PART ONE: Shane and Shannon
Shane and Shannon had been together for almost a year. It had been a mutual decision to keep the relationship secret. Well, secret from the press. Nicky, Mark, Kian and Bryan knew about it, of course. Those five were like brothers Ė it was very hard to keep anything from them. Even Louis knew. Hell, he was happy for them! That quickly dispelled Shannonís fears about that fictitious relationship clause in the bandís contract.
No, it was simply so that they could live their lives out of the public eye. But they were sick and tired of sneaking around, and Shannon was sick and tired of hearing Shane say that he was single and Shane was sick and tired of lying to everyone.
So it didnít really come as a surprise to Shannon when one evening, as they were eating dinner in their house in Sligo, Shane brought the subject up.
"Shannon?" he looked across the table at her. She looked up from her bowlful of spaghetti. Somehow, she knew what he was going to say. "I think we should go public with this," he paused, "our relationship."
He looked worried, without reason, of course. They had toyed with this idea for months, and it had been him that wanted to keep it under wraps. In fact, he got the impression that she hadnít liked the idea from the start.
Shannon put down her fork. Thank God he finally agreed! She didn't know how much longer she could go on like this...
"Well," she chose her words carefully, "you know where I stand on this one. Itís up to you hun."
Shane grinned, "okay then, from tomorrow onwards we donít hide anything." He took her hand underneath the table, ďI love you and I want everyone to know."
A couple of weeks passed without much hassle. The fans werenít the problem Ė they had guessed long ago that Shane and Shannon were dating. It had been very hard to hide their relationship sometimes, and Shane had made the occasional noticeable slip-up during press conferences. The press had a field day, but it only lasted a week or so, and then they grew tired of it. Shannon soon got used to cameras following her around. Luckily she knew how to deal with them, having worked as a reporter for a couple of years after she had finished university.
No, it was Louis who gave them the most trouble. Shane and Shannon had chosen not to tell him that they were going public, and simply turned up at a charity event hand-in-hand. He was furious! It seemed that however much he had said he approved of the relationship, he still wanted "available" plastered all over Shane. Shane once again had to reassure Shannon that the "Anti-Relationship" clause in the contract did not exist.
"Itís going to be alright, babe," he wrapped his arms around her as she sobbed.
"But Shane, what are we going to do? I mean, what if Louis kicks you out of the band? I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I ended up ruining your career!" "Look," he stroked her hair. "Letís just worry about that when... if... it happens. Youíre too important to me. I'm not giving you up for anybody Ė not even Louis and the band."
Shannon didn't quite know what to say. What he was saying was huge to her Ė that he would put her before the band.
"I love you Shane," she whispered softly into his ear.
Shannon was surprised to wake up after Shane the next morning. She was an early riser, and he was not. She walked into the kitchen and found him making a cup of coffee. She put her arms around his waist and kissed him on the neck, "why are you up so early?"
Shane turned around. "My cellphone rang at 6:00. Louis wants to see me in his office at 7:30," he looked at his watch, "which means I have exactly 25 minutes to get there. Damn!" He put down the cup of coffee. "I have to run, sweetie." He kissed her gently on the lips, "I'll try not to be too long."
Shannon didnít waste a moment. As soon as Shane's BMW had driven off down the road, she got dressed and climbed into her own car. To say she was worried about this all was to say the least and she drove fast. She parked the car on the street, raced up the stairs and knocked on the door. She heard groggy noises coming from inside, then someone stumbling towards the door. Nicky opened it and stood there rubbing his eyes, "Shannon! Itís 7 in the morning!"
She shook her head, "can I come in?"
He stepped aside and she walked in.
Nicky cleared his throat, "so, is this a social call? 'Cause I kind of need to be... somewhere soon."
Shannon was annoyed. "No," she paused, and sat down on the couch. "Look, Nicky, Shaneís gone to see Louis. About me."
Nicky looked at her carefully, "are you sure?"
Shannon nodded, "you saw what Louis was like after that charity dinner, he's treating Shane like dirt and he wont even look at me."
Nicky opened his mouth, as if to say something but then didnít. Shannon continued, "Nicky, I need to know if there was a clause in your contract about relationships. Please, Shaneís talking as though he would leave the group for me, and I canít let him do that!"
Nicky didnít seem surprised. He sat down. "Shannon, I'll level with you," he hesitated, "yes, there was a clause in the contract forbidding us to marry or have children."
Shannon was confused, "but that shouldn't be a problem?! We're not doing either!"
"Well..." Nicky stopped.
"I promised I wouldn't say anything, but..." he looked away.
"Shane said something to me a little while ago, the night before the charity dinner actually, and I think Louis may have overheard..."
"Come on! Spit it out Ė what did he say?"
Nicky looked Shannon in the eye, "he said he was going to ask you to marry him."
Shannon's hand went to her mouth, "oh my God!"
Shane strode into Louisí office. "You wanted to see me?"
Louis turned in his chair, "yes. Sit down Shane."
Shane sat. When he didnít say anything, Louis cleared his throat, "I want to talk to you about your contract."
Shane sighed and leaned back in his chair. Louis went on, "I think you know what Iím talking about Shane."
Shane tried to calm himself down, "look, Louis, we arenít violating the contract. Do you see a wedding ring on my finger? Do you see Shannon holding a baby?" he waited for a reaction, and when he didn't get one he stood up. "No, I didn't think so. I'm leaving." He started walking out the door.
"Not so fast, Shane" Louis sounded extremely angry. "That isn't the end of the story and you know it. I overheard you talking to Nicky the other day. About marriage."
Shane couldn't control his rage, "that was a private conversation Louis! It had nothing to do with you at all!"
"That's where you're wrong Shane. It has everything to do with me. If you marry that girl, you're violating your contract! As far as being single is concerned, you lot are dropping like flies! Itís not good for the bandís image." He looked Shane in the eye, "I want you to call the relationship off."
With that Shane simply exploded. "Call it off?! You want me to give up the one thing I love the most for you? I'm sorry Louis, but thatís simply not going to happen. I love Shannon more than anything, and I want to marry her. If thatís not good for the band's image, then maybe I donít want to be in the band anymore!" He walked out and slammed the door.
Shannon didn't know what to do, so she went for a walk. They'd never really spoken about marriage, but at the same time, Shannon knew that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Shane. She'd always thought that with the band and all, he would want to wait a while. Of course, there was the obvious problem with the contract Ė she couldn't stand the thought of standing in the way of his career. But still, there was no doubt in her mind what her answer would be if he asked the question. She decided it was time to go see Sandi.
Shannon rang the doorbell. She heard footsteps running towards the door, and it was quickly swung open. Sandi's face lit up, "hey babe!"
"Hey," Shannon couldn't help but sound gloomy.
Sandi gestured for her to come in, "why the long face?"
Shannon quickly explained what had happened. Somehow, she always knew Sandi would know what to say when it came to issues with Shane. In any case, she told Shannon what she wanted to hear, and made it that much easier to do what her heart told her to.
"If your heart wants to do it, then you should do it Saz. Now go find that gorgeous man and tell him what you feel!"
Shannon smiled, "well, I know what my heart wants. I want to marry Shane more than anything in the world, but I donít want to stand in his way..."
"Well from what I've heard, I don't think Shane would see it as you standing in his way."
Shannon felt a great weight lift off her shoulders, "you have no idea how glad I am to hear you say that! Thank you."
"Yes, well," Sandi laughed, "I will be expecting to be your maid-of-honour! Now shoo! You have more important things to do!"
Shannon left, still chuckling. As the door closed, Nicky appeared at the top of the stairs. "Sandi?" he called out, "is she gone?"
Sandi bounded up the stairs and into his arms. "Mmm-hmm," she kissed him softly.
Nicky grinned, "now where were we?"
Three hours later, the five lads were sitting around Kian's kitchen table. Bryan was the first to speak. "So Shane, what's this all about? You sounded pretty weird on the phone."
"And Louis rang me before," interrupted Mark, "he wants us all in his office at 5:00."
"Well," Shane looked at the floor, "we sort of had words this morning..." He started pacing, "he's pretty mad."
The other four just looked at him.
"Okay," Shane turned to face them, "you guys are my best mates, and this has got everything to do with you, so here's how it is... "Louis overheard a conversation I had with Nicky the night before the charity dinner. Basically, I said that I was going to ask Shannon to marry me."
Bryan, Mark and Kian looked at him in shock.
"And I have every intention of doing so," Shane continued, "so I told Louis to go take a running jump."
Mark stood up, "you did WHAT?!"
"Hey man, leave him alone," Nicky jumped to Shane's defence. "We'll work this out."
"No, Nicky!" Mark was furious, "this could be the end of our careers, all because of that tart of a girlfriend of his!"
That was enough for Shane. He lunged at Mark, "donít EVER talk about her in that way!"
"Whoa, back off Shane," Kian grabbed his shoulders and hauled him away, "it's not worth it!"
Bryan finally spoke. "I agree. I think we all need to cool off. We'll discuss this in Louis' office this afternoon." He turned to Shane, "right now, I think there's someone you need to talk to..."
Shane was waiting in the kitchen when Shannon walked in the door. She could tell from the look on his face that something was amiss. She opened her mouth to speak, but he put his finger over her lips and took her hand. He led her out onto the balcony. They stood there for a minute or so, just staring out at the sea. Shane's hands were shaking as he said, "Shannon, there's something I need to ask you..."
She looked deep into his hazel eyes, begging him to do it, and begging him not to.
Shane took a deep breath and bent down on one knee, pulling a ring box out of his pocket. It's now or never, Filan. He steadied himself.
Shannon gasped. She couldnít believe this was happening!
Trembling, Shane looked up at her, and said, "Shannon, will you marry me?"
Tears streaming down her face, Shannon bent down and kissed Shane passionately. "Yes!" she whispered, "yes, of course I'll marry you!"
He slipped the diamond ring onto her finger. "Youíve just made me the happiest man alive."
At a quarter to five, Shane arrived at Louis' office. The rest were already there. Mark did not look happy. Shane closed the door and sat on one of the couches, next to Bryan. Louis didnít waste any time, "right. Now that you're all here, I think we should get down to business." He looked at Shane, "I suppose youíve already filled them in on our little conversation this morning..."
"Little conversation my arse!" Mark broke in.
"Mark..." Kian cautioned,
"Look guys," Shane sounded wrecked, "save your breath. I already asked her, and she said yes... we're getting married, end of story." He waited for them to digest the news. "And Louis, if you and your ridiculous contract can't deal with that, well then Iím sorry, but this isn't going to work." He got up, "now if you'll excuse me, I'm going home to the one person who really understands me."
For the next two days, the phones in the house remained off the hook, and Shane's cellphone switched off. "I just want this time for us, honey," he stroked Shannonís hair.
They were sitting on the couch discussing dates for the wedding.
"How long do you want to wait, Shane?"
He took her hand, "I don't want to wait. I want us to get married as soon as possible."
This came as a shock to her. "But... but Shane! What about the band?"
He sighed, "well, we may have a problem there anyway..."
Shannon looked crushed, "Shane, I canít let you do..." She was cut off by a knock on the door. Shane got up to answer it, and looking through the peephole, saw Nicky standing on the doorstep. He opened the door. Nicky was grinning from ear to ear. "Shane, Iíve got some good news for you mate!"
Shannon was now standing beside Shane. She looked at Nicky inquisitively.
"After you left the office, Kian and Bryan and I had it out with Louis. Even Mark's seen your point now! Anyway, long story short Ė he's amended our contracts!"
Shane's jaw dropped, "are you saying what I think youíre saying?"
Nicky nodded excitedly, "yep! You two can get married, and Westlife stays together!"
Shane was overwhelmed. He put his arms around Shannon's neck and kissed her hard. Then he grabbed Nicky and hugged him, "you donít know how much this means to me!"
Nicky broke away, "not so fast, you've still got bridges to mend with Mark... and for God's sake get your arse down to Louis' office and sign the darned contract! Youíre the only one who hasnít!"
Two months later...
"You ready to go girl?" Sandi enquired. They were in the limo outside the church, ready to go inside.
Shannon nodded. She was too excited to speak.
"Righto! Go get 'em!" and with that, Sandi helped her out of the car and into the church.
Shane caught his breath as he watched Shannon float down the aisle. She was perfect. He knew he could never love anyone more than he loved her. This was the most amazing day of his life.
Tears were rolling down Shannon's cheeks as she reached the altar. There were 200 people in the church, but she could see only one. She looked deep into Shane's eyes and saw everything she loved in him.
From behind Shannon, Sandi and Nicky locked eyes. How long before their secret was out?
To be continued...
by Shannon McMillan (kiwi_starlet)