Monday, December 5, 2011
Chapter 1.8: The Obvious Truth
"You want me to do what?!" Elijah asks as he leans in closer to Kanoa. Surely he just misunderstood him. Kanoa can't really have just said that.
"Sabotage Scarlett and Spirit. It's simple," Kanoa explains quietly. "Just pour this liquid over Spirit's hay the day before the race, and he'll be too sick to compete."
Elijah picks up the bottle and carefully examines the substance inside. "Kanoa," he says slowly. "You know I'd do anything for you. You have been so good to me all these years. You gave me a job, trusted me as your partner, and even saved me from jail. But," he adds, his voice growing hard. "I won't hurt Spirit. Poisoning that horse would be like poisoning my wife, and I just won't do it."
Kanoa looks like he's been slapped. "You'd choose the love of your wife over the advantages of our friendship?" he asks, disgusted.
"Yes," Elijah answers without hesitation.
"Fine," Kanoa snaps. "But you will regret it. How long do you think that lovely wife of yours is going to stick around once she learns that you've been involved in my gang all these years? Not only will she leave, I can guarantee you she will take the children with her. Then what will you have left?" he spits, his eyes narrowed in angry vengeance. "Absolutely nothing. No job. No family. No friends. No nothing."
Elijah sits there in furious silence for a minute. Finally, he picks up the bottle and puts it in his pocket. "I'll do it," he whispers, his voice trembling with anger.
Kanoa smirks. "I thought so," he replies, rising from his seat. "Oh, and don't worry about apologizing. I don't need to hear you grovel," he tells him sarcastically.
"I'm not sorry," Elijah murmurs as the older man walks away.
Across town, Anastasia visits her good friend Derrick Schmidt. He aged into a teenager yesterday, and Ana's really excited to see him. He's a year younger than her, and he just seems so shy and awkward. It only makes Ana want to date him even more.
They chit chat for a while, but Anastasia quickly tires of the small talk. She wants her first kiss, and she wants it now.
She makes the first move, leaning in and gently pressing her lips to his.
Derrick looks surprised, his face turning a bright shade of fuchsia.
"What was that for?" he asks as Ana pulls away.
"Cause you're cute," she responds, giggling.
"Oh," he blushes.
She grabs his hand. "So, do you, uh, wanna go steady or whatever?"
He looks down at the floor and timidly nods his head.
Ana grins. "I think that means you have to kiss me now," she tells him.
He willingly obliges.
Downstairs, Faye makes friends with Derrick's older brother Rupert. Rupert's girlfriend Kristina broke up with him a few days ago, and Faye is certain that Nathaniel had a hand in the matter, although she's not entirely sure how.
She's actually rather pleased about it though. Now that Rupert's single, Faye is free to go out with him. Louis, Faye's old flame, recently became an adult, and Faye isn't too keen on waiting for him. Flirting is far too much fun to be stuck with only one partner.
Rupert makes a joke, and Faye laughs. She leans in toward him and brushes her hand against his arm. "Oh Rupert," she sighs. "I never realized how funny you were."
"Probably cause you never bothered talking to me before," he answers shyly.
"Probably because you were always hanging around Kristina," Faye retorts.
Rupert pulls her toward him. "I will never even look at Kristina again if you promise to be my girlfriend," he whispers in her ear.
"That's silly," Faye giggles. "You two have math class together." She tries to pull away, but Rupert holds her firm.
"You know what I mean Faye," he presses.
Faye begins to feel suffocated. She doesn't like the way her heart is pounding, and she feels self-conscious standing so close to him. "No," she says, jerking out of his grasp. "I- I gotta go. My parents will be worried..." She turns and flees, leaving Rupert to wonder what he said, or did, wrong.
The next morning while the kids are at school, Scarlett finds Elijah sitting alone on the sofa, staring blankly at the black television screen.
"What's going on?" she asks, sitting down beside him.
He jumps as though startled. "Nothing," he replies gruffly. "I was just... thinking."
Scarlett watches him curiously, wondering if she should push it. Ever since he got home last night, he's been acting quite odd. She decides not to ask. He will tell her when he's ready, she thinks. "You know what tomorrow is, hun?" she says with a grin.
"Huh?" He blinks, trying to focus on Scarlett's words. "Oh, tomorrow? It's that, uh, that race of yours."
"It's not just any race," she tells him. "It's the Veronaville Stakes, the biggest competition of the year. I think Spirit and I actually have a good chance to win this time. We've been training for it all summer, and I finally mastered that trick..."
As Scarlett chatters on, Elijah loses himself in the loud racket of his thoughts. He can't stop thinking about the task that lays before him, looming so large and heavy in the forefront of his mind.
"I need to go," he says abruptly, interrupting her. He gets up and walks outside, slamming the front door on his way out. Scarlett watches him leave, a look of hurt confusion on her face.
He makes his way to Spirit's stable, and the horse pops his nose out to say hello.
Elijah gently strokes Spirit's muzzle, murmuring to him softly. "You're getting older too, my friend," he whispers, noticing the white around Spirit's face. Spirit neighs quietly in agreement and bumps Elijah's elbow, politely begging for a carrot. Elijah reaches into his pocket, checking to see if he has a treat for the horse, when his hand hits the cold, hard glass bottle.
Sensing Eli's hesitation, Spirit whinnies and pushes his nose into Elijah's hand. "You're right," Elijah says, gazing into Spirit's dark black eyes. "I've pulled off this charade long enough. It's time for Scarlett to know the truth."
"The truth about what?" Scarlett's voice rings out from behind him, loud and clear.
Elijah takes a deep breath, bracing himself for a fight. If he doesn't tell her now, he's afraid he never will. "Scarlett," he begins. "I'm not a security guard. I work in the local criminal syndicate, and I have ever since we moved to Appaloosa Plains. I'm partners with the gang's leader, Kanoa Parrott. My late work hours, those nights when I wouldn't come home, my 'friends' from around town, they are all related to my job."
Scarlett looks taken aback. The sudden confession leaves her speechless for a minute. "Is there anything else you want to tell me?" she asks, her voice deadly quiet.
"Yes," he answers, hanging his head. "Do you remember Johnny Johnson, your boss from so many years ago? I was the one who beat him up. I put him in the hospital. Kanoa got me out of jail. I- I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner."
"Why?" Scarlett sounds weak, her voice shaking in an attempt not to cry.
"I didn't want to lose you," Elijah whispers. "I- I love you so much. I was afraid you'd leave me."
"You've gotta understand," he begs. "We were so poor, and no one would hire me. When Kanoa offered me a position in his company, I leaped at the opportunity to start supporting us. I wanted to be able to give you everything you dreamed about. A horse, and a ranch, and a family. I was just so desperate. Please, try and understand..." Elijah turns away, not wanting to let her see him cry.
"I do understand."
"Scarlett, don't leave me! I- I- What?" Elijah looks up and meets Scarlett's steady gaze.
"Oh, Elijah! Do you really think I'm such an idiot?" she asks, smiling through her tears. "I've known about your career, and the fight, for years. Ever since Nadira moved to town. That woman couldn't keep a secret if her life depended on it."
"You... You knew? This whole time?"
"Yes," she says bluntly.
"And you aren't mad?"
"Your job, or career, or whatever you call it, doesn't make me happy," she replies honestly. "But what bothers me more is that you felt the need to lie about it."
Elijah wraps his arms around Scarlett, wiping a tear off her cheek. "How could I have gotten so lucky?" he muses. "You are the best wife a man could ask for."
"And don't you forget it," she laughs. "Just promise me one thing Elijah."
"Anything, my dear."
"Don't ever make me sell my horse again."
Elijah smiles. "Agreed."
The following afternoon, Elijah dresses up and heads to the equestrian center to cheer on Scarlett during her big race. Apparently, even Spirit knows there's a lot of money involved.
Team McKinley wins the race by a mile, beating out Kanoa and his horse Duke. Scarlett couldn't be happier.
The next day, Elijah and his buddy Nadira take care of Kanoa.
Nadira never forgets a grudge.
She dreams of running the gang herself, and she's not afraid to show Kanoa who's boss.
Even wearing high heels, she kicks Kanoa's ass, easily putting the old man in his place. Kanoa retires that same afternoon and hands the keys to his criminal empire over to Nadira.
A few weeks later, Nathaniel celebrates his adult birthday with a big party, and everyone in Appaloosa Plains (invited or not) shows up to join in the festivities. Nathaniel's on-again, off-again girlfriend Beth Blanco (just to the right of Nathan, above Anastasia) is really (REALLY!) excited.
After a quick wardrobe change (Nathaniel thought the neck scarf thing was just a bit too feminine), Elijah pulls his son aside to say goodbye. Nathan won't be going far (just across town), but Eli wants to know what his plans are after graduation. Nathaniel tells him that he intends to audition for the symphony.
"I want to be a famous pianist," he explains to his father. "I want to perform in front of Sim Nation's elite, for people who will actually sit down to listen to my music. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll even be able to write compositions for movie soundtracks!"
Elijah attempts to be enthusiastic about his son's career choice. He will always love and support him, no matter what job he has, but the soundtrack part baffles him.
Scarlett also wants to say goodbye. Now that her eldest child is all grown up, there's only one thing on her mind.
"When should I start knitting the stockings?" she asks, only kind of joking.
"What?" Nathaniel sounds confused.
"Stockings," she repeats. "For all those grandchildren I am expecting."
Nathan laughs nervously and quickly excuses himself.
...Only to be cornered by his grandfather. Ryder gives his grandson some solid, time-tested advice.
"Use a condom," he warns. "And don't share needles." With a wink, he walks away, muttering about the lack of alcoholic beverages at this party.
And with those lovely parting words, Nathaniel leaves, heading to his own home on the far side of town.
Two guests, however, stick around for a while. Faye's current fling Rupert showed up for the bash, as did a now very grown up Louis.
Louis doesn't look too happy about Faye's other romance, but she doesn't even seem to notice.
The following afternoon, Anastasia brings her boyfriend Derrick home for the first time. She sees a promising future for the two of them, and she really wants her mom to meet him.
Scarlett definitely approves.
Faye's new BFF Heath Singleton, Louis' little brother, comes over later that day.
"You know why I originally made friends with you?" he asks as they sit around talking.
"Yeah," Faye laughs. "So you could meet Ana. She's totally taken Heath."
"WRONG!" he grins. "Louis put me up to it. He said he'd pay me twenty Simoleons to figure out if you and Rupert are serious. He wants to know if he even stands a chance."
"Well, what did you tell him?"
"I haven't, cause you haven't told me." Faye doesn't say anything, so Heath presses further. "So?" he asks. "Are you two an 'item' now or what?"
Faye frowns. "No," she admits. "We're not."
"Seriously?!" Heath sounds surprised. "But Rupert's told everyone at school that you guys are steady!"
"He hasn't!" she gasps.
Heath nods. "He's such a tool. I didn't think you'd choose that loser over my brother."
Faye rolls her eyes. "You assume too much, Heath. I never said I wanted to date Louis either."
"Oh, I just figured. I mean, with all the gossip..."
"Gossip," Faye spits with word out like venom. "I can't stand it!"
"You sure hate being the center of attention," Heath observes.
"No," Faye corrects. "I hate people talking about me behind my back. It's different."
"Well, you better get used to it. Rock stars deal with a lot of publicity."
"I'm not going to be a rock star then. I don't care about fame or any of that other nonsense. I just want to play my guitar."
After Heath leaves that night, Faye immediately calls up Rupert and breaks it off. She never liked him that much anyway.
Generation 1 is officially completed! Faye, my heir, is about to age up so I can get her story underway next chapter. Here is a reminder of my generation 2 roll:
Marital Status: Single Parent with Help
Number of Children: 2
Primary Income: Busker
Secondary Income: Medical
Generation Goal: Hobby, or Obsession?
Miscellaneous Fun: It's So You
My only other remark is about Ryder. He's getting so old (currently he's 110... my age span is set to 100), but I really wanted to show him at least one more time before he dies. I'm going to miss him. </3
His advice to Nathaniel is exactly what my grandmother used to tell me. Every time I'd walk out the door to go somewhere (visit a friend, pick up her dry cleaning, etc.) she'd say, in a concerted effort to sound young and hip, "Remember dear, don't share needles!" She added the part about the condoms later, once she realized her original remark no longer shocked me. God, I love that woman.