Laughter erupted around the table, for the third time in the evening. Bella was enjoying her impromptu welcome-back-to-uni dinner with the Pleasant family. They were certainly enjoyable to be around. Jennifer’s dad, Jeff Pleasant worked for SIMSA, but unlike most engineers Bella knew, Jeff had a taste for theatrical storytelling, utilizing his entire body to share tales from the cockpit of the tester space jets.
Bella particularly enjoyed his most recent retelling of the time he and his buddy decided to fly upside down into Luna’s space dock. His superior officers were not pleased and when they asked why Jeff and his comrade tried to crash land onto Luna, Jeff replied with a salute, “Sir, I just planet that way.” Jennifer and Daniel rolled their eyes, accustomed to hearing their dad say the same stories over and over again, but Bella didn’t mind. It was nice to see a family having fun together. It was hard to remember the last time she had a congenial dinner with her parents and Michael.
After his most recent joke, Jeff’s wife, Diane leaned over and teased that his wicked sense of humor was a sign he had missed his calling as a comedian. Bella smiled at the small sign of affection between husband and wife – Diane’s hand laid gently on his knee, ever so slightly caressing with her fingers, and Jeff’s smile broadening as he felt her touch. Jeff once said he and Diane prioritized time together when he came back from his trips, and they would spend the first evening out together on the town before spending time together as a whole family.
Bella figured it must be nice for Diane to be home full-time, taking care of the house and family. She couldn’t remember the last time her mom had even taken a sick day. Jocasta often worked sixty hour weeks, and when she was home, she was most likely catching up on sleep. Simis also spent most of his days at the church parish, seeing to the needs of his parishioners before stumbling home after eleven at night and leaving before seven. That meant microwave dinners and cold cereal breakfasts for Bella and teenage brother, that’s if Michael wasn’t snacking on a candy bar by the time Bella got up. He was generally already on his way out the door to meet a friend or go to school or whatever it was he did. Sometimes Bella went to grab a greasy sandwich at Golden Arches and she would sit in the play area watching the mothers with their kids just so she didn’t feel so lonely.
“I wonder where our food is,” the redhaired Daniel Pleasant inquired. “I have things to do and people to see.”
“Your fraternity brothers can wait,” Diane lowered her eyes and clucked her tongue.
“Yeah, they are probably weighting in right now in that fancy basement gym the frat house has,” Jeff smirked, winking at his son.
“Dad!” Jennifer exclaimed, rolling her eyes, as she reached forward to straighten the vase in the center of the table.
“I’m sure our food will be here any minute,” Diane added.
“I just want a drink,” Daniel remarked. “They haven’t even brought us our drinks and they aren’t even busy in here tonight.”
Bella glanced about the bar and grill. The Boogie On Down to University Way was typically packed with people college co-eds and professors alike catching up on the latest university gossip over plates of mouthwatering hamburgers and deep fried onion rings, unwinding over bottled sodas and beers, busting new and often ridiculous moves on the dance floor, raucously entertaining their peers with off-key renditions of pop songs or shyly serenading their sweethearts with silly little love ballads. However, tonight, the bar and grille seemed fairly vacant, save a football coach drafting plays on the back of his napkin while sipping his whiskey neat at the counter and the elderly librarian furiously knitting in the back corner booth while listening to Simzart much too loudly through her headphones and finishing the remnants of her lemon ice box pie. Bella shrugged, figuring the masses would pour in after the weekend, first the football jocks and cheerleaders, then the first-time freshman and transfer students, and then finally the upperclassmen en masse bragging about all the amazing things they did over the summer and planning out their social itineraries for the year. In a way, it was nice to return early; she could unpack in peace and enjoy more time with family… even if Jennifer and Daniel were not related to her. She considered the Pleasants more her family than her own family somedays.
Post a dinner of Mozzarella sticks, medium-rare cheeseburgers and garlic fries, house made slaw, and hot fudge sundaes, Bella made the ridiculous decision to sing karaoke with Daniel on a full stomach. The football coach had left and the librarian was still knitting, but the only other inhabitants of the restaurant was the bartender and the Pleasants. Bella gulped, trying to swallow a burp threatening to make its way to the surface, and Daniel nudged her playfully.
“What should we sing, love?” he asked.
Bella smiled, and fluttered her eyelashes. Daniel always called her “love.” It was his term of endearment for one of his closest and oldest friends. They had enjoyed years of flirting, even though they hadn’t really dated, minus one awful night their first year in college when they both decided to drink shots while sitting on top of the water tower and play Truth or Dare at two in the morning. Though it was a year ago, Bella still felt the sting of defeat, sitting in her underwear puking her guts out over the side with Daniel stood in his boxer shorts, holding her hair. It had been fun while it lasted, and she recalled he was actually an excellent kisser when they made out on one of the dares, but neither one of them ever spoke of that night ever again, and probably for good reason. Bella decided to swallow her pride. The humiliation of singing in public was minuscule to that night, even if Daniel had been her only witness.
“I Want You Back by the Jacksim Five,” she said cheekily.
Daniel grinned and punched the song into the machine as she picked up their microphones. Bella, of course, took the lead, singing most of the lyrics of the classic bubblegum pop song. She scrunched her shoulders and nose in a cutesy way as she made faces at Daniel while they sang through the number, and Daniel kept the rhythm, slapping his hand against his jeans and echoing his words in perfect time. Jennifer whooped delightedly from the table, and Jeff and Diane stood up and twirled about on the dance floor. Even the bartender on duty smiled and clapped to the beat. When they were finished, Daniel high-fived Bella and she coyly placed a kiss on his cheek bringing color to his face.
The elder Pleasants paid for dinner and went to help Daniel unload his gear at the fraternity house. The girls had already moved into their dorms, and bid Jeff and Diane a good night. Bella watched somewhat jealously as Jennifer hugged both her father and mother, and the parents both leaned in to kiss their daughter’s head. She wished her mother and father had taken the time to at least drive her back to Neighborly City for her sophomore year, especially after spending little time with their daughter over the summer vacation. Bella had seen more of her brother and paternal grandparents in Simspania than her parents. Even Mortimer had made the time to visit and take her for a ride on his yacht along the Meditersimmian coastline.
Jeff, Diane, and Daniel waved goodbye, and Bella snapped out of her wishful thoughts, smiling and waving in return. Jennifer accompanied Bella back to her dorm. The girls were bummed they wouldn’t be rooming together this year, but Jennifer would be living nearby in the Peanut Street Apartments, less than a block away. The girls reminisced about their vacations as they talked and laughed and navigated around puddles from the newly fallen rain.
Upon arriving at the Landgrabb Boarding House, a commotion caught their attention, pulling them away from giggly conversation. A white-blonde haired woman wearing a jean blazer and much-too-short-a-mini-skirt for her age stood on the lawn outside their dorm yelling at a muscular, strawberry-blonde haired younger man, presumably her son.
“You should be grateful I even drove you at all,” the woman shouted.
“Margaret, your chauffeur drove!” the man protested. “You sat in the back and talked on the car phone the entire time. The least you could do is stay and have dinner with me.”
“Don’t call me by my first name!” the woman grunted.
“Right, because calling you mom makes so much sense,” the man rolled his eyes. “You’ve never been a mother to me and you know it. ”
“Shut up, you little brat!” the woman shrieked. “The only reason I drove you to this campus is because your father made me. He seems to think you’ll make something of yourself this year if you transfer to his alma mater…” she narrowed her eyes and glared. “…but we both know better since you show absolutely no initiative at all whatsoever.”
“Say what you really mean, why don’t you?” the man snarled sarcastically. “Why do you have to be so cruel?”
“Wow,” Jennifer whispered. “That woman is a witch. Isn’t that Malcolm Landgrabb?”
“The fourth, I think,” Bella nodded, twisting her one foot behind the other.
“And his mother, Margaret, I guess,” Jennifer said quietly. “All the newspapers say she’s a powerhouse. I mean, she’s got her own company and all. Dad worked with her once since her business does all the advertising for SIMSA’s educational awareness campaigns and their partnerships with the Youth Corps.”
“You mean the Youth Force for Good… the YFFG?” Bella corrected. “They renamed the institution… better sounding, I guess.”
“Well look at you,” Jennifer covered her mouth to keep her laugh from traveling. “What? Are you thinking of joining up?”
Bella had no intention whatsoever, but she was attempting to keep the conversation off Malcolm Landgrabb the fourth and his mother as long as possible.
“What if I was?” she shrugged.
“Whatever,” Jennifer smiled pleasantly. “Dad said Mrs. Landgrabb wasn’t all that nice, but since SIMSA chose her firm, he had to work with her. I think he…” she interrupted herself with a yawn. “…pawned the work off on a subordinate.”
“I would too,” Bella said, narrowing her eyes as the woman stormed off the front lawn like a petulant child.
She breathed a sign of relief that the woman didn’t recognize her, and Malcolm had already turned to walk inside. There was no need to explain anything tonight. Margaret’s limousine nearly hit a passing taxi cab as it sped away from the curb and squealed around the other vehicle as if they could not wait to be out of Neighborly City.
“Wow!” Jennifer exclaimed. “Talk about wild family dynamics. She seems positively terrible.”
“You know what’s terrible?” Bella tried to change the subject. “Standing out here on a humid night without heaping bowls of ice cream. Come inside, I have a mini fridge.”
“I guess,” Jennifer said, hesitantly. “You think Malcolm came back early on purpose. To avoid the drama? Imagine when all the freshman are arriving in a week!” she whistled. “Holy cow! I wouldn’t want that kind of confrontation with all those students around.”
Bella climbed the steps ignoring her friend’s statement. The last people she wanted to discuss were the Landgrabbs. Jennifer hurried to catch up, taking two stairs at a time, her boots thudding across the porch.
“So Malcolm Landgrabb the Fourth lives in your dorm?” Jennifer grinned. “He’s pretty dreamy. Even if he is descended from detestable genes…” she trailed off, still watching the fading lights of Margaret Landgrabb’s vehicle before turning to follow Bella into the boarding house. “Too bad he’s taken. He and I would make beautiful babies…” she swooned, flouncing into the hallway with one leg tucked behind her in the air and her arms dramatically sweeping in front of her.
“Sure,” Bella rolled her eyes, putting her key into her room door. “Let’s eat that Cherry Simcia.”
Author Note: I hope you enjoyed another Bella chapter. I had fun writing about the Pleasant family. I love puns, but go figure, when I was trying too hard to think up one for Jeff Pleasant, I couldn’t come up with a great one. Lol. I tried to make the Pleasants look as accurate to their Sims 2 selves as possible with a few of my own creative flourishes.
Bella and Jennifer are sophmores at Sim State University, which was remade for Sims 3 by psychedelicsim and OkieOk01 The remade world is called Neighborly Sim State so in my Simworld, Sim State University is in Neighborly City, Misimigan. Boogie on Down to University Way is a lot in the cc world.
As I’ve mentioned before SIMSA is my Simworld version of NASA. Golden Arches is McDonalds. Simzart is the classical composer Mozart. The Jacksim Five is a play on the Jackson 5. Cherry Simsia is a play on the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor Cherry Garcia. The Meditersimmian Sea is a play on the Mediterranean Sea in Eurasia.
I also tried to recreate Malcolm Landgrabb IV and his mother, Margaret as best as I could, and decided I would take more creative liberties with them. Margaret Landgrabb previously worked for the Buckingham Broadcasting Agency (her maiden name) and she currently is the CEO of Superior Advertising. I picked the name Superior since this story is set in Misimigan near Superior Lake (a.k.a. Lake Superior in Mighigan). Malcolm Landgrabb IV is a transfer to Sim State University and is a junior.
And finally, if you’ve read Kassiopeia Fullbright and the Lost Legacy, you might recall a mention of the Youth Corps. Either way, I’ll explain. During the mid 2350s, Food Riots began on Luna, the moon world next to Simterra, and many people perished on both sides of the civil war, leaving a high count of orphans. The three major Simterran governments of Sim Union, Sim Nation, and Siminia-Simshuan Alliance formed a program called the Youth Corps for the Lost Children. However, the program was wildly unpopular after the media discovered the teens were being trained in military tactics with the help of the Orbix, an alien race who also trains their children for battle. The program was scrapped, but reintroduced to society in the mid-to-late 2380s and renamed Youth Corps for Good, designed to help place teens in study-programs and apprenticeships, irregardless of their family status.
Thanks for reading! 🙂
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