Our Story Continues
Last time, Anastasia lost herself in memories while getting chastised by her agent. In an effort to appear more mortal, she got the PARAGON of assistants with Luna Villareal. Mother’s intuition led her to check in on Lilith, who showed her appreciation with rude comments and magic sparking ominously from her fingertips.
This chapter contains strong language, adult situations, violence, gore, sexual situations, depictions of grief, trauma, and severe depression.
“Are you here with an update?” After nearly a year, Bob Pancakes had entered the acceptance phase of his grief. His question wasn’t hopeful; it was perfunctory.
“I’m here on a hunch,” Caleb told the sim truthfully, “And with an apology. I think we’ve been—well, I’ll speak for myself. I’ve been ignoring Eliza’s death because she was the least interesting. She wasn’t a celebrity like Johnny or part of an influential community like the victims from my jurisdiction. But I was wrong to do that. And I have a feeling if I can make sense of what happened to her, it’ll give you some closure and help the other victims.”
If Bob took offense to Caleb’s characterization of Eliza as “boring,” he didn’t show it. The sim opened the door a little wider, “Why don’t you come in?”
Immediately Caleb regretted that he had never visited the house. It told one hell of a story. While the fixtures and appliances screamed “average suburban home,” the furniture was inexplicably expensive. There were plenty of family photos, but not too long after their son was born, Eliza disappeared.
“She hated having her picture taken after a while.” Bob wrung his hands, “She didn’t like how she looked. And there wasn’t anything I could tell her that would change that.”
Caleb nodded. “Did she have anywhere for herself? An office? Somewhere she might’ve kept a journal or planner?”
“Her knitting room,” Bob replied. He led Caleb out to a small shed, packed to the gills with yarn and needles and the most exquisitely detailed dolls Caleb had ever seen.
“She made Yarney dolls,” he gasped.
Bob smiled, clearly proud. “That was how we could afford the house and the furniture. She sold them on Plopsy. Everyone loved them and paid crazy amounts of money for them. I always encouraged her to own up to it, but she liked being mysterious. She said it gave the products more value.”
“She was right,” Caleb ran his hand over Red Yarney’s intricate stitching work. “Speculation in the Yarney community is an activity in and of itself. But they should know it was her now,” he turned back to Bob, “If you want that, of course.”
“I do.” He gazed around the room wistfully, “I’ll leave you to it.”
Slowly and methodically, Caleb started going through everything. He pulled out half-finished knitting projects, holiday cards, and a toddler’s drawing of a turkey using their handprint. In the bottom corner, Eliza wrote her son’s name and the date he gave it to her.
It was sad seeing her whole life frozen in time, and Caleb couldn’t help but think about his own parents. Anastasia Barrister did not have a sentimental bone in her body. She chucked their childhood things with abandon while his father was a hoarder in denial. Caleb had always preferred his mother’s approach. Keeping things seemed to be Vladislaus’s own unique brand of manipulation—here, I’ve failed you, but look at how I weep over your first toddler bed.
Now, though, he wondered if all parents were perhaps a little overly sentimental, a bit “balls crazy,” as Titania put it. Carefully, he tucked the drawing away and moved on.
Finally, he found what he came for. Printed in neat script on a cardboard box:
The Journals of Eliza Pancakes
The crop whooshed through the air and landed squarely between his ribs. Vlad suppressed a shiver, something like heat radiating out from the spot. A telltale tingle began at the base of his spine, and he had to grit his teeth against it. “Fuck.”
“Again?” Alice asked, tapping the crop just under his chin. He savored the burn, leaning into it.
“Alright, not so fast,” she teased as she plucked at his straps, “You don’t call the shots. On your knees.”
“Am I not already on my knees?”
“Don’t sass me,” she replied, trying to hide her giggle, “On the floor on your knees. This is very serious.”
“Well, if it’s serious,” Vlad gave her a solemn look as he lowered himself to the ground, “Then who am I to disobey you?”
She couldn’t contain her laugh. He’d been disobeying her all week under the threat of serious retribution. And he had to admit, he was quite enjoying his punishment.
Alice tugged on the handcuffs as she pressed the crop against his neck. “Too tight?”
“Is that a joke? William once cut off both my hands during an argument over a horse. You and your handcuffs could hardly hurt me.”
“No. They are not,” he assured her, “Proceed.”
She ran the crop over his skin again but hesitated. Immediately, Vlad lowered his arms.
“What’s wrong? Are you alright? Do you want to stop?”
“No…I…” Alice made a face, “I don’t actually know what to do next. I talked a big game, and I looked up a lot of stuff on the internet, but honestly, I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing.”
“Do you want to talk about it? Or do you mean ‘pie’?”
“Oh,” her eyes widened, “Yeah! Pie. I thought that was only for you. I’m calling ‘pie.’” She pulled the key out of her bra and unlocked his handcuffs.
“I’m sorry,” she grimaced.
“Sorry? Whatever for?”
“I ruined it. This is totally your kink, and I thought this would be my kink, too—I do like being bossy—but it’s not. We’re supposed to be having fun, and now…” she trailed off, the grimace still planted firmly on her face.
“And now,” Vlad continued, “We are still having fun.”
“Yes,” he bit back a laugh at her doubtful expression, “Listen to that; what do you hear?”
Alice took a deep breath and let her head fall back. “Oh, sweet llamas, it’s silence.”
“Yes, silence.” He leaned forward and lifted her leg, gripping her thigh. “Hard-earned silence. The kind that comes at the cost of bribing Latimer with my signed, limited edition Of Tea and Treachery print.” It was the boxing championship, and now that he’d reconnected with his old friends, Latimer wanted to start the celebration early, not take Gwendolyn on a field trip outside of the house.
“You love that print.”
“I do,” Vlad traced his tongue further up her thigh, “Now, we have two more hours of this silence, and occult help me, Alice; one or both of us is going to come.”
She shivered and inched back on the bed, “Okay, you’re right. I’m relaxed. I’m focused. I’m—wait!” She grabbed his hair, tugging until he looked up at her. “That was your favorite print, and I had to cut all of Gwendolyn’s sandwiches into the shape of pirate ships, or she wouldn’t go to the museum. We can’t waste this on regular sex. We have to be loud or roleplay or something. Talk dirty to me.”
“You and I wake up in an alternate universe. Gwendolyn is a teenager; she has her driver’s license. Movieflix still has a commercial-free subscription for $9.99. Latimer lives in a cottage down the road, and your entire job is drinking nectar and being in charge of something vague yet terrifying.”
“Oh, that is good,” she thrust her hips forward. “That is…shit…are you gonna bite me?”
Goosebumps broke out across his skin. Vlad closed his eyes and tried to collect himself. Did she have any idea of the level of temptation those words presented? He dreamed of her plasma. Only the horrifying vision of her bleeding out on the bed kept him from sinking his teeth into her vein. With effort, he pressed a chaste kiss to her inner thigh. “Bite you? No. Eat you? Yes.”
He was well on his way to keeping his promise when he heard the front door open, followed by the cheerful call of “Father.” Panic had him on his feet in seconds.
“What the hell? Are you ok?” Alice jumped up, ready to follow him.
“Doorbell,” he said, desperate to keep her in the room. “I just heard someone knocking.”
“I didn’t hear—”
“Don’t worry,” Vlad shouted over his shoulder as he ran. “I’ll get it!”
Even knowing what to expect, he was still startled at seeing his daughter standing in the foyer.
“Oh!” she gasped. “I didn’t realize Ethren was here.”
Vlad looked down at his clothing and groaned. After a quick mist to the laundry room to grab a shirt, he was back, steering Lilith out the front door. “Ethren is not here. Thank you for visiting. I love you; now go away.”
“Why?” she whirled around and folded her arms.
She knew. Latimer had almost certainly blabbed about Alice on one of those infernal family video chats. Vlad ground his teeth. “I’m indisposed.”
“Oh,” she cocked her head innocently to the side, “Do you mean like when you were at my conference?” Her smile widened into something dangerous—icy. “You know, the one you deigned to attend and then left early?”
“I didn’t leave early. I saw your whole talk and filled out that occult-forsaken feedback card. Five stars, by the way. Now if that’s all you wanted to know…” He turned to go back inside.
“But I haven’t even told you about Caleb coming by looking for help.”
Vlad skidded to a halt. “Help? What happened? Is he in trouble?” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he realized his mistake.
“Of course, you’d ask that,” Lilith scowled. “If it concerns your precious Caleb, you’ve got all the patience in the world. Meanwhile, you can’t be bothered to spend a fucking weekend doing what I need you to do because you don’t give a shit about my life. Probably because I’m a witch, and you’re tired of parenting me.”
Part of being a parent was not letting your children push your buttons until you freaked out. Unfortunately, that was the part Vladislaus struggled with. “Of course I loathe witches,” he hissed, “What’s to like? And yes, I understand what parenthood is. I don’t need you to remind me.”
“Seems like you do; you don’t bother to do it!”
“You are over three hundred years old, Lilith; what parenting am I not doing?”
“Caring about me!” she stomped her foot. “Maybe I’ll just go lie in a ditch somewhere and die! Make you happy with your beloved son and this perfect family you’ve built!” With a scream of frustration, she stormed off.
“Perfect?” Vlad yelled after her, “This entire occult-forsaken family is made up of lunatics! Who would choose this?”
SAN MYSHUNO SUBURBS
Bella paced the hall. Deacon was right; her records request was a bust. It set off a bunch of red flags, and now military lawyers were making the chief’s life miserable.
“Goth! In here now!” he yelled.
Bella lifted her chin and walked into the office.
“What in a San Myshuno fuck is this records request?”
She couldn’t help but flinch as she took a seat. “It’s for a case.”
“A case?” He slammed a folder down on his desk. “Do you mean the one you’ve been dicking around on for months with no progress?”
“It’s a murder!” the chief cried, “Two murders. Unsolved. What is going on with you? Your partner is flapping in the wind, and before you get worked up, Deacon has your back. He lies his ass off for you when it’s clear to everyone you’ve iced him out.”
The sick feeling that started in her stomach was spreading. “I’ve been running some things down, working some angles—”
“Like the Landgraabs? Do you know I had to sit on the phone with that uppity bitch and beg her not to sue this department? Bella, when I brought you on, it was against recommendations. Everyone thought you were some rich sim’s spouse trying to keep herself from being bored. Your work has been exemplary, but now this? What the hell is going on?”
“I’m having a midlife—” Bella choked the sentence off. She would not fail at this. “I mean, I have a suspect. A real one.”
She explained everything Salim told her, along with what she’d gathered from Caleb’s updates, minus the supernatural stuff. The more she talked, the more confident she grew. “That’s why I put in the records request. I wanted to have as much backup as possible, but I am sure Alice Martin murdered Eliza Pancakes.”
“And I believe Salim Benali murdered Johnny Zest. In fact, I know it.” Bella always gave her suspects storylines and motivations; it helped get in their heads. But now, those flourishes came pouring out like facts. “Salim and Alice had a twisted love that became violent. Poor Johnny and Eliza got in the way—innocent bystanders who were swayed by the charisma of these two master criminals!”
By the time she finished, even the parts she wasn’t sure about felt true.
The chief held eyed her suspiciously before he nodded. “Alright, Goth, I trust you. We’ll bring them in, but you better ensure we have enough to hold them, or the next time we meet in this office, I’ll be firing you.”
When Vlad walked into the dining room, he looked tired. “Sorry for the delay. That took much longer than I thought.”
“It’s cool,” Alice replied, tucking in her sweater. “I heard yelling. Who was it?”
“Would you believe cultists pushing their ritualistic agenda?”
Vlad sighed, “My daughter, Lilith. She is furious about my parenting style.”
“Past parenting or recent?” It was one of the questions Alice had learned to ask since Vlad and his children were immortal. His kids would always be his kids, literally.
“All of the above. Apparently, it lasts for eternity, so even when your children are well past their second century, they nag you endlessly about it.”
He sounded flippant, but Alice knew he was hurt. It drove him crazy that he could not navigate a healthy relationship with his perpetually adult children.
“If it’s any consolation, I think it’s hard for everyone,” she said with a small smile. “It’ll be hard for me when Gwendolyn grows up and starts informing me of all the ways I screwed her up. Maybe you can put in a good word.”
He laughed. “Well, tonight we shall be engaging in the riveting round of ‘Vladislaus and Gwendolyn Play Dolls, but Vladislaus is Doing it Wrong,’ though I will try.” He pulled her in for a kiss, sliding a hand down to grab her butt. “Are you sure you have to leave? We could resume our session.”
“A tempting but imprudent offer,” Alice giggled, doing her best imitation of his voice. “Seriously, I have to get the last of my boxes, and Latimer and Gwendolyn are already on their way home.”
She didn’t regret her decision to move in with Vlad, but she did regret insisting on doing her own packing. It was difficult to break the cycle of doing everything the hard way just to feel like she earned it.
Vlad, on the other hand, had no such compunction. Once, she asked him how he kept track of all the due dates on his credit cards, and he simply handed her the phone number of his accountant. Even after her bills started getting paid on time, Alice felt anxious. In a complete panic, she corned him and confessed that having help felt like cheating. But Vlad just stared blankly at her and asked who exactly she was cheating on.
It was an eye-opening lesson.
“I swear I’m not trying to do it all myself.”
“I know,” he kissed her cheek, “Because I already hired movers.” His phone vibrated, and he looked down and frowned. “But maybe you can hire the babysitters tonight? I think Lilith is in trouble, and I need to track her down.”
Alice never made it back to her place. The tiny terror came home from the park in rare form and any extra time she planned on using towards grabbing the last of her stuff evaporated.
Luckily, her regular babysitters were available. Gwendolyn shut down her tears and squealed happily when they showed up.
“Hello, Tiny Terror,” Ben chirped in greeting, “We are here to be the adults in charge of you and not run around doing your bidding for fear you’ll accidentally destroy us.”
A comment like that would have thrown her off a few months ago. But now, Alice took it in stride. Besides, it was sort of true. “Tiny Terror” was Gwendolyn’s nickname for a reason. “Thanks for filling last minute,” she pointed behind her at the bouncing toddler behind her, “You have no idea how desperate we were. I’ll pay you extra.”
They followed her to the front door so she could grab her wallet.
“Don’t worry about the money,” Grim’s voice was so soft, she almost didn’t hear him. “It’s a big enough day without all that.”
He wasn’t usually so somber, and Alice didn’t know what to make of it. “Um…okay.” She wasn’t planning on a big day. In fact, since she’d been with Vlad, her days were pretty calm. She rarely even saw a ghost anymore. “Well, thanks either way,” she looked around the room, “Have you guys seen my phone?”
Ben opened his mouth, but Grim cut him off. “No. We haven’t.”
“He’s right,” Ben’s shoulders slumped. “But we’ll keep an eye out for it.”
DEL SOL VALLEY
Penny kept at her training even though it was miserable and did nothing to reduce her fury. Anastasia had gone from scolding her for getting upset to trying to convince Penny to drop it altogether.
“You hate it, and it doesn’t seem to help. You’re already strong; there’s no reason to continue. We’ll find someone else.”
Honestly, Ana could have saved her a lot of headaches by just flat-out saying she was a failure as a werewolf.
Speaking of headaches, Penny had one constantly. It had grown worse as the full moon crept closer. Matilda was supposed to be giving her insight into being a wolf, but the only thing she’d discuss besides running the fury out was “fated mates.”
“It’s a soul-mate for our kind,” she said, “Your one, true werewolf love chosen by destiny. They will be suited to you and you to them. You haven’t spent much time with werewolves, but when you do, you’ll start to feel fate tugging you in the right direction.”
“You know I’m dating Anastasia, right?”
Matilda’s eyes narrowed. “That’s because you were a mortal who didn’t understand what she truly is.”
It wasn’t true, but Penny learned it was best to just play along. “And what’s that?”
“A blood-thirsty monster without feeling or heart. Ask her,” Matilda said, her smile barely reaching her eyes, “Ask her how she feels about anything. And then you’ll know.”
But Penny already knew the answer to that question. Anastasia Barrister didn’t feel fuck about shit.
When she got a text from Bella, it was a relief to leave the gym. Ana made a big deal about hunkering down for the full moon, but Matilda hadn’t mentioned it, merely telling Penny to work on her training and quell her rage. Penny didn’t know what to believe, but she knew she would scream if she spent another second thinking about being a wolf.
“Penny Pizzazz here, reporting for duty to solve someone else’s fucking problems!” The bar wasn’t super crowded, but a sign taped on the window announced it was “Bear Week.” Whatever that meant.
Bella laughed and waved Penny over. “I’ve got plenty of fucking problems, so take a seat.”
The bartender set down a Wutaheftabir, “She ordered for you.”
Penny took the glass gratefully. She was thirsty…actually insanely thirsty. Downing the drink in one gulp, she immediately ordered another. “Alright,” she said to Bella, “Lay it on me.”
“Are you okay? Are you sure you don’t want a glass of water?”
“I said, lay it on me!” Penny clenched her fist and willed the fury building in her to settle. “I’m fine, seriously. What’s going on?”
“Besides Bear Week?” Bella joked, gesturing at the man in costume sitting next to Penny.
“Yeah,” Penny snorted, “Besides this town and its weird fucking events.”
Whatever friction was between them melted. Bella launched into an explanation of her case. Most of it, Penny had heard before. She let the words wash over her until a name jolted her out of her reverie.
“—It wasn’t a lie exactly,” Bella said, “I’m pretty sure Salim killed Johnny, and Alice is the only reasonable culprit for Eliza’s murder. Still, my evidence is way more circumstantial than it should be and—”
“Salim. As in Salim Benali?” Penny jumped to her feet. She remembered reading about the case in the paper months ago, but after a bunch of hubbub, it all went quiet. Alice was long gone, and Penny was distracted, so she never mentioned it.
That’s not true.
Penny closed her eyes and tried to ignore the voice, but she couldn’t. She wasn’t distracted; she was doing that awful thing where she held onto a piece of information until it benefited her to deploy it. In this case: when Alice inevitably announced her engagement to that weirdo billionaire, and Penny needed to bring her back down to earth.
The voice was there, and it was loud. So loud that Penny admitted to herself that she was saving the information for when it hurt the most because that’s what Pizzazzes did, and she was so fucked up she couldn’t stop herself.
“Answer me!” she shouted, pointing angrily at Bella.
“Y-yes. I really shouldn’t have said anyone’s name,” her friend clambered off of her stool, “This is an active investigation.”
“Salim is a liar. And a cheat,” Penny bit out. Heat flared in her chest. “And the Alice you’re talking about, you mean Alice Martin?”
“I…yes?” Bella put her hand on Penny’s shoulder, but Penny shoved her back so hard she flew into the table behind her.
The bartender started over, but Bella put her hand up. “It’s fine,” she wheezed, “Just a misunderstanding.” She focused on Penny, “You need to calm down. I don’t know your relationship to either of these suspects, but—”
“Alice is not a suspect!” Penny roared, “She is my friend, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“She fled the country,” Bella argued as she clutched her side.
“She took her daughter away from Salim, who still tries to control her by dangling child support and screaming at her. But you don’t know anything about that, do you? Because you never talked to her. You never asked.”
“Penny, please, I—”
But Penny didn’t hear her. She stormed out of the bar and dialed Alice. When the call when to voicemail, she left a frantic message, all while guilt was scouring her from the inside out.
She should have gotten Alice to break up with Salim.
She should have told her about the cheating back in college.
She should have said something about the articles.
A piercing pain split through her.
Werewolves build up fury inside them. A rage we can’t control because it’s unnatural. And to combat that, we have to wear ourselves out.
Stomach curling and heat licking at her bones, Penny took off on a run.
Eliza had journals going all the way back to her time in high school. Caleb flipped through an early one just to get a sense of her personality:
April 3, 2003I thought Geoffrey was going to ask me to prom, but his prom-posal was for Nancy. Figures. She’s rich as sin and totally gorgeous. I heard her mom is even paying for her to get a nose job! The day wasn’t all bad. Bob left a card in my locker. I think he likes me…
He set that journal aside and picked up one from around the time the crew would have been planning the heist:
The first time I met Salim, I knew I’d give anything to have him look at me.
He didn’t even glance in my direction when I tried to get his attention, but his girlfriend asked me to take a picture of them, and at that moment, I knew.
It was destiny.
I was supposed to meet Salim this way.
Eliza spared no details about her feelings. Even the fact that Alice and Salim were clearly casing the place did nothing to dampen her enthusiasm. In fact, it made her more interested. She wrote about everything she did to get his attention, from changing her clothes to changing how she talked.
Salim appeared to pay her no mind, and Eliza was depressed until she talked to one of the women in her local knitting group:
Miko says men like Salim are dangerous, and I’ve got to do something exciting if I want to capture his attention.
A few days later, she saw her opportunity. Salim had a lead on a rare artifact that was worth a lot of money, and Eliza’s friend Miko was the curator at the museum where it was housed. She gave them maps and a schedule for the security guards. Still, Eliza didn’t have what she wanted:
The closer we get to heist day, the more Salim comes onto me. But he won’t break up with Alice. I don’t understand; if he’s in love with me and I’m helpful, why won’t he just leave her?
Through Eliza’s journal, Caleb learned even more about the heist crew. Case in point, Johnny’s role was cleaning the money. Those big comedy shows he bragged to his co-workers about? Tickets were cash-only, and he had plans to inflate the registration lists.
So much for being the “Real Number One,” Caleb thought.
Eliza confirmed what Darrel said—Johnny was running the werewolf job on the side for an unnamed benefactor. He took Eliza along for “moral support,” though Caleb was sure that, like Salim, Johnny liked having Eliza around to stroke his ego. She dedicated three whole entries to the Mooncaster’s impressive magic skills.
The journal was depressing.
It also told him exactly who Eliza’s killer was.
Vlad found Lilith at the fairy circles she loved so much. Anastasia was right; she was overcharged. The fact that he didn’t notice filled him with guilt. But there was no room for self-pity now.
There was only rescuing Lilith from herself.
“You’d think after all those years of chasing you through the woods, I’d be faster at finding you,” he called out as he approached.
His daughter hissed, the area around her pulsating with power.
“I’m sorry for earlier,” he continued. “I lost my temper. I should’ve realized what you needed.”
“Don’t come any closer,” she sobbed, “I’m furious at you, and I can’t control it.”
Vlad kept moving towards the circle of flames surrounding her, his arms outstretched. “Even when you were quite small, you were teeming with power. Did you know that? You can’t imagine how often I burned myself trying to pick you up.”
“I mean it!” Lilith cried, “I can kill you. I kill everything that gets close to me. Vampires included.”
“I’m not a vampire,” Vlad replied. At least not completely.
She shouted more warnings, but there was nothing but fear in her voice, so he kept moving. He reached the outer edge of the circle and paused, giving it a minute to see if she could subdue herself.
The flames burned higher. In a few minutes, her power would spiral, destroying everything in its path, and though Vlad could give a shit about Britechester, Lilith loved it.
“I am coming in there,” he told her calmly.
“Please don’t!” she wailed. The magic pouring off her intensified, and suddenly, her body jerked upward.
Donning his dark form, Vlad braced himself and stepped through the circle.
It felt like he was being pulled apart. Whatever lived under his skin pressed to the surface as the magic tore through him.
He thought he was walking toward her, but then there were no more thoughts.
It was over in seconds. As the last tendrils of magic slipped down Vlad’s throat, he turned and scooped Lilith up.
She coughed and whimpered, her hands shaking as she tried to grab hold of him and then gave up. “Why?” she rasped, “I’m mad at you, and I could have killed you.”
“I’m your father,” Vlad replied. “And you cannot kill me. So I will always be here, even if you’re angry. Even if you don’t want my help, Lily-Bear, I will always come for you.”
In addition to the CC I regularly use in the game and buildings from the Fleuralia Save File, I used the following builds and custom content. This story takes a ton of mods and cc, so if you see your work and I failed to tag it somewhere, please message me.
POSES & ANIMATIONS
Prom Night Posepack by Katverse
Wedding Posepack by SnarkyWitch
Handcuffs and Whips by Akuiyumi
Poison Pose Pack by Natalia-Auditore
Theodorus Dress Pants by Kleos Sims
Elwyn Rope Top by Kleos Sims
Ealstan Harness Top by Kleos Sims
Pose #185 by Sciophobis
Brutal Female Vamp #2 Pose by Natalia-Auditore
Not Feeling Good Pose Pack by Natalia-Auditore
Reading Standing Poses by Akuiyumi
Can You Take Our Photo by StarrySimsie
Carrying Her Poses by Natalia-Auditore