Silly Sims Screenshot Contest

I decided that I should use the Contests category of my blog for something, even though Sims 4 doesn’t offer the same gifting opportunities that we used to have with Sims 3–that is ultimately a good thing!  I don’t think a store with premium prices on things we can’t even recolour would go over well in the current Sims environment.  However, there is still a perfectly good use for this category of my blog because I’m one of the admins of the SimsWriters.com community, and I can tell you about contests that are happening at the site!

Currently, there is a “Silly Sims Screenshot Contest” that just opened for submissions!  To enter, you must have an active member account in good standing at SimsWriters.com, because all entries need to be posted to your Member Blog on the site, and then you submit the link to your blog post in the contest thread to officially enter the contest.  This contest is looking for funny caption-worthy screenshots that are not edited or modified in any way (see the official rules for this contest in the Forums at SimsWriters.com) and the winner will get bonus § points for promoting their story, and will have their image and the link to their blog or website published in the Public Area of the SimsWriters.com website; but any submissions may be used in upcoming “Caption This Image” contests (with full credit and linking to the member who captured it).

If you’ve got a great caption-worthy Sims 4 screenshot, you absolutely should enter it because you could be featured in an upcoming contest even if you don’t win this one 😉  It would be excellent exposure for your blog or website, and if your image is used for a caption contest, I think it would be really fun to see what all the writers in the community think up for your image too!

This contest will be open for submissions until Friday, March 27, followed by a week-long voting phase, and the results will be announced at SimsWriters.com on March 7th, 2015.

You can check out the results of previous contests by visiting SimsWriters.com and clicking on the “Contests” link in the Main Menu along the top of the page, or in the Public Area Navigation links on the right sidebar of the Public Area of the site.  (From the Member’s Area, first click on Public Area in the Main Menu.)

Good luck!!

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Prologue: The Ballad of Johnny Coldtrain

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Alone in the darkened bedroom, Katerina practiced playing her violin.  That’s what she always did when she had something swelling in her heart; something she couldn’t comprehend, let alone begin to cope with.

She practiced “The Ballad of Johnny Coldtrain” because she needed to perform it flawlessly for a crowd of strangers.  The truth is, Katerina knew that piece better than she knew anything at all… even herself.  As she played her famous melody, she remembered playing it for her grandmother… and her grandmother said, “I want to hear about this young man who moved you to make such lovely music.”

The violin screeched and she dropped the bow.  Tears splashed on the concrete floor when she bent down to pick it up, and she knew she couldn’t fight those feelings anymore.  She gave up her valiant struggle and sobbed on her knees in the dark.  When she had purged all her pain, she rose up and cleaned her face with a tissue.

“Honey, are you all right?” Johnny asked as he entered their room.  Katerina turned toward the window so he wouldn’t see her face.  He put his arm around her shoulder and pleaded with her, “Tell me what’s wrong, Kat.”

She shook her head and put on a smile for him.  “It’s stupid, I’m sorry,” she apologized and turned to face him.  She took his hands and said, “We don’t have to go through with the wedding.”

“What?”  He couldn’t believe what she was saying.  “You think the wedding is stupid? Please help me understand, Katerina!”

She started to cry.  “Yes, it’s stupid!  The wedding is stupid because we’re already married, and I just can’t remember it!”  He tried to hold her to comfort her, but she pulled away from him and cried out, “All I can remember is the lies you always used to tell me, and I was always such a fool!  I remember you weren’t there for me when I lost my grandmother, so how can I trust you now that I’ve lost my memories?”

She sat down on the bed as if she was defeated by speaking those words. Johnny swallowed hard and took a seat beside the love of his life.  “I don’t blame you for feeling this way,” he said before cautiously reaching for her hand.  “You don’t have to marry me again…  If you can’t find it in your heart to forgive me a second time, I would completely understand.”

His words only made her cry harder, and she explained, “That’s just it, Johnny!  You always know exactly what to say.  I don’t have to remember forgiving you the first time to know why I did.”  He gently rubbed her back until her emotions settled down again.

Finally he asked, “Why did you forgive me, Katerina?”

“Because I would rather live my life every day with you lying to my face than be without you,” she confessed.  “I can’t trust myself, because I am so in love with you that it’s all I do remember.”

“I remember how much your parents hated me,” he offered.

She interrupted him, “Really? I only remember my grandmother, and she encouraged me to be with you… before she died.”

“That’s because she heard what your love for me sounds like when you played for her, but what you just told me explains why your parents hated me,” Johnny continued where she’d interrupted him.  “I would hate for you to marry someone who makes a fool of you every day. The thought of that makes me want to cry, Kat.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize!  I’m the one who owes you a million apologies–as many as you need for every day that you grant me.  I was only trying to protect you from the truth, back then,” he explained, even though she’d heard that part before.  “I wasn’t able to, and it was wrong for me to try.  I’m not a perfect man, and I can’t tell you to trust your heart after what you just revealed.”

“Johnny, don’t leave me!” she interrupted him again.

He shook his head slowly.  “Katerina, I am at your mercy!  The wedding was for you because you don’t remember our first one, where I promised in sickness and in health, and I vowed to never lie to you again.  I know you might never remember that I keep my promises, but I will do whatever you want me to.  Just tell me…”

Katerina saw that Johnny was actually crying, and she told him, “I wish I could remember the life we shared together, but it sounds like it’s worth repeating!”

(to be continued…)
*this was first published by SimsWriters.com as a Super-Short!

 

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The Chain Letter: Chapter 2

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“There you are!” Dacnis called out from across the Glade, just as her beloved reached into a hollow log.

“You surprised me,” Dhaval confessed when she caught up with him. He blushed and checked his hands for dirt while she caught her breath.

“I beg your forgiveness, m’lord,” Dacnis said as she bowed her head in respect to the King of the Fey. “I have news to share with you!”

When Dacnis pulled out her tablet, Dhaval became tense immediately. “I told you no cellphones or signals, Dacnis!” he scolded her.

“There is no signal on this one,” Dacnis promised. “It’s just that I received a message from Moonlight Falls, and I thought you would want to hear it.”

“You’ve received word from my homeland?” He looked so surprised.

Dacnis nodded and asked, “Shall I read the message to you, m’lord?”

“Yes, but please don’t address me that way, or shall I call you m’lady? You and I are equals,” he declared.

Dacnis couldn’t help but smile as she read the message to him.

“Hello. My name is Chester Swain and I live in Moonlight Falls with my daughter, Bailey Swain. A war is brewing between the Van Goulds–vampires–and the Wolffs–werewolves–and my daughter is caught in the middle of it all. I have discovered how to prevent this war from starting and I need your help! First, please write a classical music piece and entitle it ‘Bailey’s Lullaby.’ Next, locate a person with topaz colored eyes and tell him/her an Unbelievable Story about werewolves and vampires. Finally, order (or make) Love Potion #4 and drink it so that you draw the love out of my daughter’s relationship with the vampire Tristan Van Gould! In order to solidify your work, you must forward a letter to your closest friend. Please, you have only 4 days to complete this request and stop the war! If you complete this, you shall find your life full of peace. If you don’t, someone you love will be taken away from you, never to return.”

Dhaval listened carefully and didn’t say a thing until she put the tablet away and questioned, “Well, what do you think?”

“It’s partly true,” he answered her. He took a deep breath and explained, “The truth is that the war already began, and that’s why I’m living here, in exile… I always believed they would send an emissary, but I guess this is the best they could come up with.”

“I’m confused,” Dacnis told him. He invited her to lie with him in the meadow and watch the clouds.

“They’re trying to get in touch with a living descendant of the Fey—the one with topaz colored eyes, and of course I already found you,” Dhaval flirted with her as she rested in the flowers. He finally rested his head on the grass next to her, and continued to explain the strange message she’d received. “I’m the one who must tell you an unbelievable story about werewolves and vampires, and your task will seal Bailey’s love for Tristan Van Gould.”

“So I wont do it then,” Dacnis vowed.

“Oh, but you must!” he pleaded with her. “You see, the werewolves are the greatest allies of the Fey. Without their protection, vampires hunt us mercilessly. Unfortunately, when the war broke out between the vampires and the wolves, our protectors were weakened…”

Dacnis stood up and said, “I understand now, Dhaval. If I can seal Bailey’s love for Tristan, the vampires will be distracted and the wolves will regain their strength.”

“Yes! The magical races will be in sacred harmony again, and we can return to our rightful world; where you and I will be married.”

A warm breeze moved through the Glade, and Dacnis breathed in the hearty fragrance of the trees with the lighter scent of the flowers in the meadow, swept up by the warm air. “If your kingdom is anything like this place, I will be so happy there… forever and ever!” she assured him.

Dhaval laughed. “Of course we’ll live happily ever after, my darling, that’s how all fairy tales go!” She joined him in laughter, then blew him a kiss.

He reached up and caught her kiss in mid air, to just hold onto it for a moment. “That’s cheating,” she teased him playfully.

“Not at all, I’ll need this to carry me through until I see you again. Good luck with your quest!”

Dacnis was especially nervous about writing a love song for Bailey and Tristan, even though Dhaval assured her that all Fey have special abilities with music and magic. She decided she would need some liquid courage before she could write a song!

The drinks at the Blue Velvet Lounge went down so smooth, and Dacnis was feeling great after three or four of them. She noticed that a lot of people would order drinks, then get distracted by someone and completely abandon their drinks, so she scooped them up and drank them. Eventually, a friendly woman suggested they drink together. “Drinking alone could give someone the wrong impression about you,” the red haired woman accidentally slurred her words.

“That’s all right,” Dacnis said, “people always have the wrong impression of me.”

“Is that so? Wha’do they get wrong?” her new friend wondered.

“I’m a fairy princess,” Dacnis answered.

The redhead laughed so hard she snorted and slapped her knee several times, while struggling to catch her breath and saying, “A fair… fairy! Huhaaha, oh my God, haha!”

“Don’t die over it,” Dacnis told her, feeling offended and embarrassed. She downed the rest of her drink and asked, “Hey, can I have your email address?”

“Sure… I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” her friend continued to laugh after she apologized. “That’s just so funny. Oh, I can’t wait to invite you to a party.”

“Mmm, thanks.” Dacnis didn’t think the redhead meant that in a nice way, but she didn’t care because she just needed someone to send an email to when she was done all her tasks.

When she ordered another round of drinks for herself, the bartender asked her, “Dacnis… should I have someone come and pick you up?”

“No, Debra! I’m fine.” She rolled her eyes at the nosey bartender. “I just needed some inspiration to write a special song.”

Finally she felt able to create the song, “Bailey’s Lullaby.” Dhaval was right about her natural talent, because everyone in the lounge was dancing or swaying to the music once she got into the melody. Dacnis was just glad to have that part done and over with, and she stumbled out of the bar around three in the morning. She was lucky to be able to walk across town in the condition she was in!

She was still hung over the next afternoon, when she had an appointment with her doctor. “Dacnis, you know you’re not supposed to be drinking,” the doctor reminded her with a disapproving voice.

“I know that, Doctor Voss, and I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I honestly didn’t even mean to drink, it’s just the only place that I know of where I could use a piano.”

“And why the sudden need to use a piano?” the doctor wanted to know.

Dacnis was very happy to explain the whole quest. She started with receiving the strange chain letter in her email, and then she shared what Dhaval told her about the werewolves and their alliance with the Fey. “Now I’m almost finished, Doctor Voss! I only need to find out how to make or purchase Love Potion #4.”

“Love Potion #4, you say?” Doctor Voss sounded genuinely curious.

“Yes… I know you have a pen pal in Moonlight Falls too. Perhaps you could get them to send a potion?” Dacnis suggested. “Or even just the recipe.”

“It’s true that I have a friend there,” Doctor Voss said slowly. “I would normally discourage this type of thing, Dacnis… but, maybe it’s true. I actually know how to make the potion myself.”

“You do?” Dacnis asked with enthusiasm. The doctor smiled and offered to bring the potion to her later in the afternoon.

When the doctor came to her room a short while later, Dacnis was surprised, but grateful. “I’m taking a big risk with this,” Doctor Voss said.

“I promise I wont tell anyone. I really appreciate all your help.”

“That’s my job, Dacnis… All right, now drink your love potion.”

She took a sip and the potion took effect almost immediately. She pounded back the rest of the potion and felt the room start to spin. She was confused and disoriented, but managed to get into bed before she lost consciousness.

Dacnis went into a deep and dreamless sleep for hours. When she finally woke up, it took a few minutes for her to pull her thoughts together again, and realize that she was ready to send the email message and meet with Dhaval in the Glade. She got dressed, and quietly slipped into the doctor’s office to use the computer.

She logged into her personal email account and quickly selected a random message from her inbox to forward to her drinking companion, and included the note, “I thought you might be interested in this information. Sorry I wont be able to attend your party.”

Just before hitting the send button, Dacnis paused to think it all through. “I’m sure this message wont make any sense to her, but whatever. I don’t think that’s necessary…” Having convinced herself that it didn’t matter, she sent the message and logged off the computer.

As she emerged from the office, she was startled by a man’s voice saying, “Hey you!” Thankfully she saw that it was just another patient, who was known to enjoy talking to the wall. She breathed a sigh of relief and hurried passed him.

She rushed down the stairs and managed to slip out the back door of the clinic without being seen or interfered with in any way. Then she ran as fast as she could toward the sacred tree behind the shipping yard. The sun was setting and Dacnis did not expect the tree to give her any troubles, but it was closed up tight when she reached it. Finally she was able to convince the tree to open up and let her meet with the exiled King of the Fey.

When she entered the Glade, Dhaval wasn’t waiting for her in the meadow as she’d expected. “He promised to meet me right here,” she said to herself, which only reinforced the growing sense of panic in her heart. She called out for Dhaval and began searching for him along the borders of the forest.

“Where are you?” Dacnis called out when she reached the darkest corner of the Glade, but the forest beyond was silent in response. “Did I do something wrong?” she asked herself as she turned back toward the Glade.

She refused to give up her search for her true love, and soon found herself in an unfamiliar area after following a sparkle that she misidentified as seeds in a ray of sunshine. As she approached them, they turned out to be tiny sprites.

They appeared to be playing or dancing with the butterflies over some flowers, but Dacnis hoped they would be able to communicate with her and tell her where the King had gone. “Have you seen the King?” she asked, and the brilliant white sprite laughed and flew away from her.

Under a nearby tree, a pink sprite beckoned her. “You’re the Queen!” the sprite greeted her when she approached it.

“Where is the King, do you know?” Dacnis asked.

The sprite told her, “The King left and has not returned.”

“Do you fear for his safety?” she asked nervously.

The tiny sprite was confused because it didn’t understand the concept of fear. The sprite replied, “There is no fear, only love.” As Dacnis thought about the sprite’s words, she looked back across the Glade. The center was full of sunshine and beauty, while thick fog and shadows lurked beyond the borders of the forest. She decided to trust love and forsake fear when she returned to wait for her beloved in the sunny meadow.

~ The End.

Contributing Author: ARoseInBloom
ARoseInBloom’s Blog: http://aroseinbloomsims.com/

The Chain Letter is a collaborative project hosted by SimsWriters.com

 

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Uncertainty Principle: Chapter 26

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Darren took Daria’s hands in his, and gazed into her steel-blue eyes.  He was about to begin his wedding vows when he noticed a little commotion going on to the left.  He began improvising a romantic speech for his bride, while his friends assisted Indra.

Ricky prevented her from going inside the kitchen, and Persephone dragged her back up to the gazebo.  “Now sit down, and stop being rude!” Persephone whispered.

“But this whole thing is rude!” Indra whined quietly.  Persephone just clenched her fists and shook her head at Indra.

Darren was finally able to begin his vows to Daria.  He told her, “I believe you and I were brought together by fate, Daria.  I honestly thought my life was perfect before I met you,” he said with a chuckle, “but everything changed when you came into my life.”

“I vow to stand with you to face any challenge that comes our way, and to protect you in every way I’m able.  I vow to love you, honour you and respect you; never withholding any part of my self or my life from you, for the rest of eternity!”

Daria sang her vows to Darren, very soft and shy at first.  “When I was all alone, you took the time to say hello.  I know it meant nothing, but I could never let you go.”  As she built up to the chorus, her voice grew stronger.  “Something about you, there’s something about you.  Heaven forgive me–I love you, I do!”

She sang her heart out for Darren and their wedding guests; singing the ballad she used to sing in the shower when she was pining for him.  It was a beautiful song, and her emotions came through in the most meaningful performance Daria would ever give.

Indra sobbed openly, but tried not to ruin the touching moment.  Her feelings were so conflicted, because she could see that Darren and Daria were in love but she wanted to hate Daria–to take all of her admiration and affection for Skylar and twist it inside out, into a hurting and hateful curse upon Daria!

She didn’t even mind when Ricky reached over and gently squeezed her right shoulder, as if to say, “It’s all right.”

The bride and groom exchanged rings and Persephone cheered first, then demanded, “Kiss already!”

The newlyweds enjoyed their first kiss as husband and wife, while their friends clapped and cheered for them.  Even Indra applauded before they all tossed confetti and streamers at the bride and groom.

“Thank you for the song,” Darren said to his new wife as their guests celebrated.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to sing it,” she revealed.

“I imagine that’s going on your new album though,” he replied playfully, before leaning in and kissing her on the cheek.

Daria laughed and answered, “Of course, but I haven’t let anyone else hear it before today, so I can still fix it if there’s anything you thought sounded off.”

“Don’t change it,” he suggested.  Finally, he turned to his guests and said, “Let’s get the party started everyone!”  Persephone and Ricky both hooped and hollered like they used to back in college, and Indra managed to stop crying at least.

As they walked, Darren explained a few things to Daria.  “In the District, we have two types of family law, and you just married into a Dynasty.  The Randall Dynasty is a patriarchy, so only a male heir can inherit the estate.”

Daria listened carefully and Darren continued to explain, “The thing is that you’re also eligible to start your own Dynasty, if you want to.  Joshua looked into the legalities of it, and you could start a matriarchal Dynasty, if you decide to keep your family name.”

“So if I have a daughter, she could inherit my estate?” Daria questioned.  Darren nodded, and she said, “I think that’s the best thing to do–that way, I don’t have to sell the house.”

Darren added, “And our daughter would live next door when she grows up!”  At last, their friends had reached the back porch, and Darren cut the wedding cake he’d baked for them.

Daria shot a canister of confetti to celebrate too–it was her first time ever using one, and she was shocked when it went off and almost got glitter and ribbons on the cake!

Darren made an inappropriate joke, but thankfully, only Daria heard it.  Behind them, the other happy guests fired their confetti cannons.

Daria walked around to the opposite end of the table and took a seat, saying to her husband, “I’m feeling a little tired.”

“Are you all right?”  he wondered, knowing she was in a delicate condition of course.

She nodded, “I just need to catch my breath.  I’ll be inside in a moment.”

Darren took his slice of cake and said, “All right.  Don’t be long!”  Then he led his friends inside to eat cake and enjoy more drinks from the open bar.

Darren grabbed a drink for himself and sat down.  Ricky didn’t take anything to eat or drink, and he teased Indra about selecting toast instead of wedding cake.  “Are you still fussing about every single thing you eat?  Worried that your gym-rat boyfriend wouldn’t want you if you got a little squishy around the edges?”

“Ricky, just when I think you might be turning a corner, it’s just right back to the same…” she stopped herself from cussing.

Just then, Daria came in and overheard an opportunity to try to befriend Indra.  As she sat at the table, she said, “Don’t mind him, I’m skipping out on the cake too.”

Persephone was curious about what Ricky said and questioned, “You’re still seeing Don?”

Indra ignored the question because she was shocked by Daria’s statement about skipping cake.  “Oh puh-leez,” she groaned.

“Are you seriously going to keep up this charade that you’re not pregnant?” Indra smirked.  “No one believes that–your boobs aren’t normally any bigger than mine!  So cut it out.  It’s disgusting.”

Daria tossed her hands up and was going to say something, but instead, she got up and walked away from the table.  Darren was very upset with Indra.  “I can’t believe you’d treat Daria that way.  You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Persephone convinced Daria to come back to the table, just as Ricky said, “Yeah, Indra, you should be ashamed of yourself.”

“Excuse me!” she snapped at him.

“What about you, Ricky?  You should be ashamed of yourself for not telling anyone when Skylar was with you.”

“I tried!  I went to your house, and you were just kissing Don and acting like the world revolves around you all the time,” Ricky defended himself.

Persephone interrupted and asked again, “You’re still seeing Don?”

“What?  Were you trying to make me run him off?” Indra wanted to know.

Darren took that moment to say, “Well, I’m very sorry to interrupt this interesting cat fight here, but I’ve got to go see Joshua and give an official statement.  It shouldn’t take too long, and the children will be home soon.”

(continue reading…)

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Uncertainty Principle: Chapter 25

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Darren was excited and nervous about his wedding, but he couldn’t wait to share the big event with his closest friends!  The first guests to arrive were his best man, Joshua Lords, and their good friend, Ricky Jordan.  Strangely, when Darren came out onto the porch, he overheard Joshua and Ricky arguing, then both of them fell silent when he came through the door.

“What’s going on here?” Darren asked Joshua, as Ricky pushed by and went straight inside the Randall estate.  Darren added with amazement, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you swear before, Joshua!  Care to repeat that?”

Joshua grumbled and explained, “Ricky just decided now would be a good time to reveal that he saw Skylar the day after she left your family!”

“What?”  Darren gasped.  By then, Ricky was already inside the house and couldn’t answer Darren’s question.

Joshua told him, “In all of Skylar’s activity, including public video cameras and service access of any kind, there was never a hint of activity after that afternoon.  How she could’ve reached Oasis Springs without using the Tube or being seen is a complete mystery.”  He sighed again, but with less anger in his face.  “Sadly, I can’t stay for your wedding now,” Joshua stated.

“I completely understand, and I really appreciate everything you’re doing to find her!” Darren replied.  “I wish I had a little more time to arrange this, but you know why…”

Joshua nodded and added, “It’s about time, too!”  Darren asked quickly about Clara and the baby, and Joshua announced, “We had a boy!  I thought it would be twins, but it just turns out he’s a little warrior or something.  We named him Tristan, after an ancestor of mine.”

“Well, now you have an official heir, so I’m thrilled for you!  Send Clara mine and Daria’s love.  When things settle down more, let’s get everyone together,” Darren suggested.  Joshua agreed and left the wedding party to search Ricky’s house with a team of crime scene investigators.

Darren went inside, and Daria greeted the next batch of guests who arrived: Persephone Marchand and Indra Moreau.  Daria was a little surprised by the way the other women were dressed, and she joked when she greeted them, “Darren did tell you it’s a wedding right, not a funeral?”

Indra scowled at her and Persephone said, “We don’t actually know that, do we?”

Daria maintained her poise and refused to let a few harsh looks ruin the happiest day of her life.  She sat down on one of the antique sofas in the front room and invited the ladies to sit with her.  “I know we haven’t had a chance to meet, but I appreciate you being here for Darren.”

As she walked by, Indra declared, “I’m here for Skylar, actually.”

“Thank you so much,” Daria said to Indra, with the most deliberately cordial smile.

Persephone interjected with her trademark flare, “I’m actually here for the open bar.”

Meanwhile, Ricky had already hit up the open bar, and was working on a stiff drink in the kitchen.  “How was I supposed to know she was missing?” Ricky asked himself out loud, although he wasn’t alone.  “She showed up acting crazy and I already heard about her messing around, so I thought you just had enough of her Drama Queen antics.”

Darren sighed, “I don’t want to talk about this right now, Ricky.  I’m trying to make my second marriage start the best way possible.  I cannot be wondering what might’ve happened if you’d contacted me or Joshua that day…”  He took a deep breath and added, “And I can’t be wondering where she is right now, or if she’s alive.  I have to bake a wedding cake here!”

“Why don’t you let the caterer do that?” Ricky wanted to know.

“Because the only caterer I trust is a guest, obviously,” Darren rolled his eyes at Ricky when he said it.

“Will you hate me,” Ricky wondered, “if she’s gone?  If something happened to her and I could’ve stopped it?  Do you already hate me–I never see you or Joshua anymore.”

In the front room of the house, the ladies were getting along much better already.  Persephone made the other women laugh with her jokes about being a drunken socialite, and she also complimented Daria on her music.  “You’ve heard my music?” Daria couldn’t hide her surprise.

Persephone nodded and explained, “I get in these moods sometimes and your album is my favourite to listen to on days like that.  You should sing that song, ‘Derelict Hearts’ after the wedding.  So romantic…”

“You think so?”  Daria felt so flattered, and felt hopeful that she would be able to make some friends at last, despite Indra’s demeanor.

Darren stood alone outside for a moment.  The gazebo in the backyard was done up beautifully for the wedding ceremony, and the view was especially picturesque.  He looked around and memorized every detail of the scene while trying to make sense of his own emotions.  He pretended he was inviting an invisible crowd, “Come and witness my spectacle!”  Finally he worked up the courage to begin the ceremony for real.

Indra and Persephone hurried to pass through the kitchen to the backyard, and Ricky was actually flirting with the caterer.  “You never change,” Indra pointed out as she walked by him.

Daria led the procession to the wedding arch, as is the custom in the District.  She wished she had close friends to be her true bridesmaids, but she was grateful to have new friends that cared about her husband and her step-children, at the very least.

As she climbed the steps to the gazebo, Darren turned around and they saw each other for the first time that day.  In an instant, Darren’s aching heart was filled with love and excitement once again, and he smiled at his bride.   “You look amazing!” he complimented her.  As she got closer, he looked back toward the river and said, “I hope you like the setting.”

“It’s so beautiful,” Daria replied, as the other women exited the house and began making their way to the gazebo as well.

There was a little chaos about seat selection, as there often is at weddings that don’t have specific seat assignments planned in advance.  Darren and Daria had only a few hours to plan their ceremony, so they didn’t mind the brief delay.  Darren took the opportunity to whisper to Daria, “Joshua had to leave; there could be a break in the investigation.”

“That’s great news,” Daria whispered back as the other women shuffled around and disagreed about seats.

“I’m sitting right here,” Persephone whispered.

“Fine.  I’ll sit on Darren’s side then,” Indra practically hissed.  As she turned her back, she could feel the sting of Persephone’s evil eye.

Indra ignored it–she didn’t care if Persephone got upset with her.  Weddings always make Indra cry, but only because they make her feel alone.  This time, Indra also felt like crying because her best friend’s life-as-she-knew-it was over, and she worried she’d never see Skylar again.

As she walked over to the groom’s side of the isle, Darren grabbed Daria to make-out with her like a love-sick little boy.  Indra struggled harder to keep her emotions in check.

“It’s a wedding; they love each other,” she reminded herself silently.  She took a seat and breathed in and out slowly a couple of times, until she felt a little stronger.

Darren said to his bride, “I’m sure you dreamed of something a lot nicer than this for your wedding.”

“No, it’s perfect!” Daria told him.  “Everything is so beautiful.  And then there’s you!”

Darren took Daria’s hand, saying, “And then there’s you,” before he kissed her hand gently.

The bride and groom were lost in each other, and their love was obvious to everyone in attendance, but Indra’s heart could not bear it.  In that moment, she thought of a thousand things she wanted to scream at them.  Then a little voice in the back of her head told her, “You’re as much to blame as anyone else–where were you when she needed you?”

Just as the bride and groom got into position to begin exchanging their vows, Indra bolted from the gazebo with hot tears streaming down her face.

(continue reading…)

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