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A Specter Legacy Ch 10


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A Specter Legacy Ch 10

  1. 1. Ch10 Music/Inspiration: Being Bad Feels Pretty Good by Does It Offend You, Yeah?
  2. 2. It was a nice sunny afternoon for a date, Liz thought as she walked up to thecoffee counter. She was supposed to meet Zeph here after work, but she didn‟tsee the harm in getting a cup of coffee while she waited for him to arrive. It hadbeen a long day – working in the medical field took its toll now and then.
  3. 3. So, she took her coffee and sat down to wait outside, a little psyched. The caféwasn‟t the most romantic place ever, but it was nice. And it was even nicer toactually go on a date – she and Zeph hadn‟t been out in ages. Lately, they hardlyever saw each other. But when they did, they fought.
  4. 4. Liz sighed. She‟d love to banish Zeph‟s demons, but she didn‟t know what theywere. He did seem to be making an effort; he had agreed to this date, after all.And he‟d promised to go get help. That was all she could really ask for at themoment – to spend time with him and get him to talk to someone. Liz sighedagain. She knew Zeph was still hurting, but sometimes… Well, it was gettingharder and harder to be patient.*****
  5. 5. Two Hours LaterLiz sighed into her fifth cup of coffee. She was tired of waiting. It was obvious Zephwasn‟t going to show.
  6. 6. She stood, upset with herself, wondering just how long she was willing to keepwaiting, wondering how long before the Zeph she fell in love with would show backup. She knew Zeph needed loyalty and patience – someone he could alwayscount on. But he never seemed to look to her. He never leaned on her, talked toher, asked for help. It was almost like he forgot she was there.
  7. 7. And she was getting tired of waiting for him to remember her.*****
  8. 8. “First one to the stairs wins!” Taz yelled over his shoulder.“No fair,” Dagmar yelled over the rain. “You cheated!”“Says the loser!”
  9. 9. Taz slowed down as they rounded the corner, giving Dagmar the chance to catchup. He smiled to himself; even the rain couldn‟t shake his good mood. He andDagmar had gone out that evening, chatting and laughing over a simple dinnerand a movie – but it had done wonders to lift his spirits. It was funny; there used tobe a time when he had just assumed he‟d never laugh again, but ever since hemet Dagmar, he couldn‟t seem to stop smiling and laughing. Her bubbly energywas infectious.
  10. 10. “You totally cheated! You can‟t call a race when you‟re already in the lead!”“So I did. I apologize. I‟m deeply sorry.”“Liar.”Taz only grinned. “Hey, listen…”“Yeah?”
  11. 11. “Thanks for taking me out tonight.”“No problem; thanks for keeping me company. You‟re fun to have around.”“I could say the same about you. I…”Dagmar waited a beat before asking, “What?”
  12. 12. “It‟s just nice, is all. I needed this. It‟s good to have a friend.”Dagmar flashed him one of her brilliant smiles as lightning lit up the sky.“I feel the same. You‟re… Well, I haven‟t been this close to someone in awhile, either.” She looked like she wanted to say more, but was holding back.“What is it?”
  13. 13. Suddenly, she leaned in and gave him a quick kiss.
  14. 14. Before he could react, she pulled away – but not before whispering in his ear.“You‟re an amazing person, Taz. I don‟t know how she ever let you go, but she‟s afool if you ask me.”“D-Dag-”“Shh. It‟s okay. I understand. I‟ll wait.”
  15. 15. And with that cryptic statement, she slipped upstairs to her apartment, leaving Tazstanding there, staring after her.
  16. 16. He watched for a while, his eyes following her lithe frame up the stairs, still staringeven after he‟d heard the tell tale creaks that meant she‟d let herself inside. It wasa long while before he could form any coherent thought.“Holy crap,” he muttered.*****
  17. 17. He was back. He was back in that hellhole and he was screaming in pain. Hecould hear his sibling’s voices around him and their voices held similaragony. A flicker in the corner of his eyes – Who would it be this time, hewondered. It was Skye. It almost always was. He burned too, right next tohim, never saying a word, but his eyes spoke volumes. His eyes bored holesin Zephyr’s already burning flesh, asking why. A rush of air and Skye and hiseyes were gone, replaced by more flames. He felt like he was going to burst,his lungs were screaming as he tried to take a breath. All he knew was pain.All he could see was red. He opened his eyes.
  18. 18. And took another breath, deeper this time. The last one hadn‟t been enough toshake the dreams, the images, the smells. He needed to get away. One more dragand he‟d get there. Away.“Hey!” A voice interrupted his thoughts. “Zeph!”“Huh?”“You okay?” Blossom asked him. “You‟ve been at it all day.”
  19. 19. “I‟m fine. I just needed to relax, you know?” Zeph saw her nod.“But weren‟t you „posed to be somewhere?”“Huh?” He turned to Roxie, putting down the pipe.“Yeah, you asked me to remind you… You were supposed to go somewhere today,right?”Crap, he thought. Liz. Suddenly he rose. “Uh, I gotta go.”
  20. 20. “Later, man.”“Bye, Zephy.”*****
  21. 21. “I can explain,” Zeph blurted as he stumbled through the door.
  22. 22. “I was hanging out at Roxie‟s and I lost track of time and I‟m so, so sorry and –Why aren‟t you saying anything?”Liz gave a sad sigh. She seemed to do that a lot these days. “What should Isay, Zeph?” She clasped her hands behind her back. “Should I ask why you wereat Roxie‟s when you were supposed to be at work? Should I ask what happened tothe promise you made, about trying to get better?”
  23. 23. “I am trying,” Zeph interrupted.“Are you? It looks like you‟re doing the same old stuff to me, Zeph. Which was itthis time, drinking or bubbles?”“Liz-”“Zeph-” She sighed again.
  24. 24. “Look, I know you‟re upset, but let me make it up to you. We can still go out; we‟ll-”“I start an early shift tomorrow, Zeph. I told you. I got a promotion.”“You got a promotion? That‟s great. Well, what about after work? We can-”“Zeph… How long is this going to go on?”
  25. 25. “Huh?”“How long are you going to keep „making it up to me‟ and putting things off? Howlong am I going to have to wait for you to pull yourself together?”“Pull my self together? Liz, I died.”“Yeah, ten years ago!”
  26. 26. “What?”“It‟s been years, Zeph! You‟ve grown up, went to college, graduated – Asher ismarried and has three kids! Rose is a child! Don‟t you think it‟s time to move onand let go – just a tiny little bit?”“It‟s not that simple-”“I know, Zeph! I know. I‟ve heard that a lot – and I believe you.”
  27. 27. “But you‟re not even trying. And you won‟t let anyone in-”“That‟s not fair, Liz.”“No, it‟s not. I never see you anymore, Zeph. Now you‟re always out. You‟realways trying to get away. You never seem to want to be here. So I‟m starting towonder why I should.”“Liz... You can‟t mean that.”
  28. 28. “I‟m tired, Zeph. Tired.” She shook her head. “I keep trying and… and a part of meis wondering why I‟m fighting so hard to hold on to something – to someone whoclearly wants to be let go-”“Liz-”“You have to start trying, Zeph. Please. I- I need you to try.”*****
  29. 29. “So what do you think?” Ash asked his wife.Melanie smiled as she bounced Sydney on her hip. “I think it‟s great.”
  30. 30. The new home was the complete opposite of their old one. Bright, cozy, andcheery. The kids would love it here, she knew.
  31. 31. “I‟m going to check out the backyard!” Rose yelled over her shoulder.Melanie smiled at Asher again. She knew how worried he was, but it was obvioushe‟d overreacted yet again. “Okay, sweetie. But listen out for the bus.”“Okay!”
  32. 32. Rose wasn‟t quite sure why Grandpa Andy and the dogs couldn‟t come live withthem, but she had to admit she was liking her new home, even if it was smaller.The playground in the back was just as good as her old one and a new housemeant new places to explore. Overall, she couldn‟t complain.
  33. 33. And neither could the twins. Spencer and Sydney settled in nicely, content as longas there were toys to play with and music to dance to. Their old nursery quicklybecame a fuzzy memory.
  34. 34. And soon enough, the house became fuller with the arrival of another Specter.
  35. 35. “Did you really have to give birth in the bathroom?”“Oh, hush.”“But there‟s just not a lot of room – I wanna see.”Melanie laughed. “Here, you can hold her.”“Her?”
  36. 36. “Yup, it‟s a girl. My blonde hair and someone‟s fabulous blue eyes.”Asher smiled. “Let‟s call her Paige.”
  37. 37. “Okay, then. Say hi to your father, Paige. You‟re officially my last baby – so youcan get that want right out of your panel, mister.”Asher laughed. “How‟d you know? Come here little one. Let‟s go say hi to yoursiblings.”
  38. 38. They were not very impressed. Sydney wanted attention while Spencer seemedmore interested in eating his hand then looking at a baby. Still, Paige was awelcome addition to the household and after she was born, time seemed to fly by.
  39. 39. Rose was a regular ball of energy. She was doing well in school – her favoriteclass was music.
  40. 40. But no matter how much homework she brought home, she always made time toplay with her siblings. Sydney always had something to say, so when the two ofthem played, lots of yells and squeals could be heard all over the house.
  41. 41. Spencer seemed a bit quieter, if only because his sisters were so loud.Nevertheless, he was dragged in the fun as well; Rose taught him all the nurseryrhymes she knew so they could all sing along together. She absolutely loved beinga big sister and she could hardly believe it when the twins‟ birthday came. Soonthey‟d be big enough to play with outside.
  42. 42. A small party was held one afternoon…
  43. 43. And just like that, Sydney (4/8/10/3/10) and Spencer (10/7/7/5/6) were kids. Theyweren‟t the only ones with a birthday, though.
  44. 44. Paige had to be ripped away from her uncle first…
  45. 45. But she grew up too, a smart little cookie - 10/3/9/2/7, so super neat, kinda shy,very active, very serious, and really nice.
  46. 46. Paige was a toddler now and Asher wanted to stay home so he could look afterher, rather than some nanny.
  47. 47. He also wanted to spend a bit more time with the kids in general. Rose wasgrowing up fast. Soon she‟d be too old for nighttime tickles and tucking in.
  48. 48. And so Asher quit his job so he could spend lots of time with his youngest,teaching her skills, playing tickle monster, and telling her stories during the day.“And then the purple bunny said –”“Bunnies do not talk, father. And purple bunnies are biogwenet- biogeneticallyimpossible!” Paige beamed, proud she had managed to say the word correctly.“Uh, Melanie… I think it‟s time to lay off the smart milk...”
  49. 49. “Daddy is silly. There‟s no such thing as too much smart milk.”
  50. 50. Indeed, Paige was very bright child, and, after listening to her mom read from allher skill books, developed a love of logic. The blocks were her favorite toy.
  51. 51. And even if she thought her Daddy‟s stories and rhymes were a bit silly, she lovedspending time with him, too.
  52. 52. “Father, enough of this bunny and toilet nonsense. Tell me the story of Athenaor, better yet, tell me of Darwin and his theories. I like that one best.”“Melanie…”“What? She loves it when I read my textbooks to her.”Asher sighed and shook his head. His children were certainly unique.
  53. 53. Including Rose, who decided to experiment with her look. She was always tryingnew hairstyles and clothes. She said she was trying to find a good rocker image.She loved music and was always banging away on the piano, proving thatcreativity ran in the Specter veins.
  54. 54. Her neatness left a bit to be desired though.
  55. 55. “Uh, oh. Mom‟s not gonna like this.”
  56. 56. “Don‟t worry about it, Syd. It was only our first day.”
  57. 57. “So how was it?” Rose asked after they put their homework down and ran to theplayground. “Did you get Mrs. Morrison? I had her once.”“Yeah,” said Sydney. “But she was awful. I hate school.”“Wha?” Rose sounded skeptical. “That old granny was the nicest lady in theschool!”
  58. 58. “She wrote a note to mom and dad saying that Syd doesn‟t know to play well withothers and needs to learn how to share.”
  59. 59. “Shut up, Spencer!” Paige yelled as Rose nearly fell over with laughter. “Let‟s dosomething else. Let‟s play –”“Pirates!” Rose shouted. “I call captain!” Jumping off the merry-go-round, shescrambled up the playhouse.
  60. 60. “Yar, mateys, this be my ship and I spy enemies on the horizon. Ready thecannons!”
  61. 61. “But I wanna be captain!” Paige ran after her.“I‟m already captain.”“Why do you get to be captain?”“Um… I‟m oldest.”
  62. 62. “But that‟s not fair!”“Well, how do you wanna pick captain?”“Let‟s vote. I pick me.”“And I pick me.”The two girls looked at each other, then yelled, “Spencer!”
  63. 63. Spencer sighed. Mrs. Morrison also said Syd needed to learn how to take turns,he thought.“Spencer picks me! Because we‟re twins, right Spencer?”“Spencer is going to see what dad is doing. Later.”“Aw, Spence,” Rose yelled.
  64. 64. “Well, what do we do now?” Sydney looked to Rose.Rose shrugged. “We‟ll both be captain. I‟ll be captain of a rival pirate ship and we‟llrace to see who discovers the treasure first. Aye, and me thinks I discoveredsomething. Land ho!”*****
  65. 65. “Mind if I hang out with you dad?”“Of course not, buddy. Grab a fishing pole and I‟ll teach you the basics.”“Okay!”
  66. 66. Spencer loved his sisters, but sometimes hanging out with them got to be tiring.Sydney always picked a fight and he always ended up in the middle. Usually whenthat happened, he went to find his dad. He loved spending time with his father.They always did cool stuff and it was nice to get away from all the girls in thehouse every now and then.
  67. 67. He and his dad knew how to be quiet and have a good time without sayinganything at all.*****
  68. 68. Though Asher quit his job, life was far from dull. First there was the headmastervisit. Sydney and Spencer got in with ease.
  69. 69. Then there was the family business. Andy had insisted Asher take the deed,saying he was too old to look after it anymore. Little N‟ Local occasionally requiredhis attention, and though Asher was new to things, it didn‟t take him long to get hisgold sales badge.
  70. 70. He even got a good review.
  71. 71. Back at home Melanie stayed busy skilling for her own LTW.
  72. 72. Paige could often be found nearby, skilling quietly all day and all night.
  73. 73. The other children were a bit closer in age, so they spent a bit more time together,playing games, taunting, and teasing. Overall, life in the new Specter house was avery happy one.*****
  74. 74. One afternoon, Sydney found herself grumbling on the swings, in deep thought.It’s just not fair, she thought. Rose gets way too much attention around here. Allanyone can talk about is the birthday party coming up and how Rose is going togrow up and how they can’t believe she’s grown up so fast and blah, blah, blah.
  75. 75. Why just that day Sydney had finally come home with her first A+ and nobody hadnoticed her for a full five minutes!It’s unbelievable, Sydney fumed. No one pays attention to me around here.
  76. 76. Even Paige thinks Rose is better than me. Rose always plays with her and tries toteach her stuff, trying to show Paige she’s a better older sister than I am.
  77. 77. Sydney had tried teaching Paige nursery rhymes, too, but she always interrupted!
  78. 78. And she never listens to me, either! Sydney thought. That baby is too smart for herown good.
  79. 79. Sydney thought and thought as she swung higher. She needed… A minion! Sheexclaimed suddenly. Yes. That way I’ll look powerful and everyone will look up tome and wanna be my friend and I’ll have someone to boss around, too. But who toget? Spencer never wants to do want I say either. No, I need someone that’ll listenand do what I say.
  80. 80. So the next day Sydney brought home a townie boy after school.“Thanks for inviting me over, Syd. You‟ll really nice. No one ever-”“Yeah, yeah, yeah, listen, Red-”“Houston.”“Huh?”
  81. 81. “My name‟s Houston.”“Yeah… We‟re changing that.”“But-”“You‟re name‟s stupid. I can‟t be associated with stupid people, you get me? Fromnow on I‟ll call you Red and you‟re going to be my lackey.”“Uh, what does that mean?”
  82. 82. Sydney rolled her eyes. Obviously she was going to have to teach him a thing ortwo if he was going to keep up with her. “It means you do what I say, okay?”“Hmm.” Houston‟s face screwed up in thought. Finally he asked, “Can I be yourboyfriend when you grow up?”Sydney rolled her eyes again, then shrugged. “Sure, why not?”“Sweet.”*****
  83. 83. Pretty soon it was the weekend and time for the birthday party.“Hey, wanna play rock, paper, scissors with me?” Rose asked her little sister. Shealways made sure she to spend time with each of her siblings. Being a big sisterwas very important to her.“Alright,” Sydney said after a pause. “As long as I get to beat you in something.”
  84. 84. “In your dreams, blondie.”“One, two, three-”
  85. 85. “HA! In your face!”“Arrgh, no fair!”“Okay, I‟ll do it again then!”
  86. 86. An epic battle ensued. Points were won and lost. Insults were hurled. Taunts werethrown back. Eventually, the girls were tied.
  87. 87. “Urgh, okay, one last one.”“This one‟s for all the marbles,” Rose said. “First one to five is the champion.”“We‟re playing for marbles?”“Ugh, it‟s an expression, Syd. Focus.”Sydney looked at Rose. Rose looked at Sydney. “One, two, three!”
  88. 88. “I WIN!” Sydney couldn‟t help but gloat; she never beat Rose in anything.“Girls,” Melanie called from behind them. “Are you getting ready for the party?”“Coming, Mom!” Rose answered. “This isn‟t over, Syd,” Rose told her sister as thegirls ran to their room to get ready.*****
  89. 89. “Come „ere, squirt; give me hug. I can‟t believe my little girl‟s about to be ateenager.” It was a double birthday for the Specters.“Yup, you‟re getting old, daddy.”Asher laughed.
  90. 90. “No matter how big you get, you‟ll always be my little girl.” Asher squeezed Rosetight.“Is it cake time?”“Not quite. We have to wait for your aunt and uncle to get here.”*****
  91. 91. First up that night was Paige.“Okay, baby girl, time to blow out the candles.”
  92. 92. And Paige grew up into a beautiful little girl.
  93. 93. “Okay, folks, I‟ll just get this cake out of the way for ya.”“Spencer!”“What?”“It‟s okay, Dad,” Rose laughed. “I‟ll share my cake with Rose.”
  94. 94. “Hmm, now what should I wish for?”Rose thought for a moment, then eventually leaned forward to blow out hercandles.
  95. 95. She grew up into a fine young lady, an interesting mix between her mom and herdad.
  96. 96. Paige had run off to change and, after much rummaging in wardrobes, finallyfound something suitable for a young scientist in training.
  97. 97. Rose gave herself a makeover, too, just before bed. She‟d been itching to try thehair dye, eager to create a new, grown up image. She had rolled Popularity, whichas an outgoing and playful Aquarius (5/7/5/7/8), suited her well. Her lifetime wantwas to be a rock star, of course.
  98. 98. “Morning, mom.”“Morning, sweetie,” Melanie smiled at Paige.“So what are everyone‟s plans for today?” It was the weekend and the kids had anice day ahead of them.“I‟m going to brush up on my Latin so I can –”“Boring!” Sydney declared. “Hey, can I invite a friend over?”
  99. 99. “I don‟t see why n-ah!”“Morning, mom.”Spencer looked up from his plate. “Whoa, Rose is in trouble…”“Ooo, you‟re gonna get it!” Sydney teased.
  100. 100. “Quiet you two. Rose, when did you dye your hair?”
  101. 101. “Last night. I think it makes me look cool. All the rock stars dye their hair, mom.”“Yeah, and they all get grounded for it, too,” Sydney snickered.“Hush, Sydney. Ash? You‟re very quiet on this.”
  102. 102. “You‟re forgetting I grew up with Aerith. She dyed her hair pink when she wasmuch younger than Rose. I guess it runs in the family,” He shrugged.“Auntie Aerith had pink hair? Cool!”“Can I dye my hair, too, mom?” Sydney asked.“Oh, dear.” Melanie looked a bit uneasy.
  103. 103. But Asher just laughed. “What about you, Paige? You want to dye your hair, too?”“Of course not, father. Pink hair would never be perceived as appropriate orprofessional in the sciences.”
  104. 104. Spencer looked at his youngest sister. “Do you ever say anything normal?”“…What do you mean?”*****
  105. 105. “Hey, Paige, play rock, paper, scissors with me?”“Why on Earth would I play such a primitive, juvenile game? I told you I have along day of studying ahead.”“Uh, because it‟s fun? And even scientists take the time to have fun, don‟t they?”“…Hmm. True enough, I suppose. Affirmative, then.”
  106. 106. “One, two, three!”
  107. 107. “Ha, ha! Not so smart now!”“Ooo, I‟ll get you! Best two out of three!”“You‟re on!”
  108. 108. “One, two, three –”“YES!” Paige surprised herself by giving a shout of victory. Wanting to win was aninfectious condition it seemed.“Aw, I knew I shoulda picked scissors! Last one.”“One, two, three!”
  109. 109. “Winner again!”“Aw, come on!”“Another sim is once again dazzled by my brilliance!” Paige bragged. “Logicdictated that you would want to choose scissors because that‟s what you shouldhave picked last round, but you would actually choose rock again, since youthought that I thought you would choose scissors, what with you having lamentedover it.”
  110. 110. “Therefore, choosing paper again was obviously the only rational conclusion.”“Yeah. Obviously.” Spencer sighed. “I‟m gonna go see what dad‟s doing. I think Ihear the train set.”“Did you know the word hear is a homonym? In my readings, I learned that –”“Ugh, Paige!”*****
  111. 111. Asher was indeed outside and he was all too happy to have some company.“You wanna help me add some trees, little guy?”
  112. 112. “Yeah!” Spencer exclaimed. “That‟d be cool! And we can add a lake next! Or atown!” He loved spending time with his dad and was perfectly content to passaway the afternoon on the porch fiddling with the train set.
  113. 113. While Paige was inside studying and Spencer was with Dad, Sydney thought itwas the perfect time to invite Houston over.“Okay, here‟s the deal, Red-”“Actually, my name is-”“Ugh,” Sydney groaned.
  114. 114. “I thought we went over this last time, Red. Your name is lame. It‟s never going toget us anywhere and it‟ll only stand out in our supercool rock band.”“We have a rock band? Since when?”“Since now, which I could tell you about if you would shut up.” Houston sighed. Hehad a feeling being a lackey meant a lot of nodding and silence. “Are youlistening, Red? I‟m gonna be lead, okay? And you‟ll be my back up.” Houstonsighed again.*****
  115. 115. “Hey, dad,” Rose called over the train‟s whistle. “I‟m gonna go downtown!”Asher laughed, fully realizing Rose hadn‟t actually asked for permission, but heagreed anyway and waved her off. “Sure thing, honey. Just be back before ten soyour mother doesn‟t worry.”“Okay!”
  116. 116. Asher smiled to himself, thinking of those teenager days long ago when he andZephyr had snuck out and gallivanted about the town. They had thoughtthemselves cool, but they never ended up anywhere too dangerous.“Alright,” he looked at Spencer once there was a spattering of trees on the table.“What do you want to add next?”Spencer scrunched his face for a moment. “The lake!” He exclaimed.***
  117. 117. “Alright, squirt, let‟s go!”Paige frowned. She had been unable to release herself from her sister‟s graspand, consequently, was dragged outside. “I thought you were going downtown orsomething?”“I am, but not before I drag you out here to get some sun!”“I do not require sun, sister. I require sufficient light and quiet time for my stud-”
  118. 118. Paige‟s protest stopped abruptly and turned into a fit of giggles as her big sistertickled her.“You need to learn how to have some fun, Paige. Lighten up.”“But reading is fun,” Paige said in between gasps for air.“Still you could use some fresh air. Promise me you‟ll play outside for an hour.”Paige sighed. “But.. You won‟t be here. It will be just me and Sydney.”
  119. 119. “Yeah, and?” Rose laughed as Paige hopped on the merry-go-round.“She will just make me pretend be a backup on her world tour or some otherunsavory background character for something else.”“Sydney‟s pretending to be in a band?” Why am I not surprised? Rose thought.Sydney wanted to do everything she did. “Well look, you‟ll be fine, okay? Just taketurns. And if she does boss you around, I‟ll thump her for you later, alright?”Paige sighed. “Fine. I guess an hour outside won‟t kill me.”
  120. 120. “Paige! There you are! I need another backup singer for my world tour.”Paige rolled her eyes. “How about you be my assistant in my research laboratory?”“Ew, no. We‟re playing my game.”“But I don‟t want to play your game.”Sydney fumed for a second, then tapped her chin. She had a idea. “Okay, how‟sabout we play for it? I win, you play my game. You win, we do yours?” Paige agreed.
  121. 121. Sydney won the first round. “Haha, you lose, now you have to be my backup.”“Not so fast, sister. We agreed that the first one to three wins, remember?”Sydney sighed. “Oh, alright, but I don‟t know why you bother. You know I‟m goingto beat you.”
  122. 122. “You were saying, sister?”“Ugh, lucky guess, squirt. I can still cream you.”
  123. 123. “Yes!” Paige gave a small fist pump. “The superior intellect wins again.”“Hey!” Sydney pouted. “You haven‟t beat me yet.”“It is only a mere question of time,” Paige couldn‟t help but rub her win in hersister‟s face.The pair got ready for another round.
  124. 124. “Ha!” Sydney stuck out her tongue. “I‟m back in the game. Who‟s smug, now?”“Apparently you.”Sydney scowled.
  125. 125. “One, two, three…” The girls counted in unison.
  126. 126. “YES! I win. You have to play my game, now.”Sydney groaned. “Oh, forget this. I don‟t need another backup that bad, anyway.You‟re on your own, squirt.” Sulking, she stomped off toward the backyard.Paige just rolled her eyes and headed back inside. There was easily another tomeshe could read up on.*****
  127. 127. Rose left Comandgo Emporium a little disappointed. She had been hoping to meetsome cool new people and perhaps a cute boy or two, but the place was sadlylacking for company.
  128. 128. All she found was a way too pushy goth kid. Rose liked the deep, rocker vibe, butwasn‟t really interested in anyone who wore more makeup than she did.
  129. 129. So she left for the park. Only one kid her age and a bunch of old people playingchess.
  130. 130. “Oh, fountain goddess or whatever,” Rose sighed as she took in the lonely fountainat the edge of the square. “Is it too much to ask to find a cute boy I am reasonablyattracted to whom I can ask on a date and maybe spend the rest of my life with?Okay, scratch that last part. But seriously, a boyfriend would be nice.”
  131. 131. She decided to hang out around the Corner Shoppes for a bit next. First, she got abrand new cell phone.
  132. 132. “Sweet! Teenage freedom here I come.”
  133. 133. Then she hung around the mini arcade.
  134. 134. It was when she was hungry and wandered over to the café that she saw him. Thehottest guy that ever lived.
  135. 135. Heath Hanby.
  136. 136. Rose tried to play it cool. Calmly, she grabbed a seat and placed an order. Thenshe spent the next fifteen minutes stealing glances at the boy. It was weird. Shewasn‟t normally so shy, but then, this wasn‟t a normal boy, she could tell. Alreadyher heart was racing and her palms were sweaty and she felt nervous. Very, verynervous.
  137. 137. “Okay, keep it cool,” Rose muttered to herself. She tried to come up with a way tointroduce herself. “He‟s done with his food, so maybe before he leaves, I can getup and say hi. Get his number.”“Oh!”Rose looked up at the sudden gasp from the waitress. From the look on her face,something was up and it wasn‟t anything good.
  138. 138. Then the tray she was holding flipped out of the waitress‟ hand and Rose knew itwas anything good.“Why me?” She muttered.
  139. 139. Just before a tray of food rained down on her.“Ack!”“Sorry, so sorry, I‟ll get you another one please-”“Don‟t bother,” Rose snapped.
  140. 140. She was humiliated. She was sticky and wet and covered in something she didn‟teven order in front of her crush! He probably saw the whole thing and waslaughing. She couldn‟t introduce herself now. Head down in shame, Rosepractically ran back home without so much as a backward glance.*****
  141. 141. “So let me get this straight.”Aerith was in some club – The Crypt, to be exact; it was quieter and better fortalking - sitting across from the guy she could have sworn was following her. Theguy who apparently knew the Contessa. The guy, who, despite his normal skin andadmittedly handsome features, happened to be a vampire. Like her.
  142. 142. “You‟re… Wes?”“That‟s me! Westley Owen Graham.”“And… you‟re a vampire.” Wes smiled, revealing sharp, pointed teeth. “Yes, butare you… real? Like, I mean, how come–”“How come I don‟t have the glowing purple skin and scary red eyes?”
  143. 143. “Well, I was going to say how come you don‟t look like me, but yeah.”Wes smiled again. “No one really looks like you anymore. Just the old ones.”Aerith furrowed her brows. “You mention something like that before. What doesthat mean, exactly? The old ones?”“It‟s exactly as it sounds. They‟re the oldest vampires.”
  144. 144. “You mean the original vampires?” Aerith asked, surprised.But Wes shook his head. “Naw, no one really knows who the originals are. Butthere are a group older than all the rest. We call them the old ones, vampireroyalty. They have the purple skin and red eyes and –”“Like the Contessa.”“Exactly. That‟s probably how she got her name, too.”
  145. 145. “I mean, I suppose she could have been a Contessa once,” Wes shrugged. “But Idoubt it.”“Right. So… You‟re not –”“An old one? No.”“So how old are you?”
  146. 146. “Much older than you.”“But how can you tell? You said –”“You have the skin, but you act like a fledgling. Plus I‟ve been watching you.”“You‟ve been watching me?”“How could I not? To be honest, I can barely take my eyes off you.”
  147. 147. Aerith blushed as Wes winked at her. She tried to remember what they‟d beentalking about. “But how old are you really?”“I‟ve seen the times change enough to know that this is one of the morecomfortable eras.” He rocked back, balancing his chair on two legs.Aerith stared at him, unsure of whether to believe him. “So if you‟re that old… Um,I mean…. How come you don‟t look like the Contessa?”
  148. 148. “Well, like I said, I‟m not as old as the Contessa. Vampire blood‟s diluted over theyears, mixing with human blood and all that, so newer vampires don‟t look samenor do they have the same strength.”“So you‟re not as powerful as the Contessa,” Aerith couldn‟t help but bedisappointed. It looked like this guy couldn‟t help her.“True, but I do have some years on me. I‟m pretty powerful.” Wes shifteduncomfortably in his seat, unused to having to impress a woman. Normally, it onlytook a bit of charm and they were swooning all over him.
  149. 149. “I‟m more powerful than you, for instance, and I still know loads of things youdon‟t.”“Oh?”“Yes. So you‟re in luck, really. Aren‟t you glad you met me?”“Except I didn‟t just happen to meet you, you were following me.”
  150. 150. “Well, maybe I followed you to a few places –”“Where I come from, we call that stalking.”Wes smiled sheepishly. “Okay, I apologize. But honestly, I had to. You‟re so new tothings, I had to be sure you weren‟t going to hurt yourself. I was merely waiting forthe proper time to introduce myself.”Aerith raised her brows. “Right.”
  151. 151. “Seriously. It‟s what I do.”“You stalk people for a living?”“Haha, no. I help others like us, like you. Fledglings. Me and my brother.”“You have a brother?”“Yes. It‟s all his idea, actually.” Wes waved a hand dismissively. “We help newvampires come into their own, discover their powers, and stay safe.”
  152. 152. “Really?”“Really. We build covens or clans. My brother was tired of vampires randomlyturning sims then leaving them to fend for themselves. So now we seek outvampires and teach them about themselves.”“Doesn‟t really sound like your dream.”Wesley shrugged. “Either way, it‟s what I do. And if I‟m not mistaken, you‟relooking for some guidance, no?”
  153. 153. “…Yes –”“So I can help you. Teach you how to adapt. In fact, we‟ve just began a smallcoven –”“But I don‟t want to adapt, I want to cure myself! I never wanted to be a vampire! Ihad a life; plans! I was – what?” Aerith trailed off at the disappointed look on Wes‟face.
  154. 154. He shrugged again. “Nothing. …It‟s just I can‟t really help you with that.”“But you must know of a cure! Even the gyspy –”Wes gave a harsh laugh. “Gypsies aren‟t true mages. They don‟t know anythingexcept how to swindle customers. The only cure I know of for our condition isdeath.”Aerith gulped. “That can‟t be right.”
  155. 155. “It is. And even if there was some magical cure I –” Wes stopped suddenly.“What? Tell me.”He looked at her, studied her eyes for a moment. “Even if there was a way,” he saidquietly, “I wouldn‟t tell you. We vampires… We respect our elders. We respect whatthey have done. I could never undo what the Contessa did, even if I had the power.…I know this must be hard to hear, but… Well, you were bitten for a reason.”
  156. 156. “And what reason is that?” Aerith demanded angrily.Wes shrugged again. “I don‟t know. I‟m not the Contessa. But I do know they don‟treally bite sims anymore, so if an old one took it upon herself to bite you…” Heraised a shoulder. “Consider yourself honored.”“Honored?!”“Yes, especially given the alternative.” When Aerith continued to look at himblankly, he added, “Death.”
  157. 157. “But I wasn‟t dead!”“But you were about to be. You were dying, weren‟t you?”“No, I wasn‟t! I was in a club, minding my own business – completely, 100%healthy mind you – when the Contessa came over, grabbed me and bite me!”“Really?” For the first time, Wes looked genuinely surprised. He even stoppedbalancing his chair.
  158. 158. “That is very curious,” Wes scratched his chin. “But it doesn‟t change your currentpredicament. You still need a way to learn about vampires, yes? And here I amoffering to teach you.”Aerith sighed, forced to concede the point. “…What are you suggesting?”“Let me take you under my wing. Teach you what you want to know, introduce youto the other vampires in the area.”
  159. 159. At this Aerith perked up. “You mean you can talk to the Contessa? Maybe you canget her to talk to me!”“Well, that‟s not exactly what I meant…”“Please,” Aerith pleaded. “She‟s the only one who knows why – why all of this ishappening,” she finished lamely.Wes considered Aerith. “I suppose I could pull a few strings…”
  160. 160. Aerith smiled a brilliant smile and Wes‟ heart did a little flip.“Great. Then we have a deal?”“Yes,” Wes said. “I suppose we do.”*****
  161. 161. Zephyr sighed as he took out the garbage. Lately it felt like he was always leavingsome mess behind to clean up later. He was about to turn and head back into thehouse when he spotted something out of the corner of his eye.
  162. 162. A wolf.Zephyr approached it slowly, stopping just in front of it before he bent down.
  163. 163. “Hey, boy.” He reached out and gave the wolf a good rub down.
  164. 164. The wolf licked his hand in return.“What are you doing here, huh?” Zeph patted its neck. He looked at he sky andthe autumn sun. The air was crisp and clear. He looked back at the wolf.“You wanna go for a run?”*****The End.
  165. 165. In case you‟re wondering, yes, this same waitress spilled something on one of thegen one kids – Zephyr I believe, way back in chapter four. I wonder if it‟s going tobecome a tradition. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed yourself, but that‟s all for now.Later, simmers and happy reading.