Sunday, December 18, 2011

Studio Time: Twenty One

South Beach, West Marina: 11 PM

They didn't speak. Instead they walked hand in hand toward the hotel where Cooper stayed. He kept contact with Beth's hand brushing it with his fingers, clasping it securely before letting go of it only to repeat the process. It was not nearly enough but he didn't want to spook her so he settled for that small gesture.

When they arrived at his hotel, Coop led her up to his suite. He'd moved around a lot since they separated but this place suited him. It reminded him of the house they were renovating on Fire Island Way before it all went to shit; it felt as close to home as it could without having Beth and his little girl with him.

Fluffing a few pillows, he gestured for her to sit, paced a bit and glanced over her shoulder at the bed behind them. He would much prefer to do his talking there, show her how he felt, but that would be too much, too fast and they would be right back where they started with nothing settled. He wanted to clear the air, start again fresh and make it right.

He exhaled and then sat on the coffee table in front of her. Dangling his hands between his legs, he looked into her eyes and searched for a way to reach her, a way to unlock the door and come home.

They sat there in silence for a long time before he joined her on the seat. He turned toward her and tucked a loose tendril of hair behind her ear. "I wrote something for you. I wrote it because I don't want to go on like this. I want to come home, be with you and Hugs. Maybe we can't put it back like it was at the beginning, but I know you, and you’re not any happier than I am. You need me as much as I need you. Will you listen?"

She’d put her hair up and she was wearing something he’d never seen her wear before, and although it was attractive, it wasn’t her. She was using it as armor, shutting up her breasts and tying up her hair and hiding in there. The long bare back was the only thing left of the woman he knew and loved. Her cheeks flushed, and he was close enough to feel the heat from her body.  If he touched her neck, he knew he’d feel her pulse jump.  You can’t hide...I know you.

Hesitating, Beth looked toward the open door where the caged birds flew and settled and left and returned, watching them, letting them go, pulling back from him, looking back at him.  Familiar and distant, the one and the other. She was a little drunk. One of the best women he'd ever gotten drunk with, a lot of memories good fucking memories, but if he couldn't keep her here tonight he was going to make sure she got home safe. In a voice not much louder than a whisper, she told him, "I'm not coming back. But I'll listen."

He smiled, held her gaze for several seconds before rising and walking towards his Gibson.  Gripping it in his right hand, he settled back down across from her, positioned the guitar and ran the neck lovingly through his hand.  “I sent the lyrics home with Hugs that day she and Bunny toppled into the fountain, and I’ve been told they didn’t survive. I’m realizing that she did me a favor.”

She leaned toward him.  She always leaned into him when he sang, when he spoke, the long empty moment watching her lean and knowing if he didn't get this down, they were both lost.  And as he sang his words of love to the only woman who could inspire them, the lyrics wrapping them both in a tightening harmonic web, a web that brought the birds down, light and air and the rush of black wings as he sang her back to him.

She put one hand to her face, the diamond he had given her, the wedding ring, both of them still there, still shining, and she wept.

South Beach: Red Label Studio, Chinatown, 6 PM

Alex asked her to meet him downtown near the studio, knowing he didn't have the time now to set something up at home. The roadies were loading equipment into the van for tomorrow's RMA performance while Rob directed them, Shooter pitched in, and Duff lounged against the wall talking on his cell.  Alex left them to it and strode across the street toward the park, his own cell buzzing before he made it past the fence.  He checked it, uneasy: she was running late, she was parking.   

Alex didn't bother to return the message since she wouldn't expect it and he hadn't worked out what he was going to say.  Maybe he should offer to go ahead and take her as a date even though it no longer felt right.  He wasn't sure what her reaction was going to be when he told her about Dani; she probably wouldn't want to go with him.  It was hard to tell.  He didn't know what she was thinking or feeling and had to admit he hadn't gotten as far with her as he'd expected.  More than likely she wouldn't care, and that in itself was kind of disconcerting.

She looked ragged, and despite himself Alex couldn't help but compare her to Dani.  He pulled himself together and walked up to her. "Hey, you know what, we need to talk." Beth glanced at the trees that were still a brilliant blaze of color and shrugged. The park was empty, nothing but a tourist and somebody dealing with the dying flower beds.  She walked past him down through the arch near the pool.  "I have to tell you something," he began.

She didn't seem to hear him.  She reached up and and stroked the red dying leaves on one of the trees and then looked back and smiled.  "Okay, me too."

It was starting to feel worse than he'd anticipated.  The fountains in the pool kicked in, sputtering, spraying old water all around them.  She finally sat down on a bench and crossed her legs and looked at him. "Thanks for making me feel better."  

She stopped, glanced away, took a quick light breath and continued.  "I really mean it, Alex, but I’m ending things.  It’s not about you and it’s not about anybody else, it’s just not what I need to be doing right now.  And don’t tell me your heart is broken because it’s not.  Now it’s your turn."

Wait...what? Caught off guard, his first reaction was to persuade her otherwise, to fight back, then he realized that she was making it easy on him and went right to the heart of it. "I'm going back to Dani."  He sat down next to her. The pool fountains chugged and spurt up again, and she swept her hair back, her eyes dark, big bags under her eyes.  He struggled past some anger about Cooper and what he knew about her, which wasn't much, but she wasn't the bitch he thought she was when he started this game.

"So you were in love with her all along."  It was a quiet, satisfied statement.

"I guess...” he hesitated and looked away, grappling with how much he wanted to reveal. Things with Dani were still too new, too fragile. He hadn’t yet completely come to terms with all of it; how could he adequately explain when the words were elusive even to him? 

He turned his attention back to Beth.  “Yeah, I guess I in love with her.  You called it.  We're good, though, you and I, right? I mean, here I was thinking I’d be breaking your heart."  He smiled, relief replacing his worry.

She smiled back, shifted on the bench and took his hand.  "I did call it.  Yes, we're good.  I'm going to take off now, but we really are good, Alex.  Take good care of her. And I guess you lost the game."

She slid up off the bench and moved fast, one long stride after the other, going somewhere under the red falling leaves and the failing light, and he got up and yelled after her.

"Give it a chance, Beth.  Give it one more chance.  Do that.  Hey I know you hear me, give him a fucking chance!  And I didn't lose shit, it's not over yet!"

He expected her to keep walking. Something went down between her and Cooper, Rob was never wrong, but she stopped and looked back, letting the wind tear at her hair and the dying light ruin her face. For an instant, he thought she might have some glib comeback but she offered that enigmatic Mona Lisa smile and said nothing at all.


  1. OMG!!!!!! This was awesome! I'll leave a better comment in a moment have to feed the man and I'll be right back I promise OMG! /jump for joy!

  2. It would be nice if all of these couples were able to fix their problems. At the very least, I hope Alex and Dani are able to get express themselves more before having a go at this baby-making business. It's funny how right Alex and Cooper are about Beth and she seems to be in a state of limbo. I commend her for trying to get her head on straight but, at the very least, she should think about it some more. Really weigh out her options more.

    Can I just say that I love all the lighting and colors in this post? Super beautiful. I also love Cooper's face when he's looking at Beth. What vulnerability.

  3. Eeeeee, Studio Time update! :D

    I'm glad Alex and Beth parted on good terms; I don't know if either could've handled another bad breakup, at least not so soon. I think Alex is growing up.

    I hope Cooper and Beth can eventually work things out, but I think they both need a little more time on their own to figure out just how everything got to that point. But they're pretty much magnets for each other.

    Gorgeous all around :)

  4. Cooper said it correctly. Neither of them are happy without each other. I am happy he asked her to come home and when she said no, he continued with an expression of what he truly feels.

    What a great ending to something that wasn't meant to be. I hope Alex and Beth do remain friends and I hope Beth listens to him. Though there have been many mistakes on both parts, something feels different about Cooper this time. Almost like he grew up or is humbled by coming so close to losing the woman he loves.

    The sets are gorgeous as is the lighting for both!

  5. Ok Coop and Beth FANGIRL SQUEAL! I am so happy they talked even though much was not said they each expressed what they felt or wanted to tell the other since this whole thing started (or at least a piece of what they wanted to get out).

    I agree with Coop, Hugs did him a favor because singing to her was SO much better than her reading his words and disregarding the gesture on a piece of paper PLUS it go them within speaking range and in an intimate setting.

    I really hope they work it out. Even to become friends or cordial would make me happy.

    I was glad Beth was the one to tell Blade to kiss off though his cocky attitude of course he took it the way of "wait this is ME we're talking about" before he realized "oh wait that's what I wanted too." The fact that he admitted his feelings for Dani made me happy though and I'm glad they are working things out and planning a family together YAY!

    Wonderful update and so happy to see you back :D

    P.S. I saw Duff THREE times! You can't count NEENER! :D

  6. My god..this was beautiful..
    I could only imagine how breathtaking the song Cooper sung to Beth. Hell I would have cried too! I thought it was lovely that through all of the armor she had on, she still had her wedding ring. That was the most perfect thing ever.
    By her ending things with Alex was the best thing, and it shows that Beth is still, and will always, be in love with Cooper. Its only a matter of time before he's back home and they're a family once again!
    Team Cooper all day!

  7. Choco, I think it's going to be difficult for Alex and Dani to make it work, but his heart's in the right place. Beth is in her own hard place. Coop was not happy before they split; his anger about Ryan was right under the surface, always there. Returning to a broken relationship, even when you love the person, does require some careful thought.

    I'm so glad you liked the lighting and the color! I love building places like that even though it's a trial. And finding the exact expression is always difficult.

    Thank you from both of us!

  8. Choco: In a perfect world it would be nice for couples to be happy all the time, to be with the one they love. With Alex and Dani, there will be challenges always. The white picket fence for a rock star isn't always in the cards. Beth is on the right path to getting her life straight and deciding what she needs.


    Van: Alex is growing up - some. I hope that everyone will find their happy ever after. That doesn't always come to pass however. Cooper and Beth have a connection that goes beyond their obstacles. They always dance around each other moving in, stepping back and then returning. And for the record, I loved that shot too.

    Thank you!

    Qui: Coop is finally getting his priorities straight. He will always be the rock monster but coming so close to losing the woman that comletes him in ways that his music doesn't was a wake up call. He won't give up even if he finally loses her.


    Daijahv: Yes, 3 Duff shots! Coop wrote that note because he thought it was a foot in the door. Now he realizes that the best way to let Beth know how he feels is face to face and heart to heart. There is nothing like a love song from him to express his emotions. And yes, Alex would at first get defensive about being dumped. That doesn't usually happen to him. But it was, in the end, what they both want and need.

    Thank you so much!

    Bri:) The song is beautiful. It does seem like a matter of time before they find their way home. They are meant to be.


  9. Goodness...still so many emotions seem so raw and uncertain at this point despite things being expressed. With Beth's eyes being dark, I guess Cooper got to her in a way; couldn't say I'd be any different should I have someone to lovingly serenade me other than reading a "cold" letter.

    As goes a saying "Mukashi no koi wa wasure rarenai mono dearu" (Old love will not be forgotten) which I believe is pretty true here, ne? :D

  10. Jean, you're right he did get to her. When the truth slams you - and in this case it is Beth realizing there will never be anyone for her but Coop no matter how hard she tries to move on - it gives you pause. And a sleepless night. I love that saying! It is very true in this case.

    Thank you from both of us.

  11. Extra extra thanks to all you guys for the compliments on the shots. I love those sets and those colors, and I'm so glad some of the specific shots work. The shot of Cooper sitting on the coffee table (that was not easy to do with that pose), the shot of the wedding ring, both of them were pretty special to me. Thank you!

  12. Cooper!!!! Duff!!!!!!!!
    A two in one. It's like a sinful chocolate ice-cream with a shot of Jack Daniels! De-lish!!!

    Cooper's face in that room broke my heart. I've never seen him so vulnerable since years ago Julia's kidnapping. I felt it when she said, I'm not coming back... Is this it? Have we seen the last of Coop and Beth, as a couple? I don't like her, but I'd rather not see my baby sad...

    I am glad Alex did the right thing in breaking it off with Beth. Glad it went over smoothly too. Way to hit the bulls-eye with that last comment huh!!

    The shots were beautiful, the lighting in the park shots was daring, but you really pulled it off! I wouldn't have even tried it, for fear of failing!

    I loved it! Wonderful update, you guys! Wonderful!

  13. The shot of Beth listening to him singing says it all on this one. Just stunning, full of raw emotion for all parties involved.

    Love the colors of the shots, the autumn shades were so beautiful and added a dreamy feel to it.

    Awesome job as usual!

  14. Jean-Marie, thanks!! You know, the color of the lighting in the park shots comes from the lighting mod. I let the time of day move into 'dusk'. It was a challenge to get it lit after that happened but I liked the effect.

    Cooper is making an all out effort to get what he wants and needs. He would be very sad if he fails and it would break my heart, too.

    I've always liked Alex and I still do. I wouldn't want to be married to someone like that, but he's charming. He's growing up. He can't have Dani and play games with other women no matter how important he thinks it is to 'win'.

    Thank you from both of us!

  15. Thank you, Emily. I was really motivated by Gayl's writing to try to get just the right atmosphere and something that would illustrate that intense emotion.

    I probably overdid the autumn thing. I had a lot of holes between lots that I was trying to disguise LOL!

    Thank you!!

  16. I forgive you for the low number of Duff shots. :) LOL

    That was a great chapter. Coop and Beth's relationship is strained but neither of them are really ready to end it, that was really obvious in this chapter.

    Alex and Dani. :) I'm glad he's going to give it another shot with her. Beth is right, he has been in love with her even if he didn't recognize it before.

  17. Jean_Marie and Emily, thanks from me as well.

    Jazen, you are right, neither of them is ready to say it's over for good. Even when Beth says she is not coming back, you know there is still hope.

    Thanks again everyone.

  18. For a minute, I thought that Beth was going to leave without listening. Although she cried, she may be too afraid of getting hurt to go back to him.

    I'm glad that Alex broke things off with Beth. Now he can be totally committed to working things out with Dani.

    I just loved your pictures. They were beautiful like always!

  19. I don't think anyone in this storytelling/blogging community does more vivid, beautiful shots than the two of you do. Every single picture in this was stunning.

    I'm very impressed with Cooper right now. He really does seem very earnest and genuine about wanting to make things right with Beth. I hope they're successful but of course, they have a lot of hurdles to get over.

    Alex and Beth might have been the world's first completely mutual break-up. ;) Both of them always seemed to caught up in other people to ever be able to have a realistic go at being together. I'm really curious to see what happens with him and Dani now.

  20. Daisies, no, she wouldn't leave. She really won't ever leave even if she doesn't go back. She hurt him first, but Cooper doubled down on that. They have some old real unchanging unchangeable love, fractured but still there.

    Ilove Alex with Dani! I hope they have beautiful babies! He had to break it off.

    Thank you from both of us but a really extra thank you because I'm worried so much about the pictures.

  21. Carla, thanks about the shots. Beth is a master at it. Her shots are some of the best I've ever seen. All the care she takes, the attention to detail is unsurpassed.

    Cooper knows what he wants, what he did to break it and hopes he has one last shot at putting things back together.

    Alex and Beth's breakup was easy wasn't it? I'm not sure where we will be going yet with Alex and Dani but once we get past the RMAs, we'll see where that leads.

    Thanks from both of us.

  22. Beautiful update!

    Omg, the silent sexual tension between Beth and Cooper. Damn are those two one sexy couple. Loved your shots, just wonderful and when she teared up as Cooper sang her his song, awww! I could really feel the tension and emotion.

    I love that bird shot! Fantastic, really!

    Alex and Beth, I would've loved to have seen these two get together. I think there is definitely some fire between them but...oh well. Makes me really happy to see that Cooper wants to try again and properly, not all guns blazing! Ha!

  23. Jennifer, thanks so much from both of us. Beth manages to take shots to another level entirely. Spectacular and gorgeous.

    I agree about Alex and Beth - if she had moved on, if there was nothing left of her and Coop, she and Blade would have been combustible.

  24. Lovely and emotional moments. The writing was very descriptive.
    I can't help but to think Cooper reminds me so much of my cousin. He's a bit lost, a bit older, a bit uncertain. I had that impression of Cooper - or maybe it was hesitance or caution more than anything else for Cooper. As sweet as everyone's comments say their moments were, I actually thought they were sad. I also got the feeling that they were reaching for something, but only halfheartedly, because jumping in full could set you in barbs. (forgive my random writing... I've a fever and everything is a little brighter, sort of. ^_^) really enjoyed this.

  25. Gosh, I feel sorry for Cooper.
    Which is unusual for me (having been burned by many men in my life) but he really does seem sincere.
    I guess the truth is sometimes when you hurt somebody so badly everything changes.
    And as for Beth and Blade, well, he's done with his game anyway now and she's better off without him. And I actually love how you did the fish tank in the background, it really suits the mood! It turned out really good :)

  26. Zhippidy: Thanks so much about the writing. Sometimes it gets a little too descriptive and then its hard to shoot!

    It was sad. That two people can love so deeply and still be apart is heartbreaking. Again, thank you from us both.

    EkhoGirl: Behind the monster rock star is a man who is sincere, hurt, lonely and in love with his wife. They will never be able to have what they once did but if they get back together their relationship would definitely be stronger.

    Beth does amazing and detailed sets so I know that your comment will make her smile! Thanks so much for reading!

  27. I found the view with the caged birds breathtaking. Not just the picture, but they seem like such a fitting metaphor for their relationship.

    Alex telling Beth to give Cooper one last chance, I wasn't expecting that. It would be interesting to see how he and Dani will move on, as well.

  28. Yuxi, everything I designed and built for this chapter was about the birds. And for that reason. Thank you. YES.

    Alex is a romantic dreamer. He would advise her to give the man she loves one last chance. He had one.

    Many many many thanks.

  29. Yuxi many thanks from me as well.

    Alex being told by Dani not to come back made him realize what he was losing. He didn't love Beth, Beth doesn't love him. At some point the games you play with people's lives aren't worth what you stand to lose.

  30. I would like to read this story, I really would. It seems amazing. Sadly, I seem to have discovered it too late. I began reading Dark December just about a week before you decided to shut it down. I have tried to read the summaries as you suggested and pick up with Sessions, but there's just too much history that is now missing. It's like trying to read a trilogy by reading the first few chapters of Book 1, then the dust jacket of Book 2, and then diving right into Book 3. I am missing a huge chunk of the main characters' lives, half the characters I don't even know who they are and it's too complex a story to read from the middle, for me anyway. Good luck with Studio Time and wherever the story goes from there.

  31. Brandi, that's very, very valuable feedback. Thank you. I don't know if there's a way to keep it publicly available but not list the blog. There might be.

    Most people are not interested in the whole thing, and the early work is, at this point, 5 years old and embarrassingly rough.

    Thank you again for taking the time to let us know your reaction. We really appreciate it.

  32. Hey Brandi, I have been trying to figure out how the new blogger allows for prospective readers to request access to the private blogs. If you would like to continue reading Dark December and the rest just let me know here. There are no plans to make it public again but my hope is that anyone who really really wants to read the older can request access. I just need to figure out how to do that.

    There is so little traffic on those blogs that neither of us thought anyone would read them. Just let us know if you would like to continue.

  33. Really? Well, if it is possible I really would like to go on reading DD, SB and the rest. Would the chapter guide be accessible as well? I was dependant on that with all the back and forth between stories, lol. Anyway, let me know what I need to do. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond.

  34. No problem Brandi. I am trying to open Dark December but I seem to have further broken it. I will let you know when I have it fixed.

    It is so surprising when someone finds the older (or newer) work since we don't advertise it. How did you find us?

  35. Brandi, the chapter guide is back up and the older work is accessible. We won't be advertising the chapter guide or posting links, so here is the link again if you want to bookmark it.


    Thank you again for your feedback, your interest, and your time. And I second Gayl: I'm also curious how you found us. It is extremely rare for anyone to begin to read our work now, much less the older stuff.

  36. Thank you guys so much! Whenever I find a story like this I really like to start at the beginning and go through the whole journey. I really don't think the earlier writing is all that "rough" as you said, but one of the great things about reading a story this long is that you can see the author's growth along the way. Obviously, your newer photos are much more sophisticated, but for me the pics are not nearly as important as the text, they're just a bonus really, so even if you had walls down and plumbobs hanging in the shots it really wouldn't bother me overly much, lol.

    To answer your question, I found a link to your story on a blog roll for another story I was reading called "Edith Prescott Mysteries". I'm always on the lookout for new (or new to me) sims stories and so when I find one I like, I will often investigate the ones the author liked as well. Once I started reading Studio Time and discovered there was clearly a lot of history, I navigated myself around to the older stuff.

    Anyway, thanks again. I really appreciate you both taking the time to do that for me.

  37. Brandi, you are very welcome. We're both delighted you're enjoying it!

    I love the Ed Mystery series! She has such a unique voice, it's a pure pleasure to read.

  38. Brandi, I want to add one more thing.

    Prior to even the oldest work posted here, there was a story posted on TSR (long ago and only there now in fragments). I've tried to summarize the backstory for Rafe and Gabe and I posted it under the summary of our old work. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's important to explain who they are and where the conflict originally came from.

  39. Awesome! I'll check out that summary right now.

  40. Small snafu. It seems as though Stage and RA require an invitation to read. I'm up to Stage Chapter 21, but don't want to skip chapters if I can help it. I've signed up for a google account, does that help?

  41. Brandi, I will open them up for you. One sec...

  42. It seems like everyone is clearing the air, which is good. Beth breaking down seems like a step in the right direction. She looks so tired, and that is to be expected. I love the way it went down between her and Blade--it was simple and direct. Perfect!

  43. Thanks Rachel. Coop is communicating with her in one of the two best ways he can - with his music.

    Beth is definitely going in the right direction here. Stepping back and assessing. Knowing that she doesn't want to waste time in a relationship that isn't going anywhere and never will. That she and Blade can be friends and end things amicably is rare but fitting for them both.

    Thanks from both of us!