He stared at the report for the longest time not saying a word.
“What does it say, Shawn?” Mimi asked anxiously.
Shawn looked at his father, his eyes filled with sorrow and then he turned to his wife. “Mimi, why don’t you sit down?”
Mimi pulled away from him and began to cry. “Your Claire’s father, aren’t you?”
“Mimi, please just sit down …” Shawn looked over at his father. “Could you give us some privacy, Dad?”
“Sure, Sailor Man. I’ll be right outside if either of you needs me,” he said compassionately.
Mimi was practically jumping out of her skin. She waited until Bo shut the door to Roman’s office at the police station before trying to grab the report from Shawn’s hand. “Damn it, just tell me already.”
He tried to take her in his arms but she shoved him back.
“Tell me,” she screamed.
“The report says I’m Claire’s father,” he said softly. He watched as her beautiful green eyes filled with a fresh batch of tears and her shoulders slumped. It was like watching the air slowly leaking out of a balloon.
Mimi brushed her tears away and squared her shoulders. “I’ll go home and pack.”
“What?” he asked in a shocked voice.
“You’ll want to be with Belle now. Don’t bother denying it. I’ve always known that when you found out Claire was yours that you would leave me for her. Hell, I’ve always known that she’s the one you love, not me.”
Shawn was reeling. “What … Why would you … Wait … You sound like you knew Claire was my daughter.”
“Oh, don’t acted so surprised, Shawn. I asked both of you that night you were brought in from the barn if it was possible that you had sex. Both of you denied it. Then when we found out Belle was pregnant, I asked you both again. And when … when Claire was sick and your blood matched I asked you once again but you yelled at me and told me it wasn’t possible. I’ve always believed you were Claire’s father.”
Shawn’s anger rose. “You suspected all along that I was Claire’s father and you never told me?”
Mimi rolled her eyes. “You don’t listen well, do you? I just listed all the times I tried to tell you. I mentioned it to Belle as well but she just got on her high horse and told me she would never cheat on her husband. Well we both know what a load of crap that is, don’t we?”
“Now what are you talking about?” he asked.
“Where do I start? Belle was unfaithful to Philip on their wedding night. You remember that, don’t you, Shawn? Correct me if I’m wrong, but you were there helping her be unfaithful.”
He flushed. “We loved each other.”
“That’s no excuse for you to put the moves on a married woman or for that woman to cheat on her husband. Belle never trusted in your love Shawn that is why she turned to Philip the second you left town.”
“You’re one to talk about trusting my love,” he spat out, his anger getting the better of him. “You said I don’t love you when I keep telling you I do.”
“Your actions speak louder than your words, Shawn.”
“What the hell are you talking about now?”
“Every time I turned around there you were with Belle huddled in private conversations. Every time she said she needed you, you dropped whatever you were doing and ran off to do her bidding. You even let her interrupt our honeymoon!”
“I’m not finished,” Mimi said. “The night before our wedding, Shawn … do you remember that night?”
“Sure. Belle stayed with you and I stayed with Phil and had a few beers with him.”
“So you had a few beers with Phil and then slept the night away?”
“Pretty much. Oh, I did wake up to feed Claire. Phil was pretty much out of it,” he answered but he couldn’t meet her eyes. He was beginning to feel uneasy and off balance.
“You were never going to tell me, were you?” Mimi asked as disappointment washed over her.
“Tell you what?”
“About you and Belle meeting up on the roof the night before our wedding. I heard it all, Shawn. I heard her tell you that she loved you, that she was going to leave Philip. She begged you not to marry me.”
“Then you heard what I said. I said no because I love you and I wanted to marry you.”
“No, you didn’t,” Mimi said belligerently. “You told her that you wouldn’t be responsible for breaking up a family. Claire deserved to be with both her mother and father. You never once said to Belle no I don’t love you any longer, I love Mimi. You’re my past. She is my future. All you said is that she asked you to move on and that is what you were doing. And that’s not the only time. I can’t even count how many times I heard that same conversation between the two of you. Never once Shawn did you tell Belle that you loved me, heart, body and soul. Not once,” she said sadly.
“I … I ... I’m sure I told her I loved you,” he said defensively.
“Not anytime I overheard the two of you. And don’t worry, Belle made sure to rub it my face every chance she got that you only married me because she wasn’t available.”
“Belle and I have a bond because of our shared past. I didn’t think the fact that we spend time together bothered you,” he said.
“She was married, Shawn. Hell. She still is married and so are you. A little fact the both of you keep forgetting.”
“You’re talking about the kiss in the hospital … I explained that to you,” Shawn said wearily.
“Oh, yeah. You were both overcome with emotion. Worried about your baby. Hmm. So now you have two babies. One you don’t remember conceiving and one because of a screw-up in a fertility lab. Bull-honky, Shawn. You kissed her because you still love her. Well, I’ll make it easy on you. You can have an annulment, a divorce whatever … I won’t contest it and I won’t ask for anything.”
“Mimi … wait,” he called out as she opened the door and slammed it behind her.
Bo looked up as Shawn rushed out the door. “She went that way, son,” he pointed to the street exit.
“Thanks,” he yelled as he ran to the door. He got to Mimi just as she reached their car. “Please just go home and wait for me. I have to take care of something.”
Mimi hung her head. “Why should I bother? It will be harder to leave if you’re there.”
“I don’t want you to leave,” he said softly lifting her chin so he could look into her eyes. “I love you, Mimi. Just let me make things right.”
She was so confused. He sounded sincere but didn’t he always? She loved him so much but she was tired of waiting for him to leave her. Wouldn’t it be better if she did the leaving? But could she … did she have the strength to walk away? Yes … Yes … she could do it … but what if he really meant what he said. What if he does want to make things right? Should I just turn my back on my love for him and walk away. No. I can’t deny my love. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to prove to you that you and only you, Miriam Lockhart Brady, are the only woman I love. The woman who has my heart and soul.” He kissed her soundly and then helped her into the car. “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”
Five hours later the phone rang. Mimi stared at it for the longest moment before picking it up. She had pulled out her suitcases half a dozen times already and just as many times she had put them back in the closet. She had paced until she was exhausted. She was ready to scream with frustration and anxiety. “Hello,” she barked into the phone.
“Oh thank God, you’re still there,” Shawn said.
“I said I would wait,” she answered.
“We’re on our way home. Do me a favour please, babe. Call your mother and my mom and dad and ask them to get to our place as quickly as possible. Tell them it’s urgent.”
“What do you mean, we?” she asked. “Shawn … Shawn … hell, he hung up already.” She did what he asked and made the calls.
Fifteen minutes later Shawn came through the front door. “Are they coming?”
Mimi looked annoyed. “What? No hi, honey I’m home.”
Shawn grinned. “Hi, honey. I’m home. How about a kiss?”
Mimi gave him a strange look but before she could respond there was a knock on their door.
Shawn opened the door and let Bonnie in.
“What’s going on, Mimi? What’s wrong?”
Mimi pointed to Shawn. “You’re going to have to ask your son-in-law who probably won’t be your son-in-law much longer.”
“What do you mean?” Hope asked she came through the open door with Bo. “Is this why you asked us here? Your marriage is over?”
“No, our marriage is not over. Not if I have any say in the matter,” Shawn answered firmly. “I wanted you over here because the results of the paternity test came back.”
“He’s Claire’s father,” Mimi stated in a matter of fact voice.
“Oh no. You scum. You’re dumping my Meems to go play house with that blonde bitch,” Bonnie snarled at Shawn. She turned to Mimi, “You take him for everything, Meems. He has no …”
“Mom,” Mimi screamed. “I don’t want anything from him. All I’ve ever wanted is for him to love me the way I love him.”
“Bonnie … Mom,” Shawn placated, “I love your daughter. You need to stop feeding into her low self esteem. So do I. Mimi is a beautiful, vibrant, strong woman and I’m proud to call her my wife.”
Bo smiled at Hope and returned her wink.
Bonnie and Mimi both stared at Shawn in shock.
“Now that everyone is here it’s time to go over to Philip and Belle’s,” Shawn said. “Let Philip and I do all the talking please. I know that it will be hard for you to stay silent Mimi but I promise you can have your say when we’re done,” he smiled at her.
“Philip?” What does he have to do with this besides the fact that he believes he is Claire’s father?” Mimi asked curiously.
“All will become clear, I promise. He’s waiting for us. John and Marlena should be there by now.”
“They are. We came up in the elevator with them,” Bo said.
Shawn took Mimi’s hand in his and led the way across the hall.
Philip slid the door open. “Hey, man. I was wondering when you were going to get over here.”
Belle looked over Philip’s shoulder. “Shawn, Mimi, what are you doing here?”
“The two of you have our attention,” John stated. “Philip called and said that he and Shawn had something important to tell us all.”
“You do?” Belle asked, her hopes soaring as she noticed that Shawn was holding a file with Claire’s name on it.
“I think you all know that when I drank myself into a coma,” Shawn said with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, “Chelsea left Claire’s medical file in my room so that I would read the DNA report that stated I was Claire’s father.”
“But we all agreed that it couldn’t be true because you and I never slept together,” Belle interjected quickly.
“That’s what you were counting on Belle, wasn’t it?” Shawn asked, watching her eyes.
Belle’s mouth dropped open and she stared at Shawn not saying anything.
“You knew that I hated Chelsea and would want to have her punished for altering a medical file. You knew that the only way that Chelsea could be convicted was if I had a DNA test done at the police’s request. You also knew that the test would come back stating that I was Claire’s father.”
“Oh come on, Shawn, how can you say that? How could Izzy possibly know that you were Claire’s father when she believed the two of you were never together?”
“She could know it, John because she paid the lab technician to change the test results,” Philip stated dramatically.
“That’s a lie!” Belle screamed and turned into her father’s arms. “Daddy, make him take it back.”
“Philip …” John threatened.
“We have proof, John. Irrefutable proof,” Shawn added.
“That’s impossible,” Belle protested. “Mimi put you up to this. Her and her good-for-nothing mother. They both know that you and I belong together, Shawn. Now that we know Claire is our daughter we can be a family finally. This is how it was meant to be.” She turned to Philip. “I’m sorry, I do love you but not the way I love Shawn. I’m sure Shawn got what he needed from Mimi but I know that he doesn’t love her the way he loves me. I want a divorce.”
“That’s no problem, Belle. I’ve already talked to Gene Briscoe. He’s drawing up the petition as we speak and just so that this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone here I am suing for full custody of my daughter.
Belle rushed to Shawn and grabbed his hands. “You aren’t going to let him take our daughter away from us, are you, Shawn? We’ll make sure that Philip has no access to her at all. She’s ours.” She rubbed her belly. “She’s going to be this one’s big sister.”
Shawn untangled his hands from Belle’s and stepped next to Mimi, wrapping one arm around her waist and pulling her close. “Whether or not Claire was my biological daughter I would never prevent Philip from seeing her. He’s the only father she has known. He has raised her since the day she was born. He looked after her when you were incapable or just couldn’t be bothered with her.”
“You can’t mean that. You’re not going to let Philip spend time with our daughter,” Belle blustered.
“You’re right, Belle. I’m not going to let Philip spend time with our daughter …”
Belle threw herself at Shawn, pushing Mimi aside. “I knew it … I knew it.” She looked at Mimi triumphantly. “Shawn is going to be moving in with me tonight. If you don’t like it I suggest you move back in with your mother.”
“Belle,” Marlena protested.
Philip shook his head. “Don’t worry, Mom. We’ll handle this.”
Belle snarled at Philip. “Don’t call her Mom, you don’t have the right. I don’t want to be married to you any more now that I know I’m going to have Shawn.”
Mimi took a step towards Belle, her fists clenched.
“Don’t,” Shawn said. “I’ll take care of this.”
“I’d like to rip her face off,” Mimi hissed under her breath.
Shawn had to put his hand up to his mouth to hide the smile that broke out across his face.
“Did you say something, Meems?” Belle asked smugly. “Didn’t I tell you that Shawn only married you because he couldn’t be with me? You were nothing more than a convenient roll in …”
“Belle,” John thundered. “Don’t talk like that to your best friend.”
“She’s no friend of mind. She stole Shawn from me.”
“How could she steal me from you, Belle? You were married to Philip before Mimi and I started dating,” Shawn stated in a cold voice.
“You know my marriage didn’t mean anything to me. You know I’ve always loved you.”
“How would I know that, Belle? You chose Philip over me and our love time and time again. You were more concerned about your image or what Philip would think than you were about my feelings.”
“But that’s the past. Now we can be together. Claire is your child, our child.”
Philip reached for a briefcase. “Actually Claire is my daughter. After Shawn’s sample that was taken by the police was sent to the hospital lab for testing, Shawn came to see me. We had a long talk. When it was over we took Claire with us to an independent lab and had them take DNA samples from both of us and Claire. The results show that I am Claire’s biological father. A fact you’ve always known, Belle.”
“Of course I’ve always believed you to be Claire’s father, why would I doubt it? There was no question about her paternity until Chelsea left the file in Shawn’s hospital room. But now we know that what Mimi suspected was true. Shawn and I did make love that night in the barn and our love created Claire.”
“That’s not exactly true, Belle,” Philip said as be pulled out a stack of legal looking papers. “These are sworn statements from three different doctors stating that you discussed the possibility of a man being able to perform sexually while suffering from hypothermia. They all told you the same thing, it wasn’t possible.”
Belle opened her mouth but Philip wouldn’t let her talk. “Three days after your last visit to a doctor you approached a lab technician and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. You knew she needed money for a life-saving operation for her four year old son that her insurance carrier wouldn’t cover.”
“You have concrete proof of this?” Bo asked.
Shawn looked at Philip and got the go ahead to continue. “The lab tech wasn’t stupid. She made sure she got Belle to state exactly what she wanted her to do when Belle was paying her off. Belle didn’t realise the room they were in was equipped with surveillance cameras. Belle paid for a false DNA report and than made sure the lab tech placed it where Chelsea would see it. Belle knew that I would agree to have a DNA test done if the police needed it to press charges against Chelsea so she paid a visit to the lab tech and paid her to falsify the report.”
“Did you do this, Belle?” Marlena asked horrified by what she was hearing.
“I did it for our family, Mom. Shawn and I and this little baby of his that I’m carrying deserve to be a family. Shawn already loves Claire like she was his own and you know that I’ve always wished that Shawn was her father. I never wanted Philip to father any of my children. It’s best this way.”
“Belle, you can’t mess with people’s lives this way and think that there won’t be any consequences,” Marlena stated in a shocked voice. “What you did was wrong, very wrong and illegal.”
“Sami did it, more than once,” Belle shrugged. “It’s not like it’s a big deal, or anything. The lab technician got what she wanted and I got what I wanted.” She paused and then turned to Philip with hate in her eyes. “Or I almost got what I wanted. Why did you have to go and get a DNA test done? You were the one that said it wasn’t necessary.”
“Shawn heard you in his hospital room, Belle. After he was released and was feeling a little stronger. He told me everything.”
“Shawn couldn’t hear anything. He was in a coma,” Belle protested.
“I heard you talking to the lab technician. I knew the DNA records were falsified. I couldn’t believe that you would do something so hurtful so I let it play out. I let the police take my DNA sample hoping against hope that you would change your mind and do the right thing. But you didn’t,” Shawn said forlornly. “I don’t know you any more, Belle. I don’t want to know you …”
Belle pounded her fists against his chests, crying, “Don’t say that. I’m having your baby. You and I belong together and we will be together. I made sure of that.”
“We know you did, Belle. The truth of the matter is that your little plot to end up carrying Shawn’s child backfired on you. You thought that when you switched the lids on the petrie dishes that Shawn’s sperm would end up fertilizing your egg because the lid had Mimi’s name on it. What you don’t know is that Jan Spears who none of us knew had come out of her coma had already switched them. You switched them back. After the fertilization Jan once again beat you to the punch and switched the lids. So in fact you are carrying my child and the surrogate is carrying Shawn and Mimi’s child. This is all captured on the surveillance disk and time stamped. Belle once again paid the lab technician to falsify reports so Dr. Jaynes would believe that Shawn and Belle and Mimi and I were the ones having babies,” Philip explained.
“No … no … that’s not possible,” Belle said in a shocked voice her hands resting protectively over her belly. “No, this is Shawn’s baby. It has to be.”
“I’ve also asked for full custody of the unborn child as well. I wanted you to know that, Mr. and Mrs. Black. I don’t think they would be safe with Belle. She’s clearly unstable.”
“I agree that Belle needs help but to take her children away,” Marlena protested.
“Who knows? Maybe in time if I’m convinced she’s better I’ll let her see them. You heard her. She doesn’t want any children fathered by me. The fact that she resents her children because of who their biological father is will have an adverse effect on my children. I won’t let that happen.”
“I can understand that, Philip. We’ll see to it that Belle gets the help she needs,” John said.
Belle rounded on her parents. “Are you both crazy? All I need is Shawn. Shawn is mine. He will always be mine.”
“I think Shawn hasn’t been yours for a long time, Belle. You need to let go of your past with him so that you can move on with your life,” Hope said gently. “Look at them. The love that Shawn has for Mimi can be seen by everyone around them. I know Mimi may have her doubts that perhaps all of us have fed into at one time or another but she doesn’t need to worry.”
“You’re right, Mom,” Shawn said as he turned to Mimi. “I didn’t expect to fall in love with you. It took me by surprise. But oh my, what a joyous, wonderful surprise. I have never loved a woman the way I love you. What Belle and I had was a beautiful first love but the love I have for you is a lifetime love of a man for his woman. His one and only woman.”
“Oh, Shawn,” Mimi whispered as she drew his head down and kissed him passionately.
Bo and John held back Belle as she screamed, “Get away from my man … he’s mine … he’s mine,” she sobbed.
Marlena picked up the phone and made a call to 911. “We’re going to have her admitted for a psychiatric evaluation, Philip. Would you like to come with us?”
“I’m going to be busy packing up mine and Claire’s things. We’re moving to the mansion today. You’ll make sure that nothing is done to harm my child that Belle is carrying, won’t you?”
“We have to pack as well, sweetheart,” Shawn announced. “As you know the surrogate and her husband are moving to Rome. Titan Industries has agreed to relocate us to Rome so we can be there when our baby is born. I’ll have to do some promotional tours to hype the new turbo engine but Philip and Grandpa Vic have ensured me that they will give you a job so you can be with me.”
“We’re going to miss you both, honey,” Hope said as she hugged Shawn and then Mimi. “You will call and email often, won’t you?”
“Of course, Mom,” Mimi said.
“We’ll come home once our baby is born but we’ll be looking for a house to buy. We won’t be moving back into the loft,” Shawn said.
“No, you can’t leave me, Shawn,” Belle cried.
Just then the paramedics arrived and within minutes John and Marlena had helped them remove a kicking and screaming Belle from the premises.
Philip looked at Shawn. “Thanks buddy. I didn’t want to believe it when you told me what Belle said in your hospital room. I still love her. I hope that she can get the help she needs. I have to move on for my sake and the sake of my children.”
Hugs were exchanged by all. Shawn and Mimi said their tearful goodbye’s to their parents and then shut the door behind them after promising faithfully that they would stop in and say goodbye to Alice before they left. They were taking the Titan jet to Rome later that night.
Shawn locked the door, a passionate gleam in his eye. “Come here, Mrs. Brady,” he smirked.
Mimi recognised the look in his eye. “We should start packing.”
“It can wait,” he murmured against her lips as he picked her up and carried her to their bedroom.