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

October 18th, 2004, 12:10 pm #1

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

October 24th, 2004, 4:56 pm #2

Colleen's Fics

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

October 24th, 2004, 4:56 pm #3

Hardball

A Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC17.
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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

October 24th, 2004, 4:59 pm #4

Chapters 1 - 5

Chapter 1:

Belle Black sat in the conference room silently hating the reason she was sitting in the meeting. This new responsibility she inherited grated on her nerves and as much as she loved her grandfather she had a hard time accepting what he had bequeathed to her in his will.

Listening to the manager drone on and on about the players and why each one was so valuable to the team did not mean a thing to her. Belle did not care about sports, especially baseball and she found baseball players both pretentious and rude. She wasn't going to enjoy this new role one bit, she was convinced of it. The excitement surrounding a baseball game had been long forgotten by the young businesswoman. The days of going to games when she was a little girl with her grandfather were a thing of the past, but apparently those days were precious to her grandfather and he left the team to her. A month ago he passed away and now she was hesitantly ready to assume her new role as owner and general manager of the struggling minor league team.

"Listen Vince," Belle spoke cutting his rambling short. She was unable to hide the annoyance in her voice. "I think it is obvious to everyone here that I don't really want this job but for whatever reason my grandfather left me this team." Slowly she stood up from her seat and started to walk around the room to look at the team assembled around the table. They were all varying ages, sizes, shapes, skin tones, but all of the members of the team had at least one thing, other than baseball in common, they were all men and she was expected to lead them. Not only did she have a job she didn't expect to enjoy, she was the boss to a group of men who did not think she was worthy of the position. Regardless of how she felt about the game she was hell bent to be successful at doing this job right. Her grandfather was no fool and though the matching was odd, she was going to make the now struggling team a successful one...somehow.

She continued to walk around the room. She was impeccably dressed in a designer suit, perfectly tailored to fit her slim, yet curvy body. Her golden hair was swept up neatly into a bun. Everything about her attire showed that she was all business, and her commanding blue gaze only confirmed it. She looked every member of the management team and coaching staff in the eyes as she approached the chalkboard with every player's name and position listed.

"Now, don't think that because I have lukewarm feelings about owning this team that I don't care about how it performs. I intend to make this team the best in it's division and the league and I can't do that if you all don't support me."

"We support you Ms. Black," Vince spoke up. "We do and so does the team."

"Don't lie to me Vince. I know I'm not supported, nor am I respected. How can I be? No one thinks I'm eligible for this job, and you know what? I may not be, but my grandfather thought I was and so I'm here and I can't change that. I'm determined to make this work, for my grandfather's sake. I do not want to disappoint him ... and I know you all don't want to disappoint him either. He loved this team. It was his life and so we all should make the best out of a weird situation."

"I think we all want to do that Ms. Black," Vince stated on behalf of the group. "Your grandfather was a great man. We want to honor him and his dedication to this team."

"Thank you. Now, I don't do well staying cooped up in a room talking about players that I don't know. I want to meet the team and watch practice. During that time, Vince, Andy, and JC I want you all to brief me on all the players."

"Um, Ms. Black," JC, the batting coach spoke up. "Our new player from the majors is coming in today. Kid by the name of Brady."

"Is he the troublemaker?"

"That would be the one. He's got a lot of talent, but an attitude that's get in the way. Parent team wants to teach him a lesson."

"Well if he's good maybe he's our ticket. Gentleman, this is a new day. We haven't had a winning season in 5 years. I have a feeling all of that is going to change."
___________
The locker room was all abuzz with activity and endless banter as the players got themselves ready for practice.

"Have y'all seen the new owner?" Jason asked excitedly in his thick Texan drawl. "OHHHH BABY!" he exclaimed and burst into laughter only to get hit in the head with a rolled up shirt. "You better save that pitching arm Phil!" he warned.

"You better keep catching what I pitch!" Phil quickly retorted. "Besides this new owner won't last long. No chick can run a baseball team. If she even tries, this team is definitely going to the dogs," he said in a matter of fact tone and began to chuckle to himself at the thought. The others around him looked at him wide a wide eyed glare, not sharing in his laughter though they would normally. He finished buttoning his practice jersey and turned around only to be met by a pair of fierce blue eyes with a gaze so powerful it left him both afraid and intrigued.

"To the dogs you say," Belle said calmly, ignoring the scrambling of the other players to get themselves decent. "You know, between you and me I don't even think dogs would want us."

"Um ... e-excuse me?" Philip asked apprehensively.

"I think you heard me," Belle replied plainly. Turning around to look at the other men gathered, very few of whom were fully dressed but it didn't seem to phase her. "Gentleman, I know you have heard that there is a new owner. Well here I am and I guarantee you all that I am more shocked about this than any of you, but unlike your fearless pitcher here," she added in a mocking tone, "I know that I can run this team. During today's practice I will be watching and getting a heads up on all of you. Who's struggling, who's excelling, and who is the same as the day they got here. Gentleman, I hate losing. There is nothing I hate more and so I expect a complete turn around of this team. Are there any questions?" She looked around at the stunned faces and a smile escaped her lips. "Have a good practice," she stated and walked out as casually as she walked in.

The moment the door closed all of the players immediately burst into a fit of laughter, pointing at Philip who was as white as a ghost. Not only was he caught by his new boss, he was made a fool of in front of his teammates and that didn't sit too well with him. Hurriedly he finished getting dressed and tried his best to ignore the ribbing he was now receiving. Trying his best to be a good sport he forced a laugh and made a number of sly comments to save face.
___________
"Vince when is this Brady person supposed to arrive?" Belle asked with great annoyance. "Practice is almost over."

"I'm not sure Ms. Black. He was told to report here three hours ago to meet with me and the team. Do you want me to check if I can find out anything?"

"No. Don't bother. He's accountable for his own actions. If he wants to blow his future that is his decision. By the way, what exactly did he do to get sent here?"

"Officially, it's a punishment of sorts. He's a good player but not the best so they can sacrifice him for the season. Basically he was racking up too many fines for bad behavior. Missing practices or showing up late. Then he fought with an interviewer from Sports Magazine. Like I said he's a good player but his attitude gets in the way. The thought is hopefully this demotion will humble him."

"Hmm. He just may be what we need to light a fire under this team. He may be a rebel of sorts but at least he has spirit. Some of these guys could use that, especially Philip."

The two continued to watch the team practicing. The sound of bats hitting balls and yells of encouragement filled the air, until the roar of a motorcycle overpowered everything. A dust cloud followed it as the rider zipped through the gate and parked just off the field.

"Who would have the audacity to bring a motorcycle on the field?" Belle asked growing annoyed by the brash arrogance of the unknown rider. She watched the mystery man who wore a pair of tight, dark blue jeans, and a plain white shirt that hugged his frame. The sleeves had been rolled up so they tightly wrapped around his bulging biceps with a glimpse of a barbed wire tattoo in view. From a distance Belle watched him closely. His obvious defiant attitude and cocksure movements both bothered and intrigued her. Then he lifted off his helmet and his thick brown hair came into view. The long side burns and the heavy stubble on his cheeks. He looked as if he had been riding for days.

"He's here," Vince said in an annoyed sigh.

"I see we have our hands full," Belle commented as she watched Shawn grab the bag strapped onto the back of his motorcycle. He walked towards the others with his helmet in one hand and the duffel bag in the other. All eyes were on him yet he acknowledged no one. He looked straight ahead at Vince and Belle sitting on the bleachers overlooking the others. His jaw was clenched, and his dark brooding gaze never left the two figures in the stands. He eventually reached them, looking upward at Vince and Belle who sat in the second row of bleachers he dropped his bag on the ground and tossed his helmet on top of it. He leaned forward, gripping the bars of the railing.

"I guess I'm supposed to report to you," he said in a tight voice. He kept his eyes on Belle who returned the intensity of his stare with her own piercing gaze.

"Shawn Brady I assume," Belle stated.

"That's right. And I assume you're the boss lady."

"My name is Belle Black, and yes I'm the owner. Vince is the team manager."

He nodded his head in response. "Whatever you say boss lady."

"Everyone calls her Ms. Black," Vince spoke up.

"I ain't everybody," Shawn replied bluntly. His eyes never left Belle's. "I'm just here to play ball."

"You're over three hours late! Practice will be over in 15 minutes!" Belle argued.

"That's fine," he simply said and soon reached into his bag, grabbing a bat. With a cocky swagger he made his way to the batting cage. All Vince and Belle could do was watch, and shake their heads in response to his determination.

Shawn approached Jason who was waiting for the next pitch. "Alright you're finished here pal," Shawn said in a voice that commanded attention. It was low and mellow, but his delivery didn't make Jason question him. He took his stance at the plate and looked Philip square in the eyes. "What are you waiting on?"

"Don't you use gloves?"

"I'm sure whatever you throw won't pack that much heat. Now let's go preppy!"

Vince and Belle watched on and smiled to themselves. It was indeed a new day for the Hawks and Belle for one couldn't be more pleased. Shawn Brady was exactly what they needed.

Chapter 2:

After her first day on the job, Belle could not appropriately gage how well her first day as the owner of the team went. She seemed to have a relatively decent rapport with the management team, however the players were a little more difficult to figure out. It was obvious to her, Philip didn't care for her and Jason saw her as a filly he couldn't wait to break with his Texan attitude. Shawn was a mystery and the others didn't seem to care.

Sitting in her office alone she continued to look over paperwork to further familiarize herself with everything and everyone. Night had set and she grew weary from the work she had been doing. Ready to call it quits for the day, she packed up her briefcase and soon walked out of her office.

She made smooth, confident strides to her Mercedes parked nearby. Pressing the button on her key she heard the familiar chirp of the alarm and the sound of the powerlocks automated. As soon as she heard the sound she was startled by a sudden beam of light flashing on her like a spotlight. She turned her head to see the dark figure walking towards her. Panicked, she hurried to her car unsure of who the stranger was.

"It's only me boss lady," a familiar voice came out of the darkness. Belle stopped and looked closer to see Shawn's figure coming into clearer view.

"Shawn you just about gave me a heart attack," she snapped. "And stop calling me boss lady!" she demanded.

"Sorry, but I can't do that."

"Fine. Whatever," she mumbled in annoyance and continued to her car.

"You're leaving?" he asked somewhat surprised that she would not stop her previous actions.

"It's late. I'm tired so yes I am leaving. I suggest you do the same. No reason for you to be out here."

"There is," he said plainly as he watched her open the door to the luxury car.

"There is what?" she asked. She continued to put her things away in the car, trying not to be phased by Shawn's elusiveness. It was a daunting task that she knew she would fail eventually.

"A reason for me to be out here," he replied.

"Shawn," she sighed and stopped for a moment to look at him. The light from his motorcycle offered the only real light and she became entranced by the way it bounced off his frame, accentuating all the important details. "Look, I am really in no mood for games right now so spit it out. What are you trying to tell me?" she asked gruffly.

"This isn't easy for me but I feel I owe you an apology," he told her. Belle could tell it truly was difficult for him to swallow his pride and she softened a bit, looking at him as he struggled to find the right words to say. "I don't want to get off on the wrong foot here. I know I have a reputation of being a bad ass and well, I deserve it but I'm trying to learn whatever lesson I'm supposed to so I can get back to what I do best ... playing pro ball. I'm not good at a lot of things and baseball really is the only thing I've got so I don't want to blow this chance."

"Well if it's the only thing then why jeopardize it?"

"Don't judge me," he warned seriously. "I've made bad mistakes and they were blown out of proportion."

"Don't give me that. I've read the stories. I even saw the way you walked in today ... three hours late! I'm not judging you. I'm only observing your actions."

"I can't help some of the things I do. It's in my nature. People piss me off, I react. It's just that simple. I don't bend over backwards for folks to like me and ... I get the impression you're the same way," he added with a sly smirk.

"I make no apologies for the way I am."

"Neither do I," he replied. His sly smirk grew only sexier with every passing moment. His dark gaze appeared to consume Belle with its intensity.

"Then maybe we'll be able to work well together. Welcome to the team Shawn, but I really must be going."

"Rushing home to someone?"

"That is none of your business," she spat.

"I'll take that as a no," he replied smugly. Walking closer he took a look at her Mercedes, carefully examining the lines and precision of the luxury car. He could feel her watching him and he knew she wanted to be annoyed. To be mad at him for what she perceived as sheer arrogance, but he also knew a part of her just couldn't help but be intrigued. Slowly he shifted his gaze from the car back to her. The look was classic to him. One hand on her hip, her bottom lip aggravated by her teeth, and her piercing blue eyes staring at him with an intensity that would make any man think twice about approaching her. He leaned against her car, knowing full well it would bother her and folded his arms across his chest. He saw her glance briefly at his biceps, and then flash her eyes back to attempt to establish eye contact. But it was too late. He saw that tiny glimmer she was desperate for him not to see. With his legs slightly outstretched, he crossed his feet at the ankles and then began to stare out at the night sky.

"It's a shame really," he said as if it were an afterthought.

"What are you talking about now?" she huffed.

He continued to stare out at the sky lit up by countless stars. "A woman like you shouldn't be alone," he answered coolly.

"I can take care of myself just fine thank you very much!" she replied angrily.

His eyes shifted in her direction. "I never said you couldn't." His response was so calm the complete opposite of Belle's fiery attitude. Pushing himself off of the car, he took a step towards her and rested his hand on the roof. He stood no more than two feet apart from her and his lips curled upwards slightly to form a smirk that Belle knew would get her into trouble if she was not careful.

"Good night Shawn," she stated flatly.

"Have drinks with me," he calmly requested.

"I don't think that's a good idea."

"Because you own the team?"

"Exactly and to be honest I don't want to be seen as playing favorites so early. Especially for the demoted major league player, so my answer is no."

"I thought you didn't make apologies for the way you are."

"I don't, but this is different."

"How?"

"I'm fighting for respect here. I don't need this to add to it."

"I'm just asking you to join me for drinks lady. Not even a date. Just drinks. I'm not ready to go to my place and I can't see myself hanging out with the guys on the team."

"No Shawn. I'm tired and I'm not in the mood."

"Your loss boss lady," he said and backed away from her. He did not want to press the issue any further, not tonight anyway.

All Belle could do was shake her head in defeat at the nickname he insisted on using, despite her dislike of it. She eventually got into her car and sped off leaving Shawn behind in the parking lot.

He stood there watching the silver car speed off like a bullet into the dark night. A smug look swept across his face as he watched her disappear.

Alone in the parking lot, Shawn could not help but think about his new boss. Her tough exterior didn't fool him. It couldn't. They were too much alike. He had that same defensive wall he let down for few people and he had a feeling she was the same way. "Maybe this season won't be so bad after all," he said to himself. He hopped on his bike and sped off knowing that this was only the beginning.

Chapter 3:

Shawn walked into the management suite after he had been summoned to talk with the owner. With a sense of purpose he walked past the receptionist and made his way into Belle's office without bothering to wait to be called in. Walking inside the plush office he immediately closed the door behind him and approached the desk. Belle stared at him with a look of disbelief that he had strolled in unannounced. She respected his talent but his blatant disregard for practically everything more than annoyed her and she was quick to react.

"How dare you?!"

"How dare I what? You asked to see me," he replied as he took a seat. His fierce brown gaze stayed on hers with an intensity she could not shake. "So what is it? I'm missing practice."

"So you care about practice now do you?" she asked facetiously.

"Remember what I told you last night? I'm not trying to blow this" he told her seriously.

"And remember that I told you I'm fighting for respect and I can't very well be seen as such if I have players storming in here unannounced."

"I'll knock next time," he conceded mockingly. "Now what's up?"

"The press is expected to be here today. You're sort of a big story around town. Professional player demoted to the minors for bad behavior, they're going to make a big deal out of this. They are going to expect the typical Shawn."

"And what exactly is the typical Shawn?" he asked angrily, taking offense already to the situation.

"The Shawn Brady they are used to seeing. Flying off the handle and hitting reporters. That one."

"I see, and you think that's typical?" he asked somewhat introspectively.

"I don't know and frankly I don't really care if it is or not. I just want you to be aware that they are here and if you really care about your future as a player like you claim, you better keep your attitude and actions in check."

"Or what?"

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me. It sounds like you're threatening me."

"Not even close. I'm just making sure you know what you have at stake."

"Don't you think I know what the hell is at stake here?!" he barked.

"I just want to make sure you do," Belle replied in a tight voice that demanded attention.

"I understand just fine," he grumbled. "Now are we finished here?" he asked standing up from his seat. He looked down at her and saw her nod her head in response.

"I'll walk out with you." She stood up and walked past him to the door, walking out and he followed behind her. They walked out of the suite together in virtual silence until they were alone and no one could see them together.

"Any regrets about last night?" Shawn asked smugly.

"Why would I have regrets?"

"About not having drinks with me."

"Thought never crossed my mind," she replied coolly, but knew she was telling him a bold face lie.

He smirked in response, almost sensing she was not being completely honest. "Well the offer still stands tonight."

Belle abruptly stopped walking and Shawn soon stopped with her. She looked at him with a look of extreme annoyance. "Shawn what is it with you asking me out? It's not going to happen!"

"If you say so."

"I do."

"But I don't think you believe yourself. You're just so damned concern that it won't look right."

"Has it ever crossed your mind that I don't want to go out with you ... period."

"Not really."

"You're so unbelievably full of yourself."

"And you're so unbelievably full of denial," he quickly retorted. "Just drinks, maybe dinner. What's the harm?"

"Are you always this forward?"

"Is that a yes?"

"No."

"Suit yourself," he muttered as if he didn't care. "I've got to get back to practice." He walked off leaving Belle behind. She couldn't help but look at the way the tight baseball pants fit him. The way he jogged off with the gloves sticking out of the back pocket, flapping up and down only added to the obvious attraction she had to Shawn. Slowly she continued to make her way out to the field.

Walking onto the field, Vince quickly made his way to her looking awfully pleased with himself. Vince fit the image of a stereotypical baseball coach. He was balding, and whatever hair he did have was white and gray. A short and pudgy man, Vince had more of a waddle than a walk but he had both the talent and the respect from those who worked with him. Belle was a bit surprised to see him look so pleased.

"Vince you look uncharacteristically happy."

"Ms. Black, if we've ever had a chance for a winning season this would be the one."

"Oh yeah? Why is that?"

"Let's walk," he suggested and the two started to walk across the field, periodically watching the players practice. "Ms. Black..."

"Vince really, please call me Belle."

"If you don't mind I'd prefer to call you Ms. Black. The players will be more likely to treat you with respect if I address you formally. They will follow my lead," he said with a warm smile.

"I understand and I appreciate it. Now what do you want to talk to me about?"

"Shawn Brady."

"Has he started something?" she asked unable to hide her disappointment.

"Not what you're thinking. Yes he's not the most sociable or friendly individual, but I think that's how he operates."

"I'm not sure I follow you Vince."

"Shawn has tremendous talent. One of the best short stops I've seen in a long time. He's focused and already, that drive is rubbing off on some of the players. Prime example, Philip's pitching is a lot sharper and far more consistent."

"It's only the second day Vince, I think you may be giving Shawn a bit too much credit."

"Trust me Ms. Black. I know a natural leader when I see one and Shawn Brady is definitely one. Problem is I don't think he realizes how much potential he has. If he was able to get a better handle on his attitude and really focus it he'd be unstoppable."

"Do you think that's why they really sent him here?"

"I think so. The parent team could really care less if a player has attitude just as long as he's playing at his best. His salary more than covers the fines he had but I know Joe pretty well. And I know he'd rather sacrifice this kid for a season and have him back with a more focused game."

"Makes sense to me," Belle shrugged. "And in the process, it benefits us."

"True. Now it's just a matter of figuring out how to tame him," he said in a light chuckle and glanced at Belle. "But I'm afraid that is easier said than done. Any suggestions?"

Chapter 4:

Over the next two months, Belle developed a good routine and relatively good rapport with the staff and team, with the exception of Shawn Brady. He was persistent and aggravating to her. His arrogance and cocky attitude bothered her, yet intrigued her at the same time. She admired his hard work and dedication to the game, but he was elusive. He kept to himself, never socialized with the team much, but like clockwork he was there in the parking lot when she left the office. They would bicker for a few minutes then he'd ask her out for drinks.

Every time she declined.

Every night she went home regretting that she did.
___________
"Here we are at the top of the eighth inning. The Hawks lead 2 to 1, and now take the field. Let's see if Philip Kiriakis is able to keep his focus and close out this game."

The sound of the announcer's voice filled the half-empty stadium on opening day. The scattering of fans in attendance was a typical sight for the AAA farm team but Belle and her staff hoped that would soon be a thing of the past.

Philip slowly walked to the mound in an arrogant swagger hearing Jason's familiar southern twang behind him.

Shawn watched him taking his time to get onto the field, rolling his eyes at Philip's over confidence. "Come on preppy. Game ain't over yet. Stop acting like it is."

"When are you gonna stop calling me preppy?" he asked annoyed.

"When you deserve to be called pitcher," he quickly retorted. "Now let's play some ball!"

"You heard 'em cowboy!" Jason exclaimed. "Let's play buddy," he said as he lowered his facemask and squatted into position behind home plate. Smacking his glove with his fist he looked up at the batter and back up to the mound. "He ain't got nothing on us Philly boy! Let's play some catch!" Jason gave him a sign for the pitch and Philip readily agreed.

"STRIKE!" the umpire yelled.
___________
Sounds of laughter and shouts of accolades filled the locker room after the Hawks held on to the narrow lead and won 2-1. All were excited except Shawn who quickly got himself dressed and chose not to speak to the other players as he did so.

"Guess you can stop calling me preppy," Philip said smugly to Shawn.

"What makes you think that? You haven't proven anything," he said plainly, as he threw a few items into his locker and grabbed his shirt.

"But we won," Philip argued.

"Yeah. We did but why? Because we were better?" Shawn asked skeptically. "I don't think so. We got lucky, plain and simple. You've got 143 games left to prove yourself," he said plainly. He finished putting on his shirt and then grabbed his things. Looking Philip straight in the eyes, he continued. "Nothing comes easy preppy." In a cool swagger he walked out of the noisy locker room.

"What the hell is that guy's problem?" Philip asked Jason.

"My first guess is he doesn't like you."

"Well no shit Sherlock. What other guesses do you have?"

"He hasn't been with a woman in a while," Jason stated as a matter of fact and soon laughed. "He's got some sexual frustration of the worst kind!" he claimed.

Philip laughed along with him. "Well if that's the case what do you say we get him a little gift."

"I like the way you think Philly boy!"
___________
Hours after the game Belle left her office and made her way to her Mercedes but stopped when she noticed the stadium lights still on. She could hear the familiar sound of a ball hitting a bat. Confused to hear someone clearly practicing at this late hour she made her way to the field only to see Shawn like a man possessed, squaring off with the pitching machine.

Methodically the machine would throw a perfect fast ball to Shawn and without taking his eyes off the ball, Shawn swung his bat to connect with it.

Belle watched him closely. The concentration. The determination. The muscles. She shook her head trying to shake the thoughts she was having about Shawn. No matter how hard she tried she couldn't rid herself of the obvious attraction she had for him. The team was filled with a variety of handsome, athletic men but Shawn was much different. His dark, brooding look combined with his cocksure attitude had such unbelievable sex appeal, it almost made Belle weak in the knees. She was surprised she was able to decline his invitations for drinks and dinner that became almost a daily occurrence over the last two months. So far she was able to and hoped she would be able to stay strong in her convictions. It was a long road ahead of her. The season wouldn't be over until September, it was now early April.

Not wanting to disturb his intense private batting practice, Belle slowly turned around and began to walk back to the parking lot.

"Leaving so soon?" Shawn asked as he continued to stare ahead at the next pitch coming his way. Connecting, he sent the ball soaring into left field.

Startled by his question she stopped and turned back around. "I didn't want to disturb you."

"Don't worry about it," he said and swung the bat once again, hitting a ground ball into the infield.

"I didn't want to break your concentration."

"Not possible," he stated, hitting another ground ball bouncing further out. "I can almost do this with my eyes closed."

"You sound pretty sure of yourself."

"I am. Besides I've been doing this a while. I've got the rhythm down."

"So why aren't you out with the rest of the team celebrating?"

"There's nothing to celebrate. We didn't really win. We were lucky. If we continue doing the same thing we did today, we won't have a prayer of lasting the season," he explained still continuing to hit the ball. "So I'm out here working on where I was weak, and that was hitting."

"You were one for four."

"Exactly, and I struck out twice on a so-so pitcher. That's not good enough for me."

"Don't you think you're being too hard on yourself?"

"Nope. If your players were really serious about making it to the majors they wouldn't all be out at the bar acting like they won the World Series. It was a half ass win and none of them see it that way."

"So what are you going to do about it?"

"What kind of question is that? You see me out here don't you?"

"Yeah, but you're not the whole team. Don't you think you should be encouraging the others to have the same attitude?"

"I'm not their babysitter or their big brother or anything like that. I take care of what I need to do."

"That is the most selfish thing I've ever heard. Why do you even play if you're not willing to be a team player?"

He swung the bat with all his might at that last comment, sending the ball soaring up in the air but landing only a few feet before him. He angrily threw the bat down and stared at Belle with a dark and somewhat haunting gaze. "I play ball because it's all I've got!" he snapped and hurried to the machine to shut it off. "Now my concentration is broken," he said in a tight voice and began to walk around the field to pick up the balls scattered around.

Belle was fed up with this continuous habit of Shawn's. His temper was just too much for her to handle. He was smug and coy with her one minute, then would snap at her the next. This had been going on for nearly two months, since the first day he stepped on the field for practice to today, the first day of the season. There was no way she was going to tolerate this for another five months.

"Shawn why the hell do you continue to do this?" she asked angrily. She stormed after him as he continued to walk across the field.

"Do what?"

"Be civil one minute and then act like a pretentious bastard the next!"

He abruptly stopped and made an immediate about face to look at her. His jaw was clenched as he stared. His dark gaze consuming her with their fierce intensity. "So now I'm pretentious. You know you are one piece of work boss lady."

"Damn it how many times do I have to keep telling you don't call me that!" she yelled, storming even closer to him. They were only inches away from each other, the look of stubborn pride evident on both of their faces. The tension between the two filled the entire stadium.

Belle's blue gaze matched the intensity of Shawn's own, until surprise swept across her face as Shawn crashed his lips down on hers in a steamy kiss that left her immediately weak in the knees. He kissed her with a longing passion, prying her lips open with his own her tongue soon met his in a heated tango. He swallowed her moans as he continued to attack her full lips with his own. Dropping the bucket of baseballs he held down onto the grass, he brought his arms around her. One tightly wrapped around her waist, the other splayed on her back, creeping up as he continued to hold her close. He could feel her petite hands inching up his arms to his shoulders and finally settling at the nape of his neck. Her fingers swept through his hair, as she grew more receptive to his kisses.

Their lips parted and Shawn looked at Belle with a smirk that left her in a bigger puddle. "I've wanted to do that since the first day I saw you," he said in a husky voice.

"Trust me I've wanted it too but..."

"Don't ruin this moment," he softly pleaded, not wanting to hear that next phrase he expected her to say.

Belle looked into his eyes. They were so gentle and for the first time his normal defensive stance had dissipated. It was the most real he had ever been with Belle and she could feel her heart sinking as she realized what she had to do.

Pulling away from him she shook her head and put her hands up to create some distance. "I can't. We can't do this Shawn. It's not right."

"It's very right. You're obviously attracted to me; otherwise you wouldn't have kissed me back. You wouldn't have held onto me so tight like you were getting weak in the knees," he replied confidently. He took a step closer to her. "Why are you denying this?"

"I'm not denying it Shawn. I just can't do this. I'm your boss. This could compromise everything."

"Why are you so scared?"

"I'm not scared Shawn. I'm just being realistic and practical."

"Don't be. I know you want this. I know you do," he said in an attempt to convince her but knew he was losing this battle as he watched her continue to back away from him and shake her head.

"I can't do this," she said softly and walked away.

Chapter 5:

Shawn walked into his apartment, flipping on the light switch he tossed his bag down onto the ground and immediately went into the kitchen. Opening the refrigerator door he looked at the few items scattered about and quickly grabbed a bottle of beer.

"Just drinks," he mumbled under his breath as he twisted the cap. Taking a long drink, he walked into the living room decorated with furniture he would personally never buy. One of the downfalls of living in an already furnished apartment, but he was willing to concede just for the season or even less if he thought the team would take him back after he learned his lesson. It was important to him to take this punishment like a man. At one point Shawn thought it would be made more bearable the moment he saw Belle. He couldn't explain it. Instant connection. The thrill of going after a woman who turned him down, time after time. But even he knew when to quit and was ready to bring an end to this embarrassment.

Flopping down on the couch, he continued to drink his beer, almost ready to get another one when his phone rang.

"Yeah," he answered in gruff voice.

"Yeah?" the woman on the other end asked in both shock and disappointment. "I know I taught you better than that!"

"Hi Mom," he grumbled. "I'm sorry. I've just been having a bad night."

"Oh, honey I'm sorry to hear that. Not liking the new team?" Hope asked curiously.

"Some of the guys are ok. The pitcher and I pretty much have a hate-hate relationship. There are a couple of the younger guys who just want to know what it's like in the majors. I guess they think of me as a big brother type. I don't know, but we don't really hang out or anything."

"So what happened tonight? Did you lose?"

"You could say that."

His ambiguous answer confused Hope even further. "Shawn I'm not sure I understand? Did you have a bad game?"

"We won, but I didn't hit too well tonight. Anyway, I don't really want to talk about her," he said without thought.

"Her?" Hope quickly picked up his slip. Growing more intrigued she asked, "so who is this... her?"

"Don't worry about it Mom," he quickly dismissed and tried to switch gears in the conversation. "How are you? How's Josh doing?" he asked eagerly.

"I'm fine Shawn and Joshua is wonderful. I finally got him to fall asleep. He is such an amazing little boy. He asks about you everyday. Such a smart child, and so sweet," she gushed.

"I wish I could be there with you two. I miss the little guy. I'm sorry to burden you with this extra responsibility but you know I wouldn't be able to really take care of him at this point in time."

"Shawn, Joshua is not a burden. He's my grandson, and I love having a little Brady boy to take care of," she added in a light chuckle. "It's been years."

"I know. It's just the timing of all this couldn't be worse," he said, growing more angry at the situation his older brother had put his family in. For years Shawn had been cleaning up after his brother but it only escalated once Joshua was born over two years ago.

"Honey, I think you need to focus on something more positive, like the woman you referred to earlier."

"You're not going to drop this are you Mom?"

"No, not if it means this is a chance for you to finally be happy. You've taken on the problems of this family on your shoulders for far too long. It's not fair to you. Isaac's condition is not your problem. He abandoned his son and you have made sure that this little boy has gotten everything he needs not to disrupt his life. He misses his father, but he misses you more. You've been more of a father to him than Isaac ever has been, or probably ever will be if he doesn't get himself better."

"I love that little guy," Shawn quietly responded. "I want him to be happy. He's had too much to deal with in his young life."

"I know Shawn. I know you love him and he loves you. After all you are his Unca Shaw," she laughed.

Shawn chuckled along with her. It felt good to laugh and images of the little two year old getting into anything and everything warmed his heart. That was the true Shawn Brady, and he shared that side with very few people. Life had thrown him some pretty tough blows over the years and in the process it hardened him. He didn't want Josh to ever be that way. He wanted to give the precocious little boy the life he never had. A more stable life and a happy one. Shawn had only two constants in his life; his mother and baseball.

"It's good to hear you laugh son," Hope continued. "I hope you allow yourself to laugh with this mystery lady."

"That situation is very different."

"How?"

"She's the owner and well, she doesn't feel it is right. If circumstances were different I think maybe we might have a chance."

"What makes you so sure?"

"I just have a feeling Mom. That's all. And it's a very good feeling."

"Be careful Shawn. You don't want to add fuel to the already existing fire."

"I know Mom. Trust me I don't want to, but I can't stop thinking about her."

"Shawn don't take any unnecessary risks. You can wait until the end of the season when you both have a clear conscience. I think that is for the best."

"I don't want to agree with you, but I think you're right. It'll be hard. That's five months Mom. I've hardly been able to keep it together for two. I'm just putting the focus into my game. That's the best I can do."

"You deserve to be happy and something tells me that if this young lady occupies your thoughts so much now you don't plan on giving up easily."

"I don't Mom. I don't want to at all."

"You are so much like your father. He was just as determined. Oh, Shawn I wish you could have known him better. It only amazes me how you've become so much like him."

"You've told me that before Mom. I just want to do what is right for my family."

"Your father would be so proud to see what kind of man you've become."

"Fights and all?" he asked jokingly.

"So you inherited the Brady temper. He would understand. All too well," she added sadly.

"Mom, please don't get upset. Dad was nothing short of a hero, that's what you've told me and everyone who knew him on the police force."

"He was Shawn. He was a good man, a wonderful husband and a terrific father. One day you will make some lady as happy as your father made me."

"I hope you're right Mom. I really do."

After a time he got off the phone with Hope and made his way to bed. Lying down, he stared up at the ceiling, thoughts of his family consuming him, particularly his brother and he felt the bitterness rise. He could feel himself growing more angry at the situation but he was immediately calmed when a pair of blue eyes flashed through his mind.

He knew there was something he had to do but he wasn't sure exactly what. All he knew the next five months couldn't continue like the previous two. He closed his eyes and soon fell asleep with thoughts of Belle on his mind.
Last edited by ..JJ on November 6th, 2004, 1:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

October 24th, 2004, 5:00 pm #5

A Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC17.
Chapters 6 - 10

Chapter 6:

Belle sat in her office. It was another long night as she looked over a ton of paperwork. She never realized the job her grandfather appeared to do so effortlessly for nearly 30 years was so demanding. First and foremost she was a businesswoman, and though her new job was a departure from the world of advertising she once worked in, she was determined to be successful in her new venture.

The time for her to call it a night was drawing close. The day had been relatively peaceful. The team was away for a game, the second of three away games and she didn't find it necessary to travel with the team. Her place was at the stadium her grandfather built and looking after its day to day operations. As she started to pack up her things, the phone rang, disrupting her thoughts. It was late so she thought about leaving it to the world of voicemail but at the last minute changed her mind.

"This is Belle Black," she answered hastily.

"Hey boss lady," Shawn responded in a low voice. Belle could envision him talking to her with that smirk. That damn smug look that even in her thoughts and dreams left her weak.

"Shawn? Why in the world are you calling me? You really shouldn't..."

"Shouldn't what?" he interrupted. "Want to hear your voice?" he asked. "I figured you'd still be in your office. Since you have that habit of working late."

"Well I was just about to leave."

"Good timing then on my part."

"If you say so."

"I had to call to find out why you've been avoiding me. It's been a week and you act like nothing happened."

"That's because nothing did happen."

"That's bull and you know it," he snapped.

"Good night Shawn," she said, getting ready to hang up.

"No! Wait!" he said quickly. "I'm sorry. I'm just getting frustrated with everything."

"Well you shouldn't be getting frustrated with me. Shawn I've already explained..."

"Look, I understand why you're hesitant. I actually convinced myself that you are right, and part of me still agrees with you but there's that part. A small part that is just nagging the hell out of me," he argued somewhat passionately.

Belle could not help but lower her defenses as she listened to him. No matter how strong she tried to be Shawn always had a way to push her buttons. Most times it would result in endless bickering, but now somehow things were different. Shawn wasn't firing one liners and smug remarks, he was being honest and forthright and Belle found it refreshing.

"All I know is I want to get to know you better," Shawn continued. "I want to take you out and hear you laugh and have a good time. I see you in one mode all the time. All business and very proper. I want to see you with your hair down and in something other than a suit."

"You have a lot of things you want don't you?" she asked, unable to hide the flirtatious tone of her voice.

"Don't you want someone who is sure of himself?"

"Well yes," she answered without thought then found herself fumbling over her words. "Um... no ... I'm not looking for..."

"I'm not asking if your looking for anything," he replied coolly. "But there is something else I want. I want you to give me one good reason why you can't go out with me."

"Shawn we've been through this," she sighed out of frustration. "I'm your boss. It's not right."

"I said one good reason. Nobody has to know what goes on between us except for us. It's no one's business."

"That's easier said than done."

"Then say it's a business dinner," he quickly suggested as if he expected her to protest further.

"Why are you being so persistent Shawn?"

"Are you happy?"

"What kind of question is that?"

"A good one in my opinion. You don't seem happy to me. Do you even like baseball? Why do you have this job? Why would your grandfather leave the team to you?"

"You're asking questions I don't even have the answers to with the exception of do I like baseball and the answer to that is I used to love it."

"What happened?"

"You know Shawn, I really don't want to get into it with you right now."

"But you will later? How about over drinks?" he asked in a light chuckle as he continued his ritual.

Belle couldn't help but laugh, though she was still slightly annoyed. "Well you've heard me laugh," she mused.

"What about those other things?"

"I don't know Shawn," she replied sheepishly.

Shawn could tell she was finally starting to warm up to the idea. "I'll tell you what boss. If you can honestly say that you don't think about me as much as I think about you then I will be on my best behavior and I won't bother you. But if you felt any hint of electricity. Any at all. If you are the least bit curious about us being together then meet me when we get back in town."

"Is this an ultimatum or something?"

"This is a chance for us to figure out what we're looking for."

"Shawn, why are you pursuing me so heavily?"

"Because there is something about you. I can't explain it. Two months I've been watching you, wanting to get to know you better and you've turned me down. Normally I'd count my loss and move on but I can't do that easily with you. I know you understand me. You may not realize it, but you do and I understand you."

Belle was at a loss for words and couldn't respond. After a time Shawn continued. Belle could almost picture him talking with his smug attitude. "See you tomorrow night boss lady."

Chapter 7:

The team bus pulled into the parking lot of the Hawks Stadium just minutes to midnight after a grueling twelve-inning showdown with last year's division champions. The fact that the team was able to keep up with them for such an arduous length of time was a testament to the new attitude of the team. Every single player was exhausted, physically and mentally. Despite their effort they lost. Vince commended the team on a valiant effort, stating to them how proud he was of their spirit. His words however fell on deaf ears. A good effort was no substitute for a victory.

Shawn sat in his seat staring out the window, looking out for that familiar silver Mercedes. He had his doubts Belle would actually show up. In fact, he was not expecting her to take him up on his offer. So, when the familiar sleek automobile was no where in sight, he wasn't surprised.

Letting out a loud sigh he ran his fingers through his hair and slowly got up out of his seat after the bus came to a stop. "Struck out again," he mumbled under his breath.

"Another pity party by Shawn 'bad ass' Brady," Philip sneered. "Look, you weren't the only one who lost tonight."

"Stay out of my business preppy," Shawn snapped.

"Stop pouting all the damn time."

"Shut the hell up," he said gruffly.

"And what if I don't?" he asked, speaking through clenched teeth. Taking a few steps, he was within inches of his face, staring Shawn down with the hardest glare. "You gonna try and hit me?" he asked tauntingly.

Shawn stared at him intensely. With his jaw clenched, he felt the anger rising in him and his hands slowly balled into tight fists. His defensive stance did not go unnoticed by the others.

Jason quickly stood up from his seat. "Alright now guys. Won't be any of that tonight," he stated as he put his hands between them and with slight pressure separated the two. "Come on now. Ease up Phil. Shawn." The two didn't budge and Jason pushed himself in between, facing Philip. In a low voice, he continued. "It ain't worth it Phil. It's late and you're tired. Don't go doing something you'll regret tomorrow." At his words Philip started to back away, and slowly shifted his eyes away from Shawn.

"You're right. It ain't worth it," he said giving Shawn a side glance

"Good boy," Jason joked and turned Philip around, patting him on the back loudly.

Shawn stood in the aisle watching the others clear out of the bus and he took a deep breath to calm himself down. Grabbing his stuff, he was the last one to get off the bus.

Briefly he glanced over at the others making their ways to their cars. Some had wives and girlfriends there to meet them. Others made the lonely journey he was making. Though it was late, home was the last place he wanted to be, so he made his trek into the locker room, not knowing what to do next. With his duffel bag hanging off of his shoulder he walked inside the dark room and quickly flipped on the switch. He threw his bag down in a loud thud next to his locker and plopped himself down on the bench nearby. Slumped over, his elbows rested on his knees and he rubbed his hands together slowly, plotting what his next move would be. This wasn't how tonight was supposed to go. He wanted to win, and he lost twice. The game and Belle. He didn't really expect Belle to meet him. She had turned down every request he made previously and though he thought she had softened just a little bit, he was wrong. Now the game was another story. That game was there's, but the other team had just a little more to give. Slowly he reached out for his bag and unzipped it. Reaching inside he removed a few things, tossing items into his locker and then grabbed his gloves. Slipping them on he decided the only place he could go was to the batting cage, it was the best place for him to release his frustration.

He walked out to see the lights already on in the stadium and the sound of the ball hitting the back of the cage. Over the months he was the only one to have that habit of coming out to the batting cage late at night. Everyone else had left, at least so he thought so the mystery intrigued him and he continued on his way. The clank of the metal being hit by a ball continued in a rhythmic pattern. Emerging on to the field he soon found the source as his eyes landed on a familiar petite form standing at the plate squaring off with the pitching machine. The ball would come her way, her eyes narrowed in on the target and she would swing the bat, actually getting a piece of it each time but it would go straight up or back and hit the cage with a loud clank.

Shawn's lips curled to form a sly smile as he watched her. His eyes swept over her body, impressed to see her in a pair of jeans that were tight enough that left him momentarily speechless but definitely left much to the imagination. Her V-neck top also gave him a little glimpse of what he hoped one day he could get a clearer view of, if he played his cards right. And to top it off she had on a helmet. The fact that she was going all out for her "practice" made him realize he was dealing with one unique lady. In a cocky swagger he walked towards her to watch her foul back yet another ball.

"You're getting close," he said, unable to hide the grin on his face.

Belle looked up at him with a small smile. "Yeah, well I've pretty much got a rhythm going here," she said jokingly.

He made his way to her so he soon stood behind her and he moved closer. "Let me help you," he said in a low, husky voice. His breath swept across her neck, sending shivers through her body. She could detect his musk scent, he was all man and his very presence made her immediately aware of the attraction she had been denying all this time. Part of her couldn't understand why she was letting herself be so close to him. When she felt his hands, those wonderfully strong hands move down her arms slowly she felt her knees weaken. His movements were so deliberate and his hands soon found hers and he guided them along the bat to better her grip.

Lightly pressing his body against Belle's from behind, Shawn kept his hands on top of hers. "Now, we need to work on your stance," he continued in the same husky tone that made Belle putty in his hands. His hands traveled from hers and slid across her arms and then rested on her hips. He applied slight pressure on her left hip, pulling her back closer to him. "Just a little this way," he told her as he guided her body. "Now keep your eye on the ball," he further suggested. His hands continued to rest comfortably on her hips. The next ball came flying and Belle swung the bat, connecting with the ball and sending it zipping down the middle. "Base hit," he whispered and slowly let her go. He walked away and she watched him go to the pitching machine and turn it off.

"What makes you think I was finished?" she asked teasingly.

"It's late boss," he smirked.

"Oh, it's an improvement," she joked at his change from boss lady to just boss. In an odd way the nickname sort of grew on her, but it still bothered her to a degree.

"Yeah," he chuckled lightly. He started to clear up the scattered balls, mainly concentrated around home plate. "So uh... any reason you're out here?"

"I was living up to my end of the bargain."

"Well, how'd you know I'd be out here?"

"You were one for four on a so-so pitcher," she smiled.

"So you're checking up on me?" he asked smugly.

"I check on everyone. It's my job."

"Is that all?"

"I know it was a tough game and I thought maybe..." her voice faded as she became lost in his dark, brooding gaze.

He walked closer to her and removed the helmet that was on her head. A mass of golden curls fell down onto her shoulders and he let out a small gasp amazed at how even more beautiful Belle was than he could have imagined. Realizing that she was trying to make his list of wants a reality at this moment, his smirk only grew sexier. His eyes locked on hers and he could tell she was a little nervous as she fidgeted slightly. Capturing a few strands of her golden hair in between his fingers, he savored the soft strands against his fingertips.

"Maybe what?" Shawn asked in a low, husky voice.

Belle took a deep breath and kept her eyes on him. "Maybe you'd like to join me for drinks."

Chapter 8:

"Never happened," Shawn said definitively and took a long drink from his bottle of beer. He kept his eyes on Belle who sat across from him, looking confused by the comment.

"What do you mean? I read all about it."

With slow deliberate actions, he lowered the bottle back down on the table. His eyes stayed on Belle, without ever flinching or looking away he repeated. "I said it never happened."

"But...I don't understand. I saw the picture of the guy. He had a black eye and others said you hit him."

"No one was around when he had his accident. He didn't get a black eye from me, but saying that he did was a better story than him saying that he ran into a door."

"He what?" Belle asked in a laugh, unable to hide her amusement by the story.

"It's true," he said with a playful grin that was different from anything Belle had ever seen. She kept her eyes on him, becoming somewhat amazed at how good a time she was having with Shawn. He was so different from what she was used to seeing. He was relaxed and comfortable. On a number of occasions he would show his wonderful smile that Belle found herself looking forward to seeing, very much like the sexy smirk he was prone to displaying. Both had an amazing effect on her. One that no man had ever given her before. A part of her knew that if circumstances were different she could see the potential for something romantic to happen between them, but she was prepared not to cross the line. At least that is what she convinced herself of before she decided to finally take him up on his offer.

"You know Shawn. You have such an easy going temperament at times, it's a shame you don't show that side of yourself to the team. I think the others might be more receptive to you."

"You're assuming I want them to be receptive."

"Don't you? Isn't it important for the team?"

"Remember, I make no apologies for the way I am. Besides, can we not talk about them? I was having a good time with you and ... I'd like to keep it that way."

"Fair enough."

They both took a sip from their bottles and sat in silence for a moment, until Belle was unable to suppress her giggling.

Becoming immediately self conscious, Shawn wiped his chin thinking that maybe he had spilled his beer when he took a drink. "What's so funny?"

"I can't believe he ran into a door!" Belle laughed hysterically as the thought resurfaced. "How come you didn't tell the truth? Why make people think you did it?"

"What good would it do? If I denied it who would have believed me? I've never been known as a Boy Scout."

"Doesn't it bother you? To have people think you're this bad guy when you're not?"

"So you actually don't believe all the stories?" he asked surprised. "I thought you did."

"I won't lie to you. I used to believe them. Your first week here, it was hard to think you were nothing but the troublemaker the press has made you out to be."

"What made you change your mind?"

"I watched you signing autographs one night after a game. There was a group of about four or five little boys around you. You were so good with them. They admire you and you didn't brush them off. At that point I realized that if you were really the bad boy you're supposed to be, you wouldn't have given those kids the time of day. It shows you have a soft side."

"Shh... I don't want my secret out," he said jokingly.

"Well, I think you should. People should know you're just a sweet guy."

With a loud guffaw, Shawn quickly dismissed her idea. "Boss, sweet and sports do NOT mix. Besides, that's the last thing I am. The VERY last thing."

"I'm learning differently," she replied softly.

Shawn's lips could not help but form into a sly grin at her words. He didn't agree with her assessment but he realized she was actually thinking about him at least a little.

"Anyway, that's enough about me," he said to shift gears. "How about you?"

"Not much to tell."

"I don't believe that for one minute. Classy lady like you must have tons of stories of exotic travels, upscale living."

"Not even close, and I'm not looking too classy now," she stated as she took a drink from her bottle of beer.

"Maybe if you're pinky wasn't sticking straight out when you hold your bottle," he chuckled.

Belle caught a glimpse of her pinky finger standing at attention as her fingers gripped the bottle. With a shy smile she lowered her small finger. "Habit," she dismissed.

"No need to be self conscious about it. I actually like it."
__________
"Phil what are we doing all the way out here man?" Jason complained as the two of them walked through the gravelly parking lot.

"Felt like trying something new. All the bars in town are too crowded on a Friday night. I'm looking for something a little low key."

The music from the small bar filtered out into the cool night air. Jason could faintly hear the sound of the familiar twang of country music and he quickly smiled, forgetting all about his previous complaints.

The two continued to walk through the rows of parked cars, not noticing the silver Mercedes two rows down but when they passed by the motorcycle they both knew all too well they both sighed.

"Looks like our fearless short stop is here," Philip grumbled.

"Let's not try anything alright Phil. Be a good boy tonight, we don't need any trouble," Jason warned in his thick Texan drawl.

"Just keep him out of my way. I can't stand that guy."

They walked inside and immediately walked to the bar. Ordering what was on tap, they looked around for a place to sit when they saw Shawn sitting in the corner. His face was in clear view, but they could not get a clear look of the blonde who was with him. With her hair gracefully falling down on her shoulders, along with the dimly lit area neither Jason or Philip recognized Belle in the distance.

"Damn it!" Shawn cursed in a tight voice.

"What's wrong with you?" Belle asked growing upset at Shawn's sudden outburst.

"Don't turn around," he warned sternly. "Jason and Philip are here and they see us."

Belle started to move when Shawn suddenly grabbed her hand. "Don't," he said through clenched teeth. "I doubt they know it's you. Your back is to them and they would never suspect you to be here with me."

"Right. Ok," she agreed as she grew more panicked. "They can't see us together Shawn. I can't have that kind of gossip."

"You think I don't realize that? What are they doing here anyway? This place is so far out of town. They always go to Mulligans."

"What are we going to do Shawn?"

"Just follow my lead," he said as he stood up. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a couple of twenties to pay off the tab and leave an extremely gracious tip. Taking Belle's hand he pulled her to him, causing her to lose her balance and her body landing against his strong frame with a thud, that left her both breathless and speechless. "You're good at this," he smirked.

"What? Tell me what you're doing!" she snapped and started to pull away from him, only to feel his arm circle her waist and hold her close. "Shawn I don't see how this is..."

She was quickly interrupted by Shawn capturing her lips in a searing kiss.

"What...what are you doing?" Belle asked startled by his unexpected kiss.

Shawn looked at her with that familiar dark, brooding gaze. With a growing frown, he bit his bottom lip and looked at her in confusion. "Maybe, I'm losing my touch," he said in response to her question, then quickly shook his head to dismiss the ridiculous statement.

He licked his lips slowly and a sexy smirk soon graced his face. Touching her cheek gently with his rugged hand, he caressed her velvety smooth skin and guided her closer to him. Placing his lips gently on hers, she let out a sigh as he teased her with nibbling kisses that left her in a puddle. Inwardly he smiled when her lips parted from his slight urging to deepen the kiss. Her arms curled around his neck. She was lost, there was no turning back now and she knew it.

Their lips parted and Shawn looked at Belle with a smoldering gaze that left her even more speechless. Touching her hair gently, his fingers capturing a few strands in between his fingers. "It looks like I still have it," he stated confidently and then looked away from her briefly. Noticing that Philip and Jason were now occupied with some ladies at the bar, Shawn looked back at Belle who was just staring at him in a look of confusion. "They're not looking. I think we can slip out in the back."

"So ... that was your plan?" Belle asked, trying her best to get upset but it really wasn't working.

"No, I just had to shut you up," he replied bluntly. "You were talking too loud, they may have recognized your voice."

"Over this noise?" she asked, raising a skeptical brow.

"Hey, I was just covering my bases," he said, mocking innocence.

"Well, I think you can let me go now," Belle stated. Their bodies were still close, as Shawn held her near to him, and yet despite what she said she made no attempt to move away from him.

"I don't think you want me to," he replied in a low, husky voice that left her body tingling.

"Of course I do."

"You're not budging," he responded smugly and suddenly revealed both hands showing her that he was no longer holding her. Only her arms wrapped around his neck kept them close.

Flushed, she slowly removed her hands from him and looked down in embarrassment.

"I don't know what has gotten into me. This is extremely unprofessional. I shouldn't be doing this with you."

Not shaken by her words, Shawn looked at her somewhat indifferently. "Let's get out of here. Some fresh air may do us both some good," he suggested and led her out the back door near the table they had been sitting. Once outside, Shawn walked Belle to her car and he continued their conversation.

"Look boss, I know you're having a hard time justifying why you want to spend time with me. You're trying to convince yourself that it's not right, but there are times, like tonight when I know you're torn."

"I just ..."

"Have dinner with me tomorrow night," he interrupted.

"I don't think..."

"Oh, come on. We've had drinks. You still owe me a business dinner," he grinned. "If someone sees us we won't have to sneak out. I promise."

"Maybe I like sneaking out," she flirted, not knowing what prompted her to make that comment out loud.

"I'm sure we can always arrange something," he said confidently. Touching her cheek gently with the back of his fingers, his deep gaze locked on hers. "You should head on home, it's getting late. You going to be ok?"

"Mm-hmm," Belle replied lazily.

A warm smile escaped Shawn's lips as he continued to gaze into her beautiful blue eyes. He became lost in them, and felt at peace as he looked into her sparkling gems. Wanting to kiss her again, he used all his will power not to do so. It had taken him this long to get this far and he had sense enough not to push Belle when she was clearly still having doubts. Backing away from her slowly his eyes stayed fixed on hers.

"I'll call you tomorrow boss."

Chapter 9:

The next night Shawn rummaged around his apartment growing nervous as he searched through his closet for something to wear. Appearances never usually mattered to Shawn. His standard was a pair of jeans and a shirt, but he knew that wouldn't really work with Belle tonight. He wanted this night to be different than the other times they had inadvertently spent with each other. This night was planned. It was a date, although they both referred to it as a business dinner. Shawn only went along with calling it that to make Belle feel more comfortable, but it was a date. Shawn didn't care for suits all too much but he was willing to make the exception tonight. Grabbing one of the two suits he owned, he laid the black suit down on the bed then picked out a shirt that didn't look too wrinkled. Satisfied with his decision he started to get ready.

Minutes later as he walked around wearing a pair of black pants, fitting comfortably around his waist, with a white tank tucked in tightly he was interrupted by the sound of the phone ring peeling through the small apartment.

"Hello," he answered in a friendly voice.

"Oh Shawn, I'm so glad you're home."

"Mom? What's wrong?" he asked in growing panic. "Is it Josh? Did something happen?"

"Isaac is out of rehab," she replied in a tremulous voice.

"HE WHAT?" Shawn exploded.

"I just got a call from his counselor from the center," she further said. After a brief pause she continued, "he checked himself out."

Shawn dropped down onto the bed and his shoulders slumped at the news. Running his fingers through his hair he let out an exasperated sigh. "How could he check himself out mom?"

"He checked himself in, so he could check himself out," Hope explained in an unsteady voice.

"This can't be happening," Shawn responded definitively. "It just can't be. He's not ready to be out."

"Well maybe he's changed Shawn. Maybe he's better."

"Don't do this Mom," Shawn quickly warned. "Don't defend him."

"He's my son, Shawn. I'm not going to abandon him."

"He abandoned us!" Shawn snapped. He grew more tense at the situation and remained quiet for a long time. Hope could not react to his outburst either, and there was nothing but sheer silence on both ends of the phone for what seemed like an eternity. "I'm sorry," he sighed. "I didn't mean to yell at you, I'm just ..." his voice trailed off as he tried to think of a quick solution. "I'm going to get you and Josh a ticket to come out here. You two can stay with me until we figure out what to do."

"No Shawn. I'm not going to run."

"Mom I'm trying to keep you and Josh safe!"

"I know and I appreciate it but I can handle Isaac if he shows up. But you really need to stay calm about this ok Shawn. There is no telling what Isaac will do, but I'm not going to run from my own son. I'm not!"

"Then I'm coming to you."

"Stay put Shawn. You know I was afraid you would react this way but I felt you needed to know. But please don't worry. I've told your Uncle Roman and he has an officer watching the house. Josh is safe and so am I."

"Well I'll give him a call in the morning."

"Alright Shawn. Now tell me you aren't going to do anything rash and that you'll listen to what your uncle has to tell you."

"I promise Mom. I do. But I want you to tell me the moment Isaac gets back to town."

"I will Shawn. So what are your plans for this evening?"

"I did have a date, but I don't think..."

"Go Shawn. Have a good time tonight. Please try, it'll help you get your mind off of everything."
__________
Belle sat in the restaurant, alone at a small table in the corner. It was dimly lit and as the soft music filled throughout the quaint restaurant, Belle looked around at the various patrons enjoying their Saturday evening. Taking a sip from her glass of water she soon glanced at her watch and realized that Shawn was ten minutes late. He had been so insistent about this dinner, Belle expected him to be early and eagerly waiting for her arrival, so she was very surprised to see that he had yet to arrive.

"Ma'am would you like to order a drink while you wait?"

"A glass of white zinfandel would be wonderful thanks," she said with a smile.

"Very well, ma'am," the waiter smiled in return and soon walked away.

A few minutes later the waiter brought her glass and she continued to sit alone. It was now starting to get to the point where Belle was feeling self conscious about being alone and she sipped her wine slowly, trying her best not to get irritated by Shawn's tardiness.

Putting down the glass, she looked up to see Shawn walking to her. She tried her best to look annoyed but she knew she was failing miserably as her eyes surveyed how handsome Shawn looked. He was wearing a suit. She couldn't get over the idea that he was actually in a black suit, perfectly tailored to fit his solid frame. The suit was accented by a white, crisp shirt. The top two buttons were undone, giving her a glimpse of the familiar gold cross he always wore around his neck. He was clean shaven and he even looked like he got a haircut. Belle was already attracted to the usual rough and rugged look Shawn sported, but this was so different. It wasn't better, only a different side of Shawn that she knew she'd have a good time getting to know.

"I'm sorry I'm late boss," he said seriously and soon gave her his signature smirk. Revealing his hand from behind his back, a white rose came into view and he handed it to her. "Peace offering."

"This wasn't necessary," Belle said with a warm smile as she took the flower from him.

"I know. It's not typical to bring flowers on a business dinner," he grinned and took his seat across from her.

"No it's not," she replied. "But I think we can make an exception this time."

"I was hoping you'd see it that way."

After a time the two continued to make small talk and enjoyed their evening together as they ate dinner. Shawn pushed his problems about his family behind him and concentrated completely on the beautiful woman who after months of trying had finally warmed up to him. Their conversation was light. Occasionally talking about the team, but both were surprised as to how easily they were able to find things to talk about, particularly Belle.

The table had been cleared and all that was before them were glasses of water. The sound of Belle's laughter permeated through the restaurant as Shawn told tale after tale. He had seen so much during his life and had met a number of characters along the way to have a collection of stories that could touch on any emotion. Tonight he had Belle in stitches as she laughed like she had never laughed before. It felt good to be so carefree and the more Belle laughed, the more at ease Shawn's soul felt. He could listen to her laugh forever.

"Is there anything else I can get for you two?" the waiter asked as he stood next to the table.

Shawn glanced at Belle, and then up to the waiter. "Just the check thanks," Shawn told him. Soon the waiter slipped the small black folder with the bill inside onto the table and Shawn quickly took it without thought. With a quick glance and he placed his credit card inside and handed it to the waiter.

Watching the waiter walk away, Belle looked at Shawn as she started to reach into her purse. "How much?" she asked.

"How much is what?" he asked confused by her question.

"Dinner. I should pay my half."

"I'm not going to take your money boss."

"I insist."

"So do I. Don't insult me by trying to pay for your dinner. This is the least I can do for you."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean that I haven't had this much fun in a long time. I'm saying thank you so don't take this chance away from me, ok?"

"Ok, Shawn," she said with a warm smile. Quickly she put her purse back down. "Thank you. I had a really good time tonight."

"Best business dinner you've ever had?"

"Hands down."

"That's what I like to hear. Besides it's not everyday I get all dressed up," he grinned. The waiter slipped the receipt onto the table and Shawn quickly signed the slip of paper, keeping a copy for himself. His gaze fell back on Belle as she sat there watching him, and for a moment they sat there with their eyes locked on each other. "What do you say we get out of here?" Shawn asked. He stood up and extended his hand to Belle to help her up. Gladly she accepted the offer and for the first time Shawn got a full look at the rose colored dress Belle wore. In a word she was perfection and his heart stopped as he looked at how the dress hugged every curve and accentuated her femininity. Soon Belle linked her arm with Shawn's and the two walked out together.

The night air was much cooler than Belle had remembered and she was quick to lean closer to Shawn for additional warmth. He savored the moment, forgetting all his troubles. At this moment it was just him and Belle and nothing could be better than that. He didn't want the evening to end.

"Where are you parked?" he asked quietly.

"We already passed it. I was hoping we could just walk a little. I love the night air."

"It's a little cool out here."

"I'll be alright. I'm used to it," she explained as she held onto him.

Shawn stopped for a moment and started to remove his jacket. "Well I don't want you to get a cold because of me," he explained as he took off his suit jacket and placed it on her shoulders. "You know if we keep walking someone may see us. Aren't you worried?"

Belle shook her head no. "I make no apologies for the way I am," she said with an emerging smile. "Or who I like spending time with."

Shawn looked at her a bit confused, yet amazed. "I don't get you boss. One minute you care about what others may think and the next you don't care at all."

"Can't a woman change her mind?"

"I suppose so. Especially when it works in my favor."

"I'm glad you approve," she smiled. Holding onto the jacket and hugging it tight around her, she stood in front of Shawn and raised herself on tiptoe to brush her lips lightly against his for a soft kiss.

"Oh I'm more than glad," he grinned. "So just like that you changed your mind? Couldn't resist my charm could you?"

"Something like that," she blushed. Looking away from him she could feel his dark gaze still on her. "But it's really a long story," she explained with a somewhat sullen expression.

Shawn couldn't help but notice the sudden change in her demeanor and he gently touched her cheek. His thumb slowly stroked her smooth skin in a soothing and comforting way. "I have all the time in the world."

Chapter 10:

It was a starry night, the tiny gems in the sky sparkled and shimmered off the small lake. The night was peaceful with a light breeze that made the evening even more lovely than either thought imaginable. The old wooden bench in the park had a long history of providing a place for couples young and old, and tonight was no different. The sight of the moonlight shimmering off the water like glass could put a spell on them both. It was awe-inspiring. Shawn always loved the water and though there wasn't much to see in the darkness the way the moonlight danced on the water he didn't think there was anything more beautiful until he looked to his left.

Belle sat by his side, looking out at the beauty of the night. Shawn couldn't help but look at her. He knew he was staring, possibly gawking but though there was something magical about the night, there was something even more spellbinding about the blonde haired, blue eyed angel by his side.

The way she looked in the moonlight, was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. It took his breath away and he just couldn't stop looking at her.

Aware of his deep gaze, Belle turned to face Shawn. She had a clever, quick retort all planned but she forgot all about the sarcastic remark when she looked into his eyes. It was like nothing she had ever seen. They were so deep and intense, making her grateful she was sitting down because there would be no way she'd be able to stand. It was so consuming and left her speechless. The way the moonlight flashed in his eyes, accentuating the golden flecks in his chestnut gaze.

"It's beautiful out here," he whispered.

"Yeah, the view is ... it's wonderful," she said softly.

"It's breathtaking," he said in barely a whisper. His voice breaking as he did so. Gently his fingers touched her face. Slowly he caressed her velvety smooth skin, his fingertips tracing lightly along her cheek and jawbone. "You are so... amazingly beautiful."

Belle's cheeks reddened, quickly flushed by his words and she looked away, almost embarrassed, not wanting to believe what he was telling her. Sure men had told her she was beautiful before, but none as sincerely and genuine as Shawn. In the past it was almost always a ploy, a way to be duped into getting what they wanted, but it was obvious to Belle at that moment that Shawn was like no other man. He wasn't trying to say the "right things" to get her into bed. He was truly a rare find in her life.

Feeling Shawn's rugged fingers on her face, made her body electrify and tingle in ways and in places she never thought imaginable. He was a strong man. She knew he was a hard working man, obviously very determined to get what he wanted. And he was a damn sexy man that left her senses in a daze. All reasoning had been abandoned and though being with Shawn was an obvious risk she had tried her best to evade, it was exciting and she found herself looking forward to seeing him.

He leaned in closer to her, tilting his head slightly and she encouraged his advances by moving toward him. Softly, ever so gently their lips met. Shawn continued to caress her skin, soon cupping her face as he held her close to him. He continued to taste her, slowly moving his lips along with hers in a sensual rhythm. Nibbling kisses. Little nips. Tiny sips. He savored her, tasting her sweetness in the most perfect kiss. With a sigh, Belle became lost in the moment and her lips parted slightly, inviting Shawn to deepen the kiss. Their tongues met in a slow waltz. Touching and exploring. Teasing and caressing. It was the sweetest thing she had ever known.

How one man could stimulate, invigorate and just exhilarate her very being, her heart and her soul she could not comprehend. He kissed her with passion, and a sense of longing, but with a gentleness she could not shake.

As their lips parted, Belle's eyes slowly opened and settled on Shawn's deep gaze looking at her adoringly. His fingers continued to slowly caress her face and his lips curled to form a warm smile, perfectly complementing his gaze. She felt so comforted and secure.

"What is it about you Shawn?" Belle asked in a whisper. Looking at him in wonder, her eyes danced with excitement as she savored this moment with him.

"What do you mean?"

"There's so much about you that I don't know and yet I feel like I've known you forever. Have you ever just felt connected to someone?"

"I think I may have an idea," he smirked, and continued to let his fingers touch her gently. Sweeping a few loose strands from her face as the wind gently blew across them, he watched how she hugged herself tighter in his jacket. As if by instinct they both gravitated even closer to each other. Bringing his arm around her, she rested her head on his shoulder and he held her close, allowing his lips to linger on her head for a gentle kiss. Breathing in her scent he was intoxicated by her beauty, the vanilla scent wafted over him and his lids gently closed as he tried to perfectly etch this moment in his memory.

They sat together like that, holding each other for quite some time, but for them time stood still. Playing the events of tonight over in his head Shawn looked down at Belle whose body fit so snugly next to him. Despite the special moment they were sharing, Shawn could sense that there was something on her mind. He remembered how she suddenly became a bit somber after they left the restaurant.

"Don't you have a long story to share?" he asked in a calming and soothing voice.

"Not tonight. I don't want to get into it," she sighed. Wrapping her arms around him even tighter.

"Are you sure? I'm more than willing to listen."

"I'm sure. I just want to stay like this."

"We have a whole season ahead of us," he said giving her arm a gentle squeeze.

With a smile she looked up at him. "A bad boy like you would get tired of me really quick."

"If that were the case I wouldn't have asked you out everyday for the last two months."

"Yeah, why were you so persistent?" she asked curiously.

He thought for a moment before answering. "I don't trust a lot of people normally, but I've always felt like I could trust you. You were honest with me from the beginning and didn't give me the regular bull I hear from people."

"I can be awfully blunt. My mother always tell me I can be quite undignified."

"This is the first time I've ever heard you mention your family, other than your grandfather."

"Well, you haven't told me anything about yours so I guess we're about even," she joked. "Besides, there's not much to tell. I'm not close to them. They live back east, and I went to boarding school in Switzerland and spent my summers here with my grandparents. Needless to say my parents had very little to do with my upbringing."

"So from ski trips in the Alps to owning a minor league team in the middle of nowhere USA," he commented. "It sounds like you're moving in the right direction," he teased and chuckled softly.

Belle laughed along with him, realizing it was indeed what many may consider the road less traveled but that was the life she had, for better or worse. There were always stumbling blocks and yet she always came out on top, this was to be no different.

Minutes later the two eventually got up from their cozy spot on the bench overlooking the lake. Walking back towards the main road, they strolled together down the sidewalk. The cars zipping past them on the busy Saturday night did not phase them one bit. Approaching the restaurant where there evening had started, Shawn quickly looked both ways and once he saw a break in the traffic he instinctively grabbed Belle's hand, leading her across the street with him at a brisk pace to avoid the approaching cars.

As they reached the other side of the street, their hands became more familiar with each other and their fingers ultimately laced together.

At the feel of Shawn's hand engulfing her own petite hand, Belle couldn't help but smile. "I think our business dinner has officially turned into a date."

"You're finally realizing that? I thought you would have figured that out after we kissed ... unless you kiss all the men you have a business dinner with," he teased.

"Not all," she mused. Her comment was immediately met by a look from Shawn that she knew was driven by jealousy. The fact he would react like that made her smile even more.

Soon making it to the parking lot, they stood together next to Belle's car. "I had a really good time tonight Shawn."

"Me, too. I'm hoping we can do it again sometime soon," he said, flashing her his sexy smirk. "Like... tomorrow," he suggested wishfully. "I'd pick you up this time."

"I am not riding on your motorcycle," she protested.

"What are you? Chicken," he teased.

"No. But I just like the comfort of a car. That's all."

"Don't worry about it boss. I'll have it under control. So, I'll give you a call?"

"I'd like that."

"And I'll take you out?"

"I'd like that, too."

He leaned in closer. His lips brushed against hers teasingly. In a whisper he asked, "Is there anything else you'd like ... Belle?"

Surprised, Belle pulled away and looked at him surprised. "You said my name," she gasped.

"Yeah," he said with a bashful grin.

"No more boss lady?" she asked curiously.

"Not exactly. At work you'll still be my boss lady. You see, I have this problem. I can't say your name without smiling," he confessed.

Belle looked at him, observing a slap happy grin on his face.

"I'll lose my edge if I stop calling you boss," he further explained. "Can't have everyone realizing I'm a sap for the boss," he grinned.

"I guess not," she agreed with a bright smile. Realizing she still wore his jacket, slowly she removed it and handed it back to him. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, Belle," he said, and once again a big smile came across his face. "See what I mean," he chuckled, commenting on his inability to suppress his smile.

"You may need to work on that," she teased and gave him a sweet kiss. "Good night Shawn."

"Good night," he replied, wrapping his arms around her waist. He leaned in and captured her lips with his own. Their lips tenderly locked with each other for a sweet goodnight kiss. "I'll call you."

"You better," she mused as she unlocked her door and opening it.

"Oh, you can count on it," he said, holding her door open for her. "Be safe." Seeing her inside, he closed the door and stepped back as she started the car and eventually drove off. Smiling to himself, he couldn't help but start whistling to himself. This was the happiest he had been in a long time. Turning around he started to make his way to his motorcycle parked across the way when he saw a small flame flicker from a lighter. He could see the shadowy figure, lower his head to light his cigarette and the flame was quickly extinguished. Standing before Shawn, the stranger took a long drag and soon released a stream of smoke into the night air.

Shawn continued to walk to his motorcycle ignoring the obvious dramatic entrance the stranger wanted to make.

"I can't believe you aren't taking her back to your place," the man said in a voice Shawn instantly recognized.

Convinced his mind was playing tricks on him Shawn tried to avoid what he realized was true, but it was an impossible task. Stopping, Shawn turned to face the unwanted visitor and saw the tall figure step out of the shadows, moving closer to him. A pair of dark eyes identical to his own met his with a look of sheer intensity and anger. Shawn remained silent, his jaw clenching at the sight of the one person he was not prepared to see, not now, not here.

"Well aren't you going to say hello to your brother?" Isaac asked in an arrogant laugh as he walked closer to Shawn. With an eerily smug look, he took another long puff from the cigarette. Releasing a slow stream of smoke, "aren't you happy to see me?"
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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

October 24th, 2004, 5:01 pm #6

A Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC17.
Chapters 11 - 15

Chapter 11:

Vince walked into the locker room to see his team in down spirits after losing their fifth game in a row. Vince was not one to rest a whole team on the shoulders of one player, but in this case he had to. Shawn was hands down the best player who brought a level of stability to the team and suddenly his game was off, particularly the last three.

"Brady," Vince called out to him. Shawn looked up to see his coach standing in the doorway of his office and motioning for him to come to him. With a heavy sigh he made his way to Vince, knowing full well what he was going to talk to him about.

"I know Vince. Not one of my best days," Shawn said before Vince could say a word.

"We all have our bad days. Problem is this is your third one. I know you'll get your focus back. I see the fire in your eyes and I know you're hungry for a win."

"I am. I'll get it back."

"You don't have to convince me. You've got to convince the boss. Ms. Black wants to see you. She's not happy."

"Great," he grumbled. If it was a week ago, Shawn would have loved the opportunity, the excuse to see Belle but things had suddenly changed after their date four nights ago. The call he had promised to make never happened, and he had avoided her while he took pity on his older brother and let Isaac stay with him, unbeknownst to anyone.

Not one to waste time, Shawn made the trek up to Belle's office. He didn't care if his attire probably wasn't the most appropriate to go up to the corporate office. He continued his journey wearing his uniform, the front of his pants filthy from his unsuccessful slide into second. His jersey was unbuttoned, with his chiseled frame in clear view. He had no desire to button it back up. It wasn't a ploy on his part to make Belle flustered by his attire, or lack there of, he was just tired and ready to leave. Having a meeting with the owner was the last thing he wanted to do.

With three quick knocks on her door, Shawn announced his presence and walked in before Belle responded. "You wanted to see me?"

"Come in Shawn," she replied in a tight voice. He could tell she was angry and annoyed. A combination of his performance on and off the field. Looking him up and down as he walked in her mind was playing tricks on her. Every time Belle had an encounter with Shawn, his effect was nothing short than devastating on her senses and this time was beginning to prove to be no different. However, she was angry. Not only with him but with herself. She did the one thing she vowed never to do, to get involved with a player. She understood the risk and she took it realizing there was a chance she would get hurt, although part of her never expected it to happen so soon and for her to take it as hard as she was. Watching Shawn walk toward her desk, he stood before her.

"I'll stand. I don't want to get dirt on your lovely office furniture," he said with obvious sarcasm.

"I appreciate your consideration. Now do you care to tell me what happened?"

"With what? There's a lot you could be referring to."

"This is strictly business."

"Are you sure? Because I have a good feeling a lot of the reason you called me up here is motivated by what I've been doing to you."

"You aren't doing anything to me other than pissing me off by avoiding the issue here," she snapped.

"I have it under control," he said through clenched teeth. Suddenly his stance became very defensive and his brown eyes became more fierce in their intensity.

"Why exactly are you so angry with me? I haven't done anything to you. I never lead you on and then dropped you like a bad habit. I've done nothing but be honest with you so this sudden anger towards me really has no justification."

"I'm not angry with you," Shawn replied calmly.

"Really?" Belle asked incredulously.

"And I never dropped you like a bad habit," he further stated.

"REALLY?" Belle asked unable to hide her shock at what she felt was a bold face lie. Standing up from her seat behind the desk, she met his gaze with equal intensity. Her blue eyes, dark with anger, firing daggers as she felt the ire rise in her. "You know I've been dumped before Shawn, but usually I see it coming. I must admit this caught me off guard, but I guess I should have realized a bad boy like you has a few tricks up his sleeve," she said, her voice dripping with disdain.

"That's not true," Shawn responded to dryly.

"I think it is true. I've heard the stories you tried to convince me weren't true. I know your type, wine 'em and dine 'em one minute. I'm surprised you didn't try to get me into bed," she said. Her voice was tight, laced with anger and hurt.

"You don't know what you're talking about."

"The hell I don't!" she snapped.

"Belle..."

"It's Ms. Black!" she yelled. "I will NOT tolerate your disrespect anymore Shawn!"

Shawn stood there knowing he deserved it. He had treated her badly, worse than that and it tore him upside to see how his insensitivity had affected her.

"You played me for a fool, but you know, I blame myself, too. I blame me for allowing myself to be so gullible to fall for your tricks and your lies. I blame me for allowing myself to care about you more than I should. I blame myself," she repeated in a less steady voice. "Just leave," she said quietly, her eyes suddenly shifting away from his.

Shawn stood there watching Belle trying to stay strong and not let her emotions get the best of her. He could see the conflict. Trying to stay strong and yet part of her just wanting to have an emotional release.

At this point he thought it might be best to follow her wishes. Walking away to leave, Shawn suddenly stopped and turned to face her once again only to see her turned around with her back now facing him. Slowly he walked around the desk to get closer to her. Approaching her he could see her with her eyes closed. With one hand on her hip the other covering her face.

Unsure of how to approach her or what to say, he said all he could think of, "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I never meant to hurt you."

"It's too late for that Shawn. You shouldn't have ignored me and been so cold to me. You shouldn't have made promises to me you never intended on keeping."

"That's not true Belle," he said softly. Hesitantly he raised a hand to her shoulder and gently placed it on the soft fabric of her business suit. "I never meant to shut you out," he whispered. Becoming more bold, he guided her hand down with his left hand and touched her cheek gently with his right, guiding her to face him. "You have to believe me."

"Why should I?"

"Because you know I'm telling the truth."

Belle looked into his eyes, pleading with her to believe him and she wanted to but she couldn't. She wasn't willing to set herself up for disappointment once again.

"I can't Shawn."

"Yes you can," he quietly urged. His voice was soft and quiet, yet demanding. Softly his fingers stroked her cheek as his other hand sneaked around her waist to hold her close.

"Why did you lead me on? Why did you make so many promises to me that night?"

"I didn't lead you on," he said while shaking his head for emphasis, his lips coming dangerously close to hers. They brushed against hers teasingly, but never developing into a kiss. "Everything I said to you that night was true," he argued passionately. "It's just that something beyond my control happened afterward."

"Tell me."

"I can't."

"I want to help you."

"I have it under control," he argued.

"No you don't, otherwise it wouldn't affect your game... or us."

"I like the sound of that," he smirked. "Us."

"But there won't be any us if you aren't honest with me. You've got to trust that I'll be able to handle whatever it is you have to tell me."

Looking down at the ground, Shawn wasn't ready to divulge all his family secrets to her, but he knew he needed to at least start tonight. Belle sought his gaze and smiled as their eyes locked once more. The fierceness both possessed not too long ago was now a thing of the past. "I'm putting a lot on the line here by caring for you as much as I do Shawn. I deserve to know what is going on with you. I have a right to know why you've been shutting me out."

"You're right. You do." He continued to touch her cheek gently and became lost in her eyes, the warm blue depths which offered him so much comfort and solace. "Meet me by the lake tonight."

"Why can't we ..."

Shawn quickly silenced her with a gentle kiss, softly placing his lips on hers. Their lips tenderly locked, wiping away the doubt Belle had.

"In about an hour," he continued. Belle looked at him in confusion. Shawn gave her a reassuring smile and kissed her quickly, yet soundly once again. "One hour," he repeated and slowly let her go. "You have my word, I'll be there."

Chapter 12:

Belle stood behind her desk staring at the door as if she expected Shawn to walk back inside her office. He had left ten minutes ago, and yet she could still feel him so close to her. The way his fingers gently caressed her face. The ruggedness of his hand against the smoothness of her skin. Tingles continued to course through her body at just the mere thought of him being so close to her. Shawn had such a consuming effect on her, wreaking havoc on her senses and as much as she wanted not to believe him she knew that if she didn't at least try to give him a chance to explain himself she would never forgive herself. Finally snapping out of her daydream, she quickly packed up her briefcase and left her office.
__________
Shawn arrived at the lake, immediately seeing the familiar sleek, silver Mercedes parked on the street. Walking down the path to the lake, he saw Belle's petite frame as she overlooked the water. He was surprised to see that she had changed, not thinking she had enough time to go home and do so, but she proved him wrong. Though he saw her in a suit almost everyday, and the look was definitely growing on him, her current attire was something he could get used to as well. From the pink top she wore to the way her slim form fit into the pair of tight jeans which perfectly molded her body, Shawn's breath was taken away. Her hair fell down gracefully onto her shoulders in bouncy golden curls. She hugged herself from the chill in the night air, and as Shawn approached her he couldn't help but try to keep her warm.

Belle was deep in thought as she looked out at the night sky. She wasn't even aware that Shawn was getting closer to her. Startled after a brief moment, Belle soon relaxed as she felt Shawn slip his strong arms around her waist. Quickly relaxing in his hold, she leaned back into him, her head resting on his shoulder. His lips soon found her neck, kissing her softly.

"It isn't too safe for you to be out here by yourself like this," Shawn muttered as he continued to plant gentle kisses on her soft skin.

"I know. You're the second man to do this to me tonight," she stated with a growing smile.

Abruptly Shawn stopped and turned her around in his arms. "WHAT?" he snapped.

Belle touched his cheek gently, gazing into his deep brown eyes which even in darkness consumed her. "I was joking Shawn," she smiled warmly. "Was that... jealousy I sensed?"

"What would you say if I said yes?"

"Oh I don't know," she replied innocently, curling her arms around his neck. "I'd say it was... sweet."

Shawn groaned disapprovingly at the word and shook his head unfavorably. "I've learned not to argue with you once you've made up your mind," he conceded. "But, you know I really don't have a right to be jealous. I haven't treated you in a way that gives me that right to act like the jealous guy."

"Do you want to have that right?" Belle asked curiously. Her fingers slowly playing with the hairs at the nape, their eyes locked, communicating more with their gaze than words could ever convey. Shawn lowered his head and captured her lips with his own for a lingering kiss.

"I do," he whispered.

"Then tell me what you've been keeping from me," Belle urged, looking at him, she could see the conflict starting to rise in him. "Please."

"Are you up for a ride?"

"Why are you changing the subject? Shawn, just be up front with me please. You're making me nervous here."

"Don't be nervous," he assured quietly. "I only want to take you some place where we can be alone. No chance of being interrupted. This'll be my chance to really apologize to you for being such an ass these last few days." He explained and kissed her sweetly. "I want to say I'm sorry in my own way. Trust me."

Belle nodded her head in agreement, unable to resist his offer. Unable to resist, he kissed her quickly yet soundly once again and took her hand in his, leading her to his motorcycle parked nearby. Hesitantly Belle got on behind him, wearing the helmet he provided for her. She held onto him for dear life as he revved the engine and without warning took off in a mad dash down the street.

As the motorcycle disappeared into the night, the flicker from a lighter illuminated the spot the two had previously stood. In the shadows, a cigarette was lit and the small light accented a pair of dark eyes that watched the couple with great disdain as they rode off into the night. Taking a long drag from his cigarette, Isaac stood in the darkness with feelings of contempt coming close to bubbling over the edge.

"Tsk, tsk brother," he said under his breath as he let out a stream of smoke. "You're playing with fire now."
__________
The hum of the engine was soon quieted as Shawn found a place to stop atop of the hill overlooking the city and parked. Hopping off, he quickly removed his helmet and watched Belle do the same. Grabbing the bag which was strapped to the back, he took her hand, leading her down only a few feet away.

"This looks like a good spot," he said as he dropped the bag, and squatted down to empty the contents. Revealing a blanket he spread it out somewhat ceremoniously. He soon extended his hand to Belle, and they sat down next to each other overlooking the bright lights of the town. For a few minutes they sat in silence, unsure of where to begin.

"Back home I used to always go to a place like this that overlooked the city," Shawn began. "It was secluded and always gave me a chance to think." After a brief pause he chuckled lightly to himself. "My Mom says my Dad always did that when he had a lot on his mind. I guess it was his way to cope."

"Have you ever asked him?"

"My father died when I was seven."

"Shawn, I'm so sorry."

"Don't be. It happened years ago and though I only knew him a few years he was a great man. He was a police officer," he said unable to hide his pride. "One of the department's finest," he boasted.

"So it was just you and your Mom when you grew up?"

"My brother, too. My older brother Isaac."

Belle was quick to notice the bitterness that suddenly filled his tone of voice.

Shawn let out a loud sigh as he continued to stare ahead. "My big brother Isaac," he repeated. "That's what I've been keeping from you. My brother showed up in town unexpectedly the same night of our date."

"Why would that be a problem?"

"He shouldn't be here. He checked himself out of rehab," Shawn stated, shifting restlessly as he sat next to Belle. Wringing his hands nervously he took a deep breath before he continued. "See Isaac has had a number of problems, and drug use is only one of them. Now that he has shown up I'm trying to keep him out of trouble as best as I can and just keep an eye on him. I don't want him going back home."

"Why not?"

"He's not ready to, and my mom is not ready for the challenge, but most importantly, his son is not ready."

"He has a son? What makes you think his son isn't ready?"

"Because the little guy can't handle the disappointment. Josh is only two and seeing Isaac and then having him leave again is too much for him. Isaac isn't ready to be a Dad yet. I'm trying to get him to at least see a counselor so he can get his life in order."

"Shawn, I feel so ... I just ... I just feel so foolish, so selfish for getting upset earlier."

Shawn quickly turned his head to look at her. His gaze was soft and understanding. "Don't feel that way," he said reassuringly. "I should have been up front with you from the beginning."

"I understand and I want to help. You just tell me what you need."

"You'd do that for me?" Shawn asked surprised.

Gently Belle touched his cheek, enjoying the feel the stubble on her fingertips. He leaned into her touch, savoring her gentle caress. "I care a great deal about you Shawn. I see what this is doing to you and I want to help. I want to see you happy," she said with a warm smile, "or at least back to your regular brooding self," she added teasingly.

"You make me happy," he said leaning in and capturing her lips with his own for a lingering kiss. "Very happy," he whispered. He kissed her with a growing passion, bringing her down with him onto the blanket as he tasted her and savored her with every passing moment. No woman had ever had that effect on him. No woman had ever tasted so sweet. No woman had ever understood him the way she did.

As their lips parted, Shawn looked down at Belle with a smoldering gaze. She looked so beautiful. The way her golden hair splayed out on the blanket, her pink lips inviting him to take them once again. "I don't want to sneak around with you Belle. I want to kiss you whenever and wherever. I don't care who sees us. I want people to know you mean a lot to me."

"Don't you think you should be telling me that first?"

"I'm telling you now. I want to be with you and I don't care who knows it."

"Shawn we can't. You know we can't. There's too much at stake if we do."

"I knew you were going to say that, but I thought it was worth a try. But for now what do you say we make this our spot," he suggested, flashing his signature sexy smirk. "It's private ... and scenic..."

"... and romantic," Belle added with a bright smile. Her fingers combed through his hair at the nape and guided him down to her. "It's perfect," she said as she brushed her lips against his teasingly. Their lips soon locked tenderly for a slow, tantalizing kiss. Together they journeyed to a place where only they existed. The starry sky blanketing them, adding to the magic of the night.

Chapter 13:

Belle melted into Shawn's strong embrace. With his arms around her, his hands moved slowly up and down her back keeping her close to him. Savoring the feel of her small frame molding perfectly to his. Her fingers ran wildly through his unruly hair, holding him close as he ravaged her mouth with passionate kisses leaving her weak. They kissed with reckless abandon forgetting all about where they were until they were abruptly interrupted by a loud knock on the door.

Quickly breaking the kiss, Shawn stepped away sweeping his fingers through his hair and wiping his mouth to rid himself of any remnants of strawberry lip gloss from his lips. Belle immediately straightened herself up, making sure her suit was flawless. "Come in," she yelled, unable to hide the annoyance she felt at the intrusion.

The door opened, revealing Vince whose eyes landed on Shawn and then glanced at Belle. He could sense the tension, his automatic assumption the two were having a disagreement. He was unaware the tension was sexual.

"Yes Vince," Belle stated in a tight voice.

"Sorry to interrupt but the team is about to leave. Shawn you need to get on the bus."

"Alright, I'll be there in a sec. The boss and I are almost finished, aren't we?" he asked looking at Belle.

"I won't hold up Mr. Brady much longer Vince. There's some unfinished business we have here."

"Ok, Ms. Black," he said with a warm smile. Then glanced at Shawn, giving him a stern look. Vince walked out, pulling the door closed behind him.

"God, that was close," Belle sighed.

"You got that right," Shawn agreed with an equally heavy sigh. "I don't know if I can keep this up much longer. We've been sneaking around for a month now."

"I like to think of it as dating."

"And we're the only two who know how we feel about each other!" Shawn argued, unable to hide his frustration. He paused, taking in a deep breath and then exhaled slowly to calm himself down. "Do you realize how hard it is to have a girlfriend only I know about? I want to go out with you and have every guy jealous of me that I have such a wonderful and fantastic lady in my life. And I know we can't. You don't have to remind me, because I know. It still doesn't mean I have to like it. I'm determined to at least make this work. I've spent my life messing up a lot of things so I'm willing to compromise to not mess this up." He walked closer to her, cupping her face gently in his rugged hand. He crashed his lips down on hers for a lingering kiss. Both hard and passionate to last him the few days they would be apart. "I've got to get going. I will call you the moment I get a chance."

"I'm going to hold you to that," Belle smiled. "Now go before Vince has a coronary," she giggled softly.

"Alright," Shawn chuckled, as he let her go. Walking to the door, he soon turned the knob.

"Play hard," Belle encouraged.

"I always do," he replied smugly with a wink. "See ya boss lady," he said disappearing out of her office.
__________
Night quickly set on the small town, signaling to Belle that it was time for her to call it quits for the evening and make her way home. Walking to her sleek, luxury car parked in its usual spot she was startled by a flicker from a lighter in the distance. She could see the figure in the distance lower his head and light a cigarette, and the flame was soon extinguished.

"Who's there?" she questioned, trying to keep her voice steady to not show the fear which was creeping up inside.

"You mean my dear old brother hasn't told you about me?" Isaac answered smugly. Taking a few steps towards her, he emerged from the shadows. Belle could see a familiar pair of dark eyes. His gaze harbored the same intensity as Shawn's but instead of that hint of gentleness Shawn possessed, all Belle could see was anger mixed with hatred. Instantly she knew he was Isaac. He and Shawn shared many facial features in common, but physically Isaac was taller but lanky. He didn't possess the same lean, muscular frame Shawn had which had already been the focus of many of her dreams as of late. He had long, sandy brown hair hanging just below his ears. It had the same unruly quality of Shawn's as a few strands hung in his face.

"Isaac I presume?"

"You're correct. I knew Shawn would have mentioned me at least once or twice, maybe more. Let me guess, he probably told you I'm a screw up for an older brother, a real disappointment to the family."

"Shawn just wants you to get better," Belle simply answered.

"What if I told you I am already better? I haven't touched that stuff in months. I'm clean. Only addiction I have is to these things," he said displaying his cigarette. Taking a long drag he soon let out a slow stream of smoke escape.

"I'm glad to hear that. So why don't you go back home to your son?"

"Right, my son. Little Joshua. Did Shawn tell you all about that, too? He sure does like to gossip."

"All he's told me is you have a son Josh, who'll be three in two months. He was trying to plan a trip for your Mom and Josh to come down that weekend to watch him play. He really loves Josh."

"Well, he should," Isaac snickered. Flicking the cigarette to the ground he crushed the butt with his shoe.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Wouldn't you expect a father to love his son?"

"Of course. So do you?"

"I don't have a son to love," Isaac plainly responded. Taking out the box of cigarettes from his pocket, he ceremoniously took out another and lit it with his trusty lighter. "Needless to say Shawn hasn't told you everything."

Belle looked at him in confusion. Shocked by what Isaac was implying, she refused to believe him.

"I can see by the look on your face this news comes to you as a surprise. Apparently, my little brother isn't the hero you think he is," he commented with an arrogant chuckle.

"What are you saying?" she asked, refusing to believe a word he was saying to her.

"It's a shame. I really thought you were a smart enough broad to realize what I'm saying. But let me spell it out for you. Josh is Shawn's son."

"But you were married to Josh's mother."

"That's true, but she cheated on me with Shawn. I bet he never mentioned that, did he? The way he seduced my wife. Kept pursuing her under my nose for months until she finally caved in. You know, that's how he operates. He spots what he wants and doesn't quit until the woman has fallen for him. He gets what he wants and tosses them aside when he's done.

"You're lying. Shawn isn't the kind of man who would do that. I know he wouldn't."

"Are you sure? From my understanding he's been working on you for some time and you eventually caved."

"I didn't cave," Belle defended with great offense to his insinuation. "I happen to care a great deal for your brother, and he does for me as well."

"Keep deluding yourself lady. Shawn ruins everything and everyone's lives he comes in contact with!" he argued, growing more angry at the situation.

"I don't believe that one bit. He's only made my life better."

"If that's so then why are you ashamed to tell everyone about the two of you?"

"I'm not ashamed. It's just not the right time. Besides, I don't need to defend myself or my relationship with Shawn to you. I don't know what the point of you coming out here tonight was, but all you've done is get me upset with all your lies. Shawn is a good man. He would have never betrayed you and even now after all you've done, he hasn't abandoned you. Instead of bashing Shawn why don't you try to do something with your life? It's pretty pathetic that you can't get your act together, at least do it for your son!"

"Ooh, I think I struck a nerve," Isaac responded in an eerily calm voice. "I think you're trying to convince yourself that Shawn isn't that way."

"I don't have to convince myself. I know Shawn," she said in a tight voice which demanded attention. "Now if you don't mind I'm tired and I'm going home. It was a pleasure," she stated sarcastically.

Quickly getting into her car, Belle didn't hesitate to speed out of the parking lot, leaving Isaac behind. As she drove, Belle couldn't help but think about what Isaac had told her. She thought about all the nights she had spent with Shawn by the lake and on the hill top, just the two of them. They had talked about so many things. For nearly a month they shared personal things about one another. Talking, kissing, getting to know each other, all leading to them falling for each other. She couldn't help but think about Shawn, his gentleness and his strength, a perfect blend that always made her feel so safe with him and desired. Now Isaac was questioning that. He was right when he described how Shawn pursued her. For months he was relentless until she complied to his wishes and for Belle that was a decision she had not regretted, despite the risks she knew that being with Shawn was right.

After arriving home and having dinner, Belle relaxed in her bed, curled under the covers with a book. A romance novel she couldn't help but substitute the male character with Shawn in her mind. As she read, the sound of the phone interrupted her thoughts. A smile crept across her face at the sound of the familiar husky voice which consumed her thoughts and dreams.

"Hey boss," Shawn said in a low voice. Belle could easily imagine him saying it with that sexy smirk on his face.

"Hey you. How was the game?"

"We won 3-0. It was a personal best for me, but I'll tell you all about it when we get back. I only have a few minutes before Sanchez gets back in here. I just wanted to tell you I was thinking about you."

"I was thinking about you, too. But there is something I need to ask you."

"Anything for you boss."

"I met Isaac today. He stopped by the stadium."

"What did he say to you?" Shawn asked, unable to hide the obvious tension in his voice.

"He claimed that Josh is your son, not his and that you're just trying to use me."

"You don't believe him do you?"

"No."

"You aren't having any doubts about me are you?"

"I was at first, but I know you would never do the things he was accusing you of."

"Good, because I haven't lied to you. I wouldn't do that to you. I care about you too much. But we'll talk more about this when I'm back in town. I hear Sanchez coming back. I'll call you tomorrow. Sleep tight."

"Ok, Shawn. Play hard tomorrow."

"I always do."

"That's what I like to hear. I'll talk to you soon."

"Good night Belle," he said quietly. "I...I, um..." he paused and took a deep breath. "I miss you."

Belle curled up even more under the covers, smiling to herself at Shawn's words. He said it in a cute, timid way that made her wonder how she could ever believe a man like this was as bad as Isaac had said. "I do, too Shawn."

"Ok, well um... I got to go. I'll talk to you tomorrow. Sweet dreams." He hung up the phone and Belle clicked off her phone, placing it on the nightstand by her bed.

"The sweetest dreams," she sighed and soon drifted off to sleep.

Chapter 14:

Without any warning or words spoken, Isaac was thrown up against the wall. His collar rumpled by the tight fists clenching onto his shirt. A pair of dark eyes as intense as his stared him down. Isaac let out an arrogant chuckle to compensate for the pain coursing through his body. With another loud thud his body was forcefully pushed against the wall, and he grunted in response. Shaking off the immediate ache in his head and back.

"I see your ... little girlfriend ... told you we met," he said in a strained voice.

Shawn tightened his grip on Isaac's collar, pushing him against the wall as if he wanted Isaac to go through it. "You're a bastard," he snarled. "How dare you lie to her like that! What are you trying to prove?"

"You and I ... both know ... it's not ... a lie," he said, gasping for air so he could breathe.

"I want you out of here," Shawn barked. "TONIGHT!"

Forcefully Shawn let go of Isaac, causing him to hunch over as he rubbed his neck soothingly as he tried to catch his breath. He looked up to see Shawn pacing around, visibly seething with anger as he tried to calm himself down but to no avail.

"Well, you haven't denied it this time around," Isaac said in a creepy and calm voice.

"Because I'm tired of wasting my breath!"

"No. I think it's because you're finally admitting to what you did! What you did to me! To my wife! To OUR family!" Isaac yelled. "It was so easy to blame me. Isaac the family screw up! No one could believe that Shawn Brady, the home town hero would sleep with his brother's wife! No one would believe..."

"STOP IT!" Shawn exploded. "Just SHUT UP!" his voice boomed throughout the apartment, like a sonic boom sending shock waves throughout Isaac. In a long stride he reached Isaac, staring him down with even greater anger. A level of rage, Isaac had never seen before in Shawn, but it was tame in comparison to the anger he often carried. Poking him in the chest, Shawn once again backed Isaac into a corner. "Do NOT blame me for YOU fucking up YOUR life!" he demanded in a tight voice. "You think I don't know what you're trying to do? Don't you think I realize what your twisted plan is?"

"Why don't you enlighten me oh brother," Isaac said, his voice dripping with tremendous disdain.

"You can't stand that for once, in my life I'm happy. You came here expecting to see me down because I got sent to the minors. You expected to see me getting what you think I deserve. You thought I'd be suffering but it just pissed you off to see the opposite. I see you trying to ruin the best thing, the best thing to ever happen to me. Well it's not going to work."

A low rumble crept through Isaac's body, eventually coming out in the form of an arrogant chuckle. The eerie tone sent chills down Shawn's spine. "So you've got it all figured out."

"Yeah. I do," Shawn answered with great attitude. He grabbed his keys and walked away. "I want you gone when I get back."

"Going to go see your precious Belle?" he asked mockingly.

"Don't say her name," Shawn spat. "Don't ever say her name! You aren't worthy to let anything so pure escape your lips."

"Oh, all of a sudden you're a poet. Is that how you got Sandy in bed with you. Did you pour on the sweet talk?"

"Damn it," Shawn snarled. "Why don't you for once get it through your twisted little head that I did NOT sleep with your wife! If you would for once take responsibility for your own actions."

"And what would that be exactly? You're the one who had sex with my wife!"

"God damn it! No I didn't! If you weren't so messed up in the head you'd realize that it never happened. You've twisted everything to make you feel better! You're the one who abandoned your wife, your son, AND your family. You're the one who chose drugs over raising your son after Sandy died. So until you get your act together; until you finally realize you are accountable for your actions..."

"What Shawn? WHAT?!" Isaac yelled. "It sounds like you're giving me an ultimatum."

"Until you become a man, you are no longer my brother. If you want to forsake your responsibility as a father, I will adopt Josh and make him my son. Maybe then he'll have a chance of living a normal life. I want you gone Isaac. I want you out of this apartment and out of my life."

With those words Shawn stormed out, slamming the door behind him. He hopped onto his motorcycle and drove like a mad man through the streets of the city in the pouring rain. There was only one place he could go. No matter how many twists and turns he made on his journey all roads led to the old country road where nestled on a large estate was a quaint home. The legendary home of Leonard Black, former owner of the Hawks. Now the home of his beloved Belle. Shawn had been there only once with the team at the beginning of the season, but no other time. Neither he nor Belle wanted to take the risk of someone seeing him there, just like she had never been to his apartment.

Hopping off of the motorcycle he walked to the front door, removing his helmet. He was soaked from head to toe and yet he didn't care. Pressing the doorbell a few times, he leaned against the door supporting himself on the structure. Feeling weak, he practically stumbled inside once the door opened.

Belle looked at him in total surprise as he collapsed in her arms. "Shawn? What... what happened?" she asked with great concern. She helped him inside and quickly closed the door behind. "Shawn what are you doing out here? You're soaked."

"I had to come see you," he said in a hoarse voice. "I just don't know what else to do."

"Alright, well let's get you out of these wet clothes," she said trying to remain calm. Taking his hand she led him upstairs to the bathroom. "We need to get you out of these before you catch a cold. Come on," she said pulling on the hem of his shirt. The white T-shirt clinging to his body, hugged his frame highlighting the well defined lines of his chest and his ripped abdomen. Her breath caught as she lifted his shirt and the perfection which was his body came into clearer view. "Um...let me get you a towel. Why don't you take off your jeans so I can put them in the dryer."

"You're the boss," he said with a timid smile.

Belle disappeared and soon came back with a towel to see Shawn sitting in a slumped position in only a pair of blue boxers which were also wet from the rain. She handed him the towel and he quickly dried his hair and patted his damp skin with it.

"I'm going to go take these downstairs to the dryer. Do you want to, um... give me your ... boxers, too?" she asked hesitantly.

"I don't want to make you uncomfortable."

"No, it's ok. You've got the towel."

"Right," he smirked and started to remove his boxers. Quickly she turned her head as he did so. "You can look now," he told her with a hint of mischief in his voice.

Belle turned to look at him with the fluffy yellow towel wrapped around his waist. He was god like and she knew she was staring but couldn't help it. He was perfectly tanned. She expected him to have a farmers tan because he was always in the hot sun wearing his jersey, but he was far from it. From his hardened pectorals to his well defined six pack, that alone was enough to make her heart skip a beat, but then her eyes surveyed his arms. They were muscular but not overly so. The barbed wire tattoo perfectly highlighted his bicep and added to his tremendous sex appeal. Forcing herself to look him in the eyes, just in case he was clueless and couldn't see her staring at him, their eyes locked and she felt her knees buckle. They were deep and intense, consuming her in a way they had never done before. There was something different in the way he gazed at her tonight. It was new and exciting, she couldn't help but think it was love. Quickly shaking off that idea, she smiled.

"Are you feeling any better?"

"A little. Thanks."

"Well, let me go take these downstairs."

"Let me," he offered grabbing his wet clothing. Shawn followed Belle down the stairs to the basement where the washer and dryer were located. He dumped his clothes inside and set the timer.

"Um ... we can ... go back upstairs. Do you want some tea or something? Or maybe I can find some oversized shirt you can wear or um..." she rambled nervously. "Maybe you want to talk or just maybe lie down, I mean I just..."

"Shh," he silenced her placing a finger on her lips. "Why are you so nervous?" he asked softly. He took both of her hands in his and held them gently.

"I don't know. I mean, I'm not too sure why you're here and you looked so upset when you got here and now you seem ok."

"That's because you made me feel better," he said softly, his fingers touching her cheek gently. "I knew I wouldn't be able to get through this night without you."

"What happened? Is it Isaac? Did he try to start something else?" she asked growing upset at the situation.

"You're so wonderful, you know that?" he said gazing in her tranquil blue eyes adoringly.

"Shawn, please tell me," she begged.

After a moment, Shawn confessed. "I kicked Isaac out," he reported solemnly.

"Oh sweetie," Belle whispered and pulled him in for a hug. He melted into her arms, savoring the feel of her small body molding to his. She made him feel safe, as if everything bad would just disappear with her holding him.

"You know, I was always taught to be there for my family no matter what. But I just can't do this anymore. I tried. I really did."

"I know Shawn," she said in a soothing voice. Her fingers slowly combed through the damp hairs at the nape. Her other hand moved up and down his strong back to comfort him. "Baby I know you did."

"He was trying to ruin me. He wanted to ruin us."

"Well, he would have never succeeded."

Shawn pulled back slightly to look at her. Amazed by her words. "You really believe that don't you?"

"Don't you?" she asked in returned.

"I believe it when you say it. Come here," he said, cupping her face gently he guided her to him. He captured her lips with his own for a kiss which quickly deepened. Holding her close, they kissed for what seemed like an eternity. Their hands roaming and journeying, becoming more bold with their actions.

Shawn's hands skirted along the hem of her shirt, slipping underneath to feel the smoothness of her skin against the ruggedness of his hands. His fingers played along the edge of her bra, soon cupping one breast in his hand. Belle sighed in response and Shawn's lips soon traveled down to her neck, kissing her softly. He had never tasted anything so sweet or felt anything more perfect. Soon, he lifted her shirt over her head, tossing onto the lid of the washing machine. His brown gaze met her blue eyes, looking for any hint of hesitation or discomfort. Kissing her softly on the lips, he traveled down to her chin and to her neck with gentle nibbles and nips that left her weak. Down to her collarbone, he briefly glanced at her perfect mounds covered in a pink satin bra. He took a helping of her through the material, sucking on her gently she moaned his name, encouraging him to continue.

Her fingers swept through his hair urging him to continue until the loud buzzer of the dryer pealed through the basement, bringing an abrupt halt to their actions.

Startled by the sound, Shawn dropped his head on Belle's shoulder as if in defeat. "It must be a sign. I guess this really isn't the right time."

"I guess, although I don't think someone agrees with you," she said glancing down at the tented towel, wrapped around his waist.

"You'll never have to question if I find you desirable," he said flashing her a sexy smirk.

"I suppose so," she smiled. "I'll see you back upstairs. I think we both need to cool off."

"Yeah, it's going to take me a while," he grinned somewhat proudly.

"I'll be waiting," Belle said with a bright smile. Grabbing her shirt, she made her way back upstairs.

Shawn watched the way she sauntered away. At that moment, he knew he would always fight to keep her in his life, no matter who or what got in the way.

Chapter 15:

Sitting in her office reviewing a few items before the game was scheduled to start in another hour, Belle's thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the sound of the intercom buzzing.

"Greg Mitchell from Baseball magazine is here, Ms. Black," her assistant Tracy buzzed.

Glancing at her clock she realized he was early, but welcomed the break. "Send him in."

Seconds later, Greg walked in with a charming smile. He walked up to Belle, extending his hand to her. Belle soon took it, shaking it quickly yet firmly. "Ms. Black, it is indeed a pleasure."

"Likewise," she smiled and gestured towards one of the chairs in front of her desk. "Please, have a seat," she offered as she sat down in her leather office chair.

Making himself comfortable, Greg was quick to explain his reason for arriving early. "I apologize for coming so early without any notice. I arrived into town earlier than planned and instead of hanging around my hotel room for an hour I thought I'd come by here and try my luck at getting a look around before the game starts."

"Anything in particular you want to see? Any particular people you want to talk to? I know the focus of your story is on Shawn Brady."

"You're right. Mr. Brady is indeed the focus. He has adjusted better than anyone probably expected. He had quite a reputation before, he seems to have mellowed out. Any idea why?" he asked curiously, revealing a pen and small notebook.

"Is this an interview?"

"I was hoping I could at least get a comment from the owner," he said with a sly grin.

"Well, my only comment is that Mr. Brady has proven everyone wrong because he has a passion for this game and a desire to do well. He does not want to jeopardize this and he has learned from his mistakes."

"Spoken like a true owner," Greg said jokingly. "Now do you suppose it's possible for me to see the team and speak with the coaching staff?"

"Not before the game. It's a strict policy we have here. No press before game time, but what I can do is take you around the park, introduce you to the people who work behind the scenes I know we're only a minor league team but there is quite a bit of fascinating history with this place. I think you'll find we're rather unique. Afterwards, we'll go to the skybox to watch the game. It should be a good one, we're playing the Dragons, last year's division champions. We haven't won against them in nine years."

"I know. And I also know you're team has the best chance they've had in a long time of going toe to toe with them."
__________
After an extensive tour of the stadium, Belle escorted Greg to the skybox to watch the game. The Hawks had taken the field, and Belle's eyes immediately followed Shawn as he took his position in the infield. No matter how many times she saw him in his uniform she just could not stop staring. He always rolled up his sleeves so they were snug against his arms. He once told Belle he did it because that's how he had always done it, he claimed since little league, but Belle had a feeling Shawn's main reason was to make her and every woman's heart flutter at the sight of his rippling biceps flexing as he played. Whatever the reason, it was really against policy. Vince hated it. He liked all of his players looking the same, but Belle sort of coerced him into the compromise.

"They look good out there," Greg commented as the players warmed up.

"He sure does," Belle replied dreamily, then quickly caught herself. "Yes, they ...they do look good," she emphasized, trying her best to cover her slip up.

"You love him don't you?"

"Excuse me?" Belle asked astonished.

"You love this don't you?" Greg repeated, taken aback by Belle's tone of surprise at the question.

Belle sighed gratefully, realizing she misheard Greg initially. "What makes you ask that?"

"I see that look in your eyes, like this really gets you fueled. It could be the game or being the owner and all that's involved in it, but I can tell you enjoy this."

"Thanks. I take that as a compliment. I must admit, in the beginning I wasn't sure how I was going to deal with this team. I loved coming to games when I was a child, when I visited my grandparents. Then the excitement faded as I grew older, but now that I'm the owner and I've had a chance to really try and build on my grandfather's legacy, I guess I do love this. A lot has been moving in the right direction," she smiled.

"Do you care to expand on that any further?"

"I think I've shared enough about the professional."

"What about the personal?" he asked curiously.

"It will remain personal," Belle answered.

Greg smiled to himself as he continued to look out on the field. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Belle staring out at her team and without trying to be too intrusive he was hoping to see a hint of any truth to the mysterious phone call he received a little over two weeks ago. An anonymous caller tipped him that Belle and Shawn were involved in a secret romance.

Greg definitely had a hidden agenda while he was working on his feature on Shawn.

During the game, Greg made a point of watching Belle whenever Shawn was at bat or her reaction after he made a play in the infield, which there were quite a few. Greg wondered if there really was anything going on, he rationalized that if there was Belle had a very good poker face. Whatever emotion she showed was not unique just to Shawn but to the whole team, but he couldn't help but think there was more to the tip he had previously received.
__________
Belle escorted Greg into the locker room, abuzz with activity after the Hawks huge victory over the Dragons, 5-1. Not phased by the sight of some of the players wearing very little, Belle congratulated the team on their success and introduced Greg to Vince and some of the coaching staff before taking him to Shawn.

"Shawn," Belle called his name happily. He was getting himself undressed when she and Greg approached him, and he turned around wearing only his baseball pants. It took a lot of will power on Belle's part to continue to hide her attraction for Shawn at the sight of his chiseled frame. The gold cross hung from his neck, settled on his breastbone, glistening off his tanned chest. His thick brown hair was unruly, she could tell he had been recently trying to rid himself of the typical hat head he usually had after a game.

"Hey boss," he said seriously as he looked at Greg. "Who's this?" he asked gruffly.

"Shawn this is Greg Mitchell from Baseball magazine."

"It's good to meet you Shawn," Greg said as they shook hands.

"Yeah. Well, um... how long do you need for this interview?"

"Half an hour if you can spare it."

"Sure. Give me a few minutes. I need to hit the showers first, but just hang out here for a little," he told him in a rather indifferent tone.

"Well, I'll leave you two," Belle smiled. "Greg it was good meeting you. You're in good hands here."

"Thank you. It was a pleasure Belle."

Shifting her attention to Shawn who clearly had a problem with the way Greg was looking at her she gave him a reassuring smile. "Shawn, congrats on a good game. I hope you plan on celebrating with the team tonight."

"I may go out for a drink," he smirked.

"Don't get too carried away," she said with a light laugh.

"Never do boss. Anyway, I'll catch you later. Greg I'll be with you in a minute." He told him and walked off, heading towards the shower.
__________
Mulligans Bar and Grill was packed with most of the players from the team and a number of the people of the town there to celebrate with them.

"Shawn, I must say I like this new side of you buddy," Jason commented.

"Why is that Jason?"

"Because you no longer have that stick shoved up your ass. I mean, it's been how many months? We started practice in February and now it's July and this is the first time you've ever gone out with us."

"Let's just say I've learned to appreciate being on this team."

"It's all those talks you've been having with purty Miss Belle, isn't it?" he asked in his thick Texan drawl.

"What are you talking about?" Shawn asked curiously.

"You know all them times she's called you up to her office. Keeping you in line. I tell you that boss of ours is one of the most gorgeous creatures to walk on God's green earth, but she is all business and could persuade a dog to love a cat, let me tell you. I reckon she tamed you good."

"She's set me straight a few times," Shawn chuckled. His comment had a deeper meaning only Shawn knew, and he smirked at the thought of how true Jason's statement really was.

"I wish she'd set me straight. Steer me straight like a wild buck," Jason laughed.

"Well she isn't having any of that with any of us wild boys," Shawn joked, knowing otherwise.

"I don't know. Looks like she's got a wild streak of her own," Jason commented as he saw Belle walk into the crowded bar. Greeting the other players with a warm smile and joking along with them she made her way through the crowd.

Shawn kept his eyes on her as she walked towards the table he and Jason were occupying. He was mesmerized by how at ease she was with the players, laughing with them like she was one of the guys. There was always something coming up that made him fall even harder for her and this was one of those moments.

"Jason, Shawn," Belle said as she reached their table. "Good to see you both. Having a good time?"

"We are now, boss," Shawn smirked.

"Miss Belle can I get you a drink?" Jason asked as he stood up from his seat. "I think they've got wine or whatever you classy ladies drink."

"Whatever's on tap is fine with me," Belle smiled.

"My kind of woman!" Jason exclaimed enthusiastically. "I'll be back in a sec." Jason immediately got up and soon disappeared into the sea of people surrounding the bar.

Belle had a seat at the table, sitting across from Shawn. "I see you understood my cryptic message," she teased.

"Oh about celebrating with the team?" Shawn questioned. "Yeah, I realized what you were trying to say, but um..." he moved closer and added in a low voice, "I rather be alone with you."

"Later," she said with a wink. "I promise."

"You better. I'm going through withdrawal."

"Don't worry I am, too. So how'd the interview go?"

"I didn't hit him and he didn't run into a door if that's what you're asking," he responded mischievously.

Belle laughed in response. "I'm glad to hear it."

"Here you go Miss Belle," Jason said, placing the glass of beer in front of her. Finding a nearby chair he pulled it up to the small table, Belle scooted a little closer to Shawn to make room for Jason. Their close proximity to each other only increased the tension and made a day of hiding their feelings for one another even more difficult as they tried to relax together in the popular bar. Neither could wait to escape off to their special rendezvous spot, but in order not to appear conspicuous they stuck it out, listening to Jason ramble.

As they listened to Jason's animated tale, neither were aware of the pair of dark eyes at the bar, keeping a close eye on the two of them.

Over an hour later Belle left the bar, disappointing Jason greatly. Twenty minutes after that, Shawn called it a night. As he sped out of the parking lot, heading towards the spot where he knew Belle would be waiting for him, Isaac walked out of the bar. Pulling out his phone he quickly dialed a number on the slip of paper he had.

"Mr. Mitchell, if you really want a story go to the lake. I'll meet you there in fifteen minutes," Isaac told him and hung up his phone before Greg could respond. Pulling out his trusty lighter and grabbing the cigarette he had tucked behind his ear, he quickly lit it and took a long drag from the cigarette. Letting out a slow stream of smoke escape his lips, he muttered, "you're going to get it now Shawn."

"Oh I don't think so partner," Jason responded from behind. "You're not causing any problems for my buddy tonight."
Last edited by ..JJ on November 6th, 2004, 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

October 24th, 2004, 5:02 pm #7

A Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC17.
Chapters 16 - 20

Chapter 16:

Jason approached Isaac, the stern look on his face grew more intense as he got closer to him. The cowboy hat he wore was tipped downward, covering his eyes to create a look of intimidation which instantly worked on Isaac, though he tried his best to not appear alarmed.

"What are you talking about?" Isaac asked angrily.

"I'm saying you ain't causing any problems for my pal Shawn."

"Your pal?" Isaac asked skeptically. "Shawn has no pals."

"That was true once. Then Miss Belle came into his life," he stated as a matter of fact.

"You know?" Isaac asked full of surprise.

"Hell, I ain't blind! The two of them have been sneaking around thinking nobody knows, but I know. A couple of us know. It's kind of obvious. Nobody gets called to the owner's office that much," he said clearly amused by the situation.

"I can't believe you're fine with this!"

"Why wouldn't I be?" he asked. Standing close to Isaac he tipped his hat upward, revealing his penetrating gaze. "Important question is, why aren't you fine with it?" he asked, his tone growing more serious. "Who the hell are you anyway?"

"Don't you worry about it. It's none of your business," Isaac responded gruffly and began to walk away.

Jason planted his hand onto Isaac chest firmly to stop him. "I'm making it my business," he said in a firm tone.



Philip drove into the parking lot of the popular bar and grill and soon hopped out of his car. Walking towards the building he saw the familiar cowboy hat of his teammate and buddy. As he approached he could see the defensive stance Jason had taken with his hand up to stop the stranger he was with.

"Jase? What's going on man?" Philip asked curiously as he approached the two. "Who's this guy?"

"That's what I'm trying to figure out. He's trying to cause some problems with Shawn and Miss Belle," Jason replied flatly. He kept his intense stare on Isaac, never flinching once.

"Now why would you want to do that buddy?" Philip asked. His tone was purposefully condescending.

"I'm certainly not your buddy," Isaac snapped.

"We agree on something," Philip mumbled.

"Ok, well this has been real," Isaac stated and tried to leave once again only to be blocked by Philip. He turned back around and Jason was there. "You two are starting to piss me off."

"Feeling's mutual," Jason agreed. "We want some explanations."

"I have no intention of talking to you."

"I think you better revisit that decision," Philip suggested. Moving closer to Isaac, he and Jason began to back Isaac against the outside wall of the bar.

Out of desperation, Isaac swung wildly, missing both Jason and Philip. Neither were too sure who exactly was the intended target, but it didn't matter, Isaac did not come close to either one. He grew more panicked as Jason and Philip didn't seem to be backing away from him.

"I think we need to have a talk," Philip said seriously.

"I have nothing to say."

"Yeah, you do," Jason replied seriously. "We're going for a little ride."

"You've got to be out of your mind!"

"Am I out of my mind Phil?" Jason asked, looking at Philip with surprise.

"Yeah maybe," Philip responded.

"Works for me," Jason shrugged and grabbed Isaac by the arm. "Come on partner, you've got some explaining to do."
__________
Shawn laid down on the blanket spread out on the grass of their special place atop a hill overlooking the city. He held Belle close to him as she lay on top of him, straddling his body. Kissing each other passionately, Belle fingers swept wildly through his thick brown locks as she kissed him deeply. Feeling his rugged hands skirting along the edge of her shirt, his fingers caressed her smooth skin causing her body to tingle all over. Shawn pushed himself up, never breaking the kiss. Sitting up together, he wrapped one arm around her waist and touched her cheek gently with the other. Their lips parted for want of air, and Shawn was quick to pay her neck an ample amount of attention. Planting open mouthed kisses along her soft skin, Belle sighed happily, tilting her head to the side to give him better access.

"Go away with me," he muttered. He continued to kiss her sweetly, tasting her and savoring everything about her.

"Anywhere," she whispered without thought. Whatever he suggested she would not be able to say no to him. Not now. Not when he made her feel so complete; so wanted and desired.

Surprised by her willingness, he came to a slow stop and looked at her with the deepest gaze that penetrated her very soul. His eyes searched for any sign of doubt. Capturing a few strands of her golden hair between his fingers, he slowly stroked her silky hair. "Really?"

"Is it a place where we'll be alone?" Her eyes widened with excitement at the mere thought.

"Definitely," he smirked. For a moment he looked at her. No words spoken, but yet they said so much with their gaze and the gentleness of their caresses. Shawn felt reassured in the decision he had made.

"I want you Belle. I want to be with you, but I don't want to rush you into anything."

"Shawn trust me you're not rushing me. Far from it. You've been so amazing with me and patient and extremely willing to compromise when I've been so unsure about what I want. All of that has just made me fall for you in a way that I've never fallen for a man before."

"You're just an amazing woman. I'll do everything I can to keep you happy."

"You make me happy Shawn. Deliriously happy. So where are we going?" she asked with childlike curiosity.

Shawn chuckled in response and gave her a quick peck on the nose. "You're so adorable," he grinned and kissed her neck softly.

"And you," she giggled as she pulled away from him, "are stalling. Tell me where we're going."

"Cabo San Lucas," he replied smugly.

"Mexico?" she asked surprised.

"Yeah," he grinned.

"We can't go to Mexico Shawn. We don't have any time to..."

"Shh," he quickly silenced her protest with a soft kiss. "We're on an all-star break. I'm ineligible to play so I've got three free days. I want to spend them with you."

"I don't know Shawn."

"Spa and resort. Our own private room, a balcony overlooking the Pacific. Our own private Jacuzzi. Room service. We'd never have to leave," he said with a sexy smirk. Gently brushing her hair with his fingertips, he captured a few strands becoming mesmerized by the way the light strands both looked and felt in between his fingers. In a reassuring voice he added, "no pressure. Even if we don't ... make love, we'll still have fun together in one of the most beautiful places. Say yes. You know you want to," he said with a mischievous grin.

Belle thought for a moment. Looking at Shawn and how his deep gaze urged her to say yes. She trusted him and believed every word he said. The fact that he said he'd wait made her realize how lucky she was to have this man in her life to fall madly in love with and though the words had never been said she could tell by his gaze he felt the same way.

"When do we leave?" Belle asked with a bright smile.

He kissed her eagerly. "You won't regret this I promise."

"I know I won't Shawn. Now when are we leaving so I can pack!" she giggled as he kissed her again, unable to hide his happiness.

"Tomorrow. A private jet will be waiting for us."

"A private jet?" she asked surprised.

"Why do you sound surprised? I've been making a major league player's salary for five years. I can afford this," he assured. "Besides, I want only the best for you. We can leave whenever you want but remember, the earlier we leave the sooner we get to paradise."

Chapter 17:

"Oh Shawn this is gorgeous!" Belle beamed. Eagerly exploring their suite for the next couple days, she was like a kid in a candy store, her eyes widening as she discovered all the wonderful amenities of their room. Practically skipping back to Shawn she grabbed his hands and dragged him along with her out to the balcony. The ocean view was breathtaking and she sighed happily as Shawn slipped his arms around her waist. Relaxing in his strong embrace, Belle sank closely to him, her body molding next to his.

"I love this. Being able to hold you ... to kiss you," he said, softly planting his lips on her temple, "and not hide."

"Is that why you kissed me in the lobby?" Belle asked, amused as she remembered his playfulness when they checked in.

"Partly." He turned her around in his arms, looking at her with the sexiest smirk she had ever seen him display. "But mostly because I find you so damn irresistible." Taking her hands in his he leaned in closer, kissing her long and hard. "Let's go."

"Go? Go where?" Belle asked surprised he wanted to leave.

"To take in the sights."

"What happened to ... staying in?" she asked seductively. Her lips traveled along his rugged jaw line, nibbling his skin covered in light stubble. Tasting him, seducing him, she became lost in his strength and power, loving more and more the man he was and would always be to her.

"Hmm..." he groaned almost immediately regretting his decision. "Later," he managed to say in a low moan.

"You don't sound so sure," she replied, continuing to kiss him. Her fingers journeyed slowly up his bare arms, savoring the feel of his taut muscles under her fingertips.

"I am sure. We're on vacation, we should at least see the sights for at least a few hours," he grinned mischievously. "Come on," he urged once again and took her by the hand, leading her out of the suite.

"You know this is too short to be called a vacation," Belle said in a matter of fact tone as they rode the elevator down.

"Then what would you call it? I've never really been on a vacation before."

"A tryst maybe," she said teasingly.

"Interesting choice of words," he stated indifferently. "But aren't trysts supposed to be romantic getaways for lovers?"

"Yes," she said in a voice laced with seduction. "And isn't that your reason for whisking me away to this gorgeous place?"

"That obvious?" he asked jokingly.

"Yeah," she replied slyly. "You're not that slick."
__________
Belle was practically hyperventilating, and frantically wiped her eyes unable to stop her giggles that evolved into uncontrollable laughter.

"Alright Belle," Shawn told her seriously. "It's really not that funny. I never claimed to be fluent in Spanish."

Gasping for air, Belle tried to speak but couldn't quite get the words to form as she thought back to Shawn trying to haggle with a woman in a nearby market. Walking back to the resort hand in hand Belle's laughter began to dissipate as they entered the outdoor café.

"Why'd you let me embarrass myself like that?" he asked bitterly.

"Because you were so determined to impress me," she mused. Her giggles started to resurface as she remembered how only minutes ago Shawn thought his bargaining skills were so sharp that he was talking the shop owner down to a lower price, when in fact he was unknowingly raising the price. In the end paying twice as much as the original price.

Feeling a blow to his ego, Shawn slumped down in the chair at the small table they found in the outdoor eatery. Belle touched his thigh, giving him a gentle, comforting squeeze. She rested her head on his shoulder and spoke softly. "I'm sorry."

"No don't be," he said and after a brief moment Belle could detect the sound of a chuckle starting to erupt.

"Is that a laugh I hear?" she asked innocently.

"Yeah," he said, allowing himself to laugh at the situation.

"Now can I get my gift?" she asked anxiously.

Shawn reached into his pocket and revealed the small white gift box. He placed it on the table and Belle quickly lifted the lid to familiarize herself with the blue topaz earrings and matching necklace she instantly fell in love with the moment she saw them. Shawn was so eager to get it for her he didn't realize his bargaining skills were so rusty. Belle's eyes widened in amazement as she looked at the beautiful jewelry.

"The look on your face is priceless," Shawn grinned happily. Picking up the necklace, Belle turned her back to him, quickly lifting her hair up as Shawn slipped it around her neck. Fastening the clasp, he then placed a soft kiss on her neck. "Let's have a look."

Belle let her hair fall back down gracefully on her shoulders. Looking down at the blue topaz pendant, she sighed happily and turned to look at Shawn. "I love it."

"It looks beautiful. Brings out your eyes."

"Thank you Shawn," she said with a sweet smile and kissed him tenderly to further thank him.

"You're so welcome," he said kissing her in return. His lips lingered on hers for a moment, tenderly locking with hers. Hearing the sound of their waiter clearing his throat to get their attention, their lips parted with a quick peck before facing the older gentleman.

"I apologize. Can I get anything for you two?" he asked with a thick Mexican accent. Shawn was relieved he wouldn't have to embarrass himself further with only his high school Spanish to fall back on.

Belle kept an adoring gaze on Shawn, noticing the relief on his face she let out a soft giggle. Leaning closer to him she whispered in his ear, "maybe you can dazzle him with your Spanish," she suggested teasingly.

Narrowing his eyes on her, Shawn tried to act annoyed by the comment. "You're going to get it tonight," he growled.

"That's what I'm hoping for," she replied in a throaty voice, catching Shawn off guard by the obvious seductive tone.

"Ahem," the waiter cleared his throat once again. With a genteel smile he looked at the two. "Would you like me to come back?" he asked in a friendly manner.

"We might as well order now," Shawn grinned. "We still won't be ready if you come back." He picked up the menu and glanced at it briefly. Belle rested her chin on his shoulder, with one hand resting on his knee, the other slowly rubbing the small of his back as she looked at the menu with him. They quickly made a decision, almost arbitrarily picking items on the menu.

The waiter wrote down the order and as he collected the menu his smile grew with more warmth. "Are you two newlyweds?"

Belle's cheeks quickly reddened. "No, we're not."

"Engaged?" the waiter asked curiously. His jovial smile was so warm and friendly, that neither Belle nor Shawn were bothered by his questions.

"Um... no," Shawn replied. "Just dating," he said then glanced at Belle with a loving gaze. "And finally giving ourselves the chance to show how much we feel about each other," he continued.

Belle sighed happily at his response and moved even closer to him, circling her arms around his body, he put an arm around her shoulder and kissed her head softly.

"I will put in your order. Your margaritas will be ready shortly," he smiled and began to walk away. His grin never faded after seeing the two. "Ah...amor," he happily sighed.

After the waiter left them alone, they sat in silence for a moment, the two of them getting over their own shock of the assumption they were more committed to each other than they actually were.

"I guess this is a popular place for a honeymoon," Shawn stated. "I never thought about it when I made the reservation."

"I didn't think about it until he said something," Belle responded. "But it's also a wonderful place just to relax and be with the one you... you care about," she said, really wanting to say love, but wasn't really sure if either one was ready to say those words.

"Yeah," he replied with a tone and a look that told Belle he knew what she was thinking. Indicating to her he felt the same way and was unsure if he should say the L word. "So, um ... what do you want to do after dinner? I'm thinking we could take a walk on the beach before heading back to the room for... you know... whatever happens," he said with a smirk filled with both mischief and a lot of sexiness Belle could not resist.

Her hand continued to creep up his thigh, touching casually yet sensually at the same time. There was a sense of familiarity as if she were accustomed to doing so. Brushing her lips against his ear for a tantalizing kiss her smile widened. "Whatever?" she asked in a husky voice. "Like... seduction?"

"I'm up for that."

"I bet you are. And whose taking care of this... seduction?" she asked in the same breathy voice against his ear.

"I figure we can both participate." Tilting his head back, he captured her lips with his own. "It'll make the night more exciting." With a devilish grin and a playful wink, he swept his fingers through her hair and brought her closer for a toe curling kiss. "How's that sound?" he asked huskily before claiming her mouth once more. As Belle passionately kissed him in return he received his answer.

Tonight was going to be a beautiful evening.

Chapter 18: NC-17

"Shawn, you really don't have to carry me," Belle said in a light protest. She was growing embarrassed as Shawn carried her through the lobby.

"I don't want you putting any weight on your ankle," he told her seriously. "We don't know if you sprained it."

"Shawn I'm fine. I just twisted it. I wasn't looking where I was going," she argued. "I swear I'm fine."

No matter how much she protested, Shawn's mind was made up. On their way back after their romantic stroll on the beach, Belle had made a misstep on a gravely path and twisted her ankle slightly. She knew she would be ok, Shawn on the other hand was not taking any chances.

Carrying her into their suite, he quickly took her into the bedroom and gently laid her down on the four-post king size bed. Sitting on the edge of the bed he slipped off her shoes and paid immediate attention to her left ankle.

"Does this hurt?" he asked full of concern. His fingers gently touched her ankle, rubbing it soothingly. He applied a little pressure to see how sensitive it really was. Seeing Belle wince slightly as he applied a little more pressure he received his answer. "How much does it hurt?"

"Not too much. Seriously Shawn I'm fine. I was just clumsy. I'll be ok."

"Well, I don't think it's sprained," he concluded. "And it's not really swelling," he stated in a matter of fact tone as if he were giving her an examination. He looked at her seriously, "But I should get some ice just in case it does."

"Shawn please. You're making a big deal out of nothing. You shouldn't worry about me so much."

He jumped off the bed in response. "I shouldn't worry about you?" he asked surprised she would or even could say such a thing to him.

"Well...yeah, it's just a silly thing I did. You're making a big deal out of nothing."

Shawn kneeled down next to the bed to be eye level with Belle. "I want to worry about you," he said softly. "I want to always know you're ok and make sure you're happy."

Belle looked at him in wonder, touching his cheek gently she savored the feel of the light stubble against her fingertips. "How'd a tough guy like you ever get so sweet?" she asked with a wide eyed innocence Shawn found adorable.

He placed his lips softly on hers. "I fell in love," he whispered.

Belle looked at him in shock, surprised by his words. She was speechless. Even the typical response, I love you, too she had difficulty saying because she had a hard time figuring out if he was actually telling her he loved her. Her heart was screaming Yes he loves you! and her head insisted she not jump the gun and make the assumption.

Shawn gazed into Belle's eyes adoringly. Sensing her confusion, he touched her hair gently, his fingers playing with a few strands as he looked her lovingly. He soon traced along her face with his finger, stopping underneath her chin guiding her to him. Their lips met tenderly for a sweet kiss. With teasing nibbles and tantalizing nips, Shawn's gentle actions left Belle in a puddle. In his own way he was squashing her doubts and confirming what her heart was pleading her to believe.

Uncharacteristically, Belle let out a girlish giggle at the mere thought of being in love with this man who meant everything to her. "So tell me about this lucky lady," she requested playfully. Sliding down the bed she made room for Shawn and he soon made his way next to her. Laying next to each other, Shawn slowly started to run his hand along her arm, his callused hand leaving her skin electrified by his smooth caresses.

"Let's see, what can I tell you about this amazing woman," he began, keeping her eyes on hers. "She's absolutely perfect. One of those really classy ladies with so much smarts. So much style and sophistication, the complete opposite of me and my blue collar upbringing."

"I don't think you're that different, you just complement each other very well," she observed. "So, what else?" she asked curiously.

"Oh, she's the most beautiful woman God ever put on the face of this earth. From the moment I first saw her I knew she was meant to be with me."

"Yeah? Did she return the feeling?"

"I'm not too sure. See, she played hard to get for about two months and then I finally wore her down. I know she was attracted to me," he smirked. "I would always catch her giving me certain looks then she'd pretend she wasn't staring."

"Now what could she have possibly been staring at?" she asked teasingly.

"My ass mostly," he grinned.

Belle was instantly flushed and hit his arm playfully. "Shawn!"

"It's true," he chuckled. "Especially when I am in my uniform. I know she gets a thrill out of watching me play," he said with a knowing look.

"So now what?" she asked curiously.

"Now after about three months of sneaking around or dating, depending on your point of view, I realize that there isn't anything I wouldn't do for her. I know we're meant to be and that there is no other woman for me." He kissed her longingly. "I love you Belle," he said quietly and kissed her once again.

"I love you, too Shawn," she smiled. "So... tell me, how does the story end?"

"It's just beginning boss," he said with a mischievous grin before seizing her mouth with his own. He kissed her with great passion, getting lost in her beauty. Belle's fingers swept through his thick locks, keeping her close to him as she returned the desire of his kisses. As Shawn broke the kiss his lips were quick to find her neck, savoring her delicate skin, tasting her sweetness of which he could not get enough. His hands traveled down the length of her body and soon settled along the hem of the sundress she wore. Journeying along her thigh, his hand glided along her silky skin up to her flat stomach. He touched her gently and his lips sought hers once again as his hand continued to roam across her body; finding new ways to caress her, to entice her.

"Hmm... Shawn," she whimpered.

"Yes baby," he said huskily. "Tell me what you want."

"Don't stop."

"I'm not going to," he assured. His lips pressed against hers for a sultry kiss, leaving her body tingling with sensations, new ones mixed in with the old. He kissed her chin, then her neck, collarbone, making a straight line down her body. Kissing her body through the light material of her dress. He lifted one leg as he sat up, leaving a trail of kisses along her thigh, he soon reached her knee playfully biting the soft skin with sensual nips. He then slowly slid his tongue along her calf until finally planting a trail of open mouthed kisses along her leg down to her tender ankle. "How's your ankle?" he asked with concern.

"Good enough for me to wrap my legs around you," she replied with a saucy raise of her brow.

He slowly swirled his tongue along her ankle before closing his lips around it. "That's what I was hoping," he said as he lowered her leg.

Belle sat up with him. "That's what I was hoping, too," she replied in a throaty voice. Her fingers quickly found the hem of his tank and began to lift it up with a sense of urgency. He was eager to help her and in no time the shirt was tossed onto the floor. Belle sat there for a moment, admiring his strong physique before planting a soft kiss on his chest. Her lips lingered on his skin before continuing her light perusal of his body. She was in awe of him. His obvious strength and power, but the gentleness that accompanied it only few people knew even existed within him. She ran her tongue along his flat nipple, enjoying the sensation, the feel, the touch, the contrast of the surface to his smooth, taut body. His breath rasped in response and as she did the same to the other he thought he would lose all control. His senses were in a daze but he was able to feel her fingers starting to unbutton his shorts and he helped her once again. Shifting his body so he could kick them off, leaving him only in his boxers.

"Oh god baby," he groaned. His fingers tunneled through her golden hair, and guided her to face him. "You need to catch up," he smirked. He started to lift up her sundress. His actions were slow and deliberate and once he pulled it over her head, it soon joined his shirt on the floor. Much to his surprise she was not wearing a bra. Her perfect mounds were in clear view, her nipples hardened by arousal. Shawn looked at her as if she were a priceless piece of art, something to be admired and not touched. "Oh Belle," he called her name in a whisper, the words clinging to his breath. "You ... you are so ... perfect." His darkened gaze swept over her, memorizing every inch of her body. "It's like ... I shouldn't touch you."

"You should Shawn." Taking his hand in hers she brought him to her, resting his hand on her breast. "Touch me Shawn. I want you to. I need you to," she pleaded. He cupped her in his hand slowly as she kept her hand on his. "I need you to show me how much you love me."

He lowered her back down onto the bed. Keeping his hand on her breast, he kneaded her soft flesh slowly with his long, lean fingers. Expertly pinching and tugging. As his thumb flicked over her pert buds, Belle's body tingled all over and it became further electrified as Shawn took a helping of her. His tongue swirling around her nipple, making it harden further as he suckled it gently. In time, he paid the other an ample amount of attention.

Belle whimpered his name, her senses were dizzying as he showed her his love for her. Her fingers swept through his thick locks, her legs parted even wider as his body settled above hers. Making another journey down her body, he kissed her taut abdomen, his tongue dipping in the indentation of her belly button. His thumbs looped under the elastic of her satin panties, pulling them down he continued his kisses down her body. Her breath caught as he kissed her softly on her most intimate area. His tongue dipped inside the moist folds casually, leaving her gasping for air. She tugged on his short hairs to find some strength, some support as her soul went shattering into a million pieces. All of her senses blurred into one, there was no distinction between taste and touch, sight, hearing, and smell. All five existed as one; as Shawn.

Crying out his name in a sound of sheer ecstasy, Belle had never felt anything so powerful surge through her body. It was pure bliss and rapture, both coexisting in splendor and yet she knew he had more in store for her.

For a moment she felt cold, alone and when she opened her eyes she saw Shawn frantically rummaging through his bag. In seconds he revealed the box of condoms he had packed and removed a package as he walked back to her. He stood by the bed, his boxers tented from his throbbing erection and he was quick to pull them off. He saw the flare in Belle's eyes as she took in the sight of him and he couldn't hide the proud smirk on his face. He tore into the package with his teeth then stopped when he felt Belle reach out to him.

"Let me," she said, taking it from him. She sat up on the bed, her fingers circling him, stroking him slowly.

"I'm going to lose it if you keep it up," Shawn groaned. With a seductive smile she looked at him and rolled the condom down him. He cupped her face in both hands and tilted her head up before crashing his lips down on hers. Their tongues met quickly and fervently in a wild tango. Shawn lowered himself down back onto the bed, his body soon pressed on top of hers. Bare chest to bare chest, he couldn't believe this was about to happen. Belle spread her legs wider to accommodate his body as Shawn further settled above her.

Their eyes locked in a deep gaze as Shawn entered her slowly, by inches he savored every moment of her body encasing him. He kissed her sweetly, drinking her with tiny sips.

Belle's hands roamed along Shawn's strong back, her fingers caressing down the middle along his spine. Wrapping her legs tightly around him she urged him to stay close to her as they connected as one. He kissed her neck softly, whispering words of love as he thrust deep inside her. Feeling her small hands on his back and hearing the way she called out his name sent him teetering on the edge. He could feel her tightening around him, clenching as she came close to her own climax. He gritted his teeth trying to hold back his own release until she was closer.

"We're almost there baby," he moaned.

With one last thrust they both went over the edge. Both crying out each other's names as if no other words existed.



Belle lay in Shawn's arms, her head resting on his strong chest. Eventually lulled to sleep by the sound of his heart beating she rested comfortably, feeling a sense of peace that was very new to her. Shawn couldn't keep her eyes off of her. He loved everything about her, about this magical night, and about this moment. The way her body molded next to his, the feel of her legs intertwined with his under the sheets. He gently pushed back a few strands of her hair back, smoothing them behind her ear to see her face more clearly. He wanted to savor everything about this moment. Kissing her head gently, his lips lingered against the silky golden locks and he thought back to the story he told her only hours ago of their relationship during their playful banter.

"Our story is just beginning angel. I love you," he whispered as he closed his eyes and soon drifted off to sleep.

Chapter 19:

The next two days Shawn and Belle made the most of their time in Cabo San Lucas. They would have lazy mornings in bed, loving each other, exploring and learning about every inch of each other's bodies. During their afternoons they would leave the suite and explore the resort and spend time on the beach. Any and every secluded place that existed they found in those couple of days, not limiting their lovemaking to the confines of the suite. It was escapism at its best and now as they sat together on the private jet Shawn had chartered neither wanted to deal with the reality that in less than an hour they would have to continue on with the charade of pretending there was nothing between them. Now it would be even more challenging. Their relationship had progressed from sneaking around for kissing and heavy petting. They were in love. They were now lovers who were connected mind, body, and soul. Nothing would ever be the same after this.

Shawn and Belle slipped back into town undetected by anyone they knew. The reality of the situation was quick to hit them as they left the airport separately. Shawn reached his apartment and was quick to get himself settled. The sound of the telephone peeled through the apartment. He immediately thought it was Belle letting him know she had gotten home, but instead he was greeted by the sound of a loud whoop in a familiar southern twang.

"Shawn buddy I'm glad you're back in town!" Jason greeted.

"I just got back. Um... but you know what Jase, I just walked in the door and I'm a little tired. We'll catch up tomorrow at practice man."

"Normally I'd respect that but there's something we need to talk to you about. We can stop by your place."

"We?" Shawn asked confused.

"Yeah, me and Phil and uh... Isaac. A lot has happened over the last few days Shawn. We need to talk to you."

Shawn's face turned stone cold at Jason's words. Sinking down onto the couch, he ran his fingers through his hair and let out a loud sigh. "Come on over," he said in a tone void of any emotion and hung up. Almost immediately after hanging up, the phone rang once again. "What?" he asked bitterly.

"Honey what's wrong?" Belle asked with great concern.

Shawn took a deep breath to try to calm down. "I'm sorry I snapped. I just got some unexpected news that's all. So you're back home?" he asked trying to change the topic.

"A few minutes ago. Now tell me what's wrong?"

"It's fine Belle. Really. Don't worry," he insisted.

"Do you remember when I told you not to worry about me? Do you remember what you said? You told me you wanted to worry. Well I want to worry Shawn because I love you. So you either tell me now or I'm coming over."

He paused for a moment. "I just got a call from Jason. He and Philip are coming over ... with Isaac. I don't know how they know Isaac. I have no idea why they're coming over, but I'm pretty sure they know about us so you might as well come over here, too. I think I may need you here."
__________
Shawn opened the door to reveal Belle in his doorway. She quickly walked in and Shawn was quick to pull her into his arms for a tight embrace.

"You got here in record time. And you talk about me driving fast," he said jokingly as he released her from his strong hold.

"It sounded pretty serious. I wanted to be here for you ... to support you."

"Thank you." Cupping her face gently in his hands he gently brushed his lips across hers for a soft kiss. "I really appreciate you being here."

"Any idea what this is all about?"

"None. But if I had to guess, my brother has probably been running his mouth and spreading all sorts of lies about me. He's probably distorted the truth about us," he rationalized as he began to pace around out of frustration. Anger began to fill him at an alarming rate. "He just can't be happy for me! He can't be like a regular brother and want the best for me like I want for him! He's got to go twist it! And even when I throw him out of my life he finds a way to worm his way back in! Maybe I was just naïve or gullible or something but I didn't think anything could ever touch me again." He looked at Belle, his intense gaze becoming more soft and vulnerable. His strong steady gait began to slump as if he were giving up. "I've been playing the best ball of my life and the team is ready to take me back after this season. I actually get along with the guys on the team. But most importantly, I have you. After these last few days I thought for once everything in my life is going right, but..."

"Everything is Shawn. Obviously it won't all be roses but I love you and that's not going to change. I'll be here to stand by you when you need me. To be strong for you. Whatever you need so don't act like we can't get through this because we can and who knows maybe it's not bad. We don't know so we need to go into this with an open mind."

She touched his cheek gently and he leaned into her touch, holding her hand in place with his own. He tilted his head slightly to place a sweet kiss on her palm.

"You're right. Maybe they were able to work the miracle I could never make happen."
__________
The four men sat at the dining table. Shawn stared at Isaac as he sat across from him. The two brothers created enough tension in the room to make any of the others extremely uncomfortable. Belle watched in the background, silently offering her support to Shawn. Her mere presence calmed him tremendously allowing him to practice some restraint despite his obvious anger.

"So, let me get this straight," Shawn said in a tight voice. "You tipped off that reporter from the magazine about my relationship with Belle. You were hoping to expose us?" he half asked, half stated.

"Now Shawn," Jason quickly spoke up. "Buddy. It didn't work so there's no need to get too upset." Shawn cut his eyes towards Jason for a hard glare in response. Jason took a deep breath and exhaled loudly, taken aback by the coldness in his eyes. "Ok, you have a right to be upset but ... but Phil and I took care of it. That reporter, um... Greg I think his name was ... we sent him home with a false story."

"What kind of story?" Shawn asked.

Jason fidgeted a little in his seat, scratching his head he looked at Philip hoping he would bail him out. "Well ... you see, um..." he let out a nervous chuckle. "Ooh, uh ... it's the darnedest thing you see ... I uh ... it kind of slipped out ... um, I was fishing for something and ... and I kind of ... I ... I told him ... I thought ... that ... maybe ... you're ... gay." He quickly closed his eyes and flinched away expecting Shawn's fist to connect with his jaw at any second. Instead he heard a loud guffaw come from Belle. He slowly opened one eye to see Shawn staring at him in total surprise. Shock, not anger and he opened his other eye, beginning to relax only slightly.

Shawn stared at Jason, his jaw dropping at what he told him. He was stunned and hearing Belle snickering in the background really didn't help.

"But... but he's not going to print it. I swear," he added quickly.

"How come? I mean I'm glad, but why?" Shawn asked.

"One, he didn't believe me and two..."

"My Dad knows the editor," Philip interjected. "I made a call."

"Thanks you two. I appreciate it." He looked seriously at Isaac. "Do you see how much effort it takes to clean up your mess? Why would you do that Isaac? What would motivate you to be so hurtful against me? I'm your brother," he said. His voice began to tremble slightly from the feelings of hurt and betrayal he was experiencing. Soon he felt Belle touch his shoulder gently to offer him some reassurance.

"I'm not going to make excuses Shawn," Isaac told him seriously. "All I can say is these two were able to slap some sense into me. I realized that I've never been able to deal with Sandy's death especially because of Josh. It was easy for me to delude myself into thinking he wasn't mine, to push him on you and Mom like I've done with my responsibilities so many times before. It was easier to escape with drugs than deal with reality. But now I'm ready. I'm ready to go back to rehab. To finish out the program. It's the only way the courts will let me have custody of him. I've already lost two years I don't want to lose anymore. And I don't blame you if you don't believe me. Knowing my track record I can understand your skepticism but trust me on this Shawn."

Shawn looked at Jason and Philip and could see them endorsing what Isaac was telling him. With a quick glance to Belle she gave him a warm smile. Slowly he stood up and walked to Isaac who stood up as Shawn approached him.

Isaac looked him straight in the eyes. "I want to be a real father to Josh. A better son to Mom. I want to be a better brother to you. I do," he emphasized with extreme sincerity. Shawn placed a hand firmly on Isaac's shoulder and pulled him close for a hug.

"I'm proud of you Isaac," he said quietly.

"Don't be," Isaac said as they released each other. "All I've done is finally opened my eyes to what you've been trying to tell me all along. Fortunately, these two were able to get through to me."

"What did you two do?" Shawn asked curiously.

"We used our powers of persuasion," Jason responded diplomatically.

"Yeah, the cowboy here blasted his country music until Isaac couldn't take it anymore," Philip said with a chuckle.

Shawn laughed at the story, trying to imagine it and he laughed even harder.

"That was a small part of it," Jason defended. "Important thing is we got through to this knucklehead. And now you and Miss Belle can continue sneaking around in peace," he added with a knowing look.

"But I still don't get how you two figured out about us," Shawn said, putting a strong arm around Belle's shoulder he held her close to him as she glided her arm around his waist. It felt so good to both of them not to hide from everyone.

"Couple of things," Philip said. "One, the number of times you have been called to her office. Two, the looks. So we began to suspect something especially when your mood was improving."

"Yeah, only a woman could have put a smile like that on your face," Jason laughed. "After we suspected, we started paying close attention to the way you two interacted. It was kind of obvious to the two of us, but trust me no one else on the team knows about it. Your secret is very safe with us."
__________
Hours later Belle was helping Shawn clean up. The mess of pizza boxes and cans of soda filled the living room after Jason, Philip, and Isaac stayed for a while. It had been a long day. An unbelievable day, but one of the most important days. After Shawn took out the trash he walked back into the apartment to see Belle starting to get her keys out of her purse.

"You aren't staying?" Shawn asked surprised.

"Are you asking me to stay?"

"Just for a little while. But if you need to go I understand. I'll see you tomorrow."

"You're not too sure about Isaac are you?" she asked, sensing that he was a bit skeptical and the feeling was nagging him.

"I'm not. I want to be, but it's like I have to see it to believe it."

Tossing her keys on the table she walked to him, taking his hand in hers and led him to the couch. She was quick to snuggle next to him, feeling his arms encircle in a strong embrace. "It's true you have to wait, but now he's taking some ownership of his actions. Only time will tell, but I'll be here with you for as long as you want me to be."

Chapter 20:

The alarm clock was slammed with a heavy hand. Any chance of it recovering soon was slim to none. Feeling Belle stir next to him, Shawn entangled his legs with hers beneath the covers. Her thighs parted for the invasion of his muscular leg. The hairs of his leg tickled her smooth stems. She looped her arms around his chest. She loved him beyond reason and when she thought about last night and the last few weeks in particular, moments like this became more precious to her. Snuggling close to him, she was comforted by his magnificent strength. He smoothed the hair back from her cheeks with one hand. He burrowed his nose through her hair before placing his lips gently at the top of her head.

"Hmmm... morning," he said lazily.

Belle turned her head to look at him. She loved how he looked first thing in the morning. His thick brown locks sticking up in unkempt tufts. His face covered in heavy stubble. With sleepy eyes and a lazy grin plastered on his face, Belle was aware of the growing mischief brewing inside.

He leaned in, capturing her lips with his own for tiny, sipping kisses. He pulled her up so she lay on top of him. They continued to kiss each other with small kisses. Lips locking, slowly and continuously yet lovingly.

"Shawn," Belle muffled. They continued to kiss and she made no effort to stop. "Shawn, we ..." His tongue slipped inside her mouth. She moaned as he worked his magic. Kissing her slowly and deeply. For a moment she was lost in him, until she was able to regain her senses. She pushed herself off of him, abruptly breaking the kiss. Her protest didn't phase Shawn. He continued to keep her close but instead, concentrated on her neck. "Shawn we can't. I need to get up."

"No you don't," he mumbled against her flesh. "You're the boss."

"I have a meeting," she said in a partial whine knowing she probably wouldn't win this argument.

"Cancel it," he muttered.

"I ... ooohhhh," she moaned deeply. "But ... I ..."

He cupped her face and looked at her with a smug expression. "You know you can't resist me," he said, bobbing his eyebrows.

"You sound awfully sure of yourself."

"I should. If I was wrong, I'd still be pestering you to go out for drinks." His expression was now bordering on smugness and arrogance. He expected her to further challenge him.

"I only agreed to get you off my back," she replied slyly.

"Like you are now?" he asked. His smirk grew more cocky.

She shook her head slowly. "I don't know what I'm going to do with you."

"I have some ideas." Shawn continued to gaze into her eyes. A gleam of playfulness was quite evident in his brown orbs. "Now cancel your meeting." He touched her forehead and furrowed his brow, mocking an inquisitive expression. "Hmmm...I think you've got a fever."

Belle laughed lightly. "I'm not faking being sick. It's not exactly flu season. Besides, if I do, Jason will be over here making some home ready involving god only knows what."

Shawn chuckled in response knowing she had a point. "He sure does like his Miss Belle," he said in a southern accent.

"And... how do you feel about me?" she asked innocently, stretching her hands out on his pillow. Her lips brushed against his teasingly.

"Oh, you know how I feel about you boss lady." He grinned until surprise swept across his face as Belle crashed her lips down on his. He was quickly receptive, tightening his hold around her waist, their bodies were pressed against each other. "See I knew you couldn't resist my charm," he said as they rolled around on the bed together.

The day was just beginning.
__________
Belle canceled the meeting she had first thing in the morning. Big surprise. She rearranged her relatively light day. There were no questions asked. Boy did she love owning a baseball team. A far cry from the way she felt nearly six months ago.

Vince peaked his head in Belle's office. "Ms. Black do you have a moment?"

"Yes, Vince. Please come in. I'm so sorry for canceling earlier."

"That's perfectly alright." He walked inside, closing the door behind him and then took a seat in front of her desk.

"So, how are things Vince?"

"Ms. Black..."

"Vince really, I insist you call me Belle."

With a sigh and relenting smile, he conceded to her request. A request she had been making for months now. "Alright then, Belle, there really isn't any easy way for me to tell you this so I'm just going to come on out and say it. I'm retiring. This will be my last season with the Hawks."

Belle sat in her comfortable leather office chair looking at Vince, dumbfounded by the news. She knew there was no way she would have been as nearly as successful as she had been without his tremendous help and support. Slowly she leaned back in her seat, the look of surprise still very evident on her face.

"Vince, I don't know what to say. I'm surprised by this. You've been such a great person to work with, I know I wouldn't have made it without your guidance."

"You would have been able to hold your own, trust me. You're the best president and owner this team has ever had, next to your grandfather of course."

"Vince I'm only the second owner," she smiled.

He chuckled in response.

"But I appreciate it. Thank you." They shared a companionable silence for a moment before Belle spoke again. "I think you're too young to retire Vince," she said with a warm smile.

"Trust me, I am old enough." He spoke with a jovial laugh. "I've been with this team so long and now that it's doing so well, I don't know what else I can do. The team has been blessed in many ways. I don't think anyone expected us to survive after your grandfather passed away. He was the heart and soul of this team, but you came along and brought a new spirit. The icing on the cake was Shawn. He's raised the level of play on the team with his unabashed behavior and consequent leadership. Sort of a shame he'll be leaving in two months."

"It is a shame. I hadn't really thought about it." She hadn't. Deep in the recesses of her mind she knew Shawn would be leaving. His sentence was one season and then he'd go back to the parent team. Back to the majors. It really wasn't that far away. A few hours drive, but it was away. Over the months Belle and Shawn had never really talked about what would happen in the future.

"Belle?" Vince called. Shaking off her thoughts she focused on him. "Where'd you go?" he asked jokingly. "You seemed deep in thought there. I hope this news isn't upsetting you."

"Vince I'm not upset. I'm saddened to know you're leaving and honestly a little scared about finding a new manager."

"The right choice will present itself soon enough," he said confidently. "Just be patient."
__________
The stadium was quickly filling with patrons. It was a wonderful sight. It had been years since the Hawks had a sell out crowd and now folks in the small town wanted to spend their summer nights seeing what tricks Shawn had up his sleeve. He was a dynamic player with plays in the infield that made everyone's jaws drop. Now he was even more inspired and their was a focus he had never had before.

Belle walked into the locker room, seeing the team dressed and assembled before Vince came out to talk with them. She greeted the team with her signature smile and small talk. She knew little tidbits about all of them and she charmed them all, teasing, encouraging, whatever to help them get ready for the ensuing game. She held a small bag, and once she reached Shawn she handed it to him.

"I didn't know we were exchanging gifts," Shawn said with a sly grin.

"Far from it. This arrived today. It's a little early but I thought you'd like it now."

He looked in the bag and removed a small jersey. It was toddler sized with 'BRADY' written in bold letters across the back with a bold '5' underneath. His eyes widened with excitement.

"Is this for Josh?"

"It's a few days early, but he can wear it when he and your Mom come to visit next week."

"Thanks for doing this," he said quietly. Their eyes locked for a moment until they were interrupted by Vince rallying the team together.

"Alright guys let's gather round." Vince began and followed with his usual pep talk to fire up the team for the game. As he finished the team rushed out of the locker room out to the field.

With the room emptying, Belle started to walk out when she was held back by Shawn grabbing her arm gently. She turned to face him, knowing exactly what he was thinking, what he wanted to say, and what he wanted to do.

"Is something wrong Shawn?" she asked with a bright smile.

"I didn't thank you," he said huskily.

"Actually you did."

He shook his head. "No. Actually I didn't." He cupped her face and kissed her quickly yet soundly. "Thanks for doing this." He kissed her quickly once again. "I love you," he whispered.

"I know," she smiled. "Now, you should get going."

"Walk with me," he requested. He put the small jersey in his locker and walked out with Belle. "So...I'll come over to your place again tonight?" he half asked, half stated.

"Only if you play hard."

"I'll see you tonight then," he winked.

"You do know I was talking about the game right?"

"It doesn't matter. I always play hard. You should know that by now." He flashed her a sexy smirk then walked away. "I'll see you later boss lady!"
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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

October 24th, 2004, 5:03 pm #8

A Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC17.
Chapters 21 - 25

Chapter 21:

"Could you all be quiet?!" Isaac spat. Sitting down in front of the television in the common area, his eyes were glued on the sports channel. "They're going to talk about my brother. Something happened!"

"That ain't your brother," a man grumbled in the corner.

"He IS my brother and I think he's been injured, so SHUT THE HELL UP!" He turned up the volume of the television.

"And in the world of baseball, bad boy major league player turned minor league hero Shawn Brady has been admitted for surgery. After a wild pitch thrown by Clippers pitcher Owen Davies, Brady was injured apparently to the left elbow."

Isaac watched the footage of Shawn at bat and ducking all too late. In an attempt to protect his head he instinctively raised his arms, leaned back away from the plate and the baseball collided with his elbow. As Isaac watched his brother crumple to the ground in obvious pain, grabbing his arm and then quickly attended to. The last clip was of him walking off the field, grimacing in pain.

"It was a big game for Brady. Scoring 2 of the 5 runs for the Hawks, contributing to their shut out of the Clippers. Shawn's performance was nothing short of miraculous today as his little nephew looked on in the dugout wearing a miniaturized version of his Hawks jersey."

Isaac stood up and turned off the television. Quickly he stormed out of the common room towards his counselor's office. "I've got to get out of here!"

"Isaac, I think you need to calm down. What's bothering you?" the counselor asked.

"My brother is in the hospital. My kid saw him get hurt and I think I should be there for my family. For once in my life they should be able to turn to me."

"You feel you are up to it?"

"Of course I'm up to it!"

"I think you are, too but we need to make some arrangements."

"Anything. I just want to be there."
__________
Belle paced nervously in the waiting room. Her teeth worried her bottom lip. Her eyes were glazed over, distant and wide, filled with worry as she and the others waited for the doctor.

"Miss Belle, you should sit down," Jason said in a gentle voice. "We're not doing Shawn any good worrying like this. He would be having a fit if he saw us all down in the dumps."

"Jason's right," Philip added. "Shawn will pull through this. He's strong. You know that."

Belle nodded her head slightly. Her concern had not dissipated but the added perspective and reassurance did her some good. "Thanks you two. I'm going to check on Mrs. Brady and Josh." She walked down the corridor to where Hope was sitting with Josh curled up on her lap. He was fast asleep, exhausted from the full day he had with the team. He was an honorary Hawks for the day. The best birthday gift the little boy could have asked for other than the slew of toys his uncle had bought him.

Belle sat next to Hope. "Hi Mrs. Brady. How are you holding up?" she asked softly.

"Just about as good as you," Hope said with a warm smile.

"I hate waiting. I hope he gets out of surgery soon."

"Belle, I know we haven't really had a chance to talk but I see you care a great deal about my son."

"I do Mrs. Brady."

"Please. Call me Hope."

"Hope, I don't know how much Shawn has told you about us, but we have a very loving relationship. It's also very secretive, but that's my choice that Shawn hasn't protested too much. As the owner I don't want to compromise anything by making my involvement with Shawn common knowledge. Despite that, I do love your son. I love him very much and..." Her voice trailed off. She tried to gain her composure but it was impossible. Not knowing what was happening was killing her. She took a deep breath and continued in a shaky voice. "And... all I can do is hope that all of this isn't too devastating."

Hope touched Belle's hand gently. "Shawn is lucky to have you. You know, every time I've talked to him since he started playing for the Hawks he's talked about you. Shawn and I have always been close but you are the only girlfriend he's ever told me about, well at least enough for me to know more than you exist. Shawn's always had a lot of love to give. I'm glad he has someone like you Belle. You've brought happiness back into his world. He didn't have that for a long time."

They talked for a few minutes until Belle noticed the doctor emerge and the team began to gather around him. Belle and Hope stood up. Hope carrying the still slumbering Joshua in her arms walked to the others.

"Doctor how is he?" a variety of people asked.

"The surgery was successful. Mr. Brady sustained an elbow fracture-dislocation with a comminuted radial head fracture and coronoid fracture. The procedure was relatively simple, radial head excision and coronoid soft tissue attachment reinsertion with bone anchors." His words were met by blank stares by all surrounding him.

"English doc," Jason encouraged.

The doctor smiled apologetically. "Elbow fracture dislocations often disrupt both the coronoid and the radial head, leading to instability, particularly if over half of the height of the coronoid is lost. In this case, about 50% was lost. It is too early to say how Mr. Brady will recover. We'll have to test range of motion after recovery to get a better sense. It's also too early to tell if he will be back this season."

"Can I see my son?" Hope asked eagerly.

"He's still in post-op and once he's stabilized he will be sent to a room where you can visit him. It should be another half an hour from now."

"Thank you doc," Jason said with a heavy pat on the back, catching the surgeon off guard.

"Ok guys," Vince spoke up. "It's late and we all can't visit Shawn tonight. We'll come back in the morning."

"Coach is right," Philip piped up. "Shawn doesn't need us all smothering him. Mrs. Brady, Ms. Black let us know if you need us for anything."

"Thanks Philip," Belle smiled.

"Yes, thank you all," Hope said with a warm smile. "You all have been wonderful. I appreciate it, and so does Shawn."

The team started filing out of the waiting room. A few of them took the time to lend their support to Hope. She was touched by their words and offers to help, almost to the point of tears.

Almost an hour later, Hope sat next to Shawn's bed. Joshua was awake. He was still tired and cranky, but he was happy to be with his Uncle Shawn. He was still wearing his little jersey, just as adorable as he could be. He looked like a mini Shawn from his thick, unruly brown hair and deep dark gaze. His characteristics were very Brady dominant.

"Mom where's Belle?" Shawn asked in a scratchy voice.

"She said she had some phone calls to make. She should be back any minute."

He nodded his head and shifted his attention to Josh squirming around on his grandmother's lap. "Hey buddy. Did you have fun today?" he asked groggily.

"Lots of fun! But Unca Shawn why did that man throw the ball at you?" he asked innocently.

"He didn't do it on purpose Josh. It was an accident," he explained. "A bad accident."

Shawn continued to talk with Hope and Josh when Belle walked in, almost shyly. She took in the sight of him in a position halfway between lying down and sitting up. His left arm was in a sling. His face brightened as he saw her.

"There you are. I was wondering when you'd make your way to see me," he grinned. "Come on over here."

"I don't want to interrupt."

"Don't be silly. I want you here."

Hope sensed Belle's hesitancy. As she had talked with Shawn, Hope had noticed Belle talking with the doctor out in the hallway. Something told her the news wasn't as good as they hoped. She scooped Josh up in her arms. "Come on big boy. Let's see if we can find you a little snack. You've had a long day." Josh cheered happily and they walked out of the room.

Shawn watched as his mother and nephew left, then shifted his attention to Belle. "Now why are you being so bashful? Come here. I want you with me." Belle walked closer and Shawn's grin started to fade when he saw her puffy eyes and tear stained face. "Have you been crying?" he asked softly. He motioned for her to sit on his bed. Seeing her face more clearly, he touched her cheek gently. "Darlin', have you been crying over me? This isn't anything," he reassured. "I have banged up knees and ankles, a dislocated elbow is old news. It hurt like hell, but..."

"Don't say it's nothing. You weren't watching the person you love fall to the ground in agony and not know what was going to happen next. I was so worried. We were all worried. The entire team was in the waiting room while you were in surgery. So don't say it's nothing."

"Ok. I'm sorry. That's just my way of coping. Come a little closer." He pulled her closer to him so she was soon cuddling up to him.

"I don't want to hurt you," Belle said as she cautiously got closer.

"It's ok. I still have one good arm to hold you with. I want you to see I'll be alright. I'll be up and good as new."

"Shawn did you listen to what the doctor said? You may not be able to play for the rest of the season!"

"Doctors don't always know what they're talking about Belle. I know my body. I know when I'll be fine. I'll be as good as knew before you know it."

"But..."

"No Belle," he protested. "I plan on proving the doctor wrong. I just got out of surgery so of course my range of motion will be limited. He doesn't know what he's talking about. I will play again. He can't tell me otherwise. Now let's not talk about it anymore. I just want to hold you. That's all."

Belle remained silent. Listening to him become more defensive, she thought back to her conversation with the doctor only moments ago. She feared that if he was not able to cope with the possibility of not playing for the remainder of the season then the doctor's most recent findings from his last X-ray would crush him. Belle insisted to the surgeon that she break the news to Shawn, in her own way. It was the most difficult thing she ever had to do.

Chapter 22:

Shawn's touch became cold, rigid. He retreated his arm by inches until Belle's shoulders were bare, longing for his touch once again. Slowly Belle moved away from him, leaving her formerly cozy position next to him on his hospital bed. She sensed his body tensing with every passing moment. His eyes were dark, black like coal. Belle could see the muscles of his jaw clenching. He clutched the sheets in his fists, his grip tightened with every second.

"Get out." His tone was even and he spoke deliberately. He stared straight ahead. His eyes were cold and vacant. There was nothing harsh in the resonance of his voice. He inflicted no pain or hurt in his pitch. Yet everything in his behavior said otherwise. It sent shivers down Belle's spine.

"Shawn we can talk about this."

"No. I want you to leave." He raised his voice slightly. "I can't talk to you right now."

Belle let out a soft gasp, trying her best not to cry but her eyes quickly filled with tears. "I'm so sorry Shawn." Her voice as soft and tremulous.

"I don't need your pity so stop crying." His voice remained eerily monotone.

Belle was shocked by his words and his emotionless tone. "I'm not pitying you Shawn. I love you."

"You have a hard time showing it. If you truly loved me you wouldn't be asking me to give up on my dreams!" he yelled. His deep voice resonated throughout the room.

"I never told you to give up," she quietly defended.

"You said that my injury was far greater than the doctors initially thought and that it would be best that I quit playing." The bitterness in his voice was more than obvious. He turned his head slowly and looked at her. Hurt, anger, betrayal were all rolled into one devastated expression. "If you think I should quit the one constant in my life then maybe it's just best that you leave. People come and go. Family. Friends. Teams." He paused and stared back out at the wall before him. "Girlfriends," he continued as he glanced at her briefly out of the corner of his eyes. "I've always had two things I could depend on. Me and baseball, and now you're saying both have let me down. I can't accept that very easily or your acceptance of the situation, so get out...Ms. Black."

He turned onto his side so his back faced her. He ignored her growing sobs. He felt her rise from the bed and could hear her walk out but he chose not to acknowledge her departure. In moments he was alone. Anger and frustration grew within, consuming him at an alarming rate. He turned over again on the bed. Lying on his back he stared up at the ceiling. He had never felt so alone.
__________
Belle ran out of Shawn's room unable to fight back the tears. She was blinded by her sobs not noticing the man in her way as she ran. She unintentionally crashed into him. Her sobbing intensified as she buried her head in his chest. She felt his hands touch her shoulders gently, yet hesitantly.

"Belle?" he called her name soothingly, but the surprise in his voice was evident.

Raising her head slowly, her eyes glanced upward and met a pair of familiar dark eyes that had always harbored so much anger but were now filled with tremendous concern.

"Isaac?" Shocked to see him there, she hugged him gratefully. Happy to see him despite their rocky past.

He hugged her in return, offering her comfort she obviously needed. "Belle what happened? I thought Shawn was going to be ok."

Belle stepped back from Isaac. She wiped her eyes and took a deep breath trying to make sense of all that was happening. She looked at him, sensing his growing concern and confusion. It was unavoidable for her to think back to all Isaac had done over the last few months. The conflict he had with Shawn. The silent suffering it caused them both. It had only been a few weeks since he had gone back to the rehab center, but he looked well. His once trademark anger and bitterness appeared to be a thing of the so recent past.

She sighed before responding, unsure of where to begin. "Yes... and no."

"What do you mean?"

"Shawn's injury is far more extensive than they first suspected. I don't know how or why they didn't pick it up before but there was more damage done to his ligaments or something... I'm not too sure exactly but ..." She looked at Isaac with sad eyes. Remembering Shawn's reaction not too long ago, tears quickly filled her eyes.

"What Belle?"

"If Shawn continues to play he runs the risk of injuring himself even further and there's a strong chance he'll lose the use of his arm if he does."

"He didn't take the news too well I'm assuming."

"Not even close. I told him exactly what the doctor told me, that the joint is responsible for so much movement that any damage can have a variety of results." She turned around and looked through the small window of Shawn's door. She could see him staring blankly at the ceiling above him. "He thinks I want him to quit."

"Do you?"

"I want him to... for purely selfish reasons," she admitted quietly. "But I didn't tell him that. He only sensed it and then he told me to leave him alone." Touching the glass lightly with her fingertips she imagined that she was reaching out to Shawn, trying to caress and soothe the pain he was feeling away. "This is breaking my heart," she said in barely a whisper. She spoke so softly Isaac almost didn't hear her. "He's shutting me out. He doesn't want me to see him this way." It was an easy conclusion for her to make, for Shawn had done it before when Isaac had come to town the first time around. "His words were hurtful and hurt-filled, but I know he needs me."

Isaac touched her shoulders gently to offer her some reassurance. Belle turned to face him. "It's good that you're here Isaac. I think you're the only one he will let help him now. This is your chance to be the type of brother Shawn has always needed you to be."
__________
Isaac was hesitant to talk with Shawn immediately. He wasn't sure where to begin or what to say. He talked with Belle for quite sometime, learning about all that happened that day. All the unbelievable events of a day that started off so wonderfully and had ended tragically. As they talked to each other they heard a soft gasp and looked up to see Hope holding onto Josh's hand. The look of complete surprise at seeing Isaac was obvious to anyone.

Isaac stood up to face his mother and his son who looked at him with wide eyes, more out of confusion than recognition. "Hi Mom," he said in an unsteady voice. He walked to her and in moments they embraced. Hope held onto him tightly like he would instantly disappear if she let him go. The tears streamed down her face as she held her first born. The last time she had seen him, she had feared he would be lost to her forever, but now at this moment she knew her son was back for good. It was in the way he hugged her and the way he said 'Mom' with the certain tone of innocence and dependence a son always has on his mother.

As he let her go, Isaac looked down at the bright eyed little boy standing closely next to Hope, clinging to her leg. How he could ever deny this boy made his heart break and a fresh wave of guilt wash over him, but he refused to drown himself in his own self pity. Not this time. Not anymore.

"Hi Josh," he said softly. He squatted down to be eye level with him. He cringed inside when he saw Josh cling onto Hope even more. With a deep breath he looked at Josh with an endearing smile. "You've gotten so big." His voice became tremulous, unable to push back the thoughts of how much he had missed out on in his young life.

"Grandma says I'm a big boy," he told him with a proud grin. Isaac chuckled lightly in response then watched Josh slowly start to let go of Hope's leg. He did not let go too much so he could easily retreat back to the safe haven his grandmother always provided him.

Isaac bit his lower lip to fight back the flood of emotions surging through him. "You are a big boy. I hear you've been taking care of your grandma."

Josh nodded his head and grinned once again. "Uh-huh."

"Well, you've been doing a good job," he said and glanced up at Hope with a look of gratitude. In his own little way he thanked Hope for all that she had done. Soon, Josh let go of Hope completely. The action relieved Isaac. It made it easier for him to ask his next question. "Josh, do you know who I am?"

In response, Josh nodded his head yes very eagerly. "You're my daddy," he said in a soft, reluctant voice.

"You remember me?" he gasped. His eyes quickly filled with tears. When Josh nodded his head once more, Isaac pulled him into his arms unable to stop the tears from falling. "You've made me so happy Josh," he whispered. "You've made daddy very happy."

"Daddy?"

"Yes Josh."

"How come you're here?"

Isaac looked into the wide eyed innocence of his son's gaze and smiled. "I came for you and to help your Uncle Shawn feel better."

"Good!"

"Why do you say that Josh?"

" 'Cause Uncle Shawn is very sad and I don't like to see him sad."

"None of us do Josh. We're going to help him feel better." He looked up at Hope and Belle standing nearby. "We're all going to help." He emphasized then brought his attention back to Josh. "I promise you."

Chapter 23:

"God I must be dying," Shawn grumbled as he watched Isaac walk into the hospital room. "You're the last person I expected to see this morning."

"You would have seen me last night if Mom didn't insist on me giving you some space."

"She's a wise lady. I wish she had insisted you not come at all."

Isaac walked inside the hospital room and pulled up a chair closer to Shawn's bed.

"What are you doing here anyway? Are you using this as an excuse to finish rehab?"

"No. I made some arrangements with my counselor. I only have weekly sessions I need to go to. I don't need constant supervision anymore. But don't worry about me. I'm here for you. I want to help you through this anyway I can."

Shawn let out a loud guffaw in response. "That's a bunch of crap!" he laughed. "You know you're enjoying this. Seeing me like this must be giving you some sort of cheap thrill. My pain and suffering has always fueled you."

"Maybe in the past but not now. I'm trying my best to reconcile with you, Mom, and Joshua. I've been an absent member of this family too long."

"Yeah, you have so don't blame me for not welcoming you back with open arms."

"I don't, although I thought we covered all of this weeks ago back at your place."

"Those were only words Isaac. I judge a man by his actions."

"And I'm judging you by yours and I don't like what I see."

"Don't be surprised but your judgment of me really doesn't bother me."

"Shawn what's wrong with you?!" Isaac asked angrily. It was as if his brother had become a new person and he didn't like the man he saw before him. He was a shell of the person he knew as his normally fiercely independent younger brother. He took a deep breath and tried to speak calmly. "Alright you've been injured but life goes on. Maybe you should start concentrating on what you can do instead of what you can't."

"All I know is baseball Isaac. That's all. You take that away from me, I'm nothing."

"That's not true."

"Of course it is," Shawn was quick to argue. "Two years of college and straight into the minors. Three years there and five in the majors what else have I done with my life. What else can I do but play? I'm not ready to quit!"

"Then don't."

"I don't want to, but no one will support me if I go back."

"I will."

"You're crazy."

"Why? Because I want to help you realize your dream or because you don't think it's achievable? The way I see it Shawn, doctor's are wrong all the time. They said you run a risk if you get hurt again, well we'll just make sure you don't. You'll go through physical therapy and strengthen your arm. By next season you'll be as good as new."

"You're serious about this," Shawn stated but remained a bit skeptical.

"You should be, too. Shawn, athletes get hurt all the time and they come back all the time, why can't you be that next marvel, the next athlete to defy the odds. You'll be on the cover of magazines and made to cry on a Barbara Walters special."

Shawn chuckled in response. Laughing for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. "I forgot how funny you can be."

"Yeah, well when your baby brother is a star athletic and Mr. Popular, you learn to rely on your strengths to stand out. But in all seriousness, let me help you like you helped me. It really is the least I can do."

"Something tells me you won't take no for an answer," Shawn told him and became quiet for a moment. His countenance quickly became solemn and he looked at Isaac with sad eyes. "You know I really made a mess of things last night."

"What are you talking about now?"

"I think I may have ruined things with Belle."

"You didn't. Ok, you made her run out of here crying, but she's a tough lady. She's known you long enough to realize you can be a big bully."

"I wouldn't say all that."

"I would. Not many little brothers beat up on their big brothers when growing up."

"You're just bitter," Shawn teased.

"Maybe, but I've been in therapy. I've had time to adjust," Isaac joked. The two shared a laugh for a moment. "I'm glad I'm back to my usual self-deprecating humor. It's been a while since we've been able to laugh like this."

"It has. I've missed this. I've missed having a brother."

"Me, too and your lady helped me realize that I needed to be a better brother for you."

"She's great isn't she," Shawn said unable to hide the emerging smile that swept across his face. Memories of their growing relationship flashed through his mind ending with his cold attitude towards her the night before. His expression soured as he thought of his behavior. "I pushed her away. When she wanted to help and I needed her most I kicked her out.. How stupid was that?! And how ironic?! All these months I've done nothing but want to get closer to her and now..." his voice trailed off and he shook his head as if he could dismiss the situation by the simple action.

Isaac placed a firm, reassuring hand on his brother's shoulder and looked him straight in the eyes. "You will get everything you want. You have not lost Belle. She is too strong and committed to you to let you go so easily. Don't expect her to make the first move though. She doesn't strike me as the type."

"You're right. I'm getting out of here today. Tonight she'll be back in my arms." He proclaimed without hesitation. "I may have to beg and plead but it'll be worth it. She's the one Isaac," he told his brother seriously. "The one."
__________
A series of camera flashes and reporters yelling a variety of questions made the Hawks stadium a mad house. Belle tried her best to answer the number of questions thrown her way but she really had no answer except the one she continued to recite.

"Mr. Brady has been released from the hospital and he is expected at the stadium some time today. His injury is more serious than the doctors had originally suspected. He will have to sit out for the rest of the season. What his intentions are after he leaves the Hawks I do not know. I am not privy to that information at this point in time."

Becoming frustrated with how the impromptu press conference was going Belle made a few more comments before dismissing herself and allowing Vince to handle any other questions the reporters might have.

Belle disappeared into the tunnel leading down to the locker room when she was stopped by the sound of one person clapping slowly. She turned to see Shawn emerging out of the shadows. His left arm in a sling, but he carried himself in a way that the injury was almost forgettable. In that moment she knew Isaac had been able to work his magic with Shawn. She looked at him seriously, holding her own and not wanting to smile or acknowledge the happiness growing inside.

"That was great boss," he said in that familiar low, husky voice that made Belle's body tingle all over. He stopped clapping and in a slow swagger he walked to her. She watched how he moved smoothly in his black jeans and gray T-shirt that hugged his frame perfectly. "You really held your own out there."

"Just doing my job."

"You're a class act, you know that?" he asked carrying his signature smirk.

"You stopped me just to tell me that?"

"I'm just trying to make small talk."

"Well I'm not really in the mood for small talk Shawn. So, tell me, how are you feeling? How's the arm?" she asked like an owner, not a concerned lover.

"It's alright. It'll get better and stronger."

"Did the doctor tell you something new?"

"No. I just have a new attitude."

"Well I'm happy for you Shawn," she said with a warm smile and started to walk away from him much to his surprise.

"Wait a sec," he said going after her. He grabbed her arm to stop her. "You're not going to make this easy for me are you?"

"Make what easy?" she asked mocking innocence.

"I'll take that as a no," he mumbled under his breath. He took a deep breath. "I'm sorry Belle. I...I've been kicking myself for treating you the way I did. I was confused and angry and I really shouldn't have taken it out on you."

"You're right, you shouldn't have," she said seriously and soon smiled, "but I understand."

He loosened his hold on her arm, his fingers slowly began to caress her smooth skin. "So... does this mean we're good?" he asked wishfully.

"What are your plans Shawn?"

"What does it matter?"

"You don't want to tell me because you're afraid of how I might react." Shawn remained quiet, looking down guiltily. "You're not going to quit," she said in a tone that was both calm and even. It was overly calm and it bothered Shawn.

"I can't just quit. This is something I can get over with physical therapy, special equipment, new techniques, whatever. I've got to at least try. Baseball is all I have Belle."

"Is that how you really feel?" she asked unable to hide the hurt in her voice.

"I don't mean it like that. Of course I have you and my family, but ... but that's different," he said with a heavy sigh.

"Why?" she asked upset. "You love your family. You claim to love me. You have more in your life than baseball Shawn!"

"I thought you'd understand."

"I do and I don't," she answered truthfully. It was a conflict she was unable to shake and tackle head on at this point in time. "Look Shawn I can't do this now."

"Well when can you? Belle none of this will mean anything to me if you don't support me. That's the God's honest truth. I love you and when I think about the slim chance of you not being in my life it scares me. You know I don't admit those type of things easily so you've got to believe me. I'm asking you to have faith in me. Just have faith."

Chapter 24:

The intensity of Shawn's gaze was so intense Belle almost lost the ability to speak. She couldn't answer him. The question wasn't as simple as Shawn thought and her answer wasn't as easy as she had hoped. He was pleading with her and wanted her support more than anything. It was obvious to her how much he needed her to just simply believe in him. He continued to slowly run his fingers along her arm eventually bringing them down to her fingers and he held her hand gently in his own.

"Can we go somewhere and talk?" he requested quietly.

"I can't right now," she said in a tight voice.

"Make time."

"I have things to do Shawn. I respect your time, please respect mine," she requested and pulled her hand out of his. She folded her arms across her chest and looked at him seriously.

"Is this your way of paying me back?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Is it your turn to treat me coldly?"

"I'm not doing that. I just have work to do and you have a team meeting to attend."

"I don't care about a stupid meeting. I care about you and what you're thinking!" he argued.

"I can't do this," she sighed and started to walk away from him quickly. By the time Shawn realized she was walking away she was so far he practically had to run to catch up to her. She walked furiously fast and when she reached the elevator she was grateful the door opened immediately. As it was closing, Shawn slipped inside and pushed the elevator stop.

"Why won't you talk to me?"

"I just can't do this Shawn. Understand that," she said flatly and released the stop. With a jerk the elevator started its ascent only to stop abruptly once again after Shawn pushed in the button.

"Understand this. I can't do this without you. I need you to believe in me!"

"Shawn I do believe in you ... but ... that's not nearly enough," she added in an unsteady voice. Once again she released the stop and the elevator continued its rise. She leaned against the wall, staring at the numbered buttons in front of her. She refused to look at Shawn. She hated how she felt and she didn't want to see the hurt in his eyes. The gorgeous brown depths she adored and could imagine herself gazing into for years and years to come. As the elevator stopped and the doors opened slowly, Belle slipped out not looking back at Shawn. No words were spoken between them. Shawn watched her walk away and disappear into the management suite as the doors of the elevator slid to closure. He stared at his distorted reflection in the silver doors of the elevator, shocked by what was happening. He was frozen, paralyzed by what he felt was rejection of the worst kind.

A pair of blue eyes flashed through his mind. A gaze that was bright and playful, deep and sensual, but most recently, worried and scared. Thoughts of nights on the hilltop, starry skies, and those eyes gazing into his adoringly and lovingly. Memories of steamy nights, limbs entangled, kisses wild, and those sultry eyes. He wanted nothing more than to gaze into those blue depths for the rest of his days, during good times and bad, lazy mornings and erotic nights.

With a brief glance he looked at the buttons on the panel of the elevator wall and furiously pressed the button to open the door and he stormed out. He made a straight line to Belle's office, ignoring everyone and everything around him. He stormed inside her office, slamming the door behind him. Belle didn't even appear startled by the intrusion as if she had been expecting him to come in.

"We're not finished."

"Shawn how many times do I have to tell you I can't do this now!"

"Well, I don't care Belle. You're going to stop avoiding me and the issue. There's no escape and I'm not leaving until you come clean."

Belle stood up from her seat and turned to look out her window, staring out at the field below. She thought about all the conflicting emotions she had raging inside, trying her best to make sense of such a confusing situation. With a deep sigh, she spoke. "You're going to think I'm the most selfish woman," she said quietly.

"I could never think that about you."

"Never say never Shawn." She turned around to face him. They were separated by her desk and inside she was relieved for the distance. "I'm scared Shawn. I don't want you to get hurt again. I want you to quit Shawn and I hate myself for wanting that, but not nearly as much as I would if you did quit for me. You'd resent me if you quit and I... " her tremulous voice trailed off and turned around, looking out the window once again. "I'd resent you if you play."

His jaw clenched, fighting back the stir of emotions coursing through him. He watched her closely. Her posture slumping like she was giving up. This was what he feared, but yet never really expected to happen. He hadn't planned perfectly. He had talked to the doctor and to Isaac. He had a physical therapist all lined up. Everything was set. He would get stronger. He would get back to the game he loved. It was his livelihood, his saving grace, but Belle was his everything. He didn't resent her, at least not now but he knew she was right.

"So what does this mean for us?" he asked innocently. In only a matter of seconds he reverted to a child, lost and desperate for answers.

"I don't know. I can't help the way I feel Shawn. I wish I didn't feel this way but I do."

"What about us?" he asked once again. The level of anxiety he felt had significantly raised since his previous question.

"We're at an impasse."

"The hell we are," he snapped. "This is no impasse. There has to be a compromise."

"I can't think of one," she replied solemnly. Once again she turned around to look at him. Her eyes were downcast, filled with sorrow. It was obvious to Shawn she had already given up. He walked to her, and touched her cheek gently. His fingers softly stroked her smooth skin, offering her some comfort and reassurance.

"Look at me Belle," he quietly requested. Hesitantly she looked up at him and he smiled warmly. "I shouldn't have forced you into making a decision. I know this is a lot for you to think about. I know you're scared for me, but I'm an athlete. These things happen. But I'll be careful, I promise."

"It's not you I'm worried about. It's that one wild pitch that could make you lose the use of your arm. Doesn't that scare you?"

"Losing you scares me," he replied quickly and planted a chaste kiss on her lips before she could respond. He pulled her in for a hug with his strong arm and she sank into his embrace. "See I can still hug you properly with one arm," he whispered in her ear. "I can still hold you tight. We'll work through this Belle. I need you." He brushed his lips against her ear, his warm breath made her tingle all over. "I love you Belle. I can't do this without you supporting me ... and loving me."

Belle melted into him. Her body molded perfectly with his, conceding to his every wish without thought. She curled her arms around his neck, savoring this moment. Her body complied to his every request. Her fingers combed through the hairs at his nape and she guided him closer to her. Their lips coming in contact with each other, locking tenderly.

"You mean everything to me," Shawn whispered before capturing her lips for another sweet kiss. "I love you." Their lips continued to lock. Mouths opening and closing in unison for the sweetest kiss either had ever known.
__________
Shawn woke up the next morning, unable to hide the slap happy grin plastered on his face. Thoughts of last night were very fresh and almost renewed his arousal. He stretched out next to him, wanting to bring Belle close to him. That was how he loved to wake up, with Belle in his arms and as he reached over he was met only by cold sheets. He was quick to grab his boxers nearby and slip them on. Running his hand through his hair he brought some semblance of order to his unruly locks and groggily walked around Belle's house, hearing sounds from the kitchen downstairs. The wonderful aroma of coffee filled the home.

"Morning," he said, announcing his presence in a scratchy voice. He yawned loudly before walking up to Belle and kissing her neck softly. Her reaction was nonexistent. The usual soft moan and leaning of her head to the side to encourage his perusal did not occur much to his dismay.

"Good morning," she said flatly. "How's your arm?"

"We didn't get carried away, if that's what you're asking," he said with a sexy smirk.

"I'm glad." Her tone remained flat and even.

"Belle what's wrong with you?"

"Last night was a mistake Shawn."

"Excuse me?" he asked in total surprise.

"We shouldn't have .... I shouldn't have asked you back here last night."

"Well, my family is staying at my place. This was the only place we could be alone."

"I don't mean that Shawn. I mean that I've led you to believe we can still be together."

"WHAT?"

"I'm sorry Shawn." She placed her cup of coffee down onto the counter and looked at him seriously. Images of Shawn being hit and debilitated by a wild pitch ran through her mind and haunted her dreams last night. It was all too much for her to bear. She wasn't ready to live through that heartache again. "I'm going to go take a shower. I'm asking you to show yourself out during that time. Please don't make this any more difficult than it has to be."

Chapter 25:

It had been nearly a week since Belle had made a decision she regretted practically the moment she made it. Repeatedly, she tried to learn to cope with the painful decision but it was virtually impossible. Day after day she would come to her office. Part of her wanted to hide in there and not face anyone, to reduce the possibility of running into Shawn, but she was a professional. She had a job to do and she was going to do it to the best of her abilities. It was a challenge and to ease the pain she tried her best to interact with the team when she knew Shawn would be at physical therapy. He visited her every night in her dreams, she wasn't ready to face the reality and see him face to face just yet.

Alone in her office with only her thoughts to keep her company she was suddenly startled by a knock at the door and her assistant peeked inside. "Ms. Black you have a visitor."

"Who is it Tracy?"

"Hope Brady. She's leaving tomorrow and wanted to thank you for arranging her and her grandson's visit."

Belle smiled, delighted to see Hope once more. They had bonded in the hospital days ago and had not really talked since. "Please send her in."

In moments Hope walked inside and Belle stood to greet her. She extended her hand to her but Hope instead brought her close for a motherly hug. "I don't believe in shaking hands with my son's girlfriend," she mused as they embraced. As they let go of each other Hope looked at Belle with a warm smile then soon took a seat. Belle sat next to her instead of her usual spot behind her desk.

"Hope, you do know that Shawn and I are no longer together," she partially asked, but mostly told her. Despite her words she was unable to hide the sadness in her eyes and the solemnity in her voice.

"I know you two have been having problems, but I don't see why you two can't work out whatever it is that has you separated... temporarily."

"Is this why you came by?" Belle asked in a non-accusatory way.

"No. I wanted to thank you for all that you have done for Joshua and me. It was very kind of you to arrange such a lovely visit. I think Joshua will be talking about this for weeks!" She laughed.

"I'm glad he enjoyed himself. I know Shawn was more than excited you both could come visit him. And I truly enjoyed meeting you I just wish it could have been under more pleasant circumstances."

Hope's eyes were gentle and full of motherly concern. Touching Belle's hand she offered Belle comfort and reassurance from the simple action.

"Has Shawn ever talked to you about his father?" she asked curiously.

Belle nodded. "Yes he has. His eyes light up like a little boy when he does," she smiled.

"Still?" Hope mused. "Well, Bo was a wonderful man. Shawn idolized him. He was an amazing father and a great husband. Shawn is very much like him, and so is Isaac for that matter. Bo was the most strong and gentle man I have ever known and ever will. We were childhood sweethearts. After high school we were married and a year later, we were blessed with Isaac then Shawn two years later. By the time Shawn arrived Bo had been on the force a year. There would be times he would work at night and I could never sleep. I would get so scared for him but then he'd come home, all in one piece. There came a time when I just couldn't continue worrying. He was doing what he loved to do. What he was born to do. There was no finer police officer than Bo. He quickly became a detective. He worked in drugs and narcotics, probably the most risky division and yet I was comforted by the fact that he was doing what he loved. It was a part of him, as much a part of him as I was and the boys. It's what made him complete," she smiled. A flood of memories overcame her and Belle could see nothing but happiness, not despair on her face. "I loved him tremendously and when my brother-in-law Roman showed up at our front door it only confirmed that nagging feeling I had in the pit of my stomach. A deal gone wrong and I became a widow. That was over 20 years ago, Shawn was seven, Isaac was nine."

Belle squeezed Hope's hand gently. "You don't have to share this with me Hope. I understand if it's painful."

"No, it's not painful. I do think about Bo everyday, but that is because he is still with me. I talk to him about what our boys are doing and now what Joshua is getting into. I miss him and after he died I went through this period when I wished he had never been a police officer. After a time I came to realize even if he had quit just for me he wouldn't have been happy and because I loved him I had to come to terms with that."

"You're a stronger woman than I could ever be Hope."

"That's not true Belle. You know, you and I have quite a bit in common, particularly one thing. We've both been loved by a Brady man and we both know we'll never be able to love another man in that way again." Hope studied Belle closely, sensing the turmoil and struggle Belle was going through. Her voice remained gentle and she put her other hand on top of Belle's.

"I know what you're trying to do Hope, but I'm just so confused. I feel so foolish for not being able to get over something so small."

"It isn't small, Belle. I didn't tell you my story to make you think Shawn's injury is minor in comparison. You're fear is very real and I'd be lying to you if I told you I wasn't concerned, too."
"But you're not asking him to quit."

"And neither are you... for the same reason I am not." Hope told her in a matter of fact tone. "Shawn - as big as his heart is - has never loved anyone like he loves you. You know, he's been telling me all about you since before you even agreed to go out with him. You had him hooked from day one! I know the whole tale," she smiled. "And meeting you and seeing the way Shawn looks at you, it just warms my heart. He loves you and I know you love him." Hope paused deciding to choose her words very carefully. "He's never even considered giving up baseball ... until now. Not because of his health, but because of you. Belle I am in no way trying to guilt you into giving your relationship with Shawn another chance. Only you can make that decision, but I think you know what you want."
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Joined: October 17th, 2004, 8:41 pm

October 24th, 2004, 5:04 pm #9

A Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC17.
Chapters 26 - 29

Chapter 26:

Shawn sat at the round table in the restaurant. Physically he was there but mentally his actual location was unknown. The sound of Joshua's chatter mixed in with the background noise of the patrons and soft music all blended together. He held his fork, twirling it around the plate making random patterns with the remnants of the Alfredo sauce.

"Shawn?" Hope called out. "Shawn honey, Joshua has asked you a question."

"Hmm? What?" He snapped out of his daydream. He looked at Josh, his big brown eyes staring at his uncle inquisitively. "Yeah champ?" he asked with forced enthusiasm. Shawn listened to Josh ramble on and finally ask him a question about coming to visit him again. He tried his best to be a part of the family dinner he was having with his mother, brother, and nephew after that point. It was obvious to both Hope and Isaac what had him distracted. It was the same thing that had him distracted for almost a week. Neither were too sure how he would be able to cope after they left tomorrow. In the twenty-eight years both had known him they had never known Shawn to appear so lost. In a matter of six months he had grown to depend on Belle in a way that had been previously foreign to him and both his mother and brother were extremely aware.

And then it happened.

The familiar sound of a light laugh that had once filled Shawn's days and particularly his nights became more of a reality than a part of his constant day dreams. Snapping his head around his brown eyes landed on Belle in the distance. She was sitting down at a small table, a well dressed man helped her and soon joined her. Shawn had never seen the man before. He appeared to be in his thirties, possibly even younger. He was well built, attractive and to Shawn, an obvious replacement. He felt his heart sink. How could he be so foolish to think he could have another chance with Belle? It took every ounce of self restraint for him not to storm over there, grab the man by the collar and beat him, then drag Belle out of the restaurant to talk some sense into her. Instead he tightened his grip on his fork and frantically swirled it around the plate until Hope placed her hand on his to stop him.

"Maybe it's not what you think," Hope said in a calm, reassuring voice.

Shawn glared at her, dumbfounded by her statement. It seemed so obvious to him why Belle was out with the attractive, dark haired man with olive skin. The mere thought of it disgusted him and the more he thought about it, the more it bothered him beyond reason.

"Mom, I just have to face facts that she's moved on. Like it or not."

"Shawn, Mom's right," Isaac added. "Don't jump to conclusions. Belle wouldn't just..."

"Wouldn't just what?" Shawn asked defensively. His jaw clenched and he tensed further as he heard her laugh once again. He remembered back to that first date at the very same restaurant. He remembered their table, off to the corner in the back. There was an older couple sitting there tonight. At one point Shawn had thought that one day he and Belle would be like that older couple, still holding hands after many years of love. A night alone, leaving their children behind and enjoying each other's company. He had never allowed himself to dream about those types of things, not until Belle and now he just felt silly that he ever permitted himself to fantasize like that. It had been nearly a week since they last talked, shared an intimate evening, and then Belle asked him to leave.

Shawn abruptly stood up from his seat. "I've got to talk to her." He threw his napkin down and walked away before either Hope or Isaac could protest.

With extreme purpose he walked to the small table where Belle was sitting. He stared down the man sitting with Belle long and hard. Belle's back was too him, but at the moment she wasn't his focus, the mystery man was. Shawn envisioned himself forcefully picking the man up by his expensive suit and throwing him across the restaurant. Punching him. Kicking him. Doing everything in his power to teach him a lesson not to ever mess with his woman again. But instead he shook off the feeling with a deep breath. His fists were clenched and his body tensed to a point that he was surprised he could walk with such ease.

Shawn saw the man's eyes flare open when he saw him approaching. He muttered something and Belle turned her head with a smile that quickly turned at seeing Shawn. In that instant she knew Shawn had misread the situation. He was on a definite mission. She couldn't help but relish in the fact that Shawn wanted to get rid of her guest, thinking he was her date. The way Shawn was behaving without even a word said reminded her so much of that first time she ever saw Shawn. Confident, determined, and focused - all of which bordered on extreme arrogance and defiance. He was angry, but she found him damn sexy and she couldn't shake that feeling no matter how hard she tried.

The moment Shawn was one step away from her table, Belle stood up and quickly faced him to avoid making a scene. She tried to look at him in the eyes, but his stare stayed focused on the man he did not know. Realizing there was only one way to calm him, she touched his cheek gently and guided his face so he looked her in the eyes. He seemed to melt at her caress, get lost in her tranquil blue gaze that had left him relaxed at times, speechless on different occasions.

"Shawn," she said his name so gently, it hung onto her breath sweetly. No one else could say it in such a way that could bring him all the peace in the world. "It's not what you think," she explained calmly. He was jealous and she knew he didn't want to be, but he couldn't help it and she couldn't blame him for reacting in this way. Belle was ashamed of the way she had been treating him.

"He's my cousin. Nicholas Alamain."

Nicholas stood up and extended his hand to Shawn, but was not offended when Shawn did not accept it. Shawn stared at Nicholas in disbelief and then looked at Belle, his gaze softening as he did so. Her eyes told him that it was indeed the truth.

"He came into town today for a surprise visit." She explained nervously as if she still needed to prove her loyalty to him. "He owns part of the team."

"I have a measly twenty percent. Grandpa was most generous," Nicholas joked.

Shawn's reaction did not change.

Nicholas took a deep breath. Tough crowd. "Shawn Brady I assume?"

"Yeah. How'd you know?" Shawn asked gruffly.

"Jealous boyfriend - no one else you could be," he replied rather bluntly.

"I'm not exactly her boyfriend," Shawn told him but kept his eyes on Belle. The intensity almost made her uncomfortable.

"Who are you trying to convince?" Nicholas asked in a chuckle. He sat back down, casually placing his napkin back on his lap and he continued to butter his roll as if nothing was happening.

Shawn and Belle were both caught by surprise with his nonchalant attitude.

"Nobody," Shawn replied. "That's one thing I'm not trying to convince anybody of." He extended his hand, and Nicholas took it. "It was good to meet you. Belle I'll see you around ... or maybe not," he added, keeping in mind she had been avoiding him. Shawn began to walk away when he felt the familiar petite hand slip into his and he came to a quick halt. When he turned around he saw Belle looking at him with apologetic eyes.

"How have you been?" The words were the only ones she could find and she felt stupid saying them. Paltry pleasantries were almost an insult at this point.

"About as good as you."

"That bad?" Her voice was soft and she let a small smile escape her lips.

The corners of Shawn's mouth curled in response and he looked down guiltily. "I'm sorry for ruining your dinner."

She shook her head. "You didn't. Are you here with your family?"

"Yes. They leave tomorrow. I wanted to take them out to a nice place before they left, but I haven't been the best company. Do you want to ..."

She shook her head. "I don't want to interrupt. Maybe I can stop by after dinner, that is if it won't be too late."

"It won't be. I know Mom will be looking forward to it."

"Me, too and maybe... we can get a chance to talk."

"I think that can be arranged."

"Do you two want to sit here. I can join Shawn's family," Nicholas piped up after taking another bite of his dinner roll.

Belle's cheeks reddened. Nicholas was many things but being subtle was not one of his finer attributes.

"Come over to my place when you get a chance," Shawn told her. He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it gently, his eyes never left hers as he did so. His gaze was so deep it left Belle in a puddle. How could I ever leave this man? Her heart raced and her thoughts ran rampant. Shawn let her hand go and slowly made his way back to his table. Belle watched him disappear towards the back of the restaurant and she soon rejoined Nicholas.

"You two are so in love ... or infatuated with each other, it's almost disgusting."

"Disgusting?" Belle asked, appalled by the choice of words.

"I mean that in the nicest way possible."

"Eat your bread, Nicky." Belle purposely called him by his childhood name which he now despised.

Nicholas chose to ignore the teasing. "So why the sudden change of heart? I thought you ended it with him."

"I did - in a way, but..." she sighed, unable to find the words. Ever since her talk with Hope that morning, Belle had given the situation even greater thought and had yet to make a decision until she saw Shawn. When she saw him angry, upset, and frustrated - obviously ready to fight Nicholas, something triggered. It all just clicked and she was ready to ask for his forgiveness.

"I can't really explain it," she continued to tell her cousin. "I just love him and I can't imagine living my life without him."

"So you want to marry a baseball player?" he scoffed.

"I want to spend my life with the most amazing man," she corrected. "Absolutely amazing."

Chapter 27:

Shawn was growing more and more nervous as the evening progressed and when he finally heard the light knock on his front door he was almost paralyzed. He was unsure how tonight would go, how his talk with Belle would end up. With a deep breath, he calmed himself long enough to walk to the door and open it. When he saw Belle, it was almost like the first time. He felt like it was. The way her hair fell gracefully down onto her shoulders in loose curls, just the way he loved it. In an instant he remembered all the nights he would sweep his fingers through her golden locks and bring her close to him for a kiss. A kiss that would often lead to other things. He felt his heart pound against his chest and a lump rise in his throat, just at the sight of her before him.

"You made it." He managed to say and moved out of the way so she could come in.

"You know how I feel about honoring my commitments," she smiled.

"I know. Well, come on in... make yourself at home."

She walked past him. Enjoying the sounds of Josh's laughter in the background. His family was so warm and inviting, the complete opposite of her own yet it seemed so familiar. This was something she could get used to very easily she thought. It was something that she wanted.

"Hey Belle!" Isaac said as he walked out the kitchen. "Glad you could stop by."

"It's good to see you doing well Isaac," Belle told him sincerely.

"Thanks. One day at a time. But the best medicine is that little guy in there," he said looking in the direction of Josh who was being tickled by Hope.

"He's a sweet little boy," Belle smiled.

"After all I've put him through that, in and of itself, is a miracle. But Mom's been great with him." Isaac said then glanced at Shawn who appeared a bit antsy. "Anyway, I better offer Mom some relief, Josh can be a handful," he grinned and walked away. Belle watched him leave to be with Josh who he quickly picked up and started to play with. Hope immediately warned Isaac he was being too rough with him, but Josh's giggles said something else.

"This place is going to be so quiet after they leave," Shawn said with obvious relief but sadness was also evident.

"And you are going to miss it!" Belle smiled at him then suddenly looked away. Nothing had been cleared and yet they were talking like the tension they both knew was there didn't exist at all. She briefly glanced at Shawn. "I should say hi to Hope."
Belle started to walk away but was held back by Shawn grabbing her arm gently.

"She'd rather we talk and straighten things out," he told her seriously. "We can't keep this act up much longer, I'm liable to lose my mind if we do. Let's go out on the balcony, it's a nice night and we can have some privacy."

Belle nodded in agreement. They slipped outside. Shawn kept his distance, watching Belle lean against the railing and stare out at the night sky. It took every ounce of strength for him not to walk behind her, wrap his arms around her waist protectively and bring her close to him. He could imagine her tilting her head slightly to the side to give him access to her neck. Shawn was pretty sure she loved him kissing her neck as much as he loved doing it. He could envision it all and recollect everything, from her soft moan to the way she melted in his arms. God, he was going to die if they didn't put an end to this once and for all.

Belle felt the same way. She turned around and their eyes met.

"I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry."

They both spoke simultaneously then a light laugh lifted the silence between them. Shawn took a casual step towards her, but continued to keep his distance.

"What are you sorry about?" Belle asked curiously. "You have no reason to apologize."

"I feel I do. I don't think I made this easy on you. I pressured you into making a decision you weren't ready to make. I didn't try to truly understand your feelings."

"Hope?" Belle asked.

"Yeah. She gave me a talking to," he grinned.

"She helped me gain perspective, too." Belle confessed and looked up at Shawn with sad eyes. "Shawn, I'm so sorry. I am and I just ... I ...." She took a deep breath before continuing. In her mind she had an entire explanation prepared, but the moment she saw him the diplomatic way of handling this was a thing of the past.

"I forgot the most important thing." She continued. Some semblance of her original speech had come to her in a flash, for which she was grateful. "I forgot that I fell in love with a baseball player and if baseball is taken out of the equation then I don't really have the man I fell in love with. I know it doesn't come before, or after me, or even equal to me, but I understand it is a part of you and it's part of the reason why I feel the way I do about you."

Shawn took another step toward her. His eyes were filled with tremendous understanding, consuming her with their gentleness. A light breeze blew a few of her golden locks out of place and he brushed them back softly with his fingers, the one motion he could make without little difficulty with his stabilized arm.

"Belle, if you're asking me to forgive you consider it done. You didn't even have to apologize but..." He slipped his arm around her waist. "I do appreciate it." He gazed into her eyes adoringly then melted when she leaned her body closer to him. She rested her head on his shoulder, tucked under his chin and she sighed in contentment.

"So does this mean you're taking me back?" Belle asked in an innocent voice.

"I never let you go," he told her seriously. He tightened his hold. "And I never will."

Belle looked up at him with the brightest eyes and he became instantly lost in them. "I've missed you," he whispered.

"I've missed you, too."

"You were avoiding me this past week. I could tell."

"I was being foolish."

"You were hurt and confused," he corrected.

"You know me, too well."

"I consider it my job," he grinned.

"Shawn, I love you."

"I love you, too but if you ever kick me out after making love I may have to reconsider this whole relationship thing," he said jokingly, yet seriously.

"Trust me it will never happen again. As bad decisions go, that was the worst. I promise I won't make the same mistake twice."

"Is that a deal?" Shawn asked with a mischievous grin.

She nodded her head as she curled her arms around his neck. Her fingers began to casually play at the nape. She brought him closer.

His lips brushed against hers teasingly. "Seal it with a kiss?" he asked.

Belle placed her lips gently on his for a soft kiss to answer him. Shawn returned the kiss, opening his mouth to deepen it sweetly and slowly.



"Grandma?" Josh asked curiously, tugging on Hope's arm. "What's Uncle Shawn doing?"

Hope peered her head to look through the sliding door leading out to the balcony and smiled. It may have been dark outside but she was able to clearly see Shawn and Belle in a deep embrace and an even deeper kiss. Smiling to herself she almost didn't notice Josh about to knock on the balcony door to interrupt the two. The moment she did see the precocious boy she pulled out one of many tricks in her mothering arsenal.

"Let's go for ice cream!" she exclaimed and Josh instantly ran to her, squealing in delight.

"Did someone say ice cream?" Isaac asked playfully. He glanced outside to see his brother obviously making up with Belle and he couldn't hide his emerging smirk. "I think we should definitely go out for some ice cream. Come on champ. Let's get your shoes on."



Shawn and Belle walked back inside, full of smiles but were instantly surprised when it was obvious they were the only ones there. Shawn was quick to find the note his mother left telling him they went out for ice cream.

"Looks like we've got the place to ourselves," Shawn commented.

"But you know, I should probably call Nicholas to let him know I'll be late. He's staying with me during his visit."

"How come he's here anyway?"

"He's helping me figure out our strategy for finding a new manager. I kind of persuaded him into doing it since he's better at those type of things than I am."

"I hope he doesn't think I'm some kind of psycho for getting all bent out of shape earlier."

"No, he understands."

"And he also knew a lot about me."

"I had to tell someone. In a lot of respects Nicholas is more like a brother to me than a cousin. We went to the same boarding school. The two of us were shipped off by our parents so when it comes to sense of family we were pretty much all we had for years. He's a year older than me so he's somewhat protective of me as well."

"I see. Well, give him a call and let him know you won't be home until tomorrow," Shawn told her as if there were no question.

"I'm not spending the night while your mother and impressionable nephew are in the next room."

"Then we better get started now, while they're gone."

"You're incorrigible."

He flashed her that sexy smirk she had missed. "And you know you like it." He captured her lips with his own for a searing kiss that made her weak in the knees.

Their lips parted and Shawn took her hand in his. Belle complied to his wishes, following him towards his room. At this point she would have let him lead her anywhere, she would have willingly followed him to the ends of the earth.

Once inside his bedroom, he pulled her close once again and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. "I think we need to make up for lost time," Shawn said in a low, husky voice.

Tonight he just wanted to be with her. To hold her tight and never let her go. He had every intention of making that a reality.

Chapter 28:

Shawn and Belle lay together in a spooning position. Shawn had his arm draped around her possessively as if he would never let her go. He tightened his hold as he felt his arm being tugged away from her. After a while, one eye popped open and focused on a little head of thick brown hair very much like his own. He opened his other eye and hoped once he was able to really focus that he was just imagining things. Unfortunately he was not mistaken.

"Josh, what are you doing in here?" he whispered in order to not wake up Belle.

"I came to wake you up," Josh explained in a small voice. "Grandma is making pancakes!" He was unable to hide his enthusiasm.

"Shhhh ..." Shawn warned quietly. "Belle is trying to sleep."

"O.K.," he whispered loudly. "Uncle Shawn why is Belle in your bed? Did she have a scary dream?" he asked innocently.

"No, but we do sleep better this way," he tried to explain.

"How come you don't have on your PJ's?" Josh asked. Even though they were both covered quite well by the sheet, particularly Belle, the precocious child was still able to see they didn't have on any clothes.

"We sleep better with them off," Shawn told Josh only to be elbowed in the gut by Belle. He looked at her in confusion but her eyes were still closed. All this time she had been faking. "You'll understand when you're older," Shawn added and Josh was clearly dissatisfied with that response. "Anyway buddy, we'll be up soon for breakfast. We won't miss out on Grandma's famous pancakes, I promise." With that Josh walked out, much to Shawn's surprise he closed the door behind him. The moment Shawn heard the door click he tickled Belle. "You big fake!"

"I wasn't going to interrupt your guy talk," Belle laughed. She turned around in his arms and he ended his tickling. "Besides, he would have asked me all sorts of questions."

He cupped her breast gently. "Like, what are these?" Shawn asked in a childlike voice.

Belle laughed at his impression though she agreed completely with him. Soon, he rolled onto his back and she rested her head on his shoulder. Her hand swirled lazily along his chest. "I guess that gave us some practice," she said without thought.

"When we have our own little ones," he said, also without thought.

Surprised, she looked at him. "You think about that?"

"Why wouldn't I?"

"I don't know. Maybe because that means thinking about the future."

"Belle, every time I look into your eyes I see the future and kids are a very big part of it. A little princess. A little rebel. Whatever God decides to bless us with."

"Have I told you how much I love you?"

"Not since about three this morning," he said with a mischievous grin. "But you were kind of panting when you said it. I'm not sure if you were being sincere," he teased.

She buried her head in his chest, blushing profusely. "I really hope your mother didn't hear us. I told you I shouldn't have spent the night."

"You could have left."

"But I didn't want to."

"Then don't feel guilty. We have nothing to hide. We're adults and we love each other, we don't need an excuse to want to express it physically."

"You're an amazing man Shawn Brady."

"You said that last night, too," he grinned then lowered his mouth to hers for a gentle kiss. His lips locked with hers tenderly, kissing her with a sensual sweetness that was intoxicating.
_________
Standing on the curb outside the bustling airport, Shawn hugged Hope tightly. He was going to miss her, and he had loved having her visit him. Despite everything that had happened during that time, he knew he would not have gotten through it without her and her motherly guidance for both him and Belle.

"You're still my baby boy," Hope whispered. As they slowly let each other go, Hope touched his cheek and he seemed to blush. Only his mother could turn him into a timid little boy. Shawn was indeed a mama's boy at heart and despite his tough exterior he would never deny it.

"Thanks for everything Mom."

"I didn't do anything except look after my boys," she explained with a warm smile. Hope soon turned her attention to Belle who was standing off to the side with Isaac and Joshua. When Hope extended her hand to her, Belle walked to her and Hope pulled her in for a motherly hug. As she released her, Hope took Belle's hand and held onto Shawn's. "You take good care of my boy," Hope smiled. "You help soften him up a little," she added teasingly. Her words made Shawn blush once again much to his dislike.

"I'll try my best," Belle assured.

"Mom, we got to get going, or we'll miss our flight," Isaac told her.

"He's right Mom," Shawn added.

"Ok, well let's get inside. At least I know you're in good hands," Hope said to Shawn while giving Belle's hand a gentle squeeze.

Shawn kissed his mother on the cheek and hugged her once again. He then scooped Josh up in his arms and was quick to tickle him. His little squeals made Shawn laugh. "Ok, champ you keep taking good care of your Grandma. Be good and try not to give her too much trouble."

"Ok," Josh said, nodding his head eagerly.

Shawn continued to talk with him, smother him with sloppy kisses and tickle him. He was so natural with Josh, that it amazed Belle. He would be a great father one day. His heart was so big and he had so much love to give she couldn't feel any luckier than to have him in her life. When Hope, Isaac, and Josh finally disappeared into the airport, Belle could see how their departure instantly affected him. Belle touched his shoulder gently and her hand slowly ran down his back in a soothing caress.

"Come on sweetie," she said softly. "We should get going."

"Yeah," he agreed in a barely audible voice. They hopped into his car, the car he purchased on a whim a few weeks ago. The motorcycle wasn't very practical since Belle refused to go on it most of the time since she was usually not dressed appropriately. So Shawn decided to get the next best thing, a convertible.
__________
Shawn sat at the table in Belle's kitchen along with her and Nicholas. They had been talking about random things. It was a chance for Shawn to get to know Nicholas a little better, and the two got along rather quickly and easily.

"So what are you two going to do once you move back to the city Shawn?" Nicholas asked curiously.

His question was met by blank stares from both Belle and Shawn, then the two stared at each other, unsure of what to say.

After a moment Shawn replied. "I'll come down here as much as possible to see Belle. We haven't really talked about it but I don't think it's much of a problem. During the off season we'll both have more time and during the season well... we'll just have to try harder." He looked at Belle whose gaze had changed from initial confusion to just plain wonderment as she listened to him talk. "Right boss?" he asked with a growing smirk.

"That's just a hurdle we'll get over," Belle added and placed her hand on top of his which was resting on the table. He raised her hand to his lips and kissed her fingers gently then opened her hand so her palm touched his cheek. He held her eyes with his consuming gaze. It was an understatement that they would get over the hurdle, they were both ready, willing, and able to conquer it.

When Shawn captured Belle's lips for a sweet kiss, Nicholas let out a loud groan.

"Thank God my room is on the opposite end of yours in this house. You two just don't quit do you?"

"Hush up Nicky!"

"Nicky?" Shawn asked puzzled by the juvenile nickname.

"That's what I called him when we were little. He hates it now, that's why I use it on occasion - when I want him to be good." Belle explained to Shawn then looked at Nicholas and proceeded to stick out her tongue at him.

"You two really do act like brother and sister," Shawn observed. He relaxed in his seat and put his arm around Belle's shoulder, pulling her close to him.

"Well, we're both only children and we were both shoved off to the same boarding school on a whole other continent, we grew to depend on each other," Nicholas rationalized.

"That's right and I trust his opinion on so much, which is why I asked for his help," Belle added.

"You two have quite a challenge. Vince is a great manager. Has he given you any names of potential candidates?" Shawn asked.

"A few," Belle replied. "As much as I love Vince, I don't necessarily want another manager like him and that's all he's recommended. We need a young guy. Someone who can make a longer commitment than someone just years from retiring."

"Well, if you want, I've got a suggestion," Shawn said.

"Any help we can get," Nicholas responded.

"My old college coach. Actually he was the assistant when I played but now he's head coach and he'd be perfect for the Hawks, in my humble opinion of course. I can make the contact for you if you want. No harm in talking with him."

Belle looked at Nicholas, and they both shrugged. "No harm."
_________
Hours later, Shawn and Belle lay in bed together ending the day the way it started, in a spooning position with Shawn's arm wrapped tightly around Belle. He kissed her shoulder softly, his lips brushing against her smooth skin.

"This is the best part of making up," Belle sighed in contentment.

"Hmm..." Shawn moaned in agreement. He continued to plant light kisses all along her shoulder to her neck. "At least we don't have to worry about Josh walking in and asking me all sorts of questions."

Belle giggled as she thought back to that morning and their unexpected visitor asking Shawn curious questions. "I don't think we have to worry about Nicholas barging in." She turned around in his arms to face him. Gently, she touched his cheek and guided him closer for a kiss. A kiss that quickly deepened. A kiss that led to greater arousal.

"We definitely don't need any interruptions," Shawn mumbled. He pulled Belle on top of him, his hands roamed the length of her body, electrifying her skin with his caress. They kissed with a growing intensity and their bodies ached with a burning need.

Shawn's lips roamed to her neck and Belle moaned softly in response. "I want to spend every night like this with you Shawn." She ran her fingers through his hair to keep him close. There was nothing better than this.

"You are the boss." He ended his perusal and cupped her face in both hands. His eyes were dark with desire as he gazed at her with so much love and want. "Whatever you want we can make happen." He spoke with all the seriousness in the world and he pulled her close, covering her mouth with his in a possessive and demanding kiss.

Belle knew what she wanted. She never wanted this feeling to end.

Chapter 29:

Six months later...

Shawn walked onto the field of Hawks Stadium with mixed emotions. It was a bittersweet experience for him. He had grown to really appreciate and respect the players on the minor league he now called his friends, but despite all that he was glad to be back in the majors, realizing his childhood dream.

Ahead of him he could see Philip practicing his pitching with Jason sixty feet ahead to catch. Shawn still felt he owed a lot to those two. Their help with Isaac had meant more to him than either could ever know.

"Hey Preppy!" Shawn called out as he approached the two.

Philip whipped his head around with an immediate frown which slowly changed into a wide grin which he couldn't hide no matter what.

"I thought you stopped calling me that?" Philip asked. He knew Shawn was joking, unlike a year ago when he said it with all the seriousness in the world.

"I did, but it has a different meaning now," Shawn replied as they greeted each other with a hand shake and strong pat on the back.

"Well if it isn't the big time major leaguer!" Jason whooped and joined the two. He and Shawn greeted each other. "Or should I say big time TV star. We saw your interview last week. And your words about Miss Belle almost brought a tear to my eye." Jason batted his eyelashes mockingly and they all laughed.


A week ago

"Welcome folks to the Sports Hour, I'm your host Duncan Knight and my guest tonight is none other than Shawn Brady, baseball rebel turned minor league softie."

Shawn instantly frowned at the introduction but tried not to get upset.

"Welcome Shawn. It's good to have you."

"It's good to be here."

"I hope you feel that way when I'm done with you," he chuckled. "So you start spring training in Florida in two weeks. How does it feel to be back with the team?"

"I'm really excited about it. I've been waiting patiently to get back to the majors."

"But the Hawks didn't treat you too bad. You had a successful run with the team and they made it to the playoffs for the first time in years. Most would say you had a lot to do with that."

"I don't know about that. The guys on that team are great and have a lot of talent. If I had anything to do with their success it's only because I was just the piece that helped them all click. They did it as a team. I played a small part."

"Awfully humble. Well despite that, there was something else positive that came out of your time in the minors," Duncan said, giving Shawn a knowing look. "Your resulting relationship with president and owner, Belle Black obviously didn't hurt."

"Obviously," Shawn grinned. "Without going into any great detail about my relationship with Belle because it is extremely private, I will say that when I was with the Hawks I was mad at first at the situation and angry with myself for letting it get that far. What made it bearable and what allowed me to change for the better was Belle's friendship and love. For that, I will always be indebted to her. She's the most beautiful woman I know, next to my mother of course."

"Of course. Well, it's time for a commercial break. We'll be back with more from Shawn Brady and your calls. Stay tuned."

After the cue from the director, Duncan's phony smile quickly faded and he yelled something to his assistant standing nearby. Belle sneaked up to the set, practically on the verge of crying after hearing Shawn's words.

"How am I doing?"

"Wonderful," Belle told him sincerely.

"I'm not so nervous anymore," he said with a silly grin.

"Good. I'm glad to hear it." She kissed him softly on the cheek. "I'll see you during the next break."

"Alright. Thanks for being here."

"There's nowhere else I'd be. I love you."

"I love you," he said with emphasis and planted a soft kiss on her lips. He watched her scoot off the set and settle behind the cameras once again. He couldn't help but think how Belle was in for the surprise of her life. The plans had been made, and Belle didn't have a clue.



"Almost
cried?" Philip questioned. "This cowboy was bawling like a baby."

"I'm sure he was. So are you two ready? Belle is in her office talking with your new manager. You guys are really going to like Jim Tucker."

"I hear you recommended him," Philip said.

"I tried to help out the team. You guys deserve a strong manager to follow Vince, but we can talk about that later. Let's see if your pitching has gotten any better," Shawn said with an emerging grin. Pulling a pair of gloves out of his back pocket he slid them on. Philip returned to his position on the mound and Jason settled behind home plate while Shawn grabbed a bat and nearby helmet. He soon positioned himself and settled into an easy stance.

For the next fifteen minutes, they practiced together and in time Shawn saw the familiar walk of the petite blonde he called his girlfriend. "Here we go," Shawn muttered. He could tell she wasn't all too pleased with his impromptu practice. "One more Phil," he called out and Phil pitched one more time to him before Belle reached them. After hitting a line drive that could have easily been a double in a game, Shawn couldn't hide the smug grin slapped on his face.

"Shawn Brady what do you think you're doing?" Belle asked with great attitude. Her voice was tight and her body tense. Shawn hadn't seen her this upset with him since they first met. She wasn't too happy about this situation. She stood in front of him, her hands folded across her chest and her eyes narrowing in on him in annoyance.

"We're just horsing around that's all."

"You're practicing without wearing your brace," she corrected. "You could get hurt." Shawn looked at her with such an easygoing smirk, it only annoyed her further. "And stop looking at me like that. You need to be serious about this Shawn."

"I know. I'm sorry. I'll be more careful," he conceded. He pouted slightly and looked at her with puppy dog eyes. "Forgive me?"

"God Shawn," Philip scoffed. "You are so whipped! Let's play some ball for crying out loud!"

Shawn removed his helmet and slipped off his gloves, dumping them inside. "No, I'm finished guys. Belle's right. I shouldn't take any chances, but..." Shawn looked at Belle with a mischievous grin that made her know he was up to something. "But I think we should give the boss a chance to show us what she's made of."

"You have got to be kidding me," Belle said, not budging an inch.

"Come on Miss Belle! Show us what you got!" Jason goaded.

"I want to see if any of my skills have rubbed off on you," Shawn told her in a low voice. "Don't you want to see if you've improved since your last batting practice?"

"Is this a challenge?" Belle asked with a gleam in her eyes.

"Are you going to accept it?"

"You bet I will," she said grabbing the bat from his hand. "Come on Philip."

"Take it easy alright Phil. She's your boss and my woman so you have a lot to worry about if you don't," he warned. Belle took her position next to home plate and Shawn walked behind her placing his hands on her hips. "Your stance is perfect," he whispered in her ear. He guided his hands up her body to her shoulders then let them move slowly down her arms to her hands. "You're like a pro."

"I learned from the best." She looked at him over her shoulder and smiled. "Now move."

He put his hands up and took a step back. "Whatever you want boss," he grinned.

Philip threw the first pitch - actually a light toss, that Belle easily hit. After a couple more, Belle was pleased but not nearly as much as Shawn who watched her in amazement.

"I think I've proven my point," Belle said.

"Just one more," Shawn insisted. Belle was up for the challenge and Philip reached into the bucket of balls and sneakily rested the object in his glove. Shawn looked at Philip and nodded his head, Philip did the same and the plan was underway.

The wind up and the pitch.

It was too high. Belle didn't swing the bat much to Shawn's relief.

"What's the big idea?" Shawn complained. "That was such a bad pitch Phil and ..."

"It's not even a ball!" Jason quickly interrupted in surprise.

"WHAT?! I warned you Kiriakis," Shawn growled. "Let me get a look at that Jase," Shawn requested in a gruff tone. He all of snatched the object out of Jason's hand.

Belle stood there confused as she looked on at Shawn and Jason growing upset and Philip with a perplexed look on his face. She didn't know what was happening and then all of a sudden Shawn was standing in front of her with his hand open revealing the ball Philip had pitched. Belle went instantly numb and she unintentionally released the bat from her hand. It dropped to the ground in a thud. Her eyes widened at the sight of the small gray ring box resting on Shawn's palm. She looked up at him in shock and he grinned nervously then dropped to one knee.

Fresh tears filled her eyes at the sight of him on bended knee. He snapped the box open revealing the dazzling princess cut diamond with a platinum band.

"Oh Shawn," she whispered.

"Belle, it's been almost a year since that first time I laid eyes on you. That day when I rode in here angry at the world but then I saw you and I knew there wasn't a reason for me to be angry anymore. You mean more to me than you'll ever know and I want to spend the rest of my life showing you how much I love you and how grateful I am for all that you've given me. Belle, make me the happiest man alive. Say you'll marry me."

Belle smiled the most radiant smile and nodded her head. "Yes Shawn. YES!"

Shawn took the ring out and slipped it on her finger with little effort. He wrapped his arms around her for a tight hug. Lifting her up in his strong hold he swung her around, the two of them laughing together from sheer happiness. He put her down and cupped her face gently, gazing into her eyes adoringly before kissing her softly and sweetly. "This is how it's going to be Belle," he whispered. "You and me together ... always." Their lips met once more for a deeper, slower and more sensual kiss that left Belle weak.

Moments later the sound of a wail interrupted them and they both glanced over to see Jason wiping his eyes and bawling uncontrollably. "That was so beautiful," he blubbered with a loud sniffle.

Shawn and Belle chuckled at seeing Jason emotional. It was definitely a sight to see. They remained close together in an embrace. Shawn kissed Belle gently on the temple and kept his arms around her. "Do we have to invite him to the wedding?" he asked.

"It wouldn't be the same without him," Belle giggled. "Who else will lead the dancing at the reception?"

"Good point. That's why you're the boss."





Three years later ...

The press conference was well underway. Shawn sat next to Belle, holding her hand under the table. Jim Tucker, manager of the Hawks sat on his other side. The cameras flashed and the reporters were bombarding him with questions.

"Why are you quitting Shawn?"

"I'm not quitting, I'm just moving on. I played for three years after doctors said I wouldn't play again so I've accomplished my goal. Winning the pennant, playing in the World Series, it's all been a dream come true but the point is my arm hasn't been quite the same. I don't want to push my luck and ultimately lose the use of it so I'm ending it all now. I want to be closer to my wife, our baby girl and our little one on the way," he said glancing down at Belle's rounded tummy. "It's just time and working with Jim and the coaching staff of the Hawks as an assistant is what I need right now."

"Belle how do you feel about this?"

"How else? I'm happy my husband is going to be home more. As long as we've known each other we've never had the luxury of being together for most of the year, we've always had the season interrupt things so it'll be nice. At least I think so," she added with a laugh. "Who knows, he might get on my nerves," she joked and the room full of reporters laughed with her.

"Do you know if you're having a boy or a girl?"

"A boy!" Shawn said proudly. "We already have a little owner, now we're having a little slugger. Can't ask for more than that," he grinned. "Can we sweetheart?" he asked while putting his arm around Belle's shoulder.

"No. Not at all."

"Shawn are you ever going to share with us how you and Belle first got involved?"

Shawn looked at Belle with his familiar dark, consuming gaze that no matter how many times she saw it, she became a puddle of mush. His eyes never left hers. "All I did was ask her out for drinks."


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

October 24th, 2004, 5:09 pm #10

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Love In The Spotlight

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

I disclaim.
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