Tag Archive | hunter

5.41 Being Grown Up

Sawyer spent so most of his time in a world of his own that Sky couldn’t help but worry about him. She spent her life in the public eye, and as he grew older, he would have to deal with her growing fame even if he didn’t want it himself. Also, deep down inside, she couldn’t quite believe that he would want to spend so much time alone if he could see how wonderful it was to spend time with other people

That’s how she talked the family into throwing a huge party for Sawyer’s birthday.

The guest list was too big for the Sample estate, so they decided to close the Charles Sample Sim Fu Academy for the day. The family still owned the academy, though Charles named other masters to take over the responsibility of his martial art.

First to arrive was Xia’s older brother, Jian Wu.

With him was his new wife, Dragonwife, who he wanted to introduce to his family and in-laws.

Also among the guests was Raquel Mentary-Sword, who was now one of the academy’s Sim Fu masters.

Xia did the honors and brought the birthday boy to the party.

He then found a quiet corner and threw a fit if anyone tried to make him come out and talk to people.

At least he had his cow toy that his great grandmother Zahra had made for Charles a long time ago. He liked the bolts and screws on it.

Hunter showed up needing a shower. Again.

“What’s with this?” Xia demanded. “I didn’t think gardening involved so much self-immolation.”

Hunter blushed, but he wouldn’t tell her what the problem was.

Xia and Dragonwife really hit it off.

They spent a lot of time talking about Jian behind his back. Especially his rocky relationship with his baby mama, Brenna Ursine-Sample.

The party was a big success.

Everyone had a great time.

Even Sawyer, provided nobody asked him to join in. Trying to pull him into the noise and the crowd made him very upset, but he kept himself happy if everyone left him alone.

The afternoon wore on.

And someone else showed up.

Sky was spending so much time with Sawyer, trying to encourage him to have fun, that it was quite a while before she noticed someone looking at her.

“L-Leah!” Sky stammered.

“I got your invitation,” she said.

“Thank you for coming. Um– you’re just in time for cake!”

She gathered Sawyer into her arms and hurried upstairs to escape.

 

While the rest of the family was enjoying the cake,

Sky pulled Hunter outside to pour out her soul. “Everything I try to say to her her is wrong! What do I do?

Hunter thought about it for a while. “Have you tried not talking at all? Just listening?”

“Of course I–!” Sky began. Then, more quietly, “Maybe I’ll try that.”

After she made sure everyone had a slice of cake, Sky took a deep breath and headed downstairs to face the music.

Dragonwife was trying to start a fight with Hunter, though Hunter hadn’t noticed yet.

Leah was trying not to pay too much attention to her brother Raen macking on his husband, Mitchell Bachelor Mai.

“Um, hi,” Sky said. “We always invite you, but I didn’t expect you to come.”

“Yeah, I know I surprised you,” Leah said. “I think we should talk.”

“I– I can listen,” Sky said, knowing she probably wasn’t going to like what she heard. “Is here the right place? Should we go someplace more private.”

Leah shrugged. “I don’t think it matters where I say it.”

“You and I had something amazing,” Leah said. “You threw it all away. I don’t think I can ever forgive you for that.”

Sky gulped. “I know,” she said.

Leah nodded to Xia, who was dancing unconvincingly with Jian, watching Sky intently over his shoulder. “I guess it helps to know that you destroyed our marriage for more than just a one night fling. At least she was someone important. I hope she’s making you happy.”

Sky opened her mouth to protest that she and Xia weren’t really an item. Then she closed it. That was unfair, and untrue. She’d been with Xia now almost as long as she’d been with Leah. And yes, she was happy, but there are times when agreeing with someone is the wrong thing to do. She just nodded.

Leah dropped her eyes. “This didn’t go the way I was planning. I guess I still have issues. What I wanted to say is that I want to bury the hatchet. We can’t get out of each other’s lives. Dylan’s too important. If we can’t be friends, I’d at least like to try to not be enemies.”

Sky’s eyes filled with tears. For a split second, she had to fight the impulse to take Leah in her arms. “Yeah,” she said. “We really did have something amazing. Please let’s not fight anymore.”

They settled for an exchange of tear-filled smiles, and Leah promised to come the next time Sky invited her to something. She was a bit more vague about inviting Sky to Marmalade events. Sky wasn’t sure, but she thought there was an issue with Plum. Maybe Plum wasn’t ready to be so forgiving to Xia.

Sky waved goodbye to Leah as she left, and Xia almost pounced her. “You look like you’re all in once piece,” she said. “What happened?”

Sky smiled weakly. “I think we’re both trying to grow up a little bit,” she said.

Xia laughed. “Who wants to grow up? Now is the time to party!” She grabbed Sky and started to bust a move.

It helped. Xia knew how to make Sky relax.

Meanwhile, Eliana found Sawyer dancing alone in an empty practice room. “Hey there,” she said kindly. “Would you like some company?”

Sawyer tossed his curls and glared at her. “I came out here so I could have less company,” he said. “Why does everyone always tell me I should be lonely? What’s wrong with you normals?”

Eliana blanched. “Sorry!” she said. “I’ll just be on my way.”

———-

So the last toddler is done. This is where Sawyer picked up Socially Awkward to go with his amazing combination of Loser and Diva. I didn’t realize until he aged up into a teen this week, but Loser is incompatible with Brave, so he can’t have the family trait. I have mixed feelings about this. It seems like being a Loser would require you to be MORE Brave just to get through the day. Or at least that’s how I intend to play it :-p.

Trying to keep this on the fast track, but man am I wordy.

5.29 Some Kind of Fairy Tale

It was a time for growing older.

Ash became an adorable little toddler. Eliana teared up when she looked at him. “She looks just like my mom.” Eliana’s mother had died when she was a teenager, and shortly after her father had started acting strangely.

What Hunter saw first was that Ash had Eliana’s eyes.

Hunter’s fatherly instincts didn’t need much encouragement. He was a natural dad. This surprised nobody but him.

Ash and Dylan would spend hours at the blocks table. Dylan enjoyed building elaborate, tidy towers that were elegantly symmetrical, well-balanced, and used all the different types of blocks. Ash enjoyed knocking things down. This made for uneasy companionship sometimes.

Riddle and Mystery became adult dogs.

Riddle.

Mystery.

They were both elegant dogs, and both of them were fierce hunters. Enigma approved.

Eliana returned to her favorite hobby, fishing.

In addition to providing Hunter with fresh catches for his culinary experiments, she filled the Sample living room with fish tanks for her most interesting fish.

Now that Leah had moved out, Hunter could use some help in the garden, and Eliana was only too happy to step into that place. While Hunter loved the work more, she found her increased skill with plants to be a big help in her job.

Riddle started sleeping in Sky’s bed. She knew she should kick him out, but she rather enjoyed the company at night.

Then, while patrolling behind the Sufficiently Advanced Tech Center one night, Hunter found the unicorn again.

Breathless, he approached Meteor beneath the starlight.

Meteor let him come.
The unicorn’s coat shimmered with an internal glow. His mane was like silk.

“You are the most amazing creature I have ever met,” Hunter said softly. “Please let me serve you.”

Meteor neighed, a silvery sound almost like a laugh. You are a bold one, aren’t you? I have not met any human quite like you. Very well, I shall give you a chance. Come a look for me when you’re ready. For now, take my blessing.

Suddenly, Hunter was flying!

Then the unicorn vanished.

Hunter felt better than he had ever felt before. Even though his feet were back on the ground, he still felt as if he were flying.

He ran home as fast as his feet would take him, which was actually very fast.

“You’ll never believe the night I had!” he told Enigma when he returned.

He found Eliana sleeping late in their bedroom. “Wake up, sleepyhead!” he cried, throwing a pillow at her.

“Huh? What?” Eliana dragged herself out of bed. “Hunter! You’re — you’re sparkling!”

“And that’s not all!” Hunter said.

“Wow!”

“Let me have another of those!”

“Eliana,” Hunter said breathlessly, “we’ve been together for a while now. I’ve loved you since high school, and I know you’re the only woman I want to spend my life with. Would you –“

“No no no!” Eliana cut him off. “You’re not allowed to do that!”

“I– what?”

“You can’t steal my thunder!” Eliana said. “Hush up and let me do it.”

She got down on one knee and reached into her pocket.

“Hunter, I pushed you away, but you never gave up. I thought I could only be miserable, but you taught me how to live. Please stay with me forever as my husband.”

Hunter was speechless as she slipped the ring on his finger.

“I’ve been planning that for weeks,” Eliana said. “I couldn’t let you trump me.”


“I would never dream of it, my love,” Hunter said with tears in his eyes.

———-

Well, I don’t have the wedding, but I do have the proposal, and that was better anyway. The wedding was a bit of a debacle. They were married in the gazebo of the Sample house, but one of them kept getting stuck on the landing coming down from the top floor of the house, so it took forever to get the vows started. Then Forest decided to age into an adult halfway through their vows, which for some reason trumped the wedding, and they ended up having to get married again on the lawn away from the wedding arch. So perhaps it is just as well to not have to figure out what to do with those pictures :).

After the wedding, I moved Eliana, Ash, and some of the pets out to the new Sample-Baerwyn house, which was a super-cute small equestrian lot with a nice-sized garden in the front yard, a small stable, and half the lot dedicated to horse exercise space. The household had 8 Sims in it, and I was going nuts. I kept Eliana around long enough to earn 10k happiness points to change her LTW to Presenting the Perfect Private Aquarium. Charles had already caught more than 13 species of perfect fish, and I was storing them in one of the World Adventures chests. I took them out, placed them in tanks, and Woot! Eliana gets her LTW. Sky also painted her portrait, so she was worth 2 points. Which is nice because I could NOT get Hunter to 100k happiness points. He simply wouldn’t wish for anything big. If I’d realized he was only going to have 150 point wishes to pet his animals, I’d’ve played him differently from the beginning. He did manage to get a 5k wish to marry Eliana, but even with that he only left the household at 80k. Of course, it didn’t help that his LTW was only worth 20k. EA vastly underestimates the difficulty of adopting a unicorn, at least if you’ve never done it before.

However, since Hunter hadn’t actually adopted the unicorn yet, he had to stay in the household until that was done. (Storywise, I intended to write him as already having moved out but still hanging around Sky’s house a lot to look after her.) Hunter asked Meteor to join the household in this scene, but Meteor refused. I had to figure out what was going wrong and try again. The big set of shots that I’m sorry for losing are the ones of Hunter riding Meteor down the street from the Sample house to his new house with Eliana with the sparkles and rainbows dancing out behind them. Sky happened to be giving Eliana a Sing-a-Gram, so she was there when he transferred households to give him a hug goodbye. Hunter’s last act as an active sim was to Try for Baby with Eliana, thus adding her to the bloodline and securing her 2 points :).

All the animals went with Hunter except Riddle. I was really torn between whether to keep Riddle or Mystery. They both turned out so pretty. In the end, Riddle’s hunting hound look won me over, though in retrospect I’m really unclear how he ended up with that shape. Mystery is a more appropriate mix of their parents.

5.26 Paths Apart

Word of Hunter’s produce got around, and one day he got the phone call of his life. The Round Table, Avalon’s premier restaurant, offered him a contract as a supplier.

Hunter had finally made it. His business was successful.

Moreover, he was going to have to move out of the Sample estate, and soon. He needed to expand his garden if I was going to meet the demands of his contract.

The puppies continued to be adorable.

Abby was learning more every day.

Her first word was “ball,” but she seemed to mean it in a kind of extravagant way.

Eliana threw herself into her new job at the Sufficiently Advanced Technology Center. You could find her studying scientific experiments almost any time she wasn’t at work.

The more she relaxed and felt safe, the more she seemed discover a second childhood.

She and Dylan were especially fond of each other. He needed someone to help him lighten up and remember how to be childish.

Forest worked hard. Pretty much all the time. His family sometimes didn’t see him for days.

Hunter kept to his evening patrols several evenings a week. It has been so long now since he had seen the unicorn that he sometimes wondered if he’d imagined it. Still, he couldn’t let it go.

Then one day, out in a pouring rainstorm, he finally hit pay dirt.

The creature was even more captivating than he remembered. All his plans and research fell out of his head, and he could only get soaked in the rain and stare at it.

The stallion seemed to laugh at him, but it was an affectionate kind of laugh. Before it disappeared, Hunter heard one sentence in his head. My name is Meteor. Then it was gone.

Leah was avoiding Sky. It was hard to miss it. She wasn’t arguing or acting angry. She just wasn’t around. She retreated from looking after Abby, leaving Sky responsible for the toddler’s skills.

She and Plum Marmalade had stayed in touch. The day after the Love Day birthday party, she called Plum up and invited her to the Magic Mirror Art Gallery to hang out for an afternoon. Plum accepted immediately. It was the first time they’d met face-to-face since that night outside the Sample house.

Plum seemed delighted to see her.

Just as before, a sense of instinctive trust seemed to pull them together. Leah had fought it before, wanting to believe that Sky’s love was true, but now she just felt so…. tired of it all.
She confessed how depressed and lonely she felt. She didn’t work for the police anymore because Sky had wanted to focus on their music, but Ghostwriter hadn’t had that many gigs in quite a while. Dylan was her pride and joy, but he was growing older and didn’t need a mommy leaning over his shoulder all the time.
And Abby….

It came pouring out almost before she realized what she was saying. Abby was Xia’s daughter.

Plum took the news very, very badly.

Leah was struck with guilt for breaking the news to Plum. But it was true. Shouldn’t Plum know?

She reached out hesitantly and took hold of Plum’s shoulder. “I know what you’re going through,” she said quietly. “We can survive this together.”

Plum forced a grateful smile through her tears. “Thanks,” she said. “I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”

Later that night, Veronica decided relax after a long day’s work at her inventing table with one of her old favorite hobbies — skinny dipping.

What she hadn’t realized was just how tired…. and perhaps how old she had become.

She was out in the middle of the pool before she realized how much work it was to tread water. She tried to swim back to the edge, but her arms got heavier with every stroke. She opened her mouth to call for help, and water came rushing in.

It happened so fast that she had gone under before anyone in the house knew something was wrong.

The family was stunned and devastated. But at least everyone was there to see her off.

Veronica was 105. At some level, her children knew that this could come at any time, even if they tried not to think about it. Being able to say goodbye softened the blow a little bit. It was more than they’d gotten with Charles.

When Veronica was gone, Sky stood by the swimming pool and sobbed.

Though almost nobody ever swam in it, Sky had always thought the pool was a sort of elegant status symbol. Suddenly she hated it.

The next morning, she called a meeting with a contractor and laid out plans to tear out the pool and expand the arboretum.

Veronica was laid to rest beside Charles. Perhaps they would help them find each other faster in the Netherworld.

———-

Well, it had to happen somehow, but I didn’t expect to lose Veronica that way. She was incredibly old. I think 105 was her final age, but I’d have to look it up to be sure. That was older than Lancelot and Layla, who were vegetarians. I gave up trying to get her to 200k happiness points, though. She left the game with close to 180k.

I thought it was cute that elderly Veronica was still skinny dipping autonomously, so I took that shot and went off to have Sky paint portraits. Then the camera was yanked back to Veronica gulping water. I directed her to leave the pool and got repeated route failures. Then Overwatch detected her as being unroutable, and she was reset to another location STILL drowning.

Apparently that pool was a death trap. It could have been caused by the fact that the arboretum was made with some fancy build mode hacks. I think the next house the Samples live in will be made without hacks if possible.

I suppose I could have reset her, but I thought — if Veronica had to go, wouldn’t she get a kick out of being a funky ghost? She’s the first non-old-age ghost in the Sample ancestry.

Also, Grim was glitched and never showed up. After everyone waited sobbing all night, I was forced to use MasterController to force kill Veronica’s ghost and have Sky retrieve her from the mausoleum. Perhaps that was why Veronica grew to be that old to begin with. I reset all the sims in town after that, but I guess I won’t know if Grim is functioning properly until someone else in the active family dies. Hopefully that won’t be for a long time. Townies are dying of old age just fine.

At any rate, trust Veronica to make a splash with her exit.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be as fond of a sim couple as I was of Charles and Veronica.

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.

Ada.

Alberto.


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 πŸ™‚ :).

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.

5.22 Hope

Sky found that it was a relief to have all the ugliness out in the air at last. The reality of Leah’s hurt and anger, while bad, could not live up to the monster she had created in her head.

And she found that it was impossible to work on patching up her mistakes without admitting them first. In retrospect, it was obvious.

She didn’t want to push Leah, who made it clear she needed to take things slowly. So Sky spent a lot of time alone with her thoughts. It was uncomfortable. When she looked back on that night with Xia, the first thing she remembered was how much fun it was. Those were not the kind of thoughts that would save her marriage.

Garry fit right in with the rest of Ghostwriter, and as the only one of them with formal musical training, he was able to nudge the band to make more ambitious music.

The band’s gig at Honeyduke’s became a regular thing. They played every few weeks and began both bringing in a decent amount of money. Some nights, attendance was a bit embarrassing.

But on others, they drew a nice crowd, including some repeat customers who were turning into fans. Sky found the whole idea of having fans incredibly exciting.

Garry usually brought an attractive redhead with him. She seemed to enjoy the music, but she was mostly there for Garry. He introduced her as his fiancee, Arya Bookabet.

Sky found her more than a little bit odd. She wasn’t sure what Garry saw in her.

Hunter, on the other hand, seemed to connect with her immediately.

Sometimes they would stand in the corner and laugh at each other’s jokes instead of really listening to the music.

They fit together so well that Sky almost expected them to drop their other commitments of the heart and run off to elope together.

Maybe they’d be a couple in another time and place somewhere.

Amie Engel was especially appreciative of the crowds Ghostwriter was drawing. And perhaps something else, too.

She slipped Sky a scrap of paper one evening with her payment. “It’s my cell number. Give me a call if you want a little excitement after hours, if you know what I mean.”

She gave Sky a broad wink and chucked her on the shoulder.

Sky got out of there as fast as possible. She was more than a little freaked out. What had made Amie do that? Had Sky been flirting without intending to?

When she got home, she sat and pondered her life and the nature of love.

Perhaps her own love life was a mess, but so, unfortunately, was Adam’s. He still was lonely and not even trying to date. Sometimes Ari showed up at performances and stood in the very back out of Adam’s line of sight.

Ari’s transgression was kind of like Sky’s after a fashion. Perhaps if she could get the two of them back together and help Adam be happy again, she could also gain some hope for her own life.

So she invited Ari over one evening to chat.

“I don’t understand why you’d want to see me,” Ari protested on the phone. But she showed up anyway out of curiosity.

“I was wondering if you’d like to have a cup of coffee and talk about Forest and Adam,” Sky admitted. “Maybe I’m nuts here, but I think you still have feelings for Adam.”

Ari gave Sky and angry look, then dropped her eyes. “Look, he’s the one who won’t answer my phone calls. I get it. He won’t take me back.”

“Ari!” Adam said as he arrived at the door for rehearsal. “What are you doing here?”

Ari looked at him, and her jaw dropped.
“What do you think you are doing?” Ari shouted. “Just leave us alone!”
Sky reached out to grab her and convince her to stay, but she pushed past and ran down the sidewalk.

Sky was left with Adam looking at her accusingly. She felt a fierce pang of regret. Maybe they were all doomed to be lonely.

The pang came again, stronger. She suddenly realized it wasn’t a pang at all.

Sky and Leah agreed that Leah would stay home and watch Dylan. This was not the best time for them to share the intensity of labor together.

Veronica took Sky to the hospital. At least labor was faster and less difficult than Dylan’s had been.

Soon, they were home with Veronica’s newest granddaughter, Abby.

Leah came down the stairs to meet them. Together they gazed at the bundle in Sky’s arms.

“She’s beautiful,” Leah said.

Sky smiled. “Thanks. I think so too.”

Leah’s eyes were softer than she had seen them in what seemed like forever. “You must be exhausted,” Leah said. “Come to bed. I’ll take the first feeding.”

Sky lay little sleeping Abby in her crib and dared to hope that things would be all right.

———-

And here we meet the newest Sample!

Hey, I was trying to track it, but the last post (5.21) was the 250th post on this blog! That includes all my posts apologizing for not posting, but still — 250. Good Grief.

I hope you enjoyed the shout-out to Hunter and Arya, Jo. This was the first time they met in my game, and they throw intense attraction notifications here too. Perhaps if they had met earlier, they’d be together in my game too. As it is, Hunter’s heart is pretty gone for Eliana, and Arya’s engaged to family. What can you do?

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.

5.20 Make a Right

Soon Sky couldn’t deny it to herself any longer. She was pregnant.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. None of it had been supposed to happen. She and Xia were still exchanging text messages, talking about how much it had never happened.

Now she was in the bona-find soap opera position of having no idea whose kid this was.

While Dylan played, Sky sat down in Hunter’s arboretum to collect her thoughts.

Hunter stood up from his weeding. “You look like somebody kicked your puppy,” he said.

Sky tried to smile. “No, nothing like that.”

Hunter gave her The Look. “You’ve been like this for weeks, and it’s not like you. You’re usually so full of life.” That word always had a bit of an ironic twist when he said it, considering her ghost blood. “Is it something so bad that you can’t tell me?”

Sky hesitated, and she suddenly felt like she was going to cry. “I didn’t something really terrible,” she said.

Hunter gave her his full attention. “No, not that kind of terrible,” she said quickly. With Forest in the house, doing who-knew-what these days, you had to be careful with your word choice. “It’s just… Leah’s going to hate me.”

Hunter nodded. “I’ve been hearing rumors,” he admitted. “I don’t know what the truth is, but I know that it’s going to eat you up if you lie to her. Whatever happens, your family will still love you.”

He wasn’t promising anything about Leah, Sky noted.

And Hunter had been hearing rumors? That was scary. He didn’t get out of his garden all that much. But he was right about one thing. She had to start talking to Leah. 
She caught Leah playing with Dylan and took her nervously by the hand. “Could we speak in private for a minute?” she asked.

She felt Leah’s hand tense. “Yes of course,” she said.

Sky pulled her to a corner of the living room. A sense of deja vu washed over her. This felt almost exactly like the last time she’d confessed a pregnancy to Leah. Life shouldn’t be this way!

Again, she just made herself blurt it out. “Leah, I’m pregnant.”

“Eee!” Leah cried out.

“That’s wonderful! I wasn’t expecting it, but if it happened once, of course it could happen again!”

I should have led with the cheating part, Sky thought miserably. Now she had to burst the bubble with the bad news.
But Leah’s smile almost immediately faded to a probing look that gave Sky the chills. “I was just thinking that we haven’t made much progress on wedding plans,” Leah said. “With another baby on the way, I think we should just do it.”

Sky gulped. “Get married?”

“Sure,” Leah said. “I mean, we’ve been living together for quite a while. We have kids together and own a house together. Why shouldn’t we be married too?”

Sky was completely blindsided. “But you wanted to have a big ceremony with flowers and a dress!” she exclaimed. “And your family!” Sky had a decent-sized family, but the Mai clan was huge.

“I decided I don’t need all that,” Leah said firmly. “Let’s just do it, and our second child won’t have to be born out of wedlock. You want to marry me, don’t you?”

Sky had the distinct impression she was being tested. More than that, she had completely lost control of the conversation.

“Of course I want to marry you!” Sky cried.

And before she knew it, Leah had the Samples gathered in the arboretum for them to exchange their vows.



Please let the baby be Leah’s. Please let the baby be Leah’s. The line ran over and over through Sky’s head for the entire short ceremony, so much that she almost forgot her vows.

“It’s about time!” Veronica announced when they had sealed with a kiss.

Hunter looked more thoughtful.

“I’m finally married!” Leah squealed. “I can’t believe it!”

It would be all right, Sky told herself. It had to be. More than anything in the world, she wanted Leah to be happy. From here on out, she would make that her top priority.

Starting right now.

———-

Woo. It kind of aches to write this stuff.

The game seems to calculate the reflection wrong for those metallic skintones in certain kinds of lighting. I try not to use pictures like that, but I didn’t have much choice for these scenes.

I’ll try to keep the pace up for a while. There’s so much story to tell.

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.