Angs To Do List:*Make a "To Do" list and try not to forget anything. (Check)*Welcome readers back to the Devereaux Legacy. "Welcome back to the Devereaux Legacy!" (Check)*Have Generation Six be born. (Check)*Cheer that most of the kids are adorable, and that a ton of them have red hair and The Nose. Make sure Keith isnt home to witness this. Cats are okay; Dog too busy chewing on linoleum and drywall to care. (Check)*"Aww" a lot and heart hands over how cute the Generation Five heiress and her husband are. (Check, check, a million times check)*Do some actual work on the story; important things like filming pictures, writing text and responsible stuff like that. (Check)*Realize that something was forgotten. Realize it was mentioning that Lillian was back in the recap. Also realize that publishing the "To Do" list is essentially a recap, so its all good. (Check)I hope everyone enjoys the ride!***
"Oh, Eduardo! Are you sure that the evil Horatio Devereaux is dead?"
"Of course I am sure, Mary Sue! He was shot three times, stabbed five, and his body was dropped from the highest cliff--"
"Do you mean Jumpers Hill?""Yes, we just needed to be sure! We watched his body hit every rock of the way down."" Oh, Eduardo! Did you also set fire to his body?"
"We were going to, Mary Sue. But when we got there, his body was nowhere to be found. We are assuming that a pack of wolves mauled hiscorpse and left no remains! Do not worry anymore, my darling. No one could have survived. Not even that blasted Horatio Devereaux!""Oh, Eduardo! Im so glad! Now we can finally be together in peace!"
"But wait, Eduardo! Did you hear that noise?""Tis but the wind, my darling Mary-Sue!""Oh, Eduardo! Kiss me my prince!"
"This just in: breaking news coming directly from Mayor Alexander Goths office."
"Combat Correspondent Gannett Hearst is standing by live as we wait for Mayor Goths public address. Good evening Gannett, are you able tohear us? Gannett? There seems to be problems with his—ah, there we go."
"Hello Matt and Jess and good evening Pleasantview We are just moments away from Mayor Goths formal address in regards to the results ofyesterdays vote where the citizens made their voices clear on Mayor Goths political agenda. Oh, and here he comes now."
"My fellow citizens of Pleasantview: I come to you not only as your mayor, but also as a resident of this fine city. I have never been one to hidebehind political mumbo jumbo when it came to what I have envisioned. Time and again I have raised my concerns about population control andall matters concerning that. Time and again I have left it up to you, my fellow citizens, to decide on how you ultimately wanted that to pan out.And time and again you have rallied behind me."
"My opponents took quite a shellacking last night, didnt they?"
"My fellow citizens of Pleasantview, I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in my vision. I want to thank you for voting forthe reform of population control and the new laws that need to be attached to it."
"Thank you for voting Yes on shutting down the Elixir of Life factory. I understand that there is nothing that we can do at this time about Elixir thatmay already be out there, but at least we all know that it is a finite amount. How can you have population control when people are unnaturallyextending their lives?Of course I realize that some of the more supernatural beings such as zombies, vampires, werewolves, and the breed of people that refer tothemselves as Simselves arent affected by this. But, thankfully, any children they might produce have to adhere to the laws of nature. And thoselaws of nature say they must obey the circle of life!"
"People of Pleasantview, I have also heard your concerns about the foreigners who have migrated to this dimension. And last night you votedagainst our Open Door policy. Our doors are officially closed once again! This alone is cause for celebration, and I have a message to all theunwanted foreigners:Your days are numbered. The real citizens of Pleasantview dont want you here! You have proven to be more hassle than you are worth! Ourresources are not endless, and the real citizens of Pleasantview will no longer let you take what is rightfully theirs!"
"However, if you want to be considered a true citizen, there are ways for you to go about doing that, so long as you begin to realize that you willnot receive special treatment. You will work. You will pay taxes. You will age and die. You will not be any different from the other citizens.If it is your intent to not be a burden on our society, then we, the people of Pleasantview, will welcome you with open arms."
"This is the beginning of a grand new era, and I want to thank everyone once again for believing in my dreams and for allowing me to be yourleader. It truly is an honor.Thank you, kind citizens of Pleasantview, and goodnight."***
Time passed, as it tends to do. Life, for the most part, was rather uneventful as it thankfully can be sometimes. Soon, the rather sleep deprivedparents of babies were helping their tiny bundles of joy transition to toddlers.
Those toddlers were trained with a great deal of patience on the parents, as well as the childrens, end.
A couple of those toddlers even made a few public appearances to satisfy their mothers curious fans.
And then, it what seemed like no time at all, those toddlers grew up into children.
Those children felt that because they were so big, they were wise to the ways of the world, as children tend to do. All the adults were very amused.
Things were going well for the families. And though some certain members of those families wouldnt say it out loud, it was plain to see thateveryone was happy.
"How was your day, darling?""Well, it was a tough day at the office, but I still managed to get my article published. How was yours? How is our wonderful and beautifuldaughter that we love very, very much?""Oh, she is just keen! And I agree, we both love her very much!""Yes, we do."
"But do you know who I also love? I love you.""Oh darling, I love you, too! Let us kiss for hours and hours and hours just to show how much we love each other!""For sure!""Mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah. Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss."
"And thats how mommies and daddies are supposed to act!" Emily whispered vehemently as she glared at her dolls.
Karen and Johnny began drifting apart once Emily was old enough to attend school full time. Karen had been the one who had stayed home withtheir daughter and she was the one who trained Emily in all of her toddler skills. It had worked out, somewhat, for the two of them, but moreimportantly it had given them something interesting to talk about. Once Emily was in school and Karen had gotten a full time job, the two of themhad even less in common than before.
They tried to maintain a certain amount of civility towards each other, but with each passing day it grew more and more strained.
Malcolm and Frances, unfortunately, were very familiar with the situation. Both of their parents had acted the same way; that strained, cordialpoliteness. On the days when it was really bad between Johnny and Karen, Malcolm and Frances found themselves acting much like they didwhen they were younger, usually by try to divert attention away from a sensitive topic or, in Malcolms case, making jokes to ease the tension.It was very uncomfortable for everyone.
By the end of the night, Johnny usually ended up retreating to the office to work on some article for the Pleasantview Bugle and Karen went to bedalone.
In fact, Johnny made it a point to wait until she was asleep before going to bed himself.It never occurred to him that she might have been faking her slumber.***
Johnny only walked into the bedroom because he thought Karen wasnt in there. When he saw that he was mistaken, he stopped short and wasabout to quietly exit the room without saying anything. However, the fact that she was staring out the window struck him as peculiar, so he asked,"What are you doing?" He realized that it was most he had said to her in almost a day. It was never like this with Ophelia, he thought to himself.He had taken to comparing his current wife to his ex-wife a lot. He tried not to, but often times he couldnt help it.
"Nothing, Im just thinking.""Oh," he said. "Then I guess Ill leave you alone so you can do that." He turned to leave the room, but her next question made him stop."Johnny, I know this is going to sound dumb, but you dont love me, do you? Hell, Id be willing to bet that you really dont even like me all thatmuch."
The fact that she outright asked the question made him feel very defensive. "Well, thats not necessarily true. I mean, youre the mother of my childand I love Em very much."
"You love Emily, yes. I dont doubt that. But thats not my question. My question is how do you feel about me? You have to give me somethinghere to work with. If theres something, anything, there then Ill hold onto some hope. But youve gotta give me something becausethis..this..whatever this is isnt cutting it."
"Oh my God, Karen. What do you want me to do? Do you want me to grope all over you and constantly harass you with PDA like Rhys and Eden?Because I really dont feel like playing emotional keeping up with the Jonses when it comes to stuff like that."
"It would be nice, actually, if we did things like that every once in a while. At least people know they like each other and arent just tolerating eachothers presence. My God, Johnny! We havent touched each other in months! We barely even talk! You would think that after being together forthe greater part of a decade that there would be some sort of fondness between the two of us. What happened? We did like each other at onepoint. And truth be told..." she trailed off with a sigh."Truth be told what?" he prompted."Truth be told, I actually love you very much. There, I said it. But I dont think this is going to work out, not unless you can meet me part way. I haveno idea where the disconnect happened, but we cant live like this anymore. I need to know if theres anything there so we can try to work this allout. I need to know how you feel about me."
"I dont know, okay? I never really thought about it."
"You..you dont know. I outright tell you that I love you, and your response to when I ask how you feel about me is you dont know."
He took a deep breath. "Gah! I didnt mean it that way. Its just..I dont know, Karen. Okay? God, it shouldnt be this hard! It wasnt this hard withOphelia." His mouth snapped shut with an audible click, but the words were already out. "Im sorry," he said, "that also came out wrong.""There is another big difference between me and Ophelia," Karen said tonelessly "I never cheated on you with your best friend. I never cheated onyou period.""Yeah, I know that. Like I said, Im sorry. I didnt mean it that way."
To his surprise, Karen didnt yell or scream at him. Instead she sat down quietly and said, "You know, I always had a feeling you did that. I thinkthats part of the problem. You arent over Ophelia and what she did to you, and Im very sorry. But until you can stop doing that, there is nochance for the two of us. And I also think it would be best if we separate for a while. We might be able to think about things much clearer if weare apart and not having to maintain a nice image for the sake of my dads and Emily.""I dont want to go through another divorce.""And I dont want to stay together just because you dont want another divorce. I want you to love me and I want you to not think of your ex-wifewhen you look at me. I dont want you to resent me, even though I really think you do. Im not asking for the world. Im just asking for some spaceand time."He stood silently for a moment. "Maybe youre right," he eventually said with a sigh. Karen nodded slightly.
"How are we going to tell Em?" Johnny asked before he walked out the door."I dont know, but we need to be gentle about it, okay? I dont her suffer or be hurt any more than shes already going to be.""Yeah, I agree."***
Two weeks later, Johnny was shopping for some basic essentials. He had found an apartment to rent, but he had to wait another two weeks beforethe other tenants moved out. So he was stuck in a motel room in downtown Pleasantview. I should never have moved here, he thought angrily tohimself. What was the fucking point? Here I am, nearly forty years old, with a divorce under my belt and another wife Im separated from. All ofthis, my entire life, has been so completely pointless! He punctuated that last though by slamming the cooler door.
As he began poking through the frozen food section, he heard a very familiar voice, which made him pause.
It was Ophelia and her daughter, Sadie."Why cant I get some perfume?" the little girl asked her mother."Because, I told you, we cant afford it."Johnny tried to walk away unnoticed, but his movement caught Ophelias eye and she turned towards him.
The awkward silence was broken by Sadie who said, "Hey, youre Emilys dad, right? She kind of looks like you because you both have the same--"Embarrassed, Ophelia cut her off. "Sweetie, just because your friend has the same skin color as Johnny doesnt mean that theyre related." Shegave him an apologetic look."I was going to say the same nose. But yeah, you both have green skin, too.""Sadie!"
His lips twitched slightly in amusement. "No, its okay, Phee. Shes right, Emily is my daughter and she does look an awful lot like me, green skinand all." How much he missed his daughter suddenly hit him.
"I had heard that you got remarried. Im..Im really happy for you. Im glad. I know that..." she trailed off with a sigh. "I know that sounds socondescending, especially after what I did and there was no excuse for it. I was dumb. What Ripp and I did was dumb and it destroyed everything.The last thing I ever wanted to do was to hurt you. But I did, and Im so very sorry. I didnt know what I had until it was too late."
There it was: the closure, and even apology, he had always wanted. But instead of feeling good about it, he felt rather sad. For too long he had letthe entire situation with Ripp and Ophelia eat away at him, and in so doing he realized that he had allowed it to possibly destroy what he had withhis wife and child. And for that he had no one to blame but himself. Ophelias words echoed in his mind: I didnt know what I had until it was toolate.Then in dawned on him: he knew how to answer Karens question about how he felt about her. He realized that he actually did love her and itwasnt fair that he had been comparing her to Ophelia for all the years they had been together.
"What are you doing in this part of town anyway? I thought you were living on Legacy Lane with the other rich people. Why are you shopping atthe only store in town that accepts food stamps?" Ophelia asked, interrupting his thoughts.He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "Im being a complete ass, thats what Im doing."***
"Okay, Im a little lost here," Zane said. "What exactly would you like me to do about this? Scare her into taking you back? Thats not really mything and I regret scaring her the one time I had to."
Johnny shifted uncomfortably. "Well, no, not exactly. But, I dont know, maybe you could talk to her or something? I want her back. And..and yousaid that you would owe me one that one night at the bar where I met Karen," he finished feebly.
"What in the job description of Death says Matchmaker?" Zane muttered to himself."What?""Nothing. Im assuming youve tried calling her and telling her this yourself?"
"I tried, but she wont take my phone calls. I, uh, really pissed her off.""And you hurt her." Johnny could hear, as well as feel, a vague sense of anger as Zane made that statement and it made him wince slightly."Yeah, I did. And I know shes important to you, though I still dont know how--""Shes my step-daughter," Zane clarified succinctly."Wait, what? How--?"
Zane stood up and gave him a level look. Johnny cringed. "Yeah, okay, thats not the important issue at hand.""No, its not. How do you intend to make this better? Because if youre just going to repeat your past actions, Im not going to bother."
"I dont know. Treat her better than I have been? Stop being bitter about whats happened in the past? Appreciate what I have?""And?" Zane prompted.Johnny felt like he was back in elementary school with the teacher asking a question he didnt know. "I..I dont know," he said nervously."Apologize? Tell her Ill never do it again?"
"You say, I love you. How hard is it to say that? Its three simple words. Three words that I tell my wife the first thing when she wakes up. I say itto her, and she to me, multiple times throughout the day. Most important of all, I make sure that its the last thing I say to her before I leave. Its notthat hard! If you feel it, you say it. I dont get that about you people!" Zane ranted."You people?" Johnny quoted, offended."Mortals. You mortals. God, it sucks having to separate myself like that. But really?! You have absolutely no idea how short your lives are and howprecious each moment is. Instead you all fritter your lives away on this type of..of..bullshit! These little games you all play, not caring about theother persons feelings. Its such a waste! I hate seeing lives wasted because it makes everything seem so pointless!"
"Look, I didnt know what I had until I lost it, okay? Im sorry. Im sorry to her, Im sorry to Emily, Im sorry to Mal and Fran, and Im especially sorryto you considering now I know who she is to you. I will try to be better, I promise. Just..please talk to her, okay?"
Zane rubbed his forehead with a sigh. "I will talk to her and find out what she wants. Im not making any promises and Im certainly not going toforce her into taking you back. I hate seeing marriages fall apart almost as much as I hate to see lives wasted, but my concern is what she wantsand how she feels because I hate to say this, but you arent exactly one of my favorite people at the moment. Thats the best I can do; Im not theCreator so I cant force anything, nor would I if I could.""Okay, I guess can live with that," Johnny said.***
Karen found herself with some idle time a few days after her last phone call with Johnny. Emily was at school and she herself had the day off ofwork. Seeing as it was a nice day, weather wise at least, she decided to go to the Pleasantview park.But, despite the weather and the relative niceness of her surroundings, she found herself feeling rather sad. She wasnt sure what she should doabout her situation with her husband. The fact that he kept constantly calling her also wasnt helping the situation. She needed time to think.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a male voice asking her, "Do you mind if I join you?"She sighed impatiently. "Oh, sure, go right ahead. I mean, its not like there are a million other benches not occupied by a person who wants to bealone to think. So please, make yourself at home. Did you want to sit on my lap as well?"
When Zane sat down next to her, she rolled her eyes. "Oh, its you," she said. "That really wasnt an invitation to sit next to me. I was beingsarcastic.""Yeah, I know you were," he replied. "Im getting real good at picking up on things like that." Karen thought she heard an inexplicable sense ofpride in his voice.
"Look," she said, "Im not really in the mood. I dont know how youve heard that my husband and I are separated, but I really dont feel like beinghit on by anyone, okay? I mean, youre cute and all and I dont know how you’ve managed to stay so young all of these years, but no. Im not evenremotely interested at this moment in time."
"You know, this isnt the first time that youve made reference to us getting together and I will have to say that its just as uncomfortable now as itwas back then. Probably more so, truth be told," he said with a slight shudder.
"Okay, fine, fair enough. You just happened to come to the park and you just happened to want to sit on the bench with me. Whatever. I have alot on my mind right now and I really would like some peace and quiet so I can think. So if you dont mind just leaving me alone?"Zane shrugged slightly. "Okay."
Karen went back to her thoughts but was soon distracted by Zanes complete stillness. He didnt move; he didnt even seem to breathe. Not onlywas it distracting, but it was unnerving as well.
"Stop it!" she snapped at him."Stop what? You said you wanted some peace and quiet so you can think." His lips twitched as he tried not to smile."Youre not funny. However youre doing that, knock it off.""Youre right. Im sorry. Ive been informed that I still need to work on my sense of humor.""Well, yeah, you do."
"Look," he said, "Im trying to make you feel better--""Well youre not helping!""And I apologize. But maybe talking to someone will help? Youre right, I do know whats going on between you and your husband. Well, at least Ionly know his side of the story. I would very much like to hear yours.""What, you want to do the entire impartial listener type thing?""I never said I was impartial. But if it helps, Im not exactly on his side nor am I pleased with how hes been treating you."
"Look," she said, "I know that youre a family friend and youve been very generous with your gifts to Emily. I really appreciate it, I really do. But, Idont know...""What? What would you like? I will do everything within my power to make you happy. You only have to ask."His insistence was rather confusing, not to mention strange. She decided to call his bluff. "Okay then. You know what I would really like? I wouldlike to talk to my mother."
"I can do that," he whispered."What?""I said that I can do that.""You are not making any sort of sense. My mother went missing years ago! I dont even know her name so I cant conduct any sort of search. Butyoure telling me that you just so happen to know where to find her?""Yes, thats what Im telling you."
"Her name is Tina," he continued. "And I had a feeling that you would want to see her again. Shes expecting you.""You have got to be shitting me! Its just that simple? Oh, look, Im some random guy and I just happen to know where your mother is. Ive beenaround all these years and I never felt the need to tell you until now.""The situation is very confusing. I have refrained from telling you because I wanted your life to be happy with your adoptive fathers. I never wantedyou to feel that you were missing out on anything. Unfortunately I wasnt quite as successful as I would have hoped; you still missed your mom.And you know what? I completely understand and its high time that I did something about it.""What?"
He stood up and held out his hand. "Like I said, I will do everything within my power to make you happy. This is most certainly within my realm ofpower. Take my hand and I will take you there.""Okay, this is getting strange.""Its only going to get stranger.""What, are you some sort of magical person who grants wishes?""Magical? Yes, I suppose you could say that. Oh! I know whats missing."
He pulled a necklace out of his pocket and dropped it around her neck before she could react. "You need that," he said. "The key allows you topass beyond the veil. My realm can kill a mortal, but the key prevents that from happening especially if they arent in my presence. You wont haveto worry once you get to my residence, but I dont want to take any chances."
Before she could ask what that all meant, she heard a loud nicker. The sudden appearance of a white horse right next to her made her jump insurprise. "What the hell?!"
"Sorry about that," Zane replied as he did a literal facepalm. "The key also allows you to see things connected to my office; things that Mortalsgenerally dont see. Palus--" the horse looked up and gave what sounded like a disgusted snort, "sorry, Binky-he insists on calling himself Binky now-has been very rude and eavesdropping on our conversation. Hes also been giving advice, but I havent been telling you what hes been sayingbecause most of it seems to involve booze of some sort. Im afraid my horse might be a bit of a lush." The horse snorted again. "Well, Im sorry, Pal—Binky, but until you—well thats just highly inappropriate, even coming from you! No! Im not going to..."Whatever else Zane said to Binky was completely lost on Karen as memories fell into place, and the other strange occurrences that had happenedthroughout her life began to make sense.
One of her earliest memories of her mother lying on the floor and the man in a black robe, something she always thought was just a dream, cameto mind. She realized now that her mother was dead and the man, the man who had ridden with her on a horse, a white horse, was the GrimReaper.
The unexplained gifts that her fathers insisted they didnt buy for her were suddenly explained. The multitude of questions Zane always asked herwhenever he saw her were explained as well.
And then she suddenly remembered the low point she had hit in college. He was the one who had come to her that night and scared the livingdaylights out of her. She also had the feeling that he was the one who had sent her the mysterious flowers and letter warning her to stay away fromThaddeus and encouraging her to contact her fathers again. And when she really thought about it, she remembered that he was at the pub the dayshe reunited with Malcolm and she remembered that he had been pleased to see her there.
He was always there, showering her and her family with gifts. He was always there cheering her on.He was a constant, never aging presence. It all clicked in her mind just exactly who, and what, he was.
"So youre..youre...""Someone who has been watching over you since you were very small," Zane replied as he scratched Binkys head, whatever argument they werehaving plainly over."Youre the Grim Reaper!""Yes, I suppose Im that, too.""But..but why? It makes no sense. Why me? What makes me so special that Death--""Please, my name is Zane.""Fine, whatever. Why have you been paying special attention to me, of all people?"
When he turned around to face her, her eyes were drawn to his fidgeting hands. More importantly, she saw the gold wedding band on his ringfinger."You are important to me because you are your mothers daughter," he said quietly.
She looked at him, confused. "But..no. You arent my..I thought Goopy, Edens dad, was my father."Zanes voice was wistful when he said, "Yes, Goopy is your biological father.""But..but then...""I am married to your mother. That makes me your step-father."***
"Here, let me help," Zane said when they arrived on the Dead Realm. Then his lips quirked in amusement. "I promise I wont get fresh with you."Karen, who was feeling a bit dizzy from the trip, still managed to glare slightly at him. "I dont think thats funny. You could have just told meoutright who you were. How many times did I hit on you?""Only twice. I suppose it could have been considered flattering if, well, you know," he shrugged."You still could have told me.""Like I said, I couldnt. It wouldnt have been fair to Frances and Malcolm. Theyre your fathers and they did more for you than I ever possiblycould." When he made sure that she had proper footing he asked, "Are you ready?" Karen nodded and let him lead her out of the barn.
The cheerful green house, which wasnt the type of house Karen was expecting the Grim Reaper to live in, looked strange and lonely against theorange land and sky. The air, or the lack thereof, was completely still. The entire area felt dead, which was appropriate considering that it wascalled the Dead Realm.The entire place seemed silently horrifying.In the horizon, she noticed what looked like a shadowy figure moving. "Um, Zane?" Karen asked, "Whats that in the distance?"Without looking up from his task, which was, oddly enough, setting out a lawn gnome, he replied, "Its one of the Nameless. It was probablyattracted by your essence of life. Dont worry though, they dont come near my place. Im their boogie man, you see." She thought he was joking,but the expression on his face and the slightly bitter tone told her otherwise. When he was finished with the gnome he smiled at her. "Lets goinside," he said.
Playful banter, teasing and laughter washed over the two of them and disappeared abruptly when it crossed the threshold to the outdoors.Nobody seemed to notice, so Karen assumed that it was normal. She hastily closed the door and was relieved to find that once she did, the insideof the little home seemed very normal. She glanced at Zane and noticed that he had a fond smile on his face. "This is my family," he said happily toher. "Well, not all of them, theres a couple missing right now. But, yeah, this is my family and home." Before she could respond he addressed theroom. "Hey guys, look who I brought with me."
Everyone turned around then stood up when they saw Karen. One of the Hula Girls, at least Karen thought she was a Hula Girl, she didnt knowbecause she wasnt wearing her traditional outfit, crossed her arms and arched an eyebrow at Zane. She sighed and shook her head. "Man, Zane,youre going to get into trouble one of these days." Karen didnt know what the woman meant by that, not did she hear Zanes response. Herattention was on the blond woman who looked both shy and nervous."Karen," she said. "Hi..."Her voice sounded exactly as Karen remembered it. "Mom..."The dark haired woman with the sunglasses then said, "Okay, this looks like one of those after school special family reunions. I think we shouldleave these two alone. Come on, Remington, I have proof that youre wrong." Apparently she was referring to the discussion they were havingbefore Karen came in. The two dark haired women and the zombie nodded in agreement and left the room.
Zane went over to Tina and kissed her on the cheek. "I think this is a private moment meant just for the two of you," he said. "I wish I could be partof it but," he shrugged and smiled, "maybe next time." Then he also left the room.
Tina sat down on the coffee table as Karen hesitantly looked around. She stopped in front of one of the pictures and said, "Thats me! Thats apicture of me!""Yeah, it is," Tina said softly.
Karen turned around. "What happened to you? Hell, what happened in general? I mean Goopy is my biological father? What? How did thathappen? And now youre married to the Grim Reaper? What the hell?""I made a lot of stupid choices and in the end it cost me my life," Tina replied faintly. "In fact the only things I dont regret about it are you and beingmarried to Zane. If I could do everything over I would have done everything completely different, so long as those two remained the same.""And that has got to be the most vague statement I have ever heard."
"Im sorry," Tina said, "I was young. I was eighteen when I had you. I was twenty when I died. I never went to college. In fact, I never evengraduated high school. I gave my virginity away to a creep in the hopes of keeping him, only to have him break up with me anyway. I bouncedfrom man to man all in the hopes that I would have a home to live in after my parents kicked me out. Yes, I even slept with a married man becausehe made promises that I know now that he never intended to keep. I got fired from my low paying, part-time job because I couldnt afford ababysitter, and with no job I couldnt pay the rent. We were just about to be evicted and Social Services were beginning to make inquiries. Youwere going to be taken away from me.Look, I know what I did was bad and incredibly selfish and I feel bad for what I ended up doing. But, on the other hand, your life was far betterthan anything I could have ever given you. Is that a better answer? Im so, so sorry and I wish I could have been there, but I cant take back whathappened. I really wish I could."
Karen rubbed her forehead with a sigh. "So, basically, youre not any wiser than I am.""Im sorry. I wish I could be.""I just thought, for some reason, that you would magically know what to say and tell me what I should do. I just always figured that moms had thatmagical power.""Well, youre a mom. Do you always know the perfect thing to say to your daughter?"Karen laughed. "No. Not at all. Especially not now; I cant find the words to make her understand."
Karen sat down on the couch with a sigh and Tina joined her. "Everything is a mess," Karen confessed."Well..I might not have the right magical words or sage advice, but I can listen. Itll make you feel better.""Thats what Zane said.""I know. I learned it from him."And so Karen told Tina everything about the situation. As she talked, she realized that she did feel a little bit better.
"...And so now it looks like I might be getting a divorce. My entire life is a mess. I dont know what to do anymore. I think it comes down to that Ilove Johnny, but I dont trust him." She looked over at her mother. "Thank you for listening, especially since I know that Zane has probably told youall of this already."
"Zane..." Tina began but then trailed off as she thought about what to say. "Zane censors. Ive always had a feeling that there was a lot more goingon with you than he was letting on. But he doesnt like to talk about unpleasant things and he certainly doesnt like worrying me, especially when Icant do anything about it to help.He tells me that youre well taken care of, he tells me that youre married, he tells me that you have a daughter and that Im a grandmother, whichmakes him happy because that technically makes him a grandfather. Hes also very good about telling me everything that you two talk about. Butanything unpleasant or sad, well, he glosses over. Hes dealt with a lot of sadness in his life, and he continues to deal with it daily due to his job.So, to be honest, I dont blame him.In other words, no. This is the first that Im hearing about any of this."
"So what would you do if you were in my situation?"
"Honey, I cant answer that because I dont know. Youre talking to someone who was very lucky that they had a second chance at life. Except Imnot alive, not really. But my perspective is a lot different than yours. I realized that sometimes love comes softly. On the other hand, Zane wasalways very obvious and straightforward with how he felt about me. He also continues to show me, and tell me, that he loves me all of the time. Igot lucky and I am very thankful for that.I also trust Zane, and I think that is the biggest difference between my situation and yours. If someone loses your trust, its very hard for them togain it back. And its very hard to be with someone whom you cant trust."
"Yeah," Karen said quietly. "Youre right. It is.""I wish I could have been more helpful.""No, you have been. Youre just confirming what Ive already thought."
They chatted for a little while longer before Zane told them that Emily was due back from school. Karen and Tina hugged each other tightly."This was nice," Tina said. "Im so glad that I was finally able to see the wonderful woman youve become. I know it doesnt mean much, but Im soproud of you. Both me and Zane are. Things will work out. I know this because you are a much stronger person than I have ever been.""Thanks...Mom. I really hope I can see you again. Do you think..?""Yes, I think Zane will let you keep that necklace so you can visit again. And maybe next time you can bring a picture of my granddaughter? BothZane and I would really like to have one.""Okay," Karen said with a small laugh. "I will."***
After Zane had brought her home, Karen decided that it was time to tell Johnny her decision. "Hey, its me" she said quietly when he picked up onthe other end.
"Hey," Johnny replied as neutrally as he could. He braced himself as he asked, "So, um, whats going on? Have you decided whether I can comehome or not?" he couldnt help the bitterness in his voice.
Karen was about to snap at his tone but then thought better of it. She instead tried to act like her friend Eden as said as gently as she possiblycould, "Yes, I have. And I think it would be best if we dont stay together anymore. Its not fair to you, its not fair to me, and its not fair for Emily togrow up in an environment where her parents barely tolerate each other. Its not healthy for anyone.""So thats it then?" Johnny said. "Were getting a divorce even though I told you that I do love you? I thought you said you loved me."Karen sighed heavily. "Johnny," she began softly, "I do. But I dont trust you. Youve always wanted what you couldnt have; the whole the grass isalways greener. If we got back together you wouldnt want to be together anymore."
"Thats not true," he pleaded as he tried to fight back tears. "What about Em?" he asked miserably."I dont want to drag her through a custody battle if thats what youre asking. I would really like it if we can share her equally. She needs both of usin her life even if we arent all living in the same house together."Johnny stifled a groan. Custody battle. He didnt have the kind of money to go through that, whereas Karens fathers did. "Can I please talk toher?"His daughter must have been standing right next to her mother because Emily came onto the phone immediately. "Hi, Daddy," she said. "Are yougoing to be coming home soon?"Johnny closed his eyes tightly. "No, sweetheart, it doesnt look like it," he said.
"Oh..." was the only thing Emily could manage to get out.***
After the twins were born, Rhys and Eden fell into an easy routine that involved taking care of the kids and spending "quality" time together. Otherthan when she had to film the second movie to the "Dusk" series, which Rhys and the children accompanied her, her job mainly allowed her to stayin town. Filming a commercial here, appearing as a guest star in a television show there, and of course the interviews and general promotion workfor her movies. Eden found that while she didnt entirely enjoy having most of her personal life on display, having Rhys by her side at least made itmore fun.
Because Eden already had enough on her plate, the two of them decided that Rhys would be the one who ran the businesses, despite Marysprotests.The stores thrived under his care and people found him much more likeable than Mary. Or, at least, his customer service seemed moreconvincing.
The downside was that maintaining the stores was much more difficult than he had originally thought; it wasnt as easy as just walking in, dazzling afew people into buying the proverbial "big stupid pink bear," and calling it a day. Because of the higher taxes on small businesses, the stores had tosell almost twice as much just to make a slight profit. Rhys was constantly having to come up with new promotions and such to attract newbusiness as well as maintain the regular customer base.More often than not, when Eden came home late at night, she would find him sitting at the dining room table with the books, bills, and sketches ofbusiness plans surrounding him.
She always made sure that she told him how much she appreciated his efforts. She also made it a specific point to show him her appreciation.That always went over very well and it was very apparent that for him it was the best part about everything.
Mary, on the other hand, grew more bitter as the time went by. For the most part, she had the look of someone moving through the paces withoutthinking. However, it had become very apparent that she was resentful of Eden and her happy life. Often times, she sought the two of them outand would find them in whatever private corner they were invariably kissing in. When she did find them, she always had some sort of scathingremark directed at one, if not both, of them.
To give Rhys some credit, he generally avoided her. Unfortunately he made it very clear that he was taking the high road and many fights betweenthe two of them started with him saying, "Im trying to pretend that you dont exist and youre making it very difficult for me to do that."
Eden, however, went to great lengths to make sure that everyone was happy. She was constantly attempting to smooth things over between herhusband and mother but, more often than not, found herself at odds with one or the other.Her incredibly long fuse grew shorter with each passing day.
Mary also had very little to do with her grandchildren, which went against the very nature of Family Sims. She never felt the urge to train them,help them with their homework, or spend any sort of time with them.
Not that Erin and Quinn felt that they were lacking. They had their grandfather, Spencer, and their big brother, Vaughn, and that wasnt evengetting into the weird, and hard to understand, family relations they had with the other children their age.But most important of all, they had their parents, whom they adored.
Not that the children necessarily played favorites, but they each had a parent that they gravitated towards.Erin gravitated towards Eden and she absolutely loved playing dress up with Edens old costumes, jewelry, and makeup.
But even better were the times that Eden would take her horseback riding in Veronaville. Erin could never decide which she liked better: riding thehorses or talking with the friends she made there.
Quinn was a complete Daddys Boy. To say that he idolized his father would have been an understatement. He followed him around alwaysasking him questions or always asking if he can help with whatever Rhys was doing. He also tried to mimic his father in most everything he did.Rhys was torn between amusement and pride. It was quite the ego stroke for him and would often times encourage it.
Though, try as he might, he could never get Quinn to understand what was so cool about the celebrity gossip websites he liked to read.
Things were going well and Eden couldnt have been happier with the life she ended up leading even though it was much different than the life shehad originally planned.So it made it that much worse when her agent called and informed her that she had to go to Three Lakes for three months to film the next part ofthe "Dusk" series.***
"Three months, Ede. Three months is a very long time," Rhys complained as he dramatically flopped onto the bed.
Eden looked up from the suitcase she was packing and gave him a slightly apologetic look. He noticed her glance and heaved a long suffering sighfor her benefit. "Three months," he repeated. "Do you know how long that is?"Eden bit her lip to hide a smile. She knew he was going to answer his own question, so she didnt respond. "Three months is roughly ninety days,"he continued. "Ninety days and each day is twenty-four hours. Thats two thousand, one hundred and sixty hours! Every hour has sixty minutes, sothat comes to one hundred twenty-nine thousand, six hundred minutes. Every minute has sixty seconds, so that comes to seven million, sevenhundred and seventy-six thousand seconds! That, my dear, is how long three months is!"
"That is a very long time. Im assuming youre referring to how long you will have to deal with my mother. Im very sorry," she replied.
"Augh! I didnt even think about that! I was just referring to how long I have to go before I get to hoo again! You know all those numbers? Yeah,double-no, triple- those calculations! Three months is going to be an eternity!""Rhys," Eden said patiently, "weve been over this. You arent stuck here. You and the kids are able to come to Three Lakes with me. We did itwhen I filmed the last movie.""Yeah, but they were toddlers then. They didnt have to go to school. Besides, the Headmaster visit has already been scheduled, and then theresthe stores. Theres a million things that need to be done and your mother is of no help at all. Not that I expected her to be, but those little snideremarks of hers about how she was able to run the stores without any help really grinds my gears."
He sat up to cut Eden off before she said anything. "And before you even say it: no. It is not an option to leave the kids alone here with yourmother.""I wasnt even thinking about suggesting it.""Okay, good, because Id rather suffer through being a virgin again, which Im going to become after three months of going without I might like toadd, than leaving them alone with her. Shed make it a point to—whats so funny?" he asked as she burst out laughing."The thought of you becoming a born again virgin. Sweetie, I dont think thats possible. Not with you, Mr. Rhys Fitzhugh, the guy whos fuckingeverywhere.""Hey! Im just saying that if it were possible that Id soldier on like the brave soul I am. Im taking one for the team!" he said with feignedindignation, which only made her laugh harder.
Still laughing, she climbed onto the bed, took his head into her hands, and kissed his nose. "Poor Rhys," she said sympathetically."Poor me," he agreed."Theres always the phone.""Yeah, I know that, but its not the same.""Well, its not like I was going to leave you high and dry. I had plans for tonight. Because, you know, Im going without as well.""Yeah, there is tonight...and theres now," he said with a hopeful grin as he tugged gently at the bottom of her shirt."This is very true, Mr. Greedy," she replied with a smile, which made him grin even wider and raise his eyebrows in invitation.
Before they could go any further, Quinn and Erin scampered into the bedroom squealing with excitement."Dad, Dad, Dad! Is it true that we dont have to go to school today?" Quinn asked breathlessly.
They stopped by the side of the bed, looked at their parents, and began cheering. "Wooo! Moms wrestling with Dad!" Quinn shouted."Can we play, too?" Erin asked.Rhys closed his eyes. "Im being cockblocked by my owns kids. I thought I taught them better than this," he whispered. Eden smiled again."Stop it," she whispered back and gave him a quick kiss. To the kids she said, "Alright you guys, I need to finish packing before we can go to thepark, okay?""Aw, but we wanted to wrestle, too!" Erin pouted."You want to play?" Rhys asked with a grin. Quinn and Erin nodded and began jumping up and down in anticipation.
In a flash, he grabbed at the kids. Quinn jumped onto his back and began shouting, "Go, Erin! Run! I got him! I got him!"With a smile, Rhys arm wrapped around Erin. "Where do you think youre going, huh?""No, Daddy! No! Not the Tickle Monster!"
He effortlessly threw each kid over a shoulder and grinned at Eden, who was watching the tussle fondly. "It seems that we have a couple of extrakids just laying around here. A couple of kids who havent learned that they need to knock first before entering someones bedroom. Hmm, whatdo you think we should do with them, Ede? I dont want to just throw them in the closet because they are pretty valuable, what with their red hairand awesome nose. What to do, what to do." He began swaying, which made the children shriek with laughter.Eden blew him a kiss and said, "I will leave their fate in your hands while I finish packing. Im almost done.""Did you guys hear that? It sounded like your mom said that the Tickle Monster needs to make an appearance. Gotta do what Mom says!" Hewinked at her before leaving the room with the screaming and laughing twins.
Instead of having a huge, extravagant affair to see her off, Rhys and Eden decided to remain low key and spend the day at the park with the children.
And even though their parents took much longer to finish their meal, Erin and Quinn managed to find ways to entertain themselves.
After spending the entire day running around outside, Erin and Quinn were both tucked in and read to sleep. It was the perfect way to end theday.
Once the children were down for the night, Rhys gently pressed Eden against the wall with a playful smile. "So, where were we this morning beforethe whole being awesome parents thing interrupted us? I believe you said something about special plans. I dont know, my memory might needto be refreshed.""Well lets see," she said as she pretended to think about it. "I believe I was packing and you were complaining about how long three months was.Something about so many seconds.""Over seven million.""Oh, thats right. Seven million seconds is an awfully long time for us to go without—" The sound of someone loudly clearing their throat cut Edenoff.
"Eden, dear, dont you have to get up early tomorrow? Im sure today was quite exhausting for you, what with you spending time with the childrenand all. You did actually spend time with the children, yes? You didnt just let them run wild while the two of you were off gallivanting somewhereelse, did you? I know how hard it is for the two of you to have any sense of propriety."
"Are you about done?" Rhys asked with a glare. "Because my wife and I are trying to have a moment here. So you can go away now."Eden sighed and gently pushed Rhys away from her. "Stop. Please. Not tonight, okay?" she whispered.
He turned his angry look on her and took a deliberate step back. "Really? Really? Fine. You know what? Whatever," he snapped. He stomped totheir bedroom and Eden flinched when the door slammed shut. She sighed before turning to address Mary.
"Was it really necessary to interrupt us? Im an adult, Mother. A married adult who is going to be spending a substantial time away from herhusband. It would have been nice to have our last night together be drama free."
Mary scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Its not like youre never going to see him again. This isnt your last day on earth together, so there is no need tobe so overly dramatic. I was only reminding you of the time as I know that you and your husband have a tendency to get carried away. It wouldntdo for you to wake up late and miss your cab."
Eden shook her head sadly. "You really dont get it. You just...dont...do you? Its not about the sex--""Eden, I do not wish to hear about your carnal nature which has certainly gotten worse ever since you married that man.""Fine, then we have nothing more to say to each other" Eden said calmly. "Goodnight, Mother. I will see you in the morning." She turned on herheel and walked into her bedroom, quietly closing the door behind her.
When she entered, she saw that Rhys had changed into his pajamas and was, rather angrily, pulling the covers down. She sighed as sheabsentmindedly picked at her cuticles. "What are you doing?""Im going to bed, what does it look like, Eden?"His tone made her wince. Whenever he called her Eden it was usually a bad sign. "Rhys...""I dont want to hear it.""I just--"
"You always take her side," he interrupted without looking at her. "And what kills me is that I know that you know that Im right.""Its not as simple as picking a side.""Whatever."Silence hung in the air before she sighed again and said, "I dont always take her side. In fact, I rarely take her side on anything."
He raked his fingers through his hair. "You could have fooled me."She slid her arms around him. "If I took her side on everything, then I would have stopped dating you when she wanted me to. If I took her side oneverything, then I wouldnt have started dating you in the first place. If I always took her side, then you and I would never have gotten married--""We got married because I asked you to after you tried getting knocked up without telling me-if I recall correctly," he said bitterly."Im glad you did," was her gentle response. "Do you regret asking me? If you could go back with the knowledge you have now, would you doanything different?""Would you?" he countered."Not at all. I cant even begin to imagine a life without you."
He shook his head slightly as he turned to face her. He looked at her for a long moment before he said, "You honestly mean that, dont you?""Well yeah, of course I do. I wouldnt say it if I didnt mean it." She paused, then said quietly, "Please dont be mad. I dont want tonight to end withus fighting. We had such a nice day with the kids and I was looking forward to tonight. Can we just..?" she shrugged. "I dont like being upset."He looked over her shoulder for a moment, apparently having an internal debate. He clenched his jaw and sighed before he said, "Your motherisnt going to ruin the nice day we had. Im not going to let her."Eden gave him a relieved smile. "Good, I dont want her to, either."
With a grin he dipped her back. "All right then. So lets see: you had special plans for tonight, but we were also going to do it earlier today. By mycount that means we have to do it twice." He gave her a winning smile."Twice!" she responded with mock horror. He gave her a nod."Yep. At least. Thats just how it goes. I dont make the rules, I just abide by them."She laughed at that last part. "Youre shameless.""Yeah, I am," he said and he carried her to their bed.***
"Bye, Mom! Have fun playing with wolves and vampires in the woods!" Erin said the next morning as Eden bent down to hug her children."Bye, Mom. We love you," Quinn chimed in."Ill miss you guys," Eden said. "Be good, okay? Do your homework and dont give your dad any gray hairs before his time.""We wont," Quinn said. "Because if he got gray hair then we wouldnt match him anymore."Eden smiled as she gave each of them a kiss and another tight hug before letting them go.
As she approached Rhys to say goodbye to him, a few different things she wanted to say popped into her mind, the main ones being Ill miss youterribly, and I love you so very much.
She didnt say any of them, though. Instead, she took a page out of his book and lightly touched his cheek with the back of her hand. "Ill call youas soon as I get there," she said. Then she lowered her voice to a whisper and said playfully, "Ill also call you later tonight, too."He arched an eyebrow at her. "Really? Thats how youre going to say goodbye to me? Youre going to be gone, off in the woods, kissing KomeiTellerman and Don Lothario and youre just going to brush my cheek?""No--"
Erin began giggling. "Mom and Dad are making babies," she said to her brother."Dont laugh, Erin," Quinn said as he watched his parents with fascination. "I think its nice. Besides, they arent making babies. If they were, thenthere would be, like, ten kajillion babies laying around because theyre always kissing!"
"Eden, your cab is waiting," Mary said. "Youre already setting a bad example for your children, let us not make tardiness be another, hm?"
The two of them ignored the giggles from the kids as well as Marys comment. "That," Rhys whispered with a smirk, "is a proper goodbye.""That was a very, very nice lesson. I will try to remember that for next time." She sighed as she heard the taxi driver beep the horn and she steppedout of Rhys embrace.
"Well...goodbye, Mother," she said with as much cheeriness she could muster.Mary just gave her a blank look before giving her a slight nod. "Goodbye, dear. Have a safe trip. Please conduct yourself properly while you areaway. Theres enough scandal floating around, we dont need any more." She didnt make any sort of move to hug Eden, nor did she even smile.
With a sigh, Eden headed toward the waiting taxi, her childrens waves and shouts of goodbyes following her.
Unlike Erin and Quinn, Rhys and Mary were silent as they watched Eden drive away. Without the other even knowing it, they both had the samethought:Its going to be a long three months.***
A SUPER HUGE thanks goes out to the following people:Marina/Smoothiequeen: For both Rhys and Spencer Fitzhugh (Fitzhugh Legacy/Villainous Apocalypse) as well as your Simself. Also thank you somuch for allowing me to harass you about every little detail about Rhys!De/Fireflower: Vaughn Fitzhugh (Morgan Legacy) as well as your Simself.Professor Butters: Cecil Goodytwoshoes, Max Goodytwoshoes and Achilles Goodytwoshoes (Squeaky Clean Legacy).Doc Nerd: Archie Vetinari and Cassidy Vetinari (Vetinari Dualegacy).Di/Dicreasy: Anthony and Alexandra Smith, <3 Stanley Legacy <3 (No, putting hearts around his name will never get old).Ben/Blight187: Cassius Marius (Ten Caesars Legacy).And finally a SUPER DUPER HUGE thanks goes to Lark who has patiently listened to all my late night ramblings and hair pullings over my entireplot (and for consequently having every detail spoiled for her).Thank you everyone for reading and until next time, Happy Simming!