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  • 1. Smoothie Sims, Inc. proudly presents… Elle’s Bachelorette Challenge - Day 3
  • 2. Immedi ately after the eli mi nati on, a gli tch i n the Matri x popped up, forci ng Mari na to fi x i t before the masses could conti nue thei r observati on of the bachelorette house. “How long w i ll i t take?” Azula asked w orri edly, afrai d a cri si s w ould come up w hi le they w ere offli ne. “Long enough for you to take a break and get somethi ng to eat w hi le you’ re w ai ti ng,” Mari na repli ed. “I’ ll get i t done before they get too far i nto the tea date, Zuzu, so relax.” “Let’ s get some food,” Domi ni c agreed, prepari ng to drag Azula off so Mari na could get her w ork done i n peace. “Azula, w hy don’ t you get the breakfast di shes w hi le I throw together some sandw i ches.” “Okay.”
  • 3. The tw o of them w orked i n si lence for a moment. Azula furti vely glanced over at Dom to see i f he w as as concerned as she w as, but he di dn’ t seem to be, calmly putti ng together the sandw i ches as i f i t w ere a normal day. “I don’ t w ant any condi ments on mi ne!” Mari na yelled i n from the li vi ng room. “Can do,” he called back. “What about you, Rhys?” “Mayo, tomato, and lettuce, i f w e’ ve got i t.” “Okay. Azula?” “Just lettuce i s fi ne.”
  • 4. The si lence fi nally got to Azula. “I’ m w orri ed about her, Dom.” “She’ s your si ster, of course you are,” he sai d soothi ngly. “Older si bli ngs are supposed to do that. I can’ t tell you how many ti mes I’ ve freaked out over somethi ng Kahlen di d.” Azula had to laugh a bi t. “Yeah, but at least your si ster know s how to get along w i th guys. I’ m afrai d I mi ght have done the w rong thi ng, encouragi ng Elle to do thi s.” “Azula, she’ s goi ng to be fi ne.” “How do you know ?” “Because my unfai li ng opti mi sm says so.” He tossed her a qui ck w i nk, and she laughed. “It mi ght be hard, but she’ ll get through i t. Thi s mi ght be just w hat she needs to gai n a li ttle confi dence i n herself.”
  • 5. “Mari na, I thi nk another gray hai r’ s comi ng i n. Could you possi bly hurry i t up?” “You are more than w elcome to fi x i t yourself i f you thi nk i t’ ll go any faster, fauxhaw k boy.” “Ha, at thi s rate I mi ght have to. You are so i nept w i th machi nes--oh hey!” The screen came back to li fe, focusi ng on Elle and the three men w ho had joi ned her at the tea set that day. “Inept w i th machi nes, huh?” Mari na sai d smugly. “Oh shut up. Yo, lovebi rds, i t’ s back on! You’ re gonna mi ss the good stuff!”
  • 6. “Go ahead and si t dow n,” Domi ni c sai d. “I’ ll bri ng the sandw i ches out w hen they’ re ready.” “Thanks, babe,” Azula sai d. “No problem. Let me know w hat I mi ss.” ***
  • 7. If there w as anyone less pleased than Azula about how the fi rst tw o days had gone, i t w as Elle, w ho spent the bri ef moments she had alone w hi le she brew ed the tea tryi ng not to be very, very hurt, and not succeedi ng at all. “’ Try grow i ng a spi ne’ ! ‘ You remi nd me of my si ster’ !” Determi ned that none of the boys w ould see her break dow n--a trai t that made her more li ke her si ster than she knew --she shut her eyes ti ght, w i lli ng herself not to cry, not to show that she w as upset. They w ould thi nk she couldn’ t handle i t, and that w as the last thi ng she w anted anyone to thi nk. She could handle i t, and she w ould i f i t ki lled her. When she thought she had herself composed, she called dow n for the boys to joi n her.
  • 8. She couldn’ t help perki ng up a li ttle w hen, after a bri ef scuffle, Akor, Ham, and Li am came up to joi n her. “Hey, guys,” she sai d. “Si t dow n and grab a cup.” “Thi s smells good, Elle,” Akor sai d, maki ng her happy that he w asn’ t i gnori ng her after the aw kw ard fli rt date earli er. “Thanks. I’ d never actually tri ed to brew tea before yesterday, but i t turned out to be pretty si mple, so. How are you guys doi ng?” Her answ er w as three vari ants on “Good.”
  • 9. “What w i ll you be i nqui ri ng of us today, Mi ss Elli e?” Ham asked. Akor looked confused. “Huh? What do you mean?” “Yesterday I asked everyone a questi on that w e all had to answ er to ki ckstart the conversati on,” Elle explai ned. “I fi gured w e could do i t agai n today si nce i t w orked w ell. Of course, Li am took i ssue w i th the lack of i nteresti ng questi ons I came up w i th yesterday, so today, I thought up a really good one.” “Okay, w hat i s i t?” She gri nned. “Would you rather si ng a ri di culous song li ke ‘ I’ m a Li ttle Teapot’ at the top of your lungs i n a very publi c place, or…bathe i n a tub of mud?” Li am i mmedi ately made a face. “You’ re ki ddi ng, ri ght?”
  • 10. “Nope. That’ s today’ s questi on. I’ ll start and w e’ ll go clockw i se thi s ti me. I thi nk I’ m goi ng to go w i th the mud, because no one has to w atch and I can w ash i t off w hen I’ m done. Akor?” He gri maced. “Nei ther sounds parti cularly appeali ng to me.” “That’ s the poi nt, i t’ s supposed to be hard.” “Well, i f I had to pi ck one, I’ d probably go w i th ‘ I’ m a Li ttle Teapot.’ It w ould be over w i th fast and I have better thi ngs to do than clean up the mess mud w ould make.”
  • 11. For Ham, the questi on w as easi er to answ er. “To be honest, I should much prefer the si ngi ng of a song,” he sai d, “and anyw ay I qui te enjoy musi c of all sorts. And anyw ay, bathi ng i n mud i s by no means di gni fi ed…or sani tary.”
  • 12. Li am di sagreed. “The mud. Defi ni tely.” He shuddered. “I agree w i th Akor. Nei ther one i s somethi ng I’ d enjoy. How ever, the mud w ould be i nfi ni tely less humi li ati ng. I don’ t have anythi ng agai nst musi c, but the last thi ng I w ant to do, ever, i s get up i n front of a bunch of strangers and make an i di ot of myself.” “You’ d never see them agai n,” Akor poi nted out. “I don’ t care, they’ d sti ll see. I don’ t w ant to be know n as ‘ the w ei rd guy w ho acted li ke a dumbass i n publi c and sang about as w ell as a cat’ to anyone.” “So you’ d rather be know n as ‘ the w ei rd guy w ho bathed i n mud’ ?” “It makes sense i n my head, okay?”
  • 13. After that hi ghly amusi ng conversati on, Elle headed dow nstai rs to set up the buffet for di nner. She w as busy w restli ng w i th the gelati n w hen she heard footsteps and a soft throat-cleari ng behi nd her. “Elli e?” “Oh hey, Abe, I’ m almost done,” she sai d casually. Maybe a li ttle too casually. “Mi ssed you at tea.” “Yeah, uh, sorry about that,” he sai d, soundi ng sheepi sh. “Maybe I should have got out that baseball bat after all.” “It’ s okay. Maybe tomorrow , yeah?”
  • 14. When she w as done, she turned to see hi m standi ng behi nd her. “You’ re not mad, are you?” he asked. “No, I already told you I w asn’ t,” she sai d seri ously. “Please don’ t w orry about i t.” “Okay. I’ ll try not to.”
  • 15. The arri val of the other guys defused the tensi on somew hat, and both Elle and Abe took a plate of food and sat dow n w i th the rest.
  • 16. “So, w hat are w e doi ng toni ght, Elle?” Li am asked. “Fi shi ng,” Elle repli ed. “Ri ght after di nner I’ m goi ng to head out to the pond out back, and then each of you gets to fi sh w i th me for forty-fi ve mi nutes and w e can talk about w hatever.” He looked a bi t dubi ous. “Fi shi ng?” “I’ ve never done i t before ei ther, don’ t w orry.”
  • 17. “Why, fi shi ng i s an excellent i dea!” Ham exclai med. “And i t i s not terri bly di ffi cult, ei ther.” “I love fi shi ng,” Akor agreed. “My brother and I enjoyed goi ng together from ti me to ti me. We took my si ster once, too.” Ham turned to Elle. “If one of us w ere to make a catch, mi ght i t be possi ble to substi tute i t for the buffet at one meal? Not that thi s food i s not deli ghtful,” he w as qui ck to add, “but w hen i t i s all one eats…” Elle smi led. “Tell you w hat. If you catch i t, w e’ ll fi nd a w ay to cook i t.”
  • 18. Di nner w as soon over, and Abe took i t upon hi mself to go around collecti ng plates. “Thanks,” Elle sai d, smi li ng up at hi m. “No problem. I’ ll take care of these, you go ahead and get started w i th the fi shi ng, si nce I’ m sure i t’ s goi ng to run late.”
  • 19. So she di d, and Stuart, w ho w as fi rst up, found her on her rear after w restli ng w i th the rod and losi ng mi serably. “I am so goi ng to have w ords w i th the guy w ho sai d thi s w as easy,” she grumbled. “Do you requi re any assi stance?” he asked, unable to help a smi le. “Ugh, no, i t’ s just that the ground i s w et and casti ng really threw me off balance.” “Please allow me to help you up, at least.” “Yeah, that’ d be great.”
  • 20. Stuart helped Elle get back on her feet and to recast her li ne, then got to w ork fi xi ng up hi s ow n. “Have you ever done thi s before?” she asked. “Not that I can recall,” he sai d, “but i t seems fai rly strai ghtforw ard. I suppose I shall fi nd out shortly.”
  • 21. And fi nd out he certai nly di d. “I told you,” Elle sai d, glanci ng dow n sympatheti cally. “I should say you di d. Well, now , that w as not pleasant i n the sli ghtest. I suppose there i s nothi ng left but to collect w hat remai ns of my di gni ty and try agai n.” “I w ould help you, but I thi nk I’ ve got somethi ng and I’ m afrai d i f I move i t’ ll drag me i nto the pond.”
  • 22. Nei ther of them got on very w ell after that, though. They spent more ti me pi cki ng themselves off the ground and detangli ng thei r li nes than holdi ng any actual conversati on. Fi nally, Stuart si ghed and reeled hi s i n to pack i t up. “I should go back i nsi de w hi le I am sti ll i n one pi ece,” he joked. “Wi ll you be all ri ght?” “I’ ll have to. I sti ll have dates w i th four more guys.” “Well, much as i t pai ns me to w i sh any of the others better luck than I had, I do hope you get on all ri ght unti l they are all over.” “Thanks, Stuart. I’ ll see you i n the morni ng.” “Good ni ght, Mi ss Elli e.”
  • 23. To Elle’ s di smay, none of the rest of the dates w ent much better. “Why are you all the w ay over there, Akor?” “I w ant to see i f the fi sh are bi ti ng any better over here.” “Oh.”
  • 24. “’ Not terri bly di ffi cult’ , huh?” “Oh…I thi nk I mi ght have i njured my tai lbone…”
  • 25. “Okay, so the li ne goes through the loops li ke--OW! DAMMIT!” “Let me guess, i t smacked you i n the face agai n.” “I am telli ng you, Elle, thi s thi ng hates me.”
  • 26. Abe w as last, and actually seemed to do the best of the fi ve i n regards to how w ell he took to the acti vi ty, but he seemed to pay more attenti on to doi ng i t w ell than to the person he w as doi ng i t w i th.
  • 27. When hi s turn w as over, Elle sent hi m i nsi de ahead of her and took her ti me reeli ng i n her li ne. “What ti me i s i t?” she asked her earpi ece. “Past one,” Mari na repli ed. “You can sleep i n tomorrow i f you w ant, though. ” “I mi ght have to,” she sai d, w i th a yaw n. “I’ m sorry that di dn’ t go better. ” “Yeah, you and me both. Good ni ght, Mari na.” “Ni ght, Elli e. Sleep w ell. ” ***
  • 28. Because Elle slept i n the next morni ng, everybody at the observati on house w as aw ake w ell before she w as, and Rhys and Azula passed the ti me getti ng acquai nted w i th each other w hi le Mari na moni tored the bachelorette house. “So tell me how thi ngs are now ,” Rhys sai d. “You’ re w hat, generati on 5?” Mari na shot hi m a Look he di dn’ t noti ce, or pretended not to. Azula di d a qui ck fi nger count. “Uh, I’ d be the fi fth generati on from you, yeah.” “And are you the hei r?” “Hell no.” She snorted. “Hei rshi p i s about the last thi ng I w ant. You couldn’ t pay me to take i t.”
  • 29. Rhys bli nked i n surpri se. “Why not?” “Because i t controls you. You have to do w hat’ s best for everybody else before you can do anythi ng at all for yourself, and stupi d Rai kov w atches everythi ng you do, so i f you sli p up, he know s i nstantly. My parents are terri fi ed of hi m.” She shook her head. “I can’ t take that pressure.” “Well.” He cracked a w ry smi le. “Hei rshi p certai nly i sn’ t w hat i t used to be.” Azula snorted. “When w as i t any di fferent?” “Oh, a long ti me ago, w hen I w as a ki d grow i ng up i n Authorland, w hi ch i s w here our fami ly came from before I left for Si erra Plai ns. I w as part of w hat’ s called a Legacy fami ly, and hei rshi p i n one of those fami li es pretty much consi sts of i nheri ti ng the house and the fortune, and maki ng sure the li ne carri es on.”
  • 30. “Huh. Interesti ng.” Azula sat back i n contemplati on. “See, that I could do.” “It does sound pretty si mple, doesn’ t i t?” “So w ere you the hei r ever, or…” Rhys shook hi s head. “No.” “Why not?” “I w as a late-i n-li fe chi ld born after the hei r for that generati on had already been deci ded.” “Is that w hy you came to Si erra Plai ns, then? To start your ow n Legacy or w hatever?” Rhys glanced at Mari na, w ho w as typi ng furi ously i n an attempt to i gnore them. “Not qui te,” he sai d. “It w as an opportuni ty to start over, yes.”
  • 31. “And i t w ent w rong w hen the pow er plant blew .” “Exactly. You’ re catchi ng on.” “Hey, just because I’ m a Populari ty Si m doesn’ t mean I’ m dumb.” They laughed. “So then, w hy us? Why do w e have to be the ones to fi x everythi ng?” Rhys hesi tated. Azula w as getti ng dangerously close to the ki nds of questi ons he di dn’ t w ant to answ er. “Because no one else could, really. Si erra Plai ns w as not a bi g place w hen I fi rst arri ved there and I’ m w i lli ng to bet i t sti ll i sn’ t. The mi li tary personnel w ere too busy tryi ng to protect thei r ow n i nterests, and they had almost everyone else completely terri fi ed of w hat could happen next.”
  • 32. “So w hat about you?” “Well, I’ m Rhys Fi tzhugh, obvi ously, and I do w hat I damn w ell w ant to.” He flashed her a small gri n. “I don’ t thi nk Rai kov li ked that about me, but I couldn’ t really say for sure. We di dn’ t talk much. I di dn’ t need hi s permi ssi on anyw ay; I di d w hat I had to, to survi ve. Somehow that ended up helpi ng everyone else too.” Azula laughed. “I alw ays knew that guy w as full of hot ai r.” “Oh yes. Please tell me you know the zombi es are harmless. That w as the bi ggest load of crap he tri ed to sell everyone back i n my day.” “Yeah, everybody know s that now . My aunt’ s actually w orki ng on a w ay to fi x them.” Rhys bri ghtened. “Good! That’ s the w ay a Fi tzhugh does i t.”
  • 33. Mari na glanced dow n bri efly at heari ng hi s reacti on, surpri sed. She hadn’ t reali zed Rhys had been so i nvested i n the fate of the zombi es, even though they w ere fami ly members. Most had been people he’ d hated, or w ho had hated hi m. Turni ng her attenti on back to the screen, she saw Elle sti rri ng. “Okay, she’ s up,” she i nformed the other tw o. “Fi nally!” Rhys hopped up from the floor and brushed hi mself off. “She sure took her ti me about i t.” “You are such a pai n i n the ass,” Mari na muttered. “You love i t,” he qui pped. She shook her head and turned on her mi ke. “Good morni ng, Elle. How di d you sleep?”
  • 34. “Yeah, I di d,” Elle murmured groggi ly. “Wha’ ti me’ s i t?” “Almost ni ne. I suggest you get up and dressed and start on your fli rti ng ri ght aw ay. ” She bli nked rapi dly. “Fli rti ng? Agai n?” “Yes, agai n. ” Grumbli ng, she pushed herself up and out of the bed. “Ri ght, because that w ent so w ell yesterday.” “It di d, Elli e. For one thi ng, you di d w ell despi te i t bei ng your fi rst ti me consci ously tryi ng. For another, i t helped you deci de w ho to send home. I’ m sure you’ ll feel more comfortable doi ng i t today. ” “But w hat about--” “Any i ssues the guys may have are thei r ow n. That’ s not your fault. ”
  • 35. “I guess that’ s true. It doesn’ t make me feel too much better though.” “You w ouldn’ t be such a ni ce person i f i t di d. After fli rti ng you send someone home li ke usual, then after that you’ ve got another tea date, and then after that I w ant you to spend a bi t w i th each of the guys talki ng about thei r i nterests. ” “Interests speci fi cally?” “Yeah. You di d a good job tw o days ago w i th the casual chatti ng and I li ke w hat you’ re doi ng w i th questi ons at tea, but now I need you to talk about li kes and di sli kes and see i f there’ s anythi ng you can’ t li ve w i th. ” “Okay, I can do that I guess.” “Aw esome, I’ ll leave you to i t. Shout i f you need anythi ng. ”
  • 36. When she arri ved dow nstai rs, she found Akor playi ng a soli tary game of pool i n hi s pajamas. “Morni ng,” she sai d, w avi ng. He looked up. “Oh. Good morni ng. I di dn’ t thi nk you w ere up yet.” “Yeah, I just got up a few mi nutes ago. Si nce i t’ s so late already I thought I’ d just start the, uh, one-on-one ti me ri ght aw ay. You can be fi rst, i f you w ant.” “Sure, I’ m just messi ng around here anyw ay.”
  • 37. Once they w ere alone, Elle reali zed just how shi rtless Akor w as and sw allow ed nervously. “Um.” “What?” “Uh, nothi ng, just…oh w ow .” He glanced at w here she w as looki ng and started, blushi ng a li ttle. “I can, uh, go put a shi rt on i f you’ d rather,” he sai d. “No, no, i t’ s fi ne, um…I’ m just not sure how I’ m goi ng to be able to say the li ne I had ready for you now .” One of hi s eyebrow s arched i n curi osi ty. “Oh really? And w hat w as that goi ng to be?”
  • 38. Taki ng a deep breath, Elle leaned closer. “You remember last ni ght’ s fi shi ng date?” “Yeah, w hat about i t?” She low ered her voi ce. “I w ould have li ked i t better i f you hadn’ t been so far aw ay.” He bli nked. “Oh. I’ m sorry.” “It’ s okay. Just, um, so you know . For the future.” She touched hi s hand bri efly as she pulled back, w ai ti ng w i th bai ted breath for hi s reacti on. He gave her a crooked smi le. “That w asn’ t half bad, as li nes go.” “Really? I thought maybe i t w as too si mple.” “Someti mes si mple i s good.”
  • 39. She asked Akor to send i n the fi rst person he saw that w asn’ t i n the show er or otherw i se busy, and that turned out to be Ham, w ho also w alked i n w eari ng hi s pajamas. “Oh, I do beg your pardon,” he exclai med, w hen he reali zed i t w as fli rti ng ti me. “I am not properly garbed--” “It doesn’ t matter,” Elle sai d, w i th a w ave of the hand. “You’ re w eari ng more than Akor w as.”
  • 40. “Sti ll, I should--” “Ham. It’ s fi ne. In the modern w orld, guys can w alk around w i th a lot less than you’ ve got on and get aw ay w i th i t. Besi des, I li ke your pajama choi ce.” “You do?” “I do. They look ni ce on you.”
  • 41. Very surpri sed, but not di spleased, Ham smi led a bi t, tuggi ng at hi s shi rt collar aw kw ardly. “You really li ke them?”
  • 42. Elle smi led and leaned a li ttle closer. “Really.” Ham practi cally beamed. “Why…thank you very much.” “You’ re w elcome,” she repli ed, i gnori ng the peals of laughter comi ng from her earpi ece. “You can go get dressed now , i f you w ant. Send i n the fi rst guy you see on the w ay, please?” “Certai nly.”
  • 43. Stuart w as next, and to her reli ef, he w as fully dressed. “Oh, thi s i s gonna be good. ” “Yeah, w here’ s the popcorn?” “No commentary from the peanut gallery! ” “Mi ss Elli e?” Stuart asked, w hen she di dn’ t say anythi ng ri ght aw ay. “What? Oh, sorry. I w as di stracted. Hi .” Thi s i nsti gated another burst of laughter from the earbud, and she tri ed not to flush w i th embarrassment. “Hello,” he repli ed, looki ng amused.
  • 44. “I’ m glad you’ re here,” she sai d, after she’ d racked her brai ns momentari ly for somethi ng she could say that she hadn’ t already sai d the day before. He smi led. “I am happy to be here, and happy that you are glad I am here.” “Well, I’ m glad that you’ re happy.” “Good.” “Yes.” She sw allow ed. “Um, di d you know that you, Li am, and Akor all do your hai r the same w ay?” “It must have sli pped my noti ce. It i s a very si mple style, how ever, so I am not surpri sed that other people use i t as w ell.”
  • 45. Elle took hi s hand w i thout thi nki ng about i t and leaned to w hi sper i n hi s ear. “Don’ t tell them I sai d thi s, but i t just mi ght sui t you best,” she sai d. When Stuart repli ed, hi s tone w as a mi xture of amused and flattered. “As long as you w i ll not tell them the same thi ng once I am not there to hear.” She laughed, a li ttle nervously. “I try not to recycle my compli ments. That mi ght be w hy I keep runni ng out of i deas.” “I am sure that keeps you honest, at least.” “There i s that.”
  • 46. After Stuart came Li am, w ho surpri si ngly seemed perfectly at ease w alki ng around i n just hi s pajama bottoms. When she commented on thi s, he shrugged and smi led. “I’ m used to i t. Everythi ng i s hand-me-dow ns w here I’ m from, so a lot of the ti me pajamas look ni cer than real clothes. No one really cares.” “Well, i t’ s ni ce to know that your clothes don’ t defi ne you,” Elle sai d, w i th a brave smi le, to hi de the fact that she di d care.
  • 47. Leani ng i n a li ttle more i nti mately, as she had w i th the other three, she took a deep breath to steady herself and surpri si ngly came up w i th somethi ng she could say. “You smell good. Li ke soap and clean li nen.” “Really?” Li am seemed very pleased w i th thi s compli ment. “I’ m glad you noti ced. I’ ve been usi ng a lot of soap.” “It’ s obvi ously w orked,” she sai d, hopi ng he di dn’ t hear that someone at the other house had once agai n burst i nto loud horse laughter.
  • 48. After Li am left, Abe w alked i n, maki ng hi m the fourth person of the day to come to the date w eari ng hi s pajamas. “PJs seem to be the ‘ hi p thi ng’ today,” she sai d, amused, and sli ghtly morti fi ed. “I w onder how I mi ssed the memo.” Abe laughed, a bi t uncomfortably. “I can go put clothes on really qui ckly.” “Nah, you’ re fi ne. I ki nd of thi nk i t’ s hi lari ous that they match your sw eater. It’ s a good color for you, though.” “Why thank you.”
  • 49. Hopi ng she had put hi m at ease, Elle moved to put a hand on hi s arm and w as surpri sed w hen he pushed i t aw ay from hi m urgently. “You know w hat? You’ re ri ght, thi s i sn’ t exactly a good thi ng to be doi ng i n pajamas. So I’ m gonna put clothes on. Yup. Be ri ght back.” And he ran from the room. Stunned, Elle sat dow n on the couch, not qui te comprehendi ng w hat had just happened.
  • 50. When Abe came back, fully dressed, he seemed perki er…but a li ttle too much so. “So!” he sai d bri ghtly. “Where w ere w e?” “Why do you keep doi ng thi s, Abe?” Elle asked qui etly. She knew that i f she w as goi ng to get anyw here w i th hi m, they had to talk about i t. The obstacle of hi s ex-w i fe just kept getti ng i n the w ay, and even though i t w asn’ t her fault, she couldn’ t help bei ng hurt by i t.
  • 51. Abe si ghed and put a hand to hi s forehead. “I don’ t know ,” he sai d. “Reflex. It’ s not you, Elle, i t really i sn’ t.” “Then w hat i s i t?” “It…I’ ve had flashbacks. I, ah, w ent off on my ow n w i thout telli ng anyone w hen Meadow …and then I had Chelley to focus on and I guess I never really processed w hat happened. Now i t’ s all comi ng back.” “I understand, Abe,” Elle sai d gently.
  • 52. He si ghed. “I know you do and I appreci ate that. But let’ s face i t. Thi s really i sn’ t goi ng to w ork, i s i t?” “I don’ t w ant to send you aw ay over somethi ng you can’ t help.” “But you have to send someone home. If you kept me over someone w ho i sn’ t havi ng my problems, that w ouldn’ t be fai r to you or to them. Would i t ease your consci ence i f I gave you permi ssi on?” “…I suppose so. As long as I don’ t have to li ke i t.” He let out a short laugh. “I li ke you a lot, Elli e. You’ re a ni ce gi rl and any of these guys should feel lucky to have you pi ck them. It’ s just not the ri ght ti me for me.” “Okay. I’ m, um, goi ng to get some food, and then w e can tell them.”
  • 53. Instead of eati ng, how ever, she just stared at the buffet for a w hi le, feeli ng very unhappy about the w hole thi ng. “I hate people someti mes,” she muttered, turni ng to call everyone to the li vi ng room.
  • 54. Whi le everyone fi ltered i n and sat dow n, Elle paced the room, i ncreasi ngly unhappy the longer she w ai ted.
  • 55. When they w ere all there, she turned, deci di ng to just get i t over w i th. “The guy I’ m sendi ng home has already talked about thi s w i th me,” she sai d, “so I don’ t really w ant to go over the reasons agai n. I di dn’ t w ant to have to do thi s, but I guess i t’ s necessary.” She looked Abe i n the eye. “Are you sure?” He nodded. “I’ m sure.” “Okay. Abe i s goi ng home today, then.”
  • 56. A couple of the guys had not seen Abe’ s di scomfort over the past day and let out qui et gasps of surpri se as he calmly stood up and crossed over to Elle. “Thank you,” he sai d. “I’ m sorry thi s couldn’ t have gone better.”
  • 57. Elle pulled hi m i nto a hug. “I’ d sti ll li ke to meet your daughter,” she sai d. “Well, call me after all thi s i s over and w e’ ll see i f w e can arrange a vi si t,” he sai d, smi li ng. “Okay. Come on, I’ ll call you a cab.”
  • 58. So Abe left the house, maybe not totally happy w i th how thi ngs had gone, but eager to get home to hi s daughter. Please let thi ngs go better tomorrow , Elle thought mi serably as she w atched hi m leave.
  • 59. “I’ d better go talk to her,” Azula sai d qui etly, getti ng up from the couch and goi ng over to the computer. *** And that i s the end of Day 3. Hopefully Day 4 w i ll be ready early next w eek. Unti l then, Happy Si mmi ng! Once agai n, thank you to Cai t for the lovely cover and to all the w ri ters for the loan of thei r Si ms. I’ ve been havi ng a lot of fun w i th all of them, and they’ re an absolutely lovely group ^_^ Turn the page for the scores -->
  • 60. “I w ould just li ke you all to know that I thi nk Stuart i s hot.” Scores Stuart - 92/30 = 122 (fri ends, mutual crush) Li am - 67/25 = 92 (fri ends) Akor - 49/18 = 67 Ham - 46/22 = 66 Abe - 13/17 = 30