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Story Title: Deadline

Type of story: Long-fic

Main Characters: Belle Taylor, Geoff Campbell, Aden Jeffries, Angelo Rosetta, Drew Curtis, Ruby Buckton

BTTB rating: A

Genre: Humour, drama, angst (anything you can think of, really)

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: Over usage of the word ‘bitch’, sexual references and so many double entendres.

Summary: Sequel to ‘The Coastal Junior’. That’s all I can say without giving anything away.

PART ONE – 1990

-Chapter One-

The Big Hello

The Coastal Junior office in Yabbie Creek was similar to the one in Summer Bay. It had the same furniture, the same colour scheme, and the same old equipment. Angelo had his own office, as usual, with its own secret exit, and there were still double doors. The only major difference was the new phone. Belle Taylor despised this. There were so many buttons to learn that she almost gave up altogether. And then there was her new portable. Enough said. Almost all the news team had returned to be a part of the commercial venture, with two noticeable absentees. Melody Jones, who had left to travel the world before heading to university, and Aden Jeffries, who had left to go to America.

“So far she’s reorganised the work times,” Geoff was explaining to one of the reporters. He looked over at his boss. She was writing something down. In front of her was a waste-paper spike that was almost full. “Changed her mind six times about the centre spread, fired so many people from the graphics department I haven’t had time to count the notches on her desk,”

“So we’re almost back to normal then,” The reporter joked.

“Not quite, somehow,” Geoff corrected her. Belle ran her pen through the article she was writing and slammed it down on top of the spike. “Let’s face it; we know exactly what’s wrong.” Belle rose from her chair, angry that the spike was now useless.

“I need another spike!” Belle called out. She looked around and saw that everybody was looking at her. She hiccupped.


Belle pulled her jacket on and walked over to the double doors of the new newsroom. She turned around to face Geoff.

“Geoff, have you got the sales figures from last month?” Belle called out to the deputy editor. Geoff shook his head.

“Not quite,” He told her. Belle smiled weakly.

“Do you think we’re going to make our target?” She asked him.

“Not quite,” Geoff replied. Belle sighed.

“We’ve got to make that target soon or our beloved proprietor’s gonna decide we’re not worth our payroll and pull the plug,” Belle explained to him sadly. Geoff walked over to her, a smile on his face.

“Lee’ll give us a few more months yet,” He told Belle. “Its fun though, isn’t it. Doing this for real. For a living. I think I’m going to like being grown up.”

“When were you anything else?” Belle asked her best friend. Geoff laughed.

“Something on your mind boss?” Geoff asked her, noticing she wasn’t her normal aggressive self.

“What would be on my mind?” Belle asked him sourly. She hiccupped again.

“That’s one nervous reaction you can hear all the way to America,” Geoff hinted. Belle rolled her eyes.

“Not quite,” She said, walking towards the main door of the newsroom. Geoff watched her as she left the building.


In Belle’s new apartment just two blacks away from the news newsroom, Belle picked up the picture of Aden she kept on her desk. She sighed as she looked at it sadly.

“He’s in America, he’s not coming back.” Belle said to herself, “So pull yourself together.” She slammed the photo back down and climbed into her bed.


Drew stuck his hands out in front of him and parted two leaves of the plants he was hiding behind. He was on one of the Coastal Junior’s biggest stories – bringing down corrupt politicians. He looked at the man in front of him, he was middle aged, had a moustache, and greying hair. Drew backed away from the plants slowly and walked over to a payphone. He pressed in the Coastal Junior’s new phone number.


Belle looked up from the article she was writing and looked at the phone desperately. She saw a red light flashing. Geoff looked up and smiled at the puzzlement. Belle looked across at him and picked up the phone.

“Remind me,” She demanded.

“That’s line six. Your line.” Geoff said, turning back to his article. “Someone’s calling you,” He added as the phone went off again.

“How am I supposed to remember a number like six?” Belle asked the deputy editor. Belle placed the receiver back down and picked the phone up. “Hello, Belle Taylor,” Geoff looked up at her, pressing her line. She glanced across at him angrily “Hello, Belle Taylor,”

“Belle, this is Drew,” Drew shouted, Belle rolled her eyes. “I followed Grainger to Les Sous-vêtements restaurant on Thomas Road; he’s waiting to meet someone. This could be it,” Drew told her.

“Drew, that’s brilliant!” Belle exclaimed. She placed her hand over the bottom of the phone. She turned to Geoff. “Grainger’s at a restaurant. He’s waiting to meet someone!”

“Waiting in a restaurant?” Geoff asked, “Well hold the front page!” He called out sarcastically.

“Hold the front page!” Ruby called out. “Hold the front page!”

“Yeah, I was joking!” Geoff shouted at the news team.

“Drew, who’s following Chambers today?” Belle asked the reporter.

“Lucas,” Drew replied, referring to the newly appointed reporter. Belle placed her hand over to bottom of the phone again.

“Rubes, has Lucas called?” She asked.

“Yeah! He’s on line two,” Belle looked down at the complicated phone pad.

“Oh,” She said, her hand hovering above it. Geoff looked up and pressed the line two button. Belle gave him a dirty look. “Lucas, has Chambers left his office?”

“How did you know?” Lucas asked her, “He’s just left now,”

“We think we know where he’s going,” Belle told the reporter, “Thanks Lucas, you can come back to the newsroom now,”

“On my way,” Lucas replied, hanging up. Belle turned to Geoff.

“Grainger and Chambers are meeting up, I’ll bet you anything!” She exclaimed. Geoff rolled his eyes and looked up from his article.

“Has it occurred to you that they could just be two perfectly innocent citizens having lunch together?” Geoff asked her. Belle scoffed.

“Why do you always look on the downside?” She asked him. Geoff sighed.

“I have faith in human nature,” He told her. Belle smiled.

“Well, you don’t get out much,” She laughed. Belle turned back to her complicated phone.

“Belle!” Ruby called out from her desk. Belle looked over at her. “Gavin Damons for you on line four,” Belle groaned as she saw two red lights.

“This is getting out of hand!” Belle told Geoff. “I want my old phone back.” Geoff smiled and pointed to the framed red phone hanging up on the wall behind her.

“You’ve still got Drew on hold,” He reminded her.

“Oh, right,” Belle said, pressing on of the red buttons. She turned back to Ruby. “Rubes, could you tell Damons I’m not in today?” She asked.

“You just did,” Gavin replied through the telephone. A look of shock crossed Belle’s face.

“Oh, Mr. Damons!” Belle exclaimed. Geoff looked up from his article, “I-I mean Gavin, what can I do for you?”

“You can get yourself over to the main newsroom straight away. We need to talk.” Gavin said seriously. “Uh, actually, now isn’t a good time for me. Things are really buzzing,” She lied, “And I’m kind of booked up for the next few days. So how does a week from Wednesday sound to you?” Geoff watched as Belle’s face fell. “Fine, I’ll be right over.” She placed the phone down. “In about a month,” She added.

“Belle, what is going on with you and Damons?” Geoff asked the boss. Belle looked down and saw that there was still one red light.

“How do I get Drew?” Belle asked him. Geoff pressed the red button and Belle picked up the phone.


“So, do you want me to go back in the restaurant?” Drew asked her immediately.

“No, stay outside and wait for Chambers, I’m coming out. I want to see this for myself,” Belle told him. Drew nodded.

“You know who we really need here, don’t you?” Drew asked her, smiling,

“No, I don’t,” Belle shot back. She hiccupped again. “Can I dock someone’s pay?” She heard Belle asked someone – most likely Geoff.

“For your birthday, if you’ve been good,” He heard Geoff reply.

“You better understand Drew, the subject of Spike Jeffries is a matter of total indifference to me, and I couldn’t really care the slightest bit less about him,” Belle ranted, “And I don’t want to hear his name mentioned again, ever!” Drew looked over at the restaurant again,

“Receiving you loud and...” He stopped talking. Walking over to the restaurant was somebody who looked like Aden. He had his arm wrapped around a woman. “Spike?” Drew called out in confusion.

“Drew!” Belle shouted at him, “I warned you!”

“No, no,” Drew began, “No,” He said again, squinting to get a better look at the boy,

“Look, I’m on my way, see you in a minute,” Belle told him before hanging up. Drew watched in shock as Aden and the woman walked into Les Sous-vêtements.


“Table for two?” A waiter at the restaurant asked.

“Better make it three,” A man in an American accent said. “I’m feeling lucky!”


There you go. The intrucuction chapter, setting the tone and storyline for Part One. I've changed the fic so that it will only cover two years instead of three :). What did you think? I wasn't thinking of posting this for another week or so, but I've got a few chapters ready, so I thought, why not?

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I'm glad you decided to post it so soon.

Good start. Drew was chosen to handle one of the biggest stories for the paper. Hilarious, considering this the same Drew who once got confused so easily when doing the horoscopes. I love it.

Aww Belle is missing Aden. Loved her frustration with the phone. Wasn't expecting Aden to show up at the restaurant. But I'm glad because it means he's not in America.

I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

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“Waiting in a restaurant?” Geoff asked, “Well hold the front page!” He called out sarcastically.

“Hold the front page!” Ruby called out. “Hold the front page!”

“Yeah, I was joking!” Geoff shouted at the news team.

That cracked me up, literally, I was laughing for about 5 minutes at it :P :P

I'm loving this already....!

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:D Eeeek! Sequel already! You sure know how to keep us happy!

Great start! Loving the new Coastal Junior office. Well, it's not that new apart from the phone, which is brilliant! :lol: Poor Belle. And her thinking that Spike's gone when he's really there. Yay!

Drew on the major story is hilarious. Hope he doesn't mess it up for anything!

Cannot wait for more!


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Thanks Jody, Symph, Laura and Taniya. I'm really glad you like the way I'v started it. Here's the next chapter, which was so much fun to write :).

-Chapter Two-

And All That Stuff...

Belle pulled her coat on. She placed a notepad in her pocket.

‘What excuse do I give to Gavin?” Geoff asked his best friend.

“Tell him I dropped dead right after he phoned and that I’ll call him tomorrow,” Belle walked over to the front door and Geoff followed.

“But you won’t call him tomorrow!” Geoff moaned in frustration.

“It’s called lying Geoff,” Belle explained, “I haven’t dropped dead either,” Belle placed her hand on the door handle.

“I wasn’t sure.” Geoff laughed, “I wasn’t sure. It could take you this long to stop talking,” He added, pulling his watch out of his pocket. Belle rolled her eyes. Geoff placed the watch back in his pocket and pulled out a black portable. He flipped it open. “All you calls are on divert.” He pointed to a button which ad a large yellow arrow pointing to it. “That’s the button you press to answer. I've even put a little arrow there,”

“Why do you instantly assume I’m incapable of understanding anything technical?” Belle asked him angrily. Geoff shrugged.

“I find it saves time,” He told her. He passed the phone over to Belle and she placed it in her pocket. She pushed the door open and walked out. Geoff smiled and began walking back to his desk.

“Geoff, was that really a joke about holding the front page?” The crying reporter, Cathy, asked. Geoff groaned.

“Yes it was Cathy. Glad you could join us.” Geoff shot at her. Cathy sighed.

“Geoff, I need some help with the graphics department,” She moaned. “I've only been doing it a few weeks and I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“Couldn’t you call Mel?” Geoff asked the girl.

“She’s somewhere in Japan at the moment,” Cathy told the boy. The newsroom doors banged open. Geoff turned and saw Belle run in.

“I just thought I’d go out the back door today,” She said, opening the door to Angelo’s office. Geoff shrugged and turned back to Cathy. The doors to the newsroom opened again and Gavin Damons walked in.

“Where’s Belle?” He asked.


“Well, you’ve got enough plants around here,” Aden laughed as the waiter passed him and his female companion a menu. “Maybe we’ll just graze.” The female laughed as she opened her menu.

“Sure you can afford this place?” She asked Aden in an American accent as the waiter walked away. Aden smiled and pulled off his sunglasses.

“I’ll tick your menu where it’s safe,” Aden joked again.

“Well, I want something decent,” She said, looking down at the menu, “I mean, it is my last meal in Australia. Thank goodness.”

“Oh, come on!” Aden said, looking out the window. He caught site of Drew standing across the road.

“You know, it’s so hard for a girl to choose these days,” The female said, not noticing Aden wasn’t paying attention. “I mean, what’s expensive, but not fattening?” She asked. Aden pressed himself back further against his seat so that Drew couldn’t see him.

“Everything’s fattening in a joint like this,” Aden told her as he looked out the window again. “They’ve even got a chocolate dip for the salad.” The woman laughed again. She raised her eyebrows as she noticed Aden was acting strangely.

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh, there’s a guy out there I’m trying to avoid,” Aden told her. She looked out the window, and saw Drew.


“He’s a friend of mine,” Aden told her, looking down at his menu.

“You’re weird, you know that?” The American woman laughed. “I mean, you must have a lot of friends here in Australia, yet you’ve steered clear of all of them for the whole week.”

“Yeah, well, you know.” Aden thought of something to say. He looked out the window again. “There were complications,” He turned away from the window and looked at the American brunette. He missed as Belle walked over to Drew.

“You mean a girl?”

“Why would I mean a girl?”

“Mind you, if you had contacted some old ‘complications’ of yours,” She raised her eyebrows. Aden laughed.

“How could I have done that?” He asked her. “You listened in on every phone call I made!”

“You know what I’d have done, don’t you?” Aden smiled at her. He looked back out the window. He breathed a sigh of relief as he noticed Drew wasn’t standing there anymore. He stood up from his chair.

“I’m just going to the bathroom,” He told her.


“Where are you going?” Drew called out as Belle began crossing the road.

Inside!” She shouted back.



“Nothing.” Drew grinned as Belle shrugged and continued crossing the road.


Aden glanced across at his new girlfriend as he walked over to the payphone. She was going through the menu. An old woman was using the payphone. He sighed and walked over to her. Behind him, Belle pushed the door open and walked in. She looked over at Grainger. She walked over to him and looked past his shoulder. The man was checking his watch.

“Waitress!” Aden’s new girlfriend shouted out. Belle looked up. “Could I have some water please?” Belle looked at her in confusion before nodding.

“Yeah, sure, why not!” Belle turned her back on Grainger and walked over to the maître’d.

“Can I get you a table?” He asked the woman. Belle nodded.

“Yeah, and some water,” She replied, looking over at Grainger again.

“Yeah, sure,” He replied, walking over to the kitchen.


“Robert Grainger is a personal friend of mine!” Gavin shouted at Geoff, who was sitting at Belle’s desk. “And of Mr. Lee, who may I remind you owns your paper.”

“Robert Grainger is also a property developer.” Geoff said smugly, “Who always seems to get his planning permission granted rather easily.” Gavin scoffed.

“Lucky fellow!” Gavin moaned. Geoff shook his head.

“He has a friend on the council called Antonio Chambers, who just so happens to be in charge of granting planning permission,” Gavin rolled his eyes. “Come on! That’s o lucky there ought to be a law! Which, need I remind you, there is,” Gavin paused to think about this. He moved in closer to Geoff.

“If you can prove these two are working together,” He said, “In any way. That’s major criminal activity. And that’s a big story.” Geoff shrugged.

“Is that all you were going to tell Belle?” He asked the boss. “I think she thought you were going to warn her off.”

“I am!” Gavin shouted sternly. “If you’ve got anything less that complete proof,” Geoff shrugged again.


“Those guys are heavyweights,” Gavin warned the deputy editor. “They’ve already complained that you’re hassling them, to Lee. Your owner. If Belle just puts one foot wrong, well, you better get used to sitting in that chair.” Gavin folded his arms across his chest smugly.


Aden looked back at his girlfriend. The old woman was still on the phone. Sighing, he turned and walked back to the American.

“You took your time,” She stated. Aden looked back out the window. Drew was standing in view again.

“He’s still there,” He said to himself. The woman looked out the window again.

“Who is?”

“My friend,” Aden slumped back into his chair, still looking out the window.

“Oh,” The woman scoffed, turning back to her menu.

“I wonder what he’s up to.” Aden asked himself.

“I think I’ve narrowed it down to page four.” Aden’s girlfriend said. Belle made her way over to the pair. She was still looking at Grainger. A female companion had joined him. She placed the jug of water down on the table. She didn’t look at them.

“Thankyou,” The woman said. Belle nodded in acknowledgment. Eagerly, Aden glanced across at the phone. The old woman had just hung up. He glanced over at his female companion again.

“I’m just going to the bathroom,” He said, rising from his chair. His girlfriend raised an eyebrow.

“You’ve just been,” She shot at him.

“Yeah, well, there was an old lady using it,” The female laughed in amusement as Aden walked away.


Belle pulled the antenna of her portable phone up. She flipped the bottom open and pressed one number slowly and looked down. Nothing happened.

“Damn!” She shouted.


Aden placed the phone to his ear and fed the machine a few silver coins. He pressed in the newsroom’s phone number. He waited as all he heard was the dial tone.

“Please wait, your call is being diverted.” A mechanical voice said. Aden shrugged. Just as Aden was doing this, Belle slammed the bottom of her phone shut again and walked over to the doors. She stopped in her track, having seen Aden standing at the payphone. Her portable began ringing and she flipped the bottom open again. She pressed the button Geoff had shown her earlier.

“Hello?” She said.

“Belle!” Aden exclaimed. Belle folder one arm across her chest.

“Yeah?” She asked sourly.

“It’s Spike,” He told her. Belle scoffed.

“I can see that.” She told him bitterly.

“So, uh, hi.”


“Well, I thought I’d call,” He told his ex-girlfriend. “Guess I was feeling a little guilty,” He admitted. Belle rolled her eyes.

“I’m not surprised. I haven’t heard from you in six months.” She shot at him angrily.

“Yeah, well, you know. There’s been complications.” He told her.

“What’s she like?” Aden laughed. Belle smiled evilly and walked closer to her ex. “So, uh, where are you phoning from?” She stopped about a meter away from the blond American.

“California! Where else?” Belle scoffed.


“Spike!” His American girlfriend called out. Aden turned to look at her. Belle looked over as well. She glared at the girl jealously. She was very attractive, around the same height as her, thinner, and had shoulder length, curly, brown hair.

“I’m just calling my aunt,” Aden shouted back. Belle shook her head angrily.

“Oh, right,” The American woman called out, smiling in relief. Both Belle and Aden turned back to the payphone.

“Sorry Belle, that was my aunt,” Aden apologised.

“Really?” Belle asked in fake interest. Aden laughed nervously.

“Look, I just wanted to call up and say, well, you know, all that stuff.”

“Why pick now?”

“Something brought you to mind,”

“I’ll bet.” Belle shot at him angrily.

“I really do miss you, you know,” Aden told her. Belle rolled her eyes again.

“Well, that’s going to pass,” She said sourly. “Probably quite soon.” Aden laughed.

“So, what’s all this ‘your call is being diverted’ stuff?” He asked her. Belle glared at him.

“You caught me on my portable,” Belle told him, “I’m in a restaurant, actually,”

“Oh yeah?” Aden asked eagerly, “That’s a coincidence. Because, I’m not,” He corrected himself. Belle grinned.

“In Thomas Road,” She added. Aden’s eyes widened in shock.

“Thomas Road?” He asked her.

“Called Les Sous-vêtements.” She grinned as Aden didn’t answer.

“And, uh, where are you sitting?” He asked, laughing nervously again. “Just so I cal picture it, you know,” Aden added quickly. Belle smiled.

“Near the phone,” She said. Belle pulled the phone away from her ear and hung up. “Spitting distance.” Aden pulled the phone away from his ear and looked around. Sure enough, Belle was standing behind him. He placed the phone back down on the receiver.

“Hey!” Aden shouted. “Is this Australia?”

“I just want to know one thing Spike,” Belle told him sharply, “Is your life currently passing before your eyes?”

“Could be!” Aden shot back, “I've only got as far as the PG rating so far,” Aden looked up to see his girlfriend walking over him. She looked down at Belle.

“Spike!” She snapped.

“Zo,” Aden said, his voice shaky. He pointed to Belle, “This is, um,” He looked down at Belle. She was giving him the infamous Angelo stare. The one se gave someone before pouncing them. “Belle, this is my, uh,” He pointed to Zoe.

“Aunt,” The three said at the same time. Aden looked from Zoe, his current girlfriend, and Belle, the woman he thought was his one true love six months earlier.

“Family is so complicated, isn’t it?” Aden joked. Zoe rolled her eyes,

“Spike, seeing as we’re heading back to the states tonight, I’m going home to pack. I seem to have lost my appetite.” She shot Belle a dirty look. Angrily, she stalked out of the restaurant.

“Well Belle, there’s a chair free at my table,” He told her. Belle ignored him.

“Who the hell is she?” Belle demanded. Aden smiled and shook his head.

“Let me remind you of one little detain here Taylor,” He began.

“Who is she Spike? “Belle demanded again. They both didn’t notice Grainger walk over to the payphone.

“You and I are no longer an item!” He reminded Belle. She rolled her eyes. “You dumped me for a newspaper, remember?”

“Just because I dump you, it doesn’t mean you can go out with someone else,” Aden broke into a fit of laughter.

“Belle,” Aden said to her. “Yes it does!”

“So what was all that rubbish about being in California?” Belle asked him. She looked over at the phone and saw Grainger deep in conversation with the person on the opposite end. She didn’t pay any attention, not realising who it was to start with.

“Anyone can make a mistake!” He told her.

“Oh, I suppose you were at a really wild party last night and woke up this morning, at Kingsford naked with a traffic cone!” Belle shouted at him.

“Well, I didn’t have the traffic cone.” Belle raised her finger to her lips, shushing him. She looked over at Grainger again.

“...if you need anything, just call me back. I’m sorry to have missed you. You’ll be at the office tonight? I’ll ring you at eight o’clock sharp. I hate talking to these machines!” He placed the phone down and turned to see Aden and Belle were looking at him. Belle pulled out her portable and looked away. Aden smiled before also turning away. Suspiciously, the older man left the building.

“You’re trying to nail that guy for something, right?” Aden asked the editor.

“If I can prove he just made that phone call, I just have,” Belle said. Aden looked back over at the machine the man had just used. He grinned.

“Hey, I've gotta go,” He said to his ex. Belle turned back to him.

“How was it for you?” She asked, Aden shrugged.

“Same as ever.” He replied,

“That bad?”

“We, you know,” Aden muttered, slightly embarrassed.

“All that stuff,” She finished. Aden smiled.

“Next time?”

“You’ve got my number.” Aden leaned in closer to Belle.

“Parting gift,” He said, looking back over at the payphone. Next to it was a small, personal phonebook. “Check out the phone.” Aden left and Belle glanced over. She smiled at the little phonebook. She walked over and discreetly picked it up.

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:lol: Comic Spike is back! Loved it! :D

The beginning with Belle and Geoff was funny! Can't believe he had to put an arrow onto the phone so that she would know how to answer a call! And the excuses for and the scene with Gavin was good too.

The bits at the resturant was great! Everything from Aden's new GF <_< to his funny oneliners :lol: and Belle's obvious jealousy. Best bit:

“You and I are no longer an item!” He reminded Belle. She rolled her eyes. “You dumped me for a newspaper, remember?”

“Just because I dump you, it doesn’t mean you can go out with someone else,” Aden broke into a fit of laughter.

“Belle,” Aden said to her. “Yes it does!”

Cannot wait for more! Hope they get something from that phonebook!


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‘What excuse do I give to Gavin?” Geoff asked his best friend.

“Tell him I dropped dead right after he phoned and that I’ll call him tomorrow,” Belle walked over to the front door and Geoff followed.

“But you won’t call him tomorrow!” Geoff moaned in frustration.

“It’s called lying Geoff,” Belle explained, “I haven’t dropped dead either,” Belle placed her hand on the door handle.

Loved that one. I love any scene with this two. Their characters work so well together in these fics. And they are damn funny together. I loved Geoff putting the arrow on the phone.

“You and I are no longer an item!” He reminded Belle. She rolled her eyes. “You dumped me for a newspaper, remember?”

“Just because I dump you, it doesn’t mean you can go out with someone else,” Aden broke into a fit of laughter.

“Belle,” Aden said to her. “Yes it does!”

Possessive Belle is great. Her jealousy is always funny. I loved the resturant scene. Aden was hilarious as usual. As was Belle. These two are so made for each other.

Please update soon.

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Thanks Taniya, Laura and Jody :).

-Chapter Three-

The Wicked Queen and Jiminy Cricket

“Who is this, tripping lightly through the door?” Geoff asked, not looking up from the article Belle had given him to rewrite. Belle rolled her eyes as she hung up her coat, “A girlish giggle on her lips, a rosy blush on her girlish cheeks.”

“Shut your face, Geoff,” Belle snapped, walking over to her desk.

“Why it’s Cinderella, back from the ball,” Geoff joked as Belle took her seat opposite him. “So, how was Prince Charming?” He asked his boss. Belle looked up and saw that everybody was looking up at her with grins.

“Stow it, buttons!” Belle yelled at him.

“Fair enough boss,” Geoff replied, grinning. “Actually, I've always thought of you more as the Wicked Queen from Snow White,” Belle glared at Geoff angrily for a moment and looked down at the phonebook. She pulled out a bottle of liquid paper and erased a number. The phone began to ring, and Geoff picked it up. “Hello, Coastal Junior,” He said as Belle picked up a pen and began writing something in the phonebook. “Yes Mr. Damons, I’ll just tell her.” Belle looked up as Geoff placed his hand over the bottom of the phone. “Belle, Damons wants to speak to you, pronto.”

“Tell him I’m...”

“Belle! The Coastal News is still our parent paper,” Geoff reminded the brunette. “Which means that Damons is still your boss, boss.” Belle slammed the pen down and picked up the phonebook.

“It’s just you and me, Geoff. The Wicked Queen and Jiminy Cricket,” Geoff laughed as she left the building.

“She’s on her way,” He told Gavin before hanging up.


Belle pushed the door to Gavin’s office open gently. She peered in and saw her boss sitting in between Mr. Lee, the owner of the Coastal News and Mr. Grainger, the man the news team was shadowing.

“Mr. Lee,” Belle said, nodding her head in his direction. Mr. Lee nodded back. Belle turned around and shut the door behind her.


“We’ve done nothing out of the ordinary in the pursuit of a story,” Belle explained to the men,

“Impersonating a waitress?” Mr. Grainger asked her sourly. Belle turned to him and smirked.

“I heard that phone call, you know,” Belle said to him, Grainger’s eyes narrowed in anger.

“What phone call?” He asked Belle seriously. Belle’s eyes also narrowed in anger as the pair looked at each other. Gavin sighed.

“Mr. Grainger has very kindly agreed to accept a simple apology.” He told his employee. “Unless you have anything else to say.” He added. Belle didn’t say a word.

“And then, perhaps, you can get back to the legitimate concerns of a children’s newspaper.” Grainger interjected smugly. Belle smiled weakly.

“Adults are often the concern of children, Mr. Grainger,” She snapped at him. Gavin folded his arms across his chest.

“An apology, Belle,” He told the young editor. Belle looked across at Gavin. Her portable began ringing and she picked it up.

“Belle Taylor,” She said into her phone.

“He was talking to an answering machine,” She heard Aden tell her. A look of confusion crossed Belle’s face.

“What?” She asked the American.

“That guy in the restaurant, he was talking to an answering machine,” Aden repeated. Belle grinned. “If you want to prove he made that call, just get the tape from the machine.” Belle glanced up at Grainger again,

“Phone me back in ten,” Belle told her ex before hanging up. Belle rose from the chair she was sitting in. “Mr. Grainger, my most sincere apologies.” Grainger raised an eyebrow in confusion. “I guarantee you that you will not be bothered by myself or my staff again. I’m sorry if I've caused you any trouble.” Belle looked over at Gavin. “Good enough,”

“Yes Belle,” Gavin replied. Belle smiled and began walking towards the door. Belle turned around and pulled the personal phonebook out from her pocket.

“By the way, Mr. Grainger,” She said, walking back towards the men. “You left this at the phone when you didn’t make that call,” Belle threw the book down in front of him and left the room.


Belle clutched a notepad to her chest as she and Aden made their way up to the receptionist of the council office. They were going to attempt to break into Chambers office.

“Did they come through here?” Aden asked the man who was sitting behind the desk.

“ Who?” The man asked the pair.

“The fat one or the tall one,” The American replied.

“Well I...”

“What?” Aden shouted, “You didn’t see either of them?” Aden turned to Belle. “Come on, Miss Monsoon,” the pair began o walk over to the elevator, and the man followed them.

“Can I just ask what you’re doing?” The man asked them angrily.

“Miss Brown and I will go on up ahead.” Aden said, pressing the lift button, “I think we’ve got this situation contained.”

“Who exactly...”

“Look, if anybody asks,” Aden said, interrupting the older man, “Just tell them we’ve got a possible code grey,”

“Yes but...”

“Are you Tony or Paul?” Aden asked the tall man.

“Chuck,” The man replied. Aden shrugged.


“Fielding!” The doors to the lift opened and Belle backed into it. Aden followed.

“Fielding, Miss Lane,” Aden told his ex, who wrote it down on her notepad. Aden pressed the button to the fifth floor. “Can you believe he didn’t ask me for my pass?”


“Get anywhere with the phonebook?” Aden asked Belle as they stood in the elevator, waiting for it to reach the fifth floor.

“I've erased Chambers’ number and replaced it with the one for the newsroom,” Belle shot back, still clutching the notepad to her chest. “So the next time Grainger phones him, he’s phoning us.” Aden opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again. Belle noticed this. “Well, I thought if Grainger phones us, thinking we’re Chambers, maybe he’d say something he shouldn’t.”

“It’s a long shot, boss,” Aden replied. “I think ‘hello, Coastal Junior’ is a bit of a give away.” Belle turned her head and shot Aden a dirty look.

“Well I had to do something!” She shouted at him. Aden laughed.

“I don’t know how you got by without me,” He responded. Belle turned away from him as the doors opened.

“So stay,” She said, walking out of the lift and into a long corridor. Aden sighed as he followed the editor.

“Well, according to Twiddle Dumb at the restaurant, Twiddle Dee is working late tonight.” He said to Belle, ignoring her request. “We know he’s going to phone at eight sharp, so he’ll still be here now. Hopefully alone,”

“I've really missed you,” Belle announced. Aden smiled at her.

“I’ll get him out of the office; keep him out as long as I can. You get in there and find the answering machine and get the tape.”

“You know how to do this stuff, I haven’t got a clue,” Belle moaned, hugging her notepad tighter. “I need you.” Aden scoffed.

“You need who?” He asked her. “Me or any good reporter who’s roughly as pretty?”

“Oh Spike,” Belle whispered, “I love you on a personal level too,”


“Sincerely.” Belle completed. Aden raised an eyebrow.

“You love me at a personal level, sincerely?” He repeated. “Now I know who sent me that valentine!” He exclaimed. There was a moment of silence. “Let’s get the tape. I've got a plane to catch.” Aden pushed himself off the wall and began walking towards Mr. Chambers’ office.

“But Spike, listen!” Belle called out as she followed him. “You know how I feel about you; I know how you feel about me, so let’s make it official.” She told her ex. “I’m offering you a job.”Aden came to a stop and turned to face Belle.

“You’d pay me to stick around here?” He asked her in disbelief. Belle shrugged.

“It’s gotta count for something,” She told him. Aden stepped forward and lowered himself to Belle’s level.

“There really is no depth to which you will not stoop, is there?” He asked her. Belle folded her arms across her chest and grinned smugly.

“I guarantee it.” She said seriously. Aden scoffed and walked down towards Chambers’ office. Belle followed him. Aden looked into the office.

“Nice office for a councillor,” He said to himself.

“That’s only his weekend job,” Belle informed him. “In real life he’s some kind of company director.” Aden stuck his hand in hic pocket and pulled out a small book.

“Your passport?” Belle asked him. Aden nodded.

“Watch,” He told her, walking into the older man’s office. “Excuse me sir, Jeffries from building security.” He held out his passport so that the councillor could see his photo. “I wonder if you could help me out.” Chambers nodded and rose from his chair. The pair walked out of the office. “It’s just that there’s this smell of gas, and I’d like a second opinion. The second guy’s gone off shift.”

“No trouble,” Chambers said, following Aden down the hall. Belle pushed the bathroom door open and walked out. She looked down at Aden and Chambers before walking into the man’s office. She walked over to his desk and saw a line of telephones. All of them were connected to a single cord. Belle picked it up and began following it down. One of the phones began ringing and Belle jumped.

“That’s my phone!” She heard Chambers call out. “I better get it.” Hurriedly, she pulled the desk drawer open and saw two machines.

“Hello, this is Antonio Chambers’ private line, leave your name and message,” The machine said. Belle pressed down the open button and pulled the tape out.

“Who the hell are you?” Chambers shouted from the door. Belle grinned and placed the tape in her pocket. She walked out from behind his desk.

“Belle Taylor, Coastal Junior,” She said, clutching her notepad against her chest. She pulled the tape out of her pocket and threw it at Aden, he caught it and the pair ran out of the office. Antonio sprinted over to his phone and picked it up. He pressed in a few numbers.

“Some kids have just stolen something from my office, don’t let them get out!” He shouted to the man on the other end. “What? What the hell is a possible code grey? Severe weather? They have it under control?” He asked in anger. He slammed the phone down and pulled out the drawer Belle had slammed shut. He laughed. “They’ve taken the wrong tape.” He said to himself.


“No sir, they haven’t appeared here,” Geoff told Gavin through the phone. “Yes, I will tell you the moment they do,” The newsroom doors banged open and Belle and Aden ran in. “Hang on.”

“Victory Geoff!” Belle shouted, holding up the tape. Geoff raised his fists in the air in triumph.

“Hey everyone!” He shouted out.

“Belle, what is going on?” Geoff asked his boss as she placed the tape down on the desk and pulled off her coat. “All hell is breaking loose here.”

“We thought if we took our time taking back things would heat up nicely.” Belle said, throwing her coat down on a free chair.

“And boy did they!” Aden added with a grin. Belle grinned back.

“Let me guess. Antonio Chambers is with Gavin Damons and you’ve just heard how Spike and I broke into his office?” Belle asked her best friend.

“Are you guys out of your heads?” Geoff shot back. Aden nodded.

“Tell them to come over,” Belle said to Geoff, folding her arms across her chest in satisfaction. Geoff rolled his eyes.

“Belle...” Geoff began to warn her. Belle shook her head.

“Trust me,” She told her best friend. Geoff and Belle looked into each others eyes for a minute before Geoff sighed and picked up the phone,

“Highest IQ in the room and I stay friends with her,” He complained to himself. Belle giggled. “They’re both here, and Belle says to come over,” He said to Gavin after pressing his line. “Well that’s what she says!” Geoff yelled. He smiled before handing up. Belle pulled the tape out of her pocket.

“Now get a machine and play this tape,” She said, throwing the tape down in front of the deputy editor. “See why we’re coming up trumps,” She added. Geoff sighed and picked the tape up. He rose from Belle’s chair and walked over to a supply cupboard.

“Belle...” Aden said hesitantly, rising from Geoff’s chair. “Look, I’d like to stick around for your big finale but if I don’t get back to my uncle’s, I’m going to miss America,” He informed his ex. Belle smiled sadly and grabbed his hands.

“Well miss it,” She said, letting go of his hands and wrapping her arms around his waist. “Stay.”

“I can’t,” Aden said, patting Belle’s shoulders softly, “I’d like to, but, well, the past is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here, you know,” Aden slipped out of Belle’s grip.

“Well, if I can’t persuade you,” The woman responded happily. Aden looked at her in confusion. Belle smiled at him.

“Hello, this is Antonio Chambers’ private line, please leave you name and number, and I’ll get back to you,” Belle and Aden turned around and saw that Geoff had set up a tape player, connecting it to the phone’s speakers.

“That’s the wrong tape,” Aden said in disbelief. “That’s the one that answers the calls, not records it.” Belle’s eyes widened in shock. “Belle, you took the wrong damn tape!”

“Wrong tape?” Belle repeated in shock. She focused on the tape player and didn’t look away, a look of horror across her face.

“The one that recorded the phone call is still in the machine!” Aden added. Belle didn’t turn away from the machine. “You took the wrong one!”

“So what do I do?” Belle asked her ex, finally looking away from the speakers. Aden scoffed. “Geoff, what do I do?” Geoff shrugged as Gavin and Antonio entered the newsroom.

“Belle, I hope you’ve got one hell of an explanation for this because if you haven’t,” Gavin shouted, advancing towards the visibly shaken editor. Antonio followed with a grin on his face.

“I haven’t,” Belle admitted.

“Belle, you’re in very serious trouble!” Gavin shouted at her. “Tell me there’s a reason. Tell me you’ve got something!”

“I haven’t got anything.” Antonio’s grin grew bigger.

“Well, this looks like the end of the road for you young lady,” He said, “I’m certainly not going to let this matter rest.” Belle turned to Aden.

“Spike, you better go, you might miss your plane.” Belle said, placing her hands behind her back. Aden looked at his friend in concern.

“Hey, no way!” Aden said to her, “This involves me too.”

“I think you’ll find they can’t fire you as editor,” Belle shot at him. “Please, just go. I’d rather you went.” Aden nodded and walked over to the front door of the office. Gavin watched him go before turning back to Belle.

“Belle, you broke into this mans office,” Gavin began, jerking his head towards Antonio. “You took something. You could be facing criminal charges!”

“Sir, I know!” Belle exclaimed. He turned to face Aden, who was still standing at the door, debating whether or not to leave. “Both of you!” He added. The phone began ringing and Aden glanced up at the clock.

“Don’t answer the phone!” He yelled, jumping over the desk in front of him. He ran over to Geoff and plugged the tape machine into the telephone.

“What the hell are you doing?” Chambers asked the American.

“Shut up!” Aden shouted. He turned back towards the phone and waited for the answering machine to kick in.

“Hello, this is Antonio Chambers’ private line, please leave you name and number, and I’ll get back to you,” The machine said.

“Antonio, its Robert Grainger,” The man responded, “Look, I've just had a pretty close run thing with that kiddie newspaper. I think it’d be safe if we both laid low for a while, so let’s just cool it on the planning permission thing until it’s a bit safer. Start disposing all your records of all our previous deals, mainly the Wellside Community Centre ones,” Aden jerked his shoulder towards the phone and Belle smiled, walking over to him. She leaned in and kissed him gently, Aden responded before pulling away, she grinned as he walked out of the newsroom. She ran her hand along her back. In her waistband was his passport, which she had just stolen. She grinned and picked up the telephone.

“Hello?” Grainger said. Belle looked over at Chambers.

“Hello,” She responded, “Coastal Junior.”

A/N: Alf Stewart fans are going to hate me in a few chapters time :P

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