Like a helpless puppy, Bella trekked across campus to meet her forgetful lover in the morning. Malcolm always seemed to find a way to keep her coming back for more. After last night’s confession from Emit, Bella was ready for a distraction, even if the source of the distraction wasn’t the best choice.
Malcolm chose a strangely public place, the university bar on the central quad. He even managed to kiss her hungrily upon her arrival, giving little thought to who might be watching. Tiredly, Bella accepted the kiss, happy to numb the conflicting emotions bubbling within her being. Malcolm’s lips should have had a healing effect, but they didn’t, and she was sorely disappointed.
“Where were you last night?” she asked, as her eyes darted nervously about the quad.
No one was in the near vicinity. Even the bar appeared abandon. It was nearing the heat of the day, Bella realized, as the campus clock struck quarter-to-twelve, and the bar didn’t open until two in the afternoon. Most people were probably still in class or indoors, escaping the lakeside humidity, and that was to their advantage.
“You’re such a beautiful woman, Bella,” Malcolm said, sidestepping the question.
“Thank you,” Bella puckered her lips.
Perhaps she should let it go. Perhaps she should just be here in the moment with Malcolm. They could drive to the north shore in Simnadia and take the family yacht onto Lake Misimigan, where no one could find them and no one would recognize them. She could blow off classes again. She was too smart for them anyway. Perhaps they could spend the afternoon on the lake. They had done it before. Perhaps they wouldn’t even need to come back. They could completely forget about their plans and stay aboard the yacht for the summer, swimming in the cool waters, picnicking on the white sands shores, fishing for their supper, and sleeping under the stars. Bella stared wistfully at the man who had come to be her most intimate companion. She could grow to love him, she thought as she hesitantly lifted her hand to caress his cheeks, kissed by the golden sun. He had been good to her. And yet… it wasn’t good enough.
“Where were you?” she repeated with a frown.
“Forgive me,” Malcolm winced. “I was with…”
“With her!” Bella bit out, an intense pang of jealousy stabbing her heart.
“Well, you know I went home with her over the weekend,” Malcolm began weakly. “We drove to Simcago. The Upsnott family just unveiled a new restaurant in the Devil’s Port neighborhood near the copycat Champs de Marsian Tower. She was so excited. My Big Fat Celebrity Chef has agreed to produce a television show at the new restaurant and they asked Brittany to star in the show. She has the summer to create new dishes and coordinate with the staff, and then they’ll film in the fall.”
“That’s great!” Bella said sarcastically. “Meanwhile you ditch the other woman who can’t cook and burnt water in her college dorm last night.”
“Bella, I’m sorry,” Malcolm said, looking distraught.
“What are you sorry for? Sorry for ditching me? Sorry for stringing me along allt this time? Sorry for lying to your fiance?” she grunted, narrowing her eyes.
“Bella, don’t be like this,” Malcolm said, agitation rising in his tone. “I can be happy for her.”
“Yeah, while making me the most miserable woman alive,” Bella cried, folding her arms over her stomach in frustration.
“We both have other…” Malcolm began, but Bella interjected, raising a hand, “Don’t you dare finish that sentence. I know what we both have and don’t have. What I don’t know is how you can say you love me and then you love her too.”
“Well, don’t you feel the same for…” Malcolm lowered his voice. “…Mortimer?”
Mortimer? His name prodded her in the gut like ranch man using a cattle iron branding his prize heifer. She didn’t know how she felt about Mr. Goth, but it was nothing pleasant, and it certainly wasn’t love.
“Are we breaking up?” Malcolm asked, his voice cracking.
“What do you think?” she snapped, turning and running away from the quad, not bothering to wait for his answer.
Bella ran around campus for most of the day, purposely trying to avoid places she thought Malcolm might come looking for her. Part of her wanted him to, and another part just wanted to be done. It had been a huge mistake to jump into bed with the heir to the Landgrabb Real Estate Holdings Company, even if he was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed angel from heaven, teaching her what passion truly felt like. She doubted she would receive the same courtesy and attention from Mortimer Goth.
Around ten till nine, Bella realized she hadn’t eaten all day. Her stomach growled fiercely. Late spring rains impeded her movement as she pounded the pavement. She wouldn’t care about getting wet, except that she wanted to get to the nearest restaurant in a hurry. She thought she might pass out from starvation. Upon spotting the lighted sign for Hogan’s Deep-Fried Diner in the distance, Bella quickened her pace, her hunger threatening to gnaw her alive. As she approached, she saw a young bleached blonde woman standing before the diner doors, head tilted downward, shoulders hunched as she cried.
“Hey?” Bella called out. “Are you okay?”
The platinum blonde whirled, her face stained with mascara and tears. Before Bella knew what was happening, the girl plummeted into Bella’s shoulder, howling in agony. Instinctively, she lifted her arms to comfort the woman.
“There, there,” she said, almost in a motherly fashion. “It’s okay.”
She wasn’t even sure what the girl was upset about, but she figured it was the best she could do on a hunger-addled brain. The girl smelled of too much hairspray and earthy notes of cedar. Her skin boasted of long summer days beneath the Rio de Simnero sun in Mexsimco, and yet the dyed hair, white tube top, and matching short shorts seemed more indicative of her desire to fit into Sim National culture. The girl could have naturally black hair like Bella for all she knew, but somehow the blonde seemed to suit her, although Bella couldn’t put her finger on why. She had seen the woman once or twice before, and was pretty sure the girl was in her junior class.
“Oh I’m sorry,” the woman hiccuped in between sobs as she pulled back and hastily tried to swipe at the smudges on her face. “I just received the worst news.”
Your manicurist moved to the West Coast?
You got a B on a paper?
You don’t get to visit the Simiribbean this summer?
Bella internally smacked herself for thinking such judgmental and sarcastic thoughts.
“I’m sorry,” she said, instead, though she wasn’t sure why she was apologizing.
She shoved her hands in her pockets looking for a tissue, and handing the girl a crumpled one.
“You must think I’m terribly rude,” the girl laughed awkwardly. “I’m Dina Caliente. And you… you’re Bella, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, Bella Bachelor,” Bella affirmed accepting the girl’s outstretched hand. “Are you a junior?”
Dina shook her head. “No, I’m a senior. But you’re in my advanced fashion design class.”
“Oh right,” Bella nodded. “I knew I had seen you somewhere.”
“Yep,” Dina bobbed her head, giving a hesitant smile. “The teacher thinks you’re going places though. Maybe even fashion shows in Champs les Sims.”
“You think?” Bella beamed with pride. “I…would like that… someday. You’re not bad yourself.”
“Really? Thanks!” Dina said, swiping at a tear in her eye corner. “I wish the teacher would think so. She still hasn’t approved my designs for the final and it’s coming up. I came up with a reallly innovative idea and all… a lightbulb dress. What do you think? Wouldn’t it be divine?” she reached for and held Bella’s hands. “I even figured out a way to generate the power. I know I get the creative brains from my mother,” she prattled on. “My mamá lives in Championne. She works in the fashion industry. In fact, she’s so busy and all…” she trailed off, looking almost sad again. “…well, my twin sister and I go home to Rio de Simmnero where my uncle and auntie raised us.”
Called it, Bella smirked, arching her chest, feeling a bit inadequate in Dina’s presence as the other woman was most definitely two cup sizes larger.
“I talk with mamá though… maybe you know the name? Katarina Caliente?”
So that’s why the Caliente name sounded familiar. Katarina Caliente was a legend in the fashion industry, formerly a Hidden Secrets supermodel in Big Apple City, before opening her own boutique in the Sim Union.
“Maybe you’ve seen me and my sister too,” Dina said, her eyes lighting up. “We were featured in the Wrenches of Summer hand tool calendar.”
Bella covered her mouth and coughed to keep from laughing aloud. “For Handy Andy‘s tools, right?”
“That’s right. Oh you have seen it,” Dina exclaimed.
“Sure,” Bella shrugged, figuring a little white lie was excusable.
“Maybe I could call my mamá and ask her to look at some of your samples,” Dina offered. “You know… for being so kind to me.”
“I just lent you a shoulder to cry on,” Bella shrugged. “It’s no big deal. Say… are you okay about everything and all?”
“What?” Dina’s expression darkened. “Oh… yeah… um… well…” she looked uncomfortable. “You look like a person I can trust, Bella, so I’m just going to come right out and say it. Today I found out that I’m not the only woman in my boyfriend’s life.”
Bella felt a twinge of guilt, anticipating the upcoming words.
“I’m… the…other…woman…” Dina cupped her mouth and whispered loudly.
“I see,” Bella remarked, her shoulders stiffening.
“The guy’s engaged,” Dina dropped her arms dramatically, visibly distraught. “I just don’t know why I keep picking bad guys. I mean not bad guys like in the movies or something… but guys who are bad for me.”
“I know the feeling,” Bella sighed.
“You too?” Dina’s eyes grew wide.
“Yeah,” Bella admitted, exhaling sharply. “The guy I was with is engaged.”
And I am too, she thought with equal parts distress and discontent.
“Really?” Dina said. “But was he dashingly handsome and devilishly charming.”
Bella kicked a loose stone with the toe of her sneaker. “And wealthy to boot.”
“Mine too,” Dina admitted. “The best princes are. And they make you feel like you’re a princess… no…” she swept her arms wide. “…a queen.”
Bella scrunched her nose. Malcolm was the heir to his family’s fortune, but he wasn’t a prince. She certainly didn’t feel queen-like knowing he was with another girl. She was more like a princess locked in a dark tower slated to marry the dungeon master, if anything. Even so, Dina seemed like the dreamy, head-in-the-clouds type so perhaps it was best for Bella to roll with her sappy romantic notions.
Dina seemed to ponder for a few moments before tilting her head with a smile. “You know what, Bella? I’ve decided we are going to be good friends… I mean, great friends. I mean, we are already commiserating.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Bella shrugged.
“Come on,” Dina linked arms with her new friend. “I’ll buy you the best tacos on the lake shore.”
Author Note: I hope you enjoyed the chapter. My Big Fat Celebrity Chef was a random title I concocted while trying to think of a name for a cooking celebrity show for Brittany Upsnott. The Sims are all about the exaggeration and the puns. I have mentioned before that the Champs de Marsian Tower is my Simworld version of the Eiffel Tower, named for Champs de Mars, the large public greenspace in Paris where the Eiffel Tower sits.
This version of Dina Caliente is actually found in Rflong7’s downloadable world, Legacy Island III. This Dina Caliente is the daughter of Katarina Caliente, and the second cousin of Flamenco and Nighat Caliente. She and her twin sister, Nina were raised by their second cousins in Rio de Simnero, Mexsimco. Their mother, Katarina is in the fashion industry in Championne. She also is a former Hidden Secrets model, a play on Victoria’s Secret. The Wrenches of Summer hand tool calendar is actually mentioned in Dina’s biography on Sims Wikia. Handy Andy’s Tool Company is a name I created for my Simworld. Thanks for reading.