For the next few months, I buried myself in work. Lizette Lopez took a strange liking to me, and asked me to be a full-time nanny for little Tabatha. Apparently, I was the only one who could handle her little
monster… I mean… angel. I called my other clients and quit, though I still promised to take Teresa to the library on Saturday mornings when Lizette was home and slept in. I also told Brooklyn and Kendyl I would take them to the park when I could, usually Sunday evenings because Lizette wanted to attend mass with her daughter. The hardest part was leaving little Carrie. I could still see her broken-up little face when she asked her dad if I was going to be her new mom.
I had never thought about being a mom. Not really. I always knew it was a possibility in the future if I got married and settled down someday. But somehow, the dream of motherhood eluded me. I hated playing with dolls as a kid because I didn’t like dressing them up and caring for them, not like my sisters did. I had a health scare in my late teens so I wasn’t sure I could even have kids of my own, but I figured it wasn’t like I really wanted them, right? If I didn’t have kiddos, I could still feel fulfilled, right?
In my spare time, I continued to write my novels. Lady Teresa and the Bubble Monster had sold 15 copies. I scraped my celebrities dramady in favor of another children’s book, this time, it was about a family by the name of Bunch, and my working title was Bunch Ado About Nothing. I would still keep a touch on Simspeare in there.
Lee got a promotion at work, which meant she could work on classified documents at home. This privilege was something she bragged about for weeks, content to work in her nightgown. I didn’t blame her. I often liked to lounge in my pajamas all day when I wasn’t working. We often met in the kitchen during Saturday lunch – Lee, with her ramen noodles, me, with my diced tomatoes for my garden salad.
We settled into a relatively normal routine. Mom got a job at the animal clinic in Newcrest and so she was often gone on the weekends. Dad still worked nights with his comedy routines at the Solar Flare or on the air for the local radio station, SIM-HEAT. Don’t ask. Our local radio station had a strange sense of humor. Nora was the only one still moping about because of her lack of a job. She took it upon herself to try and repair things around the house. Unfortunately, she broke more things than she fixed. Let me just saw sudden water spraying you in the ear is not fun. I paid for the repairs that week.
I decided to swear off guys for awhile. I figured it was for the best. Still, my heart ached a bit at night. I missed Rob. I would eat a bowl of Fruity-O’s on the patio in the evenings after finishing a shift at the Lopez mansion and think of Carrie. And thinking of Carrie made me inevitably think of her father. I was tempted to text him or call him, but he hadn’t reached out to me either so I should let it go.
Maybe I should try things again with Joseph. I still saw him about town almost every week, sometimes jogging, sometimes at the food cart, sometimes in the library. Unlike Rob, he still texted me on a daily basis, usually to check in, say hi, something like that. He had apologized for his behavior in Newcrest and said he really wasn’t himself that night. I joked and said he should probably stay away from the juice.
Joseph even stopped by a few times – once to watch a football game since his cable was out. He brought a mean nacho dip for my mom, and joked around with my dad, helped Lee with her Sim’c’dIn page, and even put up with Nora’s shameless flirting.
Another time he came by to bring by his excess Spooky Day candy, knowing how much I liked chocolates and even stayed to watch cheesy horror films with me. He even chucked popcorn, all in good nature, when I screamed as the werewolf jumped out at the screen.Then he made coffee with honey, vanilla, and cinnamon to make up for his teasing. I sighed happily as I leaned into the couch.
Still another time he helped Dad carry all the new workout equipment he purchased up to the second floor balcony. Joseph didn’t even break a sweat, and he even winked at me as he maneuvered up the stairs. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate his shirtless upper half… and the view of those tats.
Dad also purchased a jukebox as an anniversary present for mom. Again, Joseph came over and helped him carry the thing up the stairs. Given his propensity for fixing stereos, I couldn’t help but throw a joke in there or two. Joseph laughed… all in good fun. I was beginning to enjoy his presence… at this point, nearly every other day. He was becoming a good friend. Dad and I, of course, tested out the new jukebox… just to be sure it worked for mom later. It was fun grooving to the beats of old time music. I didn’t even care if Joseph was on the porch, leaning against the edge of the porch, smirking. It was hard not to dance to this song.
On Thankful Day, Nora decided she would barbecue the turkey. She found the perfect recipe she said. Of course, my sister + turkey + barbecue + family holiday was doomed to be a disaster. We were just glad she was okay and didn’t burn herself… though she stunk worse than a family of skunks living under a garbage heap.
Joseph just so happened to be jogging by and invited all of us to join him for a Thankful Day feast at the Springside Friends house – our neighbors wouldn’t mind, he said. And Nora totally perked up at the thought of seeing Julian. She spent almost two hours in the shower before finally arriving. Meanwhile, Joseph volunteered us to run to the store together and pick up some extra food, while my parents helped Ali, Sage, and Sammy round up more chairs.
Paper turkeys lined the window front along with the seasonal special: pumpkins. I brushed my fingers over the decoration and smiled. This really was one of my favorite times of year.
“You want a pumpkin?” Joseph asked, pulling some Simoleons out of his wallet. “Pumpkin?”
He winked. I blushed. Before I could protest, he purchased me one. I guess I didn’t really mind. The bright orange color could liven up my room, and I could always make a pie with the pumpkin later. Mmm… pie… with cinnamon… nutmeg… ginger… and a fresh-baked crust in the perfect toasty color with a generous dollop of whipped cream, and Joseph could be sitting at the end of my counter, ready for me to feed him a bite of this delicious…
“You okay there?” Joseph teased me, nudging my arm as I hugged my pumpkin while we walked to the car.
“Huh? Oh?” I snapped back to reality, and stuck my chin in the air a bit. “I’m perfectly fine.”
In the month of Simcember, I decided to take up boxing lessons. Dad said he’d pay for them as an early birthday present. That’s right. I was turning… wouldn’t you like to know? 😛
Thankfully, Joseph avoided the gym like the plague. I was starting to feel conflicted about him. I liked him as a friend, but I had a feeling he wanted more, and I wasn’t ready to admit I did too. I figured boxing could keep me distracted.
Interestingly enough, Cat drove down to the Springs on Thursday nights to attend the class. Just my luck, Rob’s ex would be here. But she was nice, and she seemed to pick up the boxing moves better than anyone else in the class. Plus she had sweet cat leggings. We joked and called ourselves the Redhead Club because 90% of the students were redhaired. Even our instructor had red hair.
“Hey kehd! What gives?” Cat asked me one night after class.
“What do you mean?” I sighed.
She was still calling me ‘kid’ in that Olde Towne accent.
“You’ve been moping since the beginning of… as long as I’ve known you.”
I was not about to tell her I had it bad for her ex, but I was starting to think about another guy. Was that wrong? Could I move on? Could I be happy?
“It’s nothing,” I picked up my water bottle and took a generous gulp.
“Ly-ar,” Cat said, shrilly. “Girl, you’ve gotta get a man.”
I nearly spit all the water out. Setting down my bottle, I pouted.
“What makes you think this is about a guy?”
“Because it’s a womanly intuitive thing. Whadda ’bout that Joseph guy?”
“Joseph? Um… we’re just friends.”
“But you wanna be more.”
Well I did.
“Plum! Girl! You’re so hot. It’s a wonder nobody’s scooped ya up yet.”
“I don’t know… if I’m such a catch…”
“Trust me… if you swung my way, I’d date ya.”
Cat howled with laughter. I couldn’t tell if she was joking or serious. I decided to flit off to the showers… alone. I needed some time to think and maybe the steam would help me clear my head. I needed to snap out of this funk.
“Yikes! Julian! I… uh…” I flailed my arms and turned as red as my hair. “I’m so sorry… I didn’t realize I was in the men’s locker room.”
“Lizzie…” he tilted his head with a slight smile. “…ça m’est égal.”
“Um… uh…” I reached for the wall and grabbed desperately at the tile, hoping my hand would find the door handle.
Here was a perfectly good-looking guy, wrapped in a towel, who lived in my neighborhood, and was single, albeit younger than me, but still… I was super nervous but not because I was into him. He shrugged the whole thing off, but I still couldn’t get rid of the humiliation. I stumbled out the door and ran away as fast as my legs would carry me.
I didn’t even stop when Cat called after me, worriedly. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to show my face in there again.
Author Notes: Thanks for reading. FYI, I have different names for the months of the year in my Simworld. Simcember is December. And Sim’c’dIn is my version of LinkedIN. This chapter featured MINEZ‘ Julian DeBateau, lilypadmeulin‘s Tabatha Lopez, and LegacySims2017‘s Joseph Simself, and mentioned friendsfan367’s Ali Morrison and Karilan’s Sage Reed. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get pictures of Joseph and Lizzie wandering around town. I tried to add a grocery store, and then silly me… forgot that I didn’t have Get To Work. Ha! Well, Joseph gifted Lizzie something so I threw in the pumpkin bit for kicks and giggles. And then… poor Lizzie, walking in on Julian. Seems like a repeat of something. 😉