The Stratton Family pt. 2

Amy was very cute and Jennifer was almost more happy than Peter about her arrival even if his wish for another child had been stronger.

The shop came second while Amy was a baby. His job at home was more important now. Peter had to admit that Amy was not the only reason which kept him there.

She was the most important one though. Peter really wanted to get to know his child. It was hard to tell when they were still so small, but he sensed that Amy would be very different from Melanie.

Meanwhile Melanie continued meeting new sims of her age. Lately she had become friends with Cary Gardener and the way he kept looking at her she felt that he was interested in more than friendship. One evening he walked her home after they had been hanging out with each other for some hours.

Melanie's feeling was right. When Cary walked her back to the house he kept looking at her and the interest that was there before turned into a crush.

Cary was not shy and before he said goodbye he caressed her cheek looking for a moment as if he was about to kiss her. Up to then she was still undecided and not sure if she wanted Cary to be more than a friend. But his touch felt really good and it was exciting to have someone flirt with her.

When she was at home her attention quickly turned to her baby sister again. Amy was easy to handle but still a lively and active child.

Her bond with Jennifer was very strong from the beginning.

Peter had to work harder to gain her favour but it did not take him long either.

Having the child did not bring back their old life, instead the attraction they felt for each other continued to grow. Maybe such important changes in their life as moving, opening a business and having another child, had been necessary to enable them to redefine themselves as a couple. Peter was still the same steady reliable family man as before, but the example of some other men in the neighbourhood had taught him that he could remain a lover at the same time.

When Amy grew into a toddler Peter found it even harder to leave his family to open the shop. He did not want to miss a moment of his daughter growing up.

Fortunately in his case, Amy had the chaotic rhythm of most toddlers and she often would be awake in the late evenings, so he could spend time with her. Jennifer had begun to teach her to walk, but she learned it from him in the end.

He did not do long shifts at the shop, but he was still tired when he returned home and he would usually go to bed when his daughter was getting sleepy too.

She did not need as much rest as him and he would have to try to get as many hours as possible before he would wake up from her crying again.

She never cried for long though and as soon as she was picked up by him or her mother her usual happy smile would appear on her face.

She was bright and learned quickly whether with or without the help of smart milk.

It was the last skill she mastered but talking she liked best of all.

Once she had learned it, she loved talking and being talked to.

Beau Broke was another guy from the neighbourhood Melanie had become friends with and it was partly because of him that she did not know if she really wanted to go out with Cary. One day she talked to him about Louise Simmon and what a nice girl she was only to find out that Beau was in love with her. She tried not to show her disappointment when she heard those news, because she did in fact like Louise a lot and she had become one of her best friends.

Despite her shyness, Melanie had made a lot of friends and often one or two of them came to visit her after school. But she now wanted to have more time for her sister as well, knowing that she would remain a toddler only for a short period. Everyone who saw her agreed that Amy was really an exceptionally cute thing and Melanie loved to play with her.

It was fun just to watch her at times.

It was a very happy time for the whole family and despite being busy with the business and the child, Jennifer and Peter had more time for each other. She had loved him differently before and Jennifer felt that only now she was really falling in love with her husband.

Peter could see that his wife found him more appealing than she used to and this of course pleased him a lot.

Melanie was not too unhappy when her parents were getting into this mood, because it meant that she could have Amy to herself. She continued to be the centre of the family's attention, not only because she looked so cute but also for being such a lively and playful little girl.

She could not get enough from playing with her parents.

While playful and lively, Amy was as shy as her sister. Nevertheless her sweetness worked on the neighbours too. Aemon Boulder was a student who had recently graduated and moved to Pleasantview. He had only met the Strattons that day and was not really the type of guy who you would expect to have fun playing with small children. Still he spent a long time sitting next to Amy, having a little conversation with her and laughing at her remarks.

Aemon was a young, well built, and attractive man, but when Jennifer looked at him she almost immediately started to compare him with Peter and he did not stand a chance. It made her realise how strongly she felt for her husband now.

Peter still stayed at home a lot and to have both parents around provided Amy with all she needed.

She kept a slight preference for her mother, but her father was close second. Peter did not regret keeping the shop closed, because the time he had with his daughter was worth it.

'Now look at your lazy Daddy, Amy, it's late in the morning and he is still in bed.' Peter had woken up from Amy trying to get out of her crib and still needed a moment to recollect himself. It was not extraordinary in any way, but afterwards Jennifer always remembered it as a moment of perfect happiness and peace. Amy cuddled up in her arms and she felt there was nothing else she wanted apart from her daughters and her husband.
'Are you still tired? Do you want me to take Amy into the living room?', she asked Peter.
'No, it's alright, I just need another second', he replied.

So Jennifer put Amy on the floor and went in the kitchen to make breakfast. Peter rubbed the last sleep from his face and got up. His attention was immediately grabbed by his daughter who demanded that he played with her now that he was awake.

When he had woken up he had been very far away with his thoughts which returned to his family now.

Being everyones darling anyway Amy never had to ask much for attention. Nevertheless she liked to follow the rest of the family around, curious of what the others were doing or if they were in the mood to play with or cuddle her.

Florence, a very good friend of Jennifer, was living with Ryan Haggerty now. When she visited one evening she confided that she was hoping that he would propose to her eventually.
It was far too early to think about children especially since it had never been a matter of importance to Florence. Little Amy was making her think differently though.

Everyone would have liked her to stay a toddler a bit longer, but soon it was the time for Amy to grow up.

Melanie had insisted to bring her to the birthday cake, wanting to hold Amy one last time before she would turn into a child. A new life span always opened new opportunities. At the same time a feeling of loss always mixed in with age transition. Of course Amy would not disappear, but Amy the toddler would.

and so it happened and Amy became a school child.

She did not regret it at all, she was full of excitement.

The night after Amy's age transition Jennifer and Peter stayed awake for a long time, holding hands and talking to each other when they were in bed. They both agreed that their life had greatly improved in many respects since they moved to Bluewater. 
After Peter had sold the shop again (planning to reopen it soon) they were reasonably wealthy, their marriage though it had never been unhappy had become much more satisfying and they had two wonderful daughters. Peter was ready for another child. When he married he had not really expected to have the large family he had always dreamed of since he didn't think that Jennifer was the type for it. It seemed a more realistic dream now.

With the shop sold and both children in school Peter had more time to do household chores and repairs, though it was not always a good idea. He was not that good with mechanics and the attempt to repair the trash compactor gave him an electric shock that nearly killed him. Fortunately he ended up with no more injuries than burned hair and a cough from the fumes that the implosion of the trash compactor had caused.

Jennifer had seen what happened from the living room and had been paralysed by the fear for her husband. As soon as she recovered she ran up to him. The danger was over and with relief they both could see the funny side of it. 'What do you think of my new style?', Peter asked.
'May I ask who you are first? I don't think I've met you before', Jennifer replied. It was true that Peter was barely recognisable and he looked funny but strangely attractive too.

After a shower and a haircut Peter was his old self before Amy returned from school. Peter took great care that she would do well in school. She was such a playful and active girl that he was afraid that she might fail despite her intelligence.

At the start of school it took some convincing to make her do her homework instead of playing, but the company and support of her father helped. She was clever and when she learned to concentrate on it, she soon realised that it was taking her a lot less time.

Soon she brought home her first A+ . Doing well in school, she didn't mind going there even if she was indeed too active to ever really enjoy sitting still for such a long time.

She stormed into the bedroom where her father was sleeping and waved the report card. Peter slowly woke up from his daughter shouting, wondering why he always happened to be in bed when his daughters were bringing home an A+.

Melanie was still having friends over often and they were the first new people that Amy got to know. At times they brought someone else with them and Melanie was still meeting new sims too. Watching them, she hoped that she and Amy would always be as close as Beau and his brother Barry. From all guys in the neighbourhood she still liked Beau best. Everytime she saw him, she wished he wasn't going out with Louise. They weren't going steady, but it was only a matter of time before they would. She didn't have to see them together to understand that they were in love.

Fortunately there were others around and some of them were almost as nice as Beau. Patrick had become another really good friend and he was not in love with anyone else, apart from Alice maybe, who was already going out with Alistair. They also shared a lot of views and a similar situation with the exception that Patrick had even more younger brothers and sisters.
Patrick had thought for a long time that Melanie was really special and good looking too.

They were both longing for love and the experience of the first kiss and it was only a matter of time before their friendship became more romantic.

Melanie had by then decided that she and Cary should remain only friends. To go out with Patrick was a lot more imaginable and the days that followed their first romantic hug, which had led to a heavy crush, she kept wishing he would ring her up and invite her on a date.
It is very possible that one reason why he didn't was that he was wishing the same. They were both not sure yet if their feelings were returned and afaid to take the initiative.

After a short break, Peter had rebought the business and was already making good money again. He was awarded a prize for excellence, slowly acquiring a name as a talented developer and businessman.
All her thinking had brought Jennifer to the conclusion that choosing to marry Peter had brought the fulfilment of many dreams that had caused her to live in the city once. Bluewater was a village but close to Pleasantview with its large downtown area and through the work in the shop she was meeting new people every day. The money they earned guaranteed a comfortable life.
One day she looked at Peter thinking that her husband was actually dressing quite smart and that with the confidence he had gained there was nothing to show the village boy in him and then looking down on herself, she realised that she could not say the same for herself. After that Jennifer paid more attention to her appearance.

Their marriage was going so well that they had been trying for a child a few times but without success. Peter would have liked another baby. At least it meant that they could run the shop together. Jennifer liked being out of the house and he liked it much more to have his wife around than an employee.

Even if Peter's wish for a child did not become true it did not impair the good feeling between him and Jennifer. One night they were interviewed for the Sim Times because Peter had been nominated as business man of the month and the reporter later remarked how happy they looked on the picture they had used for the article.

The house they lived in had been improved over time, but they had not spend that much money on it, trying to save the capital that might be necessary to enlarge the business.
As much as he wanted more children Peter had to admit that there really wasn't enough space unless they were going to pile them on top of each other and it helped him decide to sell the business again. Another reason was that the amount of customers which success was bringing, was too much to deal with alone and and still hard to cope with when Jennifer was with him.

The Delarosa Family pt. 2

Florence had needed to learn a few skills to get by on her own, but it made a nice change to have somebody else doing repairs for her. Ryan was not the active type, but he was very tidy and didn't like to leave dirty or broken things.

Florence had another reason to be glad that Ryan moved in a short time after. They both woke up from the alarm going off in the garden and a few minutes later the police arrived. A fight ensued between the police man and the burglar who had been the cause of the alarm. For a moment it looked like the police man had gained control, but just when he was about to put handcuffs on the burglar he ran off and disappeared into the night. At least the police arrived so quickly that he didn't have enough time to steal anything.

Before she went back to bed Florence went into the bathroom where Ryan was standing and hugged him. 'I would have been so afraid tonight if I had been all alone in the house.'
'Now, now, there wasn't any danger and the police was there as well. I am sure you would have handled it perfectly without me, sweetheart.'

Their life was going very smoothly and close to being perfect, had they not both kept a secret from each other. Ever since their first date Ryan would have liked to woohoo with Florence, but he didn't know how to bring up the subject. Sleeping in the same bed didn't make it easier. He regretted he had ever come up with that stupid housemate idea. It had helped them to become familiar with each other, but some aspects of their relationship, important ones in his opinion, had become excluded or remained open.  

Florence was in a similar dilemma. She still remembered what Ryan had said upon his move in and was afraid that she might scare him away if she told him about her secret wish. She loved Ryan, very much, and although they had only been living with each other for a short time she was sure that he was the ideal partner for her. Very quickly she had begun to wonder if he was as serious as she was and would have been the happiest sim woman in the world if he had proposed engagement.

Ryan sometimes brought friends back from work and one day he returned in the company of his brother. There was a reason to celebrate because he had been promoted. Florence still found it hard to talk to Reed but he was much friendlier now. He passed most of the evening talking and playing chess with his brother though and Florence didn't really get to know him better.

Before Reed left he congratulated Ryan on his promotion again, which had been the reason for his visit. 'How serious is your relationship with Florence?', he then asked.
'If only I could tell you. I think about it the whole time. I have to make a decision soon.'
'What! You mean you are going to split up with her?' Reed was surprised.
'Split up with Florence?! Goodness no, never. I am thinking if I should propose to her. You know I never cared too much about marriage, but I am not sure if she thinks the same.'
'Well, I think it comes a bit early', Reed replied. He still wasn't sure if he liked his brother and Florence being together. To some extent he regretted that he had rejected Florence not so long ago. But then did he only imagine that she had tried to chat him up that night? Was she really in love with his brother or only looking for somebody?

He didn't need to worry. Florence might have been looking around, but only until she found Ryan and she loved him alone.
When she came back home from the shop she was often very tired and even if she felt better after sleeping for some hours the rest of the evening passed quickly. Florence had an inquisitive mind and she liked to learn things whether she needed them in life or not.
Ryan's job was less exhausting, but he only returned at seven and apart from being fond of knowledge as well he had to train certain skills that were required in his profession. So if there weren't any friends around their evenings usually went quietly with both of them reading or painting.
Their life was not completely void of romance though. There would always be some moments when the daily routine was interrupted by a hug or a kiss. But as if there was an unspoken rule between them not even the most passionate kisses did lead to the woohoo that Ryan was hoping for.

It was not that Florence rejected him, it just didn't happen. As soon as they went to bed they became strangely embarrassed and quickly cuddled up to go to sleep. Maybe their problem was that after living and sharing the bed together as 'mates' they were now looking for a special moment for that very special first time. Whatever it was Ryan felt it was time to do something about it, because after some weeks he had become quite edgy. He did not sleep very well with Florence being so close and yet out of reach (even if this was partly his own making too). Before and since his promotion he had been working on a single project and the weeks before he finally had a day off seemed to drag on forever. But finally he had a holiday and he had already planned in advance to take Florence on a date. She was not only glad to allow herself a day off she also had her hopes on a date with Ryan. Even if her needs weren't as urgent as those of Ryan, it would have been unnatural not to think about woohoo with him.

In the afternoon they went to the Hub which was generally considered to be a good place for a date. They both felt very relaxed and enjoyed the food and being with each other. It was only now they noticed how often their daily tasks kept them from having time together.

Ryan thought how much he liked talking to Florence. She liked to laugh and was entertaining too. And still he could switch to a serious topic and it was just as interesting. He did not think that Florence was unattractive and he desired her, but it was her mind and her whole personality he loved. He didn't regret his decision from a few days earlier.
From time to time he put his hand in his pocket and played with the ring he bought. He did not plan to propose to Florence while they were out on the date, but if he felt that she really wanted it he was ready to take that step and he wanted to be prepared.

The date was going really well and when a soft wind came up in the evening they got into a very romantic mood.

They sat in the restaurant of the Hub for hours before they finally got up and went to the bar downstairs.
Ryan felt strongly that this was the special day he had been waiting for. His love for Florence was so strong that it was almost too much to bear and the way she looked at him with large dark eyes it was obvious that Florence felt the same.

They did not talk much anymore. While they danced they got into a trance like state and looking into each others eyes was enough to tell all.

They did not even realise how quickly the time passed and when they arrived back home they were surprised that it was daylight.
Since they had been at the Hub much of the afternoon and the whole night it had been a long date. But already in the taxi they both had independently begun to wonder what would come afterwards. Neither of them felt tired and they were almost afraid to end it and destroy that special atmosphere. If Florence thought about woohoo before it had been from a more theoretical perspective, but now her desire to be with Ryan was a strong as his. It was the perfect moment and they did not want to miss it.

They sat on the bed, but didn't undress. 'Are you tired Honey?', Ryan asked.
'No, not at all', Florence replied. 'I don't even feel dirty or stiff. I can't believe that we spent almost an entire day at that place.'
'Mmh mmh'. It was already the longest conversation they had had for some hours and both were not in the mood to talk. Ryan put his arm around her and started to run his fingers over her shoulders.

A moment later they were kissing passionately again as they had done throughout the night.

They both felt extremly happy and their soft laughters were an expression of their joy with a bit of nervousness mixing in. Since it is not unusual among sims to have their first woohoo late in life it was not only their first time being with each other but their first time ever, which may have been guessed by now.

'If you don't want me to do this tell me', Ryan said as he began to undress her.
'I would be very angry with you if you stopped', she replied.

After their lovemaking they suddenly started to feel the tiredness and they slept until the afternoon. They were very hungry too and after getting up Florence went into the kitchen to cook. Ryan slowly dragged himself out of bed and followed her. He wondered if the stupid grin would ever disappear from his face again. He had never felt so good in his life before.

Florence wasn't concentrating on the food either. While she started to cut the vegetables most of her thoughts began with: That was really... before they dissolved into sweet memories of the hours passed.

By the time they had finished their meal it was already evening, but even before Florence did not think for a second about opening her shop that day.
When she came back into the living room after a shower Ryan looked at her with faked surprise.
'So what did you think putting on your clothes? Do you seriously believe you will keep them on for long?'

It is impossible to tell who pulled who into the bedroom but it didn't take long before they were back on the bed.

When she leaned back, Ryan started to laugh. 'I think I remember us being in exactly the same position some hours ago.'
Florence smiled. 'If you want we can repeat it a few more times.'

Including their date they spent almost 36 hours in total bliss but eventually they were simply too exhausted to carry on.

It was not to remain the last time they made love. After they had overcome the hurdle of the 'first time' the period as housemates ended. Until she tried it Florence could not have known that she found sex so fulfilling and even if she still wished to get engaged to Ryan it was not her main concern anymore.

Ryan only worked four days a week in his regular job and on the others helped Florence. The business was becoming more successful and it was hard to manage on her own. She would have liked to hire an employee now, but she could not find anyone who was suitable.
Apart from wanting to support her, Ryan simply liked to be near Florence and did not mind spending his free time in the shop.

With his help the business really took off and she did not only sell more than ever before but also received the news after a particularly successful day that her business had gained a higher ranking.

The advice she received from the Strattons was very helpful and Florence had gained expertise in the 'Sell and BuyBack'-strategy by now. When the time had come either to sell or to expand she closed the shop, sold it at good profit and bought it back soon after some renovations were made.

The love between Florence and Ryan grew day by day. Ryan loved her sweet cheerful nature, but he also loved her soft body with its round shapes.

The reservations of his brother towards Florence did indeed stem partly from jealousy, because secretly Reed thought that Florence was a very nice woman too.

While Florence was still unaware of the thoughts she evoked in some men, Ryan was much more conscious of it. He was seeing the look on Christopher's face when he talked to her and he didn't like it at all.

The shop had been redesigned to be more spacious. A snapdragon bouquet was giving off a sweet scent.

On his work days Ryan did not start before 2 o'clock and sometimes they felt the need to make love to each other one more time before they separated.

Ryan could not think of a better way to start the day and developed such an energetic and positive attitude at work that he was promoted again. Although this meant that he had to start earlier in the morning, he had to work even less hours while earning more money.

When they made love that morning it had been very special to Florence. She had felt how beyond the passion they were close to each other much more than could be expected after such a relatively short time of living together.
That evening she didn't go home after she closed the shop but went downtown and bought a wedding dress. Florence was not a woman who thought it necessary to marry. If the idea frightened Ryan she did not want it. She had not thought much about marriage herself before she met him. But living with him had changed her mind and if he was not opposed to it she was ready to make that commitment.

Only a few days later though, Ryan asked her out on a date and Florence knew that it would become a memorable day when she began to see flowers swirling through the air. It was probably the scent of the snapdragons that affected her senses, but she felt very positive and happy.

It was a beautiful day and they went to the castle in Pleasantview, rather being out in the green than in some club or restaurant downtown.

It was quiet where they sat by the little lake. Most of the other people who visited the place went up to the café on the hill and they were completely undisturbed. Florence was sitting on Ryan's lap and they talked and let the sun shine on them.

Eventually Florence got up to get herself a coffee, but she was stopped by Ryan. 'Wait', he said, 'I have asked you out for a reason today. There is something I want to talk about.'
He then told her how he had fallen in love with her on that very day he came to the house about the room and that she was the only woman who had ever made him think about marriage, before he fell on his knees and held out the ring which he had carried for a while now.

If it was a beautiful day before, it became even more splendid and radiant to Florence now. That she did not have to bring up the subject of engagement and marriage to receive his proposal was further proof to her that they were perfect for each other.

There wasn't a restaurant at the castle, but a kitchen where you could grill and after a while they walked up the hill to have some food. Despite his indifference to the question of marriage Ryan was as happy as Florence. Nothing, not even his initial caution, had managed to override the feeling of belonging, which had been there from the start. It was as simple as sitting there together and not being able to think of anyone he would rather be with.

She understood him, his ideas, his sense of humour, better than anyone else and he happily toasted her over their luxurious hot dog lunch.

They stayed at the castle the whole day, still talking when the sun had gone down a long time ago.

Their relationship had been so good before that the engagement did not make much difference. But because of this they could also not see why they should wait long with their marriage. It was Ryan who suggested one morning (feeling particularly soft and tender towards Florence after just making love to her) that they should have the wedding on the following weekend, when he had some time off before he had to work on a new project.

A wedding suit for Ryan was bought and a few days later the party was organised and the guests invited.

They did not invite many people (Ryan was a bit disappointed with his brother who said he had to work and could not attend the wedding), but it was not necessary to make the party a success. Apart from the Strattons, Florence had invited Jerome and Cassandra Goth. They had become friends only recently, but Florence liked them a lot and Jerome was a friend of Ryan too.

Cassandra had apologised upon her arrival for wearing her wedding gown, which was the only formal she could find after moving into the new house, and assured her that this was not meant to be insulting. To Ryan there was no doubt who was the more beautiful bride anyway.

Florence wasn't sure what was up with Cassandra that day, because it did appear as if she was trying to spoil her wedding although she was friendly and sociable. At one point Florence had spotted her sneaking into the front garden, where she picked up the garden gnome and hid it under her wedding dress.

But apart from that it was a great wedding party and afterwards Ryan and Florence went for a romantic ride.

When they returned Ryan expected Florence to follow him into the bedroom, but she told him that there was something she had to do and disappeared for more than an hour.
'Where have you been?!', he asked her when he came into the kitchen after her return.
'I stole my garden gnome back!', Florence replied triumphantly.

When Florence was finally with him in their bedroom, Ryan gently caressed her and said: 'I think you are the only woman in the world, who would think of reclaiming her garden gnome on her wedding night, but that's just what I love you for.'

'Apart from being a very attractive and desirable woman', he added as he began kissing her.

The Stratton Family pt. 3

Outside the new house, which was situated around the corner from their old home, was of a similar style, but inside it looked very different apart from a few pieces of furniture they kept.
Their shops had always been known for the stylish high quality furniture they sold and both had very good taste. They had tried to make the best out of the old house, but never liked it much. In their new home, which was to be their permanent one, they wanted to live in style.

Jennifer felt that making love to Peter was a good way to inaugurate the bedroom.

After they moved into the new house they re-opened the shop. They started small with only few pieces of furniture. They knew that in the beginning they always got fewer customers before the word spread that the shop was owned by the same sims as before.
They had also spend a lot of money on their house and could not afford to keep a large stock.
It was one of those quiet evenings, soon after their re-opening when Jennifer met Maurice Layton. Jennifer found Maurice very attractive, in fact he was the most attractive man she ever met, but it was out of the question to start flirting with him. She loved her husband and was loyal to him and Maurice was married to Brandi (formerly Broke), who he also loved very much. They became very good friends though.

They liked to have visitors in their new house, which was a lot more comfortable even when they were hanging out on the floor.

Although Jennifer was neither very outgoing nor very playful she had always cared about being popular. One thing she liked best about her life with Peter and their shop was that they were meeting a lot of people through it. Of course she could not talk to them much, but still it was a way to find friends. If she liked someone Jennifer always tried to keep in contact, a character trait that her daughter Amy had inherited. Florence and Cassandra were among her closest friends.

Cassandra had come over after work and was later joined by her husband Jerome. When they were all sitting at the dinner table the whole family listened intently to Florence. She was always lively and could be very funny. It was hard not to like Florence.

For Melanie it had always been easy to make friends and she often had visitors too. Since they had moved to Bluewater when she was a teen, she - unlike many others who had grown up there - had more townie friends who did not live in the close neighbourhood of adjoining Pleasantview. One day when David came over Wendy Kim was there too. Wendy really seemed to like David, but she had to leave soon and they did not get to talk much.
Melanie was glad that she introduced them though. They were at an age when those who did not have a boy- or a girlfriend yet, became increasingly interested to change that.

One morning, shortly after they had moved, Jennifer was feeling very ill.
'Oh, my stomach is in a mess, I thought I had to throw up when I got up. I don't want to raise hopes, but I think I'm pregnant again.'
'Really?! You think so? Oh Jennifer, this would be so wonderful!'
Even if it did not happen on the first night in their new home (as both had hoped), they had tried for a baby since then, and it looked like their wish was coming true.
'Excuse me dear, but I think I DO have to throw up now', Jennifer suddenly added and ran into the bathroom.

Jennifer had the experience to recognise the symptoms and she was more or less convinced that she was expecting a baby.

And she was right. Once again many of the women from the neighbourhood were pregnant at the same time. Both her friends, Cassandra and Florence, were expecting a baby and so was Brandi, who was having her third child with Maurice.

Melanie had become friends with Brandi's other son Barry after Beau had brought him along one day. She did not intentionally play matchmaker but she always enjoyed it when friends of her seemed to like each other. When they were still living in the old house, he had met Ashlee there and Melanie felt that they were getting on really well.
It was not surprising because Barry was a really nice guy, charming and good looking too.

In her own life she had not been so lucky with regard to love recently. She and Patrick had seen each other a lot and she was quite in love with him (and he with her) and then suddenly it stopped. He had not even seen her in the new house yet, although they still talked on the phone.
Patrick was too nice a boy though to keep her in doubt for long. Eventually he admitted that he had been spending a lot of time with a girl named Jasmyn and that he had fancied her the moment they met. It was not easy for Melanie to accept this but she liked Patrick a lot and she liked Jasmyn too when she met her one day at Patrick's house.

At the time of her mother's pregnancy Melanie fell in love with Barry. When it looked like she and Patrick were getting together she never thought about him other than a friend. And while she had observed him with other girls it had never occured to her that he might be interested in her.
When he flirted with her one evening at his house, she began to see him in a completely different way.

They were seeing each other a lot after that. They had fancied others before but being together just felt right. They had different aspirations, but since family mattered to Barry almost as much as popularity and Melanie was popular and friends were almost as important as family for her, they made a really good match.

Melanie huddled up in Barry's arms and put her head on his shoulder. 'Would you go steady with me?', she whispered. She was afraid he did not hear her because she would not be able to ask again. She really wished he would become her steady boyfriend, but she was not sure if he even thought about it.

But Barry answered that he was already seeing her as his steady girlfriend and that he loved her.

What Barry had said was not completely true, because he had actually not really been thinking about going steady with anyone. He had not lied regarding his love for Melanie though, and it made him very happy that she wanted to be with him.

They were hanging out outside (flirting and fondling too of course) until Jennifer was calling them in for dinner. Jennifer was in the last third of her pregnancy and of course the baby continued to be a topic. It was one that Barry could relate to because of his own experience of having three younger siblings born shortly after one another.
Even the sims that had moved into the neighbourhood at a later date respected the Broke/Layton family. Together with the Goths, Brandi was seen as the heart of Pleasantview. Peter had seen Barry together with his daughter but had not spoken much to him until then. He seemed a nice boy.

They spent a long time chatting over the dinner table but before Barry had to leave they still had a few moments alone.
'I love looking into your eyes. You have the softest eyes I have ever seen.' Barry would have liked to kiss Melanie. To him it was not such a big thing to have the first kiss, but he knew how important it was to her. He wanted her to have a proper date, even if it meant that he would have to wait a bit longer. At the moment the household was focused on Jennifer and the family usually stayed at home in the evening.

The pregnancy with Amy had come as a surprise for Melanie but in the meantime the relationship of her parents had changed a lot.
'I find it so fascinating, that I can already feel the baby, before it is even born. I think it wants to come out soon, Mom.'
'No, not yet, Melanie. It still has to wait for a bit.'

Apart from looking forward to the child, Peter also found his wife very desirable when she was pregnant.

He did not know whether this attraction for her very rounded figure was somewhat unusual (actually it was not that uncommon among sim men, but this was beyond Peter's knowledge because they did not talk about it much), but he liked to have a peek at her when she was having a shower.

It was just after lunchtime on a saturday, when Jennifer went into labour.

Amy was at a friends house at the time and Peter called the family to ask if they would look after her for a while. When she returned in the late afternoon she could say hello to the new baby.

It was a boy and they called him Jean-Paul.

Amy was such a nice and playful girl that it was easy to her to win friends. It was not unusual that she was invited back to their house after school and she often brought them back home with her too.

While Peter and Melanie did not have many friends over during the last stage of Jennifer's pregnancy this rule was not extended to her, because they wanted her to mix with the other children from the neighbourhood.

She could make her family laugh too.

Francis Layton became one of her closest friends. She was closer in age to his older sister Joy, but then there was not a big age difference between the siblings.

Melanie approved of any ties with the Layton family because of her relationship with Barry. She would not have been a family sim if she had not considered what might become of them in the future when they were adults. He picked her up a couple of times in the evening for a ride to the park, but after Jean Paul was born Jennifer encouraged her daughter to have some fun and go out and after she told Barry, he thought it was the right time to invite her on a date.
He was in a similar situation, since Brandi had given birth to her son Philip only a short time ago.

Barry didn't waste any time. When they couldn't get a seat in the restaurant of the Hub, he turned round to Melanie and caressed her face. 'You look really nice tonight. Melanie, can I kiss you?' Melanie only nodded. It felt like ages since she began to dream about having her first kiss.
Barry put his arms round her and pulled her close. Melanie closed her eyes when her lips met Barry's.

Afterwards they went downstairs into the club. The kiss had swept her off her feet and Melanie was smiling at Barry, who looked at her expectantly.
'So, that's what it's like?', he said.
'Yes, I guess, that's it', she replied, still smiling.

'It felt really good. I would like to try if it can still get better', he whispered as he moved towards her once more.

After making out Barry gave off a small sighing laughter. The intense feelings that were connected with the kissing were too much for those two teenagers to put them into words. They both wondered why it had taken them so long to discover how wonderful the other was.

When Barry found his speech again, he told Melanie how much he liked her and how glad he was that she and her family had moved into the neighbourhood.

The rest of the date they spent dancing with each other. Until then they had thought that slow dancing was more for older people, but now they discovered that you could enjoy it as a teenager too. Melanie did not want Barry to take his hands off her and Barry thought about Dustin and that he could understand why he and Charlene liked dancing with each other so much now.

Their first date was absolutely fantastic and on that night Melanie began to think about her and Barry staying together for life.
They were not yet ready to go to college and it was hard to predict what would happen then, but they were slowly coming to an age, where these questions started to interest them.

The Delarosa Family pt. 3

They stayed in bed for most of the next day after their wedding, enjoying a honeymoon in their own home.

It was late afternoon when they got up but even then they found it hard to separate.

'Oh Ryan, I am so incredibly happy with you. To think that we are married. I remember, when you came over to see the house, I wondered how I managed to overlook you the first time we met.'
'Yes, and I was worried that you might not feel the same way, because I fancied you then.'

Suddenly Florence said: 'Quick, let me down!' and when he did she bent over in a sudden convulsion.

They had not actively tried for a baby, but as the sickness continued Florence was more or less convinced that she had become pregnant on their wedding night or the next day since it was not unusual for a sim woman to feel the first symptoms very soon afterwards.
She told Ryan about it when they were sitting at the table for dinner a few days later.

While Florence had wished to find a partner for life, she had never really thought about having a child, until she met Amy, the second daughter of the Strattons. She was so cute and it was so easy to be and become friends with her.

You could see that Jennifer was very proud of her and when Florence looked at Amy on her way out she could understand why.
Afterwards she had begun to wonder what it would be like to have a child with Ryan and although it did not become her foremost wish, she quite liked the idea.

Ryan's reaction when she told him was similar. To see that Florence was happy about her pregnancy was good enough for him. But when her belly began to grow so did his interest in the baby, and he started to look forward to it.

Florence closed the shop during her pregnancy but apart from that their life continued more or less like before. Although Ryan would have preferred a career in the police force, he was working hard towards a promotion in his field. He considered his slacker jobs to be too superficial, but the work hours were fantastic and he could be with Florence more often when they had the baby.

He was convinced that Florence would make a wonderful mother and she was thinking the same about him being a father.

During the last stage of her pregnancy Ryan tried to be by her side at all times. He wanted to be there when she was giving birth but it also gave him a feeling of real peace and harmony to hear Florence breathing softly beside him, sometimes falling into a quiet snore.

Then the big moment came.

Florence gave birth to a little girl, which they named Violet.

They learned that the deep fondness for their baby overwhelmed them in a way they had not expected.
Ryan could not wait to hold his daughter.

Florence could have cuddled Violet for hours, but she did not want to let Ryan wait any longer and passed the baby on to him.

Ryan did not have Violet to himself though, because Florence immediately turned to her again, cooing and playing with her.

When the baby had fallen asleep Florence hugged Ryan and said: 'Isn't she perfect? Did you notice that she has your eyes? I think she will look very much like you, when she grows up.'

While Florence was pregnant Ryan was promoted twice and now only had to work three days a week and only for a short time, making paid appearances at parties. It meant that without taking time off he and Florence could take an equal share in the care for Violet. This and the sweet aroma of the snapdragon bouquets, which had already helped Florence a lot during her pregnancy enabled them to keep up with their friends more than other parents.

It did not mean that they had friends over often during that time. They were happiest when they were on their own with the baby.

Violet got used to have both parents around and she loved them equally.

Florence felt that the period of Violet being a baby passed very fast. Only when it was time for her age transition she suddenly decided to be delayed. They waited the whole evening for it to happen, but Violet refused to grow up. Eventually Florence gave her a bath and then put her into her crib for the night.

When she woke up the next morning she was ready and when Ryan lifted her up, she swirled off into the air immediately.

When she woke up the next morning she was ready and when Ryan lifted her up, she swirled off into the air immediately.

Both parents enjoyed teaching her and it was the only reason why they regretted that she was picking up things so quick.

Florence found it hard to take her eyes off Ryan and Violet sometimes. He had picked her up and she immediately flung her arms round his neck and snuggled up to him.

But a moment later she had a happy smile for her mother too. Florence could not describe her life other than perfect.

They spent a lot of time in the former showroom, which had been rarely used before and was barely furnished. It therefore offered a lot of space and was a good environment to teach Violet her first steps. Ryan insisted that he would show her since she had already learned to talk from Florence. But Florence liked to be there with them and watch Violet's progress, while she was talking to her friends on the phone or prepare some bouquets for the time when she would open the shop again.

So she was there when Violet learned to walk and after reporting it to her friend (it must have been Jennifer), she ended the phone call to congratulate her husband and her daughter.

Even if she had known an alternative, Violet could not have imagined a happier life and it helped her development almost as much as her intelligence.

Since they were both knowledge sims (and as such very keen on teaching children) Florence could not help to smirk over the fact that she was the one who potty trained Violet instead of Ryan.

She carried Violet into the bedroom to put her in the crib. 'There is something we have to tell your Dad tomorrow', she said with a smile.

Violet's speech was too limited to explain to her father but she could show what she had learned the next morning and she proudly smiled at him when she sat down on the potty all by herself. Afterwards he picked her up and dressed her.
Although Violet loved her mother just as much and preferred her for playing, when it came to cuddling and hugging Ryan was the one.

Violet slept very little and sometimes her parents just had to leave her on her own at night. Before she grew into a school child she could not only talk really well but had also achieved some remarkable creative skills.

And then it was time for another age transition and the beginning of school age.

Violet had already shown as a toddler that she would be beautiful, but when she turned into a child it became even more obvious.

The Stratton Family pt. 4

The birth of their younger siblings reminded Melanie and her friends of the passing of time and that their age transition and the move to college would come sooner than they thought.
Her parents trusted Melanie and relied on her to behave like an adult. She did not have to support them in their care for Jean Paul (her father had once again closed the shop to be with his son), but they expected her to be there in case they could not find enough time for Amy.
Although Jean Paul was spending equal time with both his parents, he - like his sister before him - was more fascinated by his mother.

The preference - like always - was small, although Jean Paul developed a close relationship to his mother very early for a baby.

Jennifer adored her son, but she was still glad that Peter was there to help her.

Peter offered his help willingly. Every child was like a miracle to him and to hold and cuddle his son was much more important to him than the success of his business.

The preference for his mother was indeed only small and Jean Paul became very fond of his father too.

Peter found it hard to believe that Jean Paul was already growing into a toddler. Their life at home went on quietly and without any extraordinary events and this way one day after the other had passed. He threw a last loving look at his little baby son before he let him off into a new phase of his life.

It brought new tasks for little Jean Paul and they were beginning with Jennifer teaching him to walk.

But she did not get much chance to carry on with the instruction of her son, because Peter was too keen to take over. Jean Paul was learning fast because they had agreed to feed him smart milk. Peter knew that it was not all his own success when his son started to walk, but he was still very proud.

Even if Peter was training the toddler, Jennifer was always there if Jean Paul needed to be held and cuddled, and there was still nothing better to him than being picked up by his mother.

But his skills he learned mainly from Peter, who potty-trained him as well.

Although he got his share of hugging and cuddling from his father too, of course.

Barry was going to a different school and although Bluewater was very close, he still had to travel a little bit further than when he was visiting his friends in Pleasantview, but he and Melanie were trying to see each other as often as they could.

Barry considered himself very lucky to go out with her.

Jennifer used the opportunity of Barry's visit and the fact that he kept Peter occupied with a conversation to teach Jean Paul to talk. They were talking to their son a lot and she knew that he was close to learning it.

and she was right. In the beginning he was still struggling a bit to gain control of his mouth and tongue, but then he was able to call out for his mother and ask to be picked up.
'Look at him', she exclaimed to her husband as well as Amy and the two teens sitting at the table. 'My little boy knows how to speak.'

Then she went into the bathroom and Barry got up and picked up Jean Paul. He tickled him and told him what a clever boy he was and you could see that Jean Paul liked the attention from him.

Barry was by now very experienced in the handling of small children and playing with Jean Paul was very natural for him. Peter watched him approvingly. There was hardly a better way to win his heart than becoming friends with his young son.

Later when he was bathing Jean Paul, he talked to Melanie, who was also in the bathroom cleaning the shower.
'I think you made a good choice, Melanie', he said. 'I always knew what a clever and responsible girl you were and that I would not have to worry about you. But I guess as a father you always fear that your children meet someone who is not good for them, and I am relieved that you picked such a nice and well-behaved boy to go out with.'
'Oh Dad, and as a father you don't know that you should never say that?', Melanie jokingly replied. 'You're lucky I like Barry so much, or I would probably have to break up with him and run away with someone else now. I am a teenager, I have to rebel against my parents and not go out with someone they call well-behaved.'
Peter laughed. 'I'm sorry Melanie, I promise I never do it again.'

In earnest Melanie did not feel the slightest need to rebel against her family. She was a very reliable girl and she had always taken care that Amy would not miss out on anything while her parents were concentrating on the baby, although Amy did not need much care apart from getting cheered up after a long day in school. She was very talented and liked to paint and often she was bringing friends home and played with them in the afternoon. One day she arrived in the company of Violet Delarosa, the daughter of Florence who had very recently grown into a school child.

Amy was sad that there was such a big age difference between them, because she got on better with Violet than any other child she had met before.

They became friends immediately. The adults watched them playing together and Jennifer remarked to Peter what a beautiful daughter Florence had. Florence had become pregnant shortly before Jennifer and Violet was not much older than Jean Paul, who would grow up soon too.

When she visited Francis, Amy had finally met and become friends with Joy Broke, who was in the same age group as her, but although the two girls were very similar and got on really well, Violet became closer to Amy.

Violet's visit made Peter think about Jean Paul's age transition. His baby and toddler phase had passed much too quickly for his liking and it saddened him. His wife was still as young and beautiful as she had always been, but while he would have liked to have more children still, he did not know if Jennifer was thinking the same.
The romance in their marriage had increased since they moved to Bluewater and he loved his wife a lot, but it still had gone through a few ups and downs, at least as far as Peter was concerned.

Shortly before Jennifer informed him on her pregnancy he had become slightly depressed and had started to ask himself if, despite all his efforts to make this marriage work, he would always keep a doubt if he had made the right choice with her and if he was only pretending that their life was perfect.

These doubts were mainly due to his general mood, because he was usually happy in his marriage. But while Jennifer's attraction to her husband had grown steadily and - apart from maybe someone like Maurice Layton - she could not think of anyone she could possibly like better than him, Peter had met a few women who he fancied more than his wife, and thinking that embarrassed him.
When she was pregnant though, and in the time afterwards when the children were small, those thoughts disappeared and his love for Jennifer increased. He wondered if this would change again when Jean Paul grew up.

Jean Paul woke up early on the day of his age transition and Jennifer picked him up and carried him into to the tub to bathe him.

Afterwards she dressed him and then handed him over to Melanie.

She had spent less time with her little brother than her parents, but she still played with him often and Jean Paul had become very fond of his oldest sister as well.

Melanie played with him for a while and then around lunchtime the whole family assembled in the dining room to celebrate his birthday.

The experience of growing up made Jean Paul very hungry and the first thing he did was to grab a big piece of his birthday cake.

He looked at his mother who was glancing at him proudly. He would look very much like his father one day and they were similar in character as well.

After he started school Jean Paul soon met some of the other children and was invited to their houses. Peter made sure that he did not forget about his homework though and taught him to study so they would be a bit easier for him.

'It's much more fun when you help me with the homework', Jean Paul said. He did not have any problems with the questions and knew that he could do them on his own, but he would have liked it if his father gave him company.
'I will, when I have time for it', Peter promised, 'but you have your tasks and I have mine.'

Around this time a change took place in Pleasantview and the couples in town soon noticed the effects of it.
'That was really wonderful, Peter, it was so.. spontaneous. Did you not think it was different somehow?'
Peter agreed with his wife. He had looked at Jennifer and when he noticed that she wanted to make love (too), they had simply headed to the bedroom and did. It seemed the most natural thing in the world.
He still would have liked to have more children, but in this regard he would not act without asking Jennifer first. In moments like this he was very close to it, but maybe he feared that she would be against it and so he just smiled at her fondly.
They could not know at that time how their family would be affected by the recent developments.

Barry was a regular guest at their house and he and Melanie were getting closer all the time.

Still, her parents would have never suspected them to go as far they did shortly after. Melanie was suprised when Barry called her so late, but it did not stop her from visiting him. When she arrived he greeted her with a very passionate kiss. Already on the phone she had the impression that something was up with him. She could say the same about herself.
It was not that she was not used to kissing him but she felt a longing that was new to her. Lately there had been a lot of rumours going round in school. Of course the teens had observed that the adults acted differently these days and then someone had claimed that their rules had changed to.

Barry admitted to her that he was thinking about it all the time and that he would blush if he told her what came to his mind when his thoughts turned to her. Melanie wasn't sure if she should have been shocked but she wasn't. They may believed that but this type of thinking wasn't exclusive to the boys. Right now she was wondering what Barry looked like without his clothes and even more what it would feel like to have him close like that. When he saw her smiling, he smiled back.
'Shall we go in ..upstairs?'

It only occurred to Melanie afterwards that they were most likely the first teenagers who woohoo'd with each other and it was of no importance to her.
She could still feel his caresses and she thought that this simply could not be wrong. It had not felt wrong for a second to do it with Barry.

He did not say it, but for Melanie it was some kind of promise that they would be together after they grew up. It was not the only reason though why she was thinking about their woohoo the whole evening, especially when she looked at him.
He was so sweet. When he kissed her when they were dressed again, she was so much in love with him that it had made her shiver and she felt like she was close to fainting.

Since their first time had been a pleasant experience for both of them they did not leave at that and when Barry managed to get double beds for himself and Beau, they found a place were they were undisturbed. Melanie did not mind that her visits usually started in the garden house. They always kissed a lot and she liked that, as well as the woohoo with Barry, but it also altered their relationship. It didn't escape Melanie that other girls, some of them friends, fancied him. She fully trusted Barry though, he would not forget that he belonged to her.

While it was all bliss for Melanie, her father was going through a more difficult period. His attraction to other women had troubled him before but he had always trusted in the strength of his values. Despite his occasional doubts he had a good marriage with Jennifer and he felt committed to her and his family.

This was what he believed until he met Darleen Dreamer at the Leisure Centre one evening. Peter had been in the mood to go out for a few hours and decided to have a meal in town. Beyond the immediate attraction Marisa Bendett had something that led him to see her as the ideal woman but Darleen was coming a very close second. They talked but from there it went further very quickly.

The most disturbing fact was that he had enjoyed it so much. They had flirted and he could not say how the idea with the photobooth had come up and who was responsible, but what happened in there was one of the most exciting experiences he ever had.

Actually the woohoo had been so fantastic that it had a strong impact on his feelings, which was probably the worst of all. He didn't know if it was the same for Darleen, but for a moment he had gotten a glimpse of what it may be like if you were married and living with your dream partner. He felt absolutely great and only when he returned home he realised with horror that he had cheated on his wife without thinking.

It was no justification, but the Pleasantview females weren't making it easy for him (or they were making it too easy). There had always been some men (as well as some women) in the community who had a strong appeal to certain sims. Peter was aware that there were a number of women in Pleasantview which he found very attractive, but he had no idea how many of them fancied him in return. If they were the type who liked the kind and steady family man, Peter was usually right on top of their list.
One day when he was in the shop he approached this customer, Breanna. He showed her some item and suddenly she gave him a very long look and followed it with a kiss. Peter was taken by surprise. He was glad that Jennifer was inside and did not see this.

He laughed and then unentangled himself from her.
'Breanna, you're a nice girl, but I'm sure you don't want my wife to be angry with me.'
He did not let it show but just like his woohoo with Darleen he had enjoyed the kiss. Peter, who despite being a good business man had no knowledge of his own market value, also didn't know that he shared a similar fate with Ryan Delarosa. They weren't fancied by the same women, but when the Pleasantview sims experienced a greater liberty in their romantic behaviour, they both had serious difficulties to be faithful.

The Stratton Family pt. 5

Melanie on the other hand did not have a reason to doubt Barry's loyalty until recently. They had been out with some friends a while ago and he had shown himself worth of her trust although Eleonor had given him some very deep glances.

But then Melanie returned from a party at the Simmon's house one night looking very sad and depressed and when Barry turned up at their doorstep the next morning, her parents guessed that something must have happened between them.
They hoped that it was not serious because Melanie was very fond of Barry.

Melanie had a good time until they all went inside for Jean's age transition. Time had passed and Beau and Louise were very close to go to college. Barry's sister Joy had already grown into a teen and her little sister Amy was almost ready for this step. Melanie had reflected on that while she watched Jean turning into a toddler, when she spotted Lisa caressing Barry's cheek. Barry wasn't making any attempt to stop her, on the contrary, he looked at Lisa romantically and seemed quite happy that she was flirting with him.
It was cutting deep into Melanie's heart and she was by his side immediately, although she had no idea what to say. There were so many things going through her head. Her faith in Barry had burned to ashes. She looked at him. Did their love and the hours they had spent in his room not mean anything to him? Had she only misunderstood it as a promise?

The next minute she became very angry and for a split second she was happy about hitting him and return some of the pain that she was feeling inside because of him.

But when she saw his face she felt sorry. His smile had vanished and he looked like he really regretted this incident. Already when her hand reached out to slap him, Melanie began to worry that he would break up with her. He showed not signs of it though, he did not even seem to be angry with her for hitting him. Instead he apologised and told her how terrible he felt for hurting her.

When he came to her house the next morning he said that he had not slept the whole night, because he had thought about falling out with her all the time. Melanie was very willing to believe him. She did not want to break up either.

He had to be serious or he would not make such a big effort. The picture of him flirting with Lisa remained in her head and she was very hurt. At the same time she wanted the pain to disappear, so that she could love Barry like she had before.
Kissing still felt good and the idea to loose all this was making her sad.

Barry had asked if he could come round again in the afternoon and Melanie couldn't think about anything else while she was in school. They talked for a long time and he was so serious about their relationship that it convinced her that he was genuinely sorry.

Later they went inside and played darts. She watched him when it was his turn, thinking that she still liked him a lot. Maybe it would have never occurred to her that she could fancy him if he had not made the first step, but now she didn't want anyone else.

They had a good afternoon, but when they said goodbye, Melanie remembered the scene with Lisa again. Barry's reaction proved that she was showing it.
'I give you a call tomorrow, alright?'
'Yes'. She started to worry that their friendship would never be the same again. She hoped it wasn't true.

When she watched him leaving, his head hanging down, she felt all tender towards him and it mixed with the pain and left her in a soft melancholic mood for the rest of the evening.

But there were other moments when she got angry again. It was all his fault. If he had acted like he should they wouldn't be in this trouble now.

The next evening Florence and some other friends were visiting.
'I am so happy for you Florence. You are almost due aren't you?'
Florence confirmed that she expected to give birth soon.

Like always when she came over they had a great evening. Marlon was there too and he talked about the new house and that it was still mostly unfurnished.

A few days later Melanie got a phone call from Barry who asked if she would like to go out with him. Melanie agreed. In the last few days she had become less angry and had begun to miss him.
She did not want to let him off so easily, but when she saw how hard he tried to repair their relationship and how happy he looked when she smiled about something he said, it was hard to keep up this attitude. It had only been a flirt and he hadn't even initiated it (she did not have many friendly feelings for Lisa at the moment).

She did not want to be angry with him anymore. Barry was really worth giving it another try.

It was so nice to feel his arms around her again. He told her that in the last days he had understood that he only wanted to be with her. Melanie felt that it was more than smooth talking. It really seemed to matter to him that she believed him.

When they hugged she felt immense relief. She had believed that the pain would never go away, but it had almost vanished after less than a week.

Before they ended the date they went into the whirlpool for a short while. Inbetween the kisses Barry told her again that he did not want to loose her.

The making out in the whirlpool left her longing for Barry and she waited only a few days before she invited him over. It was the first time they woohoo'd in her parent's bedroom, but Melanie had no time to be shy.

She believed that her parents had not noticed that they had gone into their bedroom anyway. Her mother was in the living room and her Dad was cooking an elaborate meal and fully concentrated on this task.

'Et voilá!'
Peter was happy with himself. This would surely impress the family.

It did in fact taste very nice and with the exception of Amy and Jean Paul who hadn't finished their homework yet, they all sat at the table and enjoyed the food. Peter glanced at Jennifer who smiled back at him. They did not inquire about it, but it looked like Melanie and Barry were getting on again.

The next day it was Amy's turn to bring home a friend and Peter, who enjoyed cooking lately, made pancakes for them and James Simmon, who was also visiting again.
'Amy will grow up in only a few days', Jean Paul explained to Francis.

'I can't believe it, my little girl is ready to become a teenager', Peter said to Amy when they got up from the table. 'You have always made us very proud.'
Peter had no sad feelings about her growing up. He could see that she wanted it. He found it hard to think about the fact that Melanie would leave home in a short time though.

Later when they were in the living room playing, Francis asked her if they would still remain friends after she became a teen.
Amy liked Francis a lot and she promised that she would keep in contact with him.

Mary had joined her husband in the meantime and they all sat in the kitchen, discussing the topic of growing up as well.
'There is nothing you can do to stop them. Sometimes I wish there was', Peter said.
James could relate to that. Beau was going to leave for university any day now and neither him nor Mary had much doubt that Louise would want to follow him immediately.

Then Cary and Alistair came over to visit Melanie and the house was filling with sims. Melanie had fallen in love with Cary at one point but what happened in his bedroom that day had been weird and they had agreed to never talk about it.

Later in the evening David arrived as well and they were all hanging out together. It was the last time they were a group of teenagers. Beau went to university, Louise followed and Cary and David did the same not much later.

'Who are you? Oh goddess, you're cute!' Melanie was the first who found the kitten that Peter had brought to the house the night before.

Since the arrival of pets in the neighbourhood Amy had wished to have a kitten and Peter thought that it would make the perfect birthday present for her.
Angel had recently given birth to twins and Marlon explained that it was too much to look after the babies and the kittens at the same time. They were old enough to be given away anyway.
Peter could hear the regret in his voice though and he had to promise several times that they would take good care of Catalina.

They were all cute but he had immediately set his eyes on one in particular.

'So what do you say about your father's present?', Jennifer asked. Amy could not say anything. It was great that they had a kitten but even better that it was hers.

She immediately started playing with Catalina and had to be reminded several times to get ready for school.

Joy Broke came over soon after she and Jean Paul returned home in the afternoon and they were talking to each other in the hall.

Amy and Joy had become very good friends (although Violet was still her best friend) and she was one reason why Amy wanted to grow up.

Barry had arrived with Joy and Melanie had sneaked into her parent's bedroom with him while their sisters were talking. Although it had those effects Melanie did not only want to please Barry or strengthen the bond between them.

She liked the woohoo as much as he did. She would have never believed it possible, but she felt that their relationship had actually become better after they had fallen out.

She loved him so much.

They spent most of the day together and flirting with each other.

Amy was very excited about her age transition which would take place any moment now.

Her friend Rose had arrived and they could begin with the celebration.
'I see you in a moment', Joy remarked as she walked past Amy. Amy was sure that they would have a lot of fun together. She couldn't wait to go to town with her friend.

She was very eager to grow up now and when everybody had assembled in the living room, she jumped on her stool (which she wouldn't need anymore in a moment) and blew out the candles.

'That's so cool!', Amy thought, checking her new body.

This age transition was even more exciting than the previous one (the first she couldn't remember) and she looked forward to this stage in her life very much.

She talked to Rose about the experience and asked her if she had felt the same about it. Rose was a good friend although she was different from her and Joy. She was quieter and more interested in knowledge.

Then she went into her parent's bedroom to check herself in the mirror. She wasn't absolutely convinced about her new hairstyle, but what made her laugh most was to see her teenage face. Joy and Rose were both pretty, but Amy was aware that she had nothing to complain about either. Apart from the hairstyle. She decided to keep it for the time being and decide later if she wanted to change it back.

When she joined her friends again, Joy assured her that she looked very nice.

Like usual when they had guests they all sat down at the table, eating, talking and having a good time.

When the others went into the living room, Barry and Melanie stayed in the kitchen. Their plates were still full because they kept flirting with each other.

Amy had fun with her friends and did not miss the attention from her older sister. For Melanie it was one of the best days ever with Barry.

Since Beau had left Barry was thinking a lot about the future and when they had finally finished eating they still remained at the table for a long time, talking about it. Barry wanted to go into politics because he felt the need to change what he believed to be wrong with the system. Melanie had not decided what she wanted to study yet but was thinking about arts. That evening Barry asked her if she would live with him once they became students.

'That was a good party, I think Amy enjoyed her birthday', Jennifer said after everyone had left and she was in the bedroom with Peter. 'Are you tired?'

'It depends what you are planning', Peter replied.
'Oh, nothing extraordinary. The usual things that husband and wife do occasionally', Jennifer said with a suggestive smile.
'Mmh. No, I don't feel very tired. Actually I don't feel tired at all.'
Since they had moved to Bluewater he and Jennifer had a satisfying love life and Peter thought that it should not prove too hard to remain faithful to her in the future.

But despite his good intentions he stumbled and failed. Kana Toyonaga was a friend and not many more prerequisites were needed these days. She was another one of those women who he found very appealing and he enjoyed the conversation when he met her in town one evening. Maybe he was bragging a bit, but Kana showed so much admiration for him that he felt inclined to present himself in a positive light.

'You are a very attractive woman, Kana.'
'Thanks, you are not bad yourself.'
Peter knew that he should stop flirting with her, but again his actions did not match his intentions.

Since neither him nor Kana made any serious attempts to stop and were standing so close to the photobooth already they found themselves inside it not even half an hour later.

It would have been easier if he would have been the man for affairs and could have gotten involved with them without much feeling, but unfortunately his heart entered into them each time. He found it even harder to forget his experience with Kana than the one with Darleen and was longing for her for the next couple of days.
How could you avoid feeling good if you were making love to a beautiful woman who declared that you were the greatest guy on earth? It would have required much more strength than he possessed.

Joy's brother Francis had turned into a teen much earlier than everyone expected and only a few days after Amy's own age transition. She was very excited when he called her and asked if she would like to meet him downtown. It was her first time out.
Amy already had hopes when she left the house, but Francis topped all her expectations. She only told him that she liked black hair (not being sure if it was a good idea to start with too many compliments), but so far she could not spot anything she didn't like about him.

They went inside to play pool which gave her the chance to look at him more. She was so lucky that they were close friends already.

'Are you hungry? Shall we get something to eat?'
Francis had looked and smiled at her all afternoon and his smile in particular affected her in a curious way. They were still good friends but it was definitely different from when they were children. She felt like she was going to explode and would have liked to squeak, hop up and down or run around to find relief. Her best friend and he was so cute!!

For some reason they did not want to serve them at the restaurant, but Francis began to flirt with her which was much better than eating anyway.
He told her that she was beautiful and she could feel the blood rushing to her cheeks. She had been invited to their parties by Dyson Dreamer and Christopher Bendett when they transitioned into teens, and Dyson had turned out quite well, but it was nothing in comparison to her feelings for Francis.

She was very sad, when her mother (who had irritated her when she suddenly came in, but had smiled and indicated that she did not want to interfere) reminded her of the time and she had to say goodbye to Francis. But he said that he would like to take her on a date and she had something to look forward to.

Amy did not forget her kitten when she turned into a teenager though and when she was at home Catalina got all her attention.

Peter often felt guilty when he looked at his wife. She was wearing her hair slightly different now and it really suited her. They had earned a lot of money with their shops and although he could have made a big profit if he would have sold it again, they had decided to keep it this time and try to bring it up to top level. He and Jennifer were a good team. There was nothing in his marriage that could serve as a justification for his unfaithfulness.

'Come here love, it's been a long day and I know that it is more exhausting to stand behind the cash register for so many hours than to walk around and talk to the customers.'
'Oh yes, that feels good', Jennifer said when Peter was rubbing her back. Unknowingly she profited from his guilt feelings because he was trying to make up for his unfaithfulness by showing more affection to his wife than ever before.
Florence had caught Ryan cheating shortly after the birth of her son and from what he heard they were going through a difficult period at the moment. He did not want this to happen to himself.

Apart from not wanting to loose his wife, a break-up could lead to the separation from his children and that was a terrible idea. Jean Paul had brought home his first A+ a short time ago and those little family events mattered more to him than anything else.

Amy thought that she should at least try what it was like to go out with somebody else and so she invited Dyson to go to town with her one afternoon. They had lots of fun and a great time, but it had been a lot better to go out with Francis. She wished he would invite her on a date soon. If he did it would surely end with her first kiss and she couldn't wait.

On Melanie's last evening at home, they all sat down together to have dinner (which happened regularly but not every evening). Melanie looked around. It was the best way she could imagine to say goodbye to them.

After Amy and Jean Paul had left the table, her father got himself a coffee and sat down next to her.
'Oh Melanie, I know that you are old enough, but I wish we could keep you at home longer. You were born soon after we got married and it is hard to imagine this family without you.'

After her mother had cleaned up the dishes, she joined them and they talked about Melanie's future. 'Rocket constructor? Why would I want to do that?'
'It was just an example, Melanie. What I was trying to say is that you can do everything you want. We don't expect you to take over the business unless you want to and we trust you to have the ability to be successful in every job you choose.'

'Rocket constructor?! I don't even know if there is such a job.'
'Somebody has to construct them.'
Melanie left it to her parents to discuss this subject when she received a phone call from Barry. They had not seen each other much because they were getting prepared for college and she was very excited when she thought about meeting him tomorrow. They would move into the small dormer where Beau and Louise were living.

Afterwards she sat down with her mother again.
'You would believe that it is harder for your father, but I'm as sad as he is. I can not believe how much time has passed since you were born. You have given us so much joy in our everyday life.'
'If you two carry on talking like this I will get really depressed. I hate to leave you, Amy and Jean Paul.'

To her younger brother she said goodbye before he went to bed, because she would not have much time in the morning.

The rest of the family followed the next morning.
'Dad, we don't have to say goodbye yet. You will take me to the campus.'
'I know, but there is nothing wrong with hugging your old father anyway.'

She turned round to her mother, who was giving her a warm hug.

And then Amy came out of the bathroom and was hugged as well.

When everyone was hugged (Jean Paul had got one too, despite saying goodbye to him in the evening), Melanie gave her family one last look. It would be some time before she would see them again.

It was sad to leave them, but the excitement about this new stage of her life was greater. She wondered what it would be like to live with Barry, his brother and her friend Louise. Would she still feel the same about Barry? What if she didn't?
'Are you coming, Dad? The taxi is already waiting outside.'

The Delarosa Family pt. 4

She really made an impression on Manuel Caliente when she visited after school one day.
Amy Stratton became her best friend though. Despite their age difference they were getting on really well.

After Violet had grown up Florence reopened the shop. Snapdragons had become her speciality and she got a lot of requests for them. One evening after they had closed, she and Ryan had a cup of coffee and in the course of the conversation he casually mentioned that he was rather good a toy making.

Florence was surprised that he had never talked about it after they bought a toymaking bench and she found out how good he actually was. They decided that they would begin to branch out in that direction.

Violet gladly became the tester for the toys her father was making.

He also taught her to study with Florence sitting behind them, watching and throwing in her comments from time to time.

Getting the support of both parents it wasn't long before Violet got her first A+ report.

She was so excited about it that she followed them through the whole house, talking about the tests and what the teacher had said to her when he gave her the card.
Their family life was getting better all the time.

On the following weekend Ryan lost his job.
He had always believed that being a slacker was not the right career for him and that he did not care much about his job. When he was sacked he realised that this was not so. He was very depressed, especially when he started to think about the events that had caused it.

To make things worse he had surprised Florence earlier this evening, when she became aware that he was trying for another child. She would have liked to have a second, but had not been sure how he felt about it.
Just around this time some changes were taking place in the neighbourhood but Ryan himself had not expected that his most urgent desire would be to try for a baby. However, he was convinced they had been successful and could do with the money from his job if this was so.

Oh goodness, the shame... Ryan could not stop thinking about the scene. Why did he not walk around as usually, a glass in his hand and some snappy lines on his lips, but decided to make a fool out of himself instead? And why did he not stop when the panic started? Maybe he could have avoided the stampede and guests falling over tables and each other in a desperate attempt to get out.

He went inside and sat down at the kitchen table trying to calm down before going to bed, but it didn't work. The images kept returning. The party guests had been quick to inform the agency who they considered to be responsible for the disaster and the agency had called him on his mobile and informed him that they could do without his services in the future.

He had thought that Florence was asleep, but she had woken up when she heard him coming in and after waiting for him to join her the bedroom she got up to see what he was doing. He tried to tell her calmly, but then he remembered the night again and broke into tears.

Florence tried to cheer him up as best as she could. She told him that they had enough savings and that he could sit back and decide if there was a more suitable career for him.
But Ryan wanted his old job back and he did not go to bed until he found another agency through the internet. He would have to work his way up again, but it was a matter of pride. He did not want to be remembered as the clown as which he had shown himself tonight.

The job loss was a hard blow for his self confidence and maybe without it some events that followed soon after would have never taken place.
Ryan had gone out to the Lulu Lounge after work, when Mary Simmon arrived in the company of some friends. Mary had just given birth to another daughter and he was staying at home with Florence most of the time. So apart from noticing a difference in her daughters neither Mary nor him had much experience with the libertine attitude that was spreading in Pleasantview and how it could affect you on a night out.
They had become very good friends over the course of time (after meeting in town one day), but right from the beginning Ryan had also thought that Mary was probably the only woman who was even more perfect for him than Florence. He was sure that Mary was attracted to him too, but since they both loved their spouse, they had always avoided to get too close.

It proved that this had been a good idea, because once they started cuddling in the whirlpool it was soon followed by hot kisses. There were enough reasons not to do this, especially that the whole neighbourhood could watch them being unfaithful but Ryan found it impossible to restrain himself.

The rest came all by itself.

He felt very guilty about cheating on Florence and tried to explain his behaviour by telling himself that it could not have happened with anybody else but Mary, who was some kind of ideal for him. Unfortunately a few days later he ended up kissing Kaylynn, when he and some neighbours visited Lilith Pleasant in her new home.
What he hated most was that he had secrets now that he could not tell Florence. How could he possibly explain to her that he acted like this although she was the only one he truly loved?

Maybe Florence would have been able to understand because she and Gilbert had met in the Hippy Chicks clothes shop a few days ago and their encounter had been a lot more romantic than usual. It was not easy to be faithful those days, especially when you happened to meet some close friend which you always found slightly attractive. A lot of sims had problems dealing with their new freedom.

Violet quickly found friends, especially among the boys in the neighbourhood, but none of them was as impressed as Manuel Caliente. One day he visited her and tried his best to be impressive himself. Since he wasn't bad at it, he and Violet became friends and he stayed on until the evening although he knew that he should have been home earlier.

Florence had started to feel ill, but she did not throw up and wasn't sure if she was pregnant or not.

She felt very exhausted too and often closed the shop early falling asleep on the sofa when she was at home. It was an indication but could have had other reasons too, she thought.

But soon there was no more doubt that their second child was on the way.

It was a very harmonious period for them. The incident at the party was forgotten much quicker than Ryan had dared to hope and he was taking step after step on his way to get his old job back.
'Oh, so late already?', Florence said and lifted herself up, 'I must have fallen asleep on the sofa.'
'You always do', he said tenderly.
'Shall we go to bed?' Florence did not feel tired after her nap in the evening and was in the mood for some romance. Despite her pregnancy they still had a satisfying and active love life.

Ryan could not say that it was the result of his determination, but he had no further affairs with other women. Mary was decided to remain faithful to James from now on and had rebuked him when he had tried to flirt with her after meeting her again in town one evening.
With the exception of her, there was no other woman that attracted him more than his wife. He thought that Florence looked beautiful, but there was even more beauty in her character.

Her friends liked to invite her because she was so entertaining, but her family loved her company just as much.
Violet got the support of both of them and was developing well, not only being very good in school but also very popular with the other children.

A wind came up in autumn and it was even more fun to fly the kites that her father was making for her. Florence had closed the shop during her pregnancy but Ryan continued to make toys which she could sell later, when she reopened.

Ryan had almost forgotten his problems to control his desire. He fully concentrated on Florence, Violet and the baby.
'I think tonight's the night', Florence said. 'Did you not feel that this pregnancy was longer than the first one?'
'No, on the contrary. I can't believe how quickly the time has passed.'

Florence went to sleep, but Ryan was too nervous and he sat on the bed and tried to read a book. Around 2 o'clock at night, Florence began to stir and moan. The labour pains had started and as she had guessed she gave birth that night.

Their son Orlando arrived in this world a few hours later and Ryan was as happy as one could be.

A few days later they went on a trip to town to shop for some winter clothes. That particular day it was very warm and almost like the summer had returned, but they knew that they would need jackets and jumpers eventually.
Florence and Ryan were extremely happy about the baby. Ryan was in a very tender mood and flirted with her the whole time.
Angel smiled to see them so much in love.

What happened then was in such stark contrast to the preceding atmosphere that Florence felt like she was hit by a big stone.
She had talked to one of the neighbours for only a few minutes, when she turned round and was confronted with the sight of Ryan making out with Angel, the wife of her friend Marlon and neither of them looked like they regretted what they were doing. Florence could not believe it.

She had never believed that Ryan could be so wreckless, stabbing her right into the heart without a blink. Apart from that it was extremely insulting to humiliate her in front of the entire neighbourhood. Not to forget that Ryan had pretended to love no-one but her and had abused her trust.
The worst was the sudden swing from complete happiness to utter pain and sorrow.
'You swine!', Florence shouted and slapped him.

'Florence, look I.. I didn't know what I was doing.. Baby! please..'
'Oh shut up. I'm not finished yet. Wait until we get home.'
Florence glared at Angel - what a name for that slut, she only got married a relatively short time ago and Florence had cheered them at the wedding party - and then went outside to get a taxi with Ryan trodding after her.

When they arrived back home Florence did not argue with him any further but fell silent and that was even worse.
Ryan was aware that he was deep into trouble. What kind of excuse could he give to Florence? Apart from earning him the record for most stupid behaviour, the only plausible explanation would be the intention to break up with her, but nothing was further from his mind. He loved her more than anyone else, even more than the children.
'Florence, I don't know what to say to you. I have no excuse and no explanation. I regret this so much, I wish I could turn back the time.'

'Please forgive me Florence, all I can rely on is your good will.'
Florence looked at him sadly. 'I would like to, but I can't. Anyway, I have to feed Orlando now.'

The realisation what he had done only hit him with full force a few days later. He had known about his weakness and he had done nothing to control it. He had felt guilty after his woohoo with Mary and after making out with Kaylynn, but instead of showing more will power the next time he had acted the same as soon as the next opportunity arose. He would have woohoo'd with Mary again, if she had agreed to it and when Angel had given him that cute and seductive smile, he had acted upon it without thinking. His brain must have been totally switched off at the time, he had simply not thought about Florence being in the same room.
Now he was full of fear that this might be the end of his marriage. He would regret it for the rest of his life if Florence would break up with him over it.
'I swear I have learned my lesson. I will never be unfaithful to you again, if you only give me another chance.'

'Maybe it will be one day, but I'm afraid at the moment that is simply not enough', Florence replied. 'The damage is already done and I would by lying if I said that I am not angry anymore. We could have the happiest period in our life, sharing the joy about our baby son, but what you have done overshadows everything. Everything I loved about you, your cheerfulness and your charm, appears superficial and shallow to me. You proved that you lack responsibility. You're a smart talker, but there is nothing behind it.'

'What do you want me to say Florence? I understand that you think of me like that. I was irresponsible and stupid and I am not proud of myself. But my love for you is not shallow, it is rooted deep inside my heart.'
'I'm sorry, Ryan, I was unfair, I know you are not superficial. As much as I strain my brain, I can not understand why you acted like this though. You did not show the slightest concern for everything that I believed to be precious to both of us.'
'Don't try to find an explanation. I acted upon the most base and primitive instincts, without listening to my heart or my brain.'

'However, I have thought about it', Florence said, 'and for the sake of the children I don't want us to fight. It is enough that I am hurt, I don't want Violet and Orlando to suffer as well. I can not act like nothing has happened, but I want us to be civil, if this is acceptable for you.'
'Me? Yes, of course, that is more than I could hope for.'
He was glad that Florence did not talk about divorce, but her sad face left a deep cut. Her laughter and her smile were the best things about her and he was responsible that they had disappeared.

Florence tried to guarantee that Violet was not affected by the argument of her parents, but of course she sensed that something was wrong, maybe even more because her mother was showering her with affection.

They worked together in the care for the baby, but the atmosphere remained tense. It still angered Florence more than anything else that Ryan had spoiled this period of their life. She would never be able to think back to the first days of her son without remembering his unfaithfulness.

Ryan was relieved about every little gesture that was bringing them back together. They loved their son and there were moments when they were playing with him in which they could forget the troubles in their marriage.
He understood that words were not good enough and tried to be a model husband and father.

Florence had never found it so hard to be cheerful, not even when she had a hard time running the home business, but when she spent time with Orlando she could forget about her problems.

It only lasted until he was asleep in his crib and she had to think about the scene in town again. Ryan had accepted the full responsibility and had pleaded with her not to tell Marlon about it. Although she was very angry with Angel she had agreed to it. It would only serve to make Marlon sad and she did not believe that it was always necessary to know the truth, especially when you were happier in ignorance.

Without the problems in their marriage their life would have been perfect. Ryan had received one promotion after another until he got back his job as professional party guest.

But all this meant nothing. Ryan could only think about Florence and how he could make up with her.

Time had a healing effect and the joint care for the baby worked to relax the atmosphere as well. They had too much in common not to enjoy talking to each other and there were long periods when their relationship appeared to be the same as before.
Ryan never stopped to love Florence. It was some time since their last woohoo and he was beginning to miss it. His desire for her had not ceased either, but he did not think that it would be a good idea to propose making love to her.

Florence needed a long time to forgive Ryan, but eventually she realised that her anger had lost some of its steam. Ryan would always be the man of her dreams and she felt more tender towards him again.

The other day she had watched him with their son when he was not aware of it. He was so kind and caring and - glancing over his body - still as good looking as always.

When Orlando was asleep, Ryan turned round to Florence.
'You must be tired too. I had the impression that you did not sleep much last night.'
He hesitated for a moment before he put his arms around her and kept an appropriate distance. Florence was as careful in her response. It was a long time since their last embrace and she enjoyed his touch more than was good for her.

The evening they spent together with Violet and Orlando. Orlando was still too young, but Violet and her brother would become good friends when he grew up into a toddler.

'Your brother is tired and it's time for you to go to bed too. You can see him again in the morning', Florence said. She felt that it had been one of the best days for a long time.

When they were alone, Ryan, encouraged by the embrace earlier in the afternoon, began to talk to her.
'Florence, I have been sleeping on the sofa for a while now. Don't you think that you could let me back into the bed again?'
'No, you stay were you are. If you don't want to sleep on the sofa put another bed into Violet's room and sleep there.'

'How much longer to you want to carry on like this? Forever?'
'Ryan? Stop this. I am not ready for this yet.'

'I'm sorry, Florence, I will not mention it again. It's not easy for me, you know, spending the whole day with you and then sleeping on my own.'

'I think.., it's not a ban for life, I can imagine that it will not bother me one day, but I have not reached this point yet', Florence said and nestled at his jumper to remove some invisible fluff.

The next few evenings they were talking a lot and although Ryan never told her about his woohoo with Mary, he tried to be honest to make her understand how problematic it had been for him to deal with the changes and greater autonomy that had hit Pleasantview.
'I know it's no excuse, but you see all your neighbours taking it easy and eventually it appears so natural. It has no great meaning and poses no risk to the relationship with the one you love.'
'Unless you do it right in front of their face', Florence said. She could relate to some of the things he said because apart from Gilbert, she had been kissing another neighbour (although she would not give Ryan an advantage and tell him about it).
'For that I have no explanation, apart from sheer stupidity. I never wanted to hurt you. I really believe I have learned in the past weeks and can say with convicition that I will remain faithful in the future and neither cheat in front of you nor behind your back, but yes, only a rogue or an idiot would do it.'

Ryan noticed the improvement in their relationship, especially when they were dealing with their son. Florence was a lot friendlier towards him again.

He was hopeful, but not complacent. He still had a long way to go.

But when he was making his bed on the sofa that night, Florence came out and asked if he would not prefer to sleep in the bed.
He was very glad to lie close to her again, although it was keeping him awake instead of helping him to sleep. He felt a strong longing for Florence, but just because she was willing to share the bed with him again he could not expect that she was ready to woohoo.

Discussing the matter with her, Ryan felt that he was understanding himself better now and he was taking his promises to Florence serious.
When Orlando had fallen asleep the next night, they did not follow his example and stayed up to talk for a while instead. Florence looked very desirable in her underwear, but he enjoyed the conversation with her and did not think (much) about sex.

The initiative came from Florence, who slowly moved into his direction and then began to caress him, signalling that she wanted to make love.
Ryan had not expected it, but was more than happy to fulfil that wish. To see some of the former feelings for him in her eyes increased the pleasure a lot.

'Hi, did you sleep well last night?', he asked when he met her in the kitchen the next morning. He hoped that she would not mistake his expression for some sort of triumph, because he believed that he would not be able to get rid of that smile even if he had tried.

Holding and kissing her again mixed pleasure and relief and was an all together wonderful feeling.

Orlando was nearly old enough to grow up by then and he had a close relationship with his parents.

On the day of his first age transition Florence went over to Matthew's house. Both Ryan and Violet wanted a puppy and theirs were old enough to be given away. Matthew told her that Manuel was very happy that one of them would be going to his best friend.

There were other neighbours around and each of them found the right puppy for their family soon. Florence picked one of the females, which was called Sherry.

Like the others she stayed on for a while afterwards. Florence liked Matthew and his family. Marco was closer in age to Violet than Manuel, but she liked Manuel more.
Most families who had children of his age expected them to turn into teenagers in winter. Florence was concerned that Violet might feel a wish to follow them, especially since her friend Amy was going to become a teen soon. Her daughter was still so young.

Ryan thought that it was very sweet of Florence to get a dog for the family.

'She is so cute', he said to her, 'this was a wonderful idea, Violet will be so excited when she sees it.'
Florence had still not fully overcome her anger with her husband, but the happy moments they had together were soothing the pain.

Violet had been at a friend's house and returned in the late afternoon.
'What do you say? Shall we give your brother a bath and get him ready for his birthday?'

Orlando was bathed and fed and when she finished nursing him, Florence passed him on to Ryan who carried him to his birthday cake.

Ryan blew out the candles for him and Orlando swirled into the air and became a toddler. It was a slight shock for them even if it lasted only for a second. Violet had been such a cute and beautiful little girl that they had automatically expected the same from their son.

He had a strange little face, but Ryan assured Florence that he had looked very similar when he was small. Despite the dreamy and serious expression, he was a lively and playful child and ready to learn how to stand on his own two feet.

They fed him some smart milk and with that and the help of Florence he soon learned to use his feet to walk.

They had hidden the puppy from Violet and did not show it to her until it was time to go to bed.
'Did you not wonder what this was for?', her parents asked, after they had called her into the living room, and pointed to the pet bed.
Violet blushed. 'I thought it was for Orlando.'
'No, it is not for Orlando, it is for this little girl here.'
Ryan had hidden the puppy behind his back and was now handing it to Violet.
They did not need to ask her whether she liked her present. She would have been happy about another puppy too, but she had secretly hoped that if she would get one it would be one of Manuel's dogs.

They had known that it would be very hard to convince Violet to go to bed and although it was late they allowed her to stay up for a while to play with Sherry.

The training of Orlando continued with Ryan teaching him to talk and Florence watching them this time.

'You are a very clever boy', Ryan congratulated him afterwards. It could change when he became older, but even if Orlando would still not stick out for his beauty in later years he was intelligent at least.

Their marriage had been troubled through the entire period when he was a baby, but although it was still not completely back to its old status, they were almost there.