3.36 Rebound

Zahra didn’t give up inventing when she went back to work, though it did have to be put on the backburner. One weekend, she found herself out of scrap and headed to the junkyard to scavenge.

While she was working in a corner, she heard voices in the office.

“Hey, hon. We were looking for some privacy. I was hoping you’d remember who helped you buy that new car.”

It was Toya’s voice.

Then Harvey. “So the mayor appreciated our donation to her campaign…”

Zahra slipped out the back. This was definitely not her fight.

(I TOTALLY DID NOT STAGE THAT. While Zahra was at the junk yard, the Ursines walked in to the office. Toya talked to the only other person in the room, and she left. Then Harvey sat down at the desk, and they started talking. Awesome. Jess isn’t even Harvey’s kid, and I figured he was clean. Heh.)

She returned later that evening to find that Fabian had invited Hank over.

“He’s totally not over that thing with Pauline cheating on him,” Fabian whispered behind his hand. “I figured this would cheer him up.”

Shanni came home from work, and they played a game on the lawn.

During which time, Shanni and Hank got to talking.

Fabian couldn’t believe it. Shanni and Hank? Seriously?

He tried to head things off at the pass, but Hank didn’t appreciate his concern.

“I know it hurts that Pauline cheated on you–” Fabian began in his best sympathetic voice.

“Sort of like Zahra felt when you cheated on her?” Hank demanded. Fabian had to let it go.

Meanwhile, Charles pulled Zahra aside.

“I’m old enough to learn herbology,” he said. “I want to learn all you can teach me.”

Zahra started him off on helping with the harvest.

(I thought that Charles harvesting the huge garden would teach him a gardening skill, but no. I had to send him to a class after school later. Bah.)

Things got late, and Fabian and Zahra headed off to bed. They had to be up early to work the next day. But Hank lingered.

Shanni didn’t mind listening to him rant about Pauline. She really seemed to appreciate what he was saying.

And things went to the logical conclusion.

Hank lay beside Shanni and dreamed of Pauline.

In the morning, he felt terribly guilty.

“About last night –” he began awkwardly.

Shanni laughed. “You can tell her you got back at her,” she said. “I knew this was a fling thing. You never lied to me about how you felt about her.”

“Wow,” Hank said. “I didn’t expect you to be so understanding.”

She gave him a hug and felt good. It was the first time she’d ever been friends with an ex.

Later, Fabian ran into Pauline while on plain clothes patrol outside the theater.

They were old friends, and they got to talking.

“Hank and I broke up,” Pauline told him.

“I know,” Fabian said. “I think you should know that he and Shanni–“

“Oh, I know all about that,” Pauline said. “We got back together after that. Then we broke up again.”


(Hank and Pauline are SO VOLATILE in my game. As of this writing, they’ve given up on each other and are dating other people. I’m considering pollinating Pauline with Twallan’s mod because I don’t think either of them are going to manage to reproduce, and I’d like to have their genes around. It’s not at all unbelievable that they’d produce an illegitimate child, since they’ve gotten together and broken up at least a half-dozen times so far.)

3.35 In the Swing

Shanni was starting to get a grip.

In fact, she wasn’t too bad at this job at all. Beau Andrews promoted her!

She was no longer a trainee, and she could do in-home makeovers. She was really started to enjoy her job.

Of course, you couldn’t please everyone. Iqbal Jolina-Alvi wanted a new hairstyle with his new look, and he wasn’t at all happy with what he got.

Shanni didn’t have the heart to tell him that he just didn’t have enough hair to style.

As she was getting ready to leave work for lunch, her phone rang.

“Our little girl was born this morning!” Adjo crowed on the other end of the line. “We named her Charmaine.”

Wow. Adjo’s life was moving forward so fast. She knew that was what he wanted, and she was happy for him. She didn’t want to jump into commitment and responsibility. She wanted to have fun. Right?

Fortunately, she ran into Willem Yo in the park, He made her feel a lot better about her life’s decisions.

(Willem is the son of Michelle Yo, my attempt to make a look-alike of Michelle Yeoh. Man, my game is just madly in love with that hairstyle. He started a conversation with her in the park bathroom while she was neurotically checking out the sink, and I couldn’t come up with any way to get them to leave, so they decided to go steady standing in the bathroom.)

To celebrate her promotion, Shanni bought the family a hot tub.

Willem showed her a whole new world of uses for it.

He was a ton of fun, even if he did have a bit of a fashion problem.

The new hot tub led her to spend a whole lot more time lounging around the house in a bikini. Fabian would never let anyone know just how much he enjoyed that.

Hey, he could look, right? So long as he never let Zahra know he was looking. She’d probably still cut his balls off.

The thing with Willem faded after a while. He was a police officer, and he and Fabian turned out to have more in common than Shanni and WIllem did. Eventually, they just stopped calling each other.

Which was convenient when Israel Bauer called her up and asked her out on a date. Shanni barely remembered Israel from school, but she was game for hanging out at least. She arrived at the theater before he did and sat down to wait.

And who was hanging out by the bookstore?

Agnes Crumplebottom.

“Wow,” Shanni said nervously. “I didn’t expect to run into you again.”

Agnes smiled sourly. “I’m around, you know. I didn’t vanish in a puff of smoke when your brother-in-law dumped me on my ass.” She threw up her arms. “What a world! What a word!”

“I don’t think you’re a witch,” Shanni said. “Fabian did all the damage.”

“Thank you,” Agnes said. “I didn’t set out to wreck your home. I’m glad you know that.”

“We should do lunch sometime,” Shanni said on impulse.

“I’d like that,” Agnes agreed.

Then Israel showed up, and Shanni had to go.

The thing was, Israel kind of lied about his age. By the time the movie was done, Shanni had clued in. He hadn’t graduated from high school yet. When she nudged him on it, he just said, “Well, I’m the same age as Mortimer Goth, and I knew you were dating him for a while. So I was kind of hoping you’d be cool with it.”

Well, he was right, but somehow dating a high schooler now that she was out in the big world didn’t feel right. She let him down gently. It wasn’t hard. All she had to do was talk with him until curfew hit.

And then Xander Clavell just happened to be around.

Xander’s reputation preceded him. He was a true bad boy. Harvey Ursine’s right-hand man. Just talking to him made Shanni feel incredibly naughty. She couldn’t help herself.

Then whole time Xander was talking her up, this girl kept watching.

“Who’s that?” Shanni asked after a while.

“Her? Nobody. Don’t worry about it. Maybe we should go someplace, you know, more private-like.”

It wasn’t until later than Shanni realized that he’d probably dumped that other girl for her.

(Which is, I believe exactly what happened. I think Xander was at the theater on a date with Bebe Hart. Bastard.)

So Shanni took him home, which was much more private.

What WAS a true bad boy like in bed?

Not terribly remarkable, it turned out. Willem had more flair.

By the time morning came, Shanni’d had enough with her walk on the wild side. Xander wasn’t much for conversation, and he wasn’t much for conversation alternatives either. She tried to cut him loose. That’s when the trouble happened.

“Nobody walks out on Xander Clavell,” Xander told her with tight lips. “You stay with me until I tell you otherwise.” He grabbed her wrist, and she knew he was too strong for her to fight. What could she do?

“Hey there,” Fabian said as he headed off to work. “Didn’t I just let you out of jail?”

“You live with a cop?” Xander exclaimed. “You didn’t tell me!” He got lost immediately after that.

Shanni could barely meet Fabian’s eyes. “Don’t say anything,” she said. “I’ll be more careful.”

(I’m back and trying to get back into the swing of things. My daughter has been sleeping much better this week. Woot!)

3.34 Commitment

Zahra had been sleeping beside Fabian and going through the days as his wife, but something wasn’t right, and she knew it. The more she thought about it, the more it seemed impossible for this marriage to work. The glue that bound them together, their mutual passion for science and logic, paled in comparison to their social differences. Fabian was at his best in the situations that frightened her the most. In a room filled with people, he bloomed while she wilted. How could she believe that a man who was ultimately so alien to her could ever be faithful?

It had to end. The question was when and how.

“Fabian?” she asked one evening. “Do you have a minute? I think we need to talk.”

“Sure thing!” he said. “Did you know our whole family is having a birthday this weekend? I wanted you to know I planned a party and invited everyone!”

“You what?” she asked.

“A party! Shouldn’t there big a big shindig with so many birthdays happening together? Wait, did I do something wrong? Why do you look like that?”

“No, it’s OK,” Zahra said quietly. Then she slipped into the office to escape.

The next day, it really was quite a party, and everyone really was there.

Charles’ best friend Jabari Keaton made it. So did Genvieve Goth, a nice girl from his class. (She managed to avoid every single picture, I see, but trust me. She was there.) Jake Roland even crashed the party to pine over Shanni, but he didn’t bother her.

Adjo and Toya were expecting their first child already. It was going to be a girl! Adjo told everyone who would listen. He did everything but hand out cigars.

Toya, when Adjo wasn’t watching, showed a bit of her unsavory side.

(I didn’t realize until after they got married that Toya is, in fact, Evil like her dad.)

Hank Goddard had just found out that Pauline was cheating on him, and he had a long sob story for anyone who would listen.

Fabian was first to blow out his candles.

As he made his wish, he looked at Zahra and winked. She looked away. It hurt to know everything was wrong when he was so sure everything was right.

Then Charles.

He inherited his father’s nose.

And with his genes, it wasn’t terribly surprising that he needed glasses.

(I think I am in love with teen Charles. He’s just the most adorably geeky-looking sim I’ve ever seen. Though his personality is almost as far from geek as you can get.)

Then Ada.

(Random toddler and ghost spam :).)

She was beautiful, and the spitting image of her father.

As the party wound down, Zahra took some time with Adjo alone. “O I don’t want to rub your nose it in, but do you know your wife and her dad have a ballot-stuffing racket going on? They’re going to throw an election to get Toya into office.”

Adjo just smiled blandly. “I love whom I love,” he said. “Did I tell you we’re going to have a baby girl?”

Meanwhile, Israel Bauer, Layla’s dear boss Antonio’s orphan son, was picking Toya’s brain about Shanni.

“Is she seeing anyone? I know I’m younger than she is, but she was dating Mortimer, and he’s my age!”

When the guests left, Charles immediately pulled Lancelot aside. “Teach me everything, he said.”

So he did.

(The Train ability is awesome.)

“It’s your turn now,” Fabian pointed out to Zahra. “Don’t you want to blow out the candles too?”

“No, that’s all right,” Zahra said. “Celebrations are really your thing, not mine.”

So she aged up alone.

The day was over, and here she was in bed with Fabian again, no closer to telling him the truth.

And she couldn’t help but see Fabian in her daughter’s face every time they spent time together.

Charles had lost his father forever. How could she do anything like that to Ada?

At last, Zahra’s maternity leave was over. As they prepared for work in the morning, She told Fabian the truth.

“I’ve decided I’m going to stay with you.”

Fabian blinked. “I didn’t know it was still in question.”

“I don’t understand you,” she said quietly. “I don’t think you really understand me. But we have a beautiful daughter who I can’t bear to hurt.”

“That doesn’t sound like an expression of deep confidence in our marriage.”

“I’ve never really dated,” Zahra said. “I don’t think I know how to be married. I know you’ve tried, but I don’t know how to trust you.”

“What can I do?” Fabian asked. “When I was dating Agnes and Laura and Marie, I said… I should just shut up now, shouldn’t I?”

Zahra looked down at her plate. “What you just said is the whole problem. You’ve been happy with so many people. How can I ever believe that you are happy with just me?”

The carpool honked. Zahra dashed off. Work at last!

Fabian couldn’t leave it like this. He couldn’t stay with Zahra while knowing that she was so unhappy. But what could he do?

After work, he found himself heading to the spa.

“Make it big and bright,” he told Mildred the tatoo artist. “I want everyone to see it.”

Zahra’s name, across a heart. That shouldn’t be too ambiguous.

“I don’t know what I can do to earn back your trust,” he told Zahra that evening. “This might be a stupid gesture, but it’s not a wedding band I can take off or a commitment I can forget to mention. Anyone I see will know I’m with you. The past is the past, but going forward, you’re the only person I want to be with.”

“I love you so much,” he whispered in her ear as he held her close.

Zahra was silent for a long time, but she clung to him with something words could never express. “I love you too,” she said at last. “All right. Let’s start over. But if I ever catch you stepping out on me, I’m going to cut your sensitive bits into little pieces.”

And Zahra didn’t usually use metaphors. She might mean that literally. Fabian gulped. “All right then,” he said. “Let’s start over.”

And so they did.

( Zahra and Fabian’s cheating thread is finally resolved! What really happened here is that I THOUGHT their relationship had been repaired, but in the middle of the party, the betrayal moodlet expired and the game announced that she had decided to divorce him. The “Break Up” action stayed in her queue for a while, but it was superseded by the series of birthday cake age-ups, and eventually it was dropped. I decided that the birthdays had made her change her mind, but that didn’t seem to be enough to get their marriage back to a good place. So here you go.

If she’d divorced him, I don’t think she’d’ve been able to make him move out. Barring any contradictory wishes, I figured he’d stay in the house, help raise Ada, and keep trying to get Zahra to take him back.

Fabian and Zahra didn’t wish to be mean to each other or any of the stuff that happened to other people. I realized later this is because they are both Good, so they can’t wish to do mean things. They just didn’t have any wishes about each other at all, except that Fabian started wishing to have another child — NOT the time for that! I was lulled into a false sense that everything was OK. I also learned that breaking it off with a romantic interest once the cheating accusation has been made doesn’t actually help. Still, it made for nice story. We’ll be seeing more Agnes.

Oh, yeah, and when I dug through Fabian’s memories, I found out that he was a PLAYER. He was with three women other than Agnes who were not current love interests. Thus the throwaway line to Zahra. I have a custom mod to keep important and romantic memories b/c there are some things about the memory system that are actually pretty cool.)

3.33 Adventurers!

“What catches your eye, m’boy?” Grandad asked as he caught Charles eyeing the lovely jade carvings of the Chinese zodiac that were mounted on shelves in the living room. “I can’t imaging you’re captivated by my past glories.”

“They’re very pretty,” Charles said. “But mostly I was wondering if I could borrow one.”

“Borrow?” Grandad demanded, looking alarmed. “Where? What for?”

“Just for school,” Charles said. “I have an assignment. If I can bring in a relic from somewhere, I can get extra credit. Maybe they’ll finally put me on the honor roll. It doesn’t have to be anything as nice as this. Do you have any old cheap ones lying around?”

Grandad laughed. “They’re all old, m’boy. It’s sort of the point. And, no, I got rid of the relics that weren’t worth much. It’s not worth the space to keep them.”

“Oh,” Charles said, trying to mask his disappointment.

“But let’s not let a little thing like that keep you from the honor roll,” Grandad said. There was a crazy flash in his eye. “I know just the place to go to get cheap relics…”

And before Charles knew it, Grandad had whisked him off to Egypt, chuckling to himself as he went.

The flight was stressful. Charles had never been so fast or so high, and it made his connection to the Netherworld seem all-too-appealing. (On the way out and the return, Charles arrived with a mood in the red and a huge negative stress moodlet. I haven’t seen that from any other Sim.)

“Well I’ll be damned,” Grandad said. “Let’s get you calmed down. Who would expect a ghost child to be afraid of flying?”

At least he was getting better at catch.

Soon, he was back to his usual ghostly tricks.

“What do we do now, Grandad?” Charles asked over lunch.

“We do anything you like, of course!” Grandad said.

Charles looked up from the base camp to the stone face peeking up over the horizon. “I want to go there.”

Grandad’s eyes widened. “You want to go to the Sphinx?”

Charles grinned. “Yeah.”

“All right, then, let’s do it.”

Charles was so excited, he wished himself there.

And suddenly he was.

Wow. Charles had never guessed he could teleport so far! He was at a loss for what to do. At last, he just got out a book to pass the time until Grandad could find him.

After a long time, Grandad came running up to the feet of the Sphinx, panting. “What did you do, child? You disappeared!”

“Yeah,” Charles said, grinning. “It was awesome.”

Grandad puffed up his chest. “All right then, I’ll show you awesome.”

And he did.

“This is a pretty tricky tomb,” Grandad said solemnly. “It can be dangerous. Stick beside me, and I’ll keep you safe.” As they approached, Charles could see what Grandad meant.

They were met by a wall of fire. That really was awesome.

Charles wished himself past it.

“Hey! Wow, Grandad! There are a bunch of gems over here! They look really valuable!”

“What?” Grandad cried. “Give me a minute! I have to do this the hard way!”

“What should I do?” Charles asked.

“Just don’t get in my way. I’ll be through in no time.”

“OK,” Charles said, and he settled down to wait.

Charles could teleport anywhere he could see, but he couldn’t move any of the big pillars or open the heavy stone doors. Grandad had to handle that.

When they were tired, they slept side-by-side in Grandad’s adventurer’s tent.

But they couldn’t get to the end. The way was blocked by great big boulders that even Grandad couldn’t move.

“Damn,” Grandad swore to himself. “The axe I found in China would clear these away, but I didn’t bring it. I’m sorry, Charles. I can’t take you to the end.”

“That’s OK,” Charles said. “This has been the best day of my whole life.”

And thus Lancelot Sample passed the adventurer’s bug to another generation.

(Man, children can’t do ANYTHING in World Adventures. Well, except pick up loot. But Charles’ teleportation ability was way stronger than I realized. He can teleport anywhere on a world map that you can click. When he gets old enough to open doors himself, he’s going to a lean mean tomb raiding machine.)

3.32 Odds and Ends

So, I said before that law enforcement didn’t pay, and that Fabian only brought about 1100 Simoleons into the family. But I failed to mention that he brought 1100 simoleons and a TOFUNDA WAGON. The two Sample vehicles now cancel each other out in terms of fuel efficiency.

Law enforcement does pay, apparently. It just doesn’t pay for money management classes.

So what HAS everyone been up to in the Sample house?

Zahra was still on maternity leave. She tried to stop fighting it and relax.

Then she gave up relaxing and took up inventing.

Charles asked Lance for some help on his homework, and Lance dragged him to the park instead.

“It’s evening, m’boy! That’s your best time! Let’s throw the old pigskin around!”

“Ouch! Grandad!”

“You’ll get the hang of it, kiddo! Just don’t give up!”

Fortunately, there were some things were Charles already had the upper hand.

“Stop! I call uncle! That’s a mean game of tag! You sure know how to wear an old man out.”

Fabian spent some time trying to connect with his wife’s Egyptian roots.

Which was probably a lost cause.

Layla had truly become one with her golden years. She had never felt so comfortable and fulfilled.

She had the best private garden in the city. (I totally failed to note when she achieved her Perfect Garden Lifetime Wish.)

She had a wonderful husband, successful children, and amazing grandchildren who loved her.

(The No Jealousy reward definitely helped her marriage.)

She had his and hers running NFL Madden 12

(These really were taken at the same time.)

Ada was into everything, of course.

As she grew older and could communicate better, she and Charles had more fun together every day.

Grady Elfman the maid hit on Shanni a couple of times, and she agreed to meet him in the park.

Big mistake. The guy couldn’t stop talking about his hair gel.

But there she ran into the Ursines out on a family picnic.

Including the elusive Harvey.

Family was a good excuse to get out of a date gone bad, so Shanni ditched him and spent the afternoon with them. And she was glad she did. That evening, Rachel’s precarious health took another turn for the worse, and she died the next day. She must have been over 100. RIP, Rachel.

(I’m back! Ah the Simfail I have to rant about. But first we needed some cheerful stuff after all of the relationship drama.)

3.31 The Other Woman

“Oh, hey,” Fabian said in surprise as Zahra stumbled into the room. “Wait a minute and I’ll have breakfast ready.”

“Thanks,” Zahra said distantly. She sat down at the counter and blinked at him while he flipped pancakes. “You don’t have to cook for me.”

Fabian shrugged. “I didn’t expect to see you up so early while you’re on maternity leave.”

Zahra offered a wan smile. “That’s assuming I’ve been to bed.”

“Oh. I guess that solves the problem of who sleeps in our bed.” He served the pancakes up on a plate for Charles and Shanni to grab on their way out. “Zahra, is this the best we can do? Forgive me or throw me out, please. I don’t think I can handle the waiting anymore.”

Zahra sighed at looked at him with eyes that were suddenly vulnerable. “I know,” she said. “I’m still trying to figure out what could convince me to trust you again.”

Those eyes were still flashing before his vision all the way to work.

“Give me a second, Hank,” he said to his partner as they were getting ready to go out on patrol. “I need to make a call.”

(Yeah, Hank is still Fabian’s partner, despite the fact that he’s supposedly been promoted to a desk job.)

His fingers dialed the familiar number by reflex. “I was wondering if you wanted to meet up. You know, the same old place after work.”

The voice o the other end sounded so cheerful that it made his heart ache. “Fabian! I thought you’d never ask.”


Shanni had survived the morning, and she was starting to think she had this job under control when SHE walked into the salon courtyard.

“I believe I have an appointment for new formalwear,” Agnes Crumplebottom said. She gave Shanni and awkward smile. “I have a hot date tonight.”

“Surely you don’t mean me!” Shanni squeaked. “Beau is much more experinced. He could–“

“You’re the trainee with the discount, right?” Agnes demanded. “I prefer to get the discount.”

Fabian’s amazingly rich heiress girlfriend was a tightwad. Great.

I can do this. I can do this, Shanni repeated to herself as she escorted Agnes into her studio. I can be completely impartial and give her the best look I can possibly give. And I won’t think once about who she has a date with. All right, I thought about it once, but that’s it.

In the end, she felt she outdid herself.

Agnes thought it was acceptable enough not to demand a refund, at least.

Agnes smiled at Shanni. “You seem like a strong, hardworking woman. I’m glad you were the one to do the work. I’m not the easiest person to work for, nor am I the prettiest face to paint up. Thank you.”

She left Shanni to pick her jaw up off the floor as she left.


It was Fabian’s jaw that hit the floor next, as they met up at dusk at the bistro. “Agnes, you look… you look amazing.

“I’m glad you appreciate the change,” Agnes said. “I hear the salmon is especially good tonight.”

Fabian started to walk into the restaurant with her, but then he stopped himself. “Agnes, the real reason I’m meeting you like this it tell you we have to stop meeting like this.”

“Why on earth?” Agnes demanded. “Did you suddenly notice you were married?”

He looked at her with miserable, puppy-dog eyes. “I’ll always value your friendship.”

Her face clouded over. “That’s exactly what it is, isn’t it? You never minded our relationship with any of your other girlfriends, but now it’s different?”

“Yes.” Fabian tried to hold his voice firm, but he heard it crack, and he cringed. “Now it’s different.”

“You bastard,” Agnes snarled. “Don’t pretend this somehow makes you a good, faithful husband. You’re just a bastard with a pile of guilt. Have a good time with it.”

And with that, she stalked out of the bistro and out of Fabian’s life.

He headed home, feeling numb. He and Agnes had been a thing almost since Fabian had graduated from high school. She’d never asked anything of him, and now he couldn’t even give her what little she wanted.

He consoled himself the best way he knew how.

When Zahra came in from the garden, he told her the news.

“It’s through between us. I made that clear.”

Zahra flashed those vulnerable eyes at him. “Thank you.”

And when he went to bed that night, she joined him, without explanation or promise.

It was Fabian who lay awake that night. It was nice to feel Zahra close to him again. That meant the danger zone was past, right? Right?

(So, a little creative license there, since of course there’s no way for a Sim to set a date later in the day, silly folks. But this was the first afternoon after work when Fabian could have met with Agnes to ask her to just be friends, so I’d decided that’s what he was going to do. And who do you think shows up looking for formalwear? It was pretty awesome synergy. So it all really did happen the same day, without me planning it.)

3.30 Ghost Boy

Charles Sample was a strange one, that’s for sure. He wasn’t the strangest thing that had ever happened in Sunset Valley. And heck, there were rumors that other towns in the area had vampire kids going to school. Next to that, he was small potatoes. Still, he raised a few eyebrows on his first day of school. At least, when his teachers and fellow students noticed him at all.

And that was really the problem. Charles was a master of the night.

But in the daytime, he just faded away.

He wanted more than anything to make the honor roll, and he worked hard on all his schoolwork.

But somehow his name never showed up on the rolls. It was like nobody noticed.

(He rolled an honor roll wish on his first day of school. He’s a teen now, he has an A, and he’s always done his homework, and he is STILL not on the honor roll.)

Being hard to notice had some distinct disadvantages. There were times when you just, well, needed privacy, and someone was likely to walk in on you.

Still, there were times when he wished he were even more invisible than he was.

Mom insisted they sit down to “family dinners,” but things were getting really bad.

She could barely exchange words with Charles’ stepdad Fabian without the bitterness coming through. Charles would just shrink down in his chair and hope that nobody noticed him until it was over.

Often it was Grandad who saved him. He’d fill the air with stories about his adventuring days, then jump up when the meal was done and come up with something for the two of them to do together. That way Charles had an excuse to get away.

Mom always noticed, of course. He felt so comfortable with her that they didn’t even need to fill the space with words. And that was good, because words were never really Zahra’s strong suit, and she knew it.

They shared a deep love for the garden and would keep her company while she weeded and harvested, but the Sims 3 is stupid and won’t let kids garden themselves, so he picked up fishing instead.

He wished he could remember his father better. There were wisps of memories left, but he could never quite tell which ones were real and which ones were just his imagination of his mother’s stories. The only thing he could be sure of was the impression of tender, luminescent eyes and an eerie voice deeper than his own. Mostly, it seemed he and his father had shared this half-ghost, half-mortal state. Cycl0n3 had been a couch potato in love with online computer games who never really saw much reason to leave the house. Charles felt confined the moment he stepped indoors. Computers annoyed and mystified him. He wanted to hike in the hills or bury his hands in the earth. Nature was what mattered. Still, it would’ve been nice if there were someone else around like him.

He and Fabian, on the other hand, had almost nothing to say to each other. Like Charles’ dad, Fabian didn’t see much point to leaving the house. He hung out on his computer when he got home. Fabian didn’t make him feel bad for not being his kid, and he didn’t seem to phased about the ghost thing. He’d had plenty of time to get used to the idea before he moved in. But the two of them just had almost nothing to talk about. It’s like they lived in separate domains. And that was before the cheating thing, and Mom crying when she thought nobody was watching her, and now Charles figured the best way to know Fabian was not at all.

One day, he was pretty sure that Tyrone Branch had invited him home from school, but when he got there, Tyrone seemed to forget him and wander away. Charles did his homework on their kitchen table and then drifted home, feeling lost and friendless. (Seriously. I didn’t get pics of this b/c it took me by surprise.)

But then Jabari Keaton was seated next to him in math class. Jabari noticed him and thought he was pretty cool. Soon they were going home from school together a lot

Jabari preferred to hang out watching TV, but he was willing to trade that off with games of tag in the back yard, so it was all good.

Plus, the Keatons gave him a place to escape when things got really tense at home.

And there were some other bits to being a ghost boy that he didn’t talk about much. They were his sort-of secret superpowers, and that made being different seem a whole lot more fun.

He could wish where he wanted to be.

And then he’d be there.

And being insubstantial on demand wasn’t too bad either.

He liked to think of himself as an almost-invisible superhero, ready to save the world. The world just needed to develop some problems he could save it from. Or maybe there were other adventures out there to be found.

(Eh, not my best chapter, but here’s a bit of a picture of the person Charles is starting to be. The pics of him teleporting didn’t come out well, and they turned out to be the only pics of Charles at Adjo’s wedding. I got so wrapped up in my technical problems I didn’t do half of what I wanted to do with that wedding.)

3.29 Into the Unknown

Making a living from his music wasn’t easy. Adjo hadn’t thought it would be, but he had no idea just how hard the truth was.

He started out his busking career working just a few hours in the evening, but soon he was out from the afternoon far into the night. He played until his fingers bled, which is hard to recover from when you have to go out and play with those same sore fingers the next night. He built his calluses fast.

(Spoken by someone who actually does play a stringed instrument. I’ve never been so dedicated as to play till my fingers bled, but I’ve certainly made myself sore. :-p)

But soon he was drawing modest crowds.

They weren’t half the crowds that Grandmother Susie had drawn with that same guitar, but they generated enough tips that a guy could support himself. And maybe someone else. Provided that someone else also had a job.

(Adjo actually drew better crowds than this, but I failed to get a picture.)

“Hey stranger.”

Adjo felt suddenly self-conscious. He’d played for almost everyone in town except the one person whose opinion mattered most. “Hey. I was going to call you.”

“Don’t stop,” Toya said. “It was good.”

Even that little bit of praise made Adjo’s heart sing. “I’m glad you like it. But, um, I wanted to see you tonight anyway. To, um, talk” With trembling fingers, he packed up the guitar.

“That sounds dangerous,” Toya said. “Talk about what?”

It came gushing out. “My tips have been going up all week. I’m making enough to move out now.”

Toya’s face lit up. “Really? Wow!”

She pulled away and leaned her forehead against his. “I think I know just the way to celebrate.”

And she did.

It was a good think Shanni was such a good sport. She didn’t complain once about sleeping in the kids’ room again.

Afterward, as they lay gazing into each other’s eyes, Adjo almost whispered, “Toya Ursine, will you marry me?”

“Sure I will,” Toya said. And as they drifted off to sleep, she added, “Silly.”

In the morning, Adjo got up to shower alone.

(Included because I take a lot of shower shots, and I think they look really cool, and there’s never a reason to use one.)

Shanni cornered Toya in her bedroom. “I just wanted to give you the obligatory, ‘Hurt my brother and I’ll kill you’ speech.”

(Wow. Toya’s sleepwear is kind of amazing.)

Toya gave her a secret smile. “Hurting him wasn’t what I had in mind. Unless he likes that.”

“Your family–“

Toya waved her hand. “Look, I’ve warned that boy off as many ways as I know how. He knows what he’s getting into. But if you’re worried about me, don’t be. The last thing I want is to make him regret treating me like a gentleman.”

And with that, Shanni had to be satisfied.

The next day, Adjo gave his news to the other menfolk.

“She’s the one for me.”

“I can see that.”


Then he made a trip to City Hall to get his marriage license and all the paperwork in order.

This was it. Last chance to back out.

(What he’s actually doing here is about the closest equivalent to getting a marriage license. He’s changing his last name so that the married couple will have the name I want.)

When the day came, the house was all ready.

Adjo worried to anyone who would listen.

(Hey, CourtneyHelen! It’s Kate!)

The bride arrived alone.

Her mother was sick, and her father had “business to attend to.”

(Actually, Rachel was invited and didn’t show. It turns out that nobody has actually MET Harvey in the Sample family. I used three different characters to plan this party, and none of them could invite him.)

Shanni arrived in the nick of time after a long day of work.

Toya wasn’t entire abandoned by her family, though. Her half-brother Jess was there to give her away.

Shanni felt a bit forlorn to be attending her brother’s wedding stag, watching him waltz off to his happily-ever-after while she was single. She half-heartedly hit on Jess, but he had a girlfriend he was devoted to. Even Shanni wouldn’t touch that.

Adjo’s best best friend, Malcolm Landgraab was there as best man,.

And I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Ursine-Sample.

You may kiss the bride.

And after, there were the expected festivities.

Whoops! And even a bottle for Ada.

And that, my friends, is how Adjo Sample joined the family. You know what kind of family I mean.

Best wishes, Adjo.

(*Sniffle* It’s hard to believe, but Adjo is the first Sim I have ever moved out in the entire time I’ve been playing Sims 3. He left the household with his lifetime wish of Super Popular fulfilled and ~70,000 happiness points. Part of me wanted to keep him and see if I could take a shot at 100,000, but the truth is that there were eight Sims in the house, and I was going nuts. Also, having a full house had some unexpected consequences coming up in a Simfail rant.

BTW: Adjo and Toya hyphenated because I like the idea of the descendants of legacy spares floating around the town generations later, and me always knowing what family branch they came from. I’m setting the Ursine-Sample household to “legacy surname” in Twallan’s story progression mod.)

3.28 Expectations


Shanni worked harder at her new job than she’d ever worked at anything in her life.

Beau Andrews, the veteran stylist, took her under his wing. He was kind to her about her mistakes, but there were a lot of them.

Malika Williams wasn’t terribly thrilled with her new fun in the sun look.

But at least she was polite, which was more than could be said of Jamie Jolina-Alvi.

(A styled Sim exits the styler in the last outfit designed for her. I keep forgetting this and doing swimwear last because it’s last on the list. So my “after” shots are almost always in swimsuits! Argh!)

Shanni was terrified of damaging the salon’s business, but Beau told her not to worry. The salon was getting pretty popular and high-profile, and she wasn’t the only stylist there. That really meant that he kicked ass at his job, and he didn’t figure her screwups would damage his reputation. Besides, he was giving customers a trainee discount for her services, so they could take what they got and be happy with it.

Beau might seem a bit cocky, but he did know his stuff. A few days after Shanni started work, Governor Tori Kimura showed up to get a new look for her upcoming campaign.

She turned the whole thing into a little pre-campaign stop, complete with some prepared remarks.

Shanni was probably not going to vote for her.

Beau was so smooth about the whole thing, and Tori was delighted with the results. The salon was going to be in the news for sure.

And afterward, he passed out from stress, which left Shanni a little nervous about what she was getting herself into.

Looking to unwind, she walked to the park on her break and ran into Jake Roland. After what seemed like a nice chat, he abruptly ran off on her.

Jake and Mortimer were making a pattern, Shanni thought bitterly. She must have “Mankiller” written on her forehead or something.

But Jake called her the next day to apologize. He’d been paged for work. He was a social worker, and there was an incident with one of his kids. To make it up to her, he proposed a date at the art museum. Shanni’s low self esteem surged immediately, and she happily accepted.

Things sort of progressed from there.

Absolutely everyone loved Jake.

Dad must have congratulated her on her taste in men a dozen times. Adjo and Fabian made “guy time” for him whenever he dropped by.

(I can’t capture, this, but this is a traffic-jam of maleness when Jake walks through the door. Adjo, Lance, and Fabian (off-screen) all mobbed him autonomously with a stack of social wishes.)

After they’d been dating a little while, Shanni invited him to stay the night. He was very appreciative.

Then he slept chastely by her side, leaving Shanni to wonder what exactly was going on in their relationship.

He even got up before she did and did all the dirty dishes from the night before.

No wonder her family wanted her to keep him.

“You’re an amazing woman,” Jake gushed as she was getting ready for work. “And I’m so glad you appreciate that I want to wait for marriage before getting too intimate.”

“Um, what?” Shanni said. “Did we talk about this?”

“We did!” Jake said. “I’m, um, sure we did! Didn’t we?”

It didn’t take long for Shanni to realize what a terrible mistake she’d made. She was out to find men to have fun with. Jake wanted all the unfun parts as soon as possible; he was shopping for a wife and mother of his children. Talk about an encyclopedia of Things Shanni Sample Wasn’t Ready For.

She had to cut him loose before it got worse. She felt like an ass.

She had to get out of there before the oppressive air of ex-boyfriendness suffocated her. And Jake needed to get his stuff and leave with dignity.

Zahra gave her a rueful smile as she dashed out the door.

New rule: Check expectations BEFORE asking the guy to stay the night.

(Heh. So the story here is that I was testing out the “Moar Interactions” mod, and I instructed both of them to go to bed. I thought this was going to get them to both relax in bed so that I could access the on-bed interactions like Woohoo! Instead, it sent them both to sleep. Whoops. I looked up Jake, and he’s Family Oriented, along with Frugal and Neat, so this seemed like a good in-game explanation.)

3.27 For Real

Fabian woke up in the morning, and Zahra wasn’t there. Trembling with panic, he dashed down the stairs to find Ada. His daughter was sleeping in her crib. Zahra was sleeping beside Adjo in Shanni’s old teenager bed. He let out a sigh of relief.

Zahra’s eyes snapped open. “You,” she said.

“I was afraid you’d…” Fabian began breathlessly. “I want you to know how sorry I am.”

She got up and made the bed, refusing to look at him. “You said that last night.” Then she headed to the shower.

“But if you would just calm down and –“

“LEAVE ME ALONE!” Zahra shouted.

Fabian left her alone.

(Note: Do not EVER tell a betrayed Sim to calm down.)

He stumbled into the kitchen. His wife was ready to kill him, and now he had to go to work and pretend everything was all right on about three hours of sleep. (For real. That fight lasted almost all night, and his energy bar is still orange. I thought maybe espresso would help, but the poor guy hit the crashing moodlet before the work day was over.)

The rest of the family drifted in for breakfast while he was drinking his chemical courage. He didn’t want to see any of them.

“Hi,” Shanni said softly as she sat down.

“Do you know what happened last night?” Fabian asked.

“Most of the neighborhood knows what happened last night.”

“Wonderful. Hey, Charles.”

“I don’t think I’m supposed to be talking to you,” Charles said and suddenly became absorbed in his homework. Fabian winced.

“Zahra’s the most important thing that has ever happened to me,” Fabian said. “I have to find a way to win her trust back. You’re her sister, Shanni. How do I convince her I’m for real?”

Shanni sighed. “I don’t really know what’s going on, and maybe it’s better if I don’t know for now. The rumors about you and Agnes have hit the salon, and they’re pretty bad. I won’t lie to you. Zahra’s not all that quick to forgive. Do what you can to make it right and show her that it won’t happen again. Give her some space, but not too much.”

“No problem,” Fabian said bitterly.

The drive to work was quiet and awkward.

“Heard you cheated on your wife,” his boss remarked. “Make sure you keep that kind of stuff out of your job.”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

When Fabian got home from work, Zahra was sitting on the back porch with Ada.

“I’m sowwwy,” Ada whimpered.

“Sorry!” Zahra said. “Sorry for what!”

“You and Daddy are mad!”

Zahra swept Ada into her arms. “We’re not mad at you,” she said fiercely. “Never at you.”

“She’s not a threat to you,” Fabian said softly. “She never was.”

Zahra cuddled Ada. “Why don’t you play in your room for a while. I’ll talk to Daddy out here.” When she’d closed the door to the children’s room behind her, she looked Fabian in the eyes. “OK, talk.”

“We’ve been seeing each other for years. It was a no-strings-attached thing. We knew we weren’t right for each other. I guess after you and I got together, we didn’t really stop to think that things needed to change. But once you were in the picture, we never… you know….”

“I don’t think I know anything,” Zahra said.

“We never had sex,” Fabian spit out. “We just talked.”

“I see.”

“Look, you can have the bed tonight. I’ll sleep on the sofa. I can give you all the space you need. But please don’t throw our marriage away. I’ll do anything I can to make this right.”

Zahra thought for a minute. “Thanks for the bed,” she said. “Ada needs to be fed and get ready to sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Fabian watched her walk up the stairs, then put on a smile and turned into Ada’s room.

They had a beautiful daughter together. If there was nothing else, that had to be the tie that binds.

Zahra lay awake for a long time, wondering when it would be clear to her what to do.

(Seriously, according to the reputation page, Fabian and Agnes were a thing for *14 days*, but never got above romantic interest, so I didn’t know about it. As of this writing, more than a Sim-week in the future, she’s still listed as his longest relationship. I didn’t want to wrap this up in an, “It’s all a misunderstanding” storyline. Those get old. So, since the game thinks Fabian and Agnes were a thing, I’m saying they really were. But I figure that since he’d neither talked to nor seen Agnes since he came under my control, I decided it was safe to say he hadn’t actually committed infidelity. Though, it’s kind of amusing that the game has given him the cheater reputation for cheating on Agnes with Zahra, since Agnes came first, and he HAS obviously been fooling around with Zahra.)

BTW: I’m knocking out a few posts now because I’m going be gone for four days to a wedding. First air travel with the baby. Wish me luck!)