Welcome back to the Norrington Legacy. Last time we left off Asher was having trouble with his temper, Trace was indulging in his deviant side, Abby was waiting for Mr. Finch to propose and Lora was practicing her wooing . I advise you read the previous chapters but if you’re feeling daring, tuck in! After three years at University, Asher was finally moving into the honorable brotherhood at Weatherton hall. He was welcomed by fellow brothers, Barrington Finch (on keyboards) and Mr. Roger Davies.
Barrington Finch was creative and musically inclined. And all who listened (Roger’s delicate ears aside), found him to be quite proficient. A family sim who has a yearning to breed pups and kits. Perhaps 20 ( ha bloody ha ). I doubt Abigail would appreciate such a thing. (pisces – 4 sloppy, 5 shy, 7 active, 3 serious, 6 nice. turn ons: make up and athletics. turn off: zombies)
Roger Davies was neither creative like Barrington nor as charming as our dear Asher. In fact he was quite a dull fortune sim who’s greatest aspiration was to be a City Planner. A reasonable goal for an unremarkable young man. (a cancer – 6 neat, 4 shy, 4 lazy, 3 serious, 8 nice. turn ons: black hair and a good cook. turn off: a hard worker. guess he wants to keep his little woman at home barefoot and pregnant. and just between you and me, he skills so slowly I think he may be mildly retarded)
Due to his simple nature, Roger worked on his building skills nearly nonstop to keep himself busy. He chose to major in economics. Numbers and toy building brought him a great deal of comfort… and it also kept him from setting the house on fire.
Barrington was the family man of the group. All his actions were in aid of his future goal to find himself a good wife and settle down. In fact he thought about it non stop. And when he wasn’t thinking about marriage, he pondered the many children he hoped to have or adopt in the future. Yeah, he and Abby are made for one another.
And Asher… well he was able to get back in touch with his roots. Weatherton Hall boasted a fine garden and a small pond. He spent a great deal of time out back relieving stress. No one dared step forth into Asher’s private sanctuary when the young man was in one of his moods.
Speaking of moods, seems Mr. Terrance Trower, while staying in his family townhouse in Simcambridge, reacted quite poorly to being spied on by a university student. Asher of course was not having it. What makes Mr. Trower think it was his skinny bare arse that Asher was spying on anyway?
And finally the time had come. Barrington decided to ask for Abigail’s hand. So after calling his lady fair, he dressed in his best and called for a carriage. At first glance, one would never guess at the nerves running wild beneath his confident visage. Abigail looked angelic of course. She had a pretty good idea that tonight was the night she’d been waiting for. Barrington felt as though his breath had been taken away. “ You look absolutely stunning.” He whispered reverently. Abby blushed. “Thank you. As do you.” “ Shall we head inside?” Barrington offered his arm. “Wouldn’t want to miss our reservation.”
Sitting down to dinner, Barrington and Abby felt the first actualization of love. Though both were too shy to voice their feelings out loud, it was there. So lost in their revelation the pair hardly noticed the waiter prattle on about the daily specials. (I always get their food wrong. They want stuff I can’t recognize)
And when the moment finally came, Barrington couldn’t have asked for a more pleasant reaction. Abby was pleased as a peddler with a penny and her pretty face glowed with joy. “ Oh Barrington, it’s absolutely lovely!” “ Then it compliments it’s owner well.”
Afterward the newly engaged couple took a romantic stroll through he gardens. There under the moonlight Barrington couldn’t help but fall to his knees and serenade his wife to be with a song. (shy though he may be, barrington is a hopeless romantic) “ I suppose it would be inappropriate to kiss you with so many witnesses?” He ventured cheekily. Abby smiled shyly. “Yes, and we wouldn’t want them to stare.”
With only a moment’s hesitation, Barrington took Abby in his arms and whispered breathlessly, “ Let them stare.”
Meanwhile Trace continued (though halfheartedly at best) to sort through potential wives. Ms. Marilla Tyson was a young widow of no name and little to live on. Still, she was beautiful, charming and knew all the right things to say in order to flatter young, eligible men. And when he wasn’t busy skilling, doing group research or writing his term paper, Trace was sneaking off and falling in love with James.
Back at the Ladies College, while Abby was waking with a new spring in her step, things had hardly even begun for Lora. She was still looking for her ‘one and only’. Though she had plenty of admirers to choose from, Lora was quite particular. With term almost at an end, both girls were firmly occupied. While typing term papers, Abby dreamed of the family she would soon have while Lora continued her correspondence with Mr. Roger Davies. After weeks of letters and phone conversation, Lora felt they were ready to meet. She found him to be promising. He liked her cooking skills and she in turn favored his facial hair. Ah, a match made in heaven.
When the two finally agreed to meet for an afternoon walk, Roger was clearly taken aback at his luck to have landed such a lovely girl. Lora smiled. “I do hope that impression of a landed trout is your endearing way of saying you like my frock.”
They spent the afternoon enjoying one another’s company. Roger was impressed not only by her pretty face but her admirable domestic skills. And Lora wasn’t the least bit insulted when he explained that he believed a wife was to be kept and kept well. “ I think that being kept well would suit me just fine, Mr. Davies.” Many an afternoon was spent engaging in such innocent diversion. And if Roger was at all shocked by Lora’s forward behavior, he kept his complaints to himself. He quite enjoyed the hello and farewell kisses he was granted at each meeting. (good thing he wasn’t aware that he had mr. mcferren to thank for Lora’s proficiency)
Lora in turn greatly enjoyed the small (and not so small) tokens of Roger’s affection she regularly received. For someone so slow, he certainly knew how to keep a lady happy. Lora was immensely content and had eyes for no one else. For a romance sim she was quite restrained.
Which is more than I can say for Abigail who spent a good percentage of time thinking of other young men. Amar, the shop-boy, in particular. She had a habit of getting herself into compromising situations. Though Abby was pleased to have made a good match with Barrington, she couldn’t help but wonder “what if?” She of course tried to keep these unlady like desires to herself. (but she couldn’t hide her naughty thoughts from me)
But she wasn’t always successful. Case in point: At dinner one evening Jane Staples confided in Abby a most scandalous secret. She found their fellow student, Shirley Blackwell quite fetching. After a moment’s pause, Abby admitted to understanding the attraction. (a bby dearest, you’re a whore. and I think young allison in the back agrees with me. )
Thankfully, the term had ended and Abby was going back home to await Barrington’s graduation. Hopefully she would be kept out of trouble back in the cradle of her parents’ arms. Despite being sad about ending her short adventure in the world, Abby was gracious enough to wish Lora the best of luck with Mr. Davies.
Speaking of adventures, Alice arrived the next morning to begin her own. Lora was quick to greet her little sister and began lecturing immediately on the best way to embark upon her collegiate tenure. “ And I’m pleased you took my advice with the green suit. It truly does bring out your eyes and that will help distract young men from you acerbic personality.”
“ I’m not interested in any young men.” Alice quipped good naturedly. She couldn’t be insulted when she was so pleased to see her older sister. Besides she knew Lora meant no harm. “I intend on making as many friends as I can. I have the rest of my life to be married and I’m certainly in no rush.” Lora gave her sister a sympathetic shake of her head. “Oh Alice , you poor, misguided little dear.”
Misguided or not, Alice began networking right away. Despite her ‘acerbic personality’, she was well liked and included in all the gatherings on campus. Though forced to earn her first cooking point, she thoroughly enjoyed her studies and did well in her classes. And like her oldest brother before her, Alice always won at Mahjong.
Back at Weatherton Hall, Roger had decided to meet with Mr. Stuart Norrington. So Asher, being a good friend, invited his family to the fraternity for the evening. He hoped that introducing his father to Roger would make things easier for everyone involved.
While Roger was pleading his case, Evelyn took a moment to mount her own investigation. “ So tell me Asher,” She kept her voice low. “What is this young man like? You sister speaks only of all the treasures with which he showers her. And while I love Lora dearly, I must question her choice. Is he a good man? Is he worthy of her?” She dropped to a whisper. “Can he afford her?” Asher smirked. “I would not have vouched for his character if I felt anything less than confident that he and Lora would do well together. I think they will keep one another quite content.”
Stuart too had to agree that while Roger seemingly lacked any obvious intelligence, he was clearly capable of providing Lora the sparkling life she desired. With yards of trimming lace to match. Nor did he seem to want for more than what Lora would be capable of and happy to give in return. With far less hesitation this time, Stuart gladly gave Mr. Davies his blessing.
With that out of the way, it was time for Asher to graduate. And time to make some hard hitting decisions. Alice was more than happy to help him plan his graduation party but she vetoed his suggestion to meet any of his male friends. “ Come now little sister, I think you’d find Raymond quite pleasing. Besides, I prefer for the couples to be established in advanced. Lora has informed me that having an uneven number of dance partners is horribly gauche.” He finished with a chuckle. “ Don’t think I can’t see what you’re trying to do Asher.” She snapped back. “ You’ve nearly married off two sisters and now you’re working on a third. Are you trying to single handedly marry off all four of us?!”
And soon the celebration was well under way. Some were dancing, others played games, baby sister Annie made a beeline for the bubble blower. Despite Asher’s hopes, Raymond didn’t make much of an impression on Alice, who had agreed to an introduction and a bit of small talk . Unfortunately she never promised to be nice. Olivia couldn’t help but ask if there wasn’t something certifiably wrong with Alice. Asher could only chuckle in reply.
And in the middle of all that joviality, Asher finally made the move he’d been wanting to do for years. Olivia, having resigned herself to an exhaustively long (and possibly never ending) courtship, was speechless. Asher watched her with the eyes of an anxious child. “Well, what say you? Do you think you could possibly tolerate my unruly self for a lifetime?”
Olivia gave him a watery smile. “For a lifetime and more.” She whispered.
Unfortunately for them both, their lifetime together would have to wait while Asher studied abroad. He graduated with a 4.0 Suma Cum Laude and into a hideous outfit. My first ever sim graduate. Yay! One down and only several more to go, yeesh.
Having passed her Freshman Art class with a B, Lora turned to perfecting her domestic skills. Since she could already paint, play violin and dance very well, she took on pottery. When she wasn’t in class, spending quality time with Roger or gleefully accepting his expensive gifts, Lora could be found here; Making decorative tea sets which she painted herself.
Alice, on the other hand, cared nothing for, what she considered, frivolous activities. She had chosen to study Political Science and spent nearly all her time socializing. Like her brother Asher, there were those who found her too abrasive for polite company and gave her a wide berth. But she too had a fair share of kindred spirits. Alice absolutely loved the freedom of University.
Going back to the men’s college, we find Trace in the middle of yet another outing with yet another young woman who fails to ring his bell. There was the gold digging young widow, Ms. Marilla Tyson. No special skills beside promoting herself… (s orry marilla. you’re nice but if trace can’t marry the man he wants, then he’ll need to settle for a woman with money, great chemistry or mad phat skillz )
Then there was Miss Sally Jenkins, a young Philosophy student enrolled at the ladies college. While she neither cooks or cleans, she is creative and the two of them got along quite nicely with one bolt. Still, Trace had to keep looking… (I like sally. there’s just something sweet about her)
Alice Strain not only came from money but she was also excessively fond of Trace’s logical side. She too inspired a bolt of chemistry with Trace. (definitely cute and I love the red hair. a pretty girl who adores his brains? not bad at all) While he enjoyed her company, there was something holding him back from getting too interested…
That something was actually waiting for Trace to return from his afternoon stroll with Alice. James was none too pleased with the female company Trace had been keeping if the steam coming from his burning ears was any indication.
“ Why must you rub it in my face?” James argued almost as soon as Trace had closed the door. “Not only do I keep my feelings for you hidden from prying eyes but now I have to see you flaunting your lady friends about campus on a regular basis.” “ Are you serious?” Trace was taken aback. “James, do you hear to yourself?” Trace snapped. “Have you forgotten your senses? Of course I have to spend time with those young women. We both have obligations to our families to uphold!”
“ Don’t speak to me of obligations!” James cried. “I can’t stand to see you with them and I wont stand for it any longer!” “ Oh stop this ! You're making a fool of yourself with all this feminine whinging!” “ Whinging !?”
“ James, we’ve discussed this before. These girls mean nothing to me. I’m only trying to appease my father!” “ And how far will you go for his appeasement?” James asked quietly. “How long before the ruse becomes reality and I lose you for good?”
The tortured question blew the remaining anger from Trace’s sails and he pulled James firmly into his arms. “ You will not lose me.” He spoke in earnest. “I'll always be yours.” Anxious blue eyes gazed at him. “How can you be certain?” Having no answer for his beloved (or himself for that matter),Trace chose to simply comfort them both with a series of breath stealing kisses.
On Asher’s recommendation, both Roger and Barrington offered Raymond the honor of pledging their esteemed brotherhood. And while he was busy proving himself worthy by cleaning their home… They also extended an invitation to Trace. He had the honor of pulling weeds.
With the house sorted and his tenure at Sterlington University nearly over, Roger invited Lora out to dinner at The Smoking Llama. It boasted a eclectic clientele and he knew Lora would appreciate the worldly atmosphere for what would be the most important night of her young life. (thinks a lot of himself, don’t he?)
The proposal went well and Lora was good enough to pretend utter surprise, all the while assessing the quality of her diamond. Roger had seen to it that she had only the best. “ Does it please you, dearest?” “ Oh darling it’s wonderful. Color, clarity… I shall the be envy of every girl I know!”
It was only after she’d placed the rock on her finger that Lora felt the first twinge of regret. She wondered if perhaps she should have held out for something more. Courting had been such fun but now that it was settled, some of the excitement had dissipated. She was quick to silence such disparaging thoughts with a glass of wine. She'd made a fine match. Roger was financially stable, kind, straight forward and easy to please. And she did care for him deeply, which was ever so important. What good was a rich husband who encouraged no affection from his own wife?
As Roger saw her home, Lora reminded herself that while the thrill of courtship was past and perhaps the bloom of her girlhood quickly fading, there was plenty of future excitement to be had: Marriage, motherhood, a home of her own… not to mention the many celebratory parties to be thrown. And she had no doubt Roger would see to her happiness in everything. Now was no time to regret childhood lost. There was a wedding to plan. Just think of all the lace!
Her goal of finding a suitable husband accomplished, Lora was ready to head home to plan her upcoming nuptials with her mother. But not before greeting her baby sister Annie who had arrived only that morning. It didn’t take very long before she was getting on the young woman’s nerves just like old times. “ Please Lora!” Annie cried. “I’ve just arrived. I don’t need a rambling diatribe on the benefits of matching my dress to my eyes! It’s enough that we’re wearing the same color! Besides, Mama is the one who insisted on this horrid pattern.”
“ Oh don’t be cross Annie. It’s unbecoming. I’m only remarking on how well you’ve grown up. Mama chose the high cut well. You look lovely and it shall suit your exuberant nature . ” Lora nodded approvingly. “A proper English young lady, at last .” Annie snorted. “Yes, who would have thought it possible?” (exuberant is a polite way of saying she runs wild. even now her hair looks like she just went for a run through the woods)
And one of the first things this proper young lady set out to do was break in the furniture in the grand salon. Her second order of business was to take a carriage into town, in search of her pirate. Like Lora, Annie was determined to find the perfect husband. If she must be married, then she would make the best of this opportunity in finding him.
It was in The Smoking Llama, at a questionable card game, that she first spotted him. Count Nicolas Clifford. A mysterious, well traveled man of (it was rumored) great fortune. Annie felt there was something off about him: his carriage, pale pallor and preternatural eyes. But she’d never been one to run from anything.
After politely waiting for an available seat, Annie joined The Count for a game. “ What on earth,” He drawled in a rich baritone. “is an innocent creature like yourself, doing in a place like this, at this time of night?” “ Same as you, I imagine.” Annie lifted her chin bravely. “Are you in or not?” Count Nicolas smirked. “Oh, I’m most certainly in.”
The game was intense and Annie did quite well for herself. And if The Count allowed her to bluff him a few too many times while he watched with an intrigued eye, that was his secret to keep. There was something about Annie that peaked his interest. He seemed to peak hers as well. “ I won!” Annie squealed happily. “Forty and two hundred pounds! A decent amount in deed.” “ Well played.” Count Nicolas nodded graciously. “Would you perhaps… care to dance?”
Despite subtle warning bells in her mind, Annie accepted his arm and allowed him to sweep her across the floor of the lounge. After stepping on his polished shoes more than once, Annie blushed. “ I’m sorry. I’m afraid I’m not as practiced as I should be. No one to dance with, you see.” As she stared into The Count’s blazing eyes, she felt suddenly lost and compelled to act outside of her own freewill. “I feel… strange.” Annie whispered. “Your… your eyes…”
The space between them grew smaller and Annie felt a burst of heat as his cold lips touched her own. The Count’s blood warmed at the feel of her in his arms. He’d expected the innocence but not this overwhelming sense of renewal. There was an unforeseen sweetness about Annie’s aura. Her scent was compelling and flooded his senses with the promise of pleasure… of a new life.
The sound of Annie’s blood rushed in The Count’s ears and with a violent roar he pushed her away. Annie stared back at him in confusion, her blues eyes still glossed over. “ Wha… “ She swayed on her feet. “What’s happened?” “ You little girl, have no business here.” Count Nicolas scolded. “Leave this place now. Before trouble finds you.” with that he swept away.
Back at Weatherton Hall, Trace had decided to move into the fraternity house. Though it wasn’t anything like the peaceful experience he imagined it would be. Barrington had a tendency to play the piano like a possessed demon, banging the ivories and flooding the house with beautiful but loud, headache inducing symphonies. Not mentioning the other , not-quite-so-academic, distractions they had to deal with.
Speaking of headaches, the latest potential prospect was Miss Andromeda Hawes. Not especially handsome and so irritating that Trace found himself reminiscing fondly over his painful evenings with Miss Ormley. Andromeda came from money and had the attitude to prove it. Despite her dowry, neither her lack of skills, incompatible chemistry nor her dreadful conversation made the price worth it.
By coincidence, after happily saying goodnight to Miss Hawes, Trace found his sister Annie wandering about with a bewildered look on her face. “ Annie! I heard you’d arrived.” He embraced her quickly. “What on earth are you doing out so late and by your lonesome?” Annie shook her head. “I… I was playing cards.” She muttered, still somewhat confused. She couldn't remember how she'd gotten back to campus. “ Cards? There isn't anyplace suitable to be playing cards at this hour. The clubhouse has been closed since sundown.” Trace frowned. “Are you alright? You look decidedly ill.” He took her arm when she didn't seem capable of answering. “Come, let me see you home.”
Some blocks away, love’s young dream was bringing their very own romantic evening to a late finish. They look absolutely darling, don’t they? Yes, they do play the part well. Yet, there was something not quite right between Barrington and Abigail. Despite their showy love for one another, it's their private thoughts that make me doubt the sincerity of their countless professions.
Take Barrington; Two bolts of chemistry for his fiancé and three for his soon-to-be mother in law, Evelyn. With whom he is more than a little obsessed. This thought bubble spends far too much time atop his head of raven locks. Lora is often featured as well.
And we already know about Abby’s questionable behavior and her lapsing lack of discretion when engaged with the opposite sex. While Roger may have been too oblivious to realize the awkwardness of this moment, Abby wasn’t. “ Barrington, you’re back!” Abby smiled weakly. “We weren’t expected you so soon.” “ Clearly.” Barrington took in her slightly flushed expression. “Class ended early.” “ How… fortunate.” Abby pretended not to notice Barrington’s open suspicion.
But enough about those two. In the days that followed, Annie found herself daydreaming about the unusual man she’d encountered at the pub. She wondered where he was from and what sights he may have seen. His older, more experienced view of the world enticed her and Annie latched onto this fantasy with a fervor only the young possess.
So imagine her surprise when she discovered that she too had become the object of one’s obsession. The Count was unable to control his own desire to seek Annie out and finally traced her scent back to the ladies college. “ Count Clifford!” Annie was taken aback. “Whatever brings you to campus?” “ Many things, against my better judgment.” He muttered. “You seem to have a fondness for night.”
“ I like to gaze at the stars.” Annie explained. “And your excuse?” “ I…” The Count paused. “I wanted to offer apologies for my abrupt dismissal the other evening. I was simply unprepared and admittedly overwhelmed…” “ Overwhelmed?” Annie frowned. “What by?” “ I find you compelling, Miss Norrington. I can not say why. I’ve seen many a pretty face in my time, but you…”
“ You’ve bewitched me.” He finished, his voice the richest velvet. Annie flushed. “Well, when you put it that way, apology accepted.” (leave it to annie to fall for a vampire. lol)
In an unspoken agreement, they continued to meet after sunset, though Annie never questioned why. His apparent dislike of sunlight only made Count Nicolas more interesting. He wasn’t quite the creative, Pirate Chef she’d envisioned for herself as a girl but he was just as exotic. And she loved his tales of adventure, though she wondered how he had found time to achieve so much.
And when he claimed his preference was to see her done up in velvet dress robes and without any face paint marring her innocent visage, Annie admired his honesty. “ Me , in sophisticated gowns? A childlike Empress to rule by your side? Lora would be so pleased.”
Against all reason and propriety, Count Nicolas succumbed to her childish charms. Annie was both naïve and yet aware. Her blue eyes were wide open, ready to accept all that was thrown at her delicate feet. After many years spent in darkness, perhaps The Count had found someone with whom to share his long, lonely life.
Trace and James too were a couple who enjoyed nocturnal rendezvous. Under the cover of dark neither young man need hide their affections for one another. And now that James had also been invited to pledge Weatherton Fraternity, they had even more time and (most important) privacy to be together.
The two enjoyed laying in the hay pile out back, beneath the stars. Here they were hidden from all prying eyes and protected from the elements as well. “ I wish to relive this moment for always.” James sighed blissfully. “Should I live to see three-hundred, I don’t believe I shall ever exceed the contentment I feel right now.” Trace pressed a kiss to his hair. “I wouldn’t mind putting that theory to the test.” He turned smoldering eyes on his partner. “Shall we see just how content I can truly make you feel?”
“ Long underwear?” James smirked nervously, once he and Trace had undressed. “How dashing.” Trace blushed. “I was raised on a farm. What did you expect? Satin breeches?” “ I’m only teasing, love.” James cooed. “Come here farmer boy.”
Later on they snuggled together, safe from the light rain that had begun to fall. As Trace held James’ lithe body against him, he fought against the nagging feeling that this comfort would be short lived. The frail bubble in which their relationship existed could pop at any time. (trace and james’ transgression doesn’t count toward the ‘no woohoo outside of marriage’ thing since trace is a spare. And he’s a male so he could’ve gotten away with it)
Returning to the ladies college, Lora had finally earned her gold pottery badge and was ready to catch a train back to Guilford. But not before finding out which dashing young man had stolen her little sister’s heart. “ I shall wheedle it out of you eventually.” Lora threatened jokingly. “You might as well tell all!” Annie squealed with laughter. “There is nothing to tell as of yet! And you keep what you think you know to yourself!”
In reality, there was a great deal to tell. That evening, after Lora had said goodbye to her sisters, Annie and The Count met once again at their usual time and place. She didn’t know but he was beginning to be racked with guilt over his deception. Not only was it wrong to court Annie so in secret (and at night no less) but there was his grotesque lifestyle to consider. Count Nicolas was contemplating either telling Annie the truth or putting an end to their liaison entirely. Though doing so would shattered the remains of his heart.
That night, fate stepped in and made the decision for him. “ Nicolas,” Annie asked mid snog. “Are you… staring at my neck?” “ I…” The Count was caught off guard, so distracting was his blood lust. “Yes... I am.” “ Why ever for?” “ I desire… to taste you my beloved.” He admitted, shamefully staring at the artery pulsing with hormonal excitement. Due to the evenings spent with Annie, Nicolas had avoided feeding properly for several days out of guilt.
There was an awkward pause of confused silence before Annie attacked The Count’s neck with affectionate and enthusiastic kisses. “ Like this you mean?” She giggled. “I can certainly see the appeal.” Count Nicolas sighed lustfully (God did her young, eager lips feel delectable) before suddenly sobering with a mournful groan and pushing himself away from Annie’s embrace.
“ It is no laughing matter!” He hissed angrily, shocking Annie into silence. “Do I amuse you? Are you truly so naïve that you’ve yet to realize that I am a monster?! Well let me assure you dearest, I am a raging beast. “ This creature ,” He gestured to himself in disgust. “with whom you so openly share your affections, lives off the lifeblood of others!” Annie’s eyes widened with a sudden frightened understanding. “Oh yes my beloved. I drain the blood of the helpless, meek and oh so innocent ones, such as yourself, in order to survive! “ Can you now look at me with such genuine kindness, with such love , knowing what an abomination I am?!”
“ Yes!” Annie cried earnestly before forcing herself into The Count’s arms. “You’re no beast…” “ I am.” Nicolas insisted brokenly. “ No! I don't care what you have to do to survive, or how you came to be... this way. What matters is that you have a heart with which you feel. You’re warm and gentle. You love …” She whispered. “All of that makes some part of you human. And that’s enough for me.”
There was silence and then… “ Annie, dearest…” “ Yes?” “ Marry me?” “ Try and stop me!”
Despite having little respect for tradition, Annie made the obligatory call to her parents, asking them to meet Count Nicolas that evening. Her mother was clearly pleased while her father was completely flabbergasted. This was certainly the first they’d heard of Annie’s potential suitors. Lora’s teasing gossip hardly counted. (funny note: the count risked death by sunlight several times to bring annie gifts. that’s devotion)
Later that day as Annie informed her sister about their parents’ impending arrival, she wondered what Alice had been doing to keep so busy. Annie rarely even saw her older sibling. Alice wasn't one for sitting around nor did she care to seek out the company of her family. University was perhaps the last (and only) chance for Alice to live life as she saw fit. She saw no need to rush the process of finding her future partner in matrimonial bliss. Marriage (and her family) would be waiting for her when this wonderful experience was over. “ Mama and Papa are coming to meet your beau, tonight?” Annie nodded and Alice sighed. “I suppose I’ll be expected to put in an appearance.”
In no time at all it seemed the sun had set, her parents had arrived and Annie was introducing her father to The Count. “ Papa, I would like you to meet Count Nicolas Clifford. Nicolas, this is my father, Stuart Norrington.” Pleased as she was, Annie missed the troubled look her parents shared at their first glance of Nicolas.
He was strange and both Evelyn and Stuart wondered how on earth their child had come across such a… being. But Annie insisted she loved Nicolas and Evelyn could see that her daughter was entering this arrangement with both eyes open. At least The Count appeared to reciprocate those feelings. Alice wasn't much help. She had little to offer when asked by Evelyn what she might know about this mysterious Count Clifford. Though she did think her sister had found herself the oddest fellow for miles, Alice was more interested in counting down the minutes until she could gracefully escape her parents' presence. Before their parental concern directed itself at her.
While Stuart was clearly unnerved by The Count, he had to admit the man was charming, engaging and a pleasant conversationalist with a love of traveling (though from the looks of the last slide, their methods of organizing a suitcase differ drastically). He was older with a knowledge of the world which Stuart understood was appreciated by his youngest child. Annie had always made her own way. He could hardly expect her to thrive in a conventional match.
At the news of her father’s blessing, Annie leaped into Nicolas’ arms. Both Stuart and Evelyn stared on, watching the amorous show of affection, their fingers brushing together in a show of comfortable support. “ Have I done the right thing dearest?” Stuart asked quietly. Evelyn sighed. “Had you disapproved, she might have run off with him and we may never have seen her again. She's young, impetuous and truly believes herself genuinely in love. So yes. For our Annie, it is the right thing.”
With Senior year slowly but steadily coming to an end, the boys of Weatherton Fraternity spent most of their time skilling, earning badges and generally preparing for the life that awaited them after college. Both Barrington and Roger were consumed with wedding and honeymoon plans, home buying and career decisions. Trace was still putting off the inevitable and concentrated on writing his thesis. A memoir of sorts. The first of many he would write.
Aside from preparing for graduation and life after school, the boys took time to indulge in their own personal interests. Each had private hopes and aspirations for the future. Barrington, of course, brushed up on nursery stories and day dreamed fondly about all the children he hoped to have with his beloved Abby. When no one was watching, Trace liked to indulge his boyhood dream of flying and exploring the great beyond. In the dark of night, with the vast sky full of stars above him, it seemed nearly close enough to touch. Certain the others would make fun if they knew, Roger hid his secret ambition to write a book. Creativity didn't come easily for him, and he envied the speed at which Trace's fingers tapped at the typewriter. Someday...
But it wasn’t always dull, or wistful even. There was the time the study room floor rug caught a spark from the fireplace and nearly burned down the entire room. Thankfully, Trace had studied fire safety and remained calm enough to put it out. Roger, on the other hand, did not study fire safety and his helpful contribution consisted of him dancing around the raging inferno in a panicked fashion.
Or the time Mr. Peter Oxley yelled at Roger because presumably Barrington had been watching him through the spyglass. (poor thing… cried like a bitch)
Poor Barrington suffered a dreadful shock while attempting to... lets just say learn more about the newly installed electric wiring in the house. And he was accosted by the resident streaker and forced to call in a report. Rumor was the man had been a decent hatter until the mercury caused him to go mad.
And Trace was unhappily delegated the resident handyman, clearly against his wishes. In retaliation he found perverse pleasure in blaming Barrington for spying on the neighbors where as he himself was the true peeping tom. Revenge is a dish best served in a night dress apparently.
And let us not forget the many, many, many comments on how hot Trace’s mother is.
“ Roger, I’m warning you as a friend. Do not, I repeat, do not finish that sentence!” (trace’s mom has got it going on… evelyn is a M.I.L.F)
But finally the day came for Barrington and Roger to graduate. Roger finished with a B+. He did manage to max mechanical and logic (irony anyone?), earn a gold toy making badge and earned 8000 lbs by selling his wares. Barrington graduated with honors and maxed his cooking, body and creative skills. Trace waved them goodbye and celebrated having the house to himself for a short while.
That is until he received a persuasive phone call from his father. It was time to stop procrastinating and choose a wife. Stuart wanted to see all of his six children happily married and he felt disappointed in Trace’s lack of action. He didn’t understand what could possibly be holding his clever son back from making a decision. “ I expect this sort of disregard of my wishes from Alice. Not you. Make your choice. I’m certain you will not regret it, my boy.”
Stuart needn’t have worried about Alice. Just because she was taking her time, didn’t mean she wasn’t making an effort. Enter potential #1: Eric Swinstead. His infatuation led him to sneak into the ladies’ dorm in order to catch a glimpse of Alice in her night dress. Only to realize he didn’t care for athletic girls.
Potential #2: Martin Roberts. No money or skills but completely full of himself. He was sure he could convince Alice to see his merit in time. That is until he admitted his adversity to girls with a creative streak. Though he promised to overlook that flaw if she would have him. Alice finally pelted him with pillows until he went away.
Potential #3: Timothy Buckley. A fellow Political Science student, he and Alice spent a great deal of time talking, studying, making mischief. He was quite fond of her willfulness and creativity. Though he himself was more reserved in nature, the two got along like a house on fire. Caused, no doubt, by the two bolts between them.
So it really shouldn’t have been any surprise to Alice when her stomach began to heat at the very sight of Timothy. In him she found a kindred spirit. A courteous young man unafraid of her strength and tempestuous mood swings. He respected her thoughts, her feelings and had a smile that near melted her heart. Not certain what to do with such emotions, Alice chose to deal with them head on.
“ I care for you Timothy.” She announced one evening without preamble. “Which is to say I love you and as I’m sure you are aware, doing so makes me vulnerable which is something I can’t abide. So tell me now and tell me quick; are my affections misplaced? And if not, are your own intentions honorable?”
Timothy, who had been contentedly gazing at the stars before Alice's assault, looked at her in confusion before turning away to gather his thoughts. “ Tim?” “ Give me a moment.” He answered her gently. He could hear Alice's nervous fidgeting behind him as he thought about her confession. Despite all this time of getting to know her, Timothy still found himself startled by Alice's abruptness. Leave it to her to put a man on the spot, posing what should be tenderly given as some sort of ultimatum. Timothy cared a great deal for Alice but considered the lifetime of emasculation he would suffer at her hands. Then he smirked. It was also just like Alice to love as aggressively as she did everything else. It would certainly take a special kind of man to partner her as an equal. Was he up to the task?
Timothy, now recovered from the emotional ambush, turned back and chuckled at the anxious expression that greeted him. “ Alice Norrington, you must be the strangest girl I’ve ever met. Yet, my heart tells me I would be a fool to allow you to slip past my grasp.” He smiled. “Your affections are both well placed and returned. And my intentions are more than honorable. “ Which you would know if you had waited for me to pose the subject of marriage properly. As is a man's place.” He added for emphasis before pulling his abashed lady in for their first kiss. At least in this, she wouldn't be the aggressor.
Alice blushed and grinned back when they pulled apart. She would not acknowledge how his lips made her legs weak . “Duly noted. Well then. Be ready to meet my father… tomorrow.” “ Yes ma’am.” Timothy gave her a mock salute before gracing her lips with a second kiss. This time he let her lead.
Timothy and Stuart got on famously. Unlike his other children, Stuart believed Alice was perfectly capable of looking after herself. So he was far more confident in her choice of mate. If she believed Mr. Buckley was up to the task of sparring with her for a lifetime, then the boy must be worth his salt. Alice would have it no other way. Needless to say, Stuart gave his consent and blessing wholeheartedly.
Meanwhile, Trace had come to a decision. He waited outside for James to come back from class. Immediately, James knew something was wrong. “ Trace? What’s happened?” Trace shook his head. “I’m sorry. I… I’m going to propose to Sally tonight.”
“ Propose.” James said flatly. “To Miss Jenkins. You promised I wouldn’t lose you.” He finished brokenly. “ Oh please don’t be like this.” Trace begged. “You knew this would have to happen. You had to. We both did.” Trace reached out to caress his lover's stricken face. “We ran from it as long as possible but this is the reality of things. ”
James pushed Trace's hand away. “No, the reality is this : You love me and everything we do. It's me you want to be with but you're too much of a coward to tell your father so.” Heart stabbed by such harsh yet true words, Trace tried to regroup. “I know you're upset and disappointed. Don't you think I am? I wish the world were different and we could travel together as we wish...” “ We can! We simply go and live our lives. Sod the rest of the world!” “ It doesn't work that way!” Trace was exasperated. “We can't just walk away from our families and responsibilities...” “ Maybe you can't.” “ Damn it James, will you grow up?! What we had was beautiful but fantasies don’t last!
“ Fantasy ?!” James exploded. “Is that all I was to you?! And to think you used such pretty words to get me into your bed!” “ That is not what happened!” Trace was appalled. “ I have always been honest with you! Do not pretend that you didn’t see this coming.” “ How could I have possibly with your constantly reassuring me that it wouldn't ?!” “ I'm sorry!” Trace could feel his emotions beginning to run amok. “I truly wanted to believe that we could work. I did!” “ This is your father’s doing isn’t? You would rather trade our happiness for his approval!” “ And why shouldn’t I?!” Trace shouted. “The man gave me everything ! A home, an education, love… And asked only for this one duty in return. It’s a such a small price to pay…” He finished, his voice hoarse. He wouldn't cry, damn it.
James gazed at Trace with sad eyes. “I hope, for your sake, that you always feel that way. God forbid you ever resent the choice you made today.” “ James... James, please don’t leave it like this.” Trace pleaded. “You’re my best friend. I can't be without you. ” “ I’m sorry love, but I wont just stand by and watch you marry someone else when I know that you love me. You can't have us both . It doesn’t work that way.”
“ James,” Trace whimpered. “Don't go.” But he was already gone.
Needless to say, Trace was not quite in the right frame of mind for his evening out with Miss Jenkins. Fortunately, Sally was good at keeping up her side of the conversation. Part of Trace wanted to direct his misguided anger at her for simply not being James. If only she wasn’t so pleasant and accommodating.
The proposal was awkward at best and somewhat expected, considering all the time Trace had spent reluctantly courting her. Sally was good enough to make the best of a less than stellar moment. She somehow knew Trace wasn’t in love with her but she was sincerely fond of him. She hoped with time and patience, they could make a heaven out of a hell.
Things had not improved by the time graduation came around. Trace and James were still not speaking. And James’ somber mood was obvious to all the guests at the celebration. Miss Alice strain wasn’t particularly pleased with Trace’s choice either. And things just went from awkward to downright scandalous.
James was openly hostile to poor Sally, earning him Lora's ire. And he angrily stalked Trace throughout the house all afternoon.
Miss Strain was no better. Apparently to her, a few casual walks through the quad was as good as a verbal commitment. So in her eyes, Trace was the worst sort of scoundrel imaginable. And she had no qualms about telling him so either.
After seeing Trace show his new fiancé the smallest shred of affection, James felt as though his heart had exploded in his chest..
After several glasses of wine, he accosted poor Sally, who was receiving Stuart’s congratulations on both her graduation and she and Trace’s engagement. The he promptly marched over and belted Trace in the jaw as hard as he could.
Alice, seeing this as a wonderful opportunity, launched her own attack on Trace before the pain of James' hit had even registered in his brain. Then she turned on Sally once again, who arrived to see to her wounded fiance, calling her a harlot and a thief of love.
Before Trace could intervene on Sally's behalf, before the stars had cleared from his head in fact, James was at him again, yelling drunkenly. Trace attempted to make peace with his ex-lover but James wasn’t having it and began shouting the most inappropriate and personal accusations. Trace could only thank the heavens that his dear mother was preoccupied with the bubble blower and hadn’t heard any of it.
As for how the rest of his family was taking this... well they were presently preoccupied with the brawl going on between Sally and Alice Strain. In which Alice was the victor. But only because Sally was distracted by Ms. Marilla Tyson, whom she suspected was behind the whole thing. And whom Sally promptly attacked next. Lora was insulted, Stuart disappointed, Alice appalled, Raymond frightened, Miss Strain royally hacked off and both Asher and Annie made some money on the winner. (that being said, the party, in all it’s utter ridiculousness, was a roof raiser. lol)
As his family managed to procure some semblance of control by removing the quarrelsome guests, Trace could only imagine what they were all thinking of him. His reputation was most likely destroyed. Oh, but what did it matter to him now ? Now that he'd most likely lost everything that ever mattered? His father's love, his family's adoration, his friends' respect... Worst of all, he'd given up James. For nothing. Sally would never marry him now. What girl in her right mind would ?
But Trace was wrong. At least about a few things. His family rallied for him. His father had nothing to say but gentle encouragement. No one was crass enough to ask for details pertaining to the day's melodrama. His sisters were kind to Sally; offering tea and sympathy and feeling righteous anger on her behalf. True, some people would talk about the day's events. And even more true, James was gone...
But Sally wasn't. He found her by herself, drinking tea with a thoughtful expression. Her cheeks were flushed from the earlier violence and Trace felt guilty looking at the hint of a hand print that marred her pretty face. “ Sally,” Trace began weakly. “I’m so sorry. What you must think of me…” “ You loved one another? You and Mr. Prescott?” “ I…” His face flamed with shame. “ I knew there was something.” She sighed. “There is no such thing as perfection. We all come up wanting. Miss Strain and her pathetic cohort, Ms Tyson, are prime examples. “ But I believe you are a good man. And I think we have the potential to make one another, at the very least, content. If you so choose.”
Trace sighed and looked away. “It's hard to imagine you still wanting to marry me. Wanting to look at me even. I don't deserve it.” He finished quietly. “ Trace,” “ You're right, I'm not perfect and I'm ashamed of some of the choices I made and the people I've hurt. “ But I can promise that if you mean what you say, I will be good to you. You shall have a fine home, nice things, whatever you wish. And I'll never publicly shame you again. I swear it.” Sally gave a small smile. “What else could a wife ask for?” 'except for love', she thought.
“ What on earth was all that racket out there? Hmmm, I can’t feel my feet. How lovely!” (and so ends the college years yay!!! tune in next time to see if stuart finally gets those 6 weddings we’ve been working toward. will trace and james regain their friendship? or is sally doomed to tipped over trashcans and flaming bags of poo for the next generation? thanks for reading!)