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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
As it turned out, whether childbirth was better than staying pregnant was highly debatable. Sky’s labor had complications. Dr. Sebastian Hodgins, the area authority on supernatural childbirth, was called in to assist.
Leah was a flutter of worry. She dashed in and out of Sky’s hospital room, fetching coconut water, or a fan, or something to massage Sky’s feet.
The labor was long and hard, but the two of them made it through all right in the end. Dylan Sample was born big, bouncing, and healthy.
And entirely unghostlike.
As Leah drove them home, Sky couldn’t shake off the unreality of the whole thing. She was a mother. She’d sort of figured that someday she’d be a mother, but even through her pregnancy it had seemed a remote eventuality. Now the baby here in the car with her was hers.
She gazed into his face as she placed him in his crib for the first time. He slept so peacefully.
It was hard to be sure what she felt yet.
“Isn’t he amazing?” Leah whispered.
“Yeah,” Sky said, smiling distantly.
“And you’re amazing!” Leah continued. “You have made it through the greatest rite of womanhood! You gave birth to a child!”
“Well, yeah,” Sky said, unsure how to react. It hadn’t been a lot of fun, and she wasn’t so keen on doing it again any time soon.
But Leah’s appreciation did help.
“We’re parents now. It changes everything,” Leah said. “Dylan is affected by all the decisions we make in our life from here on out.”
“I suppose so,” Sky said. She wasn’t sure she wanted to think about that kind of responsibility.
“I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have with me on this journey,” Leah said.
Sky opened her mouth, but Leah raised her hand. “Don’t say anything yet.”
Leah knelt on the floor of the nursery.
Sky suddenly found it hard to breathe.
“I love you so much Sky. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Please marry me.”
Sky tried to speak, but no words came out. She held out her hand, and Leah slipped on the ring.
Leah pulled Sky into her arms, and Sky clung to her.
Running through her mind, over and over, were the words, the rest of my life.
She suddenly knew what was more terrifying than motherhood.
I gotta get caught up on this blog before I finish my play session with the Wonderlands!
At last we meed Generation 6. It might not be clear from the pictures, but Dylan does have Leah’s light bronze skin.
Veronica was inventing again. That made for plenty of adventures for the family.
“I call in the Routine Machine!” Veronica explained after she roped Sky into helping her test. “It uses advanced levitation and teleportation technology to get you fed, lighten your bladder, and zap you to your chosen location!”
Testing it was certainly exciting.
But the teleportation part turned out to need some work.
Hunter’s production was down for the winter, as expected.
But he could hardly spend a lot of time fretting. In addition to emails, he was exchanging letters with Eliana Baerwyn every other day.
She would be graduating soon, and he was terribly nervous. He wanted to visit her and tell her how he felt, but what if turned him down?
After the failure of his last date, Forest paid a lot more attention to Ali. One evening, he invited her out to the new western-themed club to watch a Simfest.
“I know things haven’t been great between us,” he said to Ali sincerely. “I’m hoping we can have some fun together and get past our troubles.”
Ali looked troubled, but she nodded. “I’m willing to try if you are.”
They watched a couple of performers and then made it upstairs to the lounge to get away from the noise and heat for a little while.
“How was your presentation?” Forest asked.
“It went very well!” Ali said. “I think they’re putting me up for a promotion.”
“That’s wonderful. I’m bringing in some great profits as well. We could make a good team.”
Ali gave him a hard look. “You never told me what you do,” she said.
“It’s really boring,” Forest said quickly. “You wouldn’t want to hear about it. Here, why don’t I help you relax –“
“Don’t you do that again!” Ali shouted.
She jumped to her feet and out of his reach. “I’m sick of you treated me like I’m some kind of gullible innocent! You’re involved in something you think I won’t like. I’m done with being patient. Tell me now, and we’ll see what it does to our relationship.”
Forest was suddenly terrified. “I–” he began.
Then he reached into his pocket and brought out the one thing that could end this conversation.
“Hey,” he said. “Let’s go back down and watch the rest of the performance.”
“Yeah,” Ali replied, sounding dazed. “Sure thing.”
Sky spent the tail end of her pregnancy bumming around the house. She felt too tired and too much like a whale to do any promotional work for Ghostwriter. Leah had decorated the nursery. Veronica was so eager to share intimate advice that Sky had started avoiding her. Charles was always asking her if she was warm enough or had had enough to eat.
Just to defy all of them, she took to practicing guitar on the front porch.
She also returned to painting, something she hadn’t touched since her band became a reality. First on her list was a portrait of Leah.
“I’ll start with your eyes. They’re so captivating.”
Leah enjoyed the attention, at least.
When the contractions came, Sky was more than ready for them. Childbirth couldn’t be as bad as continuing to be pregnant.
Sorry to end on a cliffhanger! The second half will be posted shortly.
It turns out that the Not So Routine Machine teleportation feature conflicts with Sky and Charles’s innate teleporting, so it’ll be a while before you see it used again.
It didn’t take much deciding. If Sky and Leah were going to raise this child together, Leah would move in with Sky and not the other way round. Leah was from a large family herself. In addition to her parents Arthrit and Mazuki and her younger sister Miyuki, she had a teenage brother Raen and kid brother just starting elementary school. Her parents had started their family young and weren’t even sure they were done yet. The Samples, on the other hand, were all adult. Baby-on-the-way would never want for care. In fact, if anything, there was a danger the poor kid would suffocate under too much affection.
But as winter descended on Avalon with a vengeance, it became clear that the newer, larger household just couldn’t stay where they were. Charles and Veronica were already sleeping on a bedroll in the basement. Sky’s room fit a single bed with no room for expansion. And let’s just forget about a nursery.
No one wanted to bring the idea up to Veronica that they abandon the home she had designed and worked on herself. In the end, Veronica had to call the issue. “I have a lot more years of creation ahead of me,” she said. “You just see what I do with the next place.” So they started looking for a place to live that was a bit more scalable.
“We have quite a lot of money, really,” Sky suggested. “Why don’t we get a much bigger, nicer place? Not that this place isn’t nice, Mom.”
“I’d like someplace a little more rural,” Hunter said. “I need to be able to raise more produce if I’m going to expand this business.”
“Just so long as there’s a good dark basement for my research,” Forest said.
With those parameters, they cast about the island until they happened in Windemere Cottage, an agricultural estate in a less-developed area that had laid vacant for some years.
Sky was still barely showing by the time they were packing up to leave.
If Veronica felt badly about leaving her biggest creation behind, she never said anything. She did stand on the step of their new home for a while to look out at the tip of the top tower that you could see in the distance. But even then, she didn’t seem sad. More… admiring, perhaps.
They had found a buyer for the place. Some couple named Sean and Cynthia Flynn.
“This is the master bedroom?” Leah gasped when Sky showed her the space. “It’s so elegant and cozy. And so much velvet!”
“And the bed is so soft!”
Sky beamed. “I’m so glad you like it!”
“Shall we give it a whirl?”
In light of the fact that they’d have to move their bedroom back indoors, Veronica did extra work on her bedroom.
Charles was very appreciative.
The boys set up their bedrooms in the large, comfortable basement.
Hunter began to set up his winter greenhouse in the barn.
To his surprise, Leah followed him there.
“Could you use any help?” she asked brightly.
Hunter scuffed his foot. “Well, I can’t pay you,” he said sheepishly. “I’m barely breaking even right now.”
Leah shrugged. “I don’t need money,” she said. “I just love to work with plants.”
“Well, sure then!”
They worked together in near silence for hours. Hunter couldn’t remember when he last felt so comfortable with someone.
Sky hadn’t done too badly on her choice of baby mama.
Since there was a baby on the way, Leah bowed to Sky’s hopeful pressure and quit her job at the police academy. It was a grueling job with long hours that didn’t pay very much, and it seemed more important to have the time to spend with the baby when it arrived.
Since there was no child just yet, she found herself with a lot of spare time. When she wasn’t helping Hunter in the garden, she decorated the nursery.
“Wow,” Sky said. “It’s so pink.”
Leah clapped her handes and squealed. “I knew you’d like it!”
“But what if it’s not a girl?”
“Sky!” Leah said. “I’m surprised at you. It’s terribly sexist to think that a boy can’t appreciate pink. Pink is such a nice color.”
“Yeah,” Forest piped up. “What’s wrong with pink? It’s a great color for anyone.” That pretty much ended the discussion. Who was going to argue with Forest about manliness?
Hunter didn’t say anything. He just looked.
But he was grateful that when he stumbled over the pink mermaid doll, Enigma was there to catch his fall.
There was even something for feline family.
The pond had fish in it, to Charles’s delight.
All he had to do was cut a hole in the ice.
It seemed like just the right place for the Samples.
While Veronica was full of more pregnancy advice and horror stories than Sky could handle, Charles took it upon himself to take care of her. He was always near to make sure she was warm, fed, and comfortable.
Their new home was wood heated, so this often meant he trailed his daughter around and stoked the fire wherever she was.
The prospect of a grandchild was clearly on his mind a lot. On one hand, how could he not be delighted? On the other, it was a solid reminder that they were growing older. He sometimes had trouble believing he was old enough to have a child, much less a grandchild.
It turned out that the place was not quite as perfect as it first appeared. Some of it was in disrepair, and not always in obvious ways.
They discovered too late that the living room fireplace was not vented properly.
Leah was terrified when she saw the flames. She shrieked and cried.
The Samples were largely annoyed.
Charles and Forest dealt with the immediate problem.
Though the aftermath would take a lot more time for a lot less reward.
Nobody was hurt, though, and the Samples knew better than to take that for granted.
Veronica immediately got out her tools. “All right, then,” she said. “You’re going to be harmless as a kitten when my grandbaby gets here!”
Leah threw herself into Sky’s arms, choking on tears. “I was terrified for you and the baby! I’m so glad you’re all right!”
“It’s all right, love,” Sky said. “It’s all right. We took care of it. Don’t cry.”
“I don’t want to be jerk,” Hunter said. “But could you two please go to your room?”
Leah is an Artistic, Hopeless Romantic, Green Thumb, Schmoozer who Loves the Outdoors. She is quite seriously the Sample dream-in-law. I’m a bit perplexed as to why Story Progression assigned her to law enforcement, though.
This is mostly slice of life transitional stuff to show off the new lot. I loved this place and wish it could have worked out better. But as you’ll see, not so much. Primarily, the problem was that the landscaping was so elaborate that there was almost no place you could do anything outdoors. No flat places. Too bad.
The nursery came with the lot, but Leah’s favorite color turns out to the spiceberry, which is essentially pink. I guess spiceberry would be the “bashful” in “blush and bashful.” (You foreigners can look that up :). )
Tangentially, I don’t think I ever mentioned it, but you might have noticed anyway. Forest’s favorite color is pink. I find this very entertaining and always make sure he’s wearing the color someplace.
Oh, yeah, and the Mai family is in fact large and still growing. I created the family from four anime sims I downloaded from ModtheSims, who I assembled into parents and two teenagers. The child Raen is actually the genetic product of his parents. (And he turned out very nice — I’ve seen him around town.) Then I forgot and left both parents as YA. They’re madly in love and still cranking out kids.