Needless to say, I found myself sleeping on the couch for the remainder of our stay. For some reason Maureen was not appeased by my explanation.
"It was one time, ten years ago, sweetheart. It was the only way to get the information I needed."
"Cheating is cheating, Ren. There is no good excuse. And how do I know this was the only time?"
I had dragged myself off the couch after another sleepless night, to find the house empty except for Brook.
"Where is everyone?"
"Mom took Colt and Heather to the art museum. I didn't want to go. Art is boring, I'd rather stay here and fish."
"Hmm. Well, I have work to do, and I don't want you here alone all day. You'll have to come with me. Go change your shirt and we'll get going. What are you doing with your sister's shirt on anyway?"
"It's not Heather's, it's mine. I bought it at the market with the spending money you gave me."
"But it's pink."
"It's my favorite color."
I was in no mood to argue.
"Just go change it. Now."
I sighed as I watched him scurry off obediently. Something about that kid just rubs me the wrong way. Always doing stuff to annoy me, and then when I call him on it, he gives in without a fight. He's too good, if that's possible.
First stop was the old castle on the bluff.
I pulled out my map to look for landmarks, but the view of the river was blocked.
"What are we looking for, daddy?"
"An island in the river. but I can't see the river from here."
"I bet we could see it from that tower."
"Ohh, dad! This is so cool! We can see the whole village from here! And there's our house across the river!"
I nodded absently as I surveyed the landscape. I checked the map again. Right below this tower is where it shows the river widening. If this map is correct, the river used to be much higher, extending out to the hills. So what used to be an island, would now be a bit of high ground on the plain across the river.....
"Ohh wow, look, dad! I can see the Eiffel Tower from here! and Paris!"
I barely listened, for I suddenly knew right where that X on the map was, and fervently hoped that I could finally put those blasted urns to rest.
My long search had brought me right back home to the old nectary.
"Oh, daddy, thank you thank you! My friends are so happy to be home!"
"Anything for my little girl, sweetie."
I was still in the dog house with Maureen and Colt, and it was nigh impossible to carry on a coherent conversation with Heather, so I spent a good part of the rest of our vacation attempting to get along with my younger son. At least we both like to fish.
"I miss Bennie. Why couldn't he come with us?"
"He has to run the White Rose while we're gone, you know that. Besides, it's just a simbot, you can't miss it."
"Well, I do. He's my best friend."
"You're weird, you know that."
"Mom says I'm assentric, just like grandma.
"Eccentric you mean. But yeah, that means weird."
It was nearing the end of our stay, and I was still relegated to the couch, although I noticed the glares coming in my direction were lessening a little. I awoke in the middle of the night from a restless sleep, to find Maureen sitting there next to me.
"Ren, are you awake? We need to talk."
"You really hurt me this time, Ren. Things have been so good between us for such a long time, and now this. I've been doing a lot of thinking, about what you said. If you can honestly swear that was the only time, maybe we can move on from this."
I looked her in the eye, and intoned in the most believable voice I could muster, "I swear, babe. That was the only time, and I felt so guilty afterward, I could hardly live with myself. There is no way I would ever cheat on you ever again. I'm so sorry. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."
"Then I forgive you. And I insist we have Mathilde over to visit. She deserves to know her dad."
I think I was about the happiest guy in the world at that moment. And I didn't really lie about Elvira and Delicia. After all, if you can't remember something, it doesn't really count, does it? And the other thing was mainly just a therapeutic massage, right?
Mathilde and Heather really hit it off, while Brook spent his time watching the fishing channel.
"Come play tag with us, Brook."
"Can't, I'm fishing."
I lost the fight such as it was, with Brook about that shirt. Maureen sided with him, and it was his favorite shirt until he finally outgrew it.
Our last night in France, Maureen arranged a little concert. Heather sang an adorable little French tune she had learned from Mathilde, while Maureen and Colt accompanied her.
Brook, of course was off doing his own thing - I think he's on a rock collecting kick right now. Maureen doesn't make him join in any more; she says his heart just isn't in it.
"I love you so much, babe. It's our last night in France, what do you say we celebrate."
I sighed in complete happiness as we finally drifted off to sleep together.
Even though Maureen forgave me, Colt didn't. Even after we returned home, his animosity just seemed to grow.
"I swear, dad, if you ever hurt mom again, I'll...I'll.."
He curled his fist into a ball.
"Just don't hurt her."
It was no surprise then, that he left home as soon as he graduated. His two loves have always been art and martial arts, and he is headed for China to write an illustrated book on sim fu.
"Wish me luck, mom!"
"How long will you be gone?"
"As long as it takes. I'll let you know. I think I may settle down there, if I like it."
"We'll miss you."
"I'll miss you, too, mom."
Brook is happy to be back home with Bennie. They spend all their free time out behind the barn, playing with junk.
Today Bennie is taking him to the dump, to collect more scrap for their crazy experiments. I wasn't going to let them go, but Maureen didn't see a problem. And what Maureen says, goes, nowadays. Gotta keep the peace.
It's no secret I don't like Bennie hanging out with Brook, so I followed them because, well, to be honest, I just wanted to spy on them, and I don't trust Bennie. After all, he is just a simbot. Hmm, they don't look like they're collecting any scrap. Just attaching wires to some kind of...
.... explosives!! What the????? The whole dump exploded in a giant fire ball.
Bennie and Brook were jumping up and down in utter glee at the sight.
I was furious as I approached the pair.
"Oh no, Brook. I think we did something bad," Bennie screeched in his crackly robot voice.
"What are you doing with my son, you freaking bucket of bolts? I swear I'm gonna dismantle you piece by piece and throw the pieces in the bottom of the lake!"
"No, daddy, no... please, no... " Brook was sobbing at my side.
"It's all my fault, daddy, I asked him to do it."
"Please do not do this, brother," Bennie crackled.
"Grrrrrr... how many times have I told you, I. Am. Not. Your. Brother."
This was the last straw. That simbot has to go.