Chapter 10: How to Make an Entrance

It was late in the Galactus household.  Han was still at work.  Ulrike was painting away downstairs and Ripley was asleep.  The newlyweds were relaxing in the hot tub on the deck.

“This is a lovely night,” Jaimie murmured as she leaned against Marcus.

“Sure is, though not as lovely as you.”

She giggled.  “I may be old, but I’m not blind.  I know what I look like.”

“That’s my wife yer talkin’ about,” he scolded her, kissing her gently, his grip around her waist tightening.

She smiled at him.  “Thanks.”

He leaned close and murmured in her ear, “You are a fine, fine woman, Jaimie Flex.  Don’t you forget that.”

Jaimie giggled again.  The two were too involved with one another to realize that a certain little girl had woken up in the middle of the night to go get a glass of orange juice.  She was half asleep as she wondered into the sunroom.  She liked to sit in there.  And doing it at night, when everyone was asleep added another element to it; it was a little scary, but really cool at the same time.  But as she sat, she heard the murmur of voices behind her.

She turned and saw that Uncle Marcus and Aunt Jaimie were in the hot tub.  She turned around in her seat, her head tilted as she watched them.

They were kissing!

Ripley was puzzled.  Her parents kissed all the time.  She always came upon them with the same kind of looks in their eyes.  She heard a bit of splashing and her attention refocused on the hot tub as she saw the two of them disappear under the water!

Feeling intrusive, Ripley scuttled out of the sunroom, put her glass in the sink and then went back down to her room.  Her mother must have gone up to bed because she wasn’t in the family room painting anymore.  Ripley made a note to herself to ask her mother what Jaimie and Marcus were doing in the morning.


Han got home just as dawn was breaking up over the horizon.  He hit the treadmill first, then decided it was time for breakfast.  Marcus and Jaimie were already at the table, looking like two cats that had just eaten the canary.  He arched a brow and sat down.  “You guys are in your swimsuits,” he observed.

Jaimie giggled and looked at Marcus, winking.  “We were just- uh, enjoying a soak in the hot tub, right Marcus?”

Marcus nodded, his eyes twinkling.  “Mhm.”  He cleared his throat.  “Look, Han, ol’ buddy… were you serious when you said that I could uh- quit my job whenever I wanted?”

Han looked puzzled, then he nodded.  “Of course.  You don’t have to do anything you don’t wanna do.  Right Watcher?”

Of course.  You are all free Sims.

 Marcus looked at Jaimie.  “I’m glad to hear it.  Because I’m done.  I’ve got seven young uns now.  Some young buck can take over.”  His hand came up and he put it over Jaimie’s.  “Han, Jaimie and I got married last night.  We want to spend what’s left of our lives together.”

Han blinked for a moment as he processed the information.  “You- married?”  Then a huge grin split his face.  “Congratulations!  Sincerely!”  He winked at Jaimie.  “Gonna keep him in line?”

Jaimie laughed.  “You can call it that, yeah.”

Marcus laughed, a big booming sound.  Han stood.  “C’mere, big guy!”  The older man stood up and the two shared a back slapping hug.

“Congratulations, really.  I’m really happy for you guys.”

“Thanks man, truly.  She- makes me happy.  In a way I’d never thought of bein’.”

Han stepped back and then pointed at Jaimie.  “C’mon you!  Your turn!”

Jaimie gladly stepped toward him and was treated to a bear hug.

“You make sure he takes good care of you and you take good care of him, huh?  I want you guys to enjoy yourselves.”

Jaimie sighed.  “Thanks Han.  That means a lot.  Without you… Marcus and I would never have met.  So, thank you.”


While Han congratulated his two friends, Ulrike sat at the chess table in the family room with her daughter.  “Hey Mom?”

“Yeah sweetie?”

“I uh, I saw Uncle Marcus and Aunt Jaimie in the hot tub last night.”

“Mhm,” Ulrike said, moving a piece.  It wasn’t that unusual.  After gardening especially, Jaimie liked using the hot tub to soak her sore muscles.

“Well, they were- doing stuff.”

“Stuff?” Ulrike turned her full attention on her daughter.

“Well, there was kissing and then they went under the water and there was a LOT of splashing.”

Ulrike almost choked on her laughter.  “Oh-oh my, is that so?”

“Mhm, I wanted to get a drink and I was sittin’ in the sun room and I saw them out the window.”

“I-I see.  Well, don’t you worry about anything, baby.  They were- just having a good time, is all.”

“Oh, ok!  Can I have a good time, too Mom?”


Ulrike looked down at the bowl she was mixing things in, deep in thought.  Her daughter was off to school; luckily, the bus had come right around the time that Ripley was asking her why she couldn’t have fun like Marcus and Jaimie.  Ulrike was pulled in two directions.  She saw nothing wrong with those kinds of activities.  After all, didn’t she and her husband enjoy it?  Enjoy their relationship? But this was her little girl!  She was a child yet she would be a teen soon enough and that meant rampaging hormones.

“Afternoon beautiful.”  Han walked in, kissed his wife on the cheek and then sat down at the island.

“Hey, babe.”  She looked over her shoulder at him, batting her lashes.

“So, did you hear about Marcus and Jaimie?  They got married!”

Ulrike snorted out a laugh.  “I heard- something, as it were.”  Knowing that her husband might not take it so well about his daughter asking about ‘fun’, Ulrike decided to wait to tell him.  “I’m happy for them.  They both deserve it.  There’s always been- something there.  It’s nice they have one another.”

Han nodded.  “Yeah, that’s what I thought too.”

“Hey Han?  Ripley texted me on her lunch break.  She’s bringing a friend over after school.  One of Marcus’s brood, actually.”

“Oh yeah?  That’s nice!”


“Thanks for having me over, Ripley!”

“You’re welcome, Landon!”  Ripley giggled.  She and Landon- Marcus’s only son- were seated in the sun room, talking and laughing about their school day.

Han was on the treadmill, using the excuse to work out, though in reality, he just wanted to watch them.  He’d been a bit shocked to see that his daughter’s little friend had been a boy.  The two kids stood up and though Han grinned, the thoughts in his head were not quite so pleasant.

“I should get back home.  Again, thanks Ripley!  And thanks for the help with the homework!”  The two children hugged and Landon left.

Ripley smiled up at her father.  “Landon’s great, Papa!  It’s ok for him to come over this weekend?”

“Um, sure, baby.  Of course.”

Ripley beamed up at him.  Han had to hold in the sigh.


You look a little- tense.  Everything ok?

 Han was running on the treadmill, looking very intense.

“I’m fine.  Just- thinking.  Thinking about Ripley.  My little girl’s gonna be a teenager soon.”

Yes, she will.  Tis the way of life, Han.

“Yeah, yeah, I know.  Go on, I’m fine.  Just wanted to get in a workout.”

Hmm…  Hey Ulrike, think your husband could use some time with his wife.

 “You got it, Watcher.  Thanks.”

As Han emerged a little while later, Ulrike was there to greet him with a tight hug and a knowing look on her face.  Han let out a sigh and let himself sink a little.

“I love you, Ulrike.”

“I love you too, Han.  C’mon.  Let’s just go relax a while, huh?”

“Yeah, that sounds like a plan.”


 

Chapter 8: Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

“You ready for school, baby?  You look very pretty,” Han told Ripley as they sat down for breakfast.  They had a lot of leftovers from all the parties, plus all of the practice Ulrike had been doing.

“You bet, Dad!  I can’t wait!”

He grinned.  “That’s my girl.  Have a good day, Ripley.”  There was the sound of a honk.  “Oo, sounds like the bus.  Better get going!”

Ripley had already jumped up.  “Bye, Dad!”  She waved at him over her shoulder as she disappeared down the stairs.

Han sighed, looking down at the rest of his breakfast.

What’s wrong?

“She’s growing up so fast.”

That’s what children do, Han.  You did.

“Yeah, but-“  He sighed again.  “Maybe a workout will do me some good.”

Good idea.

 Ulrike was out in the sunroom already.  Han hopped on the treadmill, determined to work it off.

“You ok, Han?”

“Just feeling a little- melancholy.  Ripley’s off to school.”

Ulrike smiled softly.  “It’ll be ok, Han.  She’ll always be our little girl.”

“I know.  Just seems like just yesterday, she was small enough to fit in my arms.”

“I know, baby.  I know.”

The two lapsed into silence, the only sound was Han’s footfalls on the treadmill.


“How was school, lil thang?” Marcus asked Ripley as they sat at the dining table.

“It was great, Uncle Marcus!  Had a lot of fun!”

“Look at you, doin’ yer homework already!”

“Uh huh.  Need to make sure I get good grades.”

Marcus shook his head, grinning.  “You’re too good, kiddo.  Yer mama and papa are lucky.  I’ll see ya later, ok?”

“Sure, Uncle Marcus!”

Once her homework was finished, Ripley went to the couch to watch TV.  “H-hey Watcher?”

Yes, sweetie? 

 “I-I’m not feeling so good…”

Let’s get you some orange juice, then it’s bed time!

 “O-ok, Watcher.  But what about helping daddy with his parties?”

You don’t worry about it.  You need to feel better first.

 Ripley nodded and she trudged down to her bed.


Ok, Han, a slight change in plans.  Ripley’s gone to sleep.  Poor thing has come down with something.

“O-ok, Watcher.  She alright?”

Yes, just a little under the weather.  Just needs some rest.  Ok, so, first one is going to be a house party.  Places everyone!

“You made some lovely food, baby.  And you look just- magnificent,” Han told his wife.

“Han’s right, Ulrike!  Food’s great!” Marcus agreed.

Ulrike grinned, a spoonful of stew halfway to her mouth.  “Thanks guys.  I think I’m finally getting the hang of it.”

Hm, ok, great job so far guys!  That’s the house party and the dinner party, both gold!  You guys are doing wonderfully!

There was a few cheers, though most everyone was pretty tired.

You guys have all earned a bit of a break.  Plus, I have some things to do.  Come on then, to bed. 

Han pulled his wife close.  “Couldn’t have done this without you, Ulrike,” he murmured as he kissed her.

The Watcher went on a slight building spree, including constructing the all-important museum. **

** To see all the work on the house, go here: The Dynasty House, Version 2


“This is nice.  Nice night, just sitting in front of the fire,” Marcus murmured.

“Yeah, it is,” Han sighed softly, smiling.

“This is fun, huh, Daddy?” Ripley said with a giggle as she roasted a hot dog over the fire.

“Sure is, sweetie. Don’t know what the Watcher was talking about.  This Weenie Roast isn’t hard at all!”

“Uh… does someone smell burning plastic?” Ulrike asked after a moment.

“FIRE!”  Han leapt up, grabbing the extinguisher.  All he could think about was his little girl there.


“I-I don’t know if I can take another night like that!” Ulrike blurted out.  The fire had been taken care of, but everyone was tense and uncomfortable.  They knew it had been a close call.

“Oh sweetie, it’ll be alright.  The Watcher has already said no more of that, not until someone completes Freelance Botanist,” Jaimie soothed.  “So we won’t have to worry about a party like that for a while.”

“C’mon, baby.  Let’s go get some sleep, huh?” Han took her hand and led her into the bedroom.  Once inside, he stopped and he simply looked at her, as if memorizing every feature.  Then he brought a hand up to her cheek.  “I’m sorry, baby.  I-I know this isn’t easy on you.  Y-you didn’t realize what you were signing up for.”

“N-no, it isn’t that, Han.  Not really.  I knew what I was signing up for.  I-I was just hoping we wouldn’t run into all these problems, all at once.  A-and then the fire…”

“Shhh, I know, baby.”  Han spun her around and went to work on her back and shoulders, trying to help her relax.  As he did so, the door to their bedroom opened.

Ripley looked in.  “Mama?  Dad?”

“Hey baby, c’mon on in.  You ok?”

The little girl hopped up on her parent’s bed.  “Yeah, I’m alright.”

Han sat down beside her.  “What is it, baby?”

“I’m just wondering what this Dynasty thing is you guys keep talking about is.  Will you tell me?”

Han swallowed and looked at Ulrike.  She sat down on the other side of Ripley and shared a look with her husband.

“Well… it’s a little complicated.  But- I can try to explain it,” Han said slowly.  He looked at Ulrike.  She nodded and then Han told his daughter the truth about himself, where he had come from, and why he was there on Earth.   When he finished, Ripley wore a thoughtful look.

“Daddy?”

“Yeah, baby?”

“You believe in me right?  You think I can help you?”

Han had to swallow past the lump in his throat.  “Of course I do!”  He hugged her tight, looking at Ulrike over the top of his daughter’s head.  She smiled at him and the little family remained like that for a while.


 

Chapter 7: Never Tell Me the Odds!

Author’s Note:  Sorry for the slightly disjointed chapter.  Lot happening in game and screenshots was not a priority as I tried to deal with some bugs involving parties.  So again, apologies, but hope you enjoy!

Ulrike, a bit shaky after her brush with an incompetent doctor, slid off the table and went to pick up the small infant.  “Oh-oh look at you.  Y-you’re perfect.  Look at her, Watcher.  Isn’t she just-“

Perfect?  Yes, she’s a darling, Ulrike, truly.

Well, let’s get the both of you home.  I’ll uh, go retrieve, Han… I may have given him the wrong room number…  Otherwise poor little Ripley may have gotten to see a bit more of her daddy’s dark side than she really needs to.

The doctor shuffled nervously.  He was only too happy to see them all leave.


Back at home, the first one to the bassinet was Marcus, of all people.  “Hey little thang!  Aren’t you just the cutest!  Uncle Marcus could just eat you up!”

“Hey, there will be no eating of my daughter!” Han told his friend with a laugh, though there was a protective look in his eyes.  Sims didn’t eat children… did they?

Marcus grinned at him as he set Ripley back down.  “Don’t you worry none.  That lil angel will be well looked after!”

“I don’t doubt it.”  Han smiled at his friend.  Then it was his turn.  He looked down into the bassinet and his breathe caught.  He didn’t even have words.  So he simply reached down and gently picked her up, holding her to his chest.  He lost himself in looking into her eyes.  “Hello, darling.  I’m your Daddy,” he whispered to her.

“I love you very much.  You and your Mommy are my world.”  He had to swallow past the lump in his throat.  Had he really wanted to leave?  It was amazing that such a tiny creature could change- well, everything in such a short time.  Little Ripley made a soft noise and Han hoisted her up, holding her against his shoulder.  Ripley quieted, content in her father’s arms.  “I’ll always be here for you,” he promised her.


Having a baby in the house made things a little hectic for a while.  It seemed as soon as either Ulrike or Han lay down, Ripley needed something, whether it was a bottle or a diaper change, or just to be held.

“Here ya are, baby girl,” Han would murmur to his daughter.  He didn’t mind the sleepless nights, really.  Anything for his precious Ripley.

“Is someone hungry?  Yes she is.”  While Ulrike had decided she wanted to learn to cook in order to help Han meet the requirements of these Rules he had to follow, she loved spending time with her daughter too.  There was definitely something about that moment for mother and daughter.

Han didn’t even mind changing her diapers… well, at least not too much.  “Whoa, such a lot of stink for such a little thing!”  Ripley just smiled up at him from her bassinet.  “You just wait, you little stinker.  Wait till you have your own!”


But before anyone was ready, it was time for Ripley to age up! *

Author’s Note #2: *So… while Ripley was a wee babe, this was when the Watcher was trying to get a bunch of parties outta the way… but the timer bug hit and they were dismal failures, only reaching silver.  So yeah, I didn’t get as many shots as I wanted while Ripley was an infant.  All the adults in the house- when not doing things for parties—were always in the master bedroom, picking her up!

Ulrike did the honors.  “C’mon, baby girl.  Time to grow up!”  Her voice cracked a little, even as the bassinet shook.

There was a cry of “Woooo!  I’m free!  Whoa!  I need to chaaaange!” and then Ripley exploded out, a full-grown child.

Her first stop was definitely to change her clothes and to fix her hair.  She wasn’t a fan of poofy hair, not at all!  When she emerged, though, she grinned saucily.


And let’s not forget Marcus and Jaimie.  They both aged up to elder.  There was no party, since they were all pretty tired out, but they did have cake.

Ripley was given the other room downstairs and it was outfitted for a Princess.  But the only thing she cared about right away was the activity table that her parents had gotten for her.  She loved to draw.  She thought she wanted to do that when she was older, just like her mom, though she thought about writing too.  Maybe she’d do both!

“Mama, when I grow up, can I paint and write?”

Ulrike looked at Ripley.  “Of course, you can baby girl!  You can do anything you put your mind to.”

Ripley was certainly a precocious girl.  Han wasn’t quite sure he was ready for her growing up.  When she’d been a little bundle that could fit in his arms, it had been easy to keep track of her, to know what she needed and when.  Now, though, he was a bit adrift.  His little girl wasn’t so little now!  Then again, it was great to be able to sit at the counter with Ripley and talk about all sorts of things.

“Hey Dad, I get to go to school on Monday!”

“Mhm, you sure do.  Are you nervous?”

“No way!” she exclaimed.  “I can’t wait to sit down at my desk and crack open my books!  And the art room- oh, all those new paints and crayons!”

Han laughed.  “That’s my girl!”

Ripley hopped down off the stool.  “C’mon dad!  Hip bump!”

Han looked concerned at first.  “I don’t know, Ripley…”

His daughter laughed.  “Oh c’mon!  I’m a big girl!”

A short shaft of pain hit Han.  She was a big girl… and she was only going to grow older.  “You got it, baby girl,” he murmured.

“Ooof!  Easy on yer ol’ man!” Han complained, though he was grinning.  Ripley just laughed and ran off.  Han sighed a little, though he couldn’t help but grin.  She was a good kid.


Wow, gettin’ really good there, Ulrike!

“Check this out, Watcher!”

Nice trick!  Got some air on that.  Ready for your birthday?

Ulrike grimaced.  “Not so much.  But guess it’s gotta happen.”  Once the cake she was baking came out of the oven, she brought it out onto the counter and put the candles on it.  With her family watching, Ulrike leaned down to blow out the candles.

“Happy birthday, baby,” Han told his wife as the adults sat down at the table.

“Still lookin’ good as ever, though, huh?” Marcus commented with a grin.

“Oh you!” Ulrike laughed.

Jaimie shook her head, chuckling.  “Better watch it, Marcus.  Wouldn’t want Han to have to trounce your behind!”

“Nah, no way!”

The group laughed.  This was a long-standing joke among them.

“Pretty soon, we’ll be celebrating Ripley’s teen birthday!”

Han groaned.  “Don’t even go there!  I am sooo not ready for that!  She only just became a child!  Don’t make me think about her becoming a teen already!”

There was some snickering, but Jaimie pointed out, “You’ll have to come to terms with at some point.  Kids do grow.”

“Yeah, yeah… but I am going to ignore it until I absolutely have to!”


“If Han can’t even handle Ripley being a teen, what’s he gonna do when the first boys come around?” Jaimie asked Ulrike as the two women and Marcus enjoyed some peace out in the sunroom.

Ulrike grimaced.  “I have no idea… I don’t think it’s going to be pretty.  Ripley’s so good natured, but I have a feeling she’s as stubborn as her father, so it should be… interesting, to say the least.”

Marcus chuckled.  “Got that right.  Though, I don’t blame Han much.  Any boy hurts that little girl and I’ll help my buddy to hide the body.”

Ulrike rolled her eyes.  “Don’t you dare give him ideas!”

Now, now everyone.  The poor thing has a while to go before she’s a teen, so let’s worry about that when we get there.  For now, let her enjoy being a kid as much as she can.  She’ll have enough to worry about with the Dynasty huh?

“Hear hear, Watcher!”

Ripley would have enough to deal with was right…


 

Chapter 6: This is a New Day, a New Beginning

Ulrike ran out of the house, glowing.  She forgot her anger at Han- mostly even as she skidded to a stop next to his rocket.  “Han!”

He looked at her warily, wondering how much yelling she was going to do this time.  Not that he didn’t deserve it, but a man (of any species or race) could only take so much abuse from all fronts.  “Ul-ulrike… hi.”

“Hanhanhan!”

“What?  What is it?”  There was a sudden fear.  Was she alright?  She had been pretty ill…

“We’re gonna have a nooboo!”

Han could only stare at her for a moment, his mouth a big round ‘O’.  Then he pulled her to him, hugging her tightly before kissing her senseless.

After a moment, he put her at arm’s length.  “Ulrike… can you ever forgive me?  I-I… I had to try.  I-I thought maybe- maybe if I could talk to-to SOMEONE, maybe I could get my answers.  I-I didn’t want this- thing to hang over our heads.”

Ulrike smiled gently at him.  “I get it, Han.  I do.  I’m a Renegade, remember?  I-I know that when someone tells you not to do something, it’s the first thing you want to do- and that’s just a normal thing.  You- you lost your home.  But- you have a new home now.”  It was left unspoken that he had her- and now he would have a child as well.

“You’re right,” he whispered.  “You’re right.  Ulrike, I-I won’t do something so stupid again.  Y-you… you and the child you carry.  You’ll be my world now.”

“C’mon, let’s go inside.”  They went back into the house, hand in hand.


Han cringed.  “Is Ulrike in the bathroom again, Watcher?”

Afraid so.  The morning sickness hits hardest during the early trimesters.  And it’s hitting your poor wife pretty hard as it is.  I can’t believe how sick you guys have been getting lately!

“Are you feeling better, baby?” Han asked his wife as she emerged from their bedroom to join him at the table.

She nodded.  “Yeah, for now.  It comes and goes.”

Han leaned over. “Be nice to mommy, kiddo.”  Ulrike stood up and Han followed.  He grinned as he leaned down to place to his hands on his wife’s swelling abdomen.  “You’re gonna be the bestest wittle nooboo around!  Aren’t you, sweetie?”

Ulrike grinned.

Ugh, medicine for you pal, soon as you’re done.  Your wife doesn’t need to get sick again. 

He frowned.  “Yeah, need to do that.”


“Can’t believe it, man.  You gonna be a daddy!”

“I know… it-it’s so weird!  And yet- I can’t stop smiling about it, Marcus!”

Marcus gave a raucous laugh.  “Yeah, there’s just- something about it.”  He let out a deep breathe, still running.

Han concentrated on his reps for a moment, then asked tentatively, “You gotten to see any of your little ones lately?”

“Nah, not yet… I plan on making some rounds though.”

Han nodded.

How’s the painting coming along?

 “Well enough.  Helps take my mind off the backache… at least for a while,” Ulrike answered ruefully as she gave her painting a critical onceover.

Ulrike?  What would you think of becoming a full time painter?  You could quit your gallery job, spend your days here painting and still be around for when the nooboo arrives.  We don’t need the money as much and honestly, your paintings sell for more than enough on their own.

Ulrike tilted her head to the side, thinking.  “Actually… I think I’d like that.  I really would.  I only took the job at the gallery to get started, but you’re right.  I would have more time for my own work and be able to be home with our baby.”

I hear Han.  Why don’t you talk it over with him?  See what he thinks?

“There’s my beautiful wife.”  Han was beaming as he looked at Ulrike.  She responded with a flirtatious tilt of her head and a fluttering of her lashes at him.

“I love you,” she murmured.

“And I you,” he responded.  He had to lean down murmur to his wife’s belly.  “I love you too, baby.  I love you very much.  Mommy and daddy can’t wait to meet you.”

“Awww,” Ulrike sniffed.  “So cute!  You’re going to make a great daddy.”  She sighed and stretched, grimacing and letting out a groan as her back ached.

“Oh baby, why didn’t you say anything?  Here, let me see what I can do for ya.”  Han spun her around gently and then began to massage her back and shoulders.

“Uuuuhhhh, that feels so good!  Oh, thank you so much, baby!”  Once he was done, she turned around to wrap her arms around him, resting her head on his shoulder.

“Why don’t you get changed?  Get comfortable and we’ll spend the evening relaxing,” Han told her.

“That sounds lovely.”

They found themselves in the sunroom, relaxing as Marcus did his nightly run.  Han had gotten very comfortable, sitting in his skivvies with a glass of milk in hand.

“Hey hey!  Lookin’ good there, mama!” Marcus called out, waving at them both from the treadmill.

“Don’t you know it!” she replied.  Han just laughed.


“Hi, yes, I’m planning a birthday party.  It’s my own.  Turning into an adult.  Yeah, yeah, middle-aged my rear!  Yup, got what we needed.  Wife has made the cake already.  Yup, thanks!”

“Woo!  I’m an adult now!”

–sigh—Yes, but it only got to silver… this timer bug is going to be difficult to maneuver around.  That’s alright though.  We have time yet.

 “Yeah, I guess so.”

Ulrike, cake looks great, honey.

 “Thanks Watcher.”  Ulrike yawned.  “I’m beat.  I think I’m gonna call it a night.”

You do that.  You’ve earned it.  Anytime now and it’ll be time to meet your little one.

 Just as Ulrike went to climb into bed, she caught her breath and let out a sharp cry as something seemed to release inside of her.  “Oooooo!  W-watcher, I-I think it’s time!  M-my water just broke!”

Oh!  Alright, sweetie.  It’s ok.  Let’s get you to the hospital!  Han!  Get your butt moving!  It’s go time!


They arrived at the hospital, Han trying to remain calm, though his voice was about an octave higher than normal and he was talking much louder than necessary.  As Ulrike checked in, Han stood there, looking particularly menacing.  “If anything happens to her-“  He had been checking the computer on occasion and had stumbled upon Carl’s forums.  He’d seen some of the horror stories.  “I swear… I will hurt them like they’ve never been hurt!”

Yeah… I think you’re a bit too highly strung to be in there with her yet… C’mon, Han.  This way.  Don’t worry, Ulrike, I’m right here with you.

 “Th-thanks, Watcher.  This corridor is too darn long!”

I don’t know, sweetie.  Poor design maybe?  Almost there, though!

 Ulrike finally reached the room and changed into the gown provided for her.  She eased herself onto the cold steel table, a shiver running through her.

“Don’t worry Mrs. Galactus.  Everything will be alright,” the Doctor soothed.  He manned the controls, a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead.  He hadn’t quite gotten the hang of these new contraptions. He found the proper setting with a small sigh of relief and hit the button.  But as the machine whirred and the arm went through the slot, the EKG machine blared a warning and something that shouldn’t have been in the grip of the claws was!

“W-watch…er…”  Ulrike let out a gasp and her head lulled to the side.

Oh my God!  Do something you moron! 

Outside the door, there was an all-too familiar voice.  “Ulrike?  Ulrike!”

If you don’t fix this now, I can’t promise I can hold him back!  You are a dead Sim if he comes in and sees her like this!

Frantically, the doctor hit several buttons, his eyes wide in fear.  The orderly peeked outside the doors, putting his life into his own hands just in case Han was still out there.  The machines still blared their warning and Ulrike was still.

Doctor!

Finally, the machine responded to the doctor’s commands and a few moments later, the machine picked up a sinus rhythm.  Ulrike’s eyes opened.  “W-watcher?”

Oh thank the Forum!  You’re ok, Ulrike.  You’re fine, sweetie.  And guess what?  There’s someone here to see you.

A sharp cry split the air and Ulrike turned her head to look into the bassinet by the table.  A beautiful little blue baby stared back at her.

Welcome little Ripley Galactus, the heir to the Dynasty.


 

Chapter 5: With the First Link, the Chain is Forged

I hear you proposed to Ulrike yesterday.

Han looked up from where he was working on his rocket ship.  “Yes I did.  Why?  Is there a problem?”

No, not at all.  I’m happy to hear it in fact.  And it looks like you’re doing well with your little project there as well.

“Yeah, it’s coming along.”

Han… I don’t want to have to repeat myself.  You are not to try and return to Omega 4.  Once you leave this planet, I have no control over anything.

 “So you said before.  Look, I don’t have time for this.  I know what I’m doing, alright?”

Hm… we’ll see.


“How was work today, Han buddy?”

“It was actually pretty good, Marcus.  How was your day?”

Marcus winked at him.  “It was great man.  Thanks for inviting me into the house.  This job is great!”

Han’s brow furrowed.  “Job?  You mean gardening?”

Marcus laughed uproariously.  “No, this is a different kind of sowin’ if ya know what I mean!”

Han only looked bewildered.  “No… I don’t.”

“Wait… I thought you had finished readin’ the book,” Marcus said, realizing he wasn’t joking.

“Um, well… I skimmed some parts, I guess…”

Marcus’s eyes widened.  “Whoa, dude!  That’s- well, dangerous, isn’t it?”

“I read all the important parts!  I know what I have to do,” Han ground out, sounding defensive.  It was a good thing that the Watcher wasn’t around.  He could only imagine the earful he’d get.  “I’ll go back and reread it after the wedding.  Anyway, so tell me.  What’s your job?”

Marcus looked around quickly, then leaned in close.  “I make sure the town doesn’t die later on in the generations.  I uh, visit the eligible ladies and we-“  He winked at Han, “get busy with ‘pollinatin’.”

Han could only gap at him.  “Y-you… you procreate with a bunch of the females?”

“In a manner of speakin’, that’s exactly what I do.”

“Wait… that young woman that was here just yesterday… the pregnant one.  That-“

Marcus nodded.  “Yup, Candy’s carryin’ my baby.”

Han sat there for a moment, fuming.  He wasn’t mad at Marcus.  Not really.  He was angry with the Watcher.  Then again, he couldn’t say a word because then she’d know he hadn’t read the blerghing book!  Finally, he looked at Marcus.  “Does it- bother you?”

Marcus shrugged one shoulder.  “A little, maybe.  I mean, I’ve never been one fer the ol’ ball’n’chain myself, not like you pal.  Do I like going from one woman to another?  Not as much.  But hey, it helps you out later on, keeps people in the houses around town.  Can be hard to get new people in later on down the line.”

“I-I see…  Alright, well.  I do wish you luck.  And Marcus?  Don’t let the Watcher force you into anything you don’t wanna do.  If you wanna stop, tell her so.”

Marcus nodded.  “Got it.”  He grinned.  “Don’t you worry none.  I got this.  I’m gonna enjoy myself before I got old.”

Han gave an absent nod and went back to eating, lost in thought.


The day of their wedding dawned just like all the others, though Han would have said the sun was brighter, the air crisper, the birdsong louder.  He walked out of the house, taking a deep breath and letting out a sigh.

You’re in a better mood, at least, than you have been.

Not even the Watcher could ruin his mood.  “Yeah, well, I get to make Ulrike mine today.  We’ll be linked from this day forward.”

Yes, this is very true.  Perhaps she’ll be able to keep you in line better…

He glared up at the sky for a moment, then shook his head.  He wouldn’t fight with her, not today.  Then he heard a noise, a noise that took him back.  “What the-“

No!  On her wedding day!  Seriously!  Ooooo, when I get a hold of the High Council… she wasn’t even inoculated!

“Ulrike!!!”  Han sprinted across the lawn, watching the shape of the spaceship recede.  “No!  Ulrike!”

It’s ok, Han.  They’ll bring her back. 

“They?  Who was that?”

The High Council from Sixam sends a scouting party every so often to keep an eye on the Sims on this planet.  Some of them have even made their home here, somewhat like you, though for them, it’s by choice.  She’ll be alright.

 “She better be!” he growled.

Just wait for a little while.  She’ll be back.


You’re back!  Are you alright?

 “I-I feel a little light-headed,” Ulrike replied, “b-but I think I’m ok.  I didn’t miss the wedding did I!?”

No, you’re just in time.  Let me go tell, Han and then we can get things started!  Go change, alright?

She nodded and ran off.  She came back just in time to greet the first guests.  “Thank you so much for coming!”

Ulrike… wait a minute, sweetie, are you ok?  What- Oh, the High Council is sooo going to hear about this!  You poor thing!


“What?  What is it?  Ulrike?  Oh, my poor urdona!” Han had stepped out of the house after hearing his bride was back, safe and sound.

“It’s ok, Han.  I’m fine.”  Ulrike smiled brightly at him.  “I’ll be fine.  Let’s get married, ok?”

Though Han wanted nothing more than to wed Ulrike and make her his mate, he was worried for her.  But he couldn’t deny her so he nodded.  “You got it, my love.”

As the couple stood in front of the wedding arch at the edge of the property, Han could only swallow.  “Y-you are just- I don’t even have the words for how beautiful you are, Ulrike.”

“Oh, Han.  I-I’m so happy today!  I-I never imagined I’d have a wedding like this.”

“From this day forward, I promise to love you and cherish everything you are.  I swear that I will be your partner in all things and support you in everything you do,” Han vowed.

“From this day forward, I promise to you and cherish you, to give everything in me to see you succeed.  I will support you in any way you need and be your best friend now and forever.”  Ulrike leaned forward to softly kiss Han’s cheek.

As she stepped back, the world began to spin around her and she almost fell.  “Ulrike!” Han cried out.  “Ulrike, are you alright?  Let me get you to a doctor!”

“No!  No, I’m fine.  Please, Han.  I want to marry you.”

He swallowed.  “Alright, but as soon as we’re done, you need to go to bed!”

“Alright, love.  Alright.”

The two finished their vows and became husband and wife.

Rather than kiss his new wife, Han instead pulled Ulrike close for a gentle hug.  He was worried for her, but she seemed to so badly want to stay for the wedding.

She stayed for cake, though she had to sit down because she’d gotten dizzy yet again.

After Han and Ulrike had shared their first piece, Ulrike went to go lay down, sighing.  She felt bad.  Han went with her to tuck her in.  He had every intention of letting her rest, but as had already been proven, he had a very hard time denying her anything, so they both changed and celebrated their wedding night.


Where in the Simverse do you think you’re going, Han!?

“I have an appointment… I need to go home, Watcher!”

You just got MARRIED!?  You’re going to get yourself killed!  Don’t be a fool!

“I have to find out who set me up!” he snarled back.  He knew the Watcher couldn’t really stop him, so giving her his most obnoxious grin, he waved good bye as he climbed into his ship.

You idiot!  Han, don’t do this!  What about Ulrike?!

But he didn’t answer her.  The rockets fired and the ship was airborn.

Frantically, the Watcher monitored communications.  “-ship, you are not authorized.  Turn back or be shot down.”  The impersonal voice of the Omega 4’s planetary defense systems made the Watcher growl and utter a few expletives.  “Unknown ship, you have been warned!”

“Yeah, yeah.”  Han’s voice came out a little different over the radio frequency.  “I’m here on business.  This is Pr-  Whoa!  Hey, don’t fire!”

Ugh!  Get out of there!

The Watcher heard Han curse a bit in his native tongue, then the radio went dead, static echoing in the quiet.  N-no… Han!

Just as she had given up hope, she heard a horrific noise and zoomed back out.  The shape that was plummeting back to Earth was recognizable, but only barely.  Even as hope flared, the ship was coming in far too fast and it hit the ground with an ear-splitting, earth-rocking impact, pieces of ship and debris flying everywhere!

HAAAANNNNNNN!!!  The Watcher screamed his name again, but there was no response except for the crackling of the flames over the shattered hull…

Just as the Watcher was going to have to share the terrible news with Ulrike, there was a bit of a crash and coughing and a shape appeared amongst the wreckage.

“Ugh,” Han groaned as he struggled to pull himself from beneath the debris.

Han!  Oh Thank Carl and Metro and Pam!  You’re alive!  I can’t believe it!  Now I’m going to KILL you!  You stupid, idiotic-

 “Aww, I know you’re happy to see me, Watcher.”  He shook himself off and then stood there, looking far too pleased with himself.


You had better not be thinking of returning!  Did you learn NOTHING from your last try!?

 “Oh, so you’re speaking to me again?” he asked, still concentrating on tightening the rivet he was working on.

I wanted to know how your talk with Ulrike went. 

 “I’m sure you know very well how it went… she was mad enough that I almost wished the crash had finished me off…”  Han sighed.  “Look, I know I screwed up, ok?  I won’t be trying to go back.  We’ll do this your way…”

Good. Is Ulrike still mad at you?

“Yeah… she hasn’t spoken to me since I told her either…”

Ah… well, let me go see how she’s doing.


Ulrike?  How are you doing?

Ulrike sat on their bed and then hastily wiped tears away.  “I-I… Oh Watcher, what was he thinking?!  He-he almost died!”

I know, sweetie.  I know.  He was foolish.  But you know he loves you.  I think he’s been punished enough, don’t you?

“I- maybe… I, will you help me with something?  I- um… I’m well- late.  I was going to take a test.  Will you be with me when I take it?”

Of course, Ulrike!  You don’t even have to ask.  C’mon then.  Let’s see.

Ulrike went into the bathroom and grabbed the pregnancy test she’d bought.  There was a nervous silence as both she and the Watcher waited.  “Watcher, Watcher!  Look!  It’s positive!”


 

Chapter 4: Love Keeps Her in the Air

Ulrike looked up from the canvas she’d been working on.  Han had just come down the stairs.  “How are you doing, baby?”

Han sighed.  “Just- can’t believe he’s gone, ya know?”

“Oh I know.  I know.”

He took her hands in his.  “Ulrike… you’ve been- I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been here.”

Han looked deep into her eyes.  “Y-you’ve helped keep me sane.  Thank you.”

“Han, you don’t need to thank me, truly.”

“Yes I do.”  He bit his lip and looked away for a moment.  It was uncharacteristic of him to seem so tongue-tied.

“Han?  What is it?”

“I uh… We’ve both been cooped up and you’ve been amazing.  I-I- Would you like to go to the park?  Just- get away for a little while?”

She smiled.  “I think I’d love that.”


Han sat down on the bench and Ulrike followed.  He let out a sigh.  “It really is nice here,” he murmured, unable to take his eyes off of her.

“Yeah, it is.”

“Though not as nice as the view right here,” he murmured.

That brought out a small blush.  “You’re too charming for your own good, ya know,” she murmured back.

“I don’t know, I like to think I’m just charming enough,” he retorted with a small grin.  Thought brought out a chuckle and she leaned against him.  He slipped his arms around her and let out a small sigh.

Ulrike began to fidget just a little bit.  Han looked at her.  “You ok?”

“Just a little stiff, I think.”

“Here, let me take care of that, then.”  Han waited for her to turn a bit and then he began do massage her shoulders, his fingers digging into her flesh.  She let out a small groan in bliss.

“Wow, that was great.  Thanks, baby.”

“You are more than welcome.”  Han stood up and he offered her his hand.  She took it, arching a brow at him as he helped her to her feet.  He pulled her close, his gaze intense on hers before he dipped her right over, kissing her fiercely.

When he righted her, Ulrike had to catch her breath.  “O-oh wow,” she managed.  “Th-that sure was something.”

Han grinned at her.  “Wanna go back home?”

She nodded.  But before they could go inside, Han took her hand and led her toward the edge of the property, to the river.  “I don’t wanna go inside quite yet,” he said.  They sat down on the bench together.  They sat in silence for a long moment, just letting the serenity of the gently flowing water and each other’s company soothe their hearts.

After a little while, Han took her hand in his.  She placed her hand over his.  “Ulrike… I-I love you.  I-I think I have since I first saw you.”

“I-I love you too,” she murmured, then gave a light laugh.  “I-it’s funny… I-I never thought this would happen to me.  I-I’m a rebel!  A- a Renegade.  And yet-“  She looked deeply into his eyes.  “I’ve never felt like this about anyone.”

Taking this as a sign, Han stood up.  He looked at the water for a moment, and then turned to her.  She had stood up, her brow furrowed, concerned.  “Han?”

Pulling in a deep breath, Han got down on one knee.  He had read up on Sim mating customs.  They weren’t that different from his own, but this whole ‘engagement’ business was a bit different than he was used to.  He hoped he didn’t screw it up.  He had to clear his throat as he took the little box from his pocket.  “Ulrike Faust, I-I know we haven’t known each other long, but I can’t imagine my life without you in it.  Th-that’s never happened before.  I know things are uncertain and this- task I have to do sounds insane.  Despite all that… will you take a chance and become my wife?”

She stared at him for a long moment, long enough that he began to feel his heart sink.  Then she let out a little squeal and a string of “Yesyesyesyesyes!”  She took the ring and he helped slip it onto her finger before she launched herself at him.  He caught her just in time, laughing.

Ulrike wrapped her arms around his neck and rested her forehead against his.  “Me, a wife,” she murmured, a sense of irony making her grin.

“You’ll make a beautiful bride and a wonderful wife, ya know,” he told her.  He gently let her down and drew her close, kissing her tenderly.

“We’ll have the wedding during the weekend.  I start the new job tomorrow.  But I have Saturday off.  Does that sound good to you?”

“That sounds wonderful.”  She laughed again.  “Me in a wedding dress…”

He grinned.  “You’ll look- breathtaking.  I know you will.”

The two walked back to the house, hand in hand.


“Hey Kade,” Han murmured, looking at the gravestone.  “I uh, wanted you to know, Ulrike and I will be getting married in another day or so.”

He smiled.  “She’s- a heck of a woman.  I know you only got to meet her just- well, just before.  But she’s already a part of the household, a part of the- family.  We miss ya, Kade.  We really do.”  He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck.  “But things are going well enough.  Aside from the wedding coming up, I have a job.  The garden is… well it’s beautiful.  Jaimie’s taken over that duty now too.  Marcus helps out… when he doesn’t disappear for days at a time.  The Watcher says he’s doin’ his job.  And he seems fairly happy, so I haven’t said much.  Oh!  The house is coming along.  The Watcher’s finally been able to finish things up.  There’s still a couple rooms that aren’t outfitted, but the majority are done.**”

“That’s all for now.  I’ll keep you updated, as we go.  We wouldn’t even have gotten this far, if not for you.  Thank you, my friend.  I’m sorry I didn’t say this to you when you were still with us.  That’s my biggest regret right now.  I know, I know.  I have a feeling you’d smack me upside the head right now, if you could, so I won’t say any more about that.  But I thought you should know what’s going on.  I’ll keep you updated, I promise.”  Han smiled a little and then turned to go back to the house, feeling a bit lighter than he had before.

**To check out more details about the house, go here:  Additions/Decorated Rooms


 

1.03: Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Chroma

The two crept quietly into the house.  While everyone else would be asleep, Azura wanted to make sure they didn’t disturb anyone either.  She led him into the family room and they sat down on the couch.  Rogelio pulled her close to his side, nuzzling his cheek against hers.

“I never thought to have this,” Azura murmured after a moment.  “It seemed like a fairy tale.”  She swallowed.  She so rarely talked of her early life, of her parents.  It was just too painful for her.  She could talk with Bella about it because Bella had been there for much of it.  But Rog…  She felt she could tell him anything.  So as they sat there, just holding one another, Azura told him about the day the colors faded for her.  She had already explained to him a bit about the research she and the Goths were doing, but this was the first time that she’d been able to tell him what had prompted it all.

He didn’t say anything for a long moment, the hand on her back just gentle rubbing in small circles.  When he did, his gaze was tender on hers.  “We’ll bring the colors back for you, my love.  I’ll do whatever I have to in order to make sure that will happen.”  Then he kissed her as if sealing that promise.

She closed her eyes and just savored the moment.  Azura hadn’t let herself hope in a long time.  Her obsession with the old manuscript, even approaching Bella and Mortimer hadn’t put this feeling in her chest.  A feeling of lightness, of blossoming hope that was fragile, but nevertheless, it was a start.  She let out a sigh, then lay her head on Rogelio’s shoulder and let sleep take her, for the first time in a long time, her dreams held a bit of color.


Azura had been a little afraid adding someone else to the household might disrupt things a bit, but in truth, Rogelio was proving invaluable, and not just to herself.  He was quite handy and after one of the toilets downstairs sprung a leak for the fourth time that month, he was in there fixing it himself instead of having to call a plumber.

Even Alex and Cassie quite liked him.  Azura often found him chatting with Alex in the morning before school.  He’d have Alex rolling quite a bit with some stories from his youth.

“Nu uh!” Alex exclaimed.  “Did you really?”

Rogelio chuckled lightly.  “I’m afraid so.  My uh… teachers weren’t overly pleased with me, of course.”

Alex giggled then he saw Azura.  “’Zura, Uncle Rog let a bunch of frogs out in the halls in school!”

Azura arched a brow at him.  “He did, did he?”  She grinned.  “And why, pray tell, did he do such a thing?”

Rogelio grinned at her, the look in his eyes making Azura’s cheeks flush.

“Why, to impress a young lady, of course,” he told Alex, turning back to him, winking at Azura.  “Watcher only knows that we poor menfolk are powerless to resist when a girl bats her eyelashes at us and talks about the plight of the poor little creatures in the science room.”

Azura almost choked on her coffee as Alex let out a gagging noise.  “Girls are icky!” he exclaimed.  “And weird!”

“Am I weird?” Azura asked him.

He blinked.  “Oh no, Aunt ‘Zura!  I didn’t mean that you were weird!”

“What about your mom and sister?  Are they weird?”

Alex seemed to think about that for a moment.  “Well, Cassie can be a bit weird at times, but no, I guess not.”  Still thinking, the young boy got up to go get ready for school.

Azura turned to her boyfriend.  “Can we not try to corrupt the poor thing?” she asked with a laugh.  “Alex’s a good boy.”

Rogelio inclined his head, grinning unrepentantly.  “That he is.  And he’ll learn all too well.  Not much longer before he’ll be a hormonal mess as well.  It happens to us all.”

Azura giggled.  “I suppose you have a point there.  Don’t mention that to his mother yet, though.  She’s not ready for him to grow up quite yet.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Rogelio promised.  He watched Azura walk out, needing to get ready to leave for work.

After giving Azura a hug and a steamy kiss before she went out the door, Rogelio wondered out to the dining room table.  Bella and Mortimer had emerged and were eating some breakfast.  Rogelio sat down with the book he’d selected and gave them a smile as he sat down.  “Morning, folks,” he greeted them.

“Morning, Rogelio,” Bella greeted with a smile.  She looked over at Mortimer, a little blush coloring her cheeks while Mortimer gave her a look much as Rogelio had given Azura that morning.

As Rogelio and Mortimer began an animated conversation, Bella got up and excused herself so she could go work in the garden.  She felt a little pang.  Mortimer and Rogelio were of an age, both several years older than her and Azura.  Mortimer had swept her off her feet, much as Rogelio had done to Azura.  But seeing the little hint of gray in their hair, hearing how the two talked of things that neither she nor Azura could understand was a constant reminder of the age difference.  Not that it had stopped any of them, obviously.  But Bella couldn’t help think on it every now and again.  She couldn’t help smiling though when she heard the subject of fishing come up.  Knowing they would be at that discussion for a while, she tuned it out and went out the back door to her garden.


Rogelio stretched and got out of bed.  After their discussion, he and Mortimer had gone fishing together.  Two old guys at the river bank.  It had felt good, though he was feeling his age a bit and they’d both headed to their rooms for a quick nap.  He looked over at the bedside clock and his eyes widened.  Azura was going to be home any moment now!  He ran to his dresser and reached into the back and pulled out the little jewelers’ box.  He had thought about taking her for another date and doing this properly.  But he thought doing it here, at the house would be more intimate.  The Goths were her family and doing it here would have more meaning, he thought.

He heard the door open and slid the box into his pocket then strode out of their room.  He found the love of his life in the kitchen.  It was true what they say: the kitchen is really the heart of the home.  It certainly was in their house.  She looked lost in thought, but when she heard the footsteps and saw him, her face lit up and then she was in his arms, greeting him with a kiss.

“Hi,” she said breathlessly after he held her at arm’s length.

“Hi yourself,” he murmured.  He seemed to be drinking her in with his eyes, his gaze sweeping over her from head to toe.  He was nervous.  He didn’t think he would be.  It felt so right.  He’d never been one to really do things on impulse.  He’d been planning this for a while now, since before she’d asked him to move in.  But now that it was time, he found himself nervous.  But looking at her, feeling that punch in the gut that always seemed to accompany that first glimpse of her each time, he could only smile.  He reached into his pocket even as he knelt down on one knee in front of her.

Azura could only stare at him, not quite computing what she was seeing or hearing.  “Azura Lynn Chroma,” Rogelio began, “I knew from the moment I set eyes on you that you were the one.  It was like a punch straight to my heart.  I never really believed in fairy tales, until I set eyes on you.  You have become my very own fairy tale, my Princess.  Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?  Of sharing the rest of our lives together, however long that may be?”

Nothing came out.  Azura just stood there, unable to speak past the lump that had lodged itself in her throat.  Tears pricked her eyes, making Rogelio’s upturned face blurry.  Her hand had gone to her chest to make sure she still had a heartbeat.  She was fairly certain that her heart had stopped for a moment there.

After what seemed like an eternity for her, but was in reality only a few moments, Azura choked out, “Yes.  Yes, I’ll marry you.”  He slid the ring on her finger, his own eyes shimmering with just a hint of tears as well.

He stood up and they kissed tenderly, Azura letting out a little sob of noise as she tried not to cry in sheer happiness.

With a sudden wild whoop of delight, Azura leapt into Rogelio’s arms!  He looked startled, but he managed to catch her at least.  Older he may have been, but he was still in very good shape.

Cassie, who had been creeping at the edge of the kitchen, not wanting to interrupt the beautiful moment, ran in, cheering for them.  Rogelio grinned, unable to tear his gaze away from Azura’s.  She was going to be his wife.  It still seemed a little unreal to him.  To both of them, he thought, judging by the look in her eyes as well.

He set her down and once again, they were wrapped up in one another’s arms.  Cassie let out a sappy sigh at the table.  “That’s so sweet,” she murmured.


“Maybe we should just elope,” Azura sighed one night a few weeks later.  Between work and the wedding planning, she was a bit overwrought.

“Nonsense,” Bella said briskly.  “You’re almost there.  I wish you would relax a bit more and let us handle things,” she said.  “I promise, it will be beautiful.”

“Oh, I know that,” Azura assured her.  “I do.  I just… I would feel awful leaving it all to you.”

“Azura,” Bella said, putting her hand over her friend’s.  “It’s ok, really.  You’ve been working non-stop lately.  You’re stressed out.  Your wedding is your day.  I want it to be special for you.  So, let me take care of things for a while, alright?”

“Mom’s right, Aunt ‘Zura,” Alex piped up.  He was doing his homework.  “Mom’s good at this kinda stuff, aren’t ya, Mom?”

Bella grinned at her son.  “Yes, yes I am.”

Azura stared between them bemusedly for a moment, then she threw up her hands, laughing.  “Alright, alright.  I’ll leave it in your capable hands, Bella.”

“Excellent!” Bella exclaimed.  “I promise, you won’t regret it.”


The next month or so passed in a whirlwind.  True to her word, Bella took over the wedding plans.  Azura hardly had to lift a finger unless it was just to make a choice between two colors, or two kinds of stem-ware.  It was suspiciously easy.  And before she knew it, the day of her wedding was upon them.

As Bella had promised, things were perfect.  She’d had a wedding arch set up in their backyard, even ordering a beautiful fountain and arrangement of flowers.  It was beautiful.  Azura stood under the arch with Rogelio, their guests looking on.  Azura really left like a Princess, decked out in her light blue gown.  Rogelio looked dashing in a white fedora.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispered.  “You take my breath away, Azura.”

“Oh Rog,” she murmured.  Tears threatened to spill over.  “I-I’m so happy.  Y-you make me so happy.”

As everyone found their seats, Azura and her husband-to-be could only look at one another and both count their lucky stars.

When everyone was seated, the music started.  Swallowing, Azura took Rogelio’s hand in hers and then slid the ring onto his finger.  “With this ring, I thee wed,” she murmured, never taking her eyes off of him.  “I promise to love you, to cherish you, to be your friend and confidante for as long as we both shall live.  I will be there to lift you up and to support you all of our days together.”

Rogelio held her hand and slid the ring onto her finger.  His voice was a bit gruff as he recited his vows.  “With this ring, I thee wed.  I promise to love you, to cherish you, to be your rock and your support.  I swear to you that I will help you paint your world with color once more.  I will be there to lift you up and to support you all of our days together.”

And with a kiss to act as a final seal on their promises to one another, they became Mr. and Mrs. Chroma (Rogelio was only too happy to take Azura’s name as his own).

After the ceremony was the reception.  They started with the cake-cutting.  And then of course there was the feeding each other cake.  Azura’s eyes twinkled.  “Be nice,” she warned her new husband.

“You too,” he said, giving her a wink.  She laughed and the two gently fed each other, both being on their best behavior, if for no other reason than they knew the other would get even.

They made the rounds afterward, sitting and chatting with as many of their guests as possible.  Nancy, Geoff, and their son had come as well as a few people that Azura had met through work.

Shortly after that, Rog and ‘Zura made their escape with the help of Bella who took care of shooing any of the guests out of there.  She told Azura that she and the kids would take care of clean-up.  “It’s your wedding night.  Enjoy it!” Bella said with a wink.

Azura laughed.  “Oh we will!”  Taking her husband’s hand, she led him upstairs.  Once in their room, the two just stood there for a moment, looking at each other.  Then Azura leaned forward.  “Well Mr. Chroma?” she asked.

“Thought you’d never ask, Mrs. Chroma,” Rogelio answered, grinning devilishly.

They changed out of their wedding attire and hopped into bed, giggling like children.

Later on, as Azura lay in her new husband’s arms, she felt his mouth curl into a grin as he whispered in her ear.  “Good night, Mrs. Chroma.”

She grinned back.  “Good night, Mr. Chroma.  Sweet dreams.”

“I’ll be dreaming of you, so of course they will be.”  Flushing, her heart going pitter-pat in her chest, Azura closed her eyes, happier than she could remember being in a long time.  Her dreams held a beautiful sunrise, bringing with it a light wash of color.