Bit of a Delay…

I was nearly done with Chapter 8 when, in my obsessive re-reading of my current piece of writing, I opened my draft with in my kindle. Well, an extremely early draft was already open in my wordpress app and the damn auto save feature is very effective. Now my chapter has been reduced to my earliest version of the chapter.

So there will be a delay.

😦

*EDIT* THANK GOD that wordpress saves copies of revisions…I found my old version!! 😀 😀

Whew….what a morning….

On a brighter note, I started re-reading The Count of Monte Cristo for the fourth time. ^.^

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Chapter 7: Confusion

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I keep checking the front window to see if he is here. God, I’m so nervous. It was never a big deal when he came over before but lately he is all I can think about and I’m just psyching myself out.

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Stop this craziness, Nessie, I tell myself. Exhaling and walking away from the window I decide to immerse myself in some reading to take my mind off things.

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Just as I sit down with a book I hear that knock I know so well. Damn, I was hoping to hear the car approach and have some warning. I try to control my breathing as I walk to the door. The thought crosses my mind to peek out the window once more, but then..no, he might see me and that would look weird. I don’t want to look weird.

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Reaching the door I inhale as I open it. “Hi”

“Hey” He stepped inside. “I should have brought my edger to clean up your lawn…”,  he mentioned as he closed the door.

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He stopped mid-sentence, eyes making a quick scan of me top to bottom. I felt my cheeks flush and placed a hand over one shoulder self consciously.
He smiled. “I like the new look.” was all he said.

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“Thanks.” and I finally really look at him. “You have a new look too- and your hair even.”

He looks good. His hair is swept over his cheekbones, framing his emerald eyes.

“Oh…yeah” he said running a hand through his hair. “I’m too old to be dressing like a goddamn hippie, besides I’m nearly done with school I figured I should clean up a little.”

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“I like it.” I started toward the living room. “I guess we’ve both changed.”
————————
“Yeah, I guess so…”

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As she is walking away, I can’t help but be mesmerized by the smooth bare skin of her shoulders,

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the way the skirt swings as her hips move,

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those slender legs…

She usually hides beneath layers of clothing, but this is something new.

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I followed her to the living room and she sat on the couch stiffly, looking nervous.
I sat at the other end. “So what’s goin’ on?” I asked casually.

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Her eyes darted to me, “Wh- What do you mean?”

“uhhhh…I don’t know? What do you mean?” I’m starting to get confused now. She is acting strange.

After a moment, she giggled as she replied, “uh, nothing. It’s nothing.”

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I gave her a skeptical look. “OH kay” I said dramatically. It’s never nothing.

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Anyway, are you glad to be on a break finally? You’ve been at school non-stop.” She asked, changing the subject.

“Oh yeah, but you know the summertime courses are mostly lab work so that’s no big deal. Last weekend me and the guys went to Sunset Valley for scuba diving, again. But the regular school year is pretty grueling, especially now that I’m in the high level courses.”

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She questioned me about all about school and seemed to loosen up a little as we talked. Soon she was smiling and laughing like usual. I had been nervous for a bit that today might be a repeat of last time I’d been here. I hated seeing her sad like that.
When she called to tell me how the trip went, I was so relieved that her parents finally realized the pain they had caused. That night she broke down, I had wanted so badly to tell her how I feel. Tell her she’s not alone and that I would be there for her, tell her that I love her.

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As the conversation turned to her summer activities, she jumped up excitedly. “You have to see the pictures they sent me! Come!”

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As she showed off the pictures I felt confident I had done the right thing not confessing my feelings that night. If I had, I think there would have been little hope of her going on the trip. I would hate to be a part of the wedge that had been driven between her and them. And to be honest, I was a little apprehensive about taking advantage of her emotional state. I didn’t want her to take a step in desperation that she might later regret. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t regret it…the thought of that is pretty depressing…but I have to consider the possibility. Given the nature of our relationship, I can’t assume she will return my feelings.

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But this time…as I watch her speak animatedly about her parents I know that she is in a better place.

“…and this one”, Nessie said gesturing to a picture of a little girl. “I made that toy especially for her. I even engraved her name on it.”

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“You’re pretty amazing.” I reply, smiling at her.
She took my statement as a joke, rolling her eyes and laughing. “Yes well, I do what I can.”

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She turned to leave the room, but I stopped her placing my hand on her arm.
“Nes..”

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The air in the room changed, I could feel her tense up. Not sure how to read that, my thoughts race. Does she sense where this is going? Is she anticipating or dreading? Surely she must feel the electricity I feel when we touch.

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She looked at my hand and then up at me, her eyes wide and questioning. Her lips slightly part as she inhales.
“uh..” My mind has gone blank, overwhelmed with the urge to kiss her. But inexplicably, I hesitate.

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“Hugh, what is it?” Her voice brings me out of my trance.

I drop my hand from her arm.

“Umm…”The moment is lost. “My mother wanted me to invite you for dinner tonight, it’s getting to be that time..”

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“Oh” She looked away. “Of course I’ll go, just…give me a minute to wash up.” She quickly left the room.

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I sighed and leaned on the dresser, my head in my hands “What the hell, man?”
———–
What the hell was that?

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I leaned on the inside of the bathroom door, placing my hand over my racing heart.
My stomach in a tight knot, my face feeling as if it’s on fire.
The way he had looked at me…
but then he invited me to dinner, or really Helen did.
What was he going to tell me? It’s obviously something important. Maybe he met someone and it’s serious. Or he got a career opportunity that will take him far away.

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Ugh, this is so frustrating! I was a bundle of nerves when he arrived and then finally I calmed down and realized I was nervous over nothing. Our conversation had flowed so easily and we had spent hours talking. Then suddenly he screws it all up and I can barely stand to be in the same room with him!
I splashed water on my neck to cool myself down a bit then headed out to face him.

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He was already outside, his eyes closed breathing the warm summer air. I admired him for a moment,  he has broad strong shoulders from swimming. A breeze rustled his hair and my heart skipped a beat, but the sudden emotion makes me want to smack him upside the head. What is he hiding? As I closed the front door he turned and looked at me. “Ready?”
I don’t meet his gaze, “yeah” I reply briskly as I walk straight to the passenger side of the car.

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The car ride was pretty silent, but I noticed him shooting me curious looks. I was relieved he didn’t ask what was the matter, because I didn’t really know what to say.
I’m mad because I’m nervous around you and I don’t want to be. But I can’t help it, I want more…
No way I could say that, talk about awkward. I could never look him in the eye if he didn’t say he felt the same.

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Dinner was great, I love being with Robert and Helen. I’ve seen them a few times this summer but not enough. I have really come to appreciate everything they did for me over the years.

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After dinner, we all chatted in the living room for a while.

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I caught Hugh looking at me a few times like he was trying to figure something out. Of course it was always while I was in the middle of talking so I just tried to ignore it. By the end of the night I was annoyed, tired of being uncomfortable, and ready to go home.

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When the car came to a stop in front of my house I wasted no time opening the door, “Goodnight Hugh.”

“What? Goodni-”

I shut the door before he finished speaking, he sounded surprised. I half expected him to jump out of the car and stop me, but he didn’t.

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Once inside, I waited at the door until I heard him drive away. I pulled out my phone to call Enya, but realized it’s way too late to call her. Good thing I’m seeing her tomorrow, we have a lot to talk about.

Chapter 6: Uncertainty

1

My eyes peel open, letting the oppressive light from the window in.
I don’t remember spending the night at Enya’s house. I sit up, my head feels like it’s full of lead.

2

Sitting on the edge of the bed I try to remember last night. I remember sitting at the table, I remember watching people dancing…
I look at my phone to check the time, using my other hand to try and rub away the headache. Instead of my home screen, my dialer is open…and Hugh’s number is typed in.

3

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit
I quickly check the call history…yep, I called him. Oh shit.

What do I do? Call him back? Wait for him to call? I have to know what I said.

4

Enya! She will know. I fly off the bed and throw open the door, nearly knocking her over as I rush out of the room.

“Woah! What the hell? I was just coming to see if you were awake! Why are you..”

“Enya” I interrupt, panicked. “I called Hugh last night a-a-and I don’t remember. What did I say, did you hear? Did I talk to him? Did I leave a voicemail?”

5

Her shock turned to amusement as a big smile spread across her face. “Oooooh my God you drunk dialed Hugh!” She laughed.

“It’s not funny! What could I possibly have had to say to him?”

6

“I can think of a couple things.” She put her hand up to her ear and spoke in a mocking seductive voice. ‘Hi Hugh, it’s Nessie. I just wanted to tell you how sexy you are..'”

“You are NOT helping.” I squeezed my head with my hands. “What am I gonna do??”

“Just wait for him to call you. That’s what I would do. Whether you talked with him or left a voicemail I’m sure he will follow up with you.”, she answered nonchalantly.

As if on cue the phone rang. We both stood frozen for a second. I reluctantly check the caller ID. It’s him. I look at Enya in shock as I turn the phone so she could see who it is.

7

She didn’t even miss a beat and stuck her finger out, pressing the button to answer.

8

I cry out “What the HELL!” Then quickly turn the phone to my ear while shooting her a death stare. “Hello?” I answer, my voice strained.

“Hey” I can tell he is smiling.

9

I had to get straight to the point, it’s eating me up. “Uh, about the call…last night. Wh-what did I say? I don’t really remember..”

“You don’t remember?”He asked, clearly amused.

“No..”, I felt dread creeping into my mind. God, what did I say?!

“Well, that is a shame. We had a really nice chat.” he replied cordially.

10

“Oh no…”

“Oh yes, we talked about all kinds of things. Tell me again what it was like making out with Kearney?”

11

“WHAT?!” I screamed with such a high pitch I hurt my own ears. Enya winced and gave me an inquiring look. I’m gonna be sick.

Hugh was laughing hysterically.

“Nessie, I’m just kidding” He said, still cracking up.

12

Relief washed through me, “Oh my God…” I should have known it was a trick. He would never bring up something like that so lightly. Enya would have certainly said something too. I felt my cheeks burning with embarrassment that I was so gullible.

Hugh continued, “You left me some barely intelligible voicemail about how you wanted to dance or something. You mentioned Kearney was there, and I know how much you looove him.”

12a

“You- You are such a jerk Hugh!” How could he do that to me? “You almost gave me a heart attack!”

“Oh c’mon you set yourself up. If you are going to be drunk dialing people, you gotta be prepared for the repercussions.”He countered, playfully defensive.

13

“I don’t need this- you are just- ugh-I am hanging up now. Good day!!”

I heard him still laughing as I ended the call.

Enya was eyeing me suggestively.”So….?”

I sighed heavily, shaking my head in exasperation. After a moment I remarked “I’m starving.”
Enya burst out laughing.

14

“You’ve got to start coming out with me more often.” She giggled as she threw her arm around me and we headed for the kitchen. “Just don’t make me carry you home every time.”

“You had just better savor this moment, because it is never happening again.”
———————————–
Since that day I’ve managed to avoid getting drunk off my ass. I was annoyed at Hugh for teasing me like that, but I guess I deserved it. It is kinda funny, now that I think about it. Besides I was just relieved I hadn’t said anything…important.

15

The summer has kept me fairly busy. I’ve slowed down on toy production since I have given the orphanages a decent supply. I’ve also gotten to talk to my parents a couple of times but contact has been limited now that they are in a more rural area.

16

17

I was really moved when I received a package in the mail full of drawings and thank you notes from the kids. They even included some pictures!

17a

This one is my favorite.

18

Enya and Dermot’s wedding is coming up in about two weeks. I have been helping her with planning, and that has been a lot of fun. They are heading straight to school in Moonlight Falls the week following the wedding. Enya says they will go on a honeymoon later, with school and the wedding money is understandably a little tight.

Ugh, I still need to write my maid of honor speech.

19

Once they leave I will have a week to myself and then my parents arrive home! It works out perfectly because that will give me some time to get started on the online classes I signed up for. I’m not sure what direction I’ll go with a degree- maybe some sort of engineering- but these are just a couple prerequisite classes. Once I decide on a degree path I will probably have to transfer to a University. Moonlight Falls would be awesome to visit, but Riverview- where Hugh attends- does have a better engineering program.

20

I asked Hugh about it when he called a couple weeks ago, he thinks I would like it there. The town is pretty low key.

To be honest, ever since that phone call I’ve been able to think of little else. He is planning to be back for the wedding, arriving in town the Sunday before. The thought of seeing him caused my stomach to flutter.

21

Over this summer I had been becoming increasingly aware of my feelings for him. I always thought he was attractive, but up until that night before the trip I didn’t seriously consider my attraction turning into something real.
I remember the way he looked at me that night. Was there a spark of something there? Obviously he cares for me, but like a sister? Or something more? All questions and no answers, and all questions I am too afraid to ask. I would be mortified to confess to him, only to find out he’s not interested.

22

I will just have to wait and see.

Chapter 5: Courage

1

Turning around in front of the mirror, I inspected the back of the dress. Looks pretty good.

2

“Oooh Nessie, I really like that one”, Enya exclaimed as she came out to show off her own outfit.
We decided to do a little extra shopping after picking out my maid of honor dress. Enya thought it was about time I updated my style.

3

“You don’t think it is too bare? My shoulders feel naked.”

4

“That’s cuz they are. Trust me, girl, bare shoulders are hardly scandalous.” She laughed, giving me a pointed look.

5

“I guess..” I gave the front another once over then turned my attention to Enya’s outfit. “Yours looks really good, that is all you for sure.”

6

“Yeah I love this! I think I will wear it out tonight.” She gushed, giving a flourish.”You gonna come out too?”

7

“I don’t know, I’ll just be the third wheel.”

“Actually Dermot invited Kearney…”

“Oh God, well in that case I’m there.” I said sarcastically, rolling my eyes.

8

Enya nudged my shoulder playfully. “Oh cmon, he’s not that bad. Besides it’s not like you have to hang out with him…you just won’t technically be the third wheel.”, she said brightly.

9

“That makes me feel soooo much better.”, I replied as I headed back to the dressing room to change.

“You’d better take that dress!”, Enya called after me.

10

Smoothing out the fabric, I took one last look before changing. Maybe I really should buy it. I feel like I’ve sort of turned a new leaf, and what better way to broadcast that than a new look?
Since coming home from China I have completely supplied the new orphanage with all sorts of toys and I’m making more for the other locations. Enya helped me ask for donations from people around town and I have found that though most don’t think I’m so crazy anymore they still feel the need to taunt me…

toys

Very funny, guys…

12

I smiled with satisfaction that I probably got more donations because of that.

13

I exited the dressing room and headed for the register. Enya was already paying. She grinned as I walked up.

“Yay! Im excited you are getting the dress!”

“Me too!”

14

“Ok seriously, you have to come out tonight. You can’t buy a new dress and then not go out.”

Giving her an exasperated look, I consented,”Fiiiiine.”

She squealed and bounced excitedly and then proceeded to look at some items nearby while I paid.

15

I wonder what Hugh would think of this dress. My insides twisted and I started feeling really nervous. Good thing he is not in town. I will have time to get used to it before I see him again.

16

Back at home I changed into the new dress. Enya and Dermot are going to pick me up at seven. I fiddled with my hair, but decided to just leave it as usual. I really have no idea what to do with it anyway.

I just finished getting ready when the car pulled up.

17

I took a deep breath and one last glance in the mirror before heading out the door. This is the first time I will be going to a bar and the way Enya describes it, it doesn’t really sound like my scene but I’ve decided that this summer is going to be about getting out of my comfort zone.

18

Everything I’ve tried so far has worked out pretty well, I just have to be open minded.

19

Arriving at the bar, the first thing I noticed is that I am way out of touch with popular music. The place is pretty packed and the noise level is astronomical. Enya said something, but I didn’t understand until she pointed to a table in the corner.

20

We made our way over and sat down.
It is slightly quieter here, I can hear my thoughts just enough to know I’m not brain dead yet.

21

“What’ll ya have?”, the waitress yelled over the noise.

22

Having no idea where to even start, I just shrugged and looked at Enya.

“We’ll both have Tropic Twister and this guy will have a Buckwheat Blast.”

Dermot just smiled and nodded happily. He does whatever Enya says and loves it, which is perfect for her since she will always get her way anyway.

23

Seeing them so perfectly together always makes me think about my future. More specifically, who I will end up with. I mean, I certainly have my preference…but who is to say he feels the same…

24

A body slumped into the seat next to me, jarring me from my thoughts. It was Kearney, the insufferable fool.

25

“Hey.” He said, trying to sound cool. He thinks he is so suave.

I rolled my eyes and glanced at Enya, but she was still in her own world with Dermot.

“Sooo they talked you into being my date? Can I get you a drink?”

26

“They did NOT talk me into being your date, Kearney. And I already have a drink coming.”

“Well, dibs on the next one. Care to dance?”

27

The look I gave him caused him to throw his hands up. “Hey, Woah, I see you aren’t in the mood just yet. I’ll be back when you’ve had your drink.

28

Dermot, you’re on wingman duty. Let’s roll!”

Dermot looked at Enya and she nodded her consent. The boys headed off in the direction of some cute girls and I sighed with relief.
Me and Enya exchanged looks and laughed. The drinks arrived.

29

“Just in time! I love to sit and watch the boys walk around trying to get Kearney a date. Every now and again he is lucky, but usually it is awkward as hell!”

Enya had mentioned to me before how Dermot would play wingman for Kearney, I was actually quite eager to watch the train wreck.

30

I tentatively took a sip of my drink. My eyes watered as it burned my throat on the way down. Aside from that the flavor was pretty nice, not too sweet.

31

Kearney had better luck than we expected, so I ended up having to buy my second drink. Pretty soon Dermot came by to ask Enya to dance. She hesitated, but I assured her I was just fine watching from the table. It was definitely preferable to making some attempt at dancing.

32

The alcohol started to take effect after I finished the second drink. I felt almost giddy, like a kid again. The waitress came by “Another?” she asked, to which I nodded enthusiastically. The more the better! The music, while still not something I would choose, sounded more tolerable now and I found myself bouncing to the beat.

33

I watched the crowd. Everyone’s smiling, laughing, just moving with the music and not thinking about anything but right now.

I see Kearney watching his new friend lustfully and Enya giggling as Dermot paws at her playfully.

34

Feeling brave, I throw back the rest of my drink- then regret it slightly as the burning causes me to cough- but I have a great idea. No, a brilliant idea!

36

Pulling out my phone, I dial a familiar number.

37

It rings.

And again.

Cmon, pick up.

I hear his voice, “Hello”

38

“Hi!” I exclaim a little too excitedly, “It’s me! So this is crazy but..”

39

“You have reached Hugh Grey, leave me a message and Ill get back to you.”, the voice mail greeting continued in his genial voice.

*beeep*

40

Embarrassed, I snorted a laugh. “I just thought your voice mail was you! You should be here right now, we could make fun of Kearney together cuz he is being a real tool. I’ve never wanted to dance before, but now I kind of want to and nobody has asked me. I know you would- or maybe you wouldn’t want to dance but at least I would have someone to talk to.” I rambled.
“So anyway you probably cant even hear me since the music is so loud but…”

*beeeep*”If you are finished with this message, please hang up…”,The automated voice began.

41

“Fucking rude!” I yelled and ended the call. Tossing the phone on the table, I got to my feet defiantly.

42

I don’t need anyone to ask me to dance, I’ll do it myself…once this table stops moving….

43

“Nessie! Sit. Before you fall on your face.” I heard Enya’s voice and felt her pushing me back onto the seat. “How are you so drunk?”

“She is just a lightweight.” Dermot stated.

“I don’t wanna sit!”I whined.”I wanna dance!”

“You cant even stand, Nessie.” Enya giggled.

44

I let out a frustrated groan, “God it’s hot in here.” I started pulling up the skirt of my dress to let some air in.

“OOHHH kay…I think its time to leave.”, she exclaimed while slapping my skirt back down.

45

“Dermot, grab her arm and let’s get her out of here before her clothes fall off.”

—————————————————-

Both lots used for this chapter were created by elle0808

Ella Ray’s Salon

The Three Broomsticks

Chapter 4: Reparation

1

I’ve been working feverishly on these toys all week. I’ve had a couple failures, but once I got some good designs I’ve made as many copies as I can.

2

So far the kids are liking them, which feels good.

3

While I am very happy to be putting smiles on the children’s faces, I am feeling pretty stressed. For starters, I’m really getting homesick. I long for the comfort of my bed and the smell of my sheets. I miss the sound of the lake and the bugs that chirp incessantly in the evenings. There is none of that here and I’ve been losing sleep. The other thing is…

4

I stopped working and sighed. I don’t know what I expected coming here. We haven’t spent any real time together since the plane ride. You know, I get it, they have things to do, but seriously I’m only here for a week and am leaving tomorrow. Both of them are just go go go all the time.

5

I started up hammering again. I’ve had a lot of time to think while working on these toys, and I realized that even when I did travel with them it was like this.

6

My hammering got harder. They are so caught up in their work and they just expect me to be fine on my own.

Why don’t they see that I’m not fine! The final hit of the hammer produced a crack from the mass of scrap and cloth.

7

“Shit.” I murmured. I’ve ruined this one.

8

Sweeping it aside I got out some fresh materials.
I heard my mom come in the room, probably to gather some ingredients for dinner. Breakfast, Dinner and when she came to inspect my creations were the only times I had been seeing her during the day. She was always running around tending to washing, helping get meals ready, and teaching lessons to the kids. My father stays holed up in his office working on paper work or inspecting rooms making sure everything was up to code. The fact that they were doing pressing tasks is what held me back from just….exploding.

9

“You know” she started. “I am so glad you found something you could do here. I knew if you just came along you would see where you fit in.” She smiled at me in a way that I thought I would surely be sick.

10

I placed my hands on the table, feeling my temper rising. “I didn’t need to come here to find out I could make toys, I have a work table at home if you hadn’t noticed.”, I stated through clenched teeth.

“I did notice since it takes up most of the living room. It took you coming here to get your inspiration though, wouldn’t you say?”

11

“I don’t know Mom, I guess.” I relented.
“Nessie, dear, what’s wrong?” She asked, reaching for my shoulder.

12

I stepped away quickly. “No, don’t…touch me. Don’t pretend you care about how I feel.”, I spat, my voice quivering with fury.
Her eyes were wide with confusion and hurt, which made me even more upset. She doesn’t even realize why I’m mad, she is completely oblivious.

12a

I unloaded on her. “You are unbelievable. You left me to fend for myself while you took care of children who aren’t even yours! You don’t know anything about your only biological child! If you knew me, you could have asked me to help years ago. I could have made these toys, Mom, if you would have seen my potential instead of just writing me off.”

She struggled for words as I stared her down. “Nessie, I…I don’t…I didn’t…”

13

I stormed past her, not in any mood to listen to her stammering some excuse about how she didn’t know.

14

Once in my room, I collapsed on the bed letting my tears fall freely on the pillow. I just want to go home.

After some time passed I heard my father’s voice. “Nessie, can I come in?”, he asked tapping the door.

“No!” I replied.

The door creaked open.

Throwing up my hands in defeat I moved to give him room to sit down. “Come on in.” I said with a snarky tone.

15

He looked down for a moment and took a breath before beginning.
“Nessie, I love you. You are my daughter and I want you to be happy. Your mother…”

I huffed, turning my head away, causing him to pause.

“Your mother”, he continued,”wants the same thing. I feared this, you know. I was apprehensive about letting you stay behind because I didn’t want you to feel neglected.

“Then why didn’t you do something when I started to feel that way?”I asked incredulously

“I didn’t know Nessie. Really.”

16

There it is, he didn’t know. How is it that they can see the needs of every forgotten and broken child except the one right under their noses.

He continued, “You have always been quiet and reserved and when we visited home you never made any indications…”

17

“I shouldn’t have to ask my parents for their time!” I screamed at him as I stood up.” I shouldn’t have to say that I’m feeling neglected. You should have seen it. You should have known. But you don’t know me well enough to see it.”

18

The pain etched in my father’s face made me regret saying that last part, as much as I meant it. I turned away from him and cried bitterly, distressed that I had hurt them both like that just from finally voicing my feelings.

19

My fathers arms wrapped around me, “I’m sorry Nessie, I’m so sorry.” He stroked my hair softly.
“Hurting you is the last thing we ever wanted to do. You were so independent as a child, always quiet and keeping to yourself. I thought that things were how you wanted when we left you at home.”

“They were.”, I sighed.”For a while…I never had a choice on being independent, Dad, even when I traveled with you I was alone. Don’t you realize that? Didn’t you miss me?”

“Of course I did..” he started, but I cut him off, turning to face him.

20

“Didn’t you ever want to stop leaving me?”

21

His eyes were full of anguish. He turned and walked to the bed, slumping down on it and letting his face fall into his hands. “God, how could I have been so blind. I failed you, Nessie. I don’t even know how to express how sorry I am.
I never desired to leave you, but I thought that was what you wanted so I let it go. Our work really took off and left so little down time…
When we visited you practically avoided us, I just chalked it up to your independence. You never said…you needed me.” His voice cracked with those last words.

22

I looked at him with pity as he rambled, imploring me to understand his side of things. I reflected on the times when they would visit home. Once I started feeling overlooked I hadn’t given them much chance to make it right. I thought about all the times they asked how I was doing, and I gave a curt ‘fine’, pretending I was okay. How I started ignoring their phone calls and retreated within myself when they were home or when they tried to take me out to spend time together. For the first time I considered how things look from their point of view. Maybe they should have pried at me some more, but I had closed myself off a long time ago. I had let angst turn to an anger that fed into a deep seated resentment, and that resentment had clouded my mind until it was all I could see.

23

“I’m sorry too, Daddy.” I said quickly as I sat down throwing myself into his embrace.

He held me tighter, “No, none of this is your fault.”, He stressed.

24

My mother had crept into the room, her eyes red from crying.
Seeing her in such a forlorn state brought fresh tears to my eyes.

25

“Mom I’m sorry for the awful things I said.” I cried as I pulled her into a hug.

26

“No you were right” she said, taking measured breaths to keep her emotions under control, “I’m a complete failure as a mother, I couldn’t even see my own daughter felt abandoned. I’m sorry, Nessie. I love you and all I want is to fix this.  You don’t have to leave tomorrow, you can stay and we will get a hotel in Shang Simla and just spend time together in the city away from distractions.”

27

Just the offer, the fact that they would drop everything for me, was more meaningful than I could have imagined. As tempting as it was, I would feel guilty. “You guys are needed here though, I don’t want to completely throw off your work.” I said looking at both of them.
“How about this”, My dad spoke up,” You don’t leave until the afternoon so we will drive you into town early and we will spend the morning together. Then when we are finished with our current project toward the end of the summer, we will come home and stay with you.”  My eyes widened at him.

28

“For a month?” he said gesturing toward my mom. “I think we could do that.”

29

I looked at my mother and she nodded in agreement.”Yeah we can do that”

30

I hugged them both, feeling lighter than air. “Thank you so much, I love you!”

31

That night as I laid down to go to sleep, I felt at peace. I am going home tomorrow, things are on the mend with my parents, and I have an entire month with them to look forward to. As I dozed, my thoughts turned to him and I smiled. This is all his fault.

Sorry for the delay!

I have a lot of the next chapter typed up, but I felt it was missing something so I left it alone for a few days(plus vacation, 4th of July, my husband has bronchitis…the list goes on). I plan to re-read it tonight and start getting my pics taken and hopefully will have a chapter out this weekend!

I have been busy simming in the mean time though, I did a couple updates on my baby challenge and in my Walk of Life challenge I had a ghost baby!!! I’m so excited about that! 😀

Also, I read the book Metro 2033 and it is AMAZING. It is definitely one of my favorite books now. I read the epilogue and started Metro 2034 last night. You should read it, too. 🙂

Anyway, on to editing my chapter. ^.^

Happy 4th of July!!

Just sayin hello! I got back from San Diego on the 2nd and got straight to deep cleaning everything in my apartment in preparation for company. A couple friends from Chicago just arrived so I’ll be fairly busy this holiday weekend. I should have some time to work on Chapter 4 and most of it is written anyhow. 🙂

Hope your holiday is fun and safe(if you celebrate the 4th, that is)

Chapter 3: Cultivation

Damn that man

1

I cursed to myself as we settled into our seats on the plane. Here I am sitting in the one place I never thought I would sit again, and it is all his fault.

2

A small smile played on my lips as I thought about our conversation the other night. He’d just given me a look and I went against years of resentment and agreed to do the one thing I had resolved not to do.

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Before we left I called him to tell him off.

He found it all very amusing, “Everything will be fine Nessie, just relax and have fun.”

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Have fun? Unbelievable!!

3

“Watcha thinking about?”, mom interrupted my thoughts.

“Nothing really, just thinking.”

4

“Are you nervous? It has been a long time since you have been back, a lot has changed. I think you will  have a better time than before.” She smiled warmly at me.

5

I can tell she is really excited I came along. We are headed to China where my parents are overseeing the opening of a new orphanage they’ve been planning. They have opened three other orphanages in different areas of China and spend much of their time checking in with them and bringing supplies. China is not the only country they do work in, but it has been a sort of pet project for quite a few years now. As I contemplated all the things they do, I felt a hint of pride. They are good people.

6

I realized she was still waiting for a response,”Oh..yeah. It will be interesting..”

“I wanted to wait until we got there to surprise you, but I can’t. Here.”

7

Reaching into her bag, she pulled out a brand new Multitab and handed it to me.

“Wow, thanks mom.” I had seen these but never really considered getting one. They do look pretty handy.

8

“We got it all set up already, so you can get right to using it.” My dad chimed in. He had been reading a Dragon Valley newspaper, catching up on things going on around town.

They both looked at me expectantly.

“Thank you.” I smiled at them. “It wont be much fun to watch me read so you can stop staring at me now”

9

They both laughed and sat back in their seats. I noticed we were already in the air. I am not afraid of flying, in fact I enjoy it. It is the one thing I would look forward to when I traveled. Being in the air is such a calming and quiet experience. I’ve taken off and landed so many times I hardly notice it, even after all these years.

10

I played around with the Multitab for a while. Since they weren’t planning on giving it to me until we landed there wasn’t much on there and I couldn’t access the internet while in the air so I ran out of things to do pretty soon.  I placed it in my bag and got out the magazine Hugh gave me. I had tried to hold off reading the entire thing so I would actually have something left to read while flying.

11

“What is that?” My mother had noticed my change of reading material.

“Just a magazine. Hugh bought me a subscription as a grad gift.” I replied as I turned the page.

12

“That was nice of him.” She gave me a strange smile before pulling out some reading of her own.

13

I looked back down at my magazine, finding it difficult to focus on the words. I know what she is implying with that smile, but there isn’t anything between me and Hugh besides friendship. I’m basically his sister. Besides you don’t buy magazine subscriptions for girls you have a romantic interest in, right?

14

Giving up on reading I leaned back in the seat.

It’s not like I have never thought about him that way, I have. Who wouldn’t though? He is hot.

That doesn’t really mean anything, and I don’t see why he would have any interest in me. He has dated a couple of girls in the past and they are nothing like me.

15

The first one was Ava. She had white blonde hair and creamy skin, very glamorous.

I didn’t like her much, too clingy.

16

Then he dated a girl named Morida. Red hair and green eyes. She was really beautiful. I know he really liked her and they dated longer. She broke it off with him eventually, I’m not really sure why.

I am glad though, I never thought they fit together. I don’t know if he has dated anyone since leaving for college. He probably has girls falling all over him at University…

17

I can’t think about that anymore.

18

I tossed the magazine back in my bag and leaned my chair back to take a nap. Sleep stayed far away and my mind wandered to the week ahead. That is how long I committed to this trip though my parents bought me an open ticket so I can stay longer if I wish.

Heh, doubtful.

They will be staying for at least a month and then they will be going to a more remote area with another couple to survey the conditions there and see what services are needed.

Being in this plane and anticipating the experience ahead brought back memories I hadn’t revisited for a long time.

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I remember seeing poor people and handing out clothing and shoes. I remember sleeping in sleeping bags spread across decaying floors in the small houses of the families that hosted us. My parents were just starting their work on the orphanages then.

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I would spend most days with the host families while my parents went out to network. My favorite time was when we all sat around the table at dinner and then my dad would read me a bedtime story…

24

“Nessie, wake up. We just landed.” Mom was nudging my arm. I hadn’t even realized I’d fallen asleep.

Gathering our bags, we made our way off the plane and out of the airport to meet our ride.

25

Dayna, the lead volunteer in charge of the orphanage, drove us out. It took us a few hours to get up into the mountains where the village is nestled.

26

As we ascended the last hill, the building came into view.

“Here we are.” Dayna said brightly.

27

We exited the cramped vehicle and carried our bags inside. The building is not palatial by any means, but it is quite beautiful and will serve its purpose well for the children already making it their home.

28

Dayna led me to a small room. “Here is where you’ll stay, Ms. Nessie.”

29

That sounded weird.

“You can just call me Nessie.” I insisted.

“Oh, sorry.” She said with a laugh. “The children will be calling you Ms. Nessie. I usually end up using the same names they do for reinforcement.”

“In that case, you can call me that. I didn’t think of that.”

“Alright, please make yourself comfortable.” She smiled and left the room, no doubt to attend to what I assume is a very daunting to-do list.

30

Tiny. It is better than a sleeping bag on the floor though, I’ll admit. I closed me eyes and exhaled, I really have to try to be open to all this again.

31

I ventured out to find my parents. I came upon them talking with Dayna about how things were running so far. I heard her say they had just moved in a couple days before and were still getting things set up.

33

My mom noticed me and left my dad to handle the details. “So what do you think?” She was beaming.

34

“It’s great mom.” I meant it too. I still traveled with them around the time the first orphanage was completed and it was nowhere near as nice.

She smiled, “Come, let’s meet the children. I know some of them but there are many new kids I have yet to see.”

35

She led me to a playroom where the children were entertaining themselves.

36

A couple of the older ones ran to my mom, embracing her. I felt ridiculous as a pang of jealousy shot through me.

37

Watching her greet them, I felt ashamed for being jealous. These kids have no one else.

38

39

Some of them their families couldn’t afford to raise, some lost their parents to starvation or disease.

40

Some were simply the wrong gender.

Looking at their innocent faces, I acknowledged that the sacrifice of my parents time was not in vain. It won’t heal my wounds from feeling neglected and unworthy, but I can make a conscious effort to accept that these children have needs greater than mine.

41

“Gather around, children!” My mom announced. “I want you to meet my daughter Ms. Nessie. She came to visit you!”

Some of them said hello, others just looked at me like they were waiting for something.

“Erm..hi, I’m Nes..Ms. Nessie” I stammered. One girl giggled. I realized they already know my name.

My mom stepped in, “How about you kids tell her your names?”

They went around saying their names, which I am going to have to hear a few times to remember. The older kids pointed out the toddler’s names and I was drawn to the little one in the corner, I believe they had called her Jia Li.

42

I approached her and sat down.

“Hi Jia Li.”

43

She looked at me with her big eyes, still toying with the loose threads on her teddy bear.

“It’s nice to meet you. Does your bear have a name?”

44

Sheepishly she looked at the bear and then back at me. She held it out to me. Not sure what to do I took the ragged toy from her tiny hands.

45

“I wish I had brought you a new bear, Jia.” I looked around the room noticing a distinct lack of toys, and the ones strewn about were in similar shape to this one.

46

I met her deep brown eyes again. “I think I can help.” I said, talking to myself as much as her.

I offered the bear back to her and got to my feet to talk to my mother.

47

“Mom, how come there are so few toys for the kids to play with? And the ones that are here aren’t in good shape.”

48

My mom sighed as she looked over all the kids. “We just can’t afford it. We rely on donations for toys and we have been spread pretty thin lately with the addition of this building. All the money we have goes to necessities like food and utilities, we’ve had to prioritize.”

49

“Well maybe I could make toys, mom. I’ve made other things at that worktable I have at home, how hard could it be to make some toys?”

51

“Nessie, that would be wonderful!” My mom’s eyes lit up. Dayna had just entered the room and heard our conversation.

52

“It would be incredible if you could do that for us. It just so happens that the construction volunteers left a worktable in the storage room. Maybe you could try making some while you are here!”

“How fortunate!”My mom exclaimed.

“I could give it a shot.”I replied.

53

Handing off the baby, I think her name is Mei, my mom pulled me into a hug. “I’m so glad you came.”, she said softly.

54

I nodded, giving a small smile. My mind was already working to come up with some toy designs. Excusing myself I headed back to my room.

55

As I sat on the bed with my notebook in hand, I imagined how I had felt I could sock Hugh in his smug face when he suggested coming here. I have to admit, although I miss being home, it isn’t as bad as I expected.

56

Putting my pencil to the paper, I began sketching.

Working Hard!!

Hey guys! I just wanted to let you know I’m working on the next chapter, it is just a lot of work because I have to build some environments and it is taking a while. I’m going out of town starting on June 27th so I’m going to try and get chapter 3 and 4 out before that. 🙂

Chapter 2: Encouragement

1

“Nessie, dear, have you made a decision?”

I shrugged indifference, not looking up from the book I was reading. My parents have been pressuring me for an answer about going on the trip with them. They leave in two days and I haven’t been able to give them a straight answer. I don’t want to leave, but I don’t want them to leave without me again. Why can’t they just stay with me for a while?

2

“Nessie”, my mother said carefully. “We have to finalize our plans today, I need an answer  yes or no.”

3

4

I slapped my book shut and glared at her, causing her to step back a bit. She was shocked by my anger, and I was a little shocked too. I couldn’t help it. Every time either one of my parents brought up leaving I felt my skin boiling with rage.

5

I stalked out of the room without saying a word, what could I say that hadn’t already been said over the years? I have just become an adult and I am completely aimless, yet they can’t stop their lives for one second to help me.

6

I felt tears burning my eyes as I shut myself into my bedroom.

7

I had been sulking in my room for a while when I heard a knock at the front door. I know that knock.

8

“Hey Nellie! It is great to see you!”

“Hello Hugh, nice to see you too. How is University?”

9

“Going good, just one year left. Where is our new graduate? I feel terrible I couldn’t be here for it.”

“She is in her room.”

10

I could hear his footsteps coming toward my door. I wiped my eyes, waiting for his knock.

He tapped lightly on the door.”Hey Nes, can I come in?”

11

Turning on the light, I opened the door. He stepped in smiling, like he always was. I wanted to smile back but I didn’t. I kept my eyes low trying to hide that I had been crying.

12

“What, no hug?” He said jokingly, half-heartedly holding out his arms. He knows how I am about personal space.

But today is different. Today that little string that has been holding my emotions together snapped the moment he knocked on that door.

13

I ran into his arms, sobbing into his shoulder.

14

“Woah woah woah, what is going on here?” He tentatively wrapped his arms around me. “What’s wrong?”

15

A couple minutes passed as I composed myself. “I’m sorry.”, I sniffled as I pulled myself away. My cheeks started to burn with embarrassment when I saw the wet spot on his shoulder. “Sorry.”, I said again as brushed my hand over it, irrationally hoping it would magically disappear.

16

He barely glanced away from my face. His eyes were full of concern, I had never cried in front of him before. Whenever I was feeling emotional I talked to Enya.

“Nes, What’s wrong? Is it your parents being home?”

17

I shook my head, but then nodded. “Sort of. It…It’s..they want me to go with them when they leave and…I don’t know what to do. I don’t want that life, Hugh, and they won’t spare a moment to think of me and what I want, or to help me get there.”

18

“What do you want? I’m sure if you told them…”

19

“I don’t know what I want!!” I cut him off, fresh tears streaming from my eyes.” It’s not that simple.”

“You must want something, anything.” He said quietly.

20

After a moment, “I want them to stay with me, for just a while. I…want them to acknowledge that what I like to do, and that who I am, matters.

21

I felt my anger rising,”All I hear from them is how much I am missing out in their lives, and how fulfilling their lives are, and how I should join them for old times sake.”

22

Hugh sighed and stepped back to look at me. I started to feel guilty that he had come here happy and was being pulled down by my sadness.

23

He lightly put his hands on my arms,”Nessie, listen to me.” He gave me a tug, causing me to look into his eyes.

24

“I know that your parents have hurt you, I have seen that for a long time, trust me. But they are still your parents and they do love you, despite what you think. You should give them another chance. They may not ever see things your way, but you can’t go on with your life if you hold onto this anger.”

I broke my gaze and he dropped his hands to his sides

25

“I think you should go with them.”, a tiny smirk starting at the corner of his mouth

26

What did he say? He must be joking!  Looking into his eyes I knew he was serious.

27

“No….no, no, no” I shook my head as I walked over to look out the window.

“It has been a long time since you have, and you might be surprised by how things look when you are an adult.”

28

I stood silent for a minute, regretting that I wasn’t talking to Enya about this. She would just listen and comfort me, not….be right about everything, damn it.  At least about the anger part, I am sure I won’t feel any different about jetting half way around the world to live in some shoddy tent for a month. Besides I can’t just leave when…

Hugh broke the silence,”I’m only here for the weekend, if you are thinking of using me being home as an excuse by the way.”

Damn it!

29

He could tell he had caught what I was thinking, giving me that smug look he always did when he had read my mind.

30

“Rock, Paper, Scissors?” He taunted.

31

“I’m not giving you that satisfaction.” I shot back, a smile daring to form on my lips.

32

He chuckled softly and started to pull what looked like a rolled up magazine from his pocket.

“Uh, here I got you this for your graduation. They have these at the science center at the University. I always…uh…I thought you would like them”

It was a copy of  the Simternational Journal of Engineering Science. Interesting.

33

He quickly added,”I got you a subscription, it’s not like I just swiped the latest copy from the library.”

34

I sat down on the edge of my bed flipping through the pages. Articles about inventions and potions, discussions on experiments, and even something called a Simbot! I have got to read about that…

Hugh cleared his throat, snapping me out of my trance.

“Oh, yeah” I let out a nervous laugh. “Thank you, Hugh. This is really nice of you.”

35

He shrugged as he sat down next to me  “Now you have something to read on the plane.”

That again. I put my hands over my face and groaned as I fell back on the bed.

36

Fine, I’ll go with them.” The words felt empty but I had said them, I said them out loud, I said them to someone who will hold me accountable. I have to do it now.

37

We spent the rest of the evening talking about his time at University and our plans for the summer. He is going to do a summer program so he will be gone. I’m just going to do what I always do, but maybe I will get a job somewhere. I’ll worry about that after I get back from God-knows-where.

38

By the time he left I was feeling much better. He had plans for the next day so this would be the last time I saw him for a while. I told my parents to include me in their plans, but I didn’t have the energy to talk about where we would be going and what we would be doing. I’ll deal with that tomorrow.

39

I shut the door to my room and flopped down on my bed, still wondering how he had convinced me to agree to go as I opened up my new magazine. I turned to the article about the Simbot.

This should be a very interesting summer.