With a groan of frustration, Bella continued dicing up green onions and tomatoes. Another summer spent in Simspania and she still couldn’t cook. She wasn’t so upset about her lack of skills. She was more upset that she had been sent away… again. She wouldn’t have even been able to see her grandparents if it hadn’t been for that blasted Mr. Goth. He paid for everything.
Bella grunted, shaking out her wrists as she felt numb and cold. She walked to the sink and shook tomato seeds from her hands. She wondered if her parents sent her to the Sim Union because they knew they couldn’t follow. They couldn’t afford to follow. She liked her grandfather and grandmother well enough, but she hated feeling like a caged bird, forced to fly all over the world on someone else’s dime, and some day, her bill would come due.
Mortimer made monthly visits to Simspania to see his bride-to-be. Bella dreaded every moment in his presence. He was polite enough, doting even. He brought her gifts, as if he could buy her affection. What did a man eleven-years his senior want with a soon-to-be college junior? Why did he want her specifically?
Bella woke every morning in Barcelona and stared at herself in the mirror, wishing she was plain. Sometimes she would beat the glass, the image staring back depressing her. In her anger, her fangs would emerge and the reflection would frighten her, and she calmed herself every time. Mortimer had promised the medicine would help to suppress her urges. It was relatively new, a prototype drug, not yet available to the general public, something called Vamprocillin-D. It worked perfectly, but the cost was steep. Her parents could never afford to pay for the pills. That was why they needed Mr. Goth’s generosity.
Once Bella skipped a few days of pills, and she spent the entire night in a frenzied rage. When the full moon set and the sun began to rise again, Bella’s abuelo found her in a field, a rabbit in one hand with its head torn off and someone’s pet dog slain, skinned alive in the other hand, and blood dripping from her chin. He was so terrified by what he saw, the poor old man nearly had a heart attack. Bella collapsed in his arms, and they never spoke of the incident again.
When she awoke, she was in the guest bedroom of her abuela’s abode, and her mother was standing over her, draping a cool towel over her forehead. Mortimer had flown Jocasta to Simspania overnight. It took a week but Jocasta nursed her back to health. Bella tiptoed downstairs to the sunny breakfast room, hoping to thank her mother for her care,but was told Jocasta had already returned to the Sim Nation. Her mother hadn’t even stayed long enough to say goodbye despite having not seen her daughter in a year. After that, it was two pills with a full glass of water every night before bed.
Bella cursed beneath her breath, shifting her focus to slicing cheese. The cheddar became the new outlet for her anger. It was as if her mother was ashamed of her. Bella couldn’t bear the thought. She just had to be better. She had to be better and stronger. She had to get good grades and say her prayers and focus on staying healthy. And yet all that went out the window the moment she returned to campus and he arrived.
Malcolm had missed her. She had every intention of telling him they were finished. He hadn’t visited her once in the summer. It was probably for the best. She had suffered a terrible blood fever after recovering from her episode, and her memories were hazy at best. Malcolm wouldn’t have wanted to see her. She was a killer. She was lucky she hadn’t accidentally committed manslaughter. It was the first time she realized just how dangerous she was and just how right her parents were for hating her. Malcolm couldn’t love a monster.
But when he tapped on her window at a quarter past twelve on her first night back, she couldn’t help herself. She allowed him entrance to her room and they fell into familiar habits. Malcolm Landgrabb the IV was hard to resist. Tonight, they had made plans to meet for dinner. Bella had offered to cook for him, much to Malcolm’s surprise. Bella was bound and determined to be a normal girlfriend, well as normal as she could be. She would cook, even though she had rarely done so before, and make baked macaroni and cheese, his favorite.
Bella huffed in annoyance as she continued to try and chop up the cheese into bite-sized pieces. It was as if the knife had a mind of its own, cutting at odd angles and never in straight lines.
“You…will…obey…me…” she said, through gritted teeth.
The cutting instrument slipped and sliced through the tender flesh of her left index finger. Bella uttered a sharp cry and stepped back, teetering at the sudden shift in her position. She whacked the cutting board with her free hand, attempting to regain her balance. All of her efforts were in vain as the board and all of her ingredients for Malcolm’s dinner flipped face down onto the floor. Almost instantaneously, the smoke detector in the kitchen began screaming, and Bella realized she neglected the water she had been boiling for nearly an hour, and the pot had begun to burn.
As if it couldn’t be worse, Bella sucked her finger with her mouth.
A familiar blue-haired figure appeared in the kitchen, his face bearing a look of concern. He stopped, bending to pick up the items on the floor and dumping everything into the sink while nodding to her to tend to the stove.
“Are you okay, milady?” he took a step back, hunching his shoulders and bowing his head ever-so slightly while still keeping his eyes on her.
“Bella,” she breathed.
“Excuse me?” he looked confused.
“Bella,” she raised her voice over the screech of the smoke detector. “My name is Bella.”
“Yes, Bella, are you all right? Are you injured?” he asked.
The care and concern in his voice tugged on Bella’s heart strings. Hot tears stung her eyelids and splashed her cheeks, her face contorting in pain. Emit gently placed his hands on her exposed shoulders and lifted her with hardly any effort, setting her out of the way. Bella turned to the side, lifting her hands to her face, humiliated by her kitchen fiasco and her strange display of emotion. Emit removed the burnt pot, setting it under cold running water in the sink, and then waved his hands over the stove top until the smoke dissipated and the smoke detector silenced.
“You are bleeding?” he frowned, pushing his brown-rimmed glasses further up his nose as he bent and took her hands.
“I am?” she had almost forgotten, feeling dazed.
Emit dropped her hands and stepped from the room. For a minute, Bella wondered if he abandoned her, standing alone in the kitchen with the sink water still running and the dinner ruined. She wondered how she would explain her mishap to Malcolm when he arrived. Emit returned, carrying a box of bandages and a bottle of antiseptic. He plucked a paper towel from the counter, and wrapped it around her finger, guiding her from behind to the sink.
“Here,” he adjusted the sink head and thrust her hand beneath the water, putting light pressure on her cut.
After she rinsed it for a moment, she felt him take her hand again, gently splashing some antiseptic and rubbing her finger with a clean, dry paper towel. Then he plucked a small adhesive bandage from the box, removed the wrappings, and placed it over her finger.
“Goldfish,” she smiled.
“Yes,” he remarked, rubbing her bandage between his thumb and forefinger to ensure adherence. “No…” he frowned, and shook his head. “…these fish are orange.”
Bella laughed lightly, pointing to the fish on the bandage. “These are called goldfish.”
“I see,” he said, almost sounding embarrassed by his lack of knowledge. “And do you like these gold…fish?”
She bobbed her head and grinned, laying her free hand on top of his own. “Yes, very much so. Most adults don’t get themed bandages these days.”
“Why not?” he asked, simply.
She shrugged, looking down at their hands. “It makes them look kiddie, I guess. But I don’t care…” she lifted her eyes to meet his own.
They locked eyes, his grey fixated on her brown.
“Wha…what…are you do…doing here?” she stammered, feeling heat rise on her face.
“I live here,” Emit replied.
He still hadn’t released her hands.
“You do?” she asked, biting her lower lip, flustered by his attentions.
“Yes, I moved in last week,” he said.
Emit turned and began shuffling items in the sink, salvaging what he could, and tossing out what he couldn’t.
“You don’t have to do that,” she said softly, tucking a stray hair behind her ear. “I’m the one who made the mess.”
She could practically hear the smile in his voice even if he wasn’t facing her.
Bella stood and watched his back, leaning against the door frame. Emit was a curious man, much more helpful than any other man she had ever known. Her father wouldn’t be caught dead doing dishes, even if her mother had worked a double shift. It is the duty of the wife and children to keep a clean home, Simis had always said. Bella appreciated Emit’s thoughtfulness. Within moments, the kitchen sink was as good as new.
“And now… I shall make you dinner.”
“Oh no,” she shook her head, stepping forward. “Seriously… I’ll be all right. I’ll order take out.”
“Take out?” he cocked his head to the side, and she remembered as a foreigner, he did not understand Simlish very well.
“No…no…” she waved her hands. “…I will go out and get food.”
“You should rest…” he reached out and stopped her flailing arms with his large hands. “…I will make dinner,” he insisted.
Bella sighed, and glanced at the clock. Malcolm was almost a half-hour late. She decided to let the man help, walking back to her room to call Malcolm. He didn’t answer, and she was afraid to leave him a message. His fiance had listened to one of her messages once, and while it wasn’t explicit or romantic or anything, Bella’s call definitely raised some flags. Since then, they tried to be careful.
Thirty minutes later, Bella returned to the dormitory common dining room. Emit had made baked macaroni and cheese with the green onions and tomatoes like she had planned, and probably much better than she could have. Deciding against her better judgment, she allowed him to pull out her chair for her and sat down to eat. Malcolm still hadn’t called or shown up. Her stomach grumbled, and she laid a hand awkwardly across her abdomen, and chuckled weakly.
“Thank you for…for doing this,” she said.
“You are most welcome, Bella,” he replied, sitting down across the table from her. “Do try it…” he gestured. “Please.”
She picked up her fork, poking some cheesy noodles, and took a bite. “Mmm…delicious. Where did you learn to cook?”
“In a space ship galley.”
Emit frowned. “But why?”
“No, I mean, really? In a space ship galley?” she remarked.
“Yes, I speak the truth, Bella,” he said defensively, though there was no hint of annoyance in his tone. “Do you not believe me?”
“Oh no,” she bobbed her head, shoving two more bites in her mouth. “I believe you.”
“Then why did you order me to leave?” he asked.
“Oh no… it’s a phrase. It means something like unreal.”
“But it is very real.”
“I know that… I just…” she laid her hand across the table, and touched his own. “Emit, it is delicious. Thank you.”
“You are most welcome,” he repeated.
Bella continued woofing down her food, realizing she was hungrier than she thought. Emit sat with a pleasant smile on his face, his fork still lying untouched next to his bowl.
“Aren’t you going to eat?” she inquired.
“Once you are finished,” he replied. “A man always lets a lady eat first.”
“Well,” she twirled her fork in the air. “…this lady says eat.”
“Is that an order?”
Bella laughed. “You are so odd, you know that, Emit. I am not ordering you to do anything. I am simply asking if you’d join me in eating at the same time.”
“Oh I see,” he nodded. “I will.”
They ate in silence. Emit took dainty bites, almost as if he was still hesitant to eat, as Bella shoveled food into her mouth. She stopped, awkwardly looking up at him from her second bowl of macaroni and cheese, a spoonful perched between her lips.
“So who taught you how to cook on a space ship?” she inquired, deciding it would be best to slow down as she ate.
“I had the best teacher in the world,” Emit replied.
“Really? Who?” she asked, her eyes twinkling.
“You could have used a grater.”
“You were trying to chop your cheese…” he demonstrated with his hands. “…a grater would have assisted in your task immensely.”
Bella hung her head. “I didn’t think of that.”
“Next time,” he smiled, returning his attention to his dish, without answering her original question, his foot bumping her own. “Oh er…un…apologies.”
She playfully kicked his shin lightly. “I see how it is.”
“How…what…is?” Emit puzzled. “Should I kiss your foot better?”
Bella blushed. “Um… no, that’s okay…” she replied, having an image of Emit awkwardly crawling under the table, squished due to his height and size, lifting her leg and planting a kiss on her red sneaker. “Emit?”
She giggled. “Back to milady again? Should I call you my lord?” she eyed him mischievously, clasping her hands together.
Emit blanched, as if it were even possible for him to grow paler. He stared at the floor, almost afraid to look into her eyes.
“No,” he said, quietly. “It would not be proper.”
“Why not?” she smiled as she twirled noodles around her fork.
“Because it is not proper on my world for a woman to address a man by the title ‘lord.’ It simply is not acceptable,” he answered seriously.
“Oh,” she slumped against her arm on the table. “Emit, you keep saying ‘my world.’ Were you raised on Luna? In one of the colonies?”
It might explain his odd mannerisms and strange way of speaking.
“Bella,” he said, sharply, startling her. “Milady…” he softened his agitated tone. “…it is not safe for you to ask where I am from.”
“What?” she grimaced. “Why not?”
“It simply is not. I cannot answer your question.”
Bella puzzled. “But Emit, why? Are you a spy or something?”
Emit pushed his chair forcefully, standing almost instantly. “Forgive my head above yours, milady, but I think I should retire to my room.”
He began walking away, leaving a confounded Bella.
“Leave the dishes, I can do them when I return.”
“Are you not feeling well?” she called after him.
Emit did not respond. He disappeared around the corner, and she heard his foot falls, and then a door closing firmly. What on Simterra had she said to upset him?
Author Note: You can also click here and read about the various vampiric diseases, and more about Vamprocillin-D. Hope you enjoyed.
Previous Chapter: Episode 10, Watch
Next Chapter: Episode 12, Confession