Chapter 26 - A Simple Promise - Slightly NC17
Villa Isabella was built in the old Spanish tradition with every room leading out to its gabled veranda. On a beautiful moonlit night, you could hear the waves lapping on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The warm summer breeze and exotic floral scents lent this particular night a sense of danger and adventure. Shadows gathered in mysterious patterns culminating around the movements of one lone figure, stealthily making his way to his heart’s desire…his reason for living.
A rush of pebbles rained down her windowpane. Belle was having the most delicious dream of Shawn and weddings and babies and… Suddenly waking up, she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Another rush of pebbles rained down her windowpane. The young woman gasped as the doors to her room quietly opened inwards and a man moved stealthily towards her. Frozen in place, Isabella allowed herself to be gathered in his arms.
“I couldn’t stay away any longer. I had to see you”, the man softly whispered.
Belle’s eyes widened but no words came. Lifting her to her feet, the man pulled an unresisting barefoot Belle to the doors. “Come with me…you know you want to…” he instructed.
Holding her hand, the man pulled Belle quietly onto the veranda and down the stairs away from the villa. Together they ran down the cobblestone path lined with swaying palm trees, to the rose entwined gazebo. At the end of the path, they mounted the steps and entered the cool shelter.
Belle ran to the far end and stared out at the Mediterranean shore. Shawn smiled. It was like trying to catch a butterfly, admiring the white halter nightgown that flowed against her body in the gentle breeze. He slowly drew his fiancé back along his muscled body, so that she could feel his breath in her hair. His hands came together below her breasts.
“You’re trembling” he whispered in her ear.
Belle’s eyes closed. Her hands reached to cover his. “I know”, she answered weakly. Belle’s head dropped back against his chest. Helplessly she watched as her lover’s hands moved slowly up to cup her breasts. The hardness of Shawn’s thighs pressed into her as they moved even closer. Belle felt the heat of his lips caress her neck and moaned huskily.
Turning her around in his arms, his mouth crushed hers. “Tomorrow you’ll be mine” Shawn ground out. Brushing tender kisses along her lips he tried to temper his desires.
“Aren’t you going to make love to me?” she whispered against his lips.
Lifting her up off the floor, Shawn carried Belle to the steps, sat down, and lowered her to his lap. “No honey, not on the eve of our wedding. Although you’re damn hard to resist” Shawn grinned ruefully. “I just want to talk for a while if that’s okay” he said quietly. “There have been so many people around lately that we haven’t had much time to ourselves. I need to explain what I’m feeling right now and I didn’t want an audience.”
After the hectic pace of the last few weeks, the plans were finally in place. In less than 24 hours Shawn and Belle would become man and wife.
“I’ve missed you Shawn. Even though we’ve been together we haven’t been alone very much” Belle gently sighed.
Shawn took a deep breath, fighting to find the right words. “I’m not a poet, Belle. I’m just the simple man who loves you more than anything and always will. Without even trying, you’ve become essential to me. Tomorrow we will say our vows before family and God. I want tonight to be just for us.”
Belle reached up and kissed him. “I want to be your wife so badly Shawn, I ache with it” she murmured softly looking up at him curiously.
“You need to know that once you become my wife, I’ll never give you up. You need to know that just as you will belong to me, I will belong to you…heart and soul.” Shawn pressed a kiss to her hair. “Sweetheart, when things were at there darkest…when I didn’t know whether you would make it back to me, I realized something very basic. I realized that I couldn’t survive without you. You and I are the two halves that make up one whole. Without the one, the other will whither and die. I want to wake up beside you every day for the rest of my life. I want to watch you bring our children into the world. And honey above all, this I promise you…I will love you forever and a day.” Shawn gathered her soft body closer to him.
Belle looked up at him with tears streaming down her face. “I heard you Shawn. During the darkest times, even when my mind struggled to break free of the brainwashing…a little part of me heard your words and prayers. They were my only lifeline. You never gave up on me…you refused to let me die, when a part of me thought that was the only way out. I know now that I would never have made it back without you by my side…without your love. I’ve loved you secretly for so long. I still pinch myself that someone as handsome and smart and brave as you could want me. My darling, I cherish every moment I have with you. And above all, this I promise you…I will love you forever and a day.” She drew his head down to hers and kissed him. It was like coming home.
Shawn kissed her back with something akin to reverence. “Go to sleep baby. I just want to spend the night before our wedding together, like this…you and me under the stars”.
Belle curled up in his lap and closed her eyes. And right before dawn, they slipped back into the villa, with no one the wiser.
The wedding came off perfectly. Mimi led the way, in a lilac dream of a dress. With her father on her arm, Belle, glorious in a trailing white beaded gown, walked down the flower-strewed carpet to the rose arbor where Shawn and Philip, his best man, waited with the minister.
The service began with aplomb. The friends and family in attendance were cognizant of the obstacles that both Shawn and Belle had overcome to reach this moment. And On this solemn but happy occasion, the gods were working overtime to bless their union.
With the minister’s approval, the couple had requested a few changes to the traditional marriage preamble. A solemn hush came over the guests. And so he began.
“Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here together in the sight of God, and in the presence of these witnesses to join Shawn Douglas and Isabella in the bonds of holy matrimony.
"Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous;
Love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek it's own, is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things;
Love never fails..." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
The minister looked up at the guests. “If there is anyone here who knows a just cause why they should not lawfully be joined in marriage, I implore you to speak now, or forever hold your peace.” The room was so quiet; you could feel a pin drop.
The holy man continued “These two young people have passed each test that God has placed before them and it has made their love all the stronger for it.”
“Do you, Shawn, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to love and to cherish, to have and to hold; and do you promise, forsaking all others, to cleave to her and her alone, for as long as you both shall live?”
Shawn had eyes for no one but his beloved. “I do” he responded in a firm and steady voice.
“Do you, Isabella, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love and to cherish, to have and to hold; and do you promise, forsaking all others, to cleave to him and to him alone, for as long as you both shall live?”
Belle’s voice broke as she responded. "I do."
And then Shawn was repeating the minister’s words. “I, Shawn Douglas Brady, take thee Isabella Black, to me by lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. By God's holy ordinance I pledge to you my faith.
Shawn took Belle’s hand in his. “I promise to be there when you need me, to fill your days with sunshine, to comfort you and encourage you, to help you reach your goals, to be your best friend ever and to love you all my life with all my heart.” He placed the ring on Belle’s finger.
Belle could barely manage to speak: I, Isabella Black, take thee Shawn Douglas Brady, to me by lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. By God's holy ordinance I pledge to you my faith.
Looking into Shawn’s eyes, Isabella whispered. “I promise to be there when you need me, to fill your days with sunshine, to comfort you and encourage you, to help you reach your goals, to be your best friend ever and to love you all my life with all my heart.” She placed the ring on Shawn’s finger.
The minister continued. "Because Shawn and Isabella have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and these witnesses, and have thereto given and pledged their faith, each one to the other, By the power given to me, I pronounce that they are Husband and Wife, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Turning to the groom, he smiled. “Shawn, you may kiss the Bride.”
Shawn lifted Belle’s veil and kissed her with such tenderness that tears could be seen running unashamedly down the faces of many of the guests. The minister turned the couple around to the crowd. “May I present to you, Mr. & Mrs. Shawn Brady.
A groundswell of happiness surrounded the couple. Leaning on her new husband, Belle and Shawn went back down the aisle in a shower of rice and rose petals and laughter.
Settling in the limousine for their trip to the airport, Shawn pressed his lips to the hand clasped in his. “You are the most beautiful bride who ever walked down the aisle, and I’m the luckiest man alive” he whispered huskily.
Belle reached a hand up to his cheek and smiled lovingly at him. “I’m the luckiest woman.” In her eyes he was the most handsomest and bravest man in the world.
Lowering his mouth to hers, Shawn sealed their union with an exquisite kiss.
Chapter 27 - NC17
Tapestries handed down from dynasty to dynasty adorned the grand ballroom. As was their custom, the men sat cross-legged on the colorful mats while scantily clad nubile female servants were there to care for their every needs. A scent of jasmine incense permeated the air, forbidden wine flourished and veiled dancers provided the somewhat risqué entertainment.
One man dominated the event as always. The reluctant and bored Sheik, Damian El Eban held court for his many tribal chiefs, a tedious duty at best. His mind, as usual, was obsessed on something else…someone else. His temper, unstable at the best of times, was showing itself more frequently of late. His imbecilic spies were unable to do one simple thing. Inhaling absently from a hashish pipe, Damian watched as his increasingly irritating information minister entered bowing, respectfully requesting an audience.
With a wave of the hand, Salim knelt before his master in respectful obeisance. “My lord, I have news of the girl and of the Alamains.” The man shivered nervously.
“Well get on with it then! I have never in my life had to wait so long for my wishes to be achieved! Have you brought me the girl, then?” The Sheik’s lips moistened in anticipation.
Taking a deep breath, the information minister gave his report. “Master, Lawrence Alamain is dead, his aunt is in prison once more. The…the…girl was married to her young man this weekend past. I…I…I’m sorry my lord! Her father’s fortress proved impenetrable for my men. We were unable to get to her in time…” his voice quieted to a shaken whisper as he saw his master rise forcefully towards him.
Damian cuffed the man angrily across the head. “Dog! Ignorant fool! I DO NOT ACCEPT THIS! I DO NOT!” His voice rose to an angry roar. “Her marriage is invalid in the eyes of Allah! She will be married to me or suffer the consequences…as will her family! I give you one week to bring her to me…ONE WEEK…do you hear me? Enough of your incompetence! If you value your place in my government…if you value your family’s safety…” Damian left the rest unsaid, his enraged voice had reverberated across the room quieting the other occupants.
Waving the man away, Damian sat back on his pillows, cared for by two of his harem maidens. While one pressed the hallucinogenic filled pipe to his lips, the other tempted him with food and wine. She would be his very soon, he promised himself. She would be his. And in a haze of wellbeing, he laid back and fantasized about the woman who preoccupied his mind.
Surprisingly, Shawn and Belle were honeymooning not too far from the Sheik’s kingdom. Her new husband had surprised his beautiful bride with a cruise through the Greek Islands. After passion-filled nights, Shawn and Belle would wake up to sun filled mornings, the crisp sparkling Mediteranean, and frequent island stops. Today they were walking, hands laced within each other’s, along the sandy shores of the Island of Crete. This was their 2nd last day before meeting up with Philip and Mimi for a quick trip to the Orient. Every so often Shawn would reach for his wife and plant a deep kiss on her sweet beckoning lips. With only one touch, Belle would melt into him time and time again. Drawing her to a quaint little taverna, Shawn pulled out a chair for Belle to sit and took the one next to her, ordering them both a refreshing fruit drink from the waiter passing by.
Watching the waiter leave, he turned back to the beautiful woman…his dream come true…“Hmmm, Mrs. Brady…why is it that all the men crank their heads to look at you?” Shawn ran his hand teasingly along the outline of her lips.
Belle smiled back. “Why Mr. Brady! Whatever are you talking about? Belle leaned forwards towards him and started brushing soft kisses along his mouth. “Mmmm…I love…kiss…only you…kiss…I…adore…you…my Shawn”, Belle finished breathlessly.
“Come here Mrs. Brady!” Shawn ordered huskily, pulling her onto his lap. “Enough of your teasing!” Planting his lips on hers, he pressed for entrance to her mouth and bit on her tongue, sucking back and forth. For long moments the taverna and the rest of the world ceased to exist for the newlyweds. Finally, the waiter clearing his throat brought them up for air.
“Your drinks sir” the waiter scurried quickly away. Shawn looked at Belle and they both burst into laughter.
“God Shawn! Why is it you can totally make me lose my head when I kiss you? Do you even realize how addictive your kisses are Mr. Brady?” Belle shook her head in embarassment.
Shawn smirked at his wife. “Well now…you don’t say! I kind of like the sound of that…branding you with my kisses so you never want to leave me!”
Belle looked shocked. “Shawn, I never would…I need you in my life so much! I wouldn’t survive without you.” Just thinking about it made her tear up.
Mentally kicking himself for being such a macho ass, Shawn wrapped his arms around her. “Sweetheart I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to tease you…baby we belong to each other…always” he whispered, rocking her back and forth. “You’ve been through so much lately, I should be shot for making you cry.”
“I’m sorry too Shawn…I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately…hormones or something” Belle whispered into his chest.
Something triggered in Shawn as he picked up on her last words. Hormones? Losing her breakfast the last two mornings in a row? Wanting to nap in the lazy afternoons? Was it seasickness as they had thought or could it be…?
Shawn looked at his bride. Had they faithfully used protection? He knew the answer to that one. Did she look any different? No. A little paler than usual was all. But then it might be too soon to see anything. Hell! He was a man…how was he supposed to know these things?
“Um Belle?” He began tentatively. “Do you think…I mean is it possible…actually could you be…” Shawn gave up nervously tapping his fingers on the table.
Belle looked up at her husband in bemusement. “What Shawn? What’s wrong?”
Shawn tried again. “Well not wrong exactly…but honey…oh hell…there’s no easy way to say this…are you pregnant?”
To say that Isabella Brady was shocked at hearing that question would be an understatement. Pregnant? “Shawn I don’t think that’s anything to joke about…all I said was that my hormones were acting weird…I never said anything about…” her voice trailed off. But there was the seasickness; a little voice reminded her…at breakfast…oh my god! It suddenly dawned on her that she just might be! A baby! A precious baby! How she had dreamed that one day she would give birth to Shawn’s baby.
Both Shawn and Belle looked at each other in amazement. “Oh My!” They both shouted in unison, ignoring the questioning looks from the other diners.
Throwing money on the table, Shawn grabbed Belle and quickly pulled her out of the taverna.
“Where are we going, Shawn?” Belle asked breathlessly.
Shawn grinned down at his wife. “You and I have a doctor’s appointment to keep Mrs. Brady. Let’s get you to the ship’s doctor asap.” God! He wanted to be a daddy so badly. The thought of his baby growing inside of her was such an overwhelming thought. He couldn’t stop smiling.
Shawn paced the doctor’s office, impatiently waiting for the results. He couldn’t understand how Belle could be so calm about this.
Dr. Wesley smiled at the woman. It wasn’t every day that he got to impart what was obviously such good news. “Don’t worry Mrs. Brady…it’s quite common for the potential daddy to be nervous. We can always give him something to calm his nerves if you want.” Just then there was a knock on his door and his nursing assistant came in with a folder.
The doctor scanned the results and then looked up at the couple. “Well Mr. & Mrs. Brady…congratulations…you are about one month into your term…everything looks fine…we will write you up for some vitamins of course…oomph!” Belle launched herself at the doctor.
“Oh thank you thank you thank you! You don’t know what this means to us!” They heard a thump behind them.
“Shawn? Shawn? Oh god he’s fainted!” Rushing up to her husband she lifted his head in her arms. “Sweetheart?”
Dr. Wesley nonchalantly walked over to the couple. “This is very much common practice my dear. Here let me lift him onto the couch.” The doctor smiled in amusement as he reached for the young man. Getting the nurse to bring in a cold compress, he left the couple alone for a few minutes.
Belle watched as her husband blinked his eyes open and looked up at her in astonishment. “What the hell happened? I heard the doctor say the test was positive and then…?” Shawn turned red in embarassment.
Belle tried not to laugh. “Don’t worry sweetheart. Dr. Wesley says that this happens all the time. Shawn! A baby…Oh My Gosh! Were going to have a baby!” It was finally sinking in.
Shawn reached up, gliding his hands to each side of her face. “I love you so much Belle. Thank you for my present, sweetheart!” He kissed her ever so gently.
The doctor came back in, closing the door loudly behind him and startling them apart. “I see you’re back among the living Mr. Brady! Now Mrs. Brady here are your prescriptions and I expect you to see your physician when you get home to Salem” he nodded to both of them.
Together they thanked the doctor and floated back to their cabin.
Dipping his head, Shawn kissed Belle’s neck. “We have some celebrating to do, my love…and I know just what you need” he murmured softly.
Belle groaned against him. Closing her eyes as his mouth moved to cover hers. Lifting her up in his arms, Shawn lowered her to the bed and slipped in beside her. She shivered in excitement.
Gently, ever so much aware of her condition, Shawn brought her to the peak over and over again. He suckled on her suddenly very sensitive breasts, making a meal of it. Belle gasped and tried to pull him closer and then even closer. Spreading her legs, he softly massaged his way to her apex, inhaling her sweet creamy scent. Belle was lost in his arms. Her head flew every which way, her body strained for his capture. Finally, when she was on the brink of no return, her husband entered her body, slowly pressing into her all the way. And then in a time-honored dance, they set a magical, joyous rhythm taking them over the edge…saturating their bodies with a feeling of wellbeing. Locked together, the Brady’s fell asleep…treasuring their love…and the baby that would join them together everlastingly.
Chapter 28 - NC17
Waking up from their afternoon nap, Shawn and Belle glowed in the aftermath of their wonderful news. To celebrate, Shawn requested a private dining room for their evening meal just for the two of them.
Shawn had gone to make the final arrangements. Belle smiled to herself thinking about the secret grin he had bestowed on her prior to taking his leave.
“Make yourself beautiful, my lady…although I admit it will it will be hard to top your obvious perfection…” her husband whispered as he nibbled on her ear.
Belle hugged her husband affectionately. “You look so handsome in your suit, Shawn. Are you sure we really need to leave our cabin?” Belle pressed a seductive kiss to his lips.
“Why Mrs. Brady! Are you trying to seduce me? I’ll have you know that I am a very happily married man!” Twisting her around, Shawn swung her laughing into the air.
“Oh Shawn! I can’t believe how happy I am! I love you and our baby and…oh gosh! We’re pregnant Shawn! We’re pregnant! Belle stopped suddenly out of breath.
Shawn sat down on the bed, lowering her to his lap. “I know sweetheart and it makes me the happiest man in the world. I have you and our unborn child and that’s all I’ll ever need. You complete me Isabella. Don’t ever forget how much I love you…how much you mean to me”. For a few moments Shawn lost himself in her dreamy eyes.
A knock on their cabin door startled the couple out of their daydreaming. Shawn opened the door to the ship’s purser. Turning to his wife, he smiled and said “Now don’t you go anywhere! I’ll be back to pick you up in one hour!”
The door closed just as Belle let go a luxurious sigh. Could she be any happier? Her childhood crush was now her husband, her best friend, her lover. Rushing to the cabin’s bathroom, she turned on the bath taps, added some salts, and rubbed her hands through the water to hasten their transformation.
Belle slipped out of her robe, dropping it to the floor, and lowered herself into the relaxing foam. Leaning back, she closed her eyes and relaxed amidst the wonderful ambiance….and that’s where Shawn found her upon his return…
Quickly divesting himself of his clothes, Shawn lowered himself into the tub across from his sleeping wife. His muscular legs reached to encircle her. Pushing himself closer, Shawn reached for a rosy breast and lifted it to his mouth.
Belle’s eyes opened as her mouth let go an unwilling groan. What a wake-up call! Her very being was enveloped in the most torrid emotions. Grasping his head closer to her, Belle shuddered as he started to lick and suckle…lick and suckle…
“Oh God Shawn! Don’t Stop! D…on…. ‘T Stop!” She begged while her hands tangled in his hair.
Looking up, Shawn smiled wickedly. “I thought I told you to be ready for me Miss Belle? I guess your idea of ‘ready’ and mine were a little bit off…I do like your idea better though…I surely do.” Shawn ducked his head under the water and reached for her apex, slowly fastening his lips…driving her into frenzy…
Belle’s head lolled backwards as she gave herself up to his ministrations. With glazed eyes, she watched him push his tongue in and out, licking on the outside and then licking on the inside…reaching further and further…
Belle didn’t even notice when Shawn pushed his head through the water’s surface, gasping for air. She was too far gone…her moans permeated the air. Watching his wife, Shawn moved closer, plunging his manhood into her as far as he could. Belle screamed her pleasure, automatically wrapping her legs around his waist. They moved together as one…closer…closer…reaching…reaching…Shawn’s body strained against hers, pumping his seed into her, mindlessly enticing her to join him in a sexual explosion that left them drained and draped across each other’s body.
Pulling slowly out of her, Shawn smiled lazily at his wife. “Thank you sweetheart! Bathing with you is such an enjoyable experience!” He watched his wife blush.
Belle leaned her head against his chest. “Oh God, Shawn! I think I died and went to heaven! I can’t believe you just did that!” Her body felt sublimely weightless.
Grabbing a towel, Shawn pulled them both out of the tub and started to dry them off.
“This is just the beginning Isabella. Get dressed my beautiful wife…the night is young!” Shawn whispered huskily.
Together, albeit with lots of laughter and kissing in between, Shawn and Belle got into their finery and left the cabin.
Strolling along the deck, hands laced together, Shawn finally came to a stop, opened a door, and pulled his wife inside.
Soft twinkling lights mirrored the ceiling. A small dance floor stood ready at the side. Belle’s eyes widened as she looked to the left. A table set for two…candelabra lighting…centerpiece of yellow roses…and baby booties of every color scattered around the plates. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Shawn wrapped his arms around her ribcage. “Would you slow dance with me, Isabella?” He whispered against her lips.
Belle turned around in his arms and sighed. “I would love to dance with you Mr. Brady!”
Shawn led her to the dance floor and pressed the cd player, and music flowed out. With her head on his shoulder, heart against heart, they swayed to the music.
Is it real, what I feel, is it love,
Is it love that's making me weak,
In the night,
And when she's next to me,
I just stumble on my words,
And all the things I want to say,
Come out wrong,
I am lost in a dream,
But I know this is more than it seems,
I need a little help;
Someone put on a love song,
To bring her closer to me,
All I want is this diamond
In the dark,
To begin what must be;
When she turns at her name,
When she smiles,
When she smiles,
I feel it again, in my heart,
Across the crowded room,
She is just a dance away,
And I can feel her like a fire
That's burning strong,
She keeps looking at me,
And I know this was all meant to be,
And then it had to come;
Someone put on a love song,
To bring her closer to me,
All I want is this diamond in the dark,
To begin what must be,
All I want is this diamond in the dark,
To begin what must be,
All I want is this diamond in the dark,
To begin what must be,
All I want is this diamond in the dark,
To begin what must be.
Together they danced the night away, stopping only to feed each other’s hunger for food and passion. As it grew late, Shawn led a tired but content Belle back to their cabin. He undressed first her and then himself, and pulled the covers over them…to sleep…perchance to dream…
The sheik woke to a new day, refreshed and in good humor. His dreams of the girl had taken on momentous proportions. This day would bring him his heart’s desire. The Gods had spoken.
Rising, he yelled for his servants. It was time to prepare for her homecoming. There was much to be done. A wedding to plan…training to begin. Her previous nuptials were a mere nuisance, easily disposed of…
Sinking into sensual bliss. Wrapped so tightly that where one began and the other ended, was left to the observer. A passion so fiery…so addictive… If she opened her eyes would this delicious vision dissipate into thin air? Would disappointed reality invade her heavily manipulated subconscious? What did it matter? What did anything matter? His body’s gratification was of paramount importance…all that mattered…
At this very moment her dream lover was splayed across her body, pressing her into the sheets, rubbing against her very being…whispering irresistible commands. Her mind clouded over. A heightening of senses, a groan struggling to reach the surface…her body grew restless with need…screaming for far-reaching fulfillment. Her legs parted to his touch…more… and then more…in supplicated surrender, begging for the invasion to begin…reaching her hands out…seeking her master’s…
His lips touched the soles of her feet, licking a path to her ankles. Uncontrollable shivers permeated her body…so out of control…so out of control. Her body was his to do with as he pleased, taking her over the precipice again and again. Her mind was his to mold. A whisper of her name flamed the passion…gave legitimacy to the heretofore make-believe fantasy…the walls were closing in on her…he was her destiny…she was his property…no will…no choice…no Shawn…
Her eyes opened to stifling darkness. Gasping for air…out of control…raspy voice screaming in terror… tears streaming down her face, body shaking uncontrollably…the fantasy had turned into a hideous nightmare. Who was he? Who was this man who could invade her very dreams, question her sanity once more…take the place of the only man she had ever loved and ever would love? Why did he seem so real…so threatening…so near?
Shawn’s voice was but a vague irritant on her consciousness. She heard him calling to her…still her mind refused to accept his comfort. She felt his arms wrap around her, her head pressed to his chest, his hands rubbing her back in soothing motions. And yet she was on an abyss, unable to find solace…caught in an inconsolable web not of her making…so real…so real…
Shawn watched the many changes mirrored on his wife’s face. Please God, he silently prayed, she’s been through so much…give her back to me…tell me what to do…what dragons I need to slay…I need her… Gathering Belle close to him, he absorbed the tremors streaming through her body. Her hands pummeled his chest; her anguished cries tore at his heart.
And still, he never gave up…whispering softly to her…softly kissing her lips again and again…waiting for that small opening to rescue his distraught wife. Slowly, although it seemed like forever, the woman quieted in his arms…sheltered in his warmth. Burrowing into his body, a moment later she fell back into a peaceful sleep, protected by her true love….with no explanation…exhaustion pulled her in.
For some time afterwards, he lay awake watching her sleep. He relived the previous moments again and again. Should he call the ship’s doctor or did this go even deeper. Was this something only Dr. Caslis could deal with? A remnant of the brainwashing? Oh God! He hoped not…he prayed that it was just a nightmare after all the excitement of the day before. A baby! They were having a baby! And yet, looking down at Belle, Shawn wondered if it was too much for her. What had triggered the nightmare? Why had it affected her in such an extreme way? Where were the answers?
Belle slept on, finally at peace once more. Shawn struggled with his thoughts. He would not sleep again that night and possibly many more to come. Something was coming…something more evil…more insidiously corrupt than even before. Were it to succeed…no it could not succeed. Shawn was prepared to give his very life and soul for his love and their unborn baby. This was simply a warning…a little foreshadowing of what could come to pass…not what would.
Song Credit: Diamond in the Dark—By Chris De Burgh
As was his customary practice on that crisp Sunday morning, Shane Donovan was deeply immersed in scanning the foreign newspapers and Sunday television programs for worthy information. At this very moment, his focus was on the television reporter announcing a CNN Breaking News Story.
“This is Wolf Blitzer, reporting live from the tiny, but wealthy kingdom of Tahrain. Tahrain rebel forces have closed in on the Sheik’s palace and are on the brink of a major victory. I can tell you that the fighting is intensifying as we speak. Rebel General Ibrahim Akiba is at this moment entering the palace. As you can hear for yourselves, they are lobbing mortar rounds. Although there is no confirmation as yet, it is widely assumed that Sheik Damian El Eban and his closest advisors have been assassinated.
Now let me see if I can put this into perspective for you. Damian El Eban has not been popular among his people. His cruel and despotic ways have crushed this once fruitful land. He was also known to be a financer of terrorist groups. The people are now rushing out of their homes to greet and cheer the rebels fighting for independence.”
The reporter stopped for a minute as he listened into his earpiece. The cameras scanned the area.
“We take you now inside the palace to CNN news correspondent Jeff Koiner, traveling with the rebel forces. Jeff? What can you tell us about the Sheik and the palace itself?”
“Hello, Wolf. Yes it appears that the carnage has damaged a fair part of this opulent fortress. You will not believe the wealth that has been stored here while the major population has suffered. As far as the Sheik is concerned, yes we can now confirm that he has died from a gun wound to his head. A funny thing though, Wolf. As he fell to the ground, the Sheik clutched a picture to his chest that would seem to be of the outmost importance to him. The following scenes are very graphic and we advise viewers to turn away if they are uncomfortable or have children in the room.”
The cameras fanned to the body of Damian El Eban. His motionless hands were indeed clutching a picture, even in death. The camera zoomed in on the picture and Shane all but leapt from his seat.
“Oh My God! Oh My God!” He looked again at the picture in amazement.
Kim chose that moment to walk through with some coffee. Turning to look at the television screen, she gasped. “Darling, why does he have Belle’s picture? That is Belle, isn’t it?”
Shane nodded. “Damn if I know, but I am going to get to the bottom of this.” He quickly reached for his phone and called John Black.
Still in the Greek Isles, Shawn and Belle were dressed and ready to disembark when the cruise ship landed back in Athens. Although they were sad that their time alone was coming to an end, they were looking forward to meeting up with Philip and Mimi to tell them their great news.
Belle had woken up that morning with no recollection of the nightmare that had shaken her very being a few hours before. For some reason, she felt very much at peace and Shawn didn’t want to do anything to upset her feeling of wellbeing; he shelved his worries for the time being.
Belle leaned against the ship’s rails, secure in her husband’s arms. “Thank you Shawn for making my dreams come true. I have you, the promise of a baby…I’m so happy…”
Shawn nuzzled his wife’s neck. “This is just the beginning, sweetheart. I love you so much! I can’t wait for us to get home to Salem and begin our new lives as husband and wife. Turning her around, Shawn captured her lips in a passionate kiss.
The kiss would have gone for some time if the inconsiderate sound of wolf whistles hadn’t invaded their subconscious. Looking up, the two of them grinned at Philip and Mimi, waving from the docks. Taking Belle’s hand in his, they made their way to their friends.
“Man, I can tell you enjoyed your honeymoon, Shawn! How you doing buddy?” Philip shook his hand as Mimi and Belle exchanged enthusiastic hugs.
Back in Salem, John and Bo were on their way to the state prison. Shane’s phone call had precipitated this visit and both men were both anxious and eager to interrogate Auntie Vivian. Having confirmed that Shawn and Belle were safe and still on their honeymoon, they kept this latest development away from them.
They had entered the prison entrance, flashing their badges. Now they sat in a stark interrogation room, waiting for the convict. The door opened and a subdued prisoner was led, in chains, to the seat across from the two men. A guard stayed to watch the proceedings.
John took a picture from his satchel and threw it down in front of Vivian. “Who is he Vivian? Who is this bastard?” He growled.
Vivian looked a little startled as she took in the photograph. “How did you get that picture? Why are you here?”
Bo slammed his fist on the table. “Vivian, we ask the questions…now who is he?”
“His name is Sheik El Eban. He’s a business acquaintance,” she whispered.
John slammed another picture down on the table. “What the hell is he doing with a picture of my daughter?”
Vivian saw the picture of the slain man and visibly paled. “He’s dead? That picture…ah…that picture was in my Paris apartment. He must have somehow taken it without my realizing it”, her voice faded and then rose again. “Oh my god! He mentioned that he wanted Belle for himself, but I thought he was joking.”
John and Bo looked at each other in amazement. Bo was the first to catch on. “Damn, the bastard was planning on taking her away from Shawn! If the rebels hadn’t assassinated him first, who knows what might have happened!”
John stood up angrily. “After all that my baby girl has been through at your hands Vivian, I hope you rot in hell!” He left the room slamming the door behind him.
Bo looked down disdainfully at the woman who had almost destroyed all of their lives, and just shook his head. “You’re not worth my time, Vivian. I will say one thing though. If you ever come near Belle or Shawn again, I will personally wrap my hands around your neck and break it!”
Vivian shivered; her eyes carefully watching as Bo took his leave.
Back in the car, the silence was deafening. Finally Bo laid his hand on John’s shoulder. “She’s okay, John. She’s on her honeymoon. He didn’t get her…”
John shuddered at the thought. “I can’t help it Bo! She barely made it through this time, can you imagine what would have happened if he had succeeded in his plans? She mustn’t know about any of this Bo. I don’t want this to ever get out!”
Bo nodded his agreement. “Shane and I will take this secret to our graves, John. No need for Shawn and Belle to know anything about what could have been. I never thought I would be glad that some rebels did our job for us, but I am.”
John looked darkly at him. “Amen Bo, Amen!”
The men returned to Salem and briefed Shane.
The gentle breezes lulled the two couples to a taverna just below the Greek Acropolis, Shawn and Belle looked at each other and knew something was up. Mimi and Philip had been exchanging secret looks since they had met up.
Staring at Philip and Mimi, Shawn shook his head. “Okay guys, we can tell that you’re dying to tell us something, so why don’t you just spit it out?”
“C’mon Meems, you know you can’t keep a secret from me?” Belle giggled at the very thought.
The other couple nodded and Philip began to speak nervously. “Well the truth of it, what I mean to say is…um…well…darn it all! Mimi and I are engaged!”
Both Belle and Shawn shouted at once. “Engaged?” They quickly moved to the other side of the table and gave them both hugs.
“Oh Meems! I’m so happy for you! You two are great together! I knew it! I knew it!” Both girls laughed at each other.
Shawn and Philip shook hands and grinned. “So you went and did it! I knew something was up the way you two were looking at each other! I’m really happy for you, Philip! Congratulations!”
Belle gave Philip a kiss and hug and then wagged her finger at him. “You take good care of her Philip!”
Philip smiled down at his friend’s bride. “I will Belle. I promise.”
The day only got better after that. Shawn and Belle decided to keep their own good news to themselves for a little while longer.
At the end of the day, both couples said goodnight. Tomorrow they were embarking on their short tour of Tokyo and they wanted to be fresh for it.
In their hotel room, Shawn watched his wife get ready for bed.
Belle smiled to herself remembering back to when they were on the run. She walked towards Shawn with a gleam in her eyes, backing him up against the wall.
Shawn smiled and decided to play the game. He looked at her anxiously. “Belle! What are you doing?”
Belle was looking at him as if he were the cherry on top of a cake. Not saying anything, she moved until their bodies were touching and put both arms around him to hold him there.
“Nnnnow Belle! He stuttered. Don’t do anything we might both regret. We…we should really think about this don’t you think?” Shawn was biting his lip nervously, looking everywhere but at her.
Belle took his face in her hands and gently brushed kisses over his lips. “Nnnnow Sh…Sh…Shawn! She smiled, stuttering in the same way. “I don’t know about you but I’m really tired.” Belle yawned.
He watched as his wife pulled back the covers. She looked up at him with a grin, patting the bed beside her. “Come on Shawn, were just going to sleep…and turning her back to him, she closed her eyes…pretending .… That’s when Shawn pounced. Grabbing Belle by the waist, he proceeded to tickle her until she couldn’t take anymore.
“Uncle! Uncle! No more, please!” Belle was laughing uncontrollably.
Shawn silenced her with the sweetest kiss, teasing her mouth with his. He kissed her again with such infinite tenderness.
Belle looked at him lovingly. “If this is a dream, I don’t want to ever wake up”, she whispered.
Shawn smiled down at his wife possessively. “No dream, sweetheart”, he whispered back. “I’m right where I want to be. My heart’s come home!”
There's a kind of hush
all over the world tonight
All over the world
you can hear the sounds of lovers in love
You know what I mean
Just the two of us
and nobody else in sight
There's nobody else and I'm feeling good
Just holding you tight
So listen very carefully
Closer now and you will see what I mean
It isn't a dream
The only sound that you will hear
Is when I whisper in your ear I love you
For ever and ever
Song Credit: A Kind of Hush—By Herman’s Hermits
Vivian Alamain languished in prison for the rest of her miserable life.
Philip and Mimi married soon after their return to Salem and left on an extended honeymoon.
And Shawn & Belle? What became of them? Well….lets look in on the couple…
Shawn and Belle crept quietly into the nursery, gazing at the two babies in their cots. Shawn wrapped his arms around his wife and nuzzled her neck.
“Hush, Shawn. You’ll wake Diana Hope and Daniel John up”, she whispered.
“There both so beautiful just like their mother!” Shawn whispered back, lifting his wife in his arms and carrying her back to their bedroom.
And they all lived happily ever after!