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Eliza and Patrick: Food

Getting toddlers to savour new foods could be a challenge, Eliza was adamant regarding what textures passed her lips, Patrick wanted everything. Rylan surrendered to Eliza, she knew her mind, chocolate made its way to her plate to keep her quiet. It was his fault, describing spaghetti as worms, the olives that topped the taco casserole were animal droppings. Patrick reached for food, whatever Emilie ate he wanted to taste it, unfazed by Rylan’s attempts to tease and deter him. Emilie tempted Eliza, tiny portions of colour, she loved a vegetable rainbow plate, they intrigued her eldest, except when it came to meat, she folded her arms unimpressed. Her father made it clear meat came from animals, taking her stuff toy and putting it on a plate next to her dinner, emphasising where it came from. The real cuteness, Patrick, to show he understood he tried the ham slice pointing at Lawrence the pig, a big grin on his face.

Patrick

It came a no surprised Patrick would be keen to taste the world, he needed watching as grass, leaves and dirt were quick to pass his lips. Eliza had enjoyed many of her meals outside, comfortable on the grass and happy to eat the plated food. Patrick fussed in his high chair, homemade spaghetti, he wanted to get his hands in, the idea they were worms slipping through his fingers made dinner entertaining.

The differences were evident, Patrick needed constant stimulation, boring of simple tasks, he wanted constant fun and attention. Playtime filled the time when waiting for meals, Emilie set him up with blocks, toys, or she would wrestle the tablet from Eliza, nothing worked. His attention span was goldfish level, Emilie stared at the mounting dishes, succumbing to her needy son. Collapsing on the sofa would be the perfect way to relax when he took his afternoon nap, however, Rylan’s complaints, the state of the house she missed the time alone.

Patrick

Eliza was the saving grace, she excelled in keeping herself entertained, she loved watching videos on the tablet, picking up the nursery rhymes and talking adventure with the play area Unicorn, the oversized plushy. The difference came from her enjoyment of stories, her grandfather Jose’s children’s books were fascinating, despite Rylan’s possessive nature for his father’s work, Eliza respected the books. Patrick preferred to suck them, inspecting everything with his mouth, the majority gnawed. Despite their relocation to the top shelf, Rylan hid one book in his study, Eliza enjoyed the hunt, knowing the reward was a voyage of imagination. Her independence asserted itself at playgroup, her skills exceeded those of the other toddlers, the nursery teachers were recommending entranced to Buckingham High, a specialist school, they took children as young as five, honing their skills and challenging the minds of these budding geniuses. Emilie believed this was the place, the cost was a none issue, she could imagine her daughter as a doctor or delivering scientific breakthroughs, it was unfortunate Rylan believed that Newcrest High was decent, after all, it was good enough for him.

Eliza: Just a key, Right?

Eliza hummed. Milly noticed the joyful melody of a love song as her cousin danced through the apartment. The regular dates with Scarlett energised Eliza. As she cooked, Eliza shared Scarlett’s recommendations to enhance the meal. Scarlett’s love of food influenced Eliza, and she wanted to impress them. Their time together increased, making Eliza consider asking Scarlett to move in. What concerned her was taking care of Milly. Eliza needed to put her cousin first.

Eliza and Milly

Milly considered the idea; she loved seeing the big smile and relaxed vibe Eliza had. Since moving to San Myshuno, Milly felt life was a black cloud threatening rain. The new school came with cliques, established and not looking for newbies. They were not mean. Milly wished they were; at least, that would be an acknowledgement of her existence. A few teens spoke to her during class, as teachers encouraged teamwork. She felt isolated at lunchtime, sitting alone at the table or outside the main building. Eliza gave up her full social calendar to ensure Milly settled, so she hated complaining. Guilt weighed heavy on Eliza’s shoulders. It made her want to be present in Daciana and Luliana’s life. There was not enough of Eliza’s time to share with everyone. Milly wanted to be selfish, but at the same time, Eliza needed to have the love she deserved. Scarlett had been supportive during Eliza’s anaemia diagnosis. That had been the extent of Milly’s interaction. Whatever Eliza decided, Milly assured her she would be supportive.

Eliza knew she was overthinking her relationship and whether she was ready for the next step. City living came with its challenges, first the rat-infested apartment and job demands. There was also her rising suspicion the building’s owner Mr Carrington might not be on the level. Concerns he would want a quid pro quo were not unfounded. He paid for their cat’s cremation, and since had shown increased interest in her career. The recent absence from matches saw her receive several well-wishes from him. Eliza shuddered, clearing the thought from her mind. GeekCon was on and Eliza felt confident she could compete and win a gaming tournament. Another reason for the determination to win was the beautiful Scarlett who would go with her.

GeekCon took place in the Fashion District across the river from Eliza. She had, with jealous eyes admired the apartments as she scoured the paper looking for a place for her and Milly. The festival hosted the usual food and obligatory t-shirt and mementoes. Amateur actors volunteered to dress up as superheroes and movie villains. Fans crowded, snapping pictures pretending they met the real deal. Two massive rockets separated the gaming areas and hackathon computers. The first rocket was complete and a pilot remained at the helm. Eliza watched as excited and frisky passengers waited their turn to ride into space. The other rocket came with “how-to” instructions. There were pops and bangs as wannabe rocket scientists put their skills to the test. The first game area was what Eliza had her eye on, a virtual reality action game. She was certain her athletic ability, and quick reaction times would get her a perfect score. Eliza was not a natural gamer, her score beaten by other competitors.

Scarlett threaded their arm through Eliza’s, tucking a stray lock behind their ear. The closeness made winning seem a frivolous goal to have. They nudged their shoulder against Eliza, guiding them to the Observatory. The telescope was the perfect place to capture images of the night sky, but GeekCon was a daytime event. Eliza suspected some were spying on the surrounding apartments. After all, gazing up at the blue sky through a lens did not sound exciting. Scarlett held her hands, pulling her into the tight space. Eliza discovered a new perspective on daytime observations. The telescope jerked and spun as Eliza pressed against the controls. The observatory echoed and rattled with the motion contained within. The two emerged, flustered and with passers-by raising a knowing eyebrow.

On the tube, they sat cosied up. Eliza felt conscious as though everyone knew what they were doing in the observatory. Scarlett kissed her cheek as they arrive on the third floor, heading for their door. It had to be now, Eliza reached for their hand, the words crumpled in the wrong order. Scarlett accepted the key, a freedom to come and go as they pleased in Eliza’s home. They leaned in, taking Eliza’s face in their hands. A deep probing kiss was the promise to explore the cosmos together.

Patrick: A Promise to My Daughters

Part Two

The conversation no father wants to have had arrived. When it came to the girls, Patrick believed himself honest. He considered the possibility they would want to know their biological parents. Charlotte brought that day closer, and he wanted to be selfish. She walked away from her responsibility, regardless of her reasons. Patrick yelled at his sister, uninterested in why she chose Caleb. Instead, he discovered, to transition, Charlotte died. A vampire transformation required Caleb to kill her, draining her blood. Once mixed with his, Caleb made her drink, watching as life slipped. A painful and slow process. It made Patrick feel sick, and his stomach twisted. He walked for hours, ignoring Eliza’s pleas to take the train home.

He found Leticia and his two girls asleep on the sofa, the television switched on and split popcorn. They snuggled together, a perfect family scene. If no one told the outside world these three were unrelated, would anyone be wise to the truth? Leticia smiled as Patrick covered them with a blanket, waking the sleepy girls. Daciana reached for Patrick; he settled next to her as her affection transferred to him. Leticia gave him a tired, concerned look, squeezing his hand.

Daciana, Luliana and Patrick

The conversation no father wants to have had arrived. Patrick listened to the girls giggle as they did their homework. He let out a deep sigh, wondering if he should have taken Eliza up on the offer of support. Patrick knew they were his children, but he could not deny the girl’s similarity to his sister. The question had always been when, not if, they would meet their birth parents. Charlotte was not giving him or them much time; she wanted an answer. Eliza attempted to bargain, suggesting a neutral time, a location where the girls would feel at ease. Patrick wondered if vampires understood compromise. He shook his head, they took what they needed when they wanted.

Daciana huffed, teeth gritted, her arms folded tight across her chest. If their parents wanted to see them and have a relationship, they would have taken care of them. Patrick was their father, and Daciana knew she did not want to see her so-called parents. Luliana’s silence worried Patrick; there were tears on her face. Her lower lip quivered. Daciana nudged her, inviting her for a swim. A violent shake of the head almost unleashed her watery pain.

Patrick stepped out to make a call, leaving Luliana alone. She gathered her strength and paints. Anger, screams, Luliana let go of everything she held in. Paints splashed, squeezed in her hand. The nerve of Charlotte to request they meet; Harvestfest was for family. Milly promised to help make decorations, and Patrick was going to do fish. Luliana remained defiant, Patrick was her father, and she wanted Leticia to be her mother. What right did Caleb and Charlotte have to demand their presence? Patrick ran into the room to find red-faced Luliana. She pointed to the bedroom where Daciana was changing. The paint had splashed on Luliana’s clothes and hands. There had been no reason to lie. She was afraid Patrick would yell, instead, he spoke with understanding.

Patrick and Luliana

This journey would have consequences for them all. Patrick believed they should visit Caleb and Charlotte. Whether they realise it or not, the girls should know them. He hugged Luliana tight, kissing the top of her head. Luliana trembled, mumbled objections sobbed into his sweater. She needed to know he would never give them back, a promise Patrick swore to keep.

Patrick: A Promise to my daughters

Part One

Windenberg was a place Patrick had not visited. He planned to bring the twins, but he was unsure the historic town would capture their interest. He wondered if tales of monsters living in the waters would inspire Daciana. He could weave in stories of noble ladies to captivate Luliana. An uneasy feeling gnawed, leaving the girls with Leticia could be disastrous. Patrick knew the twins were trouble and might scare Leticia away. Luliana had married Scarlett and Eliza and was already hoping for Leticia to play the mother. They persuaded him a girl’s night in with popcorn and movies would be a bonding experience.

Within the ruins of a castle, Juliana convinced him to meet her. Patrick sensed she was not truthful on the phone. The hesitant, cryptic conversation style reminded him of the twins when they lied. Whatever the reason behind her sudden call, Patrick was curious. When he arrived, his chest tightened, Eliza’s face was stony, lips tight, and nostrils flared. Patrick followed the line of vision to the petite blonde, Charlotte. The tension built inside. Despite her absence, he feared Charlotte was there to demand her children.

Eliza, Charlotte and Patrick

Charlotte seemed smaller, shoulders rounded, head bowed, and arms folded, hugging herself. Patrick wanted to hug her, let go of the tears of joy and welcome her back into their lives. Except he could not do that, both Eliza and Juliana mentioned he should not touch her. It seemed odd, Eliza never talked about what happened. She refused to share where Charlotte was hiding, Patrick knew something spooked her. Eliza rubbed her neck, capturing Charlotte’s attention, and both took a few steps back. Juliana broke the silence, inviting them to a neutral location to open communication. Charlotte to explain her absence, to know how her daughters were doing.

The twin’s names in Charlotte’s voice snapped Patrick back to reality. The relief of seeing his sister alive, replaced by what he feared most. Charlotte did not get to cherry-pick her life; he raised the girls, so they were his daughters. Where was she when Luliana got her first tooth? Why did Charlotte fail to comfort Daciana as her stomach twisted, making her vomit? She missed their first day at school; the excitement when they came home. Patrick was there when Luliana fell, grazing her knee and read her stories. When Daciana pushed another girl for stealing Luliana’s homework, he disciplined her. Charlotte chose to abandon the twins, but he never could.

This time it was him stepping back as Charlotte lunged forward, hissing. Juliana placed a calming hand on her shoulder, easing her back. The four of them were breaking the rules made by the Ministry of Magic. The law stated when Caleb took Charlotte as his mate, her old life was over. A human representative should have notified them of her death. They would have mourned and moved on with their lives. Juliana continued, her voice cold, monotone and rehearsed. This would have been clear-cut, except Charlotte was a mother. Her presence in Forgotten Hollow stopped Caleb from getting clean. During their relationship, Charlotte allowed him to drink from her. Vampires can revert to their old desires, Caleb was wrestling his. Charlotte chose Caleb and the life he offered.

Eliza stifled a nervous laugh. Since vampires were undead, it was weird to call their existence life. She had been holding herself steady, but the whole situation was disturbing. They were having a conversation where vampires were real.

Patrick looked confused, unclear how Juliana could be Caleb’s daughter. It implied he was much older than his appearance, and as with Charlotte, time stood still. For him and Eliza, a few hidden flecks of grey and wrinkles he wanted to hide. They were older and, in his case, less defined. His brain struggled to compute the vampire references. They were fictional stories his baby sister escaped into when life got too much for her. Patrick’s breathing grew rapid, and sweat beaded on his brow. Charlotte grew interested in his heartbeat, inching towards him. If everything said was true, then Charlotte died. She had died, and he did not keep his promise to Emilie to protect her.

Eliza, Patrick and Charlotte

Juliana distracted Charlotte, handing her a plasma pack. She snatched it, moving away from the group. Patrick choked, covering his mouth, shocked and staggering back into Eliza. She hugged him; the shock for her was months ago. Accepting Juliana’s invitation brought her reservations. The last time she saw Charlotte, she attacked, putting Eliza in the hospital. Juliana promised things were different, Charlotte had a measure of control. As for the twins, they were human. Patrick needed to relax as Charlotte would leave them in his care.

Charlotte stood near Patrick; the blood-stained lips made him shudder. He swallowed, but his dry throat made it hard. She wanted to host Harvestfest, to have him and the twins attend. There was that rightful tone, it riled Patrick. It was as though the girls were a commodity Charlotte remembered she once owned. Patrick opened his mouth, but Eliza answered. Charlotte did not force the issue, she wanted to make amends. Daciana and Luliana might find meeting their parents a frightening experience. Patrick would talk to them, as their father, and decide as a family. Charlotte nodded, allowing Juliana to guide her away.

Pose one https://www.tumbex.com/sim-plyreality.tumblr/post/175122311301

Poses two https://sense-company.wixsite.com/thesense4/single-post/2017/04/26/Disagreement

Patrick: Leticia London

Patrick was the luckiest man alive; how could he not be? Every weekend he awoke by two excitable girls eager to get pancakes for breakfast. There were few foods Daciana would tolerate stomach pains. He never doubted the power of maple syrup and bacon. His job progressed at a gentle pace. It allowed him time to research the plants which populated Sims nation. The last part was his relationship with the beautiful Leticia. Patrick hoped the girls would love her, as he was ready to commit. Leticia needed to meet their approval, so he could be the perfect family man.

Luliana, Daciana Patrick and Leticia

Breakfast would be at the new restaurant in Willow Creek with Leticia. The girls giggled through the whole journey. A degree of excitement that they could be on their way to meet their new mummy. Patrick knew Daciana would be the one they had to convince. He had been honest with the girls up to a point. They knew he was their uncle, but his dedication to them earned him the title of ‘Daddy’. As for their mother, Charlotte left when they were a few months old. Their father, Caleb, had been absent through everything. Patrick wished he had the answers to why she abandoned them. Luliana clung to the idea of Charlotte, a fairy tale princess, lost and imprisoned by an evil witch. Caleb was searching, battling monsters, and would one day rescue her. When that day came, they would live happily ever after as a family.

The girls stared at the menu. Despite their pleasant introduction to Leticia, they were starving. Patrick joked about how his daughters were monsters until they had food inside them. Daciana lowered her menu to stick her tongue out at him. Leticia laughed as it confirmed Patrick’s comment. She watched as they drowned the fluffy pancakes in maple syrup. Daciana paused, panic in her eyes. At home, she could eat and curl up on the sofa to watch cartoons. The pretty pictures helped to take her mind off the pain. Leticia smiled; Patrick explained Daciana had been unwell. She pushed her pancakes toward Daciana, asking if she could apply the perfect amount of syrup. Luliana helps, adding butter, laughing as Leticia patted her stomach. She wondered how with this decadence, she would keep up with them.

Daciana and Patrick

Patrick settled opposite Daciana, resetting the chess pieces. It had been a few days since they met Leticia, and Luliana voiced her opinion. She had him married and wondered if Leticia would be alright if she called her ‘mummy’. He pondered the board, knowing Daciana had calculated three moves ahead. As Patrick placed his hand on the pawn, Daciana giggled, making him doubt the move. She wanted to know; if he loved Leticia and if she could love them as he did. Patrick did not have a quick answer, nor could he promise Daciana anything. He worried this was a deal breaker, and she would decide they were better off as they were. Doing anything for these girls had come at a cost. Patrick gave up on his solo adventures. Choosing his old life came in moments of stress, which he never vocalised, but it weighed him down with guilt.

Daciana pressed her lips together, patting them with her index finger. Her eyes scanned the room, considering his question. Patrick squirmed under her silence. She pushed her king into position, ‘checkmate’. Daciana continued to manoeuvre the board. He watched as Daciana cleared all the pieces except her king, his queen and two pawns. If Patrick was in love with Leticia, then she was the missing piece in their family. Daciana and Luliana agreed when Patrick was ready, Leticia should live with them.

Daciana & Luliana: Sisters

Daciana pits her wits against her sister, pondering the best combination of moves. She studies the pieces, frustrating Luliana. Both knew the loser would have to clean up their toys. Luliana preferred to flip a coin with an equal chance that Daciana would have to clean instead of her. Daciana took immense pleasure in outsmarting her opponent. She was a sore loser, throwing a tantrum until Luliana agreed to help her. The same never worked in reverse; Daciana lounged, pointing to the mess as Luliana cleaned.

Daciana and Luliana

Differences between the girls were growing clearer. Daciana struggled, never feeling she belonged. She fidgeted in school, resented doing her homework and had fewer friends. Luliana had her mother’s flair, announcing her social group, “The Power of Friendship”. Luliana decided it was an exclusive club. Daciana, although invited to hang out, would never be an official member. Patrick tried to reason with Luliana, suggesting she was more inclusive of her sister. He knew Daciana did not help matters; she liked to be in charge, bossing the others and in, their eyes spoiling the fun. She sat on the side lines, listening to Luliana and her friendship group laughing in the pool. A girl joined Daciana, helping her build the paper Mache castle. Daciana narrowed her eyes, lips pressed together in a thin line. The girl mentioned her love of fairy tales, the soppy romance Daciana despised. She appreciated the assistance, so Daciana held in her annoyance. Her hands crushed the toilet roll tower to vent. The girl did not seem to notice; she carried on with her joyful description. She glanced up watching Daciana pick paper from her hands asking what stories she would tell.

The scent of barbecued chicken made mouths water, summoning the children. Patrick handed plates to everyone, watching as Daciana slumped on her heels. Food continued to give Daciana a stomach ache; she hated mealtimes. Eating with her family was alright; they knew her struggles. He popped her food back under the barbecue to keep it warm. It was difficult not knowing how to help her. The doctor’s tested a variety of scenarios. They ruled out allergies, disease and other complications. The final solution involved bland food and high-calorie supplement drinks. Daciana would pull a face, sticking out her tongue. Patrick wanted to snatch the drink and pour it down the drain. If he could hold her until the pain disappeared, things could still be ok. Watching his daughter cry tore him up inside, but he had to encourage her to eat something.

Daciana

After dinner, Daciana watched Luliana and friends do their homework. They were discussing math, Daciana’s favourite subject. They were stuck, but Daciana’s voice lodged in her throat as she listened. She approached, fighting the urge to cry or yell as the other children shuffled away from her. They accepted Daciana’s knowledge with a degree of reluctance. As she settled, they implied her usefulness was complete. She sulked away, her head down and gaze narrowed as they said goodbye.

When the parents arrived, Daciana watched another girl grab Luliana’s homework. She skipped towards the gate, cocking her head and crossing her arms as Daciana stepped in front. The girl had no intention of admitting to stealing Luliana’s homework. Daciana shoved her hard, knocking her to the path. As the girl sobbed, clutching her grazed arm, Daciana grabbed the bag, pulling out the stolen book. Luliana could have all the friends she wanted, but no one could mess with her except Daciana.

Eliza: Rose’s are…

Her mouth was dry, and it had nothing to do with the desert plains of Oasis Springs. Eliza tugged the fabric of her clothes, trying to cool herself as she awaited Scarlett. It was the maiden voyage, the first date, with Scarlett and of her whole life. Eliza was in her mid-thirties, coming to the end of a successful sporting career. When Scarlett called, Eliza worried what Scarlett would think of her distant tone. That the distraction by her nieces when accepting a date meant Eliza was not interested. Scarlett arrived flustered, apologising for their lateness. A last-minute change to the trains, and they missed the connection.

Scarlett and Eliza

The Chez Llama had changed little over the years. A fresh coat of paint and menu changes kept people returning. The balcony offered views of endless burnt land, rocks and artificial grassed areas. Scarlett’s gaze drifted across the land. They were nervous; on their first date in years. The waiter hovered, impatient to get the order and make fewer trips up the stairs. Otherwise, the balcony was private, making Eliza wonder if lunch was the best idea for a date. The waiter added to the awkwardness and pressure to decide. His sighing and pencil tapping against the pad irritated them both.

Scarlett had shown themselves a capable chef; the meals they provided were heaven. Eliza flushed, panic sitting at the back of her throat concerned she might make a dining faux pas. What would Scarlett think if she mispronounced the name of a dish or paired the wrong drink. Relief flooded her as Scarlett suggested a few they would love to try. Eliza agreed to share and was grateful Scarlett knew the correct wine to request.

In the silence left by the waiter, Scarlett led the discussion. They were curious about how Eliza became a soccer player and what plans she may have for the future. The conversation flowed; with sweet nectar and divine food. Eliza had put little thought into life after sports. Since it was a few years away, she believed there would be ample time. Scarlett’s life came with tragedy, as their parents died during a volcanic eruption. They had lived in Sulani all their lives and had never seen one. It happened fast, there were no warnings, as the lava bombed their home. Scarlett decided to move to the city rather than trying to rebuild. With the monsoon season approaching, it was futile to try. They hoped to one day return, open a restaurant in honour of their family.

Talking with Scarlett seemed natural, a sense they had always known each other. This comfort gave Eliza confidence in her desire as their eyes lingered on each other. The flecks of red in Scarlett’s eyes were clear as the sun danced around them, glistening like ruby’s. Eliza found her gaze tracing the curves of their face. She rested a moment on Scarlett’s lips, the way they shaped around the words. Neither had stopped smiling and when Scarlett spoke of her parents, Eliza touched her arm. The touch developed into a subtle stroke, giving Scarlett goose bumps. They pulled their arm back and interlocked their fingers with Eliza’s, eyes resting on the act.

Scarlett and Eliza

They both reached for the bill as the impatient waiter dropped it. Gentle laughter filled the space. Eliza took charge; it was the least she could do to say thank you. Scarlett had conditions; they wanted a second date. Another chance to explore the romance festival as a couple. Butterflies filled Eliza, had her ears deceived her or did Scarlett want them to be official?

Eliza brushed stray hair from Scarlett’s face, her fingers tracing their jaw. Her lips brushed theirs, a tentative and faint kiss. Scarlett’s hands rested on Eliza’s hips, sliding upwards to her waist and back. They pressed closer. The kiss was firm, complete and dizzying. Eliza never wanted to let go of Scarlett, as they were all that tethered her to this world.

Eliza: Realisations

Eliza squeezed Milly’s hand; it was time. Patrick had completed his memorial garden with a waterfall and wildflowers. He hoped the family would come to reflect and remember those they had lost. Milly clutched Vicky’s urn; it felt final. She spoke to her daily. How would her mother hear when buried in another town? Eliza took the ashes and placed them in the hole next to the headstone, covering them with fresh soil. They stood staring at the ground; Milly read the inscription, and her voice trembled. A few lines summed up the life of a woman who meant the world to her. It told future generations nothing of the wonderful person they had been. Who would remember the artists they helped curate or the mother she had been? Eliza said it was in the stories they told which would give Vicky immortal wings. She was an angel that Milly’s children would recall as legend.

Eliza and Milly

When Patrick created the garden, he believed the water would be soothing. The bright colours were to bring joy when tears flowed. A meditation stool was his final touch. Patrick had not considered how this tranquil space would fare alongside Daciana and Luliana. The twins ran into Aunt Eliza’s arms. She squeezed them tight, ushering them into the house under the promise of cake. Eliza glanced over her shoulder as they reached the door. Milly froze to the spot, unable to tear her eyes away from Vicky and Ziva’s resting place. The finality was too much; she sank to the ground sobbing. Eliza did not want to leave her alone, but with eager nieces, there was little choice.

Daciana insisted on showing Eliza all their new toys. An overwhelming delivery of birthday gifts designed to spoil his daughters. Eliza expected nothing less from him; they called him “daddy”, and he never corrected them. Patrick worried, knowing Eliza was not telling him the whole truth. She could not explain her findings, and worse, Charlotte had attacked her. Eliza debated the latter part, but it made a disturbing sense. This new reality was where their sister had become the fantasy monster. The romanticised Vampire stories Charlotte told her, were true. Eliza had believed they were the ideals of a teenager looking to escape family life. The two distinct marks on her neck were insufficient. Eliza needed proof of her sister’s transformation. Caleb’s style, his home, they were carbon dated. The house had a dark, dank feel, heavy velvet curtains and shielding himself from the sun. Their skin was cold; Eliza recoiled at the memory, Charlotte’s icy grip tightening on her arms.

Eliza and Daciana

A cheerful melody brought Eliza back to her senses. Scarlett’s name flashed on her screen, and four curious eyes beamed as she answered. Luliana shared her rose-tinted view of life. She loved to watch films, the damsel or princess, imprisoned and saved by the handsome prince. The notion Eliza would be going to meet her true love excited her. Luliana would be the beautiful maiden, and her prince would ride his pony to their door and whisk her away. Daciana snorted; she wanted the squash-buckling adventure. To be the one firing arrows at the enemy or a sword, bringing down the beast that threatened. Luliana squealed as Daciana jumped and chased her from the room.

Eliza: Red’s My Favourite Colour

Eliza checked her neck in the mirror, wincing at the discomfort. The bruising had reduced and localised to where the puncture marks were. It had been six weeks and she still could not recall what had happened. They were arguing; in truth, Eliza knew it was her yelling at Charlotte. Two pincers stuck into her neck, a warm, wet trickle down her throat, soaking into her clothes. Charlotte was holding her. Did she fall? Did Charlotte help her up? Nothing made sense.

Eliza

The coach benched Eliza, forcing her to miss the start of the season. Her energy levels depleted, the journey to the training ground was tiring. With regular hospital visits to treat her for anaemia, she looked to be out all season. The doctor said she fell on a barbecue fork; she was lucky a nurse was on hand to stop the bleeding. Lucky is not a word Eliza would use. Her memory of that night was hazy but falling was not a part of the equation. What had happened to Charlotte in those five years? The uncomfortable truth Eliza arrived at was Charlotte had attacked her. The sister had stood quiet, a youthful appearance despite the passing years. Forgotten Hollow was a place best avoided. It was a historic place where people changed after encountering its darkness. Eliza shivered, recalling the sense of eyes watching her swift feet carry her to Caleb’s door. She would not return, and Charlotte chose to cut ties with her family. Eliza applied the concealer. It was better to hide this strange truth. How could she answer questions or throw accusations without her memory intact?

Milly had taken the lion’s share of the housework. Eliza felt guilty, as Milly should be out with friends; instead, she was playing nursemaid to her. A flash of red interrupted Eliza’s thoughts as she stepped out of the apartment. Scarlett apologised for not visiting. They made small talk, asking how Eliza was doing and how she liked the Sixam Beast they prepared. Eliza looked confused for a moment. Milly served her a selection of meals with high iron content. During the first week home, Scarlett had assisted Milly, bringing over meals. They had been reluctant to disturb Eliza’s rest and remained on the threshold. They had been due to meet for lunch the day after Eliza visited Charlotte. Romance had been furthest from Eliza’s mind until this encounter. The memory of Scarlett’s touch danced on her skin, and a hard lump formed in her throat. Eliza panicked, her calm exterior not betrayed, but she feared her chances. Scarlett had been the one person who made her heart race. Sure, she had noticed other women, none captivated her the way Scarlett had the first time they met.

Eliza and Scarlett

The conversation took an awkward turn as neither knew quite what to say. Scarlett shuffled their feet, prompting Eliza to invite them in. Hesitant, Scarlett declined, her voice soft and nervous. Scarlett wondered if Eliza’s flirtations were real or the sakura tea. Their cheeks flushed, matching the thick glossy red hair. They hoped the forwardness of their inquiry would not damage their friendship. Eliza beamed; the thought had crossed her mind. She shared the same concerns. To be certain there were no external influences, Eliza gave Scarlett her number. It was a promise of dinner at the Chez Llama.

Charlotte: Guilty Drinker

In the years since she left Newcrest, Charlotte had died. Her resurrection remained a guarded secret. She began learning what she could from Caleb and his books. Vlad kept his distance, angry at Caleb’s reckless behaviour. He refused to meet Charlotte, fearing what reckoning they would face. Those sympathetic to their union provided plasma packs and assisted Charlotte’s development. What she lacked in speed, Charlotte made up in strength. An arm wrestle with Lilith had the sister-in-law embarrassed. Lilith prided herself on being superior to her brother. This same position she believed would apply to Charlotte. Underestimating the petite framed girl would be the undoing of several challengers. Honda, a former friend of her father, was their greatest ally, believing them to be a rival house for power. She confided this was Vlad’s fear. His reign was predicted to end by the mediums. He resented the idea they were the rising House that would take it from him.

Charlotte and Lilith

The presence of Juliana and Cliff in their lives; made Charlotte miss her family. She found it difficult to concentrate on her training, to feel connected with the world. Listless, and restless, Charlotte flicks through books, unable to absorb the knowledge. During the day, Charlotte watches the park from the window, taking care to remain in the shadows. The fallen leaves dance in the light breeze, and the bird song drills her mind. The muscles in her neck tighten, and despite a recent feed, her stomach is heavy and empty. There is a lump in her throat. Tears well beneath blue eyes. She covered her mouth, suppressing the desire to open the gates. Charlotte wanted to scream, to let the pain out. Her mind recalled the two children she abandoned, their faces forever in her memories. As the tears broke the banks, she squeezed them tight as something moved within her.

The release would be temporary. A banging interrupted her thoughts. The sun was high in the sky, and two vampires were wary of answering the door. Caleb feared a lynching. Had Vlad decided to take them out with hired hunters dragging them into the sun? He imagined his skin blistering, flames licking. Would they let him hold Charlotte, a promise to find her in the afterlife? Or would they make him watch her burn, scared, alone? The banging continued with relief as a familiar, albeit angry voice hollered.

Eliza pushed her way in as Caleb shielded himself with the door, pointing to the living area. Charlotte brushes her clothes in an attempt to appear normal. Eliza launched her attack; how she used several private investigators. The majority she never heard from, missing from their position. Eliza later discovered they were in the hospital with neck trauma. A bitterness tinted Eliza’s voice as accusations of reckless behaviour flowed. Asking how she could abandon Daciana and Luliana seemed rhetorical. The twins needed their mother. Patrick struggled; he doted on them, nursed them when they were sick, and taught them to walk, talk and swim. These were all the things Charlotte should be doing. If she needed help, they would have come together as a family. How did Charlotte not learn from their father? Ignoring problems did not make them disappear. Charlotte needed to face the consequences of her actions.

The names cut through Charlotte. She gritted her teeth, as Eliza could never understand. Fists clenched at her sides. It did not anger Charlotte as Eliza chastised her. The thing that stirred within her had needs and desires beyond Charlotte’s control.

Charlotte and Eliza

Caleb watched Eliza, her brow furrowed, breathing quick and shallow, cheeks flushed. It happened; in slow motion, the scream, the scent of blood filling his nostrils. He grabbed Charlotte’s hair as she latched on tighter. Speed was no match for her strength. Charlotte’s elbow collided with his chest snapping ribs. Caleb flew across the room, skidding over the kitchen counters. A weakening voice cut through. Eliza clawed at Charlotte, begging, her skin pale and mind dizzied. Charlotte regained control; her hand rested on her stomach, the other across her mouth.

Eliza collapsed unconscious on the sofa. Caleb held Charlotte back; her body trembled as she screamed. She reached for Eliza, apologising, pleading with her to wake up. Caleb kicked the rug, pulling Charlotte down as he yanked the trap door open. Charlotte descended, tormented and guilty.

Eliza had a weak pulse, but she was alive. He elevated her head, a compress to her neck and awaited Honda. Their friend was a nurse, or at least she had been. She brought pure plasma and gave several to Caleb to pacify Charlotte. They worked together, stemming the blood flow. Honda stitched the neck and gave her blood via a cannula. They shared a look, an understanding. Caleb would need to protect Charlotte should Vlad find out. Honda promised to watch Eliza and ensure she did not seek retribution with the Ministry.

Charlotte: Eloped

Caleb considered the future. If he were honest, Charlotte’s ability to control her power was scary. Charlotte used less energy when engaged in training. He would collapse exhausted, longing for a peaceful coffin. She would be bouncing with energy and enthusiasm. This mastery of her power was quick to realise. In mediation, Charlotte exceeded Caleb’s ability. It was as though she had been born to this life, not created. Caleb closed his eyes; they needed a change of pace, a distraction away from the training.

Caleb and Charlotte

The Chez Llama was, as Charlotte remembered it, the bright lights and crisp white linen. She inhaled; the tantalising smells made her mouth water. Caleb wanted to remind her their lives could be as they were. They would enjoy meals, dance in clubs and take advantage of the world as it changed around them. Charlotte eyed the menu, unsure why they should eat when they had a liquid diet. He asked her to humour him; some vampires reject this basic human need, but some find a new pleasure from eating. There was another reason for their presence; Caleb wanted to test her self-control. He engaged her in conversation, watching her eyes and fidgeting hands. Charlotte could hear rapid beats and chewing as the patrons enjoyed their dinner. Conversations and laughter distracted her.

Human food could not sustain a vampire. It was the flavours which brought their kind back to the restaurants. They were also perfect hunting grounds; but, that would be for another day. Charlotte admired the plate of sizzled brisket with a sour clover salad. The robust texture exploded flavour in her mouth. The fragrant citrus zinged through the smoky aroma. This cut of meat in her fathers hands was chewy; the chef behind this dish made it melt in the mouth. Charlotte let the food dance over her tongue, taking her time to savour each note. Flecks of garlic gave her sweet, nutty and creamy vibes. Caleb watched with interest. Raw garlic, with its earthy spice overwhelmed many vampires, including himself. Charlotte embraced every flavour on her plate, leaving her plasma drink until last.

Charlotte and Caleb

They travelled back through Newcrest. Charlotte shifted uneasy, watching the familiar streets illuminated by the street lights. Caleb parked close to the chapel, where her grandmother, Aria and Aunt Ziva married. She stared nervous at the long road, past the cinema and restaurant. At the end was her former home, where Charlotte abandoned her children. The place she had been human. Caleb held her hand, drawing her attention back to him. Their future was with each other. Bound for eternity in blood, Caleb asked if she would unite with him, in love.

Charlotte wondered what her wedding might be like. Would her siblings be in attendance? Would she wear a white gown? Dreams melted as Caleb took her hands with promises of love. She stood beneath the floral arch, the third generation Grace to be blessed at the chapel. The warm candles, their light flickered across their faces. Caleb created a perfect moment within which to elope. Charlotte believed that if her heartbeat, it would stop for this. Her breath would catch, and words might fail her. Her skin tingled and fine arm hairs raised. Caleb’s gentle touch around her hand grounded and calmed her. Within those eyes, the entire world resided, and Charlotte felt complete.