1.4 New Neighbors (ALOW)

The doorbell rang. Jenara eagerly ran to greet her male guest, and was surprised to see a woman standing on her front yard instead.

“Uh hi,” she said, as she tripped out her front door onto what she thought was grass.

The pretty lady with the blonde bob and a super cute sundress and feminine ballet flats eyed her up and down. Jenara felt self-conscious in her red sport coat, jeans, and kicks. She rubbed her toe against the astroturf, wondering why on Simterra it came all the way to the front door instead of having a walkway like all the other houses on the block. How did she miss this before when she came in the house? Was it always like this? She couldn’t remember, and it made her feel cheap and awkward.

“Um… hello…” she said again. “Can I help you?”

“Hi, I’m Virginia,” the blonde said melliflously. “I was friends with the girl that used to live here, and she said someone who owned this house a long time ago was moving back in. I just had to see for myself who you were.”

“Um… I’m Jenara.”

“What? No way! You’re Jenara… of the Yearling family? Aren’t you like super rich or something? What are you doing here?”

Jenara flushed, feeling uncomfortable.

“Uh… I used to live here… as a kid,” she began, side-stepping the comment about her net worth. “…and I just moved back.”

There. Simple enough answer. Virginia didn’t need to know all the details.

“I might have to stay in Oasis Springs more often then now that someone interesting lives here again,” Virginia said, offering a super bright smile. “I travel a lot to get away from this heat. Frequent flyer miles, baby!”

Jenara chuckled weakly.

“Oh em gee, you gotta meet my mom and sis, Jenara,” Virginia exclaimed, reaching for Jenara’s wrist as if they were old friends. “Hold up…” she whistled for two redhaired women standing on the sidewalk nearby. “Mom! This is the house!” she waved and pointed dramatically.

“Oh!” the older redhaired woman gasped and approached, dragging the younger one behind her. “So this is the Yearling house?”

Jenara received an unexpected hug from the older woman wearing much too youthful attire. The visitor appeared to have received injections, but she could still note the tiny wrinkles around the woman’s eyes, a giveaway to her age.

“I’m Katrina Waterside,” the woman said. “And these are my daughters, Virginia… you’ve already met…and Sarah.”

“We’re twins,” Sarah piped up, bouncing her perky red waves.

“Oh…cool…” was all Jenara could think to say.

Fraternal,” Virginia grunted.

“I’m older than you,” Sarah snipped.

“By like two minutes… who the hell cares!” Virginia shrieked.

“So you’re…uh… my neighbors?” Jenara tried to steer the subject away.

The girls stopped squabbling and looked to their mother, who looked young enough to be their older sister.  Jenara surmised the “fraternal” twins were around eighteen or nineteen, and their mother was in her early thirties.

“Yeah, my ex-husband settled us here in this desert paradise. Could’ve picked a worse spot, I suppose. You’ll like it here if you like the heat. There’s not too much to do, but I like to hit the casinos,” Katrina replied.

“Mom’s really good at the craps table,” Sarah added. “She’s won a whole lot…” she covered her mouth and giggled. “I was friends with the girl who lived here. We used to sneak into the casinos and pretend we were older just so we could get juice and…”

Virginia shot her sister an icy cold stare as if warning her to shut up, but if their mother noticed, she didn’t seem to care about the girl’s admission.

“I always wondered when the Yearlings would come back to Oasis Springs,” Katrina said. “I’m so glad you’re home, honey.”

“Thanks,” Jenara shifted awkwardly, uncomfortable with the Watersides’ strange familiarity with her. “Do you know what happened to the family that lived here? My aunt said they moved out so I could move back here, but I didn’t know the details…”

“Don might know,” Katrina supposed.

“Don?” Jenara looked at her, bewildered. “Who’s that?”

The Waterside sisters giggled. “Don,” they yelled in unison toward the plaza across the street.

The beautiful man with the fruit cake and ribbon stood up from a bench on the plaza, and wandered over into their yard. Jenara felt the heat rush into her cheeks.

“Don Baxter meet Jenara Yearling,” Virginia introduced. “Don used to date the girl who lived here, but he…” she linked her delicate arm with his muscular one and giving his shoulder an affectionate pat. “…moved onto greener pastures, if you know what I mean.”

Jenara was certain her cheeks were full of red.

“Hey, whassup?” Don said, casually.

“Good thanks,” Jenara replied hurriedly, and then flushed. “Oh, is that for me?” she turned her attention to the fruitcake in his hand.

“Yeah, a welcome wagon gift,” he smiled dreamily.

“Uh….what?” she tilted her head, feeling dazed.

“A welcome wagon,” Sarah said, perkily. “You know…a welcome to the neighborhood kind-of thing…” she giggled. “What? You’ve never had one before?”

“No,” Jenara looked down at her shoes.

She made a mental note to call a landscaper tomorrow to fix her front yard. She couldn’t have astroturf without a walkway if more neighbors were to stop by.

“I’m sorry. I’m being rude. I should invite you in or I suppose we could go have cake around by the pool,” Jenara added.

“You have a pool!?!” Virginia squealed, clapped her hands like a child, and ran around the side of the house, taking full advantage of the invitation.

Katrina laughed. “Virginia was born a water baby.”

As if that makes sense… I didn’t exactly invite them to swim. 

“Sarah, on the other hand, is afraid of water, but we live in Oasis Springs, so there aren’t any large bodies of water around for miles,” Katrina continued.

The pretty redhead pouted.

“I like swimming,” Don said cheekily.

“Oh… you do?” Jenara’s eyes lit up. “I bet you look ravishing without a shirt on.”

Instantly, heat flooded her cheeks. Sarah continued frowning, and Katrina laughed, amused. Don shrugged as if not sure what to say.

“Did you…uh… bring swim trunks?” she asked. “…and suits?” she cleared her throat. “Swim suits… did you bring your swim suits, ladies? you’re all welcome to swim. I think the pool is clean.”

You think the pool is clean? Jenara did a mental face-palm.

“I’ll go find Virginia,” Katrina said, wandering around the side of the house.

“Do you like… pools?” Jenara squeaked.

“I could swim,” Don remarked.

“I haven’t gotten a chance to swim in it yet, but I’m assured the caretaker took excellent care of it. Even so I built a cleaning bot to help me out and save me time in the future. I’m technical like that and all. I mean I really enjoy building things and tearing them apart, so let me know, neighbors, if you need any help building or tearing apart things because I’m great at that,” Jenara babbled. “I’m good with my hands if you ever need a hand or something.”

What in the Creator’s name is wrong with me? You wanted a bigger hole! Jenara couldn’t have been more humiliated. It was as if her mouth was talking and her brain was somewhere else. Don just stared at her, making Jenara feel worse. Sarah gave Don a weird look and then broke into a funny laugh.

“Oh Don, she’s yapping away like a little puppy,” Sarah said, bemused. “And she’s got a dog collar around her neck so that’s even better.” She touched Don’s arm playfully. “And she offered to give you a hand… if you ever need it. How cute is that?”

“Well, that’s what good neighbors do, right? Give each other hands. I’m happy to help you with all your needs in any way I can,” Jenara continued, much too cheerily.

Oh llamas! Can you dig a deeper hole? 

“What kind of needs?” Don smirked.

“She said all…” Sarah laughed daintily. “Any and all needs, just like a faithful ole pup… Jenara, isn’t it?”

Jenara frowned.

“I’m sure my sister and I can accommodate Don in the way you’re suggesting, but if we break anything around the house that he can’t fix, I’ll be sure to send him your way. In swim trunks if you prefer,” she winked for emphasis.

Jenara’s cheeks burst with color as she realized the double entendre for the first time. Llamas! That’s why Sarah was laughing at me so much. 

“Maybe we should go,” Don said.

“Fine by me. I hate swimming, and I despise fruitcake,” Sarah flipped her hair over her shoulder. “It was nice meeting you,” she said to Jenara in a saccharine sweet tone.

“Riiight… bye…” Jenara waved as the two left her fake-out front lawn.

She didn’t even bother to go find Katrina and Virginia as she walked straight inside. She would go bury herself beneath covers now.

Author Note: This chapter is part of my brand new series, A Life of Whimsy, following Jenara Yearling, my torch bearer, for an ISBI TS4 challenge. If you want to learn more about my plans, click HERE.

In case you’re wondering about the name switch, I did this for sanity sake. While ALOW takes place in the alternate TS4 world, there is crossover to my TS3 world – Simterra, and it takes place on the same planet. I debated changing the TS4 worlds to some random Simterran country, and then decided it would just be easier to rename certain crossover characters.

Don already makes an appearance in My Life with Criminals story, and is referenced in From Riverview, With Love and The Kassiopeia Fullbright Mystery Series. In the original Sims, Don Baxter was used in the promotional materials, and he eventually married a redhead named Sarah. Sarah has a sister named Virginia. Since Katrina isn’t mentioned in TS3, I kept her name, but gave the three ladies the last name Waterside, inspired by “Waterside Dina.” This saved me hassle for the TS3 Caliente family given they have been mentioned and will make appearances in my other stories. I will continue to do this for other characters in the TS4 world. Also for now, Oasis Springs is just outside Oasis Landing from TS3 in terms of geography on Simterra. Hope you enjoyed and didn’t cringe too much at the awkwardness of poor Jenara.

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