4.7: Employment is Not Encouraged

A/N: Ugh, I’m so sorry for making you guys wait so long again. Juggling schoolwork and any kind of regular updating has been hard on me. I’m working on a better schedule though. I won’t be apologizing again, hopefully because I’ll be back on a regular schedule now (that’s probably a pipe dream…), but mostly because if I get behind on posting again, you guys know that it’s because I’m taking the maximum number of credits my college allows this semester.

Also, I wanted to give a huge shout out and thanks to Socallucyfan at Once Upon a Legacy Sims 3 for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger award. I’ll be making my official response to that very soon. 

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Janelle: “I’m exhausted but I’m happy.”

As devastating as the loss of my brother was—and, should you doubt, I often found myself crying in silent moments for months following Leolin’s untimely departure—I couldn’t help but be overjoyed. There’s this principle that Derek sometimes talks about (with complete disbelief, mind you—he thinks it’s just psychobabble) that the hospital’s lead psychiatrist mentions often: positivity and negativity are not the far ends of a single spectrum. They are neither mutually exclusive nor inevitably entangled. It is not uncommon to feel joy through pain.

That’s how I imagined my mood, then, Jane Anne. Simultaneously broken and overjoyed. They lived in parallel, though not in concert, and I was content with them that way.

The joy, of course, had to do with my pregnancy, my impending child.

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I couldn’t help it. Every moment that I looked down and saw my gently curving belly, I smiled widely. There was nothing for it—I just had to smile. I had a baby in there. I was helping to grow a life. Not just any life, no—a combination of Derek and I, a perfectly successful doctor and his perfectly aristocratic wife/baker. This child would be born into the perfect family, and I couldn’t wait for that day.

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In the meantime, Derek was cutting me some slight slack in terms of my wifely duties, due to the fact that he was more concerned about me hurting the baby climbing up and down the stairs of our immense mansion that he was about his sink being sparkling clean at every moment. Dinner was still an expectation, but that was something I could handle.

I’d changed my routine a bit, now. Since before Leolin’s passing, I’d regularly entertained myself in the afternoon, following Derek’s departure for work, with swimming and spending time with the family… well, none of those things felt quite right now. Indeed, they didn’t feel right at all.

I couldn’t make myself swim. I could barely make myself look at the pool. I was so close to asking Derek to fill it in, get rid of the monstrosity… I was convinced I just had to wait for the right time, when he was so pleased with me that he would have to agree to whatever I wanted.

And the family part of it all… Hari and Apollo, as devastated as I by the loss of our brother and wracked by guilt for the fact that they’d been so close by and hadn’t been able to save him, had left. I knew they’d planned to, but Leolin had three years left in high school. As much as I pleaded for them to stay—to wait for a little while longer before moving out, to imagine that Leolin was still living here, just for a bit…

They left me. I knew they needed their own space, but I missed my brothers desperately. As much as they exasperated me, as much as they drove me mad and pushed my buttons and questioned all my decisions, they were family. And even though not the perfect family I would soon have, I would soon give birth to, that didn’t make them any less essential to me.

The only family that remained was Leo and my mother. And it’s not as if I had any interest in spending time with them. Well, Leo maybe. But certainly not the woman who had given birth to me.

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Instead, I spent all my time in the bakery.

Though it was quaint compared to my vast and luxurious home, I loved it there. It felt more like my mother’s home had—small and cozy and quiet. And baking there in the morning filled the room with sweet smells of sugar and cinnamon and vanilla, and there wasn’t anything better in the whole world.

In the interest of maintaining some sense of upper class decorum, I hired an employee to help out with day to day tasks.

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She wasn’t quite as experienced nor as… swift on her feet as perhaps I would have liked, considered she was essentially a waitress, but it wasn’t too much of a problem, I first supposed. She could handle customers, and I could handle baking.

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Janelle: “Oh, hello there, Miss. I’d be terribly sorry if something happened to you so close to the stove, so could you perhaps go back behind the counter?”

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Mariella: “Oh, sure, I’ll just do that right now.”

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Janelle: “Really, Miss, I’m dealing with very hot pans in this area of the kitchen. In the interest of your safety, could you just step behind the counter? If you’d still like to converse, we can speak from there.”

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Mariella: “You think I wanna talk with a bitch like you? Uppity aristocrat bitch. Married some richie rich and now you think you’re too good to stand next to us commoners?”

Janelle: “Oh, no, that’s not it at all. I just… Laura, could you come show Miss Mariella to her table now?”

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Mariella: “Yeah, get your servant to send me away. Can’t even handle a problem by yourself, spoiled little rich brat. Never forget, we know where you came from. We know what kind of mama raised you. You can’t get away from that.”

Janelle: “What did you say about my mother?”

Laura: “What did you say about me?”

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Mariella: “Ha, spoiled little rich girl, can’t even take a joke. I’m just joshing you.”

Janelle: “…Sure you are…”

Mariella: “But really.”

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Mariella: *hushed* “Don’t forget where you came from, bitch.”

Clearly, Laura wasn’t quite doing the job I expected…

I don’t like to admit it, but it still rattles me, when people point at my mother and where I came from as a reason why I am lesser now. I wasn’t lesser then, just ill-regarded. And now I am a member of a higher class. My husband is the chief of a hospital. I have beautiful children. None of that becomes any less important, or respectable, because I once played hide and seek in my mother’s shop and hid myself behind a rack of porno magazines.

I wished desperately that Leolin were there to talk to. He always understood my frustration with the way in which we were viewed. Even Hari and Apollo did, to some extent. Though they didn’t blame Mother for it, and the company they kept meant it didn’t come up too much, they still got looks on the street, even rude yells, when the occasional lowlife would recognize them because of Mother or her store.

But none of them were there.

So I retreated to the only one who might know what it was like.

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Janelle: “Thank you for helping me with dinner tonight, Mother.”

B: “Of course. Anything for my baby.”

B: “Now, what did you want to talk about?”

Janelle: “It’s just… does it ever frustrate you, the way people see you? The way they see us, sometimes? Like we’re, I don’t know…”

B: “Like we’re lesser? Because of where I work? Because of how I behaved?”

Janelle: “…yeah.”

B: “Somedays. Not for the reason it frustrates you though, I don’t think. I find it frustrating because I’m not ashamed of my shop, or what I did to keep it running. I made money. I survived. And I got a little fun out of it. There should be no shame in enjoying what you do, even if it’s running a lingerie store.”

Janelle: “A sex shop.”

B: “Sure, you could call it that.”

B: “But I think you’re frustration is less frustration, and more anger. Because you didn’t do it, they look down on you by association. And because, perhaps, you think the same way they do? About me? You think it’s shameful, what I did. That I deserve to be looked down on.”

Janelle: “Mother, I—“

B: “It’s okay, dear. I understand, and I don’t blame you. If I’d had a shadow of my own mother to escape, I’d have been angry too.”

B: “Now, who is this asshole who talked down to my baby?”

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Janelle: “Oh, nobody. Just a customer.”

B: “At the shop? Really? I didn’t realize you still worked there. I haven’t been there in ages, the customers must be disappointed.”

Janelle: “Well, I work at the shop, not your shop… Derek doesn’t know yet, but I love to bake. And I’d feel weird not working. Just because he makes a lot of money—“

B: “Wait… bake?”

That wasn’t a good conversation. After the conversation we’d had before, how understanding she’d seemed… I thought she’d get it that I didn’t want to continue with the legacy of her sex shop.

But no.

I was a coward, she said. A traitor. And a weak-willed one at that. I was the matriarch. How could I let my husband push me around?

I tried to explain that I converted it to a bakery on my own, before I even met Derek. But she didn’t believe me. She didn’t want to believe me.

Maybe she saw it as her legacy.

An unwanted legacy, for sure. But something. She didn’t have a lot to leave me, now that I think of it. Any money overshadowed by my husbands, our childhood home already gone.

And it might have had something to do with Leolin, too… He played there as a child, too.

And now it was gone.

I regret it a little. But how was I to know the great significance it would come to have?

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Janelle: “Hi, honey. I have dinn—“

Derek: “Let’s eat outside.”

Janelle: “…Okay.”

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Janelle: “Any particular reason we’re out here?”

Derek: “Because the dining room echoes, and I did not want to raise my voice in there.”

Janelle: “Raise your voice? Derek—“

Derek: “Be quiet.”

Derek: “It came to my attention, today, that you are not fulfilling your wifely duties as I assigned them to you.”

Derek: “It came to my attention, today, that in your state, carrying my child, you exposed yourself to danger.”

Derek: “You exposed yourself to ridicule.”

Derek: “You exposed me to ridicule. Our family.”

Derek: “Our family does not get ridiculed, Janelle.”

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Janelle: “Derek, if you’re talking about at the shop, I didn’t do anything. I was just standing there, and—“

Derek: “I told you to. Be. Quiet.”

Derek: “Of course, working in a shop, slaving over a stove, reminding everyone of your former stature, you were ridiculed.”

Derek: “You are meant to be a woman of class, Janelle. You assured me, when I married you, that you would represent me and my family well. That you were a lady. That you could be a wonderful wife.”

Derek: “So far, you have been failing in near every way just at home, and now I find out that you’re working?”

Derek: “It ends now, Janelle.”

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Janelle: “Derek, hold on a minute.”

Derek: “No. I won’t listen to your feeble defenses this time, Janelle. There is no excuse. You will cease working at the shop immediately.

Janelle: “It’s my family’s shop, Derek. I’m the fourth generation to run it—sort of, it’s complicated, that’s not the point—anyway, I can’t just leave it. It’s tradition.”

Derek: *sigh*

Derek: “Then manage it. Hire someone to work there for you. Turn it into a restaurant, make it look like you’re the investor, or the owner. Just don’t work there.”

Janelle: “Derek…”

Derek: “This conversation is over, Janelle.”

Janelle: “…Right.”

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Derek: “Since you can’t even get your duties at home right, I’ll take this plate in myself.”

Janelle: “…”

Janelle: “…Derek, I’m sorry. I’ll do better.”

Derek: “You keep saying that. Try actually making it happen this time.”

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He left.

It was a rough way to end a very rough day.

But the way it ended, as I was going to sleep that night, made me cringe. I started to climb into bed, all soft and apologetic, Derek already asleep, and…

Why?

This wasn’t who I was. This weak-willed, limp-wristed coward of a woman who was cowed by a criticism—probably a right one—from her husband?

No. I kicked ass. I took names. I seduced this man, and now that I had him, I was going to make him resent me?

Never.

I’d be the best goddamn trophy wife that man had ever seen. No working, just getting everything right at home. That was just as worthwhile as going to work every day. Being a trophy wife was a job. My full time job. I’d get it right, now.

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Derek: “That was great, Janelle. Maybe you’re figuring some things out after all.”

I guaranteed it.

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