Goal #12: Learn to Love Again, Part 2 (LASL)

With Love Day a few days away, festivities began popping up throughout the week in the city. I grew more and more anxious about what to get Joseph. I knew I had to get him something. I already knew what he got me, but I stuffed the bear back under the bed into its selected hiding place so I could pretend to be surprised.

John continued to live like a slob on our couch. After finishing all nine seasons of Specific Hospital, he started binge-watching Roaring Vice, but he was still mad about any love scene.

“No! She doesn’t love you!” he screamed and threw a bowl of food at the television, but it missed and splat on the floor, the bowl rolling underneath the coffee table.

I sighed. “John, you can’t do this anymore. It isn’t healthy.”

“I don’t…” he looked down at his hand, rubbing his wrist. “I don’t want to be happy.”

“So you want to be miserable?” I said, my eyes widening.

“Don’t you?” he dropped his head in his hands.

I blinked rapidly. “What?”

“It’s easier to be miserable,” John said. “…than it is to pick up the pieces.”

“Okay, well, you have to pull yourself together and shower or get off that couch,” I said firmly.

“I’m sick,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest like a petulant four-year-old.

“Lovesick maybe…” I tilted my head. “There will be other women.”

“Stop it!” he raised his voice. “Stop trying to fix it. You can’t. You can’t even fix your own marriage. Don’t try to fix my love life.”

My face fell. Hot tears pricked the corners of my eyelids. I stood, covering my mouth, as I walked into the bathroom and shut the door.

“Lizzie, I’m sorry that was uncalled for,” John called through the door, but I wouldn’t open up.

He was right. I didn’t know how to fix my marriage. Joseph and I weren’t exactly fighting, but we weren’t happy. I knew he did the best he could. He tried to remind me of the little things we used to do. He made breakfasts. He played the radio. He made me my favorite coffee. I couldn’t remember ever tasting anything better. I thanked him every day. We snuggled together on the bed before falling asleep, but anything more than that, I felt nervous. I was worried because I didn’t remember everything. I was worried that I would mess up. I was worried that Joseph would leave me.

S’moogle became my friend. I searched for things like “good presents for him for Love Day.” Top search results came back with leather gloves. I grimaced. It didn’t sound like romance to me. And he wasn’t an ax murderer. He didn’t need gloves. I chuckled awkwardly, wincing as I felt the pressure settling into my head. The doctor said headaches after a ghostly condition was normal. I suffered from four to five a week. It was aggravating. I tried pills. I tried hot showers.  I tried to sleep them off. John’s television programs blasted through the walls. I yelled at him to turn it down and covered my ears with my pillow.

I searched for more information about my condition. There weren’t a lot of reputable articles out there, which wasn’t surprising. The doctor said certain things that stimulate the senses might trigger a memory. I listened to music while I browsed the Web. I liked music. Akira and Riley tried to convince me to do karaoke with them every weekend. I declined. I wouldn’t want to be embarrassed when I forgot the words.

And I hope you don’t forget this 

You were born for better things

So if you ever… 

I found myself humming along to the playlist.

…and you can’t get back where you started 

with no strength to stand… 

I’m gonna reach for your hand,” I sang as if it were second nature, and then stopped, my face slackening.

Why was this song so familiar? 

The doctor suggested mild exercise. Akira bought me my own annual pass to Skye Fitness. He said it was the least he could do to pay back the favor. I didn’t know what that favor was, but I assumed it was pretty big because a year’s worth of gym visits wasn’t cheap. I happened to see Karleen when I arrived for the first day of my workout regiment. I was bound and determined to lose the baby weight.

“Who’s this?” I asked, reaching down to pet the beautiful big black dog bouncing by my side.

“That’s Dash,” Karleen said. “He’s Munter’s pup.”

“Aw…aren’t you a beaut!” I smiled happily.

Dash rubbed his head excitedly against my hand.

“So did you move in with him?” I inquired.

“Who? Dash?” Karleen giggled.

“You know what I meant,” I frowned. “I think you should know John is super depressed.”

“I… um…I’m sorry…” Karleen sighed, her expression rapidly changing. “I really do feel bad.”

“Then go apologize to him in person instead of acting like a coward and sending him pizzas with mixed messages,” I snipped. “And stop jerking the chains of multiple guys and make up your plum mind.”

“Gawd! I can’t believe you said that!” Karleen exclaimed. “I thought we were best friends.”

“Yeah, and best friends tell each other the truth,” I said, defensively.

“Okay, here’s some truth,” Karleen narrowed her eyes. “You used to be more fun.”

“What on Simterra is that supposed to mean?”

“Just that you weren’t a llama with a stick up its butt. Ms. High-and-Mighty, you dated more than one guy at the same time before.”

“Yeah, but I wasn’t sleeping with both of them. I made my choice.”

“And then you jerked the chain and went back to Joseph.”

“It didn’t happen like that,” I shook my head. “Rob broke up with me. He picked his kid. I don’t blame him. I made the better choice.”

“Yeah, and we don’t all get to have Josephs,” Karleen snapped. “If you weren’t so hung up on remembering absolutely everything, you’d see how plum lucky you are.”

“That’s not fair,” I gasped. “I can’t… my mind it doesn’t work like it used to.”

“Maybe you need your eyes fixed too because you really can’t see how much that guy loves you…” Karleen flung a finger accusingly toward the gym window where Joseph was busy hitting a punching bag.

“Maybe you need a heart transplant because you are being a bitch!” I exclaimed. “And if you weren’t such an ice princess, you’d see how torn up John is and break up with him like a proper adult would.”

“Don’t call me again!” Karleen growled. “Like ever!”

Karleen jogged away, leaving me feeling so dejected. My shoulders slumped. Why did I have to say such horrible things and alienate one of my closest friends? It was like my brain wasn’t communicating fast enough to prevent hurtful words from leaving my mouth. She had made her choice. I was certain. She was with Munter. But I couldn’t stop seeing John’s face in my mind, how crumpled he was because he fell hard for my best friend and she trampled on his heart.

My eyes swept to the window where my husband was working out, effortlessly punching the bag as if it were paper. He was strong. Not just physically. Emotionally. I knew he was. He was holding a lot back. I could tell. I didn’t know why. He probably wanted to protect me. He probably wanted me to be okay before he asked me to meet his needs. Still, I ached for the missing pieces. I wanted him again… but I didn’t know how. I didn’t know how to love again.

I knew better. I knew I should talk to him. I knew I should kiss him. I knew I should tell him I loved him and ask him if he loved me. Instead I headed to the treadmills as if nothing happened, while the sun set below the city skyline. Sage was running on a machine also. I asked how she was doing and what she had been up to. Only our closest friends knew what happened to Joseph and I over the new year. Sage and I had never been tight, but she was nice to me, and right now I was looking for an excuse to be distracted.

“Busy,” Sage said, breathing hard as the sweat dripped from her forehead. “I’m starting a new cosmetics line.”

“Congratulations,” I said.

“Thanks. It’s fun to do hair and makeup for the stars in town for a movie shoot, but it’ll be even more fun to be my own boss,” Sage added. “How’s your work?”

“Oh… er…” I trailed off.

To be honest, I hadn’t been working much at all. Every time I sat down at the computer, my mind was a blank. Another side effect of amnesia. I stopped returning my agent’s phone calls and I didn’t respond to my editor either. Cathy Tea brought me peppermint tea, but she was the only colleague I had seen since I took a leave of absence from the publishing house.

“I’m sorry we lost touch,” Sage said, changing the subject for me.

I breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s okay,” I swallowed and shook my head, deciding to slow my pace. I didn’t want to overdo it. “You’re busy.”

“You still with that hottie of yours?”

“Who? Joseph?”

Of course, she meant Joseph, you cowplant brain! 

“Yeah… we’ve been married for…” I started counting. When my brain started recounting, I panicked. I couldn’t remember how long. It was under a year, but more than six months, right? “We’re married,” I forced a smile.

“You two still ga-ga for each other?” Sage giggled.

It was more of a statement than a question. Even so, I felt dizzy and nauseous.

“Excuse me,” I said, stepping off the treadmill. “I need some water.”

“Are we in trouble?” Joseph asked as he sat down next to me on the recliner.

“What do you mean?” I chuckled weakly.

I knew exactly what he meant. We were in trouble, but I didn’t want to admit it. He looked so dejected as he dropped his hands between his legs, his lower lip wobbling. I laid my hands against my legs, wondering what was wrong with me. I didn’t know how to make him feel better. It seemed like it should be straightforward. I was his wife. He was my husband. We obviously loved each other enough to get married. Why couldn’t I feel anything? Something… something… I balled a fist.

“Lizzie,” he said softly. “You can barely look at me anymore.”

“I look at you,” I protested.

“No…” he began slowly. “No you don’t.”

“What do you want from me?” I said quietly as I didn’t want to draw attention to us if we started arguing.

There were two kids in the swimming pool with their parents, happily splashing about, and it felt like a knife through my heart watching them. I never realized how much it hurt to long for something you couldn’t have. For something you lost and could never get back.

“I lost someone too,” Joseph said, his voice barely above a whisper, covering his eyes as he lowered his head.

My heart felt like a mirror with tiny cracks. At any point, it could shatter. Everything was different now. Joseph was so sad, and I was powerless to help him because I didn’t know how to function like a normal, whole woman.

“It’s not the same,” I replied, my voice wobbling. “You didn’t hold… that some…one… inside… you…” I clutched my chest, breathing heavily.

“Yes… yes… I did…” Joseph’s voice broke. “Here…” he lifted his hand to his chest. “In my heart… you’re there too.”

“Elizabeth?” he reached for my hand and squeezed, his tone serious. “Please tell me you still want me?”

I stood, feeling utterly defeated. I couldn’t even bring myself to say that I still thought about him all the time, that I still felt things, however fragmented, however indecipherable. Feelings weren’t supposed to make sense, but I couldn’t put three words together to assure him that I still cared.

“I can’t… right now…”

I felt like my air supply was slowly evaporating and I needed desperately to breathe before I could answer him, before I could feel real and normal again, before I could say the words.

“Lizzie, we can make new memories together. Please?” he reached out to embrace me, but I took a step back. “I don’t mean to pressure you.” Joseph reached for my arm. “Don’t pull away. I’m here. I’m safe. You can trust me.”

“What are you saying?” I shoved him away. “Why would you say that? Only someone who has something to hide says that.”

Joseph puzzled. “I’m not hiding anything… what would make you think that?”

“Anne and Annie were talking about us last month. They said you had an affair.”

Joseph looked panicked. “No! No I didn’t. What the plumbot?!”

“I can’t do this right now,” I shoved him away. “It still hurts… too much…it doesn’t make sense. Nothing does anymore.”

Please, Lizzie, I need you,” Joseph pleaded.

“No, I’m sorry…” I turned to run up the stairs. “I can’t.”

Author Notes: These two are making things hard for me. I foolishly assumed the loss of the baby and the ghostifying thing was behind them, and then they do something like this… get into an argument and refuse to hug one another. Oh dear. Sadness abounds. Thank you for reading everyone. This chapter featured LegacySims2017‘s Joseph, Munterbacon’s Dash, Karilan‘s Sage, and John and Karleen. 


Goal #12: Learn to Love Again, Part 1 (LASL)

Love is in the air. Or at least that’s what the magazine cover said. I felt incredibly dejected as I researched Valensim’s Day. Otherwise known as Love Day. A holiday devoted to a Jacoban saint,  Valensini. A day for lovers.  A day where people show affection and commonly exchange candy,  flowers, cards,  and/or gifts.

It was bad enough that I forgot many things, but now I forgot an important day devoted to love… and Joseph and I hadn’t been close since before the new year. We still slept in the same bed,  shared meals together, and kissed each other goodnight,  but it felt routine, like brushing my teeth. My doctor said it was normal to experience a relational setback after what Joseph and I had been through,  and we would see improvement slowly as we recovered.  I wondered if I’d ever remember the man I fell in love with,  if I’d remember everything.

I called Karleen.

Buenos dias,” she answered,  sounding way too happy.

John had called her out on the cheating shortly after the new year,  and told her he needed space to think.  Last I knew Karleen was upset.

“Good morning?” I translated.

How come I could translate a foreign language but I couldnt remember more important things?

Munter asked me to move in.”

“Really? I take it you made your choice.”

He gave me a key to his apartment for a trial weekend.”

“And?  The weekend was…” I paused to count.  “Three days ago.”

I haven’t left for five days,” she sounded proud of herself.

“Karleen!” I exclaimed.  “What about work?”

I’ve called in sick,” she said,  and I pictured the air quotes. “And Munter is great.  He cooks the most amazing food,  though I’ll admit we’ve ordered pizza on occasion because we’re too lazy to leave the bedroom.”

“So you’ve decided you’re official?”

Not exactly. It’s complicated.  I do…” she lowered her voice. “I feel bad about John.”

I knew exactly how badly she felt about John, but I didn’t tell her.  My cousin had been camping out on our sofa for the past two weeks. He didn’t shower. He hadn’t shaved.  He slept a lot. And he threw Siminese food cartons at the television whenever a Specific Hospital doctor kissed a sexy nurse.  He was heartbroken. Karleen sent a dozen pizzas to his apartment, because a half dozen wasn’t enough,  with the message “Sorry” spelled out in olives.  John loved olives. The only reason I knew is because Lauryn, my editor, John’s roommate, called and asked if I sent them as a joke… and to check up on John.

Lauryn and her fiancé,  Izzie eloped over the new year. Now John felt pressured to find a new place to live, even though his roommates told him to take his time. In the meantime,  he resided on our living room sofa, even though his apartment was much nicer and he could have more privacy there.

Riley was kind enough to keep John company when Joseph and I were out. I wasn’t sure my cousin should be left alone. He only had one serious girlfriend in college before Karleen, and even then, I don’t think he was this broken up after they split. John left platefuls of food on the table and floor, hardly touching his triple stack burgers and fries, his box of Corny Snaps, or his carton of melting vanilla ice cream.

“At least you’ve got…” Riley began. “Well, let’s see…”

“What do I got?” John sniffled.

Have, John,” Riley corrected gently. “It’s what do you have…”

“Psh! Grammar! Who cares?” John waved his hand before wiping his runny nose on his sleeve.

Riley grimaced. “I care… and gawd! John, you can’t live like this. Drink some of your juice here… juice is good for you.”

“I don’t wanna,” John curled up in a ball on the couch. “Pineapple makes me think of Karleen…” he whined.

Riley sighed.

“Joseph got me a… teddy bear… with a heart pillow for Valensim’s Day!”

Then you can stop pulling flower petals and wondering if there’s a fifty-fifty chance that he loves you not,” Karleen joked.

“Kar, I’m serious. What does it mean?”

What does what mean? A bear and heart? He loves you, silly!

“But I didn’t get him anything,” I protested. “And I don’t know what kind of gift I should give him. I feel like I’m all new at this and a teenager again.”

You could always just give him you. When’s the last time...” Karleen began, but I cut her off.

“Don’t go there,” I frowned, and pinched my nose. “I don’t want to think about it.” I dropped my arms to my side in a huff. “You’re getting plenty enough for the both of us.”

Aww yeah, I am,” Karleen snickered. “Plum! I’m lucky.”

“More like screwed,” I sighed, and flopped on the bed. “Sleeping with two men!”

Ha!” Karleen laughed. “Any more screwing and I’m going to end up with freezer bunny burn from the carpet. They both seem to like the floor. We can never quite make it to the bed.”

“Karleen, you have to make a decision. This isn’t healthy for you. Or for them,” I wrinkled my nose, feeling a sneeze coming on.

Ooo… someone’s thinking of you,” Karleen teased.

“Don’t….” I sneezed. “Change the subject. Doesn’t Munter care?”

Mmm,” Karleen shrugged. “He’s super patient with me. Actually he’s super… well, just about everything…”

“Don’t you think they’ve waited long enough?”

Oh but where’s the fun in that?”

“One of these days it’s going to all catch up to you…”

Karleen cut me off. “He’s awake. I think it’s time for round two… or is it round three?” she giggled. “Or four? Talk to you later, love.”

Karleen hung up and left me feeling frustrated.

“Who was that?” Munter inquired.

“Oh just Liz, she’s having trouble figuring out a Valensim’s gift for Joseph,” Karleen replied. “On that note, what do you…” she stopped and made a sexy pose. “…want for Love Day?”

“I already got what I want,” he smiled, a twinkle in his eye.

Karleen giggled. “I’m serious. What do you want? You better have bought me a big present.”

“It was expensive too,” he pulled her close.

Karleen squealed happily and clapped her hands.

“Awww, Dash… who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?”

A half-hour later, Munter was showering to get ready for work after days in bed with Karleen. She offered to take the dog for a walk since the dogwalker hadn’t come in three days, or if he had, they didn’t notice. Karleen snapped the leash on Dash’s collar and took him for a jaunt around Uptown, drinking in the sheer vastness of the building heights and the stark color choices. Hmm… she frowned as Dash did his business. Munter needed more color in his apartment.

Maybe that’s why he added me, she thought smugly as she rode the elevator to the upper floor. Perhaps today she could chat logistics with Munter. Maybe Lizzie was right. Maybe she really should decide, and the man right in front of her was the obvious choice. Except today he was actually going to work. I guess someone’s gotta make the moula, she smirked, wondering if her boss had fired her yet.

She actually wasn’t sure what Munter did for a living but she knew he didn’t need to work. His family had a park named after them, and a bank, she thought. He was working on the next great Sim National novel, and he made wicked good drinks and enjoyed baking. She once saw him in a chef’s outfit. Maybe he was an under-the-radar celebrity chef.

Karleen made a mental note to ask given they were practically living together. As she returned to the hallway outside his apartment, she noticed a neighbor, dressed in neutral white and black, sorting through his mail at the wall, facing away from her. Somehow he looked familiar, but she had never bothered to really say anything to him until now.

“You’re Mister Bacon’s new woman, aren’t you?” he spoke softly, almost too quietly for her to hear as he perused his bills.

“Uh… yeah…” she shrugged.

They hadn’t given each other labels yet.

“I’m Karleen,” she smiled and waved, smiling at the sight of her Love Day present from Munter proudly displayed on her third finger.

Big, bold, and shiny. Just like she liked it.

“That’s some rock,” the man eyed her sharply out of the corner of his eye. “What’s it worth? Five thousand? Seven thousand Simos?”

“Um…” Karleen pulled her hand back, feeling conspicious. “I dunno. How long have you been Munter’s neighbor?”

“Long enough,” he offered a charming smile, eyeing her coyly from beneath his black-rimmed glasses.

“Munter only just moved back to San Myshuno like a year ago,” she said, happily. “And I’m glad he did,” she blushed.

“I’d be careful. He’s a billionaire and billionaires get bored,” the man warned.

“Who?” she decided to play dumb. “Aren’t you um…” she swallowed, offering an alternative word. “…rich? I mean to afford a place like this.”

“My job compensates me enough to afford my place of residence,” he said, almost sounding amused as he eyed her up and down.

“Say I didn’t catch your name,” Karleen tried to change the subject.

“The name’s Goober. And if Munter tosses you out,” he motioned toward his apartment door. “…you’re welcome to crash at my pad… at least until you get on your feet.”

“Uh… I do have my own place,” Karleen made a face, disturbed by what he was insinuating. “We’re pretty happy.”

“I can tell,” he grinned.

Karleen flushed, wondering if their extracurricular activities were too loud. She would’ve assumed these fancy walls were thick.

Goober  straightened his vest as he sauntered through the double doors of his apartment. “Have a great day. Oh… and,” he winked. “I’d have that ring insured.”

Author Notes: Thanks for reading. So LegacySims2017’s Goober Nerdstrom finally makes an appearance, and he seriously ran the gambit with his in-game interactions, from flirty to insulting. And of course, that klepto trait just shined. 😛 This chapter also featured simscognito‘s Riley Cognito and Munterbacon‘s Munter Bacon, in addition to John and Karleen, my created Sims.

Goal #11: Return to Life (LASL)

Our hotel was booked through the end of the week. At least that’s what the papers said. And the hotel manager assured. And Joseph reminded. The thought of going home… empty… was depressing.  I felt weighted, like something was tying me down and I kept sinking toward the ocean floor, helpless as I watched my memories above the surface drift away.

I didn’t want to go home.  The apartment would be unfamiliar, I was certain.  I wasn’t ready to face reality.  That is the word, right? Reality is real. Right now I can drift between the imaginary and the incarnate. I didn’t want to face people.  Joseph was busy answering my phone and his phone,  taking calls from concerned and disbelieving parents, siblings,  and friends. How do you say a person was dead,  but not really? A ghost in between life and afterlife? Returned,  revived,  but not resurrected because I was a ghost, not a human,  not a lost soul,  but somewhere in limbo.

Joseph didn’t pry.  He didn’t ask questions.  He simply accepted me back.  Why couldn’t everyone else?  For those who didn’t believe me,  they speculated – everything from kidnapping to running away to affair to abortion to faking the pregnancy. For those who did,  they inquired about everything from how did it feel to did it hurt to did I see anyone famous in the world beyond to was God real.

Joseph didn’t want to talk about it, but I knew he was struggling too. He took long walks through the gallery to give me my space, especially when I cried. I needed to cry, but I didn’t feel comfortable crying with him. I should. He’s my husband, I’d tell myself. What does that mean? Sometimes I’d make Joseph leave late at night so I could be alone. Night was when my brain was most active and I couldn’t sleep. Joseph would patiently and silently slip on a pair of shorts and a sweater and go downstairs so I could have breathing space. What’s wrong with me? I’d cry at the walls and throw my pillow. Sometimes he would return and tell me he could swear he felt another spirit’s energy… the way he had felt mine. The whole concept was so wild and twisted and out there. It was an out of body experience that I had no control over. I couldn’t imagine it was fun for anyone else floating around in-between.

I tried to smile. Smiling was good, right? Smiling meant things were fine and I was okay. We were okay. Joseph said I liked sandwiches. We ordered BLTs from the lounge restaurant. There weren’t any seats so we stood in the bar and munched on our lunch and fries. I would look at him and wonder how I got so lucky. Such a handsome face. Such kind eyes. Sometimes I pictured him shirtless, but then I would wonder why. I could sense a feeling attached there, but I didn’t know how to make sense of it.

When Joseph would look up at me, I’d quickly drop my eyes, almost embarrassed to be caught staring. The doctor said it was normal. I flushed. Was it normal to stare at a man, a man who was your husband, and wonder what you were supposed to feel, not because you didn’t love him but because you didn’t know him? Joseph’s plate clattered to the floor. He grimaced and rubbed the back of his head awkwardly.

“Sorry,” he said as the other restaurant patrons stared in our direction.

I took dainty bites of my food, keeping my eyes on the floor. Grey-blue tiles. Like the ocean. And remnants of bread crusts, tomato seeds, and limp lettuce. A shattered plate, in twenty-five pieces. At least I think it was twenty-five pieces. I counted again.

“Are you okay, Lizzie?” Joseph inquired. “You didn’t even blink.”

“Mmmhmm…” I assured him as I took another bite, without raising my eyes. 

“Hey Lizzie, how are you?” a redhaired woman approached me.

Purple sweater. Long red braid. Acts like she knows me.The doctor recommended keeping mental notes. I wondered if my memories would ever fully return.

“I’m…” I winced, scrunching my shoulders as I attempted to think of the proper reply. “…tired.”

It was the truth, though I didn’t know how honest I should be.

“I had a lovely new year. I spent it with a nice guy named Lewis,” she said. “We should double date sometime.”

“Double date?” I replied.

“It’s a date with two couples,” another redhead piped up, turning around to join our conversation.

Crop top. Wavy red hair. Knows me too. 

“What if there are three couples?” I asked seriously.

“Then it would be a triple date, I guess,” Crop-top Redhead laughed.

“Are you seeing anyone these days?” the Purple-Sweater Redhead inquired of the other redhead.

“His name is Genji,” Crop-Top giggled. “And he adores me.”

“Excuse me,” I said, abruptly, walking away.

If only I knew their names… 

“I typically don’t deliver pizzas to Uptown,” Lewis told Joseph. “But the other day I did because some gal from the Arts Quarter was seeing some guy up in the penthouse.”

Joseph typically didn’t engage in idle gossip, but these days, it was hard to get two words from his wife. She was still struggling to piece together her memory. To be honest, his were a bit fragmented, but he seemed to remember more than she did. Joseph was so starving for conversation other than discussing life and death that he was willing to chat with the pizza delivery guy.

“And you won’t believe it. The girl tips me four times the original total and tells me to keep the change,” Lewis continued with a smirk. “At first I thought it was an error, but then she insisted I keep it. Them rich people, right? They even ordered a pizza for the dog.”

“A pizza for a dog?” Joseph repeated.

“Yeah,” Lewis shrugged. “The only reason I know she’s not one of ’em is because I’ve seen her mixing drinks down at the Waterside Warbler,” he shook his head. “No one bartends in the Spice Quarter if they’re that stinking rich.”

“Excuse me… er… can you help me?” I inquired of a pretty woman dressed in all red.

“Yes?” she responded.

“I’m… I’m not sure if you’ve seen my husband, but if you do, will you tell him I’m too tired to meet him for dinner tonight?”

“Uh… okay…” the lady shrugged casually.

Joseph sighed. Lizzie was ditching dinner again. He ordered a ham on rye with Swiss and had it sent up to the room, hoping she’d eat. He also requested they send up a cup of Simithiopian coffee, her favorite. Maybe it would trigger a memory.

Since he didn’t want to disturb Lizzie, Joseph decided to sign up for an art class. The gallery was offering a beginner’s course to still life. He wasn’t much good, but it was a start. He even saw Ali there. She was deep in conversation with another guy, flirting, giggling, even touching the man’s Afro at one point.

At least someone’s happy.

“Oh my!” Ali said, coyly lifting her hand to her lips. “You’ve never owned a pet?”

“No, I haven’t,” the man said in a deep, rolling tone. “Ma didn’t think the city was the place to own an animal. Though come to think of it… I always wanted a kitten. Maybe a cute one, with curls?” he winked.

Joseph rolled his eyes.

“Leroy,” Ali purred. “Stop it. You’ll make me blush.”

“You’ll make me gag,” Joseph muttered under his breath.

“So Kitten,” Leroy continued. “I’ve been carrying something around for you all day in my pants.”

Joseph almost hurled, splattering the wrong paint across his canvas.

“Ooo…” Ali cooed. “A rose. Wow… you’re so brave…” she gave his arm a flirtatious tap. “…to carry a thorny flower underneath all those clothes.”

“Anything for you, babe,” Leroy replied.

Joseph slammed his brush down on the easel and walked out of the class. It was nauseating and gut-wrenching to watch someone else’s love story playing out when his own was falling apart.

I sat in the bathroom of the hotel lobby, feeling hopelessly pathetic. When Joseph was sleeping last night, I slipped out and picked up another pregnancy test from the corner drugstore. I knew it wouldn’t be the answer I wanted, but somehow I hoped beyond hope that the test was a false negative. I wanted to fill that absence in my abdomen more than anything. I didn’t know why, but somehow I felt like less of a person, less of a woman than I was before. The toilet flushed next to my stall and I sighed, realizing someone else was in the room.

“It’s weird, right?”

“What is?”

The two redheads again. The faucets turned on.

“I don’t know what happened, but Riley told me something was up between those two. I didn’t believe him because who could think Joseph and Lizzie would be having marriage trouble? I mean, look at them! They’re perfect together, Anne. But then I saw them this last week and well… something’s wrong.”

“Annie! You mean you didn’t hear? Joseph had an affair,” the woman called Anne said.

“What? No!” the woman called Annie gasped as she yanked a paper towel from the dispenser.

The two ladies walked from the restroom, leaving me feeling crumpled. Joseph had an affair? My Joseph? Is that what happened between us? 

“We’re home, honey,” Joseph said.

I spun around, immediately wanting to go back down the elevator. I wasn’t sure I could do this. I didn’t know if I could go home the same way again. And now I was doubting the man in front of me. Doubting his faithfulness. Doubting his kindness. Doubting his love for me.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Kiss me,” I shook my head.

“Are you sure?” he looked worried, surprised, and relieved all at once. 

I wanted to feel something. Anything. But I felt numb. I couldn’t even engage as his lips softly met my own, as his arms wrapped around my neck and back. I tried to go through the motions and laid a hand on either side of his shoulder blades.

“I’ll make us some dinner,” he suggested. “Would you like macaroni and cheese?”


“The doctor said to eat calcium-rich foods,” he replied. “It’s your favorite. Our favorite.”

There was a little catch in his voice when he said ‘our.’

“No,” I sighed, tiredly. “I’m pretty wiped.”

“I could draw you a bath,” Joseph offered.

“I think I might just read in the bedroom and go to sleep early.”

“Oh… okay…” Joseph’s eyes dropped in disappointment. “Do you want some company?”

“No, I’m fine,” I planted a kiss on his cheek.

“Okay,” he said, jiggling the keys in the door. “I guess I’ll go take a bath. Riley will be over later with our cat. If he knocks while I’m in the bathroom and you’re still awake, will you answer the door?”

“Our cat?” I puzzled.

“Do you remember Dulcie?” Joseph prodded.

“Yes,” I replied, irritably. “Good night, Joseph,” I stepped into the bedroom and closed the door. 

Author Notes: Thank you for reading. This chapter featured LegacySims2017’s Joseph Simself and debuting the ghostly Goober Nerdstrom, SoulGal7‘s Lewis Goldwin and Leon Squires, rockannie‘s Annie Rock, MadameLee‘s Anne Charming, and friendsfan367‘s Ali Morrison. FYI, Lewis was referencing Karleen Corey and Munterbacon’s Munter and Dash. 

If Ghosts Could Cry (Side Tracks)

If ghosts could cry,  they would mourn the life they should’ve had, yet never change a thing, those fruitless tears and wasted years, a mournful song they’d sing. If ghosts could cry,  they would regret the past they should’ve lived,  yet never lose sleep,  for ghosts can’t dream, it would seem,  out there in blue-grey deep. If ghosts could cry,  they would grieve the love they would’ve lost, and never be seen,  for they’re still there and they still care, forever floating in-between. 

It’s a strange state of being,  a ghost,  a sort of sub reality,  not quite here,  not quite gone.  I could feel emotion, yet I couldn’t speak or share or be heard. I could sense my past and the profound loss but I couldn’t comprehend my future.  I was stuck,  an ethereal form of my former self.  Sometimes here.  Sometimes not.  Sometimes no where.  It somehow lacked substance and yet it was painful. I was still real… but I wasn’t.

“Why are we here?”

Joseph frowned as he realized they were standing in the courtyard outside the hotel in San Myshuno. It wasn’t daylight yet, but the air had a violet-blue haze. He wasn’t sure how they would’ve transported back so quickly. The drive time between the Hollow and the city should have put them at this location later after the sunrise.

“This is the place it began. Your wife’s energy will be strongest here.”

“How did we… get here?” Joseph frowned.

“Joseph I’m here,” I interrupted happily. “Can you see me?”

“We didn’t drive,” Caelen said quietly, reading his thoughts.

Joseph was too weak to fight the invasion of privacy. “How long was I out?”

“Awhile,” Caelen shrugged. “And we flew, of course. I had to carry you,” Caelen sighed, flicking his nails nonchalantly. “Thankfully I’m ten time stronger in bat form.”

“Can he see me?” I directed at Caelen.

Somehow I knew things.  Vampires had a special connection to ghosts.  Possibly witches too. I didn’t understand why but the knowledge was encouraging.

“No,” Caelen replied to me, shaking his head slightly.

“No, what?” Joseph asked.

Caelen didn’t answer my husband. “Try saying something.”

“Saying what?” Joseph and I said in unison.

Caelen smiled, pressing his hands together by his lips.  “You are both here.  I need to complete the final step.”

“Lizzie’s here?” Joseph exclaimed,  looking around frantically.

“Joseph… I’m here.  I’m here… Can you feel me?” I tried to embracing him in my incorporeal form.

Joseph lifted his arms and for a brief moment we connected before he walked right through me. I could sense his life energy gushing through me and the sensation was both exhilarating and terrifying.  Joseph and I were one, in the flickering moment,  but I could tell he sensed nothing of the joining like I did.  I could read his thoughts.  Exhaustion.  Guilt. Loss. I could feel what he was feeling.  Agony. Grief. Remorse. I sat in his soul and all the love he ever had for me coursed through my ghastly veins.  I choked back a sob.

“I forgive you,” I whispered, dropping my head as I could sense his energy behind me.

“He won’t remember all of this.  And you most likely won’t recall many things from this life either,” Caelen spoke to me. “Many things will be rearranged. I’ll try to keep as much in tact as possible.”

I gulped.  “Will I remember him?”

Caelen sighed.  “You might not.”

“Are you talking to Lizzie? Will you tell her I love her?” Joseph inquired.

“You can tell her yourself if all goes well in a few moments,” Caelen nodded. “We should hurry.  It’s almost dawn. Are you ready,  Lizzie?”

Liz hugging Joseph “No,” I shook my head. “Tell him to stand still.”

“Wait a moment,” Caelen said.

Joseph froze. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, but I wanted one last moment with him before either one of us forgot everything. My green fog enveloped him. I could hear his heart beat as if it were my own. I could feel his breathing. It was soothing. I closed my eyes, if ghosts have eyes, and wished with all my soul to be more than a shadow.

Joseph collapsed to to his knees.  Caelen began extracting the forbidden memories from Joseph and transferring life force to me. Caelen transferred memories to me,  and dripped Joseph’s blood on my form. As my world began to brighten and my feet lifted off the ground,  I felt a teardrop slip down my transparent cheek. I didn’t know ghosts could cry.

“Joseph… Joe?” My voice cracked. “I love you.”

The next thing I knew I was standing in our hotel room, shortly after dawn. I had flesh and bones and a beating heart and lungs that could breathe. I could feel the devastating weight of loss, but I didn’t understand it. What could cause this much emotional pain? Joseph stood stoically before me, without saying a word. I blinked a few times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

“Was it a dream?” I breathed.

“No?” he replied, more as a question than a statement.

“Are you… okay?” I frowned, as I struggled to recall a name, any name, mine or his.

“I think so,” he flexed his fingers. “I seem to be in tact.”

“Do you… remember what happened to us?” I asked, feeling the panic rising in my throat.

“We had an argument…” he puzzled, rubbing his jawline as he stared into the room. “And you and I both lost… I think… and I came to bring you back… bring you back to me… Lizzie?” he reached out and touched my arm, but I flinched.

He looked stunned as the hurt clouded his eyes. I knew who he was.  Someone important.  Someone I loved. Why couldn’t I remember? I dropped my eyes down.

“Lizzie? Honey?” he repeated. “Do you remember what happened? Do you remember me? Joseph? Your husband?”

“Joseph?” I repeated, bewildered, laying a hand across my abdomen.

“Yes…” he took a step toward me and I instinctively stepped back.

He stopped, dropping his arms to his sides. “I’m here, Lizzie. I’m here. It’s okay. You’re okay.  We’re okay.”

“Joseph?” I said one more time, willing with all my heart to remember the feelings that name conjured. “I think…” I winced, and my eyes filled with tears. “I…I lost our baby.”

Author Notes: Thanks for reading, everyone. I can now tell you what happened in game. Vlad had been following Joseph around the city, popping up everywhere. I brushed it off, intending to exclude it from the story line, but then it made sense that he was stalking Joseph. Vlad forced Joseph to feel specific emotions, an in-game interaction and vampire ability. Typically, the emotion was negative.

Since Joseph has the hot-headed trait, it wasn’t much of a leap for him to suddenly be upset with Lizzie and they started arguing throughout the week. Then Lizzie died. Just like that. I was shocked. I believe she died from sadness after catching Joseph kissing Courtney. I immediately made two saves, intending not to have Lizzie die in the story, but I wanted to play out the post-death game just to see what would happen. Joseph was devastated. He was invited by Tara to go over and “hang out.” And he mourned while with Tara. Then he went to see Caelen autonomously (I’m not sure when they became friends,  but once Lizzie passed, I saw all Joseph’s info).  Then ghost Lizzie invited Joseph to hang out at the festival which was fitting.

I used the opportunity to expand the world lore some more, and started writing these last three chapters and couldn’t stop. When I was done, I realized I needed to include this in the story. It is an ISBI after all. 

I tried to return to my other save, but the game file was corrupted for some reason. When I revived Lizzie using a cheat, since I can control one Sim during this challenge, she had lost the baby. It made sense but it was so devastating. Since resurrected ghosts lose their relationships and skill levels, it would make sense that Lizzie would forget some things, and even forget her active relationship with Joseph. I did cheat to reset their relationship status to married, but I left everything else alone. And that’s how we end up here. Thank you for reading. This chapter featured LegacySims2017’s Joseph

Til Death Do Us Part, Part 2 (Side Tracks)

Caelen Vatore knew from the moment he settled into his comfy reading chair that he wasn’t going to have a relaxing afternoon.  It came with the territory. When he told his parents he wanted to study to become a physician, they laughed. No pyre community would accept one of their own selling out, working for the government. No Sim community would ever fully accept him healing their own. Still, he knew that was what he wanted. He didn’t want a life stuck in a hollow, forced to leave with his greedy, devilish kind. He also didn’t want to live a life scared of Simmanity.

From the beginning, Caelen knew it would be an uphill battle. He would have to work hard to be accepted to an outside university and then to medical school. He would be restricted to certain housing and a curfew once he left the hollow. He would be limited on the number of hospitals that would accept him as a resident. His parents didn’t want to pay for the bills, but when they saw his genius and aptitude for tests, they relented.

Of course, Ivan and Marya Vatore were not his real parents. Lillith wasn’t even his real sister. She was witch. His adopted parents were full pyres. And Caelen… well, he was a little of everything. Mostly pyre. Some witch. And the rarest of them all – a chroniker. Basically, this meant time affected him differently than others. It essentially flowed through his veins.

Because of this rare gift or curse, depending upon how one would perceive it, he graduated from medical school at the age of eighteen. His face appeared young, his mind was in its prime, and his heart felt old. It was impossible to know his real age. Caelen worked at a hospital in San Myshuno for the first year of practicing medicine. Then the Sim National government discovered that fact that he didn’t disclose his pyre genes in addition to witch. He lost his license.

Returning to the Hollow a disgraced doctor, Caelen felt like a failure, barely out of medical school, barely able to contribute to society in some meaningful way, barely able to fix what was broken. His sister tried to make him feel welcome, but she was still able to live in the Sim citires without restrictions. They accepted witches more readily than pyres. Vampires were more dangerous to Sims. They had to be controlled, or the population would be controlled by them, or at least that’s what the government spouted. Caelen had no intention of controlling anyone.

His own kind sort-of welcomed him back. He never did feel welcome in his hometown. Then again, he wasn’t born there. His real biological parents were out there somewhere. Possibly other siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles too. He didn’t know. All he knew was his adopted parents traveled ninety-five percent of the year and he could live in their home if he cared for the property in their stead. It wasn’t a bad set-up. He had access to their financial resources. The Vatores were no slouches. And yet, he didn’t feel satisfied treating pet bats and the occasional other supernaturals that wandered into the Hollow.

Caelen approached the door before the knock. It was his witch intuition. His unexpected guest was most definitely full Sim. He could smell it. It was his pyre senses. The man looked ragged, like he hadn’t rested well in days. Dark circles forming in the tender skin beneath the eyes. He probably slept in his clothes. Caelen tried to ignore the scent of three-days-without-a-shower.

“Please.  I need your help,” the man begged. “It’s about my wife. I’ll do anything. Pay any price.”

“Come, let us have tea,” Caelen welcomed with a smile. “I have been reading the most interesting book from your world. Pride and Prejudice. It is a classic,  is it not?”

Joseph frowned.

“All the ladies are twittering about a Mister Bing-lay and a Mister Dar-say,” Caelen continued, walking further into the house. “And such a meddlesome mother,” he clicked his tongue. “Reminds me of my own.”

In truth, his mother didn’t care much about him at all. She was cold and distant. Caelen always felt close to Lillith. She was the only one he let call him Cael. Yet when his mother was home, she pestered her son about his potential and romantic prospects. She tried to arrange an engagement to another pyre in town. Then his mother tried to pay for a mail-order bride from Forgotten Hollow in the eastern Sim Union where she was born. Finally, she had tried to fix him up with the grieving Plantae widow, Tara Terrano, but the woman was too old for his taste.

“Please, I need your help. My wife,” Joseph laid his hands across his stomach.

“And baby,” Caelen interrupted and waved his hands dismissively. “Yes,  yes I know.  You’re projecting your thoughts loudly.” He set his book on the shelf. “I never discuss business on an empty stomach. You drink tea? The leaves of a plasma berry make quite a lovely tea.”

“No I don’t want any tea. I want to know how to fix this,” Joseph grunted. “… how to remove a mental implant… how to bring my wife back.”

“Come to think of it,” Caelen rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “I don’t discuss business in the foyer either.”

“This isn’t a laughing matter,” Joseph said angrily. “I… my wife is dead…” he followed the man into the living room. “My unborn child…” he sucked in air sharply.  “…is dead.”

“You said it with such finality,” Caelen observed, motioning for them to sit. “Good.”

“Good?  Good?” Joseph repeated, waving his hands in aggravation.  “How is the loss of Lizzie good? I lost the only family I have left.  Both my parents have passed on and I’m an only child. Lizzie was my family.  She was my love and I lost her.  I ruined everything because a vampire decided to take a walk in my head.  How is that good? How is there any good in death?”

“It is good because you accept it. You accept she’s gone.  It makes retrieval easier.”

“She’s not a lost toy or a pet. She’s a woman,  a human being.  How can you just say retrieval? How can you play with fate and life and death and people’s brains as if it’s a game?” Joseph frowned.

“That is what we call it. And we pyres don’t capture the souls. Kr’v do and Xekzo. We pyres are half Sim,  half vampire,  half alive,  half dead.  We can help a soul back if it wants,  and if it’s connected to this life still.”

Joseph gripped his chest. “She’s still here.  I know she’s here.  She’s in my heart.  She’s in my mind.  Her presence is…”

“…strong,” Caelen finished, taking a deep breath. “It means she has a tether. A spirit is easier than a wandering soul.”

“Lizzie?” Joseph whispered.

“You were blocked because you wanted to be,” Caelen said.

“What?” Joseph said,  darkly.

“What stopped Darcy and Elizabeth from getting together?”

“It’s a book.  What does it have to do with reality?”

“What prevented an earlier reunion?”

“I don’t have time for riddles. Can you do it or not?”

Caelen stood and stomped his foot on the ground.  “Reality is what we make it. The spirit world is as real to them as this floor is to us.  Yanking someone back can be traumatizing for the spirit,  if she is unwilling. She could have memory loss or emotional impairment or physical ailments and…” he paused for serious effect. “I can only bring one of them back.”

“The baby,” Joseph breathed.

“To be honest,  the mother stands a stronger chance of reviving,” Caelen said.

“I would have to choose?”

Joseph felt the full weight of his words.  Up until this point, he had only really been thinking about Lizzie. Of course, he felt guilty about the baby but he didn’t realize the full meaning of his loss and this decision.

Caelen nodded. “She wouldn’t survive outside the mother.”

“She?” Joseph’s eyes widened,  tears forming in the corners. “The baby was a girl?”

“You would’ve had a daughter,” Caelen confirmed.

Joseph gasped,  covering his mouth, overcome with emotion. He stood solemnly.

“Do it. Bring her back.”

“If you are certain…”

Caelen lifted his hands and a ghostly  green light appeared, waving in and out of Joseph’s head.

“You might feel dizzy.  Try to stay calm.”

“Wha… what are you doing?”

“I’m extracting all memory of Elizabeth from you,” Caelen began, and seeing Joseph’s panicked look,  he continued, “Since you knew her most intimately, you’re the ideal choice.  I take the thoughts and add them to the spiritual energy and in theory,  she returns.”

“In theory?” Joseph repeated weakly .

Caelen frowned.  “There’s no guarantee… after the process,  I’ll return your thoughts.  You’ll feel some discomfort for a few days,  but you’ll recover.”

“And Lizzie?”

“It’s best not to think about her pain right now. It only complicates the procedure.”

Caelen laid his head against Joseph’s and supported his neck with his hand.

“Touch in close proximity increases my chances of success,” he explained.

Joseph tensed.  The hot breath of a vampire on his neck was anything but pleasant.

“Try to relax. I’m going to see everything.  It might be painful,” he warned. “Are you ready?”

Joseph gulped and nodded.

“Let’s begin.”

Halfway through,  Joseph nearly collapsed, wobbling and shaking as though an earthquake possessed his body.

“Whhhhhaaaatttt’s happppppennnnnninnnng?” Joseph’s teeth chattered.

“Stay with me,  Joseph,” Caelen sounded far away.  “Joseph,  I need you to understand something,” Calen grabbed his shoulders as Joseph nearly passed out from shock. “I can complete the process, but you need to understand my question.  What prevented Darcy from being with Elizabeth sooner?”

“Oh my head!” Joseph moaned.

“Do you know?” Caelen asked.

“The title?” Joseph wheezeed. “Pride…” he bent over, clutching his abdomen.  “… and prejudice.”

“Exactly Vlad was able to implant thoughts of infidelity and disloyalty and curiosity about another woman because of your pride.”

“Wait, Vlad? Vlad…i…slaus Straud did this to me?” Joseph straightened,  fury glimmering in his eye.  “Did he kill Lizzie too?”

Caelen winced, closed his eyes,  thinking hard,  prying into Joseph’s mind to find the signature trace of another pyre. “No,  it was an accident,” his eyes fluttered open. “Listen to me. Once I’m done, you might have trouble remembering things. But I need you to remember this at all costs. Pride and Prejudice. Vlad was able to do what he did because of your weak mind. What prevented Darcy from being with Elizabeth sooner? He got in his own way. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Joseph groaned.

“You need to step aside and let me finish and you need to step aside and let Lizzie go.”

“I can’t.”

Caelen shook his head. “Right now I’m acting as a conduit for her spirit and yours.  You need to let go of all that is her and let go of all that is you if you want her back. To love is to let go and let be. Do you love her?”

“Yes,” Joseph said, mustering every ounce of strength he had left.

“Then let her go,” Caelen urged.

When Caelen was finished,  Joseph was screaming, gripping the sides of his skull in horror. The process of extracting every thought of Elizabeth was excruciating.  His brain felt like oatmeal. His whole body was trembling as a thin ghostly white light outlined his frame. He was about to enter the in-between. He had the emotional stability of a shaking leaf in a hurricane.  It was as if a tornado ripped through his mind. Caelen grabbed Joseph’s shoulder and neck.

“Stay with me,  Joseph.  The final step.  I need your blood…”

Joseph took a step back.

“Not like that,” Caelen waved his arms.  “Think of it as a transfusion.  A way to give her life and flesh again.”

“I’m letting go.  I’m letting go.  I’m letting go,” Joseph repeated to himself to try and stay calm.

Caelen sighed.  Why is it they always pass out? 

Author Notes: You read it right. Caelen instead of Caleb. It’s a pet peeve of mine. Caleb means dog, and Caleb is not a werewolf so I renamed him and gave him a back story. If you haven’t read any of my other stories, you probably don’t know about the vampire or alien lore I’ve created. I’ll try to be brief. 

The Xenosi are green-skinned xenophobic militaristic race, only rivaled by the Kr’v (known as Titanav to the Sims), a vampiric race. Both species have reapers, though the Kr’v are more well known as their Reapers are often seen among the Sims and people sometimes return. The Kr’v are the parent race of vampires, known as pyres in this world. Pyres register with the World Council and can participate in three general occupations out in the open with Sims/mundanes, with a few exceptions, military/police, medical, and entertainment. Unregistered pyres sometimes live among the Sims. Others live in autonomous city-states or sovereign states known as hollows (i.e. Midnight Hollow, Forgotten Hollow, Hidden Hollow, etc.).

Those with chronikens in their blood, known colloquially as timelords, function as timekeepers or space-time chroniclers and historians. Caelen is not a full chroniker (as they can travel through time). Caelen can only speed up or slow down time, which gives him the ability to revive recently deceased Sims with even more precision than a normal pyre without infecting the targeted Sim. Chronikers do not necessarily belong to any one specific race or group of supernatural.You can read more about vampires, witches, and other supernaturals here.

Thanks for reading. I hope you all don’t mind this little detour. I always love exploring the supernatural characters and the opportunity of more world building and expansion.This chapter featured the pre-made Caleb Caelen Vatore and LegacySims2017’s Joseph

Til Death Do Us Part, Part 1 (Side Tracks)

I, Joseph, take you Elizabeth…

…to be my lawful wedded wife…

…to have and to hold from this day forward…

…for better, for worse…

…for richer, for poorer…

…in sickness,  in health…

…to love, honor, and cherish…

…til death do us part.

Til death do us part. The words seemed to mock him now.  When he made his vows, pledging anyplace anytime,  for her,  he would always fight,  Joseph didn’t expect to lose his wife in six months.  There had to be some sort of mistake.  This wasn’t how it was supposed to end.  This wasn’t what was supposed to be.  Joseph couldn’t believe his stupidity.  He practically accused Lizzie of an affair, even though she assured him time and time again she was with him. When they recovered her phone,  Joseph saw the last person she called was not Don, or some unknown male name,  but Riley.

Idiot! And then he went and kissed another woman, a practical stranger because of a moment of weakness? A matter of confusion? How could be ever clear his conscience? What must have gone through Lizzie’s head in her final moments?  Pain beyond belief? Paralyzing fear? Staggering betrayal?  How could be ever clear his conscience? He lost the love of his life… and his unborn child and he could never forgive himself.

He hadn’t found time to plan a memorial. He couldn’t bring himself to call her family.  Riley and Annie agreed to call everyone for him as he walked around in a daze, awash with grief. What do you even do after someone dies? Joseph spent a half hour S’moogling the topic before growing too disgusted and depressed to continue. How could a person’s life boil down to doling out insurance benefits and notifying next of kin, employers, and friends? Joseph didn’t want to decide between coffins or cremation or whether to serve chicken or pork at the funeral lunch or if he wanted a wreath of flowers or a simple bouquet. Lizzie was so much more than that.  She mattered so much more than that.

What have I done?

Joseph found an intriguing sidebar in his search. Something about experimental procedures. No guarantees. Highly dangerous. Possible revival from the dead.  It was worth looking into,  he figured. There were many mysteries of the universe that people just didn’t understand yet.  He never really believed in ghosts but now anything was possible.  He needed to believe it was possible. He wanted Lizzie back,  and not just because she was his wife.  He was her husband.  At this point, he was willing to go to hell and back if it meant he could be with her again. Why did I have to be so possessive? Why was I so jealous? It was all utter nonsense.

After learning that high-ranking vampires had the ability to revive the dead, Joseph hopped in his truck and drove through the night to Hidden Hollow. He wasn’t sure how he was going to make it in the door since he didn’t know any vampires personally, but he was willing to try anything. He was willing to pay any price. Anything to bring Lizzie back. I killed her, he wept uncontrollably in the garden behind Tara Terrano’s home. A mere few months before, Joseph and Lizzie spent an unexpected honeymoon in the Hollow, happy and deeply in love. Now all hope felt lost. It’s my fault. I should be dead instead of her. 

The day seemed too bright, the birds too chipper, the trees to green. A few trees stretched dead branches to scrape the sky, but even they had buds of green erupting from the bark. Joseph sank to the bench in despair. The world went on.The sun still shone. The birds still sang. The trees still grew. The bugs still buzzed. The universe didn’t answer his plaintive cries for mercy, for peace, for relief.

Joseph wasn’t sure if he was confused or just insane for doubting Lizzie’s faithfulness, for letting that lady in neon to kiss him. It was like someone pulled out his brain and had a field day with his internal organs. Nothing made sense. Everything was inside out. His world was upside down and everyone else’s was right side up. Well, maybe that wasn’t entirely true.

He had silenced his phone an hour ago after it kept ringing continuously. First, Eddie and Essie, his in-laws. Then Nora and Lee simultaneously. Then Sammy. Then Eddie again. Then Julian. Then a handful of friends. Then his boss. He hadn’t called in and he would probably be fired if he didn’t. Typically missing work for any reason stressed him out, but today he didn’t care. Then Essie again. Riley. Cathy. Sugar. John. Then the cycle started all over. He couldn’t deal with their probing questions. He couldn’t handle their condolences. He didn’t deserve condolences or platitudes or kindness. He killed Lizzie… they just didn’t know it yet. 

“I won’t ask how you are doing,” Tara said, joining him on the bench. “I hated that question when my husband and daughter passed.”

“You had a child?” Joseph sniffed.

“Yes, a little girl. She was…” Tara smiled sadly. “…a rosebud about to bloom when she died.”

Joseph frowned. “How can you say that?”

“Say what?” Tara asked.

“Di…” he couldn’t even bring himself to finish the word. “It’s… so… final…” he shuddered.

“It’s the cycle of life. First there’s life, then there’s death. My people understand this even more than other Sims. Our length of life is often much shorter,” Tara explained. “Everything dies. We must accept this in order to truly appreciate life.”

“Like not take things…or people for granted?” Joseph inquired, swiping at tears forming at his eyes.

“You were granted a gift, Joseph,” Tara said softly. “However brief, it was beautiful what you and Lizzie had.”

“But I plumming ruined it!” Joseph exclaimed, and Tara gasped at his punctuated string of curse words. “I plumming killed her… Tara… I killed her!”

Joseph felt hot anger coursing through his veins as he struggled to control his emotions. His heart bounced all over the place like a pinball in a machine.

“Anger is normal to feel, Joseph,” Tara said. “You shouldn’t feel ashamed…blaming yourself is natural too.”

“I don’t…want… I didn’t want… I don’t know…” Joseph dropped his head. “I feel like I’ve lost everything. I…” he interlocked his fingers behind his head and breathed heavily. “I came here to try and get it back. To make things right. I heard there was a way… to bring back the de…” he still couldn’t say the word aloud. “Lizzie,” he swallowed hard.

Tara exhaled and laid her hands outward. “Do you feel that?”

“Feel what?”

He grimaced as the air seemed perfectly stagnant. The birds had stopped chirping and he couldn’t hear any bugs bustling about anymore. Tara laid her hands out, palms up, and closed her eyes as she tilted her head slightly upward.

“Love,” she replied, her voice barely above a whisper. 

Joseph frowned. He could hear a catch in her tone and if he wasn’t mistaken, an infant smile formed at the edges of her mouth. As an aura of white light formed around her, Tara opened her eyes wide and made tiny fists with her green hands.

“Close your eyes,” she ordered gently.

“Why?” he did as he was told, but still felt the need to ask questions.

“I can feel her. I can feel Lizzie.”

“What?” his eyes fluttered open.

“Yes,” Tara lifted her hand and laid it on top of Joseph’s. “But this is good news. It means she’s close by.”

“Elizabeth?” Joseph called out. “Lizzie? If you can hear me,  I’m so sorry.”

“Shh,” Tara urged. “Close your eyes and listen… do you hear her? She forgives you, Joseph…she releases you.”

Joseph choked back a sob. “She is? She can? Wait…” he narrowed his eyes. “How can you know? How can you hear her? I can’t hear a thing.”

Joseph didn’t understand it, but his heart felt lighter, as if a weight had been lifted. Tara explained that many Plantae were healers with a deep connection to the earth. She could connect with Lizzie if the soul still had corporeal roots. Tara could sense Lizzie, and even if he couldn’t feel her presence, somehow Joseph knew his love was still there. 

When he opened his eyes, Tara was still glowing, but she was no longer smiling.

“I lost her,” she sighed. “It’s very fragile. The tendrils are fresh, but the roots are floating.”

“I don’t…” Joseph shook his head, misunderstanding.

“…um…” Tara scratched her leafy hair. “Think of a hydroponic garden. There are roots floating every which way in the water, but are not tethered to the ground anymore.

“You’re saying she’s in limbo?”

“Yes, The soul is a very delicate thing. In all normality, the soul passes to the next life. That’s what our ancestors have done for millennia, but… do you know the stories of how the PlantSims came to be?”


“The aliens… they experimented on my ancestors. We were never supposed to be, but we are. The aliens… they are necromancers. They can res the dead. They keep Sims in the in-between for experiments mostly,” she made a face. “Not all dead go there. Just the ones the Xenosi capture. Or the Titanav.”

“So it’s not fairy tales?” Joseph said.  

“Oh no. Titanav is real. On the planet of Titanav rules what you would call the Reaper. They are known also as Kr’v… that is what they call themselves. The Xenosi and their genetic friends, the Orbix and the Reapers… they can hold the dead and bring them back to life. We cannot ask them though. They are inaccessible.”

“You can’t bring her back?” his eyes widened with sadness.

She laid a hand across her heart. “My people can feel them because we were born from roots, but you…” she laid her other hand on his shoulder. “…would need to train.”

“Are you saying I can feel her? Touch her?” Joseph inquired.

“Not exactly. But the in-between is not far from here,” she added. “PlantSims can sense spirits, but we cannot revive them. But there is an alternative…and Joseph… it is dangerous…” she touched his forehead. “You have darkness here. And that is why you are not at peace. That is why you were tormented by false thoughts of betrayal.”

“What are you saying?”

“I have only seen this kind of dark aura caused by one thing. Mind manipulation. By a vampire.”


Tara just told Joseph that his mind had been poisoned by a vampire.  How could this be? He grabbed the sides of his head in instinctive shock.

“Do something,  Tara,” he begged.

She shook her head. “Only a pyre can lift a curse.”

“But I don’t feel it in my head,” Joseph protested.

“It’s pretty high level magic.”

“But I have clarity… now… I haven’t doubted Lizzie,  or wondered if she was telling the truth or not.  I know she is.”

Tara frowned. “In some cases,  I’ve heard very trong emotions can break through a pyre’s mind blocks. Like grief…”

“Or love,” Joseph replied,  excitedly.  “Tara? Tell me what I need to do to bring Lizzie back. You said there’s a way.”

“I can feel her… so she’s strongly tethered… to this place,” Tara began tentatively. “It’s possible…” she plucked a leaf from her arm. “…a pyre could resurrect her. I may know a friendly pyre who will help us figure this out, but the cost could be high,  Joseph.  Are you willing to pay?”

“Anything. I have to… make this right.”

Author Notes: Thanks for reading. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Xenosi (aliens which Tara speaks of), Orbix, and Titanav/Kr’v/Grim Reaper, you can read more on my other blog. Essentially, the Xenosi have long been believed to be the cause of supernaturals, creating them out of genetic experimentation for some unknown purpose, though possibly to prolong their own lives. It would make sense that they would “play” with death. Ghosts are a weird phenomenon in the Sims games, and in my Simworld, not much is known about them. This is the first time anyone has offered an explanation for them. Ghosts exist because the Xenosi (or Reapers/Kr’v) harvest the spirits, trapping them in limbo (or the in-between, as Tara calls it). I’ll continue more Friday on the subject. This chapter featured LegacySims2017’s Joseph and game generated townie, Tara Terrano. 

Side Tracks: For Better or For Worse, Part 2 (Lizzie and Joseph)

Simancilla was almost upon us. Since my argument with Joseph, we had been spending even more time apart. It was frustrating since this was supposed to be a romantic vacation. I was about ready to give up and go home alone. It didn’t make sense for us to waste Sugar’s gift when we really only came back to the room to sleep and always at different times. I couldn’t understand what had gotten into Joseph. He was acting hot-headed and jealous, and for no apparent reason. At least I wasn’t crying all the time like I was in the first trimester.

I wandered out to the festival, hoping to catch sight of Joseph. I wanted to make up and put this weird tension behind us. I wanted to enjoy the rest of the holiday together. I visited half a dozen artisans, stopped by the food vendors, and wandered through the crowds gathered around comedians and musicians and singers. I even saw Don, though I avoided him purposely. I didn’t want to give Joseph even more reason to be upset, not that his mistrust of me was justified. I couldn’t believe he was jealous.

Out of the corner of my eye, a large painting caught my attention. The artist used broad and narrow brushstrokes to capture a beautiful spring flower. The shades of pink and yellow reminded me of happiness, and I wasn’t surprised to find the piece entitled “Joy.” And it was well out of my price range too. I sighed. Still, the colors were gorgeous.

“You want to buy?” the artist inquired.

“No… I’m just looking…” I shook my head. “Admiring,” I added, more slowly.

“It’s a good luck flower,” she explained, bending over as she put a few items away in a canvas satchel.

“Yeah, I need some of that these days,” I chuckled weakly.

“It will ward off evil spirits and bad intentions,” the artist smiled as she straightened. “I can sell it to you for fifty-percent off.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“What are you looking at?” Joseph inquired of Cathy, not five minutes after I left the artist.

“The stars. I can’t see them,” Cathy grimaced.

“It’s hazy tonight,” Joseph replied. “But we should be able to see the fireworks at midnight.”

“Cheap imitations of true natural beauty,” Cathy scoffed.

“Alright,” Joseph made a face. “If you say so.” 

“Where have you been?” I exclaimed, approaching Joseph.

“Where have you been?” he stared at me over the edge of his glasses. “Off with Don again?”

“Gawd! Joseph. What the plum is your problem?” I yelled. “Do you really think so little of me?”

Riley was standing nearby and gasped. “Uh oh. Trouble is brewing.”

“Butt outta this,” Joseph snapped.

“Wow, I’ve never seen them so angry with each other,” Sage said to Riley as they watched both Joseph and I stomp off in different directions.

“Or at us,” Riley frowned, and touched his lips. “I hope everything is okay.”

“Foul games are afoot,” Cathy skipped over to Riley and Sage, her ponytail swishing a little too happily behind her.

“What does that mean?” Riley exclaimed, covering his mouth.

Sage grimaced. “Superstitious nonsense.”

Joseph didn’t even come back to the hotel room and I slept through the midnight fireworks. I did notice he came in around six to shower. I wondered why he didn’t just go home. I planned to tell him we should leave but he stormed out before I could have a normal conversation. When he still hadn’t returned by night fall, I decided it was time to go home. I called Riley.


Lizzie, are you okay?”

“….no, I’m not okay… Joseph is so angry with me.”


“I don’t even know. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s like someone did something with my husband and replaced him with an angry, jealous clone.”

Oh gawd! Liz. I’m so sorry. What do you need? Anything? Dulcie and I are just curled up watching dumb comedy shows on TV.”

“I need you…” I sighed unhappily. “Can you come get me? I don’t want to go home alone.”

Sure. Aw… Lizzie. I’m so sorry. I’ll bring chocolate and some chick flicks and we’ll have a sleepover so you’re not alone. Or I can bring tissues and a listening ear if that’s all you need.”

“I love you!” I swiped at the tears pricking my eyes. “You’re the best.”

I didn’t realize that Joseph was behind me during the conversation. He jogged off in a silent rage. Riley stayed on the phone with me until he arrived, bringing Dulcie in tow. I missed my kitty. It was strange that just a week ago Joseph and I were happy and in love, excited about our impending parentage, and proud new parents of an adorable cat. What had happened to us?

Joseph angrily paced the halls of the gallery, hoping to find some clarity. When he entered the lobby, he nearly bumped into Courtney.

“Hey are you okay?” she asked.

“No! I think my wife is having an affair,” he stated woefully.

“What? Oh my gawd! That’s horrible,” Courtney gasped. “What do you need?”

“A new life,” he joked harshly.

“How about a hug?” Courtney offered.

“I don’t understand what I did wrong,” Joseph sighed as they embraced.

“Nothing. You’re a great guy and if she can’t see that, then she’s an idiot,” Courtney exclaimed.

“Some days I feel like I’m surrounded by idiots,” Joseph shook his head and rubbed his temples. “I guess he was just more attractive than me and more talented than me. She loves music. Why shouldn’t I be surprised?” he threw his hands up in the air. “She dated a musician before me. Well, while dating me…”

“So once a cheater…always a cheater…” Courtney muttered, tucking an arm awkwardly behind her back. “I’m so sorry, Joseph.”

“It’s not your fault,” he sighed.

“And he’s not,” she said quietly.


“He’s not more attractive,” she said shyly. “Cuz one look at you and I’m practically drooling.”

“I’m not…sure… how to respond to that…” Joseph puzzled.

“Then don’t,” she said quietly. “Let me.”

Her pale pink lips were against his before he could stop her. His brain fogged as he felt the warmth and sincerity of her emotions. He couldn’t believe he was responding. He didn’t want to respond, and yet after Lizzie’s recent betrayal, he wanted to feel anything but sad and angry anymore. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes. My husband was wrapped in the embrace of another woman and she was kissing him. If this day could get any worse… I ran upstairs sobbing. I could hear his voice calling after me as the elevator doors slammed shut before he could reach me. I didn’t know what I would’ve done if he did. My whole body was shaking. I felt my world collapsing, like fragments of the universe cracked the mirror and I was seeing things clearly now. Joseph was having an affair. His behavior made sense now… and yet it didn’t.

Once I reached the thirtieth floor, I exited the elevator, walked to my room, and changed. I wasn’t sure why. Nothing made sense to me anymore. I just didn’t want to wear the clothes I was wearing when I caught Joseph kissing another woman. When I was done, I grabbed my phone and keys and made a beeline for the stairs. I wasn’t sure where I was going. Somewhere. Anywhere but here. I wasn’t even sure if Riley would find me. Or if it would matter. Or if I ever wanted to see Joseph again.

My vision blurred by tears I stepped out in the road to hail a taxi. I don’t remember the impact. I don’t remember falling. I remember the blue. Everything looked blue and hazy. I remember screaming and horns honking and panic, but it was all muffled as I gave into the blue. 

Nothing but blue and smoke.

Author Note: Yes… it is what you think. And it’s not. I’ll explain more soon, but in the meantime, cliffhanger. Joseph and Lizzie started arguing during their trip and things escalated. Of course, a misunderstanding here and there caused something minor to explode. There is more than meets the eye here.  I will say this. LASL is not over. I will continue as the game proceeded without Lizzie and I promise you things do get better.

FYI, Simancilla is my Simworld version of New Year’s Day! 

This chapter featured CathyTea‘s Cathy Tea,  Karilan’s Sage Reed, LegacySims2017’s Joseph Simselfsimscognito’s Riley Cognito, and SoulGal7s Courtney Neon. Thanks for reading. 

Random LASL Fun

Hi everyone, I posted these in the forums, but several people said they couldn’t view them so I figured I might as well post here in WordPress. If you have difficulties here, try opening this post in a browser instead of reading in WordPress reader. Sorry for all the difficulties.

Here are some fun pictures and some crazy outtakes from my latest gaming adventures in the LASL world. They aren’t majorly spoilerish in terms of plot so if you aren’t caught up, you can still view them.

Karleen and Ash eat dinner
Karleen Corey and her roommate, @TheYayToasts Ash Toast. Karleen is eating peas and Ash is eating chips for dinner. And Ash is admiring their super colorful walls. I love their apartment btw. I did very little to tweak it.

Raj and Ameera Love
Ameera and Raj kissing neck
Back in Oasis Springs, these two lovebirds, Raj Rasoya and @MINEZ‘s Ameera are having fun, though is she kissing his neck or drinking his blood? :grimace:

Raccoon mascot strolling
The raccoon mascot always makes me smile when I see it around town.Munter walking with Dash at nightDash chasing tail barking at it
@Munterbacon‘s Munter and Dash out for an evening stroll with @MadameLee‘s Anne and @MsShadami‘s Amy in the background. And then silly Dash is barking at his tail.

Riley likes Ali's shoes
@simscognito‘s Riley still can’t take his eyes off @friendsfan367‘s “angelic” white shoes. :D

Party and cat
Cute stretching Dulcie (from @LegacySims2017) in the bottom right corner and @MINEZ‘s Julian pulls a whole disappearing lower half trick with the table.

Riley looking right at camera
I see you, Riley (@simscognito):p

Christmas party lots going on
I love parties in the Sims 4. It’s always fun to see the expressions and reactions of Sims. Here my Simself’s sister is excited about something, but I’m loving what’s happening on the edges. @CathyTea‘s Sugar Maple is seriously eyeing Dulcie (@LegacySims2017), and in her usual quiet way, they have an understanding of sorts. And then look at Karleen! She’s just beaming @Munterbacon‘s Munter. It’s adorable. Highlighted snowman, that’s why this pic didn’t make it in the story.

Sugar does push-ups at Christmas party
@CathyTeas Sugar did some push-ups at the party too.

Akira serenades Riley - You're the Top
Akira did a shiny karaoke jazz solo. He’s such a :star: He’s serenading @simscognito‘s Riley… with a solo that sounded very much like “You’re the top!”

🎵You’re the top! You’re the Colosseum,
You’re the top! You’re the Louvre Museum,
You’re a melody from a symphony by Strauss,
You’re a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet,
You’re Mickey Mouse.
You’re the Nile, You’re the Tow’r of Pisa,
You’re the smile on the Mona Lisa.
I’m a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if, Baby, I’m the bottom,
You’re the top!🎵

Amy at the gallery
A picture of the gorgeous @Shadami‘s Amy.Caleb thriller dance

🎵’Cause this is thriller
Thriller night
And no one’s gonna save you
From the beast about to strike🎵


Joseph upset about his fork
Joseph reading through the floor
A series of weird pictures with @LegacySims2017‘s Joseph and Don Baxter… and for my next trick…

No more Don and Joseph has a phone
…make Don disappear.

Bugsie and Lizzie admire paintingBugsie and Lizzie chatAnd finally an appearance by @Bugsie2016‘s Bugsie. I was beginning to wonder if she was still in my game. :)

Thanks everyone. In a few hours, the next LASL chapter will be posted since I always post around midnight Mountain Time.

Side Tracks: For Better or For Worse, Part 1 (Lizzie & Joseph)

We tried to stick to our routines while on vacation.  The doctor recommended I try and keep as much normalcy as possible.  I was still experiencing unexplained dizzy spells. The best we could figure was the growing pressure on my insides and possibly high blood pressure. For this reason,  I was determined to eat healthy, stay hydrated,  get good sleep,  and relax as often as I could.

Joseph would still go on his morning runs while I slept in and took bubble baths. Sometimes I’d order room service.  Sometimes I ate breakfast in the lobby so I could listen to the sweet tickle of the ivories. The hotel employed a pianist. It was nice to sit and eat from the breakfast buffet and listen to relaxing music. Usually Joseph would join me after his shower and he always had tales of someone or something he saw while out and about.

“Cathy says hi,” he’d say… or… “Sage sends her love.”

Sage was bummed to be out of the country when we threw a Christmastime party.  She promised to catch the next one,  and if no one had arranged yet,  she wanted to throw me an epic baby shower in the new year.

Typically,  Joseph would stop at the coffee bar in the hotel restaurant in the AM. It was a good place to get strong coffee and mingle with festival and/or hotel guests.  Everyday he happened to run into a friend or two. On the second day of our stay, he met Courtney Neon on the steps in front of the hotel.

“Holy wow!” she exclaimed,  checking out Joseph’s glistening upper half.  “I bet you hear this a lot,” she grinned.  “But you must workout.”

Joseph chuckled. “I run everyday.  Keeps me in shape.”

“And looking like that,” she remarked,  distracted by his figure. “Makes me want to start running again.”

“You’re welcome to join me… if you can keep up,” Joseph winked. “I have yet to meet someone who can keep up.”

“Sounds like a challenge,” she grinned. “I used to run marathons.”

“Ladies and gentlemen,  we have a contender,” Joseph exclaimed.

The hotel lobby left their Christmas tree up. The air felt festive. While waiting for Joseph, I chatted with the pianist. His name was Don Baxter. He was from Oasis Springs, my hometown, but his cousin worked in San Myshuno so they were thinking about moving to the city. He had been a police detective, but he was taking some time off after a work injury and pursuing his hobby – playing the piano.

“You’re quite talented,” I remarked. “I wish I hadn’t given up piano.”

“You play?” Don arched a brow.

“I did,” I chuckled weakly. “I was horrible. I can’t coordinate my right and left hand for the life of me.”

“It’s not that hard with practice,” Don shrugged.

“True. I do have a fine appreciation for music of all kinds. I actually really like singing,” I replied.

“Ah…  très bon,” Don kissed his fingers. “You should sing with me.”

“What!?” I giggled awkwardly. “No, I can’t. Not here.”

“Why not? I would be happy to accompany a très beau femme.”

“I…don’t know…” I flushed.

“Don’t be shy,” he said.

“I think the likelihood of me singing in public other than karaoke with friends is right up there with playing the piano again,” I laughed.

“I’d be happy to give you some private lessons,” Don said, lowering his voice.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were flirting with me,” I joked.

“What if I am?” Don smiled charmingly, leaning across the piano.

I didn’t have time to respond because Joseph appeared suddenly, a grimace on his face.

“I’d have to say… back off, buddy! She’s my wife,” he snipped.

“Oh you are married!” Don exclaimed. “My apologies.”

“That’s right, walk away and leave her alone,” Joseph grunted as sat down on the couch with his breakfast and put his hand on my leg.

Pardon,” Don said, a bit of pink in his cheeks. “Enjoy your breakfast.”

“I will. I will enjoy my breakfast with my wife,” Joseph glared at the man.

As soon as Don turned, I scooted away from Joseph.

“The man apologized,” I protested.

“I don’t like men flirting with you.”

“He didn’t know I was married. He was very polite about it.”

“I don’t care. You’re my wife and he has no business flirting with you.”

“Joseph,” I huffed. “You don’t have to be so possessive.”

“But you are my wife.”

“And you’re my husband, but sheesh! I don’t tell everyone every five seconds.”

“Now you’re exaggerating.”

“And you’re getting on my nerves.”

Joseph glared in the direction of the piano. “Do you think he’s good looking?”

“What does that have to do with anything?” I threw my hands up in the air.

“Do you think he’s good looking?” he repeated.

“Joseph, I’m with you. It doesn’t matter what I think or don’t think about Don. I’d say you’re jealous for no reason.  Are you sure you aren’t suffering from pregnancy hormones?” I teased, trying to lighten the mood.

“Liz, be serious!” Joseph raised his voice.  “How do I know more guys aren’t flirting with you?  How do I know you’re not enjoying it too?”

“Now wait a minute,” I huffed. “This is supposed to be a romantic vacation and instead we’re spending all this time apart.”

“And whose fault is that?” he grumbled.

“I can’t believe you don’t trust me,” I exclaimed. “What about you?” I pointed a finger accusingly. “Should I start asking you what you’re doing on your runs in the morning? Oogling any hot women?”

“You’re not being fair!” Joseph snipped.

“Really? Really?  I’m not being fair? You’re… You’re. ..gah!” I sputtered. “You’re impossible! I’m going up to the room,” I shook my head and left in a huff, drawing the attention of several nearby individuals.

Joseph tried to follow me upstairs but I told him not to bother.  He stomped back down the stairs,  passing an eccentric looking gentleman in a red print jacket.

“Domestic troubles?” the man inquired in a low and edgy voice,  revealing his pointy incisors as he grinned.

A vampire?  Joseph was startled. In San Myshuno?

“You know what the solution is,” the man continued.  “Broader horizons.”

“Whatever,” Joseph didn’t want to deal with strange vampire suggestions.

“Just trying to help,” the man held Joseph’s wrist. “Can I give you some advice? Never commit to just one person.”

Joseph grabbed his arm back and continued down the stairs. “Excuse me.”

Author Notes: Thanks for reading everyone. The titles are getting difficult with the content of these chapters since I’ve been goal-oriented thus far. I decided to, at least temporarily, get rid of the goal related chapter titles. Some trouble in paradise for young lovers, Lizzie and LegacySims2017’s Joseph Simself. This chapter also featured SoulGal7‘s Courtney Neon and game-generated/edited townie, Don Lothario Baxter.

Goal #10: Enjoy the Holidays (LASL)

As Simcember came to a close, Joseph and I decided to enjoy our little babymoon getaway, courtesy of Sugar Maple Bough. She’s such a good friend. On New Year’s Eve weekend, we headed to the Arts Quarter to stay in a nice little hotel attached to Cabash Gallery. We had a suite on the thirtieth floor, and the hotel staff even left us a complimentary bottle of sparkling cider, since of course, I couldn’t drink nectar.

We changed and headed out to the New Year’s festival. Quite a few friends had come over to the Arts Quarter for the celebration. Cathy Tea was in town, enjoying every moment.

“You have to try the tea,” she remarked. “It’s delicious. Third vendor on the right.”

“I’ll make a point to stop over,” I replied.

“You hardly look pregnant, Lizzie,” Annie exclaimed. “I mean, how far along are you?”

“Hovering around four,” I put my hand across my belly. “My mom said she didn’t show with my kid sister until the seventh month.”

“Ah,” Cathy said. “Babies are a blessing. To cultivate new life is such a wonderful gift.”

A lady in a neon green tank top and plaid skirt brushed past our group.

“Hmmf,” she said. “Who wears crop tops in winter?”

Annie flushed.

“Ignore her, Annie,” I said. “It’s been so warm lately so I don’t blame you.”

“Who wears knee socks… like… ever?” Cathy hooted after the passerbyer.

“Ooo, I’m starving,” Karleen joined us. “Are the vendors open yet?”

“Karleen, that’s a wild outfit,” I remarked. “Love the tee.”

“Thanks. I’m as cute as pie. Or cuter than pie. Or cute to the pie… three-point-one-four…um… something…” she shrugged. “I didn’t eat lunch. Or breakfast either.”

“What? You skipped the most important meal of the day!” Cathy gasped.

“I was… um… occupied at breakfast…” Karleen giggled. “In a penthouse…with a gorgeous man. Come to think of it. I did have champagne.”

“Were you still in bed at lunchtime?” Annie asked.

“No…I was…” Karleen covered her mouth. “I had a lunch date… but it was more date than lunch. Our picnic fell in the Sound.”

“Oh no!” I said.

“We were making out and jostled the basket,” she smirked.

“Sounds like a full day,” Annie said.

“Oh it was… especially since it was dates with two different guys,” Karleen winked at me.

“No!” I exclaimed. “You aren’t still seeing both of them, are you?”

“Well?” Karleen grinned sheepishly. 

“Hey ladies,” John suddenly joined our group. “Are you ready to hit the town?”

“Hi Karleen, fancy meeting you here,” Munter walked up to our group with a plateful of something chocolaty.

Both dates appeared in the same place at the same time. From the look on her face, I gathered neither one of them knew about her casual romantic escapades.

“Hey John, you remember Annie my neighbor right?” I interjected awkwardly, trying to avoid a situation. “And this is my colleague and best selling novelist, Cathy Tea.”

“Oh wow, it’s a pleasure to meet you both,” John remarked.
“Karleen, want to go try the tea? It is delicious,” Munter inquired.

“Oh I was thinking we should get a good spot for the fireworks show, Karleen,” John said.

Karleen winced and shrugged her shoulders.

“We should all get a good spot for the fireworks,” I inserted.

“I don’t want to get in the middle of this,” Cathy said. “I’m outta here.”

“Munter… I hear you have great bartending skills,” Annie said, hoping to redirect one of the guys.

Karleen mouthed a thank-you.

“Hey, it’s that sparkly glass of champagne,” the blonde singer from the karaoke club approached our group.

Annie whirled, flushing deeply. “It’s Genji, right?” she asked.

“Yes, Genji, and you are… Annie?” he said, his eyes widening. “Please introduce me to your friends.”

Genji managed to get the whole group to go and watch his comedic slapstick song. Shy Munter stayed away from Karleen as John eagerly grabbed for her hand. I could see the hurt look on his face, and I wondered how long Karleen was going to keep this up. Lauryn showed up and wanted to see pictures of the latest ultrasound. I managed to have the files on my phone.

“Don’t tell, Joseph,” I said. “It’s a secret.”

“My lips are sealed,” Lauryn smiled.

Joseph was inside the hotel lobby getting a cup of coffee. He had worked a full day before coming over to the hotel to get checked in. I didn’t blame him for being tired. In fact, I figured he might head to bed early tonight. We didn’t need to stay out late every night of the festival.

“Do you know how this tea machine works?” the lady in neon asked.

“I think you just add the tea leaves to the top,” he replied.

“Great! Tea machines are so modern. I have retro appliances at home. Gotta brew my tea the old-fashioned way,” she added.

“These machines are convenient,” he replied.

“Are you staying at the hotel or are you just here for the festival?” she asked.

“My wife and I are staying here.”

“Smart. If you get too drunk on nectar, you have a place to crash,” she smirked. “Courtney Neon…” she offered her hand.

“Joseph Simself,” he replied, shaking her hand. “But we won’t be getting drunk. My wife’s expecting.”

“Oh congratulations!” Courtney beamed. “Enjoy the festival.”

“You too.”

I was starving, and wondering why Joseph was taking so long. I decided not to wait and order kebabs from the vendor. I needed protein up the wazoo these days to keep up my strength. Steak. Protein. Check. Tomato. Vitamin C. Check. Peppers. Avoid… uh oh! Don’t tell. I love spice.

“Are you still alone?” Lauryn inquired. “I’ll come join you if you don’t mind.”

“Joseph should be here shortly,” I replied.

“I’m right here,” he said, tripping over a crack in the sidewalk.

“Ooo… are you okay?” Lauryn asked.

“What happened?” I turned around in a panic.

“I’m fine,” Joseph said, his cheeks bright red. “It’s nothing.”

Lauryn sat down with her plate of spinach and egg quiche. Joseph devoured a plate of bratwurst and spicy mustard. I was beginning to regret the peppers. I could feel the pain forming in my chest. Heart burn. Nasty side effect of pregnancy.

A bright flash of light startled us as a loud explosion echoed seconds later above our heads. Joseph coughed dramatically.

“Uh… can I talk to you, Lizzie?” Munter appeared at my side.

“Sure…” I said, pushing back my chair. “I’ll be right back.” I laid a hand on Joseph’s shoulder. “Are you okay?”

“I’m… fine…” Joseph wheezed.

“I’ll get him some water,” Lauryn offered.

“Th…ank… you…” Joseph said as he tried to catch his breath. 

As fireworks exploded above our heads, Munter and I wandered to the edge of the festival.

“Do you know… I don’t… um… know how to say this… or ask?” Munter began. “…or if I should, but is Karleen seeing John?”

“I think you should ask her,” I said, fiddling with my cap.

“I see the way she looks at him and he looks at her,” Munter swallowed hard. “I just wanted… to… know… if it’s worth my time. I realize you might be biased. John is your cousin. Karleen is your best friend.”

“If you have feelings for her, you should tell her. It might make a difference,” I recommended.

“I haven’t found the time,” he sighed. “I just don’t know if she even wants anything other than…” he trailed off.

“Munter, just talk to her.”

Author’s Note: Hey everyone, thanks for reading. I wanted to add a little clarification. There is no hotel in the Arts Quarter or anywhere in the base game city of San Myshuno. I edited the gallery lot because I thought it would be fun and pretty as a hotel/gallery. Also in my Simworld, the new year’s celebration lasts for days. All the months of the year are twenty-eight days, and then the last day of the year is called Simultima – literally the Last Day. New Year’s celebrations typically last from Simcember 28th through the 2nd of Simuary. You can read more here

This chapter featured John Schooner and Karleen Corey, my created Sims, CathyTea‘s Cathy Tea,  LegacySims2017’s Joseph Simself, MINEZ‘s Lauryn Marks, SoulGal7‘s Courtney Neon, rockannie‘s Annie Rock, and  Munter Bacon‘s Munter Bacon.