Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Chapter Four - Ooooh Baby!

Laura keeps on working right up until the baby is born. She gets an assignment from City Hall to photograph Redwood Harbour looking its best so that the new tourism website makes the town look as appealing as possible. She's only about a third of the way through the assignment, and she's earned $250 already.

The time passes quickly, and before long Yousseff receives a call asking him to come to the hospital to be with Laura when their baby is born. Of course he rushes down into town, and arrives just in time to see Rebecca Dawn Buckland arrive in the world. She's so cute (though her proud and doting parents may be biased!).

The labour is not too problematic, and Laura is able to leave the hospital straight away. She, Yousseff and Rebecca get a taxi home, ready to start their new life as a family of three! They don't have much in the way of furniture, because Yousseff isn't working and Laura is still finding her feet as a photographer, but they're managing alright and they have a crib for their new daughter, at least.

Rebecca proves to be a delightful baby, and life goes back to normal within hours of her parents bringing her home. Yousseff spends most of his time looking after Rebecca, and Laura goes out to take photos of the town. She's almost done with her assignment from City Hall, and is excited about what projects may be ahead. Rebecca doesn't do much, and Yousseff is a bit bored looking after her. He really wishes that something would happen to liven things up. Life in Redwood Harbour doesn't suit him, and though he loves his daughter very much he's starting to regret moving to the town so impulsively.

Of course, there are some benefits to living with Laura.... Even with their daughter in her crib in the same room, she's still up for a bit of fun! She's been so happy lately - she loves having Yousseff around, she adores Rebecca and her career is going from strength to strength. Yousseff feels bad about all the things he hasn't told her about, but he doesn't want to hurt her so he decides to remain quiet...

Laura got her first portrait client! Qiana Avalos paid her to take a photo of her. It's just for a visa application, so nothing exciting, but hopefully Qiana will tell her friends and Laura will get several more clients. Qiana paid $90 for the photo, but if Laura could get some jobs taking photos for modelling portfolios, or family portraits, the pay could be much better. She knows that she still has a lot to learn though - she's nowhere near an expert in photography yet. But she's determined that she will be one day....

Yousseff is sticking to his plan of pretending that everything is fine and that he, Laura and Rebecca are just a normal, happy family. Laura, blissfully unaware of his thoughts, thinks that they are a normal, happy family! She loves being a Mum, and spends as much time as she can with Rebecca, who is growing up fast and will be a toddler in a couple of days. Everything seems wonderful for her, but how long will that last?

Chapter Three - A New Beginning

When Laura wakes up in her new home the morning after she arrives back from Al Simhara, her plans for the day are disrupted by the sudden need to dash to the loo. Ugh. She feels awful, and has no idea why. Food poisoning, maybe? Not pleasant, whatever it is! But still, she has things to do, so she heads into town.

Her first stop is the City Hall, where she registers as a self-employed photographer. She's just starting out, but she's confident that she'll be able to do well and make plenty of money! It'll take time, that's all. Whilst she's there she looks at the notice boards to see if anyone is looking for a photographer and she finds a couple of potential jobs. She phones up about one of them, and is hired. Her first assignment is for a metal band who need some creepy graveyard photos for their new album cover. Creepy graveyard photos. Hmmmm.... Laura reckons she can manage that!

She did have a few other errands to run, but she's really not feeling well so she heads home. She calls Yousseff to ask him if he's had any symptoms of food poisoning or flu or whatever it is, but he's fine. He says he can't talk for long as he's meeting a friend, and promptly hangs up. Laura decides to go for a nap, maybe that'll help her feel better.

And sure enough, by the evening she feels much better. Well enough to head out to Eldridge Graveyard and take some creepy photos! She posts them to the metal band, hoping that they'll be happy with them and will pay her the $50 they'd promised her. $50 certainly isn't much, but it's a start.....

When she gets home that night she finally twigs why she's been feeling so unwell lately. A baby is on its way.... It has to be Yousseff's, so she phones him up to tell him. It turns out that he'd already suspected that she may be pregnant and is on his way to Redwood Harbour. He'll be there in the morning.

By the time he arrives the next day Laura has been to the hospital to confirm that she is pregnant. When Yousseff turns up she tells him that she is definitely pregnant. He is shocked, but accepts that he is also responsible. He offers to "do the right thing" and marry Laura, but she declines. She wasn't brought up to believe that you have to be married to have a baby, and she's not committing her life to a man she hardly knows. Whether or not Yousseff wants to be part of the baby's life, she knows that she will love her child and will do the best for him or her.

Yousseff wanders off for a while to think, and when he comes back he asks Laura if he can live with her if he moves to Redwood Harbour. He wants to be around to support her, and he doesn't want his child to grow up without a father. Laura says that he would be very welcome to live with her, and they'll see how it goes.

Yousseff makes a few calls, to organise having his house and belongings sold, and that's that - Laura no longer lives alone! The baby's not due for a while, so they will have time for Yousseff to settle in and for the two of them to get used to each other.

Chapter Two - Al Simhara

After a long, exhausting flight Laura arrives in Al Simhara at 8am. There's so much she wants to see and do - she wants to visit the local market, try the local cuisine, see the pyramids and the Sphinx and so much more. But upon arriving at the campsite where she'll be staying she promptly gets distracted by a pygmy shrew, and goes and spends half an hour staring at it. Hey, she's an animal lover, what're you going to do!

When she finally prises herself away from the shrew (who wasn't sure what to make of all the attention) she heads into town to visit the market. First stop: the bookstore. Laura browses for a while, but can't decide what to buy. And of course she has a more important purchase to make: a camera! She wanders over to the general store and asks the sales assistant there about cameras. She discovers that she can't afford the most expensive camera (those things are seriously pricey!), so she buys a Channon Outlaw EC instead. That still sets her back $850, but it's so worth it.

And then it's time to take her first photo! So exciting! She wants to get a good shot, so after discussing the local area with the shop assistant she heads up to a secluded spot where she can (apparently) get an amazing view of some of the pyramids. Pyramids! Wow! And the shop assistant was definitely telling the truth about how amazing the view is from there. So Laura's first photo is of two of Al Simhara's famous pyramids. She just can't get over how stunning this place is....

It turns out that photography is more expensive than Laura had expected. If she wants to be able to take more photos during her holiday she really needs some extra cash. And how to get it? Well, by selling her photos, of course! The sales assistant had told her that local resident Yousseff Nagi is a keen artist, and sometimes buys photos to help provide him with inspiration for his work. So she decides to go and introduce herself to him and see if he's interested in purchasing her photo.

And he turns out to be a really nice guy. They chat for a while, and he invites her to stay for dinner. When she finally dares broach the subject of him buying her photo, he asks to see it and then tells her it's a wonderful photo and he'd love to buy it off her. He gives her $83 for it, which will allow her to take a few more photos, and maybe even buy the photography book she'd seen earlier at the bookstore. By the time she leaves (at 3am! How did that happen?) they have become firm friends, and have agreed to meet the next day to go for a walk together.

The next day really flies by. Laura sleeps late after her late night, and when she gets up she heads to the market to get some lunch and buy the photography book she wanted. Before she has a chance to read it Yousseff calls her and suggests that they meet for a walk. So off they go, past the Sphinx and some of the pyramids before ending up at a small campsite, which is deserted other than them. They sit by the fire for a while, and then Yousseff compliments Laura's personality, telling her that he's never met anyone who's so much of an animal lover. They flirt for a while, and then Yousseff suddenly excuses himself and rushes off, muttering something about a prior engagement. Laura is sad to see him go, but decides to spend the night at the little campsite. Before bed she finally gets to read her book!

Laura spends the whole of the next day worrying about the way Yousseff had left the evening before. She decides to go round to his house to ask him why he left so suddenly, but it was dark before she'd plucked up the courage to actually go. He seemed pleased to see her, but nervous, and she didn't understand why. They were stood outside chatting awkwardly when he suddenly leaned in and kissed her. After the kiss he whispered into her ear: "You're so beautiful Laura".

And before she left for the airport to head back to Redwood Harbour, well, one thing led to another.... Laura didn't feel any regrets as she got into the taxi to go and catch her 'plane, but she did wonder if sleeping with Yousseff was really a good idea. After all, she barely knew the man, and he lived so far away. And a nagging voice in her mind kept asking "Why was he acting so strangely? Do you think that maybe, just maybe, he was worried that someone else might find out that he was flirting with you? Someone like, say, a girlfriend...?"

Chapter One - A Move To Redwood Harbour

Laura can't believe that today has finally come! She spent so long dreaming about the time when she'd be able to leave home and get her own place. Of course, she didn't expect her own place to be quite so far away from her friends and family, but there was no way she could afford to stay in Jericho. So here she is in Redwood harbour. It's a little quieter than she's used to though....

Standing outside her new house, she breathes in deeply. Fresh air! No city smog or traffic fumes. And she can hear birds singing in the trees which surround her home. No traffic noise either! Redwood Harbour is definitely peaceful, but will it be boring?

But still, she can worry about that later. If she wants to start up as a freelance photographer (and boy, she really does want to start up as a freelance photographer!) then she needs to buy a camera. And where's the best place to buy a camera? Not Redwood Harbour, that's for sure. Not Jericho, not Great Bear, not Twinbrook. By far the best place to buy a camera is Al Simhara - so it's time for a trip abroad! Laura calls up to book her flight, and manages to book one later that afternoon. So that gives her time to have a quick look round her new home before she leaves.

Laura is rather daunted by the idea of the walk into town, so she calls a taxi. The driver drops her off outside the City Hall, and she goes for a wander through the square. It's beautiful, that's true, but it's so quiet! She hasn't seen another person since she left the house, apart from the taxi driver, and he wasn't exactly talkative. Where are all her new neighbours?

Laura decides to head up to the little park that she saw on her way in to town. It looked like the view of the town would be stunning. And to her amazement she's not the only person there! She quickly introduces herself to the young woman who was there admiring the view. Her name is Caroline Brookes, and she works as a dancer. She has the day off, and apologises for her slightly eccentric choice of outfit, saying that she can never be bothered to make much effort on her days off. Slob Laura can understand that! They chat for a while, but soon Caroline has to go and do her laundry before her next work day. So Laura walks to the edge of the cliff to admire the view.

And it's certainly worth admiring! Laura can't wait to come back here when she has a camera and take some nice photos. That sea is beautiful, and the sky, and all the trees..... Wow. Just wow. Laura has a few hours before she needs to head to the airport, so she calls a taxi (again!) and heads back in to town to buy some groceries. She doesn't want to have to head out to the shops as soon as she gets home, so it's worth buying some food that will keep before she leaves. And maybe she'll meet some more people in town!

And she does! Jennie Hsu is very happy to meet her new neighbour. She proves to be extremely talkative, and within minutes Laura feels like she knows Jennie's entire life story. Jennie and her husband Jacob moved to Redwood Harbour quite recently, and she's keen to start a family now that they're settled. She and her husband live near the beach, because her husband grew up near the sea, and she loves Redwood Harbour with all her heart! She and Laura chat for a while, until Laura realises that she needs to head to the airport. She dashes home to drop off her groceries, and then calls yet another cab and heads off to Al Simhara!