Georgia grins sleepily as Griffin curves his body around her own, the memory of last night sending a rush of warm blood to her face.
“Hi,” she whispers as she reaches up to kiss him. “I need to go.”
“Already?” he asks, playfully sliding his hand underneath her shirt.
“Yes,” she giggles and pushes him away. “I need to slip out before anyone notices me.”
Griffin sighs and nods. “I should probably leave too. I have to get an early start if I want to catch the morning ferry to the mainland.”
“The mainland?” she gasps, turning over to face him. “You’re leaving?”
“I must, George,” he replies somberly. “My engagement…”
“But why?” she cries. “Can’t you just write her?”
“No. She deserves to hear it from me in person.”
“Did you…” Georgia swallows hard. “Did you love her?”
“No,” he smiles slightly at the jealousy in her voice. “My family owes her family a great deal of money, and I agreed to marry her on the condition that her dowry cover our debt. The only woman I love is you, my darling. Surely you must know that.”
Georgia blushes. “But how will you repay them?” she asks. “And why have you never mentioned that you have family?”
“They sort of adopted me as a child,” he replies, ignoring her first question. “I never mentioned them because they live so far from here. I’m sorry.”
Griffin leans over and scoops her into his arms, kissing her gently. “I will only be gone a few weeks, and when I return I promise I will tell you everything you want to know.”
Georgia nods, trying to hold back her tears.
“Don’t cry, my love,” he soothes. “Ari will stay with you while I’m away.”
As if on cue, Ari meows loudly, announcing his presence.
She wanted me to remain with you, Griffin, the cat tells him ruefully.
“Yes, but she needs you more,” he retorts.
“What did you say?” Georgia frowns, glancing between him and the cat.
“Nothing. Just that Ari will take good care of you,” he continues. “And besides, the duke has been at court in the capital for months now, so you have nothing to worry about.”
As Griffin rises to his feet and begins to dress, Ari jumps into Georgia’s lap and playfully bats at her hands.
“Demanding, aren’t you?” she laughs and scratches his chin. “We’ll have a good time together,” she promises as he begins to purr. “You’ll see.”
A couple of days later, Georgia drops by Josephine’s house to pay her friend a visit after the recent birth of her daughter Autumn.
“How did you know?” she asks quietly as they sit together chatting in the parlor.
“Know what?” Jo laughs.
Georgia takes a deep breath. “That you were pregnant.”
Josephine glances up sharply, her eyes penetrating into Georgia’s skull. “I just knew,” she replies after a long pause. “You recognize the signs earlier during your second pregnancy, but your mother was able to confirm my first pregnancy with August after I missed my second straight cycle. Why? Who needs to know if they’re pregnant?”
“No one,” Georgia forces herself to smile cheerfully. “I just wondered.”
“Well, it should be fairly obvious, even before you begin to show. Your breasts ache sometimes, and everything tastes different. Some women get terrible nausea and feel rundown and tired, but I knew because my sense of smell changed dramatically. I can’t stand the odor of coffee when I’m pregnant.” Josephine watches her companion closely. “Georgie, is there something you want to ask me?”
She bites her lip and fidgets nervously. “No, no. I’m fine.”
“Alright dear.” The other woman shrugs nonchalantly, but her eyes remain suspicious.
Georgia makes sure to spend some time with Josephine’s son August while she’s there. Although a bit timid at first, he quickly warms up to Georgia, and they play together for the rest of the afternoon.
Although not entirely convinced yet, the notion that she may be pregnant dogs Georgia constantly throughout the following weeks.
However, as more time slips by, she gradually forgets about it. Now that the nausea has subsided, George feels better than ever, and her tummy remains as svelte and slender as always.
Amara, on the other hand, can’t think about anything else.
“I hope it’s a girl,” she beams as they munch on cookies late one evening.
Georgia stares at her in disbelief. “But why?” she asks.
Amara shrugs. “I know nothing about little boys, and since the kid won’t have a father I’d rather deal with a child I can relate to.”
Georgia frowns as she considers her friend’s words. She’d never thought about it that way, but the idea of having a girl does hold a certain appeal. Not that she wants kids anytime soon, but someday perhaps.
To Georgia’s delight, Griffin returns to town early the next morning.
And as the brisk autumn day begins to heat up, he and Georgia rent a boat and row out to a nearby island for a picnic
“Do you see that house?” Griffin asks quietly as they lounge together on the ground.
“What house?” Georgia replies, not bothering to turn her head.
“On that cliff up there.”
“The Old Murphy House?” She smiles wistfully as he nods. “I love that place. My sisters and I used to visit ole widow Murphy every Sunday after our mother dragged us to the temple to pray, and she would give us each a caramel if Ma said we had behaved. I miss her,” Georgia sighs. “I heard that she died not long after I left for the convent and that her house has just been sitting empty ever since.”
“I want to buy it.”
Stunned silence greets his words.
“But… It’s huge!” she says at last. “How can you possibly afford it?”
“I might have to borrow some money, but I will figure it out.”
“Why do you want such a big house?” she asks as she turns around to face him.
“For you. For us. For our eventual family.”
“I don’t know what to say,” she whispers tearfully.
“Say you’ll move in with me.”
“Yes! Yes,” she beams. “Of course.”
The following week, Griffin takes Georgia on an impromptu tour of the house as the first snow of the season begins to fall outside.
“What do you think?” he grins.
“It’s perfect,” she sighs happily. “I’m in love.”
Sweeping her into a kiss, he chuckles bemusedly. “I’m glad, because I still have one more question to ask you…”
“Will you marry me?”
“You’ll move in with us, won’t you Mara?” Georgia pleads. “There’s a huge basement that you can have all to yourself, or if you’d rather Griffin can turn the shed out back into your very own flat.”
Amara hesitates. “I don’t think so, hon. I don’t want to intrude on you guys.”
“Oh, but you wouldn’t be!” she insists.
“If she wants to stay, love, we shouldn’t argue with her,” Griffin chimes in a bit too eagerly.
“I’ll think about it,” Amara concedes, ignoring Griffin. “It would be nice to have some help with the baby when she arrives.”
“Exactly!” Georgia enthuses. “And we can-”
A sharp knocking at the door cuts her off mid-sentence.
Griffin scowls and exchanges a worried glance with Georgia. “Who could that be at this hour?” he wonders.
“Georgia Poet?” Two soldiers greet them at the door, and Georgia motions them inside.
“Yes?” she frowns. “How can I help you?”
“Her Grace has gone into labor, and she requires your assistance,” the man explains, his deep voice reverberating off the cold stone walls. “It is most urgent.”
“Oh no!” Georgia exclaims. “How far along is she?”
“We don’t know, madam, but we believe the situation to be quite dire. We need you to come with us immediately.”
“Goddess help her, of course. Let me gather a few elixirs, and I’ll-”
“Georgia?” Griffin interrupts her in a sharp, piercing tone. “May I speak to you? Alone?”
Georgia glares at him. “Right now? The duchess-”
“Yes. Right now.”
“What the hell?!” Griffin hisses as he pulls her aside. “Please tell me you aren’t serious about this.”
“About what?” Georgia demands. “About saving a woman’s life?”
“About willingly walking back into that man’s house!”
“What would you have me do? Refuse them?!”
“Yes! He raped you, Georgia! Why on earth would you want to help him?!”
Georgia’s mouth falls open in stunned anger. “He may have, but his wife did not! She needs me, Griffin, and I will not let an innocent woman die when I may be able to save her.”
“How do you know this isn’t a trap?” he snaps. “No. Absolutely not. I forbid you to go.”
“Like hell you do,” she cries, ripping her arm out of his grasp and storming out the door.
However, as they approach Lincolnshire Manor, Georgia's resolve slowly begins to deteriorate, but it isn’t until she reaches the duchess’s private chambers that her slight misgivings turn into outright fear. No servants scurry around the manor tonight, and the halls seem suspiciously silent for a woman in labor. Just as she turns to leave, though, the sound of a baby’s cries erupt from an open door at the end of the corridor, and she hesitantly tiptoes inside.
“Hello, little one,” Georgia coos at the infant, trying to remain calm and composed. “Where is your mama?”
“A natural already.”
A smooth voice echoes from the open door behind her, and Georgia jumps, startled by the sudden intrusion.
“Your Grace?” she frowns. “I thought-”
“I see you’ve met my daughter already,” she spits the words out like venom. “His Grace even allowed me to name the little leach. I chose Celia, after my own vile mother.”
Georgia gently sets the baby down in her crib before turning back to the duchess. “They said you were ill,” she shakes her head in confusion. “That you needed my help.”
“I do need your help, but before I get to that let me tell you a little story, Georgia Poet.”
Sauntering over to where Georgia stands, the duchess glares down at her infant daughter for a moment before launching into her tale.
“Once upon a time in a land not so far away from here, a beautiful young princess became betrothed to a handsome, wealthy young nobleman. They thought they loved each other, so they married quickly and immediately began trying to conceive an heir, but the princess kept a dark secret hidden from her groom. She hated children. No, not just hated. She loathed them. Everything about them from their nasty, dirty little fingers to their demanding, high pitched squeals repulsed the young woman, and she vowed to do everything in her power to keep her life free of the monsters. Nevertheless, as the years slipped by and she failed to carry a single pregnancy to term, her husband became ever more desperate to produce a viable male heir. Finally, on her fortieth birthday, she grew weary of his incessant demands and constant badgering and decided to indulge the lying, cheating bastard and give him the son he had always dreamed of. But alas, her body rejected the baby, and she fell deathly ill. Now enter a pretty young woman with a curiously strong healing gift, and you may begin to see where I’m heading with this story. Well, naturally, the bastard husband became quite enamored with the naïve healer girl and convinced himself that she was ‘destined’ to be the mother of his son, and no other woman would suffice. Of course, this left his wife, the beautiful young princess, in quite a bind.” The duchess pauses and studies Georgia’s face.
“I decided to see this pregnancy through because I figured one child would satisfy him, but he will never find happiness with me,” she spits at Georgia in a bitterly defeated tone of voice. “He wants a son. Your son.”
“But- I’m not pregnant,” Georgia stammers.
“Well then, we shall have to remedy that. I am giving you two choices, Ms. Poet. We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Alasdair wants to leave me. For you. I intend to bring an end to this wretched excuse of an existence tonight, but I need to know that I leave my affairs in good hands. Your hands. You will remain here with Celia and Alasdair and run the manor in my stead. You get to live in luxury as the wife of a duke, and I get to die in peace. Of course, Alasdair is not always an easy man to please, but a woman of your shape and form should manage just fine.”
“No!” Georgia exclaims in horror. “I won’t!”
“Ah, so you want to do this the hard way then?” Her eyes narrow into cruel little slits. “Fine by me. Your lovely boy toy holds quite an impressive criminal record, it seems. His wife as well.”
Georgia feels a wave of dizziness wash over her. “What did you say?”
“Oh, you didn’t know?” the duchess chuckles. “Yes, my husband maintains a number of contacts from his days serving as a general in the king’s army. He did a little digging a few months ago and sent word to his brother, Lord Draven, who happened to mention it to me. A married thief, what a catch,” she smirks at Georgia sarcastically.
“Alasdair can very easily indict you and your friend as well for harboring a known outlaw,” the duchess continues. “Several years hard labor for the both of you and the noose for your man, or live the life of a noblewoman and all his transgressions magically disappear? Your choice, dear, but it seems like an easy decision to me.”
First of all, I realize that there are some blatantly obvious holes in my timeline, especially in terms of the progress of the women's pregnancies and the length of the seasons. When I first played through this, I did not take nearly enough pictures and ended up staging most of these scenes in an alternate save, but I will address some of the worst inconsistencies right now (as there are story reasons and/or game glitches behind a few of them). If there's anything else you wondered about, though, please ask! I will try to be quicker in the future about responding to comments and questions. <3
1) Griffin’s Hair. I used the shorter hairstyle when I was actually playing the game, but once I began shooting more pictures I realized that EA’s texture looks absolutely TERRIBLE in the back. So, being the impulsive idiot that I am, I switched it to a different style for a couple of scenes and then decided that I wanted to use some more gameplay shots with him in the first hair. So I figure either A) His hair grows fast, and he doesn’t always have time to get it cut. B) His wife or some of his other family prefer him with short hair, but he likes it longer (which explains why he always returns from his “business trips” with it at a shorter length). Or C) He just can’t decide. XD
2) Baby Bellies. I used CmarNYC’s Pregnancy Controller mod to pause and adjust the length of the girls’ pregnancies to better suit my story, but when I actually played it through I did not alter them at all, in case that’s considered cheating or something. However, as for Georgia, I will say that even in the modern day and age there are cases of women who do not realize that they’re pregnant until they give birth. Not necessarily what I intend to do with her, but if it seems odd that she’s not showing when Amara is I just regard it as a difference in their physiology. (And oops, that's a bit of a spoiler I guess, but it's not like y'all didn't know anyway, lol.)
3) Seasons. In my universe, each season lasts for several years (between two and seven), but the timing of the girls’ pregnancies really put me in a tight spot in terms of the autumn season. They don’t give birth until winter in game, even though it seems as if they got pregnant during the summertime in the story. So, to make up for this, I’m just going to write it as if winter comes early to the islands. XD Also, as far as the numerous inconsistencies in the amount of foliage on the trees in my pictures, I have the most annoying glitch with one of the mods I use (NRaas Relativity) that causes trees to lose their leaves at an exponentially faster rate than normal. Autumn lasts for seven days in my game starting on a Sunday, but all my trees are totally bare and ugly by the end of Monday. So when I stage pictures, I either have to shoot my sims indoors or cheat the foliage back to how it should logically appear, which gives me yet another reason to have winter arrive early.
4) Household Funds. Alchemists make a ridiculous amount of money. Georgia can now brew three potions at a time worth a couple thousand simoleons each. In under an hour. Add to it the bonus money you get when you sell them at the elixir shop, and my household is already rolling in dough. However, in story she doesn’t make that much of course. She works the same job as her mother (who wasn’t rich), and realistically it should pay a similar amount. Hence the whole situation with Griffin buying them the new house. I just hope that all said and done it comes across as believable. But anyway, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of their future residence after that INSANE wall of text I just wrote. =D