Uni Years, Episode 20, Question (LVB)

“You’re what?”

Malcolm stared at her in disbelief. Bella could hardly believe it herself when she returned from the doctor a few days ago. It explained her inexplicable desire to throw up all of her food, and the dizzying headaches she had been getting. She had originally chalked them up to stress.

“Yes, I’m pregnant,” she said.

“Are you sure it’s a hundred percent?” he asked weakly.

“Yes, I’m one hundred percent positively pregnant,” Bella grunted in frustration.

Malcolm collapsed on the couch, running his hands through his hair. Bella could tell he wasn’t happy. He was married now, and she was supposed to be getting married in a month. Bella couldn’t believe how badly she screwed up, but she remained resolved to avoid crying, and to stick to her plan.

“Are you sure it’s mine?” he whispered.

“Um… yeah… it takes two to make a baby, Malcolm, and we were having quite a romp in Rio de Simnero,” she said, annoyance creeping into her tone.

“But… but…but…” he blubbered, and then cleared his throat. “We were all pretty drunk, Bella.”

“I think I remember who I slept with,” she snapped.

“So you’re positive it’s mine and not Mortimer’s?” Malcolm asked, seriously.

“Mortimer wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole,” Bella sniffed.

“And not someone else’s?”

Bella furrowed her brow. “You could have a paternity test done, Malcolm, but by that time, I could be settled in Sunlit Tides after going to the papers.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” he gasped, leaping to his feet.

“I would,” Bella snapped, grabbing her abdomen.

This was her ticket to freedom. She would dare. She would dare with every fiber in her being. Malcolm stomped across the room and braced against the piano, seething with anger. She didn’t blame him, but the emotion would motivate him, she was sure of it. He swept his arm aside, knocking a marble dragon statue from its place on the top.

“Damn it, Bella!” he growled, and shook out his hand.

She resisted the urge to ask if he was okay, knowing it would only dampen her determination. She couldn’t afford to feel right now.

“Gah!” he yelled. “My mother brought that back from Shang Simla. Do you have any idea what that costs?”

Bella hiked her chin in the air. “Malcolm, I would think you’d be more concerned about our baby than your precious statue right now.”

“It’s going to be impossible to replace this,” Malcolm exclaimed, as if unable to focus on the bigger picture. “The dragons are one of a kind.”

“And our child is not?” Bella bit out, holding her hands over her stomach.

She promised herself she wouldn’t cry, but she felt the lump forming in her throat.

“No,” he said forcefully. “I mean, yes…” he shook his head in confusion. “Bella, I don’t know. Can you get rid of it?”

“Rid of it?” Bella repeated in an unnaturally high voice. “Like I’m carrying around a bag of trash?”

“Well, this is a grave predicament,” Malcolm said, his shoulders slumping forward as he calmed down. “I think it would be the best thing to do in your situation.”

“My situation!” Bella cried. “This is every bit yours as it is mine! It’s our situation frankly, and I don’t think killing this child is going to help.”

“We wouldn’t be killing it, just helping it leave,” Malcolm disagreed, shaking his head.

“Helping it leave? Ha!” she snorted.

“Bella, you aren’t in a state to be making wise decisions. . .” Malcolm began. “You came to me for help, didn’t you? For money? I’ll pay for it. You don’t have to worry about that.”

“And this is wise?” she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “And who says I’m not in a state to be making decisions? I’m the one carrying the baby. It’s my child. I have as every bit of right to make a decision concerning his or her future as anyone. And what if I don’t want to abort this child? What then Malcolm?”

“You can’t seriously be considering carrying this baby nine months?”

Bella stared at the ground in shock. It was in that moment she made up her mind to spite him in every way possible. If he wanted absolutely nothing to do with this baby, and her, she would leave and find another option. It was a mistake to come here.

“Bella,” he said quietly, then cursed under his breath. “What are you thinking? You’re ruining your future with Mortimer. And my future with Brittany. And you know I love you, and I’ll be with you if you want. But not like this. This is not in our future.”

“We don’t have a future,” she snapped, stepping around him. “Have a nice life Malcolm.”

Bella cried all the way back to Neighborly City. Twice, she barely had time to pull over to the side of the highway and open her door before throwing up. She stopped at a gas station and locked herself in the bathroom to change into more suitable clothes and to let the tears flow without worrying about causing an accident. Malcolm had come at her sideways. She should have expected that. He loved me. Ha! He only loved himself. It was all fun and games until a baby interrupted their plans.

Blackmailing him into letting her stay on his property in Sunlit Tides had been her last hope. With her insurmountable credit card debt and a burgeoning belly, Bella had no future. Mortimer would break up with her for sure, cancelling his generous scholarship and allowance. She wouldn’t be able to graduate and her parents would disown her. Without a way to pay her bills, she would be on the streets for certain. Was getting rid of the baby her only way of ensuring her survival?

Bella pulled up outside the Crumplebottom Estates, and was surprised to see the lights on inside. She saw John Burb’s car in the driveway and she realized they had returned from Dragon Valley. Jennifer had said she was planning to come back a month early to help Bella get ready for her own wedding, after all the help Bella had given her. Bella wasn’t sure she could face her friends yet. She wasn’t sure she could face anyone. She wasn’t showing yet, but she was at least six weeks along.  She pulled her car around back and slumped against the steering wheel. How had her life gotten so screwed up?

The tears flowed fast and free, and Bella choked as she tried to swipe them from her face, but she couldn’t keep up. Before she realized what she doing, she pulled out her cell phone and began dialing. Through blurry vision, she somehow managed to punch in the correct numbers.

“Please… come… please… come…” she begged. “I need you. I need you now more than ever.”

She let the phone slip from her fingers and fall into the abyss of her car. She wasn’t even certain she was still fully coherent, but she somehow managed to pull herself from her vehicle and began walking around the side of her house. As if he had been planning to meet her there all along, Emit appeared in her view. He pulled her into a deep embrace.

“I am here, milady, I am here,” he repeated. “I am here, Bella.”

He said my name?!? She blubbered into the sleeve of his yellow sweater until she had no drops of water left, until her emotions were raw, and her heart felt broken.

“Eh…mit…” she hiccuped. “You…you…ca…came…”

“Shh,” he lifted his hand and brushed a stray hair stuck to her tear-stained cheeks. “I came. I will always come when you need me.  I am here for you, milady.”

Despite her sadness, Bella laughed as she exhaled. He was still calling her by that blasted name. The wind picked up, caressing her cheeks, feeling good against her heated skin.

“It is okay that you dampened my sleeve,” he said softly.

“No, it’s not,” she shook her head, vehemently. “It’s not…”

“I meant, you deserve to cry,” Emit said gently.

“What?” she looked up at him, bewildered. “That’s a funny expression,” she cleared her throat and unzipped her jacket. “I’m surprised you came.”

“Oh Bella, I came. I came because you called me. I came because you said you needed me,” he replied. “What is wrong? I am here to serve, milady.”

“Emit…” she half-laughed and half-cried. “Are you still living with that silly notion that you are bound to me?”

Emit frowned as if surprised by her question. “You entered my space,” he said simply. “I am bound to you.”

“I entered your space?” she chuckled sadly, and puffed hair out of her eyes. “What does that even me?” she screeched, dropping her arms in despair.

“Milady?” he exclaimed, more as a question than a statement.

She fell to the ground, too weary to cry, and he caught her in his arms, to keep her from hitting her head on the exterior of the brick fireplace. He held her head and patted her hair tenderly as she shuddered tearless cries. She curled into his arms for comfort, longing for answers, wishing to undo the past. She wished she had never met Malcolm or Mortimer or made all the dumb decisions she had. She wished she had never come to Sim State University.

“No, you do not,” he said.

“Wha…?” she looked up at him, feeling aching emptiness as she stared into his face.

“You are happy you met me,” he remarked.

She sighed, and leaned her head back against his shoulder. “I am. But Emit… I’m in trouble.”

“I know,” he replied.

“You do?” she asked hoarsely.

“I do… Bella… I… did not want to pry…” he started, and chewed his lower lip. “Bella, milady… I am sorry. I am sorry with the pain I have caused you. What a fool I have been! I left you alone after that night, and I never tried to contact you again. And I know now that I have missed you. Try as I might, I cannot keep myself from you. I cannot keep you from my mind.”

“Thanks…” she snorted, and then covered her mouth, embarrassed. “I think…”

“I have not stopped thinking about you. I have not stopped wondering about you. I have not stopped trying to figure this life out without you. I cannot. I cannot be apart from you, Bella. I cannot. I have been a jerk and a fool,” he reached for her waist, and stopped when his hand touched her abdomen. “Bella!” he gasped, his eyes widening.

“I am… with child…” she confirmed, dropping her eyes, feeling terribly humiliated.

“Bella,” he lifted her chin. “Does the baby belong to the father,  Mortimer?”

“No,” she wailed, jerking free of his grasp as she pushed herself up off the ground. “It’s not his. He… hasn’t touched me. He’s barely seen me. I am marrying a complete stranger in less than five weeks and I’m pregnant with another man’s child.”

Bella hugged herself, waiting for Emit to run away, waiting for him to realize just how hopeless she was, and how much better off he would be somewhere else. Instead, she heard soft footfalls on the squishy grass, and felt his hand on her shoulder.

“I am bound to you, Bella,” he said slowly. “You asked what this means. It means that I will forever be at your side. Even if you should choose another, I will be there… as your protector and deval’le’ac.”

“My what?” Bella blinked rapidly.

“Milady,” he bowed his head. “I am your deval’le’ac… I will work by your side, fight by your side, and protect you. I will see to your needs. I will raise your child with you.”

“You will?” she blubbered, consumed with shock.

“And if you should so choose… I will be your prija’telj… your mate… I will be yours completely, milady. You have only to say the word,” Emit reached for her, and she tackled him with a hearty embrace.
“Oh Emit,” she cried.

“Bella, I have been thinking,” he began. “I have a question for you.”


Her reassuring tone was all he needed to continue. “Bella, will you marry me?”

“Will I what?” This was the second time today that she had been asked to do something outrageous, but Emit seemed as sincere as possible.

“Bella, do not marry Mortimer,” he said softly. “You need something more than stability in your life. You need someone now more than ever. I want to be that person. Please let me be that person.”

“I’m. . .I’m not the marrying kind,” she blinked. “The only reason I’m marrying Mortimer is because I’m being forced to. I’m a disaster, Emit. A walking, living, breathing disaster. And even if a guy other than Mortimer was foolish enough to want to marry me…I…I…”

“You what?” his lips brushed hers.

“Wouldn’t,” the words melted off her lips as Emit pulled her closer to him and enveloped her with a passionate kiss.

And try as she might, Bella couldn’t resist.


Uni Years, Episode 19, Desperate (LVB)

Fall morphed into winter. Bella’s spending continued to rage out of control. If there was a definition for shopaholic in the dictionary, Bella was certain her picture would be found next to it. For every dollar her parents sent, she spent double. For every gift Mortimer sent, she bought herself another. She filled her mind with schoolwork, and when she wasn’t studying, she distracted her mind on her soap opera work, and when she wasn’t working, she numbed her mind on magazine gossip about celebrities and dreamed she would one day be one. She filled her room with stuff – most of the time the exact opposite of something she had been given. If Mortimer sent a teddy bear, she bought a dragon. If he bought rose-scented candles, she bought skull candles. If he purchased a white dress, she purchased two black ones.

Christmas came, and Bella stood by the side of her best friend, Jennifer. Of course, being the maid of honor meant duties. She threw an expensive bridal shower and the best bachelorette party Jennifer could have ever dreamed of, and she purchased fancy bridal gifts. Jennifer deserved the best. Bella bought the most expensive spa packages for herself to prepare for the wedding day, and even treated herself to a vacation after seeing the new Mr. and Mrs. John Burb off at the airport, spontaneously purchasing tickets to Big Apple City for the new year to drown her sorrows in wine and bubble baths and kissing strangers in Clock Square after the countdown. Bella was living the life… but it was lonely, and she knew it. She just wanted to spend her last few months in freedom, but instead, she felt further and further enchained.

On the second of Simuary, Bella received the first notice. Then she received a second notice on Simbruary first, and more in Simarch, and the warning of collections. Her bills were stacking and she had no hope of paying them. Her salary as a movie extra, even if she had a small bit part here and there in Specific Hospital, wasn’t enough to cover her mounting credit card debt. Bella knew her parents would kill her if they found out, and she had no idea how Mortimer would react, but he wouldn’t be pleased. Bella asked her boss for an advance, but that only worked one time because she now owed him more than twice her normal salary.

Before the start of Passover season, Bella escaped to the Simardi Gras celebration in Rio de Simnero with the Caliente twins. She knew that jet-setting wasn’t the answer to filling the hole in her heart, and it certainly wasn’t helping her pocket book, but Bella couldn’t help it. She was addicted to the power she felt when she swiped her card, knowing that the money wasn’t coming from her parents or the Goths. Bella indulged in the frivolity, dancing through the streets with purple, gold, and green beads flapping around her neck, flashing random lucky guys who bounced by, and making out with others in the dim-lit corners of raucous bars. She didn’t care who she was with or what really happened because in her drunken sensuality she could abandon her life for a weekend.

As Bella pulled her coat closer to her body, she shivered as an icy blast of wind whipped at her skirt. She thought about taking up a job as a fry cook at the same restaurant her classmate, Nina worked, but the pay was peanuts and she wouldn’t get her paycheck for three weeks. She chatted with Kaylynn about subbing at the day care, but they needed her to pass a background check. Bella figured her drunkenly disorderly stint from freshman year, and public indecency from streaking during rush week sophomore year probably would count against her. She went to see Danny, but he was penny pinching, having just purchased a ring for his girlfriend, Mary-Sue Oldie. They had met at the wedding, and her parents were long-time friends of the Burb family. Bella had been shocked Daniel was getting engaged so soon after the loss of his lover, and his unintentional confession of love for her, but she congratulated him, and realized she was out of luck. She could only do the one thing she had been dreading.

She stood in the solarium beneath a swinging lace fern in a cranberry crepe de Chine gown with an ebony sash and snowflake trellis on the floor-length skirt. It was much too early for evening wear, but she wanted to make an impression – one that was serious, while still appealing. She had been asked by the housekeeper if she wished to keep her coat as the furnace had not been given a chance to heat the entirety of the large house this early in the morning. She shook her head, well aware this would dampen the effect of her sudden appearance. Her hair was perfectly curled, down from its usual position, and flowing free around her shoulders. Bella stared out at the late spring snow, her head tilted elegantly in the early morning light as she watched the flakes fall. The fifth of Simmay was much too late for snow, she puzzled. The housekeeper had instructed her to wait after she said it was urgent she see the master of the house.

When he arrived, he appeared significantly under-dressed in comparison, a brown plaid robe, open and untied, thrown over his black boxer shorts. He looked as though he carelessly dressed after the housekeeper roused him from sleep. He ran a hand through his tousled strawberry blonde locks, and grinned sheepishly.

“Well, I wasn’t expecting you,” he said.

“Mr. Landgrabb, I haven’t come here on a whim. I know you’re a busy man,” she spoke briskly.

Mr. Landgrabb?” he repeated, rubbing the back of his neck with a cheeky grin. “Why it’s good to see you too, Ms. Bachelor.”

She eluded his outstretched hand in greeting, and brushed past the keys of the upright piano, resuming her position staring out the window, her hands clasped behind her back.

“Oh, perhaps were you expecting a kiss?” Malcolm said, approaching behind her as he wrapped his arms around her waist. “I recall we’re quite good at kissing.”

Bella glared at the snow. “You did more than kiss me last time we were in Rio.”

Malcolm chuckled, pecking her cheek respectfully. “Is that what you came for?”

“No,” she shook her head vehemently. “Simardi Gras was a mistake.”

Malcolm exhaled heavily as he plopped on the brown couch across the room, interlocking his fingers behind his head. “Too bad… it was fun.”

Bella gritted her teeth and balled her fists before composing herself.

“I see you resumed the family trade in Pleasantview,” she remarked as she turned. “Business must be good. This house is nice.”

“You mean my mansion?” Malcolm winked. “Yeah, I suppose it’s big enough.”

“And Ms. Upsnott approves?” Bella said, and what she didn’t add was…of your ridiculous womanizing? 

Bella imagined she was not the only one Malcolm had entertained in his home, even after his Simuly wedding to Brittany last year.

He moved from his lounging position to a seated position. “Mrs. Landgrabb,” he corrected. “…prefers city to country life. But not me…” he flicked a stray leaf from the edge of the couch.

“Big fish. Little pond. Same old tactics, Malcolm,” Bella narrowed her eyes.

“Can I get you anything Bella?” Malcolm asked, his eyes twinkling. “Would you like some coffee? A glass of juice? Maybe a pop tart?”

Bella sniffed. “You eat pop tarts?”

“Well,” he began, flexing as he stood. “I do work off all the calories within an hour,” he rubbed his bicep. “So why are you here, Bella?”

“I recall you said you loved me once,” she stated.

Malcolm dropped his arms, his lips parting slightly.

“I also know that your family has recently completed a billion Simoleon merger with the Hogan family for control of their diners,” Bella lowered her eyes.

“So you keep up with the financial section of the Money Market Lane Journal?” Malcolm smirked.

“Nice acquisition,” she remarked. “Pays a pretty penny too. And I heard you inherited control.”

“You need money?” he scoffed. “I can hardly just write you a check, Bella Bachelor. People would be suspicious.”

“How would you like to continue our affair…indefinitely?” she arched a brow.

Malcolm coughed in complete surprise. Bella knew this wasn’t the best plan, but it was the only plan she could think of that made sense right now. She would rather be someone’s mistress for life than trapped as a wife to a man she hardly knew.

“The Hogan family has a piece of property in Sunlit Tides. Now the deed is in the Hogan name, but the property technically was acquired by you in the merger, am I right?” she continued. “I recall you once offering to run away with me, Malcolm, because you loved me, right? And you are about the only person who could successfully hide me from the Goths.”

“Now, wait a minute,” Malcolm straightened to his full height. “Bella, what are you suggesting?”

“I was thinking I might just drop out of school and retire to the Simiribbean. Change my name. Dye my hair. Learn new hobbies. And you could come visit me,” Bella said casually, though hurriedly.

“Bel…I…you want to be a kept woman?” Malcolm’s jaw dropped open. “But…why?”

Bella continued boldly, rushing her words before she lost confidence. “Because I’m expecting your child, Malcolm.”

Author Note: In my Simworld,  Passover is the Jacoban and Peteran form of Easter. Simardi Gras is evidently Mardi Gras, or the Fat Tuesday celebration before the start of Passover season. Typically, Mardi Gras is 47 days before Easter. The Eastern Orthodox church has a later calendar than the Western calendar. In my Simworld, Passover (Easter) begins later in the year, following a Devourtarian (my Simworld version of the Orthodox church) calendar. In this year, Bella celebrates Simardi Gras in late Simarch and she visits Malcolm on Passover Sunday in early Simmay.

Clock Square is a play on Times Square. The Hogan family owns the Hogan’s Deep Fried Diner franchise, though it has now been acquired by the Landgrabbs. Hope you enjoyed.

Uni Years, Episode 14, Commiserating (LVB)

Like a helpless puppy, Bella trekked across campus to meet her forgetful lover in the morning. Malcolm always seemed to find a way to keep her coming back for more. After last night’s confession from Emit, Bella was ready for a distraction, even if the source of the distraction wasn’t the best choice. 

Malcolm chose a strangely public place, the university bar on the central quad. He even managed to kiss her hungrily upon her arrival, giving little thought to who might be watching. Tiredly, Bella accepted the kiss, happy to numb the conflicting emotions bubbling within her being. Malcolm’s lips should have had a healing effect, but they didn’t, and she was sorely disappointed.

“Where were you last night?” she asked, as her eyes darted nervously about the quad.

No one was in the near vicinity. Even the bar appeared abandon. It was nearing the heat of the day, Bella realized, as the campus clock struck quarter-to-twelve, and the bar didn’t open until two in the afternoon. Most people were probably still in class or indoors, escaping the lakeside humidity, and that was to their advantage.

“You’re such a beautiful woman, Bella,” Malcolm said, sidestepping the question.

“Thank you,” Bella puckered her lips.

Perhaps she should let it go. Perhaps she should just be here in the moment with Malcolm. They could drive to the north shore in Simnadia and take the family yacht onto Lake Misimigan, where no one could find them and no one would recognize them. She could blow off classes again. She was too smart for them anyway. Perhaps they could spend the afternoon on the lake. They had done it before. Perhaps they wouldn’t even need to come back. They could completely forget about their plans and stay aboard the yacht for the summer, swimming in the cool waters, picnicking on the white sands shores, fishing for their supper, and sleeping under the stars. Bella stared wistfully at the man who had come to be her most intimate companion. She could grow to love him, she thought as she hesitantly lifted her hand to caress his cheeks, kissed by the golden sun. He had been good to her. And yet… it wasn’t good enough.

“Where were you?” she repeated with a frown.

“Forgive me,” Malcolm winced. “I was with…”

“With her!” Bella bit out, an intense pang of jealousy stabbing her heart.

“Well, you know I went home with her over the weekend,” Malcolm began weakly. “We drove to Simcago. The Upsnott family just unveiled a new restaurant in the Devil’s Port neighborhood near the copycat Champs de Marsian Tower. She was so excited. My Big Fat Celebrity Chef has agreed to produce a television show at the new restaurant and they asked Brittany to star in the show. She has the summer to create new dishes and coordinate with the staff, and then they’ll film in the fall.”

“That’s great!” Bella said sarcastically. “Meanwhile you ditch the other woman who can’t cook and burnt water in her college dorm last night.”

“Bella, I’m sorry,” Malcolm said, looking distraught.

“What are you sorry for? Sorry for ditching me? Sorry for stringing me along allt this time? Sorry for lying to your fiance?” she grunted, narrowing her eyes.

“Bella, don’t be like this,” Malcolm said, agitation rising in his tone. “I can be happy for her.”

“Yeah, while making me the most miserable woman alive,” Bella cried, folding her arms over her stomach in frustration.

“We both have other…” Malcolm began, but Bella interjected, raising a hand, “Don’t you dare finish that sentence. I know what we both have and don’t have. What I don’t know is how you can say you love me and then you love her too.”

“Well, don’t you feel the same for…” Malcolm lowered his voice. “…Mortimer?”

Mortimer? His name prodded her in the gut like ranch man using  a cattle iron branding his prize heifer. She didn’t know how she felt about Mr. Goth, but it was nothing pleasant, and it certainly wasn’t love.

“Are we breaking up?” Malcolm asked, his voice cracking.

“What do you think?” she snapped, turning and running away from the quad, not bothering to wait for his answer.

Bella ran around campus for most of the day, purposely trying to avoid places she thought Malcolm might come looking for her. Part of her wanted him to, and another part just wanted to be done. It had been a huge mistake to jump into bed with the heir to the Landgrabb Real Estate Holdings Company, even if he was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed angel from heaven, teaching her what passion truly felt like. She doubted she would receive the same courtesy and attention from Mortimer Goth.

Around ten till nine, Bella realized she hadn’t eaten all day. Her stomach growled fiercely. Late spring rains impeded her movement as she pounded the pavement. She wouldn’t care about getting wet, except that she wanted to get to the nearest restaurant in a hurry. She thought she might pass out from starvation. Upon spotting the lighted sign for Hogan’s Deep-Fried Diner in the distance, Bella quickened her pace, her hunger threatening to gnaw her alive. As she approached, she saw a young bleached blonde woman standing before the diner doors, head tilted downward, shoulders hunched as she cried.

“Hey?” Bella called out. “Are you okay?”

The platinum blonde whirled, her face stained with mascara and tears. Before Bella knew what was happening, the girl plummeted into Bella’s shoulder, howling in agony. Instinctively, she lifted her arms to comfort the woman.

“There, there,” she said, almost in a motherly fashion. “It’s okay.”

She wasn’t even sure what the girl was upset about, but she figured it was the best she could do on a hunger-addled brain. The girl smelled of too much hairspray and earthy notes of cedar. Her skin boasted of long summer days beneath the Rio de Simnero sun in Mexsimco, and yet the dyed hair, white tube top, and matching short shorts seemed more indicative of her desire to fit into Sim National culture. The girl could have naturally black hair like Bella for all she knew, but somehow the blonde seemed to suit her, although Bella couldn’t put her finger on why. She had seen the woman once or twice before, and was pretty sure the girl was in her junior class.

“Oh I’m sorry,” the woman hiccuped in between sobs as she pulled back and hastily tried to swipe at the smudges on her face. “I just received the worst news.”

Your manicurist moved to the West Coast?

You got a B on a paper?

You don’t get to visit the Simiribbean this summer? 

Bella internally smacked herself for thinking such judgmental and sarcastic thoughts.

“I’m sorry,” she said, instead, though she wasn’t sure why she was apologizing.

She shoved her hands in her pockets looking for a tissue, and handing the girl a crumpled one.

“You must think I’m terribly rude,” the girl laughed awkwardly. “I’m Dina Caliente. And you… you’re Bella, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, Bella Bachelor,” Bella affirmed accepting the girl’s outstretched hand. “Are you a junior?”

Dina shook her head. “No, I’m a senior. But you’re in my advanced fashion design class.”

“Oh right,” Bella nodded. “I knew I had seen you somewhere.”

“Yep,” Dina bobbed her head, giving a hesitant smile. “The teacher thinks you’re going places though. Maybe even fashion shows in Champs les Sims.”

“You think?” Bella beamed with pride. “I…would like that… someday. You’re not bad yourself.”

“Really? Thanks!” Dina said, swiping at a tear in her eye corner. “I wish the teacher would think so. She still hasn’t approved my designs for the final and it’s coming up. I came up with a reallly innovative idea and all… a lightbulb dress. What do you think? Wouldn’t it be divine?” she reached for and held Bella’s hands. “I even figured out a way to generate the power. I know I get the creative brains from my mother,” she prattled on. “My mamá lives in Championne. She works in the fashion industry. In fact, she’s so busy and all…” she trailed off, looking almost sad again. “…well, my twin sister and I go home to Rio de Simmnero where my uncle and auntie raised us.”

Called it, Bella smirked, arching her chest, feeling a bit inadequate in Dina’s presence as the other woman was most definitely two cup sizes larger.

“I talk with mamá  though… maybe you know the name? Katarina Caliente?”

So that’s why the Caliente name sounded familiar. Katarina Caliente was a legend in the fashion industry, formerly a Hidden Secrets supermodel in Big Apple City, before opening her own boutique in the Sim Union. 

“Maybe you’ve seen me and my sister too,” Dina said, her eyes lighting up. “We were featured in the Wrenches of Summer hand tool calendar.”

Bella covered her mouth and coughed to keep from laughing aloud. “For Handy Andy‘s tools, right?”

“That’s right. Oh you have seen it,” Dina exclaimed.

“Sure,” Bella shrugged, figuring a little white lie was excusable.

“Maybe I could call my mamá and ask her to look at some of your samples,” Dina offered. “You know… for being so kind to me.”

“I just lent you a shoulder to cry on,” Bella shrugged. “It’s no big deal. Say… are you okay about everything and all?”

“What?” Dina’s expression darkened. “Oh… yeah… um… well…” she looked uncomfortable. “You look like a person I can trust, Bella, so I’m just going to come right out and say it. Today I found out that I’m not the only woman in my boyfriend’s life.”

Bella felt a twinge of guilt, anticipating the upcoming words.

“I’m… the…other…woman…” Dina cupped her mouth and whispered loudly.

“I see,” Bella remarked, her shoulders stiffening.

“The guy’s engaged,” Dina dropped her arms dramatically, visibly distraught. “I just don’t know why I keep picking bad guys. I mean not bad guys like in the movies or something… but guys who are bad for me.”

“I know the feeling,” Bella sighed.

“You too?” Dina’s eyes grew wide.

“Yeah,” Bella admitted, exhaling sharply. “The guy I was with is engaged.”

And I am too, she thought with equal parts distress and discontent.

“Really?” Dina said. “But was he dashingly handsome and devilishly charming.”

Bella kicked a loose stone with the toe of her sneaker. “And wealthy to boot.”

“Mine too,” Dina admitted. “The best princes are. And they make you feel like you’re a princess… no…” she swept her arms wide. “…a queen.”

Bella scrunched her nose. Malcolm was the heir to his family’s fortune, but he wasn’t a prince. She certainly didn’t feel queen-like knowing he was with another girl. She was more like a princess locked in a dark tower slated to marry the dungeon master, if anything. Even so, Dina seemed like the dreamy, head-in-the-clouds type so perhaps it was best for Bella to roll with her sappy romantic notions.

Dina seemed to ponder for a few moments before tilting her head with a smile. “You know what, Bella? I’ve decided we are going to be good friends… I mean, great friends. I mean, we are already commiserating.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Bella shrugged.

“Come on,” Dina linked arms with her new friend. “I’ll buy you the best tacos on the lake shore.”

Author Note: I hope you enjoyed the chapter. My Big Fat Celebrity Chef was a random title I concocted while trying to think of a name for a cooking celebrity show for Brittany Upsnott. The Sims are all about the exaggeration and the puns. I have mentioned before that the Champs de Marsian Tower is my Simworld version of the Eiffel Tower, named for Champs de Mars, the large public greenspace in Paris where the Eiffel Tower sits.

This version of Dina Caliente is actually found in Rflong7’s downloadable world, Legacy Island III.  This Dina Caliente is the daughter of Katarina Caliente, and the second cousin of Flamenco and Nighat Caliente. She and her twin sister, Nina were raised by their second cousins in Rio de Simnero, Mexsimco. Their mother, Katarina is in the fashion industry in Championne. She also is a former Hidden Secrets model, a play on Victoria’s Secret. The Wrenches of Summer hand tool calendar is actually mentioned in Dina’s biography on Sims Wikia. Handy Andy’s Tool Company is a name I created for my Simworld. Thanks for reading.

Uni Years, Episode 13, Shock (LVB)

Bella ignored Emit’s insistence that he would clean, and picked up the bowls, carrying them to the sink to be washed. Perhaps she should go knock on his door and apologize, though she hadn’t the faintest idea why. Was it because she teased him about being a spy?

Retiring to her room, Bella sat on her bed, legs folded, trying to concentrate on her homework. She needed to finish writing a short play by the following Thursday for her script writing class. Try as she might, she couldn’t focus. She kept thinking about Emit. A space ship… he had said. He had spent time in space. Perhaps he was one of the “lost children,” an orphan due to the Food Riots on Luna. Perhaps he had been conscripted into the Simterran military. She had never met an orphan in the Youth For Good program, formerly the Youth Corps. In fact, she had never met anyone from Luna. Perhaps their lifestyle on the moon really was different from Simterra, though she doubted it was quite as matriarchal as the description of Emit’s society. Where in the universe could he be from? 

Poking her head into the hallway, Bella awkwardly smiled at some passing students, both of whom gave her strange looks. She walked to the hallway where Emit had disappeared, and then paused, twisting her foot behind her other ankle. She didn’t exactly know which room he was in. Biting her lip, she ran a hand through her hair, undoubtedly messing up her ponytail. She didn’t really care. Why does it matter where he’s from? she wondered. Timidly, she tiptoed through the hall, listening for the sound of his voice or looking for something to indicate where he went. She was about to turn around when she heard what sounded like singing, coming from the common bathroom. Bella softly pushed the door open, listening, and a cloud of steam puffed into her face. Without thinking, Bella walked inside.

Emit was evidently showering, and she realized she was probably intruding. She walked daintly to the sinks, turning the faucet ever so slightly so she could wash her hands, and have some excuse for being in the room.

“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,” Emit’s deep and rich baritone voice floated up and over the shower curtain.

“I wish I could,” Bella muttered to herself, and then smiled at her sarcasm.

“Who is present there?” Emit called out, over the shower curtain.

Her smile dissipated. Panicking, she whipped her head around and backed into the doorway, hitting the marbled glass with her head. Ow! 

“Emit…it’s me…” she admitted, rubbing the back of her head with her hand, grinning sheepishly. “I’m…uh… sorry to barge in here… I just…wanted… I can come back…” she turned and gripped the handle.

The heard the shower curtain push aside, and Emit stepped from the fog. Bella’s heart pounded as she leaned her head against the door, almost afraid to turn around. She had no idea what to expect. Instead, she felt Emit’s bare chest brush her back, his hairs tickling her skin, as his arms came up and around her frame. He embraced her from behind. Okay not the reaction I was expecting. 

“Do you wish to mate?” he inquired as if asking her to hand him a pencil.

“Mercy! No! What? Um… ah!” Bella shrieked, throwing his arms off of herself, and turning around to see a fully naked Emit standing before her.

Averting her eyes, she darted to the side, throwing her hands up to her face. “What? Put some clothes on! Or a.. er… something…um…” she glanced about frantically for a towel, and chucked one in his direction without looking. “…or…um… I’ll leave…”

She tried to walk to the door, eyes still closed, but found herself wandering the opposite way into the showers. She batted at the curtains like a cat, and cleared her throat, feeling like she would die of embarrassment.

“Why would you…um…ask that?” she squeaked, still looking at the ground.

“Because you have entered my space,” he replied, drying his face with the towel.

“What? Um… no… your space?” she chuckled awkwardly as she tilted her head to the side, and tucked one leg behind the other, making a point to look only at his face. “…the common bathrooms?”

“Yes, but I am unclothed,” he stated the obvious. “You have entered my space,” he repeated, seeming to be completely comfortable with his nudity.

She shook her head, her cheeks the brightest red they had ever been. What was he talking about? Mating? What the hell? Bella gasped for air, suddenly feeling claustrophobic. The thick steam seemed to clutch her throat, impairing her ability to think clearly.

“Would you like me to keep singing?” Emit inquired. “I can see all obstacles in my way.” He offered a genuine smile,  completely oblivious to her intense discomfort. “I like this song of Simterra.  I apologize for the distraction. You must want to mate with me. I am ready for this if it is your wish.”

“Um… well…er…no…but I… well… I was making sure you were okay. That I didn’t make you mad. I didn’t come because I’m into you or anything like that,” Bella rambled. “…I mean… you wouldn’t understand into, would you? I…uh…”

“It appears as though you want me,” Emit stated simply.

She was shocked at his calmness, and there wasn’t a hint of licentiousness in his tone. He seemed to be stating a fact,  a normality for him,  without any lascivious intent or desire to embarrass.  Nonetheless,  Bella felt awkward,  and that was an understatement.

“No…I mean…yes… I mean… no,” she stammered. “Emit… I just wanted to see if I could buy you some ice cream to um… make up for upsetting you at dinner.”

“You did not upset me. I wish to protect you,” he walked toward her, and with every step, she felt like her heart would leap out of her chest. “…and that is why I did not answer your question. My people are unfailingly honest, and so I cannot lie to you, but I cannot tell you the truth. I do not wish to frighten you.”

“Frighten me?” she narrowed her eyes. “I was afraid I would frighten you.”

“Why?” he puzzled, reaching for her hands.

She trembled, completely aware of his fully naked body, but refusing to look down. “Because… I am…”

What am I? Mortimer called me a hybrid,  a special Sim being.  Mom said I was a witch. Dad said I am a vampire.  I am north,  but I am neither.  I’m not fully Sim.  

“I’m a monster.”

Emit lifted her hands up and looked into her eyes with a deep compassion. “Oh my dear lady, I am the monster.”

“You couldn’t be,” she mouthed as he squeezed her hands against his chest, the tears welling in her eye corners.

“I know what you are,” he said.

“You do?”

“Yes, you are a supernatural.”

“How did you know?” she breathed heavily.

“Because I am…” he sighed. “I am not from here.”

“Well that I know.”

“I will tell you something I have told no other. I fear for things changing for you but I fear for things staying the same for me. I fear for being alone on this life. I am afraid you will hate me but I cannot bear the burden alone any longer.  You must promise me that you will not repeat what you hear because it could put your life in danger.”

“I swear,” she bobbed her head.

“I am… what you call… Xenosi,” he replied. “And we created you.”


Bella expected the panic to settle at any moment. Her heart felt as if it had been squeezed, and every drop of life remained frozen within her veins. Blue-haired Emit Relevart, the man who had been face down, crumpled, beaten, and bleeding outside her door two years ago, had just confessed to being the enemy. The green-skinned Xenosi? It wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be. Her world had just finished a war with the alien race. This was beyond unreal.

“Bella? Milady?” Emit’s voice cut through the fog.

She shook her head.

“This…can’t…be…happening…” she bent over and grabbed her knees, wheezing as she attempted to catch her breath. “You…you…are…one of them?” she glared up at him, uncertain how she should feel.

Her entire body trembled and her voice vibrated with anger. “You are the…you are a Xenosi? You killed my people? You threatened my world? You abducted us? Your people made us… made us the monsters we are? Made me a supernatural?” She shoved him back into the shower room with surprising force.

“Milady?” he dropped to his knees, naked and dripping wet, hanging his head.

Bella yelled in frustration, holding the side of her head as she seethed with rage. His people were the reason she was cursed.

Emit spoke meekly. “If you should so wish it, I will gladly take my own life to spare you the further shame of fraternizing with the enemy.”

Bella’s hands trembled, and she collapsed to the wet tile floor, feeling the full weight of what he had just offered. Her heart softened, and she immediately felt guilty. Here was a man who had been nothing but kind to her and he was offering to commit suicide in order to fulfill her desire for vengeance. This was not the face of a man who was her enemy.  Emit was nothing like what she had imagined the green-skinned aliens to be.

“I…” the word fell from her lips, and a wail escaped from her throat.

She covered her mouth in horror, and cried, muffled sobs into her hands. “How can this be?”

“Let us stop discussing for the night,” he suggested gently, pushing her hair over her ears. “I think you need to gather your thoughts and feelings, and you would be more comfortable in another setting.” Emit lifted her from the floor. “Will you meet me in my room at nine tomorrow morning.”

“I…” she began.

She wanted to figure everything out tonight. She wanted the truth, but exhaustion was threatening to devour her whole and her shoulders slumped.

“I will,” she promised.

Author Note: Time traveling Emit Relevart is a Xenosi. Yes, you read that right. If you have no idea what a Xenosi is, please read more about these aliens on my other blog here.

Uni Years, Episode 11, Rendezvous (LVB)

Red sneakers kicked up dust along the pathway entering Wild Horse Park, the sound oddly soothing to a frustrated college coed. It was as if the ground was welcoming Bella back to her familiar jogging trail. She strayed to the edge, lightly stepping across the grass, skirting the edge of the blue waters of the central pond. In the distance, she could hear the sounds of birds chirping, happy at the approaching long summer days.

Bella, on the other hand, dreaded the thought of her upcoming vacation. While her classmates gushed about their summer plans, she recognized the one thing in all their stories that was missing from her own – family. Her friends talked about camping trips, seaside escapades, patriotic parades, and amusement park adventures and with sisters and brothers, parents, aunts, and uncles, and cousins. Bella would be spending, yet another summer, with her aging grandparents in Simspania. Sure, they were family, but it was more like punishment than pleasure. Last summer, Bella had spent the entire time mucking the horse stables and tending to the fields, hardly fun and games, and her parents didn’t come to visit her once. Michael, her little brother, did make the trek up to Neighorly City last Simgust to help her move into her dorms again, but he didn’t even stay the night. This year, Mortimer would be in Simpan for business, and even Malcolm was headed to Osimceana instead of the Sim Union, both on the other side of the world from her summer home.

As Bella rounded the park for the third time, she exhaled heavily. She much preferred the outdoors to the treadmills in the fieldhouse. She didn’t particularly appreciate gym nuts staring at her body while she pounded the nylon-polyester, as if her body was a exhibit at the zoo. Last time she worked out in public, she had three guys drooling over her as they lifted weights behind her, no doubt staring at her booty, and a freshman girl struggling desperately to keep up with her pace at her side, constantly peppering her with unwanted questions about where she went to get her tan and who her hair stylist was. The park was more of a safe haven for Bella, on the edge of town, away from curious eyes and flapping lips.

Nonetheless, today she felt uneasy, as if someone was watching her. She glanced about, unable to find the source of her discomfort. A pigeon fluttered from a tree, and she whipped her gaze upward, faintly seeing the outlines of a white tee shirt among the leaves in the high branches. Perhaps a bird watcher, but more likely a peeping Tom.  Bella grumbled beneath her breath, deciding this loop would be her last.

Ever since she had been spotted in Starlight Shores attending a movie premier with Mortimer last Christmas, she had been hounded by paparazzi. Everyone wanted to know why one of the most successful and wealthy businessmen from the West Coast was seen with a college girl from the countryside town of Pleasantview. The general public suspected a romance blossoming between Mr. Goth and Ms. Bachelor, but thankfully, after three months, the intensity of the gossip magazines and news columns died down. Even so, that didn’t seem to stop the occasional over-eager reporter looking to snap a photograph of Bella. 
The man, and source of her unease, jumped to the ground from his hiding spot in the upper tree branches, however, Bella was too distracted by the man waiting for her on the park bench at the end of the pathway.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, slowing to a stop.

It was broad daylight in a public park and Malcolm Landgrabb IV was grinning up at her casually as if it didn’t matter if they were seen together.

“What? I can’t come watch you run?” he asked. “It is a free country…” he tucked his arms behind his head and intertwined his fingers with a smug smile. “…I could be contemplating the fish in the pond here or perhaps I was thinking about taking up bird watching. I hear the robins over here are a particularly interesting species.”

“Sure,” Bella rolled her eyes, plopping down on the bench. “And you just so happen to time it perfectly to see me?”

“Or I could just need a reprieve on a hot Simmay day and this tree-shaded bench is perfect for my needs,” he smiled, dropping one of his hands down and touching the edge of her fingers. “Hello Bella…” he said softly.

“Hello Malcolm,” she shivered delightedly at his touch.

“I’ve missed you,” he said in a low voice.

“I saw you this morning in our joint stress, coping, and wellness class,” she replied. “You missed me after oh what?” she glanced at her watch… Mortimer’s…and suddenly aware of its ownership, she covered her wrist. “…four hours?”

“Yes,” he breathed, his excited tone stirring her blood.

She was grateful he made the trek, as finals were next week, and after that, she wouldn’t see him for the whole summer. She wanted as much time with Malcolm as possible, and yet she was still timid about meeting him in public. 

“What does Brittany say about your rendezvous with another woman?” Bella dared to ask.

“What Brittany doesn’t know doesn’t hurt her,” he shrugged. “Plus we could simply say we are meeting to discuss a class project.”

“What class project?” she inquired. “As I recall, you weren’t even supposed to be in my class.”

“What can I say, Bella Bachelor?” Malcolm replied, his nickel blue eyes twinkling. “I am drawn to you. I had to build in a perfectly acceptable excuse to see you so I signed up for your course. It works as an elective for me.”

“It’s my elective too, you know,” Bella said, flattered that he had found a way to fit an unnecessary course into this past semester and impressed that the class managed to count toward his major.

“Well, I elected to see you, and it’s perfectly explainable to Brittany if she asks why we’re studying together,” he continued, running a hand through his neatly groomed blonde locks.

Bella giggled. “Are you actually studying stress management techniques or are you studying something else?”

“What do you think?” he smirked, leaning close until she could feel his soft breath on her face.

“Come here.”


Uni Years, Episode 8, Sleepless (LVB)

Wind chimes? Was that what had awakened her? Bella roused from her sleeping position, letting her legs dangle off the bed. The tinny tubular metals on strings tinkled around outside her bedroom window. As soon as spring arrived again, her next-door neighbor loved to hang the intricate little wind instruments, but this was the third time they had broken through Bella’s sleep. She rubbed her eyes, feeling a slow creeping horror as she realized she smudged her makeup. I went to bed fully clothed again. 

Bella flopped back on her pillow, tilting the clock to see the time. It was the only thing in the room piercing through the night, as the street lamp was out again, so the room was fully dark. The red rays displayed the time – 2:59.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Bella groaned, plunking back on her pillow, with her arm tucked behind her head.

Bella had stayed up to finish a term paper, and had only crashed about an hour and a half ago. She had an 8a.m. humanities class, and as easygoing and lenient as Professor Larrea was, Bella doubted she would appreciate her students falling asleep in class. Perhaps, Bella should just skip class.

The incessant dinging of the wind chimes grated on her nerves. Bella grunted, rolling out of bed and flipping on the overhead light. If the only way to sleep was to remove the wind chimes from the window sill, she’d do it, even if it meant risking her suite mate’s wrath. Then again… it might not be such a good idea… Bella stared down at her bare feet. She needed something to help her sleep and she knew just the trick. Standing in front of the mirror, Bella freshened her makeup, and pulled on her tennis shoes one a a time without untying the laces. As she hopped up and down, she nearly fell over, and reached out to brace herself against the smooth glass. Touching her reflection, Bella wondered if she really should be doing this, but quickly averted her eyes to avoid feeling guilty. Stepping into the lit hallway, she snaked her way through the building, walked out the front door, and then felt for her key and ID in her pocket. Satisfied she wasn’t being watched, she bolted from Landgrabb Boarding House around the curve to the Peanut Street Apartments, complex B. As she climbed the steps of the other building, she laid a hand across her stomach. Butterflies! Bella lifted her chin high. She had no reason to be nervous.

The man opened the door, shirtless in his boxer shorts, after Bella knocked thrice. She stepped into the duplex kitchen, and smiled, wrapping her arms around her lover.

“Another sleepless night?” he asked.

She nodded, leaning into his hug.

“I’m so glad you came,” he murmured, pulling her into his tight embrace. “I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you too,” she stood on tiptoe, lifting her head, and taking a long, sweet drink of his lips. “There. That always makes me feel better.”

“I am happy to oblige,” he said with a smile. “You’re lucky. My roommate is out tonight.”

“Your roommate is always out,” Bella said, nonchalantly, stepping into his kitchen and dragging a finger across the sunny wood table. “I see she left behind flowers.”

“It baffles me that Allegra wants to be a florist,” he said, wrapping his hulking arms around Bella. “…last week she was burning her bras on the campus quad and this week she’s leaving daffodils everywhere.”

“Don’t judge,” Bella whipped around and pushed her index finger into his hairy chest.

“Yeah, but she’s into women,” he grunted, taking a step back from the pain of Bella’s nail digging into his flesh.

“That’s why I am totally okay with you rooming with her,” Bella remarked. “…even though I haven’t officially met her.”

“She’s pretty cool, even if she’s into protesting against the administration, ” he said. “You could come over for dinner sometime and meet her.”

“She’s in my humanities class actually,” Bella replied. “But remember, you and I…” she lifted a finger to his lips. “…we’re kinda on the DL.”

“You could come as a friend,” he replied. “I could host a dinner party.”

“Do you think you could keep your hands off me for one night?” she grinned.

He yanked her to his side, wrapping one arm around her shoulder and neck, and lingered a mere inch from her mouth.

“I can’t keep my hands off you now, Bella Bachelor,” he whispered excitedly.

“Exactly,” she whispered back. “So what makes you think you could then, Malcolm Landgrabb?”

He sighed and leaned fully into her lips, and she opened allowing him to enter. He sent delighted shivers through her vein and down her spine. She felt honored to have such an incredible lover. Malcolm had taught her about the whole wonderful world of sex, something no one had ever taken the time to teach her before. Of course, her mother had given her the “safe sex” talk, but in the technical doctor-patient kind-of way, not really answering any of her questions about love and pleasure, and she certainly wasn’t going to get those kinds of answers from her father. Simis had merely told her to wait until marriage because that’s what the Good Book said to do, and if she needed advice on patience, she should read it. Bella scoffed internally. The Good Book had nothing to say about how good sex is. How could she wait when this scrumptious man was right before her eyes?

Malcolm lifted Bella into his arms, and her heart beat a little faster, anticipating all the lovely things that would happen next. She almost wished she did have someone to talk to about this passionate affair of hers, but Jennifer wouldn’t understand. Her best friend was intentional about waiting for her wedding night with John, and she even wore a purity ring to prove her dedication. Bella wasn’t close enough with anyone else to really discuss matters of the heart… or the body. Malcolm was sucking on her earlobes as he carried her up the stairs, and she flinched at the sensation. He started trailing kisses down her neck and she exploded with giggles. 

Twenty minutes later, they lay on the bed, panting as they stared up at the ceiling together. Malcolm retrieved his boxer shorts from the floor and Bella got redressed before climbing back onto the bed. She intertwined his fingers with her own and sighed happily. Pure bliss. 

“I love you,” he said softly as he kissed her hair.

Bella jolted so quickly she bumped her head off the bed frame. “What? Do you mean that?”

“Of course, I do, silly,” he nuzzled her nose. “I wouldn’t have said so otherwise.”

He sounded so confident. Bella wished she could say she felt the same way. She wished she could say that she loved him. But in all honesty, she didn’t know. She loved being together. She loved the way he made her feel. She loved that he cared for her unlike any other man in her life thus far. It was nice to be cared for… but was it enough? She loved that she felt safe with her first partner. But she didn’t love the fact that both of them were engaged to other people. Bella bit her lower lip.

“Say something, Bella,” Malcolm probed.

He knew. She knew. They both knew. And yet when they were together, they denied it. They had bonded in the summer in Simspania over the fact that they both stuck in arranged marriages – Bella to a man who could save her family from financial ruin and Malcolm to a woman who could increase his family’s real estate holdings with many of her family’s restaurants. Neither one of them loved their future spouses, but they tolerated them for the sake of family. But Bella felt like she deserved more.

She was still young. She wanted to explore. She wanted to date. She wanted to try new things. Sometimes she felt her parents agreed to this so they didn’t have to worry about her dating at all. Well, if they could see me now… little do they know… Little did anyone know. Sometimes she wished she had never met Mortimer Goth. Sometimes she wished she had never rescued him from a watery demise, and then she would immediately feel guilty. Even if she despised their arrangement, Bella could never knowingly let a person die.

Sometimes she wondered what her life would be like if fate hadn’t intervened. Bella might not have gone to university. She may have needed to work a job. Her parents may have lost their house and they would have needed to downsize. Her little brother may have been forced to go to public school. But she would be a free woman. Free to date whomever she chose. Free to be in a relationship with Malcolm Landgrabb the IV… that is if he wasn’t still engaged to Brittany Upsnott, the queen of Tri-Var Sorority house, and the sole heiress to the Blackbird Gourmet Burgers and Brews restaurant chain.

If fate hadn’t intervened, Bella may have been able to seal her own, and help her family by marrying Malcolm instead of her own free will. His family was wealthy enough, and had just as much money and class as the Goths. However, during her few encounters with Margaret Landgrabb, Malcolm’s mother, Bella knew she would have needed to strive to win the Landgrabb family approval. Margaret had called Bella a “social climbing weasel” and a “gold digger,” though Bella had no idea what the woman’s problem was or why she cared. It wasn’t as if the Landgrabbs and Goths ran in the same social circles.

If fate hadn’t intervened, maybe Bella could have spent Christmas with her own family this past term, instead of visiting the Goth family manor in Sunset Valley. Christmas just didn’t seem the same without snow. Mortimer was kind and obliging, but also distant. He didn’t even hug her hello when she had arrived, and he wouldn’t hold her hand, not even when they were alone. There was no love there, and he had faithfully kept his promise to not touch her until they were married, much to Bella’s relief.

Mortimer’s kid sister, Morgana followed Bella around like a lost puppy asking all sorts of curious questions. Mortimer’s younger brother, Gunther Jr. was actually fairly close in age to Bella, but he kept his distance, seeming to disapprove of her in some way. His older sister, Minerva was spent half a day with the family before flouncing off to Southern Califorsimia to spend with her boyfriend, and from the whispering gossip among the staff, Bella sensed Minerva’s gentleman wasn’t approved by the family either. Gunther Sr., Mortimer’s father, was reserved, but polite. He served as the dean of Sunset University, and mostly talked about the school and politics, two things that did not interest Bella. Cordelia, his wife and Mortimer’s mother, seemed to be the only one who was pleased by her future daughter-in-law, and delighted in measuring Bella for wedding dresses and tiaras and veils, dragging her to two dozen shops between Sunset Valley and Bay City. Bella was happy for the attention, but still annoyed at the circumstances.

If fate hadn’t intervened, maybe Bella could have found a way to go to university anyway. She could’ve taken a gap year, and then started late. Perhaps she would’ve dated Daniel, or she could’ve found another single guy, maybe like that strange man Emit Relevart, whom she also rescued last fall when he had collapsed in front of her door. Bella narrowed her eyes. She hadn’t seen Emit since that night, and she wondered if he had transferred, or if he was a ghost, or he simply wasn’t a student. Sim State University was very large, so it was possible to never see someone in one’s entire time in college. Still, she wondered about him from time to time, and the thinking about how he ended up at her door still sent shivers through her spine – gangs of people beating up open supernaturals.

“Are you okay, darling?” Malcolm interjected.

She shook her head and leaned against his bare chest, closing her eyes. “I’m just tired. Can I ask you a favor?”

It was evident by the delay in his response that she hadn’t answered his question, or said anything at all. Nonetheless he answered.

“Name it.”

“Sing me a song.”

“A song?” he stroked her hair. “Okay…” he seemed to think about this for a moment. “The itsy bitsy spider…”

Bella turned over and whacked him in the stomach.

“Okay, okay,” he laughed. “I’ll sing you a different song.”

“You better,” she grinned, though he couldn’t see her in the dark as she planted a kiss on his lips, turned back over, and snuggled under the covers.

Malcolm was quiet for a moment before singing again, this time, slower, and softer, “Love me tender. Love me sweet.”

Bella smiled as she closed her eyes.

“You’re singing me Elvis.”

“Elvis never dies,” he said, nuzzling her head. “Never let me go.”

“Mmm… please don’t,” she sighed pleasantly.

“Shh… just let me sing. Fall asleep to my voice,” he said quietly. “You have made my life complete and I love you so.”

As he continued singing, Bella wondered if he knew the truth. I don’t love him. I have to tell him I don’t love him. What am I doing? She let herself relax. He had to think she was sleepy. She would make him think that. Just like I made him think I love him? Sleeping together was a foolish idea. I care about him. I just don’t love him. He repeated the song, and this time, Bella felt her eyelids grow heavy. I can keep a secret … she thought as she drifted to sleep.

Author Note: The plot thickens. Yes, Bella is still engaged to Mortimer, in case you forgot. Malcolm Landgrabb the IV is also engaged to Brittany Upsnott, who is a Sim found in the Sims 2 and recreated for Sims 3 by psychedelicsims and OkieOK01, and so is Allegra Gorey, Malcolm’s roommate.

In case you didn’t pick up on it, time has passed. It is now spring of Bella’s sophomore year. Blackbird Gourmet Burgers and Brews is a play on the Red Robin burger restaurant chain in the United States. Hope you enjoyed!

Previous Chapter: Episode 7, Bend and Break 

Next Chapter: Episode 9, Secrets 

Uni Years, Episode 6, Family (LVB)

Laughter erupted around the table, for the third time in the evening. Bella was enjoying her impromptu welcome-back-to-uni dinner with the Pleasant family. They were certainly enjoyable to be around. Jennifer’s dad, Jeff Pleasant worked for SIMSA, but unlike most engineers Bella knew, Jeff had a taste for theatrical storytelling, utilizing his entire body to share tales from the cockpit of the tester space jets.

Bella particularly enjoyed his most recent retelling of the time he and his buddy decided to fly upside down into Luna’s space dock. His superior officers were not pleased and when they asked why Jeff and his comrade tried to crash land onto Luna, Jeff replied with a salute, “Sir, I just planet that way.” Jennifer and Daniel rolled their eyes, accustomed to hearing their dad say the same stories over and over again, but Bella didn’t mind. It was nice to see a family having fun together. It was hard to remember the last time she had a congenial dinner with her parents and Michael.

After his most recent joke, Jeff’s wife, Diane leaned over and teased that his wicked sense of humor was a sign he had missed his calling as a comedian. Bella smiled at the small sign of affection between husband and wife – Diane’s hand laid gently on his knee, ever so slightly caressing with her fingers, and Jeff’s smile broadening as he felt her touch. Jeff once said he and Diane prioritized time together when he came back from his trips, and they would spend the first evening out together on the town before spending time together as a whole family.

Bella figured it must be nice for Diane to be home full-time, taking care of the house and family. She couldn’t remember the last time her mom had even taken a sick day. Jocasta often worked sixty hour weeks, and when she was home, she was most likely catching up on sleep.  Simis also spent most of his days at the church parish, seeing to the needs of his parishioners before stumbling home after eleven at night and leaving before seven. That meant microwave dinners  and cold cereal breakfasts for Bella and teenage brother, that’s if Michael wasn’t snacking on a candy bar by the time Bella got up. He was generally already on his way out the door to meet a friend or go to school or whatever it was he did. Sometimes Bella went to grab a greasy sandwich at Golden Arches and she would sit in the play area watching the mothers with their kids just so she didn’t feel so lonely.

“I wonder where our food is,” the redhaired Daniel Pleasant inquired. “I have things to do and people to see.”

“Your fraternity brothers can wait,” Diane lowered her eyes and clucked her tongue.

“Yeah, they are probably weighting in right now in that fancy basement gym the frat house has,” Jeff smirked, winking at his son.

Bella smirked.

“Dad!” Jennifer exclaimed, rolling her eyes, as she reached forward to straighten the vase in the center of the table.

“I’m sure our food will be here any minute,” Diane added.

“I just want a drink,” Daniel remarked. “They haven’t even brought us our drinks and they aren’t even busy in here tonight.”

Bella glanced about the bar and grill. The Boogie On Down to University Way was typically packed with people college co-eds and professors alike catching up on the latest university gossip over plates of mouthwatering hamburgers and deep fried onion rings, unwinding over bottled sodas and beers, busting new and often ridiculous moves on the dance floor, raucously entertaining their peers with off-key renditions of pop songs or  shyly serenading their sweethearts with silly little love ballads. However, tonight, the bar and grille seemed fairly vacant, save a football coach drafting plays on the back of his napkin while sipping his whiskey neat at the counter and the elderly librarian furiously knitting in the back corner booth while listening to Simzart much too loudly through her headphones and finishing the remnants of her lemon ice box pie. Bella shrugged, figuring the masses would pour in after the weekend, first the football jocks and cheerleaders, then the first-time freshman and transfer students, and then finally the upperclassmen en masse bragging about all the amazing things they did over the summer and planning out their social itineraries for the year. In a way, it was nice to return early; she could unpack in peace and enjoy more time with family… even if Jennifer and Daniel were not related to her. She considered the Pleasants more her family than her own family somedays.

Post a dinner of Mozzarella sticks, medium-rare cheeseburgers and garlic fries, house made slaw, and hot fudge sundaes, Bella made the ridiculous decision to sing karaoke with Daniel on a full stomach. The football coach had left and the librarian was still knitting, but the only other inhabitants of the restaurant was the bartender and the Pleasants. Bella gulped, trying to swallow a burp threatening to make its way to the surface, and Daniel nudged her playfully.

“What should we sing, love?” he asked.

Bella smiled, and fluttered her eyelashes. Daniel always called her “love.” It was his term of endearment for one of his closest and oldest friends. They had enjoyed years of flirting, even though they hadn’t really dated, minus one awful night their first year in college when they both decided to drink shots while sitting on top of the water tower and play Truth or Dare at two in the morning. Though it was a year ago, Bella still felt the sting of defeat, sitting in her underwear puking her guts out over the side with Daniel stood in his boxer shorts, holding her hair. It had been fun while it lasted, and she recalled he was actually an excellent kisser when they made out on one of the dares, but neither one of them ever spoke of that night ever again, and probably for good reason. Bella decided to swallow her pride. The humiliation of singing in public was minuscule to that night, even if Daniel had been her only witness.

I Want You Back by the Jacksim Five,” she said cheekily.

Daniel grinned and punched the song into the machine as she picked up their microphones. Bella, of course, took the lead, singing most of the lyrics of the classic bubblegum pop song. She scrunched her shoulders and nose in a cutesy way as she made faces at Daniel while they sang through the number, and Daniel kept the rhythm, slapping his hand against his jeans and echoing his words in perfect time. Jennifer whooped delightedly from the table, and Jeff and Diane stood up and twirled about on the dance floor. Even the bartender on duty smiled and clapped to the beat. When they were finished, Daniel high-fived Bella and she coyly placed a kiss on his cheek bringing color to his face.

The elder Pleasants paid for dinner and went to help Daniel unload his gear at the fraternity house. The girls had already moved into their dorms, and bid Jeff and Diane a good night. Bella watched somewhat jealously as Jennifer hugged both her father and mother, and the parents both leaned in to kiss their daughter’s head. She wished her mother and father had taken the time to at least drive her back to Neighborly City for her sophomore year, especially after spending little time with their daughter over the summer vacation. Bella had seen more of her brother and paternal grandparents in Simspania than her parents. Even Mortimer had made the time to visit and take her for a ride on his yacht along the Meditersimmian coastline.

Jeff, Diane, and Daniel waved goodbye, and Bella snapped out of her wishful thoughts, smiling and waving in return. Jennifer accompanied Bella back to her dorm. The girls were bummed they wouldn’t be rooming together this year, but Jennifer would be living nearby in the Peanut Street Apartments, less than a block away. The girls reminisced about their vacations as they talked and laughed and navigated around puddles from the newly fallen rain.

Upon arriving at the Landgrabb Boarding House, a commotion caught their attention, pulling them away from giggly conversation. A white-blonde haired woman wearing a jean blazer and much-too-short-a-mini-skirt for her age stood on the lawn outside their dorm yelling at a muscular, strawberry-blonde haired younger man, presumably her son. 

“You should be grateful I even drove you at all,” the woman shouted.

Margaret, your chauffeur drove!” the man protested. “You sat in the back and talked on the car phone the entire time. The least you could do is stay and have dinner with me.”

“Don’t call me by my first name!” the woman grunted.

“Right, because calling you mom makes so much sense,” the man rolled his eyes. “You’ve never been a mother to me and you know it. ”

“Shut up, you little brat!” the woman shrieked. “The only reason I drove you to this campus is because your father made me. He seems to think you’ll make something of yourself this year if you transfer to his alma mater…” she narrowed her eyes and glared. “…but we both know better since you show absolutely no initiative at all whatsoever.”

“Say what you really mean, why don’t you?” the man snarled sarcastically. “Why do you have to be so cruel?”

“Wow,” Jennifer whispered. “That woman is a witch. Isn’t that Malcolm Landgrabb?”

“The fourth, I think,” Bella nodded, twisting her one foot behind the other.

“And his mother, Margaret, I guess,” Jennifer said quietly. “All the newspapers say she’s a powerhouse. I mean, she’s got her own company and all. Dad worked with her once since her business does all the advertising for SIMSA’s educational awareness campaigns and their partnerships with the Youth Corps.”

“You mean the Youth Force for Good… the YFFG?” Bella corrected. “They renamed the institution… better sounding, I guess.”

“Well look at you,” Jennifer covered her mouth to keep her laugh from traveling. “What? Are you thinking of joining up?”

Bella had no intention whatsoever, but she was attempting to keep the conversation off Malcolm Landgrabb the fourth and his mother as long as possible.

“What if I was?” she shrugged.

“Whatever,” Jennifer smiled pleasantly. “Dad said Mrs. Landgrabb wasn’t all that nice, but since SIMSA chose her firm, he had to work with her. I think he…” she interrupted herself with a yawn. “…pawned the work off on a subordinate.”

“I would too,” Bella said, narrowing her eyes as the woman stormed off the front lawn like a petulant child.

She breathed a sign of relief that the woman didn’t recognize her, and Malcolm had already turned to walk inside. There was no need to explain anything tonight. Margaret’s limousine nearly hit a passing taxi cab as it sped away from the curb and squealed around the other vehicle as if they could not wait to be out of Neighborly City.

“Wow!” Jennifer exclaimed. “Talk about wild family dynamics. She seems positively terrible.”

“You know what’s terrible?” Bella tried to change the subject. “Standing out here on a humid night without heaping bowls of ice cream. Come inside, I have a mini fridge.”

“I guess,” Jennifer said, hesitantly. “You think Malcolm came back early on purpose. To avoid the drama? Imagine when all the freshman are arriving in a week!” she whistled. “Holy cow! I wouldn’t want that kind of confrontation with all those students around.”

Bella climbed the steps ignoring her friend’s statement. The last people she wanted to discuss were the Landgrabbs. Jennifer hurried to catch up, taking two stairs at a time, her boots thudding across the porch.

“So Malcolm Landgrabb the Fourth lives in your dorm?” Jennifer grinned. “He’s pretty dreamy. Even if he is descended from detestable genes…” she trailed off, still watching the fading lights of Margaret Landgrabb’s vehicle before turning to follow Bella into the boarding house. “Too bad he’s taken. He and I would make beautiful babies…” she swooned, flouncing into the hallway with one leg tucked behind her in the air and her arms dramatically sweeping in front of her.

“Sure,” Bella rolled her eyes, putting her key into her room door. “Let’s eat that Cherry Simcia.”

Author Note: I hope you enjoyed another Bella chapter. I had fun writing about the Pleasant family. I love puns, but go figure, when I was trying too hard to think up one for Jeff Pleasant, I couldn’t come up with a great one. Lol. I tried to make the Pleasants look as accurate to their Sims 2 selves as possible with a few of my own creative flourishes.

Bella and Jennifer are sophmores at Sim State University, which was remade for Sims 3 by psychedelicsim and OkieOk01 The remade world is called Neighborly Sim State so in my Simworld, Sim State University is in Neighborly City, Misimigan. Boogie on Down to University Way is a lot in the cc world.

As I’ve mentioned before SIMSA is my Simworld version of NASA. Golden Arches is McDonalds. Simzart is the classical composer Mozart. The Jacksim Five is a play on the Jackson 5. Cherry Simsia is a play on the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor Cherry Garcia. The Meditersimmian Sea is a play on the Mediterranean Sea in Eurasia.

I also tried to recreate Malcolm Landgrabb IV and his mother, Margaret as best as I could, and decided I would take more creative liberties with them. Margaret Landgrabb previously worked for the Buckingham Broadcasting Agency (her maiden name) and she currently is the CEO of Superior Advertising. I picked the name Superior since this story is set in Misimigan near Superior Lake (a.k.a. Lake Superior in Mighigan). Malcolm Landgrabb IV is a transfer to Sim State University and is a junior.

And finally, if you’ve read Kassiopeia Fullbright and the Lost Legacy, you might recall a mention of the Youth Corps. Either way, I’ll explain. During the mid 2350s, Food Riots began on Luna, the moon world next to Simterra, and many people perished on both sides of the civil war, leaving a high count of orphans. The three major Simterran governments of Sim Union, Sim Nation, and Siminia-Simshuan Alliance formed a program called the Youth Corps for the Lost Children. However, the program was wildly unpopular after the media discovered the teens were being trained in military tactics with the help of the Orbix, an alien race who also trains their children for battle. The program was scrapped, but reintroduced to society in the mid-to-late 2380s and renamed Youth Corps for Good, designed to help place teens in study-programs and apprenticeships, irregardless of their family status.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Next Chapter: Episode 7, Bend and Break