Author Topic: Divine Deception -- S4E24: Series Finale  (Read 12453 times)

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E09: The Second Dose: part 1
« Reply #275 on: February 02, 2018, 07:51:50 PM »
I just wanted to thank everybody who has subscribed to Sims3storiestv. I use a specific email account for the blog and haven't looked at it for a while and saw how many people have started following me by email alone.  :)

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E10: The Second Dose: Part 2
« Reply #276 on: February 03, 2018, 09:19:19 PM »
Divine Deception
"The Second Dose: Part 2"


I keep silent as we drive. Matt and I have been searching for his sister all night and to no avail. Matt's keeping a cool exterior, his mother not so much. She's been texting and calling like mad since we broke up to find Chloe close to midnight when she failed to come home. I catch a glimpse of Matt in the corner of my eye. He's calm, collected. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought we were just on some Sunday morning drive. But we aren't and even if he hides behind his mask, I can see that there's a hint of worry in his eyes. I don't comment on it. Partly because I haven't a clue what I should say. Everything that needed to be said I told him during the late hours of the night before the sun decided to rise and what I may have missed is but matter, particles of empty space.

By ten o'clock, we decide, more out of desperation than anything, that maybe Chloe is hanging out with friends at the local fairgrounds. I park the car and Matt's already walking down into the festival before I've put the car in park. I unbuckle my seatbelt, get out and chase after him, my eye peeled for any familiar blondes that look like Chloe.

"She's got to be somewhere," I hear Matt mumble under his breath once I make it to his side.

"Stop blaming yourself," I say softly, bring up a hand and taking his.

"No, it's not my fault, it's theirs," Matt tells me. "Once again Ma and Pa screw over this family with their lies."

I go silent after that and we decide to split up and search the grounds alone.

I feel for Matt, though I can't completely agree with him. His parents may have been keeping a big secret from Chloe, but I was the one who unleashed it.

After the success of getting Matt out of the media spotlight, I tried to turn the shining beam onto Chloe instead. Greedy, sure, but unsuccessful? Not in the slightest. Revealing to the world that Chloe was adopted was my way of putting some distance between the media and Matt.

I stop at the pie eating contest right as the buzzer goes off and four women slam their faces into blueberry and raspberry pies. The last special day I spent with my mother forms in my mind's eye and my body succumbs to a feeling of loneliness.

I had other reasons for exposing Chloe, of course. To pull away mother and daughter, to throw a wrench into that relationship, one that I was refused all those years ago. And I won't deny that it felt good, but that wasn't my prime goal, and Chloe running off was hardly something I expected to happen.

"She's home!" Matt calls from behind me. I wipe the tear that's begun to run down my cheek and turn to him. "Mom just called and Chloe's finally come home."

"That's great news."

Matt gives me a look. "Are you okay?"

"Just... tired. My emotions are getting the better of me." I glance back at the pie eating once more. "My mother and I came to things like this when I was younger. She was more into hotdog eating contests," I tell him with a chuckle. "Just... hit me hard is all."

Matt grabs my hand and gives it a squeeze. "She sounds like an awesome woman."

"The best. I just hope she's looking down on me and understands why I doing what I am."

"I'm sure she's extremely proud of you, Samantha."

I smile cheerlessly as we make it back to the car. Sometimes I wonder if she is happy with my decisions or if she's disappointed that I'm following in her own footsteps even after witnessing everything she had lost.

As we walk into Matt's parents' house back in Appaloosa Plains, I can hear Arthur yelling. From what Matt's guessed, he's probably been lecturing Chloe since the moment she stepped foot back into the house.

When I look past him into the family room, I spot Chloe sitting on the sofa, legs crossed, arms over her chest, anger blossoming on her face. She is not happy and I don't blame her. I think back to the night Vita told me about Sadie.

"ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?" Arthur bellows out of nowhere that even I start.

"Arthur, calm down!" Edie tells him. She's gotten to her feet and now stands in front of him, holding his hands in an attempt to bring the house back to some form of orderly fashion. "The neighbours are going to hear you!"

"BUGGER THE NEIGHBOURS!"

"Arthur!" Edie snaps.

"No, don't tell me to calm down. We've been up all night worrying and she's acting like some ungrateful brat—"

"What? Do you regret choosing me?" Chloe hops to her feet, tears streaking down her cheeks. She doesn't let Arthur—he looks like he's been struck hard in the head with shock by her tone—answer before plowing on. "Well, I guess that makes two of us!"

"That's not what he meant!" Edie tries to stop Chloe, but she's already up the stairs and in her room. The door slams shut behind her with a loud bang. "Oh you've done it now, Arthur."

Ding Dong.

Arthur gives Edie a wave of his hand, a dismissal, and heads out of the room to get the door. Edie stands there, looking as if she's about to burst into tears.

"She'll come to her senses, Mrs. Hamming," I say. It's all I can do not to allow the tension in the air to consume the whole room. Edie wavers in front of me and I add, "She's just in a lot of shock, I think we all are, but I'm sure she'll come around and see how much you really—"

"Look who decided to drop by," Arthur chimes in, cutting me off as he makes his way back into the foyer. A woman follows him in, and not just a woman, a stunning woman.

She has an hourglass figure, long flowing locks the colour of night and a face only supermodels dream of having. I can feel my lips curling as she strides into the room like she owns the joint, her flawless skin sparkling in the light, no signs of age or even a blemish. I have no clue who this woman is, but there is something about her I don't like, even with looks aside. How Arthur prides himself on her appearance, to relieve himself of the daggers Edie was staring at him with earlier or maybe it's the fact that just because this new girl shows up, we are expected to drop whatever we were doing before.

"Alannah!" Edie squeals next to me, pushing me out of the way like I'm some old rag. She dashes for the newcomer and throws her arms around her, embracing her while she sputters in tears and laughter. Tears and laughter? All I've gotten from this woman since I started dating Matt has been a simple hello and a frosty smile, and that's on the best of days.

"Oh Matty-kins!" Alannah says once Edie peels away from her. Alannah's arms are up, ready to take on her next victim and while Matt may not have moved forward to take up the offer, somehow her arms have wrapped around his torso like a vice and begins softly, almost seductively, exploring. I watch in horror—I am completely in awe by what is going on in front of my very eyes. This can't be happening. Who the hell is she?

As she pulls away from Matt and looks at the others—turning her back on me might I add—I spot half a tattoo that looks oddly familiar, though I struggle to remember where exactly I've seen it before.

"My goodness, we weren't expecting you," Edie says, wiping away a tear. "I'll make a pot of coffee. Still two cream, one sweetener, dear?"

While I can see in the mirror that I'm being successful in keeping my emotions in check, it's like a rock has plummeted to the bottom of my gut. Edie loves this girl, anybody could see it and I know for a fact that this is not some long-lost daughter the family keeps hidden from the world.

"Well, this is awkward," Matt says, offering to take my jacket. "Alannah, I'd like you to meet my girlfriend, Samantha. Honey, this is my..."

Matt struggles to find the softest word for what they are that I end up becoming impatient and say it for him.

"Another girlfriend of yours?" I say it like a joke that I find too true to be funny.

"Oh, I wish!" Alannah giggles, giving Matt's cheek a quick caress and taking a seat at the table. "We just wanted different things at different times in our life."

"So an ex," I say more to myself. That's not to say that Alannah hears me. We spend time talkng about their relationship. How they met, how long they stayed together and how they broke up. All of which seems a little too fictional for my liking, or maybe I don't want to believe that they met in a Paris photoshoot under the Eiffel Tower. Or that they almost got married. Or that they broke up, promising to stay as friends and actually do it.

"My gosh, you remember that time at the Boardwalk on the rollercoaster?" she says excitedly. I can see from the way Matt's face reddens that he'd rather I not hear it, but she goes on nonetheless. "So it's one of the coldest days and the park's pretty much empty—"

"We paid to have it to ourselves!" Edie calls from the kitchen.

"—and of course the rollercoaster craps out when it's just the two of us on it"—she pinches Matt's cheek and it rubs me the wrong way—"and we're way up there and the crew are taking their sweet time getting it fixed. We're freezing our butts off and it's snowing and we're shivering. I think we're about to die—"

"It wasn't that cold," Matt clarifies.

"You didn't think that then. So I think we're about to die," Alannah repeats herself, "and so I suggest that we use each other's body heat to keep warm. I end up getting pretty much all my clothes off before this one gets his jakcet open. Would have thought it was his first time." She takes a deep breath and stares into the distance as if reimagining the memory. "Once his shirt is off I end up in his arms, chest against chest and his jacket tight around both of us."

"And then the crew came!"

Alannah shoots Matt a look. "Not before we were done. Honestly, I think they just waited until we were ready to be saved, if you know what I mean."

I shudder at the thought but keep a smile plastered on my face. "Like a fairy tale."

The next two hours are much the same. Special story after story. I want to pull Matt away and ask him if he still has feelings for this woman because it is very obvious by the way she acts that she very much likes him. What with all the special stories and I don't think Alannah has looked at anything other than Matt's face since we sat down. I won't lie. I think I've rolled my eyes so far back into my head that I've actually watched brain cells die. And the laughing. She's been pretty much laughing since she arrived.

Alannah gets up from her seat. "Well I should be going," she says. She gives Edie a hug and is walked to the front door. I grab my coat. I should be leaving as well, though I get a feeling Edie isn't going to give a da*n about that. Alannah says her goodbyes, pecks Matt on the cheek and leaves.

"She is some girl," he says.

"Oh yeah," and I leave as well.

My drive home is uneventful. The temperature has started dropping and flurries begin to fall from the sky. About halfway home I remember that last night I asked Whitman to contact everybody and ask them over to our place to discuss the mission at hand. My eyes sting and I have this deepening desire to call the whole meeting off. I haven't slept, I am frustrated and I have this feeling that Alannah's drop in wasn't the last I will see of her. I choose to swallow my negativity instead. Everybody changed their schedules for this meeting. Best if I don't screw it up.

I get home half an hour later. When I open the door, Nathan is right there to welcome me.

"Deli, you're home—"

I wrap my arms around him and kiss him hard. His soft lips don't move for a moment and then finally he kisses me back. It feels so good to be in his arms, to hear his voice. To be called Deli and not Samantha. He embraces me, holds me so tight that I don't ever want to let go. He has no idea how much I have missed him.

We finally part and he leads me to the living room. I take a seat on the table and he sits right in front of me on the sofa. I don't turn my gaze away from him. I don't want to stop looking at him.

"Are you okay?" he asks me.

"It's been a day," I say and he asks me what happened and I tell him.

I tell him everything from Matt's ex showing up and their whole affair and how yesterday morning I wanted to get the Hammings back together for the sake of the misison, but it seems somehow my aura got more Hammings than I expected.

"And then once I was able to tear that bond between mother and daughter apart, we were sent into this whirlwind. It just came so fast after that."

"You forced it?"

I look over my shoulder. Connie has stopped midstride on her way to the kitchen and glares at me. I try to ask her what she means, but she's beaten me to the punch.

"You destroyed a child's relationship with her parents, her family? Why?"

I give her a look of uncertainty. "Because we needed to get Matt out of the spotlight. By dragging him out and forcing her in, Matt's become yesterday's news."

"And you couldn't have found a different way? Deli, you tore a hole in a family's tapestry, you hurt a young girl!"

I can see from where I sit that Connie's emotions are stirring closer to the surface. I know she's been dealing with a lot lately. She's been uncertain about a lot that's happened especially after Sean's death, and yet her ability to question me rubs me the wrong way. I get up from my seat as she continues.

"Deli, I thought we were trying to gain access to into Paragon, not this... this... cruelty."

"We are, but this way I have nailed two birds with one stone. I'm closer than ever to the Hammings—chasing their daughter to the ends of the earth to make sure she's okay means something—and they have less reason to question my love for their son."

"And the other bird?"

I sigh. "She deserved to know."

I watch as Connie's eyes round in both confusion and sadness.

"What?"

"Chloe deserved to know the truth. There should never have been a secret to break free in the first place. Something like that would hurt a girl if it came out at a time her parents believed was right. The sooner the better."

"You don't think she's hurt now?"

"Oh she's devastated," I say matter-of-factly, "on the edge of her breaking point. But she's not nearly as hurt as she would be when Edie and Arthur finally gathered the courage to break it to her. If anything, I did them all a favour."

"I can't believe I'm hearing this from you," Connie mutters as she looks me up and down. I spot rage, real rage in her eyes and I think I spot maybe even pity. "SHE'S NOT YOU AND EDIE'S NOT VITA!"

"I never said she was," I bite back, my own anger coming to my defense. "This is what Master Lee taught us—"

"This isn't what Master Lee taught us—"

"This is exactly what Master Lee taught us, you were just too blind to see it!" My anger is getting the better of me and I can feel it bubbling like acid at the back of my throat. But I don't hold back. "This is as simple as destruction gets. Make the wrongdoers pay and set life's scale even again!"

Jackie arrives with William, probably to figure out what all the ruckus is about, yet neither of us, Connie or myself, pay her any attention or try to tone it down.

Connie pulls back, visibly offended. Tears streak her cheeks in thick streams and the will that I used to have to coddle Connie and tell her everything is going to be okay is long gone.

"If this is how you want to run this then I don't want to be a part of this thing of yours anymore, Deli."

My jaw tightens. "Then leave," I say. "I'm not holding any of you against your will. If you want to go, there's the door. Don't let me hold you back."

Connie, even while crying, laughs coldly, dismissively, and walks out.



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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E11: Blindsided
« Reply #277 on: February 25, 2018, 10:43:54 AM »
Divine Deception
"Blindsided"


As in life, destruction can become messy if organization isn't a top priority. Yet both would be a much simpler feat if our brains could communicate with our hearts and allow a friendly cooperation that didn't leave us out in left field. Because when we are left out in the open, struggling to find purchase on the path our heart wants to go, we end up getting hit out of nowhere only able to ask ourselves where it all came from.

Matt holds me tight in his arms as we watch the sunrise. We sit in silence just listening to the sound of the water, the singing of the birds, even our own breaths. The cold spell that we were under for the last few weeks has broken and Autumn has returned, sweater weather among us again.

I rest my head on Matt's chest, listening to his heartbeat and feeling his warm breath tickle my neck and ear. As the sun is just peeking over the horizon, I get a glimpse of Connie in my mind's eye. She was such a nature lover and sunrises were things she made sure she caught at least once a week. I still haven't heard from her since that night a few weeks ago. I've called her, left voice messages and even sent her a few texts, but I've gotten nothing in response, and something tells me that I won't be hearing from her in a long time.

Matt moves around behind me and moves his hand so that it is right in front of my face. Palm up, I spot the diamond ring glittering in the golden light.

"What is this?" is what I want to say, but nothing comes out from my mouth other than a squeaky sound I have no other description for. Matt's gotten up from the bench and kneels down in front of me, taking my hand in his. My mind knows what he is doing, I've seen this happen in countless romance films, television shows, books, but to experience it right here and now, it makes absolutely no sense.

"Samantha, honey—"

"What are you doing?" I am finally able to say, cutting cleanly across him.

He puts up a hand to silence me. "I know our time together has been a short one and in that time we have done a lot. And in that short amount of time, I have come to the realization of how much I love you."

"Matt—"

He raises his hand again. "You're not here for my money. My family, as crazy as they are, hasn't forced you to run down the road in an attempt to save your sanity. Spending all of that night to help find my sister, who I know isn't the kindest of girls out there... With everything that's gone on, you're still here and that means the world to me. That also made it very clear how much we love each other."

"But—"

"You are perfect and I'd be honoured, so privileged if you accepted this proposal to be my wife."

A smile tickles the corners of my lips, though I am able to stifle the chuckle that follows. He has to be joking. We haven't known each other for very long, how can he know that we are meant to be? A part of me wants to think that he wants to marry me as some dig at his parents, especially his mother just to say that he's a grown man, that he can make his own decisions without Edie interfering.

But as I look at his face, look into those grey eyes of his, I know deep down he means every word he's saying. He truly loves me and wants me to be his wife not as some sick joke or a way to break free from his mother's grasp. But because he wants to spend the rest of his life with me.

Tight, unbreakable knots of unpleasant emotions like fear, anxiety and confusion twist the way from my rib cage all the way down to the pit of my stomach. Dead cold dread plummets down to my toes and it's as if a block of ice has been slammed into my shoulders. Marry him? My ears are pulsing with blood so loud that I don't hear him, though I can read his lips when he asks me for my hand.

Suddenly my feet and legs are moving of their own accord. "I can't do this," I say and I am on my feet. I listen to Matt who questions me as I walk back to my car. He's asking me what's wrong, what's going on. I can hear in his voice alone how upset he is, yet I don't answer any of his questions. The knots in my stomach attach to something else, a hatred for myself.

I glance over my shoulder once I stop hearing Matt's shuffling footsteps behind me. He's leaning up against a wooden structure, his face buried, but even so, I can see how much I've upset him.

"I'm sorry," I whisper to him even if I know he won't hear a word. He's dropped to the sandy ground, looking at the glowing sun like we were supposed to be doing and I make it to my car. I unlock it and get inside like a robot, my legs and arms moving so sharply and infused with tension that I don't even realize that I have cuts in the palms of my hands from my nails digging in. I start the car up, get back on the main road and then I am driving, driving where? I don't have a clue because my mind is swimming with questions and emotions and I can't for the life of me focus on one thing. I may have just ruined everything we have all put together. Connie was the beginning of this crap ball and the simplest of things I have ever had to do—Just say yes!—may have just turned into the finishing blow.

***

"And then right there he asks me out of the blue!" I say to Nathan as I stare out at Bridgeport.

Somehow I managed to get home. I didn't arrive because this was where I wanted to end up. Somehow, my robotic limbs went into their own control and decided this was the safest place for me. Thankfully, nobody was home when I arrived. Well, other than Nathan. But nobody else. No Jackie, no Whitman, not even William. I don't want anybody to see me like this, not now. I'm shaking uncontrollably and I have this strong feeling that I need to keep moving because if I don't something is actually going to hit me.

"I don't know what I am doing anymore," I babble. "I mean, I thought I did, but who could have seen marriage coming so early on? I wanted to get close to the family, sure, hell, maybe marriage if it was down the road, I don't know. How was I supposed to see that coming?"

"Deli—"

I can hear Nathan and know he wants to say something to me, but I need, just need to get this out if my system. "And the worst part is, all I can see, all I have seen since I said no to Matt, is my father asking my mother to marry him and Sadie having no problem with it. She said yes like it was nothing and it didn't matter what she felt inside, on the outside, she probably looked like this perfect destroyer able to worm her way into the Alto family. I can see it, I can see it! Yet here I am, the same thing happens to me and why does it feel like a tornado has met with a volcano?"

"Deli," Nathan says again and this time I don't prattle on over him. I've worked myself into a sweat and I am sure my face may slowly be turning blue.

I turn around and see Nathan sitting on one of the patio chairs. He must have gotten tired of listening to me rage because the last time I saw him he was standing and at the edge of the pool. How long have I been going off for?

"Why are you getting so upset? Isn't this what you wanted?" he asks me and there's a part of me that wants to take his head off for him. Hasn't he been listening to me? But I choose not to. I'm sure I sound like a blubbering mental patient and while I may know what I am thinking and saying, probably Nathan can't understand most of what has come out of my mouth.

I take a deep breath. "I wanted to get close to the family, yes, but marriage... It's not something that really crossed my mind. And there Matt was and asks me out of nowhere. How is a girl supposed to react to that?"

Nathan smirks as he gets down on his one knee and takes my hand.

"Oh, bloody hell, not you too." I am meant to say it under my breath, but it comes out in full force. Nathan doesn't get upset, though. He just laughs it off as he pulls a little black box from his trouser pocket.

"Delilah Lawrence, I know how much we've been struggling lately and how this personal mission has been a challenge, but I want you to know how much I love you. We have been through a lot of heavy work, we've seen each other in our best and our worst and we have a beautiful son together. And there is nothing I want more than to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"

A different handful of emotions spring through my body. Happiness, ease and love to name a few. The tightly wound knots in my stomach have been soothed away and as Nathan lightly squeezes my hand, I can't do anything but say, "Yes, yes, Nathan, I will marry you."

Nathan slips the ring on my finger and pulls me into a loving embrace, one that is miles ahead of anything Matt has ever done for me. Nathan kisses me and I can feel tears streaking down my face. I'm sure I look like a mess, that this isn't what we should be looking back on in the years and years to come.

"And what should I do about Matt?" I ask, wiping my face with the sleeve of my sweater. Nathan tilts my chin up so that we are looking each other in the eyes.

"Marry the S.O.B. and finish this. That way we can be together, all of us, as a family."

"You don't think I'm crazy?"

Nathan grins. "I knew there was always something off about you since the moment we met. And I've never loved you more."

I make it across town to Matt's house and give the front door a knock. I tried calling him and sending him texts, getting him hasn't been an easy feat, however. All calls go straight to voicemail and texts never get a reply. It seems Connie isn't the only one I have offended as of late. Maybe I can mend this broken fence before it's too late, though.

The door opens and the moment the light hits his face, I know he's still angry with me. How can't he be? He put everything he had on the line for me and I ran off. His following words struggle to change my thoughts.

"What do you want?"

"I deserve that," I say. Matt doesn't say anything to disagree or make me feel better and I don't expect him to. "I am sorry for running off this morning. I was caught off guard and scared and..." I stop making the excuse and go straight to putting brand new planks back on the fence posts. "Yes, Matthew Hamming, yes, I will marry you."

I expect that he is going to slam the door in my face or tell me off again, make a joke, laugh in my face, I don't know. My judgment has been a little off lately. So when Matt takes me in his arms and kisses me, I am a little taken aback. He's kissing me hard, his arms around me like a vice and I can taste the alcohol on his lips. I don't hold back. I kiss him back, pushing him into the house and kicking the door closed behind me. I push him away for a moment, just enough time to pull off my coat and reveal a special piece of lingerie that I bought just for this moment. I observe Matt, his face brightening like a little boy on Christmas morning. The moment my coat hits the floor, he's next to me, his arms around my body and he's kissing me. He's kissing my lips, my neck, my collarbone. My hair is pulled out from my ponytail and red locks shuffle down to my shoulders.

Somehow, I don't even know how we managed to do it, we end up in Matt's bedroom, my legs wrapped around him. I have pulled his shirt off, unbuttoning it in one quick yank. It drops to the floor and Matt spins me and we fall until my back hits the soft surface of his mattress. I gasp, the most air I've gotten since I stepped foot inside and Matt is crawling on top of me. Even for how warm his chest is as it glides over mine, it still has the ability to send a shiver up my spine. My hands run through his silky brown hair as he focuses on my neck. We both slip off the edge of the bed but neither of us separate. We're on the floor and he's again on top of me and I just stare at the ceiling, reminded that the fence I thought was once broken has been fixed and that finally my heart and brain are trying to work together. I close my eyes and think about Nathan.

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E11: Blindsided
« Reply #278 on: April 22, 2018, 08:13:38 PM »
Hey guys,

I am coming back soon. Since the mid-season break, I have been piecing everything together and just need to add the finishing touches.

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E12: Engage
« Reply #279 on: June 10, 2018, 11:54:52 AM »
Divine Deception
"Engage"


When I was young, the word engage meant one thing and one thing only: to marry. As little girls, from the moment the word engage comes into our lives we fixate on every detail that has any relevance to our perfect day—I'd spent hours, days, weeks, years. The biggest flowers my petite hands could carry, Vita's makeup slathered on my innocent face and mounds and mounds of jewelry I'd snuck from Vita's music box—cheap, brittle plastic to fine gold. Anything that could prepare me for the day that changes my life for the very best. Yet as I get older, engage now has a different meaning. It means to move forward, and as the days pass me, I find that while the trek can be more than difficult sometimes, the best thing is to keep pressing forward in hopes of finding complete happiness.

Matt stumbles across the wood floor and I wake with a jerk. He's at the end of the bed, having just done up his pants and is now putting on a pair of socks. His back is to me.

"Where are you going?" I ask him.

"Out."

A cool breeze comes through the open window and I pull the blanket closer to my body. "We have the engagement photo shoot this afternoon. You didn't forget, did you?"

"No, I'll be there." His voice is tight, tense. His frustration comes in full tilt as he hauls on his socks that struggle to slide up his damp feet. A hole tears in his heel. "Just my luck!"

Watching him yank it off and toss it on the floor, my eyes venture to the tattoo on his back. I've been pondering it for some days now, though for the life of me I haven't been able to put a finger on where I've seen it before. Now it hits me.

"Where are you going anyway?"

"Out I said."

I was hoping he'd have let on where exactly. Matt's been especially secretive lately and I don't like it. And now knowing where I saw that tattoo before... Alannah has the same one on her back. I bite the inside of my lip before Matt turns and pecks me on the cheek.

"I won't be late, I promise," he tells me and leaves the room. Moments later, I hear the front door open and close again.

***


I make it to the photo shoot with much time to spare. Men and women are at my beck and call. One hands me my dress—it's not my wedding dress, but it is going to be today!—and tells me to get ready in a nearby tent where a stylist is going to do my hair and makeup. I get changed as fast as I can. It seems that since I've arrived people are telling me I'm not moving fast enough. The director—Maggie something—is rather snarky for a woman who is getting a crap ton of money and I am reminded time and time again about how she's one of the best in the industry. Stars line up for months in advance to book her and that I should be so grateful that Matt managed to get her on such short notice.

"Speaking of which, where is he?" she snaps, looking back and forth from her watch to her phone.

My stylist has just finished with my makeup and tells me that I am ready for action. "Why don't I give him a call?" I say and leave the tent.

"Make sure he knows that we are on a strict schedule, Samantha. I don't have time for this nonsense. He should know better! And make sure none of the paparazzi are creepin' around. This photoshoot is my exclusive!"

I give her a wave—I want to give her something else, honestly—and make it out to the quiet of the forest. I call his number and he doesn't answer. Actually, upon my second attempt, he declines it. One ring and then cut off? I don't have an easy feel in my stomach. I felt it when he left this morning and I've been feeling it since the moment I met his old girlfriend. Was he at Alannah's right now? I run my hand along the back of my neck as the thought nags at me.

I notice movement up ahead behind a line of trees. I have to actually force myself from rolling my eyes and sighing heavily. Paparazzi are annoying even if they are just doing what their jobs entail, but here, out here in the middle of nowhere, how far are they going to follow us? I can already hear Snarkypants inside bickering in my ear if one of these rats gets past me.

"This lot is off limits," I say as the man steps into view. I trace him with my eyes as something doesn't seem right. He's decked out in a tuxedo, freshly pressed and he's lacking a camera of any kind. I don't let that pull me up short. I of all people know cameras are the size of walnuts now. He could just be hiding one in his pocket or maybe it's small enough to carry on a ring. I close the space between us.

As I do, the more I can see. He's rather tall, a few inches taller than me. Actually, he's the same height as Matt. I feel my eyebrows narrow on their own, shading the hint of confusion in my eyes.

"Matt?" I finally say. I'm feet from him now and I can see his grey eyes and the way they crinkle when he smiles at me. "You got your hair cut."

He takes my hands in his. "Well, I didn't want to ruin the surprise."

This must have been where he went so early this morning. He'd gone to get cleaned up, not headed over to Alannah's. A nagging voice at the back of my brain reminds me that he could have done both—how long does a haircut really take?—but I refuse to listen to it. I'm just happy he's here.

"I didn't think you were coming," I mumble partly under my breath.

Before Matt can answer, the sound of rushing footsteps through the long grass catches both of our attention.

"Are you two about ready?" Glancing over my shoulder, I spot Snarkypants. "Our time is limited and while you may have all the time in the world, Mr. Hamming, I follow a schedule of precise structure if you catch my drift."

Matt pulls me to his side, his arm around my shoulders in a protective gesture. "Of course, Margarette. I'm terribly sorry. You know how traffic out of the city can be this time of day."

Snarkypants doesn't fall for Matt's boyish charm. "Let's get this started then. The two of you, over there." She points at the open of a line of trees.

"Keep your hands held, I like that," she continues as we all get closer to the marker. Men and women with cameras, lights and other things I don't have names for, follow suit right behind her. When she stops, they all come to a halt and when she moves, they are all hightailing it behind her.

"Here?" Matt asks. There's a little green sticker on the grass that the crew must have placed earlier. "This marker, Margarette?"

"Yes, yes," she tells him, her patience beginning to wear thin. "If you had been here on time, you would know this. I want the two of you to talk from that marker to the other one a few feet ahead of you."

I notice another green sticker five feet away.

"Okay, good, now, Samantha, dear, look over your shoulder at the camera and smile—happy, happy, happy—like you've just hit the jackpot. Beautiful. Oh, for goodness sake, Matt. You're a model! Loosen up a bit. Stop being so rigid and let it come naturally!"

We walk the line from marker to marker for what feels like a hundred times and finally we are told that we can move on to the next stage.

The location is filled with an assortment of props brought my Snarkypants and her crew. From swings to loveseats and heart-shaped pillows and rose petals. Snarkypants leads us to a swinging loveseat first.

"C'mon, c'mon, we don't have all day," she pesters me as I struggle to walk across the soft grass in my heels. It must have rained last night because each step I take, I sink a bit lower into the ground. "It's supposed to rain again this evening and we don't want to be caught in that, do we?"

I try to go quicker and I trip over my dress. I am falling, hands splayed out to protect anything I can once I hit the ground. I can already hear Snarkypants ranting and raving about what a useless mule I am and how my falling is going to disrupt her whole schedule. Matt throws open his arms and I fall into them.

"That was pure gold, Samantha!" Snarkypants shrieks from behind me in excitement. "Ah! Mistakes can be such amazing things and we got every shot of it!"

We've made it to the loveseat and take our seats.

"That's what we want, you two," she goes on. "Stop pretending to be in love. Be in love. Smiles are just smiles. I want to see the emotion behind them or else what good are they?"

Matt goes to saw something, but Snarkypants stops him by lifting her hand.

"Rhetorical, Mr. Hamming. Now, get close to each other and look at each other in the eyes."

"I want you to think about that moment when you looked at each other and thought that they were the person you loved. That you knew this was the person you wanted to marry. I want you to think about that. C'mon, do it!"

I turn to look into Matt's grey eyes. For a moment I see him at the beach, the sunset behind him and the chilly air around us. When he had asked me to marry him and I couldn't help but think it was all a joke. I am looking at those same eyes again now. This time, however, I am not running away. I am not dashing back to my car and racing off back home.

As if by magic, Nathan's face morphs onto Matt's head and I am staring at him instead. I can hear his voice again.

"Marry the S.O.B. and finish this. That way we can be together, all of us, as a family."

"There it is," Snarkypants says as the cameras are clicking away like mad. "That's the emotion we are looking for, the real love that is going to make these pictures something to remember."

As we are led to the final marker, I ask Matt, "So, is your hair why you are late?"

Matt shrugs. "It's part of it."

That nagging gut feeling comes back and I regret bringing Matt's lateness back up again.

"I also went over to my parents to tell them the good news."

Snarkypants points repeatedly at the green sticker at the back of a towering tree. "These photos are more physical. We want love--hell, we want lust. We want passion between the two fo you. Not to the point that you're ripping each other's clothes off but something that hints to it. I want you two to hold each other and kiss and fall for one another again and again and again."

"Did it go well?" I ask Matt, ignoring Snarkypants. I put both my hands around his neck and as if on cue, he puts his hands on my hips.

"It could have gone better," Matt says with a  chuckle. It's not a cheerful chuckle, though and for some reason, I can't figure out, I am actually surprised. I shouldn't be. This marriage was as much a shock to me. I can only imagine what his family is thinking back home.

"Could have gone better?" I urge him.

"Closer, you two!" Snarkypants goes off again. "I want to feel this!"

Both Matt and I disregard her. I can sense that she's getting annoyed again, but the cameras are clicking manically so that's a good sign.

"It's nothing."

I shake my head in disagreement. "It's not nothing, Matt. We are partners now and we shouldn't have secrets between us."

"Well, let's just say that my mother didn't take the news well," he says and I can feel his grip behind tighter on my hips as if urging me, holding me from getting fed up and leaving. I have no inclination of leaving, or that I believed Edie would take the news no other way.

In my mind's eye, I can see her, bickering and lecturing Matt about what a terrible idea it is to marry somebody he's just met. That I am all wrong for him and maybe that Alannah is perfect. Hell, they even have matching tattoos! But it's her expression that seems to burn in the back of my brain. Edie's expression turning stony as Matt tells her the news. How her crows feet are the only cracks in her otherwise hard exterior. That I am the demon girl trying to steal her precious boy from her loving arms. Jackie told me this family was going to be hard to break into, but I never expected this.

"You're upset," Matt says, more as an assumption than a question.

Yes and no, but I shake my head regardless. "All I care about is you, and if your mother can't see that then that's how it is." Between us, we share a grim look of understanding.

It begins to pour rain. Thunder claps behind thick rolling clouds and a flash of lightning gets Snarkypants and her crew antsy.

"That's it for today!" she says before ordering her crew to clean up their things and load it back into their truck.

Matt still holds me in his concerningly frank gaze. "Then that's how it is because all I care about is you too." He lifts me into his arms and kisses me. This isn't a kiss like for the photoshoot, though. This kiss had love and emotion in it. Like we are unbreakable. Too bad that Snarkypants couldn't be here now, shooting away. She'd get everything she ever wanted.

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E13: Pure, White and Limited Lace
« Reply #280 on: June 28, 2018, 01:35:45 PM »
Divine Deception
"Pure, White and Limited Lace"


I make a turn onto the road that leads me to Edie's house with caution. I've only travelled to Appaloosa Plains a handful of times, namely to meet up with Matt and his family, though now I've come to terms with how much the weather differs from home. Winter has been tiptoeing into autumn's throne, yet while Bridgeport has been trickled with small snowflakes that melt the moment they touch the ground, here it seems they weren't so lucky. Drifts hedge along the sidewalks and my tires fight me if I hit the gas a little too hard.

It has a way of making me smirk, though. The closer I get to Edie and Arthur's house, the colder it gets. I imagine that Edie's summoning this cold weather by her own bitterness. From what I heard a week ago, she wasn't at all impressed with Matt's decision to propose to me. I can't say I'm shocked by this. If anything, I should have expected worse. Edie sitting outside the house, angry, making it snow like she's some lost sour ice queen from the Himalayan mountains...

I park in the driveway and make my way to the front door. Maybe we can all keep it civil today at least. It's dress fitting day and this is supposed to be the day the women bond.

Bond, I ponder as I knock on the door. If any of us can hit a bonding moment, I will take it as a win. We haven't even left the property and there is already some tension. Exclude me from the situation for a moment and there is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. Chloe is supposed to come with us to the fitting to get herself measured up and let's just say that getting her to agree to come took a lot of convincing. Chloe and I have never been one to see eye to eye, though it's not my presence that bothers her. From what Matt told me, Chloe hasn't been very friendly to her mother since she learned that she was adopted.

I knock on the door again and wait.

I can't say I blame the poor girl, a lot has been thrown at her in such little time, but sometimes the best a teen can get is some humble pie.

I get impatient and tired of waiting and head inside on my own. The moment I close the door behind me, I hear a fit of laughter. In that moment, my fists ball up and my knuckles turn white. I know that laugh. I don't even need to see her face to know that she's there and when I take a step into the dining room, my assumptions all come together.

Alannah.

Alannah and Edie are having coffees, chatting away like they still haven't seen me. Edie makes complete eye contact with me and disregards me, prattling on about mundane things. Things like the women at her book club and what they were wearing or something like that.

My jaw sets on its own painfully, but I don't succumb to it. I just stare at Alannah, trying to understand why she's there. Oh I know why she's there. Oh do I ever! Nobody's said a thing and I can already hear the words coming out of Edie's mouth. That she has more important things to do today, that maybe we should reschedule the fitting. Alannah's isn't supposed to be here, yet here she is, like a tourist, ready to muck the day all up.

"Purple with blue?" Alannah goes on, chuckling through her words like Edie's said a gut-busting joke. She's almost as corny as bad theatre.

"Oh, Samantha, you're here," Edie says, her lips still to her coffee cup. She brings it down. "Good morning."

"Good morning," I try to say cheerfully, but I struggle as smouldering the edge of my tone.

"Alannah, you remember Samantha," Edie says, motioning towards me.

"Ah yes, Matthew's girlfriend."

"Actually..." I raise my hand and wiggle the diamond ring in the light. Even as the reflections dance across Alannah's face, I watch her expression darken. I get giddy. I can't help it.

Edie pipes up immediately. "Yes, see, Alannah, you've been out of town for a while so you wouldn't know that Matthew proposed a couple of weeks ago." She turns her attention back to me. "Samantha, I thought we were meeting at the boutique at ten."

I cock an eyebrow. "No, we agreed that I would pick you up and it's ten now."

I hear footsteps upstairs and then Chloe is coming down.

"Oh, I am so sorry," Edie begins, getting up from her seat. "I'm sure you can understand how it may have gotten lost in translation." She glances back at Alannah. "You should come too. I'm sure Samatha here wouldn't mind and we'd love to have your company. Wouldn't we, dear?"

I smile and nod, but I don't say anything. I say good morning to Chloe and head outside, straight for my car and wait.

And so it begins.

The drive to the wedding shop is a silent one. I am left alone with my own thoughts—frustration, second guesses and analyzing—since Alannah offered to drive Edie and Chloe in her Range Rover. Since there wouldn't be enough in my car for all of them, I just got in and drove off. I just hope they have the intuition to make it to our destination. I can't help but feel that they'll drive off somewhere else completely and say how they got lost and wanted to make use of a wasted day.

To say the least, I am surprised when they pull up behind me and park. I get out of my car and meet them as they huddle under the overhang at the main entrance.

"Ugh, where the hell are we anyway?" Edie mumbles to Alannah just loud enough for me to overhear. "Is this neighbourhood even safe? I thought we'd be going to New Bride Boutique not this sham of a place. There's a beautiful store in the village owned by one of the very best designers."

Alannah's eyes light up. "Markee? On the corner of Third?" She doesn't wait for Edie's answer. "Oh my gosh, his spring line last year was to die for!"

Edie's nodding continuously as we make our way inside and head for the elevator. "Makes this place look like quite the crapshack if you ask me."

By the time I make it out of the elevator, I can taste blood. I've torn the inside of my cheek from biting too hard.

The thought is removed from my mind as the fitting room opens up in front of us. Dresses and tuxedos are lined up along the one wall, some on display pedestals while others gather in front of a wall to ceiling mirror. Sconces stick out from the slick walls and light the room in what looks like candlelight while flowers in the largest of vases pervade the air in the sweetest of scents.

"Good morning, ladies," an old woman says, stepping out from the small room in the back. She looks to be in her late sixties with a do from the same era. She lends out a timid hand to Alannah, the first in line. "You must be Samantha, the gushing bride."

"You have got to be kidding me," I mutter under my breath. It seems ever since I got engaged to Matt that I stepped into an episode of The Twilight Zone. It's one thing to be caught in Edie's malice or Alannah's desperation, but this? I clear my throat and Alannah takes it as he cue to step away. "Actually, I'm Samantha."

The old woman's eye round and her body stiffens so much that I can actually see it. "Oh, I'm sorry," she says half-heartedly, and just by the way she says it, I know she is more embarrassed than anything. She takes my hand to shake. "I'm Glinda." She then turns me to the line of dresses and begins telling me about the different materials and the types. She seems to want to move on from the awkwardness even more than I do.

"I know when we first spoke that you were more interested in something less poofy. Gone are the days that women want to look like Disney princesses. Today they want to look sophisticated."

I raise my eyebrows. "Well, I just don't want to have to rely on five women when needing to use the washroom."

"Then this might be just up your alley." Glinda points at a dress on the stand. "This is one of our newest additions, came from New Bride Boutique in the village."

While Glinda goes on, I get a sickly feeling in the pit of my stomach as I trace the dress with my eyes, noticing the overabundance of lace. "No," I say, stopping her from her spiel. "Too much lace."

"Lace is very much in, m'dear."

I shoot her a look. "I don't care what's in, I don't want it." I can see from the way Glinda's face hardens that I've offended her. "Lace was my mother's wish to wear on her wedding day and I won't take that away from her." I catch a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror and see that my exterior looks like it is made of stone. My insides feel like hell. If I take something of this quantity, I know all I will be thinking about is Sadie and imagining what she would look like in it. I can't be that greedy.

"I have the same dress made out of silk instead. Please try it on," Glinda says.

While she heads to the back room, I run a finger across the lacy ends of the dress and remember when my mother and I were so excited that day after Vic proposed to her. It feels like a lifetime away...

I am pulled from my thoughts as somebody behind me is muttering and whimpering. As I glance over my shoulder, I see Alannah pulling off dresses from the rack and putting them against herself, probably imagining herself decked out in one.

When Glinda returns, she helps me into an assortment of dresses and zips up the backs for each one. Some are poofy, some are slim. Some have multiple layers that I struggle to see where my feet are. Glinda mentions that I shouldn't cut off my nose to spite my face, that I should at least try each type of dress to make sure what I want is actually what I want.

"This is your special day, you want everything to be perfect."

So I try on each one and end up conflicted on one of the poofier ones and the one Glinda suggested earlier.

"I'll make measurements on each one and then you can decide." Glinda's gets her needles and gets down to the floor where she inserts them into the dress.

Chloe and Edie sit behind me, Chloe leafing through a bridal magazine absently. I can see from her face alone that just being sedentary in her mother's presence is more of a chore than anything. Edie's on her phone, clicking away to her heart's desire. From how she's sitting, it's almost as if she wants me to see that she's searching over the New Bride Boutique website.

"You know, Samantha, the more I think about it, I'm sure you will agree that this little shop is perfect for somebody like you, but for somebody like myself..." She takes a deep breath, contemplating. "I can't thank you enough for inviting us along for this grand adventure, but I feel I've seen these dresses thousands of times over."

I smile a fake smile. "Well, you know best, Edie."

"It's just that I can also look through their selection of jewellery while I'm there and there would be more staff on hand. We wouldn't be waiting."

"Sorry," Glinda says under her breath and catches my eye in the mirror. I can't tell if her apology comes from her inability to be at Edie's beck and call or that this is the family I am marrying into.

"Do you ever stop?"

I may be thinking it, but I am not the one who says it. My eyes wander across the looking glass until I see Chloe glaring at Edie.

"Clearly, you don't share the enthusiasm Matthew and Samantha do—"

"I do!"

"Will you stop lying?" Chloe cuts cleaning across her mother. "You get like this with everybody Matthew ever gets serious with and here you go again! You are the most selfish person I have ever met and maybe if you thought about somebody, anybody, other than yourself for once, we wouldn't be where we are now!"

Glinda's trying to keep her focus, but her hands shake next to me as she's still putting pins in the dress. She accidentally stabs me in the ankle when Chloe kicks back her chair and runs off. Edie gets to her feet fast, calling for her, but doesn't go after her. Alannah is at her side to comfort her. Nobody goes after Chloe.

It takes some time, but I finally find her hiding in a back room.

"There you are," I say, stumbling through the door in an attempt to get closer to Chloe. The dress may not be overly puffy, but the train twists around my ankles with every step. The corset, while tight around my rib cage—I have a hard time bending over—wants to slip down my torso.

"I can't take them anymore," Chloe mumbles as I finally make it to her side. She's sitting on the floor, curled up, knees close together and her arms around herself like a vice. I'm waiting for her to begin rocking back and forth. "You should be so lucky you don't have to deal with yours anymore."

I'm standing next to her now, though I struggle to get any closer. What she's said and the fact that she doesn't seem to be able to expose one slice of remorse... It's hard, but I know how much harder it is to be a teenager, to realize the power of the things that come out of their mouths. That what feels like a simple offhanded comment could actually tear somebody apart. I've always had a hard time speaking with Chloe from the moment we met and it's only now that I realize why:

She's me.

I crouch down to Chloe's level, as far as my dress will allow me anyway. "You're exactly like a friend of mine when we were younger." I speak softly and brush a few of Chloe's strands off her shoulder. "Her name was Deli and her mother too kept a lot of secrets from her."

Chloe rolls her eyes. "And let me guess, now they're the best of friends because of forgiveness."

I press my lips together. "No," I say simply. "Deli's mother told her and everything was blown out of proportion. Deli said some of the nastiest things she wished she could take back to this very day because little did she know that those words would be the last things her mother would hear from her. She's always carried that regret around with her because in a way she feels her mother died from a broken heart."

"I just don't think she will understand," she mutters, unable to hold my eye contact.

"Of course she will. She's your mother and I know how hard it is to see sometimes, but she loves you and your brother more than anything in the whole world."

"But how is she going to act when I tell her? You've seen how she scrutinizes everybody's flaws."

"Your mother does that because she cares. Besides, I'm sure she understands why you'd be angry—"

"Not that," Chloe corrects me. "How is she going to understand that I didn't mean for it to happen when I ran off? I was just scared, wanted somebody to love me."

My eyebrows knit together. "What do you mean, Chloe?"

Chloe's eyes finally connect with mine and hold barely-controlled panic, some much it almost seems contagious. "I'm pregnant."

I feel as if I've been teleported back in time. I'm back on that hospital bed, looking up at the doctor on Christmas Eve. He's just told me that I'm pregnant with William and in that moment I don't have a clue what I am going to do. My breath steels in my throat and it takes a moment for me to remember to breathe. When I do, I am back inside the bridal shop, looking at Chloe.

"It will come as a shock to her, but she will get past it and she will be there to support you," I tell her. "And if she isn't, Chloe, I will be. You won't have to go through this alone."

Tears pool in Chloe's eyes and then stream down her cheeks. Then she leans forward and hugs me. Soon she begins to sob in my arms. For a brief moment, I am back on my real mother's porch in the coldest of nights. I bang on the door and Sadie opens up. And then I was exactly where Chloe is now.

"Are we ready to continue?" Glinda asks half an hour later as Chloe and I return to the room.

I nod. "I think so."

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E14: Modern and Historic
« Reply #281 on: July 04, 2018, 03:13:15 PM »
Divine Deception
"Modern and Historic"


"The modern and the historic—two pieces of time. While one repeats itself, the other engages forward, pushing the boundaries of what life is today."

I look up ahead of me. Edie is standing in front of Matthew and me, her champagne glass raised and she speaks in such a harmonious way to the crowd around her that I actually for a moment think she cares. Proud, domineering in the most motherly sense of the word, though even from where I sit, which is in a throne-like chair next to Matthew on a stage of a landing in front of everybody, I can see how hard she is working at keeping her emotions in check.

"When I first sat down to prepare tonight's events, I couldn't part with the realization that we would be merging two lives into one. Our pasts, our presents and the love between a man and a woman."

Yes, I can't quite get past it either: Edie taking the time out of her busy schedule to organize an engagement party for her son and the woman she's made it very clear she's not that thrilled about having around. Men and women, friends of Matthew's have travelled from all over the world to come here and celebrate our love and our commitment to one another.

"Tonight not only gathers friends from here and far," Edie goes on. "Tonight also celebrates my son Matthew's engagement to the charming and captivating Samantha Millens." She gestures to me with her glass and the room erupts in one big applause. "It's every mother's dream that her son finds a girl that makes him happy and this mother isn't at all disappointed. Samantha has been a part of our lives for only a little while, and while I was concerned at first about the possibility of a lacking relationship with my son, she has proved herself worthy of being in this family."

I can't tell anymore. Is she faking sincerity or does she mean every word she breathes? I haven't spoken much with her since the little episode back on the day of our dress fittings, but maybe after I was able to close in on Chloe, it somehow brought Edie and me closer.

"So welcome to the family, Samantha!" Edie raises her glass even higher and the crowd follows in sync. "As anybody will tell you, proving oneself past this old bird takes something more than talent. It takes determination and love and you've surpassed my every expectation. I hope for the two of you the best."

There is clinking of flutes and wine glasses all around the room and Matt's hand goes over mine, encasing it and giving it a firm squeeze. I turn to meet his eyes and we kiss.

As I pull away, I spot Arthur emptying his glass in one quick swig. I haven't seen much of him lately, this being the only occasion since the engagement really, though the moment I saw him, he reeked of alcohol. I never knew of him to be a heavy drinker, but as of late he's been in one hell of a drinking spirit. Honestly, had it been Edie, I could have understood it: her losing her son to me. His father's problem, however? I can't quite say. Jackie hasn't mentioned anything to me either. She was the first to tell me to be wary of Edie, but that Arthur would be a smooth sail so to speak. Jackie also didn't say anything last night when she called me over. She did, however, let me know that to further our progress into Paragon that I would need to plant a bug into the Hamming household.

"And from now going forward, Samantha dear, I look forward to getting to know everything about you, day in and day out. Actually, if you wouldn't mind, I would love to start now. Indulge me in a little chat, would you?"

"Who could say no to that?" I say and take a sip from my own drink. Matt offers to take it from me and I kiss him.

I follow Edie away from the party. She leads me to an elevator that shoots us up a level in what feels like a snap of the fingers and then she heads down the hall to the only door.

"This was our family home when Matthew and Chloe were young," she says, opening the door and motioning for me to step inside. Once I do, she closes the door behind us.

Red walls surround me, bordered by flame wallpaper and Hot Wheel posters. Little toy cars huddle in a milk crate and bigger models are displayed above in an orderly fashion. It doesn't take me long to realize this must have been Matthew's bedroom when he was a child.

"I wanted to show you something," Edie says as she sits on the end of the bed. She pats the spot next to her. She opens a photo album.

As I get closer, I notice photographs of a little boy with a buzz cut playing in the rain, swimming in an inground pool, digging in the sand.

"Motherhood is not something that can be explained," she tells me in an almost dreamy voice. "From the moment they are inside of you, your destiny is etched in stone. You are their biggest support system. You are the caregiver." Edie flips the pages in the photo album and I watch the boy in the pictures slowly grow older. His teen years into adulthood. Then the pictures of his girlfriends begin to appear. "And it becomes your job to keep him from getting hurt. You become the protector and I am Matthew's."

My gut starts to tighten and that second-guessing I felt earlier has long since disintegrated.

"It should be no surprise that I'm wary of you, Miss Millens," Edie continues, still flipping through more and more photos of Matt and his girlfriends. "Don't take it personally, I just know, better than anyone, how my son thinks and how his choices are never in his best interests."

"I didn't coerce him into anything, Edie," I defend myself in a pleasant manner. I even laugh lightly so as not to seem offended. I'd hate for Edie to think that.

"Oh, I wasn't born yesterday, dear," she says. "I know your type. I know how you'll hurt him."

"We couldn't be happier."

Edie snorts and shakes her head. "Marrying my son is a mistake, Miss Millens. Even if you think you've won because of that impressive ring on your finger, you haven't. You've stumbled into an abyss in the hopes of spiriting my son away to you."

I take a deep breath and look around the room. "I can't imagine how hard this must all be for you, Edie. Feeling the need to organize everything in your grown son's life, all the way to his engagement party for the woman he wants to marry, knowing full well that you can't stand her."

Edie goes to say something, but I continue without hesitation.

"That I'm going to take him away from you. Hell, I may even have children with him and you know the closest you're going to get to seeing them is through a video I send to you on Christmas Eve once a year."

I sigh in a dramatic fashion and get to my feet. I head out of the room and to the elevator. It's right there when I call it and I enter.

"I know a woman in love and you're not it!" Edie yells from the doorway of Matt's room. "You're nothing but a rocky relationship spurred on by a want for more. I knew it the moment I met you and I still know it now."

I step out of the elevator again with a smirk on my face I can't help. "I understand why you are on edge lately, Edie. Scared of losing him and the possibilities of what could happen between you. But tonight of all nights. This must be so difficult being in this house where Matt grew up... Where he learned to walk and talk... Where he used to sleep. The memories that must come storming in every time you think about the past."

Tears are pooling in Edie's eyes and I can tell she has the immediate impulse to throttle me.

"You couldn't be more than right with your speech today. The modern and the historic I think is how you put it. You will continue to repeat yourself, Edie, and I will be moving forward with life. I will marry your son and you're going to have to deal with that."

Edie bursts into tears and rushes past me into the elevator. The doors close behind her and she's gone, out of my sight and I am left with silence. I wait a moment. I half expect Edie to gather herself up and return to my floor with another piece of evidence about how wrong I am. But as the minutes rack up, I come to the realization that the damage is done and she's not coming back for a second round.

I take those few moments to recompose myself and take a deep breath. I've been holding all that in for an extremely long time and I can't say how good it felt to finally let it out. Still, I can't help but wonder if I was too hard on the woman.

Finally, I nod to myself and head back to Matt's room. While I was being lectured, I thought I saw a relatively new laptop on Matt's desk. When I get close enough, I notice that it's still powered. I pull the flash drive from my pocket—the one Jackie gave me earlier—and plug it in right away. Jackie told me that the program on the stick would run automatically and that once it completed that they would be able to get some information Whitman needed.

Suddenly, I hear the elevator ding and the doors open. For a moment, I think it's Edie, ready with a new weapon of information to shoot me down with. Then I hear somebody else's voice.

"I just want to give you your wedding present early!" It's female and girly. Definitely not Edie. I book it into the washroom as fast as I can. "Keep your eyes closed though. I mean it—no peeking!"

I sneak a look through the crack of the washroom door. Alannah, I think with revulsion. I should have known. I observe her as she saunters over to the edge of the bed and takes a seat provocatively. She's wearing an alluring red silky dress that hardly leaves anything to the imagination with slits that go so high up her legs her lace underwear is showing.

"Okay, now you can open your eyes," she says, her hands supporting her behind her back and her chest pressed into the air. I don't know who she's talking to until they step into view.

Matt is right there in front of her!

A flame lights inside of me, a smoking ember that I struggle to extinguish. It's both painful and reoccurring, but it also doesn't make me want to recoil. It makes me mad. Just the sight of Alannah, especially Alannah with Matt, makes it burn hotter and it lashes out and hits my insides.

With anger, however, comes confusion. If I am angry because Alannah is stepping into territory which will affect the outcome of my mission then it would make sense, but it's not that. It's just the thought of seeing them together that makes it all the worse.

Alannah doesn't wait for Matt's response. She gets up and pulls him close, pulling his lips into hers. They kiss—hard! A kiss only lovers would understand. It takes all of my strength to keep myself from whipping open the washroom door and hurting not only Alannah but Matt as well.

I had a feeling this was what had been going on for weeks—Matt and Alannah. But seeing it right there in front of my face, especially for them not to know that I was there... Alannah had been trying to get between Matt and me for some time. And to think I was wondering if I was too hard on Edie earlier. Hell, this was all probably Edie's idea!

"No."

I am so focused on my own thoughts I barely hear it.

"No!" Matt repeats and he is pushing Alannah away. She must think what he's said isn't real because she goes to kiss him again and Matt has to physically sit her back down on the edge of the bed to stop her. "What is wrong with you?"

Alannah's eyes round in what I can only decipher as bewilderment. "What? What are you talking about?"

"You have got to stop doing this. We were over a long time ago and you need to move on." Just by Matt's tone, I can tell he's choosing his wording carefully.

"But—"

"I am marrying Samantha, Alannah—"

"She doesn't love you, you know!" Alannah protests. "She doesn't. I know what real love is and it's not that—"

Matt silences her with a dark look. "You need to find somebody who wants you for who you are." He gestures toward the bedroom door. "So go find that person because it's not me."

Alannah hesitantly gets to her feet and I can tell that she's trying to concoct something to keep Matt on her side, change his mind, I can see it all.

"You know your mother doesn't approve," she finally says, her last attempt at winning Matt over. I have to stifle the groan that makes it up my throat. Matt, on the other hand, changes at that moment. His usually soft features harden and he leans towards Alannah, her body infused with tension.

"This is your whole problem. You're just like my mother, but even worse. You come here, to my engagement party where my wife-to-be is and try something like this?" His eyes narrow into slits. "And what the hell are you wearing?"

Alannah looks completely in shock. She's shaking violently and tears are pouring down her face. There's a moment while Matt rages on her that she tries to say something, but he won't let her in edgewise.

"I think it would be best if you just leave," he says, a sharp edge to his voice I have never heard before. Alannah's at the door already, her hand on the handle and she looks back. She wants to say something. Maybe she wants to tell him that she loves him. But before she can open her mouth, Matt says, "Get out! And for goodness sake, get rid of that tattoo!"

It takes everything I have not to open the door and tell Matt that I saw everything he did. Instead, I monitor him as he puts himself together again. He straightens his tie in a mirror on the other side of the room and tidies his hair. Then he's gone, down the hall, heading for the elevator that will take him back to the party.

I step out of the washroom a bit of a shake in my own being. Matt had never been cheating on Samantha Millens. Every chance I got I blamed him for doing something he never did. It had all been Alannah and Edie. A plan created by the two of them so that they could deal with what life sent their ways. At least, between both Matt and me, we may have just won the battle of the controlling women. Nothing should be in my way from now on.

I grab the flash drive from the laptop and slip it back into my pocket before I use the door.

And I don't see it coming. His hand around me before I can comprehend what is going on.

I am tossed backwards into the wall, the back of my head smacking into the drywall. A loud thump cracks the silence of the hall. The overpowering smell of liquor suffocates me with what little air I can take in. Arthur has his hand around my throat and he has a very tight hold on me. I try to yell, but I can't get anything out and the more I struggle, the harder his hold gets.

"Arthur," I try to say and he probably can see it, but he doesn't react. His eyes are dead looking like the alcohol has taken everything from him. His thought process, his mind, even the will to do the simplest of things.

He leans in closer to me. "I can see you for exactly what you really are," he grumbles in my ear. He's so close I can feel the wiry strands of his moustache against the side of my face.

"Arthur," I try to say again, but nothing more than a gurgle comes out of my mouth. My head has begun to pound and I swallow excessively in what I can only assume is my body's way of loosening his grip.

"I know of your kind," he slurs, spit specking my cheek. "I know exactly what you're looking for. I'm onto you and there's nothing you can do to convince me differently."

Arthur finally lets go of me and gives me a nudge as he straightens up. I gasp, cough and sputter, my own hands going to my neck. I am paralyzed, like some special force keeps me from going after Arthur as he walks away from me, stumbling and heading for the elevator. I can't comprehend anything. I don't understand anything. I can't piece anything together because none of it makes any sense. Arthur just attacked me and I have no idea where it came from.



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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E15: Snowglobe
« Reply #282 on: July 18, 2018, 02:20:56 PM »
Divine Deception
"Snowglobe"


I clasp a travel mug in my cold, pink fingers, waiting for the heat inside to warm them even if I know the coffee has long since leeched into the winter air. I'm braced against the cold and I look off into the distance. It seems almost contradicting. For how sunny it looks, I shouldn't be surrounded by snow, in a frigid hell with the darkest of energies brewing in this cold shell I call a body. Like the case of a snowglobe. While it may seem like a short thrill, once those flakes hit the bottom, I've always found that the chance of a snowglobe being shaken again is quite high.

"Your work last weekend was rather impressive," Jackie says as she closes the space between us. I can hear the crunching of snow beneath her feet and then I see her in the corner of my eye. She takes a seat.

I nod.

"It may have seemed like a waste of time, especially with everything you had to endure to get there, but it worked. Thanks to you, we were able to get that little tidbit of info Whitman's been struggling with back home."

"And what exactly is this little bit of info exactly?"

"A combination," Jackie answers proudly. "It's all connected, Delilah, and getting this combination... The Hammings keep their secrets very close to them"—she makes a face like I should know better than anyone—"and to get something so powerful is a huge feat. Your mother would be very proud."

I've thought about my mother a lot over the past week. How I actually feel I am becoming her every day that passes by. Last weekend at the engagement party, how I ripped Edie a new one all the while keeping my composure... I could see it in front of me: my mother destroying Vita day in and day out. Playing this part of some ambitious girl who fell in love and seemingly just wants to spend the rest of her life in this fairy tale mindset.

It took a few days to set in, but it all came together. Alannah trying to yank Matt away from me, seduce him, manipulate him, whatever you wanted to call it. That must have been how my mother did it. She grabbed on to one of my father's arms while Vita held onto the other and they tugged until he tore straight down the middle, leaving neither of them with his whole self.

I rub my neck. I can still feel Arthur's hands there, how he held me against the wall and told me, stinking of booze, that he knew exactly what I was, how he'd seen my type before. Was this how Vita saw my mother? Am I really following the same path she did and will my family, the people that I love be tortured in the process? Just the thought sends a chill down my spine not tethered to the wicked wind coming off the river's edge. I know in my heart of hearts that Arthur was just a drunken idiot, tumbling through that party until he could find some even footing. But I can't help but wonder differently.

"You know, we don't have to go through with this," Jackie comes back, pulling me from my thoughts.

I turn to look at her and I can see that she's hesitant. No, I'm hesitant. Her lips are pursed and there's a look in her eyes, like she's able to read my thoughts. Am I that obvious today? I've worked so hard to keep my emotions in check that I'm struggling now. At least it is in front of her and not somebody else, somebody who could use this instant against me.

"We can call everything off and just go on with life."

My eyebrows knit together on their own. "No, I—"

"This isn't something to take lightly, Delilah," she cuts cleanly across me. "Your mother had the clearest of heads, she was one of our best destroyers and even she struggled. I would hate myself and would never forgive myself if I allowed her daughter to go into this dangerous of a mission—not just tonight but this whole thing—if I knew she couldn't handle it. If one slip-up—"

"I've got it," I say over her this time. It's no surprise that Jackie's worried for me. Everybody is lately. Nathan, Whitman. Hell, as much as Connie lost it how many weeks ago, I know it was coming from a good place. So to see Jackie bringing it up again, I can't blame her.

"Your mother—"

"My mother was targeted because of Paragon and because of them, I am left with a hole I can never fill." I give her a stern look. "I'm not backing out, Jackie."

Jackie may not be one hundred percent on board, but she doesn't say anything to deter me. She just nods and begins with the mission details.

"The Royal Museum," she says, leaning back in the bench and looking over the river. "You know of it?" I nod and she continues. "Paragon owns it and there is a gem locked up inside. We need you to get it."

I cock an eyebrow. "I'm a tomb raider now?"

"These gems were used for security back in the older days. Keycards were too new and there was always the possibility of hacking systems. The gems were always a safe resort. Just click them into the locking mechanism and the door opens. Most gateways have been updated to the twenty-first century. All except for an abandoned one used through a waterway."

"Not the sewers," I mumble.

"It's not as bad as it seems, but let's not worry that far ahead. We just need the gem right now. It's the best alternative. Because of your unfortunate encounter with Arthur, it would be careless to do anything else."

"You'll need to find an alternative route inside. If you take those front doors—"

I raise my hand to show she need not say any more. To take the doors would be suicidal. Even if I know Whitman will be on top of security—he'll have cameras looped and all alarms disabled—for me to walk through the front doors was asking for attention. Pedestrians walking down the street to name one of them. No, the best way would be through a window, best if it was in the back of the building.

"Once you are inside," Jackie continues, "find your way to the front desk and extract a file into the system." She passes me a USB stick—almost identical to the one she lent me last week for the party.

"I thought we got into enough of Paragon's systems, though?" I say, taking the stick.

"This isn't for intel, Delilah," she assures me. "This is to make sure everything runs smoothly without any hiccoughs."

"Hiccoughs?"

"This is a program. It will override all mechanisms and unlock all doors that lead to the gem."

"Okay, and what am I looking for? I'm assuming it's going to be in a glass case for everybody to see."

"No, it's hidden in the Modern Art section. Keep an eye out for a wall piece called New York. Behind it will be a button. Press that and you'll have your reward."

Ten minutes into the complex, and I'm making my way across the carpet of the hallway. When I have to step across the hardwood, I make sure to be as quiet as anything. Even if there is nobody inside and the alarms have been disabled, I still get a shiver when I think about what a fortress of hell this place will turn into if I do the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Plugging in the program to unlock all doors was a simple and straightforward procedure. It also took no time at all. While I was at it, I hooked up a program that linked to my phone so that I could still use the cameras for my own needs.

Five minutes later, I end up in the Modern Art section. I'm not much of the artsy type, but seeing all of these works leaves me a little underwhelmed. I am used to seeing Pablo, Van Gogh, you name it. Seeing pieces that are all white with the words NEW YORK seems almost bare and uninspired. I guess that's why they say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And who am I to say what art is?

I make my way over to the piece and carefully pull it away from the wall. Timid is too weak of a word for what I am feeling. Even if I know Whitman has gone over security with a fine tooth comb, I can't help but worry if something is going to go off. Nothing does, though and I find the small red button and push it.

A huge display on the other end of the room rumbles and then moves across the wall. Behind it, I see a wall safe. This is where that combination I got at the party comes into play. I crouch in front of the safe, think over the numbers in my mind to make sure I know the right sequence and then I input them. I can hear the locking mechanism clink and then the door springs open. It's pretty bare inside except for a blue gem that is the size of my palm.

I grab it.

The alarms go off the moment I pull the gem away. Dread floods through my veins before dropping like a boulder to the pit of my stomach. It's almost too heavy to move and I stand there in shock.

"That's the alarms going off," I mutter, trying to understand them. I know they are going off, but for the life of me I can't figure out what that means. It takes too long to realize that it's not good and I need to do something.

I pull my phone from my pocket and look up the camera I linked to earlier. Down in the main lobby, I notice a man in what looks like a uniform of some sort. I can't tell exactly. The picture is too grainy. My first thought is that he's police and I roll my head back in frustration. The last thing is for the authorities to be right here right now. But there's something off about him. He wears a pair of night vision goggles and what looks like a hard-shelled helmet on his head. Two more men join him, letting go of two salivating german shepherds. The dogs go bolting off down a corridor. The three men converse—what they are saying, I don't know—and then they grab something from their backs.

Before I can tell what they have grabbed, the dogs have run up a set of stairs and are now on my floor. I mutter a swear under my breath and stuff my phone into my pocket and dash into the hallway. The dogs are at the other end of the hall, galloping like wild beasts towards me. In that instant, I look for an escape. There are only two doors worth attempting and one of them is only accessible by running closer to the dogs. I'm not in that risky of a mood. I bolt in the opposite direction.

I shoulder the door as hard as I can, willing with everything I have that it isn't locked. The door bangs hard off the wall on the other side. I glance over my shoulder. Stupid! I just wasted time looking. I know those mutts are behind me, but I do it anyway, calculating how little space is between us. Closer now! And they are gaining—fast!

Up the stairs on the other side of the door I go, jumping three at a time. It's the only chance I've got. The dogs whip around the corner, through the doorway. Their nails scrape the hardwood, clawing viciously as they try to regain their footing, but they are so focused on me it's almost as if fate is urging them on. They skid into the wall with a thud—first then second—and then they are after me again, barking and snapping.

I make it to a T-shaped intersection and for a moment, a brief one, I jog on the spot, looking left and right, the best way to go. There is nothing on the left other than a window overlooking the city and two benches. I hightail it the other way. Doors fly by me—left and right—blurring in what seems like a smear of countless colours. My heart hammers in my chest. It's almost in rhythm with the dogs clambering behind me. Getting air into my lungs becomes a struggle. I glance over my shoulder. More growling. There's a bang behind me—ear-splitting. Like a bomb's gone off down the hall. Another one and I am jolted forward. I keep my balance somehow and I'm still running.

I need to take a door but I can't choose. The dogs are too close now. Any slight movement to pause could mean death. Another bang from down the hall and I actually yelp when something hits me below my shoulder. I am at the end of the hallway before I can understand anything. Dozens of gateways to flee through behind me and all I am looking at is another big window overlooking the city. I spin around, brace myself, readying everything I have. I spot two of the men from earlier down the hall, guns up at the ready. Before I can comprehend it, the dogs lunge at me and I am sent tumbling through the window and nothing but air.

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E16: Free Fall
« Reply #283 on: July 25, 2018, 12:09:40 PM »
Divine Deception
"Free Fall"


By definition, gravity is the force that attracts a body towards the centre of the earth or towards another physical body having mass. It's a pull, a force stronger than any will or ambition known to man and has the ability to bring anybody who's lost in space back down to a levelheadedness. But to be brought down is sometimes not enough for reality to sink in. Sometimes, the downward movement of a spiral hits harder than anything imaginable. And when you hit the ground, all you're left with is the feeling of the wind knocked from your lungs.

The ground comes hard and fast, its impact like I've been hit by a million Mack trucks all at once. My ears are ringing, my body's become paralysed and for a brief moment I am lost, in an empty void while my body tries to refuel itself and come to terms with what's just happened. Every fibre of my being is activated in a race against time, rewiring my senses. Up above, the German Shepherds bark and snarl from the broken window proudly, their chests puffed out, waiting for either me to fight back or for their masters to praise them up and down.

Movement comes back to my body and I can wiggle my toes and move my fingers. After a few moments, I gather the strength to sit up. In that little time, my head begins to ache and I fear that I may not be able to make it more than three feet from my current position.

I listen to the blaring alarms coming from inside as I grip the stone steps at my side and use them to straighten myself. Dawn is breaking through the clouds and I know if I waste any more time here that even if the guards from inside don't find me, somebody else will. I've come to the realization that the men inside who had shot at me and let loose those dogs were not policemen. They were probably Paragon's own hired hands and I don't want to be around if they brave coming out into the open.

As I take a step forward and swing my arms, a glaring pain burns in my right upper arm. Another pain, this one much more throbbing than sharp, blossoms somewhere below my shoulder. I do my best to ignore them. I can catalogue my injuries once I am somewhere safe.

I force myself to move faster and as I do, I phone Jackie. She answers with a sternness I know too well. She wants to know about the mission, if I've gathered the gem. I tell her I have but that I need the location of a nearby safe house. Her voice immediately becomes filled with worry. She must also hear me grunting as I move because she demands I tell her what happened and I tell her.

I tell her everything. From how everything was going according to schedule. That I'd been able to gather the gem and how the alarms went off. She seems as confused as I am when I tell her this. We both agree that nothing should have gone off the rails.

As I make my way down the back of town, I follow a wrought iron fence down a hill and the movement brings more energy to my body and I actually feel a willingness to move faster. While to do, Jackie mutters more under her breath than anything how she shouldn't have allowed me to partake in this mission, that it's all her fault that this happened to me. A twinge of guilt flickers between the two of us. For she allowed this to happen to me and that I've allowed this to happen to her.

When I arrive, I light the fireplace first thing. It's a dreary shack of a home with boarded-up windows that whistle in the wicked winds and floorboards that creak with every step. There is one lamp in the whole room and I turn it on. It doesn't light much, but it's enough.

I pull off my sweater and go into the washroom to look at myself in the mirror. It's cracked for the most part with grime and age taking up a lot of the edges. Still, I get a good look at my stinging bicep. Sticking out from it, I notice a shard of glass. Under the sink, I spot a bottle of a disinfectant, as well as many other bottled liquids like cleaning chemicals and acids, as well as bandages. I grab them and place them on the sink. I bite my lip and get a hold of the piece. It feels like fire has doused my whole arm as I yank the piece of glass out, yet it's nothing compared to the pain as I splash the disinfectant on the wound. It takes everything I have not to cry out. Once the pain subsides, I take a painkiller and return to the fireplace to bandage myself up.

I sit for most of the day. Jackie told me to hold still while she contacted one of her men to drive me back home. I had tried to tell her that I could head back on my own, but she told me no. It's probably for the best anyway. I've gone through so much, who's to say I won't walk straight into a trap if I'm left on my own? Surely Paragon's on the lookout for me. Well, maybe not me precisely, but anybody suspicious. And it's not like news hasn't broken out about the excitement at the museum. I've checked over how many radio stations and each one is talking about the same thing.

By late afternoon, there is a knock at my door. It isn't just a simple knock that I expect would come from some random roadside straggler. No, this is a special one. The special knock everybody a part of our team knows which was created specifically for situations like this.

I get up from my seat and open the door.

On the other side is a strong, bulky man with arms the size of tree trunks and a body that looks like it will struggle to get through the doorframe. I've seen him before, the night I infiltrated Paragon's middle tier meeting. The night I met Jackie.

"Miss Lawrence," he says, his voice rough and deep. He pulls out his identification and flashes it at me. "I'm Ronald Bewter. Ms. Collins sent me to pick you up." Putting everything away, he hands me a sack with clean clothes inside. I don't change. Instead, I grab the jacket that's on top and slip it on.

The drive back to my apartment is a silent one. Ron doesn't speak and neither do I. I just watch the city blur by me through the dirt on his tinted windows. I'm not unhappy about it. I don't want to talk. For one, I feel like crap. My body may not feel as wracked as it did earlier, but the painkillers have left me slightly drowsy.

And two, what is there really to talk about? Sure, the mission wasn't a fail. I mean, I did end up getting the gem and I still have it on me. But I wanted to come out of that building like I had gone in. I wanted it to be silent. But because I didn't, I don't really know where I stand. Did the guards inside the museum get a good look at me? Did they recognize me if they did? And what are they thinking now? It's all very left up in the air and I am struggling to figure out what I should be preparing for.

We arrive at my apartment building and Ron offers to lead me up to my flat. He opens the door for me and I walk inside.

Right as I do, I hear the canny sound of an audience clapping. As I make the turn, I notice that the television is on. And in front of it sits Nathan. He hears the door close behind Ron and I and he spins around, turning off the television.

"You're back!" he says, engulfed in worry. I don't respond. Drowsiness won't let me and Ron leads me to a spot on the sofa. I take a seat. Ron and Nathan speak behind me. Ron's telling Nathan everything that happened.

As he does, I realize that there's still an uncomfortable pain under my one shoulder. I didn't look into it back at the safe house earlier. Actually, I had completely forgotten about it. In comparison to the piece of glass in my arm, this was nothing. But now it's bugging me. I run my hand under my shirt and to my back. My back is bruised, most definitely, yet there is something else. Actually, there are two things nested in my kevlar. I fiddle with the first one until it loosens and falls into the palm of my hand. When I bring my hand out to check, I see a slug of a bullet. It doesn't faze me—probably the effects of the painkillers—and I drop it on the coffee table with a loud clank!

In the mirror on the wall, I see Nathan shoot a look over his shoulder. There's anger in his eyes, bewilderment even maybe. And then there's something else. Something I can't quite put my finger on. Pity possibly. Or fear. I look away from his reflection somberly and begin fiddling with what I can only assume is a second bullet in my kevlar.

Ron leaves and Nathan makes his way in front of me.

"Are you all right?" he asks me, crouching low so that we are at eye level. He wears a sympathetic smile on his lips, though I know how hard he is working to keep it there. I didn't imagine his fury just minutes ago. I know I didn't. If he figures out what I really think, he's going to lose it. Best to pretend that I have everything under control, for both our sakes.

"I'm fine, why do you ask?" I say in the easiest tone I can muster.

"I'm just asking."

"And I'm telling you that I'm fine." I pull the second bullet from my kevlar and let it drop onto the coffee table as I get to my feet. I make my way upstairs to the bedroom.

"I don't think you are," he says bluntly. "You know, I've been meaning to talk to you about this whole thing for a while." He's right behind me. "Deli, I think you're in way over your head. Maybe we should think about slowing down."

"Slowing down? Nathan, we took a huge step today," I say, heading for the dresser in search of some clean clothes. "There's some light at the end of the tunnel."

"But look at what you had to do to get there. You're acting as if you didn't just fall from a building and almost die."

"Die? Please, you're exaggerating."

"Exaggerating?" he repeats. I may have my back to him, but I can feel his eyes piercing the back of my skull. "You have been in a downward spiral for months now!"

"See? Exaggerating," I say with emphasis. I'm still not looking at him and while I've already got my clothing, I pretend to be rifling around in my underwear drawer as if I'm still looking for something.

"I'm not exaggerating when you come home pulling slugs out of your kevlar like it's a normal thing to do, like it doesn't hurt."

"It doesn't," I say offhandedly.

The sound of Nathan's fist coming into contact with the wall makes me whirl around on the bed to face him. This wakes me up from my drowsiness somewhat.

"What is your problem?" I snap at him. "What is it? Fear?"

"Maybe fear isn't such a bad thing? It forces us to take a step back and look at what's going on around us, maybe even become situationally aware."

I roll my eyes. "And you know about situational awareness now? You're going to lecture me on something you barely know anything about?"

Nathan's face darkens. "Somebody has to! Ever since that guy dropped to his death from this very rooftop you've been on some crazy bender in what I can only assume is your attempt at regaining some type of control!"

"It's a mission, these things happen, Nathan. Get over it."

"This isn't just about today. It's been day in and day out for the last how many months. The last year! When was the last time you even looked at your son?"

The mention of William lights a hatred inside of me that I can't put out. I feel as my face turns monstrous. I stay quiet and won't answer. I can't. I must be taking too long because Nathan shakes his head in frustration and walks into the washroom.

I follow him in.

I grab his arm to stop him, to force him to look at me. "Don't you dare bring William into this!" I tell him. "You have no right!"

He yanks his hand away from me. "I have no right? He's our son, Deli. Ours, not yours." He chuckles humourlessly to himself. "You're in your own little world, aren't you?"

"Oh shut up."

Nathan doesn’t miss a beat. "It's almost like you're jumping from life to life whenever it's convenient for you. You're William's mother and I am his father and he needs both of us. But it's like you'd rather enjoy your life with the Hammings more."

"Do I look like I'm enjoying myself?" I urge him to look at me. The bags that grow under my eyes. How I always look tired, worried. Can't he see this?

Nathan pulls back. "I'm just saying that sometimes it's like you'd rather be with this Matthew guy. Don't deny that you have feelings for him."

I look at Nathan in astonishment. "Feelings for him? That's absurd!"

"I know what I see."

"Is this what this is all about?" I ask, but I don't wait for Nathan's answer. "Matt is a job, he's a pawn and there are days I can't stand being around him. I don't love him, I love you!"

Nathan looks away and I can see how hurt he is.

"Look, yes, it's nice to get away from this once in a while. Pretend like nothing matters but me. No Paragon. No destruction—"

"We have a son."

"And sometimes it's nice to get away from that too. Not having to look over my shoulder every second for the safety of everybody I love. No, you're right, Nathan, there are days that I'd rather be Samantha Millens, and I won't lie and say that I haven't thought about it. But you keep me here. William keeps me here."

"I'm finding this harder and harder to believe every day."

My eyes narrow. "Then leave," I tell him. "I'll tell you exactly what I told Connie. If you want to stay, stay. If you want to leave, don't let me hold you back."

It's as if I have actually punched him in the gut. The pain that appears so faintly on his face. But Nathan has always had the ability to cover himself in a thick skin, ever since the day I met him.

He shakes his head, smirking. "I just wish you could see that you're following the same path your mother went down."

"Don't even dare bring her into this. You will never understand."

"Maybe not, but you're going to get hurt and I think you're too stubborn to see it coming." He walks out of the washroom and downstairs. "It seems you did choose him after all. Enjoy your wedding day."

I don't know what to say so I stay silent again. I listen to his every footfall. Step. Step. Step. I am breathing heavily, trying to catch any breath I have left. Why can't he just understand this? When I hear the sound of the front door slam shut, I scream at the top of my lungs. When that doesn't make me feel better, I turn and punch the mirror in front of me. Blood and shattered glass rain into the sink and I slide down to the floor, feeling lonelier than I have ever felt before. It's as if I've been falling from that second-floor window all this time and finally I have hit rock bottom.

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E17: The Blackest Day
« Reply #284 on: August 03, 2018, 12:54:41 PM »
Divine Deception
"The Blackest Day"



Carry me home, got my blue nail polish on
It's my favorite color and my favorite tone of song
I don't really wanna break up, we got it going on
It's what you gathered from my talk, but you were wrong
It's not easy for me to talk about
A half-life in lost dreams
And not simple, it's trigonometry
It's hard to express
I can't explain

*



"You look beautiful," Chloe says to me, pulling me from my thoughts and my reflection. I turn to look at her and she almost looks unrecognizable herself. Hair straightened, pulled over her shoulder into some modern beauty queen of Instagram kind of style. "They're almost ready for you."

I can hear the rumble of guests entering and taking a seat on either side of the aisle. Men in tuxedos usher women to their seats while children hand out bubbles for everybody to blow once the groom has kissed his bride. My stomach tightens as I realize that that would be me.

Chloe giggles and takes me by my shoulders. "I can't believe it, in only a few minutes, we are going to be sisters!"

Chloe's excitement forces me to return her smile, though I struggle to know if this happiness would even exist if she got the slightest hint of what I had to do to make us sisters. If she knew all the hell I had put her and her family through to get to this point.

She tells me she will be right back, she just wants to make sure everything is running on schedule, and as she leaves I catch a peek of the crowd outside. Hetty Lionheart catches my attention first, dressed in what I can only describe as a green nightgown with pawprints all over it. She holds a basket in her arms and with a closer look, all of her feline friends are inside as if anxiously awaiting the show to begin.

But nothing can compare to what I see front and centre. Alannah steps into view. Just the sight of her makes me want to bust through the door and pummel her. It's not enough that she somehow managed to slip inside for the wedding, she's wearing the brightest, shiniest dress I have ever seen and sparkly all over. I have to actually turn my head so that I stop looking at her. I'm shaking.

Ever since my baby went away
It's been the blackest day, it's been the blackest day
All I hear is Billie Holiday
It's all that I play
It's all that I play

*


I notice Eadie at the front. She hasn't acknowledged Alannah. I can't tell if she hadn't seen her—she's been blubbering since the day began so who knows—or if she's trying to respect her son's wishes and keep her at arm's length. It must have come to light that today was happening. Maybe she finally has accepted it. I am sure the sobs aren't coming from the very fact that her son has found the woman of his dreams.

I close the door and look up at the ceiling, no, past the ceiling, to the sky, to the heavens.

"But that's not how it works, is it?" I ask my mother in hopes that she's listening. "I'm not the woman of his dreams and he's not the man I love. But that's not what we do or who we are, is it, Mother?"

Before I can get an answer, Chloe's at the door again and telling me that everybody's ready for me.

Because I'm going deeper and deeper (deeper)
Harder and harder (harder)
Getting darker and darker
Looking for love
In all the wrong places
Oh my god
In all the wrong places
Oh my god

*


I take a deep breath and collect my bouquet and start down the aisle. Men and women on both sides stand up as if in one motion and I can see each of their faces. Man, woman, young, old. Most of them I have no idea who they are, but they are there, watching me, they are here for Matt and me.

At the end, Matt stands waiting for me. Our eyes lock and he is who I am strutting for now. And the rest of the ceremony flies by me and goes off without a hitch. I expect Alannah is going to stand up and tell everybody how wrong I am for Matt, that maybe Eadie will back her up, but neither of them do anything.

The rest of the day follows as one would expect. We are rushed down the aisle, bubbles and confetti fluttering around us to the point where we have to block them with our hands to see where we are going. At dinner, there is a lot of clinking of glasses, lots of kissing because of course, everybody wants to see more of it. There's a point where it feels like they all want me to prove to them that I love him and that kissing is the only way. Maybe that's why most of the time it's Eadie doing the clinking.

It's not long after dinner that we are cued for the first dance. Matt and I speak while we dance, quiet enough so that only the two of us can hear. He says nice things. Things like how beautiful I am, how much he loves me and how happy he is going to make me while we spend the rest of our lives together. I get teary eyed at this. I shouldn't be hearing this from Matt. I should be hearing it from Nathan. And as I look into Matt's eyes, I struggle, I can't even lie and tell him that he means the same to me.

"Is something wrong?" he asks me.

I shake my head, taking a deep breath. "It's all so overwhelming, everything."

He twirls me and then he dips me.

Carry me home, got my new car and my gun
Wind in my hair, holding your hand, listen to a song
Carry me home, don't wanna talk about the things to come
Just put your hands up in the air, the radio on

'Cause there's nothing for us to talk about
Like the future and those things
'Cause there's nothing for me to think about
Now that he's gone, I can't feel nothing

*


The lights completely go out and it's as if it's completely made up of magic that Matt transforms into Nathan. His whole being, eyes, face, nose, structure, even the way he holds me in his arms as he pulls me up from the dip and cradles me, still moving in rhythm to the music. I should be able to comprehend it—this is impossible—but I don't try. I just let him hold me like the real man that I love would. I smell the woodsy scent of his cologne, the mint from his mouthwash as I nuzzle into his neck. It feels so different this way, this dance with him. It feels right. I want to tell him how I shouldn't have lost it on him the last time we spoke, that I love him so much. But before I can, I am dipped again.

And I am brought back to the present, to Earth, with the lights back on and swimming around the crowd around us. The music has stopped and the room erupts in whistles, cheers and lots and lots of clapping. The DJ tells everybody to come and join the bride and groom on the dance floor.  Taking this as my chance, I pull away from Matt and tell him I need a moment to clean myself up. He pecks me on the cheek and I head to the washroom.

I'm at the sink, drying my eyes with a damp piece of paper towel when I hear the door bang off the wall next to me and Alannah walks in.

"Oh, sorry, am I interrupting?" she says. While the words may be sincere, the emotion behind them can't make it to the front burners. She saunters over to the sink next to me and dabs at invisible lines on her face as if to make a point of being here. She catches my eye. "Poor little bride having trouble on her wedding day?"

"Why are you here?" I say, disregarding her.

"Well, it's not for your lack of trying to push me away now is it?"

"Just answer the question," I tell her. "Why are you still fighting for it?"

"I could simply ask you the same thing." She pauses, holds me in her considerably long frank stare and then adds, "You just don't get it. I know you don't love him and it pains me to know that he's going to get hurt because of it."

"You—!"

"You need to calm down. This is your day after all and I'd hate for life to get in the way. I mean, here you are, the biggest night of your life and you're hiding out in a powder room while your true love is in a different room. I just wish you could see it." Alannah turns and heads out the door.

You should've known better
Than to have, to let her
Get you under her spell of the weather
I got you where I want you
You did it, I never
I'm falling for forever
I'm playing head games with you
Got you where I want you
I got you, I got you
I got you where I want you now

*


I follow her out, ready to give her a piece of my mind, but I'm too late. With the door handle in my left hand, I watch as two security guards ask Alannah to leave the party. In the archway that leads back to the reception, I see Matt with his arms crossed over his chest watching the scene with an air of pride. Alannah starts off calm and flippant, unable to take the guards seriously. But as they step into her space and begin to physically move her, she loses it. Hands up in the air, Alannah goes off, screaming at the top of her lungs about how I don't love Matt and how this isn't fair. I hear one of the guards tell her she had a chance to intervene during the ceremony and then they are out of the building, out of sight.

I look away and turn my focus on the cake. I don't know what else to do. I'm shaking again, more violently than before I walked down the aisle. Some stupid girl, some mad-in-love bimbo could see straight through me and what does that mean?

"Every family's got one," Matt says in front of the crowd and there's a round of applause and laughter. "I would like to thank everybody who came out to celebrate this amazing day with us. Samantha and I are scheduled to leave for our honeymoon out of town. But, please, don't let us stop this party. The bar is still open and Mr. DJ here is paid for many other hours."

It's not one of those phases I'm going through
Or just a song, it's not one of them
I'm on my own
On my own
On my own again
I'm on my own again
I'm on my own again
I'm on my own again
I'm on my own again

*


Matt takes my hand and leads me outside, between the countless tables as the guests clap and cheer and whistle. The doors are opened by two guards and we head on through them. We are down the stairs before I can even tell what's going on and I see a car waiting for us.

"Are you ready to spend the rest of our lives together?"

I stare at him, into those puppy dog eyes I first witnessed back the morning he proposed to me and unlike then, I tell him yes now. We kiss and I get into the car.


***

((Lyrics by Lana Del Rey's The Blackest Day ))


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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E18: The Cabin in the Woods
« Reply #285 on: September 05, 2018, 02:47:46 PM »
Divine Deception
"The Cabin in the Woods"


To be the best destroyer, one must know their own strengths and weaknesses. Control has always been my hardest factor to overcome, and control is one of the toughest things for anybody to keep intact. It builds like the pressure of performance, the anxiety to be perfect and then it blows. But for others, the only way to regain control is to relinquish it. We believe we can save the ones we love by doing such a thing. But in reality, control is as simple as "1, 2, 3." Let it go and go with the flow. Unfortunately, sometimes when we believe we have the control of the world, life reminds us that we are but a pawn in a powerful game of chess.

It's been a day since our wedding and we've been driving for hours. Miles are behind us, towns we've driven through. We even had the opportunity to grab breakfast in one of the busiest venues in Roaring Heights without a reservation. But still, Matt refuses to tell me where we are going. "You're going to love it," he says, and "You mentioned it when we first met. Just wait, you'll see!"

Well, I've waited and I am beginning to get impatient. I can't say we haven't seen some magnificent things. From the stunning waterfalls in Aurora Skies and the mountains in Lucky Palms, everything's been beyond breathtaking. But nothing can overcome my butt as it falls asleep.

What I am happy with is that we both agreed to turn off our phones during our time away. While this doesn't include my burner phone I still use to call home to Whitman and Jackie—and Nathan if he ever wants to talk to me again—it does include everything else. Meaning Samantha Hamming's phone is off and so is Matt's. Probably for the best anyway. Both of our phones had been going off like mad since we left yesterday, messages and voicemails congratulating us on our special day. I can only imagine how many have stacked up from Eadie.

I am about to bring it up when the car stops off the beaten path.

***

"Okay, close your eyes," Matt tells me eight hours later. "We're getting close."

I do as I am told and I feel as the car begins to slow down. The smell of salt water hits me and I know we are so close to the lake that I can almost taste it. That and I can hear the waves crashing into what I can only assume is a bed of rocks. Seagulls chatter above.

Matt brings the car to a complete stop. "Open your eyes."

I'd be lying if I didn't expect to see water, though, for some reason, I thought it would be a beach. Crusty old vacationers piling on the limited space on the sand while children screamed and caused scenes. I am thrilled I am wrong there. We are secluded from civilization, or at least it seems so. Thick trees surround the property, hiding it from street view and I feel as if I have stepped into solitude.

"A cabin in the woods," Matt says as if reciting it. "Isn't that what you said?"

I smirk. Actually, it is. During one of our first dates, I mentioned how I never liked all the big and powerful that the everyman desired. And being around Matt all day every day, the man who enforces attention whether it is from his overpowering family or the paparazzi every day he steps out of the house, Matt's line of work hardly lets him off the hook. Going to some big fancy resort just seemed too much for a honeymoon. I always wanted something small and quaint. I glance around the lot again, my gaze slowly studying the house. This is exactly what I wanted.

The day goes by pretty slow and not in a bad way. The morning is spent doing what newlyweds do, but by the time lunch rolls around, we head out to the town to admire its simple life. I'll hand it to Matt, he's really outdone himself. It's one thing to experience a little home I can imagine Snow White and her seven dwarfs living in, but a whole town? And every piece of land feels as if there is a fairy tale hidden inside of it. Like the bakeries with apple pies cooling in the windows or the wishing wells that play music when the water ripples. The roads that are made up of bricks and stone. I haven't seen one that's pavement.

By the time we return home, we're exhausted. We change into our swimsuits and take two mattresses out to the water. Matt has the idea to bring a piece of rope with us and we tie our floaties together so that we are always at an arm's length away. We sit and look up at the sky and drift side to side softly in the water's smooth current. Watching the clouds, we spot the different shapes we think we see. One looks like a camel with four humps, two look like dogs and I swear the third one looks like Matt's mother. He doesn't agree. He says clouds can't look angry all the time.

We do this for a few hours. Well, that and snooze here and there. I haven't taken much time to think about it, but I'm actually quite tired.

I stay on my mattress while Matt grabs a fishing rod and attempts doing that. He's not very good (Sorry Matt) though I can't blame him. He's never done it before and still he is much more patient that I think I could ever be. I find fishing is like Volvos. You either love it or hate it.

"It's because of you," he says, chuckling. "You gotta keep your floaty more still. You're scaring all the fish away."

"I'm sure that's exactly it, hun."

As we laugh, my phone rumbles in the cup holder of my mattress. I peek over my shoulder at Matt just to make sure he's not looking. He's not. I check the name of the caller. Jackie Collins. I bring the mattress back to land.

"What are you doing?" Matt asks me as I am throwing on my overdress. As I make eye contact with him, I can see the devilish grin on his lips. He sees the phone in my hand.

"I have to take it."

"But we agreed to turn off both our phones for this trip."

"I know—"

"Do you know how many times my mother's called? Neither do I because I haven't checked and here we are."

"You have checked, you liar," I joke with him and from the way he looks away it's as if he knows that I'm right. Lucky guesses. "Anyway, it's one of my charities that I've been waiting forever from."

Matt shakes his head. "Fine, go."

I am just about to go into the house when I realize what a bad idea it is. If Matt ends up coming in... So I head for the back of the cabin with the thickest of trees. From where I stand, I can still see Matt, but I doubt very much that he can hear me. I look down at the phone again at Jackie's name, my thumb hovering over the accept button. I know what this phone call is about. Still, I am hesitant. Finally, after hearing it buzz for another five seconds, I answer it.

"Hello?" I say as if I don't know who it is on the other end. I don't know why I do it. There is just a hope in me that it's not the person I know it is.

"Delilah, it's Jackie Collins."

Of course it is, I think, taking a deep breath as my insides burn. "Yes, how are you?"

"I'm quite well, thank you, but I am more interested in you. How are you?"

"I've been better." The tone in my voice isn't uplifting, I know. There's a part of me that wants Jackie to know that I am having second thoughts, that being away from everything and just relaxing has given me time to think. But I know how much is riding on this, how much I have sacrificed to get here.

"I can only imagine."

My lips form a straight line. I wonder if she knows about what's all gone on. I haven't told her, or anybody for that matter about how Nathan left or where he's gone. I expect they all know, but I can't be exactly sure. Everytime anybody speaks, it's all business these days. But they have to notice that Nathan's not around. They're in his house. Sure, they might believe he's at the flat... I take a deep breath on the inside. At least Jackie agreed to take care of everything on that end. She told me before I left that during this stressful time, being so close to the end result, that I shouldn't worry about anything. At least I can rely on that, because if I couldn't, I don't know what I would do. There is so much on my plate lately that stuff is falling off.

"I know how difficult this must be for you, but you need to know how great you are doing," Jackie says. "Your mother would be so proud."

I roll my eyes. The "Sadie would be so proud speech."

"She wouldn't," I say with a shake of my head. "This is the furthest thing she would be proud of."

"I don't believe that. Sadie would be one of the few people to understand why you're doing what you're doing. From avenging her death to slipping that wedding band on your finger. She'd understand it all."

Glancing down at my wedding ring, I spin it around using my thumb. The motion is comparable to the knot that continues to tighten in my gut.

"I know what happened between you and Nathan, dear, and I know how hard this is to take those final steps. But just think of it this way: if you don't, Nathan will always be gone. He'll never come back and you won't be able to move on from this. End it so that you can be with your family again."

The phone goes dead and I look back at the cabin where Matt's just gone inside. I know what she means by "end it." All that's left for me to do is get entry into Paragon using Matt's laptop and then they are free to take on the company as a whole.

I lower my phone and turn it off. "I'm almost there," I whisper to myself and head back inside.

"What should we do for dinner?" Matt asks me right as I close the door behind me. I don't bother even thinking about an answer to his question. Instead I kiss him—hard—passionately. His hands around my arms, my fingers in his hair. And for a fleeting moment, I open my eyes and spy the laptop in the corner.

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E19: Memory Lane
« Reply #286 on: September 06, 2018, 02:53:33 PM »
Divine Deception
"Memory Lane"


They say that people are only capable of seeing what they are prepared to confront. Monsters, horrors and deception are all but figments of the imagination, covered up as fluffy white creations only seen in movies or books. But it is when the truth hits you straight in the face that those terrors become reality. The truth is like a battlefield, a terrible and violent path filled with the people who were your friends, hindered by your enemies and your hatred and sometimes even yourself. When you can finally open your eyes and see that the truth is out, sometimes the monsters have a way of getting in.

I stare out the open window as I listen to Matt's breathing, waiting for a steady pattern that informs me that he's left this world for the land of sleep. By the time it's two in the morning, I decide that time is now. Just for safe measures, I speak to him, ask him if he's awake and get a snore in response. Good. I get out of bed, grabbing his shirt in the process and head out to the living room.

The nights are rather chilly here in Dragon Valley. For how warm to the point of being humid it can be during the day, this has a way of surprising me. It doesn't help that both Matt and I decided that leaving every window open overnight was a good idea. I don't bother closing any. Instead I start a fire and stare into the flames, trying to urge myself to take the next step forward.

Since coming here, I can't say I haven't been reluctant about my mission process. There's just something not right and like a jackhammer it's nettles at the back of my brain, constantly jabbing at something I've overseen. I've run over it countless times, but for the life of me, I can't find this hole I know is opening minute by minute.

"It's just cold feet," I mumble to myself, giving my hands a good shake. I force myself to get a hold of Matt's computer and bring it over to the sofa and start it up. There's an app on the desktop with a halo icon. When I press it, a login page appears. I know Matt doesn't use this for Paragon purposes. I'd be surprised if he knew what this app did when he pressed it. From what I could gather from what Jackie said weeks ago, Arthur put this app on all of his devices at home in case he needed to check into the company urgently.

Hacking into it is as easy as inserting a thumb drive Whitman sent with me into the side of the laptop. This gets past Matt's security and into Paragon in three easy steps.

I bite my lip as Paragon's main system opens up to me. Everything is at my fingertips. Everything they've done. I get so excited my hands begin to shake. I curl them around the edge of the sofa to stop myself. Then I begin copying the files to the thumb drive. It's not until I am watching file by file get copied that I notice a name that catches my attention.

SADIE LAWRENCE
PROFILE AND MISSION REPORT
OBJECTIVE: KILL NICK ALTO | DESTROY VITA ALTO


I open it.

Water, waves and the thumping of his feet as he walks across the hardwood flooring upstairs. It's all I can focus on as I dig my nails into the cushion I sit on. I keep a smile on my face, not because of happiness or content, but for the reason if I don't, I may very well scream at the top of my lungs for the bumbling fool upstairs to hurry it up.

His name is Gobias Koffi. My report says that he is a single sim who just hasn't met the right woman, probably one of the reasons why "The Powers That Be" aka, my contacts, decided that he would be beneficial to our task, a task that I still haven't been completely informed about. I was just shipped out like some mail-order bride to his doorstep to ask him if he wanted a roommate. It's a good thing he isn't the brightest bulb on the tree or else my hasty arrival would have seemed a little suspicious. Maybe he will be beneficial after all.

My eyebrows knit together. This was my mother? I just can't hear her saying this. I flip through more pages and come across a photo of my father.

After a bit, I've lost track of where Nick is. I've experienced my meltdown and I know what I need to do for the rest of the day. Every time something goes off the rails as a Destroyer, I need to take some time to go with the flow and clear my head or else I know how much it is going to consume me. I find him standing over a pile of snow. With a closer look, I realize it was Nick's attempt at a snowman.

I put a hand on his shoulder. "Build one with me."

It doesn't take long. I learn that Nick is great at decorating so I allow him to make the snowman look all pretty. When it's done, I can't help but laugh.

"What?" Nick asks so innocently.

"It looks like you."

We both laugh and make our way to the car.


When I open my eyes, I am in the back of a police car. My hands are cuffed behind me and an older woman sits in the front, driving. She doesn't seem to be one to talk and to be completely honest, I don't even know what I would say. I'm not innocent. It wasn't Vita who killed Nick and gradually I am forced to accept who I am. I am a Destroyer, sent on a mission to ruin the Alto family. I befriended a woman who would later despise me. I seduced a man from his wife. I stole a child from her family and married into it just to hurt Vita. I set everything up all the way to the point of conceiving a child with a man who was targeted for death. I scorned and swindled everybody within a ten-mile radius and it led to blood on my hands.

That's all I can take. Tears pool in my eyes, blurring my vision so much that I feel as if I am looking at the bed of an underwater cavern. I turn off the computer and drop it on the sofa in one quick swoop before hurrying to the washroom.

I splash my face with water, wiping away the streaks that continue down my cheeks.

I spoke about all of this with my mother long ago. But to hear it again, read Sadie's actual words took me to a completely different place. It's reignited my hatred for Paragon, sure. They screwed my mother royally, hiring her to do their dirty work and when she needed them most, they tossed her to the wolves. How typical. But I'm not just angry. I don't know what I am. Seeing that photograph of my mother and father together... They really did love each other. My mother loved him and then was forced to end his life.

I splash my face with water again and pat it dry. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I look like a little girl again, back with Vita in Sunset...

"I have played this game for a long time, Delilah, and I have hurt a lot of people, but what I've learned is that the only people who get hurt are the players." She takes a deep breath. "I don't want to play anymore, and you want to know why? Because everything has changed. You came into my life when your mother went to prison and you changed everything. I hated your mother for a long time, but after seeing you and Alicia sitting at the table today it made me realize differently. My end with your father was inevitable and I just wanted somebody to blame, to point a finger at. Sadie's choices weren't right, but I have to forgive her because if it wasn't for her, you and I would never have been joined. I would never have been happy. I would have just continued to hurt myself and others."

The memories keep coming.

"Do you have a problem with me staying here?"

"Of course not." Nathan takes a seat in the chair next to mine. "I'd just like to know who is staying is all. You come here with barely any belongs, telling some stupid story about how you missed your bus and are trying to make it to Twinbrook. You haven't said much about where you're from and when I ask a simple question about your last name, your full name, you don't dare answer it."

I shake my head in irritation and look away. "I am just trying to get to Twinbrook--"

"And you're getting twisted up in your own story. I thought you were going to Bridgeport." He smirks. "See, you may be fooling the two in there but not me. I know I know you from somewhere and everything you've said since you stepped foot in this house I know has been a lie."

"You seem to know a lot," I retort.

"While I may not know who you are right now, I can guarantee you that I will figure it out. I will know who you are!"


“Delilah, listen to me. We need to go. I know you have a lot of questions, but it’s not safe here.”

I pull back. This woman knows what I want? She knows what I think? More questions begin to stir inside of me like why she has a gun and how did she know that I would be here? Was she connected to this man? Surely. They spoke as if they’d known one another for some time. The man that shot Nathan and almost shot me as well. “You don’t know the first thing about me.”

Sadie’s eyebrows come together. “But I do. I know your first breath, your first sound. Delilah, I’m your mother.”

I don’t know if this was supposed to bring us closer, if it was what Sadie hoped or believed, but I don’t fall into the trap. I still don’t know what I think of this woman, whether she’s my mother or not, and with all that’s gone on, I can’t make any rational decisions.

I feel a sudden need to appear on top of things, disregard her words and continue on with my questioning. “You led him here, didn’t you?” Looking up, I examine Sadie’s face. It’s bright red from the cold. Her eyes are watery, I’m sure from the cold as well, yet there’s a familiarity in her eyes. Something the two of us share. While we both have the same eyes, we also have the same concerned look in them as if we both know she did exactly that. Sadie Lawrence brought that man here whether she wanted to or not.

Sadie doesn’t answer so I decide to continue. “I’m not leaving Nathan.” I’ve gotten back to his side and pulled him to a sitting position. He’s still breathing and he has a pulse, although for how long, I can’t say for sure.


"You two were really close, weren't you?"

My mother nods. "It's funny, I think about that whole moment all the time... How I met Vita, how she welcomed me into her home, asked me to her parties..." She chuckles and pulls her arms close to herself. "Told me I could live with her when Gobias kicked me out. She was always there and even if she did bad things, deep down she really was a good person. She was a good friend..." Sadie brings her eyes up to meet mine. "And I destroyed it."

I see in my mother's eyes how much this affects her. Everything that happened the moment she'd been asked to travel to Sunset Valley, dropped off at Gobias's house and asked to destroy Vita and Nick...

"How do you get past it?" I ask her. I watch her consider the question and she turns her body towards me, like she'd ready to open up and that's when I hear the loud alarm go off. Across the path from us a hotdog eating contest is about to begin. They're just waiting for somebody to fill the final spot.

"That brings back memories," she says to me as she gets to her feet. She's already started walking towards the table before I grab her arm.

"No, wait, how did you get past it?" I repeat, but she's not listening. She'd actually dragging me with her to the table, going on and on about some person named Marlie and how they had met each other during one of these contests.


"So, Delilah, you want to embark in the path of the destroyer?"

I want to smile, it sounds so silly, but I remind myself of what my mother mentioned earlier. That we only have one chance at this. I straighten my face. "Yes. I want those who have hurt me to pay."

Master Lee leers at me. "Somebody take those stilettos you really wanted from Holt Renfrew before you could get your hands on them?" He tosses his head back with a chuckle. "You're Delilah Alto, one of the wealthiest girls in Sunset Valley and you want payback? If my students had a fraction of your life..."

His tone begins to catch me off guard. It's not like a slap across my face. It's slow, it lingers, and I don't know what to say or do as it moves past me.

"My daughter has been through hell and back, Master Lee," Sadie steps in.

"Your daughter is a selfish girl who always gets what she wants." He raises his hand to stop both me and my mother from defending ourselves. "I have students who are train wrecks when they arrive at my doorstep, people who have been screwed by a higher hierarchy and have been broken into tiny fractures. Look at her. Delilah Alto looks to be doing quite well if you ask me."


“Now, before I get you out of there, I want to know everything. Tell me who these people are and why.”

“You have to–” Daniel gasps, still trying to breathe as the waves he’s made himself slap him and threaten to choke him. While my hand is keeping him from dropping to the bottom, it’s still up to him to keep above the water’s surface. “You have to get me out of here!”

“I said I would once you start talking.”

“I promised them that I would do as they asked–“

“Who, Daniel? Who did you promise?”

He says who, but he’s coughing and sputtering that I can’t comprehend what he’s said. So I ask him again and he tells me.

“Paragon?” This time it is I who is sputtering. I had almost completely forgotten about the organization that my mother had been hired by to destroy the Altos. For I had believed that they’d been so quiet for so long because they were slowly withering away into nothingness, when in reality they were nothing but puppeteers dragging us all along for there little ride. The thought sickens me and it takes a lot for me not to rage on. No, I need to be smart. I need to think smart.

“I promised them that I would bring you in, convince you to work with them. Deli, we were going to work together, we were going to do great things.”

“No,” I say with a shake of the head. “Paragon doesn’t do great things. They are terrible people.”

“But I couldn’t do it,” he steamrolls on. “I couldn’t bring you back with me. They’d separate us and your life would turn into mine. A lie.”

“And what are we supposed to do now?” I ask him.

“Run, keep off the grid, whatever we can, Deli. They’ll look for us, but it won’t be hard to stay out of sight. We can do it.”

But the thing is, I know we can’t do it. My mother had been running from them since the moment she’d been betrayed by Paragon. She tried to distract them, keep out of their view so to speak and look where it got her. No, as easy as it sounds to keep off of Paragon’s radar, somehow, one way or another, the slimy organization finds a way, a hole, back to our feet. You can’t truly run away from Paragon. All one can do is delay them.

I pull Daniel in a bit closer to me. I let go of his hand and cup the jaw of his that goes on for days. I lean in closer again to him, put my mouth up to his ear and whisper, “Go to hell.”

I let him go completely as he splashes upon the surface of the water, the weight of the ball now heavier than ever, dragging his sorry body to the bottom of the pool. With Nathan by my side, I watch as Daniel fights for life, but he’s struggling more so than ever now. Our eyes connect, Daniel’s and mine. Where once was a shade of arrogance has been replaced with the look of bewilderment, betrayal and fear. Especially fear. Real fear because now there is no out.

“Yo-You promised you’d save me!” He coughs as he’s being pulled down, down, down.

I shrug. “I lied. Goodbye, Daniel.”


"You forced it?"

I look over my shoulder. Connie has stopped midstride on her way to the kitchen and glares at me. I try to ask her what she means, but she's beaten me to the punch.

"You destroyed a child's relationship with her parents, her family? Why?"

I give her a look of uncertainty. "Because we needed to get Matt out of the spotlight. By dragging him out and forcing her in, Matt's become yesterday's news."

"And you couldn't have found a different way? Deli, you tore a hole in a family's tapestry, you hurt a young girl!"

I can see from where I sit that Connie's emotions are stirring closer to the surface. I know she's been dealing with a lot lately. She's been uncertain about a lot that's happened especially after Sean's death, and yet her ability to question me rubs me the wrong way. I get up from my seat as she continues.

"Deli, I thought we were trying to gain access to into Paragon, not this... this... cruelty."

"We are, but this way I have nailed two birds with one stone. I'm closer than ever to the Hammings—chasing their daughter to the ends of the earth to make sure she's okay means something—and they have less reason to question my love for their son."

"And the other bird?"

I sigh. "She deserved to know."

I watch as Connie's eyes round in both confusion and sadness.

"What?"

"Chloe deserved to know the truth. There should never have been a secret to break free in the first place. Something like that would hurt a girl if it came out at a time her parents believed was right. The sooner the better."

"You don't think she's hurt now?"

"Oh she's devastated," I say matter-of-factly, "on the edge of her breaking point. But she's not nearly as hurt as she would be when Edie and Arthur finally gathered the courage to break it to her. If anything, I did them all a favour."

"I can't believe I'm hearing this from you," Connie mutters as she looks me up and down. I spot rage, real rage in her eyes and I think I spot maybe even pity. "SHE'S NOT YOU AND EDIE'S NOT VITA!"


The floor has started to swoop back and forth below me as I step out of the washroom and back into the living room. I grab onto the back of the sofa to stabilize myself in case I go down. I didn't realize it until now how much had happened since this all began. To think earlier today I was hesitant about going forward with my mission. But now... It is exactly what I said to Daniel a year ago. We can never truly run away from Paragon. All we can do is delay them. I just wish all of them could be at my side when I do it. Nathan, Connie... My mother.

This is the beginning of the end and it all starts now.

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E20: Little Red Lines
« Reply #287 on: October 10, 2018, 10:55:07 AM »
Divine Deception
"Little Red Lines"


To believe that fate is already etched in stone from the moment of birth, one must come to terms with the fact that life itself is but a gathering of predetermined events, strung together by little red lines. In William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, one could believe there was nothing Caesar could have done to avoid his death even if his arrogance blinded him to the possibility of it. But can a belief in this path we call life be as unyielding as it is eternal? Or can one's true fate only be revealed once they come to the end of their journey and meet their end?

"We'll be there will bells on, Mother," Matt says on the other side of the bed, phone to his ear. Like he's been there for the last twenty minutes. I can guess what Eadie is saying on the other end of the line. That she's been worried sick since we went on our honeymoon and that she hasn't seen him since the wedding a few weeks ago. Eadie must have just invited us for dinner, I can tell. Just by how Matt's eyes dance around as his mother babbles on and on about how she misses him. Me? She couldn't care less. Just another day.

"She's excited to see you," Matt tells me enthusiastically after he's ended the call. A little too enthusiastically if you ask me and from the look in his eyes, I can tell Eadie didn't say one word about me. I listen to him though, let him go on as he gets up from the bed and begins getting dressed. The funny part is if Eadie and I do end up seeing each other tonight, it's going to be one hell of a time.

Even if I nod my head and make it seem like I am excited for this gathering of theirs, I don't plan on being there for any of it. Tonight is the night I have been waiting for an extremely long time. Tonight is when I break into Paragon.

I'll admit, I didn't see this day ever coming. Breaking into Paragon? Sure, I've fantasized about it back a year ago when I first stepped onto the tarmac of that horrible Grind bar scene. But to actually know deep down that in less than a day, less than half a day, I will be walking in and ruining everything like the destroyer they created themselves.

I kiss Matt goodbye and watch him leave the house.

I make it to the other side of the city in a little less than six hours. It's not all travelling, though. I've stopped at my house, went over everything with Jackie and Whitman. I gathered my weapons, my intel, my everything. I checked over all our files just to make sure we haven't missed anything. Nope. This is it. Jackie and Whitman both offer their suggestions, hand me a map and get me into my car.

"Remember that construction site," Jackie had mentioned to me through my car's open window and now I stand right there. From everything I was able to gather from Matt's laptop, I learned that Paragon's headquarters are floors beneath the Grind. Same land, same building, just many feet beneath the water's surface. It's funny. When I walked into the club many months ago, the last thing I would have suspected was that I was actually standing on top of the very place I looked to destroy. Yet here I am again, all set.

And about the construction site: it's my main entry to those bottom floors. Going through the front doors of the Grind and fighting past hordes of guards, security or whatever Paragon has in line for me just isn't ideal, not now anyway. Whitman mentioned going through the tunnels only accessible through the depths of the lake. Time seems to be working for us rather than against us lately. Back many years ago, the water tunnels had been blocked by rocks and the lake's natural seal. But because of a new power plant being put in on the other side of the lake, workers have gone under water and begun clearing everything for safety measures. And as it seems today, for my convenience!

I make it across the construction site in no time at all, climb over crates and past barricades. On the other side, I check my surroundings. I can see the Grind far on the other side of the lake, flashing neon spotlights swimming into the night sky. But other than that, the area is pretty much lifeless. No boats on the water, nobody on the road. There's not even a working light in the construction zone that I need to keep away from.

I slip my fist-sized rebreather into my mouth and dive into the water. The temperature of the water makes my body flinch. I wasn't expecting it to be so cold for the beginning of April, especially with my wetsuit. But as I swim more, deeper into the depths of the lake darkened by what seemed like the jaws of hell itself, water surrounds my body and heats up and the warmer I get. Twenty minutes into my work and it's like I've been gifted heated waters.

The farther I go, I am tempted to turn on my dive light. I can't see anything in front of me and where I have come from could be anywhere. The only thing I can make out is the moon way above my head. Because of this, I decide against it. A dive light will be much too bright for the dead of night. I don't need anybody catching sight of a random beam, not now. Instead, I bring my arm forward. Velcroed to it is a waterproof GPS. Its interface is dim but enough to light some of my way.

I finally make contact with one of the tunnels Whitman referenced earlier. By now I have somewhat gotten accustomed to travelling by my GPS only and almost collide with the wall with a thud. Thankfully, I keep my hands out in front of me and they save me from such injury. I make my way inside.

The tunnels tighten around me like the coils of a python. Even with a rebreather, I struggle to catch my breath. I've been in tight spaces before, but this... It's different somehow... Like my lungs are being squeezed by unseen hands. Before long, the passage is expanding again and I make it to the surface.

But even as I get out, I feel that something is off. The air smells like algae mixed with chlorine. That's not so surprising. I am in a water treatment room it looks like. Big machines making sloshing noises is something to be expected. Yet it's not that that feels wrong.

"It's nothing," I tell myself, pulling the rebreather from my mouth and straightening up. It's probably my excitement. This has been what I've been going after for so long and what I've lost so much going after. I'd be off myself if I wasn't beginning to feel slightly overwhelmed.

There's a door on the other side of the room—only one. I don't bother trying to open the door. It will be locked and the only reason I know is because of the weird mechanism beside it. Next to it is a square plaque with a hole in its middle. This is the old-style lock Jackie had told me about and the reason why I ran around the museum back in the winter. In my back pocket, I pull out the blue gem I stole. It clicks into place and I hear the lock actually click open. Putting the gem back, I walk through the door.

The hallways are bare for the most part as I keep silent, moving forward. Even for how tight they are, there's an airy quality about them to the point where they seem cold and distant. I check a few doors as I pass them. They are all locked. I've come prepared, though. I've brought a screwdriver with me as well as a hand-sized crowbar. Down near the floor, I crouch to the nearest vent and begin taking it apart. It doesn't take long and I'm inside it without any complications, sliding past sheet metal to the other end. Getting the vent on the other end off takes a bit more work, but I make do. With a few well-placed shots from my foot, the vent comes away easily and I pull myself out.

I can't say the lighting is much better here. I can barely see a set of elevator doors on my right and the stairs straight across from me. A blossom of light catches my attention, however. In the gloom of the room, it's like a fiery beacon, summoning me toward it. A board is on the other end, spotlights igniting it in a cone of blue. I stand without question, my steps towards the light long and steady. And I stop in front of it.

The first thing I see is my mother. It's a photograph of her, it looks like a mugshot but much more delicate. A piece of tape keeps the photo to the board. A photo of my father is next to her, a red piece of string connecting the two of them. But it's not only the two of them. The board is filled with other photos too! Vita, Nathan, even Grady is there. And then there are countless photos of me. I'm in the centre, strings connecting to and from me to everybody I've ever known.

"What is this?" I say, my hands shaking and for the life of me I can't put any of it together. My eyes just follow string to string, from person to person and photo to photo. Me as a baby, my mother going to jail, me going to Master Lee's.

I have to put a hand on the board. I have to make sure that it is real because there is no way I can actually be witnessing something so bizarre. My mind has to have created this on its own. The chlorine from the water treatment, something has to be the reason I am seeing this.

Yet my hand touches the surface of the board, my nails smoothly sinking into the cork. It's as real as the air I'm breathing. It's not in my head at all.

And then a ding comes out of nowhere and the elevator doors open.

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E21: Ambush
« Reply #288 on: October 18, 2018, 04:10:17 PM »
Divine Deception
"Ambush"



((Because of a weapons mod and strong language, this episode of Divine Deception can be found HERE !))

Like, comment, enjoy!

Remember: There are only three episodes left, so if you haven't caught up on all of your Divine Deception needs, tune in. Read and see how the series ends!


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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E22: Afterlife
« Reply #289 on: November 08, 2018, 11:58:14 AM »
Divine Deception
"Afterlife"



((Because of a weapons mod, this episode of Divine Deception can be found HERE !))

Like, comment, enjoy!

Remember: There are only two episodes left, so if you haven't caught up on all of your Divine Deception needs, tune in. Read and see how the series ends!

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E23: Hellfire
« Reply #290 on: November 16, 2018, 09:45:38 AM »
Divine Deception
"Hellfire"



It's one of the biggest moments in Divine Deception—the ultimate destruction!

((Because of a weapons mod, language and violence, this episode of Divine Deception can be found HERE !))

Like, comment, enjoy!

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E24: Series Finale
« Reply #291 on: November 23, 2018, 09:33:35 AM »
Divine Deception
"Mercy"


For those who believe that life ends when one's death is met, resurrection is more of a fairytale than a reality. Death is consequential, a tally of all the good things and how much bad was delivered while on the earth's ground. But for the few who believe otherwise, death is not an ending, but rather a new beginning. I never believed in anything after life. I thought it would just end in an emptiness of repetitive motions, cycling through until the end of time. But it wasn't until today that I realized I had been dead for a very long time and those motions had been cycling for years now in what I once believed was me living life. I spent many days in the fiery depths of hell and would never have thought that to stop fighting would bring me to the light. Today the dead shall live. Today, I am alive. Today I rose from the dead.

The moist ground cools the bottom of my legs while the sun, high above, feels like it could burn my skin in seconds. It is easily one of the hottest days Riverview has seen in years. I disregard it and place my hand on the surface of the gravestone in front of me, my fingers tracing the name engraved in its front. Sadie Lawrence.

"I'm sorry it took me so long," I whisper.

Footprints have flattened the ground nearby. Flowers rest on both the top of the stone as well as the surface in front of it. A dozen tulips are from me, wrapped in white lace. But there are more than a couple roses here and there as if somebody has come by daily to drop them off. I can think of nobody other than Vic. I hope I am right.

I look back up at the stone again. "I always did have trouble facing what stands in front of me—come to terms with the truth some could say... For more than a year I thought I had found my way, that I had clear goals and everything made sense, but no. The truth is, I think I was more lost than ever.

"I thought if I could just keep pushing, everything would balance out. Instead I pushed everybody away. I couldn't blame them—nobody understood what I was feeling. But you did. And I hope more than anything that I did you proud."

The shuffling of grass behind me perks my ears and I spot a long, stretchy shadow slither into view. I look behind me and see Connie. She puts her hand on my shoulder, gives it a reassuring squeeze and then says, "It's time to go." She says it so softly, like if she speaks too loudly that she may wake the dead.

I pat her hand back and nod. Kissing my fingers, I then press them against the stone. "I love you," I say. I press harder for a few seconds and then release. Connie doesn't push. She just waits for me to be ready and then I am on my feet and following her back to the car.

The rest of the morning flies by in a flash. I am wanted here, there and everywhere. Makeup, hair, here get into your dress! I have great people around me, friends, true friends, men and women I can count on. When we are ready, we leave the house and head to our destination.

Before I can even think about opening my door, Whitman is right there, hands gloved in white, opening it for me. He's wearing a frilly suit I expect to be stuffed in an antique mall.

I meet his gaze. The day I went out for Paragon, I had left him with Jackie. Poor guy had been gagged and tied up the moment I drove off. For a split moment during my confrontation with Jackie, I thought maybe Whitman had been working with them. But when I returned to the house and found him completely bundled together with ropes and handcuffs, I knew better than to assume certain things, especially when he had fought to get across the room and use only his tongue and nose to log in to Paragon's servers and delete everything. Everything Jackie had threatened me with was gone in a snap of the fingers.

I get out of the car and he leads me to the cruise ship. Through the portholes, I can see countless guests. Something snaps to my side. I quickly look down and see William.

"Mommy, you look beautiful!"

I crouch down to his level. "And don't you look handsome." His collar is sticking up and I fold it down for him.

"I'm the ring baron! See?" He lifts the poofy, silk pillow in his hands up to my face.

"The ring baron, huh?" I ask and he just laughs.

"We're just about ready," Connie says. She is directly in front of us now and waves at the pianist and everything begins. I give William a kiss on the cheek and he wipes it like I have just slobbered all over him.

"Mom!"

I can't suppress a giggle. Connie whispers where he needs to go into Willaim's ear and then gives him a nice nudge through the doors. Through the porthole I watch my son strut down the aisle like he's done this a million times before. When he makes it to the end, Connie already has her bouquet and starts down it as well.

My gaze wanders up the aisle, across the decorations. They are simple yet elegant. Compared to the overabundance of the decor at my wedding with Matt, this is perfect. There are no flashy lights or streamers going every which way.

Matthew...

With everything that has gone on, I hope most of all he can move on from this. I can only assume he's at home, trying my other phone, trying to get Samantha Millens to pick up. He's probably worried sick, thinking the worst. That is after wondering what happened to his father. Who knows if he managed to make it out of the Grind before all hell broke loose. If there is one thing I can rely on, it's that Eadie will be there to tarnish Samantha Millen's name and make her son feel better by forgetting that girl next door. I never would have imagined I would feel comfort from that woman, yet here I am.

Whitman squeezes my hand and pulls me back out of my thoughts.

"Are you ready to do this?" he asks, his other hand on the door, ready to lead me out.

I have to smile. Am I ready for this? I've never been ready for anything more in my whole life. I've been waiting ages to be in this very spot.

Whitman pushes open the doors to lead me through and I see Nathan for the first time today. I think my heart skips a beat, it even flutters and as cheesy as it sounds, I can't describe it any other way. Excitement, happiness, safety. I don't know what it is, I just know that I like it. Honestly, I never thought I would ever see him again after that horrible night when we last spoke.

For how short the aisle way is, it feels like the lengths of multiple dump trucks and I don't want to walk anymore, I actually want to run. But as I do, Whitman's grip on my hand holds me back, squeezing to slow me down. It feels like forever when I am finally standing in front of Nathan.

"Hi," he says to me, beaming. There are tears in his eyes.

"Hi," I say back with a giggle. There are tears in my eyes too.

The service begins and I am going through the motions. For once it doesn't feel difficult. As destroyers we are taught to go with the flow when things begin to fall off the rails. But nothing is falling now and nothing is hinting at the possibility that imminent doom is just beyond the horizon. And for once it feels good. I remember what my mother wrote down in her file on Paragon's server. What she said about her wedding day with my father. That it was a commitment to each other, but one that wouldn't lead to an ending full of happily ever afters. That instead it would lead to a battlefield. How was it she put it?

"One that I must fully commit to my enemies on until death do us part."

I don't feel that at all. And when I am asked, "Do you take Nathan to be your lawfully wedded husband?" I don't hesitate for a moment. My mother was uncertain about her marriage to my father like I was with Matt. But here, with Nathan just an arm's length away, there is nothing in me that wants to say anything other than, "I do!"

"Then I pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride."

I almost jump into his arms, grabbing his head, kissing him. I peek through my closed eyes. The men and women around us begin to clap. Some hoot and holler. Some toss confetti and others ball their eyes out. Yet, in the back, through the many people, somebody else grabs my attention. I can't tell if it is who I think it is or if my eyes are playing tricks on me because in an instant, in the time it takes me to blink, the visitors are all up on their feet and that woman is lost in the crowd.

Nathan pulls my attention back on him as he turns and looks at the crowd. Bubbles are blown into the air, the pianist begins his melody again and we are ushered down the aisle. This time while I am allowed to move at a faster pace, I don't want to. I try to slow a bit, try to get a better look at where the woman had been previously, but I am just pulled more forward, pressed to go, go, go! Nathan and I are out the doors at the end, led up a set of stairs and to the deck above.

The day continues at an alarming rate. We need to cut the cake, it's the first dance as husband and wife, speech, speech, speech! Oh and of course, tink, tink, tink on the wine glasses to get us to kiss, kiss, kiss! I can't remember the night I was married to Matt very well, but for some reason I don't think it was as pushy as it is here. Maybe I was worried too much about getting from point A to point B to really take anything in. Whereas here I am taking in everything because I have nothing to keep my mind off of it. And even if I wanted to get from point A to point B here, I can't. The ship has left the dock and unless I want to take a long swim back to shore...

When it is time to throw the bouquet, it is suggested that we do it downstairs. Nobody wants to have it accidentally get chucked over the edge of the boat and we all know many of the women here will actually take a leap for the precious bundle of flowers.

As everybody makes their way back to where the ceremony was held, I catch sight of a woman at a table in the far corner of the deck. Connie tries to lead me back to stairs, but I tell her to go on ahead without me.

"I just need some fresh air," I say and when she asks if I am sure, I add, "Yes, I'll be there in a minute, promise."

"Okay, but don't wait too long. That bouquet is mine!"

I laugh and watch her take the stairs and it is only me and the other woman. I walk over to her.

"I thought I saw you earlier," I say and take a seat next to her.

My mother stares out into the open waters, eyes sparkling with tears. "Delilah..." she says and I can hear the struggle in her voice as if her throat is closing up on her. "I'm so sorry."

My eyes narrow. "For what?"

"Your father... I took him away from you."

"Mom..."

"You have to believe me when I say I never wanted to go through with it. When Peters... after you were born... I didn't think there was any other way."

I lean forward—she's still looking out into the distance at the horizon or maybe, probably something even more far away—and clasp her hands in mine. "I don't doubt it for a second. I never knew who he was and maybe I never wanted to know him. I guess the hardest part was coming to terms with that."

"That?" she asks me and finally she is looking at me in the eyes.

"Years ago I thought maybe he was hiding out, trying to keep away from me, that maybe he would show up somewhere so that I could understand him, maybe even understand myself." I shrug my shoulders. "But now I know that was never the case."

My mother recoils a bit. "Can you ever forgive me for not being a good mother?" Even as she asks it, she tries to pull her hands away. I don't let her.

"There is nothing to forgive, Mom. I know how much I put you through. I blamed you for so much and as much as I used to want to keep blaming you for not being there for me, you've always been there for me. You saved me more times than I can count.  From the day you chose me over Paragon when I was a baby to the other night when you tried to choose me over Paragon again—you saved my life and I owe you everything. I'm just sorry you had to carry everything all by yourself for all these years."

My mother breaks down sobbing and I hurry to her side, my arms around her. I am crying too.

It takes almost ten minutes to regain both of ourselves. We wipe each other's tears and hug.

"You have no idea how proud I am of you," my mother says, getting to her feet. She kisses me and tells me she loves me. Every time I think I have recomposed myself, I break down again, which then leads her to break down too.

"Honey?" somebody says behind me. I turn around, wiping my face even if it is no use. Makeup running, face red. Just coming up the stairs is Nathan alone. I don't know if he—or anybody for that matter—can see my mother, but I am about to say thank you to her and as I turn, she's no longer there. I stand still as anything, my eyes scanning the deck back and forth until I realize that it's over.

"Connie's getting impatient down there," Nathan says as he closes the space between us. "Who knows what that girl's gonna' do for a bouquet—is something wrong?"

I'm standing at the railing, looking at that same spot my mother was just minutes ago, out past the horizon, past the clouds, back at the past. I feel Nathan slip his arms around me.

"Deli?"

I was told when I opened a book for the first time, I would be given three sections of importance: a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning was to do its part to transform my imagination to reality. It would introduce the people I would be tethered to throughout the journey, paved out to an ending of happily ever after. For a long time I didn't believe that this story could be like that. That a happily ever after could never work. Lust, heartache and destruction were but simple stepping stones to get me to an end goal.

I should consider myself lucky. Life rarely gives second chances to people like myself. Deeply etched wounds come with the path of a destroyer and while I expected to die with Jackie alone and unloved, somebody saved me from myself. Somehow I managed to win life back, convinced it to spare me as well as the people I forcefully pushed away.

I lean back into Nathan's arms and nuzzle against his neck. Did he really ask me if something was wrong?

"Absolutely nothing."

Offline Agathon

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E24: Series Finale
« Reply #292 on: November 24, 2018, 04:56:35 AM »
Great story, exp! Lovely pictures, as always (I've learned a lot (or at least something (I hope)) from how you do it). Hope Nathan isn't working for someone (how's Alicia doing, btw...?). Part of me hoped Delilah would end up going all-out destroyer, leaving Nathan and William behind for a far darker existence, but maybe she deserved a happy ending. I'll miss her adventures!
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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E24: Series Finale
« Reply #293 on: November 26, 2018, 08:49:04 AM »
Thanks for the comment @Agathon! This finale was the first thing that came to my mind when I was putting together the finale almost a year ago and I went with it. But I can't say I haven't thought about an alternative ending. Depending on how my time goes, maybe I will write a darker, alternative ending and post it.  :o

Regarding Alicia: I started from scratch at the beginning of season 3 when I got my new computer so everything before that was lost so I have no idea what happened to Alicia or Nathan's family (other than Nathan's brother getting married to Hunter Cotteneye and adopting  :P ) or any of the other characters from season 1 and 2.   :-\ :-\

And thank you for the compliment on the pictures. The best thing I learned was the camera button aka the tab key. It takes the pictures from "meh" to "much better" haha.

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E24: Series Finale
« Reply #294 on: November 27, 2018, 01:04:01 PM »
I had never used the tab key myself until after I started writing. Using it helps, but it won't make good pictures by itself. I remember seeing your opening picture for "Collateral Damage", and I just sat staring at it, blown away. The colors of the house and the gate combine perfectly with the sky, while Deli really stands out against it. Seeing her from low-down, through the gate, provides the necessary perspective to see both the house and the sky, but it also turns the gate into some sort of combination of a drapery and a frame. The perspective also emphasizes the pattern of the tiles on the ground, and where they lead the eyes: To the door, visible through the next set of bars in the gate, and to the garage doors (as if hinting at entrance and exit), with Deli in the middle, framed by the two "beams" formed by the patterned tiles.

It's hard to get tired of Deli. Though she (mostly) looks a bit sweet and innocent, and her hair always lights up the screen, a rather cynical mind seemed to develop inside that head of hers. It would have been interesting to see her tumble all the way down the rabbithole of cynicism.

I think you got Sean perfectly. The moment I saw him, I felt filthy sleaze oozing out his every pore. I can understand why you didn't keep him around for very long.

How many posepacks do you use? Do you load/unload them for shooting a specific sequence?

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E24: Series Finale
« Reply #295 on: November 28, 2018, 09:13:16 AM »
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I had never used the tab key myself until after I started writing. Using it helps, but it won't make good pictures by itself. I remember seeing your opening picture for "Collateral Damage", and I just sat staring at it, blown away. The colors of the house and the gate combine perfectly with the sky, while Deli really stands out against it. Seeing her from low-down, through the gate, provides the necessary perspective to see both the house and the sky, but it also turns the gate into some sort of combination of a drapery and a frame. The perspective also emphasizes the pattern of the tiles on the ground, and where they lead the eyes: To the door, visible through the next set of bars in the gate, and to the garage doors (as if hinting at entrance and exit), with Deli in the middle, framed by the two "beams" formed by the patterned tiles.

Wow... I never thought of any of that. I am so happy you enjoyed that picture. I liked it, one of the reasons why I used it as my opening shot, but you seem to have this perspective on picture taking. Did you go to school for photography? I mean, I wish I could stick my hand up and go "Yup, I did that and this is why and how I got it, etc." but I honestly I just keep pressing that C button. But that really is an amazing compliment @Agathon and I can't thank you enough for it. Thank you.
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It's hard to get tired of Deli. Though she (mostly) looks a bit sweet and innocent, and her hair always lights up the screen, a rather cynical mind seemed to develop inside that head of hers. It would have been interesting to see her tumble all the way down the rabbithole of cynicism.

It's funny, it did cross my mind many times--do I go for a happy ending or do I go for the unhappy ending. The first idea I came up with was what I ended up using: the happy ending. But while writing everything, especially after The Blackest Day when all she's done is push everybody away, I wondered if destroying her along with Paragon was the way to go. Now, with the story complete, I feel a want to go back to Deli and see what I can do with her in an alternate ending. I've been playing as her mainly for almost four years now (with aging off lol) and I am having a difficult time creating new sims to play as and be happy with. So maybe I shouldn't push her away so soon. I do see myself playing as her in an alternate plotline even if it is only one episode length.

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I think you got Sean perfectly. The moment I saw him, I felt filthy sleaze oozing out his every pore. I can understand why you didn't keep him around for very long.
Oh good! While creating him I couldn't figure out how to show that side of him so I kind of just tossed it out there. But I will say that wasn't the reason I wanted to get rid of him so early on. I wanted something that was a bit shocking to the audience. I mean, a sim tumbling off the edge of a roof isn't something this story has seen before. But we also needed something that made Deli want more than anything to begin her descent into misery. And what better way than to have Deli blame herself for her source's death.

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How many posepacks do you use? Do you load/unload them for shooting a specific sequence?
I have a nice size collection. There are certain ones that I keep on all the time. They are mainly general poses like standing, walking, sitting poses that I can use if something sparks inside of me. Unless I have something specific in mind that happens in an episode (Sean going over the roof, attacking Paragon at HQ, breaking into the museum, etc.) I usually let the sims do their thing and take photos when I see fit. With this mentality, having those general poses loaded all the time can be extremely helpful if something gets inspirational. Everything is right there if I need it.

But the other posepacks that are very distinct like sword stances, fighting packs, weapon mods, etc. Those I upload when I know what I am going to need them or if I am going into a play which is going to be more staged like Hellfire, Ambush or Afterlife. There is no need to upload them to my game if I am not going to use them--waste of space.

If you want to know of any poses that I do use, let me know which ones and I can post the names below.



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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E24: Series Finale
« Reply #296 on: November 28, 2018, 03:59:24 PM »
I have some camera equipment, but I haven't taken any lessons, and when I take pictures, I lack the talent and speed of mind to see if the result will work or not. When a picture catches my eye, I do like to stop and get analytical about why I think it "works". I think some of the things you do well, is keeping in mind the option to get down low, getting close, being aware of what's in the frame, and narrowing your focus to the most important part of the scene.

I'd love to see more of Deli. Having played her for so long, I'd guess you're attached to her. With that in mind, maybe you'll have to weigh how loyal you are to her as a character, and whether any alternative escapades conflicts with who you feel she is?

So, Sean was born (and killed) from having to fulfill a story function. How often do you find that the story dictates the characters, and vice-versa? Do you sometimes find yourself creating a character you didn't plan to include in the story, and adapting the story to fit that character in?

I'd be interesting in some walking poses, I'm still lacking those. Having fallen prone to over-creating, I've downloaded a bunch of posepacks (around 120 or something), and I'm having some trouble keeping them organized. I find myself loading and unloading 8-14 packs for every set of scenes, and I can't remember what it's in all of them (idiotically, I deleted some of the pics that came with the poses, thinking I wouldn't need them).

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E24: Series Finale
« Reply #297 on: December 01, 2018, 10:51:29 AM »
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I have some camera equipment, but I haven't taken any lessons, and when I take pictures, I lack the talent and speed of mind to see if the result will work or not. When a picture catches my eye, I do like to stop and get analytical about why I think it "works". I think some of the things you do well, is keeping in mind the option to get down low, getting close, being aware of what's in the frame, and narrowing your focus to the most important part of the scene.

That is something I tried differently this time. My previous story (The Man Under My Bed) was an experiment of sorts lol, but I struggled to get close with the camera or low because of the way the camera likes to "bump" when it gets too close to sims or other objects. Thankfully the camera button fixes most of these issues, although highrises are still a struggle most of the time. When I started Divine Deception, I wanted to do something different with the pictures to make them stand out a bit more, make them look a bit better. I decided unless I needed a specific picture, I wouldn't use an isometric angle--it looks too much like I just took a picture ingame. Also, unless it was for a specific purpose, I wouldn't try to centre my subjects either.



Take this photo for example. If I had Sadie in the middle, it wouldn't have looked as right as it does with her off centre. There is an actual thing it is called and I can't remember what it is, but if we added five vertical guidelines to the photo (two at the very edges, one in the middle and two in between them ((one between middle and left edge, and one between middle and right edge))), we would place the subject on lines 2 or 4. Maybe it makes it more dynamic, I don't know, but I always kept that in mind. There is probably a reason this works  :D :D

Also, getting close allowed me to make some depth. I think of it like Little Big Planet where there are three layers on the stage: front, middle, back.



Here we have our subjects (Connie and Whitman) in the middle, the background and we have people in front of them. I could honestly be speaking out my own rear end here, but to me this creates both atmosphere (it feels more crowded, almost claustrophobic) and it also gives some depth. If the people in the front hadn't been there, it would have just been a picture of them sitting there. But with the extra people, to me at least, we're looking through the crowd as Deli.

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I'd love to see more of Deli. Having played her for so long, I'd guess you're attached to her. With that in mind, maybe you'll have to weigh how loyal you are to her as a character, and whether any alternative escapades conflicts with who you feel she is?

I love playing as Deli and writing as her now. When she was first introduced in season 2 aka her valley girl phase ::) ::) I struggled a lot. But now, I don't really want to let her go. I have played as a few other families here and there, but it is almost boring. I mean, I even created a gigolo sim and I even found him boring. How could that be boring?!!

At least with an alternate ending, I can do what I want with her and it is up to the reader which ending they prefer.

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So, Sean was born (and killed) from having to fulfill a story function. How often do you find that the story dictates the characters, and vice-versa? Do you sometimes find yourself creating a character you didn't plan to include in the story, and adapting the story to fit that character in?

Usually, all the characters I need in a season are already created before any "filming" takes place and those characters are limited. I think that is why the first season reads so smoothly in comparison to the others. Season 1 was based in Sunset Valley, and everybody knows Sunset in and out. Everybody knows the Altos, everybody knows Gobias, everybody knows Alto Manor. And yes, I introduced a lot of sims I created, but the story never revolved around them and I think that was such a good thing. I kind of wish that I could have spent more time to get to know the sims of the other worlds so that the same could have grown in seasons 2, 3 and 4, but time is time lol.

And, yes, Sean was born to die so to move the story forward, just like the twins in s1 were created to add some humour to the story (something I missed in s2), like Daniel was created to create a bit of a love triangle and test Deli and Nathan's (and evidently Deli and Sadie's) relationship in s3, and Matt's family was created to simply create conflict for Deli in s4--especially Eadie.

What those characters do, however, is usually dictated by Story Progression. I never intended for Vita to get pregnant in the first season--prime example. But there she was in the third episode looking a little bigger than usual :o  Yet I couldn't be happier that it happened. One of my favourite episodes of s1 is One and Only where Sadie gets Alicia taken away from the household. I don't think I would ever have thought of something like that on my own. Yes, it was my idea to get rid of the kid, but that idea would never have happened had Story Progression not made her preggo. It was the perfect opportunity to show some progression in Sadie as well. It showed that she isn't some wannabe Destroyer. This took her to a whole other level.

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I'd be interesting in some walking poses, I'm still lacking those. Having fallen prone to over-creating, I've downloaded a bunch of posepacks (around 120 or something), and I'm having some trouble keeping them organized. I find myself loading and unloading 8-14 packs for every set of scenes, and I can't remember what it's in all of them (idiotically, I deleted some of the pics that came with the poses, thinking I wouldn't need them).

@Agathon I don't have a lot of walking poses, BUT the ones I do have are all in one pack. You'll see them used quite a bit in my photos if you look closely.  Anyway, THIS is where I get them.

I know how both time-consuming and taxing it can be to upload and unload. That's why I don't use a lot of poses in my stuff. Unless it is for a specific shot that can't be created using the animations already in the game. Creating a whole scene oi! The series finale was probably the most staged and it was exhausting to put together. Then you have to get everybody there if you want other townies not just your own household. Gah! But it is worth it. 

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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E24: Series Finale
« Reply #298 on: December 04, 2018, 04:33:28 PM »
That is something I tried differently this time. My previous story (The Man Under My Bed) was an experiment of sorts lol, but I struggled to get close with the camera or low because of the way the camera likes to "bump" when it gets too close to sims or other objects. Thankfully the camera button fixes most of these issues, although highrises are still a struggle most of the time. When I started Divine Deception, I wanted to do something different with the pictures to make them stand out a bit more, make them look a bit better. I decided unless I needed a specific picture, I wouldn't use an isometric angle--it looks too much like I just took a picture ingame. Also, unless it was for a specific purpose, I wouldn't try to centre my subjects either.

They stand out, and rarely feel like ingame pictures, so you certainly succeeded there!

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Take this photo for example. If I had Sadie in the middle, it wouldn't have looked as right as it does with her off centre. There is an actual thing it is called and I can't remember what it is, but if we added five vertical guidelines to the photo (two at the very edges, one in the middle and two in between them ((one between middle and left edge, and one between middle and right edge))), we would place the subject on lines 2 or 4. Maybe it makes it more dynamic, I don't know, but I always kept that in mind. There is probably a reason this works  :D :D

The rule of thirds. I try to be aware of it too, but it feels like I often have too much stuffed into the frame for it to take precedence. Here, with the lighthouse where both the horizontal and vertical 4's meet, and Sadie lower in the frame, it also aligns the two subjects on a diagonal, which looks great.

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Also, getting close allowed me to make some depth. I think of it like Little Big Planet where there are three layers on the stage: front, middle, back.

Here we have our subjects (Connie and Whitman) in the middle, the background and we have people in front of them. I could honestly be speaking out my own rear end here, but to me this creates both atmosphere (it feels more crowded, almost claustrophobic) and it also gives some depth. If the people in the front hadn't been there, it would have just been a picture of them sitting there. But with the extra people, to me at least, we're looking through the crowd as Deli.

See, you don't just press C. You move that camera left, right, up and down, in and out, and think about what you see. That can be clearly seen in picture after picture. I know it isn't a coincidence when some leaves, candles, or a flower appears in the foreground of your pictures. It creates depth, and can frame the subject. With what is happening in that chapter, it can't be a coincidence that we don't see Deli's face in the mirror in the opening shot of "The Blackest Day" (another brilliant shot).

I completely agree with you about the effect this picture creates, and I think there's another bonus too, provided by the fact that the two bystanders aren't standing still (the woman on the left could be standing still, but she's moving her hands): Dynamism. I'd be too squeamish to take that shot, because I'm still trying to get comfortable with cropping subjects off (one, maybe, but two?!), something you do (sometimes aggressively) to good effect. I'd be liable to zoom in or out, and lose the effect.

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I love playing as Deli and writing as her now. When she was first introduced in season 2 aka her valley girl phase ::) ::) I struggled a lot. But now, I don't really want to let her go. I have played as a few other families here and there, but it is almost boring. I mean, I even created a gigolo sim and I even found him boring. How could that be boring?!!

What's his background? Who were his parents? What was his greatest mistake? What are his habits? What are his short-term and long-term goals? What does he fear? In short: Does he have a story?

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At least with an alternate ending, I can do what I want with her and it is up to the reader which ending they prefer.

If you do what you want with her, will you like her as much as you do now when you're done? That would be my worry if I were you, but I'm not, so... Go ahead :)

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Usually, all the characters I need in a season are already created before any "filming" takes place and those characters are limited. I think that is why the first season reads so smoothly in comparison to the others. Season 1 was based in Sunset Valley, and everybody knows Sunset in and out. Everybody knows the Altos, everybody knows Gobias, everybody knows Alto Manor. And yes, I introduced a lot of sims I created, but the story never revolved around them and I think that was such a good thing. I kind of wish that I could have spent more time to get to know the sims of the other worlds so that the same could have grown in seasons 2, 3 and 4, but time is time lol.

And, yes, Sean was born to die so to move the story forward, just like the twins in s1 were created to add some humour to the story (something I missed in s2), like Daniel was created to create a bit of a love triangle and test Deli and Nathan's (and evidently Deli and Sadie's) relationship in s3, and Matt's family was created to simply create conflict for Deli in s4--especially Eadie.

What those characters do, however, is usually dictated by Story Progression. I never intended for Vita to get pregnant in the first season--prime example. But there she was in the third episode looking a little bigger than usual :o  Yet I couldn't be happier that it happened. One of my favourite episodes of s1 is One and Only where Sadie gets Alicia taken away from the household. I don't think I would ever have thought of something like that on my own. Yes, it was my idea to get rid of the kid, but that idea would never have happened had Story Progression not made her preggo. It was the perfect opportunity to show some progression in Sadie as well. It showed that she isn't some wannabe Destroyer. This took her to a whole other level.

I'm impressed by you having all the characters in place before you start shooting. I'm not that organized, but then again, my story is a bit more all over the place. I see the merit of not letting a story revolve around characters that just pop up, and I don't do that either (I think), but and now then I find myself playing aimlessly around in CAS, and coming up with a character that makes me say: "Who are you then? Really? That sounds fun. OK, I think we can tweak it a bit and find a purpose for you, to fit you in for an episode or two...".

Cool that you can let SP set up some plots for the characters you're not playing. I'm too scared of the thing to let it do that to them, unless they're extremely peripheral in the story. Most of my characters don't have much of a life outside the story, I'm afraid.

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I don't have a lot of walking poses, BUT the ones I do have are all in one pack. You'll see them used quite a bit in my photos if you look closely.  Anyway, THIS is where I get them.

Ah, that one. I remember thinking the scene with Arthur and Deli in the hallway was that pose, but I couldn't remember what pack it was in. I haven't tried those walking poses, I was a bit sceptical about how it'd look without the bag, but I'll try them out. Good posepacks on that site.

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I know how both time-consuming and taxing it can be to upload and unload. That's why I don't use a lot of poses in my stuff. Unless it is for a specific shot that can't be created using the animations already in the game. Creating a whole scene oi! The series finale was probably the most staged and it was exhausting to put together. Then you have to get everybody there if you want other townies not just your own household. Gah! But it is worth it.

Exhausting is the right word... The finale turned out great, in a cool location, and with a great picture to finish it off.
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Re: Divine Deception -- S4E24: Series Finale
« Reply #299 on: December 15, 2018, 09:42:36 AM »
Sorry @Agathon that it took me so long to reply.

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See, you don't just press C. You move that camera left, right, up and down, in and out, and think about what you see. That can be clearly seen in picture after picture. I know it isn't a coincidence when some leaves, candles, or a flower appears in the foreground of your pictures. It creates depth, and can frame the subject. With what is happening in that chapter, it can't be a coincidence that we don't see Deli's face in the mirror in the opening shot of "The Blackest Day" (another brilliant shot)... Dynamism. I'd be too squeamish to take that shot, because I'm still trying to get comfortable with cropping subjects off (one, maybe, but two?!), something you do (sometimes aggressively) to good effect.

Honestly, most of the time it's all mistakes  :P :P :P Although, the photo at the beginning of The Blackest Day was supposed to be a nod towards Slipping Between Knots opening where you only see half of Sadie's face aka the fake half of who she is.

But if you are saying you are uncomfortable about taking a shot, I say just take it. I mean, if it all goes south you can just delete it. But try it, take a risk and step outside your comfort zone. You'd be amazed at what wonderful things you could create.

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What's his background? Who were his parents? What was his greatest mistake? What are his habits? What are his short-term and long-term goals? What does he fear? In short: Does he have a story?

You may have just hit the nail on the head there. There is no backstory, there is no family. He's rather two dimensional, actually, and those are the worst of characters. I never really thought about that before. Sadie had a backstory because for Divine Deception she had to have one. She needed a reason to go after the Altos and she needed a reason to be dropped off on Gobias's doorstep. Even if it's something simple--Sadie's history with the Alto wasn't created until episode four!--there needs to be something. My Gosh, I think you just helped me so much! Thank you!

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Cool that you can let SP set up some plots for the characters you're not playing. I'm too scared of the thing to let it do that to them, unless they're extremely peripheral in the story. Most of my characters don't have much of a life outside the story, I'm afraid.

Well sometimes it comes and slaps me up the side of the head lol. While I was playing Deli and Nathan's family in season 2 (without Sadie and Vic), Sadie and Vic had broken up after Sadie cheated on him with some old guy and gave birth to another baby girl. So, yeah, SP sometimes doesn't work in my favour. Getting those two back together for the rest of the season was a lot of work haha. SP (the mod) has a way of either working for you or against you when trying to write a story. Do you use any mods?


I'll get back to you once I have created something on him.