Meanwhile in Another Part of Town(MAPT) is my attempt at a TS4 rotational story. Set in San Myshuno, MAPT will follow the colorful lives of Sim families in the town’s lovely apartment living situation. It is my goal to follow each Sim family for at least one Sim week through a mixture of autonomous and directed actions (like when they need a nudge in the right direction). I will begin with the Martinez family, a recreation of the TS3 SimBin couple, Pablo and Jennifer. You can read more on my Simblr.
Billy approached his tired girlfriend on the couch. He had helped her father to his bed so he could sleep off the excitement. She stared up at him with wide, grateful eyes.
“Thank you,” she said, slipping out of her boots and socks, and digging her polished toes into the thin beige rug.
Kass closed her eyes. He felt his heart twitch. She looked so comfortable, like she belonged on his couch. He wondered how he got so damn lucky. He didn’t deserve this woman.
“Oh here,” she scooted on the couch. “Did you want to sit?”
“No… it’s okay…” he shrugged. “I wanted to see…”
If you love me? I thought you did. But maybe you don’t. Not yet. But you could. If I don’t screw this up. Oh who am I kidding? Billy chuckled awkwardly and ran a hand through his hair as he settled on the coffee table, like where she had been sitting earlier.
“…if you were hungry.”
He grinned. “I could whip us up some pasta. Or I have that leftover steak from Han’s Tavern.”
“Sounds great,” she smiled, wrapping her arms around herself.
“Cold?” he asked, walking over to the thermostat. “I’ll adjust it.”
“Not really,” he thought he heard her say.
Billy frowned as he walked into the kitchen. Something was wrong. He sensed it. Dude… cut your losses and run, his gut was telling him. It was still early enough in their relationship. He wasn’t going to get his heart trampled. It might sting a little, he winced as he opened the refrigerator.
“Which is it?”
“Pasta or steak?”
“Steak? From Han’s Tavern?”
He said that already. He tried not to read into things. Too late, he rubbed his jaw as he perused the shelves in the cold storage.
“I didn’t think you saved our leftovers.”
“Of course I did,” he reached for the correct item. “Do you want the baked potato or fries with that? I didn’t know what you’d want so I had both boxed,” he was saying when she walked into the kitchen.
Somehow the image of her nearly knocked him over. The fading sunset caught her hair at just the right angle, her ponytail light and loose as it swished in the golden light. His heart echoed the pitter-patter of her bare feet on the wooden floor. He had to stop feeling like this. He couldn’t feel like this. He needed to nip his feelings in the bud before it blossomed to something outside his control. It was already outside his control. He glanced away.
“Fries,” she answered simply.
Billy cleared his throat. “There’s an unopened bottle of Ranch in the second cupboard to your right if you want… no, not that one…” he shook his head and pointed. “…that one.”
She found the right one, pulling out the dressing bottle.
“It’s good on steak and fries,” he remarked, popping the leftover steak into the microwave.
She opened the takeout box, snagged a fry and dipped it in the squirt of dressing she squeezed in the box.
“Mmm…” she smiled, and closed her eyes. “…actually it’s amazing.”
“You’re cute,” he smirked.
She opened her eyes and glared at him. “Billy Caspian! Don’t call me cute.”
“Okay, okay,” he lifted his hands in defense.
They ate the warmed leftovers at the kitchen table before returning to the couch. Kass, despite her attempts to act like nothing was wrong, kept her distance. He obliged. He needed distance. This wasn’t going to be easy.
“Are you really a Racket?”
He needed to be honest. At least about something. She twisted her lower lip. He had a hard time reading her.
“Did you?” she began. “I mean…have you?”
“Suspected. Alleged. Tried. Never convicted.”
“Oh,” Kass ran a hand through her hair as if trying to process the fact that her boyfriend faced criminal charges and most likely went to jail, albeit briefly.
“Your name is Lawrence?” she squeaked.
“Yes. I was born Lawrence William Racket. But I took my mother’s name for years, and then I settled on Caspian because it sounded cool.”
“Cool,” she repeated. “Cool…” she looked down at the floor. “And Deon… he’s not just your friend, is he?”
“He’s my bio dad.”
“Um… so that means…”
“… he’s a Racket too.”
Any number of things could be barreling through her mind from the look on her face. Billy winced.
He wanted to tell her everything. She deserved to know everything. But he wasn’t ready. He couldn’t do it again. He couldn’t open his heart and his life to another woman, especially one as young as Kass. She was barely nineteen. He already hurt her twice. She had a life ahead of her, and a life that would be better without him. Ironically, Gage’s sudden appearance helped make sense of things. At least the guy loved her, and they had history, probably better history than he did with Kass. He needed to fire Gage, but he was worried. If Gage could figure out who he really was, it was only a matter of time before others might, and that could jeporadize his business dealings. Maybe he could just demote him. He could bring in someone else to run Octagon House. Perhaps his dad’s acquaintance, the world famous Harwood Clay. Mr. Clay owed his dad a favor. Billy mentally flinched. He needed to deal with what was in front. Kass. He would have to make a choice, and his head would always win over his heart. It had to. It was the only way to survive. Billy swallowed hard. It was now or never.
“Look Kass, I get it. I’m not what you expected.”
He cut her off. “It was fun, but we both knew it wouldn’t be more than that, right? The other night was great, but it was a mistake.”
Oh the lies! He could tell by the look in her eyes that she was startled and crushed by his statement. Better now than later. Better her than me…
“A mistake?” her voice caught.
He hated that he was hurting her even more.
“I mean… I had my doubts, but…” she blinked.
He looked away, afraid of the direct eye contact. “Red… you…”
…could do better than me. I can’t protect you if you stay. You wouldn’t stay if you knew… just do it, already! Rip off the band-aid.
“Kass…you’re not what I want,” he said coldly, instantly regretting the words when they left his mouth.
Kass stared at him in shock. She looked about ready to cry but was unable to… the emotions clearly frozen in her big brown eyes, both pain and anger. He wondered which would win out first. When she slapped him hard across the face, he figured it out.
“You. Used. Me…” she said bitterly. “Again!” she jumped up from the couch. “I can’t believe I… fell… for it… you used me… again. I’m such an idiot!”
He wished he could take back the words. He wished he could write his wrongs, but he was in too deep and she didn’t deserve to get dragged down with him. He stood.
“Red…come on, we both know you’re not a good fit. You’re too inexperienced for me,” he continued, saying the lines he rehearsed a half-dozen times in front of the mirror, even if every word sounded like a horrid lie.
She narrowed her eyes. “And you’re too experienced for me, is that it?”
She walked right up to him until she was inches from his face. He wished he could take everything back. He wished he could lean in and kiss her soft, sensuous lips. He wished he could change his past. But he couldn’t.
“I was just a piece of tail to you, wasn’t I?” she glared at him. “A fix on your full moon night so you wouldn’t starve? I want to hear you say it.”
She was practically standing on his toes, and he half expected her to stomp on his foot.
“Say it, Billy!” she demanded, through gritted teeth. “Tell me what I was to you.”
You could’ve been my angel.
“A good time,” he swallowed and forced a devious smile. “Nothing more.”
Kass walked toward the bedroom, and opened the door, checking in on her father. “We’re leaving in the morning.”
She disappeared into his room, waking her father, and helping the groggy Howard out into the living room.
“It’s okay, Dad, I’ve got you,” she said quietly, glaring at Billy over her shoulder.
“What’s going on?” Howard inquired.
“Don’t worry about it, Dad. We’re going to see Marisol,” she replied.
“Why?” Howard rubbed his eye and winced as the skin below had formed a blackish-purple bruise.
“Because I’m a good time.”
She walked out the door with Howard, and quite possibly out of his life forever.
As she promised, Kass hitched the trailer to her father’s truck and they drove away in the wee morning hours. Billy was too much of a coward to face her after his horribly bad break-up speech. He merely watched through the faded window blinds. Once the Fullbrights were out of view, Billy wandered outside, shoving his hands into his pockets as he leaned against the porch railing. The front door opened.
“Whoo!” Dennis made a face. “It’s cold out here.”
He rubbed his hands together. Billy prepared for a lecture.
“I offered to help her out,” Dennis said. “I gave her an exclusive from inside the Racket crime family.”
“Do you think that’s the wisest idea?” Billy narrowed his eyes, wishing he had the nasty habit of smoking or that he’d brought a cup of coffee onto the porch, something to occupy his hands.
Dennis shrugged. “I felt bad that she got fired. She said she wouldn’t reveal her sources, but I gotta say she was surprised when she learned who I really was.”
Billy didn’t say anything, instead choosing to stare out at the yard.
“You didn’t have to break that poor girl’s heart,” Dennis said quietly.
Here we go. Billy resisted the urge to roll his eyes.
“I didn’t,” he twisted the toe of his tennis shoe into the porch floorboards. “She didn’t love me.”
But she could have… if you weren’t such a llama-sucking moron! he balled his fists inside his jacket pockets.
“Billy, if there’s one thing I know at my age is that love is rarely what you think it is,” Dennis said, almost disapprovingly.
“She didn’t want to be what I need,” he shrugged, realizing his words sounded lame, empty, and hollow as soon as he spoke.
He recalled saying those exact words about someone else before.
Dennis sighed and placed his fist against one of the wood posts. “The beginning of love,” he began. “…is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
Billy’s jaw dropped open in shock. “What kind of shit are you spouting?”
“It’s from a book… by Merton Thomasim. He was…a monk…” Dennis explained.
“A monk?” Billy repeated, arching both brows and waving his hands. “Dude, I’m no monk. Are you freaking kidding me?”
“You’re missing the point. It’s not about what you need. You should’ve been more honest with her,” Dennis remarked. “Even if you were breaking up with her… but if you don’t fix this…” he pinched the bridge of his nose. “…I’m worried.”
“You should be more worried about your other kids. You have for most of my life anyway.”
“Son, I’m…” Dennis trailed off.
Neither one of them wanted to talk about their past. How Dennis left his mother behind because of his family obligations. How his mother drank herself into oblivion because she couldn’t handle life. How his aunt took over raising him, amusing herself with him like he was her personal plaything. How Dennis didn’t come back into his life until he was sixteen and a runaway.
Billy grunted and kicked the porch railing. “I’ve got this handled.”
“You do? Really? You just sent your girlfriend packing because she’s not what you really need, but see, I think she is. I think she is and that’s what scares you.”
“You don’t know me.”
“Oh but I do. You see… I was you once. Except I didn’t stand a chance…” Dennis tilted his head. “You do.”
Billy dug his nails into the porch railing, the frustration threatening to boil over like hot lava into a snow bank. He didn’t want to think about his losses. He didn’t want to think about what would happen if that cowplant-brained ex of hers actually did know who he was and reported him to the authorities. He didn’t want to think about what would happen to their relationship if she knew everything about him.
“I think this is a facade,” Dennis said. “You’ve done this before, but this time it’s different, I think.”
“It’s not different… it’s exactly the same,” Billy snipped. “The same old me. The player. What boyfriend plants the idea of a boat in his girlfriend’s head and then pretends the motor isn’t working to get her alone on an island? I bring all my girls to your place. Kass is no different.”
Dennis frowned. “Did you plant the idea to have sex in her head?”
Billy shook his head in horror. “Never. I never do that to any of the girls I’m with. I know…” he trailed off.
He knew what it was like to be forced and coerced into doing something against one’s will. For all his manipulation and vampiric mind tricks, he had a cardinal rule, and that was that the girl had to want to have sex with him before he’d ever take it to the next level. She had to be willing and give consent. And he knew for certain Kass had wanted him the other night. He could practically feel her desire oozing from his pores. That was the thing about being a hybrid. All his senses were heightened. He used it to his advantage, but he never took sexual advantage of anyone. It was wrong on so many levels. He couldn’t live with himself if he did. Billy was glad Dennis was only a were and couldn’t see into his head now.
“I can’t protect her if she stays.”
“You won’t be happy if she leaves.”
“I’m a big boy. I can handle it.”
“But I don’t know if she can. You crushed that girl.”
“She’ll get over it.”
“Billy… you have so much to learn.”
“I’m my own man,” Billy replied in annoyance. “I’ve learned that life is cruel and you don’t always get what you want, but the only way to survive is to stay ahead of the storm and look out for uno número.”
“That’s a lonely existence,” Dennis shook his head. “Trust me. I’ve lived it. You don’t have to.”
“Kass and I are a fairy tale.”
And fairy tales give me the creeps. Billy shivered, thinking of his aunt’s penchant for reading Jacksim and the Beanstalk to him before bed, even in his teens.
“We don’t belong together.”
“I’ve seen the way you look at her.”
“Kass and her dad… they’re good people… they’re not like us, Dad… She deserves someone better.”
“What she deserves is an apology.”
“Shove off, llama’s ass,” Billy growled, stomping off the porch. “Who asked you? It’s better this way. She’s…safe… and we can carry on our business here.”
Dennis didn’t say anything for a moment and Billy wondered if he was going to respond.
“If that’s what you want.”
“It is,” Billy said, knowing that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Author Note: And round two of Billy and Kass failed. It shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, Kass is single and pining for Davis at the beginning of 2.0 Kassiopeia Fullbright and the Lost Legacy. I wanted to explore the concept of returning to partners after a break-up. It’s not to say it doesn’t ever work, but I wanted to explore the idea of people who go back to bad relationships. I’m specifically referring to Kass and her second time around with Billy. I’ll continue with this idea again in the future, probably in another Kass crossover chapter, or in KFLL. This time, Kass was more confident in her confrontation. She’s learning, albeit slowly.
A leopard often doesn’t change its spots. However, this time around, I wanted to give more context to Billy. He’s not this one-dimensional bad boy. He’s got his reasons, misplaced perhaps, and he could’ve picked a better way to break things off with Kass. The quote about love is attributed to Thomas Merton, a real world Catholic monk and mystic, who in my Simworld is named Merton Thomasim and is a Jacoban monk and mystic.
In case you were confused, Billy is both a werewolf and a vampire. The context for this was first mentioned inInterludes: Bad Memories. In my Simworld lore, some vampires have empathic abilities, and others have telepathic abilities, and very few have the ability to do “inception,” that is project or plant an idea in someone’s brain. I got this concept from the “make Sim think about me” option in game. Yes, Billy was, in part, manipulative in setting up the circumstances for their rendezvous, but as he admitted above, their woohoo was consensual. As you can probably tell, Billy is very much torn about Kass. He does care about her, though at this point, it is unclear whether either of them have deep feelings like genuine love for one another, and it’s unlikely they will find out anytime soon given Billy’s stubbornness.
Nothing like a hefty dose of Simspeare first thing in the morning. Kass had been reading on her tablet – the story of the star-crossed lovers – while lying in bed. It seemed almost appropriate given she and Billy were destined not to be. Somehow she knew this deep in her heart. Why do I always jump in head first without thinking? First Davis, then Billy, then Gage, and then Billy again. As she slid into the booth at the table in the trailer, Kass found herself face to face with the very flower Billy had given her a few weeks before. If only everything had stayed so happy and innocent. But she wasn’t naive anymore. There was so much more to the world than she had ever realized, and while this time, it wasn’t entirely Billy’s fault, she knew things couldn’t continue like they were.
They still hadn’t really talked in the last few days. Billy had been busy with his art lessons with Pierce Shawkti’s daughter and Peter Winterly’s son and doing some kind of job for or with Deon Merton, which Kass was pretty certain that wasn’t his real name. As she still hadn’t worked up the nerve to tell him she was freaked out by sex, she realized she couldn’t hold it against him if he didn’t think anything was wrong. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe he would understand. Who am I kidding? Kass poked at a strawberry in the fruit salad. He’s been with a dozen plus one women. He won’t want to go without.
Kass finished her breakfast. Howard had left her a fruit salad with her favorite berries, toasted coconut, pomegranate seeds, kiwi, and roasted almonds drizzled in a raspberry poppyseed dressing. She was grateful after all these years he was still making her food. This morning he headed to the gym for an early start with the therapist, and then was planning to swing by Dr. Rhoen’s home for a EXCES support group session. She was glad he found camaraderie and encouragement. He needed it. She did too, but she wasn’t sure she was ready to reach out. Taking the pills was the first step. So far, she felt okay.
Frozen water chunks dropped from the sink head. Great! Kass hit the faucet a few times but to no avail. The water refused to re-liquefy, the downside of trailer pipes in winter. She only had a single dish to wash and a coffee cup, but she hated to leave it unwashed. Perhaps she could sneak over to Billy’s house and grab a roll of heat tape. He said something about it working wonders. She glanced at her watch. And he wouldn’t be home right now as this was his normal session with Miss Shawkti.
Kass stepped outside, neglecting her coat as she was only going a short distance. The view from Billy’s yard was spectacular, everything was covered in a glorious white. Azure Lake reflected everything like a mirror on its smooth icy surface. She wished she had a pair of skates, but then again, she had never been great with the balance issues. The evergreens were coated with a light layer of snow, making the woods appear practically magical. It was such a pristine and beautiful day. Kass almost felt melancholy. It was too perfect. Nothing’s that perfect, she thought cynically.
Without knocking, she walked in the back door of her boyfriend’s home. He usually left it unlocked and seeing as she was the only one home, she figured the knock was a useless gesture. She perused the kitchen drawers, but was unable to find what she was looking for, and then tried rummaging through the hall desk. Nothing. Kass wrinkled her nose as she stared up at blank walls. If she would stay with him longer, she would spruce up the place. The walls could use some paintings, and the tables, some fresh flowers, the shelves, some books. Since it was only a rental, and Billy was a guy, she figured he cared little for pretty fixtures. And yet the emptiness of the place induced even more sadness. Are these working right? she wondered about her pills. Aren’t I supposed to feel less upset?
She remembered that Billy once said that he liked to keep tools in the bedroom. Top dresser drawers. It was an odd habit, but Billy wasn’t exactly the average guy. Kass wandered into the bedroom, almost tentatively. This was where Billy slept. Somehow it felt private, even if she was his girlfriend, a girlfriend with whom he had been intimate. She stared at the bed longingly.
That’s probably where it should’ve happened. Is it normal to obsess like this? She tugged at her sweater sleeves. She needed to focus. The tall standing mirror next to the dresser rocked back and forth. She frowned. That’s odd. She shivered, and realized the window was open.
Running over, she slammed and latched the window. The mirror continued to squeak for a moment, still rocking by the sudden rush of air. Kass stepped over to steady the looking glass. As she slowed its movement, another frame caught her eye. Something was under the bed. Kass turned and knelt down out of curiosity.
She tugged the white frame with the blue matte background from beneath the bed. It was a photograph of Billy, a younger version of Billy, lovingly holding a woman, presumably a girlfriend. Kass frowned. Though her hair was longer, she looked familiar. I know her. Kass’s eyes grew wide. It was Constance Shelley from Riverview, that friend of Gage’s.
She flipped the frame to read the inscription on the back. It was dated Valensim’s Day nearly seven years prior. The words read, “To Bill. All my love, Connie.” Bill? Connie? Kass grimaced. Was this the long lost love of Billy’s? She gasped, the photograph nearly slipping from her hands. Was this his… mate? The woman he was supposed to be with forever? The one he abandoned? It couldn’t be. She couldn’t be. Kass sat down on the edge of the blue blanket on the bed. She didn’t know what to think or feel. She was pretty sure Constance was a lovely woman, but she had never suspected she was werewolf or anything else for that matter. And she was pretty sure Gage had a crush on her.
Oh the complications! Kass grunted and flopped back on the bed, throwing an arm behind her neck. It’s like a love-triangle-square-hexagon thingy. Gage liked Kass. Kass liked Billy. Billy once liked Constance. Gage liked Constance. At least she thought he did. But he also liked that Anita woman. At one point he liked Natalya. And Billy liked many other women too. I can’t… even… Kass tugged at the edge of her sweater. It was suddenly too warm in the house.
Simnadia was beautiful. She felt like she was in a painting and couldn’t find the frame. The only thing that isn’t supposed to be here is me, she thought woefully as she collapsed on the bench. She wasn’t sure where she belonged. She wasn’t sure where she was supposed to be. Or how she was supposed to feel. She swiped at a lone tear. The frigid air nipped at her exposed skin and through her sweater, jeans, and boots, but she didn’t care so much about the cold. She stared out at the powdered sugar mountain across the frozen lake, dotted with trees that looked like toys from a distance. Everything looks better under snow. It hides all the imperfections, she decided, all the jagged edges no one wants to see. Yet Kass knew they were still there. They were all still there.
She returned to the trailer before coming back to the bench in Billy’s backyard. She needed something to make her happy. The lime green photo album was just what she needed to laugh, to smile, to cry. All of it. She needed to feel all of it. It was the only way to move forward. She had to close this chapter of her life, and let go of her past. She was a very different girl than she was a mere eight months before. Kass smiled sadly as she wistfully brushed the pages of pictures of her two best friends and her in high school and graduation. If only she could go back…
“What are you doing here?”
She dropped the book in the snow, startled by a vision of her former best friend and former boyfriend, breathing heavily. She stood up and walked toward him, almost afraid it was a mirage, and then hoping he wasn’t really here. He couldn’t be here.
“I see you were looking at my gift,” Gage said softly.
“Wha…what are you? Why are you? Oh!” she smacked the sides of her face. “You can’t be here.”
“But I am,” Gage stepped forward, reaching for her, but she stepped back.
“Ga…Gage… you can’t be. We’re done. We’re through. We’re over. Oh gawd!” Kass leaned over and seized her knees in shock, breathing in quick, erratic patterns. “You have a child coming. You have… Natalya!”
Gage shook his head. “She doesn’t make me feel like you do. And you needed me.”
“Wha? Oh…fudge…Gage, you can’t…” Kass placed a hand over her heart. “You can’t be here. You can’t come running like this.”
“But you called me.”
“It was a mistake.”
“You needed me,” he said, forcefully, as he took a step forward.
“Maybe I did… but I shouldn’t have called you…I…” Kass clutched at her sweater, trying to calm her wildly beating heart.
Despite the cold, she could feel the perspiration on her neck. Her ex-best friend and ex-boyfriend just flew to or drove to…she wasn’t certain… Simnadia at the drop of a hat… because she had a moment of weakness and called him. It would be romantic or sweet if she felt anything for him. Anything. But where her heart was…instead was a lump of coal or a block of ice when it came to Gage Briody. She wanted to feel better. She wanted to feel more. But she couldn’t. And she never would. Why oh why didn’t he understand that? Why didn’t he get it?
“Gage… you should go,” she said quietly.
“What? I just got here,” he reached for and squeezed her hands.
“I…uh…” her voice cracked and she felt trapped, and then she saw Billy marching down the back steps of his house, and he didn’t look happy.
“Oh hell,” she murmured.
“Gage Briody! What the hell are you doing here?” Billy began, waving his arms frantically.
“Um… Billy… I can explain,” she said, weakly, staring at Gage.
He either didn’t hear her or he chose to ignore her. “I got a call from Joab, the security guard, and he said you didn’t show up to work yesterday or today… obviously, not today… you’re here.”
Kass placed a hand over her heart. Oh good! He thinks this is about work! This can still be salvaged. She felt a temporary relief.
“If you came to beg for your job in person, you could’ve saved yourself a wasted trip,” Billy grunted. “Dude, I gave you a break and you blew it. Last month you missed a major shipment that cost us thousands of Simoleons because you ran off to Simlaska and this month, you flew up to the Springs because what? You got cabin fever and you wanted to ski? What the hell are you doing here? You better have a damn good explanation.”
“I. Love. Kass,” Gage bit the words out and whipped his gaze to her.
Kass gasped. No, no, no, no, no. This can’t be happening. Not again. How come he wouldn’t give up? Why couldn’t he take a hint?
Billy released a forced and odd laugh, running his hand through his hair. “So that’s what this is about? You can’t let the girl go?”
Kass’ heart rate accelerated. This wasn’t good.
“You flew all the way here to see Kass. Why?” Billy laughed mirthlessly.
“Because she called me,” Gage stuck his chin in the air.
“Is that true?” Billy looked at Kass.
She winced. “Um?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Gage walked over and took Kass’ hand. “Even if she didn’t call me, I would’ve come anyhow. You hurt her, you bastard!”
All the color drained from Kass’ face. No, no, no! I can’t. This can’t. Say something, Kass.
“I hurt her?” Billy’s eyes widened. “You risked your job for a girl who doesn’t even love you? Who never loved you?”
“Billy, stop…” she partially found her voice.
“You need to go home and think about your priorities,” Billy said. “If you can’t tell, Kass is with me now, and she left you because she doesn’t love you. Only a loser chases a person they can’t have.”
“GAH!” Gage angrily shoved Billy back in the snow. “I love her. That’s all that matters. And you… can you say you do?”
“What’s going on here?”
Howard appeared in the yard, surprised to see Gage. Kass ran to his side.
“Daddy!” she wailed, feeling like a helpless child the moment the word left her mouth, but somehow the use of a childlike term of endearment was justifiable in the moment.
“It’s okay, sweetie. I got this,” Howard patted her shoulders reassuringly before stepping around her. “Gage, why are you here?”
“Kass called me.”
Kass looked helplessly between Billy and Gage. “I…did…” she admitted. “But it’s not what you think, Billy…” she continued, and narrowed her eyes as she looked at Gage. “…or what you think, Gage.”
“I think the guy’s trying to win her back,” Billy shrugged. “You don’t get any points for showing up for a girl who doesn’t even want you.”
Gage lunged for Billy.
“Whoa, son, you wanna back it up?” Howard lifted his arms as he stepped into referee the two men.
Billy took a step back. Gage continued forward, much to Kass’ dismay.
“I’m not your son,” Gage bit out, bitterly. “Back off Howard.”
“Gage, stop this!” Kass wailed.
“You lost, man, give it up,” Billy waved his hand apathetically.
“Gage… calm down, son…” Howard said, laying a hand gently on the young man’s shoulder.
“I said… BACK OFF!” Gage roared.
Billy dodged. Unable to stop his momentum, Gage whacked Howard. Kass cried out in horror, covering her face, almost afraid to watch as her frail father plummeted into the snow, sitting down so hard so was afraid he broke something, after Gage hit him square across the jaw. Billy stepped between Gage and Kass in a defensive posture, snorting as the frustration pummeled through his veins, but Kass brushed past him first preventing a follow-up blow.
“Dad!” she shrieked.
Howard moaned, holding his face. Gage looked mortified.
“You better leave,” Billy snarled.
“I’m… sorry…so….sorry…” Gage stammered, reaching both hands down to help Howard up, but Kass angrily batted them away.
“Leave,” Billy said, fiercely.
“I’m sorry…Howard… I didn’t mean to hit you…” Gage said, balling his fists as he stood his ground with Billy. “But my business isn’t done here.”
“Yes it is,” Billy reached down and helped Howard to his feet and then, a stunned Kass. “I’m calling the police.”
“Good, so they can arrest you, LawrenceWilliamRacket!” Gage spat in the snow.
Kass narrowed her eyes. Racket? As in the Racket crime family? As in the mafia of the South? She looked at Billy bewildered.
“That’s right,” Gage declared triumphantly. “I know who you are! I did my homework. Did you know you were dating a wanted man, Kass? You can do better than these criminals, Kass. Come back to me.”
Is he out of his mind? Kass whirled about while Billy helped her father to the back steps.
“Get outta here, Gage,” she snapped.
“Oh don’t baby me! You can’t be serious!” she made a disgusted face. “You hit my father!”
“I meant to hit Billy.”
“Yeah, you have a nasty habit of hitting my boyfriends. Go home, Gage…” she waved him off. “Go home to Natalya. Go home for your kid.”
“Go home before we press charges,” Billy called from the stairs.
“Press charges? Oh that’s rich!” Gage snorted.
“Gage…” she gritted her teeth, coming within inches of his face as she made fists at her side, her tone as icy as the frozen lake. “Go home.”
“Or what?” Gage jeered.
“Or I’ll kill you!” she said, darkly, smacking him hard across the face. “You hurt my dad…” she hit him again, this time, hard enough to draw blood.
Gage teetered, startled by the sudden impact.
“Kass, I’m…trying to protect you,” he wiped his lip.
“Are you deaf?” she screeched. “I never want to see you… ever again… leave me and my family… and my boyfriends… the hell…alone!”
Gage stood, staring at her, in shock.
“Leave, you son-of-a-bitch,” she shrieked. “Or so help me God, I will wring your neck faster than a spring chicken, Gage.”
She pivoted on her toe, and stomped toward a surprised Billy and Howard on the stairs.
“Remind me never to piss you off,” Billy said, quietly as he grabbed Howard’s hand, leaning into him for support.
Kass huffed, puffing a piece of hair off her forehead as she slid her arm around her father. With the help of Billy, she guided him into the house, abandoning a sad Gage to do the only thing he could do. Leave.
Kass and Billy helped Howard to the couch in the living room. He groaned as he sank into the red and gold couch cushions, shading his eyes from the bright overhead light.
“Dad…” she cried, her tone softened. “Get the ice pack,” she ordered Billy as she plopped on the coffee table.
“Yeah,” Billy replied, shuffling to the kitchen and returning moments later with cold compress.
“Here Dad… take this… are you okay? Do you feel okay?”
“I’m fine…sweetheart… that Gage…” Howard sighed. “…he’s got a lot of anger issues.”
“I don’t care about Gage,” she said, through gritted teeth, her eyes welling with tears. “Daddy… he hurt you.”
“He needs help,” Howard winced as he laid the compress on his eye.
“Dad. Don’t worry about Gage. I got him to leave.”
“I’m worried about you, pumpkin.”
Kass squeezed her father’s hand, touched by the kindness of his words. She knew he meant in more ways than one. However, now was not the time to discuss matters.
“Just rest… Dad… okay?”
Author Note: This chapter has been sitting in queue for days, but I wanted to edit the lighting as I wasn’t happy with it. This was a crazy chapter to write, and a hard chapter to stage. I ended up having to change traits of my characters just to get them into fights with one another. I planned to have Gage and Billy fight, but after Howard and Gage got into a scuffle, Kass walked over and slapped Gage autonomously. It was perfect. Just what I needed. Now that you’re over the shock, like I am… haha… thanks for reading.
When she arrived back at Billy’s house, Kass was furious. She couldn’t believe he had convinced her to interview at Sanguine Sanctuary when he had an ulterior motive all along. After they had been “discovered” by Mr. Deon Merton the other day in his island cabin, she had felt something was off. Deon had offered to take them out at first light, radioing his personal helicopter. While they waited for the remaining two hours, Deon entertained Billy and Kass with stories around the fire. He asked some questions about Kass, but was fairly evasive when she inquired about his connection to Billy. Her boyfriend had been equally quiet about the subject.
When they reached the mainland, Deon offered to take the couple to breakfast at the Redwood Heights Luxury Lodge. Kass was exhausted and achy, knowing she would need to go home, shower, and sleep before her night shift at the Sanctuary, but Deon insisted. Reluctantly, she had attended breakfast, only because she didn’t want to scramble her own eggs in the trailer. She grew suspicious when Deon asked pointed questions about her work at the club, and how people got in. However, Billy had assured her that he and Mr. Merton went way back and they could trust him. That’s when he offered up the story about his son, who would be at the club last night, and he hadn’t seen the boy in almost two years. He really wanted to surprise his kid and make up for lost time. Again, reluctantly, Kass agreed to help him, feeling bad about her own situation with her dad, and putting Deon’s name on the guest list against policy.
After collecting her final paycheck from Shark, she changed out of her work clothes and headed home to confront Billy. She had been unable to do so earlier in the day or last night because he was mysteriously busy. Figures, she sniffed as she climbed the step into the trailer. When she needed him, he disappeared.
The lights were out in the trailer when she stepped inside. She didn’t bother flipping the switch. The darkness felt comfortable to her. It was one of the rare things that did. Right now, she couldn’t stop itching. She had developed a terrible skin irritation in the last day or two. It was beginning to worry her. Maybe it was from the sex. Kass didn’t know much about intimacy, but she did know it was possible to pick certain “things” up. Billy was a werewolf after all. Maybe he had given her something.
At the thought, she began panicking. Her heart raced as she walked to the sink to get a glass of water. It’s not that bad, Kass. Calm down. Don’t…just breathe, she coaxed herself. The thought of woohooing with Billy again made her feel sick and she nearly coughed up her dinner. That was one downside of losing her job. She wouldn’t have a much-needed distraction. Between meeting Mr. Merton and the club debacle and picking her dad up from the airport this afternoon before returning to the club, Kass had little time to think about the long-term impact of the new level of relationship she entered with Billy. And her boss, Ty, unknowingly made things worse when he talked about Billy abandoning his mate.
That’s why he was kicked out? she swallowed hard, coughed, and spit up the water in the sink. In the eyes of the werewolves, Billy had divorced his woman and doomed her to a lonely existence. Kass didn’t know how she felt about that. He did say he had been with twelve women, and obviously this mate… lady… was one of them.
“Oh!” she wailed and smacked the counter with her hand.
He was my first and I was his thirteenth. Lucky number thirteen, huh? Try unluckiest number ever. Kass began pacing in the trailer, grateful that her father was still in his session at the Crystal Solarium until eleven p.m. She didn’t exactly want to explain to him her predicament or why she lost her job. Hey Dad, remember when you asked me if that boyfriend of mine was good for me? Nope. Not at all. In fact, he’s been with twelve other women, Dad, and I just gave him free milk because hey… why the hell not? She felt the tears welling in her eyes.
It was times like these she really needed her best friend. But oh! Ayesha was Billy’s twelfth. That is if he was telling the truth about not being with anyone since her. Kass couldn’t believe how stupid she had been. Giving herself away was supposed to be magical and beautiful and romantic, not done holed up in someone else’s cabin in the woods on their scratchy wool couch. Not done in what felt like sixty seconds. Sure there were parts that were good, but afterward, she felt sticky and sweaty and gross and…
Shame. I felt shame. You’re not supposed to feel shame if it’s good, right? If it’s right, right? With the right person at the right time kind-of thing? Kass didn’t care. She plucked her cell phone from her jacket vest pocket and began dialing only to be met with the “we’re sorry – this number has been disconnected” message less than a minute later. Ayesha! Where are you? Her best friend would know what to do.
Speaking of best friend…
“Don’t you dare!” she said aloud.
But he would know, wouldn’t he? He had been her friend long before he was her boyfriend. They had never been together in the way she was with Billy the other night, but he had been with other women. He would know what to do.
Before she could talk herself out of a terrible idea, Kass dialed. Minutes later she heard his voice. She nearly burst into tears.
“Kass? Are you there? Hello?”
“Yeah, I’m here,” she sniffled.
His Kassiopeia-is-upset radar was on. She almost smiled at the thought.
“Nothing,” she tried to laugh, but it came out in an awkward mumble. “I thought I would check in with you… see how you’re doing.”
“That’s not why you called.”
He knew her well. Too well.
“Oh Gage, I’m so confused. I messed up. I did it… for the first time.”
“What do you mean it?”
She could practically hear his frown. “You know…” she covered the phone and spoke in a hushed tone. “It.”
“Billy… we got back together a few weeks ago. And it wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Not like this, right, Gage? Was your first time magical? Was it special?”
He exhaled heavily. “I got a kid out of it so I guess so… yeah...”
“Not like that, Gage. Oh gawd!” she covered her mouth in horror. “You don’t think I’m pregnant do you? I can’t be pregnant? I can’t be a mom. But maybe I am… maybe that’s why I feel so disgusting. It’s not supposed to feel disgusting right?”
“Did you use protection?”
“Well… yeah… I think… Billy did…” she winced, feeling even more idiotic that she couldn’t remember.
How could she make such a big decision and not be sure they were protected?
“You’re not pregnant.”
“How do you know?”
“You’re not, Kass. Besides, it’s too soon to tell.”
“I don’t know. I just ache all over. Is it supposed to ache? After? I mean… that area?” she felt embarrassed asking.
“Kass… did he hurt you?” Gage sounded almost icy angry.
Yes. But not in the way Gage was thinking.
“No… not like that…um…” she swallowed hard, and swiped at the tears on her face. “I just wasn’t prepared. Prepared for how I’d feel after. It’s supposed to be nice, right? Tell me it’s nice, Gage.”
“Kass… I’m coming. Okay… it sounds like you need me.”
She slid down to the floor by the side of the lower cupboards. “No, Gage, don’t come,” she whispered.
“Kass, I’m… you’re not okay. He hurt you.”
“No he didn’t,” she wailed in protest. “I just…” she sighed. “I wanted to talk to my best friend. Forget I called.”
She hit the ‘end’ button before he could say another word. Well, that was stupid. Calling an ex and complaining about a current boyfriend. How low can you go, Kassiopeia?
Kass went to climb into bed. She didn’t even care that she was fully clothed. A wolf howled in the distance. She froze. Because Billy is a were… does that mean? We’re… I’m stuck? Her eyes widened in sadness and fear. She ran over and locked the door. I can’t be… I’m… this isn’t real… I’m… she clutched at her chest. She pulled out her phone again and dialed, and as soon as the recipient answered, she began rambling about all her symptoms and how freaked out she was.
“Kass, I have a doctor friend… a trusted friend… in the Springs…she could come and give you a check-up and make sure you’re okay. She makes house calls.”
“Even this late at night?”
“But my dad… he’s supposed to be back after eleven.”
“Have you considered telling him?”
“No!” Kass protested. “Absolutely not. He can’t know. He can’t…”
Tears fell from her eyes. She felt like a baby.
“Dr. B… I’m scared…”
“It’s okay, Kass. Breathe in… breathe out… okay, breathe with me. Alright… like that… good...”
Kass closed her eyes and continued breathing shakily at first, and then more slowly and steadily.
“I have to hang up to call my friend. Her name is Dr. Emmaline Rhoen. She’s a good woman. She will help you. You are going to be fine. Just keep breathing. I can call back after I spoke with her and stay on the phone with you until she arrives if you’d like that.”
“Yes,” Kass said, her tone more even. “I’d like that very much.”
Two hours later, Kass was sitting on the cushioned couch in the dining room with her primary care physician’s pale green-skinned friend. She had arrived in less than fifteen minutes after the call. True to her word, Dr. Bachelor’s friend was skilled and kind, making Kass feel better almost instantly. Dr. Emmaline Rhoen was a petite, pale green-skinned woman with a mess of short unruly black hair atop her head. She wore a pretty floor-length purple flowered skirt and layered grey shirts and a periwinkle scarf. She didn’t look much like any doctor Kass had ever seen, but she was a consummate professional. Kass was worried about how to pay for the private home visit, and Dr. Rhoen assured her that the first visit could be discounted.
Dr. Rhoen had sent her cousin to pick up Howard at the Solarium and drive him around town so they could have more privacy. The woman admitted she was a PlantSim. When she had been taking chlorophyll treatments she was known as the prominent Dr. Devereaux, the very doctor Kass and her father had been trying to track down when they arrived in town.However, when she stopped taking treatments in solidarity with her fellow PlantSims who had recently moved to Hidden Springs in the past year, she was subsequently pressured out of her position. It didn’t stop her from practicing medicine and helping those afflicted with EXCES and other supernatural ailments. She had picked the name Rhoen after a mountainous region in Deutchsimland that she backpacked through after medical school.
“So what’s the diagnosis, Doc?” Kass asked, leaning forward. “I know you’ve been trying your best to keep me distracted with your stories, but I need to know.”
“I believe you had a panic attack,” Dr. Rhoen replied. It’s normal after going through an intensely stressful situation, and from what you were telling me, it sounds like you’ve had several.”
“But I’m not pregnant? Or sick? Or a werewolf?” she practically squeaked.
Dr. Rhoen smiled. “I do not believe you are any of the above, Kass. We can’t know for sure about pregnancy for a few more days, but I wouldn’t worry.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes…” Dr. Rhoen said. “I have a colleague at a private lab who will run your tests discreetly. We’ll know more in a few days, but Kass… you need to remember you are a very brave girl. You called your doctor. You did the right thing. You are going to be okay no matter what.”
Kass slumped against the couch. She didn’t feel brave.
“I don’t think there’s any cause for concern,” Dr. Rhoen added. “You simply need to take measures to eliminate stress in your life, starting with less worrisome thoughts. Have you considered taking anti-depressants?”
Kass’s eyes grew wide. Like her mother? Am I turning into her mother?
“Because I think…they might help you…balance out your emotions.”
“That’s the problem, Kass. I don’t think you are. It’s perfectly normal to panic a little every once in awhile when something stressful happens, but I have a feeling that’s not the only time you’re worried, am I right?”
Kass didn’t know how to respond. Worry did consume her thoughts frequently. She figured it was normal to feel that way. She had an active brain.
“Do you have trouble sleeping?”
“Yeah… I do…”
“And your boyfriend? This was your first time?”
“But not your first boyfriend?”
Kass wrinkled her nose. Dr. Rhoen was very perceptive.
“No, but I don’t see what this has to do with anti-depressants.”
“Kass, I can start you on a small dose and see how you respond. See if it helps you to feel calmer. My friend at the lab can write you the prescription. You could go and pick it up tomorrow if you want.”
“I don’t know,” Kass chuckled humorlessly. “I just… don’t see myself as a pill popper.”
“Do you have a family member who is against taking medication?” Dr. Rhoen inquired, and seeing Kass’s surprised look, she continued. “You’d be surprised the number of patients I see that are averse to taking medication they need because a family member or authority figure told them they didn’t need it.”
She reached across the table and laid a hand on Kass’s. “There’s no shame in it. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. In fact, it means you’re strong… strong and brave enough to accept help.”
Kass sighed, leaning her head back against the cold window. “Okay… I guess so… if you really think they will help.”
“Yes, I do,” Dr. Rhoen stood up and began collecting her things. “You’re going to be fine, my dear. Try and get some rest. Drink a little water when your stomach is feeling better in the morning. And take the next few days easy okay. Do you need a prescription for birth control too?”
Kass shook her head in horror. “No… no… I don’t think I want to have sex for a very long time.”
“It might be for the best,” Dr. Rhoen nodded. “It will give you a chance to recover. I’ll have my friend write the prescription for you anyway in case you change your mind, but it could give you a chance to figure some things out on your own terms… and decide when it’s best to try again.”
“Yeah, thanks,” Kass said, shaking the doctor’s hand. “Thanks for coming out.”
“My pleasure, Kass,” Dr. Rhoen said as before turning to leave. “I’d be happy to call Dr. Bachelor and fill her in if you’d like.”
“Yeah… great,” Kass said, tiredly.
Exhausted, she climbed up into her bunk bed after ensuring the door was locked. Dr. Rhoen did help her feel much better. Perhaps the pills would help too. Kass was grateful the doctor hadn’t made her feel like a little kid or call her childish for wigging out over first-time sex. It was embarrassing enough. She still didn’t know what she was going to say to her dad. Pulling her phone from her robe pocket, she dialed his number.
“Kassiopeia, you scared me half to death! I wanted to come straight over when the doctor’s aide came by the gym. Are you okay?”
“Yeah… I’m okay. I just had a panic attack…”
“It’s a long story… you can come home now, Daddy. We can talk in the morning.”
“Okay, sweetie, I’m coming. Right now. I love you.”
Kass felt a tear splash her cheek, this time from genuine contentment. It didn’t matter what was wrong with her or the world. Her dad loved her. That was all that mattered in the moment. And she knew when she told him, if she chose to tell him everything, he would still love her no matter what.
“I love you too, Dad.”
Author Note: Thanks for reading. There are a number of green-skinned individuals in Hidden Springs so I decided it was the perfect way to introduce PlantSims into the society, although I mentioned one in a previous chapter. I hope you enjoyed.
1 – milk and ginger biscuits (yum! I love ginger… especially this time of year)
Since I was feeling energized by my conversation with Rob, I decided to jog home. Exercise would probably help me to feel sleepy too… seeing as I was awake all night. The sun had risen over the valley of Oasis Springs, casting golden light on the stucco houses with orange tile roofs in my community. I could hear the sprinkler systems of the neighborhood moistening the lawns before the temperature rose too high. Even this late in the season, it could still be blisteringly hot. A few birds chirped in harmony as they fluttered over my head and into the rising sun. It was going to be another sweltering day as I could feel the sweat already pouring down my neck and clinging stubbornly to my hairs. I would seriously need that bubble bath when I arrived home.
“Where have you been all night?” my mom asked me in typical motherly fashion as I tiredly climbed the stairs.
What could they possibly be doing up so early? Fully dressed too.
“I went jogging.”
“All night?” my mom asked shrilly.
Nora snickered as she brushed past me on the stairs.
“What’s in your back pocket?” she asked, poking at a suspicious bulge in my athletic shorts.
Needless to say, I didn’t even get to use the new bottle of honeysuckle bubble bath because I dozed off the minute I stepped into the hot water in my parents bathroom. I was glad I remembered to lock the door before I stepped in the corner tub. That’s the last thing I’d want… my mom… or God forbid… my dad to walk in on me in the bathroom.
I’m not sure how long I was out, but the water was cold when I came to, and seeping over the edge of the tub. Great! My lazy gene, inherited most likely from dad, did not like the prospects of mopping up my parents floor. I wrapped myself in a towel, and snagged another towel from the rack to soak up the puddle I caused. I picked up the bubble bath bottle before slipping into my pajamas. I guess I’ll have to use this next time.
I slept until twelve-thirty before my stomach grumbled and nudged me awake. Wandering downstairs into the kitchen, I found Mom and Nora engaged in lively debate. I opened the refrigerator and pulled out the bag of coffee grounds. It was too early to have conversations with complete sentences.
“Mom, please… you gotta let me go.”
“Nora, I don’t think it’s a good idea. You don’t know anything about this guy.”
“But Ma… he’s nice… and he’s cute… and he likes me. Plus he complimented my hair the other day at the coffee house.”
“And those are always the best indicators!”
“I’m eighteen now. You can’t tell me what to do.”
“Yes, but eighteen isn’t twenty-one, and you’re heading to a club to drink.”
“But Ma the drinking age was lowered to eighteen in the SimNation.”
“Not in this household.”
While my mother and sister carried on their conversation, albeit loudly, into the dining room, living room, and eventually upstairs, I pulled a plate of leftover spinach and egg omelette from the refrigerator. My sister, Lee wandered into the room, her eyes closed and her mouth in a perfect pout.
“What’s up, Lee?”
“Nothing,” she sighed. “Just… everything.”
“Tell me about it,” I rolled my eyes, as I pointed at the ceiling where our baby sister was stomping about on the floorboards.
“Darn it! I was hoping to nap on my lunch break.”
“You still have to work this afternoon?”
Lee worked for a local government branch of the Sim National Intelligence Agency. Currently, she was only a desk clerk, fetching bagels and coffee for the higher ups, answering phones, and filing reports. She wanted to be a data analyst of some kind or at least that’s what she told us. I found it hard to picture Lee as a super secret agent, kicking down doors, spiking the champagne of spies, and beating up bad guys in formal wear, but you never know.
“Yes, Elizabeth… some of us actually work for a living,” she replied with punctuated words.
“Mom and Dad haven’t asked me to get a job yet,” I slid around her and poured myself a cup of coffee.
“Ah… did you brew the good stuff?” she sniffed in the air. “Yes…” she smiled pleasantly. “Youdid. Pour me a cup.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
“Seriously, Liz, cut the sarcasm. It won’t help you land a job interview.”
“Who says I’m looking?”
“You should. You can’t live here forever.”
I laughed. “Says the twenty-eight-year-old super spy who drinks out of the milk carton in her parents’ kitchen and lives down the hallway from…” I pointed to myself. “…moi!”
“I do not.”
“Do too. I saw you the other night.”
“Well…” Lee sputtered. “You still should at least check the classifieds or something.”
“Is that all it takes to please you?”
“What can I say? I’m easy to please,” Lee smirked. “A cup of this delicious Mexsimcan coffee that you brew extra strong and you finding a career of some kind.”
I settled at the counter after Lee left the room and ate my breakfast, which was really lunch, given how late it was. My mother came back into the kitchen, dressed in her athletic wear. She was probably planning to attend her pilates class with the other mothers of the neighborhood. I remember laughing when my mom, who resisted the idea of her daughters playing sports, and made fun of people who played doubles tennis at the country club, told me she joined a gym. I thought she was joking. Nope. She was dead serious. Now she worked out with her group every Tuesday like clockwork.
“Lee says you’re looking for a job,” she sat down next to me, the enthusiasm evident in her voice and facial expression.
“Oh she did, did she?” I rolled my eyes. “Word travels fast around here.”
“I think it’s wonderful. You’re so smart, honey.”
“No I’m serious. You did really well in college. And you’ve got so many talents. I know you’ll find your place.”
I just didn’t want to find my place too quickly. I was looking forward to unscheduled days.
“Mom, do you think we could buy a dishwasher?”
“It would save time. I’m surprised you and dad haven’t already.”
“Maybe that’s something you could save for.”
“I’m serious. It would be a good incentive for saving your Simos. And that could be a great contribution to the household.”
“But Ma… isn’t big house expenses like that yours and dad’s arena?”
Mom smiled and kissed my head. “Oh Liz, you’ve gotta grow up someday. I think you found a wonderful first goal.”
I sighed. Great! So I would be the one purchasing a family dishwasher!
I decided to do some research. Plopping down at my computer, I scrolled to find a dishwasher. It couldn’t be more than fifty Simoleons, right? I was shocked to find most dishwashers were thousands of Simos and the cheapest one I could find was thirteen-hundred Simos by some guy named Craig on some online list. I sighed. That would take awhile.
Popping over to my favorite forums, I checked out friends updates and perused the latest discussion questions. I posted a question of my own about a kids book I was thinking of writing. One involving bubbles of some kind. I also scrolled to find job postings in the area.
The coffee house in Newcrest was hiring a part-time barista. I wrinkled my nose. Not exactly a short train ride. When I saw the work hours starting at five a.m., I promptly scratched the choice off my list.
All the fast food places in town were hiring. When are they not? I didn’t particularly like the idea of smelling like burger grease and fried foods all the time. Perhaps I gained a bit of my mother’s snobbish trait.
The art museum was looking for a manual laborer to help with their renovations, but I wasn’t exactly qualified. When had I ever swung a hammer?
None of the mall stores were hiring. Maybe that’s for the best. I wasn’t exactly up-to-date on the latest fashion trends.
Finally, I saw an ad for a babysitter. Responsible. Adult. Likes kids. Willing to work odd hours, possibly overnights.Clean. I had to laugh at the last requirement. Of course, I was clean. I bathed every day. It looked like I fit the bill. I called the number and reached a woman by the name of Lizette Lopez. She told me to come to the Affluista Manor in Acquisition Butte on Thursday night at eight p.m. I hung up the phone. Twenty-five Simos an hour seemed reasonable to me. And with a house named Affluista Manor, I figured Ms. Lopez would probably tip well.
Mom screeched up the stairs at me. I left a plate in the kitchen. Opps! For forgetting, my punishment was to wash all the dirty dishes in the house. As I scrubbed the plate with soap and warm water, I thought, ‘Here’s to washing dishes by hand for a century.’ I’d never be able to afford a dishwasher.
“You know if you picked up after yourself in the first place, I wouldn’t have to yell at you,” Mom said, interrupting my thoughts.
“Yeah yeah,” I grumbled.
“Thanks honey,” she said in a sweet voice.
“You’re welcome,” I grunted.
“I’m heading to my Pilates class. Oh by the way, I told your sister Nora she could go to the club tonight to meet this Kevin… or is it Kelvin? Or Calvin?” my mother shook her head.
“I’m sure Nora will be thrilled,” I replied, scrubbing the stubborn spot of a plate with dried steak sauce.
“…doesn’t matter...” my mother continued. “…I told her she could go if you went with her.”
My mother came to kiss my head before flouncing into the dining room. “Love you.”
I’m pretty sure my jaw was on the floor. Mom was letting Nora go. But that wasn’t the worst of it. I had to chaperone. I think I’d rather do dishes for a month.
Author Note: Thanks for reading! By the way, I have a mod that allows adults to have the same part-time jobs as teenagers in TS4.
Shark glanced over his shoulder as he finished wiping down the countertop of the upstairs bar. A manager did a little bit of everything, he learned in his short time working at the Sanguine Sanctuary, especially cleaning up messes. He smiled. His girlfriend liked to call him ‘Boss.’ It was a bit strange seeing as she was the more dominant one in the relationship, but he appreciated it. He knew she respected him, something he couldn’t say about all his previous girlfriends. Not that he remembered much in that department. He was pretty stoned out of his mind for about a year, so the sex and ladies were a bit fuzzy for him.
As Dianna approached, he knew he would never need to worry about that again. She was his angel and for some unknown reason, she loved him. He couldn’t imagine going back to the time where he did unspeakable things, and couldn’t recall his own name. Rehab was a rebirth for him. Sure, he still dabbled in illegal activities from time to time, but never again would he do drugs or sell drugs, conceal weapons shipments, or push girls or guys on clients of all ages, shapes, and sizes. In fact, the very thought disgusted him.
Five years ago, if anyone had told him he would be a successful night club manager with a beautiful girlfriend, a steady paycheck, and a modestly happy life, Shark probably would’ve scoffed and called the person a moron. Now he really did have a peace that he never had before. That didn’t mean he didn’t still cause trouble, but mostly for the local gangs that roughed up women in town. On their off hours, Dianna and Shark put together care packages for the sex workers because even a beautiful rich town like Hidden Springs had a seedy element. It was hard to make it on the average paycheck in a resort town, and sometimes women liked to pick up a little extra work now and again to make ends meet. That’s why Shark was appreciative that his boss paid everyone enough that they could afford to live a normal life, free from taint. Dianna always added little niceties to the care packages like tampons and shampoo and chocolates. Every woman needed chocolate every now and again, she would say.
While Dianna would approach the workers, Shark would set ‘traps’ for the pimps and johns, attempting to blackmail the men, usually men, into reason and scaring them straight. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. It wasn’t an exact science, and if anyone knew how hard it was to walk away from a pile of Simos, he did, even if it meant it was coming from a prostitute on her backside. Yet Shark couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else having to do what he previously made people do. That’s why the vigilantism. In a way, it was his penance.
So when his dad showed up last night after one year, eleven months, and thirteen days and said he was there to help him, Shark was in shock. Dennis was supposed to be dead. He died in prison. The coroner had told him suicide. Frankly, Shark had never believed it. His father hanging himself in a cell didn’t seem right. Dennis had even left a note saying he thought this was the only way he could ensure his family’s safety. Dennis said he wanted to make amends, and be the father he always should have been. Shark couldn’t deal. Instead, he angrily threw Dennis Racket out of his club. It was then he discovered Dennis used Kass’s name to get in. Apparently, Kass had vouched for the man… Deon Merton… the name his father was going by now. Kass. His newest hire.
When he had confronted her last night, he was pissed. Apparently, she was the girlfriend of Billy Caspian, a sup who had been banned from the Sanctuary. The man was Verbannte, an exile, and for good reason. Shark had done his homework. He had run from his chosen life mate. He not only ran from her, he also ruined her, because she could never be with another man. And to add insult to injury, the man was a player. He probably had a woman in every town he had ever stepped foot in. Now Shark was no saint but he understood the rules of the pack dictated a man like Billy Caspian be exiled. Then the cretin had the nerve to try and sneak his girlfriend into an advantageous position in the club, most likely as a spy. Yet now he knew the truth. Billy was aiding his father in a reunion… a reunion Shark explicitly did not want.
“I’m surprised you showed your face again,” he remarked coolly as she approached.
“Ty, I think there’s been some kind of mistake,” she replied. “It’s true I am Billy’s girlfriend. And yes, Deon requested I put him on the guest list, and I did because he said he had to see you. You’re his son, aren’t you?”
“That is none of your business,” Shark huffed. “And you know the rules, Kass? No personal favors or guests. It’s for the protection of our patrons.”
“I understand. That’s why I came to tender my resignation,” she replied.
Shark arched a brow and motioned for them to sit. It was still an hour before opening so there weren’t many people in the club, save a few bartenders, the coat check lady, and his servers. However, he was surprised by his newest employee’s reaction. He expected tears and protests and denials when he threatened to fire her last night. Instead, she had been calm and dignified and said she would gather her things and would be back the following day for her paycheck to give him time to think.
“Look Mr. Bordeaux,” she began. “I understand that I jeopardized our high-paying clients who prefer their privacy. I know that this is a supernatural only club and I know that you only hired me because I talked my way into a job, but I also know what it’s like to be separated from family for years without contact. I did not mean to disrespect you. I just know the pain of not knowing my dad because I refused to see him. From what I know about your dad, he seems like an okay guy, and he just wanted a moment with you.”
“What? You had a breakfast with him and now you know him?” Shark snipped.
He still felt the pain of being abandoned at the rehabilitation center in Appaloosa Plains, a place where he didn’t know anyone. He felt the pain of exile from his family, as terrible as most of them were. Not even his kid sister had come to see him. And to make matters worse, he had to hear about his father’s alleged escape from prison and death from two plainclothes officers six days after the incident. And he wasn’t even allowed to attend the funeral.
“Yes, I know about the breakfast at the Redwood Heights Lodge,” he added. “I found out everything I could about his moves since our encounter yesterday.”
“Did you know he’s sorry? He’s more sorry than he’s ever been in his whole life,” Kass said. “He told me that. I know I have no right to barge into family affairs…”
“You’re right. You don’t,” Shark said bitterly. “Your dad didn’t go to jail for murdering his father.”
Kass gasped, and bit her lower lip. Shark knew he caught her by surprise. She probably didn’t realize whose company she had been entertaining. He was almost refreshed by her naivete. In her time under his employ, she had been an excellent bartender, good with drinks and generous with the advice, and kind to every person who walked through the door, whether they were a vampire, a werewolf, or a PlantSim. She had even been kind to his undeserving father. Truth was, he didn’t really care that Max was dead. The man was a master at manipulating. His mother had been too. And yet Dennis going to jail and supposedly killing himself was a little too much for the fragile boy in rehab to handle. Now that he was his own man, he didn’t need his father swooping in and ruining things for him.
“Look Kass… I know your heart is in the right place. I know he’s great at getting what he wants. It’s not your fault, but I can’t have you breaking the rules here… even if it’s out of some misplaced concern for my family,” Shark continued. “And I definitely can’t have it getting around who you’re with…half the weres in the tribe want to kill him and the other half want to maim him for what he did to his mate.” He shrugged. “It was before my time, but rules are rules. I know it doesn’t seem fair…”
“No, it doesn’t,” she said quietly, shaking her head as she dropped her hands into her lap. “But I understand you have a business to run…” she offered a forced smile. “I don’t want anyone to be hurt because of my actions. Thank you for this opportunity.”
“You’re welcome, Kass,” Shark stood up and shook her hand, almost feeling bad he had to let her go.
She was an asset to his team, even if she wasn’t fully supernatural.
“I’d be happy to write you a reference,” he added kindly.
“You don’t have to do that.”
“I want to. You’re a good worker. I’ll leave out the part about last night in my recommendation,” he winked.
“No man is an Island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.”
The man dressed in black with a singular red rose pinned to his lapel tapped the leather-bound book pressed between his hands. No man is an island? He read the words a hundred times, perhaps a thousand times, and yet each time, he felt both peace and pain. Peace – because he knew he had been given a second chance at life, a chance he did not deserve, a chance a thousand better men deserved, no, ten thousand better men. Pain – because of the ironic twist of life, blackmailed by his father, back-stabbed by his wife, separated from his children… all of them, and rejected by the woman he loved. She was living a lie, he smiled wryly, but he would’ve been living a lie with her if he ever thought she would choose his heart over her career. And the most ironic thing about it – he lived on an island.
“Watch your head, sir,” the pilot warned him, pointing to the whirring blades overhead.
As Dennis Racket, a.k.a. Deon Merton, stepped from the helicopter onto the freshly fallen snow, he mused over the romance of a man past his prime living alone. He never needed to worry about keeping a spouse awake when he poured over his books late at night by the light of an oil lamp. He never needed to concern himself with his late hours at his place of work because no one would be waiting up for him when he arrived home. His accommodations were sparse, something his wife would’ve hated. No, he chuckled to himself, she would’ve absolutely despised the tiny one-room cabin in the woods with the only way on or off the island was by boat, and if Azure Lake was frozen, by helicopter.
“Thanks Arnard,” he lifted a gloved hand to wave goodbye as he watched the helicopter lift from the helipad.
Pulling his red coat lapel up around his neck, he exhaled heavily, seeing his breath impale the night. He sniffed the air. Wood smoke. He turned in the direction of his cabin. Perhaps someone was waiting up for him after all.
He embarked on the short jaunt over the ridge, through the trees. Thanks to the full moon, Dennis didn’t need to rely on his superior eyesight, although he was used to the path of darkness. Only a few years before did he escape a penitentiary through the sewer, relying on nothing but touch to find his way. He was nothing short of pro, a fact that was useful in jailbreaks.
Once outside the prison, he was met by someone unexpected… his older brother, Dudley. The man was a state police officer, and he surely could’ve put his kid brother back behind bars, especially given the family estrangement.
“I know what you did,” Dudley said, his voice low and too even to deduce emotion.
Dennis was not scared easily. He waited. And then Dudley did something unexpected. He unlocked the handcuffs, and patted him on the back.
“You smell like hell, Denny…and I know you protected Ma.”
Dudley gave Dennis a package with a change of clothes, some fresh supplies, and a book… by Merton Thomsim, a Jacoban monk, poet, and mystic. It was only fitting he picked the name from the author of the last gift the woman he loved gave him. She inscribed the inside page to him and promised she would never forget him. For that, he practically memorized the book.
“Your woman really loves you. She did a hell of a lot convincing to get me to come here,” Dudley admitted, taking off his signature cowboy hat and wiping his brow.
Dennis was grateful, but…
“If she loved me, she’d be coming with...”
Dudley opened his mouth to speak and Dennis waved him off. “She’s got her own priorities and a kid…” he blinked. “…two kids to think about.”
He didn’t add ‘my kid.’
“I know,” Dudley said, quietly. “Can’t have a babe on the run. It’s why I… you know…” he placed his hat back on his head and gave a lopsided smile. “…all those years ago…” he cleared his throat.
Dennis knew the reference.
“…it’s a dangerous life… police detective an’ all… ‘specially when your family’s the mob.” He patted Dennis’ pocket and slipped him some Simos. “‘Sides, she’s a good girl. Skeet and…well…”
Dennis understood why his brother didn’t mention the name of the woman he loved. He understood very well.
“… he done raised her right. And Bill… will..er…raise your boy right…if he gets his head outta his ole stinky behind.”
Dennis resisted the urge to laugh. He hoped so. For Rachel’s sake.
“I’ll look in on ’em from time to time if yer like,” Dudley offered.
“I’d appreciate that,” Dennis smiled. More than you know.
More than you know. Dennis puffed out another beat of visible air as he reached the ridge. His brother had told him to scoot before he changed his mind. Dennis knew it was a bluff, but since the man was a state police detective, and he could get fired or worse for aiding and abetting a fugitive, he decided to leave before he’d cause his big bro any more trouble. He never once looked back. He would always be grateful. He owed his freedom to Dudley… the ironic family black sheep… and Rachel.
Dennis squinted his eyes. Wood smoke was billowing from his watch tower. Someone had set a fire, probably to keep warm on the chilly night. The temperature was nearing the teens. Probably some tourists who lost there way. It wasn’t the first time someone had used his cabin. He didn’t particularly mind. It was nice to get company every once in awhile. Still, he patted the standard issue weapon in his sidearm. He couldn’t be too careful.
His new identity aside, Dennis had never been one for disguises. He could be recognized by the wrong people if he weren’t careful. He was still a wanted man. That was why the odds of his landing protective detail for the queen herself was one in a billion. But Cat owed him a favor. He smiled slyly as he maneuvered through the trees to get a better view of the docks. It was strange that her royal highness allowed him to call her Cat, but he knew her a century ago, when the affectionate nickname was more appropriate. Not even her latest husband called her Cat.
A boat.So they did come by sea? He knelt down at the edge of the hillside, following the trail that was barely visible since the snow hadn’t stopped falling for the last few hours. Definitely a they. Two people, he suspected as he slid down the hill and knelt to touch a boot print. A woman? he frowned and glanced forward a few steps. And a wounded man. Well… Dennis stood and brushed the snow from his gloved hands. He wants her to think he’s wounded. The gait was hesitant and dragged a little too heavily as if the man was trying too hard to appear slow. Probably to garner sympathy.
A quick gaunt over to the dock confirmed his suspicions. The boat, with a gaudy monstrosity of a logo on the side, and the vehicle was tied with an unusual knot, convinced him that he had a friend awaiting him in the cabin. He only knew one person who used this kind of loop and there was only one guy this person would go to for a boat – James Brand – and like his namesake, the latter enjoyed marking his properties and shipments and just about everything with a Cyrillic ‘b.’
Dennis shook his head and clucked his tongue. Still doing business with the Brand? His friend was predictable. He glanced up at the cabin. A friend who wasn’t alone and most likely entertaining. Dennis smirked. Should I interrupt their fun? He decided first to use the facilities. A hot shower after a long week of service detail might help him relax. Plus, it would give the man and his ‘catch of the month’ a chance to finish up in the main house.
As he rounded the curve, Dennis noticed the lights in the outhouse were on. In the winter that wasn’t unusual given he typically kept the power on continuously to the little hut. There was nothing he hated worse than a freezing bathroom floor. Even so, out of politeness for a friend and his guest, he decided to knock. He rapped on the door three times with his gloved knuckles.
“Yes? Is that you, Billy?” a sweet young voice called out to him.
There were many times he wished he could still be back in the Racket mansion, not for the drama and the violence and the blackmail and mayhem, but for the little things. Like the sound of her voice in the morning when she was finishing her routine in the bathroom. He liked to knock on the door and check in on her. He would just be getting home from an overnight shift, usually involving balancing books or checking weapons shipments or arranging for someone to be put in the hospital. And she would be just getting ready to leave for work, her important job at City Hall, keeping the people of Twinbrook safe with her policies to clean up the streets.
Oh how he loved her naivete and her optimism! She was so young… too young for his brother, Bill, actually, about half his age. And even if Dennis was a little closer in age, she would never look twice at him. She still had yet to learn the irony of getting mixed up with the likes of the Racket family, and he prayed she never would know the full depth of consequences. She had such big dreams and high hopes and lofty aspirations. She would go far… if she could only get out quick enough… and without any scars… which was nearly impossible with the Rackets. The only way out was in a body bag. He learned that the hard way. He died so he could escape prison. The only ones who knew the truth were Dudley and… well…
She would open the door, usually dressed in a nightgown, usually squeezing the water out of her hair with a towel or applying her makeup. She would offer him a smile, and ask if he needed the room. Most days, he would say ‘yes’ just to cover up the fact that he only knocked to see her smile. He wished his own wife would smile at him like that. Never before in his life did he want something so badly, and yet need her to stay so very far away in order to not get hurt. He doubted Silver would even move when he climbed into bed beside her, and if she did, it would be to grunt and complain about his cold toes or something, interrupting her beauty sleep. His wife was a former model. She did need her… rest.
Dennis could count the number of days he knocked on her door as he passed by the bathroom. He could count the number of days he fantasized about knocking on his current bathroom door, wishing he could see her face again, her lovely smile, the innocence in her liquid brown eyes. It would never be there again and he knew it. Every year spent with the Rackets corrupted her, even more, and he could kick himself because that corruption was what caused her to be unfaithful. He had no right to take his brother’s wife, especially while his own was in rehab and vulnerable, and yet he felt so desperate to be loved, he overrode his logic and his chivalry and choose to cave to his instincts. And he would forever bare the consequences. Rachel certainly had.
Dennis opened the door slowly. The screeching young girl startled Dennis Racket and he took a step back. Her red hair whipped about as she backed into the wall, her eyes filled with fear. She couldn’t have been much younger than his daughter. He realized his grimace at her loud vocals probably didn’t help his harmless dad impression.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you,” he spoke.
“Who…who…who are you?” she stammered. “And what are you doing in here? My boyfriend is…” she pointed a shaky hand to the doorway. “…just out there. He probably… heard me scream. And… I…” she hiked her chin in the air. “…know a martial art or two… so I could hurt you if you try anything.”
“Don’t worry,” Dennis shook his head and lifted his hands in mock surrender.
Her threat amused him.
“I’m not here to rob or hurt you. I’m Deon…Deon Merton…” he introduced himself, offering a hand. “I own this here…outhouse and the watch tower back there.”
He still was unaccustomed to hearing the name he had chosen for himself, but he had to say something to calm the girl down.
“…and you are?”
“What are you doing here?” she said, evading his question. “And your eyes… they are…” her eyes widened. “…glowing.”
“Really?” he rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. “Must be a trick of the light.”
“Are you Billy’s friend?” she asked, tilting her head as if she didn’t quite believe him.
He stepped into the doorway, and motioned for her to pass him. “In a way.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? And you didn’t answer my question…” she stared at him. “Are you actually the… owner… of this establishment?” she planted her feet shoulder-width apart and placed her hands on her hips.
He realized he was only confusing her. “Yes, I am Billy’s friend.”
As if right on cue, Billy Caspian appeared outside the hut. The young man rushed through the door and placed a protective arm around her.
“Red, are you okay?”
“Yeah…um…” she eased off the wall. “This is your friend? Deon?”
“Yeah, Deon is my friend…” he glanced at Dennis and arched a brow, before continuing. “Kass, why don’t you go and warm up by the fire? Deon and I will be up to the main house in a few minutes.”
The girl called Kass hesitated, but once Billy gave her a patronizing kiss on the forehead, she sighed and slipped out into the darkness, making a comment about them letting all the cold air in.
“She’s pretty,” Dennis shrugged.
“Don’t get any ideas, Deon,” Billy narrowed his eyes. “I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow.”
“If you stopped bringing your lovescapades here, then I wouldn’t keep surprising you,” Dennis walked to the mirror and opened the cabinet, retrieving his eye drops.
“You know if you were true to yourself, you wouldn’t have to use those,” Billy folded his arms and leaned against the doorway.
Dennis plopped a few drops in each eye, blinked a few times, and grabbed a paper towel to dab the excess moisture. “That’s rich coming from you,” he snorted. “Like you’re honest about your true self.”
Billy shrugged. “She knows.”
“About the werewolfism?”
“About the vampire part too?”
“Ah… yes… and you’ll tell her?”
Billy exhaled sharply, and puffed a stray piece of hair from his eyes. “I don’t see how it’s any of your business what I do and don’t tell her.”
“It’s not,” Dennis said, closing the mirror and blinking a few times, seeing his eyes return to normal. “I figured you might want to tell her eventually. Just friendly advice.”
“The last woman I told everything dumped me, remember? She couldn’t handle the truth,” Billy replied, his voice agitated and defensive. “And why am I taking advice from you, old man? You haven’t been with a woman since…”
Dennis turned, leaning against the sink, sending a warning glare in Billy’s direction. “I’d watch your tone. I’m still your…”
“Yeah, my long last whatever who just so happens to be cramping my style,” Billy spit out sarcastically.
“You weren’t out here with her. How long has she been gone?”
“I dunno. I fell asleep.”
“Exactly, and…” Dennis took a step forward and ran a finger down the glass of the shower door. “By the looks of it, she was out here for awhile before I interrupted her.”
“So?” Billy sniffed.
“So… maybe I’m not…” he used air quotes. “…’cramping your style‘ if she was hiding from you.”
“She wasn’t hiding from me!” Billy shoved off the hut door, dropping his arms to his side as he balled his hands into fists. “Kass is… she’s good for me. I like her a lot.”
“But are you good for her?” Dennis said, knowing the answer.
Racket men were never good for women.
“She’s fine, Deon…” Billy grunted. “She chose to be with me. And I haven’t been with anyone since… well… that hook-up in Califorsimia… which meant nothing,” he kicked at a loose floorboard. “‘Sides… Kass loves me.”
“Then why was she crying?” Dennis sighed.
He knew the look too well. The woman who tried to cover up her tears. His mother. Silver. Rachel. Even Billy’s mother at one time. Racket men didn’t know how to be good, and that’s why their women ended up shredded. Dennis wished he had words of wisdom he could impart. He hoped his sons would learn from his mistakes. They could be better than the previous generations. Dennis and his brothers may be lost causes, but Billy? Shark? Even little Ernest? Maybe not so much. And the hitch in Billy’s voice when he said his latest girlfriend loved him indicated he wasn’t fully certain about it. Dennis stepped forward and laid a hand on Billy’s shoulder.
“Maybe I’m not the best person to give you advice, but that girl was crying. You upset her somehow, and if you like her as you say you do, you should make things right with her… starting by being honest with her about who you are. No man is an island… you need to open up if you expect to keep her. Does she even know your real name?”
Dennis figured he already knew the answer as the girl had called out for Billy.
“No,” Billy shook his head, shoving his hands in his pockets as he walked out the door in a frustrated huff. ” I’ll see you at the house.”
“William?” Dennis called out, hoping the boy would return.
“I don’t think she can handle the real me,” was the last thing he heard Billy say.
Dennis sighed. The special ones can. He watched his son stomp up the steps to the watch tower as he, himself, left the outhouse. Turning his face fully into the view of the moon, Dennis closed his eyes.
The special ones can help you return to light.
Author Note: Thanks for reading. Oh yeah! For those of you familiar with generation 1 of the Colt Family Traitacy, you recognized the bomb I just dropped. For the record, I always planned to have Billy Caspian not be exactly who he says he is, and I always planned for him to have some connection to a criminal family. It just worked out perfectly to interweave him into Dennis’ family. You’ll learn more in the future, and also more about Dennis’ “surprise” supernatural state. FYI, Merton Thomasin is actually my Simworld version of Thomas Merton, the Catholic monk. Hope you enjoyed.
Author Note: The following chapter is NSFW. As always, I have attempted to remain tasteful with my pictures.
Two Weeks Earlier…
Forty minutes later, they were sailing atop Azure Lake. Billy called a friend of a friend who had a small fishing boat they could borrow. He had been right. The night temperatures were frigid and Kass resisted the urge to rub her arms for warmth because she didn’t want to acknowledge she was cold. Despite the coolness of the mid winter evening, the area was quite pretty. The last faint blush of rose evaporated from the sky and the world descended into a mist of blue.
At least Billy had a hood, Kass observed, brushing fat snowflakes from her hair and then shoving her nearly numb hands into her pockets, despite her gloves. He never asked her any more questions about the phone call, and she figured he had his own mother issues. He never talked about her… or why he had been evicted from his werewolf pack. It was a touchy subject for him. Just like he won’t tell me about the nightclub, she grumbled internally. Why is it such an issue? she fought with herself. She wanted the truth. She hated the idea of him keeping something from her, but then again, she wasn’t always one hundred percent honest with him either. Why can’t I let it go?
Billy interrupted her thoughts as he continued steering. He could’ve been on crew, she mused, staring at his ever-toned arms, barely concealed by his brown hoodie.
“Hmm?” she wrinkled her nose, watching the air expelled from her mouth with fascination.
There was something beautiful about the cold. The snow had this magic allure, as if all the problems of the world were blanketed in a serene world of white. The harsh edges of buildings softened beneath a covering of snow. The stately evergreens somehow became more pristine in their powder white dusting. She could think here in the silence of winter. She could breathe here without the sweltering heat of the desert, deep within the mountains. The water caught the reflection of her freckled face, every feature surprisingly visible in the the full silver moonlight. She wondered how things got to be the way they did, and why she couldn’t cry even a single drop.
“Stubborn. Your mom’s being stubborn and so are you.”
“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” Kass rolled her eyes. “How did you know it was my mom?”
“Because there’s only two things I’ve seen you get really worked up over. Us and your mother,” he explained. “We don’t have to talk about it,” he shrugged, and scratched his neck.
Kass grimaced. This was the third time she had seen him scratch at his neck, and not a typical scratch, but a draw-blood-kind-of scratch because he appeared to be having a reaction to something. She didn’t know what.
“Are you okay?” she asked, worriedly, leaning and loosening his scarf.
“Yeah, why?” he grunted, brushing her hand away as he twitched.
“We can go back,” she sighed, laying her hands on her exposed ears “I just needed to get out and think, but I didn’t want to be alone and…” she frowned as she was interrupted by a guttural growl. “What is it?” she whispered.
“Wolves!” he breathed, almost excitedly as he practically pawed at the bottom of the boat.
“Wolves?” she repeated.
She could hear the sounds of howling in the distance.
“It is… the Schwester Mond…” he said, throwing his head back and fully facing the light, his eyes widening.
Kass puzzled, trying to recall what she could of Deutchsim. “Mond… the moon? The Schwester Mond? The sister moon?” It sounded odd as it left her throat.
“Erde und Mond,” he said, his eyes meeting hers, and she could almost feel a burning sensation rip through her body. “Earth and Moon,” he added.
Closing her eyes from the sudden shock of heat to her system, Kass touched her face. Her cheeks still felt cool to the touch. What is this? she wrinkled her nose. The increase in wolf cries and howls sent chills through her spine. Whoever heard of the earth and moon mating?
“It is…” Billy leaned forward and took her hand, resting it against his heart. “The bonding call.”
“Billy…what? Are you serious?”
He was sweating, his hair hanging limply, damp against his forehead. She retracted her hand and stared as he wiped his forehead and loosened his scarf.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“For what?” she asked.
His lips were on her own almost instantly. The passion pulsated from his flesh into her own, and she felt both dizzy and delighted at the same time. She could feel an energy sparking in his skin as he touched her face, exposing her skin as he pulled down on the turtleneck and grazed his teeth against her neck. She wasn’t sure what was happening, but she had never felt more alive… and yet so confused.
“Billy?” she murmured his name.
“What?” he snapped, harshly, yanking back as quickly as he pushed into her.
She frowned, sliding further back in her seat. “What did I say?”
“Damn…” he wrung his hands. “I’m sorry.” His whole body was shaking. “It’s this night. It’s a full moon.”
“It brings out… thebeast?” she inquired innocently.
“Hell… Kass, I didn’t want it to be like this”
“Us out here…me like this…” he threw his hands in the air.
She hesitated, and then reached for his hands. “This is our first full moon together.”
“Yeah,” he snipped. “Um…” he hung his head. “I’m sorry. It will get worse, Kass. If we don’t get to shore. I don’t know if I could control myself… and I wouldn’t forgive…” his eyes flickered with an almost glowing golden light trapped behind a fog as he jerked his hands away. “…if I hurt you.”
Her heart caught in her throat. She had never felt in danger with Billy, but now that they were both trapped in a little wooden boat all alone on the frigid waters of Azure Lake, surrounded by the sounds of other weres crying out to the moon, and no one else knew where they were, she felt a little uneasy. Billy reached for the motor, but it had sputtered to a complete stop. He pulled the string a few times, but nothing came except a faint whirring noise. Uh oh! she gripped the sides of the boat, trying to avoid the panicked sensation rising in her chest.
“Damnit!” Billy cursed and hit the side with his closed fist.
The boat teetered.
“Well,” Kass chuckled weakly. “That’s what the emergency oars are for, right?”
“Yeah,” he growled. “Except we only have one.”
“Only one?” Kass sighed.
This night wasn’t turning out the way she expected. Billy plunged the oar into the icy waters and began paddling as best as he could in a lopsided fashion.
“There’s an island near here…” he said, pushing even harder through the water, almost with more speed than the motor. “..île des prés…”
“That’s a pretty name,” Kass exhaled sharply, trying to relax.
“…Meadow Island,” he explained. “A buddy of mine… he…has a place. We can crash there. The fire tower.”
“Won’t he be there?”
“He’s out tonight.”
“Out? Of a fire tower? Isn’t it important for someone to be… say… watching for fires?”
“He has another job,” Billy replied, looking out over the water. “It takes priority.”
Kass enfolded her arms over her chest. “And how do you know he’ll be gone… or that he won’t mind?”
“Trust me…” Billy replied gruffly, flipping his hair out of his eyes. “It’ll be fine.”
Kass closed her mouth, finding the whole thing suspiciously convenient, but decided she shouldn’t ask any more questions. Billy was a man of many secrets. Perhaps this man…buddy… friend…of his also liked his privacy and so Billy couldn’t say more. She was tired so it was probably best not to worry. Billy was looking exhausted himself, worn out from the impending… well… whatever was coming… he had told her once that the full moon made him sick. She didn’t fully understand it, but she accepted it. How could I have been so stupid? To make him take me out here tonight when it’s a full moon? All because I’m upset about my Mamma! They neared the shore, and Kass offered to paddle, but he refused to give up the oar. He said they were almost there and he didn’t want her to strain her muscles. As they got closer, the water almost seemed to thicken. She hopped out once the edge of the boat tapped the snow-covered rocky beach, and helped Billy haul the boat in to a safe spot where he tied the stern to a post. Kass hoped the lake wouldn’t freeze tonight. Then they would be stuck… short of… well… she wasn’t sure. She didn’t really know the area, and she had never heard of this island before.
“Thanks,” Billy said, sounding almost like his normal self. “Come here.”
He pulled her into himself and kissed her, this time more delicately than before.
“Hey,” he lifted her chin. “It’s not your fault. You needed to get out.”
“I know,” she dropped her arms to her side, feeling defeated. “Still… I’m sorry.”
“We should get inside,” Billy nodded toward a tiny log cabin, trimmed in icicles, atop a platform in the distance.
“Yeah it would be good to get out of these wet boots,” she remarked, turning to jog toward the watch tower. “Race you there,” she grinned.
Shockingly, Kass kept up with Billy. He even lagged behind a few steps. At first, she thought he was letting her win, but then she glanced at him over her shoulder and realized he was wheezing a bit. Maybe the moon really did make him sick. She had done a bit of research about werewolves, but hadn’t come across much except folklore and fairy tales. One site claimed weres suffered from something called mondkrankheit…the moon sickness, so it didn’t sound so far-fetched tonight when Billy started acting strange. She didn’t find much else about the condition, other than it was similar to a high stress reaction with night sweats and chattering teeth and possibly more agitated behavior. Kass frowned, as she turned and continued running backward across the snow, slowing her pace.
“Are you okay?”
“I’ll be fine, Kass… let’s just get inside where it’s warmer.”
Kass motioned for Billy to walk up the steps first. After all, this was his friend’s cabin. She was grateful the steps were moderately stable, despite their snow covering. She gripped the handrails in case Billy would stumble back on her. He seemed to be moving extra slow, and he was wobbling a little, almost as if he were dizzy.
The porch was lit up with a single wire-framed light. A life preserver hung next to the door. Billy had stopped, seeming to stare off into the distance. Kass peered through the frost-covered windows to ascertain if someone was home, but she didn’t see a single person. Billy found a spare key hidden in a loose rock in the foundation. It felt strange, almost as if they were breaking into someone’s home but Billy assured her his friend wouldn’t care.
They wandered inside. The room was sparsely furnished, a small grey couch in the center of the room facing a stovepipe fireplace, a rolltop desk in the corner, a two-person wooden table in the other corner, a twin bed with a plain green blanket lofted in the other corner, and a small kitchenette with old-fashioned lanterns and a flickering overhead light.
“I’ll light a fire,” Billy remarked, rubbing his hands together and blowing on them.
“Should’ve worn gloves,” she teased lightly, patting him on the back.
Her comment was met with a grunt. Kass decided to explore the kitchen. Her stomach was growling as they didn’t have dinner. She figured whatever they ate she could replace when they got back to the mainland.
“Bingo!” she grinned after opening the refrigerator. “Your friend’s got soup.”
“Soup?” Billy rolled his eyes, his own stomach making gurgling sounds. “I was hoping for some meat.”
“Chicken noodle?” Kass tried to smile brightly as she held up the cans next to her face. Glancing around, she furrowed her brow. “Come to think of it… does your friend have a stove? Or a microwave?”
Billy stood up from the newly lit fireplace after checking to be certain the flue was open. He perused the cupboards.
“Just this coffee maker,” he replied, playing with the buttons.
The wind picked up outside, carrying an eerie sound around the edges of the cabin. Kass shivered and rubbed her arms.
“Is there an iron kettle somewhere?” she joked.
Billy reached beneath the sink finding what she needed. “I’ll hook it up over the fire,” he offered.
“That’ll work,” she said, rummaging through the drawers again and walking over to the desk. “Hey I found some crackers too. Your friend must eat like a bird.”
“He doesn’t stay here much,” Billy shrugged, rigging the pot above the flames and pouring in the cans he opened with his pocket knife. “I found unopened packages of hot chocolate in the kindling basket.”
“Your friend would use powdered chocolate for kindling?”
“Hey, when you’re desperate…”
“Well, we’re not…” she snatched the packages from him. “We could heat water in the coffee pot as long as the lines aren’t frozen.”
Billy turned the faucet handles, and after a shudder and groan, cold water poured out into the basin. “Not frozen.”
“Great!” she said, trying to be optimistic, sticking the coffee pot underneath the sink tap.
Within moments, the water had boiled. Kass removed the pot from the machine and poured the steaming liquid into two mugs with the already dispensed chocolate powder. They drank their beverage in silence while watching the fire crackle, awaiting the soup to be done.
“Are you feeling any better?” Kass asked, when they relocated to the table with their bowls.
“Maybe,” he said. “I might feel better if you were closer.”
“How much closer can I get?” she wrinkled her nose. “I’m inches from you.”
“That’s too far,” he grinned, moving his boot and hitting her sock. “Opps… sorry…” he winced. “Probably didn’t need that on top of being marooned on this island tonight with me.”
She grimaced, lifting her newly smooshed toes from under the table. “I could think of way worse people to be with.”
“Thanks… I think…” he sighed, wiping his forehead.
“Are you still feeling warm?” she asked, leaning across and laying her hand across his forehead.
“How can you tell? You’re still wearing gloves.”
“I am. My fingers are still cold.”
He tugged at her one white glove and reached for her fingers, flinching at the sudden change in temperature. “As hell.”
Kass laughed. “I was going to say ice, but okay…” she blew on her fingertips, and touched his forehead.
Billy felt unnaturally warm.
“I think you might be running a temperature.”
“Nah… it’s the wolf in me. He’s trying to equalize.”
Kass puzzled. Billy set his spoon down.
“Wolves… dogs… have higher temps than Sims.”
She chewed the corner of her lip. It was such an odd thing to say and think about, but this was Billy’s reality.
“Does it… hurt?” she asked, tentatively.
“Sometimes… there are a few things that make it better,” he stood up from the table.
“Like what?” she asked, curiously, stacking the bowls.
“Leave them,” he shook his head and motioned to the couch. “Come snuggle with me.”
Kass faltered, keeping her fingers firmly planted on the table. It was solid wood. Being with Billy wasn’t so solid.
“I won’t bite,” he jested as he settled on the couch, massaging his hands to warm them up.
“That’s not funny,” she sighed, exasperated as she plopped onto the couch.
“Okay,” he raised and lowered his arms, rolling his shoulders. “I might… but only if you want me to.”
Kass settled into the comforts of the couch. She watched the flames dance, the fire clicking and popping as the logs shifted. The wind continued to howl outside. She could sense Billy tensing as he gripped the low armrest. She began wondering if this was the right place to ask a burning question.
“How many women have you been with?” she inquired.
“What?” he whipped his gaze to her.
“I’m serious, Billy. We talked about being more honest with one another.”
“This is your idea of light conversation.”
“I hate small talk.”
He laughed and shifted in the seat. “I guess you do.”
“I’m serious, Billy. How many women have you been with? I promise I won’t judge. No hidden agenda here…” she lifted her hands in mock surrender.
“Will you take off the gloves?” he requested.
“What? Why?” she wrinkled her nose.
“They’re distracting, and we’re inside. You’ll warm faster.”
“You’re not answering my question.”
“You’re not either.”
Kass glared at him, folding her arms across her chest. “Forget I asked.”
“Suit yourself,” Billy shrugged.
They returned to staring into the fire in silence.
“Twelve?” Kass gasped. “Twelve women?”
“Hey you said you wouldn’t judge.”
“Oh,” she lifted her arm defensively. “I’m not… I’m just… surprised.”
“Why you thought there would be more?”
“Honestly?” she winced. “Yes.”
“Would it surprise you to know that I swore off women for years at one point?”
He grimaced. “Rough childhood.”
“What does that mean?”
“Okay…” he tucked his hands behind his head and leaned back into the couch. “This honesty thing is harder than it looks. I don’t want to talk about this…it’s nothing.”
“Billy…” she protested, wondering why he was flipping all over the place emotionally.
“I said, nothing…” he raised his voice a little as he sat forward again.
“Okay,” she said, timidly. “I’m sorry.”
“How many men have you been with?”
“Dated or been with…been with?”
“I thought we were talking about been with as in…” he leaned closer to her, peering over the edge of his glasses. “…been with? Because I’ve dated more women than I’ve… you know…” he whistled. “…woohooed.”
Kass flushed hotly and counted off her fingers with one hand. “I’ve…been…I mean… dated three guys… technically…”
“Dated? Not been with?” Billy quirked a brow.
“Dated,” she confirmed.
“Not even that Gage guy?”
Kass grimaced. “No… especially not Gage,” she curled her legs up on the sofa. “I’m not interested in him in that way. I didn’t really… I mean… I shouldn’t have dated him… it was a mistake. A boozy mistake the first time and the second time a… well…” she looked down at her hands, flexing her fingers. “I don’t love him.”
“But you do love that Davis guy?”
“Well… yeah… I thought I did… I mean… I do… I cared…I mean…” Kass stammered. “He was my first boyfriend.”
“And I was your third?”
“Second, technically… and um…fourth?” she frowned. “I’m not sure how it works…” she laughed weakly. “I officially… well… sort of… dated you last summer… and then Gage and I got together at Christmas for like a week… and then you and I… are… back… I guess,” she shrugged.
“You guess?” he moved closer to her, sliding his arm around her shoulder. “Is this okay?”
“Yeah,” she bobbed her head. “So twelve?”
“Does that number bother you?” he asked, without breaking eye contact.
She bit her lower lip. “I’d be lying if I said no… but I… get it… you’re one of those guys. I just kinda assumed you…”
“What screwed anything that was female with legs?” Billy chuckled wryly.
“Billy…” she said, softly. “I… don’t be like that.”
“Like what? The playboy I am?” he shrugged. “A guy like Davis is probably better for you.”
She took his hand. “Billy, I do care for you. Davis…is… was…a chapter in my life. I had deep feelings for him… but…” she sighed heavily. “…he moved on. He has someone else.”
“Are you okay with that?”
“I wouldn’t be dating you if I wasn’t.”
“But a few weeks ago?”
“I know what I said…” she leaned in to kiss her boyfriend.
Billy laid his hand across hers, and released a low guttural moan as she deepened the kiss. He gripped her wrist, as she laid her other hand to rest on her own thigh.
“…I don’t know… I’m all mixed up…” she said, wistfully.
“Aren’t we all?” he joked.
“Don’t…” she hovered around his mouth. “I just… want to feel… something other than… sadness.”
“I can arrange that,” he squeezed her shoulder. “We don’t have to think about anyone else or anything else tonight.”
“I wish it were that simple.”
“It is that simple. You just need to make a choice, Kass.”
“What kind of choice?”
She was pretty sure she knew where he was headed. She could feel her own blood stirring, desirous feelings she had never quite imagined before bubbling up inside.
“You were with Davis…” he sighed, disentangling himself. “And you loved Davis, but you weren’t together.”
“Yes…” she frowned.
“You went to help Gage and ended up together, but not together. And then you were with me… and we didn’t… and then you were with Gage, and you didn’t.”
“What are you getting at?”
“You’re with me. You say you care about me. But you’re thinking about Davis.”
“No!” she protested. “Not now. Not… I mean… you brought him up,” she said in frustration. “But I’m thinking about you.”
“And you want to be with me?”
“Kass, do you love me?”
Her heart caught in her chest as Billy placed his arms firmly around her. One hand hovered near her belt and upper thigh. The other draped around her shoulder. She reached up and grabbed his one hand and squeezed, and reached over with her other hand and patted his knee. Her brain was feeling fuzzy, almost as if she couldn’t think straight. Maybe it was the fire. Maybe it was Billy’s cologne. Maybe it was just hormones. Irregardless, she knew she would say yes, even if it wasn’t entirely true. She wanted it to be true. Saying it aloud would help cement the reality, right?
She wanted so desperately to love the man right in front of her, but she was still so confused. He lingered above her face, nearly touching her lips. He was breathing heavily. Her heart was racing. Her own breath probably smelled like noodles and chocolate. Not the greatest combination. She suddenly wished she had a toothbrush. Billy hadn’t complained at all, but she was starting to feel self-conscious. Her palms were sweating and she was pretty sure, perspiration beaded around her neck.
“Kass, you need to stop thinking so much,” he brushed a hair off her face as she stared up at him, earnestly, yearning.
Her nerves felt like they might explode.
“You’ll never feel if you keep thinking,” he barely breathed as he caressed her forehead.
“Hold me,” she demanded fiercely.
“I am,” he smirked.
“No, kiss me,” she pulled his face into her own and once his mouth was on hers, she removed her gloves and unzipped her vest.
Within moments, she pulled the vest and her turtleneck over her head, and he tossed his own hoodie up onto the bed with his red scarf. They sat in their undershirts, kissing hungrily, as if they had never kissed before.
“Thank gawd! Those blasted gloves can come off,” he teased, pulling back from her face.
She laid a hand gently on his leg. “I… didn’t…need them… anymore…”
“What do you need?” he asked, his eyes twinkling happily.
“I want more,” she said fiercely, dragging her fingers across his chest, making him groan. “I want all of it.”
Billy’s eyes widened in surprise as she lifted her spaghetti strap tee shirt over her head and began fiddling with her bra strap. She smiled. This time no alcohol. She was lucid. She was in control of her inhibitions and she wanted him more than she had ever wanted anything in her life. She wasn’t sure if this was how it was supposed to feel, but she didn’t care. She was giving in. For once, she ignored the dull roar of caution in her ears, and she wanted to dive right in, head first, and experience something she was certain she wanted… and with Billy… of all people. She wouldn’t be his first, but it didn’t matter. She wanted him. He pulled his own shirt, revealing his thick mane of chest hair. Jumping up eagerly, he began undoing his belt buckles. She had seen him before, and he had seen her, but this would be different. This time it would be because she wanted it.
When she revealed her chest to him, he groaned in pleasure. Immediately, he reached for her cupping and squeezing. She released a little moan and arched her back, bracing herself against the couch, her hair sashaying across her bare back.
“Are you ready for this?” he released his grip from her chest and cupped her face with his hands.
He stared, concern mixed with excitement. This time with Billy would be different. They both breathed heavily. He did care. She could feel it in her bones.
“Yes,” she whispered.
Billy didn’t have to ask twice. He lifted Kass up onto the couch, turning her so he could climb over her body. They removed their remaining layers of clothing, and saw each other for the first time. Billy supported her legs as she kicked wildly at the sensation of him against her. Kass gasped at the sudden pressure, lifting her hand to her mouth and biting her knuckles to keep from crying out. She didn’t want Billy to think she couldn’t handle it, or that she was a kid, especially since he made her feel like a woman.
It felt different than she expected. Billy felt strong and intense, and she couldn’t believe how something could feel equally pleasurable and painful at the same time.
And then as soon as it began, it ended. She lay on the couch, panting, draping an arm across her chest as he collapsed on the floorboards next to her. He draped an arm behind his head and another across his lower abdomen. His sudden howls startled Kass, and she tried not to giggle, nervous at his reaction. She figured it was a wolf thing. He seemed happy. She didn’t know how she felt. It was all so new and different. Her heart was pulsating faster than she thought might be safe. She hugged her arm tighter to her chest, and brushed sticky hair from her forehead with her other hand.
Billy soon fell asleep, never saying a word. She felt a little strange, still wide awake from the experience. Did he like it? Was she good… or comparable to the ladies he had… she released that thought with disgust as she slipped over him as quietly as she could, hoping the floor boards weren’t squeaky. Thinking of other women… doing… what they just did… made her feel a little queasy. She walked to the sink, pulling her bra and underwear back on, and ran her hands under the water. She could use a shower. Glancing through the window, she cleared a viewpoint through the fogged glass, and spied an large detached building a few yards from the watch tower. Bingo! A bathroom most likely.
Kass didn’t realize how badly she was shaking until she was settled in the outhouse with the door locked and the shower was running. She gasped. She couldn’t rid herself of his scent. It was everywhere. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, was it? She wasn’t supposed to feel nauseous and uncomfortable, and… oh gawd! What have I done? She was still throbbing in a certain area. Was this normal? Billy had fallen asleep. Maybe she should’ve tried to doze too. But the more she thought about it, the more she wondered if she would ever sleep tonight. This was her first time, and she was a nervous wreck. How am I supposed to be feeling?
The soap did little to help matters. She could still smell him. She had never thought he smelled bad, but now, she wasn’t so sure. All her romantic notions went flying out the window the moment she had sex with her boyfriend for the first time. How did people actually like this? It was icky and sticky and sweaty and messy… and she wasn’t sure she liked it. In the moment, it felt great. Now she felt cheaper than dirt. People actually liked this? She couldn’t believe it. All this time she thought it was wonderful and felt great and was super sweet and intimate. But now she knew the truth. Now she knew it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.
The tears started falling fast and freely. How could she do this? Why did she think this was a good idea? Ashamed, she covered her chest. Maybe she had moon sickness too. Maybe she was losing her mind. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as she thought. The rest of her maybes got washed down the drain with the rest of the shower water, sweat, and tears. She knew. Things would never be the same.
Author Note: Often times in stories, sex is portrayed as this wonderful and amazing and perfect thing that happens without any hitches. While sex can be great, often, the first time isn’t. And maybe the second and third. It’s not to say it doesn’t get better, but for a young, inexperienced woman, this was a bit of a shocking wake-up call. I wanted to take a more realistic approach to life, and that’s what made writing this chapter hard. I hope reality didn’t make this chapter too squeamish. I won’t say much more.
On a funny side note, I didn’t realize Kass was still wearing her gloves until I was halfway through taking screenshots, that I already really liked. And then when I did change them, she kept changing back into her outdoor outfit. Maybe because it was a community lot? Or the roof wasn’t on right? Haha. I spent a lot of time building the little cabin watch tower above the Meadow Beach lot in Hidden Springs. Technically, it’s not an island, but for the sake of the story, I decided it was. île des prés is the French phrase for Meadow Island, and Simnadia, my Simworld version of Canada, is influenced by French for obvious reasons. I also used a smidge of actual German in there too as the werewolf culture evolved from Deutchsimland in my Simworld, influenced heavily by the German/Dutch language.Thank you for reading.
“Come on, you never get out anymore. Just this once.”
Kass looked up from her desk in Billy’s house, cluttered with her laptop, Ruby Gate Bridge thermos, coffee stained day planner, back issues of the Bay City Buzz, manila folders, post-it-notes of every imaginable color, a photograph of her family, and a bottle of aspirin. She eyed the man she called her boyfriend these days as he perched on the corner of the desk, and offered a sympathetic smile. She was grateful he let her work out of his house on her articles because the trailer dining table was a little too cramped. Plus her father had been occupying the space with his…erm… She bit into her pencil as she stared hard at the screen. …lady friend, as of late. It was ironic. The first time they were together, Billy hardly wanted to go out… if ever. Now between taking care of her dad, working at the nightclub, and trying to finish a biweekly article for the Buzz, she was swamped.
“Sorry Billy, Shore is expecting this article by Sunday night for the Monday issue.”
He arched a brow. “You’re not even there and Brendon’s a taskmaster.”
“Because… if I want to be a reporter someday, I’ve gotta earn my chops somehow. This story about the doctor’s disappearance is important and more people in the Nation need to know about it.”
“I know… I know…” Billy leaned in and nuzzled her hair. “I just miss my girlfriend. Between the club, your dad, and this long distance gig for the newspaper, I can’t seem to catch a break with you… except…” he began trailing kisses and nibbling her neck. “…when you work at my house.”
She giggled, feeling flustered by his touch, and brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. “I can’t…work…when you…distract me.”
“That’s the point,” he quipped, resuming his straightened perch. “I only want you to have a little fun… loosen up a little… you work at a nightclub. A nightclub I can’t even get into.”
“Yeah, why is that?” she leaned back in her chair, balancing her pencil between her hands. “You’re a were after all…”
“And you’re not a sup,” he shrugged, interlocking his fingers and dropping his hands between his legs drawing her attention downward.
She shivered delightfully. Mmm… he is a gorgeous man, she smiled, observing his casual sexiness.
“And yet you work there…” he remarked. “Must be because you’re my multitalented girlfriend.”
“Hey, I’m offended,” she flicked her pencil at him, which he dodged, of course, with his super fast reflexes.
“Why? Because I called you multi-talented? Last time I looked that up in the dictionary, it was a compliment.”
“No, because you imply I got the job because of you.”
“Well I did mention it to you.”
“You did more than mention. You insisted I apply. You practically filled out the application for me.”
“Because you are multi-talented and I knew it would be a good fit for you.”
“You still didn’t answer my question.”
“You know me and my bad boy ways.”
She narrowed her eyes.
“What?” he shrugged and grinned suavely. “You mean a gorgeous guy like me can’t have his club privileges revoked?”
Kass spun the chair around so she could stand without tripping over Billy’s legs. “Fine. Don’t tell me the truth. I’ll get it out of you sooner or later,” she rubbed a finger over his thigh.
“Oh really?” he smirked, leaning in to kiss her lips right as his house phone rang.
Breaking eye contact, he walked across the hallway to answer the telephone. Kass leaped in front of him and pouted playfully.
“Now who’s distracted?”
“Kass, I should answer it.”
“You should answer me.”
“Answer you about what?”
The phone continued ringing.
“About the Sanctuary?”
“You are still hung up on that?”
“Yes?” she grinned, reaching around him and picking up the phone.
“Give that back.”
“Nope, not until you answer me.”
“But it could be important.”
“Oh then I’ll answer,” she teased, twisting the cord around her finger as she hit the connect button. “Caspian residence!”
“Kass! It’s so good to hear your voice.”
Kass froze when she recognized her mother’s voice. She hadn’t spoken to her since last summer when she called from inside St. Astrid’s Church. Not even the holidays or Kass’ birthday had prompted a call from her mother. Amy had been furious that her oldest daughter left Sunset Valley without saying goodbye…and to abscond with her ex-husband, Kass’s father, was even worse in Amy’s book. Kass was an adult though, and Amy could do little to stop her daughter. After their last phone call, Kass never expected to hear from her again.
“Hello Mother,” she said formally.
Billy’s eyes widened and he immediately put his arms around her, but she squeezed out of his grasp, walking away. She needed the distance. Her mother was a sore subject.
“I miss you, gattina,” Amy said, calling Kass by her affectionate Simtalian pet name.
“How did you find me?” Kass narrowed her eyes.
“Howard called last weekend to talk to Andi. I intercepted the call.”
“Of course,” Kass muttered.
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” Kass grunted. “So you know where I am?”
“I’m your mamma. Shouldn’t I know where you are?”
Kass detected the coolness in her mom’s tone as she spoke.
“…said you were staying with a friend. On a friend’s property, is that right?”
Her mother sounded much too cheerful.
“A boyfriend actually,” Kass corrected, glancing at Billy to see his reaction.
He took this as a sign she wanted him and took a step forward. She shook her head.
“How do you feel about that, Mamma?” she bit out, almost bitterly.
“What? No Gage?”
Kass gasped. How did her mom know about Gage? Did her dad talk? Did Andi?
“No, I’m not dating Gage.”
Billy stopped in mid-stride, giving her a puzzled look.
“That’s…wonderful…” she could hear her mother was trying really hard to be happy.
“Yeah, my boyfriend is wonderful…”
Billy’s eyes widened and he closed the gap and placed his arms around her again. This time she didn’t protest.
“…he is wonderful, Mamma,” Kass continued. “And you can’t do anything to stop me now.”
Billy squeezed her arms.
“Kassio… I’m sorry you feel the need to be snippy with me.”
“You’re sorry I feel the need to be…” Kass trailed off, throwing an arm in the air and nearly whacking Billy in the nose. Thank God he’s got good reflexes! “What about you’re sorry you tried to break Davis and I up? And you’re sorry for doubting me when I said nothing happened? And you’re sorry for always trying to control me?”
“Kass… that’s not true.”
“What? You’re not really sorry, are you?”
“I didn’t call to argue.” Her mother sounded tired and almost defeated.
“Why did you call?”
“I’m getting married.”
Kass nearly dropped the phone, her jaw tensing in shock. Amy was getting married again. She couldn’t believe her mother had agreed to marry Clark. Wait… it was Clark right?
Kass swallowed hard. She had a hard time believing it. Her mother had been so depressed for so long, and bitter about Howard’s betrayal. And now she was considering marriage again. No, not just considering it. Actually getting married again. Clark was a good guy, and her mother deserved to be happy, but Kass wasn’t ready for this news. She wasn’t ready for this to be the first topic they discuss after months of not talking.
“When?” she asked hoarsely, squeezing Billy’s hand.
“Yesterday after work. He was going to wait until tomorrow… Valensim’s Day, but he just couldn’t help it and he proposed early by the soccer nets at the park.”
“No…um…” Kass licked her lips, feeling parched. “When are you…uh… tying the knot?”
Billy arched a brow.
“Well, that’s the thing. Kass. We’d like to get married as soon as possible. Clark is dealing with this custody issue with his kids and he wants his sons to be there. Kasey is leaving the day after the semester ends to spend the summer with his mom in Shang Simla. So we’re thinking a Simmay wedding.”
“That soon?” Kass felt her heart dropping to the floor.
“Clark and I want something small and intimate. He already talked to your nonno about walking him down the aisle, and of course, your nonna insisted on baking the cake. Your sisters are thrilled. And the boys are happy too. I think it’ll be strange to be a stepmom…” Amy laughed. “But the more the merrier. I already talked to a caterer and a florist. We’re thinking the Pink Flamingo Hotel here in Sunset Valley. And I spent most of the day on the phone with Clark’s parents in Winchester. They are just so thrilled. I almost forgot to call you. Clark reminded me.
“Oh really?” she gulped to keep the emotion from rising too high in her voice.
“And Kass… we have something special we’d like to ask you… Well I do. And I’d like to ask you in person but with how quickly things are happening… uh…would you be my maid of honor?”
Kass slid down the wood paneling on the wall and dropped to the floor, bringing her knees up to her chest. It was too fast. Mamma just started dating Clark last summer. She had been angry with Kass all this time without a phone call. And now she wanted her eldest daughter to assume the place of a very special individual at her wedding in less than four months. She couldn’t have called sooner? To wish her a happy birthday? To wish her a merry Christmas? To say she was sorry, really sorry? After all, Kass had apologized to her back in the summer when she called, but Amy said she couldn’t accept her daughter’s apology if she wasn’t coming home. That’s when they stopped talking altogether.
“Kassiopeia? Are you still there?”
She swiped at her eye corners, feeling moisture arise.
“I’ve gotta go, Mamma,” she said briskly.
Kass hung up the phone before her mother could fully finish her goodbye. She didn’t want to hear it. Amy Riveria soon-to-be Mrs. Sauer could get a taste of what it felt like being an afterthought. Billy knelt and took the phone from her hands and she nearly burst into tears. She should be happy. Why wasn’t she happy?
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She hiked her chin and looked him squarely in the eye. “Let’s get outta here.”
“What?” he blinked in surprise. “I thought you didn’t want to go out. I was thinking about making you some dinner and renting a movie or something once you’re done with your article.”
“I don’t wanna write… not now… I just…” she ran a hand through her hair. “I’m…uh…tired.”
“Should I take you back to the trailer?” he inquired.
“No,” she bemoaned.
There she would be alone. Her father was in Starlight Shores for Valesim’s weekend with Marisol. They flew out yesterday on Ms. Loera’s airline points and had a whole romantic weekend away planned. At least she was positive her dad wasn’t popping the question to Ms. Loera. She had asked before he let and he laughed and said, “Kiddo, when I propose, if I propose to a woman, any woman, ever again, you’ll be the first to know.” Why did her mother have to call now of all times?
Kass curled her arms around her legs and laid her head against her knees.
“Just leave me alone,” she whispered.
“What? Red…” Billy stopped balancing on his toes, and sat down, draping his own arms over his knees. “What happened, Red?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she buried her head in her arms.
“No, but you probably should talk about it.”
“You’re not a shrink.”
“You need a shrink?”
“Yeah, and why do they call them shrinks anyway?” she frowned. “Are they supposed to shrink your problems? Because that would be great.”
“Kass…what’s wrong? Did something happen?” he dropped his hands between his legs.
“Yes… but I’m not talking about it,” she said, miserably, as she lifted her head.
Billy seemed to ponder her response for a moment. He reached over and squeezed her hand.
“Kass, you’re like a revolving door.”
“What?” she turned her head and glared at him.
He raked his free hand through his hair. “At some point, you have to stop and let someone in.”
She sniffed. “Is that supposed to make me feel better? Poetry is supposed to make me feel better?”
“I’m willing to try anything,” he offered a half smile.
He’s trying. That’s a new one. Kass was still trying to get used to this Billy… the new and improved one. The one who actually cared. A revolving door, huh? Let someone in, Kass. Let someone in. Anyone. Her brain screamed.
“Let’s go somewhere, Billy… anywhere…” Kass spoke with dramatic urgency as she jumped up.
“Okay…” he shoved his hands in his pockets as he followed suit. “Where do you want to eat?”
“I’m not hungry,” Kass wrapped her arms across her chest.
“I could call and order takeout. You could drive with me to pick it up.”
“Yeah… let’s go for a drive. No… I don’t want to drive…how about a boat ride?”
“A boat? In winter?”
“Sure, why not? The lake’s not frozen yet.”
“Yeah, but a boat? You’ll freeze, Red,” Billy grinned, pinching the edge of her shirt playfully.
“No I won’t… I won’t…” she protested. “Come on…” she grabbed her puffy winter white vest off the coat rack. “Let’s go.”
“But I don’t have a boat,” he replied, following her out the front door.
“Then find one,” she called over her shoulder as she began crunching across the snow-covered yard. “Please.”
Author Note: Thanks for reading. I wanted to get pictures, but I couldn’t quite capture in images what I wanted in words so I left this chapter text based.
It was a beautiful night for a party in Hidden Springs. Snow fell from the violet sky lit up by the beauty of the northern lights. Every flake seemed to capture the magic of color, reflecting vibrant greens and breathtaking blues and passionate purples. The spotlights atop the Sanguine Sanctuary were like a beacon, alerting all that this was a safe haven. His boss had granted him a no-limits expense account to make the nightclub the “place to be” any night of the week. He almost scoffed as he surveyed himself in the angel-white trimmed mirror. It made perfect sense that he, Shark Racket, was managing a club. After all, this is what he was good at. He was aware of the irony that he, an alcoholic, was a nightclub manager, but ever since that day when he tried to end his life, he hadn’t juiced.
Of course, he wasn’t going by the name ‘Shark’ anymore, and ‘Racket’ was synonymous with the mob that was formerly his family business. Instead, he had reverted to his given name, Tiburon, Ty to be precise, and he had taken up the mantle of his grandmother’s maiden name, Bordeaux, fitting for a venue manager of fine wines and distilled spirits. Ty thumbed his jawline while examining himself in the mirror as he considered all the crazy events that landed him in the city of snow bunnies and ski enthusiasts. Well, one crazy event. A crazy person. A woman by the name of Dianna, like the Simman goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature. Fitting as she was a werewolf.
He had been an angry man, bitter that he hadn’t managed to take his own life that night at the family manor in Twinbrook. The facility had him on suicide watch, and the recovery process from his drug and alcohol problem was slow. Shark still bore the scar from his dive through the window, above his left eyebrow, a painful reminder of where he came from… a family that didn’t want him. His mother never wanted him. His father was too busy wrapped up in his work to care. His uncles were distracted with their own lives. His sister, the goody-goody, never understood him. His grandmother was the only one who cared, and yet every time she had tried to stand up for him, Max had hurt her.
When Shark met Dianna, he was still broken. Broken by his years of abuse and neglect at the hands of his family. Broken by his own spiral into addictive substances. Broken by the betrayal of his first love actually being a relative. Broken by his loss of innocence to the very girls he eventually managed. Broken by the violent death of his grandfather’s number two. Broken by his cousin’s hostile takeover of the family business. Broken by the death of his mother, who never cared for him. Broken by his father’s disappearance. He wanted to end it all, but unfortunately, even when his father’s assets were frozen, his rehabilitation bill had been paid through the end of the year. It was like the universe was playing some giant cosmic joke on him. Turns out it was the best joke ever played on him.
It was just supposed to be some meaningless hook-up but Dianna was so much more. She taught him what it meant to fight to live, not by fists, but by sheer willpower. She had an uncanny way of getting the truth from people, and she managed to learn all his secrets, but he learned hers. She opened up to him in a way no one had ever done before.
One thing Shark had always envied about Dianna was she had someone on the outside, someone she considered family, even if not by blood. Not even his own blood sister had visited him. Lolly was too busy recovering from depression after losing access to the family bank accounts and her precious college education. Dianna’s “sister” came to visit every week, and when she did, she would bring her horse. The rehabilitation center had an equestrian center on site, equine therapy, it was called. Learning how to ride a horse had not been on Shark’s list of things to accomplish in life, but he learned to enjoy the sessions because he would get to see Dianna and her sister.
The day he finally was released from therapy, Shark didn’t have much save the clothes he wore and a watch from his dad. When Dianna’s sister pulled up outside in her beat-up Arch Venus with peeling green paint and a smile on her face that could’ve been worth a million bucks, he knew he had found a new family. Dianna’s sister had fixed up the spare room for him, but most nights, he stayed with Dianna. After months of hiding and sneaking around, they could finally be together in the open.
True to his nature and his family history, Shark found work with a local gang. He never dealt with “clients” directly, but he made sure they were happy by using his technical expertise and mechanical acumen. That is until someone in the gang found out he was dating Dianna… and they began to receive threats… all because Dianna was a werewolf and somebody knew it.
When the threats against Dianna and other supernaturals in the sleepy conservative town of Appaloosa Plains escalated to acts of violence, Shark knew they had to leave to protect Dianna’s sister. They made plans to head north, and scraped together enough money to cross the border into Simnadia. On the night they were to leave, the family barn was lit on fire by a Simolotov cocktail. He should’ve figured they couldn’t just walk away. One could never just walk away from crime. Shark nearly died trying to save the horses.
In order for him to live, Dianna had bit him to ensure his survival, but he had been turned. He thought it would be worse, but in reality, being a were somehow suited him. Even though her livelihood was at stake, Dianna’s sister drained her bank account. She wanted to ensure Shark and Dianna had a fighting chance to get over the border. He would always remember the sacrifice she made.
Now more than ever, a haven for supernaturals was needed. Facing pressures from the Sim National government, the Simnadians might be forced to make political decisions that could jeopardize their position in country. That was why keeping this club open only to supernaturals was such an important statement to the community, the local authorities, and the corrupt police officers. Hidden Springs was one of the only places left in Simnadia that openly allowed unregistered supernaturals to live. So many had fled for Simnadia and Mexsimco after the open prejudice toward paranormal individuals had escalated in the last decade. Shark liked that his boss was committed to helping wherever he could.
Shark maneuvered his way through the crowds and came to greet some of the town’s highest paying patrons. He straightened his black sequined jacket as he approached Kelsey Ramos, a non-committed vampire. The red-haired, yellow-skinned man was dressed to the nines in his sharp pinstripe suit and blood-red tie.
“Mister Ramos,” he shouted to be heard over the peppy”ooo’s” of the night’s singer. “Welcome to the Sanctuary.”
The man was impossible to read behind his dark aviator sunglasses, reminding Shark of his uncle Bill. He wondered how the old bastard was doing while he shook Kelsey’s hand.
“I bring thee money,” the man said in a thick Simspani accent, gripping Shark’s hand firmly. “We talk biz-ness later. For now… we drink.”
“Ah yes, well the bar is stocked with the best Simspanian wines, imported from Empordà directly for you,” Shark waved the man past the blue velvet rope. “Only the best for you.”
“I think I shall,” Kelsey responded, making way for a waif-like young man in a blue suit and bow tie behind him. “Be careful with this one, Ty,” Kelsey murmured jokingly, his canines revealed as he squeezed Shark’s arm. “He looks pretty green.”
Shark laughed awkwardly, trying to avoid upsetting one of the business’s number one patrons, but he didn’t like it when the vampire made fun of the Plantsims. Personally, he had nothing against the green-skinned Sims who happened to share DNA with trees and flowers, and yet many people despised the PlantSims for their other more obvious DNA they shared with Xenosi. It was merely more evident in a PlantSim than any other kind of supernatural.
He sent a warning glare at his coat check girl, a witch named Paula, with a mohawk and streaks of purple in her hair to match her attire. She had been difficult to Mr. Ken Woodward, mostly because she was uncertain how other patrons would react, but Shark insisted all supernaturals were welcome, even PlantSims. And they would have to answer to the boss if they didn’t let the man in.
“Welcome, Ken,” Shark smiled genuinely before moving onto to mingle with the other guests.
After ensuring all the patrons were enjoying themselves, drinks were replenished, and all of waitresses were making the rounds in a in a timely manner, Shark wandered back down to the entrance bar. His boss’s cousin, Ryan Anderson waved to him.
“You have a visitor,” Ryan informed him.
“A visitor?” he arched a brow.
“Yeah, she’s not a clubber, and she’s sure not a supernatural.”
“Then why is she here?”
“Look man,” Ryan waved his hands. “She said she was here for a job interview.”
“At ten o’clock at night?” Shark looked at the man incredulously, and then turned to his red-haired bouncer. “What happened?”
“I’m sorry, Ty. She got past me,” the portly former linebacker in the tweed suit and pink tie winced.
“Well, where is she, Tarō?” Shark asked, impatiently, glancing between the two men. “Ryan?”
“I don’t know,” Ryan replied.
“Last I saw her she was in coat check with Paula,” Kimo Tarō piped in. “But she wanted to keep her coat. Said somethin’ about lookin’ professional.”
“She looked dressed for a funeral, boss,” Ryan added. “I don’t know. Should I go toss her outta here?”
“Aww…no man, she got the best smile. And she was real pretty,” Tarō protested. “”She’s lauoho ‘ula ‘ula… like me.”
“What’s that mean?” Shark looked at Ryan to interpret.
“Red-haired,” the bouncer grinned.
“Red-haired?” Shark surveyed the crowd attempting to locate a young redheaded woman, but was unable to see one. “And she got past you?” he patted Tarō on the chest. “Maybe I need to ding your salary.”
“Aww…no man,” Tarō repeated. “I was just… she said she was interviewing for the new bartender position.”
“Ty, you know we don’t hire non-sups,” Ryan said, narrowing his eyes.
“Don’t worry,” Shark cleared his throat and glanced about one more time, finally spotting a woman, with flame-red hair, dressed in all black approaching the bar from the restrooms. “I’ll handle this.”
When Shark reached the front entrance bar with tire matte countertops, he saw the mysterious redhaired woman was already interacting with Rajulio. His vampire bartender was listing off his full name – Ralph Roderigo Angelo Julio Lopez, hence while he went by Rajulio. Her laughter tinkled like champagne glasses clinking in toast, warming Shark’s heart. The girl was probably too sweet and naive to work in a nightclub and bar, some of whose patrons were hardened criminals, much like himself. He debated making his approach while Rajulio was listing off a selection of drinks he thought she might enjoy. She shook her head and said she was here for an interview, and she didn’t want to give anyone the wrong impression by drinking.
“Ah, but you want to work in a bar?” Shark interrupted. “Why should we trust you if you won’t imbibe?”
“I prefer to indulge after I speak with the manager,” she replied, making strong eye contact.
Her face was pleasant, and despite her buttoned-up appearance, she was actually quite pretty.
“And what if I’m the manager?” he added. “And I’m asking you to drink?”
Rajulio clinked some wine glasses awkwardly so as to appear busy. She didn’t answer right away as if pondering his question. A sweet smile spread across her face.
“Perhaps I should make you a drink then if you insist on drinking,” she replied, leaning forward to offer her hand. “So I can show you my skills and convince you to hire me… Mister?”
Shark swallowed a smirk. She successfully evaded the question, and managed to steer it back to the topic of interest… in her favor. He had to admit she had chops barging into a supernatural exclusive club. Now he knew how she got past his bouncer.
“Ty Bordeaux,” he replied. “And I didn’t catch your name, Miss…”
“Fullbright, Kass Fullbright,” she said, shaking his hand firmly, her brown eyes twinkling. “Now how about that drink?”
Shark motioned for the barstool and slid onto one himself. He figured it couldn’t hurt to get to know this Kass since she managed to make it inside the Sanguine Sanctuary.
“I see you met Rajulio,” Shark remarked, sidestepping her offer just as cleverly as she avoided his question. “He’s the best mixologist this side of the border.” He held up his fingers. “Rajulio, a Star Lite for me and…” he looked over and winked at Ms. Fullbright. “…a purple viniq for the lady. Be sure you add extra gin.”
Kass pursed her lips. “If Rajulio is as good as you say, he would know viniq is a vodka moscato blend, not a gin moscato blend. And…” she laid her hands on the counter for emphasis. “…if you are the manager of a night club, I would imagine you would know that too.”
“You caught me,” Shark smiled. “I was testing you, Kass. You are aware of our hiring policy.”
“Supernaturals only,” she bobbed her head with her perfectly pinned bun. “It’s a bit discriminatory, don’t you think?”
Shark shook his head. “Ords stereotype and profile and refuse to hire sups all the time. We are only…” he smiled almost in annoyance. “…returning the favor.”
“Ords? As in ordinaries?” she replied, without skipping a beat. “I’ve known plenty of ordinary, non-supernatural individuals to do some extraordinary things, including setting aside their prejudice and embracing all people as human beings deserving of the same rights. I’d call that pretty extraordinary.”
Shark sighed. So she wanted a medal for treating sups right? She was an optimist. He could give her that. He lifted his drink to his lips before responding.
“You want justice in this world, Kass?” he asked, narrowing his eyes. “Go be a lawyer or a doctor or a politician. I don’t need some bright-eyed idealist in here stirring up trouble.”
“Or be a poet writing sonnets in a coffee shop to remind the world that there’s some good here. Or be a painter and create pieces of art to remind us that we can all appreciate beauty. Or be a grocery store clerk who helps the sweet witch lady to her car when no one else will. Or be a bartender and help cheer people up in some of their darker hours,” she spouted. “Mr. Bordeuax, I know you don’t know me and I know you have no reason to hire me but I care about the people of this world, regardless of what their DNA says they are. I care about serving people whether they have fangs or glowing eyes or whether they have green skin, blue skin, or pale skin. And I care about making good quality drinks.”
Shark almost smiled at her last comment. She was making a compelling argument for why she was a decent human being, but she had yet to convince him about her abilities as a bartender.
“Look Mr. Bordeaux, I need this job… I need this job to help my dad who has EXCES.”
Shark narrowed his eyes. Was she playing the sympathy card?
“And I want to work for you because I hear you’re fair. You’re one of the only men in this city that caters to a marginalized group of people and that makes you a target for a variety of reasons and yet you do it anyway because you know it’s the right thing to do.”
“And you would know about the right thing to do?” he scoffed.
Kass slid from her barstool. “Thanks for the drink. What do I owe you?”
“Uh… nothing…” he grunted.
“Look, Mr. Bordeaux,” she said earnestly. “I don’t have a lot of experience, but what experience I do have is solid. I would be an asset to you. I have references if you need them. You can start by calling Rosalie Avila if you’re interested. I left my resume with your assistant.”
She started to walk away.
Where had he heard that name? Rosalie Avila? She was well known in supernatural circles as a healer, and she never turned someone away, regardless of their trouble with the law or how advanced their diagnosis was or how difficult their treatment would be. Rosalie Avila was a shining beacon of hope in the supernatural community and she was doing good work. And she was a witch. If that woman truly could vouch for Kass, maybe he should consider hiring the enthusiastic lady before him.
“Wait!” he exclaimed, standing up and blocking Kass’ path. “You worked for Rosalie Avila?”
“The one and only,” she confirmed. “In Mexsimco at Casa de la Esperanza in her house bar.”
Shark was surprised. “I didn’t realize you had those kind of creds.”
“I did say I was here for an interview,” she said. “I expected you to ask for them.”
“I haven’t seen you around here before. Did you just move?”
“My dad and I came north to spend the holidays with a friend, and then onto Hidden Springs so he could take advantage of the town services for his…um… condition…” she took a sip of her drink. “We plan to hang around for a bit. I’ve been looking all over town, but no one will give me a chance,” she laughed wryly. “For whatever reason, I can’t get past a phone call.”
“So you decided to show up in person? Here? In my bar?”
She shrugged. “I figured it was the best chance to do some convincing. Would you let me make you a drink? You know my most recent work history but I’d like to show you what I can do for you.”
He nodded. She rolled up her sleeves and politely addressed Rajulio by name and asked if she could use his supplies.. She was certainly eager to please. And not so bad on the eyes, he watched her long creamy white legs disappear behind the counter. He could use a female bartender. He didn’t have one, only female servers, but perhaps a pretty face behind the bar would get the patrons to open up their wallets a bit more. Kass mixed a bit of this and that, twisted the cap on the shaker, and tossed the drink canister Pouring the reddish looking drink into two glasses, one for him and one for Rajulio, Kass smiled and made a comment about, “it’s all in the wrist.”
“Ah, yes,” he smiled in return as his bartender took a sip, made a surprised, but pleased face and continued drinking.
“This is good,” Rajulio mouthed.
“But you forgot one thing…” Shark leaned across the counter.
She grinned as if she knew a secret. “…that you don’t drink anymore?”
He blinked rapidly in shock.
“I considered that,” she continued in a soft tone as she leaned her elbows on the counter. “…so I made this sangrita…It’s a Desierto Rojo specialty. It doesn’t have juice. Neither does a Star Lite.”
Rajulio shrugged. “Don’t look at me.”
Shark gingerly took a sip. Whatever she had made him was good…sans the alcohol. “I’m impressed.”
“You are?” her voice went up an octave. She cleared her throat before continuing, “I’m glad you like it, Mr. Bordeaux.”
Shark shook his head and offered his hand. “If you’re going to work here, no more of this Mr. Bordeaux business,” he straightened his jacket. “Call me Ty.”
“Thank you,” her jaw dropped open as she shook his hand, as if surprised he actually agreed to hire her. “Thank you… Ty…” she flushed and looked down at her hands. “You have no idea what this means to me.”
“Oh I think I do, and so long as your references check out, you can start tomorrow evening say around 9pm?”
“Yes, yes. I’ll be here,” she swiped her purse from the counter and smiled at Rajulio. “Thank you for letting me use your station.”
“Anytime, miss,” Rajulio bobbed his head.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said, hardly containing her excitement as she did a happy walk from behind the bar over to the door and fetched her winter coat from Paula in coat check.
“I like her, boss,” Rajulio said, once the girl was out of earshot.
Shark rubbed his jawline. “I do too. You didn’t get any weird vibes from her or anything?”
He wanted to be cautious given the establishment. Occasionally, he made use of his vampire employees’ special abilities to “read” certain people.
Rajulio scratched his head. “You know, come to think of it, boss,” he said quietly. “I don’t think she’s what she seems.”
Shark frowned. Was he wrong to hire the lady on the spot?
Rajulio waved his hands. “Not like that. Don’t worry. She’s genuine and sweet. She will be an asset here.”
“Then what did you mean?”
“I don’t think she knows what kind of power she has.”
Author Note: Another long chapter, but I’m sincerely enjoying writing all these characters. Unfortunately after three tries of trying to capture the perfect screenshots for this chapter, I gave up because by the time I’d get everything set up, somehow it was always 2am and the patrons needed to leave. Haha. Even so, I think the story worked without all the available photos. Thanks for reading!