A/N: Hello again! =D I spent the whole day getting pictures so, here’s another post, lol. That being said, this chapter was posted only a day after the previous one, so make sure you didn’t miss that one ^_^ Otherwise, read on!
Are you free tonight?
I looked down at the text guiltily, realizing that for the past couple weeks, I had been saying no. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to hang out with Marina though, of course. I was still crazy about her, but my new job as a CEO was the most demanding yet. I worked long, exhausting hours, often having to stay late to get things done, and then I’d come home so drained that all I wanted to do was pass out. Marina had been very understanding, but her texts came more frequently now, asking once pretty much every night. She still understood if I said no, but I could tell our brief separation was making her anxious, and to be honest, it made me anxious too. I missed her…a lot. So tonight I decided that I would leave work early, double-up on the coffee, cancel my Saturday meeting, and spend the entire weekend with her. I owed that much to Marina for being so patient throughout all of this.
Finally, yes. Managed to get out of a meeting. Where would you like to go?
YAY! 😀 Thank you- I’ve been needing to talk to you. My place, 8?
Sure. Everything okay?
She didn’t respond to that text, but I didn’t think too much of it because I was used to her randomly disappearing in the middle of texting conversations. She probably went off to get ready and clean up the house or something. No matter what the reason, I was looking forward to seeing her…to smelling her lilac-scented hair…to feeling the softness of her skin…it had been far too long.
I prepared a large mug of coffee as I called my secretary, asking to have all my calls diverted for the weekend unless they were an absolute emergency. She agreed and said she’d take down messages and leave them for me on my desk to see Monday morning. Ehhh. I was already dreading how large that stack would be, but oh well. Buttercup was right—I needed to make sure I didn’t turn into a corporate robot, so this weekend was for me.
After getting that all worked out, I went out onto the balcony to enjoy my coffee, closing my eyes for a moment as I just enjoyed the quiet. The Azure Heliotropes were playing a gig in Waylon’s tonight, so for once I actually had the place to myself—no guitar strumming, no keyboards, no nothing. Just peace and quiet….
Maybe I would go up to my room and rest for a little…I still had a couple hours….
I was woken up by a text, groaning as I shifted in bed and grabbed my phone. I looked blearily down at the screen. CRAP. I immediately hopped out of bed, flipped on the lights (when had the sun set?!), and then glanced back at the time…8:40. Oh no!!! Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!
GAH! I’m so sorry!!! I just laid down to take a short nap and apparently completely passed out. I’ll be over in about 20 minutes. I’m really sorry!
Okay. I just got worried….
I immediately dashed up the stairs, took the quickest shower I’d ever taken in my life, threw on my clothes, and rushed out the door in less than 15 minutes. With traffic being a little bit of a bitch, I finally got to Marina’s at 9:15. Damn it, I was an asshole.
But when Marina answered the door, instead of yelling at me she immediately wrapped her arms around me in a tight hug, as if nothing at all had happened. “I missed you,” she whispered, still holding me close.
“I missed you too,” I said, wrapping my arms around her. God it felt so good to hold her again. “I’m really sorry about that. I don’t even know what happened. One minute I was sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and the next I was out like a light.”
“It’s okay,” Marina said with a small smile as she finally pulled away from me. “I was just worried that you had been in an accident,” she admitted, taking my hand and leading me into her home. A small place, but cozy nonetheless, although I knew Marina wasn’t a huge fan of it. It was just what she could afford.
“No, I’m just stupid,” I said with a laugh. We stopped in the middle of the room and then Marina looked up at me, and I noticed that she looked really stressed, much more stressed than I’d ever seen her, at least. “Hey…I’m fine,” I said comfortingly, giving her hand a squeeze.
“I know, it’s not that,” she whispered, looking away from me. “Remember I said that I needed to talk to you?”
“Yeah….” I said, my heart suddenly filling with dread. Why wouldn’t she look me in the eye? Why did she look so upset? Was everything okay? She wasn’t breaking up with me…was she? “Marina I-” I began in a panic, immediately trying to fix whatever it was I might have done, but she held up her hand and I fell silent, giving her a questioning look. Don’t jump to conclusions, Reed, relax. Everything will be fine. Everything will be-
“Reed, I-I-…I’m pregnant!” she forced out in a rush, looking at me nervously.
“You’re…what?” I asked stupidly, my blood suddenly feeling as if it were running cold. Of course, I knew what Marina had said. I knew all too well what she had said, in fact. The words had given me an unforgettable kick to the gut, leaving me reeling.
“Reed…I’m sorry,” she said in a tight voice, wringing her hands. “I was so careful. We were so careful. I don’t know what happened.”
“So it is…” I trailed off, vaguely gesturing to myself.
“Of course it’s yours!” Marina cried, angry tears suddenly appearing in her eyes. “How could you think it wasn’t!? I haven’t even looked at anyone else since we started dating! Y-y-you mean so much to me,” she finished shakily, looking at me with pleading eyes. I met her gaze for a long moment and I could feel my stomach twist and my heart start pounding harder. She was telling the truth. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered.
“Don’t-,” I began, but found it difficult to talk. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Don’t be sorry. I’m pretty sure you didn’t just magically become p-…ahh, er, uh, pregnant,” I said, forcing out the last word and then attempting a small smile. “I clearly had a part in this too,” I said quietly, my heart twisting with guilt. When had we forgotten? I too thought we’d been so careful, so when had we slipped up? The hot tub…maybe, I couldn’t quite remember…shit. Or maybe…but I thought we…then again…My heart sank lower and lower in my chest.
I looked up at Marina, whose eyes were overly shiny, and I was just giving her another questioning look when, much to my alarm she suddenly burst into heart-wrenching sobs. “Marina! What-?” I began, but I stopped as she began to speak.
“I’m just so scared,” she cried, glancing at me for a moment and then looking away in despair. “I don’t want you to leave me! I care for you so, so much and everything was going so well and now everything is messing up and you’re doing so well in your job and I know how important it is to you and you’re going to leave me because a baby would ruin your chances of advancing and then I’ll never ever see you again,” she blurted out all at once, finally covering her face as she lost herself to her distress.
“Marina,” I said, the lump in my throat getting even tighter as I went up to her and pulled her into my arms. “I have absolutely no desire to do that, I swear. I could never leave you,” I murmured truthfully. She continued to cry on my shoulder, her body shaking and her hands clutching me tightly. I was never good in these situations. “I’m not going to leave you,” I repeated firmly, rubbing her back. “Y-you mean the world to me, Marina,” I admitted nervously, almost on the verge of saying something else, but stopping and back-tracking at the last second. “And now this baby does too. I-I probably would have waited a little longer, yeah, but…but I think this could be a good thing anyway,” I finished in a quiet voice. After all, a baby with Marina…I had to admit that the thought was almost…exciting—even if it was unexpected.
“Really?” Marina asked hopefully, pulling away slightly to look at my face.
“Yes,” I said adamantly, gently wiping away her tears and kissing her on the forehead. “We’ll get through this. Together. I never want to leave you.” Marina took in a shaky breath, nodding slightly as I wrapped her in my arms again. This still all felt so surreal though. I had barely been able to process Buttercup getting married and now this? It was jarring, to say the least. “So…how, er-, how far along are you?” I asked awkwardly, unaccustomed to this type of talk.
Marina stepped back for a moment and wiped her eyes. “Um, the doctor says about eight weeks,” she said with a sniffle.
“Oh jeez, wow,” I said, blinking for a moment at the answer and looking away. It just felt so strange that for eight weeks now, I was going to be a father and hadn’t even realized it. It seriously seemed like such a long time not to know. That was…crazy.
“I know,” Marina admitted. “I mean, I had my suspicions, but I kept telling myself I was just overly stressed because of having so much trouble advancing in my job. Then I started to get sick for no apparent reason so…so I finally made the doctor’s appointment. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. I was so afraid…I didn’t know how to.”
“It’s fine, I mean…I’m glad you did eventually tell me, and hey, I had been really busy lately,” I said with a small, nervous laugh. I looked at Marina for a moment then, standing before me with red, puffy eyes from crying, her long hair mussed up…and carrying my child…our child, and before I could even think anything else or back-track once again, I took her hands in mine, met her eyes and finally said, “I love you, Marina.” It was the first time I had said the words, but they left my tongue easily. There was no doubt in my mind that this was how I felt about her. I opened my mouth to say something else, about us being together forever, about how I loved the baby already, about purpose and destiny and the most perfect gifts in life, but she started to cry all over again and hugged me tighter than she ever had before in her life.
“I love you too, Reed,” she whispered through her tears, “so, so much.”
And nothing more needed to be said. Everything that I had wanted to say had been conveyed within those four simple words—I love you, too.
It wasn’t long after that that I asked Marina to move in with me. She hesitated at first, but after assuring her that I had been meaning to ask her this anyway (this was the truth) and that it wasn’t just because of the baby, she agreed.
She was surprisingly shy being introduced to Buttercup, but relaxed with time and the two girls actually got along pretty well. Buttercup, and by extension, her husband, were the only ones who knew right now that Marina was pregnant. They were very supportive though, and my sister was even excited. She gushed with Marina about it, and after awhile Marina seemed to have caught the “excitement bug” too because she seemed a lot more happy about it. …this excitement, in turn, spread to me as well, and soon I couldn’t wait until this little baby was born. It was the perfect symbol of the love Marina and I felt for each other.
It was good that we loved each other so much too, because I was once again thrown completely into my work, as was Marina, who was determined to get a promotion before she was forced onto maternity leave. Of course, she didn’t tell anyone about her pregnancy—even though it was illegal to discriminate against her for it, she was worried that it would hurt her chances at a promotion anyway if things got out.
Eventually though, Marina began to show and had to take to wear looser clothing to try and cover it up. Someone must have caught on though, because soon the tabloids were exploding about it. This annoyed me, but I didn’t think too much about it…until I actually read what they were saying and both Marina and I were frequently cornered by paparazzi and reporters asking for the ‘scoop.’
“Miss Santos, is it true that you’re sleeping with Mr. Winters to advance in the company? How does getting pregnant affect your plans now?”
“Mr. Winters, is it true that you tried to pay Miss Santos to get an abortion to cover this up?”
“Miss Santos, when Mr. Winters found out about your pregnancy, is it true that he hit you?”
It was awful, awful bullshit that was hard to ignore—especially because the accusations were so serious. I sued the shit out of several tabloids and had them print retraction statements, but just like before, the damage had already been done…only this damage was much, much worse.
Marina, though upset, had refused to let this get to her, until one day when she came home sobbing, much to my alarm.
“Babe! What’s wrong?” I asked, having rushed to the door in my worry.
“I can’t take it anymore!” she cried.
“Take what? What happened?” Marina pulled away from me and shoved a magazine at my chest, which was already opened and folded over on an article. I looked at Marina questioningly and then down at the article…and the more I read the more ROYALLY pissed off I got. It was this whole bullshit article about how the only way women in the workplace could apparently get promotions in Bridgeport was to sleep their way up, and of course they used Marina as an example, who had actually finally gotten a promotion. Evidently, this article was saying that it was because she was “fraternizing with the higher ups” and not because she had been working her tail off to get it, like she actually had been. “Miss Santos is clearly living in sin,” said Mrs. Dryson, mother of three kids and wife of Mr. Dryson, the local hero who captured the Bathroom Bandit (see page B3). “She needs to be saved.” UGH, I just couldn’t read anymore. This was SO ridiculous. How the hell did this crap even get printed?!
“I’m going to sue,” I said through gritted teeth. “I’m going to sue the living daylights out of them. But first, I’m going to punch them in their fucking faces, RIGHT NOW,” I spat, throwing down the magazine and racing out the front door.
“No!! Reed!” Marina yelped, waddling after me. “Don’t! That’ll only make things worse!” she yelled.
“HOW COULD IT GET ANY WORSE?!”I demanded, then turning to kick the wall so hard that I was almost positive that I had broken something. “FUCK!” I cried out, stumbling backward.
“REED! You idiot!” Marina snapped, although she glanced down at my foot with a worried expression.
“Damn it,” I hissed. “FINE. JUST FINE. I’ll just sue their fucking pants off then. LITERALLY. They will have to fucking SELL their pants, to pay off the debts they’ll incur. GOD! Makes me so fu-” but I was interrupted by the sound of my phone ringing. Great. Now what?
“Hello, Reed Winters speaking,” I answered cheerfully, although my patience was running thin.
“Hello, Mr. Winters, how are you this evening?”
“J-J-Just fine, thank you, Mr. Howland,” I lied politely, trying to keep my cool. Marina’s eyes went wide at the mention of the Head Chairman’s name. I gave her a “I haven’t got a clue” face and then walked out of the room to talk in private. “And how are you?”
“Oh just fine, just fine…but there is something troubling me.”
“Oh? Is it something that I can help with?”
“Mr. Winters, may I speak frankly?”
“Of course….” I said, my stomach twisting. This did not sound like a good phone call.
“As I’m sure you’re aware, there have been some serious allegations against you,” Mr. Howland said, concern in his tone.
“They’re all lies. I know. My friends at City Hall say you’ve been making good use of their services,” he said, slight amusement in his tone. He was, of course, referring to me suing every major tabloid in the city…and winning for that matter.
“Yes, sir,” I said, “but I assure you that these allegations have not and will not in any way affect my work.”
“Oh, I know. Trust me, I know. You are by far one of the best employees I have ever had, Mr. Winters, which is why this decision has been incredibly difficult for me.” My mouth went dry. I couldn’t even speak. I felt like my world was falling apart. No, no, no, this could not be happening.
“But sir, none of that stuff is true except that yes, Miss Santos and I are expecting a child, and I realize that this does not look good, but may I remind you that Miss Santos does not lie under my power. I have no say in her promotions nor her-”
“Once more, I do know this, and that is not the problem. In fact, I’d like to congratulate you and Miss Santos. I have three children of my own and they are the most wonderful part of my life…aside from this job and my wife,” he said with a slight chuckle. “The problem is, our company has received a lot of bad publicity lately, and that, put quite frankly, is not good for business. Do you understand that?”
“Yes,” I said quietly, resisting the urge to bang my head against the wall.
“And it is for this reason that I must let you go.” I inhaled sharply, the world was blurring around me, my legs felt weak. “However, I think that losing you completely would actually be quite a blow to our enterprise, and so that’s why I’ve worked it out so that you will be transferred.” I froze.
“Transferred?” I asked weakly.
“Yes. To Neverglade. According to my records, this is where you’re from, is that correct?”
I nodded, but upon remembering I was on the phone said, “Yes.”
“Good, then I believe the transfer will be less of a shock on you. I realize that this is a lot to ask of you, but I just cannot let you stay. No matter whether the rumors are true or not, these are serious allegations that have been burned into the collective mind of the public. You are expected to be in Neverglade in one week. Good luck, Mr. Winters. May your new location treat you well.”
“Thank you,” I said, still slightly in a daze. After a few more technical comments and formal pleasantries, I hung up the phone and dropped to the floor, hugging my knees to myself and resting my forehead on my arms. I could feel the onset of a massive headache. I couldn’t believe I was being forced to start over. Sure, I’d retain my title as CEO, but I didn’t know anyone in Neverglade. I’d spent my whole life in Bridgeport establishing my worth, making connections, climbing to the top…and now I’d have to fight to gain respect all over again. The thought made me sick, but then again…I’d also be able to start a clean slate in Neverglade. No more tabloids, no more slandering, no more gullible, gossipy, shitty inhabitants….nothing like here at least. …but still….but still….
“Reed?” Marina asked cautiously, walking carefully into the room. “Is everything okay?” I quickly stood up, adjusting my glasses and smoothing my clothes.
“So, how do you feel about Bridgeport anyway?” I asked casually. Marina gave me a weird look, but responded anyway.
“Well, it’s my home. My everything. I’ve never known anywhere else…I love it here.”
“Fantastic. How would you feel about leaving?”
I sighed heavily, running a hand through my hair again. “They’re transferring me. To Neverglade. They say all this shit is bad publicity for them.”
….and so began the argument of a century, in which there was much yelling and tears and misery on both of our sides. Marina didn’t want to leave the only home she had ever known, and felt that it was unfair of me to ask her to leave everything behind, including her job. I told her that we could arrange to have her transferred as well, but she continued to be upset, until finally, eventually, after many apologies and utterances of “I didn’t want this either!”, Marina agreed to move.
It would be a better place to raise our baby—safer and quieter, and we would even have the help and support of my parents, whose knowledge about raising children was sure to be invaluable. There would also be no more nasty rumors and crowds and taking three hours to get to work because you had to take four different modes of transportation to get there. Together, we talked ourselves into loving the idea of starting anew, but we both knew how we really felt inside.
We were going to miss Bridgeport—there was no other way around it.
So the day we moved wasn’t without tears, especially on the part of my sister, who hated being “left behind,” she said. There were two people who were absolutely thrilled about this though, and that was my parents. It was a very, very long phone conversation to explain everything, but in the end they were endlessly supportive and ridiculously excited about having a grandchild. I tried to share in their enthusiasm, but the day we left Bridgeport was definitely a bittersweet one.
Even I was almost tearing up as I hugged my sister and Tony goodbye. They also said goodbye to Marina and the baby, who they promised to come see as soon as he or she was born. And so, with the taxi all loaded up, Marina and I got into the car to then say goodbye to the city that we loved, despite its imperfections.
“Do you think your parents will like me?” Marina whispered in the taxi, holding my hand tightly.
“I have no doubt they will. You’re perfect.”
She blushed slightly. “And what about the fact that I’m pregnant and we’re not even married?” she asked, purposefully avoiding my gaze. I took in a breath, giving her hand a firm squeeze. I would have to fix that soon…I just didn’t know when to do it.
“They already know, and though they weren’t exactly thrilled about it at first, they’re fine with it. To be honest, I think they were too excited about being grandparents to care,” I admitted with a smile.
“Good,” Marina said, smiling as well. “I like that our baby will have grandparents,” she said, her own parents having passed away long ago.
“Me too,” I admitted.
“You know…I think I’m excited about this,” she said in a small voice. I looked over at Marina, who was smiling at me hopefully, and I thought it over for a long moment before I too returned the smile.
“I think I am too. I really do.”
Perhaps, against all odds, this move was actually a blessing in disguise.
I had admittedly missed seeing the trees….
A/N: Reed and Marina may have mixed feelings about leaving Bridgeport, but I am so HAPPY. It was fine at first and fun, but after awhile the lagging just ticks me off. I hate telling my sim to go say hi to another and it taking like two sim hours for them to do so. Anyway, I do hope you enjoyed this chapter, because I very much enjoyed writing it! ^_^ Thanks for reading!