Ada was such a bright and cheerful, if non-sequitur girl that everyone immediately noticed her moping around the house. Maybe Charles was particularly aware of it because he was doing the same thing. The Sample house got gloomier by the day.
Finally, Charles had had enough. “What we need is a vacation,” he announced.
Ada perked up. “I want to paint France,” she announced. So Charles bought the tickets, and off they went.
Ada made short work of setting up her easel, and passersby stopped to watch her unusual creative style.
Charles left her to her passion and took a while to explore the quaint town. And met the kind of reception he was accustomed to seeing everywhere.
It was really getting old.
“Hello! Wow, you’re really something special! Where are you visiting from?”
Charles looked up from an awkward exchange with the Special Merchant to meet a pair of shining, curious eyes.
“Hello! I’m Berthe Girard. You must be a tourist because I know I would have remembered seeing someone like you.” She reached out her hand for his without hesitation.
Charles took it. “Charles Sample. I’m here for the week from Sunset Valley.”
“Really! Where is that?”
They had a bit of smalltalk about tourism and home and then turned to go their separate ways.
As he turned to go, it suddenly occurred to Charles that he was being an idiot. Here was an attractive woman who wasn’t the slightest bit frightened by him. Why wasn’t he trying to get to know her better?
“Berthe?” he called after her. “If you happen to have some free time, would you be willing to show the sights to a couple of tourists?”
Berthe turned around and gave him a bright smile. “For you, I’ll make the time!”
So Charles gathered up Ada and made introductions, and Berthe drove them to the local nectary, cheerfully chattering about local history as they went. She painted a picture with words that almost matched Ada’s canvas.
“This place has been making nectar the old fashioned way for over a hundred years,” Berthe said. “I can show you what I like best, but I think you should try everything. Don’t let the nectarers make you feel guilty. That’s what nectar tasting is for!”
So they had a sip, and then another, and then another, and soon they found that they had run out of conversation and were just staring into each other’s eyes.
Ada, meanwhile, found the nectary tour guide and told him all about how the orbital mind control lasers programmed grapes so that when people drank the nectar they would vote for certain political parties.
The tour guide seemed to take the whole story with equanimity. “All right, then,” he said when she’d run out of steam. “I can do you one better. Have you ever heard of the Zombie of Chateau Nectary?”
“No!” Ada said. “Who is that?”
And he told them.
It was the only thing Ada could talk about for hours afterward. “We have to be careful!” she told Charles more than once. “Did you know that after they saw the zombie, the children were never seen again?”
“I have to go to work tomorrow,” Berthe said reluctantly. “I hope you’ll drop by again before you head home.”
“Definitely,” Charles said, breaking out of the nectar haze. He gathered up Ada, and Berthe drove them to their hotel.
The next day, Ada woke Charles up just past dawn. “Today, you’re going to go with me to the Muse D’Arte!” she announced. “There’s nothing like it in the world. A little more art will do you good.”
Charles’s thoughts were elsewhere, so he just went where Ada told him to go.
“These are the masters,” Ada declared. “I have to learn to be this good or nobody will remember my art.”
So she set up her easel in the middle of the museum and started to work. Everyone was so surprised that nobody told her to stop.
In the evening, she got tired. The bed of Queen Chartreuse XII was out on display without even a rope dividing it from the spectators. It looked so comfortable that Ada had to try it out.
In the morning, she woke to a crowd of astonished onlookers. She smiled at them. “What a great night’s sleep! This museum has such nice hospitality!”
Charles, meanwhile, took advantage of his ghostliness to get up close and personal with the Egyptian exhibit after hours.
Some places were better off unexplored.
Charles left Ada absorbed in the museum and took his time exploring ancient burial mounds nearby. When he returned he drifted into the antiquities dealer and gift shop to sell some of his finds.
There, a charming music box caught his eye. Inside, a clockwork ballerina danced alone to a romantic tune, seeming to beckon the watcher to join her.
“How much?” he found himself asking.
“Less than what you just offered to sell me,” the merchant pointed out.
Something in the ballerina’s dance touched Charles’s heart, and he found himself trading for it more antiquities than it could possibly be worth.
The vacation was ending at last. Charles and Ada’s flight departed the next day. Berthe had been on his mind for the entire trip. At last he took a deep breath and dialed her number.
“I was hoping to see you again before I left,” he told her. “Would you like to meet me at the cafe?”
“Of course I would!” Berthe replied on the other end of the line.
So they met again where they had met the first time. This time, they sat at the table and laughed over coffee. Conversation came easily.
Charles thought of the music box in his bag. It was a gift for a hoped-for lover. Should he give it to her?
Being with Berthe was….
…almost as wonderful as being with Veronica.
Then he knew. He couldn’t ask anything of Berthe because he wasn’t free to ask her. He had to tell Veronica how he felt.
“I have to pack my bag,” he said at last. “Our flight leaves bright and early. Thank you so much for showing me and my sister around the town. You’ve been… you’ve been a great friend.”
Something flashed behind Berthe’s eyes. “A friend,” she said evenly. “I’m glad I could be of service.”
The last of their visit was awkward. Charles watched her go, wondering if he had just made the biggest mistake of his life.
No, this was the way it had to be. He was done being a passive gentleman. He couldn’t step aside and lose the woman he loved because he never let her know.
It was time to go home.
France was so much fun. Lance never went here except a quick trip when he was a teenager because the best tombs and swag aren’t in France. So I got to explore it essentially for the first time.
Berthe was almost perfect. She had fun personality traits, she was Brave and thus not afraid of Charles, she had a LTW I would have enjoyed, and she was single. Plus, she was game-generated. Plus the two of them got along like a house on fire. I’m sure her Charismatic trait didn’t hurt their relationship. Charles should have married her on the spot. Instead, as soon as he talked to her, he rolled a wish to go home. Charles the adventurer wished to go home. If I were going to look for my sim to tell me who he wanted, that seemed like the best hint I was going to get. Plus, hey, Veronica got most of the votes anyway :).
Actually, Charles ran into two more Brave French folk: the antiquities vendor and a random guy playing chess on the plaza. Clearly France was the place he should have gone mate hunting a lot earlier.
I thought Ada looked adorable while listening to the ghost story!
The bit with the music box was from a couple of wishes Charles had. He wanted to buy a music box, and he wanted to give Veronica a gift. I thought they went together nicely.