Friday, June 20, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde
“You feel better?” Gage inquired.
Kass gulped and nodded as she returned from his car. She handed Gage the keys.
“Thanks for letting me stash my clothes in your vehicle.”
“No problem,” he smiled. “Good thing you stash extra clothes at the office.”
“Good thing,” she repeated with a weak chuckle.
Sometimes she liked to work out and go for a run in the evenings before returning home so she left a change or two of clothes in the lockers at the legal aid office. Today this practice came in handy so she didn’t have to return to her grandparents. The sweater and long sleeved blouse were a little much for the afternoon summer sun.
“Why were you all dressed like that anyhow?” he asked.
“Oh you know,” she shrugged. “Sometimes the office interns can be a little over-zealous with the AC.”
A little white lie? Kass surprised herself. How many of those are you going to tell today?
“You look cuter in that top anyway,” Gage winked.
She laughed, flexing her fingers as she finished braiding her hair. “Someone owes me a bratwurst,” she said, dodging the subject. “Better make it nice and burnt.”
“Say, you could get a tan and match your dog,” Gage teased.
Kass wrinkled her nose. These pop-up tanning booths were a strange addition to the summer festival circuit, but she figured it was another way for the management company to make a quick buck.
“Ninty simoleons for a spray tan?” she shook her head. “I think not.”
“Yeah, with your luck, you’d turn out like a lobster!” Gage hooted.
She elbowed him. “Says the pasty guy.”
After purchasing a bratwurst with all the fixings, two plain hamburgers, and two cups of the festival’s famous fruit punch, Gage followed Kass across the lawn to a nearby picnic table. Central Park offered sweeping views of the Panthalassan Ocean to the west and most major commerce and official government buildings, including City Hall. Kass noticed a familiar red-haired woman held a press conference on the steps outside the mayor’s office. Jazzilyn Alto. Taking the fight to Nancy’s home turf?
A bold move, Kass secretly approved as she nodded and took a bite of her hot dog. Gage munched on his hamburger, devoid of condiments, just as he liked it. As long as she could remember, Gage liked everything plain – hot dogs, hamburgers, black coffee, vanilla ice cream with no toppings, no dressing on salad, nothing but cheese and the occasional pepperoni on pizza. A comfortable silence stretched between them as they ate – one that told of old friendship and deep understanding.
A tourist family in board shorts, sunglasses, and sun hats, desperately trying to fit in, but failing, slathered sunscreen on each others’ arms and backs. Kass smirked. Probably never been to the ocean. Students from Sun U in bikinis naturally tanned… or burned on their beach towels and pop-up camping chairs on the lawn. A few fraternity guys played kicky sack ball, laughing as they demonstrated their lack of hand, eye, and foot coordination, probably from being juiced. An elderly couple strolled hand in hand through the park’s winding paths, stopping at every festival booth as if it were their first time, the woman ecstatic when the man purchased a single red rose from the flower booth in the farmer’s market section.
Kass took another large bite of her hot dog and turned her attention to Gage. She remembered the days when she pretended he was her brother, and once in the seventh grade, she told another guy that he was her ‘man’ only to get the guy to back off. The other kid was plagued with pimples and his breath smelled like salsa. Gage smelled like aftershave, puberty hit early for him, but he was relatively acne-free, a much preferred alternative.
In another lifetime, maybe, she could see herself with someone like Gage. She wished she liked him more. He deserved a good lady in his life. He had an unmistakable twinkle in his blue eyes, and his hair, though almost entirely shaved, was a chestnut brown if she recalled correctly. Gage had been shaving his head since they were freshmen in high school. If anything, he had the “dark” hair for the tall, dark, and handsome fairy-tale girls wanted. And maybe the borderline handsome in a Jean Luc Picard kind-of way, if girls were into that. He certainly had some of the personality appeal too with his lighthearted humor and his undeniable charm, and his efforts to work-out did not go unnoticed. She wondered when the last time he went on a date, and immediately began thinking through which of their friends would most likely go out with him. If only wishes came true like they did in the movies or the books… Gage caught her gaze.
“A simoleon for your thoughts, Kass Fullbright.”
She smiled. “Only if I can toss it in the fountain and make a wish.”
Gage stood up, plucking a simoleon from his pocket.
“Here, I’m going to get a refill on our drinks,” he said, right as a young man clipped the edge of their picnic table.
“Sorry,” the guy mumbled, adjusting his baseball cap.
“Isn’t that the Bachelor kid?” Gage asked.
“Yeah,” Kass swung her legs over the edge of the seat, rubbing her coin for good luck before she tossed.
A playful ‘plop’ told her the simoleon had found its destination.
“What did you wish for?” Gage asked.
“Uh, if I tell you, it won’t come true,” she giggled.
“I’d tell you what I’d wish for,” Gage said, as he closed his eyes and tossed another coin over his shoulder.
“What did you wish for?” she teased. “True love’s kiss? World peace?”
“Mock me if you will, but those are respectable things,” Gage said, sarcastically. “And now…” he grinned wickedly. “I could tell you… but…” he narrowed his eyes playfully. “I’d have to kill you.”
“Riiight,” Kass laughed, but stopped as their attention was drawn to a sullen teenager clunking into another picnic table in their area. “So earlier you asked me what I was thinking… maybe I should treat that request as the same.”
“I think he has a paper route in my neighborhood,” Gage rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“You’re wearing that tropical woody aftershave again, aren’t you?” Kass asked.
“That’s what you were thinking about?” Gage’s eyes widened. “Isn’t he like a freshman?”
“He’ll be a sophomore when school starts again,” Kass laid her hands to rest on the edge of the picnic bench, her fingernails digging gently into the wood. “Why a sudden interest in Mitchell Bachelor?”
Gage grimaced. “His aim could use a little help. The paper always seems to land in Jennifer’s lilac bushes. Do you know how aggravating it is to root around in the bushes in the morning?”
“Let it go,” Kass laughed. “He’s probably in a hurry.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Gage waved his hand dismissively. “Refill?”
“How about rematch?” Kass declared, standing. “Last time we played soccer, I said I’d beat your high score.”
“Oh you think you can beat my high score?” Gage said, amused. “Okay, Fullbright, let’s see what you’ve got.”
While Gage ran home to get a change of clothes, Kass rented a soccer ball from the athletic equipment booth. Casually, she glanced around the other booths while waiting, purposely staying to the eastern side of the park so as to try and catch a glimpse of City Hall. Jazzilyn was still chatting with constituents and reporters on the steps when a furious looking Nancy arrived in a jet black limousine. The mayor incumbent shoved a thick pair of black sunglasses on her face and tossed her decorative scarf over her shoulder as she flounced up the stairs, flanked by men in security uniforms. The mayor’s security practically swatted the media away and one shoved Nancy into the building rather harshly by the elbow.
Kass shook her head as she rifled through a box of loose lower-end gemstones and polished rocks. She didn’t envy Clark’s job, even if he worked for Nancy’s opponent. She gasped, realizing she hadn’t made a wish earlier when she tossed her coin. Wasn’t that bad luck? Would a redo count? she grimaced. Maybe she had some spare coins in her purse. But it was in Gage’s car and he wasn’t at the park.
A strange glittering caught her attention, pulling her gaze away from City Hall’s steps and back to the jeweler’s booth. Her fingers encircled a familiar piece. Her eyes widened. Without a doubt, this was her bisnonna’s brooch. The one that had been stolen.
Author Notes: Thanks for reading. Dun! Dun! Dun! No I haven’t forgotten the break-in or the stolen brooch. Also some more cute friendship moments between Kass and Gage. The Sims and their outfit changes… explained… sort of. I’m loving these random appearances by townies. It’s actually really nice. Makes the town of Sunset Valley and Kass’ story subsequently feel more well-rounded. Hope you enjoyed.