ryman legacy chapter 13a

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  • 1.The Ryman Legacy
    Chapter 13A
    Out of the Night
    By Mzyra

2. Jose stared out the window between the kitchen curtains anxiously. The party had already started and he really ought to have been in the lounge socialising with all his extended family, but they were probably fine without him, and there was one person he was waiting to see arrive. He really, really hoped she would show up.
3. And a few moments later he saw Tina striding pensively along the pavement towards their house.
There was nothing that had physically changed about her appearance which had probably been the same since before Jose had even been born but somehow she seemed to be even more beautiful every time he saw her.
4. Jose cringed at his own thoughts he really was hopeless; shed never given him any encouragement, but here he was head-over-heels for her. He was going to have to admit his feelings for her, but he had no idea how shed respond. This could well be the most embarrassing night of his entire life, but there wasnt anything he could do about it. Hed just have to take the plunge.
But first hed have to greet her in a not-too-obvious way
5. He timed his leaving the kitchen for exactly the time she walked in the front door.
Oh hi Jose, happy birthday! she congratulated him happily.
Thanks, he said with a nervous smile, I was just on my way to the lounge for the cake and everything.
Oh good, Im just in time then. Are we certain your family isnt going to attempt to stake me? she half-teased.
No, they wouldnt do that theyre too nice, he replied. And Liv wouldnt let anyone get in the way of a potential love story, he mused, the anxiety coming back once again.
6. There certainly were a lot of relatives crammed into the Ryman house, and thered been an almost-universal no added guests rule.
Maybe you should wish for a bigger house, one of the cousins suggested to a lot of laughter as Jose pondered over his cake.
That probably would be good, Jose conceded.
7. But thatll have to wait for another birthday I already know what Im wishing for this time, Jose thought as he looked up briefly at Tina, who was watching with a smile.
I wish that she would feel the same way about me as I do about her. Or, if she doesnt, that it doesnt hurt too much
8. A moment later he had earnestly blown out the candles and finally become an adult. In a football kit for some reason he supposed it could have been worse, like what Lyle had grown up into, but hed leave changing his outfit until later
And he ignored any teasing comments his relatives were making about it all.
9. Wow. Its odd seeing you as tall as I am now Jose, Tina smiled.
Er, yeah, Jose said awkwardly, wondering how to phrase everything. Its pretty cramped in here though and I dont have much to say to people Do you want to go outside? he asked, feeling his stomach churning.
Yeah, okay, she agreed.
10. But Jose couldnt just start pouring his heart out while looking her in the face he was worried hed get too nervous and back out part way through so he found a distraction.
You really are very interested in the stars and the sky, arent you Jose? Tina asked with amusement as he sat down.
I find them relaxing, he said defensively. I certainly need relaxing right now, he added internally.
11. Relaxation is good, Tina conceded and joined him as he laid back.
I learnt all the constellations back in school too, he added.
Glad you managed to get some learning in before you left, she smirked.
Do you think the stars have changed much since when you first became an adult? he wondered.
I expect they have a bit, she mused, but probably so little and so slowly that nobody would have noticed.
12. It really must be so weird being a vampire, he posed vaguely.
Are we really back on that subject, Jose? she asked sceptically. I can take a hint.
Jose hadnt even been thinking about that, just trying to de-stress, but since shed been the one to bring it up How far would you say that I am from being sufficiently mature or whatever, that you would consider turning me into a vampire?
13. Oh Jose, she sighed as she laid back on the grass, exasperatedly. I dont know why you would even want to be a vampire. You have a nice and big family and a long time ahead of you even naturally; immortality is over-rated if you dont have the people to share it with. Not to mention you can only go out at night. Youre an adult and you have your freedom; you dont want to be a vampire.
Jose swallowed. Honestly? Youre right, I dont really. Im happy as a human. I was just wondering whether you saw me as an adult or anything yet.
Tina frowned, puzzled. Well, you are an adult, I dont really get what you mean
14. Jose gave a deep sigh of dread and focused on the stars. I dont know if youve noticed this Tina, but Im kind of massively in love with you. He considered going on, but knew hed only end up rambling, so bit his tongue while he waited for her to respond.
15. Eventually she pushed herself up and stared down at him. Er, could you repeat that?
He sighed and closed his eyes for a second, Im in love with you. I dont know when it started, but I cant help it. And I cant go without saying it anymore.
Thats what I thought you said, she murmured in shock.
They sat and laid in silence for a few minutes.
Is that all youre going to say? Tina asked, shock still evident in her voice.
16. Jose sat up and turned to face her seriously. What more do you expect me to say? Ive told you how I feel. And I I can understand if you find it weird cause well, you know, the age gap and you met me as a teenager, but If its too weird or youre not interested, just tell me and Ill get it, I promise I will. I wont like it, but Ill understand. And I guess people find a way to move on eventually. But I love you. Id give anything to make you happy and I pray that what will make you happy is what will make me happy too, but if what will make you happy is never seeing me again, Id even do that. But I have to know.
17. W-well- Its just- Tina stammered, apparently still shocked. I- You- She took a deep breath and paused. Okay, firstly, I dont want to never see you again, so you can cross that off. Um Ive never- she shook her head. Ive been around three hundred years, but this has never happened before.
Youve never had a guy fall in love with you? Jose asked a little sceptically.
Ive had men claim they were, but I could tell they werent really or didnt mean it I just- I- Why, Jose? she asked, clearly baffled.
18. Why do I love you? Jose swallowed if she went on to say no, this was going to be especially painful. But if she said yes Youre beautiful and I dont just mean that in terms of appearance, though thats true too. Look at all the things youve done with your life and after-life. And even with me; all you had to do was turn some stupid ungrateful kid human again and your job would have been done. But then you were there so I wouldnt just do it again. You saved my life even though the last thing Id told you was to leave me alone. You took me in and tried to put me right when everything else seemed to have gone wrong. God only knows what Id be doing now if it werent for you. You deserve the best and Id give you everything I ever could. If you want it.
19. But- But Im a three hundred year old vampire! Im not like all the young girls you get and you havent even had the chance to properly look around at the adult women yet-!
Uh, firstly: not being like the young girls works in your favour, and your age and vampire status doesnt bother me. And you can come up with every counter-argument you want, none of its going to change my feelings about you. The only thing that matters now, and thatd hold me back, is how you feel.
20. Well you say that, but, I mean, if we were together she started quickly before she paused and Jose noticed her blush slightly. Im confined to the night, she finally ended.
So you would want to stay a vampire? he asked.
Would that bother you?
If it meant that I got to be with you, not at all. And if the differing schedules was a hassle Id become a vampire too. Once youll let me, he added with a slight smile.
21. Well that wouldnt really matter, she said thoughtfully, almost to herself, because if I were going to settle to have a family Id have to leave the vampire grand council and thered be little point in remaining a vampire
Family? Jose prodded, trying to keep the hope out of his voice.
Tina blushed properly this time and tried to change the subject back. Its not easy to leave the Grand Council, you know. Theyd have to approve it.
Do you think they wouldnt?
Well Christian didnt even ask when he did it, so they probably would
22. Sooo Jose said tentatively. Im picturing you being human again and then we could get married and then we could have children and then we would get old and have grandchildren too! What do you see as being wrong with that picture?
23. I- I just- I feel like Im being selfish somehow.
Why?! Jose asked incredulously.
Youre so young and I dont know whether maybe you could get more and better with somebody else you havent met yet. I think Ive established that this is about as much as Im going to get on my own.
24. Jose leaned forwards. Youre not being selfish; if anyone is, I am. The big question is: do you want all of that regardless, or do you want all of that with me? Id rather not just be somebody youre settling for because youre being pessimistic. Or that youre going to find this really weird when it actually gets to it.
Tina sighed. Okay, Id just like to make one thing clear: when I started helping you, this was never part of any plan. Jose gave her a puzzled look. Sorry, I just think that could look really bad from the outside and needed to clarify for my conscience.
As for the rest of it she started, and took his hand and stood up.
25. I guess its kind of unfair for me to have demanded an answer for why you feel the way you do and not be able to give one in return, but all I can say is youre amazingly endearing, Jose Ryman. And from what I can tell, youve grown up so much from when we first met
So? he said hopefully.
26. So, she said, and pulled him in for a gentle kiss.
Her lips were cold but still soft and she even smelt beautiful, Joses brain managed to piece together through the amazing haze that was descending over his thought process. But he was still very conscious of her hands under his chin and on his hip, and his own hand on her waist hed never felt anything like these feelings before.
27. But it had to end as Tina went to consult with the other vampires, leaving a longing Jose to try and regain his thoughts and normal breathing alone.
Tina finally allowed herself to let her guard down as she walked away and felt the smile spread across her face, further than she thought ought to have been possible. And then there was that feeling in her chest and the butterflies in her stomach For the sake of her pride, she sternly prevented herself giggling like a schoolgirl, but she couldnt help but blush at the knowledge that she could have been if shed let herself.
28. As Tina rounded the back of the mansion that served as an effective vampire headquarters, she was reassured to find Chris exactly where she expected her to be. Now she just had to suppress her feelings as best she could.
29. It is good to see you again, the other Contessa said without emotion or actually looking at her.
I know I havent been around very much lately, Tina conceded. Thats kind of the reason Im here tonight.
Chris didnt respond, simply continued to muse on the statue in front of them. I wonder if she did ever truly die
Tina resisted the urge to jibe her friend on her semi-obsession with Simfields first vampire. Chris didnt have a sense of humour, and she wasnt the only vampire to idolise the woman. She settled for I dont know. Perhaps she just moved away?
30. So, Chris continued. What has brought you here? I do not often get company.
Nolan spending all of his time out socialising with the humans still?
I do not see the appeal.
No, Tina agreed, you wouldnt. She loved Chris like a sister, but she was not good around non-vampires. And that was when she was patient. Er, Im here because I believe the time may have come for me to leave.
To leave the council? Chris raised an eyebrow ever so slightly.
Tina swallowed a little. To leave vampirism altogether.
31. I see. What is so good now that you would die for it? There was never any hint of emotion in anything she said.
I- Tina started and braced herself. She knew her friend wouldnt like this. I have developed feelings for and a relationship with a human friend.
Tina couldnt hide the smile that came as she checked her feelings. Yes, she admitted shakily. I think so.
I see.
32. They were silent for a few moments before Chris continued. They say that love is fleeting.
Youve said before that human life is fleeting, Tina pointed out, so love might last long enough to last a lifetime, even if that is true.
But to consider it worth more than immortality
You know I have always aspired to a family, Chris, she said gently.
There was silence again for a while. We shall see what Nolan thinks.
33. What I think about what? Nolan asked casually as he morphed out of his bat form beside the women. Hello again Tina.
Nolan, she smiled back.
Tina wishes to leave. She claims to have fallen in love with a human. Chris filled him in. Whether she was being deprecating or not was impossible to tell.
I see, Nolan said with a slight frown.
Thats what she keeps saying, Tina responded quietly with a wry smile.
34. So who is this gentleman that thinks he can steal away one of my beautiful council members? Nolan asked sternly.
But Tina had been friends with Nolan and knew well enough only to feel exasperated by his protective older-brother act, so she just smiled. Does it matter?
Of course it does! If he were to mistreat you-
I am sure I could handle that Nolan. Or, if I really wanted to make someone suffer, Im afraid I would turn to Chris, not you.
I probably would too, Nolan conceded. Chris gave no visible response. But I dont know that I can agree to let you go if youre going to withhold this information
35. Tina sighed, Fine. His name His name is Jose Ryman.
Ryman? That name sounds familiar to me he said thoughtfully. But he loves you? And you him?
Tina couldnt stem her feelings any longer. Yeah, she answered breathlessly, Ive never felt this way about anybody else in all the centuries. Hes so sweet and genuine and, well, hes not necessarily the brightest, but hes so I dont know how to describe it. And he loves me. I know. She blushed at the way she was gushing. So much for being dignified at three hundred years old.
36. Well, Nolan said, raising an eyebrow, if all of that is true I dont see how I could stand in your way, he smiled. I suppose you have to leave the council? Is he forcing you to become human?
Not at all, she said earnestly, but I dont think he should be a vampire and Im not going to watch my husband age and die while I stay this way. And we arent exactly cut out for family life as vampires And we cant have humans on the vampire council, can we?
I suppose not, but it shall be a shame to lose you Tina.
37. If she leaves there are only two of us left, Chris interjected. We never replaced Christian either.
Didnt Christian marry a Ryman too? Nolan pondered thoughtfully.
And he wound up dead.
I can assure you that Jose is not going to kill me, Tina sighed at her friend. And why dont you promote some of the newer vampires if you really need replacements?
They do not know the old ways. It takes decades of expertise and discipline.
Maybe we should apprentice one of your children, Nolan joked. Tina just rolled her eyes and Chris didnt comment, which could have meant anything.
38. Anyway, I give you my blessing to leave and be happy after three hundred years, as if I ever couldnt have done, Nolan continued and hugged her.
I probably wouldnt have taken no for an answer, Tina acknowledged.
I meant that I wish for you to be happy, but I daresay that is also true.
Now youll have to have all my eternal-youthful fun for me, as if you dont already.
What can I say? These nightclubs are a surprisingly good invention, he laughed.
And Im sure that has nothing to do with the style of clothes that women wear there, she teased.
39. And then there was Chris. Tina wasnt certain what to say she could usually read her friend quite well, but she was eternally uncertain of whether Chriss disdain for love was genuine or just secret envy and she couldnt dare suggest the latter out loud.
I still consider this to be a bad idea, Chris started for her. You are a valuable vampire and that should not be thrown away.
I have to live sooner or later Chris, and like I say, Ive never felt like this. I cant throw that away. And are you suggesting that I couldnt come back?
I suppose you could, but you would have to earn your way back to the council, she warned.
40. I fully accept that risk, she smiled gently.
Then I suppose there is nothing else to say. Goodbye Tina. I hope that this will be as good as you seem to think it will.
Tina didnt want to argue, so she just settled for Thank you.
41. Tina laughed to herself as she arrived back. Jose had gone straight back to stargazing.
Am I disturbing anything?
Jose suddenly became alert again, What did they say?
It would have been difficult for them to stop me, but its fine anyway, she smiled.
Oh, thats great, he said cautiously as he got to his feet. No change of heart in the meantime?
Not me
42. But you better be certain about this Jose Ryman, she said, looking him straight in the eyes.
He slipped his arms around her waist, I dont tend to be certain about many things, but I definitely am about this. She saw him swallow nervously at how close they were together.
So Ill become human again then?
If youre okay with that, he whispered back.
43. Here goes, then, she murmured to herself as she pulled out the potion, nervously twisted it open and lifted it towards her mouth.
Is it going to hurt? Jose asked concernedly.
Im told it sizzles, she said warily. Well see
It was warm as it ran down her throat and the warmth spread out over her body before, all at once, the sizzling began. It didnt exactly hurt,but it wasnt entirely pleasant as her skin turned pinker and her eyes temporarily lost all vision as her pupils changed. At least it didnt take too long.
44. It was odd for Tina seeing her skin human colour again after well over two centuries. She felt oddly insecure about it.
So. Im human again, she said breathlessly. What do you think?
Your eyes dont match your dress anymore, Jose observed.
Er no, I guess they wouldnt. Not that Ill be keeping the dress now Im not a vampire
I do have one question though, Jose frowned slightly.
Whats that?
45. Marry me?
Tina gaped down at him When did you have time to get a ring?
Its a family ring; I only had to go inside while you were gone. We could get a new ring if you want though.
46. No, its fine. Its beautiful.
So that would be a?
Yes. That would be a yes. If you couldnt guess from the way I just agreed to grow old and die for you, she laughed slightly.
47. He stood up and they embraced happily.
Tell me this isnt going to turn out to be some wonderful dream thats going to make me very depressed when I wake up, he laughed to her.
If it is then that means that Im the one dreaming. And Id be more than a little disappointed myself.
48. So, what do we do now? he wondered.
Um- Oh, she said with a laugh looking at him and then at herself. I think we may need new clothes. Unless you want to be a footballer.
Er no, new clothes it is.
49. A little while later they were in Bluewater Village. It didnt take Jose long to pick something along the lines of what he used to wear, still blue to match his eyes, and hed even managed to grow some sideburns, which he was secretly rather proud of.
Tina was taking a while longer to pick something and be ready, but given how long Liv took to get ready to go anywhere, he wasnt surprised.
50. And it all turned out to be worth it in the end.
So how do I look?
Oh, brunette now? he asked, surprised.
I told you I was originally. Being a vampire changes so much of the rest of your appearance, I figured I might as well dye my hair back then, but I think I want to go plain and honest now.
51. You look gorgeous, he said shakily. I especially like the bare arms, he smiled before taking her hand and kissing her all the way along it to prove his point.
Youve been watching romance programmes, havent you? she laughed.
Just a few, he admitted shyly. Cant say I have much experience in this stuff.
Yeah, well, that makes two of us, she smiled shyly back at him. Now shall we head back?
52. But when they arrived back, they decided to stay out a while longer, cuddled up together, looking up at the stars and Jose pointing out all the constellations.
I think this is part of what I wanted all along, he admitted. Stargazing next to each other isnt quite as good as doing it together.
Well youve gotten what you wanted now, havent you? she laughed.
Almost. I think weve still got a few more things to do first, he smiled at her.
I daresay youll get all of those things now too, she sighed.
I certainly hope so.
53. They stayed out until sunrise.
Wow, I forgot what it was like to be out in daylight without suffering third degree burns, Tina mused, watching the light shine on her arm and hand. Its beautiful.
Give it a few months of seeing it every day and youll be bored of it again, Jose smiled.
People take it for granted until they cant see it anymore.
Well maybe weve seen it enough for today I dont know about you, but Im more than a little cold: we should go inside. And its about time you met my family.
Yay, she responded nervously.
54. Everyone, Jose said as he found all his family in the living room, theres somebody you have to meet. And liking her is kind of mandatory, you dont get a choice, he smiled.
Liv gasped, Hang on, is this?
This is Tina Contessa Tina Smith. Shes my fiance.
Livs squeal was ear-splitting.
55. Oh my god, Ive heard so much about you, I cant believe Joses left it so long before introducing us to you, we have so much to talk about and I cant believe youre engaged already, can I see the ring and I am totally up for bridesmaid duties if you want me to, its so exciting-
Liv? Jose interrupted from the sidelines. You may want to breathe before you pass out. And let Tina get a word in edgeways.
Liv stuck her tongue out at him, but smiled back at Tina.
Its nice to meet you Liv. I see what your brothers been telling me about now, Tina grinned.
That better not be anything bad! Liv said loudly towards Jose.
56. Jose rolled his eyes and turned back to Mia, So thats her, he said happily with a little apprehension.
So shes given up vampirism just like that? Juan asked.
Well she never really decided to become one in the first place, Jose pointed out. Wouldnt you choose not to be a zombie if you could?
She seems lovely dear, Mia smiled.
So Youre not going to get all cross or suspicious about when I left temporarily? Jose asked hesitantly.
Well Mia started with a raised eyebrow and a smile.
57. So are you guys gonna have lots of kids? Liv asked brightly.
Er, Tina laughed, well I definitely do want some at least, not sure about an exact number
Ive always been the youngest you know, but Ive always wanted to help look after kids so
Dont worry, youll be the first person we call in a babysitting emergency, Tina reassured her.
58. Eeeeeeee, youre like the best sister-in-law ever! Liv said, pulling Tina into a hug. We totally have to go shopping some time. Girls night out!
Er, yeah okay, whenever you want, Tina laughed nervously.
59. Then Tina moved on to Mia and Juan with far more nerves. Er, hello.
Its nice to finally meet you, Mia replied pleasantly.
I- I have to say- Im really sorry about back when Jose ran away. I tried to tell him to go back home or at least to call, but I probably really didnt help. I guess it was very stressful for you, but I just didnt feel I could force him
The most important thing to me is that you kept him safe. It was the worse scenarios that were causing me stress and at least none of them came true. Thanks to you.
So no hard feelings? she asked hopefully.
Absolutely none, Mia smiled.
60. Oh my god Jos, you have like the best taste in girlfriends ever!
You know shes marrying me, not you, Jose laughed.
She marrying the family, including me, Liv persisted. And shes awesome.
Im glad you agree, as if you hadnt made your mind up before youd even met her, he smirked.
What can I say? She stopped you being such an idiot all the time whats not to like?
Thanks, Jose rolled his eyes again.
61. Anyway, seriously: congratulations Jos, shes really nice and Im sure youll be happy.
Thanks Liv.
A little way away Mia smiled, Welcome to the family Tina.
Thank you.
Juan just sat and smiled that everyone was happy and nothing was being terribly dramatic for once.
62. And all there was to do then was for Mia to call to invite everyone to the wedding. The Ryman family had never really been one for giving much advance warning for things, but they nearly always got everyone they asked anyway. They were lucky like that.
63. And Jose and Tina were lucky to get a very clear, quite warm day for their wedding out in the garden that afternoon, after theyd briefly gone downtown to find good wedding outfits. Not that they were focusing on that very much by the time the ceremony got underway.
64. It was a relatively small, quiet wedding (for the size of their family, at least), but everyone agreed that that merely made it all the more beautiful. And it was all well colour co-ordinated thanks to Mia and Liv especially.
65. Is this everything you hoped it would be? Jose asked as everyone applauded.
More, she smiled back. I thought Id be lucky enough to just get a nice man, never mind a whole family to go with him.
Then I hope they live up to your perceptions too; we arent always the most normal.
Im a three hundred year old ex-vampire Jose, if you were too normal Id never fit in.
Good point, he acknowledged.
66. After their first married kiss there was the customary cutting of the cake as usual with absolutely no spilling of cake or icing on his suit, to Joses extremely neat delight before the bride and groom were forced to separate temporarily to meet and catch up with people respectively.
67. So now youve married your vampire lady, huh?
Yeah. Tinas wonderful, Jose smiled at his brother.
Then I wish you all the happiness me and Roxy have. Id wish you more, but Im not convinced thats possible.
That sounds good to me then.
I tell you what I do wish you, though: I wish you more sleep than were getting. Seriously, wait until you have kids it took me half an hour to get all the sauce out of my eye when I feel asleep into my spaghetti the other day.
68. After Lyle, Jose made a beeline for his father.
Congratulations Jose, you seem really happy. Youve clearly had very good luck.
Yeah, he agreed. How are things for you? Its been a while.
Oh dont worry about me, its your wedding day! Zack half-laughed, but it was forced.
Dad? Jose persisted.
Sara died, he finally admitted.
Oh, Im so sorry. You should have called or something he said sympathetically.
69. No, no, Im okay, Zack insisted. Im still living with some of Saras relatives, helping to look after her great-nephew hes an alien! Im fine. Enjoy your wedding.
Well, okay Dad, but we have to have a proper catch-up another time, Jose said sternly.
We will, Zack agreed. Now go back to your amazing new wife and give me some grandchildren to make up for it, he laughed.
70. I see what Lyle was talking about after he got married now Ive just been ordered to give my Dad grandchildren, Jose laughed.
Hm, well that sounds like a good idea to me, Tina smiled.
You know, it does to me too. I wonder how soon we can end this party?
71. So. Children, Tina said nervously.
Scary, huh?
How many do you think we should have? Jose pondered.
Well I think well have to see just how painful I find labour first, Tina half-laughed.
Oh yeah, Jose acknowledged. But I dont know, given how lonely I used to feel as a kid, I kind of wonder if more is better and then they can all be friends.
72. I like that idea, Tina smiled, and you are still adorable; Im pretty sure kids generally dont turn out the way you plan them to.
We can try, Jose reasoned. And with parents like us and relatives like mine, how can they not?
Er, do we want them to be normal? Because in that case Id bring up the whole 300 year old vampire thing again and add in two zombie grandfathers
I was thinking more happy, he laughed.
Well, I cant argue with that
Im glad we agree then. Now shall we get started?
73. It became a very productive night that saw the very beginning of generation 4 proper.
74. Hello? Tommy picked up his phone, puzzled he rarely enough heard from his own parents, never mind the Ryman household.
Hey Tommy, its Liv.
Oh, hey Liv. I just got back from a lecture. Whats going on?
Oh you know, not much, just wondering what unis like. Better than school I guess?
Er, that depends whether you care how well you do. Theoretically youre meant to work a lot harder, but
Yeah, I get that, she laughed.
75. Hows Simfield without us? he asked.
Ugh, massively boring now. If it werent for all the family stuff going on Id probably have stowed away with you guys instead.
Youll be an adult soon though, wont you?
Yeah, pretty soon So, she said, clearing her throat a little anxiously, how is everyone?
Um, okay mostly I think. We think Josh might get engaged to his boyfriend soon and were all passing our courses, so
76. What about Briney? she tried to ask casually.
Ah. Um, he has been acting pretty down lately. Ever since we left actually. I figure he might be homesick or something, but he doesnt seem to want to actually go home, he just spends loads of time messing around with his genetics and stuff in the science labs instead.
77. Oh. That doesnt sound good.
No. Ive tried talking to him a bit about it, but he wont. Maybe youd have more luck?
Ah, I- I wouldnt really know where to start, she stammered a little.
Then I guess we just hope he cheers up and gets over it, huh? Tommy replied. Oh, Ive got another call coming Liv, I better go.
Yeah, sure, thanks Tommy, she said as she hung up. Poor Briney, she thought, but she couldnt change her mind. She was sure she was right, she just hoped he would stop suffering so much soon.
78. The next evening, the next generations approach couldnt be ignored.
Oh my god, weve actually created are creating life, Jose felt Tinas expanded stomach in shock.
Are we certain that I can do this? he said with a hint of panic in his voice.
Firstly: yes, we are. Secondly: youre not getting a choice, Tina replied with amusement.
79. Jose suddenly had a thought. I should give you a backrub! Pregnancys really bad on womens backs, isnt it? I think I read that
Tina laughed, Yes, it is, though Im not that far along so its not that bad just yet, but itd still be welcome.
Does this help? he asked massaging her shoulders.
Yeah. Oh, and Jose? I dont think youre ever going to stop being completely adorable, even if you lived to be three hundred too.
80. Seth strolled into the break room at the political office with Winston in tow after lunch, to find Rodney in the midst of conversation with a happy Liv. Something about family stuff, from the sounds of it.
Ah, Seth- and Winston, Rodneys eyes lit up slightly as they entered. Back from lunch?
Yup. Saw Jesspret while we were out seems you havent called her lately, Rodney shot him a look, but he just considered that encouragement; Its not polite to keep a girl waiting, you know.
81. Liv looked at them both blankly, Whos that?
Business contact, Rodney said through a very forced smile. But thats a good point Id better go call her now. Im sure youve got things to do too, Seth? he added, giving a significant look between Winston and Liv that was about as subtle as a punch to the face.
Not really, Seth shrugged just to see the look on his face.
With just the slightest set of his jaw and eye twitch, Oh well, Im sure something will come up, and then he left, leaving Liv looking rather disappointed.
82. Seth quickly switched off his phone once he was gone to make sure Rodney couldnt call him out of there.
Actually I have to go too, Winston added. Were tracking a school of beluga whales travelling increasingly close to a known whaling area and so were all having to spend more time at the research office to establish-
Thats fascinating, Seth interrupted flatly.
Winston opened his mouth to say something in return, but seemed to think better of it and went to leave. Bye Dad, he said with a hint of sarcasm. Seth just rolled his eyes.
83. So then it was just Seth and Liv. But Seth didnt think she was aware she wasnt alone as she despondently made a cup of coffee and sighed quietly. He could just leave, but he was curious and hed never been much good at ignoring curiosity.
You kay?
84. Liv did jump a little at his question before answering Oh, yeah, Im fine. She was blatantly lying.
She wavered a little before sighing and giving in. You and my Dad are trying to set me up with Winston, arent you?
85. Well, if she already knew Erm, yeah, pretty much. Why, do you wish wed stop?
Its not that, its just If my Dad wants to set me up with someone, why couldnt he just come up to me and say Hey Liv, I think youd get on well with this guy? Like he thinks I wouldnt listen to him, or that I cant tell what hes trying to do!
Ah, well Your Dad tends to assume people are less intelligent than they are; believe me, I get it all the time. Liv smiled a little at that.
86. As for being honest he continued, he hasnt told you because its not you hes thinking about. Oh, you know, some teenagers deliberately dont listen to their parents, so it could be better not to suggest what you want them to do.
But she sighed again, He should know me well enough to know that Im not like that. And its not like it isnt obvious.
Rodneys not exactly subtle, no, he smirked. But Id just do what I do if I were you: humour him; it makes him happy. She smiled again at that.
87. But youre okay with being set up with Winston? he asked sceptically. He guessed he probably shouldnt be pressing that since he ought to be on Winstons side, but Liv seemed nice and, well, Winston was an idiot with practically no charisma or particular social ability. Liv really could do better, but Rodney sure as hell wasnt thinking about her, so somebody had to.
Liv gave a small shrug, Yeah. Wow, I can feel the love there then, he thought sarcastically.
Its just youre almost an adult and so - if you dont stop it now - your fathers probably going to expect you to marry him pretty soon. Have fun with that.
88. Why not? she shrugged again. Itll make my Dad happy, and theres no-one else
Ah, Seth was not cut out for this; he barely knew the girl, even if it was only thanks to him that she existed in the first place. Rodney wasnt thinking about her, Winston wouldnt do so and apparently she was too pre-occupied with her father to think about herself. It was her choice really, but man did it feel wrong. But maybe Well if youre okay with it, you might as well tell your family, huh?
Are you certain that Winstons okay with all this?
89. Sweetheart, youre well out of his league and hes too apathetic to say no anyway. Yeah, hell go with it too.
I guess I really could then, she said with a small laugh.
Cool, he said thoughtfully. Your father will be pleased. Anyway, Id better go
Sure, she smiled. Thanks.
90. Seth gave a small sigh and rolled his eyes as he left. Shes your step-daughter Harris, you sort her out.
91. Hey Daisy!
Liv? This is a surprise we havent spoken in ages.
I know! We definitely need to keep in touch more, but my family keeps having weddings and babies and it all gets a bit hectic So how are you?
Er, pretty good; I love my maths course although if you speak to my Mum, she believes Im taking biology and Id like it to stay that way.
She still thinks you should be a doctor, huh?
Yeah, thats parents for you. Dad knows what Im doing though, hes great. How are you?
92. Oh, you know, Im fine, looking forward to graduation; schools been boring since you guys left. And both my sisters-in-law are pregnant, so thats exciting. Hows everyone else over there?
Josh got engaged to his boyfriend the other day, so theyre going around being extremely cute, to the rest of the guys annoyance.
Yeah, I spoke to Tommy recently and he said he thought that might happen. He also said something about Briney seeming kinda depressed?
Oh yeah, he was for a while.
93. Was?
Yeah, but I think I helped cheer him up quite a bit the other day. He definitely seemed happier.
You think thatll last then?
Er, oh I dont know about that exactly. It might do, I dont know. Well see how he feels later. Its not like I have time to constantly cheer him up, but maybe he only needed to be cheered up once.
94. Well thats great if hes feeling happier! I dont know how you managed that, but Im just glad to hear hes feeling better.
I could probably find him if you want to talk to him.
Oh, um, no thats okay. I have a bunch of homework to do, you know how it is. Ill talk to him another time.
If youre sure
Yeah, Id better get going.
95. Okay, bye Liv. Talk again soon, Daisy hung up, a little off-put for a reason she couldnt quite put her finger on.
Who was that? Briney asked as he came in.
Oh. What was she ringing for? he continued casually.
Just seeing how everyone is I think. She said she might call to talk to you another day.
Oh, right. Cool.
96. So youre certain shell say yes? Rodney checked after Seth relayed some of his conversation with Liv the previous day; he was so happy he wasnt even bothered by the fact that Seth had his shoes on one of the chairs. Well, not massively bothered, anyway.
She seems to think so, Seth replied unenthusiastically.
Then all we have to do is get Winston to ask Do you think hed do that of his own volition?
Probably not; he wont be bothered much either way and she seems too nice to force the idea.
97. Then well have to talk him into it, Rodney mused. Are you going to see him today?
Yeah, hes coming by in a bit, Seth sighed.
Good. We should be able to sort that out today then, and then he can propose straight after her birthday, he said happily.
98. Rodney frowned at Seth as he found his exhilaration being disturbed. Not to complain about the fact that youre not nearly as annoying and hyperactive as usual, but whats wrong with you?
Seth looked up at him blankly. Nothing.
Rodney wasnt buying that for a second. Is it this? I thought you wanted to set Winston up.
Mmm, Seth said distractedly before giving Rodney a curious look.
99. What? he said suspiciously.
Nothing, Seth said with a laugh and shaking his head. Im just still a bit hung-over from last night.
Obviously, Rodney thought. The idea of Seth ever showing any depth or thought was laughable.
100. There was a knock on the door and then Winston entered, Receptionist said youd be in here, then he seemed to notice the way Rodney was looking at him and hesitated.
Ah Winston, I was hoping youd drop by. Rodney said, putting on a bright smile.
You were? he asked cautiously, glancing at Seth.
101. Youve spent quite a bit of time with Liv now, Rodney said carefully.
We were just wondering how you might consider thinking about-
He wants you to marry her, Seth interjected flatly.
102. Rodney turned to glare at him. Have you ever heard of subtlety?
Do you know how to use it? Seth returned. Theres being subtle and theres being inefficient. Have you ever heard of cutting the crap?
Rodney opened his mouth to vent the pure anger and frustration, but just shook his head with an irritated sigh.
103. Winston saw his opportunity to actually rejoin the conversation. Isnt she a teenager?
Its her birthday tomorrow, Rodney explained.
Oh. I still dont really know her all that well.
Whats to know? Shes an open book shes nice, shes outgoing, shes innocent, shes pretty and she does what shes told. Whats not to like? Rodney reasoned.
104. Winston still seemed a little hesitant and turned to his father; You said he wants me to marry her what do you think?
Seth hesitated briefly, Do you have a better alternative?
Not really.
Well then."
105. I guess it makes sense, Winston half-shrugged. Might as well. He looked between the two other men with a suspicious look: I dont suppose this just happens to be the only reason Im here, is it?
Pretty much, Seth confirmed.
Winston left with an aggravated sigh.
106. Excellent, Rodney smiled happily once Winston was gone.
What a wonderful couple they will make, Seth said sarcastically.
Dont tell me youre a romantic; love always dies sooner or later if you didnt start with it, at least not being in love wont cause you to break up. And thats not even the important thing.
Let me guess: screwing over Juan Harris? Seth stated deadpan.
107. Its a little bit more than that, Rodney said reproachfully.
Mmhmm, Seth sounded far from convinced. Still, she hasnt said yes yet and Harris may try to intervene
Rodney crossed his arms as his mind drifted, Well just have to see what happens. And if she goes with Harris over me
108. Hey everyone! Theres somebody here to meet you!
109. Oh my god, he is sooo adorable Lyle! Liv cooed over her little nephew.
Has he started talking yet? Mia asked.
Just a couple of words. Hes taken a lot faster to walking, running all over the place, Lyle explained with a fond smile. And now Roxys going to be going into labour any time again Our hands are going to be quite full. Luckily her mums help out a lot or wed get no sleep.
110. You know wed babysit any time, dear.
Yes, Liv added eagerly, definitely that!
I cant believe Im going to have one of these soon, Jose said with an odd mixture of fascination and apprehension.
Theres nothing like it Jos, nothing like it, Lyle smiled proudly.
111. Hi everyone, whats going on? Juan asked tiredly as he came in from work.
You have an extremely, extremely adorable grandson, Liv beamed.
Hey Elliot, look! Grandads home! Lyle said with a hint of amusement.
Thanks Lyle, I do now realise how old I am, Juan replied wryly.
112. But Lyle had managed to get Elliots attention as he shakily stood up and toddled over to Juan. Uh! Uh!
Not so much on the talking yet, huh? Juan smiled as he rustled the toddlers hair. But he looks just like you Lyle.
I think he wants you to pick him up, Liv pointed out with a hint of jealousy.
113. Hi there Elliot. How are you? he asked, picking him up.
But Elliot was already distracted by the new revelation that was Juans dreadlocks and started trying to grab them. Ah!
Hell be trying to eat them next, Lyle laughed. Anyway, wed better get back before we miss him getting a little sibling Wish us luck!
114. Once Lyle and Elliot were on their way, Liv took the chance to talk to her Mum and struggled to contain her excitement at the news.
So Mum, I- I kind of have a boyfriend now, she smiled brightly.
Oh my gosh, thats great Liv! And sudden, Mia added, I dont remember hearing anything about this before. Did he only just ask you out?
Er, well, you know I was kind of being cautious before, but now she giggled a little.
115. Well thats great! Who is he, do I know him?
Probably not, Liv pondered, but his names Winston, hes already an adult and hes got a job in Oceanography.
Mia frowned a little at already an adult, but supposed Liv wasnt far off really. Do I know his family?
Um, I dont know: his full names Winston Jayapalan-
116. Juan had only been half-listening, but he was up and across the room like a shot. Any relation of Seth Jayapalan?
Yeah! Liv said happily, Thats his dad.
Mias mouth fell open and she and Juan shared a look.
I was talking to him just the other day, Liv continued obliviously, hes really nice. I guess youve met him through working with my Dad, huh?
117. Yeah, Juan agreed less than happily. So, Winston?
Oh youd like him, Im sure; hes clever and hard working and very sensible and everything. And he has red hair too, Liv smiled.
How exactly did you meet him?
At Dads work. Our dads introduced us.
Right, Juan sighed.
Im going to go tell Jose, she beamed before skipping off upstairs, not off-put by their lack of enthusiasm.
118. Im not the only one with a terrible, terrible feeling about this, am I? Mia asked.
No, I think there could be something very wrong with that whole situation.
And did my daughter just describe Seth Jayapalan as really nice?!
She did indeed, Juan frowned. I suppose youve never told her about what he did?
He was meant to be in jail forever, it wasnt supposed to matter! Mia exclaimed.
119. Well whatever might be going on there, hell almost certainly be in on it.
What are we going to do? she asked, looking worriedly in the direction Liv had left.
Ill go find and talk to him, see what hes up to and stop it if its bad, Juan mused.
Are you sure hes not dangerous?
Generally? No, not sure, but I dont expect him to do anything just because Im calling him out.
120. Be careful, she said unhappily.
Dont worry, Ill be fine. And Ill sort everything out. I always do.
121. It wasnt exactly difficult to find Seth when he wasnt around Rodney the next day. His reputation for drinking, gambling and showing off lead Juan to a theoretically closed Lucky Card Shack. And then there was the singing
I walk these streets, a loaded six-string on my back, I play for keeps, cause I might not make it baaack-!
Jayapalan, Juan tried to interrupt angrily.
Ive been everywhere, and Im standing taaall, Ive seen a million faces and Ive rocked them all-!
122. Seth. Shut up, I need to talk to you, he tried again, anger growing.
Ah, hang on, theres just one more chorus and Im done; Im a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride, Im wanted dead or alive-!
Just a second-
Juan pulled one of the wires out of the machine, turning it off. Now.
Ahh, youre no fun, Seth sighed. Fine, what do you want?
123. What are you up to? he demanded angrily.
Seth looked at him blankly. Singing karaoke? Making Simfield a brighter place through entertainment? Conquering the world one woman at a time? he suggested with a growing smile.
Liv and your son, Juan growled slightly.
124. Oh. Did you talk her out of it?
The confusion at the way Seth said that deflated Juans anger. You mean you dont want them together?
Seth hesitated with a slightly pained look. I dont know. I dont care! But Liv seems like a nice girl and they seem all wrong together and so Im happy for them not to be together.
Juan was slightly dumbstruck by the apparent situation in which Seth seemed to be being considerate without any benefit to himself. It was very strange. And suspicious.
125. But if youre not behind it, Juan managed to continue, are you telling me that this is actually what she wants?
Seth gave a hollow laugh. Guess again.
Jalowitz, he sighed with frustration. Obviously. But why is he so bothered?
Control. Hes setting her up to maintain his hold on her. And undermine you, naturally. And shes going with it because apparently all she wants to do is make him happy. Nice people are weird, he observed thoughtfully.
126. Manipulative bastard, Juan muttered angrily.
Mmm. You know, Seth said with a devious smile, my offer to kill him still stands.
And you already know my answer to that, he replied with an unimpressed look.
Seth rolled his eyes and muttered something else about nice people.
Ill just have to find a way to talk her round, he mused.
127. Yeah, good luck with that. Otherwise, Ill see you across the aisle at the wedding. And at the grandkids birthday parties, Seth said brightly.
Ugh, as if I didnt have incentive enough
128. Fairly oblivious to everything else going on, Tina had been very exhausted by the pregnancy and could often be found napping on the sofa if she wasnt in bed, while Jose kept a close and careful eye on her as much as he could. And Mia and Liv could often be found nearby awwwing over the both of them.
129. But it couldnt last forever and finally Tina went into labour that evening. Mia took the most charge as the only one with prior experience, but there was only so much any of them knew or could do as Tina struggled through it.
130. And then eventually she was holding a little boy with Joses dark blue eyes and Joses dad Zacks black hair.
They hadnt really discussed names, but they settled on Huey Ryman.
131. And Huey got to meet the rest of the family while Tina grabbed something to eat.
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww hes so adorable!
You say that about every baby, Liv, Jose pointed out.
But he is! she insisted. Hi Huey, Im your awesome Aunty Liv! And thats Grandma!
Huey stared out at them blankly.
I think Im with him on this one Liv, Jose laughed.
132. And then his Mum got to put him to bed in Joses old room for the minute.
I hope you like blue, Huey. Were going to need a bigger house, arent we? Yes we are! Hopefully I can talk your Daddy and grandparents into it too!
133. With the birth done, it was finally okay for Liv to have her birthday party. Rodney had naturally been invited and Juan had vowed to himself that he would not get into a fight on Livs birthday, no matter how much he may have wanted to. Rodney never chose to get into a physical fight anyway.
And Liv was still blind to the tension, just happy and excited for her birthday.
134. What do I wish for? she wondered. But then she glanced up from her cake and saw her father looking down at her with a slightly inscrutable smile. Make him happy. Make him proud, she thought with a smile of her own. And then she blew out the candles.
135. And then she was a rather pretty woman, in clothes that werent all that bad. But they werent a dress and the red and white needed to be more combined.
136. A little while later, dressed more appropriately, Liv was back in the living room when Winston approached her.
So. Happy birthday.
Thank you, she smiled.
Er, I was wondering if you wanted to, you know, go downtown. Get something more official to eat.
Her smile grew because she knew exactly where this was going, Sure.
137. This is a really nice restaurant, Liv commented. Dad brought me here for lunch once.
Its the best Simfield has, Winston agreed.
I expect they dont get asked for macaroni and cheese much, she pointed out with a little amusement.
Given how much they charge even for that, I cant imagine theyd complain.
They were silent for a little while.
So, adulthood, huh? she asked a little breathlessly.
138. Its not all its cracked up to be, Winston observed.
Yeah, but theres lots of new things you get to do.
Pay bills? Understand your parents better? he suggested wryly.
More like get married, have children she said as subtly as she could.
You know why were here, dont you? he asked.
Pretty certain, yeah. I had a conversation with your dad, she said slightly apologetically.
139. Lets drop the pretence then, he said and pulled out the box.
Liv gasped Ah, a velvet box! You cant engaged without one, I swear.
They are useful, he agreed.
I assume it has a ring inside? she smiled.
Platinum with colour grade F, VS1 clarity, 1.5 carat diamond, he recited from memory.
140. Ill admit that doesnt mean a whole lot to me, but it sure is shiny, she laughed as she put it on her finger.
Basically it cost a lot, Winston summed up.
Not too much? she checked.
I think your father would have paid for it if it had, but no.
Good. So, yes! I cant believe Im getting married!
141. They got some expensive champagne to celebrate too.
To marriage and life, Winston dedicated. Because why not?
Liv gave a wry laugh and they both drained their glasses before heading back to the Ryman house.
142. The party had already broken up when they got back and they said goodbye. They were both uncertain of exactly what they should or could do in the circumstances and it was rather awkward before eventually Winston just lightly pulled her towards him and kissed her slightly.
Goodnight Liv.
Goodnight, she replied as he walked away. It was an odd feeling she had then, but then she remembered that she was actually getting married and it was gone in an instant.
143. Mum! Winston proposed! Im engaged! Isnt it exciting?! Liv exclaimed as she bounded into the kitchen.
Yeah, Mia said shakily with a glance at Juan, if youre happy were happy.
Im going to get maaarrrriiieeed, she half-sung. Oh! I have to go call Dad! and she skipped away again.
Juan and Mia just stared at each other apprehensively.
144. Oh, he proposed? What a surprise!
Rodney Jalowitz could never be an actor,Seth mused. Unless its for one of those really terrible adverts you get in the middle of the day.
Yeah, he must clearly like you a lot.
Give the girl some credit Jalowitz, even she doesnt believe that.
Oh, dont worry about that, Ill sort everything out. Itll be no trouble Okay Liv, Ill see you soon. Bye.
145. Everything gone to plan then? Seth asked as Rodney hung up.
Absolutely. He proposed, she said yes and shes massively excited about it.
Just have to keep her feeling that way through the wedding then, huh?
Yes. Shouldnt be too hard, Rodney mused.
You know Harris will have to be there, right? You cant not invite her step-father without admitting your whole history and you cant be certain shell side with you.
We can control Harris, he stated confidently.
146. So what do we have to do now?
Planning and organising.
Planning and organising? Seth asked sceptically.
Rodney had an excited glint in his eye as he enunciated every word as though they were sacred: Were going to have, by far, the biggest, most luxurious and expensive wedding Simfield has ever seen. And its going to make every single wedding that ever came before it look like total crap.
147. Seth just gave a hollow laugh, How romantic.
148. Tommy picked up his mobile as it started to ring in the middle of their study group. Hello? Oh, hi Aunt Mia. Yeah, were all good, not far until graduation now Invited to Livs wedding?! I didnt realise she was engaged already!
Briney stared at his best friend in shock and increasing horror as he suddenly felt like hed been stabbed in the chest. What?!
~~~~~End of Chapter 13A~~~~~
149. As mentioned, Lyle and Roxanne now have another cousin for Huey and his future siblings a little girl called Vivian Harris, also with Juans red hair
Feel the adorability! (And apparently that is actually a word!)