“Look, I’m not wearing that! I don’t care how much was spent on it! I don’t care if it “looks” good! In my opinion, it’s horrible!” She was determined to have her way with this. No one made her do anything. “Number one, it’s paisley, number two, the material is rough, I mean, it’ll probably chafe my skin!” She threw the dress on the floor and stomped out of the studio, in nothing but her panties, bra and camisole.
Taylor rolled her eyes and sighed, Isabella Black, John Black’s daughter was the most impossible model she had. If she wasn’t so photogenic and wasn’t the boss’ daughter, she’d have already requested to have her transferred, fired, anything really, just to get her out of her hair. “Okay guys, take five, let me go get Miss Meticulous!” The guys in the studio were used to this. It was almost expected! Isabella threw a tantrum about once a week. They just nodded and set their equipment down.
Isabella stomped down the hall to her father’s office. She brushed past his secretary, as she was talking to what she assumed to be her dad’s next appointment. However she didn’t care, she just wanted to end this, NOW!! “Isabella…Isabella, you can’t just waltz in there…” Gladys followed Belle into Mr. Black’s office, apologizing profusely for his daughter’s interruption.
Mr. Black held his hand up, “It’s alright Gladys, I’ll handle this. Please apologize to Mr. Carnegie again, for him having to wait. I’ll just be a bit longer.” The plump lady nodded to her boss, backed out, closing the door at her exit. “Kate, if you’ll excuse me, I need to take care of this.” He glanced at Belle, exasperated at this last obstruction to his full scheduled day. “I’ll follow up with you after lunch.” Kate nodded, smiled at Belle, then collected her things and made her way out of John’s huge, executive office.
Just as Gladys returned from smoothing things over with Mr. Black’s very patient and understanding appointment, a very flustered Taylor turned the corner. She was moving at a rapid pace, hoping to catch Belle before she made her way into her father’s office. “I’m sorry honey, she’s already in there.” Gladys turned her head upon hearing the door open and click closed. She smiled and nodded to the Vice President as Kate passed by her desk. When she looked back to finish talking with Taylor, there was no one there. “That poor dear…” she said shaking her head, then dismissed the thoughts, quickly diving back into her work.
John winced as he realized that he was about to make Mr. Carnegie wait even longer, however, if he was going to nip this in the bud, he was going to have to take care of this now. Once, sometimes twice a week, he was disrupted by his daughter, causing meetings to be interrupted, pushed back, postponed and sometimes cancelled altogether.
He stood still for a moment, just looking at his daughter. He raised both eyebrows, and rubbed his chin with his right hand, while shaking his head. ’What am I going to do with her?’ She was standing there completely comfortable, with barely any clothes on, acting as if she owned the place. He walked over to the rack that had been rolled in just this morning with the new line. He tossed her a woman’s softball jersey and a pair of matching shorts.
“Put those on!” John barked at her, obviously extremely upset. He walked back over to his enormous oak desk, and took a seat in his plush, leather chair. “…And come sit down.” He paused for a moment and thought back to all the previous times that his daughter had barged into his office unannounced. Each time it was something trivial, and each time it was as if she wanted or needed something else, but wouldn’t ask for it. He leaned over his desk, folding his hands patiently in front of him. With a calmer voice and a much softer glare in his eyes, he began, “Isabella, you’ve interrupted me, my employees, potential clients and important meetings, time after time, week after week. And, although each instance was for a different reason, you always seemed like there was something else wrong.”
He waited for a reaction, and wasn’t disappointed. Her sour face instantly softened. She seemed to hesitate, but finally responded, “Daddy…I don’t know how to tell you this, but…I hate modeling! I’ve tried my best to enjoy it. I’ve blamed it on others, blamed it on the photographer, the lights, the clothes, anything but the fact is, I just don’t like it. I’ve thought I wanted to follow in mom’s footsteps, but…I…just…can’t, I truly loathe it!” She was very animated with her hands as she finally told her father how she truly felt. Her father’s heart broke as she started crying.
When Marlana died, Isabella was 10 and Brady was 15, and needless to say, she didn’t take it very well. Not that any little girl would take losing their mother well, but she took it exceptionally hard. Neither John nor Brady knew how to help her. It wasn’t until high school that she had seemed to finally be accepting the loss of her mother…but just a bit.
Her freshman year she tried out for the girl’s fast pitch softball team. She ended up making the cut and went on to become the star player. Nothing could get by her at short stop and her arm was like a cannon. She loved every minute of it and her smile proved to him that she was on the road to becoming happy again. When she played, nothing else in the world mattered to her. It was as if the game was created just for her.
John made sure to be at every practice, game and tournament, showing his love and support. She played all four years, each year taking her team to the state championships. Her senior year was the best year of all. They went from the state championships to the national championship, and won. Upon graduation, she was granted a full softball scholarship to the college of her choosing. She chose Northwestern and come mid June, moved in with her Aunt Vivian, who lived in a mansion on the outside of town.
During her first year of college, she met a guy that seemed to monopolize her life. She quit going to college, quit playing softball, quit talking to her family and friends and appeared to be involved with drugs. Vivian traveled a lot so no one really knew until it was too late. Long story short, John found out and forced her to move back home, cutting all ties with the boy that seemed to have destroyed his daughter’s future.
Belle was now 22 and had been doing nothing for the last few years. Growing tired of his daughter wasting her life, John sat down with Belle and told her that if she wasn’t going to go to school, then she was going to work. It was her idea to try modeling, and taking after her mother, she definitely had the figure and looks for it. Marlana was a beautiful woman and had been on the cover of every magazine known to man. She loved every aspect of modeling, so Belle thought she’d follow in her footsteps. Unfortunately, Belle didn’t love it, any of it, and after 8 months of trying, she was through.
John stood from his desk and walked around to his daughter. Seeing him, she also stood and ran to meet him. John wrapped his arms around his youngest child, letting a few tears fall, as he realized that they had finally made a break through. “Isabella…I’ve been sitting on this idea, for months now. It’s something I think you’d truly enjoy. I hadn’t said anything because I wasn’t sure if you’d be interested or not, but I’m willing to present it to the board if you think you’d like to try it.” He pulled back to look her straight in the eye.
She cocked her head to the side, curious as to what her dad had thought up. “What is it daddy?” She couldn’t imagine what her father had cooked up now. She worried that it was a scam to get her back in school, or even worse a “real” job.
Pursing his lips together, then smiling, John looked down at what Belle had on, “How would you like to start playing softball again?” He lifted his eyes back up to see if he could read hers. They had transposed into baby blue hues, with obvious sparkles in them. He knew that she was sold, “I’ve been in contact with a guy that is out for the remainder of the season, due to an automobile accident. He played short stop for the Seattle Mariners.”
Belle was ecstatic. She had feared that this was going to be the worse day of her life. That her father was once again going to be disappointed in her, but no, it was the best thing that could have ever happened. “THE SEATTLE MARINERS? Are you serious? When will we meet him? When can we start? Do you have a team together?” Belle was shooting out questions left and right.
John started to laugh, “Yes the Seattle Mariners! He’ll be here tomorrow. I scheduled a meeting with him to see what he thought about coaching a professional woman’s softball team. If you’d like, be here at 9 AM tomorrow and you can sit in on the meeting. All the questions you and I have will be answered then.” John hugged his daughter, and kissed her on the forehead. “I’m so glad that this worked out, and such perfect timing!”
Belle smiled as she stepped back, “Me too dad, me too! I’ll tell you what, I’ll finish today’s shoot, but no more after today, okay?” She heard him agree, as she made her way towards the door, then it dawned on her. Her eyes grew wide; “…the short stop for the Seattle Mariners is…Shawn Brady.” Belle nearly passed out at the realization that she was about to meet THE SHAWN BRADY! She turned around to face her dad.
John leaned back against his desk, crossing his arms over his chest. A smirk appeared from his daughter’s excitement. “I wondered how long it would take you to figure that out!”
Isabella smiled at her reflection as she finished putting on her light, shimmery lip-gloss. Pleased with her appearance, she stood up from her vanity table, crossed over the majority of her wardrobe that now lay on the floor, to her full-length mirror. “This should be perfect,” She turned to each side and then around to the back and looked over her shoulder.
Her black silk pantsuit designed especially for her, fit to perfection. The pants fit snuggly at the top, displaying her perfectly sculpted buns and outlining her long, shapely legs, loosening up towards the bottom to a wide boot cut. The top buttoned up to a low V, displaying just enough tanned cleavage. She completed the statement with 3 ½ inch black heals, and a small black purse.
Her hair had been rolled and was now partially clipped back, keeping a few spiraled strands dangling around her face. She had done her makeup in a way that looked completely natural on her, making her eyes big, bright and inviting. Her lips were shiny, looking extremely wet and kissable.
She glanced at the clock, then down at her new silver Rolex, checking to see how much time she had. “Shit, it’s already 8:15 AM? Where does the time go?” Taking one last look in the mirror, she grabbed her purse and headed for the garage. Even though her father’s office was only 15 minutes away, she needed a few extra minutes. Every morning before a photo shoot, she always stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a cup of coffee and a bagel, and this morning she knew that she would need it. Her nerves were already on edge, I mean how could they not be? Today she was meeting Shawn Brady, the short stop for the Seattle Mariners!
Climbing down the stairs to the 7-car garage, she scanned over the various black cars that her father had collected. She decided on the Nissan 350 Z and grabbed the keys from the hook on the wall. She opened the door, threw her purse over the console, to the passenger side and crawled into the soft leather bucket seat. She pressed the button to open the garage, started the car, popped it in first and took off, closing the garage as she cleared the entryway.
With the stop at Dunkin Donuts, she made it in just under 25 minutes. She parked in her assigned parking spot, in between her father and brother, right by the door. She flipped the visor down, checked her makeup and hair and then exited the car, pressing the lock and alarm button over her shoulder, just before opening the front door to Basic Black.
She made her way up the escalators to the fourth floor, which held a number of executive offices, including her father’s enormous suite. She smiled at Gladys as she approached her father’s wing; “He’s expecting you dear!” She gave Isabella a warm, genuine smile and then went back to her work. Belle continued past her father’s assistant, and hesitated at the large intimidating wooden door.
’This is it’, she took a deep breath, turned the knob, and slowly pushed open the door. Instantly she heard her father’s voice, “Right, no, I understand…tomorrow at 2:30 it is…Thanks again Mr. Carnegie…Goodbye!” John was leaning back in his chair with his feet up on his desk, smoking a cigar. He placed the receiver down and glanced up to see Belle closing the door behind her. “Isabella! I’m so glad you made it. You look beautiful!” John set the smoking cigar down in the large glass ashtray and stood to greet his daughter.
She set her coffee and bag of bagels down on the oak desk and wrapped her arms around her father’s rib cage, “Good Morning daddy!” She felt her father kiss her on the head and then release her as she reached for their breakfast. “I brought us a few bagels, I know how you always skip breakfast!” She pulled a chair up to his desk and laid out the low fat cream cheese, bagels, plastic knives and napkins.
John didn’t hesitate to take the offering his daughter made, “Thanks angel!” He spread some cream cheese all over one of the bagels and turned away from her to face his computer. He selected a few different documents and printed out one copy of all of them. “I’ve finished the proposal for the board to sign, if all goes well, you’ll be the hottest new team this side of the Mississippi!” He rolled up to the intercom and pressed the speaker button, “Gladys, would you come in here, please?” John winked at Belle, causing her to giggle.
The huge wooden doors opened and in walked the plump little lady that basically kept Mr. Black going. “Gladys, I need ten copies of each of these, bound together with these…uhmm, those plastic…sleeves…” John was frantically searching on his desk for an example of what he wanted, “damn it…”
“Report Covers?” Gladys helped him a bit, and winked at Belle.
John stopped and gave her a crooked smile, “Uhm, yes, those…things. Thank you Gladys.” Belle watched as her father’s assistant took the documents from John’s hands and scurried away, closing the doors behind her. She couldn’t imagine doing an assistant’s job. Belle scrunched up her face as she was contemplating Gladys’ tasks. Doing whatever someone commanded, whenever they commanded, wasn’t her idea of a “Dream Job”.
John’s voice broke her daze; “You ready Izzy? It’s five til nine!” Belle looked like a deer caught in headlights. She scrambled to finish her bagel and clean up their mess, then darted to her dad’s private bathroom to touch up her lip-gloss and check her hair. John had to chuckle at his daughter, “Geez, you’d think you were meeting someone famous!”
Belle leaned back and peeked out the doorway to glare at her father, then smiled inwardly as she went back to her primping. She heard him laughing, as she was messing with her hair, “You know as well as I do, that Shawn Brady has been my favorite professional short stop for as long as he’s been playing…” She finished up and started out the door, stopping in mid stride.
Standing next to her father was the most beautiful physique she’d ever seen. A perfectly sculpted man, with dark brown hair. His bangs playing hide and seek with the warmest chocolate brown orbs her baby blue’s had ever met. He was dressed in worn down, very fitted, very faded Lucky Brand jeans, and a Seattle Mariners T-shirt, that showed off his extremely cut up arms. His feet were clad in a pair of Nike tennis shoes. She was so entranced in seeing her idol, that she didn’t hear her father calling her name.
“Isabella…Isabella…” John glanced at Shawn, and motioned his arm up and down trying to get his daughter’s attention. When she didn’t respond, he walked over and took her by the hand, leading her over to her new coach, smirking all the while, “Isabella…this is Shawn Brady. Shawn, this is my daughter, Isabella Black. She’s going to be your star Short Stop!”
Isabella followed her father over to meet Shawn, royally embarrassed that she was caught so off guard. She heard her father make the introductions and shook Shawn’s hand when he stuck it out to meet hers. “I’m sorry about earlier, I wasn’t expecting you to be standing there…I’m very pleased to meet you…” She trailed off not knowing what else to say, but left her eyes locked on his.
Shawn gave her an award-winning smile, and then her heart melted, his voice was like something in a romance movie. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Isabella, I look forward to working with you and taking your team to the championship games!” He left his hand holding hers for a second longer and then he winked at her. She was thankful that her father was present, she might have melted into a puddle right then and there.
John sensed what was going on, and although there was nothing he’d like more in the world, decided that there was plenty of time for Shawn to “romance” and date his daughter. It was time to get down to business. He cleared his throat, breaking the trance that the two seemed to have put on each other. “Okay, well, as soon as Gladys brings the presentations back, we’ll all head up to the board meeting and get this show on the road.”
Shawn and Belle both were startled when the two wooden doors to John’s office slammed open, hitting the walls behind them. In walked a fiery brunette, with piercing green eyes, and a killer body, looking as if she was about to kill, “Shawn, I thought I told you to wait for me outside the bathroom? You know I don’t know my way around here!” Shawn looked very surprised and extremely embarrassed. His gaze shifted from Belle, to John, then back to the angry woman.
“John, Isabella, this is Allison Brady, Allison…” He glared at her, “My new employer!” Belle watched as the woman’s eyes softened, and a small blush crept upon her cheeks. Both John and she shook hands with the woman that had just reprimanded Shawn.
John raised both eyebrows, and glanced at his daughter as Gladys cautiously walked through the entryway with John’s previous request, “John…” She looked around, while handing him the 11 proposals, “Is everything alright?”
John glanced at Shawn, then at Allison. “Isabella, lets wait for them in the hall, I think they probably need a few minutes.” He held out his arm for Belle to take, not giving his new employee a chance to decline. They both followed Gladys out in the hall, Belle glancing back just as the doors closed behind them.
Shawn slowly closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. A few seconds later, He opened his dark pools of vision back up, blowing the air out, very hostile like. Allison approached him, reaching for his arm, “Shawn I…”
Shawn turned to face her, while jerking away his arm, “No! You’re going to listen to me for a second.” He leaned in close, his mouth inches from hers. He tried to keep his voice as quiet as possible. “You just embarrassed me in front of John Black and his daughter Isabella. They are my new employers! They are the ones that are going to be keeping us with an income!” He ran his hand through his hair, pushing a few strands out of his eyes. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times, Get…you’re…temper…under…control, and learn some manners!” Shawn threw his hands up in the air and turned around at his last word.
Allison was staring at the ground, realizing how she had acted. “Shawn, I’m really sorry, I don’t know what came over me. You know that I’m usually more professional then that. It’s just…I’m two and half months pregnant, and recently, well…sometimes I just, oh, I don’t know. I get all crazy and don’t think.” She was ringing her hands nervously, “Zach wants me to stay home, but I love what I do.” She paused. “Shawn you know I’d go crazy in that enormous house, doing nothing all day.” She dropped her gaze back down to the black Berber carpet that covered Mr. Black’s office suite floor.
Shawn reached for his sister-in-law and wrapped his arms around her. “I know honey, we’ve just got to figure out a way to keep your attitude in check. I’m sorry I wasn’t waiting outside the bathroom for you, Mr. Black’s assistant found me just standing there and invited me to go on ahead to Mr. Black’s office. She said she had a clear view of the bathroom and would let you know where I had gone.” He began stroking her hair, trying to comfort her, and let her know that he understood.
Allison was now crying, and Shawn hated to see a woman cry, especially if it was something that he caused. Zach, Shawn’s older brother by two years, would kill him if he knew how upset he had made his wife. He made it perfectly clear that he didn’t want her working when she became pregnant, and as a lawyer, he made plenty of money for the both of them. She had agreed to give up the rest of her clients as long as she could still be Shawn’s agent. She had started with him six years ago, and she was not giving him up, especially now that he was her brother-in-law. Zach agreed as long as Shawn watched over her.
Shawn pulled back and gave Allison his famous smirk, “Hey there, everything’s okay now, right?” He tipped up her chin and wiped off a few tears that were still rolling down her cheeks, then looked deep in her eyes. “You’re the best damn agent there ever was, now get your shit together and let’s do this!” He finally got a smile out of her and they headed towards the big oak doors.
Outside John’s office, standing near Gladys’ desk, John and his assistant were going over the proposal, ensuring that everything was ready. Behind them, Isabella arrogantly sat down on the couch, staring a hole through the doors, in a confused haze. What the hell had just happened here? Two minutes ago, she was in heaven. Just being in the same room as Shawn, made her feel as if she was floating. She recalled when his strong, rough hands brushed with hers, a stream of energy surged up her arm and throughout her entire body. Then in an instant, all her dreams had been shattered into millions of teensy tiny pieces.
Her thoughts were interrupted and once again, Shawn caught her in a vulnerable state. She was staring straight at the door, with a very bewildered look on her face, when he came waltzing out of her father’s office, with his arm coiled around Allison’s waist. Her first reaction was to look down, but a force that seemed like the strongest magnet ever, drew her eyes to his, locking them there, in somewhat of a dreamlike state.
Fortunately, her father noticed him as well, and stole his attention before she was able to make an even bigger fool of herself. “Shawn,” He paused and smiled at Allison, “the board is ready, if you are?” John stuck his hand out, to show him no harm was done.
Shawn contiguously took it, nodding a silent thank you to his new employer. “I’m ready, sir. Let’s get this show on the road.” His spirits were lifted as he realized that John Black was not as bad as he had heard. However, just as quickly as they had risen, they fell flat on their face when he glanced back at Belle. She had risen from her spot on the couch, and was heading towards a very handsome man, dressed in a double breasted, black, Armani suit. He watched as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him lightly on the cheek.
Realizing that he was now standing alone at Gladys’ desk, he looked around to find Allison and John. He found them in deep conversation, walking towards Belle and the man that she seemed so comfortable with. As he started towards them, they all disappeared through a doorway. Slightly embarrassed, he immediately quickened his pace to catch up.
The board meeting went exactly as planned. John being the majority share holder, really only needed his son and daughter’s votes to put his plan in motion, but wanted the entire board to have their say, for or against, the sponsorship of a Professional Woman’s Softball team. It was unanimous. All were in favor, and Shawn was now a Woman’s Fast pitch Softball Coach.
As the meeting adjourned, Isabella got up first, and headed for the doorway. She had been sitting still for over an hour and was extremely bored with all the legal talk that went on. Once out of the conference room, she found herself walking down a small corridor, towards a glass wall, with a door to the right side. It opened out to a narrow balcony that overlooked the small park that her father had designed for his employees that liked to walk during their lunch.
In the center, was a medium sized pond, with a various assortment of fish. Numerous ducks and geese had found their way here and had made it their home as well. She watched as a group of woman fed the remainder of their lunches to a few of the geese, begging for their scraps. “I wondered where you went!” Belle turned to find a gorgeous pair of brown eyes looking directly at her.
Belle wrapped her arms around her herself as a cool Virginia wind blew in, tousling her hair. She gave Shawn a killer smile, “I guess I just needed some fresh air,” she turned back towards the park. “I’m not exactly what you’d call “Office Material”, if you know what I mean?” They both laughed as Shawn joined Belle, leaning against the railing.
“So…” They both started together, then burst out laughing again. Shawn offered to let her speak first. “So…where’s Allison?” Belle turned and looked through the glass door, expecting to see the voluptuous woman coming down the hall. “I’d hate for you to upset her again.” She was attempting at flirting, but it came out with a touch of sarcasm.
Not realizing that she thought Allison was his wife, he looked at her quizzically, while squinting his eyes, “Uhmmm, I don’t think that we’ll have to worry about her doing that again.” Leaning on both forearms and clasping his hands together, he peered back out at the glistening water, “Ya see, she’s two and a half months pregnant, so she’s starting to get pretty bad mood swings and is becoming really insecure…” He looked back up at her with a very sincere look on his face, however it was the puppy dog eyes that got her. “I’m really sorry about before.”
Biting both lips, she looked down, a blush insisting that it appear on her cheeks as an evil thought crossed her mind. “It’s okay…” She looked back up at him, gazing deep into his eyes, “I’m sure that if I was your wife, and two and half months pregnant…” She took a step towards him, running a manicured finger down his chest, “…I’d have been a little upset too!” Abruptly, she turned away, looking back out at the gorgeous scenery.
Raising both eyebrows, a light bulb went of in Shawn’s head. In between chuckles, he managed, “Whoa…you think…” He shook his head, looking back at the ravishing blonde before him, “Isabella, Allison’s not my wife!”
Shawn watched as her eyes grew wide as saucers, and a disgusted look overcame her immaculate features. She lowered her head, looking at him through the layers of hair that had fallen over her eyes. It was as if he could see the numerous thoughts, which passed through her head. “Oh jeez…” She crossed her arms over her chest as a glare demanded for him to further explain, “…it’s not what you think…she’s my agent…” ’her eyes still look shocked’ and is married to my brother!”
Slowly dropping her arms, her expression softened. Her gaze dropped to Shawn’s waist and then onto the cement floor. “Ssso, she’s your agent…” she paused, looking away in embarrassment, “…and your sister-in-law.” Belle felt sort of silly for jumping to conclusions before attempting to get the truth. Glancing up to see Shawn slowly nod, up and down, Belle apologized, “Shawn, I’m sorry…”
Shawn lips erupted a sexy grin while interrupting her, holding his hand up in front of her face, “There’s no reason to apologize, I can see how it probably looked!” Suddenly, an idea came to him. “Isabella, I have a favor I need to ask you,” He searched her eyes for permission to continue.
Butterfly’s swarmed around in her stomach, causing chill bumps to arise on her skin. “Uhhmmm, yeah…anything!?” Her eyes were warm and curious, but inside, it felt as if she was on a roller coaster that hadn’t stopped since she had stepped out of her father’s bathroom.
Shawn raised his right arm up over his head and began playing with a lock of his hair, at the nape of his neck. “…Have dinner with me…tonight.” He peeked out of the corner of his eyes for her reaction. What he saw, made his heart skip a beat, she was looking up at him, through sprigs of hair, biting the left corner of her quivering bottom lip, then the man in the Armani suit intruded into his mind, “…Strictly business. I’d like to get your ideas for the team, practices, ya know, everything that we’re going to be focused on for the rest of the summer,” He turned away, slightly embarrassed.
She reached out to him, wrapping her chilled fingers around his toned, bronzed forearm, speaking a little too quickly, “I’d love to have dinner with you…I mean…”
Both Shawn and Belle turned as the glass door that they had both exited out of swung open. “Hey Tink, I just came out her to tell you bye, I’m headed out to pick Chloe up from work and then we’re getting on a jet to Bora Bora for two weeks of sun, fun and relaxation!” He was very animated, as he was telling her of their plans. Realizing he was never formally introduced to Shawn, he turned his attention towards him, sticking out his hand, “I don’t think we’ve been introduced, Brady Black.”
Shawn smiled and shook his hand. He started to say something, but Brady continued rambling, most likely out of pure excitement. “I’ve watched you play, you’ve very good! I bet you’re missing being out on the field. I hear their 10 and 2 so far!” He glanced back at Belle, “My sister’s watched you since you started playing, she’s gonna love being your star player.”
His sister!? Shawn’s smile grew and he snickered at Brady’s enthusiasm, “Yeah I do miss it, but this is the next best thing. And yeah, they are doing well this year, I hope they continue to keep it up. It’ll make it easier to go back to next year.” He glanced at Belle, “and now that I’ve heard from both your father and your brother that you’re gonna be my star player, I expect…Great things from you!” His eyes twinkled as he emphasized the word “Great”, and even though it got by Brady, Belle picked it up immediately.
“Okay, Brady, thanks for coming to say goodbye,” she reached for him and gave him a big hug. “Tell Chloe hi for me, and tell her to call me when you guys get back!” She pulled open the door, anxious to get rid of him and “helped” him through, “Love you Braid!” She watched as he lingered down the hallway whistling, then looked back over his shoulder for a brief second.
“Love you too, Tink! Stay out of trouble!” He turned on his heel and she watched him disappear around the corner.
As the door closed, she turned back to Shawn. She was met with two dark chocolate eyes staring at her inquisitively, “So he’s your brother, huh?” He looked down with a smirk, then back up into her deep, blue eyes, “I uhmm, I kinda jumped to conclusions too!” She looked at him, her mouth dropping open. They both started laughing together.
Belle couldn’t help but feel so connected to this goddess of a man before her. His laugh, his mannerisms, his big heart, everything about him, it was as if…she’d known him before, in another life maybe… “Maybe this dinner thing is a good idea, it’ll give us a chance to get to know one another.” She smiled at him as she heard her name being paged. “Hopefully we won’t have any “interruptions” tonight!” She rolled her eyes and then reached for the door handle.
“Isabella wait…” Shawn grabbed her by the wrist, and pulled her towards him. She felt her breasts crush against his firm chest as the air created a warm bubble all around them. He gently brushed his lips across hers, then his tongue tracing the outside of her soft rose colored lips, requesting entry into the warm, wet space. His arms wrapped around her, one holding the back of her head the other on the small of her back.
Shocked, but curious, she granted him access to inside of her mouth, which he immediately noticed and deepened the kiss. Their tongues danced as their passion collided; creating sparks that surged throughout both their bodies. They both pulled back simultaneously, wondering if the other felt what had just happened.
Hearing her name called again over the intercom, she stepped back and reached for the door, “Uhmmm…” She tried to catch her breath, “…Pick me up at 7, I’m sure my father will give you directions.” She opened the door and started through it, stopping just as it was about to close, “and dress nice!” She winked at him as she vanished down the hallway.
Shawn took a few more minutes out on the terrace to collect his thoughts, before going back inside. He mulled over how just three weeks ago; things were looking so grim. After two months of physical therapy, his doctor told him that he was not improving enough to play, he was out for the season. Baseball was what he lived for. His love life was non-existent, not saying that he couldn’t have any woman in the world, but none of them interested him. So to sum up, he couldn’t play ball, he had no one special in his life, his parents were all the way across the country in Virginia and then, to top it all off, he was about to lose his agent too. If his brother hadn’t agreed to let her continue to work with him, he’d have probably had a mental break down.
Now, thanks to his parent’s friendship with the Black’s, he’s setup with a multi-billion dollar company, coaching, coaching a girl’s softball team! He’s not getting to play, but he is, at least, still working out on the diamond. He’s making a six-digit salary, which isn’t what he’s used to, but it’ll do. And as an added bonus, his boss has this amazingly beautiful daughter, that from what he has heard, loves baseball, and is an outstanding player herself. She has a great personality and from what he just experienced, was an excellent kisser. There was just something about her, an energy that drew him to her. He couldn’t, he wouldn’t let her get away.
Letting himself back inside, he headed for John’s office. He hoped to get the directions, grab Allison, and head over to his parents for a few hours before he went back to his hotel to get ready for his date with Isabella. Gladys saw him as he was coming down the hall. “Hey Shawn, go on in, Allison’s been waiting for you.” He nodded a quick thank you and after a quiet knock on the huge, thick door, let himself in.
Isabella and Allison were both standing near the doorway, with their purses on their shoulders; “Hey Shawn, Isabella and I were just about to head out to lunch, would you and Allison care to join us?” John leaned down to grab two cigars from the small humidor in his bottom drawer. “I think we’re just going to the café, downstairs, I’ve got a meeting at 2:30 PM.”
Hating to have to decline, he intercepted the space between John and the girls. “Thanks John, but I promised my parents I’d drop by as soon as we were through here. I haven’t seen them in a few weeks and, you know how mom is. Thanks for the invite though.” He glanced back at Allison and Belle, as they started out the door, finishing their very involved conversation. Shawn took this opportunity to ask John for directions. “Uh, John, I’m taking Isabella to dinner tonight, what’s the best way to get to your house from the Marriott on 3rd?”
John stopped in mid stride, raising both eyebrows; “You’re taking my daughter out…tonight?”
Shawn hoped this wasn’t a bad sign. “Yeah, I was thinking she could show me around Salem a little, I’ve only been here twice, to visit my parents and didn’t really get to see the town. If it’s a problem…” he trailed off as he watched John’s expression go from deep thought to, what he thought and hoped…liking the idea.
Furrowing his brow, John thought for a few seconds, “Well, I was hoping to have you join me and some of my colleagues tonight, you know, to show you off to a few prominent people here in Salem, but if you want to take Izzy out, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind!” John slowly started towards the door, “It is a Friday night after all.” John reached in his pocket, pulling out a wad of $100 bills. “Here, have a good time, on me!” He handed Shawn $300 and disappeared out the door, a grin spreading from ear to ear.
Shawn stood staring at empty space for…he didn’t know how long. Suddenly Allison appeared, hand on her hip, and her lips moving a mile a minute. Fortunately, he didn’t hear a word she said. He shook his head, trying to awake himself from a dream, but only the sound of a shrill voice made its way into the room. “…1:57 in the afternoon, and you told your mother that we’d be there 42 minutes ago…”
Shawn slowly turned his head and glanced at her, then at Isabella and her father walking, hand in hand, down the hallway, stopping to wait for the elevator. He looked back at Allison, “Okay, Okay, we’re leaving…” his voice softened, “We’re leaving.” He wasn’t sure what that was all about, but he didn’t care! He had Isabella’s father’s blessing and his money and he was going to take that blonde bombshell out tonight, and show her a night she’d never forget. A smile that couldn’t be wiped off his face grew with every step towards the car.
Shawn took Allison home first, and then dropped by his parents. He spent a couple hours catching up with his mom and dad and then excused himself, to prepare for his date. Hope, hearing about his big rendezvous with Belle, was all about letting him leave, she knew he’d be around for a little while and there was plenty of time to catch up. Moreover, if they became serious, she’d get to see Shawn a lot more then just holidays.
She tried to think back to the last girl Shawn had been serious with, and she realized it was Jan, and that was in high school. For some reason he felt he needed to be there for her, to take care of her, but his mother knew that he never truly loved her. Protection was just in the Brady blood. Fortunately, when Shawn was scouted to play with the Mariners, Jan had moved on with someone else.
Arriving back at the motel at a quarter after six, Shawn flew down the hall to his room, tossed a few packages on the dresser, kicked off his shoes, and turned on the TV. He stepped into the bathroom to turn on the shower, and came back out to check the Mariner’s score. “Awww come on Jason!! It was right to you!” Jason was the Mariner’s second baseman, and he had just missed a line drive straight up the middle. “Fuck an Aaa, I want to be out there!” Shawn mumbled to himself.
Seeing the clock on the VCR, Shawn realized he didn’t have time to cuss and spit at the TV. He started peeling off his clothes, throwing them in the pile he started last night, in the corner of the room. He took a quick shower, shaved, and dressed in under 20 minutes. He checked the clock, 6:37 PM, and reluctantly turned off the television. He grabbed his keys and the stuff off the dresser and headed to pick up Isabella.
Arriving at the Black’s driveway, he turned in and stopped at the small black box, embedded in the stone entryway. He pressed the “Call” button, hoping to get someone to open the thick, iron gate. “Yes?” He heard a voice that he didn’t recognize.
“Uhmm yes, I’m here to pick up Isabella Black.” Shawn wasn’t sure if he’d have to give his name or not, so he waited until he was asked.
“And who may I tell her is here?” The voice asked.
“Shawn Brady, I was to meet her here at 7, I guess I’m a little early.” He looked at the clock, seeing that it was only 6:55 PM. He waited a few seconds, and the gate’s opened. He cautiously continued down the long driveway until he saw the mansion just over a small hill.
He parked his Yukon in the circular driveway and reached for the corsage he picked up from the florist his mother recommended earlier today. He climbed the steps and knocked on the front door, fully expecting a butler or some other servant to invite him in. However, as it swung open, there stood John, holding a goblet of what he assumed to be Sherry, in one hand and a cigar in the other. “Hey Shawn, Isabella’s almost ready, come watch the rest of the Mariner’s game with me.”
He didn’t have to ask Shawn twice, “I’d love too, Mr…”
“Call me John! If you’re going to be working for me, and…” he winked at him, “dating my daughter, I expect that you won’t have a problem using my first name.” John didn’t really want Shawn to know how excited he was that Shawn was interested in his daughter, but a little nudge in the right direction wouldn’t hurt. He quickly turned to go back to the entertainment hall, letting Shawn shut the front door.
Shawn was taken aback at first, but then realized that John really liked and respected him. “Okay…John,” Not being able to pass up an opportunity to watch the Mariners play, he followed John down a long hallway to a room where a 72” flat screen Plasma TV hung on the back wall. “Wow, John, this is really cool. It’s almost like being at the game!” John had already sat down in one of the black leather recliners, and just smiled and nodded. Shawn decided to join him until Belle was ready.
Upstairs, Belle was getting impatient. Nothing seemed to look right, and she’d gone through every dress in her closet. She stomped out of her room, across the hall to her alternate closet that held some of the designer gowns that were put together for her photo shoots. After sifting through the majority of the dresses, she found it. It was perfect!
She finished putting on the finishing touches of her makeup and took one last look at her hair, she was finally ready. She glanced at the clock; 7:12 ’Always keep a boy waiting…’ She softly laughed out loud, grabbed her purse and headed downstairs. As she reached the bottom floor, she heard her father and Shawn, screaming at the top of their lungs, apparently at a baseball game.
Standing at the back of the room, she laughed whole-heartedly at the site before her. Her father and Shawn, both smoking cigars, were standing and pointing at the TV, screaming at the umps for a bad call. They both turned at the sound of Isabella’s soft laugh. Both men’s mouths hung open at the site of her. She was dressed in a short, black flowy dress that stopped mid thigh, exposing her long, tanned legs. Spaghetti straps came over her shoulders, criss crossing, leaving most of her back bare. She completed the assemble with 3” black ,strappy sandals and a small sequined purse. “How do I look?” She gave them a catty smile.
John spoke first, noticing Shawn was speechless, “Isabella, you look stunning!” He walked over to his daughter, kissing her lightly on the cheek. “I haven’t seen that dress before, is it new?” John was trying to give Shawn a moment to catch his breath.
She looked down briefly, at the black material that covered her body, “No, it was something they had me wear at a shoot. I guess I wore it home!” She had worn numerous outfits home, this just happened to one of her favorites. She directed her attention to Shawn, who was still staring at her as if they were the only two in the room. He was dressed in black linen pants, and a pale yellow, Tommy Bahama, short sleeved, button up shirt. He had on black Doc Martin sandals and looked devastatingly handsome with the cigar, clutched in his right hand. “Shawn…are you ready to go? We have reservations at 8:00 PM.”
Shawn felt a smile growing as well as another organ. He quickly turned to look for somewhere to put out the cigar, as a distraction, when John told him to take it with him. He always smoked in his cars, and tonight he had already arranged for the limo to be available for them, in case they wanted to celebrate. Shawn held out his arm, for Isabella to take, “I’m ready if you are! Oh…and this is for you!” He picked up the small plastic box of the end table, and pulled out her corsage. “The blue matches your eyes!”
Stunned, Belle smiled at Shawn’s thoughtfulness. “I’ve never seen a blue rose before! Look daddy!” She let Shawn slid the beautiful arrangement on her wrist and then held it out for her father’s approval. He nodded in agreement, a smile on his face that couldn’t be washed off with the coarsest soap.
John watched from the front porch as his baby girl walked to the car with Seattle’s own, Shawn Brady. His eyes gleamed as he watched Shawn, holding her hand, steadying her, as she climbed in the long black car. He was so patient with his princess, as every man should be with a woman. He thought back to when Marlana was alive, and how much she worried over her daughter, “Doc, you’d be so proud...” He voice was barely above a whisper, as one happy tear seeped out his right eye. He quickly wiped it away as he waved to the car that disappeared over the small hill.
Isabella looked out the dark tinted windows, as the car exited the Black’s property, not noticing the unsubtle stares of the handsome man next to her. She felt his hand envelop hers, drawing her attention to him. Their eyes met and, again, were not able to disconnect. “I want to apologize for earlier, at the office, I…I just…” The smile on Belle’s face, and the slow shaking of her head, caused him to stop talking.
She slowly pulled her hand out from under his, and gingerly put one finger up to Shawn’s lips. “Shhhh, I wanted it just as much as you did,” She grabbed his chin and pulled it towards her, feeling the smooth, clean shaven skin. She tilted her head to the side and closed her eyes, patiently waiting for Shawn to make his move.
He didn’t disappoint her. Taking her lead, he brought his lips slowly down to hers, meeting the rose colored, stained petals with his own. They felt sparks as their souls connected, bringing their hearts closer together. Shawn brushed one hand, lightly up her arm, and over her collarbone, his fingers toying with the dark, black strap that contrasted with her soft, creamy skin. He was tempted to slide it over her shoulder, but was brought back to reality when he felt her hand creeping up his leg. ’Too soon Brady, better slow it down’ He gradually pulled back, looking for her bright, shiny pools of blue, hoping to read what her intentions truly were.
Her eyes were still closed as he pulled away. She wondered what was wrong, ’Does he not feel it? Were soulmates, I know he’s the one, the only one, It only took one look…’. She opened her eyes to see the warmest, yet lecherous pair of chocolate eyes, peering back at her. “Shawn, is something…are you…’argghhh’, what’s wrong…Why did you stop?” She was extremely confused and very frustrated; she’d never had a guy just, stop, before.
Shawn was torn, he was just trying to respect her, “Isabella, I don’t want to rush things with you. I don’t know if you feel it or not, but I sense this…I don’t know, connection…with you.” He shook his head, while lowering his eyes, a huge grin growing on his gorgeous face, “…My parents always talked about it, and I never believed it...” He looked back up at her, “Isabella,” he took both hands, “I don’t know where this relationship will go, but if I’m right, and I usually am, we’re meant to be together!” He hoped he hadn’t scared her off with that last statement.
Belle knew that this sort of advancement should alarm her, but it didn’t. She’d only known this man for less then 12 hours, but she had felt the connection too; in fact she knew the instant their eyes met in her father’s office earlier that day. As soon as they shook hands for the first time, she felt a sense of dejavue, as if she’d known this man all her life and was remarkably at ease with him. He was courteous to her, well mannered to her father, respectful to others around him, and on top of all that, was the sexiest, most gorgeous, man she’d ever met. Her eyes glowed with joy, “I feel it too, Shawn, I felt it the instant I stepped out of my father’s washroom, and saw you standing there…” Her voice trailed off as his mouth came crashing down on hers, creating an orgasmic collision inside her soul.
Excited, yet stunned, pleased, yet unsure, Shawn gave her all he had, licking and nibbling, teasing and molesting, their tongues danced throughout the passionate saucy, wet kisses. It could have gone on forever, had the driver not knocked on the privacy window and bellowed into the speaker of their arrival, totally unaware of the intricate intimacy going in the back of the car. As they parted from each other, they both felt a void where the other had been, as well as the firm confirmation that they had found the other half of their existence.
The driver had stopped the car, and walked around to open their door for them to exit. Still in somewhat of a stunned state, Shawn regained his composure, and stepped out of the car, smiling at the driver. He leaned back in, reaching for Isabella’s hand. She took it graciously, stepping out into the cool night air, not losing site of her new…friend.
Still clutching Belle’s hand in his, Shawn looked down at his watch and then turned to the driver, “We’ll be about an hour and half, two hours.” He watched as the man dressed in the chauffeur’s uniform, nodded and dutifully climbed back in the car, and drove away. He turned back to Belle and they walked hand in hand, towards the elegant building, a sign hanging just over the door, reading, Terri’s Pasta Kitchen.
Upon entering, they noticed the dining room was lit solely by candlelight. Following behind two other couples, they finally reached the hostesses stand. “Good evening, do you have a reservation?” She glanced from Shawn to Belle, then back to Shawn.
Belle softly cleared her throat, “Yes, ma’am, we do. It was for Black at 8:00 PM. I believe we are right on time.” She glanced down at her watch seeing that it had just changed to 8:01.
The cute little lady looked down at her books, and grabbed two menus, “Right this way,” She smiled as she led them to a quiet little table, in the back of the restaurant. She set the menus down on top of their plates and turned the wineglasses right side up, “Your server will be with you in a few moments.” With one last smile, she disappeared back up front.
Shawn pulled Belle’s chair out for her, allowing her to sit down, then sat down in his chair directly across from her. Almost immediately, their server was at their table with ice water and fresh garlic rolls. “Can I get you anything else to drink? We have a variety of excellent wines to choose from. I especially recommend our house Merlot.” She was holding a bottle in her hand, displaying the before mentioned wine.
After deciding on a wine, and then dinner, Belle and Shawn engulfed themselves in conversation after conversation, discussing family, friends, likes, dislikes, sports, and life in general. They talked as if old friends, learning about each other all over again. They even breached into the new subject of the women’s softball league and when they were going to hold try outs. Deciding to discuss that Monday at the office, they finished off their dessert and the last of their second bottle of wine.
Shawn checked the bill, left enough cash to cover it as well as a hefty tip, then stood and led Isabella to the front of the restaurant, where they praised the head chef for the wonderful dinner and the amazing atmosphere. Promising to return again, Belle took Shawn’s arm, and followed him outside, onto their awaiting limo.
Once settled in the car and on their way to The Blue Note, Shawn took this opportunity to give Belle the other package that he had brought with him. “I got you a little something I saw in a store window, when picking up your corsage,” Belle couldn’t believe it, she watched Shawn pop open the console and pull out a small velvet red box. “I hope it’s not too soon to be spoiling you!” His wink caused her to blush slightly.
Belle cautiously reached for the unexpected gift that Shawn held out to her. Her mouth dry, and her eyes threatening to spill out at any moment. She pulled open the lid, to find a thin, white gold necklace, with a small bell trinket dangling in the center. She glanced back up at him, “Shawn…this is the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me!” her voice was barely audible. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him softly on the lips, “Will you put it on for me?” She turned away from him to give him better access to her neck.
Shawn was more then happy to assist. Once clasped, she turned back around to face him, “How does it look?” He didn’t know what to say. It was just what her ensemble needed. The bell hung right above her cleavage, teasing any male’s eyes that were graced with her presence. God she was beautiful, if he played his cards right, she’d be all his in no time. His eyes met hers in a sexual dance; he struggled to remain composed at the elegance of the woman before him.
“Isabella you look beautiful!”
Belle reached over and smacked the alarm clock, trying to make the intermittent ringing stop. Still dazed, she rolled over, opening one eye to read 4:37 AM on the noisy clock radio. Realizing that the sound wasn’t stopping, it dawned on her that it was actually her private line ringing. Knowing only a few people knew the number, she picked up the receiver, and mumbled into the speaker, “…mmmmm…Someone better be dead…” She closed her eyes while waiting for someone to speak on the other end.
“BELLE!!” Belle’s eyes shot open, and she lurched herself up into a sitting position. She hadn’t heard this voice in over 6 months. “Are you awake? Well, if you’re not, WAKE UP and come pick me up from the airport, my plane lands in 10 minutes!” Her best friend, since grade school had moved away right after their high school graduation, to…”See the world” and she hadn’t been back since. Her only contact with her was over the phone and through email.
“Oh…My…God…Nicole? …You’re in Salem? You’re at the…Salem, Virginia airport? You do know that it’s 4:40 in the morning right? I can’t believe you are finally home! Are you okay? Why didn’t you call me and let me know you’d be…” Her friend had been laughing as soon as the first question came out of Belle’s mouth, but after the fifth question she quickly interrupted her.
“I did call last night, but John said you were out. I left a message with him and he said he’d leave you a note, but someone must have been too twitterpated to notice it!” She giggled, “Look…I’ll answer all your questions as soon as you COME PICK ME UP!” Belle was already up and had thrown on a pair of jeans and a V-neck T-shirt. She was stumbling around in the dark, trying to find her sandals, when someone knocked on her door.
“Come in!” She told Nicole she’d be there as soon as she could and threw the phone on the bed. She was picking up some of her clothes, still searching for her shoes, when her bedroom door cracked open and her father stuck his head in. “Hey dad!” He flipped on the light switch, smirking as she squinted from the bright overhead light.
“Hey kitten, I just wanted to make sure you saw the note, and were up. Nicole called last night and needs you to pick her up at the airport, her plane lands at 4:50.” He pushed the door open a little further and leaned against the doorframe, watching as clothes were being thrown up in the air landing in different piles behind her. “Have you tried…looking in your closet?”
Belle stopped what she was doing, glanced at her father, giving him a slant eyed glare with a sarcastic, crooked smirk, then quickly walked over to her closet, to find her sandals, just where they were supposed to be. “…Thanks…dad.” He smiled at her and then started to retreat back the way he came. “Hey dad…”
John turned back to his daughter, knowing full well what she was about to ask, “Yeah?”
She hesitated, “Uhmmm…it’s cool to bring Nicole back here, right?” She thought back to the middle of her sophomore year at Salem high. Nicole had run away from home for the umpteenth time causing John to finally put his foot down. Luckily, he caught Mrs. Walker at a sober moment, and basically told her that he was going to care for Nicole until she was 18 and graduated from high school. With no help from Nicole’s father, Mrs. Walker didn’t object and agreed to the demands that John had made. He had raised her as his own, and loved her as a daughter, and was heartbroken when she had just up and left town. Belle was pretty sure that he would welcome her back into his home, but out of respect for him, she decided to ask first.
John stepped back into his daughter’s room, and crossed his arms over his chest, “Izzy, you know that Nicole is always welcome here.” He had that gleam in his eye that he was up to something, “In fact, after she called, I had Gretchen prepare her old room for her, hoping she was home for good.” He hadn’t had the words out of his mouth for more then a millisecond when Belle lurched herself into his arms.
“Oh daddy, you’re the best!” She kissed him on the cheek and glanced at the clock, realizing that Nicole’s plane was probably landing right now. Her eyes grew wide, “Shit, daddy, I’ve gotta go…Nicole’s gonna kill me if I’m not there waiting for her when she gets off the plane!” She pulled back, looking around for her purse.
Finding it on the floor next to the bed, she grabbed it and darted out into the hallway, passing John as he was heading back to bed. “Bye daddy, I’ll be back in a little bit!” She glanced over her shoulder, smiling at her father as she started down the stairs. She heard him mumble something about being careful and then heard his door click. Reaching the garage, she wondered which car to take, not knowing what Nicole had with her; she opted for the Expedition, just in case she had a lot of luggage.
The airport was about 10 minutes past Basic Black; she made it in 13 minutes. Just as she pulled up in front of the Delta pickup, Nicole stepped through the automatic doors, carrying only her purse. Belle pulled over to the curb, slammed on the brakes, hopped out of the car, leaving the door wide open and ran around to meet her friend. Different volumes of squeals and giggles came from the two girls, as they reunited after years apart.
Isabella leaned back, leaving her arms on Nicole’s wrists. “I’m sooo glad to see you! God, I’ve missed you!” She looked all around, and behind her, for Nicole’s luggage, “Is this all you brought with you?” She pointed at her purse, with a surprised expression on her face.
Nicole rolled her eyes, “Silly girl, you know me better then that!” She turned around, snapping her fingers a few times rather quickly, then cupped her hands around her mouth, “Over here!” Belle leaned around Nicole to see two young men, dressed in Delta uniforms, struggling to pull a cart a piece, speed walking towards them. Between the two, Belle counted 3 overstuffed, large suitcases, 2 medium sized and 2 small. There was also a large trunk and 2 hanging garment bags.
She straightened back up, giving Nicole a Cheshire grin, with her head cocked to one side, “That’s a little more like it!” Both girls busted out with laughter as Belle went around to the back of the SUV, opening it up for the kind men to load all of Nicole’s things.
After a few minutes of being finished, one of the two young men cleared his throat, distracting the two blondes that were in deep conversation, sitting on the curb, “Ahem…Okay Miss Walker, it’s all loaded up. Is there anything else that we can do for you?"” Nicole stood and ensured that everything was packed to her satisfactory and then turned to face them.
She winked at Belle, then reached in her purse, “I’d love a cup of coffee…black…if it’s not a problem.” She looked at Belle, “Isabella? You care for a cup?” Seeing Belle nod excitedly, she handed the young man a twenty, “Whatever’s left over, you two can split!” She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. “Thanks boys!”
The second boy pulled the first one away, still holding his cheek where Nicole had kissed it. “Thanks Miss Walker, we’ll be right back!” As they disappeared back into the terminal, Isabella gasped and then let all her laughter out in one breath.
“Holy shit, Nicole, that was sooo funny! They’re all of what 17…18? Did you see how he reacted when you kissed him on the cheek?” Nicole pulled Belle up from her seated position on the curb and just shrugged. “Some things never change huh Nikki?”
Nicole giggled at Belle’s use of her high school nickname. “Boys are made to be used, especially when you have this much luggage at 5 o’clock in the morning, and need a cup of coffee!” They both stepped up and into the vehicle and buckled their seatbelts. Wondering what was taking the boys so long, Nicole glanced in through the glass outer walls, and saw one of the boys, stepping away from the Starbucks counter, with two cups of coffee in his hands. “…Finally! You’d think he had to fly to New York City!”
The young man gave Nicole both cups and thanked her for her generosity. He turned to head back inside after she nodded and smiled. Belle rolled her eyes at her friend, and put the truck in gear, and headed for home. “So, what’s this I hear about you going out with a star Baseball player?” Nicole asked casually, sipping her coffee quietly.
Belle glanced at Nicole out the corner of her eye, and then down at her new necklace, dangling just above her breasts. “I’ll tell you just as soon as you tell me what brought you back to town!” She said it jokingly at first, but then noticed Nicole’s warm, smiling face, turn tense and anxiety-ridden. “Nicole…what is it?”
Belle wasn’t sure if having her friend turn away from her or the Blue lights flashing in a disco fashion behind her was worse. She slowly pulled over to the side of the road, looking back and forth between the rear view mirror and over at Nicole, “…Well it looks like I just bought you a few more minutes… “ Belle rolled her eyes as she reached for her purse in between their seats. “God…I detest cops!”
Nicole gave Belle a sympathetic look, just as the officer approached the driver side door. Belle pressed the windows automatic down button and went back to searching for her Driver’s License, in her deep backpack purse. “….Isabella?” Belle jerked her head up at the sound of Abe Carver’s voice. “Honey, what are you doing out on the road at 5 in the morning?” Isabella smiled a sheepish smile, then glanced at her friend in the passenger seat. “Nicole!! I haven’t seen you in what…five years? It’s so good to see you!” Belle watched as Abe’s smile grew.
Nicole just nodded and grinned back at Abe, not wanting to really explain herself. Belle noticing that, quickly answered his before asked question, distracting him from her friend, “Well uhhmm, I received a phone call about 4:40 this morning, from Nicole, asking me to pick her up from the airport…we’re just on our way home now.” She gave Abe her best smile, hoping with him being such good friends with her father; he’d just let her go. She wondered why she was even pulled over to begin with. “Was I speeding? Or swerving? Or something?”
Abe looked down at the ground and slowly raised his gaze back up into Belle’s innocent blue eyes. “Well, the reason I pulled you over was because you crossed the middle line three times. Then, after seeing the BSCBLAK3 plates, I knew who the vehicle belonged to and knew that if I didn’t pull you over and make sure everything was okay, someone else would and I’m sure they wouldn’t be quite as lenient.” He gave her a wink, then a broad smile. “Now, you two haven’t been drinking, have you?”
Both girls broke out in a fit of giggles, and then Belle finally responded, “No, Abe…just coffee!” She lifted up her cup, to show him. After a little more small talk, Abe finally let them go, telling them to be very careful and to stay between the lines. Belle eagerly agreed and thanked him profusely.
About two miles down the road, Belle asked Nicole one more time why she rushed back to Salem so suddenly. “Alright Nicole, you got a little extra time, now spill it…” Her stare ahead turning very serious, hoping that her friend hadn’t gotten herself into a bunch of trouble.
While ringing her hands, praying Belle wouldn’t be upset at her, Nicole began to explain. “Well, while I was in Atlanta, I started dating this guy Andy. And to make a long story short, I got caught up in drugs, lost my apartment, lost my job, and had no where to go. I had to put all my stuff in storage, and move in with Andy and four of his buddies. Three days ago, I had finally had enough. While Andy was still asleep, I started packing the clothes that I had there and loaded them all up in my car. I finally made my way to a woman’s shelter, where I tried to figure out what to do. Last night I called…your dad.” Belle was so overcome with concern, that she completely overlooked the fact that her father hadn’t told her about this.
“I explained everything to him and he told me to ’Get my butt back here before he has to drag it back here himself’,” Belle gave her a half smile, hearing her father say that in her head, “He said that I’d have a one way plane ticket with my name on it waiting for me at the Delta counter within 30 minutes, and if I choose to take it, he’d give me a place to stay, would get my furniture and things in storage transported here…and…he’d get me “cleaned up”. Nicole used her fingers to make quoting marks in the air. “He also gave me conditions, he said that I had to continue to stay clean, and that I had to play ball again.” She looked at Belle for an explanation, “Do you know what he’s talking about?”
Isabella made the last turn to their house and then looked at her friend, more then happy to tell her all about the offer that her dad has presented to her, just days ago. “Dad has decided to sponsor a woman’s professional fast pitch softball team. He wants me, well us, to…play.” Belle shrugged her shoulders; “I guess it’s good publicity for Basic Black!” She reached for the button in the middle of the sun visors, which opened the black iron gate, that protected the Black’s property. “He even hired a guy from the MLB to coach us.” Isabella tried to keep her voice neutral, when referring to Shawn. However the smirk that formed on her lips couldn’t be helped.
Thankfully, the “coach” comment passed straight over Nicole’s head. Her eyes opened wide, “Are you serious?” Her smile grew, reaching up to each ear, wheels churning inside her beautiful head. She bit her bottom lip, “We’ve got to call Sami!”
Isabella’s hidden expression turned jubilant, she had completely forgotten about her half sister playing ball. Once her mother died, the only time she saw Sami was at softball games and practices. With Sami being a few years older, and two grades ahead of her, they were never in the same part of the school at the same time. However, once classes were out and softball practice started, she, Nicole and Sami were inseparable. Unfortunately, immediately after her graduation, Sami married her high school sweetheart, Lucas, and moved to California. Neither of them had seen her since. She wondered if her dad would know how to track her down.
“Holy shit, I completely forgot about Sami playing ball with us those few years. I bet my dad can find out from Roman, where she is living and get us a phone number!” Isabella parked the Expedition in front of the house, making it a little easier to get Nicole’s things out and inside. She grabbed her purse and coffee and climbed out the SUV, slamming the door shut. “Man it’ll be just like it was in high school, I can’t wait…” She stopped in mid stride, “…hold on a sec, what is he doing here?” She slowly continued around the vehicle, trying to figure out why Shawn would be here so early after just leaving her three or so hours ago.
Nicole noticed her hesitation, “What is who doing here?” She looked around spotting the Navy Blue Yukon parked in the half circle, and pointed at it, “Whose is that? I thought your dad only bought black vehicles?” Then finally it dawned on her. “Isabella…” Nicole’s tone was threatening, as she watched the blush creep over her best friend’s cheeks. “…whose Yukon is that? It wouldn’t happen to be the nice baseball…wait a minute…you’re dating the coach?” Nicole raised both eyebrows as she watched Belle try to squirm her way out of the interrogation she was giving her.
“…It just sort of happened, you know, sometimes you just…know.” She had hoped her friend had forgotten about the amazing date she had had last night. She wasn’t quite ready to share, with anyone, the immediate closeness she had found with Shawn, but knowing Nicole would never stop, went ahead, “Nicole, he’s the most polite, genuine, amazing, sweet…”
“But is he hot?” Nicole’s serious interruption jerked Belle from her vivid thoughts of the man she had so recently been out with, only hours before. The hot passionate kisses the two of them had shared, the meaningful looks the man had given her. “If he’s not hot then, I’m sorry, but he’s not good enough for you.” Nicole had a teasing smirk on her face, while shaking her head. She loved getting a rise out of her comrade.
“NICOLE…,” Belle swatted her on the arm. “He is hot! He has the warmest, yet the most stunning chocolate brown eyes I’ve ever seen. His arms are beyond cut and…my god…he has the sexiest ass ever known to man!” Nicole was biting her lower lip, listening to Belle describe their new coach, knowing she’d have a hard time keeping her eyes off him. “…And his voice. I cannot tell you enough, how smooth it is. It almost has an Irish twinge to it. My knees want to buckle just hearing him say my name!”
Nicole grinned at her friend, “Well if he’s everything you say he is, you better not get mad when you catch me staring and drooling at him!” The two girls broke out into a fit of giggles, as they wrapped their arms around each other and headed inside.
Just as they opened the front door, Nicole abruptly stopped, causing Belle to run smack into her back. Slowly coming down the stairs, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, was a man, dressed in only a pair of boxers, carrying a T-Shirt. His skin was perfectly bronzed and he had muscles in places she didn’t know existed. Her eyes locked on his and she heard Belle’s description replay in the back of her mind, … the warmest, yet the most stunning chocolate brown eyes…, ‘she wasn’t far off’. “Geez, Nicole, you could go…”
Moving around her, Belle saw exactly what caused Nicole to suddenly stop, and stared, just as Nicole was. She hadn’t seen him “dressed” quite like this before. She watched as his face grew into a smile upon seeing her, and he pulled the shirt over his head. Her mouth dropped open, and she turned her head tersely when she heard her friend call him by name, “Shawn…Brady?”
“…You’re The Shawn Brady…from the Seattle Mariners!!” Nicole had a sassy expression on her face, as she turned to face Belle’s curious glare. “You didn’t tell me that you’re dad hired you’re childhood….” Belle smacked Nicole on the arm, shutting her up, before she could embarrass her anymore, neither girl noticing the slight smirk that rested on Shawn’s handsome face.
She smiled sweetly up at Shawn, just as he reached the ground floor. “Good morning Shawn,” She gazed at him with curious eyes, “I didn’t expect to see you…here…so early this morning…” She felt Nicole elbow her, as she was speaking to him. She jerked her head toward Nicole to see her raising both eyebrows and slightly shaking her head, waiting impatiently for an introduction.
To pacify her friend, she abided by her wishes, “Shawn, this is my very best friend Nicole. Nicole, this is Shawn, our new softball coach. Nicole will be playing 2nd base for Dad’s team.” Shawn stuck his hand out to shake Nicole’s. “She and I played softball together in high school, we went to the state championship our senior year!” She had a proud grin on her face that matched Nicole’s.
“Nicole, it’s great to meet you! If you are a good as what I understand Belle to be, we have the start of a star infield!” Shawn’s eyes danced back and forth between the two blondes then returned his sleepy brown pools back to Belle’s and took her hands in his, “…To answer your questioning looks as to why I am here; after I saw you up the stairs last night, I headed back out to my truck and was just climbing in, when your dad drove up beside me. He asked if I wanted to stay in one of the guestrooms tonight, since it was so late. Plus he said that one of your friends,” He glanced at Nicole and smiled, “would be here early this morning and that you two might need some help with luggage.” He gave her a genuine smile and reached for the doorknob.
Nicole smirked and then headed towards the SUV, giving the two a few moments alone. Shawn grabbed Belle’s hand just as she stepped out the door, following out behind her friend. “I’m really glad your dad suggested I stay here, I was hoping we’d get to have breakfast together.” He reached for her face, wrapping both hands gingerly along her jaw line, his thumbs brushing against her soft, bare lips. He pulled her to him, bringing his lips down to meet hers. Their bodies jolted as electricity surged throughout both their beings once again. “Good Morning baby…” He whispered, as pulled back and gazed into her darkened blue orbs.
Belle’s heart rate had increased so much that it felt that it was about to leap out her throat, she blushed as she leaned her forehead against his, licking her lips, “Good morning Shawn.” She delicately kissed him on the nose and started out the door, pulling him along with her, “Come on, we’ve got plenty of time for that, Nicole needs our help.” She winked at him over her shoulder as they ran down the steps to meet her friend.
Between the three of them, they had all of Nicole’s stuff unloaded and upstairs to her room within three trips. Of course Shawn carried most of it, but the girls did manage to get the trunk up on their own. During Shawn’s last trip, Belle pulled the Expedition around and parked it in the garage, then joined her friends in the kitchen to plan out the rest of their day.
Shawn sat on the cushioned stool, at the bar, his head going back and forth like he was watching a tennis match. Belle and Nicole were striving to make plans for their first day back together, and neither of them could come up with something they both agreed upon. He looked over Belle’s shoulder to read the microwave clock, 6:15 AM, then back at the two over exerted girls. Not wanting to interrupt them, he stood up and reached for a white napkin, attempting at calling a truce, hoping they’d be quiet.
Both girls abruptly stopped talking, and stared at the ballsy man before them. Not sure what he was thinking, interrupting two females that haven’t had much sleep, he slowly began speaking. “I have an idea…” He looked into Belle’s eyes to ensure that he wasn’t going to get walloped, “It’s 6:15, now 16 in the morning, and neither of you have had much sleep. Why don’t we all go back to bed, and then around noon, we can get up and I’ll call my parents to see if we can use their boat? They always talk about how beautiful Smith Island is during the summer, I’d really like to check it out.”
Both girls stared at Shawn, then glanced at each other and shrugged. Shawn blew out the breath that he had been holding and smiled back at both of them. Nicole stifled a yawn, just as Belle covered her mouth to hide hers. They both nodded and started upstairs, Belle lagging just a little, waiting for Shawn.
They stopped at Belle’s bedroom doorway, and stared into each other’s eyes, Shawn not quite sure how to read them yet. They heard Nicole’s door click shut and a mischievous grin overtook Belle’s face. She grabbed Shawn’s arms and pulled him into her room, closing the door behind her and locking it. “I’ll be right back…don’t leave okay?” She grabbed a pair of shorts and stepped in the bathroom, to change out of her jeans.
Shawn nodded, and watched as the blonde goddess disappeared into her private bathroom. He looked around her room and noticed all the piles of clothes that encompassed her entire floor. Then as he looked a little bit closer, he noticed how everything else around the room seemed to be in its place. ’Women and their clothes…’. A partial grin was growing on his face, when his thoughts were broken. The door opened back up and Belle emerged, wearing a tiny pair of cheer shorts and a baby T, exposing her bare midriff.
She caught his gaze, as she crossed the room to her bed. “Sorry about all the clothes, I’m usually a really neat person.” She started to laugh a little as she climbed up the steps to her four poster bed. “…well? Are you going to join me?” She was hoping to catch him off guard a little, and it appeared that she was succeeding.
Shawn looked around and then cocked his head to the side, “Are you sure your dad won’t be upset? I mean, I know we’re both adults, but it is his house.” He started towards her and up the three stair climb to the top of Belle’s bed as he watched her nod convincingly, while luring him in with one finger. Placing one knee up first, he crawled towards the middle of the king size mattress, where Belle lay, curled up under the blankets.
Belle’s eyes were already closed when Shawn finally slid down between the sheets. He had taken the time to pull his shirt off, before getting comfortable in the bed beside his new found love. Tucking a pillow between his legs, and another squeezed between his arm and under his head, he gazed over at the beautiful vixen lying next to him.
Her soft, silken hair lay perfectly around her shoulders, and her smooth creamy skin was just tempting him to taste it. He glanced down at her porcelain face, checking to see if her eyes were still closed and cautiously reached out, to touch her. He jerked his hand back as she took a deep breath, and then heard her quiet voice, “I promise I won’t bite…unless you want me to.” Her eyes slowly fluttered open to see his stunned expression turn dark as she reached for his hand, sticking one finger in her mouth.
She sucked on his long organ of touch, swirling her tongue all around it, giving him a little taste of what she could, and would do at some time in their near future. She slowly released it, pulling it out hesitantly, letting her lips close at its exit. She dropped her eyes to his hard, smooth, muscle covered tanned chest and let her manicured fingernails run across it.
Shawn couldn’t take it anymore, he reached for Belle’s body and pulled her on top of him. One of her legs slipped in between his and her torso rested on top of him. Their lips met in a cataclysmic collision, creating an invisible bubble around the two. No one in this world could have disturbed them right now. The passion and lust between them was more then any human being could comprehend.
Belle pulled back and rolled off to one side of Shawn’s firm body. She rested her head in the crook of his neck, kissing his shoulder as she let her body calm down. Shawn leaned over and let his lips rest on her forehead for a few seconds and then again, while brushing his fingertips down her arm, creating goose bumps to arise on her skin.
Belle was starting to fall asleep, comforted in the arms of Shawn. “…Isabella, I know I told you something similar to this last night, but I want you to know that I really like you a lot and I believe in my heart that you’re the only one for me.” He heard her sigh and mumble an ’uh huh’, “But, I…there’s something I have to know…” He looked down at her, searching for her baby blue orbs. “Was I really your childhood hero?” A small smirk was growing into a larger one.
Belle sat straight up, her face red as a beet. Her mouth was hanging open, and she wondered how she was going to face him now. He pulled her back down and cradled her in his arms, turning her chin to face him. “Hey,” He giggled at her, “Hey…it’s okay. I’m really flattered, and even more impressed that you have now stolen my heart!” Her frown turned into a smile as they fell asleep wrapped in each other’s arms.