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The Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Four - Part 5
 

The Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Four - Part 5

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    The Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Four - Part 5 The Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Four - Part 5 Presentation Transcript

    • Welcome back to The Devereaux Legacy! In case you haven't noticed, I have managed to convert all of my back chapters to SlideShare format WITH brand new cover pages reflecting the legacy name change. I know the Exchange is supposedly working again, but I no longer trust it, so this is the style I'm sticking with until the end. I also want t apologize in advance for the lengthiness of this chapter (another good reason for me to stick with SlideShare). I had intended on being within Exchange limits, but there were some things that needed to be wrapped up in this installment because it wouldn't fit, story flow wise, in the next installment and finale of Chapter Four. I hope you like what I have so I can be forgiven. Anyway, in a brief recap, Generation Four got married. Aviendha Lewis married Ashley Pitts instead of a professor that her family tradition dictated, and so thus is not on speaking terms with her father. Mary and Goopy got married, but Goopy had a nervous breakdown at the wedding. Mary has chosen to stay with Goopy, though. Alexander Goth has blackmailed Xander into giving up his Mayor position, so he can take over as the new mayor of SimCity. Nothing is ever pleasant in Pleasantview.
    • Prologue “* gasp * Eduardo? Is that you? No, it can't be! My eyes are playing tricks on me!”
    • “No Mary Sue, they are not. For it is I, the rugged Eduardo, your long lost husband! I have recovered from the amnesia that I suffered after I was in that coma for ten years! I have returned home, my love!”
    • “But darling! We thought you lost after you fell off that cliff in the rainforest. We never found your body!”
    • “Mary Sue, my sweet. That was merely a ruse! I was an undercover agent when I had my other personality, and the evil Devereaux family was hot on my tail! I needed to make them think that I was dead.”
    • “Oh Eduardo! I'm so happy! I was terribly afraid that I would have to suffer in this poor, wretched squalor forever, all the while being forced to marry that evil, Horatio Devereaux!”
    • “Fear not, my love. I have come to save you from this poverty. Never again will you be forced to wear those rags. We can live far away from here in the castle I acquired while I was in ninja training!”
    • “I'm afraid I have to ruin this heartwarming little reunion.”
    • “OH NO! Horatio Devereaux!” “Damn you , you foul fiend! I should have killed you in Paris when I was a pastry chef! You shall not keep me away from my eternal love!”
    • “Ah, but you will find that I can! For you see, I have just found out a terrible, dark secret! Eduardo, you are Mary Sue 's cousin's uncles' step brother's son's long lost twin! HaHA!”
    • “NOOOOOO!” “CURSE YOU, DEVEREAUX! CUUUURSE YOOOOU!”
    • “We interrupt this program with late breaking news. “Here is your news team, Matt and Jess Picaso.”
    • “Wow, I wonder what's going to happen to Mary Sue and Eduardo.” “The world will never know Matt, as they will never run that episode again. Oh, we're on the air!”
    • “Good evening to our viewers in Pleasantview. We have just received word that Mayor Alexander Goth's ordinance on Population Control has been officially passed.”
    • “Combat Correspondent, Gannet Hearst, is reporting to us live from the Mayor's office, where Mayor Goth will be addressing the public in a press conference. Gannet, what is the atmosphere like at Mayor Goth's office?”
    • “Thank you Matt and Jess. I have reported from many places wrapped in turmoil and never in my life have I experienced a place as charged as this room, right now. It's a war zone down here as everyone is clamoring to get a seat so they can hear Mayor Alexander Goth's address to Pleasantview first hand. “Very little apprehension is evident in this room though, as many people see Prop 007 as a sign of hope. A sign that someday Pleasantview will be returned to her former glory; the glory it once had when Mayor Goth's family was the high profile and dominant family of our beautiful Pleasantview. “It is safe to say that Prop 007 is the first step to that restoration and Mayor Goth is pleased. We will now all take our seats as Mayor Goth addresses the public on this momentous occasion.”
    • “People of Pleasantview. I cannot begin to tell you how glad I am to know that each and every one of you are as concerned about joblessness and over population as I am. I know that I, myself, stayed up late at night contemplating this issue. “So, when I lobbied for the State of Emergency Character Population Control Act as my first official duty as Mayor of our fine town, I was hesitant at first. But when most everyone voted 'YES' on Prop 007, I knew that I did not need to worry any longer.”
    • “I am aware that not everyone agrees with the new 'One Child Per Family' rule, but I hope that the naysayers out there will come to understand the sacrifice of the few is for the greater good of the many. “Xander, how long are you going to let this go on? I know you miss her.”
    • “I hope that the naysayers will, in time, understand the need to ban all high powered telescopes to prevent unexpected and often times, unwanted alien pregnancies.” “Home...starryflyplanet!”
    • “I hope that in time, the naysayers will understand that the banning of all cheesecake will be beneficial in the long run as new jobs will open up when our elders pass on. Those jobs will be open for the children of tomorrow. And for the children of tomorrow, we need to act today!” “I'm sorry there can be only one, Miles. I know you wanted twenty...”
    • “Fellow citizens of Pleasantview, now is NOT the time to listen to those naysayers. It is the time to think to the future! To think of the community as a whole. With the Population Control Act, our nuclear families will be bound that much tighter. “With tighter families, the crime rate will become almost non-existent. I am a firm believer in 'it takes a village to raise a child.' And, by voting 'YES' on Prop 007, you have all spoken. You agree that you WANT closer families!” “Come on sweetie, it's time for bed. Grandma's coming over tomorrow.” “Grandpa?” “No. Grandma.”
    • “Closer families means more upstanding morals. Upstanding morals means better work ethics. Better work ethics means that our businesses, in the future, will be that much more successful! When our businesses become more successful, then all of you, each and every citizen of Pleasantview, will prosper!”
    • “So, good citizens of Pleasantview, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting Pleasantview in her time of crisis. I sincerely hope that someday, those naysayers out there will appreciate the selflessness of the rest of her citizens, and will cease to be selfish in their own desires for expansion. “Thank you and goodnight.”
    • “Thank you for your report, Gannet. We will now return our viewers to the riveting conclusion of 'Days of Our Legacy.'”
    • Chapter One Life did not turn out as I had hoped, Tina thought to herself as she sat in front of her ice cream. Dropping out of high school wasn't the beginning of the troubles that she had, but it was as good a place as any to start.
    • Her parents had kicked her out of the house, seeing as she was eighteen. They gave her little bit of money to find her own place, but Tina was convinced that they kicked her out more because they were on their way to Strangetown to protest against alien discrimination, not because of her dropping out of school.
    • Thankfully, she was allowed to take her bedroom belongings, though the cheerful pink items looked odd against the dreary walls and floors. No, life had not gone at all like Tina had hoped. However, where she was living wasn't even really part of her immediate problems.
    • Never in her life did she plan on being 'the other woman.' Never in her life did she plan on kind of enjoying being 'the other woman.' She always thought of herself as a 'good girl,' but the thrill she got every time she met up with Goopy fulfilled the unexplainable emptiness she had been experiencing since...well, she couldn't pinpoint the exact moment in time, but she knew it was around the time Alexander Goth started dating Lucy Burb again. But, the thrill she got always came with a price: Goopy treated her like crap. He only came around because his wife was pregnant. Whether his wife's bloated body was unattractive, or the fact that the bloated body represented a kid in his very near future, so thus, that was unattractive, Tina was never sure.
    • She sighed and started eating her ice cream. Why can't I ever find a nice guy? Why do I have such bad luck with men? Are there even any nice ones out there?
    • The two of them ate in silence. Goopy was never really one to talk after WooHooing, preferring to relax, eat some food, and maybe watch a ball game on her tiny television. The clinking of the spoons on the dishes was driving her insane. Finally, Tina blurted out, “Goopy, I'm pregnant.” Goopy paused with his spoon partway to his mouth. Carefully, gently, he placed the spoon back onto the dish.
    • “What?” Disbelief was evident on both his face and voice. “I'm pregnant,” Tina repeated. “With your baby,” she added for good measure. “How...how did this happen? Are you sure it's mine?”
    • “Really? You are really asking me how it happened? Isn't that a bit cliché, even for you? And as for knowing if it's yours, of course I'm sure. What kind of girl do you think I...” She stopped. She didn't want to know what his answer would be to that. “Well, this kind of changes things, you know,” Goopy responded, irritated. “It changes nothing, I promise. I won't show for a little bit, yet. You won't even know that I'm...oh GOD!” Tina got up and ran to the bathroom.
    • As the morning sickness spasms wracked her body, Tina thought back to another time where she had thrown up. And much like the last time, the man she was involved with didn't even bother to comfort her.
    • After she rinsed her out her mouth and brushed her teeth, she went back into the living room where Goopy was. Before she could say anything, though, Goopy angrily shouted at her, “It's just one problem after another with you, isn't it Tina?”
    • “What? Do you think I did this to myself? Last time I checked, it generally takes two people to have this happen. Do you think I want to be an unwed mother?”
    • “Well sorry babe, but that's what you're going to be. I'm not going to leave Mary and my life there to take care of your kid.” “My kid? I'm pretty certain that it will look exactly like you.” “So what? It's not like I can acknowledge it, what with the population control thing in effect. So, yeah. Your kid, your problem.”
    • “No, no, no, NO! You see, it is going to be your problem. I'm not asking you to be involved in the baby's life, but you will help support it when the time comes. I can't afford this on my own. “If not, well then I'm going to go to Mary and tell her. I really don't want to do this, I really don't. But, I don't want the child to die of starvation simply because its father refuses to take any sort of responsibility.”
    • Goopy paused as he considered her words. The last thing he needed was for Mary to find out that he was going to have a child by another woman, especially since Mary herself was rather bitter about only being able to have one kid. Visibly, Goopy changed his attitude as he smiled and put his arms around Tina. “Aw, come on babe. I don't mean it like that. Of course I'll give you money for the kid.” Tina relaxed. “You will? You promise?” Goopy responded by kissing her neck and running his hands up her bare arms.
    • The two of them ended up on the couch, as per usual; the fight and the impending baby were soon forgotten. For the time being.
    • Goopy didn't stick around afterwards. Tina watched as he quickly changed into his clothes and made his way to the door. “I'll call you,” he tossed over his shoulder. “Okay, I'll be here,” Tina responded lamely. She didn't know what else to say to him.
    • The false smile she had on her face dropped as soon as he shut the door. Sighing and idly picking at her fingers, she thought to herself, I would give my life to find just one nice guy.
    • Chapter Two “Laurana, be still!” Aviendha tried to wash the squirming child's hair while the child in question tried to escape. “No, no, no, no, no!” Laurana splashed the water with her hands each time she spoke the word. Aviendha managed to not get too much water on her clothes; she was very familiar with this particular bath time ritual.
    • “There you go, Ash,” Aviendha called from Laurana's bedroom. “Her royal highness is finally all washed up and dressed for Mom's visit.” Laurana toddled happily over to her father, glad that the embarrassing ordeal of being bathed was over for the day.
    • Ashley smiled down at his daughter. “You giving Mom a hard time, Lori?” Laurana smiled and clapped her hands while Ashley laughed in response and tickled her. Sunday was usually a major production for the household. It was the only day Ashley had off of work and he liked spending the little time he could with his wife and daughter. However, Sundays were the only days that Marsha, Ashley's mother-in-law, came to visit. Of course, that was intentional, as Marsha wanted to get to know him as well as spend time with her daughter and granddaughter; but the irritable mood Aviendha had afterward was usually a strain.
    • It was always the same. Marsha would show up with smiles and hugs for Aviendha.
    • Then she would swoop Laurana up into her arms and coddle the child. That didn't bother Ashley, though.
    • What bothered him was the way Marsha would observe how he and Aviendha interacted with each other. Of course, they kept their physical affections to a minimum when Marsha was around, but it was still awkward kissing his own wife when he felt judging eyes upon him.
    • Then Aviendha would make lunch. It was never very extravagant, as they didn't have a lot of money, and that was something that Aviendha fretted over. Ashley knew that she wanted to prove to her mother that they were doing fine on their own. But they weren't, and Marsha knew it.
    • So of course Marsha would try to give them a little money, under the guise of monetary 'gifts' for Laurana.
    • But then, Aviendha would inevitably ask if the gift was from Xander as well. Marsha would admit that it wasn't. So Ashley and Aviendha would decline, especially seeing as Xander had yet to meet his own grandchild. Marsha would get irritated, but say nothing more on the subject, Aviendha would get huffy, and Ashley always wanted to kick both of them; Marsha twice so she could pass one onto Xander. He knew Marsha meant well and he didn't fault her for trying. Aviendha had a point though, she didn't want 'under the table' gifts from her mother if her own father was still being stubborn and not talking to her. It was a matter of pride.
    • So of course, this Sunday was no different. Ashley checked a sigh of frustration as he watched Marsha play with Laurana some more, while Aviendha clanked the lunch dishes loudly in the sink.
    • “You okay?” Ashley asked her as she scrubbed the soup bowls. “Yeah. I'm fine. Just framming peachy.” He sighed. “Look. You know that you're going to have to call him and make amends. It sucks, I know, but one of you two has to do it.” “Why can't it be him? I have nothing to apologize for.” “I didn't say apologize. Just call him up. Open those lines of communications and stuff.” “Absolutely not.” Ashley placed his hand on her shoulder and turned her around to face him.
    • “You're the Family Sim here, babe, so I have to admit that this is totally weird: me telling YOU to think about our daughter. But, you really do need to think about that. Your dad isn't going to be around forever...” “Mom didn't say that he was sick,” Aviendha interrupted. “Not saying he is. But with how things are looking at this rate, Lori is going to be a mother of her own before you two decide to talk to each other. Just...think about it, okay?” Aviendha sighed and threw out her hands, resigned. “Fine. I'll think about it.” Ashley gave her a thumbs up. “That's all I'm asking.”
    • By late afternoon Marsha was ready to leave. Giving her granddaughter one last kiss and a tentative hug to Ashley, Aviendha walked her to the door. Looking over her mother's shoulder, Aviendha mumbled, “Tell Dad I said 'Hi.'” Marsha gave her a half smile. “I'm trying to talk some sense into him. This is getting ridiculous.” Aviendha just nodded in response. “I'm sure Lori would love it if you guys showed up for her birthday next week.” Marsha smiled. “I know that I'll be here.” Marsha brushed Aviendha's bangs from her eyes. “I'll talk to your father. I'll drive the point home that Ashley is a good man, a great father and a wonderful addition to the family. I promise.” Aviendha gave her mother a small smile and they both said their goodbyes. They both knew that Xander wouldn't be at Laurana's birthday party the following week, but it was nice to hope that they would be wrong.
    • Chapter Three Goopy tried to slip quietly into bed without disturbing Mary. So far, his 'I have to work late' excuse had been working splendidly; he was quite certain that Mary didn't suspect anything. He was startled as Mary rolled over and put her arm around him, pressing her pregnant belly against his back. She didn't say anything, though. Goopy let out the sigh of relief he hadn't realized he had been holding. The Goopster doesn't do kids, and now I'm going to have two! He stifled a groan. What was he going to do about Tina? He'll send her money, of course, especially since the Devereaux family had more than enough to spare. They probably wouldn't even notice if any went missing. I'll think about it tomorrow, he thought as he wiggled irritably to get comfortable. The baby was kicking him in the back; a distinct reminder that he had responsibilities he really didn't want to deal with.
    • Mary woke up early the next morning, feeling unrested; the baby had kept her up all night with its kicking. She had feigned sleep when her husband came home, though she was not sure why she did. She wanted to ask him why his job kept him at work until two or three in the morning sometimes, but she had avoided the subject. Her pregnancy was rough and it was becoming more and more difficult to be perky, pretty and perfect when sometimes she felt anything but. She sighed and rubbed her hand across her belly. “Maybe there's two of you in there? That would be nice to have natural twins. Two babies are better than one and it would be legit...” she trailed off, still rubbing her belly. After finishing her espresso, she awkwardly waddled her way to the bathroom so she could get ready to face the day. The baby would be coming at any time, and she wanted to be prepared both mentally and physically.
    • “So, why are we doing this?” Sebastian asked as he pulled up a weed. “I mean, I don't mind, but usually Mary gets rather persnickety when anyone but her tends the garden.” Kitty sighed. “Sebastian. Have you seen our daughter? She's tired and very pregnant with our grandchild. Far better that we do this for her now and risk her ire, than to have her collapse from exhaustion later.” He thought about that. “Kit, when is she going to realize that she can't do everything by herself?” “I don't know. I just don't.”
    • “No Miles, everything is fine. We have everything under control here. Yes, I'm sure! No no, you don't need to come over to help out. The baby's room is already decorated, a bin of Smart Milk has been ordered, and the house is spotless. The only thing that's missing now is the baby itself. It should be arriving sometime today. “What? Of course Gil is excited! Why wouldn't he be? Don't be silly, Miles. No! I said you don't need to come over. Women have been doing this since the dawn of time. Haha! No, I won't threaten to castrate Gil. Really? Amelia threatened you with that? Well, maybe some women just aren't that mentally prepared for the miracle of birth; but I am. No no, I'm not saying anything about Amelia, why on earth would I do that? I must get going, though. Mom and Dad are tending the garden and I think they are tramping all over my plants. Give Rose a kiss from her Aunt Mary. Bye!”
    • The baby watch lasted all day and well into the night. Kitty and Sebastian hovered around Mary like protective mother hens trying to ease her mind, reassuring her that indeed, she will not be pregnant forever: sometimes babies have their own schedule to keep. Goopy wasn't home at all, so any reassurances from him were notably absent. Finally, long after her parents had gone to bed, but long before Goopy came home from work, Mary quietly went into labor, trying to keep her moans of pain down so as to not wake the rest of the household.
    • A short while later, Mary held her new daughter in her arms. Smiling happily, she took note that her daughter had her hair color and eyes. Goopy's too, but Mary was conveniently forgetting about that. “Well hello there, Eden,” Mary cooed to the newborn. “We've been waiting for you. I don't suppose there's a sibling in there with you, is there?” The baby looked at her mother and began sucking on her fingers. Mary was disappointed that she wasn't carrying twins. The fact that she and Goopy were able to only have one child felt like a personal insult. As she cradled the baby in her arms though, Mary became resolved. “That's okay. I will give you the love and attention that's enough for TEN babies. You are going to be Mommy's pretty and perfect angel. Yes you are!” What Eden thought of that was unknown, as she had fallen asleep against her mother's breast.
    • The following morning, Kitty went into Eden's bedroom and picked her up. Looking around to make sure that nobody could overhear her, Kitty smiled at her grandchild and said, “I certainly hope you take after your mother. Goopy's got some awful, er, awfully strong genetics. At least you're a girl, so even if you do look like your father you might be able to pull it off.” Eden smiled at her grandmother as spittle bubbled at her lips.
    • Sebastian, on the other hand, was a bit more sentimental when holding his newborn granddaughter in his arms, cuddling her and humming a tuneless lullaby into her ear.
    • In fact, the only person who didn't welcome the new baby into the home was Goopy. Between getting promoted at his new job and all of his 'late' hours, Goopy was barely home. This was something that did not go unnoticed by Mary's parents.
    • One night, Kitty slid her arms around Sebastian's waist and gave him a half smile. “I'm so glad that you never had the urge to cheat on me.” Sebastian's eyebrows rose. “Kit, I don't know if you noticed, but I've never been that smooth with the ladies. NOT that I ever had the desire to be smooth with anyone other than who I was with,” he hastily amended before Kitty could say anything. Kitty rested her head on his shoulder. “I think Goopy is cheating on Mary.” Sebastian rolled his eyes sarcastically. “Gee, what gave it away? Either he's cheating on her, or he's the hardest working S.O.B. in the Pleasantview workforce, and somehow I really doubt the latter.” “One of us should really talk to her about it.” “She isn't going to listen. She doesn't want to listen.” “Still, I really think one of us should say something to her. Hint at it, whatever.” Before Sebastian could respond, Kitty left the bedroom and sought out Mary.
    • Kitty found Mary in the game room, playing sedately on the piano. She listened until Mary finished the song before addressing her daughter. “So, where's, erm, Gil?” Kitty asked. “He's at work,” Mary replied, a bit curtly. “He's at work an awful lot, isn't he?” Mary shrugged nonchalantly, but didn't say anything. Kitty sighed. “Mary, I...” “Mama, don't say it. Because if you are wrong, then you'll be embarrassed. He tells me that he's at work, so I am going to believe my husband. Okay? Now if you will excuse me, Eden needs to be fed.” Mary walked out of the room, head held high, while Kitty could only sigh.
    • The next morning found Mary sitting at the breakfast bar sipping on her ever present espresso. She hadn't slept well the night before and Goopy came home so late that he had to leave immediately for work. I don't know for sure...she pushed the thought out of her mind. Finishing her espresso, she rinsed out her cup and took a couple of deep, clarifying breaths. Pasting a bright smile on her face, she came to the conclusion that she needed to get out of the house.
    • Making sure that her parents were okay with watching Eden for a couple of hours, Mary decided that it was high time for her to make her rounds as the new owner of the business she inherited from Sebastian. Walking briskly to her first stop, The Devereaux Round Table, the newly renamed bookstore, Mary began to feel a little bit better. ***
    • Tina hadn't meant to go anywhere near Goopy's family, most particularly Mary. But when she heard that Mary was reopening the bookstore, Tina felt compelled to go and see Mary up close. She wasn't going to say anything to her, though. She had promised Goopy that she wouldn't, considering that he was following through with his end of the deal and helping her pay for all the necessary things her new daughter needed. Looking at Mary, Tina couldn't help but think that she looked familiar. Something in the eyes, nose and mouth reminded her of someone she once knew but couldn't put a name to it.
    • She stared at Mary longer than she had intended and she realized this when Mary caught her eye and approached her with a friendly smile. Abruptly, Tina turned away and tried to make it look like she was interested in the books. “Hi there,” Mary began cheerfully, “is there something I can help you find?”
    • Tina turned around and tried to not look guilty. She had a feeling that she failed miserably. “Um, yeah. Do you carry any Childcare books? And maybe some children books in general?” Tina could feel her cheeks flushing as Mary enthusiastically showed her some of the best sellers in the area Tina was looking for. No matter how hard Tina tried in her life, she could never manage the poise and grace that just seemed to come naturally to children of established families. She felt clumsy and foolish, topped of with a major sense of guilt for wronging this woman who had done nothing to her.
    • After she had purchased more books than she could afford, Tina turned to Mary and said, “Thank you very much. I have a new little girl at home, and I'm sure she'll love these.” A strange look passed over Mary's face. “I've been meaning to ask: what is that lovely perfume you are wearing?” Tina blinked in surprise, and then blushed. “Oh, it's just a regular old cheap body spray, Cherry Blossom, that I got from the drugstore.” “It's quite lovely. I'm sure my husband would love it if I bought some.” Tina shrugged uncomfortably, not knowing what to say about that. “Thank you again for showing me these books.” Mary nodded. “You are quite welcome. By the way, what is your new daughter's name?” “Oh. Um, Karen.” “Karen. A beautiful name for what I am sure is a beautiful child.” Tina nodded and left the store. She had the distinct feeling that something just went terribly wrong. ***
    • Mary slammed the door when she arrived home. Not caring if it startled anyone, she stomped up the stairs and towards her bedroom.
    • Sebastian heard the commotion and went to the entry way. As he saw Mary heading towards her bedroom, he called up and asked, “Mary? Is everything okay?” “Just fine, Daddy. Everything is perfect,” she responded without stopping. Sebastian listened for the bedroom door to slam, but it didn't happen. Heaving a deep breath, he went to go find his wife.
    • Mary didn't look at Goopy, who for once was home. She was silent as she started getting ready for bed before she tossed over her shoulder, “You didn't have to work late today?” “Nope. You get to have me all to yourself tonight.” “Hm. Work must have been hard with your secretary being off today, huh?” Goopy grinned. “Yeah, it was a real pain.” Mary didn't say anything more to him as she climbed under the covers. Inside, she was fuming, no matter how much she tried to push it away. Goopy didn't have a secretary as he was on the Athletic career track.
    • Goopy smiled as he crawled under the covers and slid up next to Mary. He caressed her thigh and kissed her neck. “It's been a while Doll Face. What do you...OOF!” His breath had been knocked out as Mary's elbow jammed him in the stomach. “Get off of me,” was all Mary said as she made her way to the very edge of her side of the bed. Goopy rolled his eyes and turned over. Must just be the hormones from having the kid, he thought as he pulled the blanket over his shoulder. He drifted off to sleep shortly after. Mary, however, spent yet another sleepless night in bed.
    • Chapter Four Ashley winced as he picked up the stack of bills representing pretty much the last of their money. “Hey Babe? How much do we have left in the savings account?”
    • “Enough to cover rent for the month,” Aviendha replied as she painted a bit of blue on her canvas. Ashley sighed. “How are things looking with the art gallery?” Aviendha paused and then responded with, “It's being held up. Goth isn't approving any new business licenses right now. But Frances and Malcolm are still paying me for my paintings. The advance they gave me is the money that will cover rent.” “Crap...” Ashley didn't say anything more, but he knew that they were in deep trouble. The two of them had decided that Aviendha would be home for Laurana as they couldn't afford a nanny, so Aviendha didn't have a job outside of the home. Frances and Malcolm were a godsend because they were willing to pay Aviendha for her paintings. Unfortunately, Frances was unable to take any painting lessons from Aviendha, for the time being, because he and Malcolm were going through a bunch of red tape in the attempts to adopt a child. Those attempts have been for naught as they weren't married, and couldn't get married. Neither Ashley nor Aviendha wanted to impose upon their friends with their money troubles.
    • Ashley felt himself regretting the fact that he and Aviendha had turned down all offers of help from her mother. Of course, they accepted the clothes and toys Laurana received for her birthday. The birthday that Xander didn't show up to, of course.
    • But now Laurana was a full fledged child, which meant that she ate more and needed new clothes to accommodate her growing body.
    • She was also a rather shy child, which was something of a surprise as nobody in the Lewis family, as far as Aviendha remembered, was as shy as Laurana. But, shy or not, Laurana needed clothes, food, decent books, and ideally a private school education; the last was something of a pipe dream though, as they couldn't afford the tuition fees.
    • All of this weighed on Ashley's mind as he got ready for work the next day. He desperately wanted to get promoted so he didn't have to work six days a week, thirteen hours a day. He was all set, skill and connection wise, for the promotion, so it was just a matter of getting the paperwork processed. Ashley grinned cheerfully to himself as he left for work. “Today is going to be a good day. I'm gonna get that promotion and that bonus. I can feel it.”
    • The overcast sky matched Ashley's demeanor as he came home from work three hours later. He had been excited when his boss had called him into the office, thinking that the promotion was finally coming his way. His boss apologized. Times were tough and they needed to lay people off and Ashley was the lowest in seniority. There was also the issue of taxes. Apparently, Ashley hadn't been deducted enough and he needed to pay it back before turning in his uniform. He couldn't quite cover it, but his boss kindly accepted what he had and promised to pay the rest out of his own pocket. Then his boss apologized again, assuring him that it wasn't Ashley's work performance. But times, they were tough.
    • Ashley raised a shaking hand to his eyes to rub away tears of frustration and anger. “Son of a fracking...” he cut himself off, as he knew that swearing wasn't going to help anything. He stood on the sidewalk, unaware of the people passing by, staring at the strange man who seemed completely oblivious to the rain that had started splattering down upon him. After a few moments, Ashley managed to gather himself together and he went inside to tell his wife that they were royally screwed.
    • “...So that's it. I never thought I would have someone say to me essentially, 'it isn't you, it's me.' It kind of sucks to hear, now that I think about it. I wish I could take back all the times I said it myself, or at the very least, apologize for saying it.”
    • Aviendha listened with a sinking feeling her her chest. They were completely tapped and rent was due in two days. They also needed to go grocery shopping, as all they had left in the refrigerator was some ice cream and left over soup. “I'll try to find a job tomorrow. I'll take whatever is available,” she said.
    • She stepped into Ashley's arms. “We'll be fine. I'll also call my mother and...” she sighed. “And ask her for some money. Hopefully we can scrape by until you and I find jobs to pay for a nanny. Hopefully...” she sighed again. “We'll manage. We always do.” Ashley grinned crookedly. “I hope the landlord is understanding. We've never been late with rent before, so we should be in the clear. If we find jobs...”
    • The 'hopefully' and 'if' kept Ashley up all night. 'Hopefully' they can get a reprieve on the rent. 'If' they can both find a job. Ashley was a very masculine man at heart, and he felt that not being able to provide for his family was a threat to that masculinity. However, he was not about to let his wife and kid starve or live on the street either. He got up early and went into Laurana's bedroom to wake her up before he went into the bathroom to shower.
    • Laurana was not a morning person, something that she inherited from her parents, so needless to say she was a tad bit cranky when she finally rolled out of bed. “Dad,” she said, stifling a yawn, “why are we up so early?”
    • Ashley stood before her, fully dressed and shaved, and only mildly irritated that Laurana hadn't gotten dressed. He wanted both of them to make a good impression where he planned on going. “Lori, get ready. It's high time that someone met you.”
    • Chapter Five Laurana stuck close by her father's side as they approached the rich part of Pleasantview. Taking a timid glance around, she whispered, “Is there where Grandma lives?” “Yep. Your mom used to live here, too.” “Really? Wow! Is Grandma here?” “No she isn't, at least not right now. But your grandfather is.”
    • As if on cue, Xander stepped out onto his porch to fetch his morning newspaper. He stopped in his tracks when he saw Ashley and what he assumed to be his granddaughter. That realization also made him pause.
    • Xander walked down the steps and stood in front of his daughter's husband. “What do you want?” he asked without preamble. Ashley sighed. “Mr. Lewis, do you mind if we come inside? It's a bit cold out here.” Xander nodded reluctantly and led them into the house.
    • Ashley stepped off to the side and made himself inconspicuous as Laurana began speaking to Xander. “So, you're my Grandpa?” she asked quietly, curiosity overcoming her shyness.
    • Xander looked down at the little girl, seeing traces of Aviendha, and thus himself, in her facial features. “Uh, yes, I guess I TOTALLY am.” He watched the very familiar mannerisms of his own daughter echoed as Laurana thought about his answer. “If you are my grandpa, then why didn't you get me a birthday present?” Xander was both hurt and amused; clearly she was not a Romance Sim.
    • He turned to the bookshelf and pulled off a gift wrapped box. “That's not true. I TOTALLY did. I just, erm, forgot to give it to your grandmother.”
    • Laurana held the present in her hands as she listened to him continue. “Sometimes adults can be TOTALLY stupid and make mistakes. I hope you like what I got for you...” Xander cleared his throat.
    • Laurana beamed up at Xander. “Thank you Grandpa! I like presents!” She turned to where her father was standing. “Daddy? Can I open it?” Ashley nodded. “Sure Lori, why don't you open it and then play outside on the jungle gym. I need to talk to Grandpa.” With a gleeful laugh, Laurana ran outside with the present in tow.
    • “I TOTALLY don't appreciate being manipulated,” Xander began angrily when Laurana went outside. “Tough. I have about had it with both you and Aviendha in regards to this crap. How long, huh? How long were you going to go before you met your granddaughter? To what ends? How does this grudge benefit anyone?” Ashley sighed and rubbed his forehead before continuing. “Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to come off like that, especially since I'm here to beg for your help.” Ashley told Xander about losing his job and how that he and Aviendha were out of money.
    • When he finished, Xander looked Ashley up and down. “So you are TOTALLY admitting that you have failed to provide for my daughter and granddaughter?” Ashley hung his head, ashamed. “Pretty much, yeah. I really didn't want to put it like that, but...yeah, essentially.” “What would you have me do about the situation?” Ashley sighed. “I want you to let Avi and Lori move back here. I know you said that you wouldn't welcome me into your home, but I came here hoping that you would forgive Aviendha and let her come home. I would like for her to be provided for and for Laurana to have all the best options available to her. That is something that I can't do right now.” Xander's voice grew cold. “So you are willing to abandon your wife because times are tough?”
    • Anger flushed Ashley's cheeks. “No. I am not abandoning her. I don't regret marrying her, and I know she doesn't regret marrying me. When I can get together enough money, I'm going to want them back. But I would rather they are comfortable, here, than suffering while I struggle to make ends meet. By no means am I intending to abandon them.” Xander gave Ashley a speculative look, but Ashley didn't notice as he had turned his gaze to the floor, utterly humiliated. “Okay,” Xander said, “I will come by tomorrow to help my family move back home. This has TOTALLY gone on long enough.”
    • Ashley let out a small sigh of relief. Turning way, Ashley quietly said, “That's all I'm asking for. Thank you, Mr. Lewis.” Xander nodded silently as Ashley called for Laurana to get ready to leave.
    • “Thank you again for the present, Grandpa!” Laurana reached up and gave Xander a kiss goodbye. “You're welcome, sweetheart. I'll see you tomorrow...”
    • As they were leaving, Ashley looked down at his daughter and noticed her looking at the surrounding trees and the neighboring park. “Would you like to live here, Lori?” he asked quietly. “Yeah. It's real pretty.”
    • Ashley increased his pace so he could pull a bit ahead of Laurana, unwilling to let her see his face. “Good, I'm glad you think so. I want you to be happy.” ***
    • The night had not been pleasant. Not one to keep secrets from his wife, Ashley told Aviendha exactly where he and Laurana had been, and what the outcome of the meeting with her father was. Aviendha was furious and refused to go along with the decision. She ranted, she raged, and she screamed; but Ashley remained adamant. So she did the only thing left that she could do. The couch was about as uncomfortable to sleep on as Ashley figured it would be, but he still managed to get up early enough to get the newspaper before someone stole it. As he sat there, scanning the job section, he heard a knock on the door. He nodded silently to Laurana to have her go answer it.
    • Xander was surprised when he saw Laurana greet him with a scowl. “Mom and Dad fought all night long and now they are mad at each other. I don't want to live away from my Dad, and you're mean for making me!” “Wh..what? Wait, no, I...” Xander was confused as Laurana turned and ran away from the door. Uncertain, Xander followed her into the apartment.
    • He made it less than ten steps before he was accosted by his very angry daughter. “This framming blows, Dad! I don't know what you did to convince Ashley that he wasn't good enough for me, after all this time, but congratulations on finally getting what you want!” “I said I was going to come and...” “Come and take me and Laurana away. And you had better believe that I'm just as pissed off at Ashley about the two of you making this deal. But I'm just the delicate little woman who can't make her own decisions, isn't that right?” “I TOTALLY...” “Whatever, Dad. Let's go.” Aviendha and Laurana both managed to flounce identically to the door with a bewildered Xander following them.
    • Stopping in the doorway, Xander turned around and looked at Ashley, who was still sitting on the couch trying to maintain his composure. “Um, aren't you coming?” Xander asked, still confused by everyone's anger.
    • A hopeful smile spread across Ashley's face. “Really?” Xander blinked. “Yeah. I TOTALLY said that I was going to come over and help my family move back home. You are my daughter's husband and father to my grandchild. That makes you family.”
    • As Ashley got up to follow everyone out, Xander laughed with a sudden realization as to why everyone was upset. Smiling a bit as he saw the delighted smiles on the other three's faces, he chuckled and said, “The first thing we need to do is to TOTALLY learn how to communicate better. Come on, let's go home. There's a nice, hot meal waiting for us.”
    • Chapter Six Everyone had remained tactfully silent about Goopy not being present for Eden's birthday party. Everyone except for Amelia's mother, who claimed to be anything but tactful. “Where's Goopy? He ought to be here for his daughter's birthday!” Someone coughed uncomfortably as someone else whispered, “Who invited her?” “I don't know. Not me,” was the whispered response.
    • Mary looked cooly over at her rude guest before responding. “Gil is at work, so he is unable to make it for the party.”
    • Mary put on a cheery smile and tickled Eden's tummy. “But that's okay, isn't it? Yes it is because we're going to have so much fun without him, aren't we? Yes we are!” The baby laughed as Mary blew out the candles.
    • As soon as she was changed into prettier clothes, Eden crawled around everyone's feet, demanding attention and rewarding them with laughs and smiles. She absolutely loved the attention that everyone gave her.
    • Sebastian pretty much made sure that Eden paid the most attention to him, though. After Eden had made her rounds amongst all of the guests, Sebastian swooped her up into his arms and began playing with her. Before the birthday cake was even finished, he had managed to take her off into the living room to teach her how to talk.
    • The birthday party was a success, as always, and the guests went home pleased. A couple of them saw Goopy arrive home as they were leaving and they muttered amongst themselves about his supposed 'late work hours.' Goopy groaned inwardly when he walked inside and saw Eden resting a tired head on Mary's shoulder, clearly aged up to a toddler. Mary gave her husband a cold smile and said, “Well look who decided to show up, Eden! Is that, no, it can't possibly be. Why, yes! It is your daddy!”
    • Goopy scratched his head and affected an aggrieved air. “Aw come on Mare, it's not like she's going to remember. She's only a baby!”
    • Mary continued to talk to Eden as if Goopy couldn't hear her. “Well, we had fun without Daddy, didn't we? Yes we did! You were quite the center of attention, weren't you? Yes you were! It didn't matter if Daddy was here or not, did it? No it didn't! It doesn't really matter if Daddy is around at all. No it doesn't! Especially since Mommy can't have any more babies. No she can't! It's just you and me, isn't it Eden? Yes it is!”
    • Goopy turned to leave the room. “Screw you, Mary. Come talk to me when you stop being such a bitch.” He heard her gasp at the insult and he smirked to himself as he went upstairs.
    • Mary managed to put aside her anger, though, as she took Eden to the potty training chair. “Now Eden, you're a big girl now. And big girls don't wear diapers, do they?” Mary's voice quivered as she talked to her child.
    • Eden looked up at her mother. “Mommy sad?” Mary blinked and a tear fell from her eye down to her chin. Brushing it off her face, Mary replied, “No, Eden. Mommy is not sad. Mommy is happy and perfect. Yes she is. Now go potty like a big girl.” Eden dutifully did as she was told while Mary made sure that no more of the threatening tears fell from her eyes.
    • After Mary put the child down for bed, Goopy quietly walked into the room. “Hey Doll Face, I'm sorry for calling you a bitch.” He reached out to hold Mary's hand. Mary jerked it away and glared at him. Vehemently she whispered, “Don't you ever touch me again. Do you think I'm stupid? Did you think I wouldn't notice the blonde hairs on your clothes or the smell of her perfume?” “What are you talking about?” “You bloody well know what I'm talking about! Go sleep on the couch. Or better yet, go to your little tramp because I don't want you anymore. As soon as I find out how I can get a divorce, I will. We're through!” She left Eden's bedroom and went into hers, closing the door. The door opened again as Mary tossed out a blanket and pillow. The door closed again, louder than before, and the distinct click of the lock echoed through the hall. “Crap...” Goopy whispered to himself.
    • Surprisingly enough, Mary had no problems falling asleep that night. As she was drifting off, she discovered that she no longer felt a heavy feeling in her chest. She couldn't remember the last time she felt so light.
    • Eden had blissfully slept through her parents' argument, her little dream world unaffected by what was surely going to be a pivotal point in her life. She only stirred slightly as another person entered her cheerful pink bedroom to gaze down upon her.
    • Lillian looked down upon Eden with a small smile on her face. “Finally. It is mine,” she whispered.
    • Chapter Seven For dramatic effect, Lillian had placed herself in the front entry before settling down to meditate. Before she slipped completely into the zen zone, she exerted some of her magical powers and allowed herself to float in between the first and second floors. She planned on laying her claim as rightful heiress to the legacy as dramatic and cinematic as possible. It was those little touches that made her distinctive.
    • She didn't have to wait that long before the usurper and his supposed family woke up and saw her. Her eyes flitted open slowly and she smiled when she saw Sebastian attempting to take a stand against her. Not listening to what they said, Lillian gracefully lowered herself back to the ground.
    • “Why don't you come down here so I can monologue like a proper villain.” Lillian waved her hand and Kitty, Mary and Sebastian found themselves before her. “Excellent. Now, as I was saying, you all now have this excellent opportunity to listen to my grand master plan that was inevitably your undoing. I realize that you have been most anxious to know, especially you, Kitty. Or should I say, Tribebohemian?
    • Mary and Sebastian gave Kitty a questioning look. Kitty looked back at them blandly.
    • “Oh, come now. Do you mean to tell me that you never told my brother exactly who and what you are? I realize that with everyone's implantation to the Pleasantview dimension, a lot of their awareness had been erased; but I thought you would be honest with your loving and adoring husband.” Lillian gave a small laugh. “I must say, though, that I truly appreciate all the kind words you said about me in God World. Would you like me to repeat them back to you? What were they? Oh, yes. “'I wonder what Lillian's next big plan is. She's such a badass! I actually fear her. Though I will say, that if she murders me, I'm kicking her ass!'” Lillian laughed. “You have every right to fear me, though I will not waste my time on murdering you. Oh, but the next quote is my favorite. “'Lillian is just so evil. I LOVE it! She doesn't compromise her wickedness for anything. She's like Voldemort for crying out loud. I bet she even bleeds black. Now that's a villain!' “Rest assured, Tribebohemian, I bleed red. However, I'm quite certain that your good and loving Sebastian wouldn't appreciate your love for my evilness, now would he?”
    • Kitty sighed. “You became self aware. That wasn't supposed to happen. Only me and Cecil are self aware, and we both know how to keep our mouths shut.” Lillian smiled again. “The author likes to keep it simple, does she not?”
    • Confused, Sebastian looked at his wife while he wrung his hands. “Author? What? You mean you know what Lillian is talking about?” Kitty only nodded in response. A vague memory passed through Sebastian's mind; a memory of talking to his mother about authors and character popularity. “But, wait, you aren't...my...author. Are you?” Kitty opened and shut her mouth a couple of times before responding. “I am, kind of, yeah.” “WHAT? What do you mean, 'kind of'?” “Sebastian! This is not the time. I will explain later...if there is a later...” There was a distinct tone of command in Kitty's voice, one that Sebastian had never heard before. Lillian watched with a small cruel smile. “You have been around it for so long that you do not feel it anymore, do you, Sebby? I can certainly feel it. That distinct, more there feeling. You have just grown used to it. I would have to say that is a rather large secret to be keeping from a husband, especially in such a loving and trusting marriage.”
    • Mary had enough. Eden was going to be waking up soon, and the child needed to be fed and cared for. She stepped close to Lillian and said, “Listen here you...miscreant! I do not know who you think you are, but this is my house, my family, and my legacy. I will not tolerate anyone threatening that!” Lillian raised her eyebrows and laughed again. She was truly enjoying this little confrontation. “Well, well. You finally grew a backbone and learned to stand up to me, didn't you? I must admit, I find it terribly amusing that you turned out to be a girl. I would apologize for that little error; but I am not particularly sorry, so I will not.” “What on earth are you talking about?”
    • Before Lillian could answer, Goopy entered the foyer yawning and scratching his armpit. “What the hell is up with all the screaming? Some people are trying to sleep. On the couch.” He stopped abruptly when he saw Lillian and he set his body into his Romance Strut pose, grinning at her. “Hey, who is the rockin' hot witchy babe?” Heck, if Mary wants to divorce me, I can show her that there are plenty of other fish in the sea, he thought to himself as he waggled his eyebrows.
    • Lillian was not affected in the way that Goopy had hoped. Instead of possibly swooning, she pulled out her magic wand as she shrieked, “I will not tolerate slime such as you looking at me in that manner!”
    • Goopy threw his arms up uselessly as the black and blue magic enveloped him. It reached inside his mind, ripped it inside out, and placed it back into his head.
    • In a flash, it was over. The only thing that appeared different on Goopy was that the lascivious look he had on his face before was replaced with a rather vacant expression. Drool dribbled down his chin as he began to babble about how good a grilled cheese sandwich would taste at that moment. “Be thankful that I didn't do to you what I did to Man Maid,” Lillian taunted.
    • She turned back to Mary. “Now where was I? Oh yes, I remember. I was about to inform you that you may now drop the act of 'not remembering' for I am not fooled. The memory wipe should have affected everyone who knew you, with the sole exception of you and me. “Come now, Zane, surely you must remember my greatest moment of triumph before this one.”
    • “How could you possibly forget how you cried and pleaded for me to stop as the flames enveloped you? How could you possibly forget your tortured screams of agonizing pain as I burned you back down to the basic Reaper Child components?”
    • “Surely, as a child of the Grim Reaper, you would be aware that the basic component can be easily mixed in with any liquid.”
    • “Surely, then, you would be aware that whoever drinks that concoction would then become pregnant. Of course, I did not plan on having Sebastian be the one who got impregnated, but I do find that aspect rather amusing.”
    • “Surely, then, you must remember that you are my son. A boy. Though I will admit that 'Mary' is a rather nice girl's name. A bit plain for my taste, but very feminine sounding.”
    • A number of emotions clamored for Mary's attention. Confusion was at the very top, though. “I..I have no idea what you are talking about!” “You do not remember living with me? You do not remember having your pitiful little crush on the girl next door? Surely you must know that the same little girl is now the woman that your...” Lillian snickered, “your husband has been having his little dalliance with. You do not remember being so very lonely, wanting to play outside and have friends? “You do not remember desperately wanting to move to this very house so you could swim in the pool? You ought to be thanking me instead of denying the truth, you know. I essentially gave you everything you ever wanted.” Mary shook her head in negation at every one of Lillian's questions and for the second time in less than a day, tears filled Mary's eyes. “What kind of mother are you?”
    • Lillian ignored the question as she thought in a perplexed manner. “That is decidedly odd. You should have remembered all of those things...” She shrugged it off with an evil laugh. “Well, I guess I used too much power upon your weak form. That would also explain why your were born a girl instead of a boy.”
    • “It does not matter, however. You are my son, you were named heir, and you bore me a grandchild. By default I am the legacy heiress, not Sebastian. And now that your usefulness is complete, I plan to kill you and anybody else who gets in my way.” Lillian drew upon her powers deeply and a mixture of green and black was visible in the flames that were gathering around Lillian's form.
    • Right as the magical buildup was reaching its peak, a bony hand touched Lillian's arm. A audible sound of powering down was heard as the swirling vortex was diminished instantly.
    • The Grim Reaper looked at Lillian as a sense of anger, underlying with sadness, filled the room. “Enough,” Grim said. His tone was quite, but it rang with authority.
    • Lillian turned to face him. She could feel that her powers where being held at bay with only his touch. “You dare to interrupt in the affairs of mortals, Thanatos?” “I do when it comes to these mortals...Lillian.” “Only your touch can stop me. You cannot hold onto me forever.”
    • Continuing to hold her arm, Grim replied with, “I do not intend to.” Before she could struggle free, Grim turned to the Devereaux family and said, “She is wrong. I will return later to explain everything.” And just as suddenly as Grim appeared, both he and Lillian disappeared.
    • Sebastian crossed his arms and glared at Kitty. “Start from the very beginning. What exactly have you been hiding from me?” A pained expression crossed Kitty's face. However, she crossed her arms and stated in that odd commanding voice, “Not now. Console Mary. I'll take care of Goopy. Then we'll talk.” Mary was completely oblivious as she sobbed into her hands. “Not perfect. Not perfect at all!” *** (To be continued...)