Chapter 7: Mary Sue

Mary Sue woke most days crying into her pillow. Ever since Daniel cheated on her with that stupid maid, her life was in shambles.

She moved in with her parents, Herb and Coral Oldie, after the divorce. It was a beautiful home, but Mary Sue found little joy living there.

It was the nights that so troubled her. She’d have nightmares of Daniel kissing Kaylynn, or sometimes Nina Caliente, his new wife. Mary Sue couldn’t believe he’d marry again. After all the fights they had! She knew he hated being married. How many times had he told her he was a Romance Sim, that he couldn’t help his “harmless” flirting?

The nightmares were getting so bad, she quit her job. She could barely get out of bed. Her mother, Coral, would sit at the edge of her bed and caress the side of her face, tucking black hair behind her ear like she used to do when she was younger. Mary Sue told her about her other nightmares – the ones that frightened her the most.

Sometimes she dreamed she was pregnant again, with Angela and Lilith, and the Grim Reaper was there, trying to take them away.

Or sometimes, she was dressed in her clothes for work, but she couldn’t move. She would just lay there in the grass with the Grim Reaper standing over her, his shadow cold and dark.

Coral was concerned by her daughter’s nightmares and wanted to help. She tried her best to make Mary Sue forget the past. “Move on,” she’d say. “If not for yourself, for Angela and Lilith.” Mary Sue only cried harder – she couldn’t face them, not after what she said.

The day of the divorce, Mary Sue had broken down – anger, fear, humiliation, pride. She couldn’t control herself and said things to her daughters that would haunt her for the rest of her life.

It’s your fault! You did this!

She could still see Lilith’s face, so shocked and hurt, but still the words shot out of her mouth like daggers, wounding her daughter’s heart.

You hired Kaylynn because you wouldn’t clean your room like I told you to! It’s your fault!

When Angela smirked as Lilith ran away crying, Mary Sue slapped her.

Why didn’t you help your sister clean her room? I thought you were a good girl!

Angela’s lip trembled as she held her hand to her bright red cheeks. She just said, “I forgive you, mother.”

They quickly left Pleasantview for college, and sometimes, they would visit her and give her hugs and worried looks. They had forgiven her, even Lilith. She wondered how they could do that, how they could be such good girls. Such good girls!

But she couldn’t forgive herself. Never.

That all changed when she met Herbert Goodie. He had just moved to Pleasantview with his wife, Faith. They were an elderly couple and retired. Coral invited them over many times. She loved being a part of the Welcome Wagon whenever new Sims arrived in town.

Mary Sue found herself enjoying Herbert’s company. He was quiet and polite, often found in his books by the fireplace. They would sit together and read for hours. Mary Sue found peace, there beside Herbert.

But he was married. How could she get between him and his wife after what Daniel put her through?

It was as though Herbert read her memory. One night, as they sat on the porch watching the night stars, he quietly said, “Faith and I are divorcing.”

Mary Sue gasped, “What? Why?”

He poured out his heart. “We tried for a long time to have a baby, but… Then we were elders – I wanted to adopt, but she just wanted to stay as we were. Just the two of us. I thought I wanted that, too. Until I met you. Mary Sue, I know you’re not the youngest woman in Pleasantview, and I know we might not be able to make a baby either, but if you might like… We could adopt. I’d love to marry you. And I thought with you being adopted by the Oldies, you’d like to adopt, too, that is if we can’t…”

By then he was rambling on and on so nervously, all Mary Sue could do was fall to her knees and take his hands in his lap. She wept before him, and for the first time in a long time, they were tears of joy.

“I would love to marry you.” And they did, right there at her grandparents’ house.

Her mother joined her for a toast the next morning. “My nightmares are gone!” Now that was worth toasting to.

Not long after, Herbert and Mary Sue Goodie discovered they didn’t need to adopt. Though she was towards the end of her adult years, she managed to get pregnant. She spent most of the pregnancy playing the piano as Herbert lovingly looked on.

It was a fantastic time in Mary Sue’s life, except for one upsetting and unexpected event. Her father, Herb Oldie, divorced her mother, Coral, and married Faith, her husband Herbert’s ex-wife! Apparently, Faith suddenly wanted a child, too, and was planning to adopt one with Herb Oldie.

Mary Sue feared her mother would have a breakdown like she did, but Coral was strong. She just smiled and said, “He’s a Romance Sim, like your Daniel was. I never told you this, Mary Sue. But he’s had a lot of affairs while we were married.”

Mary Sue couldn’t believe it. “Why did you stay with him?”

“For you,” Coral said, holding her hand. “You have always been the most important thing in my life.”

It was the last thing Coral ever said to her daughter. The next morning, she was gone, the Grim Reaper making his appearance, except this time it wasn’t a dream. Her mother was truly gone. Mary Sue cried as she held her new baby daughter in her arms, just as Herbert held her twin sister in his. She wished Coral could have seen her new granddaughters.

They named the girls Felicity and Melody, and they brought pure joy back into the house.

Herbert would just stare at them in amazement. “Thank you, Mary Sue, thank you!”

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Chapter 6: The Dreamers

Cassandra flipped on the light switch.  “Come on, sleepy head.  Out of bed.”

She crossed her son’s bedroom to the window, drawing the curtains.  Sunlight fell over Damien’s face.  He yawned and stretched his arms out, blinking his eyes.  “Do I have to go to school again?” he moaned.

Cassandra smiled.  Her son had finally aged from toddler to child, and she found herself in a much better mood.  With her son able to do more on his own, she couldn’t wait to get back to work.  She was following in her father’s footsteps… it was the science lab for her.

“No, it’s Saturday, silly,” Cassandra said, kissing his little nose.  It was Darren’s nose.  So cute.  “Grandpa’s waiting for you downstairs.”

Damien shot out of bed.  “Grandpa!?”  He ran as fast as his little legs could carry him – down the stairs and into Mortimer’s arms.

“When did you get so big?” Mortimer chuckled as Damien led him by the hand into the kitchen. The smell of apple pancakes and cinnamon oatmeal greeted them.  Mortimer rubbed his belly. “Darren! You giving up your paint brush for a spatula?”

Darren laughed, serving them at the table, as Damien hugged himself proudly. He wanted to be an artist when he grew up. Just like Daddy. Damien boasted, “Daddy’s got a painting of me and Struck!”

Damien insisted Grandpa come look at it after breakfast, but Mortimer fell into his bowl and started to snore.

Darren shook his head when Cassandra grabbed her father’s shoulders in alarm. “He needs more sleep. You know how it was when Damien was a toddler. We barely slept. And Mortimer has two!”

Together, they carried the old man to the living room couch as Damien went for the door, shouting, “I got the door!” Surprisingly, the door bell didn’t wake Mortimer, but the TV did. He lurched forward and mumbled, “Bella, bella…” before realizing where he was. As Cassandra patted a cold towel to her father’s forehead, Darren hurried over to see who was at the door.

He stopped in his tracks to see both his sons playing red hands.

“Dirk?!” Darren exclaimed, “What are you doing here?” They had just waved goodbye to him yesterday as he went off to college. It had been the proudest day of Darren’s life.

Dirk gave Darren a bear hug. Darren wasn’t used to his son being so tall. “All my classes are late today. I thought I’d come for breakfast.”

He grudgingly replied, “As long as you’re not missing anything important…” He always stressed education to his son, but he had to admit – he missed him dearly! After breakfast, Darren cleaned up the dishes as Cassandra headed to work. Some lab emergency. Mortimer stayed to watch TV with his pleading grandson while Dirk periodically poked the old man in the ribs when he started to drift. Poor guy needed rest!

Dirk had trouble concentrating himself, but not for lack of sleep. He couldn’t get Lilith out of his head!

Truth be told, he needed to get away from the dorms to think. He had ended his teenage years abruptly to start college, and sometimes, he felt he wasn’t ready. Sometimes, he envied Dustin Broke who decided to get a job instead of studying at Sim State University.

Lilith was really pushing it with him.

They were high school sweethearts, and now that they were in college together, she wanted to woohoo!

He felt like a fool – he should be exhilarated! But he wasn’t. As a Knowledge Sim, he felt really uncomfortable making major decisions unless he could think things through first… Carefully, and at home where she couldn’t sway him with her kisses.

She had really changed.

In high school, she was Miss Bad Girl, always trying to be the opposite of her “perfect” sister.

Lilith was always getting into trouble. Not as bad as Dustin Broke, who was a regular with the police. Instead, Lilith was just that rich, mean girl who liked to dye her hair black or use black lipstick like it meant something.  She liked to torment boys over their “dirty hair” or “stinky clothes,” thinking herself above them.

Dirk grew up not being able to afford much – his hair and clothes were often dirty. His father barely paid the bills on time until Cassandra started working. Lilith was always picking on him, but Dirk saw right through it.

Dustin Broke saw right through it, too. He was dating Angela at the time and her hatred for her twin had rubbed off on him. Dustin confronted Lilith, poking her in the shoulder and shoving her back against the school lockers. “Angela was right about you – you’re the reason your parents are divorced!”

Lilith ran away crying, but Dirk found her in a janitor’s closet, crying on the floor. Dirk sat down next to her. He didn’t say a thing, just sat down next to her.

That was the start of their friendship, and eventually, their love.

Back then, Dirk understood her.

But now… Lilith no longer dyed her hair black, and sometimes, Dirk had trouble telling her apart from her twin.

Now, Angela wore black and Lilith was wearing purple for the first time in her life.

That was not like Lilith at all; even Angela seemed different. Angela was always an insufferable snot, but lately she had been extra nice to him. Helping him with homework, laughing at his jokes, that sort of thing.

He wondered why Lilith suddenly wanted to be like her, instead of against her. As far as he knew, they were still enemies. What had changed?

He realized he didn’t want to woohoo with her until he found the answer.

Both Damien and Mortimer were fast asleep on the couch when Cassandra returned home from work, her lab coat singed up to her elbows. Dirk could tell she loved working. She tenderly awakened her son and father, helping them out the door. Mortimer’s limo took him home while Cassandra took Damien out back to play on the swings. Children were like that – one second sleeping like the dead, the next shooting off like a rocket.

Dirk watched them play in the backyard, near Mama’s willow tree. He forgot all about his classes; he just stood there watching Cassandra push Damien on the swing. Night fell, and still he watched, waiting…

His mother came out, just as he expected.

Mama.

She was an angry ghost, fire-red and glaring at Cassandra and Damien. Dirk felt his father fall in beside him at the window. His fingertips were stained with paint. It wasn’t the first time they had seen Darleen’s ghost on the prowl.

“She’s always the same,” Dirk quietly said, almost to himself. “She never changes.”

It was then Dirk hugged his father goodbye. He was going home to Lilith. She had changed, yes – because she was alive. That was the secret to true love. His mother had taught him, from the grave she had shown him. People change, but true lovers change together.

Chapter 5: Daniel & Nina

Nina Pleasant almost dropped the phone, her hands were so sweaty. She squinted at the little blue line and said, “Yah, there’s definitely a line.”

“You’re pregnant?” Dina said, her voice almost drowned out by the sound of toddlers screaming in the background. Nina was surprised she had time at all to answer the phone. She hadn’t left her house since the twins were born. With Mortimer so old and near death, he wanted every last second with his new family. Nina was surprised he let his son, Alexander, go off to college

She wondered if he’d life long enough to see him graduate.

She heard Mortimer laugh in hysterical glee. Well, at least someone was having fun.

Why am I thinking about that? Oh, yah, the bad news… The pregnancy test was positive.

“Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away,” Nina observed.

Dina laughed. “Does Daniel know yet?”

Just on cue, Nina heard the front door bang open. Daniel had a habit of rushing as fast as he could from his car, wiggling out of his work clothes, and throwing her on the bed to woohoo. He was like a Romance Sim on steroids. Nina wondered how he ever suffered through his marriage with Mary Sue for so long. From what she heard, Mary Sue was a total bore, always working.

“He will now,” Nina murmured into the phone before reluctantly hanging up. She didn’t want to face her husband.  How would he take the news? Tomorrow he would turn into an elder… Did he even want children so late in life? His own children with Mary Sue were teenagers, about to go off to college…

Daniel immediately noticed her frowning. “What’s wrong, my litte vixen?”

Nina stared into Daniel’s green eyes and thought, I keep making the same mistakes.

Why had she married and gotten pregnant – again!?

“There’s something wrong with me,” she cried.

“No, nothing.  You’re perfect,” Daniel cooed, kissing her neck.

She pushed him away and blurted out, “I’m pregnant.”

He grinned, “Must have been last night!” Despite herself, Nina cracked a smile. That had been a crazy good night. Before becoming an elder, Daniel wanted to woohoo like he was young again.

But it wasn’t fun anymore. Daniel reached for her, and all she could think about was that tomorrow she’d be kissing a dirty, old man.

The door bell suddenly rang, allowing Nina the chance to escape her husband. She welcomed Brandi Broke into her home with a frozen smile. Her joke about the pool ladder accident hadn’t gone down well.

They sat down to dinner, and Brandi shared her news as if they were best friends again. Her teenage son, Dustin, had decided not to go to college (what a surprise) and, somehow, Don Lothario had found a job for him in the hospital. Nina poked at her food – how did Brandi know Don that well to ask such a favor? Nina almost laughed into her cup – she was jealous! Did she still love Don?

How couldn’t she? She was a Romance Sim and Don was HOT!

Why do I keep making the same mistakes?

She asked herself that again and again as she progressed through her pregnancy. Daniel was all heart and roses, fawning on her.

Nina just felt like puking into his old, wrinkly face. I’m married to an old fart.

Sometimes, Daniel’s daughters came over to pester her. They hated her as if she was the reason their parents were divorced. Nina found out the maid was Kaylynn Langerak, and after getting caught with Daniel, she raced off with a French hottie named Gilbert Jacquet.

What did Daniel expect? That the maid enjoyed having to woohoo him after cleaning out his toilet?

As they sat down to dinner, Lilith smirked at her. “My Dad paid the maid 10 bucks an hour, so how much is he paying you?”

Nina just laughed and laughed and laughed. Lilith no longer seemed pleased with herself. Instead she looked… scared.

Wiping tears from her eyes, Nina asked, “So what’s with the black hair? You trying to look mean?”

After that, the twins never bothered her. Not that Angela ever did – not directly. She liked to gossip with her mother, laughing at Nina as if her life was one big joke.

Finally, the big day came and Nina gave birth to another baby girl – Gina Pleasant.

She was just like Raquel, except her skin was lighter and red tufts of silky hair crowned her little head. She was beautiful. Holding back sobs, Nina whispered over her cradle, “I’m sorry.”

Chapter 4: Dina Goth

Dina missed her twin.

Before Dina married Mortimer, they used to go bowling or dancing Downtown every night. Now that Nina was divorced from Don Lothario, she kept calling and calling, begging her to go have fun like they used to.

“I can’t,” Dina said for the millionth time. “I’m pregnant, remember?”

“Don’t you remember how much fun we used to have?”

Dina did remember.

She had a picture on her fancy wall to remind her everyday.

Back then, they were too hot to handle. They were the Caliente sisters!

But not anymore. She was Dina Goth now, not Dina Caliente, and soon, she’d be a mother, too. As for Nina, she was – well, Dina truly felt sorry for her sister. Nina was now Nina Pleasant.

Dina wondered how long that marriage would last.

“So why did you marry Daniel, again?”

“Are you coming or not?” Nina asked impatiently.

“Sorry, I have a date with Mortimer.”

Nina hung up on her.

A date playing an exciting game of chess…

Dina sighed at the picture on the fancy wall.

Everyone might think she was crazy – or Fortune crazy – for wanting to be with Mortimer, but truth was – she loved the way he made her feel. Like a million bucks…

But was it Mortimer or his money that loved her?

Probably his money. Now that was a faithful spouse. Whenever she went shopping, it was always there, ready to be spent. It never failed to make her heart melt…

Unlike Mortimer, who on their wedding night, turned her heart to ice.

After woohoo, he cuddled in her arms and whispered, “I love you, Bella,” before falling asleep.

Dina stayed awake, glaring at the ceiling and thinking of Don. She remembered the way he kissed her. Even now, pregnant with Mortimer’s baby, she couldn’t get his kiss out of her mind.

Why hadn’t she married him instead? It’s not like he was dirt poor like Brandi Broke. He was doing well in the Medicine career track, and while he’d never be as rich as Mortimer, it would have been a good life.

A chess-less life, probably.

Dina found her husband in the living room, having an intense chess match with his son, Alexander. She put on her best smile and approached them. She was good at faking it.

Mortimer rose from his chess match and gave his wife a tender caress.

Are you caressing me or Bella? she wanted to ask, but instead she stayed silent and listened to her husband inform her that they were having guests for dinner. Alexander was soon off to college and this was his little going-away party. Mortimer had invited his daughter, Cassandra, and her husband, Darren Dreamer. They had recently had a baby boy named Damien. It was Mortimer’s first grandchild, and he kept gushing over him, saying how much he looked like Bella. Dina didn’t see the resemblance – Damien was a spinning image of his father. But again, Dina kept silent and said only the most appropriate and proper things during dinner.

“I love the cheese cake, Dina. Father said you made it yourself?” Cassandra asked in utter awe.

Dina bit her tongue. Rich Sims, always used to butlers cooking their food. Dina wondered how her life with Darren was going so smoothly – he wasn’t rich at all. A starving artist, more like.

“Yes,” she managed to squeak, covering her mouth with a napkin. She abruptly left the table and hurried to the bathroom to throw up. Behind her, she heard Mortimer say, “Bella is having such a hard pregnancy. I’ll make some ginger tea.”

Dina gritted her teeth. Bella. She looked back and noticed Cassandra didn’t even bat an eyelid at her father’s lapse of memory. Dina wondered if Cassandra thought their marriage was a joke. Dina suddenly hated her! And all this time, she thought Cassandra actually liked her. They had really warmed to each other at their shared engagement party, but now…

Dina ran upstairs and locked herself in the bathroom. After puking out her brains, she set the tub to running hot water and poured in some bubbles. As she soaked in the tub, she thought about Don. Single.

Forget him, Dina!

The next day she did. She gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.

“It was the cheese cake,” Nina said, when Dina called her up to tell her Mortimer had named them Finnegan and Alra. “So now that you’re not pregnant, come Downtown with me!”

“I can’t. The babies need me.”

“Come on, Dina. You’re rich. Just hire a butler to feed the brats.”

This time, Dina hung up on her. She loved her babies.

And Mortimer. As he fed Alra in his arms, he looked up at her and said, “She looks just like her mother. I love you, Dina.”

Dina smiled.

Chapter 3: Don & Nina

Life was hard for Don Lothario.

He just wanted to woohoo.

Sure, women swooned over him, but once he invited the ladies back to his place, all they wanted to do was talk.

Ugh, Don hated talking.

Kissing was much more exciting.

Dina seemed to like it, too, but then she stopped returning his calls. He learned from his friend, Dirk Dreamer, that she had gone off and married Mortimer Goth. Lucky old man – dirty rich and now a beautiful, young wife to top it off.

And the worst part was, it was probably Don’s fault.

If he had only NOT invited Bella over that night…

Mortimer would still be married and Dina would still be in his arms.

But he couldn’t help himself, at the time. She was so beautiful, and the way she gushed over stargazing… Don fell instantly in love with Bella and daydreamed about woohoo with her.

But it never happened. Bella loved Mortimer as much as she loved her stars. She’d talk about him all the time. In her eyes, he was strong and handsome.

In Don’s eyes, Mortimer was old and gross. He felt bad for Dina. Poor Fortune Sims… if that’s what it took to reach Platinum mood for life, he was glad he was a Romance Sim…

And smart.

He was in the Medicine career track after all. He had an idea one night and dished up a special potion that would make him irresistible to women.

Bella actually looked at him, really looked at him.

Bella finally saw him as more than her astronomy tutor (another benefit of being smart), and as they leaned in closer together, Don closed his eyes, waiting for the hot kiss when – BAM! He fell over.

Bella was gone, poof! And Don was left aching with desire and totally confused. He searched the skies, but if aliens had kidnapped her, he never saw.

In disgust, Don threw out the love potion and tried something different.

He called to talk. Not invite over to hang in the hot tub, but actually talk, and Nina Caliente reciprocated. Don couldn’t believe his luck! Nina was a Romance Sim like him. She just wanted to woohoo, too!

Don found himself woohooing to distraction. He couldn’t stop thinking about her. He felt like a teenager with a massive crush. He no longer thought about Bella or Dina. All he thought about was Nina.

One day he found himself skimming the For Sale page of the newspaper, and before he knew it, he had a ring delivered. He proposed to Nina and she accepted.

Nina couldn’t believe it either.

She invited over her friends to tell them the crazy news. Lisa Ramirez nearly choked on her food and Brandi Broke almost passed out.

“Engaged?! But you’re both Romance Sims!” Brandi cried as she took Nina aside to talk privately with her.

“Yah, it’s stupid, but Don’s totally hot,” Nina shrugged. She flippantly added, “It’s not like you have never done anything stupid.”

Brandi narrowed her eyes, “Like what?”

“Like building a pool without a ladder.”

Brandi stormed out, but Nina didn’t care. She was going to marry Don, no matter what. Truth was, she hated that Dina had married the insanely rich Mortimer. She knew the instant Dina saw Nina and Don wed she’d be boiling with jealousy. Nina knew Dina still loved Don. She just wouldn’t admit it to herself – Fortune Sims were silly went it came to blindly choosing money over love.

Don was HOT. Being a Romance Sim was so much better.

When Nina called Dina to tell her they were getting hitched, Dina asked, “Wasn’t Don flipping burgers not too long ago? How’d he afford your engagement ring?”

Nina rolled her eyes. Just like Dina, always thinking about money first. “He was just doing it to pick up girls.”

“Uh, huh,” Dina answered.

Nina shrugged. She thought it was a good idea. That’s what she loved about Don – he was exactly like her.

But soon after marriage, Nina found herself pregnant and thinking back to Brandi’s doubts. Nina didn’t want to be a Mom – not yet! She was suddenly scared… Look at her, making dinner instead of dancing at bars Downtown.

But when Raquel Lothario was born, both Don and Nina – hardcore Romance Sims – fell in love and for an instant – almost wished they were Family Sims

She was so cute.

Don loved her more than anything.

But Nina got bored. Endless diapers and feedings were getting old. Nina wanted to woohoo, and with Don smelling like baby farts, her husband no longer seemed so appetizing.

That’s when Daniel Pleasant came into the picture.

Well, in truth, Nina had met him before at her own house. Before the baby came, Don and Nina used to actually host parties and have fun. At the time, Nina thought Daniel was cute with his broken heart and wacky neon pants and flirted with him a little.

He told her he had recently divorced. Apparently, his wife Mary Sue had caught him cheating with the maid. What was even funnier, the maid dumped him for some French guy.

So needless to say, Daniel was totally open to her advances.

But Nina didn’t go further than flirting. She had a hard pregnancy and felt more like puking than kissing.

But not now. The real Nina was back – not some barf-smelling mother.

Nina took Daniel out to Red’s Famous 50s Diner and quickly picked up where they left off so many months before.

Don found out and got really angry, divorcing Nina on the spot.

Nina happily left with Daniel, not even giving her own baby daughter a second glance. Don shook his head in disgust.

Romance Sims.

Upset, Don found himself inviting Dina Goth over. For some reason, seeing her face made him feel better.

Dina was very pleased when he told her what happened. She said, “Nina didn’t deserve you. You’re such a great father!”

“And single,” Don said, giving her his best womanizer smile.

Dina just laughed and patted away his groping hands, saying, “Don’t or you’ll make Mortimer jealous. He’s very protective of me ever since I told him I was pregnant.”

Don paled, then felt instantly stupid. What did he think was going to happen? That Dina would fall into his arms? Why was he so hung up on Dina? And how could he trust his feelings when only a day before he had loved Nina more than any other woman?

Ugh, if only he could switch off his feelings… but wanting to let go of being a Romance Sim and actually doing it were two different things.

Don sighed and went back inside to give Raquel a big hug. He found her crying, but not for a bottle. Somehow, she knew her mother was gone.

He tickled her until she smiled and whispered, “Don’t worry, Daddy’s gonna find you a new mommy.”

Chapter 2: Darren & Cassandra

As an artist, Darren knew what it meant to get lost inside a painting. After his wife died in a horrible fire, he lost himself, too. All he could do was paint her grave over and over. He loved the way the willow trees sheltered her. He hoped she was at peace.

He wished he was at peace.

He hated his life without Darleen.  He never smiled, not even when he was painting.  He tried gardening – his wife had loved that – but it left him feeling empty.

He was haunted by his wife’s death, the memory of her freshly dug grave and the sound of his son’s weeping…

He was so proud of Dirk.  He was strong, so strong.  Even with his mother gone, he still took care of her…

One day, Dirk answered the door.  There was a beautiful lady waiting outside, a sorrowful look on her face.  She said, shyly, “My name is Cassandra Goth.  I’m looking for the artist, Darren Dreamer.  Is he available?  I have a painting I’d like to commission…”

From the moment he saw her, Darren felt his empty heart stir.  Not since Darleen had he felt this way.  Cassandra wanted him to paint a portrait of her mother, Bella, as a gift for her father.  Darren could tell she was very worried about her father and wanted to help.

Even better, Cassandra asked if she could watch him paint. Darren blushed, feeling silly and happy and… alive. For the first time in a long time, Darren painted something other than his wife’s grave.

After the Bella painting was completed, Cassandra continued coming over to watch Darren paint. He painted landscapes and still life, anything to impress her. He finally asked her out on a date – to the art museum, of course!

Cassandra had a blast. She laughed so hard at the flaming toilet! Now that’s art!

Darren laughed, too, but nervously.

The day before, Darren had told his son, Dirk, about his feelings for Cassandra. Dirk was very happy for his father. He missed his mother, but was also giddy about the idea of having a new mother.

Taking a deep breath, Darren asked Cassandra to marry him at the art museum. She said yes!

Darren brought Cassandra home, and as he held her in his arms, he knew his life was no longer empty.

Cassandra enjoyed her status as Darren’s newly-minted fiance. She pinned a pretty red flower in her hair. Darren had picked it from his garden.

Life was blooming for them, and Cassandra wanted to tell the whole world about her new love.

Cassandra called her father and invited him over. She was excited, but nervous. Ever since her mother disappeared, she felt helpless and afraid, watching her father succumb to loneliness and sorrow.

Which was why she was so utterly shocked when her father arrived with a young woman on his arm and a huge smile on his face!

Mortimer gave his daughter a big hug and said, “I’d like you to meet my fiance, Dina Caliente.”

Cassandra couldn’t believe it – she was utterly speechless.

Mortimer grinned at her reaction and said, pointing at her finger, “I see you are engaged, too! We should have an engagement party!”

So they did, which was the perfect opportunity for Cassandra to sniff out Dina.

At first, she was extremely suspicious. Her father’s precarious mental health was not the only reason she broke off her engagement with Don Lothario. She heard rumors he was messing around with both of the Caliente sisters while dating her – that slimy Sim!

But Cassandra found she couldn’t believe it.

Dina seemed so… perfect.

Dina was kind, friendly, even motherly to her – it was hard to hate her for trying to replace Bella. Even Alexander, who came late to the party (he had recently aged to teenager), seemed very accepting of the new couple.

After the two weddings, Cassandra lost interest in her new mother-in-law. She was pregnant! Darren was so excited and started painting with relish, hoping to sell a few paintings and remodel the house to include another bedroom for the baby.

Even though Cassandra was the daughter of the richest man in Pleasantview, Darren gained little financially when he married her. Darren suspected Dina Goth had something to do with that, but he kept it to himself. He didn’t want to frazzle his wife in such fragile condition.

He waited for the big day, attentive to his wife’s every need. As luck would have it, he was in the shower when Cassandra popped!

Cassandra gushed with love – it’s a boy! They named him Damien.

Dirk loved his new baby brother and helped out with diaper money by getting a part-time job after school flipping burgers.

It was there he met Don Lothario, who was also flipping burgers.

“Marry a rich girl and you won’t have to do this anymore,” Don said with a grin, as he flipped a burger expertly behind his back. It landed neatly on a bun and made the girls waiting in line giggle. Dirk laughed, and they became quick friends.

Dirk invited Don to Damien’s Grow Up Birthday. He couldn’t believe how quickly they grew up – first a baby, then a toddler, and now almost a child!

Cassandra didn’t seem to mind about Don. With Mortimer and Dina still happily in love, Cassandra didn’t see him as a threat anymore. She was too happy to even notice he was there behind her, cheering Damien on as he blew out his candles.

Life was good.

Chapter 1: Mortimer & Bella

Mortimer Goth loved being with his beautiful wife, Bella.

Now that he was retired and no longer working as a mad scientist, he could spend more time with her.  They kissed like they were teenagers again.  Bella effortlessly dazzled him with her every move.

He wondered if Bella wanted another child.  He remembered the pure joy on Bella’s face the day their son, Alexander, entered the world of Pleasantview.  His big sister, Cassandra, loved blowing kisses on his tummy.

Back then, the house was always full of laughter.

But not anymore. One night, Bella never came to bed.  Mortimer searched the entire mansion – which took a long time since it was so big – but couldn’t find his lovely wife.  Didn’t she want to woohoo and try for a third child?  He was getting very old, only a few days left. He tried to think back to their last conversation…

Then he remembered…

A few nights ago, Bella had contacted a local “star” expert to help her with her astronomy studies – which, of course, occurred at night.  His name was Don Lothario.

The more Mortimer remembered, the more he got upset.  He hadn’t liked the way Don looked at his wife.  Everyone knew he was a Romance Sim.  What if he had stolen away his wife’s affections?

Mortimer stayed up all night, worrying and crying.

Bella never came home.  Trying to explain that to his young son, Alexander, was the hardest thing he ever had to do.

He explained what the police investigation discovered.  Bella was either the victim of a botched alien abduction (resulting from “excessive stargazing”) or had runaway to Strangetown.

Day after day, in his misery, all Mortimer could do was think about was Bella.  He dreamed of her constantly, and took up her favorite hobby to feel closer to her.  In the stars, he saw her face.

But as time passed, her face began to fade and Mortimer felt more alone than ever.  He could barely find the strength to face the day and slept for hours.

His daughter, Cassandra, was so worried for him that she broke off her engagement with Don Lothario so she could stay at home.  Mortimer hadn’t even known she was engaged!  He must have been off in his own world when Don was romancing his daughter.

It was then he realized, he had to say goodbye to Bella and live his life before it passed on by…  But instead of feeling liberated, he felt angry.  Don Lothario had almost stolen away his daughter, too!  He began to suspect that Don was after the Goth fortune.

This wasn’t the first time Mortimer had to deal with Fortune-hungry Sims at his door.

Nina and Dina Caliente at Mortimer's door

He slammed the door in their faces and went back to daydreaming about his long, lost wife… about how happy she was with Alexander in her arms.

He watched Alexander playing, and the more he watched his son, the more he realized he wanted another baby. A family.

He knew Bella had loved him, that she would always be a part of his heart, and that she would want him to go on with his life and start a new family.

Mortimer opened the door.