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.”

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Newlywed Years, Episode 32, Inferno (LVB)

Bella clutched the side of her head in agony. The nightmare had been so terrifyingly real. She glanced about for her husband. Mortimer still wasn’t in bed. Mortimer! Bella collapsed against the pillow. She recalled the terrifying sensation of never seeing anyone again… her family, her children, her husband. In the moment of horror, it wasn’t Emit’s face she saw. It was Mortimer’s. Bella closed her eyes, feeling the tears fall down her face.

Why did I think of Mortimer? She reached for her pills on the nightstand, and swallowed a handful. The hallucinations and nightmares were getting worse. She would need to talk to the doctor about upping her dose, especially if she didn’t want to die over and over and over again in her dreams at the hands of a masked madman.

“Bella!” someone shouted,bursting into the room. “Wake up!”

Bella sat up and screamed, and quickly covered her mouth as she recognized the face of her husband. The hall was lit with a strange orange light, and smoke poured in at his heels.

“Bella, come,” Mortimer said, stretching out his hand. “The house is on fire!”

“The children!” she gasped as she slipped from the bed.

“They are safe. They are outside with the nanny,” Mortimer said, reaching for her wrist as she fumbled with her slippers.

“But…” she trailed off, seeing the flames licking the far wall in the hallway. “…you… you didn’t? You didn’t get them? Can you be sure?”

“Bella,” Mortimer turned, and gripped the sides of her face with a look of genuine panic. “I came back for you. Come on, darling.”

He picked up her shoes and pulled her into the hallway. They covered their mouths and noses as they walked carefully down the heated stairwell. Flames erupted in the entryway, and the entire living room was ablaze. They edged their way along the wall to the kitchen, just in time, as a beam collapsed from above, smashing her beloved piano in a cacophony of notes and splintered wood.

“No!” she cried out, standing motionless, horrified by the inferno.

Was this another nightmare? 

The flames charged in their direction. Bella felt herself lifted from the floor as Mortimer steadied her weight with his arms draped around her back and under her legs. He carried her through the smoky kitchen, out the back door, and down the steps into the yard. Bella was bewildered.

“Is everyone out?” a firefighter asked while running past them.

“Yes,” Mortimer answered, and then turned to the nanny. “Thank you for getting the children to safety, Karen.”

“Absolutely, Mr. Goth,” the pajama-clad elderly governess said, visibly shaken, but keeping calm for the sake of the sleeping baby Alexander in her arms.

Cassandra clutched Karen’s hand, sucking on her thumb. A group of people walked toward them on the sidewalk. Seeing her grandmother approach, she ran to the woman.

“Na…na…” she shouted, reaching up for a hug.

Jocasta stooped to embrace her little granddaughter, with Simis close behind.

“Is everyone okay?” he asked, worriedly. “We could see the flames from our house. We called the fire department.”

Bella breathed a sigh of relief to see her father, even if the gathering circumstances were traumatic. “Daddy?” she managed.

“I’m here, Bella,” Simis said, patting his daughter’s head.

“Thank you, we appreciate it,” Mortimer said, shifting his weight. “I called also.”

“What happened?” Jocasta asked, motioning to Bella’s brother to take the children out of earshot with the nanny.

Karen and Michael headed for the park across the street, with Cassandra skipping and singing, almost blissfully unaware of the danger she had previously been in. Bella smiled at the sound of her daughter’s happiness.

“We don’t know yet,” Mortimer replied, seriously, as he squeezed his wife. “But we will find out. In the meantime, Jocasta and Simis…” he nodded to both of them. “I want to get Bella to the paramedics and make sure she is okay.”

Bella was touched by his kindness. Her parents understood and followed after her brother and the nanny. Mortimer continued to carry Bella toward the arriving ambulance.

“Mort…” she began, hoarsely. “Thank you.”

“Of course, Bella,” he said, almost stiffly.

“Are you okay?” she inquired.

He stopped suddenly. The firefighters battled the inferno engulfing their home, water blasting the walls, windows and frame. The police had arrived to corner off the scene and corral the curious neighbors. Sirens blared, voices shouted commands, pressure hoses whooshed, and flames roared. It was chaos. Mortimer, her steadfast husband, seemed collected, and yet she knew better. She could sense his anxious and conflicted emotions, his facade of calm threatening to crumble all around them.

“Mortimer?” she probed gently, her voice cracking.

As the first hints of pink and yellow sprawled across the sky, and the stars faded from view, Bella experienced a strange and wondrous sensation of peace. Her husband still hadn’t let her go. He had come back for her. Their home was on fire, and he made sure the children were safe, and then he came back for her. He cared for her. She could see it. She could feel it. She knew it.

He stopped beneath a tree, and leaned against the trunk, the last of the autumn leaves falling to their feet. She didn’t even care that the wet grass soaked through her slippers. Her husband looked at her with care and concern. She furrowed her brow as her own emotions bubbled beneath the surface.

“You aren’t afraid of death, are you?” she asked.

His eyes widened.

“Because that was a pretty death-defying thing to do… coming back in to rescue me.”

“My Bella… my…my…rose…” he caressed her cheek, the tears spiking his eyelashes. “I’ve been a fool…” he whipped his head away. “I’m so sorry, Bella.”

“Shh…” she reached for his hand. “I’m alive. I’m okay. You rescued me.”

His shoulders trembled and she leaned forward into his embrace.

“I’m okay,” she whispered as she tackled him, enveloping the man in her arms as she surrendered to her overwhelming desire to kiss him.

His lips engulfed her own, and they created their own little inferno beneath the golden-red maple tree. She kissed him as she never had before, with fierce abandon, the kiss of a woman who recognized this man cared for her more deeply than she could have imagined. He returned her passion with a fervor of his own, the kiss of a man desperate for her presence and thirsty for her affection. When they broke touch simultaneously, they both gasped for air, shaking in wonder, and stared deeply into one another’s eyes as if nothing else in the world had existed for that brief moment save the two of them. And she knew. Bella cast her eyes to the ground, feeling happy for the first time in a long while. She knew in the depths of her being…

Someone cleared their throat, and they both turned to see a paramedic standing nearby.

“Are you the owners?” the woman asked.

“Yes,” Mortimer coughed, and straightened the lapel of his coat one-handedly.

“The fire chief would like to see you,” the paramedic said. “And I am here to check you out…” she nodded to Bella.

“Right,” Bella replied, and looked at her husband who looked momentarily worried. “Go. I’ll be fine,” she assured.

Her heart leaped as he squeezed her hand and mouthed three little words before walking away. I love you. 

Newlywed Years, Episode 31, Truth (LVB)

Emit approached Lee’s car, leaned his arm against the roof of the car, and tapped the glass with Bella’s keys. His roommate and friend rolled down the window.

“Special delivery,” he said with a bright smile.

He could see Bella in the passenger seat visibly relax as she saw him. He liked that he had that effect on her. He liked a lot of things about this woman.

“Thanks, Emit,” Lee replied. “You headed back?”

“I have the evening free. You are not aware of the fire station policy? Twenty-four hours on, forty-eight hours off,” Emit shrugged.

“Naw… I’m aware, buddy,” Lee chuckled, patting Emit on the shoulder, before glancing over at Bella. “You ready to go inside?”

Bella edged out of the car with a tense look as if she wanted to be inside as quickly as possible.

“Absolutely,” she bobbed her head up and down in fast, quick movements.

Forty- five minutes later,  Emit tried to distract himself in his attic apartment. He didn’t realize he was pacing back and forth on the three hundred square foot floor until his roommate’s mother tapped the ceiling with her cane and screeched at him. Plopping down on the couch, he decided he needed to pick an activity. He was too wide awake to sleep, despite feeling tired. If he did sleep, he would only dream about a lovely vision in red, a vision that didn’t belong to him.

Emit knew he had to stay away from Bella. She was like a sweet nectar to his thirsty soul. But she was married. And in this world, marriage meant something. She had done a ceremony and signed a contract and wore a ring. Yet he knew for a fact that neither Mortimer nor Bella loved one another. How long could a marriage without love last? Not long, he assumed, and yet he had a feeling Bella wouldn’t leave her husband out of obligation.

Picking up the television remote, he clicked a button and perused the channels.There was nothing but game shows, talk shows, and soap operas on in the middle of the day. He wanted to get his mind off a certain lady, but her face popped up on the screen – a rerun of last season’s Specific Hospital episode where Bella danced with a handsome doctor in the supply closet.

Jealousy pricked his heart as he saw the woman he loved kissing another man. How was it fair that she was married and yet it was permissible to kiss a movie co-star, and yet she couldn’t kiss him? He touched his chapped lips almost absently, wishing for her taste once again.

Gah! Leaping to his feet, he clicked the television set off at its source. With one hand, he balanced on the edge of the device and with the other, he raked his hair. He realized he sounded like a lovelorn puppy, and he supposed if he looked in the mirror, he would look like the sad kitten he rescued from an elm tree in the park the other day. Bella Bachelor Goth was not his, and yet he was bound to her for eternity. He couldn’t change this fact, and yet he wished he could. He wished he had locked the door to the bathroom that day. He wished he had grabbed a towel and wrapped it around himself. And yet even as he thought these things, he knew he was asking for the impossible. According to his world’s traditions, he would be bound to her, even if he chose to ignore her gesture. A woman’s actions were prime over his own wishes.

He needed to speak with her. He knew that. He needed to set some sort of boundaries to protect them both. He couldn’t risk compromising her marriage. He would never forgive himself. Emit pulled out his phone and sent Bella a text. He waited tensely, scrunching his fingers and pulling on his ear lobes as he continued to unknowingly pace across his floor until Stevia knocked her cane against the ceiling.

“Apologies, Mistress Butterworth,” he called through the heating grate.

He didn’t realize how stressed he was, until his cell phone slipped out of his hand due to his sweating palms. Retrieving the device, Emit saw that Bella had responded.

Lee’s gone. He said we should talk.

He collapsed on the couch in relief, placing a hand to his forehead. Be calm, he willed himself.

Do you wish to talk?

His fingers shook as he typed out the words. Emit grabbed his wrist with his free hand.

“Calm thyself, Emit,” he tried taking three deep breaths, and hiccuped between the last two.

The stress of this binding would kill him, he feared.

Yes, I’ll make us something to eat.

Emit couldn’t contain his excitement. Walking to his closet, he opened and surveyed his clothes. He debated switching his outfit into something more fancy, but then realized this was a silly notion. Bella had already seen him earlier and may wonder why he changed.  This is not, as the Sims would call it, a date, he reminded himself. Even so, he elected to freshen his cologne before finally walking downstairs.

Bella walked into the entryway, carrying a tray with a black bean chili, tossed spinach salad, and a package of crackers. Even if it had only been a few hours since their last meeting, Emit could feel his heart pounding as he was delighted to see her.

“I made soup and salad,” she said quietly. “I hope you don’t mind. Lee was nice to loan me his kitchen… and uh… loan us his living room to talk.”

“Yes, he is nice indeed,” Emit skipped the last two steps with a silly grin on his face.

She made a face, continuing past him into the living area.

“You can’t look at me like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like you’re in love with me.”

Oh but he was! He could not help his feelings. He could not help his desires. He loved her, and he was certain she loved him too, but she was more restricted than he was. Emit coughed awkwardly to regain his composure, and plucked the tray of food from Bella. When they reached the small table near the window, he set the tray down, and pulled out her chair like a gentleman.

“Thank you,” she smiled.

Emit scooped chili into a bowl and set it in front of Bella.

“You could have requested my assistance with dinner,” he remarked.

“I didn’t think you’d come,” she sighed, poking her fork at the salad. “You took awhile.”

He reached for her hands. He could smell the freshly grated garlic on her fingers as he lifted them to his lips and kissed each one. She didn’t flinch, but she flushed a deeper shade of red than the one she was wearing.

“Milady, I will always come,” he said suavely, making direct eye contact. “I would love to assist you with anything you might ask.”

“Emit,” she giggled awkwardly and cleared her throat. “You can’t do this to me. We’re next to a window…” she sank down in her seat, bringing her bowl of chili to her mouth. “I…”

He laid a hand across his chest and bowed his head. “My apologies for my tardiness. You make me nervous and so I had to think through the motions before I arrived downstairs.”

She clucked her tongue. “Emit, you say the oddest things.”

“I hope that pleases you.”

“It does,” she replied, her eyes twinkling. “Your honesty is refreshing.”

“I take it Mortimer is not honest, then?”

Bella’s face darkened, and Emit immediately regretted his words.

“Forgive me, milady.”

“No,” she sighed as her shoulders slumped. “I… he is honest… to a point… um… it’s hard to explain. He has not lied to me, though I don’t always know what he is thinking.”

“Ask me anything,” Emit said, perking up in his chair.

“What?” she narrowed her eyes.

“You may ask me whatever you wish. What I am thinking, I will tell you,” Emit clarified.

Bella shook her head. “Emit, it doesn’t work like that. I mean… I am a married woman. And I know we spend time together… as friends…but we cannot be more. I need him.”

“And yet you love me,” Emit exclaimed, setting his fork down on the table so suddenly that Bella jumped, startled. “I know you would rather be with me. I can sense it. I can hear your thoughts, Bella.”

“That’s not fair,” she shoved her chair back from the table. “I can barely read yours,” she strained, her skin scrunching between her eyebrows.

“It is because I am Xekzo and you are supernatural,” he caressed her forehead, and she flinched. “I will teach you.”

“I don’t even… know you… not really…” her voice cracked. “I mean… Lee just told me today that you’re his college roommate. You’re a lawyer, Emit? And a fire fighter? An over-achiever, huh?” she chuckled wistfully, and then frowned. “And your name isn’t really Emit?”

Emit reached for her hand once more, but she jerked back. He sighed.

“I attended university with Lee Butterworth before I was recalled home. I did not tell you before because I did not think it relevant.”

“Everything is relevant,” she said, exasperated.

“My name is Nediti Reser of the House of Reser. I do not use my name often because I am hiding from my family as you well know,” he explained.

“But you hid your real name from me,” Bella cried out. “You can’t tell me you love me, and then not tell me your name.”

“Bella, I did not realize that my name would mean so much to you,” Emit felt physically pained as he clutched his chest. “Only Lee knows. I pledge to you. He is the only one who knows my real name. I have not entrusted my real name to another. I do not want my family to know I am here. You have no idea what the queens are capable of, Bella. I did not tell you because I wanted to protect you.”

“You say that a lot,” she twisted her lower lip. “And yet… I…worry…”

“That I will leave you?” Emit shook his head. “Never.”

“No,” she paused, and fiddled with her wedding ring. “I… worry that… well,  you can’t protect me. Not from everything. And the truth is… I am worried because… I’m falling in love with you…” she whipped her eyes up to his own. “And that scares the hell out of me, Emit. It scares the hell out of me!” her voice squeaked. “I… I am a wife to a powerful man… a man I need to keep my medicine so I don’t go crazy. I am a mother. I have two children. I cannot just leave them. I have a career and a home and a family already. I don’t need to covet what I can never have. It doesn’t do us any good.”

Emit pushed his chair back, and knelt on the floor next to Bella, clasping her small Simmian hands between his pale and ice-cold ones, exhaled heavily, and then bowed his head.

“Bella, I swore to be at your side for eternity. I care more for you than I know how to contain within my being. I would rather serve in your town and be near for you to call for the rest of my life than spend another day without you. I know it is not what either of us want, but you say the word, and I will take a step back and know my place, but…” he lifted his eyes with anticipation. “Say the word, and I will do more… be more… I will be for you and with you always, my darling, however you wish me to be. And I will wait for you. I will wait for you forever, my Bella, if only to be with you from a distance.”

Before he could fully process what was happening, Bella pressed her lips into his own, and kissed him fiercely. He returned her affection by cupping her face with his hands.  She cradled his neck with her arms and slipped her fingers into his hair.  He had so missed her with ever fiber of his being. Emit could feel his heart swelling with emotions. Hot tears pricked his eyelid corners.

“Are you crying?” she whispered.

“I am in love, my Bella, these are happy tears,” he assured her.

“We can’t do this… not like this… not like…” she pulled back, dropping her hands into her lap. “I spoke with Lee.”

“And?” he asked eagerly.

“I am working through some things. I need to go to Simspania for my abuelo’s funeral in a few days, and then speak with his lawyers, but I think…” she bit her lower lip, a spark igniting in her eye, a spark that gave him hope. “…I think I may have a way for us to be together.”


Author Note: For the record, this wasn’t what I intended to write when I started this chapter, but then I got carried away and let it be. Emit Relevart’s name in the Swedish version of the game is Nediti Reser according to Sims Wikia, so I used it as his “real name.” Hope you enjoyed. 

Newlywed Years, Episode 30, Fears (LVB)

After ascertaining there was minimal damage to his rear bumper, Lee helped Bella into the passenger side of his car, and rounded to the driver’s side. Turning over the engine, he glanced over to see the woman attempt to buckle her seat belt, her hands still shaking. He reached over and plugged the end into place.

“There,” he remarked, as he pulled away from the parking spot. “And Ned will follow us as soon as he calls in and takes the afternoon off. Unless you would prefer him to drive your car home.”

“No,” Bella said, her eyelashes fluttering down. “It’s best if he leaves my car at your house.”

The tires crunched over the ice and gravel of the alleyway. Lee looked both ways before pulling onto the road, and stopped at the next intersection of Main and Oak Streets. As he waited for the light to change to green, he glanced over at Bella.

“You can stop staring at me, you know. I am alright,” she said, leaning her elbow against the car door, and staring out the window. “I’m really sorry about your bumper.”

“It’s okay,” he replied, clicking his turn signal and making a right on red, deciding to avoid waiting. “Your car looks like it might have more damage.”

“Or that telephone pole does…” she grunted. “It was teetering.”

“I called the electric company after talking with the police,” Lee explained as they drove past the city’s one and only Carrie-Okie Club, the building lined with lights, on the left and the Greasy Spoon Diner, with the paper turkeys and pumpkins hanging in the front windows, on the right before stopping at another intersection. “They will come out immediately and repair the damage. I’m more concerned about you. And your grandfather. Are you really all right?”

“No,” she choked back a cry. “I will miss him terribly. I was just so surprised when I got the call that I wasn’t watching…where I was going… I mean…what I was doing… oh abuelo! I will miss him. He was the only Bachelor that understood me.”

Lee frowned as a group of teenagers only early leave from school raced into the street in the crosswalk just as the light changed to green. “Not your parents?”

“No,” Bella whispered, unbuttoning her coat as the heat of the engine finally warmed the cab. “I mean, we’re not close at all. You know they arranged my marriage to Mortimer, right?”

“No, I didn’t know,” Lee blanched. “An arranged marriage, huh? That explains some things. And Ned… he is one of those things, isn’t he?”

Bella flushed three times the shade of her red dress. “I’m…I’m…I’m….an attrac… attract… attractive woman…” she sputtered, and hiked her chin in the air. “…I deserve to be happy.”

“Bella, as your attorney, I can advise you about many things, but your affair isn’t one of them,” Lee said quietly.

“I’m not having an affair with Em…I mean… Ned!” Bella protested heatedly. “We had a fling in college. That’s all.”

“Is it?”

They left downtown and continued onto the streets of suburbia. Bella shoved her hands in her pockets almost angrily.

“Speaking of college, how is it that you are Em…uh…Ned’s roommate? He went to Uni with me…and he went to university with you? How is that possible?” she asked. “I mean, no offense, Lee, but you aren’t exactly my age.”

“Ned isn’t either of our ages,” Lee said, evading the initial question. “He is much older, though his people age at a different rate.”

“You know?” she gasped.

“Yes,” he replied, stopping to let a truck back out of the Pleasantview Junk Stop.

“How? You still haven’t answered my question.”

“This isn’t the first time Ned has gone to college,” Lee replied. “He… he should probably tell you himself, but a decade ago, two men went to Simlane University Law School. One was a bumbling aging individual trying to find a new career after a mid-life crisis…er…” he laughed nervously. “Myself… and the other was a bright, genius individual, granted a little eccentric…”

“Emit went to law school?” Bella exclaimed. “I mean, Ned…wait…” she narrowed her eyes. “Is it Ned or Emit?”

“Emit is the name he chose…his Simlish name,” Lee explained. “And Ned…is the nickname for his given name.”

“Oh I see,” Bella slouched in the seat, feeling tired.

All this time she had loved Emit, she had asked little about his people or his past. She knew from high school civics class that the Xenosi lived for long periods of time, much longer than the average Sim. No one knew for certain how long. It was possible Emit… or Ned… or whatever his name was… had attended university more than once. Lee had just confirmed. However, Bella still wondered why. She also wondered why Emit hadn’t told her before. Bella stared out the window at the snow-covered trees and the fat flakes falling from the sky to blanket the ground. Why didn’t I ever ask him? Her university days felt so long ago, even though a mere — years had passed. She felt like an old married woman, and despite all the time she had spent with Emit, and continued to spend with him, she still knew little about him. How can he stand being near me? she thought with dismay. She was an infinitely selfish woman.

“So Emit… Ned…” Bella cleared her throat. “…he…and I… I mean…”

“Bella, I know,” Lee interjected softly.

“What? You do? How?” Bella gasped.

“As your attorney,” Lee began as he pulled into his driveway. “I can only advise you on legal matters and your affairs are your own. However… as your friend…” he turned off the engine. “I can tell you that you do deserve to be happy, but you need to be smart about things. Do you wish to seek a divorce from Mortimer?”

Bella’s face fell, and she twisted her hands in her lap. “I don’t know,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. “I… I’m not happy…but… Lee…” she lifted her head and stared him straight in the eye. “I am not having an affair. I’ve been faithful to my husband… in the traditional sense. If I leave him… I might lose Alexander. He’s the next heir to the Goth family. Or even Cassandra.”

Tears brimmed in her eyes. “Lee, I don’t know. I’m so unhappy. I haven’t been the greatest mother to my children, but I still bore both of them. I carried them both in my womb…” she laid her hand across her stomach. “But Mortimer will find a way to use my career and my lack of maternal instincts against me if I try and leave him. Lee, can I trust you?”

“Absolutely,” Lee plucked a tissue from the box in his glove box. “Even if Mortimer was the one who initially hired me, as far as I know, you pay me. I work for you, Bella.”

“Emit is an honorable man…” she began.

“I have no reason to doubt that,” Lee interrupted.

“Yes… but you live with him and he’s your friend and you’re my attorney so I want this out there. Emit and I are not having an affair. He is a friend… well, more than that… he’s my…” she narrowed her eyes, feeling tired and frustrated. “…it’s hard to explain. He’s got these weird notions and traditions and laws from his people and he is upstanding. He holds to his promises…” she didn’t add …to his bonds. “He made me… one of those once… in university… a promise of sorts… an oath, and so he stays.”

“We aren’t together,” she smiled sadly. “But I see him every once in awhile. Nothing serious. Just a coffee between friends or a lunch between shoots on set in Simicago or a walk along Lake Misimigan at sunset. Last week, he brought…” she laughed almost nervously. “You’re going to think it’s silly.”

“Go on,” Lee gently urged.

“…a full tea set. We had a picnic with the children in the park in St. Claire. Cassandra loves them. She plays tea party all the time. Cassie was thrilled. Emit was good to her… like she deserves… like her father should be.”

“Bella… are you saying?” Lee asked, worriedly.

“No… no…” Bella shook her head wildly. “Emit isn’t her father. And…” she trailed off, dropping her head in shame. “…Mortimer isn’t either. Actually, Lee, that’s why I came to see you. I’m having these terrifying visions… these nightmares… that my child is taken from me. That I am taken from her. In every one of these dreams, Alexander is safe… I think, well…” she chewed her lower lip. “I can’t see him. I just have this strong, aching feeling that I will never see my daughter again. That I will never be able to reach her. That she is lost to me forever.”

Lee frowned, but not because he thought his client spouted nonsense. He could sense the distress within Bella. Her emotions were palpable. He could taste the tension and whiffed the scent of fear. When she shot him an odd look, he wondered why he didn’t notice sooner.

“I know…” she laughed nervously. “I sound crazy, don’t I?”

“You sound like a mother in distress,” Lee replied, fitting the pieces together in his head.

“In my dreams, I am older, but I am writing a letter to my daughter… and I am writing to letter because I have predicted my own death,” Bella paled drastically, lifting her shaking hands to her cheeks. “I am afraid, Lee. I am afraid it will come true. I am afraid I will lose Cassie forever. She isn’t Mortimer’s child, but that’s what worries me. I want to make assurances. I want to know she will be safe. I’ve been consumed by these dreams.”

“At first, it was just at night, but now when I’m awake, I’m fixated on it. I can’t spend enough time with my child. I even turned down a lucrative movie opportunity to be near her more often. I called my grandparents and planned to take the family to Simpania for the holidays. Mortimer wasn’t going to be able to come right away, but he would join us on Christmas… he promised… but until then, I wake up and I write letters. Drafts and drafts and drafts of letters.”

“Have you seen a doctor?” Lee inquired.

“Yes, I visited my doctor, and she said that I was obsessing over a fantasy,” Bella grunted. “It’s so real, Lee. So real. I feel like my child is being ripped from my arms and I am powerless to stop it. I feel like I just willingly give my daughter away, and I don’t know why. The dream never answers things. I live a life filled with guilt, and then as I am about to die, I write this letter to my daughter. Sometimes I envision my own murder. It’s like…” she shook her head. “…it’s so distressing and disturbing and like nothing I’ve ever felt before.”

“Can I ask you a strange question?” Lee interrupted, and when Bella nodded, he continued, “Are you sleep walking?”

“Yes,” she gasped. “How did you know?”

“Because one of your letters ended up in my mailbox,” he explained.

“What?” she exclaimed, running her hands through her hair. “Oh Lee… I don’t know… maybe I am insane.”

“No, I don’t think you are,” Lee shook his head. “I think these dreams are coming to you for a reason. Maybe things aren’t clear yet, but I find dreams to be a strong indicator of emotional distress. Perhaps this is related to your reasons for seeing me.”

When Bella looked confused, he continued, “I can help you, Bella. I can, but I need you to be completely honest with me. You want to protect your daughter, right? And you say Mortimer isn’t her father? Are you afraid her real father will come and take her away?”

“Maybe,” Bella twisted her lip. “I don’t know. I just want to know my legal rights, and what I can do to protect myself and my children. Will you really help me, Lee? You don’t think I’m crazy?”

“No, Bella… I think you are right to be concerned,” Lee replied, catching sight of Emit, pulling up in Bella’s car, in his rear view mirror. “I have a feeling. I can sense things. Call it intuition or instinct, but I think you have cause to be worried, and I’m going to help you.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Bella exclaimed, reaching over to hug her attorney impulsively, and then pulled back, her brow furrowing, “Lee?”

“Yes?”

“You know, don’t you?”

“Know what?”

“You know I’m not crazy because you suffer from them sometimes too, don’t you?”

“Bella, we should go inside. It’s cold and we’ve been sitting out here much too long.”

A smile played at her lips. “You know because you are a vampire too, aren’t you?”


Author Note: Yes, Lee Butterworth is a vampire. Like their parent race, vampires have strong intuition and can sense emotions in an almost tangible form (they are empathic). Bella’s combined witch genes with her vampire genes heighten her emotional output. Witches are also know to be empaths. Bella cannot fully control her emotions when she is in a particularly stressful or traumatic situation, which is why Lee is able to sense certain things. For more on vampires, you can read my updated vampire page on my other WordPress blog. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed.

Newlywed Years, Episode 29, Distress (LVB)

It couldn’t be. It simply couldn’t be true.

Bella sat in the driver’s seat of her Scarlet Speedster, her hands trembling. Her cellular phone slid to the cab floor. The little bell was dinging to tell her that the car door was open, but she couldn’t move. She hadn’t even buckled her seat belt. ‘I’m sorry. He didn’t make it,’ echoed through her head. A small crowd had gathered around the car, but she hadn’t noticedTwo dog walkers from Woodland Park changed direction and crossed the gravel parking lot, looking suspiciously in her direction. A lanky busboy on a smoke break from Red’s Sports Bar dropped his cigarette and smashed the end with his shoe, straining his neck around the dumpster. A businesswoman carrying a briefcase whipped out her cellular phone and dialed, speaking in a rushed, yet hushed tone, probably reporting the accident. Bella dropped her head back against the seat, clutching the steering wheel.

Mrs. Goth...” the woman had said , her sympathetic tone grating on Bella’s nerves. “He listed you as the secondary contact person. We were unable to reach your father... Mrs. Goth? Are you still there, Mrs. Goth?

“Mrs. Goth?”

Bea’s voice reached into her thoughts and Bella turned her head, giving the legal assistant a confused stare. Bea had knelt down next to the vehicle, reaching for Bella’s arm.

“What happened?”

“I…” Bella whispered, trailing off.

The nurse’s words repeated over and over and over in her ears.

I’m sorry. He didn’t make it.”

This couldn’t be right. He couldn’t be gone.

Bella saw Lee moving through the crowd toward the accident. He didn’t look too pleased, but that was the least of her worries.

“He’s dead,” Bella said, staring straight ahead, her tone unnaturally flat.

“What on earth, Bella?” Lee exclaimed. “Of all the stupid…” he muttered, and then seeing Bea’s warning glance, ceased, his mouth tightening. “The police are on their way.”

“You called the police?” Bea frowned, standing up to face her boss. “On your own friend?”

“I’m an attorney,” Lee justified. “I know how these things work. Are you okay, Bella? Mrs. Goth?” he leaned his head down to face his client.

“No!” escaped Bella’s lips.

“Is she okay?” Lee sighed heavily.

“No!” Bella repeated, louder the second time.

“Could you tell me how this happened?” Lee probed.

“No!” Bella said again.

“Can you say something besides no?” Lee narrowed her eyes, exasperated with his client’s antics. “Never mind. Here comes the police. I’ll go talk to them. You…” he noticed a blue-haired firefighter rushing the side of the vehicle.

“I can handle this situation, Lee,” the man assured. “You go…”

Lee walked over to the arriving police car to have a conversation with the police. Bea stood up, and shook the hand of the off-duty firefighter responding to the scene before he laid his hand on the car roof and bent over to speak to the driver. Bea left and walked to her boss’ side. Bella could see her attorney returning in her direction. She glanced up at the sound of a familiar voice and found herself looking into a kind, but concerned face.

“My lady?” he said quietly. “Are you injured?”

Bella shook her head, confused. “You came?”

“I will always come,” Emit replied, briefly touching her arm in a tender way. “I will ask you a few questions. Are you bleeding? Can you feel all your limbs? Are you able to move your legs?”

Bella replied ‘no,’ to the first question, and ‘yes’ to the second two, but she still clung to the steering wheel as if her life depended upon it.

“You’re in shock,” he ascertained, sliding a blanket around her and tucking it around her shoulders.

She shivered, and for the first time, realized just how cold the air around them was. She released her grip on the steering wheel, and nuzzled beneath the blanket, making a mental note to purchase a warmer, more practical coat. Emit felt along her arms and legs, gently, confirming no broken bones or cuts.

“It’s scratchy,” she remarked with a small cough.

He smiled. “I am sorry. These blankets are all we are provided with at the firehouse. Next time, I will bring one personally from my home.”

“Hope…hope…hopefully…” she said, her teeth chattering.  “There will not be a next time.”

“Right,” he replied.

Lee reached the side of their vehicle. “Thanks for coming,” he said as the other man straightened to full height. “Is she okay?”

“Yes, I believe so,” Emit replied. “As best as can be expected given the circumstances. When the paramedics arrive, we can know for certain. Lee, I did not expect to see you on the job, but it is good, nonetheless, my friend. We have missed one another most mornings due to our schedules.”

“You… you two… know each other?” Bella faltered, her eyes widening.

“Why yes, Bella Goth,” Lee answered. “Ned is my college roommate.”

“Ned?” Bella pursed her lips.

“My name,” Emit confirmed, pointing to the lettering on his coat. “My given name.”

Bella frowned, feeling dizzy as she returned to resting her head against the seat. “You’re my attorney’s college roommate? But how? I don’t understand.”

Emit didn’t get a chance to answer, despite opening his mouth. Lee cut him off.

“No, what I don’t understand is how you plowed into the telephone pole and my car. Do you mind telling us what happened?”

“Lee…” Bella blubbered as she attempted to swing her legs out of the vehicle.

“Easy,” Emit urged, holding her back.

“It’s best you stay in the shelter of the car,” Lee interjected. “It’s wicked cold and icy out here. You don’t want your temperature to drop even more so.”

“In actuality, her temperature is exactly 37.6 degrees Celsius,” Emit said. “She might start sweating if her temperature increases.”

Lee narrowed his eyes and then arched a brow. “How do you know that?”

Emit reached for Bella’s wrist, feeling her pulse. “And the beating of your heart resulting in the rhythmic dilation from your arteries is quicker than normal too… breathe, Bella, breathe deeply… and slowly.”

Bella sucked in sharply and exhaled in a shaky manner. Lee scrunched his face.

“Ned, you say the oddest things,” he remarked.

“I have a thermometer in my pack if you wish me to test her temperature,” Emit turned and motioned to the bright orange bag on the roof.

“Exactly 37.6 degrees Celsius?”

“Yes, or 99.68 degrees Fahrenheit.”

“You’re the EMT. I trust you.”

Emit smirked. “Suit yourself.”

Bella felt the tears welling in her eyes, and splash her cheeks. Their voices sounded far away. Emit, or Ned, as he was calling himself, was good to come. She figured his special abilities made it so he knew her temperature. He handed her a bottle of water. She drank eagerly, and she could hear the sound of the water splashing down her throat.

While the sirens had ceased screeching, the red lights atop the police car flashed. She could hear her heart pounding. She could hear the snow and ice crunching beneath the feet of the passerbyers. She could smell Emit’s familiar aftershave. Usually the sweet pineapple, cool menthol, and hints of basil brightened her mood, but now, she just felt nauseous. He had insisted on purchasing the bottle once when they were in the pharmacy together in college after she had explained what the liquid was and why men used it. She could still see the smile on his face when he used it for the first time and asked her to sniff him, and then told her she sniffed like a shy person. On his home planet, if a man invited a woman to share his scent, this was an invitation to… well… more… she remembered.

She could hear the ticking of Lee’s wristwatch, the seconds going by. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Taunting her. The words of the nurse. He didn’t make it. Her senses were overwhelmed. As if he knew, Emit removed his glove, and squeezed her hand, and she felt a soothing aura flood her veins. Her supernatural genes had kicked her into survival mode and then overload. At the touch of Emit’s skin, her breathing evened out, her temperature stabilized, and she re-entered the realm of a normal Sim’s awareness. The only thing that did not change was the wild pounding of her heart… oddly enough, but she had a feeling that was because Emit was still holding her hand.

“Bella?” Lee said her name, the worried look permanently plastered across his face at this point.

Mi abuelo está muerto,” Bella finally admitted.

Momentarily stunned, Lee blinked rapidly. “What? Your grandfather?”

“Yes, my paternal grandfather is dead…” Bella forced the words out. “I used to spend summers with them… my grandparents… in Simspania. We…”

Emit clasped her hand, and placed his other, still-gloved hand over top. His rain-colored eyes filled with sadness and sympathy. All she wanted was to embrace the man, but she refrained and cleared her throat.

“…we were close. We’ve been writing letters… back and forth…for years. Mortimer…” Bella forced herself to focus on Lee even though she could see a shadow cross Emit’s face at the mention of her husband. “…and I were supposed to take the children to Simspania at Christmas to see abuelo and abuela. Emiliano… that’s my abuelo… had never met Alexander.”

“I’m so sorry,” Lee sighed, removing his glasses and wiping the lens on his sleeve before replacing them on the bridge of his nose. “I…”

“Somebody called for a paramedic?” a voice interrupted the conversation, and he turned to see the other emergency medical personnel who had finally arrived on scene.

“Yes, but Ned checked her out. I think she’s okay,” Lee explained as the police approached.

Bella gave her statement, and Lee assured the officers and his client that he wouldn’t be pressing charges. Emit stayed nearby, talking with another paramedic, but within earshot. Bella felt safe knowing he was nearby. Once the police collected the information they needed, and verbally confirmed that the driver who caused the accident and the other vehicle owner would settle matters for themselves, they left the scene.

“Lee, will you drive Bella home,” Emit said as he approached, tossing the car keys to the attorney. “I will follow you.”

“Is that such a good idea?” Lee frowned.

“No…” Bella protested. “I don’t want to go home. Please… Lee… can I… stay here? Or anywhere, really? I just don’t want to go home.”

“Okay,” Lee agreed, running his hand along his hairline. “Should I call Mortimer?”

“No, he’s in meetings all day today. I’ll tell him tonight,” she replied, gaining her bearings as she stood. “Am I clear to leave?” she glanced at the paramedics.

“You seem fine to us,” both medical technicians confirmed, packing up their kit.

“Lee?” Bella glanced hopefully at her attorney.

“Well, I suppose, I could…” he began slowly, but Bea returned to the scene, waving her arms from across the alley.

“I cancelled all your afternoon appointments,” she said, much too cheerily.

“What?” he exclaimed, and then relaxed. “How did you know?”

“I just did,” Bea said, winking at Bella. “Besides, Mrs. Goth needs you…” she reached for Emit’s arm and squeezed lightly. “Both of you.”

“I suppose I could take a leave of absence for the remainder of the afternoon ,” Emit shrugged, patting Bea’s arm in return.

“I restocked your kitchen with most excellent tea,” Bea said. “I recommend the chamomile for the soothing effect, Mrs. Goth. And there is honey in the second drawer next to the fridge,” she turned to Bella. “I am sorry to hear about your grandfather. If there’s anything you need, just holler… I have my cell on me…” she began walking briskly down the alleyway as she shivered and slide her nose into her scarf. “Have a good afternoon everyone.”

“Wait… what? Bea? Where are you going?” Lee called after his assistant, exasperated.

“I walked today,” Bea replied.

“In this weather?”

“Snow is glorious…” the woman spun in a circle, stretching her arms to the sky. “There’s ice skating at Melody Park. See ya, Mr. Butterworth.”

“Blasted crazy woman!” Lee muttered beneath his breath before turning to Bella, and interlocking arms with his friend. “Well, you heard my assistant. Tea and honey it is.”


Author Note: Just for the record, I changed Milton Bachelor’s name to Emiliano as it sounded more Spanish. Hope you enjoyed. 🙂

Interlude: Recovery [Emit] (LVB)

Exhaustion threatened to devour him as he stepped inside the firehouse. Emit needed to remove all the heavy gear as each piece seemed to cause his aching muscles to disintegrate. On this planet, he wasn’t as strong as on his home world, and he became fatigued much more easily in the higher gravity environment of Simterra. Typically, he did not mind as he could simply train harder, but today had been one of the worst days he could remember.

The scene was still fresh in his head. He couldn’t close his eyes without hearing the screams of the trapped victims and the smoke hissing defiantly. The damage to the building had been extensive, and it was clear that next to nothing would be salvageable. It had been a hopeless situation from the beginning. The call to the dispatch had come too late. The building was already almost entirely consumed with blazing inferno when the first company arrived. As his crew had been called to the neighboring town to assist, the smoke choked any survivors who managed to escape the scalding, angry flames. The death count was eleven so far, but only seven had been identified.

It was days like today that made Emit Relevart wonder whether or not being a firefighter was for him. He had only been a firefighter a year, but already he was thinking about quitting. I cannot do that, he thought. He had made a commitment. He was bound to Bella, even if she had chosen another. He picked this profession so he could be close. He had to remain near should she call… should she need him… should I need her. 

Emit shook his head and pulled his firefighter’s scarf from his neck and wiped his face. Black ash streaked his skin and mingled with his sweat. He couldn’t understand his emotions. Feelings were not encouraged among the men of his world as they unduly complicated things. One might hear rare stories of romance, but a couple in love was the exception rather than the norm.

When he first arrived on this planet, he thought a degree in political science and law would assist his cause. He had been a young, well, young for his world, man, naive and idealistic, hoping his education and skills would help him to negotiate on behalf of his people, to bring about peace between the two sides of the civil war, and broker an understanding with the other races like the Sims. Emit studied negotiation and conflict resolution as an undergraduate, and then worked his way through law school. He was a quick study, and his excellent memory and genetic advantages made school a breeze for him.

Then the Xenosi attacked the Great Southern Air Force Base, less than three months after he received his degree. He nearly gave up hope. His queens recalled him from Simterra, and he was forced to return home. They had a plan,and their plan did not involve peace. Emit struggled with his calling, having found a “better way,” in his opinion and experience off world. As an adviser to the royal court and a member of the sovereign family of Xenosa, Emit had no choice but to serve his sisters.

And yet as the wars continued to rage, and his family grew divided on their reasons for their cause, Emit became more and more disenfranchised. He questioned his purpose. Why go to Simterra? Why live among the people? Why study their ways and learn their customs and look like them? If only to gain a tactical advantage when the Birth Queen, Ai’nam, attacked the planet? If only for her twin sister, At’rom to continue a campaign of terror? He did their bidding, but then choose a different path. He would return to Simterra and spend the remainder of his days in self-imposed exile.

Emit returned to the planet of Sims, chose a degree in the nonthreatening, environmental science, and settled into life as a student once more. He had been happy as a student before. It would be easy for him. And yet this time, he encountered suspicion and prejudice, discrimination, violence, and hatred. There were some Sims who distrusted anyone who was different, and he certainly was not a normal Sim. He created a back story, gained proper documentation, changed his name, adapted his image, and they still were suspicious. Only one person treated him as something more. He never expected to find a love. And he had chosen his career path so he could remain close to love, so he could fulfill his duty as her deval’le’ac, her protector. That was a mission he could not fail.

And yet today, he felt as defeated as when he was recalled to Xenosa. He was unable to save those people, the ones who had died in the apartment fire in Harmony. Somehow the deaths were more real to Emit than just a list of names. He had seen faces that belonged to those names, or the remains of them.  “This is what keeps us going,” his captain had said. “We work to keep days like this from happening.” Keeps us going? The words echoed in Josh’s brain. We failed, did we not? There had been nothing left.

Emit cleaned up, trying to avoid consuming all the hot water in the firehouse showers. He combed his hair, shaved his five o’clock shadow, and changed into civilian clothes. As he walked down the stairs heavily, he popped a piece of gum in his mouth. He hoped the minty freshness would erase the taste of smoke in his teeth. He clocked out, and poked his head in his boss’ office to tell the captain he wasn’t sticking around for the firehouse dinner. Somehow four-alarm chili didn’t sound appetizing even if his stomach was growling. Forty-eight hours on call was stressful enough. Eating a meal with his colleagues, as nice as they were, meant loud, boisterous conversation, and he merely wanted to be alone. It was the middle of the day, so one of his roommates would be at work, and the other was most likely at her garden club meeting at the Arboretum Society. He waved to his colleagues as the shift changed. His colleague, Maura Simpson tried to convince him to stay, if only for a slice of her famous jalapeño and honey cornbread.

“Duty calls,” he lifted the file the fire captain, Goopy GilsCarbo, handed him. “I need to drop this reference off at the civic center dispatch office.”

“Reference?” Maura repeated.

“Yeah, the chief’s niece wants to work at the dispatch office so he wrote a recommendation for her,” Emit explained.

“Can’t it wait, Relevart?” another firefighter, Mitch Lawson, grinned as he placed Emit in a playful head lock. “I’d like to challenge our reigning champ to a push-ups contest after dinner.”

“I am tired,” Emit sighed, wriggling out from Mitch’s grasp without any effort. “Perhaps LeTourneau will take my place,” he nodded to the third firefighter.

“Naw, man, thanks, I’ll pass,” Neil LeTourneau winced as Mitch punched the man’s shoulder. “I’d like to stay upright during my shift.”

“My chili isn’t that bad,” Maura made a mock-pout before turning back to Emit. “We’ll miss you.”

“You’re heading to the civic center?” Neil interjected. “Please say hello to my sister.”

“Don’t sleep too long, dude,” Mitch laughed, pulling a football from within his jacket. “I need to challenge you to something. Maybe you can come back tomorrow and we can toss the ole ball around or something?”

“You will be too busy working, Lawson,” Emit reminded the jovial man. “When our shifts line up, and we are both off duty at the same time… I will…” he trailed off, trying to recall the correct terminology. “…toss the ole ball around… and I will tackle you to the ground.”

“You’re on, Relevart!” Mitch grinned, pointing two of his fingers in Emit’s direction. “And you’re going down…” he laughed.

I hope not, Emit sighed as he walked away. Going down was never pleasant. He walked to his truck and drove the few blocks to the civic center. He plunked a coin or two in the parking meter and didn’t even bother buttoning his coat as he walked up the steps. The chilled air felt good. Late fall and winter temperatures on Simterra did not bother him as he was accustomed to worse on his home planet and on Orb. He held the door open for a woman carrying packages and then entered the building. Walking across the hallway, he took the stairs as opposed to the elevator to the third floor. The enclosed space of an elevator made him nervous and as a firefighter, he felt he should always be prepared.

Zero-zero-zero, what’s your emergency?”

Emit stepped into the office of the city dispatch. Only two ladies sat at the back desks answering calls. Everyone else must have been on a late lunch. He smiled pleasantly as he approached the front desk.

“Ms. LeTourneau?” he greeted.

“Oh,” she looked up from her paperwork, startled. “Emit, you can call me Brandi…” she said shyly, a hint of pink breaching her cheeks.

“Ms. Brandi,” he replied politely. “The captain asked me to pass along this information to the office manager.”

“That would be me,” Brandi LeToureneau stood, taking the envelope, and filing it in a nearby cabinet. “The captain would like his niece to work here. I’ll read it later. I have to know how this novel ends…” she flushed once more. “I mean… I’m in the middle of this important work here.”

“Quiet day?” Emit supposed, leaning casually against the desk.

“Yes, um… uh…” she stammered. “I really am just reading until Marylena returns with our lunch,” she nodded back to the women behind her. “Someone has to stay and hold down the fort.”

“Fort?” Emit repeated, bewildered. “Is this building a fort? I did not realize it needed humans to hold it in place?”

Brandi scrunched her face and laughed awkwardly. “It’s just an expression, Emit.”

“Brandi?” one of the ladies interrupted. “There is a car accident in the alley behind Red’s Sports Bar. Lee Butterworth reported the incident involving Bella Goth. I notified the police. Should I contact fire and paramedics?”

“Bella Goth?” Emit straightened so quickly he knocked over the canister of writing implements. “I will go. You said the accident is behind the sports bar?”

“You’re off duty,” Brandi said. “We can forward the call to the firehouse.”

“No, I will go,” Emit insisted, picking up the items he dropped, clearing his throat. “Lee is a friend and my roommate.”

“Are you sure?” the lady looked at Brandi and then at Emit as she scribbled information down on a piece of paper.

“Emit, you look exhausted. Go home and slee…” Brandi suggested, but Emit cut her off, holding up his hand.

“Please… the situation is personal.”


Author Note: Forever back in the day, I watched a movie where one of the characters pretended to be a lawyer and a firefighter. Oh sure, it’s unrealistic, but Emit’s people live for thousands of years so anything is possible. Plus he wanted to remain close to Bella for obvious reasons. Hope you enjoyed!

Newlywed Years, Episode 28, Ticket (LVB)

How could you do this to me?”

Lee Butterworth closed the file on his desk and looked up at a flustered Bella Bachelor Goth.

“Hello Mrs. Goth,” he smiled. “Did you have a nice drive?”

Bella made a face as she plopped in the chair across from his view. “What? No. I didn’t have a nice drive. There’s snow everywhere, and the stop light at the intersection just down from you is out again, and the police haven’t arrived to direct traffic. Why did you ask that?”

“Because it’s polite to greet people first,” Lee replied, shifting his glasses on his nose.

“Right,” she nodded, and took a deep breath. “Hello, Mr. Butterworth… Lee… and… well, we’ve known each other long enough now that you can call me Bella.”

“Bella,” he repeated, folding his hands on the desk. “What can I do for you?”

She slammed a piece of paper on the desk. “You can explain this… my speeding ticket. How come it didn’t go away?”

Lee cleared his throat. “When you break the law, you have to own up to the consequences, Bella. If you get caught, it doesn’t simply…” he sighed. “… go away.”

“This is because I was in your vehicle,” Bella said, exasperated as she threw her hands up in the air and began pacing in his ninety-square foot office. “How will this look, hmm?” she glared in his direction, and he narrowed his eyes as he straightened in his chair to match her intensity. “Maribella Bachelor Goth, wife of Mortimer Goth, top senior…” she punctuated her words. “…executive at Midwestern Mutual Accounting and Finance…the one who makes all the money…” she sounded almost resentful as she bit out her last few words. “…and enables my little acting career… ” her expression soured even more.

“Bella…” Lee tried to interject, and motioned for her to sit back down.

The woman kept pacing, her knee-high red boots leaving little puddles of water from the melted snow in her tread.

“…the one who helps me pay for the policeman’s charity ball… the one that’s coming up in three…” her voice was positively shrill at this point. “…three weeks…” she held up three fingers. “And I…the organizer of said ball… that benefits our men and women in blue… got a speeding ticket…” she lowered her voice to an almost frenzied whisper. “…in my attorney’s car?”

“Bella,” Lee closed his eyes. “Sit down.”

“Why?” she squeaked.

“Because you’ll make bears nervous,” he teased.

“Bears?” Bella clutched the collar of her black, button-down coat and promptly adhered to his request. “There are no bears…” she narrowed her eyes. “…in Pleasantview.”

“No, but it’s…” Lee sighed. “It’s just an expression. You are a formidable woman.”

“I wish Mortimer thought that,” Bella said, sounding defeated as she scrunched the ends of her red leather gloves. “Seriously, Lee. It’s going to look bad that I was in your car when I got the speeding ticket.”

“You needed a vehicle that day,” he shrugged casually.

“But…but…” Bella protested. “It’s not so much that it’s your vehicle…” she frowned. “Well it is, but it isn’t…” she shook her head. “It’s because of where I was when I got the speeding ticket.”

“I am fully aware of where it was,” he said, his face expressionless.

“What are people going to think?” Bella shrieked.

“That you borrowed my car and you were in that part of town, and that you weren’t paying attention and were driving too fast,” Lee explained. “What else would they think?”

Bella scowled, and crossed her arms like a petulant child.

“And now they are going to think you are an upstanding citizen who pays her fines to the city of Pleasantview,” he added, pushing the ticket in her direction.

“Gah! You’re impossible!” she stood up, refusing to take the paper, and flounced from the room, making sure to slam the door with a flourish.

Lee sighed, wondering how much he could really do to convince a grown woman, his client and friend, to pay up what she owed. He moved the file containing the dissolution of marriage from his desk into a stack a identical folders. With the way Bella stormed out of the office, he knew she wouldn’t return to discuss the contents of that particular folder, so he might as well move on to lunch and then other cases.

He stood up, grabbed his jacket from the coat rack, wrapped his scarf around his neck and proceeded to check the time from the clock on the wall. He had just enough time for a late lunch before his next appointment. A loud noise sounded in the alley below, and he popped over to the frosted window to see if he could decipher what happened. Whatever it was, it was beyond his view. He was about to leave the office when his assistant knocked on the door and followed by poking her head into the room.

“Um boss?” she said, hesitantly.

“Yes, Bea.”

“It’s Bell…uh… Mrs. Goth. She backed into the telephone pole behind the building.”

He pinched the bridge of his nose. This day was turning out worse than expected.

“And…” Bea winced. “She hit your back bumper.”

Much worse. 

 

Newlywed Years, Episode 27, Letter (LVB)

My darling daughter,

If you are reading this, I suppose I am dead.  I had hoped very deeply that before this day I would meet you.

“That’s it?”

Attorney Lee Butterworth snatched the shakily handwritten note on a sheet of legal paper from his assistant’s hands. That couldn’t be all the letter said. He couldn’t believe what a nightmare of a morning it had become. From oversleeping to forgetting his lunch to spilling his coffee on his new starched shirt, this day was filled with one disaster after another. In court this morning, he had nearly lost a major case and then spoke with the television reporters outside regarding the lawsuit he had just barely won with a stain on his clothes and spinach in his teeth. He could just picture the headline on the newspapers tomorrow morning. Small town cheap gossip! He felt a headache growing behind his pupils. And now his assistant had arrived with this morning’s mail and a clean shirt, and this note was lying on the top of the pile.

“Ah, no, it’s signed...your mother,” his assistant corrected as she pursed her much-too-purple lips, the color of grape Zest powdered punch.

Lee placed his hand on her forehead and dropped the letter at her side. Seeing the look of curiosity on his assistant’s face, his eyes widened.

“Bea, you know as well as I do that this letter is not for me. My mother has arthritis in both of her knees and she’s sitting at home, I can guarantee you. I just gave Stevia her pills this morning.”

“I know it’s not for you,” Bea Honeywell smirked as she settled into the client chair on the other side of his desk. “But it does make you wonder whom it was meant for.”

Lee arched a brow in annoyance. “Bea, I don’t have time to play detective. I’ve got pages and pages of notes from the Bremmer case and then there’s the Goth account I need to…”

“…but that’s what you have a legal assistant for,” Bea interrupted, much too cheerily. “Plus…” she leaned in excitedly. “…I could give old Flatfoot a ring and see what I can dig up about this letter.”

Lee grunted. Six months ago he had been desperate for an assistant. No one wanted to come and work for a lawyer in Pleasantview, Misimigan. It wasn’t like the town was out in the middle of no where, but when the only thing the city is really known for is a soapy television opera that had been on the air for way too many seasons, people didn’t exactly flock to the town to work in a cramped, single-window office above a noisy sports bar where the sunlight peeked through and rain dripped through the cracks in the leaky roof, especially for an balding attorney past his prime, who lost more cases than he won. Honestly, landing the Goths as clients was a lifesaver for his one-man show.Thanks to Bea’s connections with a golfing buddy of Gunther Goth, Sr., Lee had gotten the job. Even if his assistant was rather unorthodox, she was useful.

Bea Honeywell looked good on paper, even if she didn’t have a whole lot of experience. She sounded smart, competent, and funny when he had interviewed her over the phone. When he had checked her references, all her former employers spoke highly of her, though some mentioned she was somewhat eccentric with some quirky habits that are quickly overlooked by her charm. When she arrived in his office for the first time, Lee assumed she was a client.

He never expected his legal assistant to be a tall, blue-haired young woman, fresh out of law school, with an idealistic “rose-colored-glasses” view of the world, who wore crazy colored lipsticks and much too bright clothing for the serious tone he hoped to achieve for the office. The only reason he kept her on was because he hadn’t been able to acquire an intern or a secretary for the last two years, much less an actual law school graduate. Well, that, and she had an exceptional memory, Lee thought as he took off his glasses, blew hot breath, and cleaned the lens with his plaid handkerchief.

Somehow when she needed a place to stay, he couldn’t turn down his employee in need. His house was already feeling like Superb Central Station with his mother on the main floor and his college roommate in the attic apartment and his mother’s string of gentleman callers who typically stayed in the guest house. Now that Bea had moved into the adjacent cottage, he had the perfect excuse to tell Stevia that her male friends couldn’t stay the night. And Bea was much more attentive and neat than his mother’s boyfriends ever were.

“We don’t need to employ a private investigator,” Lee sighed. “This is hardly anything to go on.”

“You never know,” Bea said, staring off into space. “Scout Flatfoot might have some ideas. Or…” she slammed her hand on the desk as if hit with a sudden burst of energy. “Sorry Woody…” she mumbled before continuing. “I could give the old Harvey a whirl… see what the Internet could dig up for me.”

Lee shook his head. “Bea, how many times do I have to tell you that you don’t have to name all of my furniture?”

“But it’s fun,” she smiled warmly. “Plus don’t you think Woody’s a great name for a desk? And Harvey’s the perfect name for my Freezer Bunny pink laptop.”

“About that…” Lee began, and then hesitated. “Um… we should order you a more professional looking computer.”

“But Harvey’s a genius for me,” Bea tilted her head, her blue-colored hair staying in a perfect pile despite the angle.

Lee sighed. It was no use getting through to his perky assistant.

“Never mind.”

“Do you want me to return it to the post office?” Bea asked, popping up from her seat.

“But there’s no return address on the envelope,” Lee protested, holding the piece of paper out to his assistant. “In fact… it doesn’t have an address at all,” he frowned. “Strange. How was it delivered?”

“I suspect it was hand delivered. Someone put it in our mailbox before the mailman came this morning,” Bea fingered her chin. “Did you see anyone lurking around the letter drop last night when you took out the garbage? A shady figure? A skulking kid up to no good?”

“Bea! Really!” Lee exclaimed. “You watch too many Inspector Impossible reruns in the evenings, don’t you? You’re one of those,” he leaned over his desk to place some loose leaflets inside a manila folder.  “And for your information, the mailbox is too far away from the house to be seen by the garage.”

Bea looked disappointed. Not even the street light picked it up?”

“The street light was out last night. It was dark when I drove into the driveway,” Lee responded.

“Oh,” Bea replied as she pulled her grey polka-dotted sweater up onto her shoulder, the only conservative piece of clothing she was wearing.

Her blouse was appropriately high-collared, but a wild shade of fuschia and her pencil skirt was fire-engine red. Additionally, she wore tights with rainbow-colored butterflies, and closed-toe but lime-green high-heeled shoes, and as always, an elaborate braided hair style to boot. He wondered how she ever managed to wear such different vibrant colors and yet never clashed.

“Would you like me to call in our lunch order?” she asked, plucking a pencil from behind her ear.

“Not yet,” he frowned, and then glanced up. “Wait… how did you know I needed to order lunch?”

“Because… your lunchbox isn’t in the refrigerator,” Bea replied. “Obviously…”

“Obviously…” he repeated, more slowly, and confused.

“Do you want me to order your favorite… hot turkey sandwich with brown gravy and mashed potatoes, a side of buttered corn, and extra cranberry sauce?” Bea asked. “Oh…” she tapped her temple. “I almost forgot. A slice of pumpkin pie.”

“That sounds delicious…” Lee sighed tiredly. “But first, I need you to get Judge Kulate on the phone first. The courtroom clerk made a significant error, and I want to catch him before he goes to lunch,” Lee explained, grimacing over another piece of paper on his desk.

“Okaaaay,” Bea practically rolled her eyes with her accompanying sarcasm.

“What?” Lee puzzled.

“Well, you know Judge Kulate will talk your ear off about the weather… and then the sports games… and finally try and get you to play golf with him before you’ll ever get around to what you called to talk about,” Bea reminded.

Lee rubbed his forehead. “Why do all these law types like to play golf? Why can’t they play flying disc? I was good at flying disc in university. I used to play on the quad.”

Bea smiled as she slipped out the door. “I’ll see if Judge Kulate can dust off the ole flying disc in his spare time with you.”

“Bea, thanks for bringing me a new shirt,” Lee called after his assistant.

Lee exhaled audibly as his assistant left his office, dropping his head onto his hands and rest his elbows on the desk or Woody as Bea liked to call him. If his desk even was a him… Lee frowned. Even with all of Miss Honeywell’s help, he had no idea how he would catch up on all the paperwork for all his proceedings. He preferred the personal touch, making handwritten notes on each of his cases. It was part of what made him a good attorney – his attention to detail.

He was a bit old-fashioned too, conservative in his attire, polite to the T, a proper Southern gentleman armed with the manners his sweet mamma taught him, which suited the aging citizens of Pleasantview, but didn’t help his appeal to the younger crowd, save Mrs. Bella Goth. He dabbled in a little bit of everything, never quite settling on one particular focus as this kept him on his toes, but now he was beginning to wonder if he should’ve picked a specialty. He may have attracted more clients in the pokey town of Pleasantview.

He also wondered if he should’ve given up his practice years ago and taken his friend, John Simsham up on his offer to join his mega-firm in the state capitol. Now John had retired, though not truly as he wrote legal thrillers in his spare time between all his travels and lectures at major world universities. That could’ve been me, Lee supposed. But big-time famous attorney with a glamorous lifestyle wasn’t exactly the life he wanted. He was better suited for the small town theater. The twice a year trips to St. Claire was enough “city life” in the state capitol for him.

When his mother was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, Lee moved back from Simcago, leaving behind his big-city days, to attend to his mother’s needs. Stevia Butterworth had been content to live out her days in her brother’s home in the South, outliving two husbands. Yet her illness required a change of climate, and Pleasantview seemed like an excellent place to settle. He took over his stepfather’s law practice in the sleepy Misimigan town, and moved his mother up north. Lee pinched the bridge of his nose, inhaling and exhaling deeply as the light flashed on his office phone, indicating his assistant had transferred the call. This might be a longer conversation with the judge than he would like.

Bea Honeywell hung up the receiver in the front office after transferring the call to her boss. As suspected, Judge Arty Kulate was in a chatty mood. He wanted to know if she had plans to enter the Pleasantview annual chili cook-off for Thanksgiving week, and if she had visited the new casino the city council had voted for, and whether she heard about the Lotharios oldest son moving back to town, purchasing a home on Main Street.

Bea pretended to be polite and listen to the ramblings. She had never met a man who liked to gossip as much as Judge Kulate. After placing her boss’s lunch order, she dropped her head on her desk. No more late nights watching reruns, she chided herself. Blinking rapidly, Bea shook her head with a yawn, deciding it was time to make the office a pot of black coffee, or at least a strong cup of tea. Bea shivered prematurely, rubbing her arms despite the presence of her thin sweater. Behind her, the door blew open bringing in a gusty blast of cool air. Bea smiled as she busied herself selecting the perfect bag of coffee for the guest that had just entered.

Without turning around, she said, “Hello Mrs. Goth. I was just about to brew you a cup…”

Bella Bachelor-Goth folded her arms across her chest and glared at the back of the other woman’s head. “Where is he, Bea?”

“In his office,” Bea said lightly, turning to glance at the client as she scooped a generous amount of grounds into the pot. “But he is on a call with the judge. Can this wait?”

“No, it cannot wait,” Bella said, sounding largely inconvenienced, but nonetheless, she plopped down in the assistant’s chair, setting her purse on the desk with a huff. “If my lawyer cannot get me out of speeding ticket, then what good is he for?” she shook her head, releasing a sprinkling of early-season snow from her long black hair. “And I don’t have time for coffee.”

“Oh I think a cup of coffee is exactly what you need,” Bea smiled sweetly as she pressed the on button and the coffee began percolating. “I think you’ll be able to see Mr. Butterworth shortly and get whatever this is cleared up.”

“Thank you,” Bella replied gruffly, removing her red leather gloves. “I suppose I’ll take a cup of coffee if you’re making it.”

“Excellent,” Bea nodded.

Bella folded her hands nervously in her lap, her newly manicured nails clinking against one another. After setting out two cups of coffee, Bea maneuvered to her desk around the stacks of boxes and piles of case files that still needed organized. She reached into her personal drawer past the inconveniently placed Mrs. Goth and selected a bottle of sparkling gold nail polish.

Bella gasped, taking the tiny bottle. “How did you know?”

Bea’s eyes twinkled. “I thought with the weather the way its been, it may have been harsh on your polish,” she winked. “Plus between us girls I always keep at least a half dozen colors in the drawer here at work. It helps pass the time.”

Bella hiked her chin, tentatively opening the bottle, releasing an acrylic scent into the cramped office. “Um… these boxes don’t just organize themselves,” she said.

“Right,” Bea replied, merrily, settling into the chair typically reserved for customers. “But on my lunch, I like to do my nails? What do you think?” she fanned her hand. “I picked the perfect shade of eggplant, don’t you think?”

“Sure…” Bella said sarcastically as she brushed up her two chipped nails. “Look… do you think…” she trailed off as Bea popped up from the chair.

“Coffee’s done,” the other woman said in a cheery tone.

Bea returned momentarily with two steaming cups of coffee. Bella took the offering, lifting it to her delicate nose and sniffed. A pleasantly surprised smile perked at the corners of her mouth.

“Mmm… cinnamon,” she closed her eyes and inhaled. “And something else… sweet… honey?” one eye popped open and she quirked a brow.

“My specialty,” Bea bobbed her head. “Milk, cinnamon, honey, and a dash of…”

“…vanilla!” Bella interrupted excitedly.

“Excellent nose,” Bea remarked. “I had a feeling you would be able to tell…”

“Oh?” Bella frowned as she sipped the coffee, wondering how Bea would know such a thing, but quickly forgot as she sighed happily. “This is delicious.”

“Thank you,” Bea smiled.

Bella was literally drinking her last drop when Bea stood up once more to turn off the coffee pot. She nodded toward the office door.

“Oh, you can go in now.”

“But… he…” Bella protested. “How does he know I’m here?”

Bea turned around and fetched the empty cup from the client’s hand. “Oh trust me, he will.”


Author Note: Okay, a few minutes till midnight, so technically still released on a Thursday, which was my goal. I planned to include pictures, and then struggled with the game and then hopped over to editing a lot and disappeared into design for a few days, but I still wanted to get a chapter out this week. So this chapter is text-only, but it gave me an opportunity to introduce a young Mr. Butterworth (if you remember his mention from Kassiopeia Fullbright and the Lost Legacy – KFLL) and younger eccentric, but lovable Bea Honeywell. I don’t want to give too much away, but perhaps you’ll remember something else in this chapter. 😉

Just a few notes. Zest is my SimWorld version of Kool-Aid or Tang, a powdered fruit punch. Superb Central Station is akin to Grand Central Station. Inspector Impossible is a television show similar to Inspector Gadget. Judge Arty Kulate is a pun… in Sim tradition… “Articulate.” Hope you enjoyed! 

Newlywed Years, Episode 25, Strangers (LVB)

They settled into life together. Two story-home with the wrought-iron fence. Two cars. Bella drove a scarlet Speedster and Mortimer drove a grey-black Requiescene. An occasionally shared meal together – generally salads because that was all their housekeeper could make without burning something. Mortimer would’ve fired her, but he left this up to the purview of his wife. Bella didn’t have the heart to let the woman go as she was wonderful with the children.

“Where’s your wedding ring?” she asked her husband without looking up.

“Opps,” he grinned sheepishly. “I must’ve left it at the office on top of the desk.”

“On top of your secretary, you mean,” she said, through gritted teeth.

“Excuse me?” his eyes widened. “I didn’t hear you.”

Yes, you did. 

“Never mind.”

Two kids – a daughter, Cassandra Helene, born two years and nine months earlier, with beautiful black hair… no one would’ve guessed Mortimer wasn’t her father… and a son, Alexander Gabriel, the fruit of their union. She had borne him an heir. He was satisfied. Occasionally, he would be waiting for her when she entered the bedroom, an arm draped casually over his abdomen, wearing his relaxed tee shirt and jogging pants. She would comply, but only if she couldn’t come up with an excuse first.

Most nights, he would sleep in the guest room. He preferred to be alone. At least she knew he was really alone. No one wanted to share a twin bed. He claimed she snored, and though her previous partner had never complained, she didn’t correct her current one. It was better this way. Most nights she returned from work late. If she longed for company, she would visit the nursery and check on her infant son. He cooed when he saw his mother’s face, and she nearly cried. Less than a year, but such a precious blessing. The one good thing from her marriage.

Two jobs – Bella had continued her work as an actress at Pleasant Films and Mortimer worked as top executive accountant for the biggest firm in the Midwest. Bella had landed a part as Esmeralda in the Hunchback of Monte Vista. The studio wanted to fly her to Simtalia. She filmed what she could in the Nation and then packed her bags for the Sim Union. Like ships passing in the night, Bella said goodbye to her husband, who came to check on his son and heir.

Two lives. Mortimer worked out at the gym religiously. That was his hobby. If he wasn’t at the office, he was lifting weights. Then he would come home and watch the evening stock market report, peruse a new Gothic piece of literature, an almost biweekly gift from his mother, reread the newspaper… anything to avoid talking to his wife. Bella took up piano, and she practiced nightly. She had developed such skill in the past two years that the studio wanted her to come in and record for the soundtrack for the movie she was filming. It was an honor to be both an actress and a musician. Mortimer didn’t seem to care, but every once in awhile, she caught him listening to her, standing in the wing as if he wanted to say something, but never did.

“Bella, we should talk,” he said one night in late Simvember.

“Hmm…” she grunted, climbing onto the bed fully clothed and laying her head on the pillow.

She was exhausted. She had finished filming in the Sim Union, caught the red eye flight back to the States, recorded with the orchestra in Big Apple City, and returned home early this morning to start the read on her next film, Simlock Holmes. She had spent the whole drive home from the airport working on her acceptance speech for an award  as a lead actress in last year’s film project, Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Tyde. The ceremony was later this evening.

“Bella, wake up, please. I want to talk,” Mortimer said, gruffly.

“What?” she flopped over on her back, laying an arm across her forehead in annoyance.

“I think we should try for another baby,” he said.

“What?” she repeated, sitting straight up. “No. We barely have time for our children as is. And the housekeeper just quit.”

“Because you weren’t paying her enough,” Mortimer replied tersely. “I told you, darling, that we could afford it.”

“She wanted an unreasonable raise, and she was a terrible cook,” Bella said, exasperated. “We can hire another one.”

“Good help is hard to find,” Mortimer said, folding his hands across his lap.

“Well, I’ll have another housekeeper here tomorrow,” she said, hiking her chin.

“We should hire a nanny.”

“Why?”

“Because we have two children and we will have three.”

“Mortimer,” Bella glared at her husband. “I do not want another child. Now is not a good time for both of us.”

“But my mother was saying it is good to have spares,” Mortimer shifted on the bed, maintaining his dead serious expression.

Bella gasped. The woman was insufferable. “Spares? Like our children are tires or bowling pins?”

“Well, in case Alexander isn’t a good heir for the family…”

“He’s eleven months… how can you say that? That’s too much pressure for our baby. That’s too much pressure for me. And what about Cassandra?”

“You know why it won’t be Cassandra,” he narrowed his eyes.

“It was just a thought,” Mortimer gave his wife a soft peck on the cheek as if they had been discussing the weather or the dinner menu.

Forty-five minutes later, Bella stepped out of her home, Alexander in tow. Her daughter, Cassandra was with her grandparents for the weekend, but her son still needed a babysitter. Heaven forbid Mortimer watch his own child. He couldn’t even be bothered to come to her awards ceremony. He would be attending a poker night with the guys and that meant cigar smoke and smooth glasses of Scotch and vulgar language most likely, not the environment for a baby boy. Exasperated, Bella had decided to bring Alex with her to the venue, and had convinced the director’s assistant to watch the baby.

As she was about to leave, a portly older gentleman walked through the front gate and sauntered up the walkway. Bella’s eyes widened in surprise. Mortimer actually called someone to watch their son. The man’s attire looked clean and professional – black horn-rimmed glasses, a freshly starched white button-down shirt with a pullover vest and dress slacks. She could practically smell the fresh-linen scent on his person. His salt-and-pepper hair and warm smile instantly put her at ease.

“Oh thank the Maker, you’re here,” she exclaimed, flustered. ” You must be the new housekeeper.”

“Housekeeper?” he repeated, looking confused.

“Oh you know… um… well, a male housekeeper is a…” she stammered. “Um… a butler. The new butler, am I right?” Bella didn’t wait for a response. “I’m in a hurry. And as you can see…” she waved frantically down the street. “My limousine is coming. I don’t have much time, but here…” she laid the baby in the man’s arms. “…this is Alexander… or Alex… and he needs to be sleeping in about a half-hour, but first…” she adjusted her bracelets. “…you can feed him… there should be a bottle of warm milk in the refrigerator.”

“As you wish, madam,” he replied, politely.

“And all our emergency contact information is on the refrigerator. If I can’t answer… call his father… and if Mortimer…” she said irritably. “…call my parents. They are just across town,” Bella stepped forward, her luxurious wrap catching on the fence, and she tried desperately to untangle herself as her driver walked around and opened the door for his passenger.

The butler gently unhooked her wrap while bouncing Alexander in his other arm.

“Oh thank you,” she said genuinely.

“You look lovely, madam,” the butler nodded, averting his eyes almost as if embarrassed to be caught looking.

Bella smiled, pleased, feeling warmth rush to her cheeks. It was nice to be noticed by a man, especially since Mortimer seemed to be blind these days.

“Thank you,” she stepped into the limousine with a flourish and a wave. “Have a good night.”

When she arrived back home four hours later, Bella climbed the front steps and waved good night to her fellow actor and cast mate, Robert Kim, who had been her accompanying date for the evening. She was set to enter a dark house, but was pleasantly surprised to see the light from a warm fire, hear the dishwasher whirring in the kitchen, and smell something baked with cinnamon, one of her favorite spices. She heard laughter, and was surprised to hear her husband was awake and happy, let alone home. She hadn’t expected him to return until the wee morning hours. She could’ve stayed and partied with the cast, but she had simply been too exhausted from jet lag to care about club hopping, though the thought of numbing her worries with alcohol didn’t sound unappealing. Bella rounded the corner and found her husband and the new butler, holding a nesting Alexander in his arms. Seeing her frown, he stood to his feet.

“He would not stop fussing without my arms,” the man insisted. “I promise. I will place him in his crib for the night. It just seemed like the fire was helping him sleep.”

“It’s fine,” Bella replied, tiredly. “Hello darling,” she planted a perfunctory kiss on his scalp before sashaying around the couch.

“Bella, I don’t believe you’ve met…” Mortimer began tersely.

“No, I haven’t,” she interrupted with a sigh, and plopped down in an unladylike fashion on the red chaise lounge. “Well, sort of. I entrusted Alexander to his care earlier on my way out the door. I’m impressed you found a butler so quickly.”

“Lee Butterworth…” Mortimer said, his lips curling into a sneering fashion. “Your attorney.”

“My attorney?” she squeaked.

“Yes, Bella,” Mortimer narrowed his eyes. “We thought it best that we both have attornies, remember?”

“Oh yes!” she flushed, lifting her hands to her cheeks. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Butterworth. If I had known…”

“Do you have a habit of going off and leaving our children with our attorneys?” Mortimer asked, his lips, curling into a sneer.

Mr. Butterworth held up his hand. “I did not mind watching the youngling. It is not a problem.”

Mortimer continued as if he suddenly didn’t care about mishap and was ready to move on. “Mr. Lee Butterworth comes highly recommended by one of my father’s close and personal friends. I think his services will suit you well, darling.”

“Oh okay, yes, um…” Bella stammered. “I’m really sorry about the events of this evening. What were you doing here so late?”

“I invited him to join us at poker night,” Mortimer replied. “He didn’t realize we were meeting at Nick’s house not ours.” He grinned, teasingly. “Gotta get our money’s worth out of an attorney, right? Recover some of our legal fees?”

“Oh I don’t know. This attorney may just be good at poker and take you for your money,” Mr. Butterworth interjected with a pleasant chuckle. “Regardless, I had a wonderful evening with your son…” he handed the sleeping babe back to Bella. “I will let you two enjoy your evening.”

Both Mortimer and Bella stood as Mr. Butterworth began to walk out of the living room. Bella mouthed a “sorry” at her husband, but he glanced away, even after she reached to squeeze his hand with her free hand.

“Have a good night, Eli,” Mortimer waved at the door. “You’ll have to join us next time.”

“Sounds like a challenge,” Mr. Butterworth smiled as he walked down the steps.

He stopped, and turned, tipping his head slightly. “I will have my secretary call you to set up a preliminary appointment, Mrs. Goth.”

Bella nodded appreciatively. The man seemed polite enough, and evidently, he had cared for Alexander adequately. Her own personal attorney may not be such a bad thing. Mortimer gave her a generous allowance from the family funds, but she needed someone to oversee the legal aspects of her movie career income, and the care of her daughter by Malcolm. She would look forward to the call.

“Mortimer, I am sorry,” Bella said after the other man was out of earshot.

Her husband turned his back and returned to the living room. “See that it doesn’t happen again.”


Previous Chapter: Episode 24, Vows 

Newlywed Years, Episode 24, Vows (LVB)

What do I know about love? What does anyone really know? Bella accepted her dismal fate and started into the church as the dreaded wedding processional began. She had given up caring about the details. Why did it matter how she got married if she didn’t really want to be married in the first place?

Before family and friends today, she would say her vows to a man whom she barely knew, and a man she assumed wanted to know little about her. Mortimer wasn’t even wearing his tuxedo, still dressed in his work attire. I’m marrying a man who came from work on a Sunday at the office and didn’t even bother wearing his formal tux and tails. That should say something about this marriage. 

Mortimer wasn’t even facing her. He stood at the end of a long red carpeted aisle. The first two rugs were out of place as Bella stepped onto an exposed wooden board. The venue must have decorated in a hurry for she didn’t see any of the Christmas-red roses she requested on the wedding arch, merely a green vine trellis, and the aisle was crooked. She tried to muster a smile even as she felt like crying. This wasn’t how she envisioned her big day.

Mortimer finally turned to face her when she reached the end of the aisle. Her father beamed proudly, standing at the dip in the heart shaped rug, ready to marry the two “lovebirds.” Mortimer appeared stiff, but offered a slight smile, probably out of obligation. Bella averted her eyes. She glanced back at the audience gathering here on her day to witness their marriage.

Bella’s second bridesmaid, Mary-Sue Oldie took her rose bouquet and her maid-of-honor, Jennifer gave her a reassuring smile. Bella hoped the knots in her stomach would settle. She was having second thoughts about the bridesmaids gowns she had chosen – floor length, off-the-shoulder cranberry red gowns with lemon creme ribbon and matching gloves. Red and yellow reminded her of ketchup and mustard, and the thought of condiments turned her stomach.

Bella gulped, and looked past her bridesmaids. Her mother, Jocasta, stood in the second row behind the bridal party, picturesque and put-together as always. Her hair was braided into a beautiful bun and her red tea-length dress trimmed with snow-white ribbon made her appear elegant. Across the aisle, her future in-laws stood – Cornelia is a glorious sleeveless black evening gown, trimmed with diamonds, with a single shimmering strap and her hair piled atop her head like a beehive Her balding husband, Gunther Sr. stood in an appropriate wedding attire. Even the groomsmen, Mortimer’s friend, Nick Alto and his younger brother, Gunther Jr. wore tuxedos with tails. Bella tried not to feel disappointed.

Bella tried to concentrate as her father spoke some words. She stared into Mortimer’s eyes, pleading with him to change his mind. She wished her auras worked in that regard. The arrival of a certain Nina Caliente flustered her, and she turned aside to cough. The nerve of that woman! she thought angrily. She highly doubted the affair between Nina and Mortimer would stop just because they were about to be legally married. The thought depressed her even more.

Mortimer leaned forward, cleared his throat quietly, and handed her a handkerchief from his pocket in a gentlemanly way. She flushed and took the offering as her father continued speaking. Mortimer tried to smile, and if she wasn’t so miserable, she would’ve found his expression amusing. He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket, the same place where the handkerchief had been, and began reading his scripted vows. Something about how he looked forward to her face lighting up his mornings and his bed being warmed at night. Bella could hardly focus. 

“I…uh…” Bella stuttered.

“With this ring…” her father prompted.

“Right… With this ring, I thee wed…” she slipped the wedding band onto Mortimer’s left hand.

Bella was saying the words as if on auto-pilot. She had practiced several times, but this time, she lacked passion. The paper fluttered to the floor, and Mortimer stooped to pick it up. He handed it back to her with a nervous smile.

With this ring… I thee wed,” Mortimer repeated. “My lovely angel…” he added.

She blinked rapidly, surprised by the kindness of his tone. He seemed to smile genuinely, but she still wasn’t convinced, shoving her hand in the front pocket of her gown, grateful for the space. Her fingers had to grip something.

“…who will sing me to sleep… no more lonely nights,” he said, his words lacking malice, but Bella felt caught off guard.

She recalled the man whom she previously shared a bed, a man who helped sing her to sleep on the nights when she was struggling with insomnia. A man who wasn’t here today, but one whom she wished she was marrying instead. A man who was already married. And in a few moments, she would be married too.

Simis nudged Mortimer with a teasing grin.

“Uh…” he cleared his throat. “You can kiss your bride.”

His lips felt strange and wondrous against her own. Bella felt immediately calmer, and yet strangely still torn. Mortimer would be good to her. He would take good care of her. He already had proven that facet of his character. And yet, Bella felt her heart elsewhere… in the arms of a man whom she knew would do anything for her… even if it meant raising another man’s baby… even if it meant giving her up to save her life. But Bella wanted more than a marriage of convenience and a marriage in her best interest. She wanted Emit.

The guests clapped. Bella went through the motions, tossing her bouquet into the audience. Mary Sue caught the flowers, set it on the bench, and made a triumphant fist as she grinned at her fiance, Daniel. They looked so happy, fueling Bella’s envy and furthering her self-pity.

Gunther Sr., her father-in-law, tossed flower petals and cheered. He had mentioned at the rehearsal dinner how happy he was that Bella would be his family soon. He was the only one who had seemed genuinely pleased about the arrangement during the wedding preparations. Beside him, John Burb, Jennifer’s husband, formed a closed hand and fist bumped Mortimer as he walked past as a sign of masculine congratulations.

Pale, pretty Cornelia cried, soft, delicate sobs, and Bella knew they were not tears of joy. The woman wasn’t exactly Bella’s biggest fan. She worried about how much Mortimer’s parents knew about everything that happened, but she suspected Cornelia just didn’t like her. The lady was holding out for her son to change his mind, and when he didn’t, she made her displeasure known. She would’ve preferred to pick Mortimer’s bride herself, someone of higher class and wealth, two things Bella was not. Jennifer gravitated toward Jocasta, both women smiling slightly, as if the truth of the situation weighed heavily on their hearts as well. Her mother stifled a cry, sending pangs of guilt, regret, and fear to her heart simultaneously. Bella saw her friend squeezed Jocasta’s hand as if trying to reassure her that these things were for the best.

Bella nervously twisted back around as Mortimer tightened his grip on her arm as he escorted her out of the church to the photographers outside. She figured the press would be present also, something she hadn’t wanted, but due to the reputation of the Goth family, couldn’t avoid. As she stepped outside the chapel, she could see flashes of light already blinding her vision. Bella whirled her head to find a point of reference, something, anything to make her feel less overwhelmed. Mortimer had plastered a smile across his smug face, waving to the cameramen and women as if he had done this a thousand times already, which in reality, he had. Bella was still unaccustomed to the attention, and she knew this was the life she signed up for, even if it wasn’t the life she wanted. She had said her vows. It was official. She was Mrs. Mortimer Goth, soon-to-be mother of a child belonging to Malcolm Landgrabb the IV and heart-forever-belonging-to…

Emit. 

Suddenly, she was hit with an overwhelming sensation that the man she truly wanted was nearby. As she whipped her attention to the right, she could see him, a man with pale-as-ice skin and a shock of blue hair leaning against the stop sign on the curb across the road. The world was spinning and he seemed still. And when she saw the tears in his eyes, she fainted.


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