River enjoyed his serendipitous visit to the Sheridan residence. After they met at the bar, he honestly thought he would never see Melody again, and now she lived right across the street. He was also glad that he and her children were on the same page. If he had any thoughts of any future with Melody at all, he knew that it was going to be important to her that he and the girls got along well. Besides, they had the same goal, and he welcomed Marli’s help. He wanted to call her right after they met, but he didn’t want to put any pressure on her. Because of his own past, he knew that she would need time to slowly wade back into the dating pool. But, he couldn’t stop thinking about how funny it was that her house was the first one he went to. It all had to be a sign, and he decided to take a risk and ask her out–that same day. He showered and walked down the street again. This time he was nervous because he knew what was on the other side of the door: delight or humiliation. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door. A teenager’s voice said she was coming.
“Oh! You don’t waste time, do you,” Marli asked. “Come in.”
She went back to her television program and yelled, “Mommy! Mr. River is back!”
“You know…you don’t have to call me that. I’m a little modern. I don’t mind children calling me by my first name.”
“Ok, but I’ll still call you Mister when Mommy is around. She likes us to be respectful to elders.”
“Our little secret?”
“That’s two secrets now.”
“Hello, again,” Melody said pleasantly and motioned for him to join her in the kitchen for a little privacy. “Is everything all right?”
Although he had just seen her, it was as if he were seeing her for the first time. His palms were clammy and his heart rate accelerated. Everything inside him was all warm and tingly.
“Here I go apologizing again. I know I was just here a few hours ago, and I don’t plan to make this a habit. I’m sorry if I’m freaking you out. But, I just wanted to know if you would like to go out with me this evening.”
“You do realize how crazy this sounds, right?”
“I mean, you show up at my house, get my children all excited, and then you come back a few hours later to ask me out?”
She was trying to pretend to be freaked out, but it wasn’t working too well. Despite what she said to him and the girls, this was a very welcomed surprise. What she was really saying inside was more of an indictment. How dare he show up at her house, get her excited, and then come back a few hours later and ask her out. Such a tease.
“There have been crazier things, but yes, that sounds accurate.”
He was enjoying her act. She thought about it for about ten seconds and then gave her answer.
“You’re lucky I think you’re interesting. I need to change my clothes.”
“You look great. Please don’t go through any trouble for me.”
True, he wouldn’t have minded a little effort, but he thought she was so beautiful, she could have worn sackcloth and ashes, and he would still think she was hot.
She went to her room and put on her usual outfit, said goodbye to her children, and then they were on their way. He took her to The Fountain. Ever since the Pruetts gave it their stamp of approval by having their family reunion there, that place was all the rage. They went upstairs to the bar area and found a nice table and sat down to talk.
“I never got your last name,” Melody said.
“Pitts. I’m River Pitts. And you are?”
“Melody Sheridan. Melody Christina Sheridan, acutally”
“Melody Sheridan. Hmmm…sounds like a famous actress or something.”
“Or something,” she laughed. “Tell me about you, River. What do you do? Where are you from?”
“Well, I’m originally from SimCity, but I lived all over the place. I love sports and working out. I used to be in the corporate world. I made lots of money. I had nice cars and a big house and vacation homes all over the world. I was living a young man’s dream. I ummm…I had a girlfriend. We got engaged, and she moved in with me. One day, about two weeks before the wedding, I had closed a huge deal and went home early to tell her about it and throw a party. When I got home, I found her and another Sim in our bed! I was so angry, Melody. I think I could have actually killed them.
“I had never felt so betrayed and used and low. Of course, she was only around because of the money. I was in an extremely dark place for a long time. I got into all kinds of self-destructive behavior, and my life was going down the drain. My mother, the Watcher bless her…she begged me to get help. After years of that crazy life, I finally did. My therapist recommended that I try something new that would be relaxing and therapeutic, so I took up fishing. I hated it at first, but my therapist urged me to stick with it, so I did. After I learned a few techniques, I liked it better. And I found it to be completely relaxing. It really helped with the anger. I was actually able to forgive her for what she did. I never spoke to her or saw her again, but I was clear in my heart.
“But anyway, I fished leisurely at first, but later I discovered that being a fishersim was actually a thing and a viable way to make money. So, I quit my job and sold all my cars and vacation homes so I could fish full time. I entered competitions and went on fishing excursions all around the world. Fishing competitively was awesome, and I loved every minute of it, but now that I’m getting older, I want to live a more settled life. I moved here because Oasis Springs and Willow Creek have the two most beautiful fishing spots in all of Sim Nation. It only made sense that I settle here. Oh…I’m terribly sorry. I’ve been babbling on for like an hour. You probably didn’t even want to know all of that.”
“Don’t be sorry. I’m glad you told me! I mean, I’m honored that you would trust me with that information.”
“Trust is hard to come by.”
“Ain’t that the truth.”
There was something brewing–something strong. River was quite ready for it, but Melody was still apprehensive. She felt that River could be the type of friend that her daughters encouraged her to have. But, despite her good intentions to go slow and do things differently, the longing in her heart for a gentle touch and soft lips on her cheek was pulling her away from the idea of being friends.
“Would you like to dance,” he asked.
“You know I would.”
As the evening faded into night, they knew their time together was coming to an end. There was a comedy show going on upstairs, so they checked it out for a little while. But no one was as funny as Lance, so they found a quieter spot to sit and talk more.
“If you don’t mind me asking, Melody, what’s your story? You don’t have to tell me if it’s too painful.”
“It’s ok. I’ve come a long way this year.”
“That’s wonderful. I’m glad.”
“I was born and raised in Willow Creek. My family is a big deal around here, but I don’t think you would have heard of us. My mother was a fifth generation Pruett. She married my father, Giancarlo Sheridan. I had an excellent childhood. Being part of a legacy family, you don’t have any needs and barely any wants. I watched my parents from a little girl, and I loved how they loved each other. I always wanted to love and be loved like that. It’s all I ever wanted, but that was the one want the Pruett Estate couldn’t satisfy. So I went looking for it.
“I met this guy, and I thought I was in love with him. My dad died in the middle of my high school years, and this guy was an orphan. He supported me, and I thought because we had that in common it meant that he knew me. I spent all my time with him. My grades were never above C, and my mother kept warning me not to spend so much time with him. But, I was selfish and impatient. I wanted what she and daddy had like right then. I didn’t know at the time that it took her half her life to get to the place where she could even receive love.
“But, I started noticing some things about me and about him, so when I graduated, I decided to focus on myself for a change. I developed some skills and got a job in business. Things were going well, and she was so proud of me. Then, she died, and some kind of way I felt alone. I mean, I lived in that big house with my twin sister, aunt and uncle, and my cousins, but I still felt lonely. So asked him to marry me, and he said yes. I was so happy he said yes because I didn’t even know if he was the marrying kind. We had our first night together, and the next morning I found out I was pregnant.
“I was ashamed at what we had done. I know that nowadays it’s socially acceptable to have a baby before you’re married, but I knew my mother would disapprove and that made me ashamed. He made me feel terrible saying things like she was dead and it wouldn’t matter. I tried to cover it up by getting him to marry me right then, but he left me. He came back the next day–I don’t even know what for–but I couldn’t even talk to him in the state. I never saw him again. He doesn’t even know he has twin daughters.
“As you could imagine, I was in a dark place for a while too. I’m not gonna lie…sometimes I still feel that sting, but not as much anymore. I felt like in order to begin getting my life back in order, I needed to make changes. So, I packed up my children and bought the house with the money my parents left me. I very well could have stayed. It definitely would have been easier with all the help I could have received, but I felt that I needed to prove to myself that I could be responsible, so I raised them on my own.”
Vulnerability creates intimacy, and now that they had shared the deepest, darkest, most painful part of their lives with each other, they felt closer than ever.
“Wow. That is an incredible story. You are an amazing Sim! You should be very proud of yourself. Your daughters are so well-mannered and respectful. And that Marli is a real character! You deserve to be incredibly happy, and I believe you’ll get that love you were looking for.”
“I’m glad you think so. Sometimes I’m not so sure.”
Melody felt unusually safe with River. She was glad that he could not only truly understand her, but also genuinely empathize with her. There wasn’t anyone she knew that had been through anything close to what she went through. She loved the support she got from the family, but at best it was sympathy. She would never wish anything like this on anyone, but she was glad that she had someone in her life who really understood and could feel her pain.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to speak from the heart,” River said.
“Ok,” she said nervously.
“You and I fought the same battle in our younger years. We both had our hearts broken and had to learn to survive in spite of our pain. We had to heal and grow and learn things to get us here. With the lessons we’ve learned and obstacles we’ve overcome, I believe that, if we decided to do life together, our love could be even more than what your parents had. It could be…explosive!”
Speaking of things exploding, everything inside her was all warm and tingly. If he kept talking that way, she would explode. But, she didn’t say anything and just quietly processed what he said. She couldn’t deny her affinity for him, but–of course–she didn’t want to make any more mistakes.
“Perhaps,” she said finally.
River understood her hesitation and wasn’t expecting much of a response from her. He just wanted to plant the seed and make his feelings known.
“I’ve kept you out too late, and I know you want to get back to your girls. Can I buy you a juice or something before we go?”
They went downstairs feeling awfully good about their evening. River walked behind Melody, and his eyes roamed to where they shouldn’t have been, but he couldn’t help himself. And she was trying to suppress the urge to turn around and kiss him. That’s what the old Melody would have done, but the new Melody practices patience and restraint. That’s what she kept trying to tell herself anyway. River brought over some Wing Teas and they sipped and vibed to the music. Melody was pensive and couldn’t ignore what she was feeling. She stopped lying to herself and owned up to the fact that she never wanted to be just friends with River. She feared that her lackadaisical answer earlier may have given off the wrong impression. She definitely want their relationship to move past friendship at some point, so she wanted to explain.
“I just want you to know that I wasn’t trying to blow you off earlier. I just can’t afford to be the way I used to be. I’ll admit that I like you, and I think you’re right. I just need for things to go slow. Do you understand?”
“Slow and steady wins the race,” he said confidently.
“I’m glad you agree.”
“Miss Melody, I have had the most amazing time with you. I can’t wait until we’re together again,” he said and embraced her.
She looked up to The Watcher in thanks and humble adoration and said, “Me too.”
He called her a cab and paid for her fare home. He wanted to go to the library because he didn’t have a computer at home yet. At least that’s what he told her. The real reason he didn’t join her was that he didn’t think he’d be able to be in close quarters with her and behave himself like he needed to. He was a romantic too.
When she arrived home, to her surprise, her daughters were still up waiting for her.
“It’s almost 11:30! Why are you two still up?”
“It’s Saturday, Mommy,” Marli said flatly.
“We want to hear about your date,” Mia said.
“It was great,” Melody said and sat down and ate her salad.
“Awww, come on, Mommy. You’re practically glowing, and all you can say is that it was great,” Mia asked.
“Yeah, come on, Mommy. Spill!”
“Good grief, girls! I hope you two have twins so you can feel double teamed for the rest of your lives.”
“You’re stalling,” Marli said.
She looked up and both of them were staring at her in great anticipation. There was no way they were letting this go.
“Yes,” they both screamed.
“His name is River Pitts, he’s a world-renown fishersim, he’s originally from SimCity, he likes sports and working out, and I get the feeling that he’s very romantic. We talked a lot about our lives and got to know each other better. We danced, had juice, and that was it! Happy?!”
“So…you didn’t even kiss,” Mia said with disappointment.
“No. I did not. I didn’t feel it was proper on the first date.”
“Are you going to marry him,” Marli asked.
Melody almost choked on her salad.
“Are you going to marry him,” she said slower. “We wouldn’t mind. We like him.”
“No! I mean, not right now! Or maybe never! Geez! I thought you girls wanted me to make friends?”
“You can have other friends, Mommy.” Mia said. “I think this one should be more.”
Melody was flabbergasted again. Her daughters were definitely not little girls anymore. She was in awe at how their minds worked and how they pretty much had this crazy plan thought all the way out. Seeing them this way made her miss her little girls because they reminded her that she was getting older too. Perhaps she should be thinking about marriage, but she couldn’t. She had to go slow.
“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation right now. You’re serious, aren’t you,” she asked Mia.
“We’ll see what happens. I can’t make any promises though. Do you know what I can promise?”
“If you two aren’t in bed within the hour, I promise that you will be doing ALL the chores for a week. Goodnight!”
“Ok, Mommy,” Mia said.
“Goodnight, Mommy,” Marli said.
They finished eating and washed their dishes and then retreated to Marli’s room for some last minute play time.
“Oh yeah,” Marli said. “They’re totally getting married.”