My darling daughter,
If you are reading this, I suppose I am dead. I had hoped very deeply that before this day I would meet you.
Attorney Lee Butterworth snatched the shakily handwritten note on a sheet of legal paper from his assistant’s hands. That couldn’t be all the letter said. He couldn’t believe what a nightmare of a morning it had become. From oversleeping to forgetting his lunch to spilling his coffee on his new starched shirt, this day was filled with one disaster after another. In court this morning, he had nearly lost a major case and then spoke with the television reporters outside regarding the lawsuit he had just barely won with a stain on his clothes and spinach in his teeth. He could just picture the headline on the newspapers tomorrow morning. Small town cheap gossip! He felt a headache growing behind his pupils. And now his assistant had arrived with this morning’s mail and a clean shirt, and this note was lying on the top of the pile.
“Ah, no, it’s signed...your mother,” his assistant corrected as she pursed her much-too-purple lips, the color of grape Zest powdered punch.
Lee placed his hand on her forehead and dropped the letter at her side. Seeing the look of curiosity on his assistant’s face, his eyes widened.
“Bea, you know as well as I do that this letter is not for me. My mother has arthritis in both of her knees and she’s sitting at home, I can guarantee you. I just gave Stevia her pills this morning.”
“I know it’s not for you,” Bea Honeywell smirked as she settled into the client chair on the other side of his desk. “But it does make you wonder whom it was meant for.”
Lee arched a brow in annoyance. “Bea, I don’t have time to play detective. I’ve got pages and pages of notes from the Bremmer case and then there’s the Goth account I need to…”
“…but that’s what you have a legal assistant for,” Bea interrupted, much too cheerily. “Plus…” she leaned in excitedly. “…I could give old Flatfoot a ring and see what I can dig up about this letter.”
Lee grunted. Six months ago he had been desperate for an assistant. No one wanted to come and work for a lawyer in Pleasantview, Misimigan. It wasn’t like the town was out in the middle of no where, but when the only thing the city is really known for is a soapy television opera that had been on the air for way too many seasons, people didn’t exactly flock to the town to work in a cramped, single-window office above a noisy sports bar where the sunlight peeked through and rain dripped through the cracks in the leaky roof, especially for an balding attorney past his prime, who lost more cases than he won. Honestly, landing the Goths as clients was a lifesaver for his one-man show.Thanks to Bea’s connections with a golfing buddy of Gunther Goth, Sr., Lee had gotten the job. Even if his assistant was rather unorthodox, she was useful.
Bea Honeywell looked good on paper, even if she didn’t have a whole lot of experience. She sounded smart, competent, and funny when he had interviewed her over the phone. When he had checked her references, all her former employers spoke highly of her, though some mentioned she was somewhat eccentric with some quirky habits that are quickly overlooked by her charm. When she arrived in his office for the first time, Lee assumed she was a client.
He never expected his legal assistant to be a tall, blue-haired young woman, fresh out of law school, with an idealistic “rose-colored-glasses” view of the world, who wore crazy colored lipsticks and much too bright clothing for the serious tone he hoped to achieve for the office. The only reason he kept her on was because he hadn’t been able to acquire an intern or a secretary for the last two years, much less an actual law school graduate. Well, that, and she had an exceptional memory, Lee thought as he took off his glasses, blew hot breath, and cleaned the lens with his plaid handkerchief.
Somehow when she needed a place to stay, he couldn’t turn down his employee in need. His house was already feeling like Superb Central Station with his mother on the main floor and his college roommate in the attic apartment and his mother’s string of gentleman callers who typically stayed in the guest house. Now that Bea had moved into the adjacent cottage, he had the perfect excuse to tell Stevia that her male friends couldn’t stay the night. And Bea was much more attentive and neat than his mother’s boyfriends ever were.
“We don’t need to employ a private investigator,” Lee sighed. “This is hardly anything to go on.”
“You never know,” Bea said, staring off into space. “Scout Flatfoot might have some ideas. Or…” she slammed her hand on the desk as if hit with a sudden burst of energy. “Sorry Woody…” she mumbled before continuing. “I could give the old Harvey a whirl… see what the Internet could dig up for me.”
Lee shook his head. “Bea, how many times do I have to tell you that you don’t have to name all of my furniture?”
“But it’s fun,” she smiled warmly. “Plus don’t you think Woody’s a great name for a desk? And Harvey’s the perfect name for my Freezer Bunny pink laptop.”
“About that…” Lee began, and then hesitated. “Um… we should order you a more professional looking computer.”
“But Harvey’s a genius for me,” Bea tilted her head, her blue-colored hair staying in a perfect pile despite the angle.
Lee sighed. It was no use getting through to his perky assistant.
“Do you want me to return it to the post office?” Bea asked, popping up from her seat.
“But there’s no return address on the envelope,” Lee protested, holding the piece of paper out to his assistant. “In fact… it doesn’t have an address at all,” he frowned. “Strange. How was it delivered?”
“I suspect it was hand delivered. Someone put it in our mailbox before the mailman came this morning,” Bea fingered her chin. “Did you see anyone lurking around the letter drop last night when you took out the garbage? A shady figure? A skulking kid up to no good?”
“Bea! Really!” Lee exclaimed. “You watch too many Inspector Impossible reruns in the evenings, don’t you? You’re one of those,” he leaned over his desk to place some loose leaflets inside a manila folder. “And for your information, the mailbox is too far away from the house to be seen by the garage.”
Bea looked disappointed. “Not even the street light picked it up?”
“The street light was out last night. It was dark when I drove into the driveway,” Lee responded.
“Oh,” Bea replied as she pulled her grey polka-dotted sweater up onto her shoulder, the only conservative piece of clothing she was wearing.
Her blouse was appropriately high-collared, but a wild shade of fuschia and her pencil skirt was fire-engine red. Additionally, she wore tights with rainbow-colored butterflies, and closed-toe but lime-green high-heeled shoes, and as always, an elaborate braided hair style to boot. He wondered how she ever managed to wear such different vibrant colors and yet never clashed.
“Would you like me to call in our lunch order?” she asked, plucking a pencil from behind her ear.
“Not yet,” he frowned, and then glanced up. “Wait… how did you know I needed to order lunch?”
“Because… your lunchbox isn’t in the refrigerator,” Bea replied. “Obviously…”
“Obviously…” he repeated, more slowly, and confused.
“Do you want me to order your favorite… hot turkey sandwich with brown gravy and mashed potatoes, a side of buttered corn, and extra cranberry sauce?” Bea asked. “Oh…” she tapped her temple. “I almost forgot. A slice of pumpkin pie.”
“That sounds delicious…” Lee sighed tiredly. “But first, I need you to get Judge Kulate on the phone first. The courtroom clerk made a significant error, and I want to catch him before he goes to lunch,” Lee explained, grimacing over another piece of paper on his desk.
“Okaaaay,” Bea practically rolled her eyes with her accompanying sarcasm.
“What?” Lee puzzled.
“Well, you know Judge Kulate will talk your ear off about the weather… and then the sports games… and finally try and get you to play golf with him before you’ll ever get around to what you called to talk about,” Bea reminded.
Lee rubbed his forehead. “Why do all these law types like to play golf? Why can’t they play flying disc? I was good at flying disc in university. I used to play on the quad.”
Bea smiled as she slipped out the door. “I’ll see if Judge Kulate can dust off the ole flying disc in his spare time with you.”
“Bea, thanks for bringing me a new shirt,” Lee called after his assistant.
Lee exhaled audibly as his assistant left his office, dropping his head onto his hands and rest his elbows on the desk or Woody as Bea liked to call him. If his desk even was a him… Lee frowned. Even with all of Miss Honeywell’s help, he had no idea how he would catch up on all the paperwork for all his proceedings. He preferred the personal touch, making handwritten notes on each of his cases. It was part of what made him a good attorney – his attention to detail.
He was a bit old-fashioned too, conservative in his attire, polite to the T, a proper Southern gentleman armed with the manners his sweet mamma taught him, which suited the aging citizens of Pleasantview, but didn’t help his appeal to the younger crowd, save Mrs. Bella Goth. He dabbled in a little bit of everything, never quite settling on one particular focus as this kept him on his toes, but now he was beginning to wonder if he should’ve picked a specialty. He may have attracted more clients in the pokey town of Pleasantview.
He also wondered if he should’ve given up his practice years ago and taken his friend, John Simsham up on his offer to join his mega-firm in the state capitol. Now John had retired, though not truly as he wrote legal thrillers in his spare time between all his travels and lectures at major world universities. That could’ve been me, Lee supposed. But big-time famous attorney with a glamorous lifestyle wasn’t exactly the life he wanted. He was better suited for the small town theater. The twice a year trips to St. Claire was enough “city life” in the state capitol for him.
When his mother was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, Lee moved back from Simcago, leaving behind his big-city days, to attend to his mother’s needs. Stevia Butterworth had been content to live out her days in her brother’s home in the South, outliving two husbands. Yet her illness required a change of climate, and Pleasantview seemed like an excellent place to settle. He took over his stepfather’s law practice in the sleepy Misimigan town, and moved his mother up north. Lee pinched the bridge of his nose, inhaling and exhaling deeply as the light flashed on his office phone, indicating his assistant had transferred the call. This might be a longer conversation with the judge than he would like.
Bea Honeywell hung up the receiver in the front office after transferring the call to her boss. As suspected, Judge Arty Kulate was in a chatty mood. He wanted to know if she had plans to enter the Pleasantview annual chili cook-off for Thanksgiving week, and if she had visited the new casino the city council had voted for, and whether she heard about the Lotharios oldest son moving back to town, purchasing a home on Main Street.
Bea pretended to be polite and listen to the ramblings. She had never met a man who liked to gossip as much as Judge Kulate. After placing her boss’s lunch order, she dropped her head on her desk. No more late nights watching reruns, she chided herself. Blinking rapidly, Bea shook her head with a yawn, deciding it was time to make the office a pot of black coffee, or at least a strong cup of tea. Bea shivered prematurely, rubbing her arms despite the presence of her thin sweater. Behind her, the door blew open bringing in a gusty blast of cool air. Bea smiled as she busied herself selecting the perfect bag of coffee for the guest that had just entered.
Without turning around, she said, “Hello Mrs. Goth. I was just about to brew you a cup…”
Bella Bachelor-Goth folded her arms across her chest and glared at the back of the other woman’s head. “Where is he, Bea?”
“In his office,” Bea said lightly, turning to glance at the client as she scooped a generous amount of grounds into the pot. “But he is on a call with the judge. Can this wait?”
“No, it cannot wait,” Bella said, sounding largely inconvenienced, but nonetheless, she plopped down in the assistant’s chair, setting her purse on the desk with a huff. “If my lawyer cannot get me out of speeding ticket, then what good is he for?” she shook her head, releasing a sprinkling of early-season snow from her long black hair. “And I don’t have time for coffee.”
“Oh I think a cup of coffee is exactly what you need,” Bea smiled sweetly as she pressed the on button and the coffee began percolating. “I think you’ll be able to see Mr. Butterworth shortly and get whatever this is cleared up.”
“Thank you,” Bella replied gruffly, removing her red leather gloves. “I suppose I’ll take a cup of coffee if you’re making it.”
“Excellent,” Bea nodded.
Bella folded her hands nervously in her lap, her newly manicured nails clinking against one another. After setting out two cups of coffee, Bea maneuvered to her desk around the stacks of boxes and piles of case files that still needed organized. She reached into her personal drawer past the inconveniently placed Mrs. Goth and selected a bottle of sparkling gold nail polish.
Bella gasped, taking the tiny bottle. “How did you know?”
Bea’s eyes twinkled. “I thought with the weather the way its been, it may have been harsh on your polish,” she winked. “Plus between us girls I always keep at least a half dozen colors in the drawer here at work. It helps pass the time.”
Bella hiked her chin, tentatively opening the bottle, releasing an acrylic scent into the cramped office. “Um… these boxes don’t just organize themselves,” she said.
“Right,” Bea replied, merrily, settling into the chair typically reserved for customers. “But on my lunch, I like to do my nails? What do you think?” she fanned her hand. “I picked the perfect shade of eggplant, don’t you think?”
“Sure…” Bella said sarcastically as she brushed up her two chipped nails. “Look… do you think…” she trailed off as Bea popped up from the chair.
“Coffee’s done,” the other woman said in a cheery tone.
Bea returned momentarily with two steaming cups of coffee. Bella took the offering, lifting it to her delicate nose and sniffed. A pleasantly surprised smile perked at the corners of her mouth.
“Mmm… cinnamon,” she closed her eyes and inhaled. “And something else… sweet… honey?” one eye popped open and she quirked a brow.
“My specialty,” Bea bobbed her head. “Milk, cinnamon, honey, and a dash of…”
“…vanilla!” Bella interrupted excitedly.
“Excellent nose,” Bea remarked. “I had a feeling you would be able to tell…”
“Oh?” Bella frowned as she sipped the coffee, wondering how Bea would know such a thing, but quickly forgot as she sighed happily. “This is delicious.”
“Thank you,” Bea smiled.
Bella was literally drinking her last drop when Bea stood up once more to turn off the coffee pot. She nodded toward the office door.
“Oh, you can go in now.”
“But… he…” Bella protested. “How does he know I’m here?”
Bea turned around and fetched the empty cup from the client’s hand. “Oh trust me, he will.”
Author Note: Okay, a few minutes till midnight, so technically still released on a Thursday, which was my goal. I planned to include pictures, and then struggled with the game and then hopped over to editing a lot and disappeared into design for a few days, but I still wanted to get a chapter out this week. So this chapter is text-only, but it gave me an opportunity to introduce a young Mr. Butterworth (if you remember his mention from Kassiopeia Fullbright and the Lost Legacy – KFLL) and younger eccentric, but lovable Bea Honeywell. I don’t want to give too much away, but perhaps you’ll remember something else in this chapter. 😉
Just a few notes. Zest is my SimWorld version of Kool-Aid or Tang, a powdered fruit punch. Superb Central Station is akin to Grand Central Station. Inspector Impossible is a television show similar to Inspector Gadget. Judge Arty Kulate is a pun… in Sim tradition… “Articulate.” Hope you enjoyed!