CW: Strong language, adult situations, violence, gore, sexual situations, characters experiencing grief.
ATTENTION! ATTENTION! Now that the Werewolves Game Pack is here, ALL BETS ARE OFF. EVERYBODY GONNA BE WEREWOLVES!
Jk, jk. But the werewolves I have in the story will look different from here on out, so just bear with me and pretend not to notice. Ditto for things like claw marks, scars, bites, and lore. I’m slowly trying to work it all in. Hopefully, it ends up being seamless.
In other news, I’m shoring up my donation list, and I’ll probably drop a link in one of next month’s posts because I’d love to add to the list if anyone has suggestions <3
And now, back to your regularly scheduled Simlit.
Nina’s Rental, Newcrest
Bella and Caleb were only temporary partners, their rhythm brand new. And yet, when they shared a look in the living room of Nina Caliente’s rental, the message was crystal clear:
The Calientes are grieving. Handle with care.
Bella suggested questioning them while they were cleaning out Nina’s house. The San Myshuno Police Department filmed all their interrogations, and Caleb made it clear that taking the Calientes to the Magic Realm for questioning was…well…out of the question.
That was another insane thing she’d recently learned. Vampires, witches, werewolves, and fae were among the dominant supernatural species (other creature-types were long extinct, or had such small numbers that they remained mostly hidden) and they had some sort of central ruling unit in a magical dimension. It was a wonder she was managing to keep her expression clear while Katrina was yelling at her.
“I don’t know who would want to kill Nina!” Katrina shouted, “You tell me! Aren’t you the fucking cops? Ain’t that your job?”
“Ma,” Dina said softly, her tone admonishing. “They are trying to help. Calm down. Why don’t you take another alleviation pill?”
“What’s that?” Bella asked.
“Smooths out her mood,” Dina replied, setting down a small bottle and pouring her mother a glass of orange juice. She pulled out a chair at the kitchen table and motioned for them all to join her.
Katrina argued, but when she swallowed the medication, her eyes went dull, and she slumped down in her chair. “My baby girl. My fuckin’ kid. I miss her every day, and I don’t think I can stand it.”
“I know,” Bella placed a hand over her heart. She didn’t have to pretend to feel compassion. She’d be out of her mind if something happened to Cassandra. “You can stand it. Because getting answers is the thing you can do for her now.”
“You aren’t werewolves,” Caleb began. “So how did Nina become one? And why didn’t she ever hook up with one of the local packs?”
“Local packs,” Dina scoffed, “You think becoming a supernatural comes with some sort of welcome guide? You guys keep your secrets good. So good that you forget more are joining your ranks every day, and you ain’t got no method for making sure they’re alright because how could you do that and still hide?”
Bella was prepared to defend Caleb, but he put a quelling hand on her arm. “You’re right. Nina was left on her own, and it put her in danger. We’ve never considered dealing with mortals who become supernaturals, save for making space for them should they find their way into our ranks. I can’t promise anything will change, but I will talk to the Sages.”
Katrina sighed. “I guess that’s the best we can hope for. It all started about a year or so ago. Nina was pumped about a first date.”
Sims InTouch Magazine Office, Downtown San Myshuno
Anastasia picked a piece of lint off her jeans. This was the most casual she had ever dressed, down to the baseball cap and sunglasses. It was all to keep the paparazzi at bay because she didn’t need an audience.
Fine. She always needed an audience, but Penny didn’t.
“Psst!” she hissed, frantically waving as the sim walked out of the building, “Hey! Over here!”
Penny paused and tracked back. “I know I keep saying this, but what the fuck are you doing here?”
“Shhh!” Anastasia grabbed her and pulled her around the corner of the building. “Do you want paparazzi here?”
Penny shuddered. “No.”
“Then keep your voice down. We’re going to the movies.”
Anastasia struck a pose. “Because I’m trying to date you.”
“Aren’t you with Jimena?”
Anastasia was proud of herself for a) remembering Jimena’s name and b) having had the foresight to break up with her. “Long over. I’m staying in a hotel while she cleans out the condo. So about that date?”
“You haven’t been back to your condo?”
“And risk running into her? No.”
Penny looked relieved. “You really are relentless.”
“Yes,” Anastasia narrowed her eyes, “And I’ve recently learned that’s not a compliment.”
Nina’s Rental, Newcrest
He was under no illusions that he put the Calientes at ease; that was all Bella. As he watched her empathize with Katrina, he realized how little he knew about her.
“What did she tell you about this date?” Bella asked.
“If she told you about it,” Caleb added, surprised when Bella chuckled.
“I think Nina was well past her teenage secrecy phase, right?”
“Oh, you’ve got that right,” Katrina cracked a small smile, “When she was 16, she didn’t tell me shit. But at 25? Non-stop gossip and always asking to borrow my clothing.” The sim dipped her head, “I look a hot mess now, but my taste is impeccable.”
Dina laughed, “She’s not joking! We borrow clothes from ma all the time. No one can rummage through a thrift store sales table like our mother!”
Any suspicion Caleb had disappeared with this conversation. The Calientes knew Nina was gone, yet they still couldn’t bring themselves to talk about her in the past tense.
Katrina picked at her sleeve and cleared her throat. “She said his name was Tommy, but that was just an alias he used because he was famous. Nina swore he was gonna shower her with gifts and use all his money to take her away.”
-ONE YEAR AGO…
Caliente House, Oasis Springs
“Nina!” Katrina kicked the pile of clothes in the hallway, “Nina, if you want to keep living in this household without paying rent, I’m gonna need you to do the frickin’ laundry!”
“Ma, please, can’t Dina do it? I’m trying to get ready for my date?”
“You can do it,” Katrina warned, “Or you can get out of my house!”
Nina turned and stomped into her room. Katrina headed for her bedroom and slammed the door, too. It was always like this with Caliente women—they loved a dramatic exit.
“Damn it!” she massaged her temples. The laundry was easy enough to put away, but she was exhausted. Already Katrina worked two jobs just to make the mortgage. Dina and Nina were supposed to be saving their money for an apartment. It was long past time for them to get out of the house, but Katrina found she didn’t have the heart to throw them out even though she threatened.
Her own mother had done that to her far too early.
With a sigh, she grabbed a lint roller from her dresser and walked to Nina’s room. She gently tapped on the door before pushing it open. Her daughter scowled, but Katrina ignored it, running the lint roller over the silk blouse. “I found that half-off at Donald’s, so if you spill something, I’ll kick your little butt.”
Nina cackled, pretending to be annoyed by the fussing, “Ma! I’m not a toddler. I can handle a dinner plate without spilling it all over myself.”
“I got a cashmere sweater that says otherwise,” Katrina joked. She finished brushing the shirt, “What’s up, buttercup? Tell me about this guy.”
Nina’s face lit up. “He is smoking hot. A little weird, but all celebrities are weird, right?”
“Anyways, he is working on something big, that’s why I can’t tell you his real name. But he is taking me to dinner, and he rented out the whole skating rink. Like, can you believe that?”
“Okay, baby, but you’re gonna be careful, right?” Katrina had seen crushed dreams after dates. She’d seen worse. A broken heart she could mend, but she didn’t want either of her daughters in danger. “Just text us when you get there, and let us know you’re alright.”
She resisted the urge to ask for an update every hour. Nina was more than old enough to go out without reporting back to her mom.
“You worry too much, ma. I’m gonna be rich, then I’ll pay off this mortgage, and we can live in a beach house in Sulani.”
The Atomic Drive-in, Del Sol Valley
The old drive-in was abandoned. Most of the sims who remembered it at its height were dead or pushing a walker, but Anastasia didn’t forget.
She swept a hand out. “This is where I used to go to watch my movies.”
Penny laughed. “You mean to watch movies? And when? This place looks like it hasn’t been touched in like 30 years.”
“Forty-five years,” Anastasia busied herself with the old equipment. “This one closed in 1977. Sims say it was because of Slaughter Summer, but this place was already declining. Who needs drive-ins when you’ve got discos, malls, and soaring gas prices?”
Penny kicked the tire on an old truck. “Yeah, but a bunch of sims getting murdered every time they went out to party probably didn’t help. So you broke in?”
The receiver was stuck and required careful adjustment to get it running. Anastasia wound it gently with a screwdriver until it finally clicked, and the projector whirred to life. “I didn’t break-in.”
She dragged out a box of old reels. Blowing off the dust, she loaded them. “I didn’t have to. It was fifty cents to see a movie, and for me, it was free because I was coming to see my movies.”
Penny’s protest was cut off by the film reel starting. It was Crazy Beach Party. Right after the title, the unmistakable image of Anastasia running from a blob monster in a bikini showed up on the screen. Oh, she looked a little different. Blonde, more eyeliner than necessary, but you could tell.
“The set was freezing because the studio cut the director’s travel budget. I went by Cadence Top, an homage to a 1920s actress who everyone said I looked like, which I did because I was her.”
Penny turned, eyes wide as dinner plates, “You….you’re….”
“950 years old, but don’t look a day over 30.”
Penny swayed on her feet, but Anastasia caught her. “That was a joke. It was supposed to make you relax and laugh.”
“Relax and…you’re a…a….”
“Vampire,” Anastasia finished. She licked her lips and slowly flashed her fangs. “Or as they said in the old movies: Blah! Blah! I vant to suck your plasma!”
Nina’s Rental, Newcrest
Caleb handed Katrina a tissue, noting how her hands shook when she took it.
“When Nina came home, she was a mess—all beaten up and no memory of what happened to her. A couple of weeks later, she was up in her bedroom when she turned. Nearly tore her sister and me apart.”
Bella nodded sympathetically, “I’m sorry, you must’ve been terrified. Did she have strange symptoms?”
Symptoms. Like being supernatural was a disease.
“Did she act strangely to you?” Caleb added, “Werewolf transitions are hard. Their adrenaline rages; they need loads more calories; they don’t know their own strength….”
“She was pissed all the time,” Dina said. “Her temper was on a hair-trigger. She would lose it over the smallest things until finally, ma said she had to get the aggression under control or get out.”
Dina wiped a tear. “I didn’t mean it. I wouldn’t have put her out. It’s just what I say when I want them to really listen to me. Nina went through something; she could have stayed as long as she wanted. This other house was her idea. She was scared she’d hurt us.”
It was clear that they were exhausted, starting to wilt under the weight of questions and grief.
“Okay, we’ll get out of your hair for now,” Bella said, “But if you think of anything or remember something about this Tommy, you call us.”
They were just at the door when Dina piped up. “She called him her Real Number One.”
Bella whirled around, “What did you say?”
“The Real Number One. That’s what she called him. Does that mean anything?”
The Atomic Drive-in, Del Sol Valley
Anastasia was surprised when Penny shoved her back. “Blah, blah, you vant to suck my plasma? You thought you’d make a joke about it? That’s how you want to tell me you’re a vampire?” she scowled. “What ails you?”
“Ails me?” Anastasia clenched her fists. “I am trying to be honest and tell you why I believed you!”
“By showing me a seventy-year-old movie of yourself?”
“Seventy-one years. And I did it to prove to you I’m not lying!”
“There had to be another way,” Penny turned around and gestured at the sky, “I mean, can’t you turn into a bat or flap your arms and fly?”
“Flap my arms?” Anastasia was insulted. “Like an occult-forsaken bird?”
Penny broke out into a laugh, “You should see your face!”
Anastasia wanted to be angry, but relief made her join in on the laughter too. “I can actually turn into a bat,” she admitted, wiping tears from her eyes. “But I didn’t want to scare you. I was trying to be honest and—” she glanced down at her hand where she’d written Lilith’s instructions, “Vulnerable.”
Penny shook her head, “Okay, fine, well, I appreciate your honesty, but I’m not an idiot.”
“If there are werewolves, then it follows that there are other things that go bump in the night. When I asked why you believed me, I wasn’t suspicious of your motives; I was suspicious of you. You sprung into the media fully formed; you haven’t aged a day in a decade of acting. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to put it together.”
Or someone who was going through their own supernatural transition. “I see, and you’ve been feeling well? No unexpected symptoms? Nothing making you feel particularly wolfish when you eat?”
“I…” Penny blinked rapidly, rubbing at her neck, “I feel fine. I feel as good as anyone can feel being attracted to a dangerous predator with no reflection.”
“You noticed that?” Warmth rushed over Anastasia. Though they had lived together for years, Jimena never once realized that she was the only person in the house with a reflection.“So you do want to date me.”
Penny laughed. “I admit I like you, and I’m interested in seeing where this goes, though to be clear, I DO NOT want to end up on the cover of some tabloid.”
Anastasia shrugged. She could agree to that. Eventually, it would become impossible to keep this secret, but that was a problem for later, as was Penny’s werewolf transformation. It was clear she was going to need a different tactic given how deeply in denial the woman was. “If you figured me out, why did you pretend to be shocked?”
“Well, I was shocked,” Penny explained, “I didn’t expect you to say you were 900 years old.” She reached out a hand to touch Anastasia’s face but quickly drew it back. “Anyways, what was the rest of your plan for this date? I know you didn’t expect me to sit here and watch a million hours’ worth of your movies.”
Anastasia dug her toe into the dirt. “There are other movies.”
They set up in the bed of an old pickup truck. Penny motioned at the picnic basket. “I hope these snacks you packed include a steak or maybe some lamb chops. Oh, and you don’t have to fire up the projector; I’ve got way too many questions to start a movie right now.”
“Questions? I thought we’d do other things,” Anastasia suggested, waggling her eyebrows.
“A) You broke up with your girlfriend 5 seconds ago, and b) You just told me that you’re a 900-year-old vampire. If you wanted someone who wasn’t going to ask questions, you shouldn’t have tried dating a journalist, and if you wanted someone who was going to sleep with you while you’re still getting your emotional shit together, you shouldn’t have tried to date me.”
Anastasia didn’t have any idea what Penny was talking about. There was no “emotional shit” to manage. She had a hard enough time feeling anything for anyone; she certainly didn’t waste her efforts on random creatures she had no intention of keeping. “Fine,” she sighed, “Ask away.”
Penny’s eyes lit up, “Okay, first thing is first. Do you sleep in a coffin?”
“I prefer it, though I don’t really require much sleep at this age. A coffin is like being wrapped in a cozy little soundproof cocoon. The world is exhausting when you can hear, smell, sense everything.”
“And how do you keep it contained?”
“Keep what contained?”
“You know, your vampire side. How do you suppress it?”
Penny’s desperation to not be a werewolf was written all over her face. Anastasia could kill the werewolf who turned her against her will, she could be supportive and all the other shit Lilith suggested, but letting her live this fantasy of suppressing her nature was out of the question. “I have a dark form,” Anastasia said slowly, “It gives me access to the purest form of my powers. But I’m still a vampire when I look like this. I’m never not a vampire. Just like a witch is always a witch, and a werewolf is always a werewolf. The packaging is incidental.”
Penny backed off that line of questioning like she’d been burned, instead, turning her attention to the safe questions that could easily be filed under “Vampires 101.” Anastasia grew so bored that she started unpacking the picnic basket.
“Do you need to drink plasma to survive?”
The unpacking halted. That was a good question. “Yes, but why don’t you ask me what you really want to know?”
“Do you want plasma?” Penny bit her lip, “I mean do you want my plasma?”
“Want. Need. Crave.”
Nina’s Rental, Newcrest
As soon as they got out on the sidewalk, Caleb turned to her. “You have an idea about who Nina’s mysterious date was.”
She cleared her throat, “I do. The ‘Real Number One’ was the nickname of my other victim, Johnny Zest. I didn’t know he was a werewolf, or I guess, I don’t know how to tell if he was a werewolf. Is that something you can do?” she lowered her voice, “As a vampire?”
“You don’t have to whisper,” Caleb smirked, “And yes, werewolves have a particular smell. Everything does, actually. It’s a bit of a headache. Is Johnny connected to your first victim?”
“I’m not sure. His family definitely knows something, though.” She quickly explained to him about the Landgraabs.
He nodded. “The Landgraabs have been insufferable for as long as I’ve known them. Generations of rich, entitled assholes. Let’s start with Johnny’s body and see what it can tell us.”
“It’s a date.” The words were out of Bella’s mouth before she could stop them.
Caleb’s smile was dazzling.
The morgue was not the most cheerful of places, though Caleb didn’t seem bothered. “If I wasn’t doing this, Akira would be dragging me to another one of the magic duels.”
“Magic Duels? Is that a thing?” Bella didn’t even try to hide how excited she was.
He canted his head to the side, amusement playing over his features. “Yes, it’s a thing. Supernatural creatures are notoriously competitive. Magical duels for us are like sports teams for mortals. We could go sometime if you’re not busy….”
“I’m not,” Bella said quickly.
Caleb glanced down at her wedding ring.
She flushed. “I’m not busy,” she repeated, unsure of what she meant. Sometimes she felt like two Bellas. The one who followed her heart and dreams and the other who chose Mortimer and everything that came with it.
Caleb walked over to the slab and bent down close.
“Are you dead?” Bella blurted out. “Shit. I’m sorry, that was probably offensive.”
“Yes,” he agreed, his presence turning from playful to austere.
Aside from the roguish smile he wore when he was charming the pants off of Taryn, or quiet moments with Bella, Caleb’s entire presence was mostly austere.
“Did you cast some sort of vampire magic on Taryn? Is that what you even call it?”
He looked startled, and then he laughed. “I used vampiric charm. It’s nothing untoward. I didn’t force her to have feelings or do anything she was uncomfortable with; I’m not that adept, but I put her concerns at ease, and if she was sexually attracted to men, it would make her more open to hearing what I had to say.”
“Yeah, because that’s a thing men need,” Bella snorted. “Are there vampires who are really adept at it?”
“Yes,” he said without hesitation, “My uncle is a master. His vampiric allure is so strong that he could make a mortal walk across glass or light themselves on fire if they believed it would please him.
“That sounds horrifying,” Bella shivered.
He nodded. “It is. And as for the “me being dead” part, well, that’s a bit complicated.”
Bella again waited for him to elaborate. He didn’t. “Why don’t you explain it to me like I’m five?” she asked, using the placating voice she deployed for difficult interrogations.
Llamas bless him, he tried. But between the phrases “occult energy” and “necromancy,” Bella couldn’t make heads nor tails of what he was talking about.
Bella blinked slowly. “Are you saying death is a life state?”
He frowned. “Yes. But not for me. I’m not dead. If I were, I couldn’t die. I mean, I can’t die…mostly…or at least, I’m hard to kill. But I could cease to exist if someone were strong enough.”
Were all vampires like this? Bella was already planning to follow his advice and avoid meeting them, but holy shit, he was pretentious when he talked about himself. “You know what? I don’t think I really need to understand it. You exist. That’s enough.”
Caleb looked relieved. “You don’t look ready to run screaming.”
“I’m mostly into fainting,” she teased, watching as he stood over Johnny’s body and inhaled with rapt attention.When he stepped back, there was a thoughtful look on his face.
“Johnny smells like a werewolf, but he’s not one.”
“Oh,” Bella sighed, “That’s disappointing. But also sort of comforting. At least he wasn’t another monster hiding in plain sight.”
“Supernaturals,” Caleb said in a way that made her realize her mistake, “Don’t have to work hard. Mortals are largely unobservant.”
“I’m a detective,” she reminded him.
Damn it, there was her mouth again. She didn’t mean to imply that he was a monster.
“And all I said was that Johnny wasn’t a werewolf,” Caleb continued, “He reeks of magic.”
“So the Landgraabs are witches?”
“That’s just it,” he replied, “They’re not.”
Bella thought about Malcolm and his last words to her. She was sure the little snot-nosed brat was brushing her off, but he was actually giving her a clue:
Johnny Zest is not a real Landgraab.
NEXT TIME, ON THE STRAUDS:
Trailer: “Kick in the Door” by the Notorious B.I.G.
Morgue by Ladymess1 (the cleverest morgue I’ve ever seen on the gallery!)
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)
Song is “Lacrimosa” by Tech N9ne
Abduction Pack by Cicada Game
12 Emotional Conversations by Sinnora Sims 4
Sims 4 Animation Pack #11 (Running) by Sinnora Sims 4
Animation Pack #17 by StorySimmer
Standing Up (TS4) by WTS
Animation Pack #7 by SovaSims
Unexpected Meeting by Cicada Game
Animation at the Sink by Grindana