Two days later...
The blinding flashes from the cameras brightened the dark and gloomy winter afternoon. It was bitterly cold outside and yet the infamous Chicago wind did not deter the paparazzi from their mission. Every glimpse they could see of Belle, Shawn or any of their family was followed by a barrage of flashes. They were kept away by heavy security John arranged with the hospital administrators in order to not only keep Belle safe but other patients. Eventually the limousine was able to make its way through the thick crowd around the perimeter of the hospital.
"Simon is here," John stated as he walked back into the hospital lobby. "Izzy B are you ready? We're going to keep you shielded as much as possible."
Shawn moved from behind the wheelchair he had been previously pushing and walked around to face Belle. Stooping down in front of her his comforting gaze met her frightened eyes. He took her hands in his. "How are you holding up sweetie?"
"I'll be better once this is over with," she sighed. "I can't believe there so many people here. I thought the press statement was supposed to prevent this."
"It should have, but who knows what's going on in these people's heads. But we'll get through this. You know I'll be with you." He touched her cheek gently and gave her a warm smile. Slowly standing up he bent over and kissed her softly on her forehead. "Let's get you home." Belle nodded her head in response and Shawn looked at John and Brady who stood nearby, both of whom were ready and willing to serve as shields between Belle and the number of paparazzi outside.
With a here goes nothing attitude Shawn pushed the wheelchair toward the door with John and Brady on either side of him. Immediately met by the bright flashes of the cameras they hurried to the limousine. Simon quickly helped Belle inside and Shawn soon slipped inside with her. Simon closed the door and rushed inside, soon speeding off from the hospital.
John and Brady stood outside overwhelmed by the barrage of questions and camera flashes. Both were growing angrier with the insensitivity the reporters were treating the situation. It was only a matter of time before one or both of them blew up at the crowd. Brady was fed up first when he happened to hear one of the most bothersome comments he could have ever heard.
I bet there was no miscarriage. It's probably a story to cover up plastic surgery or something.
"You people are the most insensitive bunch of ingrates I have ever had the displeasure of being around! Damn you all for thinking this is some sort of ploy! DAMN YOU!" he exploded. Feeling John's firm hand on his shoulder to calm down, he hung his head down and took a deep breath. In a tremulous voice he continued. "If any of you people had a heart you wouldn't cheapen this. Shawn and Belle are hurting and going through a rough time. Respect that. Give them a break, they deserve it." His heart felt plea seemed to strike a chord with the reporters and soon the flashes began to diminish and the barrage of questions subsided.
Shawn emerged from the bathroom to see Belle laying on her bed. He walked to her and she looked up to see him coming closer.
"Your bath is ready," he said quietly. He took her hand and helped her up from bed.
"Thank you Shawn," she smiled warmly and kissed him softly on the cheek.
"You are more than welcome. Now go enjoy and I'll work on getting dinner ready. I just want you to relax. I'll take care of everything."
Belle gave him a shy smile and curled her arms around his neck. He pulled her closer to him and they hugged deeply. Shawn enveloped her in his strong arms, closing his eyes gently as he held her he said a silent prayer for God to give them both strength to continue to cope. Slowly he let her go, kissing her temple gently he released her and with a warm smile he encouraged her to enjoy her bath.
"Go relax," he whispered. He watched her eventually make her way into the bathroom and he walked out of her room back into the kitchen. Grabbing his phone off the counter he made the call he had been dreading making for almost a full day.
"Masters," Jason answered dryly.
"Jason, hey man."
"Shawn," he said relieved. "God I was hoping you would check in."
"Sorry man this whole thing has just been unbelievable. The press is hounding us and ... I'm just drained. Belle has just been in a daze and I'm working on very little sleep."
"So how long do you plan on staying in Chicago?"
"I'm not sure. I couldn't go back to work now even if I tried. I really don't want to leave her until I'm sure she's strong enough for me to go." He sighed out of frustration. "God I just don't want to leave her but I know I can't stay here forever. I may just talk her into coming to LA with me. I can't leave her."
"But you can't keep the show on hold. They're doing as much as they can without you but Shawn you are the star. Scenes without you are limited."
"I'm aware of that Jason and I don't want to put things on hold any more than I have to. But I've talked to Kevin and he said to take as long as I needed and I intend to do that."
"Understood. Just keep me posted and you take good care of Belle."
"That's what I plan on doing," Shawn assured.
Brady sat staring at the television, his eyes narrowing and jaw clenched as he grew more angry at the situation. Gripping the remote control he sat stunned that his baby sister's ordeal was being heavily scrutinized by the press. Images of her being wheeled out of the hospital and hurriedly escorted into the limousine were the highlight of the entertainment section of the all-news channel. A sound bite of his plea to the press to leave Belle and Shawn alone was played, but it was so short the hurt he felt was lost in the snippet. He sighed heavily, tightening his grip on the remote until he came close to breaking it. Letting out a deep sigh, he sank back into the deep cushions of his plush sofa and watched as a montage of Shawn and Belle's public appearances flashed across the screen. There was one thing Brady could not deny and that was how truly happy Belle looked in every clip. Belle had the kind of personality where she was in good spirits most of the time, a stark contrast to Brady's own cynical and moody behavior. When he watched how she and Shawn interacted in those vignettes it somehow brought a smile to his face despite all that was happening now and what the reporter was saying about them. That happiness Belle felt was because of Shawn and he knew that if anyone would be able to help her cope it would be him.
Mimi walked in to see Brady staring at the TV intensely. Sitting down next to him she handed him a cup of tea and she joined him.
"Thanks. This is exactly what I needed. My nerves are shot."
"I figured this would relax you," she replied with a faint smile.
"I can't believe this is happening. For Belle to miscarry and then for the press to make into something so cheap. I can't even believe people would think it was a story to cover up something else. People are just unbelievable!"
"I know," Mimi agreed somewhat distantly.
"Is something wrong?"
"I, um... I wasn't sure when to bring this up but I've got to go out of town tomorrow."
"Tomorrow? With all that's happening you'd leave Belle now?"
"Brady I've put things on hold for the past three days. I have to go on with life. Belle doesn't need us all putting a hold on our lives."
He sighed. "You have a point. I do appreciate you being around."
"Of course. Belle is my best friend. I couldn't just leave, but I think Shawn has things under control."
"You're right, I think he does although part of me thinks he's taking on a bigger burden than he can carry. I was thinking of going by Belle's apartment sometime tomorrow to see how they're doing."
"That sounds like a good idea."
"So where are you going?"
"Los Angeles. It's just some last minute consultant work. No big thing. I'll be back in two days."
"You wouldn't happen to be meeting with Victor would you?"
"That's not the reason for my visit although he knows I'll be in town. But don't worry, I've signed a contract with Countess Willamina. Victor can talk until he's blue in the face. I will not sign with Titan."
"I believe you."
"I would hope so. Anyway, let's not talk about this anymore and now that I'm thinking about it why don't you stop torturing yourself by watching this stuff. You know this is pure sensationalism."
Bo talked briefly with Shawn on the phone, cutting his conversation with him short as Hope eagerly looked at him waiting to speak with their son. Soon Bo relinquished the phone to his wife who was anxious to hear from Shawn. After all they had read in the headlines of the tabloids and snippets seen on the television everyone in Salem had been beyond concerned. Shawn had called shortly after his arrival in Chicago a few days ago but they had not heard anything since.
"How is Belle?" Hope asked full of worry.
"She is as well as can be expected. She's recovering from her surgery so she's experiencing a lot of soreness. I think we're both coping as best as we can with all of this. Before we left the hospital this morning, the doctor talked with us. The good news is she's healing well and he explained that since her fallopian tube did not rupture it should not reduce her chances of having children in the future."
"That is good news. Shawn, your father and I are relieved that Belle is fine and that you were able to be with her."
"There's no other place I would be. Belle means everything to me."
"I know she does sweetheart. But Shawn, I need to ask you what your plans for the future are with Belle. Honey I know you love her but ..."
"But nothing Mom. I love Belle now more than ever. If anything, all that's been happening has shown me how much and that I don't want us to be apart anymore. We're busy people which already makes life complicated but add in the distance and I'm amazed we've gotten this far. Something has got to change."
"Shawn you told me that Belle was going to slow down and stay in Chicago more than Europe. You were so excited that she was making that change."
"I was, at the time but now it's not enough anymore."
"Shawn what are you saying? Don't overreact and become too protective and overbearing. I know what you are trying to do. But if you do this you'll only push Belle away and I know that's the last thing you want to do. "
"Mom I'm trying to do what's best for her."
"By smothering her? Shawn it doesn't work that way. Just calm down and think this through rationally. Talk with Belle about your concerns and your fears, but don't push anything on her. Whatever decision she makes is hers not yours."
Shawn allowed Hope's words to sink in and he knew she had a point but he wasn't too willing to concede at this time. "We'll see," he replied distantly.
"Just think about it Shawn. Now go look after Belle and let her know that we all send her our love."
"I will Mom. Thanks for the talk." After hanging up the phone he felt even more confused. He walked back into Belle's bedroom and she was walking out of the bathroom wrapped up in her thick bathrobe. "How was your bath?" He smiled trying to keep the mood light but it wasn't an easy task.
"It was relaxing. It gave me a chance to think about some things."
"Oh yeah? Like what?"
"Us primarily. About how wonderful you've been these last few days."
"Sweetheart you know I wouldn't be anywhere else but here with you."
"I know, but you've put things on hold enough for me. You don't have to feel obligated to stay and take care of me. I'll be ok."
"You want me to go?" Shawn asked full of hurt and shock.
"Not really but I don't want you to think you have to stay. I don't want to be a burden or anything I know you have to get back to LA."
"Belle you could never be a burden. I don't even feel obligated to be here. I want to be here. I have to be here. What kind of man would I be if I wasn't here? Belle," he said her name gently and moved closer to her. Touching her cheek softly he gave her a warm smile. "I love you and I'm going to take care of you for as long as I can."
"What are you saying Shawn? How long are you staying?"
"Well I was thinking that you should move to LA and live with me."
"Why? My life is here. I'm not ready to make that type of change yet Shawn. You know that I can't do that now."
"I think you can at least try. You're used to not working here, why not relocate to LA? Your Dad is your boss. I'm sure he can work something out with you. Don't you want to at least try?"
"I can't talk about this now. This is just too much too fast. Shawn I love you and I obviously want to be with you but I'm not ready to move in with you."
Her comment hit Shawn like a ton of bricks. "But, Belle I hate to bring this up but if you were still pregnant you would have at least moved out to LA."
"Shawn you can't throw in a 'what if' situation as the basis of your argument. That just doesn't work. We have to deal with what is actually happening and the point is I am not ready to move in with you. Not at this point. I just phased out modeling. I can't change everything overnight. It doesn't work that way. You have to understand that."
"Part of me does. I just feel very strongly that you shouldn't be alone. I know your family is here but I don't want to be away from you and I know I can't stay here forever."
"It sounds like this is more for your peace of mind," Belle observed.
"I guess it is, but can you blame me?"
She shook her head no in response. "I can't blame you. It's frustrating and I think we're both a little too on edge to really think this through properly."
"You're right." He smiled warmly and pulled her close for a reassuring hug. "I'm sorry for pushing. That's the last thing I wanted to do. My Mom warned me."
"You never listen to her anyway and she is always right," Belle teased.
"You're right," he chuckled. "I guess I'll never stop being stubborn. Do you forgive me?"
"Of course. And, we can fly out to LA in a few days after my follow up with the doctor. I was just thinking that I'll be on leave anyway, there's no harm in me staying with you for a couple of weeks. I'm not moving in, but this is at least a compromise."
"I think that's a great compromise." He kissed her head softly, and continued to hold her close to him. "Thank you."
Two weeks later...
Shawn pulled up in front of the Italian restaurant, one of his favorite spots. The ambiance was great, the food was fabulous and he knew that it was the best place to take Belle for Valentine's Day. Over the last two weeks he tried his best to make sure Belle didn't regret her decision to leave Chicago for him, at least until she was ready to go back to work. That was their compromise. It eased his mind and it gave her a chance to put work behind her as much as possible. Over the last couple of weeks they stayed in mostly. Belle would occasionally go with Shawn on the Chicago Force set and Jason treated her like a queen when Shawn was busy. During the evenings they would often walk along the beach and talk about everything. Despite the good times they were having, Shawn knew Belle well enough that she was getting antsy. He wanted to make the night special.
The valet attendant opened the passenger door, helping Belle out and Shawn jumped out of the car, handing the keys over and slipping the young man a nice tip to encourage him to take special care of his car. He knew the chances of that were probably slim to none, but it never hurt to try was his rationale.
Shawn soon joined Belle at her side, and she slipped her arm through his. They walked in and were immediately seated at a quaint table for two in a more private area of the restaurant.
"It's nice to be out," Belle commented with a radiant smile.
Shawn melted as he looked at her. It had been a while since he had seen her look this happy. He took that as a positive sign for the evening. "I always love to see you smile," he said as he gently touched her hand that rested on the table.
"I have a lot to smile about. I know this might sound kind of weird but I haven't had a date on Valentine's Day in so long I just ... I don't know, I just feel giddy. I have you to thank you for that feeling."
"I just want to make you happy. I know how hard it is for you to be out here and not working. I don't want you to regret giving into my overprotective wishes."
"I don't regret it. And I don't think you're being overprotective, not extremely anyway. I know this is your way to deal with everything."
"It is. It makes me feel better that you're here. I just want to take care of you and I know I may push and get a little hardheaded. I'm only like that because you mean so much to me and ..."
"It's ok, Shawn," Belle interrupted. "You don't have to explain your actions. I understand and it doesn't bother me ... yet. How can I be bothered? You've been so wonderful and understanding, especially since my last doctor's appointment."
Shawn smiled at her response. He thought back to when Belle's doctor said they should wait at least two months but preferably three for Belle's body to completely heal. Shawn took it all in stride, knowing the restriction would test him in ways he never thought possible. "I will always support you because I love you so much. We'll get through this. I have that faith in us."
"I do, too."
"Happy Valentines Day," he smiled and raised his glass.
Clinking her glass against Shawn's, Belle smiled in return. "Happy Valentines Day."
The evening progressed, enjoying their time together and the fabulous Italian food. It was perfect. After a nice time at the restaurant they made their way out and the valet attendant made his way to retrieve Shawn's car. As they waited, Shawn had Belle laughing at a story he was sharing about a time he had been at the restaurant with Jason and Philip. The one thing that was always guaranteed was if Jason was involved something hysterical was most likely going to happen. He had a propensity for getting himself into trouble or finding himself in humorous situations. Laughing and enjoying themselves, their happiness soon faded when a barrage of bright lights interrupted their evening. A photographer with no scruples whatsoever clicked the camera furiously. The light blinded them and as Shawn tried to look away, he instinctively shielded Belle from the intrusion and put his hand up to prevent any good looks at them.
"Leave us alone!" he yelled. "DAMN IT! JUST! LEAVE!" he shouted but his words didn't deter the eager photographer. The car eventually pulled up. "Get in the car Belle," he said gruffly. Belle couldn't help but notice that Shawn didn't appear to be making a move to the car, only towards the photographer.
"GET IN THE CAR!" he yelled. Taken aback by his abruptness she stood by the car stunned as she watched Shawn walk to the intrusive man. In an instant he grabbed the camera and frantically opened it, ripping out the film and throwing it down on the ground in disgust. He pushed the camera against the man's chest, causing the man to stumble down and fall onto the sidewalk. "Damn you, you son of a bitch," Shawn snarled and swiftly turned to walk away.
"You'll hear from my lawyer!" the photographer yelled, as he watched Shawn coolly approach his sleek black Jaguar.
Shawn continued to walk to the car. "Be my guest you bastard!" he replied calmly without turning his head. He soon disappeared into the car and sped off.
"Shawn are you ok?" Belle asked concerned as she watched him drive like a man possessed. In all the time they had spent together, Belle had never seem him this angry. He stared out straight ahead without flinching or acknowledging her question. Belle grew increasingly more concerned and somewhat scared not only for her, but mainly for Shawn. There was no telling what was going on in his head.
His speed continued to increase as he zipped through the streets. Changing gears at a frantic pace, the LA streets were now his own personal race track.
"SHAWN!" Belle yelled. Her hands tightly held the car door, gripping the leather interior with all her might as they approached a red light at a busy intersection and Shawn's speed had not diminished. Her loud scream brought Shawn out of his trance and he slammed on the brakes bringing the sports car to an abrupt halt, skidding toward the intersection. It stopped only inches past the solid white line.
Breathing heavily, Belle looked ahead stunned, amazed that the two of them did not end up in a colossal car accident on the night that had started out so magical for her. Staring straight ahead she couldn't allow herself to look at Shawn. She had no idea what had happened to him. Her whole life had just flashed before her eyes, and it was impossible for her to at him just yet.
Gripping the steering wheel tightly, Shawn couldn't allow himself to let go. He wondered how he could have been so careless. His erratic behavior almost got both him and Belle killed. Panicked by what was happening all he could do was hang his head down in defeat, his forehead rested against the steering wheel which he still held onto with all his might. His knuckles turning white as he denied appropriate blood flow to his fingers. Reality slowly started to sink in and he started shaking, trembling and breaking out into a cold sweat.
How could I be so stupid?
His thoughts consumed him to the point where he felt ashamed and disgusted with his behavior. He overreacted. He lost all self control.
God help me...
Belle watched him. His shoulders slumped, and his face hidden from her. She saw him trembling and his breathing became shallow and frequent, almost to the point of hyperventilation.
"Shawn?" she called his name gently and hesitantly touched his shoulder. He immediately shrugged her off, and her heart broke. How could everything change so quickly? "Shawn please talk to me," she pleaded softly.
He remained quiet for a moment. "I'm so sorry Belle." His voice was tremulous and muffled, never changing his slumped position. "I shouldn't have ... I just ... I ... I ..."
"Shhh," Belle tried to comfort him. Slowly raising her hand to him again, her fingers gently touched his hair, stroking the dark strands affectionately. He did not repel her touch this time and she continued to console him. "Shawn it's ok."
His head shot up and he looked at her, shaking his head vigorously. "NO! No it's not ok. I lost it Belle! I shouldn't have let that guy get to me and I did and I almost got us killed! There's no excuse for my behavior. NONE!"
"Shawn, sweetie I know you're upset but please. We need to get going. We can't just stay parked here in the street. Please, just take a deep breath and we'll talk when we get home. Please Shawn," she begged.
Shawn looked up to see the green light staring down at him and with slow, deliberate actions he shifted gears and the car moved off. He drove cautiously, somewhat timidly down the street. The next twenty minutes they drove in virtual silence. Once they arrived at Shawn's house. Parked in the driveway neither budged as they were overcome with a feeling of extreme awkwardness.
The silence was getting to Belle and she tried to break the ice once again. She hoped her attempt wouldn't be ignored like the previous ones she made during their drive. "Why don't we take a walk on the beach? That always makes you feel better," she suggested.
Shawn remained quiet for a length of time until he suddenly opened the door. "You're right," he said with a slight smile. Hurriedly he got out and before Belle could react, he was at her door and helping her out. Closing the door behind he reached out to her, grabbing her by the waist and she stopped. Slowly Belle turned around to face Shawn, whose solemn expression was slowly starting to dissipate.
"I'm sorry I ruined tonight. This is probably not how you thought you'd spend Valentines Day."
"You didn't ruin it. The paparazzi did. You just reacted, but don't let it change our plans to spend the evening together." Belle looked at him with hopeful and eager eyes. Touching his cheek gently, he leaned into her hand, savoring the feel of her soft caress. "Despite the intrusion, this has still been the best Valentines Day," she said softly. "And I have a feeling you want to make it even better." They looked into each others eyes lovingly. No words or actions could express what they were saying to each other with the intensity of their gaze.
Shawn reached for Belle's hand, holding it gently in his own. He gave her a reassuring smile, letting her know he did not want to dwell on the awful intrusion after dinner. Belle returned the smile and then glanced over at the secluded beach nearby. Looking back at Shawn her smile grew. "How about that walk?"
Three months later...
Wednesday, May 20
Titan International, Inc.
Early Wednesday morning Victor Kiriakis sat in his office growing more frustrated as he read the headlines of the business section. Basic Black Fashion Soaring to New Heights. Angrily he threw the paper down on his desk. He knew the reason for Basic Black's success was his former company Countess Willamina and the acquisition of Style of Choice Designs. Victor realized he had no hope of making amends with Kate and Billie, but he felt he still had a chance with Mimi. No other designer would do. She was the best and to Victor Kiriakis, only the best worked at Titan.
Resolved to take care of business and realizing his opportunity was prime he picked up his phone and dialed the one person he trusted to handle his affairs.
"Nico I need your help. I've recently learned that Mimi Lockhart will be in town two days from now for the opening of a new boutique. Make sure that my son is there. I don't care how just make sure he's there. Philip is still pining over her. He may not want to help me directly but he'll do it without knowing."
"I'm on it sir."
Friday, May 22
Mimi arrived in LA with less than 2 hours to spare to get to her hotel, drop off her things and make it to the early evening opening in time. The owner of the boutique was a good friend of Mimi's who had supported her over the years and the two often collaborated on a number of projects together. Especially their most recent endeavor which had Mimi traveling to LA far more often than she was used to over the last few months. She and Belle would often joke about it because the tables had somehow turned. Mimi was in LA almost every week, while Belle's trips were becoming less regular as she picked up the pace with the foundation and making appearances at a number of charity and social events, many times solo but on occasion Shawn was able to join her.
Mimi hopped out of the limousine to see the modest sized crowd gathered in front of the new Beverly Hills establishment. Joining the others and quickly recognizing many there, she quickly greeted a number of people, easily becoming her sociable self with the others. This was what Mimi enjoyed. Meeting with people, talking and catching up with old friends as well as making new ones was what Mimi looked forward to the most with what she did. After picking up a finger sandwich from the nice spread of appetizers and keeping her glass of white wine in hand she continued to mingle with the crowd when she stopped in her tracks at the sight of the handsome blonde who casually walk inside. Philip Roberts was the last person she expected to see and it had been months since she had seen him last. He looked as good as she remembered, if not better. That extreme sense of confidence that bordered on arrogance was very much present as he charmed those he walked by. Soon he saw Mimi in the distance and he immediately smiled, his deep, gorgeous dimples coming into view. As he made his way to her, Mimi remained relaxed. Taking a slow sip of wine she appeared as calm as possible, not nervous or highly anticipating his arrival.
"Well isn't this a pleasant surprise!" Philip said happily with a slight chuckle.
"It's so good to see you Philip," Mimi smiled. They greeted each other with a hug and a light kiss on the cheek. "So what are you doing here? I never expected you to be at something like this."
"Yeah you're right. I usually don't come to these things but I'm doing a favor for the show. The owner has done a lot of work with us so it's one of those type of things. I wasn't doing much so here I am, and I sure am glad I came," he grinned. "You really look good Mimi. So, what have you been up to? How's your business?"
"Which one?" she asked in a light laugh. "My company is now a part of Basic Black. Actually, your mom is my boss. She tells me she never talks with you about business so I wasn't sure if you knew that or not."
"Actually I didn't. I knew she and Billie were with Basic Black but I didn't know you joined them. So what about the club?"
"Brady and I are still partners in that," she said unable to hide her smile. "The club has been tremendously successful. More so than I think anyone ever imagined."
"So things are moving in the right direction. Maybe one day I'll see you on the cover of some major business magazine as the most powerful woman in fashion."
"That's the goal," she smiled.
"I'm happy for you. How long are you in town for? Maybe we could get together tonight for drinks and catch up. A lot has changed since we saw each other last."
"I do have plans with Shawn tonight. Just dinner. Belle won't be in until tomorrow morning and it is always nice to talk with him to see how things are going. Anyway, I'm sure he won't mind if you join us."
"I was actually hoping we could be alone. Maybe meet before dinner?" he suggested wishfully.
"Ok," she agreed reluctantly. "Is there a reason why?"
Philip looked at her nervously and tried to find the right words to express what he was feeling. "It would just be good to talk with you alone. I ... I've thought a lot about you over the months," he said somewhat sentimentally.
Mimi was a little stunned by his revelation, unsure of what to say except the obvious. "Philip I don't want you to get the wrong impression. I'm not really the same way I used to be when you met me in October," she said, somewhat hesitantly as she tried to handle the situation as diplomatically as possible.
"I don't think I understand."
"Philip I'm seeing someone," Mimi replied bluntly. "Brady and I have been together for six months and well... I love him."
"That's nice but I don't see what that has to do with us having drinks."
"I just don't want you to get the wrong impression that's all. I know that when we met in October we had a good time the only way I knew how ... at the time. I don't want you to think I'm the same way I used to be. If we go out for drinks that'll be all. Nothing more. I don't want to be put in a position to jeopardize my relationship with Brady."
Philip was sinking inside as he listened to Mimi. Part of him wanted that roll in the hay. Another one night stand, but he also wanted more, much more. He just wanted Mimi and seeing her reminded him of how badly he wanted her. The fact that her heart now belonged to Brady was killing him and he didn't know how to react.
"Do you think the only reason I invited you out was to try to get you into bed?"
"No. I don't know actually, I just wanted to wipe the slate clean and not go into this with any false expectations."
"I see. Mimi, do you regret what we did in Chicago?"
"Honestly, I don't regret it because I don't think about it."
"You never think about the times we made love?" he asked, breaking his heart at the thought of their time together being meaningless to her.
"We never made love Philip. It was just sex. Pure and simple. Like I said I was a different person then. I didn't realize how wonderful being with one person and falling in love could be until I met Brady."
"And I didn't realize how incomplete my life was until I met you," he said without hesitation or thought. It was what he had felt in his heart for months and carried it with him. Philip could easily have his pick of any woman and yet Mimi was elusive and out of his grasp. The concept was foreign to him and he grew even more defensive. Clenching his jaw, he knew he had said too much and his blue gaze grew darker as he looked at Mimi intensely.
Mimi looked at Philip in complete shock. With her eyes widened in amazement she never had any idea Philip would say anything like that to her. The awkwardness of the moment grew. It was no longer a friendly reunion, instead they acted like a couple who had recently parted ways. They had not seen each other for seven months after spending a few days with each other exclusively until Belle set her straight and she began to devote her attention to Brady.
"I don't think we should get together tonight Philip," she said plainly. "It was good to see you." She gave him a timid smile and then started to walk away when she felt Philip quickly grab her arm, firmly yet gently. Turning to face him, his eyes pleaded with her but she hung her head down and continued to walk away. Hesitantly Philip let her go. He understood why she felt uncomfortable and he hated himself for making her feel that way. Unable to enjoy the rest of the reception he put on a straight face and walked out as casually as he had come in, not wanting anyone to see how upset he really was.
Victor Kiriakis sat in the den of his LA mansion. Sipping a brandy he enjoyed the peaceful moment as the sounds of the symphony resonated throughout the room from the state of the art stereo system. The tranquil moment was soon interrupted by the phone ringing. He soon answered in his usual gruff manner.
"Mr. Kiriakis sir, it's Nico."
"Nico what do you have to report?" he asked anxiously.
"Sir, I'm sorry to report that your son let his emotions get the best of him. I watched his interaction with Ms. Lockhart. He had invited her out for drinks. Initially she accepted but after she made it clear to him she is currently involved with Brady Black, Philip did not accept the news that well."
"Damn my son and his uncontrollable hormones. I swear he's as bad as a teenager sometimes! Nico, what is your next plan?"
"Sir I've come up with a plan that is a little tricky but I can pull it off. It involves Shawn Brady. I happen to know that Ms. Lockhart has plans to meet him for dinner tonight. The two have become good friends."
"I don't care what you do or who it involves. I'll be damned if Basic Black continues its growth. I will not be second in anything. I'm counting on you Nico."
"Don't worry Mr. Kiriakis. I have it under control," he assured smugly.
Mimi's mode of transportation while she was in LA was the limousine that was a Countess Willamina standard. Kate Roberts insisted that Mimi always travel in style while she was away on business, cabs were not a part of the image they wanted to create. Mimi went along with it. It didn't really bother her too much. Enjoying the ride to Shawn's house to pick him up, Mimi talked with Brady to update him on her day. She mentioned her run in with Philip that bothered Brady tremendously but it was something she didn't feel like keeping from him. Soon the limousine pulled in front of Shawn's beachfront home and Mimi brought an end to her conversation with Brady. Excited to see Shawn who had become a good friend over the months, particularly since she saw him somewhat often as she made numerous trips to LA, Mimi jumped out of the limousine and hurried to his front door. Shawn quickly answered and after a hug and warm greeting, the two made their way back to the limousine to go out to dinner.
While inside the chic restaurant, the limousine was parked around the corner. The driver sat listening to music and reading a sports magazine. Typically he would run some errands but tonight he felt like to taking it easy and relaxing. His time was soon interrupted by a knock on the window. Without hesitation he rolled it down and asked the stranger outside who wore a similar suit to his own how he could help him. His face was hidden by the shadows and the driver tried to get a better look but could not.
"I've got an offer for you my friend," Nico said slyly. "I'll give $1000 cash right now if you give me the opportunity to take your clients back home."
"I can't do that."
"A man with morals," Nico said somewhat surprised. "I admire that," he added with a smug tone and reached into his pocket pulling out a wad of $100 bills. Counting out twenty he handed it toward the driver. "How about $2000?"
"Three?" he asked slyly as he continued to count out another ten. The driver looked at him stunned and Nico continued to count until he finished counting the stack. "Five thousand is my final offer my friend. Take it. I promise nothing will happen to you if you do."
Hesitantly the driver took the money, and once the feel of 50 crisp $100 bills reached his senses he pocketed the money. He started to get out when Nico stopped him.
"Not so fast my friend. In five minutes walk out of the limo. Leave the keys in the ignition and the door unlocked. I suggest you go somewhere public for the next few hours so you have an alibi ... just in case."
"What are you going to do with ..."
Nico raised a hand to silence him. "Don't worry about this and never mention this conversation to anyone."
"There going to ask why I left."
"Family emergency. If you have an alibi no one will bother you. Trust me my friend," he assured. "Now leave in five minutes. Those are your orders." With those words Nico disappeared in the shadows. His plan was in action. It was now only a matter of time.
"Nico tell me you have everything under control."
"Mr. Kiriakis, it is all set," Nico said as he sat in his car waiting parked down the street from Shawn's house. "I just checked on the two and they are out like a light. They should be coming to in about an hour, around the time Ms. Black should arrive from LAX. She is in for the shock of her life."
"This plan of yours is brilliant Nico. John and I are both good businessmen but one difference between us is I don't hold my family higher than the company. Once John thinks that Mimi not only betrayed his son but his daughter as well she will be ousted from Basic Black and she will have no choice but to come to Titan. She can't possibly sustain her company by herself at this point."
"You're right sir. It is only a matter of time. I will report after Ms. Black arrives."
"Good. John Black is going to rue the day he decided to play hard ball with Victor Kiriakis. No one beats me at my own game."
Belle sat comfortably in the back of the limousine talking with Brady. Tying up some loose ends for work they soon shifted gears in their conversation to talk about more pleasant things.
"I bet you can't wait to see Shawn."
"It's been a couple of weeks since I've been out here, and now that I've been given a clean bill of health from my doctor we have some catching up to do."
"You know Tink I'm glad you and Shawn are together and that you have found someone who you love and care for but there are some things that you really don't have to discuss with me."
"Normally I wouldn't talk to you about that but I've been dying to talk to someone about it. After all it's been three months. That's a huge test of will power. Just imagine how hard that is Brady. Anyway, I would usually talk to Mimi about this but she is not answering her cell so you're it."
"Yeah, it's weird. She didn't call me back last night after the opening. She must have been exhausted because she wasn't answering the phone in her hotel room either."
"You aren't getting worried are you?"
"No. I know she's fine. Sometimes Mimi just gets wrapped up in so many things. I'm used to it by now."
"Good to hear. Anyway, I am at Shawn's so I'll talk to you later. I'll see you in a couple of days."
"Bye Tink. Say hi to Shawn for me."
"Will do. Bye."
Belle soon stepped out of the limousine and made her way into Shawn's house. The driver set her bag inside for her and left her behind in the foyer of the spacious beach front property home. Since Shawn wasn't there to greet her she assumed he was still sleeping. She grew more anxious to see her love and spend the weekend with him. The idea thrilled her beyond belief.
Shawn groggily moved around in his bed. His head was throbbing. The type of feeling he usually had when he had too much to drink, but all he had was a glass of red wine with dinner. Everything was a blur. He rubbed his aching temples trying to make sense of what happened last night. Thinking back he remembered having dinner with Mimi and that glass of red wine. One glass. He reminded himself of the minimal imbibing to keep things straight in his head. The next thing he remembered was getting back into the limousine. They had a different driver. The original had a family emergency. He remembered that detail because the replacement driver made a point of pushing that fact to both Shawn and Mimi.
Continuing to rub his head to offer some sort of comfort to the pain he was experiencing he suddenly became aware of the fact that he was naked under the sheets and in that instant as he looked down he looked over to see Mimi sleeping next to him. Confused at the situation he rubbed his eyes thinking this was all a dream. He continued to rub them, wishing this situation away. He grew more panicked as he realized Mimi wasn't going to dissolve or disappear.
Feeling his heart pounding in his chest, beads of sweat started to form along his forehead. Shawn had never had an anxiety attack but he had a strong feeling he was now experiencing his first one and he prayed his only. Frozen in his position he questioned how this could happen and mentally chastised himself. He didn't feel like something happened but all signs indicated that the unthinkable did.
Must have had more than a glass of wine.
The last thing he remembered was riding back home in the limousine and then suddenly he felt dizzy. That was the last thing he remembered.
How did it happen? Why did it happen?
His mind filled with a list of endless questions. His thoughts betrayed him at every opportunity. As he sat there growing more panicked he looked up to see the familiar blue eyes staring back at him in a cold, unforgiving gaze. His heart stopped. There was no way he could breathe. He just watched her. The pain. The sadness. The anger. It was all there written on her face.
Time stood still as their eyes locked. Belle's intense hurt filled gaze pierced through Shawn's soul. His heart was heavy, breaking as he watched her stare at him in a look of disbelief. He watched the transformation on her face change from disbelief to hurt to sheer anger and she swiftly turned on her heels and stormed away. The interaction occurred without one word spoken. Shawn watched Belle walk away in a fury and he felt his life slipping away.
Practically stumbling out of bed. His legs were twisted in the sheets and he hurried to break himself free. His movements were swift and as he rushed out of his room he grabbed the pair of pants that were on a pile on the floor. He walked and dressed at the same time, stumbling even further as he tried to accomplish the difficult task. Time was of the essence. He had feared she had already left and was out of his life forever. He didn't know what he was going to say. How he was going to say it because he was confused himself. The image of Belle's stunned expression haunted his thoughts repeatedly and as he ran down the steps he saw the door to the garage open. Running to the garage he saw Belle fumbling with the key to unlock his SUV. Her hand was shaking and could not control the key well enough to guide into the lock. Shawn ran behind her grabbing her hand to stop her. Turning her around, he snatched the keys from her to keep her from leaving.
" Belle please don't leave," he pleaded with her desperately wanting her to stay. "It's not what you think. I swear."
Belle looked at him incredulously. "It is exactly what I think. How could you?" she asked, her voice breaking at the thought but she desperately tried to prevent the tears that quickly filled her eyes from falling. It was the last thing she wanted to do, to cry over the man who caused her so much hurt. "I thought you loved me," she said in a whisper.
"I do love you Belle," he said and gently touched her cheek. He looked at her with such an intense gaze that left her confused. The gentle brown depths which were always so expressive and showed her exactly how he felt at any moment told her one thing, but what she had seen only moments ago told her something completely different. "Belle you know how I feel about you and that I would never betray you. I don't know exactly what happened. I don't remember anything about last night, but I do know I did NOT betray our love. Please, you've got to believe me Belle. PLEASE!" he demanded in a heart felt plea. His emotions stirred wildly within him and he hoped, he prayed that Belle would believe him, but he knew it would be hard. He had a hard time believing what was happening himself.
Belle wanted to trust him. She wanted to ignore what she had seen and move on, but she couldn't. As much as she had missed his touch, his loving words and gaze that always curled her toes, she could not believe him. She could not trust him. Raising her hand to touch his, she pulled him away from her and stepped away. With an ice cold stare she spoke harshly. "How long has this been going on?"
"Belle I swear to you NOTHING happened!" He knew at that moment he was losing his fight and his heart sank even deeper. Unable to hide his emotions, his eyes shimmered with tears. "You've got to believe me," he begged.
"How can I believe you Shawn!" she yelled. "You were in bed with another woman." Her voice faltered as she spoke. In a tremulous voice she continued. "I guess all those stories about you being a playboy were true. All this time you played me like a fool. Has this been going on for the entire three months? While you assured me and acted like you loved me and would stand by me you were getting your needs satisfied by someone else! Shawn I never thought I could ever hate you but you proved me wrong."
Her last words cut through him like a knife. "I didn't do anything," he said in a shaky voice as he fought back the tears. "All I've ever done is love you. I ... I could never hurt you like this."
"Too late Shawn! I never want to see you again!"
"Please Belle you can't mean that. Please. I can't live without you Belle. You can't leave me. PLEASE! I swear Mimi and I didn't do ANYTHING!"
"MIMI?!" Belle asked stunned beyond belief.
When Belle found Shawn she didn't see who was in his bed, only the figure under the sheets and the head of hair sticking out. The revelation prompted a reaction that was more like a reflex. Her hand swiftly smacked his cheek. The force of the blow caused him to look down and the stinging sensation now coursing through his face was tame in comparison to the pain that surged through his entire body. The feeling of his very soul being ripped out of him.
"That's great Shawn!" she snickered. "No wonder she's been coming out to LA so often! You are such a bastard!" she yelled
"That is NOT what happened! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU!" he shouted.
"THEN TELL ME WHAT DID HAPPEN SHAWN!" she yelled. "PROVE ME WRONG!"
Shawn didn't reply he only grabbed her arm and with a little force he pulled her inside. "We're getting to the bottom of this once and for all. You're not leaving me Belle. I won't have it. And I can't have you doubting me either."
"Shawn don't do this. Don't make this any worse. Just let me go."
"I'm not asking I'm TELLING YOU!" Belle said angrily. "LET. ME. GO!"
"NO!" he barked and turned to face her. His brown eyes deeply penetrating her soul. "Where are you going to go? How are you going to get there?" he snapped. "You're not in a condition to drive. You couldn't even unlock the door!" he argued. "And don't think I'm taking you anywhere."
"I don't want you to! I'll call a cab."
"No you won't," he said plainly as he continued to pull her up the stairs.
"Then I'll get Jason or Philip to pick me up!"
"Belle I don't think you understand. I am not letting you leave until we figure this out. You have got to believe me that nothing happened."
"So you're holding me hostage?" she sneered.
"I'm proving to you how much I need you in my life," he replied as they approached his room to see Mimi stirring under the sheets of the bed. She appeared as confused as he was only minutes ago.
Groggily Mimi woke up. She had a tremendous headache and felt completely disoriented. Eventually her eyes settled on Shawn and Belle who stood before her, staring down at her. Covering herself up to her chin with the sheet she immediately panicked. "What happened?" she asked confused as she looked around and tried to piece together the events from last night. The last thing she remembered was being in the limousine after dinner. Everything was a blur. "How'd I get here? Where are my clothes?" she asked frantically.
As Belle watched Mimi grow more perplexed at the situation, part of her started to believe what Shawn was trying to tell her. Too much was happening though. Too much and too fast and she couldn't handle this. She turned around and started to walk away. As she expected Shawn quickly followed her out. "I can't do this now Shawn," she said quietly.
"Belle I don't want you to leave. Please."
"I can't deal with all of this. If you love me you'll give me time to figure this all out. I won't leave town but I can't stay here right now. Please just call Jason and have him pick me up. Please Shawn."
"You believe me don't you?" he asked, noticing the conflicting emotions she was experiencing after seeing Mimi.
"I want to Shawn. I really want to."
"Please say you don't hate me Belle. Just tell me that much and I will do whatever you want. I don't want to cause you any more pain."
"I don't hate you Shawn. Now please, call Jason."
Belle sat in Jason's car waiting for him to take her away. She was numb to what was happening. Shawn could see the despondent look on her face and he just couldn't understand what had happened. He was grateful that at least she was willing to hear him out eventually and just not leave. It proved to him how strong their relationship was that despite what she saw and the hurt and pain she felt, Belle knew Shawn well enough to know that he would never hurt her in this way.
Shawn stood outside of his house talking with Jason when he noticed the parked car down the street. It was highly unusual for cars to be parked on the street in the neighborhood and he could not help but notice the image of a man sitting inside.
"Jason was that car parked there when you got here?"
"Yeah. Some creepy guy is inside, although for some reason he looks familiar."
"He looks sort of familiar to me, too. He must come around here a lot or something. Maybe he's picking up someone," he dismissed and focused his attention on Belle sitting in the car. "Take care of her for me please. Mimi and I are going to try and piece together what happened last night."
"Buddy, you and Mimi didn't ..." Jason began to ask, just to confirm what he knew couldn't be true.
"No," Shawn quickly answered. "I may not remember much about last night but Mimi and I both know that we didn't do what we've been set up to believe we did. It's just a matter of figuring out who did this. Whoever it is wanted us to be caught and hoped Belle would leave me. Whoever it is doesn't understand how deep our love is for each other," Shawn said as a matter of fact. He continued to stare at Belle who was fighting back the tears she so desperately wanted to shed. His heart grew heavier and rage filled him. "Whoever the son of a bitch is... he will pay."
Nico watched Jason drive from Shawn's house with Belle in the car with him. A satisfied look crept across his face, thinking that it was only a matter of time before Belle told her dear old Dad what happened. Starting his car he followed Jason and quickly called Victor on his private line. "Sir, it worked. She left with Jason Masters. I'm following them now. By the look on her face I'd say she saw them. It's only a matter of time now sir."
"Good Nico. You're plan was ingenious. How did you ever think of it?"
"I've used it once before sir. The gas is odorless, tasteless, virtually impossible to detect. Being in the limousine gave me the perfect way to drug them without them knowing it. With the amount they inhaled it was just enough to keep them unconscious for the right amount of time. It was planned perfectly if I do say so myself. They never detected the gas coming through the vents and because the divider was up, they never saw me wearing the gas mask in front. It was far too easy sir," he added in an arrogant chuckle.
"Brilliant work Nico. Keep me posted."
"Will do sir. Will do."
He hung up the phone and continued to follow Jason, keeping a good distance between them so Jason did not become suspicious.
Mimi joined Shawn downstairs in his living room. He had managed to fix some coffee, despite how shaky he was. He still had a nagging headache and felt like he had partied all night. What he was experiencing was nothing short of a hangover. Mimi sat at the kitchen counter and gratefully accepted the cup Shawn had poured for her.
"What in the world happened last night Shawn?"
"Beats me. I have no idea. All I remember is riding home from dinner last night and waking up naked in bed with you next to me this morning. Between those two events, I don't have a clue other than someone is setting us up."
"But who? Why? We don't have any enemies in common."
"We have Belle in common and I think whoever set us up was trying to get to her. That's the only thing I can figure. They knew she was coming in today and that we were having dinner last night. This was definitely well calculated."
Mimi thought for a moment as she continued to drink her coffee. "What if it wasn't Belle they were trying to get at? Maybe it was Brady or even John. The whole Black family."
Shawn nodded his head in agreement. "You know what we need to do is talk to that new limo driver." He grabbed the phone and before he turned it on, it rang. He looked at Mimi a bit puzzled by the timing. "Hello?"
"Shawn you are not going to believe this man," Jason said. He spoke anxiously, but with a sense of excitement. "That guy parked on your street is now following us. He's trying to act like he isn't but he definitely is. We stopped by a coffee shop and got back to the car and there he was. I made another stop just to see what would happen and old boy is still following us."
"Damn it," Shawn sighed. "Is Belle alright? Are you keeping her safe?"
"You know I am man."
"Don't do anything reckless to shake that guy ok Jason?"
"Don't worry Shawnie. I ain't worried about him but I do remember where I've seen him before. He works for Victor. I remember seeing him once, quite a while ago. He's like Victor's henchman."
"Victor? Kiriakis?" he asked stunned. After a moment he went over the speculations he and Mimi were just making about who was responsible for this. "Of course," he said in a whisper. "It makes sense."
"What makes sense? Shawn talk to me man."
"Jason, keep Belle safe whatever you do. Take her to your place and keep an eye out for this guy. Let me know if he sticks around."
"Whatever you say man. You know I'll do anything for you Shawn. Just say the word."
"Thanks man, oh and don't say anything to Philip about this. I doubt he's involved but just in case I want this to stay between us. I owe you big time for this Jase."
"Don't mention it. Now figure this crap out."
"I will. I won't rest until I do." Shawn hung up the phone and looked at Mimi. "I think we found the bad guy," he said confidently. "Victor appears to be behind this. Have you talked to him recently?"
"No. Not recently. Of course every now and then I hear something from Titan. Victor has not hidden the fact that he is upset I signed with Basic Black and well, Titan has been losing its edge in the industry. But why would he stoop so low? What would Belle finding us prove?" she asked and then it clicked. "John would have released me from the contract. Everybody knows that no one messes with John Black's family. If he thought I betrayed both Brady and Belle, I'd be looking for a new job and Victor would have been right there waiting."
"Well that was easy to figure out," Shawn said sarcastically. "Now we need the proof. Let me make a few calls and get myself ready. I'll drop you at to your hotel and get to the bottom of this once and for all."
"First of all, you're not leaving me at my hotel room. I've got to change and I desperately need a shower but you're not leaving me out of this."
"Fair enough. I don't like it but I've learned not to argue with you Chicago women when you've made up your mind," he said somewhat jokingly. "And second?"
"Second, I want to know if you think Philip is involved."
"Hard to tell, but I doubt it. He and Victor don't get along and well, Phil told me that Victor already tried to get him to help out once, before you signed with Basic Black. Philip refused to use you then, I don't think he'd change his mind now. Why? Do you think he's involved?"
"I'm not sure. Remember last night at dinner I told you I saw him yesterday at the opening?"
"Yeah. Do you think he was setting you up or something for information?"
"I don't know. Maybe not intentionally but someone else may have been. It's hard to say at this point."
"We'll figure it out. Just hang out down here for a bit. I'll be ready in fifteen," he said and started to make his way out of the kitchen.
"Hey Shawn," Mimi called out and turned to see Shawn reemerge, peeking his head around the corner. "Don't worry. Belle is going to understand and so will Brady. We haven't gotten this far to have it all end like this."
"You're right." Shawn smiled at her words. "I'll be back soon."
Shawn's mind was reeling with a number of thoughts, and as the day progressed he was getting more angry and frustrated at the situation. This wasn't how this weekend was supposed to go. Belle was supposed to arrive in LA and he was going to pick her up at the airport, even though she told him not to and from there he was going to stop by one of her favorite places for breakfast. He was going to follow that with a drive down the coast to a private resort, where he had rented a bungalow for the weekend. It was a surprise for Belle to make the most of the time they had been highly anticipating over the last three months. Now those plans had been thwarted. Every detail he had painstakingly planned for the last week seemed to be going down the drain, but he was determined to have that night. It wasn't even noon yet and in a matter of minutes he and Mimi had put some of the pieces together, now he was on a mission to prove it.
He eased the blue SUV down the street of a part of town he wasn't all too familiar with, nor did he want to be. Looking for the address he had scribbled on a piece of paper, he soon found 510 Marshall Ave. and parked his car on the street in front of the small home. The somewhat dilapidated red house stood out like a sore thumb on the neighborhood street. It appeared to be a fairly quiet community, but he couldn't help but cringe at the sight of trash strewn in a number of yards. The house across the street had a dingy yellow and brown couch on the corner with an old television sitting on the torn cushions. With a sigh, Shawn looked at Mimi who appeared to be thinking the same thing he was, let's get this over with. The two soon got out and walked up the narrow walk way to the front door. Ringing the doorbell, eventually the man they knew as their first limousine driver appeared. At the sight of Shawn his eyes widened and he quickly tried to close the door only to be stopped by Shawn who had promptly put his foot against the door.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you Tony," Shawn said calmly. "Can we come in?" he asked and made his way in before Tony could say anything.
"How'd you find out where I live? Why are you here?"
"What happened with your family emergency?" Shawn asked coolly as he walked in and surveyed the surprisingly clean house. The upkeep of the outside was no indication of how the inside appeared.
"E-e-excuse me?" Tony asked.
"The driver who took over your job last night. You remember last night when you drove us to the restaurant. While we had dinner you had a family emergency you had to rush off to. Any of that ring a bell?" Shawn asked in a condescending tone.
"Oh, yeah. Um, that emergency ... uh ... everything is fine," Tony answered nervously.
"Really? That's good to hear. You see Mimi and I were a little concerned. That other driver made a point of telling us numerous times that you had an emergency," he said in an eerily calm voice meant to make Tony even more nervous. "What was his name again Mimi?"
"I think he said his name was Nathan."
"That's right. Nathan. You know it's funny because the company has no record of a Nathan working for them. Don't you find that funny Tony?"
"I...I... I think ... I think he's new," he stammered growing more nervous as Shawn approached him with an intimidating look. Everything about Shawn's appearance frightened Tony who was a small, lanky man without a fighting bone in his body. He gulped as Shawn moved closer in a way that could only be described as predatory. The dark red shirt he wore hugged his body, displaying his muscular frame. With his arms folded across his chest, his bulging biceps came into view making Tony's eyes widen even further and his heart race from anxiety.
"You think he's new. So you know Nathan?" Shawn asked seriously.
"Um ... well... no. I haven't met him."
"So you left before he came by?" Shawn asked him curiously.
"Ok, not exactly. So what exactly happened?" Shawn asked him calmly.
"I, um... I ... well ..." Tony stuttered uncontrollably. He knew he had been caught and Shawn was now directly in front of him with little room in between. His presence made Tony more than uncomfortable and he became only moments away from hyperventilating.
"You know what I think?" Shawn asked in a less friendly tone. His eyes seemed to bore a hole into Tony's head by the sheer intensity. Tony remained silent, and Shawn was very aware of how nervous he was as he saw him shaking, trembling slightly. "I think you're lying to us Tony. Now why would you lie? Do you realize what your lie has done to my life and to Mimi's life? Any clue?" he asked calmly. Tony nervously shook his head no. "It has jeopardized everything. It has hurt someone I love. Now you don't know me well enough to know how I react when the people I love are hurt, but you look like a smart guy so I'll let you take a guess." Tony remained silent. "No guesses?"
"You... you ... hurt them?" he asked timidly.
"Not quite. I just make sure the truth comes out. So, tell me Tony. Who was the other driver? I'm going to take a stab in the dark that his name is NOT Nathan."
"I...I...I don't know his name," Tony said in a shaky voice.
"I have a hard time believing that Tony. You don't have ANY idea?"
"I had never seen him before. He... he came up to the limo and offered me money so he could drive."
"Money? How much did he offer you to break our trust Tony?"
"I ...I wouldn't do it at first," Tony defended.
"He j-j-just kept pushing..."
"God damn it! HOW MUCH?!" Shawn exploded.
"Five thousand," Tony trembled.
Shawn looked at him in disbelief. "You need to work on your bargaining skills. The man who paid you off works for a billionaire," he stated plainly and turned around. He looked at Mimi who appeared both impressed and somewhat scared by what she just saw. "I think we got what we came here for." Mimi nodded in agreement and the two walked out of the house as casually as they came in.
Once back inside the SUV Shawn quickly made his way out of the neighborhood. "I think we need to talk to Philip. He can help us figure out the name of this mystery man," Shawn said as he continued to drive. He looked over at Mimi who had been quiet for an unusual amount of time. "What are you thinking?"
"Shawn what you did back there was ... I don't even know ... it was like you were a different person."
"In a way I was. That's what is fun about being an actor," he smirked and soon chuckled. "See a man like Tony folds easily under pressure. All I had to do was invade his personal space. I didn't need to threaten him verbally. He already felt threatened when we walked through his front door."
"You're good Shawn Brady. Very good."
"Thanks. And the important thing is I didn't touch him. After I attacked that photographer a few months ago I had to pay out the ass to keep him quiet. I got a good lecture from Jason, Belle AND my Mom."
"I'm sure you did. She told me about that run in on Valentine's Day," Mimi said as she recalled that conversation with her best friend. Belle had described Shawn as a knight in shining armor. The comparison may have been a tad cliché but Mimi understood where Belle was coming from, especially after what she just witnessed. "You really would do anything to keep Belle safe wouldn't you?" Mimi asked.
"I would do anything for her period," Shawn corrected. "Anything to make her feel safe and protected... loved and appreciated... anything. I just hope that Philip can fill in these missing pieces so I can prove to her that nothing happened."
"Belle knows nothing happened. She knows it in her heart, otherwise she'd be on a plane to Chicago to tell Brady. The problem is she can't shake that image out of her head. Her boyfriend and her best friend," Mimi said shaking her head in disbelief. "That's a huge pill to swallow, for anybody."
"I know," Shawn agreed. "That's why I'm determined to get the truth out as soon as possible. Tonight, Belle is going to be in my arms and I'm not letting her go," he proclaimed. "I'm not going to let Victor's greed get in the way of my plans with Belle. No way. No how."