One afternoon, while she was placing some of her diving discoveries for sale at the consignment store, Vickie heard a familiar voice call her name. “Victoria Sample, is that you?”
She turned around to find Danial Ibari.
“There you are!” he exclaimed when their eyes met. “How the heck are you? It’s been too long.”
Vickie took a half-step back. Was this really Danial. He was grinning from ear to ear. When they’d last spoken, he was a shell of a man after his wife Sandra died. She’d been giving him space. “Wow,” she managed. “You look amazing.”
“It’s great to hear that because I feel amazing,” Danial said. “Life is really looking up. I still miss Sasha, but there’s so much living still to do.”
“I can’t tell you how glad I am to hear that,” Vickie said. “I was really worried about you. You deserve the very best in life.”
She remembered how Danial had felt crying on her shoulder as she held him at Sasha’s funeral. They’d really had a connection then. Then she’d let Roderick monopolize her time. What a mistake that turned out to be.
“You were with me when I hit bottom,” Danial said. “I never got a chance to thank you.”
Vickie flushed. “I didn’t think about it that way,” she said. “You’re just… you’re a great guy, Danial.”
“I know you understand that part of me died with Sasha. I feel like I’m on my second life now. I have my beautiful daughter with Sasha. You have to meet her, Vickie! And now I’m getting married again!”
“I’m so glad–” Vickie began. “You’re what?”
“I know it’s kind of sudden,” Danial said. His eyes were alight, and the words came out in a rush. “I met Devon Marmalade right after my little girl was born, and we just clicked. She has a huge family, and they adopted me. It’s like all the loneliness was the price I had to pay for this moment.”
“Wow…” Vickie said. “I’m so happy for you.”
After she escaped from the consignment store, Vickie spent the rest of the afternoon with Connery. At least their love for each other was simple and easy to understand.
“You don’t think I missed out with Danial, do you boy? Of course not! I don’t need a guy right now. When I want a boyfriend, there are plenty of single guys out there to find.”
Connery was very supportive.
Was she ready, though? Vickie could never really remember feeling lonely. Attention from boys always ended up awkward. They seemed to want something she couldn’t give. But she could imagine what it would be like to have a partner — a real partner — and it was nice. It just seemed like such a remote fantasy.
The next day dawned bright and beautiful.
“When is the last time I took you out sailing?” she asked Andria.
“I think the last time was never,” Andria said.
“Well, that’s a mistake I plan to fix right now,” Vickie said. “Bring your fishing rods. There’s a lot more I want to learn.”
Edmund rang the doorbell at Marisela’s Flynn’s house and tapped his foot as he waited. She had invited him here, but he couldn’t help feeling nervous anyway.
The door opened, and a scowling man walked out onto the front step. He didn’t say anything.
“I’m looking for… Marisela?” Edmund said nervously.
The man nodded his head and stepped aside.
“Edmund!” Marisela said. “I’m so glad you could come! I see you met my partner Brock.”
Edmund’s eyes darted over to Brock, looming at them just out of reach. “I guess I have now,” he said.
“Things happened so fast when you… turned me back,” Marisela said. “I didn’t really thank you the way I should have.”
“The look on your face was all the thanks I needed,” Edmund said. “The truth is that I didn’t know if I could do it. The Fae Council didn’t know if it could be done. The whole thing might have come to nothing. I hope I could have avoided hurting you.”
“I was ready to take the risk,” Marisela said. “You’re the first sim who ever tried to release me from my undead cage.”
“Was it really a cage to you?” Edmund asked. “I have revived other vampires now, and they all seem relieved. I did not expect that.” He didn’t exactly say that he had been reviving them without their consent, but that understanding hung between them.
“You don’t know what it feels like to be a creature of the night,” Marisela said. Her face looked haunted.” Old sims who sought it out for immortality have had time to regret. I had given up hope.”
“I’m forever grateful for your trust,” Edmund said. “And, uh, Brock, can I help you?”
Brock pushed his way into the conversation. “Hey, did you hear the one about the sim who went to the park and put his car in his pocket?” he rumbled.
“It’s… a joke?” Edmund said.
“Oh dear,” Marisela said. “Don’t let my husband bother you. He has a strange sense of humor.”
“No, really,” Brock insisted. “I have a million of ’em.”
Edmund couldn’t remember when he’d laughed so hard. Some of it was relief, but the guy really was funny. “You’re a great guy, Brock,” he said.
“Because of you, we’re going to have a baby!” Marisela said. “We’ve wanted a family for so long. Please come visit when she’s born. If you’re willing, we’d like you to be our child’s godfather.”
“Wow,” Edmund said. “I’d be honored.”
[Brock’s face! He looked so scary, but all he wanted to do was tell jokes.]
After their house was destroyed, Manisha and her husband Ash had a messy divorce. They now shared custody of their adopted daughter and lived on opposite sides of Avalon — as far apart as they could manage on the island. Manisha reverted to her maiden name of Kapoor.
Ash Sample-Baerwyn wasn’t as easy to track down as she has expected. He had an active Internet life of conspiracy theories about asteroid threats, but when he left his house, his behavior was fairly random.
On evening after work, Gamora finally found him out dancing at a local beach club.
He and his date seemed to be getting on well, and that was inconvenient.
Gamora needed to get rid of her, and she wasn’t entirely sure what to do about it. While she was scheming, Ash’s date seemed to remember something and dashed away.
Well, that was much more convenient.
She remembered the disguise as if she’d used it yesterday. It was strange to pull this identity back on. She’d never expected to use it again.
“Mr. Sample-Baerwyn!” she called out. “I’m so surprised to see you here!”
Ash turned and stared at her. “Wow,” he said. “You’re the one who started it all. Where did you disappear to? What is your name?”
“I found your asteroid apocalypse page online,” Gamora said. “I never imaged so many people would believe that an asteroid was coming to destroy our planet!”
“You opened my eyes,” Ash said. “Did you know that my house was destroyed by a meteor a few days after I spoke to you?”
Gamora managed a believable gasp. “Oh no! Was everyone all right?”
“Nobody was injured,” he said. “I knew then that we are all doomed. We have to enjoy our last days as much as we can, and to heck with the future.”
Yup… that’s definitely how he ended up divorced.
Gamora grimaced. “Well, about that….” she said.
Ash looked alarmed. “Is it coming?” he demanded. “What do you know?”
She looked down and cranked up her pheromone release as much ash she could. Breathe out, breathe in, hope he would be suggestible enough…. “The asteroid has changed course. We’re all saved.”
“What!” Ash said. “How could that happen? We’re all doomed!”
“It’s the new Astrophysics research facility,” Gamora said. “Did you hear about it?”
“That place?” he said. “I heard about it. Great big deep space telescope by the science facility. Built from a grant from some rich science snob named Sample. We’re probably related. What about it?”
“It was founded because astrophysicists read your website,” Gamora said. “They believed you and went looking for a way to solve the planet. A new probe just reached the asteroid and pushed it on a course to the sun instead.”
“You’re a hero, Mr. Sample-Baerwyn.”
Ash was dumbfounded. “You. What. That can’t be right.”
“It is! You saved the planet! If you don’t believe me, send your followers to read the records at the Astrophysics lab.” If they looked, and Gamora wasn’t entirely sure they would, she’d left plenty of clues for good conspiracy-theorists to find.
“We’re not all going to die,” he said mechanically.
“We’re not going to die,” Gamora repeated. “Thank you for everything you’ve done. You gave us hope again.”
Ash blinked, as if the entire world was too confusing for him to understand anymore. “My wife and daughter…” he murmured.
“You should give them a call, Mr. Sample-Baerwyn,” Gamora said. “I’m sure they want to hear from you.”
“But, who are you?” Ash asked again.
“Don’t worry about me,” Gamora said. “I’m nobody. Just a concerned astrophysicist.”
Woo, this one wasn’t easy to write either, but a lot happened!
If anyone is curious about the Flynns….