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Chapter 2 2 Chapter 2 2 Presentation Transcript

  • Look! I updated again! And it only took – 2 months exactly? Wow, I am speeding up.
    Anyway, welcome to Chapter 2.2 of The Four Legacies. Last time generation 3 was born and stuff happened – if you want anything more specific than that then I suggest you go read the earlier chapter.
  • James Stanton glanced over his shoulder as his wife sighed, a puddle appearing at her feet and a wet patch on her jeans.
    “It’s okay, honey,” James told her with a sigh, moving to get out of the bath. “I’ll get the mop, you get cleaned up.”
    “Uh, I don’t think that’s pee, James,” Ally replied as she felt a twinge from her abdomen.
    “Don’t be ridiculous,” he scoffed. “What else could it be?”
    “I think my waters just broke.”
  • Indeed they had.
  • The labour went by surprisingly quickly. Ally was surprised – she had expected it to take longer. But before she knew it Ally was handing over a sleepy baby girl with her golden brown eyes and her black hair to James.
    “What shall we call her?” James asked, his voice barely above a whisper, taking hold of their new daughter without prompting.
    “Lorelai,” Ally replied with no hesitation in her voice. James nodded.
    “Lorelai Stanton, I like it,” he said. He glanced up at Ally. “Don’t you want to hold her for a bit longer?”
  • “Perhaps not quite now, honey.”
  • Half an hour later and Ally held another child in her arms, a boy with Ally eyes and hair like his sister. Moments after that and the little boy was named Luke.
  • The new parents carried Luke and Lorelai downstairs to the nursery, James following Ally. Halfway down the stairs James started chuckling. Ally looked back.
    “What is it?” she asked.
    “The twins,” he replied. “They’re staring at each other.”
    Ally looked at Lorelai in James’ arms, then Luke in her own. She smiled – the pair couldn’t take their eyes off each other. If they were lucky they might avoid any sibling rivalry as they grew up.
  • Ally had had a relatively easy pregnancy despite carrying twins. Her energy hadn’t been sapped, the babies had rarely pressed down on her bladder. Besides feeling much hungrier, she had hardly noticed she was pregnant most of the time.
    Erin Jacobs wasn’t so lucky. Half her day was spent eating, her appetite so big that they had to order in groceries at least once a day.
  • And the rest of Erin’s time was spent in bed, fast asleep.
  • There was perhaps an hour each day where Erin felt both well-fed and well-rested, where she felt good enough to work on the skills she needed for a promotion once she had the baby. The rest of the time she was too hungry, tired, cranky or all three to do much of anything.
  • The longer the pregnancy became the more anxious both Henry and Erin got. Neither were quite sure how much longer Erin could withstand. The only saving grace was that Erin could sleep easily even if she did need a lot of it.
    Henry didn’t have it so lucky. Ever since Erin had begun struggling with the pregnancy he hadn’t been sleeping easily. He woke at the slightest sound, convinced that it had all finally gotten too much for Erin. He was convinced that the next time he woke up he might find Grim standing over Erin’s body.
  • Henry’s heart almost stopped when Erin let out a cry in the middle of the night. He was out of bed in a flash.
    “Oh my plumbbob!” he gasped as Erin screamed. “Erin! Are you alright? Is it the baby?”
    “Of course it’s the baby, you fracking idiot!” she snarled. “I’m in labour!”
  • Her scream had attracted attention. David ran into the room fully dressed and began to panic alongside his soon. Erin ignored them and just got on with it, and before she knew it, she was holding a baby boy in his arm, with her black hair and grey eyes Erin guessed were from Henry’s mother.
    Please welcome Ambrose Jacobs.
  • “Psst, hey, Lydia? You awake? Hey, Lydia! Lydie! You awake? Lydia!”
    Lydia mumbled in her sleep and rolled over. The voice began speaking again, this time a little louder.
    “Lydia! Are you awake? Come on, Answer me, Lydie! Lydie!”
  • “I am now,” Lydia mumbled and she sat up and opening her eyes, peering blearily into the dark room. “What do you want, Rosa?”
  • “I heard screaming,” Rosa said quietly – much quieter than she had spoken when she was trying to wake Lydia up.
  • Lydia groaned. She climbed properly out of bed and began making it. This would take a while. Half way through pulling her sheets straight, Lydia looked over her shoulder at Rosa. Her sister was watching her with a face that was so similar Lydia’s own that it was like looking in a mirror. The only difference was the colour of their eyes, Lydia’s green and Rosa’s grey.
    “You were probably just dreaming,” Lydia said. Rosa shook her head.
    “Nope,” replied Rosa firmly. “I was dreaming about our old dog and the scream woke me up.”
  • “Well I didn’t hear anything,” Lydia turned to face Rosa, hands on her hips. “Maybe you were imagining it.”
  • “I was not!” Rosa crossed her arms crossly, her jaw set stubbornly. “If I was imagining it then we were all imagining that scream earlier when we got home from school!”
    “Mummy Amelia said that was Mrs Stanton having her babies, ‘member?” Lydia replied, just as crossly. She scowled for a moment before her face lit up. “Gran said Mrs Jacobs was gonna have her baby soon too! It was probably her screaming. Grandpa said she was probably gonna pop!”
  • “Really? Can people really pop?” the door was pushed open, and another sister walked into Lydia’s room. Lydia crossed her arms and huffed – what was it with her sisters and coming into her room?
    “No, Ivy,” Rosa said, still looking at Lydia. “Lydia’s being silly!”
    “It was Grandpa! He was prob’ly exaggerating! Gran says he does that some times!” Lydia said, her jaw set stubbornly. “And anyway, there wasn’t any screams! You’re probably imaging it, Rosie!”
  • “So they were fighting in here, told ya so, Vee,” the fourth and final sister, Alana, finally came into Lydia’s room, nudging the door shut behind her with her foot. “One of them probably did the screaming.”
  • “See? Vee and Alana heard it too!” Rosa smiled at the two of them in thanks. “I’m not imagining things!”
    “Fine,” Lydia rolled her eyes. She did not like admitting she was wrong, or that others were right. “So it was probably Mrs Jacobs having her baby. Mummy Ichelle said they sometimes come in the night. Now will you lot go back to bed so I can get some sleep?!”
  • “But we don’t know it was Mrs Jacobs,” Rosa pointed out, glancing nervously out the window. “Could be a killer!”
    “I’m not going back out into the hall! It’s dark!” Ivy said, shuddering dramatically.
    “My teddy bear’s shadow wants to eat my soul!” Alana said, nodding her head solemnly.
    “Urgh, fine! You can all sleep in here,” Lydia finally relented. Even she knew this was the only way she was gonna get any more sleep tonight. “But if any of you snore I’ll go find the killer and sic him on you myself!”
  • “Did you hear something?” Amelia asked Ichelle as she woke suddenly, not really knowing why.
    “Huh? Nope?” Ichelle replied, still mostly asleep.
    “Hmm,” Amelia hummed. After a moment she made up her mind. “You go back to sleep, I’m gonna go check up on the girls.”
  • Amelia got out of bed and padding out of the room and down the hall to the nearest door – Lydia’s door. She pushed it open and peeked inside, smiling when she saw all four girls had somehow managed to curl up on Lydia’s single bed. It looked cramped, but they seemed comfortable enough.
    Turning away, Amelia decided to leave them be. They were all asleep at the same time – a rarity, as she’d come to realise shortly after they were born, and getting the girls asleep again would be impossible. They’d need their energy tomorrow – Dec’s kids were growing up tomorrow and they were all invited to the party.
  • The following afternoon Kate sat on the sofa, watching the TV. Or, should I say, trying to watch the TV as Dec quizzed her constantly for all the details for a successful children’s party.
    “So the colour of the cake’s isn’t that important right? Because I order pink cakes for the girls and blue for the boys, and it should matted because they all taste the same, but what if-”
    “Dec,” Kate said in exasperation, not for the first time. “I’ve told you this a thousand times already. The details don’t matter so much. So long as people show up, nobody attacks anyone else and the kids actually grow up it’ll all be fine.”
    “Oh.”
    Kate waited a few moments, to see if Dec would start panicking again. He didn’t. Relieved, Kate settled back and allowed herself to enjoy his company.
  • Mother and son sat watching the TV for maybe an hour, chatting amicably all the time. Eventually a comfortable quiet settled over the two, and as six ‘o’ clock rolled around Dec moved to get up.
    “I’ll go make the call, get everyone over here for the party,” he said.
    “Okay,” Kate smiled sadly, a chill settling over her bones. “I’ll be waiting here.”
  • The call was made, the balloons were inflated, the extra tables were set out and the cakes were placed upon. All that was left was to bring in the kids, one by one.
  • First Eliza with Dec, then Felicity with Knut and Gavin with Kate. Harry would be grown up shortly after, by whoever was free the fastest.
    In Kate’s arms Gavin wiggled and tried to free himself.
    “Gamma! Put me down!” he said firmly.
    “Hush, Gavin,” Kate shushed him. “We’re going to get you some cake.”
    “Cake?” Gavin stopped wriggling. “Me like cake.”
  • The three children were carried into the kitchen. The adults stood in a row behind the cakes, each with a toddler in their arms.
    “All right, Eliza,” Dec said to the grinning toddler. “Time to get big!”
    “Yeah! Me big!”
  • “Hey, calm down, Flic!” Knut laughed as Felicity leaned in eagerly to blow out the candles. “You don’t need to get that close to blow them out!”
  • Unbeknownst to Dec and Knut, Kate turned away from the cake and placed Gavin on the floor without blowing out of the candles. No one was paying too much attention to them, no one noticed what she did. No one, except for one little boy.
    “Gamma, what doing?” he asked, scared, as though he had picked up on something very wrong in the air.
    “Nothing, Sweet pea,” Kate said sadly.
  • “... Grandma’s not going to be doing much of anything now.”
    Vicki lowered her noisemaker slowly. Her eyes wide, she watched on as the Grim Reaper materialised from nowhere.
    “Mum?” she whispered, unable to believe what was happening.
  • Kate Brown died aged 75, a beloved mother of six (Alice, Bayley, Cole, Declan, Edmund and Vicki), and grandmother to twenty girls and boys of various ages. She became perma-plat after her sixth grandchild and completely thrilled when she met her twentieth. All she wished was that she could have lived to see the end of her grandkid’s birthday party.
    Kate left a lot of money to 26 people. The Brown house alone got about 100K. It must have been one hell of a life insurance policy.

  • It will come as no surprise to anybody, considering what had just happened when they were taken to the cakes, that the toddlers decided to eschew the cakes at that point. Instead they gathered just into the living room...
  • ... And grow up under their own power. It was hard to tell so soon who took after who – they would need to wait until, at the very least, the crowd had cleared.
  • The girls were the first to get cleaned up, and Knut was quick to snap a picture of his two daughters. They were both very similar looking. Knut couldn’t really spot any differences between the facial features the girls had inherited. Thankfully the girls weren’t truly identical – Eliza had a darker skintone and Dec’s dark brown eyes, while Felicity was paler and had Kate’s lighter blue eyes.
    As for the boys...
  • Well, Knut had always thought it would be impossible to mix Harry and Gavin up. Even ignoring the fact that Harry was PURPLE, the two boys had different coloured hair, different coloured eyes. Admittedly they were fairly similar facially, if you ignored all that and their noses and chins.
  • It shouldn’t need to be said at this point that the party was, in the end, a disaster. Protip: try to keep everyone alive until the end of the party. Otherwise it’s going to be a disaster.
  • Unfortunately there was more than one death that week. Only a matter of two days later Grim came calling to the canyon again, this time to the Stanton household.
    “Aww, but we’ve got cake downstairs, Grim!” Quinn pouted. “I was gonna have cake!”
    We have cake in the afterlife, Quinn, Grim replied sounding amused.
    “Yeah, but not my grandkids’ birthday cake.”
  • But we do have fruity drinks with umbrellas, Grim conjured one of those drinks and handed it over to her.
    “Harrumph,” Quinn grumbled, but she took the drunk anyway.
  • Quinn Stanton died after 75, perma-plat. She left behind 3 children (Charlie, Gideon and James) and 8 grandchildren ranging from infants to teenagers. She left behind an inheritance for all 11 of her descendants.
  • There was no time to mourn, Ally and James had a pair of twins to grow up. Ally looked over to James as they stood behind the cakes.
    “Are you sure you’re up to this?” she asked softly. “I can take care of the twins if you need to...”
    She trailed off, not sure what to say. It didn’t matter anyway. James shook his head.
    “I just need to keep busy,” he said, staring ahead. “Let’s just grow these two up.”
  • In unison Ally and James blew out the candles on the cakes and tossed the babies in the air. The moment they caught the toddlers they whisked them away to fix their hair and clothes. Once they were made over the difference between the twins was clear. Both Luke and Lorelai had inherited James’ mouth and chin. Lorelai had James’ nose and ears, while Luke had gotten those from Ally. James even thought he saw different cheekbones on the pair of them, but it was still too early to tell that.
  • After the final exam of his senior year Galahad arrived back at the Greek House and flopped down on the sofa in relief. He smiled. It was over – it was finally over. He was officially graduating – and graduating with honours – in a couple of short weeks. The last few years of stress over term papers, exams and everything else were finally over. Finally. He could hardly wait.
    Of course, he was the last in the house to finish his exams – the cheerleader, Sadie, who they'd asked to be placeholder had finished her exams about a week ago, while Tessa had her last exam the day before. Right now she was out celebrating with her boyfriend, Jay.
    Although... Galahad glanced up at the clock on the opposite wall. Tessa had said she'd be back not too long after him, to find out how things went. She should be getting back any time soon.
  • Galahad dug the remote out of the side of the sofa and clicked on the TV. He flicked through the channels for a minute or two, then relaxed as something he actually wanted to watch came on. Both Tessa and Sadie the cheerleader hated the show, so Galahad figured he’d best take advantage of the empty house.
  • It was about an hour later that Tessa strolled into the house, humming to herself as she practically bounced along.
    “Goooood afternoon,” she said, her voice chipper and a smile on her face. “Isn’t it a wonderful day?”
    Galahad raised an eyebrow. He peered out into the hallway and window there. Despite being almost summer there was still a thick blanket of snow on the ground.
    “Whatever you say,” he replied. He rolled his eyes but couldn’t help smiling – Tessa’s happiness was infectious. “So how’d the date with the boyf go?”
  • “Try fiancé,” Tessa corrected, sliding down next to him on the sofa. “Jay proposed half way through lunch – we’re sorting out the ring when we’re settled after graduation,” she added as Galahad glanced down at her ringless fingers.
    “Congratulations,” Galahad said, smiling. “I know you’ve been waiting for this for a while.”
    “Well yeah! Jay just refused to propose until I finished my education,” she rolled her eyes. “We spent the last couple of hours celebrating. So how’d your exam go?”
  • “It was Conceptual Art,” Galahad replied with a shrug. “It’s a load of stuff that makes no sense and not many people actually think is art. I either got an A+ or I failed completely, and have no way to know which.”
    “Right, I remember you saying about it,” chuckled Tessa. The two didn’t speak again for a little while, letting the sounds of whatever inane game show Galahad had been watching wash over them as they watched the host fire up wind machines, throw buckets of water and leaves at a women trying to sing. “So you thought about what you’re doing after graduation yet?”
  • Galahad didn’t respond. He sat there staring at the TV but no longer registering what was happening as he debated with himself if now was the time to tell her. He supposed he would have to soon. He if didn’t then she would definitely find out on her own.
    “Well?” Tessa asked, looking more eager to hear his plans.
    "Remember that ad on the notice board at the SU building the other week?" Galahad finally responded. Tessa shook her head. He didn’t blame her – most people had just ignored it. "The one for the Bachelor Challenge out by the coast, near Belladonna? I applied for it – had a feeling I wouldn't be finding anyone in the last few weeks here."
  • "Really?" Tessa asked, raising an eyebrow. "A Bachelor Challenge, Gal? Have you really sunk that low? You do realise this'll means you'll be on national TV and everything, right?“
    Galahad frowned, shrugging a single shoulder. He’d been expecting this sort of reaction – Tess had made her distaste toward reality TV known over the three years the pair had lived in the Greek House together. As for being on TV, he’d been avoiding thinking about that, to be honest.
    "Yes, I have sunk that low, Tess. Your love life might be going somewhere," he paused and looked pointedly at Tessa’s finger where within a week they both knew a shiny engagement ring with lie, "but mine hasn't been exactly lively. I had, what? My first kiss stolen by a girl in freshman year who gave me a fake number so I couldn't call her, and a drunken one night stand in sophomore year at a toga party with a guy who I haven't been able to look in the eye since. So yes, Tessie, I have really sunk that low."
  • He looked away, glaring at the wall. Galahad hadn't admitted that before, not since he was a teen and complaining about the matchmarkers with a straight girl or a gay guy. When he'd come to university four years ago he had expected to spend all of it focussed on getting the bone phone, working on getting into the right career so that one day he could get hold of it. When he'd gotten hold of the phone the first day in the dorms Galahad had been lost, even more so when his, admittedly feeble, attempts to romance the dormies had failed. He'd been lonely the last three years – three and a half really – and if there was one thing he had learned for certain from his university experience it was that he was not cut out for the bachelor lifestyle that so many other romance sims.
    Galahad was so engrossed in his own thoughts he'd forgotten he wasn't alone. He jumped when he felt a hand touch his arm, and turned back to face Tessa.
    "Sorry," she said, looking guilty. "I didn't mean it – Well, I didn't mean it like that.”
  • "I know," he said. He shrugged again. "Anyway, I applied for the show. Got through to the interviews too. Apparently they had enough people apply from this area that they sent someone out instead of making us go to them. And, well, they chose me. For their bachelor I mean.“
    "If you're sure..." Tessa said, she still didn't look convinced. He nodded his head firmly. "That's great. I just hope you know what you're getting yourself into.“
    "Thanks," Galahad replied. "Filming starts just after graduation, I fly out pretty much the next day."
    "Oh," Tessa said, looking lost for words. The pair sat in silence for a few minutes, a frown slowly forming on Tessa's brow. It took some time, but Tessa finally spoke again. "What about Nev?”
    Galahad sighed. While he had been avoiding thinking about the TV side of the Bachelor Challenge, he had been thinking about what to do about Nev.
  • "I rang Mum up the other day," Galahad began slowly. "She said there's been some complications getting her grave back from Gothier. We're blood relatives, but there's some bureaucratic nightmare that means if you weren't the one to put the grave there then the council have to do about a million checks to see if you're authorised to move the grave to make sure you couldn't possibly be upsetting anyone enough to sue." Galahad gave a helpless shrug. "Mum said Dad's just started to make progress, but won't actually have results until after the Bachelor Challenge is set to finish."
     
    “Right,” Tessa replied. She looked him straight in the eye, looking completely serious. “Geez, where have the years gone? I swear it was just yesterday I found you failing at fishing in the park, and now we’re about to graduate.”
    “I wasn’t failing! I was just... Using unconventional means!”
  • “Yeah right,” she snorted. “Next you’ll be telling me you’re not a geek in disguise.”
    “I’m n-”
    “Hey, hey, hey! What do you two, like, think you’re doing? We’ve totally got a graduation party to organise!”
    A third voice cut across their argument
  • A third voice cut across their budding argument. The pair turned to look to the hall where Sadie, the future placeholder, was stood with one hand on her hip and a foot tapping on the floor impatiently with a stern expression on her face. Or, at least as sternly as a cheerleader could look.
    “Come on! Chop chop! We’ve only got a few hours to get everything ready, you two!”
    Tessa and Galahad looked to one another, shaking their heads and chuckling.
  • That same day, Ross had only just got to Hunter’s park in Bluewater with the girls and three of Dec and Knut’s brood – Eliza, Felicity and Gavin. It had taken less than a minute for all of the kid to run off to go play. Ross had just smiled and wandered over to the pond to fish for a little bit. He remembered all too well what it was like to be that age and have more energy than you knew what to do with.
  • Ross had been fishing for a couple of minutes, catching nothing, when Ivy wandered over. She grabbed one of the spare rods Ross had brought with him and strung it up expertly, having been taught by Ross by the stream in the garden. Grandfather and granddaughter stood side by side in silence for awhile, just waiting for bites and enjoying one another’s company..
    “Why aren’t you playing with your sisters and the others?” Ross asked. Ivy shrugged.
    “They’re being boring,” she replied, stressing the last word. She glanced over her shoulder at him, blinking her green eyes. “B’sides, I wanted to spend time with you, Grandpa!”
  • Ross didn’t press her for details and the pair fell into a companionable silence once more, just listening to the singing of birds, the splashing of fish and the laughter of the other kids. Ross lost track of how long they stood there, neither getting a nibble, before Ivy spoke again.
    “Hey, Grandpa? Why do we have a vegetable patch? And why do we fish from the stream? None of the other families do, and Felicity said it’s stupid because you can get every we can grow and catch from a shop much quicker.”
  • “It’s not stupid. You like fishing with me, don’t you? And helping your grandmother with the garden, right?”
    Ivy shot him a dubious look over her shoulder, but nodded anyway. “I guess,” she said. “But why grow it all and catch all the fish if you can just get it from shops?”
  • “I don’t think I ever told you kids about my Mum and Dad – your great-grandparents, did I?” Ross changed the subject slightly. Ivy shook her head, her hair flying a little in the wind before settling back down, straight down her back. “They were aging hippies, a bit like me. They spent their whole lives trying to make the world a better place.”
    “So?”
    “My Mum and Dad’s dream was to move out of Belladonna Cove, where I grew up, buy somewhere off the grid and live as simply as possible.”
    “Why didn’t they? You did it! And so did your friends.”
  • “It was easier for us.” Ross smiled as he thought back. “By the time we moved here we’d all been saving for a couple of years. We didn’t really have anything tying us down. None of us were married, or had kids yet, and Quinn – that’s Ms Stanton – she’d found us somewhere that was selling land cheap to anyone who wanted to start a legacy. That was Quaver Kanyon.”
    “So? That doesn’t have anything to do with why we have a vegetable patch!” Ivy pointed out as she recast her line. “None of the other founders did!”
    “You’re right,” he admitted with a shrug. “I guess my parents had a bigger impact on me that I’d thought. After hearing them talk about it all my life I decided to honour them and grow my own food. Certainly made life easier in the beginning.”
  • “Oh.”
    “Yes, oh,” Ross said. He squinted at the pond when he felt a tug on his line. “Now hush for a second. Grandpa thinks he’s got a bite! We might be having fish for dinner!”
  • At the same time as Ross was telling Ivy about his parents, another very different conversation was taking place on the opposite side of the pond.
    “I can’t believe I let you drag me over here!” Lydia grumbled. “It’s just a tree, ‘Liza!”
    “But don’t you see, Lydie? It’s a bonzai tree! Don’t you get what that means?”
    “Doesn’t bonzai mean like really small or something in Takemizu?”
    “Not quite, it’s-”
    “Don’t care, ‘Liza.”
  • “But it’s a species that’s native to Takemizu and isn’t found elsewhere and-” Eliza was cut off by a loud groan from Lydia.
    “Why did I follow the geek over here?”
  • “Fine,” Eliza grumbled. She might be young, but she already knew that not everyone was as interested in learning as her. She spun on her heel. “So what do you wanna do?”
  • Lydia crossed her arms and looked about the park, thinking. She blew a strand of hair out of her face. Then she smiled, an expression on her face that in years to come would have people running in the opposite direction.
    “I bet I can climb this tree higher than you!”
    “You’re on!”
  • Not everyone in the park was quite as eager as Eliza and Lydia to do something active. Rose and Gavin were both stood talking to one another over by the gazebo.
    “I dunno, Rosa,” Gavin said, one eyebrow raised sceptically. “Do you really think that the secret to business success to having one ridiculously overpriced thing to sell to the suckers? Are people really that stupid?”
  • “Well duh, people are dumb enough to buy any old rubbish. Why do you think they always tell you to beware men selling bridges? Because it totally works! We could be making a fortune when we open up our shop just by selling ridiculously overpriced – I don’t know – wormrat cages or something! I’m telling you, it’s a sure thing!”
  • “Will you stop with the pet shop stuff already?” Gavin rolled his eyes good naturedly. “We could sell anything – has any business when we’re older, and all you can think about is wormrats and birds?”
    “What? A pet shop would be awesome! Just think of all the puppies and kitties!”
    “Nuh-uh, bakery would be so much cooler – think of the cake!”
    Uh, moving on from the business strategies of eight year olds...
  • Over by the swings, Alana and Felicity sat on the ground, just talking about whatever came to mind. Boys, school, boys, their siblings, boys, their parents and boys were just as few of the topics. Finally, after some time, there was a pause in the conversation. Alana looked down at her hands, twiddling her thumbs. A moment later she peeked up at Felicity through her hair.
    “So... Where’s your brother?” asked Alana hesitantly.
  • “Uh, over there.” Felicity jabbed her thumb beyond the swings where Felicity could just about hear Rosa and Gavin’s voices, but not quite work out what was being said. “He’s talking to your sister about something dorky.”
  • “No, not Gav,” Alana said. She let out a laugh. “I mean Harry.”
  • “Oh, he didn’t wanna come, the dads said he didn’t have to if he didn’t want to,” Felicity replied. “Why do you care? Harry’s an even bigger dork than Gav, as hard as that is to believe.”
  • “I don’t know,” Alana replied, pausing briefly before grinning. “He’s actually kinda cute.”
    “EW!” Felicity scrunched up her face and shuddered dramatically. “How could you say that you me, Alana? He’s my brother! I thought we were friends?”
    “Fine, I take it back. But do you know who is cute?” Alana smiled playfully. “Frankie Huerta.”
    “He’s my cousin!”
    “How about Merlin Beckett? Or Duncan, for that matter? Or Dahl and Elijah Kosmokos?”
    “They’re my cousins too!”
    “Well excuse me, it’s not my fault you’re related to everyone we know.”
  • “Believe it or not, there are some cute boys around I’m not related to, Alana,” Felicity replied snootily. Alana rolled her eyes.
    “’Course there are Flic,” Alana snorted and rolled her eyes. Seeing the look in her friend’s eye and knowing she wouldn’t let the matter drop, Alana braced herself. “Fine, who do you like?”
  • “Oh, you know, the usual,” Felicity smiled playfully. “Matt Merton, Johnny Byall – and Johnny’s brother Rygel’s not too shabby either.”
    “FLIC! They’re my cousins!”
    Felicity grinned, and parroted back Alana’s words from only moments before.
    “It’s not my fault you’re related to everyone we know.”
  • “I guess I had that one coming,” Alana admitted. Her eyes flicked up towards the dark clouds gathering overhead and she sighed. “Think it’s gonna rain. Grandpa’s probably gonna take us all home soon.”
    “Yeah. Hey, do you wanna come over tomorrow after school? I need someone around who isn’t a complete dork or a nerd, and I suppose you’ll do.”
    “All right – if I can find time in my busy schedule, that is,” Alana added. She smiled at Flic. Flic smiled back.
  • Meanwhile...
    “Lydia, I don’t think we should be up this high,” Eliza called up to the other girl. Eliza had managed to find somewhere relatively stable sit down. Lydia, not satisfied with climbing most of the way up the tree, had scrambled past Eliza up one of the higher branches some time back. “I don’t even know how we’re gonna get back down.”
  • “We’ll be fine,” Lydia reassured from several feet above Eliza, avoiding mention that the branches beneath her feet felt a little too thin and her bending a little too much for comfort.
  • Eliza opened her mouth to respond when a particularly strong breeze blew up. Gasping in fear, Eliza gripped the branch she was sitting on tightly with her legs.
    “I think we need to get down now,” Eliza said, regretting letting Lydia talk her into this. She forced herself to stay calm and push back the panic that was threatening to bubble over. She could just about see how she got up here. “I’m getting down now!”
  • “Oh, don’t be such a wuss!” Lydia glanced down briefly. “We’re not that high! We’re only - what? Ten foot up? Eleven?”
    “More like fifteen,” Eliza grumbled from below her.
    Eliza had already started making her way back down the tree. Lydia rolled her eyes. She hopped onto another, thicker branch next to the one she was stood. Arms out for balance, she began make her way further out onto the branch. She grinned as she made her way out over the pond. Lydia loved doing this sort of thing – what was the point of living if you couldn’t take a few risks every now and then?
  • As Lydia was working her way out, Eliza had scrambled down the tree, jumping the last couple of feet and landing safely on the ground. She turned and looked up, expecting to see Lydia climbing down after her. No such luck. Eliza gasped as she saw her friend stood near the end of one of the highest branches.
    “Lydia! Get back to the trunk! You’ll fall into the pond!” she called up, keeping her voice just low enough that it wouldn’t carry across the pond where Ivy and Mr Merton were fishing.
  • “Don’t be silly! I’ll be perfectly fi-”
  • Naturally, that was the exact moment that Lydia lost her footing on the branch and tumbled into the pond below. Luckily she fell into the deepest part of the pond and, after one heart-stopping moment of terror for everyone in the park who’d heard hers and Eliza’s screams as she fell, she surfaced, looking pale and soaked to the bone but otherwise unscathed.
    “I’m all right! I meant to do that!” she protested as she was pulled from the water by a very worried grandfather, three terrified sisters and three shocked friends. “It was all totally planned!”
    Needless to say, Lydia wasn’t let near trees for some time after that.
    Ponds were also disallowed.
  • Meanwhile, back at the Browns, Vicki surveyed the room she shared with her nieces in confusion. There was just no way it was possible...
  • ... To fit that much stuff...
  • ... Into the single empty case she had left.
  • “Huh, Griff was right,” she muttered to herself. “Six suitcases and eighteen boxes really isn’t enough for all my stuff.”
    Vicki carried on staring at the pile of stuff on her bed and the desk she shared with the girls, as though if she looked at it long enough she could actually make it fit. No dice. The whole task just got more daunting by the second. It was no good, she’d have to either repack each suitcase for the sixth time to try and get more speak, or, and she shuddered here, actually think about tossing out some of her stuff. Neither option appealed.
    Thankfully she was saved from having to decide by a knock at the door.
    “Come in,” she called out, relieved.
  • The door was pushed open and Harry stepped inside, grimacing as he did so. Vicki couldn’t blame him – the room was very pink and filled to the ceiling with the cute things that little girls love. It was practically designed to repel every little boy who ever lived.
    “Ew! It smells of girl in here!”
  • “What did you expect?” Vicki said, a smile tugging at her lips. “It’s a girls room, with three girls living in it.”
    Harry stuck his tongue out. Vicki responded in kind.
  • “So what do you want, squirt?” Vicki asked. “There’s gotta be some reason you decided not to go to the park with the others.”
    “Yeah, but it’s gonna make me sound like a wuss!”
    “I won’t tell anyone then, promise,” Vicki grinned down at Harry. He considered the proposal for a minute, scratching his head.
    “All right,” he said slowly. For a moment silence reigned in the room – a rarity Vicki had come to appreciate since the girls moved in here with her. “When are you leaving for college?”
  • “Huh?” Vicki said blankly, suddenly caught off guard. “Oh, about five tomorrow morning – Griff bugged your Uncle Sterling until he agreed to hire a moving van. There’s supposed to be enough room in there for me, but knowing Griff...”
    Vicki trailed off. Knowing Griff, he’d be able to fill the whole moving van with just his stuff. His dads would stop him from going quite that far though. Hopefully.
    “Oh, so you’re going early?” Harry asked. He sounded disappointed.
    “Well yeah,” she replied, shrugging a shoulder. “We’ve gotta be there by 12.”
  • “You’re looking forwards to it, right?” Harry asked. He bit his lip. Vicki’s eyebrows shot up.
    “Uh, knowledge sim here, going off to college? Of course, I can’t wait!” Vicki paused again. “Come on, out with it, squirt. What’s going on in that purple head of yours?”
  • Harry looked away, down at his feet. He muttered something under his breath that Vicki couldn’t quite hear.
    “What was that?”
    “I don’t want you to go,” he repeated, this time just loud enough for her to catch it. “What if you don’t like it, or something happens?”
  • Vicki would have laughed if Harry hadn’t looked so serious and sad, like he was genuinely worried about how Vicki would be that far away from home. She crouched down in front of him and looked him in the eye, smiling.
    “I’ll be fine,” she said. “Everyone’s just phonecall away, and anyway, I’m not exactly gonna be alone. Juan-” Vicki chuckled when Harry pulled a face at her boyfriend’s name, “Carmen and Griff are all starting college too, so at least one of my bazillion nephews will be there to there to look out for me.”
    “There’s not a bazillion of us! There’s only-” Harry paused, frowning as he counted up his many male cousins, “-fourteen of us!”
    “Close enough,” Vicki grinned as she got up, ruffling Harry’s hair as she stood. “Now are you going to help me pack or are you just gonna distract me?”
  • And that’s it! Chapter done! Woop!
    This’ll be the last chapter for a while. As I mentioned earlier in the chapter, Galahad’s getting a bachelor challenge, and I’ll need to knock that out before the next chapter. The BC’s already played, but I need to write it, so it could take some time...
    Anyway, until next time, happy simming!