Tag Archive | forest

5.25 All You Need Is Love

Now that they had a sunny spring day, they could have the kind of birthday party for Dylan and Abby that the adults had been planning. The family all piled into the Motive Mobile and took a trip to the Spring Festival.

Family and family connections poured out to wish the littlest Samples well.



Jeanna Yo-Mai. She and Leah’s little sister Miyuki hadn’t been married long yet. They’d decided to ditch the name Crumplebottom altogether to avoid inheritance confusion, though they were still living at Chateau Crumplebottom with Garry. Garry insisted the place was too big for just him and Arya.

Garry Crumplebottom and Arya Bookabet, meanwhile, were still playfully dickering over a wedding date. They seemed in no hurry to tie the knot.

Forest was the only single triplet left. At Veronica’s urging, he asked the love meter for advice. It didn’t seem to see a problem — it thought Forest was hot. Too bad it wasn’t a sim.

Veronica paraded around her new adopted grandson for everyone to meet.

Then she shared wild stories of youth with Ada and Jeanna.

Leah caught up with Miyuki.

“He’s a beautiful kid,” Miyuki said.

“Are you thinking of having any of your own?” Leah prodded with a wink.

“I don’t know,” Miyuki admitted. “Jeanna already has two kids. I’m not sure I want to deal with all the squalling and bodily fluids.”

Leah wasn’t sure what to say to that.

Then came the time for Dylan to blow out the candles!

Happy birthday was sung with great gusto.

Then came Abby!

Her hair and eyes made it very clear whose daughter she was, and she wasn’t Leah’s.
Sky shot Leah a worried look. Her wife’s face was forced into an expression of celebration, but her eyes were dull. They had both known it was likely that Abby was Xia’s child, but it was a very different thing to see that it was true. But they couldn’t talk now in the middle of the party. Sky would have to wait until they got home.
Veronica pulled Hunter and Eliana onto the dance floor.

Hunter seemed a lot more outgoing these days. He let Veronica teach him some moves.

Dylan went straight to the face-painting booth and gave the painter detailed instructions on exactly the art he wanted on his face. The painter gave him the same rainbow she gave everyone else.

Still, he was pretty happy with it. And even happier with the beautifully-colored Easter eggs

Dusk fell, and the party was still going on. The adults were all dancing and laughing.
Then someone unexpected wandered into the park.
“Mrs. Sample!” Ali Mentary said. “I got your text. Thank you for inviting me.”

Veronica faltered. “It’s nice to see you, Ali, but I didn’t send you a text message.”

“You didn’t? I didn’t mean to crash your party!” Her eyes flickered nervously over Veronica’s shoulder to Adam, whose eyes were burning into her.

Forest watched from a distance, looking satisfied. It wasn’t terribly difficult to send a text in his mother’s name.

Sky stepped into Adam’s line of sight. “Adam,” she said gently. “Are you all right?”

Adam didn’t say anything. He turned on his heel and ran into the park cottage.

Ali watched him go and gulped. She turned to leave, but Forest stepped in her way. “Hey there,” he said. “It’s been a long time. I was, sort of hoping you were well.”

Ali blinked back tears. “Hi,” she said. “I didn’t think you’d want to talk to me either.”

Forest offered a wan smile that showed a heart that still ached. “You know,” he said. “That was old news. I thought maybe we could be friends.”

Sky saw Adam standing on the porch of the cottage. She started to run to meet him, then remembered her ghost blood. She closed her eyes and appeared in front of him. That was one way to keep him from escaping.

“Adam,” Sky said. “Ali loves you. Hasn’t this gone on long enough?”

“Will you leave it alone?” Adam cried. “She’s the one who left me, remember?”

“Look,” Sky retorted, “but I know a little bit about screwing up your love life. I have no idea what happened with Ali, but I know she’s not over you. Better yet, I know you’re not over her either. You never date. You look miserable when you see happy couples together. Just go talk to her, Adam, or you’ll regret it forever. Trust me.”

“Wow,” Adam said more softly. “I didn’t know you felt so strongly about this.”

“I care about you, Adam,” Sky said. “I want to see you happy, and the person who is making it hardest for you to be happy is you.”

Adam wavered. He looked genuinely frightened. Sky pulled him into a hug. He held her tightly. “Thanks for being my friend,” he said.

Ali had already left. Adam looked at Sky for encouragement one last time. Then he took a deep breath and ran after her.

Whatever they said was between them, but it didn’t take long for the news to make it through the gossip network that Adam and Ali had been seen out on a date together.

Sky watched Adam go. Then her eyes fell on Leah

It was just a a kiss from the kissing booth, but Leah really wasn’t the kissing booth type. Sky felt a fresh knot in her stomach. It didn’t look like Leah had taken the news about Abby well at all.

For Amhranai, who likes it when I post a lot 🙂 :).

Leah had a wish to kiss someone. I tried the kissing booth, and it didn’t fulfill the wish! Not terribly well-thought-out on EA’s part, if you ask me.

I tried to have Sky use her celebrity influence to get Adam to kiss Ali, and I have to say that I’m unimpressed by THAT game feature. First of all, the game decided that Ali absolutely had to go to a protest at City Hall a few sim-minutes after she arrived. I ended up having game trouble and had to replay this party. Then I invited Ali much earlier and tried the same trick with Sky influencing Adam. This time, he tried to kiss the wrong sim. I tried again to make sure that he’d selected Ali from the list. Same thing. No kiss was successfully delivered on any attempt.

I’m afraid that Sky and Leah are still not out of the woods.

5.24 Silver Linings

Eliana moved into the Sample estate that night.

Hunter offered to call her father to tell her she wasn’t coming home, but she insisted on doing it herself. When he started shouting at her over the telephone, she hung up on him and giggled crazily. “I never thought I’d be able to do that!” she said.

“I think you can do anything,” Hunter replied.

The next evening, she found her way to the gypsy caravan to have her palm read.

She came home glowing. “This the beginning of good things,” she said. “I believe it.”

She spent a few evenings in long talks with Veronica and applied for a job a the Sufficiently Advanced Tech Center.

Hunter and Forest hauled around furniture and bought a bed appropriate for Hunter’s new lifestyle.

Which was useful because it gave Sky a place to sleep other than the couch.

Sky and Leah were a far cry from sleeping in the same bed, but Sky had good reason to hope that they would again. As awful as it was to deal with the truth, it turned out to be so much better than hiding the truth. Now there were no more secrets. Sky worked hard to show Leah how much she meant to her.
Sky had been afraid her wife might treat little Abby as an intruder, either consciously or unconsciously. That didn’t happen. Leah had an affinity for babies, and it never seemed to occur to her to punish the child for the sins of the mother.

Abby and Dylan were the glue that held Sky and Leah together.

Though no one could appreciate the new baby more than her grandmother.

Once they started to build a new routine again, Sky went back to promoting Ghostwriter.

She and Adam started playing in clubs to light a fire under the fans the band had already built.

Hunter now had a girlfriend who worked regular hours, and he had to give up his nocturnal wandering. He couldn’t give up his search for the unicorn, though, and he started wandering again at dusk after dinner.
He didn’t find any magical creatures, but he did befriend a wild red fox.

Hunter felt connected to the little predator in a way he had only felt connected to Enigma before.

By the end of an afternoon together, they were fast friends. Hunter called him Blaze for his firey red fur.

Hunter had to keep Blaze outside until the fox was comfortable enough to submit to a scrub down for fleas and parasites. After that, he became a member of Hunter’s family.

He was very careful to make sure that Enigma knew she wasn’t losing Hunter’s heart.

Sometimes Enigma was so tame these days, you could mistake her for a big dog. Well, at least when she was with Hunter. When she was out with her pack, all bets were off.

Then, of course, there were two puppies to care for.

Riddle and Mystery were part of the family too. It was becoming quite a menagerie.

Flynn summoned Forest one night.

The beach was isolated, and the sand dunes swallowed up their footprints as soon as they made them.

Flynn didn’t waste any time. “Robbin Baerwyn tells me you have his daughter,” he said.

“In a manner of speaking,” Forest replied. “Really, my brother has her. She doesn’t want to go home, which doesn’t seem terribly surprising to me.”

“Baerwyn can’t reach her at your house.”

Forest drew himself up and met Flynn’s eyes without blinking. “I have her under my protection,” he said.

Flynn seemed to think about this. “I always knew you had power,” he said at last. “Very well. I’m losing patience with Baerwyn, and I don’t think he has anything else to offer me. If you want to take on the trouble of the girl, I will not take offense for now.”

Forest was so relieved, he felt his knees might give way. He kept his face unreadable. “I think that’s a wise choice,” he said.

One evening, as they were getting ready for bed, Eliana was hit with severe contractions.

Hunter rushed her to the hospital, and Ash Baerwyn was born shortly after.

As the two of then had discussed for months, Eliana listed Hunter on the birth certificate as Ash’s father. Weston Mentary knew that the child was his. He could ask for a paternity test if he wanted a role in Ash’s life, and Eliana would support him if he wanted to do that. But Weston had a new fiancee now, Raquel Sword. Both he and Eliana had moved on. Hunter wanted to adopt the baby, and this seemed like the easiest way for all involved.

Now there were two babies and a toddler in the Sample house. It was starting to feel like a daycare center.

It just so happened that Dylan and Abby’s birthday coincided with Love Day. Sky and Leah had so much fun planning a big springtime party in the park that Sky was ready to think the whole cheating issue was behind them.

Then the day dawned in a steady, dreary rainfall.

Veronica looked over Sky’s shoulder, out the window at the dismal day.

“Well, this won’t do!” she declared.

Leah sighed. “The only thing that could ruin this day was the weather,” she said.

“Now now,” Veronica said. “I never let a little thing like the weather ruin my fun. I change it! I think now is the best possible time to test my newest invention.”

“I call it The Weather Changer,” she said. “Watch and be amazed.”

She didn’t even bother to grab an umbrella when she marched out into the downpour.

When she was done, she looked over her dumbfounded family. “Well, pick your jaws up off the floor and let’s get going! We have a birthday party!”


The weather machine LTR is the most awesome animation I have ever seen in this game.

5.23 Knight in Armor

Forest received a phone call around noon one day, just as he was waking up.

It was Valerie Ursine-Mentary, one of Flynn’s inner circle of advisers. “I think it’s time to talk about my situation,” Valerie said. “I’m going to be at the Crypt Club before work if you can make the time.”

So Hunter made the time.

The Crypt Club was deserted at 4pm in the afternoon. When he arrived, he only had the bartender to keep him company. In most cases, he wouldn’t be concerned about that at all. With the kind of business that went on at the Crypt Club, bartenders knew to keep their stories to themselves. But this was different — he had a feeling this conversation was going to intrude on the Emperor of Evil’s private business.

When Valerie appeared, he held up his drink and gestured with it back toward the stairs. “It’s stuffy in here,” he said. “I’m going to take a walk, and you’re welcome to join me.”

Valerie gave him a wry smile. She knew how the game worked.

[Sorry. They really did talk, but I had a screen snap fail. As in I failed to take screen snaps.]

They strolled down back paths together for a while, not bothering to make smalltalk. When Forest decided they were as safe as they were going to get, he spoke. “You have a problem I can help with?”

Ursine-Mentary gave an expressive shrug, though she didn’t stop walking. “I seem to have my foot caught in the door, and I think you have personal interest in my current assignment.”

Forest said nothing and waited for her to continue. If he had any reaction, it was hidden behind his mirrored glasses.

“You know I am personally assigned to Robbin Baerwyn.”

Forest nodded. “I hear you two are engaged. Congratulations.”

Valerie looked daggers at him. “It’s not much of a risk. He’s 92 with a weak heart. He enjoys having a younger woman to hang on his arm, and it keeps me in his confidence.”

“Go on.” Forest kept his face impassive, but he knew that was hardly the whole story. Valerie was a young widow because her first husband, noted scientist Dr. U. Mentary, hadn’t been much older than that when she married him. She had a thing for older men. Much older men. And these days she had a son to support alone as well. Whatever she felt for Baerwyn, it couldn’t hurt to have access to his assets.

“Robbin is obsessed with finding immortality, and he’s trying to sell his family out to do it. He has struck a deal with Flynn over his daughter Eliana. I don’t know all the details, but I know Flynn was keeping her as a receptionist and late-night snack for a while, and something changed his mind. Now that Robbin’s health is really starting to fail, he’s getting desperate, and he plans to try again to get Flynn to accept Eliana as payment for Flynn’s favor.” None of them ever said vampire aloud, but Valerie knew just as well as Forest what Flynn was. Baerwyn wanted Flynn to turn him.

“Flynn is never going to do it, you know,” Forest said. “He doesn’t need the competition.”

Valerie offered a mirthless smile. “Of course,” she said. “But Robbin doesn’t know that, and Eliana doesn’t know what end is up. I know you have some kind of personal interest in the Baerwyn family. Eliana could use a white knight to ride in to her rescue right about how.”

Forest let out a chuckle in spite of himself. “Nobody,” he said, “has ever accused me of being a white knight.”


Every since Hunter had seen that sparkling white fairy tale create, he’d been obsessed with finding it again. The owner of the Alchemy Academy knew him by sight now. He had read every book they had on unicorns, and now he had even more obscure ones on order.

Unicorns were powerful nature spirits. They appeared mostly in the darkest night in places away from civilization. Hunter could work in his garden at any time, so he moved to a nocturnal schedule and began roaming the woods and the seashores with Enigma at night.

He was scouting an old medieval ruin called Dragon Rock the night he ran into Eliana Baerwyn.

She had climbed to the top of the highest remaining rampart and was looking down into the remains of the moat with empty eyes. Hunter’s chest squeezed with pity at the sight of her. “Eliana!” he called.

Eliana jumped. Then she saw him. “Hunter!”

“I know I’m being kind of a jerk,” Hunter said. “But I’ve seen stones up there pull loose without reason. I couldn’t bear it if you fell in and got hurt.”

Eliana’s eyes were so filled with despair that it scared Hunter just to look at her. “I didn’t think you’d care that much,” she said.

Hunter scuffed his foot in the dirt. “I, um, well, look. I was leaving messages on your voice mail, and then you changed your phone number. I thought it was you who didn’t care.”
“I’m sorry!” Eliana whispered. “It’s just that after I took you home to meet Daddy, he said he didn’t want me to talk to you again! I didn’t know what to do!”

Hunter was perplexed. “You didn’t call me back because your dad said not to? Why do you let him have that kind of power over you?”

Eliana trembled. “You don’t know my father.”

Hunter took a moment to let that sink in, then his face turned cold and hard. “I don’t know him, but maybe I should learn. You should never be frightened Eliana. Let me protect you.”
“Protect me?” Eliana echoed. 
It had misting lightly all evening, but now the skies opened up and began raining in earnest. Hunter’s watertight leather jacket was good protection, but not for Eliana. Enigma let out an impatient bark. “We could go someplace more comfortable,” Hunter suggested. “Would you consider coming home with me?”

“Lead the way,” Eliana said.

They ran for the Sample house together and dripped on the doormat. The house was dark. Everyone was asleep except Forest, who was at work.

“This is beautiful,” Eliana breathed. “I had no idea you lived in a place like this.”

Hunter blushed. “The Samples were kind of a big name in Sunset Valley, where we moved from,” he admitted. “There’s money in the family. But I never wanted to live on that. Come on. I want to show you something.”

He took her hand and drew her into the arboretum. “This is mine,” he said, gesturing to the rows of fruits and vegetables. “I’m making a business at it, and it’s almost self-sufficient.”

“You’re amazing,” Eliana said. “These are beautiful.”
Hunter gazed into her eyes. “Why didn’t you return my phone calls?” he asked. “Was it really about your father?”
Eliana started to say something. Then, without warning, she fell into his arms and clung to him as if she were terrified that he would melt away.

At first, Hunter could barely breathe. Then he breathed into her hair. “You’re trembling. You shouldn’t be standing in the night air soaked through like that.” He forced himself to pull away and fetch her some warm sweats.

“I’ve never met anyone like you,” Eliana said. “You’re so caring and kind.”

Hunter blushed and shrugged. “Thanks,” he said.

Eliana looked at him, and her eyes brimmed with tears. “You’re too good a person to get involved with me,” she said. “You should give it up.”

Hunter scowled. “Why do you said that?” he demanded.

“Hunter,” she said, “I’m pregnant.”

That was one thing he hadn’t been expecting to hear. “What?” he said. “How? I– If you– I would never get in the way–“

She shook her head violently. “It’s Weston Mentary’s. He’s an OK guy. We dated in high school. My dad is engaged to this woman Valerie, and he’s her stepson. Since my mom died, dad’s gotten really frightening. He goes nuts if I leave home for very long. After he told me to stop talking to you, Weston was the only guy I saw much of outside of the family. I guess I just got lonely. I was stupid.”
“Don’t talk like that,” Hunter said sharply.
“I just want you to know that it’s all right that you don’t want to be involved with me.”
Hunte reached out and took her hand.
“Eliana,” he said. “I’ve loved you since I first met you. If you want me with you, your father can’t stop me. Weston Mentary can’t stop me. A baby certainly isn’t going to stop me. If you need help, I can help you. Please let me try.”
“Do you mean that?” Eliana gasped?
Then Hunter did something that terrified him far more than facing down a wolf. 
It turned out to be exactly the right thing to do.
When they came up for air, Forest was standing behind them. “Nice technique,” he observed.
Hunter was mortified. “Forest–!”

Forest shook his head. “Please don’t let me interrupt,” he said. “If you can keep Ms. Baerwyn entertained down here, I’ll see what I can do to find her someplace to sleep.”

“What?” Hunter and Eliana said together.

Forest lifted his glasses and gave Eliana a look that chilled her blood. “Ms Baerwyn,” Forest said seriously, “I think it’s a fortunate coincidence that you ended up here. Here we can offer you protection. I don’t think you should go home.”


Well, THIS post got a little bit away from me.

StoryProgression hates me. Just as Hunter is getting ready to ask Eliana to be his girlfriend, I get the notification that she and Weston Mentary had a little “unexpected software failure” or however that notification is phrased. I’d intended to ask her to move into the house while Hunter finished his LTW, but now we have a baby too. With all of Hunter’s pets and Veronica still alive and kicking, the household got overstuffed and crazy.

But, hey, Eliana turned out to be a Great Kisser, so Hunter really did have the time of his life :).

She’s also an Angler and a Loser, which seems like it ties into becoming the victim of her father’s plots.

5.21 Enough Hiding

Late in life, Veronica discovered the joys of domesticity, especially playing with her only grandson.

Her commitments to the Sufficiently Advanced Technology Center seemed more and more to just be inconveniences. It was starting to feel like she had, well, a job. She was sure she would continue to work until her dying day, but she realized that she didn’t have to work FOR anyone. She had plenty of independent research to keep her stimulated these days.

So she made the decision to retire.

“Wow!” Sky said when she heard the news. “I really think you ought to have a party.”

Veronica laughed. “You know what would be the best way to celebrate? Get the family out of the house so I can work on my weather regulator in peace.”

That was how everyone BUT Veronica ended up going to Honeyduke’s Sweet Shop for ice cream to celebrate Veronica’s retirement.

Well, Forest wasn’t there either, but he was at work. For a businessman, Forest worked very strange hours, and most of the family chose not to ask him for details.

“I’ll take Dylan,” Hunter said. “You two newlyweds should get some time to yourself.”

Sky beamed. “You’re the best brother in the world.”

“Don’t tell Forest that,” Hunter replied. He watched Sky strut into the candy shop with a look of concern, but he didn’t say anything.

“Let me buy you a banana split, Mrs Sample!” Sky said.

Leah giggled. “Certainly, Mrs. Sample!”

They at their ice cream together, making eyes at each other.

When they were finished, Sky heard bass music wafting down from the performance space upstairs. “There’s music!” Sky exclaimed.

“Actually, I was thinking maybe Hunter and I could go home and work in the garden,” Leah admitted. “We’ve been too busy, and the plants really need love.”

Sky blinked. She’d never really been able to understand the appeal of working in the dirt. “Do you mind if *I* go up and check out the music?” she asked forlornly.

Leah laughed. “Go ahead. We can meet up at home.”

So Sky headed upstairs to find Garry Crumplebottom jazzing out on the Honeydukes candy apple string bass.

His face lit up when he saw here. “Sky!” he cried. “Grab an instrument and join in!”

So she did. Suddenly, she was transported back to teenagerhood, when she first really discovered the beauty of making music together. Garry had been central to her self-discovery.

They played for hours, attracting a crowd of listeners.

When they at last took a break, Sky took the time to catch up with Garry. He was living by his music these days, mostly playing in theater pit orchestras and recording movie soundtracks. Money hadn’t really begun to flow yet, but he was upbeat. He had Crumplebottom money to live off of while he was making a name for himself.

Feeling suddenly a bit shy, Sky told him about Ghostwriter. “We’re could really use someone like you in our band. What do you think?”

“I think it’s a marvelous idea!” Garry agreed. “I never get to play jazz like this. If the others will have me, I would love to join!”

Eventually, Sky headed downstairs to go home. Amie Engle, the proprietress, waved to her from behind the bar. 

“You make some beautiful music,” Amie said. “We’d love to have some love music in here on a regular basis. What would you think about a regular gig for your band?”

Sky was so thrilled she almost couldn’t find the words to say yes!

At home, Leah and Hunter spent a quiet afternoon in the arboretum.

The garden was full of weeds, but the plants underneath them thrived. Leah relished the the quiet time with her hands in the soil. It gave her time to think. She’d done the right thing in pushing Sky to make a commitment, hadn’t she?

“Do you think Sky and I were really meant to be?” she asked Hunter.

Hunter was quiet for a while. “I think you’re both good people,” he said.

“That’s not an answer,” she said.

Hunter shrugged. “I don’t think I can answer. I think you’re good people, but I’m not in your relationship. I can’t tell if you can make it work or not.”

Leah smiled wryly. “Touche,” she said.

Meanwhile, Forest looked after Dylan.

Which might not have been the best idea.

Leah ended up having to leave the garden to rescue Dylan from a full-blown temper tantrum about the candy that Forest wouldn’t let him have.

Once she had Dylan fed and to bed, the phone rang. She answered, expecting it to be Sky.

Instead, it was one of her close friends from high school, looking to catch up.

“Emma! So good to hear from you. How are you doing? I heard your name is Voss-Lorien now! I hope Veltig appreciates you. Did you hear that I go by the name of Sample these days?”

Then there was dead silence on Leah’s side of the conversation.

At last, she choked, “You saw what?”

Dylan was in bed, but Leah was waiting up for Sky when she returned from Honeyduke’s that night.

“I had a fabulous time!” Sky sang as she stepped through the door. “I think Garry Crumblebottom is going to play bass with Ghostwriter! Just wait until you hear him play–” The look on Leah’s face stopped her dead in her tracks.

“I talked to Emma Voss-Lorien this afternoon,” Leah said. When Sky continued to look blank, she continued, “She was at The Garden Gnome while you were having your fun with Xia Wu.”

Oh. Oh dear.

“Leah,” Sky began. “I tried to tell you –“

“How could you have tried to tell me??” Leah demanded. “I am not that hard to talk to!”

“Dad just died, and I felt so alone. Xia had a crush on me in high school. It just got out of hand. We both know it shouldn’t have happened. I didn’t tell you because I was so terrified you’d hate me.”

Leah froze, trying to decide how to react. It hadn’t been hard to see how Charles’s death had crushed Sky. But… this?

“Is the baby mine?” she asked.

Sky cringed. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “I hope so. It was just the one time.”

Sky’s unusual biology made it a lot more likely that one time had been the time, though, and they both knew it.


Sorry for Leah photobombing the trip the Honeydukes in her wedding dress. I didn’t realize she was still wearing it when they headed to the hangout, and I didn’t have any other outside shots for transition.

Emma was at the pub when Sky and Xia got together, but I think I somehow managed to list her in all the pictures. She and Leah are actually friends on their relationship bar, though I’ve never done anything with it. So this seems like a reasonable way the gossip would have reached Leah.

5.19 Running Away

Sky was still jumping at shadows.

Or, in this case, the yipping of little puppies.

Leah wasn’t acting as if she suspected there was a problem, but that wasn’t doing a thing to assuage Sky’s nagging guilt.

The futile need to hide from herself did lead her to spend more time doing things she usually didn’t think about. She was having a nice chat with Aral when her phone rang.

On the other end of the line was Xia Wu.

“Where did you get my phone number?” Sky hissed as she ducked into the bathroom.

“The alumni directory,” Xia answered. “Where do you think?”

Oh. Sky was a lot easier to contact than she’d thought. “Um, Xia–” she said, casting about for a gentle way to sever ties with the other woman.

“I think my girlfriend knows we did it,” Xia said.

Sky choked. “Girlfriend? You have a girlfriend?” She wasn’t sure if she was disgusted or reassured that Xia had screwed up just as badly as she had.

Meanwhile, Veronica was calling a realtor. “I don’t think I can live here anymore,” she said. “You kids are all grown up now, and you don’t have to follow me. I promise to stay in touch.”

But of course the Samples weren’t going to let her move out on her own at her age. Veronica had cared for her children all her life with the same passion she dedicated to everything she did. Not only could Sky and her brothers not bear to think of leaving her alone, it would just make the hole Charles had left twice as big.

Compared to that, a house was nothing.

Sky took responsibility for house hunting with her mother, and she guided them toward a sprawling estate a bit closer in to town — Arbor Estate.

It featured an arboretum for Hunter’s business and plenty of upscale space for everyone else. Sky thought it suited her image as an up-and-coming musical star.

Before they knew it, everything was packed and ready to go. It was Veronica who lingered longest to say goodbye to the last house Charles would ever live in.

Moving day was gray and rainy.

The entire family was eager to get inside.

Sky was already making plans to remodel the interior. All the wood was growing shabby. She wanted something a bit more contemporary, colorful, and maybe a bit of industrial.

The first thing Veronica did was upgrade the fireplace. She didn’t want that kind of fire hazard near her grandson.

Plus, the fire was entrancing on such a chilly early Spring day. Then again, fire was always entrancing to Veronica.

In the new warm living room, Sky took time to play with Dylan and help him adult to his new home.

He was such a determined little fellow, quiet and focused.

Meanwhile, Leah caught sight of someone lingering at the gates of the estate and went to investigate.

“We just moved in,” she said cautiously. “Can I help you?” The stranger certainly didn’t LOOK threatening.

In fact, she looked, well…. Leah’s breath caught. She had never been so captivated by the gaze of another woman.

“I’m Plum Marmalade,” the stranger said. She searched Leah’s face for recognition. “Do you life with Sky Sample?”

“I’m her fiancee,” Leah said firmly. “We haven’t set a date to get married, but it will be soon.”

“Oh, I didn’t know she was engaged!” Plum said, her voice distraught. “I don’t want to upset you, but I think there might be something going on between my girlfriend Xia and Sky. I pay the phone bill, and there have been a bunch of phone calls from Xia’s phone to Sky’s number in the last few weeks. I asked her about it, and she wouldn’t give me an answer. I’m not sure what I was looking to find by coming here. I just wanted to get an idea of what’s going on.”

Leah listened grimly, her eyes flashing. “Sky wouldn’t do anything inappropriate,” she said, hoping her certainty would convince both of them. “She does a lot of publicity work for our band, Ghost Writer. It’s probably something to do with business.”

Plum’s eyes were big and earnest, and Leah felt herself sinking into them. “You really believe that?”

That’s how the conversation started, but it just kept on going. Leah was sure she had never met anyone as easy to talk to as Plum. It was like their souls were bared to each other, and they knew each other’s secrets without asking. The rain stopped, and the first pinks of dawn began to creep over the horizon.
“Oh, my!” Leah cried when she realized how long they’d been standing there. “Sky and Dylan will be worried about me.”
“I need to get home,” Plum said. “Please call me.”
They hugged impulsively before they said goodbye.


Plum and Muscadine Marmalade showed up the evening that the Samples moved to the new lot. As soon as they met, Leah started rolling wishes for Plum. They’re both Hopeless Romantics. That scene was where I realized that Leah and Sky were in really serious trouble.

I warned you that the farm house didn’t last long. Here’s where I gave up on the frustrating landscaping and moved. I like the new lot, but it was made with a lot of fiddly floor elevation tricks. Mostly, it’s fine, but I think the next house they live in will be as simple as possible.

5.18 Murphy’s Law

Enigma had been spending a lot of time with her pack lately, and she seemed to be out of sorts. This culminated in a rather unexpected mess on the foyer floor.

Hunter named the puppies, both male, Mystery (in front) and Riddle (in back). It seemed appropriate. Nobody had even realized she was pregnant.

Dylan’s first word was,”Exercise!” Wasn’t he a bit of a prodigy? Well, he got most of the syllables at least.

Surrounded by family, Dylan never had to feel lonely. Maybe he was just a little bit spoiled. But, really, how could so much love be a bad thing?

One evening, Forest stepped out of a satellite office and found red and blue lights waiting for him.

He didn’t bother to run, and it wouldn’t have helped anyway.

“Forest Sample?” the young female police officer bellowed from the car. “Please come down to the precinct. We have a few questions to ask you.”

Avalon’s Finest was run out of the old medieval debtor’s prison, which made it a terribly imposing place to conduct interrogations.

“Police Chief William Pierce is waiting for you,” the officer reported.

Forest steepled his fingers and smiled. “Good. I have a few questions for him, too.”

And that is how Avalon Law Enforcement gained a paid informant who worked closely with the Emperor of Evil.

Veronica was still struggling, though she wasn’t about to complain about it. She kept herself busy with her inventions.

Hunter spent a lot of time with Enigma and the puppies.

Eliana wasn’t returning his calls, and he was trying not to worry.

Sky was hanging on Leah’s every word. She was even cleaning around the house.

She also spent a lot of time with Dylan. 

For all that Sky worked harder than she ever had to make Leah comfortable, she seemed to stiffen at Leah’s advances. Something was clearly wrong, but Leah assumed it was related to Sky’s grief for her father and tried to give her space.

Then in the middle of the night, Sky was up with vicious nausea.

It couldn’t possibly be. Fate wouldn’t be that cruel.

Of course it would.


Show of hands: Who saw that coming? Poor Sky.

I really wanted to name one of the puppies Puzzle. It would fit with the naming theme. But we have enough pet/sim confusion in this town already!

I’m back to playing the Samples and am maybe 6 posts behind. The puppies haven’t grown up yet, and I am dying to see what they will look like. I bred Enigma to MacDuff Voss, who is a big fluffy simbin dog. I can’t resist playing with how the genetics of the carefully crafted sims and pets pass down.

Oh yeah, and I finally updated the Story So Far page to include Charles’s life. I need to start a section for Sky, but I need to get a good pic for it, and I foolishly used the portraits generated by uploading to the Exchange.

5.17 Crashing

With Charles gone, Veronica tossed and turned in her empty bed. She would wander half-awake in the wee hours of the morning as if looking for something.

It wasn’t long before she realized she couldn’t continue on as if Charles were there. She needed to change her surroundings. So she packed up a few of her bedroom necessities and assembled their adventuring yurt in the yard. It was warm and comfortable in all weather, and she had often slept alone while they traveled. Waking up alone in the yurt wouldn’t carry that sense of wrongness that caused panic and confusion her her bedroom.

Enigma knocked down snowmen in the yard.

Hunter went to visit Eliana, who had been withdrawn since she was fired by Sean Flynn.

Eliana answered the door, but he could hear her father talking in the background.

“Thanks for coming over,” Eliana sniffled. “I know I’m not very good company.”

“I don’t understand,” Hunter said honestly. “Is this really all about being laid off? It wasn’t even that great a job. You can do better. I know it.”

“You’re such a great friend,” Eliana said. Hunter noticed the word ‘friend’ immediately. “It’s rough to be fired and not know why, you know? But really it’s that my dad is so upset about the whole thing. He keeps asking me what I did to make Mr. Flynn angry, and I just don’t know!”

Hunter felt a twinge of guilt. He knew he’d set the events in motion that led her to be fired, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell her that yet. “Eliana,” he said. “I’m worried about you. Would you ever consider moving out? You’d be welcome to crash at my place until you get on your feet.”

Eliana’s eyes widened. “Wow, that’s so kind,” she said. “But I couldn’t consider it. I know Dad wants me to stay here. Moving out would make him even angrier!”

There was something seriously wrong with this household. Hunter needed to know more before he took action.

Forest spent most of his time in his room these days, researching something in musty old tomes.

He didn’t talk to his family much, but it was clear he was very concerned about something.

Sky was inconsolable.

Her father was gone, and she had never felt so alone. Not only had Charles been the quiet support that held her up during times of stress, he was the only other being she knew with their curious… condition.

Leah tried to be supportive, but Dylan was the light of her life and required constant attention.

Leah had always liked Charles, but he was not her father. She and Sky struggled to talk about Sky’s grief.

Sky had never felt so isolated from her family. They were a loud group with intricately tangled lives, but somehow they were all grieving separately.
Without her to promote Ghostwriter, business for the band waned. She took to soliciting solo gigs in some of the local bars to get out of the house.

On this night, she provided live entertainment at The Garden Gnome pub.

The place wasn’t exactly packed, but business was good enough. They liked her at the Garden Gnome.

As she headed to the bathroom after her last set, she ran into an old classmate from high school, Xia Wu.

Xia had been a bit of an ugly duckling in school, but she had certainly grown up well. And confident.

She and Sky stood for a moment and watched each other. The moment dragged a bit longer than was really polite.

Sky struggled to find a way to recover from the awkwardness. “Hey,” she said. “We ought to catch up on our lives since graduation! Come on. I’ll buy you a drink.”

Xia smiled warmly. “If you’re buying? Absolutely!”

The conversation ran long, from one drink to two.

Shy had never paid much attention to Xia at school, but it appeared that Xia had been paying attention to her. Xia knew everything about Ghostwriter, too.

“I just love to dance,” Xia said as she set her empty glass on the bar. “Do you have to head home now, or would you — ah — like to dance with me?”

Sky followed her to the dance floor

At home, Leah began to tidy up Charles and Veronica’s unused bedroom.

She found the ballerina music box that had been Charles’s first gift to Veronica and wound it up.

She’d heard the story of how Charles had found it in France and brought it home to give to his true love. Leah loved it. Her parents-in-law were such soulmates.

The music was a haunting love song that made Leah fantasize of fairytales and magical romance. She and Sky had that kind of connection, didn’t they? Perhaps not quite so perfect, but they had the rest of their lives to make it that way.


Xia was a great dancer, and she was starting to give Sky a look that made her heart pound. Sky was pretty sure she was looking back, and she knew she wasn’t supposed to. She needed to say goodbye and walk away.

Instead, the next song was slow and sultry. She and Xia stepped together and touched each other for the first time.

“It’s not too much?” Xia asked.

“No,” Sky whispered softly.

She wasn’t sure she had never felt this way, and she knew she shouldn’t be feeling it now.

“You know,” Xia whispered as they danced cheek to cheek, “I had the biggest crush on you in high school. I used to write you love letters and then never send them.”

“Really?” Sky was shocked. “You felt that way about me?”

Leah had been the only girl she’d ever realized noticed her. Some part of her was still the lonely, ostracized ghost girl from Sunset Valley.

“Of course!” Xia said. “You were so confident and beautiful. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.”

And then Sky completely lost control of the situation.

She had no idea who kissed whom. The moment just felt right, and they fit together as if made to hold each other.

Once it began, it seemed as if there were no way to stop.

When they were finished, all they could do was hold each other breathlessly. Xia was glowing.

Sky felt light, as if some great weight were lifted from her shoulders. All the tension and grief seemed like something she could live with.

And then the weight came crashing back down on her.

What had she done?


Back from a long hiatus!

Don’t be too hard on Sky. We all saw her traits, much less her LTW. She’s been thrust much too quickly into a stable home life she wasn’t ready for.

I loved the Sultan’s Tabernacle adventure gear, but the !@#$ thing is two stories tall, which makes it impossible to use as an adventuring tent. Good going, EA. I liked the idea of Veronica sleeping in it now. Plus it gives great sleep moodlets.

5.16 Sweet Chariot

“Forest.” Hunter slid into the seat next to his brother, looking troubled.

“I’m here,” Forest said.

“I just got off the phone with Eliana,” Hunter said. “She says her boss called her up right before work and laid her off with no explanation. Her dad is furious, and she’s really upset.”

So at least part of his plan had worked. “That sounds about right,” Forest said.

“You did that, didn’t you?” Hunter asked.

“I might have had something to do with it,” Forest admitted.

Hunter looked earnestly at his brother. “Was she in danger? I hate seeing her so upset, but if it was for her own good….”

“I think it is better for her to get as far away from that job as possible,” Forest said. “I don’t know what was going on, but I’m sure it wasn’t good for her.”

Hunter sighed. “Thanks, big brother.”

“I’d say it was no big deal,” Forest said bleakly, “but the whole thing was actually a pain in the ass.”

Hunter turned and really looked at Forest for the first time and was suddenly worried. “Are you all right? You look like you might be getting sick.”

Forest was suddenly torn. Hunter was such a simple spirit, and he needed to be protected from Forest’s life. But for the first time, Forest wasn’t even sure he could protect himself, much less Hunter. He had never asked anyone for help, not even his family, but now he really needed it.

Forest looked down at his empty plate. He thought of Ali, who might not be gone if he had confided in her even a little bit. He took a deep breath to try to explain.

Only a gurgling sound came out.

What had Flynn done to him?

He couldn’t describe what had happened last night. He couldn’t ask Hunter for help.

“I think I need to lie down,” he finally managed. He slipped off the barstool and fled downstairs to his bedroom.

Later that afternoon, Charles’s beloved cat Ghost said his final goodbye.

And little Dylan had his first birthday.

All that emotion was enough to make Charles restless, and he persuaded Veronica to go with him on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Egypt.

They got some much-needed time together.

And some even more needed peace and quiet.

And the spare time to focus on some important hobbies they hadn’t been getting enough of.

Then Veronica sent Charles off to satisfy his explorer blood.

While he was gone, Veronica discovered that news of her work in spiritism had spread all over the globe. Travelers from their camp were asking for her autograph.

Of of her admirers, a local named Tahiya, ended up becoming a pretty good friend.

They spent a lot of time playing games and talking.

And of course, she had enough pictures of Dylan to show everyone in town.

Charles’s adventures were a lot of work, sometimes grueling work.

And he never told Veronica the just how much danger he found there.

She would only have worried.

He might have felt his age in France, but not here. Here he was ready to take on the world.

Charles reached the end of his vacation feeling that he had at last found what he was looking for. He hadn’t even realized he was looking for something in particular before now. It was hard to put into words, but the best way he could describe it was that he had uncovered secret beauty that had been lost for thousands of years, and he would keep it with him wherever he went next. That granted these lost places another lease on immortality.

He returned from the tombs in high spirits, and for their last night in Egypt, he organized the explorers in the camp for a rousing battle of water balloons.

The laughter and companionship seemed like just the right way to say goodbye.

While Charles and Veronica were gone, Dylan learned his first word, “dumbbell.” Leah didn’t know what he meant by that either.

Forest spent most of his time in his room working tirelessly on some project he wouldn’t talk to his family about.

Eliana took Hunter home to introduce to her family.

The morning after Charles and Veronica returned, Dylan was up howling in the wee hours of the morning.

Sky and Leah held each other tight, longing for just a little bit more sleep.

So Charles slipped downstairs to give his little man some attention.

He felt so delighted with everything, he was floating off the ground the way he used to do when he was a teenager — before he’d gotten better at passing for a normal human.

Before the sun game up was the best time to fish, so he left Dylan with his toys where he could check on him through the window and slipped out to see what he could catch in the icy water.

He’d done this a thousand times before in dozens of different places, but he couldn’t recall ever feeling so content before.

Then he just knew it was time. He packed up his fishing rod.

And wandered into the house. It was suddenly very important that he see Veronica, and he knew he didn’t have much time.

He wasn’t quite fast enough. As he stood at the foot of the stairs on his way to their bedroom, the Netherworld called to him.

And this time he had to go.

Veronica slept on and dreamed sweet dreams.

When she woke up, Charles wasn’t there. It was strange but not unheard of.

So the Samples carried on their routine through the morning before Veronica decided to go looking for her husband.

It didn’t take her long to find him.

The buried Charles’s ashes in the family cemetery with his ancestors.

He may have been one of the most successful members of his family, but he hated fancy monuments. His marker was small and modest, nestled in the earth.

The Samples would never be the same without him.

Goodbye, old friend.


Sob. Well, we knew it had to happen sometime.

Charles got sucked back to the Netherworld at the age of 92 with Lifetime Happiness of 370,000. Yes, my friends, that’s THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THOUSAND.

He almost didn’t finish his lifetime wish. I got tired of going on vacation, and he had one more trip to finish to get the Visa 3 in Egypt. He needed an extra trip there because he didn’t get some Visa points that he should have gotten when he was a teenager traveling with Lance.

This trip was filled with entirely unnecessary drama. I sent him for 8 days, since that should have been more than enough for him to get the points he needed. He spent four of them in one really fun enormous tomb. Then he got to the end of the tomb, and the OPPORTUNITY GLITCHED OUT. He couldn’t return the relic to the townie to collect the enormous pile of Visa points it was worth. Apparently, there is a glitch where if a townie gives you an adventure and then dies before it’s completed, the game doesn’t always assign the opportunity to a new townie. This tomb was the end of a fairly long quest chain that started on Charles’s last trip to Egypt. Apparently EA StoryProgression killed the relevant townie in the interval. I tried everything, and there didn’t seem to be any way to fix it. I still have the stupid relic (Relic of Eternity I think), and you can’t even sell it for money. Argh.

So now he had four days left to get the points he needed, and time was very tight. I sent him on the Adventure chain for the Tomb of Queen Hapshepsut, which is supposed to be pretty cool. But before he even got into the tomb, he was given a task to take a portrait of a townie, and I couldn’t get it to register as a portrait. He had a camera, and he’d ask the girl to pose, but when he took the picture it was listed as being something near her — the fountain, the shopping area, a group of people standing in the background, whatever. I read up on Photography and couldn’t figure THAT out. Maybe he needed to have the skill??

Now we had MORE time lost. I gave up exploring tombs and sent him on the dumb adventures to pick up minerals and deliver messages to people. He can do that very fast because he can teleport. It still looked like he might not get enough Visa points, and while I’d had a fantastic time exploring that tomb for the glitched Adventure, I am really done with World Adventures and REALLY didn’t want to take another trip. Besides that, Charles was 90, and I didn’t want to assume he’d get another chance.

He got to the Visa point total halfway through his last day in Egypt. His Lifetime Wish was complete. I heaved a huge sigh of relief and sent him to base camp for a water balloon fight he’d been wishing for.

And then he really did die before he was eligible to travel again.

92 is the exact age I have my Sim lifetime set to. I had to use Twallan’s SP to set Charles to age again because EA in its infinite wisdom decided that playable ghosts should be immortal. Apparently SP sends ghosts back to the Netherworld the *instant* the lifespan runs out rather than just giving them a chance of death every day like mortal sims.

Whatever the case, he might have died “young,” but I think he doubled his actual life lived with all the travel, so he doesn’t have much complaints. The Seasoned Traveler LTW is one of the highest-point ones in the game — 60k — so I was going to try to see if I could get him to 300k points. Then he spent his last two trips rolling absolutely insanely high-point wishes. He had at least 4 1500-point wishes to defeat mummies who were attacking him anyway. Something like *12k* to reach Visa Level 3, which he had to do anyway. Etc. So he was over 300k before he even reached his lifetime wish.

Charles has been my favorite sim so far. I guess it seems only right that he died the happiest.

However, playable ghosts carry their gravestones with them, so they get the gravestone of someone with 0 happiness points. I think Charles would have appreciated the modesty.

5.15 Real Power

“I received your message,” Sean Flynn said. “What do you know that is so secret it can’t be discussed at the lair?

He was terrifying when he looked like that. Forest could imagine why Eliana had screamed.

Well, he had come too far to turn back now. “There seems to be a problem with your new assistant,” Forest said.

Flynn suddenly looked very interested. “Ms. Baerwyn? What kind of problem?”

Forest reached into his jacket. It was now or never. “My kind of problem,” he said, and at the same moment he whipped the voodoo doll out of his pocket.

Flynn was caught completely by surprise. The power struck him full in the chest, knocking him off balance.

It had worked! Forest ears were singing with elation.

“You’re going to let Eliana Baerwyn go,” Forest said. “And leave her alone. She’s not the kind of assistant that is good for the Organization.”

Flynn was looking past Forest, his eyes unfocused. “I see,” he said quietly.

Then, in a motion so fast that Forest could not even see it, Flynn reached up and caught Forest’s head. Elation froze to terror. Forest tried to step back, but Flynn’s grip was like cold iron.

He knew to struggle this time, but it was no use.

This time, Forest did not pass out, but he wished he had.

Through the haze of pain, he could feel Flynn draining something from him that was more than just his blood. Flynn was taking a little of something far more precious — Forest’s ability to resist. By some dark power beyond Forest’s understanding, Flynn was binding Forest’s will to his own and building him into a minion who would obey.

When he was finished, Flynn gazed down at Forest, caressing the line of Forest’s jaw with his thumb. Then he let his fingers trail down Forest’s throat to touch the wound that was already closing. The only sound was the rasp of Forest’s breathing. Flynn, Forest realized, did not breathe.

“You have real power,” Flynn said at last, his tone approving. “Much more than I expected.

“I think you are right. It will take a lot of time to make Ms. Baerwyn useful to me. You are useful right now.

“Consider yourself promoted.”

With a smile, Flynn released Forest. He turned and walked away without looking back.

Forest sank to his knees in the snow, trembling. For the first time in his life, he was one thing he had sworn not to be.

He was helpless.

5.14 What Price

Hunter took a deep breath. “Forest, I need to ask you something.”

Forest was dragged out of a complicated calculation about the expected return and feasibility of moving into a new method of black market distribution. “Huh? Sure.”

“I don’t know how to say this,” Hunter began awkwardly, “but I’ve been doing some reading at the spiritualist shop. I know you’re into some serious stuff.”

Forest started to think of how he could deny any accusation of wrongdoing. Better to let Hunter play his hand. He shrugged and smiled. “I try to keep my hands in a lot of stuff.”

“You might be the only person who can help,” Hunter said.

Forest was stunned. Help? This wasn’t where he expected the conversation to go at all. “Tell me,” he said.

“There’s this girl. Eliana. She was behind us in high school. I went over to see her last night, and…”

Out poured the description of the frightening stranger and Eliana’s contradictory behavior. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m sure it’s something supernatural. I can’t describe what it was like to be around this guy, and his eyes–“

Forest knew those eyes. Hunter didn’t need to describe them. “I’ll do what I can,” Forest said quickly.

“Thank you,” Hunter said breathlessly. “I know you’re involved in some stuff you don’t want to talk about, but do you have any idea what happened there? Is Eliana in any danger?”

Forest offered up his best comforting smile. “I’ll see what I can find out,” he said, “but you shouldn’t let yourself worry too much. She’s probably OK.”

Hunter nodded. “Let me know if you learn anything.”

“Sure,” Forest said. “Thanks.”

“For what?” Hunter asked, perplexed.

Forest kept his face unreadable. “For coming to me.”

“You’re my brother, Forest,” Hunter replied. “I trust you.”

When Hunter had gone, Forest sat back to think.

So Hunter was sweet on Eliana Baerwyn, Sean Flynn’s new personal assistant.

Flynn had hired Eliana last month, and it was obvious there was some kind of back room dealing going on, though Forest didn’t know what it was. Eliana’s father, Robbin Baerwyn, had turned up on business expenses on a regular basis. He and Flynn had some kind of pay-for-favors thing going on. But whatever deal had involved Eliana was much bigger. Now Valerie Ursine-Mentary, one of Flynn’s high-ranked minions, was meeting with Robbin regularly.

All of this would be none of Forest’s business, except for Hunter.

If there was one guy who really believed that blood was thicker than water, it was Hunter. He wasn’t stupid, but he trusted Forest anyway, and he chose not to ask uncomfortable questions. 
Forest set his coffee mug down on the table so gently that it made no sound. Being too interested in someone Flynn found interesting was dangerous. Hunter was the kind of white knight who just might try to ride in and get himself badly hurt. Forest would have to find some way to direct his brother’s attention someplace safer.

The next day was Snowflake Day. With a hungry baby living with them, half the household was up at dawn to the sun rise over the glittering snow. Not a bad day for a holiday.

Enigma was up with the sun to attend to her newly-built pack of local dogs.

There were citizens to protect, small creatures to hunt, and newspapers to destroy.

The whole Sample family, human and canine, packed themselves up for a day at Avalon Festival Grounds. Ghostwriter planned a holiday performance that was not to be missed.

Charles was eager to show his baby grandson the celebration. Veronica had some kind of tournament she wanted to compete in.

Everyone had their own kind of fun in mind for the afternoon, even Enigma.

Adam was late, so Sky and Leah got started on duo music without him.

Forest listened with half an ear. He was still mulling the problem of Hunter over in his mind.
So when he looked up from his phone, he was caught completely by surprise.
“Uh, hi. I didn’t mean to surprise you. I was just trying to get to… the concessions…”
There had to be something he could say that would evoke some tenderness from her. “It’s good to see you,” he managed.
There was pity in Ali’s eyes. “Forest….”
But her attention had already left him.

“Adam!” she said. “I heard you were going to perform today. I can’t wait to hear you play!”

Oh. That’s why she was here. Forest should have guessed.

Forest stepped back silently as his rival drew near.

“I haven’t seen you since high school,” Adam said. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“I took a job as an assistant at Mighty Pen Monastery,” Ali said. “The hours were really long. I have more time now. I was thinking maybe we could take some time to, you know, talk again.”

“You want to talk?” Adam demanded. “After I called you every night for weeks, and you refused to answer?”
“I’m sorry, Adam,” Ali begged. “I never meant to hurt you. It was complicated.”

“If it was complicated, YOU made it that way!” Adam shouted. “You were everything to me, and I never even got to find out what drove you away. If you wanted to talk, you missed your chance!”

“Adam, I…” Ali almost whispered.

“I came here to make music,” Adam said. “Maybe you should go home.”

Ali hung her head, and Forest could see the tears drip twinkle as the fell into the snow.

Adam turned and walked away. He didn’t even look in her direction as he set up his drums.
Ali stayed for the whole performance. She watched Adam, and Forest watched her. 

It gave him a lot of time to think, mostly about love — the joy and pain and ecstasy that it caused, the sacrifices one felt compelled to make for it.

When he looked at Ali, he felt like his heart would explode. If he never had her again, at least she had once belonged to him, and he would never forget.

And Adam. It was for this imperceptive fool that Ali had broken Forest’s spell. If Adam continued to fail to appreciate Ali now that she was free, did Forest have an opening to lure her back of her own free will? So many variables.

At the other end of the festival grounds, there was more for Forest to consider.

For Hunter and Eliana, the rest of the world might as well not exist. They were so unconsciously beautiful together. And they might not know it themselves, but they were already deeply in love.

Forest shoved his hands into his pockets. He knew what he had to do. He made quick goodbyes to his family and headed home to prepare.


Wow, when Adam walked onto the lot, Ali tried to talk to him, and he immediately started shouting at her. He even slapped her! I was so taken by surprise that I was only able to get a snap of the head-spinny aftermath.

That is one raw, heartbroken boy.