Gage knew something had to change. He sensed it that night with Constance. She had driven him back to Cerise’s apartment, and insisted on coming up with him. Cerise was “entertaining” again, and surprised by the intrusion, but she gave him back the clothes and wallet, and tried to kiss his cheek. Gage flinched, rejecting her advances. It didn’t feel right. Then Constance glanced about and gave the woman a piece of her mind, much to Gage’s horror and amazement. She marched back out of the apartment and into the elevator, glancing back at him in an insistent “are you coming?” look of annoyance. Gage moved to follow and Cerise laughed lightly.
“That must be Kass. I can see why you like her.”
He waited to chew out Constance until they were in the car, but decided to let the subject drop since she was driving him home to Riverview. Though he planned to toughen it up and act sullen, he opened up to the woman over burgers and fries and chocolate malts. He shared with her some of his childhood nightmares and his adult dreams, and he revealed the woman of his heart, a woman named Kassiopeia Fullbright. A woman who had rejected him and chosen someone else.
He couldn’t believe he spilled his guts to a practical stranger. He barely knew Constance, but she made him feel comfortable. She shared some of her own stories, a man whom she loved in college. A man she thought would fix everything and be everything for her. A man who had broken her heart. She talked about how she went on a similar quest to find herself after college, and ended up moving around from man to man for awhile. He had a hard time believing prim, proper, modest, sweet Constance could have such a past, but she laughed, waving her fry dripping with ketchup and said she was one in the same.
What he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear was was her insistence that this kind of love, if it was love at all, more like lust, she said, wasn’t fulfilling or lasting. Part of him knew this, but he didn’t want to believe it. He wanted to go on doing whatever he could to forget the horrible aching hole in his heart. The sex numbed the pain, and that was the only thing he wasn’t ready to admit aloud. She nodded, as if she understood his silence.
Constance went up to the counter and brought back sprinkles doughnuts – chocolate with pink sprinkles and strawberry glaze for her, and red velvet with blue sprinkles and vanilla glaze for him. She told him these were the best doughnuts in the state, and she had bribed the secret ingredient in the dough out of the owner years ago, but she had never told anyone. And then, as if she knew what he was thinking, she held up the doughnut and looked through the center and said, “Sex won’t fill the things that are missing.”
His lips parted in shock. She took a bite of the doughnut and shrugged.
“It’s sugary goodness at best. Here for a moment,” she swallowed. “And gone the next…”
She wiped her mouth with a napkin from the dispenser.
“Delicious, but never filling.”
He knew the truth. He didn’t want to admit it. Constance recommended he seek counseling. She said it worked wonders for her. He wasn’t sure. He called around a few places, but no place was accepting new patients or the pay was too steep for a visit. Plus he didn’t have insurance yet. Billy, his boss at the Octagon House, hadn’t filled out the paperwork yet when he went flitting off to Lucky Palms and then up to Simnadia.
Dejected, he wandered around Riverview after work a few nights, mulling over his options. He could take out a loan, but a bank probably wouldn’t give him one with little to no credit. He passed by the Cannery and saw an advertisement for the “Love Doctor.” Upon closer inspection, he saw the words, “First time visit free. Visits following § 35.”
Thirty-five Simos!? He could muster up thirty-five Simoleons. He continued to read about the benefits of seeing the Love Doctor – how she counseled in matters of love and life and had decades of experience. It might be a carnival gimmick but he was willing to give it a try. He found an app for the office and scheduled an appointment – Tuesday after work.
The Love Doctor’s office was nothing like he expected – puzzle-piece carpet that reminded him of grape soda, Valensim hearts hanging on the wall, mismatching curtains, and lavish mirrors. Her room was rented above the EverFresh Delights Supermarket, and he could smell cured meats from the deli through the thin floors and hear the shopping carts scrapping shelves and linoleum below. And the doctor herself looked no older than himself, dressed in classic genie attire, a peach tube top and mulberry gaucho pants and gold and peach trim, something you’d expect out of One Thousand and One Nights in the Simarabian desert.
“Is this for real?” he asked, incredulously.
“Come in, please,” she gestured to a pink- and-heart patterned table and butterfly patterned chairs in the back.
“You’re the Love Doctor?” he narrowed his eyes. “With decades of experience?”
“I’m half-Orbix,” she replied, and when he looked confused, she added, “You know, the blue-skinned alien race from space?”
He stared straight ahead.
“We’re the ones helping you with the Xenosi,” she said as if he was dumb.
“We live longer than the average Sim. I’m actually seventy-five years old.”
“Can I get you some water?”
“No thanks. Look, is this really free?”
She frowned. “Absolutely. I am here to serve.”
“Um… well, okay… how does this work?”
“Well, usually a client tells me a problem and I tell them how to fix it, if I can.”
“Do you grant a wish?” he snickered, noting the fortune 8 ball on the table.
She stared off at a blank space on the wall, and sighed.
“If that is your wish…”
“Wait… uh… no… I mean, I only get three, right? If I remember correctly from my mythology,” Gage stammered, feeling awkward.
“I’m half sim’jinn,” she replied. “If I was full, I could grant more than three, but I may only grant three at a time to a single individual, and only if it relates to the problem at hand. I am here to serve.”
Gage frowned. “Yeah you said that,” he twiddled his thumbs. “You really are a sim’jinn? A genie?”
“And a counselor?”
“Well, I guess, here goes…” he sighed. “I’m pretty much willing to try anything.”
Gage began talking about his rough childhood and how he wanted to have a family more than anything, and that he liked women. He chuckled. A lot. He liked women a lot. He enjoyed their company and their looks and their attention.
“And their sexual desire for you,” the woman sim’jinn interrupted him.
He blinked rapidly. “Uhhhhh…”
“Yes I can tell a man who has a strong sexual prowess and a desire to be the king of the jungle…” she winked, and tilted her head, offering a silly little laugh. “And the bedroom.”
What kind of counselor is this? Well, she is free.
“Do you have a license to practice?” he interjected.
She frowned. “No, well… I should qualify that. I’m not a licensed psychologist or therapist but among my people, we are known to be good listeners and we grow to be quite wise in our old age. I am bound by the codes of my people, the sim’jinn – do no harm and such – but we are quite lax compared to your Simlish doctors and all. I can’t prescribe you pills and you don’t need to take everything I say seriously, but I listen. Most people want a fun little fortune told or a wish granted. You’re the first person to walk in here and tell me your life story.”
Gage felt the heat bloom on his cheeks. Constance had recommended counseling. This wasn’t what she had in mind. This wasn’t what he had in mind.
“Oh I see,” he managed to squeak out.
“It’s okay, Gage,” she reached across the table and took his hand. “I can tell you needed to say what you said and you needed someone to listen and care. I don’t really know you, but I’m glad you shared those things with me. You needed to be heard and accepted.”
He jerked his hand, feeling uncomfortable with the whole situation. “Um…okay… thanks I guess.”
She smiled broadly. “Anytime. You are welcome.”
“I don’t even know your name,” he said sheepishly.
“Nalea al Nazneen,” she replied. “That’s how I knew about the king of the jungle.”
“Wha…what? Why?” his eyes grew wide.
“My name means lioness,” she giggled.
“It’s…uh…um… it’s a pretty name,” was all he could think to say as he loosened his collar. “Could I get that water now?”
“Sure,” Nalea stood up and walked over to a mini refrigerator returning with a chilled water bottle. “You know I think Gage is a nice name too.”
Funny! That’s what Cerise had said. He gulped down the liquid as quickly as possible.
“So I don’t pay you, huh?” he remarked.
“Nah, this first session is free, though you’re welcome to come back for more,” Nalea smiled warmly. “In fact, I’d like that.”
She stretched out her hand.
“Are you going to read my palm?”
She laughed. “No, I’m not an enchantress…” she waited, and then spoke again, pointing. “Your water bottle? Are you finished? I was going to throw it away.”
“Oh of course,” he averted his eyes to avoid the surmounting discomfort. “So my wishes? I can wish for anything?”
“Within the realm of life and love, and that’s pretty much anything,” she replied, tossing the bottle into the trash.
“What if I change my mind?” he asked.
Returning to her seat, she pointed to the table. “No, all wishes are final. That’s the rule. I’m sorry. You have to keep what you ask for.”
Gage paused, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. He wasn’t sure this was remotely what he came for, but now that he had the attention of a sim’jinn, he couldn’t let it escape. He thought about what would best benefit him.
“I wish for…” the words sounded strange exiting his mouth, but Gage continued. “…”I wish to…to be irresistible.”
Nalea smiled, and bobbed her head. He waited. Nothing happened.
“What? No shimmering dust or magic music or instant feelings of relief or something?” he joked.
“No, it doesn’t work like that. Trust me. I’m logging your wish. You’ll receive the wish when you’re done telling me what you desire,” Nalea explained.
“Oh okay…” he closed his eyes, thinking hard.
He thought about the words of Constance, saying he couldn’t chase after empty things. Sex won’t fill the things that are missing.
But perhaps finding the right woman and having her want me will help. And how will I know who she is? And if she wants me? He would have to be the best guy he could be and that would be enough, right?
“I wish to know how to please a woman.”
Nalea bobbed her head again.
“And I wish…” Gage hesitated.
He had already used up two wishes. He couldn’t take them back. What would be the best wish? Think. Think.
Ah come on! You don’t even know if this will work.
But if it was a scam, shouldn’t I be paying or something?
Then again, maybe that’s how she hooks people. She brings them back again and again and they pay money after she’s hooked them the first time.
But she looks trustworthy enough.
Nalea cleared her throat, drawing him back to the present. He knew what he wanted.
“I wish to have a home of my own for my family,” he added.
Nalea stood up, walking over to Gage, and stretched out her hand. “It’s a pleasure doing business with you, Gage Briody.”
When he took her hand, he wasn’t sure if he had just been swindled or not, by this oddly beautiful and quirky sim’jinn but he did feel hopeful for the first time in years.
Author Note: I hope you enjoyed Gage’s little side trip to the “Love Doctor.” FYI, the “fortune 8 ball” wasn’t a typo. It’s my Simworld version of a Magic 8 ball.
The Orbix first made an appearance in my Letters from Lizzie story. You can read more here.
In general, the Orbix (plural species) are a service-oriented species. They train their youth in battle tactics from birth, to serve and protect their society. While a female Orbit (singular individual) can serve in the military, she cannot hold a high ranking position due to the patriarchal society.
The Orbix have been at war with the Xenosi for decades, and are helping the Sims prepare for encounters with the Xenosi through technology, training, and knowledge. Currently, the Sim-Xenosi War and the Orbix-Xenosi War is a cold one, but this wasn’t always the case. You can read more here.
Sim’jinn or genies are descendants and hybrids of the Orbix. Unlike the other hybrids (i.e. werewolves, vampires, etc), the sim’jinn are most often not recognized by their own parent race (the Orbix) or are second class citizens, especially female sim’jinn. This is because the Orbix view the sim’jinn as impure spirits, shades of their great race, and at worst, xenon (in their tongue, this word means demon) in Sim form. The legend has it the Xenosi spliced DNA from an Orbit and a Simarabian Sim to create the sim’jinn.
Because the Orbix distrust and denounce sim’jinn (due to the origin of the sim’jinn species) and treat them as second-class citizens, many Simterran governments and Sims themselves have adopted this view also.
Sim’jinn primarily live on Simterra and Simterran off-world colonies. Many travel and live alone as they aren’t widely accepted in society or are viewed as “carnival tricks” or “gimmick entertainers.” They are a small nomadic race – only a few hundred in total numbers. The sim’jinn often work in the service industry, using their abilities of their parent species to entertain, comfort, or counsel.
Because of their disconnect from the Orbix, sim’jinn are often left to figure out their culture, abilities, and powers on their own (and their skills may not be as trusted, accepted, understood, or fine-tuned as a full- blooded Orbit). Also sim’jinn cannot change their appearance like the Orbix can. They cannot blend into society like their parent race and are targets for prejudice and discrimination.
Hope you enjoyed the chapter and worldbuilding.
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Next Chapter: 1.24 Patroness of the Arts (coming soon)