Chapter 9

It didn’t hurt as much as she thought it would, getting her tattoo. Maybe she just had a high tolerance for pain. Grace headed into the bathroom to look in the mirror to get a better look at her new tattoo. She was thrilled that she got it.

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“Okay, you want to keep this covered for 24 hours then after, put this lotion on it to help it heal. Next week, it will start to peel and be itchy as hell. Fight every urge to scratch it or you will ruin your tattoo.” Grace nodded her head excitedly. Stepping out into the cool evening, Grace’s eyes fell once again on the abandoned vehicle. Angelo followed her gaze and saw how longingly she was looking at the old truck.

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“So now that I’ve given you directions on how to get to Magnolia Promenade, how are you going to get there? Walk? That’s a couple hundred miles away.” Angelo said.

“Yep. I will walk. One day at a time.” Grace responded.

“Okay, two things. One, is that all you have for clothes?” Angelo asked, pointing at Grace’s outfit.

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“Yep. Seriously, when I left, I didn’t really think this though very much.” Grace explained.

“Come with me.” Angelo gestured, walking towards another one of the hotel rooms. Grace followed Angelo up the stairs and to another hotel room door. Stepping inside, he flicked on the light and walked towards a closet. Reaching in, he turned and handed Grace a bag.

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“What’s this?” Grace asked.

“After my sister died, I had a hard time parting with any of her stuff. But that was years ago. I never got around to donating the last of her clothes. Here…” Angelo said, unzipping the bag. “You guys are about the same size. Now, she had some wild taste in clothes, but it will get you by.”

“Angelo… I can’t… this is too much. You’ve done so much for me already.” Grace said.

“Grace, please. I’ve led a tough life. It makes me happy to be able to help others. My sister would have wanted you to have these. And I do too.” Angelo said, pushing the bag towards Grace.

“Thank you.” Grace whispered quietly, her eyes tearing up.

“Now, on to the second problem you have. Transportation.” Angelo said, heading back out of the room. Grace followed, giving him a curious smile.

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Author’s Note: Did you see the hidden image in this chapter? A Sims 3 item made it into one of these photos! Who will see it first? If you see it, shout it out in the comments below!

Chapter 8

After her bath, Grace threw on the only set on clothes she had. They were filthy. She would have to wash them in the sink and hang them on the shower rod tonight before she left in the morning. Remembering Angelo was in Room 101, Grace headed out of her room to show him her new bright pink hair. Room 101 was just a few doors down from her room. Knocking lightly, Grace waited for the door to open.

“It’s about damn time, Vito, you’re 2 hours late.” Angelo said, angrily opening the door.

“Oh! I’m so sorry. Hey! You look amazing!”

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“Thank you. I love it. The box said that it was Demi-Permanent so it will wash out eventually. But for now, I love being pink.” Grace smiled, flicking her new pink locks over her shoulder. “Your appointment never showed up?”

“Nah. I’m pissed too. I have everything all set up.” Angelo said, gesturing to the table of metal instruments behind him. Stepping into the room Grace looked at the wall of framed photos behind him.

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“Oh, that’s some of my recent work. The rest is in the binder over there.” Angelo said, pointing to the table. Looking closer, Grace saw a tattoo of birds in flight that touched her heart.

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Remembering a quote that she read in a book once, Grace closed her eyes and reflected on the black and white words she read all those years ago:

 

“What if I fall?”

“Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”

 

Here she was, miles away from the orphanage, in flight, a freedom of her own.

“I want that tattoo.” Grace said, pointing at the birds.

“Well…uhhh…” Angelo hesitated.

“You’re all set up anyways. Please, it would mean so very much to me.” Grace pleaded, looking into Angelo’s eyes.

“Okay. But under Laurel’s rules, I am not to charge you for a thing. So I can’t take any money for this.” Angelo explained.

“I won’t let you do it for free.” Grace said, sternly.

“Trust me, Laurel owes me her world famous meatloaf. That will be payment enough.” Angelo said smiling.

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Chapter 7

Wrapping a towel around her head, and slipping into the bathtub, Grace settled into the hot water and closed her eyes. It had been a long evening, but she had done it. She was so excited. It was much easier than she thought. She didn’t know what she was so afraid of. It turned out she didn’t have any reaction to the latex, at least nothing yet. Letting her muscles relax, she let go of the tension she was carrying.

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“Okay, the plan is to get directions from Angelo tonight to Magnolia Promenade and leave first thing in the morning.” Grace whispered to herself. Grace kept trying to relax but the excitement of her evening kept rushing through her. Eager to see if she looked any different, Grace pulled the plug in the tub to drain the water and walked over to the mirror. Standing there with her eyes closed, she let out a deep breath and opened her eyes slowly. She did look different. Totally different. And she loved it!

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Chapter 6

“Wow, this is nice.” Grace thought as she looked around the room. “Way nicer than the orphanage.”

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Grace smiled when she remembered what was in her bag. Walking over to the bed, she sat down and reached into the plastic bag. Grabbing for the small rectangular box, she tore it open and she dumped the contents onto the bed spread. Excited to see the directions, she opened them up and was thrilled to see diagrams.

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Setting the directions down, she realized something. She didn’t know if she was allergic to latex. She had heard horror stories of hives and rashes.

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Trying to rationalize with herself, she thought, “Well, it won’t be near my skin for longer than what…10 minutes? I could do this.” Grace stood, walked into the bathroom, and stared at herself in the bathroom mirror.

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“I’m doing this tonight.” Grace said out loud, psyching herself up. “I have no idea how, but I am too excited not to. People do this everyday, I can do it too.” Wondering if she would feel different afterwards, she smiled at herself in the mirror. Taking a mental photo of herself. The last time she would see herself as a “virgin.”

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Chapter 5

Walking into the convenience store, Grace saw that she could get everything she needed to get by. Basic toiletries and snacks littered the shelves. It was tempting to buy a treat for herself, but Grace really had to watch how much money she was spending. The money in the duffle bag was her future. It was supposed to buy her a house. And with the amount in the bag, it was going to buy her a very, very nice house.

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Grace headed over to a shelf that had toiletries and other odds and ends and as she was reaching for a toothbrush, her hand knocked over a small rectangular box. Bending over to pick it up, Grace hesitated when she saw what it was. It looked like an evening filled with a good time. Smiling to herself, Grace picked up the box.

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She didn’t know how to use it. Looking at the check out boy behind the counter, she guessed that he wouldn’t know how to use it either.

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Turning the box over, Grace looked for directions.

“I wonder if there’s instructions inside. Maybe something with diagrams?” Grace thought to herself. Screw it, she could use a good time, she decided. Tossing the tiny box into her basket, she realized she didn’t know if you needed an ID to buy the package.

“Hi.” Grace said shyly to the young check out clerk.

“Hi, did you find everything you were looking for?” He asked, pulling items out of Grace’s basket and placing them on the counter.

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“Yes.” Grace said, looking down, trying to avoid eye contact. She felt so awkward. She hoped he wouldn’t ask for her ID.

“Looks like you’re headed out for a vacation.” The boy said as he was scanning her toothpaste and travel shampoo and conditioner.

“Yep, just a quick trip to Magnolia Promenade.” Grace said, fidgeting nervously with the lighters on display.

“Oh…” The check out boy picked up her last item. “Looks like you’re going to have a good time tonight.” He teased with a raised eyebrow, scanning Grace’s final item.

 

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“Yeah.” Grace said, embarrassed and thankful that he didn’t ask for her ID. She had never bought anything like it before and had no idea what the protocol was. Handing him the amount owed, she grabbed her bags and dashed across the street and into her hotel room.

 

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Author’s Note: A special thank you to BBQPenguinWings for making the checkout counter Sim! Isn’t he adorable?! Thank you sooooo much BBQPenguinWings for making him for me for this special chapter. And guess what everyone?! Not only does BBQPenguinWings make awesome Sims, (and amazing builds) but she’s an awesome Simlit writer, too! Check out her incredible stories HERE!

Also, did you see the hidden image in this chapter? A Sims 3 item made it into one of these photos! Who will see it first? If you see it, shout it out in the comments below!

Chapter 4

Feeling awful, Grace stood there as she watched Angelo’s face darken as he reminisced about his sister.

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“When we were little, my nickname for her was Skittles. We used to go to the Kwik-E-Mart and buy bags of Skittles, dump them in our mouths and pull out the chewed up wads to see if we could still see all of the colors.” Angelo laughed softly. “Then, as she got older, she dyed her hair Skittles colors as our own inside joke. She was fun. Very free-spirited. It’s funny the things you remember when you lose someone.” Angelo continued, looking off into the distance, sadly. “Anyway, your room is number 108. I have an appointment to tattoo someone at 7pm tonight so if I’m not here at the counter, I will be in Room 101 if you need anything at all.”

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“Thank you. I really appreciate this.” Grace said, truly thankful for his help.

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Heading out into the parking lot, Grace decided that she wanted to grab some necessities before she headed to her room to take a long hot bath. Crossing the street, Grace made a mental list of items she needed to buy.

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Chapter 3

Tummy full of meatloaf, Grace thanked Laurel and headed next door to the Motel. Eager for a hot shower and a comfortable bed, Grace kept her hopes high that she would be able to stay at the motel for the night, get directions to Magnolia Promenade, and leave early the next morning. Walking through the parking lot, Grace passed by two cars. One of the vehicles was an old yellow truck that looked like it had been sitting there abandoned for awhile.

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“I wish I had a car.” Grace though to herself.  “That would make things so much easier.” With a heavy sigh, Grace shuffled inside the lobby of the motel. A man was there, standing behind the counter on the phone. He raised his hand, smiled, and signaled that he would be with her in a moment. Grace nodded and smiled back. Looking around the lobby, Grace noticed a few photos that were hanging on the wall.

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Stepping closer, Grace saw that there were two photos. One was of a beautiful girl with bright, happy eyes and even brighter colored hair. The other photo was of the same girl and the man that was on the phone behind the counter. Grace couldn’t stop looking at the girls hair. It was gorgeous.

“I wish I could have pink hair.” Grace thought.

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“Thanks, man. I’ll see you tonight at 7pm.” The man said. Hanging up the phone, he looked over at Grace.

“Hi. Looking for a room?” He said, smiling at Grace.

“Uhh…yes…uhhh.. Laurel sent me here for a room.” Grace said, quietly. She wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Laurel was nice enough to feed her for free but could Grace really get a free room just by mentioning Laurel’s name?

“Oh!” The man said, surprised, “Of course! I have a room available for you. No charge. My name is Angelo, let me get you keys to a room. How long would you like to stay?” Angelo said, walking around the hotel front desk to hand room keys to Grace. Grace was shocked. How was it that she came across so many nice people?

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“Um, only one night. I just really appreciate the help.” Grace said, embarrassed that she was relying on the help of others so much.

“You can stay as long as you need. We all need a helping hand from time to time.” Angelo smiled, reassuringly as he handed Grace the keys to the room.

“I left in such a hurry, I didn’t grab a toothbrush, clothes, food, and necessities. Is there anywhere nearby that I can get some stuff?” Grace asked.

This sunflower

“There’s a Kwik-E-Mart that’s open 24 hours across the street.” Angelo said, pointing across the way. As he pointed, Grace noticed a tattoo on his arm.

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“Oh, wow. That’s cool.” Grace gushed.

“Oh, thanks. My sister drew it for me.” Angelo said, motioning towards the girl in the photo hanging on the wall. “I tattooed it on myself. In the hours I’m not running this desk, I do tattoos under the table in Room 101 here. People just show up and look in my photo album of work I’ve done and I tattoo them on the spot. Given they have the cash, of course.” Angelo said with a wink.

“She’s beautiful. I love her bright colored hair.” Grace said with a smile. As Angelo looked at the photo, his face fell.

“Yeah. She was beautiful.” Grace picked up on the past tense and instantly felt horrible. His sister was dead.

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*Author’s note: A special thank you to Writtenfae as she let me borrow her gorgeous Abigail Blackmoore for this chapter. Writtenfae writes the amazing, “Blackmoore Legacy”. A Sims 4 Legacy Challenge. Check out her story HERE.

Chapter 2

Grace walked down the long road and soon made it to the diner Mac was talking about. Hot, sweaty, and hungry, Grace opened the door and walked into the cool air-conditioned diner.

“Hey, doll. You must be the young girl Mac called me about.” A cheerful voice said from behind the counter.” Go pick a seat and I’ll bring you a plate of food after I finish with these bottles here.” The waitress said, gesturing at the condiment bottles in front of her.

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Grace made her way to a back corner booth and slid in. The cool air was such a welcome treat and the amazing smells that filled the diner made Grace even hungrier. The mix of the walk to the diner in the blazing hot sun and the poor sleep she got on the train was starting to catch up to her. With a wide yawn, Grace put her head down on the table and within minutes she was asleep.

“You poor thing.” The waitress said, putting a plate of food on the table. “Here, eat up. You’ll feel right as rain soon enough. My name is Laurel. But I’m sure Mac already told you that.” Laurel said as she winked at Grace. Looking down at the plate, Grace saw that Laurel had brought her a full plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy and warm biscuits.

“Oh, wow. Thank you. Thank you so much.” Grace was so touched by Laurel ‘s kindness, she started to cry.

 

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“Oh, dear. Look, I’m not sure where you came from, but I was down on my luck once. Many years ago. Some kind people took me in and got me back on my feet. I’ve made it a point in my life to always pay that kindness forward.” Laurel said as she slid into the booth and patted Grace’s hand. Grace opened her mouth, started to speak, but closed her mouth again. She had never known such genuine kindness.

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“If you need a place to stay for the night, you can head next door. Mac and I are working overtime through the night and we aren’t headed back home until late tomorrow or else we would have invited you to stay with us for the night.” Laurel explained.  “After you eat, head next door and ask for Angelo. I’ll let him know you’re coming. He’ll get you set up. No charge. He’s… had a tough time too and he believes in paying it forward also.” Laurel said, giving Grace a comforting smile.

 

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“Thank you.” Grace said, in a quiet voice. Picking up her fork, she dug in hungrily into the meatloaf. Laurel gave Grace an encouraging smile, stepped out of the booth to got back to work.

“I need a plan.” Grace thought to herself in between bites. “I just need to get organized first.”

 

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Chapter 1

“Hey, kid, you can’t stay here.” said a gruff voice.
“Mmmfph.” Grace grumbled, as she rolled over. The railcar floor was hard and cold. It was any wonder she was able to get any sleep at all.
“No, really, you need to skedaddle. There’s people coming to unload these railcars and you don’t want to get caught sleeping in here.” The voice said, concerned. Grace opened her eyes and rolled over. A sweet faced older man was standing at the open door of the railcar.

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“Thank you for the heads up. I’ll get going.” Grace said. As Grace was getting up, her stomach let out a loud plea for food. Grace couldn’t remember the last time she ate something. She had left so quickly the day before. She didn’t pack any clothes, food, or toiletries. The man helped Grace down out of the rail car and with a gentle smile, he introduced himself.

“The name is Mac. You must be starved.” Mac said, with a kindness to his voice.

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“Yeah. I…I don’t remember when I ate last. Where are we?” Grace said, looking around. She didn’t recognize anything. She had no idea how long she was asleep on the train.

“We are just outside Oasis Springs. It’s a huge city.” Mac explained. “Hey, if you’re hungry, there’s a diner about 5 miles down the road. My wife, Laurel works there. She makes an amazing meatloaf that you just gotta try. I’m sure she would make you a plate of food.”

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“But I…” Grace cringed as she started to explain that she didn’t have any money but would have felt bad lying. Of course she had some money. There was loads of it in the duffle bag that sat next to her on the ground. But she didn’t want to spend any money because she knew she was going to need every penny to start her new life and to find Sophie.

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“No worries.” Mac said, seeing the worry in Grace’s face. “You tell Laurel that Mac sent you. She will take care of your meal. You wouldn’t have to pay.” Mac said. Grace started to tear up a little, she was so touched. She couldn’t figure out why this man was being so sweet to her, but she was grateful for his kindness.

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“I can’t leave work to take you as I need to oversee the trains being unloaded, but you head on down the road there and Laurel will take care of you.” Mac said, turning as he walked away. Grabbing the duffle bag, Grace headed down the road towards some food. Beyond that, she had no idea what she was going to do next or how she was going to get to Magnolia Promenade.

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