Interlude: Unyielding (KCLKF)

December 26, 2408 | Twinbrook, Bayou 

“You don’t hafta go. Why don’t you stay?”

It seemed like a simple, straightforward question, but nothing with Gwayne Bayless was ever simple. David knew his mother better than anyone, and he knew she had an angle. He shaded his eyes, glancing up at the mid-morning sun sliding behind impending storm clouds. The humidity choked the air much like his obligations stifled his freedom. If he didn’t go now, he’d never go.

David laughed nervously as he slugged his backpack over his shoulder. “Ma, I need to go. The cab’s here.”

Gwayne managed a thin smile, though the hurt lingered in her ambiguous grey eyes. She curled her fingers around her jean overall straps like she always did when she wasn’t getting her way. David laid a hand against the dusty porch pillars, closed his eyes, and prayed for strength to leave. It wasn’t as if he didn’t want to go, but he felt guilty leaving his siblings, especially when his family was facing financial struggles and his parents, marital woes.

He swatted at a fly, disgusted at its relentlessness in December. Who puts a manor in the Bayuck swamplands? His stepfather’s ancestors must have been crazy, choosing to eek out an isolated and difficult life while gathering, processing, and selling peat for fuel and mulch. David couldn’t see himself as a peat farmer or fisherman or hunter by trade. He wanted a more noble profession – that of long-term spiritual value.

“What if ya stayed?” she continued. “Edgewater would surely accept you a little late, ‘specially with such an esteemed alumna as myself.”

His mother enjoyed bragging about her degree in business finance, her perfect GPA, and how she made honor role. He didn’t doubt he could make it into a prestigious school. He doubted he would ever leave Bayou if he didn’t now.

“Classes don’t start til late January and deadline’s the last of the year. And I’m sure any one of the businesses in town would be happy to give you a job,” Gwayne continued, tugging at the high neckline of her red floral shirt as if to silently indicate she was hot and bothered. 

He wasn’t ready for college. The only jobs for a Bayuck boy were fast food and gas station attendants in town,  and in the swamps, a farmhand or refinery worker. There was nothing wrong with good honest work,  but David wanted more from life than what Twinbrook had to offer.

“Could even get you the car you had your eye on… what was it?” Gwayne asked. 

There wasn’t an ounce of truth to that offer. David worked all summer at the fish market and saved every simoleon, but he still couldn’t afford a vehicle. He raised money by mowing lawns and raking leaves, even babysitting old Mrs. Kannigan’s greyhound so he could take this unpaid missionary gig in Colombia. He didn’t need a car.

“Ma! I don’t even have my license yet,” David rolled his eyes.

Well, you can git…” she pressed her lips together in frustration.  “…your license and then we can get the car, or we can get the car. . . .  What difference does it make?”

“No,” David shook his head. “I can’t. Dani and I made a commitment and I’m going to honor it.”

“She’s lost all her senses!” Gwayne declared, heatedly. “What woman in her right mind traipses around Colombia to preach to the natives? Women can’t be shepherds.”

“I heard that,” Dani hollered as she poked her head out from underneath the trunk lid at the curb. “You coming? We’re gonna miss our flight.”

“Then catch the next one!” Gwayne hollered. “I will say goodbye to my son good and proper.”

This wasn’t proper. It was an ambush, a feeble attempt to maintain her lack of control.

“Gawd! Ma, you shouldn’t be so judgmental!” David grunted and took a step forward.

“Don’t ‘chu take the Lord’s name,” Gwayne chided, removing her straw hat momentarily to wipe sweat from her forehead. “Can’t be doin’ the Lord’s work if you be swearin’.”

David ignored her latest statement. “And it’s not like she’s going alone. I’m going with her.”

“Naw please,” Gwayne begged, and then shuddered. “I hear São Paten is the worst crimespot in Colombia. Why are you going against?”

David sighed. It wasn’t as if Twinbrook was the safest and most blameless city either. Crime rates increased over the last few years, and attacks on supernaturals grew more bold and more frequent. Nothing like the massacre on his birthday. He frowned.

“And I heard it’s the Cidade Espetacular. Ma, don’t believe everything you read,” he leaned in and planted a kiss on her cheek.

“Don’t go!” Gwayne grabbed his arm. “You don’t belong in that heathen country. You belong here with me… with us…” she swept a glance back toward the house. 

David didn’t want to think about belonging. He definitely didn’t feel at home in Twinbrook any longer. His mother grew more controlling and demanding by the day, and his father ignored the problem, focusing his attention on ministering to the suffering and those less fortunate. With the exception of Chase, all of his siblings were homeschooled, in theory by their mother. In reality, David and Chase helped their brothers and sisters with their studies while Gwayne worked long hours for the mayor of the city. At eighteen, he didn’t want to be “in charge.” He wanted to see the world. He wanted to live out from under his mother’s thumb. He wanted to find her.

“I belong in the car with Dani,” David gritted his teeth.

I belong to her. David searched for the woman after their one perfect night together, but she was nowhere to be found. The hospital had nineteen records of Jess, and variations of Jess. It took weeks to gather all the data and months to track all the “Jess’s” in the greater area. Not a one of them “his” Jess. He didn’t understand. How could they share such a beautiful love and then lose it?

He spent the next four months agonizing over what he did wrong, and feeling guilty for abandoning the principles of his faith. He wanted absolution. His work as a missionary would suffice. He wanted closure. He wasn’t sure São Paten would satisfy, but it was a promise – a place to start over and serve God, and try and forget the night he burned with passion. Still, Jess was etched in his mind, her angelic face both haunted and soothed him.

“Whydoya have to go now?” his mother whined. “I need you here. Skeet needs you here.” 

A muscle twitched in Davis’ cheek. “Dad understands why I’m going. I thought you’d be happy I’m doing Padre’s work.”

“David!” Dani called again.

“Ma, I need to go,” David stepped off the porch.

“Can’t you understand you’re hurting me?” Gwayne moaned and grabbed for his arm. “I’m going to be worried sick for you and Dani in that wretched place,” she fanned her face. “At least if you went to Uni you could live at home.”

“Ma, this isn’t about you,” David whirled. “I made a choice to serve in the field instead of going to college right away and you have to accept that. I’m leaving whether you like it or not.”

The taxi driver honked. Dani threw her hands up in the air, one leg in the taxi as her arm rested on the passenger side door.

“Don’t you dare use that tone with me!”Gwayne exclaimed. “You’re just like your father. Pigheaded and foolish.”

An icy silence stretched between mother and son. Dani gasped, and slipped into the waiting cab. David wished she didn’t have to witness Gwayne’s ugly outburst.

How could his Ma say something so unfeeling and cruel? He knew he wasn’t Skeet’s son. The kind, but absent-minded shepherd wasn’t even in his life until he was eight years old. His biological father chose a career over marriage and a family. Chase’s father wasn’t much better. Skeet was a welcome reprieve to the chain of men his mother cajoled and courted. She even converted to Peteranism and repented of her former ways. But David knew. He remembered the long and lonely days and he still blamed Gwayne for her neglect. He didn’t forgive her, and if he didn’t leave, he would never forgive himself. 

“You have… no… right,” he bit out. “Maybe you’ve forgotten if you hadn’t spent the night with that pigheaded and foolish man as you so call him, then I wouldn’t have been born.”

“Oh David, don’t say such things!” Gwayne ran her hands through her hair. “Of course, I…”

“You what?” David scrunched his nose. “I’m leaving.”

He turned, ignoring his mother’s pathetic pleas. When he reached the vehicle, he offered Dani an apologetic grimace.

“You could come home for your birthday, honey? Or in a month? Don’t stay longer than a month. David? Do you hear me? Stop ignoring me! David, I demand you…” Gwayne huffed. “Well, when are you returning? At least tell me that,” she practically shrieked her last words.

“When pigs fly!” he yelled and slammed the taxi door. “Morreaux International Airport, please,” he directed at the driver. 

The man nodded, pulling away from the curb.

“David?” Dani interjected.

He turned his head away from the window. “I don’t want to talk about it.”


Author Notes: First chapter of the new year, and a fresh(ish) start for David/Davis. After the worst luck with my Sims 3 game,  I decided on a pictureless chapter. I didn’t get the family or their manor set up properly without the game crashing.  Ugh!

Thanks for reading. As you can see, Davis has a very complicated relationship with his mum. I named the airport – Morreaux (as that’s the name of the world I’m using for Crescent City). Davis and Dani are headed to this gorgeous world by jj61000 (and some of the descriptions from the site are used above in story). Hope you enjoyed! 

Interlude: Take the Sky (KCLKF)

Author Note: This chapter features mature and sexual themes. Pictures, as always, are tasteful. 

February 17, 2408 | Crescent City, Bayou 

A hospital was no place for a birthday.

The emergency room buzzed with a strange, wondrous energy as David Bayless entered with his father by his side. He wound the white ribbon tightly around his fist as he navigated between gurneys of battered men and bruised women. Tonight marked the latest act of violence against the minority pyre community on the southern tip of the Crescent City. Children’s screams echoed in the hallway as a nurse covered in a decedent’s blood emerged from behind double doors, frazzled and fatigued.

A shepherd by trade, Skielar “Skeet” Bayless shared comfort with frightened and furious families facing their darkest moments. A platitude here, a prayer there – his masters in literature and writing proved useful in the chaos. David was simultaneously impressed and terrified of his father’s calm. A bomb exploded at the intersect of the Whiskey District and Foundry Cove. The news reported eighty-five people dead and counting – the worst disaster the city had seen in over a decade –  and it seemed as if it was just another day at the office for the solemn minister.

It seemed strange. A mere hour before, David was ready to celebrate with family. He had been worried about what shoes he would wear with his blue plaid shirt. His mama fretting over his odd habit of buttoning the center button first, then the top, then the bottom, then all in between. They were taking a shrimping boat out at first light this morning so he could catch his birthday dinner. Now the celebration was forgotten, the yellow balloons floating above his head felt oddly cheery for such a depressing and disturbing scene.

He panicked. It wasn’t a proud moment. Fear tore at his chest. He ran up the stairs, taking two or three at a time, and burst through the door to the rooftop. Wiping his mouth with a shaky hand, he winced and balled his fist. How would he ever be a surgeon if he couldn’t handle trauma?

Davis?”

He whirled, catching the soft wisp of a name. A willowy redhead completed ballet stretches in the corner of the rooftop, half lit by orange streetlights below. She offered him a half smile, full of hope. He allowed his eyes to momentarily linger on her graceful figure as she stretched one leg behind her neck with the skill of a seasoned dancer.  Her slender but powerful legs were just one of her eye-catching features as was her modestly generous bosom and sunshine-colored tresses. Half-stumbling, he awkwardly approached, his mouth gaping, dumbly.

“You alright there?” she inquired with a laugh much too light for the situation. Seeing his blank stare, she pointed with a long finger. “I saw your Visitor badge from over here, Davis.”

“It’s David,” he corrected, and swallowed hard, his heart beating fast as the reality of running up stairs caught up to his swimming brain.

“That’s a handsome shirt,” she continued, shifting into a seated position and stretching her leg, one arm draped over her knee, one bracing against the rooftop.

“Uh… thanks…” he shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Wha?” he rubbed the back of his head. “What are you doing up here?”

“Practicing,” she replied as if a completely normal answer.

He continued to stare.

“So Davis… where did you get the shirt?”

“Huh? Uh… I told you…” he frowned. “It’s David.”

David,” she repeated with exaggerated slowness, a musical lilt to her tone. “I like Davis better,” she pouted, her lips a particularly lovely shade of raspberry gloss as she extended her leg straight into the air, an arm outstretched to balance.

“It was a gift from my mama,” he said, softly.

“Is she…” the woman nodded toward the stairs.

“No…” he shook his head. “She’s not a patient here. My dad…he’s uh… a chaplain… a shepherd actually.”

She crinkled her nose. “So you’re religious? Are you…” she twisted and pulled her leg straight into the air. “…the find-God-on-the-weekend kind-of religion or the faithful few?”

He pondered her question as her face melted into a gorgeous smile that could rival the approaching dawn. “It doesn’t really matter.”

“What does that mean?” he quirked a brow.

She swept an arm across the roof, gesturing to the chaos below. “Times like these… we all need a little faith.”

“No kidding,” he almost laughed at the understatement of the week.

“I have mints in my purse,” she nodded toward a soft jean bag slumped against the wall.

He frowned.

“For your breath… and water too,” she blinked a few times as if he should have known the reason she offered.

He grimaced. Yeah. That wasn’t pretty. He graciously nodded, accepting her gift as he slumped against the power source and twisted a cap off a sealed water bottle. He popped a mint into his mouth after a few sips.

“Probably the more interesting of birthday presents I’ve received,” he quipped, mirthlessly, returning the water bottle into her bag.

“It’s your birthday?” she arched a brow as she leaned forward and touched her toes.

“Yeah,” he admitted. “Didn’t expect this.”

“What? Me?” she smirked.

“No the day,” he said. “Uh… I guess… and you too. I didn’t think anyone was up here.”

“What’s your name?”

“What do you want it to be?” she tilted her head almost coquettishly.

He had a feeling she caught a lot of helpless ‘flies’ with her honeyed lips. She approached, her gingered crown stopping shy of his chin. Under different circumstances, he would wrap his arms around her and invite himself to her mouth. She reached up and laid a leg on his shoulder.

“You don’t mind, do you?” she asked.

Without waiting for an answer, she lifted one leg up to the generator behind him and extended her other leg back on the gravel, performing the perfect split. “I do hate… how my joints get so locked up. You’d think I was eighty-two instead of twenty-two,” she giggled. “The stretching helps loosen me up.”

Perhaps a little wine would too. If he had money, maybe champagne too. She seemed like the kind of woman who appreciated the finer things in life. David couldn’t help but wonder about the strange twist of fate bringing them together. He decided to say something after admiring her lissome figure so as not to appear like the gawking teenager he was.

“Do you work here in the hospital?”

“Heavens no!” she shook her head and walked to the edge of the roof. “My father is a hospital shrink. He was going to send a car, but…” she shrugged as if this was a common occurrence. “Guess both our parents were called into work tonight,” she shifted back to balance on both feet.

He was almost sorry she removed her hand from his shoulder. “So where do you work?”

“I don’t work,” she rolled her eyes. “I invest.”

She leaned forward at an inviting angle. “Mostly venture capitalism, but…” she trailed off, a brief moment of sadness flickering on her lovely face. “…sometimes my advisers recommend a philanthropic organization every once in awhile… for good press and all.”

“I see,” he joined her on the rooftop edge.

“…like a blood bank for underprivileged youth, you know,” she added with bitter irony. “…I thought I was making a difference.”

His eyes widened. The latest target of terrorists.

“I’m sorry.”

His words rang hollow and pathetic against her confession.

“Don’t you sometimes wish we could…” she sighed. “…rewrite the tragic parts of life?”

“I don’t know,” he said, honestly. “It wouldn’t be life without it.”

His words sounded like a cop-out as he dropped his head and held his hands. An intense desire rose within his body, and he could feel himself drawn to this total stranger. It was funny how intimacy naturally followed violence. Someone wanted comfort in a dark and twisted night. A reason to keep on living beyond the hatred and hopelessness of those who sought death.

“You know, on nights like these, I just want to…” her voice broke, lifting a hand to her candied lips. “…feel alive.”

He wanted to be her warrior, and he didn’t even know her. Oh but he wanted to! Everything about her seemed like a dangerous dream. Maybe, just maybe, this overwhelming fire threatening to swallow his senses whole was a sign from the heavens.

“Do you?” he dared, lift his hands to her face.

Her skin was soft, moist from her workout. His fingers slipped, and he gasped as she trembled beneath his touch.

“Yes,” was all she said in response.

His closed his eyes as he pulled her into an embrace. “What do you want…” he began, fumbling for the right words. “I have nothing to give you.”

She was radiant. She was perfect. An angel of mercy as his lost soul grasped at the fringes of the universe, beckoning him to drink deep as if he were a man seeing the stars for the first time.

“Take the sky,” she responded, lifting her hands to his chest “Take all of me.”

It was the boldest and yet most vulnerable proposition he ever received. He reacted. With strong, but tender force, he carried her back to the a more secluded part of the roof, and slammed her into the wall, her astonished moan, the tiniest break in their fierce kiss. They rasped for breath. He could feel her fingers unbuttoning his shirt, her touch electrifying. He thought he would burst into flames. This was a woman who could make him lose his mind, and he didn’t care.

His mouth moved across her entire face, trailing her neck with his tongues. He returned to her lips once more, crushing himself completely against her body. He knew what would follow, and he didn’t even know her name. He desperately wanted to feel whole, and she satisfied.

He fell all apart and she put him back together. He was wrong. He wasn’t that strong. He couldn’t be her warrior. She was a warrior priestess, bringing a ferocious symphony of all that was messy and sacred, folding the divine into a single moment inside space and time.

When it was all over, they lay intertwined in each other’s arms, half-sleeping beneath the stars of the Crescent City sky. She tasted sweet and salty. Perspiration dripped from his head as he confessed this was his first. She gasped softly in surprise, and nuzzled his chin. Her head rested against his shoulder as he leaned against her jean purse, his fingers intertwined with her hair.

“They call me Jess,” she whispered, tracing patterns in his barely-there chest hair.

He smiled and curled his fingers around hers. “You can call me Davis if you want.”

Happy birthday, Davis.


Author Notes: Okay, so I know it’s been a long long long time since I posted a chapter update. I thought it was beyond time. Thanks for reading. This was definitely a fun chapter to write. First of all, I referenced Willow Creek‘s Foundry Cove. Yes, it’s one and the same. The world I use for Crescent City is Sinkala’s Morreaux, a beautiful Louisiana-inspired world, and the downtown (referred to as Whiskey District) reminds me of Willow Creek’s Commercial District. I’ve always thought of Willow Creek as a bit of Louisiana and even redesigned the world once in a New Orleans-style. For purposes of the story, I’m calling this world – Crescent City – and I consider Willow Creek part of it. 

You might be wondering how Davis’ dad is Skeet Bayless, and yes, the same Skeet who shows up in Colt Family Traitacy. Don’t worry. All will be revealed… just not yet. FYI, you can find how I pronounce Skielar here. Click on the little sound symbol.

You might also be wondering about the name “Jessica Rossum.” So I wrote a story with her before (as a redhead) and it never took off. I wrote three different opening versions of her story and nothing. But I put these two characters together and my fingers were on fire. They had such an instant and natural chemistry and the words just flowed, slow and beautiful, like honey. They autonomously flirted, kissed, embraced, and woo-hooed in game, and I thought ‘This is it.’ Davis tells the story of his wife, and the game couldn’t have picked a more perfect couple.

This chapter was loosely inspired by two indie band songs, Warrior Love by Brothers Page and Casey Lowry’s Roam. Hope you enjoyed. 

1.103, Pt. 2, Trust (KCLKF)

Thursday, July 5, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

“You’re married?!?”

Kass’ jaw slackened. She grew as pale as the face of the moon. Blood drained from her extremities and she suddenly felt chilled, despite the rather warm evening. Compelled to scream, she turned and took two steps, her foot sinking into the moist grass.

“Ouf!” she exclaimed.

“Kass,” he called her name, but sounded distant.

No sound escaped her throat. She could barely breathe. Just moments before she had urged Davis to inhale and exhale slowly. Now her own heart beat wildly and her thoughts cluttered her brain and crowded her oxygen. She gasped, whirling to face her boyfriend. He appeared momentarily frozen, stoic even, feet firmly planted, arms limp at his sides. His hair glowed an almost silver in the starlight. She kicked her captured foot in frustration, loosening from the earth that threatened to swallow her whole.

Kass inhaled deeply, her senses clawing wildly. Her eyes welled but no tears fell. A low roar knocked her mind back into the reality of Davis’ words. Within seconds, she realized it came from outside her head and in that of the cascading water down the mountain rock. Her eyes flashed furiously.

“Married? As in ‘I do,’ the rings, the whole enchilada?” she grunted. “As in ‘till death do us part?'”

Davis swallowed painfully. Kass balled her fists in frustration.

“Davis, you’re married? But you’re dating me? You lo…” she couldn’t bring herself to say the words he so callously betrayed by keeping the truth.

“I do love you,” he said, his eyes wide and desperate. “Please… if anything… believe that.”

“Oh my word!” she covered her mouth. “I’m… the other… woman!” she said, stunned and she whirled to leave.

“No… no…” Davis stumbled after her, his hands clawing at dirt as he bent over after slipping on the wet grass. “No…” he dropped to her knee level. “It wasn’t like that.”

“What? It wasn’t like that?” she glared at him. “How could you!”

“No… it’s not… what you think…” Davis cried, clasping his hands together as he pleaded. “Please, let me explain.”

“Ugh!” she threw her hands up in the air. “So help me God, you better explain yourself or I’m leaving.”

“Don’t…” he reached out, dropping his head as his hand barely brushed her arm.

She subconsciously shrank at his touch.

“…don’t….leave…” his voice cracked.

“Give me a good reason not to!” she said, sticking her chin in the air.

She hated how her voice squeaked. How completely naive she was! Of course, he was married. Of course, she couldn’t have any happiness! Of course, he She couldn’t believe all this time she was dating someone who was…

“I’m not married… any more…” he began.

“What? So you’re divorced?” Kass tilted her head.

It wasn’t much better. Why didn’t he tell her? Why couldn’t he trust her? Why didn’t he bring this up before?

Davis clutched his shirt. He bit out the words. “…she’s dead.”

“Wha?” Kass sighed, and ran a hand through her hair, momentarily disrupting her neat ponytail. “This can’t… be happening…” she rubbed her arms fiercely trying to destroy the chill that threatened to overcome her. “She… died?” she repeated, her emotions running rampant – first, shock, then anger, then fear, and finally sadness.

Kass crumpled to her knees and faced Davis. “What… happened…” she managed, her tone surprisingly even as she asked.

“I… can’t…” he moved and pulled his legs into a crossed position. “…it’s too painful.”

“Take your time,” she rolled her eyes. “I’ve got all night.”

Davis laid a hand on her own, and choked back his grief. “Please… don’t joke.”

“Davis, I can’t believe you never mentioned this before!” she exclaimed. “I’m sorry…” she puffed air straight up at her nose in frustration. “This is overwhelming to take in,” she sighed. “This isn’t… my finest moment… but you lied to me.”

“I never lied to you,” he protested softly. “I just didn’t tell you the whole truth.”

“A lie of omission,” she narrowed her eyes. “Why wouldn’t you tell me? I mean, you told me you loved me. You told me you’d move with me in to Bayou. You told me you wanted to be…” she pursed her lips as she couldn’t even admit the truth aloud.

to be with me? When he’s been with someone else? When he never once thought to tell me that he had loved someone else enough to marry them, and that they had died? I could’ve comforted him. I could’ve helped him. I couldn’t done something. She grabbed a fistful of moss, peeking up between the blades, and dropped it back to the ground. Oh the bitter irony! Uprooted from the innocence of the garden of first love. My first love. Not his. 

“I do want you, Kass, but it’s not that simple,” Davis explained. “I have to tell you a story. A long one. It’s not easy. I’ve never told anyone else the whole story. I’m going to tell you now. If you’ll listen… and then… you can decide… if you can trust me again.”

Her heart sank. She could sense his intense pain, the cavernous depths of his grief. It had a dizzying effect on her, and she clutched the sides of her head. Closing her eyes tightly, she wished and willed to feel less… human… so she could focus and make a rational choice. She couldn’t abandon him. Not like this.

Still she felt deeply betrayed. He kept this from her all this time. He was right. They hadn’t known each other long. She didn’t truly know him. But she had trusted him… with her heart and her spirit… and she had hoped… however faintly… to have trusted him with her physical being also. After all, she had just suggested they move in together. How long could they expect to wait?

She had felt the heat of desire before, and she knew he had too. But she was a virgin… and he… was not. It was hard to imagine. She had all these dreams and fantasies of her first love and her first time with him and now those were shattered. He was right… could she trust him? He asked her to hear his story. It was the least she could do.

“…if you don’t want anything to do with me anymore, I’ll…” his voice broke. “…understand.”

The grief was near unbearable. She could feel it coursing through her veins, devouring her will to leave. She forcibly submitted her mind to the present, pushing away any ill will remaining.

“I’ll stay.”


Author Notes: The first time Kass reacted to Davis in the original story, it didn’t end well. This time I wanted to show she does have some maturity, but I also wanted her initial feelings to be explained here. They are every bit as valid as his own, and I needed to write these again no matter how hard or painful. I didn’t expect to write this chapter last night, but it just sort of happened. Thanks for reading. 

1.103, Pt. 1: Trust (KCLKF)

Thursday, July 5, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

“You look radiant.”

Kass felt the heat rise in her cheeks. She was grateful for the darkness. Davis turned off the lights as they swayed back and forth in the main cafe of the Jolt. He could relax in the dark, the only illumination the street lamps in the distance. His hand clasped hers ever so slightly, and his other hand softly encircled her waist. He still didn’t feel confident about his dancing abilities, but she patiently coached him. If the cover of night helped imbue confidence, who was she to argue?

“You can’t even see me,” she crinkled her nose as she rocked on her heels and wrapped her arms around his neck.

They danced in the dark after hours in the coffee shop. It was a sweet tradition. Tonight, her pulse pounded in anticipation. She had news for Davis. Life changing and exciting news. In the middle of all the chaos of Madison’s murder and the struggle to find a moment to spare for one another, she hoped this news would warm his heart and bring them closer together.

“I know you are,” he continued.

She giggled lightly. “More radiant than silver moons and lovelier than sweet dreams?”

He chuckled. “What’s that? From a Pennant card.”

“Maybe…” she swished back and forth in a teasing manner. “I stole… er… borrowed the phrase from somewhere…” she rolled her eyes.

Davis tilted his head and smiled. “How’d a guy get so lucky?”

She caressed his cheek. “I’m the lucky one,” she whispered. “I have something for you.”

“Oh?” he quirked a brow. “You do?”

“Yes,” she said, suddenly feeling shy as she walked toward her purse draped over a chair, her heart pounding.

“Oh a real Pennant card,” his eyes widened as she handed him a powder blue envelope.

“Maybe…” she smirked. “I pulled that line…for you.”

Davis took the letter and began to break the seal.

“Oh! I’ll have to turn on the light to read,” she exclaimed and started jogging toward the door.

“Oh no!” Davis waved his hand, grabbing her by the waist and pulling her toward himself. He kissed her nose. “That’s fine. I’ll stand near the window.”

“But it’s almost completely dark in here,” Kass protested.

He smiled, and scrunched her shoulders. “But I like it. It’s kinda magical,” he pulled the card from the envelope.

As he read the love letter, his expression changed, softening and then a puzzled look crossed his face as a key fell into his palm. Kass, in her exuberance, missed the cue. She excitedly told him how she received the scholarship… and like anyone ever had any doubts she’d get it? Her nonno sent in the remaining deposit today. Amy gave her the small, but significant money she had set aside for books and supplies and other college necessities. All of this meant that the money Kass had been saving through all her jobs in high school and this summer could go toward something else.

She had called in a favor from her friend, Cyrus. His mother was a real estate agent, and she knew someone willing to rent Kass a place, a refurbished firehouse in Twinbrook, just twenty minutes from campus, and right along a major bus route. The place was spacious, equipped with appliances and some modest furniture, but whatever they needed, they could buy upon arrival. She spent hours perusing pictures and completed the paperwork on Tuesday. She had been waiting to surprise him for his birthday, but she couldn’t wait any longer.

Davis’ expression changed from confused to shocked.

“Kass,” he gasped.

“I know… I know…” she shook her head. “I know it’s quick, but I didn’t get the scholarship quick enough to qualify for the dorms so I’d have to live off campus for the first semester anyhow. And this way you can come with me right away, and you’ll have time to adjust to the medical program in Twinbrook, and find a job. And I know we’ve only been dating for a short time, but…” she took his hands and squeezed, her eyes sparkling with hope. “…I love you.”

An unclear emotion flickered across his face. He swallowed hard. Kass bit her lower lip in anticipation.

“Say something,” she probed gently.

“I need some air,” he said coolly.

Without any further explanation, he walked out the door leaving a bewildered girlfriend behind. Kass pressed her fingers to her lips. Did I do something wrong? Maybe it’s too soon? Maybe… oh gawd! Maybe he wanted to be the one to find us a place? Am I pressuring him? He said he wanted to take things slow, and oh! Shoot! She gulped. I’m moving too quick, aren’t I? 

She followed him outside, neglecting her purse and shawl. He was standing near the waterfall, facing away from her. When she drew closer, she could hear him sniffling. She stopped, stunned. Is he… crying? Her eyes widened as he lifted his arm and wiped his face against his sleeve. Oh gawd! I ruined everything! She turned to leave.

“Kassiopeia?” he said, his voice cracking.

He didn’t look at her, but she could hear the meaning in his tone. He sounded like a broken man, and she couldn’t understand why. Her wedges squished against the damp lawn. As she walked up behind him, she laid a hesitant hand on his shoulder. He drew a deep and shuddering breath.

“Do you trust me?” he asked, tearfully.

“Umm…” she swallowed hard. “Yes… of course, Davis, I trust you.”

“But…” he faced her, his eyes wild and bright in the starlight. “You don’t really know me.”

“What?” she protested. “Of course I do!”

“Not really,” he said. “You’ve known me for a month now and we’ve dated even less. You love me, but do you know me?”

“Davis…” she took a step forward.

“No,” he shook his head and sat down, cross-legged on the lawn.

She followed suit. “What do you mean?” she frowned.

“You say you trust me, but what if I’m not a nice guy?” Davis asked, wringing his hands in his lap.

“You are… a nice… guy…” Kass said, the defensiveness starting to creep into her tone. “Where is this coming from?” she reached for his balled fist which still held her gift. “If it’s too much, that’s okay. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I didn’t really think it through. I should’ve discussed it with you first but when you said you would come with me last week, I don’t know… I started making plans and asking around and got the apartment and I picked up the blank key at Big Box the other night so the real keys will be waiting for us when we arrive, but this was just a placeholder. And I so should’ve discussed this with you… wow! I’m sorry. I didn’t think moving in together would be this big of a deal. Hoo boy!” she exhaled sharply.

“No,” he turned his head away. “…moving in is a big step. And there are… some things you should know about me… before you decide something like that… before we do… before I can…really be with you.”

“What are you saying?” she narrowed her eyes. “Davis, I love you and I think you love me.”

“You know I do,” he inserted.

“Then what could possibly be so horrible?” she exclaimed and threw her hands in the air. “It can’t be that bad. Do you snore? Talk in your sleep? Hate eating peas on Sunday?”

He made a face. She laughed.

“Sorry, that was pretty silly,” she smirked. “Those aren’t exactly deal breakers.”

“It’s…” Davis began, slowly. “…more than that.”

“You didn’t pay a parking ticket last year? You failed the medical entrance exam? You have an ex girlfriend in Twinbrook you don’t want me to know about?” she began speculating wildly.

Panic flooded his eyes like wildfire. He began to hyperventilate. She immediately stopped, and laid a hand on his shoulder.

“Davis, breathe!” she urged.

His eyes met hers, wild and damp. He squeezed her hands as if draining all the energy. She gulped at the strength of his grasp.

“What… is… it?” she said, in exaggerated slowness.

“I don’t have an ex girlfriend in Twinbrook,” he murmured. “I have…” he dropped her hand as if disgusted with himself. “… a wife.”


Author Notes: Thanks for reading. I’m not sure I’ll get out another chapter this week, but this one was done and ready so I thought I’d post. If you read the first time around, you’ll remember this revelation of Davis. Don’t worry. I won’t leave this cliffhanger for long. I’m planning on changing quite a few details, similar to my original notes with some additions. I know I promised not to retake screenshots, but I think I might, just for this section – for a story about Davis’ past. I don’t have very good screenies from back then. Also, Kass didn’t suggest they move in together during the original story. I added it this time around. It was an option on my branching tree outline from the early days, but I didn’t follow through with that plan. This time, I thought it made sense. I flopped back and forth and did loads of overthinking about whether Kass should, whether Davis should do it instead, or how he would bring up his past, but finally decided this was ready and the right time. Hope you enjoyed. Also, I’ll get back around to what happened to Jennifer soon enough too. 🙂 

Interlude: Terminated (KCLKF)

Author Note: This chapter includes descriptions of abuse and descriptions and images of violence.  I’d say more, but I don’t want to give away any major spoilers. If these are triggers for you, please refrain from reading.

Wednesday, July 4, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

Jennifer shivered as she pulled the door closed on the cabin. A summer storm had cropped up unexpectedly. The wind howled defiantly against the thin wooden walls. She dragged the plaid fabric curtain across the window and clicked on the overhead light. The room wasn’t much, mismatched furniture – a wooden park bench with red and white checkered cushions in place of a couch, a Christmas green wooden coffee table, a gray chair with white flowered vines, a floor lamp with red, green, and black arbitrary splotches on the shade in the living area. Across the way, an old refrigerator with a groaning motor, a wood burning stove, and a small dripping sink. If there was a bed, it must have been upstairs. A small television and a DVD player were the only real  accents in the room, if one could call a few old movie cases decorative.

  A crack of lightning followed by a loud clap of thunder startled her, and she took a step back into the center of the room. Now she wished she had called Pablo to accompany her to the little cabin in the woods on the outskirts of Sunset Valley. After parting ways with Delores and Kass, she headed to the office. She wanted to make copies of everything, especially since he worked in the building. She couldn’t take any chances. While she was there, a file slipped off her desk and spilled open with a lone address. She didn’t recall putting it there. Perhaps it was one of the folders Kass put together.

When she NetQuested the address, she was surprised by the name on the deed. She narrowed her eyes. It didn’t make sense. Jennifer did what she always did when a mystery presented itself. She stayed to put together the pieces. Two hours, thirteen minutes later after numerous phone calls and Internet searches, she discovered the real owner of the building. Nancy Landgrabb. 

According to the timeline she compiled with the help of Kass and Tori, Jennifer discovered Madison spent at least three days here in the middle of June, and three days – same time, every month. When Jennifer checked to see who paid the utilities during that time, it was none other than the father of Madison’s baby. The facts strangely confirmed what she supposed all along. While he fathered her child, Bert Alto may be a scum of the earth but he didn’t murder Madison.

In fact, he was holed up in the Atomic Wrangler Casino just outside Lucky Palms, El Dorado the night of Madison’s death. Over five people confirmed his whereabouts, as did the casino’s closed circuit televisions. It didn’t preclude the possibility that Bert ordered a hit on his lover, but Jennifer doubted it. She found evidence he procured false documentation to help Madison leave the country and start a new life for herself. And the fact that he set up a half-a-million trust for his unborn child in Madison’s name wasn’t the act of a man trying to off his mistress, but of a man wrecked by guilt and wanting to do what he could.

Jennifer was so close to proving who did murder the woman. The numbers Kass collected and the numbers she found on her own proved suspicious payments to a third party. When she cross-referenced the dates, they corresponded with Madison’s movements up until her death and the Sunset Valley Police Department.  Still, Jennifer frowned. Fire was a violent way to go… unless…

…she began to feel like her protege. A smile played at her lips as she spun some wild theories of her own. Sure enough… the payments not only matched up with Madison’s movements, they also aligned with the day after the fires set by the arsonist. It was all connected. But why? The pieces didn’t come together until she discovered yet another connection, and not one she expected, but one that made sense. Still the words Madison wrote bothered her, which is when she decided to take a drive up the mountain.

It was in a online journal Jennifer had discovered completely by accident when she used the final number in Kass’ notes. It was a routing number as Kass suspected and Delores confirmed, but Jennifer supposed it was something more. A nine digit password. She used the number of the very account used to pay her protector… and her betrayer… as a password for her private digital diary. The entries were written through the eyes of a infatuated girl, confused and misled by the man she adored, and yet kept returning to time and time again.

Madison wrote through the blinding haze of first love and the drugs that sustained her short rise and fall in fame. She wrote about her partner’s wild urges, and how he desperately tried to keep her safe by sending her deep into the woods on full moon nights. She wrote about how he hired a bodyguard to protect her…

from the beast within. He never means to hurt me, but he has trouble controlling his strength. The medicine helps, but the full moon negates the drug’s effects… H keeps me safe.  

Jennifer swallowed her disgust. Kass had mentioned she suspected Madison was abused. She guessed Abe first, but then switched theories to the father of Madison’s baby. And this H? There were five officers in the SVPD with the initial H, but Jennifer only suspected one. If only “the beast” realized he hired the wrong man…

Madison wasn’t a complete idiot though. She kept records of payments made to her bodyguard, hired by her boyfriend. Jennifer theorized that Madison kept the information as leverage in case Bert ever tired of his mistress. In her final entry,  she wrote about how she didn’t trust H anymore.  She discovered additional money transfers of large amounts into his account and it could only mean one thing. He was working another job. She talked about how H would keep a second gun in the cabin beneath the floorboards and how sometimes she fantasized about retrieving it.

Jennifer rubbed her forehead.  Oh you poor child! She wished she had brought the crowbar from her car or even the tire iron. She walked back and forth across the floor, hoping to find a loose nail or a spring in a loose board. After a few minutes of pacing, her foot found a place where the wood gave just a little. Her eyes widened and she knelt, chiseling the rusted nail with a butter knife she found in the kitchen sink. The nail shot up in the air out of its hole with little trouble and Jennifer pried the board back. She reached down into the small hole and felt around. Bingo!

Her smoking gun! Even if the gun was unregistered. Even if the serial numbers were filed off. Even if it was incredibly risky to come here. His fingerprints would confirm everything. The specific officer connection to the SVPD. The payments. The words of a young woman who was exploited by the man she loved and burned by the man sworn to protect her. Jennifer reached for her phone. The last thing she remembered thinking was ‘Time to call in the big guns.’ Then black.

When she awoke, her head felt as though it was in a thick fog. She could feel the burning sensation as heat pressed against her back. Jennifer blinked, ash sticking to her eyelashes like snow. A paralyzing choking smoke flooded the room. The cabin was on fire. She tried to lift herself off the floor, but she was weighted down. She gulped and tried to scream, but only a strange mewling left her mouth.

Coughing and sputtering, she willed herself awake. Tears poured down her face uncontrollably, and blood spewed from her nose. This can’t be. This can’t be how I go… Her eyes felt heavy. She rolled over onto her knees, willing herself forward. She grasped for her phone, her fingers numbly typing as her brain screamed for oxygen. Jennifer felt the heat lick at her back. The smoke swirled through the room like a shark circling its prey. She collapsed, succumbing to the merciful darkness.


Author Notes: Okay, this was graphic. I know. But necessary. This is how Jennifer really died in game. She “drowned” in a swimming pool during a corrupted save, and then when I reloaded, she was a private investigator (not a lawyer). I sent her to the cabin at Mosquito Cove in Sunset Valley to ‘investigate’ her first clue and she died by fire. It was all too suspicious and the perfect fodder for my story. The first time I scrapped it because it seemed too violent for a Sims story, but this time around, we’ve already touched on some dark, disturbing, twisted stuff and violence. 

The reveal of the baby’s father. Bert Alto. And yes, in case you’re wondering, Bert is a werewolf. There is a connection between Madison’s death and the arsonist. We’re getting close to catching the bad guy. 

The Atomic Wrangler is a lot created by Vera_J and I’ve used it a few times in game. It hasn’t made an appearance in story, and technically didn’t here, but it’s mentioned so I thought I’d give credit to the creator. El Dorado is the new name for New Mexico. I know, I’ve changed the name a few times, but this one is the last one I swear. Thank you for reading. 

1.102, Pt. 2: Tenacity (KCLKF)

Wednesday, July 4, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

A gaggle of giggly teenagers flooded into the diner. Kass gathered her things and moved to a quieter end of the counter. She visited Landgrabb Financial’s  website. Nothing too suspicious. All the right phrases. Long-term growth. Securing your funds for the future. Be ready for the big moments in life and trust us with your financial success. She absently clicked through a few more pages and landed on the board of directors page. As she scrolled through, her eyes landed on a familiar name. She leaned back in shock. Albert C. Alto. 

That can’t be a coincidence. She rubbed her face. Why was an Alto on the board of directors for a Langrabb bank? This information was left for me for some reason. Madison trusted me to find the links. But how? What am I missing? She plucked the business card Mrs. Andrews gave her from her purse – Delores Miller. Kass bit her lower lip and called the number. The woman answered on the third ring. After Kass explained who she was and how she made the contact, Delores agreed to meet with her in thirty minutes at the diner.

That was fast, Kass shrugged. And convenient. While she waited, she decided to type up the list of numbers and letters, including the ones she hadn’t deciphered yet. It would be easier than explaining the “invisible ink” and decoding she had to do in order to find this information.

Opening a new Netquest browser window, Kass searched for the name Delores Miller as well as forensic accounting so she wouldn’t be caught incompetent. The woman was linked to a number of high profile cases in Sim City, Starlight Shores, and Bridgeport. She was called for expert counsel on behalf of the Sims National Intelligence Agency. She published a book on her area of expertise – Yay Tax Shelters! She even consulted on the set of Roaring Vice in Roaring Heights, Sultona and was credited with a small appearance in season nine, episode seventeen – Strangled in Simoleons.

Forensic accountant sounded expensive, so Kass began determining the possible ways she could convince Jennifer to pay for the help, or how she would come up with the money on her own. Maybe her grandparents would float her a small loan so she could cover Delores’ costs.

Before she could call Jennifer, Kass spotted Delores Miller, wearing a gray blazer, loose black tie, white collared shirt, and jeans entered the restaurant and immediately began looking around for her contact. Too late. Better to ask forgiveness than permission, Kass supposed. She gulped and closed the laptop  lid, and waved timidly. Get it together, Kass! she chided. Just cuz the woman did an episode of your favorite crime show… 

“I see you’re doing your research,” the tall woman said upon approach and stuck out her hand.

Kass blinked rapidly. The woman looked familiar. “Ms. Miller, I presume? I’m Kass Fullbright.”

“Don’t let me stop you,” the woman shook her head, sliding onto the adjacent barstool. “I did my research on you too.”

“What?” Kass paled. “Um?”

“Salutatorian. Four point oh grade point average from Community School for the Gifted. Law clerk intern for Jennifer Martinez at the Legal Aid Office in Sunset Valley,” Delores Miller rattled off. “Expected to attend Edgewater Global Business University next semester. Daughter of Amy Riviera and Howard Fullbright. Overachieving perfectionist with borderline obsessive tendencies,” she stopped and smiled. “Am I close? It’s my job to know my clients.”

Except for the daughter of Howard Fullbright thing. Kass flinched, the relationship a sore spot. She still hadn’t chatted with her dad… or whatever he was… about the awkward discovery.

“You sure… do your research…” Kass remarked, slowly.

“No need to be nervous,” Delores continued. “I know your boss. She’s cool.”

“Everyone says that,” Kass replied, a little too quickly.

The heat rushed to her cheeks. I’m like a stupid little kid. 

“Uh…” she shoved her laptop in her side bag. “I mean…”

“Relax kid,” Delores chuckled lightly. “I actually called Jennifer before I came here.”

“You did?” Kass’s eyes widened.

“Yes, and she’s impressed with your doggedness, Kass. Working a case on your off time… it’s tenacity like that that got me noticed and helped me move up the chain, but… there is such a thing as overworking,” she winked. “Your boss sends you home for the night and you pour over bank numbers and call a forensic accountant instead.”

Kass winced. “I just want to see justice for… my friend.”

“That is admirable,” Delores nodded. “Jennifer called me just yesterday. We were going to meet in the office tomorrow, but…” she waved her hand.

Kass turned to see her boss through the door. She didn’t look happy. She gulped, realizing she was probably in trouble. And what were the odds? Calling the one forensic accountant who happened to be friends with Jennifer Martinez, Attorney at Law, and Victoria Andrews, private investigator?

“Jennifer,” she laughed uncomfortably as the woman settled on the barstool at the adjacent counter. “I was going to call you.”

“I thought I sent you home for the night,” Jennifer lifted her bag off her shoulder and flagged the waitress. “And here you are still working. Hiring people on my dime?”

“Oh… uh… I was going to… cover it… I mean, figure out a way to pay for it,” Kass rushed the words. “I mean… I planned to call you… tonight… to tell you what I found.”

“Really?” Jennifer quirked a brow, skeptically, and ordered the hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and brown gravy. “And just when were you planning to call me?”

“Um…” Kass swallowed hard. “I found something… and Tori Andrews suggested I ask an accountant… a forensic accountant… like Ms. Miller here…” she nodded toward Delores. “And… I know sometimes you consult with Tori… I mean… Ms. Andrews… and um… I didn’t know, Jennifer. I swear… I didn’t know we were going to meet Ms. Miller tomorrow at the office.”

Jennifer frowned, and requested a pot of coffee for the group. She pressed her fingers against her forehead.

“Kass, you have good intentions, I know, but sometimes you get ahead of yourself,” Jennifer sighed. “This is why I wanted you to walk away from the case.”

“I know…” Kass hung her head. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t sweat it, kid,” Delores piped up. “And don’t be so hard on her, Jennifer. She’s doing what you pay her to and then some. I wish I had ten more like her with the guts to call an expert in to confirm some information for me. Her boldness shows imitative and passion. I seem to recall someone else like that…” her brown eyes twinkled mischievously. “…in law school.”

“You’re supposed to be a filing intern, Kass, not a private detective,” Jennifer waved her hands. “…but we’re in this together. No more cutting out the big boss, okay?”

“You got it,” Kass grinned, and breathed a sigh of relief.

Over the next hour, Jennifer explained she confirmed the DNA results at an independent lab and combed through Madison’s financial records, discovering additional details that flagged her suspicions. She also revealed she had hired Victoria Andrews discreetly to follow up on some leads regarding the Madison case like discreetly questioning the people listed on the police report the night of Madison’s death and attempting to locate the witness – the lady in red from Big Box Superstore.

Tori discovered the woman was also seen at the Landgrabb Sell n’ Swap on July eleventh. Kass gasped. She was the same woman in the store when she first approached Horace Horner regarding her bisnonna’s brooch? Then it wasn’t Bella Goth, but she did recall something about the woman was familiar. Her heart sank. She had hoped. But there wasn’t any way she wouldn’t recognize her idol… even all those years after her infamous disappearance right?

So does that mean the Bella lookalike came back to Horace’s shop recently? Which might mean… her heart pounded in excitement. She slowed her breathing, trying to calm down. Two different cases, Kass. Two different, but related cases? And did that negate the whole bizarre Madison – push pins – poster – travel agency – law firm – Bella Goth connection? While Delores cross referenced Jennifer’s information with Kass’s data, Kass filled the ladies in on her attempts to find the brooch. When she mentioned Detectives Hunter and Goddard, she could see the recognition dawn in Delores’ eyes if only for a fleeting second as she glanced up from the notes.

“The same detectives working the Madison case?” Jennifer inquired as Delores handed the papers back to her clients.

“Uh, yes,” Kass frowned. “All done? That was fast.”

“Cursory stuff really,” Delores replied. “I can do more tomorrow.”

“Did you find anything?” Kass asked.

“Well, yes,” Delores smiled. “I found the WBAN numbers.”

“In Madison’s financial records?” Jennifer said, excitedly.

“What is a WBAN number?” Kass asked.

“World Bank Account Number,” Delores replied. “An alphanumeric code used to identify banking information, usually a country identifying code, transaction number, sorting code, etcetera. They are useful for determining the exact location of funds at any one given time.”

“Great! How does that help us?” Kass inquired.

Jennifer’s eyes lit up. “You can tell us the exact bank and account where these transactions took place? And we have the dates from Kass’ information.”

Kass beamed, glad to feel useful.

“Yes, and I can tell you exactly who withdrew money and where it went and to whom,” Delores said, glancing around and lowering her voice. “But not here… tomorrow. Jennifer, you can get a court order in the morning?”

“Yes,” Jennifer bobbed her head.

“For what?” Kass interjected.

“I have half a mind,” Jennifer said, quietly. “To pull the entire department’s financial records.”

“If the judge lets you, do it,” Delores replied. “This kind of scheme is exactly the kind of case I consult on. Consider me hired. And I’m expensive. The Sandcastle Resort good for you?” she smirked.

Jennifer laughed. “You wish. You’ve been in town for over a month.”

“Yeah,” Delores stretched. “But the Sandpiper Motel isn’t the same.”

“Over a month?” Kass puzzled, and then gasped. “The clinic! You were at the clinic?”

“Yes, so?” Delores tilted her head.

“Looking for Hunter?” Kass probed, and tucked a hair behind her ear. “A Detective Hunter, perhaps?”

“At the Sun Valley Clinic?” Delores squinted her eyes. “Oh yes, but it’s classified.”

“Classified?” Kass sputtered. “Wait… what department? Are we talking the police department? Jennifer…” she whipped her gaze to her boss. “What’s going on?”

Jennifer sighed. “Kass, I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

“But!”

“But…” Jennifer lifted her hand. “For now…go home.”


Author Notes: Thanks for reading.  I hope you enjoyed the never-before-published images.  I’ve been waiting to use them for awhile. I really do love that Kass is surrounded by strong, independent, successful career women in these last few chapters. Woot! Delores Miller is actually a social worker in game from Roaring Heights, but in my story, she’s a financial consultant and forensic accountant. Yay Tax Shelters! is actually a business book in TS3. You can learn more about forensic accounting here.

I’m sure I got some of the details wrong, but we’ll call it creative liberties. 🙂 WBAN is my Simworld version of IBAN (International Bank Account Number). We don’t use them in the US, but they do in other parts of the world. I thought it would be useful for story purposes to include it. Maybe I rushed some stuff and it’s a bit implausible how everything came together, but I feel like it’s time to get moving on resolving loose ends and solving the mysteries, and again, I’ll cite creative liberties. Hope you enjoyed. 

1.102, Pt. 1: Tenacity (KCLKF)

Wednesday, July 4, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

After she returned the package to Jennifer, Kass offered to stay and watch the results. Her boss shook her head and told Kass to go home. The shift was over, and she wanted her protege to rest up and return the Friday morning with fresh eyes. Kass dragged her heels, suggesting she make popcorn and they order in some takeout dinner, but Jennifer insisted. She needed to make her case, and she worked best alone. Kass reluctantly agreed and left for the evening.

She could even sort-of understand it, the compulsive desire to find the truth and the need to work theories in solitude. Kass had a few of her own side projects – like the empty notebook with a personal inscription to Kass and the travel poster with its obscure connection to a law office and Bella Goth. She wasn’t ready to head home yet, but her grumbling stomach indicated dinner was in order. She set up in a booth at Hogan’s Deep-Fried Diner, ordered a garden salad, plate of garlic fries, and a diet cola.

After applying the invisible ink cocktail on Sunday evening, she managed to pull lines of text out from the cotton blend pages. None of the numbers and words made sense. Most of it appeared to be unrelated and entered in a strange order. Kass flipped through the pages again today, hoping to draw meaning from the content. There had to be a reason Madison ditched this journal. There had to be a reason for leaving the words “If found, please return to Kassiopeia Fullbright,” in normal print and hiding the rest of the text. It couldn’t be a coincidence that the journal was found in the bathroom with the receipt from Big Box. Clarie Ursine confessed to kicking over the trash can when she angrily destroyed roses from Jared, which is what prompted Kass to go digging through the trash in the first place, which led to the superstore, which led to confirming Madison did purchase the items.

Kass plucked the crumpled receipt from the file folder in her side bag. She narrowed her eyes and looked at the figures, hoping to make sense of the objects. Maroon push pins. Cornflower blue nail polish. Baby rattlesnake skin jacket. Leather bound journal. All for the grand total of… her eyes widened as her gaze zeroed in on the total bill, particularly how the purchases were paid for. A partial credit card number… which most likely matched the card Madison used. But there was something about the sequential numbers that cued Kass into the meaning of the numbers and letters in the journal.

These are account numbers! she realized, excitedly. And the shorter numbers represent dates. Kass flipped through the pages hurriedly. 24150702 – February 7, 2415. 24150505 – May 5, 2415. 24152206 – June 22, 2415. All dates from this year, corresponding with twelve digit accounts, except for the last one. It was nine digits, three shy. Hmm… Kass frowned.

“Order up!” the chef shouted.

“Wait,” Kass lifted her hand, collecting her things, and relocating to the counter. “Thanks Tamara,” she nodded to the waitress as the other woman delivered her dinner.

She ate quickly, then pulled her laptop from her side bag. Opening a NetQuest browser, she searched for the top ten banks in the SimNation. Bank of the East. Sims National Bank. National Mutual Trust. Landgrabb Financial Services. Bank of Rongel. First National Corporation. Windham Financial. Countryside Group. Simciti Bank. Wright & Company Bank. 

Kass waved hello to Tori Andrews, who stopped in to order some dinner for her family. After they exchanged pleasantries, Kass began perusing each bank’s website for a list of common routing numbers. Fifty five minutes later, she found the one she was looking for – the last number was a routing number for Landgrabb Financial Services.

“Tamara, bring me another diet cola please,” she waved her hand and smiled at her discovery.

The routing number was assigned to the northern Valverde area, but it was a start. There was a branch right in Sunset Valley. She glanced at her watch. Daggumit! It was after closing. Kass couldn’t visit the bank until the morning. She sighed and dropped her head against her closed laptop lid. What would it solve going there tonight?

“Mrs. Andrews?” she flagged down the woman, grateful she was still there. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure,” Tori replied. “And please, call me Tori.

“Okay, Tori, I need your professional advice so if you can’t give it to me off the clock,” Kass began.

Tori placed her hand on her hip. “My professional opinion, huh? What’s the question?”

“Well, in your professional opinion,” Kass lowered her voice as Tori settled onto the next neon green barstool. “…why would someone keep a record of bank account numbers and dates?”

“Hmm… that’s a tough one,” Tori rubbed her chin. “Are you in some kind of trouble, Kass?”

Kass paled and shook her head vigorously. “Oh no… it’s not for me. Or about me… uh… it’s for work… with Jennifer.”

Tori grinned. “I heard you were working for Ms. Martinez. She’s a fine attorney,” she cracked her knuckles. “Well for the legal aid office… I’ll give you this one for free.”

“Thank you,” Kass sighed in relief.

“It could be a record of transactions, legal or illicit,” Tori began. “If you don’t have any other details, it could be anything really, deposits or withdrawals or transfers.”

“If it was for something illicit, in your experience, what would be the top reasons for keeping that kind of information?” Kass inquired.

Tori shrugged. “I don’t know. Embezzlement? Money laundering? Cheque kiting? Or it could just be deposits,” she reached over and grabbed the white paper to-go bag from the waitress. “This is dinner. Jordan will throw a fit if the hamburger isn’t hot.”

“I get it,” Kass nodded. “Sorry to bother you.”

“No worries,” Tori said, plucking a business card from her pocket. “Say I have a friend who’s a forensic accountant. She’s in town for the week and might be able to help you and Jennifer out.”

Kass sighed and tugged on her blazer.  “Thanks.”


Author Notes: Thanks for reading. Hogan’s Deep-fried Diner is a remodel of Itoole’s Happy’s Diner. Tamara Donner happened to be in the background here and so I included her as the waitress.Victoria ‘Tori’ Andrews also made a convenient appearance. The list of banks is totally fictional, with Bank of the East as a pun for Bank of the West and Countryside Group as a play on Citigroup. Finally some info on the mysterious notebook. More never-before-seen pics from my game. Hope you enjoyed. 

…a lot can change in 6 weeks!