Life wasn’t easy for Isabella Black; she had moved to Salem while she had been in her sophomore year in high school. Her mother wanted to leave her hometown of Chicago in order to expand their family business. Basic Black had been her father’s business for years, but his untimely death years earlier left Belle’s mother, Marlena Evans in charge of it. So when a new division of the company opened up in Salem, Marlena was eager to start working there.
So Belle found herself in a new school, with no friends. It was awkward for her at first – she was nervous and slightly frightened of attending a new school. But that all changed, when Belle met Shawn Douglas Brady. Belle felt her knees become weak when she first saw him, in her English class. He was tall, with broad shoulders, and a face that must’ve belonged to a Greek God at one time, she thought. His hair was slightly tousled, and he had the richest brown eyes. They had two classes together, and Belle had been shocked when he had introduced himself to her. He felt drawn to her for some reason, and they immediately became friends.
Well, Belle was Shawn’s friend, but Shawn was so much more to Belle. She fell in love with him so easily – he was sweet, caring, and was always so supportive of her. She prayed that one day, Shawn would tell her that he was in love with her too, but that never happened.
In their senior year, the two were still best friends, but Shawn started dating Janice Spears. Belle never understood what Shawn ever saw in Jan, but she never bad-mouthed her, and always put a big smile on her face whenever Jan was around. Jan was friendly with Belle – whenever Shawn was around. When Shawn left the room, leaving her alone with Belle, she would show her true colours.
“Look blondie, he may be your best friend, but he’s MY lover,” Jan told her one day, as they sat in Shawn’s kitchen. Shawn had excused himself to get something from his room, and Belle was shocked at Jan’s tone.
“Excuse me?” Belle had said.
“I hear the rumours at school, okay Black. I know you two have been friends for over two years, but I’m warning you, don’t get in my way,” Jan said, in a cold voice.
“No need to worry.” Belle said, looking away from her. When Shawn entered the kitchen, Jan had instantly put on a phoney smile for her boyfriend’s benefit, and Shawn never saw through it.
So Belle kept her mouth shut about Jan, even though she wanted to tell Shawn the truth so many times. But when she saw how happy he was, she didn’t have the heart to tell him. Now she knew what the phrase, “love is blind” meant.
Belle was heartbroken to learn that Jan and Shawn were sexually active, and Jan constantly threw it in Belle’s face. Belle could never understand why she did that – had Jan picked up on her feelings for Shawn? No, Belle thought. She couldn’t have. She wasn’t smart enough to. Indeed, Belle had done a good job in concealing her love for Shawn, and no one ever became the wiser. Still, Belle’s friendship with Shawn bothered Jan, but she never knew why.
The summer after they all graduated from high school, Belle was shocked to learn that Jan was pregnant. Her parents were furious, so Shawn did the noble thing, and asked Jan to marry him. Of course, Jan accepted, and Belle was heartbroken. But she put another big smile on her face, and even agreed to be one of Jan’s bridesmaids.
Belle had held back tears while she watched the man she loved marry the most horrible woman Belle had ever known. She wanted to tell Shawn what Jan was truly like, but she feared that he would resent her, so she stood helplessly in the Church, watching as they exchanged vows.
Shawn and Jan moved into a two-bedroom apartment, in a building, which happened to be the same building Belle lived in. Shawn and his wife lived on the fourth floor, whereas Belle lived on the fifth.
Jan gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and the couple named her Elizabeth. Shawn instantly fell in love with his daughter, but he wished he could have the same feelings of his wife. The two were constantly arguing, and he confided into Belle that marrying Jan was a mistake. He had never loved her, he realized, but he was going to remain in the marriage, for the sake of his daughter.
Meanwhile, Shawn had taken up his own business – he was a private detective, and he had taken over the reigns of the business when his parents died a year earlier. Shawn missed them immensely, but was thrilled when they had left the business to him. Shawn of course, went to the Police Academy, and within a couple of years, he was qualified enough to run the agency. By this time, Shawn had learned that Jan was unfaithful to him. He had caught her with her old boyfriend, Jason Wells, and when Jan announced to her husband that she was pregnant, Shawn demanded that a blood test be taken to confirm the paternity.
The baby turned out to be Shawn’s, and months later, Jan gave birth to another baby girl. Shawn named her Eden, and found himself loving his new daughter as well. But as Shawn paid more and more attention to his daughter’s, Jan became more and more spiteful. The couple had decided to give their marriage another try, but it wasn’t working out for them.
Belle stood by and watched as Jan picked fights with her husband, and found excuses to leave the house. Jan didn’t like the responsibilities of parenthood, so one day, when Elizabeth was three, and Eden was a year old, Jan announced to Shawn that she was leaving him. Shawn hadn’t been heartbroken, although he did feel bad for his daughters. Jan didn’t want to have anything to do with her children, but demanded that Shawn provide her with a generous divorce settlement.
“Over my dead body.” Shawn had told her.
The couple divorced within a year, and Shawn had been true to his word. Jan got nothing from Shawn, and she disappeared from his life.
Belle however, stuck by Shawn. She quickly learned how to raise Shawn’s beautiful little girls, and somehow, they had found a way into Belle’s heart.
After Belle had graduated from high school, she had decided to work at Basic Black. Unfortunately, Marlena died in a car accident six months earlier, and Belle had no brothers or sisters. Belle was relieved to have Kate Roberts, her mother’s best friend and assistant, take over the reigns at Basic Black. Belle didn’t have to worry about the business going down, so Belle remained as an employee at the company, but only worked part time.
But Belle missed her mother. She wished she were still around, because she felt so alone.
Which is why she was thankful for Shawn, and his daughters. They had become her whole life, and she loved them more and more with each passing day. But she was careful not to let Shawn in on her secret. She knew it would ruin their friendship forever, and Belle couldn’t risk that.
So after Jan had left Shawn, Belle had taken over the role of a mother figure to his daughters. She found herself over at Shawn’s, more and more each day. The girls grew attached to Belle also, so after awhile, Belle started moving her things into Shawn’s house, at his insistence of course.
Shawn’s business had been growing, so he was able to buy a large four-bedroom house, with a living room, a dining room, and a large kitchen. The three bedrooms were located upstairs, and the fourth bedroom was on the main floor. At first, Belle had moved into the fourth bedroom on the main floor. But when little Eden kept asking for Belle at night, Shawn asked that she move into one of the bedrooms upstairs.
So Belle slept in the same room with Eden. She had her own bed, but still kept her clothes downstairs. Belle found it awkward at times, being so close to Shawn, and not being able to tell him how much she loved him. But it had been six years since she had fallen in love with him, so she was used to keeping her true feelings hidden.
Belle worked from home most of the time, thankful for her laptop. She decided one day to give up her apartment, since she spent most of her time at Shawn’s house anyway. Of course that had thrilled Shawn, because he knew his girls would have Belle at the house all the time.
Little Eden was now two, and was talking a lot. Elizabeth was four, and was enrolled in daycare, which left only Eden with Belle at home during the day. Belle found her to be a blessing. She took a long nap in the afternoon, which gave Belle the perfect time to work.
She cooked lunch for Eden, and was thankful that she had a big appetite. She would also cook dinner, and then the four of them would eat – Belle, the girls and Shawn. He was usually home at around 5:00, and the girls were all over him, delighted to see their father.
Yes, Belle was truly happy, even if her love for Shawn was one-sided.
But that would soon change.
Chapter 1, Rated R
“That’s okay sweetie pie, just try to sleep,” Belle said gently, encouraging Eden to go back to sleep. It was after two in the morning, and Belle was sitting in the living room, with Eden in her arms. The child was running a fever, and Belle had instantly given her some medicine. Now that it was taking effect, Belle was hoping that Eden would fall asleep once again.
Within minutes, Eden was sleeping soundly, and Belle decided to wait before she took her upstairs to their room.
She sighed. Eden had been okay during the day, but an hour earlier, Eden had woken up, crying and calling out Belle’s name. Belle had noticed how hot her forehead was, and had taken her temperature immediately.
As she held Eden in her arms, she failed to notice that Shawn had just walked into the living room and was staring at the two them.
“Belle, what are you two doing up?” He asked, as he walked over to her.
“Shawn, you scared me!” Belle exclaimed. Her heart was pounding wildly, but she knew it wasn’t because Shawn had surprised her. He was wearing only a pair of boxers, and his chest was bare. She had only glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, but that had been enough. She already had the memory of his hard chest, and his broad arms engraved in her mind. His hair was slightly tousled, and his face showed a five o’clock shadow that Belle found extremely sexy.
Shawn sat down next to her on the sofa, and kissed his daughter’s forehead. “Is she sick?” He asked quietly.
Belle nodded. “I just gave her some medicine, and her fever seems to have gone down,” Belle told him.
“What?” Shawn said, obviously confused. “Belle, when I just kissed her, I noticed she was burning up. I thought you hadn’t given her the medicine yet,” Shawn said, obviously worried.
Belle paled instantly, and bent forward, putting her lips on Eden’s forehead. She was burning up, and she noticed that Eden’s face was turning blue.
“Shawn!” Belle exclaimed. She stood up with the child in her arms, and told herself to be calm.
“Okay, let’s take her to the bathroom,” Belle said, as they walked over to the bathroom together.
“Fill up the bath tub with warm water, now!” She demanded.
Shawn did as he was told, noticing that Eden’s lips were bright blue. He didn’t like seeing her like that, and when the tub was filled, they took Eden’s pyjamas off quickly. Belle held the child in her arms, as they splashed the warm water on Eden’s body.
“Call 911,” Belle said evenly, as she continued to pour water all over the child’s body.
Shawn nodded, and within minutes, an ambulance showed up. The paramedics took Eden from Belle’s arms, and wrapped her up in a blanket. They took the child’s temperature, and nodded at Belle when they saw the colour returning to Eden’s face.
“Good work. Giving the child a bath was a stroke of genius,” One of the paramedics said. “That bath probably saved your daughter’s life.” He told them.
“Oh,” Belle said, putting her hand over her mouth. “I’m not her mother-“
“Do we have to bring her into the hospital?” Shawn asked, interrupting Belle.
“Yes, we have to find out why her fever shot up so quickly. Your wife says she gave her the medicine, and the fever dropped, but within ten minutes, it shot up again. Sounds like she has an infection.”
“Okay,” Shawn said. He turned to Belle. “Go get Elizabeth. We’ll drop her off at Philip’s house; him and Mimi can watch her for us,” He told her.
Two hours later, they were at the hospital, waiting for Eden’s test results to come back. As they sat together in the waiting room, Shawn took Belle’s hand in his own.
“Thank you Belle,” He said quietly.
“For what?” Belle asked, her body on fire as a result of Shawn’s touch.
“For saving Eden.”
“Oh Shawn, don’t thank me,” Belle said softly. “I love that little girl. You know that.” Belle told him.
“I know. And she loves you too. They both do.” Shawn said, giving her a warm smile. “How did you know that the warm bath would help?” He asked, tilting his head to the side.
“Well, I remember my mother did the same thing with me when I was a child. I was probably around eight or nine, and the bath really helped.” She told him shyly.
Shawn nodded, and the two remained quiet after a moment or two. Their eyes locked with one another, and all of a sudden, Shawn became very aware that Belle was still in her pyjamas. They were thin, and light blue in colour, which seemed to bring out the colour in Belle’s eyes. Shawn let his eyes wander to her breasts, and involuntarily licked his lips. He looked at her once again, and saw that her hair was all down, and he reached out with his hand, to run it through her long tresses lightly.
“Belle…” He whispered, as he stroked her hair gently.
Shawn moved his hand away from Belle, and turned to the doctor who was calling his name.
“We have the results of Eden’s tests. She’s going to be okay, but she does have a urine infection, which is why her fever shot up so quickly,” The doctor said. “She can go home now, but I’ve given you a prescription for an anti-biotic. Make sure she takes it, three times a day.” He said.
“Thanks.” Shawn said.
They were relived to hear that Eden would be okay, and an hour later, they were tucking her into her bed.
It was now almost 6:00 in the morning. Elizabeth was still at Philip and Mimi’s house, so Shawn and Belle decided to grab a snack downstairs.
“Needless to say, I won’t be going into work this morning,” Shawn said, as they walked into the living room.
Belle giggled as she sat next to him. “I thought we were going to eat something,” She said, as she lay her head back against the sofa.
“Yeah, we were,” Shawn said, as he looked at her closely. She looked exhausted, but refused to go back to bed. His eyes dropped to her breasts once again, and he wondered what had gotten into him. Belle was his friend – his best friend. She had been there for him since high school, and he couldn’t imagine his life without her. She had known all along what a manipulative bitch Jan was, but she had never said a word, worrying that Shawn would resent her.
Shawn sighed as he thought of how special Belle truly was. Immediately after Jan had walked out on him, she had taken over his household – in a good way. He had no idea how to raise his two daughters, since he was so busy with work, and neither had Belle. But she quickly learned. She was also a great cook, which Shawn was thankful for, because he couldn’t cook to save his life!
So Belle became an even bigger part of his life, and she slowly became a part of his family. Shawn couldn’t imagine his life without her. During his marriage to Jan, he had never seen Jan talk with her children, read them stories, or take them to the park. She had always been so selfish, and the couple had drifted apart quickly. It became clear to Shawn that he had never loved his wife. They were too different, and when she had told him she was leaving, nothing could’ve pleased him more.
Shawn’s heart had ached for his children, because they wouldn’t have a mother, but he was relieved when Belle seemed to have become more than a mother to them. She was their friend – they looked up to her, and listened to her. They cried whenever she left the house, which is why he insisted she move in with them. Belle had hesitated at first, but eventually, she gave up her apartment, and was now living with the Brady’s.
Belle was wonderful. With her sultry blue eyes, and long blonde hair, she was a vision. Shawn had always thought her to be beautiful, but lately, he had been seeing her in a new light. It was hard to explain, but he found his thoughts filled with her constantly. She was invaluable to him, obviously, since she was raising his daughters, and was taking care of the household as well.
But Shawn was seeing her as more than a friend. He didn’t dare tell her, for fear of losing his friendship with her. She would probably be repulsed, and he didn’t want her to be. He needed her too much. Not just because of his children, but because he couldn’t bear not having her in his life.
He watched her closely as he heard her sigh. She was obviously tired, but was too stubborn to go upstairs to bed.
“Belle, if you’re tired, go back to bed.” Shawn told her.
“No, no, Eden might wake up,” Belle said. But her eyes remained closed as she spoke to him.
“Look, how about you go and hit the sack for a little while? If Eden gets up, I’ll be here for her,” Shawn said. He stared at her, noticing that she still hadn’t opened his eyes. He had an urge to run his fingers through her hair once again, just like he had at the hospital. She looked so peaceful, just sitting next to him. ‘Man’, he thought to himself. ‘She is so beautiful.’
All of a sudden, Belle opened her eyes, and sat up straight.
“Okay, we said we were going to eat, so why don’t I make us some pancakes?” She said, as she looked at Shawn closely. She noticed he was just watching her silently, and she couldn’t make out the look she saw in his eyes. Belle swallowed nervously. Belle had known Shawn since she was 16, and he had never looked at her the way he was looking at her right now. She felt her cheeks flush, and her body tremble with excitement. She recalled how he had gently stroked her hair at the hospital, and she had enjoyed every second of it. She didn’t know why he had done that, but she wished that he would do it again.
“I’m not hungry Belle,” Shawn whispered, as his eyes remained glued to her. He turned so that they were facing each other on the sofa. He noticed her face was slightly pinkish, and her eyes were filled with confusion, and – what else did he see – did he see desire in those sultry blue eyes? He wasn’t sure, but he was sure of one thing – he wanted her. He noticed she was breathing unevenly, and her mouth was open, and she licked her lips. Shawn groaned as he followed the trail of her tongue. He felt his manhood expand in size, and all of a sudden, the blue jeans he had thrown on earlier felt much too tight for him.
His hand reached out to her lips, his thumb gently stroking them. He waited for her to protest, but none came. She was shocked, but she allowed Shawn to continue. His thumb moved away from her lips a few moments later, and his hand cupped her cheek gently. Her eyes were on him, and she seemed to be waiting for something. He shifted on the sofa, and moved closer to her, boldly placing his other hand on her thigh. Shawn didn’t know what had gotten into him, but he knew that he had to taste her – he had to feel his lips on hers. If he were a betting man, he would bet his house and business that she tasted like heaven. She would probably moan, and he would swallow her moans, parting her lips, and thrust his tongue inside, and mate with hers.
Belle hesitantly put her hands on his chest, the thin fabric of his T-shirt doing nothing to conceal the broadness of his chest. She had meant to push him away, but somehow, she didn’t. She was caught up in the moment, and it felt wonderful to have Shawn looking at her, with such hunger in his eyes. She waited patiently for him to make the next move; she had never wanted anyone the way she wanted Shawn.
As if Shawn had read her thoughts, he inched his face closer to hers, smiling to himself when he saw her close her eyes. He hesitated, as his mouth was a mere inch away from hers. He gave her the opportunity to stop him, but when she didn’t, Shawn lips softly touched her own. A moan escaped from the back of her throat, and she shivered when she felt Shawn nipping at her bottom lip, his teeth gently biting down, and gently urging her lips to part. Belle eagerly complied, feeling faint when his tongue went on a hungry search for her own. Belle never knew what it was like to kiss; she had been on a few dates throughout the years, and they had ended with little pecks on the lips. This kiss with Shawn put all those other kisses to shame.
Shawn knew how to kiss – his tongue demanded that hers meet with it, and when they did, they shared a very intense tango with one another. Belle felt herself being pulled closer to him, and she almost gasped when she felt her breasts crash against his chest. It was such an intense feeling, and her arms hooked around his neck, her fingers playing with the hair at the back of neck. She felt Shawn’s arms encircled her waist, his hands gently stroking her back as they continued to kiss each other deeply.
Belle couldn’t breath; she couldn’t think…all she could do was feel the effects of Shawn’s kisses. She could feel her nipples hardening; she could feel her body quivering with desire. She felt an ache form between her thighs – she wanted Shawn, she loved him, and he was finally showing some interest in her.
They pulled away from each other, breathing heavily as they stared at each other. Shawn felt his erection straining against his jeans – he wanted her so bad. It felt so good to kiss Belle – it felt so fulfilling, like it was something that his lips were born to do. He wanted to kiss her again, so he wasted no time as he moved closer to her once again, gently urging her to lie back on the sofa. She didn’t say a word as she laid her head against the pillows, and gasped when Shawn placed himself atop of her.
“Am I too heavy?” He said quietly, looking down at her with concern in his deep brown eyes.
Belle shook her head, and smiled at him. He smiled back at her, and crashed his lips against hers once again, and he shifted his body slightly, making sure that his erection settled in between her thighs.
“Shawn,” She moaned, as she felt the effect she was having on him. She couldn’t believe this – it was like a dream coming true. She was in Shawn’s arms, sharing one passionate kiss after another with him. She was aroused, and what made the situation even better was that he was aroused too.
She never imagined that she could love Shawn any more than she already did, but being underneath him, kissing him, proved her wrong. Belle could never tell him in words how she felt for him, but she was determined to let her body show him just how special he was to her.
Shawn thought he should stop – things were going too far with them, but he couldn’t help himself. It felt so good to have her body underneath his, and when he pulled his lips away from hers, he eagerly kissed his way down her neck, nipping at her throat, and growling her name as he journeyed down towards her breasts.
He licked her collarbone eagerly, and his fingers found their way to the buttons on her pyjamas’. He held his breath, wondering if Belle was going to stop him. She said nothing, and that was all the encouragement Shawn needed. He parted the top of her pyjamas, and stared at her small breasts. Her nipples had already hardened, and he wanted to taste them. His head lowered, and he placed his mouth atop her breast, gently sucking it, while his hand massaged the other breast.
Belle moaned his name, throwing her head back as he sent to her to heaven. She could feel the ache between her thighs growing stronger, and she opened her legs wider for him, gasping his name when she felt his manhood harden even more. It was almost painful feeling it between her legs, but it was the most pleasurable pain imaginable.
Shawn sighed as he enjoyed her other breast, and just as he moved his mouth lower to her stomach, they both stopped when they heard Belle’s name being called.
Shawn scrambled off of her quickly, and Belle buttoned up her top. Eden was awake, and wanted Belle to come upstairs. Belle stood up, and made her way upstairs, her legs still shaking, her body crying out for Shawn since it was left unsatisfied.
Shawn sat up, and placed his hands on either side of his head. What was he thinking? He thought to himself. He had almost taken advantage of Belle. Belle – his best friend, someone he thought of as a sister.
He shook his head, angry that he had let his body overrule is mind. He wasn’t going to allow this to happen again. He needed Belle, and he was going to apologize as soon as she came back downstairs.
Ten minutes later, Belle walked back into the living room. She bit her lip nervously as she looked at Shawn – his hair was still tousled, since she had ran her fingers through it eagerly, just fifteen minutes earlier.
She cleared her throat, and sat down next to him on the sofa.
“Eden had a bad dream, but she fell back asleep. Poor thing is exhausted,” Belle told him.
“Yeah.” Shawn said. He ran his fingers through his hair, and sighed heavily.
“Belle, I’m really sorry,” He said, turning to face her. “I was a complete idiot – I shouldn’t have done that,” He said, hanging his head in shame.
Belle felt her heart break, but tried to appear unaffected by his words. “It’s okay Shawn.” She said quietly.
“No, it’s not.” He said. He lifted his head, and shifted closer to her on the sofa. “Look Belle, we were both tired, and we had been to hell and back because of what happened to Eden. We were obviously relieved that she was going to be all right, so that’s probably why that happened,” Shawn reasoned.
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Belle mumbled.
“Belle, I promise you that will never happen again. Please don’t be angry with me.” He said, his eyes pleading with her to forgive him. “I know I was a jerk.”
“Shawn, there’s nothing to forgive.” Belle said. “I’m not mad at you.” She said.
“You’re not?” Shawn said, obviously surprised.
Belle smiled at him. “I’m not. Look, you’re probably right – we were just overtired, and we didn’t know what we were doing,” She lied. She knew what she was doing, and she loved every minute of it. Her lips burned with the memory of Shawn, the way he had kissed her, the way his lips had caressed her neck, her chest…
“That’s exactly it – we were overtired!” Shawn exclaimed. He kissed her forehead and smiled at her. “I’m glad you’re being so understanding.” He said.
“No worries,” Belle said. She stood up from the sofa, and said, “Why don’t I go and make us some breakfast – you’re probably starved.”
Shawn nodded. “You’re right. You go head in the kitchen – I’m going to call up at the agency, and let Rex know that I won’t be coming in today,” Shawn said, referring to his partner, Rex DiMera.
“Okay.” Belle said. She walked into the kitchen, and Shawn went over to his phone. Before he dialled the number, he watched as Belle walked away, noticing her cute behind.
“Stop it Shawn,” He mumbled. But he couldn’t. Today he had a taste of Isabella Black, and he knew he wouldn’t forget it. He had never felt so aroused by a woman before, not even Jan. He shook his head. Maybe before he called Rex, he should take a shower, he thought to himself.
“Yeah, a cold one,” He muttered, as he walked over to the stairs. He glanced one more time in the kitchen, and saw Belle bite her lip as she made herself busy with breakfast.
“Damn woman. The things you do to me are dangerous,” He said quietly. “And what makes it dangerous is that I’m lusting after my best friend.”
What was he going to do?
Three days later, Belle was in the kitchen, whipping up a fabulous dinner for the family. Eden was in her highchair, babbling endlessly, while Elizabeth was in the living room, watching cartoons.
Tonight was a special night – Shawn had acquired a healthy bonus from a very special client today at the agency, and Belle insisted on making a magnificent dinner. Shawn had called earlier that afternoon, excited about his news.
“As soon as I come home, I’m taking you and the kids out,” He had told her.
“No Shawn.” Belle had said.
“Because, it’ll be much more fun at home – come on, I’ll make something good, I promise.” She had said.
“Okay. But let me bring home a bottle of champagne,” He had said.
“You got yourself a deal.”
So here she was, in the kitchen, keeping her promise to Shawn. She had gone out earlier, before picking up Elizabeth from daycare. She had bought a package of Beef Tenderloin, and had made a trip to the produce department, buying lettuce, mushrooms, and broccoli.
Once she had arrived home, she started cooking instantly. She cooked the Beef Tenderloin slowly, and ensured that it was medium rare, just the way Shawn liked it. She chopped up some mushrooms, and boiled some rice as well. After she was done, she made a green salad, and set up the table in the dining room. She was pulling out all of the stops tonight, because she wanted this dinner to be special. She also wanted to prove to Shawn that there were no hard feelings about the other night.
As she set the table with a crisp clean tablecloth, her mind wandered to that incredible night once again. She couldn’t stop thinking about Shawn’s kisses, and the way he made her feel. She loved him so much, and Belle wondered how her love for him hadn’t eaten her alive. Belle wished she could talk to someone, and it was times like these she missed her mom. Marlena had always been approachable, and Belle had confided into her about her strong feelings for Shawn right from the beginning.
“Honey, you have to tell him how you feel,” Marlena had said to her, while she was still in high school.
But Belle didn’t agree with her. She feared that telling Shawn the truth would be too awkward, because she was sure that he didn’t feel the same way about her.
But ever since that wonderful night, Belle wondered if she had a chance with Shawn. He obviously had feelings for Belle, but she wondered what exactly those feelings were. She sighed as she thought about Shawn’s love life. It had been non-existent since Jan had left him. Jan had been his first serious girlfriend, and his last. He deeply resented his ex-wife for cheating on him, then for walking out on him and their children. He had also told Belle one day that he didn’t believe in love. It was shortly after Jan had left, and it wasn’t a pretty conversation….
“What do you mean there’s no such thing as love?” Belle said, shocked at what Shawn was telling her.
“There isn’t – trust me Belle. I was in love with Jan, at least, I thought I was, and where did it get me?” He said stubbornly.
“Oh Shawn, just because Jan turned out to be a selfish bitch, doesn’t mean that love doesn’t exist,” She said. “I mean, if it hadn’t been for Jan, then you wouldn’t have your two precious angels, so there’s two positive things that came out of your marriage to her,” Belle reasoned.
“Well, yeah,” Shawn said. “I believe that love exists between family members, such as with me and my children,” He explained. “But as for true love – between a man and a woman – no way.” Shawn said.
Belle remembered how disappointed she had been when he had admitted that to her. She couldn’t blame him – Jan had manipulated him, had taken advantage of him, and had broken his heart. If only she could show Shawn that love wasn’t about misery – it was beautiful, and it could warm your heart.
Belle sighed – she wished Shawn would give her a chance to show him how deep her love ran for him. She desperately wanted to tell him the truth, but she knew he would feel uncomfortable – after all, they were best friends, and he was also afraid to love again, because of Jan.
No, Belle had to SHOW him what her feelings were, but did she have the nerve to do that? She wasn’t sure, but one thing she was sure of was that he wanted her. She could feel his desire for her, and she wanted to be close to him again. She could never be so bold as to come on to him that way, so she had to hope that he would make a move.
At 5:00, Shawn walked in, his daughters running into the hallway, and instantly smothering him as he did so. He kissed each one of them eagerly, and took them into his arms.
“Shawn!” Belle exclaimed as she came out of the kitchen. “They’re getting a little big for that, aren’t they?” She said.
But Shawn shook his head. “No way. Besides, you don’t see anyone complaining, do you Belle?” He said, flashing her one of his grins.
Belle looked at the girls, who were thrilled to be in their father’s arms. “I guess you’re right,” She said, smiling at them.
“Daddy, I made you a drawing today,” Elizabeth said to her father.
“You did? Where is it?” He asked, eager to see it.
“In the living room.” Elizabeth answered.
Shawn set her down, and kissed the top of her head gently. “Well, you’d better go get it then,” He said.
Elizabeth nodded, and off she went. Eden remained in her father’s arms, hugging him tightly.
“Well, somebody missed me,” He noted, as he kissed her cheek softly. He walked into the kitchen, and was instantly impressed. “Belle, it smells great in here.” He said. “What did you make me?” He asked.
“Oh, you’ll see,” She answered.
“Okay, have it your way.” He said. “Which reminds me, I forgot the champagne in the car.” He said. “Here, can you hold Eden for me?” Shawn said, walking closer to Belle.
“Sure.” Belle said, taking her in her arms. Belle kissed Eden’s forehead gently, and smiled warmly at her. Eden’s brown eyes were filled with excitement, and Belle knew it was because she was so happy to see her father home. Both girls missed their father so much – they constantly asked when he was coming home, and whenever he called from the agency, they both insisted on speaking to him.
Belle sighed happily as Eden put her tiny arms around Belle’s neck, and rested her head against her shoulder. Belle couldn’t believe how much she loved Shawn’s daughters…she had never been around children when she was growing up, and it surprised Belle how quickly she had adapted to taking care of the two girls.
Belle had always felt attached to the girls, even before Jan had left Shawn. Belle recalled visiting Shawn while he and Jan were married – they lived in the same building, and Shawn encouraged Belle to visit them. Belle instantly fell in love with the girls, but didn’t like the way Jan would glare at her every time she visited the Brady’s. So Belle took the hint that she wasn’t welcome, and refrained from going over so much. But Shawn didn’t like that. He would take the girls and go and visit her, without Jan.
As Belle glanced at Elizabeth, who was still in the living room, Belle thanked the Good Lord above that both girls inherited Shawn’s looks. They both had thick brown hair, and deep brown eyes. They also had the same facial features as their father – the same strong chin, the full cheeks – even their noses looked like Shawn’s!
It was probably because they were such a big part of Shawn’s life that Belle loved them so much. They had bought such joy to Belle’s life – she couldn’t imagine her life without them.
When Shawn returned from the car, he watched as Belle held Eden tightly in her arms. He was silent as he saw how comfortable Eden was in Belle’s arms – she was resting her head against her shoulder, and she was so content. He was so grateful for Belle – she definitely made up for Jan’s lousy parenting skills in spades.
He walked into the kitchen, and took the champagne out of the paper bag. He smiled at Belle as she turned to look at him, and said, “Looks like somebody is tired.”
Belle nodded. “We were out for most of the day,” Belle said. “I’ll give her some dinner, then tuck her into bed,” Belle said.
“No Belle, don’t.” Shawn said. “After we’ve finished dinner, let the kids stay up a bit. I miss them so much when I’m at work……….let them stay up a bit with us, and then I’ll tuck them into bed,” Shawn said.
Belle looked at Shawn in surprise. “Shawn, I don’t mind doing it, and they’re used to me putting them to bed,” Belle said. “Why do you want to do it all of a sudden?” She asked.
“Well…” Shawn stopped. He knew why, and he was going to tell her. “I want to help you out. You do so much for me Belle. I mean, you’re taking care of my daughters, and I see how much you enjoy it. I’m sorry to say, but Jan was never so loving and so caring with them when we were married,” Shawn said, frowning instantly as he said his ex-wife’s name. “And since business has been so good, Rex and I decided that we’re going to hire someone else to work with us. Which means I’ll get to spend some more time with you, and the girls,” He said.
“Really?” Belle said. “That’s great Shawn!” She said, her eyes lighting up. She cleared her throat after a minute and said, “For the girls I mean.”
Shawn looked at her suspiciously, but decided not to comment on her reaction. “Yeah well, now that I’ll be spending more time at home, I want to help you out. I feel so bad that you do everything around here, and all I do to help is eat the food that you make me every day,” He said jokingly.
“Shawn,” Belle said, giving him a stern look. “I’m here because I want to be. No one forced me to move in. You know that,” Belle said. “And the reason why I’m doing so much is because I want to. Liz and Eden mean the world to me. I love them as if they were my own flesh and blood,” Belle said.
“I know.” Shawn said quietly. “You don’t have to convince me.”
“Good, so then you know why I’m here.” She said. She smiled at Eden when she looked up at her.
“Belley!” Eden said excitedly.
“Yes honey,” Belle said.
“Coke!” She said, pointing to the fridge.
“After dinner,” Belle said. “I made you some mash potatoes, and some chicken legs,” Belle told her. She set her down, and said, “Now go and play with Lizzie while your daddy and I get ready for dinner,” She said.
Eden went off her to her sister, and sat down next to her in the living room.
“Okay, I’m going to set the table,” Belle said, as she walked over to the stove. As she did so, she was surprised when Shawn caught her arm. She felt her skin tingling from his touch, and she looked at him in surprise.
“Belle,” Shawn said, looking straight at her.
He exhaled slowly, and tried to slow his heartbeat. He liked touching her; he liked the way she was looking at him; like she was hoping for something more. He wondered again how Belle felt about him. Better still, he wondered just how HE felt about her.
“Why are you here?” He asked, tilting his head to the side as he continued to stare at her.
“What?” Belle said, frowning at him slightly. “What do you mean?”
“You mentioned that I know why you’re here,” He said.
Belle cleared her throat, and felt her heart pounding wildly in her chest. The way Shawn was looking at her unnerved her – it was as though he was eating her alive with his eyes. What had gotten into him?
“Yes,” She said, trying to keep her voice even. “You know why I’m here,” She repeated.
He shook his head. “No, I don’t. Why don’t you tell me?” He asked.
Belle turned away from him, avoiding his stare. She pretended to be busy at the stove, but she could feel his dark gaze on her.
“Shawn, that’s a silly question. You already know the answer,” She said. Liar! She thought to herself. She knew exactly why she was there – it was because she loved him. It was because he was everything to her, and she would do anything for him.
“Humour me,” He said quietly. “Belle, look at me when I talk to you,” He said gently. “What are you afraid of?”
“Nothing!” Belle exclaimed, instantly turning around to look at him. “Shawn, why are you asking me such a silly question? I’m here because you’re my friend – my best friend – and you needed someone to help you take care of your daughters. I love your children – I’ve never made a secret of that.” She told him. So why did he keep staring her so intently? She wondered.
“And that’s all?” He asked her.
Belle nodded slowly. “Should there be anything else?” She asked. She was lying through her teeth, but she couldn’t let him in on that.
“I guess not.” Shawn said. He waited a couple of minutes, then said, “I’m going to open this bottle of champagne,” He mumbled.
Belle tried to control her breathing as he walked over to the dining room. She was confused – why did Shawn look so strange as he asked her that question? It was weird, and she wished she knew what was going through Shawn’s mind at that very moment.
She glanced at the clock on the wall, and noticed that it was almost time to eat. She quickly got everything ready, and within minutes, the four of them were sitting in the dining room together.
“Belle, this is great – you cooked it just the way I liked it,” Shawn commented as he cleared his plate.
“Good. I was hoping you’d like it,” She said.
“I do. And the rice – it’s perfect, but what else is new?” He said, smiling as she blushed.
They moved Eden’s high chair to the dining area, and Belle made sure that Eden ate her dinner. She refused to eat herself until she saw that Eden was full.
“Belle, come on, don’t worry about Eden – she’s full.” Shawn told her.
“I just want to make sure that she doesn’t go to bed with an empty stomach,” Belle said, as she held out another spoon full of mash potatoes to her.
“She won’t,” Shawn said. “Now come on, eat your dinner before it gets cold,” Shawn said, glancing at her plate, which was still untouched.
Belle sat comfortably in her chair and sighed. “Okay.” She said. She lifted up her glass of champagne, and had a sip before she started to eat her dinner. She tried not to take notice of the fact that Shawn was watching her closely – it both pleased her and made her feel awkward.
When she was finally finished, she looked at Elizabeth’s plate, and noticed that she wasn’t quite done.
“Lizzie, you didn’t finish your broccoli,” She said to the young girl.
Elizabeth placed her elbows on the table, and looked at Belle defiantly. “I don’t like broccoli,” She said, sticking out her bottom lip in a pout.
Belle looked at her and sighed. “Yes you do, you silly goose. I made some for you just the other day, and you finished your plate. Why won’t you eat them now?”
Elizabeth shrugged, and looked away.
“Lizzie?” Belle said. “Look at me when I’m talking to you.”
Elizabeth turned to look at her said, “What?”
Belle sighed again. “Lizzie, you seem to have your mind somewhere else.” Belle said, in a simple but firm voice.
Elizabeth sighed heavily and said, “I want to go and watch TV.”
“And you will. Just as soon as you eat your broccoli.” Belle told her.
“Elizabeth,” Shawn said, interrupting them. “Belle said you can watch TV, AFTER you’ve finished your dinner.” Shawn said, looking at his older daughter intently.
Elizabeth picked up her fork and said, “Yes Daddy.”
Within minutes, the child had eaten her broccoli, and had wiped her hands and lips with the napkin provided.
“Now can I go back to the living room?” She asked, looking at Belle.
Belle nodded. “Just take your sister with you,” Belle said.
Belle took Eden out of her highchair, and she followed her sister into the living room.
“Thank you.” Belle said, once the girls were out of earshot.
Shawn smiled at her warmly. “You’re welcome.” He said.
Ten minutes later, Belle and Shawn were standing side by side at the sink, washing the dishes together.
“I could’ve done these myself,” Belle said, as she rinsed the dishes.
“I know. But I thought you could use some help,” Shawn said.
Belle turned to look at Shawn, and smiled at him. “Who are you, and what have you done with Shawn Brady?” She said.
Shawn looked stunned. “Hey, just because I want to help you, doesn’t mean that I’m acting out of character here,” He said.
“Oh no? I’ve been with you for how long? For six months now? And throughout this time, you’ve never once offered to help me.” Belle said. She raised her eyebrows at him and said, “What has gotten into you Shawn Douglas?”
“Nothing!” He exclaimed. “I just thought it would be nice to give you a hand. The sooner we’re done here, the sooner we can sit down and have a coffee together,” He said, in a firm voice.
“Okay.” Belle said. She was still confused, but she decided to drop the subject.
By the time they had cleaned up everything, it was time to give the girls their bath. After that was done, it was time to for them to go to sleep. Belle was surprised when Shawn came upstairs.
“Belle, I’ll take care of this. You go downstairs, and see if you can find us a good movie to watch on TV,” He said.
“Okay.” Belle said. She kissed each one of the girls good night, and made her way downstairs.
She was still flipping through the channels when Shawn came downstairs a short while later.
“Well, they’re asleep,” He said, as he sat down next to her on the couch.
“Good.” Belle said. “Thanks again.” She said to him, turning to face him.
“Any time,” He whispered.
There it was again, Belle thought to herself - that look. The one that left her totally breathless, the one that looked as though he was eating her alive. She didn’t know why he was looking at her that way, but she knew that it made her shiver. She turned away from him, pretending to watch the television set in front of her.
Shawn noticed how confused Belle was, and he noticed her slight frown as she looked ahead of her. She was wondering what he was doing, and to be honest, he didn’t know himself. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her; the other night, when they had been on the very some couch, tasting each other for the fist time, Shawn realized how much he wanted her.
She was the most wonderful and passionate woman he knew – she made him feel so many emotions, most of which he couldn’t even begin to describe. Was he falling in love with her?
No, he told himself. He wasn’t. Love destroys people, he thought. It destroyed lives, just like Jan had destroyed his. The only good thing that had come out of his marriage to Jan was his two precious daughters. Shawn convinced himself that what he felt for Belle was lust, not love.
Shawn had promised himself that he would never let himself fall in love again. But as he looked at Belle one more time, he wondered if he could keep that promise. If he didn’t, what in the world was he going to do if he was in love with his best friend?
He shook his head. It would ruin everything. Belle would find him revolting, and she would disappear from his life. That’s why he had to keep his feelings for her – whatever they were – a secret.
Belle could never know, because he would lose her, and so would his daughters. And he couldn’t risk that. He needed her too much.
“Okay, I think I look presentable,” Belle murmured, as she looked at herself in the full-length mirror in her bedroom. She decided to be a bit daring, and had bought a light pink bra top dress with a cutaway neck. The dress fell just above her knees, and hugged her curves perfectly. She had also bought a pair of matching beaded thongs to match her outfit. She knew she had put the dress on for Shawn’s benefit, and she wondered what he would do once he saw her in it.
It was quite hot that day, so Belle made sure to put her hair in a French braid. She only put on a bit of makeup, and she decided she would need her sunglasses, which were on the dresser.
“How do I look girls?” Belle asked, as she glanced at Elizabeth and Eden, who were sitting on her bed and watching her closely.
“Pwetty,” Eden said, giving her a bright smile.
“Great!” Elizabeth said, also smiling at her.
“Thanks!” Belle said. “Come on, your dad is probably waiting for us outside, we’d better get going,” Belle said.
They were going over to Philip and Mimi’s house that day, for a BBQ dinner. The couple had invited a few close friends over, and Belle couldn’t wait to get there. She had always gotten along with Mimi, ever since Shawn introduced them four years ago. Mimi and Philip had been married for about three years, and Shawn considered Philip to be his best friend.
Belle was holding Eden’s hand as she walked outside to the car, and Shawn watched her closely as she settled the girls into the backseat. She looked gorgeous, he thought to himself, as she sat down in the front seat. He couldn’t help but watch as Belle put her seatbelt on, and he almost sighed when he noticed her long tanned legs, and her pink dress, which hugged her perfect body. As he started the car, and made his way to Philip’s house, Shawn wondered why he was experiencing this awakening with Belle. Everything that she did amazed him. Anything that she wore looked fabulous on her. Every word she spoke sounded like music to Shawn’s ears. Why had it taken him so long to realize what a wonderful person she was?
Shawn was confused. He had always known how wonderful she was – after all, she had been his best friend for six years. He had known her longer than he had known Jan, and she had been his confidant as well as his best friend. But why was he suddenly realizing how desirable she was? How sexy she could be? Just a week earlier, he couldn’t keep his hands off of her. He didn’t know what had gotten into him when he had kissed her, and nearly made love to her on the sofa, but Shawn felt like his body had come alive, and it had taken every ounce of strength not to touch her again.
He almost resented the fact that she lived with him, simply because she was so close, and yet, he couldn’t do a thing about it.
Shawn found his thoughts filled with her – he told no one of his new feelings for her, and he was determined to make himself get rid of them. But how? And more importantly, did he want to?
He already knew the answer to that. No. Shawn knew he wouldn’t be able to control himself for much longer, and he wondered what would happen if he kissed her again – would she respond to him, just as she had before? And what if they weren’t interrupted this time – would she allow him to make love to her? Shawn wanted to – he wanted to pin her body underneath his, and take her to heaven and back, and hear her moan his name as he pressed himself between her thighs.
Shawn shook his head at the mental images that were appearing in his head. He could feel his erection straining against his shorts, and he knew he had to control himself. They would arrive at Philip’s house any minute now, and he couldn’t let anyone know what he had been thinking about. Especially Belle.
When they eventually pulled into Philip’s long driveway, Shawn concentrated on helping his daughters out of the car. He glanced at Belle as she took Eden’s hand, and they walked towards the back, when they noticed smoke coming from the backyard.
Philip greeted them with a friendly smile on his face, showing off his adorable dimples as he leaned forward and placed a kiss on Eden and Elizabeth’s cheeks.
“Hey girls, I have some colouring books and some crayons over by that picnic table – why don’t you go over there with my nephew Wil, and draw us something?” He said to them.
Both girls ran over, and Belle smiled warmly as she watched them.
“How are you doing Belle?” Philip said, as he turned to look at her.
“Me? Oh, I’m fine. Never better actually. How are you? How’s Mimi?” She asked.
“Mimi is fine. She’s just in the kitchen, getting ready to bring out some more food,” He said.
“Okay – let me see if she needs any help. I’ll talk to you guys later,” She said, and she walked over to the sliding door that led into the kitchen.
Shawn watched as she walked off, trying not to take notice of her luscious behind. She was quite a sight in that pink dress, and he sighed as she walked into the house.
“Dude!” Philip exclaimed. Obviously, he had seen the way his friend was looking at Belle.
Shawn immediately turned away, embarrassed that he had been caught.
“What?” He snapped, not meeting Philip’s eyes.
“Hey, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you have a thing for Belle,” Philip said. He gestured for them to walk over to the ice cooler, so they could each have a beer. Shawn instantly opened a beer, and took a long sip.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Shawn said, glancing at his girls, who were busy colouring with Wil.
“Hey, come on Shawn – I may be married, but I’m not dead, and I know for a fact that Belle is hot,” He said. He looked at his friend closely. “I don’t know – I think I’m seeing something different with you, but I can’t place my finger on it,” Philip mumbled.
“Philip, there’s nothing to see, so let’s drop it,” He said, hoping to change the subject to something else.
“You know, come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time you had a date,” Philip said. He thought about something, and then smiled. “You know, Mimi’s friend Cynthia was asking about you the other day – again.” Philip said. “Want me to set you two up on a date?”
Shawn looked at Philip, and sighed. “Phil, how many times have you tried to set me up with her?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Why don’t you refresh my memory?” He asked, grinning at his friend.
“Every time you bring Cynthia up, I want to puke,” Shawn mumbled, as he took another sip of his beer.
“I find it interesting that you don’t want to date Cynthia,” Philip noted. “Any particular reason?”
“No!” Shawn exclaimed. He avoided Philip’s stare. “I know what you’re going to say, so don’t even go there!”
“What?” Philip said, trying to look innocent. “I was just going to say that maybe it had something to do with Belle,” Philip said.
“What?” Shawn said. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“Maybe you don’t want to date Cynthia, because deep down, you know the only girl you want is Belle,” Philip said. He walked with Shawn to one of the picnic tables and sat down next to him. “Come on Shawn, admit it – you want Belle.”
“You’re crazy,” Shawn muttered. He stared straight ahead, determined not to tell Philip the truth. Because deep down, he knew Philip was right. Shawn did want Belle, but he could never admit it.
“I don’t know buddy,” Philip said. He noticed that Shawn was avoiding his gaze, and he said, “The last time you went out on a date was what? A year ago?” Philip said.
“I had a couple after the divorce,” Shawn said, in a low voice. “But there were a couple of clients from the agency, and nothing worked out,” Shawn said.
“Right,” Philip said. “Or maybe you didn’t want them to, because all along, you had the hots for Belle,” Philip said.
Shawn turned to look at Philip. “Would you please stop saying that? You’re making me uncomfortable. Belle is my best friend, and she’s been like a mother to my daughters,” Shawn said. “If she overhears us, there’s no telling what she’ll think. So please, can we drop this Philip?”
“Hey, if it really bothers you buddy-“
“It does.” Shawn said, interrupting him. “So please, let’s talk about something else.”
“Okay.” Philip said. They started talking about other things, such as work, and how business was for Philip.
Philip was the only son of millionaire Victor Kirakis, and Philip was Vice President of Titan Industries. Philip had met Shawn through the agency, and the two men had gotten along instantly.
Philip had met his wife, Mimi, through Titan. Mimi had been a college intern, and her and Philip had begun dating, and within a year, Philip had proposed. The young couple were now trying to have a baby, and Philip hoped that Mimi would be giving him good news soon.
Philip considered Shawn a valuable friend, so he knew when something was bothering him. Or, should he say, someone. Someone who’s name was Belle Black. Philip always wondered if they had deeper feelings for one another, and for the first time in years, he was sensing something from Shawn. Philip knew he needed to speak with his wife, so he could get her opinion on it. He made a mental note to talk to Mimi, once he had a chance.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Belle and Mimi were talking up a storm.
“Meems, you have to tell me where you got those pants – they’re gorgeous!” Belle exclaimed, as she admired them once again.
Mimi smiled as she glanced at her cotton cropped trousers. They were grey, and had a drawstring at the hem, and patch pockets. Mimi also had a cotton hooded sleeveless top, with ribbed edging to complete the look. Her hair was up in a ponytail, and her make up was flawless, as usual.
“I actually got them at Salem Place,” Mimi said, as she lifted a tray of appetizers. “Come on, let’s go outside,” She said, walking towards the sliding door. “They were on sale at Baron’s – maybe we could go together tomorrow, and see if they have any left. I’m sure they’d have some in your size,” Mimi said.
Belle nodded. “Oh goody – we get to go shopping – again,” Belle said, giggling with Mimi as they walked outside. Mimi placed the appetizers on the long table that was set up, and sighed.
“Okay, I’ll call you tomorrow, and we’ll get together,” Mimi said. She frowned as she looked at the table in front of her once again. “Am I missing anything?” She asked.
Belle shook her head. “Everything looks great,” Belle said.
Philip and Mimi lived in a modest two-story house. Obviously, they could afford something much larger, but Mimi had wanted something simple. The backyard was quite big, and it had been transformed into a wonderful atmosphere for the get together. They was a BBQ off to the side of the yard, and Philip’s half brother Lucas was busy making the burgers and the hotdogs. His girlfriend Sami was helping him out, and Belle noticed the heated glances between the two. Sami and Lucas had finally started dating – they were Wil’s parents, but up until recently, had hated each other. Everyone was relieved when they were able to see eye to eye about their son, and eventually, they admitted their love for one another.
The yard was filled with picnic tables, which were covered in bright red table clothes. Belle noticed a stack of papers plates and utensils on each picnic table. They was one table off to the side, which had a CD player on it, and Belle could hear the soft music of Celion Dion being played. She couldn’t tell which song it was, but she liked what she was hearing.
Belle’s heart nearly stopped when she noticed Shawn sitting at one of the picnic tables with Philip, not too far from where she was standing. The two looked to be in a heavy conversation, and Belle couldn’t help but sigh as she noticed once more how perfect he looked. He was wearing a pair of jean shorts, and a blue tank top. His gold cross was displayed against his broad chest, and his hair was parted in the middle. Belle noticed he had worn his gold hooped earring, which made her heart beat even quicker. Did he even realize how handsome he was, Belle thought to herself. She shook her head, and was surprised when Mimi spoke up.
“Have long have you been in love with him?”
Belle’s face was bright red as she turned to face her friend.
“What do you mean?” Belle asked, placing her trembling hands in front of her as she answered her.
Mimi glanced at Shawn, and then looked at Belle again.
“How long have been in love with Shawn?” She asked, smiling at her.
Belle didn’t know what to say; she had never confided into anyone but her mother, and she wondered if she could trust Mimi.
“Belle honey, you know anything you tell me will stay between the two of us,” She said gently. “I kind of get the feeling that you need to share your feelings with someone,” She said.
Belle finally nodded. “I’ve loved him since high school,” She said quietly. She looked at him once more, and sighed. “I think I’ve loved him since the moment he introduced himself to me,” Belle admitted.
“Oh Belle, I can just imagine how hard it’s been for you,” Mimi said, putting her hand on her shoulder.
Belle nodded. “It’s been hard, yes.” Belle said. “But what else can I expect? I’ve known since day one that Shawn doesn’t love me – not the way I want him to anyway,” Belle said. She bit her lip. “Look Meems, I haven’t told anyone, and if Shawn ever found out, I think I’d lose him,” Belle said nervously.
“Belle, say no more honey,” Mimi said. The two women sat down at one of the picnic tables, and Mimi took one of Belle’s hands in her own. “Look, I don’t know how Shawn feels about you, but I’m positive that he cares for you, a great deal,” Mimi said. “I mean, you’ve been his rock Belle, even before he started dating Jan Spears,” Mimi said.
Belle got a sour look on her face and said, “Please, do NOT mention that name again,” Belle murmured.
“Sorry,” Mimi said.
“It’s okay.” Belle said. Belle saw an ice cooler in front of her, and reached for a beer. “Look Mimi, I never want Shawn to know – I couldn’t take it if I lost him.” Belle confessed.
“Belle, you’ll never lose him.” Mimi said. “He cares for you too much.”
“I know, but he only cares for me as a friend.” Belle said. When she thought about the kisses they had shared last week, she blushed. He didn’t think of her as a friend – not anymore. Not since that night he had lay on top of her, and kissed her breasts, and she felt her pulse beating wildly as she thought about that night once again. She quickly opened her beer, and took a sip, trying to calm herself down.
“Belle, maybe you should tell him; maybe-“
“No Mimi!” Belle exclaimed. “Please, you have to promise me that you’ll never tell anyone,” Belle pleaded. “Please, promise me!”
Mimi looked into Belle’s eyes, and saw the desperation in them. She knew she couldn’t say no to Belle, and she nodded. “Don’t worry – he’ll never find out from me.”
Belle sighed in relief. “Thank you Mimi,” She said.
Belle was grateful that Mimi would keep her secret, and at the same time, she was glad that she could finally open up to someone about her feelings. It wasn’t good for her to keep these feelings locked in, and she knew she had found someone she could trust.
An hour later, Kevin Lambert arrived with his girlfriend, Susan Adams. He worked for Titan, and was a good friend of Philip’s. He immediately went over to Philip and Shawn, and the three of them began to talk about guy things, such as sports and cars.
Susan joined Belle and Mimi, and they talked pleasantly, and were later joined by Cassie DiMera, and her twin Rex, who happened to be Shawn’s partner at the agency. Philip had only invited a handful of people, and there was one more person that hadn’t arrived yet.
Philip bit his lip, having second thoughts about inviting this one particular guest. He knew Shawn would be upset with him, and he hoped he would forgive him. Twenty minutes later, Cynthia Page showed up, and Belle felt her heart sink when she saw her.
She had known Cynthia for a while now - she was always coming onto Shawn, even though Shawn never showed any type of interest in her. Still, she didn’t know how she would cope, watching her flirt with Shawn, right in front of her eyes.
To Belle’s surprise, and to everyone else’s, Shawn gave Cynthia a dirty look, as soon as she approached him. Cynthia didn’t take the hint, and followed Shawn when he walked over to Belle.
“Belle, the girls are having a great time, don’t you think?” He said, smiling at her, once he had approached her. He still wasn’t aware that Cynthia was right behind him.
Belle nodded, but said nothing. Shawn noticed that Belle was acting weird, so when he finally turned around, he groaned.
“Cynthia,” He said, in a calm voice. “I’ve tried to be polite, and I’ve tried to be nice, but obviously, you can’t take a hint,” He said.
Cynthia looked shocked. “What do you mean?”
Shawn sighed impatiently. “Look, I don’t like you – not the way you think I do. I’m not interested in dating you – I never have been, and I never will be. Now if you’ll excuse me, I was trying to have a conversation with this beautiful woman here,” He said, turning around and facing Belle once again.
Belle felt her hands shaking with excitement – Shawn had called her beautiful. He had never called her beautiful, and she knew she was being an idiot for getting so excited, but she couldn’t help herself.
Cynthia wasn’t pleased, however, and she went and stood next to Belle.
“Shawn,” She said, obviously not pleased with the way he was talking to her. “What are you doing with this loser, when you could be having a great time with a REAL woman,” She said, smiling at him flirtatiously.
Shawn sighed once again. “For you information, Belle is more a woman than you’ll ever be. If you insult her one more time, I’ll say a few things too, and believe me, they won’t be pretty,” He said, looking at her with contempt in his eyes.
Cynthia was shocked at his words, and she walked away, obviously embarrassed.
Belle however, couldn’t stop smiling.
“Did you really mean that?” She said, hoping that she didn’t appear to be too happy, even though her heart was singing with joy.
Shawn looked at her, and smiled. “Yes.” He said. Shawn glanced behind his shoulder when he noticed some couples swaying to the music blaring from the CD player, and he held out his hand to her. “Care to dance with me?” He asked.
“I’d love to,” Belle said softly.
They put their arms around each other hesitantly, but once Shawn came into contact with her warm body, he couldn’t help but hold her close. His arms hooked themselves around her thin waist, and he felt her hands wrap around his neck.
Her blue eyes were filled with contentment, and he dared to hope that it was because of him. Had he flattered her with his words? Was she pleased that he had said those things to Cynthia? He hadn’t meant to flatter her – he had merely been speaking the truth.
Belle felt her heart pounding furiously in her chest, and she couldn’t tear her eyes away from his face. He was looking at her closely, like he wanted to say something to her, but somehow, he didn’t. She knew this was dangerous. She was too close to him, and she could feel herself becoming vulnerable. Belle worried that somehow; she would confess her true feelings to him. But she reminded herself that she couldn’t, even though the words were on the tip of her tongue.
‘I love you Shawn’, she thought to herself. ‘I love the way you’re holding me in your arms, and the way you’re looking at me – like I’m the only woman in the universe’.
From a distance, Mimi watched as Shawn and Belle swayed together, their eyes glued to one another. She danced with Philip, and a thought suddenly occurred to her.
“Shawn’s in love with Belle, isn’t he?” Mimi said, her eyes filled with understanding.
Philip didn’t look surprised, as his wife continued to speculate about Shawn’s feelings.
“He’s loved her since day one – even before he married Jan, but he’s just realizing his feelings now.” She noticed her husband was silent. “Philip - am I right?”
“Why do you think Shawn is in love with her?” Philip asked, careful not to divulge anything his friend had told him earlier in the evening.
“Well, look at him – he’s dancing so closely with her, and he can’t keep his eyes off of her.” Mimi said.
Philip looked at them, and nodded. “You’re right.” Philip said. “And you know what? I think Shawn is in love with her – he’s just too afraid to admit it.”