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 🙂

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 4.1C – The Artist (Gabriel Hunter)

“The only time I feel alive is when I’m painting.”

That was a quote by Vincent Van Gogh. A little cliche, maybe, but in my case nothing came closer to the truth. The feelings that I experienced while I painted were second to none, except perhaps for those I experienced immediately after I finished. I couldn’t imagine any feeling in the world more amazing than that of seeing something beautiful, and knowing that I had created it.

Mum often said that I was born with a paintbrush in my hand. Dad often quipped in return that he was there, and I definitely hadn’t been, but it would have been much more uncomfortable for Mum if I had.

I had, however, been painting since I was a small child, ever since I could hold a brush, and I honestly didn’t remember a time even before then when I didn’t love to look at beautiful artworks and dream of creating something like that myself someday. I used to paint in my bedroom at our old house, but when that got too messy my parents made me move my easel down to the basement. When the house was rebuilt into the one we live in now, they allowed me to paint in my room again, but insisted on installing a waterproof curtain between my easel and my bed to limit collateral damage, so that my room was divided into a sleeping area and a makeshift art studio.

The other side of the room was clean enough, since I hardly ever used it except to sleep, but the area around my easel was littered with papers, canvases, brushes, paints and art materials. I knew that it drove my neat-freak of a brother crazy, but I was only a perfectionist when it came to my work. I didn’t have time to keep things tidy when the muse was calling, and she called often enough to keep the room in a state of constant disarray.

This mythical muse of mine was the only woman who had ever held a place in my heart. I had little interest in girls, the way my brother did, but they seemed determined to follow me wherever I went regardless. It was annoying, frankly, though I knew Hugo resented me for it, and probably thought that I should be more grateful for the attention.

But I simply didn’t really feel any kind of need or desire for a girlfriend at that point in time. And I know how that sounds, but I wasn’t asexual. Girls could still make me… feel things. Emotionally, and, uh, physically. Romance and sex just weren’t priorities. And the whole flirting thing had never made much sense to me, anyway, so I wouldn’t have known where to start even if I’d wanted to.

School was the only place I really had much human interaction, and was therefore the source of the majority of the female attention I received. At this point I had spent a good three years taking classes with the same people, during which time I had systematically rejected every girl in my own grade who showed interest in me. The after-school Art Club, however, which was open to everyone in the school, was another matter entirely.

I had been a part of the club since I was a freshman, and in the intervening years had built up good relationships with the teacher and some of the older members. This year, we had welcomed four new members, three girls and one guy. One of the girls had already asked me out and been politely turned down, but the second had never spoken a word to me of her own volition – apparently, she was either painfully shy or totally uninterested in me, which did happen sometimes and was rather a relief when it did.

The third was friendly towards me, but had shown no romantic interest thus far, which I was grateful for because I wasn’t romantically interested in her either. Her name was Adelaide, and by objective standards she was pretty gorgeous. I didn’t doubt that she received a ton of attention from other guys on a regular basis. Perhaps she got a little sick of it as well. The thought that we might have something in common – or two things, if you counted her apparent interest in art – was enough for me to feel comfortable being friendly with her in return.

Today, Adelaide had set up her easel next to mine, and was painting what appeared to be a house, though it was difficult to tell. She glanced over at my work, and sighed.

“I’ll never be as good as you,” she moaned, dropping her paintbrush into the tray underneath her canvas with a loud clatter and scowling at her half-finished painting.

“Don’t say that,” I said, trying to sound reassuring as I lowered my own brush and palette to speak to her. “Things like this just take practice. It doesn’t mean you’ll never get there. Maybe you just need a few pointers in the right direction.”

She brightened at my suggestion. “Do you think you could give them to me?”

“Oh, um, sure, I guess,” I faltered. I was flattered that she considered me up to the task of instructing her, but wasn’t quite sure where to start in this case. I checked my watch, and realised it was almost time for the class to end. I didn’t want to disappoint her, but we didn’t have time for a private lesson right now, and she seemed like she really needed my help. Hoping I wouldn’t regret it later, I made a quick decision. “Do you want to come over to my place after this? I could show you some of my other work, maybe give you some ideas. You need to develop your style on your own, but maybe observing someone else’s practice could help inspire you.”

She was practically glowing as I made the offer. “That sounds like a great idea.”

When we arrived at my house later that evening, I led her upstairs to my room where all my painting materials were located. I could hear one of my siblings in the shower, but otherwise the house was fairly quiet. When we entered my room, I showed her to the easel, where my latest work in progress was sitting.

“This is something I’ve been working on,” I explained. As I stared at the barely-begun painting, I could feel the muse that had inspired it calling out to me again. I picked up my discarded brush and palette, deciding a demonstration wouldn’t be a bad idea, and continued to paint while I talked. “It’s supposed to be a mountain scene, but it might not turn out in the end exactly how I’m imagining it now. Sometimes, when you paint, you have to let it come to you one bit at a time. And if you screw something up, that’s okay too. You can always paint over it, or you can let it become part of the painting.”

Last I checked, Adelaide had been standing several feet behind me and watching with interest. I stumbled and almost dropped my brush when I felt her pressing up against my back from behind. As I grabbed at it to stop its fall, the head of the brush streaked over the canvas, leaving a long, yellow stripe in its wake.

“Uh… like that,” I muttered, doing my best to ignore her too-close proximity and continue with what I was saying. “So, um, you see… now I have a choice as to what I want to do with that mistake. I could make it look like it was there all along, or I could cover it up.”

“I definitely don’t think you need to cover up,” she murmured in my ear.

I could feel my face start to burn, so I dropped my palette and turned to face her, determined to say something before she got the wrong idea. Adelaide gazed steadily into my eyes, smiling coyly. She was very beautiful. But I wasn’t interested.

But before I could say anything, she had pressed forward, her arms went around me, and her lips were against mine. I was too shocked to do anything at first, but I caught a flash of movement over her shoulder. I glanced over to see my brother standing in the doorway, glaring at me as though his best friend had stabbed him, and I had supplied the knife. Shit.

I angrily pushed Adelaide away from me, but Hugo had already left, slamming the door behind him. As much as I wanted to go after him and explain, I could talk to Hugo later. I had to deal with Adelaide first.

I turned towards her, fuming. She blanched when she saw my expression, and tears sprang to her eyes. She quickly dropped her gaze to hide them. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

“You think?” I snapped. “Did you know that my brother was there?”

“Your brother?”

“Hugo. I think he’s in your grade.”

Her eyes widened. “Hugo? Oh, shit.”

I glared at her. “My sentiments exactly.”

The tears started to drip down her cheeks. “I’m sorry, Gabriel. I didn’t mean to cause problems. I just really like you, and when you invited me back here I thought… I thought that…” she trailed off, gazing at me imploringly. “Please don’t hate me,” she whispered.

Damn it. If I had one weakness when it came to women, it was tears. There was no way I could bring myself to be angry when she was crying like that. I sighed, and scratched the back of my neck awkwardly. “I don’t hate you, Adelaide. But I need to talk with my brother. I think you should leave.”

She nodded, still teary-eyed, and turned to go. I saw her out of the house before returning upstairs to search for Hugo. His bedroom door was closed. I knocked loudly. “Hugo?” I called. “Open up. I need to talk to you.”

There was no answer.

I sighed. What a mess.


This chapter is the third in a series of three opening chapters for Generation 4, told from the perspectives of each of the three heirs. If you somehow missed the first two, you can find Hope’s chapter here and Hugo’s here. Now that all three have been released, the heir vote will be up tomorrow! Look forward to more information about the voting process then, as well as heatshots of all three heirs as young adults, biographies, traits and Lifetime Wishes.

Chapter 4.1B – The Athlete (Hugo Hunter)

For as long as I could remember, I’d had the same dream.

Other kids went through phases – one day they wanted to be a policeman, the next a fireman, then a surgeon, or a vet, or a rock star. I’d only ever wanted one thing: someday, I was going to play football for the Starlight Gnomes, the best football team of all time.

I’d been obsessed with the Gnomes since the first time my dad took me to one of their games. I was four years old at the time. When I was a kid, my favourite book was Rise of the Gnomes: The Incredible Story of the Starlight Gnomes’ Journey to Victory. Mum had a pretty hectic work life even then, so my Granddad used to read it to me every single night until the day he died.

Becoming a football star doesn’t just happen overnight; it takes hard work and dedication. Over the years, I had saved up enough allowance money to buy a treadmill and a pull-up bar for my room, and now I worked out whenever I had the chance. The previous year, when I’d started high school, I’d made it onto the football team on my first try. It was the first step in my ten-year plan for achieving my dream.

You would think that being a jock in peak physical condition would have attracted more female attention in high school. Not that it was my ultimate goal or anything (which couldn’t be said for some of my teammates) but honestly, it felt really good when girls noticed me.

So, I’m a straight, teenage guy. Sue me.

Unfortunately, being on the football team wasn’t as much of a babe magnet as the movies would have you believe. Turns out most girls were more interested in brooding artists who hadn’t the slightest interest in dating them. Enter Gabe, my very own big brother.

Every girl I’d ever had a crush on wanted him instead, and he didn’t even have to try. All he had to do was flip his hair and look mysterious, and they fell all over him. Every damn time. I was hoping today would be different, not that I had any real indication that it would be, because today was the day that I had resolved to ask out the girl of my dreams.

Her name was Adelaide, and she was beautiful.

Her seat was across the aisle and two rows ahead of mine in my afternoon Ancient History class, and I’d had a hard time concentrating on anything else all lesson. Ordinarily, my grades weren’t bad, but all I could think about when she was around was her. The way she looked, the way she smelled, the way she sounded when she laughed. Man, she was gorgeous. Like anyone could think about how beautiful Cleopatra supposedly was when her twenty-first century counterpart was sitting right before their eyes. I would start a war for you, Adelaide. Just give me the chance to prove it.

I was jolted out of my daydreaming by the piercing sound of the lunch bell, and I quickly glanced around to see if anyone had noticed the sappy look on my face. Luckily, nobody was looking at me – my classmates were all too busy packing away their things and heading out to lunch. I turned to check on Adelaide, but she had already left the room. Heart pounding, I stuffed my books into my bag and followed her.

I found her in the hallway just outside the classroom, chatting with her best friend, Stephanie. Great – another roadblock to contend with. I didn’t much mind Stephanie as a person, but right now her presence was the last thing I needed. Not only had I had to work up the courage to ask Adelaide out, but now I had to politely ask her friend to clear off while I did it.

I took a couple of deep breaths and cracked my knuckles to psych myself up, the way I usually did before a big football match. You’ve got this, Hugo. Just go right in and sweep her off her feet. Remember, confidence is sexy. Maybe, but I sure wasn’t feeling very confident at the moment.

I ran a hand nervously through my already-messy hair and forced my legs to carry me in her direction. Adelaide greeted me with a radiant smile as I approached, and I felt my legs turn to jelly. I focused my attention on Stephanie instead, hoping neither of them could see how badly my knees were shaking.

“Hey, Stephanie. Um… I’d like to talk to Adelaide alone for a minute, if that’s okay?”

Stephanie turned to me. “Sure thing… Hugo, right?” I nodded, and she grinned. “I’ll see you later, then, Addie.” She turned and walked away, throwing a wink and a knowing glance at her friend as she left. I could feel myself starting to blush, thinking that Stephanie could probably tell exactly what was going on. Could this situation get any more nerve-wracking?

“Hi, Hugo,” Adelaide said shyly, playing with her hair as she gazed up at me. My heart rate kicked up another notch. Yep, apparently it could.

“Hey,” I said breathlessly. The longer I waited to ask her, the more nervous I got. I decided to cut to the chase before I chickened out completely. “So, um, here’s the thing. I’ve really… I’ve liked you for a while now, and I- I think you’re really beautiful, and I was wondering if you’d like to go out sometime? Maybe? With me?” I mentally slapped myself. For God’s sake, pull yourself together, Hugo! Was I asking her out or wasn’t I? I took a deep breath. “I mean, I’d really like to take you out to dinner next Saturday, if you’re up for it,” I amended, trying and failing to look her in the eye as I said it.

Adelaide was silent for several seconds, and my heart sank. Her gaze was downcast, as though she was afraid to look me in the eye. “I’m really sorry, Hugo,” she said at last.

Shit.

Why? I wanted to ask. Why am I not good enough? But that would have made me sound like an entitled douche, not to mention desperate, so I said nothing.

As though she had read my mind, however, she added, “It’s not you. It… I kind of already like someone else.”

Double shit. That meant I had no chance. I wanted to ask who it was, so I knew who to direct my jealousy and resentment towards, but I knew that was none of my business. Instead, I shrugged and forced a grin. “Lucky guy,” I said, and she smiled.

“Thanks, Hugo. And again, I really am sorry. I want you to know I think you’re a great guy, and I’m really flattered.”

Ordinarily I might have been elated by such a compliment coming from Adelaide, but under the circumstances I could only nod mutely, before turning and walking stiffly away, suddenly eager to put as much distance between us as possible.

The rest of the day seemed to last an eternity. When the last class finally ended, I packed up my things and went straight home. I didn’t think I’d be able to make it through football practice today, not with all my teammates there. I knew I’d be torturing myself the whole time wondering if the lucky bastard who Adelaide was hung up on was among them.

Still, I would have welcomed the diversion. The burn of a good, solid workout always helped to distract me from whatever was going on inside my head. And I always pushed myself hardest on days like today, when my thoughts were so loud and painful that I felt like they were going to suffocate me.

I ran for a good hour on the treadmill in my room, then switched to the wall bar and did six consecutive sets of pull-ups. By the time I had finished, it was dark outside. My arms were aching from overexertion and my heart was thudding in my chest, but I was feeling a lot better nonetheless.

I grabbed some clean shorts and headed to the bathroom for a much-needed shower. The hot water, while not as effective as the workout had been at alleviating my emotional turmoil, still felt soothing on my sore muscles. I decided I would just finish my shower, do some homework, and turn in early for the night. Some sleep would probably do me good.

I was heading back to my room when I noticed Gabe’s door was ajar. I figured I could stop by for a cursory “hey” before I went to bed. I pushed open the door-

-and stopped in my tracks.

He was not alone, as I had expected – instead I found my older brother tightly wrapped in the arms of a girl, their bodies and mouths pressed firmly against one another. Ordinarily, I would have been surprised and maybe a little embarrassed, but this wasn’t just any girl. This was…

… Adelaide.

My heart constricted painfully when I recognised her, and I momentarily forgot how to breathe. But they didn’t even notice me. I slammed the door and, with the sting of anger and betrayal coursing through my veins, made a beeline for the rec room downstairs, where Dad’s athletic equipment was set up. I couldn’t go back to my room now. And I was going to have to work out all damn night to get this one out of my system.


This chapter is the second in a series of three opening chapters for Generation 4, told from the perspectives of each of the three heirs. Gabriel’s chapter will be released tomorrow. If you somehow missed Hope’s chapter, which came out yesterday, you can read it here.

By the way, you may have noticed that I changed the theme of the blog and parts of the layout. The main reason for this was readability: the new font, smaller text and longer lines should make chapters easier to read, and also, thanks to the new theme, images now appear about twice as big as they used to!

Additionally, the Chapters Index has been given a makeover recently. If you’re interested, go check it out!

Chapter 3.20 – The Beginning

Last chapter! I can’t believe we’re about to finish Diana’s story, it’s been so long in the making. After this I’ll start working on the three POV chapters for each of the kids, and I’ll release them over the course of the week, so hopefully the heir vote will be ready by next Saturday. Let me know if you think that’s a bit overkill to release them all within a week, because honestly I’m not sure and I’m worried about it being a bit overwhelming, although the plan is they’ll be shorter than regular chapters. But for now, enjoy!


– FIVE YEARS LATER –

“Pancakes for you, Madam Mayor.”

I rolled my eyes at my husband as he slid a plate of freshly-made pancakes onto the counter in front of me, torn between disapproval and amusement at his antics. “I’m not the mayor yet,” I reminded him.

“But you will be in three hours,” Luc countered, grinning as he slid into a seat at the breakfast bar beside me.

“Yeah…” I swallowed the lump in my throat and picked at my pancakes, hoping to replace the butterflies in my stomach with something more solid.

Noticing my unease, his smile faded. “You okay?”

I nodded. “I think so. I’m just a little nervous. I feel like this has been building for so long, and I really don’t want to mess it up.” I bit my lip, memories of my previous political blunders drifting to the forefront of my mind. I knew firsthand how vicious the press could be, and how easily they could turn public opinion and destroy my career and credibility. The higher I climbed, the farther I had to fall.

But there had been a time when I had thought I would never even make it onto local council, and yet here I was. I couldn’t let the what ifs get to me. If there was one thing being with Luc had taught me, it was that I couldn’t control everything that went on around me, no matter how much I wanted to. I could only do my best, and if the world decided to implode tomorrow, well, that was the world’s decision.

“I’m okay,” I said confidently, managing a smile. “I’ve worked hard. I deserve this, and I plan to prove it to them.”

Luc nodded. “That’s my girl.” He watched me with a mixture of love, admiration, and pride, and I felt my heart swell under his gaze. Luc always made me feel strong, like I could do anything. Unbreakable. Unstoppable.

The tender moment dissolved when two teenagers entered the room. My eyes widened when I noticed Gabriel, who had apparently ignored the buttoned shirt and dress pants I had left on his bed. He wasn’t planning on wearing a singlet and jeans to the ceremony, was he?

I started to get up, hoping to convince him to change, but Luc put a hand on my thigh to stop me. “You eat,” I said. “I’ll talk to Gabe.” I smiled gratefully and went back to my pancakes, while Luc got up to talk some sense into our eldest.

Hope had entered the room behind her brother, and was now at the stove helping herself to leftover pancakes. Her outfit, while not as bad as Gabriel’s, was not quite what I’d envisioned either. “Is that what you’re wearing to the ceremony?” I asked her, in what I hoped was a friendly, casual tone.

She turned, caught my eye and giggled. I must have looked as worried as I felt. “Don’t worry, mum,” she said. “I’m going to change in a minute. I just put this on to give Ash a bath before we leave.”

The cat in question meowed loudly at the mention of her name. She walked over to Hope and rubbed up against her outstretched hand, purring contentedly. Ash was getting on in years, and while she had grown up under Luc’s care, she had since formed a very close bond with his daughter.

Even so, I wasn’t too sure that now was the best time to be bathing pets when we needed to be at City Hall in just over an hour. But Hope was fiercly passionate about caring for the animal and would have considered it a personal affront if I had suggested she postpone it for even a few hours. Still, my worries were not baseless. My daughter was never very punctual at the best of times. “Try to be quick,” I advised her, nodding at the clock on the wall. “We don’t have much time.”

Hope frowned, but didn’t reply. She scooped Ash into her arms and gently stroked the cat’s ears. “We’re going to get you nice and clean, okay?” she murmured. “Don’t worry, we’ll be done before you know it.”

As she brushed past my on her way to the bathroom, I couldn’t tell whether her final remark was directed at me or the hydrophobic cat.

Twenty minutes later, she still hadn’t emerged. I was trying to be understanding, but I was getting more anxious the closer we got to the ceremony. Besides, knowing Hope, it was likely she had lost track of the time. I knocked loudly on the bathroom door. When there was no reply, I opened it and found Hope, with her long hair clipped on top of her head to keep it dry, still bathing the cat.

“We have to leave in ten minutes,” I told her – somewhat testily, I’ll admit. I was anxious and impatient and she should have been ready to leave by now. She hadn’t even gotten changed as she’d promised.

“I’m almost done,” she snapped. Her quick temper was always at its quickest when it came to the animals she loved. “It takes time to do it properly.”

“We don’t have time, Hope!” I cried in exasperation. “You need to be out the door in ten minutes. Hurry up!” I tapped my foot until Hope, huffing angrily, pulled the plug out to drain the bath, then I left to check the progress of her brothers. One would think that a seventeen-year-old and two fifteen-year-olds should be able to get ready for an important event on time without me having to be on their backs constantly.

When we all finally – finally! – made it to the Town Hall half an hour later, the rest of the family left to sit in the audience while I took a different door which led to the stage. I was to be seated there until the point in the procedings when the current mayor would officially pass his title on to me.

As Mayor Mills gave his final address, I sat as straight and as still as I could in my chair, with an expression of polite interest affixed to my face. I was acutely aware of all the camera lenses pointed at me from the back of the room where the reporters and journalists were gathered – so much so that I was barely listening to a single word being spoken.

“… your newly elected mayor, Diana Hunter!”

I jumped a little – hopefully imperceptibly – at the sound of my own name. Knowing that I was expected to speak, I rose from my chair as gracefully as I could manage and walked calmly towards the lectern. Mayor Mills stopped me with a hand on my arm before I stepped onto the platform, but still within microphone range so the audience would hear what he was saying. “Congratulations, Ms. Hunter,” he said, and his genuineness showed in the warm smile he offered me. “I wish you the best of luck in office.”

“Thank you, Your Honour.”

As my predecessor, Mayor Mills was the one to swear me in as the new mayor of Starlight Shores. As I repeated the oath, I took a moment to reflect on the enormous responsibilty that was being placed on my shoulders. My career would never be only about me. I was now a servant to the people, and I did not intend to disappoint them.

When I had completed the oath, Mayor Mills congratulated me for the second time and then returned to his seat, while I stepped up to the podium to speak.

As I delivered my prepared inauguration speech, I scanned the audience I was addressing, most of whom seemed friendly and interested in what I was saying. My gaze was drawn in particular to the front two rows, where all my friends and family were seated. My heart warmed at the sight of so many beloved familiar faces – Mandy, Pat, Celia, my mother, my children, and finally my husband, who gave me a small smile and a wink when I caught his eye. They were the reason I had the strength to get to where I was, and I made sure everyone in the room knew it. Although I now had a sacred duty to the people of Starlight Shores – a duty I took very seriously, and intended to fulfil to the best of my considerable ability – I never wanted to forget the people who had always had my back and without whom I would never have come anywhere near as far as I had.

After the ceremony was over, I found a crowd of familiar faces waiting outside to greet me on the front steps of the Town Hall. Patterns was the first to approach me with an enthusiastic hug of congratulations.

“I’m so proud of you, Diana,” he said, in a voice thick with emotion. “I always knew you were destined for great things.”

I squeezed my old friend tightly. “Thanks for being here, Pat,” I said in his ear. “It means a lot to me.”

Next to greet me was a very pregnant Mandy. I gaped when I saw her belly.

“Again? How many is that now?” I teased.

She giggled. “Only number four!”

“I’m joking. Congratulations.” I smiled as I patted her stomach. Given how I had neglected our friendship somewhat in favour of my career, I was glad to see that my old best friend was still happy. That, and that she cared enough about me still to come support me on such an important day.

“Thanks, and same to you. I’m really happy for you, Di. I know this is what you always wanted.”

As I turned away from Mandy, I noticed Celia standing beside her. She beamed at me. “You did it!”

I shook my head. “We did it,” I corrected her. “Thanks for always having my back.” I hugged her tightly, hoping to convey some small portion of my gratitude in the gesture. Even after I had lost the first election, Celia had refused to give up on me, and had coached me tirelessly through my second council campaign and the first half of my mayoral campaign. She, too, had recently been elected to local council, along with our former boss. Amelia had held onto her council seat with an iron grip for many years now, but somehow had never managed to climb any higher.

Speak of the devil. As I released Celia, I heard a familar cough behind her and, sure enough, there stood Amelia Jefferson, virtually unchanged from the last time I had seen her. Her youth, like her seat on council, was something she had managed to retain a firm grip on.

“Congratulations, Diana,” she said. Her mouth wished me luck, but her eyes wished me a painful death. Amelia had always been spiteful and petty, but it seemed she had not yet gotten over the fact that her once-subordinate had thoroughly surpassed her. But now was not the time for a confrontation, not with so many cameras and curious eyes still watching.

“Thank you, Amelia.” I said simply, hoping my smile at least appeared genuine.

She wasn’t finished. “I do hope it lasts. It wouldn’t be the first time a Mayor is deemed unfit for office and ends their term prematurely. You’re still very young, Diana. And inexperienced. Being Mayor isn’t as easy as it seems, you know. There are so many terrible mistakes you could make… Just a friendly word of warning.”

She certainly looked concerned, but I strongly suspected her words were anything but friendly. “Thanks for the advice,” I said with a small smile. I had long ago become immune to Amelia’s barbs. Nothing she said could phase me anymore.

The same could not be said for my hothead of a husband, who apparently had overheard our conversation. He was glaring daggers at Amelia from a few feet away, and for a moment I thought he was going to yell at her when he approached us. But Luc, while as easily angered as ever, was much better at controlling it than he used to be.

Grinning easily, he put a protective arm around my waist and drew me close. “I’m terribly sorry,” he said to Amelia, “but I just couldn’t wait any longer. I desperately require some time with my incredibly successful and very intimidating wife. Please excuse us.” He turned his back on her and tugged on my waist, so that I lost my balance and stumbled into his arms. He caught me easily and spun me around to face him. Before I could protest, he had pulled my mouth to his and kissed me fiercely.

I caught the shocked expression on Amelia’s face out of the corner of my eye, and smiled against his lips. Camera flashes went off around us, but I didn’t care. What was the worst they could do? I’d just become mayor, emotions were running high, my loved ones were all expressing their pride and wishing me luck. I was about to devote the next four years of my life to serving the people of this town. I could kiss my husband if I damn well pleased.

I had never felt so fulfilled in my life, and the best part was, this was only the beginning. The mayorship had me over the moon, but I wanted the stars, and I wouldn’t stop climbing until I had reached them.

Today, Starlight Shores was enough. But tomorrow… the entire Free World awaited.


Aaaaand that’s a wrap! I hope you all enjoyed reading Diana’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Stay tuned for the introductions to Gen 4, as well as the heir vote which should be ready this time next week.

Chapter 3.19 – Public Eye

Please excuse the unexplained outfit change at the start. The earliest pictures were taken before the move between computers, and I lost some CC clothing in the process, so continuity in this case was impossible.


Before long, I was back on my usual busy schedule. The final few weeks leading up to the election were a whirlwind of speeches, flyers, interviews and public appearances, such that I almost forgot about my unexpected run-in with my sister entirely. The weekend before polling day, the Autumn festival was in town. I was at the festival grounds all morning, striking up friendly conversations with those who came to vote and handing out flyers to anyone who would take them.

Celia had gone to the trouble of having a temporary lectern set up with a microphone, complete with signs and banners advertising my campaign. Although it made me feel a little self-conscious, I felt obliged to use it to my best advantage, considering all the effort – not to mention funds – it must have cost her. Surprisingly, there were very few hecklers, and some people even seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say.

Until they weren’t.

“Hey!” someone called suddenly. “Is it true that your sister is on trial right now for grand larceny?”

If I hadn’t been so shocked by the question, I might have taken a moment to shake my head over the serious criminal charges Emily had apparently landed herself with. As it was, all I could manage was to gasp, “W-What?”

“I read it in the paper this morning.” The man who had spoken was looking at me expectantly, grimacing as if to say let’s see you talk your way out of this curveball. “Is it true?” he demanded.

“I… don’t know,” was all I could say.

The man raised his eyebrows. “You don’t know?”

I turned to face him and faked a reassuring smile. “I have no contact with my sister. We haven’t spoken in years.”

“That’s not what it said in the paper. Apparently, you were dismissed from the jury for the case, and then you were spotted later that night chatting with the defendant in a public park.”

“We weren’t… how did you…” For the first time in my career, I found myself lost for words. I needed to get out of here. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. Maybe Emily was right. Maybe I had made the wrong decision. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Politicians didn’t do ‘maybes’. They were confident in everything they said and did, so that everyone else would feel confident in them.

“Excuse me,” I mumbled, not-so-confidently. I stumbled off the stand, catching a brief glimpse of the concerned look on Celia’s face as I rushed past her on my way to the car. I had to get home. Had to find out if what the man had said was true. And I had to talk to Luc.

Luc would understand. Luc always understood.

I paused momentarily on my way inside to collect the local paper from where it was lying innocently next to the front gate.

Once I was inside and safely seated at the dining table, I unfolded it to read the front page. My heart sank into my stomach as I read the headline.

KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY: LOCAL CANDIDATE SHARES SISTERLY BOND WITH CONVICTED CRIMINAL

I scanned the paragraph underneath, feeling sicker with every word.

Diana Hunter, a previously forerunning candidate in the upcoming local elections, took time this week out of her busy campaigning schedule to serve as a juror in the trial of none other than her own sister. The defendant was on trial accused of grand larceny. She has previously served time in county jail on convictions of fraud and burglary. (Story continues on page 3.)

‘Previously forerunning’, huh? That sounded promising. Against my better judgement, I flipped open the paper to page 3 and read what was printed there.

Fellow jurer, Jeremy Bathorn, was witness to the brief but tense interaction between the siblings and Ms. Hunter’s subsequent dismissal from the trial. “[Hunter] told the judge that the defendant was her sister,” he said. “What a crazy coincidence! They seemed very distant for sisters. I doubt they had much of a relationship. I didn’t think it was fair to dismiss her from the jury, and I think she agreed with me.”

A crazy coincidence, indeed. Could Ms. Hunter have wished to remain on the jury in order to manipulate the outcome of the trial? Is it possible that she gained her place there, not through random selection, but through her network of contacts? While Bathorn may have held the view that the sisters were not close, the evidence tells a different story.

Photographs taken mere hours after the trial show the two sisters engaged in a heated discussion in a nearby public park. Was her sister upset over Ms. Hunter’s immediate dismissal from the trial? Perhaps they had planned to use her influence to secure a favourable verdict? Whatever the case, it is clear that there is more to this encounter than meets the eye.

I reached the end of the story, but continued to read over it again and again, picking it apart obsessively, fixating on every false claim and unflattering implication. The page blurred suddenly as angry tears welled up in my eyes. I blinked, and they streamed down my face, dripping from my chin into my lap. My hands were clenched and shaking so badly I was in danger of ripping the paper in half.

“You’re home early.”

Luc’s voice beside me made me jump. I nodded, and continued to stare determinedly at the paper, not wanting him to see that I was crying. As always, however, nothing got past him. He gently pried the paper from my hands, and guided me to my feet with one hand around my waist. I was glad when he didn’t force me to turn around. I wasn’t ready to face him just yet.

“What’s wrong?” he murmured in my ear.

I shook my head, unable to speak. Instead, Luc picked up the discarded paper and held it up in front of him. I could hear his angry growls and huffs of breath every few seconds as he read the article. When he was finished, he threw the paper aside and pulled me into his arms. There was nothing in that article that he didn’t already know – I had, as promised, filled him in the following morning on everything that went down on the day in question – but I still felt inexplicably ashamed as I sobbed into his shoulder and he rubbed my back in soothing circles.

When my sobs had quietened, though the tears continued to fall, he pulled back to look at me with a small, reassuring smile. “You don’t really care what that idiot of a reporter says about you, do you?” he asked. I nodded, still sniffling. “You do? Why?”

I shrugged. “It hurts to read things like that… and know that they’re lies… but also that no one else is going to know that. Everyone who reads that story is going to think that I have no sense of justice or integrity. It’s going to ruin everything I’ve worked for these last two years.” I couldn’t look him in the eye. I felt stupid for being this upset over a newspaper article, and disappointed in myself for not knowing how to handle it better. Maybe if I hadn’t totally lost my head at the festival today, I could have limited the damage somewhat. It was too late now. At that realisation, a fresh wave of tears began to fall.

“Di,” Luc said quietly, “look at me.” I turned my head a little towards him, and he reached up to gently wipe the tears from my cheek with his thumb. I managed a small smile in return, which seemed to encourage him.

“I want you to realise,” he said slowly, “that you can’t change what that reporter wrote. And you can’t change how people react to it.” I scowled. Did he think I didn’t know that? Why did he think I was crying right now? Undeterred by my change in demeanor, he pressed on. “What you can change, my darling, is how you respond. This campaign has been rough on you, and I know how much all this means to you, but I need you to know that your career is not everything. You need to know that you are worth more than your polling numbers.”

“But I-”

Luc pressed his hand against my mouth. “Not finished.” I glared at him. The moment he removed his hand, I opened my mouth to tell him off, but he grabbed me unexpectedly and swung me around, catching me in his arms as he kissed me deeply. I was so surprised, I was rendered speechless for a good minute.

“You are beautiful,” he murmured against my lips, then pulled away to add, “and incredibly intelligent”. He kissed me again. “And fierce.” And again. “And ambitious.” And again.  “And everyone is going to forget about this in a couple of weeks.”

I avoided his seeking lips and protested, “But the election-”

“… Is not the centre of the universe,” he interrupted. “You are stronger than a single obstacle.” He kissed me again. “And you.” Kiss. “Will.” Kiss. “Get.” Kiss. “There.” He covered my face in a flurry of little kisses until I couldn’t help but laugh. He grinned, looking entirely too pleased with himself. “There she is. Feeling better?”

“For now,” I responded hesitantly. “You can put me down.”

“Never.”

I rolled my eyes, but I did feel better. Luc always made me feel strong. Like nothing could ever hurt me as long as I was with him.

Which is why I wasn’t too perturbed when I received a call from my old employer two weeks later, just before the election results were due to be announced. I hesitated to pick up the phone, but eventually reasoned that it might be something important.

“Hello?”

“Hello, Diana. It’s Amelia Jefferson.”

I adopted my most professional tone. “What can I do for you, Amelia? I hope there are no hard feelings about the election race.”

“Oh, none at all! In fact, I was just calling to share some happy news.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. I won, again.” My stomach dropped. I’d lost? Amelia prattled on in my ear, but I barely heard her. What was she going on about now? “I’m sure you’d agree that the voters made the right choice, choosing the more experienced candidate. Forgive me for saying so, but you were a bit of a wildcard. And after that public fiasco a couple of weeks ago, well…” she paused, allowing her words to sink in as a fresh wave of embarrassment washed over me. Just when I had begun to hope that the whole thing was fading out of sight. I should have known that someone like Amelia wouldn’t let such potent ammunition slip past uncollected.

“Anyway,” she went on, “I actually wanted to thank you for all that. If you hadn’t made such a mess of things, I really think you might have beaten me. Better luck next time!” She hung up without waiting for a response. Apparently she had dropped all the bombs she intended to.

Although I allowed myself the small hope that she had simply been trying to mess with my head and was not actually privvy to the results of elections before they were announced, the news the following day confirmed her story. I wish I could say that I was able to let go of failure as easily as I latched on to success, and the news of my loss, while obviously saddening, did nothing to quench my ambition.

But the truth was, I was crushed.

I couldn’t help but feel like all my hard work had been for nothing. For weeks, I was inconsolable. It was a long time before I was able to pull myself together, pick myself up, and try again. If nothing else, I reminded myself, I had gained some valuable experience.

This time, maybe, things would be different.

Chapter 3.17 – The Hunter Campaign

After the call from Celia, I returned to the dining room to share the good news with my family.

“What’s up?” Luc asked me, picking up instantly on my change of mood the moment I re-entered the room.

I allowed myself a small smile. Even if I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be yet, winning the election was a victory no matter how I looked at it. “We won,” I announced. “We won the election!”

Grinning widely, Luc took me in his arms and kissed me happily. “That’s great, babe! I knew you could do it.”

“What does that mean?” Hope asked.

I laughed happily, and bent down to kiss her cheek. “It means Mummy gets to keep her job, sweetheart.”

But later that night when we were lying in bed together, I felt safe enough to confide in Luc how I was really feeling.

“Luc, there’s something I want to tell you.”

He raised an eyebrow at me, but nodded. Go on.

I took a deep breath. “I don’t want to work for Amelia anymore.”

Understandably enough, he seemed quite taken aback. “But… why? I thought you loved this job. You worked so hard to get to where you are.”

“I know, but… it’s not enough. I want to aim higher.”

Luc made a sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a sigh. “Ah, Di. My little genius. You and your insatiable ambition!”

“Don’t tease me,” I pouted. Then I sighed too. “I’ll try to explain. The thing is, I don’t want to spend my life working for someone else. Working for Amelia was a valuable experience, but I want to go a step further. I want be where she is. I want to run for local council.”

Luc smirked playfully. “Babe, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you just missed the elections.”

I slapped his arm lightly. “There’ll be another election in two years time, which is just enough time to get my campaign up and running. I was thinking of asking Celia to help me.”

He frowned. “Are you sure about that? Isn’t she meant to be Amelia’s personal assistant?”

“Yeah, but she’s been working there a long time. For all I know, she’s ready for a change as well. And I’ll never know if I don’t ask, will I?” I glared at him, determined. “I’m going to talk to her tomorrow.”

Luc sighed again. “I would try to talk you out of it, but we both know I’d be wasting my time.” He yawned. “Goodnight, Di. I’ll see you in a few days when you come home from the office.” He rolled onto his side, and within a few moments was asleep. Annoyed, but unswayed, I followed a few moments later.

In spite of his quips, he was there to see me off before I went to work in the morning, for which I was immensely grateful. I was already feeling sick with anxiety over whatever Celia might say.

“Bye, babe. Let me know how it works out,” Luc murmured sleepily, giving me a tender peck on the lips.

I nodded and attempted a smile, but found myself too nervous to form words. Instead, I squeezed his hand for a moment before heading out the door.

I had decided not to talk to Celia until the end of the day. That way, whatever happened, it would be over right away. I spent the first seven and a half hours of my shift working quietly and diligently, knowing it might be the last day I ever spent in that office. If I was going out, I wanted to go out with dignity.

Finally, just before the end of the day, I re-entered the office after a bathroom break to find Celia packing her things to go home.

“Hey, Celia? Do you think I could talk with you for a moment?”

“Of course, Diana. What’s up?”

I decided the best strategy was to be direct. Just come out and say it. “I want to quit this job.”

She looked shocked, and a little hurt. “What? What for? I’m so sorry, is it something to do with me?”

Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best approach after all. I hurried to reassure her. “No, not at all. In fact, I was hoping you might come with me.” She stared at me in silence, which I tentatively interpreted as a signal to continue.

“The thing is, I want to run in the next council election, and I feel it would be inappropriate to continue working for Amelia while planning to run against her. You’re my closest friend in this field, and someone I both trust and admire. I would be honoured if you would work with me in the next election.”

I waited anxiously for her answer, worrying that I had oversold myself and wondering for the umpteenth time what I really had to offer that could trump good money and job security. So when her answer finally came, I was so surprised I thought I had heard her wrong.

“Okay, I’ll do it.”

I blinked. “What?”

“I said I’ll do it. To be honest, I’ve started to feel a bit stuck in this job. Maybe getting some more experience managing other campaigns will expand my repetoire and help me land bigger jobs in the future.” She smiled reassuringly. “I would be happy to come work with you, Diana.”

I couldn’t help the huge smile that spread across my face as her words sunk in. Impulsively, I reached out and hugged her tightly. “Thank you so much, Celia. You won’t regret it.”

She seemed surprised, but after a few moments tentatively extracted her arms to hug me back. “I believe you.”

I gave my notice to Amelia the next day, and Celia a few weeks later. We had agreed not to resign at the same time so it wouldn’t look too much like we’d plotted to abandon her together. Every spare moment of the next eighteen months were spent theorising and strategising, designing and printing fliers and conducting preliminary surveys, so that by the time the lead-up to the elections began, we were ready to launch our campaign at full throttle from the get-go. The first major step, according to Celia, was to host a campaign party for everyone who had expressed interest in my cause thus far, either online, in person or through the surveys we’d carried out. The party was an opportunity for them to get to know me personally, become more familiar with the campaign so they could decide whether they were willing to support it financially. It was my job, therefore, to make as many friends there as possible so that they would leave feeling like they (and hopefully, their donations) were in good hands.

During the period where Celia and I had been hard at work planning the campaign, Luc, Mum and I had decided to rebuild the house. I had lived in the same place since moving to Starlight Shores as a little girl, and we all agreed it was time for a change. Luc especially was keen to live in a house that we could really call our own, instead of always feeling like we were visiting my childhood home (his words, not mine). While the house was being remodelled, Celia had kindly offered to host my entire family in her home, which apparently was much larger than one might expect from a young, single woman still working her way up the career ladder.

Although my initial instinct was to refuse, thinking I couldn’t possibly impose such a burden on her for so long, I was eventually convinced when she reminded me that living together while working on the campaign was the most practical and time-efficient solution. Luc thought it highly amusing and totally predictable that I would be won over by such an argument, but he didn’t understand. We were on a deadline, and time was of the essence!

Through a combination of email, doorknocking and social media events, Celia and I had managed to secure about thirty guests on the day of the party. Not as many as I had hoped for, in all honesty, but at least it was a start. I had to remind myself that I was still relatively unknown, and could not rely on prestige or hearsay to get voters.

Luc had taken the kids out for the day to keep them out of the way, so while Celia kept guests fed and entertained I schmoozed like my life depended on it (which, professionally and financially, it did).

It wasn’t something that came naturally to me, so it felt weird knowing that I had an ulterior motive in getting to know someone, and we both knew it, yet pretended it didn’t exist. But political success was my life’s ambition, and I knew that this kind of thing came with the territory. So I sucked it up and worked my hardest, the way I had done all my life.

By the end of the party, I was exhausted. I heaved a huge sigh of relief after Celia closed the door behind the final guest. She turned to me, looking concerned. “Are you okay, Diana?”

I nodded. “That just took a lot out of me,” I explained. “How am I ever going to make it in this field if I can’t stay on my feet for a few hours of social engagement? How do mayors and presidents manage it?”

She patted my shoulder consolingly. “They do it just like this,” she told me. “They put on a brave face in public, and then as soon as the cameras turn off, they collapse. Don’t beat yourself up too much, Diana. You’re only human.”

I shook my head. “That’s no excuse.” I set my shoulders, and straightened up. “Next time, I’ll do better,” I assured her.

She grinned at me. “That’s the spirit. But for now, consider this a success. We did it! We hosted a fundraising party and didn’t screw it up!” She bounced up and down a little, seemingly unable to contain her excitement.

I laughed. “Speaking of fundraising, how successful was it, actually?”

“I’m glad you asked,” Celia smiled and skipped over to the front door where she had left the donations bucket. It rattled promisingly when she lifted it up, groaning a little under its weight. “We may not win this election, but if we don’t it’s not for lack of funding.”

I blanched, ignoring the good news about the money and honing in on the first half of her sentence. “You don’t think we’ll win?”

“Well…” she hesitated, and my heart sank. “It’s not impossible. This is your first time running, after all.” She must have noticed my expression, because she quickly continued, “But let’s not think about that. You’re not going to win if you don’t think you can. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will, yeah?”

I nodded and smiled, but inside I was an uncertain mess.

As was becoming my habit, I didn’t reveal my true feelings until I was alone with Luc that night, while the two of us were relaxing on the bed in one of Celia’s guest bedrooms.

“What if I don’t win?” I asked him. Quietly, afraid of the answer.

“Huh?” He had been lying back against the headboard, but sat up at my question.

I turned my head to face him. “What if I don’t win the election?”

Luc shrugged. “Then you’ll try again in the next one, I suppose. What’s the big deal?”

I knew it was unreasonable to feel hurt, but the fact that he hadn’t immediately protested that it was impossible made my heart sink even further. “I’ve never lost at anything,” I whispered.

“Never?” he repeated, incredulously.

I shook my head, biting my lip. I felt unsure of myself. Vulnerable. I needed him to reassure me that everything was going to be fine.

He grinned slightly. “That’s impossible.”

Now he said it. I shook my head again. “It’s the truth.”

His grin widened. “Never? At anything? And I thought you were an overachiever before…”

I groaned, and lay down on the bed with a huff. “You’re fixating on the wrong thing!” I cried, exasperated. Tears prickled behind my eyes. I forced them back, but Luc knew me better than to be fooled by that. He could always tell.

The grin disappeared, and he shifted closer to me with a serious expression. “I’m sorry, babe. I didn’t mean to be insensitive.” He sighed. “Honestly, I don’t think it’s likely. You’ve proved time and again that hard work will get you anywhere, and no one I’ve ever met has a work ethic that could hold a candle to yours.”

I smiled slightly. Even when he was a jerk, Luc always knew just what to say to make me feel better.

“Here’s the thing, Di,” he continued. “Worst case scenario, you lose the election. What’s going to happen then? It would suck, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. You’re not going to give up. Not the Di I know. You’re going to keep trying, and you’re going to win the next one. I guess what I’m trying to say is it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, because it’s only a matter of time before you get where you’re going.”

I paused, considering his words. He wasn’t wrong… I just didn’t know how I would handle it in the short-term if I lost.

He reached out and gave my hand a squeeze. “I believe in you, Di. Nothing’s going to stop my Genius.” I smiled. “Think you can go to sleep now?” he asked.

I nodded, turned off the bedside light, and slipped under the covers. Luc wrapped an arm around me from behind, and I snuggled against him, feeling secure – if not in my career, then at least in the knowledge that the people who mattered would be by my side, no matter what.

 

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 3.15 – Career Woman

As of around halfway through this chapter, I started using Ephemera’s Fresh skins (previously I was using Ephemera’s Natural skins), so you may notice a slight difference in character appearances.  As always, I welcome feedback, so if you have a particularly strong opinion on the new look, please share!


In the days after Luc and I returned from our honeymoon, I in particular noticed a definite increase in time spent with the kids.  This was mainly due to the fact that I was no longer working, as I would be heading back to university in a few weeks’ time to finish my degree.  For now, I wanted to use the time I had to catch up on being a part of my children’s lives.

Hugo and Hope, at a little over two years old, were well on the way to learning to walk, but twin toddlers were turning out to be more of a struggle than I had anticipated.  When they weren’t happy to play together, Luc and I were forced to pick one twin each to entertain on their own, which was exhausting work, to say the least.  Hope – who was looking more an more like her father every day – was the more energetic of the two, and a Daddy’s girl through and through.  Luc was always the one who could get her to calm down when she was upset, or pick her up when she refused to be touched by anyone else.

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Hugo, on the other hand, was more quietly enthusiastic, and, in contrast to his sister, had grown into blond hair and blue eyes exactly the same shade as mine.  While Hope was more adventurous, Hugo was more concentrated on achieving his own small goals, which currently included walking and learning to throw a ball.  Sometimes, I felt like he and I understood each other much better than I did my whirlwind of a daughter.

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Since outgrowing his crib, Gabriel had moved into Flynn’s old room, which we had not yet found the time or money to redecorate.  He seemed to have inherited my passion for studying, much to Luc’s amused exasperation, and spent a good hour every evening dutifully completing his homework at the desk in his bedroom.  Sometimes, if a question was particularly difficult, he could be persuaded to come downstairs and allow me or Luc to help him, but he would be proud to say that those times were few and far between.

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Gabriel was a gentle child, and had adored Ash since he was a tiny baby.  Now that he was old enough to help with chores around the house, he delighted in showering her in baths, brushes and cuddles whenever she needed them – and sometimes when she didn’t.

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Speaking of showering people in affection, Luc still made a point of surprising me with hugs, small touches and kisses whenever we were together or even passed each other in the hallway – a habit which had increased significantly since our wedding.  I had the feeling that he was missing the time on our honeymoon when it was just the two of us.  I couldn’t pretend that I didn’t enjoy it, but I sometimes felt a little embarrassed when he did it in front of my parents – or the maid.  Still, he was an excellent kisser… so I let it slide for the most part.

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The morning of my departure to university, Luc and Mum followed me and my suitcase out onto the front lawn to say goodbye.  The kids were still in bed, since it was around five in the morning, but I had said goodbye to them the previous evening, promising that I loved them and would be home soon.

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Which I was, relatively speaking.  My second and final semester at university – I had chosen to accelerate my degree dramatically, having already wasted many more years than I would like not climbing the career ladder – sped by with little incident, especially since this time around, I had decided to devote myself entirely to achieving the best grades possible.   Four months later, consequently, I returned home still wearing my graduation robes and clutching my new political science degree in one hand.  I could barely believe that, after all this time, my dream was finally within my reach.

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Just like the last time, Luc was waiting for me when I got back.  I had barely stepped inside the door before I felt myself being swept up into his arms.

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“Missed me, huh?”  I grinned when we broke apart for air.

He shrugged.  “Just a little,” he said nonchalantly, but ruined the effect somewhat by winking.

The kids were equally excited to see me back home again – though they did not express their enthusiasm in quite the same fashion.  The twins, I discovered, had made great progress in learning to talk and use the potty while I had been away, and were currently obsessed with a xylophone and peg box in the nursery that we had bought for Gabriel when he was their age.

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Gabriel, meanwhile, had approached me on the morning after my return home to discuss ‘a matter of great urgency’, as he put it.

“I was wondering whether you and Dad had thought any more about redecorating my room,” he began, carefully.  “I asked Dad while you were away, but he said I should talk to you when you got back.”

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I had expected this question, though this was a little sooner than I had hoped, and had my answer prepared.  “Honestly, honey, we don’t have enough money right now.  But I’m hoping to get a new job soon, and if that works out then I promise we’ll decorate your room however you want, and you can even come with us to help choose the wallpaper.”

Gabriel, whose face had fallen when I explained about the money, brightened up at once.  “I can come with you?” he repeated eagerly.  I nodded.

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He nodded slowly, solemnly.  “Then it’s a deal,” he said.

I smiled down at his excited face, and shook the hand he offered me.  “It’s a deal.”

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As it turned out, the hoped-for job arrived sooner than expected, a few weeks later, in the form of an open position as a campaign worker.  According to the job description, I was to assist in planning and executing an election campaign for a woman named Amelia Jefferson, who was hoping to be elected to the town council for the fourth year running.

My first morning on the job, I was so nervous it might as well have been my first job ever.  Amelia had her own office on the second floor of an office building near City Hall, which she shared with the other members of the town council.  I knocked firmly on the door in an attempt to sound more confident than I felt, and a woman’s voice invited me inside.  My knees were shaking badly as I approached the desk.  The sooner I could sit down and get this first meeting over with, the better.

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I glanced at the woman in front of me, who I presumed was Amelia, as I sank into the chair facing her.  She was younger than I had expected, and undeniably beautiful, but there was a coldness in her eyes as she smiled that did nothing to ease my nervousness.

“You must be Diana.”

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I did my best to return a friendly smile as I nodded.  “I’m Diana Hunter.  Thank you for offering me this position.  I look forward to working with you.”

“For me,” she corrected.

“I… sorry?”

“You will be working for me.  The person you will be working with is not me but my assistant, Celia.”

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I turned my head in the direction she indicated and saw a young woman with long, braided hair smiling encouragingly at me from the couch in the corner.  I suppressed my sigh of relief – here was one person, at least, who appeared friendly.  I was no longer alone.

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“Celia will get you settled into your new working space,” Amelia went on.  “The two of you will be working together over the next six months to invent and carry out a successful campaign for my re-election to town council next February.  This will have as much impact on your career as it will mine – succeed, and you get to keep your job.  Do you understand?”

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“Yes, Ame- ma’am.”  I had intended to address her by her first name, but the strictness of her manner did not invite such familiarity.

“Good.  In that case, you may go and get settled in.  Celia will direct you.”

I stood up and followed Celia into the next room, where two desks stood facing one another.  One was crammed full of papers and personal items, the other neat and bare.  “That’ll be your desk,” Celia told me, indicating the latter.  I nodded and sat down, unsure what to do next.

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“Have you ever worked a campaign before?”  she asked me, with another reassuring smile.

I shook my head.  “Never,” I admitted.  “I just finished the second part of a university degree in political science.  Before that I was working jobs at City Hall that didn’t need qualifications, and living out various… personal events.”

“Like marriage?”  Celia asked bluntly, her eyes on my wedding ring.

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I smiled, thinking of Luc as I stroked the ring absentmindedly, and nodded.  “And kids.  Children weren’t a part of my life plan originally.  If I’d had my own way, I would have been here many years sooner.”

“But you love them.  You wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“No…”  I murmured, surprised at her insight.  “No, I wouldn’t.”  Then I started, as though coming out of a trance, and cleared my throat uncomfortably.  I liked Celia, but talking about my personal life and feelings with someone I had just met was… strange, to say the least.  “So, um… how does campaign management work?”

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“Oh, it’s a lot easier than it seems, trust me,” she said encouragingly.  “The first thing we need it a campaign plan, so we know what we’re doing.  That includes stuff like our goals and aims, budget, fundraising, how we plan to get people to vote for us, etcetera.  Then we can see what direction we’re going and which steps we need to take next.”  She pointed to a large cork board standing near the wall.  “That’s where I’ve been planning it out so far.  Once we’ve got our basic idea down, we can start writing it out properly.”

I nodded, feeling the old determination to succeed rising in me as she spoke.  “And it’s just the two of us working on this?”

Celia shrugged.  “We can recruit other people later if we want to, to help with canvasing and that sort of thing, but for now, yep, just us!  And Amelia.”

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I bit my lip at the mention of our boss’ name.  Before I could stop myself, I asked, “Is she always like that?”

“Like she was in your interview, you mean?  Nah.  She gets a bit better once you get to know her.  She’s always strict with new employees.  I guess she feels it’s like being a teacher, you know?  Be strict at the start, and you have their respect from the get-go.”

I supposed that made sense, even if it felt quite unnecessary.  Reminding myself that we had more important things to worry about, however, I tried to push Amelia’s attitude firmly from my mind.

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I arrived home six hours later, feeling accomplished but also so physically and emotionally exhausted that I could easily have collapsed where I stood.  Instead, I collapsed into the waiting arms of my ever-faithful husband.

“Hard day?” he asked sympathetically.  Too tired to form coherent words, I nodded.

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With one arm around my waist, Luc supported me up the stairs and into my bedroom, where he gently removed my dress and the mountain of pins holding my hair in place.  When both of us were lying side by side on the bed, I forced myself to recount the day’s events.

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“That Amelia woman sounds like a piece of work,” was Luc’s brusque comment.

I laughed and shook my head.  “She’s not that bad, really.  Just a bit hard to get along with.  I’ll get used to it…” I yawned, “… Eventually.”

“Well, I’m glad there’s someone looking after you over there, anyway.”

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I nodded, too tired to talk much more.  I leaned sideways to plant a gentle kiss on his cheek.  “As long as I have you looking after me here, I’ll be okay,” I told him, making him smile.  I turned out the bedside light and rolled onto my side.  As I drifted off, I thought I felt his hand gently stroking my hair, soothing me into sleep.

Special – Story Q&A

A while ago I promised to do two special posts in honour of this blog’s 1st birthday, one of which was a Q&A with myself and the characters, where I gave you guys the opportunity to ask any questions you wanted and have them answered.  And here it is at last!  So let’s get right to it.

Starting with the questions addressed to me – or in this case, my simself (by sofifi3):

Q: Would James and Tyler still have been close if their mother were loving and caring?

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A: I would like to think they would still have been close as siblings, but probably not as close as they were in the story, and their relationship would have been very different.  In the story, James took on the role of a parent-figure as well as an older brother in Tyler’s life, particularly during their childhood.  If their mother had been more of a mother to them, that responsibility would have been hers, not James’.  In that case, James and Tyler would have related to each other purely as siblings – including sibling rivalry, petty fights, all that good stuff.  It’s hard to imagine them like that, honestly!  I think, because of the person he is, James would probably still have looked out for his sister and played with her sometimes, but he wouldn’t have felt responsible for her wellbeing in the same way, and may have turned out a very different person because of it.  James and Tyler grew up only having each other for company and for support, and so both spent a lot more time hanging out and looking out for each other than they might otherwise have done.

Q:  Was Emily naturally rebellious, or did she have a motivation for it?

A:  I’m going to answer this in terms of Emily the character rather than Emily the sim (in-game traits, etc.).  Emily had quite a happy upbringing, I think.  Bianca and James weren’t particularly overbearing parents, so I wouldn’t say that there was any provocation for her to rebel based on her upbringing.  She was forced into Di’s shadow a bit, Di being the smart one who got all the top grades and prizes at school.  As was touched on a bit at the beginning of generation three, Flynn was the favourite child, and it’s possible that this did more damage to Emily than it did to Di.  Think classic “middle-child syndrome”.

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On the other hand, Emily was a bit of an adrenaline junkie and genuinely possessed a love for causing chaos and a certain degree of rebelliousness by nature that her siblings did not.  So my answer is, it’s a combination of both.  I think every child, to some extent, wants to feel loved and valued by their parents, so Emily’s troublemaking might have been a means of seeking attention from them; this, along with her natural character and interests, combined to form the person she eventually became.

Questions for Diana and Luc (from Lila Remonn)

Q:  What are your favourite things about each other?

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Diana:  Apart from stunning good looks?  *laughs*  If I’m being serious, I’d probably  say that some of my favourite things about Luc are the things that make him different from myself.  I’ve always admired his spontaneity, the way he just goes with the moment and doesn’t hesitate.  I think he thinks I worry too much!  I like how he keeps me on track, and helps me remember what’s really important.  He’s always done that, and I like that he’s good for me in that way.  I think we complement each other pretty well.

Actually, on that note, I like how I can rely on him no matter what.  Even when I’m being crazy and irrational, he’s there to support me and keep me afloat.  I mean, we fight a lot, I think that’s normal, because we both get angry pretty easily, but he’s always there for me when it really comes down to it.  Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without him.  He’s my lifebelt.

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Luc:  That depends, how much time do we have?  I wouldn’t know where to begin.  Di’s beautiful, and incredibly smart, really focused and ambitious.  I’ve never really met anyone else like her.  So, one of my favourite things about her is she’s unique.  I like that she says what she thinks and doesn’t take shit from anyone, even though it means that we clash sometimes.  I love that fire.  It’s exciting, I guess – I’m never bored with her.

And I like her determination to get what she wants in life.  I’ve always thought that was fantastic, since the first time I met her, because I didn’t know what it was like to want something so much you’d do anything to get it.  Di has the brains and the drive to go wherever and do whatever she wants, and that’s amazing to me.  She’s amazing.  I’m pretty sure I don’t deserve her.

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Q:  Luc, is Di your first relationship?

Luc:  Ummm… *glances at Di*  … sure.

Diana:  He’s lying.

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Luc:  Erm… alright, fine.  But Di is the only person I’ve ever fallen completely for.  She’s not the first one I’ve dated, and definitely not the first one I’ve kissed… *Diana raises her eybrows* Wait, never mind.  Ignore that last part.  Point is, Di is the only one that matters now.  There was this one girl back in Bridgeport that I was pretty serious about, but she- I- we… it didn’t really work out.  I moved here, and there were some girls in the group I hung around with for a few years in high school that were pretty, um, interested.  Some people are a lot less selective than others in the people they sleep with.  That’s all I’m saying.  Next question?

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Q:  What is the sweetest, most romantic thing you’ve done for each other?

Diana:  I feel like it’s kind of hard to self-judge that sort of thing, so I’m going to go with the sweetest thing Luc has ever done for me.  There are a lot of things, it’s a bit hard to pick one, but I think the time he made me karaoke to the first song we danced to together would have to be up there.  That was pretty romantic.

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Luc:  Not the time I proposed to you?

Diana:  I was pregnant and sore all over at the time, so no.  Not really.  That was not your best timing.

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Luc:  Oh… Well, okay.  The “sweetest, most romantic thing” that Di has ever done for me… actually there was this one time, while we were engaged, I was out during the day doing something boring like shopping or whatever, and I wasn’t expecting Di to be at home when I got there because she usually works until around nine or ten.  But when I got home, she was there;  she’d taken time off work and asked Mandy and Ethan to babysit the kids, and her Mum and Dad had just left on a weekend trip, so we were alone in the house.  And she’d gone all out – music, candles, ambient lighting, rose petals, the whole package.  She’d even made cheesesteak, even though she doesn’t usually cook, because she knows it’s my favourite meal.  It was a special night she’d put aside for just the two of us.  And, I don’t know, I know how important Di’s work is to her, so it really meant a lot to that she’d put it aside to make everything about me for that one night.

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Q:  Luc, do you listen to music?  And what type?

Luc:  For some reason a lot of people I meet seem to think I’m an indie music kind of person, but I’m not sure where they get that from.  I don’t listen to a lot of music, but when I do it’s generally some form of rock, something I can sing along and get pumped up to.  Is that too cliche?  I don’t know, but it’s what I like, so whatever.

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Hope you enjoyed!  Stay tuned for the next chapter, which should be up soon if all goes well 🙂

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