“I’ve got some great news,” Erik said. “I’m engaged. Yeah, her name is Zoe. Zoe Patel. Yeah, I know you’ve heard it all before, but this time it’s different. No, I know. You’ve heard that one before, too. But I mean it. I took your advice and took my time to get to know her. Yeah, I told her about my circumstance. Well, most of it. She knows I’m broke and starting all over. No, I didn’t tell her about my previous career. Okay, okay, I know. I hear you. I’ll figure out some way to tell her. No, I will. I promise, this time I’m not going to screw things up. She’s just too special and I love her too much. Okay, you’re right, I know. Tell Mom the good news and I’ll get in touch again, soon. Love you, Dad. And thank you for everything.”
Erik paced for a bit. He knew his father was correct. The last thing he needed was for Zoe to learn who he was, from some other source. Especially after his very close call at work, when one of those Big Wigs from the Recording Industry gave him a funny look. For a moment, he thought the Record Producer had recognized him and was about to call out his name. Certainly, Erik recognized the executive. He may even have worked with the Sim in the past.
Erik knew, too, he would lose Zoe due to a lie. That’s certainly not what he wanted. But just how to tell her? And how would she react? Would she understand all his reasons for not disclosing this up front, why he had a need to remain incognito? He certainly hoped so. So, as he waited for her phone call, he pondered just what he should do, how he should spring it on her. Then a most intriguing idea, a crazy, wild idea struck him as surely as lightning. He would simply feed her a trail of clues, like bread crumbs and let her figure it out on his own. For starters, he would greet her without his glasses on, perhaps with a bit of five o’clock shadow, wishing now he hadn’t shaved this morning. Then, he would take out his guitar and sing a few stanzas of his signature song. If all else failed, he would sit with her at their little camp fire and let her know he needed to share with her a deep, dark secret …
At last it was time to meet her at her place, so he could help her with her things. Zoe looked beautiful, as always, and greeted him cheerfully. She also wanted to save this moment, and so, whipping out her cell phone, they took a ‘Selfie’ together.
By the time they arrived back at his place, the sun was waning in the sky. Erik realized, it was time to fully disclose to her about who he was, what he’d been doing with his life, and just what prompted him to pull the biggest disappearance act, this side of ‘Valcress the Vanquisher, possibly the most famous of all Sim Magicians. At least in Sunset Valley. Silently, Erik leaned over and lit the fire in the little rock fire ring. Happily, this time he didn’t burn himself in the process, despite having removed his wire rims. Then he beckoned for Zoe to take a seat upon the small stump of a stool.
“Erik, you’re being so mysterious. I have to confess you have me a little nervous. What is it you’ve got up those sly sleeves of yours?” she said, settling upon the stump. Quietly, he took up his guitar and began to play. And when he leant his voice to the music, “Maybe it’s better this way, anyhow, after all those nights alone —”
Zoe took on a curious expression. “Oh, my goodness, that’s my favorite song — but I didn’t realize you could play and sing it so well. You sound almost like the original artist. Hauntingly so. Setting his instrument aside, Erik sat on the little stump opposite hers.
Zoe felt herself growing apprehensive. She began to nervously twist that huge rock of an engagement ring on her finger. Was he about to break it off with her, like he had those others? Or, was this the ring he’d used for one, or both of them and now for her? She wondered how he’d managed to afford something this huge. She had come to love him so much. He was so sweet, funny and charming. In his own slightly quirky way. Secretly, as she watched his face, his gorgeous hooded blue eyes, she wondered if, like the faerie tale Frog Prince, he’d transformed back into the jerk she decided he was in the beginning. She also found herself wondering, if he was the one calling things off, did that obligate her to return the ring? All of these thoughts and more did a Tango inside her head, until she suddenly caught the expression on his handsome face. Was he teasing her, again? Then she heard him speaking, “That’s because it’s me. I’m the original writer and performer of that song.”
“Hey, wait — What?” She frowned at him. “No way.”
“Way,” he said, leaning closer to her. “Are you trying to tell me I didn’t even look a little familiar to you? When we were at your place listening to the new album by the Bad Fellows, I noticed you had a nice collection of my albums, too.”
“Of course you do look like him,” she said, “I mean you. You look like you. But I just thought …”
“That and the fact that I have the same name, didn’t clue you in at all?”
“Lots of people out there have the same name. There’s that fellow, a comedian, who has the same name as a Simgressman. And the baseball player who shares a name with that magician. I just figured you were one of many possible Sims by the name of Erik Cantrell.”
Erik slipped his wire rim glasses back on his face, and then looked over them at her. “I didn’t really think my disguise would work so well. I just needed to get back to myself. Get back to square one and become a Sim again. I wanted a family. A woman who would love me for me, and not my famous self. I hope you can forgive me for deceiving you. You’re the last person I want to hurt.”
Zoe jumped up. “Oh, Erik,” she said, flinging her arms about his neck. Erik frowned and took half a step back from her, hanging onto her, even so. “I’m so relieved.”
“You mean you don’t mind I used to be a Rock Star?”
“Oh, that,” she swatted at the air, as if at a gnat. “I could be and should be peeved at you for withholding it, but I’m more relieved. I thought your deep dark secret was going to be that my ring was previously owned by either or both of your ex-fiancees. Now, that would certainly be a problem. Or worse, that you were breaking it off with me. That fact that you were once a Rock Star, not so much. In fact, I thought you looked vaguely familiar when we first met. It was your eyes, but for the life of me, I just couldn’t place you or where we had possibly met.”
“Come here,” Erik said, and hugged her tight. “I feel as if Mount Simverest just rolled off of my shoulders. Not that I had any doubts, but now I know I’ve found the One.”
Weary, from all of the emotion spent, the two crawled into Erik’s tent. They made woohoo for the very first time. Erik slept like a rock, for the first time since he’d left his other life.
The next morning dawned. Bright light bathed his private glade. He took little time to get to work, gathering up the fruits, vegetables, flowers and anything else he could find. Occasionally, he would dig for buried treasure. Once in awhile he got lucky. He did find an old map. A few crystals, some metal and occasionally a fossil or two. He was anxious to save enough Simoleons to give this wonderful woman, the wedding she so richly deserved.
He worked on his music, too, and landed a second promotion. This one came with a timely bonus, too. Of course, Murphy was still on his tail, inasmuch as the moment they had collectively saved close to their goal amount, the mail came, demanding nearly half of what they had. Erik decided the wedding would take place. He’d pay the bills once they were duly married, with the deposits on the rental furnishings. He did have to make yet another round, collecting stuff, but in the end he got the bills paid.
The evening of the wedding came upon them. Everything was in place. The cake baked, decorated, complete with topper, on display on its own table dressed with a tablecloth. The guests slowly filed in. After greeting them and chit-chatting for a few minutes, Erik and Zoe went to the decorated wedding arch and said their vows and exchanged rings.
The guests were attentive, the classical music filled the night air. There was much merry-making, drinking and dancing. After a very short time, Zoe went to cut their cake. She brought a piece back with her to share with her new husband. They were both enjoying this little tidbit, when Zoe got a look on her face.
Erik knew her well enough, by now, to realize her playful side had just been unleashed. Before he knew it, the larger portion of cake, she held behind her, splattered all over his face! He laughed and so did she. He couldn’t remember a time when he felt this deliriously happy.