“Shawn, please tell me. Am I Belle Black?”
Shawn looked into her pleading eyes. He had warned Dr. Balfour that if Lil were to ask him this question that he would tell her the truth. The time had come. What was her reaction going to be?
“I…I believe that you are Belle…” his voice trailed away as he pulled his eyes away from her penetrating gaze.
“I sense a but in there, Shawn. I don’t understand. I’m either Belle Black or I’m not.”
Shawn heard the confusion in her voice. How can I possibly explain this without telling her anything about her past?
“Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, Lil. I believe that you are Belle, but I can’t prove it. Your fingerprints are not on file on any system that I’ve been able to access and trust me, I’ve tried everyone that exists. You don’t have any memory of who you are or where you came from. You have a vague recollection of being on your way to see the man that you love…”
Lil interrupted him excitedly. “For quite some time I’ve had the feeling that you are that man, Shawn. That proves it, I must be Belle.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him as hard as she could.
As much as he would love for her to keep thinking that way, Shawn knew that he had to dispel this illusion she had that all was right in their world.
He pulled her arms away and led her to the sofa. Her discarded dress draped on the chair a silent reminder of what had passed between them earlier that night.
“Let’s sit down, Lil…”
“Its okay, Shawn. You can call me Belle now.”
Shawn took her hands in his. “You have to let me explain. I think you’re jumping to conclusions here. You and I both have feelings that we knew each other in the past. In my heart, I feel that you are Belle, in your heart, you feel that I was the man you were coming to see, the man you love. But neither of us knows this for a fact.”
“It all makes sense to me now, Shawn. Now that I know that I am Belle…”
“Wait, you know that you are Belle? Has your memory returned?”
“No, I meant that I know I am Belle because that is what you said. Do you remember when you first questioned me and I told you that I was coming to see the man I loved?” she asked eagerly.
“I told you then that I had a feeling that we had been apart for a long time. You’ve been separated from Belle for several years. It all fits, Shawn. This is great. Tell me everything you know about my life as Belle. Where did I live? Where did I go to school? Did I have lots of friends? Oh my god, my family. Shawn, tell me about my family?”
Shawn looked into blue eyes that shone with happiness. He hated that he was going to have to hurt her yet again. Something he had promised he would never do. But, it couldn’t be helped. He had to make her understand that nothing was certain, that nothing had really changed. He was no closer to proving that she was Belle than he had been several weeks ago. Damn! I can’t tell her what I’m doing. If I tell her that, I’d have to tell her the entire story of her life and that’s the one thing I can’t do.
“Lil, listen to me.”
The harshness in his voice gave her pause. Something is not right. “I’m listening, Shawn.”
“Please understand that I’m not saying this to hurt you. I just have to tell you the facts. The fact is that I don’t know that you are Belle. The fact is you don’t know that I was the man you were coming to see. The fact is I can’t prove you’re Belle Black, at least, at this moment I can’t. The fact is your circumstances have not changed. Someone tried to kill you, whoever you are, and the persons responsible have not been apprehended. The fact is that you are still not safe.”
She knew that he hated to have to point all this out to her, she could see the hurt in his eyes. She was sure that he could see the same reflected in hers. “Why haven’t you called my family, Shawn? They would help you, I’m sure. I…I do have family, don’t I, Shawn?”
Shawn felt like he had been sucker punched dead centre to his gut. Oh god, this is going to hurt. “Belle has family, Lil. I’m not sure you do.”
She gasped. “But you think I’m Belle…”
“Yes, I think that, no one else does. And I…can’t…prove it. You need to grasp that concept, Lil. Just because we both feel it doesn’t make it so.”
She caressed his face and captured his pain filled eyes with her own. “It’s a start, Shawn. I will help you with your investigation. Together we can prove that I am Belle.”
“That’s funny you should offer your help, Lil.” Shawn remarked sarcastically. He watched as her eyes widened and her hand dropped from his face. “You were the one that slowed down my investigation by not allowing me access to the computer generated picture of you the research team came up with.”
He hated talking to her in that tone of voice but he had to do something before he gave in and told her everything. God, I wish we could work together Belle. You don’t know how much I hate keeping silent about what happened to you all those years ago.
She was growing more and more confused. She looked into his tortured eyes. Even through all the pain she could see the love there. “You can use the picture, Shawn. You have to understand how scared I was at the time. The thought of those animals coming back after me was more than I could bear. You and I both know that they would make sure I was dead if they got a second chance to finish what they started.”
He held her trembling body close to his. Of course she’s scared. He offered up a quick prayer asking for guidance. He had to make her understand that she shouldn’t think of herself as Belle. How in the hell am I going to convince her that she isn’t Belle when I’m convinced she is?
“Having a computer generated picture of what you looked like before your injuries isn’t going to help me prove that you’re Belle. I haven’t seen Belle in over seven years. People change as they age,” Shawn explained gently. “The picture would have been used in our investigation into your assault. You were right to be afraid. If word would have got back to the assailants they would have come after you again, I’m convinced of that.”
“Shawn, my family would know me, wouldn’t they. Just because I haven’t seen you in seven years that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen my family.”
He groaned. This is so difficult. “Lil, this is so much more complicated than you realise. I can’t tell you anything about Belle and her family. At least, not more than I’ve already said.”
“Why can’t you tell me, Shawn. I bet Dr. Balfour would think it could be helpful…” She noticed the expression that crossed his face when she mentioned the doctor’s name. She thought back to all the times that she had felt Dr. Balfour was keeping something from her.
“Dr. Balfour knows that you think I’m Belle, doesn’t she? She’s the reason you can’t tell me anything. Why?”
“She wants you to have your own memories and not be confused.”
“If you are Belle and you start having memories, she wants them to be true memories. Not memories that I could inadvertently have implanted in your mind,” Shawn said.
“I’m sure she’s wrong. I would know a real memory from something I was told.”
“Lil, I told you about my family, my mother…”
“Yes, she had amnesia. That madman you told me about brainwashed her into believing she was someone else. Right?”
“Right. I talked to her before I agreed to Dr. Balfour’s terms. My mom told me how very difficult it had been for her to separate her own real memories from what she had been told about herself by various family members. As much as I don’t like it, I think Dr. Balfour is right.”
“I’ll talk to her, Shawn. Maybe I can convince her to change her mind.”
“Lil, you’re talking about Dr. Balfour. She’s not going to change her mind. To be perfectly honest with you, I think she’s right. You have to remember on your own.”
She was beginning to get angry with him. Was he always this stubborn? “Just because you can’t tell me anything about my life as Belle doesn’t mean I can’t help you prove my identity, Shawn. What do you need me do?”
“Lil, you don’t understand. You can’t help me prove that you are Belle. In order to do that, I would have to tell you what happened to her.”
“Something happened to Belle? What?” she questioned sharply.
Jesus. How had he let that slip? “Nothing, Lil. I just meant that I would have to tell you everything that I know happened in Belle’s life.”
What aren’t you saying, Shawn? I hear everything but I still have this feeling that you’re holding back. “I understand more than you think, Shawn.”
She got up and went to stand in front of the windows. She stared out noticing that the rain clouds had moved out and the night sky was making way for the early morning dawn. She turned back to face him.
“I understand that I love you. I understand that we almost made love tonight. I understand that I was willing to give myself to you body and soul. I understand that I will love you forever, no matter what road life takes me down. That is what I understand.”
Shawn cupped her face in his hands. “I love you, too.” He bent his head to capture her lips and was surprised when she pulled back.
“Who do you love, Shawn?”
It was his turn to be confused. “What do you mean, who do I love? I love you.” Shawn reached to take her into his arms but she stepped away from him.
“How long have you felt that I am Belle?”
“Since they moved you down to the room in the research area. When I found you, your hair was brown. The doctors told me you had been wearing a wig and coloured contact lenses. That’s when I first let myself think that you might be Belle. Subconsciously, probably when I found you on the side of the road. We connected even at that point. I could hear you even though you couldn’t speak.”
“I heard you as well, Shawn. Basically, you’re telling me that you’ve been wondering if I’m Belle since that night.”
“Or soon there after. Yes.”
“You love Belle.” Lil stood and stared at him.
He reached for her again but she shook her head. He dropped his arms. “I love you. I don’t know what else I can do to convince you of that.”
“Just tell me that you love me. That you will love me no matter who I turn out to be. That you will love me even if I am not Belle Black.”
“That’s easy.” He held her close. “I love you.”
She leaned back in his arms. “Shawn, tell me you love me again. I need to hear you say I love you, Lil.”
“I love you. You have to believe that.” I can’t say what she wants me to say. I would be betraying my love for her, for Belle. Doesn’t she understand that?
She pulled out of his arms. “I believe that you love Belle. I believe that you sincerely feel that I am Belle. What I don’t know Shawn, is what you will feel if I’m not who you think I am.”
She looked at the clock on the mantelpiece. “It’s time for me to shower and dress. We need to leave for the hospital in a half hour. I’ll meet you downstairs.”
“Lil…” He watched as she made her way to her room. Why did she have to ask me that? Why don’t they all understand that I know who she is? She is Isabella Black. She can’t be anyone else, she just can’t.
The drive to the hospital was silent. Shawn had tried to speak to her but she had told him that she needed to think. He got her to the hospital on time. He waited until she had changed into her hospital gown and the nurses had done their pre-surgery exam.
She looked up at him as he entered the room.
“Are you comfortable, Lil? Is there anything I can get for you? Anything I can do?”
“Yes, Shawn. There’s something you can do for me.”
Finally, she’s coming around.
“Sure, anything. What can I do?”
“You can leave this hospital room and not come back until ask I for you. If I don’t ask for you that means I don’t want you to come back at all.”
Shawn looked at her. He knew from the coldness of her voice and the icy look in her blue eyes that she was dead serious.
“Lil. Please. We have to talk about this,” he softly pleaded.
She softened when she heard the remorsefulness in his voice and glimpsed the sorrow in his eyes. But she couldn’t give in, wouldn’t give in. “I mean it, Shawn. I want you to leave. When I’m ready to talk about this, I’ll send for you. Go now…please.”
She turned her head away from him so she wouldn’t have to watch him leave the room. She also didn’t want him to see the tears that fell from her eyes when she heard the forlorn sound of the door clicking shut.
Sacred Heart Medical Centre July 1, 2010 8am
Andrew was surprised to see Shawn slumped in a chair inside his office when he arrived.
“Hey, Shawn. Good to see you.” Andrew greeted him.
Andrew was slightly put out when he didn’t get any response. He glanced over at his cousin and noticed his position hadn’t changed.
“Shawn?” he spoke. Still no reply. He walked over to the chair and placed his hand on his cousin’s shoulder and shook. “Shawn?”
Shawn looked up and blinked.
Andrew was taken aback by the look of utter desolation he could see in his cousin’s red-rimmed eyes. “Did something happen to Lil…to Belle, Shawn?”
Shawn just stared at Andrew.
Andrew’s concern grew as Shawn’s silence continued. “Shawn, what’s wrong? Talk to me.”
Andrew shook Shawn again. “You’re scaring me, Shawn. Tell me what happened.”
“Hello to you as well, Shawn. Although I’ve been trying to get your attention for the past five minutes.” Andrew watched closely as Shawn rose from the chair and swept his hand through his hair.
“I guess I was preoccupied. Sorry, Andrew. Did you ask me something?”
“Shawn, what’s wrong?”
“Wrong. Nothing really, Andrew. Nothing for you to concern yourself with.”
Shawn’s responses were completely void of emotion. “Bullshit, cuz. Don’t pull that crap with me. I know you, Shawn. I know that something is wrong. And by the way, you look like hell.”
“Nice of you to notice and point it out, as well. I’ve been up all night.”
Andrew looked into Shawn’s eyes and knew that now was not the time to make the obvious jokes about what he had been doing all night. “Come on, Shawn. Go throw some water on your face and run a comb through that’s rat’s nest you call hair and I’ll buy you breakfast.”
“I’m not in the mood…”
Andrew interrupted. “Don’t argue with me, Shawn.”
Shawn caught the hint of steel in Andrew’s voice and agreed.
Waffles ‘N More 9am
Shawn glanced up at the waitress as she poured his coffee. “Thanks.”
Andrew waited until they had both placed their orders and the waitress had headed towards the kitchen.
“Talk to me, Shawn. What’s eating at you?”
“I think I’ve lost Belle again, Andrew. God, I hate this whole situation. I wish I could tell her what happened to her, to us.”
“Why do you think you lost her, Shawn?” Andrew was genuinely confused.
“Let’s just say that things were progressing very nicely between Lil and me until I made a colossal error. Talk about sticking your foot in your mouth.”
“You’re going to have to give me more detail than that, Shawn. I’m still not seeing why you feel that you’ve lost Belle yet again.”
“This is awkward for me, Andrew. I don’t really like talking about my sex life…”
“Geez, you mean you actually have a sex life, Shawn.” Andrew tried to lighten his cousin’s dark mood.
“Andrew, I’m really not in the mood…”
“I’m sure I could come up with something to change that for you, sugar.” The waitress leaned in offering Shawn a clear view of her ample cleavage as she placed his order in front of him.
Andrew had a hard time controlling the burst of laughter that threatened to explode out of him as he watched the redness creep up Shawn’s neck and face. His cousin never could really handle overly aggressive women. Ah, I better help him out.
“Forget about him, honey bun. He’s local and I’m the exotic foreigner. Besides his little woman keeps him on a short leash. Now, me, I’m footloose and fancy free.” He laid his slight English accent on thick. He had picked up the dialect from his years in London and he had learned a long time ago that the chicks went crazy for a man with an accent. “What’s your name, cutie?”
The woman shifted her attention from Shawn to Andrew. She liked the twinkle in his eyes. The other guy was more handsome but he looked really uptight, this guy, well a girl could have a good time with him. “Roxy, but you can call me honey,” she flirted.
Andrew winked. “Sure, honey.”
Two sets of eyes watched her walk away from their table. Both of them noticing the exaggerated sway to her hips.
Shawn turned his attention back to Andrew, his eyes sparkling with suppressed mirth. “I can give you pointers on what not to do when you hook up with her later, Andrew.”
Andrew relaxed. “It’s good to see you coming out of your funk, cuz. Eat your breakfast and then you can tell me what happened between you and Lil.”
Roxy refilled their coffee cups and cleared their plates, all while managing to slip her telephone number to Andrew. “I get off at three sweetie,” she said as she walked away.
Andrew looked over at Shawn and held up his hand. “Don’t even get started, Shawn. We’re going to talk about you. I’m a big boy and can look after myself.”
Shawn sighed. “Things were going so well between us last night, Andrew. She told me she loves me and I told her I loved her.” His mind wandered back remembering the feel of her lips, her tongue, her silky skin and he silently groaned. “We were about to…to…make love when I called her Belle.”
“Jesus, Shawn. How could you be so stupid? What were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t thinking, Andrew. I was feeling. I didn’t even realise what I had done until I ended up on my ass on the hardwood floor.”
“I take it Lil got a little upset with you, Shawn.”
“A little. There’s an understatement if I ever heard one. I finally forced her to talk to me.”
“How could you explain yourself when you were bound by your promise to Dr. Balfour to not tell Lil that you think she is Belle?”
“It wasn’t easy, Andrew. Lil finally picked up on what I wasn’t saying and put two and two together. She was so happy to think that she was finally going to get her old life back. She asked me for details and of course I couldn’t tell her any.”
“Did you make her understand why you couldn’t?”
“I think she understood both mine and Dr. Balfour’s position in the end.”
“If she understands why you can’t tell her anything about Belle’s life, why do you feel like you lost her, Shawn?”
“Because she asked me to tell her I love her using the name Lil. I couldn’t do that, Andrew. It would be betraying my love for Belle.”
“You’ve lost me, Shawn. You’re convinced that Lil is Belle, so what’s the big deal if you say I love you, Lil? You’re still saying the words to Belle.”
“You don’t understand, Andrew. Yes, I’m sure that Lil is Belle but it doesn’t feel right to say another woman’s name when I say I love you to her.”
“And Lil had a problem with that?”
“I think her problem was more with the fact that I couldn’t answer her question. The same question that both you and Dr. Balfour keep asking me.”
“Shawn, you know my opinion. Why do you keep avoiding the question? You have to sit down and really think this through. What will you feel for Lil if it turns out that she is not Belle?”
“For the last time, Andrew. I don’t have to think about it because Lil is Belle.”
Sacred Heart Medical Centre 9pm
Shawn watched as they wheeled Lil from recovery to her room. Her face was completely covered in bandages. She looked so tiny and defenceless lying so still on the gurney. It was all he could do to stop himself from rushing over and lifting her and cradling her in his arms. He wanted to hold her so badly that he ached. He watched through the window as they moved her into the bed, careful not to disturb the IV lines, and covered her with a blanket.
Dr. Gordon hesitated outside the door to Lil’s room. “Detective Brady.” He reached out to shake the young man’s hand. “I’m going in to do a quick check of Lil’s vitals, then I’ll come out and update you on how her surgery went.”
“Thanks, Dr. Gordon.”
Fifteen minutes later Dr. Gordon emerged from Lil’s room. “All her vitals are good. She’s resting now. She’s going to experience some pain from the surgery, especially when the swelling occurs. We’ll monitor her carefully and give her pain medication when required.”
“She is going to be all right, isn’t she, Dr. Gordon? She won’t slip back into a coma or anything like that, will she?”
“No, that’s highly unlikely. Like I said, she will experience pain but it will be manageable.”
“How did her surgery go?”
“The plastic surgeons are very optimistic that they were able to remove all the scar tissue and that once she has fully healed there will be no trace of her scars. She is one very fortunate woman. If you hadn’t recommended bringing in this team of specialists, I’m not sure what the outcome would have been for her.” Dr. Gordon had grown very fond of the young detective over the weeks. It was at times like this that he regretted not taking the time to have a family. His career had taken over his life.
“What about her eye? Was there any permanent damage?”
“No. The reconstructive surgery was one hundred percent successful.”
“That’s great news, Dr. Gordon.”
“You can go in and spend the night in her room, Detective Brady. I’m sure having you close will be of great comfort to her.” Dr. Gordon opened the door for him.
He knew he really shouldn’t go in but he had to see her. “Is she asleep?”
“Yes, I doubt that she’ll wake up for several hours. She was given a shot of Demerol just before she was moved from recovery. Go inside, I’ll give you some privacy.”
“I can’t stay long, Dr. Gordon. I’ll close the door when I leave.”
Dr. Gordon watched as the young man made his way to Lil’s bedside. As Shawn took her hand in his, he turned and closed the door quietly.
Shawn stood watching her breathe. His heart filled with so much love that he thought it would burst. As the tears silently streamed down his face, he caressed the top of her head and dropped a kiss to her bandaged forehead. “I love you, Belle,” he whispered. He quickly kissed her hand and gently placed it under the covers and then turned and left.
I love you too, Shawn.
Shawn turned and went back to her bed but she was still asleep. As he closed the door to her room, he smiled. She loves me.
Sacred Heart Medical Centre July 15, 2010 9am
Lil made her way to Dr. Balfour’s office. She dreaded going in. She knew what would be waiting for her on the other side of the door. She took a deep breath, straightened up, squared her shoulders and entered.
Dr. Balfour looked up as Lil entered her office. She hid a smile as she noticed Lil’s demeanour. She looked ready to do battle. Good, maybe we’ll make some progress this morning.
“Good morning, Lil.” Dr. Balfour greeted her reluctant patient.
“Is it? I hadn’t noticed.” Lil replied sulkily.
“What do you notice these days, Lil?” Dr. Balfour had decided that today she was going to make Lil confront her demons. Either she agreed to face her issues with Detective Brady or she agreed to move on without him in her life.
Lil stared stonily ahead.
“Well, since you don’t seem to want to talk, I’ll do the talking. Please look at me when I’m speaking to you, Lil.”
Lil noticed the hint of command in Dr. Balfour’s voice and immediately focused all her attention on her.
“Let me tell you what I notice, Lil. I notice that you’re not speaking to Detective Brady, the man you claim to love. I notice that you’re losing weight. I notice the tell tale signs of restless nights. I notice that you’re impeding your recovery by maintaining this foul mood of yours. And last but not least, I notice that both you and your young man are absolutely heartbroken.”
Lil displayed a little more interest as she leaned eagerly forward. “You’ve seen Shawn, Dr. Balfour?”
“Yes, I’ve had a few sessions with him since your surgery. He told me his version of events, why haven’t you told me yours?”
“What did he tell you?”
“Lil, you know that I can’t disclose any information about my sessions with Detective Brady…”
“Yeah, yeah, patient doctor confidentiality,” Lil muttered.
“Lil, I’m going to be blunt. I’m getting tired of your attitude. You won’t tell me what’s bothering you so I’m going to make my decisions based on what you’re not saying. This is what I think. I think you should forget that you ever met Detective Brady and move on with your life on your own.”
Lil gasped. “Wha…what?”
“He obviously makes you miserable. You won’t face your problems with him head on or even talk about them. What’s left? You should cut your losses and take control of your life. Make your own way in the world. Start dealing with the reality of the situation you’re in instead of sheltering yourself in the cocoon of his embrace.”
“The reality of my situation, the reality of my situation…” Lil’s voice rose several octaves as she leapt to her feet and began pacing. She turned to face Dr. Balfour. “The reality of my situation is that I have no memory of who I am or where I came from. The reality is that you and Shawn both know who I am and yet you won’t allow him to fill in the details of my life. The reality as I see it, is that you don’t want me to remember that I’m Belle Black.” Lil was spitting mad and left shaken by her tirade.
“Finally, we’re getting somewhere. Sit down, Lil.” Dr. Balfour’s calm tones surprised Lil into doing what she asked.
Doctor and patient sat across from one another, nerves on edge from the tension that flowed between them.
“You’re wrong, Lil. I do want you to remember who you are. If you are Belle Black, so be it. If you’re not Belle Black, it wouldn’t make any difference to me. Can you say the same?”
“Shawn is convinced I’m Belle.”
“Are you as convinced as he is, Lil?” Dr. Balfour asked softly.
“No,” she whispered. “I’m almost certain that he was the man I was coming to see, the man I love. But, almost, doesn’t make it so…”
“Did Shawn try and convince you that he is right, that you are Belle?”
“No, he did everything he could Dr. Balfour to dissuade me from letting myself believe that I was her.”
“Then what is the problem you have with him, Lil? Why won’t you talk to him?”
“Because…because…” She broke down and wept. She looked at Dr. Balfour with tear filled eyes. “Because the reality is I love him, Dr. Balfour. I love him because of the man he is now, the only way I know him to be. The reality is that I will love him when my memory returns but I’m not sure that he will love me if I’m not Belle.”
“Do you believe he loves you, Lil or do you believe that he loves the idea of you being Belle?”
Lil sat in complete silence for several minutes thinking through the question.
Dr. Balfour noticed when her eyes filled with joy and she smiled. She’s found her answer. Her heart knows the truth.
“Thanks, Dr. Balfour. I know what I have to do now.” She rose and went around the table and leaned down to give the doctor a hug.
Dr. Balfour was momentarily taken aback by the emotions that filled her heart. She knew better than to get emotionally attached to her patients but there was something about the young detective and this young lady that touched her soul. She hoped everything would work out for the best between them, however, she couldn’t shake the feeling of dread that crept into the recesses of her mind.
“Do you want to share your plans?”
“I don’t have time, Dr. Balfour, besides I’m past my allotted time. Didn’t you tell me you have an appointment at ten? It’s ten minutes after now.”
Dr. Balfour stood and prepared to speak. She wanted to prevent Lil and her next patient from running into one another. “Let me get the door…”
“I’m sorry I’m late Dr. Balfour…” Shawn started speaking as soon as he opened the door. His words trailed away as he came face to face with Lil. His eyes hungrily took in her appearance.
Lil was aghast at the change in Shawn. He had dark circles under his eyes and appeared to have lost weight. He appeared listless. It killed her to look into his eyes that seemed devoid of life although after they had swept over her body, she had detected a slight gleam in them.
Shawn could barely breathe. She was so close to him that he could feel the heat from her body. The scent of her perfumed shampoo tickled his senses and he clenched his hands to his sides to prevent himself from reaching out to her.
“I…I’m sorry.” He turned desperate eyes to Dr. Balfour. “I didn’t realise that you had someone with you. I’ll come back later.” He turned to grab the doorknob. He had to get out of there before he made a fool out of himself. All he wanted to do was drop to his knees and throw his arms around Lil’s waist and beg her to please talk to him again.
He looked down at Lil’s hand that clutched his arm. She pulled at him, wanting him to turn around. He couldn’t let himself do that. If she rejected him again, he didn’t think he could bear it.
“Shawn. Do you have any plans for this evening?” she asked tentatively, holding her breath, waiting for his reply.
Shawn turned around and looked at her with a question in his eyes. “No. I don’t have any plans.”
“Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”
“I’m really tired of hospital food. I’m sure they’ll let me order something in. I’d like company. We could…talk.”
Shawn looked deep into her eyes, searching, his thoughts racing through his head.
She returned his gaze, never breaking it. She knew what he was looking for and she let her love for him shine through. They both smiled at the same time.
“What time, Lil?”
“Is seven okay with you?”
“Seven is perfect. Do you want me bring anything?”
“No. I’ll make the arrangements.” She turned to the doctor. “Thanks, Dr. Balfour. I’ll leave you two alone to get on with your session.”
“See you at seven, Shawn.”
Sacred Heart Medical Centre Lil’s Room 6:45pm
Lil came out of the washroom and turned a critical eye on her room. It had been a hectic day for her. Thank heavens the nurses and doctors here were so willing to help her with her plans for the evening.
Dr. Gordon entered her room. “Well, Lil. It looks like everything is ready. All you need to complete your evening is for Detective Brady to show up and I’m certain he will.”
“I don’t know how to thank you, Dr. Gordon. I really appreciate you letting a couple of the nurses go to pick up the items I needed for tonight. I want this evening to be special.”
Dr. Gordon looked around the room. The blinds had been drawn. A table for two had been set. The restaurant that catered the meal also supplied the linen and candelabra that served as the centerpiece along with the china, silver and crystal ware. Candles that were strategically placed throughout the room cast the room in a soft, romantic glow. A bottle of sparkling cider was chilling in a silver champagne bucket.
“I see that Detective Brady’s cousin obviously selected the right restaurant to cater the meal for you. And you don’t need to thank me or the nurses. They were more than happy to do it.” He didn’t tell her that she and Detective Brady had been the hot topic of conversation the last two weeks. No one knew what had happened between them but they were all convinced that those two belonged together.
“Yes, Andrew really came through for me. We’ve become really good friends the past couple of weeks. I have a feeling he initiated the friendship because Shawn asked him to keep an eye on me.”
“How did that make you feel, Lil?”
“At first I was kind of on guard around him. That didn’t last long.” She chuckled. “Andrew’s quite the goofball and hard to resist when he turns on that charm.”
Dr. Gordon glanced at his wristwatch. “Did you want me to bandage your face before Detective Brady gets here?” He held her face in his hands as his clinical gaze took in the swelling that was slowly starting to diminish. The bruising was beginning to fade but was still in varying shades of purple. The traces of the scar were reddened but eventually there would be no visible signs of the ordeal that she had been through.
“No. Shawn’s already seen me at my worst. I don’t want to wear bandages or masks any longer.”
“All right, I’ll leave you to your evening, Lil. Don’t worry. There isn’t a soul working in this area of the hospital that will disturb you and your young man tonight.”
She smiled broadly. “Thanks, Dr. Gordon. Thanks for everything.”
As he closed the door to her room he noticed Detective Brady approaching. He was carrying a huge bouquet of assorted flowers. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed the desk clerk running to get a vase.
“Detective Brady, nice to see you.”
“You too, Dr. Gordon. Is she ready? Can I go in now?” Shawn could barely contain his excitement.
“I noticed Erin going to get you a vase for those flowers. I’m sure she’ll be right back to put them in some water for you. Ah, here she is.”
Shawn passed the flowers to Erin. He really wanted to get in that room. “How is she, Dr. Gordon? Is she still in a lot of pain. Is she beginning to heal?”
Dr. Gordon smiled inwardly. He hadn’t commented on the outfit she had been wearing but he knew Detective Brady was going to appreciate it. “She’s fine, Shawn. Her face is swollen and bruised but this is normal when a person undergoes plastic surgery. She isn’t wearing any bandages over her face…”
“She’s beautiful, Dr. Gordon, scars or no scars.”
“Yes, she is, young man.”
Erin came up and passed the vase to Shawn. He took the vase with one hand and raised her chin with the other. “Thank you, Erin.”
She blushed profusely, “You’re welcome, Detective Brady.” She thought that she was going to melt when he turned that killer smile on her.
“Go ahead, Detective Brady. Don’t keep your young lady waiting. She’s very anxious to see you.”
“Not nearly as anxious as I am to see her.” He turned towards the door as Dr. Gordon and Erin left. I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for just this moment.
Sacred Heart Medical Centre 7pm
Shawn opened the door and stepped inside Lil’s room. He stood in the doorway in awe. His gaze swept over her. She was wearing a short satin peach coloured robe over a matching coloured teddy. The belt of the robe hung loosely down at the her sides. The almost sheer bodice accented by strategically placed lace appliqués and the high cut of the garment that left her long slender legs displayed from toe to hip left just enough to the imagination to cause Shawn to swallow, hard.
“Are the flowers for me, Shawn?” Lil teased as she noticed the look of shock in his eyes.
Shawn dragged his eyes from the rise and fall of her barely covered breasts to her eyes, Belle’s eyes. He couldn’t register what she was saying. All he could do was stare at the face of the woman whose return he had prayed for. She had changed but who didn’t as the years past? The candlelight played across her bruised and swollen face but all he could see was the way she had looked all those years ago.
“Shawn…” Lil noticed that he was staring at her face. She walked towards him and took the flowers from his hands and placed the vase on her bedside table. When she turned back to Shawn he was standing in the exact same spot with his hands still outstretched as if he was still holding the vase in them. She went over and closed the door to her room. “Shawn…” she took his hands in hers, “come sit with me. It’s time we talked about Belle.”
Shawn was still lost in the haze of his memories. “Belle…” He looked down as he felt her tugging on his hands. “Belle,” he smiled.
“Yes, let’s talk about Belle.” They sat on the edge of her hospital bed facing each other. “Shawn, tell me what you’re feeling right now.”
“Fee…feeling? I don’t think I can talk right now, Belle.” There were so many emotions and thoughts filling his mind and heart that he couldn’t even think straight.
“We need to talk, Shawn.”
“I…I’ll try.” Shawn took a deep breath. He just couldn’t pull his eyes away from her face. “It’s hard to put into words what I’m feeling at this moment. If you only knew how much I’ve prayed for your return, how much I’ve longed for you, how very much I’ve missed you, then maybe you could understand a little of what I’m feeling at this moment.”
She caressed his face. “I look like your Belle, don’t I?”
“You are my Belle,” he whispered as he leaned in to capture her lips with his.
“No, Shawn,” she snapped as she pulled back. She almost began crying when she saw the look of hurt in his eyes. She hadn’t meant to sound so harsh. It had taken every ounce of willpower to pull away. She wanted to kiss him. She wanted desperately to kiss him but they had to talk first. She cupped his face in both of hands, “I’m Lil. Have you been able to find proof that I am Belle?”
“Proof?” Shawn was genuinely confused. Why did he need proof? He could see that she was Belle.
“Looking like and wishing it were so still doesn’t really prove that I am Belle. I do have an idea on how we can prove it. I’m just surprised that you never thought of it yourself.”
Shawn smiled. “I know that you are Belle, but if you want proof, I’ll get it for you. Not that I haven’t tried everything I could possibly think of to find that proof. But after all, I’m just a lowly detective, trained in methods of solving mysteries, including the identity of people. I’m sure that you, in your infinite wisdom, have been able to come up with an idea that alluded me.” He chuckled.
“Stop teasing me, Shawn.” She broke out in laughter. “I guess I did come off sounding just a little condescending, didn’t I?”
Shawn thrilled at the sound of her joy. “What’s your suggestion, Be…Lil?”
“DNA?” Shawn questioned.
“Yes. You know my parents. Just ask them for samples and run a DNA test.” She was so excited. Before to long she would know for certain that she was Isabella Black.
Shawn groaned inwardly. He shouldn’t tell her that Andrew and Steve had tried to get hospital records of both John and Marlena to try and do a comparison. He really shouldn’t, but he had to. John had been very thorough. He had made absolutely certain that no one could tie his daughter back to him or Marlena in any way, shape or form. He also couldn’t tell her the reason why he just couldn’t go and ask them for blood samples to use in DNA testing.
Lil watched Shawn’s reactions very carefully. She sensed that yet again he was going to be holding something back from her. “What is it, Shawn? You’re going to tell me that you can’t do that, why?”
“Lil, I want you to know I tried to match your DNA against records containing Belle’s parent’s blood types but I was unsuccessful. Just as your fingerprints aren’t on file anywhere neither are Mr. and Mrs. Black’s medical records on file.”
“Just ask them for blood samples, Shawn. I’m sure if you explain the reason behind your request, they would be more than happy to provide them.”
“Lil, there are things about Belle’s life that you don’t know…” Shawn started to try and explain as best he could.
“You think that is news to me, Shawn. I don’t know anything about Belle’s life or mine even if you think they are one and the same.”
“I’m sorry, Lil. Of course there are things about Belle’s life you don’t know. You have amnesia. I don’t know how to tell you this without just coming out and saying it. I discussed this with Dr. Balfour today because I knew you were going to have questions. She gave me clearance to tell you this one fact about Belle’s life but I can’t elaborate it on.”
“What is it, Shawn?”
“I can’t ask your parents…” he corrected himself, “Belle’s parents, for DNA samples because as far as they are concerned Isabella Black committed suicide on April twentieth two thousand and three.”
Lil stared at him in silence. He’s been waiting for a dead woman to come back into his life all these years? “Belle is dead?”
“That’s what her parents believe, I refused to believe it and obviously, I was right because here you are.”
She spoke gently. “Shawn, Belle committed suicide. She can’t come back to you.”
Shawn stood up abruptly. “Please don’t speak to me as if I’m deranged. A body was never found. Belle would never take her own life,never.”
“If you believe that I’m Belle so strongly, Shawn, why not just go to my parents and confront them with me. If I look so much like Belle, I’m sure they’ll see the resemblance and agree to DNA testing.”
Shawn sighed. He pulled Lil up from the bed and held her close. “I can’t tell you why, Lil, but trust me when I tell you that I can’t confront your parents until I have proof that you are Belle. In my heart, I know that you are Belle but my word and a woman that looks like their daughter isn’t going to be enough to take to Mr. and Mrs. Black.”
“I don’t understand, Shawn. If a body was never found, isn’t it likely that they might accept me as their daughter?”
“Lil, you won’t let me convince you that you are Belle, how can I ask two people that grieved and finally let go of their daughter just a few short months ago? They just had a memorial service for Belle in April. I would be re-opening all their wounds.” There is no way I can tell her that her father knows that she is alive.
“You’re right. I don’t want to cause Mr. and Mrs. Black any more pain. Are you ever going to be able to prove that I am Belle, Shawn?” she asked as she leaned back into his arms so that she could see his eyes when he answered.
“I don’t know, Lil. But I’m doing everything I can to get the evidence I need.” He smiled. “It would really be a huge help if you would just get your memory back.”
She returned his smile. “I’m working on it, Shawn.”
“I know you are, baby.” He leaned in to kiss her but she pushed back on his shoulders.
“Wait, Shawn.” She had to smile when she heard his groan of frustration. “I need you to agree to something before we go any further.”
“Anything, baby. Anything you want.” He ran his hands up her arms. He could already taste her sweet lips on his.
“I want you to promise me that you’ll never say Belle’s name in my presence again unless it’s in reference to your investigation.” She spoke quietly but firmly.
“What?” Shawn’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Only until we know for sure one way or the other who I am, Shawn. I just don’t want a repeat of the night before my surgery. It’s very disconcerting to believe that the man who sets your blood on fire and who you love more than life itself, is thinking about another woman while he’s making love to you.”
“Lil, I thought you understood…”
“Hush,” she placed her fingers on his lips. “I understand. Are we agreed?”
“Agreed,” he smiled as he nipped at her fingers.
“Now, kiss me Shawn Brady. I don’t want to wait another second…”
Shawn didn’t wait for her to finish speaking as he pulled her roughly against him and brought his lips to hers.
She moaned hungrily into his mouth. His lips were perfect, warm and soft and yet firm. Hot damn, this man can kiss!
Shawn eagerly dipped his tongue inside to taste her. God, he had missed her.
The silken assault of his tongue was liquefying her and setting her nerve ends on fire. She buried her fingers deeper into his hair to pull his mouth even closer to her. She couldn’t get enough of those lips and his tongue that was at this moment making hot, hungry circles against the inside of her mouth.
He was intent on exploring every nuance of the taste and feel of her mouth. She was intent on doing the same. He groaned as she captured his lower lip in hers and sucked and ran her tongue against his teeth. When she released his lip, he captured her tongue and drew it deeper inside his mouth. He ran his tongue over and under hers seeking her total surrender.
As his thigh found its way between her trembling legs, she felt his penis grow even harder against the curve of her hip. She shifted seeking to get closer as her desire coiled deep inside her. She dragged her lips away from his, panting. She needed air. She took his hand and lifted it to her mouth. She pulled his index finger slowly, in deliberate increments into the moist recesses of her mouth.
The hot, wet velvet of her tongue licking and sucking on his finger had Shawn writhing. He cupped her buttocks and lifted her core right against his burgeoning hard on. His penis bulged against his pants and he thought he would die if he couldn’t have her. He lowered her slowly on to the bed never breaking contact with her. He was fingering the snaps on her teddy when he heard a knock on the door.
Shit. What now? He lifted his head and was about to tell whoever was at the door to go to hell when Lil pushed at him. “Shawn, that’s our supper. Please let the man in.”
Damn. “Um, I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to get up and walk to the door in the condition I’m in. Why don’t you tighten your robe and answer the door. I’ll keep my back turned.”
Lil giggled as she glanced down at his erection that was clearly visible. “I get your point, Shawn…”
“Yeah, you’ll get my point, Lil, just not at the moment,” he growled in frustration.
Shawn set down his dessert spoon. Surprisingly he had eaten everything on his plate. The tantalizing odour of the special meal that Andrew had ordered for them ended up being to difficult for either of them to resist. Neither of them had had much of an appetite during the past couple of weeks.
“Remind me to thank Andrew for the meal, Lil. It was delicious.”
“Yes, I’ll be sure to thank him for everything he did for us. I really like your cousin, Shawn.” She raised her glass to her lips and noticed Shawn’s expression. “And don’t give me that infamous Brady arched eyebrow, Andrew and I are just friends.”
Shawn stilled. “Infamous Brady eyebrow?”
Lil became flustered. Where had that come from? She looked confused.
Was she beginning to remember? Shawn waited.
“I guess you must arch that brow of yours frequently. I don’t know why I said that, but that’s probably the reason.” She didn’t sound too convinced herself.
“Oh, really?” Shawn teased as he arched his eyebrow even higher. “I don’t think I’ll ever come close to matching my mom’s or your da…”
Lil noticed that he stopped himself from going further. She didn’t press because she knew he couldn’t tell her anything about Belle. “Andrew was kind enough to bring in a mini entertainment centre. He has a lot of music programmed. Do you want to dance, Shawn?”
“Sure, Lil. I’ve really missed dancing with you.”
She rested her head against his shoulder and wrapped her arms around his neck as he slipped his arms around her waist. He heard the sound of Faith Hill’s voice coming through the speakers.
“I know this is one of her older releases I think from earlier this decade, but it’s one of my favourites,” Lil murmured as they danced to the song Beautiful. They danced in silence, both lost in the words of the song and in each other as they moved together as one.
When the song ended, Lil looked up at Shawn. “You do all that for me, Shawn. You make me feel beautiful and I’m so in love you. One day I hope that just like the words in the song that you’ll tell me that my name tastes so sweet on your lips. I want that, Shawn, more than you could ever know. Just to hear you same my name, my real name, would be like music to my soul.”
Shawn pressed his forehead to hers for a few moments and than dropped a butterfly kiss on her parted lips. “Someday,” he whispered.
Lil clutched desperately at his arms before sinking into oblivion.
Sacred Heart Medical Centre 9:30pm
Dr. Gordon had been very surprised to receive a page to report to Lil’s room. He wondered what had happened between her and Detective Brady as he rushed to her room, his long strides echoing in the silent corridor.
When he pushed the door to her room open, he immediately glanced into the panicked eyes of they young man. “What happened?” he asked tersely as he bent over to begin taking Lil’s vitals. Two nurses were already present, ready to assist him if required.
“We had been dancing and then talking and the next thing I knew, she was grabbing on to my arms as she passed out. What’s wrong with her, Dr. Gordon? She hasn’t slipped into a coma again, has she?”
Dr. Gordon was examining her eyes. “No, it looks like she just fainted. I’ll try and bring her around.”
Before he could take any measures to revive her, Lil moaned.
Shawn immediately took her hand in his. “Lil, sweetie. Talk to me, please. What happened to you?”
“Shawn…?” She looked at him and at the doctor and nurses, slightly dazed.
“Young lady, you gave us all a scare. You fainted. I need you to tell me exactly how you were feeling right before passed out,” Dr. Gordon said.
Lil shifted her attention from Shawn to the doctor. “Dr. Gordon, I’m fine. I need to talk to Shawn, alone.”
“I’m sorry, Lil. You passed out for a reason. I have to …”
“Dr. Gordon. I assure you that nothing is physically wrong with me. I’ll explain what happened to you tomorrow, right now, I need to talk to Shawn.”
“Lil, you had better let the doctor do his job. I won’t risk your health.”
She knew that there was no point arguing with the two of them. “All right, go ahead and do your examination, Dr. Gordon.”
Fifteen minutes later, Dr. Gordon summoned Shawn back into her room. “She’s very anxious to talk to you,” the doctor said waited for him to enter. “Don’t worry, her vitals are fine. I’ll do some blood work tomorrow but I’m not expecting to find anything.”
Lil was sitting up in bed waiting for him.
Shawn was so relieved he scooped her into his arms and sat down, pulling her into his lap. He just needed to feel her breath and hear the beating of her heart as he lay his face against her chest.
She rested her face against the top of his head and stroked the back of his neck lightly. “I’m okay, Shawn.” She raised her head and cupped his face in her hands, pulling his gaze to her eyes.
“What happened to you, Lil? One minute we were dancing, talking and I kissed you…”
She placed her fingers over his mouth to stop him from saying more. “Shawn, when you said so softly the word someday, it was as if it was echoing in my brain. It’s hard to describe. I was here with you in this room, in your arms and I was someplace else with you, also in your arms and you were promising me someday. Then my head starting hurting. It was like a pressure build up and then I saw these bright lights before my eyes and everything just went black.”
Shawn had to mask the excitement that was flowing through him. “What else do you remember, Lil?”
She frowned as she concentrated. “Like I told Dr. Gordon, I’m sure I knew exactly where we were just before I passed out, but now I can’t remember. It’s so frustrating, Shawn. I know that tenuous little memory is just at the edge of my consciousness, but just outside my reach. Did you promise me, did you promise Belle, someday?”
His excitement swiftly changed to disappointment. “Lil, you know what Dr. Balfour said…”
“Sssh. Its okay, Shawn. You can’t tell me any memories, I have to remember them myself.” And I will if I’m Belle. She leaned down to press a soft kiss against his lips.
She stood up and held out her hand. “It’s time, Shawn.”
She smiled as he rose to his feet. She undid the belt of her robe and let it slide to the floor.
Shawn sucked in his breath. In the bright light cast by the fluorescent bulbs, she appeared to be naked before him. He was instantly hard.
She coiled her arms around his neck and brought his head down to meet hers. She ran her tongue teasingly over his lips, never allowing him to fully taste hers or capture her tongue. He groaned as he dropped his hands to her buttocks and felt bare skin.
“Come to bed, Shawn.”
There was nothing he wanted more than to make love to her, to seek heavenly release buried deep inside her but he wanted it to be so much more. He wanted it to be union of two souls. He wanted it to be a time to savoured and cherished. A memory that would last a lifetime.
She sensed his hesitation. “Don’t you want me, Shawn?”
He held her close. “Of course I want you. I want you so much I hurt.” He curled his hand over the side of her face and loved how she nestled it firmly in the curve of his hand. He stroked her softly with his fingertips. “This is not the right time or the right place. I want us to be completely alone. I want us to be at home.”
Home. Their home together. She loved the sound of that. “I’m being released in a few days, Shawn.”
“Good. I don’t know if I can wait much longer. I let things go to far earlier. I had missed you so much, once I started kissing you, touching you, I lost control.” He kissed her tenderly. “I’m going to head back to the cabin now. I’ll come and see you tomorrow.”
One last long, lingering kiss and he was out the door. She had wanted him to stay but he didn’t think he could hold back if he had to lie with her in such close confines as a hospital bed. Especially not in that skimpy, sexy little number she was wearing. He stood outside his vehicle, taking deep breaths of the cool, night air. When he had his raging hormones under control, he slid into the driver’s seat, fired up the engine, snapped his seatbelt into place and headed for home.
July 19, 2010 Sacred Heart Medical Centre Computer Room 11am
Shawn, Andrew and Steve were meeting to discuss the course of action for this evening. Today was the day the ISA system security was going to be taken down and Andrew and Steve were going to hack into their servers.
“This has to be timed exactly right if we have any chance of succeeding,” Steve explained. “I’m confident that we have more than enough time to retrieve the personnel files so that Andrew can check out those operatives that abducted Belle from NYU. I have a file created for you Andrew. I’ll hack in and then you start the file running. Everything that is required for you to do will be self explanatory once you’re into the file sub-system.”
“You know as well as I do Steve that the ISA’s projected down time of three to five minutes will more than likely end up being closer to ten to fifteen minutes,” Andrew stated.
“I’m counting on that, Andrew. Their computer techs are top of the line, but I think they were overly optimistic in their projection of down time. I’m going to need that time to recover the files from the server that has been corrupted.”
“Once you have those files, Steve, how long before you can clean them and retrieve the stored data?” Shawn asked.
“There’s no guarantee that I will be able to Shawn, but I’m confident that if I can’t retrieve it all, I can retrieve some of it. Hopefully, it will be enough to tell us where Belle Black is currently living and under what name.”
“I know where she’s currently living. She’s living with me.” Shawn couldn’t help but smile. ‘”I know, we need to find out who she was and where she came from so I can prove that she is Belle.”
“I’m excited about this, Shawn. Once we know where she moved to, I can fly there and start asking questions. If she’s not there, I can find out how long she’s been gone. We’ll see if the time frame fits with when Lil made her appearance in your life. I’ll also make sure I get in to her residence and make a copy of her hard drive. I bet we’ll find some really interesting things on her computer.” Andrew was pacing the room in his excitement. “Things are finally going to start coming together for us and for you and Belle.”
“Shawn, Andrew, I just want to caution you about getting overly eager. I told you I can’t guarantee I’m going to be able to restore those files or that I’m even going to be able to retrieve them. Everything hinges on our operation running smoothly this evening. I’ve synchronized our watches and computer time to London’s time. Andrew, I expect you to be back no later than six this evening. Zero hour for us is eighteen thirty seven precisely.”
Andrew chuckled and caught the puzzled looks on both Shawn and Steve’s faces. “Sorry. My girl, Roxy, she has this thing for classic movies. Last night we watched a movie from nineteen eighty five, I think it was, Back To The Future. You sounded like the professor in the movie when… never mind, you had to be there.”
“Roxy?” Shawn asked.
“Yeah, the waitress from Waffles ‘N More,” Andrew replied.
“Right. How are things going between you two?” Shawn asked.
“Well, cuz. Let’s just say that I don’t have any need for a tensor bandage for my wrist. Any more questions?” Andrew teased.
“No, Andrew. No more questions.” Shawn laughed.
“Are you coming in this evening, Shawn?” Steve asked.
“Oh no, Steve. Shawn will be comi…”
Shawn cut Andrew off quickly. “No, I won’t unless you need me. Actually Lil has been released. She’s in a session with Dr. Balfour right now. As soon as the session ends at noon, she can leave.”
“I understand, Shawn. We won’t need you. I just thought you might want to be here.”
Andrew couldn’t help himself, he loved to tease his cousin. “Shawn wants…”
“Andrew, enough already. I think Steve gets the picture. There’s no need to draw him a road map.” Shawn was becoming embarrassed.
Steve thought he better help Shawn out. “I have other news for you. Just before you came in, I got a call from the company that we sent those photos of the heel print on Lil’s thigh. They were able to isolate the symbol. They emailed the results to Derek and he’s on his way over here. He should be here any minute.”
“Do you know what the symbol is, Steve?” Shawn asked.
“No, we need to wait for Der…” All three heads turned at the sound of a knock on the door.
Derek poked his head in the door. “Great all of you are here. I printed out the email photos for you to take a look at. The original’s are on their way by courier”
Shawn reached for the envelope and pulled out the photos. His blood ran cold as he stared down at a picture of a Phoenix.
|This message has been edited by Mrs.B. on Nov 5, 2004 8:23 PM|