2.12: Ain’t No Sunshine

Parental Advisory Explicit ContentGeneration 2 is Not Safe For Work and Not Suitable For Children.


 

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Annika had had no idea what to do or what to expect when the ship put her ashore in Moonlight Falls, but fortunately Natalia set upon her the moment she stepped off the gangplank into this strange new world. Annika was relieved, immediately recognizing her for a Riverhaven. The features were unmistakable; she looked just like the Riverhavens back on Ouroboros.

The thought of Ouroboros brought a wave of homesickness.

 

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“Hop on!” Natalia chirped.

“On the…broom?”

Natalia’s bubbly personality had initially put Annika more at ease, but this, Annika was not so sure about.

“It’s safe, I promise. Rides like a dream. Be glad I didn’t ride my vacuum cleaner today.” Natalia cackled.

“Vacuum cleaner?? But…what about my things?”

Natalia waved a hand dismissively. “I’ve already arranged for them to be brought to the hotel this afternoon.”

“Hotel?” Annika was feeling more and more lost by the second, but Natalia smiled reassuringly.

“It’s where you’ll be staying, since we have no extra bedrooms at the house. Don’t worry, you’ll love it,” she assured her.  “It’s the nicest hotel in town, and it’s just down the road from the school you’ll be attending, and our house is just a block away. Our friend Rose owns the place, and she’s given you the best suite they have.”

“Well…ok.”

“Come on! The family is anxious to meet you and hear all the news from home!”

At Natalia’s encouraging smile, Annika tentatively seated herself on the broom behind Natalia, surprised that it held their weight. “Now what?” she asked uncertainly.

 

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“Now hang on!” Once Annika had a hold on Natalia’s waist, the broom sped forward, catching Annika off guard. She tightened her grip on Natalia, keeping her head down as she watched the landscape flash by dangerously, sickeningly fast.

The town bustled around them, and Annika took in the sight of all the buildings and lights with wide eyes. And not only did no one raise an eyebrow at Natalia and her broom, but they passed someone else zipping around on a broom! Natalia raised a hand in greeting as they passed.

Soon, they left the outskirts of the charming, misty town, and headed farther up into the mountains, where the cloud cover was low and dark. “Where are we going?” Annika shouted to make herself heard over the wind flying across Natalia’s shoulder.

“Midnight Hollow is on the other side of the pass,” Natalia said over her shoulder. “Too many people come to Moonlight Falls to gawk over all the supernaturals here, so we moved to Midnight Hollow several years ago. It’s… well it’s nothing like Ouroboros, you’ll see.”

 

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After the terrifying trip over the mountains, Annika shakily climbed off the broom stick, bringing an amused chuckle from Natalia.

“You’ll get used to it. Though most people in Midnight Hollow drive cars. You might like those better.”

“Cars?”

“You’ll see,” Natalia said with a smile. She waved her hand at the huge structure before them. This is where we live.”

Annika gaped at the huge house. The Meadowstone home back on Ouroboros, built by her father, was by far the largest structure on the island, but it bore little resemblance to this house. Annika wondered how on earth they didn’t have room for her here. Then again, Riverhavens weren’t exactly known for having small families.

Natalia led Annika up the pathway toward the front door, which burst open as they reached the bottom of the steps. One of the women, Annika guessed, must be the other Riverhaven twin. Apart from the pale, almost white color of her hair–another Riverhaven trademark–she was nearly identical to Natalia. “You must be Annika!” the woman greeted her. “And goodness, you look so much like your dad! How is Shane?”

“He’s dead,” she answered flatly. Her eyes were saucers, taking in the inside of the house as everyone bustled inside. “So’s Mother.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Ah, where are my manners? I’m Nicola. And this is Linda, Alastair’s wife.” Alastair, Annika recalled, was the eldest of the Riverhaven clan.

 

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A boy her own age bounded down the stairs then, and Annika’s eyes widened even further at the sight of him.

“Ah, here’s my oldest son, Chance,” Natalia said. “He’s only a little younger than you. Almost all grown up.” She affectionately ruffled his dark hair while he rolled his eyes.

His pale eyes, Annika observed, were the only Riverhaven characteristic about him.

Her attention was drawn once more to the people gathering around her. More children tumbled into the room, along with an older girl. A fairy?!? Annika gawked at the girl’s wings shivering with gossamer light. She had heard of fairies, but had never seen one; there hadn’t been fairies on Ouroboros in centuries, though it was said that it was they who built the ancient faery ring of stones out on the bluff. 

“Tell me about your sister,” Natalia was saying. “Ayala was our best friend!”

Annika nodded. “Well, she and Uncle Dustin have 4 kids–he’s not really my uncle, of course, but that’s what I called him since I was a kid—“ she was cut off by an exuberant peal of laughter from Natalia.

“Dustin! I knew it! I just knew it!”

 “Knew what?”

 

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“That she was going to marry our brother,” Natalia and Nicola were both giggling. “When we were kids, she hated him—hated him! I don’t even remember why, but I knew there had to be more to it than that. Ha! The way they looked at each other! The day we left Ouroboros, I told her she’d probably marry him. She got so mad at me for saying that.”

Natalia clapped her hands gleefully, sparks flying from her fingers. “And 4 kids! Haha! They’ve been busy-busy-busy!”

“Let’s get her settled in over at the hotel. She probably needs a moment to breathe,” Alastair’s wife Linda interjected. “Alastair will want to hear all this when he gets home tonight, so no point in making her retell it.” She looked pointedly at the twins, then turned to Annika. “I can only imagine you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment.”

Annika nodded gratefully. Her eyes found Chance’s where he stood behind his mother. He gave her an appreciative smile, which she didn’t return as she looked at him thoughtfully. Then she was ushered back out the door and down the sidewalk, and into some large painted metal contraption. She jumped in her seat when the engine turned over.

“It’s disconcerting, I know.” Nicola’s voice was sympathetic. “It took awhile for us to get used to it.”

 

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Despite the agreement to wait until tonight for news from home, the twins continued to pepper her with questions during the drive to the hotel. Annika tried to answer all their inquiries as she stared out of the motor vehicle’s glass windows at the dreary landscape. Natalia had been right; Midnight Hollow was nothing like Ouroboros. It made her ache for home even more. Well, no mind. She was free of Jace and Carrick and Dustin, and damned if she wasn’t going to make the most of it. 

“Jace’s letter didn’t say much,” Natalia was saying. “Just that it would do you some good to visit, and for us to watch after you. We were ecstatic, of course, and we’ll do everything we can to make you comfortable while you’re here. I understand you’re staying until you graduate?”

“That’s the plan,” Annika agreed without elaborating.

“Tell me about your brothers,” Natalia wanted to know. “How is Carrick?”

“And Jace,” Nicola put in, with a glance at her twin.

Annika made a face, and the twins burst into laughter.

“I know that look!” Nicola laughed. “Big brothers can be the worst.”

Annika explained that Jace was the guardian of her and her sisters, since their parents passed. “He’s a real stick-in-the-mud, him and Carrick both. Between the both of them, I basically have two uptight dads. Thankfully Carrick is busy with his own family. Aunt Nala is pregnant again–“

Nala?” Natalia asked in surprise. “Carrick and our baby sister Nala?”

“Well, yes.” Annika wondered at her reaction about that. “They’ve been together for as long as I can remember. And Jace and Natasha, too. He’s wanted to handfast with her for forever, but he got stuck with us.”

 

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“Here we are,” Linda announced from the front seat. The car came to a stop, and a man, costumed in black and white, rushed forward to open their doors. She gazed up and around her as she stepped out of the confines of the car, her stomach suddenly roiling. This place was like a castle, teeming with lights and people.

“I know, it’s a lot to take in,” Nicola said, “but you’ll get used to it just like we did. Really, it’s wonderful here, you’re going to love it. Who knows, you might even want to stay! We’ve never regretted it. Though we do miss Ouroboros. We’ve not had any news from home since Daddy and Mother died.”

Annika wasn’t so sure she’d ever want to stay in such a dark land. Sunlight seemed to be a rare commodity in Midnight Hollow.

 

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“This–this is all mine?” Annika could hardly believe her eyes when they were escorted into a lavish suite of rooms.

“All yours,” Nicola smiled. “It’s not every day that we get someone from home to spoil, after all.”

Natalia agreed. “We wanted the best for you. You’ll spend lots of time with us too of course, but we thought you’d like to have your own space since our house is so cramped. Chance and Sophie will take you to school, and the three of you can do your schoolwork together during the afternoons at our place before dinner.”

“But if you need a sanity break from the kids or just some quiet time, this is indeed all yours,” Linda added. While Annika was used to being around children, especially her nieces and nephews, she was coming to realize that the Riverhaven clan of Midnight Hollow was a village unto itself. Most of the family hadn’t been present when she and Natalia had arrived, so she’d yet to meet many of them.

Just then a brisk knock at the door announced the arrival of Annika’s trunk and bag, which looked decidedly out of place amidst the jewel-toned finery of her suite. As the young man unloaded her things from his cart, he glanced curiously at Annika several times. While there was nothing insulting or unfriendly in his gaze, Annika suddenly felt self-conscious when she realized that she herself looked very much out of place. Not only in this room, but in this entire town.

Her clothes were all wrong. Her hair was all wrong. Her face was all wrong. Looking at the three women with her, everything about them was polished. Painted faces, styled hair, delicate jewelry, and colorful and elegant clothing. By contrast, Annika realized how rough her own clothing was. She had spun and woven the cloth of her shirt herself, and she’d tanned the leather for her pants, from an animal her brothers had hunted.

 

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Annika had reached her overload point. The women quickly realized this and made their goodbyes, promising to pick her up again in a few hours for dinner and to meet the rest of the family. As soon as the door closed behind them, Annika leaned against it and let out a shaky breath. Well, Annie, you’re not on Ouroboros anymore. She was just going to have to adapt.

 

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A week passed. Then two. Then three.

Jessie was moping, and he knew it, but he just couldn’t be ok. His head and heart were so fucked up right now. He couldn’t stand his mom’s knowing looks, nor her unsubtle attempts to mother him since Annika left.  It’s high time I make my own camp anyway, he groused. Most young people left their parents’ camp when they finished school. He was 18 now; He’d just never been in a hurry to leave school until his friends did. Additionally, his mom was pregnant; their small cabin was about to get even more cramped.

Fuck it. He’d do it. All he needed was a sleeping roll and a fire and some freaking solitude.

She’ll return to you. His mother’s words from two years before haunted him now, but he didn’t want that false hope no matter how much he hoped Annika would return. False hope only hurt worse. He just wanted to be alone, and he just wanted Annika to come back, even though he knew damn good and well it wouldn’t be to him. If she did come back at all—and he knew there was the huge possibility that she wouldn’t—she’d go back to her usual toxic relationship with Abel. Abel certainly wasn’t pining, that jackass dickhead.

Jessie didn’t care that he’d never have a shot at a real relationship with Annika or that they’d only ever be friends. He just wanted her back.

 

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In some of these reflections, he almost hated Annika, but mostly he hated himself for being stupid enough to fall in love with her. He didn’t even know when it had happened. Maybe he’d always loved her.

He was well aware of Annie and Aimee’s dalliances over the years, but he wished to hell and back that he hadn’t walked in on them that day, when Fate had slapped him not once but twice. By the time she’d left, she had pretty much scorned any sexual relations with Abel, a fact that not many people even knew, so why not? So he’d decided to just stop fighting it, come whatever may. He’d be her lover; at least he’d have that much. Annie wasn’t a girl that took sex seriously, and she was never going to be anyone’s content, domesticated housewife, he knew that. But now he’d never know what might have been. 

The sex…he shook his head as he lowered himself to the edge of the dock, his legs dangling above the quiet sea. Gods, he wanted her. Though he guessed he had nothing to compare it to–the only girl he’d ever been with was Annie–every time with her had been amazing. It was hard not to think about how it might have been once he stopped holding back, stopped fighting it. But she was gone.

Gone.

He didn’t even want Aimee’s company. Even though he counted her as a friend, it was just too much of a reminder of why Annika’s brothers had sent her away. Right now he’d be happy if only to have things back to normal. He and Annie and Aimee had almost always spent their time together, and without that, he just felt lost and angry. Without Annie, he was empty. The sun may as well not shine.

“Jessie?”

His shoulders drooped at the sound of the footsteps slapping on the dock toward him. Aimee. He just wanted to be alone.

 

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Silence stretched between them for long moments while he contemplated just diving into the water.

“I miss her too,” Aimee finally said, looking at him sideways from where she rested on her heels.

“Yeah,” he said, more harshly than he should have.

“She might come back, you know.”

“I—Twallan, I hope so,” he said, hating the broken hollowness of his voice. He glanced at Aimee’s face in time to catch the dawning realization there, and quickly looked away again.

Aimee regarded him in silence, and didn’t miss the look in his eyes as he’d looked away. The tense anguish in every line of his body. She tilted her head to the side as the realization finally connected. “That wasn’t the first time you were with her, was it?” she asked neutrally. “That wasn’t the first time the two of you had sex. Was it?” she asked again.

Jessie said nothing.

 

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Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers


 

So Annika never told Aimee about us, either, he mused. It wasn’t like Annika to play her cards so close to the vest, and he wasn’t sure what to think about that. Why? To protect him from Abel? He could whip that scrawny fucker any day. But she hadn’t even told Aimee? Either he was her dirty little secret, or she actually gave a thought to how he’d feel about people finding out.

“You’re in love with her, aren’t you?” Aimee asked in disbelief, after watching his obvious turmoil for a few moments. Jessie couldn’t be that stupid. Yet when his eyes flicked away to look out across the sea, she knew it was true. “Jessie Swift! Have you utterly and completely lost your mind?”

In his chest, his heart tripped painfully. “Just my heart,” he said softly.

“Oh Jess.” Aimee just shook her head. “You know how Annie is. I love you both to death, Jessie, but this….” She paused and shook her head again. “This won’t end well. She’ll chew you up and spit you out. That’s if she even comes back.”

“I know,” he said gruffly.

After a few moments, Aimee stood, laying a hand on his shoulder. “Jessie, she might not even come back, you know? And even if she does, well, you know what she’s like. You need to move on, find someone else. It will be good for you. You deserve to be happy.” She turned to walk back down the dock, but paused and turned. “You should come hang out with me and Drake sometime. He’d love to have another guy around to hang out with. You could bring that Calla girl. It’d do you some good.”

 

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Finally, she left.

Jessie angrily stood, and dove headfirst into the water. He had to get his mind off this.

He struck a grueling pace through the water, skirting the shore, skirting human contact.

 

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Taking deep, slow breaths, he swam harder, pushing himself all the way to the mouth of the harbor before turning back. Finally exhausted and drained, he hauled himself ashore and flopped onto the sand, wishing the sun could warm him.

Aimee was right. He knew it and he hated it, but she was right.

Calla. She’d been hanging around some lately. She was a nice girl, but she didn’t always take the hint that he just wanted to be alone. He didn’t need another friend. Not that she deserved him being a surly asshole about it, though.

“Oh Annie.” He dragged his hand across his face. The next several months were going to be hell.

 

600ntsChallenge notes: When I sent Jessie to Midnight Hollow to test how Traveler handles sending Sims to existing saves, he was never able to go to school. The “starts in X days” just kept resetting. And I don’t think aging would’ve happened anyway. So I ended up letting them all age up to YAs before I sent Annika to Midnight Hollow. For story purposes, though, she’s still some months from her 18th birthday.

That also means that I’ve belatedly finished Shane and Lilith’s Perfect Children roll. God that was a bitch. lol. The girls stayed on the honor roll and in their after-school activities. I had them in two after-school activities since there’s no such thing as ‘learning to drive’ in their world.

Here’s a better look at the Riverhaven household in Midnight Hollow:
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And the gorgeous hotel room that the lovely Buckley made especially for Annika:
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We’ll be seeing a bit more of it in the next few chapters 😉