He could have any (or every) girl in Sim City, but he’d chosen her.
Though, technically she’d chosen him first.
Dina was a successful representative for a door-to-door cosmetics company. They’d long since expanded their line past makeup and perfume to everything from cookie jars to dancing holiday snowmen.
That money had gone into bills, debts, paying off student loans, and maybe a few boxes of chocolate. But it had all just been a stepping stone; what she’d really needed was that hideous car.
The local matchmaker loved pink.
Not that she and Ocean weren’t actually soulmates. No two people had ever been so aspirationally compatible. He got a thrill from being the Provider, and Dina was in great need of provisions. He had what you might call a Cophetua complex, though Dina may have slightly exaggerated her economic state when they were first introduced.
It worked better than she could have ever imagined.
But the money wasn’t the only thing she loved about him. She had always had a thing for the tall, dark, and handsome type. And he wasn’t a jealous person, because who could possibly be better?
Then there was his honesty. His opinions were maybe not the most thought out, appropriate, or logical, but they were truly whatever was on his mind. Dina had trouble giving the time without coating it in sugar, so she had to admire that kind of bluntness.
But most importantly….
He had an adorable robot butler. Ocean had bought him pre-activated but with his memory wiped, so where he got his personality was a mystery. That person must have been very shy and very sweet.
“Hi—“ It took her a moment to remember the maid’s name, she was usually gone before Dina woke up. “Brigit! I didn’t hear you come in.”
“No one ever does, miss,” she said with bob of her head. “How are you this morning? I hear there was a bit of a fracas at the Goth party.”
Dina raised an eyebrow. “A bit.”
“Poor poor Mr. Tricou,” Brigit said as she made the bed. “He may have been a cad, but at least he was…human.”
That sounded too much like something out of a bad memory. “What do you mean?”
“Ooh, nothing.” She lowered her voice, pointlessly since there was no one else in the house except Servo. “It’s just more than I can say for the rest of that family.”
Dina wasn’t sure what she meant by that, or if she wanted to know. “Do you work for the Tricous too?”
“I used to. The things I saw in that house.”
“Mr. Tricou was the best of the lot. Caddish, like I said, but he left me alone when I didn’t reciprocate. You wouldn’t believe the things that went on with the ones who did though—my god, I had to clean that studio!” She pursed her lips. “Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mrs. Tricou did him in herself.”
“He died of old age, according to Mortimer Goth.”
Brigit snorted. “Oh, well then, obviously it must be true. I mean, Mortimer Goth knows everything.”
Dina followed her downstairs, but before she could think of a response she was distracted by the lifeless body of a friend. “Servo!”
“Oh, I hope you don’t mind I shut that thing off. Robots make me uncomfortable.”
“You make me uncomfortable. Did you give him a warning first or sneak up from behind with a frying pan?”
“Call me old fashioned but I don’t think those things are really necessary. I can do everything it can and there’s less chance of me running amok in a fit of wanton destruction.”
Dina took a deep breath. “That was a freak accident involving one Servo. One incident as compared to all the things humans do to each other every day! Unless you’re saying all those disappearances in Strangetown are just rogue robots around in the cover of night.”
“Does she do this to you every day, Servo?”
He looked down at his feet. “Sometimes she chases me with the garden hose first.”
Brigit shrugged, but she was clearly trying not to smile. “It’s my job to clean everything on this property.”
Servo squirmed some more and added, quietly, “One time I woke up with my head flipped around backwards and fell down the stairs. I think she lured me up there just so she could do that.”
“There is no proof that was me!”
“You were the only person in the house,” Servo said, almost too faint to hear. “And you were standing there laughing.”
“Oh what does it matter? No harm done, that thing is unkillable.”
“You’re fired, psycho.”
She gasped. “You can’t fire me, this isn’t your house. You don’t even officially live here!”
“It’s as good as mine.”
“Oh, is that how it is?” Brigit said, narrowing her eyes. “You just want to throw your weight about because you think you’re so much better than me. Well let’s face it; you’re just as much of a service Sim as I am. Though at least I’m being paid for something more respectable!”
“Wow.” Dina blinked. “Is she implying what I think she is? Will you back me up on that, Servo?”
“Miss Dina, I would back you up on anything.”
“Thank you, sweetie. You have my permission to run amok.”
That maid was a very fast runner.
Later that day, Servo gave Dina a ride over to her and Nina’s apartment on the other side of town. Usually he would have just waited in the limo, but today she invited him in.
“Oh for goodness sake, Nina. You didn’t kill anyone. You don’t need to change your whole lifestyle and become a less violent person. You just had really bad timing.”
Nina exhaled slowly, counting to ten. ”I still shouldn’t have hit him. He was just a frail old man.”
“No, he wasn’t. He was the only dancer on the floor who could keep up with you, and that’s not even taking into account what he was doing 15 minutes before that.”
“It’s kind of suspicious, isn’t it?”
For some reason, Dina suddenly felt cold. “He probably just overexerted himself.” She looked at the time. “Shouldn’t you be getting dressed, honey? Ocean’s going to meet us there; he needed some time alone this morning to reflect.”
“How much do you want to bet this ‘reflecting’ actually involves a mirror?”
"I'll just…meet you inside."
"I bought a mirror costing more than §1000!"
"That's great, honey!" She cut him off before he could say anything else, already having prepared what she was going to say. "My day wasn't so great. I had to fire Brigit. I hope that’s okay."
"The maid? I didn't want to, she just—"
"It's fine. Do you want a new one?"
"No, Servo said he could handle her work.” Dina put on her biggest smile. “But I was thinking maybe then you could give him some of her wages."
He chuckled. "You're adorable. What does a robot need money for?"
"Well, he does like to read anything he can get his hands on.” This reminded her of something hilarious. "Actually, the other day I caught him with some girlie magazines. I don't know how he got them; were they yours?"
"Darling, I don't need to look at pictures of desperate blonde bimbos when I have you." He really didn't mean that the way it sounded. “But if you so insist, l will put the robot on salary. You're that adorable."
He sighed."I've been thinking about how adorable you are all day, actually—reflecting on death, life, love and the future. I'll confess the new mirror is not my only surprise."
"—but this isn't the time, is it?"
Dina glanced at the open grave and nodded. "I can wait."
He grinned. "I’m going to go get us front row seats—even if I have to pay off the pall-bearers!"
She called after him. "Sweetie, it's a funeral, not a Broadway show!" An open-casket one at that.
"He reminds me of Earl," said a voice from behind her. "My ex-fiance. He even has the same hairstyle."
“Unfortunately, he’s not my fiancé yet. How are you doing, Olive?" Dina felt a tug on the bottom of her skirt. "And Junior! I didn't know you two were still in town."
Olive had never revealed to her what the little boy's full name actually was. She'd always had a suspicion that Olive's late husband was not the father. Doing the math, it was possible the baby had been conceived on the very day Mr. Thanasia had perished in a fire, but that still didn't explain the lack of resemblance.
"I never miss a funeral." Olive looked spectacular as always; she had even painted on sympathetic eyebrows for the occasion. "Can I give you some relationship some advice, dear? As someone who sympathizes with your ambitions?"
Dina nodded tentatively, not exactly sure what she was referring to.
"I think you're going at this the wrong way. A girl like you should be hunting for sweet old sugar-daddies, not that jackass. It'll make things a lot less…messy… in time." She paused, and suddenly her face broke out into a big smile. “Unless you're just planning to do him in. In which case, have fun."
Olive’s success in the professional party business was mostly due to her dark sense of humor. She walked away still laughing at her own joke.
Dina was surprised to see paintings of the bartender from Bella's party in Mr. Tricou's gallery; she hadn’t realized that was an ongoing affair. She was even more surprised to see her sister talking to Bella Goth about massage therapy.
“Mortimer thinks it's from heavy lifting, but of course he's a scientist not a chiropractor."
"What have you been lifting?"
"Legs of lamb—"
"Hi, Bella! I like your hat!"
"Hello." She smiled briefly and turned back to Nina. "So do you think we could set up a home appointment? I have a golf tournament next week and I don't want to be less than perfect.
"I'm sure we can work something out—" Nina’s attention was stolen by a group of women entering the gallery.
“Um, who are they?”
“I think you can guess.” Bella smirked. “Let’s just say, you really dodged a bullet, Nina.”
“And it looks like Mr. Tricou was a sharp shooter.”
Dina still hadn’t been able to figure out the names of all the Tricous, or even who was married to whom. The son-in-laws were bizarrely absent; but she recognized his grandchildren as some of her best customers, especially the boy. She couldn’t tell from looking at any of them what Brigit had meant by the “not human” comment.
She had to admit Mrs. Tricou was rather mellow for the circumstances. It was like her face was stuck on “neutral”, which hadn’t been the case the other day when she was playing the fiddle and grinning like a slasher villain.
Maybe it was just the result of too much work done; her granddaughter had more lines on her face than she did. But as she sat there stonefaced while everyone else around her wept, Brigit’s words kept floating to the front of Dina’s mind.
Until she got up and played.
That woman didn’t need to cry, she could make the world to cry for her.
It came time when the podium was opened for anyone to say a few words. Surprisingly, Ocean was the first to volunteer.
“Jon Smith, even in his old age was the liveliest man I’ve ever met. Seeing him die was like an epiphany for me. ‘This could be you, Ocean. You’ Me. Scary thought, I know, but true. I’d never realized—life is short. Too short to be wasted.”
“See that blonde in the front row? That’s my soulmate. We’ve only been together two weeks, but that’s a hell of a lot of time when every day could be your last.”
“And since every day could be my last, I don’t want to waste any time. It would be selfish of me to drop dead without giving her the happiest of day of her life.” He leapt off the stage and landed right in front of her. “Dina Caliente…”
“Will you marry me?”