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Romancing the Apocalypse - Chapter 11
 

Romancing the Apocalypse - Chapter 11

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    Romancing the Apocalypse - Chapter 11 Romancing the Apocalypse - Chapter 11 Presentation Transcript

    • Romancing the Apocalypse Ch. 11 - Baby Trap (Gen 3 Jake and Melissa try to survive the Apocalypse and each other as Gen 4 grows up.)Welcome back to Romancing the Apocalypse! Episode 10 left off as Mel, distraught and overcome with the need for revenge, returned to her old stompinggrounds after Jake left her with no choice but to give up the job of her dreams. Will she go too far? Can they survive something even more challenging thanthe Apocalypse...each other?The Apocalypse Challenge can be found at http://apocalypsechallenge.boolprop.com. (11/22/2008)
    • I don’t care how much Jake liked his job, it wasn’t his dream. Being a Celebrity Chef was my dream. And calmly, rationally, he took that dream away fromme...no, it was worse than that. He had backed me into a corner, put me in a position where I had no choice but to put an end to my own dream.Powerless defined my life with him. Even the baby made me feel powerless. Before the engagement, things looked so promising, but we were going steadilydownhill ever since...
    • Meeting up with Hunter, I felt some of my power returning. I was finally back in my element.
    • Or so I thought...
    • “What’s wrong, you never used to be like this.”“I’m not blind, Melissa. It’s hard to miss that engagement ring...and dont you have a baby now?”Oh God, the baby. I was so intent on getting back at him, I had actually contemplated woo-hooing this guy...without birth control. I felt mortification at therejection and horror as I realized how close I had come to making the biggest mistake of my life.I gathered the remaining shreds of my dignity and managed to say, “You misunderstand, Hunter. I was merely glad to see an old friend.”With that, I turned and calmly walked out, all the while fighting the urge to run at full speed. The walk back to the car was the longest of my life.
    • I was too upset to drive, so I sat and thought about how I got to this place in my life...Being asked to move in with Jake’s family was the opportunity of a lifetime. What townie wouldn’t want the chance to live a life with a deeper meaning? Andthe opportunity to get the job I always wanted was just icing.
    • I had been eager to seek out Jake. I could tell he was attracted to me from the start, as were many others, but there was an aloofness about him. While a bitperplexing, that aloofness didnt deter me in the slightest...after all, the pursuit was as rewarding as reaching the goal.I really couldn’t understand it when he told me he wasn’t the nicest guy around. He was funny, talented, polite, never raised his voice, had nothing but nicethings to say about his family...except for Ciel, but I could hear the underlying affection even when he was bad-mouthing her. He seemed nice enough tome.
    • I set out to make him fall for me, and instead I fell for him.That’s when things got complicated. Up to that point I would have said or done almost anything to receive a declaration of love, but now I didn’t want myposition as a Mad Scientist to influence his feelings for me. For the first time, I did care. I wanted Jake to want me for me.Being a Romance sim, of course I didn’t have the best reaction to his marriage proposal, but I didn’t collapse at his feet in aspiration failure, did I? Thatshould’ve been a sign that I didn’t have this huge fear of marrying him. Why couldnt he give me even a little credit for that?He had warned me he wasn’t nice, and I had dismissed that warning, never thought of the subtleties of what it might mean. Cruel? No, I didn’t believe that.Selfish and thoughtless? Oh yes. And here I was...
    • I didn’t want to go back, but I had nowhere to go. I was trapped. Trapped because even though I was afraid of my own baby, I couldn’t bring myself to leavehim.And I am not a quitter.I started to head for the stairs, but the closer I got, knowing they would take me up to him, the more I could feel what little control I had regained slippingaway again.“Get a grip,” I repeated over and over, but it wasnt working... I could not get a grip.All of this was so unlike me. Yesterday...the explosion, the shrieking, no thought of even trying to persuade. He had been trying to calm me down about thebaby...the baby...so unlike me...Maybe it was the baby...no, not the baby, but the after effects of having the baby...While this made sense in my mind, it did nothing to calm me down... I was no more ready to go up those stairs than fly to the moon.
    • I won’t give up. I can’t go up there. Those two thoughts bounced back and forth for what seemed like hours.“I know youre upset, but you cant stay out here forever, Mel.”“Leave me alone.”I think I was starting to go a little crazy. Here was my tormentor, yet something deep inside was ever so slightly gratified that he bothered to come out tome.“C’mon, you’re gonna get sick.”By now I was freezing, but I couldnt move. I just stared at the ground.“I am sorry about your job. Please come in?”Tears returned for the umpteenth time. I refused to let him see me like this. I shook my head vigorously.“I’m sorry," he said again, then I sensed rather than heard him leave.The tears finally stopped after a few more minutes, and I tipped my head back and wiped them away. All I wanted was to go inside where it was warm.
    • I passed him on my way to the sink to wash my face. My hatred toward him wasn’t quite so intense when I saw him holding the baby, but the last thing Iwanted was to interact with him in any way.
    • The next morning I felt a little better, at least physically.I could look for another job, but anything I found would be meaningless to me.Giving birth to Mark didn’t send me over the edge aspiration-wise like I thought it might, like Jake even suggested it might, but he didn’t give me credit forthat either.I still hated him for what he made me give up, but it wasn’t right that Mark should pay for that. I decided I would take one day at a time and see where itwould lead me...
    • For the next couple of days I followed them around the house, watching how Jake took care of him, but keeping my distance.
    • Mark was a lot less fussy now, and Jake looked like he knew what he was doing. I actually startedwanting to try to take care of the baby myself...
    • ...until out of the blue, Jake walked right up to me.“Here, you take him.”The old feeling of panic came over me. I still couldn’t look at Jake. Keeping my eyes on Mark, I held him out. “No, he’s happy with you.”“Just keep him a minute. See? He’s just as happy with you.”
    • For once he wasnt squirming or crying with me."Well whadya say, Mark? Ya gonna give me a hard time?"He just looked at me quietly. I looked right back into his little face."Mel?"
    • Involuntarily I tensed up. I could tell he was getting ready to apologize again, but I wanted none of it.“Just be honest with me... If you had it to do over again, what would you do?”A look of genuine puzzlement crossed his face. “I...dont know.”But I could see guilt in his eyes.“I think you do know.”He said, a bit defensively, “I didn’t do it to hurt you.”“I believe you. Just don’t ever tell me you’re sorry about this again. It means nothing to me.”His jaw clenched for a moment, then he nodded. “Okay, if that’s what you want.”Whew. I didn’t fall apart. I had stood up for myself and made my point. Whether he really got the full significance of what he had done to me was stilldebatable, but it was a tiny step toward my making peace with it. And I had to make peace with it somehow or I would be making Mark’s mother the talk ofthe neighborhood. He didn’t deserve that either.
    • Not too long after that, Mark smiled at me for the first time and I fell in love.
    • The first time Mark said Mommy, I knew I wanted more than one. How I was going to go about getting another one was something I wasn’t ready tocontemplate yet.
    • Jake and I both were in love. Just not with each other.
    • Jake’s parents came over on Mark’s birthday.“Who loves her little man?”“Gammy!”“And who’s having a birthday today?”“Me!”“Thats right!”
    • I couldn’t believe how fast the time sped by, and before we knew it, our baby was old enough to go to school.
    • Kate was smitten with Mark, but she couldn’t pull all-nighters with him like Corey could.“Grandpa, it’s way past my bedtime.”“Psshhh...bedtime, shmedtime. Funtime, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. You ever been on an outing?”
    • “Guess what, Grandpa?”“What?”“You’re my first best friend.”“Can’t argue with good taste, kid.”
    • Jake and I hardly spoke except sometimes we shared little stories about Mark. What else would I talk about to him? His job? That would be a cold day.With so many days home together and as small as the house was, three levels made it surprisingly easy for our paths to rarely cross.
    • “Haley? I think I messed up with Mel big time.”“Uh-oh...that bad?”“You tell me. Say you and Blue both loved your jobs...”“We do love our jobs.”“If you had to choose between him keeping his or you keeping yours, what would you do?”“I’d say Slacker sucks.”“You’re a big help.”“Look, bro, I feel for ya. We’re two of a kind, and no doubt we’re selfish. Mom said I would have been an excellent heir, but I know better. I don’t envy youone bit.”“What if the job Blue had was his Lifetime Want?”“Jakey, you didn’t...ouch.”“So...?”“Well, I really love Blue, and I know he would do it for me, so...if it was his Lifetime Want, I probably would give up mine...I think...at least I hope I would...”“I knew it. $#%@!”“I give you tons of credit for trying. My advice for what it’s worth? If you want to make it with Melissa, hold on to her if she’ll let you, and get out from underthese godawful restrictions... the sooner the better.”Hold on to her...but Melissa, will you let me...?
    • Haley returned to her home where she and Blue were living the easy life of Apocalypse spares.“Would you say we’re happy together, Blue?”“If chronic heart-farting is any indication, then yes, I would say we are very happy. I’m curious, what’s up?”“Jake is having a tough time with Mel over there. It just makes me more glad than ever that we don’t have to deal with all that ridiculous nonsense.”“It’s not ridiculous nonsense, Haley, you easily could’ve been in his shoes right now.”“I know, and there is a point I’m getting at... Okay, I just want to say I love you, Blue, and I’m very glad I’m not in Jake’s shoes. Because seriously, with myback up against the wall, I would probably be horribly selfish...a real nightmare to live with...”“Dont be so hard on yourself, Haley. You were wise enough to know what was right for you, even if it meant being out of the spotlight, and in the end youmade me the luckiest guy in the neighborhood.”“ *sniff* No, I’m the lucky one.”
    • "Stupid Slacker... I wish I could get those darn restrictions out of my head..."
    • “What are you doing going to work? You can take maternity leave, you know.”“I’m having sympathy pangs for my brother, so I wanna see if I can make it through my pregnancy without missing work.”*ding-dong*“Oops, I’ll get that.”
    • “Mmm-ahhh... So does your sympathy go so far as to refuse a pizza delivery, Haley? Cuz I will if you want.”“Bring me that pizza!”
    • Some days were mommy daycare, and others were daddy daycare. This is firstborn Tyler.
    • “Okay, Trevor, you gonna be okay down here while I put big brother down for a nap?”“ghhh”
    • Uncle Nemo, who loved Simoleons, but seemed to love babies just as much, stopped by and autonomously took care of Trevor. Awww, must be those nicepoints. :)
    • “Sorry I couldn’t make it to your wedding, Nemo. Someone had to stay home with the kids, and I guess it was me.”“I understand...it was rather late at night. Too bad you couldn’t have been there, though. Believe me, ‘tense’ doesn’t begin to describe Corey that night. Nowthat Ciel and he are back on the ins, I can have fun with him again... I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like him. Not sure where he got the idea I would ever call himdad though, hehe, must think I have a death wish... But hey, other than that the wedding was great.”“I did appreciate the invite, but weddings aren’t really my thing. Honestly, I’d just prefer to stay home and play Guitar Hero or something...”
    • “Wait a minute... Guitar Hero...wedding... Guitar Hero wedding!”O_O ;)And now, back to the Apoca-lot...
    • More time passed and as I saw Jake’s devotion to Mark was the same as mine, bitterness no longer consumed me, but I didn’t love him anymore, either. Wewere more like friendly roommates, and Mark was our common ground, the bond that held us together. But I wanted more.“Stop it, Jake, I want to talk to you.”“I’m listening.”
    • Awkward and difficult didn’t even begin to describe the moment, and I blurted out, “I want another baby.”There, I finally said it.For the first time since that morning so long ago, our eyes met, really met, as in more than the quick glances we normally exchanged to acknowledge eachother’s presence. He kept looking, deeper and deeper, searching for what, I don’t know. I couldn’t take the intensity of his gaze any longer, and I avertedmine.
    • It had been so long since he had touched me. I thought not woo-hooing for what seemed like an eternity should have sent me over the deep end ages ago,but the memory of having the job that I loved so much for even that short period of time had somehow kept me sane.Now here he was, giving me the shivers, making me feel alive in a way that I hadn’t for so long, then he said:“I want another one, too. Mel, I’m sor...”I shook my head and he stopped.“Okay. But I don’t feel right that the kids won’t have my name, so...could we get married?”A feeling of disappointment so fleeting, I must have imagined it. That was it. Not that we were good together, or that he was falling for me again. Then I justfelt relieved. I didn’t want to be put on the spot, didn’t want to make a declaration of feelings that I no longer felt. I would marry him for Mark and the baby.“All right, but I don’t want a wedding...it would feel like a fraud after Ciel’s.”“...I agree.”
    • That night, right there, we got married. I considered it nothing more than a formality.“Come join me, Jake.”“I can’t.”“Don’t tell me you were expecting a different reaction? Especially with everything being so romantic and all...”“That I was expecting. No, something’s wrong...”As much as I adored Mark, I had denied my wants to woo-hoo for far too long.“Don’t be ridiculous, Jake! Get on this bed with me right now.”“Scoot over then.”“You know I can’t do that. Stop being so difficult, get in on the other side.”“It won’t let me.”“It won’t let you...you mean...the bed is glitched?!” Only the thought of waking up Mark stopped me from screaming in frustration.“What about the car? No, it’s too cold, forget I said that.”The build up, the let down...both got the better of me. I felt defeated.“Im tired, Jake. Maybe tomorrow we can figure out something.” I pulled the covers over my head so he couldn’t see me cry.Our wedding night. At that moment I felt we really might be doomed.
    • There was no maybe about the next day. As soon as Mark caught the schoolbus, we did figure something out. I was reassured that it was indeed the bed andnot us, at least not on that score.It turns out the upstairs bed was so glitched, Lorin couldn’t get rid of it without the help of ‘moveobjects’. Funny...all those years and Kate and Corey neverhad a problem with it....
    • “Yes! A little pinball, a little homework, then baseball!”
    • “Mom, I got an A plus!”“I’m so proud of you, Mark, but you need to find your dad. Mom needs to meditate.”Lorin here: I never grasped the Encourage interaction when Kate was growing up (or Ciel for that matter), so she endured her pregnancies without meditation (itseems like forever ago!). Melissa just meditated and breezed through hers. She didn’t urp even once with Mark, though she wasn’t so lucky after him.
    • When Mark told us he wanted to be a baseball player when he grew up, Jake played catch with him everyday after school.“C’mon, Dad, throw it harder.”“Are ya sure?”“Yeah yeah, I’m sure.”
    • “Ohhh...”“Where’d I get you this time?”“Da dose.”“Sorry, buddy.”
    • “Den stobbit. Your aib stinks, Dad.”
    • “ *grumble* How cub playing catch doesn’t bake be ady good at catch? *grumble* Catch, catch, here id is...Sib Ab-sur-di-ties - Catch.”
    • “Whed’s da baby godda be here, Bob?”“Anyday now. Hey, did your dad get you in the nose?”“Yup.”“Come on, let’s put some snow on it, get that swelling down. Then how about I make us some dinner?”“Okay.”
    • “How’s the nose?”“Better. Mom, do you love Dad?”“Mark! O-of course I do.”“Then how come you guys never do anything together?”“It’s so much easier for me with the baby if I meditate.”“You didn’t do anything together before the baby, either.”“Yes we did.”“Nuh-uh. Like what?”“Ummm...well...I guess we have too much fun spending time with you.”“Did you ever work?”I almost choked on my bite of salad. Years ago, I made a conscious decision to push down the feelings of sadness and resentment, and replaced them withMark, to a degree of success I was quite satisfied with. Mark’s question brought those feelings back to the surface with a vengeance. Struggling to keep mycomposure, I said, “Yes, I did have a job, a wonderful job. I was a Celebrity Chef *sniff*.” Quickly I looked down at my plate.“So that’s why you cook so good.”“ *sniff* That is indeed why. Would you like to sleep in Mom’s bed tonight?”“Yeah! I like sleeping next to the statue.”
    • “Hey buddy, sorry again about your nose.”“S’okay.”
    • Our next baby was a girl we named Shannon. She looked identical to Mark except she had Jake’s skintone.
    • And what a different experience I had with her compared to my clumsy and awkward one with Mark.
    • “Yay, I’m a big brother! Maybe Mom can play catch with me now.”
    • And how did Jake keep busy on his maddening six days off? Going after that elusive gold styling badge. He had tried every style in the catalog on me manytimes over, but it still eluded him.“So Willow, are we up-to-date with your look now?”“Ow, too many reds. Put the mirror down...I have an urge to go coat shopping.”He had quite a racket going. First styling, then...
    • babysitting.“Baby fix first, then coat shopping.”
    • “Jake, its so nice of you to give free makeovers. I can”t find a salon in this neighborhood to save my life.”“No problem, Jeannie. So how’s the web design business going?”“Funny you should mention that...it really started picking up when Melissa moved in with you.”“Good, good. Be sure to keep in touch... Well, I must say you look pretty darn fabulous.”“You really do have a flair. I wish there was a way I could pay you.”“Heheh, think nothing of it, Jeannie.”
    • “Aren’t you a little sweetheart.”
    • Before long, Shannon was a toddler.
    • “Gimme that birthday boy!”“Grammy-y!”“Gimmmeee...”
    • “None of the other kids’ grandpas have purple hair.”“I bet none of the other kids’ grandpas have a set of...these! either.”“EEEK! *giggle* ”
    • Mark grew up well, but I glanced at Jake almost guiltily when he rolled Romance. But why? It was nothing to be ashamed of. I was proving even my ownpreconceptions of Romance with a family were wrong. He would be fine no matter what.After a quick check of his bicep to see if he was ready...
    • He got his first job in the Athletic career.“Mark buddy, come here.”
    • And the styling started all over with Mark.“Whad’ya think? Good for baseball?”“Looks like I should be fishing in this hat.”
    • Next was Shannon’s turn to celebrate her birthday.“Oh Shaaaaannon, I have a birthday present for you...”“You do? Yay!”
    • “Now that’s a pretty kitty.”“Kitty! Yeah, Kitty.”“There you go.”“No, I wanna kitty! Get me a kitty, Daddy!”
    • Kim was our third attempt at lifting the Security pet restriction. She wasn’t a genius like Sake or Kobe, but after the airheads Tiffany and Moonshine, wewere grateful for average.“Pretty kitty.”*mewww*i pretty
    • Kim didn’t know any commands at first, and training her went slowly, but she was able to take care of her own needs unlike Tiffany and Moonshine. Nowthat there were four of us participating in outings again, Kim pooped out during training way before we did.
    • One day after school I heard Shannon outside wailing hysterically.“MOMMY, COME DOWN HERE. *sob* ”“Honey, what’s wrong?”“Look...Kimmy’s dead. WAAHHHH!!”“Kim is fine.”“You’re not looking! Shes dead!!”“Honey, she’s fine. Watch...here, Kimmy kitty kitty.”
    • “See? Your dad just taught her to play dead, that’s all.”“That’s mean, I was scared!”“Well, she had to learn it for her job. You want to sleep in the coffins some day, don’t you?”“Yay, coffins!”
    • “Bad Kimmy kitty. Don’t ever scare me like that again, ‘kay?”*meewww?* i pretty?
    • Mark became an overachiever with his Athletic job, but he got a chance card before his final promotion and unfortunately he was fired.“Sorry you won’t get to play baseball professionally, buddy.”“Meh, I wasnt really paying attention, I was one level higher than I thought. Anyway, I want to be a Rock God now.”“Rock God, eh? How about some shades?”“I’ll give ’em a try.”
    • And finally, we had Sara.
    • Genetics interlude. Here’s Shannon again. About Melissa’s nose and cheekbones...they really dominate a childs little face. I wouldn’t mind so much except the allkids I’ve had in this Apocalypse have identical facial structures as their siblings. I would have liked to see different genetic combos of the parents, but at least Idon’t have total clones, so I’ll stop whining now. ;)
    • Where did the time go? It seemed like only yesterday that Shannon was a little girl, and now she was a teenager.“Whad’ya say, ready for your birthday makeover, Shan?”“Ready for your gold badge, Dad?”“I love teenagers.”Lorin here. I have to apologize, I slipped badly when it came to taking pictures toward the end of the 4th Gens childhood. Shannon rolled Fortune with personalitystats 7/7/9/7/4, and Mark rolled Romance and is 9/9/9/3/4. I no longer have to roll, but I don’t really care what aspiration they are as long as they have a goodLTW, and I can always change them with the Orb if I want.
    • “So what do you want to be when you grow up?”“Chief of Staff.“”“Woo! That’s my girl.”“Are you finished with me? I gotta do some yoga so I can get a job... I need cash.”
    • Lorin again. What a difference a life stage makes, eh? All the pieces fit together nicely now.
    • Shannon found a job in teen Medical, and was our second overachiever. Too bad Jake and I never rolled the want for it.
    • Mark reached the top of teen Music just one day before he grew up.
    • “You’re a little princess, you know that?”“Pincess.”“Princess Sara.”
    • Shannon reached the top of teen Medical with plenty of days to spare. After that, she just had to hold on to it.
    • Kim reached the top of Security, lifting the final pet restriction. We all could sleep peacefully knowing we were safe and secure, in any bed we wanted,marking the end to coffin micromanagement.
    • Jake gave Kim to his parents. We missed having her around, but we had missed eating even more.
    • “Oooh, my niece wants to be a doctor. You’re so gonna love showers...”“Gee, you talk like you’ve had them before. Time to ’fess up, Auntie Ciel...have you?”“D’oh, I have a big mouth. Sorry, Shannon, you got me.”“So unfair...”“Don’t let it get you down. You know you’re going for one of the most important and popular lifts of the Apocalypse, don’t you?”“That’s true, I am, huh?”“Y’know, I have a hot tub in my inventory that I’ve been waiting to use when Medical is lifted. How about we celebrate with a hot tub party when you top it?”“You’re on.”
    • Pretty soon our baby Sara wasn’t a baby anymore.
    • “I think I’ll watch some TV.”
    • “What kind of movies do you like, Grammy?”“Well, to be honest I haven’t watched too many. What kind do you like?”“I like alien movies and spooky movies and funny movies. But my favorite is princess movies!”“Oh Saaarrrraaaa...”“Coming, Dad.”
    • “Whad’ya think, Sar?”“Come play with us, Danny, forever...and ever...and ever...”“ *shudder* No, we’re not gonna play with Danny.”Lorin here. I don’t think this style is exactly like the twins’ in The Shining, but everytime I see it, I think of them. *shudder*
    • “How about Princess Buttercup?”“Princess Sara.”“Of course, Princess Sara.”“My Westley will always come for me.”“Riiight...”
    • “Yes! Tee-hee, I know what this means...”
    • “I see our princess is a star student.”“So can I forget about homework?”“Not a chance.”“Awww...”
    • When Mark grew up, he jumped up to level 6 Roadie in the Music career.“Hehe, we’re the best family. You’re gonna be a rock star and I’m a princess.”“So what do you want to be when you grow up, Sara?”“I said a princess!”
    • “Hey, where’d the crown go?”
    • “I really think Mark is gonna do it. It’s only a matter of days now before we can finally see the sun.”“I can see the sun sometimes.”“Yeah, but it’s a cold sun, Sara. I want to see a sun I can feel, too.”
    • “Andrew, thank goodness you’re here. I need some serious dream dating for my birthday.”
    • Just one more and I think I can avoid the shrink...
    • “Hey everybody, I did it! I stayed in the green with a 10,000-point-Being-Uneducated aspiration hit! Yee-haw!”If you are wondering who the girl is on the left...
    • It was one of Saras newest homework stalling tactics...she started bringing kids on the bus home with her. When we saw one of them was her cousin Nicole,Ciel and Nemos oldest daughter, we were happy to let her stay for Shannons birthday.
    • “My mom loves these things, and my dad writes about ’em a lot.”“Now’s your chance to find out why. Blow, Nicole.”“Tee-hee!”
    • Fate can be so cruel. I almost lost it cuz I couldn’t go to college... now I look like one of those stupid professors.
    • They say dress for the position to which you aspire...I don’t know if it’s true, but it sounds good. I think I look pretty darn Chief-of-Staffy.
    • “You want a little more extreme? How’s this?”“Some new shades, and I’m think I’m done.”“Done today or done done?”“Done done, as in I’m never setting my butt in this chair again.”“Okay, I’ll accept that, but only because I finally got my gold styling badge! Woot!! Yeah, baby!”Lorin here. Jake got his bronze and silver badges easily a loooong time ago... I don’t know what took him so long to get the frigging gold one. I completely missedthe moment and the doo-dad *headsmack*. The only way I knew he got it was the want that had been locked since when he first returned from college(!) wentaway, and I saw it in his memory panel, right after "Sara Grew Up Well."
    • Mark brought home the Rock Hammer from work. After that, it was never quiet around here.
    • Mark, my joy, my sunshine, did it! He became a Rock God, clearing the skies and bringing back the seasons. We didn’t even need to buy a telescope tostargaze...Kate had given us one as an outing gift.
    • It was the proudest moment of my life. I loved my girls, but it was Mark who had kept me going during my darkest days, Mark who had really saved me.“Mark honey, it’s impossible for anyone to have a son as wonderful as you.”“Gee, Mom, what can I say but *ahem!* I think you’re pretty wonderful, too.”
    • “And now for some more good news...I’ve met someone.”“Mark! Who? Where?”“Dad introduced me to her. He said Vampa Sullivan met her way before he even met you.”I felt a lead weight in my stomach. “So you want to be the heir?”“Yeah, I’m willing to do it. It’s okay with you, isn’t it?”“Of course. She’s at the top of her career, isnt she?”“Yeah...”“.........”“What is it?”“I want to make something absolutely clear, Mark. Under no circumstances are you to settle for someone just because they’re in a good career. Got that?“After all we had been through...how dare Jake set up Mark like that? Oh, was I ready to give him an earful...“That’s funny, Dad said the same thing.”“What? He did? Well...he should. So tell me about her.”
    • “The first thing is, I can say without a doubt I’m not settling. In fact, we can’t keep our hands off each other.”“Mark!”“It’s true. I smooched her hello the second time she came to the house, even though she was just a friend. Heheh, I couldnt help myself.”“That’s no way to treat someone you barely know.”
    • “That’s nothing. Another time, before I could stop myself, I hopped into her arms.”“Mark! You know you’re not supposed to do that, you could have really hurt her.”“I don’t know what came over me, it just happened. I got down as soon as I could... she was about to drop me, her poor arms were so weak.”“Do you have any other confessions, any other tidbits to shock your mom with?”
    • “Not now, you can’t have it both ways. Either I’m settling or we can’t keep our hands off each other.”“Oh all right, I’m glad it’s the latter. Actually, I’m rather envious. Your dad and I were never like that.”I couldn’t believe I told my own son something so personal.“I’d have to be deaf and blind not to notice something is off with you two. Even when I was little I could tell.”“It’s not that bad...”As soon as I said the words, they sounded awful to me. Was that the sum of my life with Jake? Not that bad? I couldn’t bear the thought and changed thesubject.“So what’s her name? What does she do?”
    • “Jane Cho, and she’s a Business Tycoon. But don’t let the career fool you. She’s hot, she even has tattoos...she’s just my style.”“A Business Tycoon with tattoos...”“Neat, huh?”
    • “So you have no doubts shes the right girl for you?”“No way.”I was genuinely happy for Mark, but it made me sad that I had never felt anything near that kind of confidence and certainty with Jake.
    • “Mom, are you all right?”“I’m fine, Mark. It’s just...your dad and I...this house...sometimes I wish...oh, I don’t know... You’ve just given me a lot to think about, that’s all.”
    • I think I forgot to mention that I became a Criminal Mastermind, probably because the career was forgettable to me...I only did it to keep the weeklyprotection payments from increasing. How ironic that if I had waited to become a Celebrity Chef until after we had Sara, my life could have been sodifferent, so fulfilling, maybe even close to perfect. Now it was just not that bad.
    • Not that bad...Only I couldn’t sleep without the coffin anymore...warm, dark, quiet, incredibly comfortable, surrounding me like a cocoon...I couldn’t get Mark and Jane out of my head. He had all but gushed when he talked about her.Contrast that with my life with Jake... It was hard not to think this place had it in for me...in for us...The only thing that had ever worked in Jake’s and my favor was raising our wonderful kids.Not that bad? For God’s sake, Jake and I were sleeping in freaking coffins. I realized I had to get out of this house. I couldn’t leave before Sara grew up, but Iwas not going to stay for even one minute after that. I didn’t know exactly what I would do after I left, but I had an idea, and felt the first stirrings of hope.
    • Having a plan, something to look forward to, gave me peace of mind that I had never felt here before, and after a few nights I was able to break my coffinaddiction. Once I even dreamed that Jake was with me. I wasn’t sure, but it felt real...
    • Sara found another cousin, Nicoles younger sister Mina, to bring home from school, knowing we would be happy to have her stay as long as she wanted.Lorin here. Sara’s personality is identical to Mark’s: 9/9/9/3/4. I chose Popularity for her, but she got one of the LTWs I never want to try: Have 20 SimultaneousPet Best Friends. She used the orb until she became Fortune with a LTW to be a Hall of Famer.All of Ciel and Nemo’s girls are very playful like Ciel and very nice like Nemo. Nicole has ten nice points, and Mina is the “meanest” with seven.
    • “Owww! Stop it, Sara!”“Aw c’mon, my dad says a little noogie never hurt anyone.”“Cut it out or I’m going home. We don’t do noogies at my house.”
    • “You ever mop after a water balloon fight before?”“Nope. You?”“Nope. D’ya think it’s cuz I’m so neat?”“Maybe it’s just the nice thing to do.”
    • “C’mon, Dad. Can’t I skip it just once?”“Next time come up with something better than ‘Mina and I had to mop the yard.’ I didn’t let your brother and sister slack off, I’m not about to start withyou.”“Next thing you’ll tell me they slogged miles through six feet of snow just to get to school.”“No, that was me.”“Really?”“Heheh. Well, for one day it was...”“You only had to go to school for one day?”“High school, yeah. And before you say how lucky I was, just remember I had no friends from school. How would you like to spend all day everyday here athome? You probably wouldn’t even know your cousins if it wasn’t for school.”“Okay, Dad, I get it.”
    • Although the ground thawed out and grass started sprouting up, we could do only minimal landscaping. Still, it was so nice to be able to spend time outsidein the fresh air.Sara decided to change her hair and got herself ready to get a job after school.
    • “You’re new around here... I’m Mark.”“I’m Tiffany K.”“Tiffany? We had a cat named Tiffany once. She was about as sharp as a bowling ball...no offense.”“None taken. I’ve had my own problems with pets in my Apocalypse. Hey, I noticed it’s getting mighty warm around here, you must be a Rock God now.”“Yup.”“Ahh, so now you guys can go on vacation... they are such a welcome break from the Apocalypse.”“Vacation, eh? You know, Tiffany, that gives me an idea.”“You should go to Twikkii Island... I sent my heir Crystal and her hubby Zion there and they had a great time.”“So how are they doing?”“I don’t want to give anything away...her mom is doing good, though.”“What’s she doing?”“I don’t want to give that away either, but...can you keep a secret?”“Sure.”
    • “Whoa...that’s freaking awesome.”“Lorin thought so too. Hey, can I play your guitar?”“If you tell me more about the vacation.”“Deal.”Lorin here. If you want to know about Crystal’s mom, you’ll have to read Tiffanyk’s “Beautifying the Apocalypse.” ;)
    • .....“C’mon Tiffany, what about our deal?”“Just a little longer...”“I knew this would happen.”
    • “You know what, Dad? You should go on a vacation.”“Meh, I’d have to quit my job, and my work schedule already is pretty much a vacation.”“So? Really, don’t you get bored working only one day a week?”“I like being home with you guys. Besides, I never would’ve got my gold styling badge if I had to work a normal schedule.”“Wasn’t that really just to keep busy? I mean, you’re not going to use it for anything, are you?”“I could. Eh, probably not. It was more the principle of the thing.““I hate to break it to you, but we don’t really need you at home with us all the time anymore.”“Shannon, you wound me...”“You know what I mean. You were, are, a great dad. It’s just...don’t you want to get out of the house, go see another part of the world? I bet there’s somegreat places you could go now where you could forage for foliage heheh...”“You know, Shan, maybe you’re right.”“Maybe...you and Mom could go together.”“That’s a very sweet suggestion, but she wouldn’t go, not with me.”
    • After years of dining in frigid temperatures, early morning breakfast was beginning to feel downright toasty.“Mom, Mark and I think you could use a vacation.”“What a nice idea. We could all go together.”“Umm...we were thinking maybe you and Dad could go together.”“I...no, we couldn’t do that.”“Why not? You’re the one who said you and Dad and this house...”“Mark! I was...rambling that day.”“Sorry, but we can see you and Dad are in a funky groove here. Maybe getting away from all this would do you guys some good...help get you out of it.”“I said no...not alone with your dad.”“What if Sara and I went too? Ow!”“Sorry...accident.”Shannon glared at Mark.“We’d, ah, have to wait a while though. I’m getting so close to Chief of Staff now I can taste it.”“What about you, Mark?”“Nah, I’m ready to ask Jane to move in.”“You and Jane could go.”“I’m not ready to give up my job yet, it’s too fun. Plus there’s all the benefits to keeping it.”“...All right, all of us will go except Mark.”
    • The kids were right, there was some kind of funky groove Jake and I were in here, one that was very difficult to step out of. We were getting along fine now,if getting along meant hardly ever seeing or speaking to each other. The idea of going off alone with him, without the kids around, had almost sent me into apanic. But no need to panic with the girls there with us.The more I thought about the vacation, the more appealing it became. It could be a transitional step before I moved out...a place without pressure, withoutbaggage. A place that wouldn’t remind me of all the things that had worked against me...and us.
    • I’m pretty sure Dad will be on board, but Mom...I hope you’ll forgive us...
    • Now comes the hard part... First, wipe that grin off your face or she’ll never believe you got demoted...
    • “Id like to book a flight to Twikkii Island, please.”...“Just a sec... Jane, they wont need a hotel, we can buy our own vacation home, right?”“Right. Babe? Maybe this isnt such a hot idea...”“Shannon can fly out with Sara later if Mom freaks. And Im willing to take the risk...I have this feeling theyre never gonna make it if they dont get awayfrom here. *shrug* If it doesnt work...well, I feel better that at least we tried.”...“Yeah, just the plane tickets.”......Stay tuned as Lorin takes her Sims out on her first vacation ever!