Amber’s experience with Billy that afternoon rekindles their romance in much the same manner a bucket of water rekindles a campfire.
Her conscience steers her to visit a place normally reserved for Sunday mornings. She has never been very active in the church, but has always enjoyed the weekly sermon. Maybe guilt motivated her her to come here after the deed, or maybe not. Regardless, she has made this her destination almost every day after school since then. Talking to Billy about her feelings has proved frustrating. He has made pretty clear he’s not interested in her crazy beliefs. In his eyes, she’s already crossed the line, so it shouldn’t be a big deal any more; not that it ever was.
Amber had not been prepared for the floodgate of emotion that followed woo-hoo with Billy. The days afterwards had been tense and nervous while she contemplated the possible consequences of their dabbling into the reproductive process. Again, Billy was completely unmoved when when she relayed the news that nothing had become of their activity that afternoon. His only reaction was to complain after she refused to do it with him again.
Billy just doesn’t seem to understand. Thankfully, Tina is there when Amber needs her. Even though they now live across town, she is still Amber’s best friend. Tina had figured out what happened while talking with her “sister” the next day at school. They went to the church together later that day and had a wonderfully candid and private conversation. Tina talked about her own struggles, successes, and failures. The best a sim can do, she told Amber, is to do their best. All sims have moments of weakness when it is easy to stumble or give in to temptation. Tina faults Billy for exploiting Amber during an emotional time, more than she does Amber for letting her guard down. Amber and Tina both reach the same conclusion that day. They have much more in common than either had imagined.
By sharing these tentative steps into adulthood together, she and Tina have cemented an unbreakable friendship that will last throughout their lifetimes. They celebrate their voyage together into adulthood, along with Tanya, at Faith and Jimmy’s new house. During one of their talks, Tina shared that has been having a wonderful dream of being surrounded by her own children and grandchildren. She also divulged that both she and and her boyfriend want a house filled with kids. Amber doesn’t quite understand the lure of that particular ambition, but she’s pretty sure that they’ll manage it quite well.
Tanya couldn’t be more different than her sister (or Amber for that matter). She has worked head-down throughout school and graduated at the top of the class with honors. She had been heavily recruited by the Llamas to play on their team, and by Fort Gnome to enter into their astronaut program. But Tanya follows both her parents on a long list of Barimens to work at the science facility.
When it is Amber’s turn to shed off the restrictions of childhood, she does so with a sigh of relief. Certainly, the innocence that sims associate with children had helped her to some degree. But more times than not, it has hindered her ability to get the information she needs. The cheating scandal, Mr. Dworkin, Brand, Billy’s dad, the warehouse, the painting of Julian, and even the limo in front of Billy’s house that day; they all fit together somehow. And she knows exactly what she must do next to find out how.
But first, birthday cake.
Not long ago, Brand had asked Amber to assist him regain control of the warehouse. She had not given him an answer after their invigorating sparring match that day. Everything about the meeting was weird, including his request for help. Although it makes absolutely no sense, her gut tells her that this is the where the scent trail leads. And for this reason, she decides to take him up on his offer. She assumes he has been keeping an eye on her movements. To test this theory, and to gague how crafty her potential employer is, Amber arrives early one afternoon at a small, wooded park to practice chess. It does not take long for her to hear the engine of a finely tuned vehicle purring softly to an idle, followed by the muffled sound of a gently closed car door. His footsteps are nearly imperceptible, as to be carefully silenced with intent.
Amber smiles but does not turn from the chess table. She speaks out toward her chess pieces when she assumes he is some fifty feet away, announcing that she has decided to accept his job offer. She turns to find him smiling, almost exactly fifty feet away. No longer masking his footfalls, Brand occupies the chair across from her and compliments her senses; adding that he was wise to not underestimate her ability as others have.
Amber’s mood changes instantly when she finds his eyes focusing on a spot about a hands-width below her chin. Amber frowns and wonders out loud if this was a bad idea, and begins to leave. Brand stands and apologizes, complimenting her striking beauty and decrying his own lack of manners. With is eyes now focusing more appropriately, Amber is somewhat taken aback by the sincerity of his apology. She had not expected it. She knows when a sim is lying, and his apology was no fluff. Slightly confused by this, Amber cocks her head and listens to what he has to say.
Brand suspects that before his death, Mr. Dworkin had been on the cusp of breaking something big that would have worked toward accomplishing two mutual goals. First, to break the senior Mr. Jones’ death grip on the former teacher; and secondly, to give Brand complete control of the warehouse. Mr. Dworkin’s accident was no accident. Brand warns her that what he is asking her to do may offend her sense of loyalty. He also warns her that in this line of work there is absolutely no loyalty to any sim, but to one’s own self. He suggests sternly that she would do well to remember this.
Amber sits on the floor with her brother helping him with a homework assignment. The estate is cold and vast, having been stripped bare of its former comforts. She has worked to mend the rift between Paul and their parents. He admitted to taking out his anger on them, while knowing they were helpless to do anything about it. They have been spending more and more time away from home; working to write and record music for a new record in an attempt to pay the bills.
Paul thanks her for helping him, then goes off to call his girlfriend, leaving Amber to her own thoughts in the cavernous room. Brand had asked her to find what Mr. Dworkin had discovered. And he asked her to look for it at the home of Billy Jones and his mother. Brand was right. The request stunned her, and she almost walked away from the deal. But, again, something inside nudged her to investigate. She remembers her strange feeling about the limo parked in front of Billy’s house that day. Could Brand be on to something she had not considered?
She had not seen Billy since the graduation ceremony, where she was unable to do much of anything, given the army of reporters all swarming around her parents. Therefore, she is understandably startled by the sight of Billy’s limousine pulling up to the estate’s front gates early that same evening. He emerges with his bodyguards, or entourage as Billy calls them. The sight of Billy as the new warehouse boss is both reviling and arousing. He lets himself in through the front door, demonstrating a sense of power and authority that she had not seen from him until now.
Billy stops mid-stride and turns to his entourage; then after a few seconds clears his throat loudly. The goons grumble and file back out into the courtyard. He then turns back to Amber and smiles his greedy smile. He says nothing as he scoops her up into another of his amazing kisses. Even after all this time, she still melts like butter when he kisses her. When they eventually part, Amber can hear the goons outside whistling and cheering Billy on. He rolls his eyes and asks if there is somewhere private they can talk. Amber nods, wondering what he might be getting at, and leads him upstairs to the old “treasure” room.
Billy has never displayed much charm, subtlety, or affection. It, quite honestly, just doesn’t suit him. He is all about power, money, and living life on the edge. And when he asks her to marry him, it is no different. He presents an enormous rock for her ring finger, and tells her that the wedding is planned for next week. No bended knee, no heartfelt proposal, and no discussion. Like so many of his other possessions, he has decided to acquire her.
Confused, hurt, and unable to speak, Amber stammers for something to say. Although he is as thick as a brick, Billy does sense that his delivery was, perhaps, less than spectacular. He scratches his head and regards Amber. Getting onto one knee, Billy reluctantly shows a tiny bit of romance by taking her hand and asking her to marry him. Then, through confused tears and racing thoughts, she asks him breathlessly if he is ready for them to be together for the rest of their lives.
Billy pauses, smiles that sly and sinister smile she finds so mesmerizing and says, simply, till death do us part…