Monday, Simtember 12, 2416 | Silverton Estate | Bay City, Califorsimia
We were at an impasse.
I wanted to know more about my real father.
Mamma didn’t really want to tell me more.
It had been one full day since Mamma confessed to me some of her deep, dark past, including the fact that my father wasn’t my father.
My father wasn’t the man who raised me. He wasn’t the man who left my mother for another woman. He wasn’t the man who I had reconnected with in the last year. He wasn’t the man I spent a year with on the road traveling the SimNation.
My father was a stranger.
Worse, my real father raped my mother.
I sat across the dining room table from my mother, staring at her with conflicting emotions. Part of me felt unutterably sad. Part of me felt betrayed. Part of me felt terrified. What other deep dark secrets were lurking in my mother’s past? I knew the assault was the reason my mother left my father before my birth and escaped to Bay City. I knew she was welcomed in by my great-grandmother and lived here at the Silverton Estate during her time away from Sunset Valley. What I didn’t know was if Howard knew the truth, why Celestia left me her estate instead of my mother, and what Bella Goth had to do with all of this.
I wanted to ask about everything.
“Does Dad…” I whispered and cleared my throat. “…Howard know?”
Mamma lowered her head shamefully revealing her answer. I wasn’t sure if knowing that made it easier or harder. I still felt queasy.
“Do you want some waffles?” Mamma asked.
“No,” I shook my head vehemently.
“Clark will be back this afternoon. He went to the hardware store for Bea,” Mamma explained as if I wanted to know.
I nodded wordlessly. I looked at Mamma’s face. Her worry lines seemed more prominent today, creasing around her eyes, her forehead, and her mouth. Her mouth was hard. Her eyes were tired, and filled with an emptiness, as if remembering her past placed a barrier between us instead of removing the obstacles. A lie was always easier to swallow, sliding down the throat with ease into the pit of the stomach to rest comfortably in the big black hole of internal organs. The truth, however, required a large glass of liquid courage and the will to push past the back of the tongue. I felt as though I was choking, suffocated by the immense pressure of a truth wrapped in a dangerous and destructive lie, slowly twisting my insides to rot.
“Am I okay?” I found myself asking aloud, the words sounding strange, alien, and distant.
Mamma extended her hand across the table for me. I reluctantly took it, her fingers cold. I swept a strand of hair from my face with my free hand, avoiding eye contact. I closed my eyes and wished for comfort. Mamma’s hands were usually soothing, but now… The lies physically ache inside me. I know it’s not Mamma’s fault. I even understand her not telling Dad, but it’s… it’s… I couldn’t think of the proper word. My cell phone started ringing interrupting the torturous silence. I pushed back from the table and turned my back to Mamma. I clicked the connect button.
“Kass? Are you there?”
“Oh Ayesha! It’s so good to hear your voice!” I felt some of the tension melt away as my shoulders rose and fell.
“You can do more than just hear my voice, girl. Get out here!”
I felt as though a dam of emotions broke inside me. Relief. I didn’t have to go through this distressing discovery alone.
“You’re here?” my voice wavered.
Maybe there was a God like Andi said. My best friend was here. I needed her.
“Do you have cotton in your ears, girl? Yes, I’m here. I’m at the front door.”
I swallowed hard, swiping at a tear falling down my cheek. “I’m coming,” I said, and cleared my throat before repeating, “I’m coming.”
Ayesha squealed when I opened the door and rushed into her arms in near disbelief. Her embrace was much-needed.
“Oh! I’m so glad you’re here! What? I thought you were in Al Simhara? Wait… never mind… I don’t care. I just… adore you for flying over here and surprising me!” I rambled on excitedly, squeezing my friend tightly.
“How can I leave you in distress?” Ayesha replied. “I missed you too. It’s been way too long.”
“Since Mamma and Clark’s wedding,” I confirmed, still hugging her.
I wonder if he knows. If Dad doesn’t know, then Clark might not. Wait, he’s not really my dad. Howard isn’t my dad. This is too weird.
“Oh girl! What are you doing here? Seriously?” I asked, trying to shake loose thoughts from my mind.
“Are you going to let go of me so I can get a good look at you?” Ayesha laughed.
I reluctantly released her from my grasp.
“Oh my llamas! You have a lip ring!” I shrieked.
“Oh my llamas! You have a scar on your face!” Ayesha said simultaneously.
I made a face. “Seriously, Ayesh, that’s what you’re going to say? But you look fantastic! I love this pant suit!”
“Flashback to the seventies!” Ayesha twirled around for me, obviously proud of herself. “And the lip ring? It was the first thing I did after landing.”
“No!” I exclaimed.
“Yes, drr! You have no idea how suffocating Simultan life is. Skirts and dresses and hair coverings, not always. I mean, protection from the heat is good and all, but it’s just too restrictive for me,” Ayesha explained, looking at her nails.
“Have you told your parents?” I asked, my eyes growing wide.
“Are you kidding me? They’d have a cow! Good news is I don’t think they know I’ve left Al Simhara yet. Mail travels slow,” Ayesha shrugged. “Plus I told my sister and her new droll of a husband that I was going to help a friend in need.”
“Oh,” I crushed her into my arms again. “I’m so glad you’re here. I need you. You have no idea.”
“Breathing… Kass…” Ayesha said, her voice strained.
“Sorry,” I laughed and released her. “I just missed you something fierce.”
“Me too,” Ayesha nodded and took a few steps back looking upward. “So this is the estate huh?”
“Yeah,” I said, wrapping my arms around myself. The autumn air was a bit chilly for me to be standing around in a bathrobe. “It’s ginormous. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it. The place is falling apart.”
“Well, you’ll just have to renovate,” Ayesha decided. “I can help. I’m an expert in fashion.”
I quirked a brow. “So that makes you an expert in home renovations?”
“Honey, this isn’t a home,” Ayesha replied. “This is a masterpiece in disguise. I got an A+ in art, remember?”
“Yeah, because you flirted with the hunky teacher.”
“Yeah, you don’t remember?”
“I was actually good at art, don’t you remember?” Ayesha said defensively. “But come to think of it, the guy was pretty dream worthy.”
We both laughed as Ayesha swung her arm around my shoulder and proceeded to evaluate the house from the outside. I followed her, arms linked around the yard, shaking my head and giggling at her elaborate plans. To be honest, it was refreshing to be talking about something other than the main thing occupying my mind for the last day and a half.
When we finally did go inside, Clark and Mamma met us in the hallway. They talked for a few minutes with us, asking questions about her time overseas and how she liked it there. Ayesha kept her comments brief and polite, mostly letting Mamma gush about how great she looked. I had to admit. The lip ring had a certain edginess befitting of my best friend. I was just surprised Mamma approved. I wondered what she would think if I got a face piercing of some kind.
Mamma insisted Ayesha stay with us and went to fetch Bea to fix up a spare room. Clark went to get the car so he could take my mother to lunch. Ayesha then insisted I go get dressed because we were going out on the town ourselves. I decided to forgo the bath and opted for a quick shower while Ayesha settled in comfortably on my bed. She kept calling through the door making all sorts of comments about my fantastic bedroom.
“Really? That’s what you’re wearing?” Ayesha asked when I came out of the bathroom.
I scowled. “Don’t judge,” I fastened my Legacy College earrings. “It’s comfortable.”
“Yeah, but girl, you may be single, but you’re not in a monastery,” Ayesha teased. “How are you going to get a boyfriend dressed like that?”
“A nunnery,” I corrected, stretching out on the bed next to my friend.
“You’ll find him in a nunnery?” Ayesha’s eyes grew wide.
“Seriously, Ayesha,” I rolled my eyes. “You said I was in a monastery. That’s for men. A nunnery is for women…”
“Yeah celibate women,” Ayesha interrupted.
“Is that all you can think about?” I grunted, throwing my hands up in the air.
Ayesha closed her eyes. “I can’t help it. I like men.”
“Ayesha, girl, there are more things in life than men,” I sighed. “Just like old times, right? You can’t stop talking about sex and I don’t want to hear it.”
“Who said anything about sex?” Ayesha said, her eyes twinkling.
I whacked her with my pillow. She smirked and hit me right back. We rolled off the bed and attacked each other with the pillows for a few minutes before laughing hysterically and flopping back on the bed.
“Just like old times,” Ayesha exhaled and smiled.
“Mmmhmm…” I echoed her pleasant sigh. “And I can still whip your butt!”
“Oh really?” Ayesha sat up and blew a piece of hair out of her eyes. “I’ll have you know I’ve been practicing.”
“Practicing? Pillow fighting?” my voice went up a pitch or two.
“Come on,” Ayesha bumped me with a pillow. “I was stuck in eagle eye Ansari-land. What’s better than pillow fighting with my little nephew?”
“It couldn’t have been that bad,” I shrugged.
“I had to drive four hours in an open air jeep and then ride a camel to get to the ruins outside of town to meet a guy. Let me tell you. Sand up your butt isn’t romantic,” Ayesha explained.
“Sand up your butt…You… did… what at the ruins?” my eyes widened.
“Come on, Kass, you can’t be so naive,” Ayesha sighed. “Don’t worry. I didn’t woo in the ruins. It was just the only place I could wear a bikini. This is why we have to find you a man.”
“I had a man,” I said quietly.
“Yeah, and look how that turned out. He dumped you because he didn’t believe you.”
“It was a mutual breakup.”
“Yes, really. I mean, I could hardly ask him to stay my boyfriend since he caught me with Gage.”
“Speaking of Gage…”
“Oh no! No, no!” I shook my head vehemently. “I don’t want to go there.”
“Why not? He’s cute in a young Bruce Simlis₁ kind-of way,” Ayesha’s voice got slightly higher in pitch.
“Bruce Simlis?” I scrunched my face. “He’s not sexy at all.”
“Ooo… you said sexy…” Ayesha giggled, and covered her mouth.
“Silly! We’re not in grade school,” I grunted.
“Grade school? No, but you’re loosening up. I like it.”
“Saying sexy is loosening up.”
“It’s a start.”
“Sexy… sexy… sexy…” I said in a sing-song way.
“Girl, you’re silly.”
“I’m silly? Ayesha, you’re just… gah!” I grunted and dropped my arms at my side, exasperated. “You’re sexy, Ayesh. I’m cute, girl-next-door. I’m the best friend who the guy never notices.”
“Yeah, but even she’s got a sexy side,” Ayesha grinned wickedly. “So back to Gage.”
“He’s a dad and he insulted me and he got me drunk.”
“And you skinny dipped with him.”
“So… girl… he’s seen you…” Ayesha lowered her voice as if telling me a secret. “… your private parts…”
“Oh now who’s being prudish?” I laughed.
“Well, I thought it was more delicate than the technical term,” Ayesha justified.
“Oh llamas!” I rolled my eyes.
“Don’t worry. I skinny dipped all the time in the Ratsimakara₂,” Ayesha said nonchalantly.
“You never cease to amaze me,” I replied.
“There was nothing better to do than skinny dip in the sea after ten o’clock at night when the ranch is isolated from all the neighbors and miles from town,” Ayesha explained. “Well, it was the only thing I could really do. I had to sneak off the ranch after curfew.”
“You had a curfew?” I said incredulously.
“Almera and her husband, Anwar made me follow their strict dress code and all their dumb rules,” Ayesha rolled her eyes. “I seriously wonder what she saw in him. I mean, her baby needed a daddy but she could’ve done so much better here in the Nation.”
“Was it really that terrible?”
“Would you believe they’re third cousins?”
“What? No! So you and Anwar are…”
“Yep… third cousins too.”
“Yeah, tell me about it. And yes, it’s awful. They shun mainstream culture. Nothing glamorous or sexy in attire. No beach parties. No boys. Even friends had to be approved. And we spent all our time in the House of Al-Sim₃ reading hours and hours of from the sacred Simultan mythological texts. I’d rather go to Mass,” Ayesha said.
“So how’d you convince them to leave?” I asked.
“I got a job here in the Nation working for a respectable company owned by a Simultan family,” Ayesha said proudly.
“What’s the catch?” I eyed her suspiciously.
“Well… it’s owned by a really hot guy and his little sister,” she said sheepishly.
“Oh really?” I arched a brow.
“Yeah,” Ayesha grinned. “And he’s single.”
“Oh swoon!” I teased.
“Seriously Kass, I’m working for the Xtreme₄ Racing brand here in Bay City, and it’s a real job. I work at a desk and everything.”
“Uh huh… and you get to stare at him all day…”
“No…” Ayesha squeaked and I gave her a look. She winced. “Maybe… okay… yes, but he does have he has his own office.”
“When do you start?”
“Congratulations, Ayesha,” I smiled genuinely. “I’ll love having you close.”
“Yes, and I’ll be real close. I’m crashing here instead of going back to my parents.”
“Yes, you’re more than welcome.”
“Yes, but if I stay here, we have to spruce up the place. It’s as dull as doldrums.”
“I wish, but I don’t have any money.”
“Didn’t your great grandma leave you the motherlode?”
“I can’t access it until I’m twenty-five.”
“Really? That sucks. Are you sure?”
“Yeah,” I slid off the bed. “I think I have the letter over here somewhere.”
I shuffled through a stack of mail from my table. I pulled out the legal document from the pile. Slipping the paper out from the envelope, I began reading the letter:
“Dear Kassiopeia Celestia Fullbright, this letter is to inform you of your recent inheritance of the property in the name of Celestia Silverton-Antonelli Riviera in Bay City, Califorsimia, Sim Nation at One-Six Crooked Road. The estate has been left in its entirety to you upon the age of eighteen, and a substantial monetary inheritance will be held in account at the Legacy Bank and Trust until such time as you turn twenty-five…”
“Let me see that,” Ayesha leaped off the bed, and yanked the letter from my hands.
I sighed and rubbed my neck as she scoured the letter.
“Do you think you could protest it?” Ayesha asked. “I mean, it’s for a good cause to remodel your home.”
“I’m not a charity case, Ayesha,” I replied. “They aren’t just going to view a remodel as a ‘good cause.’ But I guess I could talk to the associates at the firm. I believe my mom is listed as an additional account holder, although I don’t think she can withdraw funds.”
“Yeah, Amalia Riviera, listed here,” Ayesha nodded. “And a B.J. LaRue.”
“Let me see,” I pulled the letter back from her. “B.J. LaRue?” I repeated. “…should you wish to claim funds before your twenty-fifth birthday, you may have Amalia Riveria or B.J. LaRue sign documents and pay a five-percent penalty fee for every transaction.” I frowned. “Who is B.J. LaRue?”
“You don’t know?” Ayesha asked.
“No,” I shook my head. “B.J. LaRue? The name is odd. I don’t think he’s a relative. At least, I’ve never heard from him. I’ll have to ask my mother. B.J.? B.J. LaRue? Hmm…” I scanned the letter again, but there was no other mention of her name.
“Well contact Butterworth, Honeywell, and Associates and ask them,” Ayesha shrugged. “Maybe they know.”
“Honeywell?” I repeated, looking at the letterhead. “Honeywell! Like Bea Honeywell?”
“Uh…” Ayesha looked at me strangely.
“Yeah, um… Bea Honeywell… I bet… she’s…” I puzzled. “My housekeeper used to be a lawyer. I wonder if she’s the same one mentioned in this letter.”
“Well, there’s only one way to find out,” Ayesha walked toward the door. “She’s home right? I thought she was downstairs. I saw her cleaning in the kitchen. Strange lady. The blue hair? Reminds me of that actress I saw on a beach in Florsimda.”
Florsimda? That’s it! That’s where I know… I plucked the phone from my pocket and began frantically typing and clicking buttons. My mind was running in circles, and my heart was pounding erratically.
“What’s wrong?” Ayesha inquired.
I gasped, letting the letter and the phone slip from my fingers to the floor. My eyes grew as wide as teacup saucers and my mouth dropped open in shock.
“What? What’s wrong?” Ayesha asked again.
“I know who B.J. LaRue is!”
2.17 Coming Soon!
- Will Kass learn more about her mother and what happened during her stay in Bay City? Why did she inherit the Silverton Estate?
- Who is B.J. LaRue? What does he/she have to do with Kass’s inheritance?
- Bruce Simlis is a play-on actor Bruce Willis.
- The Ratsimakara Sea is located off the coast of Simultan and is comparable to the Indian Ocean.
- House of Al-Sim is the religious order in the Simultan.
- Xtreme Racing Company is an homage to the Xtreme career track from The Sims.