Vlad’s House, Henford-on-Bagley
It had been two weeks since Alice mentioned the rules, but she hadn’t made any, which did nothing to soothe Vlad’s anxiety. Not that he wanted rules—he categorically did not. But he also wanted absolute clarity on how she wanted him to behave so that he had some idea of how to “be” around her.
Every time they asked each other questions, there was a new round of landmines to navigate—case in point, Friday when Alice and Gwendolyn came by for breakfast.
“Latimer is not your dad!” she gasped, dropping her fork.
“No,” Vlad hesitated. “He is not. My actual parents are complete and utter psychopaths who I avoid with all the diligence of a medieval monk.”
“Oookay. But if Latimer isn’t your dad then he’s your…uh….your…” Her eyebrows squished together.
“Platonic life partner.”
“Platonic life what?”
“It means we’ve built a life together. Latimer is my partner, but our love is not centered on sexual attraction. I haven’t slept with him—won’t sleep with him.”
Even if Alice wanted an open sexual relationship, Vlad didn’t feel that way for Latimer. Not that he and Alice had talked about their relationship. They were both too busy answering fucking questions.
“You got that right,” Latimer tapped his fork on the table as if making an announcement, “I am irresistible but taken. And besides, we don’t share the same kinks, just bank accounts.”
Alice took in that information, and to Vlad’s great relief, she didn’t appear to have a problem with it. “Well, it’s good you’re a package deal. Latimer is better at doing voices during story time and he’s willing to watch Average Sims Get a Chance To Be Musical Stars with me.”
Vlad rolled his eyes, but he was vibrating with what he’d consider to be warmth. He had no idea how he’d respond if Alice didn’t understand or worse, demanded that he and Latimer separate. “That TV show is complete nonsense. The only way average vocalists should be allowed to star in musicals is if we make them compulsory part of the military’s torture program.”
“You secretly like that we watch it,” she waggled her eyebrows, “You always flash a little half smile when you’re being fake grumpy.”
A laugh slipped out that he didn’t approve, but it was fine because Alice understood him and the feeling of being known by her was complete bliss. “Careful,” he warned, the urge to remove his stiff cotton shirt knocking at his ribcage, “You’ll reveal all my tells and then how will I keep you two from running roughshod over me?”
“You probably can’t,” she took a satisfied bite of french toast and winked at Latimer.
Vlad allowed another laugh, but the bliss he experienced was short-lived.
“Why do you hate your parents?” she asked, “Is it something they did or just like, their general disposition?”
Goth Household, Willow Creek
Earlier that morning, Mortimer had given Bella the greatest gift of their entire marriage: he was heading out of town. Usually, she made a bigger deal over how backward the whole “Brindleton Bay Men’s Club” thing was, but she didn’t interrupt once as he packed his bags for an emergency board session.
What could possibly warrant an emergency session was beyond Bella. As far as she knew, the Brindleton Bay Men’s Club of Knowing and Knowledge was a bunch of aging nerds who discussed dusty books and lamented society’s loss of “real men.” Since Mortimer was a stay-at-home parent, she was surprised they even let him in. But his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all been members, and Mortimer felt the need to carry the torch.
All that mattered was his departure and the deep well of energy Bella had to burn.
She’d been swamped all day, but now that it was evening and she’d confirmed her husband was tucked into their summer house, she could turn her attention to important matters.
“Cassie! I need you to watch Alexander tonight. I’ve got an important meeting.”
Her daughter whirled around, dropping the t-shirt she’d been folding. “What? Tonight is our Game Jam, and they need me!”
“Cassandra Goth, not everything is about you. I need—”
“But I’ve been practicing for weeks!” her voice went reedy, “Don’t you remember that robot animation I showed you? That’s our finishing move, and everyone is counting on me. Call dad if you don’t believe me!” she grabbed her phone, “It’s on the calendar.”
Bella gulped. Shit. That damn calendar was going to be the death of her. “Don’t call your father. You’re right,” she added quickly, “I forgot. I’ll just call work and tell them I’m busy.”
“Yes!” Cassandra pumped her fist, “Awesome!”
A car horn honked outside, and they both bounded down the stairs.
“That’s Ash’s dad! I’m gonna go.” She hugged her mom and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. “Are you and Alex planning to come?”
A better parent would say yes, and Bella promised herself that next time, she would be. She just needed a chance to get this thing with Caleb out of her system. “You don’t want us there embarrassing you in front of your friends. We’ll stay in, and you can tell us all about your victory when you get home.”
“Yeah,” Cassandra’s shoulders slumped, “You’re probably right. I’ll be home by nine.”
“How about midnight?” Bella replied after doing some quick calculations. “It’s a Friday night. Here, take this,” she handed her daughter fifty simoleons, “Just in case you guys want to go out and celebrate after.”
Cassandra squealed and squeezed Bella tight. “Thanks, mom! I love you!”
After seeing Cassandra off, Bella threw together a quick dinner and plied Alexander with television while watching the clock. She ushed her son to bed at eight o’clock on the dot and flew down the stairs, flinging open the door before Caleb could even knock.
He rubbed his hands together, one thick eyebrow arched, “That was fast. You’d almost think you were the vampire.”
Bella was suddenly very aware of her heartbeat. She laughed, pulling him through the door and into her living room. “Where do you want to go? Couch? There’s a chaise in the study, and…we…could…” she trailed off, watching as Caleb looked around, his gaze locked on the wall with her wedding portraits and family photos.
“We’re getting a divorce.” The lie tumbled out before she had a chance to stop it.
He studied her, his lips pursed as if he were at war with his disapproval. “Are you sure? We don’t have to do this. We could just talk about the case.”
“I’m sure,” Bella stepped closer. “We can always talk about the case. Tonight I need something else.” Should she tell him her time was limited? He already looked seconds away from bailing. “If you’re not interested, you can just say so.” The words rushed out, the vulnerability she’d meant to keep hidden came spilling out. She looked down, voice raw as she tried to joke. “I’m sure the last thing a permanent twenty-something wants is to climb into bed with a woman in her 40s.”
Her laugh was bitter, but Caleb stopped it with a kiss. “Don’t think about that.” He pulled her flush against him. Bella shivered, almost light-headed, as she clutched his jacket, urging him on.
“I’m older than you anyway,” he continued, sliding a hand under her t-shirt. He hitched up one of her legs, the hard length of him now notched between her thighs. “And I don’t think we need the couch.”
Spinach? Sun-dried tomatoes? Quinoa? SHE’S A TODDLER GIVE HER CRACKERS AND CEREAL! VLAD YOU ARE A VAMPIRE, NOT A MIDDLE CLASS MUM WHO IS TWICE DIVORCED!
Vlad fantasising about dicing Salim is a mood. Okay I laughed way too many times during this chapter, first time definitely was Anastasia like ‘son stop hassling me about a murder I’m trying to eat my breakfast’ XD Poor Caleb. Imagine trying to be a change-maker and a sort of ‘cycle breaker’ when your parents are this lot XD
I really love the complexity of the relationships in this story and I love the idea of a platonic life partner as well < 333 I mean it's nice that Bella gave Cass the money but really? Doing it just to get her out of the house so she can fuck Caleb? Really Bella? : : P Forget Interview with the Vampire, Bella's more interested in Intercourse with the Vampire XD
I love that pic of Alice and Vlad lying together on the blanket. AND THE HEAD RUB CUDDLE HHH ;-; I love all the references to our stories in the books! Not gonna pretend the Divided one isn't my favourite because it is because validation because selfishness because we all love Kat, but I did laugh at 'Daddy Don' and also 'Lance-hot' XD
That line about outliving the consequences makes me realise something actually, there really aren't any consequences for vampires are there and that probably is a part of it. 1, anyone who tries to fuck with you could never best you in a fight, and 2 time becomes meaningless. Jail sentences are probably nothing to an immortal (especially if you just drain the cops dry LMAO). Like prison for Vlad would just be a buffet. XD
AAAH THE VIDEO I AM SO EXCITED FOR SHIT TO ABSOLUTELY HIT THE FAN YEEEEES
Vlad is absolutely a middle aged mom who is twice divorced (okay more than twice but who is counting)
I sort of love that you empathize with Caleb. I mean, Ana is a lot. But weirdly they all just love each other so she can’t resist doling out advice on his case and he can’t resist asking her if everything is ok.
Latimer = Vlad’s most stable relationship (that is saying a lot)
Bella is…uh…it’s gonna be fine.
INTERCOURSE WITH A VAMPIRE lololololololol I’ll just pack it in.
Vlad loves head scratches because he is a cat <3 I took a million additional unnecessary screenshots of this moment.
I’m glad you liked the books. You’re all canon now. I feel really lucky to have this community of creative geniuses all making dope shit and it fuels me!
OBVIOUSLY KAT IS THE BEST, ALICE KNOWS WHATS UP
I mean… *do* vampires outlive consequences? We shall see…
(Lololol daddy Don is the greatest and the Duchelli Legacy author is just a boss and it’s a SimLit worth reading bc it is bonkers and emotional and involves a sex positive Don Lothario and I can’t rave about it enough)
Lance-hot (I will be forever proud of this pun)
LOL, Vlad is going on about outliving consequences, and then the chapter ends with that guy he bit and possible consequences. I’m not sure if he’ll actually experience anything, since “The Brindleton Bay Men’s Club of Knowing and Knowledge” don’t seem like they can stand up to a vampire. But things can change… Hm.
Also, the contrast with Bella and Caleb kissing in front of the photographs of her family, one of which with her kissing Mortimer. And that divorce lie is going to bite Bella in the ass. I just know it.
I’m happy that Vlad and Alice are being honest with one another at least.
HAHAH yeah, you caught that huh? Oh Vlad, just keep chilling, I’m sure its al gonna be *fine*! I mean listen, maybe the club has a secret weapon! Who knows?
(I mean I know but…shhhh)
Whew. How could lying to your vampire boyfriend about your divorce come back to bite you (HA)?
So far, only one couple is acting even remotely sane and somehow it’s Vlad and Alice lol! Thanks for reading!
Wow, Vlad, way to greet someone in the morning 😂 What are the access points to his building omg 🤣 though Salim does seem crooked in absolutely every way. And also Bella is questioning him and he’s probably involved in a ton of other things. “Savagely mauled to death by a vampire” probably is not the twist she’s expecting her case to take.
Caleb is entirely too set on “not getting dragged into his mother’s bull” there. So much so that he reminds me of a teenager that ignores valuable advice just because muuuuuuuum said it. But that very much seems to be their dynamic, doesn’t it?
Hehee. Yes Latimer, you are quite irresistible 🤭 I love that Alice is basically getting “kind old grandpa” for free there. Who knew that dating a murder-centric, extremely mentally disturbed vampire came with extra babysitting perks?
[Mortimer had given Bella the greatest gift of their entire marriage: he was heading out of town.] So many red flags in this sentence alone oh my dear gods. I get that Bella isn’t happy. I do. But I have so incredibly little respect for her right now. Lying to her husband, trying to manipulate her teen daughter (some great projection there too, with the little “not everything is about you” bit), ditching her during an important moment yet AGAIN, bringing over her side piece while her son is home?!?!?!!? BELLA?!?! Lying to Caleb now oh my gods. That’s it. Bella is a potato 🥔 She’s not a mouldy potato, yet, but the woman is making so many bad choices and actively hurting her own children.
There’s such a stark contrast this chapter between Bella/Caleb, and Alice/Vlad. I’m so glad that she realised her constant flood of questions was giving her anxiety; I don’t even have thousands of years of baggage, and I’d get upset over having to anticipate constant questions too.
And now Caleb is going over in broad daylight. Dear lord. How long is it going to be before Alexander or Cassandra opens the door? Or even Mortimer himself? This is bound to explode so bad at some point.
King Daddy 😂🤣 bwahaha, it sounds so wrong when you say it like that. Awww thank you for the shout-out! I loved all the little references in there. Lance-hot. I will never forget that nickname. 🤣 Not a witch, Alice. Just a potential goddess trapped in human form again, maybe. Possibly. I have absolutely no clue this time around, am just along for the ride. 🤭
Ooooh. Oh bollocks. Well. What did you just say about not worrying about consequences, Vladdy?
Oh dear, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks so I really thought I replied to this! LOL, You are right: Vlad has absolutely no chill, Caleb is still like an errant teenager, and Latimer is Ultimate Kind Old Grandpa!
Bella is going through some things. Sigh. I mean, I want to defend her against that potato comment but I really can’t. Homegirl is a hot mess right now. As is Caleb, who is CASUALLY jogging over in the middle of the day. What is wrong with these two? Neither of them can control their impulses no matter how much they insist that they are “responsible” ones.
<3 awww thank you for noticing the contrast. It is hilarious to me that Vlad, who is arguably the most unhinged, is somehow killing it in his relationship LOL
Also, I adore your story and now it's canon that Tales of Camelot is in the library of the Strauds Universe <3
Consequences? What consequences?