Saturday, July 14, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde
The shock of the sudden slap knocked her to back against the building. Kass gasped, bringing her arm up to preemptively block another blow if necessary. Her elbow banged against the brick. She winced. A tall dark imposing figure threw her hands in the air.
“You’re investigating the Madison thing again, aren’t you?”
Kass grimaced. “Ayesh. You gave me a heart attack!”
“I gave you a heart attack!?” her friend placed her hands on her hips. “You’re the one sneaking into City Hall to do what? Get information, amiright?”
“Okay, okay,” Kass protested softly, dusting her scraped palms as she resettled in a standing position. “I can’t…talk about it here.”
“Oh, right?” Ayesha rolled her eyes. “Kass, you’re gonna get hurt or worse.”
“Then that’s exactly why I need to leave,” Kass said, through gritted teeth. “It’s just better if we…”
“Fine… you’re lucky I brought my car,” Ayesha replied with a sniff.
“Great! Let’s go,” Kass declared, following her friend down the street and through Central Park. “How’d you find me?”
“You’re not the only one who’s a detective,” Ayesha grunted as she walked up to a red Tofunda Wagon parked alongside the curb facing Mirabello Plaza.
Kass made a face.
“Okay, your mom.”
Kass quirked a brow. “Mamma knows where I am?”
“When you didn’t answer your phone, I stopped by. Your Mamma said you were out getting to know your future stepfather.”
“So Clark told you?” Kass deduced, and dropped her head, grateful it was dark enough Ayesha couldn’t see her smile as they stepped into the vehicle.
So he’s worried about me? I bet that’s who came to check on me in the basement.
“Can we go for coffee?” she requested. “I told Cy I’d meet him. He said there’s a new place up on Bayview Ridge.”
Ayesha threw her hands in the air before turning the engine over. “Let’s pull an all-nighter. Why not? And then you’ll tell us what the hell you’ve been doing?”
“Yes,” Kass nodded. “Besides… Cyrus can help.”
Less than fifteen minutes later, the girls pulled up outside Sunny Bliss Cafe, a small classic brick building with plenty of bay windows with dark red cedar roof. Several smaller open-air pavilions also shared the lot with plenty of blossoming cherry trees all around the plaza. Two pretty brick fountains bubbled up from the ground, surrounded by thick flower beds of friendly yellow pansies, lining the main walkway. In the center of the plaza stood an old looking clock atop a medium stone with a small pool at its base. This part of town was still being developed, with new shops popping up fairly regularly. And she really did need an alternate to the Jolt, even though she loved Granny Jade.
Cyrus appeared to be the only other patron in the shop. He sat at a window table with three chairs, reading a book while sipping a cappuccino. Upon seeing the ladies arrive, he put his book into his side bag and waved. Kass smiled and nodded in response, approaching the counter to order a cup of hot greenleaf tea and a side of sugar cookies.
“What? No coffee?” Ayesha exclaimed, and clucked her tongue.
“I drank three espressos already,” Kass sighed, rubbing the back of her neck. “I need something to keep me from feeling jittery.”
“Oh alright,, might as well be healthy,” Ayesha mumbled, and pointed. “Grab that bottle of Simpton iced tea,” she said to the barista.
“Wasn’t sure you were gonna show,” Cyrus said as Kass joined his table. “Hey Ayesha.”
“Hi,” Ayesha replied curtly. “Okay, Kass, spill the beans. You’re looking into Madison’s murder aren’t you?”
“A murder?” Cyrus smirked. “Kassiopeia. Girl detective.”
“Oh brother!” Ayesha sighed.
“I’ll tell you what you want to know, but first, Cyrus, can I have the number for your lawyer?” Kass asked.
“My lawyer?” he tilted his head.
“At Butterworth, Honeywell, and Pan,” Kass requested, grinning as she pressed her hands together. “Pretty please?”
“Well sure, but what’s this about? You didn’t whack someone, did you?” Cyrus teased, pulling his phone out.
“Stop it! This is serious!” Ayesha exclaimed.
“I know that,” Cyrus shrugged. “I was just trying to lighten the mood. There…” he hit a button on his phone. “I sent it. Now…”
“Sit,” Kass ordered her best friend. “You’re hovering and you’re nervous… and it’s weird.”
“Excuse me for caring,” Ayesha said, sarcastically, as she slid into the chair. “Now, pretty please tell us what the hell is going on!”
“Don’t leave us in suspense,” Cryus waved his arms.
Kass took a deep breath. It was time to recruit some allies. Over the next half hour, Kass proceeded to explain how she had been investigating Madison’s case, much to Ayesha’s chagrin. The other woman huffed and crossed her arms while Cyrus listened attentively. Kass shared how she found a connection between Madison’s and Jennifer’s untimely deaths, and she suspected they were unrelated to the arson spreading through their community. She spoke about the connection between Madison’s lover, the mayoral candidate, her husband, and her husband’s other lover, Dr. Morgana Wolfe, formerly Goth.
By now, both of her friends listened with rapt attention. Kass said she was convinced someone was using the Sunnyside Smolder as a convenient scapegoat, and she was pretty sure they were going to slip up soon because she had already made the connection between the Altos, their infertility issues, and their business investor, Mortimer Goth. Based on the evidence, she guessed Morgana possibly helped the Altos with their conception problem at one point, but this somehow led to an affair with Bert. She also speculated that Mortimer would pay Dr. Geoffrey Landgrabb for some sort of experimental procedure for Jazzilyn to try and get pregnant for the thirteenth time.
“The only thing I don’t know,” Kass pursed her lips. “…is if Madison was a mistake or an intentional baby mama. Either way she got in the way, and I think Jennifer was close to uncovering something because get this… Bert is friends with the mayor, Nancy, and Ms. Landgrabb happens to own the property where Jennifer was…” she trailed off, unable to bring herself to finish the sentence.
“Holy cowplants!” Ayesha ran a hand through her hair. “And you’ve figured this all out on your own?” she slumped back in the chair in disbelief.
“You really should be a detective,” Cyrus whistled.
“Here’s where I need your help,” Kass began.
“Wait… don’t you think we should go to the police?” Ayesha interjected, and dropped her voice to a whisper. “I mean, this is dangerous llama crap… isn’t it?”
Kass shook her head. “I can’t… not yet. Not until I prove the payments are going to help Jazzilyn conceive, and that someone wanted Madison out of the way because of the threat she posed,” she took a bite of one of her cookies and then offered one to Ayesha, who shook her head, and then Cyrus, who simply frowned.
“She’s right, Kass… this is serious stuff,” he said, quietly.
“That’s why I need proof,” Kass replied. “So Ayesha, you are going to get me into the Goth family party tomorrow…” she glanced at the clock on the wall. “…uh today… and Cyrus, you are going to write me a piece of code to break into the Goth’s financials.”
“Kass, writing code isn’t that simple, and it’s… illegal,” Cyrus protested with a squeak.
“What?” Ayesha’s eyes bugged. “Uh… yeah, I know I agreed to do this, but this is insane.”
“You got the in, didn’t you?” Kass replied. “That’s what you said earlier when you texted.”
“Well, yeah!” Ayesha exclaimed.
“Hold up…” Cyrus interjected.
“You’ve done worse before now,” Kass narrowed her eyes. “I know it. And besides, don’t you want to take down a bad guy? Isn’t that what Cyclone Sword is all about? Getting rid of the forces of evil in this world? Fighting for the little guy? Changing the world for the better?”
Cyrus lifted his hands and shrugged. “She has a point.”
“This is insane! You can’t possibly be considering this,” Ayesha protested.
Kass reached out and laid a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Ayesha, someone took Madison from us… unjustly, and someone eliminated Gage’s mom… and I have information that will help make things right. I need some more proof to take to the police… to Clark, actually, because I’m not sure who I can trust at the police department. Now don’t you want to help?”
“Wha? Clark?? Can’t… trust… the… police…” Ayesha sputtered.
“Because we’re talking about the mayor and her friends, the Altos, and the Landgrabbs, and the…” Kass started, but Cyrus interrupted, as he excitedly dug through his backpack.
“The mother freaking Goths!” he said, his eyes sparkling. “Okay, I’m in. And this is gonna be an all-nighter, you know, so go order me a doughnut and another cappuccino please. Dang! Battery is low,” he dropped his laptop back into his bag, momentarily side-tracked.
“I knew you’d do it!” Kass grinned, realizing he was the easier of the two to bribe with food. “Ayesh? You already got us invites, right?”
“Not exactly,” Ayesha shook her head, and then pressed her hands together in a pleading fashion. “Promise you won’t hate me?”
“What?” Kass asked.
“I… uh… know Alex,” Ayesha replied. “We had a business class together actually, and sort of hit it off last Christmas.”
“Don’t tell me,” Cyrus stopped rummaging for his power cord. “You guys went out!”
“We hooked up a few times,” Ayesha nodded.
“Like hooked up hooked up?” Kass made a face. “How come I didn’t know about this?”
“Just some kissing… with some tongue… and…” Ayesha flushed.
“Aw yeah!” Cyrus threw his hand up for a high five. “You landed a Goth! That’s like a white whale, you know. He’s Sunset Valley’s most eligible bachelor,” he declared, but seeing Kass’ confused look, he added, “I read the celebrity gossip. Sometimes I’m in there.”
“Right…” Kass narrowed her eyes.
“No…” Ayesha protested. “I mean, the guy’s all talk… bragging about his…” she held her hands apart.
Kass’s cheeks turned as red as a rose. Cyrus laughed, amused.
“…but he’s really not one to follow through…” Ayesha brought her hands together. “We never slept together.”
“But he hasn’t forgotten you, yada yada,” Kass interjected, annoyance creeping into her tone. “And you got yourself invited to his uncle’s party. And what about me? I’m the third wheel?”
“Not exactly,” Ayesha winced.
“Am I on the guest list or not?” Kass huffed, flipping her ponytail over her shoulder.
“You’re on a list,” Ayesha continued. “Look, Kass…” she grabbed her friend’s hand. “If you’re going to do this… you’re gonna need help, and you can’t come waltzing in the front door as a guest. You’ll need access to places and so that’s why… if you’re serious about this.”
“Oh spit it out!” Kass said, exasperated.
“You’re on the catering staff,” Ayesha confessed. “As a waitress.”
Author Notes: Thanks for reading. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this chapter. I’m also excited to use old pictures too. Sunny Bliss Cafe is a downloadable lot by PrincessPretty available on MTS. I know I said I’d de-Sim-ify everything, but Simpton tea is the name of the tea item that Ayesha has on the table, from a set by Severinka available on the TSR. Hopefully you didn’t mind a bit of “telling” rather than “showing.” I really wanted to move the plot forward and I had detailed notes from my first attempt at this story, but I just wasn’t feeling a long drawn-out monologue from Kass about what she knows… or suspects. Hope you enjoyed!