6.53: Two Years

Two years.

Twenty four months. One hundred and four weeks. Seven hundred and thirty days.

That’s a long fucking time, isn’t it?

Like, think of all the things that can happen in that time. There’s so much that can change.

I mean God, look at where I was two years ago — Finishing school, moving in with Erik… I was so happy. It felt like there was so much to look forward to. Like my life was finally beginning.

And look at me now. I’m more alone than I’ve ever been in my entire life. And I’m about to get two whole fucking years of my life taken away from me.

It’s just not fair. None of this is. And none of this would’ve even happened if it weren’t for… Well, everybody.

If Erik actually had his shit together and got a job, we never would’ve been so desperate for money in the first place.

If my family actually gave a shit about helping me, I never would’ve had to steal from my Oma.

If Rylie and Devin had kept their fucking mouths shut, my parents never would’ve found out the way they did.

And then maybe they wouldn’t have called the fucking cops on me.

And I’ll admit it — I challenged them to do it. I dared them to. But I didn’t actually think they would!

They kept giving me all this crap about how there was “nothing else they could do” and I “didn’t give them any choice”. Yeah, bullshit. Once they found out about the baby, they really fucking regretted turning me in like that. Especially when the judge finally gave me my sentence.

They’re so fucking stupid… They told me they didn’t think I’d get so much jail time. They were expecting another fine, maybe probation…  They felt awful when they found out. They couldn’t stop crying. And you know what? I was glad. They SHOULD feel like shit for what they did. Especially Papa. I know he was the one behind all this. He betrayed me — and his grandchild too.

These past few months have been kind of a whirlwind, I guess. Court dates and talking to lawyers and all that other legal shit. And all my doctor appointments on top of it all. It’s been so fucking stressful. And having to face all of it alone makes it even worse.

It’s so lonely now… I don’t have anybody anymore.

Rylie and Devin used to try calling and texting me all the time, back when this all started. But they wouldn’t leave me the fuck alone, so I blocked their numbers. It breaks my fucking heart, but I just can’t deal with them now. I don’t wanna talk to either of them anymore. This is all their fault. They were supposed to be my best friends, and they betrayed me, just like my parents did.

Then there’s Erik… he betrayed me too. And worst of all, he betrayed our child! I’ll never forget how it felt when I heard him say it — that he doesn’t want our baby. I still can’t believe he wanted to give our child away! I’m so mad at him. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I’ll ever forgive him either.

But… despite everything, there’s a part of me that still misses him. I try not to, but I just can’t help it. I’ve even tried talking to him a few times since they arrested me. But every time, all we do is end up yelling at each other.

He’s living with his brother right now… And, as much as I hate it, I’m back with my parents. We had to give up the apartment, since neither of us can afford it anymore.

I hate being back here. I never leave my old bedroom. I lock the door whenever I can. Anything to avoid having to see my parents any more than I already do.

But I guess it doesn’t really matter, does it?

In less than two months, I’ll be behind bars anyway.

For Two. Fucking. Years.

I tried so many times to write in here about it before now, but I just couldn’t think straight enough to get my thoughts down. I’ve had a couple months to process it by now… To try and “accept” it, I guess.

I’ve been doing a ton of research about it. Trying to figure out what to expect. I mean like, all I really had to go off were a bunch of American movies and TV shows. Orange is the New Black and shit like that. But that’s fiction. Who knows what a real prison’s actually like?

From everything I’ve heard, they do things pretty differently here in Germany than they do in the US, at least… Not that it’ll make things much better. It doesn’t matter how “humane” it is or how much they care about “rehabilitation” and all that crap. Either way, I’m losing my freedom.

 And the more I think about it, the more terrified I feel. And sad too… what kind of mother spends the first two years of her child’s life in JAIL?!

That’s the only reason they haven’t locked me up already anyway. The judge delayed my sentence until a month and a half after the birth. Real fucking kind, right? How generous.

I’ll get six weeks with my little boy, and then that’s it. They’re locking me up.

How the hell did Erik manage to get off so easy?! They found his stash when they searched our apartment, and they slapped him with a possession charge. But the judge was a hell of a lot nicer to him. Six months mandatory rehab, then a year in therapy. Not one friggin’ day in jail.

Not that he’ll get to take care of our son anyway. My little boy will be staying with my parents. “Protective custody”, they’re calling it. Great. Fucking up my life wasn’t bad enough… now my parents can fuck up my kid too! But I didn’t really have a choice.

Erik’s Mama didn’t want to take him. It was either my parents, or foster care. And I know my parents fucking suck, but trusting my kid with a STRANGER? Yeah, not happening.

When Erik’s done with rehab and I’m finally out of jail, we can file for custody… But I’m not even sure if Erik will want to. And hell, at this rate it’ll probably have to be shared custody, if anything. I’m not even sure if he and I are still together anymore. This whole thing has fucked us up. BAD.

I’ve lost everything. My family, my best friends, the love of my life, and now my freedom too.

So I’m just trying so hard to focus on the one good thing I have left right now… This baby. My little boy.

Today’s supposed to be my due date. Maybe that’s why I finally decided to dig out this old thing in the first place and start spilling my soul. He’ll be here any day now.

And I think I’ve finally settled on what to call him.

The last name was easy. I’d been planning for him to be a Shimada… But not anymore.

I don’t care if Erik changes his mind someday — I’m not giving my child the last name of a father who didn’t want him.

It was the first name that was a challenge to come up with. I mean, it’s pretty damn hard focusing on baby names when you’re worried about shit like court dates and freaking out about going to jail, y’know?

But when I started thinking about how hard everything’s been for me, I realized how much harder it’s gonna be for my son.

He’s coming into this world with a drug-addicted father who doesn’t want him, and a total fuck-up of a mother who got herself thrown in jail.

And to top it all off, he’ll be a Rosebrook. That’s enough of a fucking curse as it is, isn’t it?

Everything in my life is a fucking disaster. It’s all falling apart.

And the universe has decided to put my little boy right in the middle of it all.

But you know what? I’m not worried.

Because I know he’ll be strong. I can feel it. 

He’ll make it through whatever shit life decides to throw at him.

He’ll climb his way out of the rubble. He’ll rise from the ashes.

My little Phoenix.

————————-

Harper’s generation is far from over (keep your seatbelts fastened, folks!), but I wanted to take a moment to officially welcome our Gen 7 heir into the world… Phoenix Rosebrook 🙂

Lucky number seven!


(Whoops, someone just informed this poor child he’s a Rosebrook LMAO Sorry, kid. They can’t put you back in!)

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6.52: Interlude – Blind

It was nearly impossible to focus on the road during her drive back to the apartment. Harper’s mind was lost in a fog the entire time, and her vision was clouded by the seemingly endless stream of tears that fell from her eyes. It felt like a miracle that she managed to make it back home in her current state.

She was so embarrassed, and so angry too. Maybe angrier than she’d ever felt in her life. Everything had completely gone to shit, even worse than it had before.

Erik still didn’t have a job. Her family hated her. And now she was back to having no money… Especially with her father docking her pay. We’re fucked. We’re completely fucked. What are we gonna do?! How are we gonna take care of our baby?! Her thoughts continued racing as she made her way down the hall toward her and Erik’s apartment.

Part of her almost wished she’d told her parents and grandmother about the baby. Maybe then they’d understand… Or at least, be willing to give her the money she so desperately needed. But Harper had been too caught up in her anger to say anything. And it’s probably better that I didn’t anyway… I bet it would’ve made things even worse! Her family tried meddling with her life and her choices enough already… She could only imagine how much worse it could get if they knew she was pregnant. What if they tried to do something drastic? What if they wanted to take her baby away from her?!

As she stepped through the apartment door, Harper found Erik sitting at their new computer, browsing Facebook, from the looks of it. The syringe left on the counter told her that he’d shot up not long ago, but she was unconcerned. He clearly hadn’t taken a big enough dose to start nodding off… Just enough to function, it seemed. To feel normal. That was one of the most heartbreaking parts of the whole thing — Erik’s body had grown so accustomed to the drugs that these days, he was more normal on the heroin than he was off of it.

It was so bittersweet to see him so calm and relaxed. On any other day, the sight would have seemed miraculous. But today, it also broke her heart. All the stress and worry she was hoping to save Erik from had come crashing back down on her, just like that. There was no escaping it now.

Who knew when he’d have another calm moment like this again?

Fuck. Harper wiped away her tears hastily, but it was too late. Erik had seen her.

“Harper? What’s wrong?” He was out of his seat in an instant, rushing to her side. “Are you okay?”

She shook her head slowly. “No. Not really.” She confessed.

“What is it? What happened?!”

“I guess it’s kind of a long story…” Harper bit her lip. She had to tell him the truth, didn’t she? No matter how angry she felt at him, something her father had said to her still echoed in her mind — No more lies. “Can we sit down?”

“Uh, s-sure.” Erik led the way to the couch, the fear apparent behind his eyes.

God, I hope he understands. Harper closed her eyes as she lowered herself gently onto the couch beside him. “So um, I, uh… I stopped by my parents’ house today.” She began nervously.

Erik’s brow furrowed in concern. “Uh oh.” He knew that things were still very strained between Harper and her parents.

“Yeah, um… I guess things didn’t go very well…”

“You guys got in another fight?” He asked.

She nodded. “It was awful. I fucked everything up… Everything’s ruined now.” Harper shook her head, blinking back more tears.

“What are you talking about?”

Shit. Here it goes… “So, um… Don’t freak out, okay?”

Erik said nothing.

“But like, remember all that extra money we’ve had lately?” Harper asked softly, watching as Erik nodded in reply. “I know I was kinda, like… vague about where it was coming from…” She paused for a moment. Why the hell was this so hard?! “But uh, the truth is, I got it from my Oma.”

He stared at her incredulously for a moment. “Seriously? Your Oma gave you all that money?”

“Um, well, not exactly…”

Harper felt her stomach drop as she watched Erik’s expression change from curiosity to horror. Damn it. I knew it! Just as she’d feared, he simply didn’t understand.

At last, he opened his mouth to speak. “You stole from your own Oma?” Erik’s voice was soft.

She hated how that word sounded: ‘stole’. But… that’s what she’d done, wasn’t it? Technically, at least. “I did.” She admitted.

“Harper, how the hell could you do that? That’s… terrible.”

“I know it probably seems that way… But I didn’t have a choice.” Harper explained, the desperation apparent in her tone. “We needed the money.”

Erik did not immediately reply. He stared down at the floor for several long moments before finally lifting his gaze to meet hers. “Shit. This is all my fault, isn’t it?”

“What are you talking about?”

He lowered his head in shame. “If I wasn’t such a goddamn screwup, you never would’ve had to do that. How many times have you resorted to stealing shit because of me? And now this?!” He buried his face in his hands, muffling his next words so much that the only one she could make out was “Fuck!” But that was all she needed to hear.

“Hey!” Harper leaned forward, placing her head against his shoulder. “Don’t talk like that. This isn’t your fault, okay? And you’re not a screwup!” She tried her best to ignore the tiny, resentful voice in the back of her mind that disagreed.

“I am!” Erik insisted. “I can’t find a job. I can’t stay clean… I’m a fucking trainwreck. And all I’m doing is bringing you down with me!”

“Shhhh.” She reached up, stroking her fingers through his soft hair. “It’s gonna be okay. You’re gonna get better. You’re gonna find a job… We’ll be fine.”

Her boyfriend rubbed his tearing eyes. “You make it sound so easy.” He muttered.

“I know it’s not. But I know you can do it. For me.” Harper’s lips curled into a soft smile. “And… for our baby.”

“W-what?”

“You’re gonna be a Papa, Erik.” Her heart swelled with joy as she finally spoke the words out loud. “I’m pregnant.”

All the color seemed to drain from Erik’s face. “But you… you can’t be… I mean, we haven’t had sex in like… months.”

Harper hesitated. Here comes the fun part. “Well, I’m… already almost four months along.” She said softly.

“W-wait… What?! How long have you known?!”

“Um… A little more than two?”

“What the fuck?!” Erik was suddenly on his feet. “And you didn’t tell me?!”

Shit. I knew he’d freak. Fuck! “I know, I know! I should have told you sooner. I’m sorry! I just didn’t know how to tell you. I didn’t wanna stress you out more than you already were…” Harper gently patted the empty spot beside her. “I fucked up. I know I did. But come and sit back down, okay? Let’s talk about this.”

“How the fuck can you sit there and be so calm?! Christ, Harper! You can’t keep something like this from me! Don’t you trust me?!”

Harper had never seen Erik so upset before. But he had to understand why she waited, didn’t he? “I’m sorry.” She said again, her voice soft. “I know it’s a lot to take. But… it’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?” Harper placed a hand on her stomach for a moment. “I know the timing kinda sucks… But we’ll figure this out. Together.”

“Figure it out? What the hell are you talking about?!” Erik snapped. “You’re not actually planning on keeping it, are you?!”

“What are you saying?! Of course we’re keeping it!”

“No, we’re not.” His voice was firm. “We can barely take care of ourselves! How the hell are we gonna take care of a kid?!”

Harper felt like she could barely breathe. What the hell was going on?! Why was he being like this?! “I don’t know, okay?! But we’ll figure it out!”

“Saying ‘we’ll figure it out’ isn’t good enough!” Erik cried. “That’s not how this works.”

“Look, we’ll handle it, okay? I mean, you’ll go back to rehab, won’t you? You’ve done it before. You can do it again!”

“Stop making it sound so fucking easy!” Erik cried. “What happens if I relapse again, huh? Then we’re back exactly where we started!” He paused, sighing heavily for a moment. “Look, maybe someday when we have our shit together — like, SERIOUSLY together — we’ll be ready for a kid. But we aren’t right now. Can’t you see that?”

“You can’t seriously be talking about giving up our child… We are keeping this baby and we’re raising it, Erik!’

“You’ve gotta be kidding me, right?! This isn’t some fucking goldfish we’ll have to feed once a day. We’re talking about raising a human being!”

“Yeah, a human being we made!” She was practically shrieking as she leapt up from the couch, placing one hand protectively over her stomach. “This is our CHILD! How can you talk about our baby like they’re some fucking puppy we can just leave in a box on the side of the road and ABANDON?!”

“I don’t wanna abandon it! I wanna give it a chance at having a good life! With parents who can actually take care of it! Is this really what you’d want for our baby? Being raised by a fucking junkie and a common criminal?!” Erik practically spat the words at her. “Nobody deserves that, okay?! Including our kid.”

Harper’s mouth dropped open. “A ‘common criminal’?! Is that what you think of me? Seriously?!

“It’s what you’re turning into, Harper! You can’t be that fucking blind. You know it’s true!”

“Now wait just a goddamn minute! Five minutes ago you were going on and on about how this is all YOUR fault. And now it’s mine? Now I’m the criminal?!”

“Maybe we’re both to blame! I don’t fucking know!” Erik threw his hands in the air. “All I know is that we can’t handle being parents, Harper.”

Harper’s entire body was trembling. “Oh yeah? Well maybe we COULD handle it if you’d finally get off your fucking ass and go back to rehab instead of sitting around all day feeling sorry for yourself!”

“What the fuck did you just say?!”

You can’t be that fucking blind!” Harper’s voice dripped with sarcasm as she spat his words back at him. “You know it’s true!”

BANG BANG BANG!

Before Erik could reply, the sound of heavy knocking filled the air, echoing around the entire apartment.

“Great… We probably pissed off the neighbors.” Harper muttered under her breath as she headed to the door.

6.51: Interlude – No More Lies

Today’s the day…  Are you excited? Keeping one hand on the steering wheel, Harper reached down to give her baby bump a gentle rub. Papa’s gonna be so happy…

She had been working up to this moment for the past several weeks, of course. She knew knew her mood swings and weight gain couldn’t be going unnoticed — especially with the way she’d blown up like a balloon over the past week. But it was her doctor appointment earlier that day that had finally convinced her.

She’d gone in for some bloodwork that afternoon — DNA screening, to make sure everything was alright with the baby. And, to her surprise, the nurse informed her that they’d be able to use her blood to determine the baby’s gender. “We’ll call you in about a week with the results,” he’d told her.

And that was when she decided — she was sick of going through all these milestones without Erik. She wanted him by her side when she got the call. She didn’t want to hide or pretend anymore. Everything was getting so much better, thanks to her Oma’s money. There was no reason to keep the secret any longer, was there? I’m ready.

Harper was itching to head home right away and finally share her big news with Erik, but she’d promised her parents she’d stop by their place that afternoon. Apparently a package had been delivered to her old address by mistake, and they wanted her to come pick it up. Part of her had wanted to refuse, but the Rosebrook mansion wasn’t too out of the way on her drive home. Plus, Harper found her curiosity getting the better of her.

What could it be? She wondered as she pulled over in front of her parents’ house. Birthday gift, maybe? 

As usual, Tomato greeted her the moment she walked through the door. But, for a minute or two at least, her parents were nowhere to be found.

“Harper?” Her father’s deep voice finally called from the living room.

“Yup, I’m here Papa.” She approached the sound immediately, crossing over the threshold to find her parents and grandmother sitting on the couch. Not one of them smiled at the sight of her.

Harper’s stomach sank immediately. Oh God. What now?! She said nothing as she glanced around the living room for a moment or two. But just as she feared, there was no package to be found. Fuck…

Zayne spoke again, his voice firm. “Harper, sit down.”

Every instinct she had told her to run back to her car and head home… But something made her do as he asked. Harper tried her best to fake a smile as she sank down on the couch beside him. “Hey, Papa.” She said softly, failing to keep her voice calm. “What’s up?”

Now that she was sitting so close to them, Harper finally noticed the twin trails of tears rolling down her mother’s cheeks. Hope said nothing. She simply stared at her. On the chair across from them, Jocelyne was just as silent.

‘What’s up’?” Her father’s tone was almost mocking. “Why don’t you ask your Oma that question, huh?”

Harper could almost feel the color draining from her cheeks. Fuck. They know. Fuck! Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. She remained silent as she turned her gaze toward her grandmother.

“Harper, honey…” Jocelyne’s voice shook slightly. “How could you do this?”

Her throat was so dry, it almost burned when she opened her mouth to speak. “I… I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She muttered weakly.

God damn it!” Zayne’s cry was so loud and sudden, Harper literally jumped at the sound. “Cut the shit, Harper! No more lies!”

She closed her eyes for a moment and took a slow, deep breath. There was no use in denying it any more, was there? But she had to make them understand… It was their fault she had to do this. They didn’t give her a choice!

“Fine.” Harper said at last. “It’s true, okay? I took your money, Oma.”

Jocelyne said nothing. But at last, Hope seemed to find her voice. “What the hell has gotten into you?!” Though her tears still sparkled in her eyes, she sounded just as angry as her husband. “How could you do this?!”

Harper ignored her mother, never taking her eyes off Jocelyne. “Look, I know I should have told you, Oma. But I never would have done it if I didn’t need it.” She explained almost desperately. “And it’s not like you needed all that money anyway, right?”

Jocelyne shook her head. “That’s not the point… You stole from me, Harper! You lied to me. You…” The old woman appeared almost overcome as she dropped her face into her wrinkled hands.

“I didn’t have a choice!” Harper insisted. Her heart was racing so fast, it was almost hard to breathe. It felt as though a thousand-pound weight were being slowly lowered onto her chest. “I needed money! I needed help! And you wouldn’t give it to me. None of you would!”

“Stop it!” Zayne’s voice nearly shook the room. “Just stop! I’ve had enough. How can you sit there and make all these goddamn excuses? How can you look us in the eye and try to blame us for this?!”

Harper couldn’t quite be sure if her body was literally shaking, or if it just felt that way. But her father’s words had suddenly sent a white-hot rage rushing through her. “I dunno, Papa — how can YOU sit there and be such a fucking hypocrite?!”

Excuse me?!

“You heard me! What about when I was a little kid, huh? Every fucking time I did something bad or I fucked up, what did you and mom do?!” Harper wasn’t even quite sure where these words were coming from. How long had she been holding them inside? How long had she been waiting to say them? “You blamed my teachers. Or my asthma. Or my hearing aid. You can’t lecture me about all my ‘goddamn excuses’ when that’s exactly what you did for me!” Her voice was practically a hiss.

“As long as I was your ‘perfect little pumpkin’, it was okay to make excuses for me and blame everybody else for my problems! It was okay to bend over backwards to try and help me! But as soon as you realized I’m not as perfect as you think, you really changed your fucking tune, didn’t you?!”

“Now wait just a goddamn minute! Your mother and I –”

“I’ve made some shitty choices, okay?! I’ve fucked up! I’m not perfect! But I’m still your daughter! And instead of helping me like you used to, all you’re doing is making things worse! You’re turning your back on me again and again and again!” Harper shrieked. “What’s next, Papa? Calling the cops so they can throw me in jail? Well go ahead! Do it! I fucking dare you! You’ve already ruined my life enough, what’s one more blow, huh?!”

Harper!” Hope rose to her feet just as her daughter had. “Now that’s enough. You will not speak to your father and I that way!”

She rolled her eyes. “Don’t start talking to me like I’m a little kid again, mom. You can’t have it both ways! Pick one!”

“Shut up!” Her father practically leapt from the couch. “This ends now, Harper! We’ve let this go on long enough. You. Need. Help.” Zayne’s voice was firm, but pained. ” Christ, what’s it going to take for you to listen? This is killing your mother and I. It’s killing your Oma too. We can’t stand seeing you like this… You’re a criminal, Harper! A criminal who’s throwing her life away on some goddamn junkie!”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right. But you know what? Too bad! This is who I am, Papa… Whether you like it or not!” Harper cried.

Jocelyne finally spoke again. “You’re wrong. This isn’t who you are. And you know it, sweetie.” She reached up for a moment, wiping a few tears from her eyes. “Please. Listen to your parents. Let us help you.”

“Why can’t you guys get it? This is my life!” Harper shook her head. “Sure, I’ve gotta a lot of shit to deal with… But it’s my shit. Let me do it the way I want to!”

“Fine.” Her father agreed. “Then you can do it with your money too. And unless you really do want us calling the police, you’ll give half of your paycheck to your Oma every week until you’ve payed her back every single cent you stole.”

“You can’t do that! I’m already gonna be broke enough as it is! I need that money, Papa! It’s not fair!”

“No, you wanna know what’s not fair?!” Zayne shot back. For a moment, there was something wild and almost frightening behind his eyes. It was like he had become unhinged. “That your mother and I dreamed of having a child for so long. That we loved you fully and unconditionally for your whole life. That we gave you so much. That your Oma gave you so much… And this is what we get in return.” He gestured vaguely in her direction as he spoke. “This is the daughter we end up with.”

Harper’s eyes widened. How the fuck can he even say that?! “Really?! Well fine. If you’re that disappointed in how I turned out, maybe you and mom would have been happier if I was the one who died.”

“WHAT?!”

“You still have that stupid fucking shrine in your bedroom, don’t you? To your perfect little Levi who never got the chance to turn into a fuckup like me… Well you know what? Maybe you’re right. Maybe it would have been better if I’d died.” Her eyes narrowed. “He’s the lucky one. He never got to know what it was like having to grow up with parents like you.”

Harper closed her eyes, but stood her ground, waiting for the sharp burning of her father’s palm against her cheek.

But it never came.

She watched as he lowered his trembling hand back to his side. Zayne’s breath came in heavy puffs and gasps, and his entire chest heaved with each one. It was a few moments before he was finally able to speak.

“You ungrateful little bitch.” He managed to gasp. Zayne had never called her that before. Ever. “Get the fuck out of my house.”

“Gladly.” Harper spat over the sounds of her mother and grandmother’s sobs.

She headed straight for the door without looking back.

—————————————————

Hey guys! Let me interrupt all this over-the-top drama for a schedule announcement haha

The once-a-week schedule I had before Christmas was too infrequent, but I also am still busy, so I’m not ready to commit to going back to my twice-a-week schedule just yet. So as a sort of compromise, I’m going to do a weird “chapter-every-five-days” schedule for a few weeks. So, for example, the chapter before this one was posted last Tuesday. The next one will be this Friday. The one after that will be next Wednesday, etc. 

Hoping this won’t last too long! As always, I’ll update you guys when I switch things up again (hopefully going back to twice a week!). Thank you all for reading ❤

6.50: Interlude – Something’s Up

Hey guys! Happy New Year!

So sorry for not having a new chapter on Saturday! I was SO busy getting things settled in my new house that I wasn’t able to finish a chapter in time. However, I finally managed to finish this one, and decided to share it with you guys on a Tuesday (instead of the normal Saturday or Wednesday!)

Moving forward, we are going to have an irregular update schedule for a little while. Still expect about one chapter a week, but the actual DAY of the week will probably vary a bit until I’m able to get back into the swing of things and back on a normal schedule. So if you follow my blog, please pay attention to emails or your reader! Or otherwise, just check back periodically for new chapters 🙂 Thank you all so much!

—————————————————————————

Harper’s entire body shook as another burst of laughter passed her open lips. Devin had her and Rylie in stitches yet again, sharing a crazy story from one of the many parties he attended on campus.

It felt so good to laugh like that again. Harper hadn’t laughed so hard since… When was the last time all of us were together? She wondered. No one could ever make her laugh the way they could. Not even Erik, even when he was at his best.

Their waiter’s return to their table abruptly called Harper’s mind back to the present. She could tell the man was saying something, but it was impossible to make out his words over the sound of her own laughter. Even Rylie and Devin seemed unable to hear his question.

“Sorry?” Harper choked back her laughter as she turned her full attention back to the man beside the table.

“Do you want separate checks?” He repeated.

Rylie shook her head instantly. “Just one.” She smiled kindly at him

“And I’ll take it.” Harper interjected abruptly. “You can bring it to me.”

Before her friends could protest, the waiter nodded and headed off to the register.

“Are you sure? I thought we were gonna treat you.” Devin’s lips curled slightly. “Early birthday present.”

She shook her head. Devin was making pennies at his on-campus job, and Rylie always bitched about how shitty most of the venues paid her and her band. Now that Harper had come into so much money, it would be selfish to force her friends to pay, wouldn’t it? Especially when I ordered so much food… God, they aren’t kidding about this whole ‘eating for two’ thing, are they? She thought, amused.

“I’ve got this one, guys.” Harper assured them. The look her two friends exchanged made her uneasy.

“What?” She demanded a bit more harshly than she’d intended. “What is it?”

It was a few moments before either of them replied. “We, uh… We weren’t exactly sure how to bring it up…” Rylie began almost guiltily. “But we’re kinda wondering what’s been going on with you lately…”

Harper could already feel the back of her neck growing warm. “What are you talking about?”

“I dunno, just…” It was Devin who responded this time. “Maybe we’re reading too much into it. But remember that new PC you got last week?”

“What about it?!” Harper snapped. “Our old one was about to die, and Erik’s gonna need it for work once he finds a job.”

“I know, I know. It’s just… Well, that thing had to cost hundreds of euros…”

“So what?”

Rylie sighed, leaning forward slightly as she spoke. “What he’s trying to say is, how the hell did you afford it?”

Excuse me?!” Harper was floored. What the fuck was going on? Why were they being so goddamn nosy?! “What the fuck kind of question is that?! It’s none of your business!”

“It’s not.” Rylie agreed almost sadly. “But you’re our best friend, Harper.”

Beside her, Devin nodded. “You’re our business. We’re just worried.”

“Well you can both sleep easy tonight, because you have nothing to worry about, okay?!” She sighed heavily in frustration as the waiter awkwardly scuttled over to their table and placed the bill in front of her. “Now are we done here?”

Devin shook his head. “You still never answered our question.” His voice was suddenly firm. “How were you able to afford it? I mean, new computer last week, and you upgraded your phone like a week or two before that too, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, and now offering to pay for lunch today… And you haven’t bitched about money in weeks!” For a moment, Rylie looked almost amused. “We’re not dumb, Harper. We know something’s up.”

Her throat suddenly went dry. This was so much like the conversation she’d had with her parents last week. They’d started noticing all her spending too. But lying to them was easy. All she had to say was that she’d sold a bunch of copies of one of her novellas. And they’d believed it.

But something told her her friends couldn’t be fooled so easily.

When Harper didn’t immediately reply, Devin’s voice filled the silence. “We know you got kinda desperate for money when things were bad with Erik… ” He bit his lip nervously. “And I remember how awful it was when you got caught. That was when you promised everyone you were gonna stop, remember?”

“But if things are getting bad again, you know you can talk to us, right?” Rylie continued gently. “We can help you figure it out. We’ve got your back.”

Harper felt an awful mixture of shame and anger swirling together with every word they spoke, rising from the pit of her stomach all the way to her burning neck and cheeks. “That’s not where the money’s coming from, okay?!” She spluttered at last. “I’m not getting it from swiping shit. So you can stop with all these fucking accusations!”

Yet again, her friends shared a look. Harper hated it when they did that. What the hell could they be thinking?

“I believe you.” Rylie replied at last. “And I’m sorry we jumped to conclusions, we just… We wanna know what’s going on.” She shrugged slightly as she spoke.

Harper sighed heavily. No matter how furious she felt, it still seemed so wrong to tell an outright lie to her two best friends. So she didn’t. Not completely, anyway. “It’s from my Oma, alright? She’s helping me.”

Both of her friends’ eyes widened slightly in surprise. “Oh.” Devin muttered softly. “That’s… That’s really good!” His smile was so forced. “Why didn’t you just tell us that in the first place?”

She shrugged. “Guess I was just kinda embarrassed about needing help.” The words felt so natural, Harper almost believed it herself. “You guys know me.”

“We do.” Rylie agreed. “And… that also means we know when there’s something you aren’t telling us.” Her face fell immediately. “Fuck. I hate pushing like this. But come on! We’re your friends. Spill.”

Rylie was absolutely right, of course. There was so much she wasn’t telling them. Like about the baby. Or Erik’s relapse. Or the real way she’d gained access to Jocelyne’s money.

“It’s Erik, isn’t it?” Devin suggested, his voice small. “He’s using again. That’s why he still can’t get a job…” He paused for a moment, his brow furrowing in thought. “Your Oma doesn’t know, does she?” Devin knew just as well as she did that Jocelyne would never enable Erik’s addiction like that.

Harper wasn’t quite sure what face she made in response… But whatever it was, her friends’ reactions made it clear that it wasn’t good.

“Shit. Harper, you’ve gotta tell her. And don’t keep wasting that money on stupid shit. You’ve gotta get Erik some help again.” Rylie’s voice sounded almost pained. She glanced around for a moment, as though suddenly aware of just how public their conversation was. “Listen, why don’t we go back to my place?” She suggested. “We can talk more there.”

Shaking her head, Harper rose to her feet. “No. We’re done talking.” She tried her best to keep her voice calm. “Every fucking time the three of us get together, it turns into some kind of stupid ‘intervention’. And I’m sick of it! Just leave me alone, okay? Let me handle my own shit.”

Her eyes flicked down at the small slip of paper on the table for a moment. “And you know what? If you’re so worried about where my money’s coming from, fine. Pay your own bill.” She turned away from them without another word.

“Harper! Wait!”

For a moment, she thought she could hear them calling her name.

But she kept walking.

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6.49: Interlude – Are You Okay?

There is a NSFW shot in this chapter. Please be careful! 😉

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“I understand. But are you sure there isn’t any — Uh-huh. Yes. Okay. But… But isn’t there — Okay. Yeah. You too. Well, thank you for your time.”

Erik threw the phone on the couch beside him. He didn’t even bother hanging up.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!

He balled his hands into fists, pressing them harder and harder against his temples. I’m such a fucking loser! His head had begun throbbing with pain and his eyes were starting to sting slightly with tears.

Was it because of how heartbroken he felt? Or because his body craved more heroin?

It didn’t really matter what the reason was. Either way, Erik knew there was only one way to make the pain stop.

He rose to his feet instantly, making a beeline for the kitchen. I’m such a fucking failure. I let her down again! Erik continued cursing himself as he fumbled around the drawers for a spoon.

Harper’s birthday was less than three weeks away. All he’d wanted was to have a job lined up before then. What better gift than to finally have a job again? To finally prove that he wasn’t the total fuck-up his mother thought he was…

Mama. Erik’s heart sank at the thought of his mother. He hadn’t even spoken to her since Kaleb’s birthday party. He was just too ashamed to face her again. And thankfully, she seemed to be feeling the same way. Erik wasn’t sure if he could handle being in the same room as his mother again. It wasn’t hard to imagine how that conversation would go…

And conversations with his brother hadn’t been going much better. While his mother had been avoiding him, it felt like Danny was bugging him more than ever lately. It was getting exhausting trying to dodge all his texts and phone calls. And almost every time, Danny bombarded him with the exact same question — “Are you okay?”

The answer should have been obvious, shouldn’t it? Of course I’m not. I’m never okay. In fact, Erik wondered if there had ever truly been any time in his life when he felt ‘okay’.

He could think of a few precious moments when he’d come close. When things had almost seemed better than okay, even.

But they were always so fleeting. Slipping through his fingers like sand, then gone. Forever.

Nothing lasts. Erik told himself sadly. Not even…

Erik abandoned his spoon and syringe for a moment, crossing to the other end of the kitchen where Harper’s notebook lay. She must have left it out the night before. He looked down at the light purple cover for several long moments. That was when he realized it wasn’t the little black notebook his girlfriend often used to jot down story ideas. It was the journal Devin had given Harper on her eighteenth birthday.

Even after two years, the memory of that night still stung. The terrible words his friend had uttered still echoed in his mind — “A fucking junkie”. That’s what Devin had called him. It was the first and only time in Erik’s life that anyone had ever called him that. And hearing those words had changed everything. It had driven a huge wedge between him and Devin… And between him and Rylie too. He’d barely talked to either of them after that day.

But it made sense, didn’t it? Who’d want to be friends with a useless junkie like him? It wasn’t long before he lost his other friends too. Paul, Brooklyn, Marlene… None of them really talked to him anymore either. The most he ever heard from anyone was the occasional Facebook message. And even those were few and far between.

He’d heard from Rylie and Devin a few weeks ago though, not too long after they saw Harper. And their forced small-talk had led back to that same dreaded question… “Are you okay?” But this time, it was followed by another that was even more important — “Is Harper okay?”

It was a question Erik was almost too afraid of answering. Things with Harper had been so strange lately. It felt like everything was falling apart, even worse than before.

He knew all the stress he’d been causing her was making her feel sick… But it seemed Harper had been changing in other ways too.

She’d been so emotional about everything… And usually not in a good way. She seemed to get sad so easily. The littlest thing was enough to make her burst into tears. And she seemed to get angry just as easily. Sometimes it felt like he couldn’t say or do anything without her getting short with him. And Erik had a feeling he knew the reason.

She’s getting sick of me. She sees what a fucking loser junkie I am. She hates me! That was the only explanation, wasn’t it?

And why shouldn’t she hate him? He didn’t have a job. He was such a fucking downer all the time. He couldn’t even satisfy her anymore!

That was another thing that had changed… It felt like Harper wanted sex all the time lately. She was so damn horny. But he just couldn’t give it to her. Not the way she wanted, at least. He’d tried to find other ways to pleasure her whenever he could, but it still wasn’t enough. She’d started resorting to other means instead. Harper tried her best to be discreet about it, but Erik always knew exactly what she was up to when she retreated into the bedroom alone.

And instead of turning him on, the things Erik heard on the other side of the door always broke his heart.

He should be the one pleasuring her. She shouldn’t have to do it herself. But he was too much of a failure to give her what she needed. How long before she gets sick of a plastic dick and goes looking for a real one instead?! Oh God… Or what if she already has?! Erik’s fists balled at his sides for a few moments as he willed the terrible image that had entered his mind to finally pass… but it didn’t.

Could that be where all the extra money was coming from? Had Harper resorted to selling herself on the streets for him like some kind of fucking whore?! She wouldn’t do that… would she?! Fuck. This is all my fault. Erik rubbed the tears from his eyes so hard that his vision was momentarily clouded with a burst of fuzzy stars. He took a few slow, deep breaths and tried his best to calm himself.

No! I’m being a fucking idiot. She’d never do that! But then where the hell could all that money be coming from?

Erik’s mind was racing, trying to come up with an answer. As much as he hated it, he knew she’d been shoplifting again. But that still didn’t explain things. What the hell could she be stealing that would be worth that much money? Nothing that wouldn’t be hidden behind glass…

Erik shook his head. There was no use trying to figure it out. It didn’t really matter where the money was coming from, did it? What mattered was that, whatever was going on, she wasn’t telling him the truth. It was so obvious that she was hiding something from him. Harper didn’t trust him anymore, plain and simple.

I bet I could find the answer in there… For a moment, Erik’s green eyes flicked back toward the journal. It had been weeks since he’d seen Harper writing anything for her latest novella… But she was always scribbling away in that journal, it seemed. Confiding in it. Telling it her secrets. I can’t believe she trusts some stupid stack of paper more than ME!

 

Fuck. What am I doing?! Erik threw the journal back on the counter as though it had burned him. How could he even think of betraying Harper like that? Of spying on her private journal? All it would do would make things worse.

Things were already bad enough between them as it was. He was already losing her. He made her resentful and angry. He couldn’t satisfy her in bed. He couldn’t provide for her.

What the hell good am I?! She doesn’t need me.

But he needed her. Desperately. More than anything. Harper was the only thing he had left. She was the only glimmer of hope left in his miserable, fucked-up life.

No matter how much he hated her shoplifting, no matter how angry her secrets made him feel, no matter how distant things were starting to feel between them… He needed her.

And he needed the heroin too.

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I know I’m a couple days early, but to all of my wonderful readers who celebrate, I wish you a very Merry Christmas! And whether you celebrate or not, thank you all for your continued kindness and support ❤

6.48: Three Million Euros

It’s kinda crazy how quickly things can turn around sometimes. One minute things are amazing. Wonderful. Perfect. Then, in the blink of an eye, it all changes.

Your boyfriend loses his job. Or overdoses on heroin. You get caught shoplifting. Or find out you’re pregnant. Everything starts falling apart so fast.

But sometimes, things can change for the better too. Sometimes you’re feeling lost and helpless, and then exactly what you need just falls right into your lap.

Your teacher pairs you up with the two best friends you’ve ever had. The tutor you’d been dreading to meet ends up being the love of your life. One glance at a fuzzy little sonogram image makes you fall in love.

Or a simple mail mix-up ends up solving all your money problems.

Okay, maybe not all of them… There’s a couple things I still have to pay for myself, like the rent on our apartment. Or helping Erik pay his dealer. He’s still pretty stubborn about trying to use his own money for that… but he’s really scraping the bottom of the bucket these days, so I’ve gotta step in sometimes.

But that’s all stuff we can handle on our own. I’m not worried about it anymore. Because there’s so much more that’s all taken care of now. Our heating and electricity bills. Our internet. Our phone bills. Our credit card bills… Anything you can pay online with a bank account.

And it’s all thanks to my Oma.

She gave me a pile of mail the last time I was over there. Random junk mail and other crap that keeps getting sent to my parents’ house by mistake. And I wasn’t even gonna look at any of it, to be honest. I was ready to just toss it all in the trash. But I was feeling so shitty after talking to my parents that I kinda needed something to distract myself. So I decided to go through it.

And that’s when I saw it — One of Oma’s bank statements. I guess she accidentally put it in the pile with my stuff by mistake.

I just about died when I opened it and saw her account balance. For one crazy moment, I thought there’d been the biggest screw-up in history and I was looking at MY account… that would’ve been a freaking miracle, huh? I couldn’t help laughing at myself when I realized what was really going on. As if I’d ever get that lucky!

But… Then I realized maybe I still was lucky.

I just couldn’t get over how much money it was…

It’s not like it’s any huge secret that Oma’s freaking loaded or anything. She got SO much money from her Papa when he died. My Ur-Opa Tobi was one of the most famous football players in all of Germany. He had a huge fortune to leave behind for everybody when he was gone… And I always knew my Oma got a huge chunk of it. Way more than what’s in that account, even. I know that’s not all of it.

But God, seeing that number alone was just crazy. Three million euros…

Maybe that sounds weird coming from someone like me. Money was never a big deal for my family. I mean, my parents always spoiled me like crazy when I was growing up. I always got what I wanted. But that was probably hundreds that they spent on me. Maybe thousands. But not millions!

Obviously I know my parents have a fortune of their own tucked away somewhere… But I’ve never actually seen that much money all at once before.

Like, imagine what you could do with THREE MILLION EUROS!

Or honestly, these days even three HUNDRED would be a huge deal for me and Erik.

And I guess that’s what got me thinking. We don’t need that much money. It’s not like I’d ever take all of it. But with the baby coming, we definitely could use a little more to get by, y’know?

And like… When’s my Oma ever gonna need all that money anyway? Especially when I know she has millions more tucked away somewhere too!

She probably won’t even notice if we take a few hundred from her account every now and then, right? Just some online payments here and there. Nothing huge. Nothing she’d ever miss!

And she’s already gonna leave me a bunch of money as inheritance someday, won’t she? Is it really a big deal if I take it a little early?

I know, I know. It sounds so awful… But it’s not like I really have a choice. My stupid parents let me down… again! What else was I supposed to do?! And it’s not like I want to do this. It’s not like I enjoy it…

Okay, okay… maybe I do a little. And I kinda hate that I do. But it’s such a different rush than shoplifting! Every time I pay another bill I just feel… I don’t even know the word for it. Powerful, maybe? It’s the craziest high.

But that’s not really what matters. That’s not what this is about. And it’s not why I’m doing this.

I’m doing it for Erik. And our child.

And I feel so bad going behind Oma’s back like this… But I would have just asked her for the money if I’d thought she’d say yes! She’s been almost as bad as mom and Papa about the whole money thing. All these stupid ultimatums about breaking up with Erik or forcing him back into rehab…

None of them understand. They can’t. They don’t know what it’s like. They don’t understand how fucking hard this is. It’s so easy for them to say shit like “give him an ultimatum”, or “you need to leave him!”

Without me, he has nothing. I can’t leave him. Especially with the baby coming… he’s the father of my freaking child! How could I ever turn my back on him now?

I just hope having money now will help things. I hope I can convince Erik he doesn’t need a job right now. He’s just gotta get back to rehab and get better. And things are already heading in the right direction, I think. He can tell things are way less tight than they used to be. All our bills are getting paid on time now. I’m a lot less stressed about money now than I used to be… And he’s definitely noticing.

I guess the hardest part is just trying to explain where we’re getting all this money from. It’s only been a couple weeks since I got Oma’s account info, and I think Erik’s already getting suspicious. He’s been asking me whether I got a raise at work or something. And how often I’ve been ‘shopping’ lately…

That’s kinda his code word for when I start taking stuff. He hates it so much. He never tells me that, but I know he does. He just never says anything because he knows how bad we need the money. As long as it helps him get his fix and keeps a roof over our heads, he’s willing to put up with it.

This is so different though. I can’t even imagine how he’d feel if he found out about Oma. He’s already uncomfortable enough with the shoplifting… I just feel like he wouldn’t really understand. He’d think we’re betraying Oma or something.

But he knows how badly we need this. I don’t think he’d be able to actually say no. And it kills me to think of what the guilt would do to him. He’s already fallen so low…

Ugh! I’m such a fucking coward. I’m just too afraid to tell him where the money’s really coming from. That’s not his burden to bear. It’s mine.

But it’s really starting to drive me crazy keeping all these secrets from him…

Though there’s one I don’t think I’m gonna be able to keep for much longer.

I have to tell him soon. I can feel it. I wouldn’t say I have a “baby bump” yet, but I’m definitely gaining a little weight. And I guess I’ve been acting a little different too. These hormones are fucking me up so bad. It won’t be long before Erik starts connecting the dots… And I’ve gotta tell him the truth before he does.

I’m still not totally sure HOW I’m gonna tell him, or when… But I’m at least feeling a little better about finally coming clean. Better than I was before, at least.

He won’t have to worry about money now. He won’t have to stress out about finding a job. He won’t have to freak out about how we’re gonna afford a baby.

The only thing he’ll have to worry about is getting back to his old self again.

I know it won’t be easy… But he’ll do it. He’ll find a way. He’ll do it for me. And our baby.

Then everything will go back to the way it’s supposed to be.

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Hey guys!

I just wanted to do a quick plug for a new sims forum my dear friend Trip/Infragreen started recently, called Simmers After Dark (you can get there by clicking the link!).  It’s an adults-only forum where mature topics, adult language, and sim nudity are permitted 😉 It’s a very small community so far, and I know Trip would love some more members! It’s got a bit of a sillier vibe than the official forums (though there’s plenty of room for serious discussion too!), and definitely has much less restrictions 😉

Definitely check it out and feel free to sign up! Thanks guys! See you with a new chapter next week ^_^

6.47: Interlude – Choice

Harper swallowed against the bile that was rising in the back of her throat. Jesus, calm down! She scolded herself as she made her way up the familiar front steps of her parents’ house. She was letting herself get so worked up already. This is why I told myself I wouldn’t try this shit again. It’s just gonna turn into a giant fight… 

But maybe things wouldn’t be so bad? Maybe they’d actually be willing to listen this time…

When she finally reached the front door, she was not surprised to find it unlocked. And, as always, Harper let herself in without knocking. She’d already texted her mother earlier to let her know she’d be stopping by anyway. Her parents and grandmother were expecting her.

But there was someone else who wasn’t.

No sooner had she walked through the door than the entry hall echoed with the sound of deep, booming barks.

Harper’s lips curled into a smile at the sight of the shaggy red dog running toward her. “Hey, boy!” She knelt down for a moment, scratching him behind the ears as he finally reached her. “It’s just me.” So much for a subtle entrance… She thought, half-annoyed, half-amused.

Still, Harper couldn’t help feeling a rush of warmth at the sight of Tomato’s sweet face. Back when her parents had first adopted him, she’d felt a strange sort of resentment toward the little puppy. It had been less than three months after she’d moved out to live with Erik, and she just couldn’t shake the feeling that her parents were trying to replace her. With a dog, of all things!

But the little guy had grown on her quickly (and grown up so quickly too). And eventually, she came to envy her parents instead. She’d love to have a dog with Erik… And she knew he’d love one too. But there was simply no room in their cramped little apartment. Not to mention all the money involved. We’ve still gotta figure out how the hell we can afford a BABY, let alone a dog…

“Harper?” Tomato’s booming barks had finally begun to die away, but it was still very difficult to make out her father’s voice as he crossed into the entryway. Luckily, his lips were easy enough to read. “Hey, honey.”

“Hi, Papa.”

Zayne paused to scratch Tomato behind the ears as he walked by. It was almost amusing to see the two of them together. The years had faded Zayne’s once-vibrant hair to an almost perfect match with Tomato’s light, rust colored fur. Harper smiled softly at the sight of them. Two peas in a pod…

The dog looked up happily at his owner for a moment before finally scampering away. Zayne watched, smiling as Tomato disappeared down the hall, then turned his attention back to his daughter.

“Your mom told me you’d be stopping by… Do you want some lunch?” He offered kindly, his voice audible at last. “We’re gonna have plenty to go around.”

Harper noticed the vague smell of garlic and butter wafting in from the kitchen. It was almost enough to make her mouth water. That was another thing she secretly missed — her father’s cooking. But as tempting as it was, Harper didn’t intend for this to be a long visit. She shook her head. “Thanks, but I just wanted to stop by for a few minutes. To, um… ask you and mom about something.”

Her father’s expression darkened immediately. “Harper…”

“Can I just talk to you guys? Please?” She asked. Fuck. He’s probably already figured out what I want.

Before he had a chance to reply, another familiar figure crossed over the threshold and into the entry hall. “Hi, Pumpkin.” Hope smiled warmly at her daughter. “Good thing our welcoming committee let us know you were here.” She teased. “I wasn’t expecting you so soon.”

She shrugged. “Got lucky with traffic downtown, I guess. I know you guys are eating soon. I won’t be long… I was just telling Papa that I wanna talk to you guys for a minute?”

Unlike her husband, Hope kept a much better poker face. Though Harper did not miss the glimmer of concern in her mother’s eyes. “Of course.”

“Just give me a second.” Zayne glanced back toward the kitchen for a moment. “I’ve gotta –”

“I’ve got it, sweetie. Don’t worry.” Jocelyne slowly made her way down the stairs as she spoke, smiling at her nephew. “I may not have your skill in the kitchen, but I can at least make sure the food doesn’t burn.”

Zayne laughed softly. “Thanks, Tante Joce.” He stepped forward quickly then, taking her by the hand and helping her down the last few steps. The stairs were getting more and more difficult for Jocelyne to navigate lately, but she was often too stubborn to ask for help.

The old woman’s gaze flicked for a moment toward her granddaughter as she reached the bottom of the stairs. She gave Harper a small nod of greeting, and a warm smile.

The young girl returned the gesture. “Hey, Oma.” She said softly.

“Hi, sweetheart. I’m not sure if your Papa told you, but we found some more of your mail mixed up with mine… Make sure you take it with you before you go, okay?”

If it had been anyone but her grandmother, Harper probably would have rolled her eyes. The only mail that still ended up at her parents’ house was always useless junk.

Instead, she forced a smile. “Okay, Oma. I will.” Harper replied softly before finally turning away and leading her parents into the living room.

Alright. You can do this. She told herself as she took a seat on the couch. But how would she even begin? These types of conversations always made her feel so awkward and embarrassed…

While she was still considering what to say, her mother’s voice broke the silence. “Honey… We know what this is about.”

Harper’s face fell even further. Shit. “You do?” She asked softly.

Her parents exchanged a look. “We love you, Harper.” It was her father who spoke this time. “But we’ve talked about this before. We can’t give you any money.”

Fuck! “Look, can’t you guys just like, hear me out? You know I wouldn’t be asking if it wasn’t like, an emergency.” She was practically begging already.

As expected, that was enough to get her mother’s attention. Hope’s brow instantly furrowed in concern. “That bad?”

“Our landlord’s raising our rent.” Harper lied. There was no way she could tell them about the baby. “We just need a little extra. That’s all.”

Her parents did not immediately reply. Harper could not be sure whether that was a good sign, or a bad one.

“Erik doesn’t have anything lined up yet?” Hope asked at last. “What about that interview he had last week? You said it went so well…”

Harper shook her head sadly. “Didn’t work out.”

Like so many other opportunities, it had fallen through. And then Erik had fallen too, into another of his terrible slumps. And that was when Harper realized she had no choice but to ask her parents for help again.

“He shouldn’t be looking at jobs right now anyway.” Zayne finally spoke. “He should be looking at rehab programs.”

Damn it. This again?! “Papa…”

“And you need to be the one telling him that, Harper.” He continued, his voice hard. “Either give him an ultimatum, or walk away. You deserve better than this!”

Harper did all she could to stay calm, but it was hard to ignore the anger she felt slowly bubbling up inside her.”Thing are going to get better.” She insisted. “And once Erik finds a job, you’ll see that, Papa. I promise! We just… We need a little help first.”

“You do… But not this kind of help.” Zayne shook his head as he spoke. “We can’t do this. I’m sorry.”

“Papa, come on!”

“Haven’t you had enough of this, honey?” Tears were already falling down Hope’s cheeks. The sight just made Harper even angrier. “Please, just… come home. Give Erik some space. Let him focus on getting better. And maybe you can take some time to focus on yourself too.” She paused for a moment, glancing toward her husband. “I know it’s not easy letting go. But it worked for your Papa and I all those years ago. And we both –”

“I’m not you, mom!” Harper was suddenly on her feet. They’d had this conversation countless times before, it seemed. And she wasn’t in the mood to deal with it again. “I’m not gonna turn my back on Erik when he needs me! And that’s exactly what you’re both doing right now! To me!”

“Harper! Your mother and I would never turn our backs on you. You know that!”

“Oh yeah, then what do you call this?!”

For a moment, Zayne seemed to struggle to find the right words. In the end, he dodged her question entirely. “We want to help you, honey. You know we do. But not like this. We can’t.”

“Then what the hell am I supposed to do, huh?! We need that money! Should I start stealing shit again?” It was so easy to pretend that she didn’t already have a stack of DVDs in her car that she’d stolen a few hours ago. “Is that what you want?!”

“Of course not!” Hope cried.

“Well it’s not like you’re giving me much of a choice!”

“But we are, Harper.” Her father’s voice was firm. “You do have a choice. And whatever that choice happens to be, well… it’s yours to make. Not ours.”

“Right. Because your choice is to turn your back on your own kid when she needs you.” Harper was embarrassed to feel the stinging of tears in the corner of her eyes. “Un-fucking-believable.”

She turned away from them and left the room without another word.

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Hey guys 🙂 A couple of things to mention today!

First off, this Monday, December 11th, marks TWO YEARS since I started writing Ashes to Ashes! 😮 I almost can’t believe it. I’ll probably try to do something special over on my forum thread at the Sims Forums 🙂 But I just wanted to take a moment to give a huge thank you to everyone for the past two years of support ❤

Secondly, some bad news… For a little while, I am going to have to cut down to one chapter a week. 😥 I’m so upset that it had to come to this, but I just bought a house with my boyfriend and, though super exciting and awesome, it’s also SO much work getting the house ready and moving our stuff… Plus the upcoming holidays on top of everything has made me incredibly busy and stressed lately. I can’t even keep up with a two-a-week schedule at this time 😦

I’d considered a full-on hiatus, but I simply couldn’t bring myself to do it! So, at least until the new year, we will only have one chapter a week now — on Saturdays.

Thank you for your understanding and I promise I will go back to twice a week as soon as I possibly can ❤

See you next Saturday with the next chapter! 😀