The Great Pretender
Seduce My Mind and You Can Have My Body; Find My Soul and I'm Yours Forever
Adam stood in the terrace of his sprawling beach 'cottage' – if one could call a 'cottage' a sprawling baby mansion with twelve bedrooms and a full staff – and looked down to the beach below.
The air was cool, and the sun made only a feeble attempt to warm the day, getting in the water was unthinkable but that didn't dim the smile of the woman walking on the beach, the sea breeze playing with the loose locks of her hair.
He loved watching her move and would have stayed there in the terrace for a long while doing just that but, even though he hadn't made a sound, Rose seemed to notice him and turned to him, a wide smile lighting her face.
"Adam!" She called and waved him over.
Obediently, Adam made his way down to the beach, where his wife waited for him. "Have you been up and about for long?" He asked, wrapping her in his arms.
"Not too long, I wanted to wake you but you never get to sleep in so I decided to let you rest."
"You should have woken me, you know I like being with you every second I can." Adam said in a lightly reproaching tone but kissed her sweetly all the same.
Rose understood, Adam was Adam, when they were in Town he worked all the time and though he always made time to be with her everyday, it was rare they got to be alone together without the pressures of the outside world. But he had looked so peaceful that morning and she wanted to let him rest.
"I missed you every step I took," Rose said softly and burrowed deeper into his arms.
"Next time just stay in bed with me," Adam entreated.
"I will but today I wanted to think about something." Rose said. "Something I have to tell you."
"Good news?" He asked lightly but Rose knew the question was anything but. Rose smiled, after everything that happened to bring them together he wanted nothing but good news surrounding him and the woman he loved.
"It's the very best of news..."
From Always by A. R. Coop.
When one left one's beloved wife sleeping like the dead in a hotel room, one usually did not expect to find said beloved wife screaming, crying and throwing the entire contents of her suitcase against the wall upon one's return.
"Cupcake?" Liam asked when he opened the door of the suite him and Belle had checked in the previous night and found Belle tossing her clothes every which way.
"Don't even start with me!" Belle said, holding up a pair of pants and proceeding to throw them against the wall too after a moment's inspection.
"What is it?" Liam said, moving slowly to her side as if fearing sudden movement might spook her or send her into another fit of throwing things.
"None of my clothes fit!" Belle almost wailed, "Not even my fat pants! They fit comfy when I packed them three days ago! Now I can't get them up! I told you my tummy got bigger but you said it was all in my head! Now I have nothing to wear for the rest of this trip! Not even underwear!"
"I'm sorry," Liam said, wrapping his arms around Belle and rocking her a little, trying to soothe her. "It's all my fault I should have listened. I'm the very worst of husbands." He said and Belle snorted. "I did, however went out to find those mini-donuts that you like." He added, passing her the paper bag he was carrying.
"You just want to make me fatter." Belle said but that didn't stop her from reaching into the bag and grabbing one of the soft donuts, covered by chocolate and sprinkles.
"Of course not, I just want my Cupcake and my Mini-Cupcake to have their favorite treat." Liam said, rubbing her stomach where their baby – or 'mini-cupcake' as Liam liked to call her – was growing.
Belle was in her fifth month of pregnancy and had begun to show just a few weeks ago – which the doctor told them was normal with the first baby – and since then her belly had grown quite a bit but he honestly didn't notice, all he knew was that his wife was carrying his baby and as far as he was concerned that entitled to get as fat as she wanted, it wouldn't change the fact he thought she was the most beautiful woman in the history of the world.
"For a Mini-Cupcake, your daughter takes a lot of space." Belle said darkly but she too patted her stomach a little. When she wasn't worried about having to appear in public in less than three hours and not having anything to wear, she was quite pleased with her big stomach and the baby girl that grew inside.
Liam kissed her, "Now, the problem is that you have nothing to wear for today's book signing?"
"Yes, and I promised to have breakfast with Gwen before going to the bookstore for the event. She wants to talk about the new book."
"Call Gwen and tell her you'll meet her after." Liam said, scooping Belle up and settling her back on the bed and going about the room righting it a little.
"I'm sorry I made such a mess," Belle said.
"No problem, you didn't break anything and housekeeping will get the rest." Liam said, "Now, we can order some room service for breakfast and then do some shopping."
"I don't want to go shopping, my feet get way swollen! Look at my toes! They look like little cocktail sausages."
"Cute little cocktail sausages," Liam said, going back to her and kissing her. "And don't worry about walking. I have something planned."
An hour later, Belle had showered and laid on the newly made bed, wrapped in an extra fluffy terrycloth robe, eating ice-cream and watching TV while Liam answered the door.
In came a small army of bellboys and maids, carrying many different boxes and bags filled with all sizes of maternity clothes.
"What's all this?" Belle asked, sitting up a little.
"Since you didn't want to go shopping, the mall came to you." Liam said as he tipped the bellboys and maids. While Belle was in the shower, Liam had called a stylist he knew who specialized in working with celebrities who were pregnant, and asked him to put together a selection of all sorts of clothes Belle might like, so she didn't have to go out shopping.
"Oh! Is this all for me?" Belle asked, suddenly more interested in the many bags now scattered around their suite.
"Yes," Liam said, going back to the bed and helping her sit up. "I called in a favor or two."
"Thank you, Liam." Belle said, throwing her not inconsiderable girth at him, lately she was emotional; all her feelings close to the surface.
"Anything for you, sweetheart." Liam said.
Later, when Belle was busy answering questions about the Adam Byrne Trilogy and signing autographs, Liam walked through the bookstore pretending to browse the many books in display. But in actuality, Liam was looking at Belle, partially to make sure she didn't tire or got upset, and partially because he loved watching her.
Belle's genius had never extended to social skills, so Liam had half dreaded Belle's going on a book tour, especially because the first one took place late in the spring when he was all tied up on the set of The Scoundrel and couldn't be with her. But Belle surprised everyone by being friendly, warm and right out charming with everyone in the book tour.
It was a side of Belle that Liam had little opportunity to see before but he liked it, she was comfortable and relaxed and her face glowed. He knew he was acting like a complete sap, but just the sight of her calmed his insides and now that she was pregnant... well, he had never known before just how happy he could be.
As the event went on, Liam drifted a little toward the back of the store, he had learned that if he acted normal and didn't try to hide, people rarely took notice of him and if they did they never quite placed him, as if the general public couldn't believe that a TV actor would just show up at their corner store – or bookshop in this case – and act like a regular human being.
Things were wrapping up when he reached a magazine stand next to the register, there on the front cover of Star News L.A.! was a huge picture of Ashley Graham in black and white, showing just how incredibly beautiful she had been. Liam had known about the special issue of the magazine featuring Ashley, this month marked the tenth anniversary of the release of Ash's most successful film, the one that had sent her to the A-List of young Hollywood, Love the One You Are With, a teen romantic comedy that had been so wildly accepted that it turned important.
Since they were releasing a special Collectors Edition of Love The One You Are With, they decided to use Ash's tragic image to boost sales. Once upon a time that would have pissed Liam off but he was finally at a point in his life where he could see Ash's flaws and virtues and think of her as the girl he had shared his childhood with, he still felt the loss of a friend, he still loved Ash but it had been years since he had been In-Love with her.
Now she was just a memory of the past.
These days his life and future revolved around Annabelle Rose Moore, the Mini-Cupcake they had in the oven and the life they were building together. With Belle in his life Liam didn't have to pretend to be happy, he simply was.
"It's a wonder I don't have an inferiority complex," Belle said, coming to his side and picking up Star News L.A.! "Did you have to date all the pretty women of Hollywood save for my sister?"
"You don't have anything to feel inferior about," Liam said, hugging her and then leaning down to whisper in her ear. "You're pretty, kind and I love you more each day. Besides, you're WAY kinkier in bed than any of them."
"Liam!" Belle protested and blushed but Liam just kissed her quiet and then kept kissing her least the subject be brought up again.
From afar, Belle's editor Gwen Lambert looked at the couple and sighed. She knew she ought to interrupt them, she did have important business matters to discuss with Belle but she also had to admit that if she had a husband who was that gorgeous and that attentive, Gwen would probably forget about business and let him corner her in bookshops for an impromptu make out session, too.
With a sigh, Gwen turned to give Belle and Liam some privacy. This, after all, was the best part about being in the book-business: The Happily Ever After.
End of Epilogue II
End of The Great Pretender