1.3 Passing Time (ALOW)

After a late lunch, Jenara settled into her dad’s computer in the old office. After checking her emails and bank account balance, she sent a quick email of thanks to her great aunt’s attorney and the caretaker of her family estate.

Bloop! 

She smiled. Eva.

Jenara quickly typed a few words to her friend via chat.

TheDarlingYearling: Hey girl, I miss you. 

CapricciosaBossa: OMG! Jenara! It’s great that I caught you! I didn’t think I would with the time zone thing.

The DarlingYearling: Yes, you caught me. I’m settling into my old home. 

CapricciosaBossa: Wow… how’s that for you? 

TheDarlingYearling: Weird, but I’ll adjust. How are things in Windenburg? 

CapricciosaBossa: I headed back to Simtalia for the summer. I didn’t want to deal with the drama. 

Jenara frowned. She knew Eva meant the stuff with Jenara’s ex-boyfriend. The three of them, plus a few others, had shared a house together. After the break-up, things grew tense in the residence with the roommates picking sides. Jenara didn’t blame her friend for getting out. She had been grateful for an excuse to leave Deutchsimland also. The ladies chatted for a half-hour. Eva told her about the strange hours she was keeping at her new job as a night club assistant manager. The girl certainly had talent, and with her flair for the dramatic and design, Jenara suspected her friend would go far in the club life.

CapricciossaBossa: I’ve gotta snooze if I’m gonna be alert for my shift tonight. Keep in touch. XOXOX, girlie! 

TheDarlingYearling: Get some sleep. I will. XOXOX back attcha. 

Jenara poked around with her chat settings, killing time to see if any of her other uni mates would pop up online, but given the lateness of the hour overseas, she didn’t hear from anyone.

Closing out her chat, she loaded TheSims. Nothing like an alternate world and playing supreme commander for awhile to beat the blahs. After an hour in CAS customizing her Sim’s appearance, and another hour of wooing the boy next door, Jenara’s Sim had found love and settled into the heart-shaped hot tub for some heat and fun. Jenara clicked save in frustration. Even in an alternate reality, Sims were finding love with ease. 

Pff! she blew a tuft of brown hair out of her glasses. I’m pathetic.

She wasn’t going to make friends staying indoors and gaming all the time, despite her undying love for all things Sims. Cracking her knuckles, she leaned in her dad’s office chair and interlocked her fingers behind her head.

Think! Think! There had to be a community center around here where she could meet people, or maybe a local park. She should probably go grocery shopping. Jenara closed her eyes and began making a mental shopping list.

A throaty whistling sound interrupted her thoughts. Her eyes snapped open. Standing up, she followed the sound through the office and kitchen and into the living room. Feeling a bit like a creeper, she peered through her blinds and caught sight of one of the most beautiful men she had ever seen.

He was whistling and walking happily with a plate full of fruit cake wrapped in a crimson bow…

…and he was headed straight for her front door.


This is the fourth post in my brand new series, A Life of Whimsy, following Jenara Yearling, my torch bearer, for an ISBI TS4 challenge. If you want to learn more about my plans, click HERE. Eva Capricciosa is a TS4 Sim. And I just love that my Sims can play the Sims forever! Lol.

Hope you enjoyed!

Previous Chapter: 1.2 Welcome Home

Next Chapter: 1.4 New Neighbors

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1.2 Welcome Home (ALOW)

There is no need to feel sorry for myself, Jenara thought as she wandered through her childhood home. She was grateful to her aunt for this generous gift. She could make a home here. She knew it. It would take some doing. Thank goodness Jenara’s favorite color was the same as her mother’s. Otherwise the red decor would be incredibly off-putting.

Jenara stepped into the dining room, already feeling more lighthearted. This would be a fun project to tackle. She was certain she could make things work. She would make her parents proud and take care of their home and raise a family here, having the children they were unable to have, and continuing on the Yearling legacy. Something about the prospect of little ones filling the home with laughter and messes put a bounce in her step.

Pressing her fingers to the glass, Jenara recalled many a messy mealtime. Pasta was a family fave. She could almost smell the herbs and garlic. Ma never seemed to mind cleaning the smudges of fingerprints and red sauce on the impractical glass table. If her parents could raise a little girl with a glass table, Jenara would too.

What’s this? 

She noticed a piece of paper with a fancy looking letterhead in the center of the dining room table. Leaning forward, she picked up the letter and read…

Dear Miss Yearling, if you are reading this, then you received my keys in the mail and are settling into your new old home. If you need anything, do not hesitate to call my firm. We can schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience to go over the details of the estate. 

Sincerely,

J. R. S., Attorney-at-Law

P.S. I hope your favorite ice cream is still dark cherry. I thought you could use a welcome home present. You’ll find a container in your freezer. 

Jenara gasped in surprise. How thoughtful. She slipped out of her shoes, grateful to feel the ground beneath her, and walked into the kitchen, already feeling at home. The dessert was right where she expected it to be. Jenara poked through the cupboards, collecting a spoon, bowl, and ice cream scoop. It didn’t matter that it was before eleven in the morning. She was going to eat her welcome home present and enjoy every minute of it.

Carrying her ice cream into the living room, she found herself wondering about this J.R.S. person. Auntie’s attorney, but the letter implied a certain familiarity. Was it someone who knew me as a child? Turning on the television, she was pleased to find the cable connected. After channel surfing for a few minutes, she settled into the tan and red leather couch as she decided to watch a romantic comedy on television.

Two-and-a-half hours later, Jenara had laughed and cried and cheered as the main characters found happiness after two career changes, some brain damage, and a move across the world, proving once again love conquers all. She didn’t care if it was sappy as the movie couple kissed the perfect kiss. Perhaps that would be her someday.


This is the third post in my brand new series, A Life of Whimsy, following Jenara Yearling, my torch bearer, for an ISBI TS4 challenge. If you want to learn more about my plans, click HERE. Hope you enjoyed!

Previous Chapter: 1.1 Memories

Next Chapter: 1.3 Passing Time

1.1 Memories (ALOW)

Dear Jenara, 

I wish I could be there to present this letter to you in person. I had always hoped to make the trek to Deutchsimland for your graduation day, and alas! My body is getting old. My hips ache fiercely, and my arthritis keeps me from writing this letter by hand. The local library has allowed me use of a computer to type out my final words to you. I sincerely hope you are well and happy, and that you know my thoughts and prayers are with you always. This is such an accomplishment – graduating from university with a degree in technology. Your parents would have been so proud. I hope my saying that does not upset you. 

I fear I will not live much longer, and I know that is a heavy thing to burden you with at this stage of your life, my dear, as a promising young graduate. Even so, I cannot wait any longer to tell you that when I pass, you will need to know some things. First, your cousin, Ano, my only son, will be inheriting my home in Big Apple City. This is for the best as I do not think the upkeep of two homes is reasonable for you, my dear. I was not close with my son, which I regret, but I feel this is my way of providing for his future.

Second, I am leaving you the home of your parents. I attained the property rights when they passed long ago, and I always intended to give it to you upon my death. I have a property manager who has been renting the place for years for me, but since your graduation, I have requested the place be vacated for you. I have also had all the furniture brought from storage and the house reset as it was when you left. I do not know if that was the right thing to do, but I didn’t want to eliminate a thing in case you would want it someday. Should you feel the need to update the furnishings, by all means, do so. I am leaving you a substantial sum of money that should cover a complete remodel if you so desire. 

Finally, if the upkeep of the estate or returning to your childhood home is too painful for you, I’d understand. Please feel free to contact my property manager, a man by the name of Dennis Kim, and he should be able to arrange the listing of the home and manage the selling for you. I only want what’s best for you, my dear, I always have, so I will not be offended if you need to sell. Do with the property as you like. I think your parents would approve of this choice. I am sending you this personal letter, but you will also receive official documentations from my attorney. 

All the best,

Your auntie, Ana Nova Yearling 

Jenara shoved the crumpled paper into her pocket for the umpteenth time. She had read and reread her great aunt’s letter and it seemed only appropriate to read it once more upon entering her old bedroom. She still couldn’t believe Ana Nova was gone, but such was the circle of life.

Wandering around the perfectly kept playroom and bedroom of her childhood, Jenara noted all the items of her past and the strange emotions that accompanied. The trundle bed served as a staunch reminder of another loss – one that Jenara didn’t much recall, but was still painful. The loss of her little sister, the one her ma had miscarried. Pops never had the heart to get rid of the toddler bed and she surmised the baby crib was probably still in the attic.

Jenara swiped at a lone tear, unsure whether she cried for old losses or new ones. Her auntie must have taken photographs because even her plump teddy bear, Mister Pickles, sat in his corner next to the door, and her toy stallion, Carmine lay on the giraffe-spot carpet in the center of the room.

After all these years, she gasped as she picked up the cherished horse. It was if yesteryear had been frozen in some weird time bubble. Jenara turned to leave and noticed a display of items on a tiny bulletin board on the wall.

That’s odd, she wrinkled her nose.

The one thing out of place… 

Perhaps her auntie hadn’t been as thorough as she thought. Even so, Jenara stepped up to the board out of curiosity. She noted the painting of a tree and a puppy calendar, a few loan stickers, and a blue ribbon bearing the words – 1st Place. Perhaps these photographs belonged to one of the former renters of the estate. Jenara couldn’t help but feel longing in her heart as she noted the smiling teenagers posing for a picture.

That could’ve been me, if I had lived here.

Setting down Carmine on the shelf, she pushed up on the sides of her face near her temple, running her fingers into her hair.

Can’t change the past, she sighed heavily. Time for new memories. 


This is the second post in my brand new series, A Life of Whimsy, following Jenara Yearling, my torch bearer, for an ISBI TS4 challenge. If you want to learn more about my plans, click HERE. Hope you enjoyed!

Previous Chapter: 1.0 Checklist

Next Chapter:  1.2 Welcome Home

1.0 Checklist (ALOW)

After three planes, two trains, and one bus, twenty-one year-old Jenara Yearling was finally home. It was a strange feeling. She had not returned since she was seven years old. The place looked much the same, except someone had planted fresh flowers in each of the window boxes. Jenara had known her great aunt had retained possession of the property and had been renting out for years, but she was surprised how good of condition the brick estate was as if her Ma and Pops were still alive and well and bustling about the grounds.

What is this feeling? Wistful? Thoughtful? Melancholic? 

Jenara didn’t want to feel depressed. Not on her first day back home in nearly fourteen years. She rubbed her forehead. Perhaps she was feeling dizzy from her whirlwind trip from Windenberg. Thanks to her generous guardian, Jenara was able to attend university in Deutchsimland and pursue a degree in technology. As a recent college grad and the sole heiress of her great aunt’s estate, Jenara was a bit overwhelmed and unsure of herself. When learning of Ana Nova’s passing, she immediately returned Stateside.

On the plane she had made a checklist on her tablet.

  • Move into the neighborhood. 
  • Assess condition of the house. 
  • Unpack personal effects.
  • Talk to the bank about property taxes and property value. 
  • Discuss affairs with auntie’s lawyer. 
  • Find a job to pay for upkeep on the home. 

At some point, she found herself drifting into the wishful category.

  • Make new friends. 
  • Fall in love. 
  • Have a family. 

More than anything, she wanted the last one. An only child raised by an aging caregiver, Jenara always felt lonely as a child. It was part of why she traveled overseas to the Sim Union to try new things and meet new people. She had hoped to receive a ring by the time she graduated, but her collegiate Deutchsim boyfriend had other plans, and they didn’t involve moving to sweltering Oasis Springs, Simvada, or children. So when he broke up with her on graduation day, Jenara wasn’t surprised. They had different life goals. Even so, she couldn’t help but feel sad. Four years of her life she could never get back. Four years of wonderful memories and loving moments… just gone…

…much like her auntie. Jenara had never been close with Ana Nova, but the woman hadn’t been cold or distant. They were just separated by two generations which made it difficult to understand one another. Even so, her auntie had tried to give Jenara everything she wanted, indulging her whims. Perhaps that would make most children spoiled, but Jenara had always felt she had a good head on her shoulders. Maybe it was because she wanted friends, not things, but she always felt like her great aunt was trying to be kind and make up for the loss of family.

During her sophomore year in high school, she discovered a love of gadgetry and learned how to take things apart and put them back together. She was better than most of her classmates at gaming, collecting high scores like nobody’s business. Unfortunately, that just increased her isolation as her friends grew jealous and distant. Now whenever she was feeling lonely, she plunged herself into a new gaming challenge or attempted to take apart her latest piece of technology and put it back together. That… or drown her sorrows in a tub of dark cherry ice cream and a romance movie.

She reached for the doorknob, and entered her key.

Deep breath, Jenara, she told herself. Here we go. 


This is the first post in my brand new series, A Life of Whimsy, following Jenara Yearling, my torch bearer, for an ISBI TS4 challenge. If you want to learn more about my plans, click HERE. In the meantime, enjoy!

1.64 Fade to Black (CFT)

Author’s Note: For some odd reason, the previous chapter didn’t publish on the correct date. In case you missed it, please read it first here – 1.63 Need to Know. There’s important information in that chapter you need before proceeding. This is the final chapter in Generation 1: The Price of Ambitions. I’d love your feedback below, and if you’d let me know who you’d like to see in the future in the poll below also, I’d appreciate it. Thanks for coming along this bumpy journey with me in the Colt Family Traitacy. 


Rachel’s whole world came to a crashing halt… only she couldn’t afford to stop long enough to process. To breathe. To think clearly. To escape. She knew what she wanted to do. But she chose the best she could do, whether it was right. No matter what the price for her ambitions was… and she hoped it was worth it.

Four months ago, Rachel walked down the aisle for the second time to meet her husband, William Alton Racket. Everything inside of her had wanted to cry. She knew she was signing her heart’s death warrant, but there was too much at stake. She would be the proper Southern wife. She would go to counseling and make things work for the sake of her family. She would be the epitome of grace. She would be the representative of her city and act as a mayor should. She would provide the best stability for her daughter and son. She would be the woman she should be and rise above it all, despite the horrible truth… one which she would leave in the gnarly pit of despair forever

Bill had looked so handsome in grey tuxedo with his white scarf. The vow renewal had taken place in the Racket mansion backyard. Someone had sprinkled purple rose petals up the aisle. The shepherd had stood waiting beneath the beautiful wooded arch with white magnolias for the “happy couple.” Gala served as the matron of honor, her husband, DeAndre, and their baby girl, Quiana seated behind. Lolly was the extra bridesmaid and her boyfriend, Sinbad was even dressed served as the extra groomsman, and Dennis… had been the “best man.” It didn’t seem fair. Rachel knew it wasn’t fair. It was horrible. But she couldn’t do anything. She couldn’t say anything. She could lose everything and so could he. So on that day four months, two weeks, and six days before, Rachel Nyssa Colt held her head high and smiled at their guests as she reached for Bill’s hand to take him to be her husband… “till death do us part.”

Lolly and Sinbad returned to school.

Her mother and Virginia had returned home.

Gala and DeAndre moved to New Simoleans to open a restaurant.

Dennis went to visit Shark in rehab.

It was just Bill and Rachel, Hope, and the baby on the way in the manor. Rachel had never felt more lonely in her life. She should’ve been happy. She should’ve been grateful. This was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. The kind of day little girls dream about where they marry the wealthy man who loves and cares for them. Sure, Bill and Rachel hadn’t done things the traditional way, but things were better now.

A year ago, she was considering divorce. Now she was wondering if she made the best decision. But looking at her daughter, seated in the high chair, snacking on cereal for dinner, babbling about colors and fishies in the water, Rachel knew she could never leave her precious baby girl.

Today, Rachel had given birth to Ernest Phillip. Bill wanted their son to have his name, but she couldn’t do it. She literally could not write Ernest Phillip… Racket on the birth certificate. She wrote Colt instead. She also hesitated to write Bill’s name on the line as father. It was too painful to think about – he wanted to be a good dad and a good husband, but she couldn’t let him. In her heart, it was Dennis.

He was the one who had been there for her when she was pregnant with Hope. He was the one who had been there for her when Shark and Lolly confided in her and she needed help. He was the one who had been there for her when Max stabbed her last fall. She still had the scars. Dennis was the one who had held her in his arms when she cried because Bill never showed up at the ICU. Dennis was the one who made love to her like no man had ever done after she hadn’t wanted to go back to her hotel room alone after her release from the hospital. Dennis had been a man trapped in a loveless marriage. She should be grateful that her spouse was nothing like Silver. At least Bill cared and loved her now. He was around. He tried.

In the past few months, so many things had changed. Shark had continued to have ups and downs with his rehabilitation, and had made two more suicide attempts. Russ’ wife, Bo and their baby son were killed in a “mugging gone wrong” three weeks ago, and all hell broke loose. Drive-by shootings and gang fights in alleys had become more commonplace. Bodies turned up in the swamps. The Racket family business continued its in-fighting. It was practically civil war on the streets of Twinbrook. The national guard had come assist, and they had all but enforced a city-wide curfew. Rachel had tried desperately to liaise with the police and other emergency services, but she couldn’t do much since she had been about to give birth. Bill ordered a twenty-four hour guard to follow Rachel in the last days of her pregnancy, terrified she could be next if Russ chose to retaliate.

He did… but not in the way people expected.

Dennis had been arrested… for the murder of Timmy DeBleu. How the hell he figured that cold case out was beyond everyone, but nonetheless, Dennis sat in the Twinbrook County Jail, awaiting sentencing. Rachel had decided today was the day she would go see him. When everyone thought she was sleeping, she slipped out of the pregnancy care center, and took a taxi across town. After a few minutes of processing, she waited nearly forty minutes before the guards brought Dennis in his orange jumpsuit. She pushed the intercom button.

“How are you?” she asked softly.

“Rachel?” he seemed shocked. “Why are you here? Is everything okay? Didn’t you have the baby just recently?”

“Yes,” she replied. “But I had to see you… and make sure you were okay.”

“I’m…” he scratched his head. “As well as can be expected. Did the labor go well? I wish I could’ve been there.”

“Labor was fine,” Rachel said, numbly.

It didn’t feel as though she had just given birth.

“I name him Ernest… Ernest Philip.”

She saw the slightest twitch of his brow. He remained silent for a moment.

“Congratulations, Rachel,” he said slowly.  “I bet Hope will be happy to have a new baby brother. Please pass along my congratulations to Bill.”

Fidgeting in her chair, Rachel changed the subject. “Are you really okay in here? Do you need anything? Do you know what’s going to happen? I’ve heard so much gossip. It’s hard to filter out the truth.”

“I always knew this would catch up with me one day. It’s time I did time.”

Rachel leaned forward and touched the glass with her hand, tears brimming in her eyes. “Dennis, you can’t… you don’t know… you could get…” she couldn’t bring herself to say it.

“The death penalty?” he said quietly. “I know.”

“What about your federal contacts?”

“Murder kinda negates my contract with them. I mean, I was trying to bring them Russ, but they’ve cut off ties since the arrest.”

“But it was in the past… so long ago.”

“Rachel, you should know better than anyone that murder has no statute of limitations.”

She cracked her knuckles nervously, wondering how Russ found the information. She wondered how he found the proof… unless… he had been in contact with Silver. Could that have been why? Rachel’s eyes widened. …why Dennis stayed married to Silver for so long? Why he never left her? A drunken affair with her husband’s cousin wouldn’t surprise Rachel. In fact, the pieces fit and made sense now. It was Silver… and Russ… holding this awful burdensome secret over Dennis’ head. It had to be. It was the only way to explain everything. And now with Silver dead and his own wife and son dead, Russ thought he had nothing left to lose.

“I know… I studied law… I just… there’s word on the streets…” she added, worriedly. “Russ is amping up something huge. Bill and I are talking about leaving Twinbrook at the end of my term.”

“You won’t need to worry about Russ much longer,” Dennis clenched his fists.

Rachel leaned forward into the glass. “Dennis…” she breathed. “How can you say that?” she glanced around as if expecting guards to swoop in on them. “…you’re in prison.”

“I made some assurances before I was taken in by the police,” he replied cryptically. “Look, Rachel, it was the only thing I could do. I wanted my family to be safe. He made threats against Shark and Lolly…and I’ve heard rumors about you and Bill and the kids. He needs to be handled once and for all.”

She lowered her eyes, feeling eternally grateful, even though she was terrified.

“This might be the last time I see you,” he added.

“What do you mean?” her eyes widened.

“Things are being handled. I’ve heard the rumors though too.”

“Please Dennis… tell me… what are you going to do?”

“I didn’t want to worry you more, but Russ has put a hit out on me.”

She gasped. She wasn’t surprised, but she never felt so fearful in her life. He seemed so calm. How could he be so damn calm? Rachel balled her fists and resisted the urge to drop her head on the tiny ledge table.

“Dennis…” she whispered.

“I know, Rachel, it’s okay. Things will be okay. I have plans. I won’t be in danger much longer.”

“How can you say that?”

“Because… just trust me, Rachel.”

“Please, please, stop saying my name.”

“Why?”

“It hurts too much…”

He sighed. “Does Bill know? About our night together?”

She shook her head fiercely.

“Good, it’s better that way. It’s better for everyone. Safer if everyone thinks he’s our son.”

Rachel gasped. “How did you know?”

They sat in silence for a moment, and Rachel’s heart ached. She wished everything was different. She wished she could go back and change every bad decision she ever made. Most of all, she desperately wished she had met Dennis first.

“I always knew,” he said, his voice catching. “I just didn’t think you wanted me to know.”

Rachel stared at him with tear-filled eyes, wishing the glass wasn’t dividing them, that she could hold the father of her newborn son, that she could hug him and tell him how sorry she was, and explain why she picked Bill over him. But he knew. She knew. It just couldn’t be.

“Ernest… it’s a nice name,” he croaked.

“After The Importance of Being Earnest,” she replied sorrowfully. “After your favorite book.”

Dennis leaned in his chair and lowered his voice. “Come with me.”

“What?” she asked as if she hadn’t heard him.

“Come with me. I know I’m risking a lot to tell you, but I just…” he continued.

“Don’t go,” she cried.

All the words they weren’t saying…

“I have to… it’s the only way… I can…” he began, but she interrupted.

“No, no,” she cried. “Dennis… I can’t… you can’t… I don’t want you to leave.”

“If I stay…” he seemed to ponder for a moment. “No, it’s the only way to be alive someday for our son. I have to go… but you can come with me.”

“I can’t,” she shook her head.

“We can be together… you… me… and Ernest… we can get away from here.”

“Dennis, it’s wishful thinking.”

“…they would never find us. We would be safe. Please, come with me, Rachel. You could meet me. I’d arrange everything. You wouldn’t have to worry.”

“But Hope…” she thought of her daughter with Bill. “And this town… my career… Bill…” she couldn’t believe she said the name of her husband. “Oh how I want to… Dennis… believe me, I want to… so much…”

“I know,” he dropped his head into his hands.

Rachel said words she never thought she would be able to say aloud genuinely and freely.

“I love you Dennis…”

 Dennis met her gaze. His eyes misted with tears. Rachel knew he had never once heard those words sincerely from his wife. Rachel knew he desperately needed and wanted to be loved just as much as she did. He reached up to touch the glass, but quickly jerked his hand. The finality of his movement only further demonstrated how trapped they both were – trapped by their lies and secrets and ambitions. She longed to hear the words from him in return, but she knew this was wishful thinking.

“…goodbye, Rachel.”

 

 


Author Note: This is the final chapter in Generation 1: The Price of Ambitions. I am feeling overwhelmingly bittersweet about this, and I hated to end on such a depressing note, but it was time to move on. Rachel and Bill are not traditional legacy founders, but it felt appropriate to end with the “vow renewal” ceremony, though the circumstances are happily ironic here.

Yes, Silver had conspired with Russ to hold the truth about the murder of Timmy DeBleu over Dennis’ head. That’s how long Russ has been operating in the shadows and driving wedges in the Racket family organization. I know that it’s a little late to be introducing that tidbit, and maybe it’s lazy writing, but I wanted to fit it in before finishing this generation.

I want to cry as I end things with Dennis and Rachel here. I wrote an alternate ending where the two run away together, but it just didn’t feel right, even if this option was infinitely more depressing. Rachel choose her career time and time again and sacrificed nearly everything for it, and now she can’t get back up to the surface. It didn’t feel realistic to have her abandon everything, plus I just couldn’t do that to darling Hope as she would forever be a reminder of Bill to Rachel since he is her father.

I also didn’t want to resolve absolutely everything in this ending. There are many things up in the air – What will happen to Russ? Will Dennis succeed and run away? Will the Rackets-Colts ever see Dennis again? How will Shark recover? Will Lolly and Sinbad stay together? Will Rachel and Bill stay together? What about Ernest? Will Rachel ever tell Bill the truth? Does she know the whole truth about Bill and his one-night-stand? Will Rachel continue to advance in her career? What is the fate of Twinbrook?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the Colt Family Traitacy – your predictions for the future, what you enjoyed from this generation, and answer any lingering questions you may have. Please let me know in the comments below. 

I also plan to continue with the Racket/Colt family. I’m not moving along to Generation 2 just yet. I plan to write an interlude – Generation 1.5 from the perspective of Shark and Lolly Racket. I already have chapters outlined. I will continue to write about Rachel Colt in the background.

I’d love your feedback about who you’d like to see, in addition to Shark and Lolly, in Generation 1.5: The Choices We Make.

1.63 Need to Know (CFT)

“You’d think since I’ve already done this once, I could do it again,” Rachel lamented to her best friend and niece.

Only an hour left. Rachel’s stomach flip-flopped and she felt the life inside her kick as if trying out for the football team. Wincing, she paused in her application of mascara. The vow renewal ceremony had been the suggestion of their marriage counselor. Rachel had agreed to go through with it as Bill insisted they do a “proper” wedding this time. He had been incredibly sweet recently, almost a completely new Bill. He gave her back rubs and foot rubs nearly every day, made her breakfasts in bed, and brought her flowers for no reason. He went on the patch, quitting cigarettes altogether, and spent as much time with his daughter as possible. He even started going to mass. He seemed like a truly repentant man, and when he kissed Rachel good night before bed, she knew he really loved her… which only made her feel more guilty.

The recent tensions in Twinbrook between rival factions of the Racket crime organization only proved the brevity of life. Rachel worked with the city police to try and make the city safer while Dennis continued to mount evidence against his cousin from the inside as best as he could, even more motivated since his son nearly was blown to pieces. That and Shark’s attempted suicide. Dennis had accompanied Shark to rehab in Appaloosa Plains, and returned even more distant, and she figured it was because he had much on his mind.

Rachel had gone to see him in Appaloosa Plains in early Simuary. She told Bill she was visiting her mother to tell her the news about the baby. She told herself she wanted to make sure Shark was okay, but really she had an ulterior motive. She needed to know.

Dennis had been surprised to see her, but graciously accepted her arrival. They had talked for hours, or what felt like days, about anything and everything under the sun. Rachel asked him about how he felt about Silver’s death, and he had admitted what she had already known – he was relieved. The woman had held a dark secret over him all these years, one which he finally shared with Rachel.

When Dennis and Silver were in college, she was dating another young man, one from a rival crime family in the state of Louisimana. His name was Timmy DeBleu, Dennis told Rachel. And he was a bastard. A real abusive son-of-a-bitch. He beat Silver regularly. Dennis was tending bar during this time and she would come in and cry at the counter over peanuts because she told him she couldn’t afford a meal. He would buy her a sandwich or a hamburger and let her pour out her sorrows. Sometimes he’d let her come home with him and sleep on his apartment couch. One night, she convinced him to be with her because she wanted to know what real lovemaking felt like. Dennis said he had a soft spot for broken birds, and he should’ve seen through Silver’s elaborate sob fests.

When Silver came into the bar with broken ribs and a broken nose, Dennis had enough. The next day he drove to Timmy’s residence and broke into the man’s home. He found the guy on top of Silver in the bed, choking her. Dennis threw the man off the poor woman and gave him a taste of his own medicine. Only he went too far. Timmy was dead, and Silver cried in relief and said she wouldn’t ever tell a soul, and she thanked him for rescuing her. They dumped the man’s body in the bayou and they drove back to Twinbrook. Silver moved in with him that day and within a few months, they were married.

Then on his wedding night, he learned who Silver really was. A manipulative, conniving bitch. She and Timmy contrived a plan to kidnap a Racket for ransom by having Silver pretend to be a victim. Silver realized it was a stupid idea and decided to do a longer con by marrying into the Racket family and divorcing him later and getting a huge settlement, and Dennis delivered better than she expected by killing her boyfriend. She realized by staying in the marriage, she could inevitably have more.

I killed a man for that woman, Dennis admitted sorrowfully. It was his first time. He had thought he was protecting Silver, but he played right into her evil schemes. She threatened if he ever tried to divorce her, she would reveal the video tape she had – of Dennis choking Timmy to death. Rachel had felt sick when she learned the news. She should’ve felt scared but instead she felt nothing but sorrow and pain for a man she wanted to comfort, a man she was growing to care deeply about – a man who was not her husband. And Bill had been nothing but good to her since she announced her second pregnancy.

Bill helped form the citizens-against-crime committee for the mayor’s office, leading the charge and trying his best to make sure his wife’s political reign wasn’t marked by rising crime rates. Rachel appreciated his help. He had spent hours in the library doing research and calling other cities in the state to find out what they did to reduce crime. Rachel liaised with the governor’s office in New Simoleans, calling in every favor she could to bolster the police department, make the streets cleaner, and help the families of Twinbrook feel safer. Even so, her poll ratings were lower than she would like. But that was the least of her worries.

“You’ll be fine, mamma,” Gala, her best friend, and maid of honor assured her. “You have nothing to be nervous about.”

Easy for you to say, Rachel thought, but said, “Thank you.” Gala had a loving husband and a baby girl all her own, Quiana, and a flourishing catering business. Rachel had the appearance of success – a wealthy, doting husband, a happy, healthy child and another on the way, and political power to make an actual difference, but she wasn’t happy. She couldn’t put her finger on why. Most women would be over the moon if they could make their marriage work even after an affair, but Rachel felt empty.  Like she was living the wrong life.

“You look beautiful, Aunt Rachel,” Lolly said sweetly. “Grandma’s diamonds suit you.”

Rachel absently fingered the necklace gracing her collarbone. Marigold’s final gift to her daughter-in-law before passing away in her sleep. She had been released from prison after the police determined the death was “accidental.” However, her memory deteriorated even more rapidly and the woman was placed in a nursing home for the final weeks of her life. In a rare moment of lucidity, Marigold asked Rachel to take the piece of jewelry, a gift from her own mother on her wedding day.

“I don’t have much to give you,” Marigold had chuckled. “And Bill already gave you the family jewels…” she smirked. “Though I think she got more of you than him. Hope is a lovely girl.” 

Rachel had smiled and hugged the elderly woman.

May it bring you more luck than it did me, dear,” she had said, patting Rachel affectionately on the cheek.

“Thank you, Lolly,” Rachel returned to the present, and squeezed her niece’s hand.

She was grateful the girl had come home on spring break for the wedding. She considered Loyola Racket a friend in addition to family.

“You two look great too,” she said.

“Oh stop,” Gala waved her hand. “You’re the bride. You look better than we do.”

“Of course,” Lolly piped in.

Rachel smiled, wondering what she would do without these two.

A knock on the door interrupted the ladies, and Gala slipped out for a moment to speak with the catering staff. Rachel sighed and patted her stomach, wondering if the baby would behave during the ceremony. She already felt nauseous. She had no reason to feel nervous. It wasn’t like she hadn’t been with Bill a thousand times, but tonight was different. Tonight marked the sobering reality – there was no going back. This was it. She was committed. Rachel wasn’t sure why that made her feel so terrible… so trapped.

“Are you okay, Aunt Rach?” Lolly asked, her face showing genuine concern.

“Yes,” Rachel answered quickly. “I’ll be fine.”

Will I? 

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

The question completely surprised her, especially coming from her niece. Rachel turned to face the young woman, wondering what prompted her to ask such a thing. Lolly looked completely serious, and she held out her car keys.

“I have a full tank of gas and you can stay in my Olde Towne apartment if you’d like,” she offered quietly. “Sinbad and I won’t be back for several days. We’re going to take a drive down to Florsimdia for the remainder of my break.”

Rachel’s eyes filled with tears. Did Lolly know? Suspect? How? she wondered in bewilderment. She leaned forward and hugged Lolly. She wished she could. In the depths of her heart, she wished so fiercely she could just leave everything behind. But she had Hope to think about, and this town, and her career. She couldn’t leave. No matter how desperately she wanted to escape it all. I’ve really damned myself to hell. Rachel wished she could take it all back, but she had no idea she was practically making a deal with the devil when she started sleeping with Bill all those years ago. She probably never would have advanced as far as she did without the help and prestige, albeit infamous, of the Racket family. But at what cost? 

“Lolly, thank you,” she said hoarsely. “You have no idea… thank you… this means so much to me. But I can’t.”

Lolly smiled sadly. “I wouldn’t think any less of you either way.”

Damnit! Rachel swiped at the tears stinging her eyelids, hoping she didn’t smudge her mascara. She grabbed the girl for another embrace.

“I’ll never forget the offer,” she whispered.

Lolly nodded, and slipped out of the room noiselessly. Rachel only had a moment to freshen her face before her mother and her mother’s long time lover made an entrance to wish her luck. Rachel couldn’t recall her mother looking happier. About a month ago, Rita had called to say she left Rachel’s father, finally, after all these years, and she and Virginia had eloped in Beach City.

“You look beautiful, my sweet,” Rita said excitedly. “We’re glad we could make it for your day.”

“Well, you missed the last time,” Rachel shrugged, and reached out to squeeze the other woman’s hand. “Thank you for coming, Virginia.”

“I’m happy to be here,” Virginia said graciously. “And you’re looking well.”

“Thank you,” Rachel said, bobbing her head back and forth. “More or less.”

“Well, you’ve got that glorious pregnancy glow,” Rita gushed. “Bill is a lucky man.”

Rachel cast her eyes down to the tile floor.

“I’m afraid the airport lost my luggage,” Rita sighed. “So this is the best I’ve got…” she held out her arms, displaying her rather casual outfit for a wedding.

“Ma, I’m just glad you’re here,” Rachel said. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Well, we should go get our seats,” Rita said. “Come on, Ginny,” she squeezed her partner’s hand. “We’ll see you downstairs, sweetheart.”

The door closed behind the two women. Rachel gasped out in pain as she felt the baby kick once more. Five months. Four more. She counted. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could do this. Already the pregnancy was harder than the last. The doctor assured her the baby was healthy, but Rachel prompted her to run a few more tests to be sure the last time she was in the office, and one specifically to help put her mind at ease. That or make me go crazy. 

As if on cue, her cell phone rang. Rachel picked up the device, recognizing the number of her doctor’s office.

We have your test results back, Mrs. Racket,” the doctor was saying. “And I thought I should call you myself as it may have bearing on your future.”

“Yes?” she asked, catching her breath as she waited to hear the inevitable news, something she thought she knew deep down in her heart already thanks to constantly advancing technology.

The DNA results confirm that the father of your baby is Dennis Racket.” 


Author Note: Dun… dun… duuuuuuuuuuunnnnnn! Yes, the plot thickens… yet again. One reveal and then another. I wanted to do a whole chapter with Rachel and Dennis together and my game kept crashing so I had to debug and then decided just to plop his “secret” into this chapter instead. Timmy DeBleu is an actual deceased Sim in Twinbrook, though he died of the mummy’s curse. Given he got mixed up with Silver (or perhaps the other way around), the “curse” thing sort-of works… never mind… I have no idea how this works, but I’m using creative license. I did a little research on the subject of DNA testing in the womb, and discovered there is technology that allows for this fairly early on in the pregnancy, but it’s expensive and not well known. But my Sims stories are set on an alternate planet, Simterra, so the technology could believably exist there more prominently. Hope you enjoyed the chapter!

1.62 Second Chances (CFT)

Bill carried his terrified little girl from the mansion as the firefighters raced in the front door. Hope was screaming her little head off in his arms. He shielded her from seeing her cousin, Shark, bent and twisted in the snow as the paramedics attended to him. He had been finishing trimming his facial hair at the bathroom sink when he heard the fire alarm screech. He dropped everything and ran to the nursery situated directly above the kitchen, scooping up his daughter and snagging her winter coat and shoes before running from the house.

After calling emergency authorities, he waited in the yard. One of the paramedics checked his daughter to make sure she was okay after a little smoke inhalation. Once cleared to go, Bill walked down the street to DeAndre and Gala Wolfe’s home, figuring it was best to keep his baby girl from the noise and commotion. He stood in their yard, bouncing Hope up and down on his hip, cooing and soothing her as best as he could. Nothing else mattered right now. His precious daughter was safe.

“I love you so much,” he whispered, squeezing her head into his shoulder. “I don’t know what I would’ve done if I lost you.”

Bill reached into his pocket and pulled out his cellular phone, dialing the familiar number.

Bill? Where are you?

Rachel sounded panicked.

“I’m okay. Hope is okay. We’re fine.”

My secretary told me our house was on fire.

“It was. It is…” he glanced back at the manor and watched as the firefighters sprayed the kitchen with high-powered hoses. “But it won’t be for long.”

Where are you? Are you safe?

“I’m up at DeAndre and Gala’s.”

Oh thank heavens. I’ll be right there.”

“Oh my daughter, I was so worried!” Rachel plucked Hope from Bill’s arms and held her up in the air. “I’m so glad you are safe.”

Hope looked over at her father, seemingly confused about her mother’s sudden appearance. Rachel continued to hug and hold her child, tears streaming down her face. Gala came out of the estate, wrapped in a thick coat, and bringing a blanket. She smiled and made her greetings and offered to carry the little girl inside. Rachel put out her hand worriedly, almost afraid to let Hope go, but Bill laid his hand on top of her arm and encouraged her to trust their friend.

Once Hope and Gala were out of earshot, Rachel threw her arms around Bill, and bawled.

“I was so scared, Bill, so scared… I heard about the house being on fire… my secretary… came to get me,” she hiccuped. “And I ran home as fast as I could. I didn’t even get my car.”

“It’s okay. It’s okay, Rae baby,” he soothed.

“I don’t know what I would’ve done if I lost our Hope,” Rachel cried.

“But we didn’t. She’s fine. I’m fine.”

“Are you?”

“Yes, Rae… yes, I’m fine.”

“You’re all dressed up. Where… were…were you going somewhere?” Rachel asked bewildered.

“Yes, I was going to take Hope to church.”

“Church?”

“It’s Sunday.”

“You were going to church?”

“Yes. I…uh… listen, Rachel, I know I’ve been a lousy husband. I know that you know that I cheated. That I’m a cheater. That I’m a bastard. That’s what I am. But I want to give our marriage another go. I… don’t want to be…with anyone else. I care about you… Rae baby… and I love our little girl. I know we can make things work… and I think with time… we could even grow to love each other again.”

He hadn’t let go of her. She stayed in his embrace.

“Rachel,” he whispered in her ear. “I’ve lost my dad and mom. We lost Silver, and we nearly lost Shark too. We might lose Dennis.”

Rachel stiffened.

“I don’t want to lose you,” he said, sorrowfully. “I was going to church today to talk to Shepherd Tim after service. To seek counseling for us. Would you do that? Would you come with me?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, hesitantly.

“I’ve made mistakes… big ones… I know… but I think we can make things work.”

“Why the change of heart?”

“Rachel, I’m tired. I’m tired of being on the wrong side of things. I’m tired of not… no… of chasing things that have no meaning.”

“So you got religion?”

“No, Rach, just perspective. All these deaths. All these accidents. Life is short, my darling, and I just can’t bear the thought of being shot to death or blown up or whatever without making things good with my wife…” Bill sighed, and touched her stomach. “…and kids…”

Rachel instinctively jerked, feeling the baby kick as Bill laid his hand over her abdomen. His face lit up and he had the most sincere smile she had seen from him in a long time.

“Hey, did you feel that?”

She laughed dryly. “Of course.”

“Rachel, what do you say? Will you come with me? Will you try?”

He sounded so hopeful. He cupped her head with his hand and leaned in for another embrace.

“Okay.”

If only he knew… 


Quick Author Note: Somehow a reconciliation type chapter felt like a good idea for Easter (even though it’s late Simcember a.k.a. December in the story). A Peteran minister is sometimes called a Shepherd. I’ve referenced this in other stories, but just in case, I thought I’d mention it here. If you want to know more about religion in my Simworld, you can click here. Shepherd Tim is actually Tim Burre, a townie in Twinbrook. His traits are suitable for a pastor, so I left it in. I use the Vicar Career Mod from Sims in the Woods for pastors in town. It also adds a baker and librarian career mod at City Hall. Enjoy! 

 

1.61 Shattered (CFT)

Author Note: The chapter includes adult content (sexual references) and content that may be disturbing and upsetting to some readers, including suicide. If these are triggers for you, please exercise discretion while reading. Also know if you are contemplating suicide, please seek immediate help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 in the U.S. 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website and chat with a professional support specialist online  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

“I have something for you.”

Lolly had just opened the door for her boyfriend, Sinbad. They were planning to celebrate her early acceptance to Simvard and her graduation from high school tonight. Her father had said she needed a night of normalcy after everything that had happened.

Nearly three weeks ago now, Shark had been held for questioning for seventeen hours after Lucy Fern had been assassinated. He had been released, but the police said they would be keeping an eye on him. Lolly’s mother had only been killed a mere few days before, and her grandfather shortly before that. The Rackets hadn’t really celebrated Christmas. It just didn’t seem right this year. With Silver, Max, and Lucy gone, even if they were disliked, the shock was a little too much to bear.

Her father had been spending long hours in his office and going on long drives, staying out at all sorts of odd hours. Lolly could hear her aunt Rachel and uncle Bill whispering concerns long after their daughter, Hope was asleep. Shark had been like a zombie, wandering around the house, wearing the same clothes, not showering, eating ice cream right out of the container. Her grandmother was still in jail, despite the lawyer appeals for bail for the old woman. Lolly didn’t understand all that was going on, but she was worried about her family.

“Flowers!” Lolly gasped, pleased.

“You like ’em?” Sinbad asked, handing her the bouquet of pink roses. “The girl at the flower shop said girls like these and since I don’t know a daisy from a rose…”

“I love them!” Lolly exclaimed. “Thank you, Sinbad.”

“Yeah, well,” he shoved his hands in his pockets awkwardly. “I just…thought… you know… don’t expect these all the time now and shit. I don’t have deep pockets like your family.”

“I think I’d be happy if my boyfriend brought me anything, even dandelions from the park,” Lolly said softly.

She couldn’t get over saying the word ‘boyfriend.’ It felt so good after waiting for so long.

“But those are weeds!” Sinbad protested, lifting his hands and tucking a stray hair behind her ear. “You deserve way better than weeds.”

Lolly caught her breath as Sinbad’s lips met her own, and she melted into his embrace like butter into a hot pan. She loved him so much she thought her heart would burst.

“I don’t care if they’re weeds. I care that they are from you,” she whispered, her eyes brimming with moisture.

“Tears!” he grunted. “Gawd… Lolly… what did I do wrong?”

“Nothing,” she shook her head and smiled, swiping at her eye corners. “Nothing at all. In fact, you’re doing everything right. I love you.”

“Yeah, you know I’m in love with you,” Sinbad replied, and then stepped back suddenly as someone else entered the room.

Lolly turned to see her brother, shuffling his feet, empty beer bottle in hand. “Shark, are you coming to dinner with us?”

“I said I’d be here,” he mumbled.

“Oh yay!” Lolly clapped her hands happily. “I’m glad the family will be here.”

“Gawd! Lolls… get your freakin’ head outta the clouds… what are you like a rainbow unicorn or something? Always sappy and happy and gawd! It makes me sick. Mom’s gone… and Grandma’s in jail… and I was nearly blown up,” Shark exploded.

“But you weren’t,” Lolly said bewildered. “It’s all the more reason to celebrate.”

“Yeah, man, this is for Lolly,” Sinbad added.

“You get your special day… your special… stupid… special day,” Shark wiped his nose on his sleeve. “And what do I get? I should be dead.”

“Hey Shark, please I didn’t mean to make you upset. You’re not dead. We’re happy you’re not dead. Dad just wanted us to all be together…” Lolly took a step back as she spoke as her brother wildly waved his arms and continued ranting.

“Dad’s a llama-sucking idiot! Don’t you see Lolly? This is just to make you feel better. No one else. Just you. Gawd! It has to be all about you, doesn’t it? Lolly… the perfect child. The best child. The perfect everything. You should’ve been Mom and Dad’s only child.”

“Shark, calm down,” Sinbad said.

“Don’t you tell me to calm down. I will do whatever I damn…well… please. Don’t you tell me to calm down, you bastard!”

Sinbad lunged for Shark, and Lolly grabbed his arm worriedly.

“Shark, that’s enough,” Dennis entered the room and said, firmly. “Don’t insult Lolly’s boyfriend.” He nodded in the direction of a tall east Asimian woman with pretty purple streaks in her black hair. “And you have a guest.”

“I don’t care… about my guest… she’s just a dancer I picked up at some club… she’s just here to numb my pain, Dad. Can’t you see I’m in pain?” Shark was practically shrieking. “My life is a disaster. Everything’s falling apart. Everything’s a disaster. I can’t keep anything… I can’t hold onto anything. I can’t keep a job or a woman or a life together or a career or nothing or something or anything…I can’t get the upwardly mobile job and do something with my life.”

Lolly looked over at Shark’s “paid escort” for the evening, and couldn’t believe how calmly the woman was standing there in her orange-and-yellow striped tank, and teal and orange mini skirt, and high-heeled boots. She found herself wondering about the woman’s Freezer Bunny tattoo on her exposed back. She looked oddly out of sync with the rest of the Racket family as she examined her glittery orange manicured nails.

“Shark, we know you’re in pain… why don’t we take this into the office?” Dennis suggested.

“NO! I can’t. I won’t. I won’t do this stupid freak-a-llama side show for my do-gooder sister… The woman I love is dead,” Shark yelled, and turned to face Sinbad. “And you! You’re so far beneath us…” he sneered. “Lolly will get tired of you and throw you back to the pond, you damn good-for-nothing swamp scum.”

Before anyone could stop him, Sinbad reached his fist back and punched Shark squarely in the jaw. Dennis scrambled to separate the boys as Shark attempted to break his bottle over Sinbad’s head, and Lolly shrieked in horror. Shark continued screaming and ranting and cursing as Dennis literally carried his son out of the room.

“Sinbad, are you okay?” Lolly asked, her lower lip quivering.

He shook out his hand. “Yeah. That punk bastard was insulting you.”

“And you,” she wailed. “I’m so sorry. I don’t think that about you. You know I don’t, right?” she sounded almost nervous. “And Dad doesn’t either. No one does.”

“It’s okay, Lolls, I’m used to it,” he replied, grimacing, as he massaged his hand. He looked at the tall woman with them and added, “I bet you didn’t expect that tonight.”

“I’ve seen worse,” she blew on her nails. “I’ve been out on worse dates too.”

“Are you really? I mean do you really get paid to…” Lolly asked, wide-eyed.

“Lolly, don’t ask that,” Sinbad scowled.

“No, it’s okay,” the lady responded. “Shark is just…another client.”

“So Shark is a client?” Lolly asked, fascinated, if a little naive. “What’s your name?”

“Cho…Cho Sonwhun,” the woman responded.

“That’s a pretty name,” Lolly said sweetly.

“Look, if you don’t mind, I’ll probably get outta here,” Cho said. “I was paid up front for the whole night and this seems like a private family thing,” she twisted her high heel into the carpet. “Unless you want me to stay and spice things up for you two a bit…seeing as it is your special night? I mean, your brother’s treat and all.

Sinbad coughed loudly. Lolly flushed a deeper red than her usual attire.

“Um… no… thanks,” Sinbad handed her a twenty. “We’re good.”

“Suit yourself,” Cho took the Simoleons and walked out of the house, her heels clicking behind her.

“Can she do that?” Lolly turned to her boyfriend in surprise. “I mean…” she dropped her voice. “Legally?”

“Lolly, you are so naive,” Sinbad chuckled.

“Well,” she blushed again. “I… guess… I’m just curious.”

“Should I go and get her back?” he grinned teasingly.

“No,” she shook her head. “I mean, I just I’ve never met one.”

“What? A hooker?”

“Sinbad! Don’t call her that.”

“What she is, isn’t she? Sorry…er…an escort.”

“Sinbad… she has a name. Cho…” Lolly looked out the window almost wistfully. “Cho Sonwhun. That really is a pretty name. What do you suppose she’s Simpanese?”

“No, probably Seoulan,” Sinbad replied. “Sonwhun is a Seoulan name.”

“Oh,” Lolly twisted a hair around her finger.

“Do I have some competition here?” he inquired.

“No,” Lolly made a horrified face. “She just… uh… seemed nice.”

“Right,” Sinbad laughed sarcastically. “She’s paid to be…uh… nice.”

“Sinbad, Cho is a human being just like we are,” Lolly said defensively. “We should treat her nicely and all. It’s only the decent thing to do.”

“And that honey, is why I love you,” Sinbad smiled, wrapping his arms around Lolly’s neck. “You see the best in people. You believe in ’em. And you’re kind to everyone.”

“Thank you,” Lolly said shyly. “I think.”

“Oh it’s a compliment,” Sinbad smiled. “You’re the only one I compliment and such.”

“So I’m damn lucky?” she smirked.

“Oh Loyola Racket swearing,” he said, bemused.

“Um… I can be bad…” she giggled.

“Oh this I’d like to see,” he moved in for a kiss.

 

Shark perched on the edge of his bed, drinking his fifth beer of the night. His dad, Lolly, and Sinbad had left over an hour ago for the restaurant to exchange late Christmas gifts and celebrate his sister’s acceptance into Simvard. It was a huge accomplishment. He knew it. He just didn’t feel like partying. His whole world was coming apart.

He was half tempted to call Cho back. He did pay for the whole night. She had left in a hurry, and he didn’t blame her, but he didn’t want to be alone. If he was alone, he would think too much, and thinking would be a disaster. Cho might offer him some nice company, a way to numb the pain. He really wasn’t sure though his dad would approve of mixing business with pleasure. He wasn’t sure what his dad thought about him bringing home a prostitute in the first place.

Shark had been managing the girls a little here and there at Shady’s. Russ had given him a little taste of that responsibility, but since his cousin tried to blow him up, Shark hadn’t been back. He still had plenty of allowance. He didn’t really need the job. He mostly wandered the streets of Twinbrook, kicking empty beer cans, snorting in alleys, and scaring old ladies. He finally came home and collapsed in his room a few days ago, much to his father’s relief. His old man was worried about him.

He hadn’t been able to put into words what he was feeling. He hadn’t been able to tell anyone his suspicions. As far as the world knew, Russell Racket was an upstanding businessman, owner of the local nightclub, and not mastermind extraordinaire. Not constructor of his demise. Not devil in disguise. Even the police hadn’t been able to get much out of him since he had been so distraught, and Dennis had, of course, hired good lawyers.

Shark flopped back on the bed and tried to get some sleep, still clutching his beer bottle. At almost five-thirty in the morning, he sat up and wandered downstairs, bleary-eyed and hung-over. Dennis had paid for a hotel for the night in New Simoleans. Shark knew he had a room there too. His dad had paid through the new year. He could call up Cho and pay her some more, catch a cab up to the capitol. Or maybe he could call a limo. A lap dance and a hand job in the back of a limousine sounded nice about now. Gawd! If only he could numb out… sex, booze, and crystals. The perfect combination of numbing-inducing activities.

Shark felt a bit bad for the way he screeched at Lolly. She was a good kid. She hadn’t been abused or neglected or affected by the nightmare of this house and this sick twisted family like he had, and nearly everyone else. Well, maybe his cousin, Hope. He grimaced. His uncle and aunt had a wacky marriage. Some nights he recalled seeing Bill at the club with that Robert Castor dude groping and necking on each other in the dark, smoky VIP corner booth. He wondered if his aunt was getting it on with someone too, though she was nearly three months Preggo, so he doubted anyone would want to tap that.

Sinbad wandered into the kitchen. Rachel was pouring herself coffee-to-go at the sink. She smiled politely and said good morning. He grunted some kind of response and slumped at the table. She told him his dad called, and if he wanted, Dennis would send the limo back for his son, if he had changed his mind. Rachel said she was off to work.

“Where’s the sleaze?” he asked, referencing his uncle.

Rachel flushed, and replied coldly, “Bill is upstairs sleeping in. He is watching your cousin today.”

“Doesn’t he every day?” Shark mumbled. “I mean, the man is a fat, pathetic couch potato.”

Rachel narrowed her eyes, and looked like she was about to say something, when her carpool’s horn honked outside. She wrapped her coat around.

“Shark, you really should work on that attitude of yours,” she said, walking out of the kitchen.

“And you should work on not being a bitch,” he called, and after he heard the door slam, he added, “A naive, stupid bitch who doesn’t realize her husband is screwing a man.”

Shark dropped his head on the table, resting his cheeks on his arm. So Bill and Hope were upstairs, huh, he thought in annoyance. He didn’t have the place to himself. Popping up, he decided he should get out of the house, and probably out of town. It wouldn’t hurt. He would need to shower first. Maybe bring Lolly a gift to make up for screaming at her, and railing on her boyfriend. He still couldn’t believe Sinbad was dating his sister. The guy had worked for the family at one point, but quit long before he got in over his head.

Smart guy, that one. Such a smarty-pants, Shark thought sarcastically, making a face. A smarty leather pants-ed man. Oh man! I am still toasted. Pants-ed man? He pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes shut. Such a smarty pants that he managed to land in my sister’s pants. He wondered how his dad felt about that. But Lolly was eighteen now. It was only a short time ago that Shark had gone to the man for advice on loving a woman. Chase Bayless. My cousin, he thought bitterly. If only he could be as naive as Lolly was…

Shark decided he would bake a cake for his sister. Lolly liked cakes. Shark worked a little in the kitchen at the club before Lucy and Russ took notice of him, back when he was seventeen. He might remember how to make that cake they made… back then… way back then… He reached in the refrigerator and pulled out ingredients. He turned the dial and preheated the oven. The recipe… damnit. He didn’t know if he could recall the recipe. Maybe if I look it up on my phone. 

Shark fumbled through his pockets and realized his phone was upstairs. He ran up the steps two at a time, running into his bedroom just as the device rang. He looked at the screen. Fifteen new messages and about twice as many texts. Most were from his dad and Lolly. One included a sexy text of Cho draped over a chair, her legs spread so he could see straight up her skirt. The words read, “I’ll help your hands get more upwardly mobile.” 

Damn! She’s good. He smirked to himself.

He picked up the phone to call her. After three rings, he heard a man’s voice on the other end.

“Um, I’m calling for Cho,” he said awkwardly.

“Ho Cho is busy right now,” the man laughed raucously. “I’m covering her in marshmallow creme. She’s one big giant hocho!” he hooted, sounding so proud of himself.

Shark angrily pushed end and threw the phone onto his bed. He knew “Ho Cho” was her nickname, and she was known as the “hot chocolate” girl. Russ liked all the girls at Shady’s to have cutesy nicknames. Like Muffin Top… for the guys that like their women a little thicker, and Way Laid for the cheeky bastards who liked it rough… and Ho Cho for the guys that liked to lay on the sweets. He shook his head, disgusted. He would need to pick his own girls now. Maybe in New Simoleans. The capitol was bound to be crawling with good-looking women.

Who am I kidding? Shark slumped to the floor. I’m a mess. A llama-freaking mess. Who’d want me? He reached over grabbing his can of breath mints where he kept his stash hidden. He flipped open the lid and sniffed, taking in the deep aroma of the ether. He reached into the powder with two fingers, retrieving a pill or two, popping them in his mouth and flushing down the ammonia taste with his half-empty Miller genuine draft beer. He leaned his head back against the bed, closing his eyes and wishing everything was different. But things aren’t different… and they won’t be… he thought miserably. Nothing is right here… not anymore… not ever. The loud shriek of an alarm jolted his senses. He climbed to his feet, bewildered, wandering downstairs and into the kitchen.

The oven was fully ablaze. Shark gasped in horror and stood watching the flames, dumbstruck. He couldn’t move. He didn’t know what to do. Call the cops… no the fire people… no…what? Oh hell, Dad is gonna kill me! A thick fog settled in over his head, and he felt hazy among the smoke. The pills were serving their purpose, but he knew this was the worst time. A…uh…oh gawd! I’m a llama-freakin’ idiot. I… what… Shark threw up his hands to shield himself from the small inferno in the Racket family kitchen.

He ran through the dining room and tripped up the stairs a few times, and one time, completely fell. Bile pooled in his throat, sweat pouring down his face. I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m dead. He felt along the wall, stumbling as he tried to make his way to his room at the end of the hall. If only he could get to his phone…

He dialed the emergency number, and wondered what he would say. He was high. He set his oven on fire. He was probably going to burn down his own house. And he blew up Lucy Ferne. And his mother was shot to death over pills… just like the ones he just took. Just like his mom. Just like my mom. I can’t do this anymore.

Zero, zero, zero, what’s your emergency?

“Uh…” he stuttered. “Um…”

What’s your emergency? Can you tell me your name?”

Shark rubbed his elbow where the heat from the flames had singed his skin. He looked around his room in a total panic, his mind shutting down and fluids flowing from his eyes. He walked to the window and looked out at the world of Simcember snow. It looked so peaceful. Before he could think, he kicked out the glass with his boot.

Sir, are you there? Can you tell me what’s happening? What is your location? What is your name, sir? Are you there?” 

Shark pushed himself up onto the small window ledge, feeling the full blast of the icy winter wind hit his face. His fingers dripped with blood from the cut on his hand from where he braced himself. He winced, hearing the sirens in the distance. Someone must have called the firefighters or figured out his location from a phone trace.

My name is Tiburon Racket, and it is time for this to be over.”

His phone slipped from his fingers, landing silently in the snow bank. With that, he jumped.


Author Note: No, Shark! Sadness! Yes, I know. This chapter took a turn for the worst. I had such fun writing Sinbad and Lolly’s interactions, and then Shark was just depressing as hell to write. As I previously stated above, please seek help if you’re feeling like Shark and struggling with suicidal thoughts. 

My apologies to the lovely Cho Sonwhun for utilizing her as a professional escort. It was for convenience sake. I didn’t really want to have to create her character in game, and this isn’t the first time CFT has mentioned prostitution. The names for the various escorts were meant to be a little silly, and Ho Cho was a terrible, terrible, terrible pun, I know. Seoul is more Simworld version of Korea, and Seoulan is a Korean individual. Son and Whun are Korean surnames. I definitely want to bring her character back in the future, though not sure how and when.

 

1.60 Special Delivery (CFT)

Author’s Note: Warning! This chapter contains adult content, including references to prostitution, sexual assault and abuse, drug use, and violence.  If these are triggers for you or you feel uncomfortable with the subject, exercise discretion when reading. The pictures are completely tasteful. These subjects are only referenced. 

Russell Racket wasn’t a forgiving man. If he felt someone didn’t do their job, he could easily have them beaten up in an alley or pumped full of lead. If he felt someone betrayed him, he wouldn’t hesitate. He’d go after their entire family.

He didn’t think of himself as heartless. He didn’t think of himself as a monster. He had a nice house that he worked for the hard way on Money Market Lane in Big Apple City. He had a modest house. He drove an average car. He paid his taxes. He waved to his neighbors when he left for work. He had a dog, for the love of llamas. He had a wife, a lovely woman, nineteen and a half years his junior. Bo was expecting. And she was glowing when he kissed her goodbye this morning. He seemed all and all the typical Sim National…

…except he was a mobster. He preferred “criminal financeer.” It had a better ring to it. He was all about the rhetoric. It did wonders. He had been competing with his uncle for years, ever since the man had assassinated his own dad right in front of his eyes. Russ had been eight years old. That’s when his mom told him to get tough. She made him promise with her dying breath that he would make dear old uncle Max pay for his horrid crime against their family. Max had a habit of eliminating anyone who got in his way, family or not. It was just business. A smile tweaked at the corner of his mouth. The family way. He learned from the best.


Russ didn’t bother looking up when the door to his office flew open and slammed closed. He didn’t bother looking up at his bleary-eyed, doped-up cousin’s kid. The guy was a mess. He swore long ago he would never touch the stuff they made. No drugs. No whores. No guns. It was too easy to go down a dark and dangerous path and get himself killed that way. He could hire people to do his dirty work. Like Shark.

“Russ…” the young, not-even-twenty-year-old young man, bit out. “We’re running late on the latest Xtal shipment.”

“No we’re not,” Russ corrected him. “We are merely delivering more than promised to our clients, and for that, we need an extra day.”

“Word on the street is the natives are getting restless,” Shark muttered.

“Well, that’s why they’re natives and we’re kings in here. They don’t need to bother themselves with trivial matters,” Russ replied. “They’ll get their fix soon enough and they’ll be even happier with the extra crystals.”

“If you say so,” Shark said, shoving his hands deep into his pockets. “What can I do in the meantime?”

Russ slipped out from behind his desk, patting Shark on the shoulder. “Look man, your mom just was killed, and I feel terrible making you work after that kind of tragedy.

“God, I hated the woman,” Shark said coldly. “I don’t feel a thing.”

That’s the crystallite talking, Russ thought in irritation. His cousin couldn’t see he was walking down the same path as his mother – the path of a pathetic drug-addled fool.

“Still, she was your mom and maybe you weren’t close, but I’d be taking advantage of you, son,” Russ replied.

Shark just shrugged.

“Why don’t you go see that girl of yours that you like? What’s her name? Carla? Candy?”

“Candice?” Shark made a face. “She’s trailer trash.”

“Well, how about one of our more sophisticated patrons?” Russ turned his attention to the security cameras in his office. “I see Sofia Carlton of the Carlton-Posh Hotels is here. Her family has endlessly deep pockets, and I hear she just broke up with her boyfriend. She might make an interesting dinner companion.”

He knew full well the young socialite probably wouldn’t give Shark the time of day, even if he was from a wealthy family, but she might provide him enough distraction to keep the boy occupied, if he tried hard enough.

“Dude, I don’t have eyes for Sophia,” Shark protested. “You know I’m into Lu.”

Lucy Ferne? Ah yes! Russ thought, almost pleased. His cousin was playing right into his hands, but he didn’t want to appear too overly eager.

“Lucy is an intriguing gal, but she’s also into women,” he said.

“So?” Shark shrugged. “I think it’s hot.”

“Really? You didn’t strike me as the type.”

“So you’re judging me now?”

Pushing it, pushing it, Russ warned himself.

“Naw, if you’re into that kinda stuff, it’s cool,” he said. “We’ve got some girls here who swing both ways if you’re interested.”

Shark snorted. “I think I’ll try my luck with Lu first.”

Russ resisted the urge to shake his head. The boy was like a lovesick puppy. Lucy Ferne had been paid off by Max Racket to essentially sexually assault the kid on his eighteenth, and still he had the hots for her. Probably because he can’t remember a thing. He remembered Max’s “present” for himself. Twenty-four years later, he still bore the scars from where Max burnt his cigar on his arm after Russ came out of the back room sobbing and puking his guts out. After his first forced taste, Russ never wanted to feel out of control again. He didn’t sleep with another woman until his wife.

Bo was the Bonnie to his Clyde. She would follow him to the ends of the earth and support his decisions no matter what. The woman was a crack shot and could drink nearly any man under the table, including himself, and she enjoyed submitting to whatever he desired no matter how kinky. She had no issue playing his gun for hire, and she had more kills than most of the men in his organization combined.  She was his ideal woman. Now that they were having a kid, their bedroom theatrics would probably be put on hold for the time being. Russ almost felt bad that Shark wouldn’t get to experience many things in life, like the love of a good woman, but certain things just had to be done.

“You know, it’s Lucy’s birthday tomorrow,” Russ began.

He was committed to the path now.

“I know,” Shark said, sniffing as he wiped his nose with the back of his hand.

“Did you get her a gift to tell her how you feel?”

“Naw… I don’t know what she likes.”

“Dude, that’s the first step in loving a woman. You have to get her a gift.”

“But she’s not my girl or nothing…”

“Here, I hope you don’t mind but I took the liberty of getting her a present on your behalf,” Russ reached behind his desk and handed the young man a white box wrapped in a red bow.

“Really?” Shark’s eyes lit up. “What is it?”

“Something sexy. I know Lu likes black silk,” Russ said cheekily.

“How do you know that?” Shark frowned.

Russ laughed, and put his arm around his cousin. “Ah! Shark. You have much to learn about women. All woman like black silk…even women like Lucy. They like pretty lingerie… it feels good against their skin. Makes them feel sexy. And it’ll make you feel like a boss.”

“Okay,” Shark said brightly. “But how’da’I get her to take it?”

“Tell her…” Russ pondered briefly, rubbing his chin. “Tell her first you wanted to show her how much you appreciate her, and even if she’s not into you, you wanted to get her something to make her feel good. Tell her she doesn’t have to wear it with you, but ask her to at least think of you when she puts it on. And since it’s her birthday, she can’t refuse a gift. I’m sure she’ll find a use for it.”

“I guess…” Shark sounded almost disappointed that he might not see Lucy in the little number his cousin was describing.

“But she’ll want to show you, trust me,” Russ grinned. “…especially after she sees it.”

“If you say so.”

“Yeah, if you drive over to the warehouse, you can catch her too, before she goes on her run to the capitol. She leaves at midnight. You better be on your way. If you want, ride along with her. She could use the company since it’s almost her birthday and I wouldn’t mind have extra muscle on the trip up. This is a heavy shipment for us.”

“Okay, thanks Russ.”

“Anytime kiddo.”

A half hour later, Shark was standing in the parking lot of the warehouse with Lucy, the love of his life. He hoped this would work. This gift. All women like it…even women like Lucy… his cousin’s words echoed in his head. Lately, Lucy had been softening up toward him, and even taking to teasing him some instead of rolling her eyes or slapping him in the back of the head. Maybe this gift could be the start of something.

“So is the shipment ready?” he asked.

“Yeah, no one should suspect a thing,” Lucy replied. “Especially since we rented a moving truck. I told the guy I was taking my little bro back to college.”

“So I’m your little bro, huh?” he quirked a brow.

“Yeah,” she slugged him in the arm. “And man, you’ve got a lot of shit.”

Shark laughed. “I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d rather have me move back to college.”

“Shark, don’t say shit like that. You know I don’t like men.”

“But I’m different from other men.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.”

“Yeah, I care. Can’t you see I care, Lu? I’ve been rejected by you more times than I can count, but I’m still around, and I still care.”

“You’re sweet, Shark, but really, I just don’t swing that way.”

“But you could be both, couldn’t you?” he said, knowing full well he was pushing his luck.

Lucy sighed. “I… look you’re nice…but…”

“But wait… I got you a gift,” Shark cut her off. “Give me a second.”

He ran back to his car, pulling the wrapped present from his seat. Returning to Lucy’s side, he handed her the box. She stood there looking dumbly at him.

“Please, take it,” he begged. “It’s your birthday like in a few minutes.”

“I don’t know,” she shrugged.

“Come on. I spent a long time picking it out,” he lied. “And I wanted something special for you… to show you I care and all… and to make you feel pretty.”

“Pretty?” she arched a brow.

“Yeah. Open it?”

She took the gift, fingering the ribbon. “No one has gotten me a present in a long time,” she said, almost wistfully. “But Shark, I can’t accept this.”

“Why not?”

“It just wouldn’t be right.”

“Why? Do you have a girlfriend?”

“Yeah. There’s someone in my life.”

Shark thought for a moment, and pushed the box back into Lucy’s hand. “Wear it for her.”

“Wear it?” Lucy frowned.

“Yeah, she’ll like it,” he could’ve kicked himself for caving so easily, but he wanted Lucy to be happy. “I know she will. Whoever she is.”

“I don’t know, Shark,” Lucy hesitated.

“She doesn’t even have to know it was a gift from a guy,” Shark added. “Take it and think about it and if you still don’t feel comfortable by the time we get to campus, then you can give it back to me, no questions asked.”

“Well, I guess,” Lucy shrugged. “I…” she glanced at her watch. “Wow…we better get going if we’re going to make our two-thirty delivery.”

“Yeah,” Shark agreed. “Just give me a sec. I’m going to go grab my jacket and get some tunes for us.”

“Tunes?” she made a face. “Last time you wanted to listen to Anvil Lavinge.”

“Avril,” he chuckled. “And I thought you liked angry girl music.”

Lucy scrunched her nose. “One song.”

“Yeah?” he grinned happily. “I’ll be right back. Meet you in the cab.”

No sooner than he walked a few steps away did he hear the engine roar to life and then he felt a searing heat on his back as the truck went up in flames. Lucy Ferne was dead, and Shark had barely escaped with his life. And now he knew. Now he knew. His cousin had tried to kill them both, and almost succeeded. All that talk meant nothing.

He should be dead.


Author Note: I wanted to have a chapter with the appearance of Russ, the supposedly evil cousin, given he’s been mentioned a few times. Dun…dun…dunnnn… I think this chapter aptly fits my section title – Matters of Life and Death. Money Market Lane is my Simworld version of Wall Street. Crystallite is a drug in my Simworld, also known as Xtal or crystals, and is similar to methamphetamine. Read more here. Sofia Carlton is the heiress socialite of the Carlton-Posh hotel chain, a play on the Ritz-Carlton hotels, and you can draw parallels of her person to Paris Hilton. Also Avril Lavinge has a Sim of herself in The Sims: Superstar. Given my Sims stories are set in the far future, this is a copy of the original musician from Earth, possibly a clone or a great-great-great-great-something-grandchild. Hope you enjoyed the dramatic twist. 

1.59 Piecing Together (CFT)

Three days passed. Three lousy days. Everyone was still in shock over Max’s death, and now Silver had been targeted in a drive-by shooting. Assassinated was a better term, but by whom? No one knew. Dennis muttered suspicions of a rival family in the area, but no one could confirm his theories. No one had even made funeral plans yet.

Silver was most definitely dead. The police said they thought the shooting was a gang thing, and she was found with drugs and money on her person. Rehab had evidently done nothing to reform her ways. When Max had died, everyone had plenty to say, given no one liked the man. Most of the family was at odds with Silver, but this death was different. This death made everyone all targets.

Rachel didn’t like the idea. Bullets spraying an open graveyard. Any one of them could have been hit. Lolly had been terrified. Poor thing refused to come out of her room. She didn’t want to leave the safety of the mansion. Rachel didn’t exactly blame her. She had called off work to stay home with her daughter for a few days, checking in every couple hours via email, phone, and QikChat. Hope was the only one oblivious to the gloom that had settled like a thick fog over the household.

Shark was still staying out at odd hours. In fact, he hadn’t been living in the mansion for months, but he had come over almost every day mostly to sit with his dad on the back porch and talk. About what? Rachel didn’t know.  Dennis had been cool and distant, still baffled and confused about his wife’s death, a wife who hated him, and a wife whom he hated in return, or at least strongly disliked. Rachel had a hard time imagining Dennis hating anyone.

Bill had changed up his normal routines to get to work, mentioning his discomfort with the thought of drive-by shootings in Twinbrook. Rachel suspected his own days of buying drugs added additional discomfort. He hadn’t even touched a cigarette in three days. Bill had held his daughter the previous night, kissed her on the forehead, and Rachel could have sworn she heard him say, “Damn, I’m lucky I didn’t get shot.”

Marigold had the opposite reaction, hitting the whiskey hard, and early in the day typically. Two deaths in a short period of time was a load to process. Rachel suspected there was more to Max’s death than he fell and hit his head on the fireplace, but she didn’t want to pry. Only Marigold and Dennis had been home at the time, and Rachel had a few scary thoughts, but they were fleeting. No one liked Max. They were better off without him.

They were better off without Silver too, but no one wanted to say it. Somehow Rachel wondered if that was because the woman was still Shark and Lolly’s mother, even though the kids were adults now. Or perhaps it was because everyone knew how Silver treated Dennis and still didn’t want to pry or appear to cheerful at the woman’s demise. Three days passed in the mansion in relative silence. Even the maids seemed like church mice with the way they moved throughout the abysmal tomb-like estate. Someone could hear a pin drop, and Rachel finally understand that phrase.

On the morning of the fourth day, something unexpected happened. At five-thirty-eight in the morning, the doorbell rang. Rachel had been putting Hope to bed for the third time. The girl had been crying again keeping Rachel and Bill on an up-down-up schedule until Bill brought his singing fish, Phil into the nursery and their daughter conked out. Rachel shook her head, unable to understand her baby’s strange fascination with fish. Bill looked exhausted, since he had been working, and Rachel felt wide awake. She placed a chaste kiss on his cheek and told him to go soak in the tub before work since he didn’t have time to go back to sleep. The doorbell rang again, and she decided to wander downstairs.

Dennis stood to the left of the double doors, dressed only in his workout sweat pants. Marigold, dressed in her somber black, stood to the right, staring into space as if dazed and confused. Right inside the door stood two of Twinbrook’s men in blue. Rachel suddenly wished she had the sense to put on pants before wandering into the foyer. She yawned and blamed the lack of sleep.

“What’s going on?” she asked softly.

“Who are you, ma’am?” one of the police officers inquired.

Rachel sniffed as her office did work with the local police and fire departments. “I’m Rachel Colt. I’m the mayor of this town. Who are you?”

“Er…Officer Jude Walker, ma’am,” he said, awkwardly.

The other man tipped his hat. “Ma’am, I’m Officer Elliot Kade.”

“We didn’t realize the mayor lived here,” Officer Walker fumbled.

“Forgive him, Mayor Colt, he’s new to the beat,” Officer Kade added, and his partner flushed.

Rachel resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “What do you want at this hour?”

She found the circumstances odd given Dennis had lived in this house much longer than she, and Marigold almost a century, but nonetheless, she decided to use the attention to her advantage and find out what was happening.

“We have an arrest warrant,” Officer Kade spoke up.

“This is ridiculous,” Dennis burst out, speaking up for the first time since Rachel’s appearance. “You can’t arrest her.”

Rachel’s eyes swept instantly to Dennis, a feeling of fear seizing her heart.

“Lawd! I didn’t do anything,” Marigold piped up.

“Ma, be quiet,” Dennis warned.

“Daddy?” Lolly’s voice could be heard from the top of the stairs. She ran down the steps, taking two or three at a time, and slipped next to her father’s side. “Why are the cops here?”

“Loyola, you should go back upstairs,” Dennis suggested.

“Why?” Lolly seemed bewildered. “Why are you here?” she asked the police directly.

“Who is the arrest warrant for?” Rachel inquired, an edge of coolness in her tone as she braced for the worst.

Marigold Racket,” Officer Walker replied.

Rachel felt guilty as a momentary wave of relief washed over her, that she wouldn’t be dragged out of her home and be forced to leave her daughter, even though she wasn’t sure why she would be arrested. She rubbed her forehead.

“On what charges?”

“Yeah, what charges?” Bill suddenly appeared at her side, having pitter-pattered down the carpeted stairs in relative quiet, dressed only in his bathrobe. “My wife and I need to know.”

His hair was wet so Rachel knew he had showered. He put his arm around his wife, and Rachel felt oddly flattered by his sudden and strange possessiveness.

“For Dad… manslaughter…” Dennis said through gritted teeth.

“What?” Lolly’s face contorted in total shock. “Grandma? Manslaughter?”

“Manslaughter?” Bill echoed.

“I didn’t do anything,” Marigold insisted again.

Only Rachel remained silent.

“Actually, murder…” Officer Kade corrected.

“Murder? Daddy? What’s happening? Why do they think grandma murdered someone?” Lolly said, panicked, grabbing her father’s bare arm and squeezing tightly.

“Murder! Ha! Ma! That’s ridiculous! You have the wrong person…” Bill chortled, and then after a sharp nudge from Rachel in the ribs, he added, “Actually there’s no person… because Dad fell. It was an accident.”

One look at Dennis confirmed her worst fears. Rachel closed her eyes and pressed her fingers to her lips. Oh Lawd, have mercy! She opened her eyes, and made eye contact with her brother-in-law once more.

“Call the lawyers,” she said quietly.

“Lawyers!?” Bill exclaimed. “This is horseshit!” He stepped forward and tried to intervene while the police officers moved to officially arrest his mother.

“It’s okay,” Marigold said, waving her middle son back.

Rachel grabbed Bill’s arm.

“Marigold Racket, you are under arrest for the murder of Maxwell Racket,” Officer Kade took the old woman’s arm.

“…You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say…”

“Ma, we’ll fix this,” Dennis insisted.

“Yeah,” Bill nodded in agreement.

“Grandma,” Lolly wailed.

“Lolly, go back upstairs and call the family lawyers,” Dennis said to his daughter.

“No, no,” she shook her head, refusing to budge as tears fell down her face.

“…you have the right to an attorney,” Officer Kade continued reading the rights as Officer Walker pulled the handcuffs from his belt.

“Ahhh… do you have to cuff her?” Bill asked. “Can’t you see she’s an old woman and her hands are fragile and frail and shit? I mean, she’s recovering from the damn loss of her husband and all, and then she was shot at a few days ago too and look at her hands and shit. They’re all bruised and cut up from the fall she took.”

“Bill,” Rachel snipped.

“It’s okay,” Marigold spoke up. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

She was almost in a daze, saying her words in sing-song.

“Ma, don’t say anything,” Dennis warned.

“Yeah don’t,” Bill grunted. “And we’ll sue the pants off these officers, Ma… don’t worry… in fact, we’ll sue the pants off the entire police department.”

Rachel nearly flushed at the thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marigold walked out with the police officers, cuffed in front, almost dignified as her face was filled with inexplicable sadness. She stopped talking at her son’s request, much to everyone’s surprise. The doors to the mansion swung closed behind them, Officer Walker offering a sympathetic last look to the family.

No one could believe the police would be arresting an old woman for the death of one of the most hated men in Twinbrook. Rachel was the mayor and she hadn’t heard any rumblings about an arrest, or that Max’s death was even being investigated. Someone else had to be pulling the strings. Rachel stretched her brain trying to think of who had a grudge against the Rackets. Who didn’t? she thought. But the question was who had a grudge against Marigold Racket?

Rachel was aware that the woman had made her fair share of bad choices in her day. She had even been the madam of Shady’s for awhile, and Rachel suspected the Marigold wasn’t the most well-liked woman. However, she had memory issues for nearly a decade, much of which was owed to repeated trauma at the hand of her abusive and sadistic husband. She knew in her heart of hearts Marigold had something to do with her husband’s death, but if anything, they could argue self-defense. The bastard probably attacked her first.

Dennis sent the tearful Lolly upstairs, and called the family lawyers. Rachel called her office and the chief of police. Bill called the police department switchboard directly, using some choice words and colorful language. Rachel shook her head, and moved to the dining room away from her ranting husband. Just like him to complicate things. She learned the police department put together the arrest warrant around an hour ago, and someone from the state government called and requested the arrest be moved up to early this morning instead of waiting until eight a.m.

Rachel called her contacts in New Simoleans, and poked around, trying to figure out who this mysterious person in the capitol was and why they wanted to arrest the wife of the deceased man. After nearly half a day of the run-around, she was desperate enough to call her state police department contact directly. He dodged her questions, saying the whole thing was out of his hands, but finally explained the case had gone “federal” before hanging up.

Rachel was stunned. A federal case against Marigold Racket? That seemed out of the feds normal jurisdiction or interest. She rubbed her forehead, exhausted. Bill came in bringing her a glass of water, and cursing under his breath about the idiocy of the police.

“The damn sons-of-bitches want to file a harrassment claim against me? A harassment claim? Can you believe that? Can the police even do that?” he threw his hands in the air.

Rachel took the aspirin he was offering, and a sip of water. The switchboard operator was probably blowing steam, she figured, but Bill was being exceedingly obnoxious.

“Do you think Ma will get bail?” he asked.

“Probably not for a murder case,” Rachel said. “You’d have to ask…”

“I’m not calling again,” Bill raised his voice. “They’ve had enough of me and frankly I’m sick of ’em. The way this station runs itself is piss poor, and I’ll be damned if I have to talk to one more shitty incompetent person there. Who the hell do they think they are? Taking on the Rackets?”

This was so much bigger than what they were seeing, Rachel knew it, but she didn’t know how to explain it.

“Do you think you could use some of that pent-up energy to play with our daughter?” she asked, offering a weak smile.

“Sure,” Bill said. “It’s better than waiting around and doing nothing.”

 

 

At ten after five in the evening, Rachel, Dennis, and Bill gathered in the living room. None of them had even bothered getting dressed for the day. The sun was nearly down, and Rachel felt odd sitting in just her nightgown.

Sinbad had arrived to take the weepy Lolly and cherub-sweet little Hope out for pizza and colas. Rachel had tried to slip him a fifty, but Sinbad shook his head and said he had it. She had closed her eyes and nodded graciously. She knew he hadn’t been working since he was back in Twinbrook, and she wasn’t even sure where he was staying, though Lolly had mentioned something about him staying with his old roommate in passing. Rachel was surprised because the Goode boy had eloped with the Castor woman and they had kids together. Beverly had even reverted to her maiden name, Pitts, and their daughter, Apple and infant son, Oranje, frequented the same day care Rachel and Bill utilized for Hope. Rachel didn’t think Sinbad was on the best of terms with Goodwin given the man broke up a marriage and created quite a stir in Twinbrook.

The two Racket men stared hard at one another, and Rachel couldn’t make eye contact with either. She finally took Bill’s hand out of a sense of forced obligation.

“The Feds have been making a case,” she said.

“I know,” Dennis sighed heavily, leaning forward as he rubbed his face.

“You do?” Rachel said, surprised.

“Wait… what?” Bill frowned. “Feds? Whad’da they want with Ma?”

“I’ve been helping them,” Rachel said, her voice barely above a whisper.

“You have?” Bill dropped her hand and jerked his full attention to her.

“Me too,” Dennis added.

“You… have?” Bill repeated.

“Really?” Rachel blinked rapidly.

“Yes, I was helping them build a case against Russ,” Dennis explained.

“Wait… Cousin Russ?” Bill was so lost.

“I was helping them build a case against Max,” Rachel added.

“I thought so,” Dennis said.

“I was working with the state police, and apparently they were reporting to the SNIT.”

“I was approached and offered a deal… limited sentence to turn tail on the boss.”

“Russ has been running things for sometime. After I did a lot of research, I realized Max was only a mid-level grunt at most. He had lost most of his authority over the years. It took me until my initial meeting in Roaring Heights to piece together that Russ was really  the one running the show, but the state cops wanted Max first.”

“Dad has done some horrible shit over the years. I’m surprised he hadn’t been caught before now.”

“But you’re still in… aren’t you? I mean, or is it just a cover?”

“Hey!” Bill whistled and threw up his hands. “Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on? Rachel?” he looked at his wife in total shock. “You were building a case against Dad?”

“Yes,” she admitted. “And once I knew it was really Russ, I planned to come back and help them build a case against him, but Max stabbed me first.”

“That bastard,” Bill balled his fists.

“I couldn’t get home.”

“I thought it was a mugging.”

“Well, you thought wrong,” Dennis piped up, aggressively, and Rachel could tell he was fiercely annoyed with his older brother. “Who were you working with, Rachel? Did you have a contact with the Agency too, or was it just state and then got bumped up?”

She hesitated, unsure of how much she should let on. “Bumped. How close were the Feds with Russ?” she deflected.

“Close,” he replied. “They got to his number two.”

“And Marigold was formerly Max’s number two,” Rachel sank back on the couch, putting two and two together, feeling the lump in her stomach grow exponentially.

“Does that mean?” Bill started, but trailed off.

A look of horror crossed Dennis’ face and Rachel’s simultaneously.

“He’s making his move,” she gulped.

“…and he’s eliminating all of Max’s former associates…” Dennis said what Rachel couldn’t.

“…which means…” Rachel’s eyes widened.

“He might make a connection to you,” Bill grabbed Rachel’s hand in a panic.

“I don’t think so,” Dennis countered. “Rachel is still very new to this game. She only offered to draft a will for him.”

Rachel frowned. “How did you know?”

“I have sources,” he said.

So do I. Rachel knew Dennis had most likely been gathering intel while slowly severing ties and purposely moving backward on the command chain, probably to remove himself from harm’s way and further incrimination.

“Everyone thinks you both went to Florsimdia to look at colleges with Lolly and visit your family, Rachel,” Dennis continued, and seeing his sister-in-law’s confused look, he added, “It was for your protection.”

“I can’t believe this!” Bill exclaimed, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

Rachel leaned into the seat, feeling an odd sense of relief. Dennis was looking out for her. She mouthed a thank you and his silent nod affirmed he saw it.

“This is just incredible. Damn incredible!” Bill said. “My wife and brother taking on the entire Racket family business and trying to take it down. Shit! I had no clue. Literally no clue. I mean, Rach, baby, you’re brave as hell hounds.”

Rachel gave him a weird look. That was the closest thing to a Bill compliment. She’d take it.

“He must have powerful connections, Russ. He must’ve been nervous. Maybe he heard rumblings of what you were doing,” Rachel directed at Dennis.

“Yes, I think that’s why he had Marigold arrested,” Dennis affirmed.

“But Ma is just a widow!” Bill protested.

Rachel didn’t know whether to be irked by her husband’s complete stupidity or relieved that the man was so naive.

“I think I know what you’re not willing to admit aloud,” Rachel said quietly.

Sadness filled Dennis’ eyes. “Max was a horrible man. We can all admit it.”

“He wasn’t a man. He was a monster,” she shuddered, and Bill put his arm around her.

“Honey, he’s gone now. You’re safe,” he said.

“Evidently not. We have a new enemy.”

“We can leave Twinbrook.”

“I’m the mayor. We have a kid…” she stopped and glanced down at her belly. I’m about to have another, she thought sadly.

“He won’t come after you.”

“Who’s to say he won’t?”

“I do!” Dennis said, standing up forcefully. “I’ll admit to killing Dad.”

“What the hell?” Bill shrieked. “Have you lost your damn mind?”

“Yeah, Dennis… you can’t do that,” Rachel said worriedly.

“I need to,” Dennis said seriously.

“You’ve got shit for brains, bro,” Bill yelled.

“No, I’m using my brain, bro,” Dennis said, a hard edge to his tone. “It’s the only way to get Ma out of jail. She has blood on her hands and between that and Russ’ connections, she’ll probably stay in prison. It’s the only way to protect this family.”

“Dennis, think about what you’re saying.”

“Yeah, brother, what the hell? That’s probably what Russ wants and you didn’t kill Dad.”

“Yeah, but Ma did.”

“But at least your mother can claim self-defense or plead insane. Dennis, if you do this, you’ll go for life.”

“I know.”

“No, you don’t know. And what about Shark and Lolly? They’ll never look at you the same way again. They just lost their grandfather and mother and now they’ll lose you? You can’t do this to them,” Rachel wailed.

She didn’t add – you can’t do this to me. 

“Yeah, Dennis, think,” Bill said. “We can get really good lawyers for Ma and she’ll probably get out quickly. You… we can’t save you.”

No we can’t! Rachel wanted to cry.

“I need to do this,” Dennis said as if he had already decided.

“No,” Bill protested.

Rachel’s heart sank to the feet, and possibly through the floor. She didn’t want to say anything for fear of hurting Bill, but she didn’t want Dennis to go to prison, even more than she didn’t want Marigold to sit in prison, even if she was guilty of the crime.

“Think about it, first, please?” she pleaded. “Please? Overnight at least? Besides, we need to figure out what we’re going to do about Russ. Especially if you go to…”

“…jail…” Bill finished for her.

“Exactly,” she said, trying to change the subject. “If Russ really is trying to eliminate all traces of Max’s old company, who would he target next if he’s already got Marigold… and…”

No one wanted to add the possibility that the evil cousin had also taken out Silver. Rachel wouldn’t be surprised. It would be just one more way to get to Dennis. She shivered at the thought.

“Probably Lucy,” Bill surmised. “Isn’t she still Dad’s…like… number two? Like since Ma stopped working for the organization and shit?”

“Lucy Ferne?” Rachel nodded. “Yeah that makes sense. And probably anyone she’s associated with… which would be…”

Fear seized her heart as she realized what she was about to say. Her eyes jolted to Dennis’ and she saw his face go paler than the full moon.

Shark!” they said in unison.

“Where is he tonight?” Bill asked.

Dennis was already out the door, not even bothering to pull a shirt over his head or shoes on his feet. Bill looked at Rachel in bewilderment as they heard Dennis’ sports car roar to life in the driveway.

“He said he had a meeting with Russ,” Rachel could barely say the words.

“Then that means…” Bill trailed off.