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

October 21st, 2004, 3:46 pm #1



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

October 21st, 2004, 3:49 pm #2

Pat's Fics


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

October 21st, 2004, 3:50 pm #3

No Regrets

A Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC-17.

This is my version of the reality dating show. To make the timeline fit so the events could culminate on June 3rd you’ll have to imagine that the show started long before it actually did start airing on our screens.

No Regrets – A Short Story

June 3, 2003 The Horton Cabin

Belle walked through the cabin checking that everything was in place. She glanced down nervously at her watch. If all went according to plan Shawn should be here in a few hours. She would call Hope a little later to find out if their little plan was working.

Belle sat on the well worn couch and dropped her head into hands. She could feel a fresh batch of tears beginning to well in her eyes. This had to work. She couldn’t lose Shawn. She sighed heavily as she got off the couch and grabbed her towel and shampoo and headed out to the outdoor shower.

As she stood under the spray of tepid water shampooing her hair she thought back to the events of the last couple of days. The continuing publicity for Love Is Blind was wearing her down. Being in the public eye as she ‘dated’ Phillip Kiriakis was a severe annoyance. She wanted out in the worst way but for Mimi’s sake she had to go on with the show. Damn it, she should have had an attorney look the contract over before she had signed it. Buried in legalese there was a clause that stated if the winner refused to do the required publicity all moneys that had been paid were forfeit and the production company had to be reimbursed. She could care less about having to return the fifty thousand dollars. She hadn’t touched it as yet but Mimi had spent the entire amount.

Flashback – Dotcom June 1

“Hi, Mimi. I’m glad you could meet me.” Belle smiled as her friend slid into the booth across from her.

“Why aren’t you getting ready for the big romantic date with Phillip tonight that Gabi has all set up?” Mimi placed her order as the waitress came over.

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, Meems.” Belle chewed at her bottom lip, not quite knowing how to broach the subject without Mimi causing a scene.

“It’s too bad that Gabi won’t let Shawn and Maya double date with you both any longer. Do you get the idea that Maya is after Shawn? I do. But I’m sure you have nothing to worry about. Shawn’s crazy about you. He just tolerates Maya as a means to an end. Let’s face it, if he didn’t date her he’d never have a chance to be seen out in public with you.”

Belle listened in amazement as her best friend talked away a mile a minute without seeming to take a breath.

“Shawn seems to be a little tense lately. Do you get…”

“Mimi. I’m quitting.” Belle knew she’d never get a word in edgewise. She hoped her words would penetrate Mimi’s consciousness.

“…the same idea…quitting? What are you quitting?”

“I can’t do this anymore,” Belle said softly.

“Do what? Drink double mocha latte’s?” Mimi was genuinely confused.

“The publicity. Dating Phillip for Love Is Blind.” Belle said flatly.

“What? You have to. We’re big TV stars, Belle. You love it. I love it. So you have to date a serious hunk like Phillip. It’s not as if that is any big hardship.”

“It is a hardship, Mimi. You just don’t understand.”

“I understand perfectly, Belle. You just don’t want to share the spotlight with me any longer. The entire time we’ve know each other you’ve always been center stage on your own and now that I have a chance to shine along with you, you’re jealous.”

Belle was growing annoyed with Mimi. She was her dearest friend in the world but she had a tendency to make everything about her. “You know me better, Mimi. This is not about you it’s about Shawn and me.”

“What about you and Shawn?”

“This is beginning to take a toll on our relationship. I can’t let anything come between Shawn and I. This ends today, Mimi.” She looked up and noticed Gabi looking around. “Over here, Gabi.”

“Belle, please don’t do this.” Mimi begged. She loved being in the spotlight and didn’t want to give it up.

“Why aren’t you getting yourself all dolled up for your date? You know that tonight is the night that Phillip is going to ask you to spend the weekend with him at Green Mountain Lodge. The viewers are anxious for you two to become lovers.”

“Gabi…” Belle protested.

“Go for it, Belle. Forget about that drag of a boyfriend you have and enjoy Phillip. He’s hot and you two hitting the sheets would send the rating sky-rocketing.”

“I’m not even going to dignify that statement with a response. I called you here to tell you I’m quitting. I will not be doing any more publicity or going on dates with Phillip for the show any longer. It ends now.”

“I don’t think so, Missy,” Gabi snapped at Belle. “You signed a contract. In case you didn’t read the fine print, if you quit, both you and the other two ladies will have to forfeit the money you were paid to do the show. You’ll have to reimburse the production company.”

“You mean give back the fifty thousand dollars,” Mimi gasped.


“I can’t. I spent it all already,” Mimi mumbled.

Belle’s heart sank.

“Belle, please. You have to keep doing the show. Where am I going to come up with the money to pay them back?”

“Mimi. Are you telling me to sleep with Phillip?”

“No. I wouldn’t ask you to do that. They can’t force you to have sex with him. They just want the viewers to think that you two are getting it on.”

“That’s disgusting. Shawn will explode when he hears about this.”

“You can handle him, Belle. You seem to have him wrapped around your little finger,” Gabi snidely remarked. “Now it’s time to head over to wardrobe and makeup.”

Belle gave in. Shawn is going to be furious when he watches this date.

Later That Night…

Belle leaned against her dorm room door wearily. She reached down to slip off the four inch stiletto heeled sandals she had been wearing for evening of dining and dancing at Tuscany. She couldn’t wait to get out the black dress she had been forced to wear. It was a very sexy dress and she would have been happy to wear it on a private date with Shawn. This had been anything but private and the date had been with Phillip.

She walked towards her bed searching for her robe. What she really wanted was a long soak in a hot tub but she was going to have to make do with a quick shower. As she went to her closet to get a towel she heard her door being opened and then slammed shut. She didn’t have to look to see who it was. Shawn had been at Tuscany watching the entire time. She had felt his eyes following every move that Phil and she had made. She could feel his eyes boring into her as Phillip had caressed her back that had been left bare by the revealing dress. She had felt his anger rising. She had seen him storm out of the restaurant when Phillip had told Belle that he had made arrangements for them to spend the weekend together at Green Mountain Lodge. Gabi’s snide comments hinting that this would be the moment when the lovebirds would finally consummate their relationship had probably sent his blood pressure sky high. She had all but guaranteed the viewing audience that Phil and Belle would be having sex. Belle had seen the look on Shawn’s face before he had bolted.

“Listen, Shawn…”

“Get out of that dress, Belle. Now!” Shawn growled.


“You heard me. I’m giving you two minutes to change. I’ll wait outside your door.”

Before she could say another word the door was being slammed shut yet again. She changed into a pair of jeans and tee shirt in record time. She opened the door.

Shawn was pacing furiously. He looked up and noticed her standing warily in her doorway. “Grab a jacket.”

“I’m really tired…”


Belle could see that Shawn was too angry to be appeased so she did as he asked. “Where are we going?”

He didn’t say a word as he led her out to the truck. One glance at his clenched jaw and that muscle in that jaw twitching erratically was enough warning. She didn’t say a word. Neither did she.

She felt a little better when he stopped the truck at Lookout Point. Their spot. Maybe he just wants to be alone. That illusion got shattered in record time as he pulled her out of the truck.

“You are not going to Green Mountain Lodge with Phillip. It’s not even open for discussion.”

That was not the right thing to say to her. Her back was immediately up, her eyes spitting fire matching the blaze in his. Shawn recognized he had made a tactical error but damn it, enough was enough!

“I don’t want you to go, Belle. The thought of you spending two nights alone in a room at a lover’s resort with Phillip makes me feel sick to my stomach,” he lowered his voice.

Belle felt guilty but still a bit angry. “Don’t you trust me, Shawn? I love you. I’m not going to have sex with Phillip just because we’re thrown together in a hotel room by a stupid dating show.”

Shawn grabbed Belle’s hands. “Belle, you know I trust you. I don’t trust Phillip.”

Belle yanked her hands away from Shawn. “Oh, Shawn. Please. Let’s not go there again. This jealousy of yours is getting old, fast. Phillip is not interested in me. This is just publicity for the show, part of our contract. We’re friends, we’re all friends.”

Shawn exploded. “You are so naïve and gullible, Belle. Phillip is playing you and you’re falling for it hook, line and sinker. When are you going to wake up? He wants you for himself. He wants to break us up.”

“Are you telling me I’m stupid, Shawn?” Belle was shouting now.

“Well if the shoe fits…”

“Take me home, now.”

“Oh, sure. Run, Belle. You’re good at that aren’t you? We’re not going until this is settled once and for all.” Shawn pocketed the keys to the truck and grabbed her arm as she tried to walk away.

“Settled, Shawn? You mean until I agree to your terms, right?”

“However you choose to look at Belle. You are not going to that resort with Phillip.”

“And what are you going to do about it if I do?” Belle taunted.

Shawn dropped her hand and clasped her upper arms, forcing her to look into his eyes. “If you go, we’re over. Done,” he added for finality, “for good.”

Belle swallowed hard. She could tell by the look in his eyes that he meant it. She loved him and she didn’t want to lose him especially when she knew he was wrong. She had to reason with him. She explained the terms of the contract that she had been made aware of earlier in the day. She explained how Mimi had begged her not to quit.

Shawn’s anger drained but he was still adamant that she not go. He was willing to let Belle try and talk Phillip into using the Marines as an excuse to get out of it.

“So if we can’t get out of it, we’ll still be okay when I get back, right?” Belle asked hesitantly when they had climbed back into the truck.

Shawn turned to her. “If I gave you that impression, I’m sorry. What I said earlier stands. If you go to Green Mountain Lodge with Phillip, we’re through.”

Early Morning June 3

Belle had done everything she could think of to get out of going to Green Mountain Lodge. Her dad’s lawyer had looked over the contract and told her that there were no loop holes. Her dad had refused to pay back Mimi’s share of the prize money stating that this was a valuable lesson that Belle needed to learn. Never sign something without reading every word. That’s one lesson that was etched in her brain.

She had talked to Shawn before he left the dorm room this morning to go to work at Mickey’s office. There were summer classes that several students were taking including Shawn and Belle. They had both planned to graduate early if at all possible. Anyone taking summer classes had been allowed to remain on campus. Shawn’s position hadn’t changed. He was adamant that she not go on this trip stressing again that he trusted her but he did not trust Phillip. She had begged him to reconsider but they had ended up having a huge fight before he left.

She fingered the purity ring wondering if she would be taking it off soon. How was she going to be able to remain living so close to Shawn if he followed through on his threat, no on his promise. He had meant what he said.

A feeling of resolve overcame her. She was going to fix this. She was going to convince Phillip to get this out of this weekend trip without violating their contract. All she had to do was find out where Phillip was.

She had finally been able to find out through Henderson that Phil had stopped by for breakfast and he happened to mention in Henderson’s presence that he had to meet someone at the pier at nine before heading back to the base.

Belle was deep in thought trying to come up with the best way to approach Phillip. He would help her. He cared for both her and Shawn. Heck, Shawn was his best friend. She was sure he would come up with the perfect solution. She could see Phillip in the distance, his back to her. She couldn’t see who he was meeting with. She decided to wait until he was done so she stepped back under the pier so she wouldn’t be seen if someone walked by. Phillip’s voice carried and she heard him ask his companion, “You know exactly what to do, right?”

Belle felt uneasy. Maybe this was part of some mission for the Marines and she shouldn’t overhear it. She was about to move further downwind from them when she recognized the voice of the woman responding, “Oh course I do. I’ve got just as much at stake as you do.”

Maya? Why is Phillip meeting with Maya? Belle quietly positioned herself closer to them staying hidden behind the huge posts supporting the pier.

“Yeah, you’ll get Shawn and I’ll finally get Belle. I can’t believe she loves that loser. I know we’re related but I’m so much better for her than he is, I just have to make her see that.”

“Well waking up naked in bed with you tomorrow morning will start her on that road,” Maya chuckled.

“Yeah. I’ll slip her the drug and then when she passes out, I’ll strip her naked and then myself. In the morning I’ll make her think that we made passionate love,” Phillip laughed. “She’s going to be horrified and will break up with Shawn. Those purity rings just made this way too easy. Belle is too honourable a woman to stay with Shawn after she breaks her solemn promise to him.”

“I’ll convince Shawn to go up to Green Mountain Lodge to talk to Belle one more time. When you hear the key in the door you make it look like you and Belle are in the throes of passion. Knowing Shawn he’ll be completely devastated. I’ll convince him to make love to me. So even though Belle technically won’t break her vow to Shawn tonight, I’m going to make sure he breaks his.”

“Come on, Maya. I’ll buy you a quick cup of coffee before I head back to the base. This is a great day. We’re finally going to get what we’ve both wanted since the beginning, the destruction of Shawn and Belle. Paying Gabi and the production company to come up with this dating game show and then pushing Belle and I together is going to be worth every penny of the small fortune it’s costing me.”

End Flashback

Belle stepped out of the shower and made her way back into the cabin. This has to work. If everything goes as planned Phillip and Maya would be exposed along with Gabi on national TV tomorrow morning.

She had been devastated, shocked and then filled with anger after Phillip and Maya had walked away. It hadn’t taken her long to formulate a plan. She called Brady, Rex and Mimi to meet up with her.

She told them everything. Rex and Mimi agreed to help her. They were going to be instrumental in bringing down Gabi, Phillip and Maya. Mimi understood the importance of what she had to do and Belle was confident that Rex would make sure everything went smoothly.

Convincing Brady to help her had been a lot harder. She knew he found it hard to help his little sister set up the ultimate seduction scene. He didn’t even want to acknowledge that his sister was remotely close to the age where she would be contemplating sleeping with her boyfriend. She had to gently remind him that she was the same age as Chloe. She chuckled at his reaction to that statement. Suffice it to say there had been no further argument from him.

Hope had completely understood. She was going to get Shawn to the cabin and she was going to keep Maya away from him until she needed her to head to the Lodge.

Fancy Face II

Shawn silently cursed as be brought the boat into the dock. He had to get this over and done with. He was going to Green Mountain Lodge to confront Phillip right on national TV. He could care less what Gabi had to say any longer. Before this evening was done he was going to make sure that all the viewers of Love Is Blind knew exactly how much a farce that show really was. He was going to proclaim his love for Belle in front of the entire viewing audience and she had damn well better back him up.

He had told his mother about the ultimatum he had given Belle and much to his surprise she had been furious with him. After he had calmed down and listened to her he came to the realisation that she was right. He would follow the advice she had given him. She told him to go to the Lodge and have it out with Phil in full view of the cameras. That way if Phillip was really up to something like Shawn suspected his schemes would go up in smoke once everyone knew that Shawn and Belle were in love and had been in love for the entire run of the show.

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of his cell phone ringing. “What?” he snapped into the phone.

“Shawn, sweetie. Are you at Smith Island yet?”

“Just docked, mom. I’m mooring the boat now.”

“Listen, I forgot to tell you that I left an envelope with a list of things that Gran wants you to check. You’ll find it in the cupboard drawer closest to the fridge.”

“You just asked me to do this an hour ago, why didn’t you give me the list at the house,” Shawn asked.

Hope had to think fast. “Because I talked to your Gran this morning and I was just going to phone and ask you to do it. I was running errands this morning so I left the list on the boat to save you the trip out to the house. If I knew you were going to drop by I would have kept it and given it to you.”

“Oh, all right. I have to drop off now, Mom. I want to check the cabin and get back to Salem so I can head out to Green Mountain Lodge.”

“Sure thing, Shawn. Remember my advice. I love you.”

Shawn sighed. “I love you too, Mom.”

Shawn made his way to the galley of the boat and pulled out the envelope. He recognized the handwriting. It wasn’t his Gran’s, it was Belle’s. He tore the envelope open with shaking fingers and pulled out the folded piece of paper.


You were right. There’s nothing more important to me in the world than you. I hope you can forgive me. To show you just how committed to you I am,I want you to open the closet and put on the clothes you find hanging there.

Please don’t refuse me, Shawn. I promise that if you do this one thing for me, you will never regret it.

Once you’ve changed, come to the cabin.

All my love,

Your Belle

Shawn stood outside the door of the cabin. He hesitated. Am I supposed to knock or just go in? He looked down at his polished shoes. Why did she have him change into a suit and tie? What’s going on?

Before he could decide what to do he heard her call out that the door was open.

He quickly opened it and entered. He gasped at the scene in front of him. There were hundreds of lit candles and flowers everywhere. Soft music played in the background. He slowly made his way to the front of the fireplace. “Belle?”

“I’ll be out in a sec, Shawn.”

“Why aren’t you out at the Lodge? Why aren’t you on your date with Phillip?” he asked.

“Because there’s no where I would rather be than here with you,” she said softly as she came into the room.

Shawn could barely breathe. Her exquisite beauty literally took his breath away. He couldn’t remember ever seeing her look more beautiful than she did at this moment. Her blonde hair was pinned up with several long, curls cascading around her ears and shoulders. She had a white gardenia pinned to her hair. She was wearing a beautiful white lace dress, elegant and stylish. It was very simple in it’s design but stunning all the same. Wide straps and a square necklace with a fitted waist. If he didn’t know better he would describe her as a bride.

“What’s going on Belle?”

“I have something I wanted to ask you Shawn and I couldn’t think of any place that was more appropriate than here.”

“I don’t get it, Belle. What do you want to ask and why do you want it to be here?”


He was shocked when she knelt on one knee and pulled his hand into hers. “Belle, what are you doing? Get up, please.”

“Shawn, would you marry me?”

“Mar...marry you?” he croaked.

“Yes. Marry me right here, right now. Symbolically of course but a marriage all the same.”

He pulled her to her feet struggling to comprehend what she was getting at.

“Belle, I don’t understand. How can we get married? We don’t have a license or…”

She interrupted. “Not legally, Shawn. Just you and I exchanging vows with God as our witness. I want to become your wife in every way possible tonight.”

Shawn understood. “Belle, I love that you want to show me how much you love me. I’ve never doubted that or never stopped trusting you. I went too far with my ultimatum about the weekend with Phil but I will not apologise for not trusting him.”

“You were right about Phil all along Shawn. I will never dismiss your judgements so easily ever again. Now will you or won’t you?” she smiled.

“Belle, I know how much waiting until your wedding night to make love means to you. We can wait. Don’t get me wrong. I want you so badly, Belle. I just don’t want you to have any regrets. Besides that’s why we’re wearing these rings because we’re committed to one another and committed to waiting for marriage.”

Belle watched as he played with the purity ring. She knew how badly one part of him wanted to just crawl into bed with her and make love all night long. She knew that part was fighting with the part of him that had given all his reasons for not doing this. She had to make him understand.

“Shawn, look at me,” she whispered as she took his hands in hers. “These rings symbolise our love and commitment and yes, purity. We can exchange these rings again tonight and they will still symbolise the same things. Even if we make love the love we share will remain pure. A piece of paper signed by the state and the church isn’t going to change the way I feel about you. To be truthful, Shawn I already feel married to you. Nothing can make me feel more committed to you than I already do.”

He looked deep into her beautiful blue eyes. All he could see was love and devotion. He didn’t see a trace of doubt but he wanted to make sure. “Are you absolutely certain about this? I couldn’t bear it if you woke up in the morning and had regrets.”

“I promise you that I will have no regrets. My only regret is that it’s taking so long to convince you to marry me,” she teased.

“Let’s do it. Now I know how organised you are so where do I stand, what do I do, what do I say…”

She laughed as she threw her arms around him. “You’re right. I’m organised. I thought we would stand in front of the fireplace amongst all the flowers Brady and I arranged…”

“Brady helped you with this, Belle.” Shawn was shocked. “What did you tell him this was for? I can’t see him agreeing to help you if you knew what you had planned for tonight.”

“He knew and he understands. He trusts me and he trusts you, Shawn.”

Her words temporarily silenced Shawn. He silently vowed to live up to the trust that both Brady and Belle placed in him.

“Here’s my ring, Shawn.” She handed him her purity ring and he removed his and passed it to her. “I also copied some vows off the Internet that we can exchange and we can add a few words of our own as well. Are you ready to make me your wife, Shawn?”

Her words took his breath away again. “I believe I was born ready for this moment, Belle,” he stated solemnly.

“Oh, Shawn that is so sweet.”

He just rolled his eyes at her. “Come on, let’s get this show on the road.”

As he stood in front of the fireplace, Belle passed him a lit candle. She pointed to a single candle on the mantle. “I thought we’d start with a little symbolic ceremony. Both of us will use our candles to light the one on the mantle…”

“Symbolising that two lives are now becoming one.” Shawn finished her explanation. “That’s a beautiful sentiment, Belle.”

They joined hands as they each took their candles and joined the flames to light the candle. When the candle was burning brightly they extinguished their candles and set them aside. Belle reached for a small piece of paper on the mantle.

“You go first, Shawn.”

Shawn glanced down at the words before reading the vow. She couldn’t have chosen anything better than this. He quickly memorised the words so that he could hold her gaze as he made his vow to her. He clasped her left hand between the both of his hands.

I take you to be my partner.
To have and to hold from this day forward.
I give to you my unending love and devotion.
I promise to be true to you, to cherish you, and to share my thoughts,
hopes and dreams with you. I look forward to spending the rest of my life
with you, my best friend, Isabella. I will love you forever.

Tears filled her eyes as she repeated the vows he had just spoken.

I take you to be my partner.
To have and to hold from this day forward.
I give to you my unending love and devotion.
I promise to be true to you, to cherish you, and to share my thoughts,
hopes and dreams with you. I look forward to spending the rest of my life
with you, my best friend, Shawn Douglas. I will love you forever.

“This time I’ll go first, Shawn.” Her eyes glistened with unshed tears.

“I’ve loved you forever, Shawn. I honestly believe that I was put on this earth to love you. You are my best friend, the love of my life, my soul mate and soon to be my one and only lover. I promise you that I will be faithful to you in mind and body. I promise to be there for you through the good times and the bad. I can’t promise that we won’t have any arguments but I can promise that we will work through them together. I promise that my love for you will never fade. I will love you into eternity. I am so proud to become your wife. I love you Shawn Douglas Brady.”

The tears were streaming down her face but she glowed with happiness.

Shawn gently wiped her tears with his thumbs.

As his own eyes filled with tears he struggled to find his voice. “I feel like the luckiest man on earth. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve to be blessed with your love but I thank God every single day that I am. You and I were destined to be together. I think on some level I’ve always known that. It’s probably the reason it took me so long to admit my feelings for you. I promise to be the best husband, partner, friend, lover and hopefully someday in the future, father to our children that I could possibly be. I am so proud to become your husband. I love you, Isabella Black.”

He took her ring and placed it on her finger. “With God as our witness, Isabella, I take you to be my wife.”

She placed the ring on his finger. “With God as our witness, Shawn, I take you to be my husband.”

They melted into their first kiss as husband and wife.

Shawn was extremely nervous as he waited for Belle to emerge from the small washroom. She had asked him to turn down the bed as she changed. He really didn’t know if she expected him to remain fully dressed or if he should strip so he compromised. He removed his jacket, vest and tie and undid the buttons about halfway down his shirt. He also removed his shoes and socks.

He had a fire roaring in the fireplace to remove the chill coming from the cool breeze over the lake. He had poured them each a glass of sparkling cider and programmed several slow songs into the CD player in case she wanted to dance.

He looked up when he heard her enter the room. His heart leapt into his throat at the sight of her. She had brushed her hair and it was hanging loose around her shoulders, just the way he liked it. She was wearing a white satin and lace short night gown with a matching satin robe very loosely belted at the waist. He let his gaze drift down the front of her gown, to her silky sun-kissed thighs, to the tips of her frosted toenails. He swallowed hard.

She smiled shyly as she walked towards him. “Do you like what you see, Shawn?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Would you like to see more?”

He couldn’t speak so he just nodded.

She laughed nervously as her hands reached for the belt. Shawn joined in and between the two of them they got the belt loosened and the robe slid off her shoulders. Shawn threw it on to the couch.

She stood silently before him nervous and shy but also just a little bit proud that her body caused him to react in this fashion.

Shawn gulped. In the glow of the candlelight and the light from the fireplace, the gown was transparent.

As he gazed hungrily at her, Belle’s body began to react as well. She could feel her nipples harden and strain against the lace of her gown. She could also feel the wetness pooling between her thighs. She let her gaze wander down Shawn’s chest to the evidence of his erection. She suddenly wanted to feel his manhood pressed against her so she took the few steps to close the distance between them.

She undid the remaining buttons and pulled his shirt loose and as her palms pushed the shirt down his shoulders she started placing butterfly kisses on his shoulders and chest. Shawn sighed as he ran his hands slowing over her back that except for the two thin straps that criss-crossed in the centre was completely bare.

“Do you want to dance, Belle?” he whispered in her ear.

“Ah-huh,” she murmured against his neck as she wound her arms around his waist. They swayed to the music just content to be held by the other. Soon that wasn’t enough.

Shawn removed her arms from his waist and placed them behind his head as he pulled her close. He kissed her sweetly and gently for one long moment. His mouth hardened as he began to demand a deeper response from her. Belle complied. He ran his tongue over the seam of her lips, seeking entrance. She opened for him, her sigh of satisfaction filling him with a hunger he fought to control.

As Shawn’s tongue thrust inside her mouth, Belle sought to make contact with it using her own tongue. She laced her fingers into his deep brown hair and brought his mouth down heavier on hers. She ground her lower body against his for balance revelling in the feel of his hard on throbbing against her stomach.

She captured his tongue between her lips and suckled it, hard into her mouth. They both broke the kiss gasping for breath. She didn’t want to stop. She pressed small kisses against the sides of his mouth and then down to his jaw line. She stood on her tiptoes to reach his ear lobe. She nipped at it lightly before running her tongue inside his ear then following that with little warm puff of airs to dry it.

Shawn thought he would collapse from the sensations that were rocketing through his body. As her hand travelled over his face tracing the outline of his lips, he drew her thumb into his mouth.

She stopped what she was doing to lean back and watch him. Her eyes widened and her mouth formed into an oh shape as his tongue stroked her thumb slowly. As he drew it completely into his mouth both suckling and stroking it, Belle closed her eyes and swallowed hard. She could picture herself doing that as well but she wanted to do it to another part of his anatomy. Her eyes flew open when she realised where her thoughts had wandered.

Shawn released her thumb when he noticed the look of surprise in her eyes. He watched as her face reddened ever so slowly. “What’s wrong, Belle. Are you embarrassed by what I’m doing?” he teased.

She wasn’t going to hold anything back from him. “No, I was embarrassed by my own thoughts.”

“Whatever were you thinking of Belle to cause you to turn such a luscious red?”

She saw the twinkle of laughter in his eyes. She knew how to take care of that. She leaned in close and whispered to him the details of exactly what she had been thinking. She smiled as the hint of laughter was replaced with desire. His brown eyes were almost black with passion.

“Belle,” he whispered against her mouth. As they made love with their tongues, Shawn slid his fingers under the straps of her gown and slid them down her shoulders. He ended the kiss as the gown fell away from her body. Shawn’s heated gaze caressed her beautiful breasts with their swollen crests and then swept down to the golden curls at the juncture of her thighs. He groaned and she trembled but met his gaze confidently. “You are so beautiful,” he whispered.

She took one tiny step forward and kissed him. The feel of her jutting nipples against his rock hard chest was nearly his undoing. He needed to touch her. He dragged his lips from her and started kissing, nipping and licking his way down her neck. Belle moaned softly as she bent her neck to give him better access. He placed one hand in the small of her back propelling her closer to him.

She leaned backwards a bit grinding her core into his erection. Shawn could feel her heat as she could feel his. He kissed his way to her breasts. He licked her beaded nipple and blew softly against it before drawing it fully into his mouth. As his mouth pleasured one breast his fingers and thumb did the same to the other. Belle could feel herself growing wetter and wetter as she moved her hips restlessly against him seeking release from the sweet agony that was threatening to engulf her.

Shawn moved his mouth to the other nipple and Belle knew that she had to touch him. She wanted to see him naked but he wouldn’t stop driving her wild with his tongue, his mouth, his fingers. She mewed in protest when he moved her away from his body but gasped in shock and ecstasy as his mouth continued to assault her distended nipple and he allowed his hand to slide down her belly to her damp curls. He skimmed his fingers lightly over her mound gently urging her to part her legs. She widened her stance holding steadfastly to his upper arms so she wouldn’t lose her balance. Shawn parted her folds and ran his fingers over her as his thumb caressed her hardened bud. He slowly inserted one finger inside her as he switched his attention to her other breast. Belle was bucking against his hand seeking blessed relief. He could feel how wet she was and knew she was close to climaxing. He withdrew his finger and she sobbed her protest, “Shawn, please…” He thrust two fingers deep inside her and felt her tense. “Let it happen, Belle,” he coaxed. She opened up for him. The combination of his fingers deep inside her, stroking her where no man had ever touched her, his thumb pressing and squeezing her clit, his tongue and mouth licking and sucking her nipples drove her wild. She felt herself tense and then seem to float away as wave after wave of the most incredible intense feeling of pleasure exploded throughout her body.

She fought for breath and opened her eyes to Shawn’s beautiful face. Tears filled her eyes as a feeling of such intense love for this man, her husband filled every inch of her. “Thank you,” she whispered as she kissed him softly. He held her close as her body trembled against his.

When she felt her heartbeat return close to normal she began kissing his chest making her way to his erect nipple. She played with his nipples the same way he had done with hers, sucking, licking, blowing on them and even taking them between her teeth for gentle little bites causing him to moan slightly. She leaned back a bit to loosen his belt. Before she undid the clasp she traced the outline of his erection delicately with her fingers. Shawn breathed in heavily and tensed. He felt like crying when she removed her hand to undo the clasp and zipper. She tugged at his pants and boxers and slid them down at the same time. He heard her quick intake of breath when she saw his swollen member for the first time. She hesitating for a second before letting his pants and boxers drop to the floor. She looked up at him quickly and then back down to his penis which she was now holding in her hand. “You’re so big, Shawn. I …”

“Belle, we can stop anytime. We don’t have to do this.” Shawn reassured her.

“No, I don’t want to stop.” She wrapped her hand around his pulsing heat and begin to stroke him slowly, carefully, her moves hesitant. “It feels so soft and yet so hard,” she whispered in awe. She ran her hand down to the base and let her fingers cup the soft mass below. She slid her hand up and could feel the slickness seeping through at the tip of his penis. “I want you inside me, Shawn.”

He kissed her as he steered their way to the bed. Just as he was going to lay her down he stopped. “Belle, we can’t.” He was so frustrated he thought that he would scream.

Belle looked confused. “Don’t you want me, Shawn?”

He sat with her on the bed and wrapped his arms around her. “Of course I want you, Belle, but I’m not prepared. I don’t have any protection.”

“Oh, is that all. You had me worried for a minute, Shawn.”

“Belle, this is important. We’re not ready to have a baby just yet.”

“Shawn, just check the drawer of the night table. I told you I’m organised. I stopped off at the drug store before I came out here.”

He opened the drawer and his eyes widened. “Three boxes, Belle. I’m young and virile, but I’m not Superman,” he joked.

“We don’t have to use them all this weekend, Shawn. I’m sure they won’t go to waste. But I do expect you to use at least six before breakfast,” she teased.

He laughed at her as he laid her down on the bed growling in between kisses, “You won’t be able to walk tomorrow if we do it six times. Come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t be able to walk either.”

He stopped laughing and teasing as he tucked her hair behind her ears. “Why did you pick this place, Belle? You said it was perfect.”

“Because this cabin is part of your family therefore a part of you, Shawn. This is the place where my life on earth began. Both of us are coming full circle tonight. I’m becoming part of you and we’re beginning our life together.”

Shawn was very moved by her words. “Would you like to spend our official wedding night here as well, Belle?”

She nodded. Her eyes clouded over with desire. “Make love to me now, Shawn.”

He explored her body with his fingers and mouth and tongue. When she was wet and ready Shawn kissed his way from her breasts to her navel. Belle tried to stop him but he quieted her nerves by moving down to the tips of her toes. As he kissed his way up her inner thighs he gently nudged her legs farther apart. Belle didn’t realise it but she unconsciously raised her hips as his mouth lingered over her core, his warm breath tickling her damp curls. He gently parted her swollen lips and then ran his tongue over her repeatedly. As he sucked her hardened bud he inserted two fingers into her wet, tight passageway. Belle arched her hips as his tongue and fingers brought her to her second climax.

Shawn left his fingers still inside her as he kissed his way back up to her lips. She could taste herself on his lips and it excited her even further. When Shawn felt her moving against his fingers he withdrew them and reached for one of the foil packets on the nightstand. He quickly sheathed himself as she watched. As he positioned his erection at her passageway he locked his eyes on hers. “Are you sure, baby?”

“Yes, I’m sure.” To emphasise her need she rose up causing him to enter her a bit more. Shawn withdrew and then entered her slowly inch by inch. Belle moved restlessly against him. “Shawn…”

“Sorry, baby,” he murmured against her mouth as he withdrew and then with one thrust penetrated her barrier and entered her completely. She tensed for a moment and he stayed still within her until she started to move against him. It didn’t take them long to find a matching rhythm. The room was filled with the sound of their breathing, moans and kisses as they discovered the joy of becoming one. Shawn could feel Belle holding back waiting for him. “Look at me, Belle. I want to watch you when you come.” His words, the raspy sound of his incredibly sexy voice, the feel of his hot, swollen erection filling her, stretching her, his dark eyes full of love locked on hers sent her tumbling down the abyss.

Shawn could feel her as she came her wetness washing over his penis. He felt her small hands on his buttocks urging him deeper as she rose to meet him thrust for thrust. She wrapped her legs around him and he could feel her tight, vaginal muscles pulling against his erection helping him reach his climax. As he exploded inside her he cried out, “I love you, Mrs. Brady.”

They spent the rest of the night reaffirming their love with a break to have a quick bite to eat. Belle couldn’t resist teasing Shawn about the appetite he had built up. Her teasing ended up with him showing her exactly what he had an appetite for. She had to admit that she didn’t mind being the main course.

Early Morning June 4, 2003

Belle woke up as the alarm on her wrist watch sounded. Shawn grumbled. “Belle, why do you have the alarm set?”

“Don’t you want to know how I got out of spending the weekend with Phil?” she asked, as she wheeled the small portable TV close to the bed. Shawn watched in wonder as Gabi along with the camera crew made their way into Phil and Belle’s love nest as Gabi described it. The joke was on Gabi as she offered proof that Belle and Phil were indeed in love by having the camera pan to the very naked couple on the bed. Shawn burst out laughing at the look of horror on Gabi’s face when she realised that the couple was naked and that the couple turned out to be Phillip and Maya.

“What just happened? Phil and Maya?” Shawn couldn’t stop laughing.

Once Belle started talking, Shawn stopped laughing. She told him all about the conversation she had overheard on the docks. Shawn was simmering with anger by the time she was done. “I’m going to slug him, I swear to god, Belle.”

“I won’t stop you, Shawn. Just don’t do it in front of any witnesses. But I have a feeling Philly boy is going to have a lot of explaining to do when this is all made public.”

“He’ll just deny it. It will be your word against his.”

“Oh no, I had a little help in that department. Mimi and Rex helped. I told Mimi everything and she felt guilty for pressuring me to continue doing the show so she agreed to help. Rex wired her and made sure to stay close by so that Mimi didn’t falter. She went to Phillip pretending to be furious with me for quitting the show. She gave him the sob story about spending the money and not being able to repay it. She begged him to find a way to get me to continue the show even if it meant coming up with a way to break us up permanently. You know Phillip’s ego. He couldn’t resist telling Mimi that he had a plan to do that. And you know Mimi. She weaseled all the information out of him and got it on tape.”

“How do you know all this? We’ve been kind of busy all night. You didn’t sneak out and call her did you?”

“I know it worked because of what just happened. The drug wasn’t going to be used if Mimi hadn’t been successful. I think its sweet justice that Phillip fell victim to the drug that he meant to slip into my drink.”

“But Maya, how did you get her there?”

Belle smiled. “Your mom helped me that, Shawn.”

“Mom? Wow. I’m proud of you, Belle. You beat Phillip at his own game.”

“You shouldn’t be proud of me, Shawn. I had to go to these lengths because I didn’t trust your judgement. You warned me over and over that Phillip was not on the level and that he really wanted me but I dismissed your warnings as nothing more than petty jealousy. Can you ever forgive me?”

He reached over and shut the TV off and then cradled her in his arms. He kissed her forehead as his hand ran up and down her comfortingly. “There’s no need for forgiveness. I love you, Belle. Phillip was the one who caused this problem, not you. Besides, look at where all this led. Phillip’s deceit and lies just show me more and more how lucky we are. We share a love that most people will never know. Ours is a once in a lifetime love, Belle. A love to be nourished and cherished.”

He kissed her deeply.

“I agree, Shawn. I’m not going to waste another moment on thoughts of Phillip. We’ve been through a lot in our short lives and I’m sure we’ll have more obstacles and hardships to face in the future but I’m confident that we’ll get through it together. As I’m taking my final breath, my final thought will be…”

Shawn smiled and said the words at the same time she did, “No regrets.”

The End.

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

October 21st, 2004, 3:55 pm #4

Whispers Of The Soul

This is a Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC-17.

I disclaim - Some of the characters in this story belong to the owners of Days Of Our Lives - the rest are just part of my imagination. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is entirely concidental. I would also like to credit all the authors of the trashy, thoroughly enjoyable romance novels that I've read. They were my inspiration for the 'love scenes'.

Last edited by Mrs.B. on December 16th, 2007, 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

October 21st, 2004, 3:56 pm #5

Prologue - Chapter 4


January 2003, Hartley House

It was the day before the beginning of the second semester. Shawn and Rex’s dorm room had been repaired and refurnished after the damage done by the sprinklers the day of the Winter Solstice party. Shawn never noticed as he alternated between pacing the length of the room and sitting on his bed with his head bowed, silently berating himself. How could I have been so stupid? Why did I let Cassie convince me not to tell Belle the truth? Why did I push Belle away when I needed her more than I’ve ever needed her before? Oh God, how could I have hurt her again after I promised her in front of all of our friends that I would never do that again? Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Shawn stood, a look of firm resolve settling on his face, as he left his room to explain everything to Belle and beg for her forgiveness.

He drew a deep breath and knocked. A complete stranger answered the door. “Hi, I’m Shawn, I’m looking for Belle Black.”

Before the stranger could reply, Cassie pushed her aside, grabbed Shawn’s arm and pulled him inside. “Hi, Shawn,” she cooed, her eyes sparkling. “I’m so glad you’re here. What would you like to do, should we go to a movie, go for…”

Shawn jerked his arm away from Cassie as he interrupted her, “I’m not here to see you, Cassie. Where’s Belle?”

Cassie smirked, “Belle doesn’t live here anymore, Shawn.”

Shawn turned to leave.

“Where are you going Shawn?”

Shawn stopped and replied without turning around, “Not that it’s any of your business, Cassie, but I’m going to see Belle.”

“You’re going to New York?” she asked.

Shawn spun around. “New York, what do you mean New York? I’m going to see Belle at her home.”

Cassie smiled smugly, “You can go to her home, Shawn. You still won’t see Belle there. She transferred to NYU, she left yesterday. She understands that you and I are together now and I guess she just didn’t want to be reminded of her loss by having to face us daily. She now knows that you never really loved her and that I’m the only one for you.”

Shawn exploded and grabbed Cassie’s arms roughly, “Look at me, Cassie. Look me in the eyes.” Cassie lowered her face. Shawn shook her and forced her to look at him. “Listen to me, Cassie, listen carefully. I should have done this a long time ago. I love Belle, I will love Belle forever. I will never love you. I will never be with you. Love you,” he yelled. “Hell, I don’t even like you. Stay out of my life. Stay out of my way. Don’t even talk to me again, ever. Do you understand me?”

“You don’t mean that Shawn, you don’t love Belle, you love me.”

Shawn pushed her away. “I meant what I said, Cassie, stay away from me, stay away from Belle.”

Shawn’s tone of voice finally broke through to Cassie and the slamming of the door reinforced the fact that Shawn meant what he said. Cassie’s eyes iced over as she said softly, “You’ll never be with Belle, Shawn. I’ll make sure of that.”

Shawn tried calling Belle over the next few weeks, but she refused to take his calls. After mid-terms were done, Shawn flew to New York to convince Belle to see him. She had campus security escort him off campus under threat of arrest, if he returned.

Shawn came back to Salem to regroup. He poured out his heart to his Mom and Dad. He told them everything he should have told Belle after Colin Murphy’s murder. He told them how he had pushed her away because he thought he was protecting her. He didn’t want her caught in the cross-fire when the next enemy of the Brady’s came after them. He told them of the promise he had made to her, the promise he had broken. He told them by breaking that promise he had broken Belle’s heart and shattered her faith in him. Bo and Hope reassured him and his Dad gave him a piece of advice that Shawn clung to.

“Shawn, actions speak louder than words. You have to find a way to show Belle how much you love her.”

Shawn took his Dad’s advice. He took the diamonds he had been given as part of this sixteenth birthday gift, and went to the jeweller’s in Salem Place. He designed the setting of the engagement ring and matching wedding rings. The engagement ring, was a round solitaire diamond, the wedding rings would interlock and form a star. He was going to give her the moon and the stars he had promised her on that magical night spent on a beach in Puerto Rico.

He knew he couldn’t go back to NYU, so he would wait until Belle returned to Salem for Easter break. He would see her. Nothing or no one was going to stop him from showing his Isabella how much she meant to him, how much he loved her.

Shawn was despondent when he heard that Belle had decided not to return to Salem until the end of the semester. He found comfort in the fact that it was only a few short weeks until the end of the first year of college and she would be home for several months. Plenty of time for him to win back her trust and love.

Shawn never saw Belle again. She disappeared without a trace from the NYU campus on April 20, 2003.

Chapter 1

April 20, 2010 Spokane Washington

“Call for you on Line 3, Detective Brady.”

Shawn looked up. “Thanks, Josh.” He pressed the blinking light on his desk phone, “Detective Brady.”

“Hi, Shawn. How are you doing today?” the concerned voice of Bo Brady reached to him across the miles.

“Dad, don’t worry about me. This date is always hard on me, but I’ll make it through.”

“Shawn,” Bo hesitated. “I don’t want to make today any harder on you than it already is, but I thought it would be better if you heard this from me.”

Shawn immediately cut in, “What happened? Are mom and Zach okay? Do I need to come back to Salem?”

“Shawn, your mother and Zach are fine, we’re all fine. It’s about Belle.”

“Belle! Dad what’s the news, has she been found, is she okay, where is…”

“No, Belle hasn’t been found. I’m sorry, Shawn. I shouldn’t have blurted it out like that. I just wanted to let you know that John and Marlena gave the okay for Belle to be officially declared dead.” Bo paused, waiting for Shawn’s reaction. When there was no response, Bo continued, “Son, a memorial service is going to be held for Belle in a couple of days. Will you be attending?”

“No,” his response was harsh. “No, Dad, I won’t. I will not attend a memorial service for someone who is not dead.”

“Son, you need to accept that Belle is gone. You know that John searched the globe for her before he accepted that she was gone. There were no leads at the time of her disappearance – nothing, Shawn. For your sake, you need to accept that you will never see Belle again and move on with your life. Belle would want you to be happy, you know that. She would want you to find someone to love and share your life with, have children with, make a home with. She wouldn’t want you to spend your life without love.”

“Dad, do you remember when Larry Welch kidnapped Mom? Even when all the evidence pointed to her being dead, did you believe it?”

“Son, that was different. Your mother and I were connected, we share a great love…”

“Are you trying to tell me that I didn’t love Belle?”

“I’m not saying that you didn’t love her Shawn,” Bo said gently. “All I’m saying is that your mother and I had been together for years, we’re soul-mates. You had just turned nineteen when Belle disappeared. You were just dating, it’s not like you were married and had a family together.”

Shawn sighed. “Dad, I love you, but you don’t understand the depth of my love for Belle and despite what it looked like at the time, her love for me. Isabella and I are soul-mates. I know that she is not dead. I know this because I do not feel it in my soul. In my soul, I still feel her presence and I will find her.”

“What do you mean, you’re going to find her? Shawn, you’re not going to be able to find Belle…”

“Dad, I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to go, duty calls. Give my love to Mom and Zach. I’ll call you soon. ‘Bye.”

Bo heard the soft click of the receiver being set down. He turned to Hope, “I have this feeling our son is going to go looking for Belle. I should fly down to Spokane and try and talk some sense into him. Why won’t he accept the inevitable? Belle is dead, she’s never coming back.”

Hope pulled her husband close. “Ssh...Bo, he’ll be okay. You have to let him do this. He’ll have to come to terms with Belle’s disappearance in his own way. And if she is alive, he will find her. Those two were meant to be, just like you and I.”

Darkness had fallen early. Shawn glanced out the windows of the station house and noticed the sky darkened by rain clouds. He had spent the hours after the call from his Dad, reliving the past seven years. He recalled the night of the Winter Solstice party when he had been so close to making love with his Isabella. He could still recall how beautiful she had looked. There wasn’t anything about that night that he would ever forget. The feel of her silky hair when he held her head, the smoothness of her skin as he caressed her body. The feel of her lips on his lips, her tongue in his mouth, his in hers. How her naked body had shone in the glow of the candlelight. How she had moaned his name when he had taken one of her swollen nipples into his mouth and suckled it. He also remembered the shock of the water from the sprinkler system dousing them and killing the mood. He had remembered the special night they had planned for New Year’s Eve and how those plans had gone up in smoke with the murder of his cousin, Colin Murphy. He remembered how he had hurt Belle by pushing her away. He remembered his absolute panic when he heard that Belle had disappeared without a trace. He remembered his growing sense of fear and grief, as all attempts by the local authorities, FBI and ISA, had failed to turn up any leads or any explanation as to what had happened to Belle. He remembered his disbelief when the authorities decided that she had been so distraught over her break-up with Shawn, that she had committed suicide by jumping off of one of New York’s many bridges. They didn’t hold out much hope for a body ever being found. He was even more bewildered when John and Marlena accepted this conclusion. They tried to pacify him when he asked for an explanation by telling him they ‘forgave’ him. They pointed out that her purse, wallet with cash, credit cards, I.D. and cell phone along with all her belongings were still in her dorm room. He railed at them for ever believing Belle would commit suicide and hadn’t spoken to them since. He had finished college at his parent’s urging. He had transferred to Pepperdine because he could not bear to return to Salem U. After he graduated, he had tried to join both the FBI and the ISA with the intention of working from the inside to reopen Belle’s case. His application was denied by both agencies. He then joined the Spokane Police department where he made detective after two years on the force.

Shawn leaned back in his chair, thinking about his life now. Yes, there had been other women in his life since Belle’s disappearance, but he viewed them as a physical necessity, not as relationships. He was financially stable, in fact, he didn’t have to work another day in his life thanks to his Grandpa Vic’s trust fund. Shawn had received it when he turned twenty-one and the money had been wisely invested and the original amount had been duplicated ten times over.

He opened the word program on his desktop and typed up his letter of resignation. He printed it, signed it, placed it in an envelope and laid it in his desk drawer. Tomorrow, he would hand it in. The government, Belle’s family, his family, her friends – they all could give up on her. He never would.

Tomorrow, he vowed, he would start making his arrangements to begin his search. For the first time in years, he felt a glimmer of hope. He was going to find Belle, he was going to find his love. He could feel it.

The desk sergeant looked up in surprise to see a smiling, jovial Det. Brady saying good night as he walked out into the rainy night.

Chapter 2

Shawn never felt the rain that fell steadily from the leaden skies. He felt a lightness of spirit that he hadn’t felt since he had heard the news about Belle’s disappearance. He was firm in his resolve to find Belle. He knew that she was alive. He could feel her spirit. Granted, he didn’t feel her spirit all the time, but there were moments, when he felt her presence so strongly that he found himself searching the crowd for a glimpse of her. Sometimes her spirit visited him in the dead of night. It was these times that brought Shawn to his knees. He literally ached for her, her touch, her scent, her soft, angelic voice. He longed to gaze into her blue, blue eyes and lose himself in the look of absolute love and trust that he used to see reflected back at him. After being awakened, he could never fall back to sleep. The rest of the night would be spent sitting out on his deck, staring at the night sky, and remembering, reliving every special moment that he had shared with Belle. He would also wonder where she was and if she was thinking about him at this very moment in time – was that why he felt her presence so strongly? He worried that she was scared, alone, hurt and losing faith in him. Did she think that he had abandoned her yet again?

Shawn unlocked the door to his SUV and climbed in and headed out of Spokane. He lived in a cabin in the woods a few miles outside the entrance to Mt. Spokane State Park. He liked the isolation of living in the woods. It afforded him an escape from his lady acquaintances when they began demanding more from him than he was willing to give. Any time spent with a woman was in her bed at her residence or in a motel room and Shawn never spent the night with any of them. He didn’t have a phone at the cabin and he gave his cell number to no one except his immediate family and the precinct. As he pulled out of the police station parking lot, he knew he would have to begin the process of closing the cabin, possibly selling it, but he pushed those thoughts aside. His mind wandered back in time to the year Belle had disappeared, 2003.

2nd Second Semester, Salem U, 2003

After Cassie had dropped the bombshell about Belle’s transfer to NYU, Shawn moved out of the dorm and back home. He continued going to classes and going through the motions of being an everyday student. The few times Cassie attempted to approach him, Shawn either turned and went the other way or blatantly ignored her. He heard through Mimi that Cassie had started sending e-mails to Belle at NYU that described in glowing and lurid detail, the romance and sex life that she shared with Shawn. Belle had confided to Mimi that she couldn’t bear to hear about him in bed with someone else so she had blocked Cassie’s e-mail address. Unfortunately, that hadn’t stopped Cassie, she kept sending Belle mail using other student’s e-mail accounts or the library computers. Mimi had assured Shawn that she had clued Belle in immediately. She told Belle that Shawn was not now or had ever dated Cassie. She even told Shawn about the day Belle had flown back to Salem to confront Cassie. It was the day of Shawn’s nineteenth birthday. Belle arranged for Mimi to bring Cassie to the penthouse. He could still recall Mimi’s words as she described the confrontation between Belle and Cassie.

“Thanks, Mimi, for bringing Cassie here,” Belle said warmly as she walked over and gave her long time friend a hug.

“Why did you bring me here Mimi and what are you doing here Belle?” Cassie demanded.

“Mimi brought you here because I asked her to,” Belle replied coldly.

“I’m not interested in anything you have to say,” Cassie stated as she turned towards the door.

Belle grabbed Cassie by the hair and yanked, hard. “You’re not going anywhere. I have something to say to you and you’re going to listen to me.”

“Ouch. Let me go, I don’t…”

Belle yanked even harder, bringing tears to Cassie’s eyes. “I said I have something to say.”

“Well, then let go of my hair and say what you have to say. Shawn’s waiting for me in my dorm room and he’s real anxious, if you know what I mean.”

Shawn chuckled softly as he recalled Mimi’s expression when she described what Belle had done next. Mimi’s eyes had rounded and sparkled with amusement and disbelief.

Belle’s control snapped. She yanked with all her strength, pulling Cassie’s hair so hard that Cassie had stumbled backwards about 3 steps before dropping to her knees. Only at this point, did Belle release the pressure on Cassie’s hair and step in front of her. She grabbed Cassie’s chin in her hand and forced her to look up at and into her blue eyes that were blazing with fury.

“You’re a liar, Cassie. A liar and a coward,” Belle spoke slowly and clearly. “Shawn never loved you, Shawn never touched you, Shawn never kissed you back when you kissed him, Shawn has never had sex with you, has he, Cassie?”

Cassie dropped her gaze.

Belle tightened her grip on Cassie’s face and forced her head upwards. “Answer me, Cassie,” Belle ordered.

“Ok, so maybe he hasn’t, yet. But he will because you’re not woman enough for him. You don’t love him enough, you just gave up, you never even fought for him.”

Mimi believes that this statement angered Belle even more because she recognized the truth in Cassie’s words.

Belle tightened her grip even more on Cassie’s chin until the girl grimaced in pain. “Trust me, Cassie. If Shawn has sex with you, that’s all it would be, sex. He will never make love to you because he loves me and only me.”

“And how long do you think he’s going to wait around for you? Face it, Belle, you’re no match for me and you never will be. You’re not half the woman I am and it won’t be long now before Shawn realizes that himself,” Cassie gloated.

Mimi said, at this point, Belle had slapped Cassie so hard that even she jumped at the sound that echoed throughout the penthouse.

“I love Shawn, I will always love Shawn and I will make things right with him when I come home this summer. There is nothing, nothing, you can do, Cassie, to keep us apart,” Belle stated as she released her hold on Cassie and strode to the door. “Now, get out, the sight of you disgusts me.”

“Well…,” Cassie began.

“I said get out, now,” Belle yelled and slammed the door as Cassie stepped through.

Mimi had laughed, saying that she was sure the force of the door hitting Cassie from behind must have sent her flying right into the elevator doors.

Unfortunately it had been after Belle’s disappearance that Mimi told him this. She had promised Belle that she wouldn’t say anything. God, if only she had, nothing would have stopped Shawn from going to New York to make things right with Belle. And maybe she wouldn’t have disappeared.

He had told John and Marlena that he knew Belle didn’t commit suicide because she was coming back to him. To this day, Shawn could never understand why Mimi had told the authorities that it had never happened and Shawn must have had a dream where she had told him this story. Cassie wouldn’t confirm or deny it until she was offered a ‘get out of jail free’ card and the authorities weren’t about to do that.

Three weeks after Belle’s disappearance, Cassie and Rex had been arrested for the murder of Dr. Colin Murphy. Their defence that they were ‘programmed’ to defend the DiMera’s didn’t get much sympathy from a jury of their peers. They had both been sentenced to life in prison and were both serving their terms in maximum security prisons. Tony DiMera had been incensed and had threatened his brother John and his entire family. Shawn remained bewildered that John couldn’t see the obvious, that the DiMera’s were behind Belle’s disappearance.

Washington State Highway 206, April 20, 2010

Shawn shifted his thoughts back to the present as he turned on to Hwy 206. He turned the wipers up a notch. He was going to have to focus all his attention on the road to make it home safely. The combination of the heavy rainfall, the new layer of blacktop and the enveloping forest made for very poor visibility.

Shawn was about three miles from the turn-off to his cabin when he got a glimpse of what he thought was debris ahead of him in his lane. The rain-washed headlights danced over the pile of garbage in the road. Shawn slowed and at the last possible minute opted to swerve into the passing lane instead of driving over the debris. He cursed, softly, as he pulled over and backed up slightly and parked as far over on the non-existent shoulder as he safely could.

He put the vehicle in Park, pulled out the emergency brake, turned on the four-way flashers and opened the door of his SUV. As he got out, he pulled the zipper and collar up on his leather jacket, mentally berating the idiot that would throw out garbage into the middle of a highway. He shut the door, and jogged towards the debris with the intent of pulling it off the roadway.

As he neared the ‘debris’, he stopped dead in his tracks. There at his feet was a naked woman, curled into the fetal position. Shawn felt sick to his stomach. He had been at a few gruesome crime scenes during his three years as a cop, but he had never seen anything like this. The woman was beaten so badly that there were no distinguishable features visible on the side of her face that was not pressed into the pavement. It was obvious to the naked eye that several bones in her arm had been broken. Shawn stood and stared at the rivulets of rain and blood that threaded and swirled in the puddles at his feet.

Chapter 3

Shawn stood frozen, temporarily mesmerized, by the reflection of the light from the SUV’s four-way flashers that created a palette of colours out of the pools of blood-stained rainwater. He shook his head and crouched down to feel for a pulse. He did it because it was standard procedure, but in his mind, it was an exercise in futility. There was no way any human being could possibly have survived such a brutal beating. He laid his two fingers gently on her broken wrist. The woman whimpered and seemed to try and curl up into an even tighter fetal position. It was as if she was trying to make herself invisible. Shawn realized that she was afraid, no afraid wasn’t the correct word. He could feel her abject terror and immediately wanted to comfort and reassure her. He stood and made his way to the SUV. He understood that as much as needed to reassure her, he needed to get an ambulance to the scene as quickly as possible. He also needed to cover her to try and prevent her from going into deep shock. He reached inside the back of his SUV and grabbed his emergency kit. He pulled out the insulated ‘blanket’, tucked it inside of his jacket and went to the driver’s side door so he could radio in to dispatch.

“Spokane Police Dispatch.”

“This is Detective Brady, shield number 5477. Please send an ambulance to this location, Highway 206, approximately 7 miles from the entrance to Mt. Spokane State Park. Female victim, age unknown, severely beaten. Tell the ambulance time is of the essence. Radio the Sheriff’s department to send several units to secure the area and search for evidence. Also, notify Spokane Crime Scene Investigation and have them send an investigator.”

“Confirming location Detective Brady, Hwy 206, approximately 7 miles from Mt. Spokane State Park,” the dispatcher’s voice crackled over the police radio.


“Stand-by, please.”

Shawn waited for confirmation that the ambulance, sheriff’s department and CSI had been dispatched. As soon as he heard that the units were in route, he threw the radio onto the seat and ran to the victim.

So c-c-c-cold. Why am I so cold? Why am I in so much pain? So much pain. Oh God, it hurts! Where am I? Wait, I feel water, cold water. Am I in the shower? Did I fall? Ooooh. I can’t…can’t…breathe…hurts…too… much. Why is it so dark? I need to take a deep breath. She tries to inhale. Oh…god…deep…breath…not…a…good…idea…hurts. She slows her breathing and fights the waves of blackness that threaten to overtake her. Think, just think. Where are you? What are you doing here? Why did you come here? What happened to you? She musters all her strength and will to move her mind past the pain. I’m here because I need to see him, I have to see him. Why, why do I have to see him? Think. I need to tell him that I love him, that I’ve always loved him, that I will always love him. For one brief pain-free moment she was content. She knew he’d understand. She lost that happy train of thought as waves of searing pain crashed against her. And then she remembered….

She had been run off the road by a half-ton. She got out of the rental car to check the extent of the damage and the next thing she knew she was being dragged into the truck. She had been blind-folded, gagged and her arms and legs bound. She had no idea, who had grabbed her or how far they traveled. Her abductors never said a word. She remembered one of them saying – “here’s a good spot” – as the vehicle rolled to a stop. She was terrified. They pushed her out of the truck, cut her clothes off her and then she remembered the first punch and kick. She had never known such pain. She welcomed the blackness as they kept pummelling her as she sank to the pavement. She never knows when they remove the blindfold and the binds from her arms and legs. She doesn’t know that they look down at her battered and bleeding body and congratulate themselves on a job well done and leave her for dead.

Why? Oh, no! What if they’re still here? I can’t take anymore. She feels one of them touching her wrist. No, ple-e-e-ease, don’t hurt me anymore! She screams and screams and screams and then stops. Wait, if I’m screaming, why can’t I hear it? I have to get away, have to…get…away.

Shawn approaches the victim softly. It’s as if he can hear her silent screams echoing around him. He knows he has to calm her, reassure her, prove to her that she is safe with him. He kneels down on the cold, wet pavement, unfolding the insulated blanket. He bends low so that he can talk softly to her – hoping the tone of his voice would break through her wall of fear.

“Hush, little one,” he speaks gently.

“Please don’t scream anymore. You don’t need to be afraid. Sssh. I know you’re cold. I’m going to cover you with a blanket.”

He kept his voice at an even tone. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry if this hurts you, but I need to cover you,” he apologizes as he lays the blanket over her.

“I called for help, they should be here soon. Hold on, keep fighting. You know, I can tell you’re a fighter,” he chuckled softly. “I bet you’re a real spitfire when you get angry.”

Shawn fought to quell the inexplicable panic that came over him as he felt her slipping away.

“Fight, fight, you have to fight harder,” he urged.

No, please stop! She waited for the death blow to fall. As she began to sink deeper and deeper into unconsciousness, she heard him. She fought her way back. Someone was talking to her, not hitting her, just talking, softly and gently. I hear you. Help me, please. I have to see…I have to tell… She felt something covering her and realized that he was trying to keep her warm. I will fight, I need to fight so that I can tell… She knew she was dying, she could feel herself slipping away. So tired…so very tired…I need to rest, I’ll just let myself rest…it will be so peaceful…if I… She heard him, urging her to fight.

Shawn was beginning to panic. Why the hell am I panicking? I can hear the sirens, help is almost here.

“No, don’t let go. I know it hurts, but you have to fight! You’ve hung on this long, don’t give up now. The ambulance is almost here. Fight, damn it!” he pleaded.

“I promise, you can trust me. No one will hurt you again. I won’t let anyone hurt you. You can count on me, you’re safe with me,” he promised.

Shawn could sense her struggle.

I can trust him. He’ll keep me safe. She didn’t know why, but she knew he spoke the truth. She fought with every ounce of strength and will she had left to stay alive. I trust you. Promise me you’ll stay with me and keep me safe. Promise me!

“I promise you, I won’t let anyone hurt you ever again,” Shawn felt the words flow from his lips as the ambulance and sheriff’s department vehicles screeched to a halt.

Chapter 4

I promise! I promise! What the fuck am I thinking? Why did I promise her that I wouldn’t let anyone hurt her again? It’s not like she was capable of asking me, even I can tell her jaw is broken. Shawn shook his head in bewilderment, trying to chase away the myriad of thoughts chasing through his mind. But even as his logical side was telling him that she didn’t ask him to make the promise, he knew deep in his soul she had pleaded with him and he had heard her. And he had promised to keep her safe.

Promises were sacred to him – ironically, the only promises he had broken were those that he had made to Belle. Belle, the one person in the world to whom his word should have been sacred. Belle, the love of his life.

Shawn gave himself a mental shake, he needed to focus on the job at hand. He let his gaze take in the scene. The EMT’s were taking the victims vitals and relaying the information to the Emergency room personnel at Sacred Heart Medical Center. Shawn made his way to the Sheriff.

“I’m Detective Shawn Brady, Spokane Police Dept, Precinct 12,” he extended his hand, but quickly withdrew it when he noticed it was stained with the victim’s blood. “Sorry. Looks like I better head over to the CSI investigator. I would like your men to do a preliminary sweep of the area.”

“Sheriff Charlie Cameron. What are my men looking for?” he asked.

Shawn replied, “Anything that will give us a clue as to who this woman is and how she got here. Ask them to be extremely careful that they don’t contaminate the crime scene. If they see shoe prints or tire marks, they should alert the CSI unit.”

“My men are trained on the proper procedures to be followed when investigating a crime, Detective Brady,” the Sheriff responded indignantly.

“I didn’t mean to insinuate that they weren’t trained properly, Sheriff Cameron,” Shawn apologized. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to talk to the lead CSI investigator. They’re going to want my clothes to check for hair and fibres from the victim and assailant or assailants.”

Shawn noticed that the lead CSI investigator assigned to the case was Derek Lyttle. He had worked several cases with Derek and he knew him to go about his job thoroughly and expertly. Shawn knew that if there was any evidence available, any clue to be found, that Derek would be the man to discover it. Derek and he had also become good friends in the two years that Shawn was a detective.

“Hey, Derek,” Shawn greeted his friend. “I thought I better let you know that I’ve been in contact with the victim. I had to cover her to prevent her from going into shock.”

Derek took in Shawn’s wet slacks and the blood on his hands. He signalled for one of his co-workers. “Lisa, please take a sample of the blood on Detective Brady’s hand.” As Lisa was placing the sample into her kit, Derek turned to Shawn. “You know, I’m going to need your clothes. It’s obvious you were kneeling close to the victim. Some trace evidence might have been transferred to you. Do you have a change of clothing with you?”

Shawn hesitated for a moment. “I think I might have a change of clothing in my vehicle. Do you need me to change now?”

“The sooner the better – this rain isn’t helping. It’s going to make it difficult to process this crime scene,” Derek stated.

“Okay, Derek. I’ll do it right now,” as he turned and jogged to his SUV.

Who are you? What are you doing? Ouch! That felt like a needle. I hate needles. Please don’t touch me, it hurts too much. Please, stop. Oh god, don’t turn my head.

“Carl, we need to get the neck brace on her, so we can get her on a back-board.”

“I know that, Jules, what I don’t know is where to hold her head to stabilize it while you slip the neck brace on. Jesus, what kind of monster could do this to a woman, to anyone? How is she still alive?” Carl took a deep breath and tried to hold her shoulder firmly but gently in place, as he lifted her ever so slightly.

Jules slipped the neck brace in place and secured it. “At least she was smart enough to curl herself up into a ball on one side. All the damage seems to be to the right side of her body. Alright, let’s get her on the back-board, Carl.”

Don’t…touch…me! Can’t you tell that I’m in agony? She felt herself letting go. I’m so sorry, I just can’t fight anymore. It’s too hard and I’m so tired. I have to go sleep. She felt like she was floating. She felt warm and safe. I never really believed those near death stories before, people seeing this bright white light, seeing and hearing from loved ones who had crossed over and were waiting to welcome them to their eternal home. I see the light but there’s no one here to greet me. And then she heard him.

“You’ve decided to give up the fight, have you, young lady?”

The voice came from a kind, soft-spoken older gentleman. “Who are you?” she whispered.

“I’m looking out for my great-grandson.”

“I don’t understand. I’m not your great-grandson.”

“No, young lady, you are definitely not my great-grandson. You are his salvation. He needs you and you need him. You have a long road to travel together. Do not end the journey before you have taken the first step.”


“Go back, miss. Go back and fight.”

“I can’t. I don’t have the strength. I’m so tired. Please, I just want to come home.”

“He is your home. He is your strength. Go home to him. Lean on him. He will give you strength. All you have to do is call for him, and he’ll be at your side. He won’t leave you. He will keep you safe. Trust him.”

“Trust him?”

“Yes, trust him. Living is a far greater challenge than dying. You will have a long and difficult recovery, my dear, but you will recover. Choose life, little one, choose life and you will never regret it. Call him, call him now! Live!
” he urged.

I want to live. I have to live. I have unfinished business here on earth. Help me! Help me fight. I need you, I need you, now!

Tom Horton turned to his eternal partner and soul mate, Alice. “It’s all right now, dear. She’s going home to Shawn.”

Shawn’s head jerked up and smashed into the rear-view mirror when he heard her silent cries. He quickly sealed the large plastic evidence that contained the clothes he had been wearing and bolted out of his vehicle.

“Here, Derek,” he shouted as he threw the bag in his general direction, never breaking his stride as he made his way to the woman.

“We’re losing her, charge the portable defibrillator,” Carl shouted. He looked up and seen the detective that had been on the scene when they arrived.

“Let me get near her,” Shawn barked.

“You need to stand back and let us do our jobs,” Carl spoke uneasily. He had never seen a look that matched the one in Detective Brady’s eyes at this moment. It was a combination of panic, concern and determination.

“I won’t get in your way. You don’t understand, she needs me.” Shawn took the woman’s left hand in his right hand as he went down on his haunches to talk to her. “I’m here. Fight! Use my strength, take it, it’s yours. Please, don’t give up.”

Carl was amazed to see that her blood pressure was rising. “Jules, we’ve got to get her to the hospital, now.” They raised the back-board. Shawn rose, never letting go of her hand. Silently willing her to live, he could feel his strength flowing into her.

“Excuse me, Detective Brady, could you please let go of her hand so we can load the patient into the ambulance and transport her to the hospital?” Carl asked.

“I’m going with her.” Shawn’s eyes searched for the Sheriff. “Sheriff Cameron, could you please have one of your men drive my car to Sacred Heart Medical Center when they’re all through here? He threw his keys to the Sheriff. “Just ask them to leave the keys at the front desk.”

In the back of the ambulance, with the sirens blaring, Shawn could here her silent ‘thank you’. His mind was cataloguing the few facts he had on this case. He knew she could still die from her injuries. Hell, he still didn’t understand how she was still breathing after the beating she had sustained. He also knew that the people that did this to her would not be thrilled to find out that she had survived. They might want to finish the job. He didn’t know if this was a simple case of a robbery with extreme violence or whether the victim had been targeted. It didn’t matter, he had to protect her.

He called to the driver, “Is there a private entrance that we can use when we arrive at the hospital?”

The driver confirmed that they could use a delivery truck entrance. Shawn asked him to radio ahead to Sacred Heart and tell them to have a trauma team ready at the delivery entrance. He instructed them to inform the ER staff that she was to be kept out of view of the other patients.

Shawn looked down at the women on the gurney. The right side of her face had no recognizable features, she was so badly beaten. The left side was badly bruised and she had abrasions from the pavement. Her dark brown hair was a tangled and caked with blood. She was very petite. She looked so tiny and vulnerable but Shawn sensed that she had a deep inner strength. She was going to need all of it to pull through this ordeal.

They arrived at the hospital, and Shawn stepped out of the back of the ambulance, still holding her hand, as they pulled the gurney out. The trauma team immediately started crowding around and Shawn unclasped his hand and began to release her hand when she grasped his fingers.

Don’t leave me. Stay with me.

“You need to let the doctors help you. I’ll be near by. I won’t leave you, little one. I promise,” he whispered as the gurney was pulled away and his fingers slipped out of her grasp.
Last edited by Mrs.B. on November 6th, 2004, 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

October 21st, 2004, 3:57 pm #6

This is a Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC-17.

I disclaim - Some of the characters in this story belong to the owners of Days Of Our Lives - the rest are just part of my imagination. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is entirely concidental. I would also like to credit all the authors of the trashy, thoroughly enjoyable romance novels that I've read. They were my inspiration for the 'love scenes'.

Chapters 5 - 9

Chapter 5

Shawn followed the trauma team to the treatment room. One of the nurses asked him to wait outside the room. Shawn pulled out his badge. “Detective Brady, Spokane P.D. I’ll need to speak to one of the doctors as soon as the preliminary examination of the victim is completed. Also…”

The nurse glanced up, sensing the edginess in the young detective, “Don’t worry, we’ll document the extent of her injuries.”

“What about administering the…the rape kit?” Shawn asked quietly. It’s not like I haven’t worked rape cases before. Why does the thought of someone violating this particular woman bother me so much?

“You know as well as I do Detective Brady, that we need the patient’s consent before we can do an examination using the rape kit,” the nurse responded. “A thorough examination of the patient will be done, Detective. If there’s obvious visual evidence of a sexual assault, the doctor will include that in the report he gives you.”

“Thanks, nurse. I’ll be waiting. I have several calls to make. I’m just going to step outside to use my cell phone,” he informed her.

Shawn stepped out through the sliding doors at the entrance to the E.R. He stood under the overhang to shelter himself from the steadily falling rain. He placed a call through to the Twelfth precinct. He asked to speak to Captain Morley.

“What’s going on, Brady? It better be good, I’m in the middle of a dinner party at the mayor’s,” he barked.

“Are the Chief of Police and the Police Commissioner there also, Captain?” Shawn queried.

“Yes, they are. Why do you ask?” Captain Morley’s curiosity was aroused. Brady was a damn fine young detective. He had good instincts and he knew Brady wouldn’t be calling unless he felt strongly about the case.

“I would prefer to explain this just once. Would it be possible for you to get the Chief and the Commissioner in a room with a speaker phone?”

“We’ll call you back in a few minutes. Where can you be reached, Detective Brady?”

Shawn gave Captain Morley his cell phone number and disconnected. Shawn paced, trying to piece together what he wanted to say to get the three men to approve his plan to protect the woman. He couldn’t tell them that she had begged him to keep her safe and that he had promised to do so. He wouldn’t need to hand in a letter of resignation, if he told them that. They would ask for his resignation after recommending he see a good shrink. Resignation. His search for Belle. He stopped and ran his hand through his hair, frustration stamped on his face. I promised to keep her safe. I have to keep my promise. I’m so sorry, Belle. I will find you. I just have to find out who she is and who she belongs with. Once I find her family, they can keep her safe. Shawn’s thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of his phone.

“Brady, here.”

“Detective, I have Chief Davis and Commissioner Stone in the room with me. What do you need?” Captain Morley asked.

Shawn gave the three men a run-down of the evening’s events. He stated that he felt that the victim was targeted and if the perpetrators knew that she had survived, she would once again become a target. He explained the nature of her injuries. He told them there appeared to be no way to identify the victim at this time as no identification, no clothing, no vehicle, no visible evidence was left at the scene. He asked that he be allowed to give out a phoney release stating that an unidentified woman was found beaten on Hwy 206. He would have the release state that she died from her injuries shortly after her arrival at Sacred Heart Medical Center and an investigation into her death was underway. All three men thought that was extreme, given the fact that the investigation was in the early stages. Some evidence or some identification could still be recovered. Shawn went into more graphic detail describing the woman’s severe injuries. The Captain wanted to know how he could keep the fact that the woman was alive from becoming public knowledge considering she was treated at the scene and was currently being treated in the E.R. of Spokane’s major hospital. Shawn quickly outlined his plan. The three police officials put him on hold for a few minutes, and then came back on line, and gave him the go ahead.

“Brady, you’ll be the lead detective on this case. Good luck,” Chief Davis said.

Shawn strode down the corridor to the treatment room that the trauma team had chosen. He was pleased that the woman was being treated in the room at the very end of the long corridor. She was away from the normal bedlam and groups of people that were usually found in a hospital emergency room. Shawn waited outside the door. He had a clear view through the glass windows of the doors inside. He didn’t know what was being done to keep the woman alive, but he could tell from the hurried actions of the doctors and nurses that she was still breathing.

About fifteen minutes later, two men came out of the room, glancing at the tall, muscular man pacing the corridor.

“Detective Brady? I’m Dr. Gordon, and this is Dr. Wilkens, the head of our plastic surgery department”.

“Yes, I’m Detective Brady. How is the vict…I mean, patient doing?” Shawn looked from one doctor to the other, waiting for an answer.

“We’re getting ready to send her up to surgery right now. We have called in our head of Orthopedics because she has suffered multiple fractions. We also have a surgeon from Internal Medicine division scrubbing in because we don’t know if any of her internal organs were damaged,” Dr. Gordon explained. “Also one of Dr. Wilkens surgeons will set her broken jaw.”

Dr. Wilkens interrupted, “The broken jaw is the least of our worries. I’m sure you seen the massive damage she sustained to the right side of her face, Detective. A very preliminary exam indicates every bone has been broken in more than one place. My department is not equipped, nor are any of my doctors, including myself, experienced enough to repair the damage. She requires facial reconstruction, including orbital reconstruction.”

Shawn shocked both doctors by simply stating, “I can get a team of plastic surgeons that are capable of repairing the damage. I need to speak with you, Dr. Wilkens, and the hospital administrator. How soon can you arrange that?”

Dr. Wilkens looked into the Detective’s steely, confident gaze and replied, “I’ll call Mr. McPherson and get him to the hospital within the next hour.”

“Detective Brady, I was told you asked about the rape kit. We did a pelvic exam and it’s our determination that the patient was not sexually assaulted. There’s no bruising or obvious tearing to the vaginal area. There’s no bruising on the inside of her thighs, in fact…” Dr. Gordon let his voice trail off.

Just as Shawn was about to ask what further information the Doctor had, the doors to the treatment room swung open. The trauma team was pushing the gurney, portable I.V.’s and heart monitor towards the freight elevators.

“Wait, one second, please,” Shawn grabbed the woman’s left hand. He bent down low and whispered, “Keep fighting. I’ll be waiting,” and then released her hand as he stood and watched the elevators door close.

I’ll try. Wait for me. I’m coming home.

While he was waiting for Dr. Wilkens to return with the hospital administrator, Shawn placed a call.

“Donavon,” the voice crackled over the static on the line.

“Cousin Andrew,” Shawn smiled, “it’s been a while. How do you like your temporary assignment?”

“You know me, Shawn, I’d rather be doing the work myself, instead of supervising it,” Andrew laughed. “I don’t think you’re really calling to find out how I am. Cut to the chase and tell me what you’re after.”

Shawn gave Andrew a recap of what had transpired that evening and he gave him the reason for his call. When he was through, he asked, “Do you think they’d be willing to relocate their research to the Spokane facility?”

Andrew said, “Are you kidding, this woman is the answer to their prayers! I’ll get the key members of the research team together, and you can call us at the following number as soon as you’re done your meeting.”

Shawn wrote the number down. “Thanks, Andrew. If all goes as planned, I should be seeing you in the next of couple of days.”

Shawn met with Mr. McPherson and Dr. Wilkens. He explained that he had seen the recent press coverage about the research project that had been cut short because the major financial backers had pulled their funding. He said that he had a family member that was an ISA agent that specialized in forensic pathology. His field of expertise was facial reconstruction of skulls using 3D software technology. He was currently on loan to a group of plastic surgeons that wished to use the technology to benefit people that suffered major trauma to the facial area. This woman was exactly what they needed to put the software that had been developed to the test. One side of her face was basically intact and they could use 3D imagining to map out the reconstruction of the right side of her face, including orbital reconstruction. He told them of the need for the woman’s presence at the hospital to be kept secret. She could be kept in one of the patient rooms in the research facility that was in the basement of the hospital. Shawn also knew the area had secure access only, which would make his job of protecting her all that much easier. One hour later, Shawn had the consent of the research team and the hospital administrator. The hospital administrator would not dispute the press release stating the woman had died. He also agreed that the woman’s presence as a patient in the research lab would be on a need to know basis only. The research team was willing to relocate to Spokane. Andrew and a few members of the research team would arrive in two days, bringing the software with them.

Three hours later, one of the nurses on duty came up to Shawn in the waiting room and told him that the surgery was going as well as could be expected. She informed him that it would more and likely be hours before the surgery was completed. She offered to have him paged when the patient was moved to recovery. Shawn informed her that he wouldn’t be leaving until he was sure she had made it through the surgery.

Shawn fell into an uneasy sleep while lounging in one of waiting room chairs. He felt restless and on edge. And then he heard her.

Shawn, Shawn. Where are you? I need you to find me.

“Belle,” he murmured in his sleep.

I need you, Shawn. Search for the answers. Your heart will lead you to me.

Shawn stirred.

Please, Shawn. Please find me.

“I will find you, Belle. I promise. I swear to you, I will!” Shawn uttered.

Shawn, I love you.

Shawn awoke with a start. “Belle?” He groaned as he realized he had been dreaming. He had felt closer to her this night than he had in all the nights he felt her presence since she disappeared. This experience had seemed so real, he could swear that her intoxicating scent, a mixture of vanilla and her special essence, hung in the air.

“Excuse me, Detective Brady.”

Shawn looked up and seen the nurse that he had spoken to earlier.

“How is she? When can I see her?”

“She made it through the surgery. She’s in recovery now. I’m sorry, Detective Brady, but she’s lapsed into a coma.”

Chapter 6

Shawn uncoiled himself from the chair, his six foot two height making him tower over the nurse.

She stepped back and looked into his deep brown eyes that were filled with concern and fear.

Shawn grabbed her arm, demanding, “Take me to her, now.”

“Detective Brady, she’s in the ICU recovery room. Absolutely no visitors,” the nurse stated calmly as she was removing her arm from Shawn’s grip.

“I will see her. Take me to Dr. Gordon.”

Dr. Gordon looked up from the patient’s chart to see Detective Brady striding towards him with a very determined look on his face. He barely noticed the nurse trailing in Shawn’s wake, almost at a run trying to keep up to the long strides of the detective.

“Dr. Gordon, I’m going to see the patient, tonight.”

The doctor heard the firm resolve in his voice, but he also noted the look of near panic in the young man’s eyes. What is it about this woman that affects this man so deeply?

“I’m sorry, Detective Brady. The patient can not have any visitors. The next forty-eight hours are critical to her recovery. We can not risk her coming into contact with any type of infection. She needs to be constantly monitored. It’s not unusual for people with her injuries to slip into a coma. She suffered a major trauma and this is her body’s way of beginning the healing process and gathering the strength that will be required in order to achieve a full recovery. We need to keep a close eye on her and do what we can to prevent her slipping deeper into her coma.” The doctor tried to reassure the detective with his tone of voice and his carefully chosen words.

“Doctor, I am critical to her recovery. She needs to hear my voice,” Shawn stated with an edge of desperation in his voice.

Even as the doctor opened his mouth to refuse, he recognized the truth in the detective’s words. He turned to the nurse, “Bring Detective Brady a set of scrubs and then prepare him to go into the recovery room.” He turned back to Shawn, “Two minutes, Detective. I’ll give you two minutes with her tonight and then you’ll have to wait until she’s moved from the recovery room to the facility in the basement to see her again.”

Shawn grasped the doctor’s hand in a firm handshake, “Thank you.”

Fifteen minutes later the nurse ushered Shawn into the recovery room. He made his way to the bed, his quick glance taking in all the tubes running in and out of the woman. The steady sound of the heart monitor echoed in the silence of the room. She looked so tiny and vulnerable, the casts on her arm and leg seemed to overpower her petite frame. He took her left hand in his as he sat close to her.

“I’m here, little one. I’ll keep you safe. You rest now. You’re going to need all your strength for the fight ahead”. Shawn placed his hand gently on the top of her capped head and leaned in and gave her a soft kiss on the forehead through the surgical mask he was wearing. “The doctors won’t let me stay in the room with you but I will be close by. If you need me all you have to do is call for me. I promise, I’ll get to you as quickly as I can.”

The nurse indicated that he had to leave. Shawn made his way to the door.

I need to rest now. We’ll start our journey soon.

Shawn glanced back at the patient, and then the nurse, “Did you say something?”

“No,” the nurse replied. “I didn’t hear anything.”

Journey, our journey. What’s that about?

Dr. Gordon and Mr. McPherson, the hospital administrator, were waiting for him after he had changed back into his clothes.

“Detective Brady, you’re well aware that I was slightly uneasy about you giving false information to the press regarding this patient,” Mr. McPherson intoned. “We will not falsify a death certificate as I explained earlier. However, this patient seems to have a higher power than even you on her side. Another Jane Doe came through our trauma center tonight that was also severely beaten. She was not as fortunate and she died from her injuries. This means there will be a death certificate filed for a Jane Doe tonight. We will hold off processing any of the paper work on the woman you found until you determine that she is out of harm’s way.”

“Thanks, Mr. McPherson. I’ll call the desk sergeant and have him add her ‘death’ to the police report that is provided to the media.”

“Good Night, or should I say, Good Morning, Dr. Gordon, Mr. McPherson. You both have my pager number if you need to contact me. Dr. Gordon, if there is any change to the patient’s condition, please contact me immediately.”

Shawn stopped at the information desk and picked up his keys. He stepped outside into the early morning light. The smell of the city streets washed fresh after the evening’s storm, the cloudless sky and the slow rise of the sun in the east heralded the beginning of a new day. Shawn felt a strange sense of peace within himself. Maybe this is God’s way of helping me get past the guilt I feel because my actions caused Belle to move away. She never would have been in New York and probably nothing would have happened to her if I wouldn’t have acted like a world-class jerk. Shawn gave himself a mental shake. No, I’m always going to feel guilty, but, I can help this woman and I can keep my promise to keep her safe.

April 22, 2010 Ohio Reformatory for Women - Maximum Security Prison

“DiMera, you have a phone call, your lawyer’s office,” the guard barked at Cassie through the bars of her cell.

Cassie smiled, “Thanks, Don. I’ve been expecting good news about my, umm, appeal.”

The guard escorted Cassie to a small room, motioned to the phone and stepped back slightly, trying to give the prisoner an illusion of privacy.

“This is Cassie DiMera.”

Cassie listened intently to the person speaking to her, uttering ‘uh-huh’ occasionally to indicate agreement or acknowledgement.

“Have you received a copy of the signed ‘release’ form?” Cassie asked sharply. The only indication given that she had gotten the answer she wanted was the sly grin that crossed her face.

After she hung up, she turned to the guard and smiled. “Thanks, Don. Looks like everything is going as planned.”

“Good news about your appeal, DiMera?”

“Very good news, Don, very good news indeed!” Cassie reiterated.

Spokane International Airport

“Shawn, good to see you again,” Andrew beamed as he gave his cousin a hug. “Let me introduce you to a couple of members of the research team that made the trip with me. This is Dr. Thornton, the head of the team, Dr. Wilder, and Stephen Eng, our software engineer. Gentlemen, meet my cousin, Detective Shawn Brady of the Spokane Police department.”

“Nice to meet all of you,” Shawn said. “Let’s get your luggage and I’ll take you to the hospital or your hotel first, whichever you prefer.”

They opted to check in first. Shawn dropped them off at the hotel and said that he would be back in an hour to take them to the hospital. He returned to the police station to check on the progress of the investigation. He called Derek Lyttle to find out if he had been able to find any physical evidence at the scene. Derek informed him that the rain had washed away any evidence there might have been. Shawn mentioned the fact that the assailants had been very smart. No one had stepped off the pavement, so there were no footprints. They had not pulled their vehicle onto the shoulder, so there were no tire tracks.

“So, Derek, do you think they just dumped her on the scene? Did the actual beating take place somewhere else?”

“No, I reviewed the photos the ER staff took of her injuries. She was definitely lying on the pavement, the pattern of the abrasions on the left side of her body prove that. Shawn, the pictures also reveal that who ever did this to her, did make a mistake. If they made one mistake, I’m sure they made others.”

“What did you find, Derek?”

“One of the bruises on her thigh, show’s a distinct heel pattern. We’re going to enlarge it and run it through our databases to find out what type of shoe or boot this came from. Of course, it’ll be up to you to find the person or persons that did this and match the heel print to them. I’ve also sent a technician to the hospital to get a set of finger prints. Once I get them, we’ll start running them through the national databases looking for a match.”

“Good work, Derek. Keep me informed on the progress of your investigation. You know how to reach me if you need me.”

Shawn picked up Andrew and the others from their hotel. “As soon as the rest of your team arrives, Dr. Thornton, I’ll have a real estate agent show you some rental properties. I’m sure you don’t want to live in a hotel any longer than necessary.”

They arrived at the hospital. Shawn showed them the special entrance they would use and the security measures that were set up to allow them entrance. They would each be assigned a security code to enter and then a thermal scan of their hand print would release the locking mechanism on the door. Shawn told them that the thermal scans would be done later today and their security codes would be assigned at the same time.

Andrew and Shawn chatted as the two doctors examined the facilities and the software engineer checked out the computer room and equipment.

“Andrew, as soon as I’ve found out who this woman is and located her family, I’m going to find Belle. I know she’s alive. In fact, I feel her presence stronger than ever. I have to find her, no forget that, I will find her,” Shawn vowed.

Both Shawn and Andrew glanced up when one of the security guards approached them.

“Are you Detective Brady?” he asked. When Shawn nodded affirmatively, the guard continued, “Dr. Gordon would like to bring the patient down. The attending nurses have been thoroughly screened as per your request and have been given security clearance. This also applies to the doctors who will be following her case.”

“If the doctor feels it is safe to move her, tell him we’re ready.” The guard turned to leave, when Shawn stopped him. “Another thing, please tell Dr. Gordon that I’d like a status report on the patient and that I will be going to see her once she is settled into her room.”

Andrew chuckled softly. “Shawn, cuz, aren’t you overstepping your bounds just a bit. You will see her. I’m sure you meant that the guard should ask if you could see the patient.”

Andrew was slightly taken aback by the steely gaze his cousin pinned on him.

“No, Andrew, you’re wrong. I will see her.”

Dr. Gordon gave Shawn a rundown on the patient’s current condition. When he was through, he motioned Shawn to follow him into the room. Shawn entered and noticed the tubes, the casts, the monitors, all the paraphernalia that was necessary to keep her alive, was unchanged from the recovery room. He took a step closer to her hospital bed and then stopped and looked up in surprise at Dr. Gordon.

“I could have sworn her hair was brown the night I found her.” He turned back to the woman and glanced at her hair that was the colour of spun gold. He had only known one other person who had hair that looked like sun-kissed beaches in one moment, sparkling gold in the next. He wondered if it would feel as silky to the touch as it looked. He turned back to the doctor with a question in his eyes, “Was I wrong?”

“No, Detective Brady, you weren’t wrong. The woman was wearing a wig. We also discovered that she was wearing coloured contact lenses at the time. Her eyes are not brown, but blue. We can only determine that she must have sensed she was in danger and was disguising her appearance. Why else would she want to cover her hair and dull the colour of her eyes?”

“Did you say her eyes were blue, Dr. Gordon?” Shawn turned back to look at the comatose woman again and said under his breath, “An amazing, electrifying, blue.”

Dr. Gordon looked up and said, “Excuse me, did you say something about electrifying blue eyes? That’s the comment one of the scrub nurses made.”

Could I have a few minutes alone with her, Dr. Gordon?”

After Dr. Gordon left the room, Shawn moved next to the patient’s bed. He took her hand in his and lifted his other hand so that his fingers could caress her hair. It was just as soft and silky as he remembered. Whoa, remembered? He searched the patient’s gauze covered face trying to peel back the layers and get a glimpse into her closed eyes. He tightened his grip on her hand and in a tortured voice that he didn’t recognize as his own, he whispered, “Belle?”

Chapter 7

April 23, 2010 Flight 1390 Spokane, WA to Salem, IL

Shawn glanced at his watch. 9:35 a.m. He would arrive in Salem in time to attend Belle’s memorial service. His mind drifted back to the events that occurred the evening before.

“Shawn, what’s wrong, man? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Andrew looked at his cousin’s dazed expression and immediately became deeply concerned.

“Uh, I, uh…” Shawn stuttered. Pull yourself together, man. You need to think this through. That can’t be Belle in there…or can it? Whether it was or wasn’t Belle, Shawn knew instinctively that this was not the right time to say anything about his suspicions to anyone. “Sorry, Andrew. I guess the lack of sleep over the past couple of nights is finally catching up to me.”

“Listen here, Shawn. Just head home and get some rest. You gave me the keys to van. I’ll hang around until everyone is ready to go back to their rooms. Besides, we need to get our security clearance before we can leave. We don’t need for you to wait around here.” Andrew put his arm around Shawn’s shoulder and started steering him towards the exit.

“Thanks. I will take your suggestion about getting some rest. I have some personal time coming to me, so I’ll probably take tomorrow off as well. If you need anything, call the precinct and have me paged.”

“Don’t worry about us, Shawn. We have a lot of work to do loading the necessary software and unpacking the other equipment. You take your day off and I’ll see you when you return. The other members of the team will be here in a few days, and then they will start getting the 3D images of her skull.

Shawn settled back into his seat. He had decided to attend the memorial service without making his presence known. He needed to watch the people and their reactions. He wasn’t a nineteen-year old ‘kid’ anymore. He was going to ask questions. He probably wouldn’t get any truthful answers but he was an adult now. A trained investigator and he felt that he would sense when someone was being evasive or untruthful. He hoped to pick up some hint, some small clue, that would lead him to the starting point of his investigation into Belle’s disappearance.

Belle. Was she the woman lying in the hospital? While the thought of someone hurting Belle so badly was infuriating, the thought that it could possibly be her filled him with joy. He reined in his enthusiasm. He just couldn’t allow himself to think that this woman was Belle. He would need to prove that she was Belle and in order to do that he would have to solve the mystery of Belle’s disappearance.

St Luke’s Church, Salem, IL

Shawn had arrived at the church before any of the ‘mourners’ arrived. He was leaning against one of the columns in the balcony. From his vantage point, he had a clear view of the church’s interior. He wanted to observe the reactions of each person as they arrived. He didn’t know if he would learn anything useful, however, his cop’s instinct was telling him to be alert for any abnormal behavioural pattern. His eyes strayed back to the banks of floral wreaths placed along the length of the altar. His eyes locked on the portrait of Belle, his Belle. John and Marlena must have had the portrait commissioned after Belle’s ‘death.’ The painter had used a picture that was taken of Belle Christmas Day, 2002. Her hair loose and flowing, the soft pink turtleneck sweater highlighting her complexion, her blue eyes dancing and that little secretive smile playing across her lips. He knew what the smile signified although he doubted that anyone else did. He had seen that same smile several times that day. She was thinking about the Christmas gift he had given her and looking ahead to New Year’s Eve and how that night would change the course of their lives. Shawn sighed. Yes, that night had definitely changed the entire course of their lives and here he was over seven years later trying to find his way back.

Shawn stepped back further behind the column when he heard the sound of muted voices entering from the back of the church. He looked down and seen that his family had arrived en masse. He smiled. The Brady’s and the Black’s were family in every way. The expected and anticipated union between Shawn and Belle would have further cemented the family ties. He watched as his dad and mom marshalled his brother Zach and another boy about Zach’s age into a pew. He looked closer and realized that the other boy was John Thomas, J.T., his ‘other’ brother. Grandma and Grandpa Brady along with Doug and Julie spoke softly to Bo and Hope. His Uncle Roman came along with his wife, Kate. Sami came in, escorted by her son, Will. Carrie and Mike Horton came in along with their two daughters. Shawn realized that he needed to come home and spend some time with his family. Carrie and Mike had returned to Salem early in January. Mike had accepted the job of Chief of Staff at Salem University Hospital. Shawn was surprised to see that Eric had made the trip from Los Angeles.

Shawn watched as Brady came in escorting his very pregnant wife. After Chloe’s relapse and subsequent death from leukemia following so closely after the disappearance of his beloved ‘Tink’, Brady and Mimi had bonded. Shawn’s eyes narrowed as he watched Mimi. He was going to have to talk to her after the service. Somehow, he would have to make her admit that she had lied to the police and Belle’s family when she had denied witnessing the encounter between Belle and Cassie. By denying the encounter had ever happened she gave credence to the theory that Belle was despondent over the break-up with Shawn. No one would believe that Belle was determined to reunite with him. Shawn’s eyes widened when he saw Marlena and John. He had not spoken with them or seen them since they had allowed Belle’s case to be ruled a suicide. He had deliberately avoided any contact with them when he had visited Salem. Marlena didn’t seem to have that spring in her step any longer, but overall she appeared relatively unchanged. However, the difference in John was remarkable. He didn’t look anything like the mercenary that used to cause fear in anyone that crossed him just by raising an eyebrow and staring at them. His hair was completely grey and he walked slowly. Gone was the confident, long stride that Shawn remembered. Shawn recalled the agony in John’s eyes when he had turned on him and accused him of giving up on his own daughter. Even though he had said some very hurtful things to John, John had tried to console him. In fact, John had begged him to accept that Belle was lost to him forever, and try to move on with his life. Shawn conceded that John’s acceptance of Belle’s ‘death’ had cost him dearly. He obviously still suffered the loss of his one and only child with the love of his life.

As the service progressed, Shawn made his way quietly down the stairs. When Father Gregory asked if there was anyone else who had some words to say, Shawn spoke up.

“I do, Father.”

A quiet murmur arose through the congregation. No one had expected Shawn to attend the memorial service. Zach and J.T. leapt to their feet, anxious to get to their big brother. Bo sat them down and explained that they could see him after the service was over.

All eyes followed Shawn’s progress up the aisle to the front of the church. He stopped in front of the portrait of Belle and ran his knuckles down the side of her painted face. He turned to face his family and friends. “I’m not here to mourn Isabella. I’m here to share in your sense of loss. Each and everyone present misses Belle and feels the loss of her presence from our lives. I understand that pain. I miss Belle every second of every day. I miss her so much at times that I can barely force myself to face the future. But, I go on. I go on because there are times that I feel her so close to me that it seems like if I turn around, she’ll be standing right behind me. It’s these times that I know deep in my soul that Belle is still alive, still out there somewhere waiting to come home to us." His voice trailed off to a whisper, “Waiting to come home to me.”

His family gathered around him, all talking at once. Happy to see him, worried about him, loving him. He greeted them all and said he needed to talk to a few people and then he would meet them all over at the Brady Pub.

Shawn made his way to Brady and Mimi. He embraced them both. Brady understood the deep love that Shawn had felt for his sister, but he had accepted Belle’s death a long time ago. It’s not that he felt Shawn should find another woman to love, if that happened, it happened. He just wanted Shawn to be at peace and to let go of the guilt. They exchanged pleasantries and chatted about what was going on in their lives. When Shawn felt that both were comfortable and unguarded with him, he looked Mimi in the eye, “Mimi, I need to know why you lied about Belle returning to Salem the day of my nineteenth birthday.”

Mimi flushed, and quickly lowered her eyes, but not quickly enough. Shawn saw the look of guilt that flashed through her eyes. “I never lied, Shawn. You must have dreamt that I told you that story.” Mimi could not look Shawn in the eyes.

He wouldn’t push her any further. He would have to investigate airline records. Of course, he had pushed that issue back in 2003, but was told that Belle Black had not flown on any commercial airline that day. He apologized to Brady and Mimi for upsetting them and excused himself. He made his way to John and Marlena. This was going to be difficult. Facing them both after all these years. He no longer hated them for letting go of Belle, he just hoped they could forgive him for driving her away.

“John, Marlena,” he said softly as he came up behind them.

Marlena turned and opened her arms and drew him into her warm embrace. “My dear sweet boy. We have missed you so much.” Marlena noticed Shawn’s slightly sheepish grin. “My mistake, my dear sweet man. How are you?”

“I’m fine and you?” More pleasantries exchanged, more small talk, Shawn all the while making mental notes on John’s demeanour and behaviour, trying to read him. John was inscrutable.

Shawn was surprised when suddenly John used the same tactic on him that he had used on Mimi by demanding, “Have you given up that silly idea of yours to go searching for Belle?”

Shawn did not intend to tell either of them that he was going to begin his own investigation into Belle’s disappearance but he also had no intention of lying to John. He looked John straight in the eye and replied, “I will never give up on my love for Belle.” Shawn was taken aback by the look of despair in John’s eyes, he wondered why John still hurt that badly if he had accepted Belle’s death all those years ago. He also took note of the look of admiration for Shawn’s determination that filled John’s eyes for one brief moment.

John grabbed Shawn’s hand in a firm handshake. “Don’t wait almost seven years to come and see us again, Shawn.” He took Marlena’s arm and led her out of the church.

“Are you all right, John? You seem so troubled.”

John kissed his wife lightly. “It’s just been a rough day. It’s like reliving those horrible months after our…our daughter disappeared all over again.”

As John settled into the limousine, he gazed out the window so that Marlena would not see the turmoil in his eyes. Shawn can’t search for Belle! I’ll have to make sure he doesn’t find out anything. Shawn would never forgive me, Marlena and Brady would never forgive, hell no one would understand or forgive if they ever found out that I was the one responsible for Belle’s disappearance.

Chapter 8

April 24, 2010 Black Penthouse, Salem IL

John stood out on the balcony nursing his cup of tea that was fast growing cold. He looked out at the skyline of Salem. He didn't see the dark starlit sky or the lights of the city. All he could see in his mind's eyes was the eyes of Shawn Douglas Brady. In those eyes he had seen the determination of a man hell bent on finding the love of his life. John had also seen the love in his eyes and marvelled at the man's tenaciousness. Shawn would not accept that Isabella was dead despite all the evidence indicating that she was deceased.

John sighed. Well, you are right, Shawn. Belle is not dead, but you can never know that. Not you or her mother, brothers and sisters or friends and especially the DiMera's, can ever learn that Belle is alive and well and living in Canada. Marlena and Shawn would never forgive me, her siblings and friends would never understand and the DiMera's, well they would finish the job they had planned in 2003. I can't allow that to happen! I did the best thing, the smartest thing possible to protect Belle and that's a fact!

April 10, 2003 DiMera Mansion

John was furious! He had talked to Belle and she had finally confided to her mother and himself how Cassie was harassing her. John was going to talk to Tony and tell him in no uncertain terms that either he controlled his ward or charges would be brought against both Cassie and Tony. After all his brother was her legal guardian and responsible for her. John had accepted the DNA evidence that had proven he shared a biological tie with Tony, but he would never consider Tony his brother in the family sense. Bo and Roman were like brothers to him, Tony was an enemy, a DiMera.

He had decided to approach the mansion unseen. Tony's security detail had been instructed to deny John access to the grounds unless Tony gave them permission to let him enter. John knew how to bypass Tony's security system and made his way to the living room patio doors. Because of the balmy, spring day, the doors were open. As John approached, he heard voices from inside. He heard Belle's name so he stopped to listen before making his presence known.

John shrank further back behind the tall shrubbery. He did not want to risk being detected.

Cassie was raving, angrier than John had ever heard her.

“I want Belle Black dead, Tony,” she spat out.

Tony tried placating her. “Don’t talk like that, Cassie. You should never say things that you don’t mean. If the wrong people hear you, they might think that you’re serious.”

“I’m serious, Tony. Dead serious. I want Shawn and with her in the picture, he’ll never fully be mine. Part of him will always be with her. She needs to die!” she stated coldly.

“Cassie, if you want Shawn, just take him. Belle Black is no match for you. You can easily manipulate both her and Shawn. After all, you are a DiMera and we are masters at manipulating people.”

“She made me angry, Tony. She slapped me and told me that Shawn would never be mine.” Cassie began pacing wildly. “If you won’t arrange to have Belle killed, I’ll take care of it myself. It’s not like I haven’t killed before to protect the DiMera’s.”

Tony grabbed her by the shoulders. “What are you talking about, Cassie? You’ve never killed anyone.”

“Yes, I did. Well, Rex and I did.” She stared at Tony. “We had to take care of Dr. Murphy. We heard you say he was a threat to the family.”

“You shot, Colin?” Tony’s asked in a shaky voice.

“Yes. Rex struggled with him and knocked the gun out of his hand. I picked it up and shot him,” she stated in a matter-of-fact voice. “Don’t worry about it, Tony. Nobody saw us.”

“How could you have been so stupid?” Tony shouted.

“We did what we had to do, what we were brought here to do, protect the DiMera’s,” Cassie calmly replied.

“I take it you hid the gun,” Tony said.

“No, actually, I dropped it by the body.”

“But the gun wasn’t found at the scene.”

“No, Tony, it wasn’t found at the scene because Shawn Brady picked it up and hid it.” Cassie’s eyes sparkled with enthusiasm. “And that’s how I was going to get him away from Belle – using our shared secret. I let him know that I had seen what he had done. I promised not to tell anyone. I convinced him to stay away from Belle. I let Belle know, very subtly, of course, that Shawn had confided in me.”

“How could you convince Shawn to stay away from Belle?” Tony’s curiosity was fully aroused.

“He thinks his mother killed Dr. Murphy because she overheard Dr. Murphy say he was going to kill Bo. So I played on the fact that it seemed like his family was always a target. It wasn’t hard to convince him that if he stayed with Belle he would be placing her in harm’s way. He is so gullible and easy to manipulate. Belle’s his weakness; she will always be his weakness.”

“Did Shawn hide the gun?” Tony asked.

“Yes. Don’t worry. I followed him and moved the gun to a safe place. No one will ever think to look for it where I hid it.”

“Why did you move it?”

“There’s a chance my prints might be on it,” Cassie shrugged. “Besides, I intend to use it to make Shawn do what I want him to if manipulation doesn’t work.”

“If you have the gun and can blackmail him into being with you, why do you want Belle Black killed?”

“Shawn will always love her if she is still alive. I’m convinced that in the end, I could get him to love me. That will never happen if he believes that one day he could get free of me.”

“You can’t kill her, Cassie. I forbid it,” Tony commanded.

“You’re not thinking this through, Tony.” Cassie approached him with a sly smile on her face. She played with the lapel on his suit jacket and looked up at him through her reddish-gold lashes. “Just think how devastated your brother John would be if he lost his child. I read that sometimes the death of a child tears the parents apart and causes irreparable damage to their marriage. You could work on Marlena and steal her away from John, just like he stole Kristen from you.”

Tony laughed. “You are certainly a DiMera, Cassie.”

“Does that mean you’ll have Belle killed?” Cassie asked hopefully.

“No, but your idea is not without merit, Cassie.”

“I don’t understand, Tony. What are you going to do?”

“We can achieve the same result without murder. We can make sure Shawn is yours and Marlena is mine and John is completely destroyed!”


“I’ll have Belle kidnapped and locked away. The DiMera’s have holdings that John knows nothing about. We’ll imprison her on one of those properties.” It was Tony’s turn to pace as he began formulating his plan. “Yes. We can force Belle to watch videos of you and Shawn happy together, of her family split apart, of Marlena with me. Doesn’t that sound better than a quick bullet to the heart? Just think of how miserable she will be, Cassie.”

“You’ll keep her locked away until she’s an old, broken, lonely woman, won’t you, Tony?” Cassie asked gleefully.

“Yes, my child.”

“Good. When will it happen?” Cassie demanded.

“We’ll kidnap her the day before she comes for her summer break. Belle will never see her beloved Shawn or her family, in person, ever again.”

Cassie threw her arms around Tony and he swung her around as they both laughed joyfully.

“I’m curious, Cassie. Where did you hide the gun?”

Her eyes twinkled mischievously as she answered with a smile, “In Stefano’s urn.”

John stood absolutely still for several minutes as he tried to come to terms with what he had just heard. He pulled himself together and headed to his office. Once there, he locked the door and using his communications center, contacted Shane Donovan.

He told Shane everything he had just heard. Shane said that Belle could be protected and the kidnap plan could be thwarted. They talked it through and both of them reached the same conclusion. Even if they could protect Belle this time, she would always be in danger. If Tony did not succeed this time, he would try again.

They spent hours on the phone planning Belle’s disappearance. They picked a date and the team of operatives that would carry out the top secret mission. They made sure that the operatives assigned to carry out the abduction did not know that John Black was an ISA agent. They would be told that Ms. Black was being placed into protective custody.

The abduction of Belle Black was carried out precisely according to plan. There were no witnesses and no clues were left behind. The only harm that befell Belle Black was psychological. She was afraid. She had no idea who had done this to her and for what purpose.

ISA Safe House, Lucerne, Switzerland, April 27, 2003

Belle alternated between pacing through the small cottage she was being held prisoner in and lying on the bed staring at the ceiling.

It had been seven days since she had been taken from her dorm room only to awaken eighteen hours later lying on this same bed. She had no idea where she was, who had brought her here, and why she was here.

She no longer cowered at the sound of the dead-bolts being unlocked. It was just someone bringing her meals which largely went untouched. She never got to see the faces behind the shielded helmets they wore. No one spoke a word. After the second day of her meals being left untouched, a note was placed on the tray. The note read: ‘We are not going to harm you, Miss Black. It is our duty to protect you. The food and beverages are safe to eat and drink. If you do not trust that this is the truth, your guard has been instructed to eat any portion of the food you provide or drink any of the beverages.” Belle decided to believe the note and began eating small portions of the meals. She had to keep up her strength so that when an opportunity presented itself, she could escape. She had to escape. She was certain her family and Shawn were doing everything possible to find and rescue her. Shawn, god, how she missed him. How she longed to have him hold her, kiss her and touch her. When she got back to him, she was going to set him straight. He was her man and she was his woman. He was never going to keep anything from her again. She still had that soft, secretive smile resting on her face, when her whole world collapsed.

Chapter 9

December 20, 2009 Vancouver, British Columbia

Belle shuffled around her quiet two bedroom apartment. Her room-mate, Tamara, had left early in the morning. She was going home for Christmas.

Home for Christmas. How good that sounded. The holidays were always the hardest. She kept up a good front when amongst the few friends she had made since her relocation from Switzerland three-and-a-half years earlier. She turned down invitations to spend Christmas with them and their families. Her friends were reluctant to leave her alone, but short of forcing her into a car or onto a plane, there was little they could do. Belle knew they talked about their friend, ‘Dana Summerall’ when she wasn’t around. They talked about how unfortunate it was that ‘Dana’ had no surviving family. She was the only child of two parents who had been the only child in their families also. Both sets of grandparents had perished when ‘Dana’ was still a very young child. Her parents had been killed in an accident while on tour in Europe, leaving ‘Dana’ all alone in the world.

Belle poured herself a coffee and sat on her couch with her legs tucked under her. She let her mind wander back over the journey that had brought her to this moment in time.

April 27, 2003

Belle never glanced up when she heard the footsteps approach her bedroom. “Just put the tray on the table in the kitchen, please. I’m not hungry. I’ll heat it later.”

“Hi, Princess,” John said quietly, overcome with emotion. He was so happy to see his beloved daughter but dreading the conversation that would follow.

Belle leapt off the bed and ran into her father’s outstretched arms. “Daddy, I knew you’d find me. Where’s Shawn? Is he waiting in the other room for me? Can we go home now?”

“Slow down, Belle,” John smiled. “Come on, let’s get comfortable. I have lots to tell you.”

“You can tell me everything just as soon as I see Shawn. I know we were on the outs, but I know he was frantic when I turned up missing. I could feel his fear, just like I’m sure he felt mine. Where is he, Daddy?” Belle was dragging her father into the living room.

John steered her gently towards the sofa. “I think you better sit down, Belle.”

“Dad, I want to see Shawn. Please,” Belle pleaded.

“Please sit down, Belle. I need you to pay very close attention to what I have to say. Your life and Shawn’s life depend on it.”

“You’re scaring me, Daddy.” Belle looked deep into her father’s eyes and saw that he meant business. “Tell me what I need to know, Dad.”

John told Belle about the conversation he had overheard between Cassie and Tony. Belle was shocked and upset when she learned that her father and the ISA were responsible for her abduction. Her father would not let her speak. He wanted to say everything he had to say first. He told her that the ISA had produced enough evidence to allow the Salem Police to obtain a search warrant for the DiMera mansion in conjunction with the Murphy murder. The Salem police had received an untraceable, anonymous phone tip, telling them where to find the weapon used to kill Dr. Colin Murphy. He told her all about Shawn believing that his mother had killed Colin and then hiding the gun. He said not to worry about Shawn; the ISA had made certain that only Cassie’s fingerprints would be found on the gun.

“If Cassie is going to be arrested for murder, then I won’t be in danger any longer, Dad. I can come home.”

“Belle, you will never be safe from Tony. He’s going to figure out sooner or later that I was responsible for Cassie’s arrest. He will be more determined that ever to destroy our family. Even if I manage to block all his attempts to get to you, he’ll find some way to make us suffer. Think about it, Belle. He could have Shawn killed just so you would be miserable. You wouldn’t want to be responsible for anything happening to Shawn, would you?”

“Dad, we’ll be fine. I’ll have both of you to protect me. Shawn’s family will be there for us also. Let’s go home.”

“I know the DiMera’s, Belle and I know my own brother. He will not be happy until he’s destroyed our family. I can’t let him win, I just can’t.”

John reached out to draw Belle into his embrace, but she moved out of his reach. “Tony doesn’t have to worry about destroying our family, any longer. Does he, Dad?” She turned her blue eyes that were full of anger, hurt and betrayal away from her father’s questioning gaze.

“Why do you say that, Belle?”

“Tony doesn’t have to destroy our family, Dad. You did it for him. By having me disappear and following it through by eventually accepting a suicide report, you did Tony’s job for him.” Belle turned away from her father. She was so angry that she was shaking. She realized that she had to regain control of her emotions to effectively argue with John Black, the mercenary. She loved her father but she felt that he had blinders on when it came to the DiMera’s. He could only see evil when he looked in their direction. She did not doubt that Tony had planned to kidnap her. What she did doubt was the natural assumption that her father had made. He was convinced that evil would prevail over good, especially if the evil had the DiMera name.

They argued for several hours. Belle would not accept that ‘Isabella Black’ would no longer exist. John would not be swayed from his belief that his plan was the only way for Belle to have any kind of life without living in constant fear.

John had the final word. He had told his obstinate daughter that she would be confined to this cottage without any freedoms until she recognized that her life as she had known it was forever over. He told her that he would return monthly to talk to her and to see if she had accepted her fate.

It was three long months before Belle capitulated. Her father had brought her the New York and Salem newspapers that carried the story claiming the NYPD had ruled her disappearance a ‘suicide’ and the case was closed. Her father convinced her that Shawn accepted the ruling and was now living in California, preparing to attend Pepperdine. He had moved on, he said, it was time for her to do the same.

Belle felt that she would lose her mind if she couldn’t get out of the safe house. She adapted to her new ‘French’ heritage as best she could. She made no friends. She had a nodding acquaintance with her nearest neighbours, but made no effort to include them in her life. She avoided all community activities. John limited his visits to once every three months for the next year and after that, to once every six months. She was given a computer with internet access. She was given a means to contact John or Shane but was never to use it unless she felt her life was in danger. Every month John would contact her at a pre-arranged time and a pre-arranged location. If she were to miss one of these calls, she was told, the ISA would send a full team of operatives to locate her.

After three years of this, Belle was at the end of her rope. She wanted to move back to the U.S. She wanted to go to college and get a degree. She wanted to do something with her life. This was when John told her that Shawn was engaged to marry a girl he had met while going to college. Belle wouldn’t believe it. Shawn would never give up on her. She knew he still loved her. She could feel his love. John told her to check the Salem Spectator site and read a story they had printed on Shawn’s engagement party. He told her the wedding was scheduled for later that fall and that it would he held in Salem. Shawn would be graduating with a degree in criminology and intended to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Salem P.D. He told her that he would think about her request and she could call him in a week. Six days later John arrived with Belle’s new identity, new passport and new cover story. He didn’t feel it was safe for her to return to the U.S. He had comprised by moving her to Canada. He had enrolled her in the fall semester at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia. An apartment had been found and rented. She could get a roommate, but the ISA would have to run a complete background check on any prospects and John would have the final say on who would be approved as her roommate.

She was in her junior year when John told her that Shawn was the father of a baby girl. He told her Shawn was very happy. He loved his family and he loved his job. Belle told her father that she was very happy for Shawn. If anyone deserved happiness in their life, it was Shawn. John urged her to move on with her life as Shawn had. He wanted her to open herself up to the possibility of love. After the call was over, Belle had cried for hours. She didn’t think her heart could break into any more pieces after it had been shattered by the news of his marriage.

Belle pulled herself out of her reverie and decided to work on her novel. She was an English Lit major. She loved to read and write. Lately, she had channelled all her energies into writing. She went to power up her computer and nothing happened. John had just had the system upgraded so she was fairly confident that the problem wasn’t with her system. She noticed the power was out throughout the apartment. She checked with the caretaker and was told there was a power outage on their block. It would be out for several hours. She headed out. She decided to use one of the computers in the main library on campus. Most students had gone home for the holidays. There shouldn’t be a problem finding a computer free. She had heard the horror stories of students that did not have their own PC’s waiting hours to gain access to a computer. She had never needed to use the school’s computers because her computer system was always the newest and always equipped with the latest programs. Her father made sure of that.

Belle logged on to the internet and forced herself to go back into the Salem Spectator archives. She needed that feeling of raw pain and betrayal that she had felt the first time she had read the articles on Shawn’s engagement and subsequent marriage. He had married on October 21, 2006. She couldn’t believe that he had chosen her birthday as his wedding date. She needed to be able to describe that feeling in her book. Belle became more and more puzzled when she could find no reference to Shawn’s engagement or marriage on the dates they had originally appeared in the paper. She searched other dates that her dad had given her over the years. They were all stories that underlined the fact that Shawn had moved on without her and that he was living his life to the fullest. None of the articles she had read could be found.

Belle decided to do some investigating on her own. She did a search for Shawn Douglas Brady on the web. She found references to him at the Pepperdine site. She poured over his yearbook pictures, marvelling at the fact that he still looked exactly like she remembered. She read of his acceptance to the Spokane Police training academy. She read of his promotion to detective. She read his name in several accounts of investigations that he was involved in.

Belle sat staring at a grainy newspaper picture of Shawn in the Spokesman-Review. He was interviewing a potential witness to an armed robbery he was investigating. The article was dated December 19, 2009. Yesterday!

Belle rushed back to her apartment. The power had been restored. Belle logged on and checked the Salem Spectator archives for October 21, 2006. There was the article on Shawn’s marriage. She checked some of the other dates and all the articles were there. The truth came crashing down on her. Her father had been lying to her for years. Obviously, the ISA redirected some of her internet searches, thus, ensuring that John’s stories could always be verified.

Belle slipped on her jacket and drove to a convenience store. At the store she purchased a pre-paid phone card. She went outside to use a payphone. She called Directory Assistance in Spokane, Washington and got the number for the Spokane Police department. She dialed the number with shaky fingers. When she got an answer, she asked to speak to Detective Shawn Brady at the Twelfth precinct. She told the dispatcher that she had information regarding a case Det. Brady was working on.

Belle’s heart was pounding so hard and so loudly that she barely heard the soft ringing of the phone.

“Detective Brady.”

Belle couldn’t breathe when she heard the sound of his voice. It had been almost seven years since she had last spoken to him.

“This is Detective Brady. Is there anyone there?”

Belle exhaled.

“Hello, who’s there? I know someone is on the line, I can hear you breathing.”

Belle opened her mouth to speak as the tears slowly rolled down her face and then she hung up.

This wasn’t the way to reveal herself to Shawn. She had to be smart, smarter than her father. She was sure that her every move was being monitored at some level. She lifted her chin, determination shining in her blue eyes. She would outsmart her father. She would see Shawn and her father wouldn’t know about it until it was too late. She would not fail.

Salem, Illinois April 24, 2010

John called Shane and gave him a report on Belle’s memorial service.

“I thought we had neutralized Shawn Brady when we blocked his acceptance into the FBI and the ISA,” John said.

“You have to admire his tenaciousness, John. He really loves your daughter,” Shane replied.

“I overheard him telling his family that he was going to search for Belle. I need you to trace the source of any attempts made to retrieve Isabella’s fingerprints.”

“You know that we removed all records of her prints from all central databases, both nationally and internationally, John. Do you think it’s necessary to track attempts to retrieve her prints?” Shane asked.

“Yes, it will allow us to stay one step ahead of Shawn and ensure that he fails in his quest to find Belle.”

“Do you want me check if any attempts have been made to find her prints in the last few days?”

“That won’t be necessary, Shane. I heard Shawn telling Bo that he had to delay starting his search until he resolves some issues on a case he’s currently working on.”

“We’ll do as you ask, John. I’ll contact you if we get any hits.”

“Thanks, Shane. We have to do everything possible to make sure Shawn never finds Belle. Never!”

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

October 21st, 2004, 3:58 pm #7

This is a Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC-17.

I disclaim - Some of the characters in this story belong to the owners of Days Of Our Lives - the rest are just part of my imagination. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is entirely concidental. I would also like to credit all the authors of the trashy, thoroughly enjoyable romance novels that I've read. They were my inspiration for the 'love scenes'.

Chapters 10 - 14

Chapter 10

April 25, 2010 Sacred Heart Medical Centre, Research Facility

How can I be so happy, excited, nervous and scared all at the same time? I'm sure I can convince him that I still love him, that I've always loved him and that I will love him forever. Once I explain everything, he'll understand. At least, I think, he'll understand. A quick glance at the clock on the dashboard showed that she should be seeing him within the hour. What will he say when he opens the door and sees me standing there? He wouldn't shut the door in my face, would he? No, no, he wouldn't. He's going to be shocked. Where do I start? What do I say first? Should I tell him I love him first?

What the hell?
She fought to control the car and keep it on the road. She failed. Thank god I didn't roll the vehicle. I better get out and check the damage. I can't believe whoever hit me didn't even stop.

She pushed the door open with difficulty. Oh dear, the whole driver's side is damaged. Well, they left paint scrapings on the car, maybe the police will be able to trace the type of vehicle from that. I better call the police and report this. How am I going to explain that I never seen that truck until I was fighting for control of the car? Who knows how long they were behind me or where they came from. I can see and hear it now, "Miss, are you saying you never saw the vehicle that ran you off the road in your rear view or side mirror?"

"Yes, I was too busy daydreaming about....well, about the love of my life."

Oh yeah, that was going to over real well!

Wait, what's going on? Oh my god, someone is tying me up. What’s with the gag and blindfold? She whimpered as she was dragged to a waiting vehicle.

Where are they taking me? Wait, we've stopped. What are they going to do with me? They aren't going to....no, please God, help me. They’re cutting my clothes off, noooooo.
Then the beating started. That was almost preferable to what she imagined they were going to do.

The pain, I...can't...take...the...pain...anymore.

The nurse looked up from the nurse’s station when all the monitor alarms began sounding. She pressed the special code on the phone that summoned the doctors to the patient’s room in the research facility. The medical staff that had been enjoying a leisurely coffee break in the lounge, came running. They all converged at the door to the patient’s room. Cooler heads prevailed, instead of all trying to crowd through the door, one of the nurses pulled the door open and held it while the others ran inside. Dr. Gordon was alarmed at the patient’s high blood pressure and started barking out orders. They had to bring down her rapid heartbeat or the patient stood a good chance of going into cardiac arrest or stroking out. He had to determine the cause, he ordered one of the nurses to bring in the portable ultrasound. He had to find out if she was bleeding internally and he had to find out quickly.

Where are you? I need you. I don’t think I can hang on much longer. Please, I’m so afraid. You promised me that all I had to do was call and you’d be here. I’m calling for you now. Please.

Spokane International Airport

Shawn was approaching his car when a feeling of uneasiness swept over him. He was still trying to figure out the source of his unsettled feelings as he was pulling out of the airport parking lot, when he was struck with a sense of urgency. He had to get to the hospital.

He heard her pleading for his presence. As he slapped the flashing emergency light on the roof of his SUV, he sent up a silent prayer.

Shawn needed all his concentration focused on the streets he was speeding through. He tried to send her a quick thought, hoping she would hear him the same way he could hear her. I hear you. Hold on for just a while longer. I’ll be there.

Shawn already had his seat belt unbuckled and the door flung open as he screeched to a halt in front of the entrance doors to the research unit.

Sacred Heart Medical Center

Damn, what’s my security code? Think Brady, think. Shawn took a calming breath and punched in his access code and held his hand up against the scanner. The door buzzed, signalling his clearance to enter. Shawn pushed the door open and sent it crashing against the door jamb.

Andrew looked up and was shocked to see his cousin at a full run towards the patient’s room. “Hey, cuz. What’s…” He let his question drop when he realized Shawn wasn’t even aware of his presence in the room.

A nurse immediately went to Shawn and tried to push him out of the room. Shawn picked the nurse up and set her aside without even looking at her. He was focused on the woman. The nurse began calling for security when Dr. Gordon, noticed Shawn in the room. “Nurse Grady, there’s no need to call security. Detective Brady has clearance,” he told her calmly.

“But, Dr. Gordon, he shouldn’t be in the room when we’re working on the patient,” Nurse Grady stubbornly replied.

“Detective Brady can be in this room at any time. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Doctor,” the nurse answered meekly.

Shawn did not hear one word of the exchange between Dr. Gordon and the nurse. He pushed his way towards the head of the hospital bed. Dr. Gordon noticed the other medical staff trying to shoulder the young detective out of the way. “Please, give the detective a little room. When it’s critical that he stand back, I’m sure he will.”

Shawn had just picked up hand, when the blips on her heart monitor turned to a flat line. No, don’t go. I’m here now, just like I promised I would be.

“Step back Detective Brady, now.” Dr. Gordon ordered the paddles to be charged. It took three attempts to get her heart started again.

Shawn immediately pushed his way towards the woman again. Dr. Gordon took one look at the young man’s panicked eyes and just nodded at his staff to let him through. Shawn grabbed her hand and began stroking her hair and talking softly into her ear.

“I knew you were a fighter, little one. I’m sorry it took me so long to get here. You know, I’m pretty sure I caused a few drivers to have coronaries in my mad dash to get to you.” He chuckled softly, all the while rubbing his thumb over her fingers and stroking her hair. “Do you think that in the future, you might give me some lead time? Kind of give me a head’s up that you’re going to need me. That way the motorist’s on Spokane’s streets can be safe.”

The doctor and his staff stood back and watched as the patient’s condition began to stabilize when the detective started talking to her. For some of them, this was the first time they were witnesses to a case where medical science couldn’t come up with any rational explanations. They had heard of connections between loved ones sometimes working miracles. This was really extraordinary, in their minds, because the detective and the patient were strangers whose paths had crossed one storm washed night less than a week ago. They followed the doctor’s lead and filed quietly out of the patient’s room.

Andrew stood outside the window and watched as Shawn continued to sit holding the woman’s hand, stroking her hair and talking to her. What was his cousin’s connection with this woman?

Shawn talked softly non-stop for the next half hour. If anyone asked him what he told her, he wouldn’t be able to answer. He couldn’t remember what he said to her, all he could remember was the overwhelming feeling that she needed him to talk. His throat was dry when he finally quit talking to her. He looked around the room and seen a pitcher of water and an empty glass. He let go of her hand, stood and stretched, poured himself a glass of water. As he drank the water, he tried to massage the sore spot on his neck as he looked down at the woman. Belle, is that you? I have to find out for sure.

He sat down next to her bed and took her hand again. “I have some things to do now, little one. I’ll come back later to check in on you. Just remember, if you need me, just call for me. Just remember to try and give me a small hint a little in advance next time.” He leaned over and placed a light kiss on her bandaged cheek, let go of her hand and headed towards the door.

Thank you. I knew I could trust you.

Shawn heard the words reverberate through his consciousness.

Shawn was deep in thought as he headed towards the exit.

“Shawn, buddy, no time to say hello to your cousin?” Andrew shouted.

“Sorry, Andrew. I didn’t mean to ignore you. I guess I was concentrating on the case and forgot my manners. Are you settled in? Has the rest of the team arrived?”

“No problem, Shawn. I know you’ve got a lot on your mind. Do you have a few minutes to spare? I’ll fill you in on what’s been going on here while you were slacking and taking a day off.” Andrew slapped Shawn on the shoulder. “Sit down,” he said as he pulled a chair close to his desk.

“The rest of the team has arrived. Their main concern at the moment is her eye. They’ve decided that they have to start the orbital reconstruction. They believe that if they don’t start soon, there’s a good chance that she could lose the eye or at the very least, lose the vision in her right eye. The first surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning, 7a.m.”

“Is it safe to operate on her, Andrew, when she’s in a coma?” Shawn asked.

“I’m allowed to sit in on all their discussions about the reconstructive surgery, so you can rest easy, Shawn. Yes, she’ll be perfectly safe. They are experts in their field and so is the anesthesiologist that is part of their team.” Andrew watched Shawn’s reaction to this news. He was deeply perplexed over the level of concern Shawn had for this woman.

“Thanks, Andrew. How long do they expect the surgery to last? I want to be here when she comes out of recovery.”

“I’m not sure, Shawn. I’ll call you when they take her into recovery. Later on tomorrow, depending on how the surgery goes, we’re going to start taking the 3D images of her skull. Once we have the imagining done, we’ll run the software program that will create a 3D image of her skull. We’ll build a scale model from that, run the programs that will project what her face looked like before one side of it was destroyed. From there, we’ll sculpt an image of her face onto the scale model of her skull.”

Shawn listened intently. Andrew continued, “Of course, if you identify her before that or if she comes out of the coma and tells us who she is, that would hasten the process a bit.”

“What do you mean, Andrew?”

“Well, if we knew who she was, we could get recent photos of her, and reconstruct her facial features from that. Of course the researchers wouldn’t like that because they wouldn’t be able to prove that this program will work on accident victims.”

“My main concern, Andrew, is keeping her safe. My job would also be a lot easier if I knew who she was.” Shawn rose, “With that thought in mind, I’m off to the station to check on the progress of the investigation.”

“Uh, Shawn, can I ask you a question?” Andrew asked hesitantly.

“You know you can. What do you want to know?”

“How did you know that she was in trouble? You came bursting through those doors like a man possessed. Did one of the nurses call you?”

Shawn was already walking towards the exit when he glanced back at Andrew. “No nurse called for me, Andrew. She called for me and I came, just as simple as that,” as he closed the door behind him.

Chapter 11

Spokane Crime Lab

Shawn walked into Derek’s office. “Have you got good news for me, bud?”

Derek glanced up from his computer. “What, I don’t even rate a ‘hello, how are you’, just straight to business?”

“Did you find Isabella Black’s fingerprints? Do they match those of the crime victim I found on Hwy 206?”

Derek noticed the edge in Shawn’s voice. “Explain something to me Shawn. Why am I trying to match this, what’s her name again…” glancing at his papers, “Isabella Black’s prints to those of the crime victim? As far as I know, and I should know, we don’t have any idea who the victim is yet.”

Shawn lowered his head, stuck his hand in his pant’s pockets and then looked his friend straight in the eyes. “I’m going on gut instinct, just a hunch, Derek.”

“Are you sure, Shawn? You’re not just reaching for the stars, wishing for the impossible, are you?” Derek questioned softly.

“What…what do you mean?”

“Shawn, do you remember when you solved your first big case as a detective?”

Shawn smiled. “Well, I couldn’t have done it without the crack-up job done by a certain Crime Scene Investigator. Now, who was that again? Wait, wasn’t that you?”

“Do you remember that a group of guys from your precinct and our lab went down to that little dive on Water St. for a few drinks to celebrate?”

“Ugh. Don’t remind me, Derek. If I recall correctly, I was hung-over for days. What the hell did you guys feed me that night? I can’t even remember.”

“If I recall correctly, you were downing tequila and Jack Daniels shooters like they were ginger ale. It ended up just the two of us, if you remember. You told me a lot of stuff that night, Shawn. Do you remember any of it?”

Shawn began to feel uneasy. “No, what did I talk about, my illustrious high school jock days, my not so all-American family life, what?”

“You talked about her, Shawn. Isabella. Your Belle. You talked and then you cried,” Derek said softly. “The next day, I did some investigating. Shawn, she’s gone. I know that’s hard to accept, especially when a body is never recovered. It’s been seven years now. When are you going to face the fact that you’ll never see her again?”

“Never.” Shawn said coldly. “I will never accept that she is gone until I feel it in my soul. She’s alive. I’m convinced of it. Now can we get down to business, please. Did you find Isabella’s prints and are they a match?”

Derek knew that this was not the time to push his friend. “I did not find prints in any central database for an Isabella Black. I checked local, national and international databases, no prints to be found.”

Shawn looked extremely puzzled. “Well, her family had her officially declared dead a few days ago. Does that make a difference?”

“No, Shawn. Once someone’s prints are in a database, they stay there permanently.”

“But…” Shawn stopped.

“But, what, Shawn?”

“I’m trying to recall if Belle was ever fingerprinted. I guess not.” Shawn replied. “Did you run the victim’s prints?”

“Yes. No match. We still don’t have a clue who she is. As you know, there was no physical evidence left at the scene. Who ever did this to her was very thorough. It’s my theory that they beat her and left her for dead on that stretch of highway, but snatched her from some other location. I suggest you start sifting through missing person’s reports, possibly checking out abandoned vehicles to see if one of them could possibly belong to her. It’s going to be very difficult search, Shawn, if not impossible. We have no idea if this woman is from Spokane, a visitor, hell, she could have just got into town that day. Our best hope is her coming out of the coma and telling us who she is and who did this to her.”

“Thanks. Derek I’ll get things rolling on the missing persons reports and abandoned vehicles. What about the heel print that was left on her thigh? Any luck finding out what type of shoe or boot the guy was wearing?”

Derek answered with a touch of excitement in his voice. “I think we may have caught a real break with this, Shawn. The heel print is from custom-made cowboy boot. It’s a stacked heel, fairly common, with custom-made boots, but the kicker, no pun intended, is that this heel has a mark in the center. We haven’t been able to identify what the mark is yet, we’re breaking it down and trying different resolution sizes, trying to be able to read what is says. We were able to determine that the symbol is a diamond shape inside a circle. We ran that symbol and it’s a trademark used by a boot maker in Billings, Montana. We’ve contacted him and he said embedded within the diamond shape, should be another symbol. Those symbol’s are unique and one of a kind. If we can identify the symbol, he can tell us who he made the boots for. As soon as we can identify it and contact the boot maker, you should have the name of one the assailants.”

“That’s great news, Derek. You’ll let me know as soon as you know, right?”

“You can count on it Shawn.”

“I better get back to the station. See you soon, Derek.”

“Are you heading back out to your cabin after work?” Derek asked.

“Just long enough to pack some clothes and lock it up. I’m going to get myself a room in the city for a bit.”

“Why? You’ve always said you prefer the solitude of your own little piece of the world, isn’t that what you call your place?”

“I have to be able to get to her quickly when she needs me. I can’t do that if I’m out at the cabin. I’m going to look for a motel that has a kitchenette close to the hospital.”

“Shawn, she’s not going to need you before she comes out of her coma. You don’t need to stay in the city.” Derek was at a loss. He couldn’t understand Shawn’s need to be close to this victim.

“She needed me this morning and I damn near never got there in time, Derek. I’m not going to jeopardize her life again by not keeping the promise I made to her the night I found her. I promised her that all she had to was call when she needed me and I would be there. I intend to keep that promise.”

Derek stood in shock as Shawn walked away. What the hell is he talking about? How can she call for him, she’s in a coma. I’m going to have to keep a close eye on him. I think the fact that Isabella was declared legally dead has shaken him more than he realizes.

Shawn went back to the precinct. He started the process of gathering missing person’s reports. He asked them to pull the cases of missing women between the ages of eighteen to thirty for starters. The women should have blond hair, blue eyes and be between five feet and five feet four inches. He also asked them to have any abandoned vehicle reports from the police compound sent to him. He wanted to check all reports beginning April twenty-first forward and on an ongoing basis until he told them he wouldn’t need the reports any longer.

He checked in with his captain and gave him a status report. Shawn told his captain nothing about his feeling that he might know who the victim was. It was too soon for that. He had no proof to back it up.

Shawn left the precinct on his drive back to his cabin, he let the suspicion he first felt back at the crime lab move to the forefront of his consciousness. He knew for a fact that Belle had been fingerprinted. He let his mind wander back in time.

Summer 2002, Salem, IL

Belle plopped down in the booth at Dotcom across from Shawn, sighing and inspecting her hands.

“Belle, that’s the third time you’ve gone to wash your hands. Relax.” He smiled and reached across to grasp both her hands in his. He turned them palm up and teasingly said, “Oh my, Miss Belle, how can you be seen in public with this black ink on your fingertips? Got caught shop-lifting, did you? What happened, Daddy cut up the credit cards?”

“Shawn!” She started to rise out of her seat.

“Belle, I’m just kidding. You’re hands are clean, a little wrinkly looking from all that scrubbing.”

Belle pulled her hands out of his and gave one of his hands a little slap. “Oh, Shawn. I don’t know why I had to be finger-printed. Dad is just totally paranoid now that another DiMera has risen from the ashes. Tony’s return to Salem has totally freaked him out.”

“Belle, he’s just doing what he can to try and protect you. With everything the DiMera’s have done to your family and mine, I can’t say I blame him. I just got you back in my life, I can’t even bear the thought of having anything happen to you.”


He loved the way she said his name. The way she lowered her voice and accented the ‘aw’ sent shivers of excitement down his spine. He reached for her hand. “What do you say. Shall we get out of here and go somewhere that’s a little more private?”

Belle looked into his darkened eyes and felt a small shudder run through her. “Why, Mr. Brady, whatever did you have in mind?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Just a lot of this.” He leaned across the table and brushed a soft kiss across her parted lips.

He smiled as he recalled her response.

“I say, what are we waiting for?” as she reached for purse and stood.

Hwy 206

Shawn brought his mind back to the present.

Someone had Belle’s prints removed from the central databases. Who could possibly have that much power and influence? The DiMera’s? Possibly. Shawn knew that they could have people working inside many organizations. So yes, it would be possible. But what would be their motive? What advantage would be gained by the DiMera family by having all copies of Belle’s fingerprints removed?

He could think of absolutely no valid reason that not having Belle’s prints on file would be of any benefit to the DiMera family.

He could think of only one other person beside his grandfather, Victor Kiriakis, that might wield that type of power and influence.

Did he even want to entertain that possibility?

He really didn’t have any choice He had to look at this from every angle.

Oh, god, Belle. Is it possible that your father took you away from your family, from your home, from all the people who loved you under the misguided conception that this was the only way to protect you?

Shawn instinctively knew the answer to his own question. Yes, John would do anything, anything to protect his family if he thought they were in danger.

Shawn knew what he had to do next and he knew it wasn’t going to be easy. He was going to have to investigate John Black and probably the ISA. He had held a long standing suspicion that John was an undercover agent for the ISA. The trick was going to be keeping John and the ISA in the dark. He couldn’t let them find out that he suspected they were responsible for Belle’s disappearance.

Soon, Belle. Soon we’ll be together again.

Chapter 12

Shawn settled into his suite at the Rodeway Inn. He was just a few blocks away from the hospital. He unpacked and pulled out his laptop. He needed to map out his strategy. He had to find out for sure if his suspicions were correct. Did John have Belle placed into protective custody? If he had, that would mean Belle was somewhere living an entirely new life.

John couldn’t have pulled off something of this magnitude without assistance. Shawn felt that he must have had help from the ISA. He also felt pretty sure that John wouldn’t want too many people to have knowledge of this operation. Who would he trust? Only one name crossed his mind, Shane Donavon.

Shawn had starting pacing. Was it possible that Andrew was in on it? That Andrew knew along that Belle was alive and well. Shawn stopped and stared out the window of his suite. It was a clear night. Even the night lights of the city couldn’t dim the brightness of the stars in the sky. The more he thought about it, the more he became convinced that Andrew had no idea that Belle had been placed into a protection program.

Shawn tried to put himself into John’s situation. Tried to think of what would prompt him to separate Belle from her family and friends. It would have had to be something so severe that even John would feel that he couldn’t keep Belle safe from the threat.

Shawn began pacing again. Pacing helped him to organize his thoughts better. He thought back to the months leading up to Belle’s disappearance. Ever since the reappearance of Tony DiMera, John had been more determined than ever to bring down the house of DiMera. Shawn had to agree with Belle’s assessment that John’s paranoia had increased when he had learned that he shared a mother with Tony. This had to have something to do with the DiMera’s.

Shawn had this sinking feeling that John had reacted from a place of fear. That he had not really thought his actions through. John was so sure the DiMera’s were out to destroy his family that he would have done anything to protect them, even the unthinkable.

Trying to put himself back into John’s mindset at the time, Shawn came to the conclusion that John confided in no one except Shane. This would mean that Marlena was totally unaware that her youngest daughter was still alive.

Shawn was convinced that he was right. For the first time since Belle’s disappearance things made sense to him. Having John spirit Belle away and giving her a new identity sounded a lot more logical to him than Belle committing suicide.

Shawn got ready for bed and as he reached over to shut off the lamp, he had a smile on his face. Tomorrow, he would begin to prove that his theory about Belle’s disappearance was correct. For a brief moment, the thought that he would not be able to get very far into his investigation before John was on to him, crossed his mind. No, he had his strategy all mapped out. If he followed his plan and did not get ahead of himself, he should have all the answers he needed to confirm his suspicions. If he moved too quickly, the ISA and John would find out he was investigating Belle. If that happened, any chance of finding out Belle’s new identity and location would become extremely difficult, if not impossible.

April 26, 2010 Office of the Junior Senator

Shawn approached the office of the Junior Senator from Washington with a slight feeling of trepidation. He had to tread very carefully. He had to make sure the favour he was about to ask for was handled very discreetly.

“Detective Brady? I’m Evan Blair, one of Senator Baker’s aides, how can I help you?”

“In 2006, I filled out an application to become a F.B.I. agent. My application was denied. The reason given was that I did not fit the particular hiring profile at that time. I need to know the real reason for the denial.” Shawn stated bluntly.

“We could certainly look into it, but it would help if you would give us a little more information.”

Shawn hesitated a moment, took a good look at Evan Blair, and made a judgment call on his trustworthiness. “I need to know if this decision was made due to the efforts of an outside party.”

“You need to know if someone outside the F.B.I. used their influence to have your application denied. Who do you suspect wielded that influence?”

“That’s what I was hoping you could find out for me. Can you, Mr. Blair?”

“We can make some inquiries on your behalf.” He looked at the Detective closely. “I get the feeling that you want this handled with discretion.”

“Yes, I do.” Shawn handed him his card and told him to call as soon as he had an answer for him.

Sacred Heart Medical Center

Shawn sat with her for about an hour after she came out of recovery. He talked to her softly. All the while he kept asking himself if this woman could possibly be Belle. If it was Belle, why had she waited all this time to try and contact him? That didn’t sound like the Belle he knew. She would have fought her dad tooth and nail to be allowed to live her own life. But then, Shawn had no idea what John’s reasons for putting Belle into protective custody were. He had no idea what he would have told her. He knew one thing for sure, if Belle had thought that she would be jeopardizing the life of another family member or his life, she would have done what her father asked.

Shawn hung his head in silent prayer. God, I need your help, please. I need to know if this poor defenceless woman is Belle. Guide me and help me keep her safe. I just need you to give me a sign, anything, that will tell me who she is.

Shawn waited silently. He sighed as he rose from his chair. He hadn’t really expected God to answer his prayer, but he had hoped.

He talked with Andrew for awhile. They made arrangements to have dinner together that night and catch up on family news.

Twelfth Precinct

Shawn closed the last of the abandoned vehicle reports. After spending the past three hours pouring over the missing persons and abandoned vehicle reports, he had a pounding headache.

He made a quick call to Derek to get a status report. He had nothing new to report.

He called Andrew and cancelled their dinner date and rescheduled it for the next night.

Rodeway Inn

He made his way back to his suite, stripped, took a long cool shower, swallowed a couple of extra strength Tylenol and crawled under the covers and sought the blessed relief of sleep.

Belle, is that really you?

Yes, Shawn, I’ve come back to you. I’m here and nobody is ever going to take me away from you ever again.

Shawn reached out in sleep. I need you, Belle.

Well, then move over, tough boy, and let me get in beside you.
Shawn could hear her soft giggle. He reached over to pull down the covers when he heard her call.

Shawn bolted out of bed and rushed to the hospital. The on duty nurse didn’t even question his presence at the hospital. The patient’s blood pressure had elevated but levelled off after the arrival of the young detective. The staff surmised that the patient was dreaming, possibly of the assault that put her into this condition. This pattern continued several times in the following days. Her blood pressure would rise, she would become very agitated and before too long, the detective would show up. He didn’t have to be notified, he just knew. It got to be such a pattern, that they formed a betting pool. They placed bets to see how many minutes it would take for Detective Brady to get there after her blood pressure shot up.

May 4, 2010

Shawn was growing increasingly frustrated. He was not making any progress in either of his investigations. Derek’s group still had not been able to determine what the symbol was on the heel print. If they could figure out what it was, they would be able to make an arrest. Once they had someone in custody, all kinds of information could come to light that would lead Shawn to be able to learn the identity of the woman in the hospital.

The few leads he checked out from the missing persons and abandoned vehicles reports all had proved to be dead-ends.

The 3D image of the patient’s skull would be ready tomorrow and then Andrew and the group of researchers would start building the model of her skull. Andrew had told him that would take at least a week to ten days to complete. It would take a minimum of another week to build a plaster model of what they determined her facial features to be.

He still hadn’t heard from Evan Blair about his application.

He was getting ready to leave for the day when his phone rang. “Detective Brady, Twelfth Precinct.”

“This is Evan Blair from the…”

“I know who you are, Mr. Blair,” he interrupted. “What did you find out?”

“Are you comfortable discussing this over the phone, Detective Brady.”

“Yes. Go ahead.”

“Senator Atkins had your application denied.”

“Senator Atkins, enlighten me. Who is he?”

“He’s from Illinois, your home state, if I’m not mistaken. He also sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, the committee that green lights federal funding, including the F.B.I. budget. I doubt that anyone would turn down a request for a little favour from him.”

“Thanks for the information, Mr. Blair.” Shawn said.

“Do you want me to try and find out why the Senator had you turned down?”

“No, thanks. I’ll take it from here. I appreciate everything you have done on my behalf.” Shawn hung up the phone. He took a deep breath and placed a call to Salem.

“Hi, Uncle Mickey. It’s Shawn.” After they chatted a bit about family, Shawn said, “I need a favour, Uncle Mickey.”

“What can I do for you Shawn?” Mickey’s voice boomed over the phone.

“I need to know who contributes large amounts of money to Senator Atkins campaign fund. Do you think you can find that information out without raising any warning flags in his office?”

“I’ll see what I can find out for you, Shawn. Can I ask what this is about?”

“It’s personal, Uncle Mickey. I’m sorry, but I can’t go into more detail. Once I find out everything I need to know, I should have good news and that I’ll share with everyone.”

“Sure thing, Shawn. I’ll email you the information as soon as I get it together. Take care of yourself.”

“Thanks, Uncle Mickey. Give Aunt Maggie my love.”

Rodeway Inn May 11, 2010 3:40am

Shawn was slightly disoriented as he sat up in bed. What had caused him to wake up? Oh, his beeper. Where was it?

He reached over and switched on the lamp. He checked the number on the display. His heart rate increased when he recognized the number from the research facility.

He grabbed for his cellular and dialed the number. What had happened? She hadn’t called for him or had she?

“Nurses Station…”

“This is Detective Brady, what’s wrong. What happened to her?” His words tumbled out as he fought to control his panic.

“Relax, Detective. Nothing bad happened. She’s fine, well as fine as a person in her position could be. We’re just calling to let you know that she came out of her coma. We're assuming that the word ‘him’ she scribbled on a note pad, refers to you. She wants to see you.”

Chapter 13

May 11, 2010 2am, Sacred Heart Medical Centre

I should really wake up. Ummm. I want to wake up. Am I sleeping? Why do I feel like I’m awake and sleeping at the same time? She shifted slightly. Pain flooded over her. It felt like thousands of hot needles where being jabbed into her all at the same time. She held her breath, hoping that the pain would pass. She had to exhale. The simple act of breathing in and breathing out became almost unbearable.

Wha…what’s wrong with me? What happened to me? I have to wake up! I feel like I’m in a fog so thick that I can’t see my own fingers that I’m holding up right in front of my face. She tried to lift her hand and felt herself falling, falling backwards into an abyss.

I…I…can’t blackout. Instinctively she seemed to sense that if she left herself fall into that ‘abyss’, she would never be able to find her way back.

Uh…uh…Maybe if I just scream I could release some of this pain. Mmmmm. I can’t open my mouth. What’s wrong with me? Oh, I hurt so much. Was I in an accident? Where am I? She held her breath as she faintly heard a rustling sound. Who’s here with me? Why can’t I remember where I am? I’m sure I’m in bed…at least, I think I am.

She felt a cool, soft touch on her wrist when whoever was in the room with her picked up her hand.

Nurse Ross was in to check the patient’s vitals. She glanced at the chart to scan the last set of readings. She’d take her pulse first. She didn’t really expect any change. At first she wasn’t sure, but the pulse felt stronger than any previous time. She checked the rate and noticed it was slightly elevated. She looked at the patient and noticed the increased rise and fall of her chest, indicating that she was breathing in and out at a faster rate. She laid the woman’s hand down gently and quickly left the room.

She had Dr. Gordon paged. She was grateful that the doctor was staying on site, preferring to remain close to the patient until she regained consciousness. He listened to the nurse’s report and told him to summon the team and they would do a full evaluation. He decided to wait until the team arrived before starting the exam. He kept a close eye on the monitor readings while he waited.

She heard the rustling sound retreat and the sound of a door opening and closing. Good, I’m alone again. I have to remember what happened to me. Think, just think. Focus. She tried to focus and concentrate on remembering where she was. The pain was overwhelming her and for several minutes the only thing she could focus on was trying to breathe through the agony.

She knew something was wrong, very wrong. What happened to me? At that moment, flashes of memory flooded over her. She visualized the road she had been travelling on, her struggle to keep the car on the road. Oh, no! I was kidnapped. Am I being held prisoner here? No, wait. They…hurt…me. Oh… my… god…they…hurt…me. Why?

She heard voices. Are they back? Are they going to kill me now? No, No! The memory of a soothing voice played through her mind. Whose voice is that?

Several people began speaking at once. She felt hands at her wrist and on her neck. They weren’t hurting her. She listened to them speaking and realized that they were talking about a ‘patient’. Why are they talking about a patient? Why aren’t they helping me? Why can’t I talk? It took her several minutes to realize that the ‘patient’ they kept referring to, was her. She felt someone peeling back her eyelid. What? That light is too bright! Let me close my eyes.

“Miss, Miss…can you hear me?” Dr. Gordon took her left hand in his.

She listened intently. That’s not the voice I want to hear. I need to hear his voice. Are you here? Please, I need you. She tried to shut out the voice of the man who had her hand. I wish I had the strength to pull my hand away, but I don’t. I should sleep. That’s it, I’ll sleep. Maybe I only hear his voice in my dreams. Maybe he’s not real. I know he makes me feel safe. She felt herself beginning to drift into sleep, when the man’s voice pulled her back.

“Miss…You need to pay attention to me. I know you must be in pain. Listen. If you can hear me, just squeeze my hand.” Dr. Gordon waited. “Focus, please. Can you squeeze my hand?”

Should I do what he wants? Can I do what he wants? I…I’ll try.

Dr. Gordon felt the slightest pressure on his hand. “That’s good. Just try one more time. Try and squeeze my hand just a little harder.” He felt the pressure on his hand increase. “Good girl. I know you’re probably tired but we have some more tests to run on you.”

No. Too tired. She paid attention to the other voices, desperate to hear that one voice.

Her hand began to tremble. Dr. Gordon could feel the tremors and he immediately became concerned.

“Mmmmmm.” Why won’t my mouth work?

“Miss, you can’t talk. Your jaw was broken so we had to wire it shut. Are you tired? If you want us to wait to run our tests, just squeeze my hand once,” Dr. Gordon said.

I don’t have the energy to do this. She squeezed the man’s hand again. She heard him ordering medication for her. No, I need him, please.

Dr. Gordon turned back towards the patient when he heard her moan. He wondered if she was in a great deal of pain and if this was her way of asking for help. He noticed her left hand moving agitatedly against the blankets. He looked more closely at her movements and came to the realization that she was trying to form letters. He placed his hand over hers and asked her softly, “Do you want a pen and notepad?” She turned her hand over and squeezed his in reply.

She could barely hold the pen in her fingers. She heard the doctor’s voice telling her to take her time. It seemed to take an eternity to scrawl the three letters. She prayed they would understand who she meant. The pen slipped when she was writing the ‘m’ – she didn’t have any strength left. He is your strength. Someone had said that to her. When? Where? Who? All her thoughts were jumbled. She didn’t know what was real or what wasn’t. She did know the pain was real. Very real and almost unbearable.

Dr. Gordon looked at her note and issued an order to Nurse Ross in a hushed tone. He spoke softly to the patient. “We’re calling him now. He’ll be here soon. Don’t worry, he won’t let you down. He’s been here for you whenever you’ve needed him before. This time won’t be any different. You rest for a while. He’ll be by your side shortly.”

The doctor ordered the medical team out of the room.

I’ll just rest for awhile.

She didn’t know if she slept or not but she knew the second he came through the door. She sensed his presence. She sensed his worry. She also sensed that he was both joyous and anxious. That was confusing. Why was he feeling all these different emotions?

Her reactions to his emotions were pushed aside by her reaction to him. A reaction she never expected but didn’t question.

I’m home. He is my home. He is my destiny.

Chapter 14

Sacred Heart Medical Center May 11, 2010 4:30am

Shawn’s heart was pounding as he entered his security code and pressed his hand against the scanner. A few more minutes and I will know if she is Belle. She’ll recognize me. He began to run towards her door when Dr. Gordon called out to him.

“Detective Brady. Wait. I want to talk to you before you go and see her.”

Shawn stopped, annoyed, “Can’t this wait until after I see her?”

“No, it can’t. I just want to make you aware of what to expect and what not to expect from her,” Dr. Gordon cautioned.

“What do you mean, doctor?”

“She just came out of a coma. She is extremely weak. She has to be experiencing an inordinate amount of pain. She is disoriented. It’s safe to say she’s not quite sure of where she is and how she came to be here. I doubt that she has yet to remember everything. I don’t want you going in there and barraging her with all kinds of questions.”

Shawn looked up at the doctor. “Have you told her anything yet?”

“Just that her jaw had been broken and it was wired shut when it was clear that she was trying to speak. It’s going to extremely difficult for the patient when her memories of the assault return. It’s also going to a shock when she finds out the extent of her injuries. She isn’t going to appreciate how extraordinarily lucky she is to be alive at first, because she’s not going to be able to see past her injuries. These are normal reactions. She’s going to need support. The sooner you find her family and loved ones, the better her outlook is going to be. Have you made any progress in finding out who she is?” the doctor asked.

“No, I haven’t. What do you mean that she is extraordinarily lucky?” Shawn was curious to find out what the doctor meant by that statement.

“Just in the fact that whoever beat her so badly didn’t land a death blow. All they had to do was concentrate on her head area and they would have killed her very quickly. Also, the fact that none of her essential organs were damaged beyond repair proves that she was fortunate. Whoever did this to her wasn’t going for a quick kill, in my opinion, they wanted her to suffer. But that’s your area of expertise. I’m sure you’re doing whatever you can to find the person or persons responsible.”

“Yes, we are doing everything we can, doctor. Can I go in now? I won’t question her; I will wait until you give me the go ahead.”

“One more thing, Detective Brady. You seem to have developed a very strong connection with the patient. I’m not going to question why, I just need to know, if you are going to stand by her. If you don’t find out who she is, are you going to be her support throughout her very tough rehabilitation? Her emotional state is very important to us and to her healing process.” Dr. Gordon was very hesitant to broach this subject with the young man standing in front of him. He mentally braced himself for his reaction.

“I’m sure she’ll tell us who she is soon. Even when her family is located and here with her, I will not abandon her. I will be here for as long as she needs me. Can I please go in to see her, now

Dr. Gordon nodded and watched as the detective headed towards the patients room.

Shawn opened the door and made his way towards her. All types of emotions racing through him. He was worried about her condition, both mental and physical. He was excited at the possibility of being reunited with the love of his life after all these years. He tried to gain control over his emotions so that he could concentrate on her needs.

He stood beside her bed looking down at her and such a feeling of ‘rightness’ and ‘belonging’ settled over him that for a brief moment he couldn’t breathe. He noticed how his hand was trembling when he reached out to lightly touch her hair as be bent over to press a soft kiss to her bandaged forehead. As he straightened, he noticed that her left hand was outstretched, reaching to make contact with him.

He took her trembling hand and placed it in his hand that was still shaking and raised it towards his lips as he sat next to her. “I’m here, little one. I won’t leave you, I promise.” Shawn couldn’t stop his eyes from filling with tears as she squeezed his hand in response. He hoped he could talk to her without breaking into sobs. He knew she needed to hear his voice.

“You really need to rest. You need to start getting your strength back. Don’t worry about anything. The doctors and nurses here will take really good care of you.” Shawn tried to keep his voice low and comforting. “I’ve taken measures to keep you safe. I won’t let anyone hurt you again.”

Shawn mentally kicked himself when he felt her panic when he brought up keeping her safe.

Safe. Hurt. The flashbacks started. It was like she could feel the force of each blow all over again. Her terror increased as memories and reality blurred. She was back in that place, absolutely terrified and fighting for her life. Who was hurting her? Why? She tried to open her eyes and remembered that she was blindfolded. Stop, please stop. I can’t take it anymore. She heard that voice again and her inner turmoil began to subside.

“I’m sorry, little one. It’s me. No one is hurting you. Can you open your eyes? Just look at me. I promise you’re safe. Please, little one, look at me and you’ll know that I’ll never let anyone hurt you ever again,” Shawn pleaded.

I can’t see you. Take the blindfold off first. She then remembered that she was in a hospital. She wasn’t blindfolded any longer. Why did it feel like she still was? She struggled to open her eyes.

Shawn watched as she tried to open her undamaged eye. Come on, just open your eye. You’ll see me, Belle. Your Shawn. You’ll know your safe now. He knew he should stop thinking of her as Belle until he had absolute proof, but he couldn’t help himself.

She tried to focus her vision on the man sitting so close to her. Her vision was blurry and her eyes hurt. The image became clearer. She looked into the deep brown depths of his eyes. She saw a look of concern, care and an edge of excitement. She instinctively knew she could trust this man with her life. An unbidden thought crossed her consciousness, he is your life.

Shawn’s heart plummeted when he looked into her pain-filled eye and didn’t see any sense of recognition from her. She doesn’t know me. He fought back his despair by recalling Dr. Gordon’s words warning him that she was very disoriented.

Her eye fluttered closed as she pulled her hand from his grasp. She very slowly lifted her left hand to touch her face. She realized that her right eye was bandaged and so was her face.

Shawn sensed her rising panic. “You were hurt, little one. Don’t worry about it now. You’re being well taken care of. I should leave now so that you can get some rest. I’ll be back later.”

Shawn felt the pressure on his hand increase. She turned his hand palm up and he realized she was trying to form letters on his hand. S…t…a… “Do you want me to stay with you, little one?” he asked tenderly.

She squeezed his hand. “Okay. Let me try and get this chair positioned so that I can try and get a little bit comfortable,” he chuckled softly. He felt her tugging at his hand and noticed that she was trying, unsuccessfully, to shift herself over in the bed.

“Do you want to me to lie with you, little one?” he asked in amazement. He couldn’t believe that she was that willing to trust him so completely.

She tugged on his hand again and very gingerly nodded to indicate ‘yes’.

“Don’t try and move. I’ll move you, don’t worry.” Shawn dropped the sides of her bed down and positioned his hip and leg on the bed next to her. He carefully placed one arm under her neck and other around her waist as he moved her ever so slowly over a few inches. He left his arm underneath her and around her shoulder as he placed her bandaged face on his chest and nestled his face against her silky hair. He pulled himself onto the narrow hospital bed and lay on his side with his other hand wrapped firmly around her waist.

“Dr. Gordon, come over here. Am I supposed to allow this?” Nurse Ross asked as she pointed towards the window to the patient’s room. Dr. Gordon watched the young detective cautiously moving the patient so that he could lie next to her and hold her while she slept.

“Yes, you can allow this. What I want you to do is to go into that room quietly, close the blinds, shut the overhead lights off and softly close the door behind you when you come out. Can you do that?”

“Yes, doctor.”

Even though he was lying in probably the most uncomfortable position that he’d ever tried to sleep in, Shawn had one of the best nights of sleep in years. He dreamt of Belle. She was running through the yard toward the cabin, beckoning him, teasing him. She was laughing.

Shawn didn’t awaken when the on duty nurse slipped in quietly, removed his shoes and covered him with a blanket.

He awoke with a start when he felt someone gently slapping his face. He looked into her eye and saw that she was confused and scared.

“Don’t be scared, little one. It’s me, Shawn. Actually, I’m Detective Shawn Brady of the Spokane Police Department. I’m the person that found you. Do you remember that?”

She nodded, but she was extremely agitated.

Shawn noticed that she was trying to point to something on the table next to the bed. He had to get out of the bed so that he could look in that direction. He picked up the notepad and pen. “Is this what you want?”

She reached out.

He placed the notepad and pen into her hand and tried to hold the pad steady as she wrote. She finished and he turned it right side up to read what she had printed. Shawn felt a sense of shock and dismay course through his body as he read the three shaky words, ‘Who am I?’

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

October 21st, 2004, 3:59 pm #8

This is a Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC-17.

I disclaim - Some of the characters in this story belong to the owners of Days Of Our Lives - the rest are just part of my imagination. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is entirely concidental. I would also like to credit all the authors of the trashy, thoroughly enjoyable romance novels that I've read. They were my inspiration for the 'love scenes'.

Chapters 15 - 19

Chapter 15

Sacred Heart Medical Center May 11, 2010 9am

Shawn swallowed hard, trying to quash his sense of disappointment. “You…you…can’t remember your name?”

He rushed to her side when he seen her tears and the shaking of her head.

He sat next to her and tenderly gathered her trembling body into the comfort of his arms. “Don’t cry, little one. I’m sure this is just temporary. You suffered very serious injuries. You need to give your body time to heal.”

He cradled her and spoke softly to her until she seemed calm. He pulled back and looked at her. “I’m going to get the doctors now. I’ll let them explain your injuries and what they’ve done and are going to do to make sure you’re back to your old self before too long.”

He slipped off the bed and was turning to leave when she grasped his hand. He looked closely at her and read the question in her mind. “I won’t leave you. I promise. Do you want me to stay with you when the doctors talk to you?”

She nodded ‘yes.’

Shawn slipped his shoes on and went to summon Dr. Gordon.

Shawn asked the nurse to page Dr. Gordon and went in search of Andrew.

“Hey, Andrew,” he greeted his cousin who was busily at work on his computer.

Andrew glanced up. “Hey, yourself. What’s up with the just out of bed look, cuz? Had a hot date last night and came straight over here, did you?”

“Our victim came out of her coma very early this morning, Andrew. I’ve been in with her. Could you please find Dr. Thornton and ask him to come into the patient’s room? It’s time for her to find out exactly what she’s facing over the next several weeks. You might as well come along. She should meet the man that’s helping develop the program that is going to re-create her face.”

“The program won’t be necessary, Shawn, now that she is out of her coma. The medical team can just use recent pictures,” he said.

“She can’t remember who she is, Andrew.”

Andrew looked closely at Shawn, taking note of the tone of sadness that tinged his voice. “I can see that you were really hoping that once she came to, she could help clear up the mystery of who she is and who did this to her. Solving another crime would look good on your record. Maybe the ISA would rethink their earlier decision and allow you entry.”

“I don’t care what my record looks like, Andrew. And the ISA is never going to hire me as an agent as long as…” Shawn stopped before he said more than he intended. He hadn’t decided whether or not to confide in Andrew. “Show some compassion. I can’t imagine what it must be like to wake up in a strange place, in severe pain and then have no idea who you are, can you?”

Andrew placed a hand on Shawn’s shoulder, “No, you’re right. I’m sorry. That was very insensitive of me. I can see that you care deeply for her, Shawn.” He stopped momentarily, not quite sure if he should continue or drop it. “I think that we better talk about this, soon. You’re breaking the first rule of police work. Do not let your emotions get involved.

Shawn stopped himself from telling his cousin to mind his own business when he noticed the look of concern in his eyes. “We will, Andrew. Just give me a little time, all right?”

“Sure thing, cuz. Let’s go see this little lady that seems to have you wrapped around her little finger, shall we?”

Shawn introduced her to Dr. Gordon, Dr. Thornton and Andrew. He explained that Dr. Gordon was the doctor that was on duty in the ER when she was brought in. He explained that Dr. Thornton was the head of a medical team that was going to work on her face. “We’ll talk more about that in a few minutes, okay?” He waited for her acknowledgement. “And this other guy in the room is my cousin. He works for the ISA. That stands for International Security Agency. Don’t let the big name fool you, they’re really just glorified policemen. His name is Andrew Donovan.”

Shawn tried to lighten the mood for her, because he knew she was going to receive some devastating information from the doctors. He also knew he had to find out if she remembered anything at all and if she did, he knew the memories were going to be painful and horrifying.

Shawn looked at Dr. Gordon and got the go ahead to start questioning her about the night of her assault.

He laid his hand over hers and intertwined his fingers with hers. He watched her closely as he began. “Do you remember what happened to you the night you were hurt?” He could see and sense her fear. “It’s okay. You’re safe here. Do you remember?” She nodded.

Shawn felt his excitement rising. “Do you know who it was that hurt you?”

She nodded ‘no’ and Shawn regrouped. “Do you remember anything about the men who did this to you?”

She became extremely agitated and kept shaking her head ‘no.’ Dr. Gordon stepped up. “Don’t try and force yourself to remember. Memory loss is not uncommon considering the trauma you suffered, both physically and emotionally. Don’t push it. We’ll have someone come and talk to you about how to cope with amnesia.”

Dr. Gordon then talked to her outlining the massive injuries she had sustained. She listened intently, absorbing the news stoically. He told her that her internal injuries and broken bones had been taken care of the night she was injured. “You suffered multiple injuries to the right side of your face,” he said. “You’re injuries are so severe that the only hope we have of restoring your face to its former image, is to try an experimental program. I’ll let Dr. Thornton give you a more detailed explanation.”

Dr Gordon stepped aside and Dr. Thornton moved forward. They all noticed that she held up her hand as if to say ‘Stop.’

“Are you tired? Do you want to rest?” Shawn asked.

She pointed to the pen and notepad. Shawn again held the notepad steady for her as she wrote. He noticed that although, her hand was shaky, she seemed to be comfortable writing left-handed. Belle is left-handed. “Who’s the note for?” She pointed to Dr. Gordon. As he passed the notepad to the doctor, she dropped the pen and grabbed his hand. Shawn knew from the grip she had on his hand that she was bracing herself for the doctor’s response.

“Do you want to talk about this confidentially, or should the others remain in the room?” Dr. Gordon asked.

She dropped Shawn’s hand and pointed to Dr. Gordon, Shawn and herself. Dr. Gordon asked Dr. Thornton and Andrew to step out of the room for a few minutes. After they left, he passed the notepad back to Shawn. He looked down and read ‘Rape?’ His stomach revolted at the thought of her being violated in such a brutal manner. He took a few deep, quick breaths and reached for hand, waiting for the doctor’s answer just as anxiously as she did. He knew the initial exam hadn’t shown any external signs of sexual assault, but he wanted confirmation from the doctor himself.

“You were not raped. We did a preliminary exam for signs of sexual assault when you were in the ER examining room.”

“You’re absolutely certain of this, Dr. Gordon?” Shawn asked.

She waited anxiously for the doctor’s reply. “I’m absolutely certain. Her hymen is still intact. The young lady is a virgin, Detective Brady. Now I’m going to get Dr. Thornton back in the room to describe the reconstructive surgery process to her.”

Both Shawn and the woman paid close attention as the head of the plastic surgeons research team outlined her treatment. The next surgery on her eye was scheduled for tomorrow. The model of her skull was almost completed. They hoped to finish it within the next few hours. All of her facial bones on the right side of her face had been broken during the assault. They were going to have to break them again to set them. If a bone was broken beyond repair, they would replace it using the same material they were building the model of her skull with. They had constructed duplicates of each bone that had been built for the model. They hoped, with her consent, that they could do the reconstruction surgery on the twenty-first of May.

They told her how they were going to sculpt her face onto the model. They told her that when it was complete, it should look just like she would have before the injuries. They told her that this was experimental, but that they were very confident in the technology they were using.

“Now, young lady, do you think that you could possibly sign the consent forms required? Of course, you’ll have to be identified as Jane Doe with a unique ID number for legal purposes because you can’t remember your name. Now that you are out of your coma, we can not continue treating you unless you agree to it. Should I have a nurse bring them in?” Dr. Thornton asked.

She nodded yes.

“Detective Brady, we’ll have photographs of this young woman’s sculpted face taken as soon as it’s completed. Using one of our software programs, we’ll add hair, eyes, skin tones, to the picture. This finished picture should be a very close match. You’ll be able to use it to help find out the identity of our patient here, if she hasn’t remembered.”

Shawn felt the pressure on his hand increase as she struggled to sit up. He glanced over at her as she dropped his hand and picked up the pen. She was shaking her head ‘no.’

“Are you saying you won’t sign the consent forms now, little one?” Shawn was confused when she kept shaking her head. He could sense her frustration in not being able to communicate properly. He waited patiently as she struggled to write. She handed the notepad to him. He read, ‘Photos – Police – NO!’

“I don’t understand. You don’t want the police to have your photo, is that what you are saying?” Shawn was stunned when she nodded ‘yes.’ “I thought you trusted me. We need those photos. We can …” Shawn stopped. He understood.

I do trust you, Shawn. I’m just so scared. They might hurt me again.

“You’re scared that the people who did this to you will try and finish what they started, aren’t you?” Shawn didn’t need to see her nod her head yes, he had already heard her unspoken response. “I give you my word that we won’t broadcast your picture. We won’t leak anything to the media. We won’t plaster your picture all over TV and newspapers with a big headline ‘Do You Know This Woman.’ We’ll just use it through police channels, trying to match it with missing person’s reports.”

She wrote again. ‘NO.’

“I understand your scared. You’re safe, nothing can happen to you here. I’ll make sure that only police agencies will get copies of your picture.”

He sensed she was angry. Her hand was shaking more than normal as she wrote another note.

‘Won’t sign unless you agree only doctors see pictures.’

Shawn tried to keep his temper under control. “Are you saying you won’t sign the consent forms unless I agree that the police, including myself, don’t get to see photos of what you look like?”

Andrew sensed that his cousin was on the verge of losing it and immediately jumped in and pulled Shawn back. He asked everyone to excuse them for just a moment and pulled Shawn out of the room into one of the offices and closed the door.

“Shawn, you’ve got to calm down. You know how important it is for these surgeons to be able to trial this new technology. You’re going to jeopardize everything they’ve spent years working on by being so stubborn. So you don’t get to see her picture. Big deal! You have other methods of finding out who she is. Don’t blow this for us.”

Shawn exploded. “I need to see that picture, damn it, Andrew. I have to see it!” He started pacing furiously within the confines of the small office. He never even realized he was talking out loud. “Oooh…That’s sooo typical. Everything always had to be done your way. You’re just as stubborn and infuriating as ever, Belle.” He stopped short when he noticed the shocked look on Andrew’s face.

Andrew stood in front of Shawn and grabbed him by the upper arms. “Are you trying to tell me that you think that woman is Belle?”

Shawn sighed, this was the moment of truth. Either Andrew was in or out. He looked into the depths of his cousin’s eyes and hesitated for just a second before he answered, “Yes, I do believe the woman in that room is Belle. And you, my favourite cousin, are going to help me prove it.”

Chapter 16

Sacred Heart Medical Center May 11, 2010

She watched as Shawn’s cousin pushed him out of her room. She was fuming. Who does he think he is? Doesn’t he understand the meaning of the word ‘no’? I bet he’s not used to any female saying no to him. A man as good looking as he is probably has women tripping over themselves to do his bidding.

Humph. Not this female! I’m scared to death that who ever hurt me will try again. I can’t believe he’s angry with me for not letting him have access to those pictures.


She immediately felt guilty for thinking of him in that manner. A cascade of memories flashed through her mind. The sound of his voice bringing her back from the brink of death. The comforting grip of his hand on her hand. The gentle caress of his fingers stroking her hair. The steady sound of his heartbeat as he cradled her in his arms while she slept. The way that his mere presence made her feel so safe and secure.

Why do I get the sense that he’s taking my refusal personally? Why is what I look like so important to him?

She was so tired, confused, and scared. Why can’t I remember anything except flashes of that night? Who am I? What was I doing?

More memories. I was on my way to see him. Him. The man I love with all my heart. Oh, why can’t I remember who he is? We must have had a fight. How long had we been apart?

She sighed. Her head hurt. Her entire body hurt. She looked up as Shawn entered the room. I’ll focus on him for now. He’s the only thing familiar in my life at the moment. A memory of an older man’s voice saying ‘He is your life’ intruded on her thoughts. Where did that come from?

She watched as Shawn warily approached her bedside.

He watched her expression carefully. She’s ticked with me. “I’m sorry, little one. If you don’t want me or any police agency to see your picture, that’s your choice. I understand your fear.”

“You need to understand, however, that I still have to try and find out your identity. That’s my job. I’m the detective assigned to your case. I’m going to do everything I can to find the persons responsible for hurting you.” Shawn held out his hand, “Truce?”

He didn’t realize he had been holding his breath, waiting for her response, until she gingerly placed her hand in his. “Are you ready to sign those consent forms so these doctors can get to work on making you better?”

He kept his eyes trained on her. He knew she was deciding whether or not he would keep his word. After a short time, she nodded.

Dr. Thornton brought the papers over to her and explained what the consent forms included. She was relieved to hear them say that they would not release or publicize any information on the results of her surgery until she gave her permission. She signed the consent forms using the name that had been hastily added to the forms, ‘Jane Doe’.

Both doctors and Shawn noticed how her hand trembled. As soon as she dropped the pen, Shawn took her hand. “You need to rest now. You have surgery scheduled in the morning and you’ve had a very stressful morning. I have to go in to work and check on the progress of the investigation. I’ll come back tomorrow after your surgery.”

Shawn felt her tracing letters on his palm, n…o. “No, don’t leave?”

She reached for the pen. Shawn watched as she wrote him a message. ‘Come back later, please.’

She was exhausted. Before Shawn could reply, she was asleep. He bent over and brushed a soft kiss to her forehead. “I’ll be back later tonight. Sleep well.”

Rodeway Inn, May 11 6pm

Shawn slung the kitchen towel over his shoulder as he walked to answer the knock on his door.

“Right on time, Andrew. I’m just about to throw the steaks on the grill.” Shawn shook his cousin’s hand and ushered him inside.

“Hotels with guest barbeques, impressive, Shawn.”

“No, it has a kitchenette and I brought an indoor grill with me. Come and sit by the table, while I finish up the salad. Want a cold one?”

“Sure. I’ll have a beer.”

They talked about their families as Shawn finished making the salad. Shawn heard all about Jeannie’s adventures with their cousin Stephanie Johnson on their six-month back-packing tour of Europe.

After their meal, they cleaned up the kitchen and moved in to Shawn’s bedroom. His laptop was set up on a desk. He had made the one corner of the room a mini office. He had a fax machine hooked up, a filing cabinet stood in the corner and file folders, pens and notepads were strewn across the desk.

“All right, Shawn, you better start from the beginning. Explain to me, how the woman in the hospital could possibly be Belle. Her family just had her declared dead. She’s been missing for more than seven years. Why would she suddenly show up after all this time? And more importantly, why would she show up almost dead a few short miles from your place?” Andrew watched Shawn closely, waiting for his response.

Shawn knew he would have to convince Andrew that his gut feelings had merit. He had bits and pieces of substantiated facts, but most of his theory was supposition at this point.

“I have never wavered in my belief that Belle is still alive. When she first disappeared, Andrew, I was nineteen. Nineteen and without any means of investigating on my own. No one, not even my own father, would listen to me. Everyone just wanted to pat me on the head like a two year and try and make me feel better. All my family kept telling me that I was young; I would fall in love again. Belle was a beautiful girl and it was sad that her life was cut tragically short, but I should remember the happy times and move on with my life.”

Shawn started pacing. “No one understood the depth of the love that Belle and I shared. No one except Great-Gran. She knew that Belle and I share an once-in-a-lifetime love.”

Andrew took note that Shawn still referred to their love in the present, not the past.

“The police believe she committed suicide, Shawn. Is it possible, that you’re holding on to the belief that she’s alive so that you don’t have to deal with the guilt of her taking her life? The police report clearly stated her despondency over her break-up with her boyfriend as an underlying factor in their ruling.”

“You don’t understand, Andrew. I tried to tell the police, John and Marlena, my family, everyone, in fact, that Belle was coming home to straighten things out between us. She wanted to see me.” He told Andrew everything Mimi had told him about Belle’s confrontation with Cassie. He also told him that Mimi later denied that Belle had returned to Salem at all. He mentioned noticing the guilt in her eyes when he questioned her again at Belle’s memorial service.

“Shawn, what happened to her then? If she loved you and was coming back home to work things out with you, where is she? Why would she disappear without a trace and not contact anyone? That doesn’t make any sense. She must be dead.”

“I have a theory, Andrew. Please hear me through without interruption. You’re not going to like what I have to tell you.” Shawn sat down and told Andrew everything. He noticed the look of denial and shock on his cousin’s face when he mentioned that he thought his father was helping John.

But Andrew was also a trained investigator and he listened very carefully to all Shawn had to say.

“The last piece of information came today. When I went back to the office, Uncle Mickey had come through for me. He got me a list of the big money contributors to Senator Atkins’ war chest. Guess who donated the most money to the Senator’s re-election campaign?”

“It was John Black, wasn’t it?” Andrew asked. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that your theory is correct. I’m not discounting it in its entirety, Shawn, but I just can’t see my father agreeing to something like this. If what you say is true, that would mean that John and Dad ripped Belle away from her family and left her all alone out in the world. No family, no friends, no one that she could rely on. Family is everything to my Dad, just like the Horton’s and the Brady’s, Shawn, I…” Andrew stopped as a long forgotten memory surfaced.

July 2003, London, England ISA Headquarters

He was a first year agent and had just received his first field assignment. He was excited and a little bit nervous about it. He wanted to talk to his Dad. He knew his Dad would give him sound advice. He also knew that just talking and listening to him would calm his nervousness. He was told he was in the communications center and was not to be disturbed.

He recalled waiting patiently outside the door for about fifteen minutes. His dad still hadn’t surfaced, so he had decided to go in and tell him the news. His dad’s anger at being interrupted would dissipate as soon as he heard what his son had to tell him. The door opened silently and closed silently as Andrew slipped inside. His dad’s back was to the door and he made no indication that he knew he was no longer alone in the room. Andrew hesitated, debating whether he should make his presence known or slip back out as silently as he had entered.

He froze when he heard his father raise his voice in anger.

“Damn it, John. It’s been almost three months. How much longer are you going to keep her confined inside that cottage? She has to be going out of her mind by now.”

“John, I don’t think you understand the enormity of what we have done to her. She’s eighteen, for Christ’s sake. She’s eighteen and in love and you expect her to understand when you tell her the only life she’s ever known, is over.”

“I know, we both agreed that she’s not safe from the threat, she’ll probably never be safe.”

Andrew recalled the anguish in his father’s voice when he had said, “I’m just not sure we did the right thing any longer, John. Look at how many people are suffering. Marlena is beside herself with grief, trying to understand…”

Andrew had been able to hear a voice raised in anger, but he couldn’t make out what the man had said to his father.

“I know she’ll eventually come to terms with her grief and carry on with the business of living. Marlena’s a strong-willed woman, a trait her daughter has inherited. You would do well to remember that, John.”

“Yes, John. I’m sure you know best. You know you can count on me.” Shane had then noticed Andrew standing with the door ajar.

“Andrew, how long have you been standing there?”

He had told him that he had just entered. His father had quickly ended the call. Hid dad had told him that he had been talking with John Black about his daughter’s disappearance. He wanted to offer his support and the services of the ISA if John thought there was any chance that Belle had been kidnapped. Andrew had a fleeting thought that what his father was telling him didn’t exactly jive with the bits and pieces of the conversation that he had heard. He then told himself that he had walked in a middle of a conversation and heard only one side of it, so his father was probably telling him the truth. Anyways, he was too excited about his own news to really give too much thought to what he had just overheard.

In fact, he had never given it a second thought until just now.

Shawn watched as different expressions played across Andrew’s face. “What is it, Andrew?” he asked softly.

Andrew told Shawn what he had just remembered. “I can’t believe my father would be a party to something so…so…wrong. I’m so sorry, Shawn.”

“Andrew, you have nothing to apologize for. And don’t be so hard on your dad. We haven’t really proven anything just yet, although I’m more convinced than ever that Belle was placed into protective custody. If John and your dad are responsible for Belle’s disappearance, they must have had a very good reason for doing so. I’m sure it’s somehow linked back to the DiMera’s, but I have no idea how. I’ve been racking my brain trying to think back over the year before Belle disappeared, looking for something that might have triggered a threat against Belle. A threat that John and Uncle Shane took so seriously that they took the measures they did.”

“Have you thought of anything, Shawn?”

“Not yet, but I have this feeling I’m missing something. Something I probably dismissed as trivial or insignificant that’s going to turn out to be the key to unravelling this mystery.”

“It’ll come to you sooner or later.”

“Well, Andrew, are you in or out? Are you going to help me prove that the woman I found on the side of the road is Belle?”

“You know I’ll help you find Belle, Shawn. We’re going to have to do our investigating very discreetly and carefully. We can’t let dad or John become aware that someone is searching ISA files for information on Belle.” Andrew reached out to shake his cousin’s hand.

Shawn took Andrew’s hand in his. “We don’t have to find Belle, Andrew. She’s already found me. Now it’s our job to prove to everyone, including her, that she is Isabella Black.”

“How can you be so sure, Shawn? How do you know that the woman is Belle?” Andrew was very worried that his cousin was setting himself up for a huge disappointment. A disappointment that he might never emotionally recover from.

“I’m not one hundred percent positive, I mean, I have no real proof. What I have, Andrew, is a feeling. I feel connected to her in a way I’ve never felt connected to anyone before in my life, except Belle. We communicate without words. More importantly, for the past seven years, I’ve been walking around with a piece of me missing. Belle is the other half of my soul. When she disappeared, she took that piece of me with her. When I’m with her, Andrew, I feel whole again. Belle is back! I feel it in my soul.

Chapter 17

Sacred Heart Medical Center May 12, 2010

As the patient dubbed ‘Jane Doe’ was undergoing surgery, Shawn was meeting with Dr. Gordon.

“I’m concerned about her amnesia, Dr. Gordon. How long before she starts to remember?” Shawn asked.

“There’s no way to give you a time-table for her condition, Detective Brady. After we realized she was suffering memory loss, we ordered a CAT scan. It was done yesterday evening before you came to visit her. We have several specialists looking at the results, trying to determine if there is a physical cause for her condition.”

“If there’s no physical cause, doctor, what then?”

“We’ve already had a security check run on a psychiatrist we think could really help her. Her name is Dr. Ilene Balfour. She specializes in treating patients who suffer memory loss due to traumatic events. If our patient does not have a physical condition causing the amnesia, Dr. Balfour will begin seeing her immediately.”

“I would like to meet with her before she speaks to the patient. Can you arrange that, Dr. Gordon?”

“That shouldn’t be a problem, Detective Brady. I’ll call you when we know whether or not we require the services of Dr. Balfour. Now, if you would excuse me, I have some paper work to attend to.”

“Thanks, Dr. Gordon.”

Shawn watched as the doctor retreated to his office that he had set up in the research area. He noticed Andrew approaching.

“Hey, Shawn. Come with me, please.” Andrew signalled for Shawn to follow him.

Shawn followed Andrew into the computer room.

“You remember Stephen Eng, Shawn, our software specialist?” Andrew asked.

“Yes, I do. It looks like you were able to set up everything to your satisfaction.” Shawn was slightly perplexed as to the reason Andrew was having him meet with Stephen.

“As well as being a leading designer of software, Steve can hack into any computer regardless of what type of security they have imbedded in their servers. He’s agreed to help us out with our little mission to find out the current whereabouts of Belle Black.”

Shawn looked between the stoical Stephen Eng and the excited Andrew Donovan. If Andrew thought highly enough of Stephen to bring him into the fold, Shawn knew that he could be trusted.

“Steve, thanks for your help. Andrew did explain the importance of anonymity, didn’t he? We can’t have the ISA tracing back any breeches of their system security back to us.”

“Not a problem, Shawn. In fact, I think we have a foolproof plan in place. One the ISA won’t question.” Stephen explained further. “When the ISA starts tracing where the inquiries are coming from, they’ll come up with an IP address that belongs to the Law library of NYU. We’ll use different IP addresses from the common computer area of the library when we hack into ISA files.”

“What happens when the ISA sends an agent to investigate and find the person doing this?” Shawn asked.

“That’s the beauty of it, Shawn. My cousin from Hong Kong is studying Criminal Justice and always uses the law library to do his research. My cousin will claim that he is using Belle’s case, along with several others, as part of his thesis that is related to closed cases where no bodies were found. Andrew spent the night going through NYPD files and drafted up an outline that lists several cases that fit the profile. He’s also drafting up a rough copy of a thesis for my cousin to offer as proof,” Stephen explained excitedly.

“What happens when the ISA accuses him of hacking in to their files?”

“Don’t worry. He’ll claim innocence. I’ve arranged for a ‘special’ search capability using specific words that only my cousin and I have. When these words are entered into a search engine, they will access confidential ISA files. He will be able to claim that he wasn’t doing anything illegal. From what Andrew has told me about this case, I doubt that the ISA is going to take legal action. If they have my cousin arrested, all files he would have retrieved will become public knowledge. I don’t think the ISA will risk that, do you?”

“No, they won’t want any information on Belle Black made public. As Belle’s father would say, ‘And that’s a fact!’” Shawn smiled as he shook Stephen’s hand and thanked him for helping them.

Andrew asked Shawn to come into his office as he had other information for him.

“You’ve been really busy, Andrew. What else did you find out?” Shawn was curious to see what Andrew had turned up.

“I pulled a copy of the NYPD’s file on Isabella Black. I read it and I noticed one omission on their part. They mention that Belle’s roommate checked herself into a clinic to battle an eating disorder the same day that you say Belle returned to Salem to confront Cassie DiMera. She was still in the clinic when Belle disappeared and the NYPD never sent anyone out to interview her. Her name was… Let me see, I have it written down somewhere in this pile of papers. Ah, here it is, Cara Dennyson of Rochester, New York. I’ve managed to track her down. She is married to Todd Spencer and living in Dallas, Texas. I have a flight booked for later this afternoon. I’m going to have a talk with Mrs. Spencer to see if she can recall anything Belle was doing in the weeks before she disappeared.”

“Good work, Andrew. How did you access NYPD files…on second thought, I don’t want to know.”

“Tricks of the trade, Shawn. Don’t worry about it. I have to leave and throw some stuff into an overnight bag. I’ll give you a call when I get back. There’s not much I can do here right now because I’m part of a police agency and not allowed to see the woman’s picture. If anyone from the team has any technical questions, they know how to reach me.”

“Okay. I’ll see you when you get back.”

Shawn checked on the progress of the surgery and was told it would be several hours before the patient would be back in her room. He told them to page him if necessary and that he would be back to check in on her later.

Spokane Crime Lab

“Hi, Derek. Thought I’d better stop by and check up on you. Haven’t heard from you lately so I take it that means you’ve made no progress in the investigation.”

Derek looked up from the slides he’d been examining. “Nice to see you too, Shawn. I’m well, thanks for asking,” he snidely remarked.

Shawn saw Derek’s smile that he tried to hide by turning back to his work. “Sorry, Derek. You know me, all work, no play.” He smiled broadly and winked at Derek. “How about we get together after work today for a quick beer and catch up?”

“Sounds good. Why don’t we meet at the bar around the corner from here at five-thirty? As to the investigation, I’m afraid I don’t have any good news for you. We’ve exhausted every avenue we have and we haven’t been able to find any program that will give us a clear enough picture of that symbol. We can’t identify it. Sorry, Shawn.”

“Damn, Derek. That symbol is the only solid clue we have. I’ve done everything I can do to try and break this case and I’m not making any progress. I was counting on being able to trace that symbol back to the person who had those boots custom made.”

“What have you done, Shawn? Maybe I can give you some other suggestions that would help you out.”

“Well, I followed up on abandoned vehicle reports and that was a wash. Of course, I haven’t had a chance to question the victim as yet. I don’t even know if she had a vehicle. She could have been snatched right off the street, from her home, anywhere. None of the missing person’s reports match with the woman that’s in the hospital. I’ve also put the word out to all my informants. I told them to keep their ears open for anyone that knows anything about a woman being beaten to death on Hwy 206.”

“That’s a good idea, Shawn,” Derek interrupted.

“I’m not sure it’s going to get any results. I have a feeling these were hired killers. They probably weren’t local and if they are, I don’t see them talking about their work, so to speak.”

“You never know. People like to boast about a job well done, especially if they were well compensated for it. Anything else?

“I also checked all the rental agencies to see if any vehicles had not been returned, or returned late and for what reason or returned with unexplained damages. Got a few hits on that, but they were all dead ends. I’ve pretty well done what I can at this point. I need a break, Derek, a break or a miracle.”

“We haven’t given up on being able to identify that symbol. You know how quickly technology evolves these days. We keep checking daily to see if there’s anything new out there that we can use. Of course, our best bet is for that woman to come out of her coma and actually tell us what happened,” Derek commented.

“Jesus, I can’t believe I forgot to tell you, Derek. She is out of her coma, unfortunately she doesn’t remember who she is. I don’t know if she has any memories of that night or not. She’s so weak and I hate to try and make her write her answers down.”

“Yes, right, her jaw is wired shut, isn’t it?”

“I’ll be seeing her later this evening. I can’t put off questioning her much longer, although it won’t be today. She had surgery this morning, I doubt that she’s going to be up for answering a lot of questions. I’m off to the office and I’ll see you at five-thirty.”

Sacred Heart Medical Center

Shawn entered her room quietly. Dr. Gordon and one of the nurses were examining her.

“How’s she doing, Dr. Gordon?” Shawn asked quietly.

Dr. Gordon finished his exam then motioned Shawn to the far side of the room. “She had a very rough surgery. I’m afraid she’s in a lot of pain. We’ve given her a mild pain killer but I doubt that it’s going to be very effective.”

“Can’t you give her anything stronger?”

“We don’t want to take the risk in case she slips back into a coma. You seem to have a calming effect on her, young man. Can you stay? Your presence seems to really help her.”

“Of course, doctor. I’ll stay with her as long as she needs me.

When they were alone, Shawn took her hand in his and raised it to his lips. “I’m here, little one.”

He felt her tighten her grip on his hand. She pulled his hand towards her.

“Do you want me to hold you?” Shawn asked. She squeezed his hand again. He removed his shoes and took off his tie and undid the first few buttons on his shirt. He lifted himself on to the hospital bed and gently cradled her against him. He let his fingers caress her hair. He murmured softly, “Sleep, Belle, I wont’ let you go. I’ll never let you go again.”

Chapter 18

May 15, 2010 Sacred Heart Medical Center

“I got here as soon as I could, Andrew. How did your trip to Dallas pan out?”

“I got better results than I expected. Come into my office. We have a lot to talk about.”

Shawn followed Andrew into his office and closed the door. He could barely contain his excitement. Finally! He was finally making progress in solving the mystery of Belle’s disappearance.

“What did you find out, Andrew? What did… I can’t remember the name of the roommate…what…?”

“Relax, Shawn. Sit down, get comfortable. I’ll answer any questions you have. Just let me tell you what I learned from Ms. Cara Spencer.” Andrew waved to the chair across from his desk.

“Sorry, Andrew. I’m just a little bit excited,” Shawn replied as he sank into the chair.

“A little. I think that’s an understatement. Well, let me tell you the first thing I learned, Ms. Spencer hates to be addressed as ‘Mrs.’” Andrew tried to ease the tension he could feel building in Shawn.

“Andrew, please!” Shawn leaned forward in his chair. “I need to know what you found out about Belle, now

“I found out a few interesting things, Shawn. Let me run through them for you.” He pulled out a notebook and scanned it quickly before beginning.

“Ms. Spencer verified that Belle had definitely made plans to return to Salem on April 8, 2003. In fact, she was the person that drove Belle to the airport before she drove herself to the clinic.”

“Did she go into the airport with Belle, Andrew? Did she actually see her boarding the plane?”

“No, she just dropped her off at the airport.”

Shawn’s shoulders drooped and he felt the excitement and hope draining out of him. “Then we’re really no further ahead than we were before you left on the trip. Just because she dropped Belle off at the airport, that doesn’t mean Belle actually got on the plane and made the flight.”

“You’re right and wrong, Shawn. Ms. Spencer can’t claim to having seen Belle board the plane, but she was able to give me Belle’s itinerary, complete with her boarding passes for the flights to and from Salem. In my book, that’s pretty conclusive evidence, what do you think?” Andrew pulled out the items from inside his folder.

“I can’t believe she had some of Belle’s papers and that she kept them all these years.” Shawn looked at the stamped boarding passes, plus baggage stickers that were still affixed to the boarding pass.”

“She explained it to me, Shawn. Apparently her guidance counsellor was very sympathetic to her condition. She got Ms. Spencer’s professors to agree to her taking her final exams at the clinic. Apparently she shared a couple of classes with Belle and Belle agreed to lend her notes from the final few days of classes. Inside the notebook Belle had lent her, were the papers you have in your hand.”

“Did she tell you anything else, Andrew? Did you talk to her about Belle’s mental outlook at the time? I can’t believe that the police didn’t talk to her. How could they think that she would have nothing concrete to tell them about Belle’s state of mind?”

“We talked about a lot of things. Ms. Spencer had a lot to say and she’s been waiting a long time to say it.”

“What do you mean, Andrew?”

“She says the ruling that Belle committed suicide is the biggest load of bull this side of the Rio Grande. She says she’s never met a person less likely to take his or her own life then Belle. She’s speaking from experience here also. She’s now a guidance counsellor at a high school and has had dealings with many troubled teens.”

“What led her to that conclusion?”

“She talked for a long time about rooming with Belle. She said Belle had such a zest for life that she just drew you right in. People flocked to her. She was outgoing, friendly and treated everyone with dignity and compassion, no matter what their circumstance in life was. She marvelled at how Belle would defend those that wouldn’t defend themselves and face down ridicule for doing so. She said that people would only make that mistake once for as gentle as Belle was, she could be just as fierce when it was required.”

“That sounds like my Belle,” Shawn said softly.

Andrew looked closely at Shawn, debating whether or not to tell him about Belle’s greatest passion. He sighed inwardly. He would tell him because deep inside Shawn already knew.

“Er, Shawn, ah…” Andrew stumbled over his words, wondering how to lead into the next part of the conversation.

“What?” Shawn noticed his cousin’s hesitancy. “You have more to say, don’t you? Just tell me. I can handle it.”

“It seems Belle confided a lot in her new roommate. Ms. Spencer says they became friends immediately and confidantes within a few short weeks. She says it was due to Belle’s strength and encouragement that she was finally able to face her problems and enter a program to battle her eating disorder. This is another reason she doesn’t buy the suicide theory. She claims Belle faced all her problems head on and dealt with them.”

“That isn’t news to me, Andrew. What are you so reluctant to tell me?”

“Well, this won’t be news to you either, Shawn. I just don’t want to upset you.” Andrew looked Shawn in the eyes. “Belle was very angry with you, Shawn. She ranted for hours on end apparently about your inability to trust her enough to confide in her. She doubted your ability to love her the same why she loved you.”

Shawn dropped his eyes so that Andrew couldn’t see the guilt that filled them. “I was so stupid, Andrew. A stupid teenage boy who knew what he had but couldn’t seem to stop himself from acting like he was being noble. Noble, hell, I was a fool. I needed her so badly and I pushed her away all in the name of protecting her.” Shawn leapt to his feet so quickly that the chair went crashing to the floor. “How could I have been so stupid, Andrew?”

Andrew looked into his cousin’s tear-filled eyes and immediately regretted telling him as much as he had. He didn’t think Shawn would be able to handle what he had planned to tell him next. The guilt would be unbearable.

Shawn immediately sensed that Andrew had more to say. He braced himself for more hurt, but he had to know. “Go ahead, Andrew, I know there’s more.”

“Shawn, I’m not sure…”

“I’m sure. Tell me what else Ms. Spencer had to say.”

“She said the rants were easier to take than the nights of sobbing. Apparently, Belle spent many a night crying over her failure to be what you needed. She blamed herself that you couldn’t love her the same way she loved you. She knew that you loved her, but she also knew that you couldn’t accept that love meant being there in both the good times and the bad times. She felt she failed somehow in making you understand that she didn’t need life to be ‘perfect’, she just needed you in her life.”

Andrew sat quietly while Shawn absorbed all that he had just told him.

Shawn paled when he realized how deeply he had hurt his ‘perfect girl.’ “Anything else, Andrew?”

“Yes, there’s more. Don’t think it was all rants and crying spells. Miss Belle was very determined to make you see things her way. The last few weeks before her disappearance, according to Ms. Spencer, all Belle talked about was working things out with you.”

“And all I wanted to do was make everything right between us. Did you know that I bought her an engagement ring, Andrew? I was waiting for her to come home for the summer. I was so sure I could make her mine. That I would have all summer to romance her and show her just how much I loved her. If I knew then what I know now, I would have never waited. I would have forced her to see me instead of letting campus security scare me off.”

“You were going to propose? At nineteen?”

“Hell, Andrew. On some level I think I’ve always known that Belle and I are meant to be. There will never be anyone else for me. Belle is my one and only love.”

“I envy you that, Shawn. I’ve never been in love. Well not the way you talk about it. What I don’t envy, is the incredible amount of pain your love has caused you.”

“You can’t reach the heights without experiencing the lows, Andrew. It comes with the territory.”

“I suppose, I just don’t think I’m going to go out looking for love anytime soon.”

Shawn laughed. “As if you have any control over it, Andrew. Love will find you and I hope I’m around to watch the fireworks.”

“Back to business, Shawn. Enough about my pathetic love life. Ms. Spencer did share some information that fits in with our theory about John. She told me that she spoke with Mr. Black on more than one occasion. She told him everything she told me, except she never mentioned having Belle’s boarding passes. At the time she forgot she still had Belle’s notebook. She told him that she would contact the police. She said that Mr. Black offered to give her information to the police. He said there was no need for her to go through the hassle of dealing with the police considering what she was going through at the time. He assured her that he had given her information to the police and that they had weighed it carefully along with their other findings, however, they believed that Belle had committed suicide.”

“There’s no way John told the police anything. It would have been in their report, don’t you think?”

“I agree. According to Ms. Spencer, she didn’t want to accept the police’s ruling. She told John that perhaps it would be better if she spoke to the police in person. She felt sure that she could convince them that Belle was not the type of person that would take her own life. John asked her for his family’s sake to let it drop. They were all grieving and they just couldn’t take anymore. They had accepted that Belle was gone and were trying to cope with it as best they could.”

“He played the guilt card perfectly, didn’t he, Andrew?”

“Yes, and it worked. Ms. Spencer said she ended up apologizing to John for causing him and his family pain.”

“Unbelievable. I wonder what he told Belle to make her agree to leave behind the only life she had known.”

“Shawn, there’s more. Ms. Spencer doesn’t know how Belle’s journal ended up in her chest at the foot of her bed. She didn’t realize it was there for months after Belle’s ‘death.’ She apparently stayed on campus all summer to make up classes so she could graduate on schedule. She says this journal contains Belle’s most private, innermost thoughts. She’s never opened it. She didn’t want to cause the Black family any more grief, so she’s kept it all these years.” Andrew stopped and looked carefully at Shawn. “She wanted me to give it to you, Shawn.”

“You told her about me?”

“No, I didn’t. I gave her the rookie investigative reporter cover story we agreed on. She surmised that I would know who Belle’s boyfriend was at the time and that I would be able to track you down.”

“Did you read it, Andrew?”

“No, of course not, Shawn. Are you sure you want to read it?”

“Where is it, Andrew?”

Andrew reached into his briefcase, pulled it out and handed it to Shawn.

Shawn caressed the cover slowly. “I’ll read it back in my room later tonight. Thanks. Oh, by the way, have you talked to Steve since you returned? Has he anything to report yet?”

“I’ve spoken with him. There’s nothing to report because he hasn’t tried to get into the ISA files just yet. He’s a perfectionist, Shawn. I also gave him the optimal times he should try breaching their security. Don’t forget the time difference between London and Spokane. We want to coordinate it with times that Steve’s cousin will actually be in the library. Just another part of the plan. As soon as he has anything, he’ll let us know.”

“Sounds good, Andrew. Anything else before I leave?”

“I was wondering, considering the evidence you now have, are you going to make a quick trip to Salem and confront Mimi?”

“No. Mimi is notorious for not being able to keep anything to herself. She’ll tell Brady and Brady will tell John. That’s the last thing we need.”

“You’re right, Shawn. Getting back to Belle’s journal, are you sure you don’t want to read it now. I can give you privacy. You might need someone to talk to when you’re done.”

“No, I’ll be fine. If I need to talk to anyone, I’ll come back here.”

“Okay. I’ll hang around late tonight. I’m sure I can find something to occupy my time.”

“I’m sorry, Andrew. You misunderstood. If I come back here because I need to talk to someone, I’ll be coming back to her. I’ll need to talk to Belle.”

Chapter 19

May 16, 2010 3am Rodeway Inn

Shawn slowly closed Belle’s journal and pushed it to the far end of the small table in the kitchenette of his room. He laid his head down on his folded arms and sobbed. He wept over all the pain he had caused in Belle’s young life.

God, how could I have been so stupid! So totally clueless! He had thought he had known what love was. Belle knew. She had such faith that he would eventually love her the same way, with the same total commitment, the same level of trust and honesty.

Why did you blame yourself for my shortcomings? I was the one that didn’t understand that trust and love went hand in hand. I was the one that was so afraid to let you see that I was less than perfect. Me, ‘tough guy,’ I don’t think so. I was so sure I was protecting you when all I was doing was protecting the image I thought you had of me.

You always could see right through me. You knew me better than I knew myself. I’m so glad that you were strong enough to take your mother’s advice. She was right when she told you that you couldn’t help someone that didn’t want to be helped. You knew I needed help but you also were smart enough to know that I wouldn’t let you help me. And, God, Belle, you were so strong to be able to walk away and give me the space I asked for.

Deep inside, I knew, Belle, that I needed you. That I needed to talk to you, tell you everything, but I just couldn’t bring myself to admit it to myself. I had to live up to this stupid image of what a real man would do. A real man is strong, protective and takes care of his woman. A real man shows his love for his woman by pushing her away to
protect her from himself.

I know now, Belle, how deeply I hurt you. I know now how wrong I was. I understand how to love you now, Belle.

Shawn lifted his head and used his sleeve to wipe away his tears. He knew exactly what he had to do next. He glanced at the time and headed to the shower.

Sacred Heart Medical Center 3:30am

Nurse Ross fussed around Jane Doe, talking softly to her. “Having a bad night tonight, are we?”

No, we aren’t having a bad night. I’m having a bad night. I just want you to leave me alone.

“I can’t give you any more pain medication for at least two hours. You really need to try and get some sleep. You have your first facial reconstructive surgery tomorrow. It’s going to be rough, but you’ll be on your way to a full recovery. I heard these plastic surgeons are some of the best in North America. I’ve even heard Dr. Thornton say that they’re confident they can restore your appearance to what it was before the…accident.”

It wasn’t an accident, you moron. Someone beat me. Sorry, I shouldn’t call you a moron, I don’t know you. You’re probably a very intelligent person. Please, I just want to be alone.

“I’ll come back and check on you in a little while. I hope you’re sleeping then.”

Thank god, she’s gone. I’m finally alone, the way I wanted. Damn, I don’t want to be alone. Shawn, where are you? Why didn’t you come and see me today? I heard that one nurse mention that you were in with your cousin. God, I think she has a crush on you. The way her voice changes when she talks about you. Huh! I bet you’re used to that. You probably have a different woman for every day of the week and that’s why you couldn’t make time for me today.

Wait. It’s none of my business. After all, he’s just the detective assigned to my case. He could be married for all I know.
She didn’t want to analyze why the thought of his being married caused her heart to ache. It’s not like he means anything to me. Oh, I wish I could remember. I know I’m in love, at least from the little I can remember of that night. I was on my way to see the man I love. Why can’t I remember who he is or what he looks like? Maybe if I concentrate really, really hard, I’ll remember what he looks like.

She closed her eyes and forced herself to concentrate on…love. Maybe if I try and remember the feeling of love, that will help me remember who I love. She took a deep breath and cleared her mind. A feeling of security enveloped her. She felt like she was encased in a warm cocoon. She could feel his arms holding her so tenderly, like she was made of the finest, cut glass. She could feel his warm breath when he leaned close to drop a kiss on her forehead. She could feel his hand entwined with hers, the feel of his fingers sliding through her hair. She could hear the beating of his heart as she laid her head on his chest.

Slowly, ever so slowly, an image was forming in her mind. Her excitement grew. And then she seen him.

No, I’m seeing Shawn. Why can’t I remember the man I love? Why is Shawn the one I think of when I think of love? Damn, where is he?

She could feel tears beginning to form. I can’t cry. It’s not good for my damaged eye. I’m stronger than this. So, he didn’t come and see me. Big deal! I obviously survived all these years before without him. I can survive without you now, Shawn Brady!

She pushed aside the memory of words being spoken to her, 'He is your survival'.

No, I can live without him in my life. I just depend on him now because he’s the only thing familiar I have to hold on to. Yeah, right, too bad even I don’t believe that.

Shawn crept into her room. He didn’t want to wake her. It was four-thirty in the morning. The best thing for her right now was rest. He didn’t want to be responsible for holding up her recovery. But he had to see her.

He stood over her as she slept and the sense of sorrow that had engulfed him as he read the journal returned. He had so much to make up for. Would Belle give him the chance to show her that he finally understood what he didn’t understand all those years ago?

He was surprised to notice that she was watching him. “I’m sorry, little one, I didn’t mean to wake you.”

She sensed his pain and reached out for him. When he took her hand in his as he pulled a chair close to her bed, she could see that his deep brown eyes were filled with sorrow. She wanted to hold him, comfort him, take away his pain like he had done for her. She pulled on his hand, let it go, then patted the bed next to her.

Shawn cradled her as close to him as he could without disturbing all the tubes and I.V.’s running in and out of her body. She was being lulled to sleep by the steady beat of his heart. She knew he was saying something to her, but she didn’t make out the words. The sound of his voice was all the comfort she needed. He was here. He had come to be with her, that’s all that mattered. The actual words were not really important.

“Belle, I have so much to say to you. I don’t know where to start. I’m so sorry for everything. What I did to you all those years ago is unforgivable, but you forgave me. You have such a beautiful soul, Belle. You are such a good person.”

He continued, “If I would have opened up to you, maybe things would have been different. I don’t know what was so threatening in your life that your father took you away from us all.”

He held her a little tighter, hoping that she would feel his love. “Just know, that now that I have you back in my life, I will spend the rest of my days proving to you that you didn’t make a mistake by loving me. I’m going to love you the way you deserved to be loved. I’m going to love you forever, Belle. I will never let anything or anyone, including myself, come between us again. I promise.”

He looked down to see if she wanted to respond to him. He couldn’t help but smile when he noticed that she was sound asleep. She probably hadn’t heard a word he had said. That didn’t really matter, he intended telling her how much he loved her every day for the rest of their lives.

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

October 21st, 2004, 6:29 pm #9

This is a Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC-17.

I disclaim - Some of the characters in this story belong to the owners of Days Of Our Lives - the rest are just part of my imagination. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is entirely concidental. I would also like to credit all the authors of the trashy, thoroughly enjoyable romance novels that I've read. They were my inspiration for the 'love scenes'.

Chapters 20 - 24

Chapter 20

Sacred Heart Medical Center, May 17, 2010 7 pm.

Shawn grew more and more concerned as the hours ticked by. Belle had been in surgery eleven hours. Damn, I have to stop thinking of her as Belle. Although he was fairly certain the woman was Belle, he had no way of proving it. He had only told Andrew that he felt Belle had come back to him. Derek probably suspected he felt that way, but he hadn’t told him that he felt she was Belle, not directly, anyway.

He was pacing and glancing at the clock that hadn’t moved more than five minutes in what felt like the past hour when he heard Andrew calling out to him.

“Shawn, come with me. Steve got into the ISA files and we now have the proof we were looking for.”

“Wha…what did you say, Andrew?” Shawn felt dazed. That his theory was in actuality fact was hard to comprehend. To hear someone else say that his belief that Belle was still alive was true was elating, exciting, amazing and so stunning, that he felt momentarily winded.

“Come with me, Shawn. We’ll talk in the computer room. Move it, Shawn. Steve is waiting.” Andrew was just as excited as Shawn appeared to be.

Shawn turned to the operating room doors and hesitated.

Andrew moved alongside him and laid his hand on his shoulder. “Try not to worry about her, Shawn. She’s in very good hands. Let’s go and try and prove that the woman in that room is Belle. Let’s find out what Steve dug up for us.”

“Yeah, Andrew. She’ll have to spend some time in recovery before they move her back into her room. I won’t be able to see her until then.”

Steve looked up when they entered the computer room, a big smile on his face. “Well, Detective Brady, it seems your theory was dead on. The ISA had a team of operatives spirit Belle off campus the night she disappeared.”

“What do you have for us, Steve?” Shawn could barely contain his excitement. Soon he would know where Belle was living and under what name. All he would have to do is go there and trace her movements to Spokane. He was confident that ‘Belle’ wouldn’t be there.

“Here’s a list of the operatives that were used.” He passed copies of the list to both Shawn and Andrew.

Shawn glanced over it but the names meant nothing to him. “Andrew, do you know any of these agents?”

Andrew studied the list closely, his brows furrowed. A frown settled on his face and Shawn grew uneasy.

“What’s the matter, Andrew? You seem disturbed by something.” Shawn asked.

It was several moments before Andrew looked up and replied, “I’m going to have to run some checks of my own. Something is nagging at me, but I just can’t put my finger on what it is.”

“Do you recognize some of the names?”

“Yes, I do. I just don’t know which name on this list is causing this feeling that I’m missing something here. Like I said, I’ll go through their personnel files and maybe that will trigger my memory.”

“You won’t get caught, will you, Andrew? We can’t tip off your dad or John that we’ve discovered the truth about Belle.”

“Don’t worry, Shawn. I’ll get Steve to pull the files for me. I’m sure he’ll come up with another sure-proof way to get in that can’t be traced back to us. Right, Steve?”

“Sure thing, Andrew. It’ll take me a few days, but I’ll run those files for you.”

“Did you find anything else, Steve? In particular, did you find out where Belle was re-located to and what identity she was given?” Shawn interrupted.

Shawn’s heart was pounding in anticipation of learning where Belle had been living all these years.

Steve glanced up at Shawn. He could see how eager the young man was and hated that he was going to have to be the one to crush his enthusiasm. At least for the time being, until he could confirm what he suspected.

“Umm, I have good news and bad news on that front, Shawn.”

Shawn’s spirits plummeted and the light died from his eyes. He resigned himself to hear that, once again, he had hit a dead end. “Give it to me straight, Steve.”

“She was moved to an ISA safe house in Lucerne, Switzerland the night of her abduction. She lived there as Francine Dubois, a native of Nice, France until August of 2006.”

“And where did she go from there?”

“That’s where the files I could access end off. I did some investigating. I checked newspaper archives and there was no mention of her at all. I have no idea what reason was given to her neighbours and friends, sorry.”

Andrew said, “I’ll fly there, Shawn. I’ll make some discreet inquiries in her old neighbourhood, see what I can find out about Francine Dubois.”

“I don’t want to sound paranoid, Andrew, but do you think that John or your dad would have alerted the neighbours to notify them if anyone started to ask questions about her?”

“You’re not paranoid at all, Shawn. I’ll be cautious. I know how to gain confidences without people being aware that they’re giving me exactly the information I’m looking for.” Andrew smiled at Shawn. “I’ll probably be gone for a week or two, can’t rush this type of investigation.”

Shawn laughed. “I hear the skiing is pretty good over there, Andrew. Wouldn’t be taking a busman’s holiday now, would you?”

Andrew shook his head, the sound of his answering laughter filling the room, “Ahh, cousin, you know me all too well, don’t you?”

Shawn stopped laughing and turned back to Steve, “Do you have any idea why the files on her end in August of 2006?”

“There are references to other files but I haven’t been able to access those. I don’t know if I will be able to. It’s my opinion that those files are lost. The ISA might not even be aware of that little fact themselves.”

“What?” Andrew said. “The ISA is pretty meticulous about their computer system. There’s no way files that are stored would just disappear and nobody would be aware of it. Impossible.”

“That might be true of ordinary case files, Andrew,” Steve replied. “This is not an ordinary case. I doubt the ISA, outside of your father, Mr. Black and the operatives that were used to move Ms. Black, are even aware of what happened.”

“True, so true. If anyone could use ISA resources and keep it off the radar that would be my dad and John. They are the two best agents in ISA history, or so I keep hearing from all the guys who rib me about having big foot steps to follow in.”

Shawn looked up from the files he had been reading on Belle’s move to Lucerne, “So, John is an ISA agent. I’ve always felt that he was. Getting back to the files that are missing, what makes you think they aren’t just moved to a secure server, one you haven’t been able to access?”

“I know where the files were stored. You were right, they were moved to a more secure server. Probably by Mr. Donovan or Mr. Black. Unfortunately, they never notified the ISA technical support of the server location.”

“What do you mean, unfortunately, Steve?” Shawn had the sinking feeling he already knew the answer to his own question.

“Because the tech support people didn’t know about the server, critical patches and virus protection were not installed or updated. Consequently, a vicious computer virus that attacked the World Wide Web infected the hard drive and I was not able to retrieve any data.”

“Damn.” Andrew pounded his hand on Steve’s desk. “How could they both have missed something so critical? I’m sorry, Shawn. I have to agree with Steve, that information is lost forever. If Steve can’t access it, I doubt that there’s anyone out there who can.”

Steve said, “I’ve got a couple of things I’m going to try yet, but it certainly seems like the data is lost.”

Shawn, rubbed the back of his neck, trying to ease the increasing tension in his neck and shoulders. “I know what I have to do, Andrew. Can I still count on you to help me?”

“Without a doubt, Shawn. I’m here for you. I’ll help you see this through to the end.”

Sacred Heart Medical Center May 20, 2010

Shawn stood outside her door waiting to go in. He could see several members of the medical staff standing around her bed and he didn’t want to interrupt. He had just dropped Andrew off at the airport. He was booked on a flight to Lucerne that should be departing within the next hour.

Dr. Gordon glanced up and motioned for Shawn to come inside. Shawn really needed to speak to the doctor privately, so he indicated that he’d like the doctor to come out.

“What did you want to talk to me about, Detective Brady” he asked as he shook the young man’s hand.

“I need to know if I can question her about that night. I have to try and find out if she remembers anything. We really need something that will help us break this case. It’s literally at a standstill right now.”

“I spoke with Dr. Balfour as you requested and asked her opinion. She gave the go ahead for you to question her. Also, she wants to speak with you. I told her you could see her at five this afternoon. Is that time good for you?”

“Sure. That will be fine. She has a temporary office set up down here, doesn’t she?”

“Yes. Whoever’s at the desk can show you to her office.”

“So, Dr. Balfour’s been seeing her. Any progress?”

“You know I can’t discuss that with you. Besides, Dr. Balfour doesn’t discuss her sessions with us either. You know, patient-doctor confidentiality. That applies to everyone, not just non-medical personnel.

“What’s going on inside the room?”

“Come inside, Ms. Doe is meeting with the physical therapist we’ve assigned to her case.”

Shawn entered the room and immediately picked up on her anger. He went to her side. “What’s going on here? Why is she so upset?” He looked around the room, waiting for an answer.

“We don’t know, Detective Brady. We introduced Jane Doe to her physical therapist, Terrance Carruthers, and she’s been agitated ever since. Maybe she doesn’t want to undergo the physical therapy, however, it is critical to her recovery.”

Dr. Gordon stepped up and took her hand, “Jane, if you are upset with the thought of physical therapy, squeeze my hand.”

Shawn had to stop himself from laughing out loud when she snatched her hand out of the doctor’s hold and pinned the poor man with a gaze that would cause any man to fear for his life.

“Let me try, doctor.” Shawn choked back his laughter.

She turned that piercing, blue gaze on him. She saw the laughter in his eyes and her mood lightened.

“I’ll give you a pen and notepad and you tell me what’s got you so worked up, okay?”

He smiled at her and she felt her heartbeat begin to quicken.

Shawn waited patiently for her to finish writing out what she had to say. From the pressure she was putting on the notepad he was trying to hold steady, he could tell that she was not happy about something. She handed the pad when she was done.

Shawn glanced down and read what she had written. He couldn’t help himself. How like Belle. She always knew what she didn’t like.

“What did she say, detective?” Dr. Gordon asked

“Let me read if for all of you. She says, ‘I hate JANE. I hate, it. Stop.’”

He turned to her and picked up her hand in his. “Okay, little one, do you have any preference? What would like to be called? I don’t think you want to be referred to as ‘Miss’ or ‘Ma’am’ either, do you?”

It didn’t surprise him, when she shook her head, no.

“Well, what would you like us all to call you?” Shawn asked gently, holding his breath. Hoping against hope that her name would just come naturally to her lips.

She shrugged her shoulders and pulled her hand from his. She pointed to him.

“You want me to pick a name for you?”

She took his hand in hers and squeezed.

“Well, I always call you ‘little one’. Does that bother you?” He saw her answer in the clear blue reflection of her undamaged eye.

“That’s a mouthful for everyone else to use, though. So we’ll have to come up with something a little easier and a name that’s agreeable to you. I’ll have to think about this for a while.”

The doctors and nurses standing around felt slightly uncomfortable watching as the young man stroked the patient’s hand with his thumb. The woman in the hospital bed was totally oblivious to their presence. Her gaze was locked on his and they all felt like they were intruders on what was a very private moment between a man and a woman in love.

Belle. I want to call you, Belle. That’s who you are. In my heart, you are Belle. He knew he couldn’t suggest that name, so he said the only name that came to mind. “What about Lil? We’ll use the short form of the word ‘little’ and just call you Lil.”

She squeezed his hand in agreement.

Shawn turned to everyone, “Now that’s settled, what else do you have to tell her?”

An uncomfortable silence fell over the room. Finally, Dr. Gordon spoke up. “As you know, Detective Brady, the facial reconstruction was completed in the one surgery, instead of the two the surgeons thought might be required. Ms., I mean, Lil has to have surgery once more but it’s just cosmetic surgery to remove the scars. We’ll start extensive physical therapy tomorrow. If this was a normal situation, we could actually release Lil within a week, but because this isn’t normal…”

“What do you mean by ‘normal situation’, Dr. Gordon,” Shawn asked.

“Do you want to step outside, Detective Brady? I’ll explain in private.”

Shawn felt her increase the pressure on his hand. He understood. “No, doctor, go ahead. Explain it here. Lil wants to know what you mean as well.”

“We just meant that if she had a home to go to, we could release her. Seeing as she has no place to go, we’ll have to keep her here or try and get her into government subsidized housing. That would require releasing information about her to various government agencies.”

Shawn felt her rising panic. He squeezed her hand and turned to the doctor, “That won’t be necessary. She’ll come live with me.” He turned back to her and said softly, “I am her home.”

Chapter 21

Sacred Heart Medical Center May 20, 2010

No one challenged Shawn on his statement that ‘Lil’ would have a home with him. Dr. Gordon agreed to release her on the twenty-seventh.

Shawn spoke to Terrance, briefly while Dr. Gordon was speaking with Lil.

“I’ll need to get you to make a list of the exercise equipment that I’ll need to help her with her rehab. I have a lot of equipment in my exercise room, but I want to make sure I have everything she needs,” he directed.

Terrance responded, “Are you going to take on her physical rehabilitation yourself, Detective Brady.”

“Call me Shawn, Terrance. I’ll bring her in as required, but I can help her with basic exercises. I just need you to tell me what to do.”

“That sounds all right, Shawn. Can you come to the PT room now, and I’ll run through the program with you?”

Shawn lowered his voice, “Actually, I have to question the victim. I’ve put it off as long as I can. I can meet with you when I’m through. How much longer will you be around?”

“I’ll stick around until you are available. The Physical Therapy room is at the end of the corridor that runs by the computer room. It’s the last door on your left.”

“Thanks, Terrance. I have to see Dr. Balfour at five. I’ll make sure that I see you first.” Shawn shook his hand and waited as the rest of the medical team filed out of the room.

“Are you okay?” Shawn asked softly, as he took her hand in his. “Are you excited about getting out of this hospital room next week?”

He watched her closely for her reaction to his question. She looked to be apprehensive and confused.

He wanted to reassure her that she would be safe with him. Welcome in his home. Well cared for. Didn’t she know that there wasn’t anything that he would do for her?

I know you’ll look after me, Shawn. I just don’t understand why you feel this need to do so. I don’t understand why I feel that when I leave here with you, I’ll be going home. Home? Where is that? Why oh why can’t I remember who I am and where I came from?

“I know you must have a lot of questions for me. Questions about why I’m doing this, whether you’ll be safe, what I expect in return? I don’t want you to worry about it. I don’t expect anything from you except co-operation. I want you to work towards a full recovery, both physically and emotionally. I’m doing this because I feel it is the right thing to do. I found you and helped keep you alive. In some cultures, that make’s me responsible for you, did you know that?” he smiled directly at her.

That smile. It’s doing funny things to me. He’s too good looking. I can’t seem to wrap my thoughts around anything except the way he makes me feel. This can’t be good.

Focus, I need to focus on his words, not his smile.

She continued watching him, waiting for him. She sensed he had more on his mind then talking to her about living arrangements.

“I need to ask you some questions about the night you were hurt.”

She tensed and grasped his hand tighter.

“I’m sorry, Lil. But I really need to do this. It is my job. I can’t find the persons responsible without your help.” Shawn tried to speak to her in a tone that would soothe the fear and tension he felt building inside her.

“I’ll give you the pen and notepad. For those questions that you can’t nod yes or no to, just write an answer in as few words as possible. I know this is difficult and I don’t want to tire you out. Write a few words and I’ll see if I can fill in the blanks.” Shawn sat next to her and placed the notepad in her hand.

“We can stop at any time. Just let me know if it’s too much for you, okay?”

She looked deeply into his eyes. She knew she could trust him but this was going to be hard. She hated going back to that night. She hated the way it made her feel.

She took a deep breath and indicated that she was ready.

“Do you remember anything about that night?” He felt stupid asking the question, after all, she did have amnesia.

She nodded yes.

This is good.

“In as few words as possible, can you write down what you remember?”

Shawn waited patiently, trying to hold the notepad in place for her, as she struggled to write down the events of the night she was beaten. He noticed that she would pause every now and then and just look at him as she fought to control her panic by inhaling and exhaling deeply.

That’s right, little one. I’m here. Nothing or no one can hurt you.

After about fifteen minutes she dropped the pen from her hand.

Shawn read the words scrawled across the pad. Driving. Truck hit me. Lost control. In ditch. Checking car. Grabbed. Blindfold. Ropes – hands, feet. Gag. Dragged. Taken somewhere. Clothes cut off. Kick. Fists. Hurt.

Shawn was filled with an almost uncontrollable rage as he read those words. He couldn’t begin to imagine the terror she must have felt. Barbarians. Who could do this to a defenceless woman?

She sensed his rage and began to tremble.

Shawn glanced up and noticed her fear. Damn, she’s scared of me. I’ve got to do a better job of controlling my emotions around her. She reads me to well.

“I’m sorry, Lil. I’m just angry that one human being could do something so heinous to another. Don’t be afraid of me. I won’t hurt you.”

Shawn gave her a few minutes to compose herself before he began questioning her again. “Can you tell me the make and approximate year of the truck?”

She shook her head, no.

“What colour was the truck?” Shawn needed something to go on. The colour would be a start.

She picked up the pen. Didn’t see.

“You never saw the truck, not even in your car mirrors?”

Again, no.

It was Shawn’s turn to be confused. “You never saw the truck or you don’t remember seeing the truck.”

She wrote her response. Not paying attention. Thinking about him.

Shawn felt his throat tightening when he read what she had written. “Him? Who are you referring to?”

She wrote her answer.

Shawn wasn’t really sure he wanted an answer to his question.

Man I love.

Shawn felt like a knife had been plunged straight into his heart. He wouldn’t look at her. He just couldn’t let her see the sting of tears he felt filling his eyes. “Do…do you remember his name?”

Shawn’s voice came out harsher then he had intended. He blinked rapidly to try and remove the trace of tears and quickly turned to her. He wanted to make sure he hadn’t upset her. She was deep in thought and showed no signs of having heard his last question.

She’s probably thinking about him. He grabbed her hand to regain her attention.

“Do you remember his name?” He repeated his question.

She shook her head no.

This isn’t helping my investigation. I’ve learned nothing useful in tracking down the assailants. “Do you remember anything else about him that might help identify him?” Why am I torturing myself, I don’t want her to remember anyone but me.

After several more minutes had passed, she passed the notepad to him. Confused. Feeling excited and scared. Don’t think I had seen him for awhile. Fight? Not sure. Apart, maybe for a long time.

Shawn’s spirits lifted. You were coming to see me, Belle. It has to be you. It just has to be. Shawn looked at her notes again to see if there was anything else he should be asking her.

“You were driving a car, right?”

She indicated that he was right.

“You got out of the car to check for damage. Do you remember anything about the car?”

Shawn waited for her to write her response.

Driver’s side dented. Car white. Red paint scrapes on car.

“Well at least we know what colour your car was and it seems likely that the truck was red. That’s at least something for me to go on, Lil. I take it you don’t remember the make, model and year of that white car, do you?

Her first inclination was to say no, but something was just at the edge of her consciousness. She focused on the mental picture that was forming in her mind. Wait, I remember something.

She grabbed the pen and notepad and scribbled the word Rental. She had remembered the tag from the rental agency on a key chain.

“Do you remember the name of the rental agency?” Shawn asked eagerly.

She strained her memory and tried to focus on the key tag for a name, but nothing came to her. I want to help you, Shawn. I just can’t remember. She slowly shook her head, no.

“That’s good for now, Lil. It looks like I played you out. You go ahead and get some rest. I have some people to see here in the hospital. I’ll come back and check on you before I leave.” He bent down and kissed her forehead.

He was surprised when she reached up and placed her hand gently against his cheek. Oh, Belle, I don’t want to go.

Shawn folded the list of equipment and the copy of the exercise program that Terrance had just given him. He shoved them into his pocket and headed back towards Dr. Balfour’s office. It was five o’clock.

He knocked on the door to her office. Her temporary nameplate was tacked onto the office door slightly askew. When the door was opened by a very petite woman in her mid-to-late fifties, Shawn’s first thought was that the crooked nameplate matched the person occupying the office – everything seemed to be just a little off-center. Not in an off-putting way but in a natural, homey-feeling type way.

Her smile showed a slight gap between her front teeth. Her hair looked like it hadn’t seen a comb or brush for several hours. She obviously had a habit of running her hand through her hair. Her glasses rested halfway down her nose. Her clothes were very stylish, but somehow didn’t hang right on her tiny frame. She answered the door with one slightly scuffed pump in one hand and the other on her foot. But her smile was warm and sincere and was reflected in the clear steady gaze of her green eyes.

She pulled the door open wider and offered the hand still holding her shoe to Shawn. “Detective Brady, right on time. I like a man who’s punctual.”

Shawn gazed down at her hand and then back up to her eyes.

She followed his gaze and let out a hearty guffaw. “Let me put this where it belongs and then we can shake hands.” She bent down and slipped her shoe into place and then reached out for the handshake.

“Come in, come in. No need to stand out in the hallway.”

Shawn followed her into her office and sat in the chair across from her desk.

“It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Balfour.”

“And you, Detective Brady,” she replied.

Shawn noted that she never took her eyes off of his. He knew he was being mentally assessed. It didn’t bother him. He didn’t have anything to hide and he was fairly confident that she wouldn’t find any major character flaws. He waited for her to speak. He wanted her to know that he knew what she was doing and that he was fine with it.

“I assume you questioned Jane Doe this afternoon?”

“We refer to her as Lil, Dr. Balfour. She informed us that she hates the name Jane,” Shawn said with a smile in his voice as he recalled reading her little note on the subject.

“Who picked out that name, and why?”

“Actually, I suggested it and she agreed to it,” he replied.

“I’m interested in one thing, Detective Brady, why did you choose that name?” she leaned forward in her chair, watching his reaction closely.

“I’ll tell you that in a few minutes, Dr. Balfour. I want to know how Lil is doing. I understand you have been to see her.” He added, half under his breath, “Even though I asked to speak with you before you did.”

Dr. Balfour raised her eyebrows indicating she had heard his remark and deemed it superfluous. “I have seen her and I have talked to her. Obviously, she hasn’t been able to talk to me. I’ve just talked to her about her condition. What she can expect with regards to mood swings and such. I won’t really be able to treat her condition until she can talk to me. Now, I’m curious about the name Lil, explain it to me, please.”

“I chose Lil because I’ve basically been referring to her as ‘little one’ since I found her on the side of the road. She agreed to it.”

“There’s something you’re not telling me, Detective. Why do I sense resentment when I hear you say the name Lil?”

Shawn respected the woman’s intelligence. She was one smart cookie. He just didn’t know how much he wanted to confide to her.

“Is that really important, Dr. Balfour? I would think having Lil regain her memory or learning how to cope with memory loss is what you should be focusing on.”

“My patient is my main priority, Detective Brady.”

Shawn noticed the edge of steel in her voice and sat up straighter as she continued.

“It’s my understanding that Lil is moving in with you next week. Therefore your feelings are very important to me. Your behaviour around my patient is either going to have an adverse or positive effect on her. I would like to be convinced that it’s going to be a positive influence you have on her, not a negative one. This will be the last time I ask this question, Detective Brady. Why don’t you like calling her Lil?”

“Because her name is Belle, actually Isabella.” Shawn rose from his chair and began pacing. “I know it’s her, I just can’t prove it.”

“Fill me in on who Isabella is.”

Shawn told her the story of Belle. He told her he had proof that he had been right all along about Belle. He didn’t give her details, just that he could prove, that she hadn’t committed suicide.

“After listening to you, Detective Brady, I can only allow Lil to be placed with you on one condition.”

“Excuse me, are you saying that you have the final say in whether or not she can come and stay with me?” Shawn was astounded.

“Yes, I do. You obviously care for her and she is attached to you. You two definitely have a bond. I’m not going to dispute that. The bond between you two is very visible from what I’ve heard from the other staff members. My condition is that you can never refer to her as Belle. You can never give her any indication that you believe you know her identity. Can you promise me that, Detective Brady?”

“What? I would think knowing who she is would be a good thing for her. I could tell her all about her life prior to her disappearance. Why wouldn’t this be good for her?” Shawn was confused and trying very hard to control his temper.

“You don’t have proof, you have a feeling. Come on, you’re a detective. You know that ‘feelings’ aren’t admissible in a court of law. My condition stands. Do you agree?”

“You’re holding me hostage, Dr. Balfour. I don’t like it.”

“Be that as it may, Detective Brady. My concern is for my patient, not how you feel. You will not refer to her as Belle unless she remembers that she is Isabella. If you find proof, than we’ll talk to her together if her memory still hasn’t returned. Is that clear, Detective Brady?”

Shawn stared into her icy green eyes for a long moment.

“Crystal,” he said succinctly as he yanked open the door and slammed it shut behind him.

Chapter 22

Twelfth Precinct, May 26, 2010

Shawn checked the clock on the wall, calculating the time difference between Spokane and Salem. He needed to talk to his mother. He wanted to ask her some questions about the period of time when she first came back to Salem after having been presumed dead at the hand of Ernesto Toscano. He had avoided Dr. Balfour when he visited Lil. He was still angry at her directive to not tell Belle who she was.

Okay, not tell Belle who he thought she was. I’m right about this. I know I am.

He would wait a few more minutes before he called. He knew his mother would be seeing Zach off to school and then pouring herself that second cup of coffee and sitting back to enjoy the silence. He pulled out the list that Terrance had given him. He had made several trips to his home during the past few days in preparation for Lil’s arrival tomorrow. He didn’t try and rein in the sense of excitement he felt at having Belle move in with him.

Damn, I have to control my thoughts. If I keep referring to her as Belle in my mind all the time, I’m sure I’ll slip up and call her Belle. And then I’d have a lot of explaining to do and there would be hell to pay with Dr. Balfour. Lil, I’ll think of her as Lil.

He checked the list. He had everything he needed. This evening, after he spent time with Lil, he would stock up on groceries and other supplies. He had called one of the major department stores and given clearance for one of the nurses to select clothing for Lil. The purchases would be charged to his credit card. The nurse would buy some clothes to accommodate the casts. He asked the nurse to buy everything she would need, including outfits to wear after the casts were removed. He stressed that price was no object. The nurse had looked at him a bit strangely, but she admitted, she loved to shop so had agreed to do this little favour for him. She would have the clothing delivered to his hotel room later this afternoon so that he could pack them into his SUV.

The doctors were optimistic that her casts could be removed within the next ten to fourteen days. She would have to wear an eye patch or keep her eye covered until after her plastic surgery to remove her facial scarring. The doctors had also told her that she no longer had to wear the gauze bandages over her face, but she had insisted. That’s my Belle, doesn’t want to be seen unless she feels she looks perfect.

He checked the clock and dialled home. After three rings he heard his mother pick up.

“Hi, mom. Did you get Zach off to school on time this morning?”

“Oh, hi Shawn. It’s great to hear from you again. And yes, I got your brother to the bus just before it rolled away from the stop. He seems to have inherited your habit of dragging one’s feet in the morning.”

“Geez, mom, that was years ago,” he laughed.

“You know I love talking with you, Shawn, but I have a feeling that you didn’t call to chat about Zach or reminisce about your childhood. What’s on your mind this morning?”

“How do you do that, mom?”

“I’m a mother, just as plain and simple as that. What do you want to talk to me about?” Hope asked.

“I want to talk to you about when you first returned to Salem after everyone had thought that you died that horrible death by falling into a vat of acid. Are you up to it?” Shawn didn’t want to upset his mother, however he felt he had questions he really needed answers to.

“Why are you interested in that period of my life, Shawn? Especially now, years after it happened.”

“A victim of one of the cases I’m currently working on has amnesia, Mom. I thought you could give me some insight into what’s going on in her mind. I also have to ask some questions about you specifically?”

“What kind of questions, sweetie?”

“I need to know if it helped that you had people believe all along that you were Hope Brady. Was it helpful when they shared memories with you of Hope’s life? Did people telling you all about Hope help you in getting your memory back?”

“Shawn, you’re asking some really tough questions. I know that I felt lost and confused and scared. Oh, boy, was I scared. You can’t imagine, Shawn, what it feels like to have absolutely no memory of your life. Nothing. You don’t know where you came from, who your family is, who your friends or enemies are, who you loved. It’s awful and my heart goes out to this poor woman. Has she got her family around her, telling her about her life?”

“Well, there’s someone who claims to know who she is, but we have no proof. We haven’t been able to identify her, Mom. Do you think it would be a good thing to let him talk to her about whom she is and where she came from?” Shawn couldn’t tell his mother that he was the person he was referring to. That would lead to too many questions. Questions he wasn’t prepared to answer at this time.

“It’s hard to say, Shawn. From my experience, I could tell you truthfully that it was wonderful hearing about Hope’s life at that time when I could only remember being Gina…” Hope hesitated.

“But…” Shawn sensed there was more.

“To be honest, when I did start having memory flashes, I really couldn’t tell whether they were my own memories or memories people had given me. It was very difficult for me and it took me a long time to sort out my own true memories from those everyone else had given me.”

“Thanks, mom. You’ve been a big help.”

“Anytime, sweetie. How are you? Do you think you’re going to be able to come home for a visit soon? What about this idea of yours to search for Belle, have you given up on that?”

“Whoa, Mom. One question at a time. I’m fine, very busy with a big case right now that I can’t really discuss. I don’t think I can take the time to come home in the next little while, but it’s my intention to come for a nice long visit as soon as time permits. I will never give up on being reunited with Belle.”

“Honey, about Belle…”

Shawn interrupted his mother.

“Mom, sorry to cut this short, but I just got paged. Seems like a couple of beat cops have some escaped felons cornered. I have to go.”

“Be careful Shawn. We love you.”

“I love and miss all of you. Hug Dad and Zach for me. Bye.”

Sacred Heart Medical Centre

Dr. Balfour was in Lil’s room. She was talking to her about what she felt Lil was feeling and her suggestions on how to cope. She told her that once she was able to talk, they could discuss her emotions in more depth.

“I have some questions for you, Lil? Are you up to writing out a few answers for me?” Dr. Balfour asked.

Lil nodded in agreement.

“How do you feel about being released from the hospital tomorrow?”

I am so happy to be going home.

Dr. Balfour straightened in her chair, a hint of anger in her voice. “Is that what Detective Brady told you? That you’re going home. You do know that you are going to stay at Detective Brady’s house, don’t you?”

Lil wondered why Dr. Balfour was upset with her answer. Yes, I know. Detective Brady didn’t say I was going home. The nice old man did.

Dr. Balfour was completely bewildered now. “What old man?”

When I was dying, the old man told me to go back. He told me that Shawn was my home.

“The old man told you that Shawn Brady was your home? Where was this old man?”

In heaven. I think he’s an angel. He told me ‘He is your home.’

“What makes you think that he was referring to Detective Brady? It could have been someone else this angel was urging you to go home to.”

No. It was Shawn. I know it.

Dr. Balfour was satisfied that Detective Brady had not said anything to her patient about his theory on who she was. She was concerned about the attachment she sensed the patient felt towards the young detective. She had heard the gossip about the ‘connection’ the young man had with the woman. She didn’t get the sense that the young woman felt the same.

“I’ll need to see the both of you tomorrow. Lil. I want to talk about scheduling appointments for each of you.”

Why Shawn?

“He’s the person you’ll be spending the majority of your time with. I just want to talk to him about his feelings and his sense of how you’re doing. Don’t worry, I won’t be too hard on him.” Dr. Balfour laughed. She actually liked the man. She was worried that he was getting himself in too deep and that he could end up emotionally battered. She also thought he had the potential to cause a lot of emotional damage to the young woman. She couldn’t allow him to let Lil believe that she was someone she wasn’t.

Dr. Balfour’s train of thought was interrupted by the sound of Lil’s hand pounding on the bed. “What is it, Lil?”

Dr. Balfour handed her the notepad and pen when Lil pointed to it, trembling.

Shawn is in danger. You have to warn him! Hurry!

Dr. Balfour learned very quickly that her assumption that Lil didn’t share that special connection with Detective Brady was incorrect. “I’m sure you don’t need to worry. He’s a trained policeman. Putting himself in dangerous situations is part of his job. I’m sure he’s always careful.”

Abandoned Warehouse, Industrial Area

Shawn paid attention during the briefing around Captain Jamieson’s car. Captain Jamieson of the Seventh Precinct was in charge. Shawn learned that four escaped felons had entered the warehouse. The warehouse had quickly been surrounded and the Captain was fairly certain that all the four men were still inside. He warned the detectives to be alert and on guard. The beat cops that had made the ID felt that the men knew the warehouse well. They knew exactly where the entrances were. It was very possible that they had been hiding out there since their escape from an Indiana Federal Penitentiary eight days ago. All four men had been convicted of armed robbery and murder. Two armoured vehicle guards and one off duty policeman had been killed. The felons were considered armed and extremely dangerous.

The S.W.A.T. members would enter first, creating a line of defence. The others would enter as soon as an all clear was given.

Shawn put on his vest and waited for orders. There were three other detectives from the Twelfth Precinct with him. They stood around and chatted briefly. Shawn had been so tied up in Lil’s case that he was a little behind on the other ongoing cases that were being worked on. After about twenty minutes, the leader of the S.W.A.T. team radioed that it seemed like the felons had escaped through a window at the back of the warehouse.

Captain Jamieson ordered the detectives and a forensics team to make a sweep of the warehouse. The S.W.A.T. team would remain inside in case there was a chance that the felons were still in the warehouse.

Shawn entered the warehouse with the man he had first been partnered with when joining the Twelfth. He enjoyed working with Detective Dennis Forrest. He had almost twenty-five years on the job and all he talked about was his upcoming retirement. He loved fly fishing and camping. He was looking forward to all the trips Delores, his wife, and him had planned. He also couldn’t wait until he could teach his first grandchild how to fish. He loved that little guy and his eyes always lit up when he talked about little Jacob.

Sacred Heart Medical Center

Dr. Balfour was trying in vain to calm Lil down.

Get Andrew. He’ll warn him.

“Mr. Donovan went away on business. I don’t know when he’s going to back. Don’t worry, I’m sure everything is fine. Detective Brady will probably be along to visit you any moment now.”

No. Call the police. Please. I have to know!

“All right. I’ll call his precinct and ask to speak to him. If he’s not there, I’ll find out where he is. Try and calm down. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Abandoned Warehouse, Industrial Area

Shawn and his partner had just discovered a stash of weapons. Shawn stepped away to signal the forensics team when all hell broke loose. Shawn was aware of the sound of gunfire and was momentarily confused as to the direction the shots were originating from.

He realized that the shots were coming from the rafters of the building. They were pinned down by the felons. He turned to call for Dennis just as a bullet hit the older man in the back of the head.

Shawn dropped and rolled behind the crates holding the weapons. He pulled his gun and tried to peer through the dim light to see if he could see any of the snipers. His heart was breaking. He knew that Dennis would never have the chance to teach little Jacob how fish.

The time to mourn would have to wait until later. First, he had to get himself in a more secure position. He still felt vulnerable and partially out in the open. He heard the returning gunfire of the S.W.A.T. team members.

He looked up and caught the glint of metal. He quickly moved and fired. The shooter and Shawn shot at the same time. Shawn saw that his bullet had hit the mark just before everything went black.

Sacred Heart Medical Center

Shawn! Watch out. Look up, look up. Lil could barely control her breathing. Where’s Dr. Balfour? He needs me. They have to take me to him. God, I feel so helpless. Where is she?

Lil felt the impact of the bullet as it hit Shawn. She clutched her chest and fought to stay conscious. He needs me.

She didn’t need Dr. Balfour to say anything when she finally came into the room fifteen minutes later. She knew.

“I’m sorry, Lil. I have some really bad news. I finally got through to Detective Brady’s commanding officer. Apparently, Shawn, Detective Brady, was on a case, trying to capture some escaped felons. I…I…don’t know how to tell you this. Details are very sketchy at the moment but apparently several police officers lost their lives. It appears that Detective Brady was one of the casualties.”

Chapter 23

May 26, 2010 Sacred Heart Medical Center 9pm

Lil looked at Dr. Balfour, silently shaking her head ‘no’.

“I’m sorry, Lil. I know this is hard for you, but you have to be strong. Shawn would want you to go on and face the future.”

She snatched the notepad and pen and wrote furiously. He’s not dead. He’s just hurt. He needs me. Tell Dr. Gordon.

Dr. Balfour thought about having her sedated and then quickly ruled that out. She decided to humour the patient.

“I’ll go find Dr. Gordon.” Maybe he could get her to accept that Detective Brady had died a tragic death in the line of duty.

Abandoned Warehouse, Industrial Warehouse

Shawn regained consciousness just as he was being placed into the back of an ambulance. His chest hurt like hell and he struggled to breathe. Jesus, it feels like I was hit with a cannon ball, not a bullet. He grabbed the wrist of one of the EMT’s and pulled the oxygen mask off his face. He tried to talk through his pain.

“Hey, man. Keep it cool. You’re going to be just fine.”

Shawn gasped. “C…c…call Dr. Gordon, Sacred…Heart. Te..tell him you’re bringing in Detective Shawn Brady.”

“We’ll tell the attending when we get you there that you asked for him.”

Shawn tightened his grip on the man’s wrist. “Call, now,” he blurted out between clenched teeth.

“Sure, man. Dr. Gordon, right? And you’re Detective Grady?”

“Br…Brady.” Shawn collapsed back onto the gurney and put the oxygen mask back into place.

Sacred Heart Medical Center

Dr. Balfour had just given Dr. Gordon a rundown of the evening’s events that had resulted in the death of the young detective. They were discussing the best course of treatment for Lil. They were both concerned about her emotional stability.

“She wants to see you, Dr. Gordon. She says he’s not dead, just hurt. She just keeps insisting he needs her.”

“We shouldn’t discount her feelings too quickly, Dr. Balfour. Those two have an uncanny ability to sense the other’s thoughts and feelings. You did also say that Captain Morley said details were very sketchy. Perhaps Detective Brady wasn’t killed.”

“There’s a…” They were interrupted by the sound of Dr. Gordon’s pager.

“Excuse me, Dr. Balfour. I’m being paged by the ER.” He picked up his phone and dialled the extension. “Dr. Gordon. You paged me?” He listened intently. “I’m on my way.”

“What should I tell Lil, Dr. Gordon? She was asking for you?”

“Go and tell her that Detective Brady is being brought into the ER now. I’m on my way to treat him. It doesn’t sound like his injuries are all that serious. As soon as I can, I’ll bring him to see her.”

“So she was right. I’ll go and give her the good news.”

One hour later, Shawn entered Lil’s room under his own steam. He was badly bruised and sore, but otherwise no serious damage had been done.

She watched him approach slowly and she felt that her heart was going to burst. She had been so scared, so worried about him. She couldn’t contemplate the possibility of losing him once again. Again? I have to stop mixing him up with the man I love. I couldn’t have lost Shawn before. I don’t know him.

Shawn noticed the shimmer of tears in her undamaged eye. He reached up and with his thumb, gently brushed away the one lone tear that clung to her thick eyelashes.

She blinked back the remaining tears and reached up to caress his face. Shawn bent down and placed a kiss as soft as a whisper on her eyelid. He then held her hand against his face before sliding her palm to his lips. He kissed her open palm and then closed her fingers around the kiss. “Thank you, little one.”

She looked into his deep brown eyes and momentarily lost her breath. His eyes were full of love. Love? I must be projecting. Why would he love me? He doesn’t even know what I look like. I haven’t been able to speak to him. Love, hah! Obviously the drugs I’ve been ingesting have addled my brain. Wait, why is he thanking me? She looked at him again, this time with a question in her eye.

Shawn sat next to her, never letting go of her hand. He was unaware that he kept caressing her knuckles and fingers with slow, circular motions using his thumb. “I heard your warning. You saved my life, Lil.”

She pulled her hand out of his and picked up the notepad. God, I wish I could talk to you. She scribbled a note and passed it to him.

Shawn read her words and his eyes filled with tears. “Yes, we do, little one. For now and forever,” he whispered. He rose and joined her on the hospital bed, holding her gently against him as they both drifted off to sleep. Shawn never noticed, when the notepad fell face up to the floor displaying her scribbled message, We belong to each other now.

May 27, 2010 Sacred Heart Medical Center 2pm

Has he changed his mind? Doesn’t he want me to come home with him? Lil sat patiently in her wheelchair, waiting for Shawn to come back for her. He had told her he had a few errands to run and then he would come back for her. That had been at nine this morning.

The nurse that had been shopping for her had chosen wisely. Lil wore a loose fitting, sleeveless T-shirt and work out pants that zipped up the side of the leg to accommodate her cast. She insisted that her face remain lightly covered with gauze bandages and her damaged eye was covered with extra layers of gauze and a patch.

She was so excited to be leaving the hospital. She had been working hard with her physical therapist and was semi-independent. She no longer needed to be fed intravenously. That was good, but she would be the first to admit that sucking liquid meals through a straw was not exactly the height of haute cuisine. Shawn had said that he didn’t have a ramp or elevator at his cottage, but that it was open and large enough that she would have freedom of movement within on her wheelchair. Because her casts were going to be removed in less than two weeks, no one felt it was necessary for his home to be renovated to make it wheelchair accessible.

At two-thirty, when she felt that she couldn’t sit anymore and would have to get back into her hospital bed, he came through her door. Her immediate reaction was to show him in some form how angry she was with him. She was about to throw the notepad she had picked up when she really looked at him. All the anger she felt drained away when she noticed how much he was hurting.

“I’m sorry, Lil. I…” Shawn took a deep breath and then crouched down to bring himself on eye level with her. He placed his hands on her waist. “I never told you that my partner was killed yesterday in the shoot out. I’ve just come from paying my respects to his family. Do you know that he was only three months away from retirement? He, he…” Shawn swallowed hard.

It was really awkward for her having only one arm free, but she reached around, trying to draw him closer. Shawn dropped to his knees, and allowed her to pull him towards her. He rested his head against her chest, the top of his head nestled underneath her chin. She couldn’t seem to stop herself from letting her fingers twine themselves in his hair and pulling him closer.

After a few minutes, Shawn rose and pulled himself together. “Come on, let’s bust you out of this place.” Her blue eye sparkled with anticipation and Shawn smiled.

It was almost an hour before Shawn finally found himself lifting her out of the wheelchair and settling her into the bucket seat of his SUV. There had been instructions from Dr. Gordon, appointments set up with Terrance and Dr. Balfour. Shawn was a little perturbed that Dr. Balfour had insisted on seeing him on occasion. He found it strange that she wanted to see them both separately and every now and then, together. Shawn had made peace with Dr. Balfour. He had talked to her after he had spoken to his mother. He had told her he understood her concern and agreed that he wouldn’t tell Lil that he felt she was really Isabella Black.

He had also told Dr. Balfour that if Lil asked him about his life and whether or not he had ever been in love, he would tell her about Belle. He had assured her that he would only talk about feelings and never give any details about their time together.

After he strapped the seat belt around her and shut her door, he ran around the vehicle and got behind the wheel. He felt as excited and as nervous as he had when he was standing in Belle’s living room waiting for her to come down the stairs the night they were going on their first official date. He had every intention of keeping his promise to Dr. Balfour. He wouldn’t tell Lil any specifics of the dates they had shared as Shawn and Belle, but he was going to do his best to recreate several of them. Who knew, any little thing could spark a memory. Maybe a song, a scent, a touch, it could be anything.

He talked to her all during the drive to his cabin. He told her everything he had done while she was waiting patiently for his return. He had talked to his Captain and arranged to work only occasionally and primarily on her case. He mentioned that he was going to be part of the Honour Guard at Detective Forrest’s funeral in two days. He talked about his home and what she could expect.

He apologized that it was isolated. They were basically going to be on their own because he had no neighbours. He told her he never felt bored or lonely there. He said he could sit for hours on his deck that ran along three sides of his cabin watching the changing sky, the sunsets, just gazing at the mountains in the distance. He told her how he would sometimes relax in the outdoor hot tub that was situated outside his bedroom. He told her that his cabin had open beamed ceilings, a huge stone fireplace on both levels, and that the bedrooms and the main bath were on the upper level. He told that he would carry her up and down the stairs.

She gazed with interest at the scenery that rolled past as they drove on Hwy 206. It was so beautiful. The forests, the lush green grass, the distant mountains all looked like a landscape painter’s dream canvas. She never noticed when Shawn stopped talking. She never noticed that their speed slowed or that Shawn tensed up. She didn’t know when they passed the spot where she had almost died. She was lost in the beauty around her.

She strained eagerly to get a glimpse of the cabin when Shawn slowed and turned down a lane.

He chuckled. “We still have about three miles to go, little one. Patience, we’re almost there.”

When he finally rolled up in front of his cabin, she was shocked by what stood in front of her. She had expected his cabin to be a small little….well, she didn’t know what she expected. It certainly wasn’t what she was seeing in front of her. The cabin was a two story structure with the deck running around the upper level. The stone of the chimney was a perfect match for the stone that covered the front of the lower level. The top level showcased large windows that covered almost an entire half of the length of the building, including running in height right up into the center peak. It was huge. She couldn’t wait to see the inside and struggled clumsily with the clasp of the seat belt.

Shawn was already by her door and laughed heartily when he noticed her wide eyes and her attempts to unbuckle her seat belt. “Lil, I’m going to take your wheelchair inside first and then I’ll come get you. Now, don’t try and make it in on your own.”

He laughed again as he ducked out of the way of the playful slap he was about to receive. Deep inside he was filled with pride and happiness that his home appeared to meet with her approval. He carried her wheelchair to the door, unlocked it and wheeled the chair inside. He took a quick look around to make sure that everything had been set up to his specifications earlier that day. It had cost him a lot to get the florist to agree to deliver the different floral arrangements he had ordered and then set them up throughout the cabin. He had picked up the key he had left for the florist just before picking Lil up from the hospital.

He jogged back to his car. He stood with his back to the open door so she could wrap her left arm around his neck and then he picked her up and nudged the door shut with his knee. They stood momentarily just looking into one other’s eyes. He smiled and said, “We’re home, Lil.”

Yes, we’re home Shawn.

Chapter 24

May 27, 2010 The Cabin

Shawn carried Lil into his home. It was a tossup as to who was more excited. He was anxious that his home would meet with her approval. She couldn’t wait to see the inside of the house she would share with Shawn.

I wonder if this is how a bride feels when she returns from her honeymoon. Thank heavens she had a bandage covering her face. She’d have a hard time explaining the blush she felt rising from her neck to the roots of her blonde hair. I’m sure the honeymoon would have been heaven on earth. Shawn would be such a considerate and passionate lover. Stop! I have to stop thinking of Shawn as a lover. I’m in love with another man. She blocked out her inner voice reminding her that she was in love with a man she didn’t remember, a man who could possibly be Shawn. No, I would know, wouldn’t I? Again that pesky inner voice of hers surfaced, ‘Oh, but you do know who the man is. You’re just not ready to face your past yet.’

She looked around her when Shawn carried her through the front doors. I’m home. She took in the beauty of the interior of the cabin. The massive stone fireplace in the living room, the gleaming matching wood coffee table and end tables, the long couch and matching arm chairs accentuated the wood on the mantelpiece, the polished white pine of the walls, the gleaming hardwood floors, the various multicoloured throw rugs, the open-beamed ceilings, the multitude of ceiling fans, the polished shine of the dining set, the breakfast bar that separated the kitchen from the dining room, the curving wood staircase that led to the upper level. The reflection of the late afternoon sun sparkling on the polished wood formed prisms of colour when settling on the crystal fixtures washed the house in a rainbow of warmth. She also took note of the numerous arrangements of fresh flowers scattered throughout. The scent of the different varieties of flowers wafted around them.

Shawn watched her reaction closely. “Do you like it, Lil?” he asked, as he sat her down in her wheelchair.

She looked around and noticed that pens and notepads had been placed strategically throughout the main level. He’s thought of everything. She picked up the one closest to her, right on the entryway table. Before she wrote, she leaned in to caress the petals of the yellow roses in the floral arrangement set on the small, delicate three-legged table. I love the scent of all flowers, but roses are my favourite. It’s a good thing, Dr. Balfour told me that a lot of actions and thoughts would just come naturally. She said I haven’t really forgotten anything, there’s just some things I can’t remember. She scribbled on the notepad and passed it to Shawn.

It’s beautiful, Shawn. Thank you for letting me stay here with you.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, Lil. Let me get you settled and I’ll bring the rest of the stuff in from the car. Then I’ll whip up some supper. I’m sure you’re dying for some more of that liquid gruel,” he teased.

After several trips unloading the car and unpacking the groceries and various other items he had picked up, plus unpacking the clothes the nurse had bought, Shawn came down the stairs and headed to the kitchen. He made small talk with Lil as he tried to erase the image of her clothed in the wispy silk and satin bras and panty sets the nurse had included. He absolutely refused to allow himself to think of Belle wearing some of the negligee that the nurse had selected as part of the wardrobe she had purchased.

What is he thinking about? He has a far away dreamy look in his eyes. He’s in love. Oh, no. What am I going to do? Will the woman he loves understand my living with him? Will she force him to move me out on my own? Where would I go?

The more she thought of the possibility of being separated from Shawn, the more agitated she grew. I have to know. She wheeled over to the breakfast bar and grabbed the notepad and pen. She wrote her question, the pen unsteady in fingers that trembled. She was trying to decide whether she should nudge him with her wheelchair when she failed to get his attention by waving the notepad in his direction.

Shawn didn’t know how long Lil had been trying to get him to notice her. “Huh? Oh sorry, Lil. I guess I was thinking about…uh…uh…our schedule over the next few days.” Shawn blinked furiously to erase the image of Belle undoing her robe the night she came to his dorm room all those years ago.

Hah! Schedule, my foot. You were thinking about your lover.

Shawn read her note and sensed that she knew exactly what he had been thinking about. He couldn’t exactly tell her that he had been daydreaming about her, but he had to calm her fears.

“No, little one. No one is going to be upset that you are living here with me. My parents and family live in another state, not that any of them would object. They would all love you.” Just like I do. He knew that wasn’t exactly the answer she was looking for and he knew it wouldn’t put her mind at ease. He chose his next words carefully. “I’m not involved with anyone, Lil. There is no woman in my life that is going to show up in a jealous rage demanding that I move you out of my home.”

She was confused. She sensed he was deeply in love, yet she also believed him. Is it possible that the woman he loves doesn’t return his feelings? Is she certifiable? How could she not love this man? Whoa, this is none of my business. I don’t really know Shawn. Maybe he has traits I haven’t been witness to that make him an unsuitable life partner. She somewhat doubted that. Damn. I can’t wait until I can talk again. It’s so frustrating. I have so many questions, so much I want to say. She sighed, prompting Shawn to ask her if she was tired and if she wanted to rest a bit before supper.

Liquid gruel? I don’t think I have to rest before I force that stuff down my throat. She shook her head.

“Okay then. Let’s adjourn to the dining room.”

Shawn set her gently on one of the padded lounge chairs on the deck facing west. “I’m going to carry your chair up and then bring some iced tea. We can sit back and watch the sun set.” He went back inside and got her a blanket. “Here, Lil. Let me cover you, you look chilled.”

A feeling of peace and tranquility settled over her as she gazed at the vista before her. The distant snow covered mountains were bathed in the glow of the setting sun. The colour of the sky was slowly changing from the reds and oranges of evening to the black of night. The night sounds of the creatures of the forest were a pleasant diversion from the silence of the surroundings.

I could stay here forever. She sat up straighter, ready to chastise herself for even allowing such a thought to enter her mind. But, the more she thought about it, the more she knew that it was true.

If I should never regain my memory, I would be very content to spend the rest of my life here with Shawn. Her inner voice intruded, ‘What are you going to do if you regain your memory? What happens when you’re reunited with the man you love? What happens with Shawn then?’

She didn’t want to even think about the implications. She didn’t want to think about all these feelings she had for a man that she hadn’t even been able to have a real conversation with as yet. I’m sure when I regain my memory these feelings for him will fade. He’s all I have at the moment. The only person in my life I could have feelings for. I’m sure these are just feelings of gratitude. He’s done so much for me, a complete stranger, how can I not be grateful.

She heard Shawn return and watched as he set down her iced tea on the table next to her.

“The sunsets are spectacular, Lil. Each and everyone is different. I sit out here whenever I can and just take in the majesty of nature.”

He settled in the chair next to her and let the ensuing display calm him. He felt like a kid with a shiny new toy. He loved having her with him. Shawn and Belle. He loved the sound of their two names joined together. Too bad no one could speak them out loud until he proved that Lil was Belle. He was so sure that Belle’s journal would be all he needed to prove irrefutably that Lil was Isabella Black.

Andrew hadn’t opened the dairy and her roommate had said she had not read it. The only fingerprints on the pages inside should of have been Belle’s. He had been extremely careful while reading the journal. He had given the journal to Derek. Derek had called earlier that morning saying that Ms. Spencer had lied, both her and her husband’s prints were found throughout the diary. What made matters even worse was that one of them read the entries using their fingers as a bookmark or place marker. Most prints were smudged and could not be identified. The only matches that had been made were to fingerprints on file for Cara and Todd Spencer.

He had to find a way to prove his theory. Only then could they get on with the business of living their lives as a couple. He glanced over at Lil and noticed that she was almost asleep. He set his glass down and turned to her.

“Hey, sleepy head. You ready for bed?”

He bent down and lifted her into his arms. His heart skipped a beat when she wrapped her arm around his neck and nestled her face into the crook of his shoulder. He dropped a soft, silent kiss on the top of her hair breathing in the faint scent of the herbal shampoo the hospital staff used when washing her hair.

The clerk at the salon had looked at him very strangely when he had spent the better part of an hour opening various bottles of shampoo and conditioner searching for that one special scent that he always associated with Belle. He’d finally found it and hoped that the first time he washed her hair the delicate scent of wild roses would trigger a buried memory.

He carried her to his bedroom and set her gently in her wheelchair. “I thought it would be better if you sleep in my room, Lil. It has a full bath. If you need to get up in the night, I don’t want you having to wheel yourself down the hallway. I’ve laid out some night clothes for you. I’ll wait until you’re changed and then I’ll help you get into bed.

Lil manoeuvred the motorized wheel chair to the washroom and closed the door behind her. Full bath, my foot. Full bath and dressing room, complete with a huge walk-in closet, shelving and a counter, with vanity mirror. He built this with a woman in mind. She stared at the luxurious marble-toned fixtures, the huge tub, the stand alone shower, the attention to detail amazed her. She noticed the boxer shorts and oversize T-shirt laid out on the vanity. She struggled raising herself slightly, trying to pull down her sweat pants. She just didn’t have the energy. The emotions of the day, combined with the physical activity were just too much for her.

She opened the door and waited for Shawn to notice.

He was turning down the bed when he heard the door open. He never looked up until he realized he didn’t hear the sound of her chair. “What’s the matter, Lil?”

He reached for the notepad she handed him. I need help. Too tired. Please help me change and wash up.

“Uh, sure. Let me run some water in the sink”. Shit. How can I do this without her guessing how I feel about her?

She noticed how he avoided looking directly at her as he removed the T-shirt that she was wearing. He placed a towel in her lap and behind her back, and gently washed her shoulders, back and the arm that wasn’t in the cast. The towels he used to dry her were as soft and gentle as his touch had been. He pulled her up and eased down her sweats. The touch of his fingers running down her leg ignited a spark inside her.

Shawn took a deep breath as he pulled her sweats over her cast. Great, what do I do now? Am I supposed to ask her if she wants to sleep with her bra and panties on?

She undid that front clasp on the plain white bra she was wearing.

Well, I guess that answers one half of my question. He quickly turned his back to her, giving her privacy. He got her night shirt ready to slip on. When he saw her toss the bra on to the counter, he inhaled deeply, turned around and fixed his gaze on the shower fixtures and aimed for her head. He felt her jerk back when he connected with the gauze on her face. Damn! This isn’t going to work. I have to look at her to see what I’m doing. He quickly looked down and noticed she had covered her breasts with her left hand.

God. I’m so stupid. She’s just as embarrassed as I am. He slipped the oversize shirt over her head and got the arm with the cast on through the sleeve opening. After that, she was able to finish putting on the night shirt. He picked up the boxers and looked at her.

She pointed from the boxers to her feet.

Thank-you, God! he silently whispered.

Shawn carried her to his king-size bed and made sure she was comfortable. “I’m going to sleep in the guest bedroom down the hall. I’ll leave the bedroom doors open. I’ve left a bell here on the nightstand. If you need me, just pick it up and ring. I’ll hear you and I’ll come running. Don’t worry, I’m a light sleeper now.” He laughed. “Just don’t ever ask my Mom what it took to get me out of bed to go to school when I was still living at home.”

She took the notepad and pencil off the nightstand.

Shawn read the note. Jesus. Does she have any idea what’s she asking? He read the note again. I want you to stay with me. Sleep with me.
Last edited by Mrs.B. on November 6th, 2004, 2:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

October 21st, 2004, 6:30 pm #10

This is a Shawn and Belle Fanfic. This fic has an overall rating of NC-17.

I disclaim - Some of the characters in this story belong to the owners of Days Of Our Lives - the rest are just part of my imagination. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is entirely concidental. I would also like to credit all the authors of the trashy, thoroughly enjoyable romance novels that I've read. They were my inspiration for the 'love scenes'.

Chapters 25 - 29

Chapter 25

May 28, 2010 The Cabin

Hmmm. This feels so good, so natural and right. She nestled closer into the warm sleeping body of Shawn Brady. The slow, steady breathing and rise and fall of his chest under her hand brought back memories of last night.

She had thought he had looked slightly panicked when he had read her note asking him to stay with her but had quickly brushed that idea aside. What reason would he have had to panic? It’s not like we hadn’t slept together before. I’m sure he knows I’m asking him this because I’m afraid to spend the night alone. I’m in a strange place without anyone to support me if I need to get out of the bed.

She had managed to move in and out of her hospital bed, but there had always been someone close by to help her if she faltered. What if I fall and can’t reach the bell?

He had finally stammered out his agreement and went to change.

She had certainly had second thoughts about sharing a bed with him when he had stepped out of the dressing room. The glow of the light behind him had accentuated the width of his shoulders. She remembered struggling to steady her breathing when she had taken in the sight of his half naked body. The broad shoulders, the bulging biceps, the washboard abs, the dark, curly chest hair that tapered down his waist and was lost to her sight when her eyes had drifted downwards and lingered on the sweat pants that hung low on his waist. What I could do with that drawstring!

She had quickly done away with the mental picture of undoing the knot with her teeth and her hands running up his rock hard thighs. All of these memories came rushing back to her. She couldn’t help herself, she just had to curl her fingers into his silky chest hair. She really would like to let her hand wander further south. Damn. I have to stop thinking like this. What’s the matter with me? As if any man would be interested in a woman who has casts on her arm and leg, her face covered to hide the scars of surgery, a patch over one eye and a jaw wired shut. Well, maybe some men might view a woman with a wired-shut jaw a plus, but it’s still not a pretty sight.

As she fought the urge to let her hand caress him, she nestled deeper into the curve of his arm. The rhythm of his heartbeat and the soft sound of his breathing lulled her back to sleep.

Shawn fought the urge to wake up. He was having the sweetest dream. In his dream Belle was in bed with him. They were a tangled mess of arms and legs. She was snuggled against his chest, his hand was cupping her breast through the thin cotton of her nightshirt as his thumb caressed her swollen nipple. Her leg was thrown over his and her hand was slowly traveling down his chest. Teasingly slow. The coolness of her fingertips on his heated skin was driving him mad. Ah, Belle. Lower your hand. I want you to touch me. I ache for you to touch me. He let out a small groan of frustration when her hand stilled high up on his groin.

Shawn’s eyes snapped open. He immediately realized that he hadn’t been dreaming. Belle was here with him in his bed. Oh, god. If her hand gets any lower she’s going to encounter more than enough heat to warm those delicate little fingers of hers. How do I extricate myself without her knowing exactly how much I want her? He tried to think of something unpleasant, anything that would help him control his ever-growing hardness. Shit, Brady. Stop playing with her nipple and let go of her breast. That might help!

Shawn removed his hand from her breast with great reluctance and slowly moved his arm out from underneath her. He had to get out of this bed and away from her. He had managed to turn his back to her and start sliding toward the side of the bed when he felt her hand on his shoulder.

He turned back to look at her. “Good morning, Lil. I’m just going to put some coffee in. One thing you’ll learn living here with me, is that I’m not good for much until I have that first jolt of caffeine. Yeah, I’m a real grouch, or so I’ve been told, until I’ve had that first cup. I remember….” Jesus H. Christ, I’m rambling and babbling like a silly teenage girl with a crush on the school jock.”

Why is he so nervous? And what is he talking about?

Shawn noticed her look of confusion. Poor woman, she must be wondering if I’ve lost my senses. “I’m sorry. You don’t really need to hear about my addiction to caffeine, now, do you? Would you like me to help you into your chair? I’ll show you where your clothes are and you can pick out something to wear. Don’t forget we have some physical therapy exercises to do today. You might as well dress for that.” Thank the lord that his nervousness had cooled his ardour.

He lifted her into the chair and showed her the various drawers that contained items of her clothing. He also showed her the section of the closet that contained an assortment of slacks, blouses, suits, dresses, sweaters, everything she could possibly need. “When you need anything from the closet, just let me know and I’ll get it down for you.”

Once he was sure she had everything she needed, he went down to the kitchen to put the coffee on. What have I got myself in for? Good lord, I can’t even control my body around her in the condition she’s in. I haven’t even been able to see what she looks like yet. What am I going to do when I see my sweet, sweet Belle’s face for the first time in years?

June 8, 2010, Hwy 206

Shawn cast a quick glimpse in her direction before turning from his road onto Hwy 206. He understood that today was going to be a very emotional day for her. Her casts were going to be removed and her jaw unwired. The doctors had also told her that they had made a half mask for her to wear over the scarred side of her face. She wouldn’t have to keep wrapping herself in gauze any longer. He had tried to tell her that it wasn’t really necessary for her to cover her face for his benefit. But nothing he had said could convince her to unveil herself in his presence.

This was going to a long and busy day for the both of them. He had meetings set up with both Derek and Stephen. Dr. Balfour had scheduled a one on one appointment with both him and Lil and also a joint session with the both of them. Shawn was uncomfortable with the joint session. He didn’t know what to expect and he didn’t know what insight Dr. Balfour expected to gain by seeing them both together. He had had one session with her since moving Lil into his home. Lil seen her three times a week.

Shawn reflected back over the past days since Lil had come to live with him. It was both delightful and tortuous living with her. He had had to help her change and wash several times. The glimpses he had got of her naked flesh set his teeth on edge. He knew that she had to have felt the trembling of his fingers as he pulled on her boxers or sweats. He could have sworn he felt the same trembling from her when she held on to his waist or shoulder while he was helping her dress. That couldn’t have been desire. She probably trembled because she was weak and tired.

Washing her hair was something he loved to do, but it wreaked havoc on his libido. The scented shampoo hadn’t triggered any memories but she had made a point of writing him a note saying she that it was a scent she would have chosen for herself. He smiled when remembering how he had to cajole to remove her bandage that was wrapped around her face and head. She had finally agreed to it after he gave her a towel to hold over her face.

Even their physical therapy sessions had caused him to sweat. Reading the exercise sheet and helping her with them were two entirely different things. All the times he had had to hold her under the arms while he was steadying her. There was no way to avoid his hands brushing up against the sides of her breasts. Being so close to her and breathing in the intoxicating scent of her shampoo mingled with the scent of the soaps and lotions she used, sent his thoughts in one direction, right towards his bed.

He groaned inwardly thinking of his bed. The nights were the hardest. Hard. Bad choice of words. I swear I have never had to take so many cold showers in my life. She had wanted him with her every night. Each morning he invariably found himself in the same condition as the first morning. At least he had mastered the art of retreating from the bed without her catching a glimpse of his arousal. He could even do it now without babbling. As difficult as it was spending the nights with her, he was disappointed knowing that tonight they would be sleeping in separate beds. She wouldn’t need his help any longer.

She was enjoying the silence between them. Shawn had thrown her a smile and then focused on the road. She fiddled with the radio until she found a station that played soft rock tunes and settled back in her seat. She couldn’t wait to be able to talk again. She had so much she wanted to say to Shawn.

Like what? That I’m crazy about you. That I want you so much I could scream. That I long for the touch of your hands on my body. That I long to feel your naked skin pressed against my naked skin. That I can’t wait until I can kiss you senseless. Oh yeah, I’m sure that’s what he’s waiting to here from me. All he wants is for me to remember who I am, what happened to me, who did it to me and then he can wrap up his case, turn me over to whoever, and move on with his life. The thought of not being able to see Shawn every day or worse, not at all, was very depressing.

She reflected back over her visits with Dr. Balfour. For some reason, Dr. Balfour kept coming back to Shawn and her feelings for him. She hadn’t really revealed much to the woman, but she had sensed that Dr. Balfour was very good at her job and read between the lines. She kept making such a point of telling Lil about ‘transference’. She could hear her stating ‘One must not confuse gratitude with love.’ Another thing that really confused her was some of the pointed remarks about Shawn that Dr. Balfour threw out there during their sessions. Odd little remarks that inferred that Shawn might be treating her so kindly in atonement for past mistakes. It was almost like Dr. Balfour was trying to warn her about something, but what? Well she would find out today. She had every intention of asking her now that she would be able to speak and not have to write every little thing down.

She wondered how long before her and Shawn would be able to head for home. Home. She loved the sound of that. She loved Shawn’s home. As awed as she had been by the main level, the second level was her favourite. She loved the den that featured the huge windows that took up almost the entire south side of the cabin. The stone fireplace was set in one corner. There was a huge entertainment center with a large library of DVD’s and CD’s and large screen television. A large section of one wall was covered in book shelves. She had spent some pleasant hours stretched out either in one of the several large over-sized stuffed chairs or sofas just gazing at the panoramic view or reading. He had shown her the three guest rooms. He didn’t have to say it, but she knew the one across the hall from the master bedroom was earmarked to be a nursery one day. She loved the deck that wound it’s way around three sides of the upper level. She had caught a quick glimpse of the hot tub through the patio doors of Shawn’s bedroom, but hadn’t been out to that portion of the deck as yet. She wondered if she’d get a chance to share that hot tub with Shawn. She also knew that tonight she would have no real reason to ask him to sleep in the same bed as her. She wasn’t looking forward to moving out of his room. She shook herself out of her reverie when she realized that Shawn pulled up outside the entrance doors to the research facility.

Sacred Heart Medical Centre 9am

Shawn had left Lil in the capable hands of the doctors and headed off to his first appointment. He entered Dr. Balfour’s office. They exchanged pleasantries as Dr. Balfour waited for Shawn to set himself into the chair across from her desk.

“Today’s the big day. Lil gets her casts off and she’ll be able to talk. How do you feel about that, Shawn?”

“How do I feel about that. Isn’t that more a question for Lil than me?”

“I’m not asking Lil, I’m asking you.”

“I’m happy for her. It will be relief for her to gain complete independence and I’m sure to be able to speak again.” Shawn was confused as to what Dr. Balfour expected him to say.

“That’s true, Detective. She won’t need you as much anymore. How does that make you feel?”

“I don’t understand, Dr. Balfour. What does her not needing me to such a great extent any longer have to do with anything? She’ll be mobile, she’ll be stronger, she’ll be happier, I think. She’ll be able to speak her mind. Maybe being able to talk, she might say something about her life before she ended up in this condition without even realizing it. She might even begin remembering her past. Aren’t these all good things?”

“I think so, but in your heart of hearts, Shawn, do you really feel that these are good things.”

“What are you getting at, Dr. Balfour. I don’t understand.”

“Have you ever asked yourself that one question, Shawn, that one question that you don’t want spoken out loud.” Dr. Balfour watched him intently.

Shawn was growing increasingly uneasy. “I..I’m not sure what question you’re referring to?”

Dr. Balfour paused for a long moment and held his gaze as she asked, “What are you going to do when she remembers who she is and it turns out she is not Isabella Black?”

Chapter 26

Sacred Heart Medical Centre June 8, 2010

The slamming of Dr. Balfour’s office door caused the nurse at the front desk to jump and spill her coffee all over the forms she had been filling out. She glanced up and quickly wondered if she should head for an exit when she saw the thunderous look on Detective Brady’s face. Good lord, I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side this morning. She thought the prudent thing to do was ignore him and carry on with her clean-up.

Shawn was furious! His meeting with Dr. Balfour had ended very badly. To give credit where credit was due, Dr. Balfour had tried to explain her concern and calm him down. But he hadn’t wanted to hear anything she had had to say. She kept hammering at him that he was only thinking of himself. She was worried about her primary patient, Lil. She didn’t want Lil falling for a man that was desperately in love with another woman. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Lil is Belle. I know it, my heart knows it.

After several minutes and several deep cleansing breaths, Shawn had calmed down a little. He headed to the Physical Therapy room to have a quick chat with Terrance about a new exercise program for Lil now that her casts were removed. He turned back and glanced at the door to Dr. Balfour’s office. Her words to him as he was leaving her office haunted him. Shawn loves Belle. Shawn believes Lil is Belle so consequently he loves Lil. Lil loves Shawn. Will Shawn still love Lil if Lil is not Belle? He wouldn’t worry about it, after all, he was right so that situation would never arise.

Computer Room

Stephen was engrossed in whatever he was working on when Shawn entered the computer room. “Hi, Steve. Sorry to interrupt. If you’re too busy, I can check back later.”

Steve looked up. “No, it’s fine. I was expecting you this morning. I have some updates for you.”

“Before you bring me up to speed, have you heard from Andrew? I expected him to be back from Lucerne by now.”

“He’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you today. He made a side trip to London. I contacted him and let him know that I felt is was extremely unsafe to try and access the personnel files. I had tried several different approaches to hacking into those files, but was stopped each time.” Steve saw the worried expression on Shawn’s face and answered the question he hadn’t even asked yet.

“No, don’t worry, Shawn. They couldn’t find the source of the attempted breaches to their security. I made sure of that. The ISA must be on heightened alert since my cousin accessed their supposedly confidential case files.”

“How did things work out with your cousin? Did the ISA send agents?”

“Oh, yes. But everything went according to plan. They bought the cover story we provided him with. He keyed in the code words I gave him when doing a search for the agents to show them how he found the files. No charges were pressed. It’s just as we thought. They don’t want this information on any public record.”

“That’s good to hear, Steve. What does Andrew expect to gain by making a trip to ISA headquarters?”

“He’s telling them it’s just to visit with his dad. While he’s there he’s going to try and get into the personnel files or at the very least, find out when I can try again. I also asked him to try and capture an image of the corrupted hard drive that contains the files on where Belle was moved to after Lucerne.”

“Do you think that’s wise? What if he gets caught? How’s he going to explain what’s he doing? We can’t risk Shane and John finding out that we know the truth about Belle.”

“He told me that he would take absolutely no chances. If he wasn’t completely confident that he could get the information without being caught, he wasn’t going to attempt it.”

“That makes me feel a little better, Steve. Thanks. When is he returning to Spokane?”

“Within a week, Shawn. Until then there’s really nothing further I can do.”

“That seems to be the trend in the investigation into her beating as well. Things are pretty much on hold with that as well. Did Derek Lyttle of the CSI unit get in contact with you by any chance?”

“Yes, he did. I actually went over to the lab to see him. We brought the pictures over here as well to work on, but I couldn’t isolate that symbol enough to identify it either.”

“That’s too bad. I need to find out who those boots were custom made for. I believe that’s the only hope I have of solving this case.”

“I was actually doing some investigating into a new company I heard about. I’m just going to finish up an email to their programming department and see if they can give me more specifics. The preliminary information that they’ve released sounds very promising. I think it’s just the program your friend and colleague needs to isolate and identify that symbol. As soon as I hear back from them, I’ll contact him.”

“That’s great, Steve. I’ll let Derek know when I see him. I’m meeting him for lunch in,” as he glanced at his wrist-watch, “ten minutes. I better get moving. Can I tell him to call you for more information on this company and program?”

“That would be fine, Shawn. And I’ll call you as soon as I know exactly when Andrew is returning.”

“Thanks, Steve. See you later.”

Dr. Balfour’s Office

Lil entered with faltering footsteps. She still hadn’t gotten back into the natural rhythm of walking without being encased in a cast from hip to toes. Everything seemed strange. She had only managed to stutter a few words to the doctors. She was almost afraid to talk for fear that her jaw wouldn’t stay in place. The doctors had assured her that all her bones and internal injuries were completely healed. They had checked her injured eye and were very pleased with the progress. They had told her that they were completely confident that she would have no lasting effects from any of the injuries she had sustained during the beating.

Her plastic surgery to remove the scarring from her facial and orbital reconstructions was scheduled for the First of July. They had checked the scar low on her abdomen and said that it had healed nicely and in time wouldn’t be noticeable.

They had told her to start off with semi-solid food for the first little while until she felt completely confident that her jaw was healed. They also warned her that she might experience some discomfort but that would pass in time.

What about my memory? All my injuries may heal, but will my mind? I guess Dr. Balfour will help me with that.

Dr. Balfour watched the young woman enter her office hesitantly. She rose from behind her desk and went to greet her.

“Well, look at you, Lil. You look great. That ‘Phantom of the Opera’ type mask manages to make you look mysteriously beautiful. How do you feel now that you’re ambulatory and can speak?” She guided Lil to the couch in her office and sat next to her. She waited patiently for Lil to begin speaking.


“Oh, I’m sure you have a lot more to say, Lil. You do know that you’re not going to harm yourself by speaking. I’ve seen the medical reports and talked to your doctors. Your injuries are healed.”

“I…I…know. It’s just strange.”

“I’m sure it is. But, just think you can talk again. I would bet that you have a lot you want to say especially to a certain young, handsome detective.” Dr. Balfour couldn’t help but notice the blush that spread over the young woman’s face. This is more serious than I thought.

“Listen, Lil. I have some questions for you. Just take your time. Speak as slowly as you like.” She took Lil’s hand in hers and squeezed it encouragingly. She dropped her hand and stood and walked over to her desk. She leaned back against it and chose her next words very carefully. “How do you like living with Detective Brady.”

Lil could feel her blush deepen. “It’s okay, I guess. Dr. Balfour. He has a very beautiful home.”

Dr. Balfour wasn’t fooled by her nonchalant reply. “It’s just okay, Lil? Do you want me to find you other living arrangements?”

Lil’s head quickly snapped up. “No.”

“No. You mean you haven’t thought of moving out into a place of your own. Trying to find a job, being independent and not having to rely on anyone, leading a productive life. Doesn’t that appeal to you, Lil?”

“I…I…don’t have an identity. I don’t have any visible means of support. Who’s going to rent me a place to live? Who’s going to hire me? Where am I going to look for a job? I don’t even know what I’m qualified for. I don’t remember anything, Dr. Balfour. Besides, Shawn takes very good care of me and I’m comfortable with him.”

“There are ways around all of the questions you raised, Lil. Even Detective Brady can tell you that. It wouldn’t be easy, but it can be done. Is it that you don’t want to be separated from Detective Brady?”

“I don’t know why you keep asking me about Shawn. You sound like you don’t want me to live with him. You make it sound like you’re trying to warn me about him. Why don’t you just tell me what you really mean, Dr. Balfour?

“There’s only one thing I’m warning you about, Lil. You’re not being honest with me about how you really feel about living with Shawn Brady. I hope you’re not being as dishonest with yourself as you are being with me.”

“Is that your warning, Dr. Balfour? Being honest with you or with myself.”

“No, Lil. I want you to tell me how you really feel about living with Detective Brady and then I’ll share my warning with you.”

“I’m not sure I’m comfortable sharing my feelings with you, Dr. Balfour.”

“I can’t help you keep things in perspective if you don’t really talk to me, Lil. Do you want me to try and find another psychiatrist for you to work with? Someone that you would be more comfortable with?

“N…no, Dr. Balfour. I’ll be honest with you. How do I feel about living with Shawn?”

Dr. Balfour couldn’t help but notice that Lil sat up straighter nor did she fail to see the defiant look in her stormy blue eye. “I feel like I’m at home. I feel like I’m exactly where I should be. I feel like Shawn and I are meant to be together. I feel that I would be happy to spend the rest of my life there…with Shawn even if I never regained my memory. I’m where I want to be today and forever.”

The silence stretched between patient and doctor.

“Are you telling me that you are in love with this man?”

“What if I was, Dr. Balfour? Would that really be such a bad thing?” Lil fired back.

“If you think you are in love with him, then yes, that is a really bad thing.”


“Why? Because you don’t know anything about your life before that fateful day you ended up on that highway close to death. You might be married, have a family.”

“Uh, no.”

“How do you know that, Lil?”

“I guess you didn’t see all of my medical records, Dr. Balfour. I’m a virgin. I would say that pretty much rules out a husband and children waiting for me.”

“True, Lil. What about love? Being a virgin doesn’t rule out that you are in a love with another man.”

Lil became increasingly restless. Dr. Balfour picked up on that and immediately pressed the issue. “How do you know you’re not in love with another man?”

Lil hung her head. “I do remember that I was going to see the man I love. I’m so confused, Dr. Balfour. Every time I try to remember who that man is or what it felt like to be loved by him, the only man I think of is Shawn. And another thing, if I was in love with this man, why isn’t he looking for me?”

“Lil, I know you don’t want to hear this, but, I really feel it would be better for you to disassociate yourself from Detective Brady. Your feelings for him can prove very detrimental to your emotional wellbeing.”

Lil rose and looked Dr. Balfour straight in the eyes. “I won’t do that doctor. I want to be with Shawn.”

“If that is the case, I can only caution you once again. Do not confuse what you think is love with gratitude. You have a lot to be grateful for in regards to Detective Brady. He is truly an extraordinary man with a generous heart.”

“I know the difference between love and gratitude, Dr. Balfour. There is no need to warn me about confusing those two emotions.”

“I had a question for Detective Brady when I met with him and I have a question for you…”

“What question did you ask Shawn?” Lil interrupted.

“I can’t discuss that with you, Lil. Anything you and I talk about is privileged information, that goes for my conversations with Detective Brady as well.”

“I understand, Dr. Balfour. What did you want to ask me?”

“When you regain your memory, Lil, how are you going to explain Detective Brady to the man you really love?”

Chapter 27

June 8, 2010

Both Shawn and Lil were quiet and reflective as they drove towards the supermarket. They had just ended their joint session with Dr. Balfour. Both of them still resentful of the conversations that had occurred earlier with the doctor. The atmosphere had been very strained when they entered together. Neither of them had even been aware of the fact that they were holding hands until Dr. Balfour had pointedly looked at their joined hands.

Dr. Balfour had immediately put them both at ease by launching straight into what she felt would be the most beneficial in helping Lil to regain her memory. She told them to start doing ordinary everyday things like going shopping, going out to a movie, going for walks or bike rides, having a picnic, even taking steps to get Lil some type of temporary driving permit. She recommended that Shawn leave her behind at the cabin occasionally when he came into Spokane on business. She also thought it would be a good idea for Shawn to bring her into Spokane and drop her off at a mall, library or theatre and pick her up later. She stressed that Lil needed to regain her independence in the event that her memory didn’t return.

Shawn glanced over at Lil as he pulled into a parking spot. She had hardly spoken a word to him directly. She just spoke voicing her objection to appearing out in public with the half mask on her face. Dr. Balfour insisted that going about normal day to day living was critical to her memory returning.

He wished she would talk more. Hearing Belle’s voice after all these years was music to his ears. Granted, she had a more mature sound now, but he was sure it was her. He also wished she would take off the mask. Scars or not, he knew he would recognize her if he could see her face in its entirety. From what he could see, she certainly looked like Belle, but people could change so much in seven years, it was hard to be absolutely certain.

He wanted to gentle her fears. He shut the motor off and turned towards her. “I know this is going to be hard for you, Lil. But I will be right by your side, every step of the way. I promise.”

She turned towards him and Shawn ached to comfort her when he took in her tears and the quivering of her lips. She was struggling not to cry.

He took her hand in his hand and caressed her face, wiping away the tear that hung on her eyelash with his thumb. “Each time it will get easier for you, Lil. Just focus on me. We can’t control how people will react when they see you, but we can definitely control what we do. We’ll just go about our business of getting groceries. Remember what Dr. Balfour said. Go down each aisle and don’t fight any natural inclination to pick up something and put it in the cart. These are probably items your subconscious knows you like. This could be fun, Lil. I hope you’re not one of those people that like strange combinations of food like ketchup on mashed potatoes, or cheese, jam and banana sandwiches.”

She giggled.

Shawn’s heart swelled. It had been so long since he had heard that delightful sound.

“What are you going to do if I do like to put ketchup on my mashed potatoes?” she asked between her giggles.

“Well, I just might have to banish you from the dining room. You’ll have to sit at the breakfast bar in solitude.”

“I love the breakfast bar and so do you. We’ve been having most of our meals there, silly. You’d be banishing yourself, not me.”

“True. I guess I’ll just have to learn to put up with it,” he laughed.

Her mood immediately changed from light-hearted to solemn. Shawn could barely hear her whispered question, “Why?”

“Why, what, Lil?”

“Why would put up with it? Why are you doing this for me, Shawn?”

He thought long and hard before answering her question. He wished he could tell her the real reason behind his actions but Dr. Balfour’s warning had been loud and clear. “Lil, look at me, please.”

Lil raised her eyes.

“I’m doing this because I want to.”

She heard the sincerity in his voice but she also noted the incompleteness of his answer. He had a lot more to say, but he was holding back. Why?

“That’s not really a complete answer, Shawn. I’m not going to push you for the real reason. This isn’t the time or the place.” She took a deep breath and turned, opened the door and slid out onto the pavement. “Let’s go and get those groceries.”

Shawn breathed a sigh of relief and followed her out of the vehicle. He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her close to him.

They were almost done going down each aisle of the supermarket. Shawn had placed most of the items into the cart, however, Lil had added a few. Shawn noted the items with interest. She had primarily selected fresh greens and fresh vegetables. She also had a penchant for fruit. He had to stop himself from saying anything when she threw in a quart of mint chocolate chip ice cream. He remembered the times he had shared that special treat with Belle. They were wandering down the aisle where the snack foods and sodas were shelved. She lingered a moment by the bottled water selection.

“Did you want some bottled water, Lil?” he asked.

“I know you have the water dispenser at the cabin, but I was wondering if we could buy some bottles to take when we go biking and out for a walk?”

“You don’t have to ask, Lil. Just pick out whatever brand you want.”

She pointed to a case of twenty-four. “Could you stack two cases of those on the bottom of the cart, please?”

“Oh, I get it, you just need me for my muscles, huh?” Shawn teased as he reached for the cases.

He almost dropped the cases when she answered huskily, “Yes, I need you.”

Before Shawn could control his breathing to respond a little girl of about five or six broke free from her mother’s grasp and ran towards Lil.

She was a blur of colours and pigtails as she came streaking down the aisle. She skidded to a stop in front of a very startled Lil.

Shawn dimly heard the exasperated voice of the mother, “Becca, get back here, now

Becca was not paying the least bit of attention to her harried mother as she tugged at Lil’s shirt. “Hey, lady. How come you’re wearing a mask? It’s not Halloween.”

Lil heard the sharp intake of Shawn’s breath as he stepped closer to her. She placed a hand on his chest and gave him a quick look that warned him to stop. She crouched down so she was at the same level as the little girl. “I was in an accident and my face was hurt really badly. The nice doctors fixed me up but I haven’t healed yet, so they gave me this mask to wear to cover up the cuts.”

“Does it hurt?”

“It did. It’s not so bad anymore. Before to long, I’ll be all better and then I won’t have to wear the mask at all.”

“You’re so lucky you can wear a mask anytime you want. Mommy only lets me wear one at Halloween and only when she can walk with me and hold my hand.”

“Rebecca Joanne, stop bothering the nice lady and come along,” the frustrated mother took her child’s hand and started moving forward.

“She wasn’t bothering me,” Lil replied. “Bye, Becca. You stay close to your mommy, okay?”

Shawn was so proud of her. He reached and wrapped his arm around her shoulder and began to push the cart towards the checkout. He had to force himself to keep walking when he felt her place her arm around his waist and slide her hand into the back pocket of his jeans.

June 12, 2010 The Cabin 10am

Lil watched as Shawn drove down the driveway and returned his wave before heading back into the cabin. It had taken her almost an hour to convince him that she would be perfectly fine on her own for the day.

Shawn was needed at the precinct for several hours. He had a case file to review and a meeting with an Assistant District Attorney scheduled for the afternoon. Shawn was scheduled to testify on the sixteenth. He hadn’t said much about the case, just that it concerned an armed robbery and he was the arresting officer.

It was a gloomy day. Rain clouds threatened. Just the perfect day to curl up with a good book. She poured herself a coffee and headed up towards the den. She scanned the bookshelves and finally decided on a mystery novel. The book lay unopened on her lap as she sipped her coffee and watched the ever moving, ever-changing clouds chasing across the sky.

She had thought it would be awkward actually sharing a conversation with Shawn. Far from it. They had talked for hours on end. She had asked numerous questions about the pictures of his family that Shawn had set out throughout his home. She had learned that he came from a large family. Both of his parents came from large families, the Brady’s on his dad’s side and the Horton’s on his mother’s side. She learned about his brother, Zach and his ‘other’ brother as he referred to J.T. or John Thomas.

She frowned when she recalled the complex explanation of how J.T. and Zach had been switched at birth. The Brady’s had actually raised J.T. for two years before losing him to the biological father. Shawn had glossed over a paternity issue regarding his brother. He had said it was much too complicated to go into, but apparently at one time it was thought that a friend of the family had actually fathered his brother. He had said it wasn’t really adultery because both his mother’s and this man’s minds were being controlled by this monster who had a vendetta against the Brady family.

Her frown deepened as she remembered how agitated Shawn had become when talking about the paternity. He had said it had been such a shock to find out that the father of his girlfriend, not just his girlfriend he had stressed, but his best friend, had fathered his brother. When she had tried to question him more, he had quickly ended the discussion saying that as things turned out his father was also Zach’s father.

She thought back over the past few days. They had been out biking and hiking. He had even taken her out on a canoe. They had laughed, teased, shared enjoyable silences and spent just about every waking moment together. They had taken a picnic basket with them on their biking trip. It had been a perfect day and Shawn had picked the perfect spot for their picnic. He had spread the blanket beneath the shade of a huge old tree by the lake. After they had eaten their lunch, he had sat back against the tree and pulled her into the space between his outstretched legs.

She remembered how it felt to lean back against him, his arms wrapped tightly around her waist, her head resting on his shoulder. She must have drifted off to sleep because the next thing she remembered was Shawn whispering in her ear calling her sleepyhead.

She felt that familiar feeling of desire overwhelm her again as she recalled how his hold had tightened when she had groaned slightly and pressed herself closer against him and turned into to him so that her lips brushed against his neck. He told her in a very husky voice that they should be heading back and she thought she felt him kiss the top of her head. She could have imagined that but she knew she hadn’t imagined the heat of his arousal against her backside.

Why is he holding back? I can’t be wrong. I sense that he wants me as much as I want him. He’s just as restless as I am every night. God, I miss sleeping in his bed. I miss waking up close to him with his arms wrapped around me and mine around him.

She threw the book on the couch and headed down the stairs. She had made a decision. If he won’t make the first move, I will.

Chapter 28

June 12, 2010 6pm

Shawn cursed silently as he got into his SUV. Lord, please save me from airhead ADA’s and god help the poor citizens of Spokane. He sat in his vehicle with his head cradled on his arms that rested on the top of the steering wheel. He was trying to figure out how Morgan McCord had ever passed the bar, let alone been hired by the District Attorney’s office. She must have very powerful connections.

He had thought that his meeting with her would last less than an hour. All they had to do was go quickly over his case notes to make sure that all the bases were covered. Shawn hadn’t been worried. He was very careful to make sure he did everything by the book, the last thing he wanted was for a criminal to go free on a technicality. Instead of a short meeting, Ms. McCord had subjected him to a mock trial. For god sakes, she had made him go down to the court house, into an empty court and subjected him to both her questions and then what she thought the cross-examination would be like.

Then to top it off, he had lost patience with her and answered one of the supposed defence attorney’s questions sarcastically. He had been made to listen to a fifteen minute lecture on the importance of appearance and decorum to a jury. Idiot! He knew his job, which was more than he could say for her. Needless to say, things had gone from bad to worse from that point forward.

Shawn shuddered slightly as he recalled his bitter response to the woman’s lecture. “While we’re on the subject of appearance and decorum, might I suggest that you wear something slightly more appropriate during the actual trial. I don’t think the high priced hooker look really does anything to instil confidence in a jury. Another thing, you might want to skip the perfume, or at least just use a small dab of it, instead of pouring the whole bottle on yourself.”

Well, those little ‘constructive criticism’ remarks had earned him a slap across the face. It was all he could to do to refrain from arresting her and charging her with assaulting a police officer. He thought better of it. That would mean spending more time in her presence and the scent of that overpowering perfume was making him feel slightly nauseous.

He had left the courthouse with a pounding headache. He had stood on the courthouse steps for several minutes, just taking in deep, breaths of fresh air. The rain was tapering off to a mild sprinkle as he headed back to the station. Just one quick call to Derek and then he could go home to Belle.

Unfortunately, Ms. McCord had talked to her superior and her superior had talked to Shawn’s Captain. Shawn had to listen to yet another lecture from Captain Morley. Shawn had given his side of the story and Captain Morley had agreed with him, but reminded him that he should have been the ‘bigger man’ and let it slide. After all this was ADA McCord’s first trial and she was possibly just a touch over-eager. Shawn had remembered the disapproving look the Captain had shot him when he had snorted out his reply, “You think.”

He sighed loudly, and tried to rub the tension spot out of the back of his neck but was unsuccessful. He fired up the motor and headed home.

The Cabin 7pm

Shawn had felt the layers of tension lifting the closer he got to Belle. Damn, Lil. Lil. Lil, can’t keep calling her Belle in my mind or I’m going to slip up one day. He parked his vehicle in the garage and entered the kitchen through the connecting door.

“Lil. I’m home.” He stopped dead in his tracks. This is how it should be. This is how I always dreamed it would be. Coming home to Belle.

“Lil?” he called again.

“Up here, Shawn.”

He followed her voice and took the steps two at a time in his rush to see her. “Where are you?” as he looked into the den and noticed she wasn’t there.

“I’m out here on the west deck, Shawn.”

He walked quickly towards her but his steps slowed as he took in the scene before him. She only had two torches lit, but the patio table held several burning candles and a centerpiece of wildflowers. She had the table laid for two, using his good china and crystal, including the linen placemats and napkins. His gaze moved from the table to her and he swallowed hard. She was wearing her hair down and it cascaded in soft curls down past her shoulders. The glow from the candles picked up the sun-kissed highlights in her hair and when she moved, Shawn could have sworn her hair sparkled. The flame of the candle was reflected in her clear blue glaze that held promises of the fire within. Shawn could barely breathe as his gaze travelled over her body. She wore a cream coloured sun dress covered in pale blue flowers. It had an elasticized bodice, a fitted waist and draped down in soft folds over her hips. He watched the sway of those hips and the movement of the skirt of the dress as she moved towards him.

His eyes quickly focused on her when she came to a stop in front of him and rested her hands on his chest.

“Hi, Shawn. I thought it would be nice to sit out here and have our supper. I’ve been inside most of the day because of the rain. Is that okay with you?”

Shawn just stared at her hands as she let them slide up his chest to his tie. He couldn’t seem to speak past the lump in throat.

“Why don’t you go and change into something a little more comfortable, Shawn? I’m sure you’d like to get out of this suit.” He noticed her nose crinkle in disgust. “My goodness, Shawn. What is that awful smell?”

“Uh, I, uh…oh…the smell. Perfume. I’ll go for a quick shower and change.”

She watched him beat a hasty retreat with a leaden heart. He’s been with a woman. She almost decided to put a halt to her plans. She walked to her bedroom dejectedly. Half way there, she stopped and turned and headed back out on to the deck. I may not know who I am, but somehow I know I’m not a quitter. I want Shawn and I know he wants me, even if he won’t admit it to himself. I just have to show him that I’m the only woman he needs.

Shawn felt the sting of the cold water from the shower hit him. What the hell just happened back there? If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Lil is setting the perfect seduction scene. Oh shit, I’m a goner. If she wants me, how in heaven am I going to resist? Do I want to?

He replayed the scene over in his mind and as he was stepping out of the shower he realized that she probably got the idea he had been with a woman after his dumb ass perfume remark. He quickly towelled off and as he pulled on a pair of khakis and a golf shirt, his mind was racing, trying to figure out what Lil’s next move was going to be and what his should be.

He knew what he had to do first, clear up any false impression she had that he had spent part of the day in another woman’s bed.

“Lil, I just wanted to explain about the perfume.”

“Shawn, you don’t have to, what you do with your time is really none of my business.”

He reached for hand and turned her towards him. “But I want to tell you, Lil.”

She braced herself for the hurt she knew would follow. Why does he want to tell me about another woman? Does he want to make it clear to me that he’s off limits or just that he’s never going to settle with one woman? She listened intently as he told her the story of what had transpired in his meeting with the ADA.

Her heart was singing as she led him to the chair. “I’ve poured you some wine. Sit down and relax and I’ll go and get our supper.”

They enjoyed the meal Lil had prepared. They talked and laughed and Shawn fell deeper and deeper under her spell. The play of the candlelight on her bare shoulders, the scent of her delicate fragrance, the movement of her hair against those bare shoulders, the brush of her fingers against his as she passed him the food, kept him in a state of barely banked arousal.

After they had cleared off the table and taken everything inside and downstairs into the kitchen, Shawn turned to her to say goodnight.

“Thanks for the supper, Lil. It was great.”

“It was nothing, Shawn. I owe you so much, it was the least I could do.”

Shawn took her into his arms. “I don’t want to hear you say that again, Lil.” He held her by the shoulders and looked at her. “You don’t owe me anything. Is that understood?”

A small smile played across her lips as she tried to match his serious tone, “Yes, sir, Detective Brady, sir.”

He laughed and then she really did smile. Even with that half mask on, he could feel the force of that smile right down to the tips of his toes.

“Shawn, why don’t you go light a fire upstairs and I’ll bring up coffee and dessert?”

Oh-oh. “It’s been a long day, are you sure you don’t want to just call it a night? We have a big day tomorrow. I have to take you into Spokane and drop you off on your own for the afternoon.”

“I’m a little chilled from the cool night air. I’d really like to sit by a nice cozy fire for awhile. Besides, I know you have a notorious sweet tooth and I’ve prepared a special dessert for you,” she teased.

“If it’s a fire you want, it’s a fire you’ll get.”

Oh, I want fire alright, Shawn. “I’ll put the coffee on and come up when it’s ready.”

Shawn turned towards her as he heard her coming towards him. He quickly reached for the tray that held two cups, a carafe and a plate containing an interesting looking confection. “What’s this, only one dessert?”

“I’m pretty full, Shawn. I thought we could share.” Thank goodness, he hasn’t noticed I only placed one dessert spoon on the dish.

He moved to place the tray on the coffee table in front of the sofa that faced the ‘wall of glass’ as she affectionately referred to the windows.

“No, Shawn. I’d like to sit close to the fire. Why don’t you place the tray on this table?”

He set the tray down on the table next to an overstuffed arm chair that faced the fireplace. “I’ll just pull up another chair, one sec.”

“There’s no need, Shawn. This chair looks like its big enough to hold the both of us.”

“Uh, sure, I guess so,” he muttered.

“Sit down and I’ll pour our coffees.”

She poured the coffee and handed him his cup as she squeezed herself in beside him. He sat stiffly, holding his cup in both hands, staring straight ahead at the fire.

“I think we would both be a little more comfortable, Shawn, if you would loosen your death grip on that poor coffee cup and put one arm around me,” she spoke softly and in a teasing fashion.

Shawn glanced down quickly at her upturned face. Comfortable, I don’t think so. He caught the impish glint in her eye and knew he was being challenged. The question was, was he up to the challenge? Two can play at this game. Let’s see exactly what she’s up to.

He lifted his arm and she moved forward slightly so that he could place his around her. She leaned into him and innocently sipped at her hot coffee. Shawn followed suit and a companionable silence fell over them.

“I guess that interesting looking dessert is just going to go to waste,” Shawn finally broke the silence. “Both my hands are occupied, coffee cup in one, you in the other, table on your side. Maybe if you describe it to me, I can imagine the taste.”

“Oh, I can do better than that, Shawn,” she said huskily.

That’s one for you, Lil. Much more of that voice and I’m not going to be able to swallow. He watched through hooded eyes as she set her coffee cup down and picked up the plate. She turned towards him, with a big grin on her face, as she cut into the square and brought up the spoon to his mouth.

Damn, that’s two. As he watched the tip of her delicate, pink tongue moisten her lips as he took the spoon into his mouth. I better get into this game and quickly. He held her gaze as he made a point of running his tongue over the spoon to make sure he had removed all trace of the confection that was made up of a combination of graham wafer crumbs, cherries, whipped cream and pecans. He let his hand caress her bare shoulder and then moved his fingers downward so they played with the eyelet lace that accessorized the elasticized bodice of her dress. Score one for me as he heard the quick intake of her breath.

She gave him a few more spoonfuls, her gaze never leaving his mouth. Damn, stop staring at my mouth like that. He shifted, trying to alleviate the pressure brought on by his ever hardening arousal. He caught the little smirk on her face as she put the plate down to take a sip of her coffee. That little vixen knows exactly what she’s doing to me. And she’s up three to one. This has to change.

“Aren’t you going to at least have a taste?” he asked .

“A taste?” She looked at his mouth and then into his eyes.

They stared back blankly at her. “Yeah, a taste of that delicious dessert you whipped up.”

“Oh. Yeah. Sure.”

One more for me, now to even the score. As she was putting the spoon into her mouth, Shawn let his fingers wander down the front of her dress just low enough to caress the top of her breast. He laughed inwardly, as she swallowed quickly and set the plate down with shaky hands.

“Lil, can you set my cup down and pass me a napkin please.”

Shawn was surprised when she stood up, leaned over, placed her hands on his shoulders and straddled him.

“Wha…what are you doing, Lil?” he asked in a barely audible voice.

“I just don’t want to see any of that dessert go to waste. Let me be your napkin?”

He saw the look of challenge that was back in her eye but decided it was time to end the game, for his own sanity as well as hers. This was moving way too fast and all Dr. Balfour’s warnings were ringing in his ears.

“I think you should just pass me a napkin, Lil.”

“Why, Shawn Douglas Brady, you’re a wuss! I would never have believed it.”

I’ve never told her my middle name. Is she starting to remember? He had to focus on the situation at hand, which was to let her down easy. “I’m not a wuss,” trying to muster up disdain, “I just want to use a napkin. Do you have a problem with that?” He reached for the napkins that were folded on the tray.

She grabbed his hand before he could reach his target and placed it around her waist. “Actually, I do have a problem with that, Shawn.”

Shit, she’s going for game, set and match!

She lowered her mouth and just when he thought she was going to kiss him, she flicked her tongue and licked some crumbs from the corner of his mouth. He swallowed hard as he felt her tongue, trace the top of his lip. He could actually taste her breath and couldn’t stop himself from moaning softly.

This has got to end. If I don’t feel her lips on mine, I think I’ll stop breathing.

Lil was shocked when Shawn tightened his grip around her waist and rolled her off him unto the chair. She watched warily as he stood up and placed his coffee cup on to the tray. She tried to sit up from the half prone position she had ended up in when Shawn knelt on the floor between her legs.

“Oh, no you don’t, Lil.” He held her in place as he lowered his lips to hers. “My turn now.”

She parted her lips to protest, giving him just the opening he had been looking for. He took her top lip into his mouth and gently suckled it before releasing it. “Whipped cream, hmm, good.” She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck bringing herself closer to him. That was all the invitation he needed as he claimed her lips with his own.

He fought to keep the kiss gentle and sweet. He couldn’t really kiss her the way he would like to because the mask was a hindrance. Her lips melded to his, her fingers slid up into his hair as she tried to deepen the kiss. Shawn almost lost it when he felt the tip of her tongue probing for entrance into his mouth. Instead, with a deep sigh, he pulled back and then gave her one quick, light kiss before he let her go.

He almost changed his mind when he looked back at her and noticed her eyes still closed and her lips parted in open invitation.

“It’s getting late, Lil. I’ll take the tray down and clean up. Why don’t you head off to bed?”

He could see that she was hurt and confused because he had pulled away from her. He had to make it right. He pulled her up from the chair and held her close.

She pulled back and looked at him. “Why did you stop, Shawn?”

“Believe me, Lil, I didn’t really want to stop. I just think things are moving too quickly. I want to do it right.”

“Quickly? Right? I don’t know what you mean.”

“Lil, we don’t really know one another. I think we should do this the old-fashioned way,” he tried to explain.

“The old-fashioned way?”

“Yes. Let’s go out on dates like a normal couple just getting to know one another. I know that we’re not exactly normal, at least the situation we’re in, isn’t normal, but I’d like to give it a try. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want you to be sure that you have genuine feelings for me before we take this any further.”

“Dr. Balfour’s been talking to you about her ‘transference’ theory, right?”

“Yes, she did. I can see her point. I just want you to be sure that you have real feelings for me. So what do you say, will you go out on a date with me?”

“Sure, when?”

“Tomorrow evening. I’ll pick you up from your outing at the mall, we’ll go for a quick bite to eat and then take in a movie. Agreed?”


Shawn had the tray in his hands and was heading to the stairs when she called out to him.

“Shawn, you’re worried about transference, what am I supposed to worry about? Is there a reason that any feeling you have for me, for Lil, might not be genuine

Chapter 29

June 13, 2010 Spokane International Airport 10am

Shawn glanced over at Lil who was seated across from him in the airport lounge as they awaited Andrew’s arrival. Her face still bore the same stoic expression that he had been treated to all morning at the cabin and the drive into Spokane. Her unanswered question from the night before hung over them like the proverbial black cloud. How could he answer her question truthfully without telling her that he thought he knew her identity? How could he possibly explain the feelings he had for her when these feelings were directed at Belle and not ‘Lil’. This is so messed up. When I see Dr. Balfour today, I’m going to have to set her straight about how things are going to be from this point forward.

“Would you like a cup of coffee, Lil? Andrew’s plane is due in about now but he’ll have to claim his luggage and clear Customs. He’ll be a while yet.”

“No,” she replied curtly and than added as an afterthought, “thank you.”

Why did he ignore my question last night? What is he keeping from me? I’m sure Dr. Balfour knows. She keeps dropping these not so subtle hints but never really tells me anything. That is going to have change today.

Andrew kept up a steady stream of conversation as they travelled to the hospital. He regaled the both of them with stories of his exaggerated prowess on the ski slopes in Switzerland. Shawn was happy that Andrew managed to get Lil to smile and actually giggle.

Andrew had teased Lil mercilessly when he found out all the department store bags in the back were items of clothing that she was returning. In one of the few conversations she had with Shawn that morning, she had asked to be dropped off at the mall where the nurse had purchased the clothing for her. She made it very clear that she was grateful to both Shawn for paying for the purchases and for the nurse to take the time to shop for her. However, she felt that she had purchased far too many outfits and most of what she had purchased was not really her style. Of course, Andrew had said she was a typical female, women would find any excuse to shop.

At least Andrew’s remarks had gotten a far better reception than his ill-chosen words. When she had told him about the clothing, he had jokily said, ‘You don’t know who you are, how can you possibly know that these clothes aren’t you’re style?’ As soon as the words had left his mouth, he knew that he had made a mistake. To ask a stupid question like that considering he hadn’t been able to come up with any words to answer her last night was unconscionable. He had immediately tried to make light of it, but she wasn’t buying it and he really couldn’t blame her. He had to make things right with her, the sooner, the better.

Sacred Heart Medical Centre Computer Room

Shawn had left Lil at Dr. Balfour’s office. He had told her that he would be there to drive her to the mall when her session was over.

“Hi, Steve. Whatever you do, don’t let Andrew get started on his skiing stories. I’ve already heard them, and trust me, you won’t be missing anything.” Shawn walked over and shook Steve’s hand. “Before Andrew fills us in, I was wondering if you had heard back from the company you were contacting about the photo…”

“Sorry to interrupt, Shawn, but what are you talking about?” Andrew looked from Steve to Shawn for answers.

“The photo of the heel print. I heard about a company that was trialing some software that might be able to isolate that symbol on the print, Andrew.” Steve replied. “They’re still in the testing phase but they are willing to see what they can do. Derek downloaded the pictures on to a CD and sent along a set of negatives. He couriered them yesterday.”

“How long before we hear back from them, Steve?” Shawn asked.

“They should receive the package today or tomorrow at the latest. The head of their software development department said that because they are still in the testing phase, it would be four to six weeks before they would give us a conclusive answer.”

“Damn, I was hoping that they would be able to tell us right after they looked at it.” Shawn shrugged his shoulders. “We’ve waited this long, I guess, we’ll just have to be patient a while longer. Short of Lil regaining her memory and being able to ID her assailants, this is my best shot at being able to solve this case.”

“Do you think she’s going to be able to shed some light on who did this to her when she remembers, Shawn?”

“To be honest, Andrew, no. The only memories she does have are of that night and from what she told me, she didn’t see her attackers at all. They came at her from behind, blindfolded, gagged and bound her.”

“Hopefully this company’s new technology will be able to pinpoint that symbol, Shawn. I know how important this case is to you.” And the reasons why.

“I think it’s time you gave us a rundown of what you learned while you were in Switzerland and in England.”

“While in Switzerland I learned that Belle practically lived like a hermit. Her neighbours were quite willing to talk about l’enfant pauvre, the ‘poor child’ who had lost her entire family in a horrible automobile accident in France. They said she kept to herself, surmising that she needed time to heal. She rarely went out in public. Apparently when she did, she was overwhelmed by attention from young men and those not quite so young who should have known better. Oh, yes, Shawn, I got to hear it all. People really like to congregate at the local pub and share their stories, especially when someone is picking up the tab.”

“Does anyone know where she went, where she moved to?”

“No. In fact, it’s the great mystery of the neighbourhood. One day she was there, the next morning, the house was empty and abandoned.”

“Another dead-end.”

Andrew noticed how dejected Shawn was and he couldn’t help but wonder if something had gone down between Lil and him that could be the reason for Shawn’s mood. Something had happened, he could feel the tension between them on the drive to the hospital.

“Yes, Shawn, another dead-end. But look how much you’ve accomplished in the past few weeks. You’ve proved that Belle didn’t commit suicide. You’ve proved your theory about the ISA changing her identity. Cheer up, cuz.”

“I need to prove that Lil is Belle, Andrew. It would be a lot easier if I knew where Belle was currently living and under what alias.”

“Shawn, I don’t want to appear like I’m prying, but what happened between you and Lil? I swear that old saying ‘the tension was so thick, you could cut it with a knife’ was certainly true this morning.”

“That’s between Lil and me, Andrew. Sorry, Steve. We’re not ignoring you, I’m just as anxious as you must be to see if Andrew was able to get his hands on that damaged hard drive.”

Andrew felt both sets of eyes pinned on him. “No. But I have great news, all is not lost. I happened to see a top secret directive from the Tech Support area. All ISA system security will be shut down for a brief window of time at exactly 01:37 hours on July twentieth. I just had a chance to scan the memo over my dad’s shoulder before he knew I was there. Apparently they’re upgrading the security once again and the new program and the old one can’t co-exist.”

“Did you notice their estimated down time, Andrew?” Steve asked excitedly.

“For a period of three to five minutes only, Steve. Is that enough time for you to get a mirror image of the corrupted hard drive and get into the personnel files?”

“If you can be here with me, Andrew, I can get it done. You’ll have to retrieve the personnel files while I go after the other files.”

“Not a problem, Steve. You can count on me. I’m anxious to look at those personnel files. I don’t know what made me uneasy when I read the list of names of the operatives that abducted Belle from NYU, but I still have that same feeling.”

“I have something else that you can work on Andrew in the meantime.” Shawn reached into his briefcase and pulled out a brown envelope and handed it to Andrew. “Here’s a picture I have of Belle that was taken in September of 2002. Could you use the program that’s used on developing ‘aged’ pictures of missing children? Could you come up with a picture of what Belle might look like now?”

“Good idea, Shawn. Steve and I will both work on this.”

“Great. After Lil’s healed from her plastic surgery, we’ll take a picture of her and then we can compare all three photos.”

“Three, Shawn?”

“Yes, the one the ‘aging’ program produces, the one of Lil after surgery and the one that the research team produced, you remember, the one Lil wouldn’t let us see. I would lay odds that all three of these photos are going to be remarkably similar.”

“I sincerely hope, for your sake, Shawn, that they are.” Andrew said under his breath.

Dr. Balfour’s office

“Do you want to tell me what the problem is, Lil, or am I supposed to guess?” Dr. Balfour sat patiently waiting for a response. When all Lil did was stare back at her, Dr. Balfour decided to try a new tactic.

“You’ve been sitting on the couch for the past ten minutes and you haven’t said a word. I take it that you’re not happy living with Detective Brady but you’re afraid to admit that I was right.”

“I love living with Shawn. I don’t want to live anywhere else.”

“Then perhaps you’d care to share with me the reason that you’re so upset. What did Shawn do to you?”

Lil just stared back at her. Dr. Balfour felt for a second that she was the patient and Lil the doctor. “I’m beginning to be worried about you, Lil. Did Shawn push you into doing something that you weren’t ready for? You can tell me, don’t be afraid.”

Lil jumped to her feet and crossed the room to stand in front of Dr. Balfour. Dr. Balfour leaned back in her chair when Lil grabbed on to the arms and leaned over her.

Lil was furious. Enough was enough. She was going to set Dr. Balfour straight about a few things. “I want you to listen very carefully to what I have to say, Dr. Balfour. Do you understand?”

Dr. Balfour nodded and Lil released her grip on the arms of the chair and stood up straight. “Shawn would never, I repeat never, push me into doing anything I didn’t want to do or wasn’t ready for. I don’t want to hear you accuse him of something like that ever again.”

“I understand, Lil.”

“I hope so, Dr. Balfour. Truth be told, I would like him to take things further than he has, but he’s being the perfect gentleman. He wants to take things slow.”

“I think Detective Brady is being very sensible,” Dr. Balfour stated warily.

“Oh, yes, you would think that. You’re ‘transference theory’ weighs very heavily on his mind.”

“You would be wise, Lil, if you gave it as much weight as Detective Brady apparently does. You need to be sure of your true feelings for him and his for you.”

“There you go again, Dr. Balfour. What is it that neither Shawn nor you are telling me? I’m tired of these vague references from you and I’m tired of trying to figure out what Shawn isn’t saying. You and Shawn know something about me yet neither of you are telling me what it is. Why?”

“I want to assure you, Lil that Detective Brady and I are not conspiring against you. It’s my opinion you’re being overly sensitive. You’re living in a state of almost suspended animation, for lack of a better description. You don’t know who you are or anything about your life prior to the night you were brought to the hospital. Prior to the night you met Detective Brady for the first time.”

“I’m not so sure about that anymore, Dr. Balfour.”

“What aren’t you sure about, Lil. Could you be a little more specific.”

“I’m not sure I want to tell you, Dr. Balfour. I don’t want to listen to another lecture from you. This is something I feel very strongly about. I don’t, of course, have any way to prove it, but I feel it.

Dr. Balfour noticed Lil’s defiant gaze. “I need you to tell me, Lil. I really can’t help you if you don’t tell me everything you feel and think about.”

Lil glanced down at her wristwatch and headed towards the door. When she had the doorknob in hand, she turned back to Dr. Balfour. “I’m not so sure that the night I ended up in the hospital is the night I met Detective Brady. In fact, more and more, I’m coming to believe that he’s the man I was going to see. The man I love.”
Last edited by Mrs.B. on November 6th, 2004, 2:18 am, edited 1 time in total.