Breaking Free

Ever felt smothered by everyone else's idea of what your life should be like? Have you ever just wanted to say "Stop! It's my life!" to those closest to you? We all have, haven't we? I bet you were too afraid to do it though. So you kept your mouth shut, and did exactly what you always told yourself you would never do: you followed the rules set by people who don't really know you, and let THEM control your life. But what could happen if you finally just said no? If you decided to follow your own dream? Would something amazing happen? Would you fall in love? Would you find what you've been looking for your whole life? What could happen if you just...broke free?

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40. "Come Home"

"Miss Costa? Miss Costa did you hear me?"

Belle snapped her head up to look at the company lawyer, who was staring at her ludicrously, as was her mother and her family attorney.

"Sorry what?" She asked, not very lady like. Her mother sighed and rubbed her temples.

It had been two days since Belle's father had died, and Belle had been in meetings since. Meetings about what had been left to her and her mother, how to handle the company, what to do with his worldwide property, etc. At some point in this particular meeting though, Belle had completely zoned out.

The company attorney smiled sympathetically. "I was saying that about five years ago, your father gave me a piece of paper, and made me vow to never open it until the day he passed. He also made me vow to open it in your presence."

Belle cocked her head to the side. "Me? Really?"

"Yes Miss Costa, you." 

Belle was confused. Five years ago, she was just fourteen or fifteen. Why had her father decided then that this 'extra will' or whatever it was had to be opened in her presence?

"Are you prepared for me to open it Miss?" The attorney asked, waking Belle from her thoughts once again.

"Uh, yeah. Yes sir of course. Please continue." Belle spat out, leaning forward on the conference room table.

"Very well then." The lawyer pulled a manilla envelope out from his briefcase, carefully opening it. The simple task seemed to take forever and Belle started tapping her fingers nervously, earning herself a glare from her mother.

"Ah, here we are." The man finally said, putting his glasses on the tip of his nose and holding the paper out so he could read clearly. "Well that's surprising..." He mused to himself.

"What is it?" Belle asked, highly intrigued.

The man looked at her and smiled lightly. "It's a letter, with just one sentence." He paused for a moment. "And it's addressed to you." 

With that being said, the man placed the paper face down on top of the envelope and slid it across the table to Belle. She caught it easily and simply stared at the down turned paper for a moment.

"Read it sweetie, for heavens sake." Trudy said irritably.

Belle took in a deep breath before turning the paper over slowly and reading her father's familiar print.

Dear Anabelle,

Costa Enterprises is all yours.

Sincerely, Damian.

Belle scoffed. Naturally, he would call her Anabelle instead of Belle. And 'Sincerely, Damian'? Would it have killed him to say 'Love, Dad'?

Even in the afterlife her father's detached parenting was pissing her off.

Belle shoved the letter back in the manilla envelope and stood up abruptly, tossing it back on the table towards the lawyer. 

"I don't want it." She said bluntly.

"Excuse me?" The attorney said in awe.

"You don't want what? What did he leave you?" Trudy asked hysterically, grabbing the envelope and tearing out the paper. She read the short note in a matter of seconds."Oh Anabelle darling this is wonderful!"

"Wonderful?" Belle asked incredulously. "How the hell is that letter wonderful?"

"Language!" 

"He couldn't say an 'I love you' or a 'Good luck kid'? He didn't even sign it 'Dad' Mom, he signed it 'Damian'!" Belle laughed bitterly. "He just wrote that to make sure his damn company would keep its name."

"Miss Costa," the company attorney spoke, "your father left you his entire company, which you've been running for the past month. It's only fitting that you take over, he obviously knew you were incredibly capable."

"No, he obviously knew that he could play me like a little puppet." Belle said rudely. "But he isn't here now, so I don't have to do a damn thing he says."

"Anabelle sit down and stop being irrational." Trudy said firmly. "Your father is dead, the least you could do is honor his final wishes."

"I gave up my whole life for his wishes!" Belle screamed, making everyone in the room jump. "I gave up everything because he scared me, he terrified me! I gave up love for him! But he's not here anymore, and I'm glad I'm out from under his oppressive thumb."

Trudy's jaw dropped and after a silent moment she stood up from her chair slowly, smoothing out her dress in the process. "Darling, you...you sound as if you're happy about your father's passing, what do you--"

"It's because I am!" Belle interrupted, throwing her hands up in the air. Her mother's eyes widened and she clenched her jaw tight. Belle was feeling bold at this point though, having finally admitting aloud that she was happy about her dad being dead. She stepped right up to her mother, inches away from her face. "I'm happy he's dead. Now maybe he won't keep hurting everyone around him just so he can make another buck."

Trudy's hand came up so fast Belle couldn't stop it. The slap made a loud 'pop' against Belle's cheek, and her face turned from the force. The tension in the room became thick and Belle froze for a moment before lifting her head up to face Trudy once again. There was already a red mark on her cheek and it stung. She didn't care though.

Belle smirked at her mother and chuckled bitterly.

"Damn, Mom. You and Dad really were perfect for each other." 

Trudy paled and stepped back away from Belle, turning her back and covering her mouth with her hand. The two lawyers just looked on in astonishment.

Belle bit down hard on her lip as her cheek started to get hot where she had just been struck. She turned towards the company lawyer once again. 

"Am I still acting CEO of Costa Enterprises?" The man just looked at her. "Well? Am I?" She asked, much more rudely.

"Y-Yes, you are." He finally spat out.

"Let me see my standing contract." Belle demanded. He immediately complied, scrambling in his briefcase for the papers.

Once her contract had been produced, Belle grabbed the papers and turned to the right page, snatching a pen from the family attorney's hand and scribbling at the bottom of the page.

"I am signing over the entirety of Costa Enterprises to Brian Fuller--"

"Anabelle!" Trudy screeched, finally turning back around to face her daughter.

"...and all of Fuller Chemicals." Belle continued. She quickly scratched out her signature and stood back up to her full height, looking at the dumbstruck company lawyer with confidence. "There's no more Costa Enterprises. The Fullers get everything."

"Why are you doing this?!" Trudy shouted, and Belle turned to look at her with disinterest. "Do you really hate your own family so much that you would give them all that we've worked for, all we've dreamed for?!"

Belle froze for a split second before she started to chuckle and shake her head.

"No Mom. I'm giving the Fullers everything because...because Alan gave me everything I ever dreamed of. And he ended up giving his own life to do it. I can live with dishonoring Dad's wishes, but I'll never stand by and let Alan's life mean nothing in the grand scheme of things."

Belle's last declaration rang with finality, and stormed out of the conference room without another glance at her mother.

Without wasting any time, Belle pulled out her phone and began to make a call as soon as she was out of that room.

Ring ring.

"This is Fuller speaking, how can--"

"It's yours." Belle blurted out.

"Excuse me? Belle is that you?"

"Costa Enterprises. It's all yours. You get it all Mr. Fuller, I don't want it. I signed it over to you, my lawyer should be contacting yours soon and you can have all our workers and our inventory and--"

"Belle what are you talking about? You can't actually be saying that--"

"But I am saying it Mr. Fuller!" Belle shouted with a smile on her face. "My dad is gone, I can do what I want with that godforsaken company, and I want it to be yours!"

It was silent on the other end for a moment. "Why are you doing this Belle?" Alan's father finally asked.

Belle smiled to herself before laughing lightly. "Because, Mr. Fuller. I made a promise to your son a long, long time ago. And I'm going to keep that promise."

Mr. Fuller sniffled lightly on the other end and Belle felt tears threatening to escape her brown eyes. "You know he truly cared about you more than anyone else in the world, don't you?"

Belle smiled and let the tears fall down. "That means the world to me Mr. Fuller. It truly does."

"Thank you for everything you've done Belle."

"No sir...thank you."

Belle hung up the phone and took a deep breath, wiping her eyes. When she pulled her hand away from her face, she saw that it was covered in dark makeup.

Belle cringed. What had she become in the past eight months? Some uptight CEO, wearing blazers and heavy makeup? Wearing a perfectly styled bun on top of her head every day? Not going anywhere without high heels on?

Belle looked down at herself disgustedly. Without a second thought, she literally ran to her father's old office, tearing her heels off of her aching feet in the process. Several office workers looked at her questioningly, but she didn't care. 

"Miss Costa are you alright? Miss Costa do you--"

Belle cut off Marietta's voice of concern by slamming the door in her face. She glanced about the room and cringed once again. It was so...business-y. How had she been surviving here for so long?

Belle shook her head and went to the office's private bathroom, grabbing a wet cloth and scrubbing all the makeup off of her face, and splashing cold water on her hot face. She looked in the mirror and smiled. Much better.

But she still didn't look quite herself...

Belle reached up then and tore her hair tie out of her bun, letting her hair come tumbling down. It was so much longer now, and much darker, but her signature waves were still there. She tousled it with her fingers and glanced at her reflection once again.

There she was. Belle Costa. Not Anabelle.

She grinned for just a second before pulling her phone out once again. There was one more call she had to make...

Ring ring.

"Hullo?" A familiar tired voice asked. Belle hadn't even considered that he would be sleeping, given the time difference between California and London. She smiled though, a warm feeling spreading through her stomach when she heard him speak for the first time in months, apart  from the radio.

"Hello? If this is a prank call, it's not a good one." He said. Belle started, realizing she hadn't been saying anything while she was immersed in her own thoughts. "Look if you're going to wake me up in the middle of the night and not even--"

"It's me." Belle blurted out, not knowing what else to say.

The line went silent. Then she heard some rustling around on the other end. She could imagine him sitting up in his bed, eyes wide in surprise. She hadn't made any move to contact any of them for so long...

"Say something again."

Belle smiled to herself. He couldn't believe it was her. "It's really me, I promise." She said quietly.

Belle heard him let out a deep breath. "Holy fuck, it really is you." He stated incredulously.

She just laughed, happy tears pricking at her eyes for the first time in a long time. "Yeah, it's me."

"Dammit Belle, we've missed you so much. We all tried to contact you, but that company or whatever kept saying your number had changed and we thought you didn't want to speak to any of us and then--"

"I want to come home." Belle interrupted his rambling.

Another silence ensued. "What?"

"I want to come back home. Back to you guys, back to my real home. My dad died and--"

"Oh Belle I'm so sorry."

"Don't be sorry, I'm not." Belle stated bluntly. "He's dead, and I signed his company over to Alan's family. Please, I want to come home. Tell me I can come back, tell me your promise still stands, tell me that I still have a place with you guys, because right now...right now I have nobody else."

The only sound was of his breathing.

"Please..." Belle begged. "Niall, please?"

Niall took in a deep breath and she could imagine him grinning crookedly and rubbing his tired eyes.

"Come home Belle."

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