Night had fallen on Knight Palace, and the girls were decompressing after their tiring time in the labyrinth. Each had their own story to tell – whether it was London crying in bed, Raina totally destroying a bonsai tree*, or Lyric’s obsession with her guitar – there was plenty of anecdotes to share.
Lyndsay had primped in the mirror for a solid two hours before bouncing into a small dinner nook, where Stellan waited. A huge spread was set out for them; apple pie, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, lobster tortellini…it was a meal for royalty, and Lyndsay felt that she fit in perfectly.
“Congrats on winning the maze run, by the way.” Stellan said. “I couldn’t imagine having to do that myself.”
“It was awful!” Lyndsay griped. “So much white everywhere. It washed all of us out.”
“Did you get distracted by anything? If I had seen that video game Kara was playing, I would’ve been hooked. I didn’t even know those things existed,” Stellan laughed.
“Actually, yes! When we first walked in, Raina decided to start pruning that weird green tree thing. I had to stop and watch – it was an absolute trainwreck. Piles of garbage on the floor, ugly limbs sticking out from the tree…It was hilarious.”
“At least she tried,” Stellan grimaced. “We could use a gardener in the house.”
“Oh no, that’s what the hired help is for.” Lyndsay protested.
“Sure, but it could be a nice hobby to take up. Gardening is always a good skill. I’ve got friends in Oasis Springs that complain about the soil all the time. We have to trade the produce from our crops for their gemstones.”
Lyndsay rolled her eyes. “Bo-ring!” She leaned forward and placed her chin in her hands. “Tell me something about you, Stelly. What was it like growing up in such a…quaint palace?”
Stellan bristled at her tone. It was saccharine sweet, but he noted the malice behind it. “It was great. I grew up with my two parents before they passed. We used to spend hours just lying out by the lake. One of my favourite memories is catching fish with my father.” He broke his gaze, getting lost in the remembrance. “Then one day he said, ‘son, it’s time you learned about your kingdom’, and he took me to Foundry Cove, where the poorer people lived. We did a vaccination clinic and had a huge barbecue with the fish we cooked. The city’s mascot even showed up. It was that day I learned that not everyone was brought up the way I was.”
“That is a wonderful memory,” Lyndsay conceded. “My daddy never did anything like that with me. He was with me in spirit though – in the form of his credit card!” She warbled.
“So besides spending your Father’s money, what else do you like to do?”
Lyndsay paused. “I guess my other hobby is traveling. I’ve been all over the world, and I’ve really been immersed in the culture. This world is amazing – swanky restaurants, parties every night, just what I like!”
“What about aside from the parties? Like, what’s the craziest food you’ve ever had?”
“Oh goodness,” Lyndsay laughed. “I don’t eat anything there. My personal chef comes with me. I’d hate to be in an area that didn’t know what goopy carbonara is!”
“I think every sim knows what goopy carbonara is,” Stellan countered. “But wouldn’t it be interesting to learn a little more about a new place? I’ve heard the curry sold at San Myshuno festivals is to die for, and the sakura tea too.”
“Festival? That sounds so…primitive. Wouldn’t you rather stay in a high rise and drink simsmapolitans on the balcony?”
“No, actually. I’d rather learn.”
“That’s what tutors are for!” Lyndsay giggled, oblivious to the real meaning of Stellan’s comment.
The two stared at each other in locked silence for what felt like an eternity. Their conversation turned from merely unpleasant to offensive.
“It’s getting late,” Stellan blurted out once the silence had become too heavy. “Perhaps we can speak more in the morning.”
“Sure!” Lyndsay chirped. “A girl needs her beauty sleep, after all.”
Getting up to open the door, Stellan let Lyndsay walk out as he took a steadying breath. That definitely didn’t go as planned. Maybe she was tired – she had just spent twelve hours in a twisting maze, after all. But something rankled Stellan. Lyndsay seemed to lack the respect he had hoped for when talking about the world beyond her, and it hurt him. For a man that wanted to travel and soak up as much as he could, Lyndsay wouldn’t be the girl to do that with.
Stellan knocked on Simcess’s door and let himself in.
“I need to talk to you.”
Simcess gestured to the chair opposite her and set down the book she’d been absorbed in.
“I just had my date with Lyndsay, and it didn’t go very well.”
“I hate to break it to you, but that’s bound to happen.”
“I know, I know,” Stellan said, placing his head in his hands, mussing his hair. “I don’t know what to do.”
“What did you say to her?”
“That I’d talk to her again in the morning.”
“And if that talk doesn’t go well?”
“I don’t know,” Stellan sighed, leaning back into his chair. “Can I send her home?”
“Do you think that’s fair?” Simcess asked honestly. “Yasmine is in the Redemption Room right now – maybe you could swap them out.”
“I don’t want Lyndsay there – if I want her to go home, I don’t there to be any chance she might return to the competition. If I send Lyndsay home, can Yasmine be released?”
Simcess shook her head. “I’m afraid not. Once someone enters the RR, she has to win a challenge to stay in the competition. You’ve got two options: Send Lyndsay into the RR along with Yasmine, and put them head-to-head in a competition. Winner stays, loser goes. Or, you send Lyndsay home and make Yasmine do a challenge by herself.”
Stellan rubbed his temples. “Maybe I’ll just wait until I talk to Lyndsay tomorrow, and see if I want to send her home or not. There’s no point in making a decision now only to have it changed tomorrow.”
And with that, the two friends bid each other good night, already preparing for the worst.
The next morning, Stellan took Lyndsay to his private balcony. He had hoped that the new day would give them a fresh start and outlook.
“It’s beautiful out here, isn’t it?” Stellan asked Lyndsay, peering out at the endless rows of trees beyond the palace.
“It’s alright, guess,” Lyndsay shrugged. “I’ve seen better from my penthouse.”
“And besides, don’t you think the best view is right in front of you?” Lyndsay purred, striking a seductive pose.
“I came out here to make amends, Lyndsay. I was hoping the conversation we had last night was just a big miscommunication.”
“I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I thought it went perfectly,” Lyndsay whispered.
Stellan paused, baffled by the girl’s obliviousness to the awkwardness in the air. “It was far from perfect, actually. I’m not sure we’d make a good couple.”
“Are you kidding me?” Lyndsay screamed. “What the plum, Stellan? One minute you’re sizzling hot, the next cold as stone! I wouldn’t want to be with someone like you, anyways. I don’t want someone cultured, or who spends their days kissing babies. I need a man. Something you seem to know absolutely nothing about!”
And with that, Lyndsay stormed off. Stellan was dumbfounded at the turn in events. Deciding he didn’t know the girls nearly enough, he called them all into a small room with chairs all facing each other.
“It’s been brought to my attention that I haven’t spent enough time getting to know all of you, and I apologize,” Stellan started, staring at each of the girls. “And I want to rectify that by getting to know more about you all. I thought the best way to do that would to be to talk with no distractions. No gimmicks.”
And so for the next many hours, everyone – well, almost everyone – forgot their prejudices and fights, coming together to get to know one another instead. Stellan was pleased to understand the women, even if only a little bit more. He listened to Natalia prattle on about the country life she escaped, Lyric’s progress with the violin, Kara’s penchant for space travel, and Alex’s desire to get painting again. It was a nice afternoon, and everyone felt a little bit better about where they stood with Stellan.
Well, almost everyone.
After the meeting, Lyndsay retired to her room to cry. Her tears clumped her once-perfect lashes together as streams of mascara ran down her cheeks.
Shirley entered the room, intending to take a short nap before luncheon. However, all her plans changed when she saw Lyndsay crying helplessly in bed.
“Lyndsay?” She called, stepping tentatively towards her roommate. “Is everything okay?”
“No!” Lyndsay cried, her voice thick with tears. “Go away!”
Shirley bristled. It’s my room too, sweetheart. But instead of turning away, Shirley found herself sitting on Lyndsay’s bed, coaxing her to sit up.
“What happened?” Shirley asked, noting the ragged state of the usually perfect girl.
“I don’t think he likes me!” Lyndsay cried. “I said he wasn’t a man and that he was too…cultured!” Lyndsay gasped, trying to clear her throat.
“Oh no,” Shirley whispered. “Did you apologize?”
“Why should I?” Lyndsay asked. “Everything I said was true!”
Shirley covered her eyes in dismay. “You said he wasn’t a man, Lynds! Way to hurt his pride.”
“He should be the one apologizing to me, don’t you think?” Lyndsay asked, her sadness melting away to anger. “I mean, he was the one who thought we were fighting. I was fine with our dinner yesterday.”
Shirley was at a loss for words. The only thing she could do was sit there, staring in disbelief at her friend.
“I need to go find Stellan and get him to apologize,” She suddenly blurted out. “Right now.”
Lyndsay jumped up and ran to the door, throwing it open and charging into the hallway.
Shirley looked in the mirror at herself and said, “Can you believe that just happened?”
Lyndsay had no luck finding Stellan, as Simcess had called him down to the Redemption Room. Stellan decided it was best to let Yasmine try to get back into the competition alone, instead of competing with anyone else.
“Are you ready for this?” Simcess asked Stellan once he joined her in the catacombs.
“I am. I just hope Yasmine is.”
“I’m sure she will be. She’s a smart girl.”
Simcess pressed a button to her left, allowing an intercom to crackle to life. Through the single-sided glass, Simcess leaned over to look at Yasmine.
“Alright, Yasmine. Your challenge today is to create a medium-sized painting. You have an unlimited amount of time to complete it. If the painting is valued 61 simoleons or over, you’re back in the competition. If not, you leave immediately.”
“Got it,” Yasmine said, starting at herself in the mirror. With a shaky hand, she picked up a thin paintbrush and got to work. 61 simoleons. She could do that…
As Yasmine painted, Simcess and Stellan struck up a conversation.
“I really like Yasmine,” Stellan admitted. “We got to talk a little bit more today. She’s the CEO of Doo Peas Corporate Tower – I’ve actually done business there before. At the time, there was a different CEO, but a part of me wonders if she had been there at the time, would I even be having this bachelor competition?”
Yasmine put the finishing touches on her painting before stepping back to observe it. The quality wasn’t the best, but it was the most she could do with a trembling hand. You could tell it was a teapot though, and the apples had nice shading to them.
“I’m finished!” She finally called out.
Simcess came into the room and observed the painting.
She turned to Yasmine, who was fidgeting, shifting her weight from one side to the other.
“Yasmine, the price of your painting is…”
“90 simoleons! Congratulations, you’re back in the competition!”
Yasmine jumped up and down, letting out a girlish squeal completely unlike herself. Stellan came in to give her a congratulatory hug before leading her up the stairs.
“I’m impressed,” Stellan admitted. “I know you’re more of a baker-slash-businesswoman, not an artist.”
Yasmine laughed. “I’m just as surprised as you are, believe me. But I’m nothing if not determined, and I think that helped a lot.”
“It certainly did,” Stellan smiled, noticing the cute freckles on her nose. “I’m glad you’re staying. It would be a shame for you to leave so soon.”
Yasmine blushed, staring down at her fingers. She had been around powerful business men all her life and never had a problem, but she found herself as giddy as a little girl around Stellan.
“As a sort of ‘congratulations’, would you like to go out on a date with me tonight? No painting required!”
“I’d love to!” Yasmine exclaimed, smiling brightly.
“Awesome. I’ll come get you around seven?”
However, before Stellan and Yasmine could go on their date, there was something else he had to take care of.
Or rather, someone.
He met Lyndsay at the front of the palace, where she stood with arms crossed.
“Are you here to apologize?” She asked, pointing an accusatory finger at him.
“Apologize? For what?” He asked, putting his hands up in an effort to placate her.
“For being so rude to me, of course! I can’t believe you’d just brush me aside and say we won’t make a good couple. How do you even know that? We’ve barely spent any time together!”
“Whoa!” Stellan exclaimed, taking a step back. “We had dinner yesterday and we spent the entire time butting heads.”
“We wouldn’t have if you would’ve just agreed with me,” Lyndsay howled. “You don’t deserve me, Stellan. I could do so much better!”
Stellan took a deep breath. “I hope you find someone you deserve, Lyndsay. But I’m not that guy. We clearly don’t see eye to eye, and that’s why I’m letting you go.”
Lyndsay’s posture relaxed as her eyes grew wide at what she had just done.
“Oh my plumb, Stellan. I was just kidding!” She smiled tightly, playfully slapping him on the shoulder.
“Well, I’m not.” He deadpanned. “Please leave now, before I have security escort you out.”
Tears shone in Lyndsay’s eyes as she stomped down the imposing stairs and into the night. It was over.
She had lost.
Meanwhile, Yasmine ran into her room, where London sat reading on the bed.
“London!” She called.
“Yasmine, you’re back!” London cried back, jumping up and hugging her tightly. “Welcome home!”
The two girls sat together and told their stories of the past couple days.
“You have a date with the prince?” London squealed, bouncing on the bed.
“Yeah! Just…” Yasmine trailed off, scuffing the floor.
“Just what?” London asked, scooting closer.
“I don’t know what to wear. I’m more of a power suit, blouse-and-flats kind of girl. I don’t know what to wear on a date.”
“You mean you’ve never been on one?” London questioned incredulously.
Yasmine shrugged. “I guess not.”
A wicked smile crept up London’s face.
“Luckily, you’ve got me. It’s time for a makeover!”
*I’m not kidding – Raina completely destroyed that bonsai tree. There was garbage on the floor and everything, ha!