I was roused from sleep by the bed shifting beneath me. As I slowly opened my eyes, I was greeted by the sight of smooth, pale skin over taut muscle and a riot of colorful tattoos. Mm … Akira. He had my total focus as he pulled on his trousers and dragged his hoodie over his head.
“Good morning, sweetheart.”
“You’re not leaving yet, are you?” God, I sound so needy.
“I don’t need to rush out just yet. I do need the bathroom, though.”
I blushed. “Right. Of course. Don’t let me keep you.”
Akira smiled indulgently at me as he entered the adjoining bathroom.
I was waiting for Akira in the living room when he came out. Stalk your boyfriend much? He came straight for me and grasped my waist, his thumbs rubbing gentle circles over my bare skin. Sparks flew.
“Last night was magical,” I whispered. “I’m so glad you stayed.”
“No regrets, then?”
“Absolutely none,” I smirked as Akira squeezed my waist and pulled me into his arms, pressing a tender kiss to my lips.
“We’re not alone, Emma. We should go easy on the PDA,” Akira said as he hugged me.
I giggled softly. “Fine. I don’t want to traumatize the twins. How about if I make us some breakfast. Eggs all right with you?”
“Yeah, eggs sound good. I really worked up an appetite last night,” Akira said with a wink.
Yeah, me, too. I grabbed a frying pan and started cooking eggs and toast for breakfast, a pink blush coloring my cheeks from Akira’s comment, along with my vivid memories of last night. In the background, I could hear Akira and Cole talking to each other.
“Here you go,” I said to Akira, handing him a plate and fork and joining him and Cole on the sofa.
“Thanks — looks good.”
As we ate breakfast, I told Akira, “You know, today is not only my birthday. It’s also the twins’ birthdays, too.”
“That’s quite a coincidence.”
“Yeah, although I’m sure part of it is because it’s about nine months after my parents’ wedding anniversary, and they always went away for a week’s vacation.”
“I have a pretty good idea how they celebrated it,” Akira said, wiggling his eyebrows.
“Yeah, I really don’t like to think about that. I mean, I get it — now, especially.” Damn, I can feel my face heat up again.
“You’re even more adorable when you blush, sweet Emma.”
And my face just got hotter. Didn’t think that was possible. I must be beet red now.
“I’m going to grab a quick shower.”
“That’s fine. I’ll do the dishes since you were nice enough to cook for me.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“I want to. Go on now — take your shower. I’ll be here when you get out.”
Akira picked up the dirty dishes and brought them into the kitchen, with Kylie hot on his heels.
She hadn’t had a chance to talk to Akira yet, and our social butterfly was never one to be left out of a conversation. Kylie introduced herself to Akira.
“Are you Emma’s boyfriend or just a friend who’s a boy?”
Akira chuckled, “I’m her boyfriend, as of last night. Why? Do you have a boyfriend, too?”
“No, silly. I’m just a kid. I do have friends who are boys, though. I get along better with boys than girls. Maybe it’s because I’ve been hanging around with Cole my whole life.”
“That makes a lot of sense, Kylie. I bet you’re pretty smart.”
“Yep. Cole’s smart, too.”
When I came out of the bathroom after my shower, Akira was chatting with Kylie. He raked his eyes over me, and the look in his eyes told me he liked what he saw.
“Excuse me for a moment, Kylie.”
“Oh, sure. You can go see your girlfriend now,” Kylie said with a smirk.
I chided her. “Kylie, behave.”
Akira walked over and kissed me on the cheek. “You look gorgeous, Emma.”
Akira took my hand and pulled me into my bedroom, locking the door and sitting on the edge of the bed. He patted the spot next to him and I sat down. He put his arm around me and fused his lips to mine. A whimper escaped my throat and waves of desire arced between us.
When the kiss ended, Akira pulled away from me, closing his eyes and sighing. “Emma, even though I want you — badly — we can’t do this right now. Your brother and sister are right outside that door.”
I closed my eyes and sighed, too. “I know. You’re right.”
“And that outfit’s not helping,” Akira smirked, looking his fill. “We’d better get out there.” He took my hand and led me out of the bedroom.
“I’ve got to get started on our birthday cakes. Everyone gets their own, so I have to make three.”
“I’ll just hang out with the kids so I don’t ruin your concentration,” Akira smirked.
The twins were watching TV, so Akira joined them.
Meanwhile, I got started on the cakes. First up — Cole’s chocolate cake. Looks good enough to eat!
Next, I made Kylie’s cake. I figured our picky eater wouldn’t want anything fancy, so I made her a basic vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. I, on the other hand, wanted chocolate like Cole’s.
Akira had to leave, so I walked him out and kissed him goodbye. Then I went out to the garden and harvested the sage, garlic and lemons. While I was standing under the lemon tree, I found myself daydreaming about my new love interest.
We didn’t have the funds to host a party, so we decided to celebrate our birthdays with each other. Kylie was the first one to make a wish and blow out her candles.
She’d always been an adorable little girl, so it was no surprise that she blossomed into a gorgeous teenager.
Cole was up next and was excited to see that his cake was chocolate, his favorite. He made a wish and blew out his candles.
Kylie had been so quick that we hadn’t had a chance to celebrate her birthday properly, but she made sure Cole got the full effect — from multicolored confetti to tooting horns.
Cole grew into a handsome young teen. I was definitely going to have my hands full with these two. At least they’ll have more of a chance to date than I did.
Finally, it was my turn. I had become accustomed to putting myself last, but I did make myself a yummy chocolate cake. I made a wish and blew out my candles.
No drastic changes for me. I looked basically the same, just a little older and certainly wiser to the ways of the world.
I’d had a pretty busy day and didn’t earn as much for the family as I wished I had, but another $550 was enough to cover the cost of the cakes and to buy the kids each a pretty substantial birthday present.
They’d both been sleeping on uncomfortable Gordian Cots — in the same, small room. That wouldn’t do now that they were teenagers. I was excited to be able to provide them with each their own room, complete with a brand new, comfortable bed. The colorful bedding was icing on the cake.
That left us with only $6 to our names, and our utility bills are due tomorrow. Now that the kids are in high school, though, I can get a full-time job. I joined the gardener career.
And THAT completes the Abandoned Kids Challenge! 😎
And now for a FINAL look at how the family fared during the challenge:
Emma (young adult):
Emma gained the Responsible trait from her teen years. With all she did to keep her siblings from being put up for adoption, I think she certainly earned that trait.
Because of the glitch with Seasons plants not yielding full crops, Emma didn’t focus much on her Freelance Botanist aspiration. She was too busy making money in other ways.
As you can see from the stats above, Emma didn’t have access to a stove or shower for quite some time, having only cooked 6 meals and taken 4 showers. Apparently, baths don’t count.
She had only one misfortune, thanks to the visit from Vlad. He was responsible for Emma being dazed and passing out, not to mention being seriously uncomfortable. We almost lost Emma one brutally hot summer morning when she nearly burned to death while she slept outside. That was a close call!
Overall, though, Emma was more happy than not — 95 times isn’t too shabby considering her circumstances. She even managed to snag a boyfriend in the end. 😉
Emma’s skills never made it past level 4. She remains a ‘Jill of all trades, master of none.’
If Kylie were to become a young adult today, she would receive the Responsible trait. She’s also on her way toward receiving the Good Manners and Empathetic traits.
Ironically, after her Picky Eater phase, she chose to pursue the Master Chef aspiration and considers herself a foodie. She attributes it to her mother’s love of cooking and watching cooking shows with Emma as a child.
Kylie was a pretty happy-go-lucky kid. She was happy 89 times and confident 27 times, a lot of which I’d attribute to fishing.
Although she doesn’t get to carry over her mental, social, motor and creativity skills, the fact that Kylie maxed out mental skill means she starts high school as a ‘B’ student instead of a ‘C’. She will also pick up the logic and rocket science skills more quickly now.
Cole was always cleaning up after everyone, so it was only natural that he picked up the Neat trait. Like Kylie, if he were to age up today, he’d gain the Responsible trait. He’s well on his way to gaining the Good Manners trait, but Cole has work to do in all other areas.
Cole never really had a chance to pursue his creative dreams as a child. His aspiration is to become a Painter Extraordinaire. This time, he’s set up for success since the family already has an easel.
Cole wasn’t happy nearly as often as his sisters — only 63 times. However, he was inspired or playful much more often, so it balances out.
Like Kylie, Cole will start high school as a ‘B’ student because of his maxed out mental skill. Logic and rocket science will also come easier to Cole. Homework should be much quicker for both the twins as well.