If there is one word Fern could use to describe Isla Paradiso, it’s heaven.
She listens to the cries of seagulls wheeling above her in the blue sky. The yacht which Christopher had borrowed from an old friend at Sunlit Tides -after a short plane flight- gently skims through the turquoise sea. It drifts into a bay of a green-hilled island, a multicoloured jewel of pure white sand, palms and frangipanis.
(This chapter I will look into the Fern and Xander/Christopher relationships with more depth. So expect a lot of reminiscing as well as cute honeymoon stuff. It will be all Fern, and I’ll get her to sort out her emotions once and for all)
“Isla Paradiso.” Fern breathes out. Christopher smiles at her from the helm. “That’s right. Thought you’d like it.” Of course she does. For a Sim who Loves the Outdoors and Loves to Swim, this island is a true paradise.
Fern’s too amazed to do anything but beam. She feels like she’s fallen into one of her old romantic novels, taken to the sort of island that had been a faraway dream back at Moonlight Falls.
As Fern steps out onto the beach, the silk of her wedding dress rustling around her legs, she takes in this beautiful island, so unlike gloomy Moonlight Falls. The air smells of sea salt and the irresistible aroma of tropical fruits and flowers. The yacht had landed on a tiny island occupied by an equally tiny cottage.
It is a little sea-green shack, the cutest house Fern has ever seen. Shrouded by palms and colourful hibiscus trees, it looks like a lost hideaway, perfect for a honeymoon.
“This is only it, Fern.” Christopher apologises, his blue eyes worried. “I wish I could have rented out a bigger house, but-”
Fern shuts him up with a kiss. “Are you kidding me? This is perfect. It’s the sweetest and most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me!”
She opens the door with the little silver key Christopher had pressed into her hand. The cottage only has one room, but it oozes charm with a small island kitchen and silk-draped double bed. There’s an all-in-one bathroom outside, tucked in its own blue-painted shed.
Fern gazes around the house with delight. Five nights here, with Christopher all to herself! She knows that this honeymoon will be pure bliss.
“I want to explore everything in this island.” She says aloud to the empty cottage, with her newlywed husband unpacking the bags outside. And so she shall.
First they wander around the town, a lovely village crammed with colourful stucco townhouses, Caribbean buildings, and palm trees. Fern is almost overwhelmed trying to take in every stunning detail.
She takes to the Central Park first, which has a lot more red brick than the park back home, but gives off a warm, welcoming feel. It strikes Fern strongly of the very first steps she had taken in Sunset Valley.
A guy strumming on the guitar seems to serenade them as Christopher takes Fern’s hands.
They head off to Trade Winds Spa & Bistro, where Fern and Christopher have the most amazing massage of their life. Later they have dinner outside on the balcony, where the starry night sparkles over them. Fern tries out some pineapple almond cookies, which the chef had said is the island’s speciality.
“Wow. This is delicious!” Fern exclaims, and soon the sublime cookie is gone without a crumb. She marvels with Christopher about all the gorgeous sights in the island.
The next day Christopher takes Fern around the island, sampling the cuisine and the magnificent beaches. The water is unbelievably clear, the colour of a diamond if it had been liquidized. This whole place is a gem, Fern thinks as she and Christopher play in the sea.
All the shops and attractions are visited by the couple. Even the Nautical Museum, which is a bit dark and empty compared to outside. “…maybe the anchor is one from a legend…” Fern suggests. “…” They don’t spend too much time in there.
Settling on a bench outside a brightly painted bookshop, Christopher gently puts his arm around her. They cuddle there for a while, simply enjoying each other’s presence and listening to the splash of water in the fountain. Fern loves how the atmosphere is so relaxed. And she loves how Christopher so willingly comes along to wherever she wants to go, for hours on end.
It’s so different from her first honeymoon. In Bridgeport, everything had been so… industrial. It was the sort of place the rich and famous came to party all night at the numerous lounges and clubs. Fern had wanted to go up into the residential areas, to where the scenery was better and the air sweeter. But Xander had dragged her along to the grungy dive bars -full of drunk rockstar wannabes- anyway.
When Christopher takes her to the simply exquisite Beso De Sol Garden, Fern realises how much of a mistake she had made falling in love with Xander. It’s now obvious that he had not had the same love for her as she did for him, whilst she and Christopher were equals.
As Fern rifles through the romantic novel shelf in Los Libros Library, she thinks of how controlling Xander was of their relationship. He was always making the first move, not her. And Fern had always been cautious not to make him angry.
Briar and Ash, too, were affected by her bad choices. It had started when Fern became pregnant- Xander didn’t really care that she was carrying their children. Briar had always been ignored by Xander, perhaps because she wasn’t a clone of him like Ash. And even though Ash had received plenty of attention as a toddler, once Xander had seen how different his son was to him… he was ignored too.
Fern looks over to Christopher, who is returning his own novel. Her children adore him- always talking and playing with him with big smiles on their faces, even when they became teens. He would be a perfect father, Fern sighs.
What about Blair, though? Fern wonders. How had a man so kind like Christopher ended up with a snobby, mean-spirited woman like Blair? Suddenly, Fern is anxious.
She thinks this over, worry churning in her belly, for the next few days. Even when Christopher takes her out to sea, exploring the dazzling beaches and uncharted islands. But she manages to ignore it, instead enjoying the fascinating scenery and scuba diving spots.
They discover an island populated with a mini jungle of palms, hiding mysterious ruins.
Their rental cottage is on its very own private island, so Fern likes snorkeling around it and finding all sorts of shells and starfish.
The sheer beauty of the island even means rock formations are interesting too.
Under the shade of tropical blossoms, Fern and Christopher spend evenings relaxing on the loungers. The sun rises early and sets late in Isla Paradiso, so they have plenty of time to talk, sunbathe and take in the vista of shimmering blue ocean.
One of Fern’s favourite discoveries is a small island which embraces a hot spring. Waterfalls tumble out of the soaring grey rock, splashing into a steaming aquamarine lagoon.
Meanwhile I am off at the cemetery. Seriously, everything here is just so beautiful. Even the graveyard is a pleasant place
to be dead.
The last night at Isla Paradiso, Christopher awaits on the beach outside their rental shack with a romantic candle-lit dinner. Just like all the novels and movies Fern had watched years ago.
The spring pea soup is wonderful but the imminent departure from Isla Paradiso tomorrow has exposed Fern’s worry again. Her spoon hovers over the soup as she wonders what to do. Oh, stop torturing yourself, Kingston.
“Christopher?” “Yes, Fern?” “Why did you ever marry Blair?” Christopher stiffens at the sound of her name. There’s a moment in which he doesn’t answer, and Fern gets a horrible feeling. “I guess I should tell you. I didn’t know at first, but it turns out a whole lot of money had been left for me by a Steel ancestor. Somehow, Blair knew… she married me for that, trying to have a part in that fabled inheritance.”
“That’s terrible. And she never told you?”
Christopher shakes his head. “I didn’t know until after we divorced and a lawyer came to me saying a lot of money had vanished from a bank account I somehow never knew about. Obviously it was Blair but I have no solid evidence. But I do still have a lot in my name.”
Fern is quiet for a moment, turning over how Xander and Blair had ruined both of their lives. “Which lot?” She asks. “15 Summerhill Court.” That’s the huge one in the estate where the Altos and Landgraabs live, Fern realises. She’s about to speak but Christopher silences her with a grin. “I’ve sold my house so we can build our own cottage for our family there.”
“Briar and Ash?”
“And children of our own, too, if you want.”
“That sounds perfect.”
Fern and Christopher depart for Sunset Valley the next evening. It’s hard leaving. Isla Paradiso is such a gorgeous world. However, at the same time, Fern is glad. Here she had sorted out the memories and past experiences which had been troubling her. As the boat gets further away from the island, she feels like she’s leaving her problems behind too.
Now nothing but the present and the future matters.