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A Good Move




April Bertino is 42; Carl Bertino is 42; Danni is 15; Pauline is 14; Conner is 8; Claire is 6.
Andrew Goss is 25; Kevin Waters is 16; Dennis Waters is 14.


February 2025




The click of the door echoed through the apartment.  Andrew turned to see Leo standing behind him.


"So here you are!"
"Yeah... my own apartment."
"You don't sound very happy,"
"It's just so empty."


"It won't be when you finish unpacking your stuff."
"I am finished.  I don't have much stuff."
"Oh."  He looked around again.  "So, why did you leave the boarding house, anyway?  Samantha's boyfriend's gone now, and I don't think he'll be coming back."


"It was getting too rough," Andrew said.  "There are these guys living there now who are just looking for a fight...


"... even Jeff found out, in the short time he was there...


"... it really is time to get my own place."

"Well, do you want to come upstairs and have a drink to... um... to celebrate or something?" asked Leo, deciding that it was best to put a positive spin on it anyway.  "You need to meet people, get some company.  I could introduce you to the neighbours - "
"Can't," said Andrew.  "I need to get ready for work in... 10 minutes ago!"
"Ok," said Leo, starting for the door.  "Well, if you need anything any time, I'm just upstairs."

----

April Bertino looked anxiously around the cafe.


Andrew was late again.  He was usually a good worker but lately, since this trouble with his girlfriend... well... first there were the long conversations with customers who really just wanted their food, not a lecture on why he was never cut out to be a construction worker...


 ... his comments about some of the other staff hadn't exactly been appropriate, either...


The girlfriend - ex-girlfriend - worked for April's brother, and apparently she'd dealt with it all by throwing herself into her work.  April wished Andrew could have done the same.  She'd have to talk to him again, if this kept up.

He finally arrived, as usual, full of apologies.  "I moved to a new apartment this morning," he said.  "I lost track of time.
"Ok, but you know I need you to be on time.  Mike can't work late every day, just because you're not there to take over from him."

Andrew nodded.  April would have liked to discuss it more, but her two eldest daughters walked in.  They stopped in for lunch most days after school.  Danni would be on the way to her job at the pet shop, and Pauline, no doubt, home to bury herself in her homework.  She left a relieved looking Andrew to talk to them.


"I won't be home after work, remember," Danni said.  "I'm going skating with Kevin."
"Are you going too?" April asked Pauline.  The girl shook her head.
"I asked her," Danni said, "but she'd rather work on her science assignment."

"It's an interesting assignment!" said Pauline.
"... and its not due for a week.  You've got plenty of time."
April nodded in agreement.  "You can work on it while Danni's at work, then go out later."  As much as she liked the dedication to school, Pauline really needed to get out and enjoy herself more.
"Kevin's brother is coming... " Danni said teasingly.


"And...?" Pauline mumbled, looking away from them.


"And...? said April, hopefully.


"Alright, alright... I'll go if it gets you guys off my back!"

April shook her head as she watched the girls leave.  It really made her think about all the 'nature versus nurture' arguments, that they had turned out so completely different.  They'd both been adopted as infants, both had the same upbringing, and yet...


It pleased April that Pauline had agreed to go.  Even more, if there was a boy she was interested in.  So boys at that age could be harsh on girls who didn't fit the current image of attractive, but if Danni was encouraging Pauline, April figured it was ok.  Danni was very protective of her younger sister, for all that she teased her when other people were around.
---

Carl Bertino was equally pleased to hear that Pauline was going out with her sister.  Of all his children, she was the one he had the most trouble relating to.  All calculations and formulas, no creativity.

"She is creative, in her own way," April had said.  "Like the cute little toy robots she makes..."


But it wasn't a kind of creativity that Carl could understand.  He'd been a dancer most of his life, and while he'd come to accept that he was probably never going to be the world class ballet dancer he'd dreamed of becoming, he still made his living from dance.


He worked a few evenings a week as a flamenco dancer, and during the day, he taught students in his studio at home.


Dance fitness classes made the most money, but he also tutored ballet students, and he was satisfied with that.

He'd always hoped that, as his only son and only biological child, Conner would follow him into dancing... but the boy seemed more interested in playing video games.


Even his little sister Claire, who could usually talk him into anything, couldn't coax him into joining her...


Claire... at least one of his kids was interested in dance, so long as she didn't lose interest in her teens like Danni had.  She joined him for warm-up most mornings before school even if, at six years old, she couldn't keep up with his routine.


Other days, he'd catch her practising alone when no one else was using the studio.


Not that she didn't waste her time on video games, too.  They all did.


And, much as he was glad that there was at least one thing that his kids all had in common, he just wished that it could have been something a little more creative and productive than just a game.

---

After work, Andrew stretched out in front of the tv.
His own tv.  In his own apartment.  


His own quiet, empty apartment.
Somehow, he found it hard to get excited over it.

----

Pauline didn't know how they did it.  


Danni and her boyfriend Kevin were skating around the rink, completely unselfconsciously...



... and she could understand it if they were good, but actually, they weren't... 

Why was it that, if Pauline did something dumb, people laughed and made a joke, but if Danni did something dumb, she just got up and grinned and got on with it, and somehow it made her more popular and likeable when she did?

Pauline didn't dare get on the ice herself.  She knew what would happen.  Just like she'd known how this whole evening was going to go, from the minute they'd met the two boys at the park gate.


That was something else Danni was unselfconscious about.  Pauline just found it embarrassing.  

She'd had enough of this.  She wasn't going to waste the whole evening watching her sister making a show of herself.  At least there was something back by the park gate that she knew she would enjoy.


She thought that no one had seen her leave, but Kevin's brother Dennis watched her go.  He hesitated for a moment, then followed.

"What are you doing?" he asked, sitting down at the other side of the chess board.  "That takes two players, at least it did the last time I played."


"You've played?" Pauline asked, without looking up from the pieces.
"Sure.  You want a game?"


They never finished their game.  Danni and Kevin were there too soon, reminding them that it was time to go home.

"Um, I'll come with my sister next time..." Pauline said hesitantly, as she packed away the pieces.  "I mean, if you come with your brother... "


"Or, maybe we could just go somewhere without out your sister and my brother...?" Dennis suggested.



"Yeah," said Pauline, "maybe we could."

----

Only Danni came to the shop after school, the following afternoon."Pauline went straight home," she sighed.  "She said something about wanting to catch up on the homework time she missed yesterday... ".
"Well, I'm going be late home tonight," said April.  "I'm going to visit my sister."
"That reminds me," said Pauline, "Uncle Kyle was in the shop yesterday."


"Probably looking for something for that blasted unruly dog..."
"It's a cute dog!"
"You like all animals," April said.
"No, I don't," said Danni.  "Remember, I wouldn't bring Conner home a pet rat."


"I wouldn't let you!" said April.

Andrew couldn't help but overhear their conversation.  When April went to talk to a customer, he went up to Danni.


"So, you work in the pet shop, right?"
"Yeah..."
"Can I talk to you for a minute... ?"

And it really was little more than a minute, before April called out, "Hey, Danni, stop distracting my staff!"
Saying a quick goodbye to the girl, Andrew went to April.  "It wasn't her fault," he said. "I was the one who was distracting her."


"Yeah, well you've been a bit distracted all the time lately, haven't you?"
"I guess," he muttered then added, "she's a nice kid.  What's Danni short for - Danielle?"
"No," said April, unable to stop herself from smiling at the strategic change of topic.  "Everyone thinks that, but actually, its short for Jordan.".
----

"What are you up to - more video games?"


Pauline jumped.  She hadn't heard her father come in.


"It's chess," she said.  It's not like I'm just shooting things or anything."


"Still games," said Carl.  "You need to get out and meet people a bit more..."  He walked away shaking his head.

Pauline waited until he was definitely gone, then looked back at the screen.  There was a new message: Hey, Pauline, are you still there??


She grinned, and typed back, sorry, I was just looking for a good move.  She hit the Enter key to send it.
She clicked on a couple of pieces, then thought for a moment.  Then she stated typing again: Maybe it would be fun to get together on the weekend for a real game?
Then, she quickly backspaced to erase the whole message before she mistakenly sent it.


She waited.  Still no move from Dennis.  She retyped the message, this time adding, you know, like you said we could meet without my sister and your brother.  At least if she reminded him, there was less chance of him being annoyed at her for assuming too much.

Her finger hovered between the Enter key and the Backspace key as she watched his move on the screen.  Finally, taking a deep breath, she hit Enter.  She didn't let go of the breath completely until a reply came.

I'd love to.  Are you busy Saturday?
Busy?  Well, there was the science assignment... but if she worked on that later tonight, and tomorrow, then...
No, Saturday would be good.
She smiled to herself as she made her next move.  Saturday would be very good.

--- 


"You got a dog." said Leo.

"Yeah," said Andrew.


"And you named it... Hartman?!"
 "I didn't name it," said Andrew.  "It was already called Hartman and it won't answer to anything else... "


"... it's a bit of company, anyway..."


"... I mean, at least now I've got someone to watch tv with... "


Leo sighed.  That was the last thing he thought Andrew needed.

On the other hand, didn't they always say that walking a dog was a great way to meet people?  Maybe this could be a good move after all.

----

For anyone new here, more on Danni's background here.

April is one of the younger sisters of James and Kyle Centowski. She was named after Cory's mother, who died shortly before she was born.  Her family of mostly-adopted kids has an interesting background.

I needed a playable home for little Jordan, and April and Carl had been married a number of years without having a baby.  I thought it would be something different to play a family with only adopted kids, so they adopted Jordan and I set her in ACR to cannot have a baby.  They adopted Pauline through the regular in-game adoption thing.  Then I got a new version of ACR and forgot to reset her to cannot have baby, and along came Connor.  In-story. we're callling it one of those unexpected 'miracle pregnancies' that happen sometimes to people who thought they couldn't have kids :)  .  And, with my plan for an all-adopted family now trashed, I didn't bother putting April back to cannot have a baby.  

She got pregnant again, but that ended with my first Inteen miscarriage.  Kinda fitted with her storyline of problems related to pregnancies, I guess, but April was heartbroken.



I read that having one miscarriage increases the chance of another, and I couldn't stand to put her through that twice!   So, back to 'cannot have baby', and we applied to adopt to satisfy their baby wants.  I decided we'd ask for a toddler, and if it was a girl, I'd exit without saving because it would be nice for them to have another son.  I saved the game about a sim-hour before the social worker came, for this purpose.  


A few minutes later, my r/l phone rang.  I thought I'd paused the game when I left to answer it, but I hadn't.  Not that it would really matter - it'd just hang on the screen where you choose the age of the child you're adopting, right?


Wrong.  Apparently, if you leave in long enough, it defaults to a child.  I came back and the game was running, and there was this little girl, Claire, sitting on their sofa watching tv.  From what I could tell, April and Carl were upstairs woohoo'ing so no one had even welcomed the kid.  I was about to exit without saving, when they came down, and this happened:



... sentimental sucker that I am, that was enough to convince me to keep her :)  And then went on to demonstrate to the kid, what it means to have a mummy and daddy... :)


BTW #1: I love it when playables who are related or friends turn up on community lots at the same time.  That's what happened with Ashley and Kyle, and I was glad I could slip the picture in :)  The fights at the guest house happened autonomously, too... I don't even know what it was about but there was this run of townies attacking my playables!


BTW #2: Andrew Goss has earned his place as a playable now.  By my 'rules', townies become playable when they have a best friend or higher relationship with a playable sim, and he is best friends with Leo (who became playable himself from gardener NPC, via his relationship with Helen).  So you'll be seeing more of Andrew in future.





4 comments:

  1. I love the information about little Jordan/Danni and Dennis and Pauline are so cute with their innocent crushes. I like your townie rule, it makes sense.

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  2. I love meeting new families, and this one was no exeption! I was really curious where little Jordan went after Elle gave her up for adoption! I'm glad to see she found a nice home.
    It's interesting to see Andrew too, see a little bt of his side of what all happened.

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  3. Ah Pauline, I don't know why it is that popular girls can do anything, and it's "cool" but someone not as popular can do a similar thing, and be mocked. I'm glad she found a friend there at the end. The poor Dad though, how unique that he loves dancing so much, and wants his son to participate in it. That is rare in the real world, and nice to see the dynamics of that in this family.

    Andrew and the dog, lol, that's funny. I hope he doesn't get himself fired.

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  4. Apple, thanks. I needed some kind of criteria for the townies. I try to get my playables to befriend/romance each other, but it's good to have some 'new blood' here from time to time, too :)

    Tanja, I thought people would be wondering about Jordan, so I put the two posts quite close together :) You'll see more of Andrew in the future, too.

    Maisie, when Carl (teenage townie) became playable, he had a persistent want to buy a ballet barre, hence his future career. Don't think Conner will follow him, though... not with a gaming OTH and only about one active point! :)

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Thanks for reading and commenting!