St tot chapter 2 the joys of life

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St tot chapter 2 the joys of life

  1. 1. Welcome back to Standing the Test of Time! On the previous chapter, my founder Vlastimir attended Académie Le Tour, met Selena Baldwin, got engaged to her, and graduated from university to start his life in earnest. Anyway, on to Chapter 2!
  2. 2. Vlastimir surveyed his cabin and smiled. Now that his life had gotten more bearable at the moment, this should be the right time to invite Selena over and get married. After all, it would be inhumane of him to forsake the engagement he made with her. For a moment, he recalled the time before he discovered the cabin.
  3. 3. For about a week, all he did upon graduation was rummaging around for food and sleeping on an old sofa in a secluded alleyway, often feeling hungry and dirty. Even worse, he had to fend for himself from thugs trying to rob him from any money he had left. In response, he kept his engagement ring securely in his pocket at all times so that nobody would steal it. During these moments, he always pondered whether or not it was worth it to go to Académie Le Tour in the first place. The jobs associated with his major were unavailable to him for most of the time, meaning that he had to do what he could do to survive. Fortunately, he stayed away from criminal activities due to his lifelong disgust for such actions. Besides, Selena would be furious if he dared do such things.
  4. 4. However, things began to change for him when he picked up a newspaper on a sidewalk to see if there was a decent job that matches his aspirations. When he reached the job listing section, he saw an ad that caught his attention. Wanted: Violinist needed for the Swaggy Sari. To prove that the applicant is worthy for the job, they must play the violin in front of Sanjay Ramaswami. Pay: $452 per day. Lasts from 8 am to 10 pm. Once he finished reading the ad, he smiled a bit. This might mean the start of the road to a better life and, with luck, stardom.
  5. 5. Upon reaching the aforementioned restaurant through its picture on the newspaper, he saw a couple of bouncers guarding the entrance. After seeing them, he felt a cold shudder behind its back. Great, he thought, I thought this is gonna be easy, but here goes nothing.
  6. 6. As he walked closer to the entrance, the bouncers stopped him. “Who are you and what do you want?” the brown-haired bouncer asked. “We can’t just let anyone in unless they have an appointment.” As expected, these folks just won’t let anyone inside. Even worse, he was having a hard time figuring out what to say to these men. Should he tell them the truth about his desire for a job, or lie that he had an “appointment”? “Pardon me, sirs, but I heard that there’s a job listing for a violinist for this restaurant, am I right?” he said. “I wanna take that job. After all, I’ve been praised for my violin skills during university.” “Nice try,” the other bouncer said as he approached a flinching Vlastimir with his right fist ready to punch him, “but you ain’t gonna get past Big Moe here!” “Hold it!” cried a voice before the two bouncers could thrust their fists onto his face. That was a really close call.
  7. 7. The door opened to reveal a dark-skinned man walking towards Vlastimir. “Did I just hear a talented violinist?” he asked. “If so, follow me and prove it by playing the violin.” “Yup,” Vlastimir replied as he found his mood lightened up upon the sight of the man. “I’ll do what you say. It’s just that I ran into a bit of trouble with these bouncers.” “Never mind them,” Then he directed his attention to the bouncers. “You two, let him in.” And the two bouncers stepped aside for Vlastimir as they grumbled softly.
  8. 8. When they entered the restaurant, he was awed by its entire interior: vibrant lights illuminate the entire room, speakers were hung on the walls to allow customers listen to music, the furniture looked exquisite, and the customers all look fashionably dressed. This place is like paradise. “Follow me,” a low voice suddenly muttered, snapping him out of his amazement at the entire place. “I need to interview you if you want to get a job.” A job. Right. If this interview succeeds, then he could secure his job as the violinist.
  9. 9. Once they reached the office, the man sat down on the chair next to the desk. “Sit on that chair,” he ordered, pointing to the chair in front of him. “So, what brings you here?” “I need that violinist job,” Vlastimir quickly answered once he sat on the other chair. “For a week, all I’ve been doing was sleeping on the sidewalk and rummaging around for food. I even had to fend myself from thugs, leaving me penniless. I come here as soon as I saw the job ad on the newspaper.” “Ah, I see. Well, I certainly need a musician ever since my previous ones quitted, leaving the instruments unused. That would help me attract more customers. Here’s the deal: I’ll let you play the violin for the night, and you find a better place to stay instead of the streets. I certainly wouldn’t want to shock my customers by telling them where my violinist lives in. Also, if you played well, you’re hired for the job, so don’t disappoint me.” “Alright sir.”
  10. 10. After a change of clothes thanks to a spare suit Mr. Ramaswami gave him, he walked on the stage and played the violin. His skills had gone rather rusty due to the hitherto lack of a violin, but he couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to get a real job. And never mind the fact that there are no one else playing the other instruments; probably because they had a day off or something, but that didn’t bother him at the slightest bit. Once he started playing, he could hear loud cheers accompanying the sound of the violin he was playing. It finally worked to impress the clients! Perhaps his job as a violinist was finally secured.
  11. 11. When the restaurant was finally closed and all the clients and other employees left, Mr. Ramaswami walked towards Vlastimir with a smile on his face. “That was brilliant!” he praised. “I absolutely loved your playing! Judging by the cheering going on, even the customers loved it as well! From now on, you get to work here as promised. Now, go find somewhere else to stay other than the streets; I can’t let everyone know that you’re homeless, which will turn them away from this place.” Right. Find somewhere else to stay. He couldn’t recall finding an apartment with a vacant spot, so this should be a challenge. “I’ll see what I can do.” “Perfect. Once you’ve found a proper place to stay, come here tomorrow and tell me. I’ll tell you your work schedule once you’ve done that.”
  12. 12. Finding a proper place to stay proved to be really hard, especially in a densely populated city like SimCity. On one hand, it irked him to have to find a real place to live in as part of the condition to the job. On the other hand, it might mean a real place to live in other than the streets in the long run. After about an hour of searching around, he finally found a hostel, or so it seemed. He asked the landlord for a vacant room, and was led to several. He picked one that was smaller than the dorm room he stayed in during college, but certainly looks better than the streets he lived in and didn’t need much money to pay rent for.
  13. 13. On the next day, he returned to the Swaggy Sari to meet Mr. Ramaswami. “I finally found a proper place to live in. It’s a hostel across P.U.R.E., and they happened to have a vacant spot, so I rented it.” However, he was met with an eerily silent response that sent a chilly feel into his spine. Did he do anything to offend Mr. Ramaswami? Whatever it was, it was an accident; he never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings. After a few seconds of waiting, Vlastimir finally asked, “Is something wrong, sir?” “Oh, it’s nothing,” his boss shrugged it off. “I just want to say that you’re now officially hired. Congratulations! I hope to see you everyday except for Wednesdays; that’s when you get the day off.” “I’ll do my best to keep you and your customers happy.”
  14. 14. Afterwards, Vlastimir regularly performed at the Swaggy Sari as a violinist, alluring countless customers with the tune of the violin. The fact that he was the only musician working in the restaurant didn’t bother him at all. In fact, he still played the violin like there was no problem about it. With an enjoyable job, decent place to live, and respect from lots of people, he was sure that his life ahead will be a bright one. Ah, such is the life.
  15. 15. On one particular night, Mr. Ramaswami approached him after his shift had ended. “Son,” he said, “I noticed how hardworking you are and I’m thoroughly proud of you. As a reward for your undying diligence, I’ve decided to give you a better home than the hostel you’re staying in.” “A better home?” Vlastimir replied with his eyes wide open, “Look, you don’t have to give me such a grandiose gift.” “Please take the offer. From what I’ve seen, you’re the only one in this city who deserves it.” Upon hearing those words, thoughts of Selena and her potential opinions about entered his mind, and he backed down. “Alright, sir. Tell me more about it.” “It’s basically a nice little cabin nestled in a nearby forested area called Verdant Cliffs. It was my summer home until an earthquake destroyed the area five years ago, forcing everyone to abandon it. I’ve always wanted to move back and renovate it, what it its deteriorating condition and all, but with a pregnant wife to take care of and the declining number of customers I have recently, I simply don’t have enough time and money to do it.”
  16. 16. “I accept your offer, Mr. Ramaswami,” he said as he shook hands with his boss. “Excellent! Here are the directions to the cabin: From here, go right and then turn left as if you’re going to the LuLu Lounge. However, keep going until you’ve reached two roads heading towards left and right. Go to the right and keep going for an hour until you’ve reached some grassland. Once you’ve met the second intersection there, turn left, then turn right to the bridge, and then cross it to turn left to find a cabin to the right from there. From my estimation, it will take a total of two hours to make the trip from here to the cabin. Make sure you make this journey in the morning. After all, it’s not safe to travel alone at night.” “I see. Very well, then. I’ll go there when I have a day off.”
  17. 17. On Wednesday, when he had a day off, Vlastimir set out for Verdant Cliffs to search for the cabin Mr. Ramaswami had offered him.
  18. 18. The trip to the cabin took a couple of hours, just like Mr. Ramaswami had said. Upon entering it, he found out that the cabin was just as how his boss described. The whole interior was in complete shambles: there’s a putrid stench permeating throughout the house, there are various kinds of objects lying around the floor, and the walls, ceiling, and floor are completely dilapidated. I guess it’s time to clean up this entire mess if I were to live here, he thought.
  19. 19. One by one, he cleaned up the mess all over the cabin. First, he started with the broken pieces lying around because he could get his feet injured by stepping on them if he let them lie around. Once he got that done, he cleaned up the bathroom, where the putrid stench came from. Afterwards, he installed new wallpaper, flooring, ceilings, and furniture to replace the old ones. Last of all, he bought other kinds of items for the cabin to make it livable.
  20. 20. Once the entire renovation was done, he invited Mr. Ramaswami over. After inspecting the entire house, he finally turned to Vlastimir. “Son, I’m so proud of what you’ve done to this cabin,” he said cheerfully as he gave him a nice warm hug. “It may not look exactly like how it looked like when it was my summer home, but I’m glad you did your best. As promised, it’s all yours, so feel free to remodel it for as much as you like.” “Thank you, sir,” Vlastimir replied. “The pleasure is all mine.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  21. 21. Now that he had finished remembering these days, Vlastimir got dressed in his suit and picked up his phone to call Selena. “Hey, Selena,” he called. “Vlastimir?” a high-pitched voice from the other line responded. “Is that really you? Gosh, I haven’t heard from you for ages!” “Yup, it is. It’s been quite a long time, huh? Would you like to come over and… umm… you know what I mean.” “Oh, definitely! I’ve been dreaming for this moment for ages! By the way, can you tell me the directions to your place? I need some help going there.” “Or how about we rendezvous at a certain place instead? From there, I can take you to where I live.” “Sounds fine to me. Let’s meet at the Maple Springs Pool and Spa, shall we? I just purchased the gown.”
  22. 22. Once he reached the entrance of the spa, he saw a familiar-looking redhead at the entrance. As he approached her, he saw that it was Selena looking lustrous in her wedding gown. “You look radiant, Selena,” he complimented. “Would you mind if I give you a ride to my home?” “Sure thing,” she beamed, “And thanks for the compliment! By the way, you look dashing today, handsome.” “Thank you. Shall we head back for the festivities? I’ve invited the guests already, so they’ll be there in no time.” “Let’s go, then. We certainly don’t want them to wait at all.”
  23. 23. The sun was setting when they finally arrived at the cabin. Amidst the crowd of onlookers, the young couple smiled at each other. “Are you nervous, my dear?” asked Vlastimir. “A bit,” Selena replied. “I just haven’t rehearsed this thing yet.” “You’ll be fine, I promise. By the way, shall we start now?” “Of course.”
  24. 24. “Selena Baldwin,” he extended his right hand to his bride, “Will you do the honor of becoming my wife?” “Yes,” she replied. “And will you do the honor of becoming my husband?” “Of course.”
  25. 25. “And now I pronounce you my wife,” he proclaimed. “And now I pronounce you my husband.”
  26. 26. Once they exchanged vows, the new couple kissed each other amidst the cheers of the guests. In everybody’s eyes, they are indeed a match made in heaven.
  27. 27. Afterwards, the newlyweds walked towards the wedding cake, and Vlastimir cut a piece of it and fed his bride a spoonful of it. “How does it taste like, honey?” he asked. “Very… tasty,” her voice was muffled in between munches. “In fact, don’t you know that orange happens to be my favorite flavor? I’m so proud of you for the wedding cake!” “Heh, no problem. I don’t know that before, but it’s nice to hear that you love orange. I guess it’s one of the most delicious fruits, isn’t it?” “That it is. Let’s go inside and serve the guests cake. We don’t want them to starve. Besides, tonight’s feeling a bit chilly.”
  28. 28. Everyone grabbed a piece of cake and ate together at the dining room. As they were sitting down, Vlastimir turned toward his long-time friend. “Randall, my buddy! How’s your life been doing for you so far? And how’s the Greek house? Have you been taking care of it?” “It’s going well,” he smiled as he turned towards his best friend. It sure has been quite a while since he had heard of him, “And I can assure you that your Greek house is still looking fine.” “That’s good. Randall, Selena, meet my employer Mr. Ramaswami. Mr. Ramaswami, meet my friend Randall and my wife Selena.” “Nice to meet you two,” said Mr. Ramaswami in between munches. “Nice to meet you too, sir,” replied Selena and Randall.
  29. 29. “You know,” Randall muttered somewhat solemnly, “I’m glad you’ve invited me to your wedding, Vlastimir. I’ve realized that along with the school programs I’m participating in, I have to work on my Ph. D during my stay in Académie Le Tour, which means that I’ll have little free time. I’m also happy for you, though. It’s really nice to see you getting married and starting a family soon.” “Wow!” exclaimed Selena. She couldn’t believe how hard Randall’s life had become. Yet she was glad that her husband invited him over as a break from such a busy life. “Well, at least you’re invited to this occasion, which is great, isn’t it?” “Yeah,” his voice was dry, “This is definitely a nice break from all that tedium. I have to write an annoyingly complicated thesis, leaving me no time to renovate the Greek house even if I wanted to. I’m lucky there’s a garden next to it so that I won’t have to starve.” “Ouch,” Vlastimir looked at his friend. “What is your thesis about?” “It’s about the designs of warlocks and witches.”
  30. 30. “You’re in luck,” exclaimed a voice from across the table. Randall turned around to see a woman wearing a pointy hat, sparkles dancing around her, and spots on her body. She must be a witch, which is perfect for his research. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Priya Ramaswami, husband of Vlastimir’s boss Sanjay.” “Nice to meet you, ma’am,” he replied. “I know this sounds a bit weird, but do you know that there are different designs of a witch’s items? I just learned about it when I was researching about warlocks and witches at the library of my university.” “Of course I know. In fact, it depends on the kind of magic they practice. For instance, I practice magic for benevolent purposes, so the designs of my items will always be pristine and classically ornate.” “Look, I also want to know how and why as well.” “I understand your concerns, but we would wind up talking about your schoolwork while missing out on the fun here. After all, we come here to celebrate your friend’s wedding, not to discuss about your assignment.”
  31. 31. Priya turned to face the groom. With calm yet determined eyes she spoke up, “Congratulations on your wedding, sir. I hope you and your wife enjoy a long and happy life together, and I hope your family will uphold your name.” “Thanks, Mrs. Ramaswami,” he replied with a small smile on his face. “I have a question, though. What do you mean by the second part of what you said to me?” “I see a great future for your family, and I know that the legacy you’ll leave behind will play an integral part of your descendants. Mark my words; and please make sure your children know about it as well. That way, your legacy will surely stand the test of time.” Vlastimir’s eyes widened upon hearing Priya’s words. Her words sounded peculiar, but he found himself doubting over it a little. “Are you sure about this?” “Have confidence in yourself, boy,” Sanjay interjected. “My wife is quite the sage.” “Er… OK, then.”
  32. 32. “And as for you, Mrs. Vidić…” Priya turned her attention to the bride. “You can just call me Selena,” she raised her head up. “I hope we can introduce our children someday. My daughter’s growing up like time has passed so quickly, and it would be nice to have them get to know someday.” Selena smiled. That certainly sounds like a very great idea. After all, Verdant Cliffs is really empty, and if her children are grown, she would make sure that they won’t be friendless. “That’s great. In fact, I wish this place would have more people.” “Great idea! I need to convince Sanjay to move back into this place as soon as possible. This house used to be our house, but seeing that your husband renovated it, you get to keep it. We’ll just get a new house around here instead.”
  33. 33. “How have you been, Vlastimir. We missed you,” said a familiar voice to Vlastimir’s right. He turned around and saw Noelle Dennis, the instructor from My Muse II. That was quite nice to see her again, primarily since it’s been a long time since he visited the club. “It’s a long story after graduation, which is why I couldn’t find the time to visit you guys. I hope I could visit the club again, though. How’s it going?” “It’s been going well, but I still miss seeing you around. Thank goodness you invited me to your wedding; I wish you congratulations.” “Thanks.” “No problem.”
  34. 34. Across the table, Selena went to pick up an empty table, only to hear the sound of someone clearing their throat. “Professor Callahan,” she turned to see one of the professors of the university, “It’s nice to see you.” “Of course it is,” she replied. “I heard that there will be a toast tonight congratulating you and one of my best students in for your marriage. I’m glad to see that he has done well in life.” “Well, thanks. Let’s head outside for the toast, shall we?”
  35. 35. With nearly everyone except for Sanjay gathered around the backyard again, each person was given a glass of champagne. They gathered around Denise Jacquet, the old lady who baked and sold the wedding cake, to hear her speech. “Ladies and gentlemen,” she announced, “I would like to congratulate the newlyweds for finding happiness in themselves. May their lives be filled with bliss from then on.”
  36. 36. Suddenly the door opened to reveal Sanjay walking out as he wiped his suit. “Sorry, guys,” he said loudly, “I was using the bathroom, and I hope I didn’t miss out on anything big.” “Just the speech, honey,” remarked Priya. “Grab a glass of champagne and get ready for the toasting to begin.” “Alright, then.” “Let’s continue, shall we?” announced Denise as soon as Sanjay picked up his glass. “Now that everyone is finally assembled here, let’s toast to the newlyweds. I hope their future will be a bright one.” Once Denise was done, everyone lifted their glasses and drank the champagne.
  37. 37. After the ceremony was over, Vlastimir turned towards his wife. “Isn’t this wedding party a blast, honey?” he asked “Of course it is,” she beamed. “By the way, what of our honeymoon?” “Don’t worry about it. I’ve booked a flight and a hotel reservation to Twikkii Island for both of us, so we should be there in no time.” “That’s awesome! I’ve always wanted to go to Twikkii Island because of its exotic scenery. Let’s pack our bags once this party’s over.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  38. 38. As they arrived at Twikkii Island, they headed for the Double Palm Resort, where Vlastimir told the receptionist about the room he booked. In response, the receptionist gave him a booklet to sign his name on. Meanwhile, the porter carried the couple’s luggage to the room so that the guests didn’t have to, which was great because the flight made them tired due to jetlag.
  39. 39. After Vlastimir signed his name to confirm his reservation, he and Selena stepped outside for some fresh air. Then suddenly, she thought about going on a tour in the island for some fun activities to do during their honeymoon. “Honey,” she turned to her husband, “Would you mind going on a tour in the island with me? I’m so excited to try out some of the activities here.” “Right now?” he raised his head up in confusion. They just arrived in Twikkii Island, and she wanted to go on a tour right now? “But we just arrived here.” “So what? We can’t miss out on the fun here, can we?” “Fine.” As long as it’s a relaxing one that can help him relax at the same time.
  40. 40. Fortunately for them, there was a tour guide standing outside the hotel, so Vlastimir quickly asked him for any available tour rides for them. “You’re in luck,” the guide exclaimed. “We have two vacant spots for parasailing. I hope you’ll enjoy it.” Parasailing? Of all the rides, why does it have to be a thrill-filled one that doesn’t involve relaxation at the slightest bit? Here’s hoping he and Selena will come to enjoy it, though. “Great! One for me and one for my wife.” “OK, you’re all set. Get ready in five minutes, okay?” “Fine.”
  41. 41. The parasailing went well for both of them despite Vlastimir’s initial hesitation. In fact, everything went smoothly except for the time when the pilot nearly flew right into a flock of seagulls while cleaning his sunglasses. Luckily, he swerved to the side, preventing any further troubles with the seagulls and allowing the newly-married couple continue the ride safely. When they were done parasailing, Vlastimir was so exhausted that he took a nap in the room, and Selena went to the massage room for a soothing massage. As a result, she felt refreshed and her muscles soothed than before.
  42. 42. For lunch, they ate a locally made meal known as pineapple surprise. Due to the strong smell, they were initially hesitant to try it despite the chef’s recommendation, but after a few bites, they were immediately in love with the taste. Such food was has to be one of the best food they have ever tried out throughout their whole lives.
  43. 43. But most of all, one of the best part of the honeymoon is being able to enjoy some private time together. That sure felt like a reward worth receiving from married life.
  44. 44. As they were eating breakfast the next day, Selena turned towards her husband. “You know, I think we should buy clothes that suit the hot climate here. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get bored wearing the same thing over and over again. That’s the reason why I changed my hair and clothes once I graduated.” “Really?” A puzzled Vlastimir eyed his wife. He had gotten used to wearing these kind of clothes ever since he started attending the Académie, so he never bothered wearing anything else for everyday use. “I think I feel fine wearing these kind of clothes during vacation.” “I, on the other hand, think you should wear something else. Those pants don’t look all that comfortable in the hot weather, and even though the tank top suits this place, I still think you need some variety.” “Well, I’ll see what we can do.”
  45. 45. They traveled to the local marketplace, where Vlastimir bought some clothes for himself and his wife, in case she might need something else to wear as well. Selena, on the other hand, went off to buy a pair of golden earrings for herself.
  46. 46. After buying the earrings, Selena walked downstairs to the changing rooms to try them out. She might as well investigate what her husband was up to as well.
  47. 47. Before she could enter the changing rooms, however, she suddenly saw Vlastimir wearing new clothes. Sounds like he does know what to wear after all. “By the way, I bought something for you,” he handed a bag to her. “Feel free to try it and tell me about it.” It seemed like he bought something for her as well. That’s nice of him to do that, even though it was unexpected. “Why thanks,” she replied. ‘I’ll tell you when I’m done.”
  48. 48. A minute later, she walked out of the changing room wearing the dress Vlastimir bought for her and the gold earrings she bought for herself. When he looked at her, he marveled in delight. No doubt she looks even more gorgeous in the dress. Now all he had to do was to ask her. “Do you like it?” he asked. “Absolutely!” she answered enthusiastically. “I should’ve been more thankful about it.” “Don’t worry, my dear. You already are.”
  49. 49. At the nearby beach, Vlastimir dug the sand for some seashells he could find for a memento, but to his surprise and horror, a crab snapped his finger instead. He screamed in pain for a few minutes as a result. Fortunately, Selena came by and stopped the crab from snapping hiss finger any longer.
  50. 50. With that little incident over, she approached her husband as he soothed his snapped finger. “Come here, you,” she leaned forward as she pressed her lips to his and kissed him. That sure felt like a comforting moment to get the thoughts of the pain away from his head.
  51. 51. The two proceeded to do several activities in the beach, like swimming in the ocean, sunbathing, learning the local dance with two ends of a staff on fire, and combing the sand for seashells. Luckily for Selena, she managed to find a starfish and some shells for jewelry instead of some stray crab ready to snap your fingers.
  52. 52. As nightfall set in, they returned to the hotel. Selena then recommended Vlastimir to try out a massage in order to soothe his aching muscles. He followed her advice, and was glad he tried it out. He felt his back relaxed and his tensions eased throughout the procedure.
  53. 53. Still, all the activities he did at the beach worn him out to the point that he ended up sleeping on a hammock instead of the room. In fact, he was so exhausted that he didn’t bother going inside. Selena tried to wake him up, but to no avail. After her failed attempts, she sighed and returned to the room to sleep.
  54. 54. Another day passed, and this time, they visited some ancient stone structures near the village. Their tour guide explained to them that this is a temple where people make offerings to their god Jumbok at a sacred fountain so that their wishes would come true, provided that their motives are pure. He also explained that this practice is popular with tourists as well as locals, so they are more than welcome to toss a coin to the fountain for a wish. Selena gazed at the fountain for a while and finally thought of a wish. Please let it come true, she clutched her coin before tossing it to the fountain.
  55. 55. Meanwhile, Vlastimir was sitting on the side while waving his left hand in the water. The cool water sure felt good on his hand even if there are coins in the water that felt like a dissonance to the general feel of the stone. Nevertheless, it certainly felt nice to feel such coolness in the middle of a hot day.
  56. 56. At night, they went to an abandoned pirate ship the locals transformed into an attraction that have become popular with both locals and tourists alike. They tried out many different activities there, like trying to walk the plank, riding the steering wheel, looking at the sea from the mast, and playing with the dummy, to name a few.
  57. 57. Additionally, Vlastimir encountered the ghost of the captain, who proved to be rather friendly and sang a catchy sea chantey to him after exchanging a few pleasantries. It took no time for him to remember the lyrics so that he could sing it on his own.
  58. 58. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, or so it seems. After packing their luggage and checking out at the receptionist, Vlastimir and Selena prepared to go back to Verdant Cliffs. The latter turned her head back to the hotel, hoping to visit the island again with their kids someday. It was certainly a trip worth visiting.
  59. 59. Upon arrival, they were shocked to see a burglar getting arrested. On one hand, they couldn’t believe how crooks could make their way even to a quiet place like Verdant Cliffs. But on the other hand, it was also a pleasant surprise to see the police around the area as well. “Don’t worry, you two,” assured the cop as he escorted the arrested burglar to his car. “This felon failed to steal any of your items by the time I arrested her. You also got $500 as a reward for catching her as well.”
  60. 60. With the burglary issue dealt with, it was time for the couple to sleep after a long and tiresome flight home. The experience was one of a kind in their lives, and they couldn’t wait to see how their lives will unfold before their eyes. Who knows how the lives of their descendants will be like? --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  61. 61. The first thing Selena does in the morning is drinking a can of orange juice from the fridge. But before she could take a sip of it, she immediately felt a nauseous feeling in the stomach. In response, she held her mouth and held onto her stomach at the same time to prevent herself from throwing up. When the feeling had gone away, she pondered a moment about it. Was it because of the food she ate during the honeymoon? That couldn’t be possible because she felt fine throughout that time regardless of what she ate. Or was it because of the flight that caused her to feel nauseous? After all, it took a lot of hours to fly from Twikkii Island to the nearest airport around their house and vice versa. But then again, she didn’t feel this nauseous upon her arrival on Twikkii Island when she flew there. For some unknown reason, however, she suddenly thought of something else as the cause, and it certainly wasn’t the first two guesses she thought of.
  62. 62. As they sat down for breakfast after Vlastimir had finished showering, she took the time to talk to him about her condition. “I have something to say,” she crossed her arms as she turned to her husband. “Uh huh,” he nodded. “Don’t just ‘uh-huh’ me; this is important. In fact, my condition makes a difference for our future.” “You mean…”
  63. 63. “Yes, dummy. I’m pregnant. That means that the nursery should be set up at once.” Upon hearing the news that his wife was pregnant, Vlastimir was silent for a few seconds, then started talking again. “Don’t worry about it, honey. You’ll just have to relax as we buy the things our baby needs.” “Or babies in case I have twins.” “Yeah,” he thought for a moment about the portraits he painted back at the Académie and what she might thought of them. “I have a question, though; what do you think of your portrait in our room?”
  64. 64. “I love it! In fact, it’s such a surprise that it depicts me with the clothes I’m wearing. Not to mention that the background looks lovely as well. The arch behind me looks rustic and mesmerizing.” “Thanks,” he giggled, “I have to go to work soon. I’ll be right back at 10.”
  65. 65. As Selena’s pregnancy progressed, Vlastimir took the time to talk to her belly in the hopes of being a father someday. One night, when he was talking to her, she noticed that he was dressed like a gangster. Could that mean that he had a change in career? If so, then how come he didn’t tell her in the first place? Maybe a few questions wouldn’t hurt at all. “Honey,” she asked softly, “How come you’re wearing something like that?” He was about to flinch after she finished her question. What should he do to cover it up? He can’t hide it forever from her, can he? Perhaps something quick yet credible should do. “I… er… was told that this was my new work uniform for the time being due to a few changes in the workplace. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you at first.” “Well, whatever that is, I don’t want you wearing it in front of our child once he or she is born.” “Oh, alright.” That was quite a close call.
  66. 66. Vlastimir pondered for a moment as he walked outside to his carpool. Was it really worth the effort doing all this thing in the end? Only time will tell, perhaps.
  67. 67. A few days ago, Sanjay approached him personally for the first time since the house offer ages ago. This time, however, there was a solemn expression on his face, indicating that something urgent has occurred to him, or so it seems. “Vlastimir,” he slurred, “I’m faced with a dilemma, and I can’t tell it to anyone else by you. After all, you’re not just my employee; you’re also a trusted friend.” “Thanks for the compliments, Mr. Ramaswami, but what’s so urgent about it?”
  68. 68. “You see, I was confronted by members of a local mob called the Jarring Jackals right after you’ve left at one night. Turns out they’ve been posing as my bodyguards all along, and they threatened to drive me out of business and evict my family within a few weeks if I don’t do something soon. I’ve consulted my wife on the matter in the hopes that she’ll do something with her magic, but she told me that the kind of magic she uses is not meant to harm others as it’s against the code of witches. She could help, though not directly, so I’ve decided to ask you to help me on this matter.” “That’s interesting, but why would they threaten you? After all, you’ve never posed any harm to others.” “The Jarring Jackals have long been the bane of honest businesses in the city. For years, they have extorted us for lots of money, and they’ll burn our businesses and houses if we refuse or failed to do so. They’ll do the same if we even tell the authorities, whom they may have bribed as well.” “I see what I can do. Where and when can we meet?” “Meet me at my house on Wednesday; it’s at 35 Mendoza Lane. And try putting on something gangster-ish when we meet. That would make those hoodlums mistake you for one of them.”
  69. 69. Instead of heading straight home as usual, Vlastimir told the driver to drop him off at Comandgo Emporium and wait for him there until he was done buying some clothes. When he was picking some for the day off, he saw two he like the most: the green shirt that comes with an elaborate vest and the white shirt that comes with a plainer vest. He couldn’t decide which one he like the most, so he ended up buying both.
  70. 70. On Wednesday, he visited the Ramaswami house while wearing his white shirt and vest, where was greeted by a pregnant Priya. “I see that you’ve come here for a meeting with my husband,” she said. “Very well, then. Come on in and feel free to watch my daughter’s birthday today.” His eyes widened a bit upon hearing about the birthday. “That’s strange. He never told me about it.” “Really? In that case, I need to tell him not to forget about it next time.”
  71. 71. When they went inside, they saw Sanjay standing in front of the birthday cake while holding his daughter in his arms. Priya stepped forward and blew the horn to wish her great joy as she transitioned to the next step in life.
  72. 72. After all that partying stuff had passed by quickly, Vlastimir thought it would be a great idea to spend some time alone practicing chess. However, Sanjay’s daughter showed up to him a few minutes later. “Hello, my name is Parvati,” she introduced herself. “May I play chess with you?” After seeing the girl’s eager eyes, he couldn’t help but back down. “I don’t see why not? After all, it would be nice to have some company. Name’s Vlastimir, and I work for your dad.” “But Amma told me that it’s rude to call other people by their first name unless the person is of my age.” “Alright, fine. Just call me Mr. Vidić.” “OK, Mr. Vidić.”
  73. 73. As they played, Parvati would often ask him a variety of questions, such as his job, residence, family, and how he met her Appa. The more she asked, the more exhausted his mind had become. Does she really have to know every detail of his life? Are all kids as curious as her, always wanting to know about other people as well as their parents? Will his kid or kids end up like her? Only time will tell, perhaps. “Parvati, come take a bath now,” a loud voice called out just as the sun was starting to set. Vlastimir could feel himself breathing a sigh of relief now that the girl would stop asking her questions. “But I’m not yet done with the game, Amma,” she replied. “There are no ‘buts’. You must take a bath if you don’t want to get sick. It’s getting cold outside, and getting sick means that you have to stay in bed and not move around.” “Yes, Amma,” she sighed deeply as she got down from her chair and turned toward Vlastimir. “It’s nice playing with you, sir.”
  74. 74. Once nightfall had descended onto the house, Sanjay approached Vlastimir, who was still engrossed by the chess set he was practicing on. “Mind if I join you?” he asked as he pulled the other chair Parvati was sitting on during the afternoon. “Sure,” he replied. About time he finally showed up. “By the way, your daughter’s quite precocious.” “Heh, thanks. I guess it’s typical of children her age,” he then eyed the clothes Vlastimir was wearing. “And it seems that you remember what I told you to wear.” “That I do. By the way, what’s your plan to deal with the Jarring Jackals, Mr. Ramaswami?” “Please, just call me Sanjay. We’re not at the restaurant at the moment, so no need to be overly formal.” “Okay, Sanjay. Now tell me about how we’re gonna deal with those crooks once and for all.”
  75. 75. “Unfortunately,” he said solemnly, “There’s no permanent way to get rid of them.” Upon hearing those words, Vlastimir made a disgusted expression. Surely there must be some sinister force behind them, and if he won’t live to vanquish them, maybe his descendants will. “But,” Sanjay added, “I could hold them back in the short run. You see, I told them that I’ll challenge them to a music duel of sorts, and whoever gets the loudest applause from the audience wins. If they win, they’ll take over the Swaggy Sari. But if we win, they’ll leave me and my business alone for an unspecified amount of time.” “That sounds… risky. What if they strike back sooner than expected? Forgive me if I sound pessimistic, but I just feel worried for you and would love to help you out on the music duel. All you have to do is to tell me your plans to win it.” “Thanks for the offer. In fact, help is exactly what I need, but do you know a place that we can go for practice? I don’t have any musical instruments at home, to be honest.”
  76. 76. “Oh, I know a place that can help you. It’s a music club I often visited back when I was at Académie Le Tour called My Muse II. Sadly, I haven’t had the time to visit there lately due to work and my wife’s pregnancy. I still know where it is, so I can show you the directions if you don’t mind. In there, feel free to test out which instrument suits you.” “That’s excellent!” Sanjay nearly jumped in joy upon hearing the existence of a music club. “I’ll have to go there tomorrow.” “Sounds good. By the way, when’s the duel? And how do you think of my outfit?” “It’s three months later, so if I start practicing as soon as possible, we might win this. Outfit-wise, I think it needs a bit more style on the vest.” “I see. Well, I have to go; I can’t leave Selena alone at home for too long.” said Vlastimir as he got up from his seat. “I’ll see you later, then. Goodbye.”
  77. 77. Another thing he wondered about was why Sanjay recommended him to wear clothes like these rather than the tux he normally wore to work. Perhaps that was a way to get ready for the music duel as well as to avoid being targeted by the Jarring Jackals. And he also wondered how well was he doing in My Muse II. Might as well ask him which musical instrument he liked the most.
  78. 78. “Why, hello there!” greeted Sanjay, who was also wearing the same kind of clothes he wore. “I have to show you something real quick..” That sounded rather sudden. Might as well be something interesting. “Well, what is it?” “Do you know the instruments in the stage?” “Yes, what about it?” “I’ve added a new one on stage. Would you like to see it?” “Sure.”
  79. 79. Sanjay walked onto the stage and stood near the new instrument. It looked exactly like one of the instruments at My Muse II that Vlastimir tried before, but it never captured his interest. “Tadaa!” he announced. “What do you think about the synthesizer?” What to think of that instrument that produces a horrible sound? That was a tough decision to make. On one hand, he hated how annoying its sound is, but on the other hand, he didn’t want to offend Sanjay by stating his dislike of the instrument of his employer’s choice.
  80. 80. “I…” he muttered while trying to think of an appropriate response, “I have to admit that I’m not fond of the sound it makes, but who knows if you can do wonders with it?” “Don’t worry about it,” Sanjay replied. “I’ll play it to see if you like it or not.”
  81. 81. As Sanjay played the synthesizer, Vlastimir couldn’t help but think differently about it. The tunes were very enjoyable to listen to, much unlike his own stint at My Muse II. Maybe he’s actually meant to be good at it.
  82. 82. Once Sanjay finished playing the synthesizer, he could hear the applauding cries of his best friend and employee. That certainly did the trick, didn’t it? “That was awesome!” shouted Vlastimir. “I really didn’t expect nice music to come out of that instrument, but you certainly proved me otherwise.” “Thanks,” replied his boss. “I still need a lot of practice, though. But I’m glad you like it.” “So, let’s play together, shall we?” “Sure.”
  83. 83. And so they played their respective instruments in preparation for the upcoming duel. That sure felt great to Vlastimir, who had confidence that wit enough practice, he and Sanjay will win this music duel against the Jarring Jackals. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  84. 84. As usual, time seemed to pass by much quicker than expected, and with it Selena’s pregnancy had reached its third trimester. One night, after showing Vlastimir her ever-growing belly, he promptly talked to it. “There, there,” he chanted. “At least I haven’t forgotten about you two yet.” “You better not,” she chuckled. “By the way, just tell me what you’ve been up to. I’m worried about you.” “Umm…” he murmured, trying to think of a suitable answer, “Work’s been busy lately, and I have to go earlier than usual due to certain urgencies.” When his carpool honked, he realized that it was time to go. “I’ll see you again, honey,” he waved to his wife as he walked out.
  85. 85. Once her husband left, she began to ponder for a while. Ever since when did her husband became more concerned of his job and hobby than his family, let alone the child she’s carrying? Is there something he was hiding? Perhaps a little investigating would do.
  86. 86. She picked up the phone to call the Ramaswamis. After all, her husband works for them, so they should know what’s going on. “Hello?” she called after dialing their number. “Hi,” a feminine voice replied. This must be Priya. “What can I help you?” “Hey, I have a question: Do you know anything about your husband’s job? Vlastimir told me that there were changes in his work, which made him devote less time with me.” “Actually, I was also about to call you on that very issue.” “Huh? How come?”
  87. 87. “You see, my husband told me about how he was confronted by the Jarring Jackals, a criminal gang that has long terrorized this city. He asked me to deal with them with my magic, but I reminded him that my magic was meant to benefit others and not cause harm. However, I reassured him that he could try winning against them through mundane means, though I didn’t expect your husband to be dragged into this. I mean, I saw him dressed up like a gangster and Sanjay following suit while staying silent over what’s been going on with him. Even worse, he’s spending less time with my daughter Parvati. “Okay, I apologize for my rambling and the fact that I didn’t have the exact answers you’re looking for, but I hope that helped. For now, I have to tuck Parvati to bed.” “That’s fine,” Selena replied after listening to Priya. “For now, do what you have to do. I’m exhausted from my pregnancy. I see you later.”
  88. 88. That does it. Hearing about her husband away to face against some gangsters was the last thing she ever wanted to hear. Also, Vlastimir’s the kind of person who usually preferred face-to-face contact with other people and keeps things by himself, so he wouldn’t keep some online diary of his own. On top of all that drama, here she was, pregnant and alone at home in the middle of nowhere.
  89. 89. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  90. 90. This is it, thought Vlastimir as he took a deep breath. Tonight is when the music duel starts, and Sanjay better get ready as well.
  91. 91. “Glad to see you here,” greeted Sanjay as Vlastimir entered the backstage. “We better get ready; our turn’s coming up after the Jarring Jackals’, which is right after the current one.” Great. Just great. It seemed that he arrived only to find out that their turn was coming next. And the mention of someone else’s turn made him wonder whether or not there are other participants aside from them and the Jarring Jackals. If so, then this wasn’t a duel as he first though, but a battle of the bands. “Is there a violin by any chance?” he asked. “Yup.” “Well, well, well,” interrupted a familiar-sounding voice.
  92. 92. They turned around to see Sanjay’s ex-bouncers who were members of the Jarring Jackals all along. “You two wimps ain’t gonna win this concert,” the black-haired one, most likely Big Moe, jeered. “In fact, Manny and I are gonna pound you and that restaurant to the dust once we win this gig.” “And become filthy rich from your misery,” added Manny.
  93. 93. The sight of those two crooks made Vlastimir angrier than the incident with the cow mascot. He felt like punching them in the face and trample on them afterwards upon the mere sight of them. “We’ll show you what we can do!” he shouted at them. Sanjay saw all this and sighed. There’s no way we could win if we keep arguing like this, he though.
  94. 94. Just then, a loud buzz rang, followed by an announcement from the front stage. “Next up is the four-time consecutive winner, the M-Boys!” After hearing it, the two thugs walked to the stage as a loud applause was heard. Strange that they were called the M-Boys; perhaps those two were referred to as such as an alias.
  95. 95. When those two thugs had finished playing, a round of applause ensued. “There’s no way we could win this,” Sanjay sighed. “Don’t give your hopes up,” Vlastimir assured as calmly as possible. “I’m sure that all the practice we’ve done will pay off, whether it was done at home, the Swaggy Sari, or even My Muse II.” “But they’ve been training in this for years, whereas I’ve been doing this for only three months.”
  96. 96. Vlastimir turned toward his friend. “Don’t let it bother you. I’ve been playing the violin for two years, yet folks back in Académie Le Tour have complimented on how good I am in this. And…” he paused for a second, “the moment I listened to you playing the synthesizer, I realized that you’re meant to be good at it.” “Are you sure?” “Yup.” “Well, if that’s the case…”
  97. 97. “Let’s get rocking, shall we?!” Vlastimir beamed in response. Now that’s the spirit.
  98. 98. Their enthusiasm was cut short by the sound of someone clearing their throat loudly. “You guys should just give up any hopes of winning!” squealed Manny. “Yeah!” Big Moe yelled. “We’re so tough that you two chumps ain’t gonna beat us!” On one hand, Vlastimir felt like charging towards them and punch their faces. But on the other hand, doing so will earn them an immediate disqualification for inappropriate behavior, and getting disqualified is the same thing as losing to them.
  99. 99. The same loud buzz rang again, followed by another announcement. “And next, we have a brand new contesting duo called Saraswati’s Melody coming up right now.” Ignoring the taunts of their main rivals, Vlastimir and Sanjay walked to the front stage, where a violin and synthesizer had been prepared for them.
  100. 100. Once on the stage, Vlastimir saw an extremely huge crowd right in front of him. Winning them over sure looked like an impressive feat here, considering the fact that he and Sanjay are newbies while those two thugs are veterans.
  101. 101. As soon as they started playing their respective instruments, they gradually felt a huge wave of confidence overtaking them, giving them the energy to perform their best in front of the audience.
  102. 102. “Man, that was quite a blast!” Vlastimir exclaimed after they had finished performing. “It sure was,” replied Sanjay. “I can’t wait to tell Priya about this.” “Same here for Selena.”
  103. 103. “Okay, everybody,” the announcer said. “Now tonight has been quite a fun night, and I’m sure you guys are all excited at who the winner is. So let’s give a round of applause to…”
  104. 104. “Saraswati’s Melody!”
  105. 105. They couldn’t believe their ears at whom the announcer proclaimed the winner. They, a completely new band, won against a four-time winner. They felt their hearts jumping with joy as a result of the announcement being made. Even the loud applause from the audience concurred with their feelings. Meanwhile, Manny and Moe flinched and panicked in disbelief at what they just heard. Surely this must be some kind of mistake, wasn’t it? Even worse, they might find themselves in big trouble now that they have failed their boss, leaving them at a loss of words at the same time.
  106. 106. “And the prize for winning this competition is,” the announcer paused for a moment as the winners walked onto the front stage, “The legendary Rock Hammer and $5,850 for each person!” Vlastimir couldn’t believe his ears at the prize of the competition. That much money would surely be useful for his family, like buying clothes and paying for the kid’s education. Sanjay was equally amazed at the prize as well because that meant expanding the house to make room for Parvati and the baby.
  107. 107. “That was quite a show, wasn’t it?” asked Vlastimir as they did a high-five together. “It certainly was. I can’t wait to tell my wife and daughter about this.” “And neither can I to my wife. But what about my guitar? I don’t have any space in my house for it.” “Well, in that case,” the announcer walked towards Vlastimir, “I’ll try keeping it for you until you call me at any time once you have space.” “That’s great! Well, I have to go. I can’t leave my wife alone at home. I’ll see you guys later!” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  108. 108. With the Jarring Jackals beaten at their own game, Vlastimir beamed as he triumphantly walked inside his house. Never in his life had he felt so alive than the battle of the bands; the loud cheers of the audience and his violin skills pretty much sealed the deal, though he also gave credit to Sanjay for the effort he put on the synthesizer. That was a moment to be cherished. “Honey, I’m home!” he cried out as he opened the door. However, the only reply he got was silence. Maybe because she was asleep.
  109. 109. Since Selena was probably asleep as a result of her pregnancy, he decided to take a nice bath instead. After all, all that playing in front of the stage made him exhausted even thought that was one of the liveliest moments of his life, apart from his wedding, of course. Just as he was in the middle of the bath, he suddenly heard the sound of screaming and panting. After a few seconds of wondering, he figured that his wife was giving birth. Yikes! He couldn’t stand leaving her all alone, especially during childbirth, so he rushed into his room to help her out.
  110. 110. Once at the room, he saw her pushing as hard as she could. The sight of it shocked him and cause his heart to beat rapidly for fear of his wife’s well-being. “Where were you when I was giving birth?!” she shouted at the top of her lungs. “I thought you were asleep when I came back,” he replied, “So I took a bath until you were shouting.”
  111. 111. Selena continued to push with as much effort as possible until her baby finally came out of her womb. Vlastimir rushed to carry the newborn baby up, but much to his surprise, his wife was still pushing for another baby to come out. When it finally did, she held her baby onto her arms. “Why, aren’t you adorable, my sweet baby girl?” she softly cuddled as Vlastimir watched while carrying the other baby. “What shall we name you and your sister?” “How about Ana for the one I’m holding and Jelena for the one you’re holding?” he said. Perhaps names that reflect his heritage would do. “Er… honey, do you really think it’s a good idea to name this one Jelena?” “Relax, honey. Jelena is a feminine name, so don’t worry.” “Right. Sounds like we need to talk someday. For now, let’s take care of these adorable babies, shall we?”
  112. 112. Raising the babies was oddly fun amidst the challenges involved and their initial worries. Even though they had to get up very early in the morning to feed them and change their diapers, they would often cuddle and play with them afterwards. Besides, it was also an opportunity to show affection to their daughters.
  113. 113. Meanwhile, Vlastimir was glad to work normally and without any unpleasant incidents now that the Jarring Jackals had been beaten in their own game. Also, his work shift had changed, so he worked from 11 am to 6 pm. This pleased him greatly because it meant spending more time with his family.
  114. 114. Speaking of family, he would often pass the time taking care of the babies with Selena. Seeing their adorable faces melt his heart all the time, and he wondered how they would behave as they grew bigger.
  115. 115. Time seemed to pass by in the blink of an eye, and both girls have grown into toddlers. Just by looking at them, there’s no doubt that they’re both identical twins, with the only differences being their eyebrows. Ana has inherited their mother’s while Jelena has their father’s. Perhaps time will tell regarding their personalities.
  116. 116. Raising the toddlers also meant teaching them basic skills. It took their parents a considerable amount of effort to teach them how to walk, talk, and use the potty. Additionally, they sang nursery rhymes to the girls so that they could appreciate the sound of music and learn the rhymes by heart. With enough time and effort, their children might as well learn those skills in no time.
  117. 117. The girls also learned other things, especially when playing with their toys and using the activity table. By drawing and playing with blocks, they gradually developed their minds and discovered new things.
  118. 118. On one evening, Selena approached Vlastimir after he came back from work. “We need to talk right now,” she said in a cautious tone. “For what?” he asked.
  119. 119. “You know what I mean. Your job is what I’ve been thinking about ever since you wore those gangster-like clothes. Please tell me the entire truth about it, will you?” “OK, OK. Let’s head to the living room for the talk, shall we?”
  120. 120. Once in the living room, they continued their conversation. Vlastimir ended up telling Selena everything about his “job” – the temporary “uniform”, constant violin practicing, the battle of the bands, and even the prize he won. “Well, what do you think about it all?” he asked, eager for her reply.
  121. 121. “You know,” she finally spoke up, “You should’ve just told me about all this earlier rather than right now. I’m your wife, so you have to tell the truth, even if it feels embarrassing. In fact, I want to show you something, so follow me outside once I put on my winter coat.”
  122. 122. They walked outside of the house, where they finally stopped and took a moment to look at the landscape outside of their house. “Tell me, Vlastimir,” Selena turned towards her husband. “What do you see?” “I see…” Well, what on earth should he say when there’s nothing to see there other than wide empty space? “Just tell me.” “Nothing.” “Well, that’s exactly what I see as well. But these will change soon.” “What do you mean?”
  123. 123. “Yesterday night, I felt disgruntled at how empty this place is, so I ended up getting a job at the real estate development in order to attract more people into settling here. Apparently, the company I’m working for needs a Senior Manager, and I just happen to qualify for that position, thanks to my degree in Economics and the internship I did before I married you.” “But what about the girls?” “They’ll be fine. In fact, I emailed your boss’ wife to ask her husband – your boss – whether or not he could give you a vacation day tomorrow to make up for your time with the girls. She told me that he could, seeing that he too had to make up for his time with her. I hope you’re not mad at me over my decision; I just want to build up a community here.” “Well…”
  124. 124. “As your husband, I think we need to share our concerns together,” Vlastimir carressed her. “I’m sorry that I haven’t spent time with you when you were pregnant with the girls, but I thank you for wanting me to make up for it by spending time with the girls. For that, I’m proud to have a wife like you. However, I’m not sure it’s a very good idea to do this in the long run. I mean, overcrowding and many other social ills could happen in here if this place continues to grow.” “Thanks,” she whispered, “I see what you mean by your concerns, but don’t worry. I’ll make sure that the real estate development here will be put in check in order to mitigate its side effects. And just because you need to spend time with the girls doesn’t mean that it has to come at a price on your job. After all, we need to use that money for our daughters to ensure their well-being.” “Yeah. Man, isn’t this sunset beautiful?” “It sure is, honey, despite the cold weather and all.”
  125. 125. Just as they had finished their conversation, a loud wail was heard from the nursery. It sounded like one of the girls just woke up from her sleep. “I’ll go get that,” they said in unison and giggled shortly afterwards as they walked into the nursery.
  126. 126. Things were looking up as Selena walked to her first day of work. While she was walking to her carpool, she looked at the vast empty stretch of land in front of her. Sooner or later, there will be people and buildings in here.
  127. 127. Back in the house, Vlastimir felt something odd creeping into him. Days of working in the Swaggy Sari have made him extremely used to being in there from afternoon to evening. As a result, being at home during this time period gave him an unusual feeling of dissonance that made him feel out of place.
  128. 128. To remedy that, he headed into the nursery to accompany the girls, just as Selena had asked him to do. Singing a lullaby to them should be a good way to bond with them, and they even sang happily to its tune. That certainly did the trick.
  129. 129. Selena’s first day of work proved to be quite a challenge. Managing real estate required lots of time and effort. Moreover, she had to ensure the conservation of land for future development in Verdant Cliffs. Nevertheless, she succeeded in doing those things, resulting in her promotion to President. However, she had lost $4,000 she invested to bankruptcy, giving her mixed feelings over her thoughts for the day.
  130. 130. Even though she had lost money, she continued to find solace in her kids, who gave her great comfort as she showed her affection to. “No matter what happens,” she whispered as she snuggled Ana, “You and your sister will always be my precious babies.” “Ana luv mommy,” said Ana. “Mommy loves you too.”
  131. 131. Speaking of Ana, she could often be seen in the living room, listening to her father playing the violin and singing to it. After seeing this, he chuckled and played a happy tune to make her happy.
  132. 132. Her twin, on the other hand, loved to wander around. At one point, Vlastimir found her right in front of the house despite the freezing winter chill. “There you are, my girl!” he knelt down to pick her up. “It’s so cold outside, so you should go inside if you don’t want to get sick.” “Jelly no wan sick!” she cried. “That’s right. Daddy’s gonna bring you back into the house so you won’t get sick.”
  133. 133. Whenever Jelena’s inside, she could often be seen playing with the teddy bear. However, the way she played with it was to beat it continuously, suggesting a rough nature in her. “Sweetie, the teddy’s for hugging, not for hitting,” Selena once said to Jelena. “But teddy no wan talk!” cried Jelena. “Well, even if it’s not supposed to talk, you should try hugging it, okay?” “Okay.”
  134. 134. Not long afterwards, it was time for the Vidić family to celebrate the twins’ birthday. Two birthday cakes were bought to celebrate the occasion as they entered the next phase in life. “Ready?” Vlastimir turned to Selena as he held Ana. “Ready,” she replied, holding Jelena on her arms.
  135. 135. After they blew the candles, both girls have grown bigger in a seeming blink of an eye. They were then given clothes that match their preferences, and proceeded to play together. Being a big kid feels so fun and alive!
  136. 136. “Well, honey,” Selena turned toward her husband while she was eating a piece of cake. “Are you ready to face a new set of challenges now that the girls are getting bigger?”
  137. 137. “Relax. Now that the girls are grown up, here’s hoping they do some things by themselves,” he then turned to the girls. “Girls, let’s have some cake now!” “Yay, cake!” they jubilantly cried out in unison. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  138. 138. Meanwhile, at an undisclosed location… “Please have mercy on us, boss!” pleaded Manny and Moe in unison. “We swear that we’ll succeed next time!” “Silence, fools!” a harsh, rasping voice echoed in front of them. “Have you forgotten the fact that failure is never an option?!” “B-but th-the g-g…” Moe stuttered. “What is it?!” “He’s far too talented for us to challenge!” Manny blurted out.
  139. 139. “That is NOT an excuse, weaklings!” the voice thundered. “I will not let oafs like you ruin my goal! Boys, send them to the plaster room!” The two men shuddered in fear. They knew that anyone sent into the dreaded plaster room will never come out alive. “Please give us a second chance!” the two henchmen cried out as they were being dragged into the plaster room, but their pleas were in vain.
  140. 140. With all that shouting done, the mysterious figure walked away to another room, where he sat in front of his computer. As he was searching around the Internet, he caught a glance of something of peculiar interest to him. Well, well, well, he snickered. What do we have here?
  141. 141. Right after his discovery, he stood up and made a phone call. “Hello? I have something important for you.” “What is it, boss?” the other line asked. “I want you to…”
  142. 142. “…eliminate Vlastimir Vidić and his family.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  143. 143. That’s it for Chapter 2! I initially didn’t expect this update to end like this, but with plot bunnies popping up in my head earlier than I expected, I can’t help but give in. Hope you’re feeling intrigued by the ending just as much as I am. But before we go, let’s look at a few tidbits, shall we?
  144. 144. In case you’re wondering, these are Selena Baldwin’s stats: Personality: Aries (5/8/6/3/3) Aspiration: Popularity/Knowledge OTH: Music and Dance LTW: Have 20 best friends Judging by these stats, there’s no doubt that she’s a female version of Vlastimir minus the genetics and appearance. :P
  145. 145. I also have the girls’ stats down, if you’re curious. Ana Vidić Jelena Vidić Personality: Gemini (5/8/10/3/3) Personality: Virgo (10/1/8/8/1) OTH: Fitness OTH: Sports Namesake: Ana Ivanović, a famous tennis player who ranked no. 1 in world tennis on 2008. Namesake: Jelena Janković, another famous tennis player who also ranked no. 1 in world tennis on 2008. (I’m sensing a theme for this generation)
  146. 146. Also, many thanks go to joandsarah for the hostel Vlastimir stayed in! I put it in a separate neighborhood for the purpose of staging so that I don’t have to risk messing up my actual legacy neighborhood, where I do all the playing. And that’s it! Stay tuned for the next update!

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