Chapter 16: NC-17
Belle was completely powerless to the spell Shawn had her under. His mouth moved hungrily against hers for passion filled kisses, swallowing her moans as he moved slowly yet strongly. Driving into her to the hilt every time with each thrust. Their lips parted as she called out his name in a voice so erotic she could feel Shawn harden even more something she would have never thought possible. With his head now buried in her neck, he grunted as she moved in sync with him, turning him on in a way previously foreign to him. As she called his name again in a sensuously laced moan, he took her hand in his and gripped it as they continued to journey together. With his lips now nipping at the soft flesh of her earlobe he whispered in her ear, asking her what she wanted and trying his damnedest to fulfill those needs.
His hands moved feverishly against her body with the gentlest caresses, heightening the already soaring sensations coursing through her. The feel of his strong body pressed against hers, moving and grinding was enough to send her on an earth shattering ride. And so Belle trusted in him and the sojourn she was taking, letting Shawn lead her to the ends of the earth and back as they expressed their love in a way that could only be deemed perfection.
Extremely attentive to her needs, Shawn could sense as she grew close to reaching the pinnacle of ecstasy with him. He loved her and would do anything for her. Loving her was his heart's joy and there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for her. Every time they made love he felt he knew what heaven was like. He soared to heights he had never been to before, and so now, as he felt her shattering beneath him, he held her tighter. His solid frame engulfed her, moving closer to her as if nothing could separate them. It wasn't long until his world spun out of orbit, and he clung to her as if he needed nothing else in this world he didn't, Belle's love was all he wanted.
As their breathing evened out and their hearts began to resume their normal pace, Shawn rolled over onto his back, keeping a tight hold on Belle so she now lay partially on top of him. He smoothed her hair gently and lovingly before kissing her head with a soft kiss.
Together now for nearly three weeks, Shawn had made a number of milestones during that time and knew he had Belle to thank for that. Feeling her hand move slowly up and down his chest, she soon brought it up to his cheek to guide him to her for a tantalizingly slow kiss. "I love you," he murmured against her lips.
"Hmm...," she smiled as she kissed him sweetly. "Love you, too," she told him as they continued to kiss.
His hand glided along her back lazily. "How are you feeling?" he asked in a soothing voice, kissing her head allowing his lips to linger.
"I think you have outdone yourself."
Shawn let out an easy chuckle. "I just want to make sure I'm able to meet your needs."
Belle kissed his chest lightly. "You do that and so much more," she told him as her kisses traveled to his neck before covering his mouth with her own. "You've become my new favorite past time," she teased with a light laugh.
Shawn easily joined her in the laughter in between kisses. "It almost doesn't seem right to be this happy."
"Just go with the flow."
"I am try " he suddenly stopped and Belle watched him wince in pain as he held his head in his hands.
"Shawn? Shawn, baby what's wrong?" she asked in a panic.
"It's ok," he assured as he came to grips with the sharp pain piercing through his head. "I'll be ok," he said in a more strained voice.
"Are you sure? Can I get you something? Where's your medicine?"
"My bag outer pocket."
Belle quickly scurried out of the bed and quickly got his medication. She poured him a glass of water and soon watched him easily swallow the pills. Soothingly she ran her hand along his back. "You're getting them more frequently," she commented.
"Yeah," he said taking a deep breath as he waited impatiently for the drugs to kick in. "It'll be ok. I'll be alright. Don't worry," he said calmly.
"How about Robert? He could go by Bobby."
Mimi stared at her husband while he watched the television absentmindedly yet tried to be somewhat engaged in their conversation.
"Bobby Brady?" she questioned, appearing to be in disbelief.
"You don't like it?"
"Ok, let's set some ground rules, the names Mike, Greg, Bobby, and Peter are out of the question."
"Why? Those are all perfectly good names."
"They're out of the question for the same reason that if we were having a daughter we couldn't use Carol, Marsha, Jan or Cindy."
"I don't get it."
"Ah," Mimi sighed. "This is a time it would be helpful if you had watched television as a child. Those are all names from the Brady Bunch. I can hear the jokes now."
"Mimi, I think you are just a bit paranoid. No one would ever think "
"Trust me Rex, they would. So, come up with something else."
"You shot down my idea, why don't you come up with a name?"
"Because I like being critical of your choices," she teased.
Rex shifted his gaze from the television to look at his wife next to him as they both sat up in bed. "You're afraid you can't come up with a good name," he commented.
"Hardly," she dismissed. "I haven't thought of one yet, that's all but when I do "
"I'm going to shoot it down," he told her with a devilish grin.
Mimi quickly swatted her hand at his arm and he caught it, pulling her closer to him so she now cuddled next to him.
"We have two months until our son is born. Why don't we get one of those baby name books and use that as a way to think of something?"
"Once again, the voice of reason," Mimi said teasingly.
"Well, names are important and I want our son to have a good name a strong name. We should take our time and get it right."
"I agree," she said and reached over to the phone resting on the bedside table.
"Now, who are you going to call at this time of night?"
"Belle, who else?"
"You mean she's actually got a night free?" Rex asked a bit facetiously.
"Actually, you know what, calling is not a good idea. She and Shawn were planning to share a romantic evening."
"They make a good couple."
"Mm-hmm," Mimi agreed. "Despite everything they are making it work. I've never seen Belle happier."
"And finally my cousin has allowed himself to open up and let someone in. I'm happy for them both. Belle is the only one truly able to get him through this," Rex reflected. "I pray that he'll get his sight back. He's been getting those headaches more frequently."
"Do you think that maybe it's a sign?"
"No telling really. Time will tell."
Dr. Todd McKenzie spent yet another late night in the lab. He had a true mystery before him. The sample he had before him had just arrived from the emergency room to be analyzed stat. Typically one of the lab techs would take care of such an analysis, but this was important to him, he wanted to personally see what he could find in his colleague's sample.
"Alright Shawn, what exactly is going on?" he asked himself as he examined the cells through the microscope. "What are these meds doing to you?" He pulled out the results from the previous lab tests from nearly a month ago and compared the two. "What in the hell?" he gasped.
Shawn let out a loud sigh of frustration as he lay on the bed in room nine in the emergency department. He squeezed Belle's hand, glad that she was by his side as they waited. Soon he heard the door open and his ears perked up.
"Hi Shawn," Lexie said, announcing her presence as she flipped through his chart. Soon, she looked up at smiled as she saw Belle holding onto his hand. "I'm going to take over. Nothing against my residents but I'd like to handle this personally."
"Nothing against your residents, but I'm glad I've got you looking after me," Shawn commented. "So, what's wrong with me?"
"Trying to find that out. How frequently have you been having these headaches?"
"It's getting worse. I'm getting them almost every day, before I'd have them once or twice a week."
"Do you think they're being triggered by anything in particular?"
"Not that I can think of I haven't noticed any links."
Lexie paused as she took her notes and tried to quickly deduce the situation. "What were you doing when this headache hit? Were you doing anything strenuous? Anything physically demanding or mentally taxing?"
"Physical," he replied and he could feel Belle squeezing his hand as if to stop him. He turned his head toward Belle's general direction. "She asked me a question, I have to answer it. I think Lexie already realizes the nature of our relationship."
"It's ok Shawn," Lexie interjected with a knowing look aimed at a now embarrassed Belle. "I think I can figure out what you were doing." She jotted something down quickly in her notes and reviewed some of the paperwork. "Well we've sent your blood sample to the lab to be analyzed and you're going to be prepped soon for a CT so we can see what's going on. It's a little too early to tell, as I'm sure you know but we're going to run all the usual diagnostics. Until then, we're going to put you in observation."
"Come on Lexie," he groaned in disapproval. "After the CT, let me go home. I do not want to stay here over night. Belle's going to take good care of me, you know she will. Just give me a call when you find out something."
"Sorry Shawn, no can do."
Shawn let out a defeated sigh and dropped his head down onto the pillow. "I figured," he mumbled.
"Lexie, any idea what's causing these headaches?" Belle asked curiously. "I mean, he's been having them on and off over the last few weeks but tonight it was well, it didn't go away, even after he took his medication."
"You were right to bring him in. Shawn, deep down you know Belle did the right thing."
"Yeah. Yeah, she did a good thing," he begrudgingly agreed.
"But to answer your question Belle, I don't know what's causing the headaches, at least I don't know why they are happening far more frequently with greater intensity. Hopefully, the CT will be able to answer some questions for us. But until then, try to get comfortable Shawn. Belle, feel free to stay with him until he's sent to radiology."
"Alright, thanks Lexie," Shawn said. "I appreciate what you're doing for me."
"Don't thank me yet. Let's find out what's going on then you can give me praise and recognition," she smiled.
Shawn chuckled lightly. "That's a deal."
"I'll see you two later."
Belle watched as Lexie walked out of the exam room and closed the door behind her. Soon her focus was back on Shawn. "How are you doing?"
"Just fine with you by my side." He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it gently. "Although, I rather be resuming certain activities."
"I know." Belle touched his cheek gently and guided him to her for a sweet kiss. "Soon, my love, but first let's get you better." She kissed him again, "and then we can have some fun."
He smiled though it was half earnest. "I love you Belle," he said as his smile faded and shoulders began to slump. Reality began to sink in ever so slowly.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Belle asked with great concern. Her fingers brushed against his cheek as she studied the growing sullen expression on his face. "Tell me what you're feeling sweetie."
"Don't shut me out. Not now. Not after everything we've been through. Especially after what we shared earlier tonight."
Shawn reached out to her, his fingers glided through her hair. "I feel so connected to you Belle."
"Then tell me."
He took a deep breath. "Honestly, I'm scared. I'm afraid that these headaches are a sign that I'm never going to regain my sight."
"Don't say that Shawn. You have to believe "
"Believe what Belle? In a miracle?"
"It's been a month. Each day that passes by the less likely "
"I'm not going to let you give up," she told him seriously. "I want you to believe in the possibility. I want you to believe that you'll see again and that you will practice medicine and be the best surgeon again."
"You give me strength Belle, but I can't help but feel this way."
"Please Shawn," she pleaded with him. Leaning closer to him, her forehead touched his and she closed her eyes tightly, fighting back the tears. She hated it when he felt defeated when he gave into the vulnerability he often felt at times.
"I want to believe that I'll be able to gaze into your eyes," he said quietly. "More than anything else that is what I dream about night and day. I would do anything just to see those gorgeous baby blues again."
Lexie watched the touching scene before her as she stood outside of Shawn's exam room. Her heart went out to them. She hoped that the results from all the diagnostic tests would help solve this mystery. As the transporter arrived with the wheelchair, Lexie walked into the room, hating to interrupt the moment Shawn and Belle were sharing, but it was inevitable.
"Alright Shawn. Are you ready?" she asked as she approached him.
"As ready as I'll ever be."
Belle took his hand as he got up off the bed. "The wheelchair is right here," she told him as she led him to it and soon he had a seat. "I'll be here, waiting for you when you're all finished."
Belle kissed him sweetly. "I love you," she whispered.
"I love you, too. I'll be back soon," he assured.
"We'll take good care of him," Lexie said to Belle as the transporter wheeled Shawn out of the room. "I'll keep you posted."
Todd continued to study the sample through the microscope ever so closely. It was the most unusual phenomenon that he was now observing. Based on his medical training, he tested Shawn's blood sample with a variety of lab tests, then out of curiosity and pulling from his doctoral training in pharmaceutical research he tested the medication Shawn was taking. What he saw didn't make any sense to him. He quickly realized that there was no possible way that the medication would ever work, the combination of chemicals would be actually, it was counterproductive.
He reviewed the results again and consulted his research books. The conclusion was the same each time. Grabbing the computer printout, he rushed out of the lab on his way to the ER. Practically running off the elevator, he hurried into the department to see Lexie reviewing a chart while standing by the nurses' station.
"Lexie!" he called out to her.
Surprised by the outburst, Lexie looked up to see Todd sprinting towards her. "Todd, what's wrong?"
"Take him off the meds," he said, practically out of breath.
"Shawn. Get him off those experimental meds now. They're reacting badly with his other pain medication."
"What?" she repeated, more in shock by the news.
"I'm telling you Lexie," he said, looking at her seriously, "get him off the meds now. We've got to flush it out of his system." He handed her the paper and pointed to the information on it. "Write a prescription for this. Set it up as an IV drip, in a couple of hours nature will take its course."
"You've got to do it Lexie. I'm surprised Shawn has lasted this long with this chemical combination bubbling through his blood. This chemical reaction is potentially lethal."
Lexie looked at the lab results in complete surprise. "No wonder he hasn't gotten his sight back. He's basically being poisoned."
Lucas walked out of his group session not feeling any differently than he felt when he went into the session about an hour ago. His time at the center was now down to three weeks left five weeks without a drink and he was miserable.
Walking past the common area where everyone was gathered, Lucas was more content to stay in his room, to fight the addiction and not mingle with anyone, though it wasn't encouraged by anyone at the treatment center. He soon approached the door leading to the residences, they were plush suites the perfect setting for the high profiled guests the center often treated.
As he walked through the door, he ran into another man coming out. "Excuse me," Lucas mumbled.
"No problem," the other man said. It was obvious to him that Lucas was in a rush, but he didn't let that stop him. "You're in one of my sessions, aren't you?"
"I I don't know."
"Yeah you are. You never say anything. You know, places like this are only helpful if you put something into it."
"Whatever you say. Please excuse me," Lucas said trying to make his way to the doorway.
"Wait, what's your rush?"
Lucas sighed heavily as he stared at the blonde gentleman before him. He was younger than Lucas, in his mid to late thirties if he had to guess, but certainly didn't act with the level of maturity that age brings, in his opinion. "Can I help you with something?"
"Let me help you."
"What makes you think I need help?"
"We all do man. That's why we're here, but I'm what you might call a veteran. I've been in and out of rehab since I was 19. My family has pretty much given up on me, except for my sister the saint that she is."
"This is all really nice but " Lucas tried to push past him but failed again.
"I started off with a little bit of weed when I was in high school. My parents are pretty big time so they shipped me off to a counselor didn't stop smoking though. By the time I got into college I tried a little ecstasy, some 'shrooms, and dabbled in acid. Parents cut off the funds when I was in college and my mom, who's a psychiatrist by the way, sent me to some clinic when I was 19. That was the first time I had ever been committed. I'm an actor and musician by trade. I mostly sing, play a little guitar and piano, but I was a theater guy still am, when I'm sober enough. That's been my problem. Every time I think I've kicked it, I eventually get kicked and it's the same old shit."
"Touching," Lucas muttered, though he could identify with the man's tale to a degree.
"What's your story? Druggie? You strike me as the alcoholic type. Am I right? Corporate man? Can't handle the pressure of the job?" When Lucas appeared unmoved the man extended his hand to him. "I'm Brady Black, by the way."
Hesitantly, Lucas took the man's hand and shook it firmly. His name alone made Lucas remember the depths of his addiction and how it almost killed Shawn Brady and Belle Black. He couldn't believe his luck. "Lucas Roberts," he answered.
"So what brought you here?" Brady asked curiously.
"I almost killed two people."
Abe glanced at his watch as he heard the soft ding fill the airplane cabin. He put his papers back into the briefcase and placed the tray table in its "upright and locked position."
The flight attendant's voice came through the speakers. "Ladies and gentleman, we are approaching our final destination to Scottsdale, Arizona. We should be landing in about ten minutes."
Abe stared out the window as the city came closer into view as he thought about his mission. Lucas, I hope I am wrong about you. I certainly don't want to believe you could do such a terrible thing but it appears that you're finally getting the help you need. You'll need to be strong once I'm done with you.
Shawn was resting as comfortably as possible in the observation bed after receiving the news from Todd and Lexie about the experimental medication he was taking. For lack of a better term, he had toxins in his body that had to get out. Apparently, the headaches were a sign that his body was rejecting the medication, not the other way around. He couldn't believe how close he had come to losing his life, when he thought he was getting better. He couldn't believe that Todd, of all people was the one to discover it. He had a lot of time to reflect on everything that was happening to him. He was now alone. Belle had only recently left his side to make a few calls and let his family know what was happening. She had gone to her office and was going to return as soon as she assured his parents that he was fine. They both knew that was easier said then done and they both knew that chances were Hope would insist on coming to the hospital, though it wasn't necessary.
Shawn imagined all that was happening by listening to the bustling sounds outside his room. He loved hospitals, and this one most of all the atmosphere was far too exciting and missing out on that excitement was really taking its toll on him.
Lexie walked towards Shawn's room when she was suddenly stopped by one of the surgical residents calling out to her.
"Dr. Kramer, is it true? Was Dr. Brady's medication keeping him blind?"
"Not really. It was having an adverse reaction with some of his other medication. The reaction was not noted in the study unfortunately that does happen, though rare. We're not sure if it was keeping him blind, but it certainly wasn't good for him."
"I see," he said with slumped shoulders.
Lexie was taken aback by the unusual behavior. "Dr. Kent, you look like you have something on your mind. You almost seem disappointed."
"I'm not disappointed," he said and shuffled off to where another resident was standing to give him the news. "Yeah, it's true," he told the other resident, in a voice not as quiet as he would have liked. "The jerk was almost poisoned, too bad it didn't work."
"Dr. Kent!" Lexie called out, after hearing his snide remark. She approached him and the other gentleman. "I don't ever want to hear you refer to Dr. Brady in that manner again. I know you had your differences with him, but no one, especially a colleague and patient, deserves a comment like that." Before Dr. Kent could defend himself Lexie walked away and into Shawn's room. "Hi Shawn, it's Lexie."
"Hey Lexie," he muttered.
"How are you feeling?"
"You didn't have to do that you know," he said.
"Defend me to him. He's right. I was a jerk... I am a jerk. I used to walk around these halls acting all high and mighty. I treated everyone like crap, including you so I'm grateful that you are bigger than me and not holding my past behavior against me."
"Shawn, you are one of the best doctors I have ever had the privilege to know and work with and yes your passion can get in the way of your ability to appreciate what others bring, but I know that, and everyone knows that. When it comes to taking care of patients, we don't let anything get in the way. And since you're my patient, I had to confront Dr. Kent. He was out of line, and you are not a jerk."
"I agree with that," Belle commented as she walked into the room just in time to hear Lexie's commentary.
Shawn brightened up at hearing her voice. Soon she was sitting on the edge of his bed, holding his hand in hers. "How are you doing sweetie?"
"Better now," he answered as he kissed her hand. "Lexie was just lifting my spirits."
"Just got a dose of my own medicine that's all." Shawn could almost sense Belle's curiosity about the comment. "I'll explain when we get back to your place."
"I'm taking you back to your parents' house," Belle corrected him.
"That was the compromise I made with Hope. Otherwise your entire family would be on their way here now."
"Alright," he sighed. "Lexie, when can I go? I've been here for hours."
"In a little bit, Todd is going to run some more lab tests. Once I get the all clear from him, you'll be discharged."
"Great, I can't wait."
"Well, I'll be back later to check on you."
"Alright Lexie. Thanks for everything," Shawn told her sincerely."
"You're very welcome."
Belle watched Lexie depart from the room and soon she was leaning closer to Shawn and kissed him sweetly.
"Hmm... what was that for?"
"No reason, only that I love you. I'm just glad that we found out what was wrong before it was too late. I can't lose you now," she said softly.
"You're not going to lose me baby. I'm too in love with you to let anything happen or break us apart." He cupped her face gently in his hand and captured her lips with his own for a sweet, lingering kiss.
The two of them were in their own world, not realizing that Todd had just walked into the room to check up on Shawn. Instead he was smacked with reality and found it difficult to let go of the past.
Another week had passed and Shawn was now off the experimental medication, and on the newly recommended drugs that Lexie had prescribed for him to counter the ill effects of the others. It had been a few days since his last headache and he had to admit that he felt better physically. He also believed in everything Belle constantly encouraged him to believe in and he couldn't wait to share his news with her. He hadn't told anyone yet, not his parents or his brothers who now joined him in their parents' living room.
JT and Zack Brady had driven to their childhood home for the weekend to check up on their brother. For both of them it had been difficult to accept seeing their big brother, who had always been a pillar and the epitome of strength and independence suddenly needing to lean on others.
John Thomas or JT as he was always called, was the second oldest Brady boy. Eight years Shawn's junior, he had a harder time than his younger brother Zack when it came to living in the shadow of his big brother. JT was not nearly as athletic or studious as Shawn, but had relied on his charisma to make his mark. He was 25 and making a name for himself as a young police officer in Detroit already thinking about becoming a detective. He lived a comfortable life in the major metropolitan, with his fiancé Diana. They were college sweethearts and dated on and off for nearly five years. When their daughter was born seventeen months ago, JT had never had to face such a responsibility. Part of him wanted to runaway. It was his big brother Shawn who made him step up to the plate and realize there were things worth fighting for, mainly his relationship with Diana that had nearly dissolved when he had learned that she was pregnant. He became focused and dedicated to his new family, now they were ready to make it official and would be getting married in the summer. Shawn was going to be his best man and nothing made JT happier.
As the sound of the doorbell pealed through the house, Shawn immediately perked up and didn't hesitate to stand up from his seat on the couch.
"I'll get it," Zack, his youngest brother said. Before Shawn could protest, Zack was already at the door.
"Hi Zack," Belle greeted, "it's good to see you again." She had met him a couple of times before, and each time he seemed to warm up to her even more. Quieter and more introspective than his older brothers, Zack was a 23-year-old living in Chicago as a mechanical engineer. He possessed that all too familiar Brady charm as well, but worked it in a different way.
"Hey Belle, come on in," he smiled as he moved out of the way. "It's great to see you." He offered to take her coat as she quickly shed it.
Belle walked in to join the others, quickly making her way to Shawn. "Hi baby," he said quietly as she slipped her hands in his. Greeting each other with a peck on the cheek.
"Hey. How are you feeling?"
"Actually, really good. I've been waiting all day to tell you my news."
"What news is that sweetie?" she asked anxiously.
"Come on, let's have a seat with the others," he insisted. Belle hooked her arm around his, as she often did when they walked together. Going the short distance to the living room, they took a seat on the couch.
"Hello Belle," Bo said as he saw her son settle down on the couch with his girlfriend. "How are you doing?"
"A little anxious now that Shawn says he has some news to share."
"He does? Shawn, what's going on?"
"Dad, can you get Mom? There's something I want to tell you all."
"I'll get her," Zack offered.
Soon after, Hope joined the others and warmly greeted Belle as she saw her.
"What's this all about?" Hope curiously asked.
"I wanted to tell you all something all at the same time." He paused a moment as he decided how he wanted to share his exciting news. "Well, this morning when I woke up I could see the light." Again he paused expecting to hear some sort of reaction from his family but he soon realized that they were all still waiting to hear his news. The way he phrased his news came across more metaphorical than actual. "Let me rephrase, I saw the sunlight."
"Are you saying you have your sight back?" Belle asked in surprise.
"Not quite. I couldn't see anything distinct, no images or anything like that but I could see light... I could see the contrast from the darkness. I've seen some shadowy figures but that's about it. I think my sight is coming back, but again, there's no telling when that might happen."
"But this is a sign," Belle eagerly said.
"I think so. I've made an appointment for tomorrow with Chris Leffler he's the best ophthalmologist we have at the hospital."
"Seems like those experimental drugs were doing more harm than good," JT commented.
"I guess so," Shawn agreed. "But something tells me that something bigger is at work. I'm not normally one to believe in miracles but Belle taught me in the importance of believing." He put his arm around her and pressed a gentle kiss against her temple. "I owe you so much sweetheart."
Belle appeared bashful after his words and blushed slightly as she put her head on his shoulder. Shawn chuckled softly at her reaction.
"She's blushing isn't she?" he asked the others, getting a kick out of the situation. "Belle is so modest, she hates it when I put her on the spot like that."
"You've got her pegged Shawn," Bo said to his son, clearly amused at seeing the couple together.
"That he does," Hope agreed. Seeing the two of them together warmed her heart. She knew that even if Belle disagreed, Shawn still had a point Belle had given her son his life back, and for that Hope knew she would be forever grateful to the young lady who she already thought of as a daughter. She hoped that one day her son would make it official one day. Looking at them now, Hope knew there was a good chance that would come to fruition.
Lucas stared across the table at the one person he had allowed himself to open up to. It wasn't truly his choice, he had almost been forced by this one individual to confront his demons.
"Tell me about Jamie," Brady said, repeating his request. He had asked it once before and was met by what could only be described as a venomous stare. He had struck a nerve and that nerve would be the source of Lucas' problems, he was sure of it. "Lucas," he said patiently, "tell me."
Lucas tensed. "She's my wife," he finally said in relief, as if making a confession.
"You mention her a lot." Looking down at the gold band on his left hand, Brady gave him a warm smile. "How long have you been married?"
Continuing to stare at Brady, Lucas was almost unsure how to answer the question. His life with his wife seemed to flash before his eyes, ending suddenly as he held her hand while she was on her deathbed. His eyes quickly filled with tears. "She died two years ago," he said softly.
"I'm sorry to hear that. It must have been hard on you."
"Have you ever been married?"
"No. I haven't been lucky enough to find that right one."
"I loved being married. I loved having a wife and there was no better one than my Jamie. She was the most caring and loving woman she made me a better man. I cherished everyday I was given to be with her." He paused a moment, becoming fixated on his hands as they rested on the table. "We were married for twenty years. It was on our second honeymoon that she discovered the lump in her breast. It was too late. Seven months later she was gone."
"So how long after her death did you start drinking?"
"What makes you think ?"
"You've never healed from her death," Brady deduced. "You don't know how to cope. I take it that if you have any children, they're out of the house now?" When Lucas responded with only a steely expression, Brady knew he was right. "You're all alone in the house you shared with your soul mate and you have only been able to find comfort in one thing."
"You don't know what you're talking about!"
"I can handle my alcohol," he defended.
"If you can, then what are you doing here?"
"Exactly," a deep voice said from behind. Lucas felt the heavy hand on his shoulder. "What are you doing here Lucas?"
Slowly, Lucas turned his head to see Abe standing behind him. "Abe what are you doing here?"
"I just asked you the same question."
"You going to introduce me to your friend?" Brady questioned.
"If you don't mind, I need to speak with Lucas alone," Abe told the oddly enthusiastic man to whom Lucas was previously speaking.
"Actually, I do mind. We were in the middle of an important conversation man, and by the way, do the counselors know you're here to harass him?"
"I'm not harassing him. Lucas knows why I'm here, don't you Lucas?"
Lucas remained silent and Brady noticed the tension on his face. "And who are you again?"
Abe sighed. "I'm Commander Abe Carver of the Salem PD."
"Salem, Arizona?" Brady asked skeptically.
"No. Salem, Illinois it's Lucas' hometown, or have you not gotten to that part of your important conversation?" he mocked.
"Salem, Illinois? Get out of town!" Brady exclaimed. "That's where my baby sister lives. Maybe you know her. She works at a hospital there. Her name is Belle."
Lucas felt his heart slam against his rib cage and he suddenly broke out into a cold sweat as his breathing became shallow. "Belle Black?" he panicked.
"Yeah! You know her?"
"Um, yes... I... I'm her boss," he stammered.
"Small world," Brady gasped, but soon moved past his astonishment when he glanced up at Abe hovering above with his arms now folded across his chest. "So, Commander I guess you're here because "
"It's a personal matter."
"Are you here to arrest him?"
"Again, it's a personal matter. Please Mr. Black, I really need to speak to Mr. Roberts alone."
Begrudgingly, Brady got up from his seat. "I'll be around if you need me, ok man?"
"Yeah, yeah, ok."
Abe watched Brady walk out of the room, and closed the door. It wasn't long until he was sitting across from a now fidgety Lucas. Abe watched him long and hard. He had never felt so sorry for someone until now. He had known Lucas so long and he clearly was seeing him at his lowest point. Reaching towards his back, he revealed a pair of handcuffs and placed them down onto the table. He then reached inside his inner jacket pocket and placed a small packet of papers, in the shape of a pamphlet and threw them down ceremoniously.
"I'm not going to beat around the bush Lucas, I'm here to arrest you. That's the warrant and obviously, those are the cuffs. I think you know why I am here to arrest you. Care to tell me what happened?"
"If you are expecting a great confession, you'll have to arrest me first and I'm not going to speak until I've talked to my lawyer."
Abe pulled out his cell phone and handed it to Lucas. "Go ahead and call your lawyer. "
Lucas looked at him with a growing smug expression. "Abe you know as well as I do that you have no jurisdiction in Arizona. You have come here under false expectations."
"That may be so Lucas, but I've come here out of friendship more than anything else. I have great respect for your family, your grandmother is one of the greatest people I know. It is out of that respect that I am coming to you in this way. I commend you for recognizing that you have a problem and for checking yourself into rehab, but it's time to face the music. I take it your buddy there doesn't realize that you almost killed his sister. You know, Shawn is still blind. No telling when or if he'll ever get his sight back."
Lucas continued to stay quiet and avoided looking at Abe. The guilt he was filled with was too much to bear. He fought the urge with every fiber of his being but he was weak. He could feel the need for the poison.
"What are you thinking Lucas?" Abe questioned. He could see his hands begin to tremble slightly and the way he avoided his gaze was enough to tell Abe that he was wracked with guilt. "Are you thinking about what you did?"
"I'm not telling you anything Abe."
"You should, because I'm here to help you. I don't have to arrest you now Lucas, we can get this cleared up back in Salem. I rather you walk out with me on your own than me escorting you out. It's up to you."
After spending an enjoyable evening at the Brady's Belle sat with Shawn on the front porch to have some alone time, before she headed home. It was a beautiful night, crisp and cool and this time alone was the perfect way to end the day together.
"I just love your family," Belle said as she cuddled next to Shawn on the porch swing. "They're so warm and loving. How'd they end up with a spoiled brat like you?" she asked him teasingly.
"I wonder the same thing sometimes," he laughed. "But they're stuck with me. I guess I have that effect on people."
"I'd say you do."
"You're stuck with me, too you know."
"I know. I wouldn't have it any other way."
"We're on the same wavelength, that's a good thing."
"A very good thing," Belle agreed as she touched his cheek gently and leaned in closer. Their lips met briefly for a soft kiss. "But I should get going."
"Hmm... not yet baby," he muttered as he captured her lips for a deeper kiss. Their mouths continued to meet for a series of sweet kisses when they were interrupted by the front door opening.
JT walked out with the phone in his hand. "Shawn," he called out as he walked towards him and Belle. "Sorry to interrupt. Rex is on the phone for you. He says it's an emergency."
Shawn took the phone from his brother. "Rex, what's going on?"
"Shawn, I don't know what to do man. We're at the hospital. I feel so helpless," he said, his voice beginning to falter.
"Rex take a breath and tell me what's wrong," Shawn requested calmly. "Is something wrong with Mimi?"
"No, no she's fine, well as fine as she can be. She just got out of the delivery room. She's a wreck."
"Delivery room?" Shawn questioned. "Amber is in labor?" he asked in shock.
"Was in labor. She went into premature labor, they couldn't stop the contractions, so she had the baby. They just sent him to the NICU. They don't know if he's going to make it. Why Shawn? Why would God be so cruel to us? We have tried so hard to have a baby and now " his voice cracked as he broke down and started to sob.
"Rex, listen to me. Your son is going to be fine. Two months premature isn't that bad. Yeah, he's got a little bit of a fight, but he's going to make it you have to believe in that. You know we have the best doctors at the hospital, they're going to look after him and you and Mimi will be taking him home in no time," he assured.
"Shawn, I "
"Rex, buddy, just stay strong. Belle and I are on our way, ok?"
"Alright, we'll be there soon." Shawn hung up the phone and felt Belle squeeze his hand. "Amber had the baby and he's in the NICU. He should make it. At this stage his lungs are underdeveloped so he'll have to be on a vent most likely."
"Shawn, stop talking like a doctor," Belle told him. "What did Rex say?"
"It's not what he said, it's the way he said it. I've never heard my cousin sound that way before. He sounds like he's given up. They've gone through so much Belle, it's just not right it isn't fair."
"A lot of things aren't fair but remember what you were telling your family earlier?"
"Yeah, about believing?"
"Yes," she replied with a kiss to his cheek. "Come on, let's go. Rex and Mimi need our support now more than ever."
Belle arrived at Dr. Leffler's office after receiving a page from the receptionist that Shawn's appointment was almost over. Things had been so hectic since last night when Shawn received the call from Rex that Belle had to practically force Shawn to keep his appointment with the eye doctor. The condition was that she get him the moment his office visit was over, so she left her pager number at the front desk in order to do that.
As she approached the front desk, the door opened and Shawn was walking out with the help of one of the nurses. Belle went to him, taking his hand in hers. ""Hey," she said softly as he reacted to her presence.
"Hi sweetheart." He turned his head in the general direction of the nurse who was helping him. "Thanks for your help."
"You're very welcome Dr. Brady. Take care and good luck."
"Thanks," he said and began to walk along with Belle out of the office. "So how are they doing? How's the baby?"
"The baby is fine. He's doing just fine. He's so beautiful Shawn and Dr. Moore feels that he'll get through this perfectly."
"Good. I had no doubt that he would."
"How did your visit go?"
"Very good. He says that blurred images, periodic light and all that are ninety percent of the time a clear indication that sight will be fully restored. Now it's only a matter of when it will happen."
"Oh sweetie, that's such good news."
"I thought you'd get a kick out of that," he grinned.
"A big kick. Now let's go check on little Gavin."
"Yeah, that's what they named the baby. Gavin Alexander Brady, isn't that such a good name?"
"It's a good, strong name," Shawn agreed as they reached the elevator and waited. "He's a Brady he's going to fight and survive, I know that much."
Minutes later, they joined Rex outside the NICU. Mimi was inside with Gavin, spending time with the little one and speaking with the nurses.
"Shawn," Rex called his name as if in relief to see his cousin. "How did your visit go?"
"Just fine. Very optimistic," Shawn told him as he reached for him and soon gripped his arm comfortingly. "How are you holding up? How's the baby? I hear you named him Gavin Alexander."
"We finally decided on a name about a week ago. Mimi chose Gavin, I picked Alexander and put together it sounded really good, don't you think?"
"Sounds like a Brady name if ever I've heard one," Shawn commented.
Sensing that the cousins needed some time to talk, Belle decided to excuse herself. "I'm going to head back to my office, but I'll be back in a little while," she told them and left the Brady men alone.
"So back to my original question, how are you holding up?"
"Somehow I don't believe that, especially considering how you were last night when you called. I know you're being strong for Mimi and your son, but you can be real with me. Tell me."
Rex paused a moment, looking through the glass separating him from the NICU where his son lay in an incubator and his wife sat by his side. He felt the emotions he had been trying so hard to control whir uncontrollably inside him. "He's so small Shawn. A baby shouldn't have to go through this. He hasn't done anything to deserve such a struggle for his life when he hasn't even had a chance to live."
"But Dr. Moore says "
"I know what she says Shawn but I'm telling you what I feel and I just don't know if I can be strong anymore," he snapped. He paused a moment as he became choked up. "I have waited so long to be a dad. This is what I have wanted for a long time and now I don't know if I can be the sort of father that Gavin needs me to be for him."
Shawn placed a reassuring hand on his cousin's shoulder. "You can be Rex. You have to be. You have no choice but to be strong. Mimi needs you and Gavin needs you."
"I know I have to be Shawn."
"So what's the problem?"
"Haven't you heard a word I've said? I don't know how Shawn."
Sensing his despair and frustration, Shawn pulled Rex to him for a hug and he soon heard and felt Rex sobbing on his shoulder. "As long as you love them, you'll know how. Just do what comes naturally to you out of the love you have for them." With a strong reassuring pat on the back, Shawn soon released Rex from the hug.
Gaining his composure, Rex let out a small chuckle. "How did you suddenly become the expert on the power of love?"
"I've learned first hand what it can do."
Belle picked up her cup of coffee and made her way to her office when she saw Todd approaching her. She was so grateful to him for everything he did to save Shawn's life and now with Shawn's sight starting to come back, Belle couldn't help but feel that Todd was partly responsible for that.
"Hi Belle," he said with a warm smile as they met up in the hallway. "How are you doing? How's Shawn?"
"I'm fine and Shawn is actually doing really well. He's starting to get his sight back."
"Oh, that's great. It was a close call with that medication. I'm just glad we were able to catch it in time."
"I am so grateful to you Todd for all your help."
"You're welcome. Heading to your office?"
"Yeah. I've been running around all day, I wanted to take a little break."
"Mind if I walk with you?"
"Not at all."
"So, what's going on that's got you so busy?"
"Rex and Mimi's baby was born prematurely last night. He's in the NICU, but doing fine. The doctor says he should pull through without a problem."
"Good. Those two have been through a lot. But we have a state of the art NICU. Their baby is in very good hands."
"You're right. He'll pull through it."
"So, you and Shawn still going strong?" he asked curiously. When Belle gave him an odd look, he quickly apologized. "I'm sorry Belle. It's not my place to ask you such a personal question."
"No, it's ok. I mean if you really want to know."
"I just want to make sure he's taking good care of you."
"He is, Todd. He's going through so much but he is so good to me and for me." She watched Todd look away slightly at her words, apparently hurt. "I'm sorry Todd, I didn't mean "
"No, I asked and you answered. I know the two of you love each other and that you have this amazing connection with him that you never had with me, and I acknowledge that. You've always had a connection with him, even when we were dating. You deserve happiness Belle and if Shawn gives you that, then I wish you two the best."
Later that night, Belle lay on top of Shawn, resting her head on his chest and tucked under his chin. He caressed her back soothingly with his gentle touch. His masterful hands moved along her silken skin, providing an amazing combination electrifying and enticing, soothing and comforting. Belle felt so cherished in his arms. She moaned softly as he kissed her head softly and she continued to savor this moment together.
With a light peck she kissed his chest, then raised her head and gazed at him, smiling as she looked at the peaceful expression on his face. Slowly, she glided her fingers through his hair and his hands continued to move sensually along the length of her body. "I love the way you touch me," she sighed dreamily against his lips.
Shawn captured her lips with his own for a sweet kiss. "It's the way I see you baby," he grinned as their lips continued to meet for a series of nips. "And you are so beautiful... so perfect," he murmured while his mouth met hers for a deeper kiss.
"I love you so much Shawn."
"I love you even more sweetheart."
Belle eased off of him slightly, snuggling against his body she slipped her leg in between his and moved her hand lazily along the contours of his strong chest. With her head resting on his shoulder, she sighed in contentment as he wrapped his arms around her somewhat possessively.
After a few moments, Shawn broke the silence. "Thank you for being there for Rex and Mimi today."
"They're my friends and your family, of course I was going to be there for them."
"Well I appreciate it." He thought back to everything that happened since the night before and he found himself so amazingly grateful for everything Belle had done for him and his family. He could easily envision a future with her marriage and children were once something he wasn't all too interested in before but now he definitely was. "What does Gavin look like?" he asked curiously.
"Oh Shawn, he's gorgeous absolutely perfect. Ten little fingers and toes," she gushed, "and the cutest little round face and probably two small wisps of brown hair. He's very tiny though Shawn, but has a lot of spirit. It's so interesting how a baby can have such personality already."
"Rex did say he seemed like a very determined baby. I figure, he may not be a Brady by blood but he has somehow inherited that legendary Brady pride."
"I think you're right. Poor Meems," she laughed.
Shawn let out an easy chuckle. "You'll have to deal with that one day, too God willing."
Belle's laughter dissipated and she looked at him curiously.
"What's wrong?" he asked as he noticed the sudden stop in her laughter. "Should I not have said that?"
"You think about that?" Belle questioned.
"Think about what?"
"Having kids," she responded.
"I never used to but I do a lot more now."
"And why is that?"
"Because I want to marry you," he replied calmly, but soon added, "one day, and start a family."
"One day?" she asked with a playful tone evident in her voice.
Shawn's mouth formed into a sly smirk. "Yes, one day. Point is Belle, I love you, I want to spend my life with you but I can't give you what you need right now. I want to provide for you and give you all the things you want. And I know what you are going to say," he quickly added, sensing she was about to interrupt him. "But, that's what I feel I need to do, as a man. Call it old fashioned or whatever, but that's what I believe and what I was raised to believe and no matter how much you might protest it, that's what I think and I have a feeling part of you wants that, too. Right now I just feel too helpless, too needy to be the man you deserve."
"I'm not going to argue with you because your mind is obviously made up, but I want you to know one thing Shawn Douglas Brady."
"Uh oh, you're using the full name."
"Yes, because I'm serious. I want you to know that you are all the man I will ever need. Don't think that your job or your money is what I need from you to be happy. The best way you can provide for me is to keep loving me the way you do. Now," she added in a more seductive tone, "do you think you are up to that challenge?" she questioned, nibbling along his jaw line in the process.
"Yeah, I think I can do that."
Belle guided him to her for a tender kiss. "Good. Now, out of curiosity, how many children are we talking here?"
"Hmm... I'm thinking five or six."
"What? And who are you planning on having these children with? Are you seeing someone else?" she teased.
Shawn chuckled. "Only you baby, but seriously let's start off with one or two and see what happens."
"I like that plan."
"Good, but until that time, what do you say we keep practicing our technique."
Belle's lips brushed against his teasingly. "I like that plan even more."
Belle leaned closer to Shawn as they walked together arm in arm along the pier. They had just left the pub after sharing as quiet an evening as possible at the Brady family establishment. The two of them always made themselves comfortable in a corner booth that gave them the illusion of privacy. After dinner they decided to take a stroll to enjoy the fresh, cool brisk air. Belle snuggled next to Shawn as he walked with a sense of confidence, yet hesitation. His sight was not back, though the blurred images would come and go, but he continued to live in darkness.
Shawn ran his hand along Belle's arm as they walked slowly. He could feel her cuddling closer to him and he smiled. "Getting cold baby?"
"No, I'm fine. I just like to snuggle next to my sweetie," she told him.
"Hmm... well if that's the case, there should be a bench coming up. We could have a seat, you can snuggle up even more and we can talk... and make out," he added with a mischievous chuckle.
"You are so incorrigible. What am I going to do with you?" she asked as she guided him to the nearby bench as he predicted.
"Just keep on loving me babe," he replied while they settled down to have a seat.
"I think I can do that," she said, tenderly locking her lips with his.
Shawn's eyelids naturally came to a close as he continued to move his mouth against Belle's. He held her face gently in his hands while they kissed slowly. "I love you," he whispered against her lips while kissing her with one last peck. His eyes fluttered open and he suddenly gasped in shock.
Belle opened her eyes and saw the wild look in Shawn's dark orbs. "Shawn, what's wrong?" she asked anxiously.
"I... I... I can see," he stammered in disbelief and shock.
"What?" Belle asked, growing excited by the news.
"I can see," he repeated, growing more comfortable with the fact that there was now a blurred image before him. Belle appeared out of focus to him, but he could distinctly tell that it was her. He could see her golden hair and the contrast of her blue eyes. "I can see you," he said again, his voice wavering. He was now on the brink of tears.
Growing ecstatic as his eyesight began to sharpen with every passing moment, he stood up from his seat and looked around the pier excitedly. Taking in the sight of the boats down the marina, and the sight of Salem Place bustling with business on the other side made him feel like a child. He turned around and saw Belle sitting, watching him in amazement her face exuded so much joy and excitement. He went to her, stretching out his arms. He smiled when she stood up and fell into his arms for a deep embrace.
Shawn held her close and looked over her shoulder to see the sun setting in the distance. The orange and purple hues that filled the sky were a breathtaking sight, one that he vowed in that moment never to take for granted again. It was serene, beautiful and awe inspiring as the sunshine shimmered against the water like glass. "I can't believe this is happening," he whispered and looked up to the sky. "Thank you God!" he exclaimed and began to laugh from pure joy.
Crying tears of joy, Belle joined him in the laughter and watched him as he looked at her with a sense of awe. She had believed in the miracle so long, that now that it had become reality she found herself filled with emotion. She touched his face, gently gliding her fingers along his cheek while they gazed into each other's eyes. She could see into his soul and saw the endless love and devotion he had for her through his eyes. The deep, dark expressiveness of his chocolate gaze was one she had missed over the months as he coped with his blindness. His strength and confidence seemed to come back in an instant. He was back to her completely, without hesitation or reservation.
"And thank you," he said softly. He held her face in his hands, memorizing every last detail of her face. Comparing his new memories with the old and with those he conjured up through his sense of touch.
"Why are you thanking me?"
He continued to look at her in amazement. His mouth turned upwards for a small grin. "Haven't I told you that you're my angel? You always believed that this would happen and somehow you made this constant skeptic a believer, too."
"Shawn you are giving me far too much credit for something I couldn't have possibly done. I just believed, and I wanted you to believe, that's all."
"I will never take this feeling for granted again." He looked up at the sky again and became enamored by the sunset. He turned Belle around and his arms circled her waist from behind. Pressing his lips against her temple, nothing had ever felt so right. "It's so beautiful. I don't think I ever paid attention to how beautiful the sunset is here. It's so amazing."
They stood there for a few moments, watching the sun as it disappeared for the evening. Shawn held Belle closer as it grew chillier. "It's getting pretty cold out her. What do you say we get going?"
Belle glanced at Shawn over her shoulder and smiled brightly at him. "Sounds like a good idea."
"I have missed that gorgeous smile," he told her as he become lost in her beauty. He touched her cheek gently and guided her to him for a soft kiss. Their lips tenderly locked as they continued to kiss and Belle turned around completely, bringing her hands around his neck with her fingers combing through his hair. Their evening was just beginning.
Nearly thirty minutes later, Belle pulled into the driveway of her home with Shawn in the seat next to her. She couldn't help but giggle as she thought about how he was like a kid in a candy store, looking at all the sights that whirred past them while they drove through the city. As she turned off the engine she looked at him and the look of wonder on his face.
"You ready to go inside?"
Shawn took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He looked at her, his vision was even more sharp and focused than before. "Yeah," he answered unusually quietly.
"What's wrong sweetie?"
"Nothing, let's just get inside."
"And we'll talk inside."
"Belle, there's nothing to talk about "
"Something is on your mind Shawn. Don't shut me out. What are you thinking?"
"I'm thinking about how much I've lost," he confessed quietly.
"Oh honey you haven't lost anything. Everything you had before the accident you can get back you know that."
"I do but... I don't know Belle. It's..." he started and sighed in frustration. "It's a lot to deal with all of the emotions and you know when I couldn't see I was in a state I've never been in before, I was vulnerable. And I've had so much time to think about my life and I wasn't the greatest person before the accident Belle. I wasn't "
"Shh..." Belle silenced him, placing her finger on his lips. "Don't look back. Focus on what you have now, this gift that you have been given and be the man I have always believed that you can be." She looked at him closely, studying his expression and noticing that he was letting her words sink in. "Let's get inside, ok? We can talk some more in the house."
Shawn was soon following Belle inside the house and into the kitchen. She pulled out a bottle of wine and handed it to him. "Care to talk over a bottle of wine?"
Taking the bottle from her, he placed it down onto the counter. His dark eyes locked on hers as he slowly shook his head. "No. No, I have something else in mind."
Belle could see the hunger in his eyes and she felt her body tingle at the intensity of his gaze. He reached out his hand to her and smiled as she slipped her hand in his. "Is it alright if I stay the night?" he asked with a sly smirk on his face.
"You know the answer to that," Belle smiled.
He moved closer to her, easing an arm around her waist. His eyes stayed on hers, growing darker with desire. "I'd like to talk in the morning. Right now I feel like celebrating miracles."
"Oh, and how do you want to celebrate?" she asked coyly.
Shawn quickly scooped her up in his arms, causing her to laugh. "I have a few ideas in mind," he declared and carried her up the stairs to her bedroom.
Later that night, Shawn walked back into the bedroom with a glass of water in his hand. Dressed in his gray boxers he grinned as he saw Belle walking out the bathroom and heading back to bed. She had thrown on his shirt that hung on her body like an oversized dress. To him, he had never seen anything sexier. The entire evening had been amazing to him. From the miracle on the pier, to Belle's understanding of his scattered feelings, to now enjoying the night together after making love.
His eyes surveyed her body, the curves and features he had come to know through other means than sight. His mind could have never imagined the level of perfection he now saw before him. She was easing back into the bed, when he went to her and grabbed her arm gently.
"Dance with me," he requested.
"What?" she asked in confusion. "There's no music."
Placing his glass down he took both hands in his. "We don't need any. I just want to dance with you."
Skeptical, Belle agreed anyway and smiled as he took her left hand in his right, clasping it lightly and bringing it close to his chest. His other arm glided around her waist as her other hand swept through his locks.
Dark orbs locked on blue eyes.
"I love you so much Belle."
"I love you, too Shawn. How are you feeling? Are you better?"
"I'm better because of you. I wish I could explain what I'm feeling. It's just so much to deal with and come to grips with and I know that once I tell my family tomorrow everything is going to be crazy. I just wanted this one night of peace with you. I promise we'll talk more in the morning but for now let's just dance."
"I'm here when you're ready. I'll always be here for you."
Shawn pressed his lips gently on her forehead for a soft kiss. "And I'm never letting you go."
Belle lowered her head to his shoulder, sighing in contentment as she savored this moment with the man she loved more than she ever thought she could or would. Her eyes gently closed while they continued to slowly sway together to the music of their hearts celebrating miracles, celebrating their love.