Four Days Earlier
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 in Interludes: 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.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed. I plan to return to Riverview. Thick As Thieves, Part Five, Prelude to Danger isn’t quite yet complete, but I may focus on some of my other stories first.