By Thomas Mc
Paulette jotted some more notations onto the sticky note she had attached to the page she was currently reading. Her boss had given her a new manuscript to edit and she had brought it home so that she could take it below over the coming weekend. She was planning to discuss her proposed changes and corrections with the author himself while down there. It was a new book from Peter Chandler-Wells, she knew him as her husband's oldest brother. She chuckled to herself, wondering how the bosses at the publishing company she worked for would react if they ever got a look at the extremely elusive author of the most popular series of children's books since Dr. Seuss, and her publishing house's biggest moneymaker.
Paulette was also looking forward to spending time with two of her best friends, Peter's wife Cherry, and Emily Hanson the supermodel. Emily had taken a hiatus from her modeling career while expecting her second child and her husband Devin Chandler-Wells was currently walking on air. Their first child, Daniel, was just over a year old and already he was turning into a real handful.
Paulette hoped someday to have one just like him. In fact Paulette would be quite happy to fill her house with Joseph's offspring. Though they had yet to be successful, Paulette was still looking forward to the children she hoped to have with Joseph. She loved the children from Below, especially the young Chandler-Wells boys. They were such delightfully impish little miracles and she looked forward to having a few of her own. Doctor Robin had said that her extremely irregular cycle might cause a few difficulties but she and Joseph were both fertile so it was just a matter of time and luck.
Paulette's first inkling that she had already become pregnant was right after she felt the pangs of miscarriage. Joseph felt her distress from the kitchen and was instantly by her side.
Once he got her safely placed in bed, Joseph immediately called Doctor Robin Alcott. A half hour later she was at their place checking Paulette over. After chasing Joseph out of the bedroom she gave Paulette a much more thorough examination. Paulette could tell by the look on Doctor Robin's face that she was not happy about what she was learning. Finally Robin had finished her examination and she called Joseph back into the room.
Joseph went straight to Paulette's side and put his arms around her. Being an empath he already knew that the news was going to be bad.
As soon as Joseph had settled, Robin took a deep breath and started speaking. "As my father used to say, there is no point in sugar coating this, so I'll just give it to you straight." She paused a moment to organize her thoughts. "To begin with, it is highly unlikely that Paulette will ever be able to bear children." She gave the shocked couple a moment to absorb her pronouncement. She knew how much Paulette wanted to have a family, both for Joseph and for herself. Finally she continued. "During my examination, I discovered that there is significant scarring on the uterine walls." She paused again. This was neither the time nor the place to go into the cause of the scarring. She could talk to Paulette about it later, privately. "As a result of this scarring, it will be extremely difficult for you to successfully become pregnant. The chances of the fertilized egg finding a good site to attach itself is very slim. Even if it does and you do become pregnant, it will be virtually impossible for you to carry the fetus to term because there isn't sufficient undamaged surface area for the placenta to absorb enough oxygen and nutrition to support a growing baby."
Joseph held Paulette tight as she absorbed what Robin had told her. Tears sprang to her eyes as the sorrow of her tragic situation swept over her. She couldn't help blaming herself for this sad turn of events. That scarring was a relic of the most disastrous of her various unhappy affairs, there had been no love involved in that one. Bill had been so charming and handsome but within weeks he had turned out to be a sadistic monster. It had taken several months for her to recover from the damage he had done.
That memory led her thoughts to Frank. Despite his later betrayal she couldn't deny that it had been Frank that had helped her get over that horrible ordeal. Actually it had been Frank's later betrayal that had led directly to her first meeting with her beloved Joseph, so despite being a total stinker, she couldn't find it in her heart to feel too harshly towards him.
The warmth of Joseph's loving presence brought her back to the present. "Is there anything we can do?" She pleaded.
Robin thought a moment. "We already know that there is nothing wrong with either the sperm or the egg cells involved, so that leaves artificial insemination with a host mother as the best option for natural genetic offspring." She paused then forged ahead. "There is however one other obstacle we would still face." She paused to consider her words. "Paulette, the extreme irregularity of your cycle would make the timing very difficult when it came to harvesting a good fresh egg cell."
Robin gazed sympathetically at Paulette. "However, if you can find a suitable, willing host mother, I will do my best to help you with everything else." She closed her doctor's bag, a gift from her father when she had joined him in practice, and nodded to them both. "I'll let myself out and leave you two to talk about your options." She picked up the bag. "Call me if you need anything." She turned and left. Paulette was feeling totally wiped out, physically and emotionally, so they both went to bed shortly after Robin left.
~ x x x x x ~
Paulette spent the first part of the next morning telling Joseph the whole story about the source of the scarring that resulted in their current difficulty, she felt she owed him that explanation, then watched worriedly as he digested the information.
After several seconds of silence Joseph looked into her eyes and spoke. "That is all in the past. Water under the bridge." He paused a moment. "It's not your fault that . . . that . . ." Joseph looked around like he was searching for something, then he looked back into her eyes. His were now cold blue steel. "I just can't think of a word vile enough to apply to that monster that did this to you. What happened wasn't your fault and I will not have you blaming yourself for our current problem. I just hope I never cross paths with that monster or I may just do something that I don't even want to contemplate."
The look in his eyes softened as he put his arms around her. "Like Robin told us, there are options." He kissed her.
~ o ~
Joseph and Paulette had been discussing some of their options for a while now. They had yet to come up with a satisfactory solution. They were going over the very short list of people that they could approach with the host mother option when their attention was drawn to the video monitor. It had been left on from a movie that they had been watching a few hours earlier to unwind. The words 'For what it's worth' appeared across the bottom of the screen. That particular segment of the news was always good for a laugh and right now they desperately needed to lighten the mood. Joseph grabbed the remote and turned up the volume.
The news anchor looked over at the newsman immediately to his right. "I see the full moon brought out an unusual crop at the park last night."
The other newsman responded. "That's right John, only the full moon, or moons, were on the backsides of a bunch of teenagers." The commentator chuckled at his own joke. "For what it's worth, a group of college kids that were making out in Central Park last night saw, get this, 'The Creature of Central Park' chase down grab and run off with a screaming young woman." The announcer smiled out of the screen. "We did some digging here at WNYC and found that stories of the creature go back nearly three quarters of a century. He seems pretty active for his age." There were a few more sly remarks about teenagers, hormones, alcohol and urban legends.
Joseph rolled his eyes. "When it rains it pours."
"What was that about?" Paulette asked worriedly.
Joseph shook his head. "Ten to one, Uncle Jacob and Aunt Linda were getting playful in the park last night and were spotted." He chuckled. "They have been known to get a bit frisky late at night in the park on occasion."
Paulette reached up and touched Joseph's cheek. "Do you think we will be that frisky when we're their age?"
"I'm counting on it, Lover." He leered back at her.
Paulette giggled in response to his look. Joseph smiled; it was good to see her eyes sparkle again. A short respite was just what they needed after the news they had received yesterday and the seriousness of today's discussions.
"It would probably be a good idea to head below and find out what's happening." Joseph suggested. "This could cause a few problems if those college students make too much noise or someone takes them seriously."
He turned off the video, stood up and helped Paulette to her feet. "You want to take anything below with you?"
Paulette looked around and snatched up the manuscript she had been working on yesterday before she had miscarried. God was it only yesterday that her world had been turned upside down by Robin's devastating news? "This is all I need to take with me." She waved the manuscript at him.
Joseph glanced out the French doors then looked at the clock on the knick-knack shelf. "We still have a couple of hours 'til dark." Again there was that leering glint in his eyes. "Just because you may not be able to get pregnant doesn't mean we can't keep trying." His unique eyebrows jogged up and down. "Maybe we just need to try more often."
His remarks were rewarded with a blush and a giggle. "Why Mr. Chandler-Wells, you beast you."
They were soon occupied in much happier pursuits.
~ o ~
By the time Paulette and Joseph arrived below the entire community was abuzz with talk about the fallout from Jacob and Linda's little escapade in the park last night. But getting just as much discussion was the tiny newborn infant that William had rescued from a burning building last night just seconds before it collapsed. According to William, the baby's mother had died in childbirth just minutes before he had reached them.
Paulette gazed at the infant in William's arms with yearning and a hint of envy in her heart. She turned away when William glanced up at her apparently sensing her emotions. She tried to suppress her feelings. She didn't want to burden him with her problems. Then she felt Joseph wrap his arms around her and her love for him rose up to overwhelm the other emotions. These people didn't yet know about the doom that had been pronounced on Joseph and herself. She felt they all had enough to deal with, between the sighting in the park and William's new charge, to be saddled with her minor little setback.
~ x x x x x ~
A few days later Joseph encountered William in the tunnel just outside their old chamber. William was so engrossed in the infant he was carrying that he almost collided with Joseph. They stopped to talk as Joseph admired the tiny baby his brother was carrying. After a couple of minutes William noticed a stream of worry running through his brother's emotions. "What is it that's worrying you Little Brother?"
"Hu, what?" Joseph asked, surprised by the sudden change of subject.
"I can feel it in you. Something has got you worried and a little upset. So what is it?" William restated.
After a moment's hesitation Joseph responded. "It's Paulette. You know about her inability to get pregnant." William nodded. He really felt for both of them. "You know how Paulette is; she's been brooding a lot about it over the last two days. She thinks with her heart and she has a tendency to just forge ahead based on these feelings." Again William nodded, now a bit worried where this might be going. "If she gets it into her head that I would be better off if she left me so that I could find someone that could give me children, she will vanish and I may never be able to get her back." The worry that was running through his heart was now clearly showing on Joseph's face.
William knew Paulette well enough to know that his brother was right about her and now he was also beginning to worry about the possibility. "Do you have any reason to think that she might be contemplating this?"
"I'm afraid so." Joseph shook his head. "Something she said to Cherry yesterday makes me think that the idea has already entered her head and I'm scared to death that if we can't come up with an acceptable alternative for having children, the idea might take hold and I'll loose her."
William nodded understanding. "Where is she right now?" He asked.
Joseph bobbed his head in the direction he had been coming from originally. "She's in the library with Peter. They're going over his latest manuscript." He smiled momentarily. "I read a few pages of it. It's very good."
William nodded. "Good, good. That should keep her busy for a while." He gazed down at the infant in his arms while he thought about the problem. He looked back up at Joseph. "What you need to do is convince her that you would find loosing her far more devastating than the lack of children. That having children would be meaningless without her."
"That's all obvious." Joseph shrugged. "You know that's exactly how I feel."
"I know that." William placed his free hand on Joseph's shoulder. "What you have to do is convince her of it. She has to really believe, down to her toes, that nothing else matters if you don't have her." He glanced down at the child cradled in his arm. "A child can fill many holes in our lives and in our soul." He looked back up at Joseph. "But nothing can ever take the place of a true soul mate." He gave Joseph's shoulder a squeeze and let go. "You have to tell her that. Make her understand and believe." William now cradled the infant in both arms. "Besides you're both young, especially you Little Brother, you have plenty of time to start a family. Lay the idea of children aside for a while and just concentrate on enjoying each other. You can always pick up the family planning later on."
Joseph smiled at his brother feeling much lighter and happier. "Thanks Big Brother. You've given me a lot of important things that I can talk to her about. I really appreciate it."
"That's what big brother's are for." He replied and turned to enter his chamber.
Joseph headed on to the chamber he and Paulette shared Below. He had a lot to think about and plan before he talked to Paulette this evening.
~ x x x x x ~
Paulette sat in her boss's office smiling as he gushed. "I don't know how you did it Paulette. Peter is one of our most difficult authors. Even the smallest corrections seem to turn into battle royals with him and it usually takes at least a dozen or more rewrites before he is satisfied." He shook his head. "You come back with a manuscript that is bleeding red and he accepts all of the changes without any fuss, telling us to go with it. Your changes and comments were just so perfect; it was like you read the author's mind."
"Thank you, Zack. I do my best." She replied.
"How did you do it? What's your secret?" He asked. "And can you bottle it for the rest of my editors?"
Paulette merely smiled. She wasn't going to tell him that she had sat down face to face with Peter and they had gone through the manuscript, cover to cover together. They had discussed each change thoroughly before marking the manuscript. Half of the marks had been made by Peter himself while they were going through it.
Paulette wondered what Zack would say if she told him that one of their top selling, and most elusive, writers was her brother-in-law and had once been referred to as the Creature of Central Park. Then again Joseph, her own husband and Peter's brother, also fit that description. Thinking of Zack's possible reaction to these revelations caused her to smother a giggle.
"You seem to be in a better mood today." Zack commented.
"Just had a very amusing and instructive couple of days is all." She replied, thinking about the long talk she had had with Joseph last night. It had been very interesting and had done a lot to raise her spirits.
Zack interrupted her reverie. "Well anyway just wanted to tell you what a good job you're doing." He smiled. "Now get that silly grin out of here and get you're butt back to work. We have books to put out."
Continued in Part 2
'Beauty and the Beast' and its characters are owned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. No infringement on copyrights is intended. This story is presented merely for the enjoyment of fans. Original concepts and story elements may be used by other authors as long as appropriate credit is given.