The days of Monty’s infancy went by in a blur for Liv. A lot of feeding, cuddling, changing poopy diapers; and on top of that, covering as many shifts at work as possible. Sleep had become a rare commodity.
But it was all worth it. She’d never forget the day Monty twirled into childhood. As for Monty, as an aspiring rambunctious scamp, he was happy to be out and about. He inherited his mom’s cheerful disposition too, so he generally brightened everyone’s day.
“Now that you’re a big boy, I’ve got a surprise for you,” Liv beamed at her son. The truth was, it was as much a surprise for her as it would be for Monty. Yenn and Ethan planned a getaway for the whole household, since they felt that they all deserved a little treat – especially Liv, having worked so hard.
Granite Falls in winter seemed like a whole new world.
They rented out a cabin on the water front. (The cabin is a barely tweaked version of the Luxury Cabin by Deligracy, which can be downloaded here.)
“Mommy, look at all the snow,” Monty exclaimed. He suddenly stopped himself and looked around. He lowered his voice. “Do you think there might be a snow monster hiding somewhere around here?”
“I have no idea, but the pirate ship over there might be a good place for checking,” Liv winked. “Higher vantage point!”
“And it has cannons,” Monty ran to the ship happily.
Liv smiled. This holiday was going to be perfect for him.
“No snow monsters can get us now, mommy,” Monty enthused. “I’ll protect us all!”
Liv leapt out from her hideout: “Bleh bleh bleh! Do you have what it takes to defeat a monster like me?”
“Mommy! I’m not scared of you,” Monty laughed. “You’re so silly!”
“You’re such a brave boy,” Liv said proudly. “I have no doubts that even if the monsters do come, you’ll protect us all.”
They all soaked in the hot tub to warm up a little, as Monty enthused about all of the snow monsters he was going to find.
“You know Monty, not all snow creatures are necessarily monsters,” Yenn smiled knowingly. “There’s also snow men, who can be your friends. And the best part is we can build one of our own.”
“Wow,” Monty replied. “That is so cool!”
“Yes, snow people are friendly,” Ethan agreed.
“It’s your own that you need to watch out for!” And with that, Ethan started a tickle war with Yenn.
Aah, these two, Liv thought.
When their fingers started to prune, it was time to move on. Yenn decided to give painting a go; she hadn’t painted anything since she was a little girl drawing shapes at the activity table, but the scenery here just begged to be documented.
Ethan challenged Monty to a game of horseshoes.
“Are you sure you can compete with a seasoned sports professional?” Ethan teased the boy as he threw the horse shoe. He missed. “Of course, there is a reason why this professional never made it past minor league.”
When it was Monty’s turn, he hit the target immediately.
“It’s easy uncle Ethan,” he told the man. “Don’t worry, I’ll teach you!”
“Those were some really helpful tips, buddy,” Ethan hugged the boy after they finished playing. “I bet I’ll be almost as good as you in no time!”
Ethan adored the little boy. He felt like a strange combination of a son, a grandson and a nephew.
“This place is amazing, aunt Yenn,” Liv grinned. “Monty is having so much fun!”
“It’s your getaway too, you know,” Yenn replied. “I hear one of the smaller cabins has been converted to a bar. You know us old hags would just love to stay in and sit by the fireplace, but you should go!”
“Absolutely,” Yenn noded. “Just because I’m a hermit doesn’t mean you should be. We’ll watch Monty for you. Go out, meet people, have fun… be young.”
It felt odd. Olivia hadn’t had an evening dedicated purely to herself and having fun ever since she found out she was pregnant with Monty.
The cabin looked quiet and unassuming. Let’s see what’s inside, Liv smiled to herself.
(Note: The cabin bar conversion has been done by jackcocker1996 and can be downloaded here.)
The pub was quaint, but had character. The bartender, a man called Brantley, made Liv feel welcome instantly. In a holiday resort like Granite Falls, regulars were hard to come by, and every new patron brought a promise of possibly becoming one. He gave Liv a drink on the house, and tried to impress her with the best tricks he had up his sleeves.
Some of it looked rather impressive… but also really fun.
“You know, I’ve got a mixology skill or two,” Liv said nonchalantly, “I bet this isn’t even as hard as you’re making it look!”
“Be my guest and have a go,” Brantley replied, ushering Liv behind the bar.
She tossed a bottle in the air and caught it. She tried with two. Had a little juggle. This was pretty easy, actually.
Ok, maybe not so easy.
“Duck!” Liv yelled shaker flew out of her hands. The whole pub started laughing.
“Mixology is a skill only some have mastered,” Brantley gloated. “But good effort, Liv!”
Liv nodded to him as to say thanks, and went on to find a seat.
“Well, I think you did pretty great out there,” the woman sat on the couch encouraged her. She was a fair bit older than Liv, but looked very approachable and had a huge grin on her face.
“I’m Julianne, by the way,” the woman introduced herself. “I own one of the cabins here in Granite Falls, so I vacation here every winter. Meaning I come to this place a lot, and I’ve seen a fair few professional mixologists that were a lot worse than you!”
“Thanks, that’s sweet of you to say,” Liv said, “Though I must admit I’m not a complete amateur. I work in catering, so I’ve poured a fair few juice drinks!”
“Pouring does not a mixologist make,” Julianne shrugged. “It takes a daring, inventive and creative individual to be a good bartender! Sorry, I’m getting carried away. I own a bar back in Willow Creek, so I feel like I’m scouting for bar staff even on holiday. I’d definitely hire you though. You’ve got talent.”
Liv blushed. It was a silly thing. Being talented in mixology?
“Sounds like you’re really passionate about your business, your staff must miss you,” Liv changed the subject.
“They’re capable sims,” Julianne waved it off. “And to be completely honest, I’m only the co-owner. I actually bought the bar with my ex. As you can imagine, it’s a bit awkward for us to be there at the same time, so we made a deal. She manages the bar in the winter when I’m here, and I look after it in the summer.”
Her ex was a she, Liv realised. Julianne probably didn’t think Liv was a talented mixology, Liv realised… Stop it, she told herself. It was assumptions like this one that got her heart into trouble.
“Hey ladies,” Brantley the bartender approached them. “My shift is over, will you be joining us for the regular, Liv?”
The regular turned out to be a game of cards. Apparently Brantley and Julianne played after all of his shifts. And Julianne almost always won. That’s why Brantley was so desperate to add more regulars to their game.
“So Liv, how long are you here in Granite Falls for? We’d love for you to join us for another game tomorrow,” he said hopefully.
“I’m here for a few days, but I don’t think I can make it,” Liv replied. “Sorry; it’s nothing against you guys! I would love to come, but… I have a son. I can’t dump him on my aunt every night.”
Julianne looked up from her cards: “A son, you say?”
“I got pregnant really young,” Liv said evasively.
“Pregnant? Interesting,” Julianne studied Liv’s face, “I could have sworn you’re… Nevermind. She’s bluffing, Brantley.”
What was that supposed to mean, Liv wondered…
Olivia ended up winning the game.
“Look at that, seems like I’ve got some competition,” Julianne laughed. “Brantley, are you sure your offer for Liv to join us tomorrow still stands?”
“It was beginner’s luck,” Liv smiled.
“I bet it was,” Brantley agreed.
“I don’t know, Liv’s a woman of many talents,” Julianne winked. “Some of which she doesn’t even know about…”