Chloe celebrated her thirteen birthday on the 23rd October 2036 and stepped into the teen stage of her life. She received her birthday presents already in August because by the time she blew the candles on the cake she would be already far away from the lovely little town of Monte Vista. That’s right! Benjamin’s eldest daughter got accepted into the Dribbledine Sports Academy, the most prestigious sports academy the world has ever seen! There was no doubt though, given all the effort she has put into her studies, after-school activities and exhaustive training in the past two years. Chloe didn’t get any real birthday cake on her big day but it’s not that she really minded. She didn’t have any friends at the academy anyway so most probably she wouldn’t have even known what to do with those three kilos of sugar all by herself.
Nathalie was already in the second grade when Chloe got accepted to the DSA. She was much more sociable in comparison to her sister and enjoyed spending time with her friends. Nathalie’s friendly personality granted her the advantage of making new friends very quickly and easily – something that was extremely difficult for Chloe. The two girls were like two sides of the same coin. They got along really well but when it came to hanging out with others, one of them always hid in the shadows… Speaking of shadows – strange happenings started occurring in the girls’ bedroom soon after Chloe left for the Dribbledine Sports Academy.
One night, when Nathalie was already asleep, the lamp on her desk suddenly flickered and rose into midair. The room temperature dropped to zero and Nathalie shivered under her bed covers. Awaken by the frozen air, she slowly opened her sleepy eyes and sat on the bed. She walked to the heater but it was as cold as her nose. Puzzled, Nathalie looked around the room and finally noticed the levitating lamp.
What’s going on? she thought to herself as she observed the flickering lamp. Nathalie pinched the skin on her forearm to verify whether she was dreaming. Strange, she thought to herself and walked towards the door to turn on the light. To her unpleasant surprise, the switch didn’t work. Is this some kind of a bad joke? Nathalie thought to herself but when she realized that Chloe was at the DSA so there was nobody who could be possibly trying to pull a prank on her, she began to fear the weirdness of the situation. The moment she turned around her wildest fears became a reality.
The lamp slowly sat back down on the desk and a ghostly figure appeared out of nowhere before Nathalie’s eyes. The girl was too shocked to say or do something. She just stood there and in awestruck wonder stared at the ghost of her mother, not knowing who or what she was actually looking at. Until that moment, Nathalie had no idea she could see ghosts. She didn’t know that this sixth sense ability was passed down to her by her mother who inherited it from her mother. It was in her genes.
“W-who a-are you?” Nathalie stuttered in fright.
“You don’t have to be afraid of me, Nathalie. I am your mother’s ghost. I won’t hurt you.”
“My m-mother’s g-ghost?” she asked silently. “My mom passed away when I was just a little baby yet I’ve never seen a picture of her… How do I know you are her ghost?”
“Benjamin has never shown you a picture of me?”
“No. Dad doesn’t really speak about you… I mean her. He’s never told me anything about my mom.”
“Why?” Elisabeth’s ghost asked sadly and her blank eyes widened with bitter disappointment.
“I don’t know. He just doesn’t speak about her,” Nathalie shrugged.
“Well, it’s about time we got to know each other then! I am Elisabeth, your dead mom,” the ghost smiled at Nathalie and tried to reach for her hand to give it a friendly shake but Nathalie took a step back. “What’s wrong?” Elisabeth’s ghost asked her, confused.
“If you really are my mother’s ghost, then why haven’t you shown yourself to me ever before?” Nathalie answered Elisabeth’s question with another question.
“Not everybody can see me, Nathalie. If I had shown up here while Chloe was still around, she could have made fun of you for talking to yourself. You can see me even though I’m no longer alive, Chloe cannot. You have a gift, sweet daughter,” said Elisabeth’s ghost and tried to caress Nathalie’s silky hair but Nathalie took another step back.
It took nearly a year before Elisabeth finally earned Nathalie’s trust and the two became best friends. Elisabeth began hanging out around the house more often than ever before and sometimes stayed long past the sunrise. Kate was very pleased about the new friendship between her daughter and granddaughter. David and Benjamin had no idea who Nathalie’s new friend was and even if she told them they wouldn’t probably believe her anyway.
Those five years at the Dribbledine Sports Academy flew by like an arrow and when the first snow covered the jack-o’-lanterns Nathalie and Elisabeth made for Halloween, Chloe was coming home to celebrate the thirteenth birthday of her little sister and spend some quality time with the family during the Christmas break.
To Chloe’s immensely unpleasant surprise, EVERYBODY was there that winter: Kate, David, Benjamin, Nathalie, Finn & Malika with their daughter Lorraine, Malika’s parents Marley & Aimee and even Zachary & Amanda with their son George flew in from Bridgeport for the Christmas holidays. One, two, three, four, five… Wait just a moment, Chloe thought to herself as she threw her backpack on the floor by the front door and eye-counted all the people in the living room.
“Where’s Nate?” Chloe asked the present family members about her brother before she even said ‘hello’ to them.
“In China,” Nathalie dropped casually and took a bite of the chocolate cookie in her hand. “Welcome home, sis!” she said between bites.
“In China?!” Chloe repeated after her sister in a way as if Nathalie would have just told her that their brother had died or something. “What’s he doing in China on Christmas Eve?” she demanded.
“Boh,” Nathalie shrugged her shoulders and shoved the rest of the cookie in her mouth. By that time everybody else noticed snow-covered Chloe standing in the living room and staring blankly at them.
“Is everything alright, darling?” Kate asked, approaching the melting snowman.
“Why isn’t he here?” Chloe asked sadly.
“Nathan? Oh, he’s got some more important business going on,” Kate waved her hand with a smile.
“What business?” Chloe demanded to know.
“I don’t even know anymore. He left two months ago saying he’d be back in two weeks but as you can see, something – or someone – is obviously more important than we are.”
“Wait, what… what do you mean someone?” Chloe asked and her doe eyes widened even more.
“I don’t know what he’s up to, Chloe. Why does it matter anyway?” Kate looked at her uncomprehendingly. She couldn’t really understand Chloe’s sudden concern about Nathan. Plus she was the only one who knew the complete truth about him. She couldn’t have just said to Chloe that her brother left for Shang Simla in hopes of locating his sister from the past lifetime. It was an unspoken secret which Kate would take to the grave one day.
Chloe disappeared in her room and didn’t come out for the rest of the evening. Benjamin talked to her through the locked door but Chloe pretended she wasn’t there. Not even Nathalie was able to convince her sister to come downstairs and greet the extended family. Malika thought Chloe’s behavior was very rude and complained about the moody teenager and her unacceptable behavior to anybody who was willing to listen. Luckily, she didn’t manage to annoy the family for too long because Kate took the turkey out of the oven and all the guests soon had their mouths full. Even Malika.
This was the first moment in a long time when all the family members sat at one table together. Zac and his family didn’t visit very often and even though Finn and Malika lived in Monte Vista, they had a life of their own and visited quite sporadically as well.
Their only daughter, Lorraine, was growing up before their eyes while their jobs took away most of their time. Finn and Malika were very lucky to have the two elderly babysitters living in the same house with them but on the other hand, they lived a very similar life to the one of Marley and Aimee which didn’t make them so lucky at all.
Lorraine was only six years old but her mom and dad had already missed so much. Malika’s parents were both retired and enjoyed taking care of their granddaughter. They got a chance to re-live the precious moments they had missed when their own daughter was just a little girl. Aimee taught her granddaughter to walk and talk while Marley was better at potty training and bedtime stories… Finn wasn’t there on her first day of school in September and he even missed his daughter’s first Christmas recital. Hopefully, both Finn and Malika will soon understand what’s truly important and will change their lifestyle before it’s too late.
Aimee thought the days when she used to clean up after Lorraine’s messy eating were buried deep in the past, however, the moment she saw Benjamin in action she had a sudden deja vu. She was so mesmerized by his fervent style of eating that she’s completely forgotten about her own dinner. Only when David sat down at the piano and his fingers hit the keys, Aimee noticed that everybody except her had already finished eating.
“And what if we each opened at least one gift?” Lorraine asked her cousins.
“Dad said we have to wait for Chloe.”
“Yeah, but she locked herself up in her room already two hours ago and it doesn’t look like she’s planning to come downstairs tonight,” Lorraine added and looked at George. “I really want to open my gifts, guys! Don’t you want to open yours?”
“Why don’t we try to convince her to get out of the room?” George suggested an idea. “We could tell her there’s a really big present with her name on it.”
“Forget it, George,” Nathalie sighed. “There’s nothing we can do.”
“Chloe is such a party pooper!” Lorraine complained. “I’ll never ever invite her to any of my parties!” she said and crossed her arms.
“You don’t have to make such dramatic decisions, Lori,” told her Nathalie. “Chloe usually doesn’t behave this way,” she defended her sister.
On the stroke of midnight, when the kids were still awake and patiently waiting for Chloe to come downstairs, Benjamin let them open their Christmas presents because he felt too bad for making them wait for something that wasn’t going to happen. Chloe simply wouldn’t come out of her room even if someone paid her.
Everybody gathered around the Christmas tree at last. Malika picked the first present and handed it over to George. Lorraine got upset because she wanted to be the one to open the first present and started screaming at her mother.
Poor George just stood there without any idea of what was going on. What was wrong with his cousins?
At last, it was Nathalie’s turn to open her gifts. She received a panda bear shaped money box, a doll from her favorite cartoon show, two CD albums, a big make-up case, a hair dryer, her very first perfume, a book, a violin and… a horse toy.
“Wait, isn’t this mine?” Nathalie wondered at the sight of the dapple gray horse with a red saddle that Chloe gave to her some years ago. That very moment, Benjamin’s eyes opened wide and his lungs gasped for air.
“What’s THAT doing there?!” Kate anxiously whispered to David. It was indeed Nathalie’s old toy, only altered. Kate had it turned into a disguise treasure box in which she hid a part of Nathalie’s birthday present.
“I have no idea,” David whispered back. “It was Ben’s task to put the presents under the Christmas tree,” he added. “He must have mixed them all up.”
Kate, David and Benjamin were breathlessly staring at the toy in Nathalie’s hand, hoping she wouldn’t notice the cut – even though barely visible – in the middle of the saddle.
“I had no idea Santa was such a prankster!” she laughed and looked at her dad. Being a very curious and observant girl, Nathalie immediately noticed the cut but given the look on Ben’s face, she decided to keep that to herself.
Nathalie celebrated her thirteenth birthday on the 25th December 2040, only one day after the Snowflake day. Kate woke up very early that day in order to bake the surprise birthday cake for her granddaughter. Even though she was no professional cake designer, the outcome of her creativity wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be.
“Voila!” Kate said happily when she finished decorating the cake.
“Wow! The cake looks great!” David smiled at her when he entered the kitchen and saw Kate’s chocolate creation. “You should consider opening your very own bakery, darling!”
“Oh, I’m afraid it’s too late for that, David,” she said and licked the cream off her finger. “Maybe in the next life,” Kate added jokingly.
“It’s never too late for anything, my love. Remember that,” he said and hugged his wife.
“Do you really have to go to the theater?” Kate asked David and looked in his eyes.
“The orchestra really needs one more rehearsal before the New Year’s Eve concert, Kate. The new violinist isn’t ready to perform yet plus the pianist still hasn’t learned the last passage. I promise I’ll be back for the party,” he said and kissed her.
“Alright then,” Kate smiled at her husband but deep inside she hoped he’d stay home with her.
It was only seven o’clock when David left for work. Everybody else was still asleep. If Kate started preparing pancakes for breakfast they would get cold by the time the household got up so she decided to go for a morning ride instead. Kate dressed in her riding outfit and headed for the stables.
“Good morning, lovelies!” Kate called at the horses when she entered the stables. Lady was already at the gate of her box, patiently waiting for baby carrots. However, since she was no longer the only horse in the stables she would have to get used to sharing her treats with the new member of the family.
Shadow, a dapple gray foal, was sleeping in the stall box next to Lady’s. He was Kate’s birthday present to Nathalie. Later that day, when David came home from the theater, all the family gathered on the terrace to celebrate Nathalie’s thirteenth birthday.
“Don’t forget to make a wish!” George told Nathalie a second before she blew out the candles on her birthday cake. Little did he know that there was no need to remind her of that. Nathalie wished for a unicorn ever since the day she learned to talk. When her grandma told her the cruel truth about unicorns being fantasy creatures that don’t exist, Nathalie cried for a week straight. She was convinced that if one truly believed in unicorns then they were real. And she was the one who believed in them more than anyone.
I believe in unicorns. Unicorns are real. They are REAL. I wish for a rainbow unicorn…
Nathalie’s resemblance to her mother became even more evident now that she was a teenager. She had Elisabeth’s eyes and smile, she even did her hair the same way. If her mother was alive, the two could be mistaken for sisters.
“So, what do you think is inside?” Chloe asked her sister and placed the horse toy before Nathalie.
“A necklace,” Nathalie said in between bites.
“How do you know?” Chloe asked in surprise.
“Because I looked inside.”
“Oh, you did, huh?”
“Yeah, I couldn’t resist the temptation,” Nathalie guiltily smiled at Chloe, put her hand under the sweater and pulled out a silver necklace with two pendants. One had the shape of a unicorn, the other was a miniature whistle.
“I see. So not only you have looked inside before you were supposed to, you’re even already wearing it. Tsk tsk, naughty girl!” Chloe said and shook her head from side to side.
“And? I found it under the Christmas tree. Dad had to pay more attention not to mix the-” Nathalie began when suddenly, Chloe kicked her sister under the table and nodded at George and Lorraine. The two cousins still thought that Santa was real.
“Oops,” Nathalie smiled and bit her lip. Luckily, both kids were too concentrated on the cake to pay attention to the conversation.
“So, have you tried to blow the whistle?” Chloe asked her sister.
“Yeah. No unicorn appeared, though,” Nathalie sighed sadly.
“Maybe it’s not meant to call a unicorn,” Chloe winked at her, went down the stairs leading to the garden, threw herself in the snow and started making a snow angel. Lorraine and George swiftly followed her.
Nathalie took a walk around the garden, blowing the whistle at different locations. Then all of a sudden, a dapple gray foal rushed out of the stables and trotted towards her.
“There’s a… a…”
“A foal? Yeah, I know! His name is Shadow.”
Nathalie looked at Shadow and her mouth dropped open. She couldn’t believe her eyes. As the foal approached closer she realized her wish came true. He had no horn on the forehead nor he had a colorful mane but he was perfect nonetheless.
“Wait. Did you… did you know all this time?” Nathalie asked her sister and broadly smiled at her.
“Yep,” Chloe grinned cheerfully. “Don’t you think the name fits him perfectly?”
“It totally does! Wow! I cannot believe I actually have a real horse now!”
“Hey, Lorraine! George!” Chloe called at the cousins. “Look!” she said, pointing at Shadow. When the kids saw the foal they immediately stopped building the snowman and ran towards Nathalie.
“Can I pet him?” Lorraine asked Nathalie.
“Can I ride him?” asked her George.
“Can I ride him, too?” Lorraine parroted her cousin.
“Can I ride him first?”
“Yo, kids! Slow down! Let Nathalie first get to know him. Plus you cannot ride a foal, little fools!”
“Why not?” Lorraine and George asked Chloe with one voice.
“Because he’s just a baby and his bones are too weak to support any weight,” Kate called at them from the terrace. “Happy birthday, Nathalie,” she smiled at her granddaughter and walked towards them.
The end of the Christmas break rolled around before they knew it and there was still no sign of Nathan. On the last day of the year, Chloe was hiding from the rest of the family at her usual spot since the very morning. She wasn’t so much into horses, but she loved the smell of hay nonetheless. As she climbed up the ladder and looked at the waves gently washing the shore, she recalled the warm summer nights she spent in the stables with Nathan, chilling out on the haystacks, drinking lemonade and waiting for the sunset.
She loved both her siblings with all her heart, but there was this something about her brother that made her feel so much different about him. He was the only person who truly understood her, the only person she could talk to about her interest in the supernatural without the fear of being judged or mocked. Nathan was her best friend and she was his. Their relationship was truly special but in a strange, forbidden way.
They both knew they loved each other in a way siblings shouldn’t even think about but the bond between them was just too strong. They have never kissed, nor they slept in the same bed but they both knew that that could only last for so long. The sexual tension skyrocketed quickly last summer and it was becoming harder each time to hide their feelings from the family. There was no doubt about Chloe being madly in love with Nathan simply because every moment spent without him was killing her on the inside. She felt like a thirsty vampire tied to a chair, unable to reach for the glass of blood sitting on the table right in front of her. She was so thirsty for Nathan’s kisses she could nearly feel his lips touching hers. She closed the eyes and drowned in her imagination of the sweet, forbidden kisses covering her body…
“Merry belated Christmas, Chloe!” a familiar voice called at her and her big eyes opened in great excitement. The love of her dreams was standing in the stables, holding a Christmas gift in his hand and looking up at her.
“Nathan!” Chloe called fervently at him, rushed to the ladder and slid down. “I missed you so much!” she smiled happily and jumped around his neck.
“I missed you, too,” he whispered in her ear while his lips softly caressed her cheek. He wrapped his arms around her and lifted her up from the ground. “You look more beautiful every time I see you!” he said and gazed into her big green eyes. “I’m not sure I can resist you any longer,” he added whispering and squeezed Chloe to his chest, breathing in the scent of her hair. Chloe looked at him with her doe eyes and Nathan laid a soft kiss on her cherry lips.
“We shouldn’t be doing this,” Chloe said, letting out a silent moan of desire.
“I know,” Nathan smiled at her and kissed her again. “But your lips taste incredibly good,” he added sensually. It would be hard for anyone to resist Chloe’s juicy lips covered in a thick layer of a cherry lip balm.
With their lips sealed in a passionate kiss, Nathan slowly walked Chloe towards the ladder. When her back touched the wall he gently pushed his body onto hers, dropping the Christmas gift to the floor. Chloe ran her fingers through his long hair while Nathan slowly drove his lips to her neck and showered it with soft kisses.
“Wait,” Chloe suddenly pushed Nathan away while panting heavily. “Someone… someone could see us down here,” she whispered and looked towards the opened gate. A sudden wave of panic washed over her.
“Well, I’m sure we won’t get caught up there,” Nathan smiled at Chloe and looked at the haystacks above their heads.
“Sounds good to me,” she gave him a naughty look and climbed up the ladder. As soon as Nathan reached Chloe upstairs, he hugged her amorously and the two disappeared between the haystacks…
Meanwhile, Ben and David were preparing the firework show in the garden and Kate with Nathalie began setting up the dinner table. There were only five hours left until midnight and the guests would be arriving soon. Nathalie had always enjoyed this part of the year. Even though she celebrated her birthday already five days ago, the big party took place on the New Year’s Eve.
“I hope everybody comes to our party!” Nathalie looked at her grandmother with big excitement shining from her eyes. “Last year’s party was pretty lame. Hopefully, uncle Zac won’t mess up the show this time around,” she added as she placed the last spoon on the table. Kate giggled when she recalled her son trapping over the firework fuse wire, falling into the swimming pool and dragging most of the skyrockets to the water with him… This year’s party was a success! All the guests arrived and everybody had a great time. David and Benjamin’s firework show was amazing. The townies talked about it for weeks and the major even decided to hire them to organize the official firework show of Monte Vista the next year!
The following day after breakfast, Zac, Amanda and cousin George left for Bridgeport. Before they headed for the airport, they invited everyone for a visit on Easter holidays. Finn and Malika were the only ones who visited them so far and Nathalie had always dreamed about visiting the big city and taking a ride in the subway. Chloe wasn’t so thrilled about the idea, but she could always spend her Easter break alone at the Dribbledine Sports Academy. With the final exams approaching at the speed of light, she wouldn’t probably have time for the family reunion anyway. June was only six months ahead and there was still so much she needed to learn.
Chloe and Nathan were chilling in Chloe’s room, listening to the Dark Wave channel on the radio. They lied on the bed, silently enjoying the music while looking into each other’s eyes. Chloe’s style in general has changed dramatically in the past two years. She was no longer the sweet girl that loved bright colors and listened to Katy Perry on her mp3 player. Actually, she never was that girl. She only let her real self out of the shell and her bedroom was its true reflection.
“Why haven’t you told me you were going to China?” Chloe asked her brother.
“After I left, I planned on coming home in two weeks. Three weeks tops. I had no idea I would stay there for nearly two months and miss the Christmas day… I am sorry, Chloe,” Nathan apologized, but when he tried to give Chloe a hug she pulled away from him.
“Why does it feel like you’re not telling the complete truth?”
“The complete truth? What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean, Nathan. Just tell me.”
“Tell you what?”
“Kate mentioned you met someone,” she said and looked straight into his chocolate brown eyes, now filled with total confusion.
“What?” he asked, puzzled by the sudden change in Chloe’s mood.
“She also said that this someone is obviously more important to you than we are. Than I am.”
“What?! What is this nonsense? Why would she tell you that?”
“I thought you loved me.”
“Oh, Chloe! Of course, I love you! How can you even doubt that?!” he said and put his arm around her shoulder.
“Then why weren’t you here when I arrived!” she screamed at him and tears of desperate anger flooded her eyes. Nathan stared at her uncomprehendingly and the very moment he opened his mouth to say something, Nathalie walked in the room.
“Don’t you know how to knock?” Chloe scolded her sister.
“I’m sorry,” Nathalie apologized. “What’s with the tears?” she looked at Chloe in confusion. Then she realized that their aunt, uncle, and cousin just left and Chloe was probably sorry about the Christmas Eve. “We’re going to Bridgeport in less than four months. You don’t have to be sad, Chloe! Plus nobody except aunt Malika and Lorraine really minded that you locked yourself up in the room for the whole night,” Nathalie tried to cheer her sister up, obviously not getting the situation.
“You locked yourself up in here on the Christmas Eve?” Nathan asked her, hoping to change the argument.
“I need to be alone,” Chloe said instead. “Leave. Both you,” she said and flashed a bad look at Nathan.
“The lunch is done,” told her Nathalie. “Grandma will get upset if you don’t come.”
“Tell her I’m not hungry,” she snapped. Nathan and Nathalie exchanged looks and left Chloe’s room.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with her,” Nathan sighed on the way to the kitchen and looked at his sister with desperate eyes.
“Me neither,” Nathalie shrugged her shoulders. “Go talk to her later,” she suggested. “It seems like you’re the only one that she actually listens to anymore.”
When the snow finally melted away and the first snowdrops appeared on the meadows, the spring was at the doorstep closely followed by the Easter holidays. Nathan left for China in the early February and nobody was too surprised when he didn’t come back in two weeks as he promised. Once again. Chloe was aware of his adventures this time around, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that he was hiding something from her nonetheless. When the Easter bunny came knocking on the door, the family reunion in Bridgeport was impending. Chloe tried very hard to convince her dad that she was behind on her studying and needed to stay at the DSA during the Easter break to catch up, but the fact that she has always been a perfect student didn’t really help her much in that matter. Benjamin insisted on Chloe coming to Bridgeport with them and he wouldn’t accept any excuse. The plane landed at the airport on the Good Friday morning and by the time the family collected all of their luggage, Zachary was already waiting for them in the arrivals hall, holding a huge banner that read ‘LOEWE’ in his hand. It was really hard to miss.
“There’s uncle Zac!” Nathalie called out as soon as she noticed the banner in Zac’s hand. “Uncle Zac, uncle Zac!” she shrieked and ran towards him with her backpack jumping on her back.
“Isn’t this my favorite niece?” Zac laughed when Nathalie jumped at him, nearly making him lose the balance.
“Can we take the subway? Please, say we can!” she said excitedly.
“Well, I rented a limo, but if you really insist,” he laughed.
“Zac! It’s nice to see you, son!” David gave Zac a big hug and patted him on the back.
“So, where’s the car?” Chloe demanded to know.
“I don’t have a car,” told her Zac.
“Haha. Nice try,” she said sarcastically. “Can we go already? I really hate this place.”
“Mind your manners, Chloe,” Benjamin scolded his daughter.
“The entrance to the subway is that way,” said Zac and pointed in the direction of the escalators. “Can I help you with some bag?”
“Here, you can take mine,” said Chloe and dropped her backpack to the floor. Zac looked at Ben who just shrugged his shoulders.
When they finally arrived in the apartment building, Nathalie dashed towards the elevator and pressed the button. Soon after, the elevator door slid to the side and everyone squeezed into the tight space. When Chloe saw her family packed in the elevator like sardines in a can, she decided to take the stairs.
“What floor?” she asked Zac.
“Thirteenth,” he winked at her and the door closed.
“Ugh,” Chloe sighed and headed towards the stairs. To everybody’s surprise, she got there before they did. It was only because an elderly woman with two dogs stopped them halfway up, and even though Zac politely asked her not to get in and wait for them to get out first, she anyway squeezed in and pushed the zero button. As soon as the door closed again, a foul smell filled the air. Normally, Kate would ask who it was, but since there was a stranger in the elevator she refrained from asking.
“Here we are!” Zac victoriously called out when everybody finally got out of the gas chamber and gasped for air.
“I think it was the old lady who farted,” Nathalie shared her opinion on the way to the door of her uncle’s apartment.
“Or maybe it was you,” David teased his granddaughter. “You smelt it, you dealt it!” he laughed.
“I did not!” Nathalie protested.
“Whoever denied it, supplied it!” David continued.
“He who said the rhyme did the crime!” Kate interjected and everybody laughed.
“Alright, alright. It was me. You caught me, officer,” David confessed, laughing out loud.
“For heaven’s sake, grandpa! What did you eat?!” Nathalie asked him with disgust in her voice.
“Whatever you fed me, women,” he grinned, shifting his sight from Kate to Nathalie and back.
“I’m really glad we don’t sleep in the same room,” Chloe commented, feeling relieved.
“Actually, you are,” Zac smiled at her as he slid a key in the keyhole. “We only have one guest room.”
“Oh joy,” Chloe rolled her eyes and followed the rest of the family inside.
Zac and Amanda’s apartment wasn’t as big as the house in Monte Vista, but it was definitely bigger than what everyone expected. There was a corridor leading to the open-space kitchen/dining/living area, three bedrooms – one of which was the guest room, a study and a spacious bathroom with a huge bathtub. Everything except George’s room was neatly organized and polished.
Amanda must have done some serious cleaning before they arrived. The whole place smelled like a flower field. Each room, a different scent. Rose, lavender, gardenia, lilies. A gardener’s dream for some, a headache trigger for others, let alone pregnant women.
“I think I’m gonna be sick,” Chloe said aloud, put her hand on her mouth and dashed to the bathroom. Nathalie swiftly followed her.
“Chloe?” she knocked on the door. “Can I come in?” she asked, but when Chloe didn’t answer, Nathalie turned the knob and slowly opened the door. She found her sister sitting on the floor by the toilet, hugging the porcelain throne with both her arms.
Nathalie’s own stomach heaved as the smell of vomit hit her nose. She quickly walked to the other side of the bathroom and opened the window. It was a lovely spring day. Nathalie breathed in the fresh air and observed the little people walking on the path below.
“I know it’s not the best thing to say, but this nauseating mixture of flower scents is much more pleasant than those couple of minutes in the elevator. You have no idea what that was like,” Nathalie said to Chloe and sat down next to her, gently moving the loose strands of hair away from her sister’s face. “There goes the chocolate muffin,” she noted when Chloe retched the last part of her breakfast into the toilet.
Nathalie flushed the toilet and helped her sister stand up. Chloe rinsed her face with cold water and looked at her reflection in the mirror.
“Can you keep a secret?” she asked her sister. Nathalie nodded her head and stared at Chloe breathlessly, afraid of what she was about to say.
“I think I’m pregnant with Nathan’s child,” Chloe confided her secret to her sister and burst into tears. Nathalie wrapped her arms around her and even though she whispered that everything was going to be alright in Chloe’s ear, she knew it was a lie. How could something like that be possibly alright?
The two teenagers stood in the middle of the bathroom and gazed speechlessly into each other’s eyes, silently observing their childhood dreams shatter before them. Then suddenly, a knock on the door and Benjamin’s muffled voice interrupted the loud silence and the bathroom door opened.
“Is everything okay?” Ben came in asking.
“Y-yeah, everything’s fine, dad,” Chloe said and looked at her sister. “It’s the heavy smell of the flowers… it made me feel nauseous, but I’m good now,” she flashed an innocent smile at Benjamin.
“I’ll open the window in the guest room so you can lie down for a bit,” he said and walked away.
“Does Nathan know?” Nathalie asked her sister.
“Shh!” Chloe put a hand on Nathalie’s mouth and dragged her to the window in the bathroom. “No more words about this, understand?!”
“No, he doesn’t. How could he?!” Chloe interrupted her. “I didn’t know till I puked my very soul into the toilet at my dormitory!”
“For heaven’s sake, Chloe! This is so wrong, so freaking wrong! He’s your brother! My brother! OUR brother!!! What were you thinking?!?!”
“Don’t you think I know whose brother he is?!”
“Then why did you… How could you… and he… This is so messed up.”
“Luckily, I know the solution to my problem and what’s even better – it’s only one step away! I can simply jump out of this window and be done with it. All of it.”
“Don’t you even think about it!” Nathalie said to her sister, pushed her aside and closed the window. “I have no idea how on earth could something like that even happen but it obviously did happen,” she said and looked at Chloe’s belly that all of a sudden looked bigger than usual. “Why didn’t you use a condom?”
“Of course we did! Do you really think I wanted this baby?!” Chloe said and pointed at her bump.
“Well, then I think there’s a chance that you’re not pregnant. Maybe it was really the smell that made you feel nauseous. I kinda feel sick myself right now.”
“Yeah, and the flower power magically bloated my belly, right?”
“What do the hippies have to do with that? Oh my goodness! Have you slept with more guys?!” Nathalie’s eyes widened with fear.
“Chill, sister. It was just a joke,” Chloe laughed out loud. She sat down on the carpet by the bathtub and looked up at Nathalie. “Not even in a dream I thought I’d become a mother so soon,” she said and placed one hand on her belly.
“Wait. Are you… are you going to keep it?!”
“I guess… plus it’s too late anyway. I’m already at the beginning of the fourth trimester.”
END OF CHAPTER THREE
CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO VIEW CHLOE’S PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION CARD
CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO VIEW NATHALIE’S PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION CARD
Two years, one month and twenty-two days. This is how long it took me to write the third chapter of the Loewe Legacy. At this point, I can only imagine how long it will take me to get to the end of this challenge… if I ever get to the end, that is. As of now, this legacy is going on a hiatus. I have no intention to abandon this story completely, however, I simply don’t have time to play the Sims right now. My gameplay is up to date with the last episode of this chapter, so as you can imagine, it will take me a while before I’ll be able to write new episodes. My save games are safely backed up in my external hard drive and I am looking forward to getting back to them once I have the time!
In the meantime (except of catching up on your stories) I’ll be updating the website, working on some extra content such as the family album, the personal identification cards, a brand new alphabetical list of Sims who appear in this story & character’s biographies, I have also finished editing the first video of the retrospective series Shards Of My Past dedicated to the founder of the Loewe Legacy. You can watch the trailer for the series here.
I WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL OF YOU FOR FOLLOWING ME ON THIS LONG AND CHALLENGING JOURNEY AND FOR GIVING MY STORY A CHANCE. I GREATLY APPRECIATE THE SUPPORT AND FEEDBACK YOU HAVE GIVEN ME IN THE PAST THREE YEARS. IF IT WEREN’T FOR YOU, MY FRIENDS, THE LOEWE LEGACY WOULD BE LONG DEAD BY NOW…
I’LL SEE YOU AROUND!