“So you want to take a road trip because Penny left you?” Lilith asked as she took a sip from her cup. She was the only one with coffee. When Ana tried to order, her daughter deemed her entirely too antsy.
“No. I want to take a road trip because Penny’s been kidnapped by dangerous bandits who I may or may not have to slaughter with my bare hands.”
“Is this a sex fantasy, or do you actually think something happened to her?”
“Both can be true.”
“No, they can’t,” Lilith rolled her eyes, exasperated. “Mother, you don’t have any proof she was forcibly taken. And no, damage to your apartment doesn’t count. Penny is a baby werewolf. I’m sorry she destroyed your things before breaking up with you, but that makes her a twat, not a victim.”
“You don’t know that!” Ana rubbed her forehead, a nervous gesture she didn’t usually allow herself. Lilith didn’t miss it.
“Are you alright? You’re wearing couture, and you haven’t once asked me if Father met with some sort of unfortunate accident.”
“Hope springs eternal.”
Anastasia dug her nails into her legs. She wasn’t ready to talk about the effect of Vladislaus’s visit. It just reminded her of how upside-down everything was. She’d actually enjoyed his company, and it made her miss their friendship. Or perhaps more accurately, it reminded Ana that she didn’t have friends. “I’m fine,” she muttered.
“You are not,” Lilith hissed. “I’m going to tell you what no one else will since you’re so clearly being coddled. You are a mess. And you don’t know how to recover because you fall hard for anyone who shows you affection and is likely to break your heart. I’d tell you and Father to start a club, but you already had one. It was called your marriage, and it failed because both of you are self-centered and off your rockers. Why you brought two unsuspecting children into it, I’ll never know. And—” she broke off, finally noticing Ana’s expression.
“No, please, continue.”
Lilith faltered. “I didn’t mean it.”
“Of course you did. You always do. And despite my ill-advised decision to have a cup of coffee with my unsuspecting child, I will forgive you for it.”
They walked back to Lilith’s house in silence.
“I said I didn’t mean it,” she said again when they reached the front door. “I’m just…I’m tired of dealing with your drama and you bringing all of your bullshit to my front door! What daughter wants constant unannounced visits and nagging from her mother and all because she can’t stop slumming it with disinterested snatch?”
Lilith thought her dangerous magic made her monster, and cruelty was how she’d decided to live up to the title. But Anastasia had endured cruelty, and the same thing was true now as had been 950 years ago when she shoved a pocketwatch down that old nun’s throat: she didn’t take anyone’s shit.
“W-why are you looking at me like that?” Lilith gulped.
“No reason. Cheer up, daughter-mine. Perhaps one of these days, you’ll be so lucky as to have someone disinterested in you too.”
Ana waved Luna down from market stalls in the San Myshuno Fashion District.
“I’m sorry I’m late!” The sim bit her lip, “Traffic was awful. It’s hard to get across the city; I don’t know how you do it.”
“Yes.” Ana turned on her heel, “The last time I drove, some man called me a bitch, and I snapped his neck, so I figured flying is safer for all parties.”
Luna squeaked and rushed to catch up, “W-what are we doing out here? Not snapping anyone’s neck, right?”
“Unfortunately, you are correct.” Breaking someone’s neck would put her in a better mood. She told Vladislaus he was being dramatic when he put Lilith out, but he was right; their daughter was in rare form. “We are out being photographed like the occult-forsaken studio wants.”
Ana struck a pose, delighted when a sim pulled out a cell phone and snapped a picture. Hopefully, the happy little idiot uploaded it to Sims Tok or Simsbook, or whatever the hell everyone was using.
“We’re being photographed In your ex-girlfriend’s neighborhood. Eep! I mean, um, girlfriend’s neighborhood?”
Her assistant looked pained, and Ana took pity on her. Sliding off her sunglasses, she blew out a breath. “Is it that obvious?”
“Uh yeah,” Luna smoothed her skirt, “You went to the awards alone, you’ve been spending your free time with me, and I had to process the invoice for all the broken glass and furniture.”
“It’s not anything to be ashamed of. When Sergio—er, my ex—broke up with me, I wrapped myself in blankets and didn’t leave my bedroom for a week.”
“Why?” What had this Sergio done to make her hide?
“I was clinging to him too hard. And then he—” she looked up, panic in her eyes, “Please don’t kill him. It was my fault!”
“I would never,” Ana lied, “I don’t believe in over-involving myself in other creatures’ lives.”
“Great,” Luna let out a sigh of relief. “I mean, you are really busy…well, except for now…but that’s only because you exhausted all your other options.”
“Option,” Ana admitted. “I have one. The others don’t talk to me. Or they’re dead. Or I tried to kill them.”
“Oh, uh, that’s…uh….” Luna cast about for the right word, “Hard. If it makes you feel better, I finished packing up your old condo. I shipped that auction dress back to the Goths in Brindleton Bay. I even charged them for the shipping.”
“Why, Luna Villareal, I didn’t know you had such a mean streak.”
The sim shrugged, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that. Or my friend’s enemies are my enemies”—she winced— “Not that we’re friends! I know you’re my boss!”
Her assistant was onto something. Friendship was a bond, but mutual hate was a bond too.
“Luna,” she said, turning to sign an autograph for the one sim still standing, “Pack your bags. And make sure you have a passport.”