Tag Archives: Vincent “VJ” Alvi

1.99 Sibling Rivalry (KCLKF)

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

After an hour of bike riding, Kass was out of breath. She pulled over to the curb and stepped off her forest green bicycle, dropping the kickstand. Frustrated, she grunted and removed her helmet, looping it over the easy-grip handlebars.

“Hey Kass, it’s okay,” Davis assured, circling back on his mustard yellow bicycle. “The police will call when they have something.”

“Yeah, yeah,” she shook her head, and took a sip of her water. “I’m not worried about it.”

“Uh huh,” he replied as if he didn’t believe her.

It was a lie. She knew it. He knew it. Kass had called the police station yesterday and requested an update in the burglary case. She knew they were busy with other important things like investigating the fires around town and helping the town with recovery after the earthquake, but she was disappointed to hear they had not made headway. The switchboard operator refused to answer her questions about the supposed “brooch” that surfaced at the shop, nor would she speak to the two suspects Horace reported.

“You wanna stop here and eat?” Davis wrapped his arms around his girlfriend in a reassuring manner, tugging her out of her thoughts.

“Sure,” she shrugged, locking her bike on the rack. “Central Park’s as good as any place.”

“All that exercise made me hungry,” Davis grinned. “I’ve got the sandwiches. Do you have the other stuff?”

She patted the second pocket on her lime green backpack. “Yeah. So long as I didn’t munch the chips.”

“Let’s hope not,” he offered to carry her bag, and she smiled as she slid an arm under his own.

She appreciated the little things about him – a wink when he was teasing her, the way his lips would curl into a smirk when he was speaking sarcastically, the way his eyes lit up when she walked into a room, and the way he was a true Southern gentleman. It was nice to be taken care of, even if she was perfectly capable of carrying her own stuff.

They wandered into the park, the summer festival in full swing. Navy blue, lime green, and bright red balloons dotted the green hedges and sidewalks. The city had set up speakers around the picnic area, and a small stage. A female guitarist wearing a denim skirt and retro blouse strummed some fun indie songs, swaying to the beat as she sang in a sultry contralto. Hardly anyone skated on the roller rink, save Beau Andrews and his son. He lifted his hand and waved at the couple. Kass smiled and returned the gesture.

“Hey you two,” Beau skated over to the side rail. “Wanna join me?”

“Maybe after lunch,” Davis replied.

Kass turned and spotted her sister. Her jaw tightened. While she made amends with Carina, she hadn’t tried to talk to Andi yet.  She needed to work up her courage. She clenched and unclenched her fists as she tried to breathe evenly as Davis continued to politely chat with his band mate. She was debating about going over and greeting her sister and VJ when Davis made the decision for her.

“Hi guys,” he approached the younger couple.

“Hey,” VJ spoke first.

“Hello,” Kass managed, awkwardly.

Kass could see her sister’s shoulders tense right before she turned around and managed a polite smile.

“Hi, didn’t expect to see you here,” Andi said, coolly. “VJ thought this would be a great place for a romantic date.”

“We were in the neighborhood and stopped for lunch,” Davis answered.

“Yeah, we have a picnic,” Kass inserted.

“You’re welcome to join us,” Davis offered.

“We…were…” Andi threw a glance at VJ. “…planning to join the hot dog eating contest.”

“Yeah,” VJ said. “Grand prize is two-hundred-and-fifty simoleons,” he rubbed his hands together. “…I can just smell victory!”

“Two hundred and fifty?” Kass’ eyes bugged, as her stomach rumbled.

“Sounds like you’re hungry and ready to go,” Davis teased and jabbed her playfully in the rib cage.

“Tempting,” Kass replied, slowly, dodging to the side.

The prize money could go toward her petty cash for her first semester in college.

Andi lifted her hands. “This is for serious contenders,” she said, almost defensively. “We’ve been prepping for a week. VJ and I even watched Sims.tv videos to gather tips,” she looked lovingly at her boyfriend. “He’s the best like that.”

“Well, Davis has been helping me with errands today,” Kass said quickly. “…and he packed the picnic.”

“It’s just sandwiches,” Davis replied, flushing.

“VJ made me aloo masala curry last night,” Andi kissed her fingers. “Mmm… it’s native to Al Simhara you know.”

“So this contest…I think I’m up for it,” Davis grinned. “Kass?”

“Uh… I think I’ll pass,” she winced, sensing her sister’s underlying hostility. “I don’t really want to puke my guts out.”

“Awww… llamas!” VJ snapped his fingers. “It’d be fun as a foursome.”

“I can take you,” Andi puffed out her chest.

“You can go ahead,” Kass nodded to her boyfriend.

“You sure?” he arched a brow.

“Yeah,” she replied. “I’ll cheer you on from the sidelines.”

She rubbed her arms even though it wasn’t cold. Her sister was obviously still upset with her, and the chill was practically palpable. VJ excitedly took his girlfriend’s hand and led her over to the judge and announced he was entering the contest, followed by Davis. They waited for a few minutes before certain no one else was joining. Kass forced a smile and waved, trying to offer her support. The contestants prepared to gorge, lifting their hands off the table as instructed by the judge. The city official organizing the contest had filled several blue plastic cups with water for each entrant to help as needed. He read out the rules of the contest, and explained there was no time limit. The winner would collect two hundred and fifty simoleons if they were able to keep the food down and beat last year’s record, held by Claire Ursine, twenty-one, the best for Sunset Valley ever. A horn over the loudspeaker alerted the participants that the contest had begun.

As Kass watched, she found her thoughts wandering, even as Beau Andrews wandered over with his wife and son to cheer the hot dog eaters. She had half a mind to stop in the station today, but she was pretty sure she wouldn’t be able to see Detectives Goddard or Hunter quickly. Mayor Nancy Landgrabb announced a break in the arsonist case on the Sunday evening news report. Kass figured the guys were chasing down leads, and Davis wanted to spend his afternoon outdoors since he would be cooped up for the next seventy-two hours push before completing his medical college admission exam.

It wasn’t like she hadn’t already run an errand. Ms. Mata, her grandparents’ housekeeper, needed to be in two places at once, and Kass offered her assistance. Her nonno would probably kill her though if he knew she stuffed his dry cleaning into her backpack. She liked feeling useful though. It was weird staying in the big house for several weeks. At first, it was fun, but now she missed her old mattress and how it fit the curvature of her spine perfectly, the smell of her mamma’s rose potpourri in the shared bathroom, the way the shower door wouldn’t quite close properly, hearing her sisters move around above her head when she read on the living room couch because of familiar floorboard creaks, and even the way macaroni and cheese from a box tasted cooked in the old aluminum pots her dad left behind when he moved out. She was tempted to stop at EverFresh Delights Grocer before heading back to the estate and picking up a package.

It wasn’t until halfway through the contest that Kass’ mind returned to the present. VJ was actively stuffing his countless hot dog into his mouth. Davis paused momentarily to burp, and Kass smirked. She probably would too if she was stuffing her face. Andi held her hand over her face and for a moment, Kass wondered if the younger girl was going to make it. Andi picked up a cup of water and took several hefty swigs before returning to the objective.

“She’s holding her own up there, isn’t she?” Victoria Andrews remarked, impressed.

“Yeah,” Kass admitted, surprised at how competitive her sister was.

“We held a chubby bunny contest last week at youth group,” Bebe Hart said, strolling up and joining the crowd. “Andi shoved like a dozen marshmallows into her mouth. I spit out my third. I couldn’t handle it.”

“What does a marshmallow contest have to do with youth group?” Kass grimaced, and then immediately regretted her question as Bebe made a face.

“It’s just for fun, duh,” Bebe rolled her eyes.

“Oh,” Kass replied, dumbly.

I guess not everything has some spiritual meaning, she figured.

“They look like they’re having fun,” Victoria commented.

Beau began chasing Jordan as his son tried climbing beneath the buffet covered by a blue-and-white checkered tablecloth. Andi placed both hands on the table and smiled down at the little boy.

“What are you doing down there?” she asked.

VJ coughed and hit his chest with determination. He would finish. Kass had to laugh at Davis’s expression. He looked practically drunk with a slap-happy grin, his eyes watering. She whistled and clapped her hands.

“You can do it, Davis!”

Andi’s gaze whipped up at her sister, as if Kass’ encouragament was an issued challenge. With new resolve, she continued to stuff the hot dogs down her throat. Whoa! I really need to make amends with her soon, Kass realized.

When the judge called time, Andi looked about ready to puke as she ran toward the bushes and hurled over, holding her knees and gasping. VJ was forced to stop midway through his last hot dog. Only Davis had an excited grin on his face when the contest organizer announced the winner. Kass felt torn between congratulating her boyfriend and checking on her sister. The organizers reset the table, three towering plates of hot dogs and three brand new cups.

“Hey are you okay?” Kass asked, softly, as she approached her sister.

“Yeah,” Andi nodded and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, smearing her makeup. “I should’ve known it was bad to challenge Davis. I mean…” she straightened to her full height. “…he’s a full grown man and I’m…”

“…super competitive today!” Kass interjected with a smile. “You gave it your best.”

“I guess,” Andi rolled her shoulders and cracked her knuckles, following her sister to the snow cone cart. “There’s always next year.”

“How many did you eat anyhow?” Kass inquired, scooping the slush into her paper cone.

“I think…” Andi winced. “…twenty two.”

“Hey! A new record!” Kass grinned, dousing the shaved ice with blue raspberry syrup.

“You beat me, baby,” VJ admitted as he walked over and threw an arm around his girlfriend’s shoulder. “I only managed eighteen.”

“I wonder what the world record is,” Davis said, bemused as he teetered toward Kass, and placed a hand on his hip to keep his balance.

“Whoa! You okay?” Kass put her hands out to keep him from falling into her.

“Hot dogs…” Davis hit his chest and burped. “…don’t sit well with me.”

“Then why did you enter?” she rolled her eyes.

“Sounded like a good idea at the time,” he shrugged. “And always like a challenge.”

“Twenty five,” she shook her head in disbelief.

Andi joined her sister on the picnic bench with her own grape snow cone. The guys waited near the cart for the attendant to return with more syrups. They chatted for a few minutes about video games, VJ twisting to crack his back.

“I can’t believe you can eat that after all those hot dogs,” Kass groaned, rubbing her temples at the sudden onset of brain freeze. “How any of you can eat after the contest?”

“It’s mostly water,” Andi replied. “Plus…” she stuck out her purple-colored tongue. “…grape’s my favorite.”

“Are we cool?” Kass asked, hesitantly.

“I guess,” Andi sighed. “I was hoping my boyfriend would beat your boyfriend.”

“This isn’t a contest,” Kass said, and then she laughed. “Well, I guess it was, but I mean…”

“I know what you meant,” Andi said. “It’s not a my-boyfriend-is-better-than-yours contest.”

“Right…” Kass glanced off in the distance. “But that’s not what I meant… I mean, in terms of us being cool.”

She swallowed hard and continued.  “Andi, I’m so sorry about last night. I didn’t know how to tell you and Cari and I think I did it badly.”

“I don’t know how you could deliver that news well. You did the best you could,” Andi reassured me. “…well with Cari blowing her stack that is.”

“Yeah,” Kass smiled, weakly.

“Thank you for telling me.”

“You’re welcome. You had a right to know.”

“No, thank you for being the one to tell me… tell us, that is. It’s a lot easier coming from you than from our dad. Does Mamma know?”

“Not yet.”

“Oh,” Andi glanced down at her snow cone. She took a deep breath and without looking up, she added, “Well, when you’re ready to… I can be there.”

“Really?” Kass’s eyes widened. “Thank you.”

“Yeah,” Andi nudged Kass reassuringly, their shoulders tapping. “That’s what sisters are for.”


Author Notes: Thanks for reading. This one was different than the previous version of Kass and Andi’s conversation. This one matches the in-game timeline, and with a couple other things up my sleeve, I decided to wait to have the two girls discuss woohoo and faith until later. It was fun to watch the sibling rivalry here. They did something like it in game too if my memory serves me well, and my notes are accurate. I had fun writing this chapter. I need a little lightheartedness for all that’s coming. 🙂 I kept trying to fit in some of these screenies, but couldn’t figure out a good way in chapter, so here you go… some extras…

The happy couple chatting before Kass and Davis arrive
Kass and Davis do end up joining Beau.
Kass takes a bow and nearly falls over on her skates.
Poor Davis didn’t fair so well post-contest after all.

Hope you enjoyed! 

1.97 Ready, Fire, Aim (KCLKF)

Sunday, July 1st, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

“I straightened my hair,” Andi said. “What do you think?”

VJ shrugged. “Looks nice, baby.”

“Mister Koffi is the best hairdresser in the state,” Andi declared, contently running her fingers through her locks.

Gobias Koffi had been the Fullbright’s stylist for years, since Andromeda was still crawling around in diapers. He loved making clients happy and feel confident about their looks.

He beamed with pride. “I like to think you’re going to be a starlet someday.”

Andi shook her head, smiling shyly. “No ambitions to be an actress. Just an artist. And that’s what you are, Mister Koffi.”

“No Mister Koffi me,” he laughed lightly. “Just call me Gobias.”

“I’ve known you forever,” Andi winced. “I’ve never called you anything but Mister Koffi.”

“Makes me feel old, darling,” he removed his glasses and cleaned the lens against his patterned shirt. “And you…” he eyed VJ sharply. “Can have a makeover anytime you choose. I’ll give you the friends and family discount.”

“Uh?” VJ scratched his head. “Thanks?”

“My usual please?” Carina inquired of the portly barista as she ordered soothing chamomile. “No wait… uh…” she scratched her head a little. “…what other teas do you have today?”

“We’ve got peppermint and sweet grass and bumbleleaf,” Abe offered.

“Got anything to cure romantic blues?” Carina quipped, and then frowned immediately. “Oh gawd! I’m so sorry. How you holdin’ up?”

“Oh, I’m holdin’,” Abe forced a smile. “Life goes on… I guess. It wasn’t like Maddy and I were doing all that well at the end.”

“Still, it’s an epic loss,” she said, dramatically. “I’m sorry.”

He shrugged. “I’d rather not talk about it. We just got in a new kind of cinnamon tea. It’s supposed to be good for energy and romance, I think libido…” he sighed. “Oh, are you too young for this?”

“Probably,” she grinned. “But I’ll take a medium sized cinnamon tea if you don’t mind.”

“Coming right up,” he replied.

“How’s my best customer?” Jade Moss winked and opened her arms. “You know I’ve always thought of you as a granddaughter.”

“Aww… thanks, Granny,” Kass grinned, offering the coffeehouse proprietress a hug.

“I hear my grandson might be moving in with you this fall,” she said, her blue eyes twinkling.

“Whoa! Whoa!” Kass waved her hands. “No… it’s too soon. No we’re not moving in together. I’m pretty sure I’m in a dorm. Uh… wow… did you really think that? We just started dating.”

Jade smiled warmly. “I see you bring out good things in my grandson. I’m happy for you two. It’s been a long time for him.”

Kass frowned as she climbed the stairs. Was Davis’ grandmother referencing an ex? For all their talk about Gage, and even Cyrus, they hadn’t actually discussed his romantic past.

This should be interesting, Kass thought as she spotted her kid sister’s boyfriend, chatting with the family hairdresser.

“Mister Koffi,” she exclaimed in greeting. “Like the shirt.”

“Thanks, my boyfriend picked it out,” he remarked, stretching his neck like a proud peacock. “And seriously, girl, call me Gobias. You’re what? Eighteen now.”

“He’s got a good sense of style,” Kass nodded. “And yeah I’m eighteen.”

“Yes he does,” Andi agreed. “I hope you don’t mind VJ tagged along.”

“Mind?” Kass shook her head. “No, not really.”

“Great,” Andi grinned, her freckled cheeks turning a slight happy pink. “I’m gonna order.”

“Hi you must be VJ,” Kass reached out to shake his hand. “I’m Kass, Andi’s older sister.”

“Nice to meet you,” VJ said. “I hope I’m not butting in on sister time.”

“Not at all,” Kass lied. “Do you have any siblings?”

“A little brother,” VJ replied. “Miraj. He’s a lot younger though so we don’t do much together except when he needs help on homework. Maths.”

“Yeah, maths are rough,” Kass bobbed her head.

“I’ll let you ladies catch up and I’ll be over here. Foosball is calling my name,” he said. “Gobias, how ’bout we go around with Mrs. Keaton here?”

“You’re on, kid,” Gobias grinned.

“So spill,” she wiggled her shoulders as she settled into the chair. “What’s going on?”

“What do you mean?” Kass swallowed hard and feigned a smile. “Can’t I just want to spend time with my sisters?”

“Okay…” Andi crossed her arms. “Then I’ll invite VJ back over here.”

“And I’ll go get a refill on my cinnamon tea,” Carina said with a ‘hmph’ and scratched at the back of her neck.

When Carina was two, she fell off a horse. Mamma wanted a family photo on a dude ranch in Point Reyes. Kass was barely five, and Andi was just a baby. Cari was bleeding from her head. Twenty-seven stitches. That’s what she needed. And a transfusion. From her father. The scar remained at the base of her skull to this day. What if Howard transferred something to Carina?

When Andi was six, she nearly drowned in the ocean. She was chasing seagulls and fell right into the water. Sucked out to sea by the riptide, she could’ve died. Howard rescued his youngest child and gave her mouth-to-mouth. What if the oxygen in his lungs was contaminated?

Kass swallowed hard and closed her eyes for a second. These were her sisters. Her blood. They had a right to know. They had a right to know about their father.

“Come on Kass. You dragged me out of the house when there’s a Haute Knights episode on TV,” Cari snipped. “I’d better be here for a good reason.”

“Cari, there’s this thing called DVR,” Andi rolled her eyes.

Kass grunted. Scarlett’s dad was on that show.

“It’s the experience, sheesh! Andi! Popcorn, sparkling cider, doing my nails, and Haute Knights. I do it every Monday night. You should know,” Cari exclaimed, waving her arms erratically.

“Calm down, Cari,” Kass urged.

“So you didn’t just want to hang out, did you?” Andi probed.

“Okay,” Kass sighed. “I wanted to tell you about something…someone… well, it concerns you, so I thought you should know.”

“What could that pos-si-bl-y be?” Cari huffed.

“Cut the sarcasm for five seconds, please?” Kass begged, the irritation building in her tone. “What I’m about to tell you is crazy, but I thought you should know because it does concern you and your health.”

“My health?” Andi blinked rapidly.

“What?” Cari grunted.

“I saw Dad,” Kass admitted quietly.

“WHA?” Cari shouted. “You did what? How could you! You traitor!”

“Cari, hush, people are staring,” Kass winced, warning softly.

“You saw dad?” Andi repeated.

“Yes,” Kass affirmed. “I did. He met me for coffee a little over a week ago. He wanted to congratulate me on graduating and to tell me about his health…”

“I don’t give one flying hoot about his health!” Cari snapped. “He’s a llama’s ass and he shouldn’t have contacted you. And you shouldn’t have seen him.”

“Cari, your language,” Andi blanched.

“Well he is,” she grunted.

“Cari, please, you’re not making it easy to tell you,” Kass said, feeling defeated.

“Okay, so what is it?” Cari said, impatiently.

“Howard has EXCES,” Kass burst out.

Both sisters stared in shock. Customers chattered in the background, light music streamed through the radio, and the espresso machine whirred, cutting the tension in the awkward silence. Andi spoke first.

“Doesn’t that mean…” she started.

“Yes,” Kass nodded, my voice barely above a whisper.

“What the Hades, Kass? Dad’s an alien?!?” Cari exclaimed.

“Cari, language,” Andi sighed sadly.

“I don’t care, Andi, our sister drags us out of the house tonight for coffee…”

“Oh, you make it sound like I forced you here, Cari. I didn’t drag you here kicking and screaming,” Kass threw her hands up in the air.

“…and then you tell us you met with Dad and if that isn’t enough, now you’re telling me Dad has some kind of alien disease and what? So we might have it too? What a jerk! How could he drop a bomb on me like that? On us!? How could you? I mean, our lives were perfectly fine until now and this stupid earthquake ruined everything too.”

“Not everything is about you, Carina! This affects all of us and if you’d just pull yourself out of your own world, you’d see that,” Kass sighed.

“Both of you just calm down,” Andi interjected.

“I will not calm down!” Cari refused. “How can you be so calm? We just found out we’re aliens.”

“We are not aliens!” Kass countered.

“No, but we’ve got alien DNA in us,” Cari cried. “I don’t have any friends as is and no boyfriend and now… uhhh!” she stomped her feet in quick succession. “This is going to make it worse.”

“Still thinking only of yourself,” Kass clenched and uncurled her fists at her sister’s tantrum.

“Would both of you stop being so selfish for one moment and just all take a breath? We need to figure this out!” Andi said rationally.

“I don’t want to figure it out. I didn’t want anything to do with Howard before today and I certainly don’t want anything to do with him now,” Cari huffed.

“Please…” Andi said, tears welling in her eyes. “Please… I… I’m going to talk to VJ.”

Andi’s shoulders hunched as she walked away, almost defeated. VJ gave her a hug, and then glanced in their direction with a worried look. He said something incoherent. Andi shook her head and pointed to the foosball table.

“Great! Look at what you did!” Cari exclaimed, leaping to her feet.

“What I did!” Kass said defensively. “What you did! You have to go blowing everything out of proportion, don’t you.”

“I resent that,” Cari narrowed her eyes. “If you had any sense at all, you’d protect her instead of exposing her to the sins of our father.”

“Cari, he didn’t cause his own disease. He doesn’t even know who his biological family members really are. And he had no idea until recently.”

“How do you know that?”

“I don’t think he’d lie to us.”

“He procreated! And then he had the nerve to tell us ‘oh sorry, by the way, I have an alien disease, and maybe you do too.’”

“Cari, sarcasm isn’t helpful. And how can you be so ungrateful? If he didn’t ‘procreate,’ you and I wouldn’t be here.”

“I know that! Sometimes I wish I wasn’t here!”

Kass caught her breath, disbelieving what Carina just said. What did she mean? An overwhelming urge to hug her sister washed over her. She wanted to tell her everything would be okay, but she refrained. She wouldn’t take it well.

“Sometimes I wish I wasn’t here. It’d have been easier on Mamma with just two kids instead of three and I’m such a loser to boot.”

“Carina, you aren’t a loser.”

“Yeah well I’m the progeny of a cheating bastard and a depressed mood-swinging mother and now all of you have somebody special in your lives and I don’t. I can’t stand it. My life is ruined.”

“Your life isn’t ruined. We’ll get through this.”

“How can you say that? How can I ever trust you again?”

Cari covered her face and ran away in angry tears. Kass garnered quite a few looks from the coffee shop patrons. She awkwardly rubbed her face on her sleeve, feeling tears forming in her eyes.

“Hey I overheard…” Abe approached cautiously. “Uh… are you okay?”

“No, just everything in my life is falling apart,” Kass said sarcastically, and laughed joylessly. “Gives a whole new meaning to Ready. Fire. Aim. I should’ve known…” she cast her gaze to her shoes.

“Well, I just want to make sure you and your sisters are okay,” Abe said, his face concerned.

“Thanks,” Kass said genuinely. “We’ll be okay. I’m sorry you had to see that. And for… uh ruining the ambience on the patio.”

Abe shrugged. “Eh… I’ve seen worse for a Sunday night. Live entertainment always spices things up.”

“Hey!” she winced.

“You still want that mocha you ordered?” he asked softly. “I can make you a new one.”

“Gawd! No!” she shook her head and pulled a few Simoleons from her pocket. “Sorry. I never picked it up.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he waved his hands. “On the house.”

“You sure?” she tilted her head skeptically.

“Hey, you raised money for a service for Maddy,” Abe replied. “The least I can do is give you a free drink.”

Her smile waned in sadness. She reached out her arms and offered a sympathetic embrace to a guy she didn’t know all that well, but figured he could use a hug. He smelled of coffee beans, a pinch of cinnamon,  sweat, and vanilla.

“Hey um… Kass?” he began.

“Yeah?”

“You think we could do the wake for Maddy here?”

Kass’ eyes widened in surprise.

“I already spoke to a shepherd I know, and um… asked Granny if it was okay. I think we’ve raised enough money for a decent burial and uh… some flowers and stuff,” he sniffled. “Maddy liked pink roses, and uhm… I know they aren’t cheap.”

Kass smiled. “I think she’d really like that.”


Author Notes: So much happened in this chapter, but the first time around, I neglected to add the townies, mostly to get right to the drama. This time it felt right to include Gobias and Justine Keaton and Abe. Plus this is the first time Kass sees Abe after Madison’s death and we haven’t talked about the service really yet. I also felt like it adds more color to the town and their lives to include some of the additional dialogue and moments between people. Gobias is hinted at being bisexual in his Sims bio, so I thought I’d at least mention the “boyfriend.” Right now he’s into dudes. For awhile I had a weird glitch in my game with lines on the back of Sims’ necks, particularly obvious as Cari has short hair. The story about falling off a “horse” is moderately true to life, with many more stitches in this story than in my sister’s case. Also the almost-drowning thing may or may not have actually happened with me… but for the sake of the story, it happened to Andi. Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed. 

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.

1.65, Pt. 1: Filling in the Blanks (KCLKF)

Saturday June 14, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde

Kass walked down the sidewalk after leaving the bus station, backpack slung over shoulder. Her cell phone jingled. She plucked her phone from her pocket. Unknown number.

“Hello?”

Kass?”

It was Clark’s voice.

Don’t hang up. Please. We need to talk.”

Kass glanced over her shoulder as the bus drove by, wondering if she should bother to listen to her mother’s boyfriend. She was already late to her sisters’ soccer game in the park.

Can we meet?” 

Meet? He wanted to meet? Kass didn’t understand what his agenda was. Would he try and chastise her for chewing out her mom? Or did he want to confess something new? She wasn’t sure she could trust him. She angled around a food cart, and a small crowd of kids ordering hot dogs. The pungent scent of sauerkraut hung in the air as the frying oil sizzled.

“Why?” she finally spoke.

I need to explain some things… to make things better, for you and your family. I should’ve been honest with you from the beginning.” 

Yeah you should have, Kass rolled her eyes as she lifted up a finger to indicate she wanted a bratwurst from the vendor, and then pointed to the spicy mustard and dill pickles. Half a bowl of chicken tortilla soup wasn’t enough to be filling. She handed two Simoleons to the portly merchant in exchange for a second dinner.

“Central Park? Two hours. I’ll give you five minutes,” she offered.

I’ll take it.

Kass settled onto a park bench, munching on her meal in between cheering for the Community Sharks. Andi blocked nearly two dozen shots during the game as the goalie, and Carina kicked more than five balls into the net before the end of the game. Her siblings high-fived each other and then came over to greet their older sister with a big sweaty group hug. Kass laughed, and congratulated them on the win. They invited her to join the team for ice cream shakes at Hogan’s, but she shook her head. Her face darkened. She had an impending meeting with Clark and she could already see him on the opposite side of the field. The girls scampered off, and Kass nodded to Clark. He began making his way around the dispersing crowd right as VJ, Andi’s new boyfriend approached.

“Kass, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“Uh… hi… VJ, right?” Kass said, forcing herself to smile.

“Andi is staying over at our house tonight,” he said.

“What?” Kass narrowed her eyes.

“Don’t worry. Dad’s got a spare bed in the parsonage,” VJ assured. “Got its own bathroom too.”

“I’m… not… worried…” Kass said robotically.

“Sure,” VJ replied, sarcastically. “I know what you think, and I know you think you know what I’m after, but I’m not,” his tone softened. “I really care about Andromeda, and she said that it’s not safe for her to be at home right now.”

Kass’ heart sank. Because of Mamma? 

“I think she’s terrified somebody’s gonna break into the house again,” VJ said. “I just wish she’d talk to me about it. I wish I was there when it happened. I could’ve helped.”

Kass swallowed hard. “I don’t know about that, but thank… you…” she managed, her words stilted.

“You know what she asked me, right?” VJ inquired. “To move in with us? Temporarily?”

Kass’s eyes widened. Andi was fearful for her safety? Because of the home invader… or our mother’s instability? 

“I take it by your stunned silence you didn’t know,” VJ continued. “You and her seemed pretty tight. She talks about you a lot.”

“She does?” Kass felt her heartbeat accelerate.

“Yeah, that you’re always trying to protect them? I can do that too,” VJ asserted. “Look, it’s good to look out for your sisters, but you are leaving for uni soon and it’s a good idea for Andi to have someone else around she can rely on.”

Kass could see flashes. Fragments of memories. She looked up. Falling rain. Jagged stretches of light across an angry night sky. An edge of a roof. Someone else she can rely on. The words looped in her head like a record stuck on repeat, and just as it scratched and started again, she could feel her hand slipping.  Every time. She doubled over, wheezing.

“Hey!” VJ inserted, lifting his hands awkwardly, uncertain. “You okay?”

Kass gripped her knees, slowly allowing her heart rate and breathing to return to normal. What was that? 

“I’m…fine…” she bit out. “I’ll talk to Andi.”

“No! I don’t want Andi to know we talked. I just want her to be okay. Is something going on at home that I should know about?”

You mean like Mamma slipping in and out of frenzied, unnecessary panic and deep depression? Kass made eye contact with Clark who was on approach from the left.

“I’m fine. And thanks for asking. I’ll figure something out,” Kass said abruptly, waving VJ off.

He backed away, bewildered, but left her alone as Clark walked up next to her.

“Kass, how are you?” he asked.

“Clark, there is no time for pleasantries,” she replied.

“You look pale. Can I get you some water?” he offered.

“No, what do you want?”

“Your mother is a wreck after your argument,” he began.

“And you’ve come to lecture me?” Kass grimaced and took a step back. “I don’t need you to be my dad.”

“No, I wouldn’t… I’m not…”

“…aren’t you?”

“Can we sit?”

Kass stuck her chin in the air, and crossed her arms. “I prefer to stand.”

“How was the game?”

“They won,” she managed.

“Really? That’s great!” his eyes lit up.

“Clark, you called me,” Kass said, briskly. “And not to talk about my sisters’ soccer match.”

“I know,” he sighed. “Look, we didn’t get off on the right foot.”

“Are you kidding me?” Kass exclaimed. “I’m not even sure if you were ever walking forward.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, a hint of the Bergish accent slipping into his tone. “I wasn’t very up front with you.”

Her eyes widened as she tilted her head.

“I wasn’t at all up front with you,” he corrected. “And I want to set the record straight.”

“Another lie?”

“I am studying opera. That isn’t a lie. My employer recommended it.”

“Jazzilyn Alto, if I recall correctly.”

Kass shifted her footing, fiddling with her cross pendant.

“No, I wanted to set the record straight about what your mother and I are doing.”

Kass made a face. She didn’t want to know about her mother’s relationship, and she certainly didn’t feel comfortable discussing her their sex life.

“…when we leave for overnights, we’re not spending the night together, not in the way you think…I have a sister,” he sighed, and pulled his beanie cap off and into his hands. “Can we please sit?”

Kass swung her arms in protest but turned and plopped on a nearby bench,slouching like a sullen teenager. Clark sat next to her.

“She is recovering from a gunshot wound that severed her spine. She’s in a facility in Bay City,” he explained.

Kass’s lips parted slightly. She did not expect that.

“…she needs constant help as she goes through intensive therapy. She won’t ever walk again, the doctors say, but we’re hopeful with new medical advances,” Clark smiled wistfully. “She’s my kid sister. I couldn’t protect her.”

Any remaining animosity between them dissipated, and the clouds of mistrust began to fade away. Her heart softened.

“What happened?” she asked, quietly.

“She was with her fiancé. They were picking out a wedding ring,” his voice shook with emotion. “They were shot while leaving the jeweler’s. The ring still fresh on her finger.”

“Why?” Kass gasped.

“Wrong place. Wrong time. Gang shooting, they said,” Clark shifted uncomfortably on the bench, and shoved his hands in his pockets. “I took the job on the Alto campaign to help pay for her treatments. We heard of a neurosurgeon here in Valverde who might be some help to her, but the procedures and tests aren’t cheap.”

“So wait… what does this mean for you and my mother?” Kass asked, and then bit her lower lip. I should’ve at least said I was sorry first. 

“Amy comes with me most nights to keep me company,” he replied. “She has been for the past year. That’s why she’s out a lot of the time and sleeps weird hours during the day.”

“Why didn’t she just tell me?” Kass slumped against the park bench.

“Because I asked her not to. I wasn’t ready for the world to know about my sister, and about what happened. She’s a very private person and she’s still grieving the loss of her fiancé. She carried his ring around her neck until recently.”

Kass didn’t understand it, but she could respect it. Grief made people do funny things, and Clark was certainly grieving. You can’t make that up. Wait… ring! 

“And you call her sweetheart, don’t you?” her face relaxed into a smile.

“Who, Clara? Yes,” Clark replied with a mystified smile. “How do you know?”

“I’ve heard you,” Kass admitted, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “And the ring? You met with a Joel guy about it?”

He frowned. “How do you know about that?”

“I followed you one night in the Community Park up on the hill,” she said, and seeing his half-impressed, half-startled look, she added, “If it makes you feel better, I was looking for Andi.”

“Joel is the best gemstone expert I know,” Clark exhaled heavily. “He is helping me resize the ring…”

“For Clara?”

“For your mother.”


Author Notes: Another mystery revealed and solved… sort of. And another mysterious vision with Kass. She doubled over in the park as if out of breath in game, and VJ was concerned if I recall correctly. I finally had a reason to use the image. Thanks for reading. 

1.51 Familiar Face (KCLKF)

Wednesday, June 11, 2415, C.E. | Sunset Valley, Valverde

Disappointed, Kass decided to make a chumcha. She found the premade dough balls in the little refrigerator just as Ansel had claimed upstairs on the balcony. She rolled the dough and thought through all the events that had transpired. I shouldn’t be disappointed. Maybe this means Madison is safe. 

Claire trashed the restroom with the roses after getting angry with her date. Kass didn’t blame her. Jared Frio had the reputation of being a bit of a ladies’ man. That still didn’t explain the notebook. Or the poster connected to a phone number attached to Bella Goth. The Bella Goth! Kass almost felt a surge of pride that she uncovered that much. Ayesh is going to flip when I tell her! she grinned. Or should I tell her? She cocked her head, as she stuck her dough in the oven on the wide pizza stone.

And somehow it is connected to a law firm here in Bay City and in Pleasantview. She sighed. Her phone jangled. It was a text from her mamma.

Dinner at the house tonight? Sushi? Your favorite? A peace offering? Clark would really like to get to know you girls.

I bet he would, Kass thought sarcastically. She wasn’t sure she was ready for a peace offering. She was ready for some answers. Another text message came through – this time from Andi.

Are you going to dinner at home?

A few seconds later…

It might be nice. I have missed my bed.

Kass couldn’t help but feel a little betrayed. Still, she couldn’t really blame her sister for wanting to try. Maybe it would be worth it to go and confront Clark, but she wanted more facts on her side before she did. Tomorrow at the legal aid office, she planned to try and poke around a little and see what she could find.

A loud noise caught her attention. She peered through the window and noticed Nick Alto, dressed casually in gym attire, but nonetheless, the business titan himself, husband of the governor of Valverde, settled at a bistro table by himself. He pulled out a bluetooth headset and tapped the side to make a call. Kass wondered what it was like being married to a powerful and mostly unlikable woman as Vita Alto. She recalled Holly confiding in Kass about her father’s former mob connections.

What!” Nick exclaimed with a heavy Romian accent. “I’m waiting for my motha.”

His mother? Kass checked on her dough, which was starting to glow with hints of golden flakes in the crust. Strange place for Nick Alto to meet his mom.

Naw, not my real mamma, my step-motha,” he added.

Curious, Kass couldn’t help but eavesdrop. Nick went on the argue with the person on the other end of the line. He wasn’t very discreet. She could hear him through the double paned glass loud and clear.

I’ll be home for dinna… cool your jets, Veets.”

He was talking to his wife, Kass surmised.

I won’t be late… gawd! Already!

I wonder who his stepmother is, Kass puzzled.

“Oo…my chumcha!” she exclaimed softly, pulling the nice golden brown dinner from the pizza oven.

Sliding the meal onto a plate, Kass was about to turn and walk to a table of her own and leave Mr. Alto in peace when she heard a recognizable and agitated voice.

“If you’re going to sit there, you need to order something,” Gage said, addressing Nick presumably.

“I’m not botherin’ no one,” Nick said, grumpily.

Kass stared into the open flame of the pizza oven, awash with the summer heat and obsessive curiosity. Risking her dinner growing cold, she leaned over and peeked at the window. Her best friend stood next to the table, waving his arms at the older man.

“You’re botherin’ me,” Gage snipped. “You’ve been downstairs for a full forty-five minutes without ordering so much as a water. I think you should leave.”

“I can do what I want,” Nick remarked.

Kass flinched as the burly man curled his fist and leaned hard into the table with an intimidating stare. But Gage didn’t seem to be put off as he held his ground.

“This is a place of business. You need to order something, just like everyone else,” he said icily and made for the door.

Kass lips parted, and she ducked through the other set of doors and behind a potted palm, as she wasn’t sure she wanted Gage to know she was privy to his awkward conversation. He walked right to his place behind the counter and began wiping down the pastry case, unaware of her presence. Nick followed suit, waving his hands in annoyance.

The beefy man stalked up to Gage, clearly twice his size, and she almost called out in warning. Gage spun around.

“Get behind the counter, sir,” he ordered.

“Do you know who I am?” Nick growled.

“Yes, yes I do, and frankly, it doesn’t matter,” Gage grunted. “You are a customer just like any other.”

“I could have you fired,” Nick threatened, his stance gorilla-like as he bent his knees and flexed his muscles.

“She doesn’t answer to you!” Gage exclaimed. “And she doesn’t want you coming around here!”

Kass frowned. Who was he talking about? And why did Nick think he had such authority? She decided to take a bite of her food while enjoying a bit of dinner theater, even if it was much too real. The piece slid down her throat wrong, lodging and she coughed and sputtered. Shoot! Nick threw a look over his shoulder in her direction but didn’t seem to see her. He muttered something under his breath about coming back and then slinked off the balcony like a sulking dog. Kass breathed a sigh of relief.

“Kass, what are you doing here?” he asked, his eyes lighting up.

“You were kinda brave,” she said, ducking his question.

“Oh you saw that?” he replied, sheepishly.

“Like a David against Goliath,” she praised.

He blushed. “That was nothing. I could take him.”

“Yeah, spouse of the governor, former champion wrestler, and oh yeah…” she tilted her head and tucked a stray hair over her ear as she whispered, almost excitedly, “…former member of the mob.”

“What?” Gage protested. “I could. He wouldn’t do anything to me in public anyhow.”

“What was that all about anyway?” she pried.

“Oh, the usual, he was leeching around, not buying anything,” Gage replied, nonchalantly.

“Granny Jade cracking down on her space-hogging customers?” Kass giggled.

“Something like that,” he raised and lowered his shoulders, relaxing as he shoved his hands into his pockets. “You want a snickerdoodle?”

“What? If I don’t, are you going to ask me to leave?” Kass teased, her eyes twinkling.

He laughed.

Kass settled at a table, finishing her chumcha and then enjoying a delicious cinnamon sugar cookie. Gage continued to clean the bar, but whistled and hummed a little to the music from the speakers. She smiled as she pulled out her cell phone and clicked a few buttons, wondering if she could figure out who Nick was meeting. She noticed Lisa Bunch, her sister’s friend, sharing a table with none other than VJ. The two laughed lightly and Lisa even punched VJ’s shoulder. Kass grimaced and coughed loudly. Lisa whipped her gaze to Kass and glared at her.

“You know, if you were such a good boyfriend to my sister,” Kass said loudly. “You wouldn’t be out with another woman.”

“Butt out, Kass,” Lisa snipped. “You don’t know anything. We’re friends is all.”

“Sure,” Kass rolled her eyes. “My sister is meeting her potential future stepfather tonight and she could probably use the support.”

VJ appeared uncomfortable, dropping his gaze. “I offered to go but she said she wanted to do this alone,” he replied quietly.

“Yeah, and get off your judgmental high horse,” Lisa growled. “You should pick between the baristas and get it over with.”

Kass flushed and dropped her cookie, grateful Gage wasn’t at his station at that moment, but had instead returned inside to grab more spray bottle cleaner. Did Lisa know? She couldn’t possibly know! Kass wasn’t exactly going out with either one of the guys yet. Did Andi tell her? Kass narrowed her eyes. Or Cari?

She decided to ignore Lisa and returned her gaze to her cell phone, clicking a few buttons and finding an article about Dominick Francis Alto. She scrolled through the Simipedia article, trying to find a mention of his mother. His biological father was listed as Don Mario Luigi Alto, named for the game series. Kass smirked. His mother was listed as Constanza Alto, but no stepmother was listed.

Kass stood up and left money on the counter for Gage, preferring to slip out unnoticed after Lisa embarrassed her. As she walked down the stairs, she realized maybe she deserved it.

As she reached the last step, her fingers froze as she recognized a certain individual in a photograph. The picture was listed on a society page from several decades prior with the Alto family and Don Mario listed as the groom to be, his second marriage after the death of Constanza. The caption read “Don finds happiness again on the shores of Isla Paradiso.” The woman attached to his arm, his blushing bride to be, was listed as M.J.  Wellington, her face all too familiar, a younger, but unmistakable Granny Jade.


Author Notes: I’m still enjoying using unused screenshots as inspiration for these chapters. I hope you’re enjoying the story. Yes, Granny Jade is Nick’s stepmother. Interesting side plot I planned to reveal in the second story, but decided to release this little tidbit early just because. And more of Gage, because why not? It’s fun to write about the different townies popping up in Kass’ story. The first time around I didn’t really have a place for them. Now I do. Thanks for reading. 

1.8, Pt. 2: Conversations (KCLKF)

Tuesday, June 3, 2415 C.E. | Sunset Valley, Valverde 

Screenshot-305

“Hey Kassio, your usual coming right up.”

Gage smiled pleasantly as he adjusted the knobs on the coffee machine. Kass sighed as she stepped up to greet her best friend.

“Actually…” she began, rubbing her forehead as she winced. “Something stronger?”

“Late night?” he surmised.

“Yes,” she leaned forward, balancing her elbows on the counter. “Working on that blasted essay.”

“What’re you so hung up for?” he asked, fiddling with the grinder. “You’re a great writer.”

He managed to weasel out a weak smile.

“Thanks. I’m just not sure…” she trailed off, glancing about the upstairs patio of Jade’s Java Jolt.

For mid-day, the balcony was actually pretty crowded. A few women professionals in their pinstripe suits enjoying a cold brew while on their breaks. A salt-and-pepper guy in athletic attire throwing back a refreshing tea after a lunch workout. A doctor rushing to grab another cappuccino before his next thirteen hour shift, forgetting to remove his lab coat before heading out of the office. And an eclectic group of musicians setting up on the outdoor summer stage, including one who looked nearly identical to her sister, Andi’s new boyfriend.

Not new, she narrowed her eyes. Kass didn’t care what her sister said. The kid looked like a punk with his crazy blue mohawk, threadbare jeans, and holey red and black tank top. From his appearance, the Jolt didn’t seem like his kind-of place. Or is he going to start playing hymns? 

He did neither. Instead, he began strumming his guitar and playing a bluesy cover. A pretty, petite blonde with pigtails followed along on the keys on the other end of the stage. Kass made a bemused face. Maybe I’m wrong about him. She promised her kid sister she would give him a chance.

Screenshot-308

“Here you go,” Gage interrupted her surveying.

“But I didn’t order anything,” she protested, turning her attention to her best friend.

“Don’t worry. I have you a black eye,” Gage replied, and seeing her confused look, he winked and added, “Drip coffee with a double shot espresso. You look like you need it.”

She took a sip and sighed. “Bless you.”

“What can I say? Am I your best friend or what?” he grinned.

“Yes,” she wrapped her hands around the beverage sleeve and closed her eyes. “You do seem to know me really well.”

“So just the paper on your mind or something else?” he inquired.

“I saw my Dad.”

Gage’s cobalt blue eyes grew wide. “Your dad? Wow! That’s…wow!” he rubbed the back of his head. “You haven’t seen him in how long? In all the time we’ve known each other?”

“Yeah, well… it was a pretty big shock. I had coffee with him on Sunday… actually right here,” she frowned.

The only happy memory of that day was meeting Davis. She had been a bit disappointed he wasn’t working today, but she did manage to see his grandma downstairs in the main cafe. Granny Jade had returned from visiting one of her sons in Cascadia. Like the generous and kind woman she was, Granny Jade brought something back for her “special” customers… a bottle of pure maple syrup from Hidden Springs. Kass smiled, grateful for one of Sunset Valley’s best businesswomen and one of the nicest people she knew.

“You did? Wait… like here? Holy llamas, Kassiopeia!” he grabbed his face dramatically and pulled downward. “I wish you had called me.”

“Why?” she pursed her lips.

“For moral support,” he shrugged, bracing against the counter. “I mean… this is heavy. Your dad coming back after all this time. Is he still with Kate the Snake?” he lowered his voice and turned to the side to avoid being overheard.

Kass smirked. She hadn’t called her dad’s girlfriend that since she was thirteen. It was the worst her newly teenage mind could come up with… and it wasn’t half bad. After all, Kate had slithered in and stolen her father from her mother.

Screenshot-320

“Here,” Gage reached inside the glass display case and pulled out a plate. “A pastry on the house.”

“What? Gage!” she protested. “I can’t…”

“I was saving it for you anyway.”

“Were not!”

“Were too… and this is for missing out on this big news.”

“You were saving it for me?” she eyed the chocolate Grimm’s food doughnut, feeling somewhat hungry.

She hadn’t eaten all day since she slept until eleven and pretty much drove straight to the Jolt in need of a strong cup of coffee.

“Seriously, Kass, I wish you had called me.”

“I don’t know. I just kinda thought I should face it on my own,” she sighed, twisting her flip flop on the ground. “And thanks. For the doughnut.” She took the plate.

“I’m off in a few minutes if you want to talk,” Gage offered.

“Early shift?”

“Yeah I started at six. I was supposed to work tonight but I switched with the boss’ son. He has a second job.”

“Da…”

Kass began, but stopped herself from asking if Davis had a second job. Gage had just confirmed that and she didn’t want to seem stupid. Plus, she wasn’t sure how to talk to Gage about Davis just yet. So he will be here tonight, huh?  She wished she had an excuse to hang around until the late afternoon/early evening shift… just to see those beefy muscles lifting something. Maybe me? she thought with an internal squeal. Oh plumsticks! I’m as bad as Ayesha or Madison. 

“I’ll be over here,” she nodded toward a series of tables, walking away before Gage could ask her about her flushed cheeks.Screenshot-311

As promised, he joined her after a few minutes. Kass wasn’t feeling particularly compelled to talk about her dad while she sipped her coffee and finished her doughnut. She conveniently left out the part about EXCES and alien DNA. She still couldn’t wrap her head around it, let alone talk to someone else about it, even if it was Gage. After a minute or two, she changed the subject and pulled his graduation gift from her pocket.

Master Tracks? Flippin’ freezer bunnies! How’d you get tickets to see them?” he exclaimed. “They’re like impossible to get tickets to!”

“I’ve had them since Suluary. I managed to snag them during a quick sale on Love Day,” Kass explained.

Gage dropped his head back excitedly, squeezing the paper in his hands so hard she was worried he’d rip the tickets. “Oh Kass! You have no idea what this means to me! I mean, this guy… he like… invented house music. Holy cowplants! You are like the best friend ever!”

“I know,” she smirked. “I thought we could go together in August.”

“Wait…” he looked down at the tickets and frowned. “When are the dates again?”

“Sometime in late summer. I have it in my calendar. Why?”

“Plummit!”

“What?”

“I’ll start at Northwestern earlier that week.”

Her face fell. “Oh? You’re still planning to head to the Midwest?”

“Well, yeah, Kass,” he said, sounding almost annoyed. “You didn’t forget, did you?”

“Well, no,” she shrugged. “You can delay a week. This is Master Tracks…” she offered a smile.

“Kass, I worked my butt off to get into Northwestern. I was planning to move out there the week before so I could settle in with my family and then get the lay of the land before I start school,” he looked down at the tickets, seeming to read. “I guess it’s a weekend show, and I don’t have Friday classes. I could still fly back and see him with you. Do you think your mom would care if I crashed at your house?”

“Yeah, I did go to all the trouble to get them as a graduation gift for you,” Kass reached across the table and jabbed him playfully in the shoulder. “I think I could talk Mamma into it maybe.”

“Now I wish I had gotten you something better than roses,” Gage scratched at his jaw. “I’ll have to come up with something spectacular for your birthday.”

“It’s cool,” she scrunched her shoulders. “You could always come with me to Edgewater.”

Gage grimaced.

“What?”

“I just want my best friend on board, you know? With my decision? To go to Northwestern instead.”

“I am.”

“Really? And with me moving in with the Bagleys?”

“I mean, I’m not thrilled with it. I don’t think it’s safe. Your aunt was on trial once and your uncle died under mysterious circumstances.”

“Tried never convicted.”

“Still, that doesn’t scare you?” her eyes widened, and seeing his frustrated look, she softened. “But you’re my friend and I… well… I do kinda support you.”

Screenshot-312

“Thanks, you sound so convincing,” Gage said sarcastically, clasping his hands together.

“Gage, I don’t know what you want me to say,” Kass sighed. “I care… that’s all.” Among other things. “I am excited you got into your dream school,” she offered genuinely.

“Okay, thank you,” Gage nodded, changing the subject. “So what are you going to do about your dad and his offer?”

“You mean about traveling around the country with him this summer?” she dropped her head. “Um… maybe… I don’t know… I mean… he’s dying… so saying no’s like…”

“Not caring?” he finished.

“Yeah, I guess,” she twisted her hands in her lap. “I’m just not sure I want to be cooped up in a car with him. Maybe I could talk my mom into letting me borrow the car. Or maybe I’d just save up for my own vehicle.”

“I don’t know about your mom, especially if you tell her the reason.”

“We have that old Big Lemon in the garage we’re not using. Mamma said if we could get someone to fix it up, I could have it.”

“You can borrow mine.”

“Yeah, but you’re moving…” she hated the way it sounded. “… to Riverview.”

“But not till the end of the summer.”

“I’ll think about it,” Kass  smiled, wistfully, turning her head toward the musicians.

The tune was aptly fitting for the moment. Leaving blues, emotive lyrics, an acoustic guitar, soft drum beat, a close-blend harmony singing about life… the good parts and the bad. Kass wasn’t sure she was ready for this… for the aching separation from her closest and deepest friends.

Now your back’s to the road
The waiting’s everything you know
I’m sure you know that I’m leaving

Ayesha would stay in the Valley. Gage would head to the northwest. Kass would travel to the deep south. It wasn’t like they’d never see each other again, but life as she knew it was about to change. The man across the table held her together in her worst moments. She should’ve called him sooner about her dad. She resisted the urge to reach for his hand. She just wanted to feel close to him. How did one survive the parting of good friends?

“Wouldn’t you beat yourself up if you didn’t go?” Gage asked.

“What are you, my conscience?” she snapped before she could stop herself.

Riding home everyday
Sure in a cinematic way
Breathing the smoke of the train
Keep the thought of you aflame
I’m sure you know that I’m leaving

No more carpooling. No more late night pizza. No more hugs when I feel my world is falling apart… she thought, despairingly.

“Sorry,” she murmured.

“I just think it’s great to try and reconnect with your dad, even if you hate him. I wish I had that luxury.”

“It’s not like your situation. This is different.”

“Different like your parents not wanting you?” Gage bristled.

“Gage…” she began, but she wasn’t sure what to say.

“Your mom is still in your life and loves you and your dad wants to be in your life again. I wish I had gotten to know my mom and dad. I’m lucky I found any biological relatives at all. You at least have parents that want you. I have to live with getting to know my parents through my aunt and cousins.”

“Who are criminals!”

“Really? You’re going to belabor that point?”

“I don’t know, Gage, I’m just concerned…”

“For what?”

“For your wellbeing! I mean, what if they turn out to be terrible? What if they don’t turn out like you want them to be?”

“That’s for me to find out. I’ll never know if I don’t try.”

“But can’t you just not… I mean, wouldn’t it save you a lot of heartache in the process?”

“Kass! What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you support me on this? Why don’t you care?”

“I do care! You’re the one being the idiot because you think I don’t care. But I care!” she cried.

Curse God for my regret
I miss you indefinite
Not once did I think that
Love would stay til I come back

“I care about my dad dying. I care about him walking out on my mamma. I hate that…” her voice cracked. “…after all this time… it still hurts. It hurts like hell. And my mamma is getting a new man and drama queen Cari thinks I don’t care, and Andi is dating that guy…” she flung a near-accusing finger at the guitarist.

Gage blinked rapidly. “Wait… what? Kass, you’re not making sense.”

“I’m not making sense!?” she laughed mirthlessly. “Everything’s changing and I hate it. You’re going off to see your criminal relatives and you think I don’t care… but that’s why I care… because I care. Why does everyone think I don’t care?”

Screenshot-314

She sounded like a lunatic, yelling and waving her arms. She didn’t care… but she did. Her thoughts were all mixed up. Her questions were left unanswered. What would happen when she left? What would happen when he left? Would they stay in touch? Would he still be her friend? Would he find someone else? Would he be okay with his family? Would he succeed? Would she? Would he fall in love and forget all about her?

Why couldn’t she just tell him all this? She hated the sadness in his eyes, misting in surprise emotion. She wanted to make it better. She wanted to take back her words. Maybe he was right. Maybe she should go with her dad. Maybe her situation was completely different. But she still had to live with her dad walking out on her mom for another woman. She got to experience life with her father and then watch it all fall apart before her eyes. Gage didn’t even remember his bio parents abandoning him as a toddler.

“Look Kass, I gotta go,” Gage swallowed hard.

“But…” her protest died on her lips. “I’m… sorry…” she flubbed a half-hearted apology as he walked away.

Now your back’s to the road
The waiting’s everything you know
I’m sure you know that I’m leaving


Author Notes: Thanks for reading. I wanted to expand upon Kass and Gage’s relationship a bit, and share why Kass is feeling so torn up about Gage leaving. I also wanted to resolve the whole “gift” thing since a few chapters back she mentioned she had a graduation gift for Gage. T

he song lyrics strung throughout this chapter are from a song called Leaving Blues, perfectly apt for placing me in the right mood to write this bittersweet chapter. I love their friendship, even if it’s tumultuous. VJ isn’t a musician in the base game, but I wanted to have him play something surprising, and it fit with the tone.

And you know Sims… showing up at random wherever they want in game. True to my word, I’m not re-shooting the scenes so these are all pictures I previously used or had in archives, and thus I wanted to explain VJ’s presence. Granny Jade is related to a fairly famous family in the Sims. I’ll let you guess who if you haven’t already. FYI, a Grimm’s food doughnut is a devils food doughnut because why not? This is the Sims world.

Recent Edits: 

UPDATED: Since Love Day is a cross between Valentine’s Day and Easter, I decided Love Day is in the month of Suluary (the month between February and March on our calendar). Thanks again for reading. 🙂 

1.3, Pt. 2: Changes (KCLKF)

Saturday,  May 28, 2415 C.E. | Sunset Valley, Valverde 

Kass tried to avoid panicking as she half-ran, half-stumbled down the stairs while attempting to put her shoes back on. Her mother didn’t seem to notice as she was happily humming in the kitchen with thick headphones covering her ears as she mopped the floor, and Carina was busy complaining on the phone upstairs. Andi couldn’t have just disappeared?!?  She had an ingenious idea, but her sister wasn’t going to like it. Slipping around the the hall tree, Kass reached into her mamma’s purse, plucking out her cell phone. She then entered the ridiculously easy passcode and enabled a feature within an app.

“Gotcha!” she said, beneath her breath.

Emboldened by her efforts, Kass fled out the door and down the driveway beneath the second story balcony. She froze when she heard the voice of her mother upstairs and outside.

I’m calling you from my house phone… no… the house phone… I can’t find my cell phone...”

Kass held the device to her chest, a pang of guilt gripping her abdomen. That was quick. 

Are you on your way?”

Ah… Clark… Kass nodded, and stopped against a redwood pillar to adjust her heel strap.

Oh good. I can’t wait to see you… so fifteen minutes?”

Then I need to hurry, Kass narrowed her eyes. She poked her head out from underneath the overhang just as her mother’s sliding glass door shut. Kass scurried out across the backyard and down the lawn. She tracked the phone to the community park. The hill was much harder to traverse in high heels, so Kass tried to take her time, half-sliding in the moist grass. It must have just been watered by city sprinklers, she deduced.

As she approached the park, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Leaping behind some pine trees, she peered through the branches. Her fourteen year old sister was with some guy! And they were kissing! Since when did Andromeda have a boyfriend? Or love interest? Or… gawd! Whatever he was… it was like watching a train wreck. Kass couldn’t look away, sliding her mamma’s phone into her pocket without taking her eyes off her sister and the vaguely familiar looking teenager with a blue mohawk.

“I love you, sweetie,” he said, after they came up for air.

Sweetie! Kass made fists. She was ready to pulverize the guy. Who does he think he is necking with my little sister so late at night?

“I know, Vincent-James,” Andi replied. “I love you too.”

They kissed some more while Kass fumed and tried to decide the best way to break up their little love fest. At the sound of approaching voices on the pathway behind her, she crouched down lower into the pine needles, maneuvering behind some of the lower branches, so as not to be noticed. That would be embarrassing. I look a bit like a stalker right now, she surmised.

“Sauer? Mister Sauer? Is that you?” a male voice called out from the park walkway above her.

Her ears perked up. Mister Sauer? She narrowed her eyes. Isn’t he the guy Mamma is into? What’s he doing in the park? Actually, she figured. He could have a perfectly good reason for being in the park since he was probably passing through on his way to their house. Mamma did say something about fifteen minutes. Kass bit her lip and waited, torn between looking for the mysterious new man in her mamma’s life, and her sister’s new boyfriend.

“Joel, you better have good reason for dragging me out here tonight for a meeting like this,” the man called Mister Sauer responded.

Kass craned her neck to see. Thankfully the moon was fairly bright. The guy was medium height and build, dark shaggy hairstyle, wearing a beanie cap, blue shirt, and jeans. The moonlight reflected off the pointy tip of his white nose. The other man with him was scrawnier, though not necessarily younger, same scruffy hairstyle, though a lighter shade, possibly brunette. It was hard to tell in the dark.

“Look man, you said you wanted the job done right, and you wanted to be kept apprised of the situation,” the man called Joel said.

What job? What situation? Her mind ran wild with a variety of scenarios. Wasn’t Sauer a janitor at my old school? What kind of job or situation would call him out into the park late at night for a shady meeting?

“Look you said no power tools, so we’re behind on schedule,” Joel added. “It’s going to take us much longer than expected to do the job right and double the pay.”

Sauer adjusted his beanie cap. “You know I don’t have that kind of money.”

“Look, I’m just the messenger,” Joel protested, lifting his hands. “If you want to change your mind so we can use the tools…”

“No…” Sauer said, his tone serious. “I want it done to perfection. That way we can’t tell the difference.”

They wandered farther down the pathway and out of earshot. Kass fell over, trying to hear, landing on her backside, and a pine branch swiping at her arm.

“Ouch!” she released a tiny cry.

“What was that?” her sister asked in the distance.

Kass covered her mouth. She had nearly forgotten about Andi and her boyfriend, and she didn’t want them to know they had an audience. Still, her mind dwelt on the conversation between Clark Sauer and Joel, and whatever mystery job they were doing. Bank heist? Jewelry robbery? Convenient store safe crack? Fake passport making? She rubbed her arm. Was her mother dating a crook?

Her sister’s voice drew her out of her racing thoughts.

“I know, Vincent.”

“I really want to meet your family, Andromeda, instead of sneaking around like this. They deserve to know,” the boy called Vincent or VJ answered.

“I know, VJ,” Andi waved her arms. “I know. I want you to meet them too. But it’s just not a good time. I mean, Cari and I fight every day. I doubt you want to meet her. And Mamma…well, she just told us she’s got some new guy. I mean, that’s why I’m down here with you. I’m not ready for a new father…”

Kass sighed. I know what you mean. Especially if he’s a criminal or a thief or something. 

“And Kass… well, she’s going to be so busy… getting ready for college and all. She’s pretty wrapped up in this essay she’s writing, and hanging out with her friends. I don’t think she cares what happens to me anymore.”

“Don’t say that, I’m sure she cares,” VJ argued gently, taking Andi’s hand. “And family is family. For better or worse. My kid brother and I don’t always get along. And don’t get me started on my dad.”

“But he’s great,” Andi said, almost defensively.

“Yeah, to you, maybe… not to me… his screw-up son.”

“But you’re not a screw-up, VJ! And he knows that. It’ll just take some time for him to get used to this side of you. You’ve made so much progress.”

“Yeah, thanks to you.”

“No, thanks to you. You did all the hard work, VJ. I’m proud of you.”

“I can’t fit the mold he wants me to be… the perfect preacher’s kid.”

“I don’t think anyone expects you to be perfect. You should let go of others’ expectations and take it one day at a time.”

“Hey,” VJ lightly lifted Andi’s chin. “You should listen to yourself.”

“I wish,” Andi sighed. “It’s hard being in the Fullbright family sometimes. Mamma’s… just… and Cari… and now with Kass leaving. I feel like I’m losing my only ally.”

“Hey, you still have me, okay?”

“I don’t know,” Andi sniffled. “Everything’s changing and I don’t like it.”

VJ pulled her into a hug. Kass leaned against the tree trunk, bringing her knees up to her chest. Andi thinks I don’t care about her? Sadness flooded her face. Standing up, she cautiously slinked away, hoping no one saw her. Once out of line of sight, she plucked her heels from her feet and began running barefoot through the grass.

Everything was changing. Kass didn’t much like it either. She couldn’t believe her dad showed up at her graduation. She couldn’t believe Gage was really moving to Riverview and attending a different uni than her. She couldn’t believe Andi was in love with some punk kid and didn’t tell anyone about it. She couldn’t believe Carina… no wait… she could believe Carina was a drama queen. She couldn’t believe her mom found a new boyfriend, and to top things off, her mamma’s new boyfriend was meeting shady guys in the park late at night. She couldn’t believe that in a little over two and a half months she would be living on the other side of the country and facing freshman year alone because neither of her best friends could come with her.

What’s happening to this world anyway?


Author Notes: I decided to elaborate on this chapter a bit, and add some things. First of all, true to the “name” of this story series, I wanted to add a little mystery. I actually had written a mystery story with my cousin when we were in junior high. I can’t fully remember. I plan to use the basic premise of that mystery in KCLKF 2nd edition, mostly because it’s a fun story, I think the Sims is a great platform for it, and I wanted to add a mysterious component to this first story as set-up for I&S and KFLL, but this means I may or may not have “screenshots” for these moments so you might get more pictureless sections from me.

I actually was feeling very inspired revisiting this old script/story of mine from back in the day. Clark Sauer meets with a man named Joel, who is Joel Astroman, a “deceased” Sim in the Sims 3. I was prompted to utilize Joel when I found this picture of him with Clark in his Wikia bio. So stay tuned for mystery. We haven’t heard the last from Joel yet. And forget what you know about Clark Sauer if you can, if this is your second time reading this, because he might not be who you think he is. Mwahaha! I never said I’d keep things exactly the same. Ha! Oh and this version of VJ Alvi is much different than his base game Sim, and that is similar to my first go-around through KCLKF. I also lightened the pictures so they hopefully are easier to see. Thanks for reading.