Newlywed Years, Episode 41, Collapse (LVB)

The snow crunched beneath his feet as he hiked up the treacherous mountain, but Emit wasn’t one to give up. Breathing hard, he rested his shoe against a rock so he could readjust the straps. Upon hearing a long sigh, he turned and fixed his eyes on his traveling companion. He could sense something was wrong. Something was coming, and he didn’t like it, but he couldn’t explain why. He had no rationale or reason to his unease. It. Simply. Was.

“You doing okay, milady?”

Bella glanced up from her intense focus on the ground, trying to put one foot in front of the other as the trudged deeper into the Simlaskan wild. Snow fell continuously throughout the day, the white flurries piling higher atop the mountain range. The trees, former ghosts of themselves, were the only things keeping her grounded in the sea of endless winter, their bare bones branches, black and bleak against the white, as the light tried to claw its way through the the ground. It was nearly four in the afternoon and already the sun was beginning to dip beneath view, and the biting chill of the wind sunk its teeth into her face, the only exposed skin against the storm. She tried to remember what warmth was like. She strained to hear the crackling of a fire and remember the dancing oranges and yellows and reds against a black starless night and to feel the embers of heat when she stepped close enough to be encircled with smoke. She would give anything to feel that now, and nearly did, but Emit had warned her to avoid depleting her magic as it would also diminish her energy. She frowned as she shivered even beneath the layers of a puffy black coat, black ski pants, a black turtleneck, jeans, thermals, and tights. Emit was less bundled up as her and yet somehow he looked warmer.

“Why isn’t it spring here already, Emit?” she asked, wrinkling her nose.

He smiled. Somehow the way she said his name warmed his heart. She had asked if he wanted her to call him by his real name – Nediti, or his nickname, Ned. He turned and grabbed her hands, her red gloved fingers cupping his own, and squeezed. She was the first part of his life that made him feel Sim… human. He wanted to hold onto his Sim name, his chosen name, and it was fitting for his lover to call him as such.

“Because the snows do not melt in the highlands until nearly summer,” he explained, as they kept walking, beneath a grove of snow-caked trees for added protection against the sharp winds. “Have you ever spent time out here?”

“No, never…and now I…” she trailed off, slumping beneath the branches against a tree truck, rubbing her hands together for warmth.

Emit returned to her side, laying both of his hands against her own and pressed slightly. She began to feel a vortex of hot air, and her fingers felt less frosty. How does he do that? Spontaneously generate heat? 

“Would you like to know?” he said, his icy eyes twinkling.

She smirked, playfully shoving his shoulder back, and indicated up the hill with her head. “Come on, don’t we need to make near the peak before sunset?”

“Yes,” he responded. “We can camp on the leeward side tonight so that we will be safe from the wind. My colleagues will meet us in the morning with a helicopter.”

“And… you’re sure… they’ll… remember you?” Bella said, grunting as she climbed over rocks and a fallen tree limb.

They had only just begun and already she was winded again. Must be the altitude. 

“Would you like me to carry you?” Emit offered.

She grinned, pushing a stray hair off her face. “No, I can make it,” she insisted.

His mind-reading had become almost second nature, and she felt she was improving also, though she could more often sense his emotions than his thoughts. However, he still hadn’t picked up on an important detail. This was surprising. Bella frowned. She didn’t know how to bring up the subject, and she should bring up the subject soon.

“They will remember me,” Emit replied, turning and continuing his trek. “Two years have passed since I made contact, but the old codes I used seemed to work.”

They had plans to meet his friends in the Simleutian range above Midnight Hollow. It had been several years since his last meaningful work with the underground, a group of aliens known as the Orbix and sympathetic Sims trying to thwart the efforts of the invasive Xekzoi raids, kidnappings, and skirmishes planet-side and in surrounding space. However, Emit made contact with them using an old source in order to secure passage off-world. From there, they could start a new life together. It would truly be a new life, Bella thought wistfully, though the frozen air hurt her cheeks too much to fully smile. She patted her stomach. A new life indeed.

They continued hiking for another half-hour in concentrated silence. The incline leveled, though the snow was still ankle deep and even knee deep in some places. She focused on putting one foot in front of the other, and as with every step up the hill, she left behind her former world.

Bella knew that life as she knew it was over. Her heart had truly been captured by an alien. Living off planet was always something she had wanted to do, and while Emit lacked the financial status she was accustomed to, he loved her deeply. She could give up everything for him – her reputation, her career, her family, her friends, even her figure… she nearly laughed wryly at the last one. Her family was probably the hardest to leave behind, though she was starting to forge herself a new one.

Now that she was gone, she could have Emit and Mortimer could have Dina, and her children, by other men, could be happy with the nuclear family they needed. She would be out of the way. It would be for the best. Toddler Cassandra may barely remember her, but as far as she figured, Alexander may never know who his real mother was. She doubted Malcolm would come forward and claim his offspring as his own, even with her out of the picture. He was divorced from his first wife, Brittany Upsnott, and married to Andrea Hogan, though as soon as he learned that Mortimer held the rights to the Hogan family restaurants, he might leave his second wife. It really wasn’t fair, Bella thought sadly, just how much Mortimer had disturbed their lives. She really hadn’t planned to leave him like this, but she couldn’t stand to be under his control any longer. Maybe some day she could return and visit her children, but in all honesty, they were better off without her. Mortimer would take care of them and they would have everything they could ever need and want. They had enough chaos when she was around, and things would settle down after she left. Then why did she feel like crying?

“The launch from remote places such as these keep our signals hidden…” Emit explained as he stopped beneath a hulking tree and checked a GPS device. “…from the Sims and… others…”

She knew he meant Xenosi, but he didn’t say it in order to protect her. She tugged at her red-and-white peppermint cap, wishing she had purchased one for functionality instead of cuteness. This one barely covered her ears. They would be meeting an Orbix shuttle which would deliver them to a remote location on Luna. She had always wanted to live on the moon, and now was her chance.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, sensing Emit’s concerns.

“The device… is flickering… and it is not working properly…” he hit the sides of the hand-held machine, and then glanced around cautiously. “And it has been two years, eleven days, forty-seven hours and seventeen minutes since I was last in this spot.”

“That’s precise,” she said, trudging toward him.

“I am precise,” he repeated, focused on the beeping, blinking machine.

But we’ll find it right?” Bella asked, optimistically, as she hooked her arm in his own. “If we need to camp here until morning…”

“No…I do not think a campsite here would be wise,” Emit frowned. “And we are closer to the sky so the signal from the satellite should be clearer…”

“Is it the storm?” Bella inquired, shielding her eyes as she looked up at the falling snow.

“…but it is not…” Emit continued as if he didn’t hear her question.

“Okay… so it’s fine, right?” Bella said, trying to ignore her elevated heart rate. “We’ll be all right? We’re together and that’s what’s important.”

A strange, loud sound shook the snow from the trees. Startled, Bella gasped, and nearly stumbled down the hill. Emit gripped her wrist to keep her from falling. She glanced about frantically. There was no visible smoke or flames. What could have exploded? she wondered, rubbing her ringing ears. There was no one else out in the woods with them as far as she knew. Perhaps the shuttle needed to make a crash landing.

“What was that?” she asked, bending over to grab her knees as she was struggling to breathe normally. “What’s…happening… to me?”

“You are experiencing a form of shock to your system, milady,” he said, helping steady her balance. “Can you…”

Bella shook her head. He sounded almost as if he was underwater, and there were other sounds with him… voices… speaking…clicking… buzzing… in another language. His friends, perhaps? Bella had never heard the alien tongue personally.

“Emit… we should go… a force… like that…” she straightened to her full height, still feeling shaky. “…could cause an avalanche.”

“Stay here!” he said, with sudden urgency, running ahead around the curve of trees.

Bewildered, Bella stood motionless beneath the grove of trees. She couldn’t understand what was happening and why she felt this indescribable feeling. Her throat felt dry and parched, possibly from the altitude and from the half-day hike. She reached inside her coat and pulled out a temperature-shielded canteen, and took a sip of the water. Despite the sealed container, the liquid still had ice chunks as it slid into her mouth. Her hands were shaky and she lost the cap in the snow. Damn! The water would be frozen within minutes at this temperature. She was grateful they weren’t carrying their packs. Emit had managed to ship their belongings off-world in a crate bound for Lunar Lakes where they would collect their items by week’s end. If she had been carrying a pack, she would be even more winded.

“Emit?” she called hesitantly.

He stood in the midst of shadowy branches and snow, his head tilted at forty-five degrees, his eyes closed. He felt the wind die down, almost unnaturally, and the falling flakes halted in the air a few feet above his head. He breathed in and out, his breathe creating slowed puffs of visible air from his nose and mouth. Bella called to him through a sea of clouds, a fog of jumbled thoughts. It wasn’t often he was caught off guard, when he wasn’t prepared. He had a sixth sense, an intuition. He could practically taste impending danger, but today, he felt nothing, though he had clearly heard the sound. An accident?

He recalled the sound years before, on his first descent into the atmosphere of Simterra. It was a rookie mistake. The thrusters misfired and caused a concussive force, but the clean energy burned smokeless and flameless, leaving little to no trace, unless one knew what they were looking for. Of course, he had been a rookie then, but he was still smart. Vastly smarter than most of the average intellect on this planet. It was the advantage the Xenosi had. Advanced technology. Enhanced intelligence. Burdened with glorious purpose. They would conquer the sector, and maybe one day the galaxy.

His forehead creased ever so slightly. They wanted him to hear their entrance. They wanted him to know they were here. They were coming for him. He could sense it. He listened. The silence was all too familiar. They were blocking him… with their telepathic shielding. His eyes snapped open.

Run!

Bella gasped, startled, as Emit suddenly materialized by her side. Teleportation. He only used it when it was an emergency.

“Run,” was the only word that escaped his mouth.

Bella’s eyes widened in terror as she saw a transport ship, and not the one they were supposed to meet. This was one she had only read about, and seen vague pictures of before as no one had really lived to tell the tales on Simterra or anywhere else the Sims occupied. She threw up her arms in defensive posture as Emit leaped in front of her, throwing up his own arms to shield her as his face contorted with an emotion she had never seen on his face before – frightened anger. It was if everything was spinning out of control in slow motion. Bella couldn’t understand why everything seemed to move at an infinite stagnation like it was stuck on a loop. She tried to run, but all of her muscles were sluggish while her senses were heightened. Something was coming. Something was on its way to their position… or rather someone. Or two. She didn’t know how she knew it, but she did.

Two feminine looking Xenosi materialized from beneath the transport ship, glowing with an aqua blue and neon green light. They were encapsulated in strange form-fitting suits, the only exposed skin, their green skin with splotches of blue, yellow, and hints of brown. Their solid black eyes gazed awkwardly, and blue electricity crackled all about their bodies. Emit threw up his arms involuntarily, his face contorted in pain. His arms hung suspended in the air above his body, his knees slightly bent as if to hold the weight.

“Emit! Emit!” Bella gasped, her own feet literally frozen in place.

She couldn’t move. One of the alien women, the darker green-skinned one, with back hair, and a captain’s hat, stepped toward her. So we aren’t all frozen in some weird warp bubble or something, Bella thought. The woman’s eyes narrowed.

Hello cousin,” she spoke in stilted metallic-sounding words.

“Cousin?” Bella lifted her hand to her lips.

Emit grunted and groaned, but was unable to break free of the telekinetic grapple on his wrists. Bella tried to reach for his hands, but was unable to force movement.

One of the alien women suddenly appeared only three feet from Emit, as if she floated across the snow. Bella couldn’t even utter a sound, paralyzed in fear.

“So… this is… the thing…” the woman buzzed, looking at Bella with disdain. “…whom… you have… chosen…”

“Stay… away…” Emit grunted. “…release her…”

“Oh…” the woman tilted her head in three sharp movements, cracking her neck muscles. “Should I?”

They entered a rapid-fire discussion in a language Bella didn’t understand, with random buzzing, clicking, and screeching like metallic scratches or nails on a chalkboard. She wished she could cover her ears, but she couldn’t fully move normally. Somehow the Xenosi had complete control of her motor functions. Bella closed her eyes, wishing the scene was a nightmare.

Fight it. 

What?

She could hear Emit’s voice clearly in her head as if he spoke aloud. Although she could see he was wincing, she could tell his mouth wasn’t moving otherwise.

Fight it. 

How are you… she fought to communicate internally on the higher plane of consciousness, as if trudging through a pool of super glue. Sending telepathic signals was tricky enough. Communicating on a frequency the aliens before them couldn’t hear was even harder. …speaking to…me… she gasped, nearly doubling over in pain as she felt as though her head was being split in two.

The headaches are normal since your mind isn’t trained… fight it anyway. It’s the only way. 

Only way… what? 

“Hello cousin,” the other female Xenosi, with the lighter green skin, spoke in the same metal, almost mechanical tone.

A spiky glowing green gem held the red hair in place, like a perfect ponytail in back, flawlessly symmetrical bangs in the front. When she turned, her eyes pierced to places Bella didn’t even know existed, reflecting little beams of white snowy light. She felt morbidly curious and simultaneously terrified. Emit dropped his arms, though he did not make a move to run away or fight the women.

“Greetings Ai’nam,” he spewed. “Release her. You want me,” he shot a death glare at the other woman, who stood with her hand jarred at an unnatural angle on her hip.

“At’rom  will not help you,” the woman called Ai’nam laughed harshly. “She traced your signal here. After…” she circled him, brushing past Bella in the process, and tapped his nose three times upon reaching his face again. “…all this time… after all these years… we have finally found you… and to think… it took a kos’cek smeti…” she wrinkled her nose and growled in Bella’s direction. “…to help us find you.”

The woman called At’rom leaned in and sniffed Bella, clicking her tongue. “Nediti, she is putrid. How do you…” she buzzed her lips. “…tolerate such stench?”

“What do you want?” Emit asked, his voice low, vibrating with righteous anger.

“You should be kneeling,” At’rom said forcefully. “What kind of respect is this for your queens?”

“Queens?” Bella shifted her head, frightened. “Emit, these are your cousins?”

Yes, these are the queens. Bella gasped and covered her mouth in shock. Emit never said he was related to the queens wreaking havoc on the planet and out in space. She knew he came from an important noble family, but the royal family?

“What do you think we want?” Ai’nam said, blinking rapidly. “You are wanted at the royal palace. Your services are needed again.”

“Do you not think your little… vacation… has been extended long enough?” At’rom sighed, flicking her fingernails in Bella’s direction.

Bella cringed.

“I will never go back with you,” Emit clenched his fists.

“Oh but you will,” At’rom cackled, a strange glowing device appearing in her hand as she lifted it to hit Emit.

“Run, Bella, run,” Emit turned, lifting his hands to block the hit.

Terrified, Bella watched as Ai’nam materialized by her side, her hand phasing through Emit’s chest. She blinked rapidly. What was she seeing? Was she hallucinating? Emit gasped, his legs buckling, as the Xenosi queen yanked her arm from his insides and rubbed her wrist with her other gloved hand.

“At least I know the device is still beating within your heart,” she said with an almost smirk. “I have looked for this for years. You really thought you could hide this inside your body, Nediti?” she leaned over and patted him on the back and clucked in his ear. “Or is it Emit? That is the name you selected to be called these days?”

Emit hit the woman in the abdomen with his fist. She doubled over in surprise. The distraction gave Bella enough time to run about thirty steps before collapsing face first into the snow after she was hit with a bolt of blue energy. She cried and hugged her sides. Searing pain tore through her lower rib cage and abdomen. She was almost paralyzed by the sudden jolt to her system as the alien weapon knocked her to the ground. Ai’nam cackled with laughter as she seemed to telepathically knock Emit from his feet.

“I forgot… cousin… that you can… block telepathy if you’re in range of a physical blow…” she said. “A weakness… we would do well… to improve against…”

“Time has been too long since we had a worthy opponent,” At’rom giggled.

“Stop it! Stop it! Just leave us alone,” Bella screeched. “He doesn’t want to be with you anymore. In your service.”

“Does she know who you are?” Ai’nam asked, amused. “Does she realize you are the son of her greatest enemy? And this woman… if you can call her that… she is puny and pathetic and weak… just like all the other insects…” she continued, her words dripping with disdain. “… on this planet. At’rom, let us show her who he really is…”

Bella flipped over on her back, panting hard. She sat up just as Emit transformed before her eyes. His skin changed to an odd blue color, similar to his hair, bearing the same shadings and markings as the other women. His hair shortened and he grew in height nearly a foot and a half. He swung an arm at the woman called At’rom, who doubled over into the snow, nearly falling on her face as Bella had, and he smacked the other woman called Ai’nam with the back of his hand, the shock wave of his surge of energy causing the both to tumble back.

When he turned to face Bella, she could see the strange green marks on his skin, beneath his eyes, across his nose, chin, and cheeks. His eyes had darkened, though not quite as black and soulless as the women’s eyes, and his nose narrower and tight. Bella expected to feel frightened, but upon seeing Emit’s true colors, literally, she felt a strange calm. He reached for her, pulling her up with intense force.

“Come,” he beckoned.

They transported into a vast spiraling golden light before she could fully process everything that happened. When they reappeared on another part of the mountain, he set her down and she stumbled forward in dizziness, nausea pooling in her throat. He seemed almost normal height again, though still in his natural blue skinned form, with green waves criss-crossing his face.

“Wha?” was all she managed to say.

“My cousins… the queens…” he said. “They have found me…though they forgot… in their telepathic grasp that I could still land a physical punch…” he flexed his hand. “…though it hurts.”

“How?” Bella gasped, tears splashing down her cheeks. “You?” she was overcome with confusion.

“Milady, are you not pleased with my appearance?” he asked.

“No… no… I mean… yes… you are…Emit…” she reached up and caressed his cheek, which felt cold and wet and scaly, almost fish-like. “…are perfect,” she whispered, her whole body shaking as she was still in shock.

His lips met her own, and he kissed her with fierce abandon. His hand encircled her waist, and another combed hungrily through her dark hair. They embraced in the cold on the mountainside as the snow continued to fall all around them, and Bella wondered if everything was a dream. It all felt so surreal.

“This is reality, milady,” he said, pulling back from her mouth. “And it is not safe. You must keep going…keep going to the rendezvous point.”

“What… about… you?” she cried.

“I cannot join you… not yet…” he hesitated when he saw the fear and pain in her eyes. “It is not safe for us to be together,” he squeezed her hands. “I need to… make sure… you are safe… off world… before they come again.”

“Your cousins?” Bella croaked. “How did they find us? Find you?”

“I do not know,” he shook his head. “They came themselves. That was… surprising. I must find out what they want. What they really want. You need to go, milady.”

“Emit, you can’t… you can’t fight them off alone…” she wailed. “You got lucky last time… but maybe… maybe I could help… I have powers…”

“…that are not honed or trained, milady,” Emit shook his head. “No I need to face them alone. A war is coming. I can sense it. I can feel it.”

Bella closed her eyes. She could practically smell his fear. She had never seen this side of him. He was truly terrified of his cousins and what they were capable of, and that freaked the living daylights out of Bella.

“We can fight,” she said, determined, balling her fists. “We can fight back against the darkness. We know they are here. That should give us an advantage. We can go get help. You can’t do this alone. You can’t face them alone.”

“You…cannot… possibly… know…” Emit said, clutching his chest and squeezing his eyes shut.

“Then show me,” Bella grabbed his hands, entering his memories.

The emotions at the surface were as she expected – fear… palpable fear. Then followed the darkness, endless darkness, thick, cold, paralyzing. She whirled trying to make sense of nothingness. She could sense… abandonment… utter and complete abandonment. She could hear his voice… his screams… he was yelling something she couldn’t fathom. There was almost an explosive energy as she attempted to reach for his hand in the powerful vision. The ground shook beneath her feet, and she looked up from black nothingness to blinding light… white light… she was floating over hills and mountains, across valleys and time and space… across stars…into the light… the blinding whirling white of a collapsing mountain. Bella yanked from Emit’s grasp, holding the sides of her head, sweat pouring down the sides of her face and her eyes blinking rapidly.

“What did I see?” she cried.

“What is coming,” Emit replied. “Bella, you need to go. I can…” he closed his eyes. “…sense them… coming…”

Bella grasped the edges of his collar. “But we could teleport again. We could fight. We could get help, and fight against them… uniting as one.”

“No, milady,” he said, sadly. “They are tracing my teleportation skills… that is how they found us once. I will not let them find us again… find you… please… go… milady…”

“Stop calling me that, Emit,” Bella threw her arms to her side in frustration. “Say my name. Don’t leave me like this.”

“Maribella, please… go…” he said, his voice cracked. “This is the only way. They cannot trace you if they are tracking me.”

“No…” she shook her head, the tears falling freely.

“Yes, Maribella… go…” he covered her hands with his own. “I love you. I will always love you.”

“Don’t… I can’t… Emit… I have to tell you…” she began, but he was enveloped in a blue crackle of lightning and golden glowing light as he was ripped from her side, pulled up into the unknown, waved of blue light flapping and buzzing all around her.

“EMIT!” she screamed, grasping up at the air in total panic. “NOOOOOOO!”

He disappeared into a ship as she dropped to her knees and clawed at the sky helplessly. Almost immediately, the entire mountain exploded in a boom. Bewildered, she pulled her hands close to her mouth, too startled to continue crying.

She turned to run as the the ground quaked, and the trees shook flakes angrily from their crowns. The snow rushed down around her legs, and she nearly sank into the sliding white sheets. Something cracked and crashed into the clearing ahead, obstructing what little line of sight she had as the powder shot up in the air fifty feet above her head. Bella gasped in horror. An avalanche.

Her mind ran on auto-pilot as she plummeted down the hillside, away from the aliens that had just snatched the love of her life from her arms, and away from the billowing tons of snow. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t feel. She simply ran. As fast as her feet could carry her. Faster than she had ever run before. She watched as towering giants of trees toppled at her heels, the weight of the snow too much for them to withstand. Her heart pounded wildly as her mind screamed for Emit.

Bella fell, her arm twisting behind her back and beneath her weight. She shrieked in pain, and realized this was it. This was how she would go. The sky was falling apart and the world was crumbling beneath her. As she looked back up at the mountain, she cried out for mercy, but to no avail. Nature would run its course today. The snow careened at wicked speed, about to crash over her body as if she were just another meaningless obstacle in its way. The frenzied avalanche would soon bury her alive… forever separated from Emit. She didn’t even have a chance to tell him the truth about the life within her. And now, Bella squeezed her eyes, bracing for impact, he will never know.


Author Note: This is the end of the Newlywed Years arc. I realized I never really let Mortimer and Bella be happy… well, for a brief moment. They picked a lot of their actions in game which supported my overarching story goals. Perhaps Newlywed Years was a misnomer, but Early Years was already taken. I plan to continue again in the future, but I wanted to take a break and focus on other stories.

I enjoyed this breather in Midnight Hollow, which is a truly beautiful world beneath the snow. Also I wanted to make a comment about the Xenosi women. Ai’nam is “Mania” spelled backwards with an apostrophe and At’rom is “Morta” spelled backwards with an apostrophe. Mania is the goddess of the dead in Roman and Etruscan mythology. The name Mor means “big and great” in Gaelic, and Morta is reminiscent of “mortal” or “mortality.” There is definitely a fear for one’s life when in the presence of the two Xenosi queens. 

Is this what I originally planned? No, there were a lot of surprises with this story, but I did really enjoy the result. I had this song – Into the Darkness by The Phantoms stuck in my head for a long while with this story and didn’t know where to use it. The first version I sense/hear at the beginning of this chapter and the second version by Nightcore I sense/hear at the end. I was amazed at how the lyrics of these versions of the songs naturally wove their way into the story without me even realizing it. That’s how in tune this song was with this chapter and this ending for Emit/Bella. This music almost feels like a natural ending credits song for this point.  I hope you enjoyed the journey with me. I plan to write more in the future, but for now, I will plan to return to Kass’ story… finally… after I return from my vacation. Expect a new chapter for KFLL in the next few weeks.   

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1.16 Happy (ALOW)

After the dinner with the Kims, Jenara walked out of her bedroom and was pleased to find the outlines of a pink something-or-other sitting on her dining room table. She snagged her glasses from beside the fruit bowl so she could see better. It was a giant pink stuffed bear holding a cushioned heart, and a note was pinned to its back.

I very much would like to take you on a “date” again. This time, alone…and I’ll pay. 

It was signed – Gar – with a fun, curley-cue G. Jenara felt giddy as she squeezed the gift in her arms, and wondered how he managed to sneak the stuffed animal into her house. Plucking an orange from her fruit bowl, she began peeling the skin, and thought about how nice it was to be dating again. She hadn’t been on a solid date since college.

Gar texted around noon and asked if Jenara wanted to meet him for a workout. Of course, she did. She eagerly jogged over to the Burners and Builders gym. She had been meaning to check the place out. When she saw Garbanzo standing on the sidewalk, his muscly arms exposed and his chocolate-colored skin glimmering in the afternoon sun, she about melted into happiness.

“You okay there?” he asked with a chuckle as she walked right into the curb.

Jenara chuckled weakly. “Heh…heh… I’m fine. How are you?”

You are fine, she thought.

Strangely enough, her workout companion did not follow her into the gym. Jenara tried to figure out the exercise equipment while Gar did push-ups in the street. She found the action odd as she assumed he wanted to spend time with her, but nonetheless, she determined the treadmill would not get the best of her, warming up with a few push-ups of her own before starting her running routine. 

At about four-thirty, Jenara took a break and wandered back outside to discover Gar had cooked them tofu-dogs on the grill across the road. Starving from her workout, she plopped down on the bench and began chowing down on the meal. Tofu wasn’t exactly her thing, but she was willing to try it for the sake of Gar.

“You hate it?” he frowned.

“No?” she replied, between bites of bun and tofu. “Yes…maybe…” she laughed and wiped her mouth to remove a blob of mustard. “It’s not terrible.”

“You’re not a vegetarian,” he hung his head. “I assumed. Because of the veggie burgers.”

“Because they were in my fridge,” Jenara burst out. “I like meat, but I do like vegetables too. And I’m willing to try new things, especially if I can throw mustard onto some things. Mustard is a delicious plant,” she bobbed her head as she shoved another bite into her mouth. “It’s really not that bad.”

Gar’s face relaxed into a big smile. “Thanks Jenara. I’ll take not-that-bad.”

“You better,” she gave him a friendly punch in the arm. “And I can make veggie burgers from a box for you anytime.”

Gar laughed.

Jenara stood, and began cleaning up their food, but he stopped her and placed his arms around her tightly, offering a nice squeeze. She felt her heart pounding as she could feel his breath on her cheek and ear.

“I really like you,” he whispered.

“I…” her voice caught. “…like you too. You make me very happy.”

Previous Chapter: 1.15 Third Wheel 

Newlywed Years, Episode 40, Leave (LVB)

The one bright spot in her life with Mortimer… Bella kissed the forehead of a sleeping Alexander as she laid him into the crib in the large closet re-purposed nursery in her parents’ home. She had just put Cassandra in her old toddler bed. The little girl rocked back and forth, clutching her ankles, babbling nonsense words in a sing-song way. Bella’s heart ached as she heard the sound of her daughter’s voice. She couldn’t bear to look at either of their faces again. Their whole world was about to change, and she hated her part in it.

Five weeks and six days ago, she spent the most incredible night with a man from Xenosa, the Sims’ enemy home world. She did not care that he had alien DNA rushing through his being. She did not care that being with him infinitely complicated her life. She did not care that he was the relative of the queens who ordered countless abductions of Sims and other aliens. She did not care that he was from the race that was determined to achieve immortality at all costs, even at the expense of Sim lives. He had abandoned the call of his job in favor of his principles. She loved this man more than she ever thought she could love anyone. She cared for him more than the father of her daughter, and loved him more than the father of her son. She would do anything to be with him.

Bella knew she was taking an incredible risk. She could lose everything. With the help of her attorney, she had opened an account off-planet, an account that now held the means for making her future happen. She would need all these untraceable resources because something was about to change, and she couldn’t have anyone tracking her. Mortimer had asked her to meet him in Sunset Valley tomorrow. He had made his request almost six weeks ago to the day. And yet she wouldn’t be traveling to Califorsimia, and she would be giving him what he requested, and then some. She would be leaving Alexander… and Cassandra in his care.

As she stepped into the doorway and clicked off the light, Bella glanced back at the fruit of her unions one more time. Was it worth it? She was betting everything on an alien, an alien she desperately loved, and she felt it was worth the risk, but as she looked at her son gently breathing in his crib and her daughter cooing to self-soothe on her bed, she couldn’t help but feel torn. She was leaving them behind. She knew she couldn’t take them with her. Not if she was to live the life she really wanted. It wasn’t fair to them to stay. It wasn’t fair to them to leave. She had to be true to the calling of her heart.

After today, Mortimer would know they were no longer married. She had signed all the papers Lee Butterworth had given her. As soon as Mortimer signed the lines as well, their marriage would be dissolved. Returning to Pleasantview, Bella made certain her other children were safe with her parents and brother. They would be loved. Of that she was certain. Of everything else…

“I’m doing this for you,” she whispered, as she walked down the stairs of her parents’ home for the final time, and instinctively patted her abdomen. “…little one.”

Newlywed Years, Episode 39, Standing Still (LVB)

“He just left you?”

Emit stared at Bella in disbelief. They had met for a midnight picnic with sandwiches and fruit atop the bell tower of Champs les Sims, and yet after Bella’s latest revelation, she somehow doubted they would be eating. The stars danced with clouds and shadows as she faced the sleepy hamlet in the valley. She could hardly believe it herself. Mortimer should be boarding a plane about now, she figured, glancing at his watch atop her wrist. It was hard to believe she once was a naive seventeen-year-old girl who just so happened to rescue a drowning man who was nearly lost to the sea because of a timepiece. This watch represented everything – her past and her present, her struggle, her prison. The tiny hands telling time had trapped her in that moment, binding her to a man she barely knew and could not love of her own free will. This watch had been her undoing. Before she could fully think things through, Bella quickly unsnapped the clasp, tearing the watch from her wrist, and chucked it with great effort into the snow-covered street below. She hoped a car crushed the glass beneath the weight of its tire.

“Bella, look at me,” Emit requested, gently.

She spun to face him. For the first time, she had her “out.” This was the moment she was waiting for. This was what she had wanted nearly three years ago. Mortimer had given her a “free pass” as if she was back in high school and wanted to leave class. It wasn’t as though she needed his permission to go neck with a paramour or kick back a can of beer beneath the bleachers on the school football field, or whatever the kids did back there when she was a senior. And yet she had the excuse to leave, to abandon her life for a man who held her heart. Then why didn’t it feel like freedom? Why didn’t she feel free?

Bella closed her eyes. She could nearly smell the water of Lake Misimigan, The smell of her stomping grounds, the place of her origin. The scent of woodland trilliums in spring, the clusters of columbines, and the stunning pink ladyslippers amidst burgeoning birch trees and creeping marram grasses. She could see the darkness roll in as the sun dipped its head to twilight above the vast lake. She could feel the shifting sand dunes beneath her back on a hot summer evening, and hear the soft choruses of the wind whistling between moss-covered logs and creeping marram grasses. She could almost hear the cheerful calls, beckoning her to join them around the crackling of wood and dancing of red-orange light, the smoky haze encircling the flames awarding a protective barrier from the tenacious biting flies and merciless lakeside mosquitoes. She could hear the melodic laughter and the off-key sing-song tunes of her drunk-on-life friends, rocking back and forth beneath star-kissed nights, even in winter, especially in winter, as they wrapped affectionate arms around one another’s necks for warmth and felt like this was the time of their lives. This was it. It couldn’t get any better.

Oh but it could! Bella grew up and learned the lessons of love and friendship and camaraderie. She experienced the fervor of man whose touch left her very nerves ablaze, dancing more erratically than the flames of the bonfire on the beach. She experienced the passion of a man whose touch plucked the strings of her heart, singing sweet music, the ones that lasted long beyond a moment beneath the moon on summer vacation. And yet, nothing…nothing could compare to the yearning she experienced when this beautiful tangled soul of rhythm and dance and mysteries and wonder met her gaze. He was like a nice, tall glass of ice water after swimming laps in the lake on a humid day when her muscles were like gelatin and she couldn’t find the willpower to move another inch, her throat parched, surrounded by liquid she could not drink, her forehead sweating, and her body panting for relief. It was as if she had been swimming in an endless sea of love and had yet to find its true source.

“Bella?”

She grasped for his hands, her own shaky, her entire body quivering with anticipation, anxiety, and ardor. He was hers and hers only. She knew it. She could feel it with every fiber of her being, with the darkest depths of her soul. It was as if Mortimer’s departure signaled a new awakening, a part of her she did not know existed, a part that longed to be joined in union with the object of her deepest affection, the man she loved more than she knew how to put into words.

“I can feel it,” he breathed.

The fires that heated her metallic brown eyes met the cool, unassuming mist of his rain colored ones. They experienced the intensity of emotions, ones that Emit had longed to release for his entire life, the ones Bella had ached to unveil. Emit reached with trembling hands for the sides of her face, cupping her cheeks with his pale-as-snow fingers, tracing the faint angel-kisses atop her nose. He wanted to know every line and every freckle and every inch of her. Somehow he knew she was his. She was giving all of herself to him. Bella gasped at his touch, like the flittering of snowflakes across her skin, and yet she wasn’t cold. It was as if she couldn’t even experience the chill of the early Simmarch night when he was near.

“Take me…” she breathed as his finger traces became kisses down her neck beneath the line of her sweater. “…to where you’ve been staying.”

He carried her to open field, quilted in undisturbed sheets of purest white kissing the edge of a frozen lake. The trees, dusted with a fine layer of flurries, seemed purely magical as they glittered beneath the full moon. Horses gathered, prancing about in the snow, and she smiled happy to see one of her favorite creatures. She blinked rapidly, stunned, when she saw a gorgeous steed with a strange horn in the center of its forehead, like a mythical unicorn. A rainbow mist of light descended from the sky like something from a fairy tale. Bella could sense all of Emit in that moment. As he shared in her memories of childhood nights on the shores of Lake Misimigan with Bella, she experienced memories of his own life. The exchange was breathtaking, overwhelming, and intimate.

“Careful,” he said, setting her on her feet. “If it’s too much…”

“No…” she placed a hand against his chest. “I want to…” she continued hoarsely. “…see.”

She closed her eyes and was sucked into a whirlwind of white, a blizzard, to be precise atop arctic glaciers. She could feel the polar winds whipping about, colliding with her being. She could hear the tantalizing trills of flutes and clanging of chimes as the cool lemon light splattered across the frozen tundra. She could see Emit, approaching in the distance, his face obscured by the falling snow, and yet somehow she knew it was him. Strangely, she did not feel afraid of the storm, or the fact that she could see these thoughts so vividly and tangibly, and yet somehow she was sheltered from the cold, harsh effects of winter. Bella could see a group of individuals, approaching their igloo-esque homes.

“Emit?” she said tentatively.

He didn’t respond. She was fully immersed.

His friends called to him, “Nediti!”

They clapped their hands and began a frenzied dance of joy, dancing in a figure-eight pattern atop ice with intricate star-shaped indentations. The frost-covered buds of flowers in early spring waved in rhythm as the wind chattered all around the snow-laden trees. Pops of moss peeped through the frozen winterland along logs, and as Bella touched their surface, the wood became brittle and crumbled to a fine dust. She could hear a hum and buzz emerge from the hollowed fiddle one of the aliens held as he cranked a wheel against strings and pressed the wooden keys against strings for an almost bagpipe like sound. Bella found herself swaying to the song in an alien tongue she didn’t recognize. The words mattered little; the music was mesmerizing.

As the music slowed, Bella had spun herself into a dizzy circle and collapsed into the snow. She opened her eyes and gasped for breath as the powder flew in her face. She began swinging her arms back and forth to make the pattern of a snow angel, feeling like she was stuck in an infinite loop of “happy.”

“You shared a moment of music with friends,” Emit spoke. “It seemed only fair to return the favor and share a memory of music with you.”

“That instrument, the dancing!” Bella gasped. “It was hauntingly beautiful.”

“It is called ko’lesa in my mother tongue,” Emit explained. “You approve of its tone?”

“Oh yes,” she reached up and pulled him down next to her with a mischievous giggle.

Emit received a face full of snow, and slowly began moving his arms in the same rhythmic movements as Bella.

“What do you call this?” he inquired.

“A snow angel,” Bella said, standing up. “And you can turn over and lie on your back.”

Emit gave a muffled laugh. “Why should I want to do as you suggested?”

“Sarcasm, Emit,” Bella returned to the center of her angel, and used the force of her upper body to flip him over on his back. “You are learning.”

“I suppose,” he said, spitting and brushing snowflakes from his face.

Both Emit and Bella sat up in the snow. He reached for her hand, and they exchanged shy smiles. She felt her heart skip a beat as she stared into his eyes, endless pools of rainwater and love. The music had faded from her ears, and she wondered if she had too much nectar.

“It was not a hallucination,” he spoke. “In my culture, we call it k’olek’tiv’na z’go’dba… the collective story. It is a meeting of our souls on an intimate mindscape…” he squeezed her hand. “I have…” he gasped. “…never shared with anyone but my people before.”

“I am the first?” Bella was surprised.

“Yes,” he stroked the back of her hand with his fingers tenderly. “You are my first… Bella… in everything…”

“Everything?” she quirked a brow, wondering what he meant.

“Yes…everything…” he whispered.

He lowered his head, though not in shame – in awe and wonder of her. She could sense it. She felt honored, a lump forming in her throat.

“Tell me of your planet,” she said, feeling uncomfortable by the sudden prospect of their joining. “Is it really that beautiful?”

“More so,” Emit replied, pointing into the night sky. “Do you see that star up there?”

She nodded.

“Now look over to the far right… in that general direction… that is where home is,” he said. “The colors are more vibrant than you can imagine with blue ice mountains and grape colored sandy beaches and hot springs… the shade of your…” he tenderly stroked her face. “… blushing cheeks, my love.”

As if on cue, she flushed.

“We have forgotten our roots,” he said sadly, turning his face away. “…the reasons for our existence… the meaning has become twisted to further agendas of the queens. That is why I left. I could not be happy even in such a stunning environment. The people are my home, and the planet will only be destroyed because of our greed for resources. We neglect the land in favor of harvesting humans… in hopes of achieving immortality.”

Bella tilted her head in his direction. “It is not your fault, Emit.”

“No I shall bear the sins of my people equally…” Emit cleared his throat. “For that I am certain.”

“Let’s talk about something more pleasant, shall we?” she snuggled close, linking arms. “Like… how did you end up out here in Champs les Sims?”

“I told you. I could sense your distress,” he frowned.

“No, in this field…” she swept her arm around. “With these horses and with that…” her eyes bugged. “…is that a unicorn?”

Emit chuckled. “A rog’konja from my world… a horned horse… yes…she follows me.”

“She’s beautiful…” Bella breathed, and lifted her hand in its direction. “May I?”

“Of course.”

Emit helped Bella to her feet, and they approached the white steed with the twisted golden horn in the center of its forehead. Bella slowed her pace, though her heart beat wildly, as she beckoned the shimmering creature. Bubbles of golden light popped in the air around her, an effect of the creature’s magic, Emit explained. She smiled as the horse nickered and nuzzled her hand before prancing away almost shyly.

“That was…” Bella began slowly, and then she laughed and breathed heavily simultaneously. “…amazing! You have unicorns on your world!”

“Yes,” Emit replied. “We do. This creature is named Čas.”

Čas?” she repeated. “Like the C sounds like the ‘c’ ‘h’ in chocolate.”

“Yes,” he murmured.

“So almost like chas?” she remarked.

“It sounds similar, but the word would translate differently into your language… um…” he rubbed the back of his head. “Almost like a ‘k’ sound.”

“So kas?” she tried. “What does it mean in your language?”

“I suppose… like kas… it means something that is hard to describe in your wording…” he puzzled. “I shall try…” he paused. “…something like ‘purest representation of time‘ with time like a stream of water flowing endlessly from one end of the universe to the other and back.”

“Like pure time?”

“Like time that is unmoving.”

“Like frozen timetime…” she stepped closer to him, her heart beating frantically as she reached her arms around his body. “…standing still?”

Their lips met in glorious union. Bella found his heart beating in unison with home, with the same erratic skips like a record player that longed to replay a perfect note over and over and over again. Somehow she lost all track of time in that moment… as if time literally stood still, the snow endlessly falling, their souls colliding in space. The breaking of dawn was the only thing that could pull her from Emit’s arms. Soft hints of daylight shattered across the split sky and the stars began to dissolve into the night. 

“Like time standing still,” he said hoarsely.

“Have we kissed for the whole night?” she asked, befuddled, her forehead creasing between her eyebrows, almost annoyed at the arrival of morning.

“Does the passing of time matter to you, Maribella?” he asked.

His words were simple and soft. They lacked judgment, but they were full of emotion, especially on the mention of her full name. When Mortimer said it, she felt his dissatisfaction with her. When Emit said it, she felt his delight in her. Bella took his hand and led him into his small tent beside the lake. She removed each one of their layers with care until they both lay bare before one another. She placed her hand on the center of his chest, and returned to his lips.

“This first time…” he said between her kisses. “…it should not be… here… in a tent… in the middle… of a forgotten… field.”

“Shh,” she laid a finger across his mouth. “This is magical. I could not ask for more.”

They surrendered to their passions, engulfed in the intoxicating spell of wintry bliss, the two souls finally arriving fully in Častime standing still.


Author Note: I am super delighted to present this chapter to you. I have been waiting for this moment forever… and I imagine some of you have also. I knew I wanted Emit and Bella to be together in winter given his love of the cold, but I never expected this chapter to turn out as well as it did. As you well know, there’s a lot packed in here so let me unpack some things. 

If you recall back to the chapter, Breathless, Mortimer nearly drowned because he was trying to rescue his watch. He left this as a gift to Bella in their hotel room, and so when she tosses it aside at the bell tower, there’s a whole lot of intended and punctuated meaning there… she’s come full circle. 

Emit and his people are powerful telepaths. For all my intimate scenes, I like to pick a theme. For Emit and Bella, it was winter. She shared memories of her times at the beach for winter bonfires in Pleasantview and he shared a moment from his home planet during a winter dance. The aliens in the Sims always seemed bee-like to me – their eyes, the queens, the drones, the “hive mentality,” etc. so I based the “dance” Emit shared with Bella on a buzzing bee waggle dance, which includes figure-eight motions, though I imagine their dance to be more fluid and human-like. 

I found the song ‘The Longing’ Storm Seeker awhile back, and wanted to include it in the story, and this was the perfect moment. The song includes an instrument known as a hurdy-gurdy or a wheel fiddle. I liked the buzzing and humming sounds, again with the bee imagery, and also this song is just wicked cool. For the lyrics to the song, you can read here. The line about the ‘alien tongue she didn’t recognize’ is a little humor by me… English… alien tongue to the Sims. Haha! [FYI, as an aside, if you want to hear more songs on my Simspiration playlist and the stories that accompany them, click here].

Emit’s language, or mother tongue, is based on Slovenian. I’ve added a few apostrophes and changed a few letters to make it more alien-esque. I am not a native speaker by any means so this is solely Google Translate and my imagination combined. It is my intention to try and remain as respectful as possible so forgive me if I got some words wrong.

For the record, in game, several things happened to inspire the happenings of the last few chapters. I had always planned for “this” – Bella and Emit to be together – but it worked out in game too. First of all, thanks to NRAAS Traveler Mod, I had visitors in Champs les Sims. Bella carried on romantic interest with both Emit and Mortimer autonomously. Also, Dina Caliente was one of those visitors, and Mortimer carried on romantic interactions with both Bella and Dina autonomously. Mortimer also decided to return home early… which I think was the result of a glitch. I panicked momentarily, backed out of the game, and re-loaded, sending Bella home and Mortimer was there. Then I sent Bella back to Champs les Sims alone, and the events of this chapter… transpired… autonomously. 

I’ve been wanting to write about unicorns and why they exist, and this scene in Champs les Sims couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. And the name… yes… packed with so much meaning. Čas is the Slovenian word for time. I added the whole interpretation of “pure time that is unmoving.” It is a “fictional” word after all. The Č is actually pronounced like the “ch” of chocolate if I am correct, but for the sake of the story, Emit explains that it would be pronounced differently in Simlish – with a ‘k’ sound… so ‘kas.’ The name ‘Kass,’ by the way, means “pure” in Greek and is an alternative of Catherine/Katherine. I’ll say no more. 😉

For all of you whose minds are exploding about now… you’re welcome! 😀 Hope you enjoyed. 

Newlywed Years, Episode 38, The Choice (LVB)

Author Note: I updated this chapter because it wasn’t actually the finalized version when I published. Please refresh this post in  your reader and/or browser you ensure the latest updated version. 

When Bella returned to her hotel suite, she found Mortimer in his room, packing his suitcase. He lifted his head when he saw her, and immediately walked to her side. Bella pulled back in shock.

“Let me stop you… before you say, I love you, and wish me a good night, Mortimer,” she said coolly.

“Okay,” he seemed to ponder her statement for a moment, dropping her hand. “I suppose I deserve that.”

He returned to his suitcase and began neatly folding his boxers and socks to lay across the top.

“I’ve concluded my business in La Ville Lumière,” he continued, his eyes focused on his task. “I procured the name of a marriage therapist from a colleague of mine. The man comes highly recommended and he specializes in couples with our kind of case.”

“Might this colleague be your mistress?” Bella sneered.

“No,” Mortimer said quietly, almost hesitantly as he met her gaze, his eyes saddened.

Bella couldn’t tell if he was serious.

“What kind of cases?” she examined her nails, trying to remain aloof.

“The kind where husbands and wives remain married but keep additional individuals on the side,” Mortimer replied. “On occasion…” he added hurriedly. “…when things grow dull in the marriage, but wish to recover from an affair.”

Bella’s jaw dropped as she nearly lost her balance, and wildly grabbed for the dresser to steady herself.

“I cannot tolerate that woman forever, Mortimer Goth,” she spat.

“I did not say you should, my sweet,” Mortimer said, rushing to her side, grabbing the side of her face, and kissing her forehead, shocking her even more so. “You are my wife, and I do love you, whether you choose to believe that or not. I am ready to commit once again and be faithful to only you, my darling.”

Bella felt physical pain in her chest, and swallowed hard to keep from bursting into tears. “It doesn’t work like that, Mortimer. You can’t go off on a vacation… our second honeymoon…” she slammed her fist into the dresser. “…for that matter, and live wild and free only to come home with no consequences.”

“Isn’t that what a vacation is supposed to be? Time to vacate your life… what you would normally do?” he quirked a brow as he returned to folding. “I won’t see Dina again. I fired her.”

“No!” she exclaimed. “And she’s okay with that? I’m not concerned… with her employment. I’m concerned about her attachment to you…” she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“You are no saint, Bella. Stop acting all high and mighty,” Mortimer grunted, slamming the lid of his suitcase. “You have certain attachments too. I know you have those secret dinners every night with that blue-haired friend of yours.”

“They are not secret,” she retorted. “And we are not having an affair.”

Mortimer walked over to Bella, stopping inches from her face, his expression simultaneously serious and amused. He tipped her chin.

“Oh but you want to.”

Bella pulled out of his grasp in disgust. Mortimer turned his back, walking away in a nearly triumphant saunter to their shared living room.

“I’m no fool, Bella.”

She caught her breath.

“I am flying out tonight on the red eye. Your tickets…” he nodded over to the coffee table. “…are there… for tomorrow. I arranged for Jennifer and John to bring the children to Pleasantview at your parents. I will be heading to Sunset Valley. You can join me in six weeks if you like in time for Passover.”

Bella’s mouth dropped open in surprise. She had expected to leave tomorrow with Mortimer, retrieve the children in Simbernia, and then return to their home together.

“Yes, you heard me,” he continued, plucking his coat from the hook. “I want you to think long and hard about what you want, Maribella Goth. Stay with your parents. Stay in a hotel. Stay here. I don’t care. I just want to think about what you want.”

If you choose to join me in the six weeks time, I will assume you want to be with me and…” he began buttoning his coat. “…only me. I will go to counseling. We will do whatever it takes to make this marriage work. I am committed…” he dropped his hands and walked to her side once more, caressing her cheek. “I love you, Bella.”

Her eyes filled with tears. “Then you wouldn’t send me away!”

“I’m not sending you away, my rose,” he shook his head. “I am merely giving you the time and space you need to decide what you want. What you really want. I do not blame you if you pick him. If you don’t come home to Sunset Valley, as that will be our new home…” he emphasized his last words. “…then I will assume you have chosen another. I won’t stand in your way. I will give you a divorce.”

What was he saying? she clutched the sides of her head.

“You can even take Cassandra,” he added, and his eyes narrowed as if to emphasize his point. “But you will concede Alexander to me. He is our heir. I will not have you raise him… without me.”

“Bbb…but…” she blubbered.

“There are no but’s, Bella,” Mortimer said firmly. “I spoke with my lawyer, and he believes I have a solid case. I would not fight me, Bella. I’m offering you the world. You can go anywhere. Do anything. Keep the money. All of it. Take a lover. Don’t take a lover. It makes no difference to me. I have all the paperwork written up over there. You can examine it. Have your lawyer look at it. I’ll give you everything, either way. If only you leave me Alexander,” he sighed “…no additional strings… I promise. Bella, I just want you to be happy.”

“Oh and this is supposed to make me happy?” she wailed.

“No, this is supposed to make you understand how much I really love you,” Mortimer replied, laying a kiss on the bewildered Bella.

She felt the passion roaring in her ears. She could feel her body craving his touch. She could sense herself wanting him to stay. Wanting him to forget everything. But could she forget… and more importantly, forgive everything?

“Because I’ll even let you go…that’s how much I love you,” his voice vibrated with emotion as he gripped her arms. “I know I don’t deserve you. You don’t deserve this at all. And Bella, I am so so sorry for breaking your trust.”

The tears fell faster. Bella wished things were somehow different between them, that this whole fiasco had never happened. But he was abandoning her.  He betrayed her… then abandoned her.

“I know you love him too, don’t you?”

She hiccuped, feeling so torn as she brought her fingers to her lips.

“But oh…” he leaned his cheek against her own. “…how I wish you’d chose me.”

With those final words, Mortimer picked up his suitcase, grabbed his briefcase, and walked out of the suite, and possibly even out of her life…

…if she could ever make such an impossible choice.

 

Newlywed Years, Episode 37, Finding Happiness (LVB)

True to his word, Emit visited every night, but he never pressured her for more. He understood her need to grieve, even if he was still growing learning of Sim customs of marriage, love, and cheating. Bella had decided to stay. She decided she couldn’t face her family yet with the news. She couldn’t tell her precious babies that their father shared a bed with someone else. Well, at least he was Alexander’s father.

Bella found herself wildly speculating and imagining a different life for herself. What if she had stayed with Malcolm? She had cared for that man once too, though not as deeply as she cared for Emit, or grown to care for Mortimer. Malcolm was Cassandra’s father, though he was married to someone else too. Malcolm would have gladly carried on their affair if Bella had successfully blackmailed him. She may have been happy for awhile being a kept woman in the Simiribbean, but even that would have grown old.

She wondered what would be if she ran away with Emit like she planned. They could’ve been happy together. She knew it. She would have fallen in love with him, free of entanglements, if she had broken things off properly with Mortimer. Yet duty and honor prevailed. She married Mortimer that day, and regretted it immensely, then learned to live with it, then even grew to love Mortimer, all in the span of a few years. Was it possible she never really loved her husband? Bella clutched at the necklace around her throat. No, she loved him… or she wouldn’t feel so shitty about the truth of his affair.

Bella set some ground rules. They would remain married for the remainder of the trip. Mortimer would conduct his affairs elsewhere as he had been. Bella would get her own room, and Mortimer was not allowed to visit unless she invited him. He was not allowed to tell his family or hers about the affair, and she wouldn’t grant him a divorce until they sought counseling together in nationside when he concluded his business.

Mortimer agreed to her terms and surprised her with the second-to-last one. He didn’t want a divorce, and refused to grant her one. Legally, he still viewed their marriage binding, and he only wanted to keep Dina on the side for fun. He didn’t love her. Bella found it hard to believe he was sleeping with someone who made him happy, and yet he didn’t love her. Every day they met for a stoic and polite breakfast. Mortimer would kiss her on the cheek and say, “I love you,” almost robotically as he left for the capitol. Bella was starting to believe the word lost all meaning. If he loved her, he wouldn’t have sex with Dina. Period.

Bella changed her hairstyle. She bought her own fedora with a burgundy band. She shopped until she was exhausted. She tried new foods. She visited all the countryside sites. She drank the most expensive nectar. She spoke with her children every night via Sim-ype. She called her parents two times this week.

Deciding to do something more productive with her expense account, Bella decided to join the board of a worldwide philanthropic organization. Yet nothing made her happy. Nothing…

…except Emit.

Bella and Emit fell into a quaint pattern – an evening meal on the town square. Most nights, she would insist they sit outside even in the freezing temperatures. She knew Emit preferred the cold. His Xekzo body could only take so much heat.

Emit made her smile and laugh. He would sit across the table and be a sounding board, whatever her emotions of the night. He would listen… truly listen to everything she had to say. He would ask ridiculous questions that always made her giggle. And he always insisted on paying for their meal… with Simoleon coins, of course. Something about the actual tangible money made Bella feel special. It was different than waving around Mortimer’s plastic SIMSA.

“You still haven’t told me much about yourself,” Bella pointed in his direction.

“What do you wish to know? I once told you to ask me anything,” he replied.

“I remember,” she said, shyly, recalling the night months ago when she kissed him.

Ashamed, she wondered why she still wanted to kiss him.

“My entire being is yours, milady, not merely my lips,” he said quietly.

Bella slammed her fist on the table, flushing a shade of her sweater. “Emit, you can’t say stuff like that!”

Why do I feel so guilty for feeling this way? It’s not like the first time I cheated on Mortimer. And yet somehow this was different. Bella folded her arms across her chest. She was annoyed. Annoyed at the truth she finally recognized.

“What is it puzzling you?” Emit frowned. “Did I say something to upset you? Did I put my foot in my mouth?”

“Oh, you learned a euphemism,” Bella quirked a brow, taking a sip of her water bottle from her purse to hide her expression.

“Yes,” he made a face. “I would not wish to stick my foot in my mouth. Only babes can do that. Unless I be a contortionist.”

He lifted his hand to his lips and pouted. Bella tried not to smile. Sarcasm. He picked up on sarcasm. She wanted to fight her feelings for him. She really did. She couldn’t understand why. She couldn’t understand how. She would be perfectly justified in having an affair of her own. Emit would be willing. And yet she had a sobering realization tonight.

For months, no, a year, if she was being honest, she thought it was because she had some sort of duty and loyalty to Mortimer, and yet tonight… she gasped, her hand sliding from the bistro table, she knew differently. She felt this way, not out of fidelity to her husband, but because the man she loved, the man sitting across the table from her, deserved more. He deserved better than her.

“No I do not,” Emit whispered, lowering his gaze.

“You heard that?” she frowned.

He gave a single nod. “I am bound to you.”

“Emit, stop it!” she threw her hands in the air. “Give me one reason. One reason…why you don’t deserve better than me!”

“No, you stop it…” Emit lifted his hands, his tone expressing irritation. “Whatever it is… and listen to me. You are a beautiful, wonderful, funny, intelligent, talented, sexy woman, Bella. I love you. Nothing will change this. You are putting this immense pressure on yourself and holding yourself to this impossible standard, a standard in which your husband has already shattered. No, Bella… you deserve better.”

She gasped.

“You deserve better than Mortimer. You deserve better than Malcolm. You deserve better than me. And whomever you choose, will be the luckiest, most blessed man alive. Or even if you decline to choose any one of us, you will still be the incredible woman you are because you are more than any one relationship to a man and any one role in life, be it wife, lover, mother, actress, daughter… whatever and whomever you may be, Bella, you are special.”

Tears clogged Bella’s vision, and she wondered how in Simterra she was so lucky to enjoy the company of a man like Emit. She could hardly believe him.

“Believe my words, Bella,” he added.

She laughed wistfully, and wiped at her eyelids. He kept reading her mind. It was infuriating. And also endearing. Yet there was one thing he said tonight that was right. She would need to choose. And sooner rather than later.

 

 

Newlywed Years, Episode 36, Comfort (LVB)

Bella was ninety-nine percent certain Mortimer was having an affair. He even smelled like Nina when he returned to their hotel room late that afternoon. When she confronted him, dressed in a ridiculous evening gown, no less, he didn’t deny it. Instead, he merely shrugged and said there were things Bella just couldn’t give him, but he still loved her.

“You still love me?” Bella hooted. “That’s rich!”

“Bella, be reasonable,” he replied. “I know you have a lover. We’re both breaking contract here.”

“I don’t have a lover,” she wailed. “I’m not having an affair…” she stomped her foot as her voice cracked. “I chose you. You said you love me.”

“Yes, what does love have to do with sex?” he asked, nonchalantly.

Bella couldn’t figure out what bothered her more – the fact that he was open about his affair or the fact that he was so calm about being caught, or the fact that he accused her of doing the same thing. She may have kissed Emit before all this began. She may have said she wanted to run away with him. Yet the truth was, she hadn’t. And now she wondered why the hell not?

Flouncing into the bathroom, she drowned her sorrows in soap and champagne bubbles. These Simcois know how to make a good celebratory nectar, she thought as she sunk down into the bath water until everything but her nose and forehead were submerged. Mortimer was having an affair. He had breached the contract. She had legal rights and entitlements. She would call Lee first thing in the morning. She wondered if anything was true anymore, though a few calls to his office stateside and his contacts in Championne confirmed he was trying to secure financing for a firm of his own. She also discovered he had personally flown Dina over to the Sim Union, and that Dina had formerly worked as a desk jockey for the Pleasantview Dispatch before Mortimer hired the woman to be his personal assistant. I was right when I suspected he was having an affair all along… way back when I questioned where his wedding ring was.

Bella redressed in something more practical and went to grab her coat. She bumped Mortimer’s jacket and out of his inner pocket a selection of photo booth pictures slipped out, revealing Mortimer and his new main “squeeze.” She felt devastated as she saw the face of a former friend and classmate laughing and kissing her husband. She could even see the progression of the nervy woman stealing Mortimer’s black velvet fedora. I could look just as good in that hat as her, she thought jealously. Plucking the hat from its hook, she defiantly plopped it on her head.

“I’m going for a walk,” she said as she brushed past him out the door.

“See you later,” he replied coolly, as if saying goodbye to a practical stranger.

Bella walked around until sunset before returning to the hotel. She made up her mind to ask the desk attendant if they could have a bigger two bedroom suite, or better yet another room. She didn’t need to sleep in the same bed as Mortimer for any longer. In fact, she could book a flight to Simbernia, fetch her children, and return home.

If I had a home, she thought miserably, figuring the contractors had probably barely started on the work. She could go stay with her parents. She had no reason to stay her in Championne. Or so she thought. As she approached the front porch of the spa and resort, Bella felt a strange tingling sensation. A bright star-shaped light floated before her eyes. She smiled for the first time in twenty-four hours. What is this, she wondered. 

Suddenly, Emit emerged from the light bubble and morphed into his full-size shape before her. She took a step back startled.

“Wha….what are you doing here?” she ran a hand through her hair, forgetting she was wearing Mortimer’s hat as she knocked it from her head. “Oh…my….I must be imagining things? I had too much nectar in the tub.”

“I am not even going to ask,” he replied, fetching her hat from the ground and laying it on her head once more. “Hello Bella.”

“Wha…um…okay… how did…you…uh…get here?” she stammered.

“I am a time traveler if you recall,” Emit said. “I can manipulate time and space in emergency circumstances.”

“And this is an emergency?” she frowned.

Did he know? 

“I sensed a deep distress from you, milady. It was calling to me across oceans and space and time,” he said, and if she didn’t know him better, she would say he was being dramatic.

“There’s only one ocean between the Sim Nation and the Sim Union, Emit,” she sighed.

“Bella…” he forced her name out, his face contorting as he clenched and released his fists, appearing almost frustrated that he was exhibiting signs of frustration.

Bella could sense his emotions. He was sad and confused, and he had worried about her. She almost felt relieved, as if a cool breeze brushed across her face in the middle of a roaring hot Simgust day. Emit dropped his head in defeat. Somehow she knew he didn’t know how to say the words he wanted to say.

“Milady, you cannot say you are falling in love with me and then leave for Sim Union,” he protested. “Though I do not know why one would fall in love instead of merely be in love.”

Bella felt her heart melt. She was grateful to see a friendly face. She reached for his hands.

“Emit, it’s an expression,” she explained. “To fall…um… in love… is to… enter the…um…” she racked her brain for the right word.

“…process?” Emit filled in the blank.

“Yes, the process of love,” Bella exclaimed. “Emit… you can’t just read my mind like that.”

“Well, then, you cannot say you will enter a process of love with me, and then leave,” Emit continued, his eyes flooding with melancholy.

He looked at her with so much love. Bella could hardly contain her joy. She worried he could sense it. Of course he can, she thought in annoyance.

“Does my presence perturb you?” Emit inquired.

Bella almost giggled, covering her mouth and biting her lower lip. “You and your odd phrases.”

“Well?” he repeated. “Are my odd phrases and I perturbing you?”

“No, um… yes… I mean… no… oh Emit…” she collapsed against his chest. “I am so confused. I said I was falling in love with you and then the fire happened and…”

“I arrived at your place of residence as quickly as I could. I was terrified I lost you,” Emit interjected, running a hand through his hair, and patting her right shoulder blade awkwardly with his other hand. “And yet I knew I did not because I could still sense your life energy.”

“Because you’re bound to me?” she said, looking up at him in bewilderment.

“Yes.”

“And then Mortimer said he loved me. My abuelo had died. We came to the Sim Union to attend to his funeral.”

“I expected you to return.”

“I did too, but Mortimer wanted to come here.”

“Do you love him?”

His question was point blank, hitting her heart’s bulls-eye dead center. She paused, trying not to think too quickly. He could read her thoughts if she projected too loudly.

“I don’t know. Here we are surrounded by this sparkling light…” she waved her hands around. “…in Champs les Sims outside the hotel where my husband and I are supposed to be enjoying our second honeymoon…”

“What is a honeymoon?” he inquired.

She laid a hand across her heart. “It’s where a newly married couple goes on a vacation together to celebrate after their wedding.”

“And couples take these second honeymoons often?”

“Well, no… many don’t take them at all… we just… oh…Emit… I just discovered Mortimer is having an affair and then pouf! You appeared!”

“An affair?” he puzzled.

“He is with another woman. Intimately,” Bella bit her lower lip.

“Milady, I am greatly saddened by this news,” he said genuinely. “Should you wish it, I shall assist you however you like.”

“Thank you, Emit, I just don’t know…” Bella sighed. “I thought I loved him. I was just debating about things… whether I should leave Pleasantview like he wants and move to Califorsimia and whether I loved him more than I love you… or if I should leave him for you… and now that he’s with Dina…” her eyes pooled with tears. “Oh Emit! Am I being punished? I was with Malcolm in university while I was engaged to Mortimer, but this feels different…” she dropped her head. “This feels worse. We are married now. And he promised… he pro…mised…” her voice cracked.

Bella could feel the space between them vibrating with a strange and wondrous energy as she cried noiseless, heartbreaking tears. Emit stood silently, his hands stiffly at his sides and his face strangely stoic. She was too busy grieving to read his emotions or thoughts properly. The tears fell from her face to her sweater and then to the snow beneath their feet. She covered her mouth with her hands to muffle the escaping moan. This situation was too surreal. It hurt like hell that Mortimer had stabbed her in the back. This hurt worse than when he told her to break up with Emit the first time, and she knew it was because she had developed deep feelings for her husband. She had thought this trip would be the start of something new, and now she was more confused than ever.

“Milady, I can stay the night if you wish,” Emit said, his voice barely above a whisper.

She whipped her eyes to his own.

“…for comfort…nothing more…” Emit added quickly.

“You would stay?” she sobbed, and wiped her nose with the back of her hand.

“Aye, milady,” he nodded, and laid his gentle giant hands on her shoulder. “Whatever you need I am here.”

“Oh Emit,” she collapsed into his arms. “Thank you. I do… I do…love you…” she murmured into his jacket lapel. “But I just found out…about Mortimer.”

“I know you need time.”

“You do?”

“Take all the time you need, Bella.”

Newlywed Years, Episode 35, Romance (LVB)

Silence pounded in her ears. She couldn’t take it anymore. She would fill the silence with color… beautiful, glorious color, magnificent color, color she’d never dreamed of, color that birthed stories. Those stories would hold bitterness, anger, deception, and ugly truths, wild, blossoming romances, terrifying thrilling secrets, poignant tales of families searching for loved ones lost in the forests of futility. People would say she was fantastic. People would praise her works. Her brushstrokes would fly across the canvas and no longer would rooms be filled with empty silence, but they’d be filled with the echoes of genius and exceptional talent.

Bella paused in her reverie. Ah, who am I kidding? She’d never be a famous artist. She’d never even finished a single painting let alone a masterpiece. How was she, Bella Bachelor Goth, ever going to become a renowned artist of anything if she never completed anything she started? Exhaling an exasperated sigh, she dropped her arm limply at her side and laid her head against the easel in defeat.

“Is something wrong, dear?”

Her husband’s voice answered her audible annoyance. He was, as usual, monopolizing almost the entire bench. A nearby woman in her early forties kept continually complaining about back pain, and exaggerating her bending movements, but Mortimer didn’t seem to acknowledge. He sat with the same sensually cool confidence he always donned, but at the moment, he had lost his appeal and it left a sour taste.

They hadn’t been intimate since they arrived, mostly because he had been spending nearly every waking minute in La Ville Lumière, supposedly conducting business with associates in order to secure financing for his own firm. When he had arrived back at the resort, Bella had already engaged in a Paint’n’Chill class in the gardens, an evening under the winter stars with painting and nectar. And Bella did like a good nectar. She assumed when Mortimer arrived, and she was already tipsy and halfway to drunk, that he would simply give her the obligatory peck on the cheek and head inside for a shower and his nightly hot chocolate, but instead, he sat on the bench behind the class, clacking away on his laptop, hovering like a hawk, minus the fixed attention she wanted and deserved.

Bella shivered, tugging her scarf closer to her neck, wondering if her painting was remotely good. The teacher, in broken Simlish, explained the various concepts of their winter sky painting, but she had given up long ago and decided to try a vase of flowers instead and some kind of hummingbird. At least I think it’s a hummingbird flying to sip nectar from the flower. At the thought of sipping nectar, Bella reached for her wine glass and sloshed the liquid around.

“Never better,” she said in a deliberately sultry voice.

Mortimer didn’t even glance up as he replied, “I asked if something was wrong, not how you felt.”

Bella sighed, her shoulders slumped. He didn’t seem to care to pay attention to her, but he did feel the need to correct her in front of strangers. Ha, Bella thought miserably. I’d even take a smile in my direction on occasion. He hadn’t touched her once since he helped her from the their rental car four days ago when they visited the only restaurant in town, the Catania Café. Sure, he’d sleep beside her if he didn’t fall asleep on the couch with his accounting books to the droning sounds of late night Champion television. She was feeling neglected and bored, and another day cooped up at the resort, she was sure she’d go insane. She didn’t even have the inspiration to work on her music, and she didn’t have the focus to read through her scripts.

“Did you say something?” she tried aloofly.

Two can play this game, she thought to herself with an inner smirk.

“I just asked if you were all right,” Mortimer answered, letting his fingers rest on his keyboard.

“As if anything could be wrong,” Bella muttered sarcastically, continuing her blue brush strokes on the canvas.

He brought his leg up off the ground, balancing it across his knee, his dark eyes bearing some mild, tired annoyance.

“Why ever would anything be wrong?” she added.

“You grunted.”

“Hmm.” So did you. 

He didn’t say anything, but dropped his gaze back to the papers swirling beneath him, and once again, the only noises to be heard were his fingers pecking on the keyboard and her occasional guttural groans, sadly not for her, though she probably wouldn’t have dignified them with a response even if they were. She almost rolled her eyes, but decided to spare the juvenile tactics.

Her cell phone jingled in her pocket, and her heart almost somersaulted in relief.

“I’m going to take this,” she said, craning her neck to see Mortimer, but he merely grunted.

Bella?”

“Jennifer!” she was happy to hear the voice of her best friend. “Is everything okay? Are the…” she threw a glance at her husband, and exaggerated her next words. “…children alright?”

He didn’t even look up at the sound of her question, and she crunched her toe in the snow-covered grass in annoyance.

The children are fine. Healthy. John just put both Alexander to bed.” 

“Thank you again for watching them so Mortimer and I could get… a romantic vacation away,” Bella nearly gagged on her own sarcasm, but if Jennifer heard it, she ignored it.

How is Champs les Sims?” 

“Can I call you right back?”

Bella collected her painting, returned her wine glass to the dirty dish tub, thanked the instructor, and told Mortimer she was heading back to the room. The man’s face was illuminated by the glow of his laptop and he waved at her, but didn’t bother looking up. She couldn’t help but feel gypped… this was supposed to be their fresh start.

Bella trudged up the stairs to the second floor of the Cloud Nine Spa and Resort, and stuck her keys into the door of the Caramel Suite. Once the door was securely closed behind her, she let her shoulders drop and flopped on the bed. There was something about lying on the stomach on a bed that every girl found comforting even a twenty-three-year old.

“Thank God you called. I’m dying.”

The sounds of banging pots and pans, a tea kettle whistling, a childish voice yelling, and a familiar ‘Here’s lookin’ at you, kid‘ quote from the television set floated through the receiver. Bella smiled, instantly feeling warmed.

Hold on Bella. Casimblanca is on, the hot water’s done, and Cassandra is hitting ever metal object in the room with my wooden cooking spoon. It sounds like a war zone,” Jennifer said, sounding desperate.

“It sounds like heaven,” Bella rolled over onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. “I’m aching for good conversation even if I’m the only one doing the talking.”

Now doesn’t that…” Jennifer stopped mid-sentence to correct Bella’s daughter, and the other end of the line became muffled temporarily. “…doesn’t that defeat the purpose of conversation?”

“I just want to hear noise,” Bella twisted a piece of her hair around her fingertip. “It’s duller than whitewashed tombs here.”

What’s with the church talk?”

“I don’t know. It’s the only metaphor I could think of at the moment.”

What’s going on? I thought you and Mortimer were going to enjoy this month away, a second honeymoon… and well… you know…

Bella sighed again. “Me too,” she said, knowing exactly what her friend meant. “But Mr. Goth seems to be infatuated with his work and would rather have a relationship with the love seat than love me.”

It’s that bad?” Jennifer began, but was interrupted by more banging sounds.

She paused again to silence and scold Cassandra. Bella could hear John’s voice in the background say something along the lines of “time for bed, little lady.”

“I’m sorry to subject you to my children,” Bella apologized.

Don’t be,” Jennifer said softly, and Bella could practically hear her smile. “This is good practice for John and I, and he is in his element. He will make a wonderful father someday.”

Sadness pricked Bella’s heart, and she wondered if she would ever get a chance to see Mortimer be a good father.

“And we offered for your sakes, though it sounds like things are rough?” Jennifer continued.  

“Well I suppose it’s not all terrible. The spa here is fantastic, but I’ve seen more of the masseuse than I have Mortimer,” Bella grunted.

“I’m sorry,” Jennifer sounded genuinely sympathetic. “I thought the time away would do you both some good. You both needed the break badly, and we both know he hasn’t been responding to you much until recently. The vacation was supposed to help that.”

“Everything was great until he decided he wanted to move to Sunset Valley when we return nation side. I can’t believe he started this whole process of finding funding for his own firm without talking to me first. I didn’t realize this trip was a sham,” Bella groaned.

I’m so sorry, Bella,” Jennifer repeated.

“Now that I disagreed with him, he barely talks to me and when he does it’s help yourself to whatever’s in my wallet if I want to go shopping or hand me the remote; I want to check the stock market as if I’m interested in shopping or stocks!” Bella nearly wailed. “He won’t touch me. Last night it was a peck on the cheek and I’ll be to bed shortly, dear and he ended up catching winks on the couch. I mean, we’ve been married for over two years now and he’s barely noticed me. He’ll sleep in the same bed with me, but he turns over on his side, hogs the covers, and snores. What’s wrong with me, Jennifer? Am I not attractive enough?”

Oh now, don’t go down that road, Bella,” Jennifer interjected, her mothering tone appearing. “You are a beautiful young woman. Mortimer knows that. He’s just busy trying to provide for you and for your future together.”

“He’s always busy. And it doesn’t matter what I wear or if I take a little extra time on my makeup or pick out especially eye-catching jewelry, he never seems to notice, and frankly I just don’t care anymore,” Bella bemoaned.

Men are pretty ignorant when it comes to those things, Bella. Maybe you need to try something more bold,” Jennifer suggested.

“Like what?” Bella flopped onto her back and stared up at the ceiling.

I don’t know…” Jennifer hesitated, and lowered her voice. “Maybe wear something revealing to bed?”

“I could, but I doubt he’d notice even if I was in my birthday suite,” Bella draped an arm across her forehead. “I wish I didn’t come to Champs les Sims.”

Don’t say that,” Jennifer replied. “You just need to tell Mortimer the truth about how you feel, and be honest with yourself.”

“What are you saying?” Bella frowned.

Well, is there a reason why you don’t care anymore? Is it because things were easier when Mortimer was just always ignoring you?” Jennifer asked.

Bella narrowed her eyes. It was easier when they gave each other the cold shoulder. Mortimer rescued her from a fire in their home, said he loved her, swept her away to Sim Union, stayed with her through her abuelo’s funeral, whisked her away to Championne, and romanced her for all of three days before suddenly losing interest again. Was it because she said she didn’t want to move to Sunset Valley? A good wife would properly support her husband’s career move, but she would need to give up her career and family and home to do so. A good husband wouldn’t keep a decision this big from his wife, she thought. They barely discussed things and then he went back to working and acting as if she wasn’t important. Does he really love me? Do I really love him? I think I do… after everything he has done for me. 

She thought of Emit. He loved her no matter what. He promised to protect her and be by her side irregardless of her marriage. He promised to back off if that’s what she wanted, but he also promised and offered her more love and attention, devotion and passion than Mortimer ever had… and she doubted could. Still, as a married woman and a mother, she couldn’t simply abandon her husband and children, and so Emit would always be a friend. And yet, if she was completely honest with herself, she craved more. Was it possible to be in love with two very different men at the same time?

Bella, are you still there?”

“Um… yeah… sorry… I…” she trailed off. “I should go. It’s late.”

Okay, chin up, dear. Try to talk to him and tell him how you feel,” Jennifer said. “Love ya.

“Love ya too.”

Mortimer returned to the room shortly after her call ended. He acknowledged her, brushed his teeth in the bathroom, and climbed into bed. Bella was hurt. He didn’t even kiss her good night. As she lay on the bed, clutching the covers, she feared that his love for her was just a phase. After attempting to sleep, she propelled herself out of bed. For most of the night, Bella paced back and forth in her hotel room, mentally weighing the pros and cons of loving Mortimer… and Emit. Mortimer’s list far outweighed Emit’s by the mere fact that it had the most logical reasons on it, and yet, Bella felt ready to burst into tears thinking about sacrificing her happiness over and over again for Mortimer – for his career, his reputation, his loyalty, and his life. She felt physically nauseous thinking of moving away from her family… and most importantly, Emit. And yet she knew her duty. She was stuck in this marriage to Mortimer, and she had made her choice. Was it too late for happiness?

Bella forced herself to smile. She would discuss things with Mortimer. She would tell him how she felt, though maybe she’d leave out her feelings for Emit. She would be honest with him about why she didn’t want to leave Pleasantview… at least not yet. Plopping on the edge of the bed, she picked up the room receiver and dialed the front desk. Her call was transferred to the spa, and she made her request. After she was certain all of her needs would be met, Bella hopped in the shower, rinsing the sweat of anxiety from her body. She pulled back her hair so she would look older. Mortimer liked it when she wore her hair off her face as she didn’t look quite so youthful. She freshened her makeup. She spritzed on Mortimer’s favorite scent – a rosewood perfume. Then she headed to the front desk to pick up the final touch – an item on loan for the day from a jeweler in La Ville Lumière. When the shop opened for the day, she planned to call and request a replica. Mortimer would love to take the item home, and she couldn’t think of a better token of her affection.

Arriving at the gated outdoor sauna, Bella was pleased to see the champagne bucket already chilling on ice, the rose petals lined to the hot tub steps, and the candles flickering in their lanterns atop the fence. She squeezed the jeweler’s box in her hand, convincing her wildly beating heart to calm as she figured she was making the right decision. Mortimer would be beyond pleased. Bella decided to add to the moment, stripping out of her clothes despite the chill in the morning air. It would be worth it to see Mortimer’s surprised face. She snagged a cotton towel from the stack on the cart, wrapping it around herself for warmth and decency, just in case there were some early morning peepers. Everything was perfect, she decided. It was Valensim’s Day after all.

She waited… the first hints of pink splashed across the sky, and the stars faded from view. She waited… the birds began chirping, serenading her with their morning songs. She waited… the sun rose higher in the sky, warming her freezing body. Bella frowned. Where was Mortimer?

This was supposed to be a romantic sunrise proposal. She was supposed to say her words, and make a request that they renew their vows. She had even procured one of the most expensive watches – the Simlex GMT Master – 18K yellow gold – a symbol of how proud she was of him, and how she would forgive him for keeping the financing part of their trip a secret, and how she would move with him to Sunset Valley, if only he loved her as much as he claimed. She planned to have the watch engraved with the date they met and the day that they would renew their vows, which she hoped would be here in Championne in a few days. They would kiss, clink champagne flutes, and skinny dip in the sauna she had privately reserved for the next few hours. The hotel had been so accommodating.

Yet Mortimer hadn’t appeared. She worried he didn’t get her message. She dialed the front desk, and asked if they delivered the message to the right room and the right person. The attendant assured her they had. She even called the bellboy who delivered the message to confirm. Bella wrapped herself in a robe, and walked to the front desk to confirm directly with the messenger. He looked nervous as she approached.

“And he accepted the message directly?”

“Monsieur Goth took the card directly from my hand, Madame,” he said, averting his eyes and nervously twitching.

“What aren’t you telling me?” Bella demanded. “I want to know.”

“My Simlish…” he winced and glanced at the attendant, speaking rapid-fire Simcois. “…is bad… bonne journée, Madame,” he tipped his hat.

“No, don’t good day me,” Bella said, irritated. “I went to great lengths to set this up. What happened?”

“Me thinks… my eyes…” he swallowed hard.

Bella glared fiercely.

He looked helpless as he glanced at the desk attendant, frowning as he chattered in a foreign tongue. The desk attendant flushed as she understood what he said, and dismissed him, much to the young man’s relief. The woman looked at Bella awkwardly.

“What did he say? Tell me.” Bella urged.

“He thinks his eyes might be playing tricks on him,” the hotel clerk began uncomfortably. “Madame…” she lowered her voice. “He claims there was a… uh… a woman in a… um…the room with him…” 

Bella flushed hotly.

“…they were dressed, and leaving together, and she… um… the blonde…kissed the man passionately, Madame,” the woman looked embarrassed and quickly rushed an apology, “Je suis vraiment désolé...”

Bella stormed up the stairs, moving so quickly that she gasped as she grabbed the second to last stair to regain her balance. She was mortified. The bellhop saw her husband with another woman, dressed indecently, in their hotel suite. And now the front desk clerk knew as well. She wiped the drip of saliva and bile from her lip, and willed herself forward. Storming into the suite, she half-expected to catch Mortimer with his little love affair. Instead, she found a handwritten note on the bed, along with his credit card.

My darling rose, I need to attend to business in La Ville Lumière that takes precedence over your plans. Please have the hotel charge this card for the expenses incurred. Pamper yourself with a shopping day in the village as an apology gift from me.

The letter was signed… M.F. Goth.The handwriting didn’t match what she knew Mortimer’s signature pen strokes to be. Maybe she was paranoid, but as she lifted the letter to her face to make sure she read everything right, she caught a whiff of an familiar scent – an earthy cedar perfume. Dina Caliente! 

Bella let the paper slip from her fingertips, and it fluttered to the floor as she processed her shock. Dina wrote the note for him. He couldn’t even be bothered to write his own letter to his wife when he was clearly cheating on her. Then the rage hit, and she reached over and smashed the first breakable item she could find – an antique blue-and-white porcelain vase. He lied to her. He cheated on her. He was cheating on her. And here she was thinking something was wrong with her… that she needed to get over herself and out of her own way and they could be happy. She could sacrifice her career and her family and her home for him, and he could continue on his merry way, bedding two women at once. Then the despair hit, and she hit the bed repeatedly with her arms as she sobbed hysterically, sliding to the floor. This. Can’t. Be. Happening. How could he say he loved her?

Bella stomped out to the outdoor sauna. She kicked all the rose petals away and blew out all the candles. She grabbed the champagne bottle and nearly chucked it into the water, and then she decided against it, popping the cork, and taking a huge swig. She started laughing. She laughed and laughed, until her sides ached. She splashed half the bottle of champagne over her mascara-and-tear stained cheeks and then drank the other half. She didn’t even care.

Then she plopped into the hot tub, towel and all, letting the bottle roll away beneath the deck chairs. She was going to enjoy every millisecond of this romantic surprise she had for Mortimer. Then she would go back to the room and order all the room service her heart desired, and then head into the capitol city and buy the most expensive dress and jewelry she could find for when she confronted Mortimer about his little affair. After all, he was paying for it.

1.15 Third Wheel (ALOW)

“These watermelon mojitos…” Jenara began, taking a sip of her drink.

“…are amazing,” Gar finished her statement.

They shared a happy look. So far the evening was going well. They chose to sit at the bar and enjoy a beverage together while waiting for Dennis to show. They joked around, laughed, and talked about everything from the time Gar’s home remedy for aphids to Jenara’s slight obsession with the Justice League and the weather. Of course, the weather was a safe topic. Jenara figured you couldn’t go wrong with sunshine and clouds.

“Do you like spinach?” he asked.

“Why do I have some in my teeth?” Jenara covered her mouth, self-consciously.

“Oh no,” he reached out and pulled her hand. “You have nothing in your teeth. Why did you think you did?” he laughed.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Jenara replied. “I guess… spinach gets caught in my teeth easily.”

“Then no spinach-wrapped burritos for you tonight,” he smiled.

“Oh I like spinach, but my teeth don’t,” she added. “You recommend the veggie burrito?”

“Yeah, it’s good,” he nodded, leaning over the counter to flag the bartender.

Jenara glanced about, wondering about their dining companion. “I wonder where Dennis is.”

“Hey hi,” a woman in a brightly orange, lace-lined tank top and a full tattooed sleeve plopped onto a bar stool and waved. “I’m Alice. Dennis is my father.”

“Oh, um… hi…” Jenara said, stiffly, taken aback by the attractive dark-haired woman.

“Hello,” Gar said politely. “Alice, it is a pleasure to meet you.”

He stretched out his hand and bowed his head slightly as a sign of respect.

“You know your Simorean traditions,” Alice remarked. “I’m impressed.”

“Ah, yes, I spent some time studying the flora in Southern Simina as an undergrad,” he explained.

Jenara blinked. You learn something new every day. She didn’t realize Gar had traveled outside the country, and she hadn’t thought to ask him what he studied in college. She could’ve kicked herself now, realizing she hadn’t been showing him enough interest. Alice continued to ramble about how much she loved nature, and how fascinating it was that Gar was a PlantSim. She explained how she was a painter, and she only painted living things, particularly plants and flowers, and she felt that was her way of giving back to the grand universe. When she stretched her arms, she showed off even more of her tattoos. Jenara felt uncomfortable, as she knew little to nothing about painting, and she felt she had very little skills about which she could brag. Alice finally asked Gar if he would be willing to sit for a portrait sometime, as she would “love” to add a “PlantSim specimen” to her collection. Sure you would, Jenara thought sarcastically.

“Where is…uh… Dennis?” she asked, laying a hand across Gar’s arm subtly.

Alice took note as she glanced down, but then smiled. “He’s on his way. He was just parking the car. Valet around here is pricey.”

“Tell me about it,” Gar chuckled.

Great! Jenara thought. I’m a horrible first date because I didn’t ask him the kinds of questions I should…and… I took him to an expensive restaurant. 

“Excuse me, I’ll go powder my nose,” Alice slid from her seat. “You wanna come?” she looked at Jenara, who shook her head. “Okay, just thought I’d ask. Dad should be in momentarily.”

Gar reached over, and gave Jenara’s hand a reassuring pat. “I came here with you tonight.”

Jenara flushed, and smiled. He knew? 

“Jenara?”

She turned her head to see J, the guy who had attended her party at the beginning of the summer for the PlantSims. He was wearing the same powder blue sweater tossed over his shoulders and tied loosely around his neck. Jenara thought it made him look like a prep school grad ready for the beach, but the ocean was a long way from Oasis Springs.

“Hey, it’s good to see you,” J said with punchy enthusiasm.

Jenara stepped down off her bar stool, and Gar stood up next to her.

“This is Garbanzo Hawthorne…” she introduced. “And this is J Huntington the Third.”

“The Third?” Gar repeated, shaking the man’s hand. “You can call me Gar, J.”

“Thanks, and yeah, dad and grandad had my name,” J said, proudly. “Grandad was one of the first guys to blast off into space when they relaunched the space program and expansion, and Dad was started his own company. You may know of the Huntington Post?”

“The news site?” Jenara asked, her eyes widening. “Yeah, I know it. I used to read it every morning when I was in college. I liked the dedicated geek culture section.”

“Oh yeah, the Hunt Post offers all sorts of stuff. Did you see Tuesday’s article about how obsessed everyone is with the new mobile games?” J asked. “And how they are the ultimate stress reliever.”

“Yeah, I kill at Question Quash,” Jenara fist-bumped J, to which he replied, “I must challenge you sometime, then.”

“Isn’t it just an opinion site with gossip more so than news?” Gar said, sounding almost unimpressed.

“No… it’s a legit new site,” J said defensively, but his voice wavered. “Why? Do you dislike gossip?”

“Yeah, sure,” Gar shrugged.

“Gossip is our bread and butter,” J spread his arms and smiled.

“Well, that’s Dennis,” Jenara stepped between the men, and tugged Gar’s arm. “We’ve got dinner plans. Nice to see you, J.”

“Nice to see you too, Jenara. Come by the office sometime. I’ll get my dad to autograph an edition for you,” J smiled suavely.

“That would be…” Jenara could feel Gar tightening his grip. “…nice… thanks.”

As she walked over to the table with Dennis and Alice, she could sense Gar was starting to relax. Now he knows how I felt… She looked up at him and smiled sweetly, whispering in his ear, “I came here with you.”


Simorea is my Simworld version of South Korea. Simina is my Simworld version of Asia. The Huntington Post is a play on the Huffington Post. Question Quash is a random game I made up. Hope you enjoyed!

Previous Chapter: 1.14 It’s a Date 

Newlywed Years, Episode 34, Revelation (LVB)

“Might I join you, my rose?”

Bella glanced up at her husband from the quiet corner table in the dining room of the Cloud Nine Spa and Resort. She was too hungry to wait a moment longer for Mortimer. He had traveled to La Ville Lumière, the nearby city and capital of Championne, for work. She still wasn’t quite sure what kind of business he had in Championne, but she tried not to let the secrecy bother her. She spent the day relaxing at the spa trying a revitalizing mud bath, a sauna steam, a dip in the hot tub, and a hot stone massage. Post her spa-afternoon, she spent time reading in the front lounge, and then wandered through the gardens on the grounds, stopping to play a game of Gnubb with strangers.

Twice Mortimer had called and said he was on his way. Twice he had to turn around because of something he had forgotten to do. She had ordered room service – a cheese and fruit plate around ten o’clock at night. Finally at one-fifteen, she was starving and went to order food before the kitchen closed for the night at two a.m. For all the times she heard that Sim Unionites like to eat late, there wasn’t anyone else in the restaurant save the maître d’ and the pianist. Bella ordered a plate of omelette aux champignons after settling at a candlelit table and listened to the sleepy tunes of Claude Debsimssy. Mortimer finally arrived in the Café Céleste after she ate three bites with a cup of hot chocolate he claimed he had procured in the front lounge.

“I can get you a cup,” he offered, sitting down across the table. “The hospitality staff seem to make it with heavy cream like you like.”

Bella made a face. Was he trying to win her over with chocolate? She shoved a bite in her mouth with her fork backwards. It might work, she thought, lingering on the prongs. No, I’m still mad. 

“Or I can ask them if they have something else,” he said softly.

“No, that’s fine,” she replied. “A glass of water from the kitchen is all I really need.”

Mortimer snapped his fingers, and the bored waiter, leaning on the edge of one of the other tables, quickly shuffled over in their direction. Mortimer ordered a glass of water for Bella with the fancy ice cubes. Bella resisted the urge to roll her eyes. He meant the ice cubes with the dried flower petals and herbs. It was a nice gesture, but unnecessary.

“I am sorry, my darling, I got caught up with work,” Mortimer apologized for the umpteenth time.

“And we missed our dinner reservation,” Bella said, narrowing her eyes.

“Yes, you are right. Forgive me,” he pressed his hands together.

“You haven’t actually ever taken me out on a date, Mortimer,” Bella fluffed her hair. “I got all dressed up for you too.”

“What? Never?” Mortimer gasped, and absently glanced at his watch.

“Am I keeping you?” she grunted.

“No, no,” he trailed off as if considering the right words. “I just thought maybe I’d check the Asimia stock market… but no…” he shook his head vigorously, setting his mug on the table, and reaching for her hands. “I’m here with you now. I can check when we go upstairs.”

“And just what business are you conducting here in Championne?” she inquired, tilting her head, wondering if he was up to the same-old tricks as home – working long hours, avoiding her at all costs, like two ships passing in the night… but this Mortimer seemed attentive and atoning.

“Well, I wanted to surprise you, Bella, but since you ask…” he smiled. “I am trying to open my own firm.”

“Really?” she quirked a brow.

“Yes, I am here to secure funding for my own private accounting firm. I already have a wonderful location picked out in Sunset Valley, and when the fire happened, it was like a sign… a sign that I should really move onto things I really want from life, and follow my dreams, and I want to open my own accounting firm,” Mortimer explained.

Bella set her fork and knife on the table. “Wait, Sunset Valley?”

“Well, Bella, it’s winter in Pleasantview, and the repairs needed for our house is extensive. I already spoke with my parents, and they mentioned we could move into the mansion with them temporarily in the Valley until I can find us a home. I pulled out a real estate catalog yesterday and I’ve been meaning to show you. There are some wonderful places with an excellent view of the Bay, and I know how much you enjoy swimming, darling.”

Mortimer rambled on, but Bella felt overwhelmed. Her chest tightened, and her throat grew dry and scratchy. Where was that waiter with her fancy water? she craned her neck.

“Are you listening, darling?”

“Yes,” she replied, flustered. “No… I mean… Mortimer, I thought we decided to raise the children in Pleasantview,” she wailed. “I wanted to stay in Pleasantview. My career is there, and my parents are there.”

“But my parents are in Sunset Valley,” Mortimer frowned. “This is a big opportunity for me, Bella, and you can find work in Califorsimia. I’m certain any studio would take you.”

“That’s not the point,” Bella stomped her foot under the table, jostling Mortimer’s knee against the table on the other side.

He winced. “Bella, darling, be reasonable. There was always the possibility we’d move to Califorsimia… to Sunset Valley. I thought you liked it there.”

“But I love…” she choked back her emotions, covering her mouth. “…loved our home.”

And my plans to raise Cassandra and Alexander in Pleasantview, and my contract with Specific Hospital, and the thought of being close to my family… things were finally looking up with her parents, and she had never been closer to her brother, Michael. And then there was Lee, her attorney, and her friends. She didn’t want to lose Lee as her legal representative. He was a lifesaver, helping her through many, many difficulties. And Emit… Bella dropped her eyes, afraid Mortimer would sense she was thinking about her former lover. But he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. He didn’t have mildly telepathic powers as she did… or even empathic powers.

“While we’re here, I have the opportunity to secure financing from an overseas associate of mine. I can handle international finance accounts. This will mean buku bucks!” Mortimer made a triumphant fist before sipping his hot chocolate.

“We already have buku bucks,” she sighed.

“But not like this, my darling, trust me. You’ll see. This will be good for our family, Bella,” Mortimer assured.

Good for you, you mean, Bella thought in complete frustration.

Her dinner was ruined.

She wasn’t hungry anymore.