Chapter One Hundred and Thirty One: Sick of this yet?

“And THAT will stop businesses from
being able to bully people into taking down bad reviews or
complaints.” Charlie grinned as he signed off on another policy. It
was a few weeks after Judith and Marcus had returned safely home from
hospital, and Charlie was well into making sure the Chamber of
Commerce did what it needed to do.

“Only if Arnold agrees to it.”
Eugenia Wallow pointed out drily. “This particular policy dips over
into Pleasantville law, and you KNOW he's got the Haunted Maze Troupe
in his pocket.”

“For now.” Charlie replied. “I'm
pretty sure we'll get this one through though.”

“I hope you're right.” Eugenia
sighed. “Certain businesses have been using connections with the
criminal underworld to threaten and extort customers long enough.”

“Anyway, I need to go to City Hall
anyway to pick up Belle, I'll take the paperwork with me and drop if
off. Anything else we need to take?” Charlie asked, putting all
their hard work into an envelope and sealing it tightly.

“That should be all for today.
Nothing that can't wait until next week.” Eugenia yawned.

“You sound ready for bed.” Charlie

“I wish, but alas my oldest needs to
be picked up from Ozzie Rules training, the youngest needs picking up
from dance class, and the middle child is probably fighting with his
father as we speak. Then there's dinner with the
in-laws…bllaaaahhhh!” Eugenia groaned.

“Middle child and husband still not
getting along huh?” Charlie asked sympathetically.

“It's a tweenage rebellion type
thing.” Eugenia shrugged. “What's going on with you and Masters

“We've been best friends since we
were kids.” Charlie shrugged.

Eugenia raised an eyebrow.

“Seriously Belle, I can't thank you
enough for all your hard…that should have gone in THAT pile…I
can't thank you enough for all your hard work while I was…that
should have been done by now…while I was pregnant.” Judith
couldn't help inserting some criticism into her thanks to Belle as
she looked around her office on her first day back to work. “You
really should have dusted the windowsill, and did you remember to
water the plants?”

“Yes, I did.” Belle gritted her

“Yes, well, it WAS a relief to know
my work was taken care of, although you probably should have used
blue ink on this letter…it made coming back to work SO much
easier…these should have been in plastic folders, it would have
protected them better…”

“I did my best.” Belle replied,
with a slight edge to her voice. Judith might be the mother of
Daniels child, but she was still the worst boss ever!

“Yes, I'm sure you did. Anyway, you
can go now. Thank you again!” Judith shoved Belle out of the
office, making the young Masters feel very much annoyed. How rude!

Just then, the beloved Mayor of
Pleasantville walked past. Belle sneered at the door before she
walked back to her desk, brushing past Demon.

“You look a little harassed today
Miss Masters.” Demon said smoothly.

“Nunya.” Belle snapped back.

“Now now Miss Masters, that's no way
to speak to your boss.” Demon smiled at her.

“Technically Judith is my boss,
you're her boss.” Belle muttered under her breath, sitting down in
front of her computer.

“You need to relax more. Tell you
what, how about we do lunch tomorrow?” Demon leaned over Belles
desk, making her feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable.

“Charlie is picking me up, I need to
go.” Belle quickly packed her things into her bag and rushed to
meet Charlie, who had thankfully just walked in.

“Give me a second Belle, I gotta give
this to Mr. Jones.” Charlie told her. Belle groaned.

It took Charlie fifteen minutes to talk
Mr. Jones around to at least considering the proposal, but eventually
he came out. “Fingers crossed he actually signs it.”

“I hope he does.” Belle said as the
pair walked out to Charlies ute.

“You right mate?” Charlie asked as
they approached the ute.

“No. Demon keeps hitting on me.”
Belle shivered as Charlie unlocked the ute and they got in.

“Ewwwww!” Was Charlies reply. “That
is SO icky!”

“I KNOW!” Belle replied.

They spent the rest of the trip back
home complaining about how disgusting Demon Jones is.

“Yeah, Mum and Dad are having extreme
marriage issues. Mum's been sleeping with everything she can pay to
get into bed with her, and Dad is furious.” Sunny told them that
night as they ate dinner together around the Begly table. “Of
course, Dad can't talk, he's been sleeping around since before I was

“Might be a way to get in and make
some changes.” Judith pointed out.

Nearly half the table spat out their

“You want Belle to stoop to seducing
Demon for power?!” Lara cried.

“Why not? I did.” Judith took
another spoonful of beans. “Slept with Jones to get ahead on a few
business deals.”

Daniel looked at her, horrified.

“Dad's idea. It was just after he
murdered Uncle Hector, so before I inherited the businesses, I got in
with Jones to make sure he didn't come after them.” Judith

“The same father we named our son
after?!” Daniel squeaked, hugging Marcus a little closer.

“I dunno, I think if you could get in
with my Dad and then dump him, that would mess him up.” Sunny said
with an evil gleam in her eye.

“You definitely got your fathers
genetic material.” Belle said drily, earning a dirty look from

“We've all had to make sacrifices and
do things that go against our beliefs for the greater good.” TJ
pointed out. Charlie couldn't help but notice Daniel flinch slightly.

“Good point.” Peter sipped his

“PETER!” Lara looked at her husband
in horror.

“I can't believe we're talking about
this at the dinnertable!” Betty groaned.

“We could be talking about the
cricket.” Thomas pointed out.

Suddenly every Knight at the table shot
each other a filthy look.

“Back to Belle seducing Demon.”
Betty quickly changed her mind!

The next day, Belle spent the whole day
feeling extremely ill. Especially when she overheard Demon scoffing
at Charlies proposal for more consumer protection from being

“Why would I sign this? How does that
idiot think I've stayed in business for so long?” Demon laughed
with a few of his lackeys at the water cooler.

She didn't want to. The thought of
Demon Jones made her skin crawl and her stomach turn. She wouldn't,
she couldn't, she…

She had to. Not just for Charlie, but
for every person in Pleasantville who had been bullied into silence
by the Death Valley Gang, the Mob and the Haunted Maze Troupe. She
had to stop businesses from threatening people who just wanted to go
home without being ripped off. She could stop people losing money and
sleep. All she had to do…

So when Demon invited her into his
office, she took in a deep breath and accepted. She felt like she was
walking to her own execution.

Charlie had been having a good day that
day. At work, he and his team had managed to have a huge breakthrough
with one of their new designs for streamlining metal parts
construction, and now it was a matter of getting things built in
order to maximise production. It meant that repairs to farm machinery
could be expedited, meaning damaged machinery wouldn't impact
harvests nearly as much. Everyone was going to win out of this!

He decided to walk home that afternoon,
taking in the sights and sounds of the city that was now much safer
than it had ever been when Charlie was a child. Maybe soon he'd be
able to retire Chuckles, putting his swords away and never having to
worry about protecting the city again.

He continued along the street towards
home, the air getting chilly as winter started to settle in.

“Hey Belle…Belle, are you okay?”
Charlie asked as he walked past Belle sitting under the old tree.
“You look like you're ready to spew.”

“I got your proposal through.”
Belle told him, looking pale. “And now I want to throw up.”

Charlie looked horrified. “You

“No, I didn't.” Belle looked
equally horrified. “I threatened him with a sexual harassment

“Ohhhhh…that's cool.” Charlie
breathed a sigh of relief.

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