Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Studio Time: Twenty Three






Theater District - The Breakers - 7:45 PM




Cooper stepped from his limo, tall and confident, and surveyed the familiar scene playing out in front of him. He’d been here before- it was nothing new. Fans, mostly women, lined the sidewalks hoping to catch the eye of their favorite performer. Flashes from cameras stuttered like strobes as each car drove up and someone emerged from behind their darkened windows.



Ahead of him, a throng of reporters surrounded Blade, their mics thrust in his face. He worked the crowd with his usual arrogant confidence. Next to him was his date. All Coop could see of the woman that stood beside him was her legs, long and ivory-colored, in a pair of 'come fuck me' shoes. Not the tanned legs he'd anticipated seeing. Not Beth.




He released the breath he'd been holding and waited as the crowd surrounding Blade parted. As if she could feel the intensity of his gaze, the woman turned and met it with equal curiosity. Blade, noticing her interest, turned his head, and looked right at him. His expression changed exposing momentary surprise but Blade recovered quickly, nodded once in Coop's general direction before possessively placing his arm around his woman, and swiftly guiding her through the crowd.




The rumors were true— Blade had reconciled with Danica.  Hope flooded through him like a tidal wave as Coop turned toward the limo and offered his hand to the young woman who accompanied him. Her fingers wrapped around his arm, Cooper covered it with his own hand before releasing it. He smiled warmly. "You look gorgeous, sweetheart. Come on, let's go make some noise."





Striding confidently along the red carpet Cooper acknowledged fans and waved to the crowd as he escorted Rayne toward the entrance. As Blade entered the theater, Cooper's voice, rough and dark, commanded the attention of the media. "This is my daughter, Rayne...Rainie, come on over here."

Before every awards night he’d attended, Coop always got an adrenaline rush. Not tonight. A sense of calm washed over him. His purpose had shifted, his focus switched to something more meaningful than his music - it rested squarely on family. Win or lose tonight, the only prize he wanted to take home was his wife.

***






Purposely circumventing the hordes of paparazzi on the red carpet, Duff stood in the shadows, exactly where he wanted to be, and observed. It was not that he minded the attention but this evening he wished to avoid the distraction. He wanted his focus elsewhere— on her.

Cooper Stanfield escorted Rayne through the throng of fans, her hand resting in the crook of his arm while he maneuvered her past the cameras. Duff was pleased with the way she carried herself, just as he had instructed her, tall and elegant, shoulders back, and eyes slightly averted downward. She moved with sensual grace.



Her dress was not what he would have selected for her. Fine fabrics that showed her off to perfection were more suitable. Had he been dressing her tonight, she would have worn a creamy silk that clung to every curve, every peak and valley. When she walked, the fabric would sweep along the length of her legs, and he would have insisted she wear nothing under it. Afterward he would take her home, tear the fabric from her body, and take her against the wall—


"Careful Duff, your hard-on is showing." He grabbed a quick breath, let it go, annoyed with himself for reacting. It was Rob. Rob standing behind him, coming from nowhere, delivering his usual edict. Duff did not bother to look at him, but he knew Rob's attention was riveted to the scene unfolding on the red carpet.

"I assume you haven't fucked her yet which means this obsession will continue."


"Stay out of this one Rob. I know what I'm doing." Duff shifted his stance and continued to watch Rayne. She murmured something to her father, glanced up and locked eyes with him briefly, and he nodded his head slightly in approval. Her mouth curved up, then she returned her attention to Cooper.  It was difficult to look away from her, and he waited for her to look back.  She did not.



Rob gestured toward Cooper and Rayne.  Rob was always wound so tight you could hear the gears grind, but they all thought he would ease up after he finally dumped Syd.  He did not seem to miss the woman but neither had he relaxed, looked elsewhere, anything.   "He doesn't know, does he. Cooper knows what a depraved prick you are. He will cut off your balls and nail them to the wall, and then he'll rip the rest of us apart on principle. Shooter is finished and wants you out, and I'm not far behind him. We're not taking on Cooper for your sake."

It was an expected attack, not entirely without merit, but he had pulled more than his weight for the band, and he thought it unlikely that Cooper would spend time or energy on him.  The man had many other issues.   "We carried Alex when he couldn't get his head out of his ass."


Rob glanced back at Rayne and shook his head. "You're not Alex.  I have someone I can replace you with, and I'll do it.  You'll forget that girl as soon as you take her down.  I'm giving you a chance, drop it, walk away."



Stung, Duff drew back.  He could come back, perhaps he could, perhaps he could find another band.  If he could not, then he could not.  Ultimately, he'd given more than Rob knew or ever would know, but he would not walk away from Rayne.  His voice low, he leveled his eyes at Rob, warning him, before giving in once again, turning to watch her move. "I said stay out of it. She is a consenting adult and she's mine."


***

The evening stretched out longer than Coop anticipated. Mercury Rising took home nearly every award they’d been nominated for and the band performed their latest platinum hit, a raucous song that had a few of the fans tossing lingerie on the stage. He had to laugh - even at an awards event, the fans managed to turn their performance into a hardcore rock-fest.





Everything after that passed by in a blur for him. He now found himself at an after-party systematically working his way through the crowd. His focus fixed on his destination and only one thing could possibly prevent him from getting what he wanted - the woman’s husband. Cooper was determined to get the answers he needed and she was the one who had them. Not even Rafe was going to stop him. Not this time.



He reached out and took hold of her arm, gently pulling her toward him. “We need to talk.” She turned toward him, surprise showing in her expression. She glanced quickly at Rafe who glared and growled quietly, “You want to take your hands off my wife?” Rafe appeared fully prepared to physically remove not only his hand but his head as well.



“Look, I need a minute, that’s all, just a minute of her time and I promise I’ll walk away. All I need is an answer to one, simple question.” Rafe could agree or not - he wasn’t leaving until he got what he came for.  Rafe crossed his arms on the bar counter between a cocktail and a glass of ale, arched one eyebrow and studied him.  His wife's knight.  The Lombardo family patron.  Fuck him.



“I know Hugs is at your house - a sleepover with Autumn right? And I know Beth isn’t here. I’m pretty sure you know where she is and I need you to tell me before your husband has a chance to rip my head off.”



She smiled at him, the way she would smile at a child - patient, maybe a little indulgent, and sympathetic. “I did ask her to come with us. She said no. I don’t know where she is, Cooper. All I know is that she mentioned something about going back to the beginning.”



Back to the beginning. Cooper’s grin nearly stretched from ear to ear. Impulsively, he grabbed Gayl, pulled her into a tight hug, and stepped back. “Thank you.” 



He shifted his gaze toward Rafe, tilted his head in a gesture of thanks, and headed for the door.  He didn't waste time responding to someone calling his name, wanted to get the hell out of here, but there was one more stop, one more, one he could have skipped, but he wouldn't.  Not this time.


***




She wasn't sure she could ever eat again.  Rayne stared at the spread and tried not to think.  He could be right behind her.  He could be on the other side of the room.  He could be downstairs.  The desire was an underground fire.  She wouldn't let it burn through, but it smoked.  It shook her hands and filled her mind and made her stupid; it made her vulnerable.  Fighting through it, she tried to focus on the twins.  Nate flirting. laughing, every little bit their father's son; Eric standing beside a girl he might be protecting, might like, or maybe not since she could never read him.  He had their mother's long pale eyes, and he used them to open a chasm instead of a door.  She remembered when they were born.  It was right after --



She needed a drink.  She needed to stop worrying about Jimmy.  She needed to be with Duff.

"Rayne?"




Startled, she turned, looking up at her father.  He'd torn it up tonight, and he looked pretty good.  He looked calm.  "I'm leaving you on your own here, Rainie.  There's something I need to do.  Will you make sure the boys get back?   They were here a minute ago but I don't see them now."


As if they needed help. She was a lot more worried about him but she didn't know how to tell him, and she was struggling to focus. Would he be okay? He would, he had to be okay, if he was going to hunt down her mother, she was probably waiting for him somewhere. He wouldn't do it unless he believed it, and if he believed she was waiting, she was. If she wasn't, she better be dead. The old anger rose in her throat. She swallowed it; she didn't know shit about her mother and couldn't judge.  "I will.  I love you, Dad."  


He held on, whispered, "I love you, too, Raindrop.  You make me proud."


Rayne watched him move quickly through the crowd, stepping into the elevator, going somewhere.  


And there she was, left with all the after-party people looking in her direction, probably wondering why Cooper brought his daughter and why he was leaving so abruptly, like maybe he had a real date stashed out there in the dark. She recognized most of them: that was Jason Mitchell and that girl he was going to marry, Randi's cousin or something but Randi had a lot of cousins so maybe not, and that other guy...no, she didn't know him. She didn't know the redhead. She might have met the other woman but she wasn't sure and didn't care.



She went out onto the balcony where she couldn't smell the food and leaned over it and stayed there. He knew she was here. She'd seen him looking at her. She'd seen it and now all she could do was look at lights on the other side of the bay because what the hell else could she do but wait.











In that moment between one thought and another thought, she knew he was there.  He was so close, if she breathed, she would breathe on his skin.  He didn't move.  He waited.  She let him wait while she kept looking out over the balustrade at the restless water in the bay, her pulse racing. He didn't like it when she took the lead, he might not agree just on principle, but she turned and looked up at him. It was a simple thing, after all.  "I want to go home, and I need a ride."



Duff took her hand. He'd been on stage. She could smell the sweat, and she felt the heat in his skin as he tightened his grip on her hand. Somebody changed the music, somebody called her name, it didn't matter, nothing mattered but what he would say. He smiled. "I could be persuaded to offer one."


Old County Beach - 12:21AM




Cooper pulled up, slowing, kicking the brake back with the heel of his boot, settling the bike in the rough sand. He knew this place. The place with the blue roof and the red doors, the wind coming in hard from the west, the split rock, the land falling down to a long uneven spit of beach. She'd parked her car in the overgrown drive behind the house and turned on the porch light: she was here.


He'd been there burning a campfire, running chords on his guitar, Slim bringing the booze and Aidan bringing the pot and there had been girls, always the girls. Thunder in the air, and a girl walked out of the scrub on the south side and looked at him.

They were just kids but the impact when their gazes locked that first time had been profound. So much had passed from then until now and for the longest time, he didn't remember. He'd moved on, had many women since then, and even loved one other. But his dreams, always in his dreams, he went back to her. She was his heart and soul, the one who grounded him, the one who allowed him to soar, the one who pulled him up out of the darkness.


He heard the hinge on the screen door, the rusty squeak as she forced it open and then let it bang shut behind her.  Hesitating a moment, he was certain she was here alone, but he waited, watching her walk down through the tall grass to the beach.  She didn't look back.

He ran through what he wanted to say. There wasn't anything left to say.  Fuck it.  He didn't need words with her.  He was not leaving here without her.  Shoving the brush aside, boots sinking into the deep sand, he followed her down the slope to the shore.



She heard him.  She grabbed something, driftwood probably, brandishing it, reminding him of the way she'd attacked McDermott with the pipe. If there was any justice in the universe, that son of a bitch would wear that bruise the rest of his life.  The stack of wood at her feet was unlit; she'd never mastered lighting a campfire.



"Beth." He called softly to her, whispering her name, knowing she would hear him. She turned, startled, alarmed,then her face lit up when she recognized him. She smiled, tried to suppress it, failed, and stood there open and vulnerable and waiting for him.  God how he loved her.

"Cooper? What are you doing here? I thought...why aren't you at the RMA's?"



He knelt, found the lighter she'd dropped in the sand and lit the campfire. The flame ran through the dry grass, caught, held, burned, and he watched it for a few moments before he sat down and looked up at her though the flying fire. "I was there. I missed you. I left, and here I am."



She smiled but didn't answer.  Getting to his feet as the wind lifted her hair, he reached out, took the length of it,  fisted it, tightening his grip and pulling her close. She touched his face. Her hand trembled but it was warm and Coop turned his face into it and placed a gentle kiss into her palm. His lips moved softly against her palm. "You hold my heart, baby. Always."


She didn’t pull away but her eyes closed briefly as if she struggled to maintain her control. "I'm poison to you, Coop. I love you, I love you so much but I just can't hurt you anymore."


He pulled her into his arms and held on tight.  "Yeah, you are poison, my poison. You hurt me, you burn me, but I don't want the cure. I'm not leaving you out here hurting as damned much as I'm hurting. Take me baby, take me home."


176 Shore Drive, Bayview: 2 PM



Two o'clock in the afternoon, and Cooper finally pulled up, parked, and started toward the door.  He didn't get far before Hugs came hurtling around from the back piping Daddy Daddy!  It had been a long night.  The girls hadn't slept; Autumn's bird got out and scared Hugs; Randi called before he'd had his second cup of coffee, needing money for another camera.

Rafe leaned into a quick, tired embrace.  "I thought he'd never show up.  The man must sleep all damned day long.  What was all that about hunting for Beth at the beginning?"

"It was a chance for both of them."


He knew better by now not to push it; they'd agreed to disagree on Cooper and Beth years ago. Still, unable to resist poking at her a little, Rafe chuckled and shook his head. "Doesn't look like it worked, babe."





As Cooper reached down to grab his daughter, the car door slammed again.  Beth Stanfield, long legged and barefoot, walked out from behind the vintage Mustang with the vanity plates, stepped over the curb, and looked up and smiled at them.  Cooper was hefting Hugs into his arms, struggling a little as he tried to hold her, his attention on his daughter, but he stood hip to hip with the woman and briefly shot one long look in his direction. There was no doubt, none, that they were back together.  


Rafe drew a long, uncomfortable breath.  Nothing about that couple made any sense, but he was, once again, proved wrong.  He had never believed it would work, and still did not, but he hoped, for her sake, that being wrong would be right for her.  "It looks," his wife said with soft satisfaction "as though it finally did."


58 comments:

  1. I love you, and I love your writing.

    This was beautiful.

    Is it the end? Because you know I've always loved Rayne, and I want better for her. I want Jimmy for her.

    Maybe Beth and Cooper will grow up together. I once loved a person who was poison to me, but he wasn't interested in growing so I had to move on - and I've already got my husband, who does grow with me and who doesn't actively try to hurt me.

    So yeah. I hope they find what John and I have. I'd say they're both already miles ahead of Hoopty, because they're both willing to admit that they've been wrong and to work on it.I wish them well.

    I also wish you well. You know that my inbox is open if you ever need to talk, and you know that I love you.

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    1. Oh honey, thank you. I don't know if it's the end. It's hard right now. It is an end of sorts. Things will be different after this.

      Rayne is a complicated character. Jimmy was there when she needed somebody like Jimmy, but she didn't need him for very long. She'll look back. I doubt she'll go back.

      Cooper and Beth circle each other like stars. The gravity well sucks other people in, and they fight, and pull back, but they need each other and love each other. It's one long fierce exchange they really cannot and will never share with anyone else.

      Sending you much love. Don't you give up.

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    2. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment medleymisty. We both appreciate it more than I can say. Glad you loved the writing. It came from the heart. As always.

      I wish you well too. Although I seem to have lost my connection with many people, I still think of everyone often. That you took time to leave a comment is much appreciated.

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  2. Every time I read from this story, I am transported to another place. Each word drips emotion, some raw, some sweet, such a mix that touches the heart. Thank you for this, I needed this today :)

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    1. The transport is our mutual pleasure. It's raw and bleeding but I hope it bleeds some sweet hope as well. Thank you, so much!

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    2. Thank you from me as well! This didn't come as easy as we'd hoped but there is a definite sense of satisfaction now that its done.

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  3. This was, as always, beautifully written and shot, evoking so much emotion for me. It has been long road for Cooper and Beth to get back to this place and now that they have, all I kept thinking as I read this was: this is the end...of something. Maybe I'm a masochist but as much as I love the two of them together there is something deeply and beautifully painful about watching them fight for what they have; watching them cherish it and then tear it apart only to want it back again. The history between them is epic and to coin a horrible soap opera phrase, they are my "super couple." I have loved every moment of this story and if this is the end I can rest easy in the knowledge that they are happy in the crazy, beautiful love they share.

    And if history could repeat itself in a similar, yet completely unique way, I would say that Rayne and Duff certainly have the makings of a relationship with same kind of passion, pain, and fireworks.

    Once again, WONDERFUL update :)

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    1. And you know that's why we wrote it to pair them like that.

      I cannot even tell you how much I love what you write and create, and how much it means to know that you got it. They rip each other up but there's no love or peace for either of them without the other. No matter how insane, how hard, they come back together.

      Thank you. Thank you THANK YOU!!

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    2. Thank you Musegoddess for sticking with us after all this time. It is the end of something. Finally. I'm not good at endings. Finality. It was time though for this bunch. Super couple is a great description of these two.

      There are plans in the works for Rayne and Duff. Might as well let that cat out of the bag too. Hopefully you won't wait 5 months for it!

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  4. I think I'm going to cry.
    Aside from that this was emotionally, and visually beautiful!

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    1. You make me cry so we're even.

      From both of us, thank you.

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    2. Qui coming from you that means a lot. Your work is equally breathtaking.

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  5. I'm in awe of every picture. The sets are just breathtakingly gorgeous--it looks so real, so lifelike. It's not something I thought could be accomplished with The Sims. The scenes must have taken forever to stage.

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    1. Thank you so much! Actually, the scenes weren't hard to stage. Not at all. All the hard work was building the sets. The relationships took over and it was not difficult to stage them or take the shots once they were there. I had to move some of them closer and obviously there were some poses, but the people part was a piece of cake compared to building the sets.

      From both of us, thank you!

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    2. Aren't the shots gorgeous? Breathtaking is a perfect description. So good you don't even need the words to know what's going on.

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  6. This was wonderful. It feels like we've been leading to this for a long while and I'm glad Beth and Cooper are finally together again. It seems like a good end, or end of sorts, as you say. They just belong together, even though there have been many times when it didn't seem healthy for either of them.

    And I have to mention that the pictures here were amazing as always! I can tell how much effort you put into the sets - they're almost like characters themselves. They really add so much. Just stunning!

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    1. Aren't the sets gorgeous? They are much more than sets as you say. Characters.

      So glad you liked how it finished. I always knew we would get here, just had no idea it would take this long.

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  7. Woooow!! This was just...

    I know I haven't kept up with commenting but this just blew me out of the water. The sets, the dialogue and emotions. This packed such a bunch and while it brought some things together it left you wondering about other things. You two are just so awesome and it's been a pleasure reading your work and adoring your visuals.

    It's beyond words how much you kinds bring to Sim storytelling and just storytelling in general! ♥

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    1. Phoenix!! Just thank you THANK YOU! We wanted this to be a really good ending, and I'm so glad you think it works.

      The sets are just illustrations, hard won but nothing more than that. Gayl writes the heart of everything. She's publishing so I hope everyone will read what she's writing.

      And thank you. You are such an inspiration!!

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    2. Phoenix there is never an issue over commenting. Sometimes it's just hard to do that. All I can say is thank you for reading it and for always being so supportive.

      Thank you so much

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  8. Aaaaah, the one time I leave my house, you update XD

    Such a perfect post. Not sure if it's the end end (I hope it's not, but understand if it is), but it's a fitting end to this arc, for sure. I think Cooper and Beth have finally figured out that they can't really lose each other, and now that they know that, they'll be stronger for it, make more of an effort for themselves and the kids.

    I've been pretty bad about all things social lately, but I hope things have been going well for both of you. Gayl, I'm still so happy for you and your book! :D

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    1. Van, thank you. It was such a huge project, it became overwhelming. So many complicated sets to build and fix. I'm relieved it's done. I want to spend some time catching up with my reading (including Naroni).

      I think that is a perfect description. They know they can't lose each other. Everything else will work itself out.

      If we continue, and I think we probably will, the focus will be much tighter. These particular characters can go home and we won't be messing up their lives anymore, though!

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    2. Sorry this took me awhile to respond to. Van, it will never be the end for me. I have so much invested in these characters and their stories, I don't think I will ever walk away from them. This arc however is done. I'm giving Coop and Beth a well deserved vacation!

      I do want you to know that there is never an issue with leaving comments. I've been following yours in lurk mode too. Just knowing how you supported us all along is enough for me. Thank you so much.

      And thanks about the book too! I've got a couple more in the works, one due to be published in Nov. and some flash fiction I always post on my other site.

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  9. Can I just marry you, your writing and your pictures? My God!

    Yaaay! Screams the girl that's always been rooting for Cooper and Beth. I always love the undeniable love that can go through hell and hot water and still come out flawless. I knew they would be back together again!

    Rayne and Duff = spicccyyyy
    I know Cooper may kill him, but still, that relationship screams nothing but fire! Hopefully no one gets burned :P

    I really hope this isn't the final goodbye!

    (Sorry to be an annoying girl, but how do you get your pictures to look so good on blogger? when I upload, mine don't look as clear as they are in my files. Do you edit them a certain way or something? Again, sorry to be annoying. lol I just couldn't help myself to ask!)

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    1. Bri, I am just thrilled you enjoyed it! This one was such a long time coming, and such a challenge to put together.

      Cooper and Beth needed that time apart. There simply isn't anyone else for either of them but there was a lot of jealousy, mistrust, and anger to get past. The love between them is deep and rock solid, though.

      We wanted to show the completion of that journey against the beginning of Rayne's. Whether or not Duff will be the 'one' for her is not at all clear at this point, but the heat in that relationship is explosive. She has been keeping him at bay: that's obviously about to change. And he is willing to sacrifice something very important to him for a chance with her.

      I love exchanging info about taking shots and uploading them. I've tried two different ways: loading them into my Picasa web album and pulling them into the blog from Picasa, and uploading them directly without going through Picasa. I don't see a huge difference, but uploading them directly rather than going through a host like Picasa seems to result in a clearer shot. Picasa probably compresses them.

      I hope we can continue. I want to catch up on other things, other stories I've missed while I've been struggling with giant sets (like your story), but we will try to continue with something more focused. Probably Duff and Rayne. Perhaps something on the side about the twins.

      From both of us, thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to read and to leave us such a lovely comment!

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    2. Bri thanks for leaving a comment here! Coop and Beth will always find their way home to each other. It has been a long time coming and with any luck, future posts will be easier and more focused. Beth and I are like composers, words and music, and we both are perfectionists at what we do. Sometimes that effort takes a lot out of you, having things in just the right way. So it takes a while to complete an update at times.

      Her shots are breathtaking and her sets - well the time she takes with them shows. I can't even call them sets. LOL mine are usually 3 walls and a quick photo shoot lately, but hers...spectacular as are her shots.

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  10. Yes! I agree with you both heavily!
    I don't know what it is, but every time I read your updates, I get so inspired that I run off to my game to ATTEMPT to create neighborhoods and sets as beautiful as yours, but I end up failing horribly. ahaha IN the end I just always end up lurking around your blog..I'm not a creeper I promise! lol

    And another thing about the picture...do yall use lighting a lot to give the pictures that surreal feeling? If so what type of lighting? Or do you whisk each picture off to Photoshop/Gimp and tweak it a certain way?

    and on more thing..WHERE THE HECK DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION??

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    1. I can't really speak to the shots since I rarely am able to do them anymore but I can tell you where the writing comes from. These characters are in my head from the time they are created. They keep telling me their stories and I just write it. Beth is the artist behind the camera and the lots. Unfortunately I don't have them and could never create what she does. I'm not that patient. lol! She on the other hand is amazing. The lots and designs she comes up with are incredible.

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    2. Both of you, thank you!

      I abuse ingame lighting a LOT. There are lights hanging in the midair and all around the outside of the shot even in the daytime. I usually edit each shot individually to try to give them some depth and to give them a sort of tropical, hotter than reality feeling. I totally fail at Photoshop so it's nothing more than dodge and burn and a duplicate layer set to soft light at about 50%.

      Inspiration just comes from necessity. I needed a place with a red carpet, an after party space, a curb, a bar, and a great view, and I wanted to minimize CC. There's a set of EA windows that looked like art deco, so I went with art deco. It has the advantage of looking good without a bunch of clutter and I already had some wallpaper that went with it. It's no different than what you do.

      Again, thank you!!.

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  11. Wow. I feel like an idiot because I just can't put into words the depth of my feelings for this - not only this update, but this whole series. You've taken us on such an amazing ride - physically, emotionally, lyrically & visually. Thank you so much for giving a vision and a voice to these incredible characters, and sharing it with all of us. Bravo.

    Cooper & Beth - everything they've gone thru was needed to show them just how much they truly belong together. After all of this, now they both know there'll never be anyone else for either of them.

    It was great to see Dani on Blaze's arm. It feels like everyone has finally come home. (And any glimpse of Rafe is always welcome! - Loved Gayl's 'told ya so!')


    I hope you do continue with Rayne & Duff - they're just a powder keg and match waiting to happen!

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    1. I am overwhelmed and grateful. Gayl's understanding of those two characters drove this whole arc. They had to figure out that there is a difference between the fantasy of a relationship and the reality, and they had to learn how to navigate through ego, jealousy, self indulgence and lust to arrive at a place where they realize how much they mean to each other and what it takes to stay together. The love was never in doubt.

      Blade and Dani have come home. Cooper and Beth, definitely. Some of the other characters have, too, although it would have taken a much longer piece to show it. Duff and Rayne are just beginning that difficult journey, but you are right, they are an explosive mix. Great beginnings don't always mean perfect endings. Several characters have discovered that terrible truth.

      I am so glad you appreciated that final "I told you so." It was irresistible. Rafe is a great friend, and he has his friend's best interest at heart, but he's not always right.

      Thank you. Thank you!!!

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    2. Let me add my gratitude as well Jillyson. When characters have been with you for as long as most of these have been with me, you want to tell their stories in a meaningful way. I truly appreciate your comments and support of this story. Many many thanks

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  12. Cooper and Beth back together!! For a minute there I thought she was going to turn him away but she didn't and I'm soooo happy=).

    Ohhhh Duff and Rayne! I'm not sure he will drop her as soon as he has had her like Rob may think. Duff may have been a bit of a dog in the past but I think Rayne has a hold on him he just can't wiggle free from. If he's willing to take on the wrath of Coop for her I'm guessing it's more than just a passing flame=)...edenz~

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    1. edenz, thank you so much for reading and leaving us a comment!

      I am so happy that the way Gayl wrote it, and hopefully the ambivalent shot, left you wondering if she was going to turn him away. Beth set the catastrophe in motion to begin with, and losing trust is both difficult to get past and an awful burden of guilt to bear.

      Duff is willing to face not only Cooper's wrath, but losing his place in the band, and that's hard for him. He did more for that band than they realize. Some of what he thinks he's found in Rayne is not real. What is real may have already captured him even though she is not the woman he fantasized about when he saw her portrait. That is a conflict both of them will have to deal with.

      thank you again!

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    2. edenz~thank you so much. I always like leaving a few things for a reader to guess at. I'm never one to throw spoilers out there. lol!

      Thanks for leaving a comment and for reading!

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  13. Oh my gosh, wow. This was really amazing and so inspiring. I loved every piece of it!

    Right from the first shot of picturesque glamour at the theater, through to the very end with the heart warming scenes of Beth & Cooper back together again, I was totally enthralled all the way through.

    Duff is totally a walking stick of sex, lol! And those scenes of him watching Rayne walk the red carpet with her father and then later finally catching up with her. I was beaming reading this. LOL. I was like omg... YES! Haha!
    Same with the scenes of Cooper and Beth. Totally beaming all the way through, lol!

    All the expressions were perfect and the writing flowed so smoothly and beautifully, and only added further emotion to what was already there with your shots.

    Well done ladies, fantastic job! I do wish that I'd started reading your story a little earlier than I originally did but maybe sometimes the best is saved for last. ;)

    Thanks ladies for a very entertaining and colorful read!

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm relieved it's done. I've been fretting over those sets and shots for months now.

      We knew it had to end this way. There just wasn't any other satisfying way to do it. And yeah, Duff is pretty hot! He let Rayne wait it out, although he might have been a little wary of approaching her before Cooper left the building lol.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I want to get back to catching up with all stories I've been missing while I obsessed over this, including yours.

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    2. Jennifer, I'm thrilled you liked the shots and the story that went with them. The end of this arc has been a long time coming and I think we are both relieved it's finally come.

      Many thanks for reading and commenting.

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  14. Awww, you guys! This was perfect! There's so much history and strife and love between Cooper and Beth, and this was a lovely place for these two to finally land. They deserve it.

    Thank you for sharing them with us for so many years! :)

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    1. Thank you Laura. Sometimes it felt like we would never get here but it was time to tie up their story. And thanks for sharing the journey with us. It means a lot!

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  15. Not much to say that hasn't been said, this was a beautiful wrap up, writing and shots just matched perfectly (but when do they not really, you guys continue to blow me away!). I of course am happy to see Coop and Beth giving it another chance, makes me feel all warm and squishy inside. :)

    I just realized this is the only sims story I'm following still and I honestly think it's because of the time and attention to detail you guys put into each piece, well done as always ladies, hope to read more!

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    1. After all this time Emily and the fact that it took 5 months for us to get this update posted it means a lot that people like you still follow. It is much appreciated.

      I think you can tear couples apart only so many times before you need to give the an ending. If this was satisfying to readers, then I'm satisfied as well. With luck we will take the 'new kids' and create some tightly written and illustrated stories down the road. We'll have to wait and see how that pans out.

      Again, thank you from both of us.

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  16. I can't get over how well you write and choose your images. They work wonderfully together, it's always such a treat.

    I won't lie, I loved seeing Cooper bring back Beth. The pic with them picking up Hugs was so sweet, I was smiling the whole way through.

    I hate to end this comment on a negative note, but i can't help sneer at Duff. I hope Rayne is careful. she's too awesome to become submissive to him.

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    1. Thanks so much about the writing and images. It isn't always easy to interpret words with shots especially when there are two people doing it.

      That last scene was sweet. A last minute idea that just worked perfectly.

      Duff is not the Dom you might think he is. Yes, he wants to control Rayne in certain ways I won't go into but the preconceived understanding of a D/s relationship isn't necessarily how it will go.

      Thanks again from both of us.

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    2. Mela, I'm going fangirl on you because you know what an inspiration you are. So wow thank you!!

      The sequence with Hugs was one of my absolute favorites, and it was an afterthought. I shot it twice, never could get it exactly right but finally had to go with it. I'm so glad you like it. It took me months to design and build those sets, and I know you realize how many there were.

      Rayne is young and pretty fascinated with Duff on many levels. He's her first grown up relationship. Jimmy was her first love, and it will cost her a lot to let that go, if she does. It's a relationship that is beginning in fantasy on both sides. Rayne is young and impressionable and eager, but she's also headstrong, bossy, opinionated, and she comes fully equipped with a lot of Cooper's temper. Exploring what it means for someone like that to become involved with Duff and how they manage it is something we'd like to do. I don't think we know yet how it will turn out.

      Thank you so much!

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    3. Gayl, and Beth I was holding my breath wondering where Cooper and Beth would go. I might have smiled a little wider when Beth got out of the car proving Rafe wrong!

      Beth, i know how hard you worked on the sets and believe me its so amazing. I love seeing hem and they really are inspiring.

      Gayl, i reread my comment and realized it came off wrong. XD i didn't mean "submissive" in the BDSM sense. I was more worried about Duff needing to control Rayne even in subtle ways... How he wants her to dress and behave. I think I understand you and. Beth when you're saying Rayne is young and adventurous and i do believe she needs that (but as a fan of Jimmy please take care of him too, lol!), i just don't want Rayne to be diminished.

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    4. LOL I don't think it came off as wrong, I think I interpreted submissiveness in a different way here perhaps. I should say that Duff does want to control Rayne or maybe 'train' her, educate her, bring out the sensuality he sees. She is young. She is not that experienced. He sees something there, maybe from his past, that resonates with him. I could go on and on about Duff but I don't want to reveal too much yet. He is a fascinating character with so much potential story-wise. Volumes of story really.

      They will surprise each other. Who ends up pulling the strings, if either of them do, will be a fun ride.

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    5. The sets were just a huge challenge. I didn't know what I wanted and fought with it for a long, long time because I had a specific image in mind. I wanted a glamorous, old Hollywood feeling, and I didn't know what that was when I started. I didn't know the difference between art deco and art nouveau. Then I got sucked into making the beach lot which just stole my heart.

      Again, thank you!

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    6. You did a helluva lot more than I could or would have done. Both lots are breathtaking.

      *must remember to login as correct gayl*

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  17. Sorry punctuation and spelling is all over the place. IPad is making commenting on anything annoying.

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  18. Well worth the wait. So beautiful. And Rafe!

    I love all of these characters, as messy and fragile and screwed up and sexy as they are. And I love you guys.

    Whether this is an end or the end, it's been a fantastic ride and you guys should be so proud of what you've achieved and of all that I know you have going on outside of this.

    You have both inspired me and continue to do so. xxx

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    1. I am incredibly flattered. Rad, I remember when you posted our blog on yours, and how excited I was, and I still am. It is a total thrill to get a comment from you!

      I hope you will take what you have written with Taken and find someone to script it and make a movie. It is that good.

      And your support is so appreciated. Thank you.

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  19. gah!!! Finally caught up and it was so worth staying up two hours past when I was supposed to go to bed! I'm so incredibly happy right now. :)

    You guys have done such a wonderful job with this series and I've enjoyed reading it for these past couple of years. I do hope you continue Rayne's story at least (Oh and find out more about what happened to Wyatt!!!) but it is nice to be able to leave it at a happy "ending".

    Always a fan,
    Steph

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    1. Steph (may I call you that?), I'm just thrilled!! From both of us, thank you so much! We are trying to continue with Rayne's story, and if we can get past computer problems, we plan to do something with it. I think we're on draft number 11 at this point LOL, but there's a lot of drama between Rayne and Duff and it should be fun to explore.

      Gayl is now publishing her stories and may rewrite and include Wyatt's story, so that probably won't show up as a sims story.

      I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the time you took to read everything and to leave us a note telling us what you thought. It makes all the difference in the world. With enormous gratitude, thank you!

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  20. I don't know why I'm only now reading this, but wow, what an amazing end to Beth and Cooper's story. You made it clear they really do belong together.

    The pictures are so amazing and just really work perfectly with the writing--such mood setters! I absolutely adore that picture of Beth looking down at the fire, after Cooper arrives and sits down. It's perfection.

    I love this story, and I'm excited to see where you take the other characters. :)

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    1. Because you are creating wonderful things yourself, and sometimes it takes all the energy you have. Thank you.

      That shot was not posed. She looked down at him, shut her eyes and smiled. They do belong together.

      I am both stunned that you still have the time and interest to read and very very happy that you did. From both of us... thank you.

      And yeah, we're moving on.

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  21. I am so glad that Coop and Beth found their way back to each other in the end. I knew they would! =) As tumultuous as the ride has been, Rafe has to admit that it's hard to picture Coop without Beth and vice versa even if it's hard to make sense of it. Maybe it's not for us to make sense of.
    I love the way you leave things in the air with characters like Rayne and Duff for us to ponder about and yet give us closure with Coop and Beth.
    I know I'm going to enjoy the things that are up your collective sleeve. The things you two come up with and the way you deliver it is really well done.
    On to the bridge!

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    1. Thank you! We've been working toward pulling this together for some time, trying to explore what it means to lose trust, how to balance that against knowing there really isn't anyone else you want to be with, watching Alex finally understand he loved Dani so much he would find a way to make it work, and, at the same time, pull Duff and Rayne together. It was a little complicated! But we wanted to give our readers the satisfaction of an ending. I hope we accomplished that.

      From both of us, thank you so much for reading!

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