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?”
“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…
Hope you enjoyed!