Uni Years, Episode 22, Goodbye (LVB)

“So this is what a breakup is?”

Emit Relevart shoved his blue hair out of his eyes, and stared at her as if she had lost her mind. They had met at their favorite spot, the far western corner bench in Wild Horse Park, the one by the beautiful blue hydrangeas, the place that Bella had once said smelled like heaven. Yet today something was different. The scent of death hung in the air.

“Yes.”

Bella fiddled nervously with her hands in her lap, twisting her diamond studded gold bangles, a gift from Mortimer, between her thumb and forefinger. This was not how she had expected him to react. He, of all people,  should understand. Loss was inevitable.  Happiness was a lie.

“It wouldn’t have worked out anyway,” Bella offered lamely, the pit in her stomach refusing to dissolve. She shifted uncomfortably and lowered her voice as she continued, “I am carrying another man’s baby.”

“It did not bother you the other day.”

“You can’t possibly know the first thing about raising a Simterran baby.”

“I will learn.”

“It’s not that simple. And you are a different race. How do you know you can even be with me?”

Bella hated how snobbish she sounded.

“Are you really that concerned with my place of origin?”

He arched a brow sorrowfully. Bella began to speak, but couldn’t find the words. This was harder than she had anticipated. He was struggling to understand her. She could see it in his expression. His warm rain colored eyes pleading with her for the alternative answer wasn’t helping at all. He had been everything she had been looking for, and now she was forced to end their relationship before it truly started.

“What are you not telling me?”

Emit’s hand reached for hers. She gasped, and bit her lip, desperately trying to choke back the tears that were threatening to rise. She jerked her hand back though she longed to remain in his touch, and dropped her eyes.

“There is something else, is there not?”

“I just can’t see you anymore.”

“We cannot have four incredible weeks together, and then you decide to break up with me without an explanation. Did I hurt you?”

“No,” Bella shook her head, her dark eyes pooling with tears. “It’s nothing like that..The baby is Mortimer’s.”

She hated lying but she couldn’t bear telling him the truth… that she was trapped… and she would always be trapped. Emit looked as if he was stabbed in the gut. His eyes widened with surprise. She hoped he wouldn’t read her mind.

“But you said…”

“I know what I said… I… panicked… okay, Emit? I made a mistake. I told you the wrong thing,” Bella thought if she rushed the lies, it would be easier. “Mortimer wants me to come back to him. He says he could love me. It was one drunken night… one I thought I had forgotten… but he and I decided to work things out…” her voice hitched, and she hated the sick feeling of telling untruths.

“Bella, milady, what is it?” Emit reached up to stroke her cheek, and a startled cry escaped her lips.

It was tearing her heart apart to break up with him. She turned away from him, unable to look at his face.

“So the baby is not belonging to  the father Malcolm?”

“No.”

“Then you were confused, but now you want to go back to Mortimer. I thought you did not love him.”

“Please,” she whispered. “This is just the way it has to be.”

“But you love me and I love you, you know that, am I correct? ” Emit probed quietly, looking down at his shoes.

Bella stifled a sob.

“Bella, you obviously care about me, or you would not be crying,” Emit continued, tugging gently on her shoulder. “And you know how much I care about you. Please, just tell me what’s wrong. Did he hurt you? Mortimer? Is it something else?”

“I…” a tear slipped down her cheek. “…can’t. Goodbye.”

And with that, she stood up and ran away, not once looking back, running far away from a fleeting moment of happiness, one that could never be.

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Uni Years, Episode 18, Choices (LVB)

“Can I offer you a lift back to the boarding house?”

Bella pulled up alongside the curb on Wild Horse Lane and rolled down her window, calling to a familiar blue-haired man she was developing feelings for, despite her better self cautioning her. She had just finished a session at the Surround Sound Movie Works. The studio had a contract with Sim State University, purchasing property owned by the college, and in turn, the college would funnel up and coming young actors and actresses from their theater program. And it provided a stipend.

Much to Bella’s delight, she and three other girls in the entire theater arts department were chosen to be extras on the set of a new soap opera Surround Sound was producing called Specific Hospital. Bella would be playing an orderly who trips over her cart of medical supplies when the lead character chases a gunman through the children’s ward. She had one line, “Watch where you’re going!” It was a thirty second part, but it was still a part. And she got to say the line to the dreamy John Simos.

Bella was grateful for the income, even if it was minuscule. Over the past summer, she had lost her stipend from her parents, which was really from Mortimer, because she chose to stay on campus instead of going to Simspania as was planned. She opened a credit card for the first time in her life at the shopping mall last Simmay. It was her way of rebelling against her parents control. She could spend what she liked without them ever knowing about it.

She bought clothes and books and movies. She started a magazine subscription, and bought herself jewelry and shoes. She began driving to Simcago for theater auditions when she had the chance. Mortimer had purchased a car for her, his way of trying to make up for a lack of income, but she still had to pay for gas somehow. When she wasn’t studying or auditioning, Bella drove to Simnadia nearly every weekend over the summer, trying to find Emit. The gas money alone was eating away at her limit on her card.

As she drove out of the movie lot, Bella noticed Emit walking along the street. She hadn’t seen him for a week since he rescued her off the porch of the Landgrabb Boarding House. In all honesty, she had been laying low.

Jennifer was still frustrated, though she was busy with studying and wedding planning, so the girls didn’t cross paths too much even though they shared a house. Bella made sure she ate breakfast after Jennifer had already left for the morning and came back long after her friend and roommate was in bed. Bella wasn’t even sure they had fully made up, but she figured giving Jennifer space for now was for the best.

Bella had also been avoiding Daniel ever since her awkward encounter with him after his partner’s unexpected death. Danny had found her later and tried to take everything back, saying he wasn’t in his right mind, but she knew the truth. Daniel still had a massive crush on her, which he somehow confused with actual feelings, and then acted upon them inappropriately and at an inopportune time. Bella hadn’t wanted to hurt him, but she felt it was best they stop spending time together.

Emit, on the other hand, was a man she didn’t mind spending time with, and frankly, wanted to see more of. She was glad when she spotted the alien as she was driving back to her dorm. She had planned to call him after going for a run tonight, hoping he would meet her for coffee in the morning. She still didn’t have a chance to properly thank him. As she smiled at him from her driver’s side window, she couldn’t tell if he looked annoyed or pleased.

“I prefer to walk,” he responded stoically, then quickly added when he saw Bella’s pouting lips, ”I am taking a rest from running. It is not far to my dorm and I do not mind getting myself to the location.”

“It’s across town,” she shook her head. “Get in.”

“I prefer the open air,” Emit said, sweeping his hand up to the sky. “And the stars. It is peaceful.”

Bella leaned out her car window and glanced up at the sky. “You would think they were twinkle lights on a Christmas tree if you didn’t know better.”

“Huh?” Emit scrunched his face.

Bella turned off her engine, and slid out of her car. “Never mind,” she pressed the car door closed and locked the vehicle. “I was thinking of running myself. Can I join with you?”

Emit shrugged, but said nothing. Bella fell in beside him, struggling to keep up with his stride. His pace was more of a jog, but his legs were much longer than her own. Emit turned into Wild Horse Park, her favorite running spot, and she followed. Rain began to fall, cooling the already chilled autumn evening. As drops of sweat mingled with drops of rain, Bella began to feel better. It was a nice change from the stuffy studio.

“Emit, can I ask you a question?”

He continued swinging his arms back and forth, without looking at her, but nodded.

“What’s going to happen between us?”

“I am not in the right place to have this discussion,” he said tiredly.

“You mean, you’re not in the mood?” Bella griped.

How do you have a conversation about where you stand with a guy when he refuses to talk with you? We kiss and nothing happens. I don’t even know what we are. 

“I am not in a mood suitable for the type of discussion you wish to have with me,” he agreed in his own oddly endearing way.

“Well, when will you be in the mood?” she questioned. “We kiss and nothing happens. I don’t even know what we are.”

“I told you I do not believe now is the time to be talking about it,” Emit sighed, almost irritably.

“This is about the alien thing, isn’t it?” she guessed, reaching for his arm. “Honey, we can work around it.”

“Do not call me honey,” he flinched at her touch as if a hot skillet had just burned his arm. “I do not like being referred to as a condiment.”

“It’s not really a condiment.”

“Then a food substance, and this has nothing to do with the Xekzos.”

“Yes, it does. Don’t deny it,” Bella said heatedly, running in front of him. “You’re scared, aren’t you? You’re scared what might happen if you fall for me.”

“I did not fall anywhere,” Emit frowned.

“Gah!” Bella threw her hands up in the air, his misunderstanding of common phrases beginning to grate on her nerves. “Don’t get so uptight about this.”

“I do not comprehend this up…tight,” Emit said pointedly, quickening his pace. “You are feeling tightness in your being and are projecting ill feelings of frustration in my direction and believe me to do the same.”

Well at least he knew that one. 

“Please stop avoiding the subject,” Bella’s voice softened, her voice betraying a plea. “I want to figure this out. I want to be with you. I don’t want you to waste your life worrying about something we can easily overcome.”

It is my life. Is that not a phrase…what you Simterrans say?” Emit flung tartly. “And it is not that easy.”

“No, it’s not your life, you’re living the life of a man who has been exiled from his colony, but that’s not who you really are,” Bella protested.

“What do you suppose to mean?” he stopped so suddenly that Bella almost slammed into him.

“Haven’t you suffered enough? Haven’t you punished yourself enough?” she asked.

“And what about you?” Emit exclaimed. “Have you not suffered enough?”

Bella frowned.

“Bella, your thoughts betray you. You did not forget I have telepathy, did you? I know you are worried for money and how you spend more than you have.”

Bella flushed. “Who cares what I spend my money on otherwise? It’s a way for me to be independent. I don’t need my parents or Mortimer, and no one will tell me what I can and can’t spend if they don’t know I’m spending it in the first place.”

“You have to return the money.”

“I will.”

“How?”

“I’ll get a job. I got a job.”

“Perhaps you should talk to Mortimer.”

“Don’t you say his name!” Bella shouted. “I don’t want to think about Mortimer. He doesn’t need to know. He doesn’t even care. He just throws a school and a car and a future at me.”

“You were with a man who did not belong to you. You are engaged to a man you do not love. You do not even see him. Why do you stay with him?” Emit inquired.

“Because… he’s…given me my life,” Bella sighed, exasperated. “I wouldn’t be here having this conversation without him, and I want to be here. I need to be here. Emit, I want you, but it’s his fault we can’t be together.”

“No,” Emit shook his head. “You make your own life and your own choices. Do not blame the man who pays for your college education and your health care for your decisions.”

“How dare you!” Bella reached out to smack him, but he caught her hand. “You don’t know anything about me, do you? You aren’t even man enough to take me!”

“Milady, how can I take what is not mine in the first place?” Emit said, seriously.

Bella flushed, resentment bubbling in her heart.

“Please, I would like to take my leave or I may become less civil,” Emit resumed his run.

Bella held her breath, calling on all her strength to keep from breaking down into tears as she watched Emit jog away, afraid he was running out of her life.

Uni Years, Episode 11, Rendezvous (LVB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Come here.”