Eliza: Where the Heart Belongs

The yoga mat had collected dust in the corner since Eliza moved in. Her good intentions somehow lost in the chaos of raising her cousin and falling in love with Scarlett. Eliza needed to make changes; her body felt battered and broken. Her career on the pitch was reaching its conclusion, and this stretch was a step into a new chapter. Another aspect of change was to use her fame as a star player to raise awareness in the city. A new gym and spa opened in the Uptown district. Eliza proposed a charity walk, promoting the health benefits of exercise. She encouraged residents to take up opportunities to ditch their cars and explore the city. The money raised would pay for those in the poorer areas to have access to brand-new facilities. Other voluntary opportunities were already in the pipeline. A food drive for the homeless and delivering exercise classes for the elderly. The latter, Eliza seemed to spend her time debating the best choice of music or playing cards.

The evening ahead would be something special. Milly and Hunter seemed enamoured by each other. Despite reservations, Eliza accepted it was her choice. Scarlett suggested dinner at the Caribbean Red, a double date and a chance to know each other better. Milly was giddy at the idea as she hoped to discuss Hunter’s plans to buy a house. They were together every day. Hunter insisted they enjoyed breakfast each morning. He would appear at their door with a huge smile, wrapping himself around Milly like a scarf, kissing her. The kisses could make a courtesan blush, and the placement of his hands, unnecessary when in company. Milly would sit silent, cheeks flushed. Hunter permitted her child-size portion, which left her hungry. Not that she would complain, as Eliza would sneak a protein bar in her bag for later. Eliza tried to imagine how he would be if given twenty-four-hour access to her cousin.

They sat inside, close to the open kitchen. Scarlett, their chef’s eye monitoring and Hunter deciding what Milly would enjoy. Eliza breathed slow and deep, reminding herself to bite her tongue until with Milly alone. She decided to broach the subject of moving. Hunter draped his arm around Milly, squeezing her. She leaned against him, an uncomfortable angle on the chair. There were several houses he was contemplating for the future. The city was great for couples or singles starting life, but he wanted room outside to raise a family. Eliza choked on her wine. His brow furrowed, annoyed. Why should it surprise anyone this was his intention? As he was older, it made sense to enjoy their opportunities. Hunter wanted to see his children grow. If they waited, he might miss out, the way Milly’s parents had. A thumb and finger pinched Milly’s chin, lifting her glossy, saddened gaze to him. In a gentle voice, he whispered how he wanted their life to be full of family. Scarlett agreed this sounded wonderful, squeezing Eliza’s hand beneath the table. They were unsure Eliza and Milly were ready to live their separate lives, and perhaps a trial run was in order. Hunter raised an eyebrow; it was an acceptable idea. A key to the apartment so he and Milly could put their relationship to the test.

After dinner, Eliza stopped Scarlett at the apartment door. She was not angry at the suggestion Hunter had a key. It was a relief that Hunter thought it was a good idea. What worried Eliza surrounded his presence in Milly’s life. They lingered at the door with something else in mind. Eliza did not want to say Goodnight at the door or come home to find an empty bed. The long speech Eliza carefully prepared interrupted with a kiss. Scarlett needed this too. They could make the necessary arrangements within days. For them, home would be wherever Eliza slept.

Poses by https://www.patreon.com/posts/tv-coffee-and-56352319

The restaurant can be found on the Sims 4 Gallery, search Caribbean Red

Charlotte: Cracks

Blood shared and bound them as relatives, as siblings. Daciana held tears, her words bitter and cruel, as the boy ran to join their play. She stepped between him and Luliana. Cornelius, whose features were like their own, found himself rejected. Luliana gazed at the floor, open to friendship as she peered around her sister. Eyes pleaded to allow him to join their play. Daciana refused to let him be a part of their lives. In the same way, she continued to deny the existence of Charlotte and Caleb.

Cornelius knew he was different to other children. Caleb persisted in schooling him in the ways of the vampire. Teaching him to fish was an odd part of this training. He enjoyed catching the frogs, but transforming them into food was unappealing. Cornelius needed to keep his occult status a secret. The children of Windenberg with whom he studied were the closest he would ever come to everyday life. It was like looking through a window or watching tv. He hoped Daciana and Luliana would become friends as he felt their connection. He could not understand why they rebuffed his efforts.

A connection with the girls would come with challenges for all the Vatore Vampires. Caleb hoped it was the key to helping Charlotte overcome the guilt. Yet, the girl’s avoidance meant each visit made Charlotte sink deeper into the pain. Patrick listened, fingers dug into his thighs, afraid to say something he regretted. Caleb thought abandoning children was a positive decision considering his vampire lifestyle. To Patrick, this decision was self-serving. Allowing children to feel neglected was barbaric. Parents should have unconditional love, and accept their humanity. Vampires were monsters to think this denial of their existence was acceptable. Caleb could not love the girls despite what he said. How could he? They were strangers to each other. As for how Charlotte behaved, it concerned Patrick. Aside from the uncontrolled hissing, it appeared she was not bonding with any child. Had he and Caleb been candid in conversation, they could have agreed on this.

Regret had its place at the barbecue. Charlotte, her swollen ankles and pregnant stomach, felt it all. She tried not to think of the future, where she would outlive the older two children. The day would come when her lack of ageing meant they could no longer be a part of each other’s lives. Charlotte would, should have been, forced to watch from the shadows as life moved on without her. She recognized the reality behind why she should not have a connection with her old human life.

She sat apart from the family, watching Daciana and Luliana play on the pirate ship. The younger twins were hovering near Patrick, keen to taste the food. Caleb was ready with plasma ketchup, a sauce Cornelius would drink straight from the bottle. Despite the family picture, Charlotte felt the fractures. Each crack in her soul let in more of the darkness she was fighting back. These moments would soon disappear, and it would be her and Caleb. Both were unprepared to say goodbye forever, although Caleb refused to admit it. Charlotte wanted to see her siblings, old and grey. Witness her daughters graduate high school, fall in love and have families. There was no regret in her choice to become a vampire. She did love Caleb and wanted the life he promised. A dozen offspring all at once, however, had not been the plan.

Children Pose https://marshmallow-sims.tumblr.com/post/706086030472806400/mms-assorted-child-poses-a-bunch-of-poses-i-made

Family Picnic Poses https://ts4-poses.tumblr.com/post/637328142783201280/boredsimscc-family-is-everything-1-pose-pack

https://www.thesimsresource.com/downloads/details/category/sims4-mods-poses/title/pregnancy-pose-pack-2/id/1450720/

Charlotte: …Natural Instincts?

Part Two

The tale of “With Great Power…” was one every occult understood, none more so than vampires. Levelling up their abilities in one direction creates a weakness in another. Vlad embraced the connection to the darkness. His thinned skin removed all immunity to the sun’s blistering rays. As a master vampire, he surrendered his humanity, the option he could one day hear the sound of his heartbeat. Charlotte closed the book. Beneath a picture of the vampires and humans at war was an annotation. Spellcasters, with their knowledge of the dark arts, blended a cocktail. This lethal creation would neutralise the vampire and make them mortal. To a master, it would kill them. It explained why Vlad was the single house presiding over those remaining vampires. Cornelius and his siblings would have to ingest the potion. This, the book proposed, was best taken during puberty to prevent the final change. Caleb would never allow this choice. As purebloods, the damage to their systems may not be immediate. She buried the stolen book behind the wardrobe, with a mental note to return it to the Ministry.

Charlotte wanted a degree of control over her future. The path destined would be years in the making. She knew the Grim Reaper would hold some sway, and there were links to the old magics. The latter concerned the Ministry elders. Charlotte wondered if they wanted to persuade her to uphold their values. If she did would this prevent the coming change? None of that mattered to her, at least in the short term. She stepped from the house into another world. Her role as an agent, a spy within sim nation allowed her to combine her hunting with an exploration of her powers. As a former human, garlic had no effect, and her stomach could tolerate small amounts of food. It made it easier to slip into human society unnoticed. She gathered intel on military, interagency plans and political influencers. Her skin maintained a degree of immunity to the sun. Another perk of her human life, although she faired better on overcast days.

The pregnant stomach was hard to disguise, as her appetite for blood also grew. Charlotte used the bump in her role, and for short moments she did not resent the growth. A strong thumping pulse seemed soothing as she lay with her eyes closed. Cornelius spent his days in school. Excited to come home with arms full of materials to build space rockets or paper mache castles. Escaping the house for another mission, Charlotte missed completed projects. She longed for the stories of his day and the time they had together.

Away from the house, she failed to be absolved of her guilt. It tore her piece by piece. Charlotte could never be the mother her children deserved. Why was she cursed with so many? The presence of Aurora and Autumn served as a punishment as Charlotte struggled to stay in the same room. In her disconnect, Charlotte used cruel words to describe herself. Without a reflection all torments and attacks on her inability to love, internalised. The baby would squirm inside, forcing her to stop but not deter the negativity she contained. She questioned Caleb. How can he say he loves her when she can no longer be sure of her feelings?

Poses by https://www.patreon.com/posts/tv-lets-go-out-47901192

Charlotte: Natural Instinct verses…

Part One

Blood charged, and it changed. Hormones affected the vampire at levels unexperienced by humans. Fear-induced cortisol and adrenaline increased the strength and potency of their powers. Vlad preferred the hunt, tracking his prey as the animal kingdom intended. Natural selection by his hand. Rules agreed with the humans within the Ministry of Magic deterred this practice. Placing the choice in the hands of the humans went against the vampire’s natural instinct. Their enemy shared the same fate. Werewolves were closer to the earth. The beast within was overpowering, so humans hunted and killed. Vampires in human form aided this as the wolf bite was toxic to vampires. In their dark form, Vampires retained a sense of self. Capable of conscious control in either form, they survived the culling. It allowed them to prosper in a small group, under the house of Vlad.

Charlotte was not surprised to discover her choice of meal would bring out the sexual side of her nature. It had been this way since her rebirth. Her desire was insatiable, an appetite Caleb struggled to satisfy. The consequences of another night hunting with Lilith grew in her stomach. A sixth child. Although delighted to welcome a fourth vampire into their lives, Caleb worried. Lilith had forced open doors for Charlotte to explore her abilities. She remained faithful to Caleb despite the men she seduced in the hunt for her next meal, but it was a fine line. The men possessed characteristics she found attractive in Caleb. Maintaining control, reminding herself they were food grew harder. As with other vampires on the hunt, she was careful to use words which implied she planned to drink from them. Direct questions meant a fearful “No!” and word would spread, outing the vampire.

Charlotte rejected the knowledge of her future, unable to accept there was a role for her to play. The Ministry had other plans to entice her, including the offer of work. They enlisted few vampires, as many were looking to drink their colleagues. Blood from occults gave the Vampires temporary access to those powers. Keeping the dark ones at bay was in the Ministry’s best interests. A Vampire with knowledge of spells combined with the blood of a caster was dangerous and forbidden.

The years of training made Charlotte a formidable vampire. It was unusual for a turned vampire to be successful on their first hunt. Charlotte held influence over her victims, their emotions manipulated. She deluded men into believing love had settled in their arms. Charlotte elicited the sensation of a lifetime together. Caleb watched with jealous eyes at the illusion she had created. Charlotte brought the protective nature to the surface in these strangers. They would sate her hunger for blood, offering to sacrifice their lives. Some begged as the blood rushed into her mouth, to become her immortal lover. Caleb would appear, the power of speed made him invisible to the human eye and hearing to match. A meal should be with the understanding this is all they were. Confused, aroused and in pain, the meal would remain trapped in Charlotte’s vice grip. Her legs squeezed, her body trembled and Caleb would stare into their eyes as he drank her blood.

Vlad and Victim poses https://wistfulpoltergeist.tumblr.com/post/166953688914/couple-poses-for-your-lovely-vampires-sims-game

Charlotte, Caleb and Victim pose https://blog.naver.com/anne979/222055785697

Charlotte: Blood Dawn

Charlotte took the shy approach. Her fingers ruffled her blonde hair. Eyes down, she stumbled into him, pretending destiny intended them to meet. Her smile and drooped gaze reeled him in. The man continued holding her arm and waist from where he caught her. Charlotte used this to pull herself closer. The man did not notice her cold skin, his surprise linked to her beauty and petite frame. A question as to why him. The blue of her eyes shimmered like the lake waters beneath the street lights. His gaze remained lost in there, pupils dilated.

Charlotte ran her fingers over his chest, lingering on his heart. They drummed the rhythm, strong, a steady gallop. The world slowed as they swayed to the music. His moves were rigid. A tremor in his voice as he attempted small talk over the thundering bass. Charlotte tightened his grip around her waist. Her hands drifted, tangling them in his hair, bringing their faces closer. Words unspoken as Charlotte hovered her lips over his, warmed by his breath. Her body pressed flush against him, promised kisses spread across his throat to his ear.

Charlotte turned her face away, her lips belonged to another. Instead, she ran an index finger along her throat where he placed feathered kisses. Hands grew in confidence, taking both breast and ass, a gentle pulsing of his hips. Charlotte wriggled, needing to remain in control of her meal. Running his hands down her sides Charlotte turned, her sights set on a secluded area. There he would deliver what she needed. The man nodded, excited by the public display and other couples making out.

His Adam’s apple bobbed as he sat, shuffling to find comfort in the restraints of his trousers. Charlotte hitched her shorts, exposing her thighs. He never noticed the sharpness of her canines as she straddled him. Charlotte grinded against his firmness, allowing his hands to guide the rhythm. Her forehead pressed against his, listening to the rapid breathing. In a flash of searing pain, the man’s strangled scream drowned in the music. He fought against the attack, but Charlotte remained rigid, a heavyweight fixing him. She drank deep, hungry, heated hormone-filled blood. Charlotte threw her head back, her body shivering and hips driving her pleasure. The man’s arms fell by his side, unconscious. Lilith appeared, plastering the wound and lifting up the jacket collar.

A different hungry was taking control, and she wanted Caleb. No one could touch her the way he did. The man slumped on the sofa was nothing. He was dinner, but his desire entered her blood and made her crave attention. The distance from Windenberg to Forgotten Hollow increased her restlessness. She would have only a few hours of darkness, less if the twins were crying. Charlotte pinned Caleb against the wall, biting his lip. He moved his lips to her neck. She smelled sweet and floral. His canines grazed her neck before sinking. Caleb threw her back against the door, tearing her clothes. The wood groaned against the pressure, floor boards creaking. Caleb inhaled the scent, growling. The musk of another man aroused him, Caleb had enjoyed many in his life. On her, it in sighted his jealous and possessive nature. Had she not needed to devour him, Caleb may have sought to take the strangers life. Upstairs the babies stirred, but their cries would remain unanswered until dawn.

Charlotte and her dinner picture 1 https://www.patreon.com/posts/77286370

Charlotte and her dinner picture 2 https://www.patreon.com/posts/chain-pose-pack-62462413?utm_medium=clipboard_copy&utm_source=copy_to_clipboard&utm_campaign=postshare

Charlotte and Caleb https://www.patreon.com/posts/come-thru-pose-53216914

Charlotte: Season of The Vampire

When Caleb rested his hand on her stomach, he knew. Her insides twisted, the sound of those tiny heartbeats. The craving for pure blood, fresh from the host. In the confines of her physical prison, Charlotte gave birth to twin girls. Caleb cooed over his daughters, naming them Aurora and Autumn. He praised Charlotte and the strength she possessed. She resisted breaking free and laying waste to the humans nearby. She could not bear to look at them, their infant forms reminding her of the two she surrendered. They would be teenagers soon, embarking on their lives without her. Charlotte, instead, busied herself with Cornelius. She attempted to blot out the cries with his joyous giggles as she spun him around.

Lilith shared her concerns. Keeping Charlotte from the world was not testing her abilities as a vampire. The Ministry had stated there was something special in Charlotte. She would bring about a change. It was unclear if she would benefit the supernatural community or elevate their vampire house. Either way, the idea Charlotte may have a different path to Caleb, scared him. Over the years, he feared her love for him had waned. The desire to have a family with her remained a chain around her neck. The thirst for purer blood made her dangerous to the human world. Fear made him restrain her, have her focus on training, socialising within the House of Vlad and not rock the boat. Since the Ministry interfered, Vlad had bowed, something no one saw coming. Whatever the truth, Caleb remained in the dark.

Charlotte stepped from the taxi, taking a long, slow breath. Coffee, fish and chips, cigarette smoke, the aromas intoxicated her. The crisp cold air inflated her lungs clearing the cobwebs and stale atmosphere of home. She rushed to the fence, leaning over to feel the spray from the lake. It splashed defiant against its concrete barrier. Lilith grabbed her dress, worried she would fall in and ruin their night of partying. Charlotte pouted and giggled, linking arms with Lilith; they should not waste a moment.

Neon lights, a thumping bass with staccato synth and melodic vocals filled the club. The patrons took their place on the glass dancefloor, encouraged by alcohol-charged blood. Her skin hummed, the fine hairs on her arms raised, and her mouth salivated. Charlotte ran her tongue across her sharpened teeth. Her ear picked up the heartbeats, conversations and breathing, heavy, aroused. There was little difference in her hunting to those seeking a sexual encounter. The wonder for a vampire was bloodletting brought satisfaction on all levels.

Choosing her prey came with the same challenges facing the animal kingdom. In a herd, deer were inapproachable, and antlers were dangerous. Those wolves taking the direct approach are often impaled. Humans were, in equal measure, able to ostracise the vampire by closing ranks on their friends. For her, Charlotte wanted to pick off the weaker prey. Someone isolated from the main groups. A degree of attraction to the human would yield beneficial results. If Caleb feared her love was waning, he had not observed her food choice. A young man with dark brown hair and brooding eyes took tentative steps on the dancefloor.

Lilith, Charlotte and Caleb pose https://www.patreon.com/posts/tv-stop-swearing-56352446

Charlotte and Lilith pose https://marshmallow-sims.tumblr.com/post/704972538403569664/mms-her-party-posepack-my-sims-are-sure-having

Patrick: Stormy Jungle

The girls pawed at Leticia; the ring shimmered on her finger. Patrick looked on; pushed out of the equation as Luliana decided she wanted to be their flower girl. Any excuse to wear a pretty dress. Luliana wanted to feel every bit the princess to Leticia’s magical Queen. Daciana walked away, elbowed out by her sister. She was the less girlie of the two, but Patrick could see through the facade. Daciana loved dresses, preferring fewer frills and darker clothes. This style did not fit with how Luliana pictured her parent’s big day.

Patrick took Leticia’s hand, saving her from the questions they would soon discuss. He led the way through the thick undergrowth. The space before them was once a courtyard, with routes leading to the various parts of the kingdom. Patrick longed to see the temple but agreed with Leticia to take the girls to the temple’s baths. The swimming would need to wait a day as the weather took a turn. A dangerous foreshadowing of heavy black clouds blanketing the sky. Luliana pulled her coat around her, fearing the imminent attack of vampire bats. Daciana crept behind her sister, screeching. Luliana screamed, running in circles. She looked for the bats, who were, as Daciana reminded her, fast asleep. She stumbled back into the long grass, disturbing a snake. It slithered, perturbed by the intrusion. Daciana clutched her sides laughing, ignoring Patrick’s angry glance.

As Leticia pulled Luliana to her feet, drying the tears with a tissue, the first drops fell. Thunder rumbled, a reply to Daciana’s torment. It was her turn to be afraid; eyes peered up, shielded by her hood. Patrick zipped the jacket beneath her chin. Another crack splintered the sky, Daciana grabbed Patrick. He held her tight, rubbing her back.

Patrick settled the girls, tucking them into bed with tales of Selvadorada. They had arranged for a babysitter, allowing them to celebrate their engagement. Leticia squeezed his hand as they walked, sensing his anxiety at leaving them with a stranger. The bar was a few minutes from their lodgings, and the sitter came recommended by the friends they were to meet. Patrick took one last look back before nodding and focusing on the evening ahead.

There were two things Patrick did not do in public, singing and dancing. It had nothing to do with being unable to carry a tune; he could. What Patrick did not like was being forced to do this in public. Standing in the shower pretending he was a rock star was enough for him. The dancing would be something Luliana would wish to see at their wedding. Leticia shook her body to the Latin tunes possessed by the rhythm. While there might not be any awards for keeping to the beat, Leticia would win for enthusiasm. Patrick obeyed the summons; his moves were awkward, clumsy and standing on a few toes. He made a beeline for the bar, getting another round of drinks for everyone. Patrick kept glancing at the woman he was lucky enough to be marrying. The holiday with its stormy weather and Daciana’s mood swings was the best he had ever known.

Patrick: The Waterfall

The girl complained, hot and sticky within their raincoats. Newcrest offered a different climate and four defined seasons. Rainforests remained consistent, with a warm environment for the tall evergreen trees. Ferns and colourful plants thriving in the wet, humid conditions presented. The ground was a blend of tall grasses, creeping vines and dirt. A winding path, carved out by the many visitors this place had seen over the years. Beneath the soil were remnants of limestone. Small piles of raided earth uncovered pieces of broken pottery. Avocado trees grew wild and plentiful. Another tree hosted unusual berries, like grapes. Leticia told the girls to be wary of these. They varied in colour and influenced a person’s emotions when eaten. Her ancestors used them in divination or to heal the sick. While the effects were often temporary, their misuse could be deadly.

Thick thorny vines snaked their way across the stone pillars. These were the gateways to the temple and its ruins. A gated warning to the traveller, these vines were alive and would soon reseal the path once crossed. Undeterred by the superstition, Patrick swung the machete. It struck with a disappointing tap against its unyielding foe. He threw his weight behind each swing denting the branch until it snapped. The sound echoed, disturbing a flock of birds resting nearby. Patrick tugged the vines, wary of the spikes that snagged his clothes. Luliana squealed, jumping onto a rock as a snake slithered into the long grass a few feet away from her. In his concern for his daughter, Patrick’s hand caught the sharp edge of the broken vine. A large splinter embedded itself in his palm below his little finger. He cussed the air, clutching his hand between his thighs. Leticia rushed to his aid, using tweezers to remove the invading wood.

Their journey showed the power of nature to reclaim what humans once stole. The jungle swallowed crumbling stone walls, totems and bolted wooden gates. Wooden slates, held together with rope, created the bridge. The cavern beneath fell to the rocky waters, and a fine spray met the sun to create rainbows. Each tentative step brought them closer to their doom as they clung tight to the slack rope handrail. The bridge swayed, creaked and groaned. Patrick gripped tighter at the snapping twig Luliana stepped on, at the other side. He no longer needed to wonder if life would flash before his eyes.

The rushing water grew louder as they followed the path to the first significant ruin. There was speculation over its usage. The floor remained intact, with nature bursting through the cracks. A bush with yellow flowers with orange centres and large leaves looked inviting. Patrick imagined what secrets this bush would tell had it a voice. It was a rumour that the water here had fertile properties. Visitors to this place reported conceiving their babies in this place. They succumbed to its beauty, hypnotised by the cascading water. The pull he and Leticia felt to each other was a testament to those rumours. Patrick shifted, subtle tugs on his trousers to adjust them. Leticia seemed to slow, her moves a hazy dream. At that point in the film, the hapless hero sets his sights on the out-of-his-league beauty. Leticia fanned herself, pinching at her top to create a draft, her eyes holding Patrick’s for a few moments.

Patrick knew if he kissed her, he would forget everything. Instead, he lunged forward, closing the gap and landing with regret on his knee. His voice pitched another octave before he composed him. Luliana gasped, guessing the magic that was to happen. She had seen the ring, finding it in his jacket pocket, when she was looking for some money for treats. A single solitaire diamond, half a carat, was set upon a white gold band. Leticia bit her lips, breaking into a huge smile as he asked her to make him and their family whole.

Patrick: Selvadorada

Selvadorada, a place surrounded by lush green rainforests. It held secrets within, of hidden ruins awaiting discovery. Leticia sold the girls on the adventures that awaited them in the jungle. Daciana giggled, a mean streak aimed at her sister’s naivety. She frightened Luliana with the notion the monkeys might kidnap her. They would creep and tie her up amongst the vines in the middle of the night. When Leticia offered comfort, assurances there were no evil monkeys, Daciana changed tact. Losing her sister in the forest might be a good thing; she could live like Tarzan and learn to be the hero of her story. Luliana associated with the princesses, the damsels needing a saviour. Those old dusty fairytales, filled with romance and masculine heroes. Luliana wanted that for herself. Seeing Patrick and Leticia, made her happy, as she awaited the fairy tale wedding.

Daciana folded her arms; tormenting her sister had its limits as Patrick put her on time out. She pouted, forcing air out her nose or tapping her foot, irritating everyone. The flight from San Myshuno had felt longer due to the constant bickering. Patrick breathed a sigh of relief to have made it to their temporary home. It was dark, with the family tired and hungry; Patrick served the food Leticia’s friends made. Daciana scowled, annoyed at Patrick for siding with Luliana. She stabbed at the food, scratching the plate with her fork. Patrick snapped, ordering her to bed. He breathed slow controlled breaths as Daciana stomped upstairs, slamming the door.

He hoped the morning would improve Daciana’s mood and the beautiful weather Leticia promised. Neither prevailed; the sky remained grey. The threat of rain was a reminder that winter was approaching. Daciana moaned, how walking miles through the unchartered jungle to look at a big rock was pointless. A rumble scared Luliana; she clung to Leticia, her eye widened, hoping to see the threat before it snapped. Patrick wished he could shut out the complaints. They had two days to enjoy the beauty and delights Selvadorada offered.

The heart of this area was inviting. A statue of a young woman welcomed visitors. Leticia informed them of the statue’s power to bestow a blessing. Innocent explorers seeking the knowledge of the ancient ones were often cursed in their pursuit. A hand placed up the base could free them. The idea there would be dangers to uncover and a way to survive them caught Daciana’s attention. She wondered how it would tell the difference between those with good or bad intentions. Leticia shrugged, hoping the girls would appreciate the magic. For Daciana, she believed, as in normal life, there must be a catch. A chance to remove the curse would incur some penalty. A request for money or, as in Leticia’s story, gold, meant this was nothing but a scam.

Breakfast would be a challenge. Luliana wanted pancakes, and Daciana worried; despite her rumbling stomach, nothing would agree. Leticia brought a selection, Pastel de Camarão, Empanadas de Verde and Buñuelos. The latter met Luliana’s approval. They were not her favourite choice for breakfast, but they were a close second.

Patrick chatted with the locals, a language barrier bridged by Leticia. She relished the opportunity to speak her native language. The idea Leticia might enjoy a joke at his expense made Patrick uneasy. Much of the laughter would lose its humour in translation. Patrick knew he should have paid more attention in class or asked Leticia to teach him. He packed supplies as Leticia, paid the man who touched her hand longer than necessary. Clearing his throat, Leticia stepped back, linking arms with Patrick. With girls on either side, they head to the boat and the adventure.

Patrick: Family Life

Family life had a rhythm. It was chaotic in the mornings; the twins shovelled food into their mouths. After a mad search for homework, they flew through the door half dressed to catch the bus. The evenings were noisy but slower-paced. The girls moaned over homework. Leticia assisted, keeping a loving eye on Patrick as he prepared dinner. She surprised herself with how easy it was to slide into family life. Taking on the role of a mother had its drawbacks. Luliana was loving, open and excitable. Having a mum was everything she dreamed of, and Leticia fit the bill most days. Daciana pushed back, yelling at Patrick when he intervened. Leticia rubbed her temples; Daciana could do maths in her sleep and recite chess moves. It made no sense to scream about the variable expressions when she knew what they represented.

The weekend meant forgetting the childish bickering and tantrums. Leticia ensured the girls had no homework or projects. They refused to let anything, the weather included, dampen the two days of excitement. Luliana woke Saturday morning eager to start, unlike the rest of the house. She would shovel pancakes into her mouth faster than Patrick could make them. Speaking with her mouth full, Luliana searched the paper for events or new movies for them all to enjoy.

After Rylan died, his work found itself in the dusty regions of the library, making way for new writers. The movie Patrick hoped would meet the demands of their family weekend was “Breakaway”. It was his favourite book, at least when Eliza would read it to Charlotte, and he pretended not to be listening. The girls were curious but preferred to see “Reading With The River”. Patrick cringed at the idea of another children’s film, suggesting he brought it on DVD. Daciana shrugged; her noncommittal attitude to family life was grating. She wanted to bury herself in her room, crank up the music and ignore the world around her. Patrick dreaded the day the girls became teens; Daciana was a ticking time bomb.

They arrived as the cinema opened its doors. Luliana ran to the counter to request their tickets. She yelled at Leticia asking if she wanted sweet popcorn. The movie was a highlighted version of the book Patrick remembered. A fragmented story flitting back and forth between past and present. It was a relief to Patrick he had read the book, as the girls began a popcorn fight, and Leticia checked her watch. Luliana spoke smugly, how they should have seen her film choice.

Daciana eyed the arcade machine, challenging them all to a game. Patrick watched Daciana, a large grin as she blasted the oncoming spaceships. He wished she would show this side of herself at home; he missed her energy. One by one, their ships exploded. Luliana pouted as the first to go. Daciana remained to the end, completing the level and achieving a top-ten score. She wriggled free his celebratory hug, the smile replaced by cold indifference. His shoulder drooped. Patrick’s enthusiasm to make a fool of himself on the skating rink, disappeared.