“Hi, beautiful.” Luca’s breath, soft and warm on her neck, sends shivers down Emily’s spine, but she doesn’t flinch or shy away from his embrace.
“I missed you this morning,” he continues. “I thought you’d be there when I woke up.”
Emily sighs and leans into his arms. “I got up early,” she tells him.
“Must we get up at all?” Luca murmurs as he nuzzles her neck affectionately. “I’d much rather spend the entire day in bed with you.”
“With a house full of children?!” she laughs. “I don’t think so.”
“We can hire a sitter,” he suggests with a devious grin.
Emily shakes her head, stiffening slightly. “I don’t think we should tell the kids about us,” she says after a second.
Luca freezes. “What?”
“I don’t want the kids to know about us,” she repeats. “About our… relationship.”
Luca looks confused. “But why?” he asks, frowning.
“Because, Luc. It will confuse them and give them the wrong idea. Who knows where this is going, where we are going, and I’d hate for them to feel abandoned if things don’t work out.”
“So you just want to hide the fact that we are together?! Is that even possible, Em?”
“I- I’m not sure that we are together,” she whispers. “I mean this… This is wrong. Scandalous, even. And the last thing you need is another blemish on your reputation.”
“Emily, you aren’t a blemish.”
“No, I’m worse than a blemish. I’m a stain. A black mark. A scourge. You don’t want to get involved with me, Luc.”
“I’ll decide what I do and don’t want,” he declares heatedly. “I could care less about what other people have to say, and as for the kids… Well, we can tell them whenever you decide you’re ready.”
Emily sighs again, running her fingers down the side of his cheek. “Alright,” she relents. “But this means no one can know about us. Especially not the kids.”
Kieran loves his stuffed dragon. It’s his favorite toy apart from the xylophone, and he can spend hours playing with it and never get bored.
Delilah, currently hiding in the toy box, knows that Kieran loves his dragon. In fact, it’s one of the few possessions he seems to care much about at all.
…But still she can’t resist stealing it from him once in a while.
Kieran knows who took his toy. Indeed, there’s only one Sim capable of taking his toy from him like that, and she’s as easy to read as his human caretakers. Nevertheless, the dragon’s sudden disappearance startles him, and he begins crying.
Delilah didn’t mean to make him cry. She just wanted to mess with him a little. The dragon’s return makes her friend smile again, and that’s much more fun than listening to him bawl.
Despite her pranks, Kieran likes Delilah. She plays the xylophone with him and looks at picture books with him and always makes sure to include him in whatever she and her siblings are doing. She’s also magic like him, and he finds her presence comforting and familiar amidst a sea of humans.
In fact, Delilah gets along well with pretty much everyone.
She plays dollies with Oona, always finding new ways to make her younger sister laugh.
And she builds blocks with Rigby, patiently allowing her little brother to ramble away about his latest obsessions (birthday cake, in this instance).
Even Miss Emily, as the kids call her, likes the energetic two-year old.
Delilah quickly warms up to her babysitter as well, and she enjoys the special attention that Emily seems to lavish on her.
Soon, Kieran has a birthday.
...And ages into a child.
Instead of a party, he asks Emily if they can have a picnic at the park, and so the following day the entire family (minus Oona, who needed her nap) piles into Luca’s car and heads to Landell Park, an urban oasis situated just outside of downtown Jericho.
A cool autumn breeze rustles through the colorful treetops as Luca spreads out the picnic blanket and settles in for a lazy afternoon away from the hospital. While his hectic work schedule has eased up quite a bit recently, Luc still treasures these rare moments of peace with his family. Delilah and Rigby are growing up quickly, and soon they will become children and start school. Oona, his youngest, is only a year younger than they are, and once she ages up the house will be empty. Luca knows for certain that he doesn’t want any more kids, but still the thought of living without a baby underfoot makes him feel old.
“When can we eat?” Kieran’s voice, timid but determined, interrupts his musings.
“Yeah, I’m hungry. What are you making for lunch, Kieran?” Luca asks with a wink.
Kieran grins, quickly picking up on Luca’s jest. “How about my famous mud pie with an earthworm crust and a snail salad on the side? And beetle chip cookies for dessert?”
Luca makes a face. “How about I grill up some hotdogs and hamburgers instead?” he suggests.
“Thought that might be your answer,” Kieran smirks.
“He looks up to you,” Emily tells Luca as he fires up the grill.
“Who do you think?” she smiles. “Kieran, of course.”
Luca shrugs. “I don’t know. He’s never seemed that fond of me, really.”
“I think Kieran feels confused by his lack of parents, but I know that he likes you, Luc. You should spend more time with the boy, even if he’s not your son.”
Pausing, Luca idly runs his hand through his hair. He’s not sure what to do about Kieran now that he’s a child. He’d been hoping that Atticus would show up and take him away, but unfortunately the mage has proven quite evasive so far.
“You never told me his whole story,” Emily continues. “You said that Kieran is the son of one of Maeve’s friends, but where is she? And why hasn’t she returned for him? He’s been with you for years now…”
“We have no idea where she is,” Luca explains with a sigh. “For all we know, his mother could be dead or in prison somewhere. She disappeared just before Delilah was born, and we haven’t seen or heard from her since.”
“Poor kid,” Emily laments. “But at least he has you, Luca. You’re doing him a great favor, you know, saving him from Child Protective Services.”
Luca nods, refusing to make eye contact. He doubts he’d be so willing to keep the boy if it wasn’t for his special situation, and even then he’s frequently thought about trying to find him another home. But now, hearing Emily’s words, he feels nothing but guilt for even considering the idea.
Luca has a lot on his mind over lunch that day, but Emily manages to entertain Kieran and the toddlers without his help.
After the picnic, Kieran finds a nice grassy spot in the sun and spends the rest of the afternoon playing games with Delilah and Rigby.
…Giving Luca and Emily some alone time with each other.
Unfortunately for them, Kieran is much more observant now than he was as a toddler. Nevertheless, he decides to remain quiet about what he sees, not wanting to make Miss Emily feel uncomfortable.
…At least for a little while. The toddlers don’t talk well yet, and they definitely don’t understand what he’s saying, so Kieran figures it doesn’t hurt anything to tell them what happened.
“I don’t want to lose Miss Emily,” he confesses to Delilah. “She’s the best babysitter we’ve ever had, and if they break up she might leave.”
Delilah smiles and giggles, largely ignoring Kieran’s chatter.
“Emily thinks he’s using her, you know. She worries about it a lot. And Luca worries that Emily’s afraid of being tied down so young. I- I can read them, you know. When I try, I can feel what they’re feeling and think what they’re thinking. None of the other kids at school can do that, I don’t think. I try not to do it very often, though. Their feelings are yucky sometimes.”
Kieran sighs and resumes playing quietly with his blocks. He wishes they were older and actually able to have an intelligent conversation with him.
He doesn’t have to wait long, however. Delilah and Rigby’s birthdays are close enough together that Luca decides to have one party for them both.
Kieran tells his newly aged friends what to expect in school on Monday.
Rigby seems happy and excited at the prospect of hanging out with a bunch of kids all day, but Delilah on the other hand finds the concept boring and unappealing and immediately begins plotting ways to escape the whole ordeal.
But alas, her puppy dog eyes fail to charm Luca, and she comes home the following afternoon with a pile of homework the size of a small giraffe. She tries to talk jail break plans with Kieran that night over supper, but Emily doesn’t find her plot to booby trap the principal’s car very funny.
“You’re not even going to be home tonight to help me with my homework!” a frustrated Delilah exclaims.
Emily sighs. “Your father needs a date for the big hospital charity benefit this evening, and I agreed to go with him.”
Kieran glances up sharply. “So you’re dating Luca now?” he asks, trying to sound casual and disinterested.
Emily feels her cheeks grow warm. “N- No! It’s platonic, Kieran.”
“Play-Toe-Nick?” Delilah repeats.
“Platonic,” Emily corrects. “It means that we’re just friends.”
Kieran grunts, unable to hide his irritation. He doesn’t understand why Emily feels the need to lie to them about it.
“Listen to the babysitter,” Luca instructs his oldest daughter a few hours later. “And make sure you help her with your little sister. That goes for all of you,” he adds, looking over at Kieran and Rigby. “I want a good report when Emily and I get home.”
The trio nods obediently, excited to get a night away from their usual routine.
Glancing over, Luca’s heart stops dead in his chest. Emily smiles at him shyly, suddenly feeling awkward and nervous, but Luc can’t take his eyes off of her.
“I- I hope I look okay,” Emily stammers as Luca approaches.
“Wow,” he whispers. “That dress is… Wow.”
Jumping up, Kieran runs over and throws his arms around Emily.
“You look pretty, Miss Emily,” he tells her quietly.
Feeling baffled and a little embarrassed by his sudden display of emotion, she reluctantly bends down to receive his hug. “Thank you, Kieran,” she mumbles. “I’m glad you think so.”
“Don’t worry about the dress,” he whispers in her ear, just loud enough for her to hear. “Luca doesn’t think it’s too sexy at all.” And then he skips back to the couch, completely oblivious to the look of shock and horror on Emily’s face.
At the benefit, Emily tries to put Kieran’s last words out of her mind, but she struggles to concentrate on the situation at hand.
“That’s the mayor and his wife Margaret,” Luca explains. “And the woman with the short hair is Elizabeth Davenport, the only child of the fabulously wealthy David Davenport. And… Emily?”
“Are you listening?” he asks with a frown. “These people are Jericho’s elite, the richest men and women in the entire city. As the Chief of Medicine, it’s crucial that I make a good impression tonight. I- I thought you wanted to come…”
“I do!” Emily exclaims. “I’m just worried about Kieran, that’s all.”
Luca sighs, looking frustrated. “I’m going to get a drink. Do you want anything?” he asks.
Emily nods, and Luca wanders over to the bar.
“Well, look who it is,” Bridget smirks as Luca approaches. “I saw you and your date come in tonight. I noticed that you haven’t lost your taste for younger women, but is she even legal, Dr. McKinley?”
Luca grits his teeth, fighting back all the nasty things he wants to say to her. “Emily is a good friend of mine,” he replies carefully. “We’re just friends, thank you for asking.”
Bridget’s eyes narrow. “Just friends? The same way we were just friends?”
“No, because we were never friends, dear.” Noticing her companion, he adds, “Our daughter is doing well, by the way. A shame you can’t make time to see her, but I guess that’s what I get for fooling around.” And with that, he turns and storms away.
“What’s wrong?” Emily asks when Luca returns with her drink. “Are you okay?”
“I just ran into Bridget,” he says simply.
Emily nods, her eyes full of worry. “Why don’t we dance?” she suggests after a minute. “It’ll take your mind off of everything and allow you to loosen up a little.”
Luca starts to protest, but Emily drags him out to the dance floor anyway.
“You’re a good dancer!” she tells him with an encouraging smile.
Luca chuckles. “No, I’m not. I hate dancing, Em.”
But after a few more songs, he begins to relax and enjoy himself. Emily is a fabulous dancer, Luca notices, and her laughter makes even his most embarrassing moments seem fun.
She also hits it off well with Margaret and Elizabeth, two of the more important women at the party, and by the end of the night Luca has forgotten all about his initial frustration.
“Did I do okay?” Emily asks once they’re back at the house.
Luca smiles, pulling her on top of him. “Darling, you were amazing,” he whispers.
Sorry for the uneventful chapter. It will pick up again soon. =) Maeve reappears in a chapter or two or three, if I don’t change my mind between now and then, and the kids become more relevant as well. Still one more baby to go, and that could prove interesting too. I have plans. >: )
Also, yeah, I realize that Emily’s dress at the “benefit” was a bit on the slutty side, but I thought Luca would appreciate it. I was trying to go for “young” and “sexy”, but I think I overdid it a little, haha. That whole scene was supposed to be much more involved, but I got lazy and my computer broke before I got all the pictures I wanted/needed. Same for the picnic and Kieran’s revelation about Luca and Emily’s relationship. Ah well. That’s life I suppose. Thanks for reading! =D