Tag Archives: Amalia “Amy” Riviera

A Visit to Sunset Valley: Questions from the Fans

Hi everyone, it’s been a hot minute since I posted here. I’m still working on setting up my TS3 game for the next story in Kass’ series. In the meantime, I have  some fun questions given to me by members of my Freezer Bunnies Reading Circle over on the forums.   I was going to answer everything over on the forums, but then it got a bit carried away so I’m sharing here for all my readers.  I sent my TS3 Simself to be the snoopy reporter and ask questions of this delightful cast.

Disclaimer: The answers are given based on where said reading circle is at in KCLKF (up through  Arc 12 or  chapter 1.33).  Really mild spoilers if you haven’t read that far.  Oh and a bit of breaking-the-fourth-wall humor.  Shout-out to all my reading circle peeps (you’re all mentioned below somewhere). Minor edit… apologies to Duvelina for not crediting her correctly. 


It’s a beautiful morning in Sunset Valley, Valverde.   The world appears to be peaceful as it is  just after the morning rush hour.  You can hear the low roar of ocean waves crashing against the soft sandy beaches and sweet sounds of swallows as they gather their families for the juicy gossip on the telephone wires.  No, not our gossip. Theirs. You know – like did you hear that  Chirpy McChatterbox was heard making amorous ticking sounds toward Hooty Howlin’ near the movie theater last weekend?  😉

While there are some clouds in sight, the skies are bright and beautiful.  Nothing can beat that tranquil blue!  I pause for a moment to drink in the sites, trying to ignore the Altos hideous Pepto-Bismol pink house on the hill. Tossing my empty paper cup  into the trash, I pop a mint to avoid coffee breath and head toward Central Park in downtown.

Gave my TS3 Simselfie a makeover… and put her in my favorite red plaid shirt. 🙂 Forgive what’s happening to Kass’ necklace here. I have no clue why it bugged out.

I caught up with the star  of The Krazy Crazy Life of Kassiopeia Fullbright.  We met on a park bench near the pond. I have to say it is a unique experience chatting with a character I’ve created.

Lizzie:  Hey Kass. Thanks for making time for this.

Kass: Sure. It’s an honor to chat with you, Lizzie.

Lizzie: No, the honor is mine. You’ve really brought my vision to life, and you’ve had some excellent input of your own . You’ve really taken charge of your life.

Kass: (smiles shyly) Wow… really? Um… that’s great to… hear. I haven’t been too sure… about a lotta things lately.

Lizzie: Well, let’s dive right in. Hope you don’t mind the cameras.

Kass: Not at all. I’m kinda used to them by now.

Lizzie: Really? They’re kinda weird for me. (clears throat) Okay… so first question is from ajmkv, writer and host of  the popular competitive reality TV show, Kev & Get It.

Kass:  Wow! He is a KCLKF fan?  Love that show. Ayesh and I watch it almost as religiously as Specific Hospital.

Lizzie: (smirks) I know. I can’t get enough of the juicy juicy drama.

Kass: (tilts head) Really? You strike me as more of a thriller and suspense kind-of gal.

Lizzie: (grins sheepishly) Guilty pleasure. Actually… if I’m being honest… a pleasure, pleasure. Not guilty at all. I also like a good fantasy. You should check out Tales from Camelot. Fantasy mixed with some excellent suspense.

Kass:  (pulls out her phone) Bookmarking it now.

Lizzie: Alright… the questions – ajmkv says, “A lot happened to you in these (most recent) Arcs. Lots of emotion, both negative and positive. Trying to stay positive, what is it that you’re most looking forward to in the next few days?”

Her expression brightens. She looks relieved by the question. Her face lights up with a smile and a flush creeps into her cheeks.

Kass: I… I’m really happy with my new boyfriend. His name is Davis, as you know.  I couldn’t have gotten through what I did recently without him.

Lizzie: He did seem to help out a lot, especially during that harrowing night  at your house.

Kass: Yeah… that mess… (laughs awkwardly) I’m just hoping for some down-time… baseball-free… with Davis.

Lizzie: Next question is from MercuryFoam of the exciting supernatural  thriller, Between 2 Worlds.

Kass: (places hand on her stomach and gasps) Cool! I had no idea so many writers were into my story. And Between 2 Worlds is awesome!

Lizzie: (smiles) I know how much you like crime stories.

Kass: Are you kidding? I have a huge collection back at the house. I don’t have enough bookcases.

Lizzie: Tell me about it.  I think I need a whole room devoted to my behemoth library.

We both laugh lightly, completely at ease with one another. I couldn’t imagine a better person to carry out this story near and dear to my heart.

Lizzie: Actually whoops! Didn’t read my notes correctly.  Sorry about that.  Duvelina asks,  “Do you know what you want to study in college already?”

Kass: (cracks her knuckles) Heh… you’d think I would’ve made up my mind by now, right? I’m a down-to-the-wire kinda girl, you know.

Lizzie: Yes, I do. (points to self) Fatal flaw.

Kass: Yeah. I thought about business like Nonno.  Though flipping houses isn’t exactly what I’m thinking. Maybe something like business… law? I don’t know. (bites lower lip) Is that too ambitious?

Lizzie: Not at all. If you put your mind to it.

Kass: Thanks. I also thought about communications like you, or writing. I think I did pretty good at writing for the school paper. And I guess I could always teach.

Lizzie: Duvelina also asks… wow! I really didn’t read that right. Must not have had enough coffee this morning. Not a morning person.

Kass: Go by the Jolt later. Granny Jade will fix you up.

Lizzie: Thanks. Okay.  Duvelina’s question – “Where do you see yourself in  5 to 10 years? How do you feel about moving away from Sunset Valley for college?”

Kass: (smiles and scrunches her nose) Yeah, everyone’s kinda asking me that now days.  Standard adult question I guess.

Lizzie: Something like that.

Kass: I can definitely answer that last one. I am excited, but also nervous. I’ve wanted to go to Edgewater for the last four years of my life. Nonno is an alumnus and so is Davis. (flushes again) A lot of important people have graduated from there, and the town is home to my favorite Sim National football team.

Lizzie: (pumps fist in the air) Go Saints!

Kass:   I’m a little worried I’ll miss my friends… and my sisters… (expression sobers) Especially my sisters. I know how much they… uh… need me. But um… (rubs head) Five to ten years. That’s a long way out. I don’t know what I’m gonna have for dinner tomorrow night or where I might be crashing on the weekend. A lot’s going on around here. I don’t know if I can… answer that.   I mean, did you know what you wanted when you were my age?

Lizzie: (stops and thinks for a minute) I had ideas… I  planned on studying communications. I bounced around for a bit in college and came back to communications. No. I guess I didn’t know where I saw myself in five to ten years after college. Sure didn’t expect to be where I am now, but I’m blessed.

Lizzie: I can give you some advice. Don’t be afraid to experiment. To try new things and different things. Find a mentor. Someone who can help you talk through what you want, your interests, the future. Don’t worry too much about the people you leave behind. This is your time. Enjoy your uni years. They go by quick. Sometimes it takes awhile to know what you want.  You’ll figure it out, Kass. I believe in you.

Kass: Thank you.

Lizzie: I couldn’t ask for a better leading lady.

Kass: (puts hand to heart) I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

Next I headed to Papyrus Memorial Library. Andi was there, studying. She pulled out her earbuds when I arrived.

Lizzie: What are you listening to?

Andi:  Tchaikovsky’s  Waltz of Flowers from The Nutcracker.  (smiles) It helps me concentrate. It’s early, but I’m looking forward to cooler temperatures.

Lizzie: Hey, no judging here. Today’s pretty nice though.

Andi: Really? (looks out the window) I’ve been cooped up in here for awhile. I saved up simos to get a laptop, but our internet at home is snail’s pace so I came here.

Lizzie: You can’t be studying, can you? School’s out.

Andi: Summer school. I’m taking Calc I and II just to get them over with.

Lizzie: (clicks her tongue) Ah. Math!

Andi: It’s not so bad. It’s actually kinda fun.

Lizzie: (laughs) Says you… that’s cool you saved up for a laptop.

Andi: Yeah, the next thing I want to do is save up to visit Liz Ridley’s restaurant in Brindleton Bay. That’ll be a good chunk of moula.

Lizzie:  Oh, she and I share the same name. And yes, I’ve heard her food is to die for!  Okay, hey, the reason I’m here is  your fans have asked some questions.

Andi: You mean someone likes my music?

Lizzie: Sort of. It’s from ajmkv: “What’s it like to be so wise? Tell me your secrets, queen!”

Andi: (throws hands in the air) Uh…. what? I’m not… wise… (blushes deeply) not like… wait… really? Someone said that about me?

Lizzie: (smiles and nods)

Andi: (gasps and gulps) Uh my secrets? I dunno… I’m just me…

Andi: (stands up abruptly and looks at her naked wrist) Uh… (forces a laugh) Would you look at the time? I just remembered I have brunch plans.

Lizzie: What about the question?

Andi: I don’t even know how to answer that.  (quickly gathers her personal items and makes an exit)

Next I managed to catch Ayesha walking out of Sharma Day Spa.

Lizzie: Hey girl!

Ayesha: (turns and grins) Hey Liz, what’s up?

Lizzie: Oh not too much. Staying busy. Working a lot. Trying to keep up with the fans.

Ayesha: Sounds rough. What can I do you for?

Lizzie: Ajmkv would like to know: “WHERE ARE YOU, GIRL? I miss you!” (arches her brows) Ooo… I hope I did that right. I think I was practically screaming.

Ayesha:  (smiles and scrunches her face) Aww I miss you too… wait… who are you?

Lizzie: Ajmkv. He’s one of your fans.

I gave Ayesha a lip piercing in the second story. Honestly, I forgot all about it until I had to transfer over my saved Sims from my old game and I noticed it.

Ayesha: Right…  (strikes a pose)  oh I’ve got so many fans. It’s hard to keep track. And where have I been? (runs hand through her hair)  I just got a lip piercing. What do ya think?

Lizzie: Uh…

Ayesha: So did I like forget to give him my digits or something?

Lizzie: I think he means since Kass is busy with Davis and family drama, and then the  break-in that happened the other night.

Ayesha: Oh my gawd! What break-in? I gotta go call Kass.  Seriously, you holding out on me, Liz?

Lizzie: (winces) Not intentionally.

Ayesha: Oh and if you see my Mama… you never saw (points at her mouth) This! Or my… uh… (looks down) crop top… or ripped jeans… actually… (lifts finger) better say you didn’t see me.

Lizzie: (pretends to zip lips) Your secret is safe with me.  And it looks fab!

Ayesha: (runs away and waves) Thanks, girl! Oh and feel free to give ajmkv my digits. He can call anytime.

I have no idea what my Simself was doing here. And here’s the unedited Molly, River, and Sandi.

Since it was lunchtime, I headed across the street to load up on the greasy goodness of Hogan’s Deep-Fried Diner. Two words. Mozzarella balls. Take it from me. Try the Ranch. Not the marinara.

As I approach Gage, I recognize the two ladies he’s talking to as Molly French and River McIrish. The teen is carrying sweet baby Sandi.

Gage: Yes, and I just got accepted to Northwestern in Windy City.

This version of Gage is wearing glasses. Okay… I learned something new. He usually wears contacts, I guess. 😉

Lizzie: (pumps fist in the air and jumps up and down) Whoo! Whoo! Go  Wiley Wildcats!

Gage: (arches a brow) Uh yeah! Wildcats!

Lizzie: Sorry I’m in a school spirit mood today.

Molly: And you are?

Gage: This is Lizzie. We go way back. She gave me a chance in The Krazy Crazy Life

Lizzie: Yeah, Gage was the first character to crash my story. And  I let him.

Molly and River laugh awkwardly. They say goodbye. Now’s my chance to ask Gage some questions.

I have no idea why my Simself always looks gigantic. I’m not that tall. Haha.

Gage sneezes.

Lizzie: Ah, bless you. Someone is thinking of you.  Which is perfect… I have questions for you from fans.

Gage:  Sure.

Lizzie: First up from MercuryFoam – “You were determined to get to know your roots better, but when you confessed to Kass, you told her you were alright with staying put and not pursuing your studies in… was it Riverview?”

Gage: (interrupts) No, Windy City! How could you forget?  I’ve only wanted to go to Northwestern my whole life!

Lizzie: Uh… I’m not finished. (continues reading)  “Anyway, what made you suddenly realise your feelings for Kass and I must say it’s surprisingly strong if you could make that comment. So I’d like if you could explain that part too.”

Gage: (blushes) Oh yeah, well, I’ve known Kass for a really long time. She was my first friend in Sunset Valley, and the only kid who was kind to me at church and school. Kid… haha. We’re adults now.

Gage: (lifts hand) I think it was when we went to homecoming together last October. I don’t know. I’d never looked at her that way before, but she was beautiful. And well… (scratches back of head) I think I’ve always cared about her. I just didn’t really realize it until I knew we were both gonna be apart. I do want to meet my family and stuff, but I’d like to have some nice memories with Kass before she leaves and I leave. You know… and I think, we could be really good together. And sometimes people can make long distance work, right?

Lizzie: Next question from ajmkv – “What do you think of Madison? Or you at all interested in her? Or could you be if Kass said no to your advances?”

Gage: (waves arms) Wait… Kass said no?

Lizzie: I didn’t say that. Uh… she hasn’t answered you yet.

Gage: Why would she say no?

Lizzie: Gage, did you miss the question?

Gage: She isn’t going to say no is she?

Lizzie: (sighs and puts hands toward her chest) Gage, focus. The question. Madison???

Ah vanilla Sunset Valley! What wild patterns on that wall at the gym! And the room is so bare and empty.

Unfortunately, Gage wandered off muttering under his breath about calling Kass. Uh oh! I may have lit a fuse too early. It didn’t matter. After that deep-fried lunch, I was in the mood to work off some calories. I headed to 28-Hour Wellness Gym and ran into none other than Davis. He shyly told me he didn’t feel comfortable swimming in the Riviera’s pool so he worked out here at the public gym.

Davis: Hi Lizzie. It’s good to see you.

Kass: Yeah, good to see you too. I have a question for you from ajmkv.

Davis: Is that one of the guys who hangs out in the coffee shop?

Kass: A virtual reading circle actually.

Davis: Okay. Shoot.

Kass: Ajmkv asks – “What about Kass do you like the most so far? We’ve all noticed you staring at her in her swimsuit, at her luscious red hair, and her pretty face, but what would you pick as her best attribute?”

I was so mad! Hearts appeared around Lizzie and Davis. GAH! NO! Not cool. I even have a retuned attraction mod so I know when Sims hearts appear, they “really” like each other. Oh… well… I guess I have a type.  😳 This is even pre-Davis makeover. Haha.

Davis: Oh a gentleman never kisses and tells.

Lizzie: This isn’t about kissing. (suddenly a little flustered***) Who said anything about kissing?

Davis: I think it’s a bit personal,  but I’ll say this… Kass is more than her beauty. She’s a kind and intelligent woman who goes above and beyond for the people she cares about. I really like and admire her for that. And she’s close with her family. It’s really beautiful to watch. I’m not sure about her mom though. She’s… it’s not my place to judge actually.

Lizzie: So her best… attribute? (wondering if it’s hot in here all the sudden – all that pool humidity)

Davis: Definitely the way she takes care of others.

Note the danger! 🤭

I made a quick exit, suddenly feeling weird about shapes randomly appearing above my head. What next? Thought bubbles!

Before heading to the Fullbright-Riviera home, I had one more spot in downtown – Community School for the Gifted. Maybe I could take take a cool dip in the school pool. But before that, I poked my head into the janitor’s closet. Just to take a quick look around.

Lizzie: Ah ha!  Found you!

Clark: (startled, drops hands in lap) Don’t sneak up on a person like that, Liz.

Lizzie: Sorry. Uh hey… ajmkv would like to know – “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU SNEAKY SAUSAGE?” (rubs throat) Oh, that’s hard on the voicebox.  Do you have any water?

Clark: (looks confused) Sneaky? Sau-sage? (crosses arms and spins around on his stool)  No, I’m not even going to dignify that with an answer.

I head over to the Fullbright-Riviera residence. Carina is just getting home from her afternoon shift at the movies. She picked up a second summer job at Wilsonoff Community Theater, saving money for some concert tickets that she and her bestie want to attend.  She motions to the adjacent lounge chair. As I sit down, I notice Cari was kind enough to bring us snacks.

Cari: Andi said you were in town.

Lizzie: Thanks for the soda.

Cari: What? No popcorn!

Lizzie: No… yuck!  No offense. But I hate butter popcorn.

Cari: (sighs) You and Kass both.

Carina took a phone call. How rude, right? A Sim wouldn’t stay where she was supposed to. *face palm*

Lizzie:  Carina, will you get off the phone so I can ask you a question?

Cari: And you’re not gonna believe it, Lisa! We had an INTRUDER! Twice. I thought I would lose my mind, but Kass like tore off after the guy like a mamma bear protecting cubs. I thought she’d break her ankle running down that hill. Oh and Kass’ new guy is really cool. He stayed and made sure we were all okay.

Lizzie: Cari!

Cari: Wait, omg! I didn’t tell you. Yeah, Kass is dating this dish. He’s super hot and…

Lizzie: (clears throat) CARINA!

Cari: (turns around and glares) Oh, gotta go Lisa. Somebody’s in need of something… I know… again.

Lizzie: (shakes head)

Cari: What is it? Make it snappy. I’m in demand.

Lizzie: Do you mind answering a question from a reader?

Cari: Make it quick. I got things to do. Namely like have you heard the dish on the Villareals lately?  It may be a work of fiction, but I don’t care. This is juicy stuff.  I, for one, want to know if Hugo is ever going to find out what’s going on with Nelson.

Lizzie: (giggles) I wonder that too, but Cari, focus, girl. Okay… ajmkv would like to know… “Are you upset that you’ve had to take a caretaking role in your household? Buying the groceries and things like that, I mean. Do you wish Kass and/or Andi should help out a little bit more or do you not mind doing these things?”

Cari: (rolls eyes)  Like for reals? I am invaluable around here and I put in soooooo much effort and do I ever get thanked for it? Like no… like never!

Lizzie: Cari that wasn’t the question.

So I asked my real-life sister, whom Carina is based on, which of the Too Good at Goodbye characters she found attractive. I just showed her pictures and she picked Hugo.

Cari: I know, right? So I wish my sisters wouldn’t be so obsessed with their boy toys, but whachagonnado? They’re at that age. (looks at her nails)

Lizzie: (beneath her breath) You’re at that age!

Cari: I guess I have to live vicariously through my magazines. Hugo. He’s got a lot of loving, but man, is he nice to look at!

Lizzie: (looks away thinking about her “weird” connection earlier) Uh….

Cari: Okay, I’ll say this. (straightens in seat) Kass isn’t half bad and she does do stuff… sometimes. (glares) But don’t tell her I said that!

The day and my questions are drawing to a close. Cari told me that her mamma was most likely sleeping all day again, even though it was nearly four in the afternoon.  I hesitated when I heard sniffling.

Lizzie: Amy?

Amy: (muffled) What? Who is it? Go away?

Lizzie: Amy, it’s me. Lizzie. I have some questions from readers for you.

Amy: (gasps) Readers? Is that like some cult thing? Palm readers? Mind readers? Not interested.

Lizzie: No… not a cult. A club. Or a circle. That is…  uh readers… like people who read stories, you know?

Amy: Not now, Lizzie. I’m not decent. Um… and why are they reading about me?

Lizzie: Are you willing to answer their questions?

Amy: Like what?

Lizzie: Let’s start with something light and fun. Mercuryfoam asks: “Sorry for super personal and intrusive question, but am I right to assume Clark the first man you’ve been with since Howard?”

Amy: (straightens immediately)  That is very personal. Yes. He’s the first man I’ve dated since my ex.

Lizzie: Okay, continuing… “Why do you find him attractive? (Besides his accent and guitar playing ofc).”

Amy: What accent? (sighs and rubs her face) I’m getting a headache. Can you hurry this up?

Lizzie: But you didn’t answer the question.

Amy: I don’t know why this is important. I’m tired. I need to get some things done today. Okay uh…  (shakes head) Clark takes good care of me. And my girls. They don’t see that yet, but he does and he will. He’s a good man. They just need to give him a chance.

Lizzie: Not exactly the answer I was looking for, but that’s better than nothing. Okay, next question. ajmkv asks: “What was running through your mind after THAT confrontation with Andi? Was it like your body took over?”

Amy: (softly starts crying)

Lizzie: (sighs and silently leans into the wall) Amy, are you okay?

Amy: (snaps)  I don’t have to justify myself to you! Or to anyone! Oh! (covers her face)

Lizzie: Amy, will you let me in?

Forgive my laziness. I didn’t reset up the Amy’s room like it was before. Nor did I add curtains everywhere. Eek!

After what feels like eternity, Amy opens the door and lets me walk into the bedroom. She explains that it’s very plain right now because she’s redecorating. A minimalist. I guess I hit the set later on in the story. I don’t really pay any attention to the surroundings. I’m more concerned about the woman who is obviously in pain.

Amy: I’m so ashamed. I hit my own daughter. Now they all hate me and they’ll probably never come back. Oh what have I done?

Lizzie: Hey now… it’s okay. Cari is actually out on the porch.

Amy: She is? Oh… don’t let her see me. I’m a terrible mother.

Lizzie: (sighs) I’m not a mother unless you count four cats.

Amy: (peeks out from behind her hand) You have four cats?

No clue what happened to her nightgown there. 😅

Lizzie: (half-smiles and sits on the bed) Yeah, but the point is, I’m not a mother so I don’t fully understand the pressure you’re under, but I know it’s a lot. And I think you’re trying and maybe someone like Clark is…try-ing… to help ease the burden, hmm?

Amy: Yeah, he is pretty helpful. The girls don’t know it yet, but he’s really good with kids. Kind. Patient. A good provider. I… miss… that around here. I feel like I’ve slowly lost myself over the years and he’s helping me come back. And now I just lost it last night when someone violated our home, and I was scared. I wasn’t thinking.

Lizzie: You were concerned and scared last night. I get it.

Amy: (buries her face in her hands) That’s no excuse for violence. My mamma never hit me.

Lizzie: I’m sure the girls will forgive you.

Amy: (whispers) I hope so.

Again… towering Lizzie for the win! Don’t worry. I fixed it after this scene.

Lizzie: It’s gonna be okay, Amy. You’ll work things out with them in time.

Amy: Isn’t that a spoiler?

Lizzie: (smirks and looks at her shoes) Yeah, maybe it is. I don’t care. I think it’s okay to give the readers some hope.

Amy: (hugs herself) Yeah, alright. Hey, you wanna stay for dinner?

Lizzie: What’s for dinner?

Amy: Waffles.

Lizzie: (laughs) Sure, I’ve heard all about Amy’s famous burnt waffles.


Author Notes: That’s all for now, folks! Thanks for reading. Feel free to send more questions if you like.   What other things would you like to see? Would you like to see more interviews? More of my TS3 Simselfie running around? A sneak peek at my character and townie makeovers? Shorts in the KCLKF world? I’m enjoying messing around in my game.  

1.130 Zero Chances (KCLKF)

Saturday, July 28, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde 

It was the longest week of her life. Kass pulled her legs to her chest as she soaked in her parental’s bathtub. The water had long since become tepid, but she didn’t mind. She needed a moment’s peace. The spare bathroom was her haven, safe from intrusion.

Her family and friends were naturally concerned, but she couldn’t take the smothering any longer. They constantly asked how she was doing, how she felt, what she wanted to do. How in Hades was she supposed to know? And even if she did, did she really want to tell them? To draw them into her constant nightmare parade? And worst of all… she was supernatural? It was all too surreal. As Dr. Bachelor had stated, she was not the biological child of Howard and Amy. She couldn’t be. Neither had otherworldly genes… and it was hereditary.

Kass flexed her fingers beneath the water and wondered if she would ever think about normal things again like what color to paint her toenails. She couldn’t sleep without seeing his face, without feeling the flames licking at her neck, her arms, her back. She glared at the purplish bruises, naked and exposed, and wished she could will the ugly reminders away. Huffing, she pulled the drain plug and stepped from the tub. The week had been strange and she felt herself reliving the moments, an unwilling hostage of her own thoughts and memories.

Monday, July 23, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde 

“We need to talk.”

Kass stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her face bore some cuts and bruises – her left eyebrow, her right cheekbone, and the lower edge of her chin. She tried not to cry over the ugly reminders of her awful ordeal. Dr. Bachelor was seated on the edge of her hospital bed, head resting against her palm, elbow resting on her thigh. Her tone was serious and she appeared to be pondering what to say.

“How long…” Kass grimaced. “…will I have these?” she winced as she touched the cut on her face.

“Oh,” Dr. Bachelor said. “I brought you some tinted antibiotic cream to help with the healing and to cover it up.”

“Thank you,” Kass forced a smile.

This was her new face. Her new hair. Her new reality. She had a feeling long after the outer scars faded she would still have the internal ones.

“Kass, what happened to you and how you escaped was nothing short of a miracle,” Dr. Bachelor began. “I’m a woman of science, but I believe there are things in this world beyond explanation. And I’m going to level with you. You should be dead.”

“I…” Kass dropped her hands to her side. “I.. know.” She somehow did. Her escape defied logic and reason. “Divine intervention?” she shrugged, thinking of her idea to form a cross.

“No,” Dr. Bachelor shook her head. “I think it’s something more. You inhaled smoke for over forty minutes and didn’t pass out. Furthermore, your lungs are clear. They aren’t damaged like someone who would’ve inhaled the amount of smoke you did.”

“I… got… lucky…” Kass stammered.

“Your throat has minor burning sensation, but it also is mostly clear. Your skin cuts and bruises are mostly superficial,” Dr. Bachelor continued. “You forced open two hundred pound doors and you’re only one hundred and twenty five, and while you’re in relatively good shape… Your muscles are strained, but not torn. And to top it all off, you leapt ten feet…. ten feet… through the air over burning flames,” Dr. Bachelor listed and pinched the bridge of her nose.

“I… was hit…” Kass rubbed the back of her head. “Twice… and I’ve got a concussion. I’m not Superman!” she chuckled weakly.

“No, but I think you’re super…natural,” Dr. Bachelor replied. “There’s no good way to say this…” she sighed. “You did things that aren’t humanly possible. One or two of these things alone could slide on the miracle front, but all of them?”

“What are you saying?” Kass frowned.

“I’ve only ever seen this kind of thing… once…” Dr. Bachelor trailed off. “…I think we need to conclude that Howard Fullbright and Amy Riviera are not your real parents.”

“Dad?”

Her voice was hoarse. The words felt strange. Kass stared at her hands, trying to ignore the scabs on her fingers. She tried to ignore the soul crushing burden of learning her parents weren’t really her parents. Somehow hearing Howard’s voice made things all better.

Kass… I just heard. Are you okay? I’m on my way to the hospital now.

“Yeah… I’m… okay…” she sighed. “I’m alive.”

My gawd! Kass… I… what do you need? Anything. Anything at all. I’m so sorry, sweetie.”

A tear splashed her cheek. Another hit her hand. How could she even ask anything of him? Did he know? One of them had to know. Her mamma had to know. Who were her real parents? Was she abandoned? Adopted? How did it happen? How could they keep something like this from her? She had a million questions and not enough answers, but her father… the man who had helped raise her… was waiting for one from her.

“Daddy?” she said, her voice cracking. “Do you still want to take that road trip?”

Tuesday, July 24, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde 

Two am rolled around again and she had yet to see any sleep. Kass grunted in frustration, whacking the bed with her fists. Her mattress had done nothing to incite her rage, but it was a convenient target. She wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. Instead, she huffed and rolled out onto the floor, deliberately and with force.

Great! she despaired. She probably created even more bruises with her intentional fall, and she hoped she hadn’t alerted anyone she was still awake. For the past week, she had slept little at night. The daytime offered more relief.

Hearing voices she approached the window. Her mamma and her mother’s boyfriend sat on the porch steps. Clark rubbed Amy’s shoulders, and tried to reassure her that everything would be okay. Kass sighed. He seemed like a good guy. Misguided, but good. He meant well.

Clark had been horrified when he learned of the ring. He begged Kass’ forgiveness and stated that he had no idea of its history. He never would have given her the ring if he had known. Never. He had no idea he was endangering Kass’s life.

Clark was actually a highly decorated undercover state police officer who had been sent to conduct his own investigation of the Alto family. Pretending to be a recent immigrant from Albergia, he gained access to the janitorial staff at the high school where Jazzilyn had rented a second, secret office. Once he convinced her to hire him as a bodyguard, Clark gained access to her inner circle. From there, he obtained evidence of Jazzilyn’s shady mafia connections and her husband’s embezzlement.

At least her bisnonna’s brooch… the real one surfaced. Clark discovered that Joel had broken into their home on orders from Hank, but when he failed to retrieve what he was looking for… the Masonic ring… Hank, himself, came back and tried to find it. The brooch had been a poor consolation prize, something to make it appear as though it was a normal break-in. As if break-ins are normal. 

“What am I going to do?” Amy moaned and rubbed her face. “Papà hired an attorney for Kass. The best. Do you think she’ll have to testify?”

Kass stepped back from the window, her heart thudding to the ground. Testify? It hadn’t even occurred to her that she would have to face her monster again.

“And can she even go away to university now?” Amy continued, as if talking to herself. “No…she’ll have to stay here now. Right? If the courts call her?”

“Maybe it’s best she gets out of town,” Clark said. “She could probably use the break. You could come up to Oakland for the rest of the summer. You can stay with the boys and I. I haven’t sold the house yet up there.”

“Oh Clark! You’d do that?” Amy exclaimed, and threw grateful arms around her fiance’s shoulders.

“Yes,” he said. “Anything to protect you and the girls.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde 

“You shouldn’t skip breakfast,” Davis was saying.

It was mid-week. Fifty six hours since her traumatic near-death experience. Her boyfriend meant well, if that’s what he was. They hadn’t exactly had the “talk” again. Davis was just suddenly in her life again, kindly offering to take her out so she didn’t have to face another day with her family alone.

Clark was around twenty-four seven. He had practically moved in, but was sleeping on the couch. He thought it would make the girls more comfortable than sharing a room with their mother. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world to have him around. She supposed it was safer. But she would’ve preferred her mamma kept him behind closed doors as Clark’s boxer shorts were the last thing she wanted to see when she came into the living room to numb out to some television.

Davis offered to talk about her newest housemate and she obliged. It was better than talking about the fire. She didn’t want to think about it, even though she thought about her experience constantly. Even as she shared the cringe-worthy details of her mom making out on the couch with her fiance last night like a couple of teenagers, Kass couldn’t help but think about the burning in the back of her throat, the constant dull ache in her head, and the sharp stabbing in her side. Dr. Bachelor had said she was lucky, and she knew it. But even if she was lucky, it didn’t take away the emotional enigma of the circumstances. One moment she felt angry, lashing at out her loved ones, and the next, she collapsed like a frightened, confused child in a sea of tears.

“I’m eating now, aren’t I?” Kass snipped. “You don’t need to lecture me, Dr. Lamar.”

“I’m sorry, Kass,” Davis murmured, setting his juice box on the table. “I didn’t mean to… I just… want you to feel better…”

“Yeah,” Kass said, taking a bite of her chocolate croissant, which tasted more like dry air than sweet pastry. “Me too.”

“Say… you look…” he smiled and tilted his head. “…really pretty today.”

It was a lie. It had to be a lie. She wore an oversized sweater to hide the monstrous purple-black bruising on her chest and abdomen. She had somehow managed to twist her hair into a ratty braid, but skipped the makeup. Davis had suggested an afternoon at the beach after lunch at the Java Jolt. She planned to indulge him, eating as little as possible, and then feigning a migraine so she could go home and sleep some more. He would understand.

Thursday, July 25, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde 

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come in with you?”

Gage parked the car on the curb outside the Sun Valley Bank. Kass grimaced. She couldn’t stand his pitying stare, his guilt-ridden offer. She had only accepted a ride from him after he followed her for three blocks. She had planned to walk across town, or catch the bus.

Her former friend felt awful about his part in drawing her to the complex. It wasn’t his fault. Kass stuck her feet against his dashboard and tightened her shoelaces. It wasn’t his fault. She knew that. He had no idea that she would be captured at the hands of a madman several hours after arrival. Still, she knew he felt guilty.

Gage cried and asked for her forgiveness. He never meant to hurt her. He never meant to break up her relationship with Davis. He only wanted her to be happy. And he wanted to be happy. That’s why he was leaving in a week to pursue his dreams and move in with his family in Greatlakes. That argument about the Burroughs-Bagley family seemed so long ago. It didn’t matter now. What mattered was getting what was hers.

Kass pushed her sunglasses further up her nose. Her recent unorthodox experience made her distrust institutions. Even if the financial industry had nothing to do with the police department, she didn’t want to leave her money in its secure account. At the beginning of the summer, she had planned to close everything out when she transferred to Edgewater. The local financial institution didn’t have a branch in Bayou. She figured she would find another way to save her funds on arrival.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said, slamming the creaking door of his old Jalopy. “Thanks for the ride.”

Friday, July 25, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde 

“How’s your food?” Andi asked.

Kass sighed, twisting her finger around a strand of her red hair, shortened against her will. She wished her little sister wasn’t around. Then she could truly mourn her burnt locks. She could still smell the burning embers. Andromeda tried to pen musical compositions at the dining table, hovering while her big sister enjoyed her breakfast. Or was it lunch? Kass shook her head and took a reluctant bite. She lost all track of time. Was it really only a day since she came home from the hospital?

When the bread popped from the toaster, Kass had jumped as though someone shot a gun through the window. Andi didn’t seem to notice as she said the most polite substitute for a curse word ever, “Sugar!” and waved the smoke billowing from the top away with her hand, blowing gently on the charred slices. Kass winced and looked away, feeling stupid for freaking out over a kitchen appliance.

“Delicious,” Kass managed, sarcastically, dumping her plate in the sink.

She grabbed the remaining half loaf from its spot on the counter. Andi had forgotten to put it away. Kass didn’t want something that had been burnt. Andi murmured something apologetically, but Kass didn’t care. She thanked her sister, her tone cool and calm.

“I’ll be in my room.”

Saturday, July 28, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde 

It was all too surreal. Seeing the story she had given Mark Sydnor the week before. Kass sighed, wishing she could set down the paper, but she wanted to read it for herself. Tonight she met the Editor in Chief for the second time to give him the rest of her story. She figured if someone was going to leak her name, she wanted it to be someone she trusted. Mark gently probed, asking questions as respectfully as he could before he left the most recent copy of the Sun Valley Eagle, tomorrow’s paper with his subject. It seemed every page contained a story related to her night of terror.

The Alto Business Complex had burned to the ground. Despite Hank’s intentions, Bert Alto had escaped the fire. The police, the good guys, had discovered Bert was using his family’s casinos to launder money for the Triple C’s, the white collar crime that Madison had uncovered while dating her secret lover. Bert put on a good show. He cried. He said he was only doing it to save his marriage, that the money was to help cover his wife’s political campaign. They were bankrupt after her expensive fertility treatments. Like the coward he was, he skipped town rather than face charges.

Vita Alto had issued an emergency statement, ensuring the community that she would use all her power and resources to make sure the man responsible for so much terror and tragedy would receive justice. A picture of Hank’s face flashed on the news, and Kass couldn’t stomach it. She barely made it to the bathroom before she lost her dinner. Jazzilyn Alto had withdrawn her candidacy and turned herself into the police. She was to be deported to her home country and would potentially stand trial for involuntary manslaughter.

Strangely, Kass found herself feeling nothing but sympathy for the woman. It was Clark who had informed her that Jazzilyn made three phone calls that night. One to Hank’s partner, Detective Eugene Hunter, to tell him her brother was a madman and needed to be stopped. One to the fire department. And one to her attorney. Those phone calls had saved Kass’s life.

When she leapt out of the elevator, she fell into Detective Hunter’s arms. The man was assigned to investigate his partner and came running over to the building after receiving the call. Internal Affairs suspected Hank’s connection to the Mason Mafia and potentially the Triple C’s and needed proof. Detective Hunter was also the older brother of Clark Sauer. Hunter was actually his middle name.

“Kass, sweetheart,” Jade Wellington said as she approached and touched her on the shoulder. “What are you doing here?”

It took all her willpower to keep from jumping out of her skin. Kass swallowed hard and handed a handwritten letter to the lovely coffee shop owner whom she viewed as a surrogate grandmother like many in the town.

“Would you please give this to Davis?”

“Skipping town, are ya?”

Kass shrieked, falling against the glass back door of her mother’s house, loud enough to stir a couple of sleeping kittens from the nearby hydrangea bushes. Cyrus was sitting at the kitchen table, a slice of pizza poised in his hand ready to be eaten. Her expression darkened.

“I’m not hungry,” she said, coolly. “I don’t want pizza.”

“Good,” he grinned. “Because I’m starving. I haven’t eaten all day. This is for me,” he tilted his head toward the next seat. “The soup’s for you.”

She took a step inside, wobbling on her heels as the bright kitchen lights aggravated her eyes. Cyrus took a bite.

“You need help there, Sparky?”

She growled in response, but plopped into the chair, slouching and crossing her arms. “What are you doing here?”

“Your sister called me.”

“Which one? I have two remember?”

“Carina. Said you were starving yourself.”

Kass picked up the spoon and shoveled the lukewarm chicken noodle into her mouth. The soup was surprisingly soothing against her scratchy throat.

“Cari has a tendency to be dramatic,” she rolled her eyes.

The two friends munched in silence for a few minutes. Kass was more hungry than she realized, gulping back the rest of the soup in record time.

“Why haven’t you eaten all day?” she asked, trying to force polite conversation. “And how did you know I’m leaving?”

“Cari said something,” he shrugged.

“Right,” she bobbed her head. “Oakland. Clark’s got a place up north.”

“But that’s not where you’re going, is it, Sparky?” he leaned in, and she wondered if his eyes were twinkling beneath his dark sunglasses.

As if he knew what she was thinking, he removed the shades. His face sobered. “Look, I get it. When I had an opportunity to get to know my dad too, I left. Best decision I ever made. Helped me get clean. Changed my life.”

“I didn’t… know… that,” Kass said, quietly.

“Yeah, mom called him when she didn’t know what to do with me anymore. I’d never met him before,” Cyrus explained. “But every kid deserves to know their dad.”

“You have no idea…” Kass mumbled, and leaned her head against Cyrus’s shoulder. “I’m not… sure… if it’s the right thing, but I think it’s the best thing… for me… right now.”

Cyrus sighed. “After everything you’ve been through, you should probably get outta town, but were you at least going to say goodbye?”

“No,” she bit her lower lip. “I don’t know. I just…”

Cyrus surprised her by wrapping her in a full hug. “I promise I won’t squeeze,” he whispered. “But I’m gonna miss you.”

She was a coward. She couldn’t face her mamma. She couldn’t face the woman who had lied to her for her entire life. She could not move to Oakland for the summer and pretend to be one big happy family. And she sure as Hades was not moving back in with her grandparents. That left one option.

Maybe her dad lied too. Maybe he knew about it all along, but at least he was trying. This morning her mamma told her that she had a plan to help Kass get her life on track. Amy found Kass a job at the Oakland Public Library so she could do something productive. Sleeping all day wouldn’t cut it in the Riviera Fullbright household. When they returned to the Valley in the fall, Kass could attend classes at Sunset U after fall break. It would give her time for her injuries to heal and for her to make some money to contribute to the household now that she was eighteen because she would be living at home. As for dating, she wanted Kass to stop seeing Davis as he was an necessary distraction and she probably shouldn’t have contact with Gage either.

Well that won’t be a problem, Kass thought, sarcastically. She had already broken things off with her boyfriend, and Gage was moving to Greatlakes. The last piece of Amy’s master plan was to allow Kass to room with her best friend, Ayesha, if she proved she could keep her grades up and be a productive member of society.

As if recovering from her traumatic night meant nothing. It had been a week. Not a month. Not six months. Not a year. If Kass didn’t have her life “on track” as Amy so cruelly put, then she needed more time to heal and she wasn’t going to be able to with her mother’s constant interference. She made her own plans.

She made Clark promise to try and get Amy some help. He wasn’t blind or stupid. He knew Amy was struggling, but he had been preoccupied with his case and his sister. Kass wasn’t heartless. She wanted Amy to be okay.

She deposited what little money she had save a couple hundred simoleons into a bank account in Carina and Andromeda’s name. She felt the most guilty about leaving her sisters, but the girls were resilient. By moving in with the Sauer family, they were at least ensured to be fed, clothed, and cared for, but Kass wanted them to have a little extra. For niceties.

She took the remaining simoleons and made a donation to the free crisis clinic in Bay City in honor of Madison. The woman deserved to have someone remember her name. It probably wasn’t enough to make a dent, but Kass wanted to do something.

She wrote a letter to each of her family members. One for her grandparents. She had mailed it earlier in the day. And three – one for Carina, Andromeda, and Amy. She tied a ribbon around the letters so they wouldn’t accidentally be picked up by the mail carrier. As she lifted the stack to put in the mailbox like the spineless jellyfish she was, Kass hesitated. This was it. This was really it. There would be no going back.

She could see her father in his pickup truck parked across the street, his engine idling. Kass waved to acknowledge him. It was time to go. If she stayed any longer, she would have zero chances of her life returning to normalcy. Zero chances of having the life she wanted. She shoved the letters in the mailbox, slamming the little door closed. Picking up her duffel and slugging it over her shoulder, Kass walked toward the street… and toward her new life.


Author Notes: I can’t believe I actually did it! I actually completed the rewrite of KCLKF. It has taken forever to get here, but I’m finally here. I started the rewrite in March of 2018, and hoped to have it completed by this March of this year, and then COVID happened. Life got a lot busier and the world got a bit crazier. My energies were needed elsewhere, but I knew I was close to finishing Kass’s first story. This has been an epic journey. I feel like I’ve grown as a person and a writer since writing this story. I hope you enjoyed, even if this ending feels bittersweet, even if some things aren’t resolved. I feel like Kass is striking out on her own and making a decision for herself for once and this is progress. Whether it is in the right or wrong direction… time will tell. 

I thought about splitting up this chapter into shorter chapters with each “scene” if you will, but then I decided that it made more sense to keep it all together. Hope you didn’t mind the jumping around in time. Or this vignette style. I wanted to deal with the aftermath of the trauma and explain Kass’ headspace. I didn’t just want to jump ahead to Kass leaving with her dad. I also did a bit more telling than showing in this chapter to close up some of the loose ends, but it seemed to flow. At least from my perspective. My only regret is I didn’t manage to squeeze in a scene with Ayesha. I wanted to, but I just didn’t have the right screenshot. Ayesha will make an appearance again. Don’t worry. 

I’m working on setting up the next story in game. You may not get quite as many chapters from me in quick succession as this one as it won’t be a rewrite per se. Who knows? Maybe you will. I never know when inspiration might strike.

Thanks so much for reading Kass’ journey. I really appreciate you coming along for the ride. Leave a comment down below and tell me what you thought about the krazy crazy life of Kassiopeia Fullbright. What you loved. What you hated. What you want to see happen next. Who you would like to see more of. That kind of stuff. But don’t go away just yet. Tomorrow will be the exciting epilogue to KCLKF to provide just a few more answers about one particular mystery we haven’t addressed in awhile. 😉

1.105 Three Sad Stories (KCLKF)

Sunday, July 8, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

The world turned.

Kass slipped into her favorite green top. The tag clawed the back of her neck. She changed to her favorite blue jeans, yet with every step, the denim strained against her legs. Her toes shuffled beneath her hem, only peeking out for the practicality of walking. A chill rippled down her arms, and she almost wished for a sweater even in the warmth of the afternoon. Mac obliged her whim to walk.

Home was chaotic. Nonno quibbled with the painter in the driveway over a five simoleon difference. No, he would not pay for less than perfect work. Nonna sighed, her smile a little too thin to be genuine, stress lines scribbling across her temples as she attempted to coax her daughter to leave the room. No, she would not tolerate childish behavior in a grown woman. Mamma howled behind locked closed doors over the loss of a friend and former classmate. Jennifer attended university with Amy, No, she would not emerge and eat lunch in the formal dining room with mascara-stained cheeks. Andi groaned about VJ’s need to work and Carina griped about the maid misplacing her favorite heels. Kass couldn’t go looking for Davis. Macchiato was the only life form who wouldn’t argue, judge, cry, whine, or complain to Kass and still provide a presence.

The little pitter patter of his claws against the sidewalk echoed the drumming of her heart. With every step downhill, she could feel the immense weight of the world encroaching upon her soul. Death and life all appeared to be a taunting tragedy of comedic proportions. If she weren’t so furious, she would laugh. Mac stopped to sniff a dandelion pushing through a crack in the sidewalk. She bent, absently stroking his fur more as a soothing attempt than a genuine act of affection. He turned and met her gaze, his large brown eyes reading the tension of the moment. He laid his ear lovingly against her hand as if fully aware his head would become soaked with tears. He didn’t seem to mind.

Monday, July 9, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

The house still felt empty.

It was almost haunted. Or at least that’s the impression the wind gave as it whistled through the hastily boarded walls of their former home. The family slowly filled the home with pieces of furniture, remnants of a former life. Andi assumed this is much what an alien from a forest land felt like on a desert world, devoid of the love and laughter and color that made life worth living.  They pulled each fitting and furnishing from storage, what few bits remained. It wasn’t the same. It wasn’t home. Even if the walls were in place and the floorboards were safe to traverse and the bar held up against the battering ram.

Two barstools and a bar. It wasn’t much. It was normalcy starved. The appearance of stability without the security. Nothing was lasting. Childhood. Innocence. Home. Safety. Boyfriend. Love. Family. Hope. Each word important in the lyric, but disconnected from the composition. Her piano was crushed beneath the weight of the caving roof. It could be replaced, but nothing would ever be the same. She pulled a glass from the cupboard. She grabbed a bottle of vodka. One sip and the sorrows would go away, right?

Tuesday, July 10, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

The stuff of legends.

Carina sat on the red and tan couch, the one she always thought was ugly. Red and white could be peppermint. Red and tan was what? Blood and caramel? The matching chair sat in its place too. She shot a disdainful glare in its humble direction. Of all things, the couch and its cousin survived the wreckage.

Someone had tacked a news article on the wall as if to fill space. It wasn’t really a pretty decoration. Not like the purple beads around her neck or the lace around her scarlet blouse. Two postcards were staged on the coffee table, something Andi had fetched from a dumpster. It wasn’t even theirs. That wasn’t what annoyed Carina. A mountain scene on one postcard and a volcano on the other. The pictures out of line. Carina huffed and reached over to straighten the pieces.

The television was much smaller than their last. It would work, she winced. Fine. Not great. The cable wasn’t hooked up yet. She managed to untangle the cords and connect a video player. The only tape she could find was of a young girl stranded on an island who befriends a monkey and crafts mansions in the sand to pass the time. Carina scoffed and turned off the device after a few minutes. It was time for the funeral and she needed to change. Who has time to build sandcastles when cities are crumbling for real?


Author Notes: Thanks for reading. This chapter just kind-of happened. Maybe it doesn’t really advance the plot much. Maybe it doesn’t belong here, but I felt the need to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake again (results from a natural disaster don’t just go away even after you start picking up the pieces) and the aftermath of earth-shattering news  for Kass (i.e. Jennifer’s death and Davis’ tragic past). It’s the physical versus the psychological, and all the Fullbright sisters are dealing with this on some level. Each of them has different, though not always the healthiest coping mechanism. I’d probably argue Kass actually has the most cathartic healing moment in this chapter. While unpleasant, I hope you don’t mind the divergence. 

1.90 Pressure Points (KCLKF)

Wednesday, June 25, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

After a long, hard day of work at the legal aid office transcribing hours upon hours of courtroom tapes, the last thing Kass wanted to do was spend time with her family. After her awkward goodbye with Davis, her mother caught Kass at the door. She had been spying. Of course, Amy viewed this as defiance as she was still dating the pool boy and Kass viewed this as an invasion of privacy, and the two argued loudly in the entryway until Nonno came and told them both to pipe down since Nonna had a headache.

Kass stomped upstairs, not her finest most adult moment, which only served as further proof for her mother that she wasn’t mature enough and still needed parenting. Her only saving grace was a sobbing meltdown from Carina because Bebe Hart’s dad grounded her because she sneaked out to attend a tutoring session to get her composition class grade up in summer school and now they couldn’t go to the Life Boats for Animals indie band concert. Bebe’s dad was being so unfair, right? Cari whined. She had saved her precious spa salary for weeks, forgoing her usual mani-pedis to afford the tickets, and now who would go with her. Kass released an aggravated groan and slammed the door, wincing once as she thought of her poor Nonna, and then slid down the wall in frustration.

Tonight, she would rather stay in and work on her essay. She would rather stay in and work on new hairstyles with Cari to cheer her middle sister up, even though Carina had cut her hair boyish short six months ago and had no hair to do up. Kass sure did. She stood in front of the mirror, pulling her favorite green tee over her head, slipping out of heels and into flip flops, wondering if a new hairstyle was in order. Who am I kidding? Kass poked the glass. She liked her less than ten minute morning routine, and she sure didn’t want highlights. Most women would kill to get that hair and yours doesn’t come from a bottle, she could practically hear Carina’s voice in her head.

1

When Kass walked into Hogan’s Deep-Fried Diner, she realized her sisters hadn’t arrived yet. Her mamma sat at the table, the same disapproving thin-mouthed frown on her face as the night before, and Clark instantly stood as any proper gentleman to greet Kass. Too late now, she thought, and had the good sense to keep her sigh internal.

“Hi Kass, good to see you,” Clark said, a little too eagerly.

She had to give him chops for trying. “Hi Clark,” she nodded, forcing a smile. “Mamma.”

2

“Kassio,” her mother acknowledged, rubbing her neck, standing up as if it were an intensive activity.

As if sensing the pressure, Clark walked over to Kass to welcome her to the diner.

“How was work today?” he inquired.

“Uh fine,” Kass bobbed her head.

“You know,” he waved his hands. “An internship is a real smart thing to do before college. A right smart thing. Hades, I wish I had done an internship. Then maybe I would’ve gotten a scholarship or something,” he chuckled and snapped his fingers with an uncomfortable wince. “Oh… shoot!”

“Clark, honey, you shouldn’t swear,” Amy said. “Especially in front of my kids… or any kids for that matter.”

“Right… wouldn’t want the kids to hear anything too adult now, Mamma,” Kass said, pointedly.

3

Amy’s jaw hardened.

Kass resorted to deflection in place of death stares. “So how are your kids, Clark?”

“Kaden and Kasey are with their mom in Oakland tonight,” Clark replied. “Kasey had a baseball game up there.”

“Baseball,” Kass tried to sound more enthusiastic than she was. “How’s his team?”

Baseball. It was the reason Davis hadn’t called her today. Or called. He worked a shift at the Jolt, caught the ferry to Bay City, took a nap at the apartment she had yet to see, attended an afternoon class at St. Anne’s and planned to spend the evening catching up on missed Sliders and Asters games. Somehow watching repeat Goldibox Game View took precedence over resolving a conflict with his girlfriend. She was partly at fault.

Kass bit her tongue to prevent her from saying something mean to her mom after Amy suggested she hold a deeper appreciation for sports that didn’t involve kicking a ball around a field for the sake of the family. She almost laughed. Amy barely came out of her room before Clark, let alone watched anything but Pennant rom-coms. She couldn’t remember the last time her mother actually came to one of her sisters’ games. Kass knew more about baseball than her mother, surely.

4

Andi arrived with a genuine smile, greeting Clark respectfully and giving her mother an affectionate side hug. Cari, on the other hand, appeared bored, barely acknowledging their mamma, who had the “gall” to suggest her middle daughter return her tickets for a full refund and spend the evening doing something more productive like working on improving her Romian language classes so she could volunteer at the Romalian Culture Center in Bay City with Nonno. Yeah, cuz that sounds like fun, Carina had rolled her eyes. She was still super annoyed that high school required community service hours in order to graduate.  Welcome to my world,  Kass had smirked.

“What’s wrong?” Kass asked her sister, quietly.

“This whole thing is weird,” Cari sniffed, turning her head away. “I’m not on speaking terms with mamma, and I don’t know about him.”

Kass blinked a few times. She was surprised her sister stated her opinion so loudly in front of Clark. Then again, it’s Carina… maybe I’m not. 

“Cari,” Amy said, a hint of irritation in her tone. “Please… for my sake… try…”

5

“I guess,” Cari shrugged nonchalantly, then launched into a dramatic tirade. “So you’re not going to believe what happened when I was working at the store today. This customer came in and wanted gold polish for her mani/pedi. We’re all out because my boss is too cheap to restock regularly, and so of course, I tell her in my most polite tone…” Cari said, waving her arms.

Somehow Kass didn’t believe her sister was the most courteous to her customer.

“…that we can order more and it’ll be in on Monday. In the meantime, I could offer her a wide selection of options of other colors and discount the price. She looked at me like I grew three heads. And I know I’ve got a pretty face, but come on… three?”

Clark winced, shoving his hands in his pockets, his expression speaking volumes. Kass doubted he had much experience raising daughters. Amy rubbed her temples, but let her middle daughter continue.

“She asks if she can speak to another ‘older’ associate. I snapped my bubble gum loudly and said I was the only one in the spa that wasn’t occupied at the moment and I was the only one who could help her. She complains that my customer service is less than par. She wants to talk to my manager. Well, of course, Miranda is out on her break and so I tell her that and she huffs in my face and says she’ll never shop at our store again. Can you believe it? I offered to discount her price too!”

“Wow,” was all Kass could think to say.

“The discount was a nice idea,” Andi admitted meekly.

“Carina,” Amy huffed. “Aren’t you going to say hello to Mister Sauer?”

“Oh please call me Clark,” Clark insisted.

“Okay Clark,” Cari said, crossing her arms. “What are your intentions toward our mamma?”

Amy laughed nervously and Clark smiled at her knowingly. Andi pinched Cari’s arm.

“Well, I think that’s a conversation we save for when we’re seated and eating. Speaking of which, I’ll go order us something,” Clark replied, making a less-than-smooth exit.

6

“Ow! Why’d you pinch me?” Cari glared at Andi.

“Because that wasn’t nice,” Andi replied.

“Cari, please… please… try to be the angel child I know you are,” Am pleaded quietly.

“I don’t know Mamma, he seems shady,” Cari grunted.

“Seriously, you’ve been here for like what? Three minutes!?” Andi exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air. “And you’re monopolizing all the conversation, and you say he’s shady? Clark has been nice to us.”

“I think it’d be best if we save heavy topics for another time,” Kass recommended.

“Yes, thank you,” Amy exclaimed quietly, and it was the first thing Kass could agree on with her mother.

“What? I can’t ask him what his intentions are?” Cari howled, drawing the attention of a couple other customers.

“Shh!” Amy hushed.

7

Cari reluctantly closed her mouth, but she was most definitely sulking. Kass didn’t doubt that the relationship between her mother and Clark was different, but he didn’t outright seem like a terrible guy anymore. She actually trusted him a little more now that he told her the truth and was investigating on her behalf. She wasn’t exactly ready for all their relationship implied, but unlike Carina, she could keep her thoughts to herself.

“Seriously, this sucks,” Cari grunted.

Well that didn’t last long. 

“Quiet, Cari,” Andi snapped. “I’m going to go change in the bathroom and when I come back, I don’t want to hear a peep out of you!”

Kass smirked at the mothering tone her youngest sister had.

“Come on you two, calm down.  Let’s just enjoy this night, okay?” she said impatiently. “Why are you changing, Andi?”

Andromeda didn’t answer as she picked up her backpack and flounced away.

8Everyone ordered hamburgers, everyone except Andi. She returned from the bathroom and said she was meeting a friend at the beach for a party. When Cari pressed, Andi glared and ordered a glass of water. Kass figured she was meeting her “secret” boyfriend. Why can’t boyfriends just stay secret? At least until I’m thirty-five and Mamma thinks it’s appropriate to date! 

Amy wanted to move tables, claiming the other table wasn’t as clean. There hardly seemed more than two specks of dust, and the usual mustard stain that wouldn’t come out of the plastic no matter how many times the wait staff attempted. Kass sighed and returned her rare hamburger. She didn’t like anything too bloody and undercooked. Amy gingerly ate her burger with a knife and fork until Carina teased. This week Cari was vegetarian, probably just to tick off their mother, and be an annoyance to Clark. She ordered a salad and picked off the olives, cheese, and tomato. Kass didn’t want to be a pain, but they returned her hamburger medium-rare, while everyone else received their correct order. She went to speak to the chef directly and returned while Cari ordered a bean patty. Kass was impressed her sister ate it without complaining.

9

“So Kass, how goes your essay?” Clark began, trying to make small talk. “You’re gonna be an Edgewater Llama in a few weeks, huh? I’m a Trojan man myself.”

Kass nearly gagged on her water.

“Lone Star State Univeristy Trojans! Hoo-yah!” he said proudly, displaying his muscles. “I’ve got the tat right on my arm right here. Never finished though.”

“Hoo…yah…” Kass replied without enthusiasm. “It’s almost finished.”

“It’s a wonder,” Amy spoke up. “With all your free time lately, you could’ve finished it sooner.”

Kass narrowed her eyes at the jab.

“What are you planning to study again?” Clark asked, between bites of burger.

“I’m keeping my options open,” Kass replied.

“Business or law, like my father,” Amy said, swishing her hair out of her face as she attempted to pick up her dinner and eat with her hands. “Isn’t that right, Kass?”

Kass wished her dinner would hurry up and arrive, fidgeting uncomfortably in her chair. The pressure was palpable.

“Ambitious,” Clark acknowledged. “What about you ladies?”

10

“I’d like to be a concert pianist,” Andi piped up.

“Mmm… you should talk to my son, Kaden. He’s a musician too… Drums,” Clark replied. “What about you, Cari?”

“It’s Carina,” she grunted, folding her arms across her chest.

“Oh sorry, Carina,” Clark apologized.

Cari responded with deadening silence as she shoved her bean burger in her mouth.

“Cari is our resident actress and fashionista,” Amy spoke up after Cari refused to reply. “I think she’ll make a fabulous stage actress someday or fashion designer.”

Kass swallowed the lump of hurt in her throat. Why did Carina and Andromeda get to follow their art and passion, and she was forced to study economics or law like her family business? She was enjoying her internship at legal aid, but that wasn’t necessarily where she wanted to end up.

“Heading to Shakespeare Court?” Clark arched a brow. “Or are you going to be the next big Patrina?”

“Yeah, something like that,” Cari narrowed her eyes.

Kass was impressed that Clark even knew those names.

11

“Well Kaden wants to be a musician, but Kasey is thinking about sports. He’s a fabulous pitcher. He’s got such a great throwing arm I pitched a little ball back in college but I was better at hitting,” Clark bragged. “Have you girls been to any of the baseball games at Sun Valley High?”

“No, we go to Community… for smart and gifted people, remember?” Cari snipped.

“Oh,” Clark said, frowning as he sensed Cari’s hostility.

Amy practically choked on her food.

“I went to one of the last games of the season,” Andi said softly. “Yeah I remember seeing him pitch. He is really good.”

“We should all go to one of his games maybe,” Amy suggested.

“Well, now that the season’s over that sounds like a fabulous idea,” Cari said sarcastically. “Say Mamma, why didn’t you come to any of Andi’s and my games for…” she lifted her finger to her chin and scrunched her face. “…any of the last season?”

“Cari!” Andi and I exclaimed in unison.

Carina Nebula Fullbright! That’s enough,” Amy warned, narrowing her eyes.

12

“No, it’s okay,” Clark put his hands up. “Cari, I understand this is all very new for you and probably threatening.”

“You can say that again!” Cari rolled her eyes.

“I get it that you don’t like me,” Clark continued. “But I want you to know, Cari… and Kass and Andi…” he made eye contact before returning his gaze to Carina. “I really care about your Mamma and I have the best of intentions toward her. I don’t want to do anything to hurt her, so if this relationship of ours…” he reached for my mother’s hand. “…is going to cause tension among you girls, we can slow down and try to make this easier for you.”

Clark cleared his throat and wiped his mouth on his napkin. “Your Mamma is so important to me and I know you girls mean the world to her, and I would never, ever want anything to come between that special relationship.”

Sadness pooled in Kass’ heart. Her relationship with her mamma at best was on the rocks, at worst, at the bottom of the Orinda Bay. She wasn’t sure she would call anything between her mother and herself special anymore.

“I feel the same way about my boys. So I think it’s totally fair for you to add your input… all of you… and I actually want that,” Clark continued as he reached over and squeezed Amy’s hand. “Which is why…”

13

“Oh come out and tell us already,” Carina rolled he eyes and lifted the last remaining bite of salad into her mouth. “I know. We should all know about your impending engagement!”

Andi gasped. Startled, Kass’s eyes grew wide. Engagement? How long had they been dating? That was quick, wasn’t it? When did this happen? She wished she had been around more recently, and maybe she would’ve picked up on clues. Her mother engaged? After she said she hated men and she’d never go down that road again? After all her anxiety attacks and her inability to focus on anyone but herself during her bouts with depression? After chewing her daughter out time and time again over her poor dating choices, only to get engaged herself after a short amount of time? She was stunned, hurt even, but in seeing the way Clark looked at her mother, with affection and adoration, she couldn’t be upset. He looked over Luna, and her mamma flushed with at the attention.

“I, for one, think this relationship is great,” she spoke, putting her hand out. “And I want to… welcome you to the family, Clark. Mamma seems so happy.”

She emphasized the ‘so,’ hoping her mother would agree to her daughter’s choice of romantic partner. Cari huffed, but Andi nodded in agreement.

“I want Mamma to be happy and I want you to be comfortable with us,” she said maturely.

“Well, thank you, that means a lot to me,” Clark smiled brightly. “Cari?”

“I guess… I’m just not so sure…” she mumbled.

14

“That’s okay. Think about it. I’m going to take your Mamma for a spin on the dance floor,” Clark winked at his fiance.

“Now?” Amy gasped, her heart flying to her chest.

“This is a great song. Come on, Amy, don’t be shy,” Clark teased gently, offering her his hand.

“Okay,” she agreed, standing up with a smile.

The Fullbright sisters sat in stunned silence. It seemed just a short while before that Clark was introduced into their lives. They hadn’t met his sons but a few times. Kass wanted her mother to be happy. She really did. Yet it was hard to accept her mamma’s joy when her mother couldn’t accept her own.

15

“This is weird,” Cari said.

“I know, I think so too,” Andi wrinkled her nose. “But Mamma’s happy.”

“Do you think we’ll have to move? I am not giving up my shoe closet!” Carina crossed her arms.

“We already moved,” Andi sighed. “You didn’t think we could live with Nonna and Nonno forever, did you?”

“I don’t know. They have such a nice house. Maybe Mamma will let me live with them while she goes and shacks up with Clark,” Carina rolled her eyes.

“Cari!” Kass interjected. “If they are getting married, it won’t be…” she couldn’t say the word ‘shacking-up,’ and instead continued, “Clark seems like a decent guy. Just look at them. They seem to care about each other.”

“Yeah,” Cari conceded.

Yeah, Kass conceded internally. This will be just fine. 

“It’s so not fair,” Cari laid her elbow on the table and propped her chin up. “Mamma’s got Clark. Andi’s got VJ… even you have a new guy, Kass. What’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing’s wrong with you,” Andi replied. “It’s perfectly fine to be single.”

“Easy for you to say. You both have men,” Cari sighed, exasperated. “And you’re both in love…”

16

“In love?” Kass repeated with a funny smile. “I just started dating…”

She did love Davis. She had said as much. Then I need to do what’s right. 

“Yeah, she just started dating,” Andi smirked knowingly.

“Whatever, you two are full of it,” Cari tossed a napkin in our direction.

“Excuse me,” Kass said, standing up. “Tell Clark thanks for dinner please.”

“Where are you going?” Cari asked.

“Someplace I should’ve gone awhile ago.”


Author Notes: Thanks for reading. I know this was a longer than long chapter, but it felt necessary to contain in one chapter. I wanted to continue the family saga with Clark, and reintroduce the drama between mother and daughter, or in this case, daughters. The Goldibox game console is actually only available in Sims 4, but I wanted something like Playstation Vue so it sufficed. Oh the Sims not sitting at the same table, not eating at the same time, getting up too many times, and spontaneous outfit changes! I managed to make it all work… sort of. Enough for the story. Shakespeare Court is located in Avalon (my Simworld version of the British Isles) and is comparable to the West End of London or Broadway of New York. When trying to think up a name for a designer (other than the Valensima in the original version of this chapter), I thought of the real-world connection Valentino, which led me to Valentine, which led me to Catholic saints and holidays, and then St. Patrick, but that didn’t sound right and Patricia is the feminine version of Patrick, but that still didn’t sound right. Patrina it is! 🙂 Yes, this is how my brain works sometimes. xD Hope you enjoyed! 

Interlude: Plans for the Future (KCLKF)

Monday, June 23 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

“Is that it?”

Amy stood on the lawn, speckled with white clover, surprised at the modern architecture of the home. A mix of dark woods, creamy stucco, and grey stone, the house offered an expansive view of Orinda Bay to the west and the ambling grassy seaside hills to the east. The walkways were crushed stone, surrounded by a dark wood frame, bordering raised flower beds. There was what appeared to be a two-car detached garage on the southern end of the property, and to the north, a tan stone driveway with space for two more cars. The two-story home boasted many windows, allowing for lots of natural light, and several balconies from what she could tell.

“Do you like it?” Clark asked, turning around to face his girlfriend, hesitantly and sweetly waiting for her response.

“Like it?” she breathed out happily. “What are you saying?”

She had assumed they were going to dinner. Clark had suggested fish and chips on the pier in Bay City when he picked her up from work twenty-two minutes ago. While driving across town, instead of turning down toward the ferry docks, he turned up the short hillside right above the bay. The sun was just beginning to set, casting a fierce orange glow across the waters, making the cream-colored walls of the home appear rosy.

“You could move here, with the girls, and my boys,” Clark said. “And you wouldn’t have to stay with your parents any longer. There’s a bedroom on the main floor for the boys to share, and the girls can have a room on the second floor with their own balcony. The master suite is really pretty and we’d have our own bathroom.”

“What?”Amy repeated, pressing her hands to her lips, the emotions welling in her eyes.

Clark was asking her to move in with him. It wasn’t too surprising, but they had only been dating a short time. He had mentioned how tired he was about commuting back and forth from Oakland for work and fun. The boys were finished with their studies so a transfer to a new school in the late summer wouldn’t be impossible.

“There’s a little room above the garage with its own bathroom,” Clark added. “We could give it to Kass, or if she goes off to Uni, you could use for a photography studio. You’ve mentioned you wanted to start taking more photos again, right?”

“Uh yes,” she bobbed her head, enthusiastically.

“There’s a pool in the back for the kids, and a swing set,” Clark continued. “The owner has agreed to leave them behind. I’d like to relandscape this yard… add more stone, plant your favorite blue hydrangeas. We could grill on the patio in the evenings and we’re steps from the beach. And we’re closer to the ferry for trips to Bay City.”

She smiled.  He didn’t take his eyes off her, even if he spoke of the house. This could be wonderful. However, she wondered about the implications of a move like this.

“We could sell your property, or if you want to keep it, fix it up and rent it out,” Clark said, and then hurriedly added, “Or we don’t have to do anything with it yet. No rush. No pressure.”

Amy glanced around. She could picture family barbecues on the back stone patio, the kids splashing in the pool, coffee in the mornings on the balcony watching the sunrise with Clark, and of course, blackout curtains in that expansive master bedroom so she could enjoy sleeping in on Saturdays. She could see Kass reading a book on a pool lounger, Carina painting her nails on the porch, and Andi setting up an easel with her paints on the lawn. It could be a home. A real home with Clark and his boys.

Their home on Pinochle Point held so many memories. She purchased the home before Howard. He moved in after they were married. They had some happy moments, but mostly the home held regrets and tears and pain. Oh the nights she cried herself to sleep, especially when pregnant, while Howard worked the overnight shifts at the radio station, and then catering gigs on his nights off. She changed diapers and wiped snot and brushed away tears of her three little girls under the age of five while Howard made random and strange improvements to the home – a huge deck they never used, a half-finished garage, never painted, a carport that belonged in the ’70s. It could be good to have her own fresh start with her boyfriend and their families.

“Wouldn’t this mean you’d be out?” she asked, tilting her head. “You know… with your work? How could you be home here in the Valley? Is it safe?”

He smiled. “You worry too much. My assignment should be done soon anyhow.”

“Have you talked to the kids?” she asked.

“They know I’m contemplating a move. They’re all for getting out of the city and living in the Valley. In fact, I think they’d thrive here,” Clark replied. “How do you think your girls would take it?”

Amy winced. “It would take some getting used to, but Kass and Andi have always wanted a pool. They’re water babies…” she wrinkled her nose fighting back a sneeze.

“And Cari?”

“She’s a bit hydrophobic. Not like she never gets in a pool, but she’d enjoy tanning on the porch,” Amy said. “We’d have to get rid of the ferns.”

“No ferns, got it,” Clark bobbed his head.

“I like the idea of stone in the front with all the lawn in the back. Do you think we could build a fence around the yard?”

“White picket?” he grinned cheekily.  “Anything else?”

“Maybe expand the kitchen a bit so we can have a table in the kitchen and the dining room. We’ve got all this lawn space here so the land is available,” she broke into a warm smile. “I like all the daisies.”

Clark made a face. “Opps… hold that thought.”

He walked back to the curb to his truck and reached in the back, tucking something behind his back when he approached. Amy stared up beyond the roof at the sky, for the first time, feeling hopeful in a long time. A new home? With Clark?  This could be amazing if the girls could adjust to the change.

“Close your eyes,” he requested.

“What more could you possibly surprise me with?” Amy giggled and closed her eyes, flexing her fingers.

“Relax,” he brushed the edge of her cheek with his free hand.

“I’m trying,” she popped one eye open. “You try staying relaxed with all nervous energy flowing through you.”

“What are you nervous about?” he asked.

“Nervous excitement,” she amended.

“Okay, open.”

Her eyes fell upon a beautiful bouquet of yellow daisies, one of her favorite flowers. She didn’t care that some thought they looked like weeds. They were happy flowers, and right now she needed some cheer in her life.

“Oh Clark,” she breathed, instinctively bringing the daisies to her nose, even though she knew they had no scent. “Thank you… wait…” her eyes caught something shiny among the stems and leaves. “What’s that?”

“A ring,” Clark admitted.

“Wha….wha….?” she stammered, nervously shoving her face further into the flowers to hide her embarassment at her response.

“I have to do this the proper way, Amy,” he continued. “It’s gonna take me some time for the closing and then the permits and renovations, but I couldn’t wait any longer. Clara wanted us to have the ring. I just wanted to know we were doing this the right way.”

Amy gasped as Clark took her hand.

“Amy Riviera, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”


Author Notes: Aww… cuteness. In my original game, this is how Clark proposed, rather early on in the game. Aw… those Sims. Haha. For all her flaws, Amy still needs happiness. This was a nice chapter to write. I decided to name the bay Orinda which means pretty and gold. It felt fitting for Sunset Valley. Can’t recall if I named it before or if it has an actual name in the game so remind me if you know. Hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading. 

1.75, Pt. 1 Loss and Light (KCLKF)

Wednesday, June 18, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

Kass stepped from the dull doldrums of her mind out the front door to the colors of the new day. A flock of birds pecking between the red bricks in the courtyard rose in a feathered frenzy, startled by her sudden presence. She walked forward, one step at a time. Cracks in the driveway indicated her grandparents’ home had not escaped last night’s earthquake. Kass lifted her hand to shade her eyes from the hot white summer sun, watching the doves flutter away on a light breeze. I wish I could fly away. 

A car horn pulled her from her reverie. Kass waved to the yellow taxi, pulling up beneath the coconut palms. The bus lines were down for the day while the city repaired the collapsed roof of the depot, according to the news she streamed on her phone while drying her hair and painting her nails. Anything to delay the inevitable. Usually she didn’t take the exorbitant amount of time to blow dry her massive amount of hair. Maybe it’s time for a cut, she thought as she twisted the end of her braid around her finger.

As she opened the passenger side door, she turned and looked at the house. She hadn’t bothered to check if Davis was in the pool house. She didn’t want to know. He hadn’t called or texted yet. The disappointment was palpable. She offered the driver the address of her home as she plopped into the seat. He inquired if she wanted to sit in the back like most customers, and she shook her head. She didn’t need to be chauffeured, which was why she didn’t request the Riviera’s driver take her to the house. During the drive, she rehearsed what she would say to her mother, how she would call her out and tell her she knew.

Once within a block, she changed her mind and had the driver drop her at the bottom of the hill. After fishing a few Simoleons from her shorts, she started up the sidewalk. As she reached the peak, the utterly devastated house came into view, a shell of its former self. What wasn’t crumbled by the earthquake or destroyed by the fire was flooded by the firefighter hoses. Kass noticed an orange moving company van sitting in the driveway. I guess we’re moving, she surmised with a grimace. She was about to cross the street when a police cruiser blocked her path.

“Officer Blair Wainwright, ma’am,” the blonde policewoman tipped her cap as she rolled down the window. “Are you Kassiopeia Fullbright?”

Kass blinked a few times, wishing she had the sense to grab her sunglasses. “Uh yeah…”

“You left your purse in Detective Goddard’s cruiser last night,” the woman explained. “He asked me to bring it by.”

“I did?” Kass’s eyes widened.

She didn’t even remember. Then again, she was suffered from a concussion. The trip to the hospital in the police car was hazy.

The officer cleared her throat. “What’s your date of birth?”

“Huh?” Kass frowned.

“I need to verify your identity,” the officer draped an arm over her steering wheel as if annoyed.

Kass replied, and nodded her thanks her purse was returned. “What’s that?” she pointed in the distance to twin giant beams of light into the sky.

“Mayor set up a command post for recovery, efforts,” Officer Wainwright said sharply. “She wants people to know where to go if they’re displaced.”

“Oh,” was all Kass could think to say.

“Detective Goddard says he caught a lucky break for you,” Officer Wainwright added.

“A what?”

“A lucky break in that case for your family,” Officer Wainwright explained. “You can call him when you have the time. Have a good day,” she drove further down the street.

An update in the case? The break-ins? Somehow that thought brought her some comfort. She forgot all about the missing brooch. That night seemed forever ago, but it was only ten days.

Kass dropped her purse next to Andi’s on the front lawn, waving to the neighbors before she cautiously approached her mother. She frowned.

“Hi,” she began, hesitating as she lifted her hand to rest on her mother’s tired hunched shoulder.

A choking sob escaped Amy’s throat. Amy wore the same clothes as the night before, leaning, elbows bent, hands static in the air, frozen in a solitary moment of grief. Kass swallowed. Her mother looked so fragile. Any animosity she harbored toward Amy dissipated like steam from the puddles remaining after the fire fight.

“Mamma?” Kass repeated, louder. “Why are you standing in a puddle?”

Amy jolted, startled.

“Kassio, I didn’t see you,” she sniffled, wiping her face with the back of her hand.

“Mamma? The water?” Kass sighed.

“Oh,” Amy tilted her head. “The water main broke. It’s gushing water under the foundation.”

“But,” Kass said, taking her mother’s elbow and guiding her into the away from the shadow of the house. “You were standing in water. Your shoes are soaked.”

“Are they?” Amy laughed sadly. “Oh… it doesn’t matter… none of it matters.”

Kass stared up at the blackened sunken roof, bearing awkward witness to her mamma’s wails. Yesterday, this was home. Today, it bore scorch marks, its wooden frame buckled under the pressure from a raging earth, gushing water through its gaps, and creaking beneath the wind. The day was much too sunny for this kind of sorrow, the hills still rolling, lazy, lush, and green, the hydrangeas still blooming, bright, big, and bold.

“Mamma, what doesn’t matter?” Kass asked.

“The house… my home… the girls’ home,” Amy said, dazed. “I just can’t believe it’s gone.”

Kass took a deep breath. “Mamma, it’s going to be okay.”

“No, no, no, it’s not,” Amy shook her head vigorously. “I mean, we lost it. We lost our home,” she appeared crestfallen. “I lost our home.”

“Mamma, you didn’t cause the earthquake!” Kass exclaimed. “Who are all these people here?” she tried to distract her mother, focusing on the crisis at hand.

“Oh, the people!” Amy ducked her head in embarrassment. “Friends and neighbors… they’re helping out. Our house was hit the worst. It was that stupid roof… the one Howard always said would be fine, but it wasn’t earthquake proof.”

Kass flinched at the mention of her father’s name. He ‘was’ my father. 

“Mamma, is anything earthquake proof?” she threw her hands up.

“The neighbors… all these people… what do I tell them?” Amy asked, in a mournful whisper. “I couldn’t even get Clark to come back. He didn’t answer his phone. I just don’t understand. Why won’t he call me back?”

Amy chucked her cell phone across the yard in an impassioned howl. A few of young men working on boarding up the side of the house looked over their direction.“I know,” she ducked her head shamefully. “I… I just can’t… function.”

Kass blew out an exasperated breath. “Cari? Andi?”

“Yes, and their school friends. Even Kasey and Kaden…” she nodded in the northeastern direction of the house toward a boy in familiar plaid and another in a beanie cap much like his father’s.

“Is the house safe to walk around in?”

“Moderately so,” Amy swiped at a tear. “Your Nonno and Nonna are around here somewhere too.”

“Okay…” Kass thinned her lips. “Why don’t you go sit in the car and collect yourself?” she suggested, dropping the keys in her mother’s hand. “It’s at the bottom of the street. I left it there last night.”

“You did?” Amy looked at her oldest daughter, bewildered.

“Yeah,” Kass shrugged. “Couldn’t get up the block. They’ve fixed that…”

She glanced at the city parks and recreation crew readying a wood chipper. A twinge of sadness pricked Kass’ heart. Her favorite pine tree would no longer majestically shadow their yard. Two young men she didn’t recognize heaved as they pulled a stump of another downed tree from the front lawn. VJ and Andi appeared to be collecting scraps of household items in boxes. His father, Shepherd Alvi stood on the shared lawn between the neighboring properties giving directions to a group of men boarding up the siding.

Another group of people lowered sandbags around their own foundation to soak up the water. Carina raked the lawn with the help of Ethan and Lisa Bunch, dumping bits of nails, glass, painted wood, and wallpaper into trash bags. Kaden steadied a ladder for his brother while Kasey rescued a stray kitten who had somehow managed to find shelter on one of the remaining sections of roof. The sight was almost enough to make her smile.

“There are some tissues in the glove box,” Kass said, narrowing her eyes as she recognized Jamie Jolina standing on the edge of the pathway around the home.

“Alright,” Amy agreed.

Kass rounded the house. The porch was completely gone, boards lying in a crumpled heap. Someone had set up a stack of crates to step from the ground to the back sliding glass door. Kass caught up to Jamie by the fire pit as she set some boxes on the ground.

“I thought you could use some of these,” she said. “I just finished moving into my new apartment in the City.”

“Uh thanks,” Kass replied, bobbing her head from side to side to crack her neck as her purple athletic shirt shifted down her shoulder even further, exposing her bra strap.

“Looks like Sunset Valley got the brunt of last night’s earthquake,” Jamie continued, tugging at her cute red-and-pink crop top. “Bay City’s infrastructure must be more fortified.”

Kass glared, feeling defensive of her home town. “What are you doing here?”

“Oh I’m sorry, Kassiopeia,” Jamie stretched out her hand. “We met last night.”

“Kass,” Kass bit the words out, completing the handshake. “I know who you are, Jamie.”

“Yes, yes,” the other girl laughed effervescently. “I definitely couldn’t forget you… not after Davis dedicated a song to you.”

Kass pulled on her belt buckle to ascertain its tightness, silently wishing she had Jamie’s waistline. Of course, she can still look killer in sweat pants. 

“He really is rather sweet,” Jamie smiled. “I’m so glad I got to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you.”

“Funny,” Kass couldn’t resist sticking her nose in the air slightly. “He hasn’t really mentioned you.”

“He said you had a wicked sense of sarcasm,” Jamie teased.

Kass stared down at her blue tennis shoes, wishing they would carry her far, far away from the beautiful pianist in Davis’ band. She caught sight of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Oh carry me out to sea! She could almost sense the waves calling to her as they did in her dream from the night before.

“Yes, yes, he is,” she said, awkwardly. “So uh… what are you doing here? I mean, thanks for the boxes.”

She didn’t add… we can take it from here.

“Oh Davis called me and asked me to come over and help out.”

“He what?” Kass took a step back.

“Yeah, he called a whole bunch of us. He’s been here since five A.M. organizing the neighborhood and helping out wherever he can, but mostly, he’s been here…rallying the troops… ”

Since after he dropped me off at Nonno’s and Nonna’s? He came back? Even after my mamma said all those nasty things about him? Well… he didn’t know. Not yet.

“You didn’t know,” Jamie’s bright blue eyes widened. “That’s just like Davis,” she smiled wistfully. “You’re really lucky, you know?”

“Uh… yeah,” Kass swallowed the emotion rising in her throat.

So that’s why he didn’t call me!


Author Notes: No, I haven’t forgotten about the break-in. I was pretty proud of myself for mentioning all of the colors of the rainbow naturally in the story after writing the opening line: “Kass stepped from the dull doldrums of her mind out the front door to the colors of the new day.” Thanks for reading.

1.74 Lonely on the Hill (KCLKF)

Wednesday, June 18, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

Bitter truths infiltrated Kass’s mind as she laid her tired soul to rest, dropping a limp arm behind her head on the pillow. Her body dissolved into the cold bed in one of the many guest rooms in her grandparents’ home. This wasn’t how she expected the evening to go. Her heart kicked in time like a drumbeat as she heard the rains continue to blow against the house. She was too awake to dream. Tired of all the lies and secrets. What did it mean anyway?

Carina whimpered and turned away. Kass lifted her head in the darkness, the room momentarily lit by an angry flash of lightning. Cari shifted beside her, arm curled at the base of her skull, and on the other side, Andi’s shoulder rose and fell, her breath as steady as the incoming high tide. Her sisters needed her. Half sisters, she reminded, her mind screaming louder than the storm raging outside. 
The truth is complicated.

Three more aftershocks had followed. Kass counted. One. Two. Three. Fo… and the thunder rumbled, bowling ball to hit the perfect strike and split the sky in two. She’d always thought if she stayed in her own lane things would be fine. Keep your head down. Mind your manners. Love unconditionally. The world was black and white. There was either right or wrong. No in between. But the sky could fall if you weren’t looking, she released an exasperated sigh.

Kass shoved off the edge of the bed, making her way to the window. The rain darted down the panes of glass like fish trying to find their way back to sea. She reached to touch the clear, and flashes of color lit the violent purple sky. The dam cracked, leaking memories like sand through a sieve, the hourglass of time ticking away one grain at a time.

The dizzying spinning of a carousel, the gilded horses rising and falling. Her sisters laughed, their cheeks rosy from summer heat. They waved to the crowds. Kass whipped her gaze back, her ponytail swishing across her sweaty back. She couldn’t see their faces. She could hear their voices. First, mamma, then daddy. The girls waved and smiled and giggled, clutching the golden poles as they spun in circles. Kass couldn’t see their faces. She frowned, and closed her eyes, her head falling back…

…and landing on the grassy hillside beneath ten thousand glittering lights. She could smell the sweet smoke of the campfire and hear the crackling of the flames licking at the wood. Her sisters laughed and shouted as they pointed to constellations in the night sky. She could hear her father’s voice. His words were muffled. She could see his arm. His hand was blurry. She strained her ears, wishing she could sit up and know he was there.

Look Kassiopeia,” he would say. “It’s for you.”

Her own constellation, her namesake. She sighed, and flopped to her back once more, squinting to see the stars that made up the vain queen trapped in a chair. More like a prison of her own making. It’s my fault… Kass felt the saltwater spray splash her face mercilessly as she paddled out to sea. She had fallen from her windsurf board again. The clouds rolled across the horizon, shielding her body from the merciless sun. She felt her father’s hand on her shoulder.

It’s okay, Kassiopeia,” he said, gently. “You’ll catch the next wave.”

No, no I won’t,” she shook her head vigorously as the clouds darkened from white to gray.

There is no black. There is no white. There’s always gray. The surf roared as it lunged for her, and she paddled with all her strength to catch the wave. If only I can catch the wave. Everything would be alright. Any color you want as long as it’s gray. I’m never going to get it right. 

The chalk swiveled in her hand. She could feel the dry dust against her palm. Her sisters captured sunshine and rainbows on the driveway, sketching childhood hopes and dreams into asphalt.

Why did you bring gray chalk?” Carina asked, running away toward the grass. “It won’t show up on the sidewalk.

Kass looked at her hand. Gray. There is no black. There is no white. Hop. One. Two. Three Fo… 

Kassiopeia?” her father’s voice called. “Why aren’t you playing?

There were things liked chipped thumbnails and scraped knees and spilled lemonade, but it wasn’t any of those things. Her eyes blurred with tears.

I can’t see your face,” she whispered hoarsely.

Carina hopped down the chalk-outlined numbers toward the street. Andromeda followed suit.

Go on, Kassiopeia,” her father urged. “You can do it.

She pushed herself up off the pavement. Her feet hit the dirt running. Faster through the trees. Breathing in and out. Freedom brushing her fingertips in the wind. Golden ponytail swaying in the air, alive with electricity. Trying to avoid the strike. I’m never gonna give up. Lightning snaking across the summer sky, its forked tongue licking the ground, sending sparks to her shoes. She ran faster. Harder. Better.

She reached the peak. Her world spun. She didn’t care. This was the top of the world. Waves tumbled against rock face. Thunder rumbled in the distance, the voice of nature’s fury. The sky could fall at any moment. A bit of heaven in each drop.

One of these days I’ll pass you.”

The voice of Gage. He dropped his hands to his knees, desperately trying to catch his breath. She leaned against ancient stone, resting her forearm on the rock as she stretched her leg, pulling it up to torso as she arched toward the sky.

You mean more to me than you know,” he said, his voice too soft to be heard above the rushing of the winds.

“What?” she asked as she lifted her arms toward the sky as the heavens released their torrent, showering the tired earth in sweet relief.

She turned around. She couldn’t heard Davis over the bells. Ding. Ding. Dong. Gone. She sighed, lifting her arms, calling him. He took her hand and squeezed. She could see the blood pumping, first red, then white lines darting on the X-ray, swimming furiously to know she was alive. Ley lines, Dr. Bachelor had called them. The lines that bind everything.

Nothing is perfect,” he said.

She pushed at her ears, drowning out the thoughts she didn’t want to hear. Say your words to ease the perpetual ringing, her heart cried. There is no black. There is no white. There is only gray. One. She counted as she spun in perpetual motion, arms lifted to balance. She couldn’t hear her father’s voice. His words swallowed by storm. Two. She couldn’t see Gage’s face. His eyes lost in a sea of gray. Three. She couldn’t feel Davis’ touch. His hand fell away. Four. She lifted her eyes to the sky, raindrops flooding her eyes. Come down. Come down from your fantasy castle in the sky. This is reality. This is truth. This is you. 

Her eyes snapped open and she saw. Nothing. Loneliness. At the top of a hill. And low. Swinging low through the trees. Fingers clutching rope till they bleed. Kicking feet toward the sun. Rebel against gravity. Feeling undone. Unloved. What is it? 

Kass gasped, instantly propelling her body upward, tearing to the side, her leg ricocheting off the nightstand.

“Ouch!” she cried, rubbing her shin.

Macchiato sniffled. Kass sighed, reaching over to pet the family dog. She was in her grandparents’ home again. It was a dream? Shaking her head side to side, she attempted to dislodge the jarring cobwebs from her brain. Her sisters must have already awakened for neither Carina nor Andi were still in bed. Kass grasped at the carpet beneath her feet, locating her watch. It was nearly twelve o’clock.

She let her arms dangle, peering upside down into the darkness beneath her bed. So this is life? She felt for her phone, the screen lighting up as she touched the power button. Lingering on the warm sheets, Kass clicked through her missed messages. Jennifer. Cancelling work for the day to take care of things because of the earthquake. Gage. Some wild storm, huh? Wanna catch a bite later?  Ayesha. I’m going into the City with my family today. Your family okay?  Andi. Went to clean-up at the house. Come when you can. Dr. Bachelor.  How’s your head feeling? Let me know if the medicine helped you sleep. 

It gave me bizarre dreams! Kass wiggled her toes as Mac licked her foot. She leaned her skull against the head board. No messages from the person she wanted. She thought about texting him directly, but decided against it. The rejection, however casual for him, still stung in the light of day. How could he dangle an invitation and then rescind? Was she not adult enough for him? Did he change his mind and realize he didn’t care as much as he thought he did? Did Mamma…Kass’s eyes widened in worry. ...say something to turn him off? She gripped the swirling green comforter. How would she face her mother today?

Kass made little waves as she stepped into the bathtub. She was in no rush to see her family, especially her mamma. The woman had straight up lied to her for eighteen years of her life. What am I supposed to do with that? she grunted and laid her hands  to rest on her knees. She wished her Nonna had left the honeysuckle bubble bath she so enjoyed on the edge of the tub. Maybe they’re out.

As she leaned her head against the foggy glass of the shower wall, she stared up at the speckled ceiling. A hundred thousand dots to infinity. Her emotions surged angrily… where was her mamma? She hadn’t stayed the night at Nonno’s and Nonna’s. At least Kass didn’t think so. Probably stayed with Clark.

She didn’t get it. Her mother rushed to stay at Kasey’s side, to comfort him during the long, nightmarish sleeps, but she neglected her own daughters after their own trauma. Nonna’s maid had made up three separate bedrooms for the girls, yet only five minutes went by when Andi peered around the doorway and asked to share Kass’ bed, and Carina joined a minute later. I won’t leave them, Kass thought as she rubbed her arms with a generic vanilla lavender bar of soap. I hate lavender… she thought, cruelly tossing the soap across the bath. It slapped the far tiled wall and crashed through the surface of the water. It smells like babies. And babies made her heart ache. I’m not my father’s baby. 

Her arms collapsed into the water in defeat, the temperature lukewarm by now. She would have to ‘face the music’ sometime. She had to stop feeling so low. They need me. They need me to be strong.  The soap taunted her as she made a desperate grab for the bar. It slipped away from her grasp. All these years she was mad at her dad for leaving when she should have been mad at her mother. She left a long time ago too. Her eyes darkened as she pushed on the edge of the tub to stand up, releasing the stopper. The drain began sucking the water through to the pipes. Do I just want too much? Kass listened to the gurgle. Fight the drain, her mind prompted. Rebel against gravity, her heart cried.

Stepping from the tub, Kass wrapped herself in a fluffy white cotton towel. She snagged another from the countertop and wrung her waves of hair. Walking toward the window, she glanced out at the new day. The sun streamed through the yard, bright like a daisy pushing up from a once deviled sky. The light didn’t quite touch the window. Kass sighed as she leaned over the potted plant and stared into the distance. Her body pulsed with a low ache. What is this feeling? Her soul breathed. Loneliness on the hill. 


Author Notes: Thanks for bearing with me. This chapter was all over the place. Took me a long time to write, but somehow when I was done, it made sense. This is the internal landscape of Kass’ mind and heart fighting one another for voice. Is it real? Is it memory? I’d say it’s both. Dare I say… maybe a little foreshadowing too? The chapter grew epic long, but it wasn’t done yet and I wanted to write until it felt finished. So many different moving parts. So many different meanings. I’ll reserve my thoughts and let you spin your own theories. There were a few songs that inspired the mood of this chapter – Low by Coldplay and Lightning Strike by Snow Patrol. Thanks for reading. 

1.70, Pt. 2: Kerosene (KCLKF)

Wednesday, June 18, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

“He is an undercover cop for plum’s sake!” Amy swung her arms wildly.

Kass took a step back. An undercover cop? Wait… first he’s a Albergic janitor. Then he’s a bodyguard. Now he’s an undercover cop? Was this what Clark meant when he said he couldn’t protect his sister? The same sister who was shot at during a jewelry store heist? 

Too many things didn’t add up. If he was an undercover cop, why didn’t Detectives Hunter and Goddard recognize him? Or was it that they couldn’t acknowledge who he was? Or maybe they didn’t know that Detective Sauer… if that was his rank… was working in their jurisdiction. But why? And what did it have to do with his cover job with the Alto family? Or his cover job as a janitor?  She rubbed her face tiredly, the dull ache morphing into a throbbing headache.

“Now you are going to keep that information to yourself,” Amy ordered. “And when you see him next, you’ll act like you know nothing. And after tonight, you’re going to break up with Davis because you can’t afford the distraction.

“Mamma!” Kass crossed her arms, and leaned with emphasis. “I’m not going to get pregnant.”

“I won’t do it!” Amy cried with a huff as she turned away.

“You won’t do what?” Kass eyed her mother sharply.

“I won’t raise your babies, Kass. I’m not your Nonna.”

“I didn’t ask you to…” Kass huffed in frustration, her eyes widening in sadness. “You really do… regret having me. Having us, don’t you? You didn’t want to be a mother, did you?”

“No,” Amy snapped. “Absolutely not. I love Carina and Andromeda and…” she swallowed hard. “I do not regret having you.”

“But I’ve made your life more complicated?” Kass’ eyes widened in sadness. “Mamma, I’ll be gone in a few weeks. You won’t have to worry about me anymore. I’m my own woman. I won’t make stupid decisions,” she pummeled her fists. “And I won’t make the same mistakes you did.”

“Don’t you dare call me stupid!” Amy shrieked. “I’ve done my job raising you. And I will always be your mother.”

“Stop saying that,” Kass said, disgusted. “It’s like you need to prove something. You always need to prove something. You need to control everything because you couldn’t control Dad.”

Amy’s jaw slackened in horror.

“I used to think Dad was the villain. That is was so awful…” Kass narrowed her eyes. “…that he cheated on you. And then he left us for some other woman. But now I see why. I know why.”

Kass knew she was throwing kerosene on a fiery mess, but she lost the will to care.

You’re the real problem.”

“You watch your tongue!” Amy warned. “I can’t believe you’d say something like that.”

“Get out!” Kass snapped, angry tears pooling in her eyes.

“I’ll leave,” Amy huffed. “But I don’t want you to see him. And that’s final.”

“Leave,” Kass flung a finger toward the door.

“If you don’t break up with him, I’m telling your grandparents,” Amy threatened, walking right up to Kass’ face.

Kass couldn’t believe her mother would stoop that low. She matched her mother’s vicious glare, realizing she had ammunition too.

“If you don’t back off, I’m telling your parents… about everything. About how you neglect your children. How you care more,” her voice cracked. “…about someone else’s children than you do your own… and how…” she stomped her foot for emphasis. “…you are controlling.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” Amy puffed.

“I would…” Kass walked over and opened the door. “Now get out!”

It wasn’t until her mother left the room that Kass realized she was trembling. Badly. She wheezed as she collapsed on the bed and pushed the button for the nurse. Something had to give. And right now… she eased onto her pillow and closed her eyes as the tears fell fast …her body was winning over her mind.


Author Notes: For those of you who have read KCLKF before and its subsequent stories, you know a bit about Amy’s past. Without revealing too much to my new readers, I decided to start dropping hints sooner. I know. I’m probably offering spoilers here, but I wanted to draw a correlation. I’ll let you make your own conclusions. The tense relationship between Kass and Amy has just escalated, with both women standing their ground. We’ll see where it goes from here. And for those of you who thought Clark was an undercover cop… you were right. 😃Yes, that was Amy just confirming it. You’ll learn more. Thanks for reading. 

1.70, Pt. 1: Kerosene (KCLKF)

Wednesday, June 18, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

Kassiopeia!”

Hey Kassiopeia!”

She could hear the muffled voices through the torrent of rain. Kass tried to sit up, but felt stuck, and realized she wasn’t fully conscious. 
Am I dreaming? Am I underwater? 
Water tumbled as if in a washing machine, and she struggled to fight the black.

“I’m here,” she whimpered, her eyes refusing to open.

“Oh my gawd!” she recognized her mamma’s voice.

“Kassiopeia? Kass, Kass, darlin’?” she heard Davis speak much closer and surmised he was holding her in his arms.

“Call Zero-Zero-Zero!” Molly French yelled.

Someone was shrieking. Andi? Cari? Both? Kass somehow made out the worried expression of Mandy, her neighbor, before realizing Davis wiping something wet and sticky from her cheeks. Human hands reached for her body, pulling her up in unnatural motion. Her heart was seized with panic as her eyes opened to bloody tears. She tried to kick her legs, but they refused to bend.

“She tore her dress,” Amy gasped.

As if on cue, Davis ripped his jacket from his back and placed it around his girlfriend. Disoriented, Kass blinked rapidly, raindrops mingling with drops of blood on her eyelids.

“She hit her head,” Davis amended, cradling Kass’s head in his lap. “She needs a doctor.”

Kass smiled weakly, overwhelmed by dizziness. “You are a doctor,” she groaned.

“Not yet, darlin’,” he cracked a smile.

“What’s the buzzing noise?”she asked, tapping her temples, before her eyes rolled back into her head and she succumbed to the black.

“Oh gawd! Is she dead?” Carina asked, frightened.

“Officer!” Amy flagged down a familiar policeman in the street. “We need to get my daughter to the emergency room ASAP. She’s hit her head and she’s unconscious.”

“Right away, ma’am,” Detective Goddard tipped his hat, and waved for his partner to bring the cruiser.

Within moments, Detective Hunter arrived with the police car and Davis picked up the unconscious Kass and carried her to the vehicle where he gently laid her in the back seat. Amy ran around to the opposite side, resting Kass’ head in her lap.

“Please…” she looked up at Davis, her eyes filled with frightened tears.

“I’ll get your daughters to safety,” he promised, before tapping the side of the vehicle.

Her mother’s face looked like an angel, even if her face was twisted in a frown. Kass eased her body out of the covers, crossing her legs on the bed as she shifted up on the pillow. A whiff of Paradīsian ginger perfume momentarily engulfed Kass’ senses as she tried to return to reality.

“You had us so worried,” Amy murmured.

Kass deduced she was in the hospital bed by the ugly cream-colored gown with its tag scratching her neck. She sighed, grabbing the IV rack, the cords draped around and on the back side of the bed. She began to pull at the needle in her right arm while her mother rubbed her head.

“Kass, please don’t,” Amy said. “The doctor said you need the fluids after a concussion.”

“A concussion?” Kass repeated and tried to make light of the situation by laughing. “Is that why I have this awful pounding inside my skull?”

“Don’t joke!” Amy cried. “I was so afraid…” she whispered, biting her lower lip. “…we’d lose you.”

“Can’t get rid of me that easily,” Kass quipped, wrapping her mother in a hug as she stood up.

“Stop it, Kassiopeia!” Amy dropped her arms at her sides in exasperation.

“Okay…” Kass winced, and continued to remove the needle. “Sorry. How long was I out?”

“Three hours,” Amy replied.

“Oh,” Kass said, rubbing her hair, searching for evidence of surgery, but finding no stitches. “I’m okay, then?”

“I’ll go get the doctor,” Amy stood up and started across the room.

Kass nodded her thanks, slipping down against the cool pillow, closing her eyes for a momentary peace. Amy stopped, turned around, pressing her hands to her lips.

“How serious are you?”

“What?” Kass frowned, instantly realizing her mother was talking about Davis.

“Things between you and that young man?”

“You mean, Davis,” Kass sighed.

“Sit back down. It’s better for you,” Amy waved her arms, and dropped her gaze to the floor. “I just want to know.”

“Why?” Kass asked, finding her footing.

“Because I don’t think… you should be focused on dating right now,” Amy said, quietly. “You can’t afford to lose your scholarship. Have you even finished your essay?”

Kass winced, the essay a sore point. She still didn’t have the wording right, and it was due next month.

“Nonna and Nonno offered to cover any additional expenses,” Kass began. “…if I need it during my first semester. Davis is not going to get in the way of my schooling.”

“He better not! Or I will have words with him!” Amy said sharply. “I don’t want you to go off to school and get all moony about some guy and then drop out, get pregnant, and never go back.”

“Mamma, that was you and Dad. That’s not me!” Kass said, dropping her eyes to the floor, mortified.

“Yes, but blowing off your essay is foolish, Kass. You need to be thinking smartly,” Amy said. “And now I’m beginning to think this is all the more reason you should stay in the Valley. Someone needs to make sure you take your studies seriously.”

“Mamma!” Kass raised her voice as she wobbled forward as if to prove a point. “That’s not your job anymore. I’m eighteen. You can’t keep telling me what to do. You can’t keep controlling my life!”

“I can if you live under my roof,” Amy snipped.

“But I’m not,” Kass retorted. “I’m living somewhere else.”

“Yeah, with my parents,” Amy muttered a few Romīan curses. “They promise you freedom but it always comes with strings. Always!” she cried. “You think you’re so smart living with them, but they won’t like it that you’re dating the help.” 

Kass stuck her chin in her air. “Davis is more than the help! He’s a decent human being, and he treats me well. He takes care of me, which is more than I can say you do!”

“I’m still your mother,” Amy asserted.

“Mamma, you need help! Serious help!” Kass declared. “And you’re such a hypocrite!” she spit out her own Romīan expletive. “Dating the help! Ha! That’s so rich… you’re dating a janitor.” 

“He’s…he’s…more than a janitor,” Amy sputtered. “You know that. Now I’m going to call Clark and have him pick up your sisters, and I can stay here with you,” Amy replied. “You hit your head. You need someone to sit with you. You’re not feeling well.”

Her mother was the last person she wanted here right now. The only reason Amy should be here was for the insurance since Kass was still listed on her mother’s account.

“Mamma, you’re not feeling well!” Kass exclaimed. “You’re unstable. And I don’t care about Clark.”

“You should,” Amy said. “And you know about his line of work. You should be more respectful.”

“A bodyguard? Mamma, it doesn’t matter what he does, and it shouldn’t matter what Davis does,” Kass replied. “…it should matter who he is.”

“Clark is a good man,” Amy defended.

“And Davis is a better man!” Kass burst out in aggravation. “At least he doesn’t lie about who he is.”

“Clark has to lie. He has to lie for work. He has to lie to protect us.”


Author Notes: Why does Clark have to lie to protect the family? Stay tuned till the next chapter to find out. Thanks for reading. 

1.69, Pt. 2: Jolt (KCLKF)

Wednesday, June 18, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

Unable to access her street, Kass parked two blocks away and started up the steep hillside behind her neighborhood, her sandals slipping in the cascade of mud. She gazed out over her street, the world in chaos. A sudden jolt yanked Kass and Davis apart.

Unearthly shrieking cascaded through the streets as people, barefoot, clothed in sleeping attire, stumbled out of their homes and into their yards. Kass nearly face-planted into the front lawn, breaking her fall with her arms. She pushed herself up as Davis appeared at her side right as an aftershock hit the neighborhood. A huge chunk of mountain catapulted from the Loma Prieta Foothills, colliding with her neighbors roof, and smashing through as though the cedar shingles were paper. The street lines wiggled as tires screeched, a fire engine braking hard in front of her own home. The sickening crunch of trees chopped in half startled Kass as she saw the top half of a pine tossed into the street by the ferocious wind.

As quickly as it began, the earthquake ended, leaving Kass’ heart pounding wildly and her breathing erratic. She made out her Mamma’s hair bobbing in the wind and rain in the foggy distance. The firetruck horn wailed without mercy as emergency responders frantically tried to help the McIrish family out the second story window of their home, a small electrical fire raging in their kitchen. their entire roof collapsed. Davis offered his hand, but Kass ignored his presence, running toward her family as best as she could.

It was worse than she could’ve imagined. Their own roof was completely missing as if a tornado had ripped it to pieces, raining debris down through the two-story home. Parts of walls lay in flattened, leaving gaping holes in the siding. Smoke poured from the back windows, indicating a fire ravaged at least part of the home. Their garage was a crumpled heap, half sliding down the hill she had just climbed. Patches of lawn were drowned in mud holes from the intensity of the rain, and most of the trees were reduced to chopped stumps as a result of the last aftershock.

Both her sisters stood in the pajamas in the front yard. Cari stood in shock, facing the street where lines blurred and headlights bounced like balls on a basketball court instead of steady beams. Her face was pale, her bare feet sinking into the mud. A firefighter raced across their yard as flames erupted at the Lum house across the street, a boulder in place of their roof. Davis rolled up his sleeves and ran to assist while Kass continued deeper into her own yard.

The streetlights were out, and yet the air was lit with flashes of angry lightning and an eerie glow. Kass couldn’t tell where the yard began and where the road ended as a swath of grass shifted across the asphalt. Andi stared in the opposite direction and Kass was unable to see her expression, and her mamma, stood still, facing their home, her white blonde hair flittering in the wind like a helpless butterfly caught in a maelstrom. Kass found it odd that she noticed her mother’s recent dye job. Somehow the normalcy of the thought helped ground reality.

“Mamma!” she exclaimed.

Andi began to cry as Kass walked up from behind. She tried to hug her sister, but Andromeda shoved her away.

“Don’t!” she stormed off across the lawn, collapsing on the edge of the sidewalk in frustrated tears.

Amy waved her arms. “Our… h…h…h…home…” she stuttered.

Their neighbor, Molly walked into the yard in her yellow nightgown and bedroom slippers, one of her daughters, Mandy close behind. Mother and daughter stood in sobbing embrace as they realized their homes were destroyed. Mandy walked into the cracked stone driveway, appearing to cross to reach a distraught Andi as she called out for her neighbor and friend. Davis also returned from his heroic endeavors across the street just as the second aftershock hit Sunset Valley without mercy or warning.

Before she could catch her balance, Kass plummeted toward the ground. The last thing she remembered seeing was the splintered wood of a former tall and gallant pine tree from her yard, and the frightened screams of her loved ones. Someone yelled, “Look out!”

What an odd phrase… as if I have time to stop… Kass wondered.

THWACK!


Author Notes: Hopefully my images aren’t too corny. I tried to depict a disaster more accurately than before, but I’m still pretty new to image editing. Thanks for reading.