In his quest to learn all things landwalker, Jonah decided to take driving lessons. When he was ready to drive on his own, he bought a classic car and spent evenings driving around town.
He insisted on driving with the top down, even as it snowed.
Then he would come home shivering, unbundle himself from his winter wraps, and read to Caspian.
The attention was a good thing for Caspian. When he didn’t get enough of it, he found new ways to make trouble.
Travis’s birthday rolled around.
The household had another little merman.
Caspian now had a playmate. In fact, he might have met his match. He and Travis were immediately joined at the hip.
They did everything together, and not just because they were stuck in the same nursery. They were both expressive kids who couldn’t get enough attention. Now there was always someone around with attention to give.
(Complete with photobomb by diver gnome…)
The Sample household was now essentially all chaos all the time.
The snowdrifts didn’t slow down Winston’s performance schedule. With all the fire and exercise, he didn’t even feel the cold.
He gave himself enough time to shower after a top-rated tent-raiser at the Duke of Bows before he met Emilie for dinner and a movie.
He hadn’t been the luckiest in love, and now that things seemed to be going so well, he didn’t want to give Emilie a chance to slip away.
Uncle Chaim found them outside the theater. “Looking good, my boy!” he called out. “I think she’s a keeper!” Winston tried not to cringe. Emilie laughed.
“If it isn’t my baby cousin,” came a voice from across the plaza.
“Gamora?” Winston said. “Is this a family reunion or something?”
“He’s my uncle too, you know,” Gamora said. “Should I check with you next time we want to meet for coffee?”
“Love you too, cuz,” Winston said.
“Ha ha,” Gamora replied. “Check out my kid. He’s walking and talking and photosynthesizing these days.”
“I like dirt,” Fenton announced and dissolved into giggles.
“That’s basically potty humor for plantsims,” Gamora explained. “You get used to it.”
Winston looked sheepishly at Emilie. “My family is all like this,” he said.
Emilie winked at him. “I already figured that out, she said.”
Jonah Waves Sample should have had everything he wanted in life, but he was starting to feel like he was missing something important.
When his mind wandered, wild horses galloped through his fantasies. They were the most captivating creatures he’d ever seen.
He’d spent enough time around the herd that some of the horses would let him approach them. That was gratifying, but he wanted more.
It hadn’t even occurred to him that there were domesticated horses too. When he discovered Avalon’s equestrian center, the last piece of his life fell into place.
He named his new equine friend Neptune. The stallion was full of energy and motion. It took Jonah’s breath away.
But Neptune would stand still for Jonah to awkwardly pull himself into the saddle.
There. Jonah had completed the first step. That wasn’t too bad.
Then Neptune started to run.
I really wanted our wild spirited, equestrian merman to tame a wild horse and learn to ride with it, but I didn’t realize that you can’t tame a wild horse until you already have a riding skill at Level 5. Jonah spent a lot of time befriending the horses in the wild herd before I discovered this. In retrospect, I probably should have just rolled with it and used Mastercontroller to add the horse to the household. That’s not the way way I rolled though, and Neptune is a fine companion.
I think there should be a mod to remove the riding skill requirement, honestly. It would make civilization-building challenges work better. That could be a really easy mod or a stupidly hard one.
The next few days were difficult. Vickie and her brothers had lost both their parents now. Everywhere she looked, Vickie saw her mom.
Even cooking was difficult. Especially cooking.
Winston’s sense of loss hit him in the moments he was least prepared for it.
Fortunately he never hurt himself badly.
They took comfort in their family.
Caspian was a growing toddler filled with laughter.
He was always out to be the center of attention, and if he wasn’t, he figured out how to get there.
And then there was another one on the way. Vickie had a lot more cravings with this pregnancy than the last one. Ice cream and pickles at midnight it was.
Jonah couldn’t stop looking at her with those adoring eyes. Vickie had never seen anyone so happy to be a father.
Vickie was checking the mail when she realized it was time again.
This time, she was feeling a bit more fae than usual, so she flew herself to the hospital and told Jonah to catch up with her there. Winston stayed kept an eye on Caspian.
They brought home their second son, Travis Sample.
The parenting routine began again, this time in stereo.
On Snowflake day, they decided to have a gift exchange. Vickie, Jonah, and Winston sent out a long list of invitations, and most friends and family attended.
With an extra surprise who wasn’t on anyone’s invitation list.
In fact, most people didn’t recognize him or guess why he was there. Gamora’s face lit up when she saw him, though. “Uncle Forest! How are the creatures of the night these days?”
Maya Ocean dropped in, as well as Uncle Chaim and his son Hans.
Edmund showed up with a twinkle in his eye. Vickie drew him aside and applied some sisterly pressure, and he admitted that he’d met someone. “It’s just been two dates,” he said. “It might not be anything. Don’t spread any gossip yet.”
“My lips are sealed,” Vickie said. “But you should see your face! Those must have been two great dates.”
“She’s captivating,” Edmund said. “I look forward to introducing her to you…. assuming things continue apace.”
And then there was Joyelle Waves. She came, as inappropriately dressed as ever, and just as oblivious to the cold.
But the chill in the looks she exchanged with Jonah was unmistakable. Reconciliation was clearly not going well.
Everyone gathered around the gift pile, talking and squealing over their gifts.
Caspian turned up the charm to pull attention back to him.
Travis slept in his baby swing.
Joyelle and Gamora struck up an unexpected friendship.
Unfortunately, it mostly seemed to be built around complaining about humans in voices loud enough that everyone could hear.
“Are you all right?” Vickie asked Jonah.
“I’m managing,” he said, but the ache in his heart was clear on his face.
To make things even more tense, Forest waved Jonah over after he’d opened his gift. He wanted to discuss the, um, lavish financial circumstances of the Sample family, and what a bad idea it would be for a penniless interloper to try to get a piece of that wealth by romancing an heiress. Hypothetically speaking, of course.
Jonah had seen better parties. He was ready to send everyone home.
When the party was finally over, Emilie didn’t go home at all. She and Winston slipped up to the attic rec room with their own plans for the evening.
Jonah escorted his mother to the beach behind the house. He returned after Vickie had said the rest of the goodbyes. His expression was bleak.
“What happened?” Vickie asked. “What did she do?”
Jonah looked past her and stared out at the snow swirling beyond the window. “My mother and had a long talk,” he said. “She won’t be attending any more gatherings. I can consider myself in dispersal from my pod. She is not going to accept my choice of life on land.”
“Oh Jonah,” Vickie breathed. “You didn’t have to do this. I don’t know why you–”
Jonah cut her off with a wave of his hand. “I don’t regret a moment. I want to be here. It was my mother’s choice whether to accept me, and she did not. I’m sad she made that decision, but I don’t want to change how I live… or who I live it with.”
“Can you really be happy? With me? Away from the sea?”
Jonah turned back to face her, and this time his eyes were smiling. “I’m so far from the sea I can watch the surf from our bedroom window,” he said. “And as for you–” He pulled her close and kissed her, then kissed again more hungrily. And for a while there was nothing more to say.
I can’t find the screenshots, but Jonah and Joyelle had a nasty argument in front of the house after this party. I’m grumpy that the screenshots are missing.
Stupid snowfall inside the house. I try to mitigate it, but it’s everywhere.
This is not my most inspired post, but it moves time along and introduces their second kid. It was pretty entertaining to see Forest crash the Snowflake Day party.
The air turned colder, and Autumn eased into Winter.
Winston’s crowds at outdoor venues started to get thinner as it got colder. He’d performed in the snow before. He didn’t feel the chill when he was moving and playing with fire. But the park stage was probably not going to be the best way to draw an audience for a while.
He spent a lot of his personal time on dates with Emilie.
Andria decided to write her memoirs and began to fill spiral-bound notebooks cover-to-cover with pencil scratches. “Don’t tell me to put it on the computer,” she snapped when VIckie suggested just that. “I can’t stand computers. They make everything feel artificial. I guess they call it ‘virtual’ these days.”
Vickie didn’t argue with her.
On the other side of the tech divide, Jonah had just discovered computer video games and would disappear for hours.
They found other ways to have fun too.
That fun had the logical outcome. Vickie was delighted to be expecting another child.
So was Andria. She knew she was living on borrowed time. Every moment she spent with her family, especially her grandchildren, was a blessing.
When Caspian’s birthday rolled around, Vickie decided it was high time for a party. “I’ll invite the entire family, and anyone who can’t come losing the right to complain that I left them out,” she declared.
Jonah looked pensive.
Vickie, who had gotten a lot better at noticing everything he said without words, noticed immediately. “What’s wrong?”
“The Waves pod will be headed back in our direction toward our winter fishing grounds,” he said slowly. “I would like to invite my mother to this party. She hasn’t met her grandson.”
Vickie blinked. “I thought you said your clan disowned you… because of me,” she finished more quietly.
Jonah stared at his hands, “It wasn’t that simple,” he said. “I can’t be a part of the pod anymore, but if I could persuade her to visit, she might want to continue associating with us.” He sighed. “I would like to try.”
Vickie hugged him. “I still don’t understand why you were willing to give all that up to be with me,” she said. “I think she’s crazy to give you up completely. I support you. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
Jonah kissed her instead. He was a merman of few words.
For Andria, the best part of any party was baking the cake.
Snow was falling when the time of the party rolled around. Vickie stood at the door to say hello to Edmund, Gamora and Emmett, Judith and Mason.
Last to arrive was a woman Vickie didn’t recognize but knew without asking.
“Um, you must be Joyelle,” Vickie stammered. She had an ageless face, a far-away look in her eye, and was wearing a completely inappropriate, gauzey dress in the middle of the snow. She didn’t even seem to be cold.
Joyelle of Waves rewarded Vickie with a piercing look. She nodded slowly.
“Jonah’s getting the baby up from his nap…” Vickie trailed off.
Joyelle looked past her and walked by.
Jonah brought Caspian downstairs, and it was time for the big moment.
Caspian grew into a little merman who looked a lot like his father.
But with Grandma Andria’s eyes.
She couldn’t have been more delighted.
Andria served up the cake. Jonah and Joyelle exchanged glances that Vickie couldn’t read, but they didn’t say much to each other. Vickie sat down to spend some time with Judith, which was a lot more comfortable.
Caspian, on the other hand, pondered how to pull the carving knives down off the counter.
“I have to ask,” Judith said. “You have always been such a free spirit. What do you think of motherhood? Doesn’t it tie you down?”
“I was afraid it would,” Vickie admitted. “But I had to try. It’s been crazy but wonderful. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And I guess I’m doing it again!” She looked down at her belly, which was barely showing her new pregnancy.
“Another baby already!” Judith said. “You didn’t waste any time!”
“I’m not getting any younger,” Vickie said. “I guess I thought it was now or never. Have you and Mason thought about kids at all?”
“We’re…. talking about it,” Judith said. “I think want to, but Mason isn’t so sure. He has such a disruptive job, you know. Would we really be able to raise a family with him working nights and disappearing at odd hours?”
Judith had made it clear that Vickie shouldn’t ask too much about what Mason did for a living, so she didn’t go there. “You always have me to help!” she said instead. “I don’t want to push you into anything, but wouldn’t it be amazing if we were moms with small kids together?”
[Mason James is in the Criminal career, but I realize that I don’t know what Judith does or if she has a job.]
After cake, Jonah started cleaning up, and Joyelle helped him. Vickie called the rest of the guests to come play with Caspian, who had crawled into the kitchen and was trying to pull the grating off the dishwasher. This kid was going to be a handful.
Vickie could hear her husband and mother-in-law speaking in low, singsong voices. She didn’t think it was in Simlish.
After a while, Caspian started throwing a tantrum, and Vickie bundled the overstimulated toddler upstairs to rock for a while in the rocking chair to try to calm him down. Jonah said goodbye to the guests.
“Did it go all right with your mom?” Vickie asked anxiously when he joined her upstairs.
“I… don’t know,” Jonah said. “She was interested in learning more about her grandson. She wants to know what my plans are for his ocean education. We can lose our tails, you know, if we don’t spend enough time in the sea.”
“I didn’t know!” Vickie said. “You haven’t been swimming since Caspian was born. Are you sure–?”
He took her hand. “I know my own body,” he said. “You don’t need to worry.”
Vickie would have said more, but downstairs something more important was happening.
When Grim came for Andria a second time, she didn’t have a flower for him. It seemed almost disappointed.
“Not now!” Andria begged. “I have another grandbaby on the way!”
“I granted you one favor,” Grim said in its deep, grating voice. “Most souls don’t get any. Don’t push your luck.”
Then they departed for the Netherworld together.
Vickie knew she should be grateful for the extra time she had with her mother, but it wasn’t enough. No time could ever be enough.
Not a lot of commentary here. There’s going to be baby and toddler spam for a while.
Joyelle was the original mermaid generated for the dive lots I created on this world. Since she was going to be donating genes to the legacy, though, I gave her a new face.
Vickie had to admit that being a pregnant newlywed wasn’t bad at all.
Morning sickness was light, and Jonah jumped to help whenever she seemed the slightest bit uncomfortable.
He was practically vibrating with anticipation of impending fatherhood, which certainly quelled her own nervousness. She had never felt so pampered in her life.
Days were spent preparing for the baby. And playing with Connery.
And learning about parenthood.
When Vickie couldn’t handle more attention, Jonah roamed in search of the herd of wild horses that wandered the coasts of Avalon Island.
They enchanted him. Every motion was a moment of vivid beauty bound to the world of dry land in which they lived.
They no longer spooked or ran when they saw him. He was beginning to earn trust.
The dreaded day arrived when they had to say goodbye to Connery.
Dis departure wasn’t a surprise. He was an incredibly elderly dog. Aunt Abby had adopted him into the family as a puppy.
It was still incredibly sad. He’d been there for Vickie in some of her darkest moments, and she took it really hard.
She inhaled suddenly from a sob. She felt something new that definitely had nothing to do with crying.
It hit her again. “Jonah,” she called. “I think it’s time.”
Jonah couldn’t drive her to the hospital. He’d never taken a driving lesson. But he was right there to offer support.
They arrived at the same time a Maya Ocean, looking fit and hale. “Hey! I’m getting a sparring injury checked out,” she said. “I guess I don’t need to ask why you’re here. Congratulations. Better you than me.”
It wasn’t Maya’s most supportive moment. Vickie managed not to snarl at her.
As births go, this was an easy one.
The birth announcement was in the newspaper the next day.
Andria cut the birth announcement out of the newspaper. “I’ll cherish this moment forever,” she said. “I got to meet my grandbaby!”
Vickie looked at the birth announcement and scowled. “The CHILD is resting comfortably? What about the mom?” It had been an easy birth, but not that easy.
Motherhood came naturally to Vickie.
She could rock endlessly with him in her arms and doze.
She even enjoyed the never-ending responsibility of keeping Caspian amused, fed, and clean.
Well, she enjoyed it most of the time. When she didn’t, her family was there to pick up the slack.
Winston already worked nights most of the time. It was easy for him to adjust his sleep schedule to accommodate early morning feedings.
And Andria was never far away. She sang lullabies to him when he fussed and kept a sharp eye on how much sleep the beleaguered parents were allowing themselves.
[Jonah did plenty of parenting. I just somehow failed to take pictures of him. Sorry to make you look like a deadbeat, Jonah.]
On Spooky Day, the new expanded family had their first outing.
Caspian laughed and gurgled all the way to the festival. He seemed thrilled to see all the new people. It didn’t hurt that adults compulsively make silly faces at babies.
“Hey,” Winston said. “Thanks for meeting me here. I thought it would be great to have a date at the Spooky Day festival, but I didn’t realize my sister was going to come along and bring the baby parade.”
“Oh, don’t say that!” Emilie said. “Your little nephew adorable. Don’t you think he’s adorable?”
“Yeah,” Winston admitted. “He really is great.”
“Have you ever thought of having kids of your own?” Emilie asked, avoiding his eyes.
“Yeah….” Winston admitted. “Some. Well, a lot more since Vickie got pregnant. It’s not so easy to have a family when you’re performing evening shows, but, well, yeah I think I want kids. Just not right now.”
Emilie beamed at him. “Of course not now, silly,” she said.
They stood around awkwardly for a long moment, searching for a way out of this topic of conversation.
“Hey!” Winston said. “It looks like they’re starting an apple bobbing contest!”
“Oh, great” Emilie said, her voice relieved. “I bet I can grab more apples than you!”
They both lost the contest.
A teen Victoria didn’t know walked up behind her. “Excuse me?” she demanded, “Did you just put your baby on the ground?”
“Well, just for a moment,” Vickie said, “while I–”
“That’s a horrifying way to treat an innocent baby!” the teen shouted. “What kind of parent are you? Have what for!”
“Aiee!” Vickie shrieked in surprise. “Did you–”
“Did you just slap me??”
The teen stuffed the glove back in her pocket. “It’s no worse than you deserve, ruffian!”
“How dare you!” Vickie growled. “I ought to–”
“I think it’s time to go home,” Jonah cut in. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of Caspian.”
[I think this is a Proper interaction “Give What For.” Awesome autonomous sims! I never noticed this with Dylan, and now I’m sorry.]
Vickie was just setting a sleeping Caspian back in his crib after a dawn feeding when she caught a flash of motion from her upstairs window.
Someone was fishing from the little beach of the property. In fact, just the place where Jonah had first stepped out of the ocean to meet her.
That in itself was unusual but no cause for alarm, but then she realized the fisherman was Edmund.
Vickie ran out to meet him. “What are you doing out here?” she cried. “You’ve never wanted to fish in your life!”
“Vickie!” Edmund whirled around, dropping his fishing pole. He looked almost guilty. “I didn’t expect to see anyone here.”
“I certainly didn’t expect to see you here,” Vickie said. “Why the sudden new hobby?”
“I just thought I should take some time alone to clear my head,” Edmund said, but the words came slower and more anxious as he spoke.
Then his face crumpled. “Joy left me,” he said.
“She what?” Vickie said. “Oh, Edmund. I’m so sorry. Do you know what happened?”
“She said she was wrong about me,” Edmund said. “She just didn’t feel for me what I felt for her.” He sighed. “I’d been talking about getting married. I guess she didn’t want to marry me.” A tear rolled down his cheek.
“If she didn’t want you as a husband, she’s the one with a problem,” Vickie said. “You would make a wonderful husband.”
Edmund smiled sadly. “Thanks for saying that,” he said. “We both know I’m an unusual guy with unusual interests. Not everyone is comfortable with fae magic. I thought Joy was, but I guess that wasn’t really what we had in common. I’m not sure I have any idea what I really need in a partner.”
Vickie threw her arms around her brother. “You’re right,” she said. “You’re not an ordinary guy. You’re romantic and brainy and old fashioned in a good way, not to mention mystical and mysterious. Joy may not appreciate that, but someone will. I know it.”
Generation 8 at last!
Spoilers: There are more kids coming, but Caspian is the heir unless something riveting happens with the others. He’s a fabulous counterpoint for rational, reserved Victoria. That is to say, he’s a hot mess.
NRaas StoryProgression broke up Edmund and Joy brutally. You could just see from the notifications that they had some ugly disagreement, she squashed his heart under her heel, and she immediately moved out and back in with her parents. Oooof. Joy was the simalike a fellow simmer build of her own teenage kid years ago, so, um, sorry it turned out like that.
The morning of the wedding dawned gray and drizzly, leaving the beach sand a bit damp was the Samples set up for the event.
“Please don’t rain, please don’t rain, please don’t rain,” Victoria wished fiercely, decked out in her bridal sundress with her makeup just so.
And just like that, the sky cleared. She wondered if her mom had anything to do with it. She was pretty sure Andria was nowhere near that powerful.
Uncle Chaim was one of the first to arrive.
And he brought with him a surprise plus one, one Benjamin Mai, who he nervously introduced as his date.
Everyone still missed Aunt Abby, but it was good to know that Uncle Chaim was moving toward a life after her.
Uncle Sawyer arrived right on time with Gamora and her new husband Emmett in tow.
And Maya Ocean, who couldn’t hide her smirk at the whole event. “I told you so,” she whispered when she came close.
Edmund with Joy.
“It’s about tiiiime!” Vickie’s best friend Judith James cheered to anyone who would listen. “My girl is finally getting herself the right man!”
Jonah and Victoria walked together to the water’s edge. The guests gathered around and conversation slowed to a murmur. They could hear the rush of the gentle waves reaching up onto the shore and pulling back into the sea.
“I guess it’s time to do this thing,” Victoria whispered.
“Any time you’re ready,” Jonah agreed.
They exchanged rings on the sand, under the bright sun, with short, simple vows.
As they sealed their vows with a kiss, the guests erupted into cheers and throw confetti.
Uncle Sawyer really got into the confetti throwing.
“And not a moment too soon,” Victoria said.
“You’ve been living in the same house as that guy,” Edmund said. “What do you think of him? They had one quick courtship. That doesn’t really seem like Vickie’s style.”
“Well, he’s crazy about her,” Winston said. “That part’s pretty obvious. Maybe she just met the one and knew it.”
“We can hope so,” Edmund said.
“Trust you to see the dark side of things,” Winston said. “How are you and Joy, anyway? You thinking about tying the knot? I never thought of you as the kind of guy to live so long with a girlfriend before making yourselves an honest couple.”
“Um,” Edmund said. “Joy takes commitment slowly. I think it’s time to cut the cake.
Andria had really outdone herself on that baking.
Out of the corner of her eye, Vickie did notice that Joy always seemed to be on the opposite side of the beach from Edmund. She hoped everything was all right.
“Gamora Sample-Relevart?” Judith squealed. “The astrophysicist philanthropist? I just read about you in the Avalon Times! You built the new stellar observatory. Could I have your autograph?”
“Uncle Sawyer!” Vickie said. “It’s wonderful to see you! How is the new house and, um, new family?”
“We’re coexisting just fine,” Dr Sawyer Sample said. “It’s a big house. You should make an appointment with me for a pregnancy health check.”
“Oh! I never really thought about that,” Vickie said.
“You’d be surprised what modern medicine can tell us,” Sawyer said. “Your baby is a boy, by the way.”
“It’s, uh, thanks?” Vickie said. She wasn’t totally sure she wanted to know that.
“So there’s a little nephew in there?” said Edmund.
Jonah took a bit of a break from the press of the crowd to play catch in the surf with Connery.
Winston caught up with his cousin, who was certainly older and wiser and more content. He’d never been sure what she did in that lab she kept under Andria’s greenhouse, but apparently it was pretty lucrative.
A distant cousin, one of the Sample-Bookabets, captivated a crowd with some story about her travels.
Uncle Chaim took a moment to think about Abby.
“Take a look at that!” Gamora pointed. Judith had stripped to a swimsuit and was splashing in the surf.
She waved to Edmund. He took off his shoes, rolled up his pants, and started dancing with her.
“That’s a great idea! I’m in!” shouted Danial Ibari.
“I hear that it’s customary for the couple to dance together at their wedding,” Jonah said. “Would you join me?”
“I’d be delighted,” Vickie answered.
“Aren’t they adorable!” cried the cousin. “I’ll be sure to send them the pictures.”
Winston drifted over to Emilie. “Hey, do you like to dance? Would you like to dance with me?”
Emilie beamed at him. “Sure! I’m not a great dancer just to warn you.”
“It’ll be ok,” Winston said. He took her hand and pulled her close.
“Hey you’re not bad at this!” Emilie cried, laughing, as he twirled her.
“Quick moves are part of the job,” Winston said.
“Do you think your date can spare a dance for me?” Andria asked Chaim.
“Oh, of course!” Chaim said.
“Sometimes we geezers just have to stick together,” Andria said. And they were both Sample widows now, which went without saying.
Soon everyone was dancing together on the beach.
“I guess this is it,” Vickie whispered to Jonah. “Mister and Missus Sample. And soon baby makes three.”
Jonah smiled. “I think we’ll be ready,” he said.
One of my more successful wedding parties, if I do say so myself. Even if it did start out raining. I might have had someone back at the house use the weather machine before coming. I don’t actually remember.
Finding an even vaguely wedding-like dress that had a pregnancy morph was a huge pain. After this, went and downloaded a bunch of cc for future needs. Considering how much this game is about making babies, EA sure doesn’t think pregnant ladies need much to wear.
Jonah set himself to exploring the ocean around the island. The bays and sea caves around Avalon were fascinating and very different from the scenery he was used to.
The land was beautiful too. There were so many colors and types of plants — grass, flowers, bushes, and trees. Mountains above the sea could reach up to the sky and even have snow on the top. The air changed temperature much more than the sea as well. It could swing from cold to hot and back to cold in the span of a day.
And then there were horses.
Avalon was home to a small herd of wild horses. The first time Jonah saw them, they took his breath away. They were huge and majestic. Calling the sea-critters seahorses was just a joke.
He slowly worked his way on land to try to get close to them. His first attempts were an instant failure.
Jonah was a thoughtful and determined merman, and he couldn’t get them out of his mind. He watched the horses for hours and approached them much more gradually.
That attempt was ultimately a failure too.
Winston had developed a fan base. A little fan club had even sprung up on the Internet. He lurked there every once in a while just for the ego boost.
He started seeing familiar faces show up at his performances.
One name started showing up over and over again on the fan club forum — Emilie Weaver. Eventually Winston got a chance to meet her face-to-face.
“I can’t believe we’re finally talking!” she enthused. “You look amazing on the stage, but you’re even more attractive up close.”
“I’m not sure what to say to that,” Winston said. “Thanks?”
“I enjoy watching your show, but I’m not a mindless fangirl,” Emilie said. “Well, not just a mindless fangirl.” She laughed.
The longer Winston talked to Emilie, the longer he wanted to. The chemistry between them was hard to deny. Were there rules about dating fans? Were there rules about having fans? This was new territory. A huge was probably all right.
But his mind was on other things.
Gamora activated the time machine. It was ready for one more whirl through the continuum. This was the moment where she learned whether all her carefully laid groundwork was built on the correct assumptions about the time stream.
There was no way to know without going there to see. And if it didn’t work, well… she’d just have to come up with a new plan. Everything was fixable with time?
When Jonah touched her, Vickie found it hard to think.
All she could feel was the need for more.
Jonah himself spoke mostly with his eyes. He was self-conscious about his air voice, but also he just seemed to be awkward about words. She could feel his fingers tremble against her skin, see the longing in his eyes. Whatever the energy was between them, he was just as consumed by it.
She never saw him slip out of bed as she slept and watch her anxiously.
Eventually, she just had to escape to clear her head. She slipped out while Jonah was sleeping and headed downstairs to find something to eat.
A huge old ball of fluff met her in the kitchen. He was so happy to see her that his body wiggled all over. His joints were stiff enough these days that it took a lot of energy to get that excited. “Connery!” Vickie cried. “Just the pup I need to see!”
“There’s nothing like doggy love,” she said. “Want a smoochie?”
“Hey,” Winston said, coming up behind her. “Are you ok?”
“Um, sure I’m ok?” Vickie’s voice sounded even shakier than she felt. “I think so?”
Winston looked awkward. “I know you’re a big girl and all, Vickie, but you’re my sister. I’ve never seen you bring a guy home and lock yourself in the room with him all day. Do you even know him? I’m pretty sure that’s not Rodney.”
“He’s new,” Vickie admitted. She couldn’t bring herself to say that she’d only just met him, or that they’d only exchanged a handful of words. “Gosh,” she breathed, “this really isn’t something I do.”
“I was kinda thinking that too,” Winston said.
Here, with time to think half a house away from Jonah, Vickie could see how out-of-character her behavior was. It chilled her. Could she be under a spell? She knew there were romance spells, though she’d never learned to cast one. Could… oh dear… a drug do this? Not that Jonah had given anything to eat or drink… that she remembered… And of course he acted a bit strange. He was a merman without a lot of contact with landwalkers. Why was he here again?
Vickie too a deep breath and pulled out her phone. “I think I’m going to call a friend and see if I can get some advice,” she said.
Winston’s face softened. “Look, I don’t want to freak you out. I’m your brother. I have to worry about you. But there’s no harm in giving the guy some space, right?”
She thought she was going to dial Judith, but somehow that didn’t seem like the right kind of advice. She only knew one person who might give her some insight on mermen, but they’d only exchanged some sporadic texts since they met in Isla Paradiso.
“Maya? Hi, it’s Victoria Sample.” She paused. “Yeah, it’s me! It’s great to hear your voice too! ….Yeah, we never talk voice. We should fix that …Well, yeah, I did have a reason for calling. There’s a guy, and he’s a merman, and thought you might give me some advice about mermen…”
“You can stop squealing now, Maya! I get the point!” Vickie flushed. “Yeah, maybe I deserved that.”
To Vickie’s surprise, Maya insisted on meeting in person, and she was quick with the airline reservations. She found a flight that arrived in the afternoon, and they rendezvoused at the Old Mill teahouse.
“Wow, it’s been so long! You look great!” they chorused when they laid eyes on each other.
“I had no idea you could come visit this quickly,” Vickie said. “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”
“I can’t always travel on such short notice,” Maya said, “but you lucked out this time. I had other reasons to spend some time in Avalon.”
“I hope you were going to look me up,” Vickie said.
“Sure I would,” Maya said, though Vickie thought there was a guilty edge to her voice.
“Let’s sit down and have a drink then,” Vickie said. “The Old Mill is such a peaceful place, and I never make time to come here.”
“I want to hear about this merman,” Maya said.
“You listen, and I’ll pour,” Vickie said.
Winston wandered into the kitchen in the afternoon and found Vickie’s guest sitting at the dining table, eating what Winston thought uneasily might be raw fish.
He grabbed a slice of Andria’s flaming angle food cake from the fridge and sat down beside the merman. “Hey,” he said. “I’m Vickie’s brother. My name’s Winston.”
The merman paused and gave Winston a long look. At last, he said, “I am Jonah of the Waves clan. Thank you for your hospitality.”
“It sounds like you’ve been showing my sister a good time,” Winston said. “Good for you. Just a piece of advice, man to man — Vickie lives with two brothers and her mom. You might want to be careful about loud noises.”
“Waves clan, really?” Maya said with raised eyebrows. “Those finfolk are wild.”
“Wild how?” Vickie asked, feeling her stomach tighten.
“Wild like a lot of them have never used their legs at all,” Maya said. “They live out in the deep ocean. I’ve only met a few. I get the impression that they don’t think much of shore mermaids like me.”
“If his clan doesn’t like the land,” Vickie said, “why did Jonah come here?”
Maya snickered. “For you, obviously.”
Vickie thought about that for a while. “You don’t know if Waves clan merfolk have any unusual abilities compared to shore merfolk?”
Maya frowned. “Not that I know of… What are you getting at?”
Vickie felt her face heating up. She tried to keep her voice casual. “Maybe any mermaid can do it? Affect how a human thinks about you?”
Maya frowned. She caught Vickie’s eyes from across the table until Vickie felt uncomfortable and looked away.
“Vickie,” she said. “Have you ever been with someone who really drove you crazy? Like you can’t get enough of them feel most comfortable when you’re with them?”
“I…” Vickie began. She’d had some good woohoo for sure, but she had to be honest with herself — the relationship part had always been awkward. Roderick had been good for a while, but even he had always looked at her with this devotion she couldn’t share. It made her feel guilty every time.
“I guess not,” she finished.
“You know what I think?” Maya said. “I think that you’ve got serious chemistry with a guy for the first time in your life, and it’s freaking you out.”
“You know, Maya,” Vickie said. “I think maybe you’ve got it exactly right.” She leaned forward to pour herself a little more tea.
They let the conversation drift to other things. “It’s been amazing to talk like this,” Vickie said. “I wish you were closer so we could do this all time.”
Maya gave a secretive smile. “That could happen someday,” she said. “Don’t give up hope.” She winked.
“Tell your fishy boyfriend hello for me,” Maya said. “Next time, we double-date or something, okay?”
“Absolutely,” Vickie said. “Thank you so much.”
It was dusk when she returned, and Jonah was waiting for her.
“You were gone when I woke up,” he said. His eyes looked large and mournful. “You’re unhappy. We have gone too fast. If you wish, I will return to the sea.”
“I’m sorry,” Vickie said. “I just needed to get away to think. I want you to stay. Please stay, Jonah.”
His face lit up, and he pulled her close.
I had real writer’s block with this one, but it finally came together.
Andria was sleeping better these days. The bed was big and empty, but it was comfortable and familiar.
She also rediscovered her old passions.
There were still alchemy
And even more fun, new cooking techniques!
Old Connery spent most of his time sleeping, but he slept like a king.
And Winston practiced… and performed… and practiced performing.
At home, in private, while he was nursing sore muscles, he might call his mentor Tyrone Biggs a slave driver, but he made sure that never happened where the acrobatics guru could hear him.
How many mentors forced their apprentices to balance on a wet, slippery ball on a chill rainy day? If I catch my death of cold, it will be all his fault, Winston stewed as his hand slipped yet again and he barely avoided falling on his head. Or a cracked skull. He’s going to give me traumatic brain injury, that’s what.
Biggs, however, was finally starting to be impressed by what he saw.
As the rain cleared and the sun began to set, Winston was still thinking murderous thoughts as he juggled, but Biggs was wreathed in smiles.
“I think I’ve seen enough,” Tyrone said.
Winston broke his concentration and let the batons fall around him to the stage. “You mean I can stop?” he asked. “Finally?” Every part of his body ached.
“Yeah, come down,” Tyrone said.
Winston gathered up has equipment and sloshed soggily to his mentor. He could already guess the mistakes that Biggs was going to point out, but he had no energy to try again today.
He was taken completely by surprise, then, when Biggs grabbed his hand and shook it. “Bravo,” he said. “You were amazing.”
Winston blinked. “I was what?”
“I think you are officially better than I was at my peak,” Tyrone continued. “I have nothing more to teach you. From here on out, I can no longer be your mentor. Consider us peers.”
“Wow!” Vickie said when he had told her the story. “Congratulations! You’re in the big time now!”
“I don’t know,” Winston said slowly. “Now it’s just me. I don’t have anyone to help me improve. What if I can’t go any further without Bigg’s guidance?”
“That’s nonsense,” Vickie said firmly. “I’ve seen you up there. You’re great. You can push yourself just as hard and Biggs ever did.”
Winston let himself relax. “Yeah, thanks sis.”
“That’s what I’m here for,” she said. “Now you go take a shower and get out of those soggy clothes before you catch your death of cold.”
Winston grinned. “Glad to know you still think I can take care of myself.”
On a bright, sunny morning, Vickie answered the call of the sea. The wreck of the Mango Marauder still held some secrets, and she planned to spend the afternoon investigating.
Once she slipped into the water, however, her plans changed.
Something… someone… surfaced nearby.
Mermaids in Avalon? Vickie thought of them as creatures who preferred to live in tropical climates.
“H- hello?” she said. “Are you new here? Welcome to Avalon?”
The mermaid held her gaze for another long moment. He was almost close enough to touch.
Then he dove, brushing lightly against her as he swam swiftly away.
Vickie watched as he dropped out of sight below the water. “Wow,” she said. “That was weird.”
Avalon Gossip column:
Rod’s rebound relationship with cougar Claire James ended in a shouting match like almost every relationship Claire has dated for three generations.
After which, she finally said the last goodbye to the neighborhood. She didn’t slow down to the very end. I assume she got what she wanted and enjoyed kicking guys to the curb. She sure didn’t like them clingy.
One afternoon, while she was placing some of her diving discoveries for sale at the consignment store, Vickie heard a familiar voice call her name. “Victoria Sample, is that you?”
She turned around to find Danial Ibari.
“There you are!” he exclaimed when their eyes met. “How the heck are you? It’s been too long.”
Vickie took a half-step back. Was this really Danial. He was grinning from ear to ear. When they’d last spoken, he was a shell of a man after his wife Sandra died. She’d been giving him space. “Wow,” she managed. “You look amazing.”
“It’s great to hear that because I feel amazing,” Danial said. “Life is really looking up. I still miss Sasha, but there’s so much living still to do.”
“I can’t tell you how glad I am to hear that,” Vickie said. “I was really worried about you. You deserve the very best in life.”
She remembered how Danial had felt crying on her shoulder as she held him at Sasha’s funeral. They’d really had a connection then. Then she’d let Roderick monopolize her time. What a mistake that turned out to be.
“You were with me when I hit bottom,” Danial said. “I never got a chance to thank you.”
Vickie flushed. “I didn’t think about it that way,” she said. “You’re just… you’re a great guy, Danial.”
“I know you understand that part of me died with Sasha. I feel like I’m on my second life now. I have my beautiful daughter with Sasha. You have to meet her, Vickie! And now I’m getting married again!”
“I’m so glad–” Vickie began. “You’re what?”
“I know it’s kind of sudden,” Danial said. His eyes were alight, and the words came out in a rush. “I met Devon Marmalade right after my little girl was born, and we just clicked. She has a huge family, and they adopted me. It’s like all the loneliness was the price I had to pay for this moment.”
“Wow…” Vickie said. “I’m so happy for you.”
After she escaped from the consignment store, Vickie spent the rest of the afternoon with Connery. At least their love for each other was simple and easy to understand.
“You don’t think I missed out with Danial, do you boy? Of course not! I don’t need a guy right now. When I want a boyfriend, there are plenty of single guys out there to find.”
Connery was very supportive.
Was she ready, though? Vickie could never really remember feeling lonely. Attention from boys always ended up awkward. They seemed to want something she couldn’t give. But she could imagine what it would be like to have a partner — a real partner — and it was nice. It just seemed like such a remote fantasy.
The next day dawned bright and beautiful.
“When is the last time I took you out sailing?” she asked Andria.
“I think the last time was never,” Andria said.
“Well, that’s a mistake I plan to fix right now,” Vickie said. “Bring your fishing rods. There’s a lot more I want to learn.”
Edmund rang the doorbell at Marisela’s Flynn’s house and tapped his foot as he waited. She had invited him here, but he couldn’t help feeling nervous anyway.
The door opened, and a scowling man walked out onto the front step. He didn’t say anything.
“I’m looking for… Marisela?” Edmund said nervously.
The man nodded his head and stepped aside.
“Edmund!” Marisela said. “I’m so glad you could come! I see you met my partner Brock.”
Edmund’s eyes darted over to Brock, looming at them just out of reach. “I guess I have now,” he said.
“Things happened so fast when you… turned me back,” Marisela said. “I didn’t really thank you the way I should have.”
“The look on your face was all the thanks I needed,” Edmund said. “The truth is that I didn’t know if I could do it. The Fae Council didn’t know if it could be done. The whole thing might have come to nothing. I hope I could have avoided hurting you.”
“I was ready to take the risk,” Marisela said. “You’re the first sim who ever tried to release me from my undead cage.”
“Was it really a cage to you?” Edmund asked. “I have revived other vampires now, and they all seem relieved. I did not expect that.” He didn’t exactly say that he had been reviving them without their consent, but that understanding hung between them.
“You don’t know what it feels like to be a creature of the night,” Marisela said. Her face looked haunted.” Old sims who sought it out for immortality have had time to regret. I had given up hope.”
“I’m forever grateful for your trust,” Edmund said. “And, uh, Brock, can I help you?”
Brock pushed his way into the conversation. “Hey, did you hear the one about the sim who went to the park and put his car in his pocket?” he rumbled.
“It’s… a joke?” Edmund said.
“Oh dear,” Marisela said. “Don’t let my husband bother you. He has a strange sense of humor.”
“No, really,” Brock insisted. “I have a million of ’em.”
Edmund couldn’t remember when he’d laughed so hard. Some of it was relief, but the guy really was funny. “You’re a great guy, Brock,” he said.
“Because of you, we’re going to have a baby!” Marisela said. “We’ve wanted a family for so long. Please come visit when she’s born. If you’re willing, we’d like you to be our child’s godfather.”
“Wow,” Edmund said. “I’d be honored.”
[Brock’s face! He looked so scary, but all he wanted to do was tell jokes.]
After their house was destroyed, Manisha and her husband Ash had a messy divorce. They now shared custody of their adopted daughter and lived on opposite sides of Avalon — as far apart as they could manage on the island. Manisha reverted to her maiden name of Kapoor.
Ash Sample-Baerwyn wasn’t as easy to track down as she has expected. He had an active Internet life of conspiracy theories about asteroid threats, but when he left his house, his behavior was fairly random.
On evening after work, Gamora finally found him out dancing at a local beach club.
He and his date seemed to be getting on well, and that was inconvenient.
Gamora needed to get rid of her, and she wasn’t entirely sure what to do about it. While she was scheming, Ash’s date seemed to remember something and dashed away.
Well, that was much more convenient.
She remembered the disguise as if she’d used it yesterday. It was strange to pull this identity back on. She’d never expected to use it again.
“Mr. Sample-Baerwyn!” she called out. “I’m so surprised to see you here!”
Ash turned and stared at her. “Wow,” he said. “You’re the one who started it all. Where did you disappear to? What is your name?”
“I found your asteroid apocalypse page online,” Gamora said. “I never imaged so many people would believe that an asteroid was coming to destroy our planet!”
“You opened my eyes,” Ash said. “Did you know that my house was destroyed by a meteor a few days after I spoke to you?”
Gamora managed a believable gasp. “Oh no! Was everyone all right?”
“Nobody was injured,” he said. “I knew then that we are all doomed. We have to enjoy our last days as much as we can, and to heck with the future.”
Yup… that’s definitely how he ended up divorced.
Gamora grimaced. “Well, about that….” she said.
Ash looked alarmed. “Is it coming?” he demanded. “What do you know?”
She looked down and cranked up her pheromone release as much ash she could. Breathe out, breathe in, hope he would be suggestible enough…. “The asteroid has changed course. We’re all saved.”
“What!” Ash said. “How could that happen? We’re all doomed!”
“It’s the new Astrophysics research facility,” Gamora said. “Did you hear about it?”
“That place?” he said. “I heard about it. Great big deep space telescope by the science facility. Built from a grant from some rich science snob named Sample. We’re probably related. What about it?”
“It was founded because astrophysicists read your website,” Gamora said. “They believed you and went looking for a way to solve the planet. A new probe just reached the asteroid and pushed it on a course to the sun instead.”
“You’re a hero, Mr. Sample-Baerwyn.”
Ash was dumbfounded. “You. What. That can’t be right.”
“It is! You saved the planet! If you don’t believe me, send your followers to read the records at the Astrophysics lab.” If they looked, and Gamora wasn’t entirely sure they would, she’d left plenty of clues for good conspiracy-theorists to find.
“We’re not all going to die,” he said mechanically.
“We’re not going to die,” Gamora repeated. “Thank you for everything you’ve done. You gave us hope again.”
Ash blinked, as if the entire world was too confusing for him to understand anymore. “My wife and daughter…” he murmured.
“You should give them a call, Mr. Sample-Baerwyn,” Gamora said. “I’m sure they want to hear from you.”
“But, who are you?” Ash asked again.
“Don’t worry about me,” Gamora said. “I’m nobody. Just a concerned astrophysicist.”
Woo, this one wasn’t easy to write either, but a lot happened!