Friday, 30 November 2012

Chapter 5: Call Me Baby, I'll Come A'Running.

The birth of Jennifer brought about something that Miles had been worried about for a while; Hailey, he could see, was completely and utterly exhausted.  He reflected on the fact that his time in Al-Simhara had given him a bit of breathing space to unwind, even if he had been kept busy the whole time, and he wondered whether a break would have a similar effect on Hailey.

At first she was reluctant, wondering how Miles would cope with the two girls on his own, but he was ready for that.  "It's just going to be for a long weekend, and I'm sure that we can afford a babysitter if things get really bad."

Hailey had to admit that she did want to visit Champ Les Sims in France.  The produce she was growing was gaining attention locally, and she thought it would be a good time to look into Nectar Making.  She didn't know if she would ever make it as a serious commercial venture, but it wouldn't hurt to investigate.

So after booking a last minute flight, and tearfully kissing her family goodbye, she took the short flight to France.

Champ Les Sims was beautiful.  Hailey loved the small cobbled streets, the sophisticated nature of the Sims she met... and she especially loved the nectar.  She was staying at the Nectary on the far side of the village, and drank more than her fair share of the samples made available to her as part of the holiday package.

It was almost easy to forget, as she sipped on the sweet, hazy concoction, that she was the mother to two rapidly growing girls.  She wouldn't change it for anything, but being here was a lucid reminder that she had spent her entire life in Appaloosa Plains, and it made her feel sad, for some unfathomable reason.  She took another sip and shook her head.  It was silly to regret any aspect of her life.  She was happy, blissfully so.  It was just... well, she wasn't really sure what was playing on her mind.

The next day she tried her hand at Nectar Making.  It felt funny to strip off to her swimming costume in order to squish the fruit underfoot, but she didn't want to ruin the outfit she'd bought especially for this trip, so she got changed before stepping into the large barrel.  It felt funny at first, but she soon got into it, squishing at the fruit enthusiastically.

Her first attempt at making nectar didn't go too badly, and she was able to sell it to the owner of the Nectary at a slight profit, considering she'd harvested the fruit free of charge in the Nectary's own orchard.

Later that afternoon she wondered into the town centre.  She decided to ring Miles to see how he was getting on, and was surprised at how calm he sounded when he answered.

"I'm having a lovely time!" she assured him.  "How are Ana and Jennifer?"

"They're both fine.  I think they're almost due to transition.  Can you believe how quickly they grow up?  I think Ana might do it tonight, actually.  She's able to read Oh The Destinations You'll Briefly Visit on her own.  She loves that book.  And Jennifer is just the happiest baby I've ever seen.  Seriously, Hails, I love being able to do this dad thing with them properly."

"Oh," Hailey said, feeling a little anxious.  "I wanted to be there for their birthdays.  What if Ana blames me for not being there?  You know how sensitive children can be."

"Not Anastacia," Miles laughed.  "She's a tough little cookie.  She'll be fine.  She misses you, but that's natural.  Seriously, enjoy yourself, you've earned it."

Hailey paused, then sighed, nodding.  "You're right, this does feel like it's doing me the world of good."

"Excellent.  Now go and treat yourself to some of that fancy French cuisine you've been raving about.  Love you."

"Love you too."

Hailey spent the afternoon reading up on the finer points of Nectar Making whilst basking in the warm sunshine.

After a delicious meal, she started to head back to the Nectary.  As she was walking past the quaint little bookstore, she heard a sharp wolf-whistle and a man dressed head to toe in blue stepped in front of her.  He attempted a wink.

"Do you have something in your eye?"
"Non, mais... you 'av eyes like ze moonlight sky, oui?"
Hailey blushed swiftly.  "Oh," she giggled.
"Et your skin, ze colour of rose petals..."
She blushed even harder before remembering herself.  "I am a married woman," she told him sternly, showing the Frenchman her wedding ring.  "Now, if you'll excuse me."
She walked away and felt his eyes burning into her as she left.  The rumours must be true; French men were the most incorrigible flirts!
Back in Appaloosa Plains, Miles' prediction that Anastacia would age up soon proved to be correct; not only that, but Jennifer also grew into a toddler at almost exactly the same time.  He hoped Hailey wasn't too upset at missing her daughter's birthdays. 
He enrolled Anastacia into the local comprehensive and took her along the next day.  She was a confident, enthusiastic girl, and he knew she'd be absolutely fine there.  One thing she didn't seem thrilled about, however, was the prospect of homework, so as soon as she got home from school that day, and he returned home from work (after paying the babysitter for Jennifer), he insisted they tackle it together.  Anastacia looked up from brushing Yumi and sighed.
They sat down on the kitchen floor (Miles wasn't exactly sure why, but he figured that if Anastacia preferred it there, it was better than not doing it at all) and started on the sums that
her new Maths teacher had set.

"You don't know the answer, do you, daddy?"

"Hmm, I... well, Maths was never my strong point.  How about Atheletics.  Do you do that yet?"

"Ugh, I wish.  That would be my favouritest too.  Can you teach me how to kick a ball really far?"

"Yeah, let's go out to the garden and... no, wait!  Homework.  Concentrate!"

They muddled through the sums together, as Jennifer played with her blocks, clapping happily at how easy it was to fit the right shapes through the right holes.
Later that evening, Miles heated up some leftover waffles and listened as Anastacia brought up the subject of exercise again.
"Who's the fastest runner in the world, daddy?  Could I beat them if I trained hard enough?"
"Usain Bolt, and no chance.  Your legs are too short."
"I'll beat him one day, you wait.  I can't help it if I've got short legs.  I can go really, really fast.  Do you want to race me?  I bet I can go faster than you, can't I?  Huh?  Huh?"
"Eat your waffles, Ana."
That weekend, Miles awoke to something moving against him on the other side of the bed.  His heart lifted; Hailey?! 
But then he looked up to see Yumi staring at him in adoration.  He sighed.  "Not quite the surprise I was expecting, girl."
Miles decided it was time to spruce the place up a little.  He dropped Anastacia and Jennifer round a friend's and got down to the task of wallpapering and carpeting the upstairs and downstairs bedroom.  It was a small house, and he worked quickly.  He wanted Hailey to come home to something special, and that spurred him on.  With her favourite colours, and his, in mind, he spent Sunday shopping for new items, taking Anastacia along with him to pick out items for her own room.
Finally, he was finished, and he smiled, looking round.  He was certain Hailey would love it.

He wasn't much of an interior designer but he figured Hailey would love the little reading nook he'd created for her, as well as the dog-related pictures and objects.  For himself, well, he couldn't resist a little sports memorabilia, but mostly he was just excited about the treadmill that he could finally afford.  The pink and blue together looked kind of sickly, he thought, but he loved blue, and Hailey loved pink, so he'd had to compromise.

Anastacia's room as a lot smaller, and a lot quicker to decorate.  Her favourite colour was Spiceberry but she conceded that there could be some blue in there for when Jennifer transitioned and inevitably moved into the 'big girl's room'.  Like Miles, she insisted on lots of sports-related decoration, although the green Irish flag was a small touch that made Miles smile; Anastacia had developed the Lucky trait when she'd grown into a child. 
The kitchen wouldn't be quite finished before Hailey came back, but Miles knew she'd love the progress he'd already made.
Hailey would miss Champ Les Sims.  She stopped off in the town centre on her way back to the airport and gave it a sad wave. 
She wouldn't miss the men here - she'd decided they were all strange and lecherous, and not as handsome as Miles by a long shot - but she would definitely miss the other aspects of its culture.  Still, she had been missing her children even more, and couldn't wait to see them. When she arrived back in Appaloosa Plains, dusk was falling and Anastacia was playing on her new see-saw.  It was strange, because she seemed to be talking to someone even though Hailey could clearly see, even in the dark, that there was nobody sitting on the other end.
"Mama!" Anastacia hurtled herself at Hailey and hugged her legs tightly.  "Wait 'til you see my new bedroom, it looks AMAZING.  I missed you mummy, don't go away again!"
"Not for ages," Hailey promised, kissing her daughter's unruly mop of hair.  "Where's your daddy?"
"Inside," Anastacia said, going back to the see-saw.  "Sorry, I have to get back to Patterns."
Hailey decided now to question her, deciding she was far too tired to make sense of Ana's conversation.  She looked up to see Miles standing at the door, and she gasped when Jennifer came toddling over to her, walking unsteadily.
"Oh, Miles, she's walking!"
"I've been a busy house-husband whilst you've been gone," he commented, grinning.  He planted a kiss on her cheek as she scooped a beaming Jennifer into her arms.  "In fact," he said, nuzzling against her ear, "I'm probably due some pretty major brownie points."
Hailey smiled back at him and rested her cheek against his.  "Well, why don't we put the kids to bed, then, and start working on that?"
Judging from Miles' face, Hailey knew there wouldn't be any objections.
Notes: Loooong chapter.  I'm still majorly behind updating this blog, so I figured I'd do a couple of longer updates to hopefully rectify that.  The focus on Miles decorating the house was down to the Misc. Fun roll I had: It's So YOU.  :)  Strictly speaking, I should have decorated the house when Miles moved in, but he didn't have enough money at that point to do it properly, so I did it when he transitioned into an adult.  Also, I know the girls are growing up very quickly, but I'm literally using all the pictures I used and there were still not enough at this point to tell much of a 'story'.  I am getting to the point where I started taking a lot more pictures, though, so hopefully we'll get a little drama soon.  I realise it's all a bit sickly sweet at the moment! :D

Monday, 26 November 2012

Chapter 4: White Picket Fences In Your Eyes

After Miles returned from Al Simhara, life continued much as usual.  The house began to feel a lot smaller, with both an inquisitive toddler and an excitable puppy underfoot, but with Miles' new promotion to Vice Squad following his success abroad, he was working shorter hours for better pay, and was therefore able to help round the house with much more energy when he arrived home.

One day, after a long, refreshing shower, he noticed that Yumi had grown... a lot bigger.  He did a double-take when he saw her.  "Damn," he commented.  "You're never going to win any beauty queen awards, are you girl?"

Yumi blinked at him, and seemed to shrug, before going back to her bowl of food.  It wasn't like Miles or Hailey cared; she was an ideal hunting dog, always sniffing out something interesting, and she was endlessly patient with Anasatcia's attempts to poke and prod her. 

She didn't even mind that Anastacia, who was learning to talk, would scream "UMMMI!" at her instead of her proper name.  Yumi was just a ridiculously laid back dog now she had reached her adult life, and Miles loved her for it.  Even if she did look a little like Scooby Doo.

One day, Hailey was hanging out the washing when she felt an unexpected twinge in her stomach.

Like before, the pregnancy caught her completely off-guard, but at least this time, her and Miles had discussed their future hopes and aspirations with a little more detail.  They both agreed that they wanted a bigger family, and now they had a little more money coming in, it seemed to be more of a possibility.  But they were also realistic; with barely any money saved, three children would have to be the maximum.  Hailey had hoped for at least a five year age difference between their first and second child, but life didn't always go as planned, and it looked like it would be a matter of just a couple of years.

She decided she wasn't going to stress during this pregnancy, and on Miles' insistence, one day after he had returned home from work (looking handsome, she thought, in his uniform) she took herself down to the day spa for a bit of a pampering.

When she returned home, feeling more polished and glowing than she had in months, building work had started on an extension to the house.  Miles smiled at her sheepishly.  "It will just be a few days and it will be done.  I know we can't afford to decorate it nicely or anything, and it's not going to turn the place into a mansion by any means, but it will give Ana and the new baby a little space of their own.  They can't both sleep in our room, we'll go mad!"
And so, when Hailey and Miles brought back their second baby from the hospital - another little girl, this one named Jennifer - they were able to put her into the tiny, newly built nursery.  Even without any decorations, Hailey fully approved, because it meant that for once, she might have a night's interrupted sleep.
Notes: I'm going to try and just get the next few updates out quickly so I'm a little more up to date.  I'm now well into Gen 2 in my game and I'm barely into Gen. 1 on this blog!  Just a note on the building work: the family live in one of the starter homes in Appaloosa Plains (can't remember the name of it, but it's empty when you first load the neighbourhood, and is right by the town centre) and it in theory has lots of space for expansion as the garden is big.  However, I could NOT for the life of me get the roof to work when I added the extension I wanted to add onto it.  Lord knows why, although I am a terrible builder, to be fair.  So the extension I built is TEENY TINY and the house is still ridiculously small for a family of their size, but due to the Generational Goal for Gen 2 meaning I need to keep quite a lot of money in reserve, I won't be able to move them into a bigger house for a while yet.  :-/  I'll post pictures of the house in more detail in a future update.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Chapter 3: The distance from A to where you'd B

Anastacia Cantrell was born some months later, and was naturally assigned the Athletic trait (which Miles was secretly pleased about, being an Athletic Sim himself).  Together, Hailey and Miles chose the Loves The Outdoors trait to compliment this.  Appaloosa Plains was the perfect place for outdoorsy Sims, and they wanted Anastacia to love growing up here.

She was feisty right from the start, but loved nothing more than snuggling up to her mum when feeling tired. 

In the early days, Hailey took the reigns when it came to caring for her. The garden could wait, she decided, and they couldn't afford for her and Miles to be losing out on money, especially when Miles earned more than she did. Eventually, they wanted to extend the house to give Anastasica a room of her own.  At the moment, the crib was in their bedroom, and Hailey and Miles barely slept.

It was money which drove Miles to working long hours when all he wanted to do was curl up into bed, exhausted, or spend time with his family.  No such luck.  Miles was opportunistic; he felt compelled to take up any work or social-enhancing enterprise that came his way, and when his boss told him they wanted him to go to Egypt in order to investigate some foreign intelligence that might be relevant to Appaloosa Plains, his heart sank.  He knew it was for the good of his career and, ultimately, his family, but it was the last thing they needed right now.

Hailey took it surprisingly well, considering.  She agreed that the timing wasn't brilliant, but she told him she'd rather it was now than during Anastacia's all important toddler years. So Miles packed his case for a few week's stay at the Egyptian base camp.  He reminded himself how lucky he was; many Sims in Appaloosa Plains had never gone outside of their own backyard, and here he was riding on a moped in one of the most exciting countries in the world.

Hailey missed him terribly.  She was able to continue caring for Anastasia whilst keeping the house in good order, but all she wanted to see was Miles come home.  Most days she barely had enough time to change, or run a brush through her hair.  Anastacia continued to demand a lot of Hailey's time, and the fact that she was missing her daddy made things even worse, Hailey was sure of it.

She kept in contact with Miles via letters, which she wrote during Anastacia's mid-afternoon naps, whilst the lights shone through the kitchen windows and she was able to force herself to stay awake. 
Dear Miles
I hope you've made progress with that Top Secret MorcuCorp thing that I'm not allowed to ask you about.  The sooner you're done there, the sooner you'll be back here.  I love you and I miss you, and Anastacia does too.  Sometimes she looks at me like she's genuinely confused, as if she can't quite understand where you've gone. Well, that's not when she's wriggling around all over the place and forcing me to play with her until the small hours of the morning! 
Nothing new has happened in Appaloosa Plains, that I've heard of anyway (I don't think I'd realise, I haven't been out of the house in days and am starting to go a little stir crazy.)  My sister is still trying to work out whether she should leave her scumbag cheating husband, but I'm a little sick of talking to her about it now.  She keeps crying when she comes round to see Anastacia, telling me I've got my whole life ahead of me and she's so old.  She's not even that old!  But she never listens to me so it's pointless trying to reassure her.
I hope that Al Simhara is as exciting as it seems to be in books.  One day I'd love to go myself, preferably with you!  Have you seen the Pyramids?  The Sphinx?  Just think, when Ana starts talking, you'll be able to tell her all about it.  She'll love the stories of her daddy, the adventurer!
Anyway, I should go, as Ana will be waking up soon.  Yumi is fine, by the way.  She barked at the fridge for about an hour straight yesterday, but I've come to expect that from her by now.
All my love
Hailey xxx
Miles read the letter over a meal of Shawarma and smiled to himself.  He would be travelling home soon, and couldn't wait to see his family again.  Even though it had only been a couple of weeks since he'd been away, he missed them more than he thought was humanly possible.  He had to laugh at Hailey's hopefulness at him being some kind of an explorer; he'd basically spent his entire time working with the locals in the area, and catching brief moments of sleep here and there, in order to stay alert enough to deal with any issues.
The next day, he travelled to The Date Palm House, where Fatima Amin lived.  He had been working with her closely during his stay here, as she knew some information about MorcuCorp that could potentially shed light on the shady organisation that seemed to work underneath the law.  All he had to do was persuade her to get herself and her family to a safe house that had been arranged by Miles, and then he would finally be able to go home.
Fatima was resistant at first; this was her home, and she didn't want to leave it.  But, as Miles pointed out, with the HQ to a resistance movement against MorcuCorp underneath her house, it would only be a matter of time before they came looking for her.  He sympathised, wondering what it would be like to be banished from his own home simply for trying to do the right thing, but after explaining the situation carefully, Fatima eventually gave in.  Miles was pleased with himself; he'd been developing his persuasion skills recently and it made his job a lot easier.
When it was all over, he breathed a sigh of relief as he made the call for the taxi to pick him up and take him back to the airport.  It was a long flight, but once he was back in his own country, headed towards Appaloosa Plains, all the tension and the worry from the trip seemed to fade away.
When he got back into the house, Hailey was snuggling up to Yumi as Anastacia, who had just grown up into a toddler, ate contentedly in her highchair.  Miles took a moment to survey the scene, before Hailey noticed he was finally here, and he smiled, overwhelmed for a moment at how lucky he was to be able to come back to this.
When Hailey did see him, she merely smiled prettily.  "The trash can is full, Mr Adventurer.  Would you mind taking it out?"
Miles laughed.  Yeah, he was definitely home.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Chapter 2: How Much Is That Doggy?

Hailey loved dogs.  It was one of the things Miles found most endearing about her, the fact that she seemed to trust dogs more than most humans, and they would often head down to the park so that Hailey could coo over the puppies that residents of Appaloosa Plains would bring out on their daily walks.  Miles had to admit, some of them were pretty cute.

Money was tight, and they couldn't afford one of the expensive pure breeds that a lot of people round here went for. Hailey considered this to be an unnecessary luxury anyway; she wasn't fussy when it came to dogs, she just wanted one, any one, to call her own; as long as it had "an alert pair of eyes and a strong, cold nose," she would be happy.  So Miles kept an eye out for any adoption pups, and was eventually rewarded with a call from the adoption centre whilst he was at work one day.  Yumi, a bitch mutt with unknown parentage, but promising hunting skills and a non-aggressive nature was looking for a home, and was Miles interested?

Of course Miles was interested.  He told Hailey the address she needed to go to, and after much squealing and declarations of love, Hailey hung up to go and collect the squirming, excitable bundle of fur.  Once she was home, Yumi quickly settled into the house, especially loving the warmth of the tiny little kitchenette.  Hailey didn't mind too much, loving the way Yumi's tiny little paws would slide on the slippery tiles.

After a small home marriage, Miles and Hailey (and Yumi, of course) quickly fell into a pattern of domestic bliss; Miles would change into his uniform in the morning as Hailey dazed peacefully in the creaky old bed...


 He would then head off to work...

And Hailey would get up to tend the fruit and veg patch in the garden...

Miles wasn't entirely sure when she'd first told him her plans for self-employment as a gardener; he wondered if it was simply a ruse for Hailey to stay at home with her feet up, but as the weeks went by, he realised that she was turning her little patch of strange looking plants into genuine, sellable produce, and he couldn't deny the meals she cooked with home-grown ingredients were absolutely delicious.

In fact, it was just as Miles was sitting down to one such meal that Hailey dropped the first real bombshell of their relationship.

"I'm a week late, Miles.  I'm never late."

"Late for what?"  Miles looked up at her, puzzled, and she sighed out loud.

"Honestly?  You can't work it out.  I'm walking around in jogging bottoms because I haven't been able to fit into any of my jeans, and I haven't been able to keep any breakfast down.  Is that a bit clearer?"

Miles didn't consider himself to be the most astute of sims when it came to the female anatomy, but he was pretty sure he did get what she was saying now.  He put his soup spoon down and stared at her.  "You're sure?"


Inside, he felt like he wanted to scream with excitement, run around, do something, but he was pretty sure Hailey would kill him, and he didn't want to scare Yumi who was currently curled up in front of the TV.  So he took a deep breath and nodded.  No, it wasn't ideal; they could barely afford furniture, had no spare room for a nursery, and he was working all the hours his job gave him in the hope of promotion.  But he was happy.  He'd always imagined himself with a large family, and he couldn't help but mentally pinch himself.  He'd married a beautiful girl, a girl he'd always dreamt about but never dared hoped he'd spend the rest of his life with, and here she was telling him that she was carrying his baby.

"So... are you happy?" he asked tentatively.  "We hadn't really talked about this, had we?  Is this what you want?  We're still very young..."

He felt like he couldn't listen, breathless, in case she told him she didn't want it.  But her eyes sparkled as she reached across for her hand.

"I thought I'd be happy with just Yumi, that she'd cure my broodiness for a few years" Hailey laughed. "But you know what?  I didn't panic when I realised.  I just felt like it was supposed to happen, you know?  I don't care if it's unplanned.  This baby belongs in this world, with us as its parents."

Miles started to say something, but he wasn't sure what, and the words stuck in his throat anyway.  It didn't matter; Hailey knew exactly what he was trying to communicate, and she squeezed his hand.  "I never realised it could be this easy to have everything you needed," she confided in him.  "I am so, so blessed."

As Miles cleared up after dinner, he caught Hailey running her hands shyly across her belly, as if finally allowing herself to say hello.  He'd never seen her look happier, and he vowed to himself that he would do everything in his power to give this unborn child the upbringing it deserved.

Notes: I feel this all a bit boring and rushed, so apologies if you're thinking the same thing!  My own playing style isn't to set up lots of scenarios that require CC etc in order to make them more realistic, just because I like my own Sims to have a more 'cartoon' feel (doesn't mean I don't love reading blogs which use it!)  But I will try and develop the story a bit more in terms of drama; it's just hard at the moment as I took so few photos of these important milestones in Miles and Hailey's lives.  On Yumi: she's an adopted in-game dog, and you'll see soon that she turns out to the World's Ugliest Dog, but in kind of a cute way, lol.  She's an awesome dog, though, even if she is constantly switching from Miles to Hailey and back again as her BFF.  She's very fickle! :D

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Chapter 1: Written In The Stars, A Million Miles Away

Some places were exciting, and some places were dull, and some places (well, just one place) was Appaloosa Plains.  Miles Cantrell liked it just fine.  He liked the warm summer breeze, the distant cry of wild coyote, the lush greenery....

Most of all, though, he liked Hailey Shepherd.

Truthfully, he never believed he was in with chance when it came to Hailey.  She was girl-next-door pretty, several years above him at a school, a bit of a dreamer, sure, but popular enough.  He was a small skinny kid with a bad haircut.  Boys like him didn't get with girls like her.  Life didn't work like that.

One night, a few weeks after graduation, he found himself in Mick's Watering Hole.  Hailey was in there with a few of her friends.  Sure, it was a co-incidence but not really an impressive one; in this three-stop town, everybody seemed to appear everywhere, particularly when you least expected it.  Miles was considering how to promptly turn around and leave without looking like too much of a dork when he saw Hailey glance at him and smiled, before returning to her conversation.  He gulped, and decided to order himself a drink.

"I'll have a..." he surveyed the menu.  "Well, I guess I'll have a Bad Idea."

The bar maid, a buxom blonde who had dropped more glasses than she'd poured into since Miles had arrived, winked at him.  "You sure about that, cutie pie?  Wouldn't want your parents getting mad at me."

"I'm of age!" he retorted indignantly.  She laughed and poured it for him.

"Your funeral..."

He hadn't really drunk anything like this before, and as soon as he stood up to use the men's room, he felt himself swaying.  Hailey was in the corner, still talking to her friends, laughing and giggling and flicking her long hair over one shoulder.  Gosh, she was pretty.  Miles felt a sudden, unmistakeable urge to stroke her hair.  He shook his head.  "Get a grip, Cantrell.  Walk out of here whilst your dignity is still in tact."

He was heading for the saloon doors when he heard a voice from behind.  Hailey was walking towards him, and he blinked.  She knew his name?!

"You look like you need another," she said, giggling.  "Think of this one as a Good Idea, okay?"

He took it, trying to steady his shaking hand.  Her skin was soft when his fingers briefly brushed against it.  Maybe he wouldn't ever wash this hand again.

"Th-thank you."

"No problem.  Say, didn't you go to my school?"

"I did... I was a few years below you."

"I thought I remembered you.  You've shot up since then, haven't you?  You look good!"

He glanced across at her friends who were smiling and nudging one another.  Was this some sort of joke?  He wasn't sure.  He hoped not.  She didn't seem like the type to play cruel tricks like that.

He tried to make small talk for a while, and she listened and responded, but his cheeks felt hot and his usual conversational topics didn't distract him from wondering what she really thought about him.  Was she looking at his clothes?  Judging them?  He hated this blazer, but didn't have anything else remotely smart to wear when he went out.  His uncle had passed it onto him, and he tugged at the sleeve self-consciously whilst talking about his plans for the summer.

Eventually Hailey wondered back over to her friends, and Miles knocked back the rest of his drink before buying another....

And another...

 And one more for the road...

He didn't really know what got into him after that, but the next thing he knew, he'd marched over to Hailey, who was even more giggly and smiley than she'd been earlier.  "I..." he stared at her.  "You're so pretty."

She blushed.  "Thank y-" but before she could finish the word, he leant forward and planted a shy kiss on her dark pink lips.  She tasted like strawberry and cinnamon, and that was his last thought before he headed (well, ran) out of the bar without another word.

That summer, something changed in Miles.  He became interested in Law Enforcement, and realised that actually, he had the potential to succeed in it.  He was naturally athletic, not so naturally charming, but he'd been working on that too, and after embarking on a summer of tough work-outs and even tougher saving, he decided to try his luck with Hailey, but properly this time.  Not with the aid of alcohol.  What was the worst that could happen?

Hailey was a bookworm: he saw her frequently in the library, and so Miles pretended to be engrossed in his own books whilst sneaking glances over the pages.  At first, she barely noticed his existence, and he felt pretty down about that.  Had all his hard work becoming buff and muscular been for nothing?  Weren't girls supposed to 'dig' that kind of thing?  Was she still mad about that kiss?

But one day, he glanced up (he'd genuinely been pretty engrossed in Zombies? Zombies! this time) and saw her staring at him through the glass shelving.  Then with a small, encouraging smile, she was gone.

People were pretty old-fashioned in Appaloosa Plains,  and so they went through the whole 'courting' process; this usually amounted to giggling and fumbling about behind the tall library shelves that sheltered them from the whispering of others.  Miles had his own house, a pretty little thing near the town centre that he'd bought with inheritance money from some old great great-grandfather.

As their confidence grew, Hailey started to visit him more and more.  And then, even more.  The days were long and hazy, and Miles felt like this was probably love.  Hailey seemed to agree, and became more and more playful as a result - not that Miles was complaining!

Gradually she began sleeping round his so often that he decided to just take the plunge and ask.  It seemed to make sense, so one evening, after dinner at the steak house he just came out with it: "Would you, uh... like to cut down on your walking time each day?"

Hailey laughed.  "That's possibly the least romantic thing you've ever said to me.  But if you're asking me to move in with you... what took you so long?"

That night, they kissed under the night sky at Hangman's Tree, silently celebrating the start of their new life together.  For both of them, it felt like forever.

Comments: So welcome to my new blog.  I hope you enjoy. :) Just some notes to explain that I didn't really take many pictures at all at the start of this legacy, so I had to go back and stage some of these (I'm almost on Gen. 2 in my game) here using adult version Miles and Hailey, hence why Miles looks pretty weedy in some of them and more muscular in others (he's bulked up much more recently!)  Gen. 1 is likely to be pretty short as a result, but it will get more detailed from Gen. 2 onwards.