Bella was surprised how quickly she fell in love with Joey. He was handsome, smart, funny and charming plus he was the brother of her best friend’s husband which made her life very easy. The relationship moved quickly and soon Joey moved in with the Starr family. They fell into a comfortable routine just enjoying being in each other’s company.
For Bella it was effortlessness. Joey got along famously with the rest of the family and slotted into the day to day routine like a round peg in a round hole.
With her personal life so straightforward, it gave Bella time to focus on her work. Orders poured in every day for her artwork and soon she got the funds together to open up her own space in the Bridgeport Art Gallery. She displayed all her best work here and even some of her old favourites.
The Gallery threw a big launch party in Bella’s honour. Critics and fans alike swamped the galleria, snapping up her work and complimenting her on her creations.
Brendan even came home for her big day. He bought with him his new bride. She was apparently some famous model, though Bella had never heard of her and feared that her style of modelling was not something that could be found in her Cosmo magazines. But Brendan seemed happy and that was all that mattered to Bella.
Towards the end of the evening, April approached her sister and asked to have a word. “What’s up sis,” Bella asked.
“I, well we, me and Sissy that is, have some news,” April started looking nervous.
“Come on then,” Bella pushed getting impatient.
“We are going to have a baby,” April cried.
“Oh my god,” Bella shrieked. “When? What? How?”
“Well Sissy has wanted a child for a long time. So we found a donor and now she’s pregnant.”
“I’m shocked,” Bella replied. “But happy shocked. Why did you not tell me before?”
“Well we didn’t want to say anything until we were sure it could happen and then we found out this morning that Sissy is pregnant. We told mum, but did not want to tell you as you were so stressed with the event. But I just can’t hold it in anymore!”
Bella gave her sister and big hug and then called out to Sissy. “Sissy, get your butt over here now girl,” she called out.
Sissy came over looking very sheepish. “I told her,” April said.
Bella pulled her into a big hug. “Congratulations darling. I am so happy for you,” she said squeezing her sister in law.
“I’m so happy too,” Sissy replied.
After the success of the launch, Bella got given a bigger space at the Gallery and was soon the headlining artist. She went there every day to check on the progress of things and to see if there were any questions from potential customers. “Evening Janey,” she said greeting the receptionist one day. “Any messages?”
“Not exactly,” Janey replied. “But a young man did come in looking for you earlier. He came back two or three times asking after you but I have not seen him in a while.”
“Who was he? Did he leave a name?”
“No he didn’t but he was tall and blond and quite dishy.”
Bella scratched her head. It can’t be, she thought to herself. Not after all this time.
That evening, everyone was out so Bella had dinner alone with her mum. It was nice to have time together just the two of them for a change. “So how’s thing,” Allie asked. “With you and Joey I mean?”
“Good, good,” Bella replied. “You know how it is. He’s lovely. It’s nice to be in an uncomplicated relationship for a change.”
Just then the two ladies heard music coming from outside. “What the devil is that,” Allie asked.
“I have no idea,” Bella replied looking around confused. “Its coming from outside.” Both ladies peered through the window only to see Charlie standing there playing the guitar.
“What the…..” Bella shrieked running outside.
“Charlie,” Bella exclaimed. “What’s going on? What are you doing here?”
“Just let me finish,” Charlie replied trying his best to strum on the guitar. His attempt sounded like a strangled cat. Bella could not help but laugh at the concentration in his face while he tried to play.
Eventually he finished whatever tune he had been trying to play and let out a huge sigh. He looked up at Bella and started to laugh too. “I know that was awful,” he said, “but I remember how much you like rock stars so what better way to impress you.”
Bella laughed again. “That was like years ago,” she chuckled. “Things are a bit different now silly.”
Charlie smiled back at her then looked serious “Listen Bella, I know I am probably six years too late but….”
Bella knew what he was about to say, she could see it in his eyes and she had to stop him. “I’m engaged,” she interrupted.
Charlie looked like he had been smacked in the face. “Do you want to come in,” she asked him.
“No it’s ok,” he replied his hanging down. “I guess now I know and I can stop wondering. It’s my own fault.” He then turned around and walked off.
Bella watched him go. Desperate to stop him but unable to. She was engaged to Joey now and that was how it was. Allie watched from the window as her daughter’s shoulders sunk and she started to cry.
Allie and Bella did not mention what had happened to Joey, there was no need to. But as the weeks rolled by Bella could not get Charlie out of her head. She found herself backing off from Joey and refusing his advancements more and more. After another sleepless night, she rose from her bed and went and sat on the balcony looking up at the stars and pondering her future.
Soon she heard the French doors slide open and footsteps padding out behind her. She braced herself.
“What’s going on Bella,” Joey asked standing behind her. “You haven’t been yourself for a while now. Tell me what’s going on. Please!”
The next day Bella rushed to get the door. “Thank god you’re here,” she cried seeing Gaby balancing Billy on her pregnant stomach.
“What’s going on Bella,” Gaby asked. “Why did I have to rush over so fast?”
Bella ushered Gaby inside. Then she turned to her and just blurted it out. “Me and Joey broke up last night!”
“Oh honey. Are you ok? Why didn’t you call me before? What happened?”
“I had to do it,” Bella replied.
“It’s going be fine,” Gaby said trying to sooth her friend. “It is so natural to be nervous before you get married. Do you remember me? Don’t worry, Joey is going to understand. You just need to talk to him. Just set a time to meet. Tell him you need a day or two to think things over.”
“I have to call Charlie,” Bella exclaimed needing to shut Gaby up.
“Yes I have to talk to him. I have to tell him I’m not getting married.”
“Stop,” Gaby commanded. “Just stop for a minute. I saw him. I saw Charlie the other day.”
“You did? Where?”
“I was in the bridal shop collecting my dress for your wedding and he was in there getting measured for a suit. Bella I’m sorry but he’s getting married!”
“What do you mean he’s getting married? How do you know?”
“I overheard him talking to the man who was measuring him. The man asked him when the wedding was and Charlie told him it was today. Then man asked if Charlie was nervous and he replied that he was excited but his parents were nervous to be letting go of their child.”
“Oh my god,” Bella sighed. She felt a pain in her heart she had never felt before. “We have to stop him!”
“NO BELLA,” Gaby shrieked. We can’t! You can’t. He’s getting married, it’s too late.”
“No its not,” Bella cried. “Come on,” she beckoned running to the front door.
Gaby had no idea why she had agreed to along with this, but she knew she had to be there to catch Bella when she fell. “What are you going to say,” she asked hanging onto the car for dear life while Bella drove like a bat out of hell into the city.
“I don’t know yet,” Bella replied. “I’ll figure something out when we get there.”
They heard the bells from the chapel chime blocks away in the car. Bella put her foot down and drove even faster. They pulled up outside the chapel and stopped dead. The ceremony was over! The guests were out the front getting ready to go to the reception and Charlie was in the arms of the bride.
Bella watched on caught in a trance. Tears rolled down her cheeks and she found her feat glued to the spot. She heard Gaby’s voice in the distance beckoning her to go but she could not move.
Eventually the bride let Charlie go and went off to greet some of her guests. Charlie looked up and locked eyes with Bella.
He walked over to her and smiled. He reached out and wiped the tears from her cheek. “Why are you crying,” he asked softly.
“It’s too late,” Bella whimpered. “I’m too late.” Charlie smiled even wider and leant in giving Bella a soft kiss on her lips.
“You’re not too late,” he said. “It’s my sister who just got married, not me.”
Bella looked over Charlie’s shoulder to see the bride now cooing with another man that was obviously her husband.
Bella burst out laughing and wiped the tears from her own face. But the tears just kept coming as Charlie bought her into his arms and kissed her again. This time she knew he was not going anywhere!