After nearly three hours, I wandered outside Sun Health Hospital after being reassured that my father was in good hands. The doctors had claimed he had a mini seizure, and I tried to tell them it was a side effect of the EXCES. One of the male doctors gave me a strange look, and the nurse flat-out laughed at me. They told me they would do everything they could to make him comfortable, and that they knew what they were doing. I argued with every single one of them, and didn’t stop until Lina Lancaster showed up. She rubbed her hand in soothing circles on my back and included me in the conversations with the doctors. Finally, she told me to go home and get some rest.
I couldn’t rest. How could I rest? My dad was in the hospital? On his birthday? I was wired from the three foam cups of bad hospital coffee. I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Lina assured me she would call me if anything changed and that I wouldn’t help him by pacing holes in the floor. I decided I should probably try and get some fresh air.
The outside was still sticky hot, and the heat made me feel a bit nauseous after being in the air-conditioned ward for several hours. I rubbed the sides of my head, feeling so frustrated. Why didn’t they believe me until Lina showed up? I mean, I don’t have medical credentials, but I do know my own dad. I’ve done tons of research on EXCES. Why wouldn’t they let me help him? The voice of reason plopped down and reminded me that I really didn’t know how to help him and he was in the safest place for the moment.
A pale sheer stream of greenish-blue light caught my attention in the night sky. It was too early in the season and too far south for the aurora. What could be causing the strange light phenomenon? With nothing better to do, I decided to walk and follow the light. Perhaps I could find its origin. My heels clicked across the hospital parking lot, through the town center, and around to what appeared to be a beautiful well.
This must be the wishing well, I surmised. The intricate designs in the clay reminded me of the old Simspani missions of Califorsimia and Simvada. Over three hundred years ago, Simspani monks arrived in Starlight Shores, Califorsimia, and began setting up missions within a day’s journey of each other to provide food, shelter, community, and religion to weary travelers. The Loyoleans were a branch of the Jacoban church, if I remembered correctly, and also were responsible for creating the original Simolean pieces. I found a spare coin in my dress pocket, fingering the silver piece gingerly.
Now days, most people carried around credit chips, but there was something wonderful about old school Simos. Like I’m carrying a piece of history. The Loyoleans set up water fountains in each of the towns where they had a mission. After three hundred years, few still stood, and the Lucky Palms one was considered a historical landmark. I sat down on the edge, flicking my finger in the cool slowly moving water. I was grateful this one still stood. I recalled the tales of magical properties in the water. If I was a little kid and still believed in magic, I would’ve carried a cup back to my bedridden, unconscious father in the hospital. But I don’t. I dug my teal-tipped toe in the grass.
Standing back up, I stared down at the cyan waters, wondering if anything really had magical properties. A lump formed in my throat. What if my father was dying? What if he never woke up? What if this was the end?
Stop it, Kass! I urged myself with reason. Still, the thought of mysteriously healing wells calmed the knots in my stomach. I laid a hand absently across my abdomen, Simo coin still perched between my second and third finger. I caught sight of words carved into the stone in the old Simspani tongue. I tried to remember my school lessons, and if I was translating right, the words read:
Here is the fabled well of wishes, where prayers of humble souls are heard and always answered. Utter your prayer, say your peace, and toss a coin.”
I scoffed. Prayers answered? When have any of my prayers been answered? I swallowed hard. Not that I’ve been praying. I racked my brain. Had I ever prayed? Seriously prayed? I didn’t think I could recall a single time when I lifted my words to an unseen, yet all-seeing god above and hoped he would answer. Something deep inside of me urged me to do so now. For my father’s sake. I sighed, squeezed my eyes shut, and folded my hands neatly in front of myself.
“Am I doing this right?” I wondered aloud. “Okay… here goes…” I cleared my throat. “God… somewhere out there in the universe… hear me… well you’ve got to hear me. The well says so. I mean, if you’re real, and if you’re actually a god, you don’t have to do what the well says…” I opened my eyes and ran a hand absently through my hair. “Wow! This is stupid!”
I looked around, hoping no one had seen or heard my pathetic attempt at praying. After a moment, I was satisfied I was alone, and returned my eyes to the fountain.
“Alright… can’t get much worse… don’t know what I’m really doing, but… well…” I squeezed one eye open. “…guess I’ve gotta be humble. That’s if I’m translating the Simspani correctly. It could be human and then I guess that would be discriminatory since there are other races out there and the supernaturals and all…” I opened my eyes fully again.
Wow! God probably thinks I’m nuts.
“If you’re really listening, please answer me. Dad is sick… that’s Howard Fullbright in case you didn’t know… well, wait of course, you know. You’re God,” I grunted in frustration with myself.
“Be with my Dad. Heal him…” I sighed heavily, wondering if I should add anything else. “And… if I can ask… I’d like to be a little less lonely, God, if you aren’t too busy.”
I did the sign of the cross on my chest, figuring I was probably doing it backwards, but it was something I used to do when I went to mass with Gage and his family or Nonna and Nonno. I kissed my coin since it seemed like a good idea, wishing for something wonderful to happen, and tossed the silver piece into the fountain. I waited. Nothing happened. I felt a wave of disappointment. This was probably just a stupid way for the monks to fund the church back in the day, and now was a tourist trap, a money making machine for the city.
“See I knew you were lying!” I shook my fist at the sky angrily, and dropped into annoyed muttering, “…humble souls? Prayers always answered? Ha!”
“Hi, how’s it going?”
“GAH!” I jumped, startled.
I stared dead-ahead at the fountain, wondering if some spirit or perhaps God himself was speaking to me from the stones. Or perhaps it was a tourist gimmick. Either way, I rubbed my head and figured I was hearing things.
“Hi, how’s it going?” the voice repeated itself.
“Uh… God?” I squeaked.
This was met with a hearty laugh, and a rugged looking, hairy, very-real man appeared at my side much to my surprise.
“Wha?? Oh… you startled me! Uh…. hi…” I stammered.
“How’s your evening going?” he asked calmly and self-assuredly.
“My evening?” I asked. “I… uh… wow! Where did you come from? I seriously was in deep thought and you just… pouf!”
“I poufed?” he repeated, and grinned. “You know you still haven’t answered my question.”
“Oh! My evening! Well, I… uh… peachy.” Wow! I sound like an idiot! This hot guy is talking to me and I am butchering it badly.
“Peaches are a good fruit,” he nodded in agreement. “You aren’t from around here?”
“Um… yes, I like peaches,” I replied. I could’ve kicked myself. I sounded so stupid. I gave a weak chuckle. “Was that a question?”
“Lucky Palms. You’re not a native.”
“No, I’m not. How could you tell?”
“The wishing well… mayor keeps it up for the tourists.”
“Yeah, well, that’s me… tourist…tourist-y… person… me… uh… wow! I think I need to go dunk in the river now. I’m usually not this…”
“…adorable,” he filled in the blank.
I sighed, “Well, I was going to say weird, but thank you for your kindness… uh… um…” I tried not to panic since I didn’t know his name.
“Billy Caspian,” he said, swinging his arms with self-assurance. “And don’t worry, Red. I’m not a local either.”
“Oh okay…” I sighed, relieved. Wait, why am I relieved?
“But I am a native,” he added suavely. “I was born here. My mom was a dancer at the Lucky Simoleon Casino. So where are you from?”
“Ah, I’m from Califorsimia,” I stated.
“What’s your story, Red?” he asked.
“Red?” I made a face.
“Yeah, you still haven’t told me your name,” Billy smirked. “I’ve told you mine… Billy… and you are?” he pointed at me.
“Oh,” I flushed. “Kass.”
“Kass, I like it,” he nodded and smiled.
“Nice to meet you,” I offered my hand, and then realized maybe that wasn’t the best move.
He surprised me by taking my hand gently and pressing his lips to my skin. “A pleasure meeting you also. So what are you doing here tonight? Hoping to kiss a frog prince?” his eyes twinkled mischievously in the dark.
I blushed deeply. “Uh…” Why is this very very very attractive guy flirting with me? “My dad is in the hospital… and I needed some air.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” he sobered. “Is he okay?”
“I think so,” I winced. “At least that’s what his nurse told me… not to worry…”
“Then you shouldn’t,” his face melted into a smile. “Worry clogs the pores. You should drink the water in the Palms. They say it has healing properties… if you believe that stuff… so you still haven’t told me your story?”
“My… uh… story…” I pulled my hand back and stammered as I tried to change the subject. “I was born in Sunset Valley. That’s where I’m from, but right now my dad and I are on a cross-country road trip journey thing. Well we’re getting to know each other again. You see he wasn’t in my life for awhile and now he is.”
“Right on,” Billy remarked.
“Yeah, well, we’re here now, but we’re planning to see the rest of the country. I’ve never really traveled,” I explained.
“Well, I thank the stars then your travels brought you here and coincided with my own, Kass,” he replied.
“Cool,” was all I could think to say.
I stumbled forward, my stiletto catching between the stones. Billy grabbed my arm to steady me, and I thought I would melt beneath his touch.
“Actually…” I squeaked, feeling warm. “It’s Kassiopeia.”
“Your name?” Billy replied. “Like the stars?”
“Yeah, like the stars,” I remarked, feeling light-headed, and I brushed my brow, sure there was sweat pouring down my face.
“Okay, Red,” he grinned.
Billy leaned forward and kissed me. I didn’t stop him. His lips were moist and he tasted like garlic. It was an odd to be thinking about garlic when kissing. I didn’t know if I liked or disliked it. I wondered if I tasted like chicken. I wished I had brushed my teeth before kissing him.His hairy muscular arms wrapped around my upper back, leaning into me as he did. His embrace sent little electric impulses throughout my body. I awkwardly tried to decide what to do with my hands.
I decided to embrace the moment. As odd as it was to kiss a stranger, I liked the sensation. Kissing Davis had never felt like this. This felt… adult… and sexy. Billy traced my warm neck with his fingertips, causing me to scrunch my shoulders in response. I grabbed his waist with one arm and brought my other arm around to his shoulder blade, sliding my left leg forward, allowing my bare skin to touch his soft cotton pants, pressing into his thigh. My head was spinning faster than a carousel, but unlike the real thing, I didn’t want to get off this particular carnival ride.
As quickly as we began, we stopped. He chuckled softly, and at first, I thought he was laughing at me. Then he said, “Well, that was fun. I’ll see you around, Red,” as if I was a buddy or a classmate, not a beautiful woman he had just spent five minutes making out with. Like he appeared, he was gone, saying something about hoping all my wishes and prayers coming true, and he raced down the street as if he had to be somewhere else.
Well, that was wildly inappropriate and impulsive, I frowned, lifting my fingers to my lips. Red? Did he forget my name? What just happened? Feeling weak in the knees, I lowered myself to the edge of the fountain. I caught my reflection in the wishing well, smiling.
After a moment of processing in my usual over-analytical way, I lifted myself reluctantly, deciding it was time to return to the hospital. I chalked it up to a moment with fate, an answered prayer, or a mere fluke of nature.
Whatever it was…, I stared off into the direction Billy had disappeared to, it was hot…
Author Note: I enjoyed writing this chapter, and Kass’ chance encounter with Billy at the wishing well. Now the crossover begins… since in FRWL, Billy left Gage in charge of the museum while going on a business trip to the Palms. FYI, Billy does have the ‘inappropriate trait’ prior to my editing and tweaking his character for my story, and I left this in.
I shared a little bit about the story behind the wishing well in Lucky Palms in Episode 1, and now I’ve added more. I love traditions. It seemed appropriate to include the part about the Simspani monks, a play on Spanish monks and the California missions. The Loyoleans are a play on Jesuits, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. If you read here, you’d know that Starlight Shores, which in my Simworld is the southernmost city in Califorsimia, was founded by monks. It seemed appropriate to tie those monastics to this well and the Simspani a.k.a. Spanish missions. Hope you enjoyed.