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Can Time Really Heal?

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Sorry it took so long, there was actually meant to be more of this chapter but i'm going out in a minute so i wanted to give you at least a bit. (btw it really helps if you actually ask for an update cos it really makes me want to write! lol so thanks :P)

sorry for any mistakes; i have to dash off.

In this chapter i have mentioned an organisation which does actually exist so i'm hoping that doesn't actually breach any kind of rules.

Warning: Mention of sexual abuse.

Chapter 10.

Aden walked into the diner at ten to four on Thursday, making sure he got there before Gavin so he could meet Belle.

"Hey," he said as he approached the counter and saw her standing there with her apron on. "I didn't realise you were working today… I'd understand if you can't…"

"Aden," Belle stopped him. "Irene said it was okay for me to take my break when Gavin gets here."

Aden smiled, "Okay, cool, can I have a coffee while I wait?"

"Sure," Belle told him and got a cup to go and make it, "…on me."

Aden didn't bother arguing; he felt it was very un-gentlemanly of him to accept her offer but he knew she wouldn't accept his money so there was no point in trying.

"Thanks," he said accepting the coffee she had become adept at making quickly.

"So, how's school going?" Belle asked him.

Aden looked at her confused, "…how'd you know I'd gone back to school?"

"Uh, Aden," Belle said laughing and looking him up or down so he realised he was in his school uniform. "What are they teaching you at that place?"

Aden laughed, "Yeah, sorry, I guess I'm just a bit nervous."

Belle looked at him seriously, "Are you sure you want to do this, Aden, no one would blame you for backing out now?"

"Yeah, I'm sure, I've been thinking about it for a long time and I think it's the right thing to do."

Belle smiled at him empathetically, "…well, as long as you're sure. So… how is school?"

"Good," he answered her; nodding gently, "…weird, but good."

"How are the…" Belle started but was interrupted by Gavin.

"Hello, can I get a cup of coffee please Belle?" he asked her as though she were his personal servant.

"Coming right up, Gavin," Belle said in a sickly sweet voice. She entered the kitchen and made the coffee, she eyed it up and decided she just couldn't resist.

"There you go, Gavin," she handed him the coffee trying to restrain a laugh. Luckily Gavin was too busy sorting out his brief case and trying to drink the coffee to notice her expression but Aden did.

"What did you do Belle?" Aden asked her calmly.

Belle shrugged, leant in to him and whispered, "Let's just say there's a little extra liquid in his coffee."

Aden tried to restrain his smile, "You spat in it?" he hissed quietly.

"He'll never know," Belle said turning back to the kitchen. "Irene, I'm going on my break now."

"Okay, Darl," Aden heard Irene say from the kitchen.

Gavin turned to Aden and Belle, "Okay, can we get on with it, please?" he asked them and sipped some of his coffee making Aden and Belle let out tiny scoffs so that he wouldn't notice before they all went to sit at the table, Aden and Belle sitting beside one another with Gavin opposite.

"So," Gavin started, "Tell all…"

"Not before you sign this," Aden said getting a few sheets of paper out of his bag and sliding them across the table in front of Gavin.

"What are they?" Gavin asked.

"A contract saying you will print what I tell you and nothing that will slander me, and just so we have proof of what it is that I tell you, I'm going to record this conversation with a dictaphone as I'm sure, as a professional journalist, you will be doing too," Aden told him smugly.

"Of course," Gavin said getting out all his bits and pieces consisting of a dictaphone, camera, notebook and pens.

Gavin read through the contract that Aden had had Morag draw up for him and signed it, albeit slightly unwillingly.

Gavin laughed suddenly.

"What?" Belle said angrily.

"I was just thinking about the last time we three were sat doing an interview, things certainly have changed."

Aden couldn't deny it was certainly strange for them to all be in a similar kind of situation now, especially considering what that first article had been about, and now he was about to destroy it's meaning.

"Can we just get on with it?" Aden said pressingly.

"Fine," Gavin told him and both men pressed the record button on their dictaphones.

Aden began to tell Gavin all about his life; about his mother's death, his father's drinking and about his grandfather and what he had done to him. Belle had placed her hand on his and squeezed it at any moments she knew would be difficult for Aden to speak about. Gavin had seemed to become more human as the conversation went on, he was certainly shocked by what Aden was telling him but could now sympathise with what he had done.

When Aden had finished telling the story, Gavin asked him, "Why tell the press everything now?"

Aden smiled and looked at Belle before answering to Gavin, "Well, in the clinic I attended group therapy sessions and I was made aware of an organisation I had never heard of before called 'SAFENOWPROJECT' which is dedicated to the prevention of sexual child abuse and helping victims try to regain a normal life. Being a victim myself; obviously I know how devastating the long term effects of this kind of crime are, which is what a lot of people don't understand. It's not just about physical violence; it's about a loss of innocence as well. I thought for years that I was the one in the wrong as most children do which is why I tried to hide it for so long, but eventually it catches up with you and you have to face it."

Belle was looking at Aden with a look of sheer admiration; she had never heard him talk so openly about this, she thought it was most likely because now he knew that he wasn't alone. Gavin too looked admirable of Aden as he listened more intently than ever and had neglected to write anything down.

"I would really like it if you could publicise this organisation in your article, there are a lot of victims who have no idea that programmes like this exist. I think that if I had known about it, I might not have done what I did," Aden continued. "I'd also like to let people know that I have gone back to school to get my HSC so that next year I will be able to do a course at university which will enable me to become a councillor so that I can work with the organisation to reach out to victims, raise awareness and try to prevent one of the worst crimes possible from happening," Aden finished seriously.

Gavin looked at him seriously, "Anything you want me to write in this article… will be written. You have my word."

"Thank you," Aden told him gratefully and Belle looked at Gavin almost regretting she'd spat in his drink. What she'd just listened to Aden say was one of the most inspiring things she'd ever heard, from anyone. She felt so proud of him; as he'd told the world what he'd been through and how he had come through it and was determined to help other people who'd been in the same situation.

"There's one thing you haven't said anything about," Gavin added, "…your time in prison, no one really knows why you got out after only two weeks?"

Aden looked at Belle and again Belle saw that glint of pain in his eye which appeared every time his time in prison got mentioned, as they remembered what had happened after the sentencing.

The flashback will definitely be in the next chapter! Should be up either tonight or tomorrow!

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This is a very short chapter but i hope it keeps you going, this was definitely the bit i was having the most difficulty writing so i' m hoping they should flow more easily now as i know what i want to happen.

The red is from a few chapters prior to this one to remind you because it happens directly before the start of this chapter although in the present Belle and Aden are still in Gavin's company. I really hope this isn't confusing people!!!

Story Summary: set after 4705, Aden sentenced to 3 months in prison but stayed for only two weeks, something has happened to Belle that she doesn't want Aden to know about and Aden has just told the reporter Gavin the truth about why he did everything and that he wants to become a councillor for an organisation called the 'SAFENOWPROJECT' in the future. Aden and Belle have started to talk again gradually.

So enjoy! WARNING: Some scenes may be psychologically disturbing... and there is a certain amount of violence.

Chapter 11

"On the charge of kidnapping... we find the defendant... guilty."

"Kidnapping is a serious crime," the judge began. '...the jury obviously feel that you were able to think clearly when holding these two women; who were obviously traumatised by your actions.You held them against their will and for that, i am sentencing you to 3 months in prison."

Aden's face was of shock horror. He was speechless, he had been sure that there was no way he would end up with a custodial sentence. A sentiment Morag had shared; however, she had told him that the judge wasn't the best one they could have hoped for. He barely noticed as the guards grabbed his upper arms to take him away.

Belle had looked at Aden as he heard the verdict and her tears had started off slowly at first as she began to hyperventilate because of the shock, they soon became full blown sobs as she collapsed onto her knees. At that moment she wanted to disappear, and that's all she wanted to do. She didn't know what she was supposed to do now; she had no feeling as Rachel held her and helped her to leave the courtroom.

That night had been the worst of her life… but not only because of Aden. She had spent the next two days in her room, only leaving for food and bathroom breaks, and she didn't talk to anyone.

Aden coughed, "I… wasn't really built for prison," he started. "I was a school bully but I was never particularly violent so going to jail…" he trailed off obviously bringing up a memory that was painful for him. "I really wish that I could say it was the worst time of my life; but the fact is that my childhood was worse. That being said I definitely wouldn't want to go back. When the other prisoners found out that my defence was that I'd been abused they targeted me."

They had pushed him back into the cell as he curled up in the corner using his arms and legs to protect as much of himself as he could. He hated how weak it made him look; he had tried to defend himself but he just wasn't strong enough.

"You know a real man would keep on fighting," one of them taunted. "A real man would have the guts to hit back and keep hitting; he would have the guts to fight me all the way. But then… you're not a real man are you, because real men don't sleep with other men. You are weak now, and you must have been weak then to not have fought him off. Unless," he paused, "… you didn't want to fight him off?"

That was the last straw for Aden, he broke from his protective ball and lunged at the prisoner that had caused several bruises and he suspected some extent of internal injuries too, he was lucky he had not broken anything and it was only adrenaline from anger that allowed him to use his low amounts of strength for his attack. The prisoner backed out of the cell laughing at Aden's lame attempt to reach out and hit him. The other prisoners had spotted what was going on and immediately came to back up one of the top dogs of the prison and before Aden knew what had happened; a brawl had been started. The guards tried to split it up but it was too big and no one noticed as one of the prisoner's cronies pulled a knife. It was just a Swiss army knife but it had been sharpened and the fact that it was dirty made Aden's wound from where it had entered him in his stomach just that much worse.

Sorry for being evil! Who am i kidding? I'm not sorry! lol :P

I hope you enjoyed it, please comment and let me know what bits you liked etc.

Thanks for reading!

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Thank you for all the comments! i know i've said it before but they really do help me to write and i realy appreciate that you take the time to write them too! This is quite a long chapter to make up for the last one and definitely gives you some more answers!

Previously on: Can time really heal?

Gavin has been interviewing Aden with Belle in the diner but there has just been a flashback to Aden's time in prison when he was tormented and stabbed in a prison brawl.

this chapter continues with flash back to after he gets stabbed.

Chapter 12.

Morag looked at the unconscious Aden lying in the hospital bed, he had been asleep for the last day but the doctors were confident he would awake soon. She sighed in relief at the fact she had managed to get Aden transferred to a real hospital when she figured out what was going on.

"Something about this just isn't sitting right with me, Ross," Morag told her husband when they had gone back to Roman's after court.

"What do you mean, love? I know you feel guilty but you did everything you could," Ross tried to reassure his wife as Roman sat quietly holding a bottle of beer thinking about how he had been so focused on Nicole that he had been oblivious to the fact that Aden would need more help to recover than to just move out of his father's house.

"…exactly!" Morag exclaimed. "I did everything right, and usually that would have been enough. I'm not going to let this lie, Ross, so you may as well agree to help me."

"Help you?"

"I'm going to need your police contacts if I'm going to find out what's going on."

Aden stirred in his bed and his eyes gradually fluttered open. He tried to speak but found his mouth was dry, "Where…" he just about got out before he noticed Morag standing by his bedside.

"Welcome back, you had us all worried," Morag told him sympathetically.

"What happened?" Aden said groggily; taking note of his surroundings for the first time. He was in a hospital bed but he was surprised that it was actually in a hospital he recognised.

"You were stabbed," Morag told him softly.

"Shouldn't there be guards?" Aden questioned her still trying to get over the dry feeling in his mouth, "…and shouldn't I be handcuffed?" he added noticing there was nothing binding his wrists.

Morag looked at him and began, "Aden… we got you out on bail pending a re-trial…"

"What?" Aden interrupted utterly shocked. "Why?"

"I knew from the moment you got sentenced that something wasn't right, it just didn't fit, the way the trial played out and then a prison sentence, it just seemed wrong; so Ross and I have been trying to find out what went wrong."

Aden just looked at her, unsure of how he was supposed to take all this in.

"We found that a couple of the jurors had some hidden secrets that could have been used to blackmail them… but apparently whoever blackmailed them was threatening more than we were because they wouldn't talk. And we're pretty sure that the judge who tried your case has accepted bribes in the past but we have no real proof."

"Then how have you got me bail?" Aden questioned her becoming even more confused and just realising how sore his wound was as he winced from the pain.

"Are you okay?" Morag asked him suddenly interrupting his story.

"I'm fine," Aden said sharply, wincing again but trying to push past the pain. He wouldn't let this control him… he wouldn't let anything control him…not anymore.

"Let me call Rachel…" Morag said about to leave the hospital room.

"Rachel? She's my doctor?" Aden asked even more surprised.

"Yes," Morag answered him; understanding how difficult it must be for Aden to take all this in. "In any case, I have to tell her that you've woken up… I'll be back in a minute."

Aden watched her go, put his head back on his pillow and let out a loud sigh, he didn't think his life could get any more complicated, but apparently it had, and now he was left wondering why he got let out on bail when apparently no one involved was talking.

He lay there for a few minutes ignoring the pain that was becoming increasingly evident to him until Morag returned with Rachel and Roman.

"Hey mate," Roman greeted him. "How are you feeling?"

Aden just looked at him as though it was the stupidest thing in the world to ask, "I have no idea."

"Are you in pain?" Rachel asked gently, checking his bandage.

"No," Aden lied.

"Aden, you don't have to hide the fact that…" Rachel started but was quickly interrupted.

"…shouldn't someone else be my doctor?" Aden said heatedly.

"Aden, it's fine," Rachel tried to reassure him, she had thought a lot about her feelings towards Aden, but after hearing him speak during his trial she couldn't help but empathise with him and she was willing to forgive him.

"No!" Aden said loudly, "…you shouldn't have to treat me after what I did to you!"

"Aden," Roman said rather sternly.

"I want another doctor," Aden demanded, turning his head away from Rachel.

Rachel nodded, "I understand, someone else will be in to check on you shortly," she said softly before leaving the room.

"Rachel was just trying to help you, mate," Roman said caringly.

"I don't deserve help… not from her, anyway," Aden told them sadly and then unexpectedly and angrily exclaimed, "…why am I not in jail?"

Morag stepped forward, "Aden, the fight that broke out in prison… it was no accident that you were the one that got stabbed."

Aden looked at her quizzically, "What do you mean?"

"The man that stabbed you; we questioned him and after being threatened with more time in prison and more punishments for various offences that he'd previously been let off mildly for; he told us that he was paid to stab you."

"What?" Aden shouted.

"Well, not exactly him personally... he said that a man told him that he would give his family a lot of money if he hurt you. We suspect the culprit is the same one that landed you behind bars."

"Do you know who he is?" Aden asked.

"The prisoner gave us a name but we think it's a fake, however it does give us something to work with, and Ross has got the force working on it now too. We will find out who did this to you Aden, I promise you."

Roman stepped forward at this point, Morag had told him this before but he had yet to ask her something, "There's one thing I don't get… I thought that prison security was meant to be tight, how did this guy even get a knife in there in the first place?"

Aden looked from Roman to Morag; he had been thinking the same thing.

"Believe it or not, that actually helps us…it means that this man is on the inside, could be a security guard, a cop or even a lawyer," Morag told them with a shrug of her shoulders. "You don't need to worry about that now Aden, you just concentrate on getting better."

"So what happens to me now?" Aden asked the two of them as though he didn't actually care. "Can I just go out into the real world when I'm well again?"

Morag's smile faltered, "Not exactly. They want you to go back to the clinic."

"Why? I thought I was through with that when I went to jail!"

"Prison can be really traumatic for anyone, Aden, and in your case they think it would be better if you continued counselling before you went back out into the real world again. Prison changes people, everyone is just trying to help you," Morag added knowing that she wasn't telling Aden what he wanted to hear.

"I'm so sick of this!" Aden shouted moving around and immediately regretting it as his stomach hurt.

Roman noticed how much pain he was in, "Are you sure you don't want the doctors to give you some more pain killers?"

"NO! I said I'm fine, alright!" Aden shouted at them, he didn't want to be perceived as weak by them… or by anyone. "Can you not tell anyone that this happened?" he added more softly.

"What?" Roman asked, "…not even Belle or Nicole?"

"No," Aden told them, "I don't want to worry them; I'm going to be fine. All they need to know is that I've been let out on bail and am going to go back to the clinic pending a retrial," he lied. He didn't want them to think that he was pathetic for not being able to cope in prison. He shouldn't have let himself be treated like that; he should have stood up to the men who were beating him. He was weak and he knew it, he just didn't want everyone else to know it too, he couldn't handle more shame.

"Are you sure that's what you want? I think they'd want to know," Roman pushed.

"Just do as I ask, please Roman," Aden told him more calmly than before. "Look, I'm pretty tired, do you think you could…" he gestured his head towards the door, indicating for them to leave.

"Yeah, of course," Roman said looking at him concernedly. "I'll see you soon."

"…as will I," Morag told him before they both left.

Aden breathed a sigh of relief; he was feeling like he had been pretending forever. He wasn't okay… he was in pain, he was tired of the way he was feeling, and he was exhausted at just the prospect of redoing a chapter of his life. Why did it have to be one of the worst ones? Maybe they were right, maybe counselling would help… because right now, he was just angry… at everything and especially at himself.

"You were stabbed!" Belle exclaimed loudly in the middle of the diner, "How could you not have told me that, Aden?"

"I wasn't in the right state of mind to be making good decisions, Belle," Aden told her, temporarily forgetting that Gavin was there. "I didn't want anyone to know, I just wanted to forget it ever happened, I just wanted to forget what I went through in there, but like everything I had to face it and it got better once I dealt with it which is why I thought I would be able to talk about it now," Aden told Belle; looking in her eyes for some kind of sign that she would forgive him for his secrecy.

"So do you know the name of this guy that put you behind bars?" Gavin interrupted the moment forcing both Belle and Aden to look at him. "No, everyone thought it would be better if I stayed out of it until they find out who it is."

"Right," Gavin said writing things down on his notepad again, "…okay, I think that's it, can I just get a picture to go with the article?"

"Sure, I guess," Aden said as he and Gavin stood up.

"Maybe I could have one with you and Belle?" Gavin asked, "…you know, just to show that you support him and have forgiven him for what he did."

Belle looked at Gavin as Aden looked at Belle, "I don't expect her to forgive me, Gavin. I loved and her and what I did was awful, she should never have had to go through that, it wasn't fair on her, so I don't blame her if she can't forgive me."

Belle looked at Aden with a weird expression on her face that Aden couldn't place, she looked kind of upset and slightly angry.

"Right," Gavin slurred out, "…in any case, can I have a picture of the two of you maybe sitting down, Belle you could be holding his hand and you could be looking at each other?"

Belle and Aden did as they were told. They turned tentatively and slowly to look at each other but once they had made eye contact, they were unable to move. Their eyes were locked as they felt their hands with minds of their own; entwine with each other. Belle looked into Aden's deep, penetrating blue eyes and felt herself leaning forwards towards them as though trying to get a better look at the pain that lie there. Aden was moving closer to Belle but was barely realising it as he took in her sorrowful brown eyes, full of something he didn't recognise, it looked vaguely like guilt, but he was quite sure now it was not because of him. The emotion began to slip away from her eyes to be replaced with longing as the distance between them decreased, she could see it in his eyes too now, a caring look that she hadn't seen since they had been together, that was months ago but it only felt like yesterday now. She tilted her head slightly to the right as Aden did the same, their noses touched lightly as their grips on one another's hands tightened.

"Right, that's it guys, thank you," Gavin's voice interrupted and Aden and Belle turned their heads immediately to look at him, both shaken very suddenly out of their own world.

Gavin reached out to shake Aden's hand.

"Thank you," Aden said to him.

"Thank you," Gavin answered, "It's certainly been enlightening. The article should be in tomorrow's paper and I'm confident it'll make the front page."

Aden smiled at him appreciatively as he left.

Belle looked at Aden unsure what to say as they both got locked in a look again except there was the table between them now, "Well I better get back to work…" Belle told him nervously; breaking the silence between them.

"Right, yeah, I better go too, studying to do, you know," Aden told her and turned around to leave.

He left the diner leaving Belle very confused but oddly happy.

Next time on: Can time really heal?:

Is Belle in danger?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the wait, i've been so busy with uni! I really want to get the next few chapters out though so hopefully there'll be one tomorrow too.

Previously on 'Can time really heal?':

Aden has just done an interview for Gavin about his past and his experience in prison.

Chapter 13.

“Blimey, you’re up early for your day off, Belle!” Irene exclaimed as Belle entered the kitchen dressed in her night things and yawning. She grabbed a mug and picked up the kettle to put more water in it. “The kettle’s already boiled, love,” Irene told her kindly.

Belle nodded and made herself a cup of tea; Irene noticed that she looked nervous.

“So what are you doing up?” she asked curiously.

“Have we got the paper yet?” Belle asked her; looking up from stirring her tea.

“I haven’t brought it in yet,” Irene told her.

“Right,” Belle stopped stirring and went to get the paper. She had her head down and appeared to already be engrossed in it when she re-entered the house.

“So?” Irene asked her. She had known that Gavin was doing an article on Aden that Belle had wanted to be present at, but she really had no idea what it would be about.

Belle looked up with the beginnings of tears in her eyes. Gavin had actually written a piece that was not only beautifully written, but also told the exact events in the way they were meant to be perceived. She had only read the first couple of paragraphs but Gavin had done the journalist thing and captured his audience’s attention by telling the reader about the abuse Aden suffered in the first one.

“What’s wrong?” Irene asked; immediately alert when she saw the look in Belle’s eyes.

“Nothing,” Belle answered simply and handed Irene the paper to read so that she would finally understand Aden.

The first things Irene noticed were the title of the article ‘FROM HERO TO ZERO TO INSPIRATION!’ and the picture of Aden and Belle looking so lost in one another you would have thought it was taken from the cover of a romance novel.

“Oh my God,” Irene breathed when she finished the article. “I had no idea.”

“No one did,” Belle explained. “You can understand why I feel about him the way I do now, right?”

“…Feel?” Irene asked; still distracted by the newspaper in her hand.

“I mean felt,” Belle corrected her mistake as though putting a line through a miss-spelt word, thinking that this wasn’t a genuine reflection of her actual feelings but she didn’t want Irene to know that, especially if Aden didn’t feel the same way anymore. She sighed; thinking of what he had said, she couldn’t understand why it had made her feel so depressed until she had looked into his eyes when their picture had been taken and she realised that she would never be able to stop loving him.

Belle picked up the phone, wanting to call Aden and talk about the article. She dialled the number to Roman’s house and Roman answered.

“Hi, it’s Belle,” she said.

“Oh, hey, how’s it going?” Roman asked politely.

“It’s good,” Belle told him. “Did you see the article in the paper this morning?”

“Yeah, Gavin finally wrote something worth reading,” Roman said and Belle smiled. “I suppose you want to talk to Aden?”

“Yeah,” Belle answered and she heard Roman call for him and then some running on the stairs.

“Hey,” Aden greeted her.

“Hey, did you see it?”

“Yeah,” he told Belle happily and Belle could tell Aden was smiling. “Do you want to meet up?” Aden asked unsure how their relationship with one another stood. He wasn’t really sure if they were friends yet, or, in fact, if they ever could be.

He was glad to hear her reply though. “Sure, sounds good …how about the diner in ten?”

“See you then,” Aden answered and put down the phone. As he did so he turned to see Nicole with her head in the paper. Her expression was of visible shock when she looked up to see him.

“Aden,” she started sadly, “I’m so sorry.”

Aden looked at her, “What for? You didn’t do anything.”

Nicole put the paper down, “I gave you such a hard time about why you moved in here,” Nicole explained apologetically. “You shouldn’t have had to put up with that.”

“That was ages ago, Nicole. Forget about it,” Aden told her. He wasn’t sure why Nicole talking to him about this was annoying him so much.

She reached out to his touch his arm, her attempt to be comforting, but she did it tentatively, as though she wasn’t sure she would be able to touch him.

“I’m not a baby, Nicole, you can touch me,” he yelled angrily at her before storming out of the house.

Walking to the diner, all he could think of was how Nicole looked at him, how in two seconds, she had managed to treat him differently, just because now she knew the truth, …and the look in her eyes, of pity and sympathy that Aden really didn’t want because he didn’t need it. He didn’t need their feelings; he needed it not to have happened so people would treat him like every other person. He briefly wondered if telling all to a newspaper had been a mistake.

As he walked into the diner he felt Nicole’s eyes magnified around him, he felt self conscious and unsure of everything. Should he have expected this kind of response? He didn’t give an interview so he would get felt sorry for, he did it to help others who might have been, or were in his situation.

Belle was already there and sat at a table reading a magazine, she stood up with a huge smile on her face as Aden entered the room.

“I'm so proud of you,” she told him excitedly as Aden was taken aback by her hugging him.

“Thanks,” Aden said unsurely glancing around at everyone, feeling like all eyes were on him.

“Are you okay?” Belle asked him as they sat down, noticing his tentative manner.

Aden shrugged and told her quietly, “I feel like people are looking down on me.”

Belle looked at him and gave him a small sympathetic smile, “No one is looking down on you, Aden,” she told him confidently. “They are all looking up to you and admiring you.”

“Don’t Belle,” Aden said.

“Don’t what?”

“Say things that aren’t true,” Aden answered, averting his eyes from her and staring at the table, avoiding eye contact from everyone else.

Belle was puzzled, Aden had seemed so sure of himself yesterday, she had thought he had finally realised his own worth, but she guessed a part of him still felt smaller than other people for the hardship he had gone through that had made him different to them.

“Aden,” she started softly, “You are incredible, and what you did is amazing. You are truly an inspiration,, and that is why people will look at you… for guidance so that they can find their way too.”

Aden looked up and a modest smile graced his features as he looked at Belle, old feelings welling up inside him.


Aden walked into the surf club at around 9 O’clock, planning on getting a quick drink before he went home. He had been doing his community service after school and he had now worked off 10 hours, of the 100 hours he was given, this week. He was surprised to see who was sat at the bar.

“Aden,” Angelo greeted him in an acknowledging type of way.

“Angelo,” Aden answered in the same manner.

“Let me buy you a drink,” Angelo said, although he sounded as though he’d had a couple already.

“Uh,” Aden started to say unsurely.

“I’m not taking no for an answer,” Angelo told him and Aden eventually gave in and sat on the stool next to him. “…beer?” Angelo offered.

“Orange Juice thanks,” Aden answered immediately, not even needing to think about it.

“Okay then,” Angelo said and called Alf over, “…a beer for the man and an orange juice for the kid,” Angelo said tilting his head toward Aden when he said ‘kid’. His attempt at making Aden feel small was working but Aden gritted his teeth against a retort and contented himself with a ‘thanks’.

Alf gave him the price and Angelo got out his wallet, but as he did so he dropped it on the floor and a few items fell out. Aden bent down to help collect the things up. He found a business card with the name, NEILEM BELIS, on it. “That’s not you,” Aden said questioningly.

Angelo grabbed it quickly and put it back in his wallet with the rest of the items, “It’s a fake, I confiscated it off someone earlier so I haven’t had a chance to take it to the station,” Angelo explained although Aden was sure he saw some kind of worry flash across his eyes, even for a millisecond.

“Strange name,” Aden stated.

“Most fakes are,” Angelo told him as though it was something to laugh at. Alf gave them their drinks and they sat in silence for a couple of minutes.

Eventually Angelo felt he had to make friendly conversation, “I saw that picture of you and Belle in the paper this morning… moving stuff… are you together again then?”

Aden almost scoffed in his drink as he realised what Angelo was trying to do, “No, but we’re friends again,” Aden answered him thinking back to his and Belle’s earlier conversation when they had agreed to define their relationship as that. “What about you, are you and Belle friends?” Aden questioned.

“Yeah,” Angelo said, “…we left things on pretty good terms, although I haven’t seen her for a while, I might pop over there later,” he informed Aden as though he'd only just thought about it.

Aden nodded, “That’s good then.” Without Belle to talk about the conversation ran itself into the ground and Aden thought it was probably time for him to go home. “I’m going to get off now, Angelo, thanks for the drink.”

“No problem,” Angelo replied in a manly way, “It’s been good.”

Aden nodded, thinking it had been anything but good, before leaving the surf club.


Aden walked through the door and into the kitchen to get himself a glass of water, he came across Morag, Ross and Roman, Morag with her head buried in a piece of paper and tapping her pen. It seemed she hadn’t even noticed Aden enter the room although the two men had greeted him but quickly went back to studying the same piece of paper.

“What are you looking at?” Aden asked.

“It’s nothing, mate,” Roman told him.

“Yeah, I’m going to believe that,” Aden laughed sarcastically.

Roman let out a light laugh.

“So it must have something to do with the guy that sent me to prison… have you had a break through?” Aden asked, intrigued at the prospect of more news.

“We think so, Morag’s just trying to make sense of it,” Roman told him.

“I’ve got it!” Morag exclaimed suddenly. “It’s an anagram of the words…” she trailed off, “Oh my God…” she looked at Aden full of worry. Aden didn’t care if he wasn’t meant to look; the look in Morag’s eyes told him he’d need to see this for himself. On the paper there was a name that Aden recognised at the top with the letters all crossed out and underneath it the words spelling,


Roman saw the look of extreme anger on Aden’s face that he hadn’t seen in a long time, “We have to go now,” he demanded to Roman in an eerily calm voice.

Roman didn’t bother answering, he grabbed his keys and he and Aden walked out of the door, Roman awaiting further instructions from Aden.


There was a gentle tapping at Belle’s window as she was curled up in bed. She tensed up apprehensively and prayed that she didn’t need to be frightened of the person who was now climbing in through her window.

Her prayer’s were not answered.

Sorry for the lack of Adelle.

Next chapter

a bit of old Aden

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Thanks for all your comments, i really love them! This is the chapter it's all been leading up to...

I have to put a pretty big warning on it as it is quite explicit with themes of rape and scenes that may be psychologically disturbing. (It's probably not that bad but i wanted to make sure i have warned you. Please do not be offended by anything that goes on in this chapter.

Previously: Morag has worked out the name of the person who has it in for Aden is an anagram of 'BELLE IS MINE'. Someone has just crawled through Belle's window and Aden thinks he knows who put him behind bars.

Chapter 14.

Belle was physically shaking as soon as she saw the figure climb in to her room and kneel on the floor beside her bed.

"What are you doing here?" she asked barely audibly, her voice trembling, she hoped it would convey to the intruder that she was scared, maybe then he would gain a conscience.

"You sound scared," he whispered kindly, right in her ear as he brushed a strand of hair from her cheek. She flinched at his touch but dare not bat his hand away as it lingered and cupped her cheek. "Why are you scared, Belle?"

The use of her name on his tongue made her feel sick, she wanted to turn and run, but he had paralysed her, she could not take her eyes from his no matter how hard she tried. On the surface these eyes looked loving and kind but from this distance Belle could see the true depth and the true evil that lie behind the fort. Her only comfort was clinging to the duvet that most of her body was hidden away under.

Belle took in a tiny breath, unsure whether to release it with a scream, she decided against it, he was too strong, he would fight her and win and she would have no way of delaying it.

"Why are you doing this?" she asked as though her voice had been flattened and was now seeping slowly through her lips struggling to escape.

He smiled at her a knowing smile and stroked her cheek running his fingers down her neck and carrying them down until they were just above her breasts. His eyes followed them down, as did hers. She felt her body tense, ready to fight back for her. He brushed his hand upwards as his head tilted up and their eyes re-connected.

He tilted his head to one side and looked at her lustfully, "I told you, I've found you, now we can be together…"

"I'm not her," Belle said with slightly more conviction than she intended but she was having trouble controlling her thoughts, movements and feelings all at once, they had stepped out of their compartments and were moulding in a way that she could not control. She felt her heart beating faster as adrenaline raced through her body.

She saw a flash of anger cross his face as he grabbed her by the hair and tilted her head upwards roughly, "Don't say that," he told her harshly.

"Okay," Belle whispered, "Please just let me go," she added pleadingly.

He released her head and looked at her apologetically, "I'm sorry... ...are you?"

Belle didn't know what else to do, she nodded her head slowly, she felt tears starting to form but was unsure what his reactions would be if he saw them. She tried to swallow the lump that had formed in her throat trying not to release the water.

"You don't need to cry," he said, wiping the small tear that she had accidentally lost, "I forgive you."

His eyes danced around Belle's face, he took her trembling hands in his; forcefully holding them still and kissed her... …a gentle simple kiss that Belle had no time to respond to. He pulled back and smiled at her.

He sighed, "I've missed you. I hated watching you from the distance, just waiting for you to break up with…" he started and added with hatred, "…him… but now we've found our way back to each other," he smiled at Belle again but he didn't seem to care about the look of fright on her face. "…when you left all those years ago… I thought I'd never see you again… …but here we are… together again… at last."

Belle knew the only way out of this was to talk her way out, "Tell me about what I used to be like…" she asked him kindly, swallowing the bit of her voice that was trembling as her breathing continued to be shallow.

He looked happy that she had shown an interest, he looked away from her as though remembering, "You were beautiful… you still are beautiful… and you were kind and loyal and good, and you loved me… we were so in love people used to look at us walking down the street hand in hand and wish they could be us."

Belle couldn't deny that sounded like a perfect picture, "Then what happened?"

His face saddened, "You just weren't there anymore."

"I wasn't there?"

"We'd had a fight… in the kitchen and then you were gone," he told Belle confusedly and then looked back at her.

"What did I look like?" Belle was trying anything to just keep him talking, the more she could find out about him the more chance she would have of escaping, she wouldn't make the same mistake twice.

"Like you do now… just a little…" he stopped and looked at her oddly then shook his head.

"What?" Belle jumped at his confusion.

"You used to look older," he told her.

She placed a hand very carefully on his shoulder and looked at him, willing him to believe her, "That's because I'm not her."

She saw the anger flash in his face again, she had made the mistake she promised herself she wouldn't. He ripped the duvet from off of her and scrambled onto the bed. He pushed her until she was lying down on the bed and then pinned her arms above her head as she struggled to break free.

"You are her!" he shouted but not so loud as to let the other occupants of the house know he was there.

"No, I'm not!" Belle screamed back, also keeping her voice low. Annie and Geoff didn't need to walk in on a scene like this.

"I'll just have to make you see!" he yelled and ripped the shirt she had chosen to wear to bed that night revealing her bra.

"It didn't work before! It won't work now!" Belle yelled tears streaming down her face now as she struggled underneath his weight.

"That's why we'll keep doing it until you realise who you are," he said now more calmly.

"I don't want to, you're hurting me!" Belle begged quietly now, shaking her head. "Please Angelo, I know that a part of you is good, I know that you don't want to do this. Listen to that part now… please!"

Angelo shook his head, "I'm sorry Belle, this is for your own good… our own good. You'll see, it'll be like it was before," he said as he crashed his lips against hers. Belle didn't return the kiss until she felt a thump against her side where his fist had collided with her. She knew she had no choice but to kiss him back, he managed to hold onto both of her wrists together above her head with one of his hands; keeping her on the bed. He was too strong for her to fight off but she felt the other hand graze over her body and begin to loosen her…


"Where are we going?" Roman asked Aden as they got in to the car.

"Belle's," Aden answered immediately, "I think she's in trouble and I think I know who put me behind bars."


"Angelo," Aden stated.

"Angelo… but he's a…"

"…a cop. Exactly… who better placed to do it?"

"What do you think he wants with Belle?"

"I don't even want to think about it, Roman," Aden replied.

They sat in silence the rest of the journey as Aden hoped that they weren't too late.

When the arrived at the beach house, it was dark; as though all occupants had gone to bed, but there was lamp light coming from Belle's room.

"Roman, you go through the front door and I'll go straight to Belle's room," he said pointing in that direction.

He found the window open and climbed in silently. He was horrified by what he saw.

"Please, not again!" Belle cried as Aden saw Angelo beginning to undress her bottom half.

Aden didn't even hesitate before reacting. He pushed Angelo off of Belle and right over to the other side of the bed where he fell to the floor with a thud, hitting his head on Belle's night stand on the way. Aden ran over Belle's bed as she watched in horror as he began to beat the barely conscious form of Angelo until his face was bloody.

"Aden?" Belle whispered and Aden stopped, turning around to look at her. He took in her dishevelled appearance and the initial look of shock on Aden's face was all Belle needed to see to know she was a mess. Aden saw the look in Belle's eye, how scared she was but how grateful too. He saw her tear stained cheeks and sat on the bed to hold her as she sobbed into his shoulder. Neither of them took any notice of Belle's undone shirt.

After a minute had passed and Belle's sobs had turned into readily flowing tears Aden said quietly to her; worry evident within his voice, "Belle, what did you mean… 'not again'?"

Belle brought herself away from him and looked at him sadly, "I'm sorry," she started and Aden could tell she was apologising for something she felt was her fault but really she had had no control over. "On the day of your trial… he came here and he…" she couldn't speak the words out loud but all Aden needed to see was her mouth "...he raped me..." to him before he was off the bed again in a second and about to continue hitting the man on the floor. As he swung his arm back, Belle grabbed his elbow, "Please don't leave me," she begged him, but she wasn't talking to his physical form.

He stopped straight away and sat back on the bed. He scooped her up and placed her on his lap as her arms clung around his neck and she continued to cry, hiding her face in the crevice of his shoulder.

"Roman," he yelled and Roman came through the door. "Call the cops."

Roman looked puzzled as Angelo was hidden from view, he could see Belle on Aden's lap being cradled like a baby and that was all he needed to see to know something terrible had happened, he left the room and immediately called the police.

Irene and the rest of the occupants had finally woken up and come downstairs to find that Roman had broken in. Irene looked into Belle's room and rushed to be with her but Aden held out a hand for her to stop. He knew that Belle wouldn't be able to cope with a lot of people knowing, or seeing her in the state she was in right now. Irene nodded in understanding and left the room.

Aden stroked Belle's hair and whispered soothingly, "Its okay," in her ear as he felt her grip on him tighten. A silent tear had escaped him as he looked upon Belle's limp form knowing that he wouldn't wish the fate he had suffered on anyone, least of all the girl he had and always would love.

Sorry if i caused any offence,

please leave me a comment, i love reading them!

next chapter

Angelo's history and the fall out

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry this wasn't up yesterday, i wasn't feeling too good. i don't like this chapter particularly but i need to put it in to explain some stuff to you, it's really short and i know it's quite rubbish. Hopefully i'll be able to do another update tonight to make up for it.

Thanks for all your comments on the last chapter! I think that's the most i've ever had, i'm glad you're enjoying it!

NOTE: The Belle in this chapter is not Belle Taylor, just in case it's not clear.

Chapter 15.

“I don’t care why you bought it! Just take it back right now!!!” she screamed at him.

“Honey, I just thought it would be a nice present,” he answered her, determinedly defensive of himself against the pregnant woman in front of him.

“…for me? This was a present for you and you know it!” she shouted back at him.

“I’m sorry,” he said and she couldn’t understand why he didn’t seem to mean it. Okay, so he had bought it for him, but he was sick and tired of having no escape from her constant hormonal mood swings.

“Angelo, take the flat screen TV back, right now,” she said in a dangerously low voice.

“Honey?” he said in a sickly sweet voice.

“No, Angelo, we have to pay for our wedding, not to mention the baby that’s going to come in a few months.”

Angelo didn’t want to, but the mention of the baby just turned him stony. He had discovered the truth that morning but wasn’t sure when he would be able to bring it up. The truth was that he didn’t want to lose her, and telling her that he knew, was a huge risk that that would happen, but he needed a way to fight with her, to let the anger out, and that was why he had bought the TV.

“Angelo?” she said realising that there was something else going on.

“How could you not tell me Belle?” he asked with the edge of anger in his voice, deciding he couldn’t pretend nothing had happened.

“Tell you what?” she asked him quietly, afraid that she already knew the answer.

“I found the paternity test. You cheated on me,” he told her simply, tears starting to brim in his eyes.

“You went through my draws?” Belle retorted angrily.

“I wanted to put a present in there as a surprise for you… instead I got a surprise.”

“Angelo…” Belle said reaching out to touch him.

“Don’t. How could you not have told me that she might not be mine?” he said angrily.

“Did you read the results?”

He paused, “I couldn’t, but it’s pretty obvious she's not mine, otherwise you wouldn’t have lied to me right?”

“She’s yours Angelo,” Belle told him authoritatively.

Angelo laughed, “How can I possibly know that you’re telling the truth?”

Belle’s eyes narrowed, “I am.”

“No,” Angelo told her. “I can’t trust you anymore.”

“I love you, Angelo!” she told him, still angry.

Angelo laughed again, “…and how can I possibly know that that’s true either?”

“What? How dare you?” Belle exclaimed. “…after everything that you’ve done!”

“I thought you’d forgiven me for that?” Angelo said quietly.

“Well, maybe I hadn’t, maybe I just wanted to get even,” Belle told him sternly.

“That’s not like you,” Angelo said, slightly more kindly.

“Well maybe you don’t know me as well as you think you do!” she said, knowing that she was saying it out of anger and could never really mean it, he knew her like no one else and she was going to tell him the truth. She was just waiting for the right time, unfortunately it hadn't happened yet and now it was too late. But at this moment in time, she was fed up and angry so after having had enough, she turned to run out of the house. She got as far as crossing the road when she heard Angelo call her name.

“Belle?” he shouted from the door apologetically; causing her to turn around whilst still stood in the road. “I love you,” he told her simply, not wanting to lose her because no matter what either of them had done, they belonged together.

Belle looked at him, saw how sorry he was and felt it too, they really were meant for each other; “…I love you too!” she called to him. But then it happened so fast, she felt herself being encased in a bright light as noise overpowered her ears and she was suddenly flying through the air with an ineloquent landing. She put her hand to her stomach as she felt blood pouring from a part of her and covering the floor around her. Angelo cradling her in his arms was the last thing she saw before darkness took her.

Please comment (i'm more likely to update again tonight with a better chapter if you do, lol.)

Next chapter: Belle talks to the police and the occupants of the house deal with what's happened.

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Sorry, it took a bit longer than i thought, i had to have a shower. lol

thanks for your comments!

Bullying will get you somewhere but flattery will get you everywhere!

Just to clarify, the characters don't know Angelo's history yet. I really hope i'm not confusing people, the timing in this chapter gets a bit weird at points so i hope it's okay to follow.

Chapter 16.

Belle's head was still tucked into Aden as he held her closely and ran his fingers through her hair trying to keep her calm. Roman had come and removed Angelo from the room and had whispered to Aden that the police and an ambulance were on their way. Aden had nodded in response but Belle hadn't even seemed to notice there was anyone else in the room.

Irene appeared at the door a few minutes later and her gestures told Aden that the police had arrived. "Belle?" he said softly.

She pulled back from him looking at him like a lost child. "The police are here," he told her as she slipped off of his lap to sit on the bed next to him. "Are you ready to talk to them?" he asked keeping his hand on hers; wanting to make sure he had some kind of contact with her, just so that she knew she was safe.

She nodded slowly and took in a sharp breath, letting the air out through her nose.

"Belle, your shir…" Aden started softly, meaning that it was still undone, before he stopped; seeing the familiarity in what she was wearing, "That's my shirt," he stated quietly, a small smile would have graced his lips had the situation been more representative of a time to be happy.

She nodded again and began to try and do up the buttons with shaking hands, "It was... the only thing I could sleep in after... the first…" she broke off unable to tell him as she became angry with the shirt and fresh tears poured down her face.

"Take your time, Belle," Aden said and knowing she needed help right now, leant in and did the buttons up for her. She stared into space as he did this thinking of how her name sounded different coming from him and how it made her feel safe. Aden was a little surprised she had let him do them up, considering how scared he had been of Belle touching him, even years after what had happened to him. He supposed that could also be the reason she trusted him now; the true reality hadn't yet sunk in.

When Aden had finished doing up their shirt he looked at her, "You ready?" he asked with a loose grip on her hand which she quickly made more firm.

She was still unable to speak properly and so again nodded her head, but this time her thoughts were running crazy through her head. People were finally going to find out that she wasn't as strong as they thought she was; that she was weak, that she couldn't handle herself. That had been the reason she hadn't told Irene or anyone before, because she didn't want them to think of her differently, to think that she wasn't that independent, strong woman anymore, or that she never was but had always been pretending.

Aden saw how Belle had averted her gaze to the floor beside her bed and used the hand that wasn't already holding on to Belle's to tilt her chin upwards, he looked her directly in the eyes, "You are not weak, you never were, and you never will be."

Belle leapt forward and hugged him with all her might. It was different to when he had been cradling her earlier; he had been looking after her. But now it was a grateful embrace, Belle wanted to show him how much he meant to her, how much he made her feel safe, feel wanted in a way that no one else ever could.

Aden clung tightly to her for several moments and as though passing his strength on to her; she pulled back and the look she gave him told him that she was ready.


Aden and Belle were sat on the couch, Belle with her knees tucked up tight to her and Aden's right arm wrapped around her, keeping her close.

Irene looked at them there, a silent tear trickling down her own face. She couldn't place it before but she knew that Belle had changed over the last couple of months. And now, she realised it was in Belle's eyes… there was something missing, and looking at Aden now, she saw that his eyes were the same. No one should have to go through what these two have been through, especially so young, she thought as Jack questioned Belle.

"How long ago did you say the first attack was?" Charlie asked Belle carefully. She was shocked by the sight of Angelo being carried off on a stretcher as she approached the house with Jack. They had been called there but hadn't been told exactly what had happened. Belle had told them the events of that night but had not yet mentioned anything before it, other than that she had been attacked by Angelo before.

Irene and Roman weren't actually sure as to what had happened before Jack and Charlie had arrived and asked Belle what had taken place. Irene had sent Geoff and Annie to their rooms after realising what Belle was going to say, not wanting her to go through any more grief with them finding out like this too as they had come out of their rooms to investigate the source of the noise that had awoken them.

"A couple of months," Belle told them, rubbing her eyes as her tears had stopped now but tiredness had clearly overtaken them and although she still wanted to cry she didn't want to appear like she couldn't cope with what had happened. Whether it be or true or not that she could.

"Can you give us an exact date?" Jack pushed, not so subtly as a female officer, which is why Charlie gave him a look, silently communicating to him that she should be the one to ask the questions.

"It was the date of Aden's trial," she told them as she couldn't remember what actual date that was.

"Why didn't you report it then?" Charlie asked softly and Belle retreated into Aden even further. He was the only one who would understand why she hadn't said anything before.

"Charlie," Aden answered for her, telling Charlie with the simple use of her name to back off in a way that wasn't at all angry but gently forceful.

Charlie nodded but Belle spoke before she could ask any more questions, "Ever since then I've kept my window locked," Belle told them slowly. "…but tonight I just… I must have forgotten," she said realising it was her own stupidity that had caused her to be in danger tonight.

Aden put his right hand on Belle's right knee and used it as a lever to gently pull Belle further into him so that as she leant in, his arm could slide behind her back and hold her properly.

"Okay, I think that's it for tonight," Charlie said quietly, realising that Belle wasn't up for anymore questions. She and Jack left the house leaving it even more solemn than when they arrived.

"I think I better go too," Roman said to the house at large.

"Yeah, me too," Aden started but was quickly cut off.

"No," Belle said looking scared, she hesitated, "Please don't leave me tonight, Aden," she begged, for once not caring that Irene and Roman were still in the room. She couldn't do this without him.

There was no way Aden was leaving her, "Okay," he whispered into her ear as her face had buried itself in his shoulder and she had both hands clinging to his upper arm. He gave a gentle nod to Roman who understood and left the house.

"I'm going to go to bed," Irene said, more to Aden than Belle and Aden nodded once again.

"Come on, Belle," Aden said, suggesting they go back into Belle's room as Belle looked up to face him.

"No, Aden. Can't we just stay here tonight?" she begged him softly.

He looked at her sadly and shook his head, "If you don't sleep in there tonight then you'll never be able to again," he told her gently.

She looked at him knowing he was right as he stood up and held out his hand for her. For the briefest of moments, they had lost contact for the first time since he had found her and Belle suddenly found herself feeling more scared than she had done since it had actually been happening. She hurriedly took Aden's offered hand and felt the feeling loosen.

They made there way to the bedroom and onto the bed, Aden lay next to Belle on one side and then felt Belle pull his arms to wrap around her. He briefly wondered whether this was really a good idea, or if he'd be better off sleeping on the floor, he knew the repercussions would be bad if she wasn't able to stay on her own but at that moment she needed him and he wasn't going to let her down.

Next chapter: Will be about two paragraphs long and was meant to go on the end of this one but it really didn't fit the mood or the timing of the chapter. Which means it could be up tonight. Although I expect most people have gone to bed, lol.

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Thanks for all your comments! So i actually decided against the short couple of paragraphs and in the end that bit didn't even end up being in this chapter. This chapter sort of suddenly just came to me and i imply something at the end of it, as i realise it's kind of a big issue with the theme's of the fic. I haven't stated exactly what it is though and i don't want to now so i don't spoil it, but i'll tell you at the end in case anyone doesn't understand.


Chapter 17.

Aden's eyes jolted open as the sun beams shone through Belle's window, spreading light across his vision. He looked over to see Belle still sleeping; his body protecting her from the light. She looked peaceful as he watched her and remembered the events of the night before. He gently got out of bed, doing his best not to wake her, and went to the bathroom.

He looked in the mirror and saw his eyes were bloodshot, he hadn't had the best night's sleep and as he turned the tap on, filled his cupped hands with cold water and threw it on his face, he caught sight of his knuckles. He had finally noticed that they were stinging from where they had impacted Angelo. Aden balled his fist up, looking at them, it had been a long time since he had lashed out at someone like that, and although there was little alternative and no one blamed him for his actions, he still felt he could have been less brutal. But Angelo's actions had hit a raw nerve and he knew he had further work to go on himself before he was able to have complete self control. Had Belle not pulled him back from his state when she had told him the full truth, he was not so sure Angelo would still be alive.

He peered out of the bathroom to check on Belle and was happy to discover she was still sleeping, it was only 7.00am and he knew, although she was put down for a shift at the diner, no one would be expecting her to work today. He was glad she seemed okay with out him there which left him with no qualms about having a shower. He took a towel from the cabinet and got undressed. When he and Belle had been dating he had become adept at this and although he hadn't done it in months, there was something about it that was so calmingly familiar which led to a pang of hurt realising he even missed this small routine.

When he had finished in the shower and put his clothes back on, as he had no knew ones with him, he stepped out of the bathroom to see Irene in the kitchen. He hadn't spoken to her much, apart from at work and never anything personal, even when he was dating Belle.

"Morning love," she said to him with a sympathetic smile, "Coffee? You look exhausted."

"Uh," Aden hesitated, "Yeah, okay then thanks," he returned Irene's small smile as he walked towards the kitchen where the older woman was putting water into the kettle.

"How is she this morning?" Irene asked him worriedly, nodding her head in the direction of Belle's room.

Aden sighed, "Still sleeping."

Irene took in Aden's look of anxiety as he seemed to stare at any inanimate object, not because he was avoiding her gaze, just because he was thinking, "You're worried about her, aren't you?"

"Aren't you?" Aden asked her calmly as the kettle boiled and Irene turned away from him to pour the water into their mugs.

"Of course, but they do have Angelo in custody now so at least she can feel safe," Irene said fiddling about with the milk, "Milk and sugar?"

Aden let out an almost inaudible, dry laugh with the smallest of eye rolls as her back was turned to him, she wouldn't be able to understand that it would take a lot more than that for Belle to feel safe again, "White and two please Irene."

Irene turned to face him and thought about what she should say, "Aden…" she started wearily and Aden looked up from where he had taken the first sip of his coffee. "I know that we haven't gotten along in the past, and that's mostly my fault. You did make an effort and I just shunned it to the side. I just couldn't see what Belle saw in you and I'm very sorry for that."

"Let me guess," Aden sighed tiredly, "…since reading that article you've changed your mind about me?"

Irene tilted her head and narrowed her eyes, looking at him in confusion, there seemed to be hurt in his voice, but where it had come from, she didn't know.

"No," she said, gently shaking her head as he looked surprised. "Last night, when I saw you with Belle, you knew exactly what to do; you knew what would make her feel safe and how much she could handle. I can finally see that you know her better than anyone and even though you aren't together anymore, I could see the kind of person that you are now, because you helped her anyway."

Aden wasn't sure if the comment permitted a smile, "Thank you," he replied honestly.

"But Aden, I'm not going to lie to you… the article, it helped me to see the real you, it gave me a chance to see you prove that there is a person who you were and a person who you are now. ….and truthfully I am completely admirable of your decision to help people who have been through something like what you have."

Aden had been looking at the ground as Irene had talked about the article but her last comment made him remember why he had given the interview in the first place.

"Thank you," he repeated.

Irene nodded graciously, "Would you like any breakfast?"

"Toast," Belle's answer could be heard as she drifted from her bedroom to the kitchen, fully dressed for the day and smiling at the sight of Aden and Irene's civil conversation.

Irene smiled, "Aden, same?" He nodded. "How many slices?"

"Two please," he answered her, returning the smile. Aden looked at Belle and was pleased to see she looked a lot happier this morning, the colour had returned to her cheeks, "You know it's early, you could have stayed in bed a bit longer."

Belle fidgeted, "I didn't want to waste the day, you know."

Aden nodded reluctantly and looked over to see Belle reaching over the counter for the newspaper and wince as she placed a hand on her side.

"Belle?" Aden questioned worriedly, the tone in his voice making Irene turn to face the two from where she had been making the toast.

"It's nothing," Belle said trying to sweep it away.

Irene approached her, "What's going on girly?"

Belle was silent for a moment and closed her eyes, looking up at the ceiling. She rolled up her T-shirt as she did so revealing the markings of a fairly severe bruise.

"Belle," Aden gasped.

"It doesn't even hurt," Belle said rolling the T-shirt back down and trying to out stare the other two's worried glances with one of her own stubbornness.

"That's not the point," Irene said caringly, "Belle you need to tell the police about this."

"…when your ready," Aden added, knowing not to push Belle too much and Irene looked at him gratefully, realising her mistake.

"Can we talk about something else?" Belle tried to change the subject, "I've got to go to work in a minute."

"Oh no, you don't!" Irene said firmly.

"What? Why?" Belle asked defensively.

"Belle…" Irene didn't know what to say and she didn't want to say the wrong thing.

"Look, Belle, you need your rest today," Aden told her with a supportive smile.

"I suppose, but I can't do nothing; I'll go and give the rest of my statement to the police," Belle told them adamantly and was surprised at the confidence in her own voice.

Aden knew that it was probably a good thing she wanted to do that today, as the longer she waited, the harder it would be. He wasn't going to argue.

"Okay," Aden said, "…and, um…" he started nervously, causing both women to look at him weirdly. He knew this was going to be a difficult thing to ask but he thought it probably hadn't occurred to Belle, it was something that no one in her situation wanted to think about. "I think you ought to go to the hospital."

Belle looked at him, "It's just a bruise, Aden. He didn't hit me that hard."

"No, that's not what I mean," Aden started, realising how awkward this was about to become as Irene caught on to what Aden meant and decided to conveniently leave the kitchen area so the two could be alone. "Look, Belle, I know you're on the pill but…"

"Oh my God…" Belle breathed. "You want me to get tested?" she said angrily, hating the fact that he was making her think about it.

Aden stayed silent for a moment, unsure how to continue.

"There's nothing wrong with me," Belle persisted in full belief'; looking disgusted at the insinuation.

"You can't know that Belle," he told her trying not to hurt her feelings and knowing he was failing miserably.

"I don't sleep around!" she almost yelled at him.

"I know that!" he tried to sound rational and calm but he had to get his message across somehow. "But you have to…"

"I don't have to do anything," she said standing up and about to storm off to her bedroom until Aden grabbed her hand, holding her back.

"What if there is something wrong Belle, don't let him take anything else from you," Aden told her, looking her straight in the eye and seeing Belle's eyes start to tear up as she looked at the genuine concern in his.

"I'd know if there was something wrong, alright?" Belle tried to convince him, her voice quieter now as though she was trying to convince herself more than anyone else.

"We both know that's not always true," Aden told her softly as he let go of her hand and forced her, with his own gaze, to look at him.

"I can't," she squeezed out slowly and Aden realised why she was so against it.

"…because it will make everything…" he started.

"…real," she finished.

"I'll be right by your side," Aden told her firmly.

She looked at him for a moment, staying silent as though she needed it to be that way to process the information and come out with a decision.

She sighed heavily before eventually answering, "...okay."

"We'll go before we go to the police, yeah?" Aden said and Belle nodded, realising she hadn't asked him to go to the police with her, yet he had said he was coming anyway.

So in case anyone didn't understand what i was implying at the end, Belle's going to go to the hospital to get tested for STIs.

Please comment!

Next chapter:

Aden pulls away from Belle

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Thanks Maccaz, you really helped me frame this chapter! It would have been a lot harder to write if i hadn't put Annie and Geoff's reactions in! I'm not really sure about this chapter, something doesn't quite feel right about it but it took me so long to write i'll have to just hope it'll do.

I hope you enjoy it!

Previously: Aden stayed over to comfort Belle after she was attacked by Angelo. He's convinced her to go to the hospital to get checked out.

Chapter 18.

“Irene, Irene, What’s going on? What happened last night? Why is no one telling us anything? We have a right to know, we care about Belle too!” these were the questions bombarded at Irene as soon as she entered the house by Geoff and Annie. They had come running down the stairs, both still in their school uniforms, as soon as they heard Irene come in carrying some grocery shopping.

Geoff immediately went to help Irene put the shopping away as Annie approached the kitchen cautiously, “So?” she asked.

Irene stopped what she was doing and was soon imitated by Geoff.

“Okay,” she sighed. “Sit down.”

The two did as they were told.

“Look guys, I know that you care about Belle and you want to know what happened last night but all I’m going to tell you is that Angelo did something bad to Belle.”

“Angelo?” Annie questioned. “…but he’s a police officer.”

Irene shrugged, “It’s up to Belle whether she tells you or not, but please don’t push her, okay?”

They looked slightly disappointed but nodded in response.

“What was Aden doing here this morning?” Geoff asked curiously having seen Belle leave with Aden that morning as he had come down the stairs. “He wasn’t at school today.”

“I think he spent the day with Belle,” Irene told him, not wanting to go into detail about just where they had been spending the day.

Just then Aden and Belle walked through the door.

“How’d it go, love?” Irene asked Belle.

Belle gave her a small smile and shrugged her shoulders, “Okay, I guess,” she answered thinking about her time at the hospital that morning.


“Belle Taylor?” a woman called, appearing from a consultation room at the hospital. Belle stood up and approached the woman, “That’s me,” she said. They had been lucky to get an appointment today. The doctor had had a cancellation and was able to fit her in half an hour after they had gotten there.

“Come in,” the woman said kindly, she was fairly young for a doctor, blonde and attractive with trustworthy eyes and a trustworthy smile.

“Can you come with me, Aden?” Belle asked him nervously.

“Um, are you sure, Belle?” he asked her very uncertainly. He knew what she’d be discussing in that room and was surprised that she would be willing to share personal details about herself with him sitting there.

The doctor looked equally troubled by Belle’s question. “Why don’t you just come in by yourself for a minute and if you still want your boyfriend here then he can come in then.”

“I’m not her boyfriend,” Aden said quickly. “I’m just a friend.”

“Oh, sorry,” the doctor apologised, “I just assumed.”

“Its fine,” Belle told her, “…we did used to date but now we’re just friends.”

Aden noticed the bitterness in her voice and assumed it was because he had been so quick to correct the woman as though he didn’t want to even be acknowledged as her boyfriend. He watched her follow the doctor in to the room and breathed a sigh of relief that he wasn’t going to have to follow her in there. He put his face in his hands and ran his hands through his hair in frustration. He felt so confused, he didn’t know what he wanted and he certainly didn’t know what Belle wanted, although he doubted that she knew what she wanted or why she wanted it at the moment either. He knew that his constant presence by Belle’s side was more likely to do her harm than good in the long run which was why he was going to have to try and distance himself from her. Not permanently or all the time, but just so that she was able to feel safe on her own again.

Meanwhile in the consultation room, Belle was having trouble explaining why she was there. So far she had gotten out that she wanted to be tested for any sexually transmitted infections.

“…and why do you think that you might have one?” the doctor asked her gently seeing how distressed Belle had come.

“Um…” she answered unsuccessfully. She took a deep breath and tried again but no sound came out.

“Do you want me to get your friend?” the woman asked. After talking to Belle originally, she had convinced her it would be better one on one as matters being discussed could become very personal but she thought now that seeing a familiar face might help.

Belle nodded and waited whilst the woman went to get Aden and a few seconds later he was sat by her side.

“Okay, Belle, do you want to try again?”

Belle nodded, “A few……a couple…” Aden took Belle’s hand in his realising why she had needed him there. Although he was going to distance himself from her, he deemed being in a hospital for whatever reason, cause enough to be there for supporting reasons. He knew what Belle was about to do and knew that telling someone who was practically a stranger that you had been raped was not the easiest thing in the world to do. Belle squeezed Aden’s hand, “I was raped,” she said quickly as though trying to get it out of the way.

The doctor looked momentarily shocked, “I’m sorry,” she responded. “…you’ve done the responsible thing though…” she then went on to explain about procedures for testing for different STIs and told Belle she thought she should make an appointment for next week at the small clinic she worked at for the more’ invasive’ procedure, however simple it was. Aden tried to drown out most of this as he felt it was too private for him to listen in on. “We can do the blood test today though, so I can go and prepare a treatment room, it’ll only take five minutes, is that okay?”

Belle nodded, “Thank you,” she said sincerely.

“…and Belle, I also think it would be a good idea for you to get some counselling,” she suggested.

Belle gave a reluctant smile, “I’ll think about it,” she answered as the woman left the room leaving Aden and Belle on their own.

“Are you okay?” Belle asked Aden.

He laughed, “Shouldn’t I be the one asking you that?”

She shrugged, “Maybe, but you look kind of pale.”

He looked at her unsurely, “Are you sure it was okay for me to be in here? I mean it was pretty personal.”

“Okay, so maybe it was slightly awkward, but I’d rather have you here than not,” she told him earnestly.

They sat in silence for a minute, contemplating what was to come next.

“Can I ask you a question?” Belle asked Aden suddenly and tentatively.

“I guess.”

“You’re not gonna like it,” Belle said.

“Try me,” Aden said calmly, not looking at her but reading all the posters on the walls around the room.

“Have you ever been tested for an STI, I mean excluding the HIV test?”

His head jolted up to look at her, he had only ever been with her but he felt he owed her the truth anyway, “Yes,” he answered.

“When?” she asked; genuinely surprised, that hadn't been the answer she'd expected and she hoped that her curiosity wasn’t coming over as invasive or rude.

He sighed. He never thought he’d actually ever tell her this. It was something he had felt embarrassed about but knew that he had had to do. “Before we slept together,” he told her. “I realised that I had to face up to things if I was going to get past them and I didn’t want to put you at risk.”

“Wow, Aden,” she breathed; smiling at how much he had cared about her, “…and?” she questioned him further.

“I slept with you, didn’t I?” he said with a slightly suggestive smirk on his lips.

Belle let out a small laugh, “I guess.”

Aden smiled, glad to be talking to her again, they had lightened the mood considerably and he was reminded of how well they got on when they were just hanging out together.

Belle groaned, “I hate needles,” she said.

“They’re not that bad,” Aden told her.

“Are you kidding me? Someone stabbing you with a needle is not bad?” she said sarcastically.

“It’s over in like two seconds, don’t be such a baby!”

“I’m not being a baby!” Belle cried in playful disbelief.

“Yes you are.”

“Am not!”

“Are too!”

“Now look who’s being a baby,” Belle said laughing as Aden joined in.

At that moment the door opened, “Do you want to come through Belle,” she said and Belle started to follow her out the door.

“You coming?” Belle asked Aden and yet again Aden was reminded of her persistent need for his presence.

“Baby,” he called her simply.

“Fine! Stay here!” Belle defended herself and Aden smiled, glad that she had taken the baby step on her own.


“How long until you get the results?” Irene asked her.

“Could be up to two weeks, but hopefully only a few days for the…” she trailed off, looking at Annie and Geoff, not wanting to bring up HIV, “blood test,” she settled on instead.

“Blood test?” Annie said wonderingly. “What happened last night, Belle?”

Geoff and Irene rolled their eyes at Annie’s naivety as Belle looked questioningly at Aden.

“Your choice, Belle,” he told her simply. “You just went through it all at the police station so if you’re not up for it…”

“No, I can do this,” Belle said determinedly and nodding her head, gearing herself up to repeat the story. “At least now I understand it a bit more,” she added.

Aden nodded and gave her a supportive smile as Irene gave him a questioning look and he used his head to gesture to Belle, signalling for her to listen.

Belle sat down ready to tell the story, “I found out today that Angelo used to have a fiancé called Belle,” she started and Irene, Geoff and Annie looked shocked. Aden had heard the story on the way back here as he hadn’t been allowed in the interview room with Belle which meant that she had taken another step on her own. “Apparently they really loved each other and she was pregnant but then he cheated on her and she cheated on him and they had a fight. She ran into the road and was hit by a car. Her and her baby died. Angelo blamed himself and when he met me, because I looked so much like her and had her name, he convinced himself that I was her and when I tried to convince him otherwise he….” She trailed off. Recounting Angelo’s story had been fairly easy, recounting hers was different altogether. “I guess there’s only one way to say this,” she began. “…he raped me.”

Geoff and Annie looked horror struck and Belle hated that she had just shown the 14 year old Annie that bad things happen, even by those you think you know, and she hoped it would not affect her trust of people in the future.

“Last night?” Annie asked cautiously.

Belle shook her head, “He tried to but Aden stopped him, he was the one that put Aden in prison,” Belle repeated what Aden had told her earlier in the day.

“Why?” Annie gasped.

“I think he wanted me out of the way,” Aden explained to the overloaded teenager.

“So when?” Annie asked; she did realise the question may have seemed insensitive but she felt a longing to know, because for some reason not knowing made her feel vulnerable.

“A couple of months ago,” Belle told them solemnly.

Belle looked from Annie’s devastated expression to Geoff’s hardened one. “Why didn’t you tell us?” he said eerily, not looking at any of them as he peered at the ground. “We could have stopped last night from happening.”

Belle hesitated at Geoff’s reaction, “I couldn’t,” she said swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat. Something about Geoff’s posture was making her feel uneasy, add that to the accusatory tone he was using with her and she was slightly scared of him.

“Didn’t you trust us?” he said finally looking at her angrily and standing to his feet.

Aden had been watching Geoff’s reactions very carefully, he knew that Geoff was likely to take a crime against a woman badly, especially his surrogate sister, but he also knew that Geoff had practically no experience in dealing with these issues and that he didn’t realise how what he said now, would affect Belle later on. Aden jumped in between the two and put his hand gently on Geoff’s chest, “That’s enough,” he commanded calmly with an air of authority and Belle was glad he had taken over. “Do you really think she needs this right now?”

Geoff looked at Aden’s face, stony but empathetic, and then at Belle who was looking confused. “Sorry, I just…” Geoff didn’t know what to say as he sat back down.

“It’s okay, I get it,” Belle said, knowing Geoff well enough by now, not to take it personally. It was out of lover for her that he was reacting this way and she smiled slightly, thinking of how far their relationship had come.

“What’ll happen to him?” Annie asked quietly.

Belle sighed, “He’s been charged with attempted rape.”

“What?” Aden jumped in before anyone else could respond, she hadn’t told him this on the way home, “…but he…”

“…because I didn’t report it at the time, there’s no physical evidence to support my claims so it’s my word against his,” she told the room.

Aden shook his head angrily, “Stupid system.”

“He’s also being punished for what he did to you though,” Belle said as though that would make it all better which of course she knew wasn’t true. Aden cared more about what Angelo had done to her than what he’d done to him. “Anyway they have him in custody now so let’s just get on, isn’t it dinner time, Irene?”

“Uh, yeah,” Irene said, gathering herself. “Cottage pie?”

“Sounds good,” Belle was the one to sound cheerful, hoping it would become contagious, it took a while but eventually it worked.

“You staying, Aden?” Irene asked him and he looked surprised at her question.

“Am I welcome?” he asked unsurely.

“Your always welcome, love,” Irene told him, she could now see how much Aden had grown, even the way he handled Geoff in that situation was a trait to be admired in him. She couldn’t believe how much her opinion of him had changed since last year and she felt ashamed that this occurrence had only happened recently.

Aden looked at Belle who gave him a joyful smile and then to Annie who showed him a little one, then he looked at Geoff and got a short nod of understanding that their feud was finally over.

Aden and Belle were both in good spirits by the time that they had finished their meals. Aden couldn’t quite believe he had never done this when he had actually been seeing Belle. He looked over at her as she laughed at something Annie had said and caught her gaze, she looked calm and at ease, and for the first time he thought she might be alright without him. Unfortunately… or fortunately, this now catapulted into an opposite effect, because now she didn’t need him, he wanted her more than ever. As she looked at him she could see something in his eyes that made the butterflies in her stomach come out of the cocoons they had been inhabiting since the last time he had looked at her like that... months ago, and she smiled at him with the same longing in her eyes. The other’s at the table didn’t notice the non verbal communication occurring across the furniture.

“Can you pass the salt please, Aden?” Irene said from across the table with no response. “Aden?”

Aden jolted out of his statue state, “Oh yeah, sure,” he said passing the salt to her and putting his knife and fork together as he had finished. “I’m going to have to head off, I’m on the late shift at the diner.”

“Oh right, love,” Irene said to him, smiling.

“I’ll walk you to the door,” Belle said as they both stood up and headed to the kitchen door and stepped outside, so they were out of view of the rest of the household. Aden was worried that Belle was going to ask him to come back that night and stay and was shocked when she didn’t. “Thank you, for everything you did for me today… and yesterday,” she added, smiling at him.

“Anytime,” he answered her, feeling like a giddy kid with a crush. He leant in to her and kissed her gently on the cheek, his lips lingering close to her cheek for far too long after a skin to skin connection had actually been made to be entirely friend orientated. She felt his breath on her cheek and her heart beat quicken as he pulled back from her and she was able to see his eyes full of depth. She saw them coming in close to her again, this time in a direct line with her own eyes, they never wavered from each other’s stares, eyes looking directly into one another, no embarrassment felt about complete eye contact as Aden felt nerves pulsate from his heart and down his arm as he converted it to energy to take Belle’s hand in his own. Their noses were less than half an inch apart as Belle used the hand that wasn’t holding onto Aden’s, to run her hand up around his collar bone and up his form to rest on his neck. Their noses rubbed against each other softly and Aden closed his eyes in the moment, only for them to jolt open again and for him to jump backwards from Belle, whose eyes had also been closed but opened suddenly when she could no longer feel Aden’s presence near her.

“I’m sorry, I can’t,” Aden said hurriedly before turning to walk away. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be there, it just wasn’t fair on her after what she had been through yesterday to just jump back in to something. He had been reminded of what had happened yesterday through flash bulb memories when his eyes had been closed.

Belle was left wondering what Aden was really feeling, she too was confused but all she wanted was for him to talk to her. She went back in the house but after little participation in the conversation’s being had, she realised what she must do.


“Aden?” Belle said, trying to get his attention as she walked into the diner’s kitchen. It wasn’t busy and Aden was working on his own.

He turned around from where he was preparing some food to see her there, “Belle what are you doing here?” he asked, swallowing, because now her presence was making him nervous. He was meant to be the calm one, the one to take charge, the one who knew what was going to happen, so why was she having this effect on him?

Belle was tired of wasting time, “You know when you said if I needed anything, I could just ask?”

Aden stood completely still, now worried for her, “Yeah, what do you need?” he asked softly, preparing himself for the worst.

She looked at him, took one step closer so that they were a metre away with him resting his hands behind his back on the counter, Belle swallowed her nerves and answered him simply, “…you.”

Next chapter:

What will Aden's reaction be?

I have been waiting for that last scene for sooooo long! Sorry it was so long, i couldn't see a good place to split it!

Please comment if you want me to update! lol (or even if you don't) don't worry if you don't though cos i'm bound to update eventually anyway, :lol: - comments just help the time gaps, hehe!

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Sorry this took so long! And sorry it's so short, i might try and do another one or couple over the weekend, i'll just have to see how it goes.

Thanks for all your comments, i really appreciate them!

Previously: Belle has been attacked by Angelo, he's in custody, she went to the hospital with Aden, then explained to Geoff and Annie what had happened. Aden had dinner with everyone at the beach house and then went to work. I've put the last bit from the last chapter at the beginning of this to get the feel of it again.

I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 19.

“Aden?” Belle said, trying to get his attention as she walked into the diner’s kitchen. It wasn’t busy and Aden was working on his own.

He turned around from where he was preparing some food to see her there, “Belle what are you doing here?” he asked, swallowing, because now her presence was making him nervous. He was meant to be the calm one, the one to take charge, the one who knew what was going to happen, so why was she having this effect on him?

Belle was tired of wasting time, “You know when you said if I needed anything, I could just ask?”

Aden stood completely still, now worried for her, “Yeah, what do you need?” he asked softly, preparing himself for the worst.

She looked at him, took one step closer so that they were a metre away with him resting his hands behind his back on the counter, Belle swallowed her nerves and answered him simply, “…you.”

Aden swallowed nervously as Belle looked at him with her own nerves evident in her hopeful eyes.

“Belle…” he pushed out. “We…” he took a deep breath as Belle had edged closer to him, “…can’t,” he finished as Belle placed a hand on his chest.

“Why not?” she said quietly and seductively before standing on her tiptoes, to whisper slowly in his ear, “I know you want me.”

A smile spread slowly across Aden’s face although he tried to fight it as his hand went to rest on top of the one on his chest, with the intent to take it away, instead it settled there and held on to hers. She loosened his hold on her hand by running hers down his chest and looking him in the eyes.

But this was what made Aden come to his senses; in her eyes he could see the recent pain so clearly that it was breaking his heart just to look. “No Belle,” he said firmly, removing her hand from his body. “I’m sorry, we can’t,” he added determinedly.

Belle stepped back from him and looked at him with confusion, “But… I thought…” she tried to say something, and then sadness and hurt flashed in her eyes, “…so you meant it then?”

Aden was puzzled, “Meant what?”

“What you said to Gavin, that you loved me?” Belle said folding her arms protectively and looking up at the ceiling in mild despair.

Aden gave her a questioning look.

“Loved?” Belle pushed, looking at him directly again, “…L-O-V-E-D…” she spelt out, putting extra emphasis on the letter D. “…as in past tense!”

“Belle!” Aden gasped, realising what she meant and stepping forwards to take her hand as the moment caught him. She didn’t let him take it. “Of course I still love you, I’ve never stopped!”

“Then why don’t you want me anymore? Is it because of what happened to me?”

Aden was taken aback, “Are you seriously asking me that question?” he said; disturbingly shocked.

Belle looked at her feet in shame as she felt herself wanting to cry, “I’m sorry, I just… …I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel, or how I’m supposed to keep going…” she looked up at Aden, “…I’m so confused.”

“Exactly,” Aden told her softly. “Do you really think it would be a good idea to go back into a relationship where neither of us knows why we’re really doing it?”

Belle sniffled, “I guess not.”

Aden smiled reassuringly, “Come here,” he said as Belle came and wrapped her arms around him, holding on to each other.

Belle pulled back from him, “…but Aden…”

“Yeah?” he said, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear.

“I know that I want to be with you, it’s just…”

“…you need time… …I understand,” Aden told her. “…I think that’s a good thing for both of us.”

“…but what if…” Belle took herself fully out of Aden and shook her head.

“What?” he asked her concernedly.

“Nothing,” Belle answered him, “I’m being silly.”

“No, you’re not,” Aden said firmly, knowing Belle well enough to know that she was about to say something valid but embarrassment was trying to stop her.

“What if you meet someone else?” she asked him timidly.

Aden gave her an empathetic smile, “I won’t,” he told her.

“…but you can’t know that, what if you do?”

“What if you do?” Aden answered in return, jokingly.

“I’m serious, Aden,” Belle said. “I know that we have to wait, but I know that I’ll still want you.”

Aden looked at her and saw the determination in her face and he realised that he was actually wondering the same thing, “Okay, how about a compromise?” he suggested.

“…a compromise?” Belle answered rhetorically. “What are you suggesting?”

Aden thought for a moment, “How about being exclusive friends?”

“What? So we’re only allowed to be friends with each other?” Belle laughed.

“No,” Aden said, laughing as well, “We don’t date each other, but we don’t date any one else either?”

“That’s a really dumb idea,” Belle told him but with a smile on her face.

“You think of something better then,” he said raising his eyebrows at her, challenging her.

She sighed, “Fine, you win. Exclusive friends it is,” she said.

Aden nodded and smiled at her, “Well, I better get these meals out. I think the customers have been waiting long enough.”

Belle nodded, “Need a hand?”

Aden looked at her sternly, “You’re not meant to be working today, Belle.”

“I know, but I’m here now, and it’s a bit busier than it was, I think you could do with the help,” she persuaded.

Aden still didn’t look convinced.

“You’re here to keep an eye on me in case I fall apart or whatever,” she said sweetly. “Unless you just want to keep all the tips for yourself?”

Aden shook his head; giving in, “Fine.”

Belle smiled at him and grabbed her apron, ready to set to work as she watched Aden leaving the kitchen with a smile.

I can't believe i've written nearly 20 chapters and they're still not back together!

BTW i have an idea for a sequel, so if you think i should do that, let me know.

Thanks for reading, please comment! xx

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