Wind chimes? Was that what had awakened her? Bella roused from her sleeping position, letting her legs dangle off the bed. The tinny tubular metals on strings tinkled around outside her bedroom window. As soon as spring arrived again, her next-door neighbor loved to hang the intricate little wind instruments, but this was the third time they had broken through Bella’s sleep. She rubbed her eyes, feeling a slow creeping horror as she realized she smudged her makeup. I went to bed fully clothed again.
Bella flopped back on her pillow, tilting the clock to see the time. It was the only thing in the room piercing through the night, as the street lamp was out again, so the room was fully dark. The red rays displayed the time – 2:59.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Bella groaned, plunking back on her pillow, with her arm tucked behind her head.
Bella had stayed up to finish a term paper, and had only crashed about an hour and a half ago. She had an 8a.m. humanities class, and as easygoing and lenient as Professor Larrea was, Bella doubted she would appreciate her students falling asleep in class. Perhaps, Bella should just skip class.
The incessant dinging of the wind chimes grated on her nerves. Bella grunted, rolling out of bed and flipping on the overhead light. If the only way to sleep was to remove the wind chimes from the window sill, she’d do it, even if it meant risking her suite mate’s wrath. Then again… it might not be such a good idea… Bella stared down at her bare feet. She needed something to help her sleep and she knew just the trick. Standing in front of the mirror, Bella freshened her makeup, and pulled on her tennis shoes one a a time without untying the laces. As she hopped up and down, she nearly fell over, and reached out to brace herself against the smooth glass. Touching her reflection, Bella wondered if she really should be doing this, but quickly averted her eyes to avoid feeling guilty. Stepping into the lit hallway, she snaked her way through the building, walked out the front door, and then felt for her key and ID in her pocket. Satisfied she wasn’t being watched, she bolted from Landgrabb Boarding House around the curve to the Peanut Street Apartments, complex B. As she climbed the steps of the other building, she laid a hand across her stomach. Butterflies! Bella lifted her chin high. She had no reason to be nervous.
The man opened the door, shirtless in his boxer shorts, after Bella knocked thrice. She stepped into the duplex kitchen, and smiled, wrapping her arms around her lover.
“Another sleepless night?” he asked.
She nodded, leaning into his hug.
“I’m so glad you came,” he murmured, pulling her into his tight embrace. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too,” she stood on tiptoe, lifting her head, and taking a long, sweet drink of his lips. “There. That always makes me feel better.”
“I am happy to oblige,” he said with a smile. “You’re lucky. My roommate is out tonight.”
“Your roommate is always out,” Bella said, nonchalantly, stepping into his kitchen and dragging a finger across the sunny wood table. “I see she left behind flowers.”
“It baffles me that Allegra wants to be a florist,” he said, wrapping his hulking arms around Bella. “…last week she was burning her bras on the campus quad and this week she’s leaving daffodils everywhere.”
“Don’t judge,” Bella whipped around and pushed her index finger into his hairy chest.
“Yeah, but she’s into women,” he grunted, taking a step back from the pain of Bella’s nail digging into his flesh.
“That’s why I am totally okay with you rooming with her,” Bella remarked. “…even though I haven’t officially met her.”
“She’s pretty cool, even if she’s into protesting against the administration, ” he said. “You could come over for dinner sometime and meet her.”
“She’s in my humanities class actually,” Bella replied. “But remember, you and I…” she lifted a finger to his lips. “…we’re kinda on the DL.”
“You could come as a friend,” he replied. “I could host a dinner party.”
“Do you think you could keep your hands off me for one night?” she grinned.
He yanked her to his side, wrapping one arm around her shoulder and neck, and lingered a mere inch from her mouth.
“I can’t keep my hands off you now, Bella Bachelor,” he whispered excitedly.
“Exactly,” she whispered back. “So what makes you think you could then, Malcolm Landgrabb?”
He sighed and leaned fully into her lips, and she opened allowing him to enter. He sent delighted shivers through her vein and down her spine. She felt honored to have such an incredible lover. Malcolm had taught her about the whole wonderful world of sex, something no one had ever taken the time to teach her before. Of course, her mother had given her the “safe sex” talk, but in the technical doctor-patient kind-of way, not really answering any of her questions about love and pleasure, and she certainly wasn’t going to get those kinds of answers from her father. Simis had merely told her to wait until marriage because that’s what the Good Book said to do, and if she needed advice on patience, she should read it. Bella scoffed internally. The Good Book had nothing to say about how good sex is. How could she wait when this scrumptious man was right before her eyes?
Malcolm lifted Bella into his arms, and her heart beat a little faster, anticipating all the lovely things that would happen next. She almost wished she did have someone to talk to about this passionate affair of hers, but Jennifer wouldn’t understand. Her best friend was intentional about waiting for her wedding night with John, and she even wore a purity ring to prove her dedication. Bella wasn’t close enough with anyone else to really discuss matters of the heart… or the body. Malcolm was sucking on her earlobes as he carried her up the stairs, and she flinched at the sensation. He started trailing kisses down her neck and she exploded with giggles.
Twenty minutes later, they lay on the bed, panting as they stared up at the ceiling together. Malcolm retrieved his boxer shorts from the floor and Bella got redressed before climbing back onto the bed. She intertwined his fingers with her own and sighed happily. Pure bliss.
“I love you,” he said softly as he kissed her hair.
Bella jolted so quickly she bumped her head off the bed frame. “What? Do you mean that?”
“Of course, I do, silly,” he nuzzled her nose. “I wouldn’t have said so otherwise.”
He sounded so confident. Bella wished she could say she felt the same way. She wished she could say that she loved him. But in all honesty, she didn’t know. She loved being together. She loved the way he made her feel. She loved that he cared for her unlike any other man in her life thus far. It was nice to be cared for… but was it enough? She loved that she felt safe with her first partner. But she didn’t love the fact that both of them were engaged to other people. Bella bit her lower lip.
“Say something, Bella,” Malcolm probed.
He knew. She knew. They both knew. And yet when they were together, they denied it. They had bonded in the summer in Simspania over the fact that they both stuck in arranged marriages – Bella to a man who could save her family from financial ruin and Malcolm to a woman who could increase his family’s real estate holdings with many of her family’s restaurants. Neither one of them loved their future spouses, but they tolerated them for the sake of family. But Bella felt like she deserved more.
She was still young. She wanted to explore. She wanted to date. She wanted to try new things. Sometimes she felt her parents agreed to this so they didn’t have to worry about her dating at all. Well, if they could see me now… little do they know… Little did anyone know. Sometimes she wished she had never met Mortimer Goth. Sometimes she wished she had never rescued him from a watery demise, and then she would immediately feel guilty. Even if she despised their arrangement, Bella could never knowingly let a person die.
Sometimes she wondered what her life would be like if fate hadn’t intervened. Bella might not have gone to university. She may have needed to work a job. Her parents may have lost their house and they would have needed to downsize. Her little brother may have been forced to go to public school. But she would be a free woman. Free to date whomever she chose. Free to be in a relationship with Malcolm Landgrabb the IV… that is if he wasn’t still engaged to Brittany Upsnott, the queen of Tri-Var Sorority house, and the sole heiress to the Blackbird Gourmet Burgers and Brews restaurant chain.
If fate hadn’t intervened, Bella may have been able to seal her own, and help her family by marrying Malcolm instead of her own free will. His family was wealthy enough, and had just as much money and class as the Goths. However, during her few encounters with Margaret Landgrabb, Malcolm’s mother, Bella knew she would have needed to strive to win the Landgrabb family approval. Margaret had called Bella a “social climbing weasel” and a “gold digger,” though Bella had no idea what the woman’s problem was or why she cared. It wasn’t as if the Landgrabbs and Goths ran in the same social circles.
If fate hadn’t intervened, maybe Bella could have spent Christmas with her own family this past term, instead of visiting the Goth family manor in Sunset Valley. Christmas just didn’t seem the same without snow. Mortimer was kind and obliging, but also distant. He didn’t even hug her hello when she had arrived, and he wouldn’t hold her hand, not even when they were alone. There was no love there, and he had faithfully kept his promise to not touch her until they were married, much to Bella’s relief.
Mortimer’s kid sister, Morgana followed Bella around like a lost puppy asking all sorts of curious questions. Mortimer’s younger brother, Gunther Jr. was actually fairly close in age to Bella, but he kept his distance, seeming to disapprove of her in some way. His older sister, Minerva was spent half a day with the family before flouncing off to Southern Califorsimia to spend with her boyfriend, and from the whispering gossip among the staff, Bella sensed Minerva’s gentleman wasn’t approved by the family either. Gunther Sr., Mortimer’s father, was reserved, but polite. He served as the dean of Sunset University, and mostly talked about the school and politics, two things that did not interest Bella. Cordelia, his wife and Mortimer’s mother, seemed to be the only one who was pleased by her future daughter-in-law, and delighted in measuring Bella for wedding dresses and tiaras and veils, dragging her to two dozen shops between Sunset Valley and Bay City. Bella was happy for the attention, but still annoyed at the circumstances.
If fate hadn’t intervened, maybe Bella could have found a way to go to university anyway. She could’ve taken a gap year, and then started late. Perhaps she would’ve dated Daniel, or she could’ve found another single guy, maybe like that strange man Emit Relevart, whom she also rescued last fall when he had collapsed in front of her door. Bella narrowed her eyes. She hadn’t seen Emit since that night, and she wondered if he had transferred, or if he was a ghost, or he simply wasn’t a student. Sim State University was very large, so it was possible to never see someone in one’s entire time in college. Still, she wondered about him from time to time, and the thinking about how he ended up at her door still sent shivers through her spine – gangs of people beating up open supernaturals.
“Are you okay, darling?” Malcolm interjected.
She shook her head and leaned against his bare chest, closing her eyes. “I’m just tired. Can I ask you a favor?”
It was evident by the delay in his response that she hadn’t answered his question, or said anything at all. Nonetheless he answered.
“Sing me a song.”
“A song?” he stroked her hair. “Okay…” he seemed to think about this for a moment. “The itsy bitsy spider…”
Bella turned over and whacked him in the stomach.
“Okay, okay,” he laughed. “I’ll sing you a different song.”
“You better,” she grinned, though he couldn’t see her in the dark as she planted a kiss on his lips, turned back over, and snuggled under the covers.
Malcolm was quiet for a moment before singing again, this time, slower, and softer, “Love me tender. Love me sweet.”
Bella smiled as she closed her eyes.
“You’re singing me Elvis.”
“Elvis never dies,” he said, nuzzling her head. “Never let me go.”
“Mmm… please don’t,” she sighed pleasantly.
“Shh… just let me sing. Fall asleep to my voice,” he said quietly. “You have made my life complete and I love you so.”
As he continued singing, Bella wondered if he knew the truth. I don’t love him. I have to tell him I don’t love him. What am I doing? She let herself relax. He had to think she was sleepy. She would make him think that. Just like I made him think I love him? Sleeping together was a foolish idea. I care about him. I just don’t love him. He repeated the song, and this time, Bella felt her eyelids grow heavy. I can keep a secret … she thought as she drifted to sleep.
Author Note: The plot thickens. Yes, Bella is still engaged to Mortimer, in case you forgot. Malcolm Landgrabb the IV is also engaged to Brittany Upsnott, who is a Sim found in the Sims 2 and recreated for Sims 3 by psychedelicsims and OkieOK01, and so is Allegra Gorey, Malcolm’s roommate.
In case you didn’t pick up on it, time has passed. It is now spring of Bella’s sophomore year. Blackbird Gourmet Burgers and Brews is a play on the Red Robin burger restaurant chain in the United States. Hope you enjoyed!
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