Friday, February 25, 2011

Ren - Gen 5 Ch 9

Needless to say, I found myself sleeping on the couch for the remainder of our stay. For some reason Maureen was not appeased by my explanation.
"It was one time, ten years ago, sweetheart. It was the only way to get the information I needed."
"Cheating is cheating, Ren. There is no good excuse. And how do I know this was the only time?"

I had dragged myself off the couch after another sleepless night, to find the house empty except for Brook. 
"Where is everyone?"
"Mom took Colt and Heather to the art museum. I didn't want to go. Art is boring, I'd rather stay here and fish."
"Hmm. Well, I have work to do, and I don't want you here alone all day. You'll have to come with me. Go change your shirt and we'll get going. What are you doing with your sister's shirt on anyway?"
"It's not Heather's, it's mine. I bought it at the market with the spending money you gave me."
"But it's pink."
"It's my favorite color."
I was in no mood to argue.
"Just go change it. Now."
I sighed as I watched him scurry off obediently. Something about that kid just rubs me the wrong way. Always doing stuff to annoy me, and then when I call him on it, he gives in without a fight. He's too good, if that's possible.

First stop was the old castle on the bluff.

I pulled out my map to look for landmarks, but the view of the river was blocked.
"What are we looking for, daddy?"
"An island in the river. but I can't see the river from here."
"I bet we could see it from that tower."

"Ohh, dad! This is so cool! We can see the whole village from here! And there's our house across the river!"
I nodded absently as I surveyed the landscape. I checked the map again. Right below this tower is where it shows the river widening. If this map is correct, the river used to be much higher, extending out to the hills. So what used to be an island, would now be a bit of high ground on the plain across the river.....

"Ohh wow, look, dad! I can see the Eiffel Tower from here! and Paris!"
I barely listened, for I suddenly knew right where that X on the map was, and fervently hoped that I could finally put those blasted urns to rest.

My long search had brought me right back home to the old nectary.
"Oh, daddy, thank you thank you! My friends are so happy to be home!"
"Anything for my little girl, sweetie."

I was still in the dog house with Maureen and Colt, and it was nigh impossible to carry on a coherent conversation with Heather, so I spent a good part of the rest of our vacation attempting to get along with my younger son. At least we both like to fish.
"I miss Bennie. Why couldn't he come with us?"
"He has to run the White Rose while we're gone, you know that. Besides, it's just a simbot, you can't miss it."
"Well, I do. He's my best friend."
"You're weird, you know that."
"Mom says I'm assentric, just like grandma.
"Eccentric you mean. But yeah, that means weird."

"What did you fish up there, son?"
"Oh, cool, dad! A little animal statue! I wonder how it got in the pond?"
"Who knows? Probably some little boy like you lost it a long time ago. You should keep it for a souvenir."
It was nearing the end of our stay, and I was still relegated to the couch, although I noticed the glares coming in my direction were lessening a little. I awoke in the middle of the night from a restless sleep, to find Maureen sitting there next to me.
"Ren, are you awake? We need to talk."

"You really hurt me this time, Ren. Things have been so good between us for such a long time, and now this. I've been doing a lot of thinking, about what you said. If you can honestly swear that was the only time, maybe we can move on from this."

I looked her in the eye, and intoned in the most believable voice I could muster, "I swear, babe. That was the only time, and I felt so guilty afterward, I could hardly live with myself. There is no way I would ever cheat on you ever again. I'm so sorry. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."

"Then I forgive you. And I insist we have Mathilde over to visit. She deserves to know her dad."
I think I was about the happiest guy in the world at that moment. And I didn't really lie about Elvira and Delicia. After all, if you can't remember something, it doesn't really count, does it? And the other thing was mainly just a therapeutic massage, right?

Mathilde and Heather really hit it off, while Brook spent his time watching the fishing channel.

"Come play tag with us, Brook."
"Can't, I'm fishing."
I lost the fight such as it was, with Brook about that shirt. Maureen sided with him, and it was his favorite shirt until he finally outgrew it.

Our last night in France, Maureen arranged a little concert. Heather sang an adorable little French tune she had learned from Mathilde, while Maureen and Colt accompanied her.
Brook, of course was off doing his own thing - I think he's on a rock collecting kick right now. Maureen doesn't make him join in any more; she says his heart just isn't in it.

"I love you so much, babe. It's our last night in France, what do you say we celebrate."
I sighed in complete happiness as we finally drifted off to sleep together.

Even though Maureen forgave me, Colt didn't. Even after we returned home, his animosity just seemed to grow.
"I swear, dad, if you ever hurt mom again, I'll...I'll.."
He curled his fist into a ball.
"You'll what?"
"Just don't hurt her."

It was no surprise then, that he left home as soon as he graduated. His two loves have always been art and martial arts, and he is headed for China to write an illustrated book on sim fu.
"Wish me luck, mom!"
"How long will you be gone?"
"As long as it takes. I'll let you know. I think I may settle down there, if I like it."
"We'll miss you."
"I'll miss you, too, mom."

Brook is happy to be back home with Bennie. They spend all their free time out behind the barn, playing with junk.

Today Bennie is taking him to the dump, to collect more scrap for their crazy experiments. I wasn't going to let them go, but Maureen didn't see a problem. And what Maureen says, goes, nowadays. Gotta keep the peace.

It's no secret I don't like Bennie hanging out with Brook, so I followed them because, well, to be honest, I just wanted to spy on them, and I don't trust Bennie. After all, he is just a simbot. Hmm, they don't look like they're collecting any scrap. Just attaching wires to some kind of...

.... explosives!!  What the????? The whole dump exploded in a giant fire ball.
Bennie and Brook were jumping up and down in utter glee at the sight.

I was furious as I approached the pair.
"Oh no, Brook. I think we did something bad," Bennie screeched in his crackly robot voice.

"What are you doing with my son, you freaking bucket of bolts? I swear I'm gonna dismantle you piece by piece and throw the pieces in the bottom of the lake!"
"No, daddy, no... please, no... " Brook was sobbing at my side.
"It's all my fault, daddy, I asked him to do it."
"Please do not do this, brother," Bennie crackled.
"Grrrrrr... how many times have I told you, I. Am. Not. Your. Brother."
This was the last straw. That simbot has to go.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ren - Gen 5 Ch 8

I awoke the next morning on the living room couch, with no recollection of how I had gotten there. The last thing I remembered was.... the hot tub? Panicked, I stumbled to the bathroom mirror. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Getting so juiced I pass out, here of all places. After a careful search, I don't see any marks. I sighed in relief.

The house was so quiet; I guess Mel and El were sleeping. I hadn't eaten anything since before I arrived yesterday, so I headed to the kitchen to find something for breakfast. Ugh, nothing in the fridge but two cases of plasma juice.

Ah, there's a lonely, dusty can of soup way back in the corner of the cupboard.  Not the best breakfast, but better than going out with this pounding headache.

Maybe a soak in the hot tub will help this blinding headache. I heard footsteps behind me and started to sit up.
"Just the maid, sir. No need to get up."
I relaxed again, half falling asleep.

I was startled awake by a gentle splash beside me. It was the maid.
"You look like you could use a massage," she smiled.

"Mmm, that sounds wonderful. What's your name?"
"Pretty name. I'm Ren."
"I know, you're brother told me you were coming, and  I should treat you well," she smiled softly.

My headache was definitely receding, due to Delicia's expert ministrations, among other things, when suddenly we were both startled by a loud 'crack' behind us.
"Don't mind me, you two," Mel laughed uproariously.

"Geez, Mel, You coulda said something when you came in."
"Hahaha! What's the fun in that?" He waggled his eyebrows at me. "El told me about last night. You're gonna get quite the hot tub rep if you keep this up." He laughed again, even harder than before. I just glared at him.
"Where's my clothes?"
He doubled over in laughter and gave me a fake innocent shrug.
"Maid musta cleaned 'em up."
"Yeah, right," I muttered sarcastically.

I finally found my clothes, stuffed into the bottom of the hamper. Just in time, as it was late afternoon, and Elvira was awake now.
"You have a map you want me to look at?"
 She was all business - not a word about last night, which is fine by me.

I taped the copy I had brought with me to the wall and watched as she studied it.
"See, this is a map of Champs Les Sims."
I didn't see, and said so. It looks nothing like the town I know.
"Well, of course it doesn't look this way now. This is what it was when I was a little girl and visited there with my family. See, here is the castle bluff, and the river meanders below, lined by fishing huts. And here, where the river widens," she pointed to an island marked with a prominent X, "is the old gypsy camp."

That was all the information she could give me, but I think it's enough, so I took my leave.  How old must she be, to recognise that map? Part of me is a little jealous, I think, of the power those two wield, but the power I seek is different in nature - the continuation of my family legacy.

And so my search brings me back to France, this time with family in tow.  We have plenty of vacation time to relax a little, before I begin my search for the site of the gypsy camp. That just has to be where those urns belong.

Colt could hardly wait to break out his brushes and paint the views from the balcony.

I showed Brook and Heather how to catch frogs.
"I'm not eating any, though!" Heather was adamant about that. I'm not surprised, as she normally survives on mac and cheese and PBJ's and refuses to eat meat of any kind.

Maureen made a bee-line for the hot tub I had installed down next to the old nectar-making building. Suddenly I had an idea. I gave the kids some spending money and sent all three of them down to the market for the afternoon.

"Hey babe, I have a great idea. The kids are gone, let's go skinny dipping!"
"Are you sure, love? Taking our swim suits off outside, here?"
"Come on, it'll be fun. No one's within miles."
It took a bit of convincing, but it was definitely a lot of fun. Little did I know that my idyllic little world was about to come crashing down around me.

Next day we all headed out the the Nectary. We were all enjoying the small cups of nectar set out for tasting, when Heather called out in surprise.
"Look, daddy! That girl looks just like Brook!"

I turned around, and stared in shock at the sight before me.

Of course, I knew there was the possibility of running into Brigitte sometime during our stay, but I figured our friendship would be easy to justify. The little girl by her side would not so easily be explained away.
"Ren! Over here! So good to see you again." She turned to the little green-haired girl.
"Mathilde! Your papa's come to visit!"

As if in a dream, I watched Maureen approach with a forced smile plastered on her face.

I think I need a glass of nectar, or maybe three... or four.

Maureen motioned Heather over.
"Why don't you go outside and play with Mathilde while I speak with your father," I heard her say, her voice tight with stress.

Fortunately, being kids, they were blissfully unaware, and were excited to have a new playmate.

I could see the storm approaching from the corner of my eye. I downed one last gulp of nectar and turned to face the music.
"All right, mister. Start talking. This better be good. Tell me why I shouldn't just pack up and leave you right now."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ren - Gen 5 Ch 7

I stared in surprise at my in-box. An e-mail from Mel? I hadn't heard a word from him since the night he left, the night of Colt's sixth birthday. Occasionally there would be vague rumors down at the station of a pale ebon-haired beauty and her handsome chestnut-haired escort, moving up in the shadowy underground world of the Bridgeport Syndicate, but I'd had no contact with him, until today. I clicked to open the message.
"Wedding Pics.
Sorry I didn't shoot you an invite, but I didn't think Maureen would let you come anyway."

Ceremony at Plasma 501

Ceremony again

Dancing at the reception

Toasting the bride

Honeymoon- Hotel in Al Simhara

Sightseeing at the Pyramids

I think this was the Sphinx

Hanging out at the local watering hole

Showing the bartender how to make a decent drink

El likes my big snake (wink wink) LOL

El's favorite - she made me send it
PS - Come visit sometime

Some of that old restlessness stirred in me again, as I studied the photos. It sure would be nice to see Mel again. Might be kinda exciting to meet some of the Bridgeport nightwalker community. Besides, I still have those blasted urns down in the old crypt that I can't find a home for, and Elvira did mention that she recognised that ancient map down there. Suddenly my reverie was broken by an urgent call echoing from a long ways away.
"Daddy! Daddy! Come 'ere quick!"

It was Heather. I followed the sound of her cries all the way down to the old crypt.
"Heather, honey, what are you doing down here again? Is everything okay?"
"They're still waiting, daddy. You promised you'd take them home, but you didn't do it."
I sighed.  Heather is showing all the signs lately, of having inherited the family 'gift'. 

"What do you mean, sweetie?"
She continued in an exasperated tone,"You know what I mean, daddy. Grandma freed them, and they are happy for that, but they still want to go home."
I knew she was right, I had put this little chore off long enough.

My only lead at the moment was the old map, and for that I needed to see Elvira. But I know Maureen will never agree to me visiting Mel; she blames him for 'corrupting' me, or some such nonsense. She had been ecstatic when I had informed her he'd moved out of town for good.

So I put on my best innocent face.
"Hey babe, I need to run to Bridgeport for a few days, need to do some research for an important client. Do you want me to bring you back anything?"
"Well, I do need some art supplies, that I can't find here. Let me make you a list."
"Great, and as soon as I get back, we'll leave for France, sound good?"

So that is how I found myself, standing in the lobby of a high rise apartment building, scanning the list of names. Ah, here it is - "Slayer, Meloire & Elvira". At least he took her name. I'd hate to have the family name associated with the syndicate - bad for business.

"Hey bro! Glad you could make it!"
"Good to see you again, too, Mel."
"Come on up, let me show you our place!"

"Let me make you a drink while El is finishing getting ready."
"This drink is amazing."
"Why thanks, bro. Have another why don't cha."

After a few of Mel's amazing drinks, we headed out to the Plasma 501. I was nervous at first, but noticed the guy at the end of the bar actually eating nachos, so that calmed me down a bit. We had a few more drinks, which calmed me down even more, then Mel excused himself to head to work.

After a while, Elvira pulled me out onto the dance floor. I don't remember how long we danced, or much about the ride home.

But once back at the apartment, we were both in a uproariously good mood.
"Come on, Ren, let's get in the hot tub!"
She led me into the next room, past a martial arts training area, to the hot tub, both of us giggling and laughing the whole way.

I tried to change into my swim suit, but she wagged her finger at me, laughing.
"Nuh uh uh.. no swim suits allowed."
"Uh... what about Mel?"

"Silly Ren, Mel isn't going to care. He knows my heart belongs to him. I'll tell him all about it tomorrow, and he'll laugh at you, wait and see. Now, come here!"
"Eep! What are you doing?"
She just laughed. I thought of Maureen for a second, but things get really fuzzy after that....