"Honey," George pleaded with his fiancee, "we can't possibly not invite Maria to our wedding."
"For one thing," he reasoned, "I'll be dancing with her this year at City Ballet, and I can't afford to tick her off. For another, she's very well-connected--if you get my drift--and I can't afford to tick off all of her higher-up connections. And finally, she lives in our building, for heaven's sake, and our reception is here, so what am I supposed to say to her when she walks through the building and it's filled with our wedding guests???"
Tosha looked stonily ahead, and picked at the salmon dinner George had prepared for her.
Maria Ivanova's "well-connected"-ness was just the problem, as far as Tosha was concerned. Although Tosha (if pressed) would certainly admit that Maria was a hugely talented dancer, the girl had--in Tosha's view, from all the gossip she had heard--largely advanced her career by seducing other women's husbands.
"This is my wedding," she argued, "and I don't want her spoiling my day!"
"No, Tosha," George declared, trying to remain calm, "this is our wedding. And we're a team, so you should care about my career. As I care about yours."
Rebecka Louie--who, through her work as Maria's decorator, had befriended the building's owner --had managed to get George and Tosha a reduced rent on a condo unit vacated by one of Count Rich's recent tenants. The second-floor, 2.5 bedroom, 1.5 bath apartment was quite luxurious,
and George--a Fortune Sim--was thrilled to be living in such a place.
Tosha--a Family Sim who was not yet married and not yet pregnant--was much less thrilled. She would have been happier to live in a more modest place, with a baby and without a neighbor like Maria.
But George and Tosha had agreed that they would both work very hard to make money before their wedding and that only after they were married would they have a baby. George was dancing with the City Ballet but, until the new season opened in the fall, dancing didn't pay very well, so he went to some sort of job or other every day, as did Tosha. She, like their friend Kevin, wanted to be on the police force, had taken her civil service exam, and was awaiting the results.
Tosha had received a magic lamp while in college, and she gave it to George as a wedding present. He used it to ask the genie for wealth three times,
and, to his delight, he received a total of $36,000.
"Honey," he said to Tosha the next morning over breakfast, "I want to use the magic lamp money to buy a community lot."
"Why don't we just save it for a house, instead?" she countered. They had agreed that, as soon as they accumulated $200,000 in savings, they would move out of their rented condo unit.
"Because," George said, "if we both work really hard at our own business, we can turn that $36,000 into $200,000 much faster than if we just banked the money."
"So," he continued, "we could buy a house that much sooner. And," he emphasized--certain that this would be his winning argument--"it would be a project we could do together."
Tosha looked doubtful, but she was intrigued. "What kind of business could we do 'together'?" she inquired.
"I've thought about this," George answered, enthused. "How about a combination dance/fitness place? I need to spend a lot of time staying in shape and, if we had our own fitness place, I could work out someplace other than the City Ballet studios."
This particular part of the plan did seriously appeal to Tosha--the idea that George would spend less time around Maria Ivanova.
"And," George continued, "you spend a lot of time staying in shape for your future police job, and this way you'd be able to work out at our own venue instead of downstairs in this building."
"Sold!" agreed Tosha.
Later that rain-soaked morning the couple went to see the venue that was for sale. "It's not much to look at," observed Tosha.
"We'll just have to make it work on the strength of our personalities," George said brightly.
The couple walked through the space and tried out the exercise machines.
"I suppose we could do this," Tosha said, tentatively.
"Great!" responded George.
The couple worked very hard at their venue. George was the resident personal trainer,
and Tosha gave workout classes.
She even taught Berjes to do the hula,
one afternoon when their elderly neighbor stopped by to bring them the venue-warming gift of a gelatin mold.
'Interesting choice,' thought George.
By the end of the week, the couple had gotten their venue to Rank 5.
For his business perks, George took all the cash rewards offered by the local chamber of commerce.
George had also achieved first his bronze and then his silver Sales badge,
and Tosha--who already had a bronze Sales badge--achieved her silver.
The couple also made helpful contacts.
The day before their wedding, when Tosha was at work and George's job didn't start until the evening, he decided to take a break and relax in the hot tub that was in back of the condo building. He found Randy and Yuri there.
"How's it hanging, guys?" George asked, joining them.
He turned to Yuri. "What are you doing in the building?--Don't tell me the fair Rebecka actually allowed you into your own apartment!" he kidded.
"Faggot!" Yuri laughed, splashing him.
"Jerkoff!!" George replied, good-naturedly, splashing him back.
"At least I'm getting married in a couple of days," George pointed out.
"Well, I'm not getting married until I absolutely have to," Yuri claimed cavalierly, though neither George nor Randy particularly believed him. They both knew that Yuri craved wealth and social standing, and also knew that Yuri thought that Rebecka was the most likely--of all the women he knew--to be able to help him with both. "How's the dance biz? And whatever else you two are doing?"
"Things are going okay," George reported. "Both Tosh and I have been doing well in the various jobs we've picked up."
"I've been promoted 3 times so far,"
"and Tosha--God bless her little hardworking self--has gotten promoted 5 times!"
"As my mother has always said," Yuri agreed, "'early job-hopping promotions are the key to building a good nest egg'."
"And," George continued, "our brand-new dance/fitness venue is going well--we got it to Rank 5 in one week. So, I sold it back to the community--for $44,000--and Tosha bought it back from them for $19,000."
"Sweet!" admired Yuri and Randy, in unison.
"You guys should drop by," George offered. "I'll comp you the admission fee."
"Thanks," said Randy, "but I'm trying to stay close to home till the baby's born. I'd hate to miss the big event."
"Oh, yeah--" George exclaimed. "Tosha told me she ran into Calista in the exercise room yesterday, and that she's huge!"
"Yup," replied Randy. "Berjes thinks it's going to be a boy, and a good-sized one at that. Apparently," Randy chuckled, "Berjes has lots of birthing experience from his days in the 'jungles of East India' while serving in the Queen's military, as he reminds us nearly every day."
George added, "Calista told Tosh she was really sorry, but she didn't think she was going to be able to attend our wedding."
"That's right," Randy confirmed. "Doctor's orders. Calista's had such a tough pregnancy that she's not supposed to go anywhere or do anything at this point. She'll probably drop by your reception, though, since it's here in the building."
That evening, while George was at work, Tosha ran the dance/fitness venue by herself. She was pleased when Brittany stopped in on her way home from work.
"What an interesting crowd you have at night," Brit observed, haltingly. "An evil witch and a vampire, at the same time???"
"It's a bit unusual," Tosha admitted. "But since George and I are trying to make enough money to buy a house and get out of the condo, I'm pretty motivated to put up with quite a bit of weirdness. Hey, you wanna stay and work out? I have a smustle class starting in a half hour, if you're interested."
"Thanks, but I'm beat," Brit replied. "My analyst job at the SCIA is just exhausting. I mean, I like the work, and the pay's decent, but the atmosphere is so intense--it's like that TV show '24'. I can't wait till I get a regular hard science job, and I can just be a lab geek again."
Tosha closed up the venue at midnight, went back to the apartment, showered, changed into her nightie, and waited for George to come home from his entertainment job.
"Hi, hon'," he said as he came through the door. "Guess how much money I made today?"
"Umm, how much?" she asked.
"More than $13,000," George answered proudly.
He sat down next to her.
"Hey, since when do we have a TV?" he inquired.
"Since this evening," she replied. "Juan Reamon was at Dance/Fitness tonight. We talked for quite a while, and he sent this over."
"We're making a lot of good contacts at our little business," George observed.
"And you know what's even better?" Tosha asked.
Tosha had been entering figures on her calculator, tossed it on the cushion next to her, and put her arm around her fiance.
"With our combined pay today, and with what we earned tonight at our 'little business', we now have enough money to buy a house."
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next week for "George and Tosha's Wedding" (at which there will be a surprise guest).
George is a Fortune Sim and, in his own Million Dollar Challenge, his score is currently 90 (10 points times 4 promotions for George, and times 5 promotions for Tosha).