Report #5, date -- -- ----
I've arrived in Veronaville without any problems, except for the brief syncope while the plane was lowering. No further changes in my health; I still feel drained, but I suppose it is normal.
The climate is much colder than in Strangetown, unsurprisingly. Humidity is average, air pollution is low; the weather is rather sunny for fall. Full environmental report included. I confirm that I received the money transfer. And I want to thank you forgetting my request for a computer through - I really needed it.
This place is much more expensive than Strangetown; not just rent, but living expenses, too. The entire town is a tourist area, so to buy groceries on lower prices, I'd have to drive all the way to the suburbs. I didn't consider that. I might have to put in a request for a car, though I will try to avoid that, if possible. I know PMT has better things to spend money on.
On the other hand, this place is stunning! If I did not know better, I would have thought I was in Simtaly. There is a lot of green, and there are many museums and parks to visit; I will not propably stay long enough for Pascal's child to be old enough to enjoy them, unfortunately, but I intend to do a lot of sight-seeing myself.
Pregnancy is going to my head, it seems - I never cared about interior decorating, but here I am, picking the best curtains for the baby room and haggling for a better price on a used couch. I believe it's called "nesting", and quite common among pregnant women; I'm becoming domesticated.
The apartment has more space than I actually need, so I can sacrifice one room for a workroom. The Curiouses and Smiths gathered nearly 3000 simoleans as a parting gift for me, which I invested in a decent workbench. My mechanical skills are a little rusty (pardon the pun), but I should still be able to work at home if I am unable to find employment.
My former boss allowed me to stay on her payroll untill my maternity leave ends. Yet another person from Strangetown I am indebted to.
So far, my neighbors seem friendly. I was apprehensive about approaching them; I can't expect every place to be as accepting as Strangetown.
But they seems to be glad - no, excited - to see me. Everyone went out of their way to introduce themselves and offer me help, should I need it. I assume it is the famous Verona hospitality. It makes me a bit uncomfortable, but joviality is the default in these parts, so I will have to get used to it.
I'll be staying at home until delivery. I don't want to risk passing out in public, and I don't feel like moving at all, to be honest.
I also keep craving sugar. Is this normal? I heard about pregnancy causing cravings, but sugar cannot be healthy for the baby, can it? Should I try to limit myself, or indulge?
Attrached are my latest medical records, including the prenatal examinations. As you can see, the baby is a picture of health. Do not tell me the sex, though; I want to be surprised.
Subject 3#, Stella Terrano, Veronaville
Report #6, date -- -- ----
I report that the first milestone has been achieved. Or, in plain words, I am now the mom of a healthy, gorgeous baby girl.
The contractions caught me completely off guard while I was preparing for bed. I'm surprised my neighbors haven't called the Police, I was screaming so loud. Thankfully, it didn't last long; after all was done, I was drenched in sweat and shaking, but one look at my baby and I forgot all about the pain.
I named her Valeria. Pascal suggested I name his child Glarn, but it must have slipped my mind. I don't think she other children need additional reasons to pick on her.
Between you and me, Status, I am certain she is the prettiest baby in the world. I know all parents say that about their children, but I think she is objectively the cutest. I think Project MT needs to come up with a prettiness scale so she can be immortalized as the number 1 in adorableness.
I wish Pascal was here.
Subject 3#, Stella Terrano, Veronaville
Report #7, date -- -- ----
I received an invitation to a garden party at the Summerdream residence. I never met them, but I heard a lot about them. They're an eccentric aristocrat family, known for lavish lifestyle and charity. I don't know why they would invite me: maybe they like to greet new arrivals in town? Or perhaps one of my neighbors suggested that they do it? Either way, I am glad I can fit into my formal dress again.
I hate to leave Valeria for a whole evening, but I need to start leaving the house again, and I definitely need to start looking for a new volunteer. The nanny I hired looks like she knows what she's doing. I should ask her for lessons.
The party already started by the time I arrived. The hosts, Titania and Oberon Summerdream, rushed to welcome me.
"So you're the fabled Stella Terrano! We have been hearing about you for weeks, dear, we just couldn't pass up the chance to meet you."
"Thank you for your invitation, ms Summerdream."
"It's not often we have a chance to have someone as exotic to liven up our little shindig, isn't that right, Oberon? We are surrounded by ordinary men and women, it's so nice to have someone like us over!"
"Someone like you?"
"You know..." ms Summerdream made a vague hand gesture and winked, which she must have assumed completed her sentence, because she turned around and started dragging me by the wrist towards the crowd before I could ask for clarification. I am confused by what she meant, but I doubt it was an insult. I decided to not dwell on it.
Titania left me alone after that. There were some familiar faces in the crowd, so I didn't feel completely lost.
Unfortunately, most men seem to already be taken.
I briefly talked to Consort Capp - yes, that Consort Capp. Head of Capp Industries and #4 on Rat Race's Entrepeneur Of The Year list. He showed up without a partner, and doesn't wear a ring, so for now I'm going to assume he's single. Despite his advanced age, I classify him as rank A - he's sharp and witty, and looks healthier and stronger than many men half his age. The chat, however brief, left me quite dazed. He seems to have an overwhelming personality with a commanding streak and overpowering confidence. I am not sure how I could be able to reach him. But a child of his could be destined for greatness.
Another man that caught my eye was Antonio Monty. I heard some things about him - he's a widower, though I don't know what happened to his partner. I'm not sure how to classify him; he looks tired and unhappy, but that's not surprising in someone who recently lost a loved one. He was the only person who didn't seem interested in talking to me, so I let him be. He is quite enigmatic. I will have to talk to him another time, preferably after a couple weeks, to fully assess him. Noted: he didn't interact with anyone during the entire party, including his family, and brushed off anyone who tried to engage him in conversation.
Sidenote: I met Cyd Roseland's parents at the dinner table. It is a small world after all. They immediately asked me if I know why he hasn't been calling them lately, and if he is dating someone, and if he's not getting into trouble. Now I'm definitely happy I didn't sleep with him, that would have been one awkward meal.
General observations about the community:
- seems to be made in 90% of two clans, the Capps and the Monties. Everyone else works for them... or is a Summerdream.
- the animosity between the families is almost proverbial. I expected a fight to break out several times. I hope association with one side won't cause hostility form the other. I never heard of the reason behind the discord: business rivalry, I assume?
- I seem to be qui
"You aren't that tired of our company already, are you?"
"Titania would have my head if I let her special guest sit through the first dance. Would you do me the honor?"
It was the man I didn't have the chance to approach. He seemed quite tipsy, approaching drunk. I didn't realize that I was acting rude by taking notes in company.
"What's your name?"
"Tybalt Capp. And you're Stella, right? Stella Terrano. What a fitting name. Did you pick it yourself?"
I did, but I did not like the assumption.
"Are you related to Consort Capp?"
"Guilty as charged. He's my grandfather. So, about that dance...?"
"Is he currently in a relationship?"
He let his free arm fall, and then sat down next to me.
"Dammit, lady, you dish it cold." He paused. "Okay, rejection accepted. And anyway, you would be surprised how often this happens."
"Women favoring your grandfather over you? That's uncommon."
"What can I say? Us Capps stay strong, stay virile. I have to warn you, if you want a fairytale romance with a rich man, you're out of luck. He changes women like gloves."
"And he doesn't try to keep in contact?"
"Mmm, not really? Can't remember any that wanted anything to do with him after all that..." He seemed to realize he was saying too much, and he fell silent. We were both quiet for a while, before he turned to me again.
"Where do you work?"
"Currently, nowhere. I'm still employed at Strangetown, but it's just until my maternity leave ends."
"What? No, no. Engineer."
"Holy shit. I thought you were a paparazzo, with all the questions." I could almost see the gears turning in his head, before he sobered up in a second. "What leave?"
"Me leave, I think." It was late; I was exhausted by all the socialization, Consort left some time ago, and I was worried about Valeria. But, if what Tybalt said was true, I learned something valuable. "It was a pleasure."
"Hey! Stella!" He shouted after me."But that was a joke, right? You don't really have a kid?"
"A daughter. Maybe if you're nice enough, I'll let you see her one day."
"Sure, grandma, I'll behave. Don't want to be grounded right after exams."
Well, if I didn't consider him class E before, I definitely do now.
My plan so far is to approach Antonio Monty and assess if he would be fine with an open proposition. If he is not willing to cooperate, I can try subterfuge: if Consort Capp really switches partners that often, I will propably be able to get pregnant and disappear off his radar before he learns anything, and he will never think of me again. Not an ideal situation... but I work with what I have.
Subject 3#, Stella Terrano, Veronaville
Report #8, date -- -- ----
I've fully recovered after delivery. I am still tired, since Valeria will not sleep longer than four hours at a time, but I feel better than ever, and my body is ready for another pregnancy.
The other day, after running errands, I decided to take a longer route home; I don't know how much longer I' will stay in Veronaville, and I want to enjoy the neighborhood while I still can. King's Gardens is my favorite. I hope I manage to take Valeria here before we leave.
I mention it because I met someone important there - an android named Percival, who works for Consort Capp. I heard a word here and there about him (Goneril Capp, one of my neighbors, boasted quite a lot about how prestigious a purchase it was), so I approached him at the first occasion.
He turned out to be quite sweet and polite, if gossipy. He was happy to share some information about his employer; Consort's currently "between girlfriends", and has actually mentioned that he plans to invite me to his next formal dinner. Apparently I caught his eye. Lucky me.
Percival seems quite excited at the prospect of me and his employer dating. It seeme none of the previous mistresses were ever nice to him, poor darling. He didn't say anything about the reasons behind Consort's break-ups, but he did admit they are numerous, and not grieved.
Good thing I seem to have a chance with Consort, because I'm afraid Antonio's assessment is Class E.
I went to his restaurant yesterday. He was already closing when I arrived, but he invited me to play cards with him.
I did not really know how to start the topic, so we made small-talk for a while. He smiled all the time, but in a way that didn't convey anything positive. He looked even more tired in better light. At one point, he asked me about Valeria's father, completely up-front. I liked it.
"He's a good man. We're in contact. We do not have to be in a relationship to be part of each other's life."
"What is he like?"
"Smart. Caring. Understanding... has really, really blue eyes. His nose wrinkles in a funny way when he laughs. His whole face scrunches up, and he needs to prop his glasses up when he's done."
"My wife used to laugh like that, too."
"Mind if I ask what happened to her? If it's not too painful."
"She was murdered. My brother and his wife, too." He said it with the same dead smile. "Didn't you know?"
"I'm sorry to hear that. Was it a robbery?"
We were silent for a moment. This side of Veronaville is quiet after dark; I could hear cicadas just outside the window.
"How do you like it here?" He asked.
"Everyone's very friendly."
"I get invited to social events, and all my neighbors are so interested in me. It almost feels like they are competing for my attention."
"They are. Terrano is in this season, and there's only one to go around. Haute couture. The other day my father called me and told me - he actually told me, "Antonio, I'm disappointed you haven't invited miss Terrano for dinner yet." He was so angry. Because it's so important that we have you, not them."
"Nobody will have me."
"Sure they will. You will go to their parties, and they will dress you in gifts, and you will be so grateful to be the first green chick at the ball."
He stopped smiling. "An actual one-up. What a victory"
"They killed her, Stella. Killed my wife over status. She is dead, and he is dead, but what does it matter? We killed theirs, too, so we're even. Three ours are dead, but only two orphans; they have two dead, but three kids without parents. Even. Doesn't count. And you're the game now, and if there's only one of you, how will they even the score?"
"Are you saying I'm in danger, Antonio?"
"What?" He looked at me, for the first time since we sat down, I realized. He looked honestly surprised to see me. I repeated what I said.
"I am not getting dragged into this dick measuring faire, is what I'm saying!" he gathered his chips and stood up. "If you want love, you won't find it in Veronaville. I, my kids and I are leaving soon, and you should too. They will chew you up and spit you out if you let them. I hate this restaurant, you know? We used to work here together, Hero and I." He changed the subject out of the blue, turning back to me.
I've decided there was no point making the offer anymore. He is clearly unwell, and I can only hope he is getting help. But he did scare me a little; I pressed on.
"What happened to your wife, Antonio?" I asked slowly.
He froze for a good minute with an unreadable expression. I never felt threatened during this entire exchange, but right then I became fully conscious of being alone in a building with someone that I sure was out of his mind.
"Cancer" he finally said, sounding exasparated. "Couldn't eat anything for weeks. Listen, can we finish the game some other time? I have to go home and make dinner for my kids."
"I'd love to."
"They're really good kids. They are all I have now... I have to go. "
I'm afraid the trauma of losing his wife was too much for the poor man to bear. He shouldn't be working yet.
By the time I returned home, the conversation seemed like a surreal dream. I scolded myself for getting spooked by cryptic mumbling. I did a little digging online, just to be sure, and both the Veronaville Daily archives and the epitaph of Hero Monty say she died after a long and harsh struggle with stomach cancer. Cordelia and Caliban Capp apparently died in a tragic fire only a day or two after her, and Claudio and Olivia Monty died in a car crash a day before her. The coincidence does strike me as odd, though not impossible. It does explain why Antonio thinks it's a conspiracy. I assume Antonio's association of Veronaville with his love's death twisted it into his personal hell, but I'm not a psychologist, and it is not my place to pry into his personal matters. The important things is, he is paranoid, and thus he is unsuitable.
As for his accusation, well, I am aware of being the town's chief conversation piece for now. I am actually using it as leverage to get closer to Consort. I have been prepared for hostility and distrust, and I will gladly deal with curiosity instead.
Subject 3#, Stella Terrano, Veronaville
Report 9, date -- -- ----
I received not one, but two invitations in the mail today: one to a party at the Monty residence, one to a formal dinner in the Capp mansion, both on the same day and at the same hour. I hardly think it is a coincidence. It seems I am being made to choose a side in the town squabble.
Almost immediately, I got a call from both Percival and Isabella's butler to confirm that I got the letters. I think my neighbors saw me receiving mail and sent the word to thieir families, hoping to be the first ones to receive confirmation. I know it sounds like a stretch, but I have come to expect things like that from Veronaville.
I'm afraid I'm going to lose the favor of the Monty family, but I hope to move out soon enough that there won't be enough time for it to get to me.
The invitation seems to be hand-written by Consort himself, with a rather personalized message. Adjectives regarding my appearance, apparently pleasing, may have been used.
I admit, I blushed.
Valeria's first birthday passed without a hitch. She's still gorgeous, and now her resemblance to Pascal is overt. She is a handful, but a healthy, sharp one, and I don't leave her side if i can help it.
Subject 3#, Stella Terrano, Veronaville
Report #10, date -- -- ----
Dinner at the Veronaville residence went exaclty as expected - productively.
Consort made me sit right next to him, and spent nearly the entire evening asking me about Balzabian customs and culture. He seemed genuinely interested, and expressed his sympathy when I told him about our fertility problems. I didn't feel confident enough to make an outright offer, especially not in other people's presence, but if he ever finds out about his child, maybe he will understand why I did it.
He is a brilliant conversationist. He told me about his youth, back when he and his partner started their first business. It's hard to believe he rose to his current empire from what was basically poverty, all on his own wit, luck, and hard work. He talked about his late wife, too: he spoke very fondly of her.
He really aged well - he's over thrice my age, but he's still broad-shouldered and strong, and undeniably magnetic. I must admit, after a while I really started wishing the rest of the guests would finally leave, to be alone with him.
Tybalt didn't talk much, but kept staring at me across the table. I was worried he might try to work against me, but he doesn't seem to be holding a grudge over being rejected, or at least not enough to interject. I do not think he's going to cause me any grief.
The toast after dinner made me a little buzzed - it has been my first alcoholic drink for over a year, and I never had a strong head.
Consort got more overt with his flirting. The other guests started leaving, one by one, though I hardly noticed it. I'm not sure the last one was out the door when I proposed we go to the bedroom.
(Actually, I think I heard someone retch, so I suppose not.)
I cannot say if I succeeded in getting pregnant, but even if not, I am sure I will get several more chances.
Report #12, date -- -- ----
Today I passed out and hit my head on the toilet while bending over to vomit. I am pregnant.
Subject 3#, Stella Terrano, Veronaville
Report #13, date -- -- ----
I am afraid I will have to leave Veronaville a couple weeks sooner than scheduled. The quicker, the better.
My conscience has been nagging at me. I felt that I have no right to leave without telling Consort of his child. I respected him too much to leave him behind with a lie.
I invited him over for dinner at my house; I thought it was a conversation best suited for a private place. I wanted to tell him I was going to have his child; I wanted to tell him that I don't expect anything of him, but if he wants, he's welcome to visit us any time. I wanted to tell him I was sorry, but how important this child is goign to be; wanted to convince him I'm goign to give it the best education and care I can. I wanted to tell him how much i admired him, and to thank him.
I didn't get much past the first sentence.
I couldn't paraphrase the entire conversation. But as soon as I said "I'm pregnant", he went off the handle. Last time we saw each other, he called me beautiful, graceful, and fascinating. Now he realized that I am another gold digger, plotting to trap him with a bastard. He shouted that if I try anything, his lawyers will destroy me, like all the others who tried double-crossing him; that he trusted me, and he was a fool to think I was any different from the others.
In one moment, I saw why he is such a successful businessman, how he could build his empire from scraps. Behind the charming facade lies a ruthless, paranoid man, ready to strike at anyone who he suspects might be out to get him. And I understand why I never heard about any of his past lovers trying to sue him; I don't want my child to be on his radar, too.
I screamed at him to get out. Maybe I should have tried rationalizing with him, or assuring him I don't want anything form him, but I completely lost my cool. The entire building must have heard us. Before he left, he said the only thing I remember clearly, word for word: "get out of my town, you and your half-breed. I will make it hell for you."
I should be glad, shouldn't I? I got what I wanted from him. I have a guarantee he will not try looking for us, or to take the child away from me. I even learned that he deserved what I did. Besides, he was right, wasn't he? I did get pregnant on purpose, and without his knowledge. I shouldn't be complaining. I am just so disappointed.
I apologize for causing trouble, but I would like to exercise my privilege of asking the Verona Balzabian Embassy to assist with my relocation, according to article 3.3 of Project MT Protocol. I am understandably shaken, and maybe it is not necessary, but I want to know my tracks from Veronaville are covered. Hopefully, this town is as eager to forget about me as I am to forget about it.
I learned an important lesson about honesty: either go all the way, or don't even try.
Subject 3#, Stella Terrano, Veronaville
Report #14, date -- -- ----
I'm packed and ready to go. All the formalities have been taken care of.
I haven't heard from Consort since our argument. I haven't seen much of anyone, really. Let's just say I don't get invitations to parties anymore. I don't know if everyone now believes I'm a conniving gold-digger, or if they just know I fell out of Consort's graces - either way, just like that, I became a persona non grata in my own apartment building. I've only been visited once.
It was a particularly bad morning. I felt too questy to get up, and I am sure I had a fever. When I heard the knocking, I only yelled that the door's open; I didn't even think that I might not have wanted to let anyone in until I heard the footsteps on the staircase. They were quiet and tentative.
For a split second, I thought it was Consort, that he wanted to apologize. Idiot.
"Good morning, grandma, it's me, Red Riding Hood... Shit! You look-- good. You look good."
If he hadn't brought cookies, I would have zapped him, I really would.
I sat up, but didn't have the strenght to say anything. He just stood there, fidgeting and looking aroud; I didn't know why he came, and I think neither did he. I finally took pity on him.
"Could you bring me some water, please? Every time I try to get up, I feel sick."
"Sure, I'll be right back-- do you need anything else? Have you eaten today?"
"I don't want to eat."
"You should. I'll make something light, okay?"
I managed to get up and walk downstairs while he was preparing the food. I already felt a bit better, and I hate eating in bed.
We didn't talk about anything important while eating. He made some slightly inappropriate jokes and talked about his major, I talked abot Valeria and a bit about my work, he was disappointed she's not green, I told him I won't let a ginger criticize my daughter's looks, we both laughed. He desperately tried to act normal, like he didn't know, or at least suspect, what went down between me and Consort.
I think it was his way of apologizing for his grandfather. I don't know why he felt it was his fault. Because he didn't warn me? Because he never confronted him? I don't care. Well-intentioned or not, I wasn't in the mood for pretense.
"How many times has that happened?"
"What?" He didn't look at me, suddenly very charmed by the tomato on his sandwich.
"Consort impregnating women and sending them to hell."
He didn't reply. He hunched over, pushing the crumbs on his plate around, and looking everywhere but at me. His ears were redder than his hair.
It must be difficult, loving someone you are ashamed of.
"Look, he's not... he's not that kind of guy. You know, ever since my grandma and my parents died... I don't know, I guess he's just bitter. Scared of being alone, but doesn't trust anyone anymore."
"Don't make excuses for him, Tybalt. He could do that himself if he wanted them."
"I don't know. It would harm the company's image if the word got out, so.. I guess if it ever did happen... I guess he pays them off. I never asked."
"Can I ask you for a favor?" He nodded again. "I could use a lift to the airport tomorrow morning, if you have the time."
"Sure. You know... It's a shame you're leaving. I was almost starting to like you."
"No, stop. Spare my poor feelings."
We finished the sandwiches in silence. Valeria started chirping upstairs, and Tybalt got up with an excited ah-ha!.
"So you do have a kid! I thought you made her up so I would buzz off. Can I go see her?"
"Sure, go ahead. Tybalt?"
"What happened to your parents?"
"A car crash" he replied after a long silence, and went upstairs. He didn't look at me.
It's easy to spot honest people in this town: they don't look you in the eyes.
I'm heading to the airport in 30 minutes. I'll send the next report once I've arrived in my next destination.
Fun fact 1: this entry was too big for Semagic to post, even cut in half.
Fun fact 2: It was Hermia retching You know, she lives there. She was present for all this.
Thank you for reading! And special thanks to simsgates for reviewing this chapter for me! :)
I have no idea where to send Stella next. All I know is that I'd like to wait an update or two befire sending her to Desiderata Valley, that's why I left it out of the poll. I'd really appreciate your votes - I don't have subhoods other than Strangetown attached yet, and I'd rather add them one-by-one.