Chapter 2.10 A Curse Fulfilled

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May was putting away the leftover cake when Stella realized how late it had gotten.

“I promised Ivy that we would meet up tonight.” She said as she got up to get ready to leave. “She is leaving for Bridgeport to be a Fashion Fledgling soon, and I don’t know when I will be able to see her next.”

“Or Brandon.” June added, but Stella just rolled her eyes.

She told herself that she was over Brandon, although deep down she knew that it was a lie.

“Don’t stay out too late.” April told Stella.

Stella might be a young adult now, but that doesn’t mean that April’s job is over, or that the worrying is over.

“I will be home at a reasonable hour.” Stella replied as she headed out the door.

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Stella was shocked at how quickly Ivy came to the door. Stella didn’t even have her finger off of the doorbell yet when Ivy pulled Stella inside with such force that Stella almost tripped over the doorway. “I am so glad you are finally here!”

That was when Stella noticed that Maleficent was staring at her. Maleficent was watching Stella the same way that a lion watches a gazelle. It made Stella nervous, and more than a bit creeped out, so she just responded with a meek smile.

And then she saw Brandon.

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Stella thought that Brandon was a good looking teen, but he looks even better as a young adult. He has the same perfect tan and surfer boy look, which has now been accentuated by a strong jaw line. Brandon was leaning against the door frame in a casual, nonchalant sort of way.  However, his smile quickly turned to sadness as he caught Stella’s eye.

A big part of Stella wanted to run up to him and tell him how much she missed him and that deep down she really loves him. But something stopped her.

Maybe it was Aunt June’s voice in her head telling her to keep cool. Maybe it was Ivy talking nonstop about her new job in Bridgeport. Maybe it was Maleficent watching her like a creeper. Or maybe it was all of the above. Whatever the reason, Stella stood her ground. She didn’t even give Brandon a second look.

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“I have a surprise for you.” Ivy dragged Stella up the stairs and into her room. As Stella entered the room she noticed a rather large box. It was wrapped with pink and purple sparkly paper and had a giant hot pink bow on top of it.

“I got a little something for you too.” Stella said as she handed Ivy a small box. She felt a little embarrassed that her gift is so much smaller. But after all, isn’t it the thought that counts?

Ivy started to unwrap Stella’s gift. She opened the box and pulled out a picture of a beach, and a jar of sand.

“What is this?” Ivy asked holding up the jar.

“It is sand from the beach.” Stella explained. “Even though Twinbrook isn’t your home, I want you to remember the fun times we had together. And know that you always have a piece of Twinbrook with you.”

“Oh, okay.” Ivy said apathetically.

Stella watched as Ivy carelessly tossed the items on her bed as if they were scraps of trash. Ivy didn’t even seem to care that the jar of sand almost rolled off the bed and could have crashed and broke on the floor. Stella’s feelings were hurt watching her best friend act so indifferent towards her gift.

“Now open mine.” Ivy said. Ivy’s tone of voice was part excitement, but mostly insistent.

Stella began to unwrap the gift. She carefully took off the large bow and placed it on the floor. She took her time with the wrapping, making sure not to tear it.

“Hurry up, will you!” Ivy yelled. She was growing even more impatient by the second.

“I’m sorry.” Stella was surprised by Ivy’s demeanor.

Stella has known Ivy to be to be spoiled by her mom, but never has Ivy ever been so rude or demanding, or even raised her voice to Stella. This was a whole different Ivy, and Stella didn’t like it. She quickly unwrapped the gift, so she could leave as soon as possible. As Stella removed the box top the sides of the box fell down, revealing her present.

“What is it?” Stella questioned.

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“It’s a spinning wheel.” Ivy said matter-of-factly. “It’s an antique.”

“Wow, I’ve never owned a spinning wheel before.” Stella was trying to be polite, but she was totally confused.

Who gives a spinning wheel as a going away present?   This visit has been so weird, Stella couldn’t wait to leave. She tried making her way out the door, but Ivy blocked her path.

“Why don’t you try it out?” she impatiently directed Stella back to the spinning wheel.

“I don’t know how to use this.” Stella said. She had had enough of Ivy’s rude attitude and wanted to leave, with or without that darn spinning wheel. Yet Ivy wouldn’t let her go.

“It’s easy.” Ivy responded with more aggression. “Put your hand right here.”

Ivy isn’t as strong as Stella, but that didn’t stop her from trying to push Stella towards the present. She yelled in frustration as she tried pushing Stella’s hand onto the needle of the spinning wheel.

“What are you doing?” Stella questioned as she pulled her hand back. She hurt Stella’s hand by grabbing at it so hard.

“Just put your stupid finger on the freaking needle already!” Ivy shouted.

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That outburst was the last straw.  Stella pushed her way past Ivy and headed towards the door, determined never to speak to any member of the Crowe family ever again. As she was reaching for the doorknob Brandon came walking into the room, blocking her path. Stella tried to talk to Brandon, but he wouldn’t look her in the eyes. Instead he sadly looked at the ground with his hands folded behind his back. Ivy grabbed Stella by the arm and was once again trying to forcefully drag Stella back to the spinning wheel.

Alarm bells were going off in Stella’s head. There was something very very wrong here. Stella tried to shake free from Ivy’s grasp, but it was no use. It didn’t matter anyway, since now Brandon also stood in her way. Stella was starting to feel like a caged animal.

“Now that you are here,” Ivy said to Brandon, “you can finally tell her the truth.”

“What are you talking about?” Stella questioned.

“Tell Stella how Mom forced you to date her.” Ivy continued speaking to Brandon, but she was looking at Stella. She was getting a twisted sort of enjoyment from seeing Stella’s confusion turn into panic. “Tell Stella how Mother told you to talk about Dad and how much you missed him. And then tell her how we faked being her friend.”

“Stop it Ivy.” Brandon pleaded, but Ivy didn’t listen.

“Tell her that you never cared about her, and that we only did all of this for the reward money.”

“What are you talking about?” Stella repeated her question.

Stella felt a knot in her stomach and tears fall down her cheeks. So, it was true that Brandon didn’t love her the way that she loved him. But why would he lie to her? And why would Ivy fake being her friend? And what reward money were they talking about?

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“We know all about that curse put upon you.” as Ivy spoke an evil gleam spread across her face. She was enjoying watching Stella squirm. She wanted to savor each sinister moment. “That is why we are here. Anastasis hired us. She sent out different families to try and find you. And after you had dinner with us, we knew that you are the one we have been looking for.”

Stella’s panic turned into shock. She still had no idea what Ivy was talking about, but there was one thing that Stella knew for sure.   Stella realized that she had been set up. And that her two best friends were frauds.

Stella didn’t know what to do next. She quickly tried planning an escape. How could she get away from Ivy, past Brandon, who was still blocking the bedroom door, down the stairs, past Maleficent, and then out the front door? Stella was flooded with panic. She stole another glance towards Brandon. He looked like he was sorry, but he wasn’t offering any help either.

Ivy still had Stella by the arm and was dragging her away from the door. With a burst of adrenaline Stella freed her arm from Ivy’s death grip. Stella backed away from Ivy and Brandon as she planned her next move. That was when she felt a small prick on her finger.

Stella looked at her finger as she saw a drop of blood fall to the floor. Then she looked at the needle, which also had her blood on it. Like a dummy, she had backed right into the spinning wheel, and pricked her finger. The last thing she heard was Ivy’s evil laugh. Then, everything went black.

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Chapter 2.9 Stella’s 18th Birthday

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“A fight. You two had a fight!” Maleficent yelled at Brandon after he came home from Stella’s house.

“How could you?!” Ivy shared in her mother’s anger. “You screwed up everything!”

“She said she wanted to find her parents.” Brandon tried his best to defend himself against his mother’s and his sister’s wrath, but it was a losing battle. “I was only trying to stop her.”

“So what if she wants to go off and find her parents?!” Maleficent continued her rampage. “Let her. She won’t make it that far anyway.”

“I need to call her and try to fix this.” Ivy said. “I just hope this doesn’t ruin our plans!”

“No, I think everything will be fine.” Maleficent was starting calm down, but she was still furious at her son’s ignorance. “We will just have to push up our plan quicker than we originally anticipated.”

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“Tell your Aunt May all about it.” May comforted Stella.

Stella needed to find a way to release some of her stress. That’s when she found May tending to her garden.

“He was so mean.” Stella managed to say in between pulling weeds. She couldn’t tell May all of the details surrounding the argument. All Stella wanted to say was, “He was acting like a total insensitive jerk hole!”

“It’s okay my Sweat Pea.” May sensed that Stella wasn’t sharing everything, but she also knew not to press the issue. Instead, May tried cheering Stella up. “You have so much to be excited about. You are about to graduate high school, and then you turn 18. And after that comes med school.”

Stella started to feel better. Tending the garden with May has always had a calming effect on Stella.   There is something therapeutic about getting your hands dirty. After calming down Stella realized that she still has a lot to be happy about. High school is almost over, and thanks to April’s tutoring, Stella got accepted into the Twinbrook Hospital Medical School. But more importantly, Stella has three aunts that took it upon themselves to take care of her and keep her safe.

“Thank you for making me feel better Aunt May.” Stella had dirty hands, but May didn’t mind the hug.

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Stella spent the last few weeks of school trying to avoid Ivy and Brandon. Luckily, it was pretty easy to do. She was swamped with studying for finals, preparing for college, and she was still trying to muster up the courage to contact her potential parents in Appaloosa Plains. She talked with Ivy over the phone a few times, but never for more than 10 minutes at a time. Then before Stella knew it, it was her birthday and the last day of high school.

She had made it the whole day without seeing Brandon or Ivy, a fact that Stella was pretty proud of. She was making her way over to the bus to take her home when she heard someone calling to her.

“Long time, no see.” Ivy shouted as she made her way to where Stella was standing.

“Yeah, life has been pretty crazy lately.” Stella said as she glanced over at her bus. So close, yet so far.

“Oh good.” Ivy said. “I thought you were avoiding me, because of what happened between you and my brother.”

“That isn’t it at all.” Stella lied, but it was only a partial lie. Her life had been very crazy, but she was also distancing herself from Ivy because she didn’t want to see Brandon.

“We need to get together before I leave for Bridgeport, because I have a good bye gift for you.” Ivy said with a smile.

“You don’t have to get me anything.” Stella felt flattered and loved. Stella began to feel guilty for ignoring Ivy, her very best friend. After all, it wasn’t Ivy’s fault that Brandon was being a jerk.

“Sure I do.” Ivy’s smile grew wider. She knew she had Stella right where she wanted her. “Let’s make plans for you to come over to my house tonight.”

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April, May, and June had a special party planned for Stella when she came home from her last day of high school. They filled the living room with tons of balloons and flowers.

“Happy Birthday/Graduation.” the three aunts cheered in unison as soon as Stella walked through the door.

“This is all too much.” Stella replied as she gazed around the room.

June was the first to give Stella a hug. “It is not everyday that our favorite niece becomes a young adult.”

“I’m your only niece.” Stella joked.

“But it is more than that.” April said as she was the second one to give Stella a warm hug. “This marks a very special day for you particularly.”

“It is not just your birthday.” May was the last to give Stella her birthday hug. “It marks the day that Fay brought you into our lives!”

“It wasn’t just thanks to Auntie Fay.” Stella responded. “You three have made me into the sim that I am today.”

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“Aunt April, you taught me that with hard work and determination I can accomplish anything. You were never too busy to help me with my homework or help me practice chess. Now thanks to you, one day I am going to be a doctor.”

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“Aunt May, you taught me to respect the world around me and to find beauty in everything. I loved the long walks we took and the talks that we shared.”

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“And Aunt June, you taught me to have the confidence to stand up for myself and for others. I enjoyed our time together.  You never forced me to be something that I’m not and you gave me the freedom and the courage to explore the world on my own”

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By the end of Stella’s speech all three aunts had tears in their eyes. It seems like it was only yesterday that Fay brought them a scared little toddler. And now that little toddler is about to become a young adult.

They cheered extra loud as Stella blew out the candles on the cake that May had baked.

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And here is Stella as a young adult (Aren’t you so proud of me for not making you wait) 

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They all ate the cake and reminisced about their favorite memories of Stella growing up.

“Remember the time in 4th grade when you took me out of school to go get pizza?” Stella asked June. “I don’t remember why, but I had so much fun sneaking out.”

June had a big smile on her face as she thought about that day. “I think that the day before you talked about some boy who was mean to you. So, I wanted to do something special.”

“Wait, what?!” April almost choked on her cake. She never knew about any of it. “You took her out of school?!”

“And remember when you tried to teach me how to cook?” Stella asked May.

“Oh yeah,” May remembered the day like was yesterday. “You almost burnt the house down!”

“I remember when you were a toddler and you wouldn’t fall asleep until I read you your bedtime story.” April recollected.

Each aunt could have shared their favorite memory of Stella growing up all night, but there was something else that needed to be said.

“We have something that we need to tell you.” April had been practicing this speech for a while now. She had rehearsed over and over what she wanted to say. “I have been talking with your parents for some time now. And we all feel that since you are a young adult…and this is your choice now. But we feel that…”

“We thought that it is now time for you to meet your parents!” June interrupted because she couldn’t hold in her excitement any longer.

“Their names are Cindy and Ryan Charming. And they live in Appaloosa Plains.” May added.

“I knew it.” Stella blurted out, but quickly recovered. “I knew they were still alive.”

“You still have some time before you start Med School, so we bought you a plane ticket to go see them. They know that you are coming, and they can’t wait to see you.”

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Meanwhile, Ivy and Brandon have their own birthday plans. But there are no cheers or walks down memory lane. There is yelling and orders being carried out.

“Is everything ready?” Maleficent demanded. She pointed her fake nails around the house making sure that their evil plan would go off without a snag.

“Everything is ready on my part.” Ivy had an evil grin on her face.

“Are you ready, Brandon?” Maleficent demanded once more.

“Let’s get this over with.” he quickly replied.

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