Just in time for my CreMo goal, we have a new chapter.Previously, we saw how the Depression was affecting the residents of Massimchusetts. The Bradfordswere managing to get along until Jefferson lost his job. Nicky met Alice, one of his classmates, and theybecame fast friends. Phily, the last member of generation four, died. Prohibition came to an end andJames made the tough decision to run a gambling hall to feed his family, even though it went against hismorals. Cindy gave birth to redheaded twins, Dorothy and Daniel, and enjoyed motherhood as she hadn’tafter Nicky was born. Nicky decided he wanted to become a doctor when he grew up. There were babies,and weddings, and more babies. And Sterling was shot by a desperate man as crime increased during theDepression. While it wasn’t James’ fault, he bore the brunt of Viola’s anger when she heard the news andforbid James from seeing her family, claiming he was “too dangerous.” It affected Nicky the most, as hewasn’t allowed to play with his cousin Shirley, Viola and Sterling’s daughter. But Sterling had a plan, andhired James to be the clerk of his family’s store, hoping that getting James away from the illegal activitieswould get Viola to reconsider her ban of James and his family.Blanket warning about language, topics, adult situations, etc. James has only 1 nice point, and he likes toswear like a sailor, and Cindy’s a Romance Sim, with some type of purple-hearted want in her panel at alltimes. Oh, and just about all of generation 7 (except Nicky) are 1-nice-point-newspaper-thieves.And now, enjoy Chapter 25 of The Bradford Legacy.
“You did WHAT?” Viola’s voice got louder and shriller as she spoke her short sentence.Sterling’s face remained a calm mask. “I’m certain you heard me the first time. I offered James the clerk’sjob at the store, and he accepted.”
“How could you! He’s dangerous, Sterling. He almost got you killed!”“Viola, we’ve been over this before. The shooting was completely random and not James’ fault.”“Who knows what kind of hoodlums he’ll drag along with him,” she continued as if Sterling hadn’t spoken atall. “Don’t you realize how close the store is to the school? What if someone from the city follows himhere? What would happen then?”“No one’s going to follow him here; I made sure of that before I made him the job offer.”
“Why James? Couldn’t you have offered Cyrus the job? He didn’t have one at all!”“Viola,” Sterling said in a warning tone as he pinched the bridge of his nose.Viola continued as if she hadn’t heard her husband. “If you were going to hire one of my brothers, it shouldhave been Cyrus. He’s so much more dependable and reliable and…”
“Enough!”Viola froze. Sterling had never raised his voice like that to her before. She snapped her mouth shut andlooked at him with shocked eyes.“It’s done. James starts work on Monday.”“But…”“No. Viola, James is one of my best friends, and I couldn’t watch him suffer any longer at that hellhole. Mydecision is final.”
“I thought we were supposed to make big decisions like this together as a team!“Until you found out I hired James, you didn’t give two hoots about the store.”“Because he’s dangerous!”“He’s your brother!” Sterling bellowed. “How can you say things like that about him?”
Viola opened her mouth to rebuke Sterling’s remark, but the dark expression on his face stopped her.They glared at each other for a few moments.“I’ve never done this before, but you’re being completely irrational, Viola. I’m the man of the family, andyou have to do what I say. And I say James is working for me.”“I can’t believe you’re playing the ‘obey’ card,” she spat.“I can’t believe you left me no other choice. And while we’re at it, I say that James’ family is allowed tocome over here again. Seeing Nicky more would do Shirley a world of good, and I’m sure your parentswant to see more of their grandkids.”“Fine,” she said, her teeth clenched. She stalked over to the bed and pulled of a blanket and the pillowfrom Sterling’s side. “I hope you’re comfortable on the sofa in the study.” *****
Sterling shifted uncomfortably as he got up from the sofa. It really was too small to sleep on, and he brieflyconsidered the idea of purchasing a larger one. If Viola continued to be stubborn for more than a week,he’d do it. But now, it was more important that he get up and moving before Shirley or Howard realizedthat he and their mother were on the outs.He quickly stowed the pillow and blanket he used for his makeshift bed in a desk drawer, and went to thekitchen to start coffee. It was his excuse to give to the children, if either of them caught him downstairs thisearly.
Coffee brewing, Sterling headed upstairs to get ready for the day. He paused at the door to Shirley’s room,and listened. She clearly wasn’t awake yet, and he softly opened the door and went over to her bed.“Wake up, sleepy head,” he said, gently shaking her shoulder. “Time to get ready for school.”Shirley got up slowly, her face twisted into a scowl. “School’s no fun,” she mumbled.
“I thought you liked school,” Sterling said.Shirley shrugged. “I don’t have anyone to play with.”“What about Rosalie or Walter?”“Walter likes playing with the other boys better,” she said. “And Rose is no fun. She just wants to sitaround and talk. I used to play with Nicky, but Mama said I can’t.”
“Well, I talked with Mama about that, and you can play with Nicky again.”“Really!”“Yes, really. But it took a lot of convincing on my part. So how about you don’t go over to Nicky’s just yet,or bring him here. You can play in the schoolyard or at the park, as long as you’re home in time for dinnerand to do any homework you have.”
“Thank you, Daddy!” she cried, throwing her arms around his neck. “I hope Nicky gets to school early so Ican tell him. I just hope he wants to play with me again.”“Why wouldn’t he?”“He’s got a new friend, Alice, that he spends all his time with now.”
“I’m sure he’ll be glad to have you back as a playmate,” Sterling said. “But remember that he’s probablygotten closer to Alice during the time you two have been apart, so be considerate of that.”Shirley nodded. “Alice seems pretty nice, so maybe she can play with us too.”“That’s an excellent idea,” agreed Sterling. “Now get dressed and go see if you can help Grandma withbreakfast.”
Sterling closed the door behind him as he left the room. At least something good was coming from hisputting his foot down. And a good night’s sleep was a small price to pay for his daughter getting to playwith her best friend again.
Shirley hurried to school by way of her cross-lots shortcut. Her mother preferred her to go the long wayaround by the road when she went to school, as Shirley always managed to stain or tear some part of herclothes when she took the other pat. But today, getting to school with time to spare before Teacher rangthe bell was more important than a scolding. She wanted to catch Nicky and share her good news withhim.
She came around the corner to see Nicky and Alice sitting together on one of the benches by theschoolhouse, talking animatedly. For a moment, she hesitated. The possibility that Nicky would ratherspend his time with Alice than her was very real, considering how long they’d been forbidden from seeingeach other.She took a deep breath and marched up to the duo.
“Hi, Nicky,” she said.Nicky smiled brightly, and then his face became confused. “I thought you weren’t allowed to talk to me.”Shirley smiled back. “Daddy talked to Mama, and I’m allowed to play with you again.”“Really?” Nicky said, disbelief in his voice.“Really.”
Nicky let out an uncharacteristic whoop. “That’s terrific! We can build our fort and do all the other funthings we planned.”Shirley nodded, but noticed Alice’s downfallen expression out of the corner of her eye. She shifteduncomfortably. “Maybe Alice can join us too?”Alice looked hopeful at Shirley’s words, but she said, “Oh, I wouldn’t want to get in your way…”“You wouldn’t be, Alice. You’re my friend, and Shirley’s my friend too, so you should be friends with eachother.”
“I’d like that, Alice,” Shirley said. “I don’t have a lot of friends who are girls.”“Why not?” Alice asked.“Because girl stuff is boring. I don’t want to play with dolls or learn to sew. I want to build forts and climbtrees. I should have been a boy,” she lamented. “They have all the fun.”“I don’t know about that,” Alice said. “I have two older brothers, and all they do is work the farm. Theydon’t have time for any fun.”
“Huh,” Shirley said. “I guess it’s different if you live on a farm. So, do you want to help me and Nicky buildour fort?”Alice nodded. “I’ve never built one before, but I guess I can learn, right?”Nicky grinned. “We’ve never built one before either. We’ll figure it out together.”
At that juncture, their teacher came out onto the front steps and rang the bell, signaling the start of school.The three of them scrambled up the steps and into the school house, chatting about plans for their fort. *****
“There you go, Mrs. Howard,” James said as he finished tying up a bundle. “I’ll have the delivery boy dropoff the heavy parcels on his rounds later this afternoon.”“Thank you, James,” she replied as she carefully tucked the coins he gave her as change for her purchaseinto the small bag that hung from tattered ribbons around her wrist.“You have a nice day,” he said as she took the bundle and walked out the door.
James smiled as he moved out from behind the counter to tidy up the shelves. He wasn’t sure that he’dlike working as a shopkeeper, but he found that he was well suited to the job. It was nice to catch up withthe townspeople, and it was even nicer to have a job that allowed him to go home for dinner every night.Sterling had even trusted him with putting together and placing orders. All in all, he was satisfied with hisnew lot in life.
As he straightened out the bolts of fabric, he thought back to the day he’d told Russ that he was quitting.Russ had made no comment, but the cold expression in his eye had spoke volumes. James was glad he’dgotten the few items from the office he wanted to keep out the day before.At first he’d been worried about retaliation. He knew that Russ had ties to far more sinister business thatspeakeasies and gambling halls, and he worried not for himself but the rest of the family.When he’d confided his worries to Sterling, his friend had admitted that he’d done a bit of research intoRuss’ organization, and determined that James had nothing to worry about – those that quit and wereallowed to leave Russ’ presence were fine. If Russ wanted to hurt James, he would already have done so.
The bell over the door jingled, announcing the arrival of a customer.“Welcome to McCarthy’s,” James said.“Excellent,” boomed Sterling. “Do you greet everyone when they walk in?”“If I’m down here,” James said, reaching out his hand to shake Sterling’s. “What brings you in today?”
“Not much. I got out of court earlier than I thought I would, and I didn’t really feel like going home,” Sterlingreplied as he put his hand in the penny candy jar and pulled out a piece.“You know you have to pay for that, right?” James asked as Sterling popped the candy in his mouth.“I own the place you know, right?” Sterling teased as he reached into his pocket and tossed a penny atJames.“Vi’s still being…”“A bitch? Yeah,” Sterling sighed. “I just don’t know what to do to get through to her. She won’t even lookat me.”
“I’d offer to help, but…” James said.“Yeah, I know,” Sterling replied. “So I didn’t feel like suffering at home. Feel like supporting the new tavernowner and having dinner with me there? It’s only a few minutes until closing time.”James nodded. “Let me go upstairs and ‘phone Cindy so she knows not to expect me.”“I’ll take care of the register while you do,” Sterling said. “See you in a few.” *****
Spring came early that year, and even though no one was able to purchase her paintings, the vivid colorsof the season were too much for Viola to ignore. After Shirley was off to school, she’d turn care of Howieover to Melanie, and drag her small easel outside, eager to put the budding trees and flowers onto canvas.One afternoon, Melanie wandered outside while Viola was painting the sunflowers in the yard.
“Is something wrong?” Viola asked, glancing up from her painting.“Not at all,” Melanie replied. “Howie just went down for his nap, and it’s too nice a day to stay inside. Iopened the window in the nursery just a crack, so I’ll hear him if he starts to cry. Do you mind if I join you?”“Not at all. I’m not sure I’ll be much for conversation, though.”
Melanie sat on the bench, and watched as Viola mixed paints on her pallet, trying to create the perfectshade of green. Neither woman spoke a word, enjoying the sunshine and the sounds of birds chirping inthe trees.
Eventually, Viola put her paintbrush down and stepped back from the easel, inspecting it with a critical eye.“Very pretty,” Melanie commented. “Do you think you’ll be able to sell it?”“I doubt it. People still don’t have money for frivolous things like art right now. But this one wasn’t intendedfor sale anyway. I wanted to paint something for Shirley’s room.”“As lovely as the painting is, I’m not sure flowers are her thing.”
Viola chuckled as she joined Melanie on the bench. “No, they’re not, but I was hoping I might be able toinfluence her a little. She forgets she’s a girl sometimes. Yesterday, she asked me if she could wearpants, as she doesn’t like the boys to see up her skirts when she climbs trees and the like. Not climbingtrees wasn’t even an option in her mind.”“She’s just a little rambunctious, that’s all. I’m sure she’ll grow out of it in a few years.”“I certainly hope you’re right. I wish she’d spend a little more time with someone like her cousin Rosalieand a little less time with some of her other friends.”
“By that, I can only assume you mean Nicky.”Viola shot Melanie a look. “I would have thought that you’d have agreed with my wishes in regards to thatissue.”Melanie only smiled serenely. “That might have been true at one point, but if it still were we wouldn’t besitting her like this, talking about your and Sterling’s daughter.”
“It’s pretty presumptuous to think that Sterling wouldn’t have married me if you were still…the way youwere.”“I would never presume such a thing. I was merely referring to the fact that I probably would still be inSarsimsota Springs if that were the case.”“You would have done that, even knowing it would keep you from knowing your grandchildren?”“Of course. A parent will suffer a great deal to make sure their children are happy.”
Viola had no reply to Melanie’s remarks, and Melanie didn’t feel the need to fill the silence. In the distance,they heard the clamber of children’s voices, signaling that school had let out. Viola’s face twitched; bothwomen knew that she would be off doing something with Nicky before coming home.“Don’t you think this has gone on long enough, Viola?”“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Melanie looked Viola squarely in the eye. “I’m referring to your irrational insistence that you hold on to thenon-existent grudge you’re bearing towards your brother, and how it’s affecting both your family and his.”“You’re not exactly in a position to talk about who I treat them,” Viola said, an unusual amount of venom inher tone.
“I at least had a real reason to be mad at your father,” Melanie replied, calm as ever. “He left me at thealtar. James, whether you want to admit it or not, had nothing to do with Sterling getting shot. And he’sfine now.”“But he was shot!”“And he survived. Viola, you’re only hurting yourself and those around you by keeping this up.”“He’s my husband. I could have lost him. You expect me to forget that?”“He’s my son. In your worry and rush to get to the hospital, you forget that I nearly collapsed from theshock of the news, and George had to worry about me while he was worrying about Sterling.”
“It’s not the same.”“No, it’s not. If something like that happened to my George, I don’t know how I’d react. But Sterling is apart of me in a way that George never will be. I carried him for nine months, and cared for him when hewas a baby. He has my eyes. I love George dearly, but in many ways I love Sterling more. I pray that younever know such pain, Viola. It’s unbearable to imagine losing a child.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Viola admitted.“I didn’t think so. To be blunt, you haven’t thought much about anyone but yourself as of late.”“I have been thinking about what’s best for my family.”“I see. And keeping your daughter away from her best friend and both your children away from their othergrandparents is what’s best for them?”“My brother got mixed up with some dangerous people, and I didn’t want them near my children.”
“Viola, do you honestly think that Sterling would have offered James the job at the store if he thought itwould bring any of those people anywhere near Shirley or Howie?”“He has no way of knowing if they’d come here.”“But he does. If you’d talked to Sterling, you would have learned that he had some of his associatesinvestigate the old speakeasy and those who worked there. Everyone else who has left Mr. Savages’employ has gone without incident or consequence. He knew there was no risk in hiring James, and if therewere he wouldn’t have offered.”
Viola sniffed. “Sterling should have told me that.”“He probably would have, if you had stopped yelling at him for more than five seconds.”Viola sniffed, but had the grace to look ashamed. “Perhaps,” she said slowly, “I haven’t been as fair as Icould or should have been.”Melanie just smiled at her.
“But what do I do now? I’m not sure I know the best way to go about fixing things, if they can be fixed atall.”“I’ve found that a simple ‘I’m sorry’ goes a long way.”“Really?”“It doesn’t solve everything straight away, no, but it’s the right place to start. After that, the words seem tocome easier. Trust me.”
Viola rose, and moved towards her easel. “Howie will be getting up soon, and Shirley will be home beforewe know it. We should start thinking about dinner.”Melanie nodded, and picked up the small easel after Viola removed the painting from it. “You’re right, ofcourse. You will talk to Sterling tonight, won’t you?”Viola nodded. “I think he’ll be home later than usual, as it’s his night to check the books at the store. Butyes, I shall speak with him tonight and go from there.”Melanie smiled again. “I’m glad. You’ll feel better after, Viola. I promise.”
Sterling didn’t make it to dinner that night. Viola wasn’t too surprised; since she’d thrown him out of theirbedroom, he’d often found excuses to dine elsewhere, either with one of his fellow lawyers or at the tavernin town with James after going over the day’s sales. Instead of worrying about it, she’d taken the chance toask Shirley how Nicky was. Everyone save Melanie was shocked by the question, but Shirley quicklyrecovered and began rattling on about the fort she was building with Nicky and Alice. George had silentlyquestioned Melanie about the turn of events, and her serene smile had given him the answer that he’dhoped for, that Viola was beginning the process of mending fences.
After tucking Howie and Shirley into bed, Viola took her time getting ready for bed. Sterling had developedthe habit of waiting until he thought she was asleep before coming in to get ready for bed, just like he didhis morning routine before she was awake. Knowing that he could see the light on in their room from thetavern, if that was where he was, she extinguished the lamps and let the light from the moon illuminate thespace.
Sure enough, about a half hour after she put the lamps out she heard the front door open and close, andthen Sterling’s familiar tread on the steps. As she was thinking about what to say, the bedroom dooropened and Sterling stepped into the room. He froze when he saw Viola standing there waiting for him;they’d hardly seen each other or spoken for several weeks.“I’m sorry,” he stammered. “I thought you were asleep.”
“You have nothing to apologize for, Sterling. It’s your room too.”His left eyebrow went up. “Could have fooled me.”Viola bit back the sarcastic remark she wanted to say. “I’m the one who needs to apologize. I’ve behavedabominably, and I’m very sorry.”
Sterling looked at her, slightly skeptical. “And what’s brought this on?”“Honestly? Your mother game me a bit of a lecture on the evils of bearing long term grudges.”The skeptical look turned into a smirk. “I was wondering how long it would take her to say something.”“Did you ask her to?”“No, but I saw the looks she would give you when she thought I wasn’t paying attention.”“Well, she is kind of an expert.”
Sterling chuckled. “Can’t argue with that. So is this really you being sorry, or something else?”“I am sorry. I let my anger get the better of me, and that was wrong. I’d plead worry as an excuse, butexcuses don’t help apologies.”“No, they don’t.”“I can’t promise that I won’t lose my temper like that again, but I will promise to try to keep it under controlbetter. My family deserves better. You deserve better.”
Sterling took her hand. “You have no idea how glad I am to hear that.”With her free hand, she smoothed his hair. “You look exhausted. Go get changed and come to bed.”“I’m not banished anymore?”“No.”“Good,” he said. “The sofa in the study is not at all comfortable.”“Maybe we should replace it then,” she said. “Not because I plan on making you sleep on it again, but I’msure we could find someone who could use the work.”“An excellent idea. I’ll make some calls tomorrow. But now, bed. I’ll be back in a few,” he said,disappearing into the bathroom.
While Sterling readied himself for bed, Viola turned down the bed covers and crawled in to her half.Moments later, Sterling joined her.“Ah,” he sighed. “This is much more comfortable.”Viola chuckled softly as she snuggled up to her husband. Soon, both of them were fast asleep.
It was the first good night’s sleep either of them had gotten in a very long time.
The next morning at breakfast, Viola was busy addressing envelopes for invitations to Howie’s birthdayparty later that week. As Sterling was preparing to head out the door, she handed him the stack.“Make sure you deliver the top two in person,” she said.Sterling glanced at the addresses. He smiled at her.“I’ll do it before I head into the city,” he promised, kissing her goodbye.
“As Sterling, George, and Shirley headed out of the house, off to work and school, Melanie scooped Howieout of his high chair.“Who were the invitations for?” she asked, fairly certain she already knew the answer.“James, Cindy, and their children, and my parents,” she replied, getting up to clear the table.Melanie smiled. “Just lovely. Now, I believe Howie and I will go build some block castles. We’ll beupstairs if you need us.”
Viola whistled as she washed the dishes. She was fairly certain that with Sterling hand delivering theinvitations, her family would come to the party. And then she would be able to apologize to them as well.She just hoped that they would be as willing to forgive as Sterling had been.
Howie’s birthday had been a roaring success. Marsha and Jefferson had arrived, with several ofJefferson’s homemade toys in tow. Nicky had made a beeline for Shirley, and the two of them had pokedaround along the edges of the pond outside the house until they’d been called in for cake. James andCindy had kept their distance from Viola, choosing instead to stay near George and talk about the store.When time came for cake, everyone gathered in the dining room to watch the tot grow into a child.
Little Howie seemed to get the best of both his parents’ features, and looked a lot like his sister.
After the cake had been eaten, Melanie took the dirty plates into the kitchen to wash them. The sound ofsomeone clearing their throat caused her to look up, and she saw Marsha standing at the kitchen door.“I know the role you played in helping Viola to see the error of her ways, and I wanted to thank you for that.”
“You’re welcome,” Melanie said with a smile. “It was the least I could do.”The two women stared at each other, an uncomfortable silence settling between them.“I suppose I should find Jefferson. He’s probably spending more time with the new toys he brought thanthe children.”Melanie just nodded. Marsha turned after another uncomfortable moment, and left.
Melanie went into the dining room to finish tidying up. She found George waiting for her, a puzzled look onhis face.“Everything all right?” he asked.“Of course. Marsha just wanted to thank me for helping to bring Viola around.”
George chuckled as he hugged his wife. “I never thought I’d see the day when Marsha Bradford would bethanking you for something.”“Neither did I,” she admitted. “But I’m glad things are back to normal, for now at least.”
James had kept his distance from Viola for most of the night, letting his parents have their time with herand the children instead. As the party started to wind down, he found himself in George and Sterling’sstudy, scanning the shelves of books.When the door opened he expected to see Sterling. When it was Viola he saw standing in the roominstead, he startled.“Sorry. I’ll be out of your way.”“It’s fine, James. I was actually hoping to talk to you.”
He raised his eyebrow, but said nothing. He gestured toward the sofa, and waited for Viola to sit before hejoined her.“I’m sorry for how I’ve treated you,” she said simply.“That’s all you have to say?”“What else can I say? That I’m a horrible person for letting my anger keep two friends apart, and keepinggrandparents from their grandchildren?”“It’s a start.”
“Oh, and you haven’t done something extreme when you’ve lost your temper,” she retorted.“No, but it doesn’t take me months to admit that I was in the wrong and apologize.”She opened her mouth to reply, then closed it again.“Look, Vi, I’m glad you’ve decided that it’s okay for Nicky and Shirley to be friends again, and that you’renot keeping Mama and Papa away from their grandchildren. But what you said and did stung. A lot. Youblamed me for something that wasnt even my fault, and you punished not just me but people that weren’teven there that day, people who didn’t deserve it. It’s going to take a lot more than a simple ‘I’m sorry’before I can forgive what you did.”
She nodded. “That’s fair. I suppose I’ll have to prove it to you through my actions as well.”“Yup.”She smirked. “I see that being married with three kids hasn’t improved your vocabulary any.”“What can I say,” he said, returning her smirk. “I’m a man of few words.”
Viola leaned over and gave James’ shoulder a gentle shove with hers. He mirrored her action.“We’ll be okay, won’t we?” she asked. “Eventually?”James nodded. “Eventually.”“Good.”They sat in companionable silence until it was time for James and his family to go home.
Just after Howie celebrated his childhood birthday, it was time for Gilbert Seiff to do the same.
Though his coloring came from his mother and grandfather, it was clear who Gilbert favored in looks.“He looks exactly like you did when you were his age, Taddy,” Lizzie said every day, going so far as to pullout old sketches of Taddy as a child to prove her point. *****
“You’re coming tonight, right?” Nicky asked Alice as they headed out of the schoolhouse at the end of theday.“For the hundredth time, yes Nicky. I’ll be at your birthday party. That’s why I’m going home after schooltoday, instead of going over to your house. I have chores to do, and my homework.”“Okay,” he replied. “I just wanted to make sure.”
“You’re not bugging Rosalie and Shirley about this. Why me?”“They’re family, and Uncle Taddy and Aunt Calla and Uncle Sterling and Aunt Vi will bring them with themto the party. But you’re coming by yourself. And you’re my best friend. You have to be at my birthdayparty.”“I’ll be there. Now I need to go or I won’t have time to do everything I need to do before it’s time for theparty.”They parted ways at the street, Nicky turning left to head down Main Street before cutting across the parktowards home, and Alice turning right towards the road to the woods at the end of town.
Nicky entered the house to the smell of baking cake. After depositing his homework on the dining roomtable, he scurried into the kitchen where Marsha was mixing a bowl of frosting.“Stay away from that oven, Nicholas,” Marsha warned. “It’s too hot for little hands.”“Yes, Grandma. I just wanted to see my cake.”“You’ll see it at your party tonight,” she said, her voice reflecting the smile that was on her face. “Why don’tyou go do your homework, so you can enjoy your party when it starts?”Nicky nodded, and went back into the dining room.
As the hour of Nicky’s birthday grew closer, Cindy found herself staring at her reflection in the mirror.James came into the room and slipped his arms around her.“No, you don’t look old enough to be the mother of a teenager,” he said, answering the question she’d beensilently asking for the past few moments.“I can’t believe he’s going to be a teenager,” she muttered, more to herself than to James.“Tell me about it,” James replied. “How did that happen?”
“We’re getting old, James,” she sighed. “That’s how it happened.”James let go of Cindy and flopped on the bed. “I don’t like it.”Cindy laughed as she sat down next to him. “I don’t think we’re supposed to like it, but there’s nothing wecan do about it.”“I don’t like that either.”
“You know,” she said, running her fingers along his jaw line, “Now that he’s going to be a teenager, I’mthinking I should start looking at coats.”James snorted. “He’s still completely oblivious on that front, doll. Don’t count your chickens before they’rehatched.”Cindy only smiled. “You forget, James, that Alice grew up on a farm. It’s clear that she’s interested in him,and she’s not going to let him be oblivious for too long. Plus, if she can show her family she has a reasonto stay here, they probably won’t send for her to go back to Simsas.”James caught Cindy’s hand. “No interfering.”“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
The doorbell rang.“Time to go play the proud parents,” James said.Cindy nodded and got up. “That it is.”
When all the invited family and friends had arrived, they assembled in the dining room to celebrate Nickybecoming a teenager.
Nicky took a deep breath, thought of a wish, and blew out his candles.
Nicky was just as handsome as a teenager as he had been as a child. Like his father, he decided thatincreasing the family fortune was the most important thing in life, though he knew that he would go about itin a more legal way. He was still just as serious as ever, and that led to a subtle change.“Please don’t call me ‘Nicky’ anymore,” he asked his family and friends. “It’s a name for a child, and I’mnot a child any longer.” *****
As the spring weather grew warmer, Marsha planted and then tended the family garden, though she was alittle slower in going about than she had been in years past.
Cindy would often help her, when she wasn’t seeing to the needs of Dotty and Danny.
Jefferson continued to work at his toy making, though it didn’t bring in much extra money for the family.Sterling had set up a shelf in his store for Jefferson’s creations, and it had helped in gain a bit moreexposure. But people still didn’t have a lot of extra money, and if they did they weren’t spending it onfrivolous things like toys.
When he wasn’t at his workbench, Jefferson was helping Cindy with the twins, teaching them the skillsthey’d need to be successful as children, and a few fun things as well.
Now that he was older, Nick took it upon himself to learn as much as he could about a variety of subjects.After all, he’d need to know a lot of different things if he wanted to be a doctor when he grew up.
And Dotty and Danny kept themselves busy with their play.
A few days after Nick’s birthday, it was Dotty and Danny’s turn. They had a small celebration for familyonly to mark the occasion.
Though they were twins, you would never have guessed it at first glance. Dotty favored James, whileDanny favored Cindy.
That night after the cake had been eaten, Jefferson went into the study to go over the family accounts. Itwas not something that he enjoyed doing; he was hoping to turn the chore over to James before too muchlonger. After all, Matthew had relinquished the task to Jefferson practically as soon as Jefferson hadreturned from college, and James was far older than that.
James came into the room, and Jefferson smiled at his son.“Did you need something, James?”James shook his head. “What are you up to, Pops?”“Just reconciling the household accounts. Why don’t you have a seat? You should probably start learningsome of this.”
“You’re all right, aren’t you?” James asked as they sat on the sofa.“Perfectly healthy. I’ve just been thinking about a few things. My father handed the responsibility ofmanaging the household funds over to me shortly after I finished college, and never gave them anotherthought after that, save for spending them,” Jefferson said with a dark chuckle. “It’s not something I’m fondof, I’ll admit.”“Then why not give them to me?”
“Well, it didn’t make sense at first, what with the hours you kept at your previous employment. And younever expressed an interest. But even though I feel fine, I am getting older. At some point, the family andits well-being will be your responsibility. So I’ve been thinking that it might make sense if you and I startsharing some of the tasks of managing things, so that you can learn and ask questions.”“Makes sense to me. So you’ll show me all the important paperwork and such, so I can learn it?”
“That’s the plan. Most of the paperwork is in the locked drawer of the desk; the key is in the box where Ikeep my cufflinks. George and Sterling’s law firm has copies of some of it, like my will. You can add yoursto the drawer if you want.”
James made a face. “I don’t have a will. I never even thought about it.”
Jefferson looked at his son. “No one likes to think about their own mortality, James, but making sure yourdescendants are taken care of is important. I’d suggest that you talk to Sterling about it sooner rather thanlater.”James nodded, reluctantly. “Nick should get the house, since he’s the oldest, but Dotty and Danny shouldget something too, just like you made sure Vi and Cyrus were taken care of.”“What you do with the house is up to you, James.”“But I thought it always went to the first born son.”“And it has. But things are a lot different now from how they were when John Bradford crossed theSimlantic. If you want to leave the house to Nick, that’s your right; it will be yours, after all. But don’t feelas if you have to. I’d be perfectly fine with that.”
“Well, I don’t think I’ll be the one to rock the boat in regards to that tradition,” James said. “But I will makesure that Nick knows he’s free to do what he wants with it.”“As long as it stays in the family,” Jefferson reminded him.“Of course. Someday, one of our somethingth-great grandchildren will brag about how many generationsthis house has been in the family.” *****
A few days after Nick’s birthday, Alice walked nervously up the stairs to the second floor of theschoolhouse. She’d celebrated her birthday the night before, alone with her extended family, despite herpleas that she be allowed to let her friends come to see her grow up. She knew that her family wasn’t aswell off as those of her friends; she knew they wouldn’t mind the small house and simple celebration thatmarked Alice’s becoming a teen. But her family was too proud to let outsiders in, so she hadn’t had herfriends there to mark her birthday.
She caught her reflection in the window. She didn’t look too different as a teenager, she thought. Her hairwas still bright red and the freckles that dappled her nose and face were still prominent. No one would callher a beauty, not with girls like Audrey Pasang or Shirley Alcott around, but Alice was always content withher appearance. But now she worried that it wouldn’t be enough to catch the eye of a certain blond-hairedboy that she had her heart set on.
Nick was sitting at his desk, nose in a book as usual. He looked up when he heard the click of her healedshoes on the floor.“Hey, Alice,” he said with a smile. “You didn’t tell me it was your birthday.” His tone was slightlyreproachful.“No, I didn’t tell anyone because there wasn’t a party or anything. It was just my family.”“Oh. Well, did you have fun, at least?” he asked, putting his book down and getting up from his chair.“It was all right,” she said.”
Nick looked at her with questioning eyes.“We had a nice supper, but no cake. And there was a letter from my parents.”“That must have been nice,” Nick prompted.“I suppose,” she said. “My Ma’s been ill; all the dust from the drought they think. Pa’s thinking aboutsending for me, since Ma can’t handle the house like she used to.”“But I thought they sent you here to keep you away from all that dust,” he protested.Alice just shrugged. “What can I do? If Pa wants me back home, I have to go. If Ma’s sick, they needme.”
Nick made a face that wasn’t quite a scowl. “It just doesn’t seem right, that’s all.”Alice had nothing to say, but inwardly she smiled. Nick seemed upset at the prospect that she might beleaving. Perhaps he cared about her more than she originally thought.
After a moment, Alice spoke. “I should find out where I’m sitting.”She walked up to the teacher’s desk at the front of the room, all the time feeling Nick’s eyes following her.She fought the urge to blush. With a little careful coaxing, they’d be a couple in no time, she thought.
Not long after Alice had her birthday, there were two more girls who became teenagers as well. First,Rosalie Seiff, Taddy and Calla’s daughter, celebrated her birthday.
Rosalie, like her cousin Nick, decided that fortune was the thing to strive for. She wondered what it wouldbe like to pursue a career in entertainment like her grandfather had, but she knew that no proper ladywould work in such an industry.
And just after Rosalie’s birthday, Shirley Alcott celebrated hers.
Unlike Rosalie, Shirley wanted to learn. She looked forward to going to college, and didn’t understand hercousin’s aversion to a career in entertainment at all. *****
It was all she could do not to stomp her feet in frustration. After enduring a night with her hair tied up inrags so it would be curly in the morning, and convincing her aunt that she was old enough to wear thefaintest hint of makeup, she’d practically strutted into school that morning. Today was the day, shedecided, that she would catch Nick’s eye, and he’d realize that he was as madly in love with her as shewas with him. And that would be the start of their happily ever after, just like in the storybooks.Things had not gone according to plan.
As usual, Nick’s eyes hadn’t strayed from the teacher or the lesson all day. They were doing somethingrelated to biology, which he of course would be fascinated by, given his inclination to go into medicine.Then there was algebra which would lead to higher math like calculus, another prerequisite for him if hewanted to become a doctor.She’d thought that when they broke for lunch he’d come over and talk with her as he always did, but no.He’d kept his nose in the darn biology textbook, reading ahead of what they’d already covered, and eatinghis lunch as he read. He hadn’t even really looked up when Alice had sat next to him and tried to engagehim in conversation; he’s simply nodded and muttered incoherent replies when she’d paused in herspeech. Frustrated, she huffed back to her seat, ignoring her lunch as her appetite had suddenly vanished.
When class let out, Nick hurried up to talk to their teacher about question he had from the biology lesson.Knowing that there was no way she’d catch his attention when he was busy picking the teacher’s brain.She picked up her books and headed down the stairs and out of the schoolhouse, a defeated look on herface.
“Hey, Alice,” Shirley called.“Shirley,” Alice heard Rosalie scold. “Ladies do not shout.”“Come over here!” Shirley yelled, ignoring Rosalie’s words.Alice walked over to the street where she joined the other two girls.
“We’re going to the drugstore to buy Cokes and then to look at dress patterns at Papa’s store. Do youwant to come with us?” Shirley asked.Alice shook her head. “I don’t feel up for it. But thank you for inviting me.”“Whatever is the matter? You were practically glowing when you came into school this morning, and nowyou look more like a wilted flower,” Rosalie commented.“It’s nothing,” Alice said, waving her hand in a dismissive gesture.
“Hogwash,” Shirley said. “Something’s got you upset. What is it?”“I don’t want to talk about it,” she began, but upon seeing the looks of determination on Shirley andRosalie’s faces, she knew there was no way she was getting out of talking about it. “Not here, at least.”“We’ll go to my house,” Rosalie offered.Shirley shook her head. “It’s too nice out today. We’ll go the gardens. No one ever goes there anymore.”The three girls turned and headed down the street.
“Now, what’s bothering you?” demanded Shirley when they were lounging on the grass in the town publicgardens.“Well, you know that I’ve been good friends with Nick since forever.”Rosalie and Shirley nodded.“I’ve realized that I’d like for us to be more than friends.”“Aw,” sighed Shirley. Rosalie just smiled in a knowing way.“But he’s so…engrossed with his stupid books that I don’t think he’s noticed that I exist in that way.”
“Well, what are you going to do about it?” demanded Shirley.“She’s not going to do anything about it,” said Rosalie in an exacerbated tone. “Everyone knows it’s up tothe man to make the first move. It’s only proper.”Shirley snorted. “But Rose,” she cooed, knowing how much her cousin hated being called by thatnickname, “Boys are dumb. If Alice waits for Nicky to realize that he likes her, and he does, she’ll be oldand grey.”“Well, what do you propose that she does?”Shirley grinned. “She needs to show him what he’s missing.”
“I tried that already. I got all dolled up today with fancy hair and makeup, and he didn’t look at me at all,”Alice sighed.“You can’t be so subtle,” insisted Shirley. “Especially not with Nicky. He’s…ugh, he’s my cousin and Ilove him but he’s so dense sometimes.”“So what should I do?”“Simple. Boys always want what they think they can’t have.”“Which means what for me?”Shirley grinned again. “We need to get you a boyfriend.”
The next morning, a nervous Alice walked into school with Walter Gavigan at her side. Shirley hadarranged the whole thing. After leaving the gardens, Rosalie grumbling about the evils of deceptiveness,Shirley had dragged Alice down the street to the Gavigan house – Shirley and Walter had become close inthe days when Nick was forbidden from seeing his cousin. In a few minutes, the whole situation wasexplained to Walter. He’d been more than happy to go along with Shirely’s plan, and judging by the lookshe gave Shirley while she explained it, Alice suspected that he might have had his own reasons foragreeing so quickly.At first, Nick didn’t notice Alice’s companion. But Shirley had anticipated such a situation. She pretendedto trip over a floorboard and grab Nick’s desk for support. Her actions caused Nick to look up just asWalter put Alice’s books down on her desk with a dashing smile.
Nick frowned, confused by the situation.“What’s going on there?” he asked Shirley, nodding slightly in the direction of Alice’s desk.Shirley turned to look to hide the smirk on her face. “Alice and Walter? No idea. They were talking afterschool yesterday, and then he carried her books for her today.”Nick frowned, not entirely sure why he was doing so.
Their teacher soon took his place at the front of the room, and Nick was forced to abandon his musings onwhy he was upset about the idea of Alice and Walter’s sudden friendship. It didn’t stop him, however, fromcasting sideways glances at Alice during morning lessons and suspicious looks at Walter. For the first timeever, Nick was not an exemplary pupil, and he didn’t raise his hand once to ask a question.At lunch, he watched as Alice and Walter sat on the grass, chatting happily as they ate. Nick had broughtan extra strawberry tart to share with Alice, but he couldn’t force his feet to move in their direction. Whenthe bell rang signaling the resumption of classes, he was the first one back up the stairs and at his seat.
When classes ended for the day, Nick watched as Walter sauntered over to Alice’s desk and collected herbooks. The two then left the classroom.Thinking he was alone, Nick sighed rather loudly. Why was this bothering him so much?“Something wrong, Nicky?” Shirley asked, startling him.“Yes…no…I don’t know,” he muttered. “I need to get home.”He grabbed his books, and hurried out of the classroom. Shirley went out to the upstairs landing, whereshe watched as he headed towards his house, at a pace much quicker than his usual gait.
Shirley smiled to herself as she walked out of the schoolhouse. After making sure that Nick was nowherein sight, she quickly crossed the street and knocked on the door of Walter’s house. Everything was goingexactly as she thought it would. She’s watched Nick all day, and his face and its expressions of confusionand disdain had spoken volumes. Though she was pretty sure he hadn’t realized yet why he didn’t like theidea of Alice and Walter spending time together, Nick was a smart boy. Hopefully, it wouldn’t take him toolong, and Shirley was prepared to gently prod him in the right direction if he got stuck. Another week or so,she figured, and Alice would have Nick, and Shirley would be able to take the credit.
As he sat at the desk in the study working on his homework that afternoon, Nick wasn’t puzzled by thecomplicated algebra equations. As he solved them, his brain was still going over what he’d witnessed inschool that day.Alice always spent her time with him, occasionally adding Shirley or Rosalie into the mix. But today, she’dignored him completely in favor of Walter.
Nick frowned as he thought his friend’s name. Why did she all of a sudden want to spend time with Walterinstead of him? It just didn’t make sense. Why had Alice gone to Walter’s house after school, instead offollowing him home? The more Nick thought about the issue, the more his head started to hurt.
He was so focused on what’d happened that afternoon that he didn’t hear his father come into the study.“Is something wrong, son?” James asked, concerned about the look of frustration on Nick’s face.“I guess so. I’m…it’s confusing, Papa.”“Do you want to talk about it? Sometime it helps.”
Nick looked up at his father. Would it help? Maybe his father would be able to explain the funny feeling inhis gut that he got whenever he thought about Alice and Walter. He got up from the desk and sat down onthe sofa. James joined him.“Well, I don’t think Alice likes me as much as she used to.”“What makes you say that?”“Well, she ignored me all day today, and all of sudden she’s spending more time with Walter Gavigan.”“And how does that make you feel?” James pressed, realizing with the issue was right away.
“I don’t like it!” he exclaimed. “She was my friend first! Why does she want to spend time with himanyway?”“But why don’t you like it?”“I…I don’t know. I got this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I saw them talking togethertoday. I just…she should be talking to me, I guess. We were friends first.”James fought the urge to chuckle. Nick was putting into words so much of what he’d felt himself whenTaddy had grown up before him and figured out what girls were.
“Well, son, it seems to me that Alice has grown up a little bit faster than you in some ways. My guess isthat she has feelings stronger than friendship towards Walter.”Nick’s frown became more pronounced. “But why Walter? I never thought…”“Never thought what?”“I guess I just thought that when that time came for…that that she and I would end up together.”
James muttered something under his breath that sounded something like, “I can’t believe I’m telling himthis.” He then cleared his throat. “Nick, have you ever told Alice that?”“No,” he admitted. “But why wouldn’t she say something?”“Son, women don’t always use words to say what they mean. Sometimes, they’re more subtle than that.”Nick thought for a moment. “Like they might change their hair?”James laughed. “And if you don’t tell them they look pretty you’re in trouble? Yes. Your mother does thatall the time.”
Nick was quiet for a long moment. “Alice started leaving her hair down the other day. She looked reallypretty, but I didn’t say anything. I probably should have.”James nodded. “Some women don’t like to be kept waiting.”“So she’s decided to move on,” he said sadly.
“Well, it might not entirely be a lost cause,” James said. “Do you have feelings for Alice, Nick? Do youwant to be more than friends with her?”Nick’s head moved up and down in a nod. “I think I do, Papa. She’s…she’s…she’s Alice.”James ruffled Nick’s blond locks. “Then tell her that. And pay attention to her. You have a tendency tofixate on things, son. Just don’t block her out in the process.”“What if it’s too late?”“Then you take it like a man, and resist the urge to punch Walter in the face,” James said matter-of-factly.“But if you don’t do anything, you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering what might have been.”Nick nodded again. “I’ll do it tomorrow,” he promised.“Good man,” James said. “Now finish up your schoolwork and get washed up for dinner.”
James walked out of the study, leaving a much happier Nick behind him, and headed into the dining roomwhere Cindy was readying it for dinner. He flopped down into his usual chair.“What’s wrong?”James smiled wryly at her. “I just helped you win your damn bet. I hope you’re happy about it.”Cindy looked at him, puzzled. James patted the chair next to him, and Cindy sat down.
“Apparently Alice is spending time with Walter Gavigan, and Nicky’s jealous, even if he doesn’t know that’swhat he’s feeling.”“And you, being the supportive father, helped him see what was wrong, and encouraged him to tell Alicehis true feelings.”“Yup,” James said, slinging his arm across the back of Cindy’s chair. “Hope you like your new coat.”Cindy leaned into her husband. “I’ll like seeing my son happy even more. Thank you for helping him.”
“Well, I do what I can,” James said with a certain amount of swagger in his voice.Cindy laughed. “Don’t be so sure of yourself, James,” she teased. “We don’t know what Alice is going todo yet.”It was James’ turn to laugh. “Oh, we know exactly what Alice is going to do. She’ll drop Walter like a hotpotato and run to Nick. It’s inevitable. It was a sucker bet, Cindy, but I’ll be happy to pay out on it.Because it will mean that our son is happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
Nick didn’t get that much sleep that night. He kept playing different scenarios over in his head, trying tofigure out what he was going to tell Alice. None of them felt right. As the sun began to rise, he got upreluctantly. He hated going into such an important discussion without a plan.
His lack of sleep made him slower than usual, and he barely made it to school before the bell rang. Hecursed himself silently as he took his seat; he knew that he wouldn’t be able to focus on anything until he’dtalked to Alice.
Nick was so busy focusing on what to say to Alice that he didn’t realize that class had broke for lunch. Hecursed again; he’d been hoping to catch Alice before she sat down to lunch with Walter. His stomach wastoo jumpy to tolerate food, so he left his lunch in his desk and headed downstairs and outside to where therest of the secondary students were enjoying their noon break.
Alice and Walter were sitting in a sunny spot on the grass as they had the day before, both smiling. Hehadn’t understood his father’s comment about not punching Walter yesterday, but it rang true today. Hewanted to wipe that smile right off of Walter’s face.
He took a deep breath and walked over to the spot where Alice and Walter were eating lunch.“Hey, Alice? Can I talk to you for a minute? Privately?”“Of course,” she said, getting up and brushing off her dress. She followed Nick as he walked towards thefields behind the schoolhouse.
When they reached the edge of the field, Nick stopped and turned to face Alice.“What did you want to talk to me about, Nick?”Nick opened his mouth, but no words came out. His stomach was all jumpy again, and he could feel hispulse racing. He fought to keep his breathing steady, but it felt like he was losing that battle.“Nick, what is it?” she asked, her voice softer this time.He swallowed, and realized how dry his mouth was.“Alice, I…”
Nick looked her at Alice, and got lost in trying to figure out how many shades of green were represented inher eyes. He wanted to count and see how many freckles were splashed across her nose. He wanted tocoax the contours of her pretty little mouth into a smile.He realized at last that the reason he hadn’t been able to find the right words was because there were nowords. He knew at once what he had to do.
He took a step forward and kissed her. And after the briefest moment of shock, she kissed him back.
They broke apart a moment later, shy smiles on both of their faces.“Be my girlfriend, Alice?”She took his hands and smiled bigger. “I’d like that.”
“But what about Walter?” he asked. “I thought you two…”Alice shook her head. “We’re just friends, Nicky.” She leaned in closer and lowered her voice. “I think helikes Shirley, to be honest, and hoped that by spending more time with me she’d realize that she liked himtoo.”
Nick looked at Alice, suddenly understanding the double meaning of her words. She saw the realizationcross his features, and she bit her lip.“It didn’t hurt that it made you come to your senses sooner either.”
Nick took Alice’s hand and gently pulled her back towards the schoolyard.“That’s okay. I needed a kick in the head anyway. You looked really pretty the other day, by the way.”“Thank you,” she replied.“Now, let’s have lunch. I’m starving.”“That sounds like a wonderful idea,” Alice agreed.
*************************************************************************************************************************We’ll end Chapter 25 on a happy note. I am really excited about Alice and Nick as the next legacy couple.They’ll be at the forefront of some pretty major plots that I have coming. I can’t wait to show you more ofthem, and the rest of their generation.You can leave comments on the Bradford Legacy thread at Boolprop, on my Live Journal, or on myDreamwidth, whichever you prefer.Continue on for some stats on the first teenagers of the generation, and more pics.
I think, for the major characters, I’ll do a quick stats recap when they become teens. Yeah, I know I put itall on my LJ, but some people don’t like to dig through that. So…Nick Bradford, Generation 7 heir, rolled Fortune as his primary aspiration. His LTW is to Become a SpacePirate (I was hoping for Chief of Staff but after James gave me what I wanted last gen, I wasn’t toohopeful). Turn ons are Good at Cooking and Make Up; turn off is Custom Hair. As a reminder, he’s aScorpio (10/9/9/0/7), and his Predestined Hobby is Science.
And if you couldn’t tell by the swagger, he rolled Romance as his secondary aspiration.
Alice Kalson, one of the newly spawned child townies from my rebuild, will be his wife. She got Pleasureas her aspiration, but that doesn’t matter. She’s getting Cheesed when they go to college. That’s the onetombstone I don’t have, and generation 7 is usually the last to die before the legacy’s over. While I’m notplaying for points, I don’t usually play Grilled Cheese Sims, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.Alice is a Capricorn (Maxis personality 7/4/1/8/5). I’m not sure of her turn ons and off, as I didn’t look atthem. I’m not a fan of the Slouch, so I’ve added a hack to prevent it.And as an aside, isn’t her outfit awesome? I would totally leave it as is if this wasn’t an historical legacy.
Rosalie Seiff, Taddy and Calla’s eldest, rolled Fortune as her primary aspiration. Her LTW is to be aPrestidigitator, like her grandfather Jason Seiff (I have to specify because her other grandfather is also aJason). Her secondary aspiration is Pleasure. I’ll admit I was hoping for Family somewhere with her, so Imay reroll in college for her.Her turn ons are Athletic and Good at Cleaning; turn off is Stink.As a reminder, Rosalie (don’t‘ call her Rose!) is a Sagittarius (3/4/9/10/1), and her Predestined Hobby isGames.
And last we have Shirley Alcott, Sterling and Viola’s daughter. She rolled Knowledge, and her LTW is alsoto become a Prestidigitator. Her secondary aspiration is Grilled Cheese (just like Sterling!), so she andAlice will get on very well. Her turn ons are Fatness and Hard Worker; turn off is Stink.As a reminder, Shirley is an Aries (7/9/9/3/1), and her Predestined Hobby is Sports.
And that really is all there is. James and Cindy are really enjoying the fact that they can have a radio now.Here’s hoping their dancing skills improve soon.See you next time!