“What the hell are you doing here?” Shawn asked, crossing his arms across his chest.
Belle looked at him, and smiled brightly. “Shawn, is that any way to invite your girlfriend into your new apartment?” She asked. She was standing with two large suitcases by her side, looking breathtaking in a pair of tight jeans and a small top that showed off her bare midriff.
“Care to explain how you got here?” Shawn asked, uncrossing his arms so he could bend forward and take her luggage. “Come on in,” He muttered.
“Thanks!” Belle said, almost bouncing into his apartment.
Shawn closed the door behind him with his foot, and set her suitcases down in the hallway. He stood in front of her, and said, “You never answered my question – how the hell did you get here?”
“By airplane Shawn – I took the afternoon flight in from Salem,” Belle said, looking confused. She glanced at her watch, and smacked her forehead. “I almost forgot – I promised Bo and Hope I’d call as soon as I got to your apartment.” She reached into her purse and took her cell phone out. As she began to dial, Shawn took the phone out of her hands. He tried to remain calm, but this was too much.
“Just a second here - are you telling me my parents knew you were coming?” Shawn asked.
Belle simply nodded.
“And when did you decide that you’re were coming to Toronto? Does Dr. Wesley know that you’re here? The flying was probably not good for your health Belle – what were you thinking?” Shawn exclaimed.
“Whoa, whoa Shawn - would you relax? You’re going to give yourself a heart attack!” Belle exclaimed.
She put her purse down, and walked into the living room. She whistled when she noticed the furniture. “Not too shabby Shawn – I guess Investment Strategies knows how to treat its employees well,” She said. She decided to give herself a little tour, and walked into the kitchen, admiring everything.
When she emerged, she noticed the stairs. “Mind if I check out everything upstairs?” Belle asked.
“As a matter of fact, I DO mind!” Shawn exclaimed.
Belle simply ignored him, and walked right past him. But Shawn grabbed her arm before she could make her way up the steps. “You listen Isabella – you still haven’t answered any of my questions-“
Belle sighed, and faced him. “Shawn, I already answered your question – are you feeling all right? Cause I already told you that I arrived this afternoon,” Belle said. She tried to hide the smile that had formed on her face, but she was having way too much fun teasing Shawn. She turned her back, with the intention of climbing up the stairs, when he spoke again.
“I’m glad you find this amusing, because I sure as hell don’t,” Shawn said angrily. “How could you be so stupid Belle?”
“Excuse me?” She said, turning around to face him.
“How could you risk your health by flying! Dr. Wesley would have a fit if he knew you were here!” Shawn exclaimed.
“Shawn, he already knows.” Belle said, in a simple and matter of fact voice.
Shawn blinked in surprise. “He what?”
“He already knows.” Belle said. She sighed, and walked over to a mirror that was hanging in the hallway, and checked her hair. It was very humid that day, and she noticed that she had beads of sweat forming on the back of her neck. “Sweetie, do you have air conditioning? Cause it is really hot out there – I thought that Toronto would be much cooler than Salem, you know, being in Canada and all, but I guess-“
“Belle, would you stop babbling and talk to me!”
Belle frowned, apparently not pleased with Shawn. “I am talking to you Shawn.” She said. She shook her head and walked up to him, pointing her finger at him accusingly. “You know, for a guy who’s girlfriend just surprised him, you don’t look too happy to see me,” She said.
“Belle, don’t twist everything around here – why didn’t you tell me that you were coming? And what made you do something so stupid – you know you shouldn’t be travelling.” Shawn said. He sighed, and placed his fingers on the side of his head, feeling another headache approaching.
“Shawn, I wanted to surprise you, that’s why I didn’t tell you. And I am perfectly healthy to travel – I already talked to Dr. Wesley about this, and he didn’t see anything wrong with me travelling. Besides, what could a three hour flight do to me!” Belle exclaimed. She approached him coyly, wrapping her arms around him slowly. “I couldn’t wait to see the look on your face when I showed up on your doorstep,” She purred.
Shawn let out a long sigh. “You’re asking for trouble, you know that?” He murmured. Nonetheless, he pressed her closer to his body, and moaned when he felt her soft curves. “It’s not that I’m not happy to see you baby, because I am- it’s just, are you sure you’re not overdoing it?” He asked. His voice was filled with concern, and Belle couldn’t help but feel touched at that.
“Shawn, I told you – I spoke to Dr. Wesley, and he said that travelling is fine.” Belle told him.
“Okay, I believe you. Did you take all of your medication?” He asked.
“Okay, good. So how long are you staying in Toronto then?” He asked.
Belle smiled knowingly. ‘He’s going to love this,’ she thought quietly.
Shawn blinked, once, then twice. “I’m sorry, you didn’t say six months, did you?”
Belle simply grinned.
“You’re kidding me, right?”
Belle shook her head.
“But how can that be? I thought you were going to be the new Manager in the Salem office,” Shawn asked. He was amazed with this woman – she managed to spring one surprise after another upon him!
Belle sighed, and pulled away from his embrace momentarily. “Shawn, there’s some things that you should know,” Belle said.
“Maybe I should sit down,” He mumbled.
Belle giggled. “That’s probably a good idea.” She said.
“Did you want something to drink?” Shawn asked, as they walked into his living room.
“Yeah – a glass of cold water would be great,” Belle responded.
Shawn emerged with a glass of water moments later, and the two sat down comfortably on one of the leather sofas. Belle looked at his furniture appreciatively obviously impressed with the quality of leather.
“So are you going to tell me what you have to say, or are you going to stare at the leather sofa all day?” Shawn asked.
Belle blushed and said, “Yes, of course.” She sat up straight, and cleared her throat. “Okay, well, we all know that Steven intended for me to work with you out here in Toronto – not Cassie. And he was going to promote Chloe as Manager in Salem,” Belle said. “So I spoke to Bruce Knight about it a couple of weeks ago, and I asked him if I could still take the position that was originally meant for me.” Belle said.
“You didn’t?” Shawn said, obviously surprised. He had to hand it to Belle – she had guts!
“I did. I told him that obviously, there was some mistake, and I was the one who should be working with you. I argued with him – a little – but then he came around. He agreed with me, but I wanted to surprise you, so I asked him not to say anything.” Belle said.
“Why you little rascal – you had all of this planned, didn’t you?” Shawn said, in disbelief.
Belle nodded. “Guilty.”
“I can’t believe you! No wonder you were so hell bent on me taking the position – you knew what you were doing!” Shawn exclaimed. He leaned back against the pillows, going over the last couple of weeks in his mind. The arguing, and Belle’s insistence that he take the job, no matter what. “You are good Belle,” He murmured. “I had no idea what you were planning,”
“I know that!” Belle laughed.
“So when you return to work in a few weeks, you start at the Toronto office?” Shawn asked.
“Okay, but what about your check-ups with Dr. Wesley– are you sure that-“
“Shawn, Dr. Wesley gave the name and number of a very good doctor located right here in Toronto, so I’ll be continuing with my check-ups. In fact, I have an appointment next Friday,” Belle said.
Shawn seemed satisfied with her answer. He gave her one of his sexy smirks and said, “So you’re stuck with me for six months then?”
Belle made a pretence of being annoyed and said, “Afraid so – whatever will I do?”
Shawn leaned forward and said, “Why I ought to,” and began to tickle her endlessly. “Take it back,” he mumbled.
Belle’s giggles could be heard all throughout the apartment, but she refused to back down.
Finally, when Belle was out of breath, she raised her hands in front of her. “Okay, okay, I take it back - just please, stop,” She said, panting.
Shawn grinned and pulled his hands away. “Okay, don’t make me do that again,” He said. He stood up from the sofa, and extended his hand to her. “Come on, let’s go get a bite to eat,” He said.
“I’d love to, but I have to go check in to my hotel,” Belle said.
Shawn stopped, and did a double take. “What do you mean, your hotel?” He asked, narrowing his eyes.
“Well, Bruce told me I’d have to check in to a hotel until an apartment becomes available,” Belle said. “You see, they can’t tell Cassie to leave now, so she’s got the apartment that was meant for me – which is in the same building as you, by the way,” She added.
When Shawn rolled his eyes, she giggled. “Anyway, there should be an apartment available sometime in the next few days, so it’s no big deal. And yes, I’ll be staying in this apartment too!” She said.
Shawn smiled and said, “That’s great, but why should you check into a hotel, or move into a separate apartment - I have plenty of room here,” He said. He bobbed his eyebrows sexily, and that caused Belle to giggle.
“Shawn, I didn’t come out here to invite myself to live with you – I expect us to live separately,” Belle said.
Shawn thought about something for a moment. He bought his fingers up to lips, wondering how it would work out. He decided that it would, and cleared his throat. “Belle, I don’t want you going anywhere – you’re staying right here,” He said.
“What?” She asked, surprised at his words. “But I made reservations.”
Shawn simply ignored her and took her suitcases, and went upstairs. Belle silently followed behind him, until they reached one of his bedrooms. “This is going to be your room – OUR room, actually.” Shawn said, correcting himself. “Call the hotel and cancel your reservations.” Shawn said firmly.
“But Shawn –“
“Don’t but Shawn me – you’re staying with me – we’re going to live together for the few months.” Shawn said.
Belle bit her lip nervously. She certainly hadn’t been planning this. She didn’t want Shawn to think she was trying to trick him into having her stay with him. But the mere thought of living with Shawn thrilled her to no end. She cleared her throat and said, “Are you sure about this Shawn?”
Shawn smiled and took her small hands, and placed them in his. “I’m positive – this is something I want – something we both want – am I wrong Belle?”
Belle shook her head.
“Good, then we agree.” Shawn said. He placed a small kiss in her tiny knuckle and smiled. “Why don’t I help you unpack, and then we’ll celebrate our decision to live together?” Shawn said.
“Okay – but how do you want to celebrate? Are we going out for dinner tonight?” She asked.
Shawn grinned and said, “Hell no – the kind of celebration I have in mind will definitely take place within the confines of my, ahem, OUR apartment,” Shawn smirked.
Belle felt her heartbeat increase – she didn’t miss the dark look in his eyes, and she knew exactly what she had in mind. And she couldn’t wait.
“Let’s start unpacking.” Belle said.
Chapter 42, Rated NC-17
After Belle and Shawn had finished unpacking Belle’s things, they were famished. It was late in the evening, and they decided to order a large pizza.
They were both covered in sweat as they ate, but neither one cared to shower at that precise moment. They were eyeing each other hungrily, but neither one had caved into their desires.
Belle smiled to herself as she felt Shawn’s eyes on her; she was eating her third slice of pizza, and she made sure to lick the cheese off of her fingers with her sultry tongue. She knew it had to be driving him crazy, but she didn’t stop there.
Unfortunately for Shawn, Belle had changed into a pair of tight jean shorts, and a tiny top, showing off her bare midriff to his passion laid eyes.
Shawn swore softly under his breath as Belle reached down to pick up a fallen napkin. He noticed the cleavage from her top and he licked his lips hungrily.
There was only so much a man could take, and he knew that she was doing this on purpose.
After they had finished, Belle announced she was going to take a shower.
“No way Belle – I’m sweating bullets here – I have to be the first one to take a shower, and that’s final.” Shawn declared, taking off his T-shirt.
Belle felt her heart beat quicken as she stared at his hard chest. He was glistening with sweat, but that made him even more appealing.
He threw his shirt on the back of the chair, and smiled when he saw Belle staring at him provocatively.
“See something you like baby?” He asked, in a low and seductive voice.
“Damn,” she muttered, shaking her head. She hated it whenever he caught her staring at him.
“Like I was saying – you can see that I’m all SWEATY, and I NEED to take that shower, so I shouldn’t be too long,” he declared, turning around to walk off to the stairs.
He smiled when he heard her following him. “Oh no you don’t Shawn Douglas Brady,” she called out after him.
When he reached the stairs, she grabbed his arm and turned him around so that he was facing her. “What makes you think that you have first dibbs on the shower Mister?” She asked, crossing her arms across her chest.
“Simple baby – I called it,” He said, smiling that drop dead gorgeous smile of his.
“No you didn’t – I did!” She exclaimed, but Shawn was already on his way up the stairs.
Shawn went into his room, and searched for a pair of shorts and clean T-shirt to wear after he was done with his shower. He heard Belle walk in, and he turned to face her.
“Hey, what’s up baby?” He asked. He noticed Belle was still huffing, so he said, “Did you come to watch me change?”
Belle opened her mouth to say something, but then decided not to, when she saw him moving towards her. She was on the other side of their bed, and he was walking slowly, like a predator to its prey.
She glanced at the bed in front of her - the only thing separating them, and her mind wandered off, thinking about the many nights they would sleep in it together. She blushed as she thought about the many other things they would be doing together.
Shawn followed her gaze, and he felt himself harden instantly. She was thinking about him, and their bed, and right now, he couldn’t wait to try it out.
Once he was in front of her, he whispered, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” He didn’t give her a chance to respond. His hands slowly reached out, and went to her bare midriff, moving them up towards the hem of her top. He could feel her body shaking with excitement, and he grinned at her.
Belle waited for Shawn’s hands to lift up the hem of her shirt, so that he could touch the treasures that lay beneath it, and she wasn’t disappointed. She hadn’t bothered to put a bra on, and nothing could please him more. His fingers found her pert buds, and he pinched them gently, her breathless moans only encouraging him to continue.
Shawn quickly lifted the flimsy material above her head, and threw it to the floor. He gasped when he saw her bare breasts – her nipples were hard, and just begging for him to take them in his mouth.
He leaned forward and placed his mouth atop one of her breasts, and suckled her nipple helplessly, desperately; trying to show her how much he needed her.
Belle moaned in pleasure, throwing her head back. Her fingers wound themselves through his dark hair, pulling him closer, silently begging him to continue weaving his magic around her.
Shawn’s hot lips continued his perusal of her sweet and sultry skin, slowly lowering to her stomach, licking her navel. When he came to the waist of jean shorts, he raised his head, and looked at her with desire in his dark eyes.
Both were panting for air by this time, and Shawn’s hand reached for the zipper of her shorts, pulling it down swiftly, rolling her shorts down her smooth stems, her panties soon following.
She sighed as Shawn looked at her hungrily; he took in her beautiful body and shook his head. “Sometimes I can’t believe that you’re mine Belle – you’re just so perfect,” he whispered, moving closer to her and kissing the side of her face gently.
Belle grasped his face so that he was facing her. “Well believe it,” she said, her heart in her eyes. “Because I am yours – I’ll be yours forever Shawn,” She whispered, her voice filled with emotion.
Shawn groaned and seized her face between his hands, pressing his lips against hers eagerly. He tilted her head to the side, silently telling her that he wanted the kiss to deepen. Their tongues swirled with each other, engaging in a sexy tango, not being able to get enough of each other.
Their bodies pressed together, her small breasts hard against his solid chest, and the sensation made them cry out in unison. Belle felt her heart beating loudly, and she could swear that he could hear it too.
Somehow, Belle managed to extend her hands to the elastic of his track pants, and she pulled them down. She pulled away from his embrace momentarily, needing to have him out of his clothes immediately.
But Shawn took over, and eagerly threw his track pants off to the floor, as well as his boxers. He pulled her close to him once again, and his lips crashed on hers, prying her lips apart with his eager tongue.
They continued to kiss passionately, and slowly moved towards the bed, lying down together. Shawn climbed on top of Belle, and he found his hands were restless. They cupped her breasts, and then caressed her stomach, and then he inserted a finger inside of her core, finding her more than ready for him.
He stood up to retrieve a condom, but was surprised when Belle stopped him.
“What is it baby?” He asked breathlessly. “Why are you stopping me?”
Belle swallowed, trying to form a coherent sentence. “You don’t need protection – I know this isn’t the best time to tell you, but I’ve taken care of everything.” She said.
Shawn looked at her, and finally figured out what she was trying to say. “You mean-“
“I’m on the pill Shawn, so don’t waste any more time –please - just fill me up,” She pleaded, opening her legs and encouraging him to settle himself in between them.
He thrust himself inside of her impatiently, not being able to wait another moment. He groaned when he felt her walls clench around him, and it wasn’t long before she hit her first peak.
She moaned his name, over and over again, knowing that she was going to peak once again.
After her breathing settled, Shawn focused on his own release, and was relieved when he felt it moments later.
The two held each other tightly, waiting until their breathing subsided.
“God I love you Belle,” Shawn said, kissing her forehead. “I love you so much, and I’m so happy that you’re here,” He said.
“Oh Shawn,” Belle said. “I love you too,” She said.
They shared a gentle kiss, and decided that they both needed to take a shower – but this time, instead of arguing about who was going to shower first, they compromised - they decided to take it together.
Shawn started working at Money Managers the following Monday, and he had to admit that he was impressed. Although the office was relatively smaller than what he had been used to in Salem, there were a number of hard workers he was amazed with.
Shawn had a spacious office, with a gorgeous view of Lake Ontario, just as he had been promised. He had been handed the keys to his brand new Excel 7, and couldn’t wait to try it out after work.
Shawn found many tasks that had to be completed, and was happy that Belle would be joining him next month. Her office was right next to his, and he couldn’t be more thrilled.
He still had Cassie to worry about, who had no idea that Belle would be working with them shortly. He couldn’t wait to inform her. She seemed to think that he was on the market, just because he wasn’t in Salem any more. He thought of a way to let her know that he was still spoken for. He smiled when he came up with an idea.
Belle was keeping herself busy around the apartment, cooking up a storm when he was out of the office. When he came home in the afternoons, she would always ensure that dinner was ready, and the two would sit together, and talk about Shawn’s day.
Shawn couldn’t believe how much he was enjoying his new position. He was responsible for making so many decisions, but he knew they weren’t anything he couldn’t handle.
He would sit down with the individuals in Sales and marketing, thinking of ways to introduce their products into the US markets, and Shawn was fascinated with everyone’s ideas.
Shawn found himself with the responsibility of discussing the products already offered through Investment Strategies, but he postponed that, until Belle’s return – he was sure she would be able to handle all of that.
Shawn particularly admired Brandon Walker, the young Vice President of Sales and Marketing. The two got along extremely well, and would often go out for drinks after work. They had the same goals in mind for the company, which made them fast friends.
Shawn’s attractive secretary, Nicole Walker, was Brandon’s sister, and she proved to be a valuable asset as well. She knew what she was doing, and was always ten steps ahead of Shawn whenever anything was needed.
All in all, Shawn was finding his new experiences to be quite enjoyable, and he could hardly wait for Belle to begin working with him.
Belle continued to attend her doctor’s appointments, on a weekly basis, and her health was rapidly improving. And nothing could please Shawn more.
He was so worried about her, but she was doing fine – she continued taking her medication, and she was relaxing, so everything was going beautifully.
Three weeks after they moved out to Toronto, Shawn asked Belle to meet her at the office for lunch.
Belle breezed into the office that day, not missing Cassie’s look of surprise.
She marched right past her, and went into Shawn’s office. The couple noticed Cassie’s eyes glued to them, and she looked like she was going to explode.
Shawn took Belle’s hand in hers, and walked up to Cassie. He cleared his throat and said, “Oh Cassie, you’ll be happy to know that Belle will be starting to work with us in a few days – isn’t that wonderful?”
Cassie simply stared at them.
Shawn grinned, and said, “Well, we’d better get going – we’re having lunch together, because I wanted to give Belle a break from cooking – but you’ll still have to cook dinner for me tonight honey,”
Cassie looked surprised at that statement. “What do you mean – she comes over and cooks for you?” She asked.
But Shawn simply smiled at her. “No silly – why would she come over and cook for me, when she already lives with me!” Shawn exclaimed happily.
Cassie looked as though she was going to faint at any second, so the couple started to walk away, but before they did, Belle said, “Cassie, close your mouth dear.”
They walked off together, trying to suppress their giggles. When they were finally gone, Cassie marched up to her telephone, and dialled the number she knew by heart.
“Philip, this is Cassie – you’ll never believe where Belle is!”
Belle started work a few days later, totally blown away by the atmosphere that Shawn had created at the office.
Everyone looked up to him, thinking of him as a big brother, rather than their boss. Belle wasn’t surprised –he had a knack for getting along with everyone he worked with.
Belle found herself assigned many different tasks, as soon as she returned. While she enjoyed working with Shawn on a daily basis, it was something that she definitely had to get used to.
Maybe it was because she had grown so accustomed to the products that Investment Strategies had to offer – she knew about all them like the back of her hand. But now, she was introduced to a whole new set of products, and she found it difficult and time consuming to familiarize herself with them.
Shawn seemed to be enjoying it – he found it fascinating to learn about how each product was able to bring in profits. He insisted on reading on all there was to know about Money Managers – often times, even when they were at the apartment in the evenings, he would find himself on the computer, doing his own research on the past performance of the company.
Belle often complained that he was letting his work get in the way of having a good time. Indeed, Shawn noticed he was distracted, but he told himself it was only because he wanted to impress everyone at his new job.
Belle would simply sigh, and flip through the channels of the television. She had familiarized herself with the company by now, and had a firm grasp of what had to be done. She was doing a wonderful job, but unfortunately, her heart wasn’t it the way Shawn’s was.
Even though Shawn seemed to be consumed with his work, things were going very well. Belle worried that they would have problems living together, but surprisingly, they didn’t.
They argued, like every other couple, but they made up, which was always fun. They went into work together, and came home together almost every night.
But they still gave each other their space – Shawn met with his male friends for drinks on occasion, and Belle found herself spending more and more time with Shawn’s secretary, Nicole Walker, and meeting with her outside of work.
The months seemed to pass by quickly – it was already the wintertime, and Money Managers was doing very well in the international markets.
One Friday night, Belle sat in front of the television, trying to calm herself down. She had been home first that night, and she had made dinner. Shawn however, had met with Brandon after work for drinks, and had come home shortly after 7. When he had come home and he was told that dinner was ready, he simply said,
“Belle, I’m not really hungry – I think I’m going to just look over some reports from work.” He walked off, not even bothering to apologize, and Belle was furious.
It wasn’t the first time – for someone who had to have his arm twisted to take the position, he was enjoying it immensely. Belle understood it was because he had a say in nearly all of the decisions that had to be made, and it gave Shawn a sense of authority. He never had that in the Salem office, but Belle wished he could leave his work behind him when he came home every night from the office.
She felt like Shawn was drifting away from her, and she didn’t like it, especially when it was because of his work.
When the end of the six-month term slowly approached, Belle found herself almost relieved – she couldn’t wait to return to Salem. While her and Shawn had returned once every month, she missed her hometown immensely.
Shawn however, was disappointed that he would be leaving Toronto so soon. He had enjoyed his time at the new company, and he could honestly say that he wasn’t as happy as Belle to be returning to Salem so soon.
January rolled around, signalling the end of Shawn and Belle’s term at Money Managers. Everyone at the office decided to throw a farewell party for the couple, in an effort to thank them for all of their hard work.
They were surprised when Bruce Knight had shown up for the party, but he himself wanted to thank Belle and Shawn for their hard work.
“I know it’s only been six months, but Money Managers has helped boost our profits wonderfully, which was our initial goal when the merger was proposed,” Bruce said. “Shawn, Belle – you’ve proved essential in making this work, even though it was difficult for both of you,” He said.
Belle and Shawn nodded, but smiled at him.
“However, I’m afraid that I have some news for you,” Bruce said.
Belle and Shawn frowned, not sure what he was going to say.
“No need to look so worried – I think you’ll like what I have to say,” Bruce said. “Your co-workers here at Money Managers aren’t ready to let you go, so I’ve decided that both of you will be offered a permanent contract, here, in Toronto.”
Belle felt like her world had been turned upside down. While she appreciated the offer, she knew she wouldn’t be able to accept it – her home was Salem, and she couldn’t imagine not living there.
She shook nervously, because she was afraid of what Shawn was thinking. She knew how much he loved it here, and feared that he would accept the offer - she wondered what that meant for them.
Shawn looked just as shocked, but was flattered at the offer. He smiled nervously, and shook Bruce’s hand. “Thank you for the offer sir, but I’ll have to speak with Belle first before we give you our decision,” Shawn said.
“No problem – take your time.” Bruce said.
The ride back to the apartment was tense – both Belle and Shawn were lost in their own thoughts about Bruce’s offer.
When they arrived home, they sat down together in the living room, deciding to talk about it.
“Belle – I won’t lie to you – this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m really thinking we should take it,” Shawn admitted.
Belle sighed. She knew he would say that, and she also knew what had to be done.
“Then if you think it’s the opportunity of a lifetime, then YOU take it Shawn,” Belle said, in a cold and firm voice.
“Belle, what are you saying?” Shawn asked. He couldn’t believe what she was implying, and it made him worry that she was being so emotionless about this.
“I’m saying that if you want to stay in Toronto – I’m not going to stop you. But I can’t stay here Shawn; I’m leaving for Salem first thing in the morning.” Belle said.
“What do you mean you’re leaving first thing in the morning?” Shawn asked. He stood up from the couch immediately, trying to make sense of what she was saying.
“Shawn, you love it out here – don’t even TRY to deny it,” She said, trying not to show how much it bothered her.
“Okay, I’ll admit that I’ve been enjoying myself-“
“No Shawn, it’s more than that – you’re different out here – I’m almost not sure how to explain it,” Belle said. She sighed, and stood up from the sofa, trying to find the right words to express her feelings. “Shawn, you must notice that things have changed with us – you’re throwing yourself into your work, and you’re very enthusiastic about your job,” Belle said.
“So what’s wrong with that?” Shawn asked, his defences going up instantly.
“Nothing, as long as you keep your work AT the office,” Belle said. She thought about all the times he came home from work, distracted, not paying the least bit of attention to her. “Come on Shawn, you can’t tell me that you haven’t noticed how much we’ve drifted apart,” She said sadly. “When was the last time we made love?” She asked, her eyes filling with tears.
Shawn shook his head, trying not to focus on how hurt Belle was. It HAD been awhile since they made love, and just the fact that he had to think about the last time further proved that. He hadn’t meant to make his work more important than her – she was everything to him, and that was why he didn’t want to come out to Toronto in the first place!
“Belle, I’m sorry if I haven’t been paying attention to you- “
“You’ve been ignoring me Shawn!” Belle exclaimed. “Say it – you’ve been ignoring me!” All of her anger and hurt from the last few weeks came bursting out, and Belle wanted Shawn to know how much he had been neglecting her. “You took me for granted Shawn, plain and simple. You would go out for drinks with Brandon and the other guys, and that’s fine, I don’t have a problem with that. In fact, I encouraged it,” Belle said. “But then you’d come home, and you’d either read your reports, or go on the computer, and ignore me completely!” Belle said. Tears poured down her face, and she turned away from Shawn, furiously wiping them away with the back of her hand.
Shawn sighed sadly. “Belle, please, don’t turn away from me,” He said softly.
But Belle refused to look at him. With her back turned, she continued, even through her sobs. “Your work has taken precedence over everything in your life Shawn – even me,” She said.
“No Belle, that’s not true, please, don’t say that,” Shawn pleaded, walking over to her and turning her around. His heart broke when he saw the tears pouring down her face. Knowing that he was the one causing her so much pain killed him. “Belle, you are my life, you have to know that!”
“No Shawn, I don’t know that!” She exclaimed. “There’s only one solution to this problem,” She said.
“I agree – we should both stay out here, and work on fixing this,” Shawn said. The thought of continuing to work at Money Managers thrilled him to no end, but he promised himself that he would work through his problems with Belle.
“I beg your pardon?” She asked, obviously shocked at his words.
“Listen Belle – I screwed up, okay? Are you happy? I admitted it.” Shawn said. He moved towards her, wiping the tears away from her face. “But I realize what I did, and I promise I won’t ever take you for granted again – please Belle, give me another chance?” He pleaded.
Belle stepped away from him, shaking her head furiously. “No Shawn, I’m not staying,” Belle stated.
“And why not?”
“Because Salem is my home! And I want to work where I feel more comfortable, which is at Investment Strategies!” Belle exclaimed. “I am not staying here one more day,” She said.
“Fine.” Shawn said. He straightened himself up, filled with determination. “Then we both leave for Salem - let’s go pack,” He said, walking over to the stairs.
“No Shawn, I leave for Salem – YOU remain where you are.” Belle said.
Her words stopped him dead in his tracks. He turned his head slowly, staring at her in disbelief.
“You don’t mean that Belle,” He said quietly.
“Yes I do.” Belle said.
Shawn closed his eyes in agony, but knew he had to ask the question. “But if you leave, what does that mean for us?”
Belle felt her heart break into a thousand pieces, as she thought about what she had to do.
“Well, we obviously have to go our separate ways,” She said, trying not to choke on her tears.
“But Belle, I love you – I can’t imagine my life without out,” Shawn said, approaching her and reaching out to caress her cheeks lightly.
Belle closed her eyes as she felt Shawn’s hands on her skin, savouring the sensation. “Oh Shawn,” Belle whispered. “I love you too – that’s why this is going to be the hardest thing I have to do,” She said.
“What is going to be the hardest thing?” He asked.
“Walking away from you,” She answered, pulling away from him.
“But Belle, there has to be another way – you can’t leave.” He argued.
“Yes Shawn, I have to leave – I have to do what’s best for me. And you have to do what’s best for you.” Belle said.
“No! I’m coming with you!” Shawn exclaimed.
“No Shawn, you’re not. Because if you do, our relationship will end just the same – you’ll end up resenting me for taking you away from a job that you loved, and I won’t have that,” Belle said.
“No way – you are my whole life Belle, and you mean more to me than some job,” Shawn said.
“I don’t think so Shawn –actions speak louder than words. All you have to do is think about how you’ve been treating me these last few weeks, and you’ll know that I’m telling the truth.” Belle said. “And if you walk away from your job, you’d resent me. And I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, so it’s better if we end things now.”
“No Belle, please think about what you’re doing!” Shawn said. “We are so good for each other – we understand one another, and I know that I will NEVER be happy with anyone else.” He said. “And I know that you won’t be either,”
Furious that he knew her so well, Belle turned around, and walked towards the direction of the stairs.
But Shawn was right behind her. “Belle, please, don’t walk away from me – don’t walk away from us!” He pleaded.
But Belle continued, making her way up to their bedroom. She searched for her suitcases, and began taking her clothes out of her closet. One by one, she flung her clothes into her suitcase, not even caring that they weren’t packed properly.
Shawn came in a few moments later, and frowned as she continued to pack.
“Belle, could we please be a bit more rational about this?” He asked, moving towards her. He placed his hand on her shoulder and she closed her eyes, trying to stop herself from making an even bigger fool out of herself.
“Shawn, this is the only answer – don’t you see? This is fate’s way of telling us that we don’t belong together,” Belle said.
“For crying out loud Belle, you don’t really believe that, do you?” Shawn said. When she didn’t answer, he couldn’t stop himself. He turned her around forcefully so that she was facing him. He looked into her blue eyes, filled with hurt and confusion, and he wanted to take all of those feelings away. “Belle, I’m not staying – I’m coming back with you,” Shawn said firmly.
But Belle simply shook her head. “No you won’t, because if you do, I refuse to have a relationship with you – so you’re not gaining anything by returning to Salem,” Belle said.
Shawn looked at her in disbelief. “I see what you’re doing, and it’s not going to work Belle,” Shawn said.
“I’m not trying to do anything,” She mumbled, continuing to pack her clothes.
“Yes you are – and it’s not going to work,” Shawn said.
“Shawn, our lives are moving in two different directions, and the sooner you accept it, the easier it’ll be for the both of us,” Belle said. Once she had filled up the first suitcase, she promptly closed it, and reached for her second suitcase.
She walked around the bedroom mindlessly, pulling out the rest of her clothes out of the dresser drawers. She thought about the good times they had in this bedroom – in the beginning anyway.
Shawn would always insist on making love in the middle of the night, even if Belle pleaded with him to let her get some sleep. But Shawn would continue to pester her, until she finally gave in.
The last few weeks hadn’t been like that – Shawn had always been more focused on his work, and Belle couldn’t remember the last time the two of them had sat down and had a serious talk with each other.
She resented him for treating her this way, and she knew it was only a matter of time before Shawn felt the same way about her.
Shawn watched helplessly as she packed, wondering how he was going to stop her from leaving.
“Belle, why do you have to leave now? And how do you know that you’re going to get a flight out to Salem right away?” He asked, trying to find ways to buy time.
“I can’t stay another minute with you under the same roof. And as for finding a flight out to Salem, that’s not your concern,” She said.
“But where are you going to stay tonight?”
“In a hotel.”
“Belle, no, you don’t have to do that.” Shawn said.
“Under the circumstances, it’s best Shawn.” Belle said. She was determined to keep her chin up; she had already made a fool out of herself by crying like a schoolgirl, and she was going to keep just a little bit of dignity. She zipped up her suitcase, and started to walk out of the bedroom.
“Belle, I’m going to die if you walk out that door,” Shawn said, standing in front of her. “Look at me Belle,” He said.
When Belle’s eyes met his, he saw the same hurt, but something else – something he couldn’t place his finger on.
“What is it Shawn?”
“Belle, there has to be a way to work this out, and I’m more than willing to try! Come on, I’ve already told you that you are my number one priority Belle, even if I’ve been a jerk these last few weeks,” Shawn said. He sighed sadly, hoping he could get through to her.
“No Shawn – it’s too late. I think I deserve someone who’s going to make me his whole life – his reason for living – the way you did, at the beginning of our relationship,” Belle said. She bit her lip, trying to prevent any more tears from falling. “You made me feel as though I was the only woman who existed in the world, and it felt so good,” She admitted. “But then we came out here, and you started to change,” She said. “You proved to me that me being your whole life, your first priority – that was an illusion – a fantasy of mine,” She said.
“No Belle, it wasn’t – everything that I felt – that I FEEL for you is real, you have to know that,” Shawn said.
“I’m sorry to say that I don’t,” Belle said, in cold voice that even she didn’t recognize. “So it’s better if we go our own separate ways, because inevitably, we were going to end up destroying whatever is left of our relationship.” Belle said. She grabbed her two suitcases, and started to walk down the stairs.
Once she was downstairs, she grabbed her jacket, and took her purse. She flung it over her shoulder, and turned to find Shawn standing behind her.
She sighed, and looked at him with sad eyes. “I wish you all the best Shawn – take care of yourself,” She said, trying to smile a little bit.
“Belle, please, it’s not too late for you to change your mind – we can work through this, if we both try,” Shawn said. He grabbed her hands, holding them tightly in his. “We can save our relationship,” He said.
But Belle merely shook her head sadly. “I’m afraid there’s nothing to save any more Shawn.” She said.
Shawn released her hands, feeling as though a bee had stung him. He couldn’t understand why she was being so unreasonable. Here he was, begging her to save their relationship, and she couldn’t care less. He still had his pride, and he refused to allow Belle to walk all over him.
“Fine Belle – if that’s the way you feel, then leave.” He said coldly. He extended his palm out her, and said, “But before you leave, give me the key to our – to MY apartment,”
Belle tried to appear unaffected by his cold words, but she felt her heart breaking with every syllable that came out of his mouth. She had asked for this, when she insisted that they break up, but that didn’t make it any easier for her.
She silently opened her purse and gave him his key. “Thank you.” He said, putting it in his pocket.
Belle took her suitcases and made her way over to the front door.
As she opened the door, she heard Shawn say, “Did you need a lift to the hotel?”
Without turning around, she answered, “No, I’ll just take a cab.”
Belle walked out, and closed the door behind her, telling herself that she could do this. She could walk out of Shawn’s life, because if she didn’t do it now, she knew he would walk out of hers sometime in the future.
She kept walking, even though her legs were unstable, and her body was shaking by the sobs that were threatening to emerge at any moment. She went on the elevator, relieved that no one was on it.
Once she was outside, she shivered when she felt the cold January breeze. She put her gloves on, hailing a taxi, which stopped immediately for her.
She checked into the Sheraton, and once she was in her room, she flung herself on the bed, and allowed her emotions to escape.
Belle sobbed as she thought about losing the only man she would ever love. Her heart was broken, but there was nothing she could do about that. Shawn was not the same man she had fallen in love with, and it was better this way.
If only she could tell her broken heart that.
Three months later
Shawn sat in his office, trying to concentrate on the sales figures for the month of March. They were very impressive, but he found himself distracted - as usual.
Even though he knew he didn’t have a right to, he thought about Belle constantly since she walked out that cold day in January. He had been tempted to go after her, but his pride hadn’t allowed him to do so.
He still kicked himself to this day for not doing anything to stop her from returning to Salem.
He had tried calling her, but she refused to speak to him. Not that he could blame her – she had every right to be upset with him.
Shawn kept in touch with his parents, who were extremely disappointed to learn that Belle had returned to Salem alone.
Shawn had tried to explain his situation, but they didn’t want to hear any excuses. Hope had taken it the hardest, and didn’t speak to Shawn for almost a week.
He had tried to get his mind off of Belle the best way he knew how – by throwing himself into his work. He still enjoyed his job immensely, and became better friends with Brandon Walker, now that he had more free time on his hands.
Shawn found any excuse not to stay in the apartment – memories of Belle haunted him. The kitchen – were she loved to cook. The living room, where they had sat together and watched late night movies. The bathroom reminded him of her, because they had taken many steamy showers together.
But the bedroom was the worst. Memories of their lovemaking plagued his mind, and he often found himself wishing she were there with him, pinned underneath him and moaning his name as she often did when they made love.
But Belle was no longer his – she had been, and he had taken her for granted. He never even realized it until it was too late. How could he be so stupid? He tried answering that question, over and over again in his mind. She was the best thing to ever happen to him, and he had let her go.
Oh sure, he begged her to work out their problems, but it had been too late.
Shawn sighed, and stood up from his desk. He faced the window, overlooking Lake Ontario. He loved the view – it always seemed to help him put things into perspective.
Shawn kept in touch with the Salem office, and he learned that Belle had returned to work. She had taken over his position as Manager of Client Services, and was doing a spectacular job. He wished he could be there, making decisions with her, but unfortunately, he wasn’t. He had chosen to remain in Toronto, and he had to live with the consequences.
He was also relieved when he found out that her health was improving – she was still taking her medication for her blood pressure, but other than that, she was fine.
Cassie, who knocked on his door a moment later, interrupted his thoughts.
“Shawn, do you have a minute?” She asked.
“Uh, yeah sure Cassie, come on in,” He answered. He went back to his desk and sat down.
“I just wanted to drop off these marketing reports – I thought you’d like to see them,” Cassie said.
“Yeah, that’s good, thanks,” Shawn said absentmindedly.
Cassie frowned when she noticed Shawn’s mood. When Belle had decided not to stay in Toronto, all of the females in the office had been thrilled – Cassie included.
But there was no use in trying to pursue him, because Shawn became closed off and reserved from everyone. His work continued to thrive, but he didn’t seem interested in dating anyone.
This didn’t make Cassie happy at all. She needed to be more assertive, and thought there was no time like the present.
“Shawn, I know it’s none of my business, but can I say something?” She asked. She sat down in front of his desk, and folded her hands on her lap, trying to give him the impression that she was nervous.
“Sure – what is it about?” He asked.
“It’s about Belle.” As soon as she mentioned her name, Shawn frowned.
“Cassie, I really don’t want to talk about her,” He said in a cold and tight voice.
“Shawn, I know she broke your heart when she walked out on you, but you have to move on!” Cassie said. She jumped up from her chair, hoping she could get through to him. “Listen to me – you are a wonderful man, with so much to offer a woman. Just because Belle doesn’t want you, doesn’t mean you have to stop dating altogether.” Cassie said. “Besides,” She added, with a twinge of pleasure in her voice, “Belle’s already seeing someone.”
Shawn blinked when he heard her words, shocked at what she had just said. But then Shawn’s face turned to anger in moments. “What do you mean?” He asked, his fists clenching in anger.
“I mean that she’s dating now Shawn, and you should do the same,” Cassie said. With me, she wanted to add.
“I don’t think so,” Shawn said, not believing that Belle would even think about seeing anyone, so soon after their break-up.
“It’s the truth Shawn – everyone at the office knows,” Cassie said.
“What? You mean – she’s dating someone from the office? No, that’s impossible! I keep in touch with everyone at the office in Salem, and someone would’ve told me,” Shawn said. He couldn’t believe he was hearing this, and he hoped that it wasn’t the truth. His heart couldn’t bear to think of Belle with someone else.
“Shawn, no one wanted to hurt your feelings, so that’s why no one said anything. It’s probably not my place to say anything, but I just thought that-“
“Who is she seeing?” Shawn interrupted. He walked over to Cassie, and placed his hands on her shoulders. “Tell me who it is,” Shawn demanded.
“Shawn,” Cassie said, looking at him fearfully. “Stop!” She said, when he began to shake her shoulders.
Shawn took a deep breath and let go of her. “I’m sorry Cassie,” Shawn said. “I shouldn’t have frightened you like that,” He said.
Cassie placed her hand over her chest, making it appear as though she was shaken. “Well, if want to know so badly, I’ll tell you who it is,” Cassie said. She tried to hide the smile forming on her face as she prepared to tell Shawn who Belle’s new ‘man’ was.
“Tell me - please Cassie, I have to know,” Shawn pleaded.
“It’s Philip Kirakis.” Cassie said.
There was only so much one man could take in a day. Finding out that Belle was dating had been a tough pill to swallow, but to find out it that she was dating Philip?
“This is unreal,” Shawn mumbled. He ran his hand through his hair, trying to make sense of all of this.
He turned to face Cassie and said, “You know what? I’m going to need some time alone Cassie – will you excuse me?”
“Oh, yes, of course Shawn.” Cassie said. “If you need to talk to someone, you know where to find me,” She said, putting her hand on his shoulder.
“Thanks, but I think I’ll be all right,” Shawn said.
Cassie frowned, and walked out, feeling as though she had accomplished nothing.
Shawn closed the door behind her, and sat down, covering his face with his hands. Belle was dating Philip – he couldn’t let this happen. He had to do something.
He had stopped worrying about Philip after he had been transferred out to Toronto. But Shawn should’ve known that like a bad penny, he would always turn up again.
“Damn,” Shawn cursed, hitting his fist on the table. Shawn wanted to kick himself for letting things come this far. And he just realized something – he had never told Belle about what Philip had done.
She had no idea that Philip was the one who sent her the file on Shawn last year, or that Philip was suspected of having Steven Ross attacked.
Poor Steven had woke up from his coma last summer, but he remembered nothing about the attack.
He had returned to work just this past month, and he seemed to be doing better.
Shawn knew what he had to do.
He left his office in a flash, and searched for his friend Brandon. He was relieved when Brandon was in his office, and he asked if he could speak with him for a minute.
“Sure buddy, come on in.” Brandon said.
Shawn stood in Brandon’s office, and tried to compose his thoughts. “Brandon, there’s something that I want you to know – something that I want you to hear from me first,” Shawn said.
“Shawn, what is it? You look all riled up – you want a coffee or something?” Brandon asked, obviously concerned for his friend.
“No, I’m fine.” Shawn said. He sat down, and placed his fingers around his head, feeling a headache approaching. “Actually, I’m not fine,” Shawn confessed.
“Does this have anything to do with Belle?” Brandon asked.
“It has everything to do with Belle.” Shawn admitted.
Brandon sighed, and walked over to his friend. “Listen buddy, I know you took the break-up hard, but it’s time to move on.” Brandon said. He put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder and glanced at Shawn, who refused to make eye contact with him. He was deep in thought, and Brandon tried to find out what was going on.
Shawn seemed to snap out of his haze, and quickly answered him. “Yeah, what is it?”
“You tell me.” Brandon said, crossing his arms across his chest.
“Okay, look - here’s the deal – I’m leaving Money Managers.” Shawn said, in a firm voice.
“I’m leaving – I’m doing what I should’ve done a long time ago.” Shawn said, a new resolve in his voice.
“Shawn, maybe you should think about this a bit,” Brandon said.
“No Brandon, I know what I have to do – I have to go back to Salem, and make things right with Belle. I have to protect her from that monster,” Shawn murmured.
“What monster? Shawn, you’re not making any sense,” Brandon said.
“This makes perfect sense - for the first time in weeks, my head is clear, and I know what I have to do. Belle is the love of my life, and I’m doing what I should’ve done a long time ago – I’m picking her over my job.” Shawn said.
Brandon smiled, noticing the look of determination on Shawn’s face. “You do what you have to do then,” Brandon said.
“Thanks – I just feel bad that I’m leaving you guys like this – think you’ll find someone to replace me?” Shawn asked. “I’m sure any guy will jump at the chance to have a great office, the condo and the jeep,” Shawn said.
“Yeah right, I don’t think anyone will have those perks Shawn – you were the lucky one there,” Brandon mumbled.
“What do you mean?” Shawn asked, obviously confused.
“Shawn, when you work in a small office, word gets around about a lot of things,” Brandon said. He wondered if he should say anything, but then decided that Shawn deserved to know the truth.
“I don’t understand.” Shawn said.
“Well, let’s put it to you this way Shawn – you know how you grew to love it here? The car, the condo – well, someone made sure that you loved it here, so that you never wanted to go back.” Brandon stated.
“What are you talking about?”
“Shawn – it was all set up. Once you got out here, someone, although no one knows whom, made sure that you stayed in Toronto. If you ask me, it sounds like someone who had the most to gain by you staying out here,” Brandon said.
Shawn felt his mind spinning from all the information his friend had just provided him with. The job had been a set up – he had been purposely transferred out here, and he knew who was responsible. Someone who had the most to gain, as Brandon had said.
Shawn felt his blood boil, thinking about how he had been manipulated, and how he and Belle had fallen right into his trap.
Problem was, Belle had left on her own - but Shawn knew he was to blame for that.
He was going to make things right - he had to, because he was miserable without her.
“Brandon, I’ve had a revelation, so to speak.” He said. He stood up, and shook his hand. “It’s been great working with you Brandon, but I don’t belong here – I never did,” Shawn said.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Brandon asked.
“Positive.” Shawn said. He smiled a bright and determined smile and said, “I’m going back to Salem, to get back the woman I love.”
Belle sat at her desk, responding to an email Mimi had sent to her that morning.
Mimi was asking to meet her for lunch, and Belle couldn’t think of anything better to do than to listen to Mimi gossip about everyone within the company. Listening to Mimi certainly kept Belle’s mind off of other things – for a little while anyway.
Belle felt she had been leaning far too much on Mimi lately, but she couldn’t help herself.
Ever since she had returned to Salem three months earlier, she had been somewhat depressed. She tried focusing on her work, but that didn’t seem to help.
She was now Manager of Client Services, and while the job demanded a lot, she certainly welcomed that right now.
Despite her busy schedule at work, she always found the time to think about Shawn. She wondered how he was, what he was doing, how he was feeling. Did he hate her for walking out on him?
It was a question she asked herself almost every day, for the last three months.
Shawn had called her several times, but she had refused to speak with him. She didn’t think there was any point – she had made her feelings very clear. Besides, he probably wanted to tell her off for walking out on their relationship.
But that didn’t stop her from missing him, and worrying about him. She often wondered if he was working a little too hard. She had heard around the office that Shawn was still doing very well out in Toronto, and despite herself, she was happy for him.
Belle hadn’t been blind to Shawn’s passion for his occupation while they had lived together – she saw how much time he devoted to his work, and how ardent he was.
Belle’s heart still ached as she thought about all the wonderful times they had had together. Shawn Brady had been her whole life – still was her whole life, even though she wouldn’t admit it out loud.
Mimi and her mother tried their best to help her through this very difficult situation, telling her she had to move on with her life, but her heart refused to stop loving Shawn.
She tried distracting herself by going out on double dates with Mimi. Her rambunctious friend was now seeing a young man named Lucas Roberts, a Marketing expert who worked on the same floor as Mimi.
Mimi insisted she double date with her, and it was convenient that Philip and Lucas happened to be very good friends.
Belle had forced herself to smile throughout their dates, but her heart was never in it. Philip seemed to be oblivious to that, and was happy that Belle was finally agreeing to date him.
Belle had frequent lunches with Philip, but insisted to him that she was seeing him only as a friend. While Philip didn’t hide his strong feelings for her, he agreed to whatever conditions she set.
So Belle continued to date Philip – he would take her out to dinner, or to the movies, but she couldn’t say that she was enjoying herself.
Her and Philip were missing something – they didn’t have that spark that she had with Shawn, and she longed for that.
She remembered the time she had spent with Shawn - all Shawn had to do was glance at her, and her body would shake like a leaf.
The moment he’d lick his lips, she found herself wishing she were in bed with him.
Belle sighed, as she typed away at her computer, wondering if she would ever get over Shawn.
‘No’, her heart told her, ‘you will never get over him’. She knew she would never feel the same way about anyone, no matter how hard she tried.
“But it wasn’t meant to be,” she mumbled. She stopped typing, and felt her whole body quivering as she thought about how much she still loved Shawn.
And she hated herself for it, especially since Philip was making such a great effort to woo her. She appreciated his patience with her, but she knew without a doubt that she would never feel for Philip what she felt – what she STILL felt for Shawn.
There was no use in denying it – she would always love Shawn Douglas Brady, no matter how many times she tried to tell herself that they could never be together.
She supposed she could’ve allowed him to move back to Salem with her, but she feared that he would resent her one day, for taking him away from a job that he always loved.
This was the only solution, she told herself. He was happy out in Toronto, but she was miserable in Salem.
Belle thought about Philip – he was nothing like the manipulative person that Shawn had made him out to be. He was nothing but kind to her, and he had even bought her to his house – mansion – she corrected herself. She had met his father, who was quite impressed with Belle.
Belle had been shocked to learn that Philip was well off, but he made Belle promise she wouldn’t tell anyone. He didn’t want anyone to know that he was rich, because he was afraid of being treated differently at the office.
“But why do you even bother to work Philip?” Belle asked him, just the other night.
“Belle, I have to prove to myself that I’m not just living off of my father’s wealth – he worked very hard to get where he is right now, and I want to set an example for any children that I have in the future,” Philip said.
Belle had been impressed, and promised not to say anything to anyone.
Belle sighed again when she realized how much Philip had grown to care for her in the past few weeks. While she admired Philip, and valued his friendship, she had no romantic feelings for him.
She would never give him more than a peck on the cheek at the end of their dates, but he never complained, and never became angry. He told Belle that he would wait as long as he had to for Belle to fall in love with him.
But Belle knew that would never happen.
That afternoon, Philip sat back at his desk, talking on the phone with Cassie, listening as she ranted on about Shawn.
“Your little plan didn’t work Philip,” Cassie hissed, not even bothering to hide her frustration.
“Cassie, will you relax?” Philip said. “Remember when you called me a few months ago? You were upset, because Shawn and Belle had moved in together. You remember what I told you then?” He asked.
It made Cassie furious to hear how confident Philip sounded. “You told me to be patient, and that you would take care of it,” Cassie mumbled.
“That’s right. And what happened? Belle ended up leaving Shawn, with no interference by anyone, might I add - and Shawn stayed behind,” Philip said.
“Philip, would you get your head out of the clouds and listen to what I’m saying,” Cassie shrieked. She noticed a few people in the office staring at her, so she lowered her voice. “Shawn is on to you,” She said.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, he knows that someone sent him out here – he doesn’t know whom, but I bet you he has an idea,’ Cassie said.
But Philip wasn’t worried. “He can’t prove anything.” He said.
“Philip, I’m really happy that you’re taking this so well – you’ve got your precious Belle, but I ended up with NOTHING!” Cassie said.
“Hey, what else do you want me to do? Huh? I made sure he left Salem! We had a minor setback, but we were both patient, and it paid off, because they broke up.” Philip said. He sat up straight, and continued. “Now, I handed you Shawn Brady on a silver platter - it’s up to you to make him fall in love with you. I can’t do all the work for you,” Philip said snidely.
“But how can I make him fall in love with me when he’s still mooning over Belle?” She asked, her voice desperate.
“Not my problem,” Philip said.
“Well, you make it your problem Phil,” Cassie said. She smiled as a thought came to her mind. She still had one card left to play. “Shawn is on his way back to Salem Phil - wouldn’t it be a shame if he found out you were behind everything?” Cassie asked, in a sly voice.
Philip frowned, not liking the tone she was using with him. “Don’t even think about it Cass,” Philip said, his voice filled with menace.
“I’m not afraid of you Phil, because you can’t do anything to me,” Cassie said.
“You wanna bet? You saw what I’m capable of with Steven Ross – remember how many bruises he had when they found him?” Philip said. “Poor guy, he can’t even remember the attack, because he was so traumatized.” He lowered his voice, so no one could hear his last sentence. “Don’t let the same thing happen to you Cassie.”
Cassie gulped. Who had she been kidding? She couldn’t go against Philip – she couldn’t risk getting hurt!
When she was silent, she heard Philip chuckle. “I take it you understand why you’re going to keep your mouth shut.” He said.
Philip waited for her to say something, and when she didn’t, he cleared his throat. “Cassie, are you still there?”
“Yes.” She mumbled.
“Good – now that we’re clear on our positions, I’ll have to let you go.” Philip said.
“Phil, wait – you should know that Shawn is going to try and talk to Belle,” Cassie said.
“I’m not worried about a thing darling – and you shouldn’t worry either,” Philip said.
“But Phil –“
“Bye Cassie.” Philip said. He hung up the phone a moment later, smiling to himself.
So Shawn was coming home. And he was sure that he would head straight to Belle’s, to confront her about what he knew. No matter – Philip had his tracks covered. He knew what he had to do.
Later that evening, Belle was in her apartment, curled up on her couch. She felt totally and utter depressed, and it was because she was thinking about Shawn again.
She hated feeling this way – alone, unhappy – and she hated knowing that it was because she couldn’t bring herself to make more of an effort with Philip.
He had invited her to his house this weekend, for a very formal party. They were celebrating his father’s birthday, and he had asked Belle to be his date, even offering to purchase an evening gown for the event.
Belle had accepted his invitation, but told him she would get her own gown. But even as she planned the occasion, she couldn’t allow herself to become excited – and she should be!
When she heard a knock at the door, she frowned. She glanced at her watch, and saw that it was almost 9:00 – no one ever came to her apartment this late, not even her mother.
She stood up from the couch slowly, and walked over to the door.
“Who is it?” She called out.
Again the person knocked, but Belle didn’t budge.
“I’m not opening the door until you tell me who it is,” She said stubbornly.
“It’s me Belle.”
Belle’s hand covered her chest, trying to decrease the speed of her rapidly beating heart.
“Shawn?” She whispered. She acted on pure instinct and unlocked the door. She stared at the man who was standing in front of her.
Shawn looked tired, and worn out, but he was still handsome. He was wearing a leather jacket and a pair of loose jeans, and he looked like he was out of breath.
“Belle,” He said breathlessly. He took in her appearance, and almost reached out to take her into his arms. He had missed her so much, and he prayed it wasn’t too late for them.
“Shawn,” She said. She was dreaming; she had to be. Shawn wasn’t really there! She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat, and attempted to speak coherently to him. “What are you doing here?” She asked.
“I came to talk to you,” He said. “Can I come in?”
Belle crossed her arms across her chest, wondering if she should send him away.
Shawn sensed her hesitation and sighed. “Please Belle, I know I’m the last person you want to see, but it’s important,” He said.
He must have gotten through to her, because she silently stepped aside, allowing him to come in.
Shawn walked in, taking off his jacket and took a deep breath.
He could do this – he had to. He had to convince Belle that they belonged together. And he would stay at her apartment all night until she realized it too.