Goal #19: Find Hope on the Horizon, Part 1 (LASL)

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or so the old adage says. I wasn’t sure I felt fonder. A numbness crept around my heart after the first three nights of crying myself to sleep. I tried to remain quiet, knowing my new little nephew was sleeping next door. I didn’t want to anger my older sister. The longer I was around the baby, the more sadness I felt. If everything had happened as planned, I would’ve had my own child months before Lee did. At this point, I wondered if I ever would.

For the first month, Joseph called every day. If I didn’t answer, he would call Lee and Sammy’s home. I never wanted to talk to him. I was doing it to myself – the stabbing feeling through my chest. I just didn’t want to admit my part in this argument. I felt like I couldn’t be blamed for my lack of memory. I felt like I couldn’t be blamed for misunderstandings and for my disconnect from the world. I felt like I couldn’t be blamed for my lack of emotions. That’s not true. I’m not letting myself feel. I sighed heavily, swallowing back some unnamed turbulence of frustration, fear, angst, and anger. Returning to life was like learning how to ride a bike, and remembering the steps, but lacking the significance behind each step, and that fact was disrupting my entire recovery. Dr. Vatore said it was normal. This was grief.

At the beginning of the second month, Joseph texted everyday. His messages were filled with his own frustrations and fears, pleas for forgiveness, and hopes for the future. I couldn’t bring myself to reply. My heart cried to open, my will remained stronger. I didn’t want Joseph to call. I wanted him to come.

Lizzie overlooking the waterWintonborough was as good a place as any for healing. My sister, Lee and brother-in-law, Sammy had relocated stateside, about an hour from Sim City on the eastern coast of the Sim Nation. They bought a lovely two-story home on Simsapeake Bay. Every morning I would walk barefoot through the soft grass, stopping just before the dock to nowhere, and stare out to the place where water met sky. The cumulonimbus clouds glided lazily by while the gentle waves from the sailboats wake lapped the shoreline as reeds danced in the bracing breezes.

I wondered what it would be like to soar up into the clouds, though no Sim had ever personally been granted the gift of flight. I knew of supernaturals with super speed and super strength, and even my vampiric/witch doctor could flap wings in bat form, but to truly fly… I closed my eyes, pressed my hands to my lips, and sighed. That would be a truly miraculous and spectacular gift. 

Since Simtober arrived, the mornings were cooler, but still I treked out to the dock every morning, barefoot to drink in the sights. The deep blue waters acted as a mirror for the soul of the sky and each cloud rode a wave to the beach. Today Lee and Sammy were planning to go sailing, but I wasn’t ready yet to leave the comfort of the bank. Baby steps, I reminded myself. Someday. Was there hope on the horizon? I hoped so.

There was longing in my heart, but my head did not heed its call. I wanted to be free, to truly be free, but I was shackled to the impossible task of remembering my past so as to improve my present, and the heavy burden was building a dam against my future. I wasn’t sure how much longer Joseph would continue to call and text and write. My phone pinged and I grimaced. Lately he had been emailing.

Joseph emails Lizzie

Good morning, Elizabeth. It’s six a.m. here so it must be about nine a.m. there.

Joseph nearly hit the backspace. Of course, she’d know what time it is. He grimaced, wondering if she found his text messages annoying. He couldn’t help it. He missed her. The nights were long without his Lizzie. He found himself staying busy and staying with friends. It was better than staying alone. I sound so formal, he criticized. Elizabeth. Typically reserved for her parents when they were upset or mad at her, and here he was using her full name.

I wish you’d come home. If you still want space, I’ll respect your decision. I just wanted you to know…

like I want you to know every day. His heart sank like a rock to the bottom of a lake. Plunk. Plunk. Plunk. He removed his glasses and leaned his head against the foyer wall. Did she even read his messages? Did she even care? Should he even bother?

What are you up to today, beautiful? I’m in the Springs today.

…wishing you were here. 

Stayed the night at Cathy’s and Amy’s. Don’s still away on his honeymoon with Annie. The Tea-Cats needed some help moving wheelbarrows full of fertilizer and topsoil. I offered to help since I’m still… 

umemployed? He groaned softly. Ergh! I can’t say that. His job in Magnolia Promenade didn’t work out. After his temp work was complete, the company didn’t hire him. He was still doing odd jobs here and there. Munter found him a job bartending in one of his family establishments. That paid the most, but the work wasn’t steady as they only needed him a few nights a week. He entered a karaoke contest with Akira. They won two hundred Simos. It wasn’t the same without Lizzie. In fact, he wondered why he never went singing with her. She probably would’ve liked that. Karleen’s boss hired him for an afternoon to move boxes of books to and from the truck and store. Now Cathy and Amy offered to pay him to help with their garden. Truth was they could probably do it themselves, but they were being nice. It’s pity money, but I’m desperate. He slammed his fist against the wall. Plum! I wish I wasn’t. 

“Joseph, is that you?” Amy’s voice called down the hallway.

Feeling like a teenager, Joseph slipped out the door and around the back and attempted to climb through the guest bedroom window. He left it propped open the night before because of the heat. Even in Simtober, the weather was still hot. Amy had given him a key for the week, but this morning, he wasn’t sure he was ready to be around people. The newlyweds were still in that ooey-gooey love phase, reminding him of all the places he wasn’t. Amy knocked on the door.

“Joseph, are you awake? I made pancakes. Cathy made some oolong tea if you’re not hungry.”

Joseph took a moment to collect himself before exiting the bedroom. He nearly collided with a frantically scurrying Amy. She gripped a bottle of orange cleaner like a woman on a mission.


“Goodness, Cathy! Your keyboard is atrocious,” Amy exclaimed.

“Five more minutes,” Cathy promised, without looking up, as she furiously typed sentences.

“Uh uh,” Amy shook her head, bottle poised in hand. “You said that a half-hour ago. I’m cleaning.”

“No,” Cathy covered the keys with her arms defiantly. “You can’t. How will I remember Akira will say in his v-log to the fans?”

“Akira?” Joseph repeated.

“Yes!” Cathy said, clasping her hands together excitedly as she turned to face Joseph. “Akira agreed to star in my made-for-TV version of my Sierra and the S-Boys novel. I don’t even need to change his name. It’s perfect.”

“That’s cool. So you landed another television deal?” Joseph replied.

“Sim.tv,” Cathy nodded. “I’ve worked with them before. They did a short mini-series for Dr. Jasmine’s Casebook. They were happy with the results, and asked about the rights to other stories. Right now they’re doing casting for S-Boys. Ooo… you know what? You should make an appearance. I bet you’d get good Simos.”

“Cathy! Shoo!” Amy urged. “You can talk over on the couches.”

“Naw,” Cathy shook her head. “We should probably get working in the garden. I have Sweet Williams and chrysanthemums to plant. However…” she eyed Joseph up and down. “I think you’d do nicely for a guest appearance.”

“Star in a show?” Joseph said, stiltedly, his eyes widening.

“Nonsense,” Amy sprayed the desk and wiped the surface with a paper towel. “Joseph works in advertising. Oh!” she turned around and nearly sprayed Joseph in the face.

“Hey! Watch it!” he exclaimed, jumping back as he removed his glasses which caught the bulk of the mist.

Amy and Cathy excitedly chatting about a job for Joseph
“Cathy, you should hook Joseph up,” Amy suggested, grabbing Joseph’s arm and sitting down suddenly at the dining table.

“Oh yes!” Cathy’s eyes widened as she connected with her wife’s train of thought. “He would most definitely like to meet Joseph.”

“Um…” Joseph chuckled, awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck.

“He’d be perfect for you,” Amy grinned.

“Ooo,” Cathy squealed. “Yes, he’s been looking for a long time.”

“Will someone please tell me what’s going on?” Joseph interjected.

“You’d be a good fit for each other,” Cathy added.

“Amy! Cathy!” Joseph said forcefully. “Explain.”

Amy laughed, and Cathy just smiled.

“How do you feel about the title Vice President Joseph Simself of Digital Advertising and Sales?” Cathy inquired, her dark eyes twinkling.

“Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?” Amy said with a soft smile, laying a hand on top of his. “Joseph, this could be your big break.”

Sammy and Lee chat over dinner

“This food is delicious, babe,” Sammy said as he sliced into his butternut squash and cherry tomato sauce. “Perfect for a crisp fall evening.”

“Hmm…” Lee blinked a few times before focusing on her husband.

Her mind was wrapped up with a certain occupant in the guest bedroom. Lizzie had barely left her room, save her morning walks down to the pier. She had tried to convince Lizzie to join them on a family outing, but like usual, Lizzie chose to stay at the house. Sailing had been particularly fun this morning, and it was nice to enjoy time alone with Sammy as it was a rare treat since the birth of baby Presley. Still… Lee twisted her lower lip. She was worried for Lizzie… and scared for her sister’s marriage.

“Is Presley sleeping?” Sammy inquired.

“Yes, finally,” she replied, wearily.

Her three-month-old was a precious bundle of energy, and had a set of lungs on him. She didn’t even feel guilty that Lizzie’s room was next to the baby’s and their room was on the second floor, even if it meant tripping sleepily down a flight of stairs in the middle of the night.

“Did you have a good afternoon at the office?” she asked.

“I did,” he smiled, and wiped his mouth with a napkin. “Do you miss the action?”

“You know I do,” she replied. “But we agreed this is best for us right now. And I can’t very well go traipsing through the jungles of Selvadorada with a baby strapped to my back and gun strapped to my hip.”

Sammy laughed. “Next family vacation?”

Lee gave him a friendly punch in the arm.

“Come on, babe. You gotta admit. It would be hot,” he teased.

“In more than one way,” she replied, and began mock-fanning herself before sobering as she noticed Lizzie leave the bedroom and walk to the bathroom across the hallway. “There’s…” she didn’t even manage to say ‘dinner,’ before her sister closed the door, ignoring her statement.

“She’s been here for seven weeks,” Sammy remarked. “Any improvement?”

“No,” Lee shook her head. “I’m afraid things are still quite… frosty with them.”

A loud wailing interrupted their conversation. Sammy set down his fork and stood.

“Okay, my turn,” he offered.

Lee sighed. “Thanks, babe. I’ll clean up in here.”

Sammy started into the other room. Lee began shuffling her dishes around, carrying them to the sink. The house phone rang, and she glanced over, pretty certain she knew what name would flash on the caller ID.

“No, she’s in the shower…” she said.

Or at least that’s what she thought.

“I’ll tell her you called.”

Lee and Sammy kiss

Suddenly overcome with gratitude for her working marriage and the husband who adored her, Lee set down the dish brush and walked into the baby’s room. She grabbed her husband, tugged him close, and planted a deep kiss on his mouth.

“What was that for?” Sammy asked.

Lee stared deeply into his eyes. “I love you.”

Author Note: Thanks for reading, everyone. So Wintonborough is not a place in Sims 4… but it is in my Simworld. Recently, I was redoing some of my surrounding towns just for fun, and then I came across Peacemaker’s rebuilds of Windenburg. I got lazy, and Peace’s designs are way better than my own. Sammy and Lee Sarafin had moved to the east coast of the Sim Nation from Windenburg, and I decided to just make it work for the story, thus Wintonborough was born. Located in Simsapeake (a.k.a. Maryland and Virginia) and close to Sim City (a.k.a. the Capitol), Wintonborough is the perfect place for Lizzie to hide out and heal.

The name was inspired by a few of Peace’s lots entitled “Winton” something. Although as the title implies, things are starting to look up so don’t worry. I won’t keep you in ‘heartbreak land’ forever. I’ve been playing Peace’s lots for a few weeks now and they are gorgeous. I highly recommend checking them out.  I decided to follow Lizzie and Joseph over the course of separation. Since I control my Sim and my Sim only, I moved Lizzie out to her sister’s. When I switched back to Joseph, all of his actions were autonomous decisions or whims he rolled. 

If you haven’t already, you should totally check out Cathy Tea’s stories, including Sierra and the S-Boys. And if you have the opportunity, you should check out Shadami’s ISBI challenge with Antwan Plum and company. In addition to Cathy Tea and Amy Cat, this chapter featured LegacySims2017‘s Joseph Simself, MINEZ‘  Sammy Sarafin, my Sim-sister, Lee Green, and introducing Presley Sarafin, my Simself’s nephew. 


Goal #18: Celebrate All that is Good, Part 3 (LASL)

Joseph ponders things

Why did weddings make him sad? Maybe it was because of his marital troubles with Lizzie. Joseph knew they couldn’t keep going the way they were. She was barely speaking to him. She could barely look at him. He didn’t blame her. He was cold and distant. After all the things he promised, after all the things he did, after all the things he thought would be different since the last time they made up, he just couldn’t pull himself together to say what he needed to say. He cared about her still, but they were so unhappy. He didn’t understand what was wrong with him. He had something really good, and he wasn’t handling things well.

Since he lost his job earlier in the year, he was working two jobs to stay afloat, and had even talked to Geeta, his landlady, half seriously about catering with her on a few jobs to make some extra Simoleons. Maybe he should even give the ‘love guru’ thing a try, but ha! Who would listen to him? His marriage was failing in a little over a year. Maybe Geeta was right. More misfortune was in store for them. He didn’t want Lizzie to worry, but they were behind on their rent and medical bills and the new car payment. He just didn’t know how to face her and tell her the truth, and it was costing them. Big time!
Joseph chats with Nora and Julian

“Hey buddy, you should go easy there,” Julian warned in a friendly way.

Joseph was on his second beer. Or was it his third? He couldn’t remember. It didn’t matter. It made him feel warm and fuzzy inside. The kinds of things you should feel at a wedding. Right? He wanted to be happy for their friends. Cathy Tea and Amy Cat were pretty awesome together.

“I’m snacking on this… what is this?” Joseph gulped back a swig, and half tilted his bowl so his sister-in-law and her long-term boyfriend could see. “Some kinda trail mix? What’s that green stuff?”

“Wasabi peas,” Nora replied. “I remember those when Julian and I traveled to Asima last Christmastide. Mmm… crunchy… and oh so good!”

“Spi…cy!” Julian kissed his fingers.

“Just like I like my men,” Nora said, teasing, a hint of pink erupting on her cheeks.

Julian laughed. Joseph grimaced and tried a bite. He immediately downed the rest of his beer.

“Fiery, huh, buddy?”Julian smacked him on the back.

“Excuse me?” a well-dressed unnaturally red-haired man in a two-piece purple suit bumped into Joseph. “Are you with the bride or groom?”

“Is there a groom?” Joseph blinked. “I’m not sure how these things work.”

“Me neither,” the man shrugged.

“I’d say the brides to be,” Nora offered.

“But then…” Julian puzzled.

“I’m friends with Cathy and Amy, but I know Cathy a little better,” Joseph replied. “She works with my wife in publishing.”

“My wife works in publishing too,” the man replied. “Editing.”

“Small world,” Joseph said. “Joseph Simself.”

“Issador Fernandez, but call me Izzie. My wife is Lauryn Marks… the best looking one here,” the man grinned proudly, tugging on his vest and nodding toward the dance floor.

“Don’t let the brides hear you say that,” Nora smirked.

“Lauryn? Smaller world? She’s Lizzie’s editor,” Julian exclaimed. “And you, honey, are the best looking woman here,” he kissed her hand.

“So where is your wife?” Izzie asked.

“I…um…” Joseph glanced around. “Don’t know.”

group at the wedding

Joseph cycled through the tables, chatting with guests and downing alcohol anytime someone asked him a question about his wife. Everyone seemed to talk about how great their women were, and he felt uncomfortable. Not because Lizzie wasn’t great. Because he didn’t know if he was great anymore. John kept grinning over at his new girlfriend, Ash, who was spinning on the dance floor with some of the ladies. Julian gushed about how much he was looking forward to becoming a dad. Joseph took another swig. A dad… yeah, that didn’t happen. He couldn’t believe the crushing grief he felt because of it. Caelen bragged about how hot his girlfriend was. Joseph felt a little out-of-place with the part-pyre, part…well, a bunch of other things… who cured him, but his memories on the procedure were fuzzy. Caelen said that it was best that way, but Joseph wished he could remember where he misplaced his heart.

“Are you ever… going to come dance with me?” Anne approached the table with a teasingly exasperated sigh

She swayed and looked up at the twinkling lights around the lattice above their heads.

“I am at your service, my dear,” Caelen said in a low voice.

“Good, dance fever bit me,” Anne exclaimed. “I just love weddings!” she brushed Joseph’s shoulder lightly and scrunched her nose. “Don’t you?”

Lizzie gets wine

I helped myself to another glass of wine. No one would notice or care. It wasn’t like people were really paying all that much attention to me. It wasn’t my day. I wasn’t here for that. Still, I was struck with a profound loneliness. Where was my husband? I almost burst into tears three times today already, and I didn’t know how much more I could take. Would I be able to hold it together until the end of the marriage ceremony? I watched our friends, and wondered what went wrong with my life.

Akira was giving tips to the DJ, and Riley was hanging over the edge of the booth, both feet in the air, correcting Akira’s advice, and giving his own two cents. The couple teased each other, and Akira playfully put Riley in a headlock until Riley gasped, “Uncle!”

Julian, my almost-brother-in-law and Nora cuddled on a nearby park bench, whispering sweet nothings into her ear. Probably stereotypical mushy-gushy things. I still wished it was Joseph and I.

My editor, Lauryn and her husband, Izzie were getting cozy at a table, discussing the state of world affairs with my cousin, John and Ash, who were finishing each other’s sentences only about a month into their relationship.

Amy, the bride to be, tucked the hair of the other bride-to-be Cathy, tenderly behind her ear, revealing more of her face as the wind kicked up a bit. It was a sweet, intimate moment, and I felt almost embarrassed to have witnessed it. A half-year ago, I wouldn’t have cared. I would’ve been over Luna. I’m sure Joseph and I were nauseatingly sweet like that in the beginning.

Cathy leading a dance

“Who remembers the Macarena?” Cathy asked, humming as she swayed.

“Oh my gawd! YASSSSS!” Riley exclaimed, grabbing my arm. “You aren’t getting out of this, Liz. You owe me a dance!”

“I do?” I blinked rapidly, setting down my glass of wine.

“Yes,” Riley nodded, taking off his top hat and making a sweeping gallant gesture. “May I have this dance?”

“Okay,” I said, nervously, feeling the heat rise in my cheeks, hoping no one saw me.

Amy siddled up to me on the dance floor, lifting her skirt so she could more easily dance.

“This is fun,” she grinned.

“Show us your stuff, Cath-hy!” Riley cupped his hand to his mouth and shouted in a deep voice.

Amy and I shared a knowing glance and giggled.

Sugar playing the piano

Midnight could not arrive soon enough. I had eaten my weight in food, and drank enough alcohol to be legally intoxicated, and I wondered why I wasn’t physically sick. I kept looking around for Joseph, wondering where he was, and then I realized that it didn’t matter. I was probably going to be miserable either way, and he would barely look at me. I plopped down in the dreaded front row, the place no one ever wants to sit in the auditorium or school or church or a wedding, and hoped I could make it through this evening without feeling any worse.

Sugar played a simple, but beautiful version of Moonlight Sonata as the guest continued to trickle into their seats.  It was fitting as Amy shared with me how Cathy proposed. As the cellist, whom I had never seen before, pulled his bow across the strings, I could hear the lovely tension – the moving minor key, stirring me to almost tears. It was an unusual choice for a walk-the-aisle piece, but somehow fitting.

Lizzie sitting alone

Cathy and Amy walked down the aisle together, holding hands. When they reached the arch covered in winding daffodils, roses, and ribbons, Cathy grabbed Amy around the waist and gave her a big smooch. The guests laughed, and Anne slid into a seat next to me.

“What did I miss?” she whispered.

I nodded toward the couple.

“Sorry,” Cathy smirked, as she greeted the guests. “I know it’s customary to wait till the end for the kiss, but I couldn’t help myself.”

Amy flushed and fanned herself happily.

“Hey!” Karleen leaned over and nudged my husband. “Joseph?”

My heart leaped at the sound of his name.

“Why aren’t you sitting with your wife?” she inquired in a hushed tone.

“Oh, Lizzie?” he replied as if surprised by his place in the audience. “I didn’t realize she was there.”

Joseph and Lizzie in front row

My heart simultaneously sank. How could he not notice me? Joseph moved up to the front row and slid next to me as if it was obligatory or mandatory. I felt queasy as he squeezed my hand. What kind of relationship is this? It was if we were living in an alternate reality.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said, waving his hand, as if that was an excuse.

“Naturally, you’d be late,” I said, with a fake smile and a mimicking wave of my own hand.

“Are you tipsy, Liz?” he leaned in close and sniffed me.

I stretched my neck back, offended. “Shh! Watch the ceremony.”

“Somehow, I never really imagined myself standing here, in a dress, with someone so beautiful,” Cathy said quietly. “Ready to do this? Are you brave?”

Cathy cleared her throat, glanced with a quick blush at the onlookers, and then spoke her vows:

I’ll brave the world for you
This I knew
From the start.

Kiss every challenge
Embrace each hardship,
So long as we’re not apart…”

Amy and Cathy's vows 1

I’ll brave the world with you
This I say
With my heart.

“See? Your stars,
my planets, smile together
in our chart.

“Brave the world with me
Write new law,
Overturn Descartes

“Together, we’ll doubt
The mind, which we know
Our two hearts
Will always outsmart.


Amy’s eyes glistened with tears as she took the love of her life’s hand.

With this ring I promise to continue to be your sun in the morning, your stars at night, and create our own galaxy of life and love through out all our days.

Cathy feels baby

As soon as the service was over, Joseph split, muttering something about needing the restroom. I turned and chatted for a few moments with Anne, who was, of course, ecstatic about the wedding and romance in general. I asked her what she was writing these days to steer the conversation away from romance. Nearby, Ash flirted with John. I could hear her, and I cringed. Not because I didn’t like John and Ash together, but because I was so sick of love. Cathy greeted Karleen, and asked if she could pat the stomach.

“Little life, I am so glad you made an appearance at my wedding,” Cathy murmured.

Lizzie trips

It was time for the after party, and I seriously wanted to go home. Home home. Like to my parents’ house. They probably wouldn’t mind. I could sleep in my old bed in my old room and pretend like my life was better than it was. Someone dragged me onto the dance floor, and I don’t even really remember who it was. My head was spinning and I was beginning to feel the full force of all the alcohol I inhaled. I tried to follow the moves, but I stumbled and nearly bumped into none other than Jospeh. I actually cringed, expecting criticism, especially after everything that had happened recently.

“Lizzzz-iiiie,” he slurred his words as he took a step forward to catch me and keep me from falling and making a complete idiot of myself. “You okay?”

“I need some…” I closed my eyes and shook my head slightly, lifting a hand to my forehead. “…air.”

“But we’re already outside,” Karleen teased, looking up at the night sky. “Or did you not notice?” she winked at us.

“I’m…” I swayed again, feeling dizzy and dehydrated.

“Here…” Joseph offered his arm and guided me to the restroom, making a pit stop at the bar for a glass of water.

Joseph dancing

Somehow we ended up behind the restrooms at the back of the park. I drank the water, and it did little to help my foggy brain. Joseph slurred through some half-hearted apology and I think I accepted it, mostly because I couldn’t be expected to think straight, and this was the most he had paid attention to me in weeks. Some weird amalgamation of classical and techno rang from the dance floor, where I’m sure Riley and Akira were dancing center stage, leading the group. Joseph clapped his hands and swayed his hips to the beat.

“Doesn’t?” he began.


“What do you mean… what?” he said, as he danced around with flamboyant moves, waving his arms like a mad man.

“Doesn’t isn’t a sentence or a question,” I replied, strangely and sanely stringing together enough clarity to form that sentence.

“You wanna dance?” he asked, jiving his hips almost unnaturally.

“I thought…” I frowned. “You hate dancing?”

“Shut up!” he yelled dramatically.

I gasped in shock and took a step back, covering my mouth.

He broke into a odd laugh and added, “…and dance with me, woman!”

My face relaxed into a smile. The song… some song… at some point, we danced to that song. I think I taught him the moves.


Dancing and swaying like drunken fools on the grass, and getting my heels stuck in the grass, and Joseph picking me up so I wouldn’t fall somehow led us to furiously make out behind the bathrooms. Not the most romantic spot mind you. I’m not even sure how it happened, but we stumbled back to our hotel. Safely. Shocking, I know, right?

One thing led to another…

…clothing was removed…

…lips and limbs were intertwined…

…and we landed in bed.

How could I have known our bliss was only an alcohol-infused passion? In the morning, Joseph groaned and grunted, complaining of a headache, criticizing my moves from the night before. I was crushed. Utterly defeated…and I realized right then and there that I needed space.

I dressed, grabbed my suitcase, and headed for the door.

All that was good was gone.

Author Notes: So much happiness. So much pain. Oh my gawd! Just when I thought Lizzie and Joseph couldn’t sink any lower. I just don’t know what happened to my Simself or her Sim-spouse. To go from over the top adorable and perfect together to fighting like cats and dogs. I didn’t even know criticizing a person’s “moves” was a thing in game until now. Eek!

On a happy note, much thanks to Shadami and Cathy Tea for helping write their own vows section. Isn’t it beautiful? Yay for another happy couple. This chapter also featured  LegacySims2017‘s Joseph, MINEZ‘ Julian and Issador “Izzie” Fernandez, MadameLee‘s Anne, simscognito‘s Riley, CathyTea’s Sugar Maple Bough, skcaga6‘s Teresa Spinks and Edwin and Sharon Wymer, and TheYayToast‘s Ash. Thanks for reading! 

Goal #18: Celebrate All That is Good, Part 2 (LASL)

Lizzie glances back at Joseph

Cathy excused herself to go visit with other guests, and Karleen joined my sister, Julian, and Lauryn, my editor. Joseph wandered over, a beer in hand. The whole table laughed, and I glanced over my shoulder on my way to the restroom. What could possibly be so funny? Why did I feel so out of place? Why did Joseph avoid me like the plague? I was surprised to catch sight of Munter. I hadn’t seen him since the early spring. He had been overseas in Osimceana, as far as I knew, with his family. I didn’t realize Cathy or Amy invited him. Then again, he didn’t appear dressed for a wedding. I wondered what he would say once he saw the about-ready-to-burst ex-girlfriend of his.

Munter stops Karleen

“Karleen! Stop!” Munter called out, forcefully, more harshly than he meant.

He was so frustrated. He was frustrated with himself, for leaving Karleen when she probably needed him the most, for being suckered by his family. His mother claimed she had an emergency, hence his sudden departure. Upon arriving, he learned his father needed help with closing a business merger. The Bacons acquired restaurants the way some people collect coins. However, the real reason his mother wanted him home was because she disapproved of his younger, unfaithful girlfriend, and she wanted to set him up with a debutante from the right family, with the right education, the right background, the right social circles, and most importantly, the right amount of money. He hated himself for going along with it for all of three months before ending things abruptly when his mother offered to take his new girlfriend pre-ring shopping. He couldn’t keep up with the facade.

His mind had been occupied with Karleen, the girl who screamed ‘stay-away-from-me-I’m-trouble’ by all appearances, but in reality, had such a sweet, fragile demeanor underneath, and a smile that could make his heart melt. Even just being near her was enough to make his brain go all loopy. When he first approached her table, she abruptly stood and tried to walk away. It wasn’t like he had tried. He hadn’t called or written or emailed or texted. He probably deserved her anger. Still, he couldn’t leave things the way they were. She was in his head, in his thoughts, in his dreams, and he found himself making imaginary plans with her and the baby. The baby? He touched his lips absently. And she was in his heart.

“What!” she said, edge in her tone.

“I’m sorry,” he replied, shoving his hands in his pockets. “I’m sorry for being a jerk and for leaving you. I’m sorry for not calling or contacting you in any way. How’ve…you been?” he kicked a loose stone with his sneaker.

“How have I been?” she whirled, repeating, her eyes fiery. “Let’s see. I’ve been… um… just peachy. I mean, I’m past the morning sickness stage, but my feet and ankles are constantly swollen and I feel like I’m leaking a lot of the time, and my brain is all mushy, and I haven’t had a cocktail in seven months, but otherwise, I’m just great. Thanks for asking.”

Munter takes Karleen's hand “Please don’t be like that,” Munter almost whined as he stepped in front of her to cut off her escape route.

“You said you’d be around,” Karleen cried. “And then you vanished.”

“I’m stupid.”

“You promised to call, and you didn’t.”

“I’m an idiot.”

“You said you loved me.”

I do.”

Karleen’s eyes widened. “You do? You still do?”

“I didn’t stop,” Munter said, softly. “Now the question is… do you love me? For me? I know you never cared about the money, but I could take care of you, Karleen. I could take care of you… well…” he groaned and rolled his eyes back. “…that didn’t come out right. I want to take care of you…” he took her hand. “I can offer you everything you ever wanted, but most importantly, I want to offer you my heart. It’s yours, if you want it.”

“Munter… what are you saying?” she frowned, her lower lip wobbling, her eyes flooding with unknown emotions.

He couldn’t tell if it was good or bad.

Munter confesses to Karleen

“Karleen, I don’t care anymore. I don’t care that you slept with John and with Goober when you slept with me. I love you. I forgive you. I want to marry you…” he blurted out, surprising himself, and then his face relaxed into a smile. “I want to marry you.”

“What?” Karleen’s voice cracked. “Even if?” she shook her head. “I don’t deserve you.”

“Oh angel, I don’t deserve you,” Munter said. “Yeah, we’ve been wicked to each other, but I’m not holding it against you if you won’t.”

Tears spilled down her rosy cheeks. “Even if the baby…” she hiccuped.

“I don’t care…” he said in an urgent whisper. “…who the baby’s father is. I want you.”

He pressed his head against hers, inches from her mouth, feeling compelled to kiss the lips of the woman he loved, probably salty from her tears. He didn’t care.

Kiss me

“Kiss me,” she whispered, fiercely.

She didn’t have to ask twice. Munter wrapped his hand around the small of her back, and around her neck, and pulled her into his embrace. It felt good to have her in his arms after all this time. When they finally resurfaced for air, he felt slightly annoyed. He didn’t want it to end.

“So you crashed a wedding to propose?” she laughed, swiping happy tears from her face.

“Basically, love,” he smirked.

“Great!” she giggled. “How are we going to tell our friends?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “All I know is I want you…” he placed his hand on her stomach. “And this baby to mine. I’ll marry you either way.”

Karleen tells Munter

Karleen stepped back, wrapping her hands around her belly, a big warm smile erupting.



“The baby is yours.”

He stood in stunned silence. Mine? It was almost incomprehensible. The possibility of the child being his was always there, but he always suspected the baby was John’s. Now Karleen stood before him, eyes shining, big smile, and an earnestness in his tone. His breath caught.

“You’re sure?”

She bobbed her head. “Yes, the doctor and I counted the days. And they have these pre-birth DNA tests these days that confirm parentage if you want…”

“Oh boy!” he ran a hand through his brown curly hair. “Oh wait… is it a boy? Or a girl?”

“Do you want to be surprised?” she asked, leaning in coyly.

He shook his head. She stood on tiptoe, placing a tender hand on his shoulder, and opened her mouth to speak.

Author Notes: Is your heart melting from cuteness over Karleen Corey and Munterbacon‘s Munter Bacon? Mine is. Lol. This chapter also featured LegacySims2017’s Joseph Simself, and a variety of background characters, Nora Green, Geeta Rasoya (who was the caterer for the event), Don Baxter, Zurka’s  Angela Smith, MadameLee‘s Anne Charming, Cathy Tea‘s Cathy Tea, Shadami’s Amy Cat, MINEZ‘ Julian DeBateau, Lauryn Marks, and Issador ‘Izzie’ Fernandez, and simscognito‘s Riley Cognito. Thanks for reading. 

Goal #18: Celebrate All That is Good, Part 1 (LASL)

Cathy and Amy stargazing On hot nights, young lovers lay on the ground and identify stars. The excruciating temperatures of the day fade away. Coyotes sing their night hymns. White hydrangeas are in full bloom, an ode to summer. Nothing but calm and constellations and hearts full of dreams. The mighty hunter Orion. The vain queen Cassiopeia. The hearty bull Taurus. The wild archer Sagittarius.

“Luna looks beautiful tonight,” Amy cooed.

“You look radiant,” Cathy replied.

Amy flushed, her cheeks a pleased pink. “Thank you. Seriously, it’s almost as if…” she squinted. “I can see the Lakes colony.”

“Have you ever been?” Cathy inquired, crossing her ankles the other direction as she shifted, her back easing against the crevices of dirt between the paved stones.

“To Luna?” Amy said, rolling so she could see her girlfriend.

“Yes,” Cathy murmured, twisting her braid around her finger. “It is truly remarkable to visit the moon and see Simterra from space.”

“I’ve never left planetside,” Amy replied. “My great-great-great grandparents were explorers, and they hitched a ride with military pilots to the Delta base on Luna before it was off limits to civilians. I think they lived somewhere out here in the Daleth system. I always thought it would be spectacular to be a pioneer in space. There’s so much out there…” she swept her arm upward, placing her hands at different angles to frame clusters of stars. “…I would love to see it all someday. I can’t imagine living in a more lovely spot in the galaxy. Of course…” she smiled coyly. “…I have you to thank for that.”

Cathy propped her weight against her elbow, a bright smile spreading across her face. “Marry me, Amy.”

“What?” Amy blinked rapidly, shook her head, and sat up as if she didn’t hear her closest and dearest friend carefully.

“Marry me,” Cathy repeated, sitting up and draping her arms over her bent knees. “I’m not as young as you you, and I don’t have the energy you do, and I’m advancing in years. I don’t want to waste a moment. I want to be with the woman who makes me sun rise every morning, and who makes my stars shine at night, and who sends the spark of life through my veins.”

Amy’s eyes misted with tears. “Cathy…” she gasped, bringing her hands to her heart as she scooted close. “Thank you…” the women touched foreheads, bowing ever so slightly making silent vows never to leave one another.

“I will marry you.”

Cathy serenades AmyThey made plans to marry within a fortnight. The preparations were a whirlwind. Neither had family in the area, and so they invited as many friends as they could. “Friends are family,” Cathy said, and Amy agreed, “You make your own family.”

Amy called me while Cathy played a phenomenal piano concerto.

“You are going to be there?” she inquired.

I glanced over at Joseph, who was buried in a book on the couch. He hadn’t looked at me all evening. I sighed heavily, and then flushed, hoping Amy hadn’t heard my exasperation.

“We will totally be there,” I assured.

I contacted the same dressmaker who sold me my bridesmaids’ gown for Lee’s wedding, and found a matching dress in a cool shade of lime, perfect for the fiery summer days in Oasis Springs. I bought new shoes and new jewelry too, hoping to feel good about myself. Unfortunately, Joseph and I were still distant. I slept over at Karleen’s more than I slept in my own bed, or stayed out all night with Riley and Akira doing karaoke, even if they worried about me.

“Sleep when you’re dead!” Riley declared, wrapping his arm around my neck.

“That’s right!” Akira exclaimed, wrapping an arm around my waist. “Preach!”

“I love you guys,” I said, willing myself to be happy.

They really did try.

Lizzie sees Angela

Cathy and Amy decided to do the reception early in the day with a party first, and the wedding second, so they could officially tie the knot at midnight under the stars. I thought the idea was super romantic, but I wondered how long I could tolerate heels and polite chit-chat with acquaintances and strangers, and putting up a facade for Joseph and I. Riley offered to be my wingman, but despite his best efforts, he was a social butterfly. He relished the crowds, flitting from friend to friend, talking, laughing, joking around, making dramatic arm gestures. I knew I couldn’t rely on him entirely.

“Lizzie!” Angela Smith, dressed in a proper pencil red dress, waved to me as I wandered amidst the reception tables, wishing I was a flower.

I could be a rose, pretty and vibrant, and no one would want to talk to me, I sighed.

“Hey Angela,” I said, mustering a smile.

“Wow, you look fantastic,” she purred. “I love green on you.”

“Thank you,” I replied with the best small talk comment I could. “I love your red. You match the roses.”

“Hey I’m sorry about last month,” Angela said. “I know we weren’t the best of hosts to you.”

“It’s fine,” I shrugged, feeling a headache forming behind my eyes. “I wasn’t feeling great that day.”

“Still, it’s no excuse,” Angela insisted. “John and I want to have you over again. Actually…” she reached for my wrist the way an intimate friend would. “You and I really should hang out sometime. Maybe after work? Go grab cocktails?”

“Yeah sure,” I said, distracted by the fact that my husband was over at the bar, helping himself to a beer, and it wasn’t even eleven in the morning yet. I figured this was his way of coping with the day’s events, and me… copious amounts of alcohol.

“Dude! Drinking before noon!” I heard Riley say as he slammed in Joseph’s shoulder in a manly fashion. “I approve.”

I gritted my teeth. So not helping, Riley. 

Nora and Julian -- focal point --Lizzie uncomfortableMy sister and Julian had arrived, Nora, a vision in her chic pink dress, a perfectly placed bow of a slightly different shade wrapped around her bulging belly, Julian, looking dapper, as always, in his suit and tie. And attentive to his pregnant girlfriend.

“Can I get you anything, honey?” I heard him ask.

“A glass of ginger ale,” she replied, with a girly little sigh. “The stomach needs to hold out. I feel like it’s doing somersaults.”

“It’s fighting a little battle in there,” Julian remarked, talking directly to her abdomen, and then kissing her cheek. “…for who’s in control. Don’t forget little one who made you.”

I gulped, feeling a sudden and overwhelming sadness. I should’ve been there… with that… that baby in my stomach. Some days I hardly remembered the pregnancy and other days, the memories were so vivid and vibrant. I imagined how different my life would be if I hadn’t been hit by a car. If I hadn’t passed on to the in-between. If I hadn’t lost the precious cargo in me. Would Joseph love me more? Would he pay more attention to me? To us?

“You okay?”

I blinked, my vision focusing on a radiant Amy, wrapped in yards of lilac satin. Sadness struck my heart again as I realized I never did really have a wedding day. Well, I did, but I didn’t. I didn’t have a ceremony with my friends. I didn’t spend time hunting for the perfect gown. I didn’t select bridesmaids and flowers and all the kinds of things you do when you’re getting married. I swallowed hard, reminding myself today wasn’t about me, but about my friends. My happy adorable-in-love friends.

“I’m fine,” I replied, grabbing Amy’s hands. “I’m happy for you both.”

“Thank you, and thanks for coming,” Amy tilted her head to the side in the direction of her partner. “It means the world to Cathy and I.”

“Amy Cat, get over here!” Nora interrupted us. “Where are you two kids heading on your honeymoon? I want all the details.”

“It’s good to see you, Lizzie,” Amy smiled, squeezing my hands, before walking to my sister. “It’s a surprise,” she said. “But you tell me all the details about this…” she patted Nora’s stomach. “…little one. Have you thought of names yet?”

I wasn’t sure I could handle anymore. My mouth fell open, and I had to force tears back from the brink. Maybe I needed a drink too.

Karleen chatters away Cathy took my hands before I had the opportunity to escape to the bathroom, and insisted I join her at a table. She was dressed in a flowing white dress with silk white roses, her black hair waving around her shoulders for once. She looked so happy. A enlarged Karleen leaned back in her chair, crossing her ankles under the table, and stretching her legs as far as was still permitted to be ladylike. She wore a strapless purple dress, a bold choice given she was in her third trimester and looking about ready to pop and she still had six weeks left. A spiky purple collar graced her neck. My former babysitting kid Teresa also occupied the table, looking all grown-up in a paisley pink flowered baby doll dress and a purple bowler hat. She even wore eyeliner and mascara and some lavender shadow.

“What’s it like?” Teresa asked, excitedly. “To be in love.”

“Says the preteen who can’t keep her eyes off Steve over there at the banquet table and he can’t shut up about you,” Karleen said, in mock-seriousness as she moved her hand around like a talking mouth. “Oh Teresa is just so great. Teresa is so beautiful. Teresa hangs the moon.”

“Karleen,” Teresa laughed. “He’s not that bad.”

“Close your eyes and imagine perfection,” Cathy murmured. “Real deal perfection. It’s not really a feeling. It’s not really an abstract state of being. It is a truth. A real solid truth that simply cannot be defined by any words known to mankind, or stopped up by a dam of our own actions. It transcends this life…” her eyes fluttered open. “…and space and time itself.”

“Wow,” Teresa breathed. “That’s… whoa!”

I closed my eyes. I wished for perfection… for love like that. What happened to Joseph and I?

“Excuse me,” I said, covering my mouth to choke back a cry.

Author Notes: Adorableness abounds with Cathy Tea and Amy Cat! But Lizzie and Joseph are still frosty and distant with one another. Grr… Okay, moving along… CT and Amy got engaged, decided to throw a party, and then host a wedding. It glitched for me, so I went into their household, didn’t control anything, other than to set up the wedding again, hence the multiple upcoming chapters. It’s just a never ending party. 🙂 This chapter featured Cathy Tea‘s Cathy Tea and Sugar Maple Bough, Shadami’s Amy Cat, Zurka’s  Angela Smith, simscognito‘s Riley Cognito, LegacySims2017‘s Joseph Simself, MINEZ‘ Julian DeBateau, and skcaga6‘s Teresa Spinks and background characters, skcaga6’s Steve Wymer, CathyTea’s Sugar Maple Bough, Ace Reynolds, Don Baxter, MINEZ’ Lauryn Marks, Karleen Corey, Nora Green, and MadameLee‘s Anne Charming. Thanks for reading. 

Goal #17: Weather the Distance, Part 2 (LASL)

Joseph and Lizzie stand in the hallway  After our argument, I was seriously tempted to move in with Karleen and Ash temporarily… or John. Both offered. Both sympathized. That’s why I didn’t leave. I didn’t want their looks of pity, their endless questions, their contempt for Joseph. As much as I was mad at him, I didn’t want others to think badly of him, though I’m sure after our last loud argument in the hallway, Annie probably gossiped to our landlady and friends. We stood in the hallway on the shag green carpet, facing the brown and tan striped walls, ready to face our dinner as best as we could. The love loss between us was palpable.

Summer love seemed to blossom everywhere. Our anniversary came and went. We ate a quiet dinner while watching television. Nothing fancy. Nothing momentous. We managed to survive one year of marriage and all its ups and downs. We went through more in a year than most couples did in a lifetime. Still, we maintained the facade that everything was okay. Joseph apologized. I apologized. And that was that. Nothing else changed.

John and Ash Fun-loving John began dating the pragmatic, sarcastic Ash. It was a bit of a surprise for all of us, but apparently, they really hit it off while she was covering the beat at the Geek Con. Ash was writing a scathing piece on the outrageous scandal of Simstagram’s president and chief financial officer’s embezzlement with get-this! None other than Goober Nerdstrom’s assistance. Apparently, Mr. Nerdstrom was fetching black market art pieces for the Simstagram higher-ups. No wonder Joseph had so many problems there. And it was good he got out while he did.

John and Ash are dating Ash walked the Con, getting feedback from the gamers regarding the incident. John was, as always, his usual adorkable self, hitting Ash up with pun after pun and making her laugh. He invited her back to his place the first night and they stayed up all night, talking, laughing, gaming. This went on for the length of the con until finally John asked her if she’d be his girlfriend. He learned his lesson with Karleen, and decided to be blunt. She accepted and John snapped a picture to send it to me. It warmed my heart. He looked so happy. He deserved it.

They broke the news to Karleen, who was surprisingly in favor of the match. I was surprised given Ash’s knowledge of Karleen and John’s dating history, however, like Karleen, I was inclined to believe he wasn’t the dad. If Karleen was telling the truth, the timing was wrong, which left the missing-in-action criminal Goober or billionaire chef-bartender businessman Munter, also still overseas with his family. Karleen proclaimed she would survive with a dramatic flourish as she returned to work.

Karleen pregnant and working at Walrus Karleen had been doing well at Walrus Books. The customers loved her, and appreciated her crazy stories. She took the time to greet each patron, and made sure she knew what their preferences were so she could accommodate. She had even received a raise recently, though she was a little worried about what would happen once the baby was born. She wouldn’t be able to work for awhile. Her boss assured her that the job would be waiting for her when she got back much to Karleen’s relief. While Karleen managed to remain single for the longest time in her life, it seemed like the rest of our friends were pairing up.

Cathy Tea had traveled the world in the last year. She toured for another bestselling book. Unfortunately, the road can be a lonely place, as Cathy wrote me. The most interesting people she met were bartenders. Unfortunately, they were either too old…


How does a youngin’ like you know a sasparilla?” the bartender in Windenburg inquired.

He rocked the salt and pepper look with his twirling mustache. He regaled Cathy with tales of the “good old days,” plopping an extra cherry in her whipped cream. In the end, he went to his grave a few days after meeting Miss Tea, a case of bad fish and indigestion. Perhaps she wanted to be with someone who didn’t have to inhale Pepto Simsol on a daily basis.

…too young…

CT and young guy “Aww… Mz. Tea, you are always makin’ me smile,” the dark-skinned, chiseled jaw, and sparkling eyes caught her attention.

Say, we should grab a coffee sometime, or a tea. You like tea right?” she smirked. “Wait, you like tea, or else you wouldn’t be talkin’ to me,” she quipped.

That’s awful kind of ya, but shouldn’t you date someone your own age?”

Ouch! Who said anything about dating? I was just thinking delicious intellectual conversation with a handsome young man like yourself and an experienced woman as myself and we’ll go from there.”

No thanks, Mz. Tea. Maybe some other time.”

enchanting introduction from Cathy

While waiting for the metro city bus to arrive, Cathy surprised a bystander with a shower of red rose petals.

“These are called Dame de Coeur,” Cathy explained. “Aren’t they lovely?”

“Say do you usually go around and throw flowers at people?” the redhead made a face.

“Why not? Admit it. It made your day,” Cathy smiled. “It means ‘lady of heart.’ You should be flattered.”

“Uh thanks,” the woman replied, sarcastically. “Where are you headed?”

“Here. There. A little bit of everywhere,” Cathy remarked. “I’m Cathy.”



Amy meets Goober You see, Amy Cat walked to Thymes Square to meet a man she chatted with online. Turns out the man was goofy and charming and wanted in four states. Oh did I say states? I meant countries. Dejected, Amy boarded a bus and rode until the end of the line in Oasis Springs, and wandered around until she purchased a ticket to return.

Amy and Cathy Perhaps it wasn’t a completely wasted trip because she met the goofy and charming lady Cathy with her quirky ways and winning smile and messy braid that bounced when she walked. Amy found herself drawn to the older woman in a way she hadn’t ever felt before. Cathy promised to give Amy a full tour of the Springs and if she didn’t like it after the afternoon, Cathy would personally reimburse her for the ticket cost.

Amy stayed for four days, absolutely delighted by Cathy’s way of telling stories and intrigued by how well she seemed to know every nook and cranny of the Springs from the local watering holes to the best hidden picnic spots to the most comfortable night’s sleep in three counties. At the end of the week, Amy was sad she would need to return, but then Cathy surprised her once more at the bus stop with a single Dame de Coeur rose.

Cathy with rose “It’s a simple as bread and butter and the sun that rises in the western sky, Amy,” Cathy began. “I like you. I like you a lot. And I think we should go steady if you’re into that.”kiss

Oh Amy was most definitely into that!

They kissed.

They hugged.

Amy promised to return the following weekend, and Cathy replied “nonsense,” and said she had friends in the city who owed her favors. She would be coming with on the bus ride.
Don and Annie

Meanwhile, Don Baxter, Cathy’s roommate, had been dating the lovely ginger, Annie since around Simerce. He scheduled a dinner at Chez Llama to mark their five month anniversary. They met during karaoke one night, and Don whisked her away to Uptown to the Stargazer Lounge so she could hear him play. Needless to say, the romantic-at-heart was impressed by his doting and was dazzled by his musical prowess.

Don proposes Don also had an ulterior motive for taking Annie to the best restaurant in town (which I had yet to confirm since I had never gone back). He wanted to pop a certain question. Of course, Annie was thrilled and agreed wholeheartedly to marry the man in blue. He had transferred to the San Myshuno police department. They announced their engagement after Patriotic Day.

Caelen and Anne outside the closetEven my doctor seemed to be getting it on. I was pretty disturbed when I saw these two outside the exam room of the Celestial Clinic. I don’t think he was performing the standard exam.Needless to say, I didn’t go to my appointment that day. I couldn’t remember the last time Joseph and I were together.

Anne smacks Caelen Anne sent me a long email, gushing about how she met Caelen outside strolling the docks of San Myshuno. The smell of sea salt and fading pink sunset set the stage for their whirlwind romance. At first, she wasn’t too impressed by him, even going so far as to smack him when he made a risque joke.

Caelen and Anne -charmed However, that was short-lived. She soon fell for his allure, and even more his kindness. Caelen really did want to save the world, a fact that impressed Anne. She, of course, didn’t care about the fact that he was part pyre, part witch, part… whatever… he didn’t share the last part. It was confusing as is. Anne was just thrilled he paid attention to her.

Lizzie complaining about getting dinner over withJoseph and I, on the other hand, had fizzled some… again. I was getting tired of this back and forth dance. What was so wrong with us now? I was beginning to question whether I missed some early warning signs during our dating experience. Maybe we just got married too fast.

“Let’s just get this dinner over with,” I said, tiredly.

I wasn’t looking forward to spending the evening with the Smiths. Nothing against John or Angela. I just wasn’t sure I could keep up the charade of the ‘happy’ Green-Simself… Simself-Green couple. See. We couldn’t even agree on a name.

“We won’t stay late,” Joseph assured.

Joseph laughing with the Smiths The Smiths were a little too happy to see us. Joseph settled on the couch with Angela and they immediately started chatting about old times. Of course, Joseph, John, and Angela shared a common undergraduate experience, complete with Angela as a cheerleader, John as a football player, and Joseph on track. They met through athletics and then it was parties and state championships and campus pranks and moving furniture in the back of John’s dusty pick-up truck across half the nation.

Lizzie pulls out her phoneWhen Joseph left the city, he lost track of them for a short time, but the Smiths eagerly filled their friend in on everything in between. I was at a loss, feeling left out. I didn’t share their same experiences. My collegiate years were quieter and while I liked sports, I couldn’t seem to get a word in edgewise. Plucking my phone from my pocket, I resolved to text Karleen and ask her to call me to come up with some excuse, most likely baby related, for me to leave.

John side hugs Lizzie

“Oh, I’m afraid we are boring Lizzie,” John exclaimed, wrapping his arm around my mid-section.

“Sorry honey,” Joseph said with a smile. “It’s been a long time since we’ve… well…” he rubbed his jaw. “When was the last time we had a poker night?”

“Oh gawd!” Angela hooted. “I remember those. All that money… pouf! …because somebody couldn’t keep his eyes on his cards…” she nudged her husband.

“Right,” John smirked. “You were just too good looking,” he squeezed her shoulder.

“And that’s why you lost… both of you… to me…” Angela claimed, proudly, pointing both thumbs in her direction.

Everyone laughed. Everyone, except me. I felt a twinge of jealousy.

“Perhaps you’d like to help Angela get started with dinner,” John seemed to direct toward me.

Lizzie chops onions

“Right…” I grumbled, making my way to the kitchen.

We were supposed to be having chili. I was supposed to bring garlic bread. I forgot. Or a salad. Joseph didn’t remind me. I came straight from work, and I was almost tempted to claim I had a headache or something just to get out of this dinner. The Smiths were a nice couple, but their inside jokes and shared history with Joseph were lost on me. I grunted and groaned as I rummaged through the fridge and began slicing onions for the stew…or soup… or whatever. I tried to tell myself that the onions were making my eyes water, but the truth was, I felt invisible.

When Angela finally arrived in the kitchen, she was laughing so hard that tears fell down her face. She walked to the sink and filled a glass of water.

“Nice of you to finally join me,” I muttered.

“What did you say?” Angela replied, only half-hearing me as she called back down the hallway. “Now boys! No fair going through the photo albums without me. We can do that after dinner.”

“You know what?” I slammed the knife on the counter. “I’m not all that hungry.”

“What?” Angela wiped at her eyelids. “Are you feeling okay, Lizzie?”

“I’m feeling peachy,” I snipped, sarcastically. “Enjoy your dinner.”

“Wait? You’re leaving already?”

“You won’t miss me. You didn’t know I was here.”

Lizzie leaves

John wandered into the kitchen and I shoved past him.

“What’s her problem?” he asked a bewildered Angela.

“I’ll see you later,” I snapped at Joseph as I walked right out of the apartment.

Maybe I was being childish. Maybe I was acting petulant. But for the first time in weeks, it felt good to no longer pretend as I slammed the door.

Author Notes: First of all, hooray! I wandered around the city to catch up with some folks and found love is in the air. Congratulations to Cathy Tea‘s Cathy Tea and Shadami’s Amy Cat, to Don Baxter and rockannie‘s Annie Rock, John Schooner and TheYayToast‘s Ash Toast, and MadameLee‘s Anne Charming and Caelen Vatore. This chapter also featured  LegacySims2017‘s Goober Nerdstrom (who seriously gets around… lol) and Joseph Simself, Karleen Corey, and Zurka’s John and Angela Smith. Second, Lizzie and Joseph are still unhappy in my game. Drr… everything went downhill after that dinner at Chez Llama. Maybe they will bounce back soon? Thanks for reading everyone. 

Goal #17: Weather the Distance, Part 1 (LASL)

With the return of summer came the hot days, warm nights, and bugs. Who knew the mosquitoes would be more bloodthirsty than the vampire bats? In the past few weeks, we had seen a surge of the night creatures in the city, bringing a terrifying number of unregistered vamps to our streets. Someone described it as their mating season. The government was attempting to crack down on the crime wave and compensate for the heat wave through better policing, enacting a temporary eleven PM curfew, and beefing up the power plant to handle all the back-up generators and air conditioners. The San Myshuno Department of Health and Sanitation warned citizens to carry plenty of bug and bat spray to avoid complications from bloodsucker bites. Like any reasonable person, I stayed calm. It wasn’t like I had never had a run-in with a vampire before, but I didn’t trust them, especially because of the mind control Joseph had suffered. Mosquitoes? They were just an annoyance.

Caelen and Lizzie talking

The only vampire I trusted was my unofficial doctor, Caelen Vatore. He managed to determine I suffered from a residual traces of his mental energies in my system post the de-ghostify procedure he helped oversee and conduct, which was more than any other medical professional had been able to discover. When in close proximity to me, it caused a spike in blood pressure, resulting in headaches, nausea, chest pain, dizziness, and fatigue. It was a simple fix. Iron supplements, of all things. And consumption of garlic. Garlic noodles. Garlic bread. Garlic potatoes. Good thing I liked garlic. Caelen, as only partial pyre, managed to take a supplement his sister, the homeopath, cooked up to prevent an averse reaction to me when examining and treating me. He also wore gloves. He assured me a full-blooded vampire would be warned away as he could smell the garlic through my pores.

“Great, I’m sweating garlic!” I rolled my eyes.

Lizzie and Joseph at a distance

Joseph and I returned to a semi-cool relationship. Ever since I discovered he hadn’t told me the truth about his job loss, he maintained his distance. I wish he would get over his pride. Everyone has problems at work. Some are worse than others, but I still understood and sympathized. It was like he was too afraid to look me in the eye. The more distant he grew, the more frustrated I became, perpetuating the cycle.

Sometimes I would catch a glimpse of him in the distance. Most evenings, I would return from a walk to clear my head or formulate a new idea or break past writer’s block and I’d see him returning from a jog. Not many people walked the streets at night due to the curfew, but I didn’t want to live in fear. It was good to see Joseph didn’t either. At least not fear of vampires. He seemed afraid of me, afraid of what I might think.

The day after he confessed he lost his job, he went out and found work through a temp agency. Since he had a background in business and experience in advertising, the company was able to place him with an executive firm in the city of Magnolia Promenade. I was happy for him. I really was. But it meant I saw less of him than I’d like. He rode the train for two hours nearly every day and sometimes he stayed in Magnolia overnight or on a long weekend because it made sense for him to be close. I didn’t know exactly what he was doing, but he was making decent money. I watched our bank account numbers climb as our relationship declined. I watched him reach out and pet a stray dog and wonder why he didn’t show me the kindness he did before. My heart ached. I missed him.

Lizzie gaming

I’m gonna beat you,” Karleen squealed through the microphone.

I adjusted my head set, groaned, and continued steering my car along the racetrack, determined to win. Karleen had quit working at the bar. It was difficult to pour drinks and flirt with customers for tips when her ankles were swollen and every muscle in her body ached, or so she said. Riley managed to get Karleen an “in” at his old job working for Walrus Books. Karleen seemed much more suited to sitting behind a desk, checking out customers, and talking up a storm about the latest literature crazes. She could sit on her stool, doddle on scrap paper and peruse magazines when the business slowed, and still manage to please her employer enough to make enough Simoleons to pay the rent. She didn’t make as much as she did in bar tips, but it was a much more suitable job for a five-month pregnant woman. In the evenings, she liked to game to let off steam. The child hadn’t even arrived yet, and she was already bemoaning the woes of single motherhood.

I kept reminding her that she made her choice. She never did reach Goober, and John, while supportive and helpful from a distance, didn’t really believe the kid was his, and so they stayed friends-ish. While he told her he still cared about her, Munter decided to take some time apart and fly to Osimceana to visit his family and check in on business there. They texted, according to Karleen, but not much more. She didn’t force the issue, even though I could tell she was greatly saddened at the loss of his “intimate friendship.” Her words. Not mine.

“Gah!” I dropped the controller and it rolled under the couch, losing by a half-car length to Riley.

“I’m a WINNER!” Riley shrieked.

I winced, turning down the volume on my headset. “Could you be any louder?”

Congratulations babe,” Akira’s ever even-toned voice streamed through the speaker.

Bah!” Karleen whined. “Okay, losers, who’s up for a rematch at my place? I’d come over there, but…” she grunted. “I just got all comfy cozy on my couch.

Does that mean I’m not invited?” Riley asked.

You won! So no, you’re not invited,” Karleen teased.

Then Akira’s not going,” Riley determined, and I could literally picture her arms crossed in front of her chest.

Riles, play nice,” Akira warned softly.

Lizzie bummed she lostI leaned my head back into the edge of the couch as I listened to my friends’ banter.

I’ve got Simpsi,” Karleen giggled. “Ice cold. Refreshing. And non-alcoholic. So perfectly legal.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be watching your caffeine intake?” I replied.

Karleen released a disgusted sigh. “Oh! That doctor thinks he knows everything...” she paused and I could practically hear her smile. “…but at least he’s cute.”

Karleen!” all three of us, Akira, Riley, and I, exclaimed.

Kidding! Kidding!” Karleen laughed. “He is easy on the eyes, but I’m not into him. I have enough on my plate.”

“Same time tomorrow?” Akira inquired.

Yeah, gotta split. Specific Hospital is starting up again tonight,” Karleen said. “Special summer edition.”

Bummer!” Riley said. “We’ve got dinner plans.”

“Chez Llama?” I asked.

Yeah, it’s the best,” Riley said. “I bought a new dress and everything.”

I wouldn’t know. I hadn’t been back since my episode and our disastrous date night. I felt envious. Riley and Akira would have an awesome date night and I was stuck at home… alone. As if on cue, Joseph entered the apartment, gave me a salute of acknowledgement, and walked into the bathroom. I nodded, and felt my heart leap a little just seeing him.

“Hey guys, gotta go,” I abruptly ended voice chat and turned off the television. “Joseph?” I called through the wood, tapping against the door. “You want to catch a movie or something?”

“Isn’t Specific Hosptial airing tonight?” he replied, and I could hear the water rushing as he turned on the shower.

I reached for the doorknob, and realized it wouldn’t turn. Shocked, I took a step back, feeling hurt that he locked me out.

“Right,” I replied, trying to sound happy. “Silly me!” I said, with an air of sarcasm. “I’ll go watch it now.”

Instead, I turned on the television, boosted the volume, and then wandered into the bedroom to read a book on the bed.

Lizzie confronts Joseph Thirty minutes later, I wandered into the living room. Joseph whirled, as if startled to see me, balancing a bowl of yogurt, granola, and fruit in his hand. He was still glistening from his run. I tried not to salivate. The timing couldn’t be more wrong. I frowned.

“I thought… you showered…”

“Oh? Um…” he fumbled. “I was going to…and then… I was hungry… so I fixed a snack.”

“And you left the water running for twenty-five minutes?” I glared, thinking about all the wasted hot water.

“And you didn’t watch Specific Hospital?” he matched my snippy tone.

“No,” I shrugged, offering the truth first. “It’s only fun to watch with Karleen… or John.”

“You could go over to your cousin’s,” Joseph replied.

“Curfew’s in an hour,” I said. “I’d have to stay the night.”

“I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”

Was he trying to get rid of me? I narrowed my eyes. I couldn’t believe this was the state of our marriage. Up and down. Back and forth. Hot and cold.

“Maybe I will,” I stuck my chin in the air, and turned.

“Okay,” Joseph said as if I had just informed him I was brushing my teeth instead of agreeing to crash at my cousin’s pad for the night. “I think I’ll do some sit-ups in the hall.”

I was disgusted by his lack of concern. “Didn’t you just get back from a workout?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Fine. I’ll see you tomorrow,” I grabbed my keys and phone and shoved them in my pocket.

Joseph does sit-ups while Lizzie is angryJoseph dropped on the hall floor, tucking his arms behind his head as he lowered himself from the floor. If I wasn’t so mad at him, I’d probably think he was hot. My shirtless man. His tattoos fully displayed. His muscles flexing. His soft grunts as he exhaled sharply in between each sit-up. I couldn’t believe I was thinking about him in this way. I didn’t want to think of him this way. I was furious. Was this really what our marriage had descended to? Distance? Annoyance? Indifference?

“Do you think you could take out the trash before you leave?” he inquired from the floor. “It is overflowing.”

“Seriously?” I sputtered, placing my hands on my hips.

“Or I could do it,” he replied.

“Yeah, you should do it,” I huffed.

“Could you get some milk while you’re out? We’re low and if I’m going to have cereal tomorrow…” he began, and I cut him off angrily.

“Get your own plum milk!” I snapped. “I’m spending the night at John’s, remember? You banished me?”

“I didn’t banish you,” he stood up and wiped the dust from his hands, nonchalantly. “You wanted to go.”

“No I didn’t,” I protested. “And I’m not coming back before your shift tomorrow morning just so you can have your precious milk.”

“There’s no need for sarcasm,” he grunted.

“There’s no need for distance either,” I said. “But you made that perfectly clear in your actions in the last few weeks as if it’s my fault you lost your last job,” my tone escalated until I was practically shrieking. “I just wish you’d grow up, be a man, and tell me how you really feel instead of playing this pathetic game. Do you want to lose me?”

Lizzie arguing with Joseph I slammed my fist against the elevator down button and jumped back to the center of the room to await his response. Joseph’s shoulders slumped. Sadly. The door across the hall squeaked open. Annie poked her head out, dressed in pajamas, her hair pulled back in a ponytail for once, and her cheeks green from an avocado face mask.

“Is everything okay?” she whispered frantically.

I glanced at Joseph, and at Annie, and then back at Joseph. He remained silent, and tight-lipped. My heart sank like a stone to the bottom of a river. You’re not even going to try and fight for me? I wailed internally.

“Nothing, I mean.. no…” I said, bewildered by his lack of emotion. With a forceful huff, I stomped around the corner and out of sight. “I’m taking the stairs.”

Author Notes: I don’t understand these two. It’s like they aren’t the same Sims after the ghost-resurrection thing. Actually, they ‘aren’t’ the same Sims, but still, their hot-headedness and stubbornness is hurting their relationship. Everyone processes trauma differently, and I feel like this fact is no different in my Sims’ games. I really do feel Joseph and Lizzie experienced a trauma with the vampire control, death, loss of their baby, and resurrection of Lizzie.

Joseph and Lizzie are still recovering, and I think Lizzie is still grieving, plus I worried Joseph would die from embarrassment when he finally confessed he lost his job. Now they’re back to distant and cold again… or hot… depending on how you view the situation. They’ve been arguing regularly in my game lately. Are these newlyweds going to weather the storm? It’s an ISBI. Anything can happen! Good gravy! These two are jerking my chain around. 

FYI, Karleen is getting closer to her due date. Any guesses on who the baby daddy is? Goober? John? Munter? Thanks for reading everyone. While this chapter did not feature everyone visually, 😦 because my game glitched and my photos didn’t save, it did still mention other Sims – rockannies Annie Rock, simscognito‘s Riley, Karleen, Akira, and of course, LegacySims2017‘s Joseph. 

City Goal #16: Tell the Truth (LASL)

You grow up hearing “tell the truth.” Truth is often hard. Truth often means swallowing pride, and admitting fault or wrong. Truth is supposed to be freeing,  but sometimes it feels condemning. It’s not like Karleen wanted to keep secrets from Munter, or to lie to him,  but she was afraid. For the first time in her life, she was genuinely scared of losing a guy who meant a damn to her.

Goober was a mistake.

John was fun.

Munter was…
Munter meets Karleen

…plum! Here he comes. Karleen tried to compose herself, but she was on the verge of falling apart. Her lower lip wobbled. I can… do this. She wished she had dressed nicer. Arriving from the gym probably hadn’t been the smartest idea. She hadn’t showered yet, though Munter appeared to be in his workout attire too. What a pair we make! she thought miserably. Munter kisses Karleen

“Hey love,” he said.

Karleen turned her head as he kissed her cheek so he couldn’t see the tears welling in her eyes. This was among one of the hardest things she had ever done. Why am I such a terrible person? Munter had been nothing but sweet and good to her, and she treated him, and everyone else like llama crap. She took a deep breath. You did what?

“You did what?”

She wasn’t sure what was worse – his accusatory finger pointed sharply in her direction, the sound of shock in his tone, or the crushed look on his face.

“I’m sorry,” Karleen cried. “I’m an idiot.”

He hunched his shoulders and dropped his head. “I knew about John,” he whispered. “But I thought you hadn’t been with him in a long time… and it was before we were exclusive… or so I thought.”

“Yes, yes, I haven’t seen John or slept with him in over a month,” Karleen said, realizing the words sounded way more reassuring in her head.

“But Goober? My neighbor?” Munter exclaimed, locking eyes with her own.

There wasn’t any ire or malice. Just profound sadness. Karleen didn’t think it was possible to feel any worse.

“Did you love… him?” his face twisted. “Them?”

“No,” her voice cracked. “No, I cared about John, but…” she raised her arms in abject defeat. “Goober was a mistake. A stupid mistake.”

“Do they know?” he continued. “About the baby?”

Munter tells Karleen he needs time

Her head dipped, a sudden wooziness overcoming her brain. “Uh?” she fumbled.

“Here,” he gently grabbed her arms, steadying her weight.

The dam broke, and Karleen began sobbing. She couldn’t formulate any words. She couldn’t think clearly. She could barely breathe between cries. Munter stood there, silently, stoically, holding her upright, a strange sight to anyone passing by. Yet in Uptown, many things go unnoticed. Like a certain citizen in a familiar vest and tie, a gleam of cruelty in his eye, hidden behind a concrete support thirty yards away. He heard the words, shrugged, removed his glasses to wipe the lenses, and sauntered away with Karleen and Munter none the wiser. This wasn’t his first rodeo, and his line of work certainly complicated relationships. He wasn’t looking for the settle-down-white-picket-fence-raise-the-kids-9-to-5 kind-of lifestyle. His one-night-stand with Karleen was merely that… a fling. His business was completed in San Myshuno. He would move on. Munter was more suited for the bed-and-roses-and-baby lifestyle.

Joseph and the host

Joseph balled his fists to keep calm. A dinner at the hottest new restaurant in the city seemed like the perfect surprise for his wife. Things had been all over the place with them recently and a night on the town had sounded like a great idea. Chez Llama was a fancy sit-down, fine-china kind-of place with a semi-formal attire requirement and a waiting list a mile long. Thanks to Riley’s new beau, Akira, Joseph managed to get a cancellation. Or so he thought.

“Are you certain that you had a reservation under the name Jo-zeph Simself, sir?” the maitre d‘ inquired.

“It’s Jo-seph,” he corrected. “And yes. Dinner for two under the last name Simself.”

Lizzie would be here shortly. He had encouraged her to dress up and meet him after her meeting at her publisher’s office. She would be flying to Deutchsimland next week to meet with a movie producer, and possible future business partner. He wanted to celebrate her good fortune, even though he had little of his own in terms of work lately. After he was laid off, he attended career fairs, consulted a headhunter, and created six dozen resumes, all of which had yet to make it into the hands of a hiring manager willing to give him the time of day. He still hadn’t told Lizzie yet, as she had enough things to worry about. Tonight’s dinner would cost him most of the remaining Simoleons in his personal account, but he didn’t care. His wife deserved the best.

“Akira Kibo called ahead,” Joseph sighed.

The maitre d’ eyed him incredulously. “Are you a music producer? You cannot possibly be a singer?”

Joseph straightened his tie, feeling offended. “I’m in advertising.”

“Oh an agent?”

“Sure. Whatever.”

“Akira… Akira Kibo,” the maitre d’ skimmed the guest list once more. “Why didn’t you say so in the first place?”

The hostess seated the couple in an intimate little corner, complete with a padded booth and lighted candle. They perused the menu with all sorts of dishes neither one of them had heard of before, nonetheless, they were open to trying new things. Joseph kept peeking over his menu to catch a glimpse of his wife, a vision in her scoop-neck green dress, their favorite color.

Lizzie and Joseph peruse the menu

I giggled. “What?”

“What do you mean what?” Joseph quickly averted his eyes and stared at the immaculate flooring, almost shyly.

“You’re staring at me,” I grinned.

“And why not?” he chuckled awkwardly. “You look beautiful tonight.”

I flushed, hoping he would think I was warm from the flickering candle flame.

“You’re not so bad yourself, Mr. Simself,” I smiled softly, returning my attention to the entrees.

Joseph notices the ring

“I see you found your ring,” he remarked, taking my hand.

“Yes, it was buried in a jeans pocket. I thought I told you I found it,” I said.

“It’s been missing for so long I almost sent out a search party,” Joseph quipped.

I laughed as he caressed my fingers. It felt good to be out with him for once. We hadn’t been on the closest of terms recently, and with everything that happened, I wasn’t sure I’d ever remember how charming he was, or how he made me laugh, or made me feel good.

“Let’s play a game,” I suggested.

“A game?” he arched a brow. “I wonder where the waiter is. I’d like to at least get some water.”

“Yes, a game. Two truths and a lie,” I said. “I read about it the other day. You tell someone two truths and one lie and then the other person has to guess which one is the lie.”

“Like you’re beautiful, I’m lucky, and I wonder why you picked me,” he joked.

“You’re saying I’m not beautiful?” I playfully pouted.

“No, I’m saying truth is I know why you picked me,” he grinned confidently.

“Oh?” I leaned over the table, curious about his response.

waitress arrived

“Hello,” a waitress arrived at our table. “Welcome to Chez Llama. What brought you into our restaurant?”

“We’re celebrating,” Joseph and I began in unison.

We looked at each other and laughed. I felt a sudden pressure form behind my eye, and pressed my hand to my forehead as Joseph continued.

“We’re celebrating. My wife landed a movie deal.”

“Congratulations,” the waitress smiled. “You’re E. Green aren’t you?”

“Yes,” I winced, surprised by the mounting pressure.

“Oh I’ve read your Flashpaper Fiction,” the waitress said proudly. “I loved it. You write such interesting characters.”

“Thank you,” I smiled graciously. “Excuse me? Where’s your restroom?”

“Oh,” the waitress pointed across the restaurant. “Upstairs and to the right.”

“Thank you,” I slid from the booth as my pain intensified. “Joseph, order for us, will you?”

Caelen in the restaurant It wasn’t like he meant to trigger a headache. Caelen had been meaning to check in on his patients for over a month now, but leaving the Hollow was tricky. He nearly always had to wear some sort of disguise. It wasn’t like people were jumping to see a pyre-witch-chroniker medical professional, even if he had the proper training. He heard rumors that the patient was experiencing moderate memory loss, and the other recalled too much.

It was possible he got his signals crossed and messed up the procedure. Caelen didn’t like to be wrong. He didn’t like to leave traces of imperfections. He had hoped his procedure would have sent the couple back to life as they knew it without any memory of the problems they suffered. Somehow the husband remembered more than he should, and the wife recalled less than she should. Together this was a recipe for disaster and possibly lawsuit should they ever connect all the dots.

Caelen sighed as he strutted across the restaurant floor, passing by the stage, set for a pianist and singer later this evening. The wife didn’t love music as much anymore, and was cold and distant at times. She continued to have an averse reaction to the medicine his sister had been prescribing. There was sort-of a sad irony to this situation. Lilith, his witch sister, never wanted to be a doctor, and yet she worked part-time as a homeopath at the Celestial Clinic, a known treatment facility for supernatural curses and ailments, and part-time as a street musician. On the other hand, he actually attended medical school, but because of his hybrid genes, no one would let him legally practice outside of a hollow. Lili had called him for a consult, but it wasn’t like he could just stroll up to their home and say, “Ah, remember me? I’m going to treat you now for the illicit memories you’ve regained and for the rightful memories you have not.”

Lizzie leaning back to relax “She still hasn’t come back with our water?”

I returned to the table, sliding onto the bench, surprised by the lack of attention we were receiving in a supposedly five-star restaurant.

“Are you feeling okay?” Joseph asked, his eyes searching mine worriedly.

“Oh,” I broke our gaze. “I’m fine. Just a little headache.” I brushed my hand across my forehead and smiled. “Nothing to worry about. Where were we?” I reached for his hand.

He smiled. “Two truths and a lie.”

“You were about to tell me why you think I picked you,” I probed, teasingly.

“Right. It’s because I’m tall, dark, and handsome,” he smirked.

“Ha! No, it’s because you have a good…” I felt a stabbing pain in my chest. “Whoa!” I gripped the edge of my dress. “…heart…” I finished, realizing the irony of my statement.

“Lizzie?” Joseph exclaimed.

“I’m fine,” I shook my head, realizing I wasn’t, but I didn’t want to ruin our night out or cause him alarm. I slumped against the seat to rest my head. “Just a little heartburn or something. My turn? Okay?” I swallowed before continuing. “…I think your glasses make you look sexy. I hate peas. And I used to be afraid of flying.”

“Since when do you hate peas?” he made a face.

“You’re right,” I closed my eyes with a slight smile. “I don’t. You caught the lie.”

“You like the glasses?” he remarked with a grin, leaning his forearms against the table.

“Yes, I always have,” I replied, and my eyes snapped open. “Oh, I always have… I remembered that!” I said, excitedly. “That and your shirtless jogs around the Springs.”

“You remember those?” he replied, straightening his shoulders with pride.

Joseph and Lizzie playing two truths and a lie “Too bad you don’t have a job where you can work without a shirt!” I quipped and began fanning myself. “Is it hot in here?”

Joseph frowned.

“What? It genuinely feels warm in here,” I sighed as I could almost sense my temperature rising.

“You do look flushed,” he said, awkwardly staring at his hands.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, rubbing the back of my neck.

“Nothing,” he muttered.

“It’s not nothing, really? What is it?” I tried to ignore the rising pressure in my head and the pain in my chest as I fiddled with my necklace.

“I do have a job where I can work without a shirt.”

“Since when?” I smirked.

“Since I got laid off,” he admitted, dropping his gaze shamefully.

Lizzie passes out

I wasn’t able to process what he said because of the mounting pain in my skull and a swarm of dizziness enveloping my head. My vision blurred. I could only focus on the last thing I heard, and it wasn’t good news. It was terrible news. My brain fixated on his words as I passed out. Joseph kept crying out, saying my name over and over again.


I felt betrayed. Tell the truth, my brain taunted me.


I felt angry. What a stupid game! Why did I think it was a good idea? 


I felt sad. The truth can feel so condemning, so final. Oh Joseph! You lost your job, my heart wailed. Why didn’t you tell me? 

“I’m going to get help,” his words sounded muffled, almost as if I were underwater. “It’s going to be okay,” he soothed, walking around and kneeling before me. His face, twisted with fear, was the last thing I remembered.

“Somebody! Help!”

Author Note: For the record, Lizzie genuinely fell asleep in the restaurant. I thought about going with funny, but she started acting weird when Caelen was wandering around. Their restaurant experience was pretty terrible. I just purchased Dine Out, and managed to play test it for the first time since Joseph kindly asked Lizzie on a date. 🙂 However, the service was slow, the host was rude, the waitress was flighty and distracted, and I don’t think they ever got their food because Lizzie “passed out” first.

Also, Karleen attempted to call Goober three times to chat and he rejected her calls or was never available due to work. I didn’t get a good screenshot of him in the background when she confesses to Munter, so I just had to write it in. Thanks for reading. This chapter featured Munterbacon‘s Munter Bacon, Karleen Corey, Caelen Vatore, and LegacySims2017’s Joseph Simself. FYI, while I was there, CathyTea‘s Cathy Tea came and played a fun jazz solo. You can watch her video here. Excuse the poor quality. I just did it for kicks and grins. 

Goal #15: Visit Home (LASL)

Birthdays are always a momentous occasion. My dad was celebrating his on Saturday, the best excuse to fly home for the weekend. I still considered Oasis Springs my home even though I lived in San Myshuno. It was hard to get out of the habit. I asked Joseph if he felt the same way.

“Home is where you are, Lizzie,” he replied.

I wished he could come with me, but at the last minute, his boss upped his workload. Joseph figured this was as good a time as any to ask for a raise. Since I didn’t want a perfectly good ticket to go to waste, I invited Karleen to join me.

Karleen and Liz in Oasis Springs

“How’s my little munchkin?” Eddie said, greeting me with a higher pitched voice.

I must’ve had a look of disgust on my face because Karleen joked, “Careful, Liz. Your face might freeze that way.”

“Dad, I haven’t been little… or a munchkin in a long time,” I rolled my eyes.

“You’ll always be my baby girl,” my father said, walking toward the living room. “No matter how old you are.”

meeting Holland her agent

After we got settled, I met Holland for drinks at the Rattlesnake. I hadn’t been there since I was dating Rob. The place hadn’t changed much. Take that back. It hadn’t changed at all. Same awful movie-theater-seat-red drapes much too big for the windows. Same dim lighting and cheap chairs and grey bartop. Different staff though. Not surprising. Turnover in the bartending world was pretty high actually.

Holland ordered us some pita bread and famous Rattlesnake hummus. I did miss their bar food. San Myshuno had something available twenty-four seven with something to please everyone’s culinary palette, but there was a sort-of timeless charm of a local watering hole that served favorites and closed before the wee morning hours. We sipped our Riverblossom Cranerulet Nuala wine, made from white cranberries from a river rather than a bog. Holland told me she was happy, but surprised to hear from me.

shy about her book

“Sorry,” I winced, fiddling with my stem. “I kinda dropped off the planet.”

I didn’t add quite literally. 

“I’m just glad you’re back,” Holland grinned. “Business is business but you’re my best client. I’d hate to lose you.”

“Thank you,” I said, shyly. “So you read the proposal?”

“Yes,” Holland said. “And I have lots to say.”

Holland guarantees she can seal this movie job

A party of four frat boys arrived and wanted to sit together at the bar so we slid down the end, grabbing platefuls of hummus, crackers, celery, and cheese. Holland laid out her plan for moving my bestselling novel to the big screen while maintaining creative freedom and control and giving the studio what they wanted for a reasonable price. When she wrote down the numbers, I nearly fell out of my barstool. It’d be enough to last us for years to come, and Joseph could afford to look for a better job. I was impressed at how good a job my agent had done, and realized it was high past time I give her a raise, especially with a seven-figure payout.

“I am confident that this is the deal you’ve been waiting for,” Holland assured. “I think you’ll get everything you want and more.”

“Wow,” was all I could manage to say. “Thank you for all your hard work.”

“Psh! I’ve been living for a day like this myself,” Holland waved her hands dramatically. “Of course, you’ll have to fly to Duetchsimland with me to close the deal. Are you ready for that?”

“Yeah, absolutely,” I nodded my head, swallowing hard as reality set in.

Holland shares a secret from her past

Truth was I didn’t think that through, and the doctor recommended no long-term travel, but this was too good an offer to pass up. I hesitated, my hand hovering over my abdomen. If I had still been carrying a little one, who knows if I would’ve been able to do this? Then again, if I had my little one, I probably would’ve called my agent back instead of blowing her off time and time again.

“Holland, I’m sorry about everything,” I said, guilt twinging in my gut.  “I… really didn’t mean to cut you out of my life and all. And I really appreciate everything you’ve done.”

“Lizzie, I know what it’s like,” Holland reached for my hand and squeezed it. “Hundreds of women go through what you have.”

“Oh I don’t know about that,” I shrugged, my voice going up a notch.

“I miscarried between Paris and Brooklyn,” Holland laid both hands over my stomach. “I know that emptiness feeling and how you just wish the world would go away. It’s okay. Trust me. I don’t blame you for retreating.”

I smiled sadly. If only it were that simple.

Lizzie jogs

Sunday morning after services with the family, I decided to go jogging. I missed this big open space of a state park. San Myshuno certainly had its beauty, but there was something delightful about butterflies in the lilacs and hot orange sand and prickly cacti. I counted my steps, wondering if I’d ever be able to keep up with Joseph. We chatted via Sim-ype last night and I laid out the details of Holland’s plan. He was supportive, and happy for me, but I could tell he was tired. He hated being apart. Truth was, I missed him, but I was also happy to see my family.

Lizzie receives text from Joseph

I stopped as my cell phone dinged. Plucking the device from my pocket, I smiled when I saw who the sender was.

Good morning, beautiful. ☀

Morning, handsome. 😃

Joseph can't read a book without thinking of Lizzie

Finished your latest novel. Can’t believe it took me until now to finish it. 😬

It’s okay. We’ve been busy.

I know the real reason was the separation due to my ghostliness and trying to get a handle on life first, but I didn’t need to say that in a text.

It’s great. You did a good job with the protagonist. 👍

Thanks. I’ve been following your ad campaign. Saw a commercial this morning.

That was Brad’s. Boss pulled me off the campaign.

Joseph, I’m so sorry. 🙁

Meh. It is what it is. Is it Wednesday yet? I want you home. 😘

I could hear my girlfriends laughing in the distance. Teresa was complaining about an ache in her stomach, and Karleen teased her that they only went a quarter-mile to catch up to me. I smiled. It would be nice to hang with the ladies today, even if I missed my man.

Miss you. Girls are here. Ttyl. 💓

Joseph is bored
Joseph didn’t write ‘miss you more.’ He felt guilty for wanting his wife to be at home while he continued recovering from his neck injury. She had an incredible opportunity and he wanted to be fully supportive. He definitely didn’t want to tell her he lost his job. He was let go. It had been a long time coming, and now with his absence from work due to the car accident, his boss made the easy choice in terminating him. All this talk about a busier weekend was bull. He walked in yesterday morning and received his immediate notice of termination. Not much better than being fired. Lizzie was moving up in the world, and he was woefully lagging behind. Joseph grunted as he looked around at the apartment. He should go for a run. It would help him clear his head. After feeding the cat. Now where was Dulcie?  

Karleen outs Lizzie's reason for being in Oasis Springs

“Liz, you’ll outpace us all,” Siri complained, twisting her pink hair into a messy bun.

“I’ve been running a little more regularly,” I shrugged. “It’s nice and peaceful out here today. Nothing like the car horns in the city.”

“We’re so glad you came for a visit,” Ameera said, stretching her arms.

“Yeah, but what’s the real reason you’re here?” Teresa asked.

“Teresa,” Ameera shook her head.

“What? I can’t just want to see all of you?” I rubbed the back of my sweaty neck. “And my dad? It’s my dad’s birthday tomorrow.”

“She’s here to meet with her agent about a movie deal!” Karleen said, exuberantly.

“Karleen!” I sighed.

I wasn’t ready to tell the world I might be making a movie. I hadn’t even signed the papers yet or met with the producers.

“What?” Karleen replied. “I didn’t know it was a secret.”

“I knew it!” Teresa clapped her hands. “I saw you with your agent last night going into the bar.”

“You were spying, you little brat!” Siri teased, pulling on Teresa’s hair lightly.

“Ow!” Teresa grimaced. “Anyhoo… I figured you would only come here if it was something big.”

“A movie,” Ameera swooned. “How exciting!”

“Yeah yeah, it’s not set in stone yet,” I dismissed. “Let’s keep working out, ladies.”

Lizzie sit ups

Karleen shared her pregnancy woes and her desires to be a single mom.

Teresa confessed that she told Steve she liked him and he took her out for cheese pizza. He was polite. Opened her door. Got her chair. Carried her purse. And brought her a daisy.

Ameera gushed about her boyfriend, Raj, and how he was improving his cooking. She showed all the ladies pictures of his latest culinary feats.

Siri explained how she was working on a new piece of art. Nude. Because she was trying to master human anatomy. Karleen laughed. Teresa blushed. Ameera pointed out how inappropriate the topic was. Siri disagreed.

“She’s gotta learn sometime,” she shrugged. “We’ve all got parts. The human body is pretty spectacular when you come to think about it.”

“Come on, ladies,” I grunted, into my fortieth sit-up. “We came here to work-out.”

Ameera amazed by Karleen's hair

“How do you keep your hair so shiny?” Ameera admired Karleen’s, snapping a photograph.

“Pregnancy,” Karleen answered.

Everyone laughed. I narrowed my eyes. Maybe I shouldn’t have told them where I was going. No one seemed to want to join me. Joseph and Riley were rubbing off on me.

Siri refuses hot dogs

We managed to jog a little further before taking a break again. It was the middle of the day so the heat was getting to some of us. Ameera grilled some hot dogs in the picnic section of the park so we could enjoy lunch before popping off to the restrooms.

“How do you get love to last?” Teresa asked me, bluntly.

“Um… uh…” I fumbled.

Joseph and I hadn’t quite made it to a year yet, and we stumbled a lot. I was growing to love him more, but the starting over part was hard.

“Why do you ask?” I inquired.

Teresa twisted her hair. “My parents… they aren’t sure I should date until I’m older.”

“They’re smart,” I remarked. “There’s no reason to rush. You’re young.”

“They’re idiots,” Siri protested. “Girls should date at any age they feel they’re ready. I mean, boys are allowed to date at younger ages. Why shouldn’t our sex be allowed the same opportunity?”

I frowned. “It’s different in every family… Teresa…” I continued. “You and Steve are young and you have time. You don’t necessarily need to think about love now.”

“But you and Joseph are so romantic,” Teresa swooned. “And Ameera and Raj. I want a guy who cooks for me, and takes me on nice dates and kisses me on the mouth.”

“Amen, sista!” Siri pumped her fist in the air.

“Siri,” I sighed. “Not helping. Have a hot dog.”

“I’m not eating red meat,” Siri declared.

Siri eats hot dogs

Five minutes later, Siri was on her second hot dog. I explained to Teresa that true love was more than just cooking and date nights and kisses, though those were important too. True love was being patient with your spouse, and kindly taking care of them when they were sick, and working through the difficult stuff.

“So sticking together no matter what?” Teresa summarized.

“Yeah, essentially,” I affirmed. “Joseph and I have been through a lot of struggles, but we keep working through them and we don’t give up on each other. That’s a big commitment for two freshmen in high school. A lot can happen in four years.”

“Yeah, but people marry their high school sweethearts all the time,” Teresa gushed. “Steve is just so cute. And funny. And he makes me feel good.”

“Okay,” I smiled giving her a side-squeeze. “Enjoy your time with him.”

“Has anyone seen Karleen?” Ameera interrupted.

As if on cue, we heard retching in the bushes.

“Aw… Karleen…” I said.

Chatting with Nora

After the party on Monday, Nora and I wandered out to the bench overlooking the golf course and pond to chat. Nora wanted to apologize for her insensitivity to me last fall and winter. I told her not to worry about it, but she insisted, and I accepted her apology. She shared how she had some big news, but she wasn’t sure our parents would approve.

Ali stops by

Before she had the opportunity to tell me, Ali joined us on the park bench.

“What are you girls up to?” she said in her usual cheery voice.

“Not much, just catching up,” I replied.

“You’re never going to guess!” Ali exclaimed. “Okay… wait guess! Okay, don’t guess… Leon asked me to move in with him.”

“Leon, really? Wow!” I replied.

They had only been dating a short time, but she seemed happy.

“Yeah, he had an opening in his apartment for a roommate,” Ali explained. “A girl named Courtney Neon roomed with them…”

Ali chattered away about how cool Leon was and how awesome it would be to live with him and his roomie, Lewis, and how she finally had the opportunity to move into the city. But I froze, feeling an icy cold blast through my veins. I narrowed my eyes. Who is Courtney Neon and why is that name familiar? 

Ameera announces she's engaged

“You guys!” Ameera interrupted. “I have news.”

“Get in line,” Nora teased.

“Really? I have to wait,” Ameera pouted.

Honestly, I didn’t hear much of what they were saying. My brain was still fixated on a vision of neon and purple and a forbidden kiss. My stomach was all in knots and I was sure I never met the woman, but somehow knew her.

“Liz! Are you listening?” Ameera exclaimed.

“Simterra to Lizzie,” Ali hooted.

Nora nudged me. “Are you okay?”

“I’m engaged!” Ameera blurted out.

engagement excitement

“What?” Ali threw her hands in the air. “Mazel Tov!”

“That’s wonderful,” I managed.

“Thanks. Raj proposed last night and showed me this little house he’s renting for us in a quiet little section of the desert, just outside town.”

“Wow, how cool!” Nora smirked. “I remember when Julian and I moved in together.”

Somehow I felt left out. Even though I was already married. Even though Joseph and I were happy enough. All these announcements made me feel a little off-balance.

Nora shows video

“I’ve got big news too…” Nora giggled, pulling out her phone and showing Ali a picture. “Do you know what that is?”

Ameera squinted her eyes to see from where she was standing. Again, I felt left out.

“What is it, Nora?” I said, trying to mask my annoyance.

“An ultrasound,” Nora said, smugly. “I’m expecting.”

“Holy heavens!” Ali exclaimed. “Buena suerte!”

“What are you studying languages now?” I said, impatiently.

Ali shrugged. “It’s just… fun…Nora, congrats!”

hugging NoraA baby! I felt my heart sink as I congratulated my kid sister. I genuinely wanted to feel happy for her, but Lee was pregnant and Karleen was pregnant, and I was… not. Strangely, I felt dead inside. Not angry. Not sad. Not frustrated. Numb. At a loss for words. Tears pricked my eyes and I quickly pulled Nora into an embrace.

Home is where you are, Lizzie. Joseph’s voice echoed in my head and I suddenly ached to be in his arms. I said my goodbyes to the girls, walked back to the house, grabbed my bags, and asked Karleen if she minded if we caught an earlier flight. Her feet were up on the sofa and she was leafing through a magazine with an inane cartoon muted in the background.

“Sure,” she shrugged. “I’m kinda missing my bed.”

“No kidding,” I said, soberly, thinking of Joseph.

Annie tries with the trash

While Karleen and I were in the airspace somewhere above the Nation, Annie was fighting with the garbage chute in the hallway. Flies buzzed about, and she waved at them, aggravated. There was a visible green cloud of something when she managed to get it partially closed.

“Lovely!” she spit, annoyed by the foul taste and stench.

She walked around the hallway, knocking on doors to see if someone could come assist. Riley and Akira were in Uptown for the night. Probably snuggling beneath stars, Annie thought, feeling lonely. Geeta, the landlady, was out for a shift as the Love Guru. She has yet to predict good things for my love life, Annie sighed. She knocked on the Green-Simself apartment door. After a minute, Joseph answered.

“Hey, do you think you could help me?” Annie pointed across the hallway. “With the trash?”

Joseph tries

“You… will… close…” Joseph grunted, forcing the jammed trash chute door with his shoulder.

Immediately, he felt the tension and pain shoot through his body. He rubbed his neck. That was dumb. Annie had stayed to help for a minute, but then she received a phone call. It must’ve been good because she shouted for joy and apologized to him, saying she finally had plans for the night.

“Hot date?” he smirked.

“Something like that,” she grinned, and ran off to her apartment with girlish glee.

He was happy for her. But her joy just made him miss Lizzie even more. She wouldn’t be home until Wednesday. She hadn’t been responding to his texts for the last three hours. He tried not to panic. She was probably in a meeting. He pivoted, returning to the apartment, planning to nab a shower, ice his shoulder, and order in a pizza. He walked in, the door staying open, but he was too lazy to go back and shut it. The elevator bell dinged.

Joseph is super happy Lizzie is home

“Joseph!” a familiar voice exclaimed.

I dropped my bags and ran to him, throwing my arms around him.

“Elizabeth! You’re home?” he said, surprised, his eyes lighting up. “You’re home…” he repeated, closing his eyes and sighing into my shoulder.

“I missed you,” I whispered. “And you stink.”

“I was going to shower,” he replied with a low chuckle. “And I missed you too. It was so boring around here without you.”

“You’re going to shower?” I said, coyly, removing my hat and reaching for my skirt zipper. “I’ll join you.”

“Oh really?” he said with the biggest, toothiest grin on his face.

He didn’t even care that he was still recovering from his injury. Joseph picked me up and carried me into the bathroom.

Author Notes: Thanks for reading, everyone. This chapter featured LegacySims2017’s JosephMINEZ‘ Ameera and Siri, skcaga6‘s Teresa, Rockannie’s Annie, friendsfan367‘s Ali,  and pammiechick‘s Holland. 

Goal #14: Learn to Cope, Pt. 2 (LASL)

When it rains, it pours. At least that’s what my dad says. I suppose it depends on your perspective regarding rain. Is rain a blessing? Therefore, ‘if it rains, it pours‘ means good things come all at once. Typically, this isn’t the most widely accepted meaning behind this phrase. The reverse is most often true. When it rains, it pours can also mean bad things happen all at once too.

Joseph and I hadn’t exactly been experiencing the best of luck lately. We endured a season of hardship – vampiric sorcery is the best way Joseph could explain the problem that snowballed into other problems. Then my days stuck in transition – in the ‘in-between,’ and then the return from beyond, beginning the long recovery process. My doctor was confident that Joseph and I would be successful in the long run because we were in this together. Even so, there were days that I doubted I’d ever feel the same ever again.

rainy car accident

The Deutchsims have a phrase – Man muss die Dinge nehmen, wie sie kommen. I remember my mom saying this phrase to my sisters and I when we wondered about bad things happening. Things don’t always turn out the way you plan. Essentially, we must take things the way they come. Every day that I woke up and rose from the bed was a day that I lived. I tried. I could at least say I tried. Perhaps our life wasn’t the easiest. Our appliances and fixtures were outdated. Joseph disliked his job, and was faced with a pay cut. I lost many of my memories. I couldn’t carry the child to term. I sometimes missed steps -lacking sufficient knowledge about how to do things, so I was starting over and learning again. But we had many blessings too. I was trying to count my blessings and focus on the positive. It made life a little more bearable.

Of course, we never knew what the day was going to give us. Sometimes it really did feel like the rain was pouring a little more heavily in our little corner of the world. It was spring in the city after all. Rain showers were inevitable. One particularly early rainy morning, Joseph kissed me goodbye, grabbed his briefcase, and headed downstairs to his car. He had parked on the street because garage parking prices had skyrocketed, and taking the subway wasn’t always convenient. All it takes is a sleepy yawn, an adjustment of the mirror, a slip of a foot, and suddenly your front bumper hits the back end of the truck in front of you.

Lizzie calling about insurance and Joseph eating breakfastOur insurance rates would definitely go up, and Joseph had a neck injury and a cracked rib as a result so tally in the unexpected medical bill. We were still paying for my treatments, and those weren’t cheap. He was so grumpy that he chose to stay home from work. That didn’t help our financial situation, but I wanted my husband to feel better. I sliced some oranges, washed some berries, and fried some Championne toast on the stovetop. Joseph came home from the doctor, took a long hot shower, and eased into a dining chair. I tried not to notice the peeling paint on our cabinets or the whining noise of our heater or think about the light bulb that burnt out again. Instead I tried to smile and make my husband as comfortable as possible.

“Thanks for calling, Riley,” I said, as I walked to the sink to fill a cup of water.

What’s going on? I heard about the accident. Do you need anything?

“No,” I said, trying to sound chipper. “We’re okay for now. Just taking it easy.”

Joseph grunted.

I wondered if you’ve heard from Karleen.” 

Joseph complains about neck painTruth was, I hadn’t heard from Karleen, ever since she told me she tried to call Goober three times and he never answered. And then she attempted to tell John what really happened, and he was understandably upset, especially because he hoped for another chance with her, and then her kid may not be his. It was a lot for a guy to take in. I wasn’t sure if she had told Munter yet.

“No, I was thinking one of us should check up on her,” I replied.

I’ll stop by today,” Riley offered. “And seriously, let me know if you need anything. Akira can bring by stuff too.”

“I think someone should check up on my neck,” Joseph groaned, rubbing the base of his skull.

“I’m coming,” I said, sighing lightly. “Bye Riley.”

“At least he’s calling before coming,” Joseph grumbled.

“He’s not coming over,” I corrected, placing my hands on his shoulders and massaging gently. “He called to see if you’re okay.”

“Oh,” Joseph muttered, rolling his shoulders. “My neck, Liz. It hurts in my neck.”

“I know,” I sighed. “It will for a few days. Eat your breakfast. You’ll feel better.”

kARLEEN FIXING EGGSKar sitting on her bed eatingSince Ash still hadn’t returned from her vacation, Karleen had to resort to easy-to-make foods. Scrambled eggs should have been a piece of cake, but she forgot to use spray so her breakfast stuck to the frying pan. Karleen sighed. She was going to be a mom. She needed to be able to cook. She’d even signed up to take cooking classes at the community center in Myshuno Meadows. After all, she didn’t want to burn down the apartment every time she attempted to make a meal. Today she was fairly proud of herself. The scrambled eggs were a little crispy on the bottom and the bacon may have been slightly burnt, but she was making great improvements. Still, as she sank onto the edge of her bed, Karleen couldn’t help but feel terrible, and not because of the pregnancy.

I miss Munter. 

She didn’t want to admit it, but the reason she hadn’t called him yet was because she was most afraid of his reaction. He was the only one of her three partners she had yet to tell anything about the pregnancy, and she couldn’t even call him. He had shown up at the apartment once, knocked on the door a few times, left a half dozen messages, but she hadn’t answered or returned a single call. She didn’t want to lose him, so it was better to lose him on her terms, or so she thought. Maybe that’s stupid. A tear plunked onto her plate.

The doorbell rang. Karleen rolled her eyes, setting her plate on the glass nightstand atop a celebrity magazine. It better not be him, she winced. She couldn’t face him… yet… or maybe ever. She slipped across the floor in her stocking feet and peeked through the peephole. It was Riley. More accurately… it was Riley’s eye and his voice calling, “Karleen don’t you dare not let me in.”

Sighing, she unlatched the chain and unlocked the door.

“What do you want?” she asked tiredly, leaning against the frame.

“Wow, Karleen, you look great this morning,” Riley replied, and she couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic. “Red is a good choice…” he grinned, pointing to himself. “…and look we match.”

She frowned, thinking about Goober’s comments about her red attire. Maybe she needed a new signature color. Karleen waved her hand nonchalantly at Riley.

“Come in if you want… I’m just going to go hide out in the bathroom for awhile…”

Riley giving Kar a pep talk Riley pushed past her into the bathroom, stopping and turning at the towel bar, and walking Karleen back a step or two.

“Oh no you don’t!”

“Then… at least let me hide in bed… seriously, Riles, you can use our cable if you want.”

“I came to see you. And you need me. Plus your TV is better.”

“Than the one in the living room?”

He had a point there. The tube in the main room was outdated, but it was Ash’s. She liked old-school technology.

“Fine, but we can never agree on a television program,” she narrowed her eyes.

“Today is ladies’ choice,” Riley offered.

Karleen thought for a minute. “Okay… go find Specific Hospital. It’s usually on by now.”

“You’re coming?” Riley looked enthusiastic.

“Yes, yes,” she waved her hands. “But first… preggo lady has to pee. Shoo!”

Riley talking with Karleen

“You’re pretty clean for a grieving lady,” Riley remarked.

“Shut up…” Karleen shoved his shoulder in annoyance. “And I’m not grieving.”

“Okay, grieving is a bad word,” Riley replied. “Aching. Lamenting. Enduring…”

“Gawd, Riles!” Karleen rolled her eyes. “Did you come here with the express purpose to make me feel bad?”

“Coping,” Riley lifted a finger in the air in an ‘aha’ moment. “That’s the word I was looking for.”

“Yeah, not all grieving ladies…” Karleen began with narrowed eyes. “…cope in pigsties.”

Riley shrugged. “Touche.”

Riley watching tv with Karleen

“So Specific Hospital?” he grabbed the remote and turned on the television. “Who do you think kicks the bucket today?”

“Definitely Miss Coquette,” Karleen nodded. “She’s been in a coma for almost two years.”

“No way! Last week’s episode was the one with Sol Plexus,” Riley disagreed. “He had a heart attack after catching his wife cheating with the gardener. It’s always the gardener.”

Karleen straightened, feeling uncomfortable as she realized Sol was John’s favorite soap opera character. If Mister Plexus died, John would certainly be depressed. And the topic made her feel squeamish. I’m just as bad as a soap opera star, or worse… she rubbed her forehead.

“How can I be a mom if I’m no good?” she bemoaned.

“What?” Riley whipped his head around. “Karleen. You are not a bad person.”

“But I made bad choices,” she cried.

“Everyone does,” Riley said. “Motherhood is going to be good for you. It’ll be hard, but it’ll be good. You’ve already started working more hours and taking cooking classes and bettering yourself.”

“Yeah, but can I better the life of a kid?” Karleen sighed.

“Tell ya what,” Riley clicked off the television set. “You just need practice. I’ll call up a friend of mine with a kid and we can go babysit together.”

“Oh I don’t know,” Karleen threw her hands up in the air. “If you think it’ll help.”

“I do,” Riley winked at Karleen.

Karleen feels ill

Forty-eight hours later, Riley took Karleen to meet Pablo Martinez. He and his wife had a foster daughter, Alice.  Karleen wasn’t so sure this was a good idea, especially when she showed up feeling nauseous. They needed a babysitter at a god-awful hour. Who wakes up at four a.m.? Apparently Mister Martinez was a firefighter in training and Missus Martinez was an attorney. They actually lived in Lizzie’s neighborhood in an adjacent building, which made it Riley’s neighborhood too. Karleen was just happy they didn’t live in the Fashion District near John or in Uptown near Munter.

“Come inside, you can meet Alice,” Pablo said.

“Great,” Riley said, turning when he realized Karleen wasn’t following.

Bile rose in her throat, but she swallowed it down. She couldn’t mess up this gig. She would just ignore her pregnancy symptoms. Yes, she placed a hand over her mouth. I can do this.

“You okay?” Riley asked, worriedly.

Alice and Riley and Jennifer Once inside, she barely had time to introduce herself to Jennifer and Alice before bolting to the bathroom to get sick.

“I hope she’s okay,” Jennifer said, a look of concern on her face.

“Where’d she go?” Alice inquired in a squeaky kids’ voice.

“She’s fine,” Riley chuckled weakly. “Bad eggs.”

“Help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge,” Jennifer said, standing up. “We’ve got ginger ale in there if that’ll help your friend. And hope you don’t mind the low lighting. Pablo switched us to more economic bulbs.”

“Gotcha,” Riley grinned. “We’ll be fine, Jennifer.”

Karleen asks about what they're watchingA half hour later, Karleen finally emerged from the bathroom. A twinge of guilt pinched her gut as she left Riley alone for awhile and didn’t get to say goodbye to the Martinez’s. Alice seemed to be intently watching some children’s program with pink fluffy rabbits playing piano while Riley did sit-ups on the carpet.

“Never miss a morning workout,” he grunted between crunches.

“Aren’t you hot in your sweater?” Karleen frowned, thinking it was highly impractical to workout in a full sweater and jeans.

“I’m always hot, baby,” Riley teased.

“I’m baby!” Alice asserted, pointing two thumbs at herself.

“Yes you are,” Karleen grinned abnormally, and began tickling the little girl. “Goo…chi… goo…chi… goo!”

“Stop,” Alice squirmed from her grasp. “I don’t like you.”

Karleen frowned. It was something she saw adults do to their babies on all those TV shows. Riley smirked.

“Alice is a little old for the goo…chi… phase.”


Alice and Riley

Karleen went to the bathroom again to wash her face, hoping to feel better, and to recover from her embarrassment.  Come on, girl, you got this, she said to the face in the mirror. You can be a mom. A fun mom. You just need to pull it… together… maybe try asking Alice what she wants to do. 

“She’s fun…ny…” Alice toddled around the couch and said to Riley as he returned from getting a drink of water in the kitchen.

“Karleen is a hoot!” Riley exclaimed. “She’s always fun to be around.”

“Hoot!” Alice repeated.


“Hoot hoot! The owl says hoot!”

“That’s right, Alice.”

“You hoot!” she poked him in the leg.

Riley obliged and the little girl giggled hysterically. Karleen slipped out of the bathroom silently, again, feeling guilty that she left him alone, but he seemed to be fine. She wished she had his natural charm with kids.

Riley flies “Why?” Alice asked.

“Why what?” Riley said.

“Why you… so fun?” she inquired, tilting her head to the side, her pigtails swaying.

“Can you keep a secret?” Riley asked, dropping to his knees and leaning forward earnestly.

Alice bobbed her head.

“I’m part fae,” Riley replied.

“Ooo… like a… fair…fairy!” Alice clapped her hands as Riley floated up off the ground, and Karleen rubbed her eyes.

Am I hallucinating? Is it the pre-natal vitamins? She shook her head and looked back. Both of Riley’s feet were back on the ground. Alice giggled and waddled to her bedroom with happy laughs. Karleen approached.

“You aren’t really a fairy?” she grimaced.

Riley just winked. Alice returned waving a pair of sparkling wings with glitter and straps.

“Fair…y!” she declared.

“Oh you are one too!” Riley exclaimed.

Karleen and Alice

“Where did Rile… go?” Alice asked.

“He had to go to the restroom,” Karleen explained. “Wait… do you know what that is?”

“He’s sleep…ing?”

“No… no…”

Alice toddled over and opened her bedroom door. “He’s… not… sleeping?”

“No, he’s in the bathroom,” Karleen puzzled, trying to think of the kid appropriate word. “Potty.”

“Oh,” was all Alice said.

Karleen had no idea if she was doing this right. Actually, she rarely knew if she was doing anything right.

“I know a joke,” she said. “Wanna hear it?”

Alice clapped her hands.

“Why is the tooth fairy so smart?”

Alice scrunched her face and scratched her head. “What… what… is that?”

Karleen’s eyes widened. “You don’t know the tooth fairy?”

“Oh I know this one!” Riley walked out from the bathroom.

“She has all the wisdom teeth,” Karleen finished with a grin.

Jennifer returns
“Mommy… she’s slee…puhy!”

When Jennifer returned, Karleen had conked out on the couch for a nap. Alice, on the other hand, refused to go down for a nap so Riley entertained the little girl for hours with puzzles, games, toys, pretend, fairy flying, and television programs. When Karleen awakened, Jennifer was standing over her, frowning.

“Oh!” she snapped straight up. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Jennifer smiled, picking up Alice and setting the little girl on her lap. “I recall the days when I could barely tie my shoes let alone stay awake and babysit for nine hours.”

“Right,” Karleen said, sleepily. “I…I really didn’t mean to nap.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Jennifer said. “Motherhood is new for you. You’re going to be tired and you’ll have to accept it. Riley was here,” she nodded in the direction of the kitchen where he was scrubbing the counters. “I trust Alice was fine and didn’t get into too much trouble.”

“I don’t… think so…” Karleen said. “She was fine.”

hugging Jennifer Riley thought he left his cell phone on the couch. Sitting next to Karleen, he started feeling into the cushions. Alice half-stumbled, half-ran to her mother and gave her a hug.

“Mommy… I know a… a…see…see…” she frowned, trying to process the correct word.

“A secret?” Jennifer finished.

“Yah! Mommy, guess what?”


“Rile… is a fair…ry!”

Author Notes: Thanks for reading everyone. This was a longer chapter, but a fun one, nonetheless, and lots going on. Car accidents don’t actually happen in the Sims 4, but here’s what did happen… Joseph kissed Lizzie goodbye and then I tried to get a screenshot of him going to work on the sidewalk, accidentally went to the wrong side of the building, saw the one car drive through the other one, and then Joseph returned to the apartment, complaining about his problems. He decided to take an unpaid day off work. I wrote it in the story. Riley seems to like having conversations in the bathroom if anyone has noticed. Lol. I followed him and Karleen around for half a day and they went to visit the Martinez family. And then the floating business… why not make Riley a fairy character. The fae exist in my Sims 3 stories. Why not in TS4? This chapter featured LegacySims2017’s Joseph and simscognito‘s Riley Cognito. 

Goal #14 Learn to Cope, Pt. 1 (LASL)

I couldn’t believe I was sick again. I hated how nauseated the pills made me feel.  How they disrupted taste. How they disturbed my balance.
Lizzie throwing up

The more I threw up,  the more I wanted to quit. Maybe the cocktail of antidepressants for mood stabilization and memory drugs for cognitive problems and the ACE inhibitors for hypertension didn’t agree with me.  I had a history of drug resistance.  Maybe it would be more beneficial to stop everything and see what happened.  I wanted to feel normal again.
Joseph cleans the bathtub

Joseph assured me that normal was overrated.  He accepted me and all my quirks. I sighed.  He also liked happy Lizzie,  and I was confused and frustrated easily. Nevertheless,  my husband seemed to put up with my irritability,  sleeplessness, and mood swings like a saint.  I appreciated everything he did for me,  and without complaining too. He even scrubbed the tub for the tenth time after I got sick in it.  My delirious late night bathroom trips disrupted my sense of direction.

I tried to keep busy.  I reviewed notes from my former novels,  brainstorming new ideas.  I watched educational television programs to boost my cognitive abilities.  I read all my friend’s published books,  and reviewed unpublished manuscripts for Riley. Joseph and I started running together , though I could only manage a mile before growing fatigued. Joseph still maintained five, though he kindly slowed down for my feeble pace.  I taught myself more advanced recipes so I could boost my culinary skills. I even took up baking.

“I’ll have to run six tomorrow to make up for this,” Joseph teased as he grabbed a third breadstick.

“Shush,” I tapped his arm playfully.  “I’m just grateful to keep food down at all.”

Joseph sobered and kissed my head.  “Thanks for dinner,  beautiful.”sneaking to Karleen's

Since Karleen discovered she was pregnant,  she had received anonymous help from our group of friends.  Riley and Akira brought dinners on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Annie had Fridays before karaoke, and the Carters, the nice neighbors they are, took Wednesdays. I took up Sunday and Monday nights while Ash was on vacation in the Sim Union.  Most nights, I stocked the box with a hot meal and basic toiletries. Karleen had been working extra hours at the bar to pay for prenatal care and didn’t have much time to shop or eat,  and God forbid cook. Sometimes I’d sneak in dessert and a chick flick.

“I’m not an invalid, you know.”

I winced as Karleen caught me in the hallway trying to sneak away.

“And I’m not broke either,” Karleen huffed.

“We’re just trying to help since you decided to go the single mom route,” I replied.

I still wasn’t convinced this was her best option.  As far as I knew,  she still hadn’t told Munter or John or Goober,  and instead kept a low profile and worked longer hours.  It was none of my business,  but I wanted my friend to be happy and healthy, and she may have been the latter but not the former. Lizzie tries to justify why she's there

“You’re patronizing me,” Karleen sighed.

“That’s not our intention,” I protested.  “Kar, we care about you… and…” I trailed off.

“And what?”

“You’re a terrible cook.”

Karleen narrowed her eyes. “Please…argh!” she pinched the bridge of her nose. “You’re right. I am…” she dropped her arms to her side in defeat. “Liz, I’m going to get fat. With all those goodies you’re giving me.”

“You’re going to get fat irregardless,” I shook my head, trying to hide my smirk. “You’re preggo.”

“No one will want me,” Karleen wailed.

“That’s not true,” I disagreed, and resisted the urge to lecture her on calling Munter… John… anyone…she didn’t have to do this alone, though I suppose between Riley and I, we’d make sure she was okay. “And I used low sodium broth for the soup so you’d feel less bloated.”

“Thank you,” Karleen sniffled into the back of her hand.

“I would’ve added more garlic too but lately it’s been making me nauseous,” I said, wrinkling my nose at the mere thought of the scent.

“Garlic makes you nauseous?” Karleen scoffed. “Since when?”

I shrugged my shoulders. Karleen’s eyes widened.

“No? You don’t think? You can’t be? You are!” she exclaimed and reached out her arms to hug me.

“Are what?” I blinked, stepping back. “Am what?”

“Pregnant!” Karleen said, balling her hands excitedly and leaning in as if it were a secret. “Oh Lizzie! I’m so happy for you.”

“Happy for me?” I frowned. “No I’m not!”

“Have you been active since…”

Karleen suspects Lizzie

“Gawd! How is any of that your business?” I spun away, almost disgusted at the thought.

“Well, have you?” Karleen grinned. “You have.”

“I am married,” I justified. “Oh…” I laid a hand across my abdomen. “Pregnant? I can’t be. The doctor said it’s too soon to think about it.”

“But you have been?” Karleen quirked a brow knowingly. “And you were getting busy…” she nudged me and I screeched, “Ow!”

“Oh we’re going to be mamas at the same time,” Karleen said. “This makes everything better.” Lizzie celebrates

I left as quickly as I could. I didn’t want to think about it. I had just lost a baby less than a month before. Joseph and I were still getting to know each other again. We were in a new honeymoon phase. It was too early.

But what if I am? I thought, allowing myself to feel a moment of fleeting wonder. Having a baby could turn out to be therapeutic. Maybe this would strengthen the bond between Joseph and I. Perhaps things could get even better. We did want a baby before, and now? I called my doctor and scheduled an appointment.

A baby! I found myself feeling overjoyed and peaceful. Karleen was right. This might actually be a blessing. I managed to contain myself long enough to purchase a celebratory cupcake. As I thought about the blood work and the pregnancy tests, I found myself growing even more excited. I went back to the vendor.

“Actually, I’ll take two.”
Joseph crunching numbers

Joseph was thrilled to hear I might be pregnant, but I could tell he was worried. After this last time, he didn’t want to take any chances. He carried me into the bedroom and made me promise not to get up and he would bring me everything I needed.

“Joseph…” I laughed, and grabbed his wrist gently. “I’m not an invalid. I can still walk and stuff.”

“Maybe I like carrying you,” he grimaced.

I laid my hand against his cheek. “Relax. It’s going to be fine.”

While I napped, Joseph crunched numbers on the couch.

It was nearly one in the morning.

“Joseph, are you coming to bed?” I called from the doorway, yawning and stretching.

“Go back to bed, Lizzie,” Joseph shrieked, leaping from the couch.

“I’m fine,” I shook my head, yawning. “You worry too much.”

“I don’t want anything to happen to you… to our baby…” Joseph said soberly.

“Joseph?” I walked up to him and kissed him. “…Joe…We’re going to be fine… all of us.” what gives

At three in the morning, Joseph went over to pound on Riley’s door. Riley emerged after fifteen minutes of knocking, fully clothed and looking annoyed.

“What?” he exclaimed.

“Riley, you gotta keep it down! Lizzie and I can hear you through the walls,” Joseph said.

“We’re having fun,” Riley pouted.

“Well it sounds like elephants,” Joseph grunted.

“Are you calling me fat?” Riley snipped, waving his arms.

“No… gawd! No!” Joseph replied. “Just please… can you and Akira keep the noise level down? Lizzie needs her rest.”

“It’s not like we haven’t heard you two through the walls before,” Riley crossed his arms.

Joseph flushed and stalked off to our apartment.

Riley turned in a huff and before fully reentering his apartment, he added, “‘Sides, epic pillow fights are the best!”

Joseph narrowed his eyes as Riley giggled and slammed the door.

“Epic pillow fights, huh?” I quirked a brow as I poked my head out, clutching my own pillow. “Hmm…” I whacked Joseph lightly as he walked by and his eyes widened in surprise. “Maybe there’s something to these?”

He grinned. “You’re just asking to be thrown over my shoulder, Liz.”

“And what if I am?” I teased, coyly, tucking one foot behind the other.

Joseph does research

Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep. Joseph woke up early and drove me to my doctor’s appointment. Because the tests would take a few hours due to my unique condition, he headed home to shower and instead, got distracted by my computer, perusing forums to find information about pregnancy post ghosting. He didn’t find much, except for an eccentric healer in Simshua who claimed her herbs were the way to go. Joseph wasn’t so sure about that and shut down the computer, deciding to clear his head in the shower.

When my test results came back, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Shocked. And devastated. The tests showed I wasn’t pregnant. I was merely experiencing an adverse reaction to the medication. The doctor recommended taking me down a dosage. I didn’t know how I was going to tell Joseph. He had been so excited for me. For us. For this baby… but it wasn’t meant to be.

My doctor began talking to me about taking it slow, nice and easy, that I shouldn’t wear myself out, that I should continue on my low-sodium diet, that I shouldn’t view this as a setback. She recommended counseling, and said it could help with my moods and balance my life more naturally through less pharmaceuticals so that I wouldn’t have such horrid nausea. To be honest, I tuned out. I was feeling more depressed than I had in a long while.

sleeping at Karleen's

“What are you doing here?” Karleen asked when I showed up at her door.

I sighed, slumping my shoulders and walked over and collapsed on the couch. Tears swelled in my eyes.

“Oh…” Karleen said, sinking into the chair. “I’m sorry, Lizzie.”

“Yeah,” I managed.

“Does Joseph know?”

“Not yet. I’m not ready.”


“Can I just nap here for a bit?”

“Sure, you look exhausted,” Karleen nodded. “Want a pillow?”

“No… no pillows,” I yawned and drifted off into a restless sleep. I was exhausted.

Joseph joins Lizzie

My disappointment stretched on for days. I cried often, and I struggled to let Joseph in. He panicked, worried I was shutting him out again and that we’d repeat our disaster that led me to ghosting.  I promised him I was fine. I stayed in bed for most of the day and into the evening. Sleep came in bits and pieces, and the dreams were the worst. Dreams of being a horrible person. A horrible mother. I couldn’t carry a child to term. It wasn’t my fault, I knew, but somehow I still felt guilty.

“You have nothing to feel guilty about,” Joseph said, climbing into the bed next to me.

“How…how…how… do you know?” I hiccupped.

“Lizzie, I know you. You’re feeling like this is all your fault, but it’s not. If anything, it’s mine,” Joseph said softly, reaching for my shoulder.

“No… don’t start that again,” I waved my hand and tugged at the covers. “I’ve forgiven you.”

“But you haven’t forgiven yourself, have you?” he said, staring my straight in the eye. “Elizabeth?”

“No?” I whimpered.

It was more of a question than a statement.

“It’s harder to let go than I thought,” I cried.

“I’m here,” he reassured me.

I reached for his arms. “Joseph… Joe… you’re fully clothed,” I grimaced.

“Yep… shoes and all…” he grinned, as if proud of the fact, and then sighed. “You needed me.”

Lizzie can't stop crying

More than I could admit. It hurt so much how much I needed him, and I didn’t want to burden him needlessly with my silly tears. I told him I’d go bathe while he made dinner. I’m pretty sure he stayed outside the locked door and waited until I turned the shower on. I let the water pour and pour while I sat on the edge of the toilet and cried silent, disappointed, bitter tears. It wasn’t over. I was still young. I could still get pregnant. It wasn’t like I was trying. But I felt the full weight of loss. The first baby weighed heavily on my heart and I grieved like I hadn’t been able to when I was a ghost.

I thought about happy memories with Joseph. We’d make many more, I was certain, but I was beginning to wonder if a kid was one of them. Stop being so defeatist, Liz, I thought, disgusted with myself as I reached over and snagged a square or two of toilet paper to wipe my eyes and nose. I figured I probably should shut off the shower if I wasn’t actually going to use it. I needed to go talk to Joseph. To let him in. Maybe I’d feel better. Maybe he’d feel better. Oh! I stopped, staring at myself in the mirror, startled. I hadn’t been thinking about him or his needs. He had to be grieving too and I kept pushing him away. Stupid, stupid, Lizzie, I gritted my teeth and balled my fists, stepping out of the bathroom.

Joseph sets himself on fire

Fire shot at his chest. He winced, feeling the singe of heat against his arms and legs. Joseph jumped back from the flames licking at the stem of the grill and ran inside to grab the fire extinguisher. So much for burgers for dinner, he grumbled beneath his breath. He felt much like a failure lately, and this was an aggravating last straw. He had to stay strong for Lizzie. This was a fact, a promise, a pledge. He reminded himself as he sprayed foam on the flames.

When I left the bathroom, Joseph wasn’t in the kitchen or living room. He wasn’t in the office either. I patted a meowing and frightened Dulcie on the head as I walked past the kitchen table.

“Did I startle you, girl?” I said in a higher pitched tone.

Smoke drifted into the office and tickled my nose as I went looking for Joseph.

“What’s going on?” I called, worriedly.

I stepped outside to see my husband surrounded by a smoky haze, covered in ash. The grill was burnt to charcoal and our hamburger meat was the only thing red and uncooked. I couldn’t say the same for Joseph.

“Oh my llamas!” I shrieked. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he grunted.

“Oh… Joseph. You have to be more careful,” I gasped.

“I’m fine,” he repeated.

“No, no you’re not… I’m sorry…” I dropped my head. “I’ve been so wrapped up in me lately, I haven’t thought much about you. You’re trying to be so strong for me…”

Joseph blinked rapidly.

“Joseph, you’re my rock,” I continued.

“How can you say that?” he averted his eyes. “I’ve been messing up in so many…” Joseph and Lizzie kiss

Before he could say anything else, I kissed him passionately, wrapping my arms around his head and shoulders.

“I think it’s time you forgive yourself too,” I replied, pulling back without releasing him.

“I’m getting you dirty,” he sniffed, wiping his nose on his sleeve.

“I don’t care,” I shook my head. “I didn’t shower anyway.”

“You didn’t?” he raised an eyebrow.

“No…” I grinned. “Care to join me?”

broken sink

I hopped in the shower, even though the water wasn’t quite as warm. It didn’t really matter. It was soothing to the skin. Joseph followed me in, dripping little patches of ash everywhere. That didn’t matter either. He was safe and didn’t burn up and our apartment was still okay, even if our grill was toast.

“Gah!” Joseph yelled.

“What?” I peeked my head out from behind the shower door.

“That…” he glared in the direction of the sink. “…is busted.” He kicked the drawer. “Plum! This apartment is plum!”

“Oh, but we can live on love, darling,” I teased, stepping back into the water to soap my hair.

“Sure…” he grunted. “I have to go get a wrench.”

“Stop, you can fix it later,” I said, poking my head out again. “Now get in here before I bring the party to you.”

Joseph hesitated momentarily and began pulling his smoke-and-soot soaked sweater over his head and shoulders.

“That’s my man.”

Author Notes: Thanks for reading. This chapter featured LegacySims2017’s Joseph and simscognito‘s Riley Cognito.