastic look. That was it, like she was wearing a mask from the Phantom of the Opera. “I know you’ve see what is under this, but I think that you look fine.”

Belle broke down when she saw the undying love in his eyes. It was the same love that she’d always seen, the love she’d thought would have taken care of her and their baby. The love she knew he was giving to their daughter every second of the day and night. “He resented you you know.”

“Rex?” Shawn asked wiping a tear away with his thumb. He wanted to cup both of her cheeks and cry with her, but the burns would sear with pain at the touch. “Why would he resent me?”

“Because you had everything that he ever wanted.” Belle said nuzzling his palm slightly. The skin was soft and smelled of baby powder. “Your parents adored you and Zac, the spent time with you and were always around when you were growing up. He refused to believe the stories that I told him. He said I was only lying so you’d seem more like him. He firmly believed Roman and Kate gave him and Cassie up.”

Belle paused and sighed. The things she’d gone through had all been because of the Dimera’s. “He thought that it was amusing how he’d beaten you. He got me and you got a bastard child to take care of. We’d only been legally married for a day when the abuse started. He informed me that as soon as my six week waiting period was up we’d try for our first baby. I refused saying that the only babies I’d ever have were yours. Well needless to say, he freaked out and I ended up with a broken arm. He refused to let me go to the hospital so it healed crooked and it was lamed. As you can see, they’re trying to fix it now.”

“Why didn’t you leave him?” Shawn asked gently, showing more restraint than he felt inside.

“How could I?” Belle asked leaning back against the window. “We lived forty miles from the nearest town and out truck only had one key which Rex had at all times. He continued to beat me for every little thing. A spot on a plate or a stain on his shirt would send him into a fury. I could barely move let alone walk for help.”

Shawn watched as Belle’s face stoned over. He knew she was closing off and that wasn’t a good thing. “Come on, tell me.”

“I cried out for you one night.” Belle said with a shudder. “It was about a month into our marriage and well he flipped out. He said that he was going to make me forget about you once and for all. It was then that the sexual abuse started. He’d torture me Shawn. He’d bring home an array of objects and force them inside my body.” Belle choked at the memories. “He’d force me to use them saying that this was what it felt like to have sex with you.” She thrust herself at his chest, needing to feel his arms around her. “It hurt so much. I’d bleed for days, but that never stopped him.”

Shawn wrapped his arms tightly around her and whispered softly to her as she cried. He’d bet his life that Marlena didn’t know most of this, or she’d have hinted to him about it. “I’m so sorry.”

“I’d have to get him drunk when he wanted sex.” Belle said forging on. “He’d pass out and it made my job a lot easier. He always told me that I was bad in bed, that he wasn’t satisfied. But, well, what is more satisfying, using a hand or the real thing?”

Shawn sensed that her question was genuine and he softly kissed her hair before replying. “If we can alter my opinion to my hand or you, the answer is you. You’ve, uh, never…”

“I know.” Belle said cutting him off before he embarrassed the both of them. “I’d do it by hand while he wore a condom. I’d be so violently sick afterwards, I’d shower for hours before finally collapsing on the bed. I’ve grown accustom to sleeping on the edge of a mattress, I’d never sleep anywhere close to him. I’d, well, I’d think of us to get through the nights.”

“I’d think of you as I stayed up feeding Aimee until four am.” Shawn said as he continued to hold her. “I’d think of you holding her instead of me.”

“Do you have a picture of her?” Belle asked pulling back from him slightly. After her confession she felt more at ease with him. “I’ve searched the penthouse, but didn’t find anything.”

Shawn laughed at her innocent question. He carried a small photo album in his pocket with his credit card and drivers license inside. “I’ve taken more photos of her in the first two months of her life than most parents take in a life time.” He pulled them out of his pocket and showed her the first one. “This one was taken the day she was born.”

Belle smiled at the picture of the tiny child. She looked just like Shawn with the dark hair and eyes. “She’s beautiful.” She closed her eyes and pushed the album away. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there with you. I hate them fore making me lose you.”

“But you’re back now.” Shawn said placing his pictures back in the pocket. “You’re here now and it’s only been two and a half months. It could be worse.”

“I just can’t understand why they took my baby from me.” Belle said laying her head on his chest and sighing. “Did they have such doubts in us as parents? Did they think that I deserved to be punished because I was 20 and pregnant?”

“I don’t know.” Shawn said holding her close. She may not stay so open with him and he wanted to take advantage of the time he had. “All I know is I have you in your arms and nothing else matters.”

Belle looked up from her place in his arms and smiled at him. He’d been a rock for her since she’d started talking and that meant the world to her now. “I’m glad you came.”

“I’m glad you called me.” Shawn said wanting to kiss her. “I want you to see Aimee. I know what you said yesterday, but I just want you to know her too.”

“Soon.” Belle said sounding breathless. His lips were so close to hers and they looked so kissable. “Let me come to her when I’m ready. And I will come, I promise, I just need more time.”

“Will you see me again?” Shawn asked suddenly afraid that he’d lose her again. He bit down on his lip waiting for her to answer.

“Yes.” Belle said lifting her lips closer to his. He looked so venerable and she found herself drawn to him. “I will see you again.”

“Belle, you’re making this hard.” Shawn said swallowing forcefully. He could feel her breath on his lips and he fought to keep his arousal to a minimum; he didn’t want to scare her.

“I know.” Belle said slowly running her tongue along her lips. She didn’t know why she was doing this, he still frightened her.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Belle moaned softly as Shawn’s lips pressed against hers. She’d forgotten just how good it felt to kiss him and she succumbed to the feelings and allowed herself to continue. Shawn’s lips were firm but gentle with her, slowly deepening the kiss at her pace. He gently probed her lips with his tongue and dove inside her mouth when she obliged and opened it. They knew that if they continued they might not have the control to stop. But with desire and loneliness weighing on their shoulders they pressed on until the front door opened and a loud voice boomed through the quiet room.

“What the hell is going on?”



Chapter 5 - Rated R



“Daddy no!” Belle cried as she watched her father pull Shawn from the Penthouse and slam the door in his face. It had all happened so fast that neither of them had had a chance to react to their being ripped away from each other. “What was that?”

“What the hell do you think you are doing?” John asked staring at his daughter. His first instinct had been to beat the hell out of Shawn, but that would have traumatized Belle beyond repair. “I took you away from Shawn Brady for a reason. There is no way in hell that you are going back to him.”

Belle felt like she’d been slapped when her father ruined her dreams. “What do you mean I’m not going back to him?” She asked feeling like she was trapped in the room. The walls were closing in on her and there was an angry man between her and the door.

“As soon as you are cleared for air travel you’re going to Switzerland to a convent.” John said firmly. He kept a straight face as he watched his daughters world crumble around her. But he’d been working for days on devising a plan for her and he would not change it now. “They’ve agreed to take you in, despite your past.”

“No.” Belle said quietly. She could see anger in her father’s eyes and it terrified her. To go against him could make him snap, but she was prepared to do that if it mean that she got to stay in Salem. “No. I’m not going to a convent. No way!”

“You will go.” John said hoping Marlena would be tied up at the office for a little longer. He hadn’t had a chance to share his plan with her, and he wasn’t even sure that she would agree. “It’s for your best interest Izzy-B.”

“No.” Belle said bursting into tears. She couldn’t lose Shawn again, she just couldn’t. “Daddy no.” I just got them back again. I can’t leave, Shawn needs me.” She cast her eyes down and admitted something to herself, “Aimee needs me.”

John froze at his Granddaughters’ name. She wasn’t supposed to know about the baby, she was never supposed to know. “He told you?” He felt anger swell up inside him. “He was told not to tell you!” He flung his arms forward and overturned a nearby table sending glass and roses flying everywhere.

“Daddy stop it!” Belle screamed as she backed towards the wall. Her body was shaking so badly she could barely stand and her heart was racing faster than she had ever remembered it doing. “Stop it!” She picked up a nearby vase and hurled it across the room. “Stop it!”

“You stop it!” John yelled dodging the vase and advancing quickly on Belle. “You are only twenty years old! You are still a child for fuck sakes. There is no way in hell I’m letting you go back to Shawn Brady, never. He can’t offer you anything Isabella.”

“He loves me!” Belle cried trying to get away from her father as he stalked towards her. She’d never see him act like this and she was so scared, she was afraid she’d faint. “He loves me and that’s all I need! All I need is for him to love me!”

“He loves you does he?” John asked with a laugh. “Did he tell you that? Do you really think that love is enough? What about all those expensive things you like to have, or the new car you’ve had every year since you turned sixteen. Shawn can’t afford things like that for you, he never will be able to. And let me tell you something Isabella, when that bandage comes off, he’ll go running in the other direction leaving you with the baby. How will you feel then?”

“No, you’re wrong.” Belle sobbed wishing she could make him disappear. She didn’t understand how her always loving caring father could be so cruel. “You’re wrong! Shawn would never do that to me or Aimee! He’s not like that!”

“You have a bastard child!” John screamed grabbing Belle by the arm and forcing her to look at him. He had to make her understand and the only way that would happen would be if she was hurt in the process. “That’s all she will ever be! A bastard!”

“Then she’ll be just like me.” Belle retorted angrily. She’d known that John Black was a hot head, but she had no idea that it was this severe. But she also knew that she was his daughter and she could meet him with as much force as he was showing her. “I am a bastard too remember? So you and mom are no better off than Shawn and I are!”

Fury raged through John. How dare she say that to him? He’d worked hard to ensure she had a good life and this was what he got in return. “You little bitch!” And at that moment he raised his hand and prepared to do something he had never done in his life.

***

Marlena could hear the yelling and screaming a floor below the penthouse. She could make out Belle’s fearful tone and John’s angry one, and the thought of what could be happening frightened her. “Come on!” She urged the elevator doors. When the finally opened she saw Shawn banging on the door.

“Marlena he’s gone nuts.” Shawn said spotting her as she rushed out of the elevator. “Belle and I were, uh, making amends with each other and he threw me out! They’ve been screaming at each other like this ever since. I think I heard something breaking a bit ago.”

“Let me get the door.” Marlena said hearing Belle scream about her being a bastard too. She knew that the conversation had taken a turn for the worse if they were talking about what she thought they were. Fumbling with the key she finally managed to unlock the door as they heard John call Belle a bitch.

Shawn and Marlena stood motionless when the door opened. They didn’t see the broken glass or scattered flowers. All they could see was John holding onto a crying Belle and then the back of his hand coming towards her cheek. Belle’s scream and the sound of skin on skin brought them around.

Belle didn’t know what to do. Never in her life had either of her parents struck her or any of her siblings, other than Sami when she really deserved it, but even then it was always her mother. A howl of pain escaped her lips and she twisted from her father’s grip. Blindly she ran towards where she hoped the door was, tears streaming down her cheeks, ruining her make up. “No.” She sobbed as someone placed their arms around her and held her tightly. “No!”

Shawn cried as Belle pounded her hands against his chest. He’d known that John was a violent man but he’d never thought that he’d hit any of the women in his life. “Belle it’s me.” He said pulling her out into the hall away from her father and the fury that was Marlena Evans. She was stalking across the room flinging words in every direction. “Shhh… come on stop that.”

Belle stopped striking the person who was holding her and collapsed against their chest. Her heart was broken into a million pieces, like the crystal vase she’s thrown across the room. The one person who was supposed to protect her, had abused her. Nothing that had happened before hurt her like this did. “No!” She twisted in the persons arms trying to get away.

“Belle stop it.” Shawn said gently but firmly. He had her securely wrapped in his arms and he had no plans on letting go anytime soon. “Shhh… it’s me. It’s Shawn. Come on, stop hitting me, I’m not hurting you.” He grabbed her good arm while keeping his other arm securely around her.

Belle looked up and sobbed when she saw that the person holding her was indeed Shawn. “He hit me.” She leaned into his chest and cried into his T-shirt.

“I saw.” Shawn said kissing the top of her head softly. “I’m so sorry. I tried to get back in to get you, but I couldn’t.” He leaned back against the wall and held her as she sobbed out her pain. His own tears slipped silently down his cheeks, landing softly in her hair.

Belle shrieked at the sound of the slamming door and wrapped her arms tighter around his body.

“I’m getting a room for us at the Salem Inn sweet girl.” Marlena said wiping tears off her cheeks. Never in her life has she expected things to turn out like this. Belle was scarred from abuse, she would be divorced for the second time and her husband didn’t think he did anything wrong. “I’ll get Brady to come over and get our things later.”

Belle turned around in Shawn’s arms to look at her mother. She was too scared to pull away from Shawn. He was like a big security blanket who could kick her fathers ass if she’d let him. “I’m sorry mom.”

“You have nothing to be sorry for.” Marlena said as she watched Shawn nuzzle Belle’s neck. “This is all your fathers fault.”

“Can I go with Shawn?” Belle asked feeling like a small child. She knew that she didn’t need her mothers permission, but she felt like she owed it to her mother to ask. “Unless you have something else to do,” she said looking over her shoulder at him.

“Even if I did you could still come with me.” Shawn replied smiling at Marlena. This was exactly what they wanted, Belle back in his arms. “I do have to relieve mom of Aimee though. But she’ll sleep from seven until about midnight.”

“That’s ok.” Belle said softly as she felt a tug on her heart. She’d be in the same house as her daughter, but was she ready to see her?

“I’ll have Brady drop your things off at Shawn’s and you can bring them if you decide to join me.” Marlena said kissing Belle’s cheek. “Take care of her Shawn. You’re going to need each other now more than ever.”



Chapter 6



Belle moaned happily as she rolled over. She hadn’t slept this good in over eight months and she felt refreshed. Opening her eyes, she was surprised to see herself tucked into Shawn’s bed. The last thing she remembered was feeling drowsy on his couch as they watched a movie with his parents. She smiled at the soft sheets that were spread over her body and she noticed that they smelled just like Shawn did. ‘Of course they do, he sleeps here.’ She thought yawning.

A nearby alarm clock flashed eleven twenty at her and she pushed herself into a sitting position. The room was dark, but the hall light was on so she knew that there was still someone up and she decided to go and find Shawn. Quietly she padded towards the door bit stopped when a tiny wail echoed through the room. Belle’s heart began to race as she listened to her daughter cry out.

Slowly, as if she was being drawn to it by an invisible cord, she crept up to the nursery door. The room was dimly lit by a light on the dresser and it smelled of vanilla. Belle chuckled and shook her head at the scent. It was the same scent that she wore and she knew that it was a favorite of Shawns. Another wail came from the crib under the window and Belle felt her heart melt. Her daughter was crying out for Shawn and she was just standing there letting her cry.

It was then that Belle knew what she wanted from life; her family. “Hey sweet girl.” She said using her own nickname for her little girl. “What’s the matter huh?” She leaned over the rail and burst into tears in the child in front of her. Aimee was clad in a pink sleeper and her face was flushed from crying. “Come on now, don’t cry.”

Hope watched quietly as Belle talked to her daughter for the first time. She knew that his was Belle’s very first meeting with her daughter and she was not going to spoil it by making her presence known. She knew, from talking to her earlier, that Belle had once had big plans for being a mom, a plan that included breast feeding, and after a phone call to Lexie Carver she’d been able to tell Belle that she could start anytime up to four months after giving birth to start. ‘Do it Belle.’ She said silently as she retreated from the doorway, leaving them alone. She smiled as she crept down the hall, hoping that her granddaughter would finally have the family she deserved.

Belle gently reached into the crib and lifted her daughter into her arms. She sobbed as she cradled the tiny body against her chest. This being had come out of her own body, and she couldn’t believe that she was really a mommy. “You’re hungry aren’t you?” She asked as Aimee continued to cry. Belle turned towards the door and wondered where Shawn kept the formula and bottles for the baby. She shifted Aimee off the hard cast and thought about going to find him or Hope to ask, but a warm feeling on her breast stopped her. Hope had told her that she could still breast feed if she wanted to and she wondered what Shawn would say. “What do you think sweet girl, should I?”

Aimee’s cried helped her make her decision. Settling down in the padded rocking chair that had once been in Zac’s nursery she struggled to undo the clasp on her bra with out letting Aimee slide off her lap and onto the floor. When she had successfully undone it and gotten comfortable she gently brought her daughter towards her bare breast. Tears of joy slid down her cheeks as Aimee latched on immediately and sucked strongly against the swollen nipple, feasting on the warm milk that flowed freely. Belle had never felt so alive as she did at that moment, this is what she had lived for.

Shawn quietly snuck in his bedroom, careful not to wake Belle and frowned when he saw that his bed was empty. He’d assumed Belle would at least stay one night and was afraid she’d left without saying goodbye to him, or seeing Aimee. He fought tears of disappointment and turned towards the nursery, baby bottle in hand. He’d heard Aimee cry through the baby monitor and he knew she was hungry since she hadn’t taken a lot before she went to sleep. Shawn stopped when he saw Belle with Aimee in the rocking chair. She looked like an angel holding their daughter, softly singing to her. He was about to walk in to giver the bottle when he realized she wasn’t going to need it, she was feeding her in a way that only a mother could. He quickly moved out of sight and leaned against his bedroom wall. Tears of happiness slid down his cheeks as stood there, he had his family back now.

Belle looked up from watching Aimee just in time to see someone jump out of the doorway. For a moment she feared that it was Shawn and that he would be angry with her. “Shawn, is that you?” She held her feeding daughter tightly in her arms in case it was an intruder.

Shawn took a deep breath before returning to the doorway. The bottle had been discarded on the dresser and he prayed that Aimee would never have to use another one. “Yeah, it’s me.”

“I’m sorry Shawn.” Belle said suddenly panicking at her situation. She fought the urge to flee and cast her eyes to the floor so she couldn’t see his reaction. “I didn’t know where to get her bottle, and she was hungry, and your mom told me that it would be ok…”

Shawn dropped to his knees next to the rocking chair. He had never seen a more beautiful sight than he was seeing right this moment. “Shhh… it’s ok. ?I…” Shawn lightly stroked Aimee’s dark hair before looking up at Belle with tear filled eyes. “I love you Isabella. You’ve made me the happiest person on this planet.”

Belle felt like a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders. “She’s so perfect.” She said as they both gazed at the tiny child who was drifting to sleep, her tummy full of the warm milk. “And I, well, I can’t describe how I feel right now.”

“I have never in my life seen something more amazing than this.” Shawn said rising to kiss Belle’s cheek. A smile spread across his face when she didn’t pull away. “I hope you weren’t afraid when you woke up. I didn’t want to leave you on the couch so I brought you up here. I actually thought you’d left when I came in and you weren’t in bed.”

“I woke up and just as I was going to find you she started to cry.” Belle said as Aimee let go of her breast and snuggled into sleep. “I just couldn’t let her cry, it broke my heart. I thought that if I went in she might stop, but she was too hungry and I couldn’t wait for you to do something, I had to make her stop.”

Shawn carefully took her sleeping daughter from Belle’s arms and placed her in the crib, tucking her under the soft pink quilt that his Gran had made for her. “Come on, let’s let her sleep.” She waited for Belle to straighten her clothes before leading her back into the bedroom.

“We should go and make up the guest room.” Belle said smiling at him. He looked so attractive in the moonlight with the light shining in his dark eyes and his slightly long hair hanging in his face. “I’ll need somewhere to sleep.”

“I’ll be staying in the guest room not you.” Shawn explained flipping on a lamp. “I’d like you to be close to Aimee. I had planned on getting you to see her in the morning, but you’ve beaten me to it.”

“I don’t want to kick you out of your own bed.” Belle protested frowning at him. He was too caring and sometimes she wanted to smack him for it. “I’m the guest in this house, so I sleep in the guest room.”

“If you sleep in the other room than you’re going to be sleeping with me.” Shawn said silently wishing that she’d let him be with her. But he knew that there was no way for it to happen, she was still too scared. “It’s your call.”

“That’s mean.” Belle said attempting to pout at him. She still couldn’t win an argument after all the time they’d know each other. “I should make you get up with me when Aimee wants to be fed.”

“You don’t have to make me, I’ll do it willingly.” Shawn said running his fingers along the bandage on her cheek. He gave her a reassuring smile when she tried to pull away. “Don’t Belle. I can see it now, let me touch it. I won’t hurt you.”

“It’s ugly.” Belle said wanting to run and hide from him. She’d forgotten about her face until he’d touched it and she wondered how he could stand to feel it. “But what’s underneath it is worse.”

“It can be fixed.” Shawn said lightly brushing his lips across her cheek and trailing them down her neck, careful not to press too hard. “You can have your first surgery in a few weeks, or at least that’s what your mother told me.”

Belle smiled, but then her father’s voice echoed through out her head, ‘What about all those expensive things you like to have, or the new car you’ve had every year since you turned sixteen. Shawn can’t afford things like that for you, he never will be able to,’ and she started to cry. “How am I going to pay for it?” She asked feeling depressed. “Dad has always paid for all our medical care.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Shawn said kissing her nose softly. He couldn’t believe she was letting him kiss her like this. “Your mom has already called a lawyer to protect your trust fund, she said that there were not standing conditions on it so he can’t close it out. And right now, I have mind. I’ll take care of it.”

Belle looked at Shawn with a puzzled expression. “Your trust fund?” She hadn’t thought that Caroline or Shawn Sr. had money enough to provide Shawn with a huge sum of money that was common with trust funds.

Shawn chuckled at her obvious confused expression, and he knew exactly what she was thinking. “Victor.” He said unable to conceal his laughter anymore. Most people forgot that Victor Kiriakis was his grandfather by blood. “Not Grandpa Shawn. My father is Victors son remember?”

Belle shook her head and grinned. How could she forget that Shawn was Phillips nephew, they’d only said it to each other about a zillion times growing up. “I feel like an idiot now.”

“Don’t.” Shawn said as he sat down on the side of his bed. “Victor announced my trust fund at the party held after Aimee’s christening. He figured I could use the money to give her an easy life since she lacked the most important person; her mother.”

Belle smiled at Victor’s gesture. “That was nice of him.” She said as he pulled her down to straddle his legs and sit on his knees. Victor, though an unforgivable business man, could be a big lovable teddy bear when someone touched his heart. “I hope you’ve been spoiling her.”

“Don’t you know it.” Shawn said settling his hands in the small of her back. “She’s got more of everything than she need, but I can’t seem to stop buying for her. She’s got an accessory kit to rival yours. I think she looks adorable with hats on or little bows in her hair.”

“Shawn Brady has a fashion sense!” Belle exclaimed in a triumphant voice. She raised her hands and rested them on the back of his neck, careful not to hurt him with the cast. “I’ve taught you well.”

“Yeah you did.” Shawn said as his hands came into contact with the skin on her back. “Do you know how much my family spoils our little girl?” He asked as he lightly trailed his fingers over the exposed skin. “She gets to the mall almost everyday with mom, gets more female attention than Brady and has every cop in Salem wrapped around her little finger.”

“That’s my girl.” Belle said yawning. Even though she’d had a nap, her body was telling her that it needed more rest than a few hours. “Maybe we should finish talking in the morning.”

“How about if we talk over lunch at the pub?” Shawn asked hating to leave her. “I have class from nine until noon, and I usually take Aimee from mom until I go back at two.”

“I forgot about you going to school.” Belle said feeling slightly disappointed. Her time at Salem U had been cut to only two years thanks to her father sending her into hell, causing her to miss the start of the semester, and she wondered if she could go back when she got her trust fund or if Shawn would want her to wait until Aimee started school. “I probably kept you from studying.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Shawn said helping her up from his lap. He could see the longing look on his face and he wondered if she was thinking of her lost time at school. Though classes had only been in three weeks, she would be too far behind to start now. “I got all my work finished and ready for tomorrow. So do we have a date for tomorrow?”

“Sure.” Belle said watching him grab some clothes from his dresser. He’d take all he needed so he didn’t have to wake her in the morning, she didn’t have to ask, that was just the way he was. She moved close to him, pressing her body against his side and tipped her head up for a kiss. “Good night.”

“Good night Isabella.” Shawn said touching his lips to hers in a long sweet kiss. He smiled as he started from the room and turned back at the door. “I’ll see you around three am.”



Chapter 7 - Rated R

THIS IS A VIOLENT CHAPTER PLEASE BEWARE!




“Come here you little bitch!” Rex screamed as he chased after Belle. “I told you what I wanted now get back here and do it!” He hated when Belle put up a fight, it wasn’t attractive or fun for him. Chasing after your wife when you wanted to get laid made it more exhausting than need be.

Belle screamed as she ran through the waist high grass. The nightly dew had already collected on the blades and she was soaked despite her nakedness. Her right cheek throbbed from where he’d hit her and she was afraid that her eye was black. She turned back and ran harder when she saw that he was gaining on her. She had to get away from him before he caught her and forced her to do things she didn’t want to.

“Gottcha you fucking bitch.” Rex exclaimed triumphantly as he grabbed her by the hair and hauled her back towards him. “I told you to never run away from me!” He forced her to knees and kicked her hard in the side of her ribcage. “Now we’ll continue what we started.”

Belle struggled as Rex tried to force her mouth open. There was no way in hell she was going to do what he was asking. It was something she’d never thought of doing with Shawn, the mere thought disgusted her. If he wanted it, he’d have to kill her or dislocate her jaw first.

“Open up bitch!” Rex said pulling sharply on Belle’s jaw. A loud pop reached his ears as the bones separated and he laughed at her howl of pain. “I pulled it out didn’t I you little whore? At least now I don’t have to worry about you biting me.”

Belle gagged as Rex forced his swollen rod into her mouth. This was wrong, she never wanted to do this with anyone. Crying she choked as he thrust himself in and out of her mouth, hitting the back of her throat each time. Fighting the nausea that was building in her stomach she clawed at his legs with her nails.

“That’s it bitch, suck it.” Rex moaned throwing his head back in ecstasy. Using her hair for leverage he pushed her face towards his hips as he thrust forward. “Oh that’s good.” He groaned as he felt pleasure he’d never felt in his life. ‘I know something else I’ve never felt with her.’ He thought making a change in his plans. He pulled out of her mouth and threw her to the ground. “I’ve got a better idea for the end of this.”

Belle noticed a familiar look his eye and screamed for help. He wanted something that she wanted to only share with Shawn and she was prepared to fight to keep that. She awkwardly scrambled over the ground on all fours in an attempt to hide in the grass.

Rex grinned stupidly as the sight of a naked Belle on her hands and knees. “Good idea there bitch.”

Belle knew she was defeated, that she had nothing left, when Rex caught her again. He pulled her arms forcefully behind her back, not caring that one arm was broken and not in a cast, and pressed her face into the ground. She was in a very venerable position and she knew that she couldn’t prevent it from happening now; she was caught. A scream of pain erupted as he forced himself inside her unprepared body, and she heard him say the sentence that scared the life out of her, “now you’ll carry my baby, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

***

“No!”

Shawn bolted upright as Belle’s anguished scream pierced through the darkened and silent room. For a moment he wasn’t sure if the scream had been in his dreams or not. The house was completely silent except for the sound Aimee breathing in the baby monitor.

“No please no!”

Shawn threw off his covers and jumped out of the bed. Now he knew for sure that she was screaming, now he was awake and hearing it. Dashing from the room he burst into his own bedroom, ready to save her from her attacker. The room was dark, but empty other than a thrashing Belle who was obviously in a deep sleep.

“Belle.” Shawn said crossing the room to stand next to the bed. Her screams were breaking his heart, she was obviously being hurt in her sleep and there was nothing that he could do unless she was awake. Shawn shook her slightly as was taken a back when she attacked him.

“Get your hands off me!” Belle screamed attacking Rex as he leaned down over her. There was no way he was going to hurt her again. “No!”

Shawn had been completely unprepared for the blow Belle dealt to his chest and he staggered backwards away from her. She jumped from the bed and made for him again. Shaking his head he moved to grab her hands before she could strike him again. “Belle, don’t.”

“Stop it, you’ve hurt me enough haven’t you?” Belle screamed kicking out at his shins to stop him. There was no way she was going to let him rape her again, she’d fight harder this time. “Get away!”

Hope shrieked as she watched Belle sink her teeth into Shawn’s neck as they struggled. She’d heard Belle’s screams and had woken Bo to go get Shawn. But it looked like they were too late, and it seemed to her that Belle looked like she was still asleep. “Isabella!”

Belle snapped awake at the sound of Hope’s voice. What was Hope doing in the bedroom while she was sleeping, had Aimee woken up and she’d not heard her. Sleep disoriented her and she was unsure of what was going on, only sure that someone had a hold of her hands.

“Fuck Belle.” Shawn shouted jumping back from her. He could feel blood running down his chest and watched it glisten on her lip. Grabbing a shirt off the floor he pressed it into side of his neck.

“Shawn, out now!” Hope commanded moving to shove him out of the room. “Get your father to look at your neck, leave Belle to me.” She turned to the obviously confused and scared girl and looked her with concern.

“Oh my god.” Belle sobbed as she wiped blood, Shawn’s blood, from her lip. Her heart lurched and her dream came back to her. She looked up at Hope who was still watching her intently.

“What is it sweetie?” Hope asked grabbing a tissue off the dresser and wiping the blood of Belle’s face. She was positive Shawn had not been attacking Belle, it wasn’t like him and he knew she was scared of being grabbed. Her logical explanation was, Belle had been having a nightmare.

“I just remembered something.” Belle said as her voice dropped to little more than a whisper. It was all clear to her now, the strange things she’d been noticing, the nausea. “I think I might be pregnant.”



Chapter 8



Shawn sat in silence as his mother left him in the guest room alone. He knew that he’d never make it to class now, he’d spent three hours in the emergency room and two more listening to his mother explain why Belle had attacked him. The story had broken his heart and shattered his dreams.

“Shawn?” Belle asked softly from outside the guest room door. “Can I come in?”

“Sure.” Shawn replied standing to meet her. He’d been afraid that she’d shy away from him again after what had happened and her coming to him made him feel slightly reassured that there might be hope for them after all. “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine.” Belle said bursting into tears at the sight of the white gauze bandage on the side of his neck. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry.” She sobbed as she felt her knees go weak underneath her.

“Hey, it’s ok.” Shawn said moving to catch her before she fell over. He wrapped his arms around her in a gently, but supportive, hug. “I know you didn’t mean it.” He kissed the top of her head and moved towards the bed. “I’m ok, one little cut never hurt me.”

Belle frowned as she sat down next to him. “I bit you Shawn.” She said softly. She still couldn’t believe she’d mistaken him for Rex, they were nothing alike. “I sunk my teeth into your skin and I hurt you.” She sobbed as he held her close.

“Sweetie, it’s not the first time you’ve bit me.” Shawn said with a chuckle. “I seem to remember you chomping down on my shoulder so you wouldn’t scream. I believe your excuse was, Brady did not need to hear you screaming my name in ecstasy.” He kissed her cheek before trialing them to her ear and nibbling on it.

Belle shook her head at his memory. “Only you’d say that at a time like this.” She leaned back from him and looked into his concerned eyes. She knew that Hope had told him everything, and the fact that he hadn’t turned her away made it all a little easier. “But we need to talk about something.”

“About the pregnancy?” Shawn asked leaning back on one arm. His neck was throbbing and he was exhausted. He felt a wall forming between them and he knew that it was because she was pregnant again, and it wasn’t his baby. It didn’t mean he didn’t love her anymore, but that things had changed for them.

“I’ve got two options.” Belle said nodding her head at him. She’d spent the past two hours trying to make a decision for herself, but had come up to a wall before she could decide. She just hoped Shawn could be open to help her. “I’m either having an abortion or giving the baby up for adoption. I am not keeping it.”

Shawn’s jaw dropped momentarily when she mentioned abortion; it was the one thing in the world that he was dead set against. But in this case he just might be able to shut away his conscience. If there was no baby, then things could be ok for them. But would they be able to live with themselves if they agreed to kill an unborn baby. Swallowing hard he looked straight into her eyes. “Ok, which will it be?”

Belle smiled at his answer. She’d been deathly afraid he’d blow up and throw her out of his life for even considering it. “I don’t know.” She admitted takin his hand in her good one. “I thought that maybe we’d decide together.”

“Even though I’d rather see a baby given a chance, this is your decision Belle.” Shawn said gently layer his hand on her leg. “I can’t make it for you.”

“Will you still love me if I’m carrying another man’s baby?” Belle asked as tears threatened to fall again. She was tired of crying, she just wanted to be happy again. If Shawn couldn’t love her then she’d have the abortion, his love was something she could not live without. “Will I be able to see Aimee if I carry this baby to term?”

“I would never keep you from seeing Aimee.” Shawn said wishing this new baby would just vanish so they could all start to heal. This new development was the salt being rubbed into their open wounds. “And I will never stop loving you. It will be hard for me to watch you carry this baby, I wish it were mine. But remember, I will always be here for you.”

“Thank you.” Belle said wondering what she’d done to get a guy like him, she obviously didn’t deserve him. “Your mom and I talked while you and your dad were gone. She talked with me about what happened, how I needed to tell you how I was feeling and what was going through my head. I thought she was crazy, but I think she was right. I’m not ashamed of what happened, it was beyond my control.”

“That’s right.” Shawn said wrapping an arm around her shoulder and laying his chin on the top of her head. “That’s what I want you to say every time you want to cry. This was not your fault in anyway, you didn’t ask for any of these things to happen. There are two people to blame, your father and Rex.”

“You’re absolutely right.” Belle said with a sleep nod. “But your mom mentioned something else to me. It seems that there is a great adoption agency in Chicago that will let us, or me, or who ever pick the baby’s new parents. We can meet them, run all kinds of checks and have a say in how the baby is raised. I thought it sounded pretty good, I like the openness factor.”

“I like it too, it means that strangers don’t get to run away with a baby you’ve carried for nine months.” Shawn agreed with a yawn. His pain medication along with physical and emotional exhaustion were catching up to him and he was sure he could sleep for a month. “How about we do this: tomorrow we’ll go see Dr. Bader and get you checked out. Then we’ll go see the agency and get the ball rolling. Sound good? Ok then, let’s get some sleep.”

“Ok.” Belle said feeling a pang of loneliness as she thought of going back to Shawn’s big bed alone. “Shawn, would you do me a small favor?”

“Sure, what?” Shawn asked noticing the slight look of fear on her face. She’d always been one to hate going to sleep at night, fearing that the door wasn’t closed or the oven wasn’t turned off. “Did you want me to go check the locks?”

“No.” Belle said biting down on her lip and looking at the floor. “Um… would you come over with me?” She blushed from her head to her toes before looking up. “Your room is big and lonely, I don’t like being by myself.”

Shawn’s heart stopped momentarily at her question. “Are you sure?” He asked not wanting her to make the wrong decision and regret asking. Lexie would die laughing if he came in for a second time that night for more stitches.

“I’m sure.” Belle said smiling at him. She knew deep down in her heart that asking him to stay with her was the right thing, she had no reason to be afraid of him. “Come on, I promise I won’t bite you.” She pulled him towards the door and giggled. “But I won’t promise I won’t do other things to you.” She stood on her tip toes and gave him a long, slow passionate kiss; just enough to light his desire.



Chapter 9




Six months later

“Have you picked a couple yet?” Hope asked as she watched Belle pour over adoption applications. After a legal struggle with Rex they’d finally gotten the go ahead. Seems the young man wasn’t too keen on having his child put up for adoption, but thankfully a Salem judge had terminated his parental rights and wished Belle luck. Hundreds of couples had qualified for the adoption and it was up to Belle to pick one set. “Want a hand?”

“Sure.” Belle said kicking out a chair for Hope. “I’d be able to concentrate better if this little monster would leave my ribs alone.” She shook her head as she rubbed her sore abdomen.

Hope laughed as Belle winced again. “Do you remember what it was like with Aimee?” She asked placing her hand on Belle’s stomach. Belle had avoided letting anyone become attached to the baby, but she’d never stopped her. “Oh, a little soccer player.”

“Ugh.” Belle groaned with a nod. “I remember one night all too well. The night I stayed here to be exact. I had that ugly bruise on my back and Shawn had one on his chest. Served him right for holding me all night long. Speaking of Aimee though, have you seen her since she and mom got back from their trip?”

“Well she’s changed a little in the past month.” Belle said grinning. Her mother had insisted on taking Aimee to Hawaii for a month so Belle could adjust to her pregnancy and it had been a long hard month. “Our Shawn look alike now has blonde hair and blue eyes! Oh it’s so cute! She lost all that long hair she hand and it’s come back in the color of mine!”

Hope laughed at the thought of her granddaughter looking just like her mommy. “I told you she’d be just like you. Zac was the same way, blond as a toddler and dark like the rest of us now.” She tossed the application aside and picked up another. “Are her eyes like yours or are the darker?”

“Way darker, almost black.” Belle replied shaking her head. “I won’t be surprised if they’ll stay brown.” Something on the paper Hope was holding caught her eyes and she reached out to take it. “Hey look at this woman. Stay at mom with two adopted teenagers. Says here that they’re looking to adopt a couple more children since they can’t have their own. They’re listed under the infertile female category and it says here that she had an abusive ex husband who ruined her reproductive organs during a stabbing.” She covered her mouth to hide a sob that threatened to leak out. “Oh that poor woman.”

“It sounds like she knows what you’ve been through.” Hope said wrapping an arm around Belle’s shaking shoulders and giving her a kiss on the cheek. “It’s ok to cry honey. I know you’ve been holding it in for a while now. Let it out.”

“No.” Belle said straightening up and wiping her eyes on her sweater. “I won’t cry anymore, crying means that he’s won, and I’ve been the winner.” She turned the application over and finished reading the information. “They own a ranch at the base of the Rockies in Colorado.” He turned to her second mother and giggled, “if we tell Zac he’ll want to go too, they’ve got horses. I think we have a winner.”

“Glad it’s over?”

“I didn’t realize that it would be this much work.” Belle said pushing the papers into a pile. “I don’t understand how some of these people made it into the agency to start with. I mean, one couple lived in a one room house and barely made enough money to get by. How does that qualify them for raising a baby? I know money doesn’t matter, but basic needs are expensive for a baby.”

“I understand what you mean.” Hope said nodding her head. When Shawn had been born it had been hard times for her and Bo, until they got settled in. But it still cost thousands of dollars to raise a child. “You’ll have to run them by Shawn when he gets home. Speaking of the devil.”

Shawn slammed the back door as he stomped into the house. Tossing his briefcase on the floor he kicked off his shoes and shrugged his jacket off.

“Hard day?” Belle asked taking in Shawn’s appearance. His hair was ruffled, most likely from running his fingers through it one too many times, and his tie was hanging loose. “I know you didn’t leave looking like that this morning, I did that tie for you.”

Shawn looked up at Belle with tears in his eyes. He’d thought that is job would be tiring, but he didn’t expect it to be emotionally damaging. “I need to talk to you about something.”

Fear soared through Belle’s body at the sound of his voice. There was a pained look in his eyes and she wondered for a moment if it had something to do with Rex or her father. “Shawn you’re scaring me.”

“I’m sorry.” Shawn said wringing his hands. He had to ask a favor of her, one that he knew would be difficult for her to deal with. “I need you to do something for me.” He crouched next to her chair and took her hands in his. “Do you think that you could show your scars to a four year old little girl?”

Belle gasped at what he was asking her. So far only her mother, he doctors and a legal photographer had seen her face, and even those people caused her to feel ashamed. “You don’t know what you’re asking me.” She said as panic welled inside her chest and she found herself looking for a way out.

“Calm down.” Shawn said in a soothing tone. “I have a little girl who had most of her body burned in a fire set by her father. He lost a large sum of money and had bookies on his back, ready to kill him if he didn’t pay up. So he decided to claim the insurance money on his wife and daughter. He drugged them and set fire to their beds.” He stumbled over his words as he watched her cry. “The sprinklers saved their lives, but not her skin. She looks at me from behind her hair and won’t say a word. I talked to Lexie and my supervisor, and they thought that maybe you could help.”

“You don’t know what you’re asking me.” Belle said wondering if she was just trying to see her face. He’d expressed that the bandage was starting to bother him, but she wasn’t ready to lose it. “You don’t understand what that will do to me.”

“Belle, it won’t do anything to you.” Shawn said slightly annoyed. She had been given permission to remove the bandage months ago, but she refused. “If anything it may help you. You need to stop hiding.”

Hope shook her head at the two young adults who were about to give grounds for a divorce before they were even married. “Shut up the both of you before you dig yourselves in deep and say things you don’t mean.” She said sharply. “Shawn, be nice before I smack you. You need to understand what Belle feels. And Belle, I hate to say it, but honey he’s right. It would do you a world of good to take off that thing. What are you going to do when Aimee starts asking questions?”

“I’ll do it.” Belle said glumly. Aimee had already developed a curiosity for the injured side of her face, and had begun to pick at the edges of the bandage. “But not for you, for Aimee and this little girl.” She said to Shawn. She was hurt by the way he’d spoken to her, she’d thought that he’d understood that she wasn’t ready.

“Fine.” Shawn said storming off. He didn’t feel like getting into a huge argument with her, he was just too tired. “I’ll be in the guest room going over my notes.” He sent her a look that told her that he was upset with her and that he would come to her when he felt ready. “Don’t wait up for me.”
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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

November 24th, 2004, 6:47 pm #8

A Shawn and Belle fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC17.


Chapters 10 - 19

Chapter 10



Belle groaned in frustration at her daughter as a spray of water was sent in her direction and a wail of protest was issued. Her large size made it difficult to do things with Aimee, and since she’d decided to be fussy during her bath, and try mommy’s patience. “Come on Aimee, we’re almost done.”

“Want a hand?” Shawn asked as he watched her struggle with the obviously unhappy little girl. Belle was soaked and he couldn’t help up smile at the soap bubbles in her hair. “Looks like you’re the one getting the bath.”

“She’s all yours.” Belle said pushing herself to her feet and trying to stretch her kinked up back. “She’s decided that there will be no hair washing tonight.” She sat down on the closed toilet lid and watched as Shawn quickly sweet talked their little girl. “I don’t know if it’s me or her who’s more aggravated.”

“Don’t get yourself all worked up.” Shawn said quickly washing Aimee’s blonde hair and wrapping her squirming body in a soft towel. “You’ll be able to do things like this as soon as you’ve had the baby.” He looked down at her frowning face and felt a tug on his heart. “Hey, don’t look so dejected.”

“I’ve been going through all those forms today.” Belle said as Aimee accidentally hit her in the face with her waving arms. “It’s all a little overwhelming right now.” She grabbed Aimee’s small hand before she could be hit again.

“I’ll sit down with you after we get her in bed.” Shawn said trying to calm his crying daughter. It was unlike her to be so fussy and he wondered if she was getting sick. “If that’s what you want that is.”

“I thought you had an all nighter?” Belle asked taking Aimee and heading towards the nursery. “That’s what you said when we were downstairs.”

“I’m sorry.” Shawn said pulling a sleeper out of the drawer and handing it to her. “I lied. I was annoyed with the way you reacted to my question and I guess I was trying to make you angry or hurt. I’m sorry.”

“You had a bad day, it’s happened before.” Belle said shrugging her shoulders and tickling her daughter. Aimee screamed in response. “I just wasn’t in the mood for your attitude. And I don’t think I’m ready to go with out the bandage just yet.”

“You don’t have to go with out it all the time.” Shawn said wrapping his arms around her waist and nuzzling the back of her neck. “I just feel like you’re hiding from me, and you don’t have to. I miss seeing all your face.”

“But it’s not my face Shawn.” Belle replied standing Aimee and watching her attempt to walk forward. “It’s not what you loved to caress before. It’s not the same face as you’re used to.”

“Your mom told me it looks amazing compared to a few months ago.” Shawn said sticking his tongue out at Aimee and chuckling when she did it back. “Have I ever judged you before Isabella? No. What makes you so scared to show me?”

“I don’t know.” Belle admitted pulling Aimee close to her. “I keep feeling like I need to look like the old me for people to like me. Maybe it’s vanity, I don’t know. But I do know that I’m scared.”

“Don’t be scared.” Shawn said smoothing Aimee’s ruffled hair. “You don’t have to worry about anyone who loves you feeling repulsed or afraid of you. They all love you the same way they did before you got hurt. And as for Aimee, the older she is when she sees you for the first time, the harder it will be for her.”

“I never thought of it that way.” Belle said turning around to face him. “She’s never been around any, well, different people other than me.”

“Da da.” Aimee said reaching out to her father.

“You’re not different Belle.” Shawn said taking Aimee and holding her high over his head. “You are an abuse survivor, and that’s something that you’ll have to have with you for the rest of your life. But only you have to know it. Ok, so you’ve agreed to see Kasey, the four year old who started our argument. You have an appointment to have your bandage changed on Monday May 21st at one and I see her at twelve fifty. How about I just let you take her to the appointment?”

“That’s sounds good to me.” Belle said watching as Shawn slowly rocked their daughter to sleep. “Shawn, what if I decide to leave the bandage off?”

“Then you start a different healing process.” Shawn replied placing Aimee in the crib and ushering Belle from the room. “One that starts with Rex’s trial the first week of July. You have to show your scars to the jury and I’m going to be there for that. It’ll be easier on you if it’s not a surprise on me and my family at the trial.”

“I know.” Belle said wondering if she had the courage to show him the mutilated side of her face. “I’m afraid of the reaction of everyone. I want the jury to feel sorry for me so they’ll lock Rex away. But I don’t want you to feel sorry for me.”

“I love you Isabella.” Shawn said taking her in his arms and holding her gently. “I hate your father and Rex for what they’ve done to you. It’s their fault that you’re scared and venerable, you had nothing to do with it. But you have to understand that my family and I do feel sorry for you, it’s a natural Horton Brady reaction. But I love you too much to be consumed by my sympathy.”

“I love you too.” Belle said kissing his cheek softly. “I’ll make my decision on Monday whether I leave it off or on, but if I do leave it off, I’ll be bringing bandages home with me incase I change my mind.”

“That’s fine with me.” Shawn said kissing her back. “Now, you said you had forms to go through. Anything you want to share with me?”

“Actually yes.” Belle said moving from his arms and picking up the folder containing the adoption information. “I think I may have found the perfect family.”

***

“Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Horton is ready to see you now.” Cassie Brady said gently to the nervous couple. She knew that they were meeting with Mickey because they wanted to adopt Rex and Belle’s baby and she like the look of them. “Can I get you something to drink?”

“Water would be great.” Shannen Johnson replied. Her nerves were already on edge and she knew that coffee would make them worse.

“All right.” Cassie said with a smile. “Come right this way.”

Shawn and Belle looked up as Mickey’s office door opened. Cassie showed a young couple into the room and quickly got them glasses of water before turning to leave. She gave Shawn a thumbs up, her signal of approval, before closing the door.

Belle smiled at the couple she’d chosen. Shannen Johnson was an athletic looking blonde with emerald green eyes. She wasn’t dressed in a business suit like some of the couples that she and Shawn had spoken to earlier in her pregnancy, but wore a simple turtleneck sweater over fitted blue jeans. Simon Johnson was her image of a cowboy with the ruffled blonde hair, blue eyes with the plaid shirt and jeans. Only accessory missing was a cowboy hat.

“Thank you for coming.” Mickey said as the young couple seated themselves opposite Shawn and Belle. “I’d like you to meet Isabella Black and Shawn Brady.” He waited until the group bad exchanged greetings before continuing. “A few months back you applied to adopt Baby Black who is due to arrive in just a few weeks. Does this offer still stand?”

“Yes sir.” Shannen said smiling at her husband. “We’re looking to adopt a few more children as well in the next few years. We’ve always wanted a big family. Adoption is our only option and it’s nice to know that we can help children have a better chance at life. Oh, Miss Black, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to infer that you can’t give your baby a good chance.” She blushed knowing she’d just insulted the young woman.

“I know what you mean.” Belle said with a giggle. “But you’re right. I can’t give my baby the best chance, and it has nothing to do with money or love. There are a few things you should know. Shawn and I have an eleven month old baby girl at home already. My father wasn’t happy about me being pregnant and after the baby was born I was married off to another man. I was abused and raped. That’s how this baby was conceived. I don’t think I could love her as much as Aimee because of the way she was conceived. I think I might resent her, and that’s no way for a child to be raised.”

“You’re not the first mother to think that way.” Shannen said reaching out and giving Belle’s hand a squeeze. “Quite a few of the children we’ve applied for have come about the same way. But while we’re being honest there are a few things you should know about the way we’ve raised our body. We were twenty six when we adopted Matthew and Brandon and they were eleven. They came from an abusive home and we couldn’t control them at first. Afraid of sending them to public school I started to teach them at home. They flourished and I continued until May when the both graduated with high school degrees. I didn’t teach them the usual school curriculum. I added in useful courses like horse handling, sewing and cooking. We run a bed and breakfast in the summer months and the boys help out with the business. I’d like to continue to raise my children in this way and a lot of parents think that it’s no way for children to be brought up. That’s why we don’t already have more children.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad to me.” Belle said looking over at Shawn.

Shawn looked from Belle to Mickey and laughed. “My little brother would kill to stay with you guys. He loves horses.” He wrapped an arm around Belle’s shoulders and shook his head. “But I agree, that doesn’t sound bad at all. No politics to deal with like in public schools, and they actually learns a trade of sorts to get them started.” He looked down at Belle’s smiling face. “So?”

“I think that I would like very much if you and your husband would adopt my baby.” Belle said softly. “You sound like the perfect parents and your boys were lucky.”

“Thank you.” Simon said as Shannen threw herself into his arms. He was Irish born and his accent was hard to understand so his wife usually did all their talking. “You’ve just made us very happy.”

Belle smiled at Mickey who was drawing up paperwork for them. “Not as happy as you’ve made me.” She said as Shawn kissed her cheek. “Not even close.”



Chapter 11



“Good afternoon Dr. Watson.” Belle said as she quietly slipped inside his office, Kasey Young’s hand tucked securely inside her own. Kasey had cried when they’d told her that she would be going with Belle today instead of Shawn, but she’d adjusted to Belle’s soft tone and patient ways.

“Good afternoon Belle.” Dr. Ian Watson said smiling at her over his shoulder. She was one of his most delicate patients, and he had taking a liking to her. Her injury had hit close to home for him and knowing what the results could be made him feel better. “And who is this young lady?”

“Dr. Watson, I’d like to you meet Kasey.” Belle said giving Kasey a little push forward. Shawn had instructed her to get the little girl comfortable with the doctor at all costs, he was taking over her treatment. After hearing the detailed story from Janet Young made it easier to connect with the child. “Kasey, this is my doctor, his name is Ian Watson.”

“It’s nice to meet you Kasey.” Ian said extending his hand to shake her small one. She hesitated, peering out from behind her long brown hair, before softly placing hers into his. “Are you Belle’s little sister?”

Kasey shook her head at the silly doctor. Belle had blonde hair, not brown.

“Gee, you’re both so beautiful I thought you must be sisters.” Ian said winking at Belle. He could see the white bandages that adorned the small girls face, and poked out at the neck and sleeves of her shirt and knew why she was there. “Are you sure you’re not at least related?”

Belle’s heart soared at the giggle that chimed from Kasey. “Kasey is here to see what a healing burn looks like.” She explained gently as the girl started to retreat from the middle of the room. “Her mommy thought that is would be good to see what my cheek looks like after seven months of healing.”

“Kasey do you know what degree your burns were?” Ian asked crouching down so he was more on her level. He’d never treated a child so small before and knew that she was due in to see him later that week. She held up 3 fingers on one hand and two on the other. “Second and third?”

“Kasey has burns on her face, and upper body.” Belle explained taking off her sweater and laying it on a nearby chair. She found it warm in the office and wondered if she was going into labor early, she’d been like this with Aimee. “Second on her face and third on her body. She gets new bandages later this week.”

“Kasey, why do you hide behind your hair sweetie?” Ian asked brushing his own light colored hair out of his eyes. She was a pretty girl, he could tell by her eyes. “You’re too pretty to hide. Do you think that for today while you’re here you could tuck hit behind your ears?”

Belle held her breath as she watched Kasey raise her head and look straight into the doctors eyes. If Kasey could show her bandages to a doctor and herself, then there might be hope for her to recover emotionally. Little fingers flew to her face and the thick, long hair was quickly discarded behind her ears. Tears welled up in Belle’s eyes and she wished she had the courage to do that for Shawn.

“See Kasey, that wasn’t so hard.” Ian said as the young girl took a few steps forward. He noticed Belle’s tears and chuckled. “Look at her. What a cry baby.”

Kasey turned to look at Belle. She didn’t understand the tears, but she understood the baby. She placed her hand gently on the bulging stomach and yelped when something inside touched her.

“That’s my baby.” Belle said giggling through her tears. “It kicks like that all the time. Sometimes it hurts, other times it tickles.” She beamed at the smile she received from Kasey.

“What do you say you be my helper today?” Ian asked softly. “I could sure use a helper, this patient here is tends to hide her face when ever I take off her bandage. If you help her hair, then she couldn’t hide.”

Kasey smiled happily at the prospect of helping someone. Her mommy loved it when she helped her, and she loved to help.

Well then, let’s get you up here.” Ian said gently lifting her up onto the examination table and standing her up. “And we’ll get Belle to sit right here.” He motioned for Belle to sit in front of the girl and winked at them both. “And now, you hold her hair in a pony tail, watch your hands, and now, we begin.”

“What happens if I decide to leave my bandage off this time?” Belle asked before the doctor could touch her. “I mean, if I decide to show Shawn and his family what it looks like underneath this?”

“Then I give you a box of preformed bandages that I have on file and I show you how to put them on yourself.” Ian replied easily peeling the sticky edges from her skin. “Then you go home and start over.”

***

Shawn groaned as he leaned back in his chair. Belle’s appointment had been over for two hours, and still she and Kasey weren’t back. Fear was starting to settle in, wrapping itself around his heart. “Where are you Isabella?”

Shawn’s head snapped up at the sound of his office door opening. Kasey boldly jumped into the room, her face smiling, and her long hair done in an intricate style, away from her face. The white bandages were gone, replaced by the neutral color of the special ones Belle wore, the ones she was supposed to be measured for on Friday. “Kasey?”

Kasey grinned at the man sitting in the chair. She was pretty again, the white was gone off her face, and she was wearing make up for the first time. With a giggle she charged into his arms, wrapping her small arms around his neck and squeezing with all her might.

Shawn was taken off guard by the child and gasped when she jumped into his arms. She’d never even shaken his hand, not that he hadn’t offered it. A face in the doorway caught his attention and he noticed Belle poking half her face around the door. Her right hand lay on the doorframe, a white box clutched firmly in her fingers.

“Belle took me to the salon!” Kasey exclaimed excitedly still hugging his neck. “I got my hair washed, and cut, and look at what the lady did!” She jumped back and spun around, showing off the shorter neater style that made her look like a little kid again. “And I got my fingernails and toenails painted blue! Oh, and look what Ian did! I got new bandages!”

“I see that.” Shawn said locking eyes with Belle and silently thanking her. “You look very pretty. Hey, is that a new sweater?”

“Yeah.” Kasey said tugging on the sleeves of the baby pink sweater set. “Ms. Black bought it for me when she saw Belle and I in the salon. She said that since her granddaughter is too young to wear such pretty clothes that she thought I should have it.”

“That was very nice of her.” Shawn said grinning at her again. She’d done a 360 in less than 4 hours and it was an amazing sight. “And you are wearing make up too aren’t you? You look pretty with that shade of lipstick. Does it taste like strawberries?”

“Yes it does.” Kasey replied raising an eyebrow at him. “How’d you know that?”

Shawn grinned at her expression, it was much like his mothers when he knew things before he should. “Just a guess.” He winked at Belle before she ducked away so he could continue to talk to her. “I know another special lady who likes that very same lipstick.”



Chapter 12



Shawn silently kicked himself in the ass as he made his way into the darkened house. Paperwork and research had caused him to spend hours in the office, hours that he could have spent with Belle. He was sure she’d removed the bandage, she’d never brought home a sterile box before now. He quietly left his briefcase on the table, and dropped his jacket on top of it.

“Come on Aimee, I know it hurts but you need to sleep.” Belle said softly as she paced the Brady’s living room with her crying daughter. “Shhh…”

Shawn’s head whipped around at her voice. It was past midnight, she should be asleep. He headed through the kitchen and stopped short when he saw her in the living room. A strip of white medical tape looped around her neck and he wondered if an infection had been discovered that day. Her robe draped around her expanding figure and the scent of vanilla mixed with roses greeted his nose. It was obvious she’d just gotten out of the shower, but the white tape made him uneasy. Aimee was a different story. Her small face was red from crying, and her small hands were clamped over her ears. “Belle, what’s wrong?”

“Ear infection.” Belle responded with out even thinking. She hadn’t heard him come home, but she’d felt his presence when he’d walked into the room, and it comforted her. “Your mom took her into see Lexie, but all they can do is give her medication. She’s only slept for about half an hour since this morning, and she’s so tired.”

“Is there anything else we can do?” Shawn asked as his heart broke for his hurting daughter. He hated to see any of his girls in pain, and he wasn’t sure if he could handle her crying, he had to do something.

“Hope her medication makes her feel better and she goes to sleep.” Belle said turning to face him. She completely forgot about the dressing over her cheek and she shook her head. “You mom said tried blowing warm air from a hair dryer in her ear, but she just screamed harder. I brought her down here so your parents could get some sleep.”

Tears welled in Shawn’s eyes at the new bandage. It was just like the ones that she’d worn before her release from the hospital, the ones he’d only seen in pictures. “Belle, what happened?” He asked as he stepped forward and touched the cotton material with his fingers.

“Oh.” Belle said reaching to her cheek and noticing the bandage. “I’m sorry Shawn. I just got out of the shower when she started screaming again, I forgot to take this off. I didn’t want you to see this.”

“Is it another infection?” Shawn asked moving his hand from Belle’s cheek to Aimee’s head. He gently rubbed his fingers along her neck and shoulders, the same way he did when Belle cried.

“No.” Belle said with a giggle. It was obvious Shawn had not heard what she had said, or he wouldn’t have asked that last question. “Shawn, my bandages are waterproof remember? If I had on my normal bandage I wouldn’t have this one on. I left it off Shawn.”

Shawn’s eyes lit up at her words. “You did?” His fingers moved back to her cheek and a look of confusion crossed his face. “But why this?”

“I can’t get the new skin wet, I had to cover it to shower.” Belle said as Aimee’s screams, which had started to quiet, resumed. Shawn’s hand flew back to his daughter and she soothed slightly. “I, I… I thought I was ready to show you, but now I’m not so sure.”

“Don’t be afraid Belle.” Shawn said reaching out and taking Aimee from her arms. His hand was getting tired of reaching out and touching the small girl. “Kasey told me that you look beautiful now, I told her you were always beautiful, just like she is. You did an amazing job today. Her mother has never seen her so happy.”

“Ms. Young wasn’t upset that I took her out was she?” Belle asked pulling her robe tightly around her body. “I tried to reach her before hand, but I couldn’t get her to answer her cell.”

“No she wasn’t angry.” Shawn reassured her. “She was shocked that you’d do that for her little girl thought. It seems as no one had ever done anything like that for any of them, her husband scared all her friends away and Kasey wasn’t allowed to go play with other children.”

“That’s sad.” Belle said vowing to make sure Aimee had hundreds of friends of every race and kind. “I’d like to see them both again, Kasey is like a little magnet. The girls in the salon did everything she asked them and they all loved her. Mom was so taken with her, I had to take her credit card before she bought out the whole store. It was just too cute.”

“And it was worth it.” Shawn said as he felt Aimee snuggle into his shoulder. ‘Like mother like daughter.’ He thought with a chuckle. “She told me everything that happened that night, right down to what her father said as he stuck a needle in her arm. The bastard told her that when she woke up she’d be in a better place where only people just like her could go. He told her that only white people would be there and that she could do what ever she wanted while there. ****, how could someone do that to their own daughter?”

“I don’t know.” Belle said as tears slid down her cheek. “People are cruel, too cruel for me. I wish Aimee would grow up in a better time, I don’t want her to know that these things go on in the world.”

“But Aimee will be taught the same things we were.” Shawn said pulling her to his chest with his free arm. It felt like heaven to have both his girls in his arms at the same time. “Aimee will know that everyone is the same even if they look a little different. Just think of the friends she’ll have. Zac will teach her how to get into trouble, when JT comes to visit he’ll teach her how to play fair, and Theo will show her that everyone can play together. They’ll all be close, just like Phillip, Mimi, Brady, you and I were.”

“I hope you’re right.” Belle said smiling up at him. “I just want her to understand the world we live in. I want her to understand why I wasn’t here for her first few months, why her sister lives in Colorado, and why you and I weren’t married before she was born.”

“She will.” Shawn said kissing her softly. “And you and I will have all those answers for her someday. But right now, let’s get her into bed.”

“Ok.” Belle said grabbing the bottle and soother that she’d brought down with her. “And Shawn, maybe we can work on that last one, what do you think?”



Chapter 13




Belle winced in pain as she carefully unwound the tape from around her neck. She and Shawn had fallen asleep before she could take it off and now she was paying the price. “Ouch!”

“Do you need some help sweetie?” Hope asked as she heard Belle yelp from the bathroom.

“Um…” Belle said biting down on her lip. Hope had only glanced her face the day before, and it scared her to think of having her second mother a close proximity when it was revealed. But if she kept this up, she’d rip all her skin off. “Actually yes.”

“What are you trying to do?” Hope asked as she quietly pushed her way into the bathroom. She was shocked by the white bandage on her daughters face. “Belle?”

“It was only to keep the water off when I showered last night.” Belle said calming her fears. “But Shawn and I fell asleep before I could take it off and the tape is really sticking to me.”

“Let me do it.” Hope said sitting the very pregnant girl down on the closed toilet lid. “Here’s a hint for future reference.” She opened the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of baby oil. “Rub a little bit of this on over the tape, get it good and wet, and it will pull right off.” She quickly worked as she explained to Belle. “Like so.”

Belle closed her eyes as Hope pulled the tape away from her neck. There were only five pieces of tape holding the cotton to her face, and now one was gone. “I never thought of that.”

“Do you want me to take off the rest for you?” Hope asked softly. She knew that Belle was afraid to show her cheek to anyone and didn’t want to make her feel afraid like she always did. “I can just wet it for you if you’d like.”

“No, you can finish it.” Belle said in a shaky voice. She looked up and caught the older and wiser eyes of Shawn’s mother, and noticed that the two shared the same chocolate color.

“Honey, no one will ever look at you like you’re different.” Hope said softly as she saw the fear and shame in Belle’s blue eyes. “We all love you and anyone who sees you as different is the one who should wear a mask. You’re a loving mother, and you’re beautiful. One half of your face possesses more beauty than most people do in their entire body.”

“Thank you.” Belle said holding back tears. The Brady’s always knew what to say to make her feel better, even little Zac.

***

“Belle, can you help me?” Zac asked as he stood near the door holding his jacket.

“What’s up sweetie?” Belle asked as she stepped into the kitchen. She moved over next to the small boy when he motioned for her to.

“Tomorrow is mother’s day.” Zac whispered hoping his mother was still in the shower. “I want to take my money and get my very special mommy something from the store. I can’t get her to take me, and daddy and Shawn are gone. Will you take me?”

“Are you sure you want me to take you?” Belle asked as her heart went out to the small child. She didn’t go out unless he absolutely had to.

“Stop it.” Zac said as she moved her hand to her cheek. “You don’t need to care. You’re pretty to your family, and that’s all that matters. I think you’re almost as pretty as mommy, and that makes you one of the prettiest people in the world.”

The Next Morning

“Where are you going Zac?” Hope asked as her youngest son jumped up from the breakfast table and headed for the stairs.

“I’ll be right back.” Zac said looking back at his family. He and his daddy had made breakfast for Belle and his mommy, and they all looked very happy. “You all stay there.”

“Do you know what he’s up to?” Hope asked Bo, raising an eyebrow at him.

“Nope.” Bo replied finishing up his pancakes and bacon.

Belle concealed her grin behind her cup. She knew that Zac had spent two hours in the flower shop and then another twenty in the jewelry as she stood outside as he asked her to. Bo had given him two hundred dollars to get something for his mother, and he made sure to spend every cent.

“What are you two up to Brady?” Hope asked not believing a word her husband said. She was surrounded by romantics and didn’t put it past any of them to do something for her, or even Belle.

“Close your eyes!” Zac called from the living room. “All of you.” He waited a few seconds before calling out again. “Are they closed?”

“Yes.” Hope said with a smile.

Zac worked quickly, setting his gifts on the table. “Hold on one second.” He ran back into the living room and lifted his niece from where he’d left her on the floor for a second. He placed her in her seat in the kitchen before sitting back down. “Ok, open them.”

Belle gasped when she saw the box in front of her; Hope had one identical to it. “What’s this?” She asked looking over at Shawn who had a confused look on his face as well. “And … how did Aimee get in here?”

“Happy mothers day.” Zac said kissing his mothers cheek before moving to give one to Belle. Shawn didn’t know what to get, and Aimee’s too little, so I did it.”

“Zac, how did you afford it?” Shawn asked glancing at his father who shrugged his shoulders. “You didn’t come to me for money.”

“I did it all by myself.” Zac said taking money out of his pocket and handing it to his father. “All by my self. I do have 5 years of birthday money in my bank.. or I did.”

“Zac, you were saving that for a dirt bike.” Hope said looking at the beautifully wrapped boxes. “Who wrapped these for you?”

Zac grinned at his mother, she always had questions. “Gran.” He said with a giggle. “She came over yesterday while Abby was here and she did it. She did a good job!”

“I think they’re lovely.” Hope said reaching out and undoing the bright red bow. “But honey, you didn’t have to spend your money on me.”

“I wanted to.” Zac insisted becoming impatient. “And I wanted to get something nice for Belle too. So stop asking questions and open them!”

Belle carefully undid the bow with shaky hands. Zac, a six year old child, had gone out and bought her a mothers day gift, and she’d had no idea. “Zac, how did you do this?”

“Open it and I’ll tell you.”

Belle burst into tears when she opened the box. A dozen red roses, six white roses and one yellow rose lay decoratively inside with a pink ribbon and baby’s breath. Draped carefully around the ribbon was a thin gold chain and pendant. WORLDS GREATEST MOM was written in delicate writing with a single heart shaped stone, Aimee’s birthstone. “Oh Zac!”

“The red roses are from Shawn, the white from Aimee and the yellow from the baby.” Zac said matter of factly. “Yellow roses mean, um… oh yeah, friendship. That’s the perfect flower from the baby. You will always be friends, no matter where you live.

***
“One more piece.” Hope said carefully holding the fabric to Belle’s cheek in case she really didn’t want to remove it. The young girl was lost in thought and she hadn’t wanted to disturb her. “What I can see looks really good Belle. How does it feel?”

“Tight.” Belle replied coming out of her daze and stretching her mouth open. “I was supposed to put a cream on it after my shower, but I never got to it.” She closed her eyes as Hope pulled the bandages a little way away from her face. “I…”

“Do you want me to let you do this honey?” Hope asked placing it back against her cheek and smiling. “It won’t hurt my feelings any if you do this on your own.”

“No, do it.” Belle said opening her eyes again. “I need to have this done; I need for someone other than a doctor to see me.”

“Ok then.” Hope said slowly pulling back on the bandage until it was completely released from her face. “Oh honey, it doesn’t look bad at all.” She lightly stroked the raised skin with her fingers before leaning forward and placing a kiss on it. “It doesn’t look bad at all.”

Belle collapsed in to Hopes arms and cried. Hope had kissed her, that meant that she wasn’t afraid to touch her. “Oh Hope.” She sobbed pulling back.

“I love you like a daughter Isabella.” Hope said smiling softly at the teary girl. “But I’ll tell you, as a person with opinions, I have seen people with worse scars from acne problems.”

“Thank you.” Belle said drying her eyes and smiling. “I just wish I could use make up on it. But Dr. Watson said it would irritate the skin and hinder the healing process. I want to be able to have my surgery when planned.”

“You will.” Hope said hearing Aimee giggle from her room. She took the bottle of cream from Belle and gently smoothed it on her cheek and neck. “Someone is awake, why don’t you go to her. She will like to see you, since I’m sure you hid it from her yesterday, am I right?”

“Yes.” Belle said dropping her eyes. “I just hid it behind my hair though, I left the bandage off.” She sighed before shaking her head. “I’ll go get her before Shawn does.” She nodded at her mother and left the room. Softly she crept through the darkened bedroom and slipped into the nursery.

Aimee was standing up, holding onto the crib rail reaching for her bunny whom she’d thrown on the floor. She smiled at her mother and giggled.

“Hey sweet girl.” Belle said picking up the stuffed animal and handing it back to her daughter. Her ears had returned to their regular color and her smile meant she must be feeling better. “Did you have a good sleep? Oh you look so much happier today!” She bend to pick up the small child when, for the first time, Aimee said a word that she had never said before, reaching up to be picked up.

“Mama!”



Chapter 14




Belle smiled as Shawn approached her with tears in her eyes. He’d come down to breakfast late, and she’d been the only one sitting there. Her hair was pulled back from her face, her makeup, only lipstick and mascara, done, and her smile wide. “Shawn?”

“Oh Isabella.” Shawn said reaching out for her. From a distance he couldn’t even see her scars and the color Marlena had warned him about was gone. “Oh Belle, you look beautiful.”

“Thank you.” Belle said as she stood to hug him. Tears welled in her own eyes as she wrapped her arms around his chest and snuggled into him.

“I was expecting worse.” Shawn said with a chuckle. “Your mom had me terrified of what I might see when the bandages came off. She told me that there were thick deep scars with redness that would never fade. I think she was trying to prepare me for the worst, even though it wasn’t that bad.”

“She was.” Belle said nodding as he lightly stroked the skin. Her heart melted at the look of love and amazement in his eyes and she allowed the tears to slip out of her eyes. “It will get better too. I’ll still have the surgery, and the scars from that will be under my hairline. No more scars.”

“I don’t think you even need the surgery.” Shawn said kissing under her eye and trailing his lips down along her cheek to her neck. “You look beautiful, I just don’t know what to say.”

“Aimee called me Mama.” Belle said blushing crimson at that little fact. Aimee had started calling out dada when she was little more than five months old. “I went in with my hair back and she called me mama.”

“She knew that the real you was hidden under those bandages.” Shawn said kissing away her tears and holding her tightly. “She just needed to see her entire mother’s face. Oh I love you Isabella.”

“I love you too Shawn Douglas.” Belle said wincing as a pain shot through her abdomen. “Oh, oh, oh…” She said pulling back and doubling over in pain. “Oh, oh. I think it’s time. I think it’s time.”

Shawn immediately jumped into father mode. It may not be his baby, but it was his responsibility to make sure it arrived safe and sound. “Ok, let’s sit you down.” He said easing her back down into the chair she’d been in before. “Ok, you’ve got a long way to go from here. I’m going to call the Johnson’s, then I’ll call the hospital. I want you to sit there and wait until mom comes down.”

“Ok.” Belle said as the pain faded. She quickly looked at her watch to see how long there was between each contraction so she’d have a general idea on how long it would be. “Call one of your aunts to come get Aimee, or even Jenn if you have to.”

“I will, don’t you worry about anything.” Shawn said grabbing the cordless off the counter and heading for the stairs. “You just relax and stay calm, I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He dashed up the stairs towards his parents room. “Mom, come quick. It’s time, Belle’s in labor!”

***

“How is everything?” Shannen asked as she hurried up to Mrs. Brady. “Has she had the baby yet?”

“Not yet.” Hope said turning to smile at the young woman. “I’m glad you made it in time. The labor has been easy, but so far she hasn’t gotten very far. Only a few centimeters. But her water has broken, it broke early. She’s on an inducing drug now, they hope that the epidural they gave her will help too.”

“Do you know if I can see her?” Shannen asked as her husband started talking to the other Brady family members. “I’d like to see if I can be there when she gives birth, if she’ll let me that is.”

“She’s asking for you Shannen.” Shawn said poking his head out in the hallway. “And the doctor said it’s fine for you to be here, Belle already asked. It was the first thing she said when she got here.”

“Thank you.” Shannen said following him into the large room. Belle was sitting up on a bed, looking comfortable. “How are you feeling?”

“I feel fine.” Belle said rolling her eyes at herself. “I feel fine now I should say. I was feeling pretty awful for a while there. I guess things aren’t going as nicely as they’d like them to. I had Aimee with out any drugs and I barely made it to the hospital before she got here. I guess this one is going to be difficult like her father.”

“Simon is difficult too.” Shannen said giving Belle’s hand a squeeze. She wondered what the doctors were giving her and what the effects could be on the baby. “Don’t feel like you have to have drugs to speed up your labour if you don’t really need them.”

“Are you Shannen Johnson?” Karen Bader asked as she stepped into the room. “I’m Dr. Bader, Belle’s doctor. Congratulations on your baby by the way. I’ll give you a run down on Belle’s condition. Her labor is slow, too slow. Her water broke three hours ago and she has not dilated at all. Her breakage was complete, there is very little fluid left for the baby. We’ve given her an epidural to keep her comfortable and are dripping Potosin to speed things up a little. If we haven’t seen any results in a few hours we’ll take her for a C-Section, she’s already agreed to it. Don’t worry, we’ll do everything we can to keep both her and the baby safe.”

“Thank you Dr. Bader.” Shannen said shaking the woman’s hand. “I don’t want you to think that I don’t trust you, I have a sister who was induced for no good reason and there were problems with her baby. I don’t want that to happen with us.”

“Don’t you worry.” Karen said smiling. “This drug will only effect Belle. It stimulates the uterus and causes it to contract. It makes the labor more painful, but that’s why we gave her the epidural first.” She smiled at Belle who was wincing slightly. “I’d like to examine her now, if you two would step out into the hall.”

***

“One more Belle, come on you can do it.” Shawn said as he squeezed her hand in encouragement. “Come on, come on.”

“Ugh!” Belle cried as she pushed forcefully to expel the baby from her body. “I can’t Shawn, I can’t do this.” She dropped her head back in exhaustion. “I can’t.”

“Yes you can, come one Belle.” Shawn said kissing her head. “Come on, the Johnson’s’ want to meet their baby. Come on, so we can get home to Aimee.”

Belle screamed as another contraction ripped through her body. She pushed with everything she had and suddenly she felt a void.

“It’s a girl!” Dr. Bader exclaimed holding up the screaming baby for everyone to see. “Congratulations all of you, she’s beautiful!”

Belle sighed happily as she collapsed back into her pillow. It was over, the baby was here and she could finally move on with her family. “She’s lovely.”

Karen stood awkwardly holding the baby. She wasn’t sure who to give the child to, her mother, or her mother. “I…”

“You take her.” Belle said shaking her head in reply. “You’re her mother. You hold her.”

“Thank you.” Shannen said gladly accepting her baby and cradling her against her chest. “Oh.” She cried as the tiny baby wailed in protest to the cold air. “Thank you so much.”

Belle closed her eyes to block out the picture before her. It was her baby that she had just delivered, but someone else would be called mama. Someone else would be there when she took her first steps and said her first word. She opened her eyes, fighting the tears that wanted to spill. Glancing up at Shawn she noticed him looking at the small child with a longing in his eyes and suddenly she was afraid of her decision. ‘Am I doing the right thing? Can I give up my baby?’



Chapter 15 - Rated R




Belle sat quietly looking out of the window of her new house. Shawn had surprised her when she came home from the hospital with the news of their first home. She couldn’t help but be depressed over the four bedroom house that held one nursery, when deep down inside, she wanted it to have two. Shaking away the tears she wondered how she could miss a baby so much when it had been conceived as a result of a rape.

“Belle are you coming downstairs?” Shawn asked poking his head into the room. “Everyone’s here and Aimee’s going to throw a fit if someone doesn’t move that cake closer to her.”

“I’m coming.” Belle said slowly rising from her window seat and tossing the teddy bear onto the bed. Shannen and Simon had given Belle a teddy bear named Autumn before they boarded the plane for Colorado with the baby. They told her that fall was the nicest season on their farm and she was the nicest person they’d ever met. With that they boarded the aircraft with the baby, the baby Belle had never even held.

“You’re still thinking of her aren’t you?” Shawn asked as he noticed the depressed look on her face. He’d caught her crying in the weeks since the baby arrived and he didn’t know what to do for her. “I know it hurts honey. But this is for the best.”

“I know.” Belle said wiping away a stubborn tear, one that just didn’t want to obey her. “I know it is. Now it’s just you me and Aimee. But I can’t help but wonder if I did the right thing. I mean, she was a part of me too.” She balled up her fists and leaned against her chest. “Why couldn’t she have been yours? Why?”

“Shhh….” Shawn said holding her as tight as he could. Everyone had warned him that this would happen, and he was ready for it. “I know you wanted the baby to be mine, I did too. But that’s not what happened and there’s nothing we can do now but move forward. You have surgery in three weeks and then it’s a new beginning for us.”

“I know.” Belle said straightening up and composing herself. “I will stop crying Shawn. I won’t be like this forever. I just wish I could stop right now. I feel like I’d spiraling out of control on a rollercoaster.”

“It’s normal for you to feel like this.” Shawn insisted lifting her face so she could look into his eyes. “It’s ok for you to feel like this until you feel like you can’t control the things you do. Can you control the thing that you do?”

“Most of the time.” Belle said swallowing hard. She knew that he’d been talking to their mothers and Dr. Bader, but she had no idea that he could calm her like this. “I just feel like I can’t control my tears.”

“That’s ok.” Shawn said kissing her nose and rubbing his against it. “I love you. That’s what I want you to concentrate on. That and Aimee.”

“Ok.” Belle said pushing her hair out of her eyes. A squeal followed by Hope’s voice echoed through the quiet bedroom. “I think she has my sweet tooth.”

“I think you’re right.” Shawn said leading her from the room and guiding her down the stairs. “Now, let’s celebrate with our daughter and make sure she knows how much we love her. Think you can do that?”

“I know I can.” Belle said fingering the chain and pendant that hung around her neck and smiling. “Let’s do it.”

***

“Belle, are you in there?” Shawn asked tapping lightly on the bathroom door. He’d come home from work to find the house quite and Aimee gone. “Belle?”

“I’ll be out in a minute.” Belle called from the tub. She’d spent the past two hours in the warm water and she hated to get out. Rex’s trial began the following morning and she wasn’t sure if she could handle it. The tub was her way of relaxing. “How was work?”

“Boring.” Shawn called back as he undid his tie and tossed it into a corner. “I had a slow day. I wish that I’d get some cases that involved me using my brain. I did see Kasey today though. She had her first surgery two days ago. She looks great, in pain, but great. She said to say hi.”

“I’ll have to go over and see her.” Belle said pulling the plug on the tub and climbing out. “Your grandparents took Aimee for a few days. They said that with the trial starting tomorrow we’d probably have enough on our hands with out her around.”

“They’re probably right.” Shawn said unbuttoning his shirt and moving to search for something more comfortable. “How are you holding up? Are you sure you’re ready?” Her post partum depression had finally passed and now the trial was pressing down upon her.

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.” Belle said wrapping a large towel around her body and spritzing body mist on her arms and neck. She glanced in the mirror and frowned at the pale skin of her cheek. Her scar looked so good she feared what the jury would say the next day when they saw it. “Are you ready?”

“I’m just going to sit there and do nothing with Mom and Dad.” Shawn said grabbing a pair of sweats and turning back towards the bed. He stopped short at the sight of a nearly naked Belle sitting on the bed frowning. “Wow.”

“Wow what?” Belle asked looking up at him with a puzzled expression. She reached for a brush and pulled her hair out of the bun she’d put it in.

“I haven’t seen you in that little clothing since the last time we made love.” Shawn said trying to keep his body under control. He found himself aching for her at night and when she wasn’t around, and he wasn’t sure how much longer he could control himself. “That’s what’s wow.”

“Oh.” Belle said realizing she was still in her towel. “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking when I came out. If you could hand me my robe from behind you I’ll put that on.”

“Here you go.” Shawn said as they each stepped forward until they were only a foot or so apart. “You still wear vanilla.”

“I always have.” Belle said swallowing hard. His unbuttoned shirt showed his defined chest and she took a shaky breath. His body was doing things to her that she’d forgotten about, and it scared her. “I…”

Shawn didn’t give her a chance to speak. He crashed his lips down on top of hers, and pulled her gently against his chest. It had been too long since they’d kissed like this, since that night she’d had her nightmare and bit his neck. “Isabella.” He whispered breathlessly against her lips. “I need you.”

“I…” Belle said looking up into his eyes. The coca colored depths were begging for her and her body was yelling at her to go to him. She pressed her lips against his, knowing that if she got scared he’d stop.

Shawn lifted her from the floor and carried her to the bed. Gently he laid her back against the white comforter, careful not to hurt her or move too fast. He didn’t know what was happening to him, but he couldn’t control his need for her. It was like an animal had replaced his entire body and he fought to keep his touch gentle. “You are so beautiful.” He whispered bringing his lips to kiss her neck. Slowly he trailed down the visible skin, pushing the robe away as he went along.

Belle fought to keep her senses straight as Shawn’s touch became more needing and less loving. ‘I know it’s him touching me, I can calm down, I have to.’ She turned her head to the side to allow him easier access to her skin. She shivered as he gently spread the robe open and gently brought his lips to the newly exposed skin.

Shawn looked up at her closed eyes and wondered what she was thinking. He was trying so hard not to strip down and plunge inside her. “Belle, what are you thinking about?”

Belle forced herself not to cry as he asked her that question. All she could think about was Rex. She moaned shakily and hoped that he’d understand and stop. She couldn’t tell him not to touch her like that, it would tear him apart.

Shawn smiled at her moan. So far he’d only explored her breasts, gently kneading the soft flesh and nibbling on the peaked nipples. Taking the noise as approvial he kissed his way down to her navel before slowly inserting one finger inside her waiting core. Her body clamped down around him and he wished that it was his arousal and not his finger. “Oh Belle.”

“No!” Belle screamed bolting upright and pulling away from him. “No, no, no.”

Shawn jumped back from the bed at her reaction, not understanding what had happened. “Belle, what is it?” He asked reaching out to touch her cheek. “Belle…”

“No, please don’t.” Belle sobbed as her body seared with phantom pain. Memories of the brutal sexual attention Rex had given her flooded her mind and she screamed again. “No, please don’t hurt me again.”

Shawn knew exactly what had happened now. “Oh Isabella I’m sorry.” He said reaching out for her again. He eased her into his arms and held her as she cried in pain. He’d forgotten about the way he’d abused Belle, forcing objects inside her body, and he felt terrible over it. “I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t let him hurt me.” Belle sobbed into his bare chest. Pain flowed through her system making all of her ache. “Please don’t let him.”

“It was me Belle, I was the one who just did it.” Shawn said feeling like he had to make her understand that he’d been the one in the room. “Isabella look at me. I was the one who just went inside of your body, and it was only my finger. Look, there is nothing else around that could have done it. I’m so sorry.”

Belle gasped at the realization of what happened. “Oh.” She whispered backing away from him. Again she’d over reacted at a touch, and she’d hurt their relationship at the same time. “I thought he was doing it again.”

“I know you did.” Shawn said reaching for her. “Don’t walk away form me Belle. If you walk away, he wins and you lose. Do you want him to win?” He opened his arms, deciding to let her come to him.

“No.” Belle said resting her head against his chest and sighing. “I really thought it was him. I always think it’s him!” She groaned as her legs started to shake, threatening to collapse her. “Why can’t I feel you?”

“Because you’re overcome with memories.” Shawn replied gently pushing her down onto the bed. “Come on, get into your bed clothes and we’ll cuddle. I’m sorry, I should have used better judgment and not tried to get you into bed. You’re not ready, and I understand that, I just miss you.”

Belle’s heart went out to him at the sound of his voice. “I miss you too.” She whispered as he moved to grab her gown. “It’s not that I don’t want you Shawn. I do, God, I want to feel you inside me again and I want us to be happy. But the things that he did to me are impossible to forget! I hate him! I want us to be able to make love all night long, but how can that happen if you can’t even touch me intimately and I freak out?”

“Time.” Shawn said helping her dress and climb under the covers. The air was warm, but he felt cold all over. Her rejection had cut him deep, and he wondered if there would be a time when it could be Shawn and Belle again, and not have Rex lurking in the shadows. “Time will heal you, and it will bring us closer together. Don’t worry,” he said climbing in next to her and pulling her warm body close to his, “we will be ok again. I promise you, I will never hurt you and I will always make sure no one can hurt you.”

“Thank you.” Belle said pulling away from him and rolling over. She loved to rest her head on his chest as they slept and tonight would be no different. “Will I know when time has healed me enough to be with you again? I mean, I thought I would be ok as long as I concentrated on you, and look what happened. Can I tell the difference?”

“Yes.” Shawn said kissing her nose, making her smile. “You will know and when that time comes, I’ll be here. I don’t care if it’s five hours from now, or five years, we will be lovers again.” He rested his chin on the top of her head and sighed, ‘please don’t let it be five years, I don’t think I could bear it.’



Chapter 16

Belle sat nervously in the quiet court room wringing her hands in her lap. The past two weeks had been extremely difficult on her and she just wanted it to be over. The defense lawyer had tried to make her look like a bad wife, and mother, saying things like she’d been cheating on her husband and that she attacked him first. Sighing she dropped her head and leaned on her hands.

“How are you holding up?”

Belle’s head whirled around and she nearly screamed. Her father was sitting behind her where Shawn should be sitting, and evil grin on his face. “You’re not supposed to be here.” She said moving her chair as far away from him as she could possibly get it.

“I’m not here for you Isabella.” John said sneering at her. “I’m here for Rex. I don’t think that things were as bad as you made them seem and I don’t think he should have to go to jail. You were a slut and a bitch, I don’t blame him for hitting you. Furthermore, it’s not his fault that the stove flared up and you were burned, and I’ll support that testimony.”

“Get away from me before I draw attention to your threats.” Belle said calmly hoping that her family would hurry up and get there. “I don’t think the media would be favorable if they found out the things you’ve been saying to me. I’ve said it before and it’s not an idle threat; I will strike hard if you ruin this trial. Basic Black was entitled to me, and I will make sure I get it if Rex gets off.”

“You wouldn’t dare.” John hissed watching over his shoulder for the news crew that was sitting at the back of the room waiting to watch and report on the trial. “You have no grounds or proof.”

“I do and I would.” Belle said reaching into her pocket and pulling out a tape recorder. “Mickey thought it would be best if I kept a recorder on me at all times during the trial in case someone says something to me that shouldn’t be said. In this care, I have the proof I need to say that you are withholding information, you know he hit me, and that he hit mom too. There is nothing you can do now other than leave.”

Shawn’s temper raged when he stepped into the courtroom and saw John talking to Belle. They had taken a restraining order out against him and so far it had been working. “Dad, look over there.” He said nudging his father who was talking with Marlena.

“Oh shit.” Bo said seeing what Shawn pointed out to him. “He’s not supposed to even be here it breaks the restraining order.” He balled up hands into fists but stopped when he watched closer. “Look at that. She’s got him lined up good now. She that tape recorder in her hand, what ever he said she got on tape and it looks like she’s threatening him with it.”

“That’s my girl.” Marlena said grinning at her calm daughter and her obviously angry ex husband. “Let’s go over before she goes too far.”

“Fine.”

Belle smiled triumphantly as her father got up and stalked out of the court room. She’d done it, she’d stood up against him and won. Discretely she slipped the recorder back into her pocket and leaned back in her chair. ‘Mickey will be so proud of me.’

“Hey.” Shawn said taking his seat and kissing her neck from behind. “We saw what happened, are you ok?”

“I’m fine.” Belle said smiling at him. “He was throwing out words and I got everyone of them on tape. Let me tell you, one slip up from him and I’ll own Basic Black before he can blink.”

“You’ve a little more confident.” Shawn said with a laugh. “What does Mickey have ready for today? He’s thrown out a few curveballs for us in the past few days and I’m not sure that I can take any more.”

“There is one more.” Belle said looking down at her lap. She still had one secret that she had kept from Shawn, one that was going to win this for her, and ruin it for her at the same time. “But I can’t tell you. You’ll find out, just promise that you won’t blame me.”

“Blame you for what?” Shawn asked as the courtroom erupted in a buzz of conversation.

“All rise for the honorable judge Broe.”

“Promise me Shawn.” Belle pleaded over her shoulder.

“Ok.” Shawn said as the proceedings started. “I promise.”

***

“Miss. Black can you explain why you didn’t feel happy in your marriage?”

Belle inwardly groaned at the question. It had been asked three times that day and more in the past week. “I was forced into my marriage to Rex. I was in love with Shawn Brady and we were having a child together.” She said feeling weary. “I was taken from the hospital directly to a small farm about 9 hours away. I got there and was told that I was married to Rex Brady. There was no ceremony, only a signed piece of paper, a paper I did not sign.”

“You did not sign your marriage license? But your handwriting is on it.”

“I do not remember signing it.” Belle said biting her lip again. “I could have signed it in a drugged state, or it could be a forgery. My father is an ex ISA agent and he had connections to do all sorts of things.”

“Why didn’t you leave your husband and return back to Salem?”

“The first morning I spent in the house with Rex I refused to bear his children and he broke my arm.” Belle explained knowing what the questions were leading up to. “Then he beat me every day from them on. There were days I couldn’t even make it to the kitchen to cook for him I was so battered.” Tears welled up in her eyes as she remembered the pain. “And we only had one key for the truck, and he had it all the time.”

“Miss Black, when did you start cheating on your husband?”

“I never cheated on him.” Belle said raising her chin slightly. “What you are referring to Mr. Palmer were tapes of me performing various sexual acts with other men. Those tapes were made my Rex and I was forced to do those things. I would never sleep with another man other that the father of my baby, Shawn. I never even willingly had intercourse with Rex, I was raped.”

“Do you have proof that you didn’t perform those acts willingly?”

“I do your honor.” Mickey said standing up with a tape in his hand. “I’d like to show this to the jury.”

“Proceed Mr. Horton.” Judge Broe said silencing the defense.

Belle locked eyes on Shawn’s face as the tape was placed in the machine and started. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he watched her beaten and forced to perform many disgusting acts on various men. He looked like he was ready to vomit when she was tied down and the objects she had told him about were used on her bleeding body. The tape was a backstage type video and it showed Rex filming and directing her to do things.

“Enough Mr. Horton.” Judge Broe said noticing some of the jury turning green at the screen’s images. “Thank you. Mr. Palmer, do you have any more questions?”

“No your honor.”

“I would like to present the jury with some photo’s if I may your honor.” Mickey said pulling and evidence envelope off a near by table. “These were taken the day that Belle was admitted to University hospital. Her face as you can see wasn’t treated for the burns and had become green with infection. Also, her ribs and torso are bruised and battered. Now, it was stated that she had been burned in a flash fire from the stove. But doctors have explained that the flames would have burned her hair as well as her skin, and her hair was perfectly intact. Isabella Brady was not harmed on any account of her own, she was abused by her husband. Marlena Evans was also victim of Mr. Brady’s violence as this picture of her face shows bruising. I plead with you to convict Mr. Brady of attempted murder, because with out treatment, Miss. Black would have died of her infection. Thank you.”

“Carson?”

“Nothing your honor.”

“Jury you are dismissed until your decision has been reached. Court will resume at ten o’clock tomorrow morning. Dismissed.”

Shawn watched in disgust as Rex was led from the room a smile on his face. ‘Smile you bastard, because if you’re released it the last one you’ll ever give to Belle. I’ll kill you before you ever get to see her again.’



Chapter 17

Belle sobbed as she threw her tired body down onto the soft bed that she shared with Shawn. He had refused to come home with her insisting that he had things to do at the office. Now she was alone in the huge house and she felt like she’d lost him. “Oh Shawn!” She cried reaching for the teddy bear that never left her pillow. Autumn had been her rock for the past few weeks along with Shawn, but seemed quite useless on it’s own.

“Belle?” Shawn asked as he crept into the bedroom holding a dozen roses in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. He quickly discarded the items and crossed to her. “Honey what’s wrong?”

Belle threw herself into his arms when she realized it was him talking to her. “Oh Shawn, I thought you were gone!” She sobbed into his shoulder. She felt like she was out of control again and wasn’t sure what to do to stop it. “I thought you were going to leave me.”

“Why would I leave you.” Shawn asked cradling her on his lap and sitting down on the edge of the bed. He hadn’t seen her cry since her baby blues had disappeared and he worried that maybe they were coming back again.

“Because of what he made me do.” Belle choked out through her sobs. “I didn’t want to do those things, I really didn’t.” She buried her face in his chest and held on to him for dear life.

“I know you didn’t mean to do them.” Shawn said smoothing her hair and kissing her hair softly. “I saw the tape Belle, I saw what he made you do. I know you too well to think that you would do things like that if you weren’t being forced to. I love you.”

“You don’t hate me?” Belle asked with a hiccup. “I was afraid you’d think I was a whore or a pervert because of what I did.”

“Shhh….” Shawn said sitting her up and making her look at him. “You were forced to perform those acts and I know you didn’t want to do them, I could see it in your eyes. It was like you were hiding behind your skin, keeping your soul safe from him and those men. I am sorry Isabella, I should have looked harder for you and brought you back from him.”

“I was hiding from them.” Belle said touching his cheek with her hand and holding his face. “I never wanted to sleep with anyone other than you, I love you and no one else. I just wish that…”

“Don’t.” Shawn said not wanting to know what she was about to say.

“I have to.” Belle said fighting tears. “I didn’t want to have sex with those men, because Shawn, I had sex with each and every one of them. They did things to me that I only heard about from Phillip or Brady, things that were straight out of a porno video. It’s not only what Rex did to me that makes me afraid, it the other things that I did.”

“I don’t care what you did, I only care about you.” Shawn said holding her close to his chest and rocking her slightly. “But you don’t have to be afraid of me Belle, I would never hurt you. You asked me to stop that night and I did. I didn’t ask questions, I didn’t wait to see if you were serious, I backed away and dressed.”

“I know.” Belle said blushing at the thought of him naked before her. She had wanted him so bad, but as soon as his arousal reached it’s peak, she’d panicked and had to stop. “I know you stopped, and I’m so glad you did. But I’m not sure if I’ll ever be the same again. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to have you touch me.”

“You will someday.” Shawn said helping her to her feet and smiling at her. “I brought you something but they might be a little crushed since I tossed them on the dresser when I saw you crying.” He handed her the roses and grinned sheepishly. “I thought we’d celebrate the victory that you’re sure to get tomorrow morning.”

“Thank you.” Belle said burring her nose in the fragrant blooms. “I guess I over reacted to your wanting to go to the office. I wanted you home because I was afraid of what I’d do if I started to think of what happened.”

“What do you mean you were afraid of what you’d do?” Shawn asked watching her try to hide behind the flowers. “Belle…”

“I tried to kill myself Shawn.” Belle blurted hiding her entire face from him. “Right after I was raped I tried to kill myself. But he caught me and all he did was throw it in my face. I wanted to die Shawn, it was a better alternative than living with him!”

Shawn was speechless at her words. “Isabella no.” He said pulling her back into his arms. “Never think of doing that again, I love you.” He kissed the top of her head and held her tightly. “Please don’t ever consider that again, Aimee needs you too much.”

“I don’t think I could really do it.” Belle said feeling numb all over. She’d decided that Shawn would never know about her feelings of suicide, they would only freak him out. “But I’ve considered it many times since then. I can’t control them, I just make sure I hide anything sharp.”

Shawn’s hands moved to her arms at the word sharp. Slowly, he moved to unfasten her watch allowing it to drop to the floor. Turning her arm over, he cried at the red scar that ran along the area the band would have covered. “Oh God.” He whispered bringing her arm to his lips and pressing his lips into the skin. It was as if he was trying to make the mark go away by showing it that someone loved her.

“I’m sorry.” Belle said trying to pull her arm away from his grasp. She was embarrassed by her actions and thought that maybe she’d see about having it removed when she had her surgery. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t.” Shawn said dropping her hand and reaching for his own watch. He slipped it off his arm and turned it over to show her something. A red scar ran along the same area of her own on the same hand, the left one. “I was a coward too, and I almost took Aimee with me.”



Chapter 18

Belle sat alone in the bedroom. Shawn had fled the room after his confession and she didn’t know what to make of what he had said. ‘And I almost took Aimee with me.’ Echoed through her head, vibrating off the insides of her brain. “What did he mean by that?” She asked the empty room. She was unsure if he was saying that he almost murdered her first or if he mistakenly dropped her.

“I was on the boat.” Shawn said as he reappeared in the door way. His hair was ruffled from him running his fingers through it one too many times and his eyes were red from crying. “I was on the boat with her at the end of June and I couldn’t take it any more. I reached for my knife and cut my arm. I didn’t even remember that she was in cabin until I was ready to pass out, an hour or so later.”

“So she would have drifted until the boat was found.” Belle said finishing off the story for herself. “Oh Shawn, how could you? It’s one thing for one of us to end it, but to endanger her is going too far.”

“I know.” Shawn said moving to join her on the window seat. The stars were shining brightly and it was ironic that the mood in the room was so dim. “I know, and I realized it before I was too far gone. I pulled myself to the radio and called for help. I told them that something had broken loose and I was hurt. To this day it’s all my parents know. They don’t know what I did.”

“You lied to them?” Belle asked wondering what else they were hiding from each other. She knew that she only had little secrets like some of the people she’d been forced to sleep with. “Shawn, that’s not like you.”

“I know it’s not.” Shawn said wrapping his arms around her and pulling her back against her chest. “But can you imagine the things that they would have done if I told them. I would have probably lost Aimee, they would have had my rights reduced. I couldn’t do that Belle, I couldn’t lose her. It was her that saved me from myself, I couldn’t let someone take her from me. So I lied.”

“What made you want to end it?” Belle asked feeling safe in his arms. “I mean, what made you snap?”

“Do you remember when we went on the boat the summer you got pregnant?” Shawn asked playing with a strand of her hair. “We were sailing out into the ocean when you yelled that you could see porpoises and whales. You were thrilled and speechless over what you were seeing. Well, I was sailing, Aimee was asleep, when I saw them. Glistening grey bodies under the surface. I snapped, I remembered what you had thought of them and I realized that you were never coming back and I couldn’t deal with that.”

“I saw a shooting star the night I did it.” Belle said watching the twinkling stars above them. “The first time I saw a shooting star I was with you. I remembered wishing that we’d be together forever and I realized that it was over for us. I didn’t want that, and after what Rex had done to me the night before I didn’t want to live like that. So I went in the shower and used my razor.”

“We’re quite a pair.” Shawn said remembering the shooting star that he’d seen that night as he lay dying on the deck of his fathers’ boat and wondered if by chance they had done it at the same time. “Belle, do you remember the date of that night?”

“Yeah, it was August the twenty first.” Belle replied sighing. “Why?”

“It was the same night for me.” Shawn said looking up and watching as a large bright streak slid across the sky. “Did you see that?” He asked wondering if this meant they were getting a second chance.

“Yeah I did.” Belle said with a smile. “Do you thing that maybe we’re going to be ok now? I mean, unless you have more secrets from me that is.” She snuggled deep into his embrace and started to feel tired.

“No, I don’t think there are any more.” Shawn said searching his memories for tidbits of secrets that he might have forgotten. Only one came to mind, one he had forgotten about. “Brady and I got ourselves into trouble one night though. We went to a club, yes I know I was underage, but we ended up doing some drugs. I don't remember anything from that night, except being with a girl. I'm sorry, I wasn't faithful to you like I said I was. I'm sorry.”

“You didn't do it just for the fun of it.” Belle said with a small smile. “You said you were on drugs, that's different. I don't condone what you did, but there is nothing we can do to change that now. Did you ever hear back from the girl? Did she ever contact you?”

“No I never did.” Shawn said wondering what would have happened if she'd ever come back into his life. He sighed pressing feather light kisses to her temple. It was nice to just sit there and hold her, not having to worry about the complications of sex. “I don't know what came over me that night, all I know is a guy offered me the girl of my life while I was in the club and I accepted in a moment of weekness. I don't remember much after that, no details or anything like that. If I did, I'd tell you.”<br />

"I know you would." Belle said snuggling into his chest. "I figured you'd have been celebrating the birth of your daughter in that time."

"I was too busy mourning the loss of you." Shawn said as he continued to place the soft kisses on her warm skin. "I felt like you died, even thought I could still feel you. If you weren’t with me you were dead, and I hated your father for that."

“I hate him too.” Belle said shivering from the kisses. “I didn’t understand at first why he did it. Now I understand because I’m not listed as Aimee’s mother on the certificate. Did you know that my name is not on it?”

“It’s not?” Shawn asked slipping out from behind her and moving to the security box that he kept under the bed. He’d never bothered to look at Aimee’s birth certificate, he just put it in the box when it arrived. Ripping open the envelope he slumped down at the word UNKNOWN typed on the paper. “How could he do this?”

“It’s listed there now Shawn.” Belle said pulling her knees up and resting her chin on them. “Mom checked it for me and found out what he had done. She marched me over to have it fixed before you found out. I am legally Aimee’s mother and that’s all that matters now. We should soon get a new paper in the mail, they told me 15 months and that will be up on Tuesday.”

“So there is no way for your father to say she’s not yours?” Shawn asked slipping in behind her again and leaning against her back. “Then we’re set. Your father can’t hurt us anymore. Unless he has one of those tapes then he’ll never be able to hurt us again.”

“Shawn, there are about ten men who have those tapes.” Belle said turning her head to look at them. “Rex sent each one of them a tape once he was done editing it. I had to name them to Mickey so they could be charged with rape or assault. One man is charged for child pornography. I don’t even want to think about them.”

“Then don’t.” Shawn said picking her up and walking to the bathroom. “Take a long bath and I’ll find us something to eat. You’ll feel relaxed and I’ll know you’re ok.”

“Thank you for understanding.” Belle said as she started to close the door. “And I think it’s time that we talk about what lies ahead of us now and not what’s in the past. After tomorrow there is nothing keeping us from getting what we want, and I intend on taking complete advantage of it.”



Chapter 19

Shawn let out a whoop as he and Belle made their way into the pub. His entire family had gathered to celebrate the win or rant about the loss that happened in the court that morning. “We did it!” He hollered to the waiting Brady’s. “Attempted murder, abuse and sexual assault! The whole lot!”

Cheers erupted from the people crowded into the Brady pub. People hugged each other, and the hugged Belle, they celebrated the win the only way the Brady’s knew how. They enjoyed Caroline’s superb cooking and threw back Shawn Sr’s drinks like there was no tomorrow.

“Can I have your attention!” Bo Brady called through the room. He wasn’t one to command attention, but there were things that had to be said before everyone went home for the night. “Thank you all for being here to help Belle celebrate justice. I can tell by the dazed look on her face that she has been enjoying herself.” He laughed heartily at the flush that crossed her face and reassured her, “don’t worry honey, we’re taking Aimee, enjoy your drink.” He turned his attention back to his family. “Belle won her case, and now we hope to put her past behind her. We have been calling her Belle Black for a year now, but it recently came to my attention that her name was never legally changed back to her maiden one. Not that I don’t want her to be a Brady, it’s just the wrong one for her. So I’d like to present Belle with her annulment papers, they finally came through and all I need is for her to sign them.”

Belle smiled as she stepped forward to take the pen. She giggled at the obvious stumble in her walk and wondered if she’d be able to hold her pen. “Bo, I don’t know if I can write.” She whispered as she took the pen in her hand and watched it shake.<br />

“Just think of what happens as soon as Mickey sends those in tomorrow.” Bo said laughing at the drunken girl. “Seems Belle here has had too many drinks to sign her name. Not hard to tell she just turned twenty one is it?”

“Shhh…” Belle said not wanting to be made fun of. She pursed her lips and flawlessly added her script to the page. “There, make fun of me will you.”

“Ladies it’s official, the next time we call her Mrs. Brady she better be married to my son!” Bo called as the room erupted in cheers and drunken hollers. “I mean it too Belle, I do want you to be a Brady. I need a daughter around more often.”

“Don’t worry dad, she’ll be a Brady soon enough.” Shawn said kissing her flushed cheek. “But I do think she’s had enough to drink now. I want her to be able to walk to the car in a little bit.”

“I can walk just fine Mr. Brady.” Belle said turning to storm away from him and screeched when she flopped to the floor. “Ok, no more for me.”

Shawn laughed as he reached down to help her to her feet. “Good choice. You need practice before you can drink that much you know.” He kissed her firmly and wrapped a supportive arm around her. “But I think we should head home now. You have your consult tomorrow morning and I don’t need you to have a hangover when they take those pictures.”

“Oh I forgot about that.” Belle said smiling. Rex’s trial had dragged out over four months so her surgery had to be postponed until the start of November. “Yeah I agree. I could use a shower and a good night’s sleep.”

“Let’s sneak out so they wonder where we went.” Shawn suggested pulling her towards the kitchen. “Leave them hanging instead of they doing it to us.”

“Can you drive?” Belle asked concerned that he had been drinking like she had. “I mean, did you drink at all?”

“I had a drink at 6 o’clock, I’m ok to drive.” Shawn said noting that it was well past midnight. “Don’t worry, I wouldn’t even consider driving if I was intoxicated, I’m smarter that that.”

“I know you are.” Belle said climbing into the car and doing up her seatbelt. “I’m sorry, I guess I need more to drink before I start to get careless.”

“That’s good to hear.” Shawn said starting the car and quickly leaving the parking lot. He wanted to make sure she got a full night’s sleep so she felt good in the morning. “I remember the first night I drank like that. You don’t, you slept through it. I went out with Brady and he got me trashed, I came home and threw up so many times, I don’t know how you slept through it! Mom brought me water and a towel and dad gave me a lecture on drinking responsibly.”

“I didn’t have that much to drink.” Belle said leaning back and closing her eyes. She felt sleepy and wondered if it was normal. “But I am tired. I wonder if you’re supposed to be tired, or if I’m just exhausted after the trial.”

“Probably.” Shawn said pulling into their driveway. It was nice to be so close to the center of the town, yet having a huge backyard for Aimee. “But you’ll feel better after a good night’s sleep.”

“I hope so.” Belle said noticing a sharp pain in her head. “Ugh.. .I thought the headache was supposed to come the day after you drink?”

Shawn laughed at her comment. “Belle Black, you’re a nut.” He said helping her out of the car and kissing her softly. “Go take something for your head and get into bed. Don’t worry about mixing the drugs with the alcohol, it’ ok, I’ll be around.”

“Thank you.” Belle said turning to the house and letting herself inside. She could smell fresh roses and spotted a vase full of them on the table. “Oh, are those from you?”

“No.” Shawn said shaking his head at her. “I had planned on getting them tomorrow after your appointment.” He pulled her back and checked out the flowers. They looked innocent enough and he gently reached into the blooms to retrieve the card. As his fingers closed around the card he howled in pain and quickly withdrew his hand. Blood seeped from a deep cut on the back of his right hand and he wrapped it in a towel that had been lying on the table from dinner. “Shit.”

“Shawn.” Belle said rushing forward to check his hand. “What is in there.”

Shawn quickly dumped out the flowers sending water everywhere. Tied tightly to the center rose was a hunting knife. Grabbing the card he quickly scanned the paper. “Shit.” He cursed heading into the kitchen for a garbage can. “Belle, I want you to put these in the garbage and stay here. There is a gun the top drawer of my desk, go get it.”

“Shawn, what is going on?” Belle asked as she watched him tie the towel tightly around his hand and grab a second gun off the top of the China cabinet. “Shawn?”

“Shhh..” Shawn said placing his fingers on her lips. “I want you to go get the gun and wait here. If anyone comes you can shoot in self defense. Don’t say a word and hide as soon as the roses are in the can.” He kissed her nose before turning and silently creeping up the stairs. He moved like a cat making no noise, checking out all the hiding spots in the house.

Gently he pushed open the nursery door and gasped. The perfect room for their little girl has been destroyed. The bed had been slashed repeatedly, teddy bears were decapitated and thrown around the room, the lamp was broken and the window was wide open. “Oh.” He said spotting a huge handle sticking out of the bed, right where Aimee would have been if she was home. “Fuck.” He slammed the window and locked it before running back down to Belle.

“Shawn?” Belle whispered as she heard someone come into the room. She’d slipped into the closet in the living room, gun in hand. “Is that you?”

“Come out.” Shawn said slamming his gun down and running his fingers through his hair. “Someone’s been her. No, your father has been here. The roses were from him. He’s royally pissed off over something Belle. Aimee’s room has been destroyed and if she’d been in bed she’d be dead.”

Belle burst into tears and threw herself down on the couch. “I knew I should have kept my mouth shut about all this.” She sobbed curling herself into a tight ball and hiding her face. “He took Rex’s side and now he’s coming after us.”

“No he’s not.” Shawn said quickly setting the motion sensor that protected the house. “No, I won’t let him hurt you again. Come on, the house is empty now, let’s go to bed. I’ll lock the door and window so nothing can get in or out, ok?”

“I’m scared Shawn.” Belle said as he picked her up and cradled her against his chest. “I’m so scared.”

“Don’t be.” Shawn said kissing her forehead and heading up the stairs. His hand was throbbing and he wondered if there had been something on the knife that could make him sick. “I’ here, and I’ll be dammed if anyone will hurt you. I won’t let them Belle, I won’t.”
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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

November 24th, 2004, 8:46 pm #9

A Shawn and Belle fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC17.


Chapters 20 - 29

Chapter 20

Shawn smiled as he crept into Belles room. Her face was visibly swollen and bruised, but the smile on her lips was heaven to him. “How did she do?” He asked the doctor as he stood over him checking her vitals.

“She’s a trooper.” Dr. Watson replied looking over his shoulder at Shawn. Over the year that he’d been treating Belle, he’d never met the man that she lived with. “Things went great. I did two surgeries in one, so her recovery will take a few weeks longer. But she will get her final one after Christmas.”

“She’ll be thrilled.” Shawn said picking up one of her hands and placing a soft kiss on the knuckles. “What do you think the final result will be. She’s so worried that she’ll never look normal again, I wish she’d feel more sure about herself.”

“I’m going to say about 90% right now.” Ian replied closing Belle’s chart and placing it on her side table. “The scar tissue was deep around her neck, so any scars that will stay will be under her chin. I’m a little worried about under the eye too, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on it. But by next spring she should be about 99%.”

“Thank you.” Shawn said smoothing her hair back and smiling. “She only wants to be her old self again. She doesn’t understand that she doesn’t need flawless skin to be loved by anyone.”

“Her main concern is your daughter.” Ian replied sharing Belle’s secret with the man she loved. “She is terrified about how her appearance will affect Aimee in a few years. Kids are cruel, and Belle knows it.”

“Belle knows it because I was cruel to her.” Shawn replied remembering how he teased her to no end when they were younger. “She knows first hand the things that kids can say because my uncle and I used to torment her about her family. We’ve but it behind us, I mean we were only seven or eight, but she still remembers.”

“She’s a special girl.” Ian agreed looking down at the beautiful blonde who lay sleeping on the hospital bed. He’d worked extra hard on her face wanting her to look the way she did before, mainly because he found himself falling in love with her. “I have another surgery in a few minutes, I should go.”

Shawn nodded and watched the young doctor go. His comment left him unsettled and he started to pace the room. The way the doctor looked at Belle, the way he talked about her, it was like he had feelings for her. Shaking his head he glanced out into the hall and spotted Ian watching Belle with longing his eyes. ‘I don’t think so buddy.’ He said to himself feeling anger bubble inside him.

“Shawn?” Belle asked in a groggy voice.

“I’m right here.” Shawn said plastering a smile on his face and taking her hand again. “I’m here. You did wonderful honey.” He kissed her good cheek and smiled when she looked for more. “Later.”

“When can I see?” Belle asked trying to clear the fog in her mind. “I want to see.”

“I did ask that.” Shawn said kicking himself for being stupid. “But I think you should heal a bit before you even try to look at it. I’ll be honest with you, I think they hit you with a Mack truck in there.”

Belle giggled at his comment and shook her head, making herself dizzy. “You’re funny Mr. Brady.” She said trying to sit up. “But seriously, it’s only red and bruised right?” Her fingers lifted to her cheek and was shocked to not feel a bandage. “What the?”

“Dr. Watson left the bandage off and placed one of your cover ups on it instead.” Shawn said moving her hand down before she touched the skin and cried. “Don’t touch it. This is clear not colored like the others though. I can see what he did, and it looks good. Does it hurt much?”

“It’s tight.” Belle said as Shawn placed pillows behind her back to support her. “But other than that it’s ok. I know it will start to hurt soon, maybe I should ask for something to take when I go home.”

“I signed your release papers a little bit ago when you came out of the OR.” Shawn explained wondering how long it would be before the swelling would go down, he was excited to see the smooth skin under the dressing. “As soon as the doctor says so I’ll get you home. Aimee is with my parents, I’m glad I took her over, she’d probably be upset over your face. It’s not that bad, but she’d notice it.”

“Thank you.” Belle said rolling her eyes at him. She knew he was trying to be tactical, but he was failing miserably. “I’m kinda sleepy, I think I’ll try to get some more sleep before I leave recovery. Will you check in soon?”

“Of course I will.” Shawn said kissing her lips softly and smoothing her hair. “If you need me have them call and I’ll be right over.”

“I will.” Belle said as her eyes started to drift closed . “Shawn? I love you.”

Shawn’s lips formed a small smile as her lips parted and she drifted off. “I love you too Isabella.” He said leaving the room quietly, not wanting to wake any other patients. “I always will.”

***

Belle smiled as she watched Aimee blow out her candles. Two years old, the young child was the image of her mother, until she opened her eyes and revealed the chocolaty brown that definitely came from her father. “Yeah!” She exclaimed moving the cake out of reach before she could grab it. “Do you want ice cream with your cake?”

“Yes!” Aimee exclaimed reaching for the huge flower shaped cake. “Ice cweam!”

Brady Black laughed as his niece as she used the same tone of voice that Belle had used at that age. “You’re too excited Aimee Bear, I think you should hold off on the cake and ice cream right now.” He winked at Shawn and watched for the explosion that would come from the little pixie.

“No!” Aimee exclaimed shaking her head at her uncle. “No way. I want my cake and ice cweam!” She looked to her mother for support.

“Brady, you’re going to get her worked up.” Belle scolded her older brother as she dished out a small serving of the desert for her daughter. “If she starts to cry she goes home with you.”

“Aimee… cry.” Brady said laughing at Belle. It was well known that Brady loved to take his niece for days at a time. He shook his head at the puzzled look on her face, “mommy said you had to come with me if you cried.”

Aimee pondered the option for a minute before shaking her head. “Can I come?” She asked looking at her mother. “I no wanna cry. I wanna go.”

“If uncle Brady wants to take you then he can.” Belle said shaking her head at her daughter. At two Aimee was already writing and doing some reading. “But if you’re wired he can’t bring you back.”

“I would never do that to you Tink.” Brady said winking at Aimee again. “And I promise that I’ll keep her for at least a day, maybe longer.”

“You’re going to have her so spoiled.” Shawn said as Belle handed him some cake. “But thank you, tonight she gets to remove the bandage and keep it off. I’m excited.”

“You’re excited?” Belle asked raising an eyebrow at him. “How do you think I feel? I can’t wait, I almost took it off this morning and said to hell with it. I’ve lost my patience for waiting for results, and I want something done right now.”

“You have three hours to wait.” Shawn reminded her with a smile. It was nice to see Belle getting her spunk back, it made him feel more alive and sure of their relationship. “I’m sure you’ve been counting the seconds…”

“I had them worked out his morning.” Belle said with a nod. It was true, she’d taken the time in the shower to work it out exactly. “But I don’t remember what it is now.”

Aimee shook her head at the parents and uncle. They always talked fast and she didn’t like it. “You all silly.” She forced a forkful of cake into her face and chomped on it. “You supposed to eat cake, not talk. So shhh….”



Chapter 21



Belle stood patiently as Shawn gently peeled the beige bandage off her cheek. He was being very gently and she wondered if he was being so slow because he was scared as well. Closing her eyes she felt him pull the last of the stickiness away and it was as if time froze along with him. “What is it?”

“98% my ass.” Shawn said tossing the bandage aside and cupping her right cheek. “Oh Belle, I can’t even see a scar.”

“Really?” Belle asked opening her eyes and seeing the tear on his cheeks. “Are you sure?” She quickly turned and face the mirror, her stomach in knots. True to his word, there was not a piece of scar tissue to be seen. “Oh my God.”

“I told you there was nothing there.” Shawn said wrapping her arms around her from behind and kissing her neck. “You are Isabella Black again.” He rested his forehead on her shoulder and allowed himself to cry.

Belle didn’t know what to make of her results. She looked closely, searching for a mark and finally found one, just behind her hair line out of sight to someone who wasn’t looking for it. Tears slid down her cheeks and she lightly touched the smooth skin. “Wow.”

“He got rid of that little scar near your ear that Brady gave you.” Shawn said noticing that the scissor mark was gone. “Do remember when he cut your hair for you and got your cheek instead? It’s gone.”

“I think I should give Dr. Watson an award.” Belle said checking her cheek out at different angles. If she tilted her head up, there was a small scar under he chin was so fine it looked like a wrinkle. “This is amazing. 2 scars are left and they’re both from the incisions he made to remove the extra tissue.”

“He already got his award.” Shawn said trailing his lips long her collarbone before moving to nibble on her ear. “He got paid a lot more than he charged.” He turned her around and continued to cover the exposed skin of her shoulder with kisses and love bites.

Belle closed her eyes at the tingles she was getting from his kisses. They were so soft, almost like he was only touching her with his soul. “Mmmm…” she moaned tipping her head back so he could reach all the skin.

Shawn planned his moves carefully. So far they had not been able to get far in their intimacy, mainly a few kisses. But he knew that he needed to make love to her, and he had thought of making her a few drinks to relax her. But he had already taken it too far and wished he’d brought the bottle of wine up from the kitchen. Swiftly he scooped her up and headed towards the bed.

Belle wrapped her arms around his shoulders, locking her lips on his as he carried her from the bathroom into the bedroom. She gently let go as lay her down and moved to prop herself up on the pillows. It was time, she knew she was ready to make love to him. “Shawn.” She gasped as he lay down over her, his erection pressing into her core. A familiar feeling of fear started to well up inside her and burst before she could control it.

“Belle do you want to stop?” Shawn asked noticing the change in her face. The pleasured look was gone and had been replaced by the all too familiar terrified one. “Belle.”

“I can’t do this.” Belle said pushing him off her and jumping up from the bed. She grabbed her robe and wrapped it round her dress clad body. “I can’t.”

Shawn buried his head in the mattress and groaned in frustration. “Come on Belle, is this ever going to end?” He asked turning to face her. He understood that she was scared because Rex had raped her, but it had been two years and he wasn’t Rex.

“I don’t know.” Belle said slumping into a nearby chair. She wasn’t sure what was happening to her, but she knew that it was starting to upset Shawn. “I don’t know. I can’t do this Shawn, I can’t.”

Shawn felt his temper flare and knew that now was the time to make his feelings known. “Belle, this is bullshit.” He said tossing his legs over the edge of the bed and leaning on his knees. “I know you’re scared, but you don’t even give it a chance, you bolt before you know if you can fight it.”

“I’m sorry.” Belle said feeling like she was going to cry. “I thought you understood me. I thought you were going to give me the support I needed?” She crossed her arms over her chest, trying to gain some confidence.

“I have been for two years Belle.” Shawn said walking over to her and forcing her to her feet. “I have not been able to make love to you since you got pregnant with Aimee! For fuck sakes I’m about ready to explode here. I can’t go on like this. Do you want to know what I almost did with Mimi? No you don’t. Do you see this Belle?” He asked gesturing to the tent that had formed in his pants. “How can you be afraid of it? It has never hurt you before, do you even remember the time we made love?”

“Of course I remember.” Belle cried thinking of the force that had been applied the last time she’d had sex. “But I remember what happened with him too!” She turned her head away and wished that she could stop crying. “Why does it have to be about sex Shawn?”

“It’s not about sex Belle.” Shawn said in an exasperated tone. “It’s about you not being able to trust in me and my love. You can’t stand to have me touch you, you flinch almost all the time! I can’t deal with this anymore, cold showers don’t help!”

“They why don’t you go sleep with Mimi!” Belle screamed jumping up from her seat and moving away from him. “Maybe she can give you what you want!” She grabbed a pillow off their bed and hurled it at him. “Go to her! Go!”

“I don’t want Mimi.” Shawn said catching the pillow and tossing it aside. He stood and advanced on her. “I want you Belle, can’t you see that?” He asked catching her wrists and pulling her close to his chest. “Why are you still so afraid?”

“No, let go!” Belle screamed in fear as she felt his hostile hands on her skin. “This is why! Look at you!” She pulled herself away and cowered by the bed. “Look at you.”

Shawn stepped back from where he had been standing and gaped at his hands. Never had he lay a hostile hand on Belle, or on any other woman for that matter. “Oh Jesus Belle, I’m sorry.” Shawn said watching her tears fall. “But I love you. I do. Too fucking much it seems.”

“Don’t say that.” Belle said pointing a finger at him. “Don’t you ever say that.” She grabbed the extra blanket off the bed and handed it to him. “Get out.” She pointed to the door and fought to keep herself calm. “Go, I don’t want you here right now.”

Shawn took the blanket and pillow. He turned back and watched her collapse onto the bed. There was something not adding up with her fears, something he knew that he had to piece together, before it was too late.

***

“Morning.” Shawn said as he walked into the kitchen, stretching his tired body as he moved. He hadn’t slept two minutes the night before, he wasn’t used to sleeping on the couch. “How are you this morning?”

“I’m fine.” Belle replied noticing the cool tone in his voice. The argument the night before had left them a little overheated and it seemed the night apart had settled things a little too well. “You?”

“I missed you.” Shawn said moving to stand behind her. He could smell the vanilla on her freshly showered skin and it ignited his desire. “I’m sorry Belle. I really am. I just miss you so much.”

“I don’t think I’m ready.” Belle said moving away from him and pouring herself a cup of coffee. “I can still feel his hands on my body Shawn, I can feel all their hands on me. If you touch me in a strong way, I feel him. I know that I can’t let you to touch me in that way because it’s not you I feel, it’s him.”

“You need to talk to someone about this Belle.” Shawn said throwing himself into a chair and frowning. “How can we go on like this? We’ve been talking about getting married, but you can’t stand to have me touch you. What kind or marriage would that be?”

“I don’t know.” Belle said as tears of frustration welled up in her eyes. “I don’t know Shawn! I want to forget it all but I can’t!” She allowed her body to crumble towards the floor as she started to sob. Shawn’s strong arms wrapped around her and she clung to his shoulders. “I want to remember what it’s like to make love to you and carry your children, but all I can remember is him!”

“Please see someone Belle.” Shawn pleaded as he continued to support her slight weight in his arms. “We can’t go on like this anymore. I can’t marry you if you can’t trust me enough to touch you. I just can’t.”

“I love you Shawn.” Belle whispered against his neck. “I want you to touch me, I rally do.” She held onto his neck until her sobs had quieted and her legs decided to support her. “I’m sorry.”

“So am I.” Shawn said giving her a quick kiss before moving for a cup of coffee. “We can’t go on like this though. You need to go see someone about this and soon. I cannot deal with it anymore.”

“I don’t want to see a shrink or counselor.” Belle said stubbornly crossing her arms over her chest. “You told me that time would heal me.”

“Belle, what kind of time do you think we have?” Shawn asked becoming increasingly frustrated with her. “Aimee is two now and all we do is lie in bed together at night! I’m a young man Belle, I have needs and I can’t take it anymore. Please, at least talk to your mom.”

“No.” Belle said shaking her head. “I cannot share all this with my mother. If you don’t like how I’m dealing with this then leave. Just go.”

Shawn looked up at her and his heart fell. There was no way she would see someone and he could not let her lean on him for the rest of her life, it wasn’t fair to him. “I’m sorry.” He said knowing that the time had come and he needed to do what he felt would be best for the both of them. “I’m leaving you.”



Chapter 22



Belle stood shaking in the empty kitchen, staring at the door that Shawn had walked out of an hour before. She hadn’t moved since her life had been ripped apart, she had barely even breathed in that time. What had occurred in the room had been so unbelievable an so unlike Shawn. She was unsure of what to make of his leaving her, unsure if it was really her fault.

“I’m leaving you.”

The words echoed through out the room, taunting her as they rolled over and over in the silence. “What have I done?” She asked covering her mouth with a hand in attempt to hide her sobs. “No Shawn no!” She looked around the room, her eyes falling on the gleaming butcher knife she’d used to make her bagel.

‘It would be so easy, just get it over with,’ the little voice in her head said, ‘no more worrying about it.’

“No.” Belle said shaking her head and pushing the knife into the sink where she couldn’t see it as easily. “That is not going to help anything.” She braced herself against the sink and allowed the tears to fall silently.

“I can’t take it anymore.”

Belle shook her head vigorously at the sounds the kept repeating themselves even though he was gone. Could she go on with out Shawn? Was it possible for her to be alone after all that had happened? “You ruined my life.” She whispered as anger built up inside her like a volcano waiting to explode. “You took my life from me, and now you’ve forced Shawn away! You bastard! No, I will not let you win!”

Grabbing her keys and wallet off the counter she flung open the back door and started towards the drive way where her car had been parked the night before. A small noise, almost like a kitten mewing caused her to stop and turn towards Aimee’s tree swing. Shawn was sitting on the hard wooden swing that he had hand carved with their daughters name, his head dropped and his back slumped. Slowly she crept across the grass, her flip flops filling up with dew as she moved.

“What took you so long?” Shawn asked quietly as he felt her approach. After sitting in his car for twenty minutes her realized that he couldn’t leave, he just couldn’t, and Aimee’s swing was the perfect place to sit and cry out the pain. He knew that she would eventually come after him, but the hour he’d been waiting felt like an eternity.

“I don’t know.” Belle said standing three feet behind him, her hands limply at her sides and her keys dangling from her fingers. She knew that he was hurt, she was too, but they had to do something before it was too late. “I didn’t move for the longest time, and then I had a confrontation with a butcher knife and then had a few choice words for Rex.”

Shawn whirled around and quickly checked her arms for blood or bandages. He breathed a sigh of relief when the pale skin showed no blemish other than an old scar. His eyes drifted up her body until they rested on hers. “I guess the butcher knife lost?”

“Yeah.” Belle said nervously tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and biting her lip. The tension between them was so thick she was sure the butcher knife would have lost the battle of cutting it too. “Shawn…”

“Belle…” Shawn said wanting to reach out for her, to pull her into his arms and kiss all their problems away. But he knew that kissing her wouldn’t solve anything, that it might possibly make things worse. He dropped his eyes to the ground and felt defeat running over his already trampled body.

“Shawn, I’m sorry.” Belle said fighting to keep her tears at bay. A dark cloud was settling over her shoulders and she shook herself to keep it from landing firmly. “I know I need to get help, but you don’t understand how hard that is.”

“You don’t know how hard it is to watch you scream in fear every time I come near you or try to touch you.” Shawn said slowly climbing to his feet, lessening the distance between them. “You don’t know what it’s like to watch you hold our daughter and know that she’ll be an only child for me because I can’t be with you in the way I want to. You don’t know.”

Belle knew she was defeated after his statements. He was right, she didn’t know what it was like for him, she had no idea because she hiding behind her own problems and didn’t see it. “I don’t want Aimee to be an only child.” She said tucking her hands into her pockets and scuffing her flip flops on the grass. “And I don’t want to let him win, but he already has. I don’t know what I can do to make myself forget the things he’s done to me.”

“See someone,” Shawn said, his command more a plea. “That’s all I ask. If things don’t work out after that then at least we know we’ve tried. Please, just lets find someone who can help you.”

“Do you really think we can find someone?” Belle asked looking up at him with teary eyes. “You’re the half shrink, do you really think that I can get past all this and get on with life? I want you to answer on a professional level, not on a personal one.”

“Belle thousands of women are abused and raped every year.” Shawn said brushing a tear off her cheek with a gentle finger. “And many of them are ok after seeking professional help. Belle, I wouldn’t press you for this if I didn’t think it would help you, you know that deep down right?”

“Yeah.” Belle said smiling weakly up at him. “I don’t want to lose you Shawn, I can’t. If I lose you, then Rex really has won.” She gently stepped into his chest and wrapped her arms around him.

“You won’t lose me.” Shawn said slowly closing his arms around her. “I wouldn’t leave you, I just had to make you see what was happening between us. I can’t live like we are now, it’s not fair to me, or Aimee. I don’t want her believing she has a normal family, when she doesn’t.”

“She will.” Belle said matter of factly. “Let’s go call my mom. No, let’s go see her and we’ll see who she’ll recommend. Ok?”

“Perfect.” Shawn said placing a light kiss on her forehead. “I love you Isabella Black, I always have, and I always will.”

***

Brady stood silently outside Aimee’s room listening to his two year old niece talking to God. He turned to motion for Mimi to come closer and held her tight as they listened.

“Dear God.” Aimee said in her tired sleepy voice. She didn’t want her uncle to hear what she had to say and she knew he’d be downstairs with aunt Mimi by now. “It’s me, Aimee Isabella Brady, but you know that. I want you to please make sure my Mommy can love my Daddy again. I know they have problems and I want them to love themselves again. Please can you make things ok for them?” She turned to look out the window and jumped up at the brightly shining star. “Oh, hold on one sec!”

Aimee rushed over to the window and threw herself down on the bench seat. Closing her eyes she started the simple rhyme that her Grandma Hope had taught her, “Starlight, Starbright first star I see tonight. Wish I may, wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight.” She opened her eyes and looked long and hard that the star, her tiny lips quivering slightly. “Please help my Mommy love again.”



Chapter 23

Shawn sat nervously in Dr. Mary Anthony’s waiting room, winding a stray lock of hair around his finger over and over again. Belle had gone in for her first session with the psychiatrist three hours before and he was wondering if it had been too long for her. She was still fragile, afraid to say anything that might upset herself or her family. Raking his fingers through his hair he decided that it was time to interrupt and insist that the session continue at a later date.

“Thank you Mary.” Belle said as the two of them entered the waiting room. Her eyes burned from all the tears that she had shed in the past few hours, but her heart felt lighter. “I feel a thousand times better.”

“You’re very welcome.” Mary said giving the young girl a reassuring pat on the back. Never in her 20 years of practice had she treated a patient who had endured so much pain in a short period of time. “Go home and try all the things we talked about and come in when you feel you need to. I’d like to either have you in or speak to you on the phone once a week for a while, but you can just drop in after 4 in the afternoon for those.”

“Thank you.” Belle said grinning at Shawn when she saw the worried look on his face. It had been a tough month for the both of them. He’d been sleeping in the guest room because he insisted that she was not able to have him in the same bed, and he was right. The thought of him touching her with out her permission scared the hell out of her and she didn’t want to put Aimee through late night screams of fear. But the separation was hard, they loved each other so much that it hurt to be apart, and the elimination of all contact made it harder. “Hey.”

“You ok?” Shawn asked moving to her side with a concerned look on his face. Her cheeks were splotchy, indicating that she’d been crying and her expression was weary. His only fear with her now seeking help was that it would exhaust her and she’d get sick.

“I’m great.” Belle said sliding her arms around the trunk of his body, pulling her chest to his. A sigh of contentment escaped her slightly parted lips as he hesitantly wrapped his arms around her. “Step one: reestablish contact that the ones you love.” She said in a stead voice as her head rested on his cheek.

“What is step two?” Shawn asked relishing in her affection. He longed for her touches, he missed her in bed at night, missed pulling her into his arms when she cried. The crying was the hardest part, because he knew he couldn’t go to her.

“Learning to love someone completely.” Belle replied stepping back and reaching for his hand. The smile on his face made her icy heart melt and she began to feel something she thought she’d lost, hope. “Let’s get out of here. I feel like I’m in a cage, I need to get out doors or I’m going to scream.”

“Where would you like to go?” Shawn asked tucking her gently under his arm and heading towards the doors. Hew knew how she felt, being cooped up got to him too. “Part, zoo,… what?”

“Could we go for a sail?” Belle asked hopefully. She’s hadn’t been on the Fancy Face since before Aimee had been born and recently she’d found herself watching the boats with the desire to get out on the water. “We haven’t gone in such a long time.”

“I’ll give dad a call and ask.” Shawn said smiling at her again. He could see excitement in her eyes and he wanted to make sure he saw it more often. He knew that thing would get better for them, he could see a faint glimmer of hope in her eyes, and it renewed his.

“Ask him if we can have Zac too.” She said grinning from ear to ear. “We’ll take him and Aimee out to the cabin for a few hours. They’ll love it.”

“Ok then.” Shawn said flipping open his cell phone. “Hey dad… listen, can we ask you a favor?”

***

“Do you think that this means that things are getting better for them?” Hope asked as she watched her children drive away in Belle’s SUV. “She seemed so much happier when she came in to get Aimee, I wonder what happened at that appointment she had.”

“She’ll tell us when she’s ready.” Bo replied leading his wife back inside the house. It was so quiet with out Zac and Aimee. “Marlena said that we can’t push her or it will do more harm than good.”

“I know what she said, I just can’t help but wonder if things are getting better.” Hope said grinning at her husband. “You know, it’s always so quiet in here when the kids are gone. It makes me….”

“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” Bo asked moving closer to his wife. They had talked on and off for the past few years about having another baby, but never had the time.

“Yes I am Mr. Brady.” Hope said turning and heading from the stairs. “That is, if you’re up to it.”

***

“What that Mommy?” Aimee asked pointing down into the water a few feet away from the boat. “Oh!”

Belle giggled as a porpoise jumped out of the water and sent a spray of water at Aimee’s amazed face. “Those are porpoises sweetie. Like a dolphin almost.” She picked up the bewildered child and held her closer to the railing. “See, just like flipper.”

“Pretty flipper.” Aimee said smiling at her mother. “Do you like the poopise?”

Shawn laughed heartily at his daughters mistake. “Silly girl.” He said shaking his head at her frown. “There’s an r in there. Porpoise.”

“Daddy mean.” Aimee said sticking her tongue out at him before turning back to the pretty animals. “Mommy like them right?”

Belle glanced over her shoulder at Shawn, catching sight of a red mark on his arm. “Mommy and daddy both like them.” She said mouthing ‘I love you’ to him. “We like them very much.”

Shawn slowly slid his hand inside his pocket to hide the scar that she was looking at. Recently he’s watched her run her fingers over her own and he’d feared she’d been fighting a battle with herself over whether to do it again or not. ‘I will not lose you Isabella, I refuse to let that happen.’



Chapter 24

Belle yelped as she was removed from her warm blanket on the sand and deposited in the cool water. Sputtering to the surface she glanced around for the perpetrator. She spotted him swimming out towards a small raft and darted after him. Despite the distance advantage he had over her she easily caught up with him just as he pulled himself out of the water. “Hey you, that was mean.”

“You looked hot so I cooled you off.” Shawn said helping her up onto the raft and into the cool air. “Plus, Aimee is sleeping so I figured we could catch a few minutes together while Zac works on that book he brought with him.”

“Did you have to get me wet though.” Belle asked with a shiver. The afternoon air was cool and her dripping body was covered in goose bumps. “It’s cold out here.”

“Lie down and you’ll warm up.” Shawn said spreading his muscular body over the warm plastic of the raft. He sucked in a sharp breath as he felt Belle’s warm skin slide against his side as she curled up against his body. The air hissed out from between his lips and he begged his body to stay relaxed for just once.

“Problems?” Belle asked seductively. She hadn’t meant to use that tone, and she knew she was setting herself up for something she wasn’t ready for. But she had to be close to him, her body just wanted to touch him.

“You’re my only problem right now.” Shawn replied playing with the wet hair that was splayed over his arm. He could smell the vanilla she always wore and it made his senses tingle. “Are you comfortable?”

“Yes.” Belle said as his touches caused her to shiver. It had been a long time since she had genuinely enjoyed his touch and her heart soared at her progress. “Mary told me a lot of things this morning. She told me that it wasn’t my fault and if I just let myself go I would enjoy being touched again.”

Shawn gently moved his fingers from her hair and trailed them down her back. “Are you afraid now?” He asked as the silkiness of her skin heated his fingertips until they burned.

“No, I’m not afraid.” Belle replied propping her upper body up on her elbow so she could look down on him. “She helped me learn the difference between fear and love. She told me to relax into a touch, if I can relax it’s love. If I can’t then it’s fear.” She shivered again as his hand rested on her hip, his fingers playing with the ties on her bikini.

“You never have to fear me.” Shawn whispered as he looked into her eyes and saw that, for the first time since Rex, they weren’t barred up. “I will never give you a reason to be afraid of me, never.”

Belle swallowed hard, allowing her body to react o his. Immediately she felt her nipples push against the fabric of her swimsuit and a pool of heat form between her legs. Her breaths came in quick spurts and sounded raspy from arousal. Slowly while his eyes watched her, she slid her tongue along her dry lips, lingering on the center of her upper one. Desire raced through her body and she allowed her eyes to drift along his body, resting on the tent in his swim trunks. A tiny thread of fear crept into her mind, weaving a web she had to stop. Averting her eyes she slowly pressed her lips to his, looking for reassurance.

Shawn moaned as her eyes drifted from his face to his erection. He’d been praying for it to remain flaccid, but once again it had failed him. He felt her body stiffen against his at the sight of it and jumped when she pressed her lips to his. Gently he kissed her, laying feather light touches on her lips and teasing them with his teeth. He moaned again as she pressed her breasts into his side, feeling the taunt nipples through the fabric. He slowly wrapped his arms around her slender body, giving her time to retreat if she wanted to, and lifted her so she was laying on top of him.

“Shawn,” Belle said breaking the kiss, “I’m not ready to-to-to-to, well…” She sighed in frustration at her stupidity and laid her head on his shoulder. “I’m not ready to make love. I know I’m being a tease, but I need to have you touch me and I need to touch you. But I’m just not ready to have sex with you.”

“Shhh…” Shawn said rubbing her back gently. He could feel her heart racing and he hugged her tightly. “I know you’re not ready. I’m not asking for it either. I’m sorry if I got carried away.”

“You didn’t get carried away.” Belle said relaxing into his body. She could feel his arousal against her body, and she smiled remembering just how perfectly they seemed to fit together. “I just had to tell you that… whoa!”

Shawn jerked upright as the raft was tossed violently to one side and Belle went rolling off of him. He caught her before she slipped off the side and he grabbed a hold of the ladder for support. “Holy Shit, looks like a storm.” He frowned at the dark clouds and high waves that were rolling in. “Looks like we may be stuck here for the night. Do you think you can make it back to the shore?”

“Yes.” Belle said wondering if Aimee and Zac were alright. “We’d better go quick before lightening starts.” She didn’t wait for an answer before jumping into the choppy water. Surfacing she quickly started to stroke towards the beach, hoping he’s be able to make it in as well. She choked as a wave hit her in the face and for a moment started to panic.

“Gottcha.” Shawn said grabbing her and holding her up for a second. “It’s only a little bit of water. Come on.” He pushed her forward and followed close behind her. He reached out for her when his feet touched ground and they slowly made their way through the high waves and debris that were pounding against them.

“Ouch!” Belle exclaimed as a piece of wood slammed against her knee. Collapsing at the pain she choked again as she received a mouth full of water. Trying to stand she groaned when the water and pain knocked her over again. “Shawn, I can’t get up.”<br />

“I’ve got you.” Shawn said lifting her out of the water and carrying her toward the beach. He bent to retrieve the items they’d left earlier before heading towards the cabin. He hadn’t gone two steps when rain started to pour down on them. Quickly he wrapped the blanket around his shoulders covering Belle and himself. “We’re almost there. I’ll bet dad’s already called in a message to Zac.”

“Shawn!” Zac screamed through the thundering rain wind. “Shawn!”

“Right here buddy.” Shawn said as he hurried up onto the covered porch of the cabin. “Open the door for me would you?” He smiled at his little brother as he rushed inside the door and set Belle down on the couch. A nasty bruise had already formed on her knee and he hoped it wasn’t broken. “Did dad send a message?”

“Yup.” Zac said nodding at his brother. “He said that the storm was full force in Salem, and to stay here… and he was saying something about Aimee when we got cut off. I think the power went out.”

“Probably.” Shawn said making an ice pack for Belle before wrapping her in a dry blanket. “Where is Aimee?”

“In the bedroom coloring.” Zac said as she toddled out of the room with a worried look on her face. “Or not.”

“I scared.” Aimee said reaching up to her father.

“It’s ok sweetie, it’s just a storm.” Shawn said cradling his daughter against his chest for a second before handing her to Belle. “I’m gonna try dad again before I start locking up.”

“Ok.” Belle said slowly bending her knee. It was lodged in position and she couldn’t get it to move where she wanted to. “Ouch.” She said shaking her head against the pain. “It’s ok honey, I’m afraid of the storm too.”

Aimee cuddled against her mothers chest before allowing herself to drift off to sleep thinking of the pretty animals in the water. ‘I love you poopise.’



Chapter 25

Shawn quietly moved back inside the cabin incase anyone had gone to sleep. It had taken him two hours to secure the boat and another two to make sure that there was water in the spare tanks incase the power went out here. He smiled when he saw Belle waiting for him on the couch. “Hey you.”

“Hey, is the boat ok?” Belle asked dropping the book she’d been reading and looking up at him. He was completely soaked and shivering. “Shawn, you’re cold! Come over here.”

Shawn slowly made his way over to her, wishing he’d thrown on a rain jacket. She was right, he was cold, too cold. He sighed when she pulled him down behind her and covered him with a blanket. “Mmmm.. you’re warm.”

“I’d hope so.” Belle said pushing his wet hair off his forehead and looking at his lips. “You shouldn’t have gone out in just your shorts. Now you’re going to get sick.”

“I’ll be ok.” Shawn said smiling at her. “Did you get something to eat yet? I’m starving and I know that we brought some canned soup with us.”

“Zac and Aimee ate but I was waiting for you.” Belle said shaking her head. “They had sandwiches that Zac made since I can’t bend my knee to walk. I don’t think it’s broken, just too swollen.”

“You stay here and I’ll get some on the stove.” Shawn said climbing up and stealing her warm blanket. “Where are the two of them?”

“In bed.” Belle replied slowly hopping into the kitchen and sliding into a chair. “Zac was falling asleep and Aimee was asleep. He said he’d take her in and sleep with her in the little bed so she wouldn’t be scared. So I guess that leaves us to bunk together tonight.”

“Are you ok with that?” Shawn asked as he poured two cans of soup into a pot and started to heat it over the propane stove. He looked at her carefully, his eyes falling to rest on the massive black bruise on her leg. “Do you want more ice?”

“Yes please.” Belle said trying to hide her leg from his view. The bruise was the ugliest thing she’d ever seen. “Ha.” She said realizing what she’d been thinking. “I was just thinking that this was the most awful thing I’ve ever seen. That’s got to be a good sign.” She smiled as he handed her another towel full of ice. “And yes, I’m ok with it.”

Shawn turned back to the stove as butterflies started up in his stomach. He didn’t know what would happen if he slept with her again. He’s been having fantasy’s at night for a few weeks and he wasn’t sure how she’d react to the noises he knew he made. “I’ll go add a few extra blankets and pillows in a minute.” He said pouring her a bowl and handing it to her with a spoon. “Did you want bread too?”

“The soup is fine.” Belle said shaking her head at him. She quickly ate while he busied himself in the room and waited for him to come back. “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine.” Shawn said smiling at her. “I looked in on Aimee and Zac. They’re curled up together sound asleep. I think they’re out for the night too after all the running around they did.”

“Probably.” Belle said pushing herself to her feet testing her knee. Sharp pains spread along her leg, but it held her weight. “I’m going to go and get ready for bed. Did you bring a T-Shirt that I could sleep in?”

“In my bag.” Shawn said with a nod. He watched her hobble from the room and he suddenly felt like the bruise was his fault. If he hadn’t dumped her in the water then she wouldn’t have gotten hit by the log in the waves. ‘I said I’d never hurt her, and I already have.’

***

Belle sat down slowly on the bed, wincing at the intense pain that had now spread to her foot. Slowly she pulled her toes back towards her knee and yelped as it felt like she was ripping herself apart. “Ouch.”

“I found this in the bathroom.” Shawn said emerging in a clean pair of boxers with a wrap in his hand. “I know it will hurt, but it should help with the swelling.” He knelt in front of her as he slowly started to wrap the fabric around her leg, applying pressure to the leg and making her wince again. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok.” Belle said gritting her teeth against the pain. She knew he wasn’t trying to hurt her, but the bruise was making that hard. “Geeze, I didn’t think it hit me that hard.”

“It took you off your feet.” Shawn pointed out as he secured the bandage and helped her get settled in the bed. He moved to flick off the lights when the cabin went dark and quiet. “Shit. Let me run a flashlight into the kids. Will you be ok?”

“Yes.” Belle said biting down on her lip at the darkness. “Just say something before you climb in bed or you’ll scare me.” She slid down under the cool covers and held her breath. She felt silly still being afraid of the dark at her age.

“It’s me.” Shawn said as he made his way into the pitch blackness of the room. He’d only brought one flashlight with them and he was glad that his family were a bunch of romantics, leaving lots of candles around the place. “I brought a few candles in with me, I figured we’d leave one on for a few minutes.” He struck a match and grinned as the room became shadowy but lit up. “There, that’s better.”

“You’re telling me.” Belle said breathing a sigh of relief at the light. “I can’t believe I still don’t like the dark!”

“You’re not the only person who doesn’t like darkness I’m sure.” Shawn said placing the candle on the bedside table and sliding into the bed. He could feel her heat on the covers and he smiled at her. “I won’t think any less of you for it.”

“Good.” Belle said with a giggle. She snuggled against him with a smile. “I’ve missed you Shawn.”

“I’ve missed you too.” Shawn said kissing her forehead lightly. “I’m amazed at what one session has done for you. Just think if you’d have gone the first time I mentioned it where we’d be.”

“We’d probably be Mr. and Mrs. Brady by now.” Belle said as her smile turned to a frown. She wanted nothing more than to be Shawn’s wife, but she wanted to be able to make love to him before they decided to get married. “But soon, soon we’ll be ok.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that.” Shawn said holding her tightly against his chest. “I love you Belle Black. I will always love you no matter what happens to us. You know that right?”

“Of course I know that.” Belle said smiling up at him. “And I love you to. Hey, I said it!” She winked at his smile before resting her head on his shoulder. “Mary told me that it would come to me when I was ready to admit my feelings again. I guess it must be the real thing if it comes this soon. Then again, I always knew it was the real thing.”

“You better have known.” Shawn said tickling her side softly. “Although I’m really enjoying this we should get some sleep. The power’s out so that means that we have no water or heat right now and I’m freezing. Plus Aimee will probably freak when she gets up so we should have some rest to deal with her.”

“You’re right.” Belle said as he blew out the candle and cuddled against her. “And we have the rest of our lives to talk.”

“You’ve got that right.” Shawn said kissing her softly before closing his eyes. “Someday soon we’ll be back to where we were two years ago. And when that day comes look out Miss Black, because I’m going to sweep you off your feet; you won’t know what hit you!”



Chapter 26

Belle sighed as she rolled over and felt Shawn protectively wrap his arms around her. He was still asleep, she could hear his even breathing, and she thought it was sweet that he still wanted to hold her. Grinning she slowly pulled away from him and started to climb from the bed. “Ouch!” She exclaimed as she carelessly stood on her leg and reached out for support as it gave out on her. Her fingers caught the edge of the bedside table and it came crashing down on her. “Oh.”

Shawn bolted upright at the sound of Belle’s whimpering cries and looked around for her. Spotting her head resting against the bed he climbed out and walked around to her. The bedside table was resting on her sore knee, pinning her to the floor. “Hey you, what happened?” He asked as he carefully removed the table and helped her back onto the bed.

“I was trying to go to the bathroom.” Belle said with a hiccup. Her leg was throbbing again and she was starting to think she’d done more than just bruise it. “But I stood up with out thinking and fell, grabbing the table for support.”

“Why didn’t you just wake me up?” Shawn asked bending to examine her knee. “I don’t think you should try to stand on this at all. Come on, I’ll take you into the bathroom and wait until you’re finished.”

“I feel like a child.” Belle grumbled as Shawn carried her towards the bathroom. “I’m twenty two, almost twenty three and I’m still being carried around!”

“Stop your whining.” Shawn teased as he set her down inside the bathroom carefully, making sure she was on her good leg. “Just call when your finished and I’ll come get you. I’m going to check the damage outside.”

Shawn quietly made his way through the still dark cabin. The power was still off and the temperature in the room was quite cold, making him glad that Aimee was sleeping with Zac. He slowly opened the door only to be forced back inside by raging winds and rain. “Well it’s still storming.” He said locking the door and checking the taps in case they were still running the water, nothing came out and he shook his head.

“Shawn.” Belle called out as she opened the bathroom door. “I’m done.”

“Coming.” Shawn said quickly moving to pick her up again. He could see pain in her eyes and wondered if she’d taken any aspirin for it. “Looks like we’re still raging out there. I’m thinking we’ll send a mayday to the coast guard in the morning so they know we’re out here.”

“Good idea.” Belle said as they lay in each others’ arms. It was like nothing had ever happened between them, he was still holding her like he did when they were 18. “I don’t understand why my knee hurts this much. I got his by a small log in wavy water and I can’t walk on it. I just don’t get it.”

“There are a lot of things that could be wrong.” Shawn said kissing her nose lightly. “But we’ll deal with it when we get back to Salem. But for now, we go back to sleep since it is only 2 am.”

“Good idea.” Belle said with a small yawn. She was surprised that she was able to sleep in Shawn’s arms, and it made her feel a little better about her knee. “I love you Shawn.”

“I love you too Isabella.” Shawn said curling up against her back and snuggling into the bed. He smiled as he remembered that they had made love for the first time in this very bed almost five years ago. ‘We’ll make love here again.’ He thought kissing her shoulder blade lightly. ‘I know we will.’

***

“It’s not broken, but you’ve done a load of damage.” Lexie said as she looked at the X-rays of Belle’s knee. “It looks like you may have torn the ligament and tendon sometime during the past two days. I do see a few bone fragments over here though. I’m sorry Belle, but it looks like you’re going to need surgery to fix this up.”

Belle groaned at the prospect of being laid up again. She hated being confined to a bed or a room and now she’d have to do it again. “How soon can I get it done?” She asked hoping to get it over with as soon as possible.

“I’m going to call orthopedics and see when they have an opening.” Lexie said reaching for her phone. She spoke to someone on the other end while making notes on Belle’s chart. “If you have time for another appointment then you can probably get in tomorrow at the latest. Dr. Cooke has a free appointment in two minutes, I’ll get you up there now and then we’ll know more.”

“Ok.” Belle said as Lexie came around to push her wheelchair. “Let’s roll.”

***

“Mommy have an owie?” Aimee asked as she leaned over to kiss her mother from her place in her father’s arms. The machines around the room make funny noises and they scared her.

“Yes sweet girl mommy has an owie.” Belle replied groggily smiling up at her daughter. True to her word, Belle had been into surgery later that day and now she was waiting for the anesthetic to wear off. “But I’ll be ok in a little while.”

“Mommy had to get a new owie to get her old one fixed.” Shawn explained to the wide eyed child. “Give her another kiss and I’ll take you back out to Grandma, ok?”

“I love you mommy.” Aimee said doing just as her father told her. “Here, you keep Autumn, she’ll make you feel better.”

Belle smiled as her daughter dropped the soft teddy into her arms and waved goodbye. As soon as Aimee had been old enough to climb up on hers and Shawn’s bed she’d claimed the bear as her own. Lightly fingering the teddy’s ear Belle felt herself getting sleepy again.

“Belle are you still awake?” Dr. Cooke asked as he stopped by her bed.

“Yes.” Belle said shaking the tired feeling. “How did it go?” She smiled as Shawn wrapped his fingers around her hand.

“We had to repair a few things.” Dr. Cooke explained in a soft voice. “Two ligaments were torn, and two tendons had damage to them. Those bone fragments that Lexie pointed out had to be removed and the fluid sac was drained. All in all things went great and you should be back on your feet in a couple of weeks. We’re not going to cast you, just give you a brace to wear for a little bit. I’ll recommend you to a physio clinic and you can make those arrangements starting in about two weeks. Sound good?”<br />

“Thank you.” Belle said nodding her head at him.

“Come in and see me after your first physio appointment and I’ll have a look at things.” He said before he turned to leave them alone. “I’ll be back to release you later.”

Shawn felt the hair on his neck stand up at the tone of the doctors voice. He didn’t know what it was about medical staff, but they all seemed to have a hit of sexual intention when it came to Belle. “Go back to sleep sweetie, I’ll be right here.” Shawn said giving her a soft kiss on the forehead. ‘No way in hell I’m leaving you alone with him around.’



Chapter 27

Belle stifled a scream as she slowly hobbled after Aimee on her crutches. “Aimee come on, we have to go.” She said leaning against the wall to catch her breath. “Aimee, if we don’t get in the car in the next two minutes we’re going to miss saying goodbye to Grandma Marlena before she goes to Switzerland.”

“No!” Aimee said with a giggle as she dashed past her mother and hurried into the living room. “Don’t want to say goodbye to her. She has to stay if I don’t say goodbye.”

“Aimee, she has to go with or with out your kisses.” Belle said fighting tears that were welling in her eyes. Aimee was getting to be too smart and too quick for her to cope with on her own and she was thinking that it was time to put her into daycare. “Aimee, come on please? Don’t make me have to call uncle Brady.”

“Why is Grandma Marlena going away?” Aimee as she skipped up to her mother. “I don’t want her to go.”

“I know you don’t.” Belle said quickly slipping Aimee into her jacket and pulling a hat down over her blonde hair. “I don’t want her to go either. But she wants to go over and help those who have problems with voices in their heads because of that war she told you about.”

“What about you?” Aimee asked doing a little dance towards the door. “You have voices in your head, I hear you talk to them.”

Belle looked at her daughter and gasped. “Aimee, I do not have voices in my head!” She said feeling hurt that her daughter could think that her mother was a nutcase. “When I talk to myself I’m usually cooking or things like that where I want to make sure I’m doing things right. No one is talking back to me like with these people Grandma wants to help.”

“If you say so.” Aimee said grabbing her mothers purse and heading towards the car. The late October wind blew her hair around and she giggled when a leaf went flying past her. “I still think you’re talking to someone. Why else would you be yelling at someone named Rex?”

Belle gasped again at the mention of her ex-husbands name. “Aimee, how do you know about Rex?” She asked carefully making her way down towards the car.

“I hear you talking to him.” Aimee replied trying to open the door so she could climb in. “You call him mean names and tell him that he can’t ruin your life anymore. Did you love this guy mommy?”

“No sweetie, I don’t love this guy and I never have.” Belle said opening the door and letting Aimee climb inside. “I love your daddy and he’s the only one.”

“What about Grandpa John?”

“Never mind your Grandpa John.” Belle said as tears welled in her eyes as she pulled herself into the car and started the engine. “He and I don’t get along anymore, just like he and Grandma Marlena don’t get along. Who told you about him anyway?”

“Uncle Brady.”

Belle fumed as they made their way towards her mothers apartment. Their father had been listed as off limits for Aimee and it bothered her that Brady had not honored her and Shawn’s wishes. She was still angry when they met Shawn out side the apartment complex.

“Hey, how are my favorite girls?” Shawn asked as he helped them both out of the car. He could feel tension as soon as he opened the door to get Belle out and it made him worry that something had happened while he’d been at the office.

“Mommy mad.” Aimee said as she skipped towards the doors.

“What happened?” Shawn asked placing a gentle kiss on Belle’s cheek.

“Aimee thinks I’m a crackpot.” Belle said shaking her head in disgust. “She heard me yelling at Rex in one of my rages, or so I’m assuming. And it seems that Brady has been talking to her about John.”

“Oh.” Shawn said as his own anger started to bubble up inside her. “I thought we made it clear that he wasn’t to do that?”

“We did.” Belle said as she hobbled into the beautiful building after the tiny girl. The people in the building knew who she was and who she would be going to see, but it still made her nervous to let the child go on her own. “But it seems that he thought he had an authority over her.”

“We’ll have to talk to him later on today.” Shawn said chuckling at the sight of Aimee pushing all the buttons on the elevator and the operator struggling to keep the doors open. “Aimee’s heading to the pub with mom as soon as we drop her off. Let’s go pay Mr. Black a visit after that.”

***

Belle sat quietly as Brady brought coffee into the living room. She had wanted to burst in and start pounding on his chest telling him that he was scum. But Shawn had kept his cool and told her that they needed to talk over it quietly and civilly. “Thank you.” She slowly stirred the coffee around in the cup, too angry to actually drink any of it.

“So what brings you two by today?” Brady asked giving Shawn a cup and smiling at Mimi. “Do you miss your mom already?”

“This has nothing to do with mom.” Belle said shaking her head in response. “This has something to do with what Aimee told me this afternoon. We were getting in the car when she asked me if I loved Grandpa John.”

Brady choked on his coffee when Belle said his father’s name. Aimee had promised never to tell her mother that they talked about her other grandfather, the one she’d never met. “Oh, I thought that you weren’t going to tell her about him.”

“We didn’t.” Shawn said taking Belle’s hand to calm her. “She told Belle that you did. I thought we were in an understanding about him Brady. We do not want her to know anything about him. Look at what he’s done to Belle.”

“I know what he’s done to Belle.” Brady said glancing at Mimi who looked scared at the direction the conversation had gone. “But there are underlying circumstances that mean he’s going to be back around in Salem soon and she’s going to see him once and a while.”

“He cannot come back to Salem.” Belle said shaking her head in fear. If her father came back then she and Aimee were in danger, and that couldn’t happen. “Brady, nothing can happen to bring him back, nothing.”

“There is something Belle, and he’s coming back.” Brady said wishing that he’d had time to talk to Mimi about all this. “I’m sorry Tink, but he has to be here for this.”

“What the fuck are you talking about Brady?” Belle asked slamming her coffee cup down on the table and glaring at her brother. “What on this earth could be this important to you that he has to come back into my life? A life that I’m just getting on track.”

“Belle, Brady and I are married.” Mimi blurted sending Brady a warning look. This was thin ice for them, and she wanted to be the ones to break it. “Brady and I got married when we went to Vegas last month for work.”

Belle was speechless at her best friends words. “Married?”

“Belle, we wanted you to be there, but we thought that it would be too hard for you to handle.” Brady said moving to sit next to Mimi on the loveseat. “Belle, we’re having a baby and I want Dad to be here when the time comes.”

“No!” Belle said jumping to her feet and glaring at her brother. “No way in hell Brady! Look at what he did to me when Aimee was born! You want to bring that bastard here to be near your own child? And Mimi, how could you lie to me?”

“I didn’t want to upset you.” Mimi said feeling bad for hiding her relationship with Brady. “I was so happy and you were so scared! I didn’t want to make you feel any better!”

“No, you’re nothing but a bitch, that’s the problem!” Belle screamed reaching for her crutches. “You told me that you and Brady were nothing but friends. That was a blatant lie.” She watched those who supposedly loved her and scoffed that their looks of sympathy. “No, don’t even try to look at me like that. I’m healing in my own way and all this is going to do is set me back. I hate you! Both of you!”

Shawn watched in astonishment as Belle stormed out of the house. “Now you’ve done it Brady Black.” He said through clenched teeth. “I’m not going to fix this for you. I don’t want to see you anywhere near Belle or Aimee until I hear her say it’s ok. And the same goes for you Mimi.” He stood and headed towards the door, but Mimi’s sobs made him turn around. “Don’t bother Meems, you knew that hiding your relationship from Belle would hurt her more than telling her. You just weren’t honest enough with yourself to do what was right, and now I’m the one who has to live with it. Thanks for fucking up your sisters life, and thanks for ruining mine.”



Chapter 28




Belle sat quietly looking out at the dark mountains that loomed next to her window and smiled to herself. They had done the right thing after Mimi and Brady’s announcement. John Black would never get his hands on Aimee or Belle again, and to ensure it they left Salem, for good. The forests and mountains of British Columbia were the perfect place to bring up a small child, with room to roam and nice people to meet. She sighed remembering how Aimee had flourished in the three years since their move. Already in the fourth grade, her intelligence was well above that of a five year old, and Belle was thrilled to be able to teach her part time at home after they both got home from school, it made their time together perfect and happy.

“Here you are.” Shawn said as he poked his head into their den to see her smiling out the window. The smile was something that was finally coming back to her face, after the tears of pain and guilt that she’d been shedding for the past three years. “What’s up? Just looking at those mountains again?”

“Pretty much.” Belle said nodding and s giggling as he slid behind her and pulled her back into his chest. “I called mom today and that got me thinking again. And you know that I love to look at the mountains when I’m thinking.”

“What did your mother have to say this week?” Shawn asked wishing he’d been home to talk to the woman he loved as much as his own parents. “How is Europe treating her?”

“She’s loving it.” Belle said glad that her mother had decided to remain in Europe instead of coming back and dealing with John and her disrespectful step son. “She wants to come home and visit us Christmas time while your parents are here. She said Aimee deserves a real holiday with most of her family. She’s offering to fly up every available member of your family so we’re all together.”

“Gran would love that.” Shawn said kissing her cheek lightly. “She’s been asking if we’ve got enough room to bring her up. I think us being away for so long has been unsettling for her. I won’t make your mother pay for it, but I think it’s a good idea. But I’ll have to fly home to meet Gran, I don’t want her to fly with out someone.”

“That’s fine with me, gives me time to work on getting presents wrapped and the house decorated.” Belle said feeling content. This was what she wanted out of life. They lived only a few miles from town, they had a huge green lawn with the forest at the very back and the mountains looming above them. She loved watching Aimee run with her friends, even if they were a lot older than her, they seemed to protect her because she was younger. “And I’d love to see your Gran again. I miss the Horton Family Christmas Tree.”

“I’m sure she’ll bring it to you.” Shawn said wondering how he could get his Great grandmother on the phone without Belle hearing him. “What are you and Aimee doing tomorrow? I know it’s her day off school, are you teaching her here or letting her really get off the hook.”

“She is going to Vancouver with Molly’s family for the day.” Belle said grinning at the thought of her five year old daughter in the stores of a big city. “They’re going Christmas shopping and offered to take Aimee with them. I gave her my credit card… or so she thinks.”

“You got her a visa didn’t you?” Shawn asked with a chuckle. Aimee loved to shop and going to the mall with her was a nightmare. “That girl is gonna clean out both our trust funds.”

“Nah, it’s got a two thousand dollar limit.” Belle said smiling again. “And it’s a card from the bank. It’s attached to ours so we’ll have control over it. I’ve linked it to my palm pilot so I can keep an eye on her if I go out. I’d like to just drive for a few hours and relax in this beautiful weather.”

“You love it that there’s three feet of snow on the ground don’t you?” Shawn asked lightly tickling her sides. “This is so unlike BC though. I can’t help thinking that it’s got something to do with your good mood that there’s snow on the ground. You should have seen Aimee when she noticed the extra inches this morning, like a kid in a candy shop she was.”

“She loves it.” Belle said nodding her head. “She asked if we could go skiing over her spring break and I told her I’d talk to you about it. I’d love to take her to Whistler for a day or two, I think it would do her a world of good to get out and have some fun.”

“I’d love to his the slopes.” Shawn said attacking her sides with a fury. Her giggles and attempts to get away made him feel good, knowing that they might finally be past everything that happened. “And the thought of you curled up in a log cabin under a handmade quilt is going to be my undoing.”

“Oh Mr. Brady, are your hormones getting the best of you again?” Belle asked with a giggle. It had been five years sine they’d made love, and she knew it was killing him not to be able to do it again. But she was so close to being over everything that happened, she wasn’t ready to ruin it and set herself back just to please him. Sure they’d fooled around in bed a little, but not enough to satisfy him, or her for that matter. “Soon Shawn.” She whispered resting her head on his shoulder. “Soon.”

***

Belle smiled as she watched Alice withdrew the final ornament for the Christmas tree, a special one to commemorate the four family members who had been lost in the past few years. Abe Carver, though not family, had been there when ever a Brady or a Horton had needed him had been shot down in the line of duty, protecting his young son. Jack Deveraux had been tragically killed after a car he was helping people out of exploded, but in the process he’d saved five children. Caroline Brady had passed away peacefully in her sleep with no apparent cause. Maggie Horton had been killed by a drunk driver the Christmas before.

Belle beamed as the ornament was hung next to Alice and Toms. When Alice had called her over the summer requesting an ornament, she’d been honored. It seemed that Belle’s love of art had not gone unnoticed and she’d delicately placed the four faces of the family on the gold bulb. She grinned as Shawn squeezed her hand.

“That is probably the most beautiful ornament on the tree.” Hope commented moving closer to inspect the intricate art work. “It looks like photographs.”

“It’s not photographs.” Belle said with a laugh. “I spent twenty hours on each face, I wish I could have used pictures!” She shook her head and laughed along with the rest of her family.

“This is gonna be the best Christmas.” Aimee said wiggling onto her Great-great grandmothers lap and smiling. “Can you read us the Christmas story Gran?”

“I don’t think I’m up to it.” Alice replied placing a warm kiss on Aimee’s cheek. “How about if you ask your mother to read it for us?”

Belle gasped and noticed the sparkle in the old woman’s eyes. “Me?” She asked in total shock. Never in her life had she expected to read the Christmas Story at a Horton family party. “Are you sure.”

“You may not bare the Brady or Horton name, but you will always be one at heart.” Alice said extending the book out to the tiny girl. “Please Isabella, do me the honor of reading this story tonight.”

Belle gulped as she took the well worn book and opened it to the marked page. Pride surged through her body as she started to read the tale that she’d listened to from before she could remember. She cuddled Aimee when the child curled up on her lap and fought tears as her daughter joined her in reading the final few verses of the story…

And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them,

"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."




Chapter 29 - NC17

“Look at those hills!” Aimee exclaimed as she jumped out of the car. She’d had no problems convincing her parents that Whistler was the perfect place for them to spend her spring break, since she knew they both loved to ski. “Oh, can I go on that one?”

Belle laughed as her daughter pointed to the longest hill that was visible to them. “I think you need to get in some more years of practice before you can go on big hills like that.” She explained as Shawn handed her a pair of skis and slipped the bag containing Aimee’s over his shoulder before grabbing for his snowboard. “Your father and I don’t even go on those kinds of hills.”

“Oh, well if you and daddy can’t go on them then I definitely can’t go.” Aimee said sliding along a patch of ice and giggling when she toppled over into the freshly fallen snow. “Can I take lessons today?”

“Of course you may.” Belle said glad Aimee hadn’t asked her to be the teacher. She may love to glide down the hills, but her technique was her own and wanted Aimee to learn the proper ways. “Do you want to learn by yourself or go with a group?”

“By myself.” Aimee said taking her mothers free hand as they approached the lodge. She wasn’t a fan of crowds, and knew that this would be a busy place. “Is that ok?”

“That’s fine.” Belle said glancing up at Shawn. Aimee was so quiet around people, making friends easily, but being very mistrusting. ‘So much like me.’ Belle thought squeezing her hand reassuringly. “Let’s take you in and see if they have anything available right now.”

“I’ll go pick up our lift tickets.” Shawn said slipping Aimee’s skis and boots over her shoulder and giving her a kiss. “Be a big girl for daddy and have a fun time ok?”

“I will daddy.” Aimee said giving him a huge smile. “You have fun too.”

Shawn watched as Belle and Aimee headed over towards a short line for lessons and smiled. Aimee was such a joy and he silently thanked God for her and Belle. He glanced at them again before heading over to the ticket counter to get the lift tickets. ‘Well this vacation may be just what Belle and I need.’

***

“Is she asleep?” Shawn asked as Belle closed Aimee’s door and headed towards him on the couch. He’d noticed that Aimee’s eyes had begun to droop over an hour ago, but the tiny dynamo had fought it off as long as she could. Until her mother insisted that it was bedtime.

“Dropped as soon as her head hit the pillow.” Belle said sliding onto Shawn’s lap and wrapping her arms around his neck. They had started to become more physical with each other since Christmas, but always stopping before it went too far. “I’m sure she’s out for the night after the day she had. And that leaves us with the evening to ourselves.”

“And what would you like to do with that time?” Shawn asked trying to keep his voice smooth. He lightly ran his fingers along the soft blue sweater she’d pulled on after her shower and lowered his lips to hers in a gentle kiss.

“I was thinking that maybe we’d take a dip in that hot tub on the balcony out there.” Belle said pointing to the patio doors that could be seen through their open bedroom door. “I mean, it’s there and I’d hate to see it go to waste.”

“I think that sounds like a great idea.” Shawn said as she climbed up off his lap and grasped his hands in hers. This was a side of Belle that he hadn’t seen in a while and he wanted to make sure he didn’t push her. “But, we didn’t bring swimsuits did we?”

“No.” Belle said glad her back was turned to him so he couldn’t see the grin on her face. “But that’s ok. I mean, you have seen me naked before. I think you can control yourself for a twenty minute soak can’t you?”

Shawn groaned at the torture she was already putting him through. “Belle, are you sure this is a good idea?” He asked knowing that he would have to use every bit of willpower he had to keep from jumping her once they got in the water. “I mean, do you realize what you’re asking me to do?”

“Sure I do.” Belle said closing the patio door behind them and checking to make sure there were towels in the warmer. “I mean, I’m stiff from skiing and so are you. This soak will do wonders for your body. Nothing has to happen.”

Shawn tried to fight out his hormones as she grabbed the sweater by the hem and pulled it over her head, tossing it to the ground. A powder blue silky bra covered her body and he groaned. Her breasts had grown in size after the baby and Aimee and he longed to take them in his hands and love them they way he had when they were teenagers. “Belle.”

“Come on Shawn, it’s cold out here.” Belle said slowly pushing her jeans over her hips and stepping out of them. She’d slipped her socks off earlier and was glad the lodge staff had kept the deck free of snow. She watched his eyes as she reached behind her back and tried to undo her bra. “Ugh, could you help me with this?” She turned her back and hoped he’d undo it for her.

Shawn slowly reached out and brushed his fingers over the fabric. He’d noticed how her nipples had hardened when they’d been exposed to the cool air through the fabric and he wondered if they would get harder from being completely bare. Fumbling with the clasp for a second he quickly released it. “There you go.”

“Thanks.” Belle said turning back to him and letting the fabric join her sweater on the floor. “Brr.. it’s really cold out here.” She slowly pushed the matching panties she wore down her legs, and gave them a toss. They landed in a heap near his feet and she giggled before stepping towards the tub. She could feel Shawn’s eyes on her body and she shivered with excitement.

Shawn watched as Belle slipped her body down into the steaming water, his gaze settling on the mess of blonde curls that covered her most sensitive parts and contemplated going and joining Aimee in her room for the night. Belle’s body had been foreign to him for almost six years, and he couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if he joined her in the hot tub.

Belle watched as Shawn fought an internal battle. She moaned contently hoping to entice him to come in with her. “Oh this feels so good.” She said leaning her head back and watching him through barely open eyes.

Shawn shook his head as his hormones took over. Grabbing his shirt and pulling it over his head he glanced at her again. ‘I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into Belle Black.’
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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

November 24th, 2004, 8:53 pm #10

A Shawn and Belle fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC17.


Chapters 30 - 39

Chapter 30 - NC17

Belle’s heart beat quickened as she watched Shawn slowly undo his jeans. Her eyes trailed along his smooth, bare chest down to the trail of hair that slid behind his jeans to the destination that was about to be bared to her. She felt the familiar feeling of fear that tried to creep into her mind and she fought it off the way Mary had taught her years before. She swallowed hard as she watched his arousal spring out of his jeans as he pushed them down his legs.

“Do you want more bubbles?” Shawn asked before he went to climb in the water. He climbed in across from her when she shook her head no. “Oh, you’re right, this does feel good.” He moaned as the water surrounded his tired legs and hips.

“I know what would feel even better.” Belle said with a hint of inner meaning in her voice. “Why don’t you come over here and I’ll rub those knots out of your back?” She ran her fingers over his knee and smiled at him.

Shawn didn’t have the reserve to refuse. He moved across the tub to sit in front of her. He relaxed as her fingers skimmed across his skin leaving a trail of fire in their wake. His body screamed at him to turn around and take her right then and there but he ignored what he wanted and let her do exactly as she pleased. He actually jumped when he felt her lips slide along his damp shoulder and started to wonder if this was her way of telling him that she was ready.

Belle grinned as Shawn’s body shook with arousal when she allowed her tongue to trail along between lips. “Do you like that Shawn?” She whispered breathlessly in his ear, flicking the lobe with her tongue. She giggled as she felt him hold his breath for a few moments before he let it out slowly. “Are you aroused Shawn?”

“Belle don’t.” Shawn pleaded, unable to make his body move away from her. Her bare breasts were pressed against his back and he could feel the curve of her thighs against his hips. His hormones were scaring him, and he knew that he couldn’t take much more. “Belle.”

“Do you really want me to stop Shawn?” Belle asked moving her lips away from him to give him the opportunity to move away. She smiled as he stayed in place and she wondered if he wanted what she did. “Shawn, I don’t want me to stop.”

Shawn turned around to face her, placing his knees on the bottom of the tub. “Are you sure Belle?” He asked finding his voice. His legs shook as he tried to keep himself at eye level with her. “I don’t want to hurt you Belle, I just can’t stand the thought of hurting you.”

“You’ve never hurt me.” Belle said running her fingers along his chest. “Shawn, you’ve sat by for five years and waited for me. Please, don’t make me sit here and wait. I don’t want to lose my nerve.”

Shawn leaned forward and gently pressed his lips against hers. He smiled inwardly as she eagerly kissed him back, with a passion he’d nearly forgotten about. Slowly he placed his hands on her hips, relishing in the feel of her skin under his fingers. He quickly explored the skin that he’d dreamt about over the years and prayed that he wouldn’t ruin it by letting his body get the best of him.

“I know that you’re about ready to lose it.” Belle said as he gently kneaded her breasts, his lips and teeth nibbling along her neck. She entwined her fingers in his hair, realizing that it was in need of a cutting, just the way she like it. “And I think that maybe we should take care of that before we go too far.”

“No Belle, I want it to happen together.” Shawn said pulling her close to his body, wishing he could bury himself inside her right then. He groaned as her hands trailed down his body, her small hand wrapping around his engorged member. “Belle, no.”<br />

“Shhh…” Belle said placing her free hand against his lips to silence him. She gently pulled her hand up along his erection, squeezing him slightly. “What do you way we take this to the bed, I don’t want this to happen out here, and I don’t think the staff would appreciate it.”

Shawn nodded and gently removed her hand from his pulsating organ. He gathered her in his arms and quickly moved into the room, closing the sliding doors behind them. He deposited her on the bed, her body glistened with the water from the tub and he groaned despite himself. “Oh Belle.”

“No Shawn, I want this to last.” Belle said rolling him over on his back and straddled his legs. She reached out again and encased him with her hand.

Belle gagged as Rex forced his swollen rod into her mouth. This was wrong, she never wanted to do this with anyone. Crying she choked as he thrust himself in and out of her mouth, hitting the back of her throat each time. Fighting the nausea that was building in her stomach she clawed at his legs with her nails.

“No.” Belle said shaking away the memory. She concentrated on bringing Shawn to his release and smiled when he arched up into his hand. “Come on Shawn, stop fighting it.” She teased running her free hand along his thigh and giggled as he quivered in her hand.

“Belle, no.” Shawn said fighting to keep his cool. He wanted this to be perfect, he wanted to empty himself when he was buried deep inside her body with her withering underneath him. He groaned realizing his thought was going to be his undoing. “Belle.”

Belle smiled as she watched Shawn’s face relax in pleasure. “That’s more like it.” She said reaching for a something to clean him up with. She carefully removed every trace of mess from his body, laughing when she noticed that he was fully aroused already. “That was fast Mr. Brady.”

“You do that to me remember?” Shawn said taking her and gently rolling her over onto her back. He was afraid that by pinning her to the bed he would bring back bad memories, but the groan that emerged from her lips changed his mind. “You don’t know what you do to me.”

“Make love to me Shawn.” Belle said as she felt his erection nestle into the V of her thighs. She arched into him, her body begging for more. “Please.”

“Shhh…” Shawn said trailing his lips along her collarbone before moving to her breasts. Gently, he took one swollen nub between his lips and rolled the other between his finger and thumb until she was shaking under him. “Slow is how this needs to be Belle, just like the first time.”

“No, I just want you.” Belle said breathlessly as she arched up into him again. “Please, there is time for slow later, I just need you now.” She threaded her fingers through his hair and pulled him up to her lips.

“Did you bring protection Belle?” Shawn asked realizing that he hadn’t even thought that anything like this would happen so he hadn’t thought to bring anything. “I didn’t think of this.”

“I’ve been planning this for weeks.” Belle said shaking her head at him. “I didn’t bring anything Shawn, I was thinking, that maybe we could try and give Aimee a little brother or sister. What do you think of that?”

“I think that I love you.” Shawn said slowly parting her legs with his knees. Gently he tested her warmth and smiled when he found her wet and waiting for him. “And that I would love for you to carry my child again.”

“Good.” Belle said pushing her body up against him, urging him to enter her.

Shawn gently pushed his finger inside her and smiled when she moaned in pleasure. “Are you sure this is what you want Belle?” He asked teasing her sensitive nub with his thumb.

“Yes Shawn, I’ve been waiting for this day.” Belle said looking deep into his chocolate colored eyes and smiling. “I want this more than I did before.”

Shawn didn’t need to hear anymore. He gently placed himself at her opening before slowly pushing inside her body. He slid inside her easily and he moaned at the unfamiliar pleasure of being unprotected.

A scream of pain erupted as he forced himself inside her unprepared body, and she heard him say the sentence that scared the life out of her, “now you’ll carry my baby, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Belle bit down on her lip as more memories flooded her mind. She looked at Shawn and instantly relaxed under his touch. He was not Rex, he wasn’t going to hurt her. She moaned as he started pushing in and out of her. “Oh Shawn.”

Shawn pressed his lips into hers as he snaked a hand down between them to rub against her nub. He knew that despite her attempts to relieve him of some tension earlier, he wouldn’t be able to last too long. “Belle, it has been too long.” He said as he thrust himself as deep as he could inside her.

“Shawn.” Belle gasped as she felt her body begin to tighten with her climax. “Shawn.” She dug her fingers into his shoulders as she felt herself fall over the edge. “SHAWN!”

Shawn clenched his jaw as he felt her body squeeze around him. “Belle, I can’t…” He fumbled for words as he fought his release. “Belle.” He grunted as he lost his battle and tumbled after her.

Belle fought a scream of pleasure when she felt Shawn’s heat spill inside her, sending her into her second orgasm in less than a minute. “Shawn.” She said as he collapsed against her body, pressing his lips into her neck. “Oh Shawn.”

“Belle why are you crying?” Shawn asked as he noticed the tears that slid down her cheeks landing on the pillows. He gently pulled out of her body and cradled her against his chest.

“I’m ok Shawn.” Belle said feeling safe in his arms. “I’m just so happy. I knew Christmas Eve when I read the Christmas Story in front of your family that I was ready to get back to what we used to be I want us to be together like we were before Aimee was born.”

“We will be.” Shawn said kissing her forehead and pulling the blankets up over their bodies. “I promise you Belle, nothing will keep us form being together, nothing.”



Chapter 31 - Rated NC17

“Where ya goin?” Aimee asked her mother as she hopped up on her parents huge four poster bed and watched as her mother gently placed clothes in an open suitcase. She knew that they weren’t going skiing since they’d gone in March.

“Your dad and I are going on a little trip.” Belle explained carefully tucking a wrapped package under her pajamas. She had made the purchase especially for Shawn, and she hoped he would be happy with what was inside. “He’s taking me to Italy for a week.”

“Am I staying here?” Aimee asked wondering which of her grandmothers would be coming to stay with her while they were gone. “Or am I going to Salem?”

“You’re staying here with your grandparents.” Belle said wondering how her mother and Shawn’s parents would deal with being with Aimee for a whole week with out she and Shawn around. “You still have school for another month remember?”

“I know.” Aimee said straightening a group of socks that her mother had packed. “I just wondered if I will ever get to go back to Salem again.” Though she loved being in Canada, she missed her grandparents.”

“When you’re much older we’ll go back to Salem.” Belle explained wondering why Aimee suddenly had a fascination with Illinois. “But all your grandparents are coming up to spend time with you while your father and I are gone, so this makes twice in one year you’ve seen them. In fact, they’re coming up again in August for vacation so you’ll get to see them a lot.”

“That’s cool.” Aimee said jumping down off the bed and heading for the door. “I’m going to finish my homework before you go, I want to go get grandma and grandpa. Granny’s here already by the way. She’s down stairs talking to daddy.”

“Thank you Aimee.” Belle called rolling her eyes at her daughter. More than likely she’d already asked Shawn all the same questions she’d just gotten. She’d gotten into the habit of going and asking both she and Shawn the same questions just to see if the answers differed. Closing the suitcase she wondered how Aimee would be when she grew up. Would she be a mean know it all, or would she have her mothers caring disposition with her fathers personality.

“My parents plane just landed.” Shawn said coming into the room. “They caught an early one so they’re here already. They’re going to take the bus from Vancouver so they don’t have to wait. I’ll take Aimee to the bus station when it’s time. Are you all packed?”

“Yes I am.” Belle said feeling proud of herself. She never got things done on time, and yet here she was packed early. “I have everything on my list in my bag, and I only needed one bag.”

“But I assume you’ll be taking a second one so you can bring stuff back for everyone?” Shawn said smiling at her. She seemed to glow in recent weeks and he enjoyed her more relaxed attitude. They finally had a sex life, one he let her control completely. “I know you well Isabella Black.”

“I know you do.” Belle said grinning at him. “I can’t believe we get to go away for a whole week. A week with out Aimee, or our parents or our friends. A week of just us.”

“What ever will we do with a whole week to ourselves?” Shawn asked playfully as he moved to take her in his arms. “I mean, we’ll need something to occupy ourselves with.”

“What about the beach, and the hot tub, and the sauna and the bed?” Belle asked knowing what he was inferring to. “We’ll have a whole lot of places to occupy ourselves with while we’re away. And then there’s always the airplane.”

“Thinking of joining the mile high club are we?” Shawn asked kissing her softly. He slowly ran one hand from her neck, down over her breasts to rest on her hip. He’d noticed that her body was becoming slightly larger and he wondered if maybe their attempts at creating another baby were successful though Belle had said that she wasn’t pregnant. “I think I could get into that.”

“Into the plane or into me?” Belle asked brushing a hand over the front of his jeans. “Not to cut this short, but you’re not packed yet Mr. Brady. I’m going to go see my mom before we go.”

Shawn groaned as she left the room. She knew just how to get him all worked up and then leave him hanging, it was like her little game. ‘I’ll get you on the plane Isabella.’ He thought to himself as he pulled open the closet. ‘And I’ll get you good.’

***

“Shawn stop it.” Belle said as Shawn pounced on her as she lay on the bed. It had been a long day for them, sightseeing and taking in museums along with dinner and dancing in the evening. He kissed along her neck and she smiled when he slowly slipped a hand up her dress. “Shawn.”

“Mmm?” Shawn asked moving to her lips to capture them with his own. He’d been fighting the urge to make love to her all day and now that he had her alone he decided to take advantage of it. He slipped a finger inside her panties and found her hot and wet for him. “Are you sure you want me to stop?”

“No.” Belle said arching into his hand, trying to get him to touch her again. “Shawn please.” She begged. He didn’t have to try hard to make her ready to make love, sometimes all it took was a look from across the room.

“What do you want Isabella?” Shawn asked pushing himself up off her body. He looked down at her lying on the silk of the bed in her white silk dress and thought she looked like an angel. “Do you want more of this?” He asked flicking his finger over her sensitive nub.

“Oh yes.” Belle said moaning in response. The silk of her dress and panties had her squirming all night as they flowed over her body like his hands during their lovemaking. “Yes.”

“I have something I hope you’ll like more.” Shawn said touching her with something cool. “Do you know what that is Belle?” He touched her again, making circles with it around her heat.

“No.” Belle said biting down on her lip so she wouldn’t cry out. What ever it was made her body go crazy. “Shawn, what is it?”

“I want to ask you something Belle.” Shawn said bringing her closer to her release with the tiny object. He knew he wanted her to remember what he was about to do, and this was the only way he could ensure it. “Do you like what I’m doing to you?”

Belle moaned as her head rolled to one side. She was so close to her climax that it hurt, but Shawn was teasing her, stopping and starting to make sure he had control. “Oh yes.” She hissed arching into his hand. “Shawn, please.”

“Do you love it Isabella?” Shawn asked watching her face as it contorted with pleasure. He knew that she was close enough that even his teasing would bring her to an end. “Do you love me?”

“Yes.” Belle said pushing her burning desire into his hand.

“Belle look into my eyes.” Shawn said pulling away from her before replacing the cool object with his finger. “I want you to look into my eyes as you come, I want to see your soul.”

Belle forced her eyes open and gasped when she noticed that Shawn was holding a ring in front of her eyes. “Shawn, what?”

“As you tumble into pleasure I want to ask you something.” Shawn said as he slipped a finger inside her and felt her body clench around him. “Marry me Belle Black, be my wife.”

“Yes!” Belle exclaimed as she finally reached the blissful climax she’d been waiting for. “Yes, yes, yes.”

Shawn removed his hands from her body and locked his eyes on hers. He was positive that she’d accepted his proposal and tears welled in his eyes. He’d been wanting her to his wife for most of his life and now it looked like it would finally be happening. “Yes?”

“Yes.” Belle nodded as her body relaxed and tears slid along her cheeks. “Yes Shawn I will marry you.” She giggled as she realized that Shawn had been touching her with the ring.

Shawn didn’t try to hide his tears as he slid the ring on her finger and captured her lips again. “I love you Belle.” He whispered into her mouth as he felt her un tuck his shirt and start to undo the buttons. “You’ve made me the happiest man on earth.”

“I love you too.” Belle said running her fingers over his bare chest. “Now, make love to me Shawn, make love to me.”



Chapter 32

Belle groaned as her stomach refused to cooperate with her. An early morning phone call from home had them heading back to Vancouver three days early. And the stress of it was killing her stomach. “Ugh, Shawn, can you find my gravol?”

“Sure.” Shawn said watching her with worried eyes. She’d been feeling ill since his mother had called saying there had been an accident after school and Aimee was in the hospital. Nothing serious, just that the little girl wanted her parents. “Honey, you need to calm down, it’s nothing to worry about mom said. You’re getting upset about nothing.”

Belle tried not to smile as he brought her the medication she knew would calm her nausea. “I’m fine Shawn, and I can’t help up worry about my little girl.” She leaned back in her seat and stared out of the window. They had to make a landing in Florida to pick up Victor and Nicole and then it would be off to Vancouver where Victor would seen his Great Grand daughter for the first time in four years. She noted the water and then the Islands. “Shawn, should I be able to see the Keys from here?”

“As in the islands?” Shawn asked wondering if she was seeing things. “No, we’re too high up and they’re too small. Unless were landing in South Florida, we’re too high up.”

“Shawn, I see islands and they’re a lot closer than they should be.” Belle said looking at him with worried eyes.

“Maybe we’re flying under cloud cover.” Shawn said kissing her lightly, not even bothering to look out the window. “Honey, can you tell me why you feel so awful, I’m worried about you.”

“Funny you should ask.” Belle said moving to grab a small box off the seat across from her. She handed it to him as lights began to flash and alarms sounded. “Shawn!”

“We’re losing altitude!” Shawn said reaching for lifejackets for them. “Here, take this.” He said looping it over her head. Don’t inflate it as long as you’re in the fuselage of the plane.

“Shawn what’s happening?” Belle asked reaching out for him. “Shawn.”

“Stay here !” Shawn yelled over the alarms. He pushed his way into the cockpit and gasped. Both pilots were slumped over and he could see water rushing at the nose of the plane. “Belle, Belle!” He hurried back to her, grabbing an inflatable raft capsule at the same time. “We’re going down. I want you to take this and get out and into it as soon as you can. We’re going to hit the water and there are sharks out here. What ever you do get out of the water.”

“Shawn I’m scared.”

“Don’t worry Belle.” Shawn said giving her a reassuring kiss. “What was it you wanted to tell me earlier?”

“We’re having a …” Belle’s sentence was cut off by a deafening roar as the plane hit the water. Panic filled her chest as she was quickly covered in water. She looked around for Shawn but all she could find was a gaping hole in the side of the plane. She kicked her way over, pushing the capsule against the current filling the plane until she was out. Glancing around she kicked the hundred feet to the surface, her lungs screaming for air. Gasping she surfaced and inflated her life jacket.

Stunned Belle looked around at what had happened. Pieces of the plane were floating around her in all shapes and sizes. “Shawn!” She screamed looking for him among the floating wreckage. Unsure of what to do, she thought about the raft and the better view she would have from above the water. Quickly she got the raft ready and climbed into it, collapsing as soon as she was out of the water. Throwing her head over the side she cried at what she saw. Nothing but pieces of the plane, and miles and miles of water. No Shawn.

***

The hot sun beating down on the water awakened Belle. She stretched her scorched arms and legs before moving to see if she had neared land. She’d been floating for two days with out food or water and she felt like she was dying. She cried in happiness as she noticed she was hung up on a sand bar not far from the shore. Climbing from the boat she quickly swam across the short deep area and stumbled onto the quiet beach. Thanking God she climbed to her feet and started towards the nearest building.

Halfway to the small structure a water fountain caught her eyes. She drank a few mouthfuls, but with her stomach so empty she was afraid too much would make her sick. A store window nearby caught her attention and she gasped at what she saw. Her picture, along with Shawn were splayed across with the words MISSING. The telecaster was speaking rapid Spanish and she struggled to keep up.

The search for Isabella Black and Shawn Brady has been called off. Rescue workers have said that no one survived the accident and that further efforts would be in vain due to the shark activity that had been spotted around the wreckage.

Belle glanced at her reflection I the mirror and gasped at what she saw. Her blonde hair had been bleached white from the sun and her skin was so dark she didn’t even look like herself. Turning back to the building she noticed it was a medical clinic. Making a quick decision she headed inside. ‘I have to make sure I’m ok’ she thought as she walked up to the receptionist, ‘But I’m not telling them who I am, I just want to get checked out and get home.’

“Hello, can I help you?” The young woman asked in Spanish.

“My name is Isabella, I don’t speak very good Spanish.” Belle said in slow choppy Spanish. She continued in English, “I was out sailing when I overturned my boat three days ago. I just got myself back to shore, and I’d like to see a doctor.”



Chapter 33

Belle sat silently, not hearing anything the doctor was saying to her. Her mind was frozen on the telecast she’d just seen in the waiting room about the plane crash. Both she and Shawn had been declared dead after nothing had been found at the site but luggage and a few personal items. She knew now that she was the only one left alive; That Shawn was gone for ever. She shook her head refusing to believe what was happening to her.

“Isabella, are you listening to me?” The small Spanish doctor asked her in the heavy accent she spoke. “Isabella, did you know you are pregnant?”

“Yes.” Belle said nodding her head. One of the recovered items had been the box she’d given Shawn just before the plane had gone down. Shawn hadn’t opened it, but inside was a rattle, to signify the child she was carrying, a rattle just like the one she’d given him when they found out about Aimee. “I’m almost 14 weeks. I’ve already seen my regular doctor about it. Is the baby ok?”

“You’re both fine.” The doctor replied. “I think that other than shock, dehydration and sunburn you’re perfectly healthy. You’ve been on an IV for two hours now, and you’re looking better, you can probably go home.”

“Thank you.” Belle said as the doctor removed the needle from her arm and placed a bandage over it. Other than a broken heart she felt fine. She slowly made her way from the room wondering who she could call to get her a new passport so she could fly back to Canada. But her first agenda was to get a hotel room and a good nights sleep. She still had her wallet, so her bank account was accessible. But if she used her credit card then someone would find out that she was alive, and she didn’t want the media to find out until she was home with her family. ‘Shawn is gone,’ echoed through her head and she fought the urge to scream out the pain she was feeling.

“Izzy B?”

Belle’s head snapped up at her name and she launched herself into the arms of the speaker. She didn’t care if this person had hurt her in the pat, but right now he was a comfort to her broken heart. “He’s gone.” She sobbed as he held her closely. “He’s gone, he’s gone. Oh Daddy what am I going to do with out him?”

“Oh Izzy, I’m so sorry.” John said as he smoothed his daughters hair. “I’m sorry for hurting you, I never meant to hurt you. I love you Izzy B, I love you.” Tears slid along his cheeks. “When I heard the Titan Jet went down with you and Shawn on board and there were no survivors I was so scared. I was scared that you were really gone and that I’d never gotten the chance to apologize to you.”

“I love you too Daddy.” Belle said feeling safe in her fathers arms. She could smell his familiar aftershave and she smiled despite herself. The pain and suffering the had caused her over the years was gone, pushed to the back of her mind, because right now she was hurting and he was there for her. “What are you doing here?”

“I was in Miami when I heard the news.” John explained looking over his daughter, gently touching her smooth cheeks. “They’re reporting that you’re dead Belle, no one knows you’re alive. I can here to see if they found any bodies because I knew your mother and Shawn’s mother just wouldn’t survive having to do it. Only Bo knows I’m here.”

“Will you take me home?” Belle asked softly. She had no reason to be in Florida, there would be no bodies to claim, no arrangements to make. Right now all she needed was to be with her daughter.

“Of course I will.” John said noticing her tattered clothes and wild hair. “Why don’t I take you back to my hotel so you can shower and change. I’ll get you some clean clothes to wear.”

“I don’t have anymore clothes to wear.” Belle said feeling sad again. Everything she and Shawn had taken to Italy were now at the bottom of the ocean with the plane. “All my luggage was lost in the crash, this is all I have left.”

“I know that Isabella.” John said leading her towards the door. “I’ll send my assistant to the store why you shower and possibly take a nap. Come on sweetie, the sooner you get ready, the sooner you can get back to Aimee.”

***

John was a bundle of nerves as he pulled up outside Belles home in British Columbia. He knew Marlena and Hope were inside helping Aimee deal with the supposed loss of her parents. “I’m going to go up to the door with your bag.” He explained as Belle sat numbly staring at the house. “Come up when your ready, preferably before your mother calls the police.”

Hope was at the end of her rope when the door bell rang. She and Marlena had just broken the news of her parents deaths to Aimee and she was refusing to believe them. Exasperated she pulled the door open and let out a yelp. “What the hell are you doing here?” She hissed as Marlena joined her at the door. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

“I’ve brought you something.” John said as he heard Belle come up behind him. “I was in Miami when I heard the news, so I flew down to see if any bodies had been found. I didn’t want you to have to deal with it. And they said they found one. Belle.”

Marlena let out and anguished cry and turned away burring her face in her hands. “My baby’s gone.” She sobbed as Hope gathered her into an embrace. “No.”

“Your baby’s right here.” Belle said in a soft voice as she moved around her father. She felt slightly better than she had twenty four hours ago. After her shower she’d slept for 4 hours, then had a long talk with her father, one that patched up 6 years of feuding between them.

Marlena whirled around and looked at her ex-husband with a bewildered expression. “Sweet girl?” She asked reaching for her weary looking daughter. “Oh my God.” She kissed Belle before holding her tightly, refusing to ever let go. “How did this happen? The news said…”

“I got into a raft.” Belle said through her tears. “Shawn made sure to tell me what to do before the plane went down. Get out of the water as soon as you surface because of the sharks. I drifted to shore and here I am. No one knows I’m alive yet, I just wanted to get home to Aimee.”

“Mommy?”

Belle moved away from her mother to look at the tiny child who stood at the end of the entry way. She could see the tensor wrap that was secured around her arm and she knelt down, “Aimee,” She whispered as the child rushed towards her. “Oh Aimee.”

“Mommy.” Aimee said as she felt the familiar arms of her mother wrap around her. “I knew you weren’t dead, I just knew it.” She burned her face in her mothers hair and sobbed for joy.

“Oh my girl.” Belle said relishing in the love that seeped from her daughters body. “No, I’m here. I’m not gone and I’m never leaving you.”

“Where’s daddy?” Aimee asked scanning the room for her father. She saw a man she didn’t know, her mother and her grandmothers, but no sign of her daddy. “Mommy, where is he?”

Belles face fell at Aimee’s question. “Aimee I’m sorry.” Belle said softly. “I’m afraid Daddy’s not coming back.”



Chapter 34

Belle sat back at her desk with a sigh. For four hours she’d been working on a written account of the crash and she felt emotionally drained. Until Shawn’s memorial service had taken place she had refused to speak to anyone about the crash. As his living will had requested they had laid his memory to rest in Salem along side his Great Grandfather and other deceased relatives. The trip back had been hard for Belle, but to make it easier Marlena had asked Brady and Mimi to keep away from Belle and to not attend the memorial. Now four weeks later she was ready to tell the world what happened as she knew it.

“Did you get it done sweetie?” Hope asked as she slipped into the dim office. Belle’s appearance shocked her every time she saw her and she gasped softly. Her blonde hair was pulled back out of her face in an elegant twist, and the black fitted turtleneck and dress pants showed her blossoming figure. But her normally light makeup was dark, creating a depressed look for the woman. She placed a sandwich on one desk and leaned up against a filing cabinet.

“Just getting ready to sign it.” Belle said nodding her head. She’d been relieved when Hope had offered to come back to British Columbia with them. An already difficult pregnancy and a depressed six year old were too much for her to handle. “I wish this was all over with, I have having reporters hounding me all the time. I just want to grieve and move on with my life and my children.”

“It will die down soon enough.” Hope assured her wishing that the pain could be lifted from all of them. “Brady called again.”

“I’m not talking to him.” Belle said shaking her head at the older woman. “I know you all think I’m being silly, but what they did to me hurt. I had no problem with them getting together but they felt the need to sneak around to protect me. I know I’ve forgiven Dad, but that’s my choice. If I decide to forgive them then I will, but on my own time.”

“Ok then.” Hope said knowing the topic was useless. “Oh, and you had a call from a girl named Carrie. She told me that you’d gone to school together when you moved here and she’d like to express her deepest sympathy to you and Aimee.”

“Did she leave a number?” Belle asked with a small smile. Carrie had been an amazing friend to her, keeping life interesting after the move to British Columbia. They’d spoken once or twice a month and gone to coffee the first Monday in every month until the previous spring when a tragedy had rocked her family.

“Yes she did.” Hope said pointing to a sheet of paper next to the sandwich. “Bo and I are going to take Aimee out for the afternoon. She’s too quite and pale for my likings and we’re going to take her into Vancouver to shop.”

“That sounds like a good idea.” Belle said reaching for the number. “Coax her into buying a book or CD. She’s given up everything Shawn liked to do, and I’m afraid it’ll hurt her once school starts up again.”

“I’ll give it my best shot.” Hope said leaving Belle in the office as she headed downstairs. Truth be told they were taking Aimee to see a child psychiatrist and Aimee had said she didn’t want her mother to know.

Belle glanced at the phone before picking it up and quickly dialing the number of her friend. The familiar voice answered quickly and Belle felt excited for the first time in a month. “Hey Carrie, it’s Belle. Feel like having coffee?”

***

“Hey sweetie, how was the party?” Belle asked as Aimee trudged into the living room carrying a huge bag of candy. Her advancing pregnancy was becoming problematic keeping her from doing things with her daughter for fear of going into labor early.

“It was ok.” Aimee said flopping down on a nearby chair and pouting. The party had been fun, until a girl had commented on how Aimee’s mom wasn’t a Brady yet she had two children…..

“My mother says that your parents aren’t married.”

“No they’re not.” Aimee said grabbing a glass of punch. “So what?”

“But she’s had two children right?”

“Yeah.” Aimee said shaking her head. These kids may be older but they sure were stupid. “So?”

“My mommy said you’re a bastard.”


“Aimee Brady!” Carrie called nearly knocking pictures off the mantle as the door slammed behind her. She huffed into the living room and cast a worried look at Belle. “Did you tell your mother yet?”

“Tell me what?” Belle asked as her heart quickened with panic. She often worried about Aimee hanging out with the older kids that she went to school with.

“Mom, am I a bastard?” Aimee asked, wincing at the word as she said it. “Lauren said that her mom told her that I was a bastard. Something about you and dad not being married.”

“Oh sweetie.” Belle said shaking her head. Kids were so cruel, it was sad. “I guess that technically you could be called a bastard. But it’s not a curse word in the way they’re saying though. A bastard is a child that is born out of wedlock, meaning the parents weren’t married when they were born. The proper term is illegitimate. Do you understand?”

“I think so.” Aimee said moving to give her mother a hug. “So it’s ok to be born before your parents are married right?”

“You weren’t supposed to arrive before your father and I got married.” Belle said kissing her daughters cheek. “But your grandfather kept putting it off and before we knew it, I was a mother and unmarried. But yes it’s ok to be born before your parents are married, it’s perfectly ok. Got it now?”

“I do.” Aimee said with a frown. “Mom, when are we going to go back to Salem? For good I mean?”

“Sunday morning at seven am.” Belle said with a small smile. Brady had been transferred to California with the promise of a being there for at least five years, so Belle had made the decision that it was the perfect time for them to go home. “Uncle Phillip is flying over to take you home. Grandma Hope and Aunt Lexie are going to drive over with me since I can’t fly. We’re moving home honey, no more being so far away.”

“What about Aunt Carrie?” Aimee asked not wanting to lose the woman she’d grown close to over the over the past few months. When Belle hadn’t been able to do things, Carrie had been there for her.

“I’ll fly down and see you as often as I can.” Carrie promised winking at Belle. Victor had offered to send the Titan jet up anytime she wanted to visit Salem, and of course she’d accepted. “And to make you happy, I’m coming for the entire month of December.”

***

The sunset was a gleaming red, bouncing off the gentle waves as they lapped against the shore. Tiny fish could be seen in the shallows, glistening in the light as they darted to and fro. A light breeze blew off the water, rustling the trees near by. Another day was ending, another day without their love. No sounds could be heard as the single flower was dropped into the waves and the soft emotion filled voice whispered, “I miss you.”



Chapter 35



Belle blinked back tears as she watched Aimee hang Shawn’s ornament on the Horton Family Christmas Tree. The tiny angel had asked earlier in the evening if she could put the glass bulb on, and no one had the heart to tell her no. Until she opened her eyes, one would mistake her for Belle as a child. Then they would see the chocolate colored eyes that peered from behind the eyelids and know she was a perfect mixture of her parents. Wincing she tried not to make a noise as the family started to chatter about the people that had been lost over the years. She knew she was in labor, but she refused to add to the tension in the room.

“Isabella, would you like to hang the final ornament?” Alice asked reaching for the final box on the floor. “Now, after polling the entire family we decide not to make another baby ornament. Instead we give you this, thank Abby for the craftsmanship.”

Belle grinned as she opened the box. Inside lay a pink ornament with the name Abigail, the first name she had picked out. “A little sure of yourselves aren’t you? And I thought we decided to make Abigail a middle name since we already have an Abi.”<br />

“My father is joy.” Abby Deveraux said with a giggle. She loved the idea of a cousin with her name, since the meaning was fitting. “Fits too well for it to be pushed aside. You’re so having a girl.”

Everyone laughed but Belle who nearly dropped the ornament on the floor as a fierce contraction ripped through her. “Oh, you may find out very soon if you’re right.” She said as Abby reached out to steady her. “Hate to break up the party, but truthfully my water broke just before we started on the tree and I should probably get going.”

“Who had today?” Hope asked with a laugh. They’d started a pool on when Belle would have the baby, and already two weeks overdue, most had already lucked out. “Come on, who picked today?”

“I did.” Alice said with a mischievous grin. “Tom and I always knew Shawn would have a Christmas baby.”

“You’ve been betting on when I’d have the baby?” Belle asked with a laugh. “Leave it up to the Brady’s and Horton’s to so something like this. And Alice, I’m amazing you had a part in it!”

“Harmless fun my dear.” Alice said with a wave of her hand. “Now, Bo and Hope take this young lady to the hospital. Aimee can stay here until dinner is over. I’m sure Jennifer wouldn’t mind running her over later on. Now, that’s the plan, get a move on.”

Bo laughed as he and Hope helped Belle get ready to head out to the car. “That woman will give orders until the day she’s no longer with us.”

“Can we make a quick stop before I go to the hospital?” Belle asked as she climbed into the car, a frown on her face. “I’d like to make a quick trip down to the beach by the dock. Please?”

“Ok.” Hope said giving a look to Bo. “But it’ll have to be quick, I do not want my grandchild to be born down on the pier!”

***

The water was black as it lapped against the shore. Night had just set in and a cool breeze blew across the ground, scattering leaves in all directions. Christmas eve was upon them and it was going to be a special day. A child had been born many years before just after the clock struck twelve, and that was a basis for celebration. A tiny flower, out of season, but dried to perfection fluttered from the tired fingers into the black water as a soft voice whispered, “I love you.”

***

Hope gently led Aimee through the quite halls of Salem University Hospital’s maternity ward. The shy child clutched at her Grandmothers hand as they approached the huge window of the nursery. “Go on sweetie, go and take a look.”

Aimee slowly took a step towards the glass until her forehead was nearly pressing against it. Inside the large room, wrapped in a white blanket a single baby lay in a bassinet. “It’s so tiny.”

Hope exhaled a held breath at Aimee’s words. More than anything, they had all been afraid of Aimee’s reaction to the baby. She held in the tears as she watched Aimee in her red coat and flowered headband, place her palms on the glass and raise herself up onto her tip toes so she could get a better. “You’re right she is tiny. Why don’t we go in and see your Mom, and then they’ll bring her into see us.”

“Ok.” Aimee said turning to face her grandmother. “They’re not coming home for Christmas are they?”

“Probably not sweetie.” Hope said knocking on Belle’s door. She could see the disappointment in her Granddaughters eyes and it broke her heart. “But that can’t be helped. They need to stay here to make sure there are no problems. They’ll be home in a few days.”

“Hi sweet girl.” Belle said wiping her eyes as the door opened as her daughter walked in. She tried to hide her puffy eyes and hoped no one would call her on them.

“Mommy why are you crying?” Aimee asked rushing to her mothers side. “Is something wrong?”

“I was thinking about your father.” Belle said as more tears filled her eyes. “I just can’t believe his own daughter will never know who he was. She’ll never know about his tickle hugs, or the way he melts when we pout, or just how much he loved life. It just doesn’t seem fair.”

“I miss him too.” Aimee said climbing up on to the bed and wrapping her arms around her mother. “I know we’re all still sad, but we can tell her about him. She’ll never say she knew nothing about him because I’ll make sure she does.”

“Thank you Aimee.” Belle said kissing her daughters cheek. It seemed unfair that a child of seven had such an extensive knowledge of the unfairness of the world, she was far too young to bear those kinds of problems. “You’re right, we’ll just have to make sure she knows everything there is to know about Shawn Brady. You’ll have lots of stories to tell her.”

“We all will.” Hope said joining in on the hug. “I’m sure your daddy would be proud that you want to tell your sister all about him. That’s just what he’d want you to do.”

“Someone’s little ears are burning.” Dr. Bader said as she slowly wheeled the bassinet into the room. “I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon Belle. Have a Merry Christmas you three.”

Belle smiled as Hope carefully lifted the newborn out of the bassinet and placed her in her arms. “Aimee, I’d like you to meet your little sister.” Belle said pulling back the blankets so Aimee could get a good look at the baby. This is Abigail Shawna Brady.”

“She’s pretty.” Aimee said gently touching the baby’s fingers. “She’ll look just like you, I can see it!”

“I don’t know.” Hope said with a smile. “You looked just like your daddy when you were little, and now you look just like your mom.”

“I say that I’ll end up looking like dad in the end.” Aimee said raising an eyebrow at her grandmother, something she learned almost all the Horton women could do. “And Abi will look just like you. You just wait and see, and I know we’ll see I’m right.”



Chapter 36

Carrie quickly made her way up the stairs of the Brady home. At Belle’s insistence she’d relocated from her hometown in British Columbia, and was currently playing live in nanny for Abigail during the day while Belle went to school or work. If they kept this up Belle would be late for her first day of her residency and Aimee for her first day of sixth grade. “Com eon Aimee get a move on!” She called knocking on the door as she passed. “You too Belle!”

“I’m ready.” Belle said dashing out of the nursery with Abigail in her arms. She quickly handed the energetic baby to Carrie before dashing back into her bedroom to finish her make up. “She’s clean, fed and ready to play.”

“Aimee come on!” Carrie said kissing Abigail’s cheek softly making the child giggle. She was definitely Shawn’s daughter with her good humor. “I’m going in Belle.” She pushed the door open and was shocked to see the light off and Aimee still in bed. “Come on Aim, you’re going to be late for school.”

“Is she still in bed?” Belle called from the bathroom.

“Yes.” Carrie said moving to crouch near the bed. “Come on Aimee, get up!” She flipped on the light. A scream emerged from her lips and she took a step back from the bed. “Belle!”

Belle rushed into the room and was shocked to see Carrie looking frightened with tears in her eyes. She dropped to her knees on the floor to take a closer look at her daughter and her heart skipped a beat at what she saw. Aimee’s usually pink skin was chalk white and Belle quickly noticed that she was barely breathing. “Shit!” She exclaimed quickly gathering Aimee, blankets and all into her arms. “I have to get her to the hospital now.”

“What’s wrong with her Belle?” Carrie asked as she followed Belle and Aimee down the stairs. She was holding Abigail tight and was scared that if she let go something would happen to her too.

“I don’t know.” Belle said fastening Aimee into the front of the car. She quickly jumped into the drivers seat and started the car. “I’ll call you soon.”

Carrie stood quietly as she watched Belle speed away down the street. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. Belle was supposed to be starting the last of her medical training and Aimee was supposed to go back to school and be the smartest kid in her class. The sound of Abigail’s cries pulled her out of her daze and she held the child to her chest. “Oh Abigail, it’s ok How about we go in and call your grandma’s?”

***

“Her red count is low.” Lexie said checking on Aimee’s test results. “And her white count is really high. We’re running a leukocyte test to see if we’re dealing with an infection. But we want to do a spinal tap while she’s still unconscious, it’ll be a lot easier on her.”

“Oh God.” Belle said covering her mouth with her hand. How could this be happening to them, hadn’t they been through enough in the past year? “Do what you think is needed, you’re the doctor.” She ran her fingers through her hair and looked down at her work attire. “What am I going to do about my shift?”

“I’ve already taken care of it.” Lexie said touching her shoulder reassuringly. She closed the chart and wished that the results would look more promising. “You’re off the rotation until we know what’s wrong. You have my permission to start late, because if you’re distressed then you’re no good to the hospital.”

“Thank you.” Belle said smiling at the old family friend. “Has mine or Shawn’s parents been in or anything? I haven’t left the room since we came in?”

“Hope and Marlena are out in the waiting room.” Lexie explained in a gentle voice. “And I’d like you to go out and be with them while we finish running the tests. Having you there makes me nervous, and I do not need to be nervous when doing a tap and you know it. I’ll let you come back in as soon as I’m done. And, we need you to sign forms so we can give her transfusions if we have to.”

“Shawn and I both have blood here.” Belle explained knowing that Lexie already knew the information. “And we both match Aimee, can you use that? I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

“Yes, I’ll have it taken out of storage.” Lexie explained as she led Belle from the room. She turned the distraught woman over to her mothers and headed back into the room to prepare for the procedure she hope would calm her fears. “Alright Aimee Brady, show me how you’re just feeling sick.”

***

Belle groaned as she read the final lab reports. “Are you sure Lexie?” She asked tossing the papers onto the table and leaning back into her seat. “I mean, are you totally positive?”

“I’m sorry Belle.” Lexie said nodding her head. “The tests have confirmed it. Aimee’s bone marrow has been over taken by white blood cells, and that’s why she went into the coma. She’s been deprived of oxygen because of the over abundance of while cells, she’s suffocating Belle. You know what I mean too. I’ve talked it over with Dr. Greene and he concurs with me, Aimee has Acute Lymphatic Leukemia.”



Chapter 37

Aimee looked at her mother with confusion on her face. She didn’t understand what she was doing in the hospital, and she didn’t understand why she couldn’t go home. “Mom, I don’t get it. I feel fine, make them let me go home.”

Belle’s heart broke at her daughters words. She had come into the hospital that morning to find out that Aimee had finally woken up two weeks after being admitted to the hospital. Two blood transfusions a day were keeping enough red cells in her body to keep her alive, but her white count kept going up. “Aimee, I have something to tell you that you’re not going to like.”

“Mom, you’re scaring me.” Aimee said clutching the blankets in her hand.

“Aimee, you can’t go home because you’re sick.” Belle said wondering how she’d ever be able to break news like this to other families. “Today is September 19th and you’ve been here since the first day of school.”

“What?” Aimee asked as tears welled up in her eyes. “Mom, what’s wrong with me, why can’t I go home?”

“Aimee, you have a form of cancer.” Belle said choking on her words. “Your blood isn’t working right and it’s making you sick. So sick you almost died when we brought you in. You’ve been getting blood twice a day and that IV in your arm is administering Chemo therapy drugs as we speak. I’m sorry sweet girl, but you’re going to be here for a long while.”

“No.” Aimee said shaking her head as her tears started to fall. “No, I can’t have cancer, I can’t!” She turned away from her mother as best she could and tried to calm herself.

“I know it’s hard sweetie.” Belle said moving to take her seven year old daughter in her arms. “I know it’s hard, but you will get better with the medication you’re taking. Lexie has already seem some improvements and it’s only been seven days.”

“But I could die!” Aimee exclaimed spinning back around, fire in her brown eyes. “Mommy, I could die. I’m too young to die.” Her voice dropped off to nearly a whisper as her tiny frame began to shake.

“But you won’t.” Belle said reaching out and taking her daughters small hand. “Aimee, you are in great hands here with these doctors. So far your great grandfather has called in all the major specialists that he could find from all over the world to look at your tests. Don’t give up, not yet.”

“I want daddy!” Aimee screamed pulling her hand away from her mother and pulling her knees up to her chest. “I want daddy!”

Belle’s heart shattered as she watched her eldest daughter cry out for her father, something that had not happened in the three years since Shawn had passed away. She attempted to comfort her distressed daughter only to be pushed forcefully away. “Aimee, don’t push me away.” She pleaded gently. “Please.”

“Get out!” Aimee screamed through her tears. Her eyes burned and her head throbbed but she ignored the pain and shook her head. “I’m sorry mom, but I just can’t be here with you. Go.”

***

Belle sat quietly watching Abigail sleep in her tiny bed. Aimee had asked that she not be allowed to visit and has gone as far as to threaten legal action. Belle sighed as she stretched her tired legs out in front of her as she slowly rocked back and forth. Abigail was so tiny as she lay under her blue quilt, her blonde curls spread over the pillow.

“Why did you leave us Shawn?” Belle asked softly, wrapping her shaking arms around her body. The feeling of abandonment that she’d felt when Shawn had been declared dead rushed back into her mind and body, causing her to drop her head and sob. She sat there, her hair hanging over her face, crying out all the pain she’d been bottling up over the years. Never in her life had she felt so utterly alone in the world. Her daughters were her world, but they did not provide the same feeling of comfort and protection that Shawn had. They just couldn’t quite add up to the way he’d made her feel.

Shaking her head she climbed to her feet and quickly left the room, not wanting to wake her exhausted daughter. She knew that it was not healthy for Abigail to be shuffled between family members, but she didn’t know what else to do, Aimee needed her too. “Shawn, I need you to help me.” She pleaded as she paused at the end of the hall looking up at the stars through the huge bay windows. “Help me know what I have to do to save our daughter, to save what’s left of our family.”

Silence filled the house as Belle waited for an answer that would never come. Shaking her head she cried out in frustration at her husband. “How can you leave me at a time like this?” She asked balling her fists in frustration. “How Shawn? You told me you loved me, but when I need you the most you’re no where to be found. Maybe Dad was right way back then, you just can’t be relied on or trusted. I’m glad you’re dead.”



Chapter 38

Dear Aimee

I’m sorry to hear about your illness, I really am. I know what it’s like to be sick with Cancer as I had it myself when I was your age. Yes Aimee, I was just like you. I remember the needles and the medication that I always seemed to be taking. I wasn’t as lucky as you because I had to have surgery after surgery to get rid of the infection that was swimming through my body.

I don’t want to bore you with my ramblings. I realize that things are hard for you right now, and I’m very touched that you’re still taking comfort in music. You said in your letter that you’d like to be a singer someday, or at least play music professionally. I think that is a great goal to have for yourself and if you think you have talent, fight to get where you want to be. You’ve seen me on stage, you know that I’m a little different from the rest of the singers out there, mostly in my image. Cancer may change who you are on the outside, but on the inside you will always be yourself, let that person shine.

I’d love to write to you more, but I’m sitting on my tour bus and we’re almost at the hotel. I’m not usually into responding by hand to my fans, I usually type up my letters, but your letter needed something more. I’d like to hear from you again, but I’m afraid if you send letters to my fan club address I won’t get them. So when you feel like you have something you need to say, write to me at:

Stephanie Sawyer
c/o Carolyn Sawyer
3556 Maple Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3H 4J4

And I will make sure that I get those letters as soon as I can. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Take care and God Bless.

Stephanie Lantz



Aimee carefully folded the letter that her grandmother had delivered to her, slipping it under her pillow and smiling. For the first time in six months she felt like she had something to live for, her future. For as long as she’d been cooped up in the hospital it was a wonder that she hadn’t gone crazy, but so far she’d been able to keep herself busy. Reaching for her journal she jotted down a few words that popped into her head.
Survived the worst yeah baby but I learned
Over the past few weeks she found that music was her salvation. An electric organ was her friend, when she was strong enough to play it, and that lyrics flowed freely when she least expected it. Giggling she hid the book knowing that her mother would be in to visit.

The relationship between her and her mother had changed drastically. After she’d thrown her mother out of her hospital things had become different. The first change that had taken place was the removal of the engagement ring that her mother always wore. Then it was the cutting of the usual long blonde hair and the changing of styles. Cool and lovely Belle Black became uptight and professional in the way she dressed, and the change bothered her.

“Feeling up for a visitor?” Belle asked as she poked her head into her daughters hospital room. Aimee was sitting up, as if waiting for company.

“Sure.” Aimee said cringing at the sight of her mothers’ chosen outfit. Black business slacks with a simple black turtleneck under her white lab coat. “Mom, can’t you wear something other than black?”

“When you get older you can try and tell me how to dress.” Belle said coolly as she slid into the chair next to Aimee’s bed. “Until then, never mind. How are you feeling today? Lexie said that the infection was cleared up on your last labs.”

“I feel fine.” Aimee said wondering if this time she might get the opportunity to go home, or at least outside. The last venture she’d made outdoors she’d caught a chill and then a nasty cold causing her to spend four days in the ICU because of a fever. “Are the results good?”

“They could be better.” Belle said picking at one of her finger nails. “Your white count is still up. It has to drop quite a bit before we can even hope for remission. Sorry sweetie.”

Aimee groaned in frustration at the news. “Mom, why can’t the doctors get this under control?” She asked wishing she knew more about her condition. The internet had been banned from her, and she assumed it was so she couldn’t do any research on what was happening to her.

“I don’t know sweetie.” Belle said reaching out and smoothing her hand over her daughters bald head. The loss of Aimee’s hair had been the worst aspect for them all. The memory of that morning was still vivid in her memory, and caused her to wake in a cold sweat on many nights.

***

“How is she doing?” Belle asked Hope as she met Shawn’s mother out side of the door. She straightened her ponytail and rubbed her weary eyes after a full night’s shift in the emergency room.

“She’s been waiting for you to get here.” Hope said placing a comforting hand on Belle’s shoulder. “Be gentle with her this morning Belle, she’s got some news for you and it’s not good. But she wants you to be there with her. I’ll get Abi from Carrie and keep her for the day.”

“What’s happening?” Belle asked as a feeling of dread welled up inside her stomach.

“Just go in and see her.” Hope said giving Belle a gentle push towards the door. “Don’t rush to pick up Abigail either, I’ll keep her as long as I have to.”

Belle nodded as she slowly pushed open the door and entered the dim room. Aimee was sitting up on her bed, knees hugged to her chest with her hands clenched together near her shins. “Hey sweetie, how are you feeling?”

“Mommy.” Aimee whispered reaching out for her mother. She sobbed as she rested her head against her mother’s shoulder, wrapping her arms tightly around her shoulders. “Mommy.”

“Aimee, what’s the matter?” Belle asked knowing that there were no test results to make her daughter cry. “Shhh, Aimee don’t cry.”

“Mommy it’s happening.” Aimee said pulling back and reaching for something under her pillow.

Belle burst into tears as Aimee’s hand emerged holding a thick lock of her blonde hair. She’d known that Aimee’s hair would fall out from the chemotherapy, but it hurt to actually see it. “Oh I’m sorry sweetie.” She whispered taking the hair and rolling it between her fingers. “We knew it would happen honey, we knew. But I know it hurts.”

“Is it all going to fall out?” Aimee asked as she returned to her original position on the bed. “Am I going to go completely bald?”

“Probably honey, but we can get you something to cover it all up.” Belle said laying the hair on the sheet and tearing her eyes away from it. “I’ll get your grandmothers to make sure you have a hat or a scarf or something like that.”

“I want it all cut off.” Aimee said quickly. “I want it all gone, and I want it gone now.”

***

“Are you ok Mom?” Aimee asked as she noticed her mothers dazed look. “Mom, how are the rest of my counts?”

“Everything else looks ok, but it’s the white count that we need to worry about.” Belle replied shaking her head to clear her mind. “Let’s hope the new round of chemo we have you starting today will help get the counts down where they have to be.” She glanced at her watch before hopping up. “I have to go sweetie, my lunch break is over.”

“You’re always leaving me here.” Aimee said with a pout. She understood that her mother had to work to support them, especially since she’d stopped using Shawn’s trust fund, but it was hard to know she was always alone.

“I know sweetie, but I have to.” Belle said giving her daughter a gentle kiss before turning from the room. “And I won’t be back either I don’t think, I’m having dinner with a colleague.”

Aimee watched her mother leave with flaring tempers. Her grandmother always said that she was just like her father when it came to her temper and in ways it was true. Reaching for her pen she quickly jotted down a few more words before turning over on the bed to take a much needed nap.
That you could ever care for anyone, anyone but yourself Yeah Yeah


Chapter 39

Aimee blinked twice as the bright sunlight washed over her bed. She wasn’t used to waking up where the sun shone in over her and she grinned at the feeling. She was home, home in her own bed at her own house. Lazily she rolled over, hoping to enjoy a few minutes more sleep, but the excitement she felt was too much and she crawled out a few minutes later. Padding through her quiet room she headed into the bathroom to take a quick shower before starting her day.

Aimee made quick work of her shower, giggling at how much faster it was when one didn’t have hair to wash. She made her way back into her room and quickly dressed in a pair of comfortable jeans and a T-shirt, frowning at how last years clothes were now too large for her. A year. It had been over a year since she’d been in her own bed, in her own clothes and in her own home. Too long for a child to be locked away, prodded with needles and pumped full of potent drugs.

“Are you up Aimee?” Belle asked as she knocked lightly on her daughters door. She had been thrilled to bring the girl home the night before, for what they had hoped to be forever. The last set of results had shown Aimee to finally have the counts of a healthy child and Lexie had signed the papers to send her home.

“I’ll be out in a few minutes.” Aimee called as she sat in front of her mirror to put on her wig. Though she had been a pale blonde before cancer caused her hair to fall out, she was wearing a darker colored wig, going auburn until her hair was growing back. She quickly arranged the long strands into a braid before placing it on her head. Checking her reflection, making sure it was straight and on securely, she started for the kitchen.

“You look happy today.” Belle said as she met Aimee in the kitchen with a glass of juice and some toast. The chemo drugs had sapped the healthy appetite of the child and food still caused her to feel sick, so basic foods were to be given to her. “How do you feel?”

“Felt fine until I saw toast.” Aimee said slumping down into her chair and making a face. She was never hungry and hated how she had to eat three times a day anyway. “Are you sure I can’t have a milkshake instead?”

Belle laughed at her daughters suggestion. The drugs that sapped Aimee’s appetite also gave her cravings for some foods, and just happened to be for milkshakes and chicken in Aimee. “If you eat your toast then I’ll make sure you get a milkshake for lunch.” Belle agreed hoping to entice her daughter to eat something. “You need to get the right foods honey, so your immune system can get back to rights.”

“I know I do, but this stuff makes me want to puke.” Aimee admitted as she placed a small piece of the toast into her mouth and tried not to gag. “Can I at least have peanut butter to go with it?”

“You know where it is.” Belle said finishing up Abi’s breakfast. “I do have to go into work today Aimee. I’d hoped I’d get it off since you just got home, but I only have to work for four hours not eight. I should be home by one at the latest if there are no last minute emergencies.” She placed the cereal on the table and poured a glass of milk for the younger Brady daughter. “Is that ok with you? After that we can head to the mall and get you some clothes that’ll fit you now.”

“Sounds good to me.” Aimee said as she finished up her piece of toast and downed the juice. “I have a little bit of school work to finish up anyway. Is Carrie going to be here or am I going to watch Abigail?”

“Carrie is coming over until I get home.” Belle replied making a mental note to thank Carrie for coming over at the last minute. “She might be bringing a friend over with her since they were together last night when I called her. His name is Jason, I think you’ll like him.”

“Is he cute?” Aimee asked looking up from the table with a mischievous grin on her face.

“You’re too young to be asking me that.” Belle said shaking her head at her daughter and smiling. “But yes, he is an attractive guy.” She shook laughed at Aimee’s expression before turning to find her purse. “I start my vacation soon.”

“Are we going to stay here?” Aimee asked reaching for an apple on the table and biting into it. The sweet liquid oozed out of the juicy fruit and sloshed over her tongue, causing her to moan with approval. “Or did you have plans to take off with some of your hospital buddies?”

“I’m not sure what we’re going to do.” Belle admitted sitting down and picking up her coffee. It had been a long time since she’d had a conversation with someone other than Carrie in the mornings and it felt good to know her daughter was home. “I thought we’d sit down later this week and talk about it. Since you’re home we can go somewhere if we want to.”

“I’ll think about what I’d like to do.” Aimee said grinning through her apple. “Can’t you wait until Christmas to take your vacation? I wasn’t home last year and I was hoping we could have a family holiday.”

“I didn’t get the time off this time around.” Belle replied knowing how much a happy Christmas would raise Aimee’s spirits. “But I do have Christmas Eve and Day off, so I’ll be around, don’t you worry.”

“Ok.” Aimee said feeling slightly better about the impending holidays. “You’re going to be late if you hang around her too much longer Mom. If you need to leave before Carrie gets here I can get Abigail down for her breakfast.”

“Thanks for the offer, but that’s harder than it seems.” Belle said wondering how Abigail would act around her older sister. “She does not like breakfast time, and more than likely Carrie will wear most of the cereal.”

“Maybe I’ll wait for her.” Aimee said finishing up the fruit and moving to toss the core into the garbage. She giggled as the front door opened and Carrie’s voice filled the house.

“Stop whining Jase, Aimee’s not going to get hurt while we’re here.” Carrie explained as she led her new boyfriend towards Belle’s kitchen. “She’s tougher that that, sick or not sick. And if I might remind you, she’s not sick anymore.”

“I know Care, but I sill worry.” Jason Morgan said softly. The story of little Aimee Brady’s illness had bothered him. So many people got away with murder, theft and abusing while little girls who had done no wrong to anyone suffered with illnesses that could be fatal. “I wish she’d have been spared this terrible ordeal.”

“Could have been worse.” Aimee called out letting them know that she could hear everything they were saying. “I could have died.” She smiled as Carrie’s face lit up in pleasure before she was scooped into a big hug. “Easy Carrie, I’m kinda thin to be squeezed like that.”

“I’m sorry hunny.” Carrie said quickly putting Aimee down and checking her over for bruises. “I wasn’t thinking. I won’t be so stupid next time, I promise I’ll be more gentle with you.”

“I’m not gonna break.” Aimee said with a giggle. Carrie had always been easy to get going, too easy it seemed. “My bones just stick out in funny places so it hurts to be jostled too much. But you won’t break me.”

“I told you we should have let my mother come along.” Jason said looking at the small girl with a sad expression. “Belle, you really should let me hire a nurse to stay with you for a few weeks. I know you’re a doctor, but Carrie could use the help, and I’m sure it would help with Aimee’s recovery.”

“No way Jason, not in my house.” Belle said moving to give her daughter a kiss. “I have to go, but I’ll be home as soon as I can get away. I’ll call you if I’ll be late.”

Aimee watched her mother head towards the garage before turning back to Jason. “So, you think that I need a nurse do ya?” She asked trying to keep a straight face. “I was sick, that’s a fact that can’t be ignored. But I’m ok now, a little thin but ok. So what if my hip bones stick out a little so that I have to sleep on something soft? Don’t you worry about me Mr. Jason, I’ll be just fine.”

“Just like her mother.” Carrie said with a laugh. She’d always said that the girls would be just like Belle, with the Brady temper thrown in on top of it all. “So what should we do?”

“Well, since you’re the babysitter you’re going to go get Abi ready for the day and get a cereal shower.” Aimee said grabbing a second apple and tucking it into her pocket. “But me, I have homework to do. Mr. Jason, would you care to escort a fragile child into the next room to ensure she gets seated into a comfortable chair. After all, we wouldn’t want her to get hurt anymore than she has to would we?”

Jason groaned at Carrie before standing up from the table. He offered Aimee his arm before turning back to Carrie and saying, “You’re right Care, just like her mother. I pity her future men, they’ll never ever win.”
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