The Bloomer Legacy: 9.37 Good Guys

Ralph made his way to the building at a steady determined pace. He seemed very aware of the doll in his pocket. He couldn’t quite explain why this silly rag thing could seem so menacing at times. It was only a doll. He was almost sure that they’d be disappointed once he delivered it. But it was a job he got hired to do, so there was no point thinking about how valuable or not the doll might be.

2

He stopped in front of the police station, looking over his shoulder casually. Mission complete. Almost.

At the very least, he had some extra scoop in case they didn’t think the doll was enough. And photos.

It should do, he nodded to himself.

3

He entered the building, joining the queue of civilians there to report petty thefts. He shook his head. Like there was much going on in Newcrest in that aspect. So far, anyway.

He spotted a familiar face right in front of him and chuckled to himself.

4

“Hey there, Beavis,” he greeted Marvin jokingly. “Or was it Butthead? I can never remember…”

“Ralph,” Marvin gritted through his teeth. “What are you doing here? Got in trouble with the law? Wouldn’t be surprised.”

“I assure you I have a pretty good reason for being here. Better than you, I bet.” Ralph turned his attention to the receptionist. “Pleasure to see you, as always, Becky.”

“Hey, I wasn’t done reporting the crime I saw,” Marvin interrupted.

“Oh come on, I’m sure the police officers have more important things to do than track down whoever egged your house, Marvin…”

5

Marvin grew crimson and stormed out.

“Nice seeing you,” Ralph called after him. The receptionist giggled.

“Wait, did his house actually get egged?” Ralph asked Becky. “I was just kidding…”

6

“Looks like you hit a nerve… or two,” Becky laughed.

“Oh well,” Ralph shrugged. “I’m here to see the chief.”

“I’ll let him know,” Becky nodded. “You want to sit down until he’s ready for you, Ralph?”

“Oh I think he’s ready for me now,” Ralph gave her a charming smile and walked right inside the office area.

“Hey!” She yelled after him. “You’ve got to follow the rules…”

“That’s not how I got this job,” Ralph laughed, disregarding her.

***

7

“Fantastic work Ralph,” the chief praised him after Ralph finished recounting the events of the meeting at the barn. “You’ve gotten enough of their trust to gather all the information we needed, and what’s more, you’ve got evidence.” He nodded contently.

“I’ve got plenty of pictures of the place too,” Ralph told him. “Should be able to draw out a map of the place.”

“Perfect.” The chief smiled. “I assume you’ve brought the doll?”

8

“This thing?” Ralph pulled the doll out and shook his head. “I’m not too sure why the guy made such a big deal out of it, to be honest. I mean, it did a weird thing when I first got it, but other than that… it’s just a doll, right?”

The chief was looking at the doll with intrigue Ralph didn’t seem to share.

9

“There might be some worthwhile stuff in the attic there, though,” Ralph continued. “So even if this is not exactly what you’re after, it might not be a complete waste of time…”

“A waste of time?” The chief laughed. “Ralph, we’ve been trying to the voodoo doll smuggling gang for ages! We’ve been onto them here in Newcrest for a while, but couldn’t find the Willow Creek source.”

“Voodoo, huh? Is that what this thing is?” Ralph raised an eyebrow. “But it seems so… harmless.”

10

“I assure you it’s not. And we can finally bust the operation, because of your efforts.” The chief smiled.

“Just doing my bit,” Ralph shrugged.

“Don’t be so modest,” the chief scolded him. “Thanks to you, Newcrest will remain the safe place its founders have intended it to be. Your family must be proud.”

11

“My family?” Ralph sounded perplexed.

“Don’t play stupid, I’ve heard you’ve gotten engaged,” the chief smiled. “You’re practically a Bloomer now. Your fiancé must be thrilled you’re following in her ancestors’ footsteps. Saving the town much like Isaac Bloomer once did.”

“Oh yeah, that… um yeah, definitely… thrilled.” Ralph said evasively.

12

“You should be proud of yourself too, of course,” the chief reiterated.

“Absolutely,” Ralph agreed distractedly. “So, about my reward…”

***

13

“Lottie! I’ve got a huge surprise for you!” Ralph slammed the door open as he barged in.

Carly didn’t even have a chance to put down the book she was reading; he picked her up and twirled her around the room in a goofy dance.

“Someone’s excited,” she giggled.

14

He planted a kiss on her lips. Carly forgot all about laughing. And her book. Every time…

“You should be excited too,” He told her when their lips finally parted.

“Should I now? Do tell!”

15

“Have you thought about our honeymoon yet?” Ralph asked conspicuously.

“Our honeymoon? We’ve barely started planning the wedding…”

“Well I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve got something really awesome planned. It’s something you’ve always wanted to do…”

“You might be getting a bit carried away,” she chuckled. “I don’t think we can afford much more than a camping trip to Granite Falls. Which would be lovely, though,” she added. “They’re meant to have some interesting collectibles there!”

16

“Yeah, well I was thinking a bit bigger than that.” Ralph could barely contain himself. “Like, very rare collectibles. Somewhere you’ve always wanted to explore…”

“Don’t tease Ralph! You know we won’t get to visit a proper archeological dig for years!” Carly sighed. “One day though… pyramids and excavations and…”

She stopped herself. “See what you’ve done to me! I’m already getting excited about something that’s way out of reach. You’re so mean!” She laughed.

“Weeell… what if I told you I got us flights to Al Simhara?”

17

Carly’s jaw dropped. “No blooming way!”

“Yes plumming way!” Ralph looked very pleased with himself. “A whole week away, exploring the sights.”

“Oh my plumbob! I can’t believe it! Oooh we have to plan it all out! Aaah! I’ve got to make a list of everything we need to see! Holy cowplant…”

Ralph smiled to himself. She was so adorable when she was excited. He stood up, letting her start planning obsessively.

“Hang on a second…” Carly stopped him.

18

“How could you possibly afford that?” Carly’s face grew serious.

Llamaheads, Ralph thought.

“Oh come on Lottie, is that really what you want to focus on?” He said lightly. “But what about the pyramids, and excavations, and more importantly, all the planning?” He laughed.

19

“Stop trying to distract me,” Carly grew annoyed. “I’m not a child, you know.”

“Sheesh, relax… I was just pointing out that you got excited for about three seconds and then switched straight to assuming the worst…”

“I wouldn’t assume the worst if you just told me how you got the money,” She wrinkled her nose. “What am I supposed to think when you’re avoiding the subject? How could you afford to buy those flights and the engagement ring? I know you don’t earn that kind of money fixing sinks and crafting furniture…”

20

“It’s all ok, Lottie, honest. I just got lucky with a customer, that’s all. Did this really big one off custom job. One of a kind. Something they thought only I could do. So they paid me pretty well.”

“Like a posh chair?”

“Something like that…”

Carly eyed him up and down. She didn’t believe him one bit. “And you didn’t even show me this custom piece? How stupid do you think I am?”

“Yeah, well, I got kind of swept away in it. And to be fair, it didn’t feel that different to me, you know. Not much more special than making your average stool. It wasn’t all that complex, just time consuming.”

“Hmm… and they paid you that much?”

21

“Ok, I haven’ told you the whole truth,” Ralph admitted. “Basically, what happened is I got hired to do pretty much the same job by two parties, so it was almost like a bidding war of sorts. I guess in a way I got paid for the same thing twice…”

“Ralph!”

“I’m not proud of it. Ok, that’s a lie. I kind of am.” He chuckled. “But I don’t really think I’ll be doing anything like this again. It almost got out of hand. And that wouldn’t be worth it. I just… I really wanted to get you the honeymoon of your dreams, you know?”

22

Carly couldn’t help but smile. “Well, I guess as long as you’ve learnt your lesson…” She gave in. “So who got the chair in the end?”

“Well, for the record I think you’d be happy with that,” Ralph said pensively. “It was the nicer customer.”

“At least that’s something,” she shook her head. “The good guys won.”

“Precisely.” Ralph grinned. “You know, you really do need to lighten up though. I mean, who’se going to get all excited about making lists and packing for the Al Simhara trip, hm?”

23

Carly squealed and giggled under Ralph’s sudden tickle attack.

“Do you promise to be more excited and worry less from now on?” He teased.

“Ralph! Stop it!” Carly pleaded. “Fine, you got me!”

They both laughed happily.

24

“Under one condition though, ok?” She added when he finally stopped tickling her.

“Hey, we didn’t agree on that!” Ralph pointed out. “But I’m listening, out of the sheer kindness of my heart.”

“Do you promise to stop holding stuff back from me from now on?” Carly asked. “Since we’re getting married and all…”

“Ok then,” he said begrudgingly. “I promise. From now on, that is,” he added with a smirk.

Carly just shook her head, beaming.

The Bloomer Legacy: 9.36 The View

“Well, here we are,” Hallie said when they got out of the taxi. “Should be that apartment building over there.”

“Check you out, booking the best pad in Windenburg,” Vito nodded approvingly. “Looks pretty swanky.”

“It’s mean to have good views,” Hallie shrugged. “But more importantly, the festival lot is less than a 5 minute walk.”

“So, I’ll get lots of sleep then,” Vito teased her.

Hallie smirked. “Didn’t think you were planning on doing that much sleeping while you’re here anyway.”

Vito laughed. “Let’s go check it out.”

2

The loft apartment they rented was spread across the top two floors, and its windows definitely seemed to take advantage of the building’s position in Windenurg.

“I’ve gotta say it, I’m impressed.” Vito looked around the place.

“There’s meant to be a rooftop terrace too.” Hallie told him.

“Sweet! Race you there!”

Hallie giggled as she saw him dash upstairs.

3

“Woah, look at that.” Vito greeted her upstairs when she caught up with him.

“There’s the Harbour Quarter Festival lot, they seem to be pretty much done with all the lighting,” Hallie observed.

4

“Cool,” Vito attempted to show interest in the festival. “I bet you can see pretty much all of Windenburg from here. So epic. Maybe I can bring Louis here and show him the view, you know, if things go well.”

“Not getting ahead of yourself at all, are you?” Hallie rolled her eyes. “You do know you need to get him to even talk to you at all first…”

“I guess. One step at a time, huh?”

5

“So what is your plan, Vito?” Hallie asked cautiously. “Do you even know where he lives these days? Have an address or a phone number?”

“I figured I’d find him one way or another,” he shrugged. “I can stop by his parents’ house, they’re bound to know where he lives, right?”

“I’m sure they’re dying to share that information with the guy who broke their son’s heart,” Hallie shook her head. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to say it like that. It’s just… it’s a great gesture, coming here for him, but I don’t think you’ve really thought it through…”

6

Vito didn’t seem phased by her comment.

“Well, I do have a bit of a plan, actually,” he informed her with a smile. “When I saw him, the other day, there was still something there. I know it. And I know he must have felt it too. So I want to go to the Bluffs, where it all started. It’s where we first got together… if I’m right, and he did feel something, he’ll turn up there eventually. And if he does… well, then I know I have a chance.”

Hallie gave him a concerned look. “That’s not exactly a solid plan.”

“It’s the only one I’ve got, ok? I’ll go there every day if I have to. It will work out. It has to.”

Hallie sighed. Sounded like a disaster in the making to her, if anything was to even transpire from the gamble. But she didn’t say that. There wasn’t any point in stating the obvious.

“I’m not sure if it will go the way you imagine,” she said instead, “but I do hope it does. I do want you to be happy Vito. Both of you.”

7

Vito smiled. “Thank you. Speaking of being happy… what about you, Hals? What are you going to do? I mean, the world seems to be yours now, with all those gigs and fans and whatnot, but…”

Hallie looked away. “But what?”

Vito studied her face. “Well, I think it’s no secret I don’t have the best observation skills. But we’ve spent the last 24 hours together travelling here. It doesn’t take a mind-reader to see that you’re not happy. What are you going to do to change that? How will we make you happy?”

8

Hallie was perplexed by all this attention coming from Vito. Did she really seem so miserable, if even he out of all people noticed?

She looked across the horizon, wishing she could fly into it. Turning into a cloud, and float about happily. But up here, on the terrace, she could almost pretend she was a cloud, detached from the world. It just took a bit of imagination.

“I don’t know, Vito,” she said finally. “But this view seems like a pretty good place to start.”

9

***

10

The Harbour Quarter Festival awakened the sleepy pier, with crowds flocking to the place. Hallie was loving both the atmosphere and the setting.

11

She swung her head to the beat, jumping up and down occasionally in the booth at the back of the stage. Perhaps another reason why she was enjoying herself so much was because she wasn’t necessarily the centre of attention this time around.

12

She was actually performing with an up-and-coming punk rock band, The Neon Sirens. Hallie had remixed a song of theirs in the past, and the band fell in love with it so much they’d asked her to do a remastered version of their last album.

Being from opposite ends of the world, most of their communication had happened online in the past, but when the band’s manager suggested they perform together at the festival, Hallie jumped at the opportunity.

13

Considering they’d only had a limited amount of time to rehearse, Hallie was surprised by their synergy on stage. And the festival dwellers have definitely noticed it too, the crowd was crazy.

14

Hallie didn’t want it to end. Luckily for her, this was just the beginning, she had DJing slots throughout the festival, and her and The Neon Sirens did not only open the festival, they were also going to close it at the end of the week.

Pays off to be Windenburg’s sweetheart…

Hallie climbed off the stage with a happy grin. She was in a great mood. Perhaps this time around, she could make an exception and actually stick around after the show. She did want to see the other acts at the festival…

15

“Holy plumbob, DJ Eillah!” An overly enthusiastic man with a cowboy hat dashed over to her. “I’ve seen you perform earlier, and I’ve been to many of your other gigs, but I thought you’re notorious for disappearing straight after… I’m a huge fan!”

16

“Oh are you?” Hallie smiled. She never got to interact with the fans much precisely because she had the tendency of taking off as soon as she’d finished her set, and this was a welcome change.

17

“Yeah,” he nodded eagerly. “You don’t often get many DJs like you…”

“Thank you,” she blushed.

“Besides, most DJs seem to be dudes,” he continued with never-ending enthusiasm.

18

“There’s plenty of female DJs out there, and great ones,” she told him. “But I love that you’re taking such a stand for gender equality.”

“Yeah, that,” he nodded. “But also, what I meant is that you’re really hot!”

“What?”

19

“Well, I mean, there are other female DJ, sure, but you’re by far the hottest. Which I guess makes sense, since your mom seemed really good-looking too from what I’ve seen in those old pictures, but bam, you’re smokin!”

Hallie blinked a couple of times. Suddenly, she was reminded of why she usually didn’t like staying back after performing.

20

“Do you even actually like my music?” she snapped at the man.

“Well, yeah, I mean… it’s not exactly like you can tell who the DJ is in most cases by the sound, right? But you really stand out when you do gigs, because you’re way prettier than any of the other ones…”

Hallie’s eyes narrowed. “Wow, I can’t even decide if I’m more offended by you saying my music is indistinguishable or by you treating me like a piece of meat.”

21

“Aww man, I’m really sorry,” the man said quickly. “I really didn’t mean to offend you. You’re amazing! I just thought you should know how beautiful you look, that’s all. I mean, your music is good too, of course!”

Hallie felt awful. Was she really just rude to a fan?

22

“No, I’m sorry,” she told him. “I jumped into conclusions. It’s just… this is a touchy subject for me. But thank you, for appreciating my performances… and, uh, my looks.” She added begrudgingly.

“Wow, you’re so down-to-earth!” The guy enthused. “How cool! Listen, maybe I’m way out of line, but… would you go out with me? Like, on a date?”

23

Hallie had no words. Perhaps this festival wasn’t all that different to her previous experiences after all.

Builds & sims featured:

  • The Neon Sirens are Munterbacon’s boredom cuties (though regrettably I didn’t stick with having people play the correct instruments, I just went with what seemed to match their clothes…)
  • The View was originally made by BombshellBoricua and renovated into the modern loft apartment by Nando
  • The open air concert lot was built by Melylevesque0311

The Bloomer Legacy: 9.35 Jackpot

Ralph reached the barn in Willow Creek and stopped for a little bit. It seemed abandoned, but almost looked quaint in the sunshine. Two things he hadn’t really expected. Was this definitely the right place?

2

He pulled out his phone to check the address. Seemed right.

Time to have a closer look, he thought as he headed over to the building with a shrug.

3

He knew he was supposed to look for a little shop on the side, but he decided to check out the main barn area first. It didn’t seem like anybody was particularly looking after that portion of the building. Not much of interest either.

4

That was, until he noticed all the goodies peeking through from the attic. Ralph grinned and quickly climbed up the stairs – he didn’t particularly trust them not to collapse.

5

A lot of it mainly seemed like junk, but he could definitely come up with a thing or two that he could put in good use in his workshop if this place was actually abandoned.

Then again, Ralph knew that was not the case, and that nothing here was quite as left behind as it may have appeared.

6

Jackpot, he thought to himself as his eyes landed on the stolen ATM. Definitely not your average attic junk. He took a quick screenshot of it with his phone, making a mental note of its location before going back downstairs.

Time to get to business.

7

The little grocery store on the side of the building looked much better maintained than the rest of the property. Still, what a shoddy cover up, Ralph thought. Like anybody would come here and think there was not some shady business going on.

Of course, other than that stolen ATM, there wasn’t much to show for it though. He’d searched around thoroughly and couldn’t find anything. Looked like the setup was thought through quite well.

8

“Morning,” Ralph smiled brightly as he entered the shop.

“You’re late,” the man behind the desk gave him a cold stare.

9

“Aww, come on Tjuv, don’t be so grumpy,” Ralph ignored the man’s tone. “I get you might not be a morning person – neither am I – but you need to lighten up. I’m here, aren’t I?”

Tjuv didn’t look amused. “Perhaps you would have gotten here quicker if you weren’t snooping around the place. Did you really think I don’t have security cameras?”

10

Ralph’s smile temporarily faded, but he managed to restore his composure. “I was just trying to see if I could grab a little souvenir. Something to remember you by, you know. I’m sentimental like that.”

“Enough with this plum,” Tjuv lost his patience. “Have you brought what we agreed on?”

11

“That’s what I admire about you Tjuv, always straight to the point.” He pulled out a small parcel from his pocket and pressed it into the man’s hand.

Tjuv opened it and inspected its contents. He seemed pleased.

“I can’t say I enjoy putting up with your nonsense, but you do always deliver.” He relaxed a little. “We’re ready for the next stage. Follow me.”

12

Ralph was rather puzzled; Tjuv just lead him back into the old abandoned barn part.

“Are you thinking you didn’t look around thoroughly enough after all?” Tjuv asked with an arrogant smirk. “Well, it would appear that’s correct.”

He crouched and pushed the grass and twigs on the floor apart, unveiling a staircase into a hidden basement area.

13

Ralph’s eyes twinkled as he descended into the room. Now this was the real jackpot. “So this is where you get your creepy on!”

“Just shut up already,” Tjuv sneered.

14

So he did, just looking around the room instead. He felt a strange mixture of revulsion and excitement. The ATM he’d found earlier seemed laughable now. Who knew what sort of things had gone on in this creepy basement? He shuddered involuntarily. Still, the discovery was worth it.

Tjuv wasn’t paying too much attention to him. He took out the envelope Ralph brought, delicately scooping out its contents.

Turns out what was in the parcel was a tiny needle. How underwhelming, Ralph thought.

15

Tjuv picked a strange rag doll from the ground, and shoved the needle in its head. The room lit up with a pink glow for a split second, and then everything returned back to normal.

“Excellent,” Tjuv exclaimed with almost childlike excitement.

“Sure,” Ralph shrugged.

16

“You have no idea what this little one is capable of,” Tjuv dismissed him. “But just as well. All you need to know is where to deliver it to.”

“Got it,” Ralph nodded as the man handed him the doll.

17

“I still don’t get what the fuss is about though,” Ralph weighed the doll in his hand uncertainly. “You’re going through an awful lot of trouble for a silly little kids toy…”

Tjuv snickered.

“It is kinda cute, I guess,” Ralph admitted, tickling the toy a little. “Woah!”

18

The doll moved, pointing the needle at him as a weapon.

“Easy there, little one,” Ralph tried to calm it down. Ok, there was definitely something unsettling about this doll.

Tjuv just laughed. “It doesn’t like being underestimated. Try to remember that during your short time together.”

19

“Noted,” Ralph said with uncertainty in his voice. He turned to the doll: “We’re cool, little fellow, right? We’ll be best buds in no time.”

Tjuv let out a deep sigh.

20

“I’ve had it with you,” he told Ralph. “You’ve wasted way too much of my time on what should have been a simple exchange. Just get out of here, now!”

21

Ralph’s eyes narrowed. “Happy to. Just one thing though, where is my pay?”

Tjuv let out another sigh and handed Ralph a hefty envelope filled with Simoleons.

“Always a pleasure doing business with you, Tjuv,” Ralph said coldly and exited the room.

Author’s note: The fantastic creepy barn was created by TheGreatSimphony and can be downloaded here. I also got Tjuv of the gallery, he was made by a simmer named elin11ww and here’s the download link.

The Bloomer Legacy: 9.34 Memory Lane

20 hours earlier

Vito’s heart skipped a beat when he got into the studio that morning. He’d returned! Granted, he looked all sorts of disgruntled and uncomfortable, but that didn’t change the fact Louis was sitting on his couch.

2

“You’ve come back!” Vito blurted out as soon as he walked through the door.

Louis didn’t acknowledge him at first. He was staring at one of the photos on the wall.

“I remember her,” he said. “She went to Magnolia High, didn’t she? She was one of Sera’s friends, right?”

“Uh, yeah, she might have been,” Vito was thrown off guard. “One of the preppy chicks Sera used to hang out with before she became all emo, yeah.”

“What was her name again?” Louis asked.

“I dunno, does it matter?” Vito was starting to look shifty.

“Oh, I remember. Alyssa, her name was Alyssa.” Louis continued, his eyes piercing through Vito. “And you hooked up with her like a day after we broke up.”

3

“Is this why you came back Louis?” Vito’s cheeks were burning. “To scold me for things that happened years ago?”

“You didn’t exactly give me space for my input when they did happen,” Louis shrugged. “But no. I came back because my agent told me I had to go through with this plum job.”

“Well I’m glad you did come back,” Vito smiled sincerely. “It is really good to see you.”

4

“Speak for yourself,” Louis flipped. “Look, I’m not here for a trip down the memory lane or anything. I booked a few jobs here in Newcrest, so I thought it would be a good idea to come for a few weeks, that’s all.

But clearly I was being stupid. Everywhere I go there are reminders of the time you dropped me like a hot potato! So sorry I’m not above and beyond the past as much as you are!”

5

“I’m sorry,” Vito choked. “I wish I could change the way things happened. But I can’t. Can’t we just try to make the best of this? Maybe it’s not a coincidence that we’ve met again, you know.”

Louis rolled his eyes. “Let’s just get this thing over with, so I can go back home to Windenburg… I’m gonna go get changed.”

Vito’s eyes followed Louis towards the changing room and rested on the door. He tried to not think about the fact his former lover was just about to undress in the room right next to him.

Focus, Vito, he told himself. They had a long and awkward shoot ahead of them.

6

He was right. It was virtually impossible to get a decent shot of Louis, definitely not one on brief.

7

Unless the client was going for the ‘pouty in denim’ vibe, they were going to be stuck in the studio for a very long time…

“Let’s try the second look and move back to this one later,” Vito said desperately. “Playful and, uh, sexy.”

Perhaps that would break the ice…

8

Then again, perhaps not.

9

This was going to be a long day…

***

10

Several hours later, they managed to work through the awkwardness somehow. Perhaps it was the exhaustion and desire to get on with it, but the tension between them practically disappeared. They even cracked a few jokes, prompting the occasional familiar smile on Louis’ face.

11

Vito understood exactly why the client wanted to book Louis. He oozed confidence, looked desirable but not cheap. Seeing him in the campaign would make both men and women either want to be with him, or be him… or both.

Vito included.

12

“If your butt doesn’t sell those jeans, nothing will,” Vito joked. Half-joked. It was one nice butt…

“Let’s hope so,” Louis chuckled. “Too bad I don’t get royalties…”

“You should! They should hire you as the brand’s spokesperson. Or rather, spokesbuttocks.”

Louis couldn’t help but laugh. “Only you could come up with something like that!”

13

“Either way, I think that’s a wrap,” Vito told him. “We’ve got plenty great ones to choose from. They’re gonna love it!” He paused. “Hey… I’ve got some juice in the cooler if you want. You know, to celebrate.”

“I guess one can’t hurt,” Louis said with a smile.

14

For a moment, it almost felt like the good old times. When they were the only two people that mattered. Louis told him about how he got into modelling, and Vito talked about the opening of his studio. They shared stories of working with peculiar clients and eccentric models.

15

Of course, one miniscule detail made it palpably obvious that it wasn’t the good old times. Vito was dying to kiss Louis, but he couldn’t. Or couldn’t he? Maybe Louis felt the same way. He moved closer…

16

“What are you doing?” Louis pushed him away.

“Sorry. I thought…”

“You thought what? That I was gonna fall for your plum again because of the briefest moment when things seem good?”

17

“No. Well, yeah, I guess.” Vito drew back. “Look I’m not saying I thought we could just jump back to normal. But I figured maybe we could give it another chance? There’s still something there, isn’t there? Don’t say you don’t feel it?” He almost pleaded.

“It doesn’t matter,” Vito cut him off. “Nothing’s changed. I’m still going back to Windenburg. Again. There’s no way I’m going through this again.”

18

“It wouldn’t be the same,” Vito told him. “We’re not teenagers anymore. I’m not the same…”

Louis looked away, distant. “Well neither am I.”

19

And with that, he stood up and headed over to the changing room, not saying another word.

20

He slipped into his clothes as quickly as he could and made his way out without as much as looking at Vito. He couldn’t bare to.

***

21

It wasn’t the end of the work day for Vito though. He still had one other shoot to get through, a summer dress collection modelled by a pretty girl called Bobbie.

Luckily for Vito, Bobbie was breezing through the photoshoot…

22

…since he could barely pay attention. His mind kept going back to Louis. When was he leaving Newcrest, he wondered? Where was he staying? Had he already gone? Seemed like he was eager to get out of there as soon as he could…

“Hello?” Bobbie interrupted. “What do you want me to do now?”

23

“Err, I think we got it Bobbie,” he said distractedly. “Sorry.”

“Are you sure? I don’t mind staying late to get in a few extra frames. Or you know, to keep you company…” Bobbie winked at him.

24

“I’ve heard you’ve got a great view from that rooftop terrace,” she carried on in what she hoped was a seductive manner. “Would you like to show me?”

“Yeah, no thanks,” Vito shrugged and rushed to the door.

25

She looked after him quizzically.

“Just lock the door on your way out,” he called over his shoulder, already outside of the building. “Or don’t, whatever. I don’t care!”

26

“What the plum?”

27

Vito didn’t stick around to explain himself. He’d had an epiphany. It didn’t matter how long Louis was staying in Newcrest for. Because he didn’t have a chance of winning him back over in Newcrest anyway.

But if he was to tag along for Hallie’s next Windenburg trip…

***

“I ran straight here,” Vito concluded his explanation to Hallie. “But you weren’t home, so I kinda just wandered around all night…. Well, what do you say?”

Hallie smirked. “Does it matter?”

“You’re not seriously gonna say I can’t come with you, are you?” Vito got agitated.

“No. It’s just… Vito, you do know that this most likely won’t work, right?”

He sighed. “Yeah. But I’ve gotta try, don’t I?”

The Bloomer Legacy: 9.33 Somebody that you used to know

Larobb was trying to resist the urge to run away. He should have known it was too good to be true when his sister offered to set him up with a pretty girl he used to know in high school. But Sera Bloomer, out of all people? What was Tawanda thinking?

“Wow, you should really try to contain your excitement about this, Larobb,” Sera said snarkily.

2

“Sorry. I didn’t expect…” He stumbled on his words.

She examined his face. He did grow up rather handsome. “Look, I didn’t expect you to be my blind date either! But maybe we should just… see how it goes? We’re both here, I guess…”

“I dunno,” he hesitated. “I mean, we didn’t exactly get along as teens, did we?”

“We barely talked!” Sera pointed out.

3

“Look, people change,” she made her peace offering. “I know I have. And maybe you have too. Why don’t we just pretend this is a real blind date and we’re total strangers.”

“Ok. I guess we can give it a shot,” Larobb shrugged and followed Sera into the café.

4

Except that he seemed miserable before they even sat down. So much for giving it a shot, Sera thought.

Well, at least she’d give it a chance.

5

“So, what do you do these days?” She started non-committedly.

“Uh, music.”

Music. Presumably not DJing, since his paths would have crossed with Hallie, Sera figured. She sighed. This was going to be hard work. “Like, singing?”

“Nah. Production.”

6

Another one liner. Sera started to lose patience.

“Are you actually going to make any effort at all!?”

“Or you’ll yell at me?” He asked. “Didn’t you say you’ve changed since high school?”

7

Sera paused. Maybe he had a point.

“You’re right. We’re both getting defensive.” She admitted.

“Yeah. I guess I’m not really that open-minded.” Larobb said.

“I guess I haven’t changed that much,” Sera laughed.

They sat in silence for a moment.

“Maybe we should just go home,” Sera gave in eventually.

8

“Sera, wait…” Larobb pleaded, his expression growing softer.

“What is it?” She smiled. “Change of heart?”

“It’s just… going into this blind date, I was kinda hoping…” He paused and shook his head.

“Spit it out already.”

“How is Hallie doing?”

9

Sera closed her eyes. Clearly this date was doomed from the beginning.

“She’s fine.” She gritted through her teeth.

“That’s good.” Larobb ignored her tone, hanging on her every word.

“You thought it was gonna be her,” Sera realised. “You can’t be serious…”

10

“I guess I may have hoped,” He admitted, avoiding eye contact at all costs.

“Like Hallie would agree to go on a blind date,” Sera almost laughed.

“Yeah. Stupid, I know. She’s probably seeing someone, isn’t she?”

He was hopeless, Sera thought. She was feeling calm again.

11

“Larobb, Hallie doesn’t date.” She said simply.

“She doesn’t?” He seemed to struggle to comprehend. “But she could easily get any guy she wants…”

“Yeah,” Sera rolled her eyes. “I don’t think that’s the issue.”

“I guess some people don’t change, huh?” Larobb trailed off.

“Not when it comes to big things like this,” Sera nodded. “But you know what? I’m pretty sure she would love to see you. You know, as a friend. You guys used to be inseparable. If you want her in your life again, why don’t you just talk to her?”

12

He looked at her with sadness in his eyes. “Because I’d always hope for something more.” He said quietly.

“I do miss her,” He carried on. “But I just don’t know if I could only be friends with her.”

“Even now?” Sera raised an eyebrow. “It’s been years…”

“Even now.” He nodded solemnly “She was my first love. Do you remember your first love, Sera?”

Seraphina looked down. She didn’t answer.

13

“I’m gonna head.” Larobb stood up, looking even more upset than when they first walked into the café. “Sorry Sera. It’s not your fault.”

He dragged himself towards the Magnolia Promenade port.

14

Sera watched him until he disappeared out of sight. Why did first loves leave such a horrible mark, she wondered. And why did people always get hung up on things they couldn’t have? She wished she had the answers.

But she had nothing. In fact, she’d struggled to answer even the seemingly simple question Larobb had asked her.

How was Hallie doing?

***

15

Well, her DJing career took off, and not just in Newcrest. What started off with gigs at the teen lounge and the bar turned into extended invitations in clubs in Willow Creek and Oasis Springs.

She became known under the stage name DJ Eillah, but she owed her international success to her legacy – not the Newcrest Building kind though. The citizens of Windenburg knew very little about the Bloomer clan, but they still remembered what an epic DJ Candy Rocca was.

16

No wonder they loved Candy’s daughter. And Hallie loved them. She flew over to Windenburg frequently, both for the clubbing scene and for the sentimental yearning. To be a little girl living with her parents in their cottage in the town centre again. To not have a care in the world, and be young and innocent and not have anyone question it.

17

Perhaps she couldn’t go back to being a little girl. But she could certainly get lost in her music. And that’s what she did, every time she performed, no matter what city, no matter what club, no matter what crowd.

18

The crowds did care about her, though. She’d acquired somewhat of a following, with some fans jetsetting like her, and coming along to several of her gigs around the world.

She generally found having such a strong fanbase amazing and felt humbled by their loyalty.

But she wasn’t so fond of them getting a bit too close…

19

She’d get asked out more often than not, and heard a number of cheesy pick up lines. The most puzzling one to her was when people would come to request a song, but then say she should play her favourite… what did they think being a DJ entailed, exactly?

20

She’d usually just avoid interacting with anyone as much as possible, and leave the club as soon as she was done performing. What was the point of staying anyway? She didn’t belong. Once she was out of the safety of the DJ booth, the reality of juiced people on the dancefloor trying to find someone to woohoo with for the night would set in. Not something she particularly fancied sticking around for.

21

And so she returned home alone, no matter whether home for the night meant her actual studio, or a hotel; it meant finally being able to breathe. Slipping into comfy clothes, washing off the crazy makeup. Because those things, they weren’t the real her.

22

She wished she didn’t have to put on a mask to earn a living doing what she did. She’d be perfectly happy if she could just record back in her house and not set foot in grotty clubs.

23

It wasn’t that she didn’t like people. She had a number of friends, mostly music lovers, who would often gather at her place to listen to newest releases together. She appreciated them, they fascinated her, even, but Hallie wasn’t sure if she felt more alone being with them or on her own.

24

It seemed nobody fully understood her. They all appeared to think she needed to find someone to complete her. Tried to fix her up with people. They meant well, of course. But that didn’t changed the fact they were all under the impression she needed “sorting”.

25

At least on her own she wasn’t constantly reminded of what she was supposed to be. What she was supposed to want.

Did everyone really need a soulmate to complete them, she wondered. Aunt Yenn was perfectly content on her own. But because she’d once had a great love, somehow the society felt it was acceptable for her to not seek out a second lover. She’d ticked the box, had the seal of approval.

26

It wasn’t that Hallie wanted to be alone. Nobody wants to be lonely. She missed the old days, when you could get companionship without expectations. But those were long gone.

She’d tried forming deeper relationships after the whole thing with Larobb had gone up in flames, but it was always the same old story. As soon as she started to feel like her and the other person really shared something, they would start wanting more. And so she pulled out. She wasn’t repeating that mistake again.

And so gradually, she’d open up to people less and less, not going past superficial friendships.

27

So how was Hallie doing? Well, she wasn’t exactly happy. But as long as there was music, she’d always find a reason to smile.

“Hey, you’re awake!” Hallie opened her eyes, spotting Vito in her kitchen.

28

“To what do I owe this late visit?” She eyed him up and down. “Or, should I say early visit? The sun’s about to rise any minute.”

“Well, how else does one fit into your weird nocturnal patterns? I tried to come by earlier, but you weren’t here,” Vito explained with a casual smile.

“I had a gig over in Willow Creek,” she told him. “Took me a while to get back.”

“Sure,” he nodded impatiently.

29

“Didn’t you say you had a thing in Windenburg coming up soon?” Vito got to the point.

“Yeah, the Harbour Quarter Festival is coming up in less than a week,” Hallie nodded. “I’m surprised you remembered – you mean you’ve been paying attention to someone other than yourself for a change?”

Vito ignored the dig. “Well, I was thinking I could come with you.”

30

“Of course you were,” she smirked. “So, is there a particular reason why you want to go to Windenburg?”

“You remember how I told you about Louis appearing?” Vito asked.

Hallie arched an eyebrow. “Sure. You said he’s in Newcrest and hates your guts. What’s Windenburg got to do with it?”

“Well…”

The Bloomer Legacy: 9.32 Mystery Package

Carly awoke with the sun. The first thing she saw was Ralph’s face. He was still sleeping. She smiled to herself. She liked waking up to him. Ralph didn’t officially live with her, but she couldn’t remember the last time he wasn’t sleeping over.

She sat up slowly, gently slipping away from under the covers so that she wouldn’t wake him up.

2

“Morning, Lottie,” Ralph opened his eyes.

“Rats, I was being so careful and I still woke you…” she pouted.

“I was already awake,” he yawned.

3

“Come back to bed,” Ralph purred when she stood up.

“I can’t, you know Saturdays are always busy at the restaurant,” she shook her head. “I’ve got to be there earlier to get things ready. And I wanted to go on a little excursion before work, my collection is laughable…”

“Your collection is fantastic,” Ralph objected. “I particularly like the fossilised moustache.”

“You would,” Carly giggled. “But anyway, lots to do today, as I said.”

4

Ralph pulled her closer. “I think it can wait. It can all wait.”

“Maybe a little while…” Carly gave in.

5

***

6

“So what are your plans for the day?” Carly asked while cooking breakfast when they finally did get up.

“I’ll pop by to see the bookies first…” Ralph started.

“Again?” Carly interrupted him.

“Sshh… Then I’ve got to go to the library to fix a leak. And after that, I’m meeting this guy who’s selling an antique chair – I’m pretty sure I can fix it up and resell it for triple the price. And later on, I’ve got to go collect a mystery package.”

7

Carly arched an eyebrow: “A mystery package?” Ralph picked up a number of odd jobs to make a living, some odder than others.

“Yep. Just a quick and easy thing.” He shrugged.

“Ralph… we’ve been through this. Is this another sketchy job? Do you even know what’s in the package?”

8

“Wouldn’t be much of a mystery package if what’s in it wasn’t a mystery, would it?” Ralf laughed.

Carly frowned: “That’s not funny! You’ll get into trouble…”

“Relax Lottie, I know what’s in the package.”

“You do?” Carly wasn’t too reassured.

9

“I do. I promise. It’s perfectly fine…” He said with a charming smile.

“You said that the last time,” Carly grumbled.

“It’s no big deal, honest,” Ralph told her. “I’ll tell you what’s in the package tonight, deal?”

“Ok,” she sighed. “Just be careful…”

10

A grin spread across Ralph’s face. Lottie didn’t need to know everything

11

Carly loved mornings before work. She enjoyed the routine, finding joy in the simple things.

12

But she also enjoyed the unplanned, like seeing what birds will show at her bird feeder that day, if any. Each day, they seemed more colourful and beautiful than the last.

Her siblings teased her about the bird feeder and acting like an old lady, but she didn’t care. She appreciated the small discoveries.

13

Somewhere between the routine and the unexpected, Ralph would show up to kiss her before she left for the day. It was a regular occurrence, but way too exciting to be called a routine. They’ve been together for a few years, but he still made her weak in the knees.

14

After that, it was time to explore. Carly’s modest collection of frogs, fossils and crystals was growing steadily, but could definitely use improvements.

15

Besides, Carly loved the opportunity to explore Newcrest while looking for treasures. Walking around all the places her ancestors have built, and finding items that may well have been around since their time… it felt special.

Every time she’d come across anything even remotely promising, she’d start digging straight away with quiet determination.

16

And nothing would beat the satisfaction of actually discovering something worthwhile.

17

She spent a good few hours scavenging the neighbourhood, and was rather pleased with the new additions to the collection. But she couldn’t admire them for too long. Work was calling.

18

Carly was the only one of her siblings who still worked over at Leo’s restaurant. But that didn’t necessarily mean nothing had changed since her awkward waitressing days.

19

Carly was now the assistant manager, Leo’s right hand. She’d taken over most of the management tasks, from making sure the customers were happy with the service to dealing with employees and setting their shifts.

20

Carly didn’t exactly feel passionate about being a restaurateur, but she did enjoy her work and felt a great deal of satisfaction from it – her role allowed her dad to focus on his true passion, creating new tantalising dishes in the restaurant’s kitchen. And making her family happy made Carly happy. Each day was rewarding, and she’d almost always finish the shift with a smile.

21

Today was no exception. Especially when she saw Ralph sat at one of the tables, doodling away.

22

“Feeling artistic today?” She walked across to him.

“I was just waiting for you to finish up.” He replied. “Though I do think that I’m rather talented, now that you mention it.”

23

Carly laughed and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. “Thanks for coming by. We’re just wrapping up here. You could have just waited at the house, you know.”

“I know, but I didn’t want to.”

24

They left the restaurant shortly after, once the last patrons made their way out.

“So, I was thinking maybe we don’t go straight to the house…” Ralph suggested coyly.

25

“Oh?” Carly was intrigued. “What did you have in mind?”

Ralph grinned. “Well, I’m glad you should ask…”

***

26

They wandered along the water front, hand in hand. Carly’s eyes lit up…

27

She sped up her pace a bit, running towards a rusty bench.

“Aww, Ralph…” she managed.

“You remember this place?” He beamed.

28

“Do I remember it?” She felt like dancing. “This is where we had our first kiss!”

“I know,” Ralph nodded with an unusual softness in his expression. “I didn’t just take you here randomly, you know. There’s this thing that’s burning me in my pocket.”

29

And like in a dream, Carly watched Ralph go down on one knee.

30

“Lottie… I could give a speech about how you’ve changed my life for infinitely better, and it would all be true, but you know I don’t really do grand speeches. I do grand gestures. So would you do me the honour of taking this shiny rock and becoming my wife?”

Carly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

31

“Of course I will!” Her heart melted. “And that ring is beautiful… hang on! Is this the mystery package you were talking about collecting earlier by any chance?”

Ralph’s lips curved into a grin. “Perhaps…”

“Ralph! You said it was no big deal!” She burst out laughing.

32

“Well, I did have to downplay it a little obviously…” He picked her up in his arms. “I guess in hindsight, it wasn’t completely insignificant…”

Carly couldn’t stop laughing. “You’re going to give me a heart attack one day…”

33

She grew more serious when Ralph put her back on the ground.

“But honestly though, how about from now on, no more mystery packages. No secrets between us… deal?” She asked.

34

Ralph pulled one of his trademark smirks: “No secrets? Nah, that would be pretty boring, don’t you think?”

The Bloomer Legacy: 9.31 Matter of Principle

Vito dragged himself through the back garden. Seeing how animated the girls were that afternoon, he almost regretted not taking the front door to his house.

“So hopefully the cute guy will come to the bar again tonight,” Sera whispered to Hallie conspicuously.

“Uh…huh…” Hallie’s reply was lukewarm.

“You should see how ripped he was…” Sera continued.

2

“And you’re telling this to me why exactly?” Hallie stopped humouring her altogether.

“Well I have to tell someone, don’t I,” Seraphina giggled. “Don’t worry, you’ll find someone…”

Hallie rolled her eyes. That sentence was her pet peeve, which Sera knew all too well. It was a bit of a running joke between them, though not necessarily one Hallie appreciated all that much.

“Why don’t we focus on finding you someone, k?” Hallie brought the focus back to Sera. “Like said hunky ripped bar dude.”

“Sounds like soulmate material to me…” Sera joked.

3

Hallie noticed Vito sulking around. “Hey, what’s up with you?” She turned her attention to him.

“Uh, nothing,” he said shiftily, glancing at Sera.

“Anyway, I’m off to work,” Sera sighed. Her and Vito managed to be somewhat civil to each other these days. For the most part, they just stayed out of each other’s way. He certainly wasn’t going to pour his heart out in front of her, whatever first world problem he was experiencing now.

4

Maybe he was shot down by one of the models for a change, Sera smirked as she walked away. That would be a first. Everyone ate out of the palm off Vito’s hand, didn’t they?

Whatever. Hallie would be the “lucky” one to hear all about it. It was none of Sera’s concern.

She’d much rather think about the hunky dude. Though with her luck, he was probably from out of town.

5

Anywho… too many distractions. Time to mix some drinks!

Sera worked over at the Liv Says Relax bar. It was a job she picked up randomly – not being sure what she wanted to do once she was done with school and with her family owning the bar, it seemed like a decent enough choice, at least short term, until she’d figure out what she wanted to do with her life.

6

After all, her dad used to work here when he was young – wasn’t that how he met her mom? So maybe there was hope for her yet…

But even if being a mixologist didn’t lead Seraphina to meeting the love of her life, it was a fun enough job.

7

She never knew what the next night would have in store. In particular when the bar manager, Seraphina’s distant relative (uncle twice removed, was it?) insisted on throwing bizarre theme nights like tonight.

Bear night… what a stupid idea. On the off chance the hunky guy did show up, she wouldn’t even recognise him.

8

Then again, people dressed up as bears were not going to be the most surprising encounter of the evening.

His hair was long now, but his face hasn’t changed at all.

9

“Holy cow plant, Louis?”

What was he doing in Newcrest? Surely he’d hate this city and all the memories he had of it, Sera thought.

10

Louis looked her up and down before sitting down at the bar.

“Sera,” he nodded coldly.

“You seem pleased to see me,” she said sarcastically.

“Always a pleasure,” he sneered at her. “You’re a bartender? Huh.”

11

Seraphina decided to be as friendly as possible, ignoring his tone:

“What, don’t you have confidence in my mixology skills?”

Louis laughed. “I have no confidence in your social skills.”

“Says the guy who comes into my family’s bar and insults me,” Seraphina replied calmly. “People change, you know?”

12

Louis patience seemed to have run out that very minute.

“What do you expect Sera, that I’ll jump up and down rejoicing at our reunion?” He scoffed. “What is it with you Bloomers? You think you can walk all over people and they just laugh it off the next day?”

13

So that was what Vito was all weird about, Sera realised.

And then it dawned on her that it wasn’t really her Louis was yelling at. After all, she’d been there.

14

She remembered when her brother turned into Antoine right in front of her. So of course, Louis would become her.

How was it possible, though? She could reason with why Antoine had dropped her like a hot potato right after their holiday, they barely knew each other. But Louis and Vito, they had a real relationship. And, as nauseatingly annoying they may have been, they seemed perfect together. Why would Vito throw it all away?

15

Seraphina felt terrified by the prospect of reliving last summer, even as an outsider. She had to do something.

And so she went to the person she had the best relationship with out of her peers, Hallie.

16

“We’ve got to do something,” she began. “He can’t treat Louis this way, he can’t…”

Hallie seemed apathetic. “Why do you care? You almost broke them up last year, remember?”

Of course she remembered. Now that Vito was ruining their relationship all on his own, the thing she’d done to Louis last autumn was haunting her. It wasn’t exactly something she needed to be reminded of.

“But they love each other,” she said desperately.

17

“Pfft, love,” Hallie looked like she was going to be physically sick. “There’s no such thing as love! Everybody has a definition of love in their head, but everybody’s is different. They all have one thing in common though, it always comes at a cost. Your love is only true if you do x, y and z… otherwise, it doesn’t count. Love is a conditional offer. They’re better off without it, both of them!”

Sera stared at her. Where did all this come from?

“But Hallie, you’ve never even been in a relationship,” she pointed out. “You wouldn’t really know that much about love…”

Hallie laughed bitterly. “Case in point. You’ve just named another condition. Love blows.”

Sera wasn’t all that sure what Hallie was talking about, but one thing was clear to her; she needed another ally in this battle. One that actually believed in love.

18

Sera hated the thought of approaching Carly about it. But if her sweet-dispositioned sister wasn’t going to help, then no one would.

“Hey.” She entered the room nervously. Her sister looked up at her in surprise. Ralph quickly used the moment to swap out two of their chess pieces.

“Can we talk?”

“Hi Sera,” Carly looked at her quizzically. “Sure.”

“Hey! We weren’t done playing!” Ralph exclaimed.

“You’re cheating anyway,” Carly stood up with a laugh. Ralph begrudgingly left them on their own. The two sisters sat down on Carly’s bed.

19

“It’s Vito,” Sera got straight to the point. “I can’t stand what he’s doing to Louis. Forgetting about calls. Ignoring messages. It’s not right.”

Carly’s face fell. “I know.”

“Can you talk to him, Carly?”

“I’ve thought about it,” Carly told her. “But… what can I say? You can’t force somebody to love someone…”

20

“But he does love Louis… doesn’t he?” Seraphina’s voice was shaking. “He cared for him! We all saw it. You couldn’t plumming unsee it, they were everywhere! His feelings can’t just have disappeared into thin air? It couldn’t have all meant nothing!”

Carly gave her a funny look. “I didn’t know Louis and Vito’s relationship meant that much to you.”

“It doesn’t,” Sera said quickly. “It’s a matter of principle!”

“You think Vito will listen to me?” Carly asked. “You know he usually thinks his way is the right way…”

“You mean he’s an arrogant plum!”

Carly looked at her sister disapprovingly.

“Sorry,” Sera uttered. “Please Carly, you’ve got to talk to him. He’ll listen to you. He wouldn’t listen to me, but he’ll listen to you. Please. Don’t let him do this to Louis. He can’t do this to Louis. He can’t…”

Carly examined Sera’s face for a long while. It wasn’t just Vito’s relationship she seemed worried about now.

21

Carly did go and try talk to their brother after their conversation…

23

…but apparently it didn’t go too well.

In fact, it didn’t go to Sera’s liking at all. Vito ended up breaking things off with Louis altogether. And worse, jumping into seeing other people the very next day.

24

Sera resulted to desperate measures and even attempted to talk to Vito herself. But he completely dismissed her. Not that she’d expected a different result. But she had to try.

All in vain though. The nauseatingly annoying couple was no more…

***

Sera distractedly shook the cocktail in the shaker. It’s been years. But it still felt fresh in her head. How did it have to feel to Louis?

25

Spotting Louis at one of the tables, she reluctantly walked over to him.

“What now?” He glared at her. “Haven’t we done enough small talk?”

“I didn’t come to make small talk. I came to apologise.”

26

“I’m really sorry about what I did to you,” she said. “When you first came to Newcrest. The things I said to you. I was so upset, and I wanted to hurt Vito. I didn’t stop to think about you at all. I just wanted to take the things Vito said to me and throw them back at him.”

Louis tilted his head. “What did he say to you?”

“It doesn’t matter,” she shook her head. “It wasn’t about you. It was about me and… Antoine. But you probably don’t remember him.” She let out an awkward fake laugh.

“Anyway. I just wanted to say I’m sorry. And that I understand why you’ve reacted to seeing me the way you have. You have every right to hate me.” She concluded.

27

“Well, in the grand scheme of things, worse things have happened to me,” Louis smirked.

“Yeah. I’m sorry about that… too.”

“It’s not your fault.” He shrugged and stood up. “Anyway, I’m out of here.”

He was about to head for the door, but he seemed to change his mind, turning around abruptly.

28

“Actually, I wanted to tell you something too,” he returned to Seraphina. “Since you brought up Antoine.”

Oh no. Seraphina felt sick. Maybe approaching Louis wasn’t such a good idea.

“I do remember Antoine,” he said. “I actually ran into him when I returned to Windenburg from here, you know. Not too long after Vito and I broke up.”

“Oh.” That was about all Seraphina could manage. She didn’t want to hear anything about him. But apparently Louis was adamant to share.

29

“I punched him.” Louis said matter-of-factly.

“What?” Seraphina was gobsmacked. She couldn’t imagine Louis throwing a punch at anyone, let alone someone he barely knew.

“I randomly ran into him in the street, and I recognised him, so I punched him.” Louis elaborated.

“But… why?”

“Because your brother should have.” He said simply.

Seraphina continued to stare at him. “You did that… for me?”

“I was wrapped in my little bubble the summer before. I barely thought about what happened to you. But after… things happened… it hit me. Your brother should have looked out for you. That’s what brothers are for. But he didn’t. So I thought someone should.”

30

“I can’t believe… You… I don’t know what to say,” Seraphina struggled for words. “Thank you.” She said finally.

“This changes nothing.” Louis told her. “I still hate you.”

***

31

When Seraphina left the bar after her shift ended that night, she couldn’t help but smile to herself, thinking of the last thing Louis said to her before finally leaving the bar:

“It was a matter of principle.”

 

The Bloomer Legacy: 9.30 When it all turned sour

He intended to keep the relationship up after Louis left for Windenburg. Of course he did. At first, they would talk every day. About what they’d been up to. How much they missed each other. How long distance sucked, but they could make it work.

But it was hard to keep the same level of enthusiasm long term. The time difference took its toll, and with school stated again after the summer, Vito was faced with a number of distractions…

2

Once again, he was at the centre of attention, something he’d always enjoyed last year with Louis on his side. Except that now, without Louis, all the attention was on him. And Vito loved every minute of it. It was all eyes on him.

3

Without Louis around, Vito also had more time to pursue photography in the school’s studio. Which was beneficial to his skill, but didn’t exactly help his relationship.

4

It didn’t help at all.

And Vito found himself asking himself all kinds of questions. What would it be like to be with a girl? Or with a boy who wasn’t Louis?

5

There seemed to be so many options. And he’d stupidly narrowed it all down to just one. One that wasn’t even in the picture now. What was the point of being in a relationship, with all the positive aspects of a relationship taken away?

6

Louis’ sweet lips and warm arms wrapped around Vito’s body were now replaced with what… Nagging. Complaining. Whining.

So maybe Vito called Louis a little less. Cancelled a few planned “dates”, if you could really call sitting in front of a computer that. Ignored a message or two. So what? What was the point? Louis had been reduced to an image on the screen.

But the others… they were right there. Dynamic. Alive. Exciting. And hanging on Vito’s every word. Certainly not acting all hurt because they hadn’t talked to him for a week…

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Vito started to dread those calls. They’d become a chore, something he would put off as long as humanly possible, and them tick them off his list, hoping to not have to revisit them for a while.

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Eventually, Carly called him out on acting plummy. Louis deserved better, she said. How could Vito treat him this way? Didn’t he love him?

Did he still love Louis? He wasn’t sure. It was hard to remember what it felt like to be with him. Because what this felt like seemed much more like being in a relationship with his desktop.

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In any case, that wasn’t what Vito told Carly. He told her to mind her own plumming business. Just because her and Ralph were in the honeymoon period of their relationship didn’t mean she suddenly had all kinds of insights on love…

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But deep down, Vito knew she was right. Louis did deserve better. He deserve an actual relationship. Somebody to hold. Somebody who didn’t struggle to remember him. Somebody who’d stopped telling new people he’d meet that he wasn’t on the market. Louis deserved it all.

They both did.

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And so he did the right thing. He ended things. He felt nauseous going into that call. But it would be the last one. And then he’d be free.

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To Vito’s surprise, Louis was shocked at the news. In spite of their problems, he hadn’t seen it coming. How could Vito give up so soon? Did he not care about him at all anymore?

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And so Vito decided to exaggerate a little. It was for Louis’ benefit, really. To make a clean cut. To make sure Louis didn’t cling onto false hope. To help him let it go.

It was the noble thing to do, wasn’t it? It didn’t feel like it when he saw Louis crying on the screen, but it was of the best.

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And of course, the beauty of dating your computer – and ending a relationship with your computer – is that you can simply switch it off when you’re done.

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And so Vito turned off the switch, and moved on.

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And experimented.

And then the strangest thing happened. He was actually approached by Seraphina.

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That’s right, Seraphina expressed disgust at his behaviour and lack moral values. She, out of all people, yelled at him for hurting Louis. How rich was that?

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Naturally he gave her the full scope on what he thought of her, the ridiculousness of the situation, and where she was welcome to shove her opinions into…

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Still, being judged by Seraphina made Vito question his behaviour a little bit. And so he decided to devote slightly less energy to messing around with as many people as possible, and slightly more energy to photography.

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And while he did by no means become abstinent (he’d discovered that photography and woohoo could go nicely hand in hand on occasion), putting that extra effort into his photos paid off.

It got him to where he was today.

 

The Bloomer Legacy: 9.29 Angelic Face

Vito slept in that morning. The sun was high above when he finally rolled out of bed and lazily pulled a T-shirt on. He didn’t take too long getting ready, but he wasn’t in a particular rush either. One of the best things about working for yourself was being on your own schedule.

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Well, sort of. He still had to keep appointments with clients and models, like the one he had to make his way to now, but it still allowed him a decent amount of flexibility.

He casually strolled out of his condo. It wasn’t a long walk to the studio.

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The studio was on Newcrest’s commercial street, right next to the art gallery and the library (and conveniently close to the bar, too!).

Vito felt pretty proud of himself. And why shouldn’t he be, now that both his home and the studio have finally been completed, down to the final decorating touches. He even had plants over at the studio, for crying out loud.

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More importantly, he was starting to make quite the name of himself – and not just because of the legacy. His photography skills were highly sought after; today’s client specifically requested him for the job.

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And why wouldn’t they be? He worked his butt off throughout his teenage years, spending every free moment in the school’s basement photo studio in his final year and picking up any photographer’s assistant odd jobs he could find. And now, he was the photographer.

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Naturally, being a Bloomer helped, his family money helped fund the studio venture. But surely that wasn’t a big sacrifice for the family, building Newcrest was what the family had been doing for generations. And now Vito was the first of his generation to complete contribute to the town. So now he could just sit back and focus on his true passion rather than worrying about the legacy.

The studio was fairly basic, with most of the action happening downstairs. There was a little bar area upstairs overlooking the ground floor, mainly used by Vito’s clients if they were the types to come check up on the photography taking place, but weren’t as keen on actually getting involved.

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There was a small bathroom and a dressing area at the back of the studio for models to change clothes in between complex shoots.

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And Vito also had an inflatable bed on the very top floor, for the occasions when he needed to work late and stay overnight, or in case things went particularly well with one of the models. Which admittedly happened fairly often.

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Vito’s favourite area was the upstairs deck though, it was the perfect spot for enjoying a cold drink after work… or sometimes, like today, before work. Vito felt like he’d earned it. He was pretty amazing at what he did.

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Not only did he have a good eye for composition and quick reactions, he was a natural when it came to making models perform to the best of their abilities. He’d always find a way to make them shine.

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He could give the shy ones the confidence to break out of their shell…

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And find a gentle sides of more difficult models who arrived with an attitude.

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Yes, Vito felt pretty good about himself. No wonder the client booked him personally.

Though they seemed quite particular about what they wanted in general. They booked a specific model for the job too, apparently there was only one person they’d consider for the job because of his angelic face.

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That sounded pretty good to Vito. If they hit it off, he could do what he does best and mix a bit of work and play once they’re done with the brief…

Providing the model was his type, of course. Sure, models were usually attractive, but Vito was a picky man. Then again, how could you go wrong with an angelic face?

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He didn’t have to wait long to find out. The model arrived. He entered through the glass door and stopped in his tracks.

“You’ve got to be kidding me…”

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Vito froze. It’s been years, but he recognised that voice instantly, even before turning around. They got the angelic face right, that was for sure.

“Louis…” His voice turned soft, and he couldn’t help the sudden surge of feelings coming back to him.

“Are there no other photographers in Newcrest or what?” Louis didn’t seem to share his enthusiasm at the reunion.

“There are,” Vito pulled a charming smile. “But I’m the best one.”

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“You haven’t changed at all,” Louis said bitterly. “Still the centre of your universe, I see.”

“Look, I know things didn’t end on the best note between us,” Vito tried to calm him down.

“You could say that,” Louis huffed, clenching his fists.

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Even in his anger, Louis still did look beautiful, Vito thought. Old feelings were overwhelming him. He couldn’t help himself. All he wanted to do was pull Louis into an embrace.

“It’s been a long time,” he said to Louis carefully. “And you’re in Newcrest now… How long have you been here for? And why did you come back? How about we sit down on the sofa and catch up?”

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“Catch up?” Louis echoed. “I don’t want to catch up! You broke my heart!”

“Louis, come on. Can’t we put this behind us at least for a little bit? At least for the sake of the job. We’ve got to get through this photoshoot today, you know that…” Vito tried to bargain.

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“Plum this. I couldn’t care less about the photoshoot,” Louis exclaimed. “No job is worth having to be in the same room as you.”

And with that, he turned around and left the building, slamming the glass door behind him.

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For a moment, Vito just grinned stupidly. He felt so many different things at once. But his first instinctual reaction was delight at seeing him again. His first love. The only love he ever had, really.  And he was now back, right here, in Newcrest, so close to him.

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But then the other feelings sunk in. Louis hated him. He walked out of the studio without as much as attempting to go through with the job because he couldn’t stand the sight of him.

And then the guilt came. And all the old memories started bursting in. The memories of when it all turned sour…

Generation 9 Building Update

My guesstimate is that we’re currently about halfway through generation 9! And we’re also about to have a bit of a time jump, from the next chapter onwards we’ll be joining Sera, Carly, Vito and Hallie as Young Adults.

With the kids freshly moved out and starting a grown-up life for themselves, I figured I’ll give you a little tour of their new pad before we jump back into the story.

As you can see above, I’ve created small studio homes for each of them, they’re all identical with an industrial look from the outside but furnished to suit each of our heirs’ tastes.

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The homes are on the largest plot in Newcrest, so there’s definitely potential for growth as the generation 9 lot start their families. At the moment, they’re big enough to house two sims each. There’s also a large communal garden at the back for them all to enjoy.

Seraphina’s Studio

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Sera is the girliest out of the bunch and does enjoy a nice dose of fushia, as we know. I’ve tried to givve her place the darker more gothic look she’s taken on over the years, as well as her penchant for shiny things and beauty products.

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Opposite angle

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Aerial view

Carly’s Studio

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I wanted Carly’s home to have a warm and sunny feel, just like her personality. There’s a lot of plants and earthy tones in here to help with that. Stupidly I left Carly’s collectible collection back in Pauline and Leo’s house, so she’ll have to start afresh; expect this space to fill with frogs, crystals and rocks  soon!

 

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Opposite angle

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Aerial view

Vito’s Studio

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Vito likes his interior clean and modern, so I went for simple black and white for his place. Of course I had to make sure to include at least a bit of wall art, in particular some photography to reflect Vito’s interests.

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Opposite angle

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Aerial view

Hallie’s Studio

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Hallie’s studio is a lot more subdued then her teenage room but I still wanted to make it kind of groovy. It’s a chilled out space ideal for relaxing while listening to music or hanging out with friends.

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Opposite angle

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Aerial view

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And a closeup of the outdoor seating to finish off – the bird feeder is naturally Carly’s.

The lot is up on the gallery under my user name ThePlumbobBlog.

Hope you guys didn’t mind the small detour from the story that we’ve taken over the last few days! We’ll catch up with our generation 9 gang in the next update to see what they’ve been up during the remainder of their high school years that we missed, how they’re settling into their life as YAs and what has changed (or hasn’t).

Oh, and one of our heirs may have already built their contribution to Newcrest, but more on that in the next chapter…