OUR STORY CONTINUES
Last time, Caleb learned some interesting information from the diaries of Eliza Pancakes. Bella spun some stories about Alice to save her job while Vlad and Alice had their playtime interrupted by parental commitments. Lilith was overcharged with magic, but her dad rode to the rescue. Meanwhile, Penny failed to warn Alice about Bella’s betrayal in time.
This chapter contains strong language, adult situations, violence, gore, sexual situations, depictions of grief, trauma, severe depression, and characters having thoughts of self-harm.
“I cannot believe you’ve deigned to set foot in a student pub,” Lilith teased.
Vlad shook his head, giving her a mock-serious look. “Sacrifices must be made. If I don’t feed you, you’re liable to try and burn me alive again.”
His daughter laughed, but then her expression grew somber. “Aren’t you going to ask me if it’s growing harder to control?”
“It’s always hard to control. Hard and miserable and exhausting.”
She nodded, and for a second, she was sixteen again, confessing that she’d taken the carriage and snuck off unchaperoned, where things with her friends got out of hand. She’d worried about her power then, too. “There’s a monster inside me,” she told him, tears flowing until he let loose the beast beneath his skin and replied, “There’s a monster inside me too, and I promise we will learn to control it together.”
It was a vow he’d been desperate to keep, and even now, he was unsure if he’d ever forgive himself for breaking it.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
Vlad picked up his nectar glass, smoothing out whatever wistful look was hanging on his face. “I’m being sentimental. It’s a peril of parenting. Ignore me.”
“If you say so.” Slowly, Lilith dipped a finger into the icing on her cupcake and began swirling it around. “I don’t know why I was so worked up. I suppose I was feeling jealous. You’re always so worried about Caleb, but not me because I don’t ignore you. I’m here, and you don’t even meddle in my life.”
“Ha,” Vlad threw back his head, “I meddle in your life constantly. In fact, I only got this degree because I was meddling in your life. Or have you forgotten the lecherous, idiotic lout I told you not to date?”
“He was not idiotic!”
“Idiotic,” Vlad repeated. “I got this degree to spend time with you and to watch him like a hawk so that when he undoubtedly broke your heart with his casual attitude towards monogamy, I could break his legs—which I did. And you cried for him, declared I ruined any chance you had at happiness, and told me you hoped I burned in hell.”
“I did say that, didn’t I?” Her eyes twinkled. “Well, he was awful. Cheated on me and then had a hissy fit because I dumped him and started dating one of our professors.”
“What? I missed my chance in 1995, and although 60 was treating him quite well, I had a feeling things were going to go downhill, and I was right. Heart attack on his 65th birthday.”
Vlad couldn’t help but roll his eyes. “Oh, I remember. You camped out in my guest room for three months, forced me to unpack your mourning garb—which you’re lucky I kept, and then paced my hallways sobbing about the ‘callous nature of the universe’ while blasting grunge music like some sort of 90s Goth Victorian ghost.”
“You’ve made your point,” she scoffed. “I will admit that in the past, you have occasionally been right and occasionally meddled in my life.”
There was nothing quite like the feeling of your children agreeing that, yes, you did, in fact, tell them so. It was a rare occurrence, and Vlad intended to milk it for all it was worth. “Meddle. Present-tense. Don’t forget about the house I advised you to forge a deed for fifty years ago.”
“My house?” Lilith cried. “What do you mean by that? I didn’t need a forgery! The University deeded the land to me after the developer changed course and broke off their deal.”
“The developer was bought out by me. Which, now that I think about it, was a terrible investment because students are awful tenants.”
“B-but…the conference,” Lilith sputtered, “You left because you didn’t care, and right when that asshole was—”
“Harassing you with a series of comments that weren’t actually questions. I know. I watched the live stream from my hotel room. He and I had a long talk.”
“But he’s not dead.”
“No, he’s not,” Vlad didn’t bother to hide his disappointment, “I made promises to Latimer. I am trying to keep them.”
Lilith laughed, “You look so put out. I’m sorry you didn’t get to kill Byrington or whatever his name was. And I’m sorry I was pissed.” She leaned back in her chair and gave him a sheepish look, “Caleb did come to see me. He’s working a case and running down something about the Ultimate Vampire Tome for the Sages. Do you know anything about it?”
“About a book written by a mortal with a hard-on for patriarchy?” Vlad smirked, “Are the Sages seeking advice?”
Lilith’s response was a pleasant smile that he knew he couldn’t trust. “Fine, keep your secrets.”
Translation: I’ll ask you again when I know enough to make your denial impossible. Vlad tucked that problem away to deal with later and changed the subject. “So, are you excited about this semester?”
“No, I’m not teaching. I’ve…I’ve taken a sabbatical.” She was back to swirling her icing again, “I don’t know what I’m doing with this job anymore. I said I would die on this campus in this house, and now I feel like it’s suffocating me.”
Caleb’s ennui hit in the 1840s. For decades he moped, unsure of what to do or how to find some happiness. Back then, Vlad only knew to do what his father did and shove him out the door. Hard. But he’d learned since then. “Come home,” he told his daughter.
“Ew, no. You have a new lover,” she made a face, “Why do you have a new lover?”
“Why is none of your business. I’m not discussing my sex life with you.”
“So it’s just about sex?”
“It is not just about sex. Am I to repeat myself?”
“Of course not, father. What about Ethren?”
“Lilith.” Vlad tilted his head back in exasperation.
“You’re so sensitive,” she groaned and swiped another finger through her icing. The cake had begun to crumble after her repeated ministrations. She pinched off a small piece and popped it into her mouth, seemingly lost in thought.
“Take the cottage in Brindleton Bay,” Vlad said softly, “You like fishing. I’ll come over on the weekends and make you something suitable to eat, and you can discard all my excellent suggestions for your next life.”
“They won’t be excellent. You probably want me to reinvent myself as an art dealer or, occult help me, a musician.”
“See?” Vlad raised a brow, “You’ve already started.”
A smile tugged at her lips, and suddenly she was ten in his mind’s eye. He’d taught her to swordfight, and she was sulking because he bested her, so he took her to see the witches dueling in the Magic Realm. She didn’t hate him yet, and regaining her good favor was as easy as stepping through a portal for an adventure.
Maybe it could be again. Maybe this could be the start of the one century in which their relationship didn’t fall apart.
“I suppose it’s a good idea,” she allowed. “I haven’t been there in decades. And I do like your cooking.”
“It’s settled then,” he agreed, picking up his phone. “Excuse me for a second.” He wasn’t expecting Alice to call from the pub, but when he answered, it wasn’t her on the line:
“Vlad? It’s Sarah. You have to come to the bar now. Alice has been arrested, and they just took her out.”
Penny ran until she fell through the front door, sick and shaking. Ana rushed to her, face a mask of worry and confusion. It was terrible to be looked at with this combination of things she always pretended not to want: concern, affection…relief.
“What are you doing?” she snapped, “I’ve called you a thousand times. It’s a full moon! We had a plan.”
“I know what day it is!” The pain in Penny’s chest doubled her over. When she could finally stand again, she’d found a small slip of indignance to hold onto. “My friend is in trouble,” she sneered, “I can’t worry about the full moon; I have to fix it.”
If she thought the vampire would be bowled over by a show of indifference, she was wrong. Ana was firm. “You can’t fix anything, Penny. You’re covered in sick; you’re a new werewolf; the full moon cares about you. Tomorrow you can—”
“I know I’m shit at being a werewolf! You don’t have to keep telling me!”
Ana’s expression darkened. “What.”
“I’m shit at being a werewolf. I can’t keep this fury under control because I’m not strong enough.” Penny stumbled towards the living room, hating how her voice wheedled. “You won’t even spar with me!”
Ana followed behind her, “You said I was hurting you, and beyond that, training wasn’t helping.”
The reasonableness in her tone made Penny feel insane. It didn’t help that the vampire was staring at her like she’d gone over the deep end. “You stopped sparing with me because I’m weak! I’m trying to get stronger, and I need you to help me, but you won’t!”
“I won’t what?”
“I told you what I needed!”
You’re gaslighting her.
“I needed you to train with me, to help me get stronger and figure this out, and you did nothing!”
You’re gaslighting her. The thought struck Penny again, and she batted it back down, watching with a sick feeling in her stomach as Ana tensely apologized and asked what she needed.
“Can’t you see I’m freaking out? This is all my fault! I thought Bella was a friend, but she’s not. She’s a bitch. And my real friend, the one I care about, is in trouble.”
“Who is Bella?” Ana lifted a brow, “And if she’s such a bitch, why are you risking a full moon for her?”
It was a reasonable observation, one Penny was kicking herself for not having. Why didn’t she see what Bella was?
Because she’s like you. She’s a monster.
Heat tore up Penny’s spine. She dipped her head, pinning Ana with a glare. “What are you feeling?”
“What?” the vampire froze, looking utterly perplexed. “Right now?”
“Yes, now! What are you feeling?” Penny screamed. “What do you feel about me? About anything?”
Ana reached for her, but Penny snarled, knocking the vampire back with a swipe of her claws. Anastasia landed smoothly, hair barely ruffled.
“Enough,” she hissed.
But it wasn’t. Penny’s rage was like an inferno. She barreled forward, tackling Ana and clawing at her throat with wild abandon. The wounds healed quickly, which just made it worse. Nothing stuck because the vampire felt nothing.
And meanwhile, Penny was stuck here feeling everything.
You are a monster.
“You don’t care about me!” she cried, trying to sink her teeth into Ana’s shoulder.
Suddenly, she was airborne
Crashing into the bookcases was not enough to quiet the screaming in her head. Penny jumped up, swiping and snarling, only this time, Ana dodged every blow.
“Stay down,” she warned.
But Penny fought harder. She was gasping for breath by the time the vampire pinned her to the ground with her foot, stiletto perilously close to an internal organ.
“Whatever you are doing right now is over.”
It took Penny a minute to get to her feet. One second she was a raging beast; the next, she felt wrung out. “I don’t understand,” she whispered, her tears flowing so freely they made a mountain of salt in her mouth. “Why is this happening to me? Why am I like this?”
“You’re just new to it,” Ana held out her hand, “Let me walk you to the room before I leave.”
This time, Penny didn’t argue. She let herself be led upstairs and then watched, almost outside of her body, as Ana opened the door. The vampire didn’t mention the decor, though; Penny noticed she’d painted and had new floors installed. When they first sat down to make this plan, she’d been adamant that it not be a sterile room or look like a dungeon.
“Are you alright with doing this alone?”
Now, free of her rage, Penny could smell the puke on her clothes. “Yeah. I don’t want anyone here. It’s too much.” Embarrassment scalded her as she took in Ana’s makeup, jewelry, and gown. “Why are you dressed like that?”
“It’s the Starlight Accolades…I…I’m up for an award.”
“But you didn’t ask me.”
“No,” Ana’s expression was unreadable, “I didn’t. You made your thoughts on the subject clear.”
Penny had made it clear, and not in a kind way. Weeks ago, they had returned to the penthouse after a movie premiere that she insisted they attend separately. Her co-workers had gotten a whiff of her relationship, which was enough reason to pump the breaks. First her editor, now a celebrity?
Ana thought it was a sex thing, and Penny—who found she could only turn her brain off when the vampire had her fangs and fingers inside her—didn’t disagree.
It was all fine until they were lying on the couch, and Ana suggested a different game for another event she assumed they would attend together.
And that’s when panic set in, and Penny did what came naturally to her.
“I don’t want to be a prop at one of your bullshit celebrity events,” she shouted. “You want to use me. You spent all night acting like you didn’t know me, and now you want to talk about us? No. We are nowhere near publicizing our relationship while you’re still so fucked up.”
The apology was on the tip of her tongue, but Penny couldn’t get it out. She watched as Ana armed the room and closed the door, leaving her in this horror show where she was a werewolf, and her girlfriend was a vampire.
You did this.
Penny couldn’t even argue with the voice.
She reached for her phone to call Alice again, but at the sound of her friend’s voicemail, her whole body erupted in heat.
It took Bella less than a minute to settle the patrons and run out after Penny, but by the time she got outside, her friend was gone.
“Friend” was probably the wrong word now. Bella pounded her fists against her head. “Think!” she shouted at herself, “Think!”
But she couldn’t. She felt sick with guilt and panic. She made a terrible guess. A gamble. Because she was shitty. A shitty mom, a shitty wife, and shitty at her job too. “Fuck!” she shouted, doubling over. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”
Screaming didn’t help. It just made her feel more afraid of everything that would be coming down.
I ruined my life.
Cars sped by as if in slow motion, and for one brief moment, Bella considered tossing herself in front of one. The clarity of that thought was enough to jolt her into motion. She dialed Caleb.
He picked up after the first ring, voice calm and grounding. Still, she fought to keep herself on the sidewalk.
“I’m at Dawson’s Bar. I…I need help.”
Caleb’s voice was curt. “Don’t move. I’ll be right there.”
Seconds later, he walked out from an alleyway, a muscle ticking in his jaw when he saw her.
“I fucked up.” She fell over as she sobbed and let him catch her.
“Obviously, I’m not going to ask you to babysit a toddler,” Vlad snapped at his daughter as they landed in front of his house. “You dislike children. I merely need to give the babysitters extra money, and by that time, Latimer will have located a lawyer to whom I will also give money, and then Alice will be free.”
“That is bullshit!” Lilith pointed at him angrily, “You’re pretending to have a plan, but you don’t. Alice has been taken, and you’re out here paying pimply-faced teenagers and calling legal representation instead of storming that prison and dragging her out!”
Vlad closed his eyes and prayed for patience as a headache started. His daughter couldn’t possibly know that he was intimately familiar with storming prisons and having it work out badly. There were some traumas he tried not to revisit on his children. “Lilith, I have a plan. I’ve told you the plan. You can go if you do not wish to be a part of it. In fact, please go because you’re not a part of it.”
“I’m not going while your stupid girlfriend is in trouble.”
He clenched his jaw. “Then stop complaining.”
Lilith glared, but Vlad ignored her. He was hanging onto his own sanity by a thread, and he didn’t want to frighten her or Gwendolyn. The latter because she was just about to turn three, the former because she’d seen the result of him becoming completely unglued, and it broke her.
There’s a monster inside me too, and I promise we will learn to control it together.
He clenched his fists, stuffing his rage and anxiety down until they were a leaden weight in his stomach.
“I’m not going to wait outside,” she announced.
“Well, bully for you,” Vlad growled as he threw open the door.
He felt the wrongness of the creatures inside the house immediately, but Gwendolyn was happy with them, talking baby nonsense and singing songs.
“Monster!” she shouted when he entered the room, “My monster! These my monsters too.”
Calm. Be calm, he told himself. Gwendolyn was the priority. He could always kill these creatures later. Picking her up, Vlad kissed her forehead, “Yes, my little hellion. I do belong to you. Wave hello, this is my daughter.”
The tiny terror waved, and to his surprise, Lilith did too.
“Hello, Gwendolyn; I’m Lilith, and I’m going to stay with you.”
Vlad tried and failed to hide his shock. His daughter smirked at him and continued.
“It’ll be me and you and your monsters while my father picks your mother up from work.”
Gwendolyn was thrilled. “You monster too,” she gasped, “Pretty monster. Like me! Monster so pretty!”
“I am a pretty monster,” Lilith agreed. She kept her voice light as if speaking to the Tiny Terror, but her eyes were on the babysitters. “Sometimes when creatures see me, they say, ‘My, Pretty Monster, what big teeth you have.’ And sometimes, when I reach for them, they say, ‘Oh dear, Pretty Monster, your claws are so sharp.’ And sometimes they make a wrong move because they don’t think I’m watching them, and then they don’t say anything at all.”
ON THE ROAD
Caleb hated driving, but Bella didn’t seem in any shape to get herself out of the city or travel by his preferred methods. He felt bad for running out on Bob with no explanation, but every time he glanced over, he knew it was the right decision.
She had no fight left in her.
“Do you want more water?” he asked, his voice purposefully gentle. He only asked questions he thought she could handle—ones that would give her some agency but ultimately didn’t matter.
“N-no,” she cleared her throat. “I’m okay…you said Salim is a vampire?”
Caleb hesitated, but he thought it was good that she was asking questions. “There’s no record of him before 15 years ago. He lied to you. He didn’t know Eliza when they were kids; he didn’t meet her until he was casing an electronics store with Alice.”
Bella nodded and rubbed her hands on her pants. “Who killed Eliza? You found out, didn’t you?”
“Your shoulders are always tight when you know something but don’t want to say it.”
Caleb sighed, flipping on the turn signal and passing a few slower-moving vehicles. There was no hiding from her, but the sensation wasn’t pleasant.
Probably because it was one-sided.
“Johnny was running his own side job and planning to use the Focus No. 9 potion on Alice,” he explained, referencing the email he sent her after leaving Darrel’s house. “Eliza wrote about it. She was in love with Salim.” He nodded at the console, “Look at the photos on my phone.”
He knew the exact moment Bella found the image of Eliza’s last journey entry. After a sharp intake of breath, she began to read it out loud.
“Johnny gives me a hard time, but he wants to help me. He told me about the potion. I thought it was bad, but he promised it would just make Salim’s real feelings stronger. I know Bob is going to be heartbroken, but this is for the best. He can find someone who wants the life he wants to live,” Bella took a breath and tried to regain her composure. “Salim does love me. I just know it. Johnny always said more magic was better. I want this work, so I got a few extra bottles…”
The silence stretched. “She did it to herself,” Bella finally whispered.
“It was an accident,” Caleb stared out at the road. “A horrible, painful accident. Helped along by Johnny, who had no business giving a sim access to that kind of magic.”
“Does this mean it’s over? Is there anything else I should know? I…I’m going to lose my job,” she turned her bright green eyes on Caleb, but they looked hollow. “It’s probably for the best.”
He didn’t think less of her. Caleb didn’t know a single immortal who hadn’t stood on the precipe of life and death and wondered—himself included. But he also didn’t trust her judgment. Even at her best, Bella made decisions that were driven by an alarming lack of self-awareness. He could see that now, and it would be insane of him to ignore it.
Gazing forward, he kept his shoulders loose. “Yes, everything is solved. It’s over.”
THE GNOMES’ ARMS PUB
“What did the lawyer say?” Vlad asked as he swept into the bar.
Sarah squeaked and pasted on a smile on her face. “Ummm…you know. A few things. We’re making some progress.”
“They ain’t say shit,” Latimer countered, “And we are making no progress.”
The headache Vlad felt earlier had now become a full-on migraine. It began to whisper:
“What. Do. You. Mean.” he bit out.
“Exactly what I said,” his old friend huffed, “You, buddy boy, have run through every legal organization from here to Selvadorada.”
“Impossible,” Vlad snapped, but he wasn’t sure if that was true. “Give me the phone,” he growled, snatching it from Latimer’s hand and redialing the last number.
“They do not want to help us,” the sim hissed, trying to take back the phone, “They already told us that you are a liability.”
“They are lawyers,” Vlad scoffed, “Dealing with liability is what they get paid for.” He paused, pleased to have gotten past the answering service. “This is Vladislaus Straud. I’m calling to hire a lawyer.”
There was a brief silence and then a sigh. “Mr. Straud, as we told your compatriot. Spencer-Kim Law is unable to represent you or your family due to your previous criminal—”
“Criminal?” Vlad cried, “I was sued by my ex-wife. And never formally charged. It was easier to pay off the case.”
“Yes, and the firm spent a large amount mounting a defense against Ms. Faba’s accusations only to be let go before the trial ended.”
“You were lucky you were let go because had you continued, you would have lost, and then I would have been forced to take apart you and everything you love until the embers of my rage finally—” Vlad heard a telltale click. “Hello?” He whirled around to find Latimer smirking.
“Oh yeah, you’re right. I can’t imagine why they won’t help us.”
“Fuck off,” Vlad growled.
“Gladly,” Latimer spat, “Except Alice is in jail, and I don’t intend to leave her there. Meanwhile, you can’t just keep your cool for one llama-forsaken minute, and that’s why we don’t have a law firm!”
“So it’s my fault?” Vlad heard his voice rumbling off the rafters, but for the life of him, he could not calm down.
“I mean to be fair, it’s also the military,” Sarah added, “No one wants to take on a case with so much government red tape and classified documents. Clive Beeden—”
“Do you hear that?” Vlad slammed his fist on the bar, “Clive Beeden is preventing us from getting Alice. Aren’t you fucking thrilled that I left him alive?”
“Obviously, I’m not! But for once in your life, could you decide the answer is not to kill someone?”
“Kill someone?” Michael took a step back, “Are you guys in the mafia or something?”
“Yes!” Latimer shouted, just as Vlad shouted, “No!”
“This is about the Oasis lab, isn’t it?” Vlad pointed at his old friend. “And Betty’s job? You never forgave me. I apologized! I did penance, but it’s not enough. You keep her notes in a box in your room just to punish me every time I vacuum!”
“I keep the notes in my room because she was my fucking wife, and I loved her!”
“I loved her too!”
“Don’t you dare!” Latimer shoved him, “Don’t you dare try to compare your grief to mine, you smug motherfucker!”
“Hey!” Sarah immediately jumped in between them. “Enough. This is about Alice. We don’t care what you do,” she shot Michael a sharp look, “We are a community, and we don’t rat each other out. Now here,” she set two bowls down on the table, “Have something to eat because you’re both stressed out and hangry and you need to think.”
Vlad closed his eyes, willing the screaming in his head to stop. He took a seat and mechanically shoveled the food into his mouth. After he finished choking it all down, he calmly asked Latimer to step outside. And even though minutes ago they’d been at each other’s throats, the sim helped him find a trash can so he could heave it all up.
Shaking with effort, Vlad eased back from the bin. “I’m getting her out.”
“Vladislaus, she can make it a night,” Latimer helped him stand, “I’m sorry I yelled at you. Let’s just think and call some more places in the morning.”
“She can’t stay the night.” Vlad could feel the panic clawing up his throat. “She’s been there for hours, and that’s already too long.”
“I spoke to her. She’s calm. She’s alright; she said she’s been through this before. Please, let’s just—”
I’ll put a fire inside of you.
“I cannot bear it,” Vlad shouted. He trembled as he tried to take a breath. “If I don’t go, Latimer, I will lose my mind. She cannot stay there. Do you understand what I’m saying? Not a day, not an hour, not a second.”
Latimer’s eyebrows rose. The sympathy etched on his face was almost too much to bear. “I know what you’re thinking, but she is not you. A night, Vladislaus. Not 500 years, just a night. Just until we can figure it out.”
Vlad didn’t answer. The grip on the beast inside him already slipping, so he turned and walked away.
“What’s your plan?” Latimer called out angrily. “She don’t need you to be a monster. You can’t kill to solve this!”
But he could.
I’ll put a fire inside you, Miko told him, And your hunger will open doors and lay waste to worlds.
Alice didn’t panic when she was arrested. Panic was for people without toddlers and who hadn’t been to jail before. Panic was for people who could afford to freak the fuck out and not think. That was not Alice. Even her best-paying heist never afforded her that luxury.
Calmly, she asked for her phone call. Alice had learned from experience that it had to be someone who could set everything you needed in motion. They were your catalyst. They needed to update your babysitter, hire a lawyer, and ask your bazillionaire vampire boyfriend to bail you out because that had to be a perk, right?
She called Latimer because even if he wasn’t Vlad’s actual dad, he was pretty close. Plus, he was retired, with full access to the bank accounts, so he had the necessary time and resources to call out the calvary. He was beside himself, but Alice didn’t have time for emotions.
“I’m fine,” she told him. “I’ve been through this before. They’re going to demand that bail be paid in cash, and…do you want to get a pen? You might want to write this down…”
Everything was still calm when she got checked into holding. Fingerprints, photos—her body went through it guided by muscle memory.
“Don’t smile in your booking photo,” Alice whispered to the young woman standing next to her, “It’ll make you look like a psycho, and you’ll never live it down when it comes time to ask for a lesser sentence.”
Later, when they were actually in the cells, Alice held her while she cried. “I swear you’re gonna be okay. This seems really scary, but you’re going to come out the other side.”
“I shouldn’t have worn the striped shirt,” she sobbed, “I thought it would be my signature, but it was so stupid. The owners picked me out of a lineup, and I still had all their stuff in my truck.”
“Always stash your loot in a neutral location. You can come back for it after the heat dies down. And no matter what you see on TV, the only ‘costume’ you need when you’re robbing someone is dark clothing and comfortable shoes.”
Having done her good deed for the night, Alice grabbed a seat in the corner and tried to figure out the identity of the sim murdering everyone in her heist crew. Johnny and Eliza? She didn’t like either of them, but they didn’t deserve to die.
Okay, fine, maybe she did think they deserved it, but she never thought it would happen.
What if it was Salim?
The thought banged around in her head until she was digging her nails into her legs.
What if this is your fault because you’re a fuck-up?
Alice began to shake until she pinched herself. Get your shit together! Your baby-daddy is an asshole, not a murderer!
But he was the only one that made sense. And if that was the case, then Penny was right; Alice did make shit decisions on the regular.
By the grace of some force outside herself, Alice managed to shove her swirling thoughts back down. She had a kid to get home to. Chill Alice remained in control until they announced that her lawyer had arrived and led her into an interrogation room.
There stood Vlad. He was dressed impeccably, somehow managing to look like he hadn’t slept for days, would burn this place to the ground, and yet, had never known worry in his entire life.
“Are you alright?” he rasped, his voice rough like he’d contained everything he was inside a tiny box.
“Totally fine,” Alice replied confidently.
And then she broke into a million little pieces.
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.