"Hi, Malcolm," Cassandra said. She'd been nervously waiting all morning, her stomach in knots.
"Cassandra," he said, with a smile that lit up his face to see her. He took a spot on the bench next to her and looked around. "Wow, lovely spot you found here. I spend so much time in Oasis Springs, sometimes I forget how beautiful Willow Creek can be."
"But it's not as beautiful as you," Malcolm added. Cassandra nervously smiled.
It was then he noticed she looked pale -- and she was shaking! "Is something wrong, Cassandra?" he asked, alarmed.
She blurted out, "I woohooed Chuck."
Woohooed Chuck? Malcolm froze, his brain turned to scrambled eggs. Wait, what?
She rambled on, a nervous wreck, "I'm so sorry - it was so stupid - my aspiration for soulmate -- and then you couldn't, and I needed a boyfriend--"
"I'll never do it again, I promise," she finally ended, out of breath.
"Umm..." Malcolm stammered.
Cassandra felt like she wanted to die. She was somewhere between miserable and mortified. Maybe I shouldn't have told him. Mom warned me not to, Cassandra thought. But how can innocence be bliss when it comes to secrets between soulmates?
"Say something," Cassandra demanded. "Yell at me. Tell me you never want to see me again. It's what I deserve."
Malcolm thought about it. Life without Cassandra, or life with Cassandra.
"I forgive you," he said to her. "And I'm really glad you told me the truth, Cassandra."
He rose to his feet and stood before her. "Love is blind, my head surrounded by all these hearts and kisses. All I want is you -- stupid, ridiculous, silly-choices you."
Overwhelmed, Cassandra fell into his embrace for a heart-pounding kiss.
"Do you really mean it?" she whispered. "You forgive me?"
"Yes, I do," he said, tenderly taking her hands in his. "And tomorrow, I want you to meet me at a very special place... I have something to show you."
The next day Malcolm and Cassandra met at Crick Cabana in Willow Creek. It was in the poorer parts of town, far from where Cassandra grew up.
"It's just a tree," Cassandra said.
"Not just any tree," Malcolm laughed. "Don't you see it?"
"Malcolm, stop kidding around," Cassandra giggled. "There isn't a door. It's just a tree!"
"It's a magical tree, Cassandra," he explained.
"You have to become friends with her. Then she'll open her arms and show you the door. Then we can go through together!"
"She's a magical tree?" she asked, giggling again.
"Yes, she. You have to be friends with her. Try complimenting her leaves. Or giving her a drink, like this..."
"This is silly," Cassandra said, feeling embarrassed when she noticed a Sim walking by.
"Well, you have to try. You have to believe. I'm going to go fishing. Take your time with her. Get to know her," Malcolm said. "I won't be far."
Sighing, Cassandra walked over to the Sim walking by. He was Efrain Hildebrand, an experienced gardener. If anyone knew about weird trees, it'd be him.
"Do you believe in magical trees?" she asked him.
Efrain smiled, "What'd you mean?"
"That tree. Malcolm says it's magical, that it's a she, and that I need to be friends with her before she'll reveal her door to me."
Efrain laughed, "Look, all I know is that the river over there is really polluted. I always thought it was doing something funny to the soil... Sorry, but I have to go. Good luck with your tree."
Sighing again, Cassandra faced the tree alone.
Well, here goes nothing... Feeling silly, she tried watering it like Malcolm did.
And nothing happened. She finally just tried talking... And talking... The noon day sun was hot and she sprawled on her back, gazing up through the leaves. "You do have some mighty fine leaves," she said.
She told the tree about her love for Malcolm, about them finding each other as teenagers, discovering true love and exchanging promise rings. About their blast off to space together. And she told her about Chuck. How stupid she felt making such a bad decision... Told her...
Cassandra jumped to her feet. "The door! I see the door!"
Malcolm returned from the river's edge and hugged her. "Now we go in together," he said.
Together they stepped into the magical tree and stepped out into an otherworldly glade of rare beauty.
They quietly walked across the meadow, speechless and humble. This was sacred ground.
"Right here is perfect," Malcolm said, pulling out a rose.
"A perfect rose for a perfect woman," he said.
"I love you forever," he said, tenderly embracing her.
"And I you," she whispered, her heart bursting with love.
He dropped to one knee...
Cassandra couldn't believe it. Well, she could. She had yearned for this moment, but she had never imagined it'd be like this. That it'd be so perfect!
Feeling dizzy, Cassandra watched Malcolm reaching into his pocket... Everything seemed to be in slow motion.
"Will you marry me?"
Cassandra's heart caught in her throat. She froze, staring at the ring.
Then she saw her heart, her life, rise up before her...
She gingerly held the ring, amazed by its blinding light.
She slipped on the ring. Yes, it belongs there.
"I will marry you! Oh, yes!" she exclaimed.
Malcolm sighed in peace and happiness. He'd never seen a more beautiful sight.
He wanted to hold her forever, to cherish her always.
As he held her in his arms, he said, "I have one more surprise."
"Another?" she giggled.
He smiled, "We've woohooed in a rocket, blasting off into space together..." He suddenly pulled out a huge tent and playfully wiggled his eyebrows at her, "But have you ever woohooed in a magical glade?"
In the distance, she saw them go into the tent together, hand in hand, laughing like children. As their love filled her little glade, her leaves shimmered in the light, dancing in joy.
Thanks for reading!
Read Chapter 50