Before we start, you should just know that I’m full of it. It began as sadness, shock, and horror and then morphed into something sharper. Keener. More fury-like.
I am trying, best as I can, to channel that rage into something useful. I’ve decided the first step of that is a donation plan. I’ve always supported women’s health organizations, but now I aim to choose a few key places to make monthly donations so that my support is regular and ongoing.
Over the next few weeks, as I research places and form my plan, I’ll share links in case you’d like to donate too. I’ll likely share other things as I think about them, but for now that is where we will start.
If you read this blog and you’re not full of rage (how did you get here?), just know that I support abortion access and bodily autonomy unequivocally. No debate. Cannot be swayed. Cannot be tested.
And now I return you to your regularly scheduled Simlit reading.
CW: Strong language, adult situations, violence, gore, and Penny Pizzazz in a bustier.
San Myshuno, Fashion District
“What the fuck are you doing here?” Penny growled as soon as she opened the door.
“Taking you to dinner.”
“Lunch, then,” Anastasia rolled her eyes. “You’re grouchy, and you need to eat. Put on something glamorous and come enjoy an expensive steak.”
“The magazine won’t spring for steak,” Penny argued, a sharp breath slipping out when Anastasia pressed her back against the door.
“Then it’s a good thing that this is a date, and they don’t have to pay for it.” She inhaled deeply. If Penny smelled this good, what would she taste like?
“W-what about Jimena?”
“Who?” Anastasia focused on the small dip in Penny’s bottom lip. She wanted to run her tongue over it, tug at it with her teeth. She’d had plenty of lovers over the centuries—queens, actresses, and at least one Sage. But there was something about Penny that—
“Jimena. Your fucking girlfriend!”
Oh. Anastasia peeked up warily from her spot on the floor. Honestly, she’d forgotten the yoga instructor even existed.
“How did I…what did I…do?” Penny stared down at her hands in horror.
Truthfully? Snap three of Anastasia’s ribs, which given her earlier activities, was downright irritating. Mending bones was such an occult-forsaken ordeal. “I realize you’re pissed, but an almost-werew—”
Penny let out a panicked breath.
—Wolf. The rest of the word sat lodged in Anastasia’s throat. Hauling herself up and ignoring the blatant agony as the bones began to knit back together, she turned and winked. “Clumsy, clumsy me. Have it your way, then. Lunch as friends. Now, will I be forced to wait in your hallway again? You can’t let me in, you know; I don’t bite.”
Elmyra’s Boxing Gym
“What in the heck is going on?”
Bella’s demand knocked Caleb out of his stupor. He spotted the acolytes powering up from out of the corner of his eye. “No!”
“Step aside, young Vatore,” they intoned simultaneously, “The rules are as written. No mortal who has witnessed—”
“No!” he shouted again. He couldn’t let them wipe Bella’s mind. Her life would be undone. Like a walking nightmare where she had no idea how she’d gotten here or who anyone was. “She already knows about us,” he pleaded.
The sisters continued casting as if he hadn’t spoken. “Step aside, Caleb. The rules are—”
“She’s family,” Caleb insisted, seizing on a loophole. He positioned himself so that he was standing in front of her. “Bella is the mortal family member of a supernatural unit, and we are working on this investigation together.”
“Caleb,” Akira’s voice was a warning.
One that Caleb didn’t heed. “Stand down, sisters.”
They pulled back their power, but Caleb didn’t relax his posture for even a second. He was under no illusions about how quickly they could swipe him aside. He might land on his feet, whip around, and tear out their throats while they were distracted, but that would be winning the battle and losing the war.
Eyes glowing, Bobbie fixed him with a look. “Careful young Vatore; your family is growing ever larger by the minute.”
And with that, the sisters were gone.
Sulis’s Fine Dining
Anastasia stared openly at her lunch mate. Was this woman trying to kill her? Honestly, wearing a lace bustier and doing that—
—with a fork.
Holy Mother of Occult.
“Would it be weird if I ordered another steak for dessert?” Penny licked her fingers.
“Not at all.” The sooner she informed Miss Pizzazz of her new supernatural status, the sooner they could stop with this charade, strip down, and have fun. “Let’s talk about your steak obsession and its relationship to your werewolf problem.”
“What werewolf problem? I was attacked, and I survived. I’m freaked out, but that’s just me being weak.”
“Yeah, Pizzazzes don’t spend their time whining and crying over every little thing. They get shit done. They pull themselves up by their bootstraps, because successful sims don’t…don’t…” she grimaced. “Nevermind. Enough about werewolves. You invited me to lunch so let’s talk about you. What do you eat?”
“And what else?”
You if you’d let me. “Stop trying to change the subject,” Anastasia tutted. “You think having emotional difficulties is a weakness?” If Penny truly believed that, she was in for a rude awakening about the side effects of supernatural lifespans. “Who told you that? Your idiotic parents?”
“Okay, whoa, relax. I can rag on my family, but you don’t know them.” She waved a fork, “And don’t try to act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. You showed up at my door because a story about you losing your shit affected your image.”
“But I don’t actually believe I have some sort of weakness,” Anastasia countered. On the contrary, the ghost had been so intimated by her that it fled, and she had literally just killed a werewolf this morning. Weakness? Please. “And we’re not talking about me; we’re talking about you and your werewolf issue.”
Penny pinched the bridge of her nose. “You are relentless.”
“Thank you. Now when you were bitten by your werewolf—“
“Attacked,” she corrected. “I wasn’t bitten. And what do you care?”—she narrowed her eyes—“You must think I sound crazy. I think I sound crazy. Why do you believe me?”
“Because I’m a…a” Anastasia opened her mouth to finish her sentence, but nothing came out.
Elmyra’s Boxing Gym
Her brain had a hard time kicking into gear.
“Do you think you can keep it together?” Caleb asked.
She said yes because…what else did you say?
“Wow, we’re 0 for 3!” Taryn joked, scanning the scene.
Bella looked up; she didn’t even remember calling for backup. “I…what?”
“0 for 3, as in, three bodies in the span of two months with no answers. What’s wrong with you?”
The plasma was still leaking from Nina’s chest. Bella dug her nails into her palms to keep from screaming. “This is my fault.”
“Excuse me?” Taryn’s eyebrows drew together. “What are you talking about?”
“Bella just means she wishes she had gotten here sooner,” Caleb slid in between them, “It’s clear she and Deacon just missed the culprit.”
“Uh-huh. And who are you? And why are you trouncing around my crime scene?”
“Caleb Vatore, Glimmerbrook County. Bella and I are working a case together.” He flashed the M.E. a wolfish smile, “And I don’t trounce, I rather like think I glide. Miss…” he bent down to read her name tag, “Wolfhart.”
That was all it took; Taryn was charmed. She blushed before spouting off a few half-hearted reminders about not contaminating the crime scene.
Meanwhile, Bella couldn’t take her eyes off the plasma. “They tore out her heart.” She tasted bile as her lunch threatened to come back up.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Taryn sighed. “Looks like we’re in for a Slaughter Summer repeat.”
That combination of words had Bella swaying on her feet. Caleb caught her by the shoulders. “What’s Slaughter Summer?”
“1977, some sim went mad and left a trail of bodies from Granite Falls to Oasis Springs. Gruesome ordeal. Body parts missing, poor sims laying in a pool of plasma. Never did solve it.”
“They had a few suspects,” Deacon explained, “But like, nothing panned out. Bella was working on it for a while. Some cold case shi—” he flushed. “I mean, uh, stuff, not shit. I try not to cuss at crime scenes. It’s rude to the bodies, you know?”
Bella couldn’t even muster up the wherewithal to explain Deacon’s weirdness. With an aggravated eye roll, Taryn excused herself.
“Anyways,” Deacon continued, “Baako Jang is ready for us to take his statement and Bella, he says you owe him like 400 simoleons.”
“500,” Baako corrected, “And before you freak out. I called both of y’all because I wanted the money and, uh, no offense, but a mortal cop wasn’t gonna be able to handle what swept through my door.”
“And what was that?” Caleb asked.
Bella was barely listening, her eyes still fixed on Nina’s prone body and the crime scene tech bent over it.
“Some vampire in a yellow dress.”
Del Sol Valley, Anastasia’s Condo
Penny might write stories about crackpots and weirdos, but she was a professional journalist. Why Anastasia Barrister thought she could keep a secret from her was ludicrous.
Almost as ludicrous as what you’re doing now? her conscience asked. Penny ignored it. “Just here to pick up the laundry,” she told the girl at the front desk. She angled her face away from the camera. Given what she was about to do, it was best to remain as invisible as possible. “I have a receipt if—”
“Yeah, I don’t care.” The front desk attendant waved her on.
Holy hell, Anastasia needed better security.
As soon as Penny got upstairs, she dialed Alice. “How do you pick a lock?”
“A lock,” Penny was impatient, “I need to break into someone’s apartment.”
“Is it Salim’s?” Alice laughed, “If you find money can I have it? Turns out the police don’t let you keep your storage vault of stolen art. Also, do you want to team up with me and dismember him?”
Now Penny balked. “What?”
“Nevermind, it was a joke that Vlad made, and…uh…you had to be there. So you’re doing what now? Breaking into an apartment? Whose? Why? Oh, and ignore that buzzsaw sound; Gwendolyn is snoring.”
Penny tilted her head back, “No, it’s fine. Let me just answer all of your questions. Time isn’t of the essence or anything.”
“A woman I am friends with. Sort of.”
“She’s keeping secrets!” Penny cried. It came out louder and more desperate than she intended. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath. “I know what you’re going to say, but I’ve had a lot of shit go down the past few weeks. I did something really dumb and now I’m…” Penny paused, her throat going tight.
“I’m a freak,” she whispered. “I know it. I’m a total fuck up and I’m doing something crazy because…I don’t know why! Because I’m a freak!”
“You’re not,” Alice insisted. “You’re just you. And honestly, who am I to warn somebody off a little B&E? Just promise you’ll be my alibi when I bump off Salim for refusing to help get my fucking fridge fixed.”
She was laughing, but Penny wasn’t. Penny had hated Salim since Alice brought him back to their dorm room in college. Her friend was horny for the danger, but Penny always felt like Salim was only dangerous because he was selfish. Alice was shocked that he cheated on her with Eliza, but the truth was, Salim had been boning other women since freshman year. It was an open secret, or at least open to everyone but Alice. Penny was so sure she’d drop him before they graduated that she didn’t have the heart to tell her. But then graduation came and went, and now it had been over ten years, and they had a daughter.
Guilt scoured her. “What did he do?” the words came out in a growl that Penny barely recognized.
“It doesn’t matter. I’ll sing whatever tune I need to get the money.”
“And what if he doesn’t just want you to sing over the phone? What if he wants it live and in color? His own personal fucked up concert!”
“Then fine,” Alice’s tone was purposefully nonchalant. “I can take it. I mean, clearly, we already had sex, so it’s not like it’ll cost me anything.”
It would cost her everything, all the pride she’d built over the past two years of being away from him.
Penny didn’t remember if she hung up the phone or dropped it. She saw red, and not just metaphorically. Her hands clawed at the doorknob, tearing it clean off and when she looked down at the floor, there was nothing but twisted metal.
A small, distant part of herself was scared. “I’m fine,” she said calmly. So calmly that her eyes felt hot.
It was a strange sensation, the haze of red heat that painted the entire hallway. Penny’s heart banged against her chest like it was trying to get out. She could hear, feel, smell…everything. “I’m fine,” she repeated. And then there were no thoughts left in her head at all.
Britechester University, Lilith’s House
Anastasia Barrister had never met a rule she was interested in following. So when Lilith slammed the door in her mother’s face and turned to find her standing by the fireplace, holding a glass of Lilith’s plasma-infused nectar, she was not surprised.
“Why are you like this?”
“Like what?” her mother took a sip, “Determined?”
Anastasia seemed unfazed. “That’s the second time today I’m receiving that compliment.”
“It’s not a compliment.” Lilith stepped in front of the entrance to the living room in hopes of blocking her mother’s view, but it was too late; Anastasia zeroed in on the boxes.
“Are you moving?”
“What?” Lilith coughed, “No, why would you think that?”
“The boxes. They’re not invisible, Lily-bear. I thought you loved this house. I bought you an espresso machine for it.”
“Father bought me an espresso machine. You mailed me a blank check that the bank couldn’t verify.”
Her mother lifted a shoulder, “It’s not my fault they don’t believe you know a famous actress. And stop changing the subject; you insisted on dying in this house; why would you suddenly move out?”
Lilith’s exact words were that she would “go to ground in this house and let its roots grow through her heart,” but it didn’t matter. Britechester University owned it, and now after 140 years, they were keen to sell it out from under her or whatever generation of Vatore she was pretending to be.
“Honestly, mother, I was having a lovely day until you flew through my window. What the fuck do you want? And is it possible for you to get it without me having to talk to you?”
“You don’t talk to me.”
“Fine. How do you quickly generate enough intimacy with someone that you can reveal information that will upend their entire life and not have them hate you for it?”
The house was a mess—trash and antiques piled on top of each other, paintings of sims in historic clothes with monstrous visages. Before, she would have thought they were some kind of joke, but now?
She knew better.
“I thought you were like 27.” A hysterical giggle threatened to bubble up, but Bella swallowed it.
“I am 27.” When she didn’t stop staring, Caleb sighed. “And I’ve been 27 for the last 300 years, give or take.”
She glanced at the terrifying portrait of him. “And that’s you? You’re like….” Bella’s brain snagged on the number, “Why did you even say 27?”
“Vampires often think of themselves as the age they were when they were turned,” he explained. “It’s easier.”
“You don’t just…count your birthdays?”
His long-suffering expression made her feel far younger than her 42 years. “Not with accuracy.”
She waited for him to elaborate. He didn’t. Instead, he tracked her every movement, a look in his eyes that she couldn’t quite name.
Hunger, her brain supplied helpfully.
Bella drew in a sharp breath. She should have brought Deacon, but someone had to secure the scene, and she was in no shape to deal with their colleagues.
And what was up with this room? It felt so small.
“Bella?” Caleb’s tone was worried. “You’re having a panic attack.”
“I’m not—” Bella sucked in a breath. And then another. And another. “I’m not freaking out. I’m just…it’s a lot to process.” Why was it so hot in here? “I mean, there are witches and werewolves and vampires, and llamas knows what else!” She paused, staring at the picture across from the piano. “Why is there an old-timey photograph of Anastasia Barrister on your wall?”
Caleb winced. “She’s my mother.”
“Oh,” Bella said softly. “That makes sense.”
Britechester University, Lilith’s House
Before tonight, Lilith wasn’t talking to her mother, though damned if she could remember why. It was the curse of vampiric life. There was always a feud or a resentment. It wasn’t possible to live so long and not strip each other down to the bones.
“Alright,” Lilith began, swaying a bit from all the nectar they’d consumed, “Who is this woman you’re caught up with?”
“I notice you didn’t assume it was a Jimena.”
“Please,” Lilith snorted. “You don’t even like Jimena.”
“True,” her mother sighed. “And I don’t even know when it happened. One moment I was infatuated and doing hot yoga three times a week just to see her, and the next, I was dreaming of all the ways I could drain every pint of her plasma and not end up in the middle of an exhausting criminal investigation.”
Lilith shook her head. “I’m proud of you for not dining on your girlfriend just because you’re bored. What about your latest infatuation brought you uninvited to my door?”
“Infatuation is the wrong word. Penny is…she’s…I don’t know,” Anastasia ran a hand through her hair, “It’s like I want to devour her, but also keep her.”
Lilith stopped mid-pour, nearly overfilling the glass. Her mother didn’t love things, she wasn’t even sure Anastasia knew what love was. But possession? That was akin to affection for the Straud matriarch.
“I started to inform her of her new status as a werewolf, and the words died in my throat.”
Lilith finally recovered. “That’s not a bad thing. How did she react when you told her you’re a vampire?”
“What?” Anastasia shrugged, “It hasn’t come up in conversation.”
“How are you going to earn her trust if you’re not honest with her? Do you even know what intimacy is?”
“Of course I do! It’s…it’s….” Anastasia frowned, “It has to do with sex?”
Lilith groaned. “You need to earn that trust by actually being vulnerable and not making everything about your whims and impulses.”
“I don’t make everything about me!”
“Really?” Lilith gave her mother a look.
“You are impossible!” she exclaimed. “Alright, I get it. Be less selfish; talk about my feelings,” she waved a hand, “Ugh, I thought I escaped emotional nattering when I divorced Vladislaus.”
“You didn’t do emotional nattering,” Lilith corrected. “You yelled at each other, and when that didn’t work, you stabbed one another.”
Her mother leaned back, a faraway look in her eyes. “Yes, I’m not fond of male appendages as a rule, but Vladislaus was such a romantic I couldn’t help myself. Do you know one time he cut my throat with one hand chained to a wall? It was incredibly arousing, and I—”
“Mother, if you finish that sentence, so help me, I will conjure a spell that will leave you shaking in terror and banished from this house.” It wasn’t an idle threat. Lilith was a witch turned vampire, and the power swimming inside her was keening to get out.
“You never talk to me about your magic.”
No, she didn’t. Those conversations were for Morgyn and her father. Morgyn for the magic part, Vladislaus for the “gnawing hunger to create chaos and burn things to the ground” part. “This woman you like is going to need help. You need to learn about what’s happening to her if you’re going to support her through it.”
“So be less selfish, tell her what I am, talk about her feelings, be vulnerable, find out how to help her. And then just…be there?”
Her mother looked bereft. “That’s so many things.”
To her credit, Bella held still while he tended her injuries. He had to clamp down on the urge to apologize for the state of the place. It wasn’t his fault Straud Manor looked like this.
“I don’t usually do that,” Bella said, “Faint.”
Caleb dabbed at the cut on her cheek with a q-tip. “Under the circumstances, I think fainting is fine. You were in shock.”
She snorted and then winced. “Yeah, I think I’ve been in shock for a while. I mean, I fought a werewolf and it didn’t even phase me. I was so busy being smug about it: I’m such a great detective I won’t be distracted by anything. The thought didn’t even occur to me that it was strange I didn’t feel anything.”
Caleb had buried a lot of things in his long life—literally and figuratively—so he could relate. He gestured for her to turn her head.
A tear slipped out, and she dashed it away with her hand. “I’m sorry. I’m not like this, I swear.”
“You’re not acting ridiculous,” he told her, “You’ve just been informed that the world as you knew it doesn’t exist and that you’ve got to reorder your sense of how things work. That is a lot to process.”
She gave him a watery smile, “Right. True. So excuse me while I just have a complete mental breakdown. Maybe I should try child’s pose.” At his quizzical look, she explained. “My partner, Deacon, is big into yoga. He’s always telling me I need to do it more.”
He wondered if Bella knew about her partner. Probably best to leave that alone for now. Picking up the disinfectant, he examined the cuts on her shoulder. Tiny shards of glass glittered, testifying to the force with which she fell into the mirror. It was going to be painful to remove them. He picked up the tweezers, deciding to elaborate on her question from earlier to keep her distracted.
“My father says he is a thousand years old, and my uncle William, his elder by a mere five years. One afternoon, they were reminiscing about a battle that took place 150 years before they were born.”
“Wow,” Bella looked mesmerized.
Her attention focused, he continued picking out the shards. “I was young, maybe 75 or 80, and I didn’t understand how it was possible. I kept trying to pin them down, taking them through century by century to do the math. They failed, and worse yet, they laughed about it.”
She didn’t even flinch as he used tweezers to extract the final piece. “What happened? Did you figure it out?”
Caleb gave her a knowing smile. “I did.”
“One day, I opened my mailbox to find a card from my Uncle William.”
“He told you his real age?”
“No, it was a birthday card for me. I had no idea I’d turned 250. I couldn’t even remember when I stopped celebrating.” He applied some salve, “Memory, Bella, is a mess of a thing. And vampires have a lot of memories.”
She swallowed and then glanced at her shoulder, almost surprised to find it patched. “Thank you. This must’ve been difficult with me bleeding all over the place.”
Caleb busied himself with putting away the medical supplies. Her cuts would heal, and the witch hazel salve he used would see that she was left with no scars. “Young vampires are prone to plasma-lust. I’m not that young.”
“Oh, so vampires get older and wiser?” she joked.
“To a point.”
She waggled her eyebrows dramatically, “What are old vampires if not ravenous plasma-sucking demons?“
Your father has come completely unglued. Get your sister and get out of this house. Now.
Caleb didn’t look at her when he spoke. “An old vampire would slice you open from throat to belly, drain you in a bathtub, and tell their friends to come over with a bottle of Yorkfield Classic.”
NEXT TIME, ON THE STRAUDS:
Trailer: “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj
Poses & Animations
Ultimate Couple Pose Pack by Joanne Bernice
Truck Talks by StarrieSimsie
Emotions 2 by Bommie Sims
Emotions 1 by Bommie Sims
Female Bed Pose 1 by Cassandra Grusel
Female Bed Pose 5 by Cassandra Grusel
Pose Request #151 by Sciophobis
Silent Running by Quiddity-Jones
Aristocrat II Dishonored by Moriel
Morgue by Ladymess1
The Abandoned Drive-In by SimDoughnut (I was desperate not to build this myself and typed this into the gallery, and low and behold, PERFECTION)