Friday, March 29, 2013

Woods Random Legacy: Chapter 36 - Second Chances

Alpha's birthday was a subdued affair, with only herself and James present for the quiet celebration.
There was cake, though.  Cake was very good, much better than the messes that James concocted on the stove.
He'd set Alpha up with a bedroom across the hall from her old nursery.  It was fairly spartan, but she didn't care as she didn't spend much time there anyway.
While James slept in after his late nights at work or on the town, she enjoyed having the living room to herself.  Dancing was a lot of fun, and she spent hours working out elaborate routines to the songs played on the radio.
Sometimes if her father went out during the day, she would wander into his room, sit on the bed - which was much more comfortable than her own, or even the sofa in the living room - and think.  It was a nice room to collect her thoughts in, and the wallpaper was almost soothing in a way.
She wasn't bothered by the absence of her father at all.  To her, this was normal.

During the first days of spring, James celebrated both the end of winter and his new-found freedom from the responsibility of watching a toddler by hitting the town.  He stopped by Varg's Tavern to get dinner most nights; Alpha, of course, stayed home and ate whatever was the most edible out of James's attempts at cooking.  It was at the tavern that he first saw her.
He couldn't say what it was exactly, but there was something about her.  Perhaps it was the way she moved, the sound of her voice, the tilt of her head as she examined the drink offerings, or maybe even just a case of spring fever - it was impossible to know.  All he knew was that he wanted her, in a way that he hadn't wanted a woman for too many years now.
James: "Can I recommend the Bad Cheerleader?"
The woman turned, her eyes widening in shock for a moment before a slight smile came to her lips.
Woman: "You could.  Is it good?"
James: "Well, it's not to my tastes, but it's a popular drink among the women in this town.  You're not from around here, though."
Her accent wasn't lost on him; it wasn't strong, but it definitely wasn't local.  She appraised him for a long moment, then nodded, ordering the drink from the bartender.
Woman: "Perceptive.  I'm new in town, yes.  I'm actually supposed to be meeting my friend here, she's offered me her couch until I get on my feet.  She's just a bit late, is all."
James: "I see.  Well, it would be un-gentlemanly of me to let a lady wait by herself."
He sat on one of the barstools, gesturing to the other stool.  The woman sat, thanking the bartender as he delivered her drink.  James slipped the man a bill, waving his hand as the woman opened her mouth to protest.
James: "Please, let me.  I was recently promoted at work, with a nice bonus, so it's my treat.  James Woods, by the way."
Woman: "Anne Darrow."
James: "Pleasure to meet you, Anne.  Now, what brings a lady like you all the way out to Sunset Valley?"
They talked and drank well into the evening, James picking up the tab.  When Anne's phone rang, it came as a surprise, as they'd both forgotten why she was in the tavern in the first place.  James listened carefully as she stepped away to answer it.
Anne sounded frustrated about something through the entire conversation, sighing as she hung up the phone and walked back over.
James: "What's wrong?"
Anne: "Turns out my friend's boyfriend decided he doesn't want me sleeping on their couch, even just for a few days.  I don't have anywhere to stay now."
James: "You can stay at my place.  I mean, I know we just met and all, but if you're really in a bind."
Anne turned to him, smiling gratefully.
Anne: "Is that really okay?  I'd owe you one, definitely."
James: "Sure.  I, um, do have a kid though.  If that's going to be a problem."
He wasn't really sure why he'd said that.  It wasn't exactly the sort of thing he wanted her to know, unless this was going to be a long-term thing.  Which it wasn't.
Anne: "Oh, you're married?"
Her face fell, and James quickly shook his head.
James: "No, I'm not, sorry.  It's a bit complicated, but the short answer is no, I'm not married.  Never been."
Anne: "Oh, maybe I'll get to hear the long answer one day."
James slipped the last of the tab to the bartender and walked out of the tavern.  As he turned to say something, he was suddenly intensely aware of Anne standing very close to him.
After that, things followed the usual pattern, fueled by the drinks from the bar.
He'd been worried that he'd be out of practice, but it was every bit as fantastic as he remembered.  Anne wasn't bad, either - between the two of them, they'd rocked the bed for most of the night.  He could get used to this for the next few weeks at least, until Anne got her feet under her and found a permanent place to live.
Unless he didn't want her to go.

Soon, it was time for Alpha to start school.  Homeschooling was an option in Sunset Valley, but James didn't feel that it was necessary.  Nobody asked too many questions about the kids in school, as long as they stayed out of trouble.  Alpha knew this, and didn't think that she'd have a problem flying under the radar.  She just wished that James wouldn't make so much noise at night while she was trying to sleep.
She enjoyed learning, but found most of the other children at the school to be tiresome.  She enjoyed hanging out with another girl in her grade, though.  Her name was Valerie, and one day Alpha went to her house after school.
Alpha: "I like your house."
Valerie: "Thanks!  Want to play tag?  The bridge out front is great for that."
Alpha: "I think we should do our homework first."
Valerie: "Really?  But homework's so boring!  I just sat in school all day, I don't want to do more of it."
Alpha: "Well, you have to do it sometime tonight.  I like to do it first, so I can have fun later and not feel bad."
Valerie: "You'd feel bad about having fun?  I don't!"
Alpha: "Not always, just when I have something important to do."
Valerie: "You sound like my mom, she's always telling me that I have to be responsible now that I'm in school.  Does your mom ever say that?"
Alpha: "I don't have a mom."
Valerie's eyes widened.
Valerie: "Don't be silly, everybody has a mom!  Who taught you to walk and stuff when you were little?"
Alpha: "Well that was Gran, but she died when I was little."
Alpha's new friend frowned at that.
Valerie: "Oh, sorry.  I didn't know."
Alpha: "It's okay, I miss her but I was pretty little, so I hardly remember her."
Valerie nodded, clearly still feeling sorry for her friend.
Valerie: "Come on, let's go do our homework so we can have fun before you have to go."
They worked on their homework together on the deck.  Alpha completed it faster than Valerie did, often having to prompt her friend on some of the more obscure questions.
Valerie: "You're so smart!"
Alpha: "Not really.  There's lots of hard questions on here, I just study a lot."
Valerie: "I don't like studying."
Valerie worked on her arithmetic for a few moments before looking up with a grin on her face.
Valerie: "Hey!  Why was the math book sad?"
Alpha looked up from her homework, confused.
Alpha: "Um, I don't know?"
Valerie: "Because it had lots of problems!  Ha ha!"
Valerie giggled to herself, then pouted at her friend's blank expression.
Valerie: "Like math problems, get it?"
Alpha: "Oh, right!  Hey, do you have #11 yet?"
It was well into the evening, and Valerie was still struggling through her homework.
Valerie: "I can't believe you're still here helping me!  You're a good friend, Alpha."
Alpha: "Thanks.  I've never really had a friend before."
Valerie: "That's so sad!  Hey, it's pretty late, won't somebody be worrying you're not home?"
Alpha: "My dad doesn't care as long as I'm not out past curfew."
Valerie: "That's cool.  Hey, maybe I can come over to your house sometime."
Alpha: "Uh, I don't think you can, sorry.  I'm not allowed to have guests over."
Valerie: "Oh, that's stupid.  And so's this problem!"
Alpha: "What?  Let me see.  Oh, you got it backwards."
Alpha made it home before curfew, which as she'd predicted was the only thing James cared about.  They acknowledged each other with a nod as they blew past each other, Alpha on her way to get a snack before bed and James on his way to work.  Alpha ate her snack and headed off to bed, not wanting to talk to Anna in the living room.

Days had turned to weeks for their houseguest, and she showed no signs of finding housing anytime soon, though not for lack of trying - the market was a mess.  Despite his best efforts to stay emotionally distant, James could feel himself falling for her in a way that he'd never felt about a woman before, and that scared him a lot.
She was almost as secretive as his daughter, spending a lot of time in the bathroom with her still-unpacked luggage.  Of course, the entire situation was temporary.  Unless he asked her to make it permanent.  One evening, he intercepted her in the kitchen.
James: "Hey Anne, how's it going?"
She smiled back faintly, seeming troubled.
James: "What's wrong?"
Anne: "Oh, it's nothing, just worried."
James: "About the house situation?"
Anne: "Mhmm."
James: "Look, I've been meaning to say something about that.  I really like having you here, and it's probably not a terrible thing for Alpha to have, you know, a woman around and all that.  I wouldn't mind it at all if you stayed."
Anne looked faintly surprised.
Anne: "You mean you don't want me out of here as soon as possible?"
James: "No, I like you.  You know, being around you, and doing...other things...with you."
She looked relieved.
Anne: "That's really good to hear.  Because I'm pregnant."

~ * ~

James, you've done it again.  Just keep it in your hot pink pants, man!
James: "But the dice rolls command me!"
Good point.

I'm trying hard to express Alpha's traits, but it's a bit difficult to get across anything apart from loner.  She also has no sense of humor and is disciplined, the latter of which has been extremely difficult to write.  I keep thinking that she's coming across just as incredibly strange.

Valerie is so sweet, it's a shame she continually ends up being a total airhead, through no fault of my own(the game does it, I swear!).  She's Crystal's daughter, but neither her nor Alpha know they're cousins.  Yes, Crystal moved into Faye's old house.  Everybody's been playing musical houses in my neighborhood.


  1. Aw. I feel all bad for Alpha. She's still coming across as sweet, just quiet and calm also. Not strange really.
    And oh, James! I guess that's the end of Anne then!

    1. I'm glad to hear that Alpha isn't coming across as too strange. She is much sweeter than she should be, all things considered.

      Yeah, James finally has a good thing going on, and then he goes and knocks it up. Classic James.

  2. I like Alpha, she's very sweet, she is a little odd, but I'd expect that given her lack of socialisation since Eliza died until she went to school. I can see disciplined as being a hard trait to write, it's one of the traits where I've not quite decided what it means characterwise.

    1. I've been writing it as sort of like focused with a logical approach to matters, trying to think of what might make someone good at the zen elements of martial arts. It is a difficult trait to write, though!

  3. Wow, James can love?
    Sorry, that was cruel. I made him out to sound like a monster, he's not, and I actually love him. I'm just shocked that he'd admit to loving someone (well, I guess he didn't, really, but he was on the way)
    I'm interested to see what happens now, because you've rolled single so can't have Anna around... Hmm... More please!
    Love how he acts the perfect gentleman so much :D

    Oh, Alpha. Poor girl, she does seem a little strange, but, well... Can you blame her? Look at her father! He blew up half the town as a teenager, and managed to get away with it! I'm surprised she seems so normal, really!

    Lol at musical houses, too.
    Lol at whole chapter, actually, you always make things so funny! :D

  4. I originally had his interactions with Anne written to be very different, but then he rolled a want to marry her after she got pregnant(something that hadn't happened with Phyllis), so that's where the bit about him actually falling for her came from. Believe me, I was as surprised as you are to find out that James had a heart after all!

    She's so sweet. I think she does need a therapist though. :\


  5. I love the way you are writing Alpha. She is a little trange, but look how she's being raised. It fits.