“I’ll be fine Mom.” Belle Black said to her mother as she leaned against a wall at Salem Place. “I mean, I’ve gone out shopping before.” She rolled her eyes at her mother unnecessary worrying. “Mom, I’m 18, I’ll talk to you later and I’ll be home after I go to Mimi’s.” She shut off her cell phone and started towards the drug store.
Looking over her shoulder, Belle entered the drugstore. ‘Why am I doing this?’ She asked her self as she made her way to the back of the store. Stopping near the end of one of the isles, she picked up a home pregnancy test. ‘There’s no way I’m pregnant. I’m just late because of stress.’ She slowly made her way to the front of the store and waited in line with the test kit.
“Hello Belle.” Jan Spears said coming up to her. “What you got there?” She pointed to the box that Belle was hiding in her hands.
“None of your business Jan.” Belle snapped. If Jan saw the test she’d run straight to Shawn and she’d have some explaining to do. “I’m just picking up some things for my sister Sami.”
“What ever you say there Belle.” Jan said walking away. She knew Belle was buying a pregnancy test. And she wanted to go tell Shawn what Belle was up to. She hurried out of the store. She ran into a man looking in the window. “Oops I’m sorry.”
“Watch where you’re going you little tramp.” The man hissed at her. He looked her over and turned back to looking into the store.
“Bite me.” Jan mumbled as she hurried out of sight.
Belle quickly paid for her test and hurried out of the store. She knew that it was just a matter of time until someone told her mother what she had just done. Glancing around her she hurried towards her car, oblivious to the figure following her. Reaching her car she bent to unlock the door.
“Not so fast.” The guy Jan had bumped into said as he grabbed her around the waist. “You’re coming with me.” He covered her mouth with his hand and threw her through the open door and into the backseat of the car next to them.
“Mmm!” Belle exclaimed as she tried to scream. She landed in the lap of a different person and the door was shut behind her.
“This is her.” He said. “It’s the Black girl.”
“The boss will like this.” The first guy said. “Sedate her.”
Belle screamed a muffled scream as she was injected with some sort of medication. She tried to fight, but the stuff was powerful and she was almost instantly incoherent. “Shawn.” She said with the last ounce of strength before she slipped into unconsciousness.
“Who is Shawn?” The first guy asked as he started to drive. They were heading out of Salem and they had no intentions of bringing her back.
“Brady kid.” He explained. “This will shock and destroy both the Blacks and Brady’s.”
* * *
“Hi Marlena.” Mimi Lockhart said as she paced her living room. “Is Belle there?” She nervously twisted the phone cord around her arm until it became tangled.
“I thought she was coming over to your house.” Marlena Evans Black said as she glanced at the clock on the wall. “She said she’d be there by 3.”
“I know she did.” Mimi said starting to worry more. Belle was always on time and if she was going to be late, she called. “But she never showed up and after calling her cell for the hundredth time I thought I should call you.”
“She’s not here either.” Marlena said glancing at her husband who was looking at her with concern in his eyes. “Did she call you at all?”
“No.” Mimi said shaking her head. Shawn Brady looked up at her and shook his head. Jan had found him and he had come over to Mimi’s to confront her.
“I’m going to make come phone calls and I’ll call you right back.” Marlena said hanging up the phone.
“She’s going to make some calls.” Mimi explained to Shawn as she hung up the phone. “This is not like Belle.”
“I know.” Shawn said slumping back into Mimi’s couch. “I just can’t believe what Jan told me.”
“Did you call Sami and see if Belle was running errands for her?” Mimi asked trying to shake the feeling she had. Belle wasn’t ready for kids. If she was pregnant, the reason she was missing now might be because she went to Chicago for an abortion. “I mean maybe it wasn’t for her.”
“Sami said that she hadn’t heard from Belle.” Shawn said shaking his head. “Meems, what if she went for an…”
“I thought about that too.” Mimi said sitting down beside him. “But isn’t Belle against abortion? I mean, she loves kids too much.” The phone rang and she ran to answer it. “Hello?”
“She left Mimi.” Marlena said with a sob. “There was a voice mail at Basic Black saying that she had to leave and she wasn’t coming back.”
“I can’t believe she’s gone.” Shawn sobbed to his father as they sat on the Brady’s couch. “I mean she was the love of my life, my perfect girl.” He whipped at his cheeks to remove the tears the trailed along them.
“I don’t understand it myself.” Bo Brady said to his son. “She seemed so happy lately. Do you have any idea why she left?”
“Jan saw Belle buying a pregnancy test today in the drugstore.” Shawn said cautiously. “Mimi and I are wondering if maybe she was pregnant and she didn’t want anyone to know.”
“Pregnant?” Bo asked trying to remain calm.
“I don’t get it either Dad.” Shawn said realizing his father was starting to get mad. “We used protection every time we did anything and we were never reckless with anything like that.” Thinking of the weekend before when they’d gone camping and they’d made love under the stars, he sighed. “I loved her too much to do anything stupid.”
“I know that sailor man.” Bo said lightly rubbing Shawn’s back. “I just don’t think that this is what everyone thinks. I really don’t think that Belle would do this. Especially if she was pregnant, she knew she could go to you and you’d be there.”
“I guess I didn’t let her know how much I really loved her.” Shawn said climbing up off the couch. “I’m going up to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Everything will be ok Shawn.” Bo said as he watched Shawn start up the stairs. “She’ll come home to you. I know she will.”
* * *
“Yes this is her.” Alexandra Dimera said as she looked at the unconscious Belle who lay on a bed before her. “You guys did a good job.” She smiled at the two young men who stood on the opposite side of the bed.
“Thank you boss, we knew you’d be happy.” Gregory Dimera said smiling at his aunt. “Dad said you’d trust us to do what you wanted.”
“I’m just glad you weren’t seen.” Lexie said smiling at her other nephew. “Everything would have been ruined if you’d been caught.”
“Greg and I took care of the girl while Emma took care of the car.” Jonathan Dimera said smiling at his brother. “She called to say that the car was on its way to Australia, underwater.”
“Very good.” Lexie said smiling again. “I’ll watch Belle while you two get home to your father. Say hello to Tony for me.”
“Night.” The boys said at the same time. They left the room and shut the door with a bang.
The loud noise woke the sleeping Belle. “Where am I?” Belle asked her tone groggy sounding. She looked around the room and tried to sit up, but she was tied down to the bed.
“Hello Isabella.” Lexie said smiling at Belle’s panicked face. “Don’t bother to struggle, you’ll only find that you’re firmly fastened to the bed.”
“Lexie?” Belle asked not sure if she was seeing things right. “What are you doing here?” She tried again to sit up but sure enough she was tied to the bed.
“I’m here to take revenge on your father.” Lexie said in a nasty tone. He helped them take away my son and in return I took his daughter.” She smirked at Belle and let out a little laugh.
“But my dad only did what was right.” Belle said in her fathers’ defense. “I mean the babies were switched and they belonged with the people that they belonged to.”
“Isaac was my son.” Lexie spat. “I loved him and he belonged to me. Not with Hope Brady.”
“Why did you take me?” Belle asked not really understanding Lexies’ motives. “Wouldn’t it have made more sense to take Shawn? I mean his parents have Zac.” Not that she wanted to lose Shawn, but she always thought logically.
“You see, I am hurting the Brady’s.” Lexie explained sitting down beside Belle. “By taking you, Shawn’s life will become a living hell, and in return, so will Bo and Hope’s.”
“Why are you so bitter?” Belle asked wishing Shawn was there to take her home.
“I’m my fathers’ daughter.” Lexie replied heading towards the door. “Don’t you worry Belle; soon everyone will have gotten over your leaving and then you’ll be just a memory for me to dispose of.”
8 months later…
‘I hope I’m doing the right thing.’ Belle thought as she slowly made her way through the thick woods. In her arms she cradled a tiny bundle that whimpered softly at the cold. “It’s ok baby.” She cooed. “We’ll soon find the road and then we’ll go home to daddy.”
“Who’s out there?” A male voice called through the darkness.
“Hello?” Belle called shielding her baby with her arms. “Help me.”
“Stay where you are and I’ll come to you.” He called out. He flipped on his flashlight and shone it on Belle. “Are you ok?”
“I was kidnapped eight months ago.” Belle said she saw the light. “I have a baby with me. I have to get to Salem. I have to get the baby to her father Shawn Brady.”
“Belle Black?” The man said softly. “Is that you?”
“Phillip?” Belle asked realizing who the voice belonged to. “Oh thank god.”
Phillip hurried to her. “I’m so glad you’re safe.” He said pulling her into an embrace. “Your family told us that you’d left.”
“Lexie kidnapped me.” Belle said grateful for the familiar touch of her life long friend Phillip Kiriakis. “I need to get to Shawn.”
“I’ll drive you to him.” Phillip said taking the ragged book bag from her hands and leading her out of the trees. “My car’s in the driveway.”
“Driveway?” Belle asked confused. “But we’re in the middle of nowhere.”
“Belle, you’re in my backyard.” Phillip explained as they entered a lit area. “You must have walked a long way.” He opened up his car door and helped her inside.
“No I didn’t.” Belle said becoming more confused as she talked to Phillip. “Are you telling me that I’ve been close to Salem all this time and I didn’t know it?”
“I guess so.” Phillip said climbing in and starting the car. “When was the baby born?” He pulled slowly along the long driveway of the Kiriakis Mansion.
“This afternoon.” Belle said leaning back into the comfortable seat of Phillips’ Mustang. “At about 1:30, I was alone with Lexie and her special doctors.”
“Belle I should be taking you to a hospital.” Phillip argued as he pulled out onto the road. “You gave birth less than 12 hours ago.”
“I need to see Shawn.” Belle said shaking her head. “I feel like I’ve kept something from him and I want him to know what happened.” She smiled down at the brown haired child she held in her arms.
“I will.” Phillip said as he hurried through the streets of Salem. He knew every turn in the road from his place to Shawn’s and he knew he could get there fast. “Are you ok Belle? I mean have you been hurt in any way.”
“Just a broken heart.” Belle said with a shrug. She looked out the window. “Do you think he’ll believe me? He’s so stubborn, maybe he’ll think that I’m lying.”
“Shawn will be glad to see you and he’ll be fine.” Phillip said shaking his head hoping he wasn’t lying to her. “Um Belle, Shawn had a date tonight. He decided a few weeks ago to move on.”
Belle hung her head at Phillips words. Shawn wasn’t going to be there for her like she hoped. “I figured he would.” She said shaking her head. “I didn’t expect him to hang around forever.”
“He’ll be there for you Belle.” Phillip said as he neared the house. “Do you want me to carry the baby in for you? It might be better if you go in alone first.”
“That’s good idea.” Belle said as Phillip came to a stop in front of the Brady house. “Wait about 10 minutes.” She handed him the baby and headed towards the front door. It was late but the lights were still on. Taking a deep breath she rang the doorbell.
“Coming!” Shawn called as he climbed up off the couch where he and his parents had been watching a movie. He pulled opened the door and gasped. “Belle?” He asked in a whisper. His perfect girl stood there before him, looking as beautiful to him as the day she left.
“Hello Shawn.” Belle said nervously tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. She looked awful and she knew it. She’d only been able to take a pair of sweats and a shirt when she left and now they were muddy and torn from the walking.
“Thank God!” Shawn exclaimed pulling her into his arms. “You’re back.” He kissed the top of her head and pulled her even closer.
“Belle?” Bo asked realizing who she was.
“Hello everyone.” Belle said self-consciously covering her stomach with her hands. She had on tight clothes and she knew that they could see the extra weight. “It’s great to see you all.” She sighed as Shawn continued to hold her. “Especially you. I’ve missed you so much.”
“Where have you been?” Shawn asked letting her go. “You’ve been gone for eight months.”
“I didn’t leave you because I wanted to.” Belle said as she could feel the tears start to form. “Lexie kidnapped me and has been holding me prisoner for the time I’ve been gone.”
“That bitch!” Shawn exclaimed as he watched Phillip get out of the car. “She kept you from me. She should be arrested.”
“She wasn’t the only thing she kept from you.” Belle said as Phillip walked into the house. She took the baby and placed it in Shawn’s arms. “I was pregnant, we have a baby. I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you earlier.”
“Baby?” Shawn asked looking down into the blue eyes that looked up at him. “Jan was telling the truth?”
“Yeah, for once in her life she was telling someone the truth.” Belle said shaking her head in disgust. “I’m sorry you weren’t there for us. I really wish you could have been there to see her being born.”
“Her?” Shawn asked in awe of the little form in his hands. “I have a daughter.” He smiled at Belle before leaning down and giving her a kiss. “We have a daughter.”
“Yes Shawn we have a daughter.” Belle said smiling for the first time in days, other than at the baby. “She’s only nine hours old.”
“Nine hours?” Hope Brady asked from the couch. “Belle Black, get over here and sit down. You should be at the hospital right now, not here.”
“I never was in the hospital.” Belle explained as Shawn led her to the loveseat. He sat her down, handed her the baby and pulled her into his arms. “I gave birth where ever I was being held. They left me alone to bond with her and I left there. It was hard, but I had to get out of there.”
“I understand.” Hope said smiling at her son. He had been depressed since Belle had gone and he looked like he’d won a million dollars. “Can you tell us what happened?”
“It was like this.” Belle said taking a deep breath. And for the next hour she explained what her life had been like since she’d gone shopping at Salem Place on that sunny May afternoon.
“You’re mine Isabella Black!” Lexie’s voice said as it echoed through Belle’s head. “You may have run this time, but remember that you can’t hide forever. That little girl of yours will be mine and you will be left with nothing. Nothing at all for the rest of your life!”
“No!” Belle screamed as she sat up in her bed. She quickly looked around her, instantly becoming relieved that she wasn’t in her room at Lexie’s place, but in the Brady’s guest room. “Baby?” She looked over to the cradle where her child lay sleeping peacefully.
“Belle are you ok?” Shawn asked coming in through her door. He could see fear in her face and he hurried over to her side. “What happened?”
“I had a nightmare.” Belle said with a laugh. What a child she was. “Lexie said that she was coming for our baby.” She looked over at the child again.
“She won’t.” Shawn said pulling her gently into a hug. “You’re here with me now and I’m not letting anyone take you away from me again. Either of you, you’re mine now.” He gave her one of his famous smiles and kissed her lightly.
“Shawn, please don’t.” Belle said pushing him away. She knew he had moved on and she didn’t want him to feel obligated to be with her. “You’ve moved on, don’t make this harder.”
“What?” Shawn asked as his heart skipped a beat. “Belle I moved on because I thought you were never coming back. I didn’t want to see other girls because I love you. Do you hear me Belle? I love you. I want you in my life. I want us to raise our little girl together.” He lifted her chin to he could see her eyes. “Or do you not want me there to help you. If you don’t I guess I could do with visitation. It’s not what I want but I want you to be happy.”
“Shawn, I do want you to be there.” Belle said, her heart breaking at the sadness in his voice. “I just didn’t want you to give up on the lucky girls you were dating.” She gave him a tired smile.
“Belle, I’ve only dated one girl.” Shawn said carefully. He knew this would hurt her, but he hoped she would understand. “I’ve only taken her to movies and dinner. I haven’t even kissed her yet.”
Belle smiled. With every sentence he spoke the tone in his voice became higher and higher. “You dated Mimi didn’t you?” She asked trying not to laugh. Her will power collapsed as his face became pale and he dropped his gaze to her sheets.
“Yeah.” Shawn said instantly wishing he had never done it. Mimi was Belle’s best friend and he had gone out with her. “I’m sorry.”
“What are you sorry for?” Belle asked as her laughing subsided. “I’m glad it was Mimi. At least I knew she wouldn’t badmouth me like Jan would have.”
“I didn’t think you’d take it this well.” Shawn said as she smiled at him. “I really thought you’d be upset because I dated your best friend.”
“Not at all.” Belle said as the baby started to cry. “Hold on.” She hurried to the cradle and carefully pulled the baby to her chest. “Hey there, are you hungry? You must be you haven’t eaten in hours.” She made her way back to the bed. “Um Shawn, I decided to breast feed her. If you want to leave you can.”
“Am I allowed to stay?” Shawn asked raising an eyebrow at her. He didn’t want to miss another minute with them.
“If you want to.” Belle said as he moved to sit behind her. “But it’s not that exciting.” She undid part of her nightshirt and allowed the little girl to attach to her breast. I felt great to have a bond like that with another human being. Great to know that you were needed to help children grow.
“It’s not boring.” Shawn said becoming fascinated with the child whose stomach was being filled by the liquid in Belle’s body. “In fact I quite enjoy watching this.” He leaned her back against his chest and rested his chin on top of her head. “What are we going to name her?”
“I don’t know.” Belle said shaking her head slightly. She had been more concerned with leaving where she was than naming the child. “Maybe it should be something Irish?”
“Grandpa Shawn would like that.” Shawn said smiling at his little girl again. “What about Kathleen? We could call her Kat or Kay for short.”
“I like that.” Belle said nodding her head. “What about Alexandria Grace for the middle ones? I think they all go together very well.”
“I think so too.” Shawn said as a feeling of pride swept across his heart. “Hello Kathleen Alexandria Grace…”
“Brady.” Belle said as Shawn stumbled on his words. “She’s a Brady. Just like her daddy.”
A small sob escaped Shawn’s throat as he heard Belle address him as daddy. “That’s right angel, I’m your daddy and I’ll always be here for you.” He said as a single tear fell from his cheek onto Belle’s hair. “And for your mommy.”
“I love you Shawn.” Belle said as she started to cry. “I’ve wanted to be here in your arms for so long. I never wanted to be away from you, especially while I was pregnant. Lexie robbed you of something that is sacred and it’s not fair.”
“She’ll get what’s coming to her.” Shawn said kissing the top of her head. “Dad and Uncle Roman will make sure she’s caught and sent to jail for what she did to you.”
“I hope so.” Belle said as Kathleen stopped sucking and slipped back into sleep. “I’m going to put her down and then go and take a shower.” She said as she climbed off the bed.
“I’ll stay here and watch her.” Shawn offered as he watched her button up her shirt. “That way you don’t have to worry about what’s happening to her while you’re in the bathroom.”
“Thanks.” Belle said as she headed out into the hall. “You’re going to be a great dad Shawn Brady, one of the best.”
“Belle!” Marlena called as she entered the Brady’s house. She searched the room for her little girl. Hope had called her at dawn and told her what had happened and she had come over as soon as she could.
“Mom.” Belle exclaimed as she hurried in through the kitchen door. She flung herself into her mothers’ arms and sobbed. “I’ve missed you so much.”
“Oh my baby girl.” Marlena sobbed as she held Belle in a tight embrace. “I’m so glad you’re safe.”
“I am Mom.” Belle said as she heard Kathleen cry. “Shawn can you bring her down?” Belle called up the stairs. “My mom is here.”
“Sure.” Shawn called back as he scooped the little girl into his arms. He had been changing her diaper when she had started to cry and was more than glad to have a reason to pick her up. “Let’s go see your Grandma Marlena.”
“I’m so sorry you had to go through this alone.” Marlena said as she and Belle sat together on the Brady couch. “I really wish we’d have realized that you hadn’t left the note. Bo did but your father and I were too shocked to think about it. But now we have our little girl back.”
“I’m glad to be back.” Belle said as Shawn walked onto the landing. “Hope told you everything right? I mean everything?”
“If you’re talking about the baby, yes she told me.” Marlena said as she watched Shawn come towards them carrying a brown haired child. “Can I hold her?” She asked quietly.
“Of course you can.” Shawn said placing the baby into Marlena’s arms. “Isn’t she beautiful?”
“She is.” Marlena said as tears started to flow down her cheeks. “Hello there little one, I’m your grandma.” She smiled at her daughter. She had been disappointed to hear that at 19 Belle had a child but seeing the little girl made her feel nothing but pride. “What’s her name?”
“Kathleen Alexandria Grace Brady.” Belle said as she watched her mother whisper softly to her daughter. “We thought something Irish would be nice.”
“I like it.” Marlena said kissing the baby’s head lightly. “And you kept the Grace tradition. That makes me very happy.”
“I knew it would.” Belle said smiling at Shawn who was beaming at his daughter. “I couldn’t break the tradition after what 8 generations now could i?”
“I guess not.” Marlena said as Kathleen yawned. “So when are you coming home?”
“Home?” Belle asked confused. “What do you mean?”
“When will you be coming back to the penthouse?” Marlena asked as Shawn took the baby from her. “I need to know when I have to have your room ready by.”
“She’s not going back to the penthouse.” Shawn said pulling Belle to him with his free arm. “She and Kathleen are staying with me.” He held onto the baby with a strong but gentile grip.
“That’s nice of you Shawn but you live at home and are going to college.” Marlena said in her gentile but professional tone. “It makes more sense for Belle to come back with us so we can help her take care of the baby. You’re welcome to visit anytime, as long as you call first.”
“What?” Shawn asked as Belle held onto him tightly. “I have to call before coming to see my daughter? No way! Belle is staying here with me. If I have to drop out of school to make that happen it will.”
“There’s no need for you to do that Shawn.” Bo said as he came in out of the kitchen. He and Hope had agreed to leave Belle and her mother alone but when they heard shouting they knew something was wrong. “Belle and the baby can stay here. Hope and I are more than ready to have them. We already have most of the baby stuff and the extra rooms.”
“It’s nice of you to offer but I think Belle would be more comfortable at home with her father and I.” Marlena said looking at Belle. “She hasn’t been there for a long time and we’d like to spend time with her before she starts school in the fall.”
“I want to be with Shawn.” Belle said as he held onto her protectively. “We have a baby together, I can’t leave him.”
“You can Isabella.” Marlena said sternly. “And it’s for the best. Actually it’s for the best that you come with me now. That way we can get the things that you need for the baby.”
“I’m not leaving!” Belle said sternly. “I’m 19 years old now mother; I have the right to decide my own future.” Kathleen started to cry and Belle took her from Shawn. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go feed her daughter.”
“Don’t do this Belle.” Marlena called after her daughter. “Do you want to end up poor and unhappy for the rest of your life? Well that’s what you’re setting yourself up for.”
“Get out!” Bo said in his deep voice. “I don’t want you here if you’re going to bad mouth my son. When Belle is ready to talk to you she’ll call.” He led Marlena out the door and left her on the step. He turned back to Shawn who looked like he had been hit by a train. “Don’t listen to her son. You’ll make Belle happy and be able to take care of her and Kathleen in a comfortable way. You’re a Brady, you’re strong.”
“Thanks Dad.” Shawn said smiling at his father. “I will take care of my family. And no one can keep me from doing it.”
“Are you ok?” Shawn asked as he walked into the guest room where Belle was feeding Kathleen. “I’m sorry for what your mom said to you.”
“It’s not your fault.” Belle said giving him a smile. “She’s a mom and I can see where she is coming from. I mean I wouldn’t want Kathleen to move away for any reason.”
“But she had no right to tell you what to do.” Shawn said sitting down on the bed across from the rocking chair that she was sitting in. “I mean you’re an adult now.”
“I know.” Belle said as Kathleen stopped feeding. “But she thinks that she knows what’s best for me and I know that it’s hard for her to accept that she doesn’t need to run my life anymore. But she’ll get over it.”
“I hope you’re right.” Shawn said as Belle fastened up her shirt. “I don’t want the two of you to leave me again. I love you both too much for that.”
“Well we love you too.” Belle said as she turned to place Kathleen in her cradle. “And let’s just say that I’m relieved you didn’t turn away from us. I know you always said that you’d be there if it happened but under the circumstances I didn’t think you’d live up to it.”
“I’ll always be here for you Belle.” Shawn said as she joined him on the bed. “I’m a Brady and I have expectations to live up to and I will. I’ll love you forever and be with you forever and I’ll die to protect you two.” He kissed her softly. “I love you Isabella.”
“I love you too Shawn Douglas.” Belle said kissing him back. It felt so good to be near him again and she only wished she could take everything further. “We have something’s to talk about.”
“Like what?” Shawn asked as his body screamed at him for more of her.
“Getting her baptized.” Belle said with out hesitation. “I know she was just born yesterday but I’ve got a strange feeling that we shouldn’t wait too long. I don’t know what it is but I really want to get it done.”
“I agree with you completely.” Shawn said stroking her cheek with his finger tips. “She should be done as soon as possible.”
“Let’s ask your mom to watch her and go over and see Father Mike.” Belle said eagerly. “Maybe he can do it next week.”
“He did Zac right away for my parents.” Shawn said hopefully. “I guess he could do it for us. I bet they’d do it right away. Do you realize that the Black and Brady families are now really joined by blood? What a party that could be.” He gave her one of his special smiles.
“You’re right.” Belle said smiling and getting up off the bed. “Let’s got now while she’s asleep. I’d like to see Mimi and Chloe today too. Did you call Mimi and let her know what happened?”
“Yeah.” Shawn said nodding his head. “She was too excited about you being back to care about being dumped by me.” He smiled thinking of Mimi’s squeals when he told her Belle was back. “I think I’ll need a hearing aid in my left ear after that phone call.”
“I’m worried about something though.” Belle said as they left the bedroom. “Won’t it be awkward between you and Mimi now? I mean can you two handle it?”
“It was just dating Belle.” Shawn said as they started down the stairs. “Not like us, we were going out.”
“Were?” Belle asked cautiously.
“Sorry, we are going out.” Shawn said blushing. “I’m still not used to you being home. I thought you’d left me so I said that we’d broken up.”
“It’s ok.” Belle said taking his hand in hers. “I’m here now and that’s all that matters.”
“That’s right.” Shawn said smiling at her touch. “My missing love has come home.”
“You’re telling me she won’t come home?” John Black asked his wife.
“She wants to be with Shawn as they raise the baby.” Marlena replied leaning back into the armchair. “She doesn’t want to take her away from Shawn. I wish she’d come to her senses. Shawn cannot support a baby while going to school and it’s not right for Bo and Hope to do it. She’s our daughter, and our responsibility.”
“I guess there is no way of convincing Belle to put the baby up for adoption is there?” John asked sipping his brandy.
“Not in my eyes.” Marlena said shaking her head. “I thought we raised Belle better than that. I mean she managed to get herself pregnant and she refuses to do things to make the mistake easier on everyone.”
“I’m going to talk to her later about putting the baby up.” John said placing his empty glass down on the coffee table. “She’ll see that it’s for the best sooner or later and I hope its sooner so she doesn’t become too attached to the child.”
“Why can’t she keep her?” Marlena asked thinking of the little girl she had held in her arms earlier. “I mean it seems rather cruel to make her give the baby up when she’s already had time with her. I just want her to come home.”
“Do you think she’ll really come home if she still has the baby?” John asked reaching for the flask of brandy. “She’s a dreamer, that girl. She thinks that Shawn will take care of her if she stays with him. I think that he’ll eventually leave her. His type never sticks around.”
“But Shawn isn’t that type.” Marlena said shaking her head. “He’s the type to do what ever he sees as the responsible thing and he never runs from his mistakes.”
“We’ll see what Mr. Brady will do.” John said sipping the fresh brandy. “I’m going to see Belle now. I’ll take her out shopping; she must still like to do that.”
“Knowing our Belle, she’ll shop to the day she dies.” Marlena said with a smile. “She’ll never change that much.”
* * *
Three months later in April…
“What name do you give this child?” Father Mike asked Belle and Shawn as they stood at the baptismal font.
“Kathleen Alexandria Grace Brady.” Shawn said smiling at Belle.
Father Mike turned to Mimi and Phillip who stood waiting to be named god parents. He smiled at them before continuing the service.
* * *
“Hey Belle!” Shawn called out over the noise in the Brady pub. “Over here!” He waved his hands in the air until she saw him and came through the crowd carrying Kathleen.
“What a crowd.” Belle commented as she came to rest against his side. Nearly every Brady, Horton and Black family member had come to attend the service and the party. “I didn’t know we had this much family.”
“Me neither.” Shawn said kissing Belle’s head. “But it’s just one big happy family now. We’re all joined by blood and that’s the way it should be.”
“Can I have your attention please?” Shawn Brady Sr. called out over the crowd in his Irish accent. “I’d like to have a toast to our newest family member.” He raised his glass signaling the toast. “And on the return of our precious Belle.”
“To Kathleen and Belle.” Bo said raising his glass with a smile. The fact that his son was a father wasn’t on his mind; the fact that he had a granddaughter was his main focal point. “May they always be Brady’s by name and heart.”
“Hear hear!” The crowd exclaimed as they touched glasses.
“This is so great.” Mimi said coming up beside her best friend. “I’m so glad you’re back. And I’m very glad you brought this little one with you.” She touched Kathleen’s nose and the baby giggled at her. “You’re such a happy baby.”
“And very easy to take care of.” Belle said smiling at Mimi. “She started sleeping all night about a week ago. It’s a lot easier on me.”
“I’m going to ask a personal question.” Mimi warned her friends. “Are you still living in the Brady’s guest room?” She brushed a lock of her strawberry blonde hair out of her eyes.
“Yeah.” Shawn said with a frown. “My parents don’t want Zac to see us sleeping in the same room. I can see where they are coming from but it’s a pain.”
“Going through a little withdrawal?” Brady Black asked coming up behind Shawn. He hadn’t been thrilled when he heard his little sister had given birth to Shawn Brady’s baby, but little Kathleen made it hard to stay mad at him. “It’s been how long since you’ve had any?”
“Brady!” Belle exclaimed reaching out and smacking him.
“Sorry tink.” Brady said blushing.
“Almost a year.” Shawn said as Belle glared at him. “What?” He asked her shrugging his shoulders. “It’s not like I’m telling him what it was like only how long since I’ve had the pleasure of loving you with my heart and body.”
“Shut up.” Brady moaned as he covered his ears.
Seeing what Shawn’s plan had been Belle burst out laughing. “Oh Brady, get used to it.” She said as Kathleen started to giggle. “Look even your niece knows that was funny.”
“My niece thinks that her mommy has a pretty voice so she smiled and laughs when she hears you.” Brady said pointing a finger at Belle. “Your voice has changed since you left.”
“When you’re locked in a room by yourself for eight months you learn to sing along with the radio.” Belle said sticking her tongue out at her brother.
“Kathleen, don’t watch your parents when they act like this.” Mimi said covering the little girls eyes with her hand. Kathleen responded by grabbing Mimi’s hand and chewing on it.
“I think that she has other ideas.” Belle said with a laugh. “I think I should take her upstairs and feed her.” She started towards the stairs when her father interrupted her.
“Can I talk to you?” John asked stepping in her path.
“I’m on my way up to feed Kay.” Belle said as the baby started to fuss. “She’s getting hungry.”
“This is important.” John said in a serious tone.
“Come up with me.” Belle said stepping around him and heading up the stairs into Shawns’ grandparents’ house. She sat down in one of the armchairs, covered herself with a receiving blanket and started to feed the baby. “What’s on your mind?”
“You.” John said sitting in a chair opposite Belle. “Do you have any idea what you’re doing?” He shifted so his gaze wasn’t on his daughter.
“I’m raising my daughter with Shawn.” Belle said relaxing as Kathleen started to feed. “And I’m happy doing it. Why?”
“Your mother and I think you should place Kathleen with an adoption agency and go to college.” John said in his no nonsense tone. “It’s for the best.”
“No it’s not.” Belle yelled shocked at what her father had said. “I love my daughter and Shawn. I’m not giving her to another person because I have no reason to.”
“Isabella, you will give the child up for adoption.” John said standing up. “You will not argue with me on this subject. I will come over tomorrow with an agent.”
“No way!” Belle screamed pulling Kathleen closer to her chest. “I’m not giving up my daughter and you’re not taking her from me.”
“This topic is not open for discussion.” John boomed as he rose from his chair. “You and Shawn can have one more night with the child, them she will become property of the state.” He took a step towards Belle.
“Get away!” She screamed as she clutched Kathleen so tight she started to cry. “Shawn! Shawn!”
Shawn, Phillip and Brady dashed up the stairs as they heard Belle’s cries. “What the hell is going on up here?” Shawn asked as he hurried over to Belle, who by now had tears streaming down her cheeks. “Tell me damn it!”
“The issue is closed, Isabella.” John said as he started down the stairs. “I’ll be over first thing in the morning.”
“He’s coming for her.” Belle gasped as Shawn pried Kathleen out of her grasp. “He’s taking her away.”
“Who is?” Brady asked clenching his jaw. No one upsets his sister and gets away with it. “Belle, who?”
“Dad.” Belle said sharply as Phillip took Kathleen. “He’s taking her and having her put up for adoption.” She turned and sobbed into Shawn’s chest. “Tomorrow morning.”
“He can’t do that!” Shawn exclaimed stroking Belle’s cheek with his hand. “She’s our baby and we’re adults.”
“Don’t let him take our baby Shawn.” Belle said as her sobs turned to hiccups. “She’s ours, we can’t lose her.:”
“We won’t lose her.” Shawn said looking to Brady for help. “She’s ours and she’ll stay that way, forever.” He kissed her lightly.
“I’ll talk to him Tink.” Brady said storming out of the room.
“Everything will be fine.” Shawn said silently cursing John in his head. “I’ll always take care of you. Always.”