This was my favorite time of day. I’d started taking a lot of joy in the simple, yet peaceful quietness of sitting out on my patio first thing in the morning, with a warm cup of tea. It was my me time before the day really started. Sometimes these moments lasted longer than others. Today would be a short day as I heard wailing coming from the other side of the house. I welcomed the distraction because it meant I was going to keep busy instead of watching the clock.
“Good morning Graham.” His eager little arms reached out for me.
Most days he was the first one up as if he knew he had to get the attention before his sisters woke. The only problem with that his crying usually woke up the other three. He was lucky this morning, his sisters seemed to be snoozing away still. After a quick diaper change, the two of us exited the room quietly.
“You hungry baby boy?”
“‘Ood, ‘ood,” he babbled happily in response.
“Yes, mommy will feed you. How about some banana nut oatmeal?”
I got him strapped into his chair before preparing his breakfast. The self-feeding stage was messy, especially when all four ate at the same time but it was all a part of the growing up thing. With each new milestone, I was a little sad at the fact these were my last babies, but at the same time I was relieved. They were getting older, doing more, which meant their personalities were starting to come through. They were all so very different, and even though they wore me out most days, I loved every minute.
“Are you excited to see sissy today?”
Graham frowned and shook his head. “No sissy!”
I laughed at his reaction. Most days they got along, but some days it did seem like the girls ganged up on him. If he had a toy that they wanted, they would just snatch it from him. Most times he didn’t even put up a fight. It’s like he already knew it was a lost cause. If they were like this now as toddlers I only imagined what the next few years had in store for me. I heard the beginning sounds of light talking coming from their room. The others were waking, my day was really about to take off.
Two hours later everyone was fed, dressed and happy. We were all having a good time in the play room when I heard the car pull into the driveway. I already had the door open before they got a chance to ring the bell.
“They will never be able to sneak out the house,” Finley said with a smile as she threw her arms around my neck.
“Hey Mom, I’m good. Thanks again for doing this for me.”
“Don’t mention it, I’m excited. How was your flight?”
The quads were all vying for attention as they walked into the living room. Aric and Johnathan came in shortly after carrying their luggage.
“Hey Zana, when you’re done with Grams can you do me next?”
“Boy, your mother would kill you, and me for letting you get it done,” Aric stated. “I still can’t believe you are doing this Mom, at…”
“You want to talk about mothers killing their sons, you might want to rethink that sentence if it was going to end in at your age,” I playfully scolded.
He cleared his throat and said nothing as the others laughed. It didn’t take Zana long to realize that college wasn’t for her. She tried, but it became more of a downer and she didn’t even have any idea what she wanted to study. She was into art, but not in the same way as Finley. She had found an interest at the end of a needle, a tattoo needle. She’d gotten her first one on her eighteenth birthday and had gotten two more since. The guy she’d gone to in Bridgeport picked up on her interest before she did and she was now taking steps to become a tattoo artist under his apprenticeship. Finley had been her first client when Zana learned she had to start a portfolio. They were here today so that I could help her add to what was already starting to be an impressive collection of completed work.
“Tell you what, Johnny Boy, when you turn eighteen, I’ll happily give you your first ink.”
“Sweet! My birthday is just a few months away. I already know what I’m getting. I want the family crest that GP showed me when I was in France with him last summer. Plus going out to Bridgeport will be fun. There has got to be lots of hotties on campus you can introduce me to.”
Aric looked over at me at the mention of Mulo. I think it was habit for Aric at this point to always worry about me no matter what I told him. Mulo and I were at a good place. We’d seen each other a handful of times and things went well. We could comfortably be called friends. All conversations were on neutral topics and it worked out. When I got the idea to take over and revamp the community center where Embry and Dunham volunteered, Mulo sent me an extremely generous donation. He and Marcus even managed to be in the same space for Johnathan’s graduation. No one outwardly mentioned it in the days leading up to it, but we all knew the concerns on each other’s mind. The day went off without a hitch. Marcus did leave the party a little early, but all in all it was a success.
I smiled at my oldest grandson. “I’m sure he’d like that. So, what am I getting?”
When the girls called asking if I’d be willing to be a client for Zana, I agreed, but then had no idea what I wanted. If this thing was going to be permanent, I wanted something meaningful and I wouldn’t mind seeing forever.
“I thought about it, and I came up with the perfect thing,” Finley stated, grinning from ear to ear.
“Oh no…that smile worries me.”
“Me too,” Aric chimed in.
“Oh, you’ll love it,” Zana quickly assured. “Finley drew it herself, so you’ll have a piece of her art on you always.”
“Aww…well how can I say no to that?”
Finley ran off to the guest room then returned a few moments later proudly holding up her sketch book. “At first I thought Super Woman, because you seem to be able to do it all. I mean not only do you take care of all of us, but those kids at that community center will forever have a safe place to go and learn new things they might not have otherwise because of you. But then the more I thought about it the idea hit me. Mom, you’ve been through a lot and you’ve come through it all. Loss, heartache, just a lot more than anyone should have ever gone through, but you kept going. So what better than a phoenix, you know? That whole rising from the ashes, reborn and all.”
I was speechless looking at not only her amazing artwork, but also knowing the thought that went behind the piece.
Her face fell. “You don’t like it?”
“Oh no sweetie, just the opposite. It’s…it’s perfect! It’s things like this, moments with you kids that kept me going.”
She was the only one of my kids that got any interest in art and it made me proud to see her following her dreams. Last month she was very excited about an internship she’d landed at one of the animation studios in Bridgeport. I didn’t even know she was into animation, I always pictured her following a more traditional art route, but she’d taken a computer animation class and fell in love with it. Her big project for that class was to create a five minute cartoon with two other kids in her class and when she showed it to me, I was floored. She had a talent for it and I was happy to know things were working out like she wanted.
Zana went to get things set up for me. She’d sent me an email with all the things she’d need and I found a place that rented out some of the equipment and supplies. I still couldn’t believe I was getting a tattoo, but I figured why not. I was in a new phase of my life and it was fun to do something unexpected like this.
“So where is Nina?” Finley asked. “I kinda thought she’d be with you.”
“She’s shopping,” Johnathan answered. “Aunt Elphie and Bynni showed up right as we were leaving.”
“Sorry Mom, I tried to tell them not to,” Aric chimed in.
“Tell them not to what?”
“Ooh...” Finley said, rubbing her hands together. “Have I missed out on juicy family gossip?”
Both Aric and Johnathan shrugged.
“I swear you kids don’t understand that I am allowed to have a personal life. I’m supposed to pry into yours, not the other way around.”
“Hey, don’t go lumping me in with them. I’m the good one remember? Me and the rest of the boys, but mostly me. Well maybe not this one,” he said picking up Graham. “He looks like trouble.” Graham erupted into a fit of giggles when Aric started to tickle him.
“What? Personal life? Mom? Someone fill me in!” Finley begged.
Zana came out stating she was ready for me as John started telling Finley about my date tonight. I knew I should have just hired a sitter instead of asking Elphie and Ceula to babysit. The moment I told them, the kid network jumped into full swing. Texts were flying and it had been a big deal for the last week.
Squeals of laughter drifted in behind Finley as she walked into the room, texting away. The quads never had a shortage of people to play with and I was hoping they’d go down easily for their nap by the time Aric and John were done keeping them busy.
“Mom, I still can’t believe you didn’t tell me.”
“There’s nothing to tell.”
“Pish, yeah there is. Hey Z, look at this, it’s one of the outfits they picked out for her.”
“Hm, very sexy. I think you could wear that well,” Zana commented before getting back to my tattoo.
“Finley stop distracting her! She needs to concentrate. And I’m not wearing whatever it is your sisters pick out. I have plenty of clothes in my closet.”
“Mom, those are old lady things. This one you’d look hot in.” She held her phone out for me to see.
“What? No! I am not wearing that. It looks like scraps of fabric barely held together.”
Finley ignored me and proceeded to keep texting her sisters. They all agreed I needed something with my back out so I could show off my fresh ink. I gave up trying to tell them to stay out of it because I knew it was pointless. If I’ve learned anything over the years as a parent, it was to pick my battles and this one wasn’t worth it. I knew they were just excited for me, I was excited, but didn’t want to read too much into it this early in the game. It was only a first date.
I spent the next hour and half trying to ignore the uncomfortable, constant pricking of my flesh as Zana diligently worked on me. Just when I didn’t think I could take it any longer, she declared to be finished.
“You’re the first vampire I’ve done. The fast healing thing kinda threw me at first, but guess it’s good you don’t have to worry about ink leaking on your new outfit.”
I admired her work in the mirror. I had a tattoo. A permanent mark on my body that was designed by my daughter, done by her girlfriend, and signaled a new starting point in my life. It couldn’t have been done on a better day. “It looks great Zana.”
Aric and Johnathan came walking out of the nursery just as we left the room.
“I think I need a nap too,” Aric proclaimed. “How do you manage?”
“Well normally Stella is here to help, but she’s at her sister’s wedding this weekend.”
A few weeks after our separation, Marcus called me about hiring a joint nanny. He let Jenelle go and we both thought Stella was a good fit for our needs. She was very highly recommended by the agency and had no problem working between the two locations.
“She needs a raise. Those little devils are a handful.”
“You’re just out of practice son, but you need to get back into it. In only a few months you’ll have a newborn in the house.”
“Yep and I’m moving in with Uncle Dax.”
“Nope, we’re putting the crib in your room so you can have night shift. You’re up all night gaming anyway.”
They continued to playfully argue that point as they left. The rest of the day was spent catching up with the girls. It’d been a while since they’d been home and I’d missed having them around. Each time I talked to Finley, I got the sinking impression she wasn’t planning on moving back after college. With her internship, and Zana getting on with that tattoo guy, they were really settling into life there. I was happy for them, but I wanted her closer. It was hard for me to know she was cross country, but she was happy and needed to follow her own path like her siblings before her.
As the hours passed, my nervousness grew. I’d been able to put the thought out of my mind, but it was all I was able to think about now. I was going on a date, a real date. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d done that. After getting the quads fed then cleaned, I left the girls in charge so I could get myself ready.
“Well it’s a good thing I’m not in the habit of walking out of my bathroom naked,” I stated when I saw the girls had arrived and had all taken up residence in my room.
“You knew we were coming. We have to get you ready,” Bynni commented.
“No, I asked two of you to babysit, I had no idea the whole gang would show up. And I’m an adult, have been for a while, I’m perfectly capable of dressing myself.”
Elphie got up to pull me over to the bed where several shopping bags waited. “Yeah, Mom sure on a day to day you’re fine, but this is different.”
“This is not different! Clearly my day to day was enough.”
“She has a point,” Ceula chimed in.
“Traitor!” Nina stated. “Come on Mom, this will be fun. You’ve been out of the dating game for a while, so you need our help.”
I started laughing at her statement. “Let me get this right, I’m going to get dating tips from the group of you?”
“Why is that funny?” Bynni asked.
“Well, let’s see. You’ve only ever dated TK. Nina, same for you with Aric. Both of you have been married for how long? Ceula is happily married to Trey. The only one here that could maybe give me any advice would be Elphie but since she’s been with Rick for a while now, I think that counts her out as well.”
They all just dropped their heads knowing that I was right.
“Fine,” Elphie conceded. “But we’ve already bought the dresses. At least try them on and pick one.”
“Yeah, we can’t let Aric’s money go to waste.”
Nina shrugged. “He’ll be fine. It’s not like he examines the statements anyway, he won’t even notice.”
I pulled out one of the dresses, checking the price tag. “I am not keeping all of these. I’ll keep the one I wear, only. Which I’ll give you the money for, but the rest need to go back.” I pulled out another dress, it was that one Finley showed me earlier that looked like bandages held together with tape. “Because some of these I’ll never wear,” I stated as I put that one back in the bag.
For the next half hour, we debated over which dress I would wear, finally coming to a consensus on the one I deemed least revealing of the bunch. I had to remind them we were going out to dinner not some night club. The dress was still way more revealing than anything I would have picked out, but it did make me feel sexy so it wasn’t half bad. The girls were all impressed with my new tattoo and were sure to compliment Zana on a job well done. Ceula even made plans to get one while they were here. I had the table rented for two days so Zana was more than happy to do it for her.
They were in the middle of doing my hair and makeup when the doorbell rang. My stomach did flips. I’d tried not to think too much about this evening because the days would have passed like molasses but now that it was here, that he was here I was ready to go. It was only a first date, and neither of us knew if it would lead to anything more, but we were both open to seeing.
“Ugh, he’s early,” Bynni complained. “Doesn’t he know the rules, he’s not supposed to be early!”
“It’s fine,” Nina commented. “You and Elphie go explain the ground rules while C and I finish up here.”
“What? Ground rules? No, I’m done, I need to answer the door.”
“You can’t be too eager Mom. Make him wait a little,” Cece stated, pushing my shoulder gently to make me sit again.
This was all fun before but now I was just ready to go. The quads all excitedly started babbling. I heard Bynni compliment him on how he looked and the fact that he brought flowers. So much activity going on and I just wanted to see him.
“Enough,” I said waving them off.
They both smiled before exiting the room leaving me in peace. I looked down at my hands, they were shaking. I couldn’t remember the last time I was filled with so much nervous excitement. I took a look at myself finally. They’d done a great job, I felt and looked like a teenager again. With one final exhale, I exited the room.
“…okay so…” Marcus stopped talking when I walked out of my bedroom. “Whoa…you look...wow.”
I smiled. “So, I’m guessing you like all the hours of hard work your children put in.”
“Hours? Please. I don’t believe it took more than fifteen minutes tops. You look amazing!”
“Thanks, you don’t look so bad yourself.”
That of course was a major understatement. It’s not like we didn’t see each other. With the quads, we saw each other regularly, but tonight it was like I was seeing him with new, fresh eyes. We’d been through so much, and I wasn’t sure if we’d ever get back to a good place, but we were making progress.
The first few months of the separation were just as hard as I expected them to be. We didn’t talk much unless it had to do with the kids. When he started dating, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle it. I reminded myself that I’d known it was a possibility. I reminded myself he needed to find his way, to figure out what he wanted in life and if dating other people helped him do that, I had to be okay with it. My time was spent focusing on myself and the kids. I needed to rediscover who I was after everything.
I did set rules concerning the quads that he was okay with. I didn’t want a cycle of women in their life so there was a six month rule. He only dated the one person and she made it to just over two months. A few weeks after they broke up he called me one night. I’d thought something had happened to one of the babies, but he’d just wanted to talk. That’s how it started, with phone calls just talking about our day. Simply talking, something we’d not done for a long time. We didn’t bring up our problems. We didn’t go into the negative and we weren’t trying to force things. We simply talked about everything and nothing and it felt good. That went on for about a month before he asked me out.
Marcus started walking towards me. “I was just being briefed on the dos and don’ts allowed.”
“I’m sure you were. And I’m pretty sure they’re going to give me a curfew.”
“Yes, I believe they’re confused on the roles.”
Marcus laughed. “I think you’re correct after hearing the list of rules I have to abide by.”
“We should probably go now before we end up with a chaperone.”
We both laughed when the girls agreed that would have been a good idea and they wished they had thought of it. After saying our goodbyes, I linked my arm with his and we were off.
...But not really. So if you aren’t ready for it to be over just yet. You can thank Marcus for his little bonus feature. He wanted to be heard so enjoy. (click the picture)
I do want to say a big thank you to EVERYONE!!!!
Your support over the years has meant so much to me. I can't believe this story went on for FOUR YEARS and that you guys stuck with me til the end!!! Kiss was my very first sim story and I've met a lot of wonderful people along the way through this story. I will miss bringing you updates on these guys, but it was time to put them to rest.
Kiss is over, but this isn't the end for me. I do have plans for other sim stories that I'll update you guys on once they kick off. Also for those of you that read Fiendish, I am working on a follow up book to that. :)
Remember the Q&A will be on Friday and it will be in talk show format. Hope you tune in. :)