My livin’asimmin’life alternate persona is Lizzie, graduate student, writer, communications nerd, and happy Simmer. I am happily married to my Sim-spouse and we have an adorable tuxedo Sim-cat. Traits: Bookworm. Clumsy. Friendly. Perfectionist. Loves the Outdoors.
As I sat in the library reading through my book on handiness, I realized I should make an effort to meet people now that I’ve returned to my hometown. Most of my college friends have exciting new lives ahead. They are exploring new worlds. They are conquering the vast jungles of the workplace. They are forging new paths and learning what it means to be an adult. And my friends from high school are off doing much of the same. I can’t exactly blame them. I want to move on with my life too, but I’m worried if I stay in Oasis Springs, I might not ever find out what it’s like to have an adventure. Perhaps I need to start with baby steps and make a new friend… or two.
A friend is an essential component to the good life, or so one of my sociology textbooks once told me. That’s right. I minored in sociology. Now you know.
I haven’t always been the best at making friends. Shocker! I know, because I talk too much, right? A person who talks incessantly is not guaranteed person friends. I learned this the hard way.
In middle school, I had a good friend. We were in church choir together. We both liked reading, and would bring a new mystery or adventure to trade each week at choir practice. Soon we became really good friends, and even best friends. The kind of friends who build blanket forts in the living room and stay up all night telling ghost tales and giggling and painting each other’s nails… you know, typical girly things. And then, something happened. She decided she liked boys, and I decided…
I liked being “one of the guys.” I enjoyed sports, football to be precise, and I could yell at the refs loudly because I knew every “play” in the books. I liked action movies, the kind with explosions and kick-ass car chases and thrilling musical scores to accompany the adrenaline rushes of seeing the lead actor catch the ‘bad guys’ once again. I preferred green and blue over pink, and jeans over dresses, and I would rather go paintballing than shopping any day. My once closest girlfriend called me ‘weird’ and she ditched me at the mall one day as she was tired of my ramblings about baseball statistics.
Then in high school, I made another close friend, a really close friend, dare I even say, another best friend. We bonded over our love of writing and music. She didn’t live in the same town as I did and so we wrote letters. Yes, the old fashioned art of letter writing. Snail mail, if you will. I would get so excited to run to the mailbox every day after school to see if another letter had appeared in my mailbox. We would write pages and pages, pouring out our hearts and souls about everything from the minutia of life to the major challenges and accomplishments. We would share our dreams for the future, critique the latest song by our favorite bands, and provide notes on each others’ stories.
And then college happened, and we both went away to colleges far away from one another. I’d spend hours at the library studying and reading everything I could get my hands on with topics from psychology to sociology to philosophy to literature to communications to business to logic. I wanted to know how things worked and why.
The difference between my best friend and I is I thrived on the learning environment. My best friend… didn’t. She hated being away from home. She hated her classes. She struggled to keep up with her grades. Midway through our sophomore year, she dropped out and moved back home. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to keep in touch with her. I did. Except I was busy. I was busy trying to keep my grade point average. I was busy trying to learn as much as I could. I was busy trying to understand the ways of the world. I was busy trying to make new friends and trying to figure out my place in life.
In the end, I shouldn’t be surprised. Ten-page letters became 2000 word emails and then that became 200 character text messages. The woman I considered my closest friend in life and I drifted apart to the point where we didn’t really know each other anymore. It wasn’t any one person’s fault, but I always blamed myself. I wasn’t a good enough friend to her. After everything she had gone through, I didn’t make enough time for her. Then again, she grew jealous of me, and it made it increasingly difficult to talk with her. I recall our last conversation when she said she “hated” me and we were done.
I like people, just as much as the next person, but after losing two of my best friends, I decided I needed to be careful who I allowed myself to get close to. Even so, going through life without friends is a lonely road. I want friends, but I am afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing. I would think by now I’d know how to “hack” friendship, but I guess not. We’ll see. There’s a whole vast world out there of people just waiting to meet me. And I’d like to meet them.
Speaking of friends, I will say this, I made the acquaintance of some fun peeps today. The first is a young girl named Teresa Spinks. She is in grade school and she’s nine years old. I was exiting the library and there she was – a pretty little brunette in a purple-and-lime green tee shirt. I told her I liked her shirt. She told me she liked my hair. It reminded her of Anne of Green Gables by Lucy M. Simgomery.
“Ann with an ‘E,’” Teresa said.
“Of course, I know Anne. We are good friends,” I replied.
Teresa’s bright blue eyes grew round as a stack of pancakes and her jaw wiggled in shock.
“Yes, anytime you open a good book and you read about wonderful heroes and heroines… you know what that is right?”
“Yes… a heroine is a woman who is admired and inspirational. We learned that in school.”
“Well, anytime you read a book and you bond with a character, you make a friend.”
Teresa’s smile widened. “Then I have many friends. A million friends.”
“A million friends?”
“A gazillion friends.”
“Ooo, that’s more than me. You must have read a gazillion books.”
Teresa giggled in that adorable childlike way.
“Yeah, I have. I have a library card. Do you?”
“Actually, I do. I just read a book on handiness.”
“What’s that?” Teresa wrinkled her nose.
“A book about doing projects around the house or on a car, fixing things that need fixed.”
“You have a car and a house? Well, yes, I suppose you would. You’re a grown up.”
“Can I let you in on a secret, Teresa?”
“I wish I was a kid. Then I wouldn’t have to pay bills. And I don’t have my own house. I live with my parents. And I don’t own a car.”
“Well, at least you don’t have a big brother bossing you around all the time.”
“I have a big sister who does… sometimes.”
“Does it get better when you’re adults?”
“Maybe… I’ll let you know.”
As we spoke another woman walked up to join us. She had skin the color of chestnuts, the color I always envied. Did I mention both of my best friends growing up had gorgeous dark skin? When I was a kid, I could never quite get my drawings of people to look right with a white crayon or a peach crayon so I drew everyone with the brown crayon. Of course, some of my teachers would make comments. I didn’t care. It was beautiful to color in brown. Here I am pasty white as a ghost on Spooky Day. I digress. This woman wore a grey long-sleeved tee and a bright yellow skirt with white polka-dots.
“Who’s your new friend, Teresa?”
“Oh this is Lizzie. She’s new in town. Not new…she just moved back. She went to college.”
I almost beamed with pride. I never thought my college degree was anything special, but Teresa’s tone made me feel good.
“I’m Sugar Maple Bough,” the dark-skinned lady introduced herself.
“Green, like the color?” Teresa smiled.
“Yes, like the color.”
“And Sugar Maple like the tree…”
“All my family is named after trees,” Sugar said with a sigh.
We continued chatting for a few minutes about family names. Her mother had been names “Aspen,” and Sugar said that she always thought that had been because aspens were some of the most resilient trees.
Another woman with a chipper smile, a dark ponytail, and a bouncy walk joined us – a friend and roommate of Sugar’s named Cathy Tea. I liked her tee shirt too – a light bulb. I asked her.
“It’s to remind me to have only one idea at a time!” Cathy said. “See? One light bulb! One idea!”
“You should have a gazillion ideas, Miss Tea! Like Anne with an E! Like how she says, ‘But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?’”
“Meh!” Cathy grumbled. “I prefer expressing my big ideas in little words. Like Wow! Every heard of Wow?”
“Of course, I have heard of ‘Wow!’ Teresa chirped. “My brother, Danny says ‘Wowza!’ And my dad always says ‘Wowie!’ And my mommy always says ‘Oh wow!’ Me? I prefer ‘wow’ by itself. It has more oomph, don’t you think, Miss Tea?”
Cathy grunted once more, but did not respond.
“‘Wow’ is an interesting word,” I piped in. “Did you know that ‘wow’ also refers to the reproduction of a sound with a slow variation in pitch?”
“Wow! That’s cool,” Teresa replied.
“I like it because it’s short,” Cathy said. “One syllable. One syllable words are rare. Try to talk in a way to use just them. It’s tough.”
“Cathy is trying to write a novel in solely single syllable words,” Sugar said.
True to her earlier patterns, Teresa replied with a singular ‘wow.’
“That’s impressive,” Lizzie’s eyes grew wide. “How is that even possible?”
“It’s true,” said Cathy. “And preferably not Latinates.”
“I love learning about the roots of words,” I exclaimed. “Personally I feel a strong connection to my Deutchsim roots and through that, I’ve been studying my connections to the Old Earth Anglo-Saxons. Did you know the Anglo-Saxions developed from three different tribes in Old World Germany and Denmark – the Anglos, the Saxons, and the Jutes?”
“The Jutes? Like a jute box?” Teresa interjected.
“Not exactly,” I smiled. “And it’s jukebox. How do you know about them? Those are old school.”
“I have friends of all ages,” Teresa declared proudly.
“That’s right, Teresa,” Sugar said affirmatively.
“We have many words in the Simlish language that developed over time from English which developed from lovely Anglo-Saxon words like ‘queen.’ Isn’t ‘queen’ just grand and stately?” I said. “Or ‘honey.’ ‘Honey’ is a sweet word.”
“Or ‘harbour’… with an ‘our.’ Why did we drop the ‘u?’ It makes it look prettier,” I sighed.
“I’m not a big fan of pretty words,” Sugar said. “I like my words to be strong and practical.”
“There are so many wonderful words derived from Anglo-Saxon roots,” I gushed. “Like ‘meadow,’ and ‘milk,’ and ‘moon,’ or ‘laugh,’ ‘listen,’ or ‘love.”
“Yes!” shouted Cathy. “Like growl, and grumple, and grump, and groupie! Wait, is groupie Anglo-Saxon?I think it might be Old French… but maybe Old French via Old German, so yeah, it counts! And don’t forget groundhog!”
“Ooo!” Teresa interjected. “I once read a story about a groundhog in school.”
“I’d love to keep chatting, folks, but it’s time for violin practice! I’ll catch you later!”
After Sugar left, Teresa asked about groundhogs.
“Aren’t they the cute furry rodents that predict the weather?”
“Only once a year,” I added.
“The groundhog… he decided that he didn’t want to come out of his burrow and tell the people the weather. He wanted to keep sleeping. It was a Saturday. He wanted to sleep in on a Saturday.”
“It’s only natural,” I said, thinking of all the days I liked to sleep in, especially Saturdays.
“But the people… they were counting on him. They needed him. So he went to a nearby shop, stood up on the counter, and demanded something that would help him stay awake so he could do his job. He said ‘hit me with your best shot,’” Teresa grinned. “You know what he got?”
Cathy and I both smiled.
“And when his friends asked what changed to make him the most productive groundhog ever, he replied, ‘Brew can do it!’”
Teresa and I laughed so hard our bellies ached.
“That is the absolute best groundhog story I have ever heard, Teresa!” Cathy applauded.
“Next time I see a groundhog, I will absolutely ask the guy, ‘Hey, hog! You seen my shadow?’”
“And the shadow would reply, ‘I got your back,’” I joked.
“Oh that’s pretty shady,” Teresa giggled.
“Your shadow puns have left me in the dark,” Cathy replied, and it was impossible to discern her mood.
This only made Teresa and I laugh harder.
“This group has been fun,” Cathy directed at Teresa. “Speaking of groups, I’ve got research to do on the etymology of ‘group.’”
Without so much as a goodbye, Cathy Tea bounced into the library and plopped down at the nearest computer.
“Guess this group is a partnership now,” I winked at Teresa. “Is she always like that?”
“Miss Tea is in her own universe sometimes,” Teresa replied.
“Sometimes I feel that way too,” I said. “Come on, let’s go find more books on puns.”
“Maybe we can get the books to open up to us?” Teresa asked, with a grin as she took my hand.
I laughed. “Teresa, I think this is the beginning of a pun-derful friendship.”
Author Note: Thanks for reading. I appreciate the collaboration with CathyTea. It was a fun experience. For the record, all my Sims stories take place on another planet named Simterra in a star system in our galaxy somewhere. You can read more about my worldbuilding here. You might occasionally see things like “Deutchsim,” which is my Simworld version of Germany, and the “first” officially “settled” location on Simterra. Feel free to ask questions if you’d like.
Kass awkwardly nursed her coffee mug. She waited for her father, Howard Fullbright, to offer his thoughts. She half-expected him to be angry and upset. Her mamma would be. Amy didn’t seem to want her daughters to date anyone. There was a major difference though between Kass and her sisters. She was an adult; Carina and Andromeda were not.
If she had hoped to calm her nerves, she picked the wrong beverage. However, she couldn’t pass up her dad’s home brew. He imported the beans from Mexsimco, and ground them himself. He added a hint of vanilla, a sprinkling of cinnamon, and a pinch of dried chili pepper for kicks. Kass coughed. Perhaps he added more chili pepper than he realized tonight. She tried to ignore the heat as her eyes watered. The spice was good for him. And she needed to be more adventurous with her cuisine.
A week ago, she had begun dating Billy again. It wasn’t something she envisioned doing, but he promised this time would be different. They decided it would be best if they were both completely and one hundred percent honest with one another. Kass told him about Davis, about how she loved him, about how she was pretty sure she still loved him. Billy was strangely okay with that. Then again, he was a strange guy. Billy told her about his commitment issues, about how he had never dated anyone seriously before, and this would be a first for him. He warned her with a wry chuckle that he might not be good at it, but Kass dismissed this fact between the passion and kisses. She told him about how her best friend was in love with her. He gave her a strange look, and smirked, saying he didn’t realize Ayesha was bi. Kass shook her head, and immediately told Billy everything about Gage, especially reassuring him that she didn’t have feelings for either of her best friends.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Billy was a werewolf. She didn’t feel deterred by this, in fact, she felt excited. Dating a supernatural was almost thrilling. Kass felt shivers in her spine even at the thought. Is this normal? She quickly picked up her coffee mug to hide her flushed cheeks.
It explained a lot of things about Billy. His moodiness. His biting fetish. His hair… the thick black hair that she liked to curl her fingers around when she wrapped her arms around his neck. Oh gawd! It might be lust. It might be love. Does it matter? Billy was a lone wolf, he explained, without a pack. He grew skittish when she asked him questions, so she figured he was sensitive about the subject, and not just throwing her a line. He was a Verbannte, which if she remembered correctly, meant exile. She couldn’t understand why someone would exile a were from their pack. Billy didn’t offer any more details, and she decided to let the subject drop. They could talk about it more later.
“Okay Dad, please… the suspense is killing me.”
“I take it you like this young man,” Howard spoke up.
Her cheeks turned red. She couldn’t figure out why she was so easily embarrassed.
“Ah, to be young and in love,” Howard smiled, interlacing his fingers behind his head.
“Dad, I’m not in love…” Kass protested. “…yet.”
Perhaps this hadn’t been a good idea – to discuss romantic partners with her father. Howard had missed this early chapter of Kass’ life, but then again, she hadn’t dated until she finished high school, and her dad did show up at her graduation. Even so, it was hardly avoidable for her father to interact with Billy.
When they discovered they couldn’t continue to park on the mobile home lot for more than two weeks, Howard and Kass needed to find a new parking space fast. Unfortunately, because of winter, no other parks or campgrounds were open to the public. Most sensible people stayed in one of the four-star hotels or rented out a cozy cabin. With his health drastically improving in Hidden Springs, Howard didn’t want to leave, and the nearest town was almost thirty miles. The Simnadian city was rather secluded.
When Kass confessed her troubles to Billy, she was surprised when he came to her rescue once again. The house he rented had a decent amount of land, and the adjacent field was perfect for a mobile home. Kass had fretted over how to tell her dad she found a place, not because she wasn’t happy about the solution, but because she was nervous to tell him how she knew Billy. She shouldn’t have been surprised he already knew… or he suspected, as he told Kass, back in Lucky Palms.
“I’m happy for you if you’re happy, Kassio,” he continued, softly.
“Really? Dad? No lecture?”
“Why would you prefer a lecture?”
“No… no… just asking… I mean… I don’t know…” Kass ran a hand through her hair. “…how this is supposed to go…”
“Father-daughter dating talks?” Howard shrugged. “If it makes you feel any better, I’m a little lost myself. This is really something for your mamma.”
“I doubt that,” Kass said, before she could stop herself.
Howard narrowed his eyes. “Your mother would have different ideas than I do… I suppose she was a bit hard on you girls…” he sighed, and then quickly added “…but only because she loves you and wants what’s best for you. Is Billy what’s best for you?”
Kass wrinkled her forehead. When Billy had come to their trailer for dinner earlier, she thought he looked and smelled incredible. He wore a grey suit, powder blue button-down, and red-striped tie. She had never seen him look so good. He arrived, with flowers for her, and a pack of Bernish beers for her father. She had never really liked red roses, finding them cliche, but Billy could’ve brought her dandelions and she would probably be happy. She figured he was trying to impress her, and her dad, and she was secretly thrilled.
She couldn’t believe she was giving him a second chance, but she also struggled to believe a guy that looked like him and had experience like him would pick her. He was different this time. Something had changed. She didn’t know what, but maybe it didn’t matter what had prompted the change. The fact that he had changed at all surprised and pleased her. She was comfortable in his arms. She craved his kisses. She was flattered by the attention he gave her, and appreciated his generosity. She liked the way she felt when she was with him, and that made her happy. Happier than she ever expected to feel.
“Honestly, Dad, I don’t know, but I’m happy,” she said, resting her hands on the table. “But I don’t want to neglect you like I did last time. Billy and I are determined to do this thing right and that means you’re my top priority right now, and he knows and respects that.”
“Kass, I appreciate you looking out for me,” Howard began. “But I want you to have fun too. You’re young. You two look good together. And you need something to do when this old geezer is sleeping all the time.”
“Dad… I’m serious…” Kass rolled her eyes. “…and you’re not sleeping as much as you did. You seem to have more energy.”
“I do,” Howard smiled. “I feel better.”
“You’ve got more color in your cheeks,” Kass nodded.
“Yeah… and so do you…”
Kass flushed even deeper this time. “Dad…”
“Okay, okay, what? The jokes from your old man too much?”
“Dad, you’re not old.”
“I’m old enough, kiddo. I’m old enough,” Howard continued, slowing his speech as he tapped his palm with his pointer and middle finger. “I’m old enough to know two things about life.”
“Oh just two things?”
Now it was Kass’ turn to tease.
“Shush, smartie pants,” Howard swallowed a smile. “There are two things I know about this life. Two little nuggets of wisdom I can pass along to you. First, life’s too short not to do something about it, and it’s too short not to do things that make you happy. And second, if it feels right, do it seems like bad advice, but kiddo…” he tapped his temple. “…you think too much with your brain…” he lowered his hand to his chest. “…and don’t let yourself feel enough with your heart.”
Kass caught her breath, and her eyes misted with tears. He was right. She might be impulsive at times, and her impulses might get her into trouble, but her mind spent too much time analyzing and thinking and pondering to let herself feel… really feel.
“You need to experience life, kiddo. And that doesn’t happen behind doors and walls and in sanitized rooms much like your mamma might think…” he lowered his head. “…forgive me, that was uncharitable…” he sighed. “…what I’m trying to say is that real life… real love… it takes risks… it takes a willingness to step outside of yourself and think about the other person even if you’ll get hurt in the process. And real love takes work. Hard work. I think I didn’t do that enough for your mom when we were together. I needed to think more with my head…” he tapped the top of his head. “…and less with my…” he tilted his head to the side.
“Dad!” Kass flushed hotly.
She didn’t want to think about her dad’s something-something with Kate or any other woman.
“Okay… okay… too much?” he winced.
“A little…” she squeaked, burying her nose in her coffee cup.
“What I’m trying to say is go for it, Kassio…” he replied. “Now that I met him, he seems like a decent guy… and even if you hit bumps before, maybe this time it will be better…so long as you’re happy and you both work hard together to make things work,” Howard leaned against the table as he stood up. “Now, this old guy is going to bed…”
“Okay,” Kass followed suit. “I’ll wash the cups.”
“Thanks Kass,” Howard walked over and kissed his daughter atop her head. “I love you, sweetie.”
“I love you too, Dad.”
Kass waited until she could hear her father breathing heavily before she relaxed. She wanted to make sure he was sleeping deeply. Sitting up in the dining area, she scrolled through her phone and perused her friends’ FaceMash pages. Audrey had messaged her at least four times in the past week, cautioning her to go slow with Billy, but she sent her congratulations. Audrey had been promoted at Sandy Place now that Romon, the boss, was spending more time at home with his wife and newest family addition, a sweet baby girl named Tawnie Tanner. Kass was happy for her former co-worker. Audrey deserved it. She browsed her friend’s page, finding new pictures of Cypher, Audrey’s sweet black cat, and a status update about a reading with Marisol Loera at The Solitary Novel.
Slumping in the booth, Kass laid the phone against her abdomen. Funny thing about Marisol. She was in Hidden Springs. In fact, she had been the teacher for the FaceMash for Beginners class at the library two weeks back. She was in the Springs to teach the class for authors, but of course, Howard had stayed anyway, even though he hoped to pick up tidbits for his catering business. Marisol had been just as surprised as he was to see him, but the two didn’t waste time scheduling a “date” to catch up. Kass recalled panicking when she realized her father didn’t come home and had spent the whole night out. It felt like role reversal, of course, but she was glad her dad was “happy” again too. He had been pretty depressed after his break-up with Kate last summer. She didn’t realized that he actually liked Marisol for more than just… thinking with the something something. Oh! Kass smacked her face. Not thinking about it. Not thinking about it. She returned to perusing her phone.
Kass made a face when she saw a notification in her sidebar about a Black Lily concert in Sim City. She didn’t want to think about their lead guitarist, Ethan Tanner. She had blocked the teen as a friend on FaceMash, Sim-ype, and Simstagram. The last she saw him things had gotten weird and downright scary. She had informed Billy about new year’s eve, and he confessed he always thought the kid was a little off. Billy had told her the kid punched him in the face after the morning they broke up. He also said he highly suspected Ethan had “seen them” in Dry Lakeside Park the night things got “weird” and Kass insisted Billy paint her half-nude after getting plastered. Maybe in a twisted way Ethan thought he was protecting her, but after his actions in Simcago, she doubted his own motives were ever pure.
LoneWolf777: You still awake?
A message from Billy popped up on her screen from her messenger app.
She bit her lip excitedly. Her heart rate accelerated just at the thought of him.
BernishBeauty: What’cha doing?
LoneWolf777: Thinking about a special someone.
BernishBeauty: Oh? I’m that special.
LoneWolf777: Someone’s confident. 🙂
BernishBeauty: It helps when they’ve got a guy who thinks the world of them. :p
LoneWolf777: Oh? The whole world, huh?
LoneWolf777: Who might that guy be?
BernishBeauty: Would you get over here and kiss me goodnight?
LoneWolf777: You don’t have to ask me twice.
Forty-five minutes later, after a make-out and impromptu star-gazing session, Kass finally shivered, hugging her arms.
“I’ve got to get some sleep, Billy,” she whispered. “And I’m freezing my butt off out here.”
“Oh…” Billy glanced over her shoulder. “But it’s a cute butt.”
She blushed, and thwacked him on the collarbone playfully. “I’m serious…” her teeth started chattering. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“We’ve got to get you warmer clothes if you’re going to adjust to life at high altitude, Red.”
“You know what I mean, Red,” he kissed her almost chastely on the cheek.
“You really are freezing,” Billy shook his head, and helped her up from the snowy ground. “Get some sleep, Red. Warm up under those covers of yours…” he grinned at the last statement.
Kass walked up the steps to the trailer. “Oh I will…” her eyes twinkled.
“Dream of me,” Billy called after her.
She blew him a kiss and disappeared inside the warmth of the RV, brushing the snow off her arms as she watched through the frosted glass as Billy turn and walk back to his house. She smiled. She would most definitely be dreaming of him tonight.
Author Note: I brought back Marisol from Interludes & Solitude: Lucky Palms episodes. She puts a little pep in Howard’s step. 🙂 And this Hidden Springs Billy is really completely different than before. Go figure. Must be the fresh mountain air in Simnadia or something. I’m liking this Sim pairing. We’ll see where it goes. Also I wanted to mention Ethan, and give an update on Audrey, for those of you who have read I&S. If not, hopefully you followed along enough. Thanks for reading. 🙂
You might be wondering how I made it to the age that I am without knowing how to lock a door. If you’re wondering my exact age, of course, I hate to disappoint you, but I’m not revealing that little fact about myself, other than to say that I am a twenties-something because doesn’t that sound more exciting than saying I am twenty? Ah…ah…ah… not telling… silly me! Where was I?
This is a strange world we live in… a world where people…er…Sims come and go as they please, and wander into each other’s rooms without a single speck of respect for privacy. I suppose I shouldn’t expect complete and utter control over my space since I am living with my parents. Yes, why am I living with my parents again? Like any self-respecting millennial, it is my desire to save money while I figure out my life post-college. I’m sitting at my desk here writing my long list of things I should do (or know) post college, and strange as it may sound, I am adding ‘how to lock a door.’
It all began when my kid sister barged into my room. That’s right. My adult sisters live at home too. I was typing away, working on this exact post. Eleanor (we call her Nora) took this as a sign that she could freely engage with me in conversation. Now Nora has always been a chatty sibling, the Green family social butterfly. We never can get her to “shut up.” When I shared a room with her back when we were both under the age of ten, Nora would chatter away every night as I would try to sleep. Personally, I like to be alone with my thoughts before I fall into a nice slumber, but Nora? She would prefer to talk 24-7 if she could.
I suppose I should cut her some slack. I haven’t been at home for awhile and she has certainly missed me. I missed her too, but I didn’t expect my ear to be talked off by an incessant stream of…
“Oh, Lizzie, I’m so happy you’re home. You and I should totally go down to the Solar Flare tonight. I hear they’ve got rattlin’ music… get it? Rattlin’!”
“Ha, ha, ha-larious.”
Of course, she could sense the sarcasm in my tone. Once upon a time, a certain someone thought a certain desert snake tail would make a lovely instrument for the orchestra game she insisted on making her sisters play, and that certain someone might have just failed to realize the “rattle” was still attached to the creature, and barely escaped with her life. Oh! I will never live that one down!
“Say Lizzie, you’ve got great digs. Mom and Dad kept everything the way you left it.”
“Yeah. I’m glad they did.”
“I really like your mirror… think we could trade?”
“What? My mirror?”
“Yeah… don’t you think it would look positively smashing in mine?”
Before I could fully formulate a sentence, she bounced out of my room in a much-too-perky manner, and returned moments later with her own mirror.
“You know… if it’s smashing… then isn’t it broken?”
She wrinkled her nose, but only for a brief flicker of a second, as a smile spread across her lips once more as she set up the floor length mirror in the corner of the room, and lifted the other mirror, my mirror, off the wall.
“Lizzie, I missed your puns.”
“And I’ll miss my mirror.”
“Psh! You’ll hardly notice it’s gone.”
“I already do…”
That’s the way things work in this world. Possessions are mine one minute and someone else’s the next. Things are here one moment and gone the next. Nora absconded with my mirror over my protests. To be fair, I didn’t fight it that much. She apparently cared way more about the looking glass than I did. Did this mean she was done bursting into my room? Nope. I managed to get a few more sentences typed before she returned. This time she prattled on about…
“…everyone at the parish says hi. They missed you. Mrs. Del Vega made those spice cookies you love, and I think she sent mom home with a welcome home basket or something for you. It’s downstairs on the dining table…oh! And Shepherd Carlson’s wife is pregnant again…”
I tried incredibly hard to sound interested as my sister plopped down on my bed, shoes and all.
“Yeah… you’re never going to believe this… with twins? Gawd, I can’t believe after all this time they are having twins?”
“They’re adults. They can do what they want.”
Right. I have to keep reminding myself that I am an adult. It feels a bit more real now that I have a college degree.
“So are mom and dad mad that I overslept?”
Nora shrugged. “Eh… mom might be miffed, but dad was understanding. Figured you might be jet-lagged.”
As I spoke, my mother wandered into the bedroom, without knocking, as usual.
“Psh! I’m your mother. I can come in if I want. Did you sleep well sweetie? Want some lunch?”
“Oh, can I borrow fifty Simoleons?” Nora added, casually, as she leaned in to look at my screen. “And what are you writing?”
Definitely need to get a lock installed. I stuck my nose in the air and minimized my screen out of annoyance.
“None of your beeswax,” I stuck my nose high in the air.
I didn’t want my family to know about the blog. What if they read it and hated it?
“And why the hell do you want fifty Simoleons?”
“Language,” my mother clucked her tongue.
“Right… it is Sunday,” I sighed.
“You shouldn’t swear any day.”
“So I take it I’m not getting fifty Simos?”
“Eleanor, quit trying to mooch off your sister. Go wash your hands. It’s time for lunch.”
Nora flounced from the room, calling for our other sister in a rather shrill tone. I winced, saved my post, and shut down my computer.
“I slept fine, Mom.”
“Good. Did you get a chance to watch the live stream of service? Dad set up the television downstairs for you to watch.”
I bit my lower lip, pretending to brush dust from my desk. “Yeah,” I fibbed.
Truth was, I only managed to catch the last ten minutes of service… mostly because I forgot and was watching reruns of Haute Nights. This week’s episode had Sultry Sweete accusing Blaze Haute of cheating on her with the house maid. Well, turns out, the butler interrupted the lover’s quarrel and admitted to having an affair with the lady in question. Turns out Ms. Sweete was not so sweetly innocent after all. I’m not a super huge fan of reality television, but there isn’t much on television on a Sunday morning.
During lunch, I asked my father if he had any spare doorknobs lying around. Of course, this got me a few strange looks, but he explained that everything cost money so if I wanted a lock for my door, I would have to pay for it myself. Darn real world mechanics! I also would need to do the labor myself. I did say I wanted to know how to lock a door. After helping my sister, Lee with the dishes, I wandered back upstairs to see if I could find information about installing latches on doors, but surprisingly the world wide Web had little to offer me except crazy cat videos. For whatever reason, this world’s Internet lags and lacks helpful information for my search parameters. I guess, I’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way.
When I left Oasis Springs for college, we didn’t have a library. In fact, we didn’t have much of anything. It was a practically a ghost town. Now you can travel to many destinations within town and visit the multitude of people who moved in while I was away. I am not complaining. I hope to meet new people and make friends. And I can hardly contain my enthusiasm for a library with books on every subject under the sun… including handiness.
I bet they even have a chapter on how to install a bedroom door lock.
Author Note: I hope you enjoyed another installment of Livin’ A Simmin’ Life (LASL). Townies and submitted Sims will start showing up in the next chapter. I had to rearrange the furniture in Lizzie’s room because of routing issues so I wrote it into the story. I also dropped some “in-game” nuggets into the story just for kicks as Lizzie is a very self-aware Sim. Thanks for reading. Happy Simming! 🙂
Regrets stewed in the heart of Kassiopeia Fullbright – regrets so large she wondered if she would ever recover. While her father napped by the poolside at Crystal Solarium, Kass had too much time on her hands… to feel… to think… to process. She should be able to breathe easy, especially in a steam-filled room with the soothing eucalyptus oil. Instead her heart rate pumped faster than it should. Perhaps it was the elevation in Hidden Springs. The Simnadian city was nearly two thousand feet higher than Desierto Rojo in Mexsimco.
She laid her arms on the chair rest, trying to calm her anxious mind. Breathe in. Breathe out. You can do this, Kass, she coaxed herself as she wiggled her toes. Dr. Bachelor had emailed her relaxation techniques, and she had been trying to practice. Thus far, none worked well, but Dr. B encouraged her not to give up. It takes time and discipline to master stress reduction, the woman had written in her last email. Kass wrinkled her nose. Disciplined? Ha! That was the last word Kass would use to describe herself.
Pick any number of things she had done in the last year, and she could illustrate just how much she lacked… discipline. Jumping into a serious relationship with Davis. Neglecting to tell her sisters about her father’s condition. Breaking up with Davis. Screaming at him when she found out he had been married and mixed up with criminals. Kass sighed. That last part wasn’t really his fault. Jumping into a relationship with Billy. Jumping into a relationship with Gage. She winced. That last one was particularly frustrating. She shouldn’t have led her best friend on. It wasn’t fair. He loved her, and she… didn’t… not that way.
Slumping down on the peppermint plaid pool deck chair, she hugged her stomach. I’m not doing this right. If she called to mind regrets or negative choices in her life, she was supposed to recall something positive to counterbalance it, Dr. Bachelor suggested. Kass played with a strand of wavy red hair, curling round her finger. Closing her eyes, she exhaled and smiled. She smelled of sea salt. The Crystal Solarium used saltwater instead of traditional chlorine, claiming the properties were healthier and better for one’s skin. The faint traces of salt in her hair reminded her of the happy days on the beach with Davis. I fell in love. That’s positive. She grunted. But I blew it! She called Davis several times since leaving Riverview. Sometimes he would pick up and she would just listen to his voice. Sometimes she would reach his voicemail. Each time she was too chicken to speak. Finally, yesterday, she finally worked up the nerve to speak to him, and a woman’s voice startled her on the line. Of course, he moved on! I did too!
Howard snored as he shifted in his mint-striped pool deck chair, and she glanced over in his direction. A slight smile played at the corners of her lips. Spending more time with her dad was definitely a positive thing about this past year. Since arriving in Hidden Springs, his health had been improving. Kass used the last of her savings to pay for a membership to the Crystal Solarium as everyone in town spoke highly of the private spa, a place of rejuvenation and healing waters. Oh how Kass hoped that last part were true! She wondered if they had the same affect on the mind and heart as they did the body.
The Solarium memberships cost a fortune, but it was worth it. Her dad was sleeping through the nights again. That was all that mattered. For the past three months, he would wake up in a cold sweat, his body plagued with aches and pangs and his mind harassed by nightmares. In the past two weeks, he had slept straight through the night. The fresh mountain air must be doing him some good, Kass figured. After leaving Riverview, she had done some research on the Internet and found some Simnadian medical professionals recently found the disease actually responded better to cold temperatures ironically. Driving north in Simnadia had been the plan already so she headed straight for Hidden Springs.
Unfortunately, upon arriving, they had discovered all but one of the doctors who published their study in a prominent academic journal had left the city, and some had even left the country due to pressures from the Sim National government. Kass wanted to throw her phone against the wall when she learned about the continued suppression of information regarding EXCES. The federal government wanted to control information to avoid mass hysteria, she supposed, but still, it didn’t seem fair or right. Even though Simnadia was its own territory with its own queen, the provinces were technically still part of the continent of Simerica, and therefore, rights within the country were complicated. Kass had driven around town, desperately trying to find information about a Dr. Deveraux, but had been unable to find anyone by that name in the city.
With a dead cell phone, Kass had returned to the library, Eloise C. Vanderburg Home for Books, named for a member of the royal family. After browsing on the computers for nearly three hours, she collapsed on the couch in the front entryway. Howard made the impromptu decision to join the FaceMash for Beginners course on the second level. He wanted to learn more about social media usage to perhaps rebuild his catering business. Not even the offer of free hot chocolate could tempt a distraught Kass, but she tried to put on her best face for her father and promised to wait for him in the lobby. That’s when she saw her ex-boyfriend again… not the one she loved… the other one… well, the one in the middle of the two other guys she dated.
Wow, Kass rolled her eyes. I sound like a slut. Three guys in less than a year. It was probably a record. This one was the charming, artistic, seductive, hairy hulk of an ex-boyfriend, the one who worked out religiously and had a body only rivaled by Helsimic gods, and the one who was a phenomenal painter…sculptor…drawer…pretty much a rock star when it came to anything with art. He wanted to apologize. He wanted to make amends. He wanted to explain why he did what he did. Kass didn’t know if he deserved the chance to offer an explanation.
Kass had been aware that Billy absconded to Hidden Springs to avoid relational commitment. What she didn’t know was that he was still there all these weeks later as she assumed he was in Sunset Valley with her best friend. Not the one I dated. The other one.
After a few phone calls, Kass learned that Ayesha Ansari was no longer in the Nation, but had been sent by her parents overseas to Al Simhara after some trouble with the law. Kass was unable to reach her friend to find out what really happened, but she knew Ayesha had spent the night with Billy Caspian.
Who would’ve thought Billy would be my salvation? She snorted, and then quickly covered her mouth and nose. What an unladylike thing to do! Thankfully, the only other patron of the Solarium in the room was an aging dark-skinned man who was enjoying an afternoon snooze by the crystal clear waters much like her father. Billy. He certainly twisted her heart around too. Did she fall in love with him? She doubted it, but then again, did she really know what love was? Not thirty seconds later did the man in question, the man occupying much of her head space for the last five days, stroll into the pool room with the same confident swagger as always.
Kass scratched her arm nervously as she stood up, tugging on her lime green tankini top as if self-conscious about her exposed midriff. As Billy approached, she was engulfed by his familiar citrus cologne. She stared down at his hairy legs, almost afraid to meet his eyes. Am I the only girl I know who is attracted to men covered with hair? Her cheeks burned.She hoped he would think she was flushed from the heat of the room.
The casual mention of his nickname for her sent shivers down her spine.
“Billy,” she squeaked, her voice barely above a whisper.
They did the awkward dance… should he or should he not kiss her on the cheek in greeting? Or would a hug be more appropriate? Kass took a step back. She opened her mouth to speak, but then Billy began talking.
Three different names. Kass frowned, as if he’s trying them on for size.
Billy placed his hands together in an almost begging fashion. It was a strange surprise.
“Please… how can you ever… I don’t even know where to start. Please hear me out.”
“I have to…” she huffed. “…it was part of our deal…” her eyes darted to her father.
Howard’s chest rose and fell, and he still appeared to be sleeping deeply. Her expression softened, and she returned her attention to her ex.
“Thank you…” she began softly. “For helping out…”
“It is my pleasure,” Billy straightened to his full height, and Kass could’ve sworn he puffed out his chest a little in pride.
She chose to ignore his cocky bravado. “I never would’ve gotten my dad into this place if you hadn’t called in a favor. Really…” she swallowed, feeling the emotions rise. “…it means the world to us.”
To me… she almost added.
“You’re welcome, Kass. I know how much your father means to you.”
Her heart warmed, and she relaxed her shoulders a bit.
“I don’t know how you talked that manager into selling me memberships at a fraction of the cost,” she laughed wryly. “The guy seemed pretty irritated at me.”
“It was nothing,” Billy shrugged. “Pierce owed me a favor. I’m giving his daughter, Sid, art lessons for a…” he winked. “…fraction of my usual cost.”
“You never gave me art lessons,” Kass replied, absently, the color surfacing in her cheeks again. Why did I say that?
“You never asked,” he said, his tone borderline flirtatious.
“Wait…” she gasped. “Pierce… that’s the name of the guy who runs this place? The manager is Pierce Shawkti?”
“The one and only,” Billy smiled.
“Wow! Oh my llamas! I thought I recognized him. Major ski competitor. Holy cowplants! He works here? I argued with Pierce Shawkti?” Kass covered her mouth again, this time from excitement.
Billy chuckled. “Sounds like you’re a fan.”
“Well… um… sort of… not really… well…um… uh… yes! Duh! Guilty as charged,” Kass cocked her head in a silly manner. “How do you know Pierce Shawkti?”
“I dated his wife.”
He said things like that so casually.
“Don’t worry. They were divorced. Ruth and I had a bit of a go-around when I was in La Ville Lumière for uni.”
She learned something new every day. “I didn’t know you studied art in Championne.”
“I did,” he quirked a brow.
“So you and Ruth Chrysanthemum, huh?”
“Yeah, Ruthie was racing drag in the streets of Lumière and I’d watch some nights. My apartment was in a pretty run-down part of town and she used to rev past my windows at night when I tried to get assignments done.”
“It’s hard to picture you studying.”
She didn’t know whether to be impressed or jealous that he had dated a famous race car driver.
“I did…Red… just a little…” he lifted his fingers to demonstrate.
“Did she pose topless for you too?”
She spoke before she could stop herself, a hint of ice forming around the words. Billy didn’t quite frown, but he was no longer smiling. He cleared his throat awkwardly.
“Maybe we should… um… head to the break room if we want to keep talking,” he motioned.
Probably one of the wisest things I have ever heard him say, Kass thought, suddenly realizing she didn’t want to have this conversation around her dad. Snagging her clothes from beneath her pool chair, Kass pulled her grey hoodless sweatshirt over her head before sliding her shorts on over her mostly dry suit and slipping into her sandals. Pulling her hair back into a ponytail, she motioned forward in a formal manner to Billy.
She settled into the relatively empty lounge at the Solarium, save an elderly couple playing cards at the far corner table. Billy picked up two mugs of the in-house brew. Kass took a sip as he returned for packages of Great Mate chocolate chip cookies. She made a face, nearly dropping her mug on the floor. He was still getting her order wrong. Milk, one sugar, not cream, two sugars. The coffee itself wasn’t bad, but the wrong additives made it too sweet and she nearly gagged on the cream. Glancing over her shoulder, she tried to spot Billy, to see if she could gulp down as much as possible before he noticed. He had bent behind the counter out of view. She puzzled as to his sudden disappearance from view, but took it as a sign to quickly inhale as much of the coffee as she could. The faster she could drink the easier it would be to stomach the drink, she figured.
“What’s wrong?” he inquired, sitting across from her.
That same damn sexy smile, she grunted.
“Um… the coffee’s delicious,” she lied.
“No it’s not,” he frowned, and lightly hit his forehead. “You hate cream. I forgot.”
“Yeah, well… you forgot a lot of things…” she shrugged. “…like the fact that you had a girlfriend back in the Palms.”
Billy winced. “Let me get you another coffee. Soy milk and three sugars?”
Kass tried to refrain from huffing in annoyance. “I don’t drink soy, Billy. Two percent is okay. Or one if they have it,” she passed him her mug. “Not whole though,” she tugged her hair tie tighter and ran a hand through her ponytail. “And I’ll add my own sugar.”
“Sure thing,” he grinned.
His suave ways were starting to irritate her. He thinks he can just put on a smile and change the subject and I’ll what? Fall back into his arms? Fall into his lap? Fall madly in love? She blushed at the last thought. Did I love him? she shook her head. No, not really. I cared. A bit… she coughed and covered her mouth as the elderly lady in the corner gave her an amused look. Kass fidgeted in her seat nervously. Can she tell? she turned her head to see if Billy was returning yet to avoid the stares. Okay, I liked him a lot. More than I cared to admit then… or now. And definitely not now.
“Better?” he asked, setting a steaming mug of nutty brown liquid on the table.
She took a delicate sip. “Better.”
“Opps, I forgot your sugar,” he reached across her to pick up the mug and return for the third time to the counter. She felt his breath on her face, his stubbly jaw inches from her mouth. “…sugar…” he added with a wink.
“Gah! Billy!” Kass threw her hands up in the air, and covered her mug with her palm to keep him from taking the beverage. “Why are you so…”
“I was going to say infuriatingly aggravating.”
“Sorry, it’s in my nature. I’ll go get the… sugar…”
Kass almost wished she hadn’t agreed to this insane idea of meeting her ex for coffee as she lifted the mug to her lips once again. If he hadn’t convinced Mr. Shawkti to lower his prices for Kass and her father, she wouldn’t be in this predicament. Her dad needed the services the private swim club had to offer, and Billy had made things possible for him. Part of her wondered if she secretly liked this game that Billy played and that’s why she was around him again. His lips just inches from hers only a few minutes ago stirred feelings in her blood, feelings she thought she buried.
Her teeth clinked against the ceramic at the thought of kissing Billy again. He was a most excellent… partner… she set the drink on the table, her hand shaking. What the hell is wrong with you, Kass? This wasn’t love… it was pure lust. Only Billy could stir the passion in me like a…wild woman. Really? Kass? Really? That’s the best you could think of? This was brand new territory for her. Well, not entirely new. She couldn’t recall feeling this way with Davis when they kissed, and with Gage, she didn’t feel much more than sweet comfort, but with Billy, it had been like every nerve in her body was on fire. Their chemistry was undeniably electric. Though they had never actually slept together… in that way… they had spent plenty of nights together in each other’s arms. They would kiss and kiss until one of them was exhausted, and then fell asleep cuddling. Did she want him like that? She hadn’t been sure in the fall, but seeing him only a few months later… Gawd! Kass! Are you an idiot!?! Did you forget that he dumped you? He left you? And he slept with your best friend. Kass pouted, her animal instincts kicking in, protesting against her better judgment. He was hot then… she licked her lips absently, casting a sly glance in his direction as he rounded the counter. And he’s hot now.
“For the record…” Billy interrupted her fantasies.
Kass flushed as deeply as her hair, worried he could somehow sense her thoughts.
“Ruthie and I never got to second base.”
“Wha? Oh… um… my question… about nude paintings…” she narrowed her eyes. “You and Ruthie never?”
“She was a hell of a driver, a daredevil, and a fantastic kisser…but…she liked to take things slow in the romance department. I’ve only known one other gal to do that with me.”
“Why because you’re so irresistible?” Kass joked wryly.
“Kass I’m talking about you.”
She stopped mid chuckle. “And that bothered you, didn’t it?”
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it made me want you more.”
Why did he have to go and say something like that?
“What…um…what…” she tapped her fingers against her mug. “…happened with Ruth? I know you didn’t stay with her. She married her Pierce again.”
“She wrecked her vehicle about eight weeks after we started dating…” he shrugged and lifted his mug to his mouth. “…wrapped her car around a tree. Ended up in the hospital with a concussion, broken arm, bruised sternum, cracked vertebrae, and a collapsed lung. Hell…” he lowered the cup, and set it on the table. “Her next of kin was still listed as her ex husband. I did what anyone would do. I called the lucky bastard.”
Kass gasped. “How can you call the guy lucky? His wife… was… hurt…”
“Oh yeah, she was, but um…” Billy ran a hand through his hair. “…well, she recovered. They got back together. They remarried in the hospital chapel. I was the impromptu best man.”
“It’s funny picturing you as the best…anything…”
“Ouch! Okay…” he laid his hands flat, pressing his palms into the table. “I deserve that. I guess… I’m not the best boyfriend material, am I?”
“You think?” Kass arched a brow.
“A guy like Pierce is better in that department with the fame and fortune and five o’clock shadow,” he joked.
“Seriously, Billy? You think that’s what I care about?”
“I don’t know, Kass… you seemed pretty giddy earlier when you figured it out. Didn’t take you for much of a pro snow sports kind-of gal.”
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me. I used to follow his career with…” she trailed off, almost afraid to say her name. “Ayesha…” she stared dead straight into Billy’s eyes, challenging him.
“Yeah… Ayesha… um…Kass… I didn’t know… or I wouldn’t have….”
“Wouldn’t have what? Screwed my BFF?”
“Well when you put it that way…”
Kass punched Billy in the arm. “I should smack you again.”
“Then why don’t you?”
Kass sighed. Why did he just ask her to smack him? It was almost like a dare or a challenge for him. Did he not understand how she felt?
“How did it happen?”
“I mean… I want to know how you two got together.”
“Really? Kass? I was passing through… I had a need. It meant nothing.”
“And that’s supposed to make me feel better?” she rolled her eyes. “It meant nothing? She’s my best friend!”
“I’m sorry… I…” he dropped his head in near embarrassment. “There are things that you don’t know about me. Things I wanted to tell you but didn’t know how.”
“Really? That’s the best you can do?” Kass grunted.
“Listen, I know… I was a jackass…and a terrible…” he began.
“You…used…me…Billy…” she could barely say the words.
“Gawd…I know…” he ran a hand through his hair lazily. “I…didn’t deserve you. I mean… I felt things with you… I’ve never felt…well…maybe that’s a lie…”
“So I’m getting honesty from you for once?” she snipped bitterly.
“Kass…” he said her name almost kindly, sweetly, the way he should have months ago. “I’ve done a lot of things and been with a lot of women in my life. I didn’t mean to lie to you. I wanted to have fun with you, but then you wanted more.”
“So wanting a relationship is a bad thing?” she cried.
“No…no…I’m just… not the kind of guy who can give you the kind of things you want… seriousness..but I…had fun…and then it wasn’t fun anymore…”
“Oh thanks,” Kass smacked the table, and stood up, ready to walk away.
She felt like a cheap whore as the tears pricked at her eye corners. Billy’s hand rested on her arm, and she sniffled into her sleeve, trying to avoid eye contact.
“Kass, you were never cheap to me…” he whispered.
How did he know? She stared into his Simirish green eyes, her jaw falling slack.
“I…it became more than fun… it became real…” he explained, clearing his throat, and rubbing his jawline awkwardly. “More real than I’ve been with others…and I didn’t know if I could…”
“If you could handle a real live woman with real feelings and real desires… and a real heart,” Kass laughed sarcastically, collapsing tiredly into the chair once more.
“Yes,” he dropped his head and his hands between his legs. “Kass… I am not proud of what I did. Hell… I’d never say that to anyone other than you.”
“That’s supposed to make me feel better?” she hiked her chin.
“It means I’m being honest, which is hard for me to do. And I’m admitting I was wrong, which I never do.”
“You were wrong about what? About dating me and using me to further your art career? About woohooing with Ayesha? About getting caught? Oh… and ha!” she threw her hands up in the air. “I forgot about Glory Ann.”
“Oh gawd! That woman!” Billy leapt to his feet. “I didn’t.” He began pacing. “I never want to again. But I didn’t on that night. I swear. You gotta believe me. I didn’t with Glory Ann.”
“She seemed to think differently,” Kass stood up, slugging her backpack over her shoulder.
“She was stirring up trouble, Kass,” Billy shook his head. “She was jealous of you.”
“Jealous of me? With that body?” she rolled her eyes.
Before Kass could stop what was happening, Billy leaned and slid his arms around her waist, drawing her into his chest with fearless force. Every nerve tingled with the sudden sensation of Billy Caspian on her lips again. She threw up her hands in temporary protest. This was not how she envisioned getting together with him again. And oh yes, she had pictured it.
She didn’t expect to be standing in a gym cafeteria in her damp swim suit and grungy workout clothes with little to no makeup, smelling like sea water, and tasting like coffee breath. She expected to be mad at him for at least half a century, and then maybe, just maybe, letting him take her to dinner, and she would be wearing a stunning evening gown, dripping with jewels, with her hair and makeup professionally done. Okay, maybe that’s a little over the top. Yeah, that and probably the image of me making a grand entrance at the top of some elegant red carpeted stairs. Too much? Kass winced, leaning into the kiss, her body giving in to her cravings. This is wrong... but oh… it felt so good. I should slide down that banister and into a punch bowl. She smirked at the thought.
“What?” Billy pulled back.
The sudden disconnect jarred Kass back to reality. She lifted her hand, fully intending to hit him hard across the face, and then dropped it back at her side, dejectedly.
“Well I can.”
It took all her effort to keep from bursting into laughter as the little old lady who had been playing cards came over and smacked Billy hard over the head with her rolled up newspaper. He grabbed the table, startled.
“My husband and I are trying to have a nice game of gin rummy over there. See…” she shrieked. “That’s Ronnie. Wave to Ronnie.”
“Uh…” Billy’s jaw dropped open as the elderly lady pinched his ear.
Kass smirked as the dark-skinned elderly gentleman from the pool area gave his wife a look that was a mix of bewilderment and impatience. Billy waved as he was told.
“We play gin rummy every week on this day at this time, and we sit and watch the birds peck at the seed in the snow. See…” she screeched, and leaned her head toward the window, waving wildly at a small group of red-feathered birds. “And you, young man, are disrupting our view of the cardinals!” she grimaced. “And no one wants to see your funny business. Why in my day a fellow asked a lady out properly before such public displays of affection.”
Kass bit her lower lip to keep from smiling.
“Now, young lady…” the woman wagged her finger at Kass. “You should have more self respect,” she straightened her sweater. “I would tell him he owes you a dinner,” she twisted her low-heeled pump as she walked back to her table. “Tell him he owes you several. Preferably ones he cooks himself.”
“Yes ma’am,” Kass grinned.
Billy stood and stared at Kass, dumbfounded.
“Well, you heard the woman,” she giggled, and offered him her arm. “I think you need to cook me dinner.”
“Oh you’re enjoying this.”
They walked from the lounge to the hallway and out of the line of vision of the two elderly strangers. Kass sighed, shoving her hands in her center pocket. Well, that was interesting.
“Are you serious?” he inquired. “About dinner?”
“Yes…no…” her face fell. “I don’t know. Argh! Billy… you can’t kiss me like that and expect things to go back to the way they were. No…” she lifted her hand to keep him from interrupting. “I am serious about this. I don’t… I can’t go through that again. I can’t wake up wondering where the hell you are. You can’t just leave me a note and some money and take off for Gawd knows where and I don’t want to have a confrontation with another one of your beautiful ex-girlfriends…”
“Or hook-ups!” she practically shrieked. “It’s so not fair.”
“Kass,” he cut her off with another surprise kiss, his bristly hairs grazing her jaw. He pulled back and gripped the sides of her face with earnest determination. “You are ten times more beautiful than her. No fifty. No a hundred.”
“Than who, Billy?” she said, feeling a twinge of sadness. “Than Glory Ann? Than Ayesha? Than Ruthie or one of the hundreds of other women you’ve slept with?”
“I have not slept with hundreds of other women…” he sighed. “Kass…you are like my sunflower standing tall… waving above the heads of wheat in… twilight.”
Kass frowned. “Who talks like that?”
“Kass, your hair…” he reached and tucked a strand behind her ear. “…is like a shining golden beacon of hope…”
“Let me finish, Red, will you?” he caught her wrist.
“Okay…” she wrung her hands in nervous anticipation.
“…no… you are like a golden beacon of hope to a sea of weary sailors longing for home…and I should dare to hope…that you would pluck me from the sea…” he thumbed her cheek bone.
Kass caught her breath. It couldn’t be. Those words… she had heard them… no… read them before… somewhere.
“Red, I… I… I…” he stuttered, lowering his head and pressing into her forehead. “…don’t deserve you. And I am sorry…. for the pain I caused you. I want you to forgive me. No I’m begging you to forgive me…” he winced and sucked in air as he met her gaze. “I didn’t think I could ever dare hope to see you again. To kiss you again. You are so beautiful, Kass…a radiant beauty... and here I am a…clumsy… tongue-tied…guy beside you…and I might as well be a deaf-mute.”
Her eyes moistened. The poem. The poem from the Palms.
“You speak my language…” she said, hoarsely.
“The language of your soul song?”
“It… was… you… the artist from Graffiti Park? You were watching me?”
“I saw you the first day in the Palms, and I kept hoping I’d have an excuse to talk to you.”
“I had no idea.”
“No, I didn’t tell you. I didn’t want you to think I was a stalker.”
“I didn’t even expect you to find my writing.”
“I didn’t know you were a poet.”
“…and then that night at the wishing well… it was…like…”
“…fate?” she finished his sentence. “Billy… I don’t know…”
“And here is Lady Fate again helping us out. We found our way to each other again,” he said, excitedly, almost like a little kid, as he squeezed her hands.
“You quote lines of poetry to me and that’s supposed to make everything better?” Kass threw her hands in the air, exasperated. “You know what, Billy? You are a smooth talker, but I’d like to see you put some actual action behind those words. So I know you’re serious.”
Billy cleared his throat and straightened his hoodie strings. “Please Kass… give me another chance. I promise I will be honest with you… this time…and…I will… ask you properly…and um…” he glanced about nervously, and then bent on his knee in the middle of the hallway. “Kass Fullbright, will you forgive me… and go out with me?”
“I…uh…” she covered her lips as gibberish started to pour out of her mouth.
“Is that a yes?”
She was shocked. There was something in his tone or facial expression or both. She could tell. He seemed genuinely penitent. She didn’t know how she could tell, but somehow she could. She sensed it… along with the strange feeling that she should think carefully about his question… his offer, and yet… he looked so damn remorseful from his knee-bent position on the floor. If I could be happy… if only I could be happy… Billy could make me happy… if we do things right.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” she spit the words out before she could change her mind. “Yes, I’ll go out with you.”
Billy stood back up, and reached for her face. “Okay, now full confession… I have to tell you something.”
“Uh oh,” she raked her fingers through her ponytail. “It’s never a good sign if you’re confessing immediately after asking the girl out.”
“No, I mean… I want to start this off right this time, so I want to be honest with you, and tell you the truth about me…” he put his arm around her.
“Just tell me already. It can’t be any worse than anything else I already know,” Kass leaned her head into his shoulder.
“I’m a werewolf.”
Author Note: I think this is some kind of record… 5,363 words for the chapter. To be honest, this wasn’t exactly how I was planning things, but in game, Kass and Billy are like dynamite together. Depending upon your point of view, hot and fiery or explosive and a bad idea.
I’m somewhere in the middle on this, however, it doesn’t exactly contradict or screw up my future plans for these characters. I thought about seeing if I could work it into the story, and only planned to include it if the prose happened naturally. I just started writing and it flowed freely, taking on a life of its own. Plus I finally revealed the author of the poetry from Interludes & Solitude Episode 3, Haven. Yes, it was my plan for that writer to be Billy all along.
I am actually pretty pleased with how this chapter ended up. Don’t worry, the Colt-Rackets will show up soon. I just took a bit of a side trip and ended up enjoying myself a little too much, but hopefully, even if you’re not a fan of these two together, you still enjoyed the chapter.
How do you properly start a blog post? “Dear diary” sounds a little too too junior high. “Dear journal,” sounds way too formal and stiff. I like to go with the flow and write stream of consciousness so I don’t exactly want a formalized entry. No one is grading me, after all. I suppose I’ll just start.
After all, this is just a blank page on a computer screen. A few hours ago, I was writing notes for this entry while I was traveling. My pen was scribbling across the page so furiously that I accidentally knocked over my ginger ale in one of those cute plastic cups you get on the airplane. My seatmate, the woman sitting in the dreaded middle seat, glanced at me worriedly and offered me one of those tiny paper napkins with the plane logo on it and the destinations drawn on the back. As I mopped up the remnants of my watery soft drink and frantically stuck the melting ice cubes back in the plastic, I found myself looking for my final destination on the napkin.
This morning I woke up in for the final time in my university dorm room. Now I was back in my own room in the house I grew up in a dusty, dry-as-bones old town called Oasis Springs on the Simvada/Califorsimian border. I might as well be flying to a new world because this is about as far West in the Sim Nation you can get from my uni town. I resisted the urge to wave at the cacti as the plane descended through the clouds to the Oasis Springs Sims Airport. I say “Hello new life” because I will now enjoy the freedom of not needing to study at all hours of the day and night, I don’t have to eat dining hall food anymore, and I don’t have a roommate either. This life could be perfect, except… one small hitch….
I’m living with my parents. I know. I know. I know what you’re going to say, but hey! It’s fairly common for millennials to move back in with their parents. SBS News just reported that around 40% of young people are still living at home. The economy’s a bit rough right now, but what can I say? I’m optimistic this will work out for everyone involved.
However, my first BIG goal is to move out and find a place of my own. I expect to need to work for awhile and save some money before I can get my dream house. Dad and Mom are expecting me to pull my weight around the house in the meantime, whatever that means, though I’m pretty sure that means rent and chores. Maybe this deal wasn’t so great. Who wants to do chores?
If you couldn’t already guess, I’m a writer and aspiring author. I majored in communications, and minored in… well, if anyone cares about a minor these days, I’ll tell you. Let’s see. What else do you want to know about me? I read voraciously. Yes, I just used a big word. Send me your SimLit recommendations and I’ll add them to my radreads list.
When I left school, some people gave me gifts, most of them wrapped in hideous paper probably leftover from Christmas and baby showers, and envelopes with checks addressed to me. One of those gifts was a book called 101 Things You Should Do Post-College. Some of those suggestions are a little ridiculous like backpack around the world… Who has the money? and adopt a pet… Who has the time? Watching a movie that scares you seems pretty silly too. I don’t need to see zombies on screen eating brains for soup. I already feel like the living dead every morning before my cup of coffee.
Either way, I’m sitting here at my desk, typing out a list of 101 things I want to do now that I’ve graduated. Some of them are personal goals like binge watching the Simflix shows in my queue and probably figuring out some kind of work-out routine that doesn’t involve passing out. Some of them are profession goals like get a part-time job and finish writing a novel. Some are life skills like learn how to cook a meal and create a blog. I came up with a name for this blog: Life With a Splash of Whimsy. I don’t know if anyone will read this. I read somewhere that the best thing to do when writing a blog is to be honest…and to write for yourself. So that’s what I’m doing. That…and you’re supposed to have something interesting to say. I’ll let you be the judge.
Of course I have added things that are on everyone’s list like make new friends and fall in love. I’ve never been in love. I don’t think. I’ve had crushes, but nothing like the real grownup-head-over-heels-can’t-think-straight-can’t-live-without-’em kind-of love. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I’m the romantic type. That’s for my kid sister, Nora. She’s the one who’s in love with love. Me? I went on a couple dates in high school and college.
The first guy I ever had a crush on, the older kind of crush, not the I-think-he’s-cute-in-third-grade-with-his-nerdy-glasses-and-smile-that-makes-you-go-squish kind-of crush. This was the real deal, or so I thought. His name was Mike and he was a couple years older. He delivered pizza in our neighborhood for this restaurant called Pizza Planet, and oh boy! Could he have my heart? He was a hot slice with extra cheese… and by cheese, I literally mean cheese. My dad always ordered extra cheese on our pizzas. It was a Friday night ritual to order pizza when my dad would come home from work, and Mike never failed to be our delivery guy, and I’d always rush to the door to pay the guy because hey! How else would he know I was alive? Junior boys generally don’t want to be seen with freshman girls.
When I said hot, he probably wasn’t really all that hot. He was kinda sloppy with his messy hair flying every which way out from under his delivery cap, and his plaid shirt was never tucked in and his jeans always seemed to have stains of some kind. I never realized those stains were actually blood stains, and before the brain jumps to worst case scenario, I’ll say this – no, he was not secretly an ax murderer. He just got into fights a lot with boys from school. Our town of Oasis Springs doesn’t have much in the line of entertainment and bored teen boys pick fights with one another. It’s just what they do. However, I, in my innocence and naivete, always assumed the stains were tomato sauce. The boy did work in a pizza shop after all.
Mike was super friendly and had these flirty eyes. He would call me “brown eyes,” and I thought it was amazing that he would even notice me, especially when I had an older sister, a pretty brunette outgoing funny older sister who knew how to make boys laugh and like her. I’m talking about my other sister, Emily, but everyone calls her Lee. Sometimes Lee would beat me to the door to pay Mike just to rub it in my face and she would lean against the door frame with that “come hither” look that made all the boys in our school crazy. But we were the “look-can’t-have” sisters, or at least that’s what people called us at school because our parents wouldn’t let us date… at least not officially. He always said it was so distracting to our studies and we would have plenty of time for boys when we grew up.
Wow, I got distracted. Okay, so Mike… yeah, obviously we didn’t work out. I started doing volunteer work at the hospital when I was thirteen and Mike worked there too. What I didn’t know at the time was Mike was there doing community service not because he wanted to like me, but because he had to. He got in trouble with the law a few times, and was with a group of high school dropouts and stole some candy bars and sodas and stuff from a convenience store. The only one we have in town. Apparently this news hadn’t reached my ears so I was totally oblivious to his criminal record, and the fact that the judge granted him community service and probation instead of jail time.
So Mike showed up at the hospital in his scrubs with that disarming smile on his scruffy looking face, and I just grinned like an idiot. After some flirting at the office check-in desk where we worked and me dropping the phone one too many times when he would smile at me, he got the hint and asked me out. Of course, I was disappointed because I would have to tell him no. I wasn’t even fourteen yet and my dad had said no dating.
But Mike, the charmer that he was, figured out a way for us to “see” each other without it technically being dating. We met in the hospital cafeteria on our break and he bought me a half a turkey and gravy sandwich with a limp piece of lettuce and a side of lumpy mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce from a jar. It was right before Thanksgiving break and it might as well have been a five-star, four-course meal because I was in heaven. He even dabbed at some gravy droplets on my cheek, and used some of the cheesiest pick-up lines ever, but I didn’t care. A boy was paying attention to me.
Our romance was short-lived. He asked me to meet him in the hospital chapel one day. The room was pretty dark because they liked to keep the lights dim for the patients. Apparently, Mike thought this was the perfect place for a make-out session, and maybe he hoped for other things which I shall not mention. We didn’t even get to the kiss. I was too scared. He called me a “little girl.” Ouch! Did that ever hurt my feelings? I ran out of the chapel crying and left my shift, calling my dad to come pick me up.
Mike transferred to another school so he stopped coming to the hospital and then last I heard he dropped out. I saw him once after that when I was buying school supplies. I had grown up some since I was a junior in high school and I had started filling out. I was pretty proud of the fact that I looked more womanly so I puffed my chest out like an idiot grateful I had borrowed my sister Lee’s sleeveless blouse the color of summer raspberries and planned to march over to Mike to give him a piece of my mind.
Unfortunately, he turned around and pushed his cart down another aisle and I lost my nerve. Who was I to try and fix a fate that was not supposed to be? What’s funny is that blouse looks better on me than it ever did on Lee. In fact, she ended up giving it to me, and I’m planning to wear it today to services later.
I continued volunteering all through high school and the Bell Memorial Hospital was renamed the Bloom Institute of Wellness. They even took away the traditional gift shop and replaced it with a healing shop with strange potions and colored prayer rocks and other “new age” trinkets as my dad liked to call it. My family wasn’t much into “new age,” and my Granny told me to avoid those kinds of things, not even with a ten foot pole. I missed the teddy bears and the sweet smelling flowers and the pretty glitter cards, but it didn’t really matter. I wasn’t going to become a patient just to get those things, and I had decided I wasn’t really into romance. Or so I thought…
The next guy I was into was named Zion and he was a tall runner for the high school track team, and he had the most beautiful dark brown skin. I met him during my sophomore year. I had a friend, Maria, who also ran track. We had chemistry lab together. I remember scheming about the ways I could go out with Zion. He went to my church, and I think he was my Secret Santa one year. He left me oatmeal raisin cookies in my mailbox. Of course, any guy who could bake would make my book, and when Dad asked where they were from, I told him it was a silly youth group thing. Maria invited me to the track meet which was the perfect cover for my presence. Zion ran by, smiling and waving. He came over and talked to me for a few minutes, stretching along the low chain-link fence, and I couldn’t help but admire his muscles.
When the boys and girls track team won the meet, Zion invited me to join the team for pizza. I called dad and of course, I could go since I was with Maria. We giggled in the van the whole way to the pizza shop. Thankfully, Nick was no longer there or that would’ve been awkward. Zion came over and sat backwards on a chair at our table. I thought he looked so cool. He talked about video games that I didn’t play and movies I didn’t want to see, but I didn’t really care. He was talking to me. He had an extra pre-packaged Little Maggie cake, a zebra-striped one filled with creme, and he gave it to me. I remember sitting on the edge of my rooftop that night outside my window, the best place to get privacy, and chatted with Maria about how swoon-worthy the man was, and how I would never eat this cake because it was a gift from him and I wanted to save it forever. Of course, it grew mold and I had to throw it out because that was disgusting, but I held onto it for a long time. That should probably say something about the preservatives they put into those things.
I suppose I should have known things wouldn’t work out. My parents wouldn’t let me date after all, and that got tiring for Zion. He didn’t particularly like that we could only hang out at his track meets or school-approved events. Once on a field trip to Sim City, he sat by me on the bus and tried to hold my hand. He proceeded to pull every single one of my silicone wristbands that were super popular way back in the day, and ask me about each one. I had too many. I knew. He commented on how tiny my wrists and hands were, and how if I ever came over to his house, his mamma would fatten me up. I didn’t know if I should take that as a compliment, an invitation, or an insult. After all, I was and still am a super skinny girl.
I saw his mother once and she was puffed up like a balloon, but she made these delicious Simanese dumplings for our youth group. Maybe I just didn’t realize it then, but Zion and Mike had one thing in common. They both wanted me to have more curves. It was just another sign that I wasn’t a woman yet, and that was super discouraging. I stopped liking Zion during that trip. He made fun of me because I had hair all over my legs. I had never shaved before. I didn’t even know what shaving was. My mom and dad didn’t tell me, and my older sister was too busy to discuss her grooming habits with me. I was so embarrassed. Apparently, hairy legs was a turnoff for him.
My last crush was Lawrence. I met him during my second year of college. He was a gorgeous Simanese young man. He played concert piano, and boy! Was he fabulous? He could sit down at a piano and play any song. You name it. Any song. Didn’t matter who the composer was or how complicated the piece was or what genre. He could play it. I recall he had a pretty attractive older brother too, but Lawrence was the guy I really wanted.
He was also a talented artist and he drew the comics for the college newspaper. I recall reading it every day and pasting some of those comics on my bulletin board. Frankly, there was little he couldn’t do. At least in my eyes.
One night on campus, it was raining cats and dogs. I was hungry, and Lawrence was in the lounge. He invited me to join him for a late night snack. We ran to the corner store in the rain, and of course, I had this idea that walking in the rain with your crush was romantic, but it wasn’t. I was just soaked by the time we made it to the store. He bought me a corndog and a blue raspberry slushie, but it might as well have been the moon. I may have fibbed a little and said I left my wallet back at the dorm. I did, but I did it on purpose, so perhaps this romance idea I had cooked up in my brain wasn’t exactly totally honest. I guess I didn’t care.
When we returned to the dorm, we ate our food and dried out near the furnace and he offered to teach me how to play chess. Of course, I acted super enthusiastic. He could teach me algebra and I wouldn’t care. I wanted to learn something from him. It would’ve been great too, except K, one of my suitemates, interrupted and wanted to play with us. I was jealous too because she shared the piano bench with Lawrence while I sat in the chair across from them, and she looked all cute too in her extra long tee shirt. I bet she wasn’t even wearing shorts underneath and she kept touching Lawrence’s leg and laughing. I fumed, but tried to keep it in because I didn’t want to explode in anger in front of my crush. I suppose some things just aren’t meant to be.
So that’s my experience with love. I figure new state, fresh start, right? I hope to meet some guy who is worthy of my affection. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just write and pay bills and find a job and do normal adult things. Which reminds me… I’m going to be late.
Opps… it looks like I overslept and the parents already left in their car. *Sigh* Adulting is hard.
Until next time…
Author Note: Hey everyone, I originally wrote this post for a TS3 story, and then decided it worked for my Simself in TS4. With a whole lot of editing of words, order, details, and pictures, I finally had a piece I was happy with, and so I present you chapter one of Livin’ A Simmin’ Life, Part One: Family Ties. I hope you enjoyed. 🙂
It all began with a sneeze. A rather loud and obnoxious sneeze. The kind that wakes the bats in the belfry above the church. The kind that makes even ghosts start at the sudden onslaught of noise. The kind that leaves ears ringing once a person has finished expelling all that air.
Why he sneezed, he did not know, but upon entering Eloise C. Vanderburg’s Home for Books, Billy Caspian let out a wallop. Perhaps it was the dust from all the books donated by the royal family. Perhaps he was catching a cold due to the frigid temperatures. Perhaps it was something else altogether.
He wasn’t superstitious by nature, but he heard at one time or another that a sneeze could be brought on if someone was thinking of you. Perhaps that someone was a beautiful, red-haired, freckle-faced ex-girlfriend who just so happened to be perched on the edge of the lime green couch in the entryway of the public library.
It was a pleasant surprise. While he hadn’t left the lady in question under the best circumstances, he had always found her to be stimulating company in more than one way. She could talk the ear off an elephant, her stories complete with wide brown eyes and wild hand gestures, compliments of her Simtalian heritage. She could also stir emotions in the depths of his soul and send tingling pleasure to all his nerve receptors. She was breathtaking and brilliant with a dash of Bernish temper and a smidge of Simtalian generosity.
Today she was more fire than anything else. He didn’t blame her. He hadn’t treated her well and that was an understatement. She came at him with a right-handed slap followed by a surprise left hook. Billy rubbed his jaw.
“Nice to see you too, Red.”
He tried not to smile. She hit him with stunning force. It hurt to stretch his mouth muscles. She nursed her gloved hand and glared.
“Oh don’t even…” she sputtered. “Really? After all this time, you’re going to call me Red.”
“It’s fitting,” he smirked, and then winced. “Is it not?”
‘Red’ was his affectionate nickname for her back when they were dating in Lucky Palms. She had liked the name as he tenderly nuzzled her ears and kissed her cheek. Now, she looked about ready to pulverize him. He took a step back in defense, feeling like he would rather face the full wrath of the Racket crime family at the moment than the ire of Kassiopeia Fullbright.
“Really? And I suppose I should call you ‘jerk-faced buffoon?’ Or is ‘half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder‘ more suitable?” she looked almost pleased for using a Star Wars insult.
“So I wasn’t the best boyfriend,” he added. “Maybe I should call you by your name… Kass.”
“Wasn’t the best?” Kassiopeia Fullbright threw her hands high in the air in exasperation. “Billy, you were the worst… the worst of the worst… the absolute worst… the way you treated me… GAH! … was inexcusable… and you… you… you just can’t come waltzing back into my life and… wha? What are you doing here?” she narrowed her eyes.
“Well,” Billy said, straightening his uneven scarf. “I live here.”
“In the library?” her voice leaped an octave.
“No,” he laughed, shaking his head. “In Hidden Springs… I… this is the place… where I got the commission… the job I wrote you about…”
“In a cryptic letter that was left the night after I got so freaking drunk that I took my top off,” Kass shrieked, immediately flushing nearly the same shade as her hair, and reining her arms in so as not to draw any more attention to herself.
“Yeah… about that…” Billy began and trailed off, trying to smother a smile.
“Gah!” Kass reached out and hit the man in the chest. “You enjoyed it! You actually enjoyed it!”
“Well… what’s not to like?” he eyed her up and down, knowing his comment would likely get him punched. He lifted his hands. “In my defense… you initiated that.”
“But you could’ve stopped me,” she sighed, a sadness creeping into her tone. “And you didn’t have to leave me.”
Kass looked at him, expectantly, as if waiting for an apology or an explanation. Her brown eyes filled with a familiar look of regret with a twinge of despair. Her arms hung at her sides, and her hands were relatively still. Billy realized the full weight of his choices in that moment. He hurt her. He had really hurt her. She was a “good time” for him, but to her, he was so much more. He knew that now. He knew that then, but he hadn’t wanted to admit it to himself. He hadn’t wanted to admit how much he liked her, beyond the scope of her good looks and their great chemistry. He hadn’t wanted to admit how much he was starting to care. Too much. And if he cared, inevitably, he would have to open up about who or what he was, and he wasn’t sure he was ready for that. That’s why he left.
“You. Used. Me.”
Each word was punctuated, but he heard no malice in her tone, only sadness. She was right. He did use her. He used her for his own gain and pleasure, when it was convenient for him. If his relationship with his other ex-girlfriend had been any proof, he didn’t do commitment. One night stands, flings, rebounds, and love affairs… that was what he was good for. Long-term, serious relationship, and dare he even hope, love… true love and devotion, just wasn’t his style. Guys like him didn’t get the girl at the end of the day and he knew it. He should never have started something with Kass. If his other ex-girlfriend was regret number one, his relationship with Kass was regret number two.
“And then you slept with her…” Kass said, tears welling in her eyes.
“Who? Glory Ann?” he puzzled. “Naw… I stayed over at her house because I wasn’t feeling well after I arrived to help her out.”
A variation of the truth… he hadn’t slept with Glory Ann, but he wasn’t about to explain why he stayed in her bedroom.
“You expect me to believe that?” Kass narrowed her eyes, the tears slipping through her lashes as she gritted her teeth and balled her hands. “And not Glory Ann… the other woman you were with… her!”
Somehow he knew exactly who she meant – her best friend, Ayesha. Billy ran a hand through his hair. The haunted house felt so long ago, and the girl took off for the Middle East so he never saw her again. How could he have known Ayesha was Kass’ best friend? The woman had enough problems of her own for him to stay mixed up with the likes of her, and it had been his time. Ayesha fulfilled an urge. Nothing more. How could he explain that to Kass though without telling her the truth about himself?
“Will you…” he reached to lay a hand on her arm, and she jerked away. “…have coffee with me?” he asked earnestly. “Tomorrow?”
Maybe between now and then he could come up with a good enough version of the truth, one that explained enough and gave Kass some closure, but one that didn’t involve him revealing his whole life story.
“No!” she exclaimed. “Whatever you have to say you can say now!”
“Red…” he stopped himself, and pressed his hands together as he couldn’t believe what he was about to do. “Kassiopeia?” he softened his tone. “Please? Have coffee with me tomorrow? If you’re still in town… are you…” he frowned as he realized he didn’t know what she was doing in Hidden Springs. “…staying?”
“I…” she hiked her chin in the air. “I’m here with my dad.”
“Well… don’t figure… you and I… don’t have anything to do with one another anymore.”
“We’re having this conversation.”
“This conversation is over.”
“Kass…” he lowered his head. “Please… I know I don’t deserve…”
“Damn right… you don’t deserve…”
“…even to be in your presence let alone have a conversation with you again beyond this one,” he was groveling and he knew it, but it was the only way he could make things right. “…but I’m asking you… to please let me explain myself… tomorrow… over coffee?”
She flexed her wrists and contemplated his request. He kept his head down, hoping she would oblige his request. As her father descended the staircase from the second floor of the library, Kass looked over her shoulder, hurriedly. Billy could feel his throat drying out and his heart began racing as he suddenly felt very nervous. He had never met Kass’ father before, and she wasn’t exactly forthcoming about their relationship if he remembered correctly.
“I have your number,” she said, her tone clipped as she brushed past him. “I’ll think about it.”
Kass walked to her father and said something in a hushed tone, as she escorted him from the library. Billy was struck by the image of father and daughter, and felt a warming sense in his chest. Kass was beautiful and kind… he could tell by the way her arm wrapped around the man’s shoulder as she helped him into the parked truck in front of the library, and he could tell that the man loved his daughter by the way he tiredly smiled up at the girl when she shut his passenger side door. Billy felt… almost… jealous. He should’ve taken the time to get to know Kass’ dad properly, and he should’ve treated her better. As he walked from the library to his own parked car, completely forgetting what he came to the library for in the first place, Billy had a feeling he would spend the whole night regretting the girl who got away. He only hoped she would call him in the morning.
Author Note: Thanks for reading. Billy Caspian and Kassiopeia Fullbright happened upon one another when she was passing through Hidden Springs, Simnadia in game, and I decided to write it into the story. Originally, this chapter was supposed to fall at the end of I&S and after the latter part of FRWL, but I ended Gage’s story right where it needed to be, and ended I&S prematurely. I debated about including this chapter at all in CFT: TAT, but I decided I couldn’t let a perfectly good chapter go to waste, plus it fits well after the last chapter with Gage – 1.65 Overwhelmed. I figured out a way to work in my unpublished chapters of I&S into TAT, though it required some finagling. I’m pretty happy with the result. Again, I tried to write this chapter in a manner that was easy to understand even without having read I&S, but if any of you are confused about details, feel free to ask questions. I added the line about “facing the wrath of the Racket crime family” as a tribute to CFT as this is after all, Generation 1 ½. Hope you enjoyed.
Background: Welcome to Livin’ A ‘Simmin’ Life (LASL). Oh yes, I know you’re already on the blog with that name. Haha! I thought I’d reinvent my ISBI (I’m Surrounded By Idi*ts) Challenge in TS4 with a twist. I’m using my Simself. For kicks, my Simself (Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Green) is moving back home with her parents, post-college. And her siblings live at home too. True to an ISBI challenge, I will only be controlling my Simself.
Goal: The goal of the first phase of this challenge is to move my Simself out of her parents house. I made up a whole set of rules for myself to make things interesting. You can read the rules and more HERE.
Story Description: Meet Elizabeth “Lizzie” Green – bookworm, geek, and lazy muser. A recent college grad, Lizzie is excited to start her new life after university. Like any self-respecting millennial,she is moving back home in order to save some Simoleons and get on her feet. The catch? Her sisters live at home too. Three young adult Sims under one roof with their parents. What could go wrong? She hopes to write the next great SimNation novel, enjoy new adventures, find “true” love, and move into a place she can call her own. To help make ends meet, Lizzie will be starting a blog called “Life with a Splash of Whimsy,” documenting her experiences living at home, plans for the future, and musings about life.
Casting Call: I’m doing a casting call as I’d love to populate my TS4 Sims worlds with unique and interesting Sims. I am looking for 8-9 families (or individuals or couples) for Oasis Springs, 7-8 for Newcrest, and 5-6 for Willow Creek.
I only have the base game for now so only base game content, and I would prefer no CC.
Read more about how to submit HERE or on the forums HERE.
November 11, 2017 – Author Note:Unfortunately, I lost this game. I’m sad, but I’m thinking of continuing the concept of a ISBI challenge with my Simself instead so ALOW will have a whole new feel, but I’m abandoning Jenara’s tale. Sorry for the bad news!
The soft strains of Piano Quartet in a 2nd Movementby Franz Simbert serenaded Gage Briody from the Portable Muze player in his pocket. The pleasant music contrasted with his mood. He was unhappy with his creation, the artistic tableau on the easel capturing a poor image of the intended picture in his mind. He thought about scrapping the entire painting, but he hated to waste a good canvas. Even so, the picture before him did not do his imagination justice.
Gage could blame his lack of focus or talent on numerous things today. The fact that he wasn’t painting in his indoor studio and stood beneath a snowy sky didn’t help. He wished he had worn a beanie cap to keep his head warm as his returning hair was no where near what it needed to be to insulate. Gloves would only disrupt his hand movements as he painted brushstrokes on the canvas. He balled his fist, balancing his palette against his forearm and wrist, barely able to feel his fingers in his left hand. A quick tilt of his head to the side confirmed his concerns – the painting wasn’t going to be worth plum.
When Natalya had come home with him, Gage quickly discovered living with this woman would be different than Anita. The pregnant lady was sensitive about many things and had an opinion on everything. She didn’t like the smell of his paints in the house. She despised the sound of classical music. Now with only five weeks left, Natalya was even more picky and particular, and he was forced to change many of his habits. In the dead of winter, he was forced to paint on the porch overlooking the yard if he could paint at all.
By early Simbruary, Gage had discovered that his ex and current landlady, Anita Errare had not exactly kept up the maintenance on the house. He was quickly becoming overwhelmed with the time, labor, and cost of the break-downs. Since Anita was in Simspania caring for her late husband’s father, she trusted Gage to handle household problems.
The dishwasher leaked, the result of a melted spot in the plastic. He had never used the appliance before, preferring to wash everything by hand, but Natalya insisted they use the device. She would not ruin her manicured nails with the “harsh soap,” even if Gage had replaced the handwashing liquid with Dusk, the softest-on-hands cleaning product on the market.
They had mice. Or rather one friendly-ish mouse that came into the kitchen to score crumbs. Gage thought the critter was rather cute. Natalya had screamed “bloody murder” when she discovered the creature nibbling on her Simdorf salad. It took three hours before Gage could get her to calm down enough. His good friend, Constance offered to loan them her cats, figuring they would do the “trick” nicely, but Natalya insisted on an exterminator, which wasn’t cheap.
The stove began smoking one day while Gage was attempting to cook barbecued ribs for Natayla. She had been craving meat, meat, and more meat. For the last week, she wanted nothing but hamburgers from Hogan’s Deep Fried Diner and Simiterranean steak kabobs from Little Coriscan Bistro and Simtalian wedding soup with extra meatballs from Victoria’s Tea House. He even picked up loaded chili cheese dogs from the Llama Memorial Stadium. Apparently Natayla loved hockey, and the Riverview Ruffians weren’t half-bad, but tickets to the game just to get to the concessions weren’t cheap.
Gage had finally started stocking up on meaty dishes from the EverFresh Delights Supermarket. Their freezer was stuffed with Starving Stud Meals, Stuffer’s lasagnas, and triple meat pizzas. The fridge was filled with every kind of sandwich meat under the sun, ground beef for homemade pan burgers, and packages of wieners. Natalya had insisted on fresh condiments since “Gawd-only-knows” how long Anita’s were in there. Cooking at home was certainly cheaper, although he hadn’t ever made “barbecue” on the stove top, and apparently he had done it wrong. The gas range pilot wasn’t lighting properly. Gage could practically hear the “cha-ching!” as he paid for a stove repair.
Then the heat went out in the barn/carriage house. Gage was forced to move back to the main house as he had given Natalya the master bedroom. Most nights he slept on the couch, but lately she had been experiencing nightmares and asked him to share the bed with her. Gage obliged as the father of their child-to-be. He didn’t know what to call them. Natalya had been a drunken one-night-stand last Simuly after the death of his foster mother. He had been grieving and drinking, never a good combination, and made one stupid decision that would change his life forever. Of course, Nat wasn’t the only gal he had slept with, and he felt the need to reach out to all of his former lovers to ensure there weren’t more “surprise” children on their way. The only woman who was expecting was Cerise, the vampire from Simcago, but she was only five weeks pregnant and he hadn’t been with the woman since last fall. She was happy to receive a call from him as she wasn’t sure if she would be staying in the area. Cerise suggested coffee, and he seriously considered it, but decided for Natalya’s sake, he probably shouldn’t.
Wandering into the house, he was grateful for the sudden blast of heat. He shivered and rubbed his hands together, setting his paints aside on his desk and walked into the master bedroom to fetch Natalya. It was nearly four p.m. and she had a five p.m. appointment with the doctor. Gage had tried to keep up with her medical needs. He wanted everything to be perfect and to ensure the health of both mother and baby.
As expected, Natalya was napping atop her pink-and-purple striped covers. She had moved the bedside lamp to the floor to make room for her many items – milk for her heartburn, saline drops for her dry eyes, inhaler for her asthma, vitamin C tablets, essential oils for her baths, and a cup of peppermint tea for her stomach. Constance had brought the tea by earlier in the day. On the floor, Gage noticed, there was an open box of chocolates. Nat had probably been munching on them before falling asleep. He shook his head. She must have purchased them when he wasn’t looking as the doctor said she needed to watch the sweets. She wasn’t under the blankets either, and he was afraid she would catch cold. Slipping around to the opposite side of the bed, he thought about letting the bleached-blonde haired woman continue her afternoon snooze. She looked comfortable in her grey-and-white flowered tee and green tree sweat pants, curled at a soft angle. Despite her pregnancy, she hadn’t gained all that much weight, and she maintained a healthy bump. He still thought she was beautiful… as beautiful as an expectant mother can be… and as beautiful as an ex-not-really-an-ex-girlfriend was.
“Nat?” he called out softly.
She awoke with a start, jolting up from her resting position like a firecracker headed for the sky.
“What the hell, Gage?” she shrieked. “I thought you were gonna let me rest, damnit, Gage! Damn you!”
He sighed. Pregnancy brought out the moodiness in the mother of his child. It also brought out her hot-headedness, something he had never known before. In a strange way, it reminded him of Kass, the love of his life, his ex-well-sort-of-ex best friend. In all his relationships with women, and he had quite a few, he never really realized just how little he knew a person until he spent more time with them and lived with them. He had just begun discovering things about Anita when she left for the Sim Union, breaking things off with him. Sex was no guarantee a person was compatible for life. Ain’t that the truth! he thought sarcastically. He would be bound for life to Natalya for the simple fact that the woman was carrying his kid.
“I thought you’d want to change before your appointment,” Gage explained. “Maybe…” he straightened a lump in the bedspread. “…I could draw you a bath.”
“I don’t have time for a bath,” Natalya grunted, swiping her towel from the wall hook and flouncing into the bathroom.
Gage waited for Natalya in the lobby of the County Care General Hospital for the umpteenth time. As he waited he was approached by one Melvin Taft. Melvin was the father of Heather Taft, his witch of an almost-second girlfriend. And he wasn’t kidding. She actually was a witch. Although he had been upset with her at the time, Gage understood why she broke things off with him. She was the friend and roommate of his former girlfriend, Solèi Ona, of the Cherry Moon Collective. He didn’t blame Heather, even if their relationship primarily consisted of flirting and a one-night-stand. Or one-afternoon stand.
Even so, Melvin, her father, had taken it upon himself to make Gage’s life miserable. As miserable as an elderly man could make his life. Melvin gossiped, for certain, to his friends about the horrible Briody boy, but beyond that, and some occasional glares in his direction when they passed each other in town, it hadn’t been so bad. That was why today when Melvin booed and jeered Gage in the doctor’s office, he was surprised. The man made such a ruckus that security was called to escort him out. Gage dropped to the chair, leaning forward and placing a hand over his face in embarrassment for the negative attention. When he collected himself again, he walked to the desk to pay the bill for Natalya’s visit.
“Um… sir?” the receptionist said, refusing to make eye contact as she shifted papers around on her desk. “I’m sorry, sir, but this card has been declined.”
As if his day could become any more humiliating… Despite a decent-ish wage at the Octagon House where he worked as the manager of the art gallery and museum, Gage still didn’t have insurance. His boss, Billy Caspian, hadn’t been in town in months, and the two rarely spoke, save a single update email a week. Gage didn’t know how to broach the subject with the man. He needed insurance, if not for himself, for Nat and the baby. He couldn’t afford all the bills out of pocket, plus all the problems with the house, and all the added expenses of caring for a pregnant woman. He wasn’t sure he was going to be able to make ends meet. He hadn’t been to class in a week, as he needed the extra hours, but his last pay check had still been too low below the mark. Drastic changes would need to be made or he wouldn’t be able to sustain living expenses, and that thought scared the living daylights out of him. He wouldn’t be a deadbeat dad. He would quit school and get a second or third job if he needed to, but he wouldn’t be delinquent on bills.
“Here, try this one,” he sighed heavily, reaching into his pocket for the card holding the last of his savings account.
Something had to change… and soon.
After dropping Natalya at the house, Gage mustered enough energy to drive across town to his aunt’s home. His cousin, Rhoda had left him a punctuated message about one of his bills arriving at their residence and he needed to retrieve it. She hadn’t even bothered to bring it inside. So much for common courtesy, he thought tiredly as he opened the mailbox at the Bagley farm. This is Rhoda I’m thinking of… he reminded himself as his cousin had a reputation for rough and gruff.
It wasn’t a bill. In fact, it was a statement of notice from Northwestern University in Simcago. He was failing all of his courses. No surprise! He barely had time to study and he missed the first two-and-a-half weeks of the school semester as he tried to convince Natalya to “not” do things on her own in Belladonna Cove, and come live with him in Riverview where he would help take care of her and the baby. The drop-date had passed so he would not receive a refund. He would still need to pay for the classes.
Gage slammed the mailbox shut and kicked the stand. He couldn’t believe how overwhelming his life had become lately. Nothing was going right. Natalya was a handful. Her medical bills were expensive. His house maintenance was expensive. Anita had called again this morning and left a message about an increase in rent. He could barely afford living in the house as is. He was failing his classes. He was on the outs with his boss. And his love life was a mess. What love life? Romance was nonexistent.
As if on cue, his cell phone rang. Upon retrieving it from his pocket, Gage realized it was Billy. He gritted his teeth and braced for impact.
There was a formality to Billy’s words, and his tone lacked their usual joviality.
“I have been thinking about our arrangement.”
“At Octagon House?”
“Yes…” Billy sounded annoyed, probably because Gage stated the obvious, but only to avoid the inevitable proverbial shoe drop. “I will be returning to Riverview on Wednesday. I have already talked to an old friend of Hank Ferdinand’s about coming to manage the Octagon in my stead.”
Gage cringed. I’m being demoted.
“I think you might know the name… Harwood Clay? Big time sculptor back in the day,” Billy chuckled. “Well, he’s bored and talented and needs something to do.”
Sounds like what I was in the beginning, Gage sighed, finding it ironic that his replacement was nearly twice his age.
“You were a good employee, but our differences… they are too big…and taking off for Simlaska without telling anyone where you were going or finding a replacement was irresponsible. We lost a ton of business. You will still be an assistant.”
“Yeah… yeah… I get it…” Gage bit his tongue to keep from saying something he would regret.
“It’s for the best, Gage. Now you can focus on your art and school.”
I wish, Gage thought, miserably. An uncomfortable silence stretched between them as if his boss was trying to decide if he should say something else.
“And it’s over, man… between us… so you should call her.”
“Thanks, Billy,” Gage said sarcastically. “But no thanks. I’ll clear out my desk on Monday.”
As he ended the call, he threw his head back and yelled. All the tension from the day and the last few weeks erupting from within the depths of his soul and out into the snow-covered streets of Riverview. And worst of all, he knew he couldn’t call her. She would never forgive him.
I plan to rotate through characters, giving each Loyola “Lolly” Laurel Racket (CFT), Sinbad Rotter (CFT), Rhoda Bagley (MLWC; FRWL), Sam Bagley Jr. (MLWC; FRWL), and Gage Briody (FRWL and Kassiopeia Fullbright stories) their own chapters. I also plan on appearances of Kassiopeia Fullbright (KFSS; I&S), Billy Caspian (FRWL; I&S), Shark Racket (CFT), and Don Lothario (MLWC), and possibly other characters from my other stories.
This chapter is fitted in the first arc: Prelude to Danger. In case anyone is wondering, no one in this story actually bears the name “Colt” as of yet. This will be explained in future chapters. It is my plan to post chapters on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays, as my schedule allows. I’m excited to revisit some of these characters, and it felt fitting to start with Gage. He’s pretty central to many of my crossover plots so it seems only fitting he’s a central character in this story too.
I dropped some fun Easter egg nuggets from in-game and plays-on-words, so hopefully you enjoyed those and figured them out. FYI, I ret-conned Heather’s last name and her connection to Melvin Taft. I thought he needed an appropriate worthwhile reason for his “booing” of Gage. I also wanted to address why Gage hasn’t been in school. And for the fans, I dropped the name Harwood Clay. I have been planning to add an iteration of him to my stories, and I figured why not bring a little of Twinbrook to Riverview? 😉 Thanks for reading.
Four score and seven years ago… okay, maybe not quite that long…forever ago…I was granted a Liebster Award. While I accepted and thanked the writer who nominated me, I never wrote a post. Part of this is due to my intense work load, but it’s no excuse. Forgive the long overdue delay, everyone, but especially LivvieLove.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, LivvieLove, for nominating my blog, specifically my story, La Vita Bella. I truly enjoyed writing LVB, and I am grateful for its few enthusiasts, and for your kind nomination. Please, readers, take some time to check out LivvieLove’s blog – Song of the Nightingale.
My 11 questions were as follows:
1) What’s your favorite story telling aspect of the Sims (or just favorite aspect)? My favorite aspect of storytelling with the Sims is when the game and the story in my head work in sync and compliment one another in tandem. The longer I play a particular Sims game, the more personality my characters seem to develop, and it’s like they know what it is I’m asking them to do. I love it when their personalities shine through and I did little to nothing to get them there.
2) What was the inspiration that made you start the story currently occupying your headspace? Thick As Thieves… well, honestly, I’ve been binge-watching the show Leverage and White Collar recently. A story featuring a “caper crew” seemed like a great idea. Given the Rackets from Colt Family Traitacy are a crime family, I thought, it would be perfect to carry this idea into the next generation of the story with the children, Shark and Lolly. What really breathed life into this idea though was the concept of doing an epic crossover. Crossover is happening more and more in the SimLit world and since in my mind, all my stories are interconnected, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try.
3) What’s your favorite food? mmm… any kind of bread… probably Belgian waffles and some kind of fruit.
4) If you could have any aspect added to the Sims game that isn’t already there (via mods OR EA content) what would it be and why? I have too many thoughts on this subject to answer in a succinct manner. I really enjoy what I have right now, and if I ever get stuck with TS3, I just find a mod, CC, or best yet, use my imagination.
5) How long have you played the Sims for? What’s your favorite sims-related memory? April 2014. Favorite Sims memory. I have many, but most recently, the arrival of Emit Relevart. I loved writing his character.
6) What’s your favorite movie/book/song (one of each, or many if you can’t decide like me!)? Too difficult to decide all of the above. Let’s go with genres – movies? fantasy/sci-fi. books? crime and mystery. songs? jazz and alternative.
7) What Simlit story are you currently all about, and please leave a link so we can read it too? (I just had to send this question along, such a good question to help build my SimStory library!) I’ve been binge-reading Munterbacon’s Ironbound. Sometimes I forget I’m in the Sims Verse with this story.
8) What are you really excited for? Finishing graduate school in December.
9) Where would you go if you could visit anywhere in the UNIVERSE? Universe? Too vast to choose. I would love to visit anyplace with a beach that’s warm, preferably South Pacific. I’d love to kick up my feet and relax with a piña colada on the beach.
10) Is there anything you wish you could go back in time and tell your younger self about? Why? Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. Your gut is there for a reason. Take the time to really listen to it and your heart.
11) This isn’t really a question, but I’d like to ask for you to compliment yourself/your story here. So many people don’t remember to compliment themselves for all the hard work they do! It feels a little odd about complimenting myself, but I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to write La Vita Bella. It was a long time coming, and took me awhile to get to the point where I was happy with the content. Then it felt like it wrote itself. I feel like I have honed my skills as a writer, and this is an example of some of my better quality work.
It’s hard to figure out who was nominated for this award already given I “received” it long ago, so I’ll just mention those authors/stories I’ve been reading in the past few months when I find time.
What’s your favorite Sims expansion pack (any game) and why?
If you were a Sim, what would your traits be (either TS4 or TS3, unless you feel compelled to answer both)?
What do you feel you’ve learned from your Sims (the characters, not so much the game, but feel free to write about the game if you’d rather)?
What kind of SimLit do you like to read?
What helps you write SimLit? (i.e. for me, I like writing late at night when the house is quiet).
If you could equate your SimLit story to a genre of music, what would it be and why?
Borrowing this question from above, what inspired you to work on the SimLit story you’re currently writing?
How do you feel you’ve grown as a writer of SimLit?
Name a SimLit writer (or two or three… if you so choose) that inspires you and tell us why.
Since I only nominated nine writers, I only wrote 9 questions. Thanks everyone for reading and for writing such great stories. I look forward to hearing your responses. Thanks again, Livvielove for the nomination.