"It's terrible, Connie. Lately I've been so sleepy all the time... I can barely keep my eyes open!"
"Oh, I know that feeling, believe me. I think it's the weather. It's making me so drowsy - like my energy bar is constantly low or something."
"Hello ladies, if I may intrude," Todd interrupted the chatting women, "I believe I can help you - I happen to be a medical doctor, you know."
They stared at him, more quizzical than expectant.
"I think what you two are suffering from is an acute lack of Vitamin Me," he delivered his punchline. "Just apply Me to your sensitive areas..."
"Alright then," Faye smirked as best she could while chewing her hot dog. "I dare you to... kiss that dorky friend of Fred's!"
"Who? -- Todd?!" Fleur was appalled. "Ew!"
"Ha, chicken," Faye taunted. "Chicken, chicken, chicken!"
"Ugh, you're so childish!" Fleur complained, but got up regardless. "I'll show you who's a chicken!"
Todd's cheek still stung when Fleur approached him.
"Hey Todd," she purred.
Her voice was sultry as she leaned in close to whisper in his ear, "You know, those two have no idea what they're missing."
"I always thought you were super hot..."
Faye was watching from a distance, but quickly averted her gaze in an attempt to stifle a snort of laughter.
Freddie had happened to walk in on the scene right during the height of the action. He was confused. "Faye, did Fleur just kiss..."
"It was a dare," Faye explained, laughing. "And I can't believe she did it!"
Freddie had had no idea that girls could be so mean!
"Told you," Todd bragged, "The ladies just can't keep their hands off the Toddmeister."
Freddie didn't have the heart to tell his best friend otherwise.
Instead, he showed Todd this awesome snake he'd caught.
"What the...? Is that a real snake?!" Todd was repulsed, but Freddie seemed to misinterpret his tone as interest.
"It's so awesome, isn't it?" he enthused, "I caught it earlier today with Charity..." Fred's voice trailed of as he remembered the events of that afternoon...
"It's a Mini Python," she explained. "They're not indigenous to this area though. I wonder if it's someone's escaped pet?"
"We can't just leave it here like this," Charity worried. "I mean, the poor thing is really not equipped to live in this particular climate... It might well die out here!" Her distress was obvious as she began chewing on her nails. "Oh, but what to do? Aunt Mandy is never going to let me keep it..."
"I'll take it," Fred decided, gently picking up the snake. "It can stay in my room. It'll be awesome!"
Fred had agreed to meet Charity at the Urbane Center for the Arts - a place he had never visited before in his life.
When inviting Charity to hang out that day, he had hoped she'd come over to his place to play games. Or maybe they could have gone to the beach or even just watched a movie! Instead, he was now at a museum, listening to Charity talk.
She was telling him about her aunt, Mandy Best. Charity's mother Abigail had moved in with her older sister after their brother had gambled the last of the family's once large fortune away. Now they all lived cramped together in a tiny house, struggling to get by, while enduring aunt Mandy's terrible mood swings.
Mandy seemed to simply relish pushing her niece around. There was no obvious reason for this. Charity could only surmise that it had to do with an old feud between families, which had been laid to rest before Charity had even been born. But apparently the tempers of those who grew up in the midst of the Gooder-Best feud still ran hot.
Charity had been born as the illegitimate child of Abigail Best and Sebastian Gooder. This made her aunt Mandy despise both her traitorous sister as well as the offspring of this depraved union.
Freddie thought that aunt Mandy sounded like a true monster.
Listening to Charity was really the nicest part about being at a museum. Fred liked how animated she could become once she started talking. She waved her hands around and made the cutest faces! And the way the light bounced off her hair was really pretty...
"You're such a good listener," she finished. Then, with a sweet smile she added, "Thanks for putting up with me. Let's head inside, shall we?"
"Wow, look," Freddie exclaimed, running up to something that had caught his eye. "It's a giant poster of Three Men & a Llama!"
"Yes," Charity sighed. "Even the art gallery here is just posters and memorabilia from pop stars..."
"Uhm, yeah. That sucks." This seemed like the right thing to say. Actually, Freddie thought that Three Men & a Llama were a pretty awesome band.
"You know," Charity went on as they walked outside onto the viewing platform, "There used to be a public library here in Starlight Shores, a long time ago."
"But of course, first they converted it into a luxury resort, and then they tore it down to build that monstrosity..."
"You mean the arcade?" he asked.
She sighed. A fresh breeze that carried the ocean's scent gently ruffled her curls. Fred couldn't keep his eyes off of her as she gazed into the distance.
"Do you ever wish you could be somewhere else, Freddie?"
"I like it right here," he said, boldly taking her hand.
Her lips tasted faintly of strawberries.
"Dude, that's kind of messed up." Todd's now obvious revulsion tore Fred out of his reverie.
"Huh?" Fred was surprised that Todd would react that way. He'd just gotten his first kiss too, after all! But wait a moment... had he actually been saying all this out loud? He could have sworn he was just thinking...
"Why on earth would you carry that thing around? Where did you even pull it from just now?!" Todd continued. "Have you seriously been keeping a snake in your pocket?!"
Later that evening, Freddie's parents were equally shocked at their son's new acquisition.
"His name is Levi," he informed them. "Can I keep him? Please?"
Evelyn's eyes darted towards her husband, silently begging for help.
"Chérie," Rémy whispered, "You know, I think this might be a good thing. Maybe taking care of a pet will make the boy learn to be more responsible, no?"
"But... a snake?" Evelyn fretted, "Isn't that... I don't know... dangerous?" She glanced furtively at her youngest son, who was happily playing with that writhing, slithering reptile.
"It's not venomous," Freddie chimed in. "It bit me a bunch of times already and I'm totally fine!"
What a way to calm a worried mother's mind.
Willing to try anything to make her youngest son more responsible, Evelyn finally gave in.
However, the task of caring for Freddie's new pet soon fell to her. With a sigh and a shudder Evelyn resigned herself to her new daily task. She preferred to wait until the snake was asleep before dropping in the reptile food though.
Todd was moping. Ever since that kiss at the festival, Fleur had not been returning his phone calls. In fact, she had berated her little brother for even giving Todd her number in the first place. This was something Fred decided to keep to himself though, to spare his best friend's feelings.
"You know, Todd," Fred began carefully, "The twins are always so busy with their movie stuff and all - I bet Fleur doesn't even have time for a boyfriend. Maybe you should just forget about her and--"
"Not this again," Todd moaned. "You keep saying that, like you just don't see that we were meant for each other! She LOVES me and I LOVE HER!"
Fred's eyes briefly met Larissa's and she gave a tiny shrug.
"What?!" Todd snapped. He'd been really on edge lately, always teetering between melancholy and rage. "What?!"
A glimpse of a familiar mop of blonde hair gave Fred an excuse to steer the awkward conversation towards a new direction.
"Hey, Charity," He called, waving at her.
Reluctantly, Charity approached the trio.
"Hey, do you want to hang out? We were thinking about watching a movie or going to the arcade," he said.
"Uhm..." Her voice was low and quiet. "I'm sorry, I can't. I have to go to study club."
Fred's face fell. Dang! Charity didn't like the arcade, right? How could he have been so stupid!
"Oh," he managed.
"Uhm... but we could meet Thursday afternoon, if you like," Charity offered.
"Sure, Thursday's good!" Fred's face broke into a wide grin.
Now barely containing her laughter, Larissa jeered, "Sheesh, you sure you don't have to study some more on Thursday too?"
"Well, see you then," Charity mumbled before slinking off.
"Nerd," Larissa coughed.
"What was that for?" Fred complained to Larissa when Charity was out of earshot. "Why do you have to be so mean to her?"
"It was a joke, man," Todd mollified. "You know Rissa. She's always yanking our chains too."
"Yeah," Larissa agreed. "It's not my fault if she can't take it."
Fred puffed out a breath of air, thinking. They were right, Larissa was always cracking jokes like this about Todd and himself. Obviously she didn't mean anything bad by it - they were her best friends after all.
Still, when she did this to Charity, it felt different somehow...
"Come on, dude," Todd urged Fred out of his contemplation. "Let's get going. I really need to unwind."
And of course, the best place they knew for that was the arcade!
After playing a couple of rounds of Longhorns and Laser Beams, the three friends made their way out back to chill in the secret garden.
"So, where are you going to take her on Thursday?" Larissa wanted to know. "The beach or the arcade or..."
"Nah, I think Charity isn't really interested in the arcade at all. She prefers reading books to playing games."
"Well, that's lame," Larissa scoffed.
"Bummer," Todd conceded.
"It's okay though. I don't mind doing what she wants to do. It's like... like... I don't really know how to explain it. Like she's all delicate or something, like a flower. And you have to be careful with a flower, right? Not handle it too roughly and all?"
"Yeah," Todd confirmed wisely. "You gotta treat the ladies right."
Neither one of the boys noticed Larissa's sour mood for the rest of the evening.
"Is Fred here?"
The twins' birthday party was about to start and Evelyn was busying herself in the kitchen while the guests began to trickle in. She'd been preparing this day for a long time, planning the decorations and sending out invitations. Of course, Fred's friends didn't require formalities like invitations to show up at her house.
"Hello to you too, Larissa," Evelyn replied with a wry smile. "He's in his room, but I'm sure he'll be right out."
"Freddie!" Larissa exclaimed, wrapping Fred in a tight embrace.
"Uh, hi Rissa," he said in surprise, hugging her back. They didn't usually greet each other like this.
"So, how do you like my dress," she prompted when they pulled apart.
"Really?" Larissa could feel the warm blood rising in her cheeks.
"Yeah! You look just like that final boss from Attack of the PlantSims! You know, the one with all the flowers and tentacles and a crazy face like this?" He pulled on his lower eyelids and stuck his tongue out. "That one rocked!"
"Oh yeah, that one..." Larissa forced a smile to hide her disappointment. "That one was cool..."
As the sun began to set, it was time for the highlight of the party.
The twins stood in front of the cakes which their mother had so lovingly prepared.
Evelyn couldn't help feeling a little wistful. Her sweet baby daughters were going to be adults already! After laboring all day to make sure the party was going to be absolutely perfect, she stood in a quiet corner, hoping that no one would notice the tears in her eyes.
The other guests cheered them on happily.
One guest in particular was very excited. Fleur tried hard not to look in his direction.
They aged up into two dazzling young women, ready to take on the world!
"Hey Faye, happy birthday! I caught this cockatoo for you!"
"You put a bird into that box?!"
"Mrs D, or should I call you 'Mom'?" Todd flashed a wide smile. "Now that Fleur is an adult, I think it's about time we made it official. I want to ask you for your daughter's hand in marriage!"
Evelyn was at a loss. What was the boy talking about?!
"Well, Todd, I really can't be the one to make that kind of decision for my daughters... You'll have to take that up with Fleur yourself."
Fleur had been mingling with the guests, graciously accepting birthday gifts and congratulations, when Todd finally managed to corner her.
"Fleur, I have the best birthday present ever for you! Your mother just gave us her blessing to get married! Happy birthday, my love," he announced, gently stroking her arm.
"My Mom said that?!" Fleur's eyebrows shot up in shocked disbelief.
"Well, not in so many words, but..." his voice trailed off.
Fleur sighed and shook her head to herself. It didn't matter.
She had come to regret taking her sister up on her dare. It was just supposed to be a joke, a stupid prank - who could have anticipated that this wannabe Casanova would start following her around like a little lovesick puppy?
Well, ignoring the problem had not made it go away. Fleur was now officially an adult - it was time to start acting like one and face this head-on.
"Todd," she began, "You're very sweet, but... don't you think I'm a little too old for you?"
"It's alright, babe," he grinned. "I don't mind that you're a bit of a cougar. Besides," he added, wiggling his eyebrows, "I believe I'm fully equipped to handle a real woman."
Fleur exhaled sharply. This was going to be more difficult than she'd hoped. She steeled herself. Honesty was the best policy and all that.
"Todd, this isn't going to work out. You're very nice, but I just don't have feelings for you."
"BITCH," he exploded. "How DARE you break up with me!" Seething, he added, "Pah, see if I care! You think you're so special with your nice hair and perfect skin and... and... enticing... beautiful..."
His last words were choked by a sob before Todd took off running towards the door.
And now a big round of hugs for Todd!
It's true, this version of Starlight Shores doesn't have a public library O_O I'm playing in Starlight Shores Revisited by crimsonium, which I really like because of the high rise buildings, but one of the additions to the city was a resort in place of the library! And now my arcade is there... I placed the art gallery up in the hills like the Getty Center in LA, but I never found a good spot to reintroduce the library :( I'll have to get on that!