Erik quickly discovered that living off of a diet of strictly hot dogs got old really fast. Sure they were cheap — especially for one who had very few Simoleons to his name. But, he was starting to hate them. So, every now and again, when he wasn’t acting like the cartoon character, Yogi Bear, and pilfering food left aside on a picnic table, he would spend the time fishing. Very shortly afterwards, he discovered that this nice piece of property he had purchased was surrounded by wild fruit-bearing trees and bushes. Not only that, but that people would pay real Simoleons for them and for the flowers he picked, too.
He also took a job in the Entertainment industry, following the musician track. He always knew he couldn’t give up his music altogether. It was his Gift, after all. He was never one to simply bury his talents. Loving what he did, he worked hard, and got along well with his co-workers.
One day, he got a bit of a scare, when three big wigs from the Industry came into his place of employment. He was really sweating it out, expecting to garner a bit more notice than he wanted. "So, whose the new guy?"
"Oh, that's E. C."
Sad, but yet in a good way, they failed to recognize him.
Coupled with his paycheck, he made enough money selling veggies and fruits to buy the materials to construct two walls. So, now he had two walls of his very own. This was the start of moving away from an endless campout situation to really staring to live again. He always wanted to build his dream house, ever since he was a kid. The plans were all drawn up — at least in his head. Soon, with a little luck, modest success, and Simoleons, he hoped to bring this dream into fruition. Hopefully, it wouldn't take him too long to find the right woman, finish the build and start a family. He was pushing thirty, after all. Somehow that scared him, just a bit.
He also invited Zoe out to Magnolia Blossom Park and in her gracious manner, she allowed him to start fresh with her. They really were just acquaintances. So, he treated her as such.
“So, remind me again of what your name is?”
“Zoe, silly. Don’t you think you’re carrying this a bit too far? I’ve already told you I’m happy to start again.”
“I was just checking,” he grinned.
Before too much time passed, they were friends. In the space of three months, they were really good friends. A few more months went by. And they were still friends. This was a good sign.
Taking the time to get to know someone, Erik was discovering, was a wondrous process and very, very satisfying. He realized the more time they spent together, without the pressure he’d put on them in his ‘I-don’t-have-time-to-waste’ manner, that things progressed better.
"So yellow and pink are your favorite colors. And you like rock music," he said. "That's good. I'm rather fond of guitar solos, myself."
"Have you heard the new album?"
"You mean the one by the Bad Fellows?"
"Yes, that's the one. It just came out, I found it at the music store."
"I would love to hear it."
"Maybe you should come over to my place and we can listen to it."
"I would like that very much."
He really came to know Zoe. And the more he learned about her, who she was, what she liked and didn’t like, allowed his attraction to turn into infatuation, which finally turned into love.
They spent many ‘dates’ at the park. In an effort to be open and honest and fair to her, Erik had opted for almost full disclosure, inasmuch as he let her know he was basically broke. She didn’t seem to mind. He also learned as much as he could about her, too. One evening, after they’d had one of the deepest conversations, sharing secrets they'd told no one else, their fears, insecurities, and their dreams for the future, he leaned in and gently kissed her.
That's when he knew he was truly in love with her.
By the way she responded, he guessed, she felt the same way, too. At that time, however, he was too afraid to say the words, lest he scare her off again. So, he determined to bide his time. When the time was right, he would know it.
In the meantime, he would just enjoy being with her. Continuing to explore this mystery called, Zoe. Loving her, doing for her, and allowing himself to hope there was a genuine future for them, together.
Slow and easy was the key. One night, they went to the Blue Velvet Night Club together. Again, not a date, date, just two friends out for an evening of fun. They danced, they chatted, they flirted and suddenly Erik realized she was the One he had been looking for. The moment arrived, and Erik gazed lovingly into Zoe’s eyes, got down on his knee and popped the question. For the third time in his life. Only this time, he meant it. He really meant it. So much so, it was all he could do to keep from grabbing Zoe and running off to elope.
The moment was warm and special, in a manner that was unlike any other time he'd popped the question. Before it had been in haste. This time, he waited, patiently, for the moment to present itself. "Zoe," he began, "I have come to know you like I've known no other. I love you with all of my heart. Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
Zoe’s eyes grew wide, "Oh, Erik, it's so sparkly! I mean, yes. Yes, of course, I'll marry you!" Their hands were shaky as he slid the ring onto her finger. Zoe, like any other woman, admired it, getting used to the feel of it on her hand. The diamond was sizeable. She found herself wondering how he’d managed to afford such a gem. She knew enough about him to know he was starting all over. From scratch. She also was aware, although he owned a rather large parcel of land, he was living like a Nomad in a tent. All of this she knew, and yet she still said yes. She had come to love him so much. He was just so sweet. Not at all the jerk she supposed him to be, in the beginning. She was very glad she’d given him a second chance. Finding it well worth it.
Zoe could tell, too, that Erik was just as excited as she. She jumped into his arms and he smiled. They both laughed and wished they’d had some sparkling juice to help seal the deal. For a crazy moment, Zoe almost suggested they run off and elope. But, the ring was obviously an expensive item. He must have worked overtime just to pay for it. Why not give it its due? A formal wedding was in order. Besides, after all Erik had been through, two previous engagements that failed, he deserved a nice wedding. If they moved in together, she could add her paycheck to his, and then they could make a nice wedding of it. She shared her thoughts with Erik about it, and he agreed.
In between work and living off the land, something in Erik had changed back to who he started out to be before fame got a stranglehold on him. He was definitely more at ease with himself, and those around him. He never realized before just how stressed out his fast-paced life had made him. But, he was grateful for the respite. And he looked forward to marrying Zoe. In an effort to earn as much Simoleons as he could, he worked hard and managed to get a promotion. That brought a nice bonus check with it. He was determined to throw a wonderful wedding for this Sim whom he loved so very much and for them to start a family, just as soon as Zoe was ready for it. Erik had very slowly changed lanes in his life, easing off of the accelerator and easing over a lane or two into a slower one.