"Following in Mom's footsteps, aren't you?" Lauren greets her brother as he brings his youngest for a visit while Meilin is in school. It never occurred to Tao to compare his life to his mother's, but it's true, like her, he's raising two children on his own without ever having married either of their mothers. Unlike his mother, however, he's taking a very active role in parenting. He and Lauren were allowed to do pretty much as they chose, as long as they stayed out of their mother's way. His girls are never without proper adult supervision.
Lauren is pregnant for the third time. This one is another son, who they named Luther.
When both of his daughters reach school age, Tao finds himself with free time in the afternoon after his morning work in the garden is finished. One afternoon, after delivering his produce to the market, he runs into Adria Landgraab, Donovan's daughter and current mistress of the Landgraab estate. They knew each other in high school, but never became friends, due to the fact that her father was having an affair with his mother. Now, Adria is recently divorced, and like Tao, has free time during the day while her son James is in school. Tao and Adria begin spending some of that free time together, and find they have much in common.
They have lunch together at the bistro, or take in a matinee, and very soon find their new friendship has blossomed into a romance.
At some point they skip lunch and movies and simply spend their afternoons together in Tao's bed. Adria always leaves in time to be home before her son gets out of school, leaving Tao free to help his daughters with their homework when they come from school as well. Their children are the priority for both Tao and Adria, and their affair is not allowed to in any way compete or collide with their family. Their children are not even aware that their parents are acquainted.
Meilin's mother, Tomika, surprises her with a birthday visit. Tomika hasn't played much of a role in her daughter's life beyond the occasional phone call, and Meilin is not especially thrilled to have her show up on her birthday. "Dad is my only real parent," she says defiantly, "You haven't ever been here for me before, why show up now? "
Tomika doesn't answer that question, instead she launches into some conspiracy theory as though her daughter hadn't even spoken. Meilin suddenly understands what her father meant when he said her mother hadn't rejected her, she was just preoccupied. Meilin just hopes her mother's neuroses isn't genetic.
Tomika leaves with a pang of regret. She didn't know it at the time, but she abandoned the sweetest situation she was ever to have. Now, she works part time at the spa while raising a second daughter, Felisha, and supporting her jobless live in boyfriend Shayne. Life with Tao would have been much better, but he doesn't have much to say to her now.
Meilin is dating her childhood friend Deon Wolff, the heir of Wolff Manor.
The McDermott's have never been much for birthday celebrations, but Tao decides to have a cake for Rain. A cake can in no way make up for the lack of her mother's love or attention, but it's the best he can do. Unlike Meilin's mother, who was just generally too lazy and preoccupied to be even a part time mother, Rain's mother Ivy has made it clear that she wants no part of her daughter's life. Since her 'true love' Regan Goth married Ashley, Ivy has tried to put her past behind her, moving on to marry Ken Rhodes, and leaving everything that came before in the dust, not even acknowledging that she had a child.
Besides her father and sister, Rain has invited her best friend, Francesco Corcoran to her little party.
Francesco's birthday falls right after Rain's, and once they are both teens, she asks him out. Though they've been best friends forever, always together at school and out, he seems surprised by her romantic advances.
"I thought for sure you would ask out Theron Rhodes," he says, "I can't tell you how happy I am you chose me."
Theron Rhodes would have been the obvious choice for most girls, athletic, confident and handsome, while poor Francesco is sensitive and frequently picked on. But Rain rarely goes for the obvious choice, and loves Francesco for the sensitivity that he is often teased about.
On Saturday afternoon, Rain bikes over to the military base to take a class in mechanics, and discovers and old abandoned gas station that has become a dumping ground. Intrigued, she decides to explore.
Picking through the piles of junk, Rain can't believe how wasteful people are, throwing away things that could still be of use.
She finds an old workbench inside the building and uses the tools there to recombine the various parts and pieces she plucked from the trash, and in the process, discovers her life's calling.
That evening, she invites Francesco over to be grilled by her father. Tao knows the boy as her childhood playmate, and Francesco is the son of his own good friend Raphael Corcoran (formerly Goth), but now that he's dating his daughter, he needs to answer to her father.
Tao remembers his sister Lauren's difficult teen years, her dates with Tracey often involving stealing public property and setting things on fire. Though they both grew up into responsible adults, Tao is not about to let his teens run wild like that, and keeps their dates where he can supervise them.
Challenge Notes: Generation 5 is nearly finished, once the girls are both YA all goals will have been met. Rain has been chosen heir, and she got the Eccentric trait to help her with her destined career as an inventor. Tao is doing well in the gardening career, though that one is difficult to advance in since it depends on selling tons of produce. He may or may not reach the top of his career. He's getting close to his LTW, he's maxed gardening and fishing and just needs to max one more skill. He's a charisma 9, so he will likely max that out just through socializing. I haven't been putting a lot of effort into skilling Tao, he just earns skills from doing stuff he normally does.