Writer Notes: This chapter is parallel to the previous two chapters in timeline.
Warnings: Plottiness, some flashbacks, threats, aww moments, cheesy moments, and half-nakedness
It was strange.
Going from a house full of kids always playing, rough housing, or doing what teenagers thought their parents didn’t know about.
The house was so quiet now. Sure, Buck still lived there with his father, but he was often visiting the Smiths or at school events.
Soon enough he’d be gone to college too.
And then it would just be Buzz and the house and the memories.
He thought he might enjoy it, the quiet.
But day-after-day returning from work, he found himself missing his kids and sound in general, even Ripp’s terrible music.
What would he do now?
“Aww, that’s awesome! Tell Johnny congratulations for me, Jenny.”
“How’s Vidcund holding up? He met someone?! Who!” Lola laughed. “So you’ll be back tomorrow then? All right, bye!”
“Pretty late for a walk, don’t you think?” Lola asked.
Buzz shrugged. “Looks like the Llamas won. P.T. and Jenny must be proud.”
“Yeah, Johnny’s a riot.” she laughed.
“Hey, it’s silly talking from this balcony.” Lola said. “Why don’t you come up?”
“Would you like some wine?” she asked. “I’m having a glass.”
“I feel like we haven’t talk in awhile,” she said, trying her best not to sound like it was a therapy session.
“It’s been a couple of weeks,” he nodded.
“Which reminds me, I forgot to thank you when we saw each other last.”
“He hasn’t bothered me since,” she chuckled. “So thank you.”
“So what’s new with you?” she asked. “Jenny said that Buck and Jill have been talking about starting art projects at your house?”
“He asked if they could use Lyla’s art studio.” Buzz answered.
“Someone should, I guess. Ripp always talked about it. He has the talent, just like his mom, but he is just too lazy to utilize it. Maybe Buck will get some use out of it. He’s always wanted to feel closer to Lyla. She died when he was so young.”
It was interesting that Buzz was so open now. In the beginning, he wouldn’t even talk. He confessed that he had wanted to after awhile, but he was just too stubborn to give in. Now, it seemed like ancient history. Lola truly liked Buzz. He was a good guy underneath it all. It came in small sprints, but it was enough for her.
“And you? Anything new?” He asked. She couldn’t decide if he deliberately changed the subject away from him because he didn’t like the attention or because he was genuinely interested in her.
“Well, I’ve moved on from the Ajay thing.” she said. “I’m working again for the school as a guidance counselor so bills are being paid on time. I feel like things are falling into place. Well, except one thing.”
“Oh yeah? What would that be?” he asked.
She paused, probably for too long.
His brows furrowed together. “Is everything OK?”
“I was going to talk to you about it a couple of weeks ago, but…” she felt like a school girl again. Or maybe that’s just because of the weeks talking to young shy girls? She wasn’t shy. All her life she’d always been ambitious. That wasn’t about to change now.
“Hey, what you doing down here?” Chloe asked.
“I’m ruined.” Donna barely whispered.
“Malcolm had this recording of us.” she answered. “It’s everywhere…I…me…everywhere!”
“I’m sure it’ll be OK.” Chloe said. “Malcolm will handle it.”
“They pulled production of the movie!” Donna cried. “It won’t affect Malcolm, but me! Evidently this Ms. Crumplebottom went on-air and called me a whore. No one wants to work with me now. I don’t know what to do!”
“Hey, hey, listen.” Chloe began softly. “It’s going to be OK. We’ll figure it out. You are the hottest topic of all SimNation. We’ll spin this, I promise.”
“How?” Donna asked.
“We’re romance sims.” Chloe shrugged. “We just get one organization or popular sim behind us and it’ll do nothing, but make your star power stronger.”
“I’ll take care of you.” Chloe said. “And Malcolm will wish he never recorded that blasted woohoo tape.”
“Aw, just in time.” Loki smirked. “The tests are going well.”
“Good, but that’s not why I’m here.” Malcolm Landgraab returned. “I want to ask you both a question.”
“Did we like your tape?” Circe grinned. “I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I’ll have to give you some tips, Mal. There’s more ways to please a lady.”
“So, it was you?!”
“You misunderstand,” Circe said. “I watched it like so many other sims, on the web.”
“It wasn’t us, Malcolm,” Loki replied.
“Then that only leaves one to our group that knew the plan.”
“I wondered how long it would take you.” Olive Specter said.
“Don’t tell me you flew directly from Downtown to me?” Olive grinned. “That would be flattering, but I suspect you stopped by the Beakers first. How are those wonderful people?”
“I have the thought to order them to take back your son!”
“That would be foolish,” Olive clicked her tongue. “But Loki wouldn’t agree to it now that his little sister is marrying my Nervous.”
“You betrayed me!”
“Betrayed you? Me? How?” Olive asked. “I’ve been here, not anywhere near that silly mansion of yours. How would I have gotten that tape?”
“Don’t lie to me!” Malcolm growled. “I’m a Landgraab! I could have you arrested within the hour. Maybe someone has finally connected to the dots to who is in your graveyard?”
“Sir,” John Mole warned lowly before Malcolm did or said something regrettable. It was John’s job to protect the tycoon, but sometimes that meant protecting him from himself.
“Even your bodyguard knows better.” Olive shook her head. “You’re falling apart at the seams, Malcolm. I fear soon your time of power will be over. There’s always someone ambitious climbing the career ladder. Maybe the next to reach the top will throw you overboard?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Malcolm scoffed. “What would everyone do without me?”
“Only time will tell.” Death’s mistress laughed darkly and left the men to their thoughts.
“I apologize for the interruption. Where were we?”
“You were so naughty, Olive.” Kimberly Cordial said. “How did you know Titania Summerdream would betray the Tricous?”
“When you have children, maybe you’ll understand.” Olive replied.
“I’ve been keeping up with our friend,” her sister, Samantha, said. “Her progress is going well. She’s completed a number of careers already. Soon she’ll be done.”
“Hush now, little one,” Pascal Curious cooed to his infant. “Daddy’s got you.”
“I know, that mean ol’ Uncle Lazlo and that skank woke you.”
“But it’ll be OK.”
“Because Daddy’s going to handle it.”
“What does that mean?” Crystal asked. “I thought we agreed we would look at some apartments in Downtown?”
“It’s just a long commute back and forth.” Lazlo answered. “I work here. I don’t see a reason to leave.”
“If you don’t see the reason, then that’s a problem.” she gritted. “I can’t stay where I’m looked down upon and constantly reminded by your brothers why I’m not good enough for you.”
“Babe, it’s not like that.” he sighed. “What have my brothers said?”
“Nothing,” she scowled. “It’s the way they look at me.”
“The way they look at you.” he made it into a question.
“Look, I know I screwed up royally and I’m trying to make up for it.” Crystal said. “It was a mistake what happened with Ajay. I’m not like that. You know that. He just…he manipulated me.”
“I know,” Lazlo took her hands. “I’ll talk to Pascal. If I get him on our side then Vidcund will follow suit. Just do me a favor and don’t let it get to your head. We’ll be happy here. You’ll see.”
“Oh! Hiiii, Pascal!” Crystal tried to sound happy. “I’m going down to 88. Do you or little Blaise need anything?”
“Good morning,” he frowned. “No, we have everything we need, but thank you.”
Pascal could be cordial to Crystal when the time came. She was nice and goodhearted, but he wondered how much of it was an act. She couldn’t be this sweet one minute and obliterating his brother and sister’s hearts in one big swoop. Not that she was alone in that betrayal, but as always, Pascal knew there was always an explanation for everything. The only question was, who was the real Crystal Vu?
“So, we need to talk.”
“I was about to say that.”
“Your speech can wait until Vidcund gets back,” Pascal said. “But what can’t wait is Blaise. There’s a baby next door to your room now. Learn to be quiet during his naps. His schedule, as always, is posted in the office. Now get to work. The greenhouse needs your attention.”
“OK, security check of Jenny and P.T.’s house…nothing going on.” Lazlo said. “Let’s check on Lola…huh, what’s he doing there?”
“It was just a nightmare.” Erin said. “It’s OK.”
“You know you can talk to me.” she continued. “What was the nightmare about?”
“A wedding.” he gritted.
When he didn’t reply, she slid off the bed and went to him. “It’s going to be OK. You’re just getting cold feet.”
“It’s not…that’s not…” he tried to form words, but they just wouldn’t come out. He finally gave up as her lips touched his skin. She was always so distracting.
But he loved her so it was OK, he decided. She’d brought so much light to his dark life. How could he ever be the man she deserved?
“I gotta get groceries or we’ll starve. Will you be all right without me for an hour?”
“Stay away from me!” Crystal exclaimed. “What if someone sees us together?! I’m already trying to save my engagement.”
“What about me?” Ajay asked.
“What about you?” she gritted.
“Lola’s a smart girl. She’s moved on.” she continued. “Why can’t you?”
“Erin? Hiiii! I haven’t seen you since…well, forever. How are you?”
“What do you want, Crystal?” Erin asked.
“Can we…” she motioned to the door. “Talk?”
The cashier looked at her with a judgmental expression. Like she hadn’t seen and heard everything already.
“What do you want?” Erin asked impatiently. “I’ve got to get back to Nervous.”
“How is the big guy?” Crystal asked.
“Nervous as always.” she sighed. “Look, let me be honest, I don’t want to be associated with you anymore. Not after what you did to Lazlo and Lola.”
“That’s what everyone seems to be doing.” Crystal sighed. “The Curious-Smith bunch run this town. You’re lucky not to be marrying in and even luckier to have Olive Specter as a mother-in-law! She’s so awesome!”
“I can’t believe Lazlo took me back,” Crystal went on. “I don’t know why, but every now and then I get this sense that he feels guilty. It’s the only conclusion that makes sense. I’m sorry about this, but I know you two were really close so I have to ask. Did you sleep with him?”
“What?!” Erin wasn’t a violent person, but she suddenly considered it. “You know what’s awesome about my soon-to-be mother-in-law, she’s got a private graveyard and doesn’t ask a lot of questions.”
“Where’s your father?”
“Come to gloat?” Malcolm scoffed. “You’ve always wanted to see me fall, like the rest of SimNation. Those ungrateful brats.”
“If that were true, I would have coned you out of a million simoleons years ago for my big break.” Fanny Adore replied.
“Now hand over that cigarette,” she snapped her fingers at him. “The children should at least have one parent until they get their lives together.”
“Don’t worry about Mimi and Dudley, they are well taken care of.” Malcolm said.
“I was never worried about them.” she answered. “That’s why I left them with you.”
“But they are not the reason I am here,” she continued. “You are. What a mess you have gotten into, my love.”
“It seems my blackmail to control Donna Cove has backfired.” he nodded. “She’s ruined and lost all credibility in the movie star career. But I’m rich so I can survive it. Honestly, I feel sorry for her. I would reach out, but I think that would reflect badly for me.”
“Let me worry about Donna Cove.” Fanny said. “I recruited her so she’s my responsibility. Just keep your head up, my love. You still have plenty of weapons at your disposal. Katrina Caliente is in position after all. And what about the Beakers and Olive? We should reach out to Oberon and Titania too. I hear the Tricous and Summerdreams are no longer friends. It could be an angle to exploit.”
“Thank you,” Malcolm smiled. “You always know how to win me over, Fanny.”
“Now that the Bella Goth movie is done, what about my movie?” she laughed. “I’ll con you, or have someone do it in my place, if you cross me.”
“Whatever you want…”
Additional: In each chapter, I will try to feature a career that Pat Newbie is working on to keep with the Bustin’ Out theme. In this chapter her featured career was Mad Scientist. You can find information about Bustin’ Out and the main story’s careers HERE.