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The Bookacy Family Alphabet Adventures, ch. 34
 

The Bookacy Family Alphabet Adventures, ch. 34

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    The Bookacy Family Alphabet Adventures, ch. 34 The Bookacy Family Alphabet Adventures, ch. 34 Presentation Transcript

    • Dear reader, welcome back to The Bookacy Family Alphabet Adventures, to chapter 34! If you arenew to the story, I suggest you start from the beginning (you know, chapter 1), as otherwise I suspectwhat follows will make little to no sense. For those of us who are up to date, I believe we were atsome fairly dramatic events in the Bookacy household the last time, werent we? So lets dive right in.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~The afternoon following the disastrous wedding of her daughter, Marylena Bookacy was on thephone.”Hi, Cyrus dear. Yes, we are managing, thanks for asking. All the guests have left, its just usanymore, and the house is finally quiet. Thank goodness for that.”
    • ”I cant deny this has been quite a shock for us all. As you know, me and your father werent entirelyhappy with the engagement in the first place and had the feeling that not everything was right. Butstill...”…”No, no, we had absolutely nothing against Eric, he always seemed such a nice young man, althoughsomewhat older than your sister, it was more... Well, Cho. We werent convinced she was doing thisfor the right reasons, but no matter how we tried, we couldnt make her see our side. We wereworried that if she was getting married mainly to make the family proud, she might later come toregret it. But we would never have imagined that he would leave her at the altar, no, neither of us...”
    • ”Cho? I suppose shes as well as its possible in these circumstances. Your father called his cousinBailey, who is a doctor, and he came over to see to Cho. He assured us that theres no immediatedanger, even though she was in a shocklike state and...” Marylena had to pause, fighting back tears,”... and she didnt seem to... really pay attention to her surroundings.”…”No, no, its okay. Bailey checked up on her, and said he would rather not order medication becauseof the pregnancy, but he estimated she should be ok without for the time being. If the situation getsworse, he said hed order something mild. Right now shes sleeping, has been for about an hour anda half. It was amazing really, how she seemed completely unresponsive when me or Baudolino triedto get her to even come inside, but when Bailey told her in a firm voice, he got her to both eat andthen sleep. We were so relieved.”
    • ”So right now were just waiting and taking turns to check up on Cho. So far she seems to besleeping peacefully. Bailey said that the advanced pregnancy and the stress of the day have probablycompletely exhausted her and shell probably sleep long. I promised him wed call him immediately ifsomething unexpected happened, and in any case well report to him in the evening.”…”He said that the baby should be perfectly fine. The pregnancy is so far along that there shouldnt bea reason to worry about that. In fact, his opinion was that the baby could be born at any time.Apparently the stress peak hasnt at least yet caused the labor to start, and its good because Chowas exhausted to begin with and needs the rest. So also with that were currently just waiting.”…”Okay, sweetie. Thanks for calling, say hello to Chris from me. Baudolino is currently having a nap,and George is putting away the wedding decorations so Cho doesnt see those when she wakes up. Ithink Ill check up on her one more time and then see if I could get a little sleep myself. Well call youif anything else happens. Love you, sweetheart, bye.”
    • The family didnt have to wait long. After a couple of more hours of peaceful sleep, Cho wasawakened by a sharp pain in her abdomen, and Marylena, who was napping on the couch, wasawakened by her yelp of pain.
    • It was soon evident that it was time for Cho to go into labor. Marylena rushed to wake her husband,who promptly dialed Marsha and Baileys number.
    • Bailey grabbed the car keys and left for the Legacy household at once, but he said that the birthseemed to be progressing fast and he would probably not make it before the baby would be born. Heassured Baudolino that by his description this was a completely routine childbirth, and all would gojust fine without a doctor present. He would come anyway, to at least check up on Cho and the babyafterwards.Marylena was nervous, but she tried to remain calm for her daughters sake. If nothing else, shewould be there to support Cho.”Its okay, honey, just remember to breathe. Take a long, deep breath.”
    • ”Owww...””Hang in there, darling, not much longer!”
    • Marylena was right. Only moments later the pain was over, and Cho was holding her newborn son inher arms. Even at birth both of his parents could be seen in the boys features: he had Chos eyesand skin color, and blond hair like both Eric and Marylena. After a moment of thinking, Cho, who hadbeen very silent since she had been left standing outside holding a ring, announced that the babywould be called Dirk.
    • Welcome to the family, Dirk Bookacy! You were named after Dirk Gently from Douglas Adams TheLong Dark Tea-time of the Soul. The original Dirk Gently is a detective with a holistic detectiveagency. In Tea-time Dirk comes across a case where a check-in desk at the Heathrow airportdisappears in an explosion, and the leads seem point towards the ancient Scandinavian gods.Meanwhile, Dirk also has a battle of wills with his maid on the topic of Dirks fridge, which is quicklyapproaching the state of a biohazard. Many twists and turns are taken before the final solution oneither matter is reached.
    • A few nights later, when the biggest fuss and stream of congratulations on Dirks birth was over, itwas time for some quite different action, action which few sims in Alphabetia were even aware of.George and Sean were standing on the edge of a large forest on the outskirts of Alphabetia andwaiting. It was a chilly night, and Sean kept rubbing his hands together to keep them warm. Georgedidnt need to do so, but even his metallic interiors felt cold as he was thinking about their currentmission.”You do not believe he would suspect something?” he asked for what must have been the thirtiethtime that night.”Why would he?” replied Sean, but George couldnt help but notice that he looked worried. ”Fromwhat the Count said, Salahuddin Chamcha has no reason to think anything in particular about beingcontacted by an old acquintance, one who has successfully helped him in the past.””Rebeccas kidnap was not very succesful in my understanding.””But Salahuddins turning into a vampire was. And in fact, without the Counts help, or alternatively arather substantial amount of elixir, Salahuddin would be long dead of old age by now. He has reasonto be grateful.”
    • ”What will we do if he does not return?” asked George after a while of gazing silently into the forest,and not for the first time.”Then we have a problem”, said Sean gloomily. ”The police are of course aware, and I would ofcourse alert the forces, but... The forcefield around the house is very strong, as both Sunny and thecount explained. It would take some extraordinary magic to break it, and without the count... I believeSunny herself would be our only hope, and by the time she managed to lift the protection...” Seanrealized where this conversation was going, and hastened to add: ”But theres still time.”George nodded, unable to speak. Both men kept staring into the distance in silence.
    • After what felt like much longer than it probably was, both George and Sean jumped upon hearing afairly loud ”puff” and seeing a cloud of purple smoke, in the midst of which stood Count Pao Howe,smirking.”I take it you have been expecting me, then?” he asked, noting how George let out a visible sigh ofrelief and Sean looked much more relaxed than he had a moment ago.Sean gave him a stern look. ”Were not exactly in a mood for jokes right now, count. Did everythinggo as planned? You arent being followed?”
    • ”No, no, we are completely safe”, assured Count Pao. ”Now if you will, I would like to disattach myselffrom these wires. They are fairly uncomfortable.” He reached for his ear and took out a small earplug.Then he started to strip off his skin a long, thin wire that had been barely visible if you knew where tolook.”Much better”, he said after several moments of untangling wires in silence. He saw the questioninglooks on the other mens faces, and gave them the answers they desperately wanted.”Very well. Everything went according to plan, I do not believe we have anything to worry about, whenit comes to Salahuddin Chamchas suspicions. He may have been slightly surprised that I contactedhim after all these years, but he accepted my explanations. He did not show suspicion or desire tosearch me for hidden devices such as this”, the count said waving a small tape recorder he had takenfrom his pocket. ”I gave him the information we agreed on, and he seemed very interested. Due tothe power field, a live transmission was not possible as you know, but everything is on tape.” Hetapped the recorder.Sean sighed, clearly relieved to hear this. ”Great. Excellent job, count.”
    • But Count Pao was not finished yet.”There is, however, more”, he said, stressing each word. ”It would seem that Salahuddin Chamchahas become even more dangerous than he has been previously. He did not say so directly, nor do Iknow his exact motivation, but I have the impression that he is now planning...” he swallowed, ”thedeath of an heir.”Sean and George merely looked at the count in horror. Finally Sean asked: ”So Chos... Chos indanger? Or the baby?””I assume it would be Cho. I do not believe that he knows about her son at this time. It may not bepossible to keep the information from him, but it is strongly advisable to attempt all the same.”Sean nodded. He had some difficulties to find his voice, but finally he spoke. ”If thats the case, count,then I think its high time for direct action. We cant let him have a chance at Chos life. I think I havean idea... It might be dangerous, but so far its everything Ive got, and it fits perfectly with theinformation youve given him...” He was speaking more to himself than to anyone in particular. Thenhe stopped. ”Well need to alert a few others. And I need to hear that tape.”
    • Despite his worries about keeping the family – and Count Pao – safe, George didnt let his nerves getthe better of him. Instead, he kept being an invaluable help around the house, and with little Dirkespecially. He was afraid, but he trusted Sean, and kept his promise of not telling anyone what hedheard, Cho herself in particular. Baudolino knew vague general ideas, but otherwise Sean, Georgeand the count had agreed that the family had enough to deal with as it was, and it was best toproceed with only a few select and capable sims fully aware of the situation.Capable sims were taking care of matters, and at the moment the best George could do, was to keephis single eye open, and attend to everyday matters for the family.
    • Meanwhile, it was celebration season all around Alphabetia. Now that generation C had returned fromcollege and settled in, many of them were settling down as well. For a while, the family were atweddings almost constantly, applauding at this or that cousins marriage.Baudolino and Marylena were a little worried about Cho having to attend all these occasions rightnow, but she seemed to take it with grace, regardless of what her true feelings may have been.
    • And if it wasnt a wedding, it was a birthday, as many members of generation B were also becomingelders those days. And if it wasnt either a wedding or a birthday, then it was an engagement – therewas news on engagements in the family practically every week. Also the first pregnancies among thecousins were soon celebrated.
    • Even Chos cousin and best friend, Claire, surprised everyone and got engaged to her boyfriendTrevor. Claire, all-about-boys-Claire, committing to just one boy?Claire herself, when she heard the surprised tones, just laughed.Of course, those who knew her the best, werent perhaps terribly surprised.
    • And soon enough, also Claire and Trevor celebrated their wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony, theyoung couple were simply radiating and Claires Dads, Bill and Ira, beamed throughout the day. Theirlittle girl had clearly found happiness.
    • While all the celebrating and accompanying fuss was going on in the neighborhood, Cho tried to goon with her life. She may have been a little more quiet than usual, but otherwise she seemed to bedoing reasonably well considering the circumstances.Encouraged by her parents, she let her knowledge-seeking side take over. Whenever she wasntplaying with or cuddling little Dirk, she was studying. Charisma was something she had beeninterested in a long time, and now she perfected her skill.
    • She could also often be found stargazing on the chilly late autumn nights, especially when shecouldnt sleep. Being outside felt good, and stargazing was a great way to take her mind off things.
    • But all things considered, Chos favorite pastime was to lay down and hold her son in her arms. Shecould spend hours just laying there and watching little Dirk sleep, or playing with him, letting himreach for her hair and her nose, and hear him coo happily. That was when she felt the calmest.
    • It was really a miracle how something so beautiful, so amazing could come out of something thatwent so disastrously wrong. Her life might be a mess at the moment, she might have no idea whatshe should do with regard to... well, anything really, but she had a son. A beautiful, perfect, amazingson who could make her smile even in the midst of misery, simply by being there. Really, it didnteven matter that she now had an heir, the heir she had been so eager to produce or so long, longerthan she could remember really. She might not have consciously admitted it to herself, but she hadbeen worried about the possibility of not being able to produce an heir, to be able to continue thename of the family and bring it prestige. She now had that, but really, that wasnt what was important.Cho had been worried about a lot of things, but suddenly, many of them didnt matter anymore. Notfor the moment, at least.
    • One evening, when Cho was simply relaxing and enjoying the company of her son, there was a silentknock on the master bedroom door.”Yes?”
    • ”Honey?” said Marylena, looking into the room. ”Do you have a moment? Id... Id like to talk to you fora while.””Sure”, said Cho, looking curious. ”I suppose its about bedtime for Dirk anyway, hes been seeming alittle tired for a while”, she continued and pecked her son on the cheek, to which he replied bygiggling and trying to grab her nose.”Yes, I think its bedtime for the young mister here. Let me just get Baudolino or George, I think eitherof them would be happy to put him to bed while we talk”, replied Marylena briskly and stepped backinto the upstairs lobby to go look for either of the two men.
    • ”So, what did you want to talk about, Mom?” asked Cho after Baudolino had delightedly jumped onthe chance to read his grandson a bedtime story, and the two women were comfortably sat on themaster bedroom bed.”Well, I just wanted to... well, ask how you were”, said Marylena. ”Youve seemed a little morecheerful to me lately.”Cho smiled a little. ”I suppose I have been happier. It has a lot to with Dirk I think. Hes just so...” shecouldnt find the word she was looking for, but the adoring look on her face told Marylena everythingshe needed to know.”Im glad to hear that. And its great to see you spend so much time with him, too. I think its good foryou both.””Well I know its definitely good for me”, Cho said, this time with a warm, genuine smile. ”I do hope itsgood for him too.””You can be sure of that. Its always good to be with someone who loves you.”
    • ”How have you been... otherwise?” asked Marylena then. ”You havent heard from... him, have you?”Cho sighed. ”No. Not that Ive expected to, either. Not after what... happened.””Well, Ihave to say I wasnt expecting it either. After he left like that, without a word of explanation, Iwouldnt expect him to contact you, not any time soon in any case”, reasoned Marylena, happy thather daughter seemed to remain calm. Perhaps shed even be in an open mood, to both talk about hersituation, and to listen.”Yeah. I suppose I have to learn to live with the fact that I might not ever get to know what happenedthere... I thought... I really thought that he loved me, but... Maybe you never really know.” Choshrugged, biting her lip. ”I dont know, maybe he got cold feet, wanted to lead a life of a party.Decided he didnt want a wife – and son – after all.” She sounded bitter when she ended.Marylena had thought of a few things to say about her daughters side of it all, but thought the betterof it. Now wasnt the time.
    • ”We dont know his reasons”, she said instead, ”so better not make any assumptions, dear. Maybe itsbest just to try to accept the situation for what it is, if you can. If you ever get to know what happened,what his motivations were, then good. If not, all you can do is try to live on the best you can, and raiseyour son.””I know, Mom. Thats what Im going to have to do.” Cho sighed. ”I only hope that when Dirk startsasking questions, I can give him some answers.” She seemed to make up her mind about something.”Actually, Mom, Im a little worried about him”, she said finally.”About Dirk? Why?””Well... Im the only parent that the poor little kids got and... Im not sure if Im up for the task.Especially right now, I mean. Its been pretty tough and...” Cho swallowed, ”Im a bit of a mess rightnow.. I wouldnt want that to affect Dirk but... I dont know what to do, Mom.”
    • ”Im glad you are telling me this”, said Marylena, much happier about the conversation than she hadbeen a few moments ago, ”and I understand completely.” She then said firmly: ”Cho, I need you tostop worrying about this. First of all, its perfectly normal to be feeling like you do in this situation.Anyone would be upset, angry, sad. Id be worried if you werent. I also need you to remember thatyou may be Dirks only parent, but you arent the only adult hes got. Me, your father and George arealways there if you need help with Dirk, and not only for taking care of the physical tasks, well do ourbest to help you answer the questions as well when the time comes.”Cho nodded, wiping her eyes. ”I know. Thanks, Mom. I really appreciate it.””Youre welcome, sweetie. I have to say, even though I wouldnt wish your current situation foranyone, I cant help but think that in the end, it might be a good thing, or rather”, she correctedherself, ”it may lead to good things. Honestly, there are some things that I believe you need to thinkover, for yourself, and had... this... not happened, maybe nothing would have forced you to do so. Doyou understand what I mean?” asked Marylena her daughter.”I... I think I may have an idea”, Cho said quietly.
    • Marylena got up from the bed. ”In that case, Im happy. I wont say anything more right now, but if youever need to talk about any of this, you know Im here for you.”Cho got up as well. ”Yeah. Thanks, Mom.””Youre welcome, dear”, said Marylena, pulling her for a warm hug, ”Thats what mothers are for. Now,I just need you to remember that no matter what, me and your father love you very much. Thats allthat matters.””I love you too, Mom.” And they both knew just how much the other meant it.
    • After the worst celebration fuss was over, life was actually fairly quiet in the Bookacy family main.After the recent turns of events, everyone seemed to enjoy the peace and quiet. Cho in particularenjoyed the time alone, time to think, and the time to spend with her son. She might not have said itto anyone, but indeed what her mother had said to her, started to grow in her mind, to make sense toher.
    • Cho wasnt the only one who was enjoying Dirks company, of course. Marylena kept her promise,and she and Baudolino were eager to help with the little one whenever they could. Not that theywouldnt have otherwise, but seeing their daughters vulnerable state, they felt it was all the moreimportant.
    • George was perhaps the greatest help of all. While the three others doted on little Dirk, he took thetime to take care of tasks that would otherwise have been neglected, such as gardening. Of course,when all tasks were taken care of, George still found time to dote on Dirk as well.
    • And one of those days, when everything was so nice and peaceful, also the first snow of the wintercalmly and quietly made its appearence in Alphabetia.
    • ”Dad? Mom said you wanted to see me?” said Cho whod just come to the living room after breakfastone day in the beginning of winter.”Yes I did, sweetie”, said Baudolino, nodding. He got up from the couch on which hed been restingwhile waiting for Cho. ”Theres something Ive been meaning to talk to you about, but weve had otherthings on our minds.”When Cho looked a little worried, Baudolino smiled and added: ”Oh nothing too serious. Or, yes,serious, but something of absolutely positive nature.”
    • ”You see, now that me and your mother are getting older, and you are the reigning heiress, I thoughtit was about time you took over the family business.””The... the bakery?” asked Cho. ”Are you... sure?””Why wouldnt I be? Its the family business, and Ive certainly had it for long enough. Im proud andhappy to be giving the bakery in your hands, Cho.””Thanks”, said Cho, still looking uncertain. ”I mean, Id be very to happy to be in charge of the bakery,its just that... I dont know much about business, Im not sure if I can do this.”Baudolino smiled again. ”Did you think your old man would just leave you in charge of a businessyoure not familiar with and leave it at that? Of course not. In the beginning it takes some work tolearn the essentials of running the business, but Ill help you with that, and both me and your motherare more than willing to give you a hand also otherwise. Its the family business, and its always beenrun together, by the family.”Now Cho smiled too. ”Okay, Dad. Thank you, I really appreciate this.”
    • ”Youre welcome, sweetie”, Baudolino said, reaching to give his daughter a warm hug. ”Youve beenoccupying yourself with knowledge-type activities a lot lately, and I thought you could enjoy learningsome business skills too. And well, Id like you to find out that you are well capable of running abusiness too if you want it, after some practice of course.”Cho nodded. Learning new things was always nice, and she appreciated Baudolinos attempt to giveher a distraction from what was currently going on in her mind.”Now, if I remember correctly”, said Baudolino with his eyes twinkling, ”you dont have work until thelate afternoon, and Marylena and George would surely be delighted to look after Dirk for a while.Would you like to go see your new business for yourself, together with your old man of course?”Cho smiled. ”Id love to.”
    • And so, in light snowfall, Cho and Baudolino soon headed for the Bookacy family bakery, to see howthings were after a rather long while.
    • ”Dad?” said Cho when they were parking the car in front of the bakery. ”It looks... different.”Baudolino chuckled.”Youve... youve redecorated it?”
    • ”Yes, yes I have”, admitted Baudolino, ”but only slightly. The place started to look like it needed somesurface renovation, so I did some freshening up. I didnt want to change it too much right now, sinceits your business and you may want to do something entirely different with it, but I wanted it to lookinviting.”Cho looked around. ”I think it does”, she agreed. ”And the old place really did need some touchingupon.””I added a new line of products, too, said Baudolino, pointing to the left. Kitchen accessories, heneedlessly explained. I think they go together with our bakery products quite nicely. But as I said, Idecided to leave the next big decisions to you, as its really your bakery now.”Cho looked around again, and smiled. ”Thanks Dad. I think I need to think about what I want to dowith the business a little bit. For now, I think its perfect.”
    • The morning was spent baking products for the shop. Baudolino and Cho started by checking whatthe situation was, and then went on to bake those products that were most severely lacking.Baudolino was an experienced cook, and Cho got many useful tips from him. The task was quiteenjoyable, really.
    • After the baking session, it was time to open the store and watch the clients stream in. Cho wasamused to find that some of them were clearly there to see the new owner of the business. Somebecause they already knew her and dearly loved her, and some because they clearly aspired to knowher.
    • Baudolino let Cho do most of the selling. She was a quick learner and the customers seemedpleased with her. She assumed that her previous knowledge of charisma was helping her quite much.In any case, Cho found that learning the sales skills all the while meeting new sims was a lot of fun.
    • She even met one particularly interesting customer. The man introduced himself as Bruce Bigfoot,and it turned out he was living together with a family named Thayer – Chos second cousin Clyde, hiswife Margaret and his parents Bonnie and Thomas. Bruce explained that Clyde and Margaret hadmet him while on their honeymoon to the Three Lakes, and as a knowledge sim, Margaret had beenthrilled to meet an actual bigfoot. Clyde may have been a little terrified at first, but so it turned out thatat the end of the holiday, Bruce moved in with the Thayers. So far; Bruce was liking it in Alphabetiavery much. So many new someones to meet, he said and looked genuinely happy.
    • Towards the afternoon Baudolino took over selling, so that Cho could learn some restocking as well.She found that, too, quite fascinating to do. She was very content to have come to the bakery today,theyd have to do it again soon.
    • Before they left, however, Cho wanted to show off some of her newly acquired skills, and made somebeautiful and delicious Baked Alaska to share. All in all, the day at the business was a very successfulone.
    • Soon after the day at the bakery, Baudolino came to the conclusion that he had been in working lifequite long enough, and now was as good a time as any to retire.
    • Of course, he couldnt just do nothing, so he decided to try out a new hobby. He found the oldrobotics bench in the basement quite interesting. And perhaps Dirk would like to play with a toy robotonce he grew a bit, Baudolino thought.
    • And then one day, the phone rang. Marylena went to answer, and saw the call was coming from thegate, someone was there and wanted inside.”Bookacy family residence.”…”Oh.” She was so surprised she even forgot to greet the speaker as she normally alvays did.…”Alright. Could you... Could you please wait for a moment? Ill come outside.”
    • ”Hello, Marylena”, said professor Eric. He was shaking slightly, and rubbing his hands together.”I wouldnt want to sound inpolite, but...What are you doing here?” asked Marylena, clearly reservedsuddenly being confronted by the man whod almost become her son-in-law.”Not at all, perfectly understandable”, replied Eric politely. ”This may be an unsurprising answer, butId like to see Cho. Is she available?”
    • ”Why?” asked Marylena, looking suspicious.Eric sighed.”I understand why you would not feel like welcoming me into your home anymore, trust me, I perfectlyunderstand”, he said. ”Ive done a cowards deed, and I deserve much more of your anger than yourecurrently serving me with. Theres no excuse.””Thats true.””However”, Eric continued, ”now that Ive been able to have some time to think a little bit, to get pastthe worst myself, I feel that if Cho is willing to listen to me, shed deserve an explanation, and anapology. I dont expect her to forgive me, certainly not now, maybe not ever, but I think she deservesto hear it all the same.”When Marylena was going to say something, Eric added: ”If you dont want me near your daughteranymore, or if you think shes in no state to see me, I understand. In that case I only ask that you tellher I am terribly sorry. But if you think...” he trailed off, suddenly unable to find an ending to that.
    • Marylena was quiet for a moment, then sighed.”Maybe I should hate you for what you did to my daughter, but apparently I cant. I might be actingagainst my best judgement, but I do think Cho deserves closure on this, so I suppose Im glad thatyou came. Come in.”She pressed the button that opens the gate.”I cant guarantee that shes willing to talk to you, though.”
    • ”I know”, said Eric, stepping through the gate, ”Im willing to try either way.”
    • Marylena knocked on the small bedroom door, the room usually in the use of the householdschildren.”Cho dear? Are you busy?”
    • ”Well Im trying to study a bit here”, said Cho, preparing to put her book down if needed. ”What is it,Mom?””Well, theres... theres someone here whod like to meet you”, said Marylena, keen to observe herdaughters reaction.”Oh.”That was all that Cho had time to say, before Marylena hastily continued: ”Ill leave you to it, I think I...I need to talk about the household tasks with George.” And with that, she turned on her heels and leftthe room. But behind her, someone entered it.
    • ”Hello, Cho.”
    • ”You.” Cho simply stared at her ex-fiancé, unable to think of anything more to say. Shed apparentlyforgotten that she was still holding the book, and gazed at Eric over it.”Yes, me.” Eric took advantage of Chos apparent surprise and confused state, and said: ”I... I thinkwe should talk.”
    • ”Talk?” That got Cho moving. She got up and put the book away. ”What is there to talk about?” sheasked in a cold tone. Eric noted that as hed expected, this would not be an easy discussion.He sighed. ”Im here to apologize to you”, he said. ”I...”But he didnt get further than that.
    • Cho had seemed relatively calm before, but now she released all of her rage, seemingly out of theblue.”Apologize to me? Apologize to me?!?! Do you really think you can just... just walk out on me likethat, leave me at the worst possible moment, disappear without a word for weeks, and then justapologize?! Well I dont think so, mister! If thats all you have to say, then you can...””Cho, I dont expect you to forgive me, not at all, but I just wanted to...”But Cho wasnt done yet.
    • ”If you didnt intend to marry me, you could just not have proposed! You could have said so earlier!But no, you have to do this the worst possible way! You leave me standing there under the arch,holding the ring!” Now she was positively shouting. Eric tried to say something, but she went on.”Youve DISGRACED me! HUMILIATED me!” she screamed. ”Youve made me look absolutelyRIDICULOUS! Me AND THE FAMILY! HOW DARE YOU EVEN COME INTO MY SIGHT AGAIN?!?!”Cho yelled on top of her lungs.”Cho, listen”, said Eric. His voice was quiet but firm, and it worked, if only because Cho was badly outof breath.
    • ”Cho”, started Eric calmly, ”first of all, yes, youve got every right to be angry, heck, one could say youalmost have an obligation to be angry. There are more reasons for that than I can count, its perfectlyjustified and I accept that fully. If you choose to never forgive me, I accept that too. Ive earned it.”Cho was hardly listening, still steaming with rage and only waiting for an opportunity to launch ittowards Eric again. But he went on.”But. But if those are the reasons why youre angry, then Im sorry to say but... That only confirms mysuspicion that actually, I made the correct decision in the end.”
    • That silenced Cho entirely. The anger that had been visibly boiling under the surface was gone, likewashed away. All she could do was stand there and listen.”Seems that Ive got your attention, then”, remarked the professor drily. He sounded almost amused,as much as you can sound amused in the situation given. ”So it has crossed your mind too.”Cho didnt answer.”Yes, its all true. I left you at the altar, and I can imagine it must be humiliating, as you said. And Imsorry for that. And I know that youre the heiress of a Legacy challenge, and youre thinking about thereputation of the family; which Im sure I didnt exactly help either. But should those be the things youshout in the face of the man who left you at the altar, the first things you think to accuse him of?”Eric could see from Cho she was beginning to understand, or perhaps, rather beginning to admit toherself what she had understood for a while.
    • Cho was clearly out of the will to fight. All she ”Such as the fact that as much as you obviouslycould say to that was a quiet, frustrated: ”Why?” liked me and enjoyed my company, and as much as you might like to claim otherwise, you didnt”Why did I leave you at the altar?” love me. Or, maybe you did, but that was not the reason you wanted to marry me.””No. If you thought... thought marriage would bea bad idea, why did you propose?” ”But...”Eric sighed. ”Because I was in love with you, ”Its the truth, Cho. In this whole time weve beenCho”, he said earnestly. ”Because I was really, talking, have you once accused me of breakinghonestly head over heels in love with you. Maybe your heart? No. Why? Because it is not broken.I still am, I dont know if I can figure that out any Have you shed a single tear? No. And why?time soon. It made me blind and oblivious to Because youre angry, not sad.”things I should have understood, or maybe it wasthat I didnt want to see them.””Such as?”
    • Eric sighed. ”Of course, I realize that doesnt mean I didnt hurt your feelings, too. I know that I did,and Im terribly sorry. I shouldnt have let things go that far, I shouldnt have let my own feelings blindme the way I did. And last but not least, I shouldnt have just disappeared. It was the cowards wayout, and I was a terrible, terrible coward for not at least explaining to you how I felt, not evenafterwards.”My only excuse is that it was only at the wedding that I realized how things were. Something abouthow you looked at me told me that you were getting married for the wrong reasons, and perhaps I,too, was getting married for the wrong reasons. For wanting to please someone else rather than togenuinely, really, myself wanting to get married. I realized that being romance sims, it is not a giventhat either of us should be getting married. Maybe it is the right thing for me, maybe it is the rightthing for you, for both, or neither. But we shouldnt take it for granted, like I think we both did.”Eric lifted his gaze from his shoes, to which he had been talking for a while, to face Cho. ”Cho, I needto say yet one thing. It might be that getting married is, in the end, the right thing for you to do, or itmight not. I cant know that, only you can, and really, I dont think even you know that right now. If it isthe right thing for you to do, I only know one thing. Im not the guy you should be marrying.”
    • Eric was surprised to find that Cho suddenly looked, of all things, insecure. He felt a surge of guilt.Had he misjudged her? Had he maybe hurt her more than he thought he had?”Eric”, she said quietly. ”Im not sure what to say.” She seemed to shrink a little bit. ”Yes, I... think Ivestarted to realize that youre right, and had we gotten married, it wouldve been a very stupid, for usboth.” She swallowed. ”There, I said it.””Its not that I dont care for you, because I do. Maybe I was in love, even. I... I cant tell right now. Butyoure right, it wasnt the reason I was going to marry you.””I felt that as a Legacy heiress, I was obligated by tradition to get married. And I sort of... sort of sawmarriage as just a practicality I needed to take care of. With all thats been going on lately, I dontthink I can hold on to that view anymore. I mean, what I didnt realize was that by getting married toyou out of obligation, regardless of whether I actually loved you or not, I would have done wrongtowards you. Very, very wrong, and... and I was going to go through with it.” She held a long pause.”Im so sorry.”
    • ”Apology accepted”, said Eric quietly. ”I get at least some comfort from the thought that we were mostlikely headed for a disaster and barely avoided it. It doesnt make my actions any more justfied, ofcourse. I should never have let it get this far, or rather I should never have started it at all. I shouldhave realized... I mean, although we even talked about your feeling of need to get married, I didntproperly realize your state of mind and your vulnerability. I dont know if you can ever forgive me, butall I can do at this point, is apologize. Im really very, very sorry.”
    • Very slowly, almost a smile slipped on Chos face. ”And I should never have convinced myself, or you,that I have to get married, that we have to get married. Im sorry, too. So I guess were even.””I suppose.””So, what now?” asked Cho after a moment of slightly awkward silence.
    • Eric slowly reached out a hand. ”Well... Im not sure really. I think its probably too early to go forfriends?, so maybe we should settle for something a little less drastic for now. So... Ceasefire?”
    • As small as the change was, now Eric was sure that Cho was definitely smiling. She reached forErics held out hand with her own.”Ceasefire.”
    • At that moment, it became apparent to both Eric and Cho that Marylena had gotten tired ofeavesdropping.”I thought I heard you reach an agreement”, she said, and when Eric turned around, she saw herenter the room holding someone he was almost certain he knew.Marylena glanced at her daughter, and she immediately nodded her approval.”Eric, theres someone whod like to meet you.”
    • Eric couldnt but smile at the baby. ”Well hello there, little buddy. Im very happy to meet you too.”Without waiting to be asked, Cho told Eric: ”Its a boy, he was born in the afternoon when... that day.We named him Dirk.””Thats a very nice name, I like it.””Would you like to hold him?” offered Marylena.”Id love to, if you allow me”, replied Eric, looking happy. ”Im not sure how exactly this goes, so justtell me what to do.”
    • ”Now just nice and easy, have a steady grip, and try to seem confident. Hell notice if you dont andwont be happy about it.””Like this?””Yes, exactly.””Remember to support the neck.””Oh yeah, okay.””There. Now youre doing just great.”
    • ”Well hello, Dirk”, said Eric, smiling at his son. ”Heres Daddy. Things may not have been ideal, butnow I think we can get to know each other. Wouldnt that be nice?”Dirk cooed, and the three adults simply smiled at each other. Nothing else needed to be said.
    • From then on, a real feeling of peacefulness settled in the Bookacy family main. Things had beenfairly quiet before, but nevertheless there had been a tenseness in the air. Now it was gone, and thefamily could concentrate on their regular lives, and catch up with friends and family again.
    • On occasion, the friends and family also paid a visit. Those who could be torn away from admiringDirk may even have spent some time together with the adults of the house.
    • One of the regular guests was Count Pao. He was often there to see George, both on official matters,and otherwise.
    • Now that Cho and Eric were in speaking terms again, and Eric would frequently stop by to meet Dirk,the old couple of the house could also spend some time alone. Eric happily helped with the baby, andof course, there were still Cho herself and George. In fact, had everyone always been ”taking care ofDirk” any time they felt like it, the poor boy probably wouldnt have gotten any sleep at all.”Im really happy that they could settle things between them”, said Marylena to her husband onewinter night when they were just relaxing in the hot tub.”Me too. Even if Eric doesnt live here, Dirk gets to see his father often, and everythings easier if hisparents can come along”, said Baudolino. ”And it seems our daughter feels less obliged to do thingsthe traditional way these days. Maybe a full-blown disaster was what was needed to make her seethings differently.””Maybe. Or well, seeing to the result, it wasnt really a full-blown disaster.””No, not really. It seems everything is turning out just fine”, said Baudolino, flashing a happy smile asMarylena wrapped her arms around him.
    • The arrival of the winter and snow meant that it was time to enjoy some snowy activities. Dirk wasunfortunately yet too small to understand the joys of snow, but it was something that all the oldermembers of the family enjoyed from the bottom of their hearts.
    • And indeed, this included quite old family members as well.
    • After all, a well-made snowman cannot fail to bring a smile on the face of an adult, either. Or that wasChos firm opinion in any case.
    • And really, who says grown women cant enjoy snow angels, too, while they are at it?
    • After an enjoyable but cold day in the snow, the family quite appreciated having a sauna in thepoolhouse.
    • And before anyone knew it, it was time for the family to gather and enjoy catching up...
    • … as well as some fun and games...
    • … as it was time for Dirks toddler birthday. Cho was firmly of the opinion that her son deserved asmuch as his doting family around him as the house could fit, for his birthday.
    • And in fact, the house did fit quite a few guests these days. The kitchen was bursting with friends andrelatives, all of them having come to cheer little Dirk into toddlerhood.
    • ”Alright buddy”, said Cho, bending closer to the cake, ”Are you ready to blow out the candles?”
    • Apparently she took her sons happy eager look as a yes. The family cheering on the background,she took Dirk closer to the cake and blew the candles out for him.
    • The cheering may have been loud, but no one was cheering louder than Professor Eric Dallas.
    • And with the guests watching on, Dirk Bookacy spun from infant-age...
    • … to toddlerhood, all in a burst of confetti. While the guests helped themselves to the cake, Cho gavethe little man to Marylena for a change of clothes.
    • While the birthday boy was being gussied up, the guests had some cake and caught up.”So hows married life treating you, Claire?” asked Baudolino his niece.”Oh, not too bad”, replied Claire, grinning. ”I know I wouldnt have believed it when I was younger, butthis actually suits me. Im such a lucky girl to have found Trevor.”Baudolino smiled. ”Thats very good to hear.” He continued a little quieter, so that Cho, who was justcollecting some empty plates, wouldnt hear. ”Ill trust you to take care of your cousin a little bit okay?Shes doing a lot better now, but having a good friend like you never hurts.”Claire nodded. ”Ill do my best. Shell be alright, uncle Baudolino.””I know she will. With us all supporting her, theres no way she wont.”
    • Elsewhere, George was chatting to someone new, whod been brought home from work.”So youre all related basically?” the lady asked, stunned.”Well”, explained George ”I am not, naturally, but the rest, more or less, yes.””And soon”, interjected Chloe, who was passing by, ”well be a good many more.””I can see that”, said the lady, trying to count all the obvious pregnancy bellies present in the party.George laughed a little. ”It is, indeed, baby season in Alphabetia.”Chloe grinned. ”And were only getting started. Now if youll excuse me, me and my twin sister havemore havoc to cause”, she said and left looking for Calista. She silently chuckled to herself whenthinking about all the confusion theyd already sparked by wearing each others usual colors duringthe pregnancy.
    • Right then Marylena and Dirk made a final appearence for the guests, to show off the new style andsocialize a little before bedtime.There was a little bit of debating over who Dirk resembled the most, but the consensus was that hewas cute as a button, and had features from both his parents.When Dirk fell asleep being held by Claire, tightly clinging onto a lock of her hair, the adults decided itwas time to call it a day and thank all the guests for giving Dirk such a succesful birthday party.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~For those interested, Dirks statistics are: 7/9/8/1/4, which makes him an Aries.
    • The next day, Marylena found Cho in the nursery with Dirk.”Who is tickled easily, who is?” Cho teased the little boy, who squirmed with laughter.Marylena smiled. ”Here you two are, Ive been looking for you. Cho, you should start getting ready.Your father is now getting changed and well have to leave in less than an hour if we are to pick upthe Rileys as we promised.”
    • Cho turned to look at her mother. ”Oh, its that much already. I guess I have to, then”, she saidlooking slightly stressed, holding on to Dirk tighter. The boy didnt feel distressed at all, he was nowcuriously examining his grandmothers formal dress. It was a nice, bright color, and it glistened a littlebit. It was a nice dress.”Honey, I know you wouldnt want to leave him, but hed only get bored at the wedding, and Georgewill manage with him just fine today. And in the evening well be back again.””Youre right, Mom. Hell be fine”, Cho said and sighed. ”Alright. Ill go find George and then Ill getchanged.””Thats the spirit my girl”, said Marylena smiling, ”You wouldnt want to miss your brothers weddingnow would you?””Not for the world. Besides, Im pretty sure Chris would kill me if I did”, said Cho, grinning.
    • ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~And dear reader, this adorable picture of little Dirk is where I leave you this time. I hope you haveenjoyed chapter 34 of the Bookacy Family Alphabet Adventures. Thank you for reading, and welcomeback on board next time. Happy simming!