Zane & Belle

Chapter One

Zane and Belle hugged tightly then gave eachother a long goodbye kiss. Zane had to go hunt down a man called Rolland Hall. He was sentenced to death by beheading for the torture and murder of five preteen boys. Three bounty hunters caught him and were taking Rolland to the first town where he kidnapped the very first boy he tortured. The other families who lost their sons were told to go there too so they could see him pay for what he did to their sons. On the way there Rolland managed to get loose from his binds and he murdered the three bounty hunters that caught him.

Rolland was now loose again which meant all preteen boys were in danger since they seemed to be what he targeted. Duke Fermin Chism, who was close friends with the first family was the one to break the news to the people waiting that Rolland escaped and killed the bounty hunters who were bringing him. They had no idea how many days he had been loose since there was no way of telling how long ago he killed the three. The three bounty hunters got a nice funeral and were thanked by everyone in the tone for their sacrifice.

After the service Duke Fermin called a meeting with the five sets of parents and told them about Zane. They wanted to see the monster die but didn’t want to risk the lives of any more bounty hunters. They agreed it would be best to send an assassin and they chose Zane since he came so highly recommended by Fermin. “This is the right choice. Zane will find him swiftly and no man or woman has ever escaped him. Rolland will be dead just as quickly as Zane finds him, I can promise that”

The parents offered to pay Zanes price for his service but the Duke wouldn’t accept. He would pay for this himself. Zane just stood there after the kiss, not wanting to leave Belle. Belle kissed him again “You need to go Zane, this is one man I’m very happy you’re going to kill. The longer you stand here with me the more chance he has to kill another persons son.” Zanes hug became tighter then he let go. “Would you like me to take you to Laura and Theos before I go?

“You’re just stalling still. They don’t live far from us. I can get there myself.”<

“I’m sorry, it’s just so hard to leave now that you’re my wife and you live with me.”

“Don’t be sorry for loving me.” She said with a happy smile. Zane kissed her one more time then forced himself to leave. When Zane was out of sight Belle packed her things. She wasn’t a loner by any means, in fact she hated being alone. When Zane had a job Belle would always visit a sibling or a friend. Theo, Laura, and Theo jr were going on a trip to visit one of Laura’s sisters. Belle was going to stay with Rapunzel and Casimer but Laura so happened to be there when Belle asked. Laura interrupted to invite Belle on the trip. Laura hadn’t had much opportunity to really spend time with Belle since her and Theo were already engaged and living in their own home when Cantaly gave birth to Belle.

Zane sighed as he rode quickly down the rode. He was already missing Belle and kept turning around to catch a glimpse of her even though he was to far away. He couldn’t wait to catch or kill that bastard Rolland. He would give him one chance and one chance only to turn himself. He would not risk the lives of innocent children for a chase. He would make sure the world was safe for any children he and Belle had. Belle made her way quickly to Theo and Laura’s house. She was excited to get to know her sister in law better and meet some of her family. She found her mind drifting to Zane. She had a surprise for him when he came home that she had been with holding so he wouldn’t stress the whole time he was gone. She believed she was pregnant. She had been feeling sick lately, wanting to throw up just about everything she ate. She didn’t really know how to tell for sure, but she knew deep down that she was carrying a baby.

“Aunt Belle.” Theo Jr. yelled and waved as she headed up the walk way. She waved as he called for his dad. Theo came running and grabbed her bag.

“Hey sister, how are you?”

“Good, tired.”

“How’s Zane?”

“He didn’t want to leave today, but I finally managed to get him out the door. I can’t wait until he gets home though. I miss him already.”

“well we will have fun and keep you distracted. We will be leaving right after breakfast in the morning.” When they got inside the house Belle asked “How did Laura tell you she was pregnant with Theo Jr?” He pulled Belle into a tight hug and lifted her up so her legs were dangling and her hands were on his shoulders. “you’re pregnant!?”

“I think so, I’ve been getting sick for no reason and I just feel like I am, you know?” Laura seemed to appear out of nowhere ‘Come here, I’ll use my sensor magic to see. I’ll be able to feel if another life force is in you”

“That’s so cool” Laura smiled “put her down Theo”

“Yes mam” he said as he set his sister on her feet. Belle walked over to her and Laura placed a hand on Belles small stomach. Belle was such a small woman that she could only imagine what she would look like when she was seven to nine months pregnant. Laura immediately felt a second life and smiled “you are” They excitedly hugged and Laura said “I just came right out with it. One morning I was staring at him trying to figure out how to tell him and I seriously just said I’m pregnant. You’re brother was way more thrilled than I thought he would be. I’m yet to see him as happy as he was when I told him about Theo Jr.”

“I hope Zane gets excited. I guess I’ll just come out with it when he gets home.”

“I’m sure he’ll be over the moon to have a child with you” They spent the rest of the evening chatting and went to bed early for their trip after breakfast. It was a long journey to Evelyns house and they would have to spend a night sleeping outside to get there. They needed to enjoy their beds and get good rest while they could before they were on the ground.

Zane knew he should stop and eat, but he wanted to get closer to where the bounty hunters had been killed before taking a break. Everyone was at risk, not just the boys, but anyone who got in Rolland’s way. He kicked his horse into a sprint, for once glad that Belle was not even close to him. She would hate to see him oushing the animal so hard. He finally stopped when his horse’s breath became ragged and the animal was stumbling. He swung out of the saddle and rubbed the horse’s neck.

“Forgive me boy. I know you can’t understand me, but I had no choice.” He pulled out an apple and cut it in half, giving one side to the horse while he ate the other. After they were done eating he watered the horse and sat down on the ground. He fell asleep setting up, his hand wrapped around the hilt of his dagger so he could easily kill anyone or anything that attacked him. He woke a few hours later to it still being night. He was thankful for the almost full moon and the light it provided.

When mornong came Belle was woke by Theo Jr. tapping on her door. She sat up and stretched, feeling suddenly very nauseus. She climbed out of bed and quickly dressed before going into the living room. She was greeted with smiles and immediately told to relax by both Theo and Theo Jr. Laura giggled as Belle sat down. “Theo was like that with me when he found out I was pregnant. He wouldn’t even let me lift a bag of flour to make cookies. It’s a very endearing trait he had passed onto our son.” Laura said.

“Theo has always been sweet. Do you need any help with anything? I could help with breakfast.”

“You should stay on the couch or you’ll have the men fussing over you. Theo likes to hover.”

Belle giggled, wondering how Zane would be. He already fussed over her. She coudln’t imagine the difference when he found out she was carrying his child. She happily imagined it until Laura was calling them all in the kitchen for breakfast. They ate quickly then the men loaded the cart, insisting Laura stay with Belle. “They do understand I’m barely pregnant?” Belle said to Laura who laughed “doesn’t matter. They just love us and are excited about a cousin and a nephew or niece. What’re you hoping for?”

“a girl so I can dress her in pretty ribbons, skirts and dresses like me. I know she might not always like that but for awhile I can make her really cute. I wont be dissapointed if we have a boy though. I’d love him just as much.”

“I know, there’s no shame in wanting a specific gender. What do you think Zane will want?”

“Just a healthy baby he can one day teach to kill people” Belle said uncomfortably, she didn’t want her child to be an assasin but knew they would be. It was somthing that had been going in Zanes line for generations. The first born was always an assasin. The others could be too but it was pretty much forced on the first born. Zane hadn’t said he was going to force that line of work on their kid but she didn’t know. It would be a fight if their son or daughter decided they didn’t want to be. It was one thing if they wanted it, she could accept that like she had accepted Zane but she wouldn’t let him make their son or daughter do that kind of work.

She didn’t see Zane as that type of man though. She was sure he would give their kid a choice in the matter. They talked a little more until the men came inside. They loaded up adn set on their way. Theo took up driving first. It was going to be a rotation of him, Theo Jr and Laura. Theo had declared that Belle wasn’t driving in her condition.

“It’s not like I have some disease and I’m not even showing yet.” Belle said.

“Doesn’t matter, dad said you are to relax and not stress.” Theo Jr. replied.

“If I didn’t love you two so much I would have killed you already. I’ll be good.”

Laura and Theo Jr. laughed, making Belle smile. She loved her family, even when they argued. Zane continued on, knowing he would reach his destination by tomorrow morning then he would track Rolland. He figured the best way to capture him was to back him into a corner with no chance of escape. He would have to make sure that there were no innocent bystanders around since Rolland would use whatever means necessary to get away. The man was like a rabid dog. His mind drifted to his beautiful Belle again. She had made him so happy with her acceptance of who he was. He had a lot of blood on his hands, but it was the blood of evil men. Sometimes he feared she would become sickened by him and want to leave. He loved his job, but there were some nights he stayed awake and worried.

His profession was something he had been born into. His father had said he was a natural so he learned fast. Even if he had not been, his father would have expected him to become an assassin anyway. He was not going to be like that. He wanted his children happy and healthy. The risks of being an assassin were very high and he wanted them to be able to say no. He stopped to feed and water his horse and eat a quick snack. He was going to ride through the rest of the day and all night, only stopping to give his horse a short break.

When they finally arrived at Evelyn and Roys house they were greeted by friendly smiles and warm hugs. Laura proudly introduced her sister in law to Evelyn and Roy. Belle knew from talking to Laura before that Evelyn couldn’t have children so even though she was excited and wanted to tell everyone she decided to keep her mouth shut. She really didn’t want to make Evelyn sad. Laura seemed to have the same idea and didn’t mention that Belle was with child. “since Belle hasn’t been to this town before why dont we show her around?” Evelyn suggested and Roy agreed. “Would you like to?” Theo asked and Belle nodded. “Why don’t the women go around. While I have two other men here I wanted some help with a few things”

“sounds good to me” Theo Jr said. “alright then” Theo said then hugged his wife and sister. Theo Jr followed suit then Belle walked out with Evelyn and Laura. “I hope this isn’t offensive Belle but I think you’re the smallest woman I’ve ever seen. You are not only short but your frame is so tiny.” Evelyn said, obviously regretting saying it atall as she spoke. Belle giggled “I don’t mind, I’m aware of it. I’ve never met a grown woman as small as me either”

“I’ve seen female dwarfs smaller than you” Laura winked and all three women laughed.

When Zane finally made it to the area where the bounty hunters had been murdered he dismounted. There had been no wind and rain, but there were a lot of prints from those who had come and retrieved the bodies. He sighed as he studied the ground, trying to get a sense of direction. tried to recreated whar had happened. He believe Rolland had attacked the man behind him first and taken his weapon. The men in front had probably turned around at the sound of their comrade screaming. Zane had been told one of the men in front had had his throat slit. He believed Rolland killed him first then ran the last man through and left him to bleed out of the road.

There were still dark stains where the men had fallen. The man who had been stabbed had been found on his side, but the impressiong in the dirt said he had fallen on his back. Rolland had turned him over to to get the key for his restraints. He believed from there Rolland had taken of into the woods to his right, away from the road so as not to be seen. He had to go into the woods to find the trail. He doubted Rolland had cared about being stealthy once he was out of sight and would be fairly easy to follow.

Zane laughed at how well he could predict people. There was a very visible trail in the dirt. The dirt here was extremely soft so left really good boot imprints. He could tell it was the same size boot that he was told Rolland wore. He began to follow the trail as swiftly as he could while still being silent. He didn’t want to rush and make Rolland aware that he was being followed. Zane stuck to the trees as much as he could while following the trail until he reached a large river. There were no footprints on the other side so Zane gathered he must have started walking through the river, probably realizing that they might send someone after him.

It was a very slow moving river and not very deep so it would be easy to walk through. A man like Rolland wouldn’t be able to resist his young preteen boys very long so he started running along the river towards a town. The other way just went into deeper woods. Rolland had proved many time he knew the land so Zane knew he realized which way to go if he wanted more boys to torture.

It sickened him, the people who liked to torture. His kills were always fast. Most his victims only felt seconds of pain before their life ended since he knew how to make them bleed out quickly. No matter how horrible the person he had no desire to make them suffer so he especially didn’t understand people who tortured for fun.

Belle wanted to get something special for Zane, something that she could give to him to tell him she was pregnant and that he would use. She was still worried about letting Evelyn know she was pregnant so couldn’t ask Laura for help. “Why don’t we get something to eat?” Laura said with a smile.

“There is a woman who sells pies and cookies at her stand during th day. They are very good.” Evelyn replied. She lead them through the the throng of people that were busy talking to the different vendors to an old woman sitting behind a small stall covered in baked goods. She gave Evelyn and partially toothless smile and got up to her hug her.

“Hello dear child, how are we today? Have you come back for more of my pie?”

“I’m doing really well and I’ve brought my sister and sister in law. I wanted them to try your delicious food.”

“How sweet of you. Let me cut you each a slice of apple pie.” They waited patiently and thanked the old woman when she handed them their food. Belle took a bite and thought she had died and gone to heaven.

“This is so good.” Belle said with a happy smile.

“Don’t eat to much to fast little one, you don’t want to irritate your stomach.” The woman winked and Belle looked shocked and blushed.

Evelyn asked “Is she pregnant?”

“Yep, you know I can spot them a mile away. She’s only just begun her pregnancy” The old woman said with a grin. Evelyn hugged Belle “congratulations! Did you know?”

“Yeah” Belle said slightly nervous but happy that Evelyn didn’t seem bothered. Evelyn giggled ‘you thought it would make me sad didn’t you? I accepted a long time ago that I can’t have children. I feel nothing but happiness for women who can. I promise. Thank you for caring about my feelings though, you too Laura. Did you tell her not to tell me?”

“No I didn’t. I knew you’d be happy for her but I just didn’t want to throw it out there” Laura responded. “well good luck Belle, I can only imagine a woman of your size is going to have trouble during the last months and in delivery. Delivery is always tougher for the smaller women. Thats what I’ve heard anyway”

“I’ll be fine. I’m not worried atall. My husband is a sweetheart and he’ll help me make it through the final months” Belle said in a proud tone. Evelyn smiled “good, now lets keep looking around” They decided to take Belle to an art exhibit. There was a lot in town where artists would come to display and sell their paintings. Belle was impressed by most of it. A few of the artists tried to sell to her but she wasn’t interested. She hadn’t brought a lot of money with her and she wanted to be able to buy whatever she found that would tell Zane she was carrying a baby.

One artist in particular seemed interested in talking to Belle. Laura could tell straight off it wasn’t his painting he wished to speak about. Laura stayed out of it though, knowing Belle was more than capable of telling him off if he overstepped himself. She was small but when you did somthing to upset her she let you know. It shocked Laura the first time she saw tiny little Belle snap at someone and proceed to tell them off.

“Excuse me miss,” he said and gave her his most charming smile, “I see you are enjoying my art.”

“Uh yes, it’s very life like. Did you use actual models?” Belle had a feeling he thought she was some naive, beautiful young woman he could easily charm. She internally rolled her eyes, but was willing to mess with him just a little.

“Yes, I feel that the human for is best explored on a more personal level.”

“So you had actual nude women in your home?” She covered her mouth as if in shock. “How daring of them.”

“There is nothing wrong with a young woman expressing herself through art.”

“Oh and by art you mean screwing you right?” He looked shocked by her words and she started laughing. “I know you probably already noticed, but I’m married and not just to anyone. My husband is Zane Koopmann.” His eyes got as wide as saucers. “I wonder what he would do if he knew you were flirting with me and trying to charm your way between my legs?”

He backed off, hands held up in a placating manner. Laura and Evelyn were both laughing behind her, tears springing into their eyes as they watched the previously confident artist practically running away. “That was just to much Belle. That poor man nearly pissed his pants.” Laura said and wiped her eyes.

“Good, the creep. I want to get something for Zane, a gift to let him know I’m expecting a baby. What do you think I should do?”

“There is a really neat furniture store not far from here. The man there makes everything by hand. He has some of the cutest rocking chairs. Maybe you could ask him to make you one with the words daddy’s story chair engraved in it or something.” Evelyn answered with a warm smile.

“That’s a perfect idea” Belle said then huggd Evelyn. “glad you like it. Lets go” They walked along until Evelyn pointed to a shop for them to enter. They quickly went inside and admired the creations Brad had laying around. “he’s good” Belle said and they heard Brad come in chuckling proudly “I’m glad you think so. How can I help you ladies?”

“How fast can you make rocking chair?’

“Fastest would probably be somtime tomorrow around dinner if I really put my back into it and got my boys helpin.”

“How long are we visiting?” Belle asked “Today and then two more days” Laura anwered. “I just need it before I leave sir. I’m pregnant with mine and my husband first child. I wanted you to make a nice rocking chair and engrave on it Daddys Story Chair”

“I’ll get right to work. I’ll make sure it’s very nice. Woudn’t want to dissapoint Zanes misses” Belle smiled “how’d you know he was my husband?”

“I’ve been to the castle before and have seen you with him princess. I wouldnt want to upset royalty either but I don’t think there’s any man I fear more than your husband” Belle smiled again “he’s a kitten unless you’re bad. Don’t worry about him” Brad chuckled “I will make sure your rocking chair is ready before you leave Belle. I’ll give it to you half off in honor of your father. He was a king to be proud in following. Your sister and her husband have been doing well. I’d say Gabriel picked the right heir.”

“Yeah, he did. Rapunzel really deserved to be queen”

“well let me get to work.”

“Bye, thank you!” Belle said and the girls left the store. “You must get a lot of regocnition as Zanes wife.” Evelyn said and Laura nodded dramaticly. “Nobody dares does a croos thing to Belle anywhere near where we live. If they know she’s Zane wife it is all yes and no mam”

“He’s not that bad, he’s really sweet.”

“He’s sweet to you and family, but if he had seen that man flirting with you he would have kidnapped and tortured him.”

Evelyn giggled and looped her arms through each of their’s. “You two are great. I’m glad you brought her Laura.”

Chapter Two

Zane came upon Rolland’s trail again. He had stepped out of the water and left boot prints in the muddy bank. The village wasn’t far from there which meant he had either already kidnapped a child or we was looking for the perfect one. He pulled his horse out of the woods, following broken twigs and the occasional boot print. He came to the village as the sun started to fall. He didn’t want to make himself known tonight so he decided to sleep in the woods then investigate the following morning. He found himself a comfortable place just out of sight of the village and sat down to eat.

Belle managed to slip her way into the kitchen and help Laura and Evelyn cook. Theo, Theo Jr., and Roy were still outside so they couldn’t stop her. She knew she’d probably get an ear full from her brother, but she wasn’t helpless and didn’t like just sitting there. She made empanadas while Laura and Evelyn made chicken and rice. The smell of food had her stomach growling and she couldn’t wait until it was done. She heard the front door open and the men came in, Theo immediately giving her the look.

“You should be relaxing.” Theo said.

“Oh calm down, I don’t even have a bump yet.”

“Come on get out, I can take over.” She grabbed a hand full of flour and threw it at him, making Laura and Evelyn giggle and Theo Jr. and Roy cough and cover their mouths as they tried not to laugh.

As Zane laid there his thoughts went to his Belle again. He thought of her warm smile and how perfectly she fit in his arms when they slept together at night. He would love to be holding her right now. He hoped she was having fun with everybody. He especailyl hoped she wasn’t filling her mind with what he was out doing. He was like a wild animal, stalking and hunting prey. He killed people for a living and it once again burdened him that one day Belle could look at him as nothing more than a monster. He didn’t know if he could take her sweet loving eyes looking at him with disgust and telling him they were over.

He pushed it out of his mind. He needed to rest to hunt Rolland and keep everyone safe. He hoped she would always concentrate on the aspect that he only killed people who deserved to die. He had never taken an innocent life and he never would. The next morning Belle rubbed her stomach. Her little boy or girl was making her feel bad again. She walked out of her room quietly since Theo and Laura were still resting. When she got into the living room she saw Evelyn working on another quilt to sell. Theo Jr was just watching her. When he saw Belle he quickly went over to hug her “morning Aunt Belle”

“Morning”

“The baby wake you?” Evelyn asked and Belle responded “yeah, I feel sick to my stomach”

“sorry sweetheart” Theo cleared his throat “why don’t you grab a muffin and then go out with me. I’m sure fresh air would do you some good. I’ve been wanting to spend some one on one time with you anyways.”

“sounds good.” Belle walked into the kitchen and grabbed a muffin. She finished it quickly then hugged Evelyn “Tell Laura and Theo not to worry”

“I will, have fun” when they got outside Belle said “that’s a beautiful quilt”

“Yeah, she sells them in the market once she has a good amount. They always go fast. She makes a good bit of money doing that”

“so where are you taking me?”

“somwhere we can ahve space so I can show you the tricks dad has been teaching me with my sword and a few things he’s taught me so I can fight just with my body”

“sounds cool”

Zane walked along the outskirts of the village, leaving his horse tied up in the woods. He stayed out of sight as he scanned the faces of every man that got close enough for him to see. He counted at least six adolescent boys walking around outside. People not heeding a warning like keep your children inside always gave him such a headache. He sometimes wondered why they even said anything if people like this were going to allow the perfect victims to walk about as if nothing was going on. He sighed, not happy when he didn’t see Rolland. He knew he had to have come to this village. It was the closest there was. An hour passed and there was nothing but the sound of men and women working hard to provide for their families. Half an hour later he hear a scream, high pitched and obviously femenine. He burst from the woods, running into the vilage as a woman ran screaming into its center, her shoulder bleeding.

“What happened?” A man asked the panicking woman.

“He took my son, help me please.” She screamed, tears streaming down her face.

Zane grabbed her and made her look him in the eye. “Which way did he go? Tell me now.”

“He headed into the woods, going west.” Zane took off running, not stopping answer any questions. He knew at least a few of the villagers had to recognize him or at least his clothes. He pulled his hood over his head and his mask over his face, unsheathing his dagger as he raced into the woods. The hunt was once again on and he was ready to follow his prey to the ends of the earth.

Belle clapped and enjoyed all the tricks Theo Jr had to show her. She couldn’t wait to be doing this with her son or daughter. Currently what she was most excited about was telling Zane. She hoped his face would fill with happiness. Theo jr showed her his moves until he grew tired “lets get back” he said trying to pretend he just wanted to go home rather than he was exhausted. Belle stood “that was amazing. I bet Theo is proud”

“i try to make him proud.” Zane kept running until he heard the frightened screams and crying of a young boy. He followed it until he saw Rolland over the naked kidnapped boy. It looked as if Rolland had just cut the clothes off and was now beating him. Rolland didn’t even notice Zane until He found himself on the ground with a dagger to his throat “Run home to your mother boy” Zane commanded in a cold tone. Zane had to slip into a different mentality when he killed. He knew these were bad men but it was better to become icy so he wouldn’t risk having any hesitation.

Even though Rolland had a dagger to his throat he still looked up defiantly at Zane “I’d much rather the families you hurt get to watch you executed so will you come with me or do I kill you here? You are the only one I’ve given a preferred location for killing. Choose fast”

“Fuck you” Rolland growled and a second later he was gushing blood onto the ground, absolutely motionless and silent. Rolland hadn’t even had time to scream but Zane figured with how quickly he killed him that Rolland hadn’t even known what happened. One second he was alive and the other he was gone. Another piece of trash off the earth. Families could sleep at peace tonight, knowing nobody was coming for their little boys. He was happy he could do that for the people. He was especially happy to do it for Belle. With every kill he would think that was one less threat to her.

Belle sat next to Laura and Evelyn, watching the latter making a blanket. She had never really made anything like that and was really curious. “Can you teach me how to do that?” She asked hopefully.

“Of course, go into mine and Roy’s room and get in the closet. There is a big box full of cloth so pick out what you want.” Belle ran to Evelyn’s room, almost bumping into Roy as he was coming out.

“Sorry, Evelyn said I could get some material for sewing.” Roy smiled and moved out of her way. She threw open the closet, happy that the box was labeled. She dug through until she found a really pretty gold material and some deep purple. She thought it would make a really pretty blanket for the new baby. She headed back to the living room and sat down next to Evelyn, excitedly showing her the colors she had picked.

“Those are beautiful.” Evelyn said then handed her a needled and some dark purple thread she thought would go good with the material. She showed Belle how to do the stictches, never losing patience when she would make a mistake. She would just help her undo it and start again. Belle had so much fun learning a new skill and getting to know Evelyn.

“Evelyn really is the best teacher.” Laura said proudly. “I’m going to go make lunch, you two go ahead and keep sewing.”

“Are you sure, I can help?” Belle said.

“No you can’t.” Theo said as he walked into the house. “I’ll help, you sew. No arguing, you growing a baby is enough work.”

Belle was having fun so didn’t push the matter “Thank you for teaching me”

“I’m having fun with you” Evelyn said with a smile. She truly was enjoying teaching Belle. She had always wanted a daughter to teach to make quilts so teaching Belle gave her a little piece of that. Belle felt great pride when she started doing it with ease. She couldn’t wait to show Zane her new skill. She was so excited about so many things she didn’t know if she could contain it all. Her body felt that it just may burst. Zane drug the body into a denser part of the woods where he knew nobody would happen upon it and left it there for the animals to eat. Unless asked otherwise he would always feed the dead bodies of his kills for the animals. Some hired required he bring the head but Duke Fermin only ever wished the job done.

Zane walked back to his horse to go to Duke Fermins home and tell him his task was completed. He didn’t rush the horse this time since there wasn’t a mad man to be chased down. The Dukes home would only be a few hours from where he currently was. It was disgusting to Zane that Rolland had the nerve to head towords the town he was being sent to by those Bounty Hunters. He felt bad for that lot. So many of them died during their tasks. It was an honorable trade though. It was honestly the route people chose who wanted to help maintain peace and give justice where justice was due but didn’t want to kill by their own hands. All an assasin was, was a Bounty Hunter who just killed the criminal instead of bringing them in.

Since the horse got such a long rest he carried Zane without complaint all the way to the Dukes lavish home. Zane dismounted then approached the door. When it was open a servant who seemed to think Zane would kill him for no reason trembled at the site. This female servant was the only servant of the Dukes that seemed disturbed by Zanes presense. The other ones always greeted him with excitement. She started guiding Zane to the Dukes chambers, shakily and nervous as always.

Zane pulled his hood and mask down when he entered Duke Fermin’s study. The Duke looked up from some papers, giving Zane a smile. “It’s good to see you alive and well Zane. What news have you brought me?”

“Good news sir, Rolland is dead, his corpse left in the woods.”

“Good, thank you. I am sure the families of those children will be happy to hear it.”

“If it had been possible, I would have brought him back alive so they could have witnessed his execution.”

Duke Fermin waved his hand as if to dismiss such a thing. “An execution is an execution no matter where it is carried out. To tell you the truth I am glad it was done out of their sight. They have witnessed enough horror. Now, to your payment.” He turned his gaze to the nervous servant girl. “Please retrieve the bag on my nightstand.”

“Yes sir.” She curtsied and hurried out of the room.

“I don’t think that girl will ever get over your profession. She scares far to easy.”

“It’s not every day you face an assassin and when you do it usually means death.” Zane replied with a smile.

“That is true. So how is Belle?”

“Same as always, all smiles and understanding. I thought my profession would have scared her away by now.”

Fermin gave a loud laugh. “Gabriel’s children are all brave in their own way and don’t scare easily. My youngest son played with Belle when they were children and she’s a lot tougher than she looks. She could rough house with the strongest boys and not shed a single tear if she got hurt. So don’t think she’ll go running just because you have the blood of a few sickos on your hands. You’re not one of those kills anyone for any money assassins.”

“this is true. My line has only ever served the royals and who you deem a threat to society. It still worries me now and then she’ll leave”

“well calm your fears, she knew what you were when she started dating you and when you got married.” The nervous servant girl came back in and handed Fermin his bag. “Its already been counted out to your amount, well your newer one” Fermin gave a smile then asked “is your worry over Belle why your cost has gone up?” Zane nodded “Despite your comforts and the comforts of a few others I feel that every time I take a job I’m running the risk of loseing what’s most precious to me. With greater risk comes higher cost. I would be a very broken man if Belle ever decided I was horrific and left me.”

“well I don’t mind. You are worth more anyway. You are the only assasin I’ve never seen fail a job. You always find your targets and they always end up dead. I’ll pray on it Belle never leaves you. It would be a shame for such a skilled assasin to be ruined.” With payment in hand Zane left. He didn’t know if Belle would be home yet and Evelyns town was nearer than home anyway so he set off to Lauras siblings house to see if Belle was still there. He would go on until he found somwhere to make sure he was cleaned of any blood. He never allowed himself to return to Belle with any blood on him.

it was dark when he found a pond so Zane decided to rest for the evening. He gave the horse an apple then made his way over to the pond. A small amount of Rollands life stream had spurted onto his pants so when he disrobbed he pulled his pants in to clean them. He got out and hung them over a tree branch then looked over the rest of his clothing. He had managed to keep the rest of it blood free so now just bathed himself.

When he was sure there was nothing on him he got out and wrung out his hair then quickly braided it. He pulled his clothes back on and took a seat next to a tree. He leaned back and closed his eyes, dreaming of Belle and hoping she would be happy to see him. Belle lay staring up at the ceiling, her hand resting on her stomach as she thought about the beautiful baby growing inside. She wondered what it would be and what they would name it. She thought about their child’s future and what profession he or she might get into. She wanted them to be happy no matter what they did. She smiled when her mind drifted to the rocking chair. She knew Zane would enjoy reading to their child and even teaching him or her different languages.

She closed her eyes and drifted off into blissful sleep, Zane finding her even in her dreams, his arms holding her close and keeping her safe. The next morning she woke to Theo Jr. knocking on her door. She yawned and got up, pulling it open and looking up at him. “You have a special delivery.” He said and she arched an eyebrow in confusion. She hurried downstairs, smiling when she saw Brad.

“Good morning princess. I have something special for you. My boys and I worked very hard, even well past midnight to finish what you requested.” He opened the front door and waved at someone to come in. Two young men, about Theo Jr.’s age came in carrying a beautifully crafted rocking chair. Belle gasped as they sat it down, loving the lettering on the top and the gorgeous stain they had rubbed into the wood. They had upholstered the seat with a thick cushion so it would be comfortable to sit in.

She squealed then hugged both young men then Brad “Thank you! It’s perfect! Give me one second and I’ll pay you.” She ran up stairs, much to Theo and Theo jrs dismay. They gave her upset looks when she came down and Belle rolled her eyes. Laura just shook her head, she was going to drive the men in their family crazy. Laura was sure Zanes nerves would be a wreck dealing with her. They haggled price for awhile and it wasn’t Belle trying to make it cheaper, it was Brad. She finally forced him to take half of it’s normal price and he left along with his two boys.

“where can we place it while we’re here?” Theo asked Evelyn and Roy. Roy pointed to the corner of their living room and Theo moved the chair. “Come try it out” Theo said with a smile. He made sure it was far enough away from the wall to work. Belle sat, surprised how comfortable it was. She began to move back and forth with a very happy smirk. That silly smile was enough to get Theo Jr to let out a light laugh at his Aunt. Laura and Evelyn went to cook breakfast. Belle wanted to help but knew it would just lead to fussing so she stayed in her rocking chair.

After Zane watered and fed his horse he set off to Evelyn and Roys home again. He would make it there a little after lunch if he kept the horse at a steady pace. He began to get impatient but didn’t push the horse harder. He could already feel a little bit of resentment coming from the animal and didn’t want to make it worse. Belle would know how hard he had pushed it if it was acting ill tempered towards him. He was glad that the horse seemed to be forgiving him as they strode along since he was only guiding today instead of making her go faster than she wanted.

He couldn’t wait to see Belle’s smile and feel her warmth when she hugged him. He had not been gone that long, but he missed her so much. He was tempted to take her home the minute he got there, wanting her all to himself. He knew it was selfish, but he hated being away from her. Belle happily ate breakfast with her family. She couldn’t stop glancing at the rocking chair. Brad had put so much detail into it. There were dancing bears carved into the arms and under the words. It nearly moved her to tears.

“You okay sister?” Theo asked and reached across the table to grab her hand.

“Yes, I’m fine.” She answered softly.

“I think her hormones are just taking a turn.” Laura chimed in. “Remember how I was when I was pregnant? I cried all the time.”

“She was so weepy, I felt horrible for her sometimes.” Evelyn said, wrapping her arm around Bella’s shoulders.

“I hope it doesn’t last my entire pregnancy. I don’t want to drive Zane mad, I would hate to frustrate him.”

“Oh honey, he wouldn’t be frustrated with you, just the situation.”

The finished eating and decided to enjoy the sun. Evelyn had a beautiful garden in the back with herbs and flowers that made the air smell sweet. Evelyn made some tea and poured them all a glass. They headed out back and sat in the grass. Everyone talked about baby names and Belle decided that if it was a boy she wanted to name him Gabriel and if it was a girl Cantaly. She was sure not only Zane would love it, but her entire family would as well. Theo was excited and said he couldn’t wait until the baby was born.

They were still out back when Zane arrived. He knocked fortissimo not meaning to. He was just so excited he couldn’t help but knock hard. He needed to see Belle if they were still here. He would be majorly disappointed if Belle was already home. Roy answered, since this was his first time meeting Belle he didn’t know this was Zane “who are you?”

“Zane, I’m Belles husband. Is she still here?”

“Oh, you better wait here.”

“Why?”

“If you walk in you will ruin her surprise. It’s right here in the living room. Well I guess you don’t have to wait here. She is around back, just hop our fence. I’m sure a man in your line of work can handle a fence to get to his wife” Zane smiled “thank you for not ruining her surprise, I dont fake surprise well and it would have made her sad”

“I am married to so i know how it goes” Zane took off running and jumped the fence. He sped to Belle at a rate that scared Evelyn and even made Theo Jr jump a bit. He lifted Belle into a hug. It felt so good to finally have her in his arms again. She smelled just as sweet as always and her hug once again washed out any unhappiness he felt from commiting another kill.

“How was it?” She asked as she pulled back to look at him. “Were you injured?”

“It didn’t take me long thank heavens and no, not a scratch.”

She kissed him, making his heart skip a beat. “I missed you so much.” She rested her forehead against his, just breathing him in for a moment.

“Awe look at you two, so cute.” Laura said, making Belle blush and Zane grin.

“I was told you have a surprise for me.” Zane replied as he lowered her to her feet.

“Yes, I actually have two, but you have to see the first one to know what the second one is. So I have to cover your eyes.”

“Now I’m really curious. Cover my eyes then, I want my surprises.” She got behind him and put her hands over his eyes and everyone else got up, heading for the house. Roy held the door open and they all walked in. Belle walked him over so he was standing in front of the rocking chair, feeling a little nervous. She took a deep breath and uncovered his eyes. Zane stared at the chair, studied it’s beautiful handiwork. His eyes settled on the words: Daddy’s Story Chair. He smiled and turned around, huggin her tightly to him.

“Do you like it?” Belle asked.

“No, I love it Belle, I really love it.” He pulled back to look at her beautiful face. “I’m really going to be a daddy?”

“Yes.”

“You have no idea how happy I am.” He lifted her and spun her in a circle then lowered her to give her a kiss. “Thank you so much Belle. I promise to be a good dad.”

“You don’t have to promise my love, I know you’ll be amazing. I’m so glad you like the chair.” He sat down with her in his lap and gave a happy sigh.

“This is going to be perfect for story time.”

Belle loved how happy her husband looked. It made her feel like crying but she held it at bay. The next two days were relaxing and fun. Zane stayed even though he wanted Belle to himself. He just couldnt’ find it in him to rip her away when she was having so much fun. Theo and Laura wanted them to stay for dinner when they returned home but Zane just couldn’t share her a second longer. They borrowed their cart to take their rocking chair home and promised to bring it back in the morning. Zane almost forgot to unhook the horse he was so glad to be home. Belle laughed “the horse honey” Zane put Belle down then unhooked the horse as he appologized.

He took the rocking chair out and put it in their living room. Once it was in a spot both he and Belle liked he lifted his wife and sat down before kissing her. It was almost too much somtimes how much love was packed in his kiss when he left for a job and came back. Even short trips like that seemed to make him miss her immensly. She hoped he was always like that. “Have you thought of names?”

“If it’s a boy I want him to be Gabriel and if it’s a girl I want her to be Cantaly.” Zane smiled “that’s a really good idea.”

“I’m so glad you like it. They desere to be honored in that way.”

“They do” Zane would especially love to honor the previous king in such a way. When Zane asked for Belles hand in marriage, if the king said no it would ahve been illegal to propose to her. It was just a curtosey for normal people but the king had to approve of who his daughters married. If Gabriel hadn’t have been open and been one of those stuck up kings he wouldn’t have his Belle, his sun and moon. Now she was giving him a baby. He would without hesitation name his chlidren after those two great people. He just sat there holding Belle close as he thought about how lucky of a man he was.

~ The End ~

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