In a Family Way, Ch.11August 13 2006 at 11:00 PM
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Panicked, Shawn burst clumsily out of the church. He scanned the crowd of incoming church-goers for his wife.
“Hey Aunt Maggie! Good to see you Uncle Mickey! Listen, I’ve got to, oh, hey, look, I’ll see you in the church,” Shawn rushed through greeting his great-aunt and uncle when he spotted Belle leaning against a stone wall. Her posture was hunched, and she was running a hand through her carefully blow-dried blond locks. Shawn stared at her for a minute. She looked so upset standing there in her pretty floral pink skirt and white twin-set. Shawn felt the same way he always felt when Belle was unhappy – he would stop at nothing to make things better for her, and he wouldn’t feel like he could breath until he had done so. But this time, well, Shawn had an inkling what was upsetting her, and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it. He swallowed hard.
Belle looked up to find her husband standing, watching her. She could see her own pain mirrored in his eyes.
“Shawn,” she whispered, her eyes wide as saucers. He was over to her in a flash, his arms wrapped tightly around her back, his hands wandering now and then to her hair. Belle wriggled away briefly to look him in the eyes. She didn’t say anything. Neither did he. They didn’t need to. They had been able to talk like this, with their eyes, for as long as they could both remember. Shawn knew why Belle left the church, and Belle knew that Shawn understood, and felt just as helpless as she did.
“Hey, we’re gonna be okay, baby. We’re doing the right thing here,” Belle whispered, as she nestled her face into Shawn’s chest. She pulled herself as close to his strong, warm body as she possibly could. Shawn was her oxygen – just breathing him in made everything better, even when she was feeling so helpless. Her hand wandered down to his waistband, as she moved to un-tuck Shawn’s crisp white shirt from his navy slacks. She was reaching to put her hand on his bare stomach – that spot on Shawn that always made her feel so connected to him and so safe.
“Baby, we’re at church,” Shawn whispered, a little too loudly. He knew what Belle was reaching for; he knew how comforted she was by touching his stomach. But he also knew that Belle sometimes accidentally started something that well, was hardly a fit activity for church.
“Yes, you’re at a church all right! Brady, try to keep your hands off the little lady for just a minute, for God’s sake!” Shawn’s cousin Lucas smacked him hard on the back as he walked by, their great-grandmother escorted on his arm.
“Lucas Roberts, you would do well to find a love half as strong as theirs,” Alice Horton scolded her grand-son.
Belle blushed, but moved in quickly to hug Gran while Shawn hastily tucked in his shirt.
“Gran! It’s so good to see you!” she said, sincerely.
“The pleasure’s all mine. Nothing brightens my morning like the sight of true love in the house of God. That, Lucas, is the meaning of life, and you ought to remember that,” she said, pulling Shawn in for an embrace.
“Where are the little guys?” Lucas asked as he hugged Belle, trying to ignore thoughts of his dismal love life.
“Oh, they’re at my parents,” Belle said.
“Well, I hope you’ll bring them by for Sunday supper. It’s Jennifer’s turn to cook, and we’re serving at my house,” Alice said.
“Oh, we’d love to—“ Belle started.
“But what about lunch with your parents and Brady and Chloe and Clay?” Shawn asked.
Belle frowned, only to be interrupted by Mrs. Horton. “Bring the whole clan! The more the merrier! I made a batch of my donuts last night.” Shawn’s whole face lit up at the thought of his gran’s home-made donuts. Belle reached up and kissed him lightly on the cheek, unable to resist his childlike excitement over donuts. “Thank you, that would be wonderful,” Belle told Gran. Shawn reached his arm around his wife and pulled her in closer.
“Well, we should get going,” Lucas let out his elbow for his grandmother, and looked painfully away from Shawn and Belle’s affection for each other.
“We’ll be right in, Gran, we should just call Belle’s parents before we accept an invitation for them,” he said, even though he suspected that the Blacks had planned more on reservations at Chez Rouge than on a home cooked meal. He was always teasing Belle that she was a genetic mutation – no one else in her family could so much as boil water!
“Oh, Shawn, I love Sunday supper with the family!” Belle glowed, as she reached into her black, nylon Kate Spade bag to pull out her cell phone.
“I know, Belle, me too. We’re gonna be good today, this is gonna be real good,” Shawn whispered, as he tugged Belle out of the path and reached his arms around her from behind. Belle relaxed against his body, and reached behind her to kiss his jaw while she waited for her Mum to pick up.
“I love you so much, baby,” Belle whispered to him, still waiting.
“I love you too. I believe in us, Belle, and we both know that’s what counts,” Shawn whispered, tightening his grip on her waist while Belle began chatting Mimi-speed with her mother.