A Trip Down Memory Lane

Another day, another tag. This time, it’s the Memory Lane Challenge, for which I was nominated by Kate of The Loewe Legacy. Thank you, Kate ❤

Rules

Congratulations! You’ve been nominated for a totally legit award.

1. Get a gold star and stick it on your forehead like a boss.
I don’t have any gold stars handy, but I will be sure to do so the next time the opportunity presents itself.
2. Share FIVE of your favourite moments from your legacy/challenge/story so far.
See below.
3. Nominate 3-5 blogs to do the same.
Again, I won’t be nominating because I’m doing this… 3 months late, in this particular case.

I’ve listed my five moments below, in order from least to most favourite. For the record, it was super hard to narrow it down to just five. All of the top five are from Gen 3, because it has the best writing overall and took the longest so its characters are the ones I’m most attached to. However, I have included an honourable mention from each of the three generations, so I’m not ignoring the first two completely.


Honourable Mention: Gen 1

Ian and Nicole’s first kiss

“There’s… something else I need to tell you,” he said.  “Believe me, this move is hard for me too.  I’m really going to miss Aidan… and you.  Nicole, I don’t know how to tell you how much… knowing you, these past few years, I… you mean a lot to me.”  He was stumbling over his words, clearly very nervous about something.  I smiled encouragingly, hoping to put him at ease.

After a few deep breaths, he continued.  “I wanted to tell you this before I go, because I don’t know if I’ll ever get another chance.  I love you, Nicole.  I… just wanted you to know that.”  He paused, looking anywhere but at me.  Even in the darkness, I could see that his face was burning red.  “I’ll… I’ll see you around,” he said confusedly, and turned to hurry away, while I stood paralysed, still trying to wrap my head around what he had just said.

He loved me.  Ian said he loved me.  I could feel happiness bubbling up inside me, so quickly that it scared me.  I couldn’t stop repeating his words in my head.  He loved me, he loved me, he loved me.  And if he loved me, that meant-

“Wait!”  I called after him.  I couldn’t let him leave, not now.  “Ian, wait!  Please!” I stumbled through the snow after him, while he kept walking as though he hadn’t heard.  When I reached him, I grabbed his hand to stop him from moving further away.  “Ian… stop…” I panted.  He looked back at me, his expression unreadable.

“What is it?” he asked, sounding resigned.

I hesitated for a fraction of a second before pulled on the hand I was holding to bring his face down to mine, barely noticing the surprise mapped across it as I gently pressed my lips to his.


Honourable Mention: Gen 2

The beach scene from chapter 2.4
(or Pretty much any time bianca and james were goofy together)

The sea was blissfully cool.  I felt more relaxed the moment the water hit my toes, and I was more than glad that I hadn’t decided to go home earlier.  I didn’t check what the others were doing, but I guessed that they were enjoying the sensation like I was.  That is, until a wave of salty water hit me square in the face and my eyes shot open.  I gasped and spluttered furiously, looking around for the culprit.  My eyes landed on James, who was treading water a few feet away and grinning.

“James Vistden!” I yelled his name accusingly.   He just laughed, so I drew my hand back and sent a retaliatory splash of water in his direction.

An all-out splash war soon escalated between the two of us.  Eventually, Tyler got fed up with us both and swam away, announcing that she was going down the other end of the beach to look for turtles. By that point both James and I were breathless and worn out, so we stopped splashing and just trod water while we talked.

“Do you know what you want to do, now that we’re out of school?” James asked me.

“Yeah, I already registered at City Hall the other day.  I’m going to be a professional angler, and sell my fish for a living,” I told him happily.

“That’s awesome, Bee!”  ‘Bee’ was my new nickname, courtesy of James and Tyler.  I’d never had a nickname from anyone before, but I have to admit I kind of liked it – it was cute.

“What about you?” I asked him.

“Well, I got a part-time job as an assistant chef at the bistro a few months back, trying to earn some extra money as a student, you know.”  I nodded, and he went on, “I actually really enjoyed it, and I’m hoping they’ll keep me on so I can maybe make a career out of it.”

So James wanted to be a chef!  “I didn’t even know you could cook,” I said in surprise.

“Oh yeah, I’m pretty excellent,” he said with a playful grin.

“And modest, too,” I added, and we both laughed.


Honourable Mention Gen 3

emily’s return

“What are you doing here?” I asked her, trying to keep the accusatory tone out of my voice. “I thought you were supposed to be on trial.”

“I haven’t been convincted of anything yet,” she grinned. “For now, I’m still on bail. And the trial is over for today. I was actually going to come visit you at home, but then I noticed you here.”

I suppressed a shudder, thinking of the dramatic mess that would have ensued if she’d carried out her original plan. “So, what do you want from me?”

“Do I have to want something? What if I just wanted to see my sister?”

I rolled my eyes. “Don’t play innocent, Emily. You always have an ulterior motive. Cut to the chase already, I’m getting cold.”

“Fine, fine,” she said, holding her arms up defensively. “I’ll cut to the chase. Rumour has it you’re about to become pretty influencial in this town, sis.”

“No,” I said immediately. I could already see where she was going with this.

She grinned. “No need to be mod-”

“I meant, no Emily, I won’t use my political connections to bail you out of trouble.”

She scowled. “Why the hell not? I’m your sister, aren’t I?”

“So you say. But that doesn’t mean you get to walk all over me. I covered for you when we were kids, but I won’t have any part of your criminal activities. You should know that. I wouldn’t do it then, and I won’t now.”

“Don’t act like you’re better than me, Diana. Don’t you dare. You always got off on being Little Miss Perfect, but I know the truth about you. We both know you’re not who you pretend to be.”


Favourite Moment #5

Luc and Di’s wedding

When I turned to look forward again, I found my whole world right there before my eyes, looking more wonderful than ever.  He smiled – were those tears in his eyes? – and took my hand in his.

There was no third party present to conduct the legal part of the ceremony.  I didn’t want to be married by a stranger and we didn’t know anyone personally who was authorised to perform a wedding, so we had taken care of that part of it the day before at the courthouse in town.  Today’s ceremony was all about celebrating with our family and friends, and (most importantly) with each other.  Vows, therefore, were to take place today.

“Luc…” I took a deep breath, and clutched the ring more firmly in my trembling fingers.  Oh God, please don’t let me forget my own vows.  “I… I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that, from the first time we danced together, you changed my life… for the better.”  I tried to look him in the eyes as I spoke, but found it almost impossible to do so without crying.  “There has never been, and never will be, anyone for me but you.  My heart, my body and my mind are yours forever.”  Drawing a ragged breath, I slipped the ring onto his third finger with shaking hands.  ” ‘I give this ring, in pledge of my love and devotion.  With this ring I thee wed.’ ”

As I finished speaking, I looked up into his beautiful green eyes, shining with unshed tears.  He smiled at me, and my heart melted.

“Diana,” he began, almost in a whisper.  His voice was quite steady, but the hand that gripped mine was shaking slightly.  “The first time I saw you was the first time I really fell head-over-heels for anyone.”  He paused and chuckled.  “I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s the truth.  For as long as I’ve known you, you have been the most important person in my life.  I’m so grateful that I’m the person you chose to spend the rest of yours with.  I promise to love and treasure you forever, no matter what we come up against, and the harder it gets, the tighter I’ll hold on.  I give this ring in pledge of my love and devotion to you, my beautiful genius.  With this ring I thee wed.”  The cold metal felt foreign on my finger, but at the same time, it felt right.  “I now declare us husband and wife,” he announced.  Everyone laughed.  “May I kiss the bride?”

Laughing, I nodded.  The last rays of the setting sun danced off the water behind us as Luc threw his arms around me and pressed his lips hungrily against mine.


Favourite Moment #4

the big fight

“Luc, please, say something!”  I begged, tears welling up in my eyes.

“I can’t… believe it.”  His voice was less than a whisper.

I raised my eyes to his.  “What?”

“I can’t believe it,” he repeated, more firmly, and I winced at the pain in his voice.

I grimaced, still trying to keep the tears at bay.  “Well, that’s what I’ve been thinking for the past ten minutes.”

He scowled at me.  “This is totally different.”

“Oh?”  I challenged him.  I was still feeling miserably guilty, but I wasn’t going to let him think that everything he had just told me about his past wasn’t going to affect me because of that.  “How so?”

He gritted his teeth in frustration and shut his eyes, refusing to look at me.  “That was years ago-”

“-That doesn’t make a difference!”  I interrupted.  The tears were flowing in earnest now.

“Look, I was young-”

“-I was drunk!-”

“-You still cheated on me–”

“-You still vandalised a school–”

“-You kissed another guy-”

“-YOU BROKE THE LAW-”

“YOU BROKE MY-” he stopped himself abruptly and just glared at me, red-faced and breathing deeply, as though he had suddenly realised what he was about to confess.

We both knew what he meant.  The unsaid word hung in the air between us, an impenetrable barrier where seconds earlier there had been nothing but hot air.  I stood, frozen, staring at his face, tears streaming down my cheeks while he still refused to look me in the eye.  And I, terrified of what I might see there, didn’t want him to.


Favourite Moment #3

Pat comforts Di after her fight with Luc

Pat reached out to comfort me, but instinctively I cowered away from him, afraid to let him touch me.  “No…” was all I could whisper.  “Please…”

“Di, please.  Tell me what’s wrong.”  He looked as though he was about to cry himself, but made no move to touch me again.  I buried my face in my hands and shook my head.  I couldn’t speak – it felt as though I was being crushed by the pain.

“Is this about Luc?” he asked, gently.  Surprised, I lifted my head to look at him, and nodded.  I bit my lip to stop it trembling, still struggling to form a coherent sentence.

Pat scowled at my admission and started to stand.  “That’s it,” he said furiously.  “I’m going to kill him for this.  I told him… I wouldn’t… but if he’s hurt you-”

I grabbed his arm to stop him, frantically shaking my head.  “No,” I croaked.  “Please, Pat… it wasn’t his fault.”

Clearly fighting to stay calm, he sank to his knees again.  “Then what is it?  What’s happened, Di?  Tell me.  You know I’m here for you.”

Choking back my tears, I explained to him, as best I could, what I had done.  With Jake, and with Luc, and all about our argument that night.  I tried to leave out as much as possible of what Luc had told me of his past – that wasn’t mine to share.  When I got to the part about walking out the door, my voice hitched, and another sob caught in my throat.  What had I done?

Pat, who had listened calmly throughout, stretched out a hesitant hand to gently brush against the side of my face.

“It’s going to be okay,” he told me, wiping the stream of tears from my cheek with his thumb.  “Okay?  I promise.  I don’t know Luc all that well, but I know you, and if- if you love him…” his voice faltered and a new sorrow filled his eyes, but he pressed on bravely, “… if you love him, he’s got to be a pretty great guy.  There’s no way he’s going to abandon you just like that.  Not after all that’s happened.”

“But…” I wasn’t convinced.  “Pat, everyone has their limits.  I cheated on him.  I kissed another guy.”

“You were drunk.”

I shook my head.  “That doesn’t change what I did.  Why would… why would he want me after… after that?”  I barely finished the question as the pain of what I had done rose up again inside me.  I threw my arms around Pat’s neck and pressed my face into his shoulder, drenching his shirt with my tears as I cried.  I felt his muscles stiffen under my fingers, but refused to let go.  This was all I had.  Without him here, I wouldn’t be able to bear it, I knew it.  He was all I had to cling to as my world fell to pieces around me.


Favourite Moment #2

Luc defends Di against Oliver danes

“Do you think you’re irresistible or something?” I hissed, turning my head to the side so that his presumptuous lips landed on my neck instead.  “Get the hell off me, asshole!”  With a yell, I launched forward off the lockers and brought my knee up as hard as I could into his stomach.

He let go immediately, staggering backwards with a surprised “Ooft!”  I advanced, ready to take full advantage of his weakened position to land a few well-deserved punches.  As I raised my fist, however, I felt a gentle but strong grip close around it.  Whoever it was pulled me backwards, catching me against his own body, one hand wrapped securely around my waist while the other released my wrist to rest soothingly on my right shoulder. For the second time in a span of several minutes, I found myself trapped in someone else’s arms against my will.

I struggled, still seeing red, fighting with all my strength to get back to Oliver Danes and give him a long overdue beating up.  “Let… me… go!” I panted furiously.  He’s getting away!  I scratched at his arms and stamped as hard as I could on the toes of my assailant, but though he grunted in pain, his grip held firm.

“Di!  Calm the hell down, it’s me!”  a pained voice said in my ear.

“… Luc?”  What was he doing here?  He never came to school.

“Yeah, so stop trying to beat me up, okay?”

I let myself relax, watching in defeat as Oliver Danes got to his feet and brushed the dust off his jeans.  There goes my chance of a lifetime, I thought glumly.

Oliver Danes stood up, glancing between me and Luc with a scowl on his face.  “Who the fuck are you?” he addressed Luc.  I felt his body briefly tense up behind me, but when he spoke, his tone was quite calm.

“You should be thanking me,” Luc said.  Even though I couldn’t see his face, I could hear the amusement in his voice.  “I just saved you from the retribution you undeniably deserve, at the hands of someone perfectly equipped to deliver it.”

I glanced up at him in surprise.  If he thought it was so well-deserved, why did he stop me?

Oliver’s eyes wandered over Luc’s hands, still spread protectively over my shoulders and abdomen.  “Is she your girlfriend or something?”

I half expected Luc to lie and say yes, but he didn’t.  Neither did he deny it.  “That’s none of your business,” he replied coolly.  “But you had better leave her the fuck alone… or you’ll regret it.  A lot.”

His green eyes bore threateningly into Oliver’s light blue ones, and for a moment the other boy looked ready to punch him.  Several tense seconds passed before Oliver spoke again.

“Whatever,” he spat.  “She’s not even worth it.”

With that, he pushed past us, turned the corner and disappeared.


Favourite Moment #1

Luc and Di’s first kiss

The sun had just begun to set when he took my hand in his.  The warmth in the gesture calmed me, even as I struggled to contain my own feelings of loneliness which threatened to spill over and overwhelm all the good that had come with being accepted into the course of my dreams.  I had been trying not to think about it too much, but I was going to miss him too… how much, I don’t think I had quite realised until that moment.

“It’s not that I’m not happy for you,” he went on hurriedly.  “I’m so happy for you!  I just…” He took a deep breath.  “There’s something I have to tell you before you go.  I wasn’t going to say anything, but I can’t let you go without telling you, and then not see you for months and months and…”

I had never seen him look so uneasy.  He groaned in frustration, turned away, ran his fingers through his hair the way he always did when he was stressed or confused.  Then he turned to face me, and something in his eyes made my heart stand still.  Without another word, he stepped forward…

Cupped my face in his strong hands…

And kissed me.

Luc.

Kissed.

Me.

Luc kissed me.

For what felt like forever I just stood there, trying to make sense of things as a thousand feelings and thoughts and sensations bombarded my mind.  I had to stop this… had to tell him that we were just friends, that we couldn’t be anything more.  I had decided, I had promised myself.  Regardless of how I felt, or he felt, or… just friends.  I was too terrified of losing him for anything else.  But even knowing that, I…

… I…

… never wanted this to end.


So there you have it! My favourite moments from the story so far. I tried to vary them a little, so that they weren’t all romantic, even though I’m a sucker for romance and so those tend to be my favourite scenes. I hope you enjoyed reliving these as much as I did 🙂

Moodboard Tag

I was tagged for this challenge by Lila Remonn, whose moodboards are just… so extra it’s amazing. Inspired by the lengths to which she took the challenge, and because I had nothing better to do with my time, I created moodboards for the founder and both heirs, as well as the rest of Diana’s immediate family. I won’t be tagging anyone because the original tag was seven(!) months ago so I’m a bit late to the party. With that said, I hope you enjoy!


Nicole



Bianca



Diana



Luc



Gabriel



Hugo



Hope


Generation Three: Outtakes

At the end of every generation, I publish pictures and scenes that didn’t make it into the final chapters. While compiling the images for this post, I found that as time went on I was taking my pictures increasingly with particular story scenes in mind, meaning that I was getting less and less outtakes by the end. Which is good, because it means a tighter plot and better story if I have all that in my head while I’m doing screenshots, but it also means less ingame fun is captured for later enjoyment. In future, I’ll try to remember to take more pictures of my sims just going about their lives, but for now please enjoy the outtakes for Generation 3, such as they are.

(Chapter numbers are included as a guide to indicate approximately where in the story timeline these events took place.)


Chapter 3.1

At the start, I used to get James to make fancy meals for the family every night, and they’d all sit down and eat dinner together 🙂 That practice dwindled somewhat since his death, since no one in this gen was especially gifted in the kitchen. But it was nice while it lasted.

Diana had an… interesting sense of style when she first aged up, complete with those infamous pigtails that every single sim seems to have when they age up. This was before Pat turned human, but he was there in doll form cheering her on.

This photo of Bianca kissing Flynn goodnight is just :3 adorable. I can’t believe I didn’t find a way to work it into the actual chapter.

As a child, Emily enjoyed stomping around the house and making faces at everything. Because, you know, she’s evil I guess. And that’s what evil people do.

I don’t know if this is Di or Emily, they look so darn similar. I hope it’s Di. It would seem to indicate that, at some point, she was just a happy-go-lucky kid playing make-believe.

Di actually spent a lot of time at the Best’s house as a teen, hanging out with Mandy. I’m not sure why I didn’t include it in the story, cause it’s actually a really nice house.

Diana and Pat dancing together ❤ I apparently did a disservice to Pat by making it look like the first time she let loose in her life was with Luc.

Flynn, the dramatic thing, telling *scary* stories.

Family breakfast of French toast in the winter, made by James. (Note to self – include more cute family bonding moments like this in the next generation.)

Di was often late to meals. Perhaps she stayed up too late studying? Wouldn’t be the first time.

Di being a good big sister :3 In a… riding outfit? For some inexplicable reason.

James cooking dim sims… in the… oven. As you do.

(Sims are weird. Potato vines, anyone?)

“Mum, I think I’m having a growth spurt” – Emily, probably.

I have no recollection of what happened here. James probably electrocuted himself fixing a dishwasher or something.

I included Emily’s shower prank in the story, but not its outcome.

This was its outcome.


Chapter 3.2

Emily’s party in Chapter 3.2 was attended by every teenager in town, including Mandy, and Di’s cousin Ethan (Cody’s son), who you may remember dated in high school and later got married. The party was where they met. While all the dancing was going on downstairs, they were upstairs (autonomously) making out.

I originally had Luc and Di’s coversation at the party take place in a different spot in the room. Di was sitting at the bar reading, and Luc came and sat beside her. I honestly don’t remember why I changed this – my best guess is that I felt it was unrealistic, most likely because the orientation of the bar was such that they wouldn’t be able to sit there and watch the dancers at the same time. It might also have been simply that I had more and better pictures of them talking on the couch.


Chapter 3.3

The pool scene at Diana’s house originally took place at Mandy Best’s house, and included a salad dinner with Mandy’s family.

I believe the main reason I cut it out and reshot the scene was so that it would make sense for Mandy to leave towards the end of the evening, leaving Di and Luc alone in the hot tub. If it were her house that they were at, leaving them to their own devices would have just made her a bad host.

Diana, ever the dutiful daughter, doing laundry for her family.


Chapter 3.4

I think there was a photo booth at Emily’s party? Anyway, here are some adorable photos that Di and Luc took in a photo booth somewhere.

LOL and here’s Emily and Luc having a catfight. I think they’re both rebellious, and Luc is hot-headed and Emily is evil so… makes sense, I guess?

Di is sick of their crap.

I hosted a big Thanksgiving party for the extended family at one point. Literally everyone brought pie. I guess it wasn’t in the story because I didn’t think it was that relevant to anything else that was going on.

For the scene with Oliver Danes, I added him to the household so I could control him better. Which meant he was staying with the family for a day or two, and in that time he found time to befriend and have a water balloon fight with a naked gentleman on the street. As you do.


Chapter 3.5

The prom limo was held up for a while due to heavy traffic on the roads.

Behind-the-scenes with the extras for the prom chapter:

Sim Diana was less than impressed with… I’m not sure what. Mandy? Her outfit? Probably Mandy’s suggestive comments about her and Luc.

But who turned out to be right, huh Di?

Luc brought Di flowers when he came to pick her up for prom :3

Di was very excited.

Pat rocked the karaoke machine at prom, and Ethan arrived… naked. Poor Mandy.

This was a random sim I found wandering around town, I think. I took him into CAS to check if it was a bug, but no, somehow that’s just his face. Poor guy :/

Sim Diana was so not here for Mandy’s interrogation during the study session. I really should have included some of this gold in the chapters.


Chapter 3.6

When Diana aged up to a young adult, I put her in CAS and gave her Bianca’s young adult hairstyle to see how much she looked like her mother. And boy, does she look like her mother.

Hahahahaha… So this was what it looked like in-game when Di was sharing the exciting news of her departure to university with Luc.

They were both pretty psyched.

Beautiful, Di. You’re lucky he’s already in love with you.

A few outtakes from the kiss scene, because I took a lot of pictures and most didn’t make it into the chapter.

Di and Luc’s high school graduation, which didn’t make it into the story at all.


Chapter 3.7

Diana brought the photo booth picture of Luc and her to uni. It still makes me sad to think of all the personal things like this that I’ve lost with all the new games and moving houses.

She also received a surprise visitor in the night. No abduction, thankfully, just an alien that wandered around the front porch for a few hours before leaving.

Di actually went to a couple of parties while at uni, usually in her swimwear. And lit bonfires. In her swimwear. In the rain.


Chapter 3.8

Sim Di in general was wilder than character Di. During the party, Jake actually helped her do a kegstand, which didn’t make it into the story because I decided it was too out of character for her.


Chapter 3.9

I experimented with a few “fight” poses for this chapter, but didn’t use them in the chapter because they looked kinda… abusive? I don’t think Luc would ever grab Di like that, even if he was angry with her.


Chapter 3.10

The date was so much fun to play and pose. Luc kissed Di on the bridge and they went ice skating together, but neither of those things were in the story, unfortunately. Once again, I don’t know why I keep cutting out great stuff like this.

The lovemaking scene was another for which I took a lot of pictures, most of which didn’t make it into the chapter. So, forgive me for wanting to share them now.


Chapter 3.11

Another one I can’t believe I didn’t include in the chapter. She misses him! So meaningful. So sad. 😦


Chapter 3.12

The maid, overstepping his bounds somewhat. (This actually happened to me one time, except instead of making the bed I was in, he didn’t even realise I was there and chucked everything that was on the floor on top of me so he could vacuum.)


Chapter 3.13

James finally reached the top of his career and retired! Diana wasn’t around, but Bianca and Luc were there to celebrate with him.

The twins and Gabriel all had their birthdays on the same day.

We didn’t get to see a lot of the twins as toddlers, so here they are just after they aged up. You may notice that I dyed Hope’s hair a more natural colour, instead of the weird grey highlights she has here.


3.15

A few highlights from Diana’s second semester at university.

Both Hugo and Hope had imaginary friend dolls, but I didn’t want another Patterns storyline, so I didn’t let them build their relationships high enough to age up together.

Poor Gabriel passed out a lot as a kid. I’m a horrible parent, really.

Luc raked a huge pile of leaves in the Autumn, and Di had a good play with it before he burned it. Again, I wish I’d included more of these family bonding moments in Diana’s generation.

It’s the claaaaaawww!


Chapter 3.16

Hugo and Hope grew up very attractive, and clearly twins. The resemblance is striking.

I don’t know how Diana found the time to ride a mechanical bull, but somehow she did.

It did not go very well.


Chapter 3.17

Fun fact: Celia’s house was actually a house I built for the family just before I stopped playing. When I got back after switching computers, half my CC had disappeared, so I decided to just start building all over again. I included it in the story as Celia’s house because I already had too many story-relevant images set there, but they weren’t there long enough to realistically pass it off as their own house.

Diana and Luc had a hot tub in their bathroom, which hasn’t been a thing in any house before or since.

I had originally intended for a lot more of Diana and Celia’s conversations to happen in the office, but after Diana stopped working for Amelia it didn’t really make sense for them to keep hanging out there.

Hope was not impressed by her mother’s campaign party guests.

Another couple of great features of “Celia’s” house: a drafting table in Gabriel’s room, and a basketball court in the backyard for Hugo.

As an elder, Bianca enjoyed going to the park to fish in peace. She even ran into a deer once or twice.

James’ death wasn’t an event in the chapter for two reasons: one, I’m trying to steer the story into more realistic waters, and sim deaths are far from; and two, it happened during the full moon so the lighting was all weird (stupid Supernatural – I have since disabled this feature).


Post- Chapter 3.20

(Chapters 3.18-3.20 were so heavily scripted that there were no outtakes to be had. Sorry 😦 )

Bianca died right after returning home from the inauguration. At least she lived to see her daughter become mayor?

The gravestone spawned on one side of the hedge, and the Grim Reaper spawned on the other, so we all had to wait while he walked around the hedge so that he could do his thing and summon Bianca to the underworld.

Hope was abducted by aliens while I was shooting the heirs’ introductory chapters. I missed the abduction, unfortunately, but I did manage to get a picture of the culprit!


And that’s the end of the outtakes for Generation 3! There were more than I was expecting, but I forgot so much of what happened in my game early on. The start of this generation was over two years ago. Anyway, hope you all enjoyed. Stay tuned for the results of the heir vote, which should be up in a couple of days!

Chapter 3.16 – The Jefferson Campaign

“Remind me again why Amelia isn’t doing this?”

screenshot-227_mini

Celia glanced up from her desk at my question, looking surprised.  “What do you mean?”

“I mean, shouldn’t she be more involved in her own campaign?  Ethics aside, I feel like it would cultivate a better public image.  If she were more involved in the process in here, then naturally she’d look more like she knows what she’s doing out there.”

“Oh.”  She sounded almost embarrassed.  “Well, I think she was, the first time.  But now she has all her work for council as well, you see?  So she hires people like us to do it for her.”

I shrugged, and returned my attention to the cork board I’d been scrutinising for the past half hour.  Something about it was still bothering me.  If Amelia was concerned about losing votes, then surely there must be a different, better way to campaign.  I just had to work out what it was.  I tilted my head to the side – as if that would help – and groaned in frustration.

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“There has to be a solution here somewhere,” I muttered to myself.  Amelia had sat on the town council for three years running, meaning three successful elections.  Three successful (and, from what I could tell, more or less identical) campaigns.  But this year, enthusiasm for her cause seemed to have dropped significantly.  Volunteers were scarce, and fundraising had been disappointing thus far.  Apparently, a change was needed if she wanted to secure a fourth year in office.  But what could be done?  Frustrated, I racked my brains for a new idea, some untapped resource I could use, even someone I could talk to…

Of course.  Weren’t they always going on about connections at university?  Hadn’t Professor Cadence herself assured me that she would always be available should I ever need someone to turn to for career advice?  I retrieved my phone from my desk and dialled her number, ignoring Celia’s questioning looks.  She picked up on the third ring.

“Marian Cadence speaking.”

“Hello, Professor?  It’s Diana Hunter.”

“Diana!” She sounded both surprised and pleased.  “It’s lovely to hear from you.  How are you doing?”

“I’m doing fine, thank you.  Actually, I’m at work right now; I’m working on an election campaign for a local politician, and I was wondering if maybe you could give me a few pointers.”

“Of course, I’d be happy to.  Tell me about the campaign.”

I explained the situation to her as best I could.  When I finished, she was silent for a few moments.

“Well, without enough volunteers for the cause, it’s going to be hard to carry out any kind of face-to-face canvasing.  That’s a problem.”

I nodded eagerly.  “That’s what I thought.”

“But volunteer numbers need to take a back seat for now.  If your campaign is appealing, it won’t be a problem for long.  I would recommend finding out what people are interested in, and gearing your aims towards that.”

I frowned.  “But how are we going to get people’s opinions without having anyone to send out on surveys?”

“How’s your online presence?”

“My… what?”

“Your online presence.  People spend a lot more time glued to their computers nowadays!  If you want your campaign to reach people, you need to have a strong online presence so people will remember you.  Make your cause accessible.”

“Accessible. Got it. We’ll give it a try!  Thank you so much, Professor.”

“Any time, Diana.  Let me know how it goes.”

“Definitely!”

“What was all that about?” Celia asked as I ended the call.

“That was my college professor,” I told her.  “She gave me some good ideas.  I think we’re finally onto something!”

That evening as I sat alone at the family computer downstairs, I tried to come up with the best ways to get the campaign going online. I supposed the first step would be to make a page on every social media platform I could, and keep them all regularly updated. I sighed. That would mean a lot of extra work for Celia or me, or both. I logged onto my business profile and clicked on “create a page”.  Immediately, I was presented with a slew of questions. What was our name? Were we a cause, an institution, a person, or a business? What was our target audience? What was our image, our slogan? And a hundred other things I hadn’t even begun to consider yet.

Step two: make people want to support it. We’d need something attractive, a good image, a good tagline. What exactly did Amelia stand for? “Vote Amelia Jefferson: Power to the People!” I snorted. The only way that would work was if by “power to the people” you meant “everyone else does all the work”. She had been in politics for a while, so in some ways “The devil you know” seemed more accurate, though I wasn’t sure if Amelia would be too pleased with the implications behind a slogan like that.

Around ten at night, Dad and Luc came downstairs and started making a ruckus in the kitchen, opening and closing cupboards and discussing recipes and ingredients. I sat up in the chair and stuck my head over the monitor so I could see what they were doing.

“What are you two up to?” I asked curiously.

Luc looked surprised as he turned to me. “We’re baking cakes. It’s the twins’ birthday tomorrow, remember?”

I gasped. “Crap, I totally forgot! I’m sorry, I’ve just been so busy with work…” I trailed off as Luc shook his head.

“Don’t worry about it, babe. You finish what you’re working on and your dad and I will take care of the cakes. Just as long as you’re here to celebrate with us tomorrow, okay?”

I nodded, feeling rather ashamed in spite of the lack of criticism. The next morning, I was in the kitchen bright and early with a twin on each hip, ready and determined to make up for almost having forgotten my babies’ birthday. The cakes were beautiful, and the twins were completely over-excited. Luc gave me his usual morning kiss on the lips as he took Hugo from my aching arms. As he pulled back, he examined the dark circles under my eyes with a critical frown.

“Are you sure you’re okay, Di?” he asked with concern. “You seem like you’ve been working really hard lately. Don’t you think you might be overdoing it a bit?”

I shook my head. “I’m fine,” I assured him, with what I hoped was a convincing smile. “Let’s not make the kids wait any longer.”

I watched happily as first Hugo, then Hope, blew out their birthday candles with the help of their daddy. Mum handed me a party horn, while Dad and Gabriel stood by with noisemakers, clacking them wildly.

I’m probably a little biased, but my kids were the most beautiful I’d ever seen. It was funny, because I’d never been overly fond of children before Gabriel was born. Now that I had three, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Hugo had inherited Dad’s white-blond hair and Mum’s dark blue eyes. Luc insisted that he looked just like me, but I could have sworn he had his father’s lips.

Hope, meanwhile, took after Luc in both features and attitude. She was lovely, but hot-tempered, and with a rebellious streak that (thank goodness) neither of her brothers seemed to share.

Luc tried to convince me to take a few days off work after the twins’ birthday to celebrate as a family, but with the campaign deadline this close I really couldn’t afford to rest. Celia and I were now hard at work promoting the campaign across social media, while Amelia demanded frequent updates on follower numbers, expected votes, ratings, and how the campaign itself was progressing. Celia also suggested that we throw a party to raise both funds and awareness for the campaign. Although Amelia disapproved at first, it was hard for her to protest once the simoleons started rolling in.

By the evening before the election, we had done all that we could to ensure Amelia’s political success, and our own job security. Now all we could do was wait.

“I really think we’ve got a good shot at winning this, Diana,” Celia confided to me as we left the office. “We’ve done everything we can.” I nodded, but didn’t reply. The fear of failure squeezing at my insides was all I could think about.

Amelia had agreed to give us both a week off work while the electoral votes were being tallied, which meant I had an entire week to spend with my family for the first time since I’d gone back to work. I felt guilty that I hadn’t been keeping up with my kids’ lives as I should have been, and told myself that this was my chance to change that.

For their birthdays, both Hugo and Hope had graduated from the nursery into their own brand-new bedrooms, decorated in their favourite colours. Hope’s was white and fit for a princess, with a small rocking horse in the corner that Hugo inexplicably preferred far above his own. When questioned, he simply explained that “this one rocks higher”.

Hugo had moved into Gabriel’s old room, while Gabriel had set himself and his easel up in the newly remodelled nursery.

When I returned home on the last Friday evening before my week off, I slipped into Hugo’s room to say goodnight and found my Dad reading Hugo his favourite book, Rise of the Gnomes: The Incredible Story of the Starlight Gnomes’ Journey to Victory. The Starlight Gnomes were Hugo’s favourite football team. He was sure he wanted to join them someday, and in the meantime his bedroom walls were plastered in orange-red-and-blue team posters.

“… but the Gnomes’ first victory was only one of many more to come.” Dad looked up as he finished the chapter and smiled when he saw me standing in the doorway. “Good night, buddy,” he murmured, bending down to kiss Hugo’s cheek. “I think your mum’s here to say goodnight as well!”

Hugo sat up in bed and grinned when he saw me. “Hi, Mummy.”

“Hey, sweetie,” I replied with a smile. “Are you going to sleep now?”

He nodded. “Yup! But not before we say goodnight.”

I laughed. “Of course not. Goodnight, my lad.” Hugo reached up to throw his arms around my neck as I kissed his flushed little cheek. “Sweet dreams.”

After I had switched off the light and left the room, I found Dad waiting outside the door for me. “I just wanted to say,” he said as we walked down the hallway towards Hope’s bedroom, “that I think it’s good that you’re doing this. Taking a week off work. You need it, honey, and the kids need it. They miss you. And Luc worries about you.”

I sighed. “I know. Thanks, Dad.”

Hope was already asleep when we got to her room, Luc having put her to bed after reading her own favourite story. Dad sat gently on the side of her bed and leaned down to kiss her cheek. “Goodnight, sweet pea.”

She smiled in her sleep as I approached, and when I kissed her goodnight she halfheartedly pursed her lips in return. “Goodnight, Mummy,” she murmured sleepily. “I love you.”

The week that followed was, dare I saw it, one of the best I had enjoyed in a long time. Luc and I bought a slip-n-slide for the kids, and spent the hot summer days encouraging them to play on it, splashing around in the pool together, visiting the festival in town and roasting marshmallows over the backyard fire pit. When the week was finally over, I almost didn’t want to go back to work. Almost.

The night that the election results were announced, I got a phone call from Celia during dinner, and excused myself from the table to take it in the next room. “Hey, Celia. What’s going on? Did they release the election results yet?”

“Yes!” she almost yelled. “Diana, we did it! We won!”

I should have felt pleased, or relieved. Instead, all I could feel was envy for Amelia. I could never be satisfied where I was.

Generation 3 – The Story So Far

Our current heir and POV character is Diana Hunter, daughter of Bianca and James and granddaughter of the legacy founder, Nicole.

Diana grew up in Starlight Shores as the eldest of three siblings. Her sister, Emily, was the troublemaker and party girl of the family. Last we saw Emily, she was on the brink of abandoning life as she knew it to pursue a career in crime.

She made a brief appearance at Diana’s wedding, but otherwise neither we nor Diana has any idea what she’s been up to since her teenage years.

Diana’s brother, Flynn, was prone to slacking off, and struggled in school as a child. As a teen, their parents sent him away to military school in the hopes that he would learn responsibility and discipline.

Soon after returning home, he moved out to start a new family with his wife, August (far left, below).

As a child, Diana was an overachiever, who focused all her energy on her schoolwork and pursuing her dream of a career in politics.

As a teenager, she met Luc, who challenged everything she thought she knew about herself and the world and forced her to adopt a more balanced outlook.

Although she was initially suspicious of his advances, the two eventually became good friends and went to prom together.

This was much to the dismay of Diana’s childhood imaginary friend (who Diana turned into a human using a mysterious potion), Pat, who had always had feelings for her.

After the prom, Diana’s best friend Mandy tried to encourage Diana to confront her developing feelings for Luc. Diana refused, too afraid of jeopardising her friendship with Luc to take a chance on any romantic feelings she might have for him.

After graduating high school, Diana planned to go to University to study a Political Science degree. The day before her departure, Luc confessed his love for her, and they began a long-distance relationship.

While she was at university, Luc encouraged Diana to enjoy a balanced lifestyle by focusing on social activities as well as her studies. Taking his advice to heart, Diana attended a friend’s party, where she managed to get blackout drunk and made out with a strange guy, thinking it was Luc.

After her return home, Di confessed to Luc what she had done. They got into a huge fight, and Di left his house in tears, thinking their relationship was over.

Diana sought comfort from Pat, who reassured her that all was not lost and encouraged her to go back to Luc and talk it out.

She returned to Luc’s house, where both of them apologised and forgave each other. They decided to go on a make-up date at the park that evening.

After the date, they went back to Luc’s house, where things got a little hot and heavy.

In the following days, Diana started to feel consistently nauseous. During an afternoon hanging out with her old friend Mandy, the latter suggested that Diana might be pregnant, which she fearfully denied. Pregnancy was not in her plan right now – she still had a degree to complete and a career to get started before even thinking about starting a family.

Mandy’s hunch turned out to be correct, and Diana had difficulty accepting the disruption to her life plans. She blamed Luc for the situation, and out of a combination of anger, shame and embarrassment cut him off entirely and refused to speak to him for months while her pregnancy progressed.

Eventually Luc came to her house himself and forced her to talk to him. In his shock, he made the mistake of asking whether or not the child was his, and Diana, insulted and furious, drove him out of the house.

Weeks later, he returned to apologise and they made up, with Luc promising to stay and take care of her and their child.

Eventually their first child, Gabriel Hunter, was born. Although she had struggled to accept at first that her life was taking a very different course from what she had planned, Diana loved her son dearly and cared for him as best she could, with the support of Luc and her family.

After Gabriel’s birth, Diana started her first job in politics as a polling officer for local elections. While she worked, Luc stayed at home to care for their son.

However, just when she was starting to feel like her career was back on track, Diana discovered that she was pregnant again.

The second pregnancy took less of an emotional toll on Diana than the first, because Luc was there to support her the whole time. During her pregnancy, Luc proposed marriage, and she accepted.

Their engagement was a long one, since Diana didn’t want to get married while she was still pregnant. A year or two after giving birth to twins Hugo and Hope, Luc and Diana were married in a big wedding surrounded by their friends and family.

After the wedding, Diana decided to return to university to finish her degree. She finally managed to graduate successfully with a degree in Political Science.

Having earned her degree also earned Diana additional respect and prestige in the Political world. She started a new job as a campaign manager for a local politician, Amelia Jefferson.

Although her boss was quite harsh and unwelcoming, Diana soon befriended her colleague and Amelia’s personal assistant, Celia.


And that’s as far as we’ve got! Come back tomorrow for the year-in-the-making revival of Diana’s story, as she tries to juggle campaigning her boss to victory in the local elections with being a mother to three fast-developing young children.

I must admit, even writing this has made me feel more like continuing the story, so hopefully this new wave of motivation will last long enough to get a decent chunk of writing done. Thank you all for your patience and understanding. It means a lot ❤

Chapter 3.14 – As Long as We Both Shall Live

 

– Two years later –

The first tinkling notes of music were my cue.  I took a deep breath, and stepped through the gauzy white curtains which had been put up to maintain the tradition of the bride not being seen before her first entrance.

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I had practised this walk at least twenty times already, just to be sure, in the hallway at home, but that was without Luc standing at the end of the aisle, watching me with a slight grin on his face and a look of adoration in his eyes that turned my knees to jelly.

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I could feel everyone’s eyes on me as I walked down the aisle, but I didn’t look at any of them.  If I broke eye contact with Luc for even a second, I would lose the wonderful sense of calm that was temporarily holding at bay all my fear, excitement, anxiety, anticipation and a happiness so great it threatened to spill out my eyes.

As I neared the front row, I chanced a glance to my left, where Gabriel, Hugo and Hope were beaming at me, looking almost as happy as I felt.  I smiled at them – Hugo waved happily, and Hope burst into excited giggles.

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When I turned to look forward again, I found my whole world right there before my eyes, looking more wonderful than ever.  He smiled – were those tears in his eyes? – and took my hand in his.

There was no third party present to conduct the legal part of the ceremony.  I didn’t want to be married by a stranger and we didn’t know anyone personally who was authorised to perform a wedding, so we had taken care of that part of it the day before at the courthouse in town.  Today’s ceremony was all about celebrating with our family and friends, and (most importantly) with each other.  Vows, therefore, were to take place today.

“Luc…” I took a deep breath, and clutched the ring more firmly in my trembling fingers.  Oh God, please don’t let me forget my own vows.  “I… I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that, from the first time we danced together, you changed my life… for the better.”  I tried to look him in the eyes as I spoke, but found it almost impossible to do so without crying.  “There has never been, and never will be, anyone for me but you.  My heart, my body and my mind are yours forever.”  Drawing a ragged breath, I slipped the ring onto his third finger with shaking hands.  ” ‘I give this ring, in pledge of my love and devotion.  With this ring I thee wed.’ ”

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As I finished speaking, I looked up into his beautiful green eyes, shining with unshed tears.  He smiled at me, and my heart melted.

“Diana,” he began, almost in a whisper.  His voice was quite steady, but the hand that gripped mine was shaking slightly.  “The first time I saw you was the first time I really fell head-over-heels for anyone.”  He paused and chuckled.  “I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s the truth.  For as long as I’ve known you, you have been the most important person in my life.  I’m so grateful that I’m the person you chose to spend the rest of yours with.  I promise to love and treasure you forever, no matter what we come up against, and the harder it gets, the tighter I’ll hold on.  I give this ring in pledge of my love and devotion to you, my beautiful genius.  With this ring I thee wed.”  The cold metal felt foreign on my finger, but at the same time, it felt right.  “I now declare us husband and wife,” he announced.  Everyone laughed.  “May I kiss the bride?”

Laughing, I nodded.  The last rays of the setting sun danced off the water behind us as Luc threw his arms around me and pressed his lips hungrily against mine.

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I smiled against his lips as I kissed him back with equal enthusiasm.  I could hear the laughter and cheers of our family and friends echoing around us, but all my attention was focused on the man in front of me.  “All okay?” he asked as he pulled away, softly so that only I could hear.  I nodded, a funny noise somewhere between a laugh and a sob escaping my mouth as tears continued to trickle over my cheeks.

“I’m so happy,” I choked out, and his grin widened.

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His arms settled around my waist and I reached up to cup his face between my palms.  I opened my mouth, but before I could say anything I heard a familiar riff drifting over from the other side of the pier.

The sun is so hot,

The drinks are so cold…

I laughed.  “Really?”

Luc nodded, still grinning.  “Shall we dance?”

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…We’re gonna stay up,

Ain’t gonna lay low…

I rolled my eyes.  “Just for this song,” I warned jokingly.  The amusement in his eyes told me that he remembered as well as I did the first time I had said those exact words.

“Come on then,” he said, and, grabbing my by the hand, led me back down the aisle I had walked just half an hour ago as his fiancee.

One by one, our guests rose from their seats to follow us onto the dance floor.  Mandy, my maid of honour, bade goodbye to best man Flynn (with whom she had sat for the duration of the ceremony) to go find her husband, Ethan.  Behind them, I noticed Mum and Dad, hand in hand, making their way up the aisle towards us.  Before long, a crowd of guests had gathered around the speakers, which were still blasting ‘our song’.

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As the night wore on, I noticed Emily, ever the party animal, dancing with Pat and our cousin Carolina.  It made me smile reminiscently to think of the wild parties she used to throw in our basement as a teen.  I hadn’t seen or heard much from her at all since she had moved out, so I was glad, though mildly surprised, that she had found the time to return for my wedding.

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The rock song we had been dancing to faded out, and a slow ballad took its place.  Those of our guests who had come with dates started to sway gently together to the music, while others, such as Emily, merely grabbed whoever was closest and introduced themselves.  I caught Pat’s eye over Luc’s shoulder and threw him a smile, which he returned only half-heartedly and moved away towards the buffet table.  Frowning slightly, I looked away.  Was something wrong with Pat?  Perhaps I should talk to him about it when I got back home.

“Having a good time?”  Luc asked as he drew me into his arms.  I turned my attention back to him and smiled slightly.

“I’m offended that you even have to ask me that.”

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He chuckled slightly.  “Are you as happy as I am?”

“Happier,” I responded.  He grinned, and leaned in to kiss me.

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“I highly doubt that.”

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First of all, I’d like to issue a huge apology for how late this chapter’s been in coming, especially considering how short it was.  I’m having a lot of trouble plotting out Di’s story, aside from a whole bunch of real life crap that I won’t bore you with.  Also I’ve been getting distracted (read: procrastinating) catching up on everyone else’s stories, lol!  I would have made this chapter longer, but I felt that this was the most appropriate place to end it.  HOWEVER, as it is a wedding chapter, you’ll be getting lots of bonus picture spam, and also I’ve been working on the promised “Teen Emily” special so we’ll be seeing that pretty soon as well.  

Also, I’ve been kindly nominated a second time for the Unique Blogger Award by The Windsor Legacy, so if that kind of thing interests you I’ve updated the original post to reflect that and also recorded my answers to the accompanying questions.

And now, onto the wedding pictures that didn’t fit in the chapter!


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… Then my game crashed.

TAKE TWO:
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Crashed again.

THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM:

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Guest list, and their relationship to the Bride:

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Diana’s best friend Mandy and Diana’s brother Flynn, Maid of Honour and Best Man respectively.

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From left to right:  Diana’s friend Patterns, her sister Emily Hunter, and her cousin Ethan Hunter (Cody’s son, and Mandy’s husband)

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Diana’s cousin Terrance Korby-Hunter, and his parents (Diana’s aunt and uncle) Violet and Aidan Korby-Hunter

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Diana’s sister-in-law August (Flynn’s wife – I know, they sure didn’t waste any time), and Diana’s paternal uncle and aunt Herbert and Tyler Striker

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Diana’s cousins Chana, Carolina and Charlie Striker (Tyler and Herbert’s children – Carolina is the eldest, Charlie is the youngest)

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Diana’s first cousin once removed, Dorian Meir (Jamie’s son – below) and Diana’s cousin Deanne Hunter (Cody and Vivian’s youngest daughter)

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Diana’s cousin Jamie Meir and her husband, Javed Meir, and Diana’s cousin (Bridie’s son) Alfonso Hunter

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Diana’s cousin Iris Luck and her husband, Isaac Luck, with their daughter Heather

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Diana’s aunt and uncle Vivian and Cody Hunter, and their son Ron Hunter

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Diana’s parents Bianca and James Hunter, and Bianca’s twin sister Bridie Hunter

 

For further details, if you’re interested, take a look at the Family Tree.

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(The baby Jamie is holding at the far left of the picture above is her daughter, Sheree Meir)

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And finally, a bridal dressing room, which I made but didn’t use in the end because of routing issues 😦

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So there you go.  I hope you enjoyed, and I intend to see you all again very soon!

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Chapter 3.12 – Good Things Come in Unexpected Packages

Luc…

I walked towards him as though in a daze, and, though every particle of my being yearned to be in his arms again, stopped about a metre in front of him and waited.  For all I knew, he might have come to say goodbye, or to drop off a box of stuff I had left at his place.  It was best to let him speak first and avoid humiliating myself.

“Di,” he said at last, “I’m sorry.”

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Wait, what?  He was apologising?  “I’m sorry,” he said again.  “For walking out like that, I-”

“Shh!” I cut him off, glaring.  He wasn’t the one who needed to apologise.  “You have nothing to be sorry for!” I said, ignoring his shocked expression.  “Luc, I’m sorry.  For everything.  I shouldn’t have yelled at you.  I shouldn’t have made you leave.  You’re sorry for walking out?  I didn’t exactly give you much choice at the time!”  Luc opened his mouth again, but I hurried on.  “I didn’t mean it when I said I never wanted to see you again, I swear I didn’t!  I…” I swallowed.  I had never been the best with expressing feelings, but he had a right to know how I really felt.  “I can’t imagine my life without you,” I finished earnestly.  “I should never have avoided you, and lied to you.  I should have told you from the start about… about the baby.”  Gathering my courage, I looked up at him for his reaction to that last part.  To my immense relief, he had a slight smile on his face.

“Well, I sure would have liked to know,” he said.  There was nothing accusatory in his tone, but I felt wretchedly guilty regardless.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered.  “I’m so, so sorry for everything.”

“Hey,” he said gently, reaching up to stroke the back of his hand over my flushed cheek.  “It’s okay, Di.  I forgive you.”

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“You… you do?”

“Of course,” he said, looking surprised that I would ever doubt such a thing.  “God knows I’ve made enough mistakes of my own.  I couldn’t imagine life without you either, Di.  In fact, I plan to stick around for the rest of my life, if you’ll let me.”

I gasped.  He had basically just proposed.  Losing all restraint, I burst into tears and threw myself into his arms.  Luc caught me and stroked my back gently, making soothing sounds in my ear while I sobbed into his shoulder.

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After a few minutes, I managed to calm down enough to ask him the other question that had been plaguing my mind ever since I had seen him at the door.  “And… the baby?”

“What about it?” he asked.  “I’ll stay with you and help, of course.  I love you, Di, and I love the idea of having a family with you.  I know this is a lot sooner than either of us planned, but…” he grinned almost shyly at me.  “I’d like to give it a go, if you’re willing.”

“As if I wouldn’t be,” I said, rolling my eyes slightly but returning his smile.  Beaming as though he’d just won the lottery, Luc lowered his hands to my waist and pulled me close.  From the moment his lips touched mine, I was whole again.

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Luc moved in with us a few weeks later, bringing Ash with him.  With him around to comfort and reason with me, I was finally looking forward to having this baby.  I already knew that Luc would be a top-notch father just from the way he looked after me during those last few months of pregnancy, from countless backrubs to midnight grocery runs to satisfy my ridiculous cravings.  When the time finally came for our child to be born, it was Luc that drove me to the hospital, and held my hand throughout the whole long, difficult process.  He never left my side for a second.

Since it was my first pregnancy, the doctors kept me in the hospital for several weeks before I was finally cleared to go home.  Of course, Luc was there, packing suitcases and fitting car seats and generally never allowing me to lift a finger to help with anything.  He drove all three of us home from the hospital – him, me, and our son.  Gabriel.  Our little angel.

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As I’ve heard is often the case with newborns, neither Luc nor I had time or energy to think about much else for the first few months after Gabriel’s arrival.  Having my parents and brother around was an absolute godsend, since there was always someone to step in when it all just got too much to handle.  Flynn absolutely adored his nephew, and took any chance he could to play with or feed him, which was a real weight off my shoulders a lot of the time.

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Luc was perfect, of course.  Right from the outset he was by Gabriel’s side almost as much as I was, feeding and soothing, never shying away from even the nastiest of dirty diapers.  He and Gabriel were so clearly infatuated with each other that I was almost jealous.

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And Mum, predictably, was so thrilled with her first grandson that she hardly ever left him alone.  Sometimes it was helpful, but a lot of the time I felt like she needed reminding whose child Gabriel actually was.

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The bright side was that, after six months of diapers, blankets, bottles, cuddles and tears – lots and lots of tears, only some of which were Gabriel’s – things had settled down enough that I was able to start thinking about going back to work.  Since my university degree was only half complete I couldn’t make much use of it yet, but I figured even a low-level position would help me to get a foothold in the political scene.

“How do I look?” I asked Luc anxiously on the morning of my first day on the job as a polling officer.

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“Gorgeous, as always,” he responded sleepily from his position on the bed, though still with the teasing grin I loved.

“You’re just saying that.”

“It’s true that I would say you were gorgeous even if you were wearing a garbage bag,” he admitted, lying back against the headboard, “But that doesn’t mean I’m not telling the truth.  You could be wearing nothing at all – actually,” he added with a wink, “That’s not a bad idea…”

I groaned in frustration and scrutinised my reflection anxiously.  “I don’t have time for this.  Everything has to be perfect today!”

Taking pity on me, Luc got up from the bed and walked over to wrap his arms around my waist.

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“You’ll be fine,” he told me soothingly.  “You look beautiful.  Just be your intense, hard-working self and they’ll love you.”

“If you say so,” I said doubtfully, but I did feel a little better.

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As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about – everything was fine, just like Luc said.  The day went by without incident and I returned in the evening, exhausted but feeling more fulfilled than I had in months – my sense of ambition once again alive and kicking – to spend a few precious minutes with my little son before his bedtime.

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That day was the first of many I spent in the same routine over the next eighteen months.  Go to work, work hard, come home just in time to kiss Gabriel goodnight.  I was back where I wanted to be in spite of everything – in fact, I was in an even better place than I had pictured in the past, as Gabriel was a blessing like nothing I could ever have imagined.

It seemed to me like only a few weeks had passed before we were celebrating Gabriel’s second birthday.  Luckily for me, it was a weekend, so I was perfectly at leisure to set up a little party in the kitchen and help Gabriel blow out the candles on his homemade cake – courtesy of my dad, the five-star chef.  As he grew up, I heard a small sniff from behind me – it was Mum.  She reached out and took Gabriel gently from my arms, staring into his little face with misty eyes.

“What’s wrong, Mum?” I asked her, concerned.

She turned towards me, smiling sadly.  “He looks just like your grandmother when she was younger,” she said.  “Her hair… and her eyes.”

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I had never known grandma with anything other than white hair, but, recalling old photos I  had seen of her over the years, I could definitely see what Mum meant.  He certainly hadn’t got that colouring from me or Luc.

Now that Gabriel was older, I was neglecting my work a little in favour of spending as much of my weekends as I could with him.  He was a bright child – Luc liked to say that Gabriel had inherited my brains.  He was certainly a remarkably quick learner, and an eager one as well.  Brains or no, he had doubtless inherited my passion for learning.

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Luc, too, was spending every spare moment playing with Gabriel.  I knew that Luc loved me, but there was a special smile on his face every time he looked at our son that I had never seen there before.  Whenever I watched the two of them together, work seemed suddenly much less important, as if nothing could ever make me happier than what I had right in front of me.

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And when Luc and I weren’t with Gabriel, Flynn was.  The poor little boy rarely got a moment to himself.  Flynn adored his nephew as much as ever, and had many hours to spare now that  he had finished school and his eighteenth birthday was approaching.  I suspected that he wanted to spend as much time with Gabriel as he could before moving out to live on his own.

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I also noticed that he was hanging around with Mum and Dad a lot more lately.  It was true that they were getting on in years, and Flynn probably wouldn’t be staying at home much longer to see them.  I think Fort Starch had grown him up quite a bit, and he was starting to feel that it was time for him to make his own way in the world.

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Flynn had his birthday one quiet morning, while Dad and I were both at work.  I almost didn’t recognise him when I came home – it was as though he had turned into a man overnight.

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As I had suspected, Flynn was not planning on staying at home much longer.  As soon as he found a suitable place to live in town, he would be moving out.  Mum cried, but I, having caught on to his plan months ago, just gave him a tight hug before he left.

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“Be careful out there, little bro.”

“I always am,” he said, and I grinned.

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Life after Flynn’s departure went on as usual.  Luc took on primary childcare duties, while I went back to pursuing my dream job in politics.  Now that the election was over, I was working on collecting, analysing and recording data on public issues for the local council.  I left for work early every morning before most of the family was awake.  Luc, although a late sleeper by nature, always made sure to see me off with a kiss before I went.

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One evening when I arrived home from work, Luc was waiting for me in the front hall.  The moment he saw me walk through the door, he pulled me into his arms for a tight hug, which I gratefully returned.

“Thanks,” I murmured in his ear.  “I needed that.”

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“Hard day?” he asked as he drew away.

I shrugged.  “It wasn’t like I didn’t enjoy the work.  But yeah, it was difficult.  Difficult and exhausting.”  Luc squeezed my waist sympathetically.  “Where’s Gabe?”  I asked him.

“Playing with the chess set,” Luc chuckled.  “I swear he’s going to turn out a little genius just like you.  Straight A’s and all.”

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I rolled my eyes giving him a light poke in the chest for making fun of me.  Then I crossed the living room to where Gabriel, sure enough, was sitting at the chess table, poking at the pieces with a look of great concentration on his face.  I scooped him up into my arms and he giggled happily.

“Have you been playing chess all by yourself?” I asked him.  “Was Daddy playing with you?”

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Gabriel turned around and pointed at the discarded chess pieces, plainly not listening to a word I was saying.  He leaned away from me, trying to get back to playing with them, but I shook my head and pulled him back into my arms.

“Sorry, baby, but it’s bedtime now!  You can play with the chess pieces again tomorrow,” I promised him.  I expected him to cry, but Gabriel seemed fairly happy to be carried up to his crib and tucked in.  Perhaps he had realised how tired he really was.

“Goodnight, sweetie,” I said as I bent down to kiss his little head.  “See you tomorrow… I love you.”

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Then it was Luc’s turn to kiss Gabriel goodnight, while I retreated downstairs to finalise some reports I would be needing tomorrow.  Ash leapt onto the chair with me and curled up in my lap, purring softly.  I smiled.  It seemed like everything was finally working out for the better.  I had Luc, and I had Gabriel, and I had a promising job that I enjoyed – this was where I was meant to be, I was sure of it.

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Of course, that was before the afternoon a few weeks later, when I was forced to pull over on my way home from work to vomit my  guts out all over the footpath.

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I’ve been feeling like everything was a bit emotionally heavy lately, so I hope you guys enjoyed this little family-life interlude as much as I did.  We will return to your regular scheduled programming of dramatic events in the next chapter.  Happy events this time, though.  Poor Di and Luc deserve a break.

Chapter 3.4 – Rivals

“I’m sorry, Flynn, but enough is enough!”

The sadly familiar sounds of shouting from downstairs interrupted my morning study break barely five minutes in.  Sighing, I left my room and stumbled downstairs, searching for the source of the commotion.

“Mum, chill out,” my brother’s panicked voice drifted out from the entrance hall.  “I’ll do better, I promise!”

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Mum sighed.  She and Dad had always had a soft spot for Flynn.  “Honey, the school is ready to do something drastic.  You’ve known it could come to this for months now, and nothing’s happened!  You’re going to boarding school, and that’s final.  If the schools here couldn’t manage to discipline you, maybe the best schools in Sunset Valley will have a bit more luck.”

Flynn hung his head in defeat, and waited silently while Mum pulled out her phone.  I had always known that Flynn had no motivation when it came to school, and his grades had been seriously bad for several years now.  It looked like Mum and Dad were finally coming good on their promise to send him to military school if it ever got bad enough.

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While Mum talked on the phone with the directors at Fort Starch Military school, I turned and went silently back upstairs.  The shouting had stopped, at least.  And my baby brother would leaving for boarding school… tomorrow.

It took a few weeks after Flynn had left for the rest of the family to settle back into their normal routines.  Mum especially seemed to regret her decision at times, and it was always Dad or I who reassured her that everything was for the best.

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I still hadn’t spoken to Luc in the weeks since we had argued.  Occasionally we passed each other in the hallway at school, where his attendance had improved dramatically, but I ignored his smiles and apologetic looks alike.  As far as I was concerned, our brief friendship was over.  If he couldn’t trust me enough to tell me even the smallest of things, I couldn’t trust him with anything.

That was, until one afternoon when he managed to corner me at my locker.  I had stayed late at school to finish some work, and was just about to head home.  The halls were deserted; aside from a few teachers, I was convinced I was the last person left in the building.  As I snapped the metal door shut, however, I heard a familiar voice call my name.

“Di?”

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I turned my head towards Luc, who was standing against the lockers a few feet away and looking more sombre than I had ever seen him.  He made a move towards me, but I backed away.

“Di, please!”

“Leave me alone,” I hissed, angrily slapping away the cautious hand he had placed on my arm.  “I have nothing to say to you.”

“But I do!  Hear me out… please?”

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I ignored him, deliberately turning my back on him and walking away in the opposite direction.  Behind me, I heard him let out a small sigh.  That was the end of it, then.

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Or not.  Seconds later, footsteps – and then Luc was there, blocking my path again.

I let out a growl of frustration, and tried to sidestep him, but he moved to block me again.  “What the hell do you want?!” I almost yelled in his face.

“I want you to forgive me.  Di, I didn’t mean those things I said!  I’m sorry I said them!  Please, if you just hear me out, I promise I’ll leave you alone and never bother you again.”

My scowl only deepened, but the offer of never having to see him again was too tempting.  I consented to stay put.  Luc seemed to take that as a positive sign as he began to talk.

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“Look, I didn’t mean to say the things I said.  I know people say those things to you all the time, and it must be hard to hear it from someone who… well, someone who I hoped you might have come close to considering a friend.”

The accuracy with which he managed to pinpoint my feelings surprised me, and I softened my expression without even realising it.  Apparently encouraged, he went on.

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“I know I’m not the best at controlling my temper in difficult situations.  And I’m not the best at apologising either.  But I know I’ve really missed you these past few weeks.  All I can say is… I’m sorry.  And I… I hope you can forgive me.”

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I had missed him too – more, I realised now, than I had allowed myself to feel at the time.  But I wasn’t quite ready to forgive him – there were still some things I needed to sort out.

“You don’t trust me,”  I stated.  “How can we be friends again if you don’t trust me?”

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He looked genuinely surprised.  “What makes you think I don’t trust you?”

“Oh, please,” I scoffed.  “You won’t tell me anything.  ‘You’re too good’. ‘You wouldn’t understand’. ‘You’re not my mother’.”  Luc recoiled, as though his own words were causing him as much pain as they had caused me.  For a few moments he stood silent, his eyes downcast.

“It’s not that I don’t trust you,” he said at last.  “I do.  It’s just that… I’m not good at letting people in.  You’re not either, that’s why I thought you’d understand.  There are some things about my past that I’m just not ready to talk about.”  He paused.  “But I do trust you.  You’re my best friend, Di.  You have to believe that.”

He stared pleadingly at me, waiting for my response.  As much as I wanted to be friends again, I hesitated before answering.

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I did understand what he was trying to say… and I knew how he felt about opening up to other people because I often felt the same way.  I still wondered about the things he wouldn’t, or couldn’t tell me, but for now, I knew he was right.  If we were going to be friends, I had to trust him.

And I did.

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Without another word, I moved forward and wrapped my arms around his neck.  For a moment he stood still, frozen in surprise, but then his hands slid hesitantly around my waist and pulled me close.  Breathing in the warm, familiar smell of his hair and jacket, I wondered how I had let myself get so close to another person in such a short time.  But there was no denying it, even for me… here in his arms, I felt safer than anywhere else in the world.

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When we pulled apart, we were both smiling.  “So… does this mean we’re friends again?” Luc asked me with a grin.  I laughed, and nodded.  “Good,” he said, “’cause, um… I was wondering…” he looked very nervous all of a sudden, and I squeezed his hand to reassure him.

“What’s up?”

He took a deep breath and blinked a few times before continuing.  “Well, you probably know the prom’s coming up in a few months.  I was just wondering if you wanted to go together… you know…” he cleared his throat, “…as friends.”

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Wow.  I certainly hadn’t been expecting that.  I hadn’t even been planning on going to prom, and I assumed Luc hadn’t either.  But if I was going to go, I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d rather spend the evening with.  I smiled at him.  “Sounds good.”

Luc visibly relaxed.  “Cool!  Well, that’s… that’s settled, then.”

I nodded.  “Yep.  Listen, Luc, I’d love to stay and talk, but I have to go.  I’ll be late for work.”

He nodded his understanding.  “Sure thing.  See you later, Di.”

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When I got home after work, Patterns was waiting for me.  Even though he had been my best friend for as long as I could remember, I hadn’t seen him in a long time, especially since I had become a teenager and more or less grown out of ‘imaginary’ friends.  Seemed like today was the day for mending friendships.

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“Hey, Pat.”  I greeted him as I stepped into the kitchen.

“Diana!” His enthusiasm was unmistakable, a big grin spreading across his cloth-like face.  “It feels like we haven’t seen each other in forever.”

I nodded my agreement.  Patterns had been given to me as a doll when I was a very small child, but I had known something was special about him from the moment we laid eyes on each other.  He was my closest friend and most reliable companion growing up, and even now, though we rarely played together any more, it felt good to have him around.

When we had first ‘met’, I had been too young to have seen any scary movies or heard any stories about possessed dolls.  Even as I grew older and started to be exposed to them, Patterns never frightened me.  I knew I wasn’t crazy, but I never figured out what made him sentient… or why I was the only one in the family who could see him.  Either way, I was convinced that if he was possessed by anything, it was surely the friendly ghost of a child.  And he meant too much to me to ever give him up.

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Today was different, though.  Today, I wasn’t just too busy to play – we had more important things to do together.  Earlier that week, I had found a mysterious potion next to Dad’s workbench with a mysterious label… “Metamorphium Potion – Turning ? into Humans.”  It wasn’t too clear, but after reading the label carefully and researching the Metamorphium Potion, I was almost certain that it would work to turn Patterns into a real human.  Even on the off-chance that something did go wrong, it wasn’t like he could be killed – he was a doll, after all.  I was determined to give it a try, and now all that was left was to tell Patterns the good news.

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“Pat, listen.”  I grabbed him by the hand, and dragged him into a corner of the kitchen where we were less likely to be seen.  I still wasn’t sure how I was going to explain everything to my family if this plan worked, but I definitely didn’t want Dad to find out any sooner than he had to that I had stolen one of his experiments.  It sat lightly on my conscience, since it wasn’t like he had any use for it anyway, but I wasn’t sure that he would see it that way.  “I have something really important to tell you.”

“Really?” His blue eyes went wide.  “What is it?”

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I glanced quickly around the room to make sure no one else was in sight, then hastily retrieved the potion from its hiding place under the sink and handed it to Patterns.  He stared at the beaker in his hand for a few minutes, looking utterly nonplussed.  “What’s this?” he asked after a while.

I explained to him, as quickly as I could, how I had found the potion and what I thought it meant.

“So, you’re telling me,” he said slowly, his excitement building with every syllable, “that this… potion… will turn me into a real human?”

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“That’s the idea,” I grinned.  “How does that sound?”

“Amazing,” he breathed.  “I can’t believe… thank you so much, Diana.”

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“Not a problem,” I said happily.  “So… are you going to drink it, or what?”

He nodded eagerly, and lifted the potion to his lips.

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The moment the golden liquid entered his mouth, sparks of light began to dance around his face and body.  I held my breath as I watched him drain the contents, bubbles bursting from his open mouth, along with a cloud of thick purple smoke which swirled around his body and engulfed him within seconds.

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Instinctively, I squeezed my eyes shut and turned away to protect myself.  By the time the smoke had cleared and I felt it was safe to look up again, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  A young man stood before me where my beloved friend had been just moments before, dressed in a suit that matched his bright violet hair, and examining his own body as though he, too, couldn’t believe what had just happened.

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“… Pat?”  My hesitant call came out as a whisper.  The boy looked up shyly, and I noticed that his eyes were the same brilliant blue that they had been as a doll.  I grinned.  “Pat,” I said again, a little more surely now.  “Is that really you?”

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His smile was dazzling.  “I think so.”

“I can’t believe it…” I murmured.  “How do you feel?”

“Amazing.”  A wide grin spread across his face.  “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

I felt oddly like crying.  “Pat… I’m so glad…” I managed to choke out, before throwing myself into his arms.  He caught me easily, laughing, spun me around once before setting me back down on the floor.  I grinned and hugged him tightly.  My idea had worked – my oldest friend was finally human.

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In the end, things worked out a lot better than I had thought they would.  Hiding in my room only worked for Pat for a few days, before I had to come clean and tell my parents everything.  They were, understandably, shocked and a little upset, Dad especially since I had taken one of his potions and used it without asking, but overall they were surprisingly accepting of the whole situation.  They agreed to let Pat stay in the house with us indefinitely, sleeping in Flynn’s old room, until he and I were both adults and could decide what we wanted to do after that.  He had, after all, been my best friend for most of my life, even if they had only ever seen him in his stationery doll form.

Patterns, for his part, fell immediately in love with his new life.  He had always wanted to go to school, so we went together the next week, and he loved it, in spite of all the strange looks and some nasty comments he got about his suit and his hair.  The same afternoon, I introduced him to my small group of friends; Mandy he adored, so much so that I almost felt the need to remind him that she was already dating someone (my cousin, Ethan), but with Luc he was uncharacteristically cold and hostile – a feeling which, to my dismay, appeared to be mutual.  Some days I was almost glad when one or the other couldn’t make it to school, so I wouldn’t have to witness their constant squabbling all the time.

The end of the school year was fast approaching, and with it, our final exams as seniors.  In spite of Mandy’s protests, I had already begun studying seriously several months in advance.  As a new student, Pat was exempt from exams for this year, so ended up spending most of his time distractingly staring over my shoulder, or, as he called it, ‘keeping me company’.  One rare afternoon, however, he seemed to have decided to keep out of my way – with the result that I finished all the work I wanted to do within half the time it normally took, and decided to get myself a snack and a break as a reward.  I had just finished my snack, and was heading towards the television, when Pat came downstairs.

“Diana!” he called when he saw me.  I suppressed an impatient sigh with difficultly.

“Hey, Pat.  Listen, I was just about to-”

“There’s something I have to talk to you about,” he blurted out before I could finish.

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I raised my eyebrows, my curiosity piqued.  “Shoot,” I said, after a moment’s hesitation.  He twisted his hands nervously, avoiding my eyes, apparently in no hurry to begin.  “Is everything all right?” I asked him, concerned.

“Yeah… Yeah, everything’s fine,” he assured me.  Then he took a deep breath.  “I just wanted to tell you I’ve really been enjoying school these past few months we’ve been going together.  I’ve learned so much!  And there’s this ‘prom’ thing coming up soon and I heard we were supposed to take a girl, so I was wondering if you might, um, maybe want to come… with me…” he trailed off, looking at me hopefully, and my heart sank.

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“Look, Pat, it’s really nice of you to ask, but…” I bit my lip nervously, not wanting to hurt his feelings, but knowing I had no choice.  “I kind of already said I’d go with Luc.”

“Oh.”

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He was obviously trying to hide his disappointment, for my sake, but I could tell that he was pretty crushed.  It was no secret that he and Luc didn’t get along, and I suddenly had the odd feeling that I was stuck in between two love rivals.  I looked away from Pat, hating to see the hurt on his face, but unable to think of anything that could make it better.  After a long and awkward pause (at least, that was how it felt to me), he spoke again.

“Well, it’s fine, right?” his voice sounded oddly small, and my heart twisted with guilt.  This was my fault.  “It’s not like we won’t see each other… we can still spend time together on the night.”

“Definitely,” I agreed eagerly.  Even though I knew it was silly, I couldn’t shake the guilt I was feeling, as if Pat had just confessed his love to me and I’d had to turn him down.  I mentally shook myself.  This situation was nothing like that – Luc and I were just going as friends, and that was all Pat had in mind as well.  I shouldn’t be making such a big deal out of this.  And yet…

Pat smiled at me reassuringly.  “It’s okay, Diana,” he said.  “I understand.  Don’t worry about it.”

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I tried to smile back, but my muscles wouldn’t quite cooperate.  “I’m sorry, Pat,” was all I could manage to say.

“It’s fine,” he said again.  “It’s not your fault.  I was just too late, that’s all.”  He turned and went silently back upstairs, without so much as a backwards glance.  I was left standing awkwardly in the middle of the living room, turning over his last sentence in my head… I was just too late, that’s all… and wondering, for the first time in the months I had known Luc and Pat together, if there was possibly something more to this than just a silly high school prom.

Chapter 3.1 – Little Miss Perfect

Starlight Shores.

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Supposedly the second-biggest celebrity hotspot in the country, after Bridgeport.

Our family moved here years ago, when I was still a child.  I think it was mostly for Mum’s benefit – she had always loved fishing outdoors, and honestly there weren’t a lot of great fishing spots in Bridgeport.  Starlight Shores, on the other hand, was full of open lakes and beaches, but I wouldn’t really call it a quiet town.  It was a real hotspot for anyone looking to make it to the big time in performance, like my grandma – Mum told me she was a famous singer.  I was pretty young when she died so I didn’t remember her very well, but I imagined she would have loved it here.

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Soon after we moved, our cousins and their families followed.  Apparently all of my aunts and uncles were convinced, like Mum and Dad, that Starlight Shores would be a perfect place to raise their children.  I was pretty happy about it, personally.  At least this way, the whole family could stay together.

In spite of my environment, I had never had much interest in becoming a celebrity – at least not in the typical sense of the word.  Since I was little, everyone around me – my parents, my friends, my teachers – had told me that I was a genius.  With your brains, they said, you could do anything.  Now that I was in high school, I seemed to be one of the few people my age who actually knew what they wanted to do with their future.  After I graduated, I was going to get a degree in communications at the best university I could get to, and when I came home I’d begin my career in politics.  That was the plan, anyway, and I had been working towards it for as long as I could remember.

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I had always been a bit different from my siblings.  If it comes to that, we were all pretty different from each other.  My sister Emily was two years younger than I am, but beneath all the make-up she wore, we were pretty much identical in looks.  To call her a ‘troublemaker’ would be putting it lightly, though I guess some would say she was just a typical rebellious teen.

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Emily didn’t do as well as I did in school, but I had to admit she was a pretty damn good mechanic.

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A skill like that, coupled with a delight for chaos and mischief, and it’s no wonder she was grounded eighty percent of the time.

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Not that a simple grounding ever stopped Emily.  I was the only one in the family who knew that she snuck out every other night.  I had my suspicions about what she, in all her underaged glory, got up to on those nights, but I would never tell Mum and Dad – they worried about her enough as it was.  As long as she wasn’t doing anything too illegal, it wasn’t really any of my business.

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Our little brother, Flynn, had always been our parents’ favourite.  All three of us knew it, but I don’t know if Mum and Dad realised it.  He wasn’t bad as far as brothers go, and he certainly never annoyed me the way Emily did.  He spent most of his time sitting in front of the television instead, like the little couch potato he was.

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When he wasn’t glued to the couch, he was sitting at the breakfast bar scoffing any leftovers he could find in the fridge.  We all thought it was a miracle that he was still as thin as he was.

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Like Emily, Flynn wasn’t too motivated in school.  It wasn’t that he was struggling, exactly – he was just too lazy to put in the work.  His teachers always said the same things… “he’s a smart boy”, “he could do so well if he tried”.  My brother was a smart kid, but unlike Emily, who used it for mischief, and I, who put my intelligence into academic success, Flynn just didn’t bother using his brain at all.

Then there were our parents.

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Mum had grown up in Bridgeport, and met Dad there when they were both teenagers.  They got married, and my siblings and I were all born in Bridgeport before we moved here.

Mum was passionate about fishing, and had been a self-employed angler ever since she graduated high school.  She seemed really happy in Starlight Shores, where there are lakes and beaches everywhere.  Dad, meanwhile, had apparently always dreamed of becoming a world-famous chef.  Back in Bridgeport, he had a pretty high-ranking job at the local bistro, but now that we lived in Starlight Shores he was working as a sous-chef at a fancy restaurant in town.

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Lately, Dad had also got really into practical science.  When we moved to Starlight Shores, he had splurged on a full chemistry setup in the basement, where he now spent hours after work with his textbooks and chemicals, trying to discover new ‘potions’.  So far, all he had really managed to make was a bottle of what he triumphantly named ‘stink-juice’ – much to Emily’s mischievous delight.

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One evening, while Emily misused Dad’s inventions and Flynn blasted the TV on full volume, I stayed holed up in my room, trying to study but unable to hear myself think.

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I was about to get up and go yell at both of my siblings to be quiet, when my door opened of its own accord and my sister slipped into the room behind me.  Deciding to ignore her in the hope that she would leave, I sighed and determinedly returned to my work.

“Hey, Di.”  So much for her leaving.  I scowled and didn’t reply.

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“Di?” Shut up and go away, I willed her in my head.  Can’t you see I’m trying to study?  However, as always, Emily either didn’t pick up on my not-so-subtle hints or simply ignored them.

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“Di!  Oi, Diana!  Can you hear me?”  Impatiently, she snatched the pen from my hand and tapped me sharply on the head with it.  “Hey!”

“Hey, yourself!” I snapped at her.  “Can’t you see I’m trying to work?!”

“Yeah,” she grinned.  “But I wanted to talk to you.”

I knew that she wouldn’t leave me alone until I agreed to listen to whatever she had in mind.  Grudgingly, I slid out of my chair and stood up to face her with my arms folded firmly.

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“What is it?”

“Okay, so I just thought of this really cool idea-”

“Wait a second,” I interrupted her.  “Is this some kind of evil plan you need my help with?  ‘Cause you know that’s not going to happen.”

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“But Diiii…” she whined.

“No.”

“But I really, really can’t do this without you!  You can trust me, it’s going to be soooo much fun.”

“No, Emily.”  I felt a little bad for turning her down so quickly, until I reminded myself that what she was planning was almost certainly harmful and probably not very legal.  “You know how I feel about that kind of stuff.”

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“Yeah, yeah,” she rolled her eyes.  “But this time’s different, I swear.”

“Yeah, right.  That’s what you said the last time.  Just leave me alone about it, okay?  I don’t want anything to do with your damn suicide missions!”

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Her pleading look twisted into a scowl, and she jabbed an accusing finger at me.

“Yeah, you wouldn’t want to risk damaging your squeaky clean reputation, would you?  You need to get out sometimes, Di, and fucking live a little!”

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“Hey, that’s not fair!” I retorted.  “Just because I don’t have to have the cops on my tail all the time to get any fun out of life like you-”

“Yeah, you’d rather suck up to everyone and be Little Miss Perfect, right?”

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“Well, I’d rather be a suck-up than a criminal!”

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“Then I guess that’s where we differ.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” I spat back through clenched teeth.

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Emily scowled at me, and I turned away from her contemptuously.  “Just get the hell out of my room.”

“Fine.”

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After my spat with Emily, I went to bed seething.  Tempers were still high the next morning, when I crept downstairs an hour before the bus was due to get ahead on some work before school.

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I was surprised to see my sister already seated at the breakfast bar with a bowl of cereal in front of her.  She seemed to have decided to ignore me, however, which I was all too grateful for as I sat down at the computer to do my work.

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By the time eight o’clock rolled around, I was on the footpath outside and making my way towards the bus before either of my siblings had even left the house.  This was pretty normal – Emily and Flynn were only ever on time for things when they wanted to be there.  And that definitely didn’t apply to school.

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Besides being the first out the door in the morning, I was almost always the last home of the three of us.  With Mum and Dad both working high-paying jobs, money had never been much of an issue for our family.  I didn’t work part-time for the money.  I wanted to teach myself responsibility and new skills, and on top of that, I’d heard that having work experience as a student provided a significant advantage when entering university.  Within a few weeks of my sixteenth birthday, I had secured a job at the local grocery store, where I had been working now for over a year.

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My job mainly consisted of checking stock and helping customers.  Sometimes I took over the register, but I was interrupted so often that I soon moved exclusively to sales and another girl was hired to work at check-out.

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The manager of the store, and my boss, was a woman named Belli.  She was generally kind to me and the other employees, although she had been quite strict at first.  Eventually, once she realised that I could be trusted, she eased up a little, and now the two of us got along so well I would almost have considered her a friend.

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“Hey, Diana!  Your shift’s over, you can go home now, hun!”

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“Thanks, Belli!” I called back.  “See you tomorrow, then!”

I didn’t bother to change out of my uniform before leaving the store through the back employees-only exit.  I passed one of my coworkers in the storeroom on my way out, who bade me a cheerful goodbye as I left.

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The grocery store was only a few blocks away from my house, so it took me only a few minutes to walk home.  As I made my way up the front path, I could hear muffled shouting coming from inside, and sighed.  Sounded like Emily and Dad were arguing… again.

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“… completely unacceptable!” I heard Dad yelling as I paused on the other side of the door, wondering whether it was safe to go inside.  “You’re never going to get anywhere in life if you keep doing this, Emily!”

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“Geez, Dad, chill out!  It’s just one bad grade, it’s not the end of the world!”

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“It wouldn’t be this much of a problem if it was ‘just one bad grade’,” Dad cried angrily.  “You’re failing all of your classes, Emily!  You can’t keep doing this!  Your mother and I will not put up with it, do you hear me?  You had better start putting some effort into your education, young lady, or we’ll be shipping you off to boarding school within the month!”

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Emily fell into a sulky silence, and I picked the moment to get into the house and safely upstairs as quickly as possible.  I could feel my sister’s glare on the back of my head as I walked past, but I ignored her.  I had enough to deal with as it was, and no desire whatsoever to involve myself in Emily’s mess as well.

With or without her help, my life was about to get a whole lot more complicated.

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As you’ve obviously realised by now, I decided to move the family to a different town at the start of the new generation – partly because Bridgeport was getting unplayably laggy, on top of having a reputation for bad performance, but also just because I prefer the aesthetic of Starlight Shores overall.  In hindsight, considering Nicole’s LTW, I probably should have started the legacy here to begin with.  Ah, well… makes it more interesting, right?

Anyway, since we have a large timeskip and a new house separating this generation from the last, allow me to leave you with a bunch of bonus pictures to apologise for the lateness of this update.

First, a check-in on the extended family (who did indeed move to the new town pretty much just so that they could stay in the story).  Aidan’s, Bridie’s, Cody’s and Tyler’s families all settled down in modest houses around Starlight Shores.

Aidan and Violet are both adults.  Their eldest daughter, Iris, is now a young adult, and both of her siblings Terrance and Jamie were teens when they first moved in, although I believe both are now young adults in-game.  The family also has a couple of story-progression-induced dogs.

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Bridie (adult) and her son Alfonso moved in together with their plethora of dogs.  Alfonso has recently become a teen in-game.

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I don’t know what it is with this family and dogs, but Cody and Vivien have had their fair share as well.  Here they are pictured with their son Ethan, who has since grown into the cutest (and I mean that in an ‘aww look at the widdle puppy dog’ kind of way) sim teen I have ever had.  He now has a much younger brother (currently a toddler) named Ron.  Cody is also an adult now, and seems to have inherited his father’s receding hairline.

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And finally, Tyler and Herbert, with their young offspring.  The eldest (in the yellow shirt) is Carolina, followed by Chana (the toddler) and Charlie (the baby on the right) who is, by the way, a boy.  As you can see, this family is also drowning in dogs.

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And now to the main house.

Similarly to the house back in Bridgeport, most of the lower floor is an open-plan kitchen-living-dining area, as well as a bathroom and laundry off to the side.

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Dining room:

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Kitchen:

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Entrance Hall:

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Living Area:

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TV Area:

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Whole room, from the TV perspective:

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Below is the party room, small and classy, for hosting events and house parties indoors:

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Downstairs Bathroom:

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Laundry:

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The back garden consists of a hot tub, barbecue area, and large pool with recliners.

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The front garden is mostly plants, with a clothesline set up just outside the laundry door.

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Street view of the house:

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Aerial overview of the property:

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Second floor plan:

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The second floor is mostly bedrooms leading off the upstairs hallway (pictured below) with an extra bathroom.

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Flynn’s Room:


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Nursery:

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Diana’s Room:

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Emily’s Room:

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Bianca and James’ Room:

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Bianca and James’ Ensuite Bathroom:

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And that’s it!  Stay tuned for the next chapter, which should (hopefully) be out by next week 🙂

Generation Two Family Overview

And here’s the Generation Two family overview.  I decided to include Tyler in this since, although she isn’t related to Bianca by blood and wasn’t in the family by the end of the generation, she was part of the household for a long time and was a major character in Bianca’s gen.


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Bianca Hunter

Traits:
Angler
Dog Person
Easily Impressed
Hopeless Romantic
Loves the Outdoors

LTW:  Presenting the Perfect Private Aquarium (Have at least 13 different species of perfect fish in fishbowls)

 

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James Hunter (né Vistden)

Traits:
Brave
Bookworm
Natural Cook
Cat Person
Charismatic

LTW:  Celebrated Five-Star Chef (Reach level 10 of the Culinary career track)

Screenshot-159Tyler Striker (née Vistden)

Traits:
Cat Person
Family-Oriented
Friendly
Genius
Good Sense of Humour

LTW:  Super Popular (Be Friends with 20 Sims)

 

Screenshot-31_miniDiana Hunter

Traits:
Workaholic
Genius
Loves the Heat

LTW:  ???

 

 

Screenshot-35_miniEmily Hunter

Traits:
Excitable
Artistic
Evil

LTW:  ???

 

 

Screenshot-32_miniFlynn Hunter

Traits:
Brave
Couch Potato
Good

LTW:  ???