Chapter 8.15 – Resolve

Wendell had already washed out of the military and started working as an independent publisher when he met a sensational, young author whose skill was matched only by her beauty.
 
During those days, his meat-and-potatoes was taking chances on aspiring authors who had been turned down by the big-time print houses. He had really never looked at himself (or his authors) as a farm league team competing with the majors. For Wendell, it was a completely different ball-game altogether. Wendell knew the moment he read Amber’s manuscript, that he had found something special. Only, it would take years for them both to recognise just how special it would become.
 
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Wendell admires the strength, love, and loyalty demonstrated by the woman he married. They have shared many experiences together. Some have been mundane and some have been death defying. It hasn’t always been happy or easy, but he would never trade any of it away. With a tentative smile, Wendell blows out his birthday candle and becomes an elder.
 
Ben and Lisa exchange a few good-natured “old-timer” barbs with Wendell before Amber steps in with a smooch that appears to communicate her belief that there will be no rest for her husband’s old bones any time soon. Luke rolls his eyes and turns away from the embarrassing display.
 
 —
 
Inter-sim communication, and maintaining lasting relationships with sims, has never been one of Luke’s skill areas. This shortcoming becomes very evident during functions like this one, where Luke keeps mostly to himself. Most of the time, sims mistakenly assume he is just being unsociable. But there are a few, such as his cousin (second, once removed) Makayla, who do understand him. She takes the time to chat and socialize with him by herself, away from the larger group.
 
Alex is another sim who somewhat understands Luke. He and his new girlfriend arrive late to the party. After making the rounds among the guests, he wanders over to where Luke is hanging out.
 
Alex has really become an amazing sim. He credits Luke for much of his success, citing having to constantly be on his best game just to keep up. But even if it were true, Luke would never take credit for any such thing. He jokingly ribs Alex for feigning humility to impress the gorgeous sim connected to him at the hip. Luke feels a twinge of emotion seeing them together. It isn’t quite envy. It feels more like a part of him is missing, and it leaves him off-balance and out of sorts.
 
Coincidentally, there is one sim conspicuously absent from the party. Luke had not spoken with Sandi since Ben’s party (he hates being called grandpa). Luke had called and left a message inviting her to his father’s birthday, but she never responded. Luke can live with the fact that she has changed her mind about having romantic feelings for him. That’s just how love and life works. But the comments she’d made have really left him concerned about what machinations her father has been busy dreaming up; and to what degree Sandi has been drawn into them.
 
The news channels have been all covering her rise through the partisan food-chain. Her “giant-slayer” message has become something of a novelty that attracts viewer ratings (and advertising dollars). So the “news” outlets have ramped up the hype. Luke doesn’t really care either way about her political alignment. As far as he’s concerned, politics is the same as a port-a-potty. It’s nasty and unpleasant, and leaves you wanting to take a shower after having to use it. But at the end of the day, things would be a whole lot messier without it.
 
Unfortunately, Luke does realize that there will come a day when she will finally force his hand, and he will have no choice but to retaliate. He thinks back to the few scraps he can still remember about his “Ying” dream. She had said that Sandi loves him more than he can know. This alleged love will be put to the test, if it hasn’t been tested already. Luke prays that it Ying’s words were more than just wishful thinking.
 
After the birthday party, Luke finds himself at the Trainwreck Tavern once again. Anna and her fling had both been given stern reprimands after failing to report to work last week. The guy she spent the night with was given time doing KP, then was reassigned to another base. Luke had received an instant promotion after managing three sims’ jobs that day. He has seen Anna a few times on base since then. She maintained a friendly and professional tone, and even thanked him for taking care of her work that day.
 
She made no mention of their encounter after dancing last week, but did ask if he would be going out again this week. He’s not exactly sure what his expectation is about coming here tonight. He’d quietly hoped they would spend some time dancing and forget about the uncomfortable episode.
 
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 —
The dancing part is easy.
 
 —
Minutes melt into hours, and before Luke realizes how much time has past, the lights go out in the tavern. Luke scrutinizes the remaining patrons, including a couple of drunks who seem to be eyeing Anna hungrily. He gets a bad feeling from those two, so he escorts Anna to her car and makes idle conversation until the two deadbeats take off in separate vehicles.
 
After they’re gone, Anna laughs, then barks out a mocking “AT EASE” command. She presses her body up close to Luke, then tells him that the thought of him protecting his territory makes her think that he’s locked, loaded, and ready for action.
 
Luke closes his eyes and breathes out a sigh, as though he were expelling the temptation and breathing in a dose of willpower. He gently moves her to arms length, then quietly but firmly tells her No.
 
Still in a playful mood, she throws her entire body weight into him, leading with her hips, and suggests that woo-hoo in the parking lot might be fun. But Luke has built his resolve, and he repeats his gentle refusal.
 
In an instant, Luke learns a very important lesson. Anna hits really hard for a girl.
 
Little white lights dance and flash before his eyes while he recovers and absorbs the fact that she has just punched him in the mouth. He tastes the blood from where he bit his lip, while instinctively positioning himself to deflect another swing. But it doesn’t come. Instead, Anna has unleashed a profanity-laced tirade punctuated with creative, expletive, and eye-opening metaphors regarding his lack of manhood.
 
She throws herself into the car, slams the door, then speeds off recklessly down the road with tires squealing. Luke winces at the pain in his bulging lip and shakes his head.
 
He just can’t win for losing…
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5 thoughts on “Chapter 8.15 – Resolve

  1. .__. geez Anna can be pretty screwy when she doesn’t get what she wants. All of the girls in Luke’s life are some dangerous stuff X.X slaying giants and slapping sims and stuff…

    Like

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