Shared family breakfasts were Grace's favorite part of her new life in Appaloosa Plains. She'd wake up extra early to get everything ready before Adam had to see to his chores and Huxley was off again to who-knows-where.
Hazel also enjoyed family breakfasts.
But she liked being outside even more! Going on strolls with her mommy was always fun, because the stroller would take her so much farther than her little legs could.
She probably got her love for the outdoors from her father, who often spent more time than strictly necessary tending and talking to his plants. Nothing relaxed Adam like gardening did.
During this season of sudden autumn storms, however, he was frequently forced to rush inside after completing only the bare minimum of his tasks.
It was on those days that Adam would take the literal fruits of his labor to the basement, toss them into a wooden tub and proceed to stomp on them with his bare feet.
Nectar making was an art.
"It's not just babysitting," Mayor Wells told his son, "It's meant to teach you responsibility. And how is it supposed to do that if I let you abandon your duty on a whim?"
Huxley stood a few paces apart from them, pretending to look away politely, but still catching every word. Hux' mom grounded her for every little thing, but at least she never forced her to stay home to babysit her sister. Not like Huxley would have done it.
"Please Dad, just this once," Josh pleaded. "I watched Austin every day this week. Can't I have one day off?"
The mayor puffed out his chest and was just about to deliver his final edict when a car door slammed and the sound of clicking heels approached on the wet driveway. Eleanor Wells had come back from her shopping.
"Just let the kids go, Eric," she said, exasperated. "I'll take care of Austin." As she made her way past them and up the steps to the front door, she glanced back over her shoulder and called, "Grab the groceries from the car, Eric, will you? And stop standing around in the rain, you'll catch a cold."
The teens were left alone in front of the glowering mayor, Josh still holding his younger brother. Finally, Eric Wells crossed his arms and huffed, "Well, go then! But I expect you back here at 8 PM, and not a minute later!"
Huxley straightened her back, raised her right hand to her forehead in a mock salute and said, "Yes, Mister Mayor, sir! We would never dream of disobeying orders. We shall respect our commander, just as you do."
Mayor Wells frowned.
What Josh liked most about Huxley was how much his father hated her.
That, and how she could convince the mixologist at Barney's to sell them drinks as long as there were no other customers around.
Other than that, they didn't have much to talk about most of the time.
Barney's wasn't much to look at, even now that the sky had cleared up, but it was one of the few places where the teens of Appaloosa Plains could hang out.
Most nights the venue hosted a DJ and the dance floor was crowded with the town's younger generation. At this time of the day though, the place was dead.
... but the hayloft above the dance floor was a nice place even in the daytime.
Grace and Hazel avoided getting caught in the rain by paying a visit to the Brooks family. Hawk and Patricia were always welcoming to guests and grateful for any chance for adult conversation. Taking care of three young children could be taxing, and they had just found out that they were expecting yet another baby.
Hazel was a little disappointed that their stroll had been cut short, but she appreciated the company of other children her age.
She'd taken a liking to Aidan in particular.
In the meantime, Adam's nectar press was having a... slight malfunction.
He managed to subdue the flames before the fire department even arrived, avoiding any major damage to the house or himself. But all Adam could think about was how glad he was that no one else had been home - he would have never forgiven himself if something had happened to his family.
After this incident his enthusiasm for nectar making waned somewhat.
Barring a few minor mishaps, life on the farm was peaceful.
Adam took care of his garden...
... Grace finally caught up on her reading...
... and even Huxley was growing attached to the gorgeous view she had from her window each morning, though she would never admit it.
Huxley was slowly getting used to this place, but the surly teen had to draw a line somewhere.
"We're going to the festival today," Adam said over breakfast. "Want to tag along, Hux?"
"Can't," Huxley grunted, "I've already made plans."
"Guess it'll just be us then," Adam grinned and tickled Grace playfully after the teen had left, "Maybe I'll show you the secret room in the haunted house today!"
Despite earlier innuendos, it turned out to be a very family-friendly day at the festival.
Adam tended his market stand for a few hours while Grace took Hazel to the Spooky Day themed spring riders.
Later, back at home, the adults carved pumpkins while Hazel watched in wide-eyed fascination.
Huxley hadn't just been contrary when she'd declined the invitation to the festival - she had indeed already made plans to meet Josh at the pizza place on East Appaloosa Avenue.
After they'd finished their food and were about to leave, Josh stopped Huxley. "Oh yeah, before I forget - when should I pick you up on Saturday?"
"Pick me up?" Huxley raised an eyebrow. "What for?"
"Prom, of course!"
"Excuse me?" She blurted, laughing, "Did I miss the part where you asked me to prom and I actually said yes? Did I happen to hit my head really hard right before that? Because that's the only scenario in which I'd agree to something so lame."
"Don't be weird, Hux. You're my girl, so we're going to prom together. That's how it goes."
Huxley scowled. "I really hope you're kidding right now."
Josh stood abruptly, the metal chair scraping noisily against the pavement. "What's your problem, Huxley?"
Hux sprang up too, almost toppling over her chair in the process and faced him. "No, what's your problem," she fumed, "'My girl'? Do you think you even own the people in this town now, Mr Mayor Junior?"
Josh inhaled sharply through his nostrils, then let out a mirthless laugh. "You're seriously messed up," he said. "We've been dating for weeks and still you tell everyone at school that I'm not your boyfriend. Why, Huxley? Are you waiting for someone better to come along, is that it?" He paused, but she made no motion to answer. Josh gave a snort of annoyance. "You know what your problem is? My mom has a book about this stuff. Yeah, you've got commitment issues! You won't commit to anything because you're terrified."
"Oh yeah?" Huxley shot back, fumbling to come up with a reply. "Well, screw you! I don't want to see your dumb face ever again! I'll commit to that!"
"Whatever, you're being totally immature," Josh scoffed as she pushed past him and stalked off, but Huxley did not look back.
Terrified... who did he think he was, telling Hux what 'her problem' was?! Commitment issues, pah! She'd committed to plenty of stuff!
Huxley stomped down the sidewalk, her insides boiling, wishing she'd punched Josh in his stupid face. And then she saw it.
She'd show him!
Joni Oxendine arched an eyebrow at the teenager striding boldly into her tattoo parlor, but did not object when the girl chose a design and took a seat. The kid had enough cash on her and Joni wasn't about to turn down a paying customer. Business could be slow in this small town.
A few hours later Huxley preened in the full-length mirror. "That looks so badass," she beamed.
"Yeah, whatever kid," the tattoo artist stifled a yawn, "Just don't come back here complaining when it doesn't wash off."
Who has commitment issues now, Huxley thought defiantly as she walked out the door. She'd just decided to mark her own body with something that would last forever. A crow, wings spread wide; an outcast from society, but flying free and unashamed. And it was right there on her chest, proudly displayed for everyone to see. Everyone would immediately know that... uh oh.
Her mother was SO going to ground Huxley for this.
Huxley stood on the sidewalk, contemplating how to best conceal her new acquisition from her mother, when the sound of a roaring engine made her look up.
Even though Hux hadn't seen him since the day they'd jammed at the music store, she immediately recognized Theo. And apparently he hadn't forgotten her either.
"Hey Hux," he greeted her after he'd stopped his bike, resting one foot on the asphalt for balance, "nice ink."
"Well, thanks, but my mom's gonna kill me," Huxley replied, frowning, "it's almost curfew, but I really don't wanna go home right now."
Theo hesitated, an unreadable expression on his face. Concern, Huxley thought briefly. Then the moment passed when Theo ran his fingers through his hair and said, "I know a place we can go."
Mike's Chop Shop was what people usually called this place, though its official name, according to the rusty sign above the front door, sounded much less sordid: Mike's Automotive Repair.
Hux had been apprehensive as they rode towards the edge of town, past a seedy biker bar and an abandoned diner, and had come to a halt at this junkyard. She'd almost asked Theo to take her home then, but that would have been terribly uncool, so she'd followed him up the ladder and on to the giant billboard. Now she was glad that she hadn't chickened out.
"I see what you mean," Huxley said, leaning back to admire the canopy of stars above them, "it's beautiful. How did you find out about this place?"
"I have a part-time job here, helping out fixing cars and stuff," Theo explained. Then, reluctantly, he added, "and sometimes I sleep here too."
Theodore Gibson had lived alone with his mother Sherry ever since he could remember. There had been no father; only a steady flow of boyfriends, each more vile than the one before.
His mother called him Teddy and he hated it because it reminded him of the time when one of her boyfriends had ripped the head off of his favorite teddy bear. Still, Theodore loved Sherry and was constantly worrying about her.
But sometimes he simply couldn't take any more of the chaos that was his mother's life, and it was during one such time that Theo had run away.
"I got on my bicycle and just... started to pedal. I wasn't going to stop until I hit the shore," he remembered, "But when it got dark and started raining and I couldn't feel my legs anymore, I crawled into an abandoned car and passed out. That's when Mike found me."
Mike was, as the name suggested, the owner of Mike's Automotive Repair. He'd let Theo stay the night and brought him home the next day, but had never stopped taking an interest in the boy since then. Even now that Theo was a teenager Mike still supported him wherever he could.
"So I have a paying job and when it gets too shitty at home Mike lets me stay here sometimes, as long as I do okay in school."
Suddenly Huxley's troubles with her overbearing mother didn't seem so disastrous anymore.
Still, Theo listened, and he made her feel like her problems mattered just as much as his. Just like when they'd made music together, they adapted effortlessly to each other's rhythm.
And so, in this place of rusty metal and broken things, far away from any prying eyes, two young sims who never allowed themselves to be vulnerable shared a tender kiss.
Midnight had long come and gone when Huxley finally got home.
"We were so worried about you," Grace shrieked, "What did I get you that cell phone for if you won't pick up when I call?" Then, taking a step back, she noticed it. "Is that... is that a tattoo?! Huxley, when did you get that?! What were you--"
"It's my body," Hux cut in angrily, "You can't tell me what to do with my body!"
"You're still a child! And you're supposed to call when you're late! We thought you were hurt, we thought that you--"
"Well, I'm back now and I'm fine, so what's the big deal?"
Grace grimaced, trying hard to hold in the tears. "Go to your room," she snapped.
As the teen climbed the stairs, making each footfall excessively loud, Grace yelled after her, "And you're grounded!"
"Surprise, surprise," Huxley muttered.
After finally putting a wailing Hazel, who had been woken by all the noise, back to sleep, Adam spent another good while calming down his sobbing wife.
Grace had been a worried mess for hours, and though her daughter's safe return had been a relief, it had not provided any comfort.
"I don't know what I'm doing wrong," Grace sniffled, "She rebels if I'm strict with her, but when I give her more freedom, she just grabs that freedom and runs with it! I'm not being unreasonable, am I? I'm not a tyrant." She blew her nose into a handkerchief and tucked it away again, neatly folded. "Sure, I can't tolerate her breaking curfew like this, but the tattoo... why didn't she just ask me first? I mean, I would have probably allowed it if she'd only asked."
Adam was silent for a moment, considering. Then he put an arm around Grace's shoulder, drew her close, and said quietly, "I think that was the point, love."
I don't often use other people's poses, so I feel compelled to give credit. You can get the cute kissing poses on MTS.
Now a question for you lovely readers: Have you ever experienced trouble with the pictures loading on this blog? I usually don't do any editing and just grab them straight out of the screenshots folder, but I realize that they are unnecessarily huge and may be inconvenient for for slower internet connections or limited bandwidth. So please let me know if that has been an issue, or if there is any other way I can improve your reading experience :)