4.1

05-01-16_7-58-45 PM

“Five more minutes, Mum!” I said and sprinkled a bit of cheddar on our omelettes.

“Thank you, Gary! I’ll be right down!”

I smiled and placed two plates on the counter next to me, turning down the heat a little as I went. Breakfast was ready, but Mum had a long morning routine. She spent a few hours every morning on some focusing yoga routine, and got up long before I did to fit everything into her morning. She started work at nine am every day, so there wasn’t much time.

That’s why I made breakfast! I loved cooking, and that way we both had something warm to eat before I left for school and Mum went to work. Mum was a cop and needed the energy, and I was happy to cook just for the sake of it. Mornings could be hard, but when the house smelled of pancakes, or french toast?

07-31-16_2-57-35 PM

We were lucky to live so close to a river. I always spent some time at the weekend catching fresh fish for our dinners, and it was a great break from school and homework.

Not as great as my garden, though.

09-09-16_11-15-33-am

When I had first shown an interest in cooking, not just with helping Mum set the table, Mum had suggested setting aside a small spot in our garden for me to grow my own fruit and veg. I hadn’t been convinced at first, but I got into it quickly. It was so rewarding to see the tomatoes I had planted sprout and gain colour, and there was nothing better than a dinner cooked with my own ingredients.

I didn’t think that Mum had expected it to last, but five years later and my little garden was our primary source of fresh food.
07-31-16_1-34-54 PM

Mum was my inspiration. She loved cooking almost as much as I did, and it was because of her that I got into it at all. She always asked me if I wanted to help her when she made lunch, or dinner, and once I was old enough to do most of it myself she let me. She still operated the hob and oven until I was older, but I loved doing as much as I did.

Besides Mum, I watched cooking shows on TV. I got so many ideas from them and usually couldn’t wait to try them. Mum was my first food tester, and often Grandma and Grandpa Milan volunteered as well.
07-31-16_1-35-04 PM

There was so much I could do with food. It could be refreshing, warming, comforting, memory-evoking, and it made people feel good. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my life than by doing just that.

06-12-16_7-05-48 PM

Mum and I were close. I never knew my Dad, and I had no siblings, so Mum and I spent a lot of our free time together. We usually watched the Great Simtonian Bake-Off with dinner, or Sim Chef, and we always bounced ideas. Cooking wasn’t Mum’s calling, but she always had ideas for me regardless. At school most of the kids either hated their parents, were caught in the middle of a divorce, and tried to spent as much time away from home as possible. I didn’t know my Dad, but Mum and I were nothing like that. When I was younger Mum had told me why I didn’t know my Dad, and what Grandpa Milan had done for our family. I had been sad at first; I didn’t want to fall in love and get married right now, but knowing that I’d never have that option still hurt. Still, Mum and Grandma were hopeful. They said that the universe was righting itself. That my child might have a chance at love.

But that was way too far in the future. When Mum had told me all that she had said that it was her and me against the world, and that’s exactly what we were. My family was weird and complicated, and according to Grandpa Milan we shouldn’t even be here,but we were closer than any other family I knew.

06-12-16_7-45-05 PM

Grandma and Grandpa Milan lived close to us, and usually Mum and Grandma talked every other day over the phone, but we still went out together once a month to catch up. That was my other source of inspiration – the places we went to were amazing, and the food we had there was what had made me realise what I wanted to do with my life.

06-12-16_7-42-06-pm

I was going to be a chef, and maybe one day I’d own my own restaurant.

***

Just to give you a quick update of where everyone’s at: Sophia is lvl 9 in her career now, so she’s very nearly there!

Gary’s aspiration (in case you couldn’t guess from the chapter) is Master Chef, and his traits are Good, Neat, and Essence of Flavour, which he got from his aspiration. He’s currently lvl 5 of the cooking skill, lvl 3 of the fishing skill, and lvl 2 of the gardening skill 🙂 I’ve given him the side mission to create ambrosia for Sophia, hence the fishing and gardening skills ^-^

I also didn’t have time to edit this, and because it’s not my book I’m trying not to care so apologies if there are mistakes in this 🙂

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3.16

04-02-16_2-05-41 PM

“Mummy?” I looked up from my book to see Gary standing next to me, his eyes shy and his hands restelss. I had heard him sneak in, but I had a feeling this was something he needed to say for himself, without me pushing him. “Do you have a moment?”

“Of course I do, baby!” I patted the spot next to me. “Come here, sit down.”

It was 10pm – several hours past his bedtime. Any other night I would have made an issue out of it, but if this was keeping him awake then I wanted to hear it.

“What’s wrong?”

He shuffled with his feet, and scooted closer.

“Do I have a daddy?”

My heart sank. I had dreaded this conversation, but I was prepared as well as I could be.

I nodded. “You did. He died before you were born.” Gary was smart, and he needed to learn about death some when. I didn’t need to give him all the details, but I didn’t have to lie about it, either.

“Oh,” he said, and leaned into me. “What was he like?”

04-02-16_2-07-06 PM

I smiled. This I could answer easily. “He was a good man. He was a police officer, just like me.”

“How did you meet him?” I was glad to see him so interested. I had been worried that Gary would resent Emery for leaving us, but instead he was curious. In his intelligent little head, he had worked out that Emery hadn’t meant to leave us, and that it wasn’t his fault.

“He was my partner at work. Your daddy was very brave, he helped me stop a lot of bad people.”

“Like batman?”

I pulled my son into my arms. “Yes, baby. Just like batman.”

Gary hesitated, then said: “Is that why he isn’t here now?”

My smile faded. I wanted him to know the truth, but how much detail did an eight-year old need? “It is. There was a very bad man, but thanks to your daddy he can’t hurt anyone any more. Don’t worry, baby, you’re safe.”

Gary nodded, but didn’t meet my eyes. “I know. You’re like batman, too.”

04-02-16_2-07-12 PM

Just like that, I knew what to say to lift his mood. “You know, your daddy loved to cook.”

His eyes went wide. “He did?”

“Hmh. One night he stayed with me to protect me from the bad man, and he cooked me dinner. He was a really good cook!”

“Better than you?”

I laughed, and my heart swelled. If Emery had still been with us, my cooking wouldn’t have stood a chance against his. “Much better than me.”

“Can I make breakfast tomorrow?”

04-02-16_2-07-42 PM

“Of course you can, baby. I love it when you cook for me.” Maybe Gary had just wanted a connection to his father. He couldn’t meet him, and he’d never know the sound of his voice, but he’d always share his father’s passion for food. Gary had made breakfast a couple of times now, and each time he had served me either cereal or toast with cheese. On Mother’s Day he had brought me breakfast in bed – two different kinds of cereal, two slices of toast, cheese, ham and raspberry jam. It was simple, but I knew he had put his everything into it.

Once he was older there’d be no keeping him from the stove and oven.

I felt myself well up. Gary had needed a connection to his father, but maybe I had needed one, too. He looked so much like Emery that it was impossible not to see him in our son, but it felt amazing that Gary had inherited more than his father’s good looks.

My birthday sneaked up on me, but thanks for Grandma and Grandpa Milan I remembered to throw a party.

04-02-16_2-30-07 PM

It wasn’t a big deal. Grandma and Grandpa Milan came, and Chief Chau made it as well as a few other people from work. After the nightmare with Blaine I was paranoid that some of his minions remained despite everything we’d done to identify them, but there were a few people I trusted. They had helped me take him down, and had been supportive after Emery’s death. We had grown close over the years, and they were the closest thing I had to friends.

Once everything had calmed down a little and Gary was occupied telling my colleagues all about the secret to a great ham sandwich (mustard), Grandpa Milan asked me for a chat.

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“You’ve got news, then?”

I had tried not to dwell on it, but now that he finally had something my heart was racing.

He nodded. “I do, but I’m not sure how to put it.” My heart sank. Nothing good ever started with those words.

“So it’s my fault, after all?”

“No, no, that’s not what- How much do you know about the universe?”

His question took me by surprise, and I blinked in confusion. “Not much. Why?”

Grandpa Milan tapped his chin, trying to think of an explanation. “It’s difficult to explain. Have you ever watched Doctor Who?”

I nodded, more confused than before.

“It may be fiction, but they’ve got one thing right. You don’t mess with the past. There are fixed points in time which mustn’t be altered.”

I felt a shiver run through me. “I’m with you so far.”

“When I made the bargain with the spirit to save Morrigan, I changed something I shouldn’t have interfered with. She was supposed to die, but because of me she lived. Not only that, but because I meddled with her fate – with the universe – she had a child. There’s now a bloodline that shouldn’t have existed. Your family has touched all sorts of things since then. Morrigan has written some influential books, your mother’s contribution to charity was immense, and now you are actively making the world better as a detective. The universe doesn’t know what to make of that – for lack of better words.”

I nodded, but my head was spinning. “Are you saying that we were a mistake?”

04-02-16_2-32-25 PM

“Oh no, not at all! I may have messed the universe around a little, but I don’t regret it for one moment.”

I didn’t know whether to feel better or not. Just what was he trying to tell me? “I don’t see where Emery and I come in.”

“The spirits don’t believe that his death was your doing. He was a cop, Sophia. It’s a dangerous line of work. Your interfering might have sped his death up a little, but sooner or later he would have been in an equally dangerous situation. It was inevitable. But this is where it gets interesting. The spirits aren’t sure, because the universe isn’t sure.”

04-02-16_2-31-47 PM

“I don’t-” Was the universe conscious? He talked about it like it was a living thing!

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have interfered, but I did and it confused the cosmic order of things. But the universe is older and more powerful than any of us can imagine. It… adjusts. You could say it’s getting used to your presence.”

My heart jumped. Was he implying- “So I could grow old with someone I love?”

Grandpa Milan shook his head, but it didn’t look confident. “No. The spirits seem sure that it’s too early for you, but Gary might be able to. I advice caution, in case it’s too soon for him, too, but some day in the future your family will be able to love. Your grandchild might be able to have a normal life.”

It was too much to comprehend in one sitting. I thanked him, and said I understood but really I needed time to think it all through. The universe adjusts to my family? That would make it sentient, wouldn’t it? Or was it even more complicated than that?

I wasn’t sure if it was too much for me to understand, or if the drinks Mum had been mixing all evening were to blame, but either way I needed time.

04-02-16_2-17-00 PM

Gary had a passion for drawing and painting. He enjoyed his art classes at school, and asked me for a drawing table and some paints for his ninth birthday. His teacher thought he had a talent for it, and I was happy to see him immerse himself so much. He still liked to cook, but he was too young to really get into it. He wasn’t allowed at the stove or to use the oven, and eventually he got bored of making toasts and salads all the time. His drawing table gave him something different to do, and soon the walls in his room were covered in drawings.

04-02-16_2-41-52 PM

“You could be a big artist one day,” I said one afternoon after adding another drawing to his wall. “Like Picasso, or da Vinci.”

He smiled, but shook his head. “Nuh, I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“It’s fun, but I don’t think it’s for me.” I smiled at his choice of words. He was so grown-up it was easy to forget that he was only nine years old.

“What do you want to be when you’re older, then?”

“An awesome chef, like you and daddy!”

04-02-16_2-42-04 PM

I smiled, and resisted the urge to pull him into a hug. He was getting too old to be hugged constantly by his mother, and I didn’t want to be clingy. I wanted him to know that he could be whatever he wanted to be – not what I wanted him to be.

“Then I’d better start saving for culinary school!”

Even if he decided on something else later on, it’d be good to have a college fund set up. A good education wouldn’t be cheap, and with his mind he’d be able to get into the best school there was. I didn’t want to hold back on his education. If he wanted to be a chef, I’d have the savings set aside to make it happen.

I gladly hugged back when he hugged me. Emery would have been proud of him. I knew I was.

Interlude

“Make it quick, mortal.”

He balled his hands into fists, and reminded himself that he needed to stay calm. It had taken the spirits a while to agree to this meeting. Now that he was here he wouldn’t waste the opportunity.

He had already achieved more than any other human alive, had asked for more than any other human alive – and he’d been granted it. He needed no favours this time, only an answer. A simple thing.

He had promised her.

He hadn’t expected to become a part of their family. If he could help by asking one simple question, then he would.

“Was it Sophia’s fault that Emery Dwyer died?” 

In front of him, the spirit broke into a grin. The spirit inside him moved around like an excited child in a bouncy castle. 

His palms were sweating, and his forehead was wet. 

“You beg an audience for this? You used to be more ambitious, mortal.”

“I’m not here for myself.”

The spirit’s grin widened, and he no longer knew what he was dealing with. Most spirits were curious, but there were others. Benevolent ones. Malevolent ones. Once he had confused the spirit that used him as a host as the latter, but in time he had realised that he’d been wrong. The spirit he shared a body with – the spirit that had kept him alive for so long – was merely curious.

He didn’t think that the one he was talking to now was merely curious.

“No, you are here for her. Another mortal. The reason the universe is in turmoil.”

“In turmoil?” He’d known when he had asked his favour many years ago that he was manipulating things out of reach to humans. Resurrecting the dead wasn’t within their abilities for a reason, yet he had asked – no, begged – it regardless. He had believed her family to be what the world needed. Had he been wrong?

“Your little experiment has shaken the universe and the stars themselves, mortal. What did you expect?”

He swallowed. That was a very good question. What did he expect? Not this.

But his time was limited. He could only stay for so long, and he wouldn’t leave without an answer. 

“Was it her fault? Is she responsible for his death?”

The spirit laughed. “You are asking the wrong questions, mortal.”

He thought for a second, and grew cold when he considered the impossible. “Will the universe recover?”

A hundred grins appeared around him, and for the first time he saw the spirit world as it truly was. He was merely a visitor, a guest. This was their home, and they were everywhere and in all things.

“It has already started, mortal. The universe was… unsure, when we gave her life. It was unsure, too, when we halted her ageing. But the universe is larger than you can imagine. It can deal with all manner of things, and it can recover from worse.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“She is not to blame for the man’s death. Not directly. Her actions sent smaller ripples through the nebulae than her mother’s actions, or her grandmother’s.”

He felt dizzy at the implications. “Does this mean that she can find love, and grow old with someone?

The grins around him dimmed. “No. Not her. It is too early.”

“But one day? Will her son be able to?”

“I do not know, mortal. I only know that your request and our granting it has forever changed the way of things. I cannot say if that is for better or for worse, only that it is.”

He smiled, despite it all. Sophia wouldn’t get her happily ever after, but perhaps it was possible for Gary. How could this be for the worst? Love was always a good thing. The spirits didn’t understand – they didn’t love as humans did – but he understood. 

One day his family would find love, and he looked forward to the day it happened.

3.12

10-02-15_7-12-20 PM

I couldn’t stay in this house any more. When I had bought it I had dreamed of a family, kids, a white picket fence – none of those things had happened since then. Instead, only bad things had happened inside this house and I couldn’t wait to see the back of it. First Blaine had threatened me, then Mum told me that Momma had passed away, Blaine attacked me and fatally injured Emery – I needed to get out and start over. Maybe a family and children were still somewhere in my future, but they weren’t here.

Together with Mum I looked over some listings and after four viewings I chose the perfect house for my new future.

10-02-15_8-04-31 PM

I still had no family or children, but I had the white fence. It wasn’t much but it was a start, and I knew this was the right one when we visited it. It was too big for me, but I saw the fence as a good luck charm and couldn’t resist. It was a sign, or a good omen or whatever people called it, and that was just what I needed after everything that had happened.

The previous owners were still in the process of moving, so I had a month to pack everything up and prepare for the move myself. I wasn’t looking forward to living in this reminder for another day, but would do what I always did to cope with a bad situation. I would throw myself into work. Chief  Chau insisted I take some time off to adjust and to allow myself time to mourn, but I didn’t want to be alone and there was a lot of work to get done. Blaine had left a minefield in his wake, and while I wasn’t allowed to interrogate him myself I could still research everything else he had had a hand in for the past several years. His accomplices within the station soon sang and gave us all the information we needed, worrying as it all was. They had not been the only corrupt agents working for him. He had people everywhere, from the smallest shops working as spies to important politicians. It seemed there was no end to his corruptions, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Without realising it he had done me a favour. He had robbed me of my partner and man I loved, but he had also given me something to focus on. Something important.

10-01-15_7-02-53 PM

Mum, Grandma and Grandpa Milan came over a week later for Emery’s funeral. I had had too much time to think in this empty house, and had begun to question some things I should just be leaving alone. There was nothing I could do to answer them now but I wanted to ask Grandma and Grandpa Milan when I had a quiet moment alone with them.

For now I was just grateful that I wasn’t alone. Mum stayed with me for two weeks after the funeral, and only went back briefly for Momma’s funeral and wake. I was dreading another ceremony but was glad to be out of the house, too.

10-02-15_6-07-23 PM

Being amongst all those people was overwhelming. There were so many I had never even met before, people who had worked with Momma, her business partners, and old employees who still held her in high regard. It was great seeing all these people coming together and tell stories about my Momma, but at the same time it was too much. The house soon felt crowded, and I felt faint. I needed some fresh air, and headed upstairs to the balcony.

10-02-15_6-09-14 PM

The warm breeze was just what I had needed. It was familiar and comforting, and made me feel about as good as I could feel.

It was strange to be back. So much had changed that I could see from my little spot, but it was still exactly the same place as I had grown up in, too. The rocks and palm trees were the same, the sand and the air were the same, and even the small convenience store off in the distance was the same. So much had changed since I had moved, but my home town was still my home town. It was comforting to see it like this.

10-02-15_6-09-40 PM

My childhood seemed like a lifetime ago. My eighteenth birthday felt like it had happened centuries ago, when in reality only a few years had passed. I could still smell Momma’s cooking, feeling the sweat on my skin from working out all morning with Mum, and I could still here Marvin’s laughter in the garden. I wondered where he was now. If he was still in Riverview, or if he had moved up in the world. Whether he had gotten married by now, and what she’d be like.

I sighed. Marvin was still alive and kicking but he seemed as far away as Emery in that moment.

Behind me the door opened, and two sets of footsteps entered the balcony behind me. I didn’t need to turn around to know who it was. I still recognised the sound.

10-02-15_6-11-58 PM

“Hey, sweety” Grandpa Milan said.

“We thought you looked like you needed to talk.”

I nodded, finally turning around as the chance I’d been waiting for presented itself.

“I do. Are you sure now is a good moment?” As much as I needed to get this question of my chest I didn’t want Mum to be alone today.

“Of course. Don’t worry about Lilli, Gemma’s friends are keeping her company.”

I awkwardly fiddled with my hands as they sat down on the bench, not really knowing what to do with myself. Now that I finally had the chance to ask my question I wasn’t sure that I still wanted to know the answer.

10-02-15_6-14-23 PM

“How are you holding up?” Grandma asked, motioning for me to sit between them like we did when I was young, but I shook my head. I needed to feel the touch of air on my arms for this.

“Badly” I said truthfully. “I miss him, Grandma.” I didn’t care if she made a remark about how she had warned me not to fall in love. Right now I just needed to talk to someone.

“I’m sorry, sweety. Is there anything we can do?” I shook my head no. Unless they had a way of bringing Emery back I wasn’t interested, and that was out of the question. Nothing else would do.

Without wanting to waste more time, I asked my question.

10-02-15_6-16-39 PM

“Is it my fault he’s gone, Grandpa?” Their eyes went wide, and Grandma reached out for my hands.

“Of course it isn’t. You couldn’t know that lunatic would be there or what he would do. Why would you think this was your fault?”

“Because you told me not to fall in love, and I did it anyway. You told me our family can’t live happily ever after like I wanted to, but I tried to do it anyway. Am I being punished?” My nose stung and my eyes burnt, but I didn’t care. I was far beyond the age where I couldn’t let anyone see me cry.

Their faces had turned ashen, and I knew I was right. This was my fault. Emery was gone because of me.

10-02-15_6-14-37 PM

“Sweety, that’s not true. The spirits would never punish us like this.” I wanted to believe him but I couldn’t.

“How do you know? Have you asked them?”

He looked uncomfortable in his seat when he replied. “No, but if you really want me to I can.”

I nodded. “Please?”

“I don’t know when I’ll be able to, but I’ll give you a call once I know if you like.”

Next to him Grandma shook her head.

10-02-15_6-14-30 PM

“Now, listen here, sweetheart. You’re not being punished, his death had nothing to do with you. I know this is hard to hear, but people die and you are in a dangerous job. You both knew the risks when you signed up, or am I wrong?”

I sniffled, feeling like a little girl. “No. You’re right. But I can’t help but feel that he’d still be alive if I hadn’t interfered. I wanted to keep our relationship professional, Grandma, I really did.”

They both got up, hugging me from both sides at once. Holding on to my grandparents I cried into their clothes, the familiar smells not doing anything to comfort me.

“It’ll be all right, sweetheart. You’ll see.” I wanted to believe her more than anything, but the reality of our fate began to really sink in. I had told myself I could have a family and love, but maybe there was nothing I could do to get either. I had the very beginnings of love with Emery, and he had been taken away from me. Mum had managed to cheat it, but only because she made Gemma work her butt off. They hadn’t spent as much time together as they should have done, just to be allowed to be together at all.

“How do you cope?”

Milan stepped away as Grandma held me close. “Your mother was very lucky with Gemma, but you saw how little time they got to spend together. When they did they were tired from their careers. And I barely left my office, Soph.” The reminder of Emery stung like nothing had ever stung before. I could almost hear my nickname in his voice, pretend my Grandma’s arms were his. “I used Lilli’s father, and never saw him again. He never even knew I was pregnant, and Lilli never knew him.”

I didn’t know if her words helped or not. “So you focused on your career?”

Grandma pulled away just enough to be able to look into my eyes and cup my face with her hands. “I did. It helped.” There was the hint of something else behind her eyes. Did Grandma regret not being able to fall in love? Mum and I had given her a hard time for always reminding us that we couldn’t fall in love, but it had never occurred to me that Grandma wanted her happily ever after just as much as I did.

“What do you say we go back inside? I’ll get you a drink.”

“In a minute, you go ahead.” I needed to be alone, and think. Or not think.

10-02-15_6-14-45 PM

This wasn’t fair. I wasn’t sure I could do what Grandma had done, and have someone’s baby without any love involved. I couldn’t use someone like that. How could anyone? How had Grandma? Knowing that I’d force my child into the same fate I now suffered through made it even worse. How could I be so cruel?

I wondered what the universe would do if I just never had children. Milan had said that my family was important, vital to the world’s future. Did I really have to chose between passing on our fate and saving the world? Between my child and everybody else? How could anyone make such a decision?

I didn’t have to wait long to realise that the decision was no longer mine to make.

10-02-15_6-47-52 PM

I found out a week before moving into my new house. Our new house.

I was pregnant.

 

————————————-

Tour of the house:

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1st Floor:

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2nd Floor

10-02-15_8-04-51 PM

10-02-15_8-20-32 PM

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10-02-15_8-21-05 PM

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10-02-15_8-20-57 PM

I tried to make it small but cosy, and am really pleased with how it turned out :3 Although the garden needs work 😛
You’ll see the nursery in the next update, along with gen 4 😉

3.3

05-10-15_9-10 PM

Every time my boss looked at me or asked me into his office to discuss something I felt uneasy, or even threatened. Something wasn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. On top of that, I had been with the police for half a year now and I still didn’t have a lead on my father. It was like he had disappeared into thin air after his escape, and I hated that I couldn’t track him down. I was good at picking criminals out from the crowd, but somehow Blaine managed to elude me. Since I couldn’t really discuss either problem at work and didn’t want to bring it up over the phone to my mum, I vented my frustration at my punching bag instead. It felt good to work out and to hit something, and after an intense thirty-minute workout I felt better.

05-10-15_9-36 PM

I had taken up baking in my free time. I wanted to be the kind of Mum and Grandma who always had freshly baked cookies in the house, and since my baking skills equaled zero at the moment I wanted to throw myself into it. I was going to be the Mum who was always asked to participate in the bake sales at school, and I knew that right now I was very far away from that.

05-10-15_9-37 PM

Although I really had to get away from using the brownie mix they sold at our superstore. It was so easy, and so yummy, and it required next to no work at all! It was great but it didn’t teach me anything. I was miles away from being begged to take part in a bake sale, but I wanted to at least be able to bake from scratch. Mum had never been a very devoted cook, but Momma had talent and some of her love for fresh food had rubbed off on me.

After a particularly stressful week at work, the smell of brownies never failed to lift the stress and exhaustion right off of me. It was after one of those hectic weeks that Mum dropped by, asking why I hadn’t called all week. I had a feeling there was more to her visit, but didn’t want to press her for the truth right away. I really wanted to tell her about my search efforts but I wasn’t sure how much I should tell her, and was grateful when she suggested to see my progress at the punching bag instead.

05-10-15_9-18 PM

“Just five more, Sophia, you can do it!” We had always trained together, and now that I lived on my own I sometimes missed my training buddy. It was nice when she stopped by and gave me some pointers, and it never failed to amaze me how energetic Mum still was, despite her age. She was nearing her 75th birthday, but she could still beat the life out of one of these and she could probably still run for longer than I could, too.

Panting, I punched the bag another six times before dropping my hands and pulling off my gloves, letting them fall to the ground.

“Well done, baby girl, you’ve made very good progress! Now why don’t you tell me what’s been bugging you?”

05-10-15_9-16 PM-2

How did mothers always know?

“It’s nothing, really. I’m just tired from work this week, and I get the feeling that there’s something off about the Police Chief.” I left out the part about how I still didn’t have a lead on my father. I didn’t want to worry her with it, and she deserved never to have to think about him again. It wouldn’t be my fault if she did.

“How do you mean?”

“It’s just the way he looks at me sometimes… I don’t know, I can’t place my finger on it. No one else feels the same about him, so I’m sure I’m just tired.” Really wanting to change the subject, I added: “What made you stop by? You could have called if you wanted to talk, rather than drive all the way here.” Immediately Mum’s face fell, and I braced myself for bad news. I knew I shouldn’t have pressed her after all, but the conversation had taken a direction I didn’t want to discuss just yet.

05-10-15_9-16 PM

“Well, sweetheart, we don’t want to worry you, but Gemma isn’t well. She’s been coughing for a few weeks now, and she’s been referred to the hospital for some tests. We’re sure it’s just a cold, but we wanted you to know in any case.” I heard the words she wasn’t saying very clearly. Just in case it’s more than the flu, after all. An old TV advert from my childhood resurfaced in my mind, and suddenly I was freezing in my well-heated home. Have you been coughing for four weeks? See your doctor and ask to be tested for cancer. You wouldn’t want your loved ones to take the risk, so why would you?

A dry lump formed in my throat, and I did my best to swallow it whole without Mum noticing. I was glad she had told me. On the other hand I wished I hadn’t known. I hated not being prepared, but I had never lost someone close to me, either, and wasn’t sure what to do if Momma died. Marvin had just moved somewhere else, and Grandma and Grandpa Milan were immortal. Momma would be the first person I’d truly lose, permanently.

05-10-15_9-12 PM-2

For the rest of the weekend I did my best to distract myself. Mum had gone back to Oasis Springs to be with Momma in the hospital, and had promised to give me a call if anything changed. I had already baked more batches of brownies and sugar cookies than I could ever eat all by myself, so I threw myself back into the search for my father. My Sunday ended on a frustrating note when, after hours of very specific researching, I still had found nothing. After all this time the only things I knew for certain were that he had been obsessed with my Mum – possibly still was – and had raped her in a pathetic attempt to make her his, he had gone to prison but had broken out sometime during my early teenage years, and now he was apparently a master at playing Hide-And-Seek. I was tired of still being ‘It’, but couldn’t start my own reinforced search while I was still so far down the ladder. All I could do was be patient and bide my time, and I wasn’t very good at either.

And then, finally, another two months later, I was promoted. I still didn’t have the influence I needed to open his case again, but it was another step into the right direction. And, most exciting of all-

05-10-15_9-10 PM-3

I no longer needed to shadow somebody else. I was no longer someone’s junior partner. Finally, I had my own partner allocated to me, and he wasn’t a junior member of the police force, either. Emery Dwyer had just moved here from Bridgeport and had been promoted himself shortly before being transferred here to work for us instead.

I had felt good in my job before, but now that I had a partner I felt like a proper, real professional cop. I felt motivated, and ecstatic.

There was still quite a long way to go, but together we’d find my father and we’d put him back where he belonged. I was sure of it.

2.4

11-16-14_5-18 PM

“You are too young to be sleeping around like that, young lady! I know that boy’s reputation, and I do not want you around people like him!”

Mum was pretty annoyed with me. As much as I had been dreading this talk, this was far worse than anything I had imagined. It was more embarrassing, for one. I didn’t think that ‘I didn’t think you were home‘ was going to make a good excuse, so I kept my mouth shut and let her yell at me.

“I don’t want you dating for one month, and if that boy comes around here again I will kick his butt personally!” I didn’t think that the latter was going to be a problem. But not dating for one month? I supposed that just casually seeing someone couldn’t technically be seen as dating, but I didn’t want to test just how far I could push things right now.

On the other hand…

11-16-14_5-18 PM-3

“I’m not grounded?” I had expected to be locked away in my room for a pretty long time for this, but simply not dating anyone was nowhere near as bad!

Mum sighed. “No, you’re not. But there are conditions I expect you to abide by!”

11-16-14_5-18 PM-2

“No dating for one month, as I said. Additionally, I want to meet any boy you’d like to date first, say for dinner. Also, if I catch you in the same situation again, you will be grounded. For a long time.” I knew she wasn’t kidding. Nothing about her voice sounded like she was making jokes.

Slowly, I nodded. “All right, that seems fair.”

“Good. I raised you better than that, Lilliana.” She was right, she had. But surely that didn’t mean that I couldn’t have some fun?

11-16-14_5-18 PM-4

“I broke up with him. He was only using me, anyway.”

“I’m glad to hear that. You’re a beautiful young woman, boys will naturally be interested in girls like you.” Eww. Now here was the truly icky part!

“Mum, can we not-”

“Just remember the conditions I set you. I expect your judgement in boys to be better than that!”

“Thanks, Mum. It will be.” Mum didn’t seem too convinced.

11-16-14_5-18 PM-5

 

“All right. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to buy a new bed.” I knew that from now on, I was going to be watched very carefully. Mum would never go through my phone to check my messages and emails, but I was wondering if I had given her enough reason to do that after all.

As expected, it was a long month. Reid called me every now and again, but I only answered him once to tell him to leave me be. Mum alone might not have been able to beat him up since he was far more muscular than her, but I was pretty sure that she had gotten my godparents involved as well. If he dared to show up after my warnings, it’d be Mum, Milan and Alisha against Reid. Not even Reid was strong or stupid enough to win a fight against my angry family!

11-16-14_5-40 PM

To make the time pass by more quickly I often swam a few laps in our new pool. Summers were hot in Oasis Springs, and we had more than enough money saved up for Mum to casually dish out on a swimming pool. The cool water was bliss, and swimming helped me get through the boy-less month more easily. It was a great change from using the treadmill and jogging outside, and even Mum had gotten in shape pretty quickly. Now that she was a proclaimed author and wasn’t expected to come into the office too often, she had a lot of free time on her hands and I knew she spent it by either using my treadmill or by swimming – even if she never told me about using my room. Given what Reid and I had used her room for, I could hardly complain.

Eventually, the month came to a close, and I was dying to call Blaine. He had been the first one to call me after the news of my breakup with Reid had spread around the school like wildfire, and had assured me that if I ever needed anything, he’d be there for me. I had no idea if he had an ulterior motive – most boys usually did – but in this case I needed much the same thing as he had likely had in mind.

I called him up, and we decided to meet outside his favourite hangout, the lounge.

11-16-14_5-20 PM

“How are you holding up? It’s been a month already, hasn’t it?” Blaine was exactly what I needed to gain Mum’s trust back. He looked like a good boy who was more interested in his homework than girls, and I just knew that he’d have my Mum fooled as easily as he had his own Mum fooled. A couple of months of dating him, and Mum would think that I’d decided to turn the game into something more serious.

11-16-14_5-21 PM

“Yeah, it has. Thank you for coming out to see me, I know I should have called you sooner.”

“Don’t worry about it. I know you must have had a hard month.” Not as hard as I would have liked it to be, I thought, but kept that to myself.

“Do you want to go on inside? I’ll buy you a drink or three.” Blaine was rich – or rather, his Mum was rich – and he wasn’t shy about throwing his/her wealth around whenever he wanted. He wasn’t spoiled by any means – I had met his Mum and knew that she was about as harsh on him as any good mother would be on her teenage son – but Blaine was a very clever boy with a mischievous streak, and was about as experienced in getting away with everything he wanted as Reid was with girls.

“That sounds great.” I followed him up the stairs to the far corner of the room. Most of the other customers were old, so we stood out among the crowd.

11-16-14_5-27 PM

We drank our first two glasses of cocktails before I decided to bring up the main reason for our catch-up.

“So, Blaine… I’ve been thinking.”

“What’s on your mind?”

“Well, after Reid… I want to be with someone who takes me seriously as a person, not just for my body. I want to be with someone who I can talk to on an intellectual level, for… a while.” I wasn’t sure how else to put this. Blaine knew me, and would see through what I was getting at pretty quickly. In fact, I counted on it.

11-16-14_5-27 PM-2

“Yes, from what I’ve heard Reid doesn’t make a very good speaker. I have had the… pleasure of speaking to him myself a few times. It’s obvious why you’d want to date someone smarter than that.” He tried to play it cool as much as I was, but the look in his eyes betrayed him. He might have been a better man than Reid, but when promised woohoo the lust shot into his eyes just as quickly.

“I do! In fact, I was wondering, well… Would you like to go out with me?”

11-16-14_5-25 PM

“I would love to, Lilli.”

Now all I had to do was bring him home for dinner, and I’d be set!

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Some extra shots of the pool:

11-16-14_4-51 PM-2

11-16-14_4-52 PM-2

11-16-14_4-52 PM

11-16-14_4-51 PM-3

As you can see I did a bit of landscaping as well ^^ I figured I might as well now that they’ll actually spend some time outside.

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Notes:

Lilliana wasn’t kidding, Morrigan really is shaping up quickly just from using their pool! I had her use the treadmill pretty much every time Lilliana was at school for a few hours, but it didn’t make the same difference that swimming a few laps made! Before she actually looked like she had put on some baby fat and I swear she had stretch marks, but she’s beginning to look more like a twenty-year old again!

Lilliana is still on stage 2 of her aspiration, but one more date and one more breakup and all she’ll need to do is get her charisma skill to lvl5 🙂

2.1

10-27-14_11-34 AM

Come on, Lilliana! Just one more minute!

Breathing heavily, I pushed myself to run for just another sixty seconds. And then another five minutes, since I had managed the extra one minute.

10-27-14_11-34 AM-4

Staying in shape was hard, but it was so worth it! I was in very good shape, and the only girl in my class who was able to finish the long laps around the school our PE teacher kept tasking us with. And besides, I needed to be fit! Guys liked fit girls, right? Mum didn’t like that my homework and grades were falling behind, but as long as I stayed over a C she was happy enough. And besides, she didn’t understand how hard it was to be popular! Guys only wanted one kind of girl – all the handsome ones did, anyway – and I was training my butt off to make sure that I was that girl.

10-27-14_11-33 AM-2

I lived with my Mum, who together with her friend had taken some potion which meant that they’d live forever or something like that. She hadn’t told me why yet, or how they’d even gotten their hands on something like that, but I knew that she would tell me sooner or later. We had a lot of money saved up, so it was possible that she had bought something like this… If it was possible to just buy something like this. It wasn’t exactly a new pack of pasta. I also hoped that she’d finally confess that there was more between her and her friend – my godfather – Milan. I mean, it just wasn’t possible that he was here this much and there was nothing going on between them, right?

11-02-14_6-47 PM

*sigh* Yeah, I went out every now and again for a drink. Don’t pretend that you never did that! No, Mum didn’t know about it. Don’t worry, I never actually got drunk. I wasn’t so stupid to get drunk and then try to sneak back into the house – Mum would spot me, and then I’d be grounded for the rest of my life! Now that she was apparently living forever she’d be able to re-enforce a punishment like that, too, so I wasn’t taking any chances! And besides…

11-02-14_7-09 PM

It wasn’t like I went to those places to drink. They were great for meeting new people and for dating said people. But again, don’t worry. I wasn’t one of those girls who dated everyone and who had slept with half of the guys at her school. I did have some tastes, after all. I was actually pretty picky! For a while I was “dating” (I say “dating” because we were never actually an official couple – Reid was the captain of our football team and had way too many girls wanting him for him to settle on just one. Remember what I said about these people who had slept with half the school and all that? That was Reid.) Reid, which was pretty nice. He was very handsome to look at, was athletic like me, and despite his ways still managed to make me feel special somehow. Probably because he only slept with the beautiful girls at our school. He was nowhere near as picky as I was but I supposed he did have some standards.

11-02-14_7-12 PM

And kissing him was amazing. He had enough experience for him to know exactly where to touch a girl to make her come back for more. He knew all my sweet spots, and when to caress them. And because we both knew that neither of us wanted a serious relationship there was no drama involved. No jealousy whatsoever! It was every girl’s dream, wouldn’t you say?

See? There were some people at our school – well, quite a lot of people actually – who said that I was a slut, but they were wrong. I never mislead any of the guys I was with. All of them knew that I didn’t want a steady relationship or anything serious. There were far too many guys out there, and I was far too young for me to settle on just one of them! Why settle when you could have fun, right?

11-02-14_7-26 PM

And then there was Blaine. Yeah, I know, he looked like a goody-two-shoes but he really wasn’t. He was an evil genius, and only dressed like this to keep his Mum out of his affairs. Literally. While he didn’t have anywhere near as many girls as Reid did he still knew his way around a woman’s body, and yes, I’ll admit – I felt kinda special that I was the only girl he was seeing at the time. Not that special, though. I wasn’t exactly falling in love.

11-02-14_7-32 PM

His Mum was rich, so he could afford to take me out to the more expensive places around town. I knew that he enjoyed showing off his wealth, and I enjoyed being spoiled every once in a while, so we both won, really!

Fun as it was, I knew that Mum wanted me to settle down sooner or later. She didn’t approve of me going out with two guys at the same time, but she never said anything about it. Either way, me settling down was not happening. I mean, with all those handsome, talented guys out there…

11-02-14_7-14 PM

How’s a girl to chose just one?

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Some extras:

Her decorated room in all its glory:

10-27-14_11-28 AM

10-27-14_11-29 AM-2

10-27-14_11-29 AM

Morrigan also uses Lilliana’s treadmill when Lilli isn’t at home ^^ She figured that now that she’ll live for a very long time it’d be a good idea to stay in shape! (and it gives her something to do besides playing games. not that there’s anything from with playing games all day.)

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Notes:

So Lilliana has already completed the first stage of her aspiration. I think I’ll add a page to keep track of what needs to be done for each stage of each aspiration for future reference, for myself and others 🙂

At the moment I have no idea what Lilliana’s profession should be. I was wanting her to be a professional athlete, but since that option isn’t in the base game I’m not sure what to have her do. I’m tempted to not give her a job at all (along the lines of ‘too many men too little time’) but am not sure if I’m happy with that. Kinda feels like cheating because I’m making it too easy, you know? oO What do you guys think?