Roderick was finishing film school and just starting out as grip in a movie crew. His eye was on directing. He knew almost every film Vickie had ever heard of and could dissect its cinematography, acting, and art style. And there were certain movies that he idolized that he was eager to share. Vickie found herself sitting in front of a screen more than she could ever recall doing before. When Rod talked about them, movies seemed like so much more than a mindless distraction.
He also pulled her into other intellectual hobbies. Vickie had always been a creature of action. She was happiest outside with salty ocean breeze blowing in her face. But she had to admit that there was something differently stimulating to staying in one place and *thinking* about things really hard.
When she tried to get Roderick out on the water, he begged off. “I get really seasick,” he admitted sheepishly.
That was all right. When the sea called her, Vickie wasn’t sure she wanted company anyway.
With a bit of cajoling, she did get Rod to join her in other active, outdoor fun.
Gamora got some welcome news. It wasn’t *good* news to anyone but her.
The asteroid strike had leveled half of Manisha and Ash Sample-Baerwyn’s house. Nobody had been killed, but their home insurance was balking at the wildly implausible event of an asteroid falling on someone’s house without damaging anything outside their property. There were lawsuits and assets held in dispute, and it was going to take years for everything to be sorted. Meanwhile, Manisha and Ash seemed to be staying separate hotel rooms for the moment.
Gamora took the afternoon to bask by the pool in the glow of victory and schadenfreude.
Manisha Kapoor Sample-Baerwyn chose not to be Gamora’s mother.
Now payback time had finally arrived.
Edmund finally earned permission to bring a few mystic tomes home to study on his own time. He delved deeper into the nature of life, death, and the anchoring of the soul.
He felt he was getting close to the revelation he needed.
That, however, was not it.
And we close with the couple who never lost that lovin’ feeling.
There’s no Winston! Also, none in the next post, so don’t hold your breath :(. Stuff will happen for him eventually?
It took me a while to figure out why Gamora spends most of her idle time in the pool. Hydration, duh.
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.
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.
Now that they had a sunny spring day, they could have the kind of birthday party for Dylan and Abby that the adults had been planning. The family all piled into the Motive Mobile and took a trip to the Spring Festival.
Family and family connections poured out to wish the littlest Samples well.
Jeanna Yo-Mai. She and Leah’s little sister Miyuki hadn’t been married long yet. They’d decided to ditch the name Crumplebottom altogether to avoid inheritance confusion, though they were still living at Chateau Crumplebottom with Garry. Garry insisted the place was too big for just him and Arya.
Garry Crumplebottom and Arya Bookabet, meanwhile, were still playfully dickering over a wedding date. They seemed in no hurry to tie the knot.
Forest was the only single triplet left. At Veronica’s urging, he asked the love meter for advice. It didn’t seem to see a problem — it thought Forest was hot. Too bad it wasn’t a sim.
Veronica paraded around her new adopted grandson for everyone to meet.
Then she shared wild stories of youth with Ada and Jeanna.
Leah caught up with Miyuki.
“He’s a beautiful kid,” Miyuki said.
“Are you thinking of having any of your own?” Leah prodded with a wink.
“I don’t know,” Miyuki admitted. “Jeanna already has two kids. I’m not sure I want to deal with all the squalling and bodily fluids.”
Leah wasn’t sure what to say to that.
Then came the time for Dylan to blow out the candles!
Happy birthday was sung with great gusto.
Then came Abby!
Her hair and eyes made it very clear whose daughter she was, and she wasn’t Leah’s.
Sky shot Leah a worried look. Her wife’s face was forced into an expression of celebration, but her eyes were dull. They had both known it was likely that Abby was Xia’s child, but it was a very different thing to see that it was true. But they couldn’t talk now in the middle of the party. Sky would have to wait until they got home.
Veronica pulled Hunter and Eliana onto the dance floor.
Hunter seemed a lot more outgoing these days. He let Veronica teach him some moves.
Dylan went straight to the face-painting booth and gave the painter detailed instructions on exactly the art he wanted on his face. The painter gave him the same rainbow she gave everyone else.
Still, he was pretty happy with it. And even happier with the beautifully-colored Easter eggs
Dusk fell, and the party was still going on. The adults were all dancing and laughing.
Then someone unexpected wandered into the park.
“Mrs. Sample!” Ali Mentary said. “I got your text. Thank you for inviting me.”
Veronica faltered. “It’s nice to see you, Ali, but I didn’t send you a text message.”
“You didn’t? I didn’t mean to crash your party!” Her eyes flickered nervously over Veronica’s shoulder to Adam, whose eyes were burning into her.
Forest watched from a distance, looking satisfied. It wasn’t terribly difficult to send a text in his mother’s name.
Sky stepped into Adam’s line of sight. “Adam,” she said gently. “Are you all right?”
Adam didn’t say anything. He turned on his heel and ran into the park cottage.
Ali watched him go and gulped. She turned to leave, but Forest stepped in her way. “Hey there,” he said. “It’s been a long time. I was, sort of hoping you were well.”
Ali blinked back tears. “Hi,” she said. “I didn’t think you’d want to talk to me either.”
Forest offered a wan smile that showed a heart that still ached. “You know,” he said. “That was old news. I thought maybe we could be friends.”
Sky saw Adam standing on the porch of the cottage. She started to run to meet him, then remembered her ghost blood. She closed her eyes and appeared in front of him. That was one way to keep him from escaping.
“Adam,” Sky said. “Ali loves you. Hasn’t this gone on long enough?”
“Will you leave it alone?” Adam cried. “She’s the one who left me, remember?”
“Look,” Sky retorted, “but I know a little bit about screwing up your love life. I have no idea what happened with Ali, but I know she’s not over you. Better yet, I know you’re not over her either. You never date. You look miserable when you see happy couples together. Just go talk to her, Adam, or you’ll regret it forever. Trust me.”
“Wow,” Adam said more softly. “I didn’t know you felt so strongly about this.”
“I care about you, Adam,” Sky said. “I want to see you happy, and the person who is making it hardest for you to be happy is you.”
Adam wavered. He looked genuinely frightened. Sky pulled him into a hug. He held her tightly. “Thanks for being my friend,” he said.
Ali had already left. Adam looked at Sky for encouragement one last time. Then he took a deep breath and ran after her.
Whatever they said was between them, but it didn’t take long for the news to make it through the gossip network that Adam and Ali had been seen out on a date together.
Sky watched Adam go. Then her eyes fell on Leah
It was just a a kiss from the kissing booth, but Leah really wasn’t the kissing booth type. Sky felt a fresh knot in her stomach. It didn’t look like Leah had taken the news about Abby well at all.
———- For Amhranai, who likes it when I post a lot 🙂 :).
Leah had a wish to kiss someone. I tried the kissing booth, and it didn’t fulfill the wish! Not terribly well-thought-out on EA’s part, if you ask me.
I tried to have Sky use her celebrity influence to get Adam to kiss Ali, and I have to say that I’m unimpressed by THAT game feature. First of all, the game decided that Ali absolutely had to go to a protest at City Hall a few sim-minutes after she arrived. I ended up having game trouble and had to replay this party. Then I invited Ali much earlier and tried the same trick with Sky influencing Adam. This time, he tried to kiss the wrong sim. I tried again to make sure that he’d selected Ali from the list. Same thing. No kiss was successfully delivered on any attempt.
I’m afraid that Sky and Leah are still not out of the woods.
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.
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?
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.
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.