“You’d think since I’ve already done this once, I could do it again,” Rachel lamented to her best friend and niece.
Only an hour left. Rachel’s stomach flip-flopped and she felt the life inside her kick as if trying out for the football team. Wincing, she paused in her application of mascara. The vow renewal ceremony had been the suggestion of their marriage counselor. Rachel had agreed to go through with it as Bill insisted they do a “proper” wedding this time. He had been incredibly sweet recently, almost a completely new Bill. He gave her back rubs and foot rubs nearly every day, made her breakfasts in bed, and brought her flowers for no reason. He went on the patch, quitting cigarettes altogether, and spent as much time with his daughter as possible. He even started going to mass. He seemed like a truly repentant man, and when he kissed Rachel good night before bed, she knew he really loved her… which only made her feel more guilty.
The recent tensions in Twinbrook between rival factions of the Racket crime organization only proved the brevity of life. Rachel worked with the city police to try and make the city safer while Dennis continued to mount evidence against his cousin from the inside as best as he could, even more motivated since his son nearly was blown to pieces. That and Shark’s attempted suicide. Dennis had accompanied Shark to rehab in Appaloosa Plains, and returned even more distant, and she figured it was because he had much on his mind.
Rachel had gone to see him in Appaloosa Plains in early January. She told Bill she was visiting her mother to tell her the news about the baby. She told herself she wanted to make sure Shark was okay, but really she had an ulterior motive. She needed to know.
Dennis had been surprised to see her, but graciously accepted her arrival. They had talked for hours, or what felt like days, about anything and everything under the sun. Rachel asked him about how he felt about Silver’s death, and he had admitted what she had already known – he was relieved. The woman had held a dark secret over him all these years, one which he finally shared with Rachel.
When Dennis and Silver were in college, she was dating another young man, one from a rival crime family in the state of Louisimana. His name was Timmy DeBleu, Dennis told Rachel. And he was a bastard. A real abusive son-of-a-bitch. He beat Silver regularly. Dennis was tending bar during this time and she would come in and cry at the counter over peanuts because she told him she couldn’t afford a meal. He would buy her a sandwich or a hamburger and let her pour out her sorrows. Sometimes he’d let her come home with him and sleep on his apartment couch. One night, she convinced him to be with her because she wanted to know what real lovemaking felt like. Dennis said he had a soft spot for broken birds, and he should’ve seen through Silver’s elaborate sob fests.
When Silver came into the bar with broken ribs and a broken nose, Dennis had enough. The next day he drove to Timmy’s residence and broke into the man’s home. He found the guy on top of Silver in the bed, choking her. Dennis threw the man off the poor woman and gave him a taste of his own medicine. Only he went too far. Timmy was dead, and Silver cried in relief and said she wouldn’t ever tell a soul, and she thanked him for rescuing her. They dumped the man’s body in the bayou and they drove back to Twinbrook. Silver moved in with him that day and within a few months, they were married.
Then on his wedding night, he learned who Silver really was. A manipulative, conniving bitch. She and Timmy contrived a plan to kidnap a Racket for ransom by having Silver pretend to be a victim. Silver realized it was a stupid idea and decided to do a longer con by marrying into the Racket family and divorcing him later and getting a huge settlement, and Dennis delivered better than she expected by killing her boyfriend. She realized by staying in the marriage, she could inevitably have more.
I killed a man for that woman, Dennis admitted sorrowfully. It was his first time. He had thought he was protecting Silver, but he played right into her evil schemes. She threatened if he ever tried to divorce her, she would reveal the video tape she had – of Dennis choking Timmy to death. Rachel had felt sick when she learned the news. She should’ve felt scared but instead she felt nothing but sorrow and pain for a man she wanted to comfort, a man she was growing to care deeply about – a man who was not her husband. And Bill had been nothing but good to her since she announced her second pregnancy.
Bill helped form the citizens-against-crime committee for the mayor’s office, leading the charge and trying his best to make sure his wife’s political reign wasn’t marked by rising crime rates. Rachel appreciated his help. He had spent hours in the library doing research and calling other cities in the state to find out what they did to reduce crime. Rachel liaised with the governor’s office in New Simoleans, calling in every favor she could to bolster the police department, make the streets cleaner, and help the families of Twinbrook feel safer. Even so, her poll ratings were lower than she would like. But that was the least of her worries.
“You’ll be fine, mamma,” Gala, her best friend, and maid of honor assured her. “You have nothing to be nervous about.”
Easy for you to say, Rachel thought, but said, “Thank you.” Gala had a loving husband and a baby girl all her own, Quiana, and a flourishing catering business. Rachel had the appearance of success – a wealthy, doting husband, a happy, healthy child and another on the way, and political power to make an actual difference, but she wasn’t happy. She couldn’t put her finger on why. Most women would be over the moon if they could make their marriage work even after an affair, but Rachel felt empty. Like she was living the wrong life.
“You look beautiful, Aunt Rachel,” Lolly said sweetly. “Grandma’s diamonds suit you.”
Rachel absently fingered the necklace gracing her collarbone. Marigold’s final gift to her daughter-in-law before passing away in her sleep. She had been released from prison after the police determined the death was “accidental.” However, her memory deteriorated even more rapidly and the woman was placed in a nursing home for the final weeks of her life. In a rare moment of lucidity, Marigold asked Rachel to take the piece of jewelry, a gift from her own mother on her wedding day.
“I don’t have much to give you,” Marigold had chuckled. “And Bill already gave you the family jewels…” she smirked. “Though I think she got more of you than him. Hope is a lovely girl.”
Rachel had smiled and hugged the elderly woman.
“May it bring you more luck than it did me, dear,” she had said, patting Rachel affectionately on the cheek.
“Thank you, Lolly,” Rachel returned to the present, and squeezed her niece’s hand.
She was grateful the girl had come home on spring break for the wedding. She considered Loyola Racket a friend in addition to family.
“You two look great too,” she said.
“Oh stop,” Gala waved her hand. “You’re the bride. You look better than we do.”
“Of course,” Lolly piped in.
Rachel smiled, wondering what she would do without these two.
A knock on the door interrupted the ladies, and Gala slipped out for a moment to speak with the catering staff. Rachel sighed and patted her stomach, wondering if the baby would behave during the ceremony. She already felt nauseous. She had no reason to feel nervous. It wasn’t like she hadn’t been with Bill a thousand times, but tonight was different. Tonight marked the sobering reality – there was no going back. This was it. She was committed. Rachel wasn’t sure why that made her feel so terrible… so trapped.
“Are you okay, Aunt Rach?” Lolly asked, her face showing genuine concern.
“Yes,” Rachel answered quickly. “I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
The question completely surprised her, especially coming from her niece. Rachel turned to face the young woman, wondering what prompted her to ask such a thing. Lolly looked completely serious, and she held out her car keys.
“I have a full tank of gas and you can stay in my Olde Towne apartment if you’d like,” she offered quietly. “Sinbad and I won’t be back for several days. We’re going to take a drive down to Florsimdia for the remainder of my break.”
Rachel’s eyes filled with tears. Did Lolly know? Suspect? How? she wondered in bewilderment. She leaned forward and hugged Lolly. She wished she could. In the depths of her heart, she wished so fiercely she could just leave everything behind. But she had Hope to think about, and this town, and her career. She couldn’t leave. No matter how desperately she wanted to escape it all. I’ve really damned myself to hell. Rachel wished she could take it all back, but she had no idea she was practically making a deal with the devil when she started sleeping with Bill all those years ago. She probably never would have advanced as far as she did without the help and prestige, albeit infamous, of the Racket family. But at what cost?
“Lolly, thank you,” she said hoarsely. “You have no idea… thank you… this means so much to me. But I can’t.”
Lolly smiled sadly. “I wouldn’t think any less of you either way.”
Damnit! Rachel swiped at the tears stinging her eyelids, hoping she didn’t smudge her mascara. She grabbed the girl for another embrace.
“I’ll never forget the offer,” she whispered.
Lolly nodded, and slipped out of the room noiselessly. Rachel only had a moment to freshen her face before her mother and her mother’s long time lover made an entrance to wish her luck. Rachel couldn’t recall her mother looking happier. About a month ago, Rita had called to say she left Rachel’s father, finally, after all these years, and she and Virginia had eloped in Beach City.
“You look beautiful, my sweet,” Rita said excitedly. “We’re glad we could make it for your day.”
“Well, you missed the last time,” Rachel shrugged, and reached out to squeeze the other woman’s hand. “Thank you for coming, Virginia.”
“I’m happy to be here,” Virginia said graciously. “And you’re looking well.”
“Thank you,” Rachel said, bobbing her head back and forth. “More or less.”
“Well, you’ve got that glorious pregnancy glow,” Rita gushed. “Bill is a lucky man.”
Rachel cast her eyes down to the tile floor.
“I’m afraid the airport lost my luggage,” Rita sighed. “So this is the best I’ve got…” she held out her arms, displaying her rather casual outfit for a wedding.
“Ma, I’m just glad you’re here,” Rachel said. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Well, we should go get our seats,” Rita said. “Come on, Ginny,” she squeezed her partner’s hand. “We’ll see you downstairs, sweetheart.”
The door closed behind the two women. Rachel gasped out in pain as she felt the baby kick once more. Five months. Four more. She counted. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could do this. Already the pregnancy was harder than the last. The doctor assured her the baby was healthy, but Rachel prompted her to run a few more tests to be sure the last time she was in the office, and one specifically to help put her mind at ease. That or make me go crazy.
As if on cue, her cell phone rang. Rachel picked up the device, recognizing the number of her doctor’s office.
“We have your test results back, Mrs. Racket,” the doctor was saying. “And I thought I should call you myself as it may have bearing on your future.”
“Yes?” she asked, catching her breath as she waited to hear the inevitable news, something she thought she knew deep down in her heart already thanks to constantly advancing technology.
“The DNA results confirm that the father of your baby is Dennis Racket.”
Author Note: Dun… dun… duuuuuuuuuuunnnnnn! Yes, the plot thickens… yet again. One reveal and then another. I wanted to do a whole chapter with Rachel and Dennis together and my game kept crashing so I had to debug and then decided just to plop his “secret” into this chapter instead. Timmy DeBleu is an actual deceased Sim in Twinbrook, though he died of the mummy’s curse.
Given he got mixed up with Silver (or perhaps the other way around), the “curse” thing sort-of works… never mind… I have no idea how this works, but I’m using creative license. I did a little research on the subject of DNA testing in the womb, and discovered there is technology that allows for this fairly early on in the pregnancy, but it’s expensive and not well known. But my Sims stories are set on an alternate planet, Simterra, so the technology could believably exist there more prominently. Hope you enjoyed the chapter!