The months following our return to Torea Bay seemed to be a flurry of headlines and photographs in the tabloids. Immediately following the press announcement released by my manager regarding the twins, everywhere we went paparazzi seemed to follow! Cobalt was eating up all the attention because he thought it was "awesome" but Lazuli hated it - a fact she let me know at every opportunity.
"Why did you have to drag us here?" she moaned, for the third time in the last hour. I admit, the trip had been an futile attempt to buy her off. Not necessarily the best parenting technique but I was out of ideas and tired of being told I was the worst mother on the entire planet. She may not have used those exact words but every time she slammed the door it reminded me just how much she hated me.
Not that I could blame her much - I was certainly not a candidate for Mother of the Year.
So here I was trying to entice her goodwill with clothes, shoes and manicures. "If you haven't realized - I'm not really into these things." she said, her voice icy. She barely even looked up as she continued to chip away at the thirty dollar manicure she'd just gotten.
"Do you think you could not do that?" I asked, grimacing as another bit of nail polish flew off her fingernail.
"But I hate this stuff, it's stupid and I don't wanna look stupid." she looked at my own freshly done nails pointedly.
"I like it...well I did before you went and ruined it." Cobalt said with a smile. He'd spent the whole of our manicure session happily reading the new books we'd gotten. "Cherry wears nail polish..." I suppressed a smile as he spoke about Cherry Ripple, one of the girls at school. I suspected he might have a crush on her.
"Yeah well Cherry Ripple is stupid too." Lazuli glared at her brother but Cobalt didn't notice or didn't care.
"Lazuli Dust!" I rarely raised my voice, partially because I knew it would attract the attention of people around us and partially because it didn't do much good. "You will NOT talk about people like that!" I said firmly.
She turned her glare toward me and I could see her about to say something but I held out my hand to stop. "No! I've had enough of this! We're going home..."
Unfortunately the only part of our whole day that Lazuli was interested in hadn't happened yet so she put her hands on her hips and rooted herself in defiance. "You said we'd go to the art gallery to see Autumn!" she shouted.
"Not with your attitude. I'll call Autumn later and apologize but we're going home. Now." I said, already fishing my phone out to make the call. She stomped all the way back to the car and threw herself into her seat. I could only hope we had a lot of aspirin at home because I felt a headache coming on.
Despite turning down the role in the sequel to Berry Brains, the popularity didn't wear off. Mirage had taken the role and they'd cast someone else alongside him. From what I read, filming wasn't going so well and there were at least a dozen websites dedicated to me. Most of my fans were actually happy I'd turned down the role, attributing the move to some sense of artistic integrity - honestly how could you do a sequel to a zombie movie when almost everyone dies?
While I loved the popularity and the doors it opened into other roles, it also meant I was thrust into more situations with Mirage than I cared for. Our respective managers and the film company scheduled us for the entire convention circuit in order to try and propel the sequel.
I must say we were getting really good at pretending to be civil to one another. When we were in front of fans anyway.
Like the tension between us in the movie, the fans assumed it was all part of the act and ate it up when we bantered between each other or teased each other during a panel.
Once the room had cleared, the act was over. "Why did you have to bring them here?" Mirage spat. Zuli and Cobalt had been roaming the ConvectionCon most of the day and had found their way into the Berry Brains panel, in spite of me asking them not to come.
"They're my children!" I said firmly. "I wanted to spend some of the day with them. Ya know you could do that same..." I countered, not that I really wanted him in their lives.
"Ha! Not bloody likely!" Berryhole! "You should have left them in Sugar Valley! I don't need this all coming out..."
"YOU don't need this? YOU? Ugh! I can't believe you are so..."
"So WHAT Vi?" he yelled. A few staff members had come in to clean up the room and set up the next panel but quickly backed out when they saw us arguing.
"Just go to hell Mirage." I grabbed my stuff and stalked out of the room, dodging into the nearest bathroom to calm down before heading toward the table to sign autographs. I knew Nepal and Autumn were taking care of the kids but I wanted to find them as well and hug them. I could only hope that they never knew who Mirage was.
Conventions and press junkets with Mirage aside, being in the spotlight had its perks. I was getting calls left and right for roles and auditions. While I took on a number of guest spots on series, I was leery of committing to another movie or a long role on a series with the kids. I was fully committed to being in their lives and another movie would take me away from that.
Then there were the awards shows! While Berry Brains wasn't likely to bring in any of the "serious" awards - the fan following was growing by the day and they were some vocal fans! My first award show was the Sims' Choice Awards! "How do I look?" I asked fretting in front of the mirror.
Lazuli grunted and then went back to reading her book but Cobalt smiled. "You look great Mom! Aren't you going to get ready ZuZu?"
Zuli grunted again and stomped away. She'd agreed to come to the ceremony but was making it very clear it wasn't something she intended to enjoy.
Nepal adjusted his tie again as the intercom buzzed, announcing the arrival of the limo. "Well I think you look beautiful." he said.
Thanks to Zuli, we were running a little late and ended up waiting in a line of limos for several minutes before finally stopping in front of the red carpet. "This is so cool!" Cobalt exclaimed as we stepped out onto the carpet and the flashes started going off.
"Just keep smiling..." I said, leading the charge with Cobalt's hand in mine.
An hour later we were deep in the midst of the awards and they called Rose's name. I'd been warned it was coming and stood carefully. While most of the award presentations were greeted by a flurry of clapping and cheering, the entire theater was silent. Rose's picture had been projected onto a screen on the stage as I made my way to the podium.
"Rose Chiffon was a wonderful actress and a delight to work with during Berry Brains...I know she had a great passion for the science fiction and fantasy genres especially, though she tried to keep that a secret. She told me once that she hoped they'd remake Solar Adventures so she could be in it...she would have loved the fandom that has grown for Berry Brains. On behalf of Rose, her family and all her friends - I'd like to accept this award. Rose," I looked up and closed my eyes for a moment, "We all miss you and I wish it was you here now."
I waved to the crowd as I was ushered off the stage with Rose's award in my hand.
It took me about twenty minutes to make my way through the press and get back to my seat between Nepal and Cobalt. "It's almost your category Mom!" Cobalt was practically bouncing in his seat and straining his neck to look around the theater for celebrities.
As cliche as it sounds, I was honestly honored to be nominated and was not expecting to walk away with my own award. I clapped enthusiastically for all the others in my category and waited through the recorded drum roll for the announcement. "And the Sims' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress goes to....Violet Dust for Berry Brains!" My expression was probably classic shock for a second before I remembered every camera in the place had certainly just turned toward me. I was less graceful this time as I made my way onto the stage amid clapping and cheers.
"I feel like I was just here." I said with a laugh. "Well I'd like to thank everyone I'm supposed to thank so I don't get angry emails and calls in the morning but I'm certain I'll forget someone. Thank you to the company, thank you Rose..." I looked up again and held the award up a moment. "Most of all I'd like to thank all my family," I looked over at Nepal, Zuli and Cobalt and I could feel myself tearing up a bit. "Those three berries and my parents and siblings have been a great source of strength. Thank you Zuli, thank you Cobalt, thank you Nepal. And thank you to all of our incredible fans - without all of you this...this wouldn't have been possible." I blew a kiss toward the audience and the cameras just as the music started to play me off the stage.
In time, the paparazzi of Torea Bay became too much and I started looking for an opportunity to move. I hated to move the children again so soon after moving them from Sugar Valley but even Cobalt had grown weary of being stalked by paparazzi on his way to school.
Thankfully the opportunity presented itself in the form of a television series that would be filmed in Caramel Canyon. Lazuli even seemed interested in the prospect - she'd never really felt happy in Torea Bay but I figured that was mostly my fault.
I went alone for the filming of the pilot and a few weeks later they called to tell me it was a go. Even if the series didn't work out, I hoped not to have to move the kids from Caramel Canyon. They deserved to have a solid place to call home. Which is why I was prompted to look for a house to buy in the community.
"It's...big." Zuli said, trying to sound disinterested. I thought I detected a small upturn of the corners of her mouth but couldn't be sure. She hurried off to claim her room before I could ask her any questions.
Cobalt was right behind her but he didn't seem to be looking for his room. He was exploring every corner of the house and would occasionally exclaim if he found a new piece of furniture or something else unexpected. The whole place pretty much had to be furnished from scratch since we hadn't ever really settled in Torea Bay so there were a lot of exclamations heard from Cobalt.
"Hey, we have computers!" he exclaimed from somewhere upstairs.
"Get out of my room!" Zuli screeched back in response - followed by the slamming of a door.
"That one sounds different than the one in the apartment" I noted to Nepal with a smirk.
"A bit deeper, louder. Probably a heavier wood." he replied. "Why don't you go relax for a bit?"
"Relax?" I asked. "What is this thing you speak of?"
"I could think of a few ways..." his face lit with a playful grin. "But why don't you start with a bath?"
As I sank back into the hot water I thought back on how Nepal and I had rekindled our relationship with a smile. He'd put in for a transfer to Torea Bay just weeks after we'd moved and he was always around to listen as I moaned about Zuli's behavior. He tried to give me suggestions but mostly he was a pillar of strength so that I didn't go completely crazy.
Despite the kiss in the hall of that hotel, we didn't instantly start dating again. In fact I'm not really sure when we progressed from friends to a couple - it had happened so subtly the paparazzi and tabloids didn't even seem to notice for a long time.
But when I'd told him about the opportunity here in Caramel Canyon he'd put in for another transfer and started looking for his own place. "Why don't you move in with us? I know the kids would love to have you around all the time...and I..."
"You what?" Nepal had teased.
"Well I'd love it..." And it was settled. He gave up the search for an apartment and we told the kids that he'd be moving in. There were a few awkward questions about where he'd sleep at first but mostly there was joy and happiness.
"You're going to turn into a prune..." Nepal's voice jarred me back to the present day and I shivered in the chilly water. Hadn't it JUST be near scalding?
"Did I fall asleep?" I asked as I wrapped a towel around myself.
"Mmhmm, for about two hours actually. If you didn't have such a cute little snore I would have woken you sooner." Nepal said.
"I do not snore!" I protested with a laugh.
"Oh but you do, it's one of the many things I love about you." Nepal chuckled. "In fact...since we're on the subject..."
"What subject?" I asked confused. What more could be said about snoring.
"The subject of Love." he got down on his knee and before I realized what was happening he was holding out a black velvet box. "This seems like it was a long time coming and perhaps we've gone a bit out of order but, Vi, I have loved you since the first time I saw you floundering awkwardly on that stage back in high school and I'd very much like to take you back for the next reunion as my wife instead of as the one that got away..."
"Will you marry me?"
"Really? You're proposing to me in the bathroom?" I said with a cheesy grin.
Nepal shrugged, "Well you were here and semi-naked. What can I say, I was overcome." he grinned back. "This ring is exceptionally heavy and this floor is very hard - do you think you might give me an answer?"
"Eh, yeah I suppose I could do that."
"Give me an answer or marry me?" he asked.
"Both." I smiled fondly at him as he slid the ring from the box.
"Most excellent." he said, slipping the ring on my finger. It fit perfectly.
Given how long it had taken us to get to this point, we planned for a short engagement but there was still the matter of the kids. While I was sure they'd be happy, I wanted to include them in big decisions to some degree.
Before starting any planning, however small the ceremony would be, we took the kids to the park that weekend. Nepal nudged me toward Zuli while he and Cobalt planned to play some catch. Zuli was less than thrilled.
"Zuli..." I started. She ignored me and kicked off the ground, dropping my end of the see saw to the ground. "Zuli."
"The whole point of see-saw is to go up and down, surely you know that Violet." she said.
I cringed every time she called me Violet instead of Mom but said nothing. "Zuli, Nepal and I have decided to get married." I said as I pushed off the ground. "Do you have any thing you want to say?"
Zuli looked stunned for a moment. "Whatever." she said finally and went back to ignoring me.
As soon as the see-saw was on the ground on her end, she jumped off of it. "I'm going to go swing."
Without someone on the other end, I dropped like a rock again and then groaned. "This has gone well..." I stood and joined the others on the swings. Nepal got up and offered me his saying he'd promised Cobalt and Zuli a push.
I sank into the swing and barely pushed at the ground with my feet for a few moments as Zuli and Cobalt swung higher. After a brief sulk, I pushed harder with my feet.
With that less than stellar event out of the way, Nepal and I made our plans in secret. While there were far fewer reporters and photographers in Caramel Canyon, they were around and word had gotten out about the move. I wanted to be good and married before they tracked me down honestly.
"I hired the Justice of the Peace..."
"And I reserved the gazebo at the park..."
"My dad can't make it...or won't..." Nepal looked a little sad about it but let it go quickly.
"Minsk said he'd come but the others can't get away on such short notice." I said. It was true that we'd put everything together very quickly and couldn't really expect family to make the trip with nearly no warning.
The day of the wedding it rained all morning and I was sure we'd be rained out and started to panic. The gazebo was covered of course but sopping wet was not the wedding look I was looking for. Thankfully just thirty minutes before the ceremony, the sun pushed through the clouds and it looked almost as if it hadn't rained in days.
"You, of all people, have seen how my best intentions made a mess of things and yet you've stayed with me. There are times - nearly everyday - where I wonder what I've done to deserve the loyalty and love you've given me Nepal. But I am grateful and I hope I can do enough to earn what you so freely give to me. You are my savior and my knight in shining armor and always have been, I love you so much for accepting me and all my insanity..." I grinned. "I promise to be crazy in love with you forevermore if you'll have me."
"I will." he said with a laugh.
"Faults though you have, you have always been the one for me Violet. Whether you were physically with me or not, I always felt you around me - lingering in my thoughts. More than one co-worker probably thought I'd gone crazy..." he laughed. "I will love you always and promise to keep my armor shiny any time you need it." he added with a wink.
After a few quick questions, the justice nodded and said, "You may kiss the bride"
Minsk agreed to entertain the kids for the night so that Nepal and I could at least have the house to ourselves. "I know you're not taking a vacation with the filming starting so soon but you're newlyweds!" he said.
"Thank you Minsk, for this and for just coming. I know it was short notice!" I said hugging my twin.
"We're twins Vi, of course I'd be here." Minsk said. "It's about time really! I thought you'd never get around to it." he teased.
Nepal scooped me into his arms and would have stolen me away right then if Autumn hadn't stepped in and insisted on taking some pictures. "Autumn...." he groaned as she nudged him into place.
"Your wife hired me to take the wedding pictures - thank you by the way! Exclusive pictures of Violet Dust's wedding?! Priceless! So get in place so I can do my job already!"
Even I was getting fidgety to leave by the time she released us and said she was done. We said our goodbyes quickly before stealing off to the house.
When the pictures were released - nearly two months after the event and with our permission - the fan mail seemed to triple. I'd been on the set of the new show for a month and word was out about it as well which brought in even more mail. I couldn't possibly respond to every piece personally but my manager sent me a random sample every week and asked me to reply to them.
It was during one of these session that I felt the first waves of nausea. I tried to tell myself it was a stomach bug or something I'd eaten but one bit of nausea turned into dozens. I couldn't seem to keep anything down at all!
"Violet, have you considered the obvious?" Nepal asked gently.
"The obvious...." I held up a finger and covered my mouth quickly.
"What obvious?" I asked once it passed.
"Well, we've been married a few months now and...well we aren't exactly be safe..." he raised his eyebrows.
"Oh Berry no!" I gasped.
"Would it be so bad?" Nepal asked with a frown.
"Well no...except...we all know how well I did the whole mothering thing last time." I pointed out.
He tried, in vain, to convince me it would be different this time being that I was older now and the situation was completely different but I just hoped he was wrong.
He wasn't of course. The doctor confirmed his suspicions two weeks later.
Nepal, at least was stoked. He adored Zuli and Cobalt and considered them his own but it would be hard to ask him not to want his own child at some point. "I bet it's a girl..." he said reaching out for my belly.
I still wasn't ready and pulled back but he started tickling me until I started laughing.
"It'll be different this time Vi, I promise it well be." he said when I finally stopped laughing.
He was right, he was always right it seemed! Once the nausea passed and I was into my second trimester the depression I'd been feeling disappeared and I actually felt somewhat happy about the pregnancy. It would be different this time, there would be no depression afterward right? No desire to run away...or worse...like last time?
"Hello little berry!" Nepal said in a goofy voice. "Your momma is actually smiling as she talks about making up your nursery - isn't that berry wonderful?"
"Nepal!" I laughed and the baby kicked hard and started doing rolls in my stomach.
Not surprisingly, Cobalt was happy about the baby and Zuli - well Zuli was not. I'd just about accepted the fact that nothing I did was ever going to be good enough for her. "Zuli..." I started one night when she unceremoniously came in and turned on the TV in Nepal and I's room. We had two other televisions in the house so why she came in to watch ours was beyond me. I sat down next to her and waited to see if she was acknowledge I had spoken.
"Zuli. When someone speaks to you, it's rude to ignore them." I pointed out. Still she said nothing and I rolled my eyes. "I've had enough of this Zuli. I get that you think I'm essentially worthless as a mother and that I've completely ruined your life as a whole - I get it. The message has certainly been delivered. You can drop the attitude now."
She didn't say anything but did at least look at me. Not that is was a look of love and sunshine or anything.
"Why are you having another baby?" she asked suddenly. I searched her face for malice or anger but she looked confused, and maybe a little hurt.
"Well, Nepal and I are married and love each other - babies sometimes come from that." I said.
"But you didn't marry our father....you didn't love him?" she asked.
"Um...no, no I didn't." I said, looking down at my hands awkwardly.
"You didn't want us right?" she must have seen the hurt because she seemed to be considering how to rephrase. "I mean, you didn't plan to have babies..." she trailed off and sighed. "You didn't want us."
"Oh Zuli, I...I didn't - you're right. At the time I didn't want to have kids, I didn't think I'd ever want to have kids." She was frowning and looking away from me. "But I'm glad I did." I said quickly. "It's taken me a long time and a lot of stupid mistakes to get to this point but I'm glad you and Cobalt are in my life."
I'm not sure she believed me though as she got up and walked toward the door. She turned at the door frame and looked back at me. "Then why are you replacing us with a new baby?" Before I could answer she was gone.
Things with Zuli didn't really improve. Nepal and I both assured her constantly that we weren't trying to replace her and that I could love them all equally. She would nod and then sulk away and hide in her room until bedtime. She did all her homework though and generally stayed out of trouble - which Nepal told me was actually rather unlike her behavior in Sugar Valley. She'd been particularly fond of pranks apparently.
I didn't have much time to think about it though as the baby sapped what little energy I had during the last trimester. After the surprise with the twins I'd paid extra to have them check multiple times for more than one baby but they continued to assure me there was just the one. Still, a full month early I went into labor while Nepal was at work and the twins were at school. I fumbled around for my phone and knocked it to the floor before I finally managed to call a cab and Nepal. As much as he wanted to drive home to bring me in, I insisted he meet me at the hospital.
Turned out to be the best decision ever. As soon as he saw me, he started freaking out.
Labor was quick - alarmingly so - and thankfully only involved one baby. A cute little girl who we named Sapphire. Since she was a little bit on the early side, the doctor insisted we stay an extra couple days just to make sure she was one hundred percent healthy.
Unfortunately, it just so happened that Sapphire's birth coincided with the twins' birthday (a day apart). It was hard to believe that when I went home from the hospital I'd be a mom to two teenagers (13!) and a newborn!
Outtakes (there are a lot this time lol)