Belle’s mouth went dry as she stepped out of her car in front of a run down trailer. She shivered at the thought of the people who were forced to live inside this place due to lack of money and jobs. Swallowing hard she grabbed her medical bag and headed towards the front door. The steel door slowly swung open and a well dressed woman stepped out.
“Isabella Brady, I’m Gretchen Wong the social worker assigned to your proceedings.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Belle said shaking the hand of the young Asian woman. “I’m hoping that nothing has changed yet?”
“Oh no, things are going just fine.” Gretchen assured the woman. “I’m just here to get you through all the preliminary items that have to be taken care of. Emilia is inside with her parents waiting for you. They’re a little nervous about you coming here, they’ve been told that you come from a wealthy family and they don’t want to be looked down upon.”
“I’m a doctor, or almost a doctor, a week after New Years I will be.” Belle said shifting her bag back and forth between her hands. “I have an oath to look at things in a different perspective, and unlike a lot of people I honor those vows. In fact, at one time my best friend lived in a cardboard box, I’m not going to judge them.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Gretchen said leading the way into the trailer. “Mr. and Mrs. Holmes and Emilia I’d like you to meet Isabella Brady.”
“Hello.” Belle said softly looking at the family that sat looking up at her with scared faces. “I’m excited to meet you.”
“Thank you for coming so far to meet us.” Mrs. Holmes said with a sweet smile. “We’ve heard you’re not feeling 100%.”
“Just a little under the weather.” Belle said taking a seat next to Gretchen on a free sofa. The inside of the small home was well decorated with tons of family pictures on the walls and well placed artwork. “But I’ll be better any day now.”
“Why do you want my baby?” Emilia asked in her deep Texan accent. “I mean, you’re young, have your own.”
“I can’t have my own.” Belle said softly wondering if she should spill all to these people. “I lost my only child a few years back in an accident that did some major damage to my inner organs and as a result I have been unable to conceive.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Emilia said her voice losing it’s edge. “I wish that I wasn’t in this situation at all. I’m sure you’ve heard that this was a huge mistake on my part, and we can’t afford to raise me let alone a little baby.”
“Shawn and I have been trying to adopt for a little while now.” Belle explained gently. “Before we lost our son we had tried to adopt a little girl we met at an orphanage. But sadly she passed away before we even had a chance to tell her about our plans. I’ve always wanted children and if I can’t have my own I want to extend my love.”
“You sound like a very lovely woman Belle.” Mr. Holmes said reaching over and squeezing his wife’s hand. “But we are concerned about the baby. We can’t afford to take Emilia to see a doctor, and she looks mighty tiny.”
“If you’d like I can check the baby’s heartbeat for you.” Belle said as her stomach knotted up again. She opened her bag and removed a small device. “All I do is place this on Emilia’s stomach and turn it on. It’s like a stethoscope, but more powerful.”
Gretchen watched in awe as the young woman quickly went to work checking Emilia’s body to see how the baby was doing. Warm yet professional was the feeling that Belle gave off and Gretchen was pleased to see how she was concerned with Emilia’s feelings as well as the baby. “As you know, the Brady family will be paying for all the medical care from here on out. But, if in the end you decide not to give the baby up the you will have to pay the back.”
“I’m not changing my mind.” Emilia said as she climbed up from the couch. “I can’t raise a little one right now. I know that, and I understand it. Belle, don’t be afraid that I’m going to string you along, I won’t.”
“I didn’t expect you too.” Belle said packing her instruments away before returning to her seat. “I’ve booked you in to see a doctor I know here this afternoon at two. I’d like you all to come for it, after all this is your blood, I don’t want to keep you in the dark.”
“You’re a one of a kind girl Belle.” Mrs. Holmes said nodding her head. “My niece gave up her little boy a few years back and the family was demanding and cruel to her. She only knew it was a boy because we saw an announcement in the paper a few months later.”
“I would never do that to a mother.” Belle said shivering at the thought of not knowing about her own child. “I won’t keep Emilia from seeing the baby. I’ll send photo’s and call if that’s what you’d like. I’ve got too big a heart to keep a mother from their baby.”
“Let’s discuss that a little further.” Gretchen said knowing that open adoptions usually didn’t work out in the long run. “I know that you don’t want to keep this child from the Holmes family Belle. But, from my experience those types of relationships don’t work out. I don’t want to put both families through the trials of giving back a baby.”
“I don’t want this baby.” Emilia insisted again. “If I can get one update a year to make sure my baby is still being taken care of I will be happy. If I can’t, then that’s fine with me too. You see, I’m not eighteen as my form says I am. I’m only 15 years old, and the reason Jackson signed away his rights is because he raped me. To avoid being thrown in jail we had him give up his rights.”
Belle gasped at what she’d been told. A thousand questions flooded her head as her medical knowledge took over her common sense. But the sad look in the teenagers eyes gave her all the information she needed. “Is there not a free clinic in the area?”
“Nothing.” Mrs. Holmes said shaking her head. “There used to be, but it closed after the doctors got fed up with the low salaries they got paid.”
Belle bit down on her lip as an idea came to mind. “I’m going to talk to my Great Grandmother in laws benefactor about doing something. But first, Emilia you need to drink some water. And then, we can go see that baby.”
Bo paced the length of the hallway running his hands through his already disheveled hair. He’d watched with his own eyes as his son had been gunned down in the line of duty. The bullet had torn through Shawn’s neck and shoulder and it had taken almost thirty minutes to get him to a hospital.
“Bo, you have to sit down.” Hope said reaching for her husband’s hand to pull him to a chair. “Bo, come on now, the longer you stand there the more upset you’re going to become. Shawn needs you to be strong for him, not stressed out and exhausted.”
“I watched it Hope, I watched him get shot.” Bo said taking her hands in his. “How can I not pace around like a wreck when I could have prevented it.”
“There was nothing you could have done Bo, he was in control of his actions.” Hope said noting how her husband’s hands were shaking in fear; Fear for their son. “Shawn made that decision to go and take things into his own hands on his own. You said you told him not to go up, this is not your fault.”
“Bo, Hope, Shawn’s out of surgery.” Craig Wesley said as he approached them, his face showing his fatigue. “Have you called Belle yet?”
“I was unsuccessful in my attempts to reach her.” Hope said as Bo clung to her for support. “I left a message with the woman she’s staying with to call me on a private line set up here in the hospital.”
“Good, I think she should be here.” Craig said wringing his hands together. “Shawn sustained severe damage in his neck. I won’t lie to you, it doesn’t look good at all. He lost a critical amount of blood, and the jugular was damaged. We did our best to repair what was done, but it’s not the bullet wound that worries me. Shawn’s brain went without the proper amounts of oxygen for a very long time. Things are looking down and pointing towards brain injury.”
“Oh God.” Hope said covering her mouth and gasping. “My baby, my baby boy. This can’t be happening Craig, this can’t be happening. They’re getting a baby after the holidays, he’s supposed to fly down as soon as he starts his vacation.”
“I know Hope, and I know it’s hard.” Craig said shaking his head in disbelief. “But right now Shawn needs your prayers and support. He’s young, and that works in his favor but I’m not sure how much his body can endure at once.”
“Can we see him?” Bo asked swallowing hard.
“I’ll take you to him.” Craig said nodding his head. “But make sure you get a hold of Belle.”
Belle nearly cried as she leaned over the toilet for the third time that hour. Her stomach was disagreeing with her again and it annoyed her since the ultrasound for her baby was going on as we speak. “Ugh, I’d love to say this was morning sickness, I really would.”
“Perhaps it is.” Dr. Jen said as she checked in on Belle. “I really think it might be worth your while to take a pregnancy test Belle. You’re showing all the classic symptoms.”
“I told you earlier I can’t conceive.” Belle said again shaking her head. “We’ve known each other a long time Jen, I can’t have kids and you know why.”
“You were only told that it was mighty unlikely that you’d have them.” Jen reminded her gently. “No one can really say for certain that when ovaries are damaged that they don’t work at all. I do know that you said you haven’t had a period in months and that you’re gaining weight. You say it’s from stress, but I think you should take the test.” She extended a box to her friend and stepped out of the room. “I’ll be waiting.”
Belle groaned as she pulled herself to her feet. Shaking her head again she went to work on the test.
Five Minutes Later
Belle slowly walked out of the bathroom carrying the test. She looked up at the waiting doctor with tears in her eyes before handing over the little vial. “I am.” She whispered softly. “I am, I’m going to have a baby. I’m going to have two babies.”
“Congratulations!” Jen exclaimed throwing her arms around her friend. “Belle this is so exciting! Do you realize how blessed you are right now, getting two babies at the same time?”
“I just don’t want to think.” Belle said placing a hand on the bulge that was her stomach. “I just don’t know how I missed this. I mean, I’m on my way to being a doctor and I can’t tell when I’m pregnant?”
“It’s because of what you were told.” Jen said smiling again. “But we should get you in for an exam and everything to determine when you’re due and to make sure that everything is ok.”
“Alright.” Belle said allowing herself to be led away from the bathroom. “I just can’t believe it, Shawn is going to be thrilled when I tell him!”
Hope groaned as Belle’s voice mail picked up for the third time in an hour. “Come on Belle, you have to answer it sooner or later.” She said slamming the phone down and getting up from her spot in the quiet office. She couldn’t understand how Belle couldn’t be worried after not hearing from Shawn, and had expected there to be messages all over for him.
“Hope, come on quick he’s waking up.” Bo said sticking his head into the office and reaching out for her. “Hurry!”
Hope gasped when she rushed into Shawn’s room. He lay there looking at the door with confusion on his face. “Shawn, baby how do you feel?” She reached for his hand and frowned when he pulled away.
“I feel sore.” Shawn said in a low voice.
“You should son, you were shot.” Bo said wrapping his arms around Hope. It wasn’t like Shawn to pull away from family and he began to fear there were going to be memory problems. “Shawn, do you know who we are?”
“I’m assuming you’re my parents.” Shawn said touching his neck gently, cringing at the bandage he felt. “But other than that I don’t remember anything.”
Hope sobbed at the confession from her son. “Oh Shawn you have to remember.” She said as tears slid down her cheeks. She didn’t want to upset him, but this was more than she could handle. “What about Belle and the baby, do you remember them?”
“No.” Shawn said shaking his head. He closed his eyes and hoped that something would come to him. “I’m sorry, I don’t remember those people.”
Bo groaned at the comment. “Fancy Face, I want you to go to Texas and bring Belle home. If they lose the baby because of it so be it.” He said giving her a quick kiss. “She needs to be here for Shawn, she has to.”
Belle smiled as she approached the front door of Dee’s house. She’d learned that afternoon that she was due on Christmas Eve, a lot further along than she thought she was. The baby was small, but healthy and she was thrilled. Quietly she crept into the house only to be greeted by Dee herself. “Hey.”
“Oh Belle, I’m afraid I have bad news.” Dee said quickly. She pulled the beaming girl into her living room where Hope Brady sat waiting. “I’m so sorry sweetie.”
“Hope?” Belle asked stopping dead in her tracks. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m afraid I have bad news Belle.” Hope said standing quickly and watching her daughter in law. “Shawn was injured last night in a shoot out. He’s awake and alive, but he’s lost his memory. I’m sorry sweetie.”
“No.” Belle said backing against a wall for support. “This can’t be happening. This can’t. What about the baby, what will I do now?”
“You can adopt another baby Belle.” Hope said reaching out for the girl. “There will be other babies that you can love.”
“No, I mean our baby.” Belle said clutching at her stomach as if she was in pain. “Hope, Shawn and I are going to have a baby of our own. Christmas time we should have two babies in our home. I’m pregnant.”
Belle sighed as she stood near the Horton family Christmas tree. The Holmes’s had agreed to come to Salem for the holidays since she couldn’t fly being so far advanced in her pregnancy and it touched her that they were enjoying themselves. “How are you feeling Emilia.”
“We’re soon going to have to leave.” Emilia said rubbing her aching back. Her contractions had started that morning and now they were close together. “Maybe we should have left a little while ago.”
“Well let’s get your parents and we’ll head to the hospital.” Belle said glancing over at Shawn. He sat with his hands clasped like a good child. His memory hadn’t returned at all, but he was trying to fit in at least. It killed her to know that his son or daughter would be born at any time and he didn’t remember creating the life.
“Is it time?” Shawn asked gently coming over to her. He stroked a lock of hair out of her face and pressed his lips to her cheek. He may not have any memories of their past together, but he enjoyed what they shared together.
“For Emilia.” Belle said nodding her head. She shivered under his touch and looked up into his eyes. Living with him was like being with a stranger until she looked into his eyes because deep in those chocolate colored depths was her Shawn. “I’ll still be hours yet.”
“Let’s take off then.” Shawn said helping her to the door. Her body had blossomed in her pregnancy and he loved to just sit back and look at her. “Did you want me to drive?”
“Please.” Belle said nodding her head. She waved goodbye to Shawn’s Great Grandmother before heading out to the car. Carolers were singing as they climbed inside, the mini van they’d been driving for the past few weeks and Belle smiled. “How far apart are your contractions Emilia?”
“Three minutes.” Emilia replied softly through her pain. “But they’re getting more intense.”
“That’s a good thing.” Belle reassured her as the ingestion that had been bothering her all day returned. “Don’t worry about it right now. We’ll get you into a room right away and get an epidural started so you can relax. By the sounds of things it wouldn’t be too long.”
“I hope not.” Emilia said releasing her fathers hand from the vice she’d been holding it in. “I don’t think I can take much more of this. I just want this baby out so I can go home to Texas and get on with my life.”
“Cheer up honey, it’ll be over soon.” Mrs. Holmes said gently. “But Shawn dear, get a move on!”
Belle groaned as she paced the hall out side the delivery room. She wasn’t sure what was happening inside the room, but she did know that she had been kicked out of the room so some tests could be run. “What could be going on in there?”
“Calm down Belle.” Shawn said reaching out and pulling her onto his lap. The added weight was nothing for him and he cuddled her gently. “If anything goes wrong they will come out and tell us right? You’re going to set off your labor if you keep this up.”
“You’re right.” Belle said groaning in pain. “I just wish that my indigestion would go away so I can enjoy this experience.” She rested her head against his shoulder and sighed. “Are you happy Shawn?”
“Of course I am.” Shawn said kissing her cheek lightly. “How could I not be. Belle, I may not remember what we went through in the past, but that doesn’t matter to me now. I’m making new memories with you and in just a little while we’ll have a baby of our own to love, then one more any time now. I’m in heaven.”
“Good answer.” Belle said with a giggle. She loved being with Shawn even if he didn’t remember anything from their past. It made opening up to him quite easy. “I just wish the babies would get here.”
“It’s here!” Lexie exclaimed as she charged out of the birthing room. “It’s a boy Belle, you and Shawn have a son!”
“Aiden.” Addie gasped as she leaned over the waters watching her grandson and his young wife. She looked up at the bright sun above her and smiled, “You told me that Aiden still had a purpose with them, you were right. Thank you Lord.”
“A son?” Shawn asked helping Belle to her feet. “We have a son!” He grabbed her in a tight hug and kissed her hard. “Can we see him Lexie?”
“He’ll be brought out any minute.” Lexie said nodding her head. “Mr. Holmes will bring him to you, Emilia is just spending a few minutes with him before she goes back to Texas. She’s asked not to hold him, only to see him.”
Belle’s head snapped up at the sound of the doors opening. Mr. Holmes was walking towards them carrying a small bundle wrapped in a blanket. “Oh.” She said as tears filled her eyes. She smiled at the man as he offered the child to them. “Thank you.”<br />
“No thank you.” Mr. Holmes said kissing the young woman’s cheek once. “You’ve given my grandson something we couldn’t and for that we’ll always be grateful.” He shook Shawn’s hand before turning away. “Thank you.”
Belle looked down at the tiny child in her arms and gasped. “He looks just like Aiden!” She exclaimed as Shawn peered down at the child. “I can’t believe it!”
“He’s perfect.” Shawn said as Belle handed the baby to him. “I’m holding my son, I get to hold him this time.”
“Shawn?” Belle asked looking up at him.
“Belle I remember Aiden being born.” Shawn said as tears formed in his eyes. “I remember being here at the hospital watching him die with out being able to touch him even once. I remember.”
“Oh Shawn, you do remember.” Belle said as a searing pain tore through her body. “Oh god…” She looked up at him, smiling through her pain. “Shawn, I think it’s time!”
“Two babies in one night?” Shawn asked as Lexie rushed towards them. He handed the baby over and held onto his wife. “Oh boy, what did I ever do to be this lucky?”
“I know what you did to deserve this.” Belle said grabbing his hand and squeezing it with all her might. “And god help me you’ll never get to do it again!”
Belle smiled as she watched Shawn smile at their two children. “I can’t believe how lucky we are.” She sighed in contentment. “We have two children, and it’s Christmas eve.”
“Belle, did you notice who these children look like?” Shawn asked smiling down at his daughter. “Belle, do you believe in reincarnation?”
“Why?” Belle asked feeling disturbed by his question.
“Belle, Hayden looks like our first child. And Noelle looks like her name sake.” Shawn said bringing both babies over to her. The resemblance was uncanny and it made him shiver. “I think that we’ve got the children we started with.”
“How can that be?” Belle asked taking her first good look at her children. “Shawn, how can that be?”
“It can be because it is so.” Addie said as she slowly appeared in the darkened room. “I have been watching over these children since they came to heaven with me. I now know that the reason they were taken from the world to start with was to bring you closer together. And they have done just that. Love them and cherish them.”
“Grandma?” Shawn asked clutching Noelle to his chest.
“Fear not Shawn Douglas, I do not bring bad news.” Addie said smiling gently at the scared couple. “Isabella and you are part of a large plan put together by the Lord and you have played your part wonderfully. I am proud of the two of you.”
“Are they Aiden and Noelle?” Belle asked as she finally found her voice. She released Hayden slightly to ease his cries. “Is this the family we were meant to have?”
“Everything you have is part of Gods plan.” Addie said as she felt a pull towards the sky. “My time here with you is over now. Cherish your lives and always remember that things happen for a reason.”
Shawn stood in shock as the image of his Grandmother faded from view. “That was impossible.” He whispered looking down at Belle with bewilderment in his eyes.
“It was a miracle.” Belle said feeling like a weight had been lifted from her chest. “Shawn do you realize what we have been given today? You’ve started to remember things that happened years ago, two children and a visit from your Grandmother. What more can we ask for?”
“A long and happy life.” Shawn replied giving her a soft kiss. “But right now, All we need are the four of us together. We have finally gotten the child we wanted. Un Enfant a appele Noel as you once called it. I love you Isabella Brady, Merry Christmas.”
A little boy slowly crept out of his bedroom making his way to the living room. He stopped next to the tree and smiled at the ornaments that Miss. Belle had sent for him along with a picture of her and her husband Shawn. He carefully removed the photo from the table and traced the faces with one tiny finger. Looking out the window at the stars he grinned before three special words slipped past his lips, “Merry Christmas ya’ll!”