I woke up Saturday morning to the sound of a spoon scraping against a bowl; Dub was cooking in the kitchen.
In the middle of the room, Charlotte played with the son I had only two days ago discovered I had. It was nice to wake up to food and laughter instead of a blaring horn outside my house for once.
I took a long, hot shower to wash off all the traces of dirt and grime that had collected over the course of the week. Being a firefighter was no clean job.
Dub and Charlotte had already eaten, presumably a fair distance away from each other, by the time I got out. A plate of waffles had been left on the table for me, and I enjoyed a nice, large meal by myself.
When I got up to go wash my dishes, I nearly ran into Dub.
"Hey, Zane... Why don't you go hang around town today? I mean, you've been working all week and you kinda deserve a break..."
"Uhhh... I kinda have to be here for when the new counter gets here," I said awkwardly, motioning to the soiled counter next to us.
"No, no, I'll stay here for that - you go out and have fun. Bring Charlotte with you, too, because she needs to get out of the house."
"I'll watch Bennett," Dub said reassuringly.
It was completely out of the blue and slightly strange, but I wasn't going to turn down a fun day out on the town. "Um... Okay..."
I went over to talk to Charlotte, who became immediately suspicious.
"Dub? Watching Bennett? ...I don't know, Zane."
I shrugged. "I think we're going to have to learn to trust him eventually, Charlotte. This could be a good thing."
Charlotte sighed, avoiding my eyes...and then smiled. "All right."
I grinned. "Where to first?"
There was a little pond near the house that we had never been to. Charlotte figured that we could enjoy ourselves there knowing that our son was just up the road. We found some fishing rods laying around the wooden deck near the water and decided to try our hands at fishing, even though neither of us had ever attempted it before.
Charlotte was lucky enough to catch a tiny fish, whereas I left the pond empty-handed.
We stopped for some drinks at the bar on the deck, mixing together packets of artificial drink ingredients, water, and some alcohol that was shockingly found in the bar's supply. I wasn't sure what was more surprising - that a public park had tequila laying around, or that a bunch of wild teenagers hadn't ransacked it already. I know that's what I would have done.
We somehow ended up playing a partially intense and partially silly game of chess. Neither of us really knew how to play, but we had agreed hours ago that today was a day for trying new things.
Charlotte won the game (much to my dismay, as thus far I had been getting shown up by a girl at just about everything), and as a reward demanded that I play a song on guitar for her. There was a crappy acoustic guitar conveniently present on the deck, and I picked it up and started strumming chords to improvise a goofy song as I played. It got us both laughing in the end.
Charlotte had this look on her face that I hadn't seen in a long time - almost like the way she used to look at me back in high school, but not quite. It was strange... The line between friendship and romance was blurring. For her, at least; I was still quite sure that I wanted to be single and free to hook up with girls with no strings attached. Sure, I was a father now, but that didn't mean I was going to immediately elope with the girl and ruin all the fun of being young.
Charlotte stepped closer to me. "Zane... I just need to know... Do you forgive me for what I did? For...cheating on you?" Shame clouded her eyes.
I found myself forcing a smile. "Charlotte, don't beat yourself up too much over it. I've forgiven you."
Wait...what? What did I just say? Oh, crap. Oh, no. I was leading her on now, wasn't I? No, no, I couldn't do this, I didn't like her... Did I like her? Or was it just the alcohol getting to my head? I couldn't think straight. I didn't even realize I was drunk until now.
"Good." Suddenly, Charlotte's face twisted. "Oh God, I have to throw up."
Charlotte bolted for the bathrooms while I contemplated the idiotic words that had just come pouring out of my mouth. I wanted to forgive her, but I knew that I shouldn't. Not after cheating on me. Even if Bennett was my son, she still slept with my best friend. And I still did not want to settle down with someone.
I met her outside the bathrooms a few minutes later. "Hey Charlotte, I was wondering if you wanted to maybe head to the club?"
Yes, the club. The club could get my mind off of things. I could hook up with some random girl and forget about all my troubled thoughts. That was what I wanted, right? To forget?
"Um, actually I was hoping we could head back to your house. I have a horrible headache and I kinda just want to sleep right now..."
I blinked. "That's all right, I guess... Charlotte, when was the last time you drank?"
Charlotte blushed. "Two... Maybe three years ago. It's been awhile. I didn't get my hands on any alcohol when I had to spend every waking minute with Bennett."
I nodded; that made sense. She looked ready to pass out at any minute.
When we got home, we saw Dub talking on his cell inside. We slipped inside quietly; Dub didn't notice us enter.
Charlotte and I shot each other a suspicious look as we listened in.
"...waited almost twelve hours for you to show up here and help me get the kid! You dragged me along on all your stupid robberies back in Riverview, and I went along with it and didn't complain, and now when I ask you to do this one tiny favor for me, you don't even bother to show up! No, don't make excuses. When we talked yesterday, you said you'd do this for me. You said you'd come pick us up and drive us to your apartment in Bridgeport and let us hide there. You said you'd help me, you stupid little-"
"Dub?" Charlotte whispered.
Dub turned around with a shocked face, the phone still pressed to his ear. "Let me call you back."
"You have ten seconds to get out of my house."
"Zane, I can explain."
"Can you really?" I hissed, wondering how he'd get out of this one.
"Please, just hear me-"
"NO!" I roared. "I'm sick of hearing you out and buying your stupid lies and excuses for everything! Bennett is not your son, and you are not my friend! Now get out of my freaking house."
I watched over my shoulder as Dub stormed out of my house, his head in his hands, and I knew I wouldn't miss him one bit. I'd also be locking every window and door from now on.
I turned back to little Benny, who was sobbing on the floor.
I picked him up in my arms and hugged him close to me, my eyes tearing up at the feel of his little head on my shoulder. "It's all right, Daddy's got you. I'll never let anyone hurt you. I promise."
Told you Dub was up to no good.
This was just a short chapter. I literally crammed photography, writing, and editing into about an hour today, whereas I normally spread it out across two days. My creative juices weren't flowing as much as they usually are, which is why this chapter wasn't as good as the others were, but I promised myself I would get out a chapter of Fruit before school starts. My first day is tomorrow, and I've had freshmen orientations and schedule pick-ups and appointments and a haircut and everything else all just stacking up. But I promised myself, and here it is.
To be honest, my liking for Sims is kind of fading. I go through phases of loving it, and right now I'm not in one of those. Maybe it's because my game is lagging yet again and I have no clue how to fix it, maybe it's because I haven't had anything new in my game for awhile, maybe it's because my interests have shifted and I have instead become a total music junkie. (I've been listening to music a lot and I've got a mile-long list of favorite bands, I taught myself electric guitar over the past two weeks, and I've been playing Rock Band a lot. :P) I suppose that's sort of good, because it means I won't have to suffer from Sims deprivation when I go back to school. Hopefully Supernatural and Seasons spark a new phase of Sims love.
Anyways, here begins another short hiatus during which I shall get adjusted to my new school and the homework load, and then I will return to post again. I'll estimate anywhere from a week to a month for this hiatus, so please bear with me and be patient once again. Thank you all for being such wonderful, supportive readers - you're the reason I do this. :)
See you soon!