Welcome back to another chapter of Random Branches! In the last chapter Obi found out that Mindy had been cheating on him for years and had made up his mind to divorce Mindy. Mindy appeared to not be willing to go down without a fight. And now on with the story.
Max and Leia were at their wits end. They were running out of excuses to use to get the kids out of the house. Mindy kept trying to argue during hours that the kids were likely to be home. She was not going to let the divorce be an easy one. It was after one such outing that Leia saw that Obi wasn’t where he usually was. He was usually on the couch upstairs ready to greet Minerva and Albus when they returned. But he wasn’t there. And she didn’t hear the sounds of arguing.
“Alright, Minerva and Hermione. Bed time. Minerva, I’ll send your dad down once I find him and talk with him, ok?” Leia said.
The girls nodded and headed downstairs.
Leia looked around and as she walked through the upstairs living area she spotted Obi out by the graves. She made a mental note to call Kelsey once she was done talking with Obi, she had been one to initiate a divorce maybe she would have some words of wisdom for Obi. She stepped outside and went to talk with Obi.
Meanwhile, Max stepped downstairs to say goodnight to Hermione and Minerva. As he approached their door he heard Minerva say, “Dad doesn’t love me anymore either. That’s why Mom and Dad are sad all the time now. Because I’ve done something wrong.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong, Minnie,” Max heard Hermione say, “If you had been being bad, would my mom and dad take you with us to get ice cream and see movies and the arcade? Those things sound like things for only good kids. Not bad kids.”
Max smiled. While the reasoning wasn’t right, the fact that Minerva wasn’t the cause was true. “Hermione is right. You didn’t do anything wrong,” Max said, stepping into the room, “Your parents love you very much.”
“So why are they sad all the time?” Minerva asked.
Max saw that even Hermione perked up at that question. “That’s a question for your parents to answer when they feel the time is right to tell you. But I can tell you that it is not your fault or your brother’s fault.”
“Dad,” Hermione said.
“Will this happen between you and Mom?”
Max looked at his daughter and said, “I can’t tell you a definite answer, but at this time I do not think so.”
“We’re back, Obi,” Leia said, approaching her brother.
“Oh. Sorry, lost track of time. Just needed to talk to Grandpa.”
“Well, you’ve got a daughter who would love you to go tuck her in.”
Obi laughed a bit and headed in.
Leia picked up her phone and called Kelsey. “Hey, I hope it’s not too late.”
‘Nope. What’s on your mind? We weren’t close when I was still married to your brother.”
“I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind having a talk with my brother Obi. He discovered his wife’s been cheating on him and has decided to divorce her. He’s all torn up about it.”
“So he still loves her but knows that the situation isn’t likely to change no matter what he says or does?”
“Yep and he’s depressed.”
“Ah. So you want to get to him before it gets too bad.”
“Yea, I don’t need him going down the same path my mom did. And unlike Wolfgang, Obi’s wife is not being agreeable about the divorce.”
“Damn. I’ll clear my schedule and drive out to your place in the morning. I should be there by mid afternoon.”
And mid afternoon was soon there and within an hour or so, Kelsey and Obi were in Atton’s old bedroom discussing divorce.
“Why does it have to be so hard?” Obi asked.
“Be a little more specific,” Kelsey prodded.
“I love Mindy. But I can’t get her cheating out of my mind. And she loves her job more than she loves her family. I just… I just… I don’t know.”
“Will she ever change? Do you think she’s capable of loving her family more than her job. And don’t think about it, just answer the question.”
“No. I don’t think she’s capable. My daughter thought Leia was her mother. That’s how much more she loves her job. I don’t hold a false hope that she’ll ever change enough.”
“And as long as your married to her, you won’t be able to find someone who would be able to love them more than their job. And I bet it causes arguments. I didn’t divorce Wolfgang because I no longer loved him. I still love him. I just came to realize that he wasn’t going to hang up his spy hat on someone else’s command. He would have to do it on his own accord. And I didn’t want the adjustment should Wolfgang die be too difficult for my kids.”
“But how do I explain it to my kids?”
“I don’t know. That’s for you to decide. But when my boys first asked they were five or six years old. I told them that while we still loved each other we had different priorities and decided that not being together was best. They got more details as they got older.”
The two continued to talk for while before Kelsey had given all of the advice she knew of to him. And gave him the number to a divorce counselor. “A friend of mine suggested her when I got divorced from Wolfgang in case he made it difficult. She’s fair. She’s an arbitrator. So you don’t have to go in front of a judge. Or have yelling matches between a pair of lawyers. Might be someone to contact to help. Get the arguing out of the house as well.”
And so Obi gave the arbitrator Kelsey recommended a call. And in a week or two, Obi, Mindy, and the arbitrator Lianne Parks were together in Park’s arbitration office in Sim City.
The first few days went slowly with very little progress made. Mindy kept arguing against everything that was suggested.
“I should get the kids!” Mindy yelled on the third day, “Studies have shown that kids of divorced parents have a higher chance of being successful and well adjusted if they live with their mother.”
“Mindy, our eldest thought her aunt was her mother because you’re never home. Are you going to tell me that you’ll have 9-5 hours if you get custody?” Obi asked.
“I’ll hire an au pair for the kids. They’ll be fine. And with their mother.”
“You do realize that most of our money comes from my reward and my grandfather’s reward as part of taking Darius Myst down and from Max and Leia’s careers right? You won’t have access to that as a single mother.”
“Well, I’ll get the house…”
“Mindy, I thought we agreed at the beginning of this to not make outlandish claims,” Parks said, “Documents here show that your name isn’t on the deed to the house. Maximus Zenteri, Leia Rand, and Obi Wan Rand are on the deed. You have no legal claim to the house and considering the notes I’ve taken, I doubt Mr. Zenteri and Ms. Rand will be inclined to move since they have kids that live at the house.”
He raised his hand before either could continue, “Obi, you said your eldest thought your aunt was her mother? How did you learn this?”
“From my sister. I overheard a question my daughter asked my aunt. Afterward Leia explained what brought about the question. Apparently, Minerva wanted to know how her parents got together. Since she found who she thought was her mother first she asked my sister how we met and fell in love.”
“What was the question you overheard?”
“So my mommy doesn’t love me,” Obi said.
“He’s lying!” Mindy said, “Of course I love my child!”
“Mindy, I know that. But children see things differently. Trust me. I asked the same question when I was a kid when my mother was late to my teenage birthday,” Obi said.
“Obi, how do you plan on changing your schedule to fit being a single parent?” Parks asked.
“Considering my wife’s long hours, I won’t have to make many changes. I already work on my own hours since I’m an independent private investigator. The biggest change will be fewer hours worked on the weekend. I don’t want to burden my sister and her boyfriend with my kids too much.”
“Mindy, how do you plan on changing your schedule to fit being a single parent?” Parks asked.
“Change my schedule? I’ll just use day care services and baby sitters. And I’ll send the kids to boarding school when they’re old enough.” Mindy said.
“How do you plan on affording those on top of other bills? House, food, health, etc.” Parks asked.
“The extra hours at work will cover it.”
“So you have a job where you’re paid by the hour?”
“No, but the extra hours get me promotions faster and promotions mean more money.”
“I see. Based on what I’ve heard and the income documents you both have provided me, while Obi’s income is the most flexible given the nature of his job. The fact that he is willing to change his life around the fact that he has kids and the testimony given by both of you leads me to believe that Obi already has to parent as if he was a single father. Therefore, I give custody of the kids to Obi Wan Rand.”
“What?! But the studies…”
“Mindy. My decision is final. And you were planning on sending the kids to boarding school. Which is not with their mother. So you can not use that study as evidence as to why you should get custody of the kids,” Parks interrupted, “Now let’s talk visitation.”
“She’s welcome to come visit the kids whenever she likes. She can also take them places without supervision. She’s not a danger to the kids,” Obi said.
“Please, Obi. Let me have custody of the kids! I don’t want to live away from them.”
“Should have thought about that before you cheated on me, Mindy. I’m sorry. We’re getting divorced and I’ve been awarded custody and I believe that that is what is best for the children.”
The rest of the divorce arbitration went much the same way. Mindy winning some, Obi winning some. Afterward the pair headed home sadly.
“I thought you would be happy, Obi. You won most of it,” Mindy said bitterly as they got to the driveway.
“Mindy. We just finalized our divorce. What is there to be happy about? Yes, I got custody of the kids along with other things, but you are their mother. I shouldn’t have had to win full custody. I loved you and I’m mourning our love. Now I’m not going to kick you out right away, I’m not my grandfather, but I’m not wanting to live with you anymore. I can’t move on and get over your betrayal with you in the house. Take some time off of work to find an apartment. If I don’t have a list of possible places in one week, I’ll find you an apartment.”
“Yea, my mother was an elder by the time my parents finalized their divorce. And my father was one of a kind. He would never have kicked her out. And she would have been gone within a week if she made things difficult due to my grandparents. You’ll make things difficult. You proved that during the divorce. Maybe if you hadn’t tried to argue everything or ask for unreasonable things, you would be allowed to live here, but you did. So you’re moving out.”
And within a week, Mindy had found an apartment and moved into it.
And life slowly returned to normal. Or well as normal as could be. Obi attempted to get past the divorce. He still read bedtime stories to Minerva. He played with Albus.
But he had been teetering on depression before the divorce and the divorce, while best for everyone, hurt and hurt badly. It was the straw that pushed Obi over the edge and into depression. And he, like his own parents did when they got depressed, turned to alcohol. And like his mother, he went to the bar to drink. At first he started off just being gone an hour. Then it turned into two hours.
When it got to three hours, Leia got worried. Really worried. Worried enough to call in back up because nothing she said or did seemed to be helping.
And soon after that, Wolfgang Avilla-Rand showed up at the house. Max greeted him, “Hey, Wolfgang.”
“Hey, Max. Loved the season finale. One more season huh?”
“Thanks and yea. Leia and I want to end the show on a good note. And Leia’s ready to be done acting. Though she did say she wouldn’t say no to the rare reprisal of the role for the occasional movie. Come on in, I take it you’re here to see Obi.”
“Don’t blame you on that end and yea, here to see my baby brother.”
“I think he’s out back, moping.”
Obi was indeed in the backyard. He was sitting on one of the chairs by the pool. Wolfgang sat down next to him and said, “Hey.”
“I don’t need an intervention,” Obi said.
“Leia says your drinking is getting worse. If you’re not careful, you’re going to turn into Mom. And what kind of relationship did you have with Mom?”
“A bad one.”
“Your kids are young enough that they could end up with the same type of relationship that you have with our mother with you. And if your ex who desperately wants custody of her kids gets wind that you’re a drunk what do you think is going to happen? I’m not saying that you’re at that point, but you need the warning before it gets that bad.”
Obi bent over and cried, knowing what Wolfgang said was true. “What helped you?”
“I kept busy. I haven’t told anyone since, but Zachariah had me maintaining the books for Revan. They were in shambles due to the previous guy not knowing shit about finances. Zachariah knew I was honest and told me to get the books in order. Between that and nailing Darius, I was kept too busy to mope. And there was no alcohol at the base and I had no means of getting any. Though, Zachariah did bring me a bottle of wine the day the papers were signed and we got drunk together that night. Revan was absolutely pissed. We were supposed to be working on lining up the strategy against Darius. Zachariah said I deserved one night of just being drunk and not having any responsibilities. And that I shouldn’t do it alone. It was when we both realized we had become best friends. Not to mention, Revan had a no drinking on base rule. Zachariah was doing grunt work for a week and I was left alone. Though Zachariah still managed to keep me busy.”
“So if I go back to work, things might improve?” Obi said.
“Yep, if you start taking cases again, you’ll likely be too busy to dwell on the past. Now come on, let’s find a sports bar.”
“So this is my last day to drink and wallow?”
“Yep. And I’m calling us a cab. I’m also calling it my last day to wallow”
“Why? There are cars here. And what are you wallowing about?”
“We can’t drink here due to the kids and I don’t know about you, I don’t want to have to go fetch my car tomorrow since we’re both likely to be too drunk to drive when we’re done. And you must have been too drunk to register it and I’m a bit hurt at that. Eva was murdered a year ago. Our cousin Eva.”
“Shit, Wolfgang,” Obi said, “I… I didn’t think I was that bad to have missed the news of my own cousin’s murder. I’m sorry, I really am. Who did it?”
“Sims United Alliance. They’re highly anti-occult. They’re also the ones responsible for beating Eva up a few years ago and for kidnapping Miranda in a ploy to keep Eva from testifying.”
And Wolfgang’s advice work. Even if that night’s activities pissed Leia off. Though, once she saw Obi improve, she figured it was a last hurrah for Obi to dwell.
And soon several birthdays came and went and the girls were teenagers and the boys were kids.
And Minerva worried Obi. Of his kids, she had been the most affected by the divorce. Albus had been too young and had never really known his mother anyway. Minerva had. And she appeared to have the same commitment issues that Mission had as a young adult. And a rebellious streak if her clothes were any indication.
Hermione learned to drive from her father and was soon taking her brother and cousin out places. Their favorite place was a karaoke bar that didn’t mind them coming in with their sister’s supervision during the early afternoon before the worst of the drunks came in.
They even spent some time with their cousin Cristina McDaniels from time to time.
And that’s it for this chapter! What is in store for the Rands? Find out in chapters to come!
Progress towards Obi’s Goals:
- Become Private Investigator – Achieved Chapter 2.19
- Complete 30 cases – Completed about 15 cases
- Snoop 10 locations
- Write 5 papers on findings
- Reach level ten of Private Investigator Career – He’s at level 7
- Go through 5 garbages and 5 mailboxes – Gone through 3 of each
Progress towards Leia’s Goals:
- Master Painting Skill – She’s at level 9
- Master Writing Skill – She’s at level 10 – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Paint 20 paintings – Painted 14 paintings
- Be friends with parents – Completed Chapter 3.7 behind the scenes.
- Get 5,000 in royalties (or sell 15,000 from paintings) – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.13 at $6,828
- Paint family pictures (spouse, kids, parents if alive)
- Join book club (if applicable) – Joined book club Chapter 3.10 behind the scenes
Progress towards Max’s goals:
- Join Film career (Plumbob Pictures Backlot, may need to place it) – Achieved behind the scenes Chapter 3.1
- Max writing
- Max charisma – Level 10 – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Become level 5 celebrity – 5 stars – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.13
- Have kid – Achieved Chapter 3.10 with the birth of Hermione
- Reach Level 10 of the Actor branch – Level 10 – Superstar Actor – Completed Chapter 3.13 behind the scenes
Progress toward’s LTW’s
- Obi Wan – Perfect Mind, Perfect Body: Level 10 Logic, Level 10 Athletic – Logic is at 7, Athletic is at 10
- Leia – Professional Author: Earn $4000 a week in royalties – currently earning $4000+ a week – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Maximus – Superstar Actor – Superstar Actor – Level 10 – Completed Chapter 3.13 behind the scenes