CW: Strong language, adult situations, strong sexual content, trauma, and character experiencing PTSD
Hey, y’all! Just a heads up that Chapter 12 (coming August 21st) will be our “mid-season” finale. After that, I’ll take a few weeks off to refill the creative tank and do some site maintenance and game admin. I’ll return at the end of September for the second half of the season (Chapters 13 – 24).
Don’t despair, though! I’ve got a little something to celebrate the high school pack release on July 28th, and I’ll be back with more crazy adventures before you know it!
Bella set down her coffee and stared at the photos on the phone. “It’s the same thing…” she announced, tone astonished.
Her lips parted; she seemed to do that a lot when thinking. Caleb always told himself he’d avoid being his parents—two lovesick idiots fused by their mutual narcissism. He was single. Happily so. Bella and her bright green eyes and stubborn determination and keen—
“Oof,” Caleb coughed as Akira elbowed him. “What was that for?”
“She said the park where they found her first victim had the same ritual set-up as the graves in the woods. She asked us what it’s for.”
If he could, Caleb would have blushed. It hadn’t occurred to him that the ritual might be something other than the standard Beltane fare.
“Why don’t you call those creepy crime scene witches?” Bella suggested.
Inwardly, Caleb cringed. The supernatural world was new to her; she didn’t mean the things she said. Still, it was like nails on a chalkboard whenever she made a thoughtless comment.
Akira scoffed, his pointed ears twitching with agitation. “Those creepy crime scene witches could peel open your skull and empty every thought in your head, so maybe, just maybe, try their title: Acolytes.”
“I didn’t mean—”
“We know,” Caleb said quickly, “Anything else you can think of that connects to your crime scene?”
“Eliza and Johnny both had werewolf tooth necklaces. That’s how I ended up tracking down Nina. We also found shoeprints: male, Spencer-Kims, which makes them pretty damn expensive. Deacon and I were hoping a local bubble blower dealer might help us track them down, but does that mean anything to you?”
“I’m not sure,” Caleb lied. He stood, dropping a few simoleons down on the table. “Let me walk you to your car, and we’ll talk about it later.”
Bella stopped when they got to her vehicle, nervously tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. “I didn’t mean to offend you. Sometimes my mouth gets ahead of me.”
“It’s fine,” Caleb assured her. “You’re adjusting to all of this. Just try to be thoughtful.” He paused, listening. “And avoid taking the highway; there’s a pile-up. I can hear the honking.”
She laughed. “You know, of all the things I thought vampires would be concerned about. Traffic was not one of them.”
Caleb smiled as she climbed into her car and drove away. He was still smiling when Akira came to stand next to him.
“I don’t like her,” he grumbled.
“You weren’t asked.”
“You’re not sure about her either. You didn’t say shit about us having an identical shoeprint belonging to a vampire.”
“The details of that are unconfirmed.”
Akira cocked an eyebrow.
“What? Only a werewolf could track a specific identity, and even then, they’d need to have smelled it before. My ego doesn’t need any false attribution; the most I can tell you is what kind of creature was in the area. Which reminds me, we have another problem.”
“More problem than you not trusting any werewolf for fear this might be one of your psychotic family members?” Akira held his hands in mock surrender when Caleb growled, “Don’t get all worked up. I’d do the same fucking thing.”
He would. Akira always made it clear that he believed the world operated in shades of gray. He had such a laissez-faire attitude towards supernatural law that Caleb often wondered why he did this job at all. “Johnny Zest smelled like a werewolf but he never turned, I could tell from his bone structure. He also smelled like a spellcaster, but the Landgraabs aren’t witches.”
The fae cracked his knuckles, “So, werewolf teeth, rituals, and a little family tree mystery. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Lilith and Matilda,” Caleb felt a wave of exhaustion wash over him. “One guess as to which one will be easier.”
The Omar Golf and Country Club
“You’re doing it wrong,” Anastasia called out, her golf club slung casually over her shoulder.
Penny focused on the ball, trying to ignore her. “Do you usually spend your first few dates pointing out all of your love interest’s flaws?”
“As a matter of fact, yes.”
With a resigned sigh, Penny switched sides, but she was not going to give Ana the satisfaction of begging for help. She intended to do a moderate swing, but something went wrong, and the ball sailed clean over the fence.
It had been Anastasia’s insane idea to go golfing. Penny only agreed because she wanted to know the second the vampire returned to her condo so she could figure out some sort of explanation…
Did she even need an explanation?
She thought she saw Jimena and another maid when she high-tailed out of the building, but to be honest, it was a blur. Maybe no one saw anything…
“I could show you,” the vampire offered, drawing Penny out of her thoughts.
The way she was holding that club should be illegal. It made Penny think irrational thoughts.
Ones she wasn’t even sure were sexy.
“Get thee back, devil.” Penny plucked another ball from the bucket and lined it up. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Ana palming her golf club. “Why are you hovering?” she snapped when she meant, “Who in the hell wears spiked heels on a golf course, and must you look so incredible in them?”
Turning her attention back to the ball, Penny found it absurdly hard not to hit the thing with all her might. She failed again, watching as it pinged off the side of a table and crashed through a window.
“Relax,” Ana slid her arms around Penny’s waist, “Let me teach you how to make a hole in one.”
Every part of Penny clenched deliciously, and her heart rate began to speed up. Predator, her adrenaline whispered, but llamas, how she craved that word.
“You just need to grip it gently,” Ana whispered, pressing a kiss to Penny’s shoulder.
“Then you hold it steady like you’re in control,” she angled their bodies towards the hole. “And swing.” Anastasia held tight, and they watched the golf ball sail directly into the hole. “Am I an excellent teacher, or what?”
“Y-yeah…” Penny stumbled back, light-headed, her whole body burning up.
Hold it in.
“Penny!” Ana’s voice sounded like it was coming from down a long tunnel.
I can hear you, Penny wanted to say. But what came out was, “Am I on fire?”
Britechester University, Lilith’s House
Lilith was not amused to find her brother standing at her door.
“Sister! You’re looking so well,” Caleb grinned. “Won’t you invite me in?”
“Too late,” a voice called from behind her, “Already here.”
Lilith whirled around to find Akira Kibo, brother of the Queen of the Fae. How the hell did he get the jump on her?
“I said you can’t come in! It’s the rule!” she screeched.
He lifted his arms behind his head, a cocky grin lighting his expression, “Yeah, that’s vampire shit. The fae ain’t got no such rules.”
It pissed her off that he was right. Mortals thought they could protect themselves by refusing to let a vampire in, but that was nonsense. Vampires could mist or fly in and out of spaces with ease. The rule was merely a courtesy that vampires extended to other vampires. It was an acknowledgment of boundaries, which meant not a single member of the Straud family could be bothered to follow it.
She stepped aside so Caleb could pass. “No, please. Make yourself fucking comfortable,” she drawled, pouring a healthy dose of sarcasm into her tone.
“You are in a shit mood,” Caleb beamed. “And what’s with all the boxes? Are you moving? I thought you loved this house.”
She wished her family would just stay the hell out of her business. “Don’t ask me that like you know shit about my life! You haven’t talked to me in over a year!”
Caleb balked. “I—”
“I don’t want to hear it!” Lilith shouted, embarrassed by displaying how wounded she was.
“Lily-bear, I swear, I didn’t mean to—”
“Fuck you, Caleb.” She didn’t mist. Never could master it. Instead, she disappeared in a hail of sparkling lights.
Del Sol Valley General Hospital
Penny woke up with a start. She was in a hospital, wearing one of those horrifying open-backed gowns. “What the hell?”
“She wakes.” Ana was at the foot of the bed, hip jutted in a casual pose as if hanging at the hospital was normal.
“Get me the fuck out of here.”
“Are you feeling better?”
The vampire smirked. “Liar.”
Penny still had a headache. Her body kept telling her that they needed to be outside, and she had this insane urge to break things and then go pee on the ground.
“I tried calling your family. Now that you’re awake I could—“
“No!” Penny growled. “Fuck no. I don’t want them to come here. They’ll…” she bit her lip, embarrassment and guilt washing over her. She was too damn old to be hung up on her parents’ approval and yet, the idea that they would see her here like this—a complete mess—was horrifying. “You wouldn’t understand.”
“That they’ll sweep in here dripping with disdain to make you feel bad about yourself just so that they, in turn, feel better?” Anastasia narrowed her eyes, “You’re right. I don’t understand. I think they’re idiots.”
“I told you about ragging on my family,” Penny scooted to the bottom of the bed, prepared to get up, “And if you don’t want to check me out, I’ll do it myself.”
Anastasia snatched her ankle with one hand, her wrist with the other. Her grip was firm, holding Penny in place. “What if I give you a reason to rest a little longer?”
A jolt of heat traveled alongside every place that the vampire touched. Penny whirled them around with speed she didn’t know she had, pushing Ana back onto the bed, straddling her. “I should leave anyway. You were going to call my fucking family.” It was meant to be a threat, but it came out breathless.
“I could command them to kneel and beg for your forgiveness.”
“Is that a vampire thing?” Her lips hovered over Anastasia’s as she tried to decide if their first kiss and sex would happen in a hospital.
The vampire winked. “Only if they’re as skilled as me, and few if any are.”
The confidence was an aphrodisiac. It had Penny thinking—
Anastasia paused her process untying Penny’s gown. “Do you want to stop?”
“No,” Penny squeezed her eyes shut. Alice was right, sex was no big deal and she needed this. “Keep going.”
Ana didn’t move. With a growl, Penny reached back and undid the rest of the bows. “I said I don’t want to stop.” She ignored the voice in the back of her screaming, clenching her teeth until she thought they would break. “Kiss me.”
But Ana didn’t. “Penny, get up.”
“No. I’m fine. I’m—”
Don’t think about—
Suddenly, Penny was across the room, her body crouched in a defensive stance. Anastasia growled and hissed but quickly swallowed it. She straightened. “Don’t panic.” The claw marks across her arm were in sharp contrast to plasma dripping from the wound on her throat. “You didn’t mean it. You can’t possibly hurt me.”
“How did I…why did I…?”
“It’s alright,” Anastasia continued, her tone gentle in a way Penny could not take. “It’s hard to control your emotions when you’re a new—”
“Nothing!” she roared, “Nothing! I’m not anything.”
“Penny, this is insane. You’re obviously a—”
“Don’t. Just please shut up and give me my gown!”
A dark shadow passed over Ana’s expression, but the vampire tossed it over.
“I’m nothing,” Penny bit out as she slipped it on, “I’m just a sim. You’re the monster. Not me.” She turned away, not wanting Anastasia to see her expression. “Just take me home. Please.”
Britechester University, Lilith’s House
She didn’t expect Caleb to follow her. “Get back,” she hissed, the magic swirling around her in a dangerous cyclone.
He clasped his hands behind his back. “Are you going to throw a tantrum?”
“No. But I might fire off a bolt of magic that melts the flesh off your bones.”
“Very mature,” he smirked. “If this is about embarrassing you at the Queen of Windenburg’s coronation in 1802, I’ve already apologized, and I should remind you that it was only vegetable dye.”
Caleb was notorious for his pranks; after he soaked their formal clothing in bright orange dye, Morgyn was furious for a week. Secretly, Lilith thought it was hilarious. Royals were stuffy, and the event was boring as all get out until her family threw open the doors and walked in looking like impeccably dressed carrots.
She stuck out her tongue to keep from laughing. The magic dissipated, and slowly, she lowered to the ground.
“Are you having trouble controlling it?” he asked.
Whenever Caleb used his “big-brother” voice, she felt young and vulnerable. She didn’t mind projecting that, it was part of her survival strategy, but feeling it? Ugh. Flopping onto the ground, she sketched shapes in the dirt while avoiding his gaze. “Why did you ignore all my calls and stop talking to me?”
Caleb sighed and lowered himself gracefully across from her. “Why do any of us do the things we do?” he picked at an invisible piece of lint on his coat, “We get upset retreat to our corners. It’s our nature.”
It was, but no one retreated quite like Caleb. Part of Lilith wanted to chastise him for abandoning them, but another part admired his firm boundaries. “I missed you,” she whispered.
“I missed you, too. Though I might point out there was a long stretch of the 1890s where you didn’t talk to me.”
Lilith smiled. It was a Straud family tradition to hurl accusations of poor treatment before shoving their way back into each other’s lives. “It was only a decade. Now, what do you need my help with?”
“How do you know I’m here for your help? Maybe I’m just here for a visit.”
“If that was the case, you wouldn’t have dragged along that raggedy-arsed fae.”
Akira was crouched in what could only be described as a purely vampiric move. No other creatures could hold themselves completely still in wildly uncomfortable positions.
“Hey, don’t look at me,” he chuckled, “You’re the one who ran off to a fairy ring. It’s like you came to my house.”
So she did. Fairy rings felt safe to her, and they were all over Britechester. Another reason she was depressed over leaving. “Am I supposed to fly into this blind, or will you two assholes fill me in?”
“We can’t reveal—”
“Yeah, we can,” Akira said, rolling his eyes at Caleb. “It started with a case. Werewolves murdered in Glimmerbrook.”
Begrudgingly, Caleb began filling her in on the details while Akira jumped in whenever he started getting cagey. Clearly, the fae didn’t understand a vampiric family’s need to operate with cascading layers of secrets. Maybe he wasn’t such a “raggedy-arse” after all.
“Here,” Caleb showed her some pictures of a ritual site on his phone, “We thought it was just a Beltane ceremony, but now we have reason to believe it’s something else.”
“It is something else,” Lilith grabbed the phone and peered closer. “It’s not a ceremony at all; it’s a spell. See the chalk circle? That’s to draw power. Usually, candles are for illuminating script work.”
Caleb showed her a photo of the torn note he found. “Is this a spell?”
Lilith studied it.
“—is finally collected, heap upon before preceding with the next ingredients.”
“It’s part of a spell, but without any other details, it’s pretty worthless. Nothing about that line is beyond the standard incantation…” she trailed off, a thought occurring to her. “No, I’m wrong.”
“That’s a first,” he joked.
“Shut up. Ingredients are for potions. This isn’t a spell; it’s a recipe. Someone is trying to make something. Or someone, I guess.”
Her brother looked excited, “Making someone? A potion can do that?”
“Slow down. It’s not what you’re thinking. You don’t just turn over a bottle and creature pops out. But a potion can give life, like if you have a conduit or a homunculus and—”
“Who has a homunculus?”
“No one,” Lilith was exasperated. “You don’t just have one. You’ve got to make it and—”
“Can you make one?”
“No! You would never just make one. It’s—”
He ignored her, “Fine, could you just recreate the potion, find out what they were trying to do? It’s magic, right?”
Lilith glanced down, “Yes, it’s magic, but,” she wrung her hands, “the chances are very high it won’t work.”
He gave a confused laugh, “Are you shitting me? How could it not work? You’re—”
“Magical, but not a witch,” Akira finished.
Lilith was startled. The only creature who ever understood how she worked was Ethren. When she was a child, he taught her the basics of magic. And later, when she became a vampire, he helped her navigate the new connection to her power. The years that he and Vladislaus were back together were some of the happiest in her life. “I’m not a normal witch.”
And she never would be. Everyone thought magic was an art, but it was, in fact, more like math—a careful balance of power out/power in. Spells, charms, rituals—they were all just calculations. Lilith had an academic understanding of how it should work but the regenerative nature of occult energy meant she was always on the verge of being over-charged. And the combination of her dark form and an overcharge of magic?
Lilith didn’t let that part out anymore.
Caleb frowned. “I just don’t understand how—”
“Caleb, give her your gift and ask your question so we can blow this joint,” Akira snapped. “I got a cheesesteak at a mortal deli with my name on it, and you two are bringing me perilously close to closing time.”
Her brother huffed and went to retrieve the box. Lilith gave Akira a grateful look.
“Here,” Caleb thrust a small box into her hand. Inside was a tiny wooden kitten.
“Monsieur Blue! I can’t believe you found it!”
“I thought father threw it away,” she sniffed.
“Not a chance,” Caleb scoffed, “He’s fucking hoarder.”
It was the first time in over a century that Lilith heard her brother talk about their father with anything resembling affection. “I loved this toy,” she whispered. “I was always trying to get you to put it on your head.”
“I know,” he grinned, “You were annoying.”
“Cheesesteaks,” Akira shouted, “The clock is ticking. Tell her why you brought it.”
Her brother looked sheepish. “I thought it would make you happy, but I also hoped it might jog your memory. Do you remember The Ultimate Vampire Tome?”
Downtown San Myshuno, Fashion District
“Thanks for the ride,” Penny mumbled when they reached her apartment. She hadn’t said a single word the entire ride and how she was clutching at her arms, avoiding Anastasia’s gaze.
“Even the threat of peeling the skin from my bones repeatedly with a whaling knife wouldn’t be enough to force me to ride the subway.”
Penny’s head whipped up. “Has someone done that to you?”
Not to her. But that wasn’t her story to tell. She shrugged, “Just a figure of speech. Anyway, get some sleep. Sweet dreams and all that.” She turned to leave.
“That’s it? You couldn’t keep your hands off me on our first date. And then…and then I’m topless grinding on you, and you don’t even want it.”
Anastasia turned slowly as the fury flooded her system. The sheer effort it took not to strike almost made her dizzy. “What.”
“If you’re not that into me, you can just say it. I’m not going to beg for something to fuck me. I am not that desperate.”
You can’t kill her, she reminded herself, although the reasons why felt hazy. “I’m going to pretend that you didn’t say that.”
“Oh, I said it. I—”
“Penny, let me tell you something about dating a woman who is 950 years old. I have seen this song and dance you’re doing a hundred thousand times—from queens, from actresses, from powerful witches. You wish to be other than what you are, and just like your idiotic family taught you, you wish to make that unhappy news someone else’s fault. But I don’t carry others’ faults, and the last creature who tried to put that on me ended up taking a long nap in a pine box.”
She closed the gap between them.
“When I fuck you, it won’t be some rushed thing with your mind miles away and panic in your eyes. You’ll beg. You’ll look at me with longing. And if I am so inclined, I’ll give you what you want.”
With that, she pulled Penny in for their first real kiss.
Afterward, she hightailed it out of there because no matter how calm she seemed, the truth was that fury and adrenaline were waging war inside her. It was the moon’s fault—it wasn’t only werewolves beholden to lunar whims. Occult energy surged with the new moon.
Once upon a time, Anastasia tracked it meticulously. But those days were long past. She was only thinking of it now because of what she had to do.
It was like Lilith said, Ana needed to get Penny a werewolf teacher so she could conquer this transformation.
Or was it support Penny while she found a werewolf teacher so that she could conquer this transformation?
Was the word “conquer” even in there?
Darkwing House, Britechester University
When Matilda and her crew burst through the door, Anastasia could smell the aggression pouring off them.
“Fucking vampire! We’ll—”
Anastasia held up a pile of limbs that used to be the werewolf she fought upon her arrival. “You’ll have to educate me on how werewolves work. Do the limbs grow back, or is poor Stanley done for?”
To her credit, Matilda held back the other wolves when they lunged. “Don’t,” she growled, “You have no idea who you’re crossing.” She discarded her wolf form and pointed at the body parts Anastasia had dropped on the ground. “Bury him, account for the others, and hunker down.”
Anastasia watched with interest as the two wolves obeyed Matilda’s commands. They hated it but were unwilling to go against their alpha. She’d always wondered why the wolf kept her headquarters on a college campus, but now she understood.
College students made good puppies.
Matilda crossed to her globe bar and poured herself a drink. She tossed it back quickly, her white hair falling over her shoulders, testifying to her age. “Werewolves are not like vampires when it comes to physical regeneration. But I reckon you are damn well old enough to know that.”
The admonishment was reserved, but Anastasia knew from predators. Matilda was still a canny wolf.
“It’s good that you arrived before I made any more mistakes. Speaking of education, I have a new werewolf in need of a teacher.”
“Where’s her pack?”
“There is no pack. She was a sim who was bitten and now finds herself needing someone to help her through this transition.”
“There were far easier ways to ask for help.”
“Yes,” Anastasia preened, “But now I have your attention.”
“Attention, yes, but not my loyalty. You killed one of my own,” her voice was sharp, “Why in the moon would I help you?”
“Because you don’t want me to do it again? Because you have a giving spirit?” Anastasia examined her manicure. One of the small stones had fallen off in the fight. How irritating. “Feel free to choose whatever reason suits you.”
“My kin told tales of you. Miss Hell, they called you—a moniker to mark your black heart.” Her eyes narrowed, “Mooncasters and spellcasters aren’t enemies anymore. The witches protect us, and the Sages count werewolves among their own.”
Anastasia chuckled. “I wondered how long it would take you to name-drop the Sages. If your kin told the whole story, then you’d know exactly how seriously I take the threat of authority. Speaking of which, how do your authorities feel about your little side business? Werewolf teeth? Lucrative, but oh so indelicate.”
“Fuck you. You want a lesson, vampire? Here it is. If one of mine made her, your friend belongs to this pack.”
“She belongs to me.” Anastasia flexed her claws.
“I can smell her on you now. What if I tracked your precious plaything? Brought her back here and showed her the truth of being a wolf? She could have a fated mate in a matter of weeks. Probably better for her, everyone knows your track record with lovers. Long live Evelyn—”
Anastasia grabbed her by the throat and slammed Matilda back against the wall. “Do not say the rest of that name.”
The werewolf croaked, attempting to speak, but Anastasia clamped a hand over her mouth. “Do you want to know why you’ll help me? Because I can tear out your fucking throat. Because I can destroy anyone and anything you’ve ever loved and make you watch. Because I can, at any time, decide to take over your little side business for myself and make your teeth the next ones I sell.” She leaned in close, “Feel free to pick whichever threat best suits you.”
It took a minute for Matilda to regain her breath. The sounds of desperate howling outside the window weren’t enough to cover the frantic beat of her heart.
Good. Anastasia had always believed it was better to be feared than loved.
“Alright,” Matilda said, having swallowed the last of the ill-advised pride that made her lash out. “You have our cooperation, but training doesn’t come cheap. I hope that you brought your checkbook.”
Downtown San Myshuno, Fashion District
She spent an hour in a cold shower before her body finally felt cool enough to stop shaking. She replayed the kiss, the condo, Ana’s parting words.
You wish to be other than what you are. That was true. So was the part about her taking it out on someone else. It was insane all the ways you could hate something being done to you, but then turn around and do it to others.
Penny sighed and turned on her computer. Her hand hovered over her cell phone as she debated calling Alice.
Stop being such a chicken-shit! she scolded herself.
The internet didn’t seem like the place for reliable information about werewolves, but years of working for San Myshuno’s top tabloid taught Penny different. There was a forum for everything.
She typed: Can a sim become a werewolf? into the search. That gave her too many results and outdated articles. One was from the Moonlight Falls Review, and Penny knew that paper went under years ago.
Am I becoming a werewolf? She pressed enter and scrolled through the results.
Sure enough, there was a forum with a posting by somebody who went by the name, DoPEguy69:
If you’re mad as hell and looking here? Probably. But you gotta watch out. Werewolves are fucking heartbreakers.
NEXT TIME, ON THE STRAUDS:
Trailer: “Royals” by Lorde
POSES & ANIMATIONS
Male Poses 11 by Helgatisha
Sweet Couple poses by Katverse
Golf Pose by Guell
- Golf Club by sims4-sin-a
Chic Girl Poses by couquett
Golf Cart by 13pumpkin
Kitty Kitty Poses by Helgatisha
Model Poses 32 by Helgatisha
Model 31 by Helgatisha
Valentine’s Day 2021 by Helgatisha
Male Poses 10 by Helgatisha
Sitting Poses by Helgatisha
Halloween Poses Power by Helgatisha
Emotions by sciophobis
Carrying Their Pieces by Natalia Auditore
Body Pieces by Natalia-Auditore
Werewolf Posepack by Natalia-Auditore
Scared by Her by Natalia-Auditore
Oh Happy Day by Simmerberlin