Life was going good for the man as he stood outside and smoked on his ten minute break. The weather had turned cool and the air inside the tunnel was musky. The chill had penetrated beneath the earth until water was beginning to leak down the narrow earthen walls. He was glad to get outside into the fresh air even for a little while. His job was an easy one and the money he was making would be used to buy some crack tonight. All he had to do was just keep an eye on the walls of the tunnel, making sure the lines that had been run throughout it were still covered. He didn’t know what the lines were for, he just assumed that the phone company would be using them. A BellSouth truck was parked along the highway when he had arrived this morning.
Finishing his cigarette, he tossed it onto the parking lot pavement before heading back down. The small lights that were set at intervals below street level were not bright enough to see very far. He didn’t like to venture all the way through the tunnel to his check point each hour, but he had to punch in at the appointed time.
Heading down the tunnel, he thought he heard a roaring noise, but the sounds were distorted at this level. Shaking his head, he went on with his job thinking about the high he would be feeling this evening.
Stopping to top of their gas tanks, Bo Brady shook back his hair before lifting his helmet back on his head. Studying his son through the raised visor Bo thanked the One above that Zach had no desire to become a cop. Shawn had turned out to be an excellent agent, but there were times that Bo still worried about him.
“What makes you so sure that we will find anything out in this area Sailor man?” He straddled his own bike as Shawn put his own helmet on.
“Brady and I were talking a couple of days ago about Eric, reminiscing about when we were children, bonding again after we were adults, and amazed to find out that all three of us were working for the ISA.”
Shawn had a far off gleam in his eyes as he gazed off into the distance. “Eric stumbled over some information he hadn’t shared with the ISA yet. He was waiting to see if it was just a coincidence or if it really was of importance.”
Bo was startled at this news. “Just what did Eric find, Shawn?” Quickly turning off his motorcycle, Bo was anxious to hear the latest speculations.
“Eric found out that there was a tunnel being dug outside of town and that the end opened up very close to the CDC center in Chicago. If anyone was wanting to break into the CDC and steal vials of diseases to start bacterial warfare, then it would make an excellent escape route. I wanted to check it out and needed some back up Dad.”
Thinking it through, Bo nodded. It was entirely possible that the mastermind Dimera might be thinking of this. But all Bo’s dealings with the man, had led him to believe that Dimera always paid someone else to do the nastier jobs.
Bo pulled out his cell phone, calling to let Roman know of their plans. Just in case the unimaginable happened, he wanted someone else to know their location. “OK Son, lets go see if we can find this tunnel.” Turning the key, he waited until Shawn had his own motorcycle in gear before pulling out onto the highway. With a roar they were on their way.
The side road was covered with long overgrown grasses. The broom straw had faded to make fat stacks just right for anyone to cut for fall decorations. The gravel spewed up as the tires spun on some loose rocks as the Bradys maneuvered slowly. Shawn could tell that someone had recently traveled down the hill as the grass was mashed flat. Motioning to his father, Shawn wheeled over to the side and parked.
Making their way down the sloping hill, they slid on the grass as they came to the bottom. Turning around to study the terrain, Bo could tell immediately that the tunnel opening was barely covered but was invisible from the road. Pointing it out, he quickly sent the coordinates to Roman on the ISA tracking phone. Marking their location, Shawn pulled out two narrow beamed flashlights as they went inside the dark entrance.
Playing the light around the damp walls, Shawn studied the footprints visible on the ground. Only one person was indicated by the booted prints. The person had paced back and forth at the entrance and then gone down the tunnel. Dim light bulbs shown briefly from a fifty-yard distance as the tunnel expanded into the hillside.
Nodding at each other, Bo took the lead as they entered the dark. Going on instinct, Shawn kept a watch at their backs. He could feel the hair stand up on his neck, sending tiny shivers running down his spine, as the cool chilly air penetrated his bones. This was it. He just knew that they had found an important clue.
Bo could tell by his son’s breathing that he too felt the excitement of the find. Glancing back, Shawn’s eyes glowed in the reflection of his flashlight. Shining the light back down on the dirt, Bo saw that there was a covered line visible in patches of the dirt. Someone had tried to cover it up. Bending down, he pointed it out to Shawn.
Nodding in understanding, they eased down the tunnel. From somewhere deep in the bowels of the earth, they could hear the incessant dripping of water, their own heavy breathing, and the sound of someone coming their way.
Dousing their lights, Bo moved them into the natural curve of the tunnel. Whoever was coming was going to be in for a surprise.
Belle used her keys to open the heavy doors of Black Jack’s. With the action of Monday night football competing with the baseball playoffs on the TV, Belle knew that the regular crowd would be back after the Sunday break. Hoping for a good night, she went ahead and started the automatic drip coffee pot. She had a date with the account books. She had been neglecting them lately, except for recording the night’s deposits. As it was, Belle hoped to be through with them before either game was over.
Shawn had called that morning, saying he was going off with his Dad for an overnight motorcycle ride. Knowing that Bo Brady was going to be in town only for a few more days, Belle had urged him to go and enjoy himself. She loved the wind-blown look he always came in with after a hard fast ride.
Belle also had the feeling that after his visit with his father, Shawn would be wanting some loving attention for himself. And this time Belle thought, she was going to be the one to tease, tantalize, and torment Shawn. Smiling at the idea of making him ache with need, Belle daydreamed as she sipped her coffee. She just might have to go by Salem Place and pick up the new set of satin sheets she saw in the shop window of Ballastix.
She had found that loving Shawn had been more satisfying than anything she had ever dreamed. She knew that if Shawn were to propose again, she would say yes without blinking her blue eyes. A soft smile lit her face as Brady walked in. Only one man had ever put that look in his sister’s eyes.
“So Tink, where is Shawn tonight? Will he be dropping in later?” Brady walked behind the bar, tying a white apron around his lean waist. Opening the cash register, he counted out the bills from the bank bag he had brought in as he listened to Belle.
“Bo and Shawn went out of town for the night. Shawn said they were on a mission.”
Brady whipped his head around at that news. He hadn’t heard of any secret mission the ISA was involved with on this night. “What kind of mission Belle?”
Belle glanced up at the tone of his voice. It was if Brady was expecting the worst to happen to Shawn and his father. “Shawn said that he and Bo were going to see whose motorcycle was the fastest. That’s all, Braid. What else did you think I meant?”
Brady closed the register after counting out the single dollar bills. Shrugging his shoulders, he turned around to start checking the liquor bottles. “Nothing to get your panties in a wad about Tinkerbelle. I was just asking. That’s all.”
Belle seemed satisfied with his answer, as she picked up her coffee mug. “He said he would call tonight and let me know where they ended up. All I know is that they were going to head north.” Twirling a lock of her blond hair around her finger, she glanced at the TV. “Wherever Shawn ends up tonight, I am sure of one thing Brady.”
Her brother turned to look at her as she stood by the bar stools. “What’s that Belle?”
“As much as Shawn loves baseball, you know he is watching the Cubs in the play offs with the Braves.” Thoughts of the dark haired and dark-eyed man filled her head.
“And that’s a fact!” They both laughed as they said it together. John Black had always used that catch phrase, and both of his children imitated him. “I’ll see you in a little while.”
Brady watched his little sister leave before reaching into his pocket and pulling out his phone. After dialing his secure ISA line he waited for an answer. “This is Brady Black. Have you heard from Shawn or Bo Brady tonight?” He wanted to make sure all was well.
“They are checking out some information that may be very useful to the investigation. So far they have made their check points.” Brady sighed in relief as he finished the conversation. He was glad that Bo was with Shawn. He didn’t want either of them playing hero by themselves.
Walking over to the heavy oak doors Brady unlocked them, as he turned the OPEN sign around to face the outside window. It was time for business. Slinging his bar towel over his left shoulder, he made his way back into the pub. He was happy with the success of the business. He had even thought that when the case was finished with the ISA, he might retire and run Black Jack’s on a full time basis.
John Black would probably have a heart attack if he did that. John had always wanted Brady to follow in his footsteps. Commando Black had led many operations over the years. He had solved mysteries and cases in the Middle East, in Europe, and in North America, including Canada. He had only recently cut back on his own ISA missions when his day job had turned into a major player in the fashion industry. After Basic Black had taken off and eventually expanded with stores on both coasts, John was needed more to run the company than to run the ISA. Though he still traveled quite a bit with his own company, John had slowed down on taking on any more cases.
Marlena had been an influence with him, especially after Stephano had been killed by Shane Donovan. Now with the threat of a new Dimera, John had caught the scent and been like a blood hound on the trail. Brady only hoped that the rabbit would run soon, and then be caught. The Bradys and the Blacks needed to have closure with this case and to start fresh. And a fresh start Brady intended to have. And that was a fact too!
After unscrewing the dim light bulb that was hung from a line strung between two wood beams, Bo held up his hand as he motioned to Shawn. They heard the footsteps of the approaching man, indicating a heavy person by the sound of his tread. Waiting, they could hear him puffing, as if he was having a difficult time breathing in the tunnel. Bending low, Shawn charged the man as he came around the corner. He had not expected the attack and fell heavily backwards.
The ground shook as dust and dirt flew into the air. The two bodies rolled on the ground, each trying to gain a foot hold over the other. Shawn used his fist to hit the man on his chin, stunning him momentarily. But the heavy man that Shawn had jumped weighed at least fifty pounds more than him .His bruising hands tightened around Shawn’s throat, the air passage closing off as Shawn tried to raise his leg in a jerk reflex. The man howled as Shawn’s knee found his intended target.
In the dimness, Bo could just barely make out the distinction of his own son. Anxious to help, Bo raised his own flashlight to see by as he watched the scuffle. The fight continued, the sounds of fists slamming against skin and the resulting grunts echoing in the tunnel. As much as Bo could tell, Shawn was holding his own, until the other man let go of his flannel shirt and flung loose dirt into his eyes. Jerking his head back at the trash and debris thrown into eyes, Shawn let go of the other man’s arms. The weight from him crushed his chest as Shawn struggled to get another grip on him.
Rolling over and over, Shawn felt his shirt tear as he was shoved into a metal box. The sharp edge gouged a hole in his shoulder as he tried to move away from the pointed corner. He heard his Dad drawing his weapon, the sound unmistakable, as the man wheezed in his ear. In the near darkness, Bo searched to see the fight, but it was hard to tell which man was which in the raised dust cloud. Gasping for breath, under the weight of the beefy arm pressing down on his throat, Shawn struggled to blink the dirt clear from his gaze, as he felt his head jostled back harder on the ground. Sensing victory, the heavier man relaxed his grip and Shawn rolled out from under him.
Gaining his feet, they circled around until Shawn had maneuvered the man against the tunnel’s walls. Using his own shoulder as leverage, he shoved the heavy man back as he tripped over his own feet. A cccracckkking sound was heard as the man suddenly went limp. His head had hit the metal box that Shawn had been wedged against during the fight.
Shawn staggered back, wiping his bloody lip with the back of his filthy hand. Looking up at his father, Bo just smirked and shrugged his shoulders. “What?”
“Well, were you going to help me or not?” Shawn finished tearing his sleeve off of his shirt as the material hung limply down his arm. The torn off sleeve revealed the bunched biceps, flexing as Shawn removed the soft flannel and stretched his arm. Scrapes and bruises would be visible the next day, but to Shawn, they were worth it as he looked down at the unconscious man.
“Let’s take him outside Dad.” Between the two of them, they half carried and half drug the man the rest of the way out into the grassy area. The last of the day was fading as night descended. The cry of a lone bird winging its way back home was muted with the far off traffic sounds. Rodents made their trails in the high grass, searching for shelter, before the owls came out to find their dinner. As Bo called for back up, Shawn bent over and checked the pants pockets for the man’s identity.
“Wonder who’s payroll he is on.” Shawn finished searching the man’s wallet as he started coming around. “Oh no you don’t Big Guy.” Shawn reached for his Dad’s handcuffs, snapping them on, before rolling the man back over.
Bo squatted down beside the other man, his denim jeans white at the stress points. The hardened leg muscles bunched as he laid a hand on the man’s chest. “Tell us who you are and we’ll go from there. Who are you working for?”
The heavy man groaned, his head aching from the bruising blow against the metal box inside the tunnel. “I don’t have to tell you nothing. I was only working to earn some extra cash.”
He struggled to sit up as Bo helped him up.. Blood seeped from the back of his head and Shawn handed the torn sleeve from his shirt to Bo. Wrapping it around the man’s head, it was the best they could do under the circumstances.
“We are field agents with the International Security Agency. We have been working on a case for several months and think that you can provide us with the link we are missing.” Bo pulled out his badge and opened it as Shawn reached into his back pocket to do the same. “We have been searching for a man that is responsible for numerous murders. His code name is Saphalerite. We know for a fact that he has been using this location for meetings and for his home base for his next operation.”
The man looked up with eyes glazed with pain. “I don’t know nothing about that. I was just paid to make sure this here tunnel didn’t collapse. I don’t know nothing about no murders either. I haven’t killed nobody.” The frightened man looked between Bo and Shawn. “What are you going to do to me?”
Bo stood up as he heard the sound of a siren. Help had arrived. The glowing blue light from the police car flashed in the dark from the hilltop. “I’ll tell you what we are going to do.” He glanced up as Roman slipped and slide down the hillside. “The Commander here is taking you to police headquarters in Salem.”
Roman, already appraised of the situation, helped the man up the hill. His arm giving the heavy man balanced support as they climbed up to his police cruiser. Bo turned back to give Shawn a hand. “Come on Son. I think you could use a stiff drink about now.”
Shawn smiled as they climbed upwards. “I don’t know about the drink, but four Tylenol right now would be good.” He rubbed his cheek where one heavy blow had struck. “Whoever he is, he hits like a bull dozer.”
The interrogation room of the Salem Police Department was empty except for the man who sat dejectedly on one of the two chairs in the room. Facing the table, he sat with his hands holding up his head as he wished out loud for a cigarette. His day had gone to the dogs, all because he wanted to earn some extra cash. Shaking his head, he hoped to be able to plead his case with the policemen.
Roman, Bo, and Shawn Brady looked through the two way mirror, watching the man and gauging his mannerisms. “I really am going to guess, but I bet my bottom dollar, he really doesn’t know anything.” Roman turned to look at the door as it opened to reveal one of the detectives entering the interrogation room. He would be asking the questions as the Bradys looked on and listened. “I’ll bet Dimera used another name when he was talking to this guy.” Bo hunched his shoulders, his hands slipping into his pockets with his thumbs sliding through the belt loops.
“You may be right Bro. But I hope that we can get some fingerprints off of that metal box we brought in with us.” Roman turned back around to look at Shawn, as his nephew held an ice pack to his cheek and eye.
“Eye feeling any better Shawn?” Roman reached up one hand to lift the ice pack and saw the swelling over his eyebrow. “You are going to have one hell of a shiner.”
Shawn grimaced as he slowly worked his jaw. “Well my vision isn’t quite as blurred now. I only see one of you Uncle Roman.” Holding the ice pack back up against the numb skin, Shawn glanced inside the other room. “Do you know what was in the metal box we found in the tunnel?”
Roman turned one of the chairs around and straddled it as he looked between the two ISA agents. “You mean to tell me, you two didn’t open it up?” Astonishment rang in his voice. They shook their heads no as Roman spread his hands to illustrate the unknown contents.
“Well let me tell you then. It was the missing vials of Ebola virus that was stolen from the CDC in Chicago last week. The authorities didn’t want to send out a wide panic scare, but we have been searching along with half of the government undercover agencies and the surrounding states’ police forces. I thought I told you about it Bro.”
Shaking his head, Bo sat on the corner of the table. “Well, you didn’t Roman. So did Saphalerite steal it to cause havoc or is there some other devious mind working a foul in the area?”
Roman slowly looked up. “Actually John is working on identifying the fingerprint sample we got off of the box now. I wanted to do it as quickly and as quietly as possible. He has a secret lab set up one floor below his penthouse.” Standing up, Roman walked across the room to glance back through the window. “ If it is that guy from the university, then we have enough evidence to go ahead and arrest him.”
Shawn interrupted. “Let me get this straight. The man from the college that Eric was suspicious of, Dr. Xavier King, is he this guy, Rex Dimera, that Brady was reading about the other night?”
Roman slowly nodded. “Shane proved it by using the ISA computer to match the known fingerprints of Rex Dimera to the fingerprint we lifted from King’s office when we searched it.”
Bo whistled lowly. “That cinches it then. Eric was murdered for suspecting or knowing too much. Any idea why this Rex Dimera wants to kill the Bradys?”
Roman shook his head as John opened the door. He held up a manilla folder, smiling as he stepped inside. “We got that bastard. It’s a match.” The raised eyebrow took in Shawn’s appearance, noting the bruises already visible on his face and arms.
“Who’s truck ran you over Shawn?” He held out his hand to shake as Bo, then Shawn gripped it.
Nodding to the two way window, Shawn gestured inside to the heavy set man. “It felt like a steam roller actually, John.” Rubbing his tender jaw, Shawn eased down to sit on the remaining chair in the room.
John saw the detective interviewing the suspect as he turned around. “I talked with Shane earlier before I left the lab. Dr. King from Salem University is Robert Xavier Dimera, son of Stephano Dimera. From the fingerprints we lifted and from the hair sample Shane supplied and the hairs we got from his personal bathroom at the university, it has been confirmed.”
John looked at each man as he continued. “Shane is on his way to the States now. Andrew is following another lead and should be landing in New York on a commercial flight in about an hour.”
Roman sat back in the swivel chair, as he propped his feet on the edge of the desk. “What lead is Andrew following John? Do you know?”
Nodding, John told them about the plutonium being shipped to the States. “The bomb will be set to go off and from the sounds of this tunnel that Bo and Shawn found, my guess is that is where the bomb will be placed.”
Bo agreed. “If it is placed in the tunnel, and if the metal box is put back where it was, then when the bomb explodes, it would cause the disease in the vials to go into the atmosphere. The terror and the destruction from the explosion would be minimal compared to the number of people who will be killed from the wide spread airborne disease.”
Roman and John nodded, each lost in their own thoughts. “Well gentleman, Operation Unity, is now on major alert. You each know what must be done.” Joining fists, the men departed going in their separate directions.
Outside the police station, Shawn looked up into the sky. The moon was on the rise, riding above the low line of clouds on the horizon, as Shawn straddled his motorcycle. Sitting still for a moment, Shawn pulled on his helmet, the aches and pains tensing his body. Wishing for nothing more than a hot shower, he turned the motor over. With the ease of years balancing on his bike, Shawn made his way to the airport hanger. The electronic door opener beeped as he passed through and parked.
Closing the door and locking up for the night, he made his way upstairs. Going on instinct he felt his way int the dark to the bathroom and started the tub. A long hot soak was going to do more for him than a quick shower. As the hot water filled the basin, he downed several headache pills.
Stripping off his torn shirt, he tossed it into the garbage as the warning siren went off. Thinking the worst, Shawn picked up his automatic hand gun, the instinct of his years of training had him maneuvering in the now total darkness as he shut off the lights. Going down the stairs, he wished he had left his shoes on as he stubbed his toes on the steps.
At the entrance, as the soft bleeps of the scanning devices still going off, let him know that an intruder was still outside on the premises. Looking through the peephole that he had installed in the side of the aluminum hanger, Shawn let his guard down. Putting the safety on his weapon, he stuck the gun in the cabinet by the door.
Turning off the warning system, he unlocked the door. Sliding the tin panel open, he stood with his shoulder leaning against the door frame. Smiling down into the surprised eyes, he pulled his visitor to him for a resounding kiss. The sinking sensation from her small form against his hard chest caused him to wrap her closer to his body. Sliding deeper into the kiss, Shawn felt like he had come home. Walking backwards and carrying Belle with him, Shawn slid the door shut with one hand, never releasing her lips as his mouth covered hers, seeking the ultimate healing from her tender ministrations.
As Shawn finally released Belle, she leaned against the warm body, unsteady from the kisses that had rocked her. Allowing her lips to brush his chest, she feathered tiny kisses across the tanned skin, lingering on his shoulder as she brushed his golden chain with her fingers to trace it’s length as it wound back around his neck. “And hello to you to Shawn.” Shawn let her go as he turned on the overhead lights.
Belle gasped as she saw Shawn fully for the first time. Taking in the bruises, the gashes on his arm and shoulders, the swollen lips, Belle gently traced her fingertips over the black eye. “Shawn, what on earth happened to you? Did you have an accident on your motorcycle?” Taking his hand, Belle led him over to the stuffed chair in the downstairs room.
Shawn had already planned to tell Belle about the incident in the tunnel, just keeping some of the information to himself. “Dad and I went for a ride and came across this guy who was not so friendly Belle. He used me for a punching bag before Uncle Roman hauled him to the Salem PD.”
Examining his cut lip for herself, Belle brushed her fingers through his dark hair. “And is this where you tell me the other guy looks worse than you do, Shawn?” Letting her hands smooth over his broad shoulders, Belle met his eyes with hers, as she encircled his neck.
Shawn started to laugh, until his lip split again. Smarting with pain, he reached up his own finger to touch it before it was caught in Belle’s hand. “Oh no you don’t Shawn Brady. Come on upstairs and I’ll patch you up.”
Taking his hand, Belle pulled Shawn to his feet. “He really does have his own share of bumps and bruises Belle.” Shawn said as he went willing with her. “Do you plan on nursing me through the night?” Having Belle’s hands run over his body, her moist lips still tempting him to kiss her again, was causing his own body to become aware of needs that hadn’t been taken care of in awhile.
Belle turned to meet his hot dark stare when they entered his bedroom. Slowly crossing the room to stand toe to toe with Shawn, Belle raised her face to his. Whispering in his ear, Belle used her lips to caress the rim, teasing the soft flesh before sliding down and taking his golden hoop earring between her teeth. Tugging on the jewelry before sliding her lips down his neck, Belle stepped back as Shawn grasped her shoulders.
“Mr. Brady, I think you need a good bath, maybe get your back scrubbed and get some of this black dirt off of your arms.” Belle reached down to unsnap his jeans, brushing her hands against the hard erection she had already felt against her. Sliding her palms inside the denim, she pushed the jeans off of his hips, taking the red plaid boxers off too. “ Then after I get you cleaned up, I promise to kiss all of your bruises and make them feel all better.”
His dark eyes dancing, Shawn innocently asked, “All of my bruises Belle?” Waiting for her answer, Shawn stepped into the small bath, pulling Belle in the room with him.
Belle flirted as she bent down to run her fingers in the water, testing the temperature. Looking back up from under her lowered lashes, she gave him a slow smile. “I promise to cover your body all over with kisses. That way, I won’t miss a single spot.”
Shawn gulped as he stepped into the tub. Easing down below the surface, he sighed as the warm water rushed over the tired muscles. With thoughts of Belle swimming in his head, he closed his eyes to lean back against the porcelain. Opening the brown pools, his gaze met hers.
“All over?” At her nod, Shawn sank back to start thinking of the delightful torture that was in store for him. This bath couldn’t get over fast enough to suit him.
The now tepid water sloshed over the side of the tub as Shawn Brady sat up. Rolling his neck around his shoulders, he used a shriveled hand to push back his dark brown hair. He had been dozing with his head pillowed on a rolled up towel on the porcelain rim of the tub. The bruises and abrasions, purpling along his tanned skin, were now more visible that all the dirt had been washed off. Shaking his head back as he slicked on shampoo he was glad that he hadn’t broken his hand when his fist had plowed into the other man’s chin and ribs. He felt the burn of the soap as he rinsed off the abraded flesh.
Rubbing up a good lather as shampoo slithered down his face almost into his eyes, he wondered if Belle had been in the hanger apartment or had that all been a dream. His mind was confused as his dreams had been filled with very vivid images of her. Flexing his arms as he rinsed the soap suds from his head, the aches and pains of the fight were being to be felt. That part of the night at least had been real.
The ISA was getting closer to finding all the answers to why the Dimeras hated the Bradys so much. If chaos was going to be averted, then Dr. King was going to be scrupulously watched from now on. It would only take one mistake and then the ISA or Salem PD could move in and take him down. Shawn wanted him to be caught, to be made to pay for Eric’s life. Restitution and justice needed to be met. His uncle Roman had said that Shane was going to be bringing along more evidence when he returned to Salem. And if Andrew was able to find the exact location of the plutonium bomb and diffuse it, then the case could be wrapped up by next month. Shawn started thinking again, his mind now more alert after the quick cat nap, if by the time Thanksgiving came around, the whole investigation would be finished, then he would see about ending his own career with the ISA. He only wanted to be with Belle and to make a life with her.
Stretching his arms over his head, Shawn reached for the bar of Irish Spring soap, lathering his chest and arms with the refreshing scent before rinsing away the suds. As he eased his way to his feet, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye, before he heard the squeaking as the narrow door as it opened. Grabbing the rolled up towel, Shawn used it for coverage of his privates as the door opened all the way. Starting to stand and looking for anything to use as a weapon, Shawn watched as Belle stood staring amusingly at him.
Letting her sparkling blue eyes dance down the front of his body, Shawn felt himself start to stir as he watched her small pink tongue moisten her bottom lip. As he leaned against the cool tile wall for balance, the bar of soap slipping unnoticed from his fingers, Shawn dropped the towel on the floor. Since she wasn’t shy about looking, he felt that he might as well give her a show as water cascaded down his body.
Belle stepped inside the small room. The hot air that had steamed the mirrored wall was beginning to evaporate, as she reached up her hands to begin unbuttoning her blouse. Feeling Shawn’s eyes on her fingers, she slowed the movement, dragging the time it took to slip each button out of the holes, until she could almost hear his thoughts urging her to hurry. His own eyes were now darker, luminous in the dim light.
Meeting the dark hungry gaze with her own, Belle let the sleeves slip down her arms onto the floor. Unzipping her jeans, they soon joined the shirt. Belle could tell by Shawn’s response that he had enjoyed the semi strip tease. The shimmering lacy bra and panty set was very sheer, and as the moist air from the bath settled on Belle, the lingerie became transparent.
Stepping closer to the tub, Belle let her fingers again test the temperature. Reaching down thru the now cooled water, Belle pulled the tub drain as the water began to rush out, causing a small funnel to appear. As she straightened up, her fingers gently slid up Shawn’s thigh until they reached his hip. Her slender fingers teased the soft waterlogged skin before grazing against his groin. The automatic response as his maleness hardened against her palm had Belle holding her own breath.
Hearing Shawn’s low groan, Belle glanced up. Desire, hot and blazing, filled the nearly black orbs. Eyes that closed briefly, now glowed with heat, as Belle released the pulsating warmth, and ran her fingers up his chest. Circling his flat male nipples with just the pads of her fingers, they glided along his golden cross and necklace as she caught a drop of water making its way lazily down his chest with her tongue. Lapping and following another droplet on its course, Belle felt the quick tremors that Shawn couldn’t hide.
Stepping back, Belle reached out her hand in invitation. Shawn accepted the soft hand, his own thumb brushing her fingers, as he got out of the tub. Belle reached over the sink and grabbed another of the fluffy towels from the shelf. Opening it up, she waited until Shawn stepped forward as she wrapped it around him. Rubbing the cotton over his limbs, she appreciated the close up view.
From the strong cords in his neck, the swirling black hair on his broad chest, the flat six pack abs and the narrow waist, Belle couldn’t help but to sigh as she dried off his body. Lingering over his chest, she kissed the silky hair and followed the soft line to his navel before swirling her tongue in it to give it a quick kiss. Dipping inside she fluttered her tongue again, swiping up the last drips of water still clinging to his flesh.
Taking her time, she dropped to her knees, as she slid the towel down the length of his tanned legs. The green thirsty towel captured the clinging wet drops of water along his firmly muscled calves before Belle used it to dry his long narrow feet. Slowly, not rushing as she used the towel between his toes, she carefully dried each foot, lifting them and running her thumb along the arch until Shawn was moaning at her manipulations. Knowing that the feet had many erogenous places, Belle was carefully giving each one her full attention.
After achieving her first objective of the night, Belle stood up, her blue eyes twinkling as she folded and hung the towel along the metal bar. “Are you ready for your rub down now, Shawn?” Smiling up into the face of her best friend, Belle waited, anticipating loving Shawn completely at her own pace. She wanted this to be a night that he wouldn’t be forgetting anytime soon.
“Ready, willing and able, Belle. By all means, lead on Sunshine.” Shawn’s husky voice was reward enough for Belle as she led him into the bedroom. She had been at work here while he had slept in the tub. The whole room glowed from the multitude of candles lit on every available surface. Shawn saw the light dancing around the room as he took in the variety of candles she had used. Big fat ones of a creamy vanilla color were on the night stand, tall thin tapers stood on the dresser, while smaller candles glimmered in glass holders. The eclectic group cast a soft romantic glow over the bedroom
Shawn had haphazardly thrown his clothes on the floor earlier when he had gone upstairs. Undressing and eager for his bath, he hadn’t put them away. Glancing around the room, he saw that his clothes were now in the basket in the corner. His wallet and keys and loose change had been placed on the dresser. But his attention was drawn to the room’s centerpiece. The bed was turned down, the light blue sheets looked inviting as Belle led Shawn over to sit down on the soft mattress. Leaning over him, she pulled his legs up on the bed as he moved over to the center, leaving plenty of room for Belle to join him.
Sitting on the edge, Belle picked up a basket from the floor and squeezed out a small amount of lotion. The vanilla scent mingled with the odor from the candles as she warmed the lotion in her hands. Catching Shawn’s eyes looking at her, she smiled wickedly as she straddled the front of his body. Sitting on his hard thighs, put her in the position that she could reach his shoulders and chest, as she leaned forward to start rubbing her lotion on his soft skin. The dampness from the bathroom had curled the small escaping tendrils of her blond hair that she had swept up with a clip. Shawn wanted to reach up and loosen the clip, but decided to wait. Pillowing his head on his folded arms, he watched as his Sunshine touched him. Desire for her flared within his heart, love bloomed and filled his soul.
A husky moan slipped unnoticed from his lips, the hot contact of her small hands warmed his chest as she stroked her silky fingers up and down his abs. Rubbing the scented lotion in, Belle had to stretch to reach down his arms, her center connecting with his arousal. Both groaned aloud at the first contact. Leaning a bit further, Belle nestled her hot core over the hardening length of Shawn. As she continued to stroke his shoulders, Belle could feel the muscles relaxing while other parts of Shawn began to grow and lengthen.
Easing back down on her hips, she let his arousal nestle between her thighs as she reached for more lotion. Her eyes met his, the raw desire she saw burning in the brown pools sent another spurt of lust to her already damp core. Turning around she sat with her back to Shawn, as she took her turn rubbing each leg with sure swift strokes. As Shawn lay back and enjoyed the relaxation techniques, he got a preview of just how excited Belle was. He had already felt the dampness from her as she had sat astride his erection. Now he saw the evidence of her, as each time she rose up to let her hands rake down his legs, a moist circle darkened the sheer panties covering the golden curls. Lusting after Belle was more painful to him now, than when they had been teenagers. Having already made love to her before, only caused Shawn to want to do it again and again. Once was never enough and he was more than “up” for the task.
He sat up quickly, and gathered Belle back to his chest, her legs stretching out on either side of his. In this position, she was arched back against his broad chest, the fine hair tickling her as she rested her head on his shoulder. She felt his lips touch her neck, leaving trailing kisses down the soft skin. Gentle bites turned to nips, that were soothed with his own tongue. Finding her ear, he blew softly against the tender flesh as he laved the rim again and again. Shawn felt Belle gasp as he slipped his hands around to cradle her breasts. His thumbs stroked the soft mounds, circling the firm flesh as it heated.
Belle relaxed against Shawn, liquid heat pooling between her thighs as she realized that the tables had been turned. Quickly she whipped around to straddle Shawn once more. Her lips were immediately captured by a drugging kiss. The hot moist cavity was filled by Shawn as his mouth took hers on a journey. Soft kisses rained over her face, returning to her lips and then retreating. Want and need were building up inside to create a furnace as Belle took his head within her hands, holding it still as she latched on to his mouth to kiss him brainless. Falling back against the pillows, they rolled over the bed, each gaining the upper position until they had to stop for breath.
Shawn leaned over the diminutive woman, his long thigh covering hers as he propped up on one elbow. Gazing into her eyes, he brushed the golden halo of her hair back, tracing his fingers along her chin and the curve of her cheek before coming back to tease her ear. Belle tilted her face so Shawn could reach wherever he wanted to, as she sighed with pleasure. Love burst from her heart, making her eyes glow a deep sapphire blue in the dancing light. “I love you Belle.” Shawn whispered. The radiance of her face in the light gave her an ethereal glow. “I love you so much. Thank you for coming over tonight. I really needed you.”
Belle reached up to push a wayward shock of brown hair back out of Shawn’s eyes as she answered. “I love you to Shawn Brady. More now than I did when we were in college.” Nipping his bottom lip with her teeth, she soothed the soft tissue with her tongue. “And as for me coming by tonight, it was because of your Dad.”
Shawn jerked back, his legs now resting on either side of her thighs, effectively pinning her to the bed. “My Dad?”
Belle giggled as Shawn blushed. Thoughts of his Dad knowing exactly what they were doing causing him to shuffle his body around as he winced. Some things were just supposed to be between him and Belle.
“Yes, Bo called me at Black Jack’s and said you were home earlier because of an accident. He thought you might need some fixing up and asked if I had any band aids.” Smiling innocently into his eyes, Belle let her fingers start a journey down his chest.
“I did promise to kiss all of you bruises tonight Shawn, and I haven’t kissed the first one except for you split lip. Wanna let me up so I can finish what I started?”
Shawn rolled off of Belle and sat on the side of the bed. Smiling over at the small ray of “sunshine”, he was eager to try anything Belle wanted to do. “Sure Belle, where do you want me?” Shawn turned to look into the gorgeous blue eyes that shone with mischief.
“Well for starters, I think you need to turn over and lay face down on the bed.” Belle began directing Shawn, as she leaned over once more to squeeze more lotion into her hands.
As Shawn lay down, settling himself into as comfortable position as he could wriggle into, he waited, turning his head on the side to watch her out of the corner of his eye. In the past few minutes his body had been cooled down from the bath, been on fire with desire for Belle, chilled from the lotion she had spread over his chest, and now it pulsed as he waited with bated breath to see just what else Belle had in mind. Torture, pure and simple, had never been this bad before.
Belle stood at the foot of the bed. Using her fingertips she stroked down his calf muscles, feeling the elongated muscles stretched tight, but soon relaxing under her ministrations. Picking up one large foot, Belle worked the lotion over the sole. Using her fingers she spread the lotion between each toe, before pressing harder on the pad of his foot.
“Did you know that when you touch one spot on your foot that it triggers a relaxation in other parts of your body, Shawn?” Belle softly asked as touched him.
Shawn raised his head took look down at Belle. “I’ve heard it before, but never really thought about it Belle. What do you mean?”
“Well if you start with your toes, they each reflect your sinuses and the big toe your neck.” She rubbed each individual toe on his right foot, holding his ankle with one hand for support. She laughed as each toe “popped” as she gave each one a turn. “The spot underneath your toes represents your chest area. Here,” demonstrating the exact location as Belle pressed harder into the one spot, “is the lungs . . . your eyes . . . your ears.” Running her thumb down further she pressed it into the mid center of his arch. “This area covers your heart and your solar plexis.” Using both thumbs now, as Shawn held up his own foot, Belle pressed and released her fingers in a constant pattern, as Shawn groaned aloud.
“That feels so wonderful Belle.” He pillowed his head on his folder arms, his eyes closed as her fingers did magical things to his tired body. He could tell that whatever she was doing, it was clearly relaxing him. Even his hard on had abated somewhat.
Moving to the outside edge of his foot below his little toe, Belle started working that area. “This will help your shoulders stay limber and your arms at this point. And when I touch you here, Shawn, this is for your elbow and hips.” So saying Belle leaned over and kissed each spot on his back before running her palm down to his heel.
“This spot controls your sciatic nerves and on the inner arch is for your spine.” Shawn nearly came off of the bed as she continued to rub his feet. After another few minutes of bliss, Belle changed to his other foot, repeating the entire process as Shawn closed his eyes again.
As he drifted into a relaxed state, Belle hurriedly finished her task. She didn’t want Shawn to fall asleep before she finished with her bed side manner. Capping the lotion, Belle sat back on the bed. She leaned over to stroke his back, following the long lines of his spine as it dipped down into the small of his back. The faint tan line was still visible from his summer activities, as it rode low over his hips. Leaning over the magnificent view, Belle let her lips follow the path her fingers had just coursed. Tiny kisses slowly traced his spine, open mouth kisses followed his spine until she traced his tan line with her talented tongue.
Shawn jerked at the tender touches, feeling the butterfly kisses along his shoulders and the back of his ribs. Belle returned to the spot on his shoulder where he had connected with the metal box. The rough corner had gouged a hole in his shoulder, and scraped the skin off of his hide. Her tiny flutters of her lips, had the pain easing away.
Rolling over, Shawn smiled up at Belle. “You almost put me to sleep Sunshine, and I don’t want this night to end without making love to you.” The sleep-roughened voice was arousing to Belle. She had worked her own self into a state of raging need as she had touched Shawn.
“Me either Shawn, but I still haven’t kept all of my promise to you. So lay back and get comfortable.” Belle said as she knelt on the bed. Sliding beside the hard packed body, Belle felt her insides melt at the relief from having his hands slide down her back to run his own finger along her hip.
Propping up on one hand, she raked her fingers through his hair, pushing the locks hanging over his eyes back, until she could let her lips cover the abrasions on his forehead. Slowly she worked her way down his body.
Her lips found the cuts on his chest, the bruises covering his abs, the scrapes on his knees where his jeans had torn. Even a skint place on his elbow wasn’t overlooked. Working her way back down, Belle stopped when she came in contact with his erection. Up until now, she had avoided that one particular spot, but glancing up into Shawn’s eyes, Belle saw the desire in them as he wanted her to touch him where he needed it the most.
Carefully using her soft hands, Belle held his erection, cupping his scrotum in one hand as her fingers delicately stroked the soft flesh. The teasing motion was getting the reaction she had hoped for. Stroking his penis, she could tell by the way he lifted his hips, that Shawn was needing more.
Lowering her head, Belle wrapped her lips around the tip of Shawn. Hearing the groan that escaped, Belle hoped she was doing this right. Slowly she took the whole shaft between her lips, feeling the softness as it hardened against the roof of her mouth. Opening wider, she took more into her mouth, straining to take all of him. As the moist heat enfolded Shawn, he drew in a breath and just watched his sunshine. It was so erotic for him, to watch her take him and be able to feel the hot heat at the same time.
Fire burning heat engulfed him as he felt her tongue begin to stroke up his flesh, the delicate strokes became harder as she suckled him more. As the tempo increased, she cupped his balls again as they drew up closer to his body.
Shawn filled her senses. The heady rush she felt because she could bring him to such a state filled her too. Releasing his shaft, Belle raised her eyes to meet Shawn as she licked her way up the hot love handle. His eyes were bulging, nearly rolling back in his head as he felt the heat low in his belly. Knowing that it would take only very little to send him over the edge, Shawn reached out a hand to stop Belle.
“Belle,” her name was a husky whisper as he struggled to say her name louder. The roaring in his ears was about to explode as he pulled out of her pink lips. She finished licking the single drop of saltiness that had pearled at the top of Shawn’s shaft before meeting his brown gaze. “Did I do all right Shawn? Why did you stop me?”
Shawn flopped back on the pillows covering his eyes as he willed his thoughts to slow down as well as his heart rate. How could Belle think she was inadequate after the torment he had just went through?
“Belle, baby, that was remarkable and I was about to come. That is why I pulled out from you. When I do climax, I want to be deep inside of you, not in your mouth the first time we tried this.”
Belle smirked at the way Shawn was teasing her. “So Tough Boy, you think we’ll be doing this again?”
Shawn smiled warmly at the beautiful woman of his dreams. He was in such a state of want and need, that he would have agreed to almost anything at the moment. “You and I both know that we will eventually be doing this again Belle. As we live and breathe, I cannot keep my hands or my mouth off of you.” So saying, Shawn reached up to slide the strap of Belle’s bra off of her shoulder. It clung to the soft curves that he was ready to explore.
“And speaking of not keeping my mouth off of you, I think you need to get undressed now.”
His hands reached forward to unsnap the front clasp of her bra, her nipples springing out of the transparent lace. The cool air teased the tight buds as they warmed under the onslaught of Shawn’s mouth as he lowered his head. Belle could feel her nipples tighten as he stroked them with his tongue. Not wanting to leave out one breast, Shawn quickly made the other one as needy as the first while using his fingers to keep the other one satisfied.
Holding her breasts together, Shawn raked his thumbs over them, seeking out all of her pleasure points as he kissed her lips. The building passion he felt in Belle was reciprocated as he matched her kiss for kiss. His mouth found the curve of her cheek, as he brought up one hand to tilt her face toward him. His lips brushed against the satin-smooth skin. His own face was scratchy since he hadn’t bothered with shaving. The five o’clock shadow had darkened his own chin and he could hear the soft scrapes as he inched his way to find her ear and the special spot right below it that he knew would send Belle into ecstasy when he kissed it.
Shawn laved her ear and her pressed hot open-mouth kisses down her neck, reveling in the feel of all that silky skin against him. Her small breasts rubbed his chest, teasing him until he had to taste those hard points as well.
Aching needs filled Belle, as she rubbed her silk-covered panties over Shawn. The panties offered little protection as Belle could feel Shawn thrusting against her. Wanting to be rid of the last bit of clothing that covered her, Shawn snatched the offending article away. He would owe her a set of lingerie, but it was worth it to see the dripping curls in tight rings, begging for his attention. His own fingers slipped down to test how ready Belle was. Feeling and finding the moisture that had gathered, Shawn easily spread the escaping essence around the outer surface of her lower lips, as he dipped one long narrow finger inside to be captured by the heat.
Knowing that if he moved on Belle now, that he would only last a few strokes. Shawn wanted to take the edge off of Belle, so he could build up to another climax for her. Moving down her body, he rested his head on her flat stomach, inching lower until he found the spot he was dying to taste.
He found her crevice, already moist and swollen and needing no further invitation, Shawn dipped his head to trace a path with his tongue. Her flesh was a pearly deep pink color that reminded him of the dawn’s light, as he closed his eyes to bring Belle her first explosion of the night. Spearing the chasm, Shawn delved inside, teasing and withdrawing until he felt Belle’s hand clinch on his shoulders, her nails digging in as he latched onto the swollen nerves that were hidden from view. Lapping at the center of her heat, he suckled until he felt the waves shudder through Belle. Easing back up her body, he released the hair clip until her golden tendrils were surrounding her face.
The soft moan that he had heard when she had called out his name confirmed the rising passion that had crested a few moments earlier. Her face was still flushed as he traced a finger down the curve of her cheek, brushing aside a stray golden strand. Shawn wanted to only build from that point on. Adding layer upon layer of need with the heat. He reached over to the night table to search for a condom. His hand shifted inside the drawer, searching by feel alone, not wanting to alarm Belle when he couldn’t find one inside.
Leaning over the side of the bed, he opened the bottom drawer to search inside it. Shawn had to stretch his arm further until Belle realized something was amiss.
“What’s wrong Shawn?” Sitting up, Belle kissed his shoulder as he swung his legs over the side of the bed. Her breasts nestled against his back, hard points of pleasure as she continued to nuzzle his neck and shoulders with her lips.
“I need to go look in the bathroom to see if I have any condoms in there.” Shawn spoke softly as he stood up only to be stopped by Belle’s hand on his arm. Her soft fingers caressed his arm, running up from his wrist to his elbow with slow teasing strokes.
“Wait, Shawn.” Belle hesitated before she said anymore. Meeting his eyes, she found the courage to continue. “You know Shawn, you were my first and only, and ...” Belle pulled up the sheet until she covered her breasts. “I know that we are destined to be together. Why not just come back to bed?” She willed him to know what she meant as she stared up from under her lashes at him.
Swallowing in anticipation, Shawn sat back down on the bed. “Belle...Sunshine...do you mean to make love without protection?” His fingers curled underneath her chin, raising her face to his. “ I need to know exactly what you mean, baby. You have driven me crazy with need for you and I can’t take much more.” The low husky voice throbbed with passion as Belle gazed up into the dreamy milk chocolate pools.
Taking his hand in hers and lifting it until it cradled her cheek, Belle met his gaze steadily. “That’s exactly what I mean Shawn. I want to feel you, you alone, not a rubber between us.” Letting go of the sheet, she brought their joined hands down until she could rub her turgid nipple against the back of his hand. The fine hair sprang up, causing shivers to dance down Belle’s spine as he automatically continued the rubbing against her hard peak. Nodding in understanding, Shawn lay back down.
Reaching to gather the small woman in his arms, Shawn began to kiss her with the slow, deep kisses he loved. Feeling her melt against him, they stretched out together, side by side, heart to heart, as the layers of passion began to build. The ball of need was focusing in on these sweet moments. With each stroke of a finger, the touch of a hand, the gentle brushing of lips, the electric currents sizzled with love. Feeling the spiraling need grow, Shawn rose up to lower his hips to Belle easing between her thighs. Meeting the sparkling blue eyes, he lowered his lips to hers for a soul drugging kiss. He felt her small hands slip down to guide him as she raised her hips. With one sure stroke he was in heaven.
His throbbing erection had found it’s home, the overwhelming bliss filled him up completely. With each thrust, Shawn could tell by the way Belle clutched his shoulders she was nearing another climax. Wanting to go over with her, he thrust faster and faster until the sounds of their flesh slapping rhythmically together was matched only by their heavy breathing.
Clinching her hips with his hands, he lifted her fractionally, hitting the exact spot she needed touching, as wave after wave of pleasure washed over Belle. Feeling the convulsions start was all Shawn needed. With a loud drawn out groan, he too came as the tremors started at the root of his penis and lashed out in spasms.
Breathing heavily, Shawn rested his forehead against Belle. Gasping for much needed air, he finally had the sense to roll off of her before crushing the small woman. Curling his arm around her waist, he brought her up against him, still needing the contact with her warm body.
Belle whimpered as Shawn rolled off, her blue eyes closing with fatigue, but a soft smile still on her face. Opening her eyes, Belle peered over at Shawn as he flung one arm up to rest his head on. “Tell me, Mr. Brady. Did I miss a spot, or did I get all the bases covered, Shawn?” Grinning up at him, Belle had never felt happier than she did at this one moment.
“I think you might have missed one or two spots, but I’ll take a rain check. How about that Miss Black?” Shawn’s voice was slurred, his body depleted and the exhaustion from the fight catching up with him. Kissing the tip of her nose, his last thoughts as he pulled up the comforter was that he wished that every night could be as special as tonight had been.
The four women sat around the room, gazing at the accumulation of silent auction items that would be raffled off during the Christmas Festival of Trees. The items ranged from dinners from local restaurants, comforter/sheet sets, beauty baskets of fragrances and bath supplies, oil changes/tire rotations, a his and hers watch set, and even a week on a houseboat on Lake Superior. The local veterinarian had even supplied free shots for both cats and dogs for the animal lover with a treat basket filled with a new leash and collar.
Belle was very pleased with all the items that had been donated. With over a hundred and fifty items, the night was going to be a success. With the inclusion of the live auction items and the door charge, Belle really hoped to raise at least twenty five thousand dollars for the pediatric wing.
She had received many tickets for sporting events ranging from collegiate tickets to professional suite packages. From football, basketball, hockey and baseball, any sports minded individual would find something they could bid on. Even Salem University had donated several family swim passes for a year and free swimming lessons/or swimming aerobic classes which ever the winner might want.
Heather sat with her feet curled up underneath her on the love seat in Belle’s apartment. Running her fingers back and forth over one of the items. “Can you believe this?” Holding out her arm, she modeled the emerald and diamond tennis bracelet that the Salem Place jewelry store had donated. “It’s fabulous. I think I might even bid on this item.” The stones flashed fire underneath the lamp as Cass leaned over to take a look.
“It is pretty. But I still am partial to my rubies.” She touched a small hand to her earlobe, where the pretty red stones glittered. “I can’t believe we have all of these items waiting to be tagged. Have you decided how you want to lay out the room Belle?”
Belle came back to join her friends as she brought in drinks and brownies on a tray. A bowl of salsa nad chips were already on the coffee table. “Well I thought about having the auction be called the Mistletoe Market. It’s got a cute ring to it and it would tie in to our theme. The band will be set up on the stage area with the dance floor in the front and middle of the ball room. The Christmas trees will be on display all around the ball room and out in the foyer and even in the adjacent room where the silent auction will be held”
“I thought we could have several of the larger items place around the entrance way, like those two big lighted Nutcrackers, and the doll house that the Habitat for Humanity team workers built from their left over lumber.” Picking up one of her folders. Belle opened it. “Here’s a picture of it. This is just so precious. It’s not anything like my Barbie dream house when I was a little girl. This is a full scale doll mansion with three floors and furniture too. Some little girl is going to be very happy with this prize.” The other women ooohh and awwwed over the color photograph of the doll house.
Picking up her ongoing lists, Belle turned her pages back to the front on her legal pad. “Here it is. We have a total of fifteen trees that will be auctioned off “live” close to the end of the night. There will be ten big trees like the ones to go in your home or office. The other five trees will be small table top size like three feet high.” Measuring with her hands, Belle turned to look about her. “What do you think?”
Kim reached for a glass as she picked up her list where she had written her notes down. “We have designers for every tree but one. It’s one of the larger trees. Does anyone know of anybody we could get at this late notice to decorate it?”
Cass crossed her legs, her small face turned up smiling. “Well I have a suggestion. Since we are having the gala so the hospital can use the money for the children’s wing, why not have a tree with toys on it? Maybe some rich couple would buy it and donate the Christmas toys to the children that are in the hospital.”
Heather snapped her fingers. “Have you even asked ABC Toys or Toys For You and Me to donate any items Belle? You know someone maybe looking for a really cool toy for Christmas for their child.”
Belle paced the room, her mind already at work on the idea. “You know that would be wonderful if we could do that. I’ll make a note to go over to the mall tomorrow and see if we can get any donations.” Peering out the window, Belle sighed. The forecast had called for clouds today, but the rain had started. She was still hoping for some snow before the party. “That’s a really good idea. I’m glad you thought of it. All of the other trees have themes ranging from Santas, to snowmen, Nativity scenes, nature and birds, sports related decorations and even a tree with a New Year’s theme.”
“It sounds like you have everything covered Belle. I can’t wait. I finally found the dress I want to wear.” Cass settled back down with her own lists. “The caterers will have everything set up in the side room for the heavy hors d’oeuvres and the dessert trays. The soft drinks and wine will be set up in three locations. One table in the auction room, one in the main ballroom, and the last table in the side room with the food.”
Turning the page, Cass pushed back her hair as she looked back at her notes. “A cash bar will also be set up at the back of the ballroom. And the decorations are ready to be hung. I have got a service club from Salem High School that needs some community hours, and the guys are going to help me put up the decorations starting the Wednesday before the gala.”
Smiling at her friends, Belle was happy. “It’s all coming together just liked I hoped it would. I could never have done it without all of your help.”
“Hey Belle, can I ask you something?” Kim was slowly dipping salsa on her plate to go with the chips. “Why didn’t you ask that hunk of a boyfriend that you’re dating, band to play at the party? I know they’re good.”
Cass and Heather helped themselves to the refreshments as Belle sat back down to join them. “Well, it’s like this. I want to be able to dance sometime during the evening. If Shawn and Pride are playing, then I wouldn’t have a dance partner. And I want to dance real slow under the white lights with him.”
Leaning back in the chaise lounge chair, Belle twirled her hair around her finger as she spoke. “Brady is going to close Black Jack’s for that one night. He wanted to come to the party and hopefully he’ll buy something too.”
“Is he still dating Melissa?” Heather had been out of the state with her job, and had missed the latest news in town. Wanting to catch up, she had been talking with the girls in her office and found out that Brady had finally settled down with one woman. “I thought he was going to play the field forever.”
Belle smiled at the thought of her big brother dating one woman. ‘Well it is surprising to us too. Mom asked if she needed to go ahead and make reservations for a rehearsal dinner at Tuscany’s and Brady turned four shades of red. But get this, he didn’t deny it or anything. So maybe Mel’s the one for him. She’s really sweet.”
Heather sighed. Since Belle had introduced her to Steve, one of the Pride’s band members, she had been dating him steadily too. “Isn’t love grand?” She asked to no one in particular. Kim threw the sofa cushion at her head as she replied. “Well I still don’t have a date yet. But I do have my dress.”
“That’s Kim, always planning ahead.” The good natured laughter quieted down as Belle spoke. “Well you know, Kim, Shawn wanted to introduce you to his cousin that is going to be in town. His name is Andrew Donovan.”
Kim perked up at that news. She was always ready for a good time. “Is he cute? What does he do? Does he live here in Salem?” Her rapid fire questions were hurriedly asked.
Laughing again, Belle told her all that she knew. “He’s coming in to town this week and stay, I think through the holidays. Shawn said he was an insurance fraud investigator. Shawn said he was just about as tall as he was and had dark hair too. Sorry, Kimbo, that’s all I know sweetie.”
Kim sighed as she started dreaming. “That’s OK. I’ll be glad to go with him. Tell Shawn to go ahead and set it up Belle.”
The women settled down to finish working on the auction items. Cass began to clip the triplicate bid sheets on the tiny silver clip boards that Belle and Olivia had spray painted one afternoon. Heather tied sparkling silver bow to through the hole of the clip board as Kim attached the silver pens. The auction items and opening bids had been decided and this part of the event was set. Placing everything back in the large box, the bid sheets were ready to go.
Belle had finished writing the sponsors name, the decorators name and the Christmas themes of the trees on the white boards that would be placed in front of each tree. Kim attached the silver and star ribbon to the tops of them with the hot glue gun. Standing back, as Heather held one of them up, the women agreed that it looked pretty. Belle had asked Salem University’s Art Department if she could borrow display stands for the boards to be placed in front of the trees. The college had even agreed to deliver them to the ballroom the Wednesday before the event.
The night grew late as the women talked about the dresses each had chosen and how they were going to fix their hair for the big night. Excitement filled them as they each left and went their separate ways. Closing the door, Belle leaned back against it and sighed. She was just so happy that everything was falling into place. She really hoped they made a lot of money for the hospital. The countdown had started. They had less than a month to go until the big night arrived.
The British Airways jet touched down at JFK Airport as the brakes whistled on the tarmac as the wheels bounced once and began their slow steady roll to the terminal. The speed decreased as the big white jet with the blue and red markings came to a stop at the unloading dock. The instant before the jet’s props quit rotating, the ground crew had started its job of chalking the wheels, unloading the baggage, removing the waste, and making sure everything else ran smoothly. The door above opened to admit the passengers into the terminal as the race to ready the plane again for its next trip was under way. As passengers unloaded, it was just another ordinary day.
The man was indistinguishable as he hooked the strap of his duffle over his shoulder. The well-worn jeans stretched with him as he reached above to grab his Squall jacket from the overhead compartment. The air overseas had been nippy, but here he was, back on good old US of A soil. Well almost, he qualified to himself. He was ready to count the airport customs area as back home. Hoping that it wouldn’t take all day to make it through the check point, he went ahead and made his contact. Holding his cell phone against his cheek, the call went through.
“I’m waiting for my baggage before I go through Customs. I’ll call again after I pick up my keys. You did reserve me a car to drive?”
Listening to the other end of the conversation, he waited patiently as his luggage came by. Grabbing his two bags, he made his way to the long line. He could almost taste his freedom. Checking his watch, he went ahead and set the time. With the five-hour difference, he still had plenty of daylight left to start his mission. Humming to himself, he smiled. Almost time and then he would head for the open streets and then his personal agenda would begin.
What began as an ordinary day, was quickly turning into a disaster of major proportions. The fast paced cherry red Triumph Spitfire had turned the corner on two wheels, speeding away from its mark. The man giving chase was gaining on the convertible when the car shot up the down ramp of Interstate 68 and turned toward the state highway. Grimacing at this new development, while praying that they wouldn’t meet any oncoming traffic, he quickly radioed in his position, giving the coordinates as he flew up and over the curb. Landing hard, he felt the jarring painfully, as he glanced to the left.
He could see the Spitfire in the distance, the tail lights glowing as it moved further away. Turning the wheel in that direction, he set off after his adversary. The need for speed was there at his fingertips as the powerful machine answered. The cat and mouse chase had been going on for twenty minutes since he had reported the murder of the large man at the warehouse. The only eye witness that could actually connect Dimera to the tunnel was now dead.
Following a hunch that the man would call Dimera after he was released, he had personally set up a stake out. His hunch had been right, but now he wished that he had called for back up at the time. But he wanted to be a hero and bring in the bad guy. But his adversary had been quicker, and the chase was on. But this Dimera hadn’t bested him yet. This was one time, the good guys were going too win!
Speeding faster than the posted sign, he ignored the blue lights that took off after him. He was on a mission and it was time for the calvary to rally, regardless if they were after him or the driver up ahead. Hoping that the boys in blue had got the message he had radioed in earlier, he increased the throttle. The speed vibrating the seat beneath him as he fish-tailed down the state highway.
As he gained on the Spitfire, he knew he was in range. Flipping the mechanism on the handlebar, the latest ISA weapon was now loaded and ready to fire. The silver cylinder was deployed, the open end of a barrel was visible, as the onboard computer lined up the sight. Pressing the trigger, the weapon fired as the target was hit. Slowing automatically, he watched as the explosion came only a second later. Within a millisecond, the tire was blown, the small car veered to the side as the driver tried to straighten out the slide. The scorching smell of burned rubber, the screeching of the other three tires as they tried to stay on the pavement, and the whine of the powerful motor as it turned over was flashed back to the man in an instant. And the next moment it was over as the car overturned, the wheels off balance, as it slammed into the guard rail. Metal screamed, paint was scraped and the eerie silence of nothing was left.
The man slowed down, the accident smoking as the first flames flickered. Getting off of the motorcycle, Shawn hurried over to the wreck. He saw the man first, pitched sideways against the door panel, shadowed by the flames. He wrenched the door open, as the heat from the fire increased. With a powerful yank, the unconscious man tumbled to the ground. Lifting him under his arms, he backed away from the wreck as the first Salem Police cruiser drove up.
He was sweating from the flames as the gas tank exploded. Debris rained down on the crouching officers as they hid behind the cruiser’s doors. The blast had knocked Shawn flat, his 9mm Berrata thrown away from him in the fall. The officer quickly kicked it away as he drew his own weapon on the two men on the ground.
Raising up his head, Shawn fought to shake off the dizziness in his head, as he heard the policeman say, “Keep your hands out front where I can see them!” The order was barked, the voice low and steady, as Shawn complied.
“Look. I’m a cop too. My badge is in my back pocket. Commander Roman Brady is my uncle. Call him if you need too.” Shawn raised his dark head, a streak of blood trickled down his face.
“Better yet, go ahead and call him. Tell him we have King in custody.”
Nodding at the other body that was slowly moving, Shawn sat up. With one eye on the rookie holding the police issued gun, he watched as Robert Erskine Xavier Dimera, a.k.a. Dr. King from Salem University, became aware of his circumstances all at the same time.
“You aren’t going anywhere Dimera. I have it on the surveillance tape, the murder of one victim, identified as Perry Adams, at 1400.”
Shawn got to his feet as the officer in charge handed him back his wallet and gun. The sirens screaming down the highway alerted them that more company was on its way. Shawn hoped that it would be his uncle. He wanted to get Dimera behind bars fast.
As he watched the ambulance and the other unmarked cars pull to the side of the road, he glanced back and met the cold, hard blue eyes of the assassin that he had been chasing all of his adult life. Meeting the unflinching stare, Shawn continued until the EMT bent down to look at his own face.
Roman Brady had called John and Bo as soon as he had gotten the message from Shawn. They were only minutes behind the police officers, arriving and watching as Dimera was attended. “He doesn’t look much like a hardened assassin right now.” Bo said as he stood and watched the medics at work.
John was staring, his eyebrow raised as he met the eyes below the white bandage that was being wrapped around the blond hair. “I wouldn’t trust him with a ten-foot pole. He’s sicker than most criminals. I’m surprised we don’t smell his stench across this area.”
Bo smirked at that last little bit. “All I smell is the faint odor of the burned rubber. Looks like that car exploded quickly. Wonder what caused the accident?”
Shawn walked across the street to join his father and John. Hearing the tale end of their conversation, he joined in. “I shot out his right rear tire. He wasn’t expecting it with me riding my motorcycle. The tire blew and threw him in a spin. Evidently, Dimera hit the gas pedal with his foot, and the momentum turned him over.”
Roman came over to gather Shawn’s report. Hearing the tale once more, Roman dispatched an officer to go pick up the surveillance tape. “I want to nail this bastard tonight. For Eric’s murder and all the others.”
John placed his hand on Roman’s shoulder, offering support, as he turned to look at the man as he was placed under arrest. With the handcuffs snapped around his bound wrists, he slumped over as he was placed in the police car. Slamming the door, Bo peered in through the window.
“I just want to get a good look at the Son of a Bitch who destroyed my life, my son’s life, and the life of a special woman.”
Rex Dimera sneered as he raised his head. The blond hair escaping the bandage, was matted with blood. The chilling blue gaze heated with hatred. “I’ll kill your son before it’s over with. When he least expects it, I’ll be there or one of my employees will do the job for me.” Laughing, he leaned back against the seat, smiling as the car drove off.
“Well that is one more Bastard.” Roman held his hand out for Shawn’s weapon. “I need to take this in for ballistics to test. Is this the weapon your fired?” Craning his head to the side, he studied his nephew.
Shaking his head no, Shawn moved over to point out the hidden weapon on his motorcycle. “That’s ingenious. Whoever thought of placing it there?” John was fascinated with the ISA invention. “I haven’t had a new toy in a long time.”
Bo snickered at that as he ran his palm over the sleek fender of the bike. Looking over at Shawn, he said, “Even I didn’t know you had this toy as John puts it. Did Shane hook you up with this new model?”
Grinning like a child on Christmas morning, Shawn began an elaborate discussion of show and tell on all the gizmos and gadgets that his motorcycle carried. Not only did it carry the automatic weaponry, it had the latest in G.P.S. tracking, could be used for depth finding over water, and also had the requisite eject button with attached parachute. Roman finally broke up the group as they had to head back into Salem.
Giving the department time to book Dimera, Roman knew that Shane would be arriving before dinner with the ISA case files that would seal his fate. Now the only questions would finally be answered. Why had the Dimeras had it in for the Bradys all of this time?
After checking in through Customs, Andrew Donovan went to retrieve the car that the ISA had provided. While in the desert, he had been driving a sand-colored camouflaged Hummer. With the flat dry sand and the rocky terrain, they had been the most practical. Hoping for a newer model of a SUV, which he had been reading about on the trip home, he was disappointed when he picked up the keys to a Ford Taurus that he had been assigned. The inconspicious car was a muted gold, the dirt alongside the bottom of the doors, hiding the nondescript color. As he loaded his baggage, he carefully watched to see if anyone suspicious was checking up on him. As far as he knew, no one from the Dimera organization knew he was on duty. He had kept a low profile when working overseas, and had been absent when his Father had spoken with the monarch of the country that Rex Dimer was going to be crowned the ruler of two weeks previously.
He liked the idea of undercover work. The need for secrecy, the joining in to fight for a cause, the kick-ass feeling when the ISA scored and ended an operation, but it had its drawbacks. He never had any free time to meet a woman, well except for the kind who only wanted one thing. Shawn had kept him updated on his romance with Belle Black. Since their paths had crossed again, the overall picture had turned serious. It looked like his cousin would be getting married to the love of his life after all. Just like fate.
He was glad that things were looking up for his cousin. After all that Shawn had been through, the separation over the years, the empty hours without his friends, and growing up without his family, had to have been hard. Shawn deserved to have some happiness. As Andrew adjusted the seat and the mirrors, he wondered if this Belle Black had any friends he could meet. Since he was going to be around until the New Year, maybe he could meet some nice women, get into a causal affair. While spending some of the long hot nights under the arid skies, he had dreamed of going out on a few dates and finding some romance of his own.
Starting his motor, Andrew was glad that this older model vehicle still turned over. As the engine started, he was surprised when the signature ISA electronic system began operating. Leave it to his Dad to have all the bases covered. Shaking his head, Andrew smiled as he set the course for the interior states. As he blended in with the traffic flow, it took only a few moments of driving on the wrong side of the airport lanes, before Andrew remembered that Americans drove on the right side of the road. Narrowly missing a truck, he veered back on the right side of the street and out onto the expressway. It was time to get started. Operation Unity had reached the mainland and his part in the mission was about to begin.
Looking ahead he saw that his exchange was coming up. Moving aggressively, he switched lanes on the interstate until he could make the exit. The directions were easily read, the G.P.S. tracking system and computer-generated map were already installed in this vehicle. Following the map, Andrew soon was on his way toward Salem and to the end of the investigation. The sounds of New York faded as he drove further away as he made his own way into the heart of the operation.
The interrogation room was dimly lit as the man sat with his feet spread, his folded hands and arms pillowing his head as he looked around the room. How these simple cops thought they could arrest him, Rex Dimera, was ludicrous. After all, he had never been accosted before, he had always seen to the fact that their were never any witnesses left around to point a finger at him. Whatever the pesky Bradys had trumped up against him, would soon be handled when his lawyer arrived. Then he would walk away, Scott free. There was no way in hell that the Bradys had anything on him that would stick. Smiling to himself, Rex dreamed of the torture he would inflict on Shawn Brady when he got out. Then he could move on to Brady Black and the score would be even. His debt would be paid in triplicate.
Commander Roman Brady stood looking into the interrogation room through the two way glass. He was puzzled as to why this man had such hatred for all the Bradys. Why had he killed his son. Roman’s hands tightened on the Styrofoam cup that had held yet another round of sludge that Corporal on duty had brewed hours earlier. He had to keep his anger under control or else he would loose his edge. Whatever the reason was behind Eric’s death, the Salem P.D. would find it and Dimera would be prosecuted to the end. Turning his back on the window, he glanced up when the door opened.
His brother-in-law was escorted by his brother as they came inside. Bo was still wearing the rumpled flannel shirt and jeans he had on at the scene of the accident, while Shane was dressed smartly. The gray suit and red and black tie emphasizing his lean carriage. The dark head now had touches of gray at the temples as the weight of the ISA rested on his shoulders as the lead investigator.
Shane carried in with him a leather briefcase as he placed it on the desktop. It bulged from the sides, and Roman could only hope it carried the evidence they needed to put Dimera away for good. Bo and Shane and already started the preliminaries on the case, but Shane had the ultimate file that would secure Dimera’s fate. Clasping his hand on Roman’s shoulder, Shane offered his support with gestures.
“So the Bastard has been finally caught. You will soon know exactly why he has had it in for our family for so long.” The English accent was soft, as Shane took his own look into the room beyond the glass. “The reasoning behind it was pitiful. But I’ll explain later. You know, I expected him to be a bigger man than that.”
Bo stuffed his hands in his pockets as he took his own look inside. “Well he has already threatened Shawn again. He’s the same Bastard that went after him all those years ago when Shawn went into the Witness Protection Program. It was a good thing that he was recruited by the ISA since he was the one who nailed him.”
Shane paced back to the desk to open up his files. He had amassed a huge folder on the man with aliases a mile long. “Do either of you know why Dimera has had it in for our family?” The question was posed to the brothers as Shane took out his folded glasses and adjusted them to his face. “Roman, I know you remember when I killed Stephano ten years ago?”
At his nod, Shane continued. “It turns out that his grandson was hiding in the room behind the tapestry that covered a secret doorway. We missed that on our initial search.” Tapping his finger on the file, he glanced up at his family.
“Stepahno’s had two sons, Count Anthony Dimera and Andre Dimera. Andre was the younger of the two sons and was always jealous of his older brother. Anthony, or Tony as he was called most often, was genuinely liked by the public. He had a way of talking that kept you interested and he did much philanthropic work during his day.”
Bo interrupted, “Does that mean Tony is dead too?” He was trying to get the players all settled in his mind.
“Yes, he was murdered by his own brother because he was jealous. Andre took over Tony’s role in public, impersonating him even to Stephano. But, one day, Andre made a mistake and slipped up with his father. Stephano rejected him after he realized that he was a murderer. That he had taken Tony’s life and pretended that Andre had been killed in an avalanche at a Swiss Ski Resort. Stephano’s wrath was furious and he refuted all his claims on his inheritance.”
Roman sat down on the corner of the desk, nodding his head as he listened. “Was this around the time you killed Stephano?” He remembered the chase on the train as it headed East when he and Shane had been partners during their European assignments.
“Yes it was. It turns out Robert Erskine Xavier Dimera was Andre’s son and he had seen me kill Stephano. Andre had actually died from an illness and Rex, as his son was called, had finally told him about his grandfather. He wanted to get revenge on him by telling Stephano that he had finally broken into his Swiss accounts and had stolen everything. But Rex was too late. I shot Stephano and Rex lost his mind.”
Shane closed the folder that he had been studying. “He totally went berserk. Their must be some gene that was flawed within Andre and his son. Both of them were truly assassins in their own right. Rex began a psychological path of destruction, killing anyone that stood in his way. It didn’t matter if it was a small obstruction or large. He just got rid of it.”
Shane paced to the glass as he saw Dimera stand up. As he stretched, the rising Phoenix symbol was seen, tattooed on his back as his shirt tail came out of his pants. “The Phoenix was the crest of the family and Rex wanted revenge on anyone that had dealings with his father or grandfather.”
Turning to meet Roman’s eyes, Shane continued with his story. “Rex got it in his mind to kill the first born male from each family so the line would die of any of his families enemies. Andrew was not listed as my son, since in the ISA our histories are not given. So he moved on to you Roman, since you had been in on the investigation of Stephano. Rex had been watching the Bradys for awhile over here in the States. He had actually found some enjoyment with the baseball games over here.”
Bo stood up, himself now pacing. “And I bet he was at the stadium when Shawn was trying out for the farm team of the Cubs.” Shane nodded as he finished that part of the story.
“Shawn was a witness to a murder that Rex actually committed. In the past, he had paid his dominions to do the dirty work for him, but for some reason, he killed a man himself.” Opening the case files, he turned to the wrap sheet from Chicago. “Shawn was on his way home to get married, and the ISA had been watching Dimera, and they contacted you and Hope that night at your home, Bo.”
Bo tossed a dry erase marker against the wall as he turned around. “And our family was never the same again. I want Dimera to rot in hell for what he did to Hope. She was so totally beside herself, always wondering what happened to Shawn.”
Shane glanced over at Roman before he started again. He knew now that the details would hurt even more. “Rex found out that the boy trying out for the team was Roman’s nephew and that Eric was making a name for himself in the world of photography. Rex began an elaborate snare to rid himself of the Bradys’ firstborns for good. He got a job with Salem University under one of his many aliases. He actually planted the seed in the Dean’s ear to offer Eric a job back at the college so he could return.”
Roman clinched his fists, as his jaw tightened. “Rex, now known as Dr. King, befriended Eric on his return to the campus, and learned his schedule. By following him around and adjusting to his routine with Brady and Greta at Black Jack’s, he knew that it would only be a matter of time and he could commit murder again.”
Loosening his tie, Shane poured Roman a cup of the coffee. “Here Roman, wash the filthy bile from your mouth. I know you and I can tell it is not sitting well with you right now.”
Taking the luke-warm coffee, Roman chugged it down. “Thanks. I guess you do know me pretty well at that, Partner.”
“It took only a matter of waiting and Dr. King hired an underling to cut the brake line on Eric’s vehicle. It didn’t matter that he had his only child in the back seat. That was just one more Brady to be rid of to his way of thinking. Eric was driving in the storm and the flash flood took care of him.”
Bo rested his hand on Roman’s shoulder, feeling the tension coiled in the broad back and forearms. “We have him now, let the ISA handle it and nail him for life.”
Shane nodded. “We just need an exact location of the plutonium bomb that he has sent ahead of him. Andrew is following a lead on it and hopefully within the next twenty four hours, we’ll rap up this case.”
Hoping that his son was being careful, Shane knew that there was still a chance that the ISA might not be in time to save Salem and it’s residents. Keeping those details to himself, was for the best, at the moment. He didn’t want to start a panic if it could be helped.
Shawn Brady was excited. He was on his way to pick up his engagement ring for Belle. He had picked out the prettiest diamond he could find two weeks ago and had it placed within a particular setting. He knew that Belle’s eyes would be glowing in happiness that would only match the brilliance from the ring. He couldn’t wait to place his ring on her tiny finger. After all the time that they had spent together over the spring and summer, he knew that their lives would forever be intertwined. Wanting to make it official, he had alerted Greta to fix him up with a special basket for an evening picnic with foods that wouldn’t spoil if they by chance forgot to eat them. He was planning on asking Belle to be his bride this very night.
Now all he had to do was to arrange with Brady for Belle to have the evening off. And then Miss Black was in for the ride of her life. Maybe they would make it in the Mile High Club tonight. He was ready to try it and if he knew his Sunshine, she would be more that willing.
Whistling to himself, he stopped long enough to open up the tiny black velvet ring box, to glance inside again. His heart raced with longing as he snapped the lid shut. Tonight was the night!
Shawn Brady had checked the small jet, refueled it and even sprayed air freshener inside before he left to pick up Belle. The time it took to leave was filled with anxiety as he wondered if she would say yes to his proposal. He felt sure that she would, but there was always the chance she might say no.
Pulling up in front of her apartment building he was eager for the night to begin. After ringing her doorbell, he ran a hand through his dark hair once more as the door opened. There she stood, his Sunshine, adorned in a soft buttercup sweater and gray slacks. Around her neck she wore a silver filigree heart necklace that took his breath.
Lifting his hand he picked up the delicate chain and brought the heart to his lips. After the kiss he returned the treasure and met her glistening blue eyes. “You kept it after all these years.” His soft voice was filled with wonder, filled with hope too, as he held her hand in his.
Nodding, Belle drew him inside the apartment. “Of course I kept it Shawn. You gave it to me the Christmas before our wedding date. You told me the filigree threads made up your thoughts of me and the heart itself was your love. I wore it up until a few years ago, and I put it away.”
Taking it in her own hand, Belle sighed. “I thought it was time for it to be brought out again.” She tilted her face to be kissed as Shawn obliged her. His lips took hers in a gentle offering. Sipping from the bouquet, he deepened the kiss as he angled his head for a better measure. Sampling the soft bottom lip, he nipped it with his teeth, feeling the texture as her mouth heated under his. Gathering Belle into his arms, he twirled her around until her back was braced against the door.
His mouth mapped out a path down her neck until he reached the rolled turtleneck collar of her sweater. Frustrated with the barrier, he started to raise the hem of her sweater when he stopped. Leaning his forehead against Belle’s, he sighed.
“Sunshine, I have the whole night planned. I think it’s best if we go ahead and leave now, while I am still willing to let you escape.”
Belle giggled as she reached up to wipe her honey colored lipstick from his top lip. Tracing her fingernail down his chin, Belle agreed. “That’s fine Shawn, but the other options sound good too.”
“Come on while I still have my sanity.” He propelled her out the door, returning to lock it as he grabbed her by the hand. “I’m glad you took my advice and wore sensible shoes.”
Belle pulled on her jacket as they went outside. “I can’t wait to ride on your motorcycle Shawn.” She waited as Shawn strapped on her helmet before straddling the seat. She scooted closer on the narrow seat, her hips snuggled up to his as Shawn closed his eyes. He could feel the imprint of her aroused breasts through both of their jackets. He could just imagine how her breasts would look at the moment, the rosy tips beaded as he rubbed them between his thumbs and forefingers and the succulent flesh flushed with passion as he bent to take one crested mound within his mouth. God, she was killing him with just a thought tonight and she probably didn’t even know it. He hoped he could wait until they were up in the sky before his passion sent him over the edge. Speeding up, he arrived at the hanger in record time.
The jet took off smoothly, the sky darkening as the lights from Salem below glowed. Shawn lifted the nose into the air and began the radioed in his flight pattern. Glancing over at Belle, he could tell from her exclamations that she had never sat in the co-pilots chair. The view from this angle was far different from the passenger seats, especially since the view was from a personal craft and not a commercial jetliner.
Belle oohhed and aaahhhed as he maneuvered to a cruising altitude. The stars were starting to shine as they reflected off of the tinted windows. Shawn pointed out the rising Big Dipper as he followed the bowl and flew up the handle to the North Star.
Belle was astonished at the beauty she could find in the sky at night. The view was so different from when she had looked up from the ground. Shawn and Belle had spent many nights at Lookout Point stargazing and making out when they were teenagers. As a boy, Shawn had been taught the pattern of the stars for navigational purposes and in turn taught Belle as they snuggled on an old quilt and watched meteorite showers during the summer months.
The sky was so vast, the stars were glittering dots with sharper points that did indeed made them look like the stars she was used to seeing on paper. As Shawn settled into a holding circling flight, he set the auto pilot, and turned in his seat to Belle.
Looking deeply into the sparkling blue eyes, he knew the moment had arrived. Pretending to need the papers inside the compartment next to Belle, he asked her to reach them for him. As Belle opened the small door, her eyes popped wide open as she lifted the small black velvet box out. Holding it in her tiny hand, she waited just looking at the outside and running her finger over the smooth domed top.
Shawn reached out his hand to take the box that held the important gift inside. He waited until Belle finally raised her eyes to meet his. “Sunshine, do you remember when we were in high school and we went on the trip to Puerto Rico?” He used his palm to cuddle her cheek as she nodded.
“I remember everything about that trip Shawn.” Her voice was sweet and soft, her eyes dewy with tears. “I think I begin to fall in love with you even then.”
Taking her left hand in his right hand, Shawn caressed the back of her fingers with his thumb. “I did too Belle. I promised you the moon, the stars and someday that night on the beach.” Letting go of her hand, he opened the tiny box. Inside nestled on the black velvet was a round diamond solitaire. Six baguette diamonds danced around the center stone. Taking it in his large hand, Shawn slipped it on her left ring finger.
“I had this made especially for you Belle. I wanted to give you the stars tonight and always. This ring symbolizes my love for you, my dreams of a life with you, and the promise of the years to come. Will you take it and be my wife?”
Tears ran down Belle’s cheeks as she leaned across the seat to latch onto Shawn’s neck. Her slender arms held him close to her as she whispered her yeses into his ear. Leaning back she brushed the hair off of his forehead as he lowered his mouth to hers.
The first kiss as an engaged couple was more endearing to him than he had thought possible. “I hope you like it Belle. I wanted to compete with the stars themselves and let you see that your ring shines just as brightly as they do here in the sky.” His hand pointed out the twinkling stars all around them as Belle admired her left hand.
“It’s simply beautiful Shawn. I can’t wait until the girls see it. I’m meeting Heather, Kim and Cass tomorrow for lunch so we can discuss the gala. Won’t they be in for a surprise?”
Shawn chuckled as he kissed her fingers, his lips teasing her as he cupped her face again. “How about we inside to the cabin and celebrate with the champagne I packed tonight?”
Belle looked dubiously at the controls as Shawn unbuckled his seat belt and arose. “Shawn is it safe? Will this jet fly by itself? Are you sure?” Belle’s questions were coming right on top of each other as she hesitated in following Shawn back to the main cabin.
Unsnapping the seat belt himself, Shawn took her hand to help Belle stand up. “I promise Sunshine. It’s OK to leave the controls for a little while. I have the auto pilot set and I want to express my love to you in a more comfortable place.” He bobbed his eyebrows up and down as he tilted his head in the direction of the bed at the back of the cabin. Licking his bottom lip, he watched as Belle made up her mind.
Her fingers began to eagerly unbutton his shirt, already slipping inside to find the warm skin, as Shawn pulled her onto the bed. As they tumbled over the covers, his fingers found their way beneath her yellow sweater, freeing her breasts from the bra.
Shawn sighed with pleasure at the first touch of her firm flesh, the nipples hardening against his fingertips. Raising up, he pulled the sweater over her head as he flung his shirt in the corner. It was time to get down to some serious loving.
The lights were set on dim, casting a romantic glow over the room, as Shawn carried Belle toward the bed. The strains of the soft strings and piano music of Chopin came through the speakers set strategically in the corners of the cabin, as Shawn placed Belle on top of the spread. He sighed her name as he took her hand is his and raised her new ring to his lips. Bestowing a kiss on it, he promised to fulfill all of her dreams and desires for the rest of their lives. Acknowledging the promise and making one of her own, Belle knew that they would never be separated again. Slowly, taking their time, the lovers reacquainted themselves as the jet followed the circular pattern in the night sky.
The gentle caress of a hand as it roamed over warm skin was just the beginning for the lovers on this most important night. Cupping her shoulders within his hands, Shawn gazed at the woman of his dreams. After all of this time apart, finally they were pledging their life together. Forget that it was only the two of them tonight, alone among the stars. The words that they had shared were just as binding to him as if they had indeed stood up at the front of St. Luke’s Cathedral and spoken their vows in front of their families and the multitude of people he knew for a fact that would be invited by his mother and Belle’s, when they finally celebrated their nuptials.
With the tip of his finger he gently brushed aside the strand of golden hair that had covered her face. Lowering his head, he began to slowly sip and savor the moist recesses of her mouth. His white teeth nipped her bottom lip, grazing the tender flesh and soothing it with his tongue. Tracing a pattern that he alone knew, Shawn mapped out a course of his own design as he sighed into the kiss. Delving in between her succulent pink lips, Shawn found as answering need as Belle tipped up her head to deepen the kiss herself. Using her own tongue, she seduced Shawn as they stretched out side by side. Belle twined her arms around Shawn’s back, feeling the smooth muscles bunch inside of his shirt as she let her fingers slide under the material. Finding the hem, she leaned back enough to raise the shirttail as Shawn reluctantly ended the kiss.
Taking the polo shirt off, Belle’s hand glided up his chest, her lips trailing after the material to sink her teeth into his shoulder. Feeling the heat stir in his chest, Shawn growled low in his throat as felt her cool hands heat along his ribs. Electric currents raced down his spine to burn in his groin when Belle let one hand slide down to grip his back side, tracing the firm hip and glut muscles, as she nipped his Adam’s apple.
Feeling rocked to the core, Shawn growled again, as Belle needed no encouragement to continue to torment him. As her hand traced the hard ridge in his jeans, Belle smiled up into the dark heat. She could feel him expanding, lengthening, and wanting to feel the erection herself, Belle opened the snap and slide her hand inside his boxers. Feeling the silky throbbing against her palm, was just making her want him even more. Rubbing the single drop from his aroused tip, she swirled it around the head of his penis. Shawn jerked back, needing more of Belle as he rolled her onto her back.
Moving his hands, his thumbs brushed the underside of her breasts, lightly back and forth. The delicate attention caused her to bit her lip, holding in the moan that wanted to escape. Brushing the thumbs against her nipples once, then twice, had the desire flaming in her eyes. “Do you like this Belle?” Stroking one pebbled tip lightly, he knew for a fact that it wasn’t enough.
The moan came out low, “Yes, Shawn...please touch me.” Her whisper was ragged.
“Touch you where?” His shifting fingers danced back and forth, teasing but not satisfying her. “Is this where you want me to touch you?” One long finger curled under one tip, raising it up as he covered it with his thumb.
“Oh...yes...yes Shawn...More.” Belle arched her back, pushing her breast more firmly against him as he stroked and strummed his thumb along the throbbing ache. With one pinch on her breast, he took them to the dark side. Belle’s golden head fell back against the pillow, as searing pleasure burst within her. The ache that was building was centering between her legs as grabbed Shawn’s hand to place it where she needed touching. Feeling his palm cup her, she strained for release, but was denied it as he moved out of reach for the moment.
Shawn covered her with his body, sliding one leg between her thighs as his lips drifted down her cheek and found the soft spot between her neck and throat. Kissing and tracing his tongue over the sweet skin, Shawn felt Belle’s pulse race as her skin flushed with the rising passion. Raising up on one elbow, he smiled deeply into the cerulean blue eyes as he traced a finger over her breast. The tip became taunt at the teasing. Watching as Belle arched her back, silently begging for more, he lowered his dark head again.
This time was for her pleasure, as he leisurely traced a small circle around the areola with his tongue. Wanting to give her as much pleasure as he could, Shawn took both of her hands in his and raised them above her head. The forced position had Belle arching closer as Shawn gave her a smirk. His dark eyes danced with mischief as he took his time. Wetting one nipple with several soft laps, he blew hot puffs of air over it to dry it. Belle squirmed as Shawn returned to her breast and finally took the aroused tip into his mouth.
Suckling strongly, he nipped the tip with his teeth before taking it back in between his lips. Alternating the rhythm Shawn felt Belle lift her hips to meet his as he thrust downward. The anticipation of sinking into her warmth, had him finally drawing away from his feast.
Meeting his eyes once more, Belle lowered her hands and clasped them around Shawn. Mating her mouth with his, Belle felt more alive than she had ever been. The electric current that ran from her lips, to her breast, had set off bolts of lightening within her womb. The liquid pool had settled between her legs, attesting to the fact Shawn Brady had turned her into a puddle of mush. Thrusting against him, Belle was trying to encourage Shawn to take everything she was offering tonight right this minute.
Happiness had settled within Belle. She couldn’t wait to tell the whole of Salem the news, that she, Isabella Alamain Black and Shawn Douglas Brady were getting married. After all of this time, they were going to finally share their lives with each other. Forever. Taking her hand and pushing a wayward lock of hair back over his head, Belle smiled into the melted pools of milk chocolate. “I love you so much Shawn.” Kissing his lips, Belle followed the line of his throat as she nipped lower. Finding his own male nipple within the swirl of dark hair that covered it, Belle greedily feed with her own love bites. The moan that curled her toes had her smiling as she was rolled back over.
Shawn let his hand glide over her stomach, touching the flat area and teasing her navel with his fingertips. Heat radiated off of her skin as he traced a path with his lips along her cheek and down her neck. With his lips finding the spot behind her ear that he knew would send her curling against him, Shawn eased his fingers to the snap and zipper of her pants, unfastening them blindly as he continued his evasive maneuvers.
Slipping the gray pants down her silky legs, Shawn felt the dampness of her panties as he brushed up against them. The moist heat tempted his fingers as he grazed them on the hot flesh, but he restrained himself. Biting his lip, he finished taking off her pants before slipping his fingers under the lace that rested high on her leg. Teasing Belle, Shawn met her eyes before he pushed them down her legs.
Belle grasped his jeans and did her best to ease them down the narrow flanks. Her fingertips brushed the bulge that was more of a hindrance to her. The hot flesh pulsed with a life of it’s own as she finally got the jeans and silky black boxers past it. The rock hard penis was now hers as Belle held him in her hand. Cupping the balls as they drew closer to his body, she knelt down on the cover to take him within her mouth. The first dark tasted had her yearning for more as she opened wider to take as much in as she could. The salty taste was the beginning and after a few strokes of her tongue and hands, Shawn jerked away. A film of sweat covered his forehead, his chest rising up and down quickly, as he tried to get his self under control. Scooting away from the temptress, he waited as Belle slowly licked her lips all the while watching him.
Shawn felt the red hot haze of desire swirl over his eyes as he began his own private war. The need had grown until he was aching, needing to feel her close around him. Gathering Belle in his arms, they banded around her as he closed her eyes with his lips. Soon his hands were trailing down her body, reaching her core, to find that the need was burning here too. As he traced one finger along the damp cleft, Belle cried out his name. Wanting to hear it again, Shawn found the bud of her desire with his thumb as he manipulated it back and forth. Within a heartbeat, he felt the spasms roll against his two fingers as he thrust them inside the warmth. The convulsions were just the preliminary. As he lowered his mouth to her breast, he wanted to build the heat until the roaring fire would be as hot as the jet propulsion.
Belle’s body was vibrating with need, her heart racing, desperate to feel the pressure inside where she needed it the most. “Please Shawn...I need you...inside now!” Her desperate tone demanding as she tilted her hips in invitation. Her hands reached down to guide him as Shawn brushed her hands aside.
“Look at me Belle.” His own breath labored, he felt the satisfaction of sliding into the heat as their eyes met. With a single thrust he was buried to the hilt. She was so hot, and incredibly wet and tight. Stilling his body for a moment, he waited with bated breath until he felt Belle lift her hips as she rocked against him. With pounding heart, and powerful thrusts, Shawn gave Belle the ride of her life.
The need for speed was tenfold, as the two bodies crushed together as they met in the ancient rhythm of thrust and parry. Entering her again and again, Shawn ground his body on the down stroke, rubbing against the hard kernel that would send her into ecstasy. Lifting her hips with his hands, her level of arousal grew as he greedily feed off of her breasts. Taking one hard nipple in his lips, Shawn withdrew from her body to sink back inside. Suckling hard, he felt the contractions began as he thrust once more to shatter also.
The mind blowing pleasure burst within Belle. Flinging her head back, she felt the quakes inside rocket and shatter into millions of stars as they reached the pinnacle together. She felt like she had reached for the rainbow and slide down to the pot of gold. The quakes throbbed as Shawn’s hands stroked her. The fiery sunburst orgasm continued to roll inside them as the undulating waves of passion went on and on.
Collapsing and rolling to the Belle’s side, Shawn felt his body drain of all lucid thoughts. Burrowing his face in her hair, he panted hard, trying to catch his breath as he had forgotten about breathing at all when he had been inside Belle.
Soothing his palm down her face, he lifted her mouth to his. Breathing in her scent as it blended with his, he caressed her lips. As the world righted itself, their hearts quieting to a normal pace, Shawn’s eyes focused on her face.
“You are absolutely the most beautiful woman in the world, Sunshine.” His voice was ragged but full of love. “Marry me in December. I want us to start the New Year off as husband and wife.”
“I’ll be more than willing to make your wish come true. I love you Shawn Brady.” Sinking into the kiss, they settled down as the jet continued to speed through the stars.
The sun was headed down, flashing fire into his eyes, as he pulled the overhead flap down to help shield his vision. The rays were just below the visor, causing major problems for him. He still didn’t know the terrain. Too many detours from the road construction had been added since he had studied the last ISA pictures of this area.
He shivered as a blast of cold air rocked the ancient car as a 18-wheeler blew by him. What a time to be in Chicago, the Windy City! The air was bone chilling and as the wind howled, it sent fresh chills down his neck. But it was a glorious city and he wished that he had the time just to enjoy it. It was a town filled with many longings, hopes and dreams, and it was the home of the Cubs. Damn. He wished they would have made it to the Big Game. That would have been a hell of a Series to watch. Who cared about the Fish anyway?
Andrew Donovan held his hand up to help combat the dying rays of the day. Finally spotting the exit he was supposed to take, he was thankful that he would be heading in the opposite direction of the sun. He could take a break from squinting. Pushing his glasses up on his hair, he glanced in the rear view mirror. He would need to use some of that cream his Mom always relied on to make sure he didn’t have any “crow’s feet” before his big date with Shawn’s friend of a friend. How did he get suckered into accompanying these “women?” They usually turned out to be complete dogs, or else, they didn’t have the good sense they had been born with, to come in out of the rain. He hoped Shawn was being truthful this time, when he told him that his date was a really pretty girl.
It had been too long since he had been with a woman. And even longer since he had been on what he considered a “real date with a real woman.” The relationships he had tried with the other ISA agents had just never worked out. He wanted a woman with whom he could sit down, share a decent meal that didn’t consist of field rations and discuss matters other than how to load his M- 16 and if the ground-to-air missiles were ready to be launched. Sheesh! He had to get some action soon or he was going to be crazy. He couldn’t even remember the last time he had smelled perfume on a woman, other than the fumes from the diesels and smoke from the gunfire.
Andrew followed his current headings and soon picked up speed on the state highway. Without the blasted road signs shouting out “Fines tripled in the restricted areas” and every two-bit cop parked in the medians just waiting to catch a lead-footed driver, he was able to make up some of the lost time. Yawning, he rubbed his tired eyes. The time difference was beginning to catch up with him and Andrew knew that he needed to find a motel so that he could set up his equipment.
The local fare tended to run toward the usual chains, but since he wanted to keep a low profile, Andrew chose The Windy Weather Pane. The flashing neon sign suggested that it served the finest breakfast outside of Chicago. It wasn’t as crowded as the newer Holiday and Jamieson Inn’s, but it looked clean. Pulling into the lot, Andrew just wished for a tidy bed and a soft pillow.
After securing a room, he brought in his laptop and started working on the coordinates that his father had sent him. Shane had already been working on the case from his end during the course of the day. Since he had arrived in Salem the day before, and with the Brady brothers’ help, Shane was able to send Andrew the latest satellite photos of the current area. Having monitored the crates that had been brought into the country, Shane had pinpointed three possible choices in which the bomb might be hidden.
The ladies hovered over the table, all of their heads bent over examining something when Brady and Shawn walked into Black Jack’s bar area. They could hear tidbits of the conversations as the ladies talked and finished each other’s sentences. Brady smirked as he saw Shawn start to wonder over toward Belle.
Capturing her tiny hand in his, Shawn lifted it up to his mouth to buss her knuckles when the other women sighed loudly. “Isn’t that so romantic?” Kim sighed again as she picked up her legal pad of notes.
Cass smiled at the two lovers caught up in a warm embrace before they broke apart. “It’s nice to see Belle so happy again Shawn.”
Hugging the small woman close, Shawn smiled over her head. “Well you are all invited to our wedding. We’re going to celebrate the New Year in style.” His lips pressed up against her hair as Belle melted against him.
“It’s all taken care of Tough Boy. They are all my bridesmaids.” Laughing up at her future, Belle knew it would be a bright one. “I already know what I want the girls to wear and we’ve decided to make a weekend out of it after the Gala.”
“A weekend out of shopping?” Shawn was aghast at that. “I don’t have to go do I?”
Brady laughed outright as Shawn stepped away from Belle. “Of course not Shawn. But someone...” she poked one rosy pink nail into his chest, “... is in a rush for a wedding, and I have to find the perfect dress.”
“Whatever you choose will be perfect, Belle.” Kissing the upturned lips, he heard the catcalls of the men as they stood behind the bar.
Looking over at the two shaking their heads, Shawn knew he was busted. Love had caught up with him.
Brady and Wade Grills stood with their arms crossed over their chests watching the duo. Brady was happy that his little sister had found her soul mate and was planning a future with him. His best friend from high school, Wade, had joined in the celebration. Wade was a self-made entrepreneur. He had played off of his name and sold millions of portable grills and home appliances. By starting a catalog business after the internet became so commonplace, he had expanded his business until he was worth a hefty sum.
During his high school football days, Wade had his share of the girls as he had been a hero on the field. Brady and Wade had many friendly competitions with the cheerleaders and shared many double dates. The girls all seemed to like his 6'2 frame, blond hair that was burnished in the sun, and eyes that were as cool and green as the sea, but could turn stormy when riled. Brady had always teased him about his size since he topped him by two inches. He had been one of the wide receivers for the Salem Panthers and had been called Wide Wade. The coach had always urged the team to eat a lot of carbohydrates and to work out with the weights.
It wasn’t until the end of his high school days that he had become embarrassed by his weight gain. The principal couldn’t get a graduation robe to fit his body for the ceremony. The whole class, led by Brady, had not worn their blue and gold gowns either.
With a determined mind set, Wade began a life changing program. By eating healthy and working out, he had lost a hundred pounds and made a business out of his grills. The grills offered alternatives to frying foods and with his cooking show on the Salem cable channel, his name was now synonymous with healthy eating. Wade was proud of the fact and had been able to hold his head high at the class reunion a few years ago. Some of the old cheerleaders were now needing to eat better and had come into the store wanting advice. And he had turned a big profit in the end.
He had met his current girlfriend, Cass, when she had come into the store and Brady had later introduced her as one of Belle’s friends at Black Jack’s. She had asked him to donate one of his grills for the silent auction and after agreeing to it, Wade quickly asked her out. They had been steadily dating now for two months.
Belle turned toward Brady as she picked up her own yellow tablet. “Braid, is there anything pressing right now?” Watching him shake his head, Belle turned around back toward the office. “OK girls, come on. We’ve got to get the trees mapped out just in the perfect locations.” Kissing Shawn bye one more time, Belle and the women left the large room.
Walking over to the bar, Shawn rested his elbows on the hard oak as he leaned his head back. “She’s going to kill me before this is over.” Feeling Brady’s hand squeeze his shoulder, Shawn looked over at his soon to be brother-in-law. “Well what do you say? Do you want to be groomsmen?”