“William H Wright, this place is a dump!” Lucas Munch grumbled as he approached the outdoor kitchen counter at Oakenstead Manor.
“Tossed salad? Really?” he continued as he scowled at his serving. “Invite us over for dinner and serve this Cooking 1 plum.”
“I like tossed salad,” Pelham Wills said. “Were you holding out for lobster thermidor?”
“There isn’t even any place to sit,” Lucas pointed out. “Why’d they even invite me here?”
“I’m guessing it wasn’t for pleasant conversation,” Pelham said.
It wasn’t. My slightly younger brother, Dimenche II, had summoned all of our acquaintances from school to our … um, shed to start a club – The Order of Oakenstead. His idea was to strengthen their ties to our family while providing all of us an opportunity to Do Homework and Work Out more efficiently.
Initially, two of our acquaintances could not be offered membership to the club. That Lucas Munch was disinterested was understandable – we didn’t even like him. My brother only invited him because he felt Lucas might need protection from his Mean, Dastardly older brother.
“What makes you think I even want your help?” Lucas asked my brother while I fished in the fridge for some leftovers. “You’re not the Prince of Willow Brook, You’re just an Insane Legacy brat with delusions of nobility!”
But Dim was perplexed that Stephen McKenzie was not on the list of potential club members. After all, Stephen was my best friend.
“Is there some reason you don’t want to join?” he asked.
Stephen is a pretty guileless guy. It’s one of the reasons I can talk freely with him. But it was about to get us both in trouble.
“It’s nothing personal; I like you guys,” he said. “It’s just … uh, just that I just turned Teen. I’m not sure what I want to do. There’s a lot of clubs to choose from. I just want to keep my options open.”
Shortly after founding the club, Dim noticed that he was able to ask Stephen to join, so he tried again.
“It would be an honor to have you in the Order,” Dim said. “You’re my sister’s best friend, after all.”
“Well, that’s just it: I’m your sister’s friend,” Stephen said. “When she moves, I’m really not going to want to Hang Out here very much, y’know?”
“When she moves? What are you talking about?” Dim asked.
“She hasn’t said anything to you?” Stephen asked.
“No, but she’s about to,” Dim said.
“Hold on there, Dim!” Stephen said. “I spoke out of turn; Annette and I were just kicking around Crazy Schemes. Let me talk to her before you say anything.”
“But I need to confront this issue right away, Monsieur McKenzie,” Dim said. “Annette needn’t make plans for her future; I’m making plans for her future.”
“Tell you what,” Stephen said. “I’ll join your club if you promise to give me a chance to talk to Annette before you confront anything.”
My brother smiled and nodded in agreement.
“Besides, I think there’s someone else you’ll want to talk to before she starts star-gazing with someone else, if you know what I mean.”
Dim looked over Stephen’s shoulder and saw Luna Villareal getting flirty with Pelham.
Luna was the first girl to flirt with Dim, at our birthday party last weekend. Luna is Romantic by nature; Dim is not, and he interpreted her actions as something special between them.
So each time they met, Dim would corner her, Chat with her, and generally strive for her undivided attention …
… and he would get it …
… but then he would skip the wheel of contextually appropriate interactions and charge headlong into the Romance submenu …
… and grin sheepishly as their Friendship and Romance meters both took a hit and Luna shrinks away.
This would get to be a pattern over the next few days.
As promised, Stephen had that chat with me the next day, when Luna called a gathering the The Order of Oakenstead at Von Haunt Estate.
“Hey, girlfriend,” Stephen said, punching me playfully on the arm. “I’m afraid the cat’s out of the bag.”
“Cat. It’s a lifeform that went extinct at the end of The Sims 3 Era,” Stephen said. “It’s a euphemism for saying that your secret is out.”
“What secret?” I asked.
“You know. Your … uh, travel plans.”
“Poop. I haven ‘t even said anything to Mademoiselle Spencer-Kim-Lewis yet,” I said. “Who have you been talking to?”
“Um … your brother.”
“You idiot!” I said, punching him back, way less hard than he deserved. “Now he’s probably going to lock me in a tower to keep me safe until he can marry me off to Jacques Villareal!”
“Jacques! Dude, that is plummed up!” Stephen exclaimed.
“No more plummed up than the other landed gentry he wants to pawn me off on,” I said. “He just realized that Malcolm Landgraab is living all along with all those Simoleons.”
“Good thing your dad can’t afford a tower,” Stephen said.
“Yeah, but any moron can lock a door behind me,” I joked. “But I guess it’s good that word is out; it kinda forces me to go from dreaming to planning.”
“I’m supposed to report back to your brother,” Stephen said. “What do I tell him.”
“Tell him if he wants to know what I’m thinking, he can talk to me,” I said.
“OK. Let me know if there’s anything else to help,” Stephen said.
I tried to say “OK” back, but no sound came out.
I didn’t have to wait long to talk to Olivia. She came to Help With Homework that night …
… and I called her over to Chat when we were done.
“I was wondering if you know when you will be going home,” I said.
“It depends on how much time we’re played between now and late June,” Olivia said.
“June 29, 2016, to be exact.”
“Real-time?” I asked. “What’s that have to do with it?”
“Oh, Ms. Thayer doesn’t want the Evil Sims back home to get their turn while Mars is moving backwards through the zodiac,” Olivia said.
“It matters to Ms. Thayer, and she has Karli Wheeler’s confidence, and Karli has agreed to put things off,” Olivia said, “and I guess I’m in no hurry to get back.”
“But that’s like six weeks from now!” Annett said. “I’ll be an old lady by then! So will you!”
“Well, we both still have one dose of Potion of Youth coming to us while we’re here,” Olivia said. “But why are you in such a big hurry to get rid of me?”
“Get rid of you? I don’t want to get rid of you,” I said.
“I’m going with you!”