3b: Above Ground

3b (2)

My world was made of pink.

It was great, mostly. I mean, pink. You know how much I love pink, Janelle, and I perhaps loved it more when I was teenager. But, in the end, it wasn’t so much about loving the color. It was simply the best I could do.

The limited savings that I had left from my mother, a grand sum of 15,000 (give or take) simoleons, I had spent to renovate and redecorate our damp basement storage room into a real shop. Not that it was exceedingly easy—there’s not much that you can do to make a business run out of your basement seem legitimate. But, teens who are essentially hiding from the government can’t exactly buy a storefront…

So the pink and the nice decorations were there to work to convince customers that, despite the location, my lingerie store was a reputable business and worthwhile enterprise.

It was… sort of working.

But, all told, I couldn’t wait to become a young adult. My 18th birthday, there would be a change, dammit. I would move above ground, make this business something legitimate (or, as legitimate as a lingerie store could be).

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B “This is it.”
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B “This cake. This marks the beginning of my adult life.”
3b (8)
B “Finally!”

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Was I nervous about becoming a young adult? You know, Janelle, maybe I should have been. That would be the normal thing to do, after all. But I’ve never much felt like wasting my time on worrying over should. And getting worked up over whether I was normal? Yeah, I don’t think so.

So no. I wasn’t nervous. After all, I’d been on my own for a while by this time anyway. If my life had proceeded normally, I would have been just exiting school, entering the real world for the first time after being protected by the bubble of school and parents for my entire life. But really, not that much was changing for me. Young adulthood held no uncertainty. I had a plan, I knew what needed to be done. And really? I fully expected young adulthood to be easier. After all, now I could earn legitimate money. Now I could stop hiding from all adults beyond those that journeyed to my basement for a pair of panties. I didn’t have to worry about being sent off to an orphanage or foster home or…

As I saw it, my worries were over.

I ate my cake happily.

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And I slept soundly.

Now, I was entering young adulthood with a plan. I had it all worked out—what I would do, how it would happen. A storefront. Simple, executable.

But first, I needed the money.

And for that? I needed to schmooze.

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B “Enchante.”

I’d stayed away from taking advantage of my natural charisma and flirty nature while I was a teenager. After all, those were adults (for the most part, at least) frequenting my store. And, despite the winks and flirty gestures I would throw out to close a deal, I drew a line somewhere. Anything beyond words was illegal, after all. And I wasn’t interested in attracting the sort of clientele that would hit on a teenage girl, especially not when I couldn’t protect myself or report them to the police without risking my own freedom.

But now? Was it skeevy, yes. But was it worth it for the sales? Absolutely. And it was fun!

3b (31)
B “A handsome rose for a handsome man *wink*”

This guy, Lamar—I even got him to loan me 2,000 simoleons.

3b (32)
Lamar “Wanna come back to my place after work, gorgeous?”

I kicked him out pretty quickly after that. An important life lesson, Janelle: a little flirting goes a long way. But ending the anticipation and putting out? Not only is it likely to end your income, but it also just makes you seem cheap. Never sleep with a man you’ve got on a hook, dear.

3b (34)
Ryan “Hey there, lovely.”

Life Lesson #2: If you flirt with two guys at once? The both of them will fall at your feet.

Now, I’ll admit, Janelle, I wasn’t the brightest when it came to business. As it happened, in those early days of young adulthood, when I was trying to scrounge up enough money to become a legitimate business, I wasn’t the best at selling goods. No, I was far better at selling myself—not that way, ye with dirty minds, but my brand, my dream, my attitude.

I focused too much on the men—the older men, mostly, who had deeper pockets and little excitement in their lives. My other customers, I’ll admit, fell somewhat to the wayside. It wasn’t the business model I intended to put forward.

And, I must say, Janelle… I was still young. I was still so very young, despite how mature I felt at the time. I felt like I had all these standards, had set up all these boundaries with the men that I flirted with, the men I held in anticipation to get their patronage at my store, to get their loan, to get whatever…

The moment I saw I man I found attractive? All those boundaries fell away.

3b (38)
B “Hey, sexy.”

It wasn’t mature. It wasn’t smart. It was just plain stupid, driven by hormones. Don’t try to pick up men in your lingerie store, Janelle. For that matter, if your work involves flirtation and potentially blurred lines, don’t mix business with pleasure at all. Flirt when you need to, but keep your distance. Failing to keep up your boundaries is how you end up with a baby at nineteen.

But then again…

3b (42)

My fluctuating boundaries did get me a shop.

I was in love with it at first sight, Janelle. The little shop that you and your siblings ran around in as children, the place where you took naps in the storage room and played hide and seek between the mannequins—I knew that it was perfect from the moment I saw it. Of course, it’s been expanded a good bit since I first had it built. But, in its essence, it’s still the same little shop. Pink siding, pink roof. Baby pink walls, lined with stunning mannequins.

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The new space even allowed for a men’s section.

I was so in love with it that, for a few weeks when it was first open, I didn’t go home. I had the movers bring up the bed from the guestroom, I purchased a vending machine, and I slept in a tiny little backroom off the sales floor.

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It was perfect.

3b (50)

3b (51)
B “Hey there, handsome. Nice to see you found our new location.”
3b (52)
B “Thanks for stopping by.”

In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t been so good about letting my basement clientele know that the store was moving. I wish I’d just thrown business sense to the wind and worked at cultivating a new customer base at B’s new location.

That way, maybe Max wouldn’t have become such a frequent customer.

3b (56)
Max “B! You minx!”
3b (57)
B “Oh hush, you sexy fox. You love it.”
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