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Home - Chapter Six

September 9 2006 at 11:27 PM
Sterling  (Login Sterling1106)
from IP address 24.52.3.238

 
“I ca…,” Belle barely managed to squeak out. Her hands began to shake, and she instinctively flexed them and made quick fists to try and ease the trembling. She took a deep breath and swallowed against a wave of nausea.

“You all right, Belle?” Mimi asked as she leaned in again toward her friend, clearly concerned. Her features softened as she watched Belle’s reaction. “It’s him, isn’t it?” She reached out to touch Belle’s hand. “You’re thinking about him?”

Belle continued to sit there, looking down at the newspaper. A small shudder overtook her but she managed to shake it off. She let out a ragged breath and looked up into Mimi’s worried eyes. She looked up and away from the paper, trying to hold back the tears that were threatening.

“How can I not, Mimi?” she asked as she looked back at Mimi. “You’re marrying his cousin.” She took another breath and pursed her lips as she exhaled, trying to steady her breathing.

Belle shook her head after she really heard what she had just said. Here was her best friend in the world telling her that she was getting married to Rex Brady, and all she could think about was herself… and Shawn. This was the same girl who used to come over to Belle’s house and wear a white pillowcase on her head. Actually, they’d each take turns wearing it and the other would be the bridesmaid in the most extravagant wedding ever. Of course, they were about eight years old when all this happened, but Mimi was finally having it come true. Belle shook her head at her selfishness and really thought about what Mimi was telling her.

Belle smiled as tears again threatened. But this time, they were tears of joy for her best friend. She shot forward in her chair and threw her arms around Mimi’s neck. “I’m so happy for you, Meems.”

She felt Mimi relax against her and place her arms around her. “Thank you,” Mimi whispered.

“Listen,” Mimi started as she pulled back. “And before you say anything, let me get it all out.” She waited until Belle nodded before she began again. “I want you to be part of this wedding. One way or another. First, I’d like you to design my dress.” She shook her head when Belle took a breath to cut in. “Cost is no option. Second, and I’ll understand if you say no.” She paused to look Belle directly in the eye. “I’d like for you to be my maid of honor.”

A huge smile broke out across Belle’s face. She sat up straight in her chair. “My turn,” she said as she took Mimi’s hands in her own. “I would be honored to design your dress. And,” she added, “I would be even more honored to be your maid of honor.”

Mimi began to giggle. She squeezed Belle’s hands. “Are you sure?”

Belle was suddenly slightly confused but didn’t let it show. “Of course I’m sure, Mimi. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Mimi’s smile suddenly faded as she released Belle’s hands and sat back. She looked as though she were trying to find the right words to say. “I mean, I definitely want you to do both, but I’d understand if you didn’t want to be my maid of honor. That’s what I meant,” she finished with a nod. She began to pick at her fingernails, unable to fight the urge to not fidget.

“I don’t follow,” Belle said, now letting her confusion become evident.

“I mean…”

“Spit it out, Meems.”

“Shawn’s going to be Rex’s best man,” she said quickly. Mimi winced, making it appear that the statement actually caused her physical pain.

Belle’s stomach felt like it had dropped to her toes. “Oh,” she said breathily.

“That’s what I meant. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable, Belle. I really want you to be part of this and that’s why I’d like you to make my dress. Having you as my maid of honor would be a perk, but I don’t want you to feel obligated,” she said as she shook her head.

“Mimi,” Belle started without hesitation. “Nothing could keep me from doing both.” She smiled at her best friend. “Nothing,” she said slowly.

Tears now came to Mimi’s eyes as she hugged Belle.

Belle could almost feel her savoir faire fading away like her lipstick as she nibbled on her lower lip.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Inside the sanctity of her own apartment, Belle fell backwards on the bed, bouncing a few times before becoming absolutely still. She stared up at the dark ceiling for what felt like perpetuity.

The silence began to sink in.

Lord, help me.

She knew what she had gotten herself into, and she had to constantly remind herself that it wasn’t for her. It was for Mimi.

Belle had treated Mimi to dinner at one of her favorite restaurants that she’d discovered in Paris right after she’d gotten there. So, they sat and ate at Pomze Paris and talked about everything from Belle’s career to Mimi’s and her fiancé’s and life in general.

Mimi was currently in her second year of teaching the young minds at Salem Elementary. Scary when Belle actually thought about it considering how much hell she and Mimi had put their teachers through. Rex was the youngest doctor at the hospital. He was in charge of a genome research project funded by the University. Belle didn’t completely understand what Mimi was talking about when she explained it to her. But that was probably because Mimi didn’t completely understand it herself.

Belle laughed out loud as she lay on her bed recalling that particular conversation. She shook her head and thought back to dinner.

“Got a boyfriend?” Mimi had tried to ask casually while taking a bite of her beef filet.

Belle had to stop in mid-bite to answer. “No,” she said as she shoved the oversized portion into her mouth. She figured if Mimi asked anything else, she wouldn’t have to answer due to the fact that she was basically eating dinner in one bite. She preferred death by roasted lamb over being grilled by non-stop questions about her personal life at the moment. A personal life which was very empty. And had been for quite some time.

But the questions hadn’t stopped there.

“Had one recently?”

Belle just shook her head, finding it hard to push the food around in her mouth. Her cheeks were already bulging and her jaw began to ache.

“Well,” Mimi started as she leaned in over her plate, brushing her hair behind her ear to ensure that it didn’t drag through the side salad. “Shawn hasn’t really been seeing anyone, either. Every once in a while, but nothing serious. You haven’t had anything serious lately, have you?” Mimi took another bite and thoughtfully began chewing.

Belle swallowed what felt like a golf ball but wound up being only a small portion of her large helping. She hadn’t thought this all the way through. How could she make Mimi stop talking about Shawn if she couldn’t say anything? Yeah. Great idea, Belle.

“Desserts for ze beautiful Américains?”

Belle hadn't even seen the waiter approach, but she was silently grateful. Thank you, Frenchie.

He continued when Belle nodded vigorously, still chewing. “May I suggest ze crumble fruit du moment weeth ze glace vanille?” He raised his eyebrows waiting for an answer while he traded looks between the two women. The brunette looked confused by what he’d just said while the blonde appeared to still be extremely hungry judging by her overstuffed cheeks and empty plate.

Belle took an extra moment but finally swallowed hard. Finally.

“Yes,” Belle managed. She was sure she could feel this bite travel the entire way down her esophagus. She took a gulp of her wine to aid it along. While waiting for the wine to force her food down, she held up two fingers and then pointed between herself and Mimi with her index finger.

The waiter gave a curt nod and scurried off into the kitchen to fetch the dessert.

Mimi just stared at Belle, a blank look on her face.

“It’s apple crumble with vanilla ice cream. It’s good. I have it all the time,” Belle assured Mimi. When there was no response, only the blank look, Belle asked, “What?”

Mimi smiled, but not with her eyes, only her lips. “Nothing.” She shrugged her shoulders. “I’ve just missed you.”

Belle was sure there was something else Mimi had wanted to say other than ‘nothing.’ And she was pretty sure it was about Shawn.

Without another thought about her evening, Belle shot up from her bed, her stomach gurgling from too much dessert. Her head was spinning, and she was pretty sure that was from too much wine. She and Mimi had laughed their way through about two bottles of wine. Luckily, the driver for Basic Black hadn’t minded waiting. Especially since Mimi and Belle had brought him their leftovers. Food. Not wine. There weren’t any leftovers when it came to the wine tonight.

Belle padded barefoot over to her closet on the other side of her bedroom. She had left all the lights out when she’d come in from dinner so, when she made it to the wall, her hand searched blindly for the switch for her closet light. Her hand ran into the door jam a few times before she finally found it.

When it came on, she shut her eyes tightly for a few seconds before opening them back up very slowly to allow her eyes to adjust. Her clothes were spilling out of the tiny nook, but that wasn’t what she was searching for.

She knelt down on the floor, placing her hand down as she went to steady herself.

Definitely too much wine.

When she made it to her knees, what she was searching for instantly came into sight in the back of her closet behind a mound of shoes. She reached in and pulled out a box with light purple fabric and a tiny white bow on the front. She managed to pull some shoes out with it that had apparently hitched a ride on the box with their tall heels and straps.

After setting the box down in front of her and tossing the few shoes back in the closet, she took a deep breath before she delved in head first.

She placed her fingers on either side, and the top of the box slid off, revealing hundreds of photographs.

Her hand brushed the picture on the top of the pile that first caught her attention. It was a picture of Belle, Shawn, Mimi, and Chloe. Philip was the picture-taker. It was taken in downtown Salem on Halloween of their senior year. The group had decided that dressing up and getting candy was better than handing it out at home with their parents.

Shawn was in the middle of the group, dressed up as a hotdog, complete with mustard and relish. His arms were thrust out in front of him as if he were expecting a huge hug from the camera itself. And his legs were spread wide and bent making him appear shorter than the girls surrounding him. Mimi was to the right of him dressed up as Marilyn Monroe, blowing a kiss. She even had the wig and the mole. Chloe was to the right of Mimi and was the spitting image of Cindy Crawford in a red mini-dress, sans the mole. Belle was to the left of Shawn with her head resting on his… bun. It was hard to see her outfit and someone unfamiliar with that evening might not have known she was a pirate, because she was almost directly behind Shawn. The only giveaway was the eye patch she was sporting. Even that was lifted up by her right hand. But her eyes showed that she wasn’t focused on the camera. Only Shawn.

She pushed that picture aside and stared at another one. This one was only the two of them. Belle remembered taking this one. They were on Old Silver Beach on Cape Cod. They’d driven down there for the day only a month before graduation. The beach had been packed with tourists and locals alike, but they hadn’t even noticed. Shawn had picked Belle up over his shoulder and ran into the water, paying no mind to the fact that Belle had brought up the wonderful point that they hadn’t worn their bathing suits. He’d ignored her shouts and smacks on the ass. She'd turned the camera toward them and snapped the photo. Shawn and Belle were soaked to the bone, the water dripping from their noses frozen in time by the picture. Their laughter and smiles captured forever. The love they’d shared… lost.

She picked the picture up and brought it to her heart.

How long had it been since she had looked through these? She couldn’t remember. Just because it had been six years didn’t mean it didn’t hurt any less. She wondered if Shawn ever thought about her. If he was happy with his life. She’d never been able to stop thinking about him.

This was actually her chance to get everything off her chest. To say everything to him that she’d wanted to say for the longest time. For six years. The perfect opportunity. And she wasn’t going to let it pass her by.


    
This message has been edited by Sterling1106 from IP address 24.52.3.238 on Sep 9, 2006 11:37 PM


 
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