Finding Consort Ch 10


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With Consort gone, Veronica struggles to move on. Will she pull it together or will things fall apart?

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Finding Consort Ch 10

  1. 1. Chapter Ten With Consort gone, Veronica struggles to move on. Will she pull it together or will things fall apart?
  2. 2. Welcome back to Finding Consort Redux by Kelyns! It’s the same old silly story, now in PowerPoint! This chapter was originally Chapter 11 and Chapter 12, Parts 1 and 2, in case anyone was wondering, and let’s get to it. I believe we left off with Veronica trying to cope with the sudden loss of her husband. Ch 10: Square One
  3. 3. Veronica's POV *Sigh* Hey, simmers. Sorry if I don't have a more cheery greeting for you, but I'm depressed. Having your husband die during your wedding party will do that to you. As I said last chapter, without my husband I feel lost. I'm hoping this vacation will give me some direction. Consort and I had planned to honeymoon in the Far East and so that is where I'm going now.
  4. 4. Here I am checking in at the Flaming Dragon Hotel. And this picture actually makes more sense than I thought originally, because there's a time difference between home and Takemizu Village, so by the time I flew here, it really was the next day. "Hello, and welcome to the Flaming Dragon Hotel. How may I assist you?" "Hi. I wanted to check in; I have a reservation under the name Veronica Capp-" "Oh, yes, you and your husband booked the honeymoon suite. Everything is all ready for you. Oh, and congratulations on getting married."
  5. 5. "...A-Actually, my husband just died. I'm here by myself." "...Oh, I just thought that, with tiara and everything... Um, never mind. I'll just put you in another room. Sign here." "O-Ok. T-thank y-you." *Sniff* "Enjoy your stay Mrs. Capp."
  6. 6. "But I'm not a Mrs. anymore!" I wailed. "My life is over. It's lost all meaning, and now I'm doomed to spend the rest of my sorry life all alone!" Hotel guy: "Um, oops?" Guess I shouldn't have called her Mrs. Capp, he thinks to himself.
  7. 7. Ok, Veronica, get a hold of yourself. You've got to pull yourself together; the other guests are starting to stare. You can do this. You're going to be okay. Just think happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. ...Oh, who am I kidding; I don't have any happy thoughts! I cried for the rest of the morning.
  8. 8. Eventually, I ran out of tears, and decided to take a bubble bath to relax. This trip was supposed to be relaxing after all. But all I kept thinking about was how alone I was and how Consort and I were supposed to take this trip together. H-he always s- said he w-wanted to s-see the w-w-world... *Tears Start To Form* I guess I wasn't cried out after all, because I cried for the rest of the evening and most of the next day, too.
  9. 9. Needless to say, company of any kind was not welcome. No, I wanted to be alone and wallow in my misery.
  10. 10. I spent the majority of the next two days in one of three places: the bed, the tub, or the couch. I lounged around all day, marveling at the pitiful state my life had become. I went over my life in my mind, trying to figure out what went wrong and when. Ditto, for my wedding day. I berated myself over and over again, for the mistakes I made that day. There were so many signs I didn't see; I should have never let that—that—scum into my home. I couldn't believe I had ever once believed in happy endings. And when I got tired of alternating back and forth from self-pity and self-loathing, there was always tv. The hotel got all the same channels as back home, and there was no shortage of made-for-TV movies to watch.
  11. 11. Or instead, I daydreamed, picturing what my life would have been without Dagmar, imagining what I'd do if I could go back in time to that fateful night when she called me to go on an outing. I'd keep my butt home, that's for sure. And maybe send her a bag of flaming poop.
  12. 12. The hotel even had a small library, so I could read about other people's sorry lives in the rare event I stopped wanting to analyze mine. As you could see, I stayed mostly in my room, keeping to myself. I didn't want to interact with anyone just yet.
  13. 13. In fact, I didn't have to leave my room at all, thanks to the hotel's room service. They brought everything I needed right to my door, and the bellman/concierge/everything guy was always extra nice to me. I think he felt sorry for me. Either that or he wanted a tip.
  14. 14. Anyway, I usually didn't have much of an appetite, so I ate only when I had to, as I had no desire to starve. But meals were always a lonely solitary affair, and I usually ended up staring out the window, thinking about all the romantic dinners Consort and I would never have, becoming more depressed than ever. And then the tears would start again.
  15. 15. And I would end right back up in bed, crying my eyes out, wishing for the life that wasn't meant to be. And then I would go to bed, hoping beyond hope that when I woke up, things would be different. That the past couple of days would just be a sick twisted dream.
  16. 16. But when I got up in the morning, all the awful memories would come rushing back, and I knew that everything was still the same as the day before. Consort was dead, and I was alone. And then the tears would start again. It was like that for two days, and probably would have continued that way for the rest of the vacation. But it didn't because on the third day of my vacation, I got a phone call after my morning bath.
  17. 17. "Hello?" I said sleepily, thinking it was the front desk or something. "Veronica!" "KB? How'd you get this number? Look, what do you want? I'm tired. I'm gonna go back to sleep, m'kay?" "That's just it, V! You can't go back to sleep! You have to quit moping around all day! Enough is enough already. Besides, you're boring the readers."
  18. 18. "Well, excuuussse me! I'm sorry. I thought that, you know, since my husband just died, it'd be ok if I moped around a bit." *Sigh* "That isn't what I meant, Veronica. I know you're upset but-" "But that's just it! I AM upset. Consort is dead. I feel like I've just lost everything. Maybe I don't want to do anything, ok? Maybe I just want to sit around all day because I'm, oh, I don't know, grieving! So back off, ok?"
  19. 19. "Veronica, calm down. No one said you couldn't mourn Consort, but you do have to stop moping. It's not healthy. You can't just stay holed up in that room all day." "It's my vacation, and I can mope if I want to." "Veronica," KB said with a sigh, "Look, you're right about one thing. Consort is gone, and he's not coming back. Sooner or later, and I mean sooner rather than later, you're going to have to accept that and try to live without him." "I know, I know..."
  20. 20. "But you can't do that if you barricade yourself in your room and sit around feeling sorry for yourself. That's not going to solve anything." "I know—” "And it wouldn't kill you to go outside, you know. I bet the weather's nice there. But you wouldn't know, would you? You haven't stepped foot outside the hotel since you got there. V, have you even left your hotel room?"
  21. 21. "Look, that is none of your business, ok? And for your information, I'm fine!" "It is my business. You know why? Because you're my friend and I'm worried about you. And you're not fine, V, and you're never going to be fine if you stay too scared to leave your room all by yourself." "I'm not scared!" "Yes, you are." "I am not!"
  22. 22. "You are, too." "Am not!" "Are, too." "Not!" "Veronica!" "Ok, maybe a little."
  23. 23. "Look, I'm not saying you have to go out and climb mountains or whatever. You don't have to do anything major, start small. You are on vacation; I'm sure that there are plenty of things to do to help take your mind off Consort." "But I don't wanna forget Consort!" "I didn't say you had to! Not thinking about him all day everyday isn't the same as forgetting about him. You can honor his memory by making sure you live your life well, by having fun and taking advantage of every opportunity. Didn't Consort say there were a lot of things he wished he'd done in life?"
  24. 24. "Well..." "And wouldn't he want you to be happy and take advantage of an opportunity to travel and see other sights? Wouldn't he want you to stop moping and have some fun?" "I guess..." "Then stop moping, V! And, like I said, you don't have to do anything big right now. Do the little stuff first. Eat in the hotel restaurant. Go for a walk. Take a tour. Change out of your wedding tiara..."
  25. 25. "Hmm, I guess the tiara has to go, now, doesn't it?“ "Yes. Yes it does. And you know what? Doesn't Takemizu Village have a spa? That'd be perfect for you! Then you can relax and mope around somewhere other than your room!" *Rolls Eyes* "Yeah, sure.“ "No, seriously, V, I think going to the spa will be good for you. Promise me you'll get out of the hotel and go, ok?"
  26. 26. "KB, I don't wanna-" "Veronica..." *Sigh* "Fine. I'll go." "And change out of the tiara!" "Yeah, yeah, whatever. Bye." "Bye, V. See you when you get back. And don't make me call you again!" "Bye, KB."
  27. 27. Annoying as she is sometimes, KB did have a point. I suppose I couldn't walk around wearing a tiara forever. 'Tis a bit pretentious. Anyway, when I looked in the armoire and saw all the clothes I had previously bought for my honeymoon I nearly burst into tears again. Without Consort, there would be no need for fancy dinner dresses, skimpy bathing suits, or lacey underwear. *Sigh* I needed a new wardrobe.
  28. 28. So, after a quick inquiry at the hotel's front desk, I found myself at the Takemizu Pagoda and Market, buying clothes. And if there is one thing I love, it's buying new stuff. So, shopping did cheer me up a little. Anyway, I had just finished making my purchases...
  29. 29. When I saw this funnily dressed guy hanging around by the corner of the lot. Apparently, he was a ninja. I asked him where his sword was, if in fact he was a ninja, but he evaded the question by asking a question of his own. He asked me which came first, the ninja or the sword, which suspiciously sounded a lot like the chicken or the egg question, if you ask me, but whatever. I said the ninja, and he said I was right. Then he proceeded to teach me the secret art of the ninja: teleportation.
  30. 30. Which I have to admit is pretty darn cool, funny faces aside.
  31. 31. After that I stopped back at the hotel to change (Tourists were giving me funny looks while I was wearing the tiara; one kid asked if I was a princess! I told her yes, of course, but asked that she keep my secret to herself so that I might have some privacy.) and asked the tour guide for directions to the spa. "Oh, you want the Takemizu Village Hot Springs? Walk about a block that way and hang a right." "Thanks. Say, is your name Komei, by any chance?"
  32. 32. "Nope, name's Reginald." "Really? You don't say... Well, do you have any relatives named Komei?" "Nope. Only child." "Huh. Well you look mighty familiar." "Yeah, I get that a lot. But I've lived here all my life, swear!" "Hmm. Well, thanks for the directions."
  33. 33. I decided to have lunch at the spa. The chef urged me to try the local specialty dish, chirashi. It was delicious, even if it took twice as long as usual to eat because I kept dropping my chopsticks. Let me tell you, using chopsticks is harder than it looks—and it looks hard.
  34. 34. After lunch, I got one of those massages everyone in the Far East was raving about—an acupressure massage. I even learned how to give one myself. Apparently, the way you learn to give a massage is to get a massage. Go figure. But, hey, I wasn't about to complain.
  35. 35. After the massage, I spent a leisurely afternoon in the hot springs talking with some of the locals and other tourists, finding out what was good to see and do here. Pretty soon though, I was tired and went back to the hotel to have a quick nap before dinner. I guess KB was right; I did enjoy myself today.
  36. 36. That night I ate at the hotel restaurant. I was hesitant at first—I was tempted to just stay in my room and order room service, but I remembered what KB said and decided to give it a try.
  37. 37. As I read my menu, I surreptitiously looked around to see if anyone was staring at me because I was dining alone. They weren't. Either that, or they noticed me looking and looked away while I was looking.
  38. 38. Dinner was good, not too much different from home, actually.
  39. 39. But it wasn't long before I was sobbing into my fried chicken. I just kept watching all the couples and families come in and eat, and it just made me feel all alone—like I was the only one on the whole planet who didn't have someone. *Ahem* Tell the truth, Veronica. Ok, ok, so there were no big groups of families or other couples dining here; in fact, most people ate alone, too. BUT I FELT LONELY, OK? So sue me.
  40. 40. After my outburst of tears, I soon realized that everyone in the restaurant really WAS staring at me. I guess I caused a bit of a scene. So I retreated outside, where I could find some peace and quiet, and found myself in front of the Zen garden. The concierge had said earlier that raking the Zen garden was an old past time that helped you think and find peace and tranquility. So I raked.
  41. 41. And meditated. And the concierge was right. I did feel calmer. And, for the first time since I got here, I didn't cry myself to sleep that night.
  42. 42. The next morning I went to the Immortal Zen Garden, and, after breakfast, I enjoyed a cup of fresh steaming-hot tea. If there's one thing the Far Easterners know, it's tea. My mother used to say that a cup of fresh tea can heal the soul. *Rolls Eyes* Veronica, you don't have a mother. Well, it's what my mother would have said if I'd had one. Tea does wonders. It can heal anything; just like chocolate.
  43. 43. Anyway, it was also there that I learned a Far Eastern gesture: the bow.
  44. 44. It took a few tries...
  45. 45. But eventually, I got it right.
  46. 46. I even participated in a tea ceremony with a few of the locals. They were very friendly and told me all about what it was like growing up in the Far East while I told them what it was like back in Veronaville. I asked them if they minded that their hometown had suddenly become a tourist attraction over the past few years, but they said not at all, that they liked meeting new people and that the tourism helped the local economy. One of them even said that he and his friends got paid to walk around town, greet tourists, and teach them how to bow. Imagine! Getting paid just to say hi!
  47. 47. Later on, I went over to the Lucky Shrine and played mahjong in the park. I even won a few games. We weren't playing for money, though. Unfortunately.
  48. 48. And that afternoon, I went on a few tours to see the rest of Takemizu Village. "Are you sure your name isn't Komei?" *Sigh* "Yes, ma'am, I'm sure. Now, you want to go on a tour or not?"
  49. 49. I got very lucky, too. On my last tour, I found a map to a secret location! Though I'm not quite sure how secret it is because the concierge told me that the place on the map wasn't so secret, except perhaps to the tourists, since all the locals knew where and what it is. But it isn't even so secret among the tourists either, since loads of them find these secret maps strewn all over the place, put there by the local tourism board, which thinks that finding secret maps help make tourists feel special. Well, I certainly felt special until the concierge burst my bubble.
  50. 50. When I went to bed that night, I felt happier than I'd been for days. Being here and participating in so many local customs helped bring back a positive outlook on life. I decided to make the most of this trip, immerse myself in the local culture, and learn anything and everything I could here. Being here was—is—a dream come true; something I'd wanted to do for a long time. I knew in my heart that Consort would want me to have a good vacation and enjoy myself.
  51. 51. So, the next morning I immersed myself in the local culture, complete with robes and everything. I was a bit skeptic at first, but it's actually quite roomy and comfy. Anyway, after breakfast and tea, I set off to find the "secret" lot.
  52. 52. The map basically makes you hike all over town until you find this path that leads to a secluded clearing in the woods. I can't really tell why this place is supposed to be a secret; there isn't much of interest here. The clearing, which looked like it had been untouched for a while, except for the zen garden to my right, which was obviously cared for, contained a small pond and a large pagoda that had no walls.
  53. 53. There, I could make out a man in brown robes mediating in the distance. Seeing no one and nothing else around, I decide to go investigate. "Um, excuse me," I said. The man continued humming and mediating, as if he couldn't hear me.
  54. 54. "Um, hello?" I tried again. "I don't mean to interrupt, but... well I was just following this secret map and—” The old man sighed and muttered something that sounded like 'stupid tourism board' under his breath. "I'm sorry," I said. "I just thought that there'd be something or someone here... Look, I don't mean to interrupt—Sorry to bother you; I'll just leave." "No, no, since you're here," the old man replied as he stood up, "You might as well stay. I don't mean to be rude; I was just practicing my daily meditation."
  55. 55. "Oh! Sorry! I—” "Bah!" he said, waving my apology off. "That's so two minutes ago. It's over with. Done!" Finally standing, the old man leaned in and peered at me closely. "Tell me child, what is your name?" "Veronica Ca—uh, um. I mean Nor—” The old man chuckled. "Do you not even know your own name?" "Well, I just got married, you see, but my husband died soon after, and I'm not sure whether I should use his last name when—”
  56. 56. "Do you know, child, that names have power?" "Really?" "Yes. I can see you are in need of help. Come child; let me teach you Tai Chi." "You'd do that?" "Yes. I live to help others after all, and I think you'd learn much from it. I will share this knowledge with you, as well as some other few bits of my wisdom, so that you may learn what your name is." "That really isn't necess—”
  57. 57. "Come!" And so I learned Tai Chi. While he instructed me, he also lectured me on the meaning of names. "A name," he said, "is power. To know a name is power. To not know a name is a weakness. Knowing the name of a thing gives you power over a thing."
  58. 58. "Why," I asked, not understanding. "When you do not know the name of something, do you not appear ignorant or foolish?" "I guess..." "Thus, a name gives you power, however small, because you know what something or someone is called. It is one less instance for you to feel or appear stupid or foolish."
  59. 59. "Also," he continued, "depending on the nature of the name, you can make someone or something else appear or feel strong or weak. What you call someone can make him or her feel strong, tall, and bold, or short, timid, and weak."
  60. 60. "To name something gives you power over it and how it appears to you, itself, and others. So you see, when you are unsure of your name, what you are really saying is that you are unsure of yourself, that you do not know who you are."
  61. 61. "You mustn't wait for someone to name you, to do so gives them power over you; you must declare your name, and, consequently, who you are and how you want to be seen; doing so says that only you have power over you, that you know who you are, and that you control how you want the world to view you. And you are in control, my child, of how others see you, of how they think of you. So you must declare your name."
  62. 62. "I think I get it," I said, after we finally finished practicing and sat down to tea. "And I don't just mean the Tai Chi, though I think I got the hang of that as well." "I should hope so," the old man replied. "I would hate to think that I wasted a whole afternoon. Besides I don't just teach anybody, only those who have the ability learn what I have to teach them." "But I thought that this place wasn't really a secret? That plenty of people come here. Don't you teach all of them? Isn't this one more thing set up by the Takemizu Tourism board?"
  63. 63. The old man smiled. “It is true that many know the location of this place. But it is not true that I teach everyone who comes here. To some, I teach everything. Some I only teach Tai Chi to, to others I teach nothing and say nothing, and still others don't see anyone at all when they come here. A teacher doesn't teach everything they know to every student, and the same is with my students. I decided who learns what and why." "Oh."
  64. 64. "For example, I know a legend, a legend of such beauty and grace, a legend that inspires hope and courage. But I do not tell this legend to everyone who visits this place because not everyone who visits this place deserves to hear the legend. These people, they are people whose souls are black, empty voids, or people whose souls are shriveled, so small they have no room to place the beauty and wisdom of the legend in their hearts.”
  65. 65. “Instead, I tell the legend to people whose souls are pure and good—well, mostly good anyway. But mostly, I tell the legend to souls who are lost, souls full of light but in need of a little guidance, for it is a legend for souls who need a little push, a little extra strength and courage. This is exactly the reason why I will tell the legend to you.” "Me?"
  66. 66. "Yes, you. You are lost are you not?" "Well, not exactly..." "Did you not say that you wished to find yourself? That you felt lost without your husband?" "...Yes. But I don't remember saying that to you..." The old man laughed. "My child, I am the Wise Old Man. I have lived to see many moons and many suns pass. I see all and know all, especially when it comes to troubled young souls such as yourself," he said, standing up.
  67. 67. "Now listen. Once there lived a young girl..." And he began to tell a story. A story of courage, magic, and grace. It was a story about a lost young girl, someone who was constantly picked on and overlooked, someone who sought to gain the admiration and praise of her friends and family, but only received scorn. When cruel imperial soldiers marching back to the capital from war decided to camp in the town, taking advantage of the villagers' hospitality, demanding free food and housing while destroying everything and everyone in their way, the girl looked for a way to make her home and village safe.
  68. 68. The girl prayed to the village spirit, asking the goddess to grant her a way to save the town. The spirit answered and gave the girl some of its magical powers, which she then used to restore the town. The girl even fought the soldiers, transforming herself into a dragon and scaring the soldiers so thoroughly, they vowed never to come back. The villagers were very thankful, offering all sorts of riches and power; they wanted to make the girl their queen. But the young girl refused, content with just thank-yous and the respect from her fellow people; she continued to live her quiet life, living happily ever after, as they say.
  69. 69. I was moved by the story, captured by words so vivid they seemed to paint a picture over the wise old man's head like magic. It truly was an amazing story. "So what do you think?" the old man asked me. "It's a beautiful story," I smiled. "Thank you for sharing it with me. I can see why it has been passed down all these years and how it can inspire people. If only real life could be like that story. You know, have such neat happy endings." "Ah, but doesn't it?"
  70. 70. "Of course not! Real life's not like that. Such a story couldn't possibly be true." "Why not?" "Because—Because it's just a legend. And legends aren't true... Right?" The old man just shrugged. "You mean it's true?" I asked incredulously. "It really happened?" "Of course it happened." "...But how do you know? How do you know that someone, somewhere years ago didn't just make it up?"
  71. 71. "I know because that legend is the story of this village. And because," he said with a twinkle in his eye, "I was there.” "Because you we—Wait, when did this story take place? Just how old are you?" But he didn't answer. He just smiled and teleported away. "Hey, wait! WAIT! Y—um, um...” And that's when I realized that the old man had never given me his name. I sat there for a while, in shock, just thinking.
  72. 72. Was it real? Was everything that happened that afternoon really real? Or was this some kind of hoax put on by the local tourism board, to make visitors feel special? ...Who knows for sure? I, for one, chose to believe it was real. It wasn't just because I could remember the steps for Tai Chi or because I suddenly had a painted scroll marked the Dragon Legend in my inventory. No, as I recalled his words from earlier that day, I knew, just knew that he was real, that his wisdom and words of encouragement were real. For whatever reason, I had been told the Dragon Legend, and I decided to take the story to heart. It had inspired hope, strength, and courage in me. I walked back to the hotel that night a changed person.
  73. 73. So, here I was, two days later, at the end of my trip, sitting in the bathtub at the hotel, going over the last few days of my trip in my mind. The night I came back from the secret lot, I had thought a lot about what the Wise Old Man had taught me; the Dragon Legend had touched me. I decided that I would—had to, really—change. I could no longer be the crying, quivering mess I had become, not if I was going to gain any sort of stability in my life. I decided that I would be strong and courageous like the girl in the legend. From then on, I would meet my destiny eye to eye, face to face. What will be will be and what will come will come—but I didn't have to sit around and wait for the future to come. I didn't have to mope.
  74. 74. So by the next morning, when I went to visit the local shrine at Lucky Shrine Park, I knew I was going to be okay, Consort or no Consort. I thought about the question the old man had asked me: What is my name? Such a simple question, but one that stumped me nonetheless. Well, I finally had my answer for the old man. I realized that I couldn't be Mrs. Consort Capp, not without Consort. We weren't married long enough for that name to really stick. No, I couldn't be Mrs. Capp...
  75. 75. I was, am, and forever will be Veronica Norwood. Times were tough right now, but I knew I would get through this tragedy just like I got through everything else in my life. It would take time, but I would be strong, just like the girl in the legend. I may not have a guardian spirit, magical powers, or a dragon on my side... But I did have friends, I thought, smiling to myself. And as I made my wish that morning, I knew that, with a little help, somehow, some way, eventually, I would be ok.
  76. 76. Finally, at peace, I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of my trip, whether I was mediating in a zen garden...
  77. 77. Or having tea with the locals. Finally, I was able to smile again, to have fun again, to laugh again.
  78. 78. And boy, was there a lot to laugh at! Like watching the Unsavory Charlatan pickpocket the massage therapist... I didn't even know they could do that...
  79. 79. Then there was that time I came down to have breakfast in the hotel restaurant and discovered that all the other guests were wearing the same outfit. *Shrugs* Maybe they were in a tour group or something...
  80. 80. And one night I found the ninja doing Tai Chi. Normally, he just goes from lot to lot appearing only for a few minutes. But I talked to him, and, apparently, he likes to taunt the tourists by showing up everywhere and doing stuff like this after they have already spent half of their trip running around all over the place, trying to get him to teach them to teleport.
  81. 81. Anyway, by the end of my trip, I was almost back to normal. And it was all thanks to the Wise Old Man. The stories were true; this place really was a place for healing.
  82. 82. "Are you all set to check out, Miss Norwood?" The concierge asked me. "Yes, I think I am. And I wanted to apologize for my outburst when I got here. I was going through a rough time, and well... This place really helped me get through it; I've never had such a great vacation. Thank you for your, and the rest of the staff's, help. The tourism board really knows their stuff." "Aw, don't mention it ma'am. Takemizu just has that effect on people. I'm glad you enjoyed your stay."
  83. 83. And I walked out of that place a changed person. Things were finally looking up, and I couldn't wait to get home. It turns out, though, that things weren’t really so good at all and home was a lot more complicated than I thought. *****
  84. 84. *SIGH* Those white sideboards look familiar? Well they should. I went to go back to the only place I've ever called home, good old 37 Mendoza Lane, after I was cast out of the Capp Mansion. I know what you’re thinking. Cast out? When? Why? Well, it’s kinda a long story. The gist of it is I’m homeless. Yup, you heard right. Homeless. I still can't believe the nerve of those two-bit, two-timing, backstabbers...
  85. 85. Uh, oh. I guess I shouldn't have jammed the doorbell so many times, but I wasn't thinking. Oh, well, Marylena will forgive me once I explain. It's late, but she'll understand; I just didn't know where else to go. Okay, okay, I guess I should explain. You see— "Veronica? Is that you?" "Oh, Marylena," I said desperately, giving her a quick hug.
  86. 86. "You'll never believe what happened to me! I've been kicked out of my own home! I'm homeless!" I exclaimed dramatically. "What?! You poor thing! Come in, come in."
  87. 87. Marylena ushered me inside and closed the door. That's when I noticed she was in her undies. "Oh, I'm sorry, did I wake you? I didn't mean to—It's just—” "It's fine," Marylena interrupted, waving me off. "What's up, though? You look upset and it's the middle of the night. Pretty unusual time for a house call. What happened?"
  88. 88. "Well, you see, it's funny you should ask that... I-I've been kicked out of Capp Mansion. And then—I-I just didn't know where else to go. It's all so sudden and—” "Of course, of course; you came back to the only place you knew. That makes sense."
  89. 89. "Look, don't you worry about a thing, V! You can stay here tonight, and tomorrow we'll figure things out," Marylena said, giving me a quick hug. "Really? Do you mean it? I don't wanna impose..." "Of course you can stay here! Really, you're practically like family; you're always welcome here. What are friends for?" "Thanks, Marylena."
  90. 90. "Sure... But, um, there might be a slight problem..." "Huh? What do you mean?" "Well, uh, you see..."
  91. 91. "Hey, baby," a guy said sleepily as he walked out of the bedroom. "Are you coming back to bed? And who was at the door?"
  92. 92. V: "Oh, when you said there was a problem, you meant there was a problem." M: "Uh, yeah." V: "Well, that's okay, Marylena, I'll find someplace else to stay; I don't want to interrupt anything—” M: "Nonsense, V. You're my best friend! I'll just kick him out." Guy: "Wha? But I thought..."
  93. 93. M: "Would you shut up? I'm trying to have a conversation here! Geez... Well, don't just stand there, scram!" G: "Okay, geez, sorry..." the guy said as he wandered back into the bedroom. M: "Look, Veronica, you're staying here and that's that. Not only do I owe you for hooking me up with this house in the first place, but you're my friend, okay? I'm not just going abandon you and leave you to wander the streets in the middle of the night!" V: "I wouldn't be abandoned, and I'd be okay."
  94. 94. M: "Oh, come on, V, where else are you going to go at this hour? Everything is closed, and Veronaville doesn't have any hotels. I can count on one hand the amount of friends you have that aren't townies and actually live in a house." V: "But—” M: "And two of them are in college! It'd take ages to get to Ravi's or KB's; they're all the way at Sim State and it'd take you half the night to get there! And the only other person nearby is Gilbert, and I'm not letting you stay with that knucklehead. You're staying here, V."
  95. 95. "Well, it's just... Are you sure? Because I really don't want to impose. I'm sure it can't take me that long to get to KB's; she always seems to get over here pretty fast and—” "Stop worrying, V. Geez, KB's right, you really do over think things. You’re not interrupting, I was going to kick him out in the morning and never call him again anyway, so really, you're doing me a favor by giving me an excuse to get rid of him early." "Really?" "Yes. Now let me kick him out, then I'll get you settled, ok?"
  96. 96. M: "Hey... Listen... I kinda need you to leave. My friend's having a rough time right now, and she needs a shoulder to lean on." Guy: "That's, okay; I understand. I got friends, too. You'll call me later, right?"
  97. 97. M: "Yeah, um... No." G: "Wha? But I thought you said what we had was special!" M: “And I thought you understood I was a romance sim,” Marylena muttered. *Sigh* "Listen, it's not you, it's me—” G: *GROAN* M: "No, uh, really! You're a great guy and all, but I'm just not looking for a relationship right now. But thanks for the aspiration boost! Really!" G: "Yeah, sure."
  98. 98. Five minutes later, the guy was gone and Marylena was making me some hot chocolate to calm my nerves. "There," she said handing me a cup. "Now, what happened?"
  99. 99. I took a big gulp of chocolate. "I don't even know where to begin," I mumbled into my cup. "Start at the beginning." "Well," I said, taking a deep breath, "Everything was fine until I came home from vacation." "Oh, yeah? I forgot to ask, how was Takemizu Village?"
  100. 100. "It was amazing... So quiet and peaceful... KB and Ravi were right; the vacation was just what I needed. I was able to relax and clear my head. Think about how I wanted my life to go... How I was going to cope without Consort. I had finally reached some sort of peace and acceptance over his death by the end of the trip, and then—and then... I came home and everything fell apart..." I trailed off, my eyes starting to water. "It's okay, V, take it easy. You don't have to explain everything right away."
  101. 101. "No, no. It's okay," I said, taking another deep breath. "I can talk about it. I want to talk about it. ...I'm just still in shock. *Sigh* "So, I came back, right? And no sooner than I had stepped out of the cab did Kent walk up and insult me, basically calling me a freeloader." "What?" "Yeah, he said something like, 'I'm sure you had a great time jetting all over the world spending someone else's money'.“ "No!"
  102. 102. "Yup. Like I don't work for a living. As if I didn't have my own money. And he is one to talk. I bet he never worked a day in his life." "Probably was a spoiled rich kid." "Exactly. You know, before Goneril made him stay at the Mansion to watch the kids, he was living with Regan. HE was the freeloader." *Sigh* "Anyway, so I was all like 'Whoa, who do you think you are'—and I totally would have ripped him a new one, but he cut me off. He said I'd better not get too comfortable because he was kicking me out."
  103. 103. "What?!" "I know! So, I was like, are you mental? This is my house." "Mmhmm." "And then he said it wasn't anymore. He said that while I was on vacation he and his sisters had gotten my marriage annulled." *GASP* "Oh, my gosh, are you serious? How is that even possible? Is that even possible?"
  104. 104. "Apparently. He said that a judge decided the marriage was invalid because we got married too hastily and I probably took advantage of Consort. Plus then Consort died so soon after the ceremony... Basically, the Capps went to court and made me sound like a harlot out to get their father's money." "But that's so not true! You guys dated for like, what? Two and a half months? That's ages for a sim marriage!" "Unfortunately, the judge didn't see it that way. And I could do absolutely nothing about it because I was thousands of miles away."
  105. 105. "Oh, Veronica, if only I had known, maybe..." *Sighs and Shakes Head* "It's just so unfair. That can NOT be legal." "Well, I think the Capps made sure everything was a secret until they got what they wanted. Besides, this is Sim Law we're talking about here; it's not exactly logical. Anyway, because my marriage is invalid, I don't have any claims to Consort's estate. No house, no money, no nothing. All I had was my suitcase and my car when Kent told me to get off his property." "His property?"
  106. 106. "I know! Being the only adult in the house for a week must have given him a power trip. But he was right. The house didn't belong to me; it belongs to the Capps now. And until Consort's will is deliberated and an owner to the house is named, he's the caretaker. So..." "So he can just kick you out? Wow, that's tough. Please tell me you didn't just let him get away with that." "What could I do? Technically, it's was his house. I just stood there."
  107. 107. "No way. You? Come on, you must have done something." "I'm telling you, I just stood there and let him insult me. I believe his exact words were: 'Look, tramp, I'm going to give you one last chance to get off my property and make sure your filthy lowlife self never darkens my doorway again' and then he threatened to have his butler throw me out." "No. Way. And you just stood there?" "I was stunned. I didn't know how to react. I just found out my marriage was annulled for Plumbbob's sake."
  108. 108. *Shakes Head* "Wow. So, you have absolutely nothing?" "Not exactly. You see after that, Kent went back inside. But just as I was leaving, Hermia stopped me. She was able to sneak out of the house and—” "So soon?" *Shrugs* "She said Kent was already busy making out with Bianca on the couch, so she was able to slip past him." "But I thought—” "That Bianca was a Monty? I know, that was my first thought, too."
  109. 109. "According to Hermia, Kent really has gone on a power trip since Consort's death. She's been staying there ever since I left. I guess he thought with his father gone, there was no more reason to continue the feud." "Wow, the famous Monty-Capp spat over? I can't believe it; that fight's been going on almost 60 years." "Things sure change fast, don't they? Anyway, Hermia, Tybalt, and Juliette had saved all my things for me, so Hermia was able to get me all my old stuff back." "Really? How magnanimous of her."
  110. 110. *Smirks* "It does seem a little odd, doesn't it? But she said that they want to thank me—” "For what?" "Oh, nothing, really. I just helped them out with school and skilling... Made sure they got scholarships and had more family time with Consort. Oh, and I convinced Tybalt to go to college after all, did know? And Juliette even stopped moping about leaving Romeo behind."
  111. 111. "Yeah, that sure sounds like nothing." "Oh, stop. It really wasn't that big of a deal. I wasn't there long, but we were all starting to get close, you know? Almost like a real family. I started to like them a lot... I going to miss them." "It sounds like they'll miss you, too."
  112. 112. *Smiles* "Yeah, well... " *Sighs* "Anyways, I got my stuff back. Then I realized I had quite a few items in my inventory, too. KB had made me save a lot of stuff before I moved. So I think I'll be okay financially, it's just..." "You have no place to live?" "Right, and it was so late at night to be checking out new places..." "So you came here. I get it, V. It's cool. Do you have any idea what you're going to do next, though?"
  113. 113. "I have absolutely no idea." *Sigh* "I just feel lost, you know? I mean, marrying Consort was everything to me, and then I lost him. And just when I got over that, when I was ready to come back to town and throw myself into taking care of Consort's grandkids, I lost that, too. I feel– I don't know. I just don't know what to do with myself anymore. About my life, I mean. The only thing I have left is my job, and I wasn't even sure I was going to go back a week ago! I mean, the only real reason I became a Business Tycoon in the first place was to impress Consort. I thought after we got married, I'd work less, focus on family, you know? But now I don't have Consort or a family, and I haven't the faintest clue how to spend my time anymore!"
  114. 114. "Sounds like you have some thinking to do." "Huh. Yeah." "You know what, though? I think it'll be good for you." "Really?" "Yeah! I mean, I know starting all over right now seems scary, but you can do it! You just need to figure out what you want to do. Once you have a project—a life goal, really—you'll be fine. You just need to think a bit and get yourself back on track. And you can stay here while you do it. I'm always here for you, V."
  115. 115. *Smiles* "Thanks for the confidence, Marylena. What would I do without you?" "Well, right about now, you'd be over at Gilbert's, listening to him sing 'I'm too Sexy' and watching him practice his catwalk." *Simultaneous Laughter* "Thanks, M. You really know how to cheer a girl up." "You're welcome. Now it's late. I better make up the bed for you," Marylena said, standing up.
  116. 116. "Oh, no, I couldn't! I can sleep on the couch." *Rolls Eyes* "Veronica, don't be silly. Take the bed."
  117. 117. But I put my foot down; I wasn't about to ask that Marylena give up her bed for me, so I insisted on sleeping on the couch. It was most definitely a weird experience, especially after being pampered for a week in a five star hotel.
  118. 118. But mostly it was weird because I was sleeping in my old living room, and yet, at the same time, it wasn't my old living room. The paint, furniture, and carpet was different, and I felt like everything was in the wrong place.
  119. 119. So although the couch was comfortable enough, I decided as I woke up that morning that I needed to have a solution to my living situation by the end of the day.
  120. 120. I couldn't sleep here again; it was too weird and brought back too many memories. So, I did the only thing I could do.
  121. 121. Call KB and complain.
  122. 122. "KB! I need you! Come over, quick!" "Sorry, V, I can't." "Wha? Why not? What could possibly be more important than me?!" "Um, Gilbert. It took me all week to come up with a way to cure him and I want make sure he gets the reversal potion today." "But I have no home!"
  123. 123. "Yeah, I know, V, but I want to take care this stuff first." "But what am I supposed to do? I mean I have no home!" *Rolls Eyes* "Stop worrying, V; I've got it all planned out." "You do? But I just told you I was homeless one minute ago." "Hello, omniscient! Besides, you know how gossip travels in this town, and the Capps are one of the most prominent families around. The annulment was all over the papers. And the 'net, too for that matter."
  124. 124. "What? You're kidding me! Well, this is just great; my life has become entertainment for the masses!" *Rolls Eyes* "Your life is already entertainment for the masses. But don't worry about that. I have a plan. Remember how you and Consort planned to start your own business together?" "Yeah... But I thought you said you didn't listen to the conversations we had. You said we were too lovey-dovey and made you want to barf."
  125. 125. "Veronica, focus. ANYway, I've been thinking. You're the type of person that needs lots of projects to keep her busy, otherwise you'd just go insane with boredom." "Ain't that the truth." "Exactly. And what better project is there for a fortune sim like you than achieving the greatest fortune sim want of all time?" "You mean—” "Yup."
  126. 126. "Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh! I can't believe it! I've always wanted to raise puppies!" "Yes, see—wait, what? No, I'm not talking about puppies! I'm talking about owning five top businesses!” "Oh. Ooohhh." "Yeah, now do you get it? Think of it, V. You'll earn the respect and fame of the neighborhood—no other famous fortune sim, absolutely no one else, not even the Landgraabs, have achieved so great a feat."
  127. 127. "But, wait. Doesn't Nina Caliente have five top businesses, too?" "Nina Caliente isn't in this neighborhood!" *Ahem* "Besides, she isn't a fortune sim. But, you are. And you'll earn the respect of everyone in this neighborhood if you do it. No one would be able to look down on you or treat you like scum! Everyone would look up to you and beg to work in your stores! You'd be the toast of the town, everyone would want to know you, reporters would run after you and beg to write your reviews, you'd be the new famous sim in town, more famous than—Well, more famous than even Consort himself ever was." *GASP*
  128. 128. "Yes, and all of Veronaville would know your name—you'd be the new Capps. And best of all, no one could ever call you a golddigger then—cuz you'll be the simmillionaire! Why, they'd all be running around, trying to marry you!" "Simmillionaire?" "Yes, because that's the best part of this plan, V. You'll—” "Make lots of money!"
  129. 129. "Now, you're getting it. I knew you'd like that part best; after all, making money is a fortune sim's favorite pastime, right? So listen, I've already scouted out a few lots for you and drawn up some business plans—I’ve got the best ideas for businesses, too...”
  130. 130. And then KB proceeded to discuss her plans—what I should sell, where I should sell it, who I should hire, layouts, designs schemes, store names, catch phrases—you name it, and we discussed it. That was all fine and dandy. It was actually a bit comforting that she put so much thought into it, because although I had spent the past six months or so in the business track, I hadn't the faintest clue how to run a business. But despite all that, one question still remained.
  131. 131. "Uh, KB?" "...and friends are KEY. Absolutely vital to your businesses..." "KB?" "...such suckers, too! They'll be your primary market..." "KB..." "...have pockets full of money, but they're better to work with, too—” "KB!"
  132. 132. "What? Geez, Veronica, you don't have to yell." "Well, I've been trying to get your attention for the past hour! Look, you still haven't solved the problem I called to complain about!" "What problem's that?" "Oh, I don't know... How 'bout the fact that I HAVE NO PLACE TO LIVE! I can't stay here, KB, everything's too different, plus Marylena's got her own life now, and I feel like I'm intruding—”
  133. 133. "Oh, that." "Oh, that? My life's falling apart and that's all you can say—'Oh, that?’ " "Look, V, that's the least of your problems, okay?" "Oh, really?" "Yes. Really. Just get an apartment.” "An apartment?" "Yeah, some complexes just went up in Bluewater, which is good, cuz then you'll be close to your businesses. I've even scouted out a few for you already."
  134. 134. "Yeah?" "Yeah. Go with Bluewater Condominiums, Tech Center Flats, or the Crossroad Apartments; the rest are crap. They haven't been renovated yet." "But if they're new, why do they need to be renovated?"
  135. 135. "Because the original architect designed them as small cramped spaces with weird layouts that make you want to go 'ARGGGGH, SHOO FLEE!,' so stick with those." "Got it. But—” "Look, don't worry, I've sorted everything out to make the smoothest possible transition for you, okay? I got to go; I really didn't mean to stay on the phone for so long—”
  136. 136. "And whose fault is that?! Listen—” "Can't. I really want to get this Gilbert mess wrapped up, so I'll stop by your new apartment later, and then we'll chat, 'K?" *Sigh* "Alright, bye." "Bye."
  137. 137. I wished we could have talked longer; I wasn't really all that convinced that I would make a good business woman—what if I failed? I heard that a lot of businesses went under because their owners ended up spending more money than making money—what if that happened to me? Oh, well, I guess I have to push those worries aside until this afternoon; at least I'll have my own place by the end of tonight. "Get everything sorted out?" Marylena asked me as she came into the living room.
  138. 138. "Yeah. I'm gonna get an apartment." "Really? I didn't even know Veronaville had any." "Me neither, but KB said some new ones just went up in Bluewater. I guess I'll go check them out now so I can move in by this afternoon." "That's great."
  139. 139. "But you know, Veronica, there's no need to rush; you're welcome to stay here as long as you like. The place used to be yours after all, and at least with you around I can get a decent meal—you know I can't cook." "Thanks," I smiled, "but I think I'm going to go." "But—”
  140. 140. "No, it's okay; it's not your fault or anything, it's just... Well, you need your privacy—” "I—” "And I need to learn to make it on my own." "Veronica, you already made it on your own. You were self-sufficient before you got engaged, remember?" "Yeah, but that was different. I always thought that I'd end up marrying into a wealthy family, so it didn't matter if I couldn't always make ends meet." "But, you did—”
  141. 141. "I know, but before money never mattered the way it does now. Look, no offense or anything, but I just need my own space. A space that doesn't involve Dagmar or Consort memories, get it?" "Ah. Yeah, okay, I get it."
  142. 142. "But don't be a stranger, okay, V? You may want to do things all on your own, but I'm still your friend and I'm here to look out for you. I'm always here if you need me, day or night, boyfriend or no boyfriend. So don't leave just because you think you're intruding. I know this past week has been very difficult for you and... Well, I'm here if you need a shoulder to lean on." "Thanks, Marylena, really. But I'll be okay." "You sure? I know how you worry." "I'm sure. But I will call if I need anything."
  143. 143. "Good. Well, if you're leaving, let me at least walk you out." And so Marylena walked me outside, and, after a quick hug goodbye, I hopped into my car and drove over to Bluewater. "Take care, V!" "You, too!"
  144. 144. I spent the rest of the morning checking out the apartments KB recommended. In truth, some of the other places were better 'renovated,' but I finally decided on this place, Bluewater Condominiums, since it had a driveway. I just couldn't sell my baby. The business woman in me said it would be prudent to sell my car; I could make a nice profit that could go towards decorating my apartment or starting my first business, and I usually walked everywhere anyway. But the fortune sim in me just couldn't part with any possession; besides, it had a lot of sentimental value—it was the only truly expensive thing I had bought and paid for all on my own that I still had.
  145. 145. Let's take a tour shall we? Here's the ground floor/garage.
  146. 146. The stairs take you upstairs (obviously) to this small hallway. The living room is around the corner, and the kitchen as you can see, is straight to the back. This door on the left is a small room that I'll probably use as an office—no psycho roommate for me, thanks.
  147. 147. See, tiny space.
  148. 148. And here's the living room, with a fire place I don't really want or need and suspect actually raises the rent of this place. Anyway the door that you can barely see just behind the fireplace is a large bedroom, the door straight back leads to a bathroom, and there's a tiny balcony behind the sliding doors.
  149. 149. Here's the bedroom. Wow, there's nothing I love more than windowless rooms. NOT. Anyway, you can't see it from this angle, but there's a closet in the lower right corner, which the landlord told me you can woohoo in, and which was more information than I needed to know, really. I mean, how would he know? Unless he's woohooed in a closet himself? Or what if he was hinting that he'd like to woohoo in the closet with me? *Shudders* Ew.
  150. 150. Anyway, here's the bathroom...
  151. 151. And here's the kitchen.
  152. 152. As you can see, the place wasn't all that big. It was tiny, miniscule even, when compared to the Capp Mansion. Even my old house had a better layout, and in actuality would have more space if I'd added a second floor. But I think it will look good with some work and it'll be a cozy place to stay—not that it matters since KB informed me that I'd be eating, sleeping, skilling, and basically living at my businesses. ‘Kinda makes you wonder what I needed the apartment for in the first place, but hey. Anyway, this place would be my home for the foreseeable future.
  153. 153. I hunted down the landlord in the lounge and signed the lease. "You know, you've been at most of the apartments I've visited. Scratch that—you've been at ALL the apartments I've visited. And they're not even close together. Why is that?" "Well, I didn't decide where to build the apartments, and we had to place them around the existing buildings anyway." "That isn't what I—oh, never mind."
  154. 154. So I signed the lease, and basically, besides the stuff you saw in the kitchen and the fireplace, the place was empty. It was time to 'move in' so to speak, and since KB would be busy until this afternoon, I got to be the interior decorator for once. How could I decorate with no money, you ask? Well, like I said before, I wasn't exactly broke. I had saved about 13,000 simoleons in the form of statues before I moved in with Consort, and I decided to sell all my old stuff that Hermia had given me. I wanted to make a clean start, and what better way to do that than with all new stuff? So I sold everything except my car.
  155. 155. And here are the results. Okay, people it's a garage. There's just not that much you can do with it, especially not with my car sitting in the middle of the room. There's some weird law that says you can't leave your car in the driveway, so here is where it'll have to stay.
  156. 156. But I did use the other side of the room for badge-building equipment.
  157. 157. And here's my new at-home office; awkward angle, I know, but I wanted to get everything in one shot.
  158. 158. And here's the living room from the other angle. The bathroom is to the left and the bedroom is behind me, towards YOU.
  159. 159. And this is what it looks like. The closet is in right lower corner, out of view in this shot. I didn't include it because... Well, when you've seen one closet, you've seen them all, right? And if you've never seen a closet... Well, poor you.
  160. 160. Here's the bathroom, although the tub doesn't look like that anymore because the picture was taken a while ago, before SOMEONE decided to delete all her CC and then couldn't find this recolor again. I said I was sorry, okay? Mmhmm, okay. Let's move on shall we?
  161. 161. And here's the kitchen, almost exactly like before, just with a new paint job and spiffier counters. Spiffier? Yes, spiffier, as in more spiffy! And according to Microsoft Word, it totally is a word, so there! Nyeh!
  162. 162. And finally, here's the balcony. Notice the small telescope—no abductions for me, thank you very much. So that's it. And, as I'm sure you've all guessed by now, after seeing the quality of some of the items in the apartment, I was now flat broke. In fact, I ran out of cash during the renovation. What's my secret?
  163. 163. Well, I had a genie lamp. You see, just before the wedding, a gyspy came by the Mansion and dropped it off for me. KB told me to hide it in my inventory ASAP, and I did. But with all the stuff happening this past week—you know, my wedding, my husband dying, finding out my ex best friend was a murderer, my going away to find myself, me coming back to find out I'd lost my home and that my marriage was annulled—well, with all that, the lamp somehow didn't seem worth mentioning 'til now.
  164. 164. "Hey, you look familiar..." *Sigh* "Yeah, I get that a lot. Curse of the face one." "What?" "Never mind. Whadda ya want?"
  165. 165. "Hmm, money, beauty, lifelong happiness, or the ability to cheat death? You know, I never understood why anyone would want to cheat death—all the people I know told me death's a pretty nice guy." "Today, please." "Oh, yeah. Well, duh, money. Fortune sim." "Right. You now have two wishes left, yadda, yadda, yadda, 'k, then goodbye."
  166. 166. And a sack of money fell from the sky. It LITERALLY fell from the sky! Well, um, the ceiling anyway, since I'm inside, but *Cough* Look, it's a sack of money, ok? It's just awesome. If only I could roll around in it... But, anyway, I'm not going to show you all the other ones (you get 4, one worth $10,000, then $7,000, then $4,000, then $1,000), because, honestly, you've seen one sack of money, you've seen them all. And if you haven't seen a sack of money, well then, my friend, you're missing out on the better things in life.
  167. 167. All in all, I'd say I did a pretty good job renovating. Now all I had to do was wait for KB to show up so we could talk about my new life goal: founding five top businesses.
  168. 168. “That was fast.” *Shrugs* “What can I say? You call, I come runnin’. So, what's up?" "Well, I'm not too sure about this whole business thing for starters. Fortune Sims Weekly says eight out of ten businesses fail." "That's because eight out of ten sims don't have me to help them out. Stop worrying, V." "I don't mean to worry..." "But it's your nature. Yeah, I know."
  169. 169. "That isn't what I was going to say! I was going to say that maybe it's best I keep a low profile; you know, just keep at my career, hope I get a good chance card for a bonus, maybe—” "No, no, no. That isn't what I've planned for you at all. I'm telling you, V, you'll be fine, the businesses will be great, and you just have to stop worrying. Life is all about risks, as they say." "Yeah, but why do I have to take the risks? Why don't you do it? And who is this 'they' that comes up with those stupid sayings anyway?"
  170. 170. "Look, don't worry about that; just think about all the money you'll be making." "Hmm, well, I do like money..." "Exactly. And you probably want to buy lots of stuff with that money, right?" "Well, yeah!" "And then you'd need a place to put all that stuff, right?" "Duh! Preferably a huge mansion."
  171. 171. "Of course. But think about it, V. While it's possible you'll earn a bonus at work, it'd take several bonuses to become wealthy enough to build a mansion like the Capp's. And that's if you even get a chance card. In fact, the only sure way to build up a fortune, and the fastest way, is to start a business. Don't you want to become wealthy beyond your wildest dreams, V?"
  172. 172. "Weeelll, I guess so." "Great! Then stop worrying; with your business savvy and my plans, there's no way you can fail!" "Hmm, yeah, about that. You seem to have made a lot of plans. How did you even know I'd need a backup plan? Kent just threw me out yesterday." "I like to be prepared." "Yeah, I'm not buying that one. It's almost like you knew what the Capps were planning."
  173. 173. "I told you, it was all over the papers." "Yeah, but then, if the annulment was so public, why didn't you do anything to stop it? It's not like you were doing anything." "What? Are you kidding me?! I was busy all week! Some of us didn't get a vacation, you know." "Oh?" "Yes. You're not the only one who makes demands on my time; I have other responsibilities."
  174. 174. "I spent most of the past week researching what was wrong with Gilbert and how to fix it. I scoured medical journals looking for a way to reverse a long-lasting love potion. But the journals said nothing about love potions, and so I had to start my research from scratch."
  175. 175. "I had to do my own examination of Gilbert and figure out what was it that kept the love potion in effect. But the scans kept showing normal activity."
  176. 176. "I even broke out the Augmenter, and believe me, you do not want to know what's going on in that sim's brain. Oh, the filth!" *Shudder* "But it only confirmed my suspicions that he was still hopelessly hooked on Dagmar."
  177. 177. "And after reviewing my notes for what seemed like the millionth time, I finally found the agent that skewed the love potion and kept Gilbert besotted long after Dagmar was gone: chili."
  178. 178. "Chili? You got to be kidding me." "Nope. I couldn't believe it myself. Dagmar must have mixed the potion with chili before she gave it to Gilbert. I don't know if it was on purpose or sheer coincidence, but the chemicals in Dagmar's new potion mixed with the chili is what enabled the potion to retain it's effects long after it should have worn off." "So if you figured out what mutated the potion, what took you so long to cure him?" "Just because I knew what caused the abnormality, doesn't mean I knew how to reverse it. It took the rest of the week to find a counter agent."
  179. 179. "So what was it?" "Why, macaroni, of course. It was pure accident. My Biotech Station is next to my kitchen you see, and I was eating lunch while going over my notes. Some macaroni spilled in the test tube, and the next thing I knew, the readings flashed, showing that I had an effective cure."
  180. 180. "After a few more tests, I gave the potion to Gilbert."
  181. 181. "The effects were immediate. The reversal had a few side effects though; it was a bit painful. Kinda like a cold, cruel slap of reality."
  182. 182. "And once the potion wore off, and Gilbert realized his mother was murdered, he was distraught. It was like losing her all over again. I had to help comfort him and get him back on track, sort of like you got back on track during your vacation." "But you didn't give him the cure until this morning." "So?" "So, it's not like you spent the whole week comforting him. You still had ample time to stop the Capps."
  183. 183. "No I didn't; I was researching a cure!" "Riiight. That took you all week?" "Yes. Yes it did."
  184. 184. "And the cure wasn't the only thing I was researching. I was researching plans and business stuff for you, as well as plans for all the other families I look after. You aren't my only concern, you know. Not to mention that I'm in college; I still had class. Luckily, I got to use my work on Gilbert as my research paper." "So you had a research paper. That takes hours, not a whole week!" "I told you, Veronica, I was busy. In between research I had to put together all my other plans, help out my other sim families, you know?"
  185. 185. "And then I got arrested…"
  186. 186. "Plus, there was my regular course work to do..."
  187. 187. "And all the while I still had plans to work out: getting rid of glitches at some of the campus houses, supervising the construction and renovations of new buildings— including everything from dorms and Greek Houses to apartments and suburban homes—and then I was planning for some of the sims I look after." "You keep saying that! Who are these sims?" "Well, the Capps for one." "WHAT? You're helping my enemy?!"
  188. 188. "Who else do you think is going to look out for Tybalt, Juliette, and Hermia? And what about the other younger Capps? What, do you begrudge them a college education and homes, too?" "Well, no, that isn't really what I—” "And I do have other sims I look out for, like my legacy family in this hood, plus some sims in other neighborhoods that I don't always mention because it's really not relevant to this story! And I plan for you, too, Veronica! I'm always looking out you!"
  189. 189. "Who do you thinking was planning out businesses for you to run, researching the best products to sell, the best places to put your stores, finding apartments for you to live in—” "BUT THAT'S JUST IT! How did you know? You talk about making all these plans for me and making sure I could have 'the best transition possible,' but how could you possibly know I would NEED to transition? Instead of making plans, why didn't you stop the Capps in the first place? You seemed to know that I would need an apartment, so you must have known that Kent would kick me out. But if you knew, why didn't you stop him and the other Capps?"
  190. 190. "I can't be everywhere at once, Veronica!" "Oh, a likely excuse! You could have stopped them and you know it!" "Maybe I could have—” "AH, HA! I knew it! You did know! But, why?! Why didn't you stop them?" "Look, I can't always interfere in the story, Veronica—” "ARGH! STOP SAYING THAT! This isn't a story, KB, this is MY LIFE! If you really cared about me, you wouldn't be so concerned about maintaining an interesting storyline; you'd put ME first! That means putting my BEST interest first!"
  191. 191. "Veronica—” "And do you know what my best interests are, KB? Huh, do you?" "I—” "How about a roof over my head? How about my house and fortune not being stolen behind my back? You're always going on about how you know everything! Well, if you know so much, why didn't you know enough to stop them from taking my house? Why didn't you know enough to stop Dagmar from—OH. MY. PLUMBBOB. You knew."
  192. 192. "Veronica, it isn't what you think—” "IT IS EXACTLY WHAT I THINK! You knew! Little Miss 'Omnipotent and Omniscient,' you knew Dagmar was recovering; you knew she was going to kill my husband!" "Technically—” "AND YOU DID NOTHING TO STOP IT?! WHAT KIND OF FRIEND ARE YOU? YOU'RE JUST AS BAD AS SHE IS!" "HEY! Do not compare me with Dagmar! I am a way better friend than she ever was!"
  193. 193. "Oh, really? Seems to me like you're just as bad—you both betrayed me and you're every bit as much of a liar as she was!" "Look, V, if you will just calm down, I can explain and you can see that I didn't betray you. I always look out for you.“ "Then why didn't you stop her?! Why did you let my husband die?!" "Look, I didn't know—”
  194. 194. "Oh, come, on! I thought you knew everything." "Me, the one who writes the story, yes, she knows everything. But me, the one standing in front of you, I'm a sim just like you, and I don't know everything." *Scoffs* "Yeah, okay, so how did you know the Capps would kick me out? That I'd need a new apartment? Didn't you tell me before I moved in with Consort to put some money aside just in case?" "Um, I gave myself a hint. But I didn't know anything else."
  195. 195. "Oh, come on, KB! That is a bunch of llama doody and you know it! You deliberately betrayed me—” "Veronica!" "You did. You may not have put the knife in her hands, but you certainly turned a blind eye while Dagmar stabbed me in the back and burned my husband to death!" "V—”
  196. 196. "Do you know what's that's like? That's like watching the sim next to you catch on fire, but instead of calling the fire department, you head to the kitchen and decide to make a sandwich!" "Veronica!" "Admit it, KB, you're just as guilty as Dagmar; you're an accessory to the crime!" "You're exaggerating—I didn't help kill Consort!” "No. You didn't do anything! You stood back and let my husband die! What kind of friend does that? A backstabber, that's who!"
  197. 197. "Look, Veronica, I understand you're upset right now and there's no reasoning with you. So I'm going to be the bigger person and just go until you calm down; you can take that comment back later." "I'm not gonna take it back! Why would I want to apologize to a backstabber?" *Sigh* "Because we're friends. And because we're friends, I'm going to go before I insult you or before you say something you'll regret."
  198. 198. "Oh, don't bother! I don't regret anything except the fact that I ever once called you a friend; it's obvious you're not my friend and you never were. Real friends don't lie. Real friends don't let their friend's house get stolen or let their friend’s marriage get annulled. Real friends tell their friend AND her husband MOVE when a psycho murderer sneaks up behind their backs! OBVIOUSLY, you are not a real friend!"
  199. 199. "And you know what? REAL friends wouldn't let a psycho townie fall in love with them in the first place!" *Snaps* "That was an accident, and you know it!" "Really? How do I know that it wasn't all part of your stupid little plans from the beginning? For all I know, you planned Dagmar's crush from the start!" "Alright, that's enough! I let you say a lot of things about me, but that’s the last straw! I never planned for that psycho to fall in love with you and kiss you! How dare you even suggest such a thing! I've spent the past year looking after your whiny butt—”
  200. 200. "Looking after me? Some job you did!" "Oh, how dare—who do you think listened to you complain all the time, huh? 'KB, I'm hungry,' 'KB, I'm bored,' 'KB, I want a promotion,' 'KB, I want new clothes,' 'KB, I want a TV,' 'KB, I want a statue,' 'KB, the Keep Veronica Away From Consort Foundation is out to get me—’ all you do is whine, whine, whine, ALL THE TIME!"
  201. 201. "Who made sure your butt didn't go broke when Kent kicked you out? Me. Who found you this nice apartment? Me. Who made sure you got to buy nice shiny new things? Me, again. Because who made sure you earned enough skills for your promotions? And who made sure you always had enough money whenever you couldn't make ends meet? Oh, yeah, me." "You—” "And who made sure that YOU didn't die way back in chapter three? That's right, me. And who made sure you fulfilled your wants? Me.”
  202. 202. “Heck, who even made sure that you actually met Consort?" "Actually—” "It was me. AND who made sure you two fell in love, huh?" "I—” "It was probably the same person who personally changed Consort to a Scorpio and changed his turn-ons so that you, Miss Pisces, and Consort could have three- bolt chemistry! Now who was that again? Hmm... Oh, yeah, that's right, ME!"
  203. 203. "I have saved your butt time and time again, and you have the audacity to tell me that I'm not a real friend? How dare you?!" "How dare I? You've done nothing but make my life miserable!" "I—” "YOU LET MY HUSBAND DIE! End of story, bottom line! And that is something I can never forgive, no matter what you did for me. I can't talk to someone who would betray me like that. I can't be friends with someone who betrayed me like that." "Veronica—”
  204. 204. "No, KB. I think you should leave. I don't want to see you anymore." "I don't think you mean that." "Well, I do." "Think about it, V. Who are you going to talk to? Complain to? Who's going to give you prep talks and give you reassurance? Who's going to help you run your businesses?" "I'll run them myself; I can take care of myself." "You? Take care of yourself?" *Laughs*
  205. 205. "I can take care of myself." "Oh, please, V. You don't know the first thing about running a business or taking care of yourself." "That's not true!" "Please; you can't even use a crafting bench without setting yourself on fire!" "There was a storm! And I'll learn how to run a business!" "From who?" "I don't know, someone. Anyone, but you."
  206. 206. "I'll figure out a way. I just know that I can't stay friends with you; I want you out of my life! I won't be your puppet anymore!" "Veronica, you do not mean that." "Yes, I do. Goodbye, KB."
  207. 207. "Veronica—” "So long, see ya sucker, bon voyage, arrivederci, later loser, goodbye, good riddance, peace out, let the doorknob hit ya where the good Plumbbob split ya, don't come back around here no more, hasta la vista baby, go kick rocks, and get the H-E Double Hockey sticks out*!" *(Totally stolen from My Wife and Kids.)
  208. 208. "Well... if that's how you really feel... then I'll go..." "Bye." *Sigh* "Bye, Veronica. But know this: once I go, I'm not coming back; you need me, you call me and apologize." "That's ok, KB. I won't be apologizing." "Fine. Bye, then." "Bye."
  209. 209. And just like that, KB walked out the door and out of my life. ...Well, good riddance, I say.
  210. 210. I was furious; I actually had to take a jog to calm down some. I just couldn't believe she would betray me like that. I don't care what she said; she knew what Dagmar was planning. She let Consort die. You know, I shouldn't be so surprised. She never liked Consort anyway; she always cringed when we kissed. But enough of that. KB thought I couldn't make it on my own; she was so sure I would fail without her expertise and guidance. Well, I'd show her. I would devote all my time and energy to becoming a successful business woman.
  211. 211. And to do that, I quit my day job. Yes, I know it's not really all that smart of an idea and it would be better to have a steady source of income to fall back on, but I wanted to rise or fall on my own. It would be risky, but worth it in the end to say that I did it all by myself. Next, I went online. I purchased some properties and researched everything I could about running a business; I even hired a few employees. I didn't even have to leave the house, I did it all on the computer! Of course, someone could try to cheat me by posting fake pictures of lots, but all I bought were empty plots. KB said it was cheaper that way, and I could design and build the buildings as I needed them.
  212. 212. I guess I was lucky; KB had told me quite a lot about businesses before we fought, and even gave me some key pointers. Where she got those pointers, I have no idea. It's not like she's ever run a business before. But she's knowledge, so maybe she read about it or something. Whatever. I don't care how she knows what she knows. I don't care about anything concerning her anymore. We're ex-friends. She's dead to me.
  213. 213. Then I decided to head to the store. I was on a mission. I wasn't the same person I was a week ago. Heck, I wasn't the same person I was three hours ago. My husband is dead and one of my best friends betrayed me again. Well, that's one more friend I don't have. But that's okay. I made a vow—wow, was it really only yesterday? Huh, so much has happened in the past twenty-four hours... Well, anyway, I made a vow to be strong and I meant it.
  214. 214. Obviously, I couldn't count on my friends anymore, and I could only count on myself. Every time I let anyone get close to me, they always let me down. Well, who needs friends? ...Crap, I do, for my businesses. Well, whatever, I wouldn't let anyone get close to me again. I wouldn't count on anyone but myself, and I'd keep everyone else a safe, respectable distance from myself, because clearly, I couldn't trust anyone but me. But back to my point: I was different, changed.
  215. 215. And with a new job, a new apartment, and a new outlook on life, why not continue the changes and get some new clothes, too? I almost headed downtown to the Corner Shoppes when I remembered that I was the new Veronica. And the new Veronica doesn't shop in the same old stores, buy the same old things, and see the same old people. So I went to Bluewater's shopping district instead. There I found this big department store called Bins 'N Things.
  216. 216. Apparently, it was a new chain that had bought out H&M. It boasted that it was a sim's one stop shopping center, with a clothing store, pet store, and grocery store all in one. But I didn't care about the rest of that stuff, I was here to buy clothes.
  217. 217. Although, I must confess, I did spend some time in the pet department. Those cats were so cute! *Cough* But back to my mission. The store was huge, offering the latest trends in fashion. I hardly knew where to start.
  218. 218. After a couple hours though, I put together a new wardrobe I could live with. After I paid for my purchases, I decided to go change in the dressing room. I was determined to leave the store a completely new person.
  219. 219. A person who was cool, calm, collected, sassy, intelligent, confident, and savvy.
  220. 220. No longer would I be the naive little sim with stars in her eyes. I learned the hard way that the world was a cruel, cold place full of liars, murderers, and backstabbers. And the only way to survive is to rely on yourself.
  221. 221. The next morning was the start of my new life. Bright and early, I set out for one of the lots I bought, ready to get to work.
  222. 222. Like, I said, it was completely empty, but I knew it'd be a great store. Why? Because I was determined. All my money was riding on this business venture, and I was sure I could see it though. I'd show KB, I'd show the Capps, I'd show everybody that I was not a golddigger, that I was not someone who could be pushed around and stepped on. I'd show them I was a great fortune sim, a force to be reckoned with. They'd realize the truth after I had built the greatest business empire the Sim World had ever seen, and I'd start it all with this lot.
  223. 223. Ok, so it wasn't very creative. It was bland, it was boxy, it was boring, but that didn't matter. It was my first business; I had to start small. No, the only thing that mattered was that it was going to make me lots of money.
  224. 224. And I'd make that money selling beds, hence the store's name: Rest Your Head Beds. Anyway, it wasn't much now, but one day, it'd be great. KB had told me to start with a regular business selling items. Once I learned the basic skills, particularly Dazzle, I could start any other business I wanted. It was important to pick an item that would make a good profit, so I choose beds, hoping I could sell enough to keep myself afloat.
  225. 225. Once the building was up, I brought in some employees. This guy here is Jihoon.
  226. 226. I got lucky; he had a gold cashier badge, so he became my new cashier. Doesn't he look spiffy in his uniform? I decided all my employees would wear pajamas.
  227. 227. Then there's Gretchen. Don't worry, that eye twitch was only temporary.
  228. 228. She looked good in her uniform, too, but then came that dreaded employee face change I heard so much about.
  229. 229. And finally, I hired Marylena. It was nice to have a familiar face around for reassurance, and she needed a job, so she became my head salesperson. KB had said friends were key in business.
  230. 230. Finally, it was time to open the store. I was nervous, but excited. I hoped I'd do well.
  231. 231. Soon, customers wandered in. Yeah, Marylena got hit by the glitch, too. I stood around watching for a while...
  232. 232. But eventually, business picked up and I started to help out on the floor.
  233. 233. It wasn't long before I earned my sales badges, and before I knew it, I was dazzling customers like the best of them.
  234. 234. And one day Carla walked in to support my business! Talk about true friends...
  235. 235. I dazzled her, too. KB was right; friends did make better suckers—I mean customers.
  236. 236. When she finished buying up the store, I hired her, too. I needed more employees to work shifts so I could keep open 'round the clock.
  237. 237. Business was good so far, I managed to dazzle Malcolm here a couple of times.
  238. 238. I convinced him that every room in his house needed a new bed, and he bought it: hook, line, and sinker.
  239. 239. But eventually after a week, it became clear I wasn't doing too well. I was falling into the same trap as everyone else: I was spending way more money than I was making. Though my ranking was good—level six, by the way—I was just barely making money and my genie money was dwindling, fast. A customer would walk in and make a new purchase, putting me into the green, then I'd restock and bam— back into the red. And lately, it was getting harder and harder to sell those items. Everyone just seemed so irritable; I had a hard time moving enough items off the floor.
  240. 240. So I decided to take a break and close shop one night. I sent all my employees home to get some rest while I thought of a new approach.
  241. 241. KB had said snapdragons were vital in a business; the mood boosters could get customers in such a good mood that they'd buy anything.
  242. 242. So, I settled in for a night of flower-making. Luckily, I had earned my gold flower badge ages ago. I just needed some time to make enough to cover the entire store. It was slow work, but I was getting there.
  243. 243. See, I can do this, no problem. I'll show KB; I can do this! Yeah, that's what I thought. But that before it started to rain. Yeah. And you all remember what happened last time it started to rain. When I was outside. Working at a bench.
  244. 244. Yup. I caught on fire. Again. For the THIRD TIME.
  246. 246. *Sigh* I guess KB was right. Without her, I really couldn't use a crafting-bench without setting myself on fire.
  247. 247. All on my own, I was a failure. I was broke AND on fire. I guess I really can't take care of myself.
  248. 248. And now there's no more KB looking out for me anymore. Nope, I was all alone. No more cheats. No more motherlode. No more exiting without saving. Without KB I could die.
  250. 250. Oh, right, raining. *Ahem* Geez, what a great fortune sim I am.
  251. 251. I couldn't even survive a week by myself before I lost all my money and set myself on fire. And I don't even have a day job! Nooo. I had to quit. Make it or break it on my own. Well, now I'm broke. How am I supposed to pay my employees? How am I supposed to take care of myself? How am I going to pay the bills? ...How am I going to pay my rent? What does happen if you don't pay your rent? Would they kick me out? Would I become homeless again? Or maybe... *GASP* Would I get a visit from the repoman? And that's when I lost it.
  252. 252. Waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
  253. 253. "I can't do this, I can't do this, I can't DO this," I sobbed into my hands. “I'm broke, wet, tired, and I was recently ON FIRE, and all I want to do is go home and hide under my covers.”
  254. 254. But I can't, because I don't have a home anymore, not a real one anyway, because I was thrown out of my new house and I gave my old house away so now I'm stuck in this dinky crappy apartment that I've only spent a few hours in and doesn't really feel like home, but now I won't even have that because either I'm going to kicked out or the repoman is going to come and take all my stuff away, which will send me into aspiration failure, so I definitely won't be able to work or do anything so I'll have to just sit there until they haul all my stuff away but I'll keep going into aspiration failure and eventually I'll just be this big blubbering mass of failure that they'll have to drag to the loony bin and—OH MY PLUMBBOB, MY LIFE SUCKS!
  255. 255. AND NO ONE EVEN CARES BECAUSE I'M ALL ALONE! ...I'm all alone. There's no one looking out for me. No one cares if I fail. If I starve. If I breakdown. No one's going to do this for me. No one cares what happens to me. I'm really all alone.
  256. 256. "I'm never going to pull this off, am I?" I slowly whispered to myself, sinking to the floor. ***** That's all folks. So will Veronica make it or break it? Has she really turned her back on all her friends? Will she and KB ever make up? And what other obstacles stand in her way that she doesn't even know about? You know what I'm talking about: Dagmar. Where is she and what's she up to? Well, to find out, you're just going to have to wait. Later simmers, and happy reading!