That same afternoon, while the Lords family was awaiting the birth of their second baby, Jared Patton received a call from one of his informants. He went to the central park in Willow Creek to meet the tipster; a local teen named Dade Starr. “What have you got for me today, Dade?” Jared wondered when they met up near the parking lot.
“You promise to keep me out of this?” Dade needed to know.
“As always,” Jared stressed. “You know I’d never give you up! If you’re hesitant, it must be big.”
“It could cause problems for me,” is all the adolescent would explain at first. Then he asked, “Are you interested in some hot, semi-revealing photos of Daria Sayansky?”
“How revealing are we talking?” Jared wasn’t able to keep his shock any more hidden than his desire to see for himself how revealing the photos might be!
“Oh man, she was jogging around today in a string bikini top and little shorts,” the young boy dished it out. “It’s not something that would ruin her career or anything, but it proves she’s not pregnant–which I don’t even think should be a rumour, but whatever, I don’t invent the gossip.”
Jared offered, “I’ll give you a hundred and fifty simoleons for the photos, but are you sure you don’t want credit? These are likely to go viral.”
“No way,” Dade shook his head. “For starters, records will show I was in class at the time, plus I don’t wanna be called a stalker, or have people think I’m creepy. Especially not the girl I like.” Jared nodded in agreement and was about to speak when the teen said, “Don’t say anything, she’s coming this way!”
As the young girl walked by, Jared whispered, “that one?”
Dade nodded, but remained silent. Jared could tell he was too shy to talk to the girl he likes, but Jared couldn’t see any good reason for him to be so timid. He decided to intervene and called out to the young girl, “Excuse me, could you help us out for a second?”
The girl turned around and her admirer pretended to use his smartphone to avoid being exposed. “What is it you need?” the girl asked with an obviously defiant attitude, despite her polite choice of words.
“I’m always in the market for information,” Jared explained once he had the girl’s attention. “So if you have any hot gossip, or you come across some very interesting data on a computer somewhere… you could call my friend Dade, here.”
“Hi Dade, I’ve seen you around school,” she said, in a nicer voice than she spoke to Jared with. She was slightly more friendly when she said to Jared, “Sure, I’ll keep that in mind. You pay for that sort of thing, right?”
“Of course. So, I’ll leave you two to exchange contact details now, because I’ve got to run and get this information to the press,” Jared told them. “Dade, check your bank account in about half an hour.”
Almost immediately after Jared emailed the photos to his partner, Varvara was contacted by Daria Sayansky’s agent. Varvara was ecstatic to be offered an exclusive interview with the singer, which was scheduled before dinnertime.
Daria arrived at Jared and Varvara’s mobile home in Oasis Springs less than an hour later. “Thank you so much for this interview,” Varvara said. She tried hard not to sound awkward when she added, “Some people tell me I look like you.”
Daria smiled and replied, “Perhaps I look like you.” They briefly spoke about where they came from and Daria told her, “I grew up in the fields, and I know that’s different than the camps, but I feel we share something in common. That’s why I agreed to give you this exclusive interview.”
Varvara thanked her and jumped right in with the tough questions. “Well, as you are probably aware, people are claiming that you’re pregnant. Is that true?”
Daria laughed and said, “I sometimes wonder how gossip like that even starts. It isn’t true though, I’m not pregnant.”
“How do you think this rumour got started?” Varvara questioned.
“Honestly, I think there’s been way too much emphasis put on women’s body shapes in the media, and I don’t just mean with the fashion industry, but the whole entertainment industry is really bad for that.”
Varvara secretly agreed with Daria’s answer, but she wasn’t going to let the interview be controlled. She smoothly asked, “You don’t think it has anything to do with your recent behaviours? I understand you abandoned the gorgeous waterfront house you own and have been living with Darren Randall.”
Daria nodded politely. “I don’t blame people for being interested in my relationships, but I certainly would’ve wanted a much more private personal life.”
“You can’t deny that’s impossible, because of the disappearance of Skylar Randall. I’m sure people are speculating because Skylar went missing the same day you moved in with Darren Randall.”
Daria nodded and replied, “I understand how that might look to some people, even my fans, but that situation is extremely complicated. I cannot comment on the investigation into Skylar’s disappearance.”
Varvara understood that and moved onto the next question. “Did your moving in with Darren Randall, and his subsequent divorce in abstentia have anything to do with Skylar’s disappearance?”
“What are you saying?” Daria demanded, throwing her hands up in the air defensively.
“I’m not a home wrecker and I didn’t take advantage of a difficult family conflict, if that’s what you’re asking. It just so happens that Skylar went missing on the very day that Darren was going to divorce her, and we are all co-operating with the investigation completely because we absolutely want Skylar to come home!” Daria ranted.
“You do?” Varvara was surprised to hear that. “I’m surprised to hear that.”
“You shouldn’t be,” Daria regained her composure. “It is true that I’m in love with Darren Randall, and we decided to live together, but I really love his and Skylar’s children. They are beyond precious to me, and I want them to have their mother in their life. I consider myself lucky to be in their life at all, but everyone wants Skylar to come home.”
Varvara could tell that Daria was close to crying, so she concluded the interview and thanked her profusely. “I didn’t mean to be so hard on you!” she apologized sweetly.
“No, that’s what’ll make you a legendary journalist one day,” Daria remarked. “Don’t go soft of your subject just because you’re afraid of the consequences. Getting to the truth is what’s important.” After Varvara thanked her for being so understanding, Daria asked, “You will publish those leaked photos to put an end to the pregnancy rumour, right?”
“Of course, that’s part of the story. You can’t blame people for having these suspicions–I don’t think anything so dreadful as Skylar’s disappearance has happened here since the war, to be honest,” Varvara explained. As her guest was leaving, she added, “Good luck with your second album, Daria!”
Daria thanked her and responded, “Good luck with your writing career. I read your blog everyday. I don’t think I’d know how to survive the District without it, actually!” Varvara knew that was the truth, and her admiration and respect for Daria was multiplied by their brief meeting.
Daria felt depressed after the interview, and she was upset when Darren got home.
Seeing the sad look on her face, he asked, “What’s the matter?”
“I can’t find anything to wear that doesn’t make me look fat!” Daria whined.
“You’re fat?” Darren questioned. He flirted, “Where? Show me.” She posed for him.
She was about to point out all the parts of her body that her agent criticized that afternoon. She was honestly upset about the things people said about her, but Darren surprised her. He silently looked her up and down and then, kneeled before her.
“I love the way you look,” he told her, “but I don’t love you for the way you look. Would you have me as your husband, despite my failures and flaws, and my inability to succeed in my first marriage?”
Daria gasped. She could not believe he was proposing to her right then–she wasn’t even dressed! Her shock wore off the instant she looked into his deep, loving eyes. She answered, “Yes, Darren!”
She put the ring on immediately and he joked, “Would you look at that… something that fits you!”
“Don’t tease me,” she said in a playful voice, but she meant it.
“You are my soulmate, and you inspire me to be the kind of man you deserve, Daria.”
They enjoyed a tender, romantic kiss. Then, when Darren suddenly lifted Daria to celebrate in the customary way, she was shocked and blurted out, “Be careful!”
“You’re safe, and you’re not fat, Daria!” Darren said as if he was getting annoyed with her concerns about her body.
“Not yet,” she explained. “I gave an interview today proclaiming that I’m so not pregnant, but I just found out I am.”
“Pregnant?” Darren questioned, but the nauseated look on her face answered the question.
Daria nodded. “Now people will think I’m a home wrecker, a liar, and probably even worse! My agent might drop me, the record label could cancel my contract, and everything!”
Darren knew she meant she feared she would be sent back to where she came from. He shook his head, “No, no way! That’s not something that will happen, so don’t even worry about that.”
He took her hand and said, “Now, this is what we’re going to do…”