Family Expectations

Chapter 1-

Belle Black, in the eyes of Salem, is what every woman should be, smart, successful, and gorgeous. However, in the eyes of her family she was lacking one important thing, a man. Since before Belle can remember her family warned her away from males in the romantic sense, always saying they would sidetrack her from her studies. Her family towed the line while she was in high school, college, and graduate school, and so they believe that was why she achieved the highest honors in all three. After completing her education, Belle took her rightful position as a vice-president of marketing at her families company, Basic Black. Two weeks into her new job she accepted her first date, figuring her family would be happy for her but that was not the case.

Belle's actions resulted in many phone calls and uninvited drop-byes by her family. Her family used their same old line but with a slight alternation, instead of studies it was career. Now, one would think that Belle being an adult would have paid no mind to her family's irrational fears, but years of conditioning had her well trained, she canceled the date. Peter, the guy who dared ask her on a date, was transferred by her father (under her mother's orders) to another state as punishment.

For the past three years Belle had refused all advances made to her and instead put all her energy into work. After three years Belle was named CFO of Basic Black over her older brother Brady. Then everything changed, her family decided that she getting old (at only 27) and she must settle down. Belle first hint that her family had changed their minds was about three months ago at the weekly family dinner at her parents.

Normally, the only people present at the dinner are her parents, Brady and his wife Chloe, and herself. On that fateful day, three months ago, she entered her parent's home to find not only her family but also eligible men. Yes, men, not one, but five. All the men were, of course, single. Marlena introduced Belle to each one stating that Belle is her "very single, very attractive, and very rich daughter" and that was the high point of the evening.

After the first incident, as Belle would later call it, Belle had a heart to heart with her mother about her staying out of her private life. Believing that she had nipped the issue in the bud an unaware Belle went to her parents a week later for another family dinner. This time there was only one man and again her mother introduced her as her "very single, very attractive, and very rich daughter." Not wanting to go through another bad night again Belle lied to her mother. Belle told her that she had a present for her mother in the car and must go and get it for her. Belle went to her car, got in, and drove back to her apartment for a quiet evening.

An hour into her quiet evening she was disturbed by a loud knock on the door and upon opening the door she found Police Chief Carver. Apparently, he received a frantic phone call from Marlena saying that Belle had been kidnapped. After listening to what happened that evening Chief Carver assumed that Belle was probably at her own place. Finding Belle alive and safe he just wished her a good night, suggested that she call her mother, and said that he would see Belle at his 25th wedding anniversary party.

Tonight was the night of the Carver 25th wedding anniversary party and Belle was on edge waiting to see who her mother would spring on her this time. In defense of Marlena, she had not tried to set up Belle in the last month and there in lies the problem. Belle knew her mother would not quit on her quest so after month of relative peace and quiet she knew that her mother must be up to something big and that is why Belle is on edge.

Upon entering the Carver's home she glanced around and found to her surprise no males close in age to her. Belle let her guard down and was thankful that her mother did not convince Mrs. Carver to invite all single Salem men to her anniversary party. As Belle entered the living room she was greeted by her parents and quickly said "hello."

"Sweetie, I just love your hair! It always looks so nice down in lose curls, you should really wear it like that more often", was Marlena's response to Belle's hello. Her Father just responded with a kiss on her cheek and said, "you look beautiful in the dress."

"Thanks dad"

"Oh, is that from the new line?" asked her mother.

"Yes"

"So any new man in your life?"

"Marlena, that is not subtle. You said that you would be subtle."

"Well, I am sorry John. You said you were concerned too!" Ignoring her parent's line of question Belle tried to steer the conversation away from her. "So dad, how is golf going?"

"Actually, I am taking a brake from it, it raised not lowered my blood pressure. I have moved on to sailing. The water is supposed to be soothing."

"Aren't you a bit old?" Her mother just snorted and her father glared at her while replying, "for the last month I have been taking lessons from a guy who has been sailing all his life. A real knowledgeable guy, has a 32 Hans Christensen, you and your mother should come out one of these days and learn how to sail. I think I am going to get a sailboat. . . . " As her father continued on Belle was busy trying to catch the attention of a server passing out Champagne, she really needed a drink. As the server walked pass her she turned her back on her parents and grabbed a glass, not hearing her father say, "Oh, look Marlena he is here, Belle you must meet him." As Belle turned back toward her parents she came face to face with the very attractive and apparently newly returned Salemnite-Shawn Brady.