Nestled in the green hills of Sunset Valley is a small lake shrouded by apple trees and ringed by a stony beach. It’s the most remote spot Xander knows of in the valley; Crystal Springs is not well known by the locals, as there are prettier parks closer to home. But it serves his purpose. No one is around as the sun sinks into the glittering bay behind him. Crickets sweetly chirp amongst the greenery as he waits… for Blair Wainwright.
Blair greets Xander with a sly smile. They both have partners; Fern and Christopher Steel, but for them it’s exciting meeting in secret, giggling as they kiss away. To Xander, his secret affair with Blair is much more fun than his marriage with Fern. She is always wrapped up in writing, cooking or looking after the kids, so they barely have had any time alone together since their honeymoon.
This random man wanders up the path to Crystal Springs. They don’t notice each other. Miraj Alvi must be so engrossed in his novel that he doesn’t see the couple making out right in front of him.
Meanwhile, in the Kingston villa, the twins are dancing happily along to the stereo. They don’t seem to notice their father’s absence.
Wow. Ash has some moves. You go, boy!
Their mother, Fern, is busy working out to the music. Ash continues twirling along the floor while his twin sister strikes up a conversation- with herself.
The twins have taken their bubble baths and snuggled into their warm bedsheets by the time Xander returns home, breathless and grinning crazily. Fern puffs out a quick hello, but she’s too fatigued and busy with her plies to notice the lipstick marks on her husband’s cheek and how his blonde hair is all messed up.
Fern might have not noticed, but the next morning Briar and Ash whisper to each other in their shared bedroom. “Where was Daddy yesterday evening?” Briar asks her brother, who knits his blonde eyebrows. (Seriously. They don’t even look like twins.)
Ash glances at the door swiftly. “Maybe he was at work.” He suggests hesitantly. Both of them wince. It’s not easy knowing their father is a criminal.
Before they can discuss it further, the school bus honks impatiently outside. The twins rush down the stairs, grabbing some wrapped PB&J sandwiches from the fridge on the way. Fern is outside on the lawn, tending to her growing vegetable and fruit garden. “Bye Mommy!” Briar and Ash yell as they jump onto the bus. “Have fun at school!” Fern calls after them.
Today is Xander’s day off so he goes out into the sunny morning and pulls Fern into a romantic embrace. The look of surprise on her face is so cute!
Apparently Xander thinks so as he kisses her. He feels a little guilty; here she was with her innocent beauty and here he was cheating on her. But then he remembers the date with Blair yesterday and forgets all about that.
As she has been doing for a couple of days now, Fern quickly changes and takes the car to the beach. She pours a glass of lemonade at the bar and stares across the ocean, letting the clean, fresh air clear her mind. Her friend Bebe Hart had recently requested her to write a dramatic dystopian novel. There was a lot of work to do.
Luckily for her, Fern was a Sim full of ideas for stories as a child. One pops up in her head and she begins typing away. She names her novel The Faraway City Lights. It tells the tale of a teenager called Isabel Fennel in Riverview, who ends up in the dystopian city of Bridgeport.
While Fern writes up her first novel, Xander isn’t doing much. Blair’s out at work, and it’s his day off. So he starts dancing like the party animal he is.
I had to include this view of the road out of Sunset Valley, because I wonder where it leads to. What is over the hills: Riverview, Bridgeport, Moonlight Falls?
Briar (once again in her formal dress) returns home to Fern frantically trying to save a pot of burning macaroni-and-cheese. As her mom quickly warms tinned tomato soup over the stove instead, Briar relaxes outside on the expensive lounge chairs Xander splashed out on a while ago.
And Xander? He’s still dancing away without his shirt on. He practises his best flirty grin for both Fern and Blair.
(Me: Xander, do you want your girls to run away?)
Ash is in the lounge, playing chess on the computer. To my surprise, he’s turning out to not be as similar to his father as I thought. While he might have inherited Xander’s good looks, he’s a quiet, sensible, smart and hard-working boy.
The family is sleeping away upstairs when dramatic, evil sounding music flourishes out of the game. Looking for the source, I spot a woman in classic burglar clothes creep across the lawn. A stupid robber! Xander must have been awake by that point, because he jumps out of the bed and sprints downstairs.
He’s too late. The robber has made her escape by taxi by the time he runs onto the lawn.
“Come back here you dirty, thieving little-” Xander bellows into the night. I can’t believe that the woman would steal from her own colleague. I mean, even by criminal standards, that’s just low.
The weird thing is, the two were attracted to each other. Ugh.
The next morning, he tells his wife of the robbery. Somehow, the burglar had stuffed their Womado Triage into a black plastic sack. How is that even possible? Fern’s troubled and upset, because they haven’t got a whole lot of money right now. “Don’t worry, honey, I’ll find a solution to this.” Xander promises, draping an arm over Fern’s shoulder.
Briar and Ash aren’t that bothered by the car being stolen, as they hadn’t used it much anyway. Fern’s too busy calling the insurance company to cook breakfast for the kids, so they eat some leftover birthday cake instead.
Briar’s buddy Max Oliver calls her on her phone (She’s like, 8. Why does she even have a phone?). She tells him excitedly about the incident, ignoring the bus waiting outside.
With Xander off to discuss matters with the insurance company, Fern takes her mind off things by working on her book. It’s going quite good; ideas flow fast, and soon she submits a few pages to the publisher. She’s so wrapped up in her writing, in fact, that she doesn’t notice Xander give her a twisted little smile as he passes by.