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[personal profile] orikes


“Sweep first before your own door, before you sweep the doorsteps of your neighbors.”
~Swedish Proverb





THE SAWYER FAMILY

"Holly, why are you wearing those ratty clothes? Why didn't you put on the pretty dress I picked out for you?" Mari gave a hissing sound of frustration, "And you took the barrettes out of your hair and now it looks like a rats nest. Do really want all the kids at your new school to think you're a boy? Sometimes I think you want people to hate you!"

*click*

Great. Just great. I finally figure out how the timer on the camera works and my sister decides to pick a fight with her kid right then and there.




"Lay off, Mom! I like the way I look." Holly cringed away from her mother's hand as she reached out to smooth down unruly hair. In a lot of ways they acted more like sisters than mother and daughter, but there were reasons for that. "I don't want to wear a fucking dress."

"Holly! Watch your mouth!" Mari reached out and pinched the kid's arm, "Who taught you to say that!? Tell me now. Did you learn that from that boy across the street?"

"OW! That hurt!" Holly jerked out of her mother's reach, "You said it to Jason when he kicked us out of his house. That's where I heard it."

I'd had enough, "Leave her alone, Mari."




"Rebe, where are you going? She needs this picture for school. I don't want her teacher to think I'm a horrible mother because I forgot to make sure she finished her assignments." Mari reached out and grabbed my shoulder as I stomped away.

Brushing her hand off, I turned and shook my head, "Is that all you care about? What her teacher thinks of you? Why? Is he hot? Figure maybe he can be your next White Knight?" That was probably uncalled for, but what can I say? She is my little sister and always brings the nasty out in me.

Her eyes flashed angrily, but she turned and stomped back into the house, slamming the door behind her hard enough to make the whole porch shake.




Seeing Holly standing there, I grimaced and said, "We can get a picture later. Why does your teacher want family pictures anyway?"

"Something about sharing what things are like at home outside of school since everything is connected. It sounds like stupid shit to me."

Arching an eyebrow, I looked down my smirking little niece. In a lot of ways, she reminded me of the smartass I was as a kid. Swearing to shock people and get their attention is a pretty common tool for kids like me and her.

Shaking my head, I tried to remember how I got myself into this situation.




Up until a week ago, I'd been happily living the life of a swinging bachelor. I'd gotten my own place and fixed it up as a nice little party pad for two. Even if I lived alone, I never wanted for company. It wasn't that hard to find a pretty face with soft curves looking for a good time.

It doesn't hurt that my face, or at least my ass, is starting to become more recognizable. Being a back-up dancer isn't as glamorous as it sounds, but I've been in enough music videos and commercials that I can usually name something I've been in that they've seen. Occasionally I have to clarify that I do prefer women to men, but I haven't met a woman yet that I couldn't talk into my bedroom.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not some player bastard looking for a quick wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am. I never make promises I don't intend to keep, so every single one of them knows up front that this is a casual thing between friends. If some of them think they can convert me into a Mr. to match their Mrs., that isn't my problem.

All in all, life was pretty good.




Then I got the call. Mari's latest loser had tossed her and the kid out on the street.

Our parents had always assumed I'd be the one in trouble with some girl before I got out of high school. Mari was always the good girl. Straight A's, captain of the girls soccer team, and on student council, she was supposed to go far. When she came home knocked up at the age of sixteen, it turned our folks' world upside down.

For a while before and after Holly was born, the 'rents tried to help her out, but Mari chafed at the rules they imposed on her. Eventually there was a blow up big enough to be seen from space. Mari took Holly and moved in with some guy and hasn't spoken to our folks since.

Unfortunately, Mari's taste in men isn't the best. From the idiot that knocked her up straight on to this last guy, she chooses the biggest losers I've ever seen. She bounces from one to another, always looking for her Prince Charming. No one could live up to that dream, but she somehow gets the guys that are as far from that ideal as possible. They make me look like good husband material.




Anyway, they didn't have anywhere to go, so I told them they could stay here. I cleaned out my studio upstairs and turned that into a bedroom for Mari. There was a large, walk-in closet that I converted into a bedroom for Holly. I thought the kid would be pissed, but she was thrilled. I found out that at the last asshole's house, she'd given a corner behind the living room couch for a sleeping bag and that was it.

Mari might deserve the trouble she got, but it really pissed me off that Holly suffered for her stupidity. I'll admit it right here and now that I've got a soft spot for the kid.




As I said, Holly is definitely more like me. Trouble incarnate.

Before it sunk in that I was going to have to change how I handled my night life, I'd invited one of my lady friends over after work. Holly decided that I was spending too much attention on my date and jealousy reared its ugly head. From across the room, I watched her sneak up behind my date and scuff her feet against the floor.

I didn't have a clue what she was doing.




Next thing I knew, my plans for the evening had changed. My date had jumped about a mile high from the electric shock. She'd stormed off complaining that her hair was ruined and I'd better pay for her next visit to a salon.

I should have been pissed, and probably was for a few seconds as I realized I wasn't going to be getting any that night, but after I thought about it, I wanted to know why no one had ever shown me that trick when I was a kid.




I figured as long as Holly was living with me, I could at least make sure Mari didn't screw her up any more than she already had. Not that I'll have much say if Mari decides to move, but a guy can hope.

See, Mari has this complex where she's constantly searching for Mr. Right. As a kid in a pink dress and pigtails, she read all those damned fairy tales and ate up every word. Somehow, she never quite caught onto the fact that while those are nice stories, they aren't exactly reality. She's probably been through about a dozen "princes" since she got knocked up by the asshole who was supposed to be the childhood sweetheart she rode off into the sunset with.

What's bothering me about our current living situation is that it didn't take her long to find the next frog candidate for prince.




I suppose some people might call me a hypocrite for frowning on my sister's antics. I mean, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, or some shit like that, right? What right do I have to tell her she shouldn't sleep with these guys when I'm bringing home a different lady every other night?




Well, I suppose it's a difference in philosophy. I want a little friendship, a little fun, and a whole lotta uninhibited squealing as I show a lady how it's really done in the bedroom. She wants a damned white horse, shining armor and a pretty gold ring on her finger. If she just wanted a husband and a partner, that would be one thing, but she wants the dream. An unachievable dream.

Especially considering the guys she picks.




The first halfway decent looking guy that pays attention to her when she's on the lookout for love becomes her obsession. She's a pretty girl (we've got some damned fine genes if I do say so myself), so it's not unusual that a guy gives her a second or third look. Her problem is that once they give her that interested look, she builds them up as some sort of super hero and pursues them for all she's worth.

Usually she gets exactly what she wants. Sometimes there's a ring involved.





But it's rarely a ring that means anything good for her.

This jackass is the fourth or fifth married guy she's latched onto. She found him at Holly's school a couple of days after they moved in with me. I think she was originally aiming towards Holly's teacher, but he proved to be more interested in me than her, so she quickly switched her sights. This one has a shiny PHD after his name which made her eyes light up. Supposedly he's some hot shot marine biologist, but somehow she doesn't see that little band of gold on his ring finger as an obstacle to what she wants.




As far as he's concerned, well, I know his type. He may dress in a blazer with patches on the elbows and be able to talk the talk about some sea cucumber's mating habits, but underneath it all is a wolf in egghead's clothing. He might enjoy the prestige of his title and the illusion of a perfect family, but he's also just as happy to find a pretty young thing willing to do whatever he wants and not bitch at him for leaving his socks on the floor or coming home late.




She doesn't see it, but I do.

Oddly, I hope strings her along for a while. She'll keep sniffing after him as long as she thinks there's some chance he'll sweep her off her feet, but there's no way he's going to want to give up his picture perfect family illusion just to replace it with Mari and someone else's kid, no matter how hot my sister is. Meanwhile, maybe I can provide a little stability for Holly.

Yeah, how's that for a joke? Me being the stable influence in a kid's life. If my mother was dead, she'd be rolling over in her grave. Hell, she's probably looking over her shoulder right now, wondering what that chill up her spine was.




What's even better about this situation, and I mean that sarcastically, is that one of Holly's best friends in her class is the asshole's daughter. She's a bubbly little cutie named Tisha. Since the day she started school here, Holly's been bringing Tisha home from on the bus.

Oddly, I've never heard her ask to go over to Tisha's house. It makes me wonder if the home situation there is already a ticking time bomb. While I've tried to set things up halfway decent for Holly, this is still a pretty lame place for kids to hang out. There's no home baked chocolate chip cookies, and other than the playground equipment I bought with last show's bonus, there's not really any good toys here.




If Tisha doesn't want to bring Holly home to her little nuclear family, it's probably because it's about to become nuclear in the big badda boom way.

It makes me worried about how this is going to play out for Holly. If things go south between Tisha's parents because of Mari, that's going to put a strain on her friendship with Tisha. I'd hate to see something like that happen to the two kids. There's no damn good reason either of them should be casualties of this little war, but you know that's how it's going to shake down.




I suppose the good thing is that Holly's like me and doesn't put all her eggs in one basket. The two of us are outgoing enough that we're always on the lookout for new people to meet. Me, I'm looking for the pretty ones that'd be fun to spend some time with, but she's just looking for more friends. Tisha may be her best friend so far, but there's a few other kids living nearby that she's decided to be friends with. The kid's a whirlwind, so if she decided to be someone's friend, they damn well better roll over, expose their belly and agree with her.




I do have to say that one of the side benefits of being the good uncle is that I've been getting to meet lots of new and interesting people when I head out to pick her up after a play date. I've lived here for a few years, but having a kid really opens doors to getting to know your neighbors.

Who knew there were so many hot soccer moms living so close by?

Bad Rebe. No lusting after the hot married women. Can't hurt to admire the scenery, though, can it?




THE HURLE FAMILY

"Okay, everyone look this way and.. smile!"

Oh man. Only my father would hire a professional photographer for a grade school class assignment. Sure, we've got the money for it, but is it really necessary? I mean, we were only going to be in public school until the private school dad wants us to get into gets its paperwork straightened out. Why bother? Mom must have mentioned she wouldn't mind a new family picture.

"Uhm, young man in the back, could you stop making that face? Let me try again."

Dad turned and looked at Hoss. Who else would be making a face but Hoss? There was no yelling. Just "The Look". Even for Hoss that's all that was needed.

Mom sighed, but said nothing. Eventually the photographer got a picture that didn’t' completely suck, but it felt like it took for freaking ever.

My name is Adam Hurle and my family is a bunch of rich freaks.




I mean, look at me? I am the epitome of cool, aren't I?

Okay, don't answer that.

Back at our old school, I may not have been part of the elite crowd, but I was still a pretty popular guy. I really wish we could have stayed there, but my grandparents passed away and left this creepy monster of a house to my mom. Mom would have been happy selling it and staying at our house in the city, but Dad insisted we move. I heard him telling mom that it was about time the heirs of the Hurle name lived in a place befitting their status.

What a load of crock. But I wouldn't say that to Dad. You just don't do that.




Wheaton Hurle III, a man no one messes with without coming to regret it. Yeah, that's my dad. I heard one of the servants back at our old place call him the Ice King when he thought none of us could hear. It's a pretty appropriate description.

I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm pretty sure my dad loves me and my brothers, it's just he's not some cuddly huggy teddy bear of a dad. He nods approvingly when we do something right and gives 'The Look' when we do something wrong. He's never raised his voice and he sure as hell has never hit any of us. He may not be the dad I would have chosen, but he's what I've got.

And for some reason, Mom seems to love him.




They've got a weird relationship from what I can tell. I mean, they're what I have to measure other parents against, but they can't be normal. I know they care about each other because of little things I've seen here and there. Sometimes I catch him looking at her with a gentle expression that absolutely freaks me the hell out. I've also seen her watching him when he's focusing on some paperwork or something, but they're kind of cold towards one another when there are other people are around.

They met when they were both in college back in the dark ages. Dad has an old family name that didn't have a whole lot of money left to it while Mom came from money so new it squeaked. If you want to know what I think, well, Dad married her for her money but found he actually liked her, but he doesn't know how to have a halfway normal relationship.

He wants to thaw, but yeah, that's not going to happen in my lifetime.




Anyway, Mom's full name is Elsa Marie Waterford Hurle. She was moving up the fast track in SSU's science department when dad supposedly swept her off her feet. I think that getting swept off her feet had more to do with getting knocked up than anything romantic, but who knows. I always wonder if she regrets giving up all that to become a stay-at-home mom. I mean, she seems happy enough. The library in this house is freaking amazing and she's always got her nose buried in a book. If she can't be found in the library, she's out in the atrium where she's set up an art studio.

Mom is really pretty cool all things considered. She's always there to help out with homework when we need it and she bakes a pretty mean cake. That's what you need in a mom, right? She also buffers the worst of Dad's sharp edges.




To give you an idea of what he's like, let me tell you about the Headmaster visit.

So, this guy showed up acting all superior, like he was better than us because we were new in town and were trying to get into his prissy school. I could see him salivating though. He practically drooled over all the old paintings and statues that my grandparents had decorated the drafty old place with. It was like he was trying to calculate in his head how much he could get out of my folks for letting us into his school.

(Honestly, I would have rather stayed in public school. The kids might be sharks, but at least they're not pretentious sharks.)

Anyway, after dinner, the headmaster cornered Dad in the dining room. I was absolutely NOT eavesdropping from the kitchen, but I did overhear the guy suggest to Dad that a private donation would expedite our admission into his prestigious institution.




Dad gave him the look. Steady, cold, staring straight through the guy's skull. Even though I was in the other room, I could hear the headmaster start to sweat. Like I said, my dad never raises his voice, but he doesn't need to.

"I suggest you carefully reconsider your request, Mr. Jitmakusol. Think very hard about what you're asking and who you are asking it of. We may be new in this town, but that does not mean I have not already established advantageous connections which would make your life difficult if my satisfaction was not met by the swift admission of my boys to your institution. Consider your words carefully."

The dweeb quickly backpedaled and we got admitted into his snobby school. Yeah, my dad may be a scary bastard, but he gets things done.




An ironic thing about my family is that Hoss is the one that inherited Dad's name. Technically his birth certificate states that he is Wheaton Alistair Hurle IV. All you have to do is hang with Hoss for about two minutes before you realize how much of a joke that is. He's like the anti-Dad. Actually, he's not like anyone else in this family. Heck, he's my twin brother and we're nothing alike other than the color of our hair.

They're not actually sure which of us was born first, so they flipped a coin and gave the first born son's name to Hoss. I guess better him than me, but I gotta feel sorry for the guy. Dad gives him 'The Look' far more often than Joey or I get it.




Hoss isn't stupid, but he has a real hard time with school. Mostly, I think he's a little too easily distracted. I've heard some of our teachers accuse him of being slow, but it's more that his mind is moving so fast, he can't concentrate on any one thing for too long.

He's my brother and he annoys the crap out of me sometimes, but I really hate it when other people look down on him because he's struggling with something they think he should have gotten without any effort. I mean, I know he's not stupid. Ask about something he's actually interested in, like video games or comic books, and he'll be able to rattle off whatever you want to know. But history? Or math? Or well, anything they teach at school?




Thing is, they don't know the guy like I do. I mean, he may be a total doofus about so many things, but he's the heart of this family. He really looks out for all of us, even Dad. It confuses the hell out of the old man, but Hoss just doesn't seem to get the whole Ice King motif. You should see Dad stiffen up when Hoss gives him a hug. That doesn't stop Dad from giving him 'The Look' when Hoss is screwing something up, but the guy never holds it against the old man.

Hoss is especially good with our kid brother, Joey. I can tell that they're actually closer than Hoss and I are. Sometimes that makes me a little jealous since I'm his twin, I should be close to him, but I really can't stay mad too long. He's Hoss after all.




My baby brother is an odd one. Joey'skind of a mix of both Mom and Dad. He's got Mom's smarts and hunger for knowing stuff, but he's also got that scary intensity that Dad can get. Sometimes I think maybe he should have been the first born. He's a lot closer to what Dad is looking for in a son than Hoss or me.

When Joey got his first report card from the new school, it was the first time he got less than a perfect grade. Mostly it was because he was new and he'd missed things, but that didn't matter to him. He didn't get an A and that was an insult he wasn't going to forget.




Mom tried to explain to him that it wasn't anything to worry about and it wouldn't hurt his final grade which was all that really mattered, but he still seemed like he was plotting the doom and destruction of the teacher that gave him that grade.

Sometimes I worry maybe he's too much like Dad.




Of course, then he shows that he's not Dad at all. Joey is far more social than Dad has ever been. Even when he was pissed at his school for giving him a bad grade, he was still bringing kids home on the bus.

There's a couple of little girls he's brought home to play with, but his best friend so far is Aiden Kates, a little kid that lives behind us. The two of them are almost inseparable when they get together. Even though they've only known each other for a couple of weeks, I sometimes think they act more like twins than Hoss and I do.

I will say one thing, for that Aiden kid...




... his sister is TOTALLY hot.

I decided I was so going to ask her out the minute I saw her. I mean, Tarise Kates has got this gorgeous blond hair and stunning eyes and she dimples when she smiles. Dimples! Not to mention her ass is about the finest I've ever seen. Not that I'd say that to her. I'm a guy, I notice these things, but I'm not going to be the kind of pig that brings them up.

I happen to be suave, debonair, and incredibly cute when I turn on the charm. Everything was going to go exactly how I wanted it to.




Everything, except my brother bringing someone home from school too. Two's company, four is freaking annoying.

How is a guy supposed to woo a pretty girl with two other dudes hanging around being dorks?




I don't know why Hoss decided to befriend this loser. Leo Jackson is an emo wannabe and isn't smart enough to know you shouldn't wear guyliner and smile at the same time.

Hoss probably met the guy in one of his classes. Remedial math, I bet. Or it could have been art. Hoss likes the artsy types. I suppose I shouldn't be too hard on Hoss since he's a weirdness magnet anyway, but it would be nice if he could be friends with someone who wasn't so annoying.




Luckily, Tarise only had eyes for me.




"Did you want to work on that history project now, Adam?"

Okay, so maybe it wasn't my manly charms alone that captured her attention. I knew she was the one for me when I saw her in our history class. Luckily, we were assigned to be partners on the same project. I guess the teacher thought that since we were both new, it made sense to pair us up. My suggesting it to him didn't have ANYTHING to do with it, I swear.




We did enough work on the project to make it seem like we weren't completely fooling around and then I showed her around the place. The house may be kind of creepy and big, but it's got some cool stuff. The game room especially. I'm hoping for Christmas Dad'll get us a big tv and a console game system to go with the room, but for now it's got an awesome pool table and other stuff.

For a while, we played pool and I started to get my flirt on, but Hoss and Leo showed up. I tried to suggest showing Tarise something else, but the three of them decided to hang out and gossip about school and stuff.




Y'know, if I'm being honest, I have to admit I've got it bad for this girl. There wasn't anyone back at the old school like her and there certainly isn't anyone in the new school even close. Not only is she pretty, but she's smart. I might like to look at a pretty girl who's got nothing going on upstairs, but it wouldn't go anywhere long term. Tarise is pretty much everything I've ever wanted, and I don't want to screw this one up.




That's why it yanked my chain so hard when Leo sat down next to her when we all hung out after school. Right next to her, knee brushing hers and his attention riveted on every word she said. He even touched her a couple of times. He tried to act like it was an accident, but fuck that. He was practically caressing her hand and her knee as we all sat there talking.




I thought I was going to dive across the room and strangle him right then and there. I mean, dude. It's kind of obvious that I've been trying to get with her, but he totally blew past all that and was acting like she was the only other person in the room.

Just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore and my brain was going to start bleeding out of my ears if I had to listen to him for one more minute, he got a call that said he had to go home.

As Hoss walked him to the door, I knew I had to make my move or lose her to someone else. It was time to be debonair.




"This project has been a total lameroid, but I'm glad we're working on it together, Tarise." The words came out in a rush, even though I was trying to be suave, "I mean, there's lots of smart people back at school, and I'm sure I could have done okay with anyone, but they wouldn't have been as smart as you, and that idea you had about putting together a diorama of a battle scene with my old army men was pretty damn cool and should get us some bonus points with the teacher. I bet no one's going to think of that. I've had fun hanging out with you today and we always get along great in class, so I was wondering if maybe you'd want to go see a movie or something this weekend. I mean, if you wanted to, and there was something decent playing which may not be, but we could see, and even if there isn't, it might be cool to just go get an ice cream or something."

"Whoa, slow down, Adam." Tilting her head, she looked at me with those pretty, pretty eyes, "Are you asking me out?"

"Uhm… yes?"




For a moment, I think the world froze. I know my heart stopped at the very least. I stood there looking at her, she stood there looking at me. Our eyes connected, and it was like.. well, it was pretty fantastic.

"Sure. That sounds like fun." Tarise grinned and punched my shoulder, "I'll see you at school tomorrow."

SHE TOUCHED ME!




I told you I was cool, didn't I? Well, this cool dude has got a girlfriend. How do you like them apples?




THE KATES FAMILY

Why is it that sometimes everything's going great and then you crest the roller coaster hill and take a screaming death dive you're sure you're never going to survive?

I'm Tarise Kates and this is a picture of me and my brother and sister. Kia's the older one and Aiden's the little one. If you couldn't figure it out already, I'm the blond in the middle. Our parents died in a car accident when Aiden was a baby, so Kia became our guardian. It's not an ideal situation, but things were going pretty good for us.




At least, I thought they were. Everything had been going great and was just how I wanted it to be until life threw me a few speedy curve balls. Now I'm still picking up the pieces from the broken window. Okay, maybe that made no sense, but let me just tell you how things were and what they became.




Kia may be our guardian, but she's not really the mothering type. She makes sure we've got everything we need as far as food, clothes and a roof over our head go, but she's not really looking out for our future. I can't really hold it against her. I mean, she was barely out of high school when she had to take on the job of raising us. As a result, Aiden and I are mostly left to fend for ourselves.

Now, I know I'm smart and if I can get the right connections, I'll be able to really make something of myself, but Aiden is a completely different story. He's a freaking genius. I'm not saying that as some overprotective and blindly proud sister. There have been times when he's helped me with my math homework and he's always waiting for me to be done with my text books so he can read them.

Ultimately, I decided that it would do us both a world of good if we got into private school. They might be able to challenge him better and I'd stand a good chance of getting the scholarships I need to get into good school.




I was determined we were going to do this right. We were already handicapped by not having parents to do it for us, but I'd done my research. I knew exactly what we needed to do to impress the school's headmaster and get in.

First Aiden greeted him at the door and then he gave a tour of the house. It's small, but Kia's got it decorated nice enough and I made sure everything was clean. Then it was time for dinner.




I may not be able to afford or make lobster, but I've got my grandmother's spaghetti recipe which is out of this world. Maybe he was hoping for something a little more posh, but he didn't complain about the taste. I was very careful about getting Grandma's sauce and meatballs just right.




After that, I just had to schmooze a bit and explain again why my parents weren't around. I think the orphan thing earned a few pity points and tipped the scales in our favor.

We were private school students and I knew things were on their way up.




I could have kissed Kia for staying out of the way. It helped that she works afternoons and evenings most of the time and wasn't even home, but she promised she'd stay out of the way if she was home. I mean, I suppose if the Headmaster were a pervy old guy, it might have helped, but I didn't want to chance it.



See, Kia is obsessed with one thing. Sex.

I suppose it's got to be fun with the way she goes at it, but sometimes the noises coming down from her loft are a little intense. There was one time when I was still a kid and Aiden was a baby that she had a guy over and I thought he was hurting her. I ran upstairs to protect my big sister and.. well, let's just say I got an eyeful of complete inappropriate. She's tried to be a little better about keeping things from me and Aiden, but we know.

Thing is, she's all about the chase. She sees a man she's attracted to, and nothing's going to stop her until she gets him just where she wants him.




Once she's had him, though? It's like a switch is flicked off. I can't tell you how many phone calls I've fielded from her ex-lovers wanting to know why she won't call them back. Nothing's more pitiful than an adult crying on some teenager's shoulder because the girl he likes won't call him back. It has me convinced that high school is never really going to end.

Regardless, she behaved during the headmaster visit, so I was happy.




The next awesome thing to happen was Adam. Not only was transferring to a private school good for my academic career, but it was great for my social life.

Adam is a fun guy to hang out with and I was pretty sure he was totally into me. He might not have been the cutest guy at the new school, but he was easy enough on the eyes. On top of that, his family is loaded. You should see their house.

I can see it from our back porch. It's a huge, gorgeous old house that I've lusted after ever since we moved in here with Kia. The old folks that lived there died last year, so it was empty for a little while before Adam's family moved in. I guess they were his grandparents or something and left the house to his mom.




Adam and I had been working on a group project for school, so one day I invited him to come home with me. I knew that Kia would be at work and we'd have a coupe of hours alone before Aiden got home from school.

Playing it cool, I got into my bathing suit and took him upstairs to show him Kia's hot tub. It was kinda funny how nervous it made him. We were only in the hot tub for about two minutes before he made an awkward joke and quickly climbed out.

For a second, I was afraid I'd misread things and he didn't like me that way.




He got all weird when I asked him what was wrong. How could I have been so wrong about this whole thing? I was so sure he was into me.

For a moment, he stood there and stammered, not looking me in the eye. I didn't know whether to scream at him or start crying, but instead of thinking about it, I just did it.




I kissed him.

He started to say something, but I didn't let him get it out. I just leaned forward and kissed him quick before I could change my mind.

I brought him up to the hot tub because I wanted him to kiss me and Kia always makes out with her guys in the hot tub. When he freaked out, I really didn't know what to do. What I really wanted was for him to kiss me, but for some reason he got cold feet.

So, I did the only thing a girl could do. I kissed him first.




After that, he didn't have any problem kissing me back. It was awkward at first, but he's a quick learner. With a little practice, Adam turned out to be a really good kisser. Things got pretty hot and heavy between us really quick.

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter. We didn't go that far. Yet. Kia might be that kind of girl, but I'm not. Still, it was really nice feeling his arms around me as we kissed. I'm glad we were in our bathing suits too. He's got a nice chest. I think he works out.




In between making out, we talked a little and decided we were officially boyfriend and girlfriend. It was still kind of weird, but in a good way. Maybe he's not going to be Mr. Forever, but Adam is pretty darn nice for a first boyfriend.




After that, though, things started going down hill. It all started with my first bad report card.

Adam came home from school with me most days because we didn't have to worry about his twin brother tagging along. Hoss is nice, but a third wheel is a third wheel. For a while it was really awesome, but he was there when I got the bad news.

Apparently one of my teachers decided that the work I'd been doing in public school wasn't good enough, so he failed me for my first quarter at the new school. I was pissed. I mean, what the hell? What kind of teacher does that?




If that wasn't bad enough, I ended up burning my grandmother's spaghetti recipe that night. Kia was working late as usual and Aiden had gone over to a friend's house, so it was just me and Adam. I thought I'd make him a nice romantic dinner.

Unfortunately, we got too caught up in making out in the hot tub (which is pretty awesome, so I know why Kia does it) and I forgot I'd left the sauce simmering.




Adam hated it. I mean, he took one bite and nearly threw up all over the table. I was completely mortified. He'd been hearing me go on and on about how good my spaghetti was and how it got me into private school and then I go and burn the whole thing.




He tried to be nice and eat it, but after a while, he couldn't pretend. I was pissed at myself, but he must have thought I was angry at him because he left right after dinner. Later on, he called me and we talked mushy stuff for a while which made me feel a little better, but I was still disappointed.

Sweet talk on the phone is nice, but it's not as nice as making out as you snuggle on the couch.

I figured things couldn't get any worse.

I was wrong.




Kia's lifestyle finally caught up with her.

I knew she'd been feeling off, but she chalked it up to a bad batch of clams at the restaurant she works at. Bad clams my ass.

And, of course, this being Kia, she had no idea which of her lovers was the father of the baby. I had my suspicions, but there was no way to really tell unless the baby came out looking more like one of them than another.




Once I got over my shock, I was mortified. Kia tried to tell me that everything would be okay. We'd raised Aiden together just fine, so another baby wouldn't be a big deal. Of course, she was going to need my help more than ever and she'd make it up to me and it wouldn't be that big of a change in our lives. Blah blah blah.

Basically, I was expected to be the built in nanny for the baby she was carrying. Rapturous joy.




The worst part was the way she acted when Adam came over to visit. Modesty has never been Kia's strong suit, but flouncing around in a negligee with a baby elephant about ready to burst out any second was completely over the top.

Adam stopped coming around after that. We would still hold hands in school and steal a kiss when we could, but we didn't hang out unless I went over to his house.

Complete SUCK.




I'm not a complete self-absorbed loser. I also kept Aiden in mind during this whole time. Like I said, my baby brother is a genius and he does not need this type of drama in his life. I did my best to shelter him from all of it. He knew that we were going to be getting a niece of nephew soon, but not really much else. Luckily, he didn't really ask any questions.

I was determined he would NOT be traumatized by this whole mess.




Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men...

She decided to go into labor on the one day I had to stay late after school and I couldn't be there. The only person to witness and help during the birth of the baby was Aiden.




So much for keeping him safe from trauma.

I heard him mumbling about icky girl parts and stuff afterwards. I bet this set his first kiss and first girlfriend back by about three years, if not more. After what he saw, maybe he won't ever want to touch a girl.




So, we welcomed Eloise to the family. Shockingly, Kia didn't drop her.




Actually, Kia was better with her than I thought she would be. I don't think she'll ever get voted in as mom of the year or elected to be president of the PTA, but she handled herself pretty well with Eloise. I guess I forget that she was old enough to do a lot of this stuff for me when I was little and she did more with Aiden than I give her credit for.




There was still a lot I had to help out with, but Eloise made it okay. I mean, yeah, I didn't really want a baby in our lives and I was really peeved at Kia for being stupid and getting pregnant in the first place, but I couldn't hold that against Eloise. Not when she looked up at me with those trusting, big blue eyes. The kid is adorable. I'm pretty sure I can guess which guy is her dad too. I haven't said anything to Kia, though.

Even though she's been good with Eloise, she was quick to get back into the swing of things. I don't think she even waited two nights after Eloise' birth before having a new guy come over.

Just when I thought she was growing up, she went and did something REALLY stupid.




She brought home Adam's father. Adam's MARRIED father. I couldn't believe Kia would do that. When was she going to learn to slow down and think about who she was letting into her bed? Maybe get a little common sense?

Nope. Not this time. She brought a married man home and they fooled around all night long. I mean, did she even think about the fact that this was my boyfriend's father? Did she even bother to get his name and put two and two together?

I've never liked Adam's dad. He's a cold bastard who doesn't have two nice words to say to anyone, let alone his wife or his kids. The last thing I wanted was for him to be messing around with my dumb, gullible, horny sister.

And you know what the worst thing was?




He left in the middle of the night, leaving her a wad of money on the dresser, like she was some common whore.

Kia seemed upset by it all too, but she didn't send the money back. She did call into work and stayed up in her room for a few days. I thought she was depressed or something. I wish that had been the case.




Kia was still playing the recluse when it came time for Eloise to grow up into a toddler, so it fell to me to plan the birthday party. Aiden and I had always hated missing a birthday party, so we decided Eloise was going to get the best birthday party a baby could want. Luckily babies don't have very high expectations. I mostly invited my friends and Aiden's friends, but there was one additional guest I made sure to invite.




Rebe Sawyer. I'm pretty sure he's Eloise's dad. Not that I told him that. I figured if he's smart enough to put it together, good for him. I just wanted to give him a chance to see his kid. That's more than Kia was willing to do. Of course, with as many guys as she sees, she probably didn't even know who the dad was.




Another good thing about the party was that Aiden seemed to finally be over the ick factor from Eloise's birth. It helped that he had his best friend there. It also helped that Kia told him he was going to have to share a room with Eloise until I went to college, so he better get over his squeamishness quick.

At some point, he decided it might be cool to be an uncle. He was the only one in his grade level after all.




Eloise was as cute as a toddler as she was as a baby. Not that I'd expected her to be anything else. The kid was a sweetheart from the moment she was born. I can't complain about the midnight feedings or any of that because she always had a smile for me. I couldn't help but adore her.




I think I've already filled up the memory card on my camera with pictures of her. She's just completely cuteness personified and I'm not one to gush over a baby being cute. Don't get me wrong, I want the dream some day (2.3 children, a dog, a fancy house and a nice car) but I never expected to turn into a soccer mom gushing over her babies.

If the kids I have some day are as cute as Eloise, I just might surprise myself.




I wasn't the only one to notice how cute Eloise was. Just as I figured, Rebe figured it out. She crawled right over to him to introduce herself and he scooped her up to get a better look. All he had to do was see her face to realize that she was his. The expression on his face was an interesting mix of wonder, surprise and anger. He wasn't angry at Eloise obviously. In fact, he positively glowed when he looked at her.

Kia on the other hand, well, the look he gave her may have also had something to do with the revelation of what her current ailment actually was as well as the fact that she'd had his kid without telling him.




"Rebe, what .. what are you doing here?" Kia had come down from her loft and the swell of her belly was showing that she'd screwed up again.

The guy just looked at her and gave a disgusted shake of his head, "At least I know that one's not mine. Are we going to be able to work out a custody arrangement, or do I need to get in touch with a lawyer?"

For a moment, I felt sorry for my sister. She mumbled something and quickly fled back upstairs. Only for a moment, though. This new baby has got to be my boyfriend's half-brother which is going to make things even more interesting for me.

Excuse my French, but fuck interesting sideways.




Of course, that's if Adam's my boyfriend for much longer. Like I said, my life has been a rollercoaster ride downhill at breakneck speed lately. Leo Jackson came to the party too and we were just chatting, but from the look on Adam's face, you'd think we were groping each other senseless.

We're going to have to talk about this, because I'm getting really tired of Adam getting jealous any time I talk with Leo. Leo's got his own mess to deal with and he could use a couple of friends.




THE JACKSON FAMILY

My name is Tisha Jackson. I'm eight years old and this is my family. I'm the short one in the middle.

Leo is my brother. He's the one laying on the ground. I like him a lot. He's a good big brother even if he teases me sometimes.

My mommy's name is Laurel which I think is a pretty name. It's almost as pretty as she is. I think she's the best mom ever, 'cause she gives good hugs, tucks me into bed at night and she makes the best cookies ever. She doesn't look as pretty as she usually does in this picture because she was mad at my daddy.

Daddy's name is Lawrence. He gets mad if someone tries to call him Larry. Daddy is really smart, but he did something really bad, so everyone's been really angry at home. I thought maybe getting the family together to take a picture for school like the teacher asked would be good.




It didn't help.




We got only one picture, then Daddy said something to Mommy and she started yelling at him. She used some bad words that I can't say here. Dad said something back to her, but he said it quiet and I didn't hear him. All I know is that Mommy started crying and ran into the house.

I ran to my secret hiding spot in the tree in the side yard. I was hoping Mommy and Daddy would stop being mad at each other, but what Daddy did was really bad.




He shouldn't have been kissing Holly's mommy like that. Kissing like that is only supposed to happen between mommies and daddies that are married, not mommies and daddies from different families.

My mommy got home from work early because she'd done a good job and they gave her a bonus and told her to go home and celebrate. She got home and found Daddy in the living room with Holly's mommy.

At first I thought Mommy was okay with it, because she just stood there for the longest time, watching Daddy and Holly's mommy make sucking noises on each other's face. Then she saw me sitting in the corner doing my homework and her face turned a really scary shade of red.




She and Daddy started fighting with lots of yelling. Holly's mommy didn't leave, but stayed there and watched as my parents yelled at one another. I've never seen Mommy so mad before, not even the time Leo and I broke her vase playing catch in the house or the time I tried to paint the hallway with my art paints.

I got scared and ran outside.




When I got outside, I stopped and I thought I might cry, but instead I got angry. Why did Daddy have to kiss Holly's mommy when he's got our mommy right here? And why does Holly's mommy have to try and kiss my daddy? I know Holly doesn't have a daddy, but that's no reason to go trying to steal someone else's, is it?

Eventually Holly's mommy and my daddy left together.




I stayed outside for a long time, even after the yelling had stopped. When I started getting cold, I realized that Mommy hadn't told me to come inside like she usually does when it's dark out. I was afraid she might yell at me too, so I snuck real quiet up to the house. When I got to the doors, Mommy was just sitting there.

She had the saddest look I've ever seen on her face. It made me want to cry just seeing her.




I don't want anyone to ever be that sad. Not me, not Leo, not Mommy. Nobody.




I thought I would cry, but then I just got even madder. I was mad at Holly's mommy, but I was also mad at my Daddy. Why did he have to make Mommy so sad? Why couldn't he be happy with us as a family? I don't think he even likes Holly, so why would he want to be her daddy too?




Leo was angry too when he found out, but he cried. He cried and yelled really loud at Mommy when she told him about things.

She didn't tell him what I saw. She just said, "Your father and I are having some issues right now, sweetie, so things are going to be a little tense for a while. Your father will be sleeping in the guest room downstairs until we work things out."

Mommy said it all really nice and reasonable, but Leo's smart. He knew there was more to it than that. He said some bad words and Mommy sent him to his room.




Before he went upstairs, though, I gave him a hug. I didn't want him to be sad and I hated seeing him cry. He scared away the monsters under my bed, so if I could scare away some monsters for him, I'd do it too.




For a while, Mommy and Daddy tried to pretend everything was normal. We tried taking the family picture for my class, and we ate together like a normal family, but it was always really quiet. No one talked anymore. And at night, Daddy would go downstairs to the guest room in the basement and Mommy would go upstairs to their bedroom they used to share.

I kept hoping that they would stop being mad at one another, but that didn't happen. One night at dinner, it got really bad and everything changed after that.

It all started because Daddy told Mommy that Mari makes better soup. I think Mari is Holly's mommy's name.




Mommy told me and Leo to get out of the kitchen, which we did, but we didn't go far. We both hid in the hallway and listened. Mommy told Daddy that if he liked 'her' food so much better, he should just go live there.

That's when Daddy got really mean. He called Mommy a 'fridge bitch'. I think he said fridge. That's what the word sounded like. It was a really mean insult because Mommy gasped and asked him if he'd always felt that way.




Daddy said that he did and he didn't know why he'd married such a 'stupid cow', especially since she was no good in bed. He said he'd seen blow up dolls that were a better lay than Mommy.

I didn't understand what he was saying since I have lots of dolls, but none of them are the kind you blow up, and what does someone have to do to be good in bed? I mean, you just need to lay there to sleep, right? It sounded silly, but it was really making Mommy cry. Leo tried to make me leave, but I just stayed where I was. Leo was shaking, he was so angry.




I could hear Mommy's sobs for what seemed like a long time, but then she finally said something back to Daddy.

"GET OUT. Get out, you bastard. I don't care if you are the father of our children, you're not welcome here. We're through." Mommy was trying not to cry, but I've never heard her sound so strong, even if I hated what I was hearing her say, "You'll hear from my lawyer tomorrow. We're done, Lawrence."




I don't know why, but Daddy was surprised. Suddenly he sounded a whole lot nicer, "Laurel, baby, don't be so hasty. You know how people say things they don't mean when they're angry. We can work this out. There's no reason for me to move out."

If Daddy had said anything like that before that fight, he might not have had to move out.




"You meant every evil word, Lawrence Jackson. The only thing I regret is that I didn't know sooner how you really felt. Go live with your slut or go live out of a shopping cart in a back alley for all I care. Just get out of my house. I'm not going to let you ruin my life or the lives of our children any longer."

Daddy tried to beg, but Mommy wouldn't listen. Part of me was glad. Daddy wasn't nice anymore. I didn't like him saying mean things to Mommy.

He packed a suitcase and called a cab and left.




Mommy waited until he was gone and then she just sat on the kitchen floor and laughed and cried at the same time. It was kind of scary. Leo made me go to bed for real after that. He took me upstairs and tucked me in and told me he'd take care of Mommy.

I believed him. He's a good big brother.




After that, things got a little better. It didn't feel so ugly in house any more, but we had to be careful of the garbage can. After Daddy left, we had problems with the garbage can getting knocked over all the time. Mommy said it was raccoons, but they wouldn't have made Leo get that angry look on his face.

I know it wasn't raccoons, but I'm a little kid so they lied to me.

I bet it was a Bigfoot. Holly says they're real 'cause she knew a kid in her old school who saw one.




For a while it was just Mommy, me and Leo. We didn't bring any friends home from school 'cause it was hard to tell people why our Daddy wasn't living with us anymore. Eventually Mommy said that enough was enough, it was time to live our lives again.

Mommy worked with a man named Mr. Long that would sometimes come home after work with her. He dressed kinda funny, but he was nice and he told good jokes. I liked him and he was good for Mommy. She said he was a good listener and he didn't try and push her. I don't know why he would push her anyway, since that would be mean and he's not a mean person.




Mr. Long started coming around a lot, and Mommy started having me set the table with an extra plate in case he was there. Sometimes when he was around, Mommy wouldn't be as sad and we would talk like normal people at dinner again.

Well, almost all of us.




Leo got kinda funny after Mr. Long started coming over more often. I don't mean funny like I would laugh, but funny as in weird. I don't know why he didn't like Mr. Long since he made Mommy smile and not be so sad, but he didn't.

At first, I think I was the only person that noticed, but then Mommy started to see it too. She said he needed to stop being a territorial puppy. Leo got really mad and that made Mommy sad again.




She hugged him and promised that she wouldn't rush into anything. That's another thing I'm not sure what they were talking about. Rush into what? When I asked, they wouldn't tell me, but Mommy pulled me into the hug too.

Sometimes I wonder what Daddy's doing. I'm still mad at him for being mean to Mommy and for trying to have another family with Holly's mommy, but I miss him sometimes too. He told the best stories before bedtime.




Mommy says he's happier where he is. I guess so. I just..

..I wonder sometimes if he misses me too.

____________________________________________________________
NOTES:

- First off, this series is not taking the place of The Pseudo Legacy. I needed a little bit of a break from worrying about writing that, but didn't want to give up playing the game. One thing lead to another and Isla Lostundo was recreated. It probably won't be updated with too much frequency, but when I do play, I will probably update in a similar style to this.

- Isla Lostundo was my first neighborhood. This is technically the third incarnation. Most of the sims you see in the four families are based very closely on the sims from the original hoods that originally had those names. This particular hood is set up almost prosperity style, but without all the specific rules on how to start or how to create the initial families.

- In some ways, this was a writing challenge for me. I have gotten so accustomed to posting scenes or reshooting scenes I didn't get pictures for the first time, I wanted to get back to the roots of playing and crafting that into a story. As a result, the only posed pictures you see in this entire chapter are the initial family portraits. Everything else is taken directly from game play.

- Writing first person was also a challenge, but one I think I will continue with this series. It'll give me a chance to explore a different way to introduce personalities and their perspectives on the world around them.

I hope you enjoyed it!
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