Melody’s life was looking up. She had an incredible support system in her family, a new friend, and she was less angry with Paxton. Previously, she had only dreamed of the days when she was finished crying over him and loving life again.
One Saturday morning, a few days after Melody broke the news to Cadence, she was out for a jog when she saw figure of a man on her doorstep. Naturally, her protective motherly instincts kicked in as she thought about her innocent children inside. She jogged a bit faster to accost him before he left and got too far away.
“Can I help you,” she asked with a very concerned tone in her voice.
But when the man turned around, she saw that it was River!
“River?? What are you doing here? How did you find me??”
She was suddenly afraid that she had befriended some loony stalker. And just when her life started to get better too.
“Do you really live here,” he asked excitedly. “This move just got 400% better!”
She was still in her stranger danger zone.
“I bought that house across the street the other day. I need directions to Desert Bloom Park, so I figured I could meet some of my neighbors if I just started knocking on doors. Because you’re across the street, I came here first; But I had no idea you lived here. Lucky me!”
“Oh,” she said in relief. “Would you like to come in?”
“Sure. Thank you.”
Mia was using the computer in Melody’s room which had a window that faced the street. She could see everything.
“Marli! He’s here!”
“The beast! Mom just invited him inside!”
“Seriously? Awwww YEAH! They’re totally hooking up.”
Meanwhile, in the living room, River was apologizing to Melody again.
“You know…it seems that ever since I met you, all I’ve managed to do is startle you! You probably thought I was some psycho or something.”
“Yeah. Actually, I did.”
“I know how it must look, and I’m sorry. I really didn’t know this was your house…or that you even lived in this town.”
“It’s ok. I’m glad that you’ll be living across the street,” she said with more excitement than she intended.
“Well, what I mean is that it is always good to have nice neighbors,” she said to correct her Freudian slip.
River laughed. He was a very smart, discerning Sim. He saw right through her attempted cover up–he thought it was cute.
“What’s so funny,” Melody asked.
“Hey, Mommy. Who’s your friend,” Marli asked innocently.
“Ummm…River, this is my younger twin, Marli. Marli, this is Mr. River. He’s our new neighbor across the street,” she said awkwardly as she wasn’t expecting to do the “meet the boyfriend” thing so soon.
“Ohhhh, a new neighbor,” Marli said mischievously. “Welcome to the neighborhood, Mr. River. I’m sure you’ll absolutely love it here.”
“I already do,” he said as he stole a quick glance at Melody.
“So, Mr. River, are you married?”
“MARLI!!! What’s gotten into you? That’s not appropriate!”
“What? I’m just getting to know our neighbor. It’s very important to know these things, Mommy.”
“Don’t you have some homework to go do?”
“Then go practice your guitar then.”
“She plays the guitar?! Woo! This family just rose to the top of my favorite neighbors list! Well, you’re the only family right now, but you’re still number one.”
“Excuse me for a minute, River?”
Melody had to relieve herself, but also recover from Marli’s outspoken behavior. Although she appreciated the information that Marli so skillfully obtained for her, she was still embarrassed. It had been so long since she had any feelings for a man, friendly or romantic. She wanted to handle this situation herself and in her own time, but her children were pushing her a bit harder than she liked.
Marli watched her as she rounded the corner to the bathroom. When she was out of sight, and Marli heard the door close, Marli and River made their moves.
“I see what you’re up to, kid. You’re smart.”
“Hey…somebody’s gotta be the brains of this operation! So, are you gonna take my mom out?”
“I would love to take her out. Do you think she would want to?”
“She would, but she’ll act like she doesn’t. She’s learning to trust herself again, so I have to give her a little push every now and then.”
“She’s lucky to have you.”
They heard the whoosh from the flushing toilet and the gushing of water coming from a faucet. Their time was growing short.
“You have my word,” River said quickly. “I will ask her out very soon.”
A door creaked in the back of the house and footsteps emerged. River quickly grabbed the remote, turned the TV on, and pretended to be engrossed in some show. Marli made her exit.
“It was nice meeting you Mr. River. I hope to see you again soon,” she said as innocently as she could.
“Nice meeting you too, Marli,” River said and winked at her.
“You two sound suspicious. What’s going on?”
“Nothing. You have a very cute kid. Smart…very ambitious!”
“Hmmm,” she said incredulously. “I’ll bet she is.”
“Where is your other daughter? I’d love to meet her too.”
“She’s a bit of a loner, so you probably won’t meet her for a while.”
“Ahhh, so was that my invitation to come back again?”
“Did you think you needed one,” she said coyly.
“I mean,” she self-corrected again, “you’re our neighbor now, so you can be…neighborly. Neighbors visit.”
She felt embarrassed and silly for flirting and pedaling back so many times. She hoped she hadn’t sent mixed messages, but she didn’t know that it wasn’t necessary for her to cover up the flirting.
“Ok, neighbor,” he teased. “I’m going to go back home and finish unpacking. I will be by again to be neighborly soon.”
“Are you making fun of me?”
“Absolutely. Have a good day, Melody.”
He saw himself out, and within seconds, Mia and Marli joined Melody on the couch.
They sat in awkward silence for a few minutes.
Finally, Melody said, “I don’t want to hear a word about this. I will…I’ll pop you…with this fork,” she said trying to sound serious.
But they were already bursting at the seams in joy. No threat could keep the twins from rejoicing over what they just experienced.
Mia and Melody were gushing about this at the same time and barely made sense saying things like, “OMG, Mommy!! River is sooooo cute! You guys look great together! When is he coming back? We need to get your outfit ready for your first date!”
“And then you’ll get married and we’ll be one big happy family,” Marli said ending the excitement.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Nobody is getting married! My goodness, girls! I just met this guy, and you’re already trying to marry me off? I don’t even know his last name! Can we all just tone it down a bit and take things one step at a time?”
“Sure, Mommy,” Mia agreed.
“As long as it’s a step toward the arch,” Marli added.