Tag Archives: Nancy Landgrabb

1.100, Pt. 2: Suspicions (KCLKF)

Author Note: WordPress Reader is doing an odd thing where an unrelated picture appears at the top of this post,  but I can’t delete it. I’ll check when I’m on my desktop. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

“Why are we here again?”

Kass narrowed her eyes, trying to see into the dingy room. A thick smoke clouded her vision, thanks to the odd blue and green lights. She jumped, startled by the rusting door slamming against its frame. The furniture was terribly outdated. There was even a stack of broken chairs from when people got a little rowdy and used their seats as improvised weapons. The seedy part of the Valley along the highway, she noted. Save a few motorcyclists sitting on bar stools and one lone girl clad in leather shaking her groove thing on the dance floor, the joint was mostly empty. It was midweek, Kass surmised.

“Because…” Kass began, taking Davis’ hand.

They passed by a hulking man leaning against the wall, his arms crossed, wearing dark sunglasses indoors, a cigarette perched in his lips staring. She offered a thin smile and hurried past before tilting her head toward her boyfriend. A swill of cheap perfume, body odor, and watery beer assaulted her nose.

“This is where my contact in the police department said that street vendor, hangs out on Wednesday evenings,” she whispered, stepping over a chewed up wad of gum on the floorboards.

“You mean, Detective Goddard?” Davis’ eyes widened, and she noticed he casually released her hand.

“No,” she frowned. “We’re here for Joel Astroman.”

“No, I mean your contact in the police department,” Davis grimaced. “Detective Hank Goddard, right? You should be careful.”

“Why?” she asked, a smile blossoming on her face. “Are you jealous?”

“No,” a muscle twitched in Davis’ cheek. “…but he’s a little too interested in you.”

“He’s been helpful,” Kass shrugged as they approached the bar. “Nothing more. Nothing less.”

Riiight,” Davis said as if he didn’t believe her and helped her onto a bar stool.

She nearly slipped right off, feeling some liquid on her rear end. She made a face when she realized she sat on a squished fry and ketchup.

“Excuse me,” she directed at the bartender. “You didn’t clean your seats between customers.”

The patrons at the bar all glanced in her direction, and the bartender rolled her eyes as she tossed a napkin Kass’ way.

“This isn’t like a restaurant, you know,” Davis said, in a hushed tone.

“Yeah,” Kass bobbed her head and gulped as she wiped the seat and dabbed at her skirt. “But yikes!”

“You said this was country night,” Davis said, quirking a brow. “I would’ve worn something less… uh… conspicuous,” he straightened the collar of his plaid button-down shirt.

“I thought so too. At least that’s what Ayesha told me,” Kass recalled, placing her hands on the hips of her khaki shorts. “Maybe she had this place confused with somewhere else. It’s called Rodeo-Go-Go…” she lifted her hand to her face as she adjusted the strap on her wedges. “I don’t know how much more country you can get.”

Davis chuckled. “Obviously, you’ve never spent much time in the country.”

“Or in here,” Kass smirked. “Or any bar for that matter.”

“You gonna order somethin’, hon?” the bartender with the spiky hair, the unnatural blonde color clashing with her darker skin asked, throwing a towel over her shoulder.

Now I could’ve used that rather than a lousy paper napkin! 

“…or are you gonna yap all day to your man?” the bartender continued with an annoyed edge to her tone.

“Uh…” Kass’ jaw dropped open at the rudeness of the woman.

“Yeah, we’ll have two waters,” Davis replied, tipping his hat politely when his girlfriend couldn’t respond.

“We only serve paying customers,” the woman snipped. “You come to a bar… you drink. If you want water…” she thumbed over her shoulder. “…it’s in the horse trough out back.”

This gained a guffaw or two from the other customers at the counter. Kass’ cheeks reddened when the bartender dismissed her follow-up request for nectar. Wow! I’m off to a great start! Guess they don’t serve fruit-of-the-vine here. She straightened to her full height and stuck her nose in the air ever so slightly.

“A shot of Bernish whiskey…” she ordered, and deliberately left off the ‘please.’ “…and…” she demonstrated with her thumb and index finger “…cream… and he’ll have…” she glanced over at Davis. “I’m buying,” she offered.

“A glass of that trough water,” he added with a straight face.

Kass smirked and turned her attention back to the bartender. “And some of your deep-fried onion rings.”

The lady rolled her eyes and shook her head, but pulled the amber bottle with the red label and poured two shot glasses, topping each drink with a bit of cream, and placed the drinks before each of them.

“I didn’t order this,” Davis shook his head.

“Yeah, it’s the water of life,” she dismissed him.

“Great!” Kass slid off the barstool. “Your pool table?”

“In the balcony,” the bartender pointed. “I’ll yell when your order’s ready.”

“Thanks,” Kass replied, and pulled Davis’ arm, guiding him toward the stairs.

“Pool table?” Davis repeated, and narrowed his eyes. “And I didn’t want this.”

“When in Rome…” Kass waved her free hand, though she supposed this place was the furthest thing from the ancient Eorthe society. “…you can’t come to a bar and order water. I know that much,” she sighed. “We look like total noobs. Thanks for coming with. Ayesha couldn’t get out of a family dinner.”

“She come here a lot?” Davis squinted.

“Ayesh knows every place in town,” Kass replied, adjusting her spaghetti strap underneath a cute green button-down. “But I have no idea why Rodeo-Go-Go is a biker bar rather than a country bar.”

“Oh this place is charming,” Davis bobbed his head and adjusted his cowboy hat as they climbed the steps. “It’s…” his foot crashed through the worn wooden step.

No one even flinched at the sound, or looked up. Everyone was focused on the poker game on the television.

“…just this once?” Kass forced a smile and took his drink as he pulled himself out of the broken step.

“…such a dive!” Davis scowled.

Kass inhaled sharply. “It won’t be a typical date night, I promise,” she patted his chest. “Now we have a better view of the bar so we can see when my contact comes in.”

“So you had an ulterior motive for coming upstairs?” he tilted his head.

She smiled. “Exactly.”

He nodded and set their glasses on a tiny table. “Since we’re here…” he pulled out the pool rack.

Kass downed her shot and watched her boyfriend perfectly line up billiard balls. She rubbed her chest as she swallowed the smooth golden liquid, the cream sweetening the drink. To be completely honest, she ordered the first thing that came to mind, something she read in a book. Not like Nonno’s Cranerlet Nuala that he drinks with dinner nor like dad’s foul-smelling blonde ale that he kicks back every once in awhile. It wasn’t like she had that much experience with ‘juice,’ but she half-expected Davis to know more and order something alcoholic.

“Do you really want water?” she asked. “I can go see if I can find someone else to get us a glass.”

“Naw,” he shrugged. “It’s okay. You can have my shot though if you want.”

“Are you sure?” she winced.

“Yeah, I’m driving,” he said, but it sounded more like an excuse than the truth.

Kass didn’t pry. Maybe he didn’t drink on principle. Something to do with his faith. The second shot swished down even more smoothly. The door opened downstairs and she peeked over the railing. Not Joel. She narrowed her eyes. This place didn’t seem like the kind of joint a scrawny police informant would patronize, but Detective Goddard said his partner often met informants here.

Davis picked up pool cues and handed one to Kass. He explained a few rules, but Kass wasn’t really listening. She couldn’t imagine why Detective Hunter would pick this locale. The place was lacking. She would still prefer a glass of wine and civilized waitresses any day.

But that was the exact reason she was here tonight – to catch Detective Hunter with his informant. Supposedly, he would occasionally meet Joel, and Kass wanted to ask the guy if he could identify the people who sold him the brooch. Maybe they were the same people who were in the Sell’n’Swap.

When she called the police station, all Hank would tell her, once she finally reached him, was that Detective Hunter was following up a lead on the brooch. He seemed surprised that his partner hadn’t mentioned the shopkeeper handing over the stolen piece. After checking the storage, he was unable to find the brooch so he supposed Detective Hunter still had it in his possession.

“Do you think he’ll show?” Davis asked.

“Yeah, why?” Kass frowned.

She had been tempted to mention her shocking discovery of Bella to the detective. She thought about giving them a copy of the video tape with Madison outside the Big Box Superstore, but decided to turn over that information to Jennifer first. Her boss was excited by the surprising evidence as they had been attempting to create a timeline of Madison’s last week, and build a case against the baby’s father. When a pregnant woman is murdered, the father is always a suspect, Jennifer explained.

Davis lined up his shot. “The goal of the game is…”

Kass was barely paying attention. Jennifer wasn’t convinced the woman on the tape was Bella Goth. The wannabe security guard, future artist-slash-sales clerk, Stacy had graciously made Kass a copy, especially after Kass paid her half a week’s salary. New canvases aren’t cheap, Stacy said. It was just one more reminder that Kass didn’t make much at her job, but she didn’t mind doing grunt work and filing for the legal aid office if it meant catching bad guys.

“Was that good?” she asked after he finished his first shot.

“Eh,” he shrugged, leaning heavily on his palm on the edge of the table.

She pushed her thumb through her belt loop of her high-waisted shorts and waited for him to continue, realizing she had a moment before it would be her turn.

Stacy had cleaned up the image as best as she could, but Jennifer argued the lady could’ve been a lookalike. It wasn’t anywhere near Spooky Day so Kass really didn’t think it was a costume, but it wasn’t like she and her friends had never dressed up as characters from one of Bella’s television productions or movies. Still the woman outside Big Box was a material witness, Jennifer consented, and if they could find her, they could ask her questions.

Yeah, like why she needed those specific push-pins. And why would she exercise caution only to get caught on camera outside the store? Even if it was just her profile? And why hang a flier in Jade’s Java Jolt with a misspelled word that links back to a defunct travel agency? If it ever existed. Connected to a law office? And Bella’s phone number? The whole thing was too coincidental. Despite the number of times Kass ran the conspiracy theories in her mind, she couldn’t generate a good enough answer.

How did I just so happen to stumble onto all these random details? her eyes widened. It was like someone had dropped breadcrumbs, leading her to some conclusion. She chewed her lower lip. …but to what? 


Author Notes: Thanks for reading. A few things… I had just added Starlight Shores to my game when I captured these screenshots the first time. For whatever reason, I plopped Rodeo Go-Go into Sunset Valley and sent Kass there to “test” out the lot. Excuse the bad lighting. I hadn’t figured out how to disable “full moon” effects yet in game so it’s the “zombie moon night.” The bartender is Kay ShaikhBernish whiskey is a play on “Irish whiskey.” Hibernia is my Sims world version of Ireland/Scotland. Irish whiskey is referred to as “the water of life.” You can download a Baileys bottle (and other alcohol) for your Sims 3 game from Around the Sims 3. Hope you enjoyed! 

1.80 Old Friends (KCLKF)

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.”

“Touche.”

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. 

1.78, Pt. 3: No Mistake (KCLKF)

Friday, June 20, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

She sat on the park bench, trying to focus on her breathing. In and out. In and out. In and… Across the street, emergency personnel worked the scene of a horrific crime, media buzzed outside the edge of the police tape, and a small crowd of people gathered, some out of idle curiosity, some to watch the events unfold.

It wasn’t fair. Madison deserved more dignity than this inane circus. She narrowed her eyes. They got it wrong. They all got it wrong. This wasn’t a freak accident. This wasn’t a suicide gone wrong. This wasn’t even related to the arsonist. Kass couldn’t explain it, but she knew deep in the recesses of her being that this was murder.

Her eyes wandered as she tried to refocus on something less strenuous and painful. The fir tree offered sweet shady repose, wood commemorating young paramours, initials and hearts carved sporadically into the trunk.  She couldn’t help but feel displaced in their world. How could one think of love in the face of despicable death?

They were temporary lab partners once, chemistry. Madison had teased Kass about her red hair, calling her some name of some silly cartoon girl. Kass had been too focused on achieving all A’s to care, and it wasn’t like she knew anything about the television show character.  It wasn’t like the two ladies ran in the same circles. Madison was focused on being the next “It” girl on the cover of a magazine, the next up and coming model. Kass was focused on being the next valedictorian and starting her own business. She squinted her eyes, noticing a familiar car pull alongside the curb. Madison didn’t get to be an “It”girl, but she was somebody’s girl. Somebody who didn’t want her in the picture anymore.

Kass swallowed hard, feeling dehydrated. Where was Davis? He said he would come back with a bottle of water. The paramedics suggested she go home, especially after confirming her recent concussion. She swatted absently at a buzzing fly, feeling the perspiration drizzle down her neck. She was fine. She wished everyone would stop worrying. Davis insisted on driving her back to her grandparents, but she wasn’t ready. She wanted to scrutinize the unfolding exhibition to see if she picked up any more vibes from the activity and the people. Davis conceded, leaving her to rest on the bench across the street, while he called Abe, Madison’s boyfriend. He still doesn’t know, she winced. That Madison had someone else. Still, it might be good to observe Abe, even though she doubted he was the problem. She had a sixth sense about the situation, but it would be good to cross her t’s and dot her i’s.

Reporters began buzzing around the vehicle, snapping photographs, catching reel, chattering all at once. The media surrounded the mayoral candidate as she stepped from the car, not a loose hair in her signature blonde bun, dark sunglasses covering her eyes. Kass grimaced. What could Nancy Landgrabb possibly be doing here? The mayor incumbent lifted her hand and began to make a statement to the press. Kass shifted from the park bench, supporting her lower back with her hands as she could feel the pain from hitting the pavement.  The sunlight felt oppressive, and she removed her outer sweater and as she crossed the street to hear Nancy’s speech.

“In the wake of tragedy, we feel ripple effects,” the woman was saying. “This is what happens when sections of our city, once bustling with commerce, are allowed to crumble. No longer should these abandoned buildings,” she swept her arm, motioning to the motel. “…be hideouts for our disillusioned youth.”

Kass’ eyes widened.  Concerned citizens had complained about the state of disrepair of the buildings along the highway.   It wasn’t good business. It didn’t make a good statement to tourists. For years, Kass heard stories of kids selling stuff out of their trunks to the highest bidder at the abandoned gas station, and drifters carving out corners to sleep in the crumbling walls of a cannery. She even heard whispers, or rumors, of hot cars racing in a makeshift track on asphalt covered in weeds, behind the once thriving, now condemned motel. Even in a city like Sunset Valley, the world wasn’t always sunny-side-up, as Nancy outlined. Exposing the seedy underbelly and playing on the shocked outrage of the crowd was a ploy to win the favor of her constituents. Kass was sure of it.

“My opponent would have you believe she is paving the way to a brighter future for Sunset Valley, and yet her family property was laid to waste years ago, and she has done nothing to improve this neighborhood, once an important pillar of industry.”

And there’s the rub. Kass waited to hear Nancy’s not-so-subtle jab at Jazzilyn. The Alto family once owned the property where they all stood. Ownership of the property was ambiguous, as some sources claimed the Landgrabbs had been attempting to purchase the land for the better part of a decade. All Kass could discover online was the former inn belonged to a land trust.

“Innovation cannot happen without renovation. It should not take a young woman’s death to realize it is imperative we breathe new life into our industrial district.  That is why I propose this property be the site of a new youth center…”

This brought gasps and sporadic clapping from the crowd. Kass frowned. Nancy Landgrabb’s primary platform had been about how she was protecting and preserving the history and culture of the people.

“…cultivating community resources to preemptively address the burdens of our young people and creating a safe haven for those who have lost hope. We cannot tear down what was once great for fear of losing an important piece of our town’s history. Don’t let the horror of today’s tragedy hamper tomorrow’s triumph. Let’s take back our city!”

This brought a rallying cry from the crowd. A small half-smile played at her lips as Kass turned away from the media, noticing Abe had just arrived with Gage. She had to give Nancy Landgrabb a little credit. There was no mistake. Nancy was a good politician.


Author Notes: Thanks for reading. 

1.27, Pt. 1: Cocktails, Charades, and Debates (KCLKF)

Saturday, June  7, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

Three more minutes. Three more torturous minutes until her grandfather’s speech was concluded. Kass stirred the ice in her water apprehensively, the cubes tinkling against her glass. Somehow the trick alleviated her nerves. She relaxed into the chair, wondering how she artfully roped herself into this evening affair.

Plans had changed. Instead of dinner at Chez Llama with the Landgrabbs, the Rivieras were invited to a gathering of friends of high social standing and political clout at the Wolfe household. Kass felt like she stood out like a sore thumb, a tall, gangling barely-eighteen-year-old redhead, the only one her age in the party. She only had a moment’s introduction to Nancy Landgrabb, the mayoral incumbent, and her husband, the prestigious Dr. Geoffrey Landgrabb, before her grandfather was swept away by some younger active businessmen looking for advice regarding the stock market. Nonna gushed about Nancy’s efforts to maintain status quo, and defending the rights of aging citizens. Kass was all too annoyed. What about the younger citizens? Don’t we have a voice? 

It started with cocktails and morphed into a fully catered dinner. Kass had been seated at the table with her grandparents who were excitedly discussing different political issues in depth with Nancy Landgrabb. Her husband, Geoffrey Landgrabb looked a bit green and excused himself, much to Kass’ chagrin. She had hoped to talk with him about his findings and her father, though she didn’t know what she would’ve said. Hey ignore that whole doctor-patient privilege thing because your EXCES patient’s estranged daughter wants to know what’s going on with him. She rolled her eyes and grabbed a roll, piercing the bread with her nails, and pinching a small ladylike bite.

That’s when the Altos arrived. Thornton Wolff,  the host, invited them. Something about him rubbed Kass the wrong way. She had a feeling the man of short stature made up for everything with good looks and charm. His dark hair was peppered with gray, and his face was soft, despite his reputation as a hard businessman. You didn’t get to be a CEO of a multinational, multi million dollar technology company without stepping on a few toes and bruising a few egos. Someone said he married into the Goth family line to blend old money with the new. Which Goth? Kass wondered.

“I thought it would liven up the party,” he said smugly, knowing he was instituting potential chaos as he shook hands with Albert Alto and politely kissed Jazzilyn Alto on the cheek.

Inevitably, a conversation about the economic shifts as of late started, and one mayoral candidate challenged the other.

“It isn’t polite to debate at a party,” Nancy declined.

“Come now,” Jazzilyn laughed, daintly. “I can’t imagine we were invited to make nice and swap trivial chit-chat. I’m sure our host has more devious plans for us.”

“I’m not prepared,” Nancy shook her head.

“Aren’t you ready to defend your antiquated views?” Jazzilyn challenged, with thinly veiled implications.

Nancy flushed. “I refuse to stoop to your level of rudeness.”

“What rudeness?” Jazzilyn swept her arms across the room. “Didn’t the ancient Greeks of Eorthe gather at parties and debate every topic under the sun?”

“I’ll debate you, young lady,” Nonno had spoken up, already two martinis in. “Someone needs to knock some sense into your brain.”

This brought gasps from the gathering crowd, and a smile to Jazzilyn’s lips.

“After you, my lady,” Nonno waved his arm.

Thornton laid a few ground rules – five minutes each for opening statements, and then three minutes a piece for rebuttal, followed by two minutes closing statements. Kass settled at the table next to her Nonna, feeling uncomfortable about the whole debate. The host and guests seemed to be enjoying the setting. The only person who seemed remotely uncomfortable was Dr. Landgrabb, and his wife, who sat sullenly at the end of the table.

Jazzilyn gave a passionate speech about returning more power to the hands of the people through creating more jobs and opportunities for youth and loosening the obsolete restrictions for supernaturals. Nonno followed with an equally passionate, though cooler, more collected speech about earning one’s place in the world, and rewarding those who worked hard, rather than offering handouts. Kass had heard the speech before. Many times in fact. Nonno was an outspoken advocate against harsher labor laws for supernaturals when he wanted to be. After all, they had unfair advantages, he claimed.

Kass was concerned for her grandfather. At seventy-seven years old, he had already been retired for seventeen years. Wise investments in the stock market paid off and his former company had been good to him. And if anyone had been worried he would be bored with early retirement, they were seriously mistaken. Nonno didn’t understand the meaning of “retired,” as he remained actively involved in the community in social and political circles, taught at the college, and stayed involved in charitable giving.

While Kass could see his devotion to his topic, his insistence on keeping the old ways made her nervous. The last time he had spoken against supernatural rights, his drink had been poisoned. They rushed him to the emergency room and he survived with little damage. Although the police never identified the perpetrator, they assured Mr. Riviera that he was safe. His daughter and granddaughters were more skeptical. Kass had no idea who would want to hurt him or why, but she was fearful his outspoken unpopular beliefs would get him into more serious trouble. 

Kass wiped her spoon with her napkin, laying the utensil to rest next to her unused butter knife and fork. She was too jittery to eat, and still somewhat full from the mac and cheese. She scanned the room, and slowly tilted back in her chair so she could see out onto the deck. The open door provided a nice breeze from the bay, refreshing the stale party air.

The only two individuals not actively listening to the speeches were Tori Andrews and Bert Alto. Kass frowned. What were the private investigator and the pharmaceutical giant doing out on the balcony?

They spoke in hushed tones. Bert continued eating his salad as if he didn’t really care what his wife had to say. Kass narrowed her eyes. I doubt he cares about his wife period.  Her thoughts were yanked back into the room as Nonna gave her arm an abrupt pat and a piercing stare indicating Kass better pay attention. She fixed her gaze on her grandfather for all of ten seconds before her eyes wandered again.

This time, she caught sight of Gage. Her lips parted in surprise. He leaned casually against the wall, hands stuffed in his dress slacks. Tonight his athletic build was even more apparent in his white button down. She smiled and waved discreetly, and he nodded in acknowledgement. What is he doing here?  she puzzled.


Author Notes: I wanted to give a little more insight into the political realm of the story, and the dinner with the Landgrabbs turned party gathering was the perfect opportunity to introduce this more in depth. Kass, of course, feels she has an outsider’s perspective. Despite the fact that she knows her grandparents have wealth, Kass is often blind to her own privilege, and she’s a bit judgmental and probably hypocritical here.

The bit about her grandfather’s poisoning was in my original script as I planned to take a more in-depth look at the political and cultural context surrounding her father’s illness – EXCES. This time around I decided to give it more attention. You’ll recognize Sims names above, another deliberate point on my part to expand beyond Kass’ inner circle as I write this second edition and talk more about community members. I hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading.